Location, Location, Location!

I’m in Boston speaking at the MarketingProfs B2B Forum, which is a beautiful city for a conference although Boston has had some water problems in the past few days. (Can you say ‘massive water main break?’ See my post on the3six5.com for more details.) It struck me as a great location, being a quick train or plane ride from most of the East Coast, yet easily accessible from the rest of the country as well. It got me thinking about locations – both big (like cities) and small (like conference rooms).

Sitting on the left corner
Sharon sits on the left.

I sit on the left. I write with my left hand and it makes it easier for me to sit on the left corner of a table if I’m going to be writing – that way I don’t bump elbows with anyone. Being a leftie, the seat at the far left or end of the table makes sense for me. Although my children both write with their right hands, my son throws with his left hand and my daughter bats left-handed. Locating them in certain positions when playing sports makes sense, too.

M3 Left-Handed Batter Position
M3 Left-Handed Batter Location

For example, my daughter gains an advantage in fast-pitch softball by batting left-handed – she’s already several steps closer to 1st base so it’s easier for her to make it there. Are you making it easier for your customers to make it to the checkout (or form for non-ecommerce sites) by placing the call to action correctly? Best practices say that you should state your offer often (at least 3 times) and “above the fold.” Use your web analytics to make sure you know the most common screen sizes and then place the call to action and conversion process starting point in a prominent location where users don’t have to scroll. Hubspot has a great article on using heat maps to determine optimal placement. That’s one way to take advantage of location on your website.

T3 Lacrosse Location
T3 Left-Handed Lacrosse Positions

Another way to gain advantage is by marketing to your customers at the right place and the right time (see my post on that here), but it’s also important to take control of the playing field by being in the right location. My son is a lacrosse defenseman and being a leftie gives him the advantage of being able to stay in the middle of the field on defense and have his stick comfortably positioned to line up with a right-handed shooter coming toward him. What do you do to position your product/services so that they line up with your customer’s needs? It also gives him an advantage when he has the ball on offense because his body is lined up between the ball and the defender.

Testing your email campaigns is a great way to determine your customer’s needs in order to have them line up with your goals and objectives. Stephanie Miller and I will be discussing that topic at our Hands-on Session: Email Testing for Higher ROI during the MarketingProfs B2B Forum and I’ll share some of our tips and tricks online after the presentation for those who couldn’t attend.

I hope that you will share some of your tips and tricks on location, call to action, email, or any other relevant topic in the comments section below!

21 Years of Mostyn Medical Mayhem…Um…I Mean, Wedded Bliss

21 years ago today, T2 and I were married. It was a beautiful day, the weather was perfect – plenty of sunshine with no rain in sight, not too cold, not too hot – and here we are 21 years later with slightly colder but nearly the same weather. Even with amazing snow storms in 2009 and 2010, the weather is about the most peaceful thing to happen to the Mostyns in those 21 years.

T2 - 5 Stomach Surgeries, 16 Knee Surgeries (incl. Replacement), etc.
T2 – 5 Stomach Surgeries, 16 Knee Surgeries (incl. Replacement), etc.

I should have known when T2 missed our first date because he was getting stitches from an accident at work. When I called to find out where he was, the response from his family was, “he’ll call if he needs a ride home.” I was worried about having callous in-laws, but little did I know that Mostyn Medical Mayhem was so routine that you grow accustomed to it. T2 has had 16 knee surgeries (including finally having one knee replaced), 5 stomach surgeries, his gall bladder removed, had a finger sewn back on from a car hitting his bike as a kid, innumerable stitches, and still counting! Did I mention he needs a tonsillectomy too?

Sharon's 3 Foot Surgeries
Sharon –  3 Foot Surgeries

Being married into the Mostyn clan, I’ve had it comparatively easy…ONLY a tonsillectomy (putting a 30-year-old in the pediatric ward is a completely crazy, but that’s another rant…), 3 foot surgeries following a car accident, gall bladder removal and a hysterectomy.

T3 - Concussions, Traumatic Pancreatitis, etc.
T3 – Concussions, Traumatic Pancreatitis, etc.

T3 has taken after his father with stomach problems, but his Mostyn Medical Mayhem claim to fame is his concussions and traumatic pancreatitis from different sports. He also needed to have a crushed finger nail removed after he hit with a hammer while helping Dad, then accidentally shut it in the door, and proceeded to go rafting all day before finally deciding that maybe he would get it checked out. He was the second family member to get a tonsillectomy, and most recently a volleyball game in gym class left him with a black eye completely swollen shut.

M3 - Strained ACL, Broken Arm, etc.
M3 – Strained ACL, Broken Arm, etc.

M3 decided Dad wouldn’t be the only one in the family with bad knees. Last Memorial Day weekend she was playing 3rd base for her travel softball team and was going for the tag when she was run over by the base runner. One ambulance ride and two hospitals later, they decided it was a strained ACL. Softball isn’t the only sport where she has been injured…back in her “pony phase” she fell off and broke her arm. She has also had her tonsils removed, so that means T2 is next for sure!

Mostyn Medical Mayhem aside, we have two wonderful children and we’ve made it to 21 years of wedded bliss. As my loving husband sent in his ‘Happy Anniversary’ text: Only 54 more until our 75th! If anyone wants to sponsor our medical insurance between now and then…PLEASE let me know in the comments below!

Blizzard 2009 – Memories of Snowstorms Past

The "Blizzard of 2009" was quite peaceful here.
The “Blizzard of 2009” was quite peaceful at home in Maryland.

The Blizzard of 2009 is over for the East Coast of the US and it was a beautiful and peaceful event for us. The day was spent sitting by a cozy fire reading a good book and every few hours making a pass or two with the snowblower.

Baltimore, my hometown, received at least 21 inches of snow in the past two days – shattering the previous two-day December snowfall record of 14.1 inches from 1960 and accumulating more snow in two days than the average annual Baltimore snowfall of 19.8 inches.  The last time Baltimore received this much snow was when the February 2003 “President’s Day” snowstorm dumped nearly 27 inches on the city.

That snowstorm followed one of the scariest “Mostyn Medical Mayhem” moments of my life. On President’s Day Weekend 2003, our family (including my husband, our kids and my in-laws) was enjoying the long weekend at Camelback Mountain Resort in the Poconos mountains in Pennsylvania. I was nervous about the trip because the Poconos have historically been a place for Mostyn Medical Mayhem, but that’s a story for another time. Although my in-laws don’t ski, they came along to enjoy the beautiful scenery. Our kids have been skiing almost before they could walk, so it was no surprise that we skied all day even though the kids were just 7 and 9 years old at the time. After a full day of skiing, the hot tub was calling my name and our daughter, M3, agreed to go with me and leave “the boys” (T2 & T3) to ski after dinner. We stayed at a townhouse next door to the ski slopes and had long-range walkie-talkies (those were the days before cell phones were popular) to communicate while on the mountain.

About an hour after we went back to the townhouse I received a page from T2 saying, “You need to come to the resort RIGHT NOW. T3 has been hit by a snowboarder. Ski Patrol is on their way, but he’s not conscious.” My father-in-law drove me to the resort and returned to be with my mother-in-law who was keeping M3 occupied. I was soaking wet from the hot tub and in my rush couldn’t get my boots on correctly, so my hair was freezing to my head and I was quite disheveled when I burst into the Ski Patrol headquarters. I quickly told them who I was and that my son was being brought down off the mountain and a very wonderful woman calmly explained the current situation.

“The Ski Patrol is with your husband and son on the mountain. We don’t know the extent of the injury at this point, but we have three options depending on his status: 1) he could be fine when he gets down and we send him home with you, 2) he could be injured and require medical treatment, if we determine he needs to be examined by a doctor we have an ambulance right outside that is ready to transport him to the local emergency room, or 3) if the extent of his injury is determined to be serious, we have a helicopter on stand-by to fly him to a hospital in New York. If he goes by helicopter, there is not enough room for anyone to fly with him.”

This is NOT what I wanted to hear. What I wanted to hear that was that my son was fine, that my husband overreacted, and that we would all laugh about my appearance when they came down the hill.

After what seemed to be a very long time, but in fact was probably less than 10 minutes, the Ski Patrol came down the hill with T3 immobilized and strapped to a stretcher trailing behind the snowmobile. They moved him, board and all, into the building where I waited. My husband was ashen, his first words to me were, “He was run over by a snowboarder, I don’t know that the kid even stopped. He was just laying in the snow and wasn’t responding when I called his name.” He held my hand and we waited for the Ski Patrol to do what they do best.

When they brought him in, T3’s eyes were open, but he seemed very disconnected from what was going on around him. The Ski Patrol members took his vitals and checked for feeling in his arms and legs. He was diagnosed as having a concussion, but he would be transported by ambulance since he could feel his arms and legs once they warmed up (another scary moment there when he sad he couldn’t feel his feet, but it seems they were just very cold). We reported the update to my in-laws and T2 drove the car to the hospital while I rode in the ambulance with T3.

During the ambulance ride, the EMT asked T3 what his name was, how old he was, and who I was. He answered correctly. He then asked what day it was and what he had for dinner and the response was, “I don’t know.” Again, NOT what I wanted to hear…but I was encouraged that he was at least responsive with feeling in his extremities. We got to the hospital and they re-checked his vitals and prepped him for x-rays and a CT scan. After several hours, the results came back that he had a concussion but was ok to be released to go “home” as long as he was monitored every hour to make sure he was still coherent. T3 drove us back to the townhouse where we arrived at almost 2AM.

At 3AM, the first time I woke him to ask who I was, his response was, “I don’t know.” I asked him again louder, as if that would help, with the same answer. I turned on the light instead of the nightlight that we had on in the room asked again and he responded, “Daddy?”  NOT what I wanted to hear, part 3… By this point, T2 was awake and as I asked again (loudly) and made him really look at me, I finally got the answer that I wanted, “Mommy, can I go to sleep now?”

After hourly wake-ups with the 20 questions quiz – who am I, what’s your name, etc. by the time I woke him at 7AM his response was, “Moooommmm, can I please go back to sleep?” Now THAT’S what I wanted to hear. <Grins> At that point, I got up and found my in-laws, T2, and M3 watching the TV. This is very unusual for our family to watch TV on vacation, so I thought they might be looking to see if T3 made it to the news…until I saw that they were watching the Weather Channel and it was calling for a blizzard on the East Coast in the next 24 hours. It was an easy decision to cut the vacation short, pack up and head home to Baltimore so that if anything else happened we would be at home where we had medical facilities with which we were familiar. We made it home just in time for 27 inches of snow to arrive in Baltimore.

Which brings us back the the Blizzard of 2009, where the 20 questions of “Can you please being in more firewood?” and “Can you please run the snowblower over the driveway?” are answered with, “Moooommmm, can I please finish this video game first?” Exactly what I expect to hear from a nice, normal, “healthy” teenage boy.

Most of my posts have a marketing moral, but this trip down Blizzard Memory Lane has only a safety warning: if you ski or snowboard, please wear a helmet. Even though he had a concussion, I’m convinced that T3’s injury would have been much worse if he wasn’t wearing a helmet while skiing. Do you have a safety tip for skiing or a memory of blizzards past? Please share them in the comments below.

You’re In Good Hands…

Our son got his driving learner’s permit this month so it was time to call the insurance agency. Automobile insurance is often a commodity purchased from whoever provides the lowest price. Not in our case. Our Allstate® agent, Michael Torr, provides amazing customer service and we haven’t gone price shopping in years (but don’t tell him that!).  Michael waited an hour after closing so it would be convenient for us to have him meet with our son to talk about insurance policies.  He spent more than 30 minutes after we arrived talking about teen driving and explaining how “getting behind the wheel of the car means you’re putting the financial security of your family at risk.”  He showed our son how much extra it will cost if he drinks and drives, gets in an accident, gets a speeding ticket, or even if he gets bad grades!  Going above and beyond the call of duty like that is why Michael has serviced our family’s life, auto, and health insurance needs for nearly 20 years. How can doing what Michael Torr does increase your word of mouth marketing?

  • Develop a relationship with your customers – be personable and personal.
  • Send emails or other greetings for birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, etc.
  • Optimize visitor website experience based on their prior actions on your site.
  • Offer options and upsells that are relevant for your users.
  • Make sure your customer service effort keeps your product from becoming a commodity.

There was a Tweet today from several people attending PubCon of a quote attributed to Mike Arauz who said, “If I tell my friends about your brand, it’s not because I like your brand, but rather because I like my friends.” I’ve told you about Michael Torr at Allstate® because of his customer service, what makes you tell your friends?  Please leave a comment below to let me know!

Allstate® is a registered trademark of the ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

The Right Message, to the Right Person, at the Right Time.

Don't be labeled a spammer?
Photo courtesy of and copyright Krystle, Free Range Stock, www.freerangestock.com

I’ve got two children in high school, a freshman and a sophomore.  The kids’ school, like many others across the country, has the Connect-ED® notification service, where administrators can contact thousands of parents simultaneously without tying up school resources to get the message out.  In this scenario, they use it to call our land line to tell us some news from school.  The Homecoming dance is coming up, so I wasn’t too surprised to see the school phone number show on my caller ID at dinnertime this evening.  That’s a great use of technology to automate a formerly resource-intensive task, right?

Not quite.  It wasn’t a message about Homecoming (which would have been of interest to all of the students), but instead the phone call that we received was about an upcoming college night for high school juniors.  Did I mention that I have a freshman and a sophomore?  Not a junior = not relevant = phone spam.  Now, I know spam is technically unsolicited commercial emails, but the same principle applies to keep people from complaining.  You need to provide the Right Message, to the Right Person, at the Right Time in order for your information to be seen as relevant.

The Right Message

I gave the kids’ school my contact information and I expect them to contact me with messages about upcoming events or other things that they think I should know.  However, I also expect them to send me the Right Message.  I would be happy to receive messages about Homecoming activities, the end of the grading period, or even the high rate of absenteeism due to the H1N1 (Swine) Flu and what I can do to keep my children from catching it.

The Right Person

Since I don’t have a high school junior, I don’t expect the school to contact me about events that are targeted specifically to juniors.  I expect the message for juniors to be sent to the Right Person – parents of high school juniors.  I would be the Right Person for messages directed to parents of high school freshmen and sophomores.

The Right Time

In 2007, 78.3% of children had at least one parent working full time according to the NIH.  Assuming that these working parents get off work at 5PM, and have to fix dinner or pick it up which takes more time, this might indicate that 6-6:30PM might be an inconvenient time to call.  I think the Right Time to call might be a bit later, after dinner is over.  Or don’t call at all, send an email — but only to the parents of juniors who have opted-in to receive your emails!  What do you think?

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