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Thursday, November 19, 2020

Lesson #332: One Bad Employee Can Tarnish Your Entire Brand

Posted By: George Deeb - 11/19/2020

  In business, a company's reputation can often come down to the lowest common denominator, the actions of one specific individual, espe...


In business, a company's reputation can often come down to the lowest common denominator, the actions of one specific individual, especially in small companies.  Look at the image on this post--do your eyes gravitate to all the beautiful green apples, or does it focus on that one rotten apple, that spoils an otherwise perfect picture.  It is often the same thing in business, where the bad actions of one, can overshadow the otherwise perfect actions of others.  Allow me to explain with this case study.

The Situation

At one of our clients' companies, they had a employee that had been with the company for many years.  She was largely a rock star for most of those years.  She had been the company's best selling salesperson, she gave her customers terrific customer service, and they loved her for it.  And, they kept coming back year after year, loyal to the company and that specific salesperson.

But, about a year ago, something started to change.  Her sales started to plummet.  Instead of being the highest-ranked salesperson, she dropped to the lowest-ranked salesperson.  And, her service levels also started to drop off, where many customer calls were going unanswered and tasks were no longer getting done.  When the company's owners investigated further with this employee, she admitted that she had been having health problems. where she could not focus on her work or organize herself.

The Initial Attempt to Resolve

Given the employee's long tenure of success with the company, the owners wanted to try and help her through these difficult times.  They helped consult the employee on where to find medical assistance, which she took them up on.  The doctors and therapists quickly diagnosed the condition as adult ADHD, prescribed medications and other treatments, and suggested things would be better and back to normal in a couple months.  So, the owner's of the business patiently waited for the employees' health and performance to return back to historical levels.

The Damage Done in the Interim

The resulting damage from this employee's poor work performance really started to pile up.  Firstly, the company was losing revenues from the unconverted leads that were sent her way.  Many of these leads vocalized their frustrations to the company, willing to give the business another chance with a different salesperson.  But, the vast majority did not, and decided to take their business elsewhere.  And, secondly, the operational mistakes really started to pile up, with customers having major problems with their orders.  This caused the company to have to offer refunds as a mea culpa, and really started to tarnish the company's brand and reputation, and negative customer reviews started to flood into the website.  And, that didn't even talk about the fellow employees that were witnessing this poor behavior, and wondering what was going on, and how the owners were going to resolve it.

The Second Attempt to Resolve

After many months of patience (and continued lost sales and service breaks), the employee's performance never improved back to historical levels.  The employee even suggested that the owners create some financial disincentives for undesired performance, which they did without any success or change in behavior.  The owners really had no choice, but to cut ties with the former "golden girl", as the parties came up with a mutually acceptable separation.  Which to the owners, was like saying goodbye to a loved family member, you were never going to see again.

The Key Takeaway Here

Cutting ties with employees you like personally and professionally, is very hard to do.  The owners kept hoping that old "rockstar" would walk back into the room, and that never happened despite a year of trying.  But, the damage done to the company's brand in the meantime was immense.  The company got a lot of egg in its face, had to make lots of apologies and refunds, and turned away dozens of prospective customers that would never be coming back to the company.  And, it doesn't matter if those customers had originally started with a different salesperson that would have served them brilliantly.  At this point, that one "bad apple" had spoiled the entire "bushel" from a brand perspective in how they perceived the entire company.  Which is unfortunate, as the company really does deliver incredible customer service, other than this isolated situation.

So, during times like this, sometimes you have no choice but to rip off the Band-Aid, regardless of how painful it may be.  If you can't quickly resolve the situation with your employee, you need to make changes quickly that will best serve your customers.  If you wait too long, you may never get those loyal customers and lost leads back.  Which at that point, that outcome would be a self-inflicted wound by the owners for not acting fast enough in correcting a known material issue inside the company.  Don't let that be you.

For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

[VIDEO] George Deeb Discusses Mergers & Acquisitions Strategies (on ASBN)

Posted By: George Deeb - 11/03/2020

  I was recently interviewed by the  Atlanta Small Business Network  (ASBN), an online "television network" serving the small busi...


I was recently interviewed by the Atlanta Small Business Network (ASBN), an online "television network" serving the small business community, about mergers and acquisitions strategies for small businesses, both as a buyer and a seller.  I thought this video turned out great, and I wanted to share it with all of you, to help you learn how to grow your business through M&A.  I hope you like it!!


The embedded video player didn't give me the option to change the size of this video.  But, if you want to see a bigger version, simply click the expand size button in the player above, or feel free to watch it on the ASBN website.

Thanks again to Jim Fitzpatrick and the ASBN team for having me on the show.  I look forward to our next interview together.

For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb.

Friday, October 23, 2020

The 5 Steps to Selecting the Best Advertising Agency

Posted By: George Deeb - 10/23/2020

If you are investing material dollars in marketing campaigns, more often than not, you have considered engaging, or have engaged, an adverti...

If you are investing material dollars in marketing campaigns, more often than not, you have considered engaging, or have engaged, an advertising agency to assist you with those efforts. Those decisions whether or not to manage your marketing campaigns with in-house teams versus third-party agencies are typically not easy. And if you decide to outsource to an agency, the selection process can be overwhelming. This post will help make those decisions easier for you.

Read the rest of this post in Entrepreneur, which I guest authored this week.

For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb.

Friday, October 2, 2020

Why Google's Search Page Redesign is the Death of SEO

Posted By: George Deeb - 10/02/2020

I have been a digital marketer for more than 20 years, which seems like an eternity at this point. Google has always been a staple of any go...

I have been a digital marketer for more than 20 years, which seems like an eternity at this point. Google has always been a staple of any good digital marketing strategy, especially for search engine optimization (SEO), to attract free organic traffic based on the quality of the content on your page. But, when we recently started to see our SEO traffic start to decline, we asked our SEO consultant to investigate the root cause. He said it was due to a recent Google Search page redesign, moving the free organic links to the bottom of the search results page. Even more troubling was his answer on how to fix the situation.

"Start spending more money advertising with Google to get back up to the top of the page,” he said. That's a very strange thing for an SEO expert to say because his services aren't needed in that scenario. This means SEO as a strategy for ecommerce-driven companies is dying, and paid search marketing has become your primary way to gain an audience through the search engines, at least through industry-leading Google. Allow me to further explain.

Read the rest of this post in Entrepreneur, which I guest authored this week.

For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

It's Time for 2021 Business Planning--Red Rocket Can Help

Posted By: George Deeb - 9/29/2020

As we are about to start the fourth quarter of 2020, that means there are only three months left to complete your 2021 business plans.  If y...

As we are about to start the fourth quarter of 2020, that means there are only three months left to complete your 2021 business plans.  If you need any help running your team through a strategic planning process, building budgets, detailing your sales and marketing plans or simply need an executive coach to help guide you through this process with a fresh set of eyes, Red Rocket is here to help.  Contact us to set up an appointment with one of our experts today, via the form at the bottom of this page.

For future posts, please follow us on Twitter at: @RedRocketVC.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Lesson #331: Master Your Marketing Funnel and Media Mix

Posted By: George Deeb - 9/25/2020

  One of the biggest struggles that companies have is knowing how to build an effective and profitable marketing funnel and media mix, and u...


One of the biggest struggles that companies have is knowing how to build an effective and profitable marketing funnel and media mix, and using the right metrics to manage such efforts.  And, for most startups, they really don't have the budgets to build an effective full funnel strategy, and typically focus on more immediate cash returning lower funnel tactics.  This post will help you learn the various stages of the marketing funnel, the right tactics and metrics to explore at each stage of the funnel and how to translate that into an effective media mix.

What is the Marketing Funnel

A marketing funnel is the process of making prospective customers aware of your brand in the first place, and then nurturing them over time into buying customers.  The upper funnel is making sure you have brand awareness to prospective buyers.  The middle funnel is making sure your brand is actively being considered when a customer is actively researching their options.  And, the lower funnel is doing everything you can to convert known active in-market buyers to purchase your product. The next stages, typically forgotten by most companies, are getting your customers to become loyal repeat buyers, and more importantly, to become impassioned brand advocates spreading positive word-of-mouth referrals to prospective new customers.

To help visualize this, take a look at this graphic from Marketing Edge Magazine showing the typical marketing funnel:

The Stages of the Marketing Funnel

Let's provide a little more definition to each of the above funnel stages for clarity:

Awareness:  A person is aware of your brand, whether they are buying right now or not.  If someone asks, what is the biggest brand names in soda makers, the names Pepsi and Coke come immediately to mind.  Unaided brand awareness is best, as top of mind with customers without any help.  Followed by aided brand awareness when presenting a list of companies in the space, and them recognizing your brand on the list.

Interest:  A person begins to learn more about your brand and offering, perhaps reading about it in an article or seeing it promoted in an advertisement. 

Consideration:  A person is in-market for products you sell, and is willing to learn more about your specific product.  Often comparing your brand to others at this stage, perhaps on reviews sites.

Evaluation:  A person has narrowed down the list to a couple finalists, and is digging into all the details and differences between various brands, product features and pricing.

Decision:  A person has decided that this one brand or product is the specific one they want to move forward with, when they are ready to buy.

Purchase:  The person officially becomes a customer, swiping their credit card on their first transaction with your company.

Repeat:  That same person has purchased multiple times from your business.  That can either be the same product in higher frequency, or new products altogether.

Loyalty:  That same person is dedicated to purchasing from your brand, anytime they have the need.  They would not consider other brands given their past satisfaction with your brand.

Advocacy:  That person is so passionate about your product, they start to spread the "gospel" and positive word-of-mouth referrals to their friends and family.  And, even better, they are promoting your brand on social media to all their followers (which in turn, helps to profitably build your upper funnel with new prospects).

Using the Appropriate Media Tactics at Each Funnel Stage

This diagram from Visual Paradigm does a good job of showing how you need to tailor your marketing efforts to each of the specific funnel stages:

At the top of the funnel, you are trying to get as much reach as possible, to make sure the market is aware of your brand.  Large brands may do this in television advertising, and startups may do this in more affordable social media advertising.  Once a user makes an action that signals that they are in-market for your products, you want to make sure they are aware of you on review sites and the search engines during their middle funnel consideration stage.  And, once they engage with your site, your lower funnel tactics will take over with things like digital retargeting ads and email follow ups.

But, getting them to buy is only half of the exercise, now you want to get them to buy again (through your email newsletter promotions and joining your customer loyalty program).  And, you want to ask them for positive reviews of your products and to share their love of your product or brand with their social media followers, turning them into brand ambassadors.  As you know, acquiring customers through positive word-of-mouth for free is a lot cheaper than trying to acquire customers with expensive advertising upper funnel.

Using the Appropriate Measurement Metrics at Each Stage

One of the biggest mistakes a company makes is using the same marketing metric across each of the funnel stages.  For example, they compare their cost of acquiring a customer (CAC) to everyone one of their marketing tactics.  If they did that, they would immediate bias lower funnel tactics, as the CAC from in-market lower funnel buyers will be a fraction of out-of-market upper funnel prospects.  That bias may help them drive an immediate ROI on their marketing spend, focusing on the most profitable tactics, but it would hurt them in terms of investing upper funnel and building long term brand awareness with which to better scale the company long term.

To me, your upper funnel would be measured on a cost per impression (CPM) or cost per visitor (CPV) metric, your middle funnel would be measured on a cost per lead (CPL) metric, and your lower funnel would be measured on a cost per acquisition (CPA) metric.  If you set the appropriate metrics for each stage, you will have a much higher odds of scaling your business long term.  It may be a little less profitable in the first few months of "funnel building", but long term you will have a much bigger and more profitable business, than if you simply focused on the lower funnel alone.

Doing the Appropriate Media Mix Modeling 

I prefer to grow my business profitably, not on a grab market share at any cost basis to "own" the market in the short run and drive profits in the long run (after years of huge losses).  So, with that as my guide, I typically split my media mix: 20% upper funnel brand building, 30% middle funnel development, and 50% driving lower funnel conversions.  That will give profits a "fighting chance" for success in the near term, within a few months of starting a campaign.

But, the mix here can be highly variable based on your customer sales cycle.  Let's say you are selling expensive automobiles and customers only buy a car every 5-10 years.  That will take a really long time for your upper funnel brand building to pay back.  So, maybe you should focus more on middle and lower funnel tactics only, to drive a more immediate return on your investment.  And, on the flip side, let's say you are selling an affordable consumable with a high repeat purchase cycle (e.g., Starbucks Coffee).  In that case, you may want to invest more upper funnel, to quickly build up the brand awareness and lock out competitors, as any losses you may incur in the short run from your media spend, will be recouped from the repeat purchases in the following months.

Concluding Thoughts

Doing your marketing funnel planning and media mix modeling is not easy, especially for first timers.  So, make sure you surround yourself by smart mentors, consultants or ad agencies that have deep expertise in this area, to ensure you don't flush your limited marketing dollars down the toilet.  But, hopefully, you now have a better understanding of how it works to help point you in the right direction to building a truly great brand, marketing success, revenue growth and bottom line profit.  If you have any questions on this stuff, don't hesitate to reach out to one of our fractional CMOs to help you with your marketing strategies and planning efforts.

For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb.


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