Corporate Character

“Corporate Character is the intellectual and moral qualities that distinguish one company from another.” If you were to look at a ‘best value’ bid in Arlington County, VA you would find the following evaluation criteria used to award contracts: “(the County considers) the character, integrity, reputation, judgment, experience, and efficiency of the bidder.” Did you catch that, your clients are interested in the character of your company, not just your fee. They want to know the quintessence of who you are, your reputation, and why you’re the best; they want to understand your Corporate Character.

Inside and Out
Your Corporate Character is made up of hundreds of things that can be separated into two categories: how you are viewed (external) and who you are (internal). The external attributes of your Corporate Character are easy to understand and easy to change, they include your brand, public relations, reputation, sales, and customer service. The internal attributes of your Corporate Character are much more complicated, they include your corporate culture, integrity, honesty, judgment, moral standard, and experience.

Wrapping Paper on a Bad Gift
The external attributes of your Corporate Character are easy to change, but like wrapping paper on a bad gift, they only cover the underlying problem temporarily. To truly change how your company is viewed in the marketplace you must start by changing the internal attributes of your Corporate Character.

Your Corporate Character
It is the inside out approach to changing Corporate Character that builds a company which your clients will want to work with, one that has the “character, integrity, reputation, judgment, experience, and efficiency” to be trusted.

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#1 Best Seller, Thank You!

I just wanted to say thank you to everyone here at Cofebuz for your help making the launch of “Network Like an Introvert” such an amazing success.  I was truly humbled this past month as the book rocketed to being a #1 Best Seller in the Sales and Selling category on Amazon and became the #1 Hot New Release in the Marketing and Sales category!  I am even more excited about the stories of people changing how they act as they have learned about networking from a new perspective, after all, that is how I will define the true success or failure of the book.  I’ll keep you posted as things unfold, but Thank You again!

Network Like an Introvert – My New Book!

My new book Network Like an Introvert is finally here!  I can honestly say that I had no idea just how much work goes into writing a book, so I am extra excited to announce the launch today.  Special thanks go out to everyone that was involved in the project over the past two years, especially Richard Klabunde (that’s my Dad) and Matt Handal.  I am proud to say that Network Like an Introvert is being published by Mark Buckshon and Asset Beam Publishing Ltd.  Please take a moment to order a copy, marvel at the new things you learn, and write an amazing review on Amazon.

About Network Like an Introvert:

For years introverts have been told that in order to succeed at networking they should follow extroverted and sales-driven tactics that are counter to their personalities. Network Like an Introvert takes on these false assumptions and looks at the lives of introverts that have succeeded at networking without trying to be someone they are not. Written by an introvert, for introverts, this book will give you a refreshing approach to networking that will leave you with the tools and plan to build a successful network.

To find out more about this book and to read what others are saying please check it out on Amazon.

The Key to Great Conversations

Great conversations start when people have something in common. For my second video in this series I wanted to share with you a little secret I use to help ensure that I can find common ground quickly when I meet someone new.  Not only is it simple, but you’ll find it is fun to implement as well!

For those that subscribe to CofeBuz via email here is a link to the video: http://youtu.be/225wZaf8f2A

QR Codes: Rules, Response Rates, and Opportunity

I recently began testing the use of QR (Quick Reference) Codes in an effort to see how they could be leveraged as a new marketing tool. I have scanned these square barcode style codes using my smart phone plenty of times before, but usually when reading an advertisement or brochure in an effort to learn more about the product or service being sold. My objective, however, was a bit different: I wanted to see what it would take to transform these codes into a tool that could help me build relationships more effectively for our company, and ultimately bring more work in the door.

If you aren’t familiar with Quick Reference or QR Codes, they were created in 1994 by a Toyota subsidiary Denso Wave. You have probably seen these square codes numerous times even if you haven’t ever scanned one. The rapid increase in the use of the codes for marketing is, in part, a result of their ease of use, and because Denso Wave chose to make the codes available for free without licensing requirements. As a result, QR Codes can be easily implemented into a marketing program with less effort than it takes to ensure you have the proper licensing to use a stock photographic image.

Common uses for QR Codes

You have probably seen the codes in numerous places, but throughout our industry and others QR Codes are being leveraged in a number of marketing platforms to provide an additional connection point with clients. The most common uses include:

  • Brochures – QR Codes are often used in brochures as a way for the reader to find additional information. Recently I scanned a code that led to a short YouTube video with additional images and information.
  • Post Cards – An effective post card traditionally has an action for the reader to take. QR Codes can help the reader take those actions even if they don’t have immediate access to a computer.
  • Advertising – Including QR codes in print advertising is increasingly being used to direct potential clients to additional information imbedded in videos or websites. Hickok Cole Architects in Washington, D.C. even started an industry scavenger hunt with QR Codes in a recent advertising campaign.
  • Business Cards – Including a QR Code on the back of your business card can create an easy way for contacts to download your vCard or to connect using social media.
  • Promotional Products – Many companies are having QR Codes printed on promotional products such as t-shirts that are given away at special events and trade shows.

Response Rates and Opportunity

As with any new marketing tool, it is important to start with research into the associated hit rate. A recent study at the Harvard campus showed a response rate of 0.3% when 160 signs that were distributed to gauge a response to the QR code experiment. For comparison purposes, this rate is analogous to the hit rate on your average post card mailing. For the study, half of the signs had instructions on the use of QR Codes and half did not. Notably 60% of the activated codes were from the versions with detailed instruction on how to use the QR Code, indicating that the awareness about QR code usage is still in an embryonic stage. Therein lies the opportunity for marketers to take advantage of this new tool, but it also shows that in order to increase your hit rates it is highly advantageous to provide detailed instructions on the use of QR Codes when using them in marketing.

Knowing the QR Code Rules

As with every marketing tool there are a handful of best practices that every marketer should know to effectively implement the tool. For QR Codes consider the following 5 rules:

  1. Smart-phone friendly – QR Codes are designed to be scanned by smart phones. Don’t send out a post card with a QR Code that leads to a website that is not smart phone friendly.
  2. Keep it short – Every character that you place into a QR Code must be translated into the code, thus be certain you shorten links before creating your code by using a website such as http://bit.ly If you want to use the QR Code for a complex function such as sharing a vCard consider developing a smart-phone friendly webpage that you can embed the vCard in since QR Codes with too many characters will not be readable by every smart-phone.
  3. Provide value – Don’t use QR Codes just because they exist, instead ensure that they provide value or your hit ratio will suffer.
  4. Instructions – Remember the Harvard campus study and give instructions on how to use QR Codes until you are certain that your target audience knows how to use them.
  5. Have fun – Get outside the box with designer QR codes. Check out www.customqrcodes.com for unique QR Code graphics that will set you apart from others in the industry.

Building Relationships: Scan Here to Connect

As I have been experimenting with QR Codes, one of the most successful ways I have used the code is on my business cards. For an industry built on relationships it didn’t take long to discover that using the codes to focus on individuals quickly led to new connections and new project leads. For testing purposes I created a quick smart-phone friendly website (www.TimKlabunde.com) that contains links to all of my social media connect points including LinkedIn, Twitter, Plaxo, my blog Cofebuz, and YouTube. In addition, I created an easy link for visitors to download my vCard. I then created a QR Code at http://qrcode.kaywa.com and imprinted it on the back of my business cards.

The results have been intriguing to say the least. From a website analytics perspective, the hits have been much better than I expected and far better than the Harvard campus study: about 1 in 4 recipients have scanned the code. The true success of the experiment, however, has been the conversations that hatched when I first handed someone my business card. The QR Code has become a topic in-and-of itself, as it opens discussions related to the most effective uses of technology in marketing.

Technology as a Tool

As marketers, we often see new technology like QR Codes and begin to use it just because it exists. The problem is that technology for technology’s sake does not create great marketing. Great marketing happens when tools are leveraged together to meet a predetermined set of objectives, and in our industry that objective must be the establishment and furthering of great relationships.

This article, written by CofeBuz author Tim Klabunde, was published in the August edition of Marketer magazine.

What TO DO when networking

A couple of weeks ago we took a look at what not to do when networking. I thought it only appropriate to follow-up this week with a couple of helpful hints about what to do when networking:

  1. Don’t stress out. Networking is just building relationships, and the easiest way to do that is to help others first.
  2. When you meet someone listen for their name and use it after 1 minute of conversation. It reinforces your interest in them as a person and your interest in your conversation.
  3. Come prepared with three stories (children, vacation, social, etc.); stories provide interest and usually lead to follow-up questions and discussion. Remember: a story paints a picture, and a picture is worth a thousand words (and a thousand points of connection).
  4. Stray away from “business” quickly in your conversations.
  5. Focus on helping the people that you meet, not helping yourself. Would the person you are speaking with benefit from you introducing them to someone else you know in the room? Do you have information that the person you are speaking with might benefit from?
  6. Follow-up. Can you offer to do something tomorrow, and can you remember to do it?

In all that you do, remember to be yourself. When you are yourself and just focus on developing great friendships awesome things happen.

Under-appreciated people, networking, and relationships

redwineIf you were to open my top left desk drawer you would find two things in it, a bottle of wine and a bottle of champagne. I don’t keep them in my drawer because they were left over from last years’ holiday party; they are there to thank others for their help making us successful.

Under-appreciated people
In the fast paced business environment prevalent today, I have found that people are generally under-appreciated. Think back over the past year about how many times you helped other people, perhaps it is a hundred or a thousand times? Now think about how many thank you notes you have received. I often ask this question when speaking on networking and have found that only about 5% of people in any given room have received a thank you note in the past three months!

Appreciation Benefits
Did you ever consider the benefits of taking the extra time to say thank you? Here are two benefits you may consider:

  1. Thanking people reinforces the behaviour you are thanking them for and increases the chances that that behaviour will be repeated in the future.
  2. Showing gratitude helps to build your relationship and differentiates you from the hundreds of other people that the other person works with.

Go buy some champagne
Consider taking a moment to ensure that others know that you are genuinely thankful for their efforts. The holiday season is a great time to start, but remember that it is something that benefits everyone regardless of the time of year.