Don’t Make Me Like You


Image by striatic via Flickr

Facebook is a large part of many marketing campaigns which truly is no surprise. People who are on Facebook are engaged and like to interact with friends, family and even brands. However, while as a marketer I understand the marketing tactics involved such as using the Like as a gatekeeper, as a user I truly detest it. A feeling I am not alone in.

I don’t want everything linked to my Facebook account.  No, I don’t want to tell my friends. No, I don’t want you sending me status updates and posting on my wall. I use Facebook how I want to use it. Stop trying to force me to use it your way.

A Like is only as valuable as the person behind it. If you make me Like you to enter your contest or view your conference agenda, I can just as easily unlike you and even block you once I’ve gotten the information I want. What value is there in that? When you force a Like, it’s like having your mother tell you you can’t go play with your friends until your chores are done. You didn’t like it as a kid and you certainly don’t like it now.

Now, I’m not saying don’t lock content behind a Like, just give me more value for the transaction and quit forcing it. If I want to connect with you, I will be happy to do it but on my terms.

The same goes for Twitter, Google+ (once brands become more prominent), or one of the other smaller social sites or sites that just don’t exist yet. Anytime you try to force your customer’s to behave how you want them to, you’re potentially losing that customer. Unfortunately for you, you won’t know how valuable they were or weren’t until they’re gone.

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Seasonality is an Excuse

Vail Tournament 2005, Photo Copyright Melissa Dafni, Blue Kitten Photography

I hear a lot of people say their product is seasonal and I see a lot of companies treat their products as such. But in many cases, is your product really seasonal? Or are you simply using that as an excuse?

I won’t deny it, some products are definitely seasonal. Most people don’t shop for Easter candy in June or Christmas trees in September, but outside of holiday specific products, is it truly seasonal?

Take for instance the sport of lacrosse. It has a definite seasonality, right?  After all,  lacrosse isn’t played year round. The National Lacrosse League plays from January through May. Major League Lacrosse plays from May to August.  High school and college have two seasons with girls playing in the fall and boys in the spring. Many cities and organizations hold summer tournaments.

Wait a second. That looks like lacrosse is played year round, doesn’t it? So why is it treated seasonal? Because that’s how those involved treat it. If it’s not NLL season, teams don’t tweet or update their Facebook pages and news is virtually nil outside of major events like draft day.

Does that mean fans quit looking for relevant products? In some cases, yes. You will always have a group of customers who also view your product as seasonal, either because they’re ready to move on to other things, or because they’ve been conditioned to view it that way.

Others find themselves frustrated because a product they want is no longer available. Many lacrosse blogs and news sites go dormant for the season, gear becomes hard to find unless you are lucky enough to have a lacrosse specific store nearby or shop online. Sometimes even that doesn’t help. Just ask a lacrosse playing girl whose gear, to save valuable real estate may only be stocked ahead of the season and cleared out immediately after.

Do you really believe anyone heavily involved in the sport quits thinking about it simply because it’s not lacrosse season? A lot of opportunity exists but is overlooked because lacrosse is seasonal.

So now, is your product really seasonal? Or is it only seasonal because you view and treat it as such?

Is Social Media Hurting Your Marketing Efforts?

Just like a shiny new toy, social media marketing is the hot new thing. But as I wrote about in Is Social Media Right for Your Business?,  it isn’t for everyone and can actually do more harm than good.

Last month I received this email:


The email is nice and clean and with a direct call to action; get involved with their social media profiles. Imagine my surprise when I clicked through and found this:


Their Facebook page at least has some current content, but not much and huge timeline gaps where nothing is posted.

What’s the big deal, right? If you don’t have anything to post, it’s better to not post anything, right?

I disagree. Social media is not a part time thing. If you’re not truly interacting and providing new and relevant content you’re either forgotten or seen as noise and ignored.

Looking at that twitter page, what incentive do I have to follow you? And if I did out of loyalty to the brand, I will quickly forget to look for anything from you because you’re not committed to it and actively interacting. Now, if you finally do get your act together and start getting involved, I’m probably not going to notice because I’ve already forgotten about you.

Talk about a lost opportunity huh?

Hands on with the Subaru Impreza WRX STI

I’ve been very curious to drive the Subaru WRX STI since I heard they were releasing the 4 door STI again, not just in the wagon.  You rarely hear someone talk about the STI without mentioning it’s competitor the EVO (and vice versa) but most people I know seem to favor the STI.  All in all, they are very comparable vehicles.  I would have to check specs, but I felt like the STI was longer than the EVO and the salesman confirmed the STI sedan was longer than it’s wagon counterpart.

The STI has some nice lines, but truth be told, I think the last few years’ models have been very boring in comparison to previous years.  When they first changed to the new body style I often found myself trying to figure out if I was looking at a Subaru, a Mazda or something else.  The WRX just wasn’t as distinctive to me any longer.  This is a common complaint I hear from a wide variety of people though… that car design has become to homogenous with everyone trying to copy everyone else until everything looks the same.

But I digress.

The STI unlike the EVO MR comes with a standard transmission, not a dual clutch (aka dual transmission) system. Since so many manufacturers are only producing automatic and dual clutch transmissions, I found this both surprising and slightly refreshing.  There’s just something about a standard transmission… especially one with six gears and a short shifter.

The interior was nice.  The model I test drove was one of the limited editions with heated leather seats and a moon roof.  Subaru has moved the radio higher on the dash, putting it above the heater vents instead of at the bottom above the heat controls and auxiliary jack.  Not only is this a better use of space, it’s also less cumbersome to access.  Although oversized, the radio isn’t integrated any more so than most cars making it easy to upgrade to an aftermarket system if so desired.  Another nice change Subaru has made is they have moved the auxiliary and USB jacks into the jockey box.  This makes them much easier to use because you no longer have to worry about cords getting tangled around the gear shift nor having your MP3 player go flying because there isn’t a good place for you to put it and keep it connected to the ports.

The differential adjustments are near the gear shift with a knob allowing you to select between automatic, sport, super sport and manual. The adjustments were difficult to see on the dash as they seemed to try and use the least amount of space to highlight it.  But it’s cool that while in manual you can completely adjust the weight displacement essentially turning the STI into a rear wheel drive car.

There’s also something to be said for the EVO’s road specifications “snow, tarmac, gravel” vs the STI’s sport, super sport etc.  The STI’s dash feels very classic with the three standard gauges compared to the EVO’s very computerized display.  The tachometer is extremely prominent though which I found as rather odd.  Usually the speedometer is the biggest gauge or they are the same size.  I could see it being much easier to speed and not realize it because your gaze naturally falls on the tachometer instead of the speedometer.

The front seats were comfortable, but I felt like they didn’t hug you anything like the EVO’s Recaro seats.  In fact, they felt very similar to the seats I currently have in my Explorer sport.  They pretty much felt like most high end bucket seats, not sport bucket seats.

Back seats were roomy and the STI has a huge trunk.  One benefit the STI has over the EVO is the back seats fold down in a 60/40 split providing extra room.  The EVO’s trunk is definitely smaller and the seats don’t fold down.

But with 305 hp 2.5 liter DOHC turbocharged engine, what you really want to know is how did it drive……

It was nice.  I liked the way it shifted.  With a lot of cars, it seems like 1st gear is either wound too high so you’re redlining while barely pressing on the gas pedal or it’s so low that you’re stomping on the gas pedal and barely moving.  The gears were smooth as were the gear changes.  I felt like 2nd gear was a bit stickier and therefore problematic than 1st gear, but not too bad.  I definitely like the way the STI shifted much better than when I test drove the EVO GSR.  The GSR felt like it was geared oddly or something.  I really couldn’t put my finger on why I didn’t like the way it felt, especially as I liked the MR so much.

The STI had a tighter turning radius than the EVO.  Just making a right hand turn in the EVO required me to have both lanes clear because I couldn’t turn tight enough and a u-turn would require more than one movement.  The STI on the other hand had no such issues.  I was able to turn right and stay in just the one lane as well as flip a u in one movement.

Cornering was nice and smooth, acceleration as well.  It’s always nice to be in a responsive car and the STI didn’t disappoint but…… There’s just something lacking.  I really can’t seem to place my finger on it.  The car was nice and I would be content owning one, but that’s just it.  I’d be content.  It didn’t give me permagrin, nor did I find myself dwelling on it.  Maybe it was just the mood I was in that day.  Either way, it was a nice car and it’s still on the list which may make for a very difficult decision down the road.

Hands on with the Nissan Juke

The Nissan Juke is one of those cars that really polarizes people.  Either you like its unusual look…. or you don’t.  Either way, the car is distinctive in its style.  It was much taller than I expected it to be.  From the photos I had seen online, I wasn’t sure if it was intending on competing against the Kia Soul, the Ford Edge or the VW Rabbit.  Standing next to it I felt like it was on par with some of the smaller SUVs such as the RAV-4.

The seats were comfortable, a molded bucket seat, but I felt like I was sitting really high.  The interior was clean without a lot of clutter.  However, I could not wrap my head around what the designers were possibly thinking with the dash instrumentation.  Every time I looked down at my gauges, I felt like I was looking at Wall-E.  The instrumentation is two large gauges, but instead of being set back into the dash, there’s this slight cover that sticks out that looked like a separate piece, but wasn’t.  Thankfully the steering wheel was adjustable, otherwise because of the Wall-E eyes, I wouldn’t have been able to see my instrumentation while driving.

Since the seats were already down in the back, I didn’t bother to put them up and see how comfortable the back seats are to sit in, but it is nice that the back seats fold flat.  Although, because of back pillar curves, when the back seats are up, I felt like there would be virtually no storage space.  You’d have to put the back seats down just to go grocery shopping!

The Juke is available in a 2 wheel drive version with a standard or automatic transmission, or an all wheel drive with a dual clutch system.  Since I can’t imagine having a 2 wheel drive vehicle in Colorado, I test drove the all wheel drive.   Unfortunately, I have not been able to discover if that meant the 2 wheel drive Juke was a 2×4 or a front wheel drive. (My salesperson didn’t know and I had nothing but issues with the Nissan site).

1st gear was extremely sluggish and I felt like it red lined easily without me pushing it very hard so I was already up to 4th gear despite me only going 45.  The turbo whine was really obnoxious and was definitely a contributing factor in quick gear changes despite a lower RPM.  The Juke had a nice turning radius and would easily pull a U-turn which is definitely a plus.  Especially as I see this really only being a car for someone who just wants to drive around town.  One of the other salesman promised me the Juke would put a huge smile on my face…. he was wrong.  It’s a cute little car and well loaded for the price, but I wasn’t very impressed with it.

Update 1-12-2011

After reading this review on Car Throttle and reviewing some of the Juke specs, I have begun to wonder if the salesperson had put the car into the economical mode.  Unfortunately, I really don’t feel like my salesperson knew much about the Juke which definitely didn’t help my test drive.  I might take a second look when I test drive the Xterra but I don’t know if changing modes will help the turbo whine or not.  I don’t know that I can drive an automobile that sounds like an RC Car when it’s revved up.

Hands on with the Outlander GT

Since the Outlander Sport wasn’t powerful enough for me, Aaron, the manager at Quality Mitsubishi though the Outlander GT with its 3.0 V-6 might be a better fit. 

It’s a slightly bigger vehicle and slightly more powerful.  It comes standard with a third row of seats, although I can’t say I would want to sit in them for a long road trip.  For hauling, the third row seats fold flat, however, the back row doesn’t.  This is an issue I currently fight with in my Explorer and have seen in many other vehicles as well.  It definitely limits what you can carry in the back which can be frustrating.

Overall, the interior felt virtually identical to the Outlander Sport.  The dashboard still feels enormous and the stereo is too integrated into the dash for each after market integration.  The seats felt like higher quality than in the sport, but still very boxy and not as nice as what I currently have.  Although the model we took out didn’t have one, a power panaromic sunroof is available.

Driving the Outlander GT was indeed more my speed than the Outlander Sport.  It still had a nice tight turning radius which is helpful when parking but it was still slower than I would like from 0-40 mph.  Especially compared to my Explorer Sport,  but was pretty peppy between the 40-70 mph range.  Passing wasn’t an issue… at least the cars I chose to pass while on the highway.  But, as I said, it was still slower than what I currently drive and not quite as comfortable.

I think if you drive mostly in the city or the suburbs, the Outlander Sport is probably enough of a vehicle and will get you better gas mileage.  However, if you travel on the highway at all, I think I would recommend the GT as the better model.  Regardless though, the Outlanders just aren’t the vehicle for me.

Are They Open to a Sale?

No Sale Sign on Cash RegisterSelling a product is a hard job. It’s certainly not a job I would want. Sometimes though, I think sales people make it even harder for themselves. It’s drilled into their head that they can’t let anything stand in their way of making a sale and their customers feel it.

Recently, we had a door to door salesman that really started off on the wrong foot and missed all three of the areas below.  We have no soliciting signs and really don’t take kindly to those who choose to ignore them therein riling up our dogs.  The other day we had just arrived home when before we could even get out of the car we had a salesman who rushed over to try and talk about roofing. 

Needless to say, he wasn’t very warmly welcomed.  First off, our roof is in good shape so we’re not interested.  Second, we don’t buy from door to door salesman, regardless of what they’re trying to sell.  Third, his approach completely put us on the defensive and slammed shut and bolted a door that was already closed to him.

I’ll admit, for some people, an aggressive sales person may win out in the end, but at what cost?

It seems like it’s the rare sales person that tries to determine whether a customer is even open to a sale.  I would put several factors under being open to a sale including interest, financial and approach.


Has the customer expressed any interest whatsoever in your product?  Are you assuming they’re interested?  Why waste time trying to sell someone a product they have zero interest in or use for? Are you trying to sell them the wrong product based on you assumptions?

For example, say you sell backyard playground equipment.  You spot a woman walking near by, you approach her and before she has a chance to say no, she’s not interested, you launch into your spiel.  By the time you finish she’s flustered by your approach and frustrated by you wasting her time, especially as she doesn’t have kids.

Believe it or not, I see this sales approach happen a lot.  Yes, you could argue that every person you come in contact with is a potential customer either now or in the future, but if you start off on the wrong foot with them, they will remember the less than positive experience they had with you more than your product.


Can they afford your product?  Are they willing to spend what your product costs? Are they even the decision maker? Are they still narrowing down their options?

Now, I’m not saying you should pass judgment on whether or not a potential customer can afford your product based on looking at them.  You’d be surprised how often you can be wrong using that as a factor.  But simply asking questions to determine whether your product might be a good fit for them will give you valuable insight, especially as many customers may be able to afford to spend the amount you want, but they’re not open to doing so.


Personally, I think this is one of the most important factors.  Personally, I don’t like overly push salesman.  If the product is good, it will sell itself.  Patronizing me won’t get you a sale.  Ignoring no soliciting signs probably isn’t going to start you off on the right foot.  Interupting a conversation to try and sell your product probably won’t get you far although many mall cell phone salesman seem to think otherwise.

As I said, sales is a hard job, but why make it harder for yourself by not qualifying your customers with a few questions and tailoring your approach to fit the customer and the situation?

Hands on with the Outlander Sport

A few weeks ago I received an intriguing email regarding the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport.  Mitsubishi had rigged up a vehicle to be driven remotely and would be opening it up soon for test drives.  On the one hand I thought this was completely daffy because honestly, how much can you really tell about a car if you’re not really behind the wheel driving it?  On the other hand though, I thought it was a fun bit of marketing that was sure to get at least a few people talking.

Finally I got the notification that the Outlander Sport was available on the internet to be test driven.  Once you clicked through and secured your place in line you were given the opportunity to practice, watch other drivers or find out more about the Outlander.  The Outlander specific site is extremely robust and worth spending a few minutes on to explore.

The practice was smooth and I felt like I got a good handle on how to control it.  The actual “test drive” on the other hand was another story.  There was a lag between you directing the car and it actually doing what you wanted which became very frustrating… and then before I knew it my turn was over.  Needless to say, I barely collected any of the “badges” to compete for the prize they will be giving away.

This was definitely one case where the concept was much better than the actuality.  But, the virtual test drive worked in that  I was curious to see how the actual vehicle drove.

The Outlander Sport is a smaller cross-over vehicle intended on competing with many of the smaller SUV’s on the market.  It’s designed to be very fuel efficient which in the current market is definitely a selling point.

Ground clearance is definitely low, especially compared to my current ride, however, with laws being what they are now, that’s something I’m just going to have to deal with I guess.  The lines are nice.  It’s similar to other vehicles in its class, but I think it’s still somewhat distinctive.  The Outlander Sport is slightly smaller than the other Outlander models so you lose the third row of seats, but not much else.

The hatch area is a little on the small side compared to what I’m used to.  The seats don’t fold flat, but I think it’s rare to find a vehicle where they do.  They do have a pass through in the left back seat though which could be quite useful.

Sitting in the vehicle, I wasn’t very comfortable.  The dashboard is HUGE. I swear it was so big you could lay on it comfortably.  Ok, well, maybe not quite that big, but that’s how it felt to me.  The seats felt cheap and stiff.  I can’t imagine doing a long road trip sitting in them.  Hopefully they get more comfortable with use.  The model I took out had a dual transmission which means it had the paddle shifters.

The Outlander Sport was quiet and had a nice tight turning radius – Definitely good when you need to flip a u-turn or even turn into a parking spot.  The ride was very smooth and car-like.  I quickly discovered however why the Outlander Sport is so eco-friendly…. It was S  L  O  W.  I would be scared to get on the highway in something that accelerated that slowly and I dread getting stuck on the on ramp behind one.

I can see the Outlander Sport being good for city travel, but definitely not the car for me.

5 Ways to Kill a Sales Lead with CRM Software

Fuel gauge

Image via Wikipedia

I know many of my posts lately have been focused on the automotive industry, but personally I feel you can learn a lot from other industries that can be applied to your own.  As my last actual car buying experience (not including curiosity excursions onto car lots and test drives) was 11 years ago I am definitely finding the experience very interesting.

One thing that seems to be a constant factor though is an over reliance on CRM Software (Customer Relationship Management) which because of one dealership in particular has inspired this post.

1.       Automate every exchange

You’ve just been given a sales lead, now what?

Apparently the thing to do these days is to add it to your CRM software and let it do all the work.  After all, you’ve spent all that time drafting emails and set them to send at specified points in the sales cycle, what else do you need to do?

Yes, we live in a technology heavy world, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t personalize your content.  Yes, it’s more time consuming and it won’t result in a sale every time, but in a sea of automation, guess who stands out?

To me, since my initial interest was sent through a website, an initial automated reply letting me know who you are and that my contact information was received is fine.  However, you should take the time to send a personal email as a follow up.  It doesn’t have to be long.

One of the internet managers I’ve dealt with sent a note that specifically mentioned comments I made on the contact form as well as tried to sell the product.  This is a stark comparison to my inspiration. He took three emails before he introduced himself.  Although, I wasn’t surprised as this was just one in a long line of uninspired auto-populated emails.

2.       Inundate the customer with emails (and phone calls)

This definitely seems to be prevalent in the automotive industry.  Rather than wait for you to respond, I’m going to keep contacting you until I make a sale.  The thinking behind this seems to be that if they don’t pester you, they’re no longer on your radar and so have lost the sale.  The problem though is it’s very easy to cross the line and be seen as spam.  You might be surprised at how many customers won’t respond at all but will simply click the button in their email marking your emails as spam.  Get enough spam complaints and you’ll get blacklisted.  In some cases, it might not be just your email that gets blacklisted, but your whole company’s, especially if you have several salesman taking this approach.

So far since August 11, I have received 16 emails from my inspiration salesman.  At least 14 of them were before the car was available.  7 of them were within the first week including two in one day.  I’m just very thankful that despite his emails claiming otherwise, I did not provide a phone number.

3.       Provide plenty of evidence that the email is a form letter

I am contacting you in reference to the 2011 Nissan Juke that you inquired about online at NissanUSA on 8/11/2010.

We have several new arrivals in stock here at that fit the description of the car you were considering. Several of these may be a different color and/or have additional features compared to the one you requested information about. However, one of these vehicles may surprise you and be just what you are looking for!

I would love to talk to you and see if one of these new cars might meet your needs. Please reply to this email or call me at , be sure to ask the operator for (name removed).

This is just a portion of one of the emails I was sent.  I am quite impressed that despite all odds, they were somehow the only dealership in the United States to score several Jukes a full month before they were shipped to dealerships.  And no, I didn’t remove the information after call me at.  Glaring automation errors that left nonsensical blanks was pretty much the standard in his emails.

4.       Cite your desire to provide personalized service while using nothing but gap ridden form letters

My name is (name removed) and I am the dedicated Internet Sales Manager assigned to you.  My job is to give you the personalized attention that makes the buying process here at so unique. I would like to speak with you regarding the Juke in which you expressed an interest.

This is from the 8th email I received from him.  Needless to say, his 7 prior emails (nor any of his subsequent emails) did anything to convince me of his genuineness.

I’m all about personalized service, but actions speak louder than words and if all your contact is via impersonal auto-populated emails, I’m not going to find it very believable.

5.       Try to force a sale before the product is even available

If your product isn’t yet available for purchase, realize that while some customers will want to know every little detail about it, others won’t be interested until they can physically see and touch it.  Yes, quite a few people are willing to buy a brand new car model sight unseen, but that’s the minority.  Don’t drive off your sales lead trying to sell them a product that isn’t available yet.

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The Risk Involved with ccTLDs

I’ve mentioned that there is an inherent risk involved with registering a domain using a ccTLD, however, I really haven’t gone into depth on this subject.  (If you need a reminder, I explain what a ccTLD is in Domains 101: The Basics)

While the .com TLD is still the most commonly used, many people have enjoyed creating new and often creative domains using ccTLDs such as Call.Me or TheDailyWh.AT.  Oftentimes people do do this without realizing even where the code is based out of, or that it’s even a country code based domain.

Not knowing what country a ccTLD is out of that you’re considering or own really increases your risk.  For one thing, you don’t know what restrictions they may have on it.

For example, to use the .ca ccTLD, you need to meet certain Canadian presence requirements.  If the Canadian government doesn’t think you’ve met those requirements, they can and will take your domain.  In some countries, even less cause may be needed.

Not all ccTLDs have presence requirements, but several do.  But what happens to your domain and possibly your business if the ccTLD you’re using is based out of a volatile country?  Just because the current government is open to allowing other nationalities to use their ccTLD for a fee doesn’t mean the subsequent government will.

On a darker note, what happens if those in power see value in your domain they didn’t see before?  Or if they don’t like how you’re using it?  If you think it can’t be taken from you, you’re deluding yourself.  Depending on the country and how you’re using it, they may not even have to work very hard to justify their taking it.  It was probably clearly spelled out in the requirements you had to agree to in order to register the domain, that if you’re like most people, skipped reading and simply agreed to. made headlines today because Libya revoked their domain rights citing Sharia Law.  Basically, what it boils down to is Libya said, a url shortener, was being used to distribute porn which violates Libyan law.  (You can read more about it on Forbes , BBC or TechCrunch just to name a few).

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t consider using a ccTLD as part of your business or marketing strategy.  You should just be aware of what the additional risks you may face are.  In some instances, the risk of using a certain ccTLD may outweigh the rewards and in other cases you’ll find the risk low.  Either way, if you’re using or considering a ccTLD, don’t assume your legal rights to it.