Pamela Gockley

Pamela Gockley

Friday, 22 September 2017 18:08

Step away from the 3 inch screen

Stop Hiding Behind Your 3inch Screen


Status Quo to Innovation


ecstatic businessman500

Most people have heard or read they need to build relationships to succeed. Usually, this information is presented without the action steps you need to follow to accomplish this as a goal. Unfortunately, many fall short, simply for lack of direction or a specific plan to implement.

As the business environment continues to change, the way we do business must also continually follow the client's needs. Relationship building has replaced the diminished marketing strength of leading with the brand.
People want to buy from people, not be "sold" blindly or robotically by a brand, logo or font devoid of personality and empathy (and a face with a smile). Since it is almost impossible to start or build a relationship behind a 3-inch screen, we suggest and hope you consider trying the Reputation strategy for relationship building. Relationship Building is the primary focus of the Reputation strategy. As a business consultant, we focus on relationship building in Customer Service, Sales, and Marketing because these areas involve direct contact with clients. We facilitate and nurture the transition from status quo Brand to innovated Reputation strategy.
The 4Ds of Reputation breaks the bonds of brand status quo and moves to innovation, using reputation.

We start by (1) Discovering the level of relationship the business is currently at, then, (2) Defines the goal to (3) Development of communication channels to achieve these aims. Finally, (4) Defend, to keep us at the level we want.
We apply the 4Ds to our goal of building relationships that result in growth and streamlined business processes.

 


There are four stages of Relationship:
Cold: There is no connection or need for your services at this time. Typically, this is when we cold call people on a list. The list can be from a Chamber of Commerce, a local networking group, or a national organization. Many times these lists are an overlooked opportunity that business owners fail to utilize.
Warm: Potential clients found your website or heard word of mouth recommendations because of need. There is a need for your services, but they may not be ready to purchase. They have just begun the search for someone to resolve the problem.
Hot: The trifecta! This is when someone has a need; your service was recommended by someone they respect, and they are interested in and able to buy your services. They will reach out to you for your services. Get out of their way, and close the sale.
Simmer: When happy customers are recommending your services, and new customers that are willing and able to buy are calling you.
So our goal is to walk through the 4Ds to reach the Hot stage. Then, have the processes in place to remain at Simmer. As you apply the 4Ds, the next steps are revealed. There is no magic bullet or instructions with a checklist. The 4Ds is a process that can be applied to your business and its pure uniqueness. If applied correctly, the next step and actions are clear. The result of a strong relationship is a solid reputation. A solid reputation is the product of a strong relationship. It's like the chicken or the egg story. In the end, does it matter, so long as the phone is ringing

Wednesday, 30 November 2016 01:38

Finding Your Target Market

Many organizations struggle with identifying their target markets. Many times, they have an honorable cause, which is affecting them personally, without really asking “who” it is for. They are unlikely to identify a target market and ask, “Who else will this benefit?”
"While it is relatively straightforward to develop general advertising for the masses, devoting time and resources to identify more targeted markets can help you maximize your marketing ROI." Chuck Cohn, Forbes, Feb. 6, 2015
The makeup of the targeted groups creates the “operations manuals”, especially the customer contact areas of business: customer service, sales, and marketing. Without having an accurate compass reading of your customers, you may be targeting the wrong market or a target market that is too broad/wide. A well crafted, non-burdensome survey can build a strong personal relationship with your customers in multipliable ways.
Most organizations want to touch everyone, which is impossible. We can’t market to everyone, everywhere, all the time. To not overwhelm the process, we break it down into logical steps. These steps will be monitored and updated as the target markets change. The change can be seeing a trend to a new market and changes within a working target market. If the process is done correctly, we will be selling to everyone, everywhere, and all the time
The Reputation Strategy became relevant after the economy crashed in 2008. Customer’s behaviors changed, and Reputation became an important factor in purchasing products.
A Reputation Strategy will grow your organization.

Friday, 12 August 2016 16:51

Combating Spam: The Whack-A-Mole and Jenga Strategy


Combating Spam Email in 2016
The Whack-A-Mole and Jenga Strategy

   
Spam email continues to be a growing problem in business. It is expensive and time-consuming. There are a few solutions to spam, but the increasing amount of spam is compounding the problem. The question is not if a spam attack will occur, but when, and how well the target of the hack is prepared. We use the Whack-A-Mole metaphor to describe the reactionary principle of combating spam. Security software writes fixes after an attack, usually in the form of a patch to the current software we have installed to protect us. The Jenga is used to describe the precautionary principle of combating spam. This is partnering with an experienced hosting company and qualified website developer to provide security before hand, and in a preventive manner after the attack.
We provide our clients with website and email hosting. Email and website security are intertwined and both affect the other. Our best practices include both reactionary and preventive principles. Many business owners that choose to self-direct email and websites are unaware of the technical aspects of creating and maintaining a website and email. It is complicated, and getting more so. A hacker’s attack is expensive and time consuming to fix. Most owners do not have the level of expertise to recover from these attacks. Most have to hire outside companies to clean computers, networks and websites of the infected code, hoping with fingers crossed that the website files or computer programs are not damaged, destroyed, or otherwise compromised.
There are two common scenarios we deal with on a weekly basis where business owners get themselves into a dangerous situation.
Scenario One, Website Hosting:
A business owner hires someone with some level of computer expertise, often a photographer, computer repair person, or a graphic designer to design a new website. Because of their inexperience, we call them Fake Internet Professionals. FIP’s always use cheap hosting companies. You get what you pay for, and cheap hosting has little to no technical support. Owners will spend hours on the phone to correct any issues. The owners have every intention of maintaining the website. The problem is that they don’t understand that maintenance also means they need to upgrade the software platform (back-end), not just the content and images (front end). They simply don’t know how to maintain the back end properly. So the website is susceptible to hackers.
Scenario Two, Email Practices:
Most legitimate businesses use a domain address. Many business owners are unaware of the need to protect their email just like locking the office when you leave at night or setting a pass code on cell phones. Two of the easiest practices to implement are spam software in-house, and a no-attachment policy. These are both preventive policies.
1. Keeping the spam software up to date on all workstations with all the security updates from the manufacturer, it’s critical. Most send warnings and notifications that an update is available. Make it mandatory.
2. The second policy is to implement “never-open-an-attachment” and “never-click-on-the-link” email policies. Just delete them, then delete them from the trash, and finally, delete them from the Recycle Bin. Simply deleting the email from your Inbox is not enough.
There are many hi-tech basics that business owners should know and embrace. Below, we pick our top three:
1. Create a few web-based email addresses like Yahoo, Gmail, MSN, (web-based.com), etc.
A. One email address should be used for entering all those free trips to faraway places, a super-duper free e-book or free whatever websites. It is for email that can be deleted and is not important.
B. We suggest another email for any purchases made online, or networking groups, or associations. An email address you can use, but only need to check periodically.
C. A third email address should be the name of your.business: @web-based.com. Never use your business domain email address except for business.
2. Be prepared to create a new domain email address. Email addresses have a shelf life, so don’t get personally attached to it. I had the same email address for ten years, but then it started receiving too much spam and had been added to too many junk mail lists. We created a new one, and it solved the issue.
3. Ease of use usually means open for problems. Ease of use or DIY (Do it yourself) self-directed website generator software means there is a lot of back-end coding. Some common DIY platforms are SquareSpace, Wix, and Wordpress. The more code in these platforms offers more opportunity for hackers to gain access to your website.
More Insight: Cheap hosting companies have thousands of sites on one server. They maintain tens of thousands of servers, both in-house or cloud based. They are not responsible if your DIY website software is not updated and it gets hacked. Most do not have backup capabilities to restore the site if the hackers damage or destroy the website files. These hosting companies are not responsible if viruses are received through emails and these emails damage or destroy your computer or company network and affect all the computers in your business. You are responsible if your company is sending corrupted files and viruses to other businesses. They are only responsible if the server is down.
At the end of the day, the front end of using the Internet is getting easier, thanks to Website templates, drop-n-drag programs, one-click installation and free open-source platforms. The back end, coding, and security continue to get more complicated and specialized. Most FIP’s can’t even transfer a domain, let alone keep a site secure, or recover a site when it is hacked, or a computer is infected with a malicious virus.
Like an insurance policy, be should you know what you have, and the level of expertise. Spam email is getting worse, and hackers are elevating their reach and frequency. They can hack into your website and infect your in-house computer network, which can infect everyone in your professional network/database. Unlike DIY hosting, we manage, monitor and maintain our servers. We can’t stop hacker attacks, but we are prepared for a fight to keep your company data safe and secure. Is your current hosting company and web site service provider similarly prepared?

 

Thursday, 28 July 2016 20:16

Ego Shots: Triggers for Growth

 

As consultants to business, we set internal personal benchmarks and goals for our clients. Most of these are not shared with the owner or manager at the outset. We share this information after the clients reach the benchmarks and goals. As we observe and gather in-depth research on how the business operates, we look for areas of the firm where “the same old, same old” has become the status quo. Most common is when the status quo is at a comfort level in the business that obstructs growth. Some general status quos include not actively seeking feedback from clients, having outdated information on the website, or when marketing has stopped. Complacency is a big red flag for us and commonly encountered when the company is running the owner, which indicates passivity. It isn’t a good environment for a healthy, growing business.

The most common benchmark for our clients is the Ego Shot. The Ego Shot is a business phenomenon that is rather easy to identify. The tricky part is correcting the issue that has threaded its way throughout the firm. Sometimes it is embedded into the core fabric of the business, and the mind of the owner.

So just what is an Ego Shot? It is when an owner or manager discovers a critical flaw in the theme, a process, or in the operations of the business and consciously decides to do nothing. Most common is negative feedback from a customer. We see the issue, but usually cannot tell the owner or manager: they have to discover it on their own, with a bit of help. A good consultant will set the stage for the "ah-ha" moment. After this time of clarity, it should cause a ripple effect that reaches all corners of the business. The ripple effects are from the changes that will be happening. These changes need to be managed, and employees need to be informed what is going on.

Ego Shots are becoming more common because experienced owners or managers can get tunnel vision, and new owners or managers seem to know everything. They have access to information 24/7 but lack the practical experience of dealing with clients. They may have a strong understanding, but can lack the experience and finesse to apply the knowledge.

As painful as Ego Shots may be at the time they occur, the results usually open a path to the awareness that leads to building a healthy growing business. In the rare occurrence that you have not experienced an Ego Shot, the question is not if, but when it will occur. When it does, be sure you have a professional team to challenge the status quo and to manage the ripple effect on the employees.

Monday, 18 July 2016 14:26

The Top 10 Dirty Little Secrets About Website Development


The last two decades have seen a lot of change in how business operates and how consumers buy products and services.
In terms of marketing, the do-it-yourself trend to developing websites is troublesome. Each platform has its differences, so search thoroughly before you choose to use these types of website platform tools.
Essentially, though, if it sounds too good to be true, it is. If it's too cheap, quick and easy, it can't be good, because websites are complicated to build.
FIPs (fake internet professionals) exist in every industry, not just the internet. The things they have in common include the ability to lay out the problem and to make you feel as if you are the only one that has the issue.
The truth is you are not alone, and if solving the problems were easy, everyone would have solved them by now. The problem would no longer exist.
Here are 10 general things to look for and to be aware. Because platforms each have their specific details, this is a general listing that may or may not apply to the one you're searching.

(1) Do a Google search for the name of the platform you are investigating and add the word “scam” or “problems” in the search bar.
(2) Most platforms use proprietary software which allows the user to drop-and-drag and point-and-click in a template generator.
(3) You are renting (you do not own) the use of the template, and you only own the images and content that you add.
(4) The platform cannot be moved. When you become dissatisfied, you cannot move your site; you have to start over.
(5) You have no access to the code and do not have the ability to customize the look or add functionality.
(6) Most do not offer email, so you will have an additional fee for domain email.
(7) Most require control/ownership of your domain.
(8) Slow response and access, if any, to tech support and customer services.
(9) Most are expensive, around $150 per month.
(10) You have no choice, and must host your site with them.

This trend of business owners creating and maintaining websites can become very costly in both dollars and time spent on the website. The platforms are easy to use but have dirty little secrets that can devastate a business and its customers and give a false feeling of a job well done.
A website is a living communication channel or tool that provides a current and future track record of the business. It is your public presence and it creates and sets expectations of the level of professionalism and quality of doing business with you – good or bad.
Two questions you should ask before moving forward with a DIY platform:
Does the website platform equal or surpass the quality of your work?
Is a DIY platform good enough for your existing and future customers?
We don't know what we don't know. Well-credentialed and experienced website creation and management companies will do dozens of things on your behalf as the routine of creating your site.
A fake internet professional who struggles to assume the servicing of your online presence, for example, will most likely come up short in other finesse areas as well, such as search engine optimization and functionality techniques.
Not only do you risk your online reputation, you won't be aware of the problem because it is not your area of expertise. Plunging sales figures may be your only clue, but how do you attribute the problem to something you don't even know about?
You can't correct a problem until you know what it is, and don't look to your chosen fake internet professional for solutions because frequently it is naïve beyond the basics.
Of course, some bottom-fishing business owners see only cost as the deciding factor. Their customers don't think or buy that way. They want/deserve functionality and a professional look and feel, with no navigation problems, easy contact and support from empowered customer service reps.
You may think you are saving cash, but you'll never see the orders you don't get. While cost control is important to any business, it is very unusual for a company to cost-control itself into a profit.
Sooner or later, it will need sales, and today, that means having parity with competitors, both in person and online.
There can be a world of difference between cheap and reasonable. The easiest way to start this process is to confirm – not just think or feel – that your website and domain are your property.
Consultant, speaker and author Pamela S. Gockley is president, CEO and chairman of Reputatus, which offers business consulting specializing in marketing, customer service and sales. She can be reached at 610-916-2652 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Wednesday, 15 June 2016 17:36

Design is Design is Design

Design is Design is Design
Can creatives run a business?


Creative minds design everything from art, literature to cars. It is hard to image the world without creative artistic people and their leading edge innovations.

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.” Steve Jobs

According to senior writer, Carolyn Gregoire at the Huffington Post, “… psychologically speaking, creative personality types are difficult to pin down, largely because they’re complex, paradoxical and tend to avoid habit or routine.”

Going a step further, “It’s actually hard for creative people to know themselves because the creative self is more complex than the non-creative self,” Scott Barry Kaufman, a psychologist at New York University. “Resilience is practically a prerequisite for creative success,” said Kaufman. “Doing creative work is often described as a process of failing repeatedly until you find something that sticks, and creatives — at least the successful ones — learn not to take failure so personally.”

We found that these attributes parallel in an uncanny way how creatives run a business. In general, business practices are routine, and some people, find them boring and mundane. To be sure, being creative with accounting practices could lead to legal trouble with the IRS. The business practices of customer service, sales and marketing also seem to fall into this area. Business needs to have processes in these areas in order to grow, to run smoothly, and operate efficiently. Once the proven processes are in place, they can be replicated by staff or consultants.
For example, some companies have a structure and their entire reputation built on creativity. It’s why people contact them for services, looking for a unique design component, like in landscaping, website, or kitchen design.


            • A landscape is designed; it is worked into a beautiful outside living space for the family.
            • A website is coded and published based on the customers’ experience with the product
            • A kitchen is designed to fit the lifestyle of the family who will use it.


Everything is awesome, and everyone is in a euphoric fog with high fives all around. Then, reality begins to set in a week or so later, and the ‘new’ of the design begins wearing off. The weeds take over the yard, the information and dates are passed, and the kitchen floors are sticky. It is unlikely that the creatives gave any thought or plan about maintenance. A maintenance plan is a required but often ignored part of a successful design. But planned maintenance—ho-hum!- is often not within the skill set or the realm of creatives.

To conclude, it is a catch twenty-two situation: You have to be creative to envision the design of your client’s dreams, but have to run the business profitably and efficiently to be able to continue to produce the designs. That involves the mundane tasks of work scheduling, accounting, tax and bill paying, invoicing, and other tasks. A successful business plan allows and compensates for personalities and shortcomings, first by recognizing them, and then by hiring strength to balance weaknesses. What’s at stake, of course, is customer satisfaction, return business, and marketplace reputation.

 

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