The Illusion of Convenience

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Mobile communication illustration conceptSome day it may become an instruction manual on how to entrap an entire population; how to get everyone to do what you want them to… and have them walk casually and confidently into your trap. It could be a science fiction thriller and may already be.

It’s the illusion of convenience.

My cell phone is convenient. It’s so convenient that I take it everywhere. I use it as a repository of all my information. I store everything from movies and music to books and photos. It stores a record of everyone I call (and when).  It tracks where I go (GPS) and what I buy and may soon become my electronic credit card. My boarding pass for air travel is available on my cell phone too.  There’s more as you know, much more.

I’m not paranoid, I just ask questions.

I still use my phone for all the above (and more) but it has occurred to me that without that phone, I might be lost, both figuratively and actually. I guess I am trapped. Trapped into paying about $80 a month for this “convenience” that I like to use, but just so happens to track my every move. Soon, it will monitor my heartbeat, my blood pressure, my activity levels and my sleep. Wow, what a convenience.

Even your actual movements are tracked.

Mobile GPS navigation flat illustrationDo you use Google Maps or Waze? They are both very convenient. Waze shows you everything going on around you as you drive while providing point to point navigation. Both it also records your every move. But not just where you go but how fast you drive, how hard you brake, when you drive (rush hour? late at night?) and where you stop.

So let’s see…who would just love to know that information? Maybe your insurance company could send you a new policy based on the way you drive. Hey, it’s a convenience, right? The pitch would be “safe drivers, save money!” What you don’t know is how they define “safe.” Maybe those with the lowest rates are those who drive the least! Interesting, right?

What to do, now that we know it’s happening.

Nothing really to do. Just enjoy the convenience of your device, continue to “check in” on Yelp, Facebook and Foursquare. You might get a free glass of Coke for checking in as you are increasingly populating that company’s digital profile on you. Everyone does it, no big deal. Privacy used to be important, now it’s not. Maybe that’s OK. After all, if you fear transparency maybe you have something to hide, argues those powers who need your data to make a living.

If you want to dive deep and see the full extent of what’s being tracked as you surf the web or wander this world with your cell phone, watch this 60 Minutes profile.

The 60 Minutes Profile on The Data Brokers

Who wants to know all this information about YOU?

Lots of companies already do. And want to sell that information for a profit. So what if companies have built a literally perfect profile of who you are based on your cell phone usage and browser tracking?  So what if your medical condition, your choice of restaurants and travel are known by others? You don’t care, do you? You knew all this was going on. You realized that all this convenience wasn’t actually free, right?

It’s happening anyway, make it work for you.

Spy SatelliteDo you have a business that can benefit from knowing when people drive or walk  past your store or your competitor’s store? Do you sell something based on proximity? If so, there are lots of ways to buy targeted client leads. Be creative and think about how your company can use location data to boost business.

If you really didn’t think much before about targeted data and advertising, let this be your wake-up call. The goal is to make it your bitch. Use it for your own purposes and have it make you money.

Developing a plan to use targeted data to make you money!

Step 1: The Lifetime Value of  Your Client

You will need to know what a targeted lead is worth in dollars and cents.  So let’s calculate the lifetime value of your client. The lifetime value of a client is equal to an average of how long a client stays with you (their lifetime) and how much they spend (their value). Lets say a customer stays with you for an average of five years. Then add up all sales revenue over that period of time and divide that number by the number of clients. If you had 1000 clients over five years and they generated five million dollars, then the lifetime value of each customer is $5,000.00. That client relationship could have started with a free report or a $47 information product.

Now, what would you pay to reach that ideal client? What are you paying now for leads and at what rate are you converting those leads to sales? If you pay $20 a lead and convert one out of five, then a sale costs $100 for that lead. I know that first sale might be just the beginning of a longer relationship so it’s probably OK to lose money on that sale if bigger sales are right around the corner.

Step 2: The Client Avatar

Next, profile your ideal client. This is called the client avatar. Use your best guess based on your current client population. You are looking for: age, geographic, psychographic, habits and hobbies so you can find more people who meet those criteria. If you don’t know much about your clients, that’s where Facebook can help. You can upload your best customer list and Facebook will show you the general characteristics of your client base. If you tell Facebook to “get me more like these,” Facebook will tell you how many people are available who match that profile and there may be millions of potential clients on Facebook that you might never have found on your own. That custom audience tool can deliver to you nearly exact matches to your own client base.

woman in the car phoneStep 3: Take Action!

Armed with this information, you can start buying targeted leads. Facebook is the obvious place to start but other web sites have great targeting tools that help you find targeted leads too. Other sites that track their membership in detail are Yelp and Foursquare. Both have targeted geographic advertising programs.

This isn’t just for location based businesses. Google Ads, Bing Ads and many other services  are also utilizing targeted data profiles to select clients. ALL search engines track your path through  browser cookies as you surf the web. Patterns are recognized, words and search terms are recognized and most are discarded and somewhat random but those patterns can be purchased. For example, you can buy the right to contact everyone who has (or is likely to have) a dog by targeting a consumer’s dog food shopping habits.

Using this same technology, you could upload your prospect list to Facebook, build a custom look-alike audience, compare the results to your own client list and weed out those prospects less likely to buy. Then invest in that list, your ideal client profile list. Your odds of selling are far better when you match prospect profiles to client profiles.

Big Brother is Your Friend

No one is going to stop using their cell phone to prevent personal tracking. But since it goes on anyway and since you are a business person responsible for revenue, make use of it! What I covered today is a fraction of what is possible using targeted data.

When I set up a call center for a client, I use customized CID data feeds to “pop” an inbound caller’s profile onto a sales rep’s screen before she even answers the phone. The rep can see if it’s a customer or prospect calling and can scan the caller’s profile before taking the call.

Need a little help integrating custom, targeted leads into your systems? Let me know.

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Lessons from Shark Tank

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If you haven’t watched Shark Tank on CNBC, you are missing one heck of a show. It’s filled with the drama and ego of its rich and successful investor panel pitted against novice startup CEOs ranging from sweet little girls to guys who surf for a living.

The goal of the show is simple: Present your business idea and if you survive your immersion into the tank, you could receive millions in investment money and the guidance of business geniuses who are profoundly successful.

What’s the catch?

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The elephant’s dilemma

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photodune-5578509-elephant-xs

As a little boy, I loved going to the circus with my dad. It was Saturday and we stood in line in front of the animal tents, waiting to buy a ticket. I noticed the elephants were right in front of us. I always loved elephants and have been fascinated by stories of their wisdom, memory and strength. That particular day, all the elephants were tied up to a single stake in the ground.

I asked my dad “Why don’t the elephants escape?” He smiled and looked at me with his kind, gentle eyes and said “They can’t, they are tied up. And besides, where would they go? They have food and water, shelter and friendship here at the circus.” He seemed satisfied with his answer but it left me troubled.

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Why I Love Infomercials

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Can YOU sell on Television?True Confessions

I have to admit a guilty pleasure: I love infomercials. Actually it’s worse than that. I love junk mail, too. I even love those live demos at the home show where they sell overpriced pots, pans, knives, and miracle window cleaning fluid. I enjoy listening to every one of those pitches.  Why? Because every one of them is a lesson in selling.

Actually I love marketing and selling. I’ve been marketing and selling something all my life. Every time I sit through a sales presentation and allow myself to feel the magic of a great performance work inside my brain convincing me I desperately need the very gadget they are selling, I am taking mental notes on what really works… and what doesn’t. There are a lot of smart, subtle techniques that work great, and you can pick them out if you are listening for them. Can you guess what some of those are?

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The Entrepreneur’s 10 Commandments

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photodune-6684582-top-10-xsIs it easier or harder to start a company in 2014 than it was in 1985?

This became the basis for a fun conversation among my friends and me as we enjoyed a good meal at a nice restaurant. As our evening progressed, the laughter drowned out the waiter as we shared stories of our lives and our startup adventures. Stories that were sad and poignant then are funny…. finally! Like when I couldn’t make payroll and had to use credit cards or when smoke from a fire next door wiped out our manufacturing plant.  Yeah those were to good old days. :-)

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Time to Be Honest About Marketing

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Businessman Taking Oath

I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that as marketers, we forgot the sacredness of  accolades.   Words like “amazing,” “incredible” and “life changing” should be reserved for those things that actually are. I for one am sick of the constant barrage of false claims and outright lies that do nothing more than clutter my vision.

When are we going to demand honesty from those who sell us their products?

Do you actually trust any marketing you are exposed to? Think about it. Our entire system is designed to over-hype everything we sell. No one is immune to it, everyone knows about it and it seems as if no one believes it anyway.

So what about your own marketing? Have you read through your own web site and tried to put yourself in the position of the reader? Even if every word is true, does it sound like hype?

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The Golden Age of Failure

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Ways to FailIt’s bad, it’s tragic, it’s even horrible. To fail that is.  Seems like there’s a lot of it these days. Banks failing, cities and towns failing – even kids failing in school. How could any of this be good?

Some Interesting Failures

What if I told you that a particular guy named Fred submitted homework assignment to his economics teacher who gave him a “C” grade then went on the be a multi-billionaire later in life, would that surprise you?

What if I told you that his original idea was both flawed and brilliant at the same time, and he should have realized it would never have worked, but had the germ of an incredible idea, does that sound familiar?

Who am I talking about?

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How to Start Anything

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The PlanEntrepreneurs are, by definition natural born starters. If you are one, you know  the passion of the process and the inevitable crush of reality that follows.

You’ve always been this way. Your passion becomes all consuming and then the slow burn of commitment sets in with the unsubstantiated knowledge that your way will win; your way will beat the odds. That you don’t have to listen to anyone who doubts you or your idea. Entrepreneurship is a mindset. But it’s also a skill perfected over the course of several attempts.

Like any good mentor, my job is to help you skip the more painful mistakes and learn from mine instead.

Do you have an idea, a vision, a product improvement that is burning a hole in your mental pocket? Good. Then lets get started.

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The Purpose of Marketing

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Photo used with permission from: www.topspeed.com

Photo permission from: www.topspeed.com

I started to think about how much the “how” of marketing has changed over the years. As you realize, it’s completely different in almost every respect than it was 5 years ago. It’s almost as if a new marketing channel or vehicle is available daily.

Do you remember when life was simple? There was Radio (AM/FM that is) TV (all 13 channels) and print (newspapers and magazines.) Lets not forget The Yellow Pages.

Marketing tools get more and more sophisticated but unfortunately some people seem to have forgotten the entire point of it; The Purpose of Marketing.

Question: What did Harley Davidson do to build a brand religion?

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Does Your Driving Reveal Your Personality?

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The Aggressive DriverNote: This post is tagged as “Just for Fun”

Years ago, I was building a management team for my software company, Timeslips Corp. and I had the strangest idea. I wondered if a candidate’s driving style a reflection of their personality or work style.

I am an “aggressive” driver. I like to push the speed limit and I enjoy moving quickly. I am not at all reckless, I am very careful and I love to drive.

I am well trained, I know how to sidestep accidents and problems when I have the chance. I am also an “aggressive” entrepreneur. I am always looking for a “better way” and that’s also my “why.” So I started to think; if my driving style reflects my own personality (in one respect) do other driving styles at some level define other’s personalities too?

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