Thursday, March 27, 2014

Tesla’s Play to Change the Auto Industry

My new favorite magazine is called The Week. It is only 35 to 40 pages long and does not have a lot of advertising in it. It reminds me of the Cliff notes version of Time or Newsweek. It is a synopsis of the week’s news through the eyes of bloggers, news bureaus’ op-ed pages and newspaper reporters. Any given article is no more than a half of a page long and summarizes the topic by providing quotes by reporters/bloggers who have written on the topic over the course of the week. I like reading it undisturbed by cell phones and tablets on Saturday afternoons while sipping a hot cup of tea or occasionally a glass of white wine.

You see, during the course of my busy week I rarely have time to absorb and relax with newspapers like I used to. I’m inundated by email, texts and web browsers shouting at me delivering what they want rather than what I want to know. I find this form of reading enjoyable, meaningful and fulfilling in understanding and gaining information about the world around me.

I recently read an article about Elon Musk and Tesla. The crux of the article stated that many states have laws on the books that prevent manufacturers from marketing their automobiles directly to consumers. “State officials have raised a stink over the company's direct-sale business model, claiming it violates a state law requiring companies to sell cars through certified dealerships”. Basically, cars have to be sold and serviced through a dealer network. “But dealers say allowing direct sales "would harm consumers, limiting their ability to shop around for the best price, trade in vehicles, or obtain financing for a new car." What?

After reading the article I was really upset. Here is an innovation created by a true 21st Century innovator and the mainstream dealer establishment around us is holding us back. That would be like saying that Apple would only be allowed to sell its technology through Best Buy, Target and Walmart instead of at Apple stores or online. It makes no sense.

As a marketer, what does one do? I can think of at least 3 ideas. In the new social media savvy world that we live in, customers must become more engaged and speak up against this resistance to change. Becoming an advocate of the free market reinforces our democracy and capitalism. Second, we need to let the leaders at Tesla know that they have a strong backing of support that should strengthen their resolve to change the marketplace for the better. And lastly we should lobby the established distribution/dealer network as well as our government leaders to express our displeasure over their manipulation of the law due to money interests and lobbyists. If dealers become irrelevant, so let it be. Did we restrict car manufacturers and dealers from being established in order to protect buggy manufacturers, blacksmiths and buggy whip makers?

I may never actually buy a Tesla but just the idea that outside “protectionist dealers” could have an unfair advantage based on irrelevant laws that were put in place long ago is just something that seems to be wrong and out of date. What do you think?

Connect with Allan on Twitter @shteinman

Friday, March 21, 2014

5 Marketing Tips from Dr. Seuss

Many lessons can be learned from reading a Dr. Seuss book. As we grow older, his poetic lines can be interpreted differently. The fact that all ages can enjoy his eloquent, wise phrases can be credited to his true understanding of human nature. It is then no surprise that his quotes are applicable to the marketing world, reminding us that being human is the best approach to being successful.

"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself, any direction you choose."

Tip: It is up to us if our company becomes successful. We decide how to react to external factors, or even if we need to react at all. With confident control over our work, we will always create the opportunity for success.

"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go."

Tip: Reading blogs, understanding infographics, and keeping up with competitor reports will strengthen your knowledge. Keeping you and your employees educated and up-to-date about the market you are in strengthens your internal culture and reinforces your company’s positioning.

"How did it get so late so soon? It's night before it's afternoon. December is here before it's June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?"

Tip: Working with a calendar will keep you organized and help you prioritize your tasks.Ask your colleagues for help if you find yourself burning too much time on one task.

"Wherever you fly, you'll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest. Except when you don't. Because, sometimes, you won't."

Tip: It’s important to remember that companies will go through highs and lows. Stay true to your brand values and stay focused when things get challenging. You will come out of it with a strong internal culture and loyal, determined employees.

"Why fit in when you were born to stand out?"

Tip: Your company is unique. Demonstrate that uniqueness when reaching out on social media platforms. Don’t get lost in the clutter. Offering engaging content through infographics, blogs, and videos that keep true to your brand values will continue to stand out.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Spring Is (Almost) In The Air!

Here in the northeast, is feels as though this winter is never going to end, especially with all of this arctic air.  Spring is on everybody’s mind as we count down the days to some warmer weather.  As they always say, “March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb.”  With the hopes of warm air in the coming weeks of March, it is the perfect time to change up the vibe in the office.  Right now, people are hindered by the winter doldrums, early darkness, and stuffy office air.  Making some slight changes at the beginning of spring to your office can give your employees new found motivation and energy to power through the work weeks.  Here are some easy, simple tips to make your employees feel refreshed and motivated at the office as the seasons change. 

Lunchtime: As a leader, begin encouraging your employees to get away from their desks for a bit to go outside and enjoy the fresh air during their lunch breaks.  Make sure they don’t feel obliged to stay in the office and get work done.  When they feel as though they have your blessing to step out for lunch, they will be more likely to go out and enjoy the fresh air and scenery.

WFH: Allow your employees to work from home every once in a while.  This gives them the chance to air out their home and sit in the fresh air while still being productive.  According to Gallup, employees are more engaged when they have the opportunity to work from home.  Getting away from the office occasionally can be a really good thing for your employees!

Redecorate: As spring begins to move in, some redecorating of the office could be a nice change for employees.  Add some small touches of flowers and spring colors throughout the office to liven it up a bit!  You can even redecorate the kitchen by splurging on some fresh fruit for your employees to snack on during the day!

Field Trip: Depending on the size of your company, try a company outing.  Something outside would be great! Allow your employees to get out, enjoy the fresh air, and mingle!  This will increase the morale of your employees.  Although this is not feasible for all businesses, closing down a few hours early to take your employees out would be a nice added touch!

Natural Air and Light: Although this may not be conducive for all company buildings, go around and open the windows to air out the office when the air warms up.  This will clear out that stuffy office air and replace it with a clean and fresh environment.  Your employees will be ecstatic to smell the new air in the office and will fill them with positive energy!  Go around and open the blinds too.  As natural light is sometimes hard to come by in the winter, taking advantage of it in the office will be a great change.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Understanding the Importance of Social Media for B2B Relationships (Infographic)

With the digital era continuing to evolve, many brands are reallocating the money in their marketing budgets to create digital marketing campaigns and maintain social media platforms. It’s often more obvious for B2C marketers, but the question still remains just how big of an impact these platforms can have on your B2B brand’s success. Ambassador created an infographic laying out the raw facts of the business to business interactions that occur over social media, reminding us how important it is for brands to have an online presence.

It‘s clear that Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are the most crucial platforms for distributing content to generate leads. Having an active blog is very effective at getting your brand name and core values out there. More than half of content marketers surveyed are increasing their search marketing budgets, so maintaining a blog is a must to stay competitive. Social media can be the keystone to your company’s sales pipeline, so make sure you are not just digitally present but that you also offer strong, valuable content.