Will Batman Save Your Messaging?

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Six Tips From The Caped Crusader To Help Tell Your Story

Channel surfing one weekend morning, I came across an episode of The Batman TV series produced in the late 1960s.

The Riddler holds Robin hostage to trap Batman. While searching for Robin, Batman opens the trunk of the Batmobile to use the Mobile Crime Computer which connects to the Bat Cave’s main computer and provides the information to solve the riddle.

Holy Al Gore! Batman created the Internet!

The typical story begins with a villain committing a crime, such as stealing a fabulous gem or taking over Gotham City. Commissioner Gordon and Chief O’Hara either press a button on the Bat Phone or use the Bat Signal to reach Batman. The scene then cuts to ‘stately Wayne Manor’ where Alfred the butler answers.

In this particular episode, Batman uses the Bat Gauge, the Emergency Bat-Turn Lever, the Bat Ray Projector and of course the multipurpose Bat Laser.

It all made me realize Batman is the Caped Crusader of Messaging. Taking a cue from the Riddler, answer these questions to tell your story more effectively:

What’s the Big Idea? Having witnessed the murder of his parents as a child, Bruce Wayne swore revenge on criminals, an oath tempered with a sense of justice. The series revolves around this big idea.

Who’s your target? The show targets kids and parents with a Good vs. Evil theme and moral lessons like the importance of homework, using seat belts and drinking milk thrown in.

Their Why or Your What? The Bam! Boom! Kapow! during fights. Da na na na na na na na na na na Batman! The booming narrator’s voice. Sappy? Maybe. Memorable? For sure. Make your messaging about your customer’s “why” more than your “what” and “how.”

Less or More? The Riddler’s ?. The Joker’s smile. The Penguin’s umbrella and top hat. Crisp visual imagery conveying one idea helps tell the story.

Can you keep it simple? Everything is labeled in big, bold letters. Laughing Gas.The Universal Drug Antidote. Detect-A-Scope. Everyone knows what’s going on. The simpler, the better.

What’s Your Story? Each episode follows the same storytelling path. The teaser. The introduction of the villain. Commissioner Gordon, Chief O’Hara, Alfred. Robin’s phrases. Batman’s life lessons. The fight. The music. The villain gets the upper hand but loses in the end.

Cue that booming voice: Will you implement Batman’s messaging tips? Can you tell your story in a more memorable way?

What Would Make You Fire a Client?

Image courtesy of www.dougrichardson.com.

Image courtesy of www.dougrichardson.com.

Create Your Company’s “You’re Fired” List
And Weed Out Energy Sappers

Some adages are passed on from generation to generation. For example, “The customer is always right” has been drilled into our minds. The original intent was to emphasize that customers are the lifeblood of all companies and why we are in business.

However, the phrase can lead to an “Us vs. Them” mindset when customers misuse it for personal advantage. In the course of growing a business, we’ve had to fire some clients and run from a few prospects. In other cases, we kept customers that we shouldn’t have and paid the price for it.

The Customer is Not Always Right
Difficult customers with unrealistic expectations consume too many resources and more importantly sap precious positive energy from employees. Typically, your unreasonable customers aren’t satisfied, your team grows frustrated and margins decline because of the additional resources utilized.

I understand why the phrase grew popular. Put the customer first. Make it about them. But no one, customer or not, is always right.

Define What a Good, Bad and OK Customer is to You
That’s why it’s important for you and your leadership team to clearly define what your ideal customer looks like. What are their wants and needs? What will satisfy them? Qualify prospects based on the Good, OK and Bad profiles.

You might have a customer that isn’t ideal but still receives value from your product or service and falls into the “OK” category. They’re keepers that you hope to move into the ideal space. The key is to know what your past bad customers look like and how they treated your team.

Be clear on expectations for both sides. Spell out what is required of your team and the customer. Then cut loose those that ignore those expectations.

Create Your Company’s “You’re Fired” List
Know in advance what the fireable offenses are. For us, clients have to treat our team with respect and be willing to have healthy strategic discussions around their marketing and messaging. Otherwise, we’re both just going through the motions and neither party is satisfied. They also have to be fair and realistic about the value of our services. We’re both in business to make a profit. Companies that see the relationship as win-lose aren’t for us.

Figuring out who your ideal customers are and staying away from the bad ones is a challenging task for any business. Formally build your list, communicate it to your team and live by it.

 

MASSolutions President & CEO on Johnstown Live

Dave Mastovich, President & CEO of MASSolutions, spoke to listeners of Johnstown Live about marketing and branding for organizations of any size.

Click these links to hear clips from his radio interview.

The Problem with Saying ‘That’s Not My Problem’

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You’ve heard it. Heck, you might even say or think it from time to time.

“That’s Not My Problem.”

It could be related to a customer issue or a flawed work process. Or another department or team member is responsible for a task or project you know isn’t progressing as it should.

Yet when a new idea is proposed, many people point out potential negatives or say nothing. The new approach is met with little or no support and even resistance.

These and other examples make the ‘Not My Problem’ Problem one of the biggest roadblocks to positive change.

When you learn of a new approach, ask yourself: “Does the current way maximize the opportunity?” If the answer is anything less than a resounding “Yes,” give the new idea a chance and work to understand the “why” behind it.

If you’re the person promoting change, present the rationale behind the idea and the metrics you will use to evaluate it. Remember it’s human nature to fear a loss of control or an increased workload resulting from a new process. Show how the new way helps each group impacted by the change.

Communicate clearly and often. Create a sense of urgency among the troops. Point out what they lose by standing pat and what they gain by moving forward. Think beyond your immediate area to how other departments will be impacted. Acknowledge there could be challenges during the transition.

Listen to constructive feedback but be firm with naysayers focusing only on the negatives. If you don’t hear from some people, a common mistake is to misperceive their silence as support of your idea. You need to probe to find out what they really think and flesh out potential roadblocks.

Your communication before, during and after implementing the change will have as much impact on the success as the change itself. Create a communication plan prior to implementing the new approach. Work the plan. Ask for feedback. Listen and adjust based on what you learn.

No problem, right?

Integrate March Madness Into Your Marketing

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March Madness is upon us. The time of year when leaders motivate their teams to stay focused and avoid distractions.

But I’m not talking about NCAA basketball coaches and their players preparing for the postseason. Companies and their managers face the challenge of maintaining productivity while employees follow the NCAA tournament.

Research studies estimate between 70 and 80 million employees will devote work time to the NCAA tournament and their brackets. The NCAA is the big winner with more than $1 billion in tournament ad revenues. On the other hand, employers are projected to lose $1.8 billion in worker productivity.

Should companies fight the March Madness Mindset at work? Nope. That would be like picking your bracket based on team mascots. Instead, companies should integrate March Madness into reaching and influencing key target markets, one of which is employees. Here are your “starting five” tips to do so:

  1. Don’t block website access: Blocked shots are a good thing but blocked website access isn’t. The long term negative impact on employee morale will outweigh any short term productivity gains during the tournament.
  2. Create your own company pool: Leverage the NCAA Tournament to foster a team culture. Build your pool any way you want. Departments could compete against each other. Do a weekly or daily version of the brackets to increase involvement. It’s not so much “the how” as “the what”: Make March Madness a company wide event.
  3. Build a March Madness employee promotion: Create a goal oriented program for departmental productivity or sales during March and communicate it internally.
  4. Spread the word via Social Media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other Social Media outlets provide vehicles to promote March Madness related employee programs or sales campaigns. Your company benefits from the exposure and goodwill.
  5. Focus on the team. Remember it’s all about your employees. Instead of becoming frustrated with potential lost productivity, leverage March Madness and score a couple points with your team.

 

MASSolutions President asks MASH East ‘What Are You Selling?’

“What Are You Selling?” That’s the question MASSolutions President David M. Mastovich will ask during the MASH East Networking meeting at Longwood at Oakmont on Oct. 17.

Mastovich will address the group at 10 a.m. Registration begins at 9:30 at Longwood at Oakmont, 500 Route 909, Verona, Pa. 15147.

Marketing Admissions Supporting Healthcare (MASH) co-chairs/founders Sandra Harcarik of Gallagher Home Health Services and Kerry Beck of Senior Living Advisors formed the progressive organization nearly a decade ago with the mission to exist as a community resource for seniors, families and professionals through education, special events and networking.

Mastovich’s interactive program focuses on “real-world” solutions that lead to better planning, more meaningful calls, stronger relationships and more closes. He encourages the audience to embrace the fact that marketers indeed are “selling.”

Mastovich’s book Get Where You Want to Go, How to Achieve Personal and Professional Growth Through Marketing, Selling and Story Telling will be available during the presentation and audience members will have an opportunity to subscribe to his column/blog Light Reading, which has been featured in more than 50 media outlets with readership of more than 1 million.

RSVP’s are required for the MASH East Networking event. For more information, contact Amy Rabo at 412.826.6104 or arabo@srcare.org.

MASSolutions President David Mastovich Named to MSPA Board

The Mystery Shopping Providers Association of North America (MSPA-NA) has named MASSolutions President David M. Mastovich to its Board of Directors.

Mastovich will be installed on the board during the 15th annual MSPA North America conference and exhibition. The Sept. 24-26 conference will be held at the Marriott Riverwalk Hotel in San Antonio, Texas.

Mastovich officially will commence as a voting board member on Jan. 1, 2014.

“MSPA North America is widely recognized as the leader in customer experience measurement and management, and I truly appreciate and embrace this opportunity to serve on the Board of Directors,” said Mastovich, who more than a decade ago founded MASSolutions, an integrated marketing firm with offices in Pittsburgh and Johnstown.

MSPA North America is the trade association representing the customer experience metrics (mystery shopping) industry throughout North America. MSPA has additional regions located in Europe, Asia/Pacific and Latin America.

MSPA’s goal is to improve and stimulate the acceptance, performance, reputation and use of mystery shopping services worldwide as a critical component of any customer experience metrics program.

A member of MSPA North America since 2010, MASSolutions helps clients build brands, tell stories, increase sales and enhance customer satisfaction.

Prior to founding his company, Mastovich held senior management positions with University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), Duquesne University and Dame Media, and has a track record of improving the bottom line for organizations in various industries.

He is the author of the book Get Where You Want to Go, How to Achieve Personal and Professional Growth Through Marketing, Selling and Story Telling. His column/blog Light Reading has been featured in more than 50 media outlets with readership of more than 1 million.

For more information contact MASSolutions’ Christina Grantz at Christina@massolutions.biz.

Four Ways To Stop Misusing “Reply To All” and “cc:”

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When I complain about the misuse of “Reply To All” or “cc:” in emails, heads nod in agreement and glaring examples are provided. It happens regularly because we don’t answer some basic but key questions.

Four Questions to Answer Before Responding To Emails:

1. Do I need to respond?

You don’t need to respond all the time. Sometimes you are just being updated or “kept in the loop.” Use judgment when deciding whether or not to respond. I’m not saying you can ignore emails. Simply use discretion to save everyone time.

2. What happens if I don’t include each person?

When you are writing an initial email, decide how each person will use the information. If it’s not obvious that they need the email, don’t cc: them.

When responding, you also don’t need to hit “Reply to All” if your response isn’t useful to  each person on the email string. If you have a quick clarification or constructive feedback that involves only the sender, you probably shouldn’t cc: everyone.

I realize some readers might feel the need to cover themselves by including more people on emails. But you’re also wasting people’s time by unnecessarily creating cluttered email strings.

3. How would you handle it if you were having a face-to-face conversation?

When multiple people are emailed via the “To” box, you should “Reply to All” unless something is confidential to only the original sender. Think of what you would do in a real conversation. If someone said something to you and another person at lunch, would you respond by whispering in that person’s ear? Probably not. You’d likely talk to both people. Do the same thing in an email.

4. Does everyone on this email need the information to do their job?

When three or four people are working on a project and your response impacts them, remember to hit “Reply to All.” Forgetting to do so frustrates everyone who is left out and stifles productivity. The converse is also true. Don’t add people to the recipient list unless you’re sure they need the information to do their job.

You might think these tips are obvious or common sense. Take a quick look through your Inbox and Sent folder. You’ll realize it’s not as obvious or common as you think.

Do what you can to change things. Start asking and answering these four questions and improving your email communications.

Email me  your favorite or should I say least favorite examples of people misusing the “cc:” or “Reply to All” and I’ll send you more tips on making the most of your email communications.

It’s Not Complicated. More Communication is Better.

I love AT&T’s “It’s Not Complicated” commercial where an elementary school girl tries to explain why more is better than less. After struggling to make her point, she finally just says: “We want more. More. When we really like it we want more.”

It’s memorable and makes an emotional impact. The ad also rings true for most of us when we buy. We tend to want more for less more often than not. And if we had to explain why, we might stumble as much as the girl in the ad too.

But what happens when we’re on the other end of the spectrum? We grow frustrated when our own customers or clients push back about price, scope, offerings or perceived value. It’s natural to do so and to think that the price or scope or something must be wrong.

How you respond to internal and external customers who seem to keep asking for more will dictate your level of productivity, profitability and personal growth.

The next time you think your customers are crazy, unreasonable or flat out asking for too much, remember:

  • It could mean more about their buying mindset than your price, quality or scope of services.
  • You tend to do the same thing when you’re the buyer.
  • They might not be convinced of or completely understand the value of what you bring to the table.
  • Sometimes you do need to change the scope, improve your offerings or adjust the price. But in many instances you need to help your internal or external customers realize what’s in it for them. 

Ask open ended questions. Listen. Clarify. If their concerns are clear and legitimate, show them how you will improve. When they misperceive the situation, communicate your value in their terms.

And next time you start acting like the girl in the commercial, remember it won’t be long until you’re on the other end of that conversation.