I'm engaged in an "interesting" dialog with Windstream Communications, my local telephone company. They sold me Unlimited Nationwide Calling. I noticed on my last bill a bunch of "regular" calls that I was charged ten cents a minute for. By regular, I mean a number like 704-555-5555. Not an information service or adult content number.
When I called and made them aware of the error, they began to explain their definition of unlimited.
Yes, you heard me correctly. Their definition of UNLIMITED required a definition not available in any English dictionary.
Here's the way Merriam-Webster defines it:
Main Entry: un·lim·it·ed
Date: 15th century
1 : lacking any controls : unrestricted <unlimited access>
2 : boundless, infinite <unlimited possibilities>
3 : not bounded by exceptions : undefined <the unlimited and unconditional surrender of the enemy — Sir Winston Churchill>
Odd... the definition Windstream Communications used relied on a disclosure to change the definition of unlimited. Turns out, their definition of unlimited is nothing like the actual definition of the word.
What's my point?
In business if you market something that requires a disclosure to modify the meaning of the word or words used to describe it, there is a good chance your ethics are going to be questioned.
I've been speaking English for over forty years. I can't recall a single time in my life when I was ever confused or unclear about the definition of unlimited.
I began to ponder the true meaning of other statements I have recently seen in advertising...
How much should free checking cost?
How many trips are you allowed to make to an all-you-care to eat buffet?
How long does a lifetime guarantee last?
How many oil changes are included from the dealer that offers "free oil changes for life?"
Recession or no recession... if you have to take dramatic liberties in the way you describe products or services, it's unlikely you are going to hook new customers and keep them for the long term.
Deception may bring new prospects in the door, but it sure as heck won't earn their respect or encourage them to stick around forever.
Here's the great news... when you start a relationship with a customer based in truth, chances are good they will be loyal to you for a long time. There is the opportunity!
I've been working in and with community banks for nearly 20 years. Over the years I have asked this question many times: "Who is your target market?" Almost 100% of the time community bankers cannot answer that question quickly and succinctly.
If I were to ask you right now "Who is your target market?" Could you answer the question concisely and without hesitation?
Would you answer ”members of our community?” That is the most common answer I receive. If your bank operates in a tiny community, or has a massive marketing budget, that's a fine answer. Frankly, few community banks operate in markets that small or have budgets that large these days. Bottom line; for most community banks that answer is not specific enough.
Two very important reasons to have a target market are:
Many banks market by what I call the "spray and pray" method. Spray and pray means you spray your marketing message anywhere someone with a pulse (and hopefully a checkbook) will see and/or hear it, and you pray for responses.
With very few exceptions, spray and pray marketing is expensive and ineffective.
How specific do you need to be on identifying a target market? You need to be so specific that you know who they are and where you can find them.
Here is an example. A community bank that specializes in small service businesses may choose property management firms as a target market. Let's go further, let's say this community bank is located in Raleigh, NC and chooses to serve property management firms in the entire state of North Carolina.
Who is their target market? Property management firms located in the state of North Carolina.
Where will they find them? Property management associations. State licensing boards. Directories. Trade publications. And the list could go on.
What will they market to them? Electronic banking services, such as ACH origination. Remote deposit capture. Treasury management services. Real estate loans structured to meet their needs. Lockbox services.
See the value? By being this specific, we know exactly who we are marketing to and can easily figure out places to find them. Over time, the ultimate goal is to build trust and loyalty from our target markets. By building relationships with a specific target market or target markets we are able to ask our clients and prospects what products and services they need and can respond very quickly to those needs.
Is it okay to have more than one target market? Absolutely, as long as you have staff to serve them.
Consider making a corporate New Year's resolution to identify one or more target markets!
A few days ago PBS NEWSHOUR did a segment entitled For Community Banks, Survival Can Often Trump Lending. I really like this segment; it is the most accurate depiction I have seen in the media of what is going on in community banks right now.
I encourage you to take a few minutes and watch the video or read the transcript by clicking on the link at the bottom of this post. Please come back and share your thoughts by posting a comment after viewing.
REPORT AIR DATE: Dec. 22, 2009For Community Banks, Survival Can Often Trump LendingSUMMARYPresident Obama met with community bank leaders at the White House on Tuesday and pressed them to boost lending. Yet in a year in which some 140 community banks have been forced to close, the focus among small lenders is often more about keeping afloat.
December 3, 2009
Bankers tell me on a regular basis that they refuse to participate in social media (blogging, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) because they fear potential negative publicity.
Guess what? It does not work that way!
Sort of like many people say about death and taxes, the internet and social media is not an opt-out kind of medium here in the United States.
What is the safest approach? Actively participate!
Where To Start?
Where do you start? Step one is to create a social media business plan!
Why should you care?
Today I was posting an article to StumbleUpon, a web sharing and indexing service, and found a great example that illustrates how opting-out is not an option.
StumbleUpon indexes posts on the web by topic. Banking is a topic I follow. Today when I clicked on Banking, here is the first article that was returned: Bank Refuses $80K loan; Annoyed Man Withdraws $190K From Bank!
I read the article and the comments posted. I urge you to do the same.
The Power of Google
Next I decided to do a Google search using the words "Westpac Roger Griffiths". Here is where things get interesting! My search took 0.14 seconds and resulted in "about 37,000" results
Here are some of the results:
Okay, I stopped copying links after six full pages of hits on the Roger Griffiths / Westpac situation. On page 11 of the Google search a very limited number hits unrelated to this incident began to show up.
Who won? Certainly not Westpac! In my opinion Roger Griffiths won. He was already a successful artist whose work is displayed around the world. Stop for a minute and consider the value Roger Griffiths will potentially receive from the number of mentions he received from the publicity around this incident.
I suspect Roger Griffiths will have people from around the world looking up his work as a result of learning about him through this widely publicized incident.
Was Westpac justified in their decision? Who cares? When I browsed through a few of the posts and replies I noticed less than five people that were supportive of Westpac.
One thing I am quite sure of, even if Westpac was justified in its loan decision the situation was not handled correctly. An old customer service mantra I hear from many people is "the customer is always right." I actually don't believe that. What I do believe is customers should always be treated respectfully and given a reasonable explanation.
Jeannette is a gifted writer. She prepared the following blog post celebrating the life of her late husband Charles. I was so moved by the post that I decided to share it.Wishing you a life of love, passion and abundance!
October 8, 2009
This is going to be a very personal blog to celebrate my husband Charles. My beloved passed away a week ago, but his lasting legacy will be his passion for life, especially for family, books and music.
What I admired most about him was his zest for learning. Once he became interested in a topic, he would become passionate about learning everything he could about it: printing, typography, arctic exploration, and military history were just a few of his interests. His passion extended to the interests of friends, too. Once he learned what you were passionate about, he would pepper you with letters, articles, and books on the topic. His friends would say, “please don’t go out of your way for me.”
But the truth was, they were doing him a favor because he loved the “hunt.” He once told me he could literally feel his fingers tingle when he entered an antiquarian bookstore and he approached the stacks. He knew most of the books by their spines.
I learned from Charles how important it is to be passionate about life, your friends, the arts and your life’s work. Passion is what makes life so endlessly interesting and what makes us interesting to others. Thank you, Charles, for teaching me this great lesson of life.
The Potential to Turn a Life Around by Leo Buscaglia
"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around."
I came across a fascinating video that explains how viruses enter the body in layman terms. The video is called Flu Attack! How A Virus Invades Your Body. Thanks to NPR for this video.
Why am I including video on virus on a banking blog? Easy! Including planning for a pandemic in your business continuity is extremely important. Recent major outbreaks of Swine flu has proven that.
Building a Blogging Marketing Strategy
Date: October 13 from 2:00-3:30 Eastern
Facilitators: Eric Cook, Bea Fields and Jeff Simpkins
Where? Online via webinar and telephone
NOTE: This webinar is not just for bankers. It is a strategic planning session for anyone and everyone who wants to design a solid blogging marketing strategy!
Do any of the following scenarios sound like you?
If you answered YES! to any of these questions, then the Building a Blogging Marketing Strategy Webinar may be the most important event you will attend in 2009, AND it will get you pumped and ready to make 2010 a banner year for your business.
During this session, we will present the following, and we are going to lay it out in spades:
1. Explain the critical importance of building a solid plan and foundation for opening a blog
2. Teach you how to use a blog as the hub of your overall social networking strategy.
3. Provide you with 5 questions to answer to establish exactly the target market you most want to reach with your blog.
4. Answer all of those looming questions in the back of your mind such as "How will I have the time to do this?" "How do I get started?" "How will I monitor negative comments on my blog?" "What do I write about when I have writer's block?"
Along with this webinar, we will be providing you with a simple yet robust strategic planning document which includes the 20 questions you need to answer before you start blogging and a project planning spreadsheet to get you going. These two documents alone will be worth the price of admission.
The session includes:
Many of us were taught that being unsuccessful at something is a reason to quit. This video makes a strong case indicating lack of success indicates a need to keep working at it.
The challenging economy we have faced recently is going to cause lots of people and businesses to throw in the towel and conclude their financial life is ruined. That is only true if you accept it as the truth.
Enjoy this short video. It reminded me that failure mean quitting.
I normally use this blog to share information on success, business, success in business, etc.
This week I was called to perform one of my duties of citizenship. I was called to serve on a jury.
I was not at all offended by serving as a juror; I even admit to being happy to be chosen to serve.
Jury duty reminded me that we put lots of energy into things that are ultimately unimportant. The case I heard took 2 1/2 days and there were 27 people in the courtroom. The dispute had been going on for three years, and it involved approximately $7,000.
Today, I am going to use my voice on the internet to share the thoughts of George Carlin... and to remind myself and others to focus on the things in life that really are important.
"Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well perserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting '...holy (smoke)... what a ride!"
Enjoy the ride. There is no return ticket.
George Carlin's Views on Aging
Do you realize that the only time in our lives when we like to get old is when we're kids? If you're less than 10 years old, you're so excited about aging that you think in fractions.
"How old are your?" "I'm four and a half!" You're never thirty-six and a half. You're four and a half, going on five! That's key.
You get into your teens, now they can't hold you back. You jump to the next number, or even a few ahead.
"How old are you?" "I'm gonna be 16!" You could be 13, but hey, you're gonna be 16! And then the greatest day of your life! You become 21. Even the words sound like a ceremony. YOU BECOME 21. YESSSS!!!
But then you turn 30. Oooohh, what happened there? Makes you sound like bad milk! He TURNED; we had to throw him out. There's no fun now, you're just a sour-dumpling... What's wrong? What's changed?
You BECOME 21, you TURN 30, then you're PUSHING 40. Whoa! Put on the brakes, it's all slipping away. Before you know it, you REACH 50 and your dreams are gone...
But wait!!! You MAKE it to 60. You didn't think you would!
So you BECOME 21, TURN 30, PUSH 40, REACH 50 and make it to 60.
You've built up so much speed that you HIT 70! After that it's a day-by-day thing; you HIT Wednesday!
You get into your 80's and every day is a complete cycle; you HIT lunch; you TURN 4:30; you REACH bedtime. And it doesn't end there. Into the 90's, you start going backwards; "I was JUST 92."
Then a strange thing happens. If you make it over 100, you become a little kid again. "I'm 100 and a half!"
May you all make it to a healthy 100 and a half!
HOW TO STAY YOUNG
AND ALWAYS REMEMBER:
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.
Thanks to my friend Grace Frye for sharing this with me at the perfect time. Grace is responsible for bringing two to the most joyful and loving things in my life to me... my dogs Patches and Lea.