Travel…Everyone has their horror stories from lost luggage, delayed flights and reservation systems that seem to only stall when you travel and never inconvenience anyone else. Very seldom do we hear a story that entails a positive experience. This is one of those stories so be sure and bookmark this page and refer to it often.
A couple of weeks ago I took my son on his first flight. It wasn’t a long flight. We were only going to Corpus Christi from Dallas/Ft. Worth but to him it was finally a chance to hurl through the air in a real airplane which he had only seen from the ground. It was a chance to make a memory.
This all started prior to the flight when I was on aa.com for another trip. I logged in but found the website down for some reason. I write about down systems sometimes and enterprise applications on another blog so I took a screenshot and posted it on-line and mentioned @AmericanAir.
— Scott King (@thescottking) June 5, 2013
It took only a short while for @AmericanAir to respond to see if I needed help but I didn’t need anything since a quick refresh of the site solved my error. I then remembered my son’s upcoming first flight and asked if they had anything for a first time traveler. I was told they would try and do something when I asked for some swag like a hat or a t-shirt. I was fine with that.
A week later my son received a hand written letter addressed to him. He loves mail but calls everything email even if the mail carrier brings it. Anyhow, he got some wings to take on his first flight. Perfect, thanks…
— Scott King (@thescottking) June 13, 2013
The day before our flight I got a call from someone at the airport. They wanted to know my son’s favorite cartoon character so they could put it on his certificate. Wow, I thought. A certificate for him? They are going all out.
The day of our flight we arrived at the airport early so we could get settled and walk around. We walked to the gate to look out the window at the planes when the gate agent looked at us and asked, “Is this Charlie?” “Yes it is”, I said and told the four year old to say hi of which he did. The gate agent further explained that she was waiting on the captain to sign Charlie’s certificate then she could hand it over.
We sat down in the gate area and waiting for boarding. The captain and crew arrived checked in with the gate agent and went on board. The captain then came out and walked over to Charlie and said, “Hi.” Several of the other passengers peered in our direction since we were talking to the captain. It was as if we were royalty or some type of official. Well, maybe not that much but Charlie was loving it. It was then that the captain asked if he could escort us on board. Cool!
I grabbed all of our stuff and ran after the captain and Charlie as they took off down the jetway. We got on board and the captain asked Charlie to join him in the cockpit and sit in his pilot’s seat. Charlie climbed over and grabbed the yoke as the captain scooted the seat all the way up. He then began to pull levers and touch everything. He thought this was so cool.
We did this for a few minutes then we had to let the rest of the passengers board to keep the flight on time. Our last mission was to get a photo op with the flight crew. They were really accommodating and patient with us. It was a really nice of them to do all of this and to think it all started from the folks running the @AmericanAir Twitter account who we never met nor ever got a name of someone behind the scenes.
So what does this all mean?
With all of the hubbub with social media platforms and tactics you need to understand how to make an impression and engage your customer. As in my case, most of the interaction was on-line but the impressions and memories were made in person: first, with the hand written letter and secondly our experience at the airport and in the cockpit. You need to be sure and understand how to impact and budget for the entire experience. It is easy to budget for on-line activities since these are inexpensive and relatively easy to pull off but be aware that the more expensive live events and personal touch have a higher impact. People still buy from people so don’t underestimate the difference you can make in someone’s experiences.
I recently completed the Clifton StrengthsFinder test. It measures the presence of talent in 34 categories called “themes.” These themes were determined by Gallup as those that most consistently predict outstanding performance. The greater the presence of a theme of talent within a person, the more likely that person is to spontaneously exhibit those talents in day-to-day behaviors. Focusing on naturally powerful talents helps people use them as the foundation of strengths and enjoy personal, academic, and career success through consistent, near-perfect performance.
Below are my top five themes of talent, ranked in the order revealed by my responses to the Clifton StrengthsFinder.
How well do you think these themes describe me?
Strategic – People who are especially talented in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues.
Ideation – People who are especially talented in the Ideation theme are fascinated by ideas. They are able to find connections between seemingly disparate phenomena.
Analytical – People who are especially talented in the Analytical theme search for reasons and causes. They have the ability to think about all the factors that might affect a situation.
Command – People who are especially talented in the Command theme have presence. They can take control of a situation and make decisions.
Activator – People who are especially talented in the Activator theme can make things happen by turning thoughts into action. They are often impatient.
Before taking the test I didn’t read what the 34 strengths were. I didn’t want to formulate a hypothesis on the outcome and wanted the results to come without bias. I was a little surprised at the results and that my top strength was Strategic. Everyone likes my ideas and how I come up with so many (some actually work) but I never considered that this would be my top strength.
The Ideation strength doesn’t surprise me so much as the Strategic one. I frequently am looking at all parts of a problem, idea or project and can find patterns in disparate data. I see this so often that most of my stories or ideas are transferred via analogies that my audience can understand.
If you have gotten this far then you probably have asked what your five key strengths are. I definitely recommend you take the test yourself. To learn more about the Clifton StrengthsFinder and how you can discover your top five themes, visit http://strengths.gallup.com
A couple of months ago I wanted to increase referrals on our industry blog servicevirtualization.com. I had always automatically posted to my profile seeking LinkedIn referrals and got some clicks but my network was becoming saturated with service virtualization content since there is a post almost everyday. One day one of the sales guys wanted to so the same so I looked around for a solution that would scale.
I searched around for a bit and found that IFTTT, If This Then That, would probably work for us. I set up a recipe for the blog and LinkedIn and ran it for a while in my personal account. It worked well and I set up some public recipes for the sales teams and gave them some instructions on how to do it. Several did it right away with a few following and it helped us refer more traffic from LinkedIn. I focused on LinkedIn since that is where most of our potential influencers have accounts. If you are selling B2B, LinkedIn is the best and this is a really easy way to scale your content to extended networks at no cost.
Readership jumped immediately with our LinkedIn Referrals
The blog was a bout a year old and getting great traction. The red arrow above indicates when I sent the instructions to the distributed teams. Some set up the service immediately and we saw immediate results. You can see the increase in readership from only the LinkedIn channel after everyone followed the instructions. The increase is at a constant cadence since we posted about 4 posts per week. The increase was about a 400% jump from when I was the only one sharing every single post. Most of the readership happens Monday – Thursday and drops off on the weekends which is typical of a blog only covering a very technical product.
Recently I was questioning some theories on the big social networks. My theory was that every social networking (via a platform) only works if you know how to work it. But, once you figure out how to work it then they change it and you have to modify your methods a bit.
The real theory is that every platform other than LinkedIn bites for B2B. I think that Facebook, Twitter, G+ are good for other things like news and location based events but if you are selling big ticket items and looking for influencers you need to spend less time combing the high schools and invest more time on LinkedIn.
B2B Buyers Are on LinkedIn
B2B buyers don’t participate on networks other than LinkedIn. Well, they set up a profile and work on it while looking for a position but for the most part it isn’t a big activity for them since they need to get things done at work.
I measured this a little bit in my head but never really dove in on a specific measurement until now. I used LinkedIn a lot and am very familiar with the features but wanted to take a look at email habits of its users. I took a data set and ran it across all of the networks and came up with some facts that supported my hypothesis.
Recently I traveled across the country on a road show, Shift Left Tour, touting some application development improvements. I required that attendees register and RSVP since I had small venues and limited space. I grabbed some contact and profile information from them but did not ask for a certain email address (lots of B2B marketers require your work email). These events were not advertised with paid search or media placements but advertised via sales force referrals. The infographic below shows what networks all of the registered attendees are on and what type of email they supplied (work vs. personal).
Recent sample of IT professionals registering for local meeting with a technical analyst. There were no limitations on whether or not registrants used business or personal email addresses. Results achieved with Gmail, Rapportive plugin, and Google Advanced Boolean Search.
The Service Virtualization team had a great track at CA World 2013. There were over 20 different sessions from our team and from customers. The customer sessions were packed so others could hear how CA LISA was being used at DIRECTV, Qualcomm, BCBSMN, Sprint, Nationwide, First Data and Unionbank.
We captivated many on how our customers are developing applications better, faster and cheaper. Many were eager to meet and network with all of the customers that made it to Las Vegas and so we hosted all at a private event at the rooftop patio of THE Hotel. There are some great pics here.
Our overall floor plan consisted of several demonstration stations a lounge area and a helicopter hanging overhead. The helicopter was a late addition so we asked the show organizers to hang it. We placed the same craft on the floor at CA World ’11 and I liked that better than hanging it.
Last week I was shopping for a gift on a Thursday. I wanted to send a corny t-shirt to a friend of mine and went to cafepress.com via my Mac. Cafepress.com was down for the day (screen shot) so I went to 6dollarshirts.com that sells pretty much the same t-shirts for 14 dollars less. These are probably the same company with two different sites anyway.
I made a purchase on 6dollarshirts.com after I found a shirt that I thought my buddy would hate. I thought no longer about it until I stepped out for lunch the next day and sat in a drive through lane getting a sandwich. I opened the useless time suck portal known as Facebook to read what people with nothing to do were posting. When I opened the app on my phone I saw something that surprised me. An ad for Cafepress.com!
Why is this weird? It makes sense that this ad would be delivered to me since I was shopping on the site the previous day. However, I was using two different devices on two different networks. There isn’t a common connection or cookie, token or anything. Or is there?
The only connection is a post that I put on Google Plus after I found the site down. I put the screenshot on Google Plus that then forwards it to Twitter via ManageFilter. I don’t have Facebook connected directly to Google Plus but I may have done this a long time ago and removed the connection. I don’t remember.
How did I get an ad served to me on Facebook without any of this connected (that I can tell)?
Several of my LinkedIn connections have commented on all of the articles that I post on LinkedIn from servicevirtualization.com. For the past 10 months I have automated this process to update my profile as soon as an article is published from any of our authors. It works really well and I have recently created a public way to update your LinkedIn with every article from servicevirtualization.com.
Below are the instructions to complete the set up. You should be on-line and logged into LinkedIn to start the process. The entire process takes less than 10 minutes.
How to Set up servicevirtualization.com Articles to Post to your LinkedIn Profile
1. Click this link. This takes you to a public “Recipe” for a free service called IF THIS THEN THAT https://ifttt.com/recipes/79079
2. You will land on a site that looks like this…
3. Click Use Recipe to proceed to the “Join” function. Be sure and use the email address you will want to receive future blog articles. This could be work or personal. I use my Gmail account which I also use for LinkedIn.
4. Click on “Create account” to proceed to the next step. IFTTT will simultaneously send a confirmation email to you to make sure you are signing up for this service. Be sure and authenticate your email address. After clicking, you will see the screen below.
5. Click on the “Activate” button. This will authenticate your personal LinkedIn account to the service. You must be logged into LinkedIn for this to work. If you get an error go to LinkedIn and log in. Once you authenticate proceed without changing the feed URL or anything else. If you mess it up the then paste the URL back in….
6. Proceed to the “Use recipe” button without editing anything else. All of the pre-formatted text and images have been suited to fit the LinkedIn service.
7. You are now completed with adding all of the blog articles without ever having to manually paste in your LinkedIn updates. The service checks the blogs about every 30 minutes. Future updates will include new articles and not existing ones. Feel free to manually post past articles on our high level categories.