Fostered Appearances and Worn Out Shoes


  worn out shoes 
  Originally uploaded by eschipul

"When we think of those who present a false front or "only"
a front, of those who dissemble, deceive, and defraud, we think of a
discrepancy between fostered appearances and reality." – Erving
Goffman, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, Pg 59

A long time ago in a land far away I was an Operations Manager at
Circuit City stores. This was before they got their ass kicked by Best
Buy. They were still relevant (I would like to think) back then. No
used car business, just hard core retail. Appearances and reality both.

Anyway, I was 26 and had moved up to being an Operations Manager. For
those of you who didn’t have the pleasure, this is typically considered
the number 2 person at a Super Store. I have to admit I loved the job.
Really. There is a rhythm to running a super store during the holidays.
A cadence. A high velocity rush of helping people and making money, and
well it was actually quite fun. My goal at the time was to be a Store
Manager, but that got busted when I quit (a WHOLE different blog post).

Back then the operations group reported up through district to an
district operations manager. A separate tree from the method they used
towards the end where everyone reported to the store manager and they
in turn reported to the DM, etc. So there were two hierarchies, but
damn if the ship didn’t run TIGHT.

So the shoes. I was in a meeting with my Ops DM. A young Ops myself
looking at this cat’s job as a career path. And I ran a good store so
we were talking about how to improve. What could be better. Who were
the future leaders. This was probably 8 PM because the DOM traveled. A
LOT. I wasn’t a high priority visit store (manage variances, eh? and
this was before Demming was cool) because we did well.

So there I am. Meeting my DOM. And I look down. Not far down as he had
one foot up crossing the other knee. Asking me about shrink. And I look
down and there is a hole in his shoe. Through the sole. A hole. At the
ball of the foot. Clean through. Step-in-a-puddle-soak-your-sock type
of hole in your shoe.

Being the person I am, and was back then as well, I stopped answering
his questions and stated bluntly "you have a hole through the bottom of
your shoe." and then something pithy like "you need new shoes" or "what
gives?" or maybe even "are you OK"?  

Continue reading “Fostered Appearances and Worn Out Shoes”

The GE Equation: “What we can imagine, we can make happen”


  The GE equation 
  Originally uploaded by eschipul.

"What we can imagine, we can make happen" – GE Equation

Working on our vision and values statements. Well, I side with Jack Welch that I am accountable for the vision and the team must generate the values. And they did. And they are awesome!

So awesome in fact, that I now need to be sure the vision statement is big enough to handle the scope of what we are doing. Only time will tell.

The photo is from the American Advertising Federation Annual Conference last year. It is the GE Equation. Click through to all sizes to see the whole formula. I apologize for the resolution, but content is there.

Business Planning Goals – Three Little Questions


  kicking a futbol in the vineyards 
  Originally uploaded by eschipul.

I really like the three business planning questions at the bottom of this business planning article on the CNVE site:

  1. Do you have a clear goal for the ultimate outcome?
  2. Is your ultimate outcome reasonable?
  3. Can you articulate your goals in a way that motivates others?

Even if you are a non profit association, perhaps especially if you are a non profit, these are great questions to ask! (more on the CNVE site)

The Goal of Business is to Make a Profit

Robert Scoble is an A List speaker in the tech community. Despite plenty of experience I am closer to X or Y in the alphabet. One awkward subject with any speaking gig is arranging payment for expenses. Most of us have a job. We work. Work takes time. So time spent traveling (the majority) and speaking (the minority of the time on any given trip) is time spent away from billable work. Asking if money is available to fund the trip is the right thing to do. So this post is unfortunate.

I also like Robert’s shout-out to Ayn Rand (he doesn’t say that, my interp) from Scoble’s post:

It’s my responsibility to make PodTech make a profit. IT IS MY
RESPONSIBILITY TO PUT AS FEW RESOURCE CONSTRAINTS ON MY BUSINESS AS
POSSIBLE. And, yes, if there is money available to cover my expenses it
IS MY RESPONSIBILITY TO ASK FOR THEM!

Now, as someone running a business I would likely encourage Robert to be even more direct. The goal of business is "to make a profit." Not control expenses, although that is part of making a profit.

Profit enables you to hire PEOPLE. People are the force that does good. People need to eat. Therefore you should pay them. Therefore you must make a profit, hire good people, let good people make a positive impact on society.

Web Marketing Fundamentals Increase Sales Lead Generation

Web sites respond differently from other advertising media for two primary reasons. The first is that web users are incredibly impatient. The second is that they are incredibly smart. The more we treat people on the web like they are impatient and smart, the higher the conversion rate from visitor to phone call or contact forms.

So how exactly does a web site treat visitors as impatient and smart? By giving them what they want, on their terms, immediately and with humility.

Some of the specific ways you can achieve marketing success on the web are by making sure the following web marketing elements are in place on your web site’s home page.

1) Use a strong marketing headline that is focused on the site visitor. Try using the word “You” or “Your” instead of “me” focused words. The headline should be the dominant element on your home page and should be larger than your logo, your company name or your tag line.

2) Make your service or product the “hero” of the home page. Use pictures and relevant text that features what you do for them. Link directly from those images on the home page to detailed pages with extensive information and more pictures.

3) Use a clear “call to action”. Tell the site visitor, on the home page, exactly what you want them to do. People will read your site content at length if it answers their questions, so be sure to ask for the business at the end of the page or article.

4) Be consistent with your branding. Use your logo and keep the colors consistent with your other marketing materials so your site visitor immediately knows exactly where they are.

5) Make it easy to contact you. Use a mini-contact form on your home page, possibly on every page, as well as a complete contact form.  It is OK to use a mailto link but it should be in addition to a contact form for higher response rates. Put your address and phone number in text format on every page if possible so people can copy-and-paste your information into their contact software.

6) Use appropriate color and imagery.  Every industry has a certain “look and feel”. Now is not the time to try to re-brand your industry.  Give your visitors what they expect exactly as they expect it.  Branding includes positioning and consistency, so this is your opportunity to be consistent and professional at the beginning of the sales process.

7) Search engine optimize your site no matter how well known your brand is.  With all of the viruses and tacky web sites on the net, your visitors will *not* guess your site name but will go through Google or Yahoo just to be safe.  If you are not listed then you are invisible.  Start by registering with www.dmoz.org and read up on search engines at www.searchenginewatch.com.

8) Use testimonials and brand logos from your business partners (as allowed) assuring your site visitors that you are a “real” company with an honest reputation.  Try not to let your success convince you that everyone knows you want their business.

9) Interact intelligently with your site visitor.  Every brand is different of course, but there is always a creative way to interact.  If you sell books, let them buy online.  If you are a consultant, offer calculators for metrics and case studies.  If you are a plastic surgeon, offer dynamic before-and-after photo galleries.  If you are targeting the younger generation, offer games that feature your brand.

10) Respect the privacy of your site visitors with a privacy policy.  Link to a written privacy policy at the bottom of every page, and be sure it is written in normal language instead of legalese.

Additional hints include putting your phone number at the bottom of every page, in the text, at the top and making sure it appears on your home page a minimum of four (4) times.  Anything less and impatient users will miss it, costing you a potential phone call.

Your site visitors really are just as impatient and smart as you are, and they want to be treated that way.  Executing the web marketing fundamentals in their entirety will greatly increase the conversion rate of visitor to contact.

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Host with Tendenci Membership Management Software to measure your conversion rates.

{Note: the original version of this article was written by me in 2001 and published in 2003 on schipul.com. It now lives on our new company’s site here.