Holiday ended, mailbox is overloaded. Now what? 5 tips to handle it

3 min read

There is big chance when you are reading this that you either are still on holiday, or that your holiday has just ended. Most likely, if you a decent amount of colleagues, you will find a couple of emails (or more) in your inbox. Though what to do about this small deluge of email, next to other work you also have to pick up after the holidays. So how to handle it?

The Daimler method

Just make sure it doesn’t arrive in your mailbox at all. Of course this could be a very German thing, however it does make sense. Why would you go to your old newspapers of two weeks? Why would we than think that we should go to through old emails?

Email bankruptcy

Another well-known aspect if ‘handling’ your email is to declare email bankruptcy. Which basically is: send an email to everybody you got an email from and tell them that you have to many emails to follow-up on and that their email(s) will be deleted. If they want you to follow-up on their emails they have to resend their emails to you.

Working the weekends

If you have FOMO or if you think deleting everything is not polite and very drastic of course you could start working on your email in the weekend just before your first workday. It will give you an extra day to catchup, and most likely an immediate longing for your holiday again…

Filing and sorting

Of course you can do something less drastic than deleting everything. You can also start by grouping emails by conversations or sorting their by subject and start working from there. Archive the long discussions thread that don’t need action from you, move the emails to an action folder that require further actions. Doing this shouldn’t take you too long (of course depending on the number of emails you received) and should give you a quick insight on what your real workload is.

Email is not your work, nor is it an assignment

Whatever your method might be, keep in mind that email is just a means for communication (or it ought to be). An email is not a task that you have to do, it is a message on something and it is up to you to define what the action should be.

So feel free to ignore the messages left during the holidays, there is nothing wrong with that. Most likely 2 or 3 week old messages are literally history anyway. Of course you can go through all of them in your weekend, or during work hours, that is up to you. However as many things: you don’t have to do it to do your job well. You can be more effective by giving all your direct colleagues a quick call to catch up (or have a lunch together).

Email doesn’t have to be done, everything that has be done is defined by you, not by other people dumping a message in your inbox.

 

How to Tell the Story about your Story for more Authenticity

2 min read

Products need to have a soul today, they need to have a story. Otherwise these products are just commodities. Easy to reproduce, to fake and low in value. The story is the thing that sets them apart, though what is often more important is the story on the story itself.

Thin line between a story and a lie

Everybody can tell a story, however some stories end up to be lies, instead of being authentic stories. Therefore it is sometimes more important to share the story about your story (this could become an Inception like blog post) that proves the authenticity of your story.

How Bentley does it

Of course Bentley creates stories about their new cars (see their ad at the end of this article, but please read the other paragraphs first). However this small commercial is not about their car, it is about the thoughts that have been put into the design with small quotes such as:

  • The car interior is a living space
  • You have to be able to adapt to the mood of the person
  • Design can be achieved by smells and touches
  • Can we liberate the user from carrying technology

All in all it is about making a brilliant experience that showcases that you can use your technology in their technology in the most convenient way possible.

Bentley’s story behind the story

In the last-minute of the clip they show how this complete commercial was recorded with an iPhone5S and an iPad air and the commercial was edited using the iPad on the backseat of the Bentley. If they can shoot a complete commercial using the stuff you normally have in your pockets / suitcase, edit in the Bentley, they show that basically everything you want to do is possible with this car. Just bring your own technology, sit on the backseat and relax.

Some stories work just better when you lift the curtain a little, since it shows what really happens. Bentley shows elegance, not just in telling their story, but in showing how their story is being told.

 

 

Self-service is the predecessor of Drone Delivery: McDonald’s

4 min read

In several countries McDonald’s is adding self-service modules (big touch screens) to it restaurants. Of course self-service isn’t spectaculair and new, there are complete chains of self-service restaurants on the globe. However it is interesting how McDonald’s is introducing these additional screens, and what might be more interesting in the next steps.

Introduce new technology in a human way

McDonald’s doesn’t introduce the self-service touch screen by just putting it there and hoping that you will be using it. They have some hostesses walking around and when things get busy they pick people from the queue with the question if they would like to try something new. So these hostesses are not just introducing something new to get your meal, they introduce you to something new that saves you time. Creating a very positive first interaction with the self-service screen, increasing chances that you will be using it for a second time.

Also the process is done without exchanging any physical cash, so it reduces the risk on robberies for the McDonald’s also big time.

Next step, more self-service, though what’s next after that.

Of course it is clear that more self-service is the way McDonald’s is going. Not only will people get their order faster, they have to assign fewer people to cash registers and can assign more people on the assembling of orders. Which basically means that they can pay people less because works is getting simpler.

However that is the obvious, which is in some McDonald’s already the case (I happen to visit a small McDonald’s in France and they were already 100% self-service and 100% cashless. Though what is really next. I think the following items are next:

From their screen to your screen

It would make sense for McDonald’s to transition from their touch screens to your touch screen (phone, tablet etc). This way you don’t have to wait for the self-service screen (which would be just moving the queue to a different place in their restaurant) and you can order on the screen that is most comfortable for you. Also you can pay directly via your device instead of inserting your debit or credit card into another machine. Making the process more friction free than it was before.

From up-sell to social recommendations (and beyond)

If you are allowed to use your own device for ordering, why not make it a more personalised experience and make it even more frictionless. Obvious is a login combined with a credit or debit card (or a PayPal like service) so you don’t have to enter this data over and over.

Another clear step is to add some more data to your profile, preferably using something like Facebook connect since it gives McDonald’s the most data. Based on this data they can give you suggestions to eat (since you like Mars why not take a Mc Flurry Mars as a desert) and give you suggestions to eat with friends who are in the neighbourhood or to try out that new burger since people like you (or better: your friends) tried it and rated it 4 out of 5 stars.

From self-service to drone service

Of course the limiting factor for the number of meals that can be served by McDonald’s is in the end the capacity of its restaurants for now. So why only offer the service via your personal devices in their restaurants? Why not go home delivery. No longer it is a requirement to invest in cars, scooters or drivers for these vehicles. Today you just invest in a small swarm of drones.Amazon plans to do ita pizzeria in Mumbai is already doing it.

So why not leverage drones in combination with the GPS position of your mobile device to get your meal to you, instead of having to move yourself to a restaurant.

Change is never stand alone.

Even though it seems to be just a small change to move towards more self-service within McDonald’s restaurants, it could be a small step to a lot a big change in operating model. However change done right, could make it easier for future changes to be implemented.

As long as the changes are small enough and easy to accept and delivers a clear added value. In McDonald’s case I suggested the following: save time, create more convenience, offer better recommendations and provide independence of location.

 

Why the C-suite don’t ‘get’ social media marketing – and why this is perfectly fine

6 min read

I am not a big fan of the suggestion that everybody has to be to be on social media and fully understand social media before you can do anything with social media as a big enterprise. Basically it is a big lie, since how many within the enterprise really understand the inner workings or your DWH (Data Ware House) or ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), probably very little people. Does it mean it doesn’t bring any benefit because nobody understands? No, everybody understands the benefits it brings

And that is exactly what is important: the C-suite needs to get the benefits of something, they don’t ned to know all the details of everything, that is not their job.

The Guardian has a tear-jerking article on this topic, blaming the C-suite for not understanding social media and giving some arguments and tips that will ensure you that they will never invest in social media at all.

Arguments to hide the incompetence of the CMO or social media expert

“I have run out of fingers and toes on which to count the times a bright-eyed marketing manager within a big organisation has brought us in to pitch only to then hear the words “our CEO does not ‘do’ social” and this ignorance shows no sign of slowing,“ says Andy Barr, owner of 10Yetis social media and PR agency.

To be honest if your CEO doesn’t do social, what is the problem? How many companies will be bankrupt in the upcoming five years because of their CEO not being active on Twitter and LinkedIn? Of course this is just a wild guess, though I would say: none.

Jamie Riddell said: “Social media is not seen to be as measurable as other forms of media such as TV. In order for any media channel to be taken seriously at board level, it’s impact on hard criteria such as reach and ultimately sales, needs to be understood. Your average C-suite executive will be focused on business results that are more than brand mentions or sentiment analysis.”

Which is completely true, however if they understand the added value of TV (which is a correlation at best in most cases), than it is just a matter of thoroughly presenting your case with social media. Since with social media you can measure everything and focus on causations instead of correlations. You don’t have to assume what happens,you can show it.

“In some cases, execs are demanding a million Likes on Facebook or a million Twitter followers after they realise they need to be involved. This lack of understanding causes issues with agencies and staff who despair,” he said.

This is not a lack of understanding. This is like blaming your customer for using your products wrong. It is a lack of clear explanation. Don’t blame others for your own incompetence of explaining the added value of social media.

According to Hunt, the repercussion is that some agencies are still buying social media followers on behalf of these brands, despite the folly in doing so. This misunderstanding of social media could in part be explained by the lack of the C-suite’s personal involvement with it.

Of course the C-suite playing farmville on Facebook would have prevented this? No, it wouldn’t. Would a personal Twitter account of a C-level exec prevented this demand of being followers? Most likely not. Just for the simple reason that most people on C-level are not social media experts and given that social media is an area in which expertise is required they are hiring people with that expertise to explain it to them. If that ends up in a fan-buying game it is not the C-level not understand social media, it is C-level hiring the wrong experts (or people that present themselves as experts).

The tips from the Guardian to ensure absolute failure

1: Get them on social. Whether it’s posting from their own personal account or a corporate account, encourage your CFOs, CEOs and CMOs to participate themselves and provide support and training to avoid any faux pas.

Ok, they don’t get Social Media, that was the first thing in the article that was mentioned. So they will absolutely see the value of getting active on this? No if you still suck at explaining, you won’t be able to get them on board.

If you cannot explain the value, they won’t be onboard, no matter what you ask them to do.

2: Simulate a crisis. By simulating a potential crisis that could hit the brand, you enlighten the C-suite to the power of social media and also the potential damage it can wreak if you haven’t invested in social media listening and community management.

The science of fear, always a very positive way of getting the C-suite onboard: if you don’t this you will loose your company. The thing that could happen is an absolute lock down of social media in your company, including a heavy censorship on social media itself by throwing around take down notices. Y

You shouldn’t stimulate a crisis, maybe you should show them the added value of social media (how much additional revenue can be generated, how much money can be saved on call centers).

3: Identify the balance of your website traffic sources. Highlighting the traffic sources to the company website will demonstrate where it is over-reliant and hence vulnerable. For example, if the bulk of your web traffic comes from search, then growing your social traffic to diversify your traffic sources will be an asset when search positions fluctuate or if the company is hit by a Google penalty or algorithm update. Social media is also a significant contributor to search engine optimisation.

Given that most people in the C-suite are fully up to speed on web analytics this is a great tip. Only, most of the C-suite aren’t experts on Web Analytics, don’t know anything about search algorithm updates and most likely do’t care where traffic is coming from on the website (if they were aware of what the website is doing at all beyond being a brochure website).

Besides the direct benefits, explain the C-suite the indirect added value of social media. You can drive more traffic to your website for less costs (since for example you spend less on advertising).

Get the C-suite onboard

Don’t worry about the C-suite, start low profile with a project that doesn’t require the stamp of approval of the C-suite. Proof the value, present the business outcomes, present the required investment. Make it a highly rational decision with a clear investment and a clear return. That is how a C-suite works most of the time. They don’t need (or want) to know all the details, they want to have enough insights to make a good decision supported by real arguments and real data.

 

60% of the visitors of your Website are not human, now what?

2 min read

Humans account for less than 40% of all web traffic. Which means that there are more robot ‘eyes’ watching your website than humans are browsing it, clicking it and touching the web interface you have created.

Why bother about robots and semantic markup?

Practical example: if Google (or any other search engine) cannot read your website correctly it won’t be able to display it in its search results. When Facebook cannot find the correct image to show next to your link on Facebook it will just take the first alternative it can find.

So if you want to be 100% sure how things are being displayed (or are displayed at all), make sure to use the correct (semantic) mark up.

You got visual

Of course you are surfing the trend of the visual web and you are making sure your website is an absolute visual tastemaker. You are working your h1 tags for SEO, however what about the rest of your markup? Have you considered that the average non human visitor on your website won’t notice that something is an address because of the lack of semantic markup? The bot might see the term ‘address’ caught within h2 tags, though it doesn’t know what in the next couple of lines is the address. So how do you make sure your non-human visitors will find the address you want them to find.

Don’t start worrying now, you don’t have choose between your nice visual style and semantic markup. It is about how you can use semantic markup together with your visual style to give your web page the right structure for robots to understand.

Pick your semantic markup

To right type of semantic depends on the robots visiting your site. So besides your human audiences, which of your robot audiences do you like to serve, since there are many different types of self-proclaimed standards (schema.org, microformats, opencyc etc) for in page optimisation of semantic mark up.

Besides that there are also some channel specific markup for the non human visitors from a specific channel such as Facebook (for its so-called open graph) and Twitter (for Twitter Cards)

Schema.org is the one that is supported by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo! and Yandex, which could therefore be your semantic mark up basis of choice if you mainly target search engines and want to use their unique functionalities to display and list certain content.

The big benefit doing it right

If you do your semantics right you are not only controlling how your website is being displayed in general, but also how and what is displayed by other services that use a robot to visit your site and digest your content.