The Smell of Sales – How Small Business Can Use Scent to Sell

There are many things that influence sales. In an earlier post I talked about how color really can influence buyer behaviour. Color however, is not the only thing that influences sales. In fact, small business can really leverage the power of scent to increase sales. Interested? Let’s dig in!

Know that feeling when you smell fresh baked bread? Of course you do. It is pretty much universal. It is calming and makes you think of home, comfort and overall happiness. When my husband and I were looking to buy our first home, one seller really understood this. He had a loaf of fresh-baked bread sitting out. The smell was amazing. Of course we could see ourselves living there. And, we did buy the house.shutterstock_150831380

This same principle also works for small business.

  • Own a sports store? Creating a lightly scented environment with peppermint for example makes people feel energized.
  • Are your employees a little too relaxed? Introduce a citrus scent. It is known to increase productivity.
  • Going back to my house hunting, the smell of baked goods tends to foster collaboration. Maybe it something around family meals that evokes this reaction, but it works. So, if you want to boost collaboration, introduce the scent of fresh-baked goodies.
  • Maybe you want to create the environment of relaxation and comfort. In this case consider scents like lavender or chamomile.

Scent can be very powerful in terms of creating an environment which helps influence how people feel and therefore make purchase decisions. An important factor however is not to go overboard. Many people have health-related issues that can be impacted by various scents. This is not the reaction you want. It is all about subtleties.

Want to learn more about how to take your marketing to the next level? Connect with us.

The Sunday Brief (April 19, 2015)

Well, it’s another Sunday and I sit thinking of the week that has passed and the week that has yet to start as I write The Sunday Brief. Not so much out with the old and in with the new, but rather there were a lot of great things that happened over the week that has wrapped up and so much potential for the week coming.The Sunday Brief

Maybe my optimism is shrouded in the fact that it is a beautiful sunny day with snow melting and so much coming alive. Maybe it is because I am sitting having a great cup of coffee at Second Cup while I await my afternoon meeting guest to arrive.  Regardless, it is an awesome day.

So, let’s take a look at a few great reads that stood our for me this week:

1. The Rise of Inbound Marketing and the Death of the Cold Call by Derek Miller

I love this post because it gives a great easy understanding of what inbound marketing is. I also like it because it really focuses on the fact that people have changed. Buyer behaviour has changed. Unfortunately many people in traditional sales roles are holding on for dear life not fully grasping how buyer behaviour has changed. I also really like that Miller is not claiming that there isn’t a role for salespeople. There is actually! The role has changed however; and embracing that change will make them more successful salespeople.

2. You Have the Power to Rewire Your Brain for More Joy by Catherine Clifford 

This is another really great read! Why? It points out the obvious really. While obvious, there are still many of us who choose to ignore it.

So, what is so obvious? Well, if you think that going after and getting the perfect job will make you happy – when you aren’t already happy – you are wrong. If you don’g have basic and fundamental happiness in your life, seeking it from external facets won’t make it better.

“If you only look to your professional achievements to sustain your sense of purpose and well-being, a sense of emptiness or desperation is almost inevitable.“When that job is gone or when you get fired or you get really disillusioned by what you thought, then you are going to suffer.”

All-in-all, the second point of this post is that we have the power to define and make ourselves happy.

 3. 10 Behaviors of Smart People by Steve Tobak 

Stupid is as stupid does. It says a lot doesn’t it? That is the point that Tobak is making in this post. He has some great points actually, but more importantly he lists some of the things that smart people do. For example, learning from mistakes rather than repeating them and admitting that you don’t have all of the answers. I mean really, who really has all of the answers?

There are other behaviours (yes I am spelling this like a Canadian or a Brit), but this list is a great one.

So, I hope that you enjoy reading these posts. I seemed to have loved a lot of posts from this time around, but I do think that they are pretty great.

Until next time, be sure to check out our Twitter Feed and our website for more information!

Shel Israel: How Technology Is Changing the Buyer-Seller Relationship

Are you ready? Is your company ready? Technology is drastically changing the buyer-seller relationship and your survival could depend on just how proactive your business is. In today’s post, I catch up with Shel Israel, co-author of The Age of Context to get an update on how technology has developed in the year and a half since the book’s release. 

Shel Israel

Shel Israel

MacLean: First off, what project are you working on now that has you really excited?

IsraelI am working on a book that is intended to serve as a sequel to The Age of Context. In that book, Robert Scoble and I looked at the technologists. In this new book I am looking more at how businesses are using contextual technologies.

The book also examines how this technology is shifting power from the seller to the buyer through social media, reviews and star ratings.

MacLean: In The Age of Context you and Robert Scoble focused on wearable technology or wearable computing. A lot has transpired since then, what is your take on where we are headed? Was Google Glass just ahead of its time? Keeping in mind that Apple just launched their watch.

Israel:  In the short time since The Age of Context was published, a great deal has happened. The new era is becoming a reality far faster than I had imagined. In my new book, my attention expands from just those who are making new world-changing technology to those who are adopting it in existing businesses to enhance customer experiences.

This is a new era and there will be a great many experiments. We pioneer the future by trying and failing. One of the grandest and most visionary experiments so far is Google Glass. In itself, Glass was no success. But it has already spawned vertical apps that will endure. For example digital eye-wear is being used in surgery, where a remote expert can help a less experienced local practitioner. Elite auto brands such as Ferrari are using digital eye-wear to let factory experts assist local mechanics worldwide. A blind athlete named Lex Gillette has adapted Google Glass into his artificial eyes so that he can live-stream his races to handicapped children’s classrooms in real time, where kids see precisely what he sees in real time.

There will be more. Issues such as apps, battery, tethering to the phone, will be resolved either by Google or some other company who will owe its success to Google’s spectacularly brilliant first-round failure.

MacLean: It seems to follow that sensor data and sensor technology continues to be growing like crazy. There is so much potential. What is your take on where things are headed in this area? Have there been any surprises for you since the book has come out?

IsraelRobert and I now fold sensors into the larger category of the Internet of Things. This area is experiencing exponential growth. My focus has been in places where customer experience is being enhanced in retail: malls, department stores, stadiums, airports, concert halls, etc.

This is important to merchants.  For 20 years online retail has been sucking customers out of stores, and onto web sites. Now, the stores are using contextual technologies to enhance the customer experience at every touch point from, in-store mapping, to personalized text discount offers, to mobile apps that lock-and-unlock dressing room doors, knowing which customer can be allowed access. 

The surprise with sensors is not the devices themselves, which are simple little things that notice change and signal the change elsewhere, usually into the cloud. The real action is in the massive adoption we are seeing in proximity platforms such as Beacons, NewAer Proximity Platform and the hopes of Qualcomm LTE Direct which will be released in 2016 where Wi-Fi will replace Bluetooth, thus vastly expanding range and direct communications.

MacLean: Social media and social networking continues to thrive, but there have been some negatives. Do you think that people will begin to pull back a bit from social media, particularly in light of privacy concerns and/or data mining?

IsraelActually, I see the opposite.

Social media has become a mature platform. Those exciting days when large brands allowed real people to speak as humans from a brand blog or Twitter account has sadly diminished. Social Voices like Scott Monty at Ford, Richard Binhammer at Dell and Frank Eliason at Comcast are no more.

But the amazing phenomenon is that brand marketers have lost their control in social media because they could not learn how to converse as peers with customers. So now people use social media to talk with each other; our friends and previous customers influence much of what we buy, where we eat, what we watch and listen to. Customers do this in social media, on social networks in customer reviews, in star ratings of Uber and Lyft mobile apps. The brands are diminishing in exercising control over influence and message. There is a power shift that is diminishing the brands and elevating the customers. This is fundamental and wonderful in my view.

As for privacy, I have been researching Millennials a lot in recent months for the new book. They are far more concerned about the quality of their experiences, than their personal privacy. They see it more as transaction where they will volunteer personal data in exchange for a better customer experience online or in stores. There are now more Millennials in the marketplace than aging Boomers like me. 

Privacy is becoming less of an issue. What is replacing it is a sense of transaction: I will let you know who I am, where I am and what I want. In return for that, you will make my shopping/buying experience easier than ever before. If you want to put offers in front of me, that’s fine, just as long as they are personalized based on what I am interested in.

Marketers need to stop talking and start listening. [Heh, I’ve been saying that for ten years-but I guess they aren’t listening]. People tell marketers everything the need to know voluntarily on social networks already. We announce when are planning a vacation, a night out  at a restaurant or for entertainment over a billion  times every week on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. It is public and there for the culling by any marketer who cares to pay attention or understands how to search unstructured data.

All marketers have to do to make more money and profits and improve customer relationships and acquisition, is to pay attention to what customers are saying online, and in public. 

MacLean: Naturally you can’t speak of, or think of, social media and privacy without thinking about location data. Do you think that the concern around privacy might impact app development in this area? Or, are the apps just so cool and useful that people will accept the risk?

Israel: I think the shock and outrage related to personal data is subsiding. I think most people understand what is going on and have decided the upside of what this technology can do is worth the cost-because the apps improve the user/customer experience.

Yes, the apps are so cool. However, users have more choices than ever before, and they will have even more choices for at least the next few years.  They will choose the apps and merchants who give them the best experiences for the loss of their personal data. They also will prefer doing business with companies that allow them a few filtering options, as well as the right to correct wrong data and the ability to opt out during private moments.

MacLean: What impact do you think all of this has on business? Are businesses really leveraging technology and data the way they could be, or still in a wait and see mode?

IsraelAll this is new stuff in a new age, one in which users have far more control than has previously been possible.  For tangible retail, and other customer-facing businesses, this is a new hope. As mentioned we have witnessed online technologies for the last 20 years sucking customers out of the stores. Now with contextual technologies, particularly mobile apps, and proximity platforms such as Beacons, etc. they are modernizing the experiences in malls, stores, stadiums, airplane terminals, and concert halls.

Merchants are using this stuff in new ways, some of it is a bit clumsy, but there are other experiments that show great promise, such as smart mannequins that know when a loyalty program enrollee is interested in an item and wants to try it on. It can signal a clerk who then puts the garment, in the right color and size into a dressing room. The customer then uses a mobile app to unlock the dressing room door and try on the item.

In airports, there will soon be apps that tell shoppers how much time it will take them to get to the gate based on the walking speed that the mobile app is observing.

It’s amazing stuff and it has all just begun.

MacLean: What impact is all of this having on conversations with customers and prospects?

Israel: Contextual technology is now weaving itself into the fabric of the buyer-seller relationship. The data we just discussed, allows the seller to treat all participating customers as individuals, making offers and giving assistance when needed and being unobtrusive when that’s what the customer wants.

What’s also very important here are conversations between customers. We tell each other what and where to buy, travel, eat, watch and listen to. Technology has given customers great power to influence, recommend and warn against brands, and brands have less influence over customer decisions as customers rise in power.

MacLean: How are you using technology differently than you were a year ago?

IsraelIn the last year, I have not really changed much. I have my own portable, Wi-Fi and switched back to non-Bluetooth phones. I have probably double the number of mobile apps I am using. 

The real issue is that I am using more, much more, technology in more ways. I am using it more with family members and medical service providers. I am paying for more with online checking and starting to make mobile cheque deposits-although I get paid increasingly through electronic systems.

Want to talk more about using technology in your business? Connect with us.

The Customer Service Lies You Continue To Tell

Customer service! It can set you apart from your competitors. It really can – either in a good way…or a really, really horrible way. If you and your staff really understand and “care” about your brand, both you and your staff will deliver GREAT customers service. Unfortunately, if neither you nor your staff care, it is quite obvious. Customer service in this case is non-existent.  Customer Service

About a month ago I experienced the latter. (I actually wrote this blog post the day after, but decided to wait to see if I would still feel the same weeks later. I do.) I was meeting up with a couple of different people and decided to go to a new Starbucks in my city. I was looking forward to checking out the new spot. It’s location has great parking and it was convenient for me as I had other errands to run afterwards. Overall, they “get” location, location, location.

When I first walked in, I was impressed with the ascetics. It looked great….on the surface. Once I was in and my eyes adjusted from the bright sunlight, there was more than first appeared. First and foremost there were six people working behind the counter. Three were working the drive thru – although there were no cars going through. They were engaged in conversation with each other and two others that were behind the counter. Meanwhile, I stood patiently and waited for someone to wait on me. Did anyone disengage from their personal conversations while a customer waited? Nope. I timed it – six and a half minutes. In the big picture, not a lifetime I realize. In customer service terms however…ya, it was a #fail. I did “finally” get waited on  by the sixth person working, but only after she finished flirting with the guy in front of me and messing up his order in between the giggling and goings on. Hey, I get that. I was a teenage girl once too. But..and there is a but, I would not make a customer wait. I worked as a teenager too! I would ensure that “someone” else took care of the customer waiting. After all, there were five other people standing behind the counter. The rest of the crew however, were just too engrossed in their own socializing. Again, a customer service #fail. I should also note that there was at least one other staff person on site.Customer Service

After being served my coffee and a snack I headed to get a napkin and a lid. This area was a complete and utter disaster. Someone obviously didn’t know how to use the cinnamon shaker. The stuff was all over the place. There was garbage everywhere. It was clear that the six people working there had not cleaned this area in some time. Considering I was there in the morning, I think it was safe to say it was like that the day before.

When I claimed a table, it was not much better. I had to remove the dirty dishes, used napkins and clean up the crumbs. I did look for a cleaner area, but this one was the best, so I settled in.

Approximately 15-20 minutes later, I saw another person emerge from the back of the store. I almost think that she might have been a member of management. This is an assumption on my part because she was clearly more mature than the rest of the team. I thought, o.k. finally someone is going to get these workers..well..working. To my dismay she walked out, looked around and smiled at everyone in the restaurant, but she seemed completely oblivious to the employees who were much more interested in socializing amongst themselves than serving customers and keeping the place clean. She quickly retreated to the back area again and I didn’t see her again.

This was quite disappointing to me as I have a lot of respect for the Starbucks brand. I often use them as case study examples in a lot of my workshops that I deliver. They really do a lot of things well. And, in fairness I did live Tweet about the incident and @starbuckshelp did respond. This is one of the things that they do well – social media. I appreciate that they were listening and did take steps to correct. I haven’t been back, but I will give the new store one more try. Customer Service

So, what is GREAT Customer Service? Here is my take on it:

G = Genuine people are easy to pick out. This can also be said about people who are not genuine. 

Employers need to consciously hire for genuine people. If your staff are more interested in flirting with the cute guy in line versus serving other clients and/or keeping your restaurant clean, you have a serious issue. Employers need to be fully convinced that the staff they are hiring genuinely believe and can extol the values of your business and deliver on your brand promise.

R = Respectful people believe that everyone should be treated well. They understand the value of each person.

E = Exceptional people have a need, no a desire for continuous improvement. Exceptional people can and should be at all levels of the organization. Of course the trick here is that employers need to reward exceptional behaviour. This is a must.

A = Attention to Detail is an asset not everyone has. Unlike some other attributes, this is one that you can train someone to be good at. Taking the steps to ensure that the small things that make a difference are taken care of is something that can set your organization apart. Of course ensuring your establishment is clean is not something that falls into this category. That is something that “just” meets minimum standards.

T = Thoughtful people think of others and how their actions impact others.

Are you hiring for GREAT customer service? Want to learn more about how GREAT customer service can make a difference in delivering on your brand promise, contact us for a *free consultation.

NOTE: *This is a limited time offer.

The Secret Behind Every Successful Executive and Business: Reinvention

Have you ever wondered what makes some people more successful than others? Sure, talent and experience are a part of the equation, but there is an even more important component – reinvention. Really successful people don’t stand still. They are constantly changing and reinventing themselves. For a more in-depth look at this, I had the chance, on behalf of Opportunities NB to speak to Dorie Clark, author of Reinventing You and the soon to be released Stand Out.

MacLean: Reinvention is an interesting concept, which in this economic climate is likely more important than ever. What was the driver for this book?

Dorie Clark

Dorie Clark

Clark: Certainly through my own career and observing others, I realized that we are being called upon far more than we ever have to reinvent ourselves. It is really an anomaly to stay in one job or with one company throughout your career. It just isn’t the norm any longer. The world is changing so quickly, that people need to be able to change with it.

For example, I started out as a reporter and got laid off. I worked on a number of political campaigns and we lost. It took a while for me to find my own professional footing, but I did. I discovered a lot about the process in doing so. Now, for the last nine years, I have my own consulting business, I write, speak professionally, etc. So, it was that process that really got me interested and I spoke to dozens of people who also went through reinventing themselves. I wanted to capture best practices and give readers the tools to do it for themselves in a faster more efficient manner.

One of the people I spoke with for Reinventing You was Steven Rice, Executive Vice President, Juniper Networks in Silicon Valley. One of the things he shared with me was a question he always asks in interviews. The question: what are you doing to reinvent yourself?  He does this because he knows that the positions he is hiring for now, will likely be substantially different in two years. So, he needs to know if the candidates will have the agility and willingness to reinvent themselves. 

MacLean: Our economy and world is really changing as you mentioned, what do you think about organizations that exclude talent because they may have changed jobs several times in a three or five year period?

Clark: I think that is a ridiculously outdated notion and it might be that people who still propound this don’t fully understand how the economy has changed the landscape.

Of course you can look at a resume and make assumptions about why someone might have been in roles for a short period of time. But without further investigation, you might not fully understand the person has been working short-term contracts, held temporary positions or have had the misfortune of being laid off. Things are just not black and white anymore. Quite frankly by excluding such people, you are overlooking a huge talent pool with tremendous potential and experience. 

Layoffs, changing economies and changing work dynamics are all great reasons for people to take control of their careers. People need to be able to identify what is needed for the next change or the next role they will be in. They can’t wait for or expect someone to do it for them.

At the same time, I think that it is important for companies to realize that they tipped the scales in the 1990’s with huge layoffs. This created a realization for a lot of people that there wasn’t a huge benevolence occurring within the corporate world. As a result perhaps the most talented and marketable employees are keeping an eye on what was happening in the marketplace and often times jumping ship. It is now more important for employers to be aware of this and incentivizing their most marketable employees in order to keep them. Essentially, companies need to put more thought into the talent pipeline that they have and specifically how they approach retention. 

MacLean: Reinventing yourself is really about developing and maintaining your personal brand. Do people connect with the term “personal brand”? There are certainly critics.

Clark: As mentioned, the book came about as a result of my own experience, but it really goes deeper than that. I wrote a blog post on reinvention for Harvard Business Review and it was so popular that they asked me to expand it into a full length magazine piece and then a book.

So, yes people do connect with their personal brand. It is, after all, a synonym for your reputation. And, yes there has been some blow back in relation to building your personal brand. It is a modern term. It was inaugurated in 1997 by Tom Peters in a cover story he wrote for Fast Company, called The Brand Called You, but the concepts are much older. Because it really is your reputation, I would challenge any professional that claims he or she doesn’t care about their reputation, or doesn’t think it is important. Paying attention to your reputation – your personal brand – is important.

MacLean: You have really had a tremendous level of support and commentary from people about your book and their personal experiences, what can you tell us about that?

Clark: I have really been heartened by the response. There are so many people with so many stories. It is incredible. One such person is Blaire Hughes, a reader from Australia. He was a teacher by profession, but really wanted to get into the world of sports. After reading the book and using the self-assessment, he was able to set up internships around the world and he found a job that he absolutely loves.

MacLean: How important is it for the C-Suite in the process of reinvention?

ClarkReinvention is important at a corporate level and at an individual level. RIM for example, needed to reinvent itself into Blackberry and they are still evolving. It really comes down to the fact that if you find yourself in a position of what used to work, no longer working, you need to find a new find a new playbook. If you don’t, you are going to be out of business or out of work. Of course, it is also important that you don’t wait until the last minute. You need to be continually scanning the horizon for trends and plan accordingly. You don’t want to face a cataclysmic disruption and shift.

In fact, I like to think about reinvention in two phases:

  • First there is Reinvention with a capital “R: With Reinvention the change may be associated with something that doesn’t happen very often. For example, a complete career change or something that happens over a period of several years. 
  • Then there is reinvention with a small “r”. This reinvention is more about having an attribute of trying and being open and doing small activities that keep us fresh enough so that we are not thrown flat on our faces when bigger changes happen.

MacLean: What role do leaders play in reinvention?

Clark: Leaders play a critical role in encouraging people to reinvent themselves. They must create a culture for this. When you are reinventing yourself, or your organization, there is an iteration process. Some things will work and some things won’t. People need to in an environment where they feel safe to try and pivot when things don’t work. If however, you work in an environment that expects perfection, people won’t try. The culture won’t accept “trying”. This is dangerous. In these environments people won’t grow and neither will the organization.

MacLean: You have a new book coming out on April 21st, what can you tells us about that?

Clark: I am very excited about it. Stand Out, How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It is for people who have reinvented themselves and now want to build on it. For example, how do you become the recognized expert in your field? There are many voices out there and there are some people who are very noisy and they stand out. They might not have the best idea or the most knowledge, they are just the loudest. I wanted to hear what some of the world’s top thought leaders did to stand out. I interviewed 50 of these people and reverse engineered how they achieved what they did. It is my goal that this book will help people take the next step.

Want to learn more about Dorie Clark and her work and books? Click here. 

This blog post was prepared for Opportunities New Brunswick.

Social Media Profiles

3 Easy Tips to Freshen Up Your Social Media Profiles

When was the last time you updated your social media profiles? Has it been awhile? It has…hasn’t it? I know, I know, it can be daunting when you haven’t touched them in awhile. But relax, we have some really easy tips to freshen up your social media profiles. And, now is a perfect time to update your social profiles. After all, they are an extension of who you are – your personal brand. What do your profiles say about you? Let’s dig in:

1. Picture This!

Still have the egg avatar on Twitter? Is your LinkedIn image your company logo? It’s time to get a headshot of you! Remember, these are your personal reputation assets and they should serve as a way for people to recognize you, not your employer.

We know from research that profiles with photos get more views. Why? Well, primarily it’s about human nature. People want to connect with people. After all, social media is a means to be social, so be social. Say cheese!

Social Media Profiles

2. Don’t be Bio Shy

Whether in Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and on and on, be sure to always complete your bio. Do you have to write a book about who you are? Of course not. Each channel however, does have different character limitations in terms of length. A general rule of thumb is shorter is better. If you have a longer bio, you can always put a link to your page.

Social Media Profiles

3. Some Simple but VERY Important LinkedIn Profile Tips:

  • Be sure to include a summary at the top of your profile, but please, please and please don’t speak in the third-person. That is just weird and creepy!
  • Update your LinkedIn url to be reflective of your name and not the default.
  • And be sure to turn of your auto notification setting so that every time you edit your profile, notifications aren’t sent out to your network. It’s easy to do really…just go to your Privacy and Settings click on “Manage” and then click on the “Turn on/off your activity broadcasts” as noted below. This will help ensure that you aren’t inundating people.

Social Media Profiles

Of course there are many other things that you can do to improve your profiles, but these are the basics that every professional can easily implement within only a few minuts …well maybe not the photo, but everything else. Your social profiles are an extension of you, the story you tell about yourself. They are your personal brand. Take control!

Looking for help with your marketing and social media? Click here, we’ve got you covered!