Dear Customer Service - Let's not make this awkward...

Providing a positive customer experience from the moment a team intercepts an issue, to issue resolution is getting more difficult. With new forms of customer feedback (Social, Community, NPS, Surveys, Sales, Product Development, etc), how are companies analyzing and addressing this feedback?

Originally posted on LinkedIn Pulse, December 7, 2016

I don't make it a practice to complain via social media, but I work as a member of the Global Customer Success team so it makes sense for me to follow the subject matter closely. I follow customer care hashtags, watch social conversations, and pay attention to how companies follow up when disaster (or twitter) strikes.

Recently, I was staying at the Hyatt Regency next to one of our New York offices. I stay there often and never have issues. The staff is always gracious, the bartender is funny, the rooms are always nice and the guy who takes me to the office each morning always helps with my bags. Issue with my recent trip: I didn't get chocolate chip cookies. Let me explain.

 

Fellow marketeer, posted a check-in on twitter bragging about her Hyatt cookies. What the heck? I had also just checked-in and received nothing but a smile. I was half-joking when I replied on twitter and tagged my hotel - letting them know I didn't have alarm clock - or cookies (I really did not have a clock) The Hyatt social team immediately followed up:

I was stoked. This was my first twitter engagement that would include a cookie payout. I bragged about the encounter with my fellow teammates and couldn't wait to get back to the hotel. I opened the door, looked around. No cookies. Bummed, but I just shrugged it off, I didn't need the cookies anyway. (Who am I kidding?! I always need cookies.) I wanted to let the Hyatt social team know that if they did in-fact tell the hotel manager about my tweet, their efforts went for not. Again, I'm part of the customer care team for CA Technologies, so I want to hear when things go awry. They apologized via Twitter DM, and someone from the front desk immediately called my room. "Hello? Cookies?!"

Front desk manager said she was sorry she heard I was unpleased with my room. I assured her I was not, and it was just the missing alarm clock. She asked if I would like the alarm clock - "yes," I replied. No mention of cookies. She said someone would be right up and sorry for the inconvenience. She asked if I asked for something else... I said no. The conversation turned weird. I'm a 40-year-old woman - I am NOT going to beg for cookies (PLEASE GIVE ME THE COOKIES!). She asked if I would like a glass of wine. I said sure. By this time I was tired, I didn't want wine but I wanted her to be able to extend the courtesy and let it go.

Knock on the door - nice lady standing there with an alarm clock - no wine, no cookies. I'm just tired at this point and playing Twitter isn't fun anymore. I said thanks and put on my pajamas. About a half hour later someone calls my room. Lady on the line asks if I had ordered room service - "no," I replied. I was done for the day, my opportunity to post a glorious chocolate chip photo on twitter had diminished. She apologized and that was that.

Second knock on the door - gentlemen standing there with an entire bottle of wine and a wine glass. "Here's your wine," he said. I took it and went back to bed.

I learned how quickly a good intention can go wrong by the time it's executed. The Hyatt social media team intercepted my tweet and was going to offer an inexpensive nod to my loyalty. That would have been so great if the on-site team could have pulled it off. Instead, I went to bed late, irritated, with no cookies.

The experience has opened my eyes. I am going to look a little harder at how to help my own company offer customer goodwill and help see it through. What good is a promise if you don't see it through fruition? Enterprise software, hotel chains, or retail - it doesn't matter - we all have customers and want to keep them happy. What I never thought of before was that I had to "make sure it happens." When we make promises at a trade show or take viable feedback in the communities, I ALWAYS assure the information gets in the right hands, but I'm likely not doing everything I can to see that the customer feels heard, and their suggestion finds a good home.

To whomever I've left alone with no cookie payout, I am truly sorry. My 2017 Customer Experience resolution is to make sure I do my part in helping strengthen all links for customer feedback closure. Not all suggestions can or should be developed, but all suggestions can be heard.

I would love to hear from companies doing it right. Have you had a great experience in customer service? Has a company taken a bad experience and made it right? Does your company have a strong chain of command from customer intake to making new policies or products? Please share! The new 2017 Rachel is open for suggestions (and cookies - always open for cookies).

That voodoo that you do...I don't know how to do

I've officially made my third post on LinkedIn, this one titled: That voodoo that you do.

It's pretty interesting to me how vastly different each of these posts have performed. As of this blog post, I have nearly 10,000 hits on the first one and haven't hit the 200 mark on the second ones.  See all posts here

I remember Joshua Merritt of Hook and Lasso once told me not to be obsessed with the numbers... but I can't help it. I'm an ROI kind of gal. I can't help but wonder (channeling my inner Carrie Bradshaw) What is it about these posts that drive the most traffic? The title? The content? Why click? Why view one over another? 

Either way, I'll keep going. I don't have a particular cadence decided. I'm writing when I feel inspired and I feel it's something that someone can benefit from. I also like creating my little guy with Paper 53, so maybe I'll just keep blogging until I get tired of drawing :) 

 

Excuse me Sir, your strategy is showing...

I made my first ever LinkedIn Blog post... 

Excuse me Sir, your strategy is showing...

Excuse me Sir, your strategy is showing...

I was going to suggest to my GM that he should blog on LinkedIn, and I'm sure the first question would be why, and how. So what better way than to try it myself. 

Holy cow. 

I had no idea the reach I could experience until I did it. When I blog here, I usually promote (I think only my mom reads these) and then put it to bed. I might garner about 25 hits for the year, mostly to people who bounce. 

But LinkedIn is proving to be much different! As of this post, I have over 8,000 views, 500 likes and 30+ comments. That's amazing in my book. I'll try a few more to see if these type of results are typical, or if this was an anomaly.

My next post will likely be "that voodoo that you do that I don't know how to do." Another great quote I stole from an executive. Stay tuned.  

Customer Retention Marketing and Chicken Wings

Stick with me here, it makes sense - I promise. 

Just this week, we (re)visited Quaker Steak & Lube which is new to our area. The local reviews have not been that favorable, but the wings and cold Blue Moon keep bringing us back. My husband and I are patient diners. We realize there are kinks to work out in a new restaurant full of new employees. It's excusable. But this visit was different. 

image.jpg

For some reason we always seem to go on Biker Night. We are far from bikers but the people watching is fantastic. It's like Halloween! The entire crowd is proudly wearing their leather vests and bedazzled bandannas in this 100degree Texas heat. These bikers are loyal. When they find a place they like - a place that caters to inexpensive dinners, provides VIP bike parking, and did I mention they have really cold beer?

Our waitress, Latoya, gave us the low down. She said when it's biker night, they have huge tables, and their orders go in first because they're regulars and they want them to keep coming back. --- See what that is there? Customer retention.

Make the bikers happy and you've got a steady flow of revenue guaranteed each Wednesday.  But what Latoya did right is not ignore the small tables and first timers. She set expectations from the beginning. She check on us often, and kept conversation going. She's on-boarding new customers and trying to instate loyalty. 

Latoya pointed out a guy - who didn't look like the typical Quaker Steak & Lube patron (at least not on Biker Night - he looked more like one of my co-workers!). He was in khakis and carrying a laptop. She said he was from corporate - and he was there to find out why they were getting all the bad reviews. Diners were flowing in, wings were coming out of the kitchen, and people were laughing. Seeming to have a good time.

Then, she pointed out the owners. They were there to likely shake hands with the corporate guy. They likely all wanted the same thing - happy customers that will return for more wings (and cold beer).

After we paid our bill and finished those delicious Blue Moons, a manager of some sort came by and asked if we enjoyed our experience. I assured him we did and he asked if we wouldn't mind writing a Yelp Review. I asked him if he was surprised how much social media made a difference? His eyes got wide and he said Yes. It's everything. 

Couple things we can take away from here: 

  1. Latoya is a great waitress (salesman) who set up our expectations from the beginning and gave us the best possible service she could.  If you sell things: do this. People will respect you in the morning.
  2. Customer (Bikers on Wednesday) is king. Show your loyalty to a brand and they should treat you right. If they don't reciprocate - there are plenty other vendors waiting to get your business. 
  3. Show some compassion. Not everything works perfect. Everyone is human, even giant enterprise corporations. If you are a customer with an issue, find a human to speak to. Don't make sweeping decisions without getting the full story.
  4.  Social Media and customer opinions (Yelp) matters. Everyone listens. You may not get the answer you want right away, but be rest assured - these companies are listening and they are finding ways to address your complaints. 
  5. Blue Moon is really good. Best served from tap. With Wings. 

Your Marketing Baby is Ugly.

I hate to tell you this, but your baby is ugly. No matter where you are in revising your website and your content plan, you're behind. Someone, at some company is doing it better.

The first step in building a kick-ass marketing program is realizing you have a problem. Marketing is all about telling your story. Does your website tell everything you want to say? Better yet...does your website give potential customers everything they need to make decisions? AND EVEN BETTER... if someone doesn't know your company exists, can they find you by other means?

If these questions scare you. Your baby is ugly. Read this recent

Inc. Story about Spanx creator Sara Blakely wrote about her companies' story. I come across a lot of articles I intend to read, but end up skimming them, but this call-out caught my eye. "In a world where people have a lot of choices, the story may be the deciding factor."-

Nick Morgan

Your story helps people decide to buy or not to buy. #spanx for example http://t.co/wkbOJWUqC6pic.twitter.com/HzqFNSZaQZ
— Rachel Macik (@RachelMacik) January 21, 2014

Man. [wipes tear] That's just beautiful. So true. No matter what I want to buy, I have choices. Houses, cars, clothes, purses, puppy things... anything - I have a choice.  And the company and what they stand for is a big part of why I buy from them. Is it easy? Are they legit? Do they have pretty marketing? (That's biased, I know - but it's true.)

Truth is. Your story matters. Your story TODAY matters. Don't tell the story from 10 years ago. Let's update it. How are you relevant

today

? How can you make an impact

today

?

Let's not decide how to fix these things just yet. Let's just decide to be open to change. Let's be open to the fact your marketing baby might not be perfect. Go for a walk, have a nice dinner. Just consume the information. I understand. Things like this aren't easy. Take your time. I'll be back.

About Me

Doing what I love. Loving what I do.
This blog is for anyone who markets. And if you're anyone, you're marketing. You don't have to be working with a multi-million dollar budget in a corporate setting. If you are posting a resume, running for office, or trying to get your Facebook friends to volunteer for your kid's school carnival...you need to market. Marketing is a part of our everyday lives, and if you do it wisely, you can get the best return on what ever "it" is.

Its really easy to I'm a seventies baby, now in my thirties and I really think I've seen design and marketing through some amazing evolution. It all started when I became obsessed with journalism class in High School (Go Wildcats!). We designed the yearbook pages with an Apple Macintosh (you know the little square gray one, with only a floppy drive). The photos were developed in a dark room, with film (real film!), hand cropped, and key-mapped back to our printed grid layouts. Taylor Publishing then created our final layouts for print. It was amazing (at the time). I went from actually cutting photos with an exact-o knife to being able to use photoshop feathering and layers. I can hang with the old-schoolers who talk about "back in the day" and I can tweet with the younger crowd who speaks of the newest in digital editing.

Everything is constantly changing, and I learn something new every day. What was cool yesterday is lame tomorrow. I never get tired of my job. If you are bored with Marketing today, you're not doing something right!

I was born and raised in Texas, didn't leave the state until I was 18, never flew on a plan until I was 24, and had my first trip out of the country when I was 32. I haven't looked back since! Now days, airports don't frighten me, I'm known to take off to the pacific coast for a retreat all by myself, and I am always enthusiastic to help others what I've learned.

Does your client get in the way of good work?

I’ve recently become hooked on Mad Men.  I can’t believe I've never spent the time to watch it before and now I can't stop. I hang on every word Don Draper says – I love to hate him.

Look how cute I would be as a Mad Man character. I would totally wear hats to work. 
I had to pause it the other night (I was on a Mad Man bender and it was about 1am on a school night – don’t tell my mom). Don Draper told a client, “Most ad men believe that clients are the thing that gets in the way of good work” when that client was rejecting his pitch.


This interested me. Does the customer know best? Or do we (marketing people) know what’s best for the client? I actually believe both are correct. Here's why: The experts in our field find a way to compromise without feeling like creative has been stifled, and without the customer feeling like they didn't get what they wanted.

As you watch Mad Men episodes, notice just about every pitch ends up slightly changed in the end. Don makes the pitch – someone doesn't agree with the angle – then, Don or Peggy (I love Peggy) puts the slightest twist on the original idea, elevating the campaign to an even greater level. The customer pushes back and they all come together with the best ideas. THAT is what makes Mad Men great.

This is why marketing needs a seat at the table. To truly integrate creative ideas with sound business focus, both marketing and client need to speak a common language. If you’re in marketing – ask questions. If you don’t know what they are talking about, ASK! You can’t create promotional content if you have no idea what you’re talking about.

Speaking to the client: whether you are, an internal group, salesmen, engineers – whoever – take a moment to listen to your marketing team. Invite them to the conversation, and make sure they understand. If they fall asleep in your meeting, you don't have the right person. Someone from marketing needs to be a honorary member of your team to understand your goals and make suggestions for how to get there.

When you get to the creative and content planning stage, take time to open your mind and speak up when you think it could be “tweaked.” Don’t force your opinions on the marketing expert. Find a common ground. You can’t do what you've always done - it doesn't work forever. Be ready to make changes and try new things - yet hold on to the core values for your company and your product.


Dear Client: if this is what is happening, you're doing it wrong. 

The good thing about today’s Mad Men is that we can provide measurement. You don’t have to wait months to see if the sales team said, “I like that campaign”. You can see immediate engagement, who’s forwarding your emails, who is downloading your infographic, who is sharing your blog post, how many people are interested in your video interview.  Press for that engagement, ask for the numbers – they are there!

I believe my next post will be about how to set up your marketing conversation. I've been on good teams, I've been on bad teams, and I've been on amazing teams. Each one teaches you something new. I'm looking forward to showing you how to set up your own team for success.

It's not you, it's me.

I am hanging my head in shame. Did I really only post one blog in 2013? Pretty sad folks. Pretty sad. That's OK, the new year is to bring upon new beginnings, right?

Let's get Rachel's blog issues in the open.


I use my notebooks a lot always. I tried to go digital and write notes on my iPad, then I tried typing them all, but I love good ol' paper. And unfortunately, good ol' paper doesn't copy/paste. I blame this for the lack of digital transfer of all my good ideas. 

The truth is, I think about marketing every day. It's not a sickness, it's been a revelation over the last year that everything we do can be related in marketing in some way. I believe marketing is more of a science than pretty pictures and slogans. Good marketing can be perfectly calibrated, and it can be accidental genius. If marketing is made up of sloppy gimmicks and unplanned verbiage - you will fail. Miserably. 

I believe I can help others who are over-thinking what marketing is, or under-providing what marketing should be. So my new blog will have new focus. Every day I learn something new. Each week I will post what I learned in the "real world" that is actually helpful in the "marketing world". 

For instance, I went to see Blue October last week in Houston. Great band - former crazy lead singer who has dropped his drug habit, turned to his faith, and stopped drinking. I was a little afraid I'd like him better crazy... but at his concert, he did a fantastic job of balancing his crazy and his new life so his old fans, and new fans would love him just the same. And I'm thinking at this concert - isn't that what corporations should do? If companies want to evolve, they can't upset current customers, and they can't miss out on new ones... they have to find a way to reach both sets of people. Let people see a little of your crazy, and let them know there is something even better headed their way. 

I realize this is a stretch, and I realize it may seem weird to think of marketing while I'm squished on the bottom floor of the Houston House of Blues. But for me, it's not. This is the way I'm wired, and this is my crazy that I'm willing to share with the world. 

To me, everyone is marketing all the time. It's when you don't know you're being courted, is when it works best. Let's explore together how awesome marketing is. Shall we? 

Me and my daughters at Blue October.
Feel free to comment on what a cool mom I am. 



Things I Carry

LinkedIn recently posted a special feature: “Things I Carry”. There are all sorts of answers from swimming suits to half-eaten burritos. Neither of which I carry on business trips.

These folks are clearly more seasoned travellers than I am, but I still wanted to play. I’m not a ‘regular’ traveller for work, but I have traveled often and far. When I worked at Atos, I was a regular in Paris and Dallas. (France/Texas). At BMC, I’ve been to TelAviv, Madrid, Paris, and Frankfurt. The more I traveled the more I realized what I should bring next time, and what I could do without.



Things I Carry

Food: The further I get from Texas, the more I realize I need back-up food. Protein bars are perfect. If I’m acting like a 10 year old and spreading my dinner around my plate, no worries: I’ve got a snack in my suitcase. Mints count. (Yes you can eat them for dinner in a pinch.)

Hearing aid: I can’t hear out of my right ear, so I have a hearing aid. When travelling international, it’s important to hear as best I can. Otherwise, I don’t use it near as often as I should. Fun fact: I lost my hearing after one day of shooting guns at a barn door at my brother’s pond. I blame him.

Scarf: You never know when it’s going to be cold or hot. Carrying a scarf helps. It can be smashed in your purse when you don’t need it, and it’s perfectly acceptable to be worn wrinkled.

Notebook: I’ve actually tried using my iPad for notes, but I just can’t do it. I love my Moleskin notebook. I got my first Moleskin as a gift from the US Olympic Committee in 2009, and I’ve never looked back. I like the fact there is no spine to get hooked on anything and they are all the same size. I’m a doodler.

Two Phones: I’m a weird-o that hasn’t combined my work phone and personal phone. This is the first job I’ve done this and I love it. I promise to put down work on weekends, and with separate phones, it’s much easier to do. I secretly check and respond to emails at night but don’t tell anyone.

Macbook Air: When I travel, I take this little gem with me everywhere. I realize an iPad is smaller, but the Air is just as lightweight and it has everything and only takes seconds to boot up if I need it. I need life-size keyboards. It’s a must.

Lip gloss. I pretend that I need chapstick and just can’t find any, but I’m addicted to lipgloss. It makes me feel fancy.

Big Camera (optional). I am a fake photographer. Meaning, I don’t know what I’m doing, but I love taking pictures. If I am going to a new place, like Jerusalem for instance, I’ll bring big bertha along. Sure – she’s a little overweight in the days of iPhone, but you just can’t bet her photos. And after the trip, photos are all you have!

More importantly… it’s go to things I don’t carry anymore.



My ginormous Coach Bag: I’ll tell ya… I was so excited to buy this for myself. It’s so big and so leathery. Alas, it is also ridiculously heavy. The bag has been retired for weekend trips only. No more toting this guy to and from the office.

Jewelry: I used to have options and cute necklaces and earrings that matched each outfit. Now it’s a wedding ring, my favorite Tiffany Beads, and maybe a watch. Done.

Options: I used to bring lots of clothing options “in case” I wanted to wear something different. Today, I’d rather not carry a giant suitcase. I also realize people don’t actually pay much attention to what you wear. I’m neat, clean, and pretty much everything comes in black, white or gray.

Shoes: Yes I wear shoes, but I’ve had to narrow down business trips to 2 pair. Flats and heels all black, and change with seasons. (Yes there are seasonal black shoes… it’s a thing).

Business cards: They don’t take up much room, but I just thought it was funny to think about. I don’t remember the last time someone gave me a card?

Be Brief. Be Bright. Be Gone.

Have you ever taken an Insights test? I did. I'm red. Like, Super Red. Which means I'm impossible, yet fabulous.

Insights Profile descriptions
I like this version, because of Insights description, because it's personalized.
You can take your own little "mini" test here: http://www.insights.com/. It's a series of questions that puts you into colour categories. I imagine they use colour so you read the results with an English accent to make the news of your personality profiling a bit more enjoyable.

I like the idea of what my company is trying to do. Since we all work in different locations, some from home, some from different states, (arguably some from different planets)... we don't actually know each other very well, or know each other's communication style. The point of the test is to find out how we each give and receive input, feedback, data, opinions, etc. It's turned out to be helpful in understanding why people act the way they do.

I have always had a bit of trouble working with people who weren't as excited about what was coming out of my mouth as I was. I love spurting out ideas, getting all pumped up, brainstorming on the fly, and making decisions on a snap. Apparently, that's not the way everyone else works...and "apparently" that's not necessarily the best way to work.


Here's another version of the color descriptions. It's endless, really.

The test results actually crack me up. They tell people how best to work with Rachel. What Rachel likes, and what Rachel doesn't like. Here are a few of my favorites:
"...When communicating with Rachel, acknowledge her talent for leadership. Keep up with her pace. Be humorous, but don't humor her. Ask her, don't tell."
"When communicating with Rachel DO NOT steal her thunder. that's a good one. Do not try to hoodwink or mislead. What does that even mean? DO NOT appear slow, sluggish or too formal."
 So I read this insights to my family. They laughed at most of it...as well as agreed with most of it. So how do I compute this kind of information? It's not all great, it's not all bad either. For instance, I thought my being able to make decisions on the fly was an awesome capability. However, my "lack of awareness" and "domineering ways" causes me to charge ahead with my own ideas before I consider the team. Wow... that's wrong?

That's ok, I'm also open to learning new things. I suppose admitting you have a problem is the first step. The profile also gives you tips on working with your opposite type. I'm putting these into practice today.
Take time to discuss all the details. Man, that's a tough one. Don't look for immediate answers. tic-toc, tic-toc.... Don't touch him or her. Whoa... I don't hug or touch. That's out of line. Don't feel it necessary to always be the first to speak. OMG. This is the hardest thing ever!

So just when I thought I knew it all, (of course I did, I'm red) I have much more to learn. I do find it much easier to learn new skills than to learn more about yourself. This is completely new for me. Wish me luck! When Blogging with Rachel, Cheer her on. 

Nancy Duarte - How to be a Spice Girl

For the first time, I've met Nancy Duarte. Where has she been all my life? I have to admit, I'm a little pissed that I didn't find her first--but this presentation was shared within our internal sales/marketing community for good ideas on how to present better. Nancy Duarte has clearly mastered the art of dissecting a great speech. Her analysis of The Secret Structure of Great Talks, is clearly amazing and inspirational. I'm already working on how to explore this method when working on my next presentation for our team.

But at the beginning and end of this presentation is where I might have found a little mojo for myself. This was Nancy's self projection in the Suavitos Baking Spices girl.



Nancy says she was born from an economically and socially starved environment. "I chose a different story for my life," she says. How powerful is that?

Because what she was saying was so inspirational to me, I wanted to look up a little more about her. Wikipedia says she is a designer and writer. This really hits home for me, as I'm constantly asked, "What do you want to do, where do you want to go next?"

Like Nancy, my background started in design. I love the art of putting on paper (or on screen) what brilliant people are thinking. A lot of times our great innovators and incredibly intelligent change-makers can't design a presentation to show what they are thinking. But I can. My skills are growing every day and seeing presentations like this one, really change the way you think.

So for me personally, I'm looking for my inner spice girl. Nancy knew right away that she was this Suavitos Baking Spices poster girl.

When people ask me what I want to do next, or where am I going... does this mean I'm not where I should be? Should I be doing bigger and better things? I'm pretty excited about my current job, but I know I can't do this forever. I'll eventually discover, streamline, and conquer it's twisty path to success, and then I'll want something new. But what is that something new? How can I find my poster girl?

"The future isn't a place
we're going to go.
It's a place that
 you get to create,"
 - Nancy Duarte

It's inspiring to see how Nancy has taken design to an entirely new level. Recently, I helped to create some powerpoint slides for a presentation meant to inspire sales to use more marketing materials, and to show WHY we're investing so much in marketing. The presentation was intended to give sales a clear idea of how marketing was here to help, and how it will help their pipeline, and how it will help them make more money. The presentation was a huge success. We had rave feedback from the sales managers. I think it could have been better...and it will surely evolve over the next year as our audience expands.  

The excitement around this project was fun and invigorating. But I was a little confused with myself... Is this what I want to do next? Make powerpoints and find clip art? I started out as a designer back in 1997. Did I really want to go back? I was half embarrassed and half ecstatic. Could this be a full time gig? Are more people needing to find ways to show what they are thinking?

But it IS so much more than that. To be honest, I'm not that great of a designer - there are much more talented people out there for that. But what I AM good at, is helping communicate what YOU are saying.

I feel like this is my spice girl. I fell that the presentations, or whatever mode of communication the speaker chooses, should be a big part of my next path.  I can see what you are saying. It's like my sixth sense. It's my gift. So I will continue down this path. I will continue to learn about different forms of communication, different ways to send a message to your intended audience.

I'm really stoked about this. I feel now that this isn't going backwards. That creating inspirational materials for speeches and introductions can be much more than just a pretty powerpoint. I am creating stories. Your story. Who wants to go next?!

Oh, and here is my vintage poster girl. I don't quite have her body, but I'm kind of like a marketing-girl Godzilla, so I think it works.

Thanks Nancy. (We're on first name basis now, you can call me Rachel. or Marketing Girl Godzilla...either works)

Getting to know about.me

Just in case you didn't know all you wanted to know about Rachel Macik... I've added yet two more profiles to my collection of accounts to keep up with. The first one, is about.me/rachelmacik
I liked this site because people have such pretty pictures. I'm not talking about the faces (although mine is pretty steller. Just kidding. Not really.) I'm talking about the chance to see giant 1680 x 1050 portraits and beautiful photography. Here's mine.


I decided to leave all those open tabs cropped in this screen shot because it's ridiculous. Anyway, This is the only horizontal professional photo I had of myself. Thanks to Victoria Lind Photography. There is a lot of pressure to make your profile as interesting as your peers. I'm not sure I've done my about.me profile justice, but I expect to keep it updated as I learn more about myself.

Lately, I've been reading blogs, articles, tweets, and downloading podcasts about blogging and marketing.  (I tend to get obsessed) My first mission is to find out what my niche is. What is THAT THING that makes me different than the billions of other bloggers and marketing evangelists out there? I think I have self realized what my niche is, but I'm still working on how to say it. I can't just say, I'm Awesome! There are tons of awesome people, that just won't work. This about.me profile has my first stab at penning my niche. After this post, I promise not to say niche anymore.

The second profile I've set up is really cool. Vizualize.me/rachelmacik automatically connects to your Linkedin profile and creates your very own infographic.


This is pretty cool. I wish I could add more skills. By default it shows the skills you've had the longest, but I would rather feature new skills that I'm working on...but then, I don't want it to look like I'm a newbie with no experience. Sigh... 

And why on earth am I keeping all this up anyway? I was asked a great question today: What are you doing now, and what do you want to do next? I want to learn how to be a better speaker. I want to try my hand at sharing with a large audience of people I don't know. I want to learn how to network in a room full of people I don't know. I'm really not looking for riches or fame (Don't tell my boss that). I'm looking to grow, looking to learn, looking for my next mentor, looking to share with you, looking to teach others what I know. 

So, if you're new to social media, and are overwhelmed with the amount of accounts, profile pictures, and whitty one-liner profile taglines you're supposed to come up with and maintain--don't worry. You're not alone! It's never ending really. I've been blogging, tweeting, and facebooking as a professional since 2009 and I'm still learning every day. Isn't it fun?!  

I'll be smarter in 2012

I consider myself pretty crafty. I grew up as a designer, I've used Photoshop since 2.0, I've dabbled with Macromedia Director (before Flash), and I can even write a little HTML. I'm sure you could care less... but this is important because I'm smart damnit!

I recently noticed that my blog stats went from a pretty nice and steady pace to almost nothing. Instead of weeping because no one loves me, I went ahead posted a few new stories, and still, no activity. But then a few friends posted comments on my facebook about my newest blog posts, and I realized that Google Analytics just wasn't working.



How is it that I can keep updated with the Kutcher divorce saga, Kim Kardashian's new hair cut, and keep a steady 9-9 job...but I didn't know that Google revamped their entire google analytics system?

Where have I been? Under a rock I suppose. I'm always one of the first people to accept an upgrade, learn new the UI, and report back on how awesome it is. I totally failed this time. For someone who loves analytics and data, I should have been in the know.


But there I was all happy under my rock. See above for nice rock. So for 2012, in addition to my new diet and work out plans, I'm going to add reading RELEVANT marketing material to my daily blogroll. I will stop (ok, maybe not stop, but less-frequent) my visits to TheSuperficial.com, USweekly.com and my favorite potty mouth blogs in favor of keeping up to date on the latest tools and techniques made for keeping track of my own blog (minus the potty mouth) and for making sure I have the background know-how for my day job.  

So this is what I've done on my day off. I've updated my analytics site, added new blogger features to this blog, I've signed up for AdSense, and I'm adding time in my schedule to read about the latest marketing techniques. I'd love to get your suggestions on what to read. Here's my start: 
  • Mashable (I've always followed, but don't read enough)
  • HubSpot (Frequent pod cast listener on the way to work) 
  • Looking for good blogs to follow (see my new widget at the right of the screen here for my current list) 
  • Looking for others... please help! 
Happy New Year! Here's to a Smarter Rachel in 2012.


Makeovers that make you cry: The ones worth having

I love nothing better than a marathon of my favorite shows to get caught up on weeks of missed episodes. For this I suggest Modern Family, NCIS, Finding Bigfoot (don't tell anyone about that one) and What NOT to Wear. Tonight is dedicated to TLC's What Not to Wear.

I swear I've gotten better at dressing myself. (mom jeans rule!)

I absolutely love this show. I love clothes, I love shopping, I love changing my hair--and I love seeing the women on What Not to Wear go through these major transformations. They fight the change, they cry when Stacy London and Clinton Kelly make fun of the wardrobe they've sported for years. Eventually, they cave. They take the $5,000 gift card and start out buying the same crap they already own. Stacy and Clinton swoop in, stop the madness, remind the subject of what she has learned. She heads down the proper path, and comes out looking amazing.

I usually cry at this point. (I love a good happy ending story--or commercial for that matter.) I'm excited for the plane-Jane girl who dresses like a hooker, a homeless person, or an old-maid. She is unveiled as elegant, sophisticated, re-styled and reinvented.  Ah, success!

This is a seriously amazing process. I've never seen a woman take a different route. Each subject is hesitant to change, but in the end takes the advice of the pro's -- and the result is nothing short of amazing.

Why am I rambling about this fashion show on a Marketing blog? Well, for one: I'm watching it right now and am amazing at multi-tasking. But more importantly, the process is the EXACT same for a marketing makeover.

I just helped to launch my first User Experience (UX) web project. It, too, was nothing short of an amazing process. It began with a group of people so close to the project that naturally they saw nothing wrong with the way things were. The web pages were frequently visited, the content was updated when an update was due, and the product was a rock star.

The product champions have decided to move ahead with the UX process, taking the advice of the pros. While were discussing user flows, click paths, content creation, and new ways to view the product--our Subject Matter Experts begin to back up... They're worried about the unknown, not sure they want to go down the path that requires so much work, so much time, so different than what they're used to.

In the end, they decide to move with forward--struggle with change and VIOLA! The entire product team ends up elegant, sophisticated, re-styled and reinvented.

What I'm getting at, is sometimes it's a small change--but sometimes an entire make over is eminent. As the marketing pro, or the person in charge of the product under the microscope: Change is GOOD! Sometimes the people--I mean the product most in need of an upgrade have no idea what a difference a new look will make.

People or Product: People will notice the extra effort. People will hear the real you -- you won't have to scream from underneath that outdated facade. When change is due, accept it with open arms. Be kind to those making the recommendation. Be kind to those TAKING the recommendation. In the end, it's so worth it.

Kind of makes me want to go buy some new shoes! Maybe even get a perm.

Jobs Update. Steve Jobs that is.

If I was any kind of decent blogger I would have updated my status since, "hey I have a new job, I'm awesome!" Truth is, this job keeps me busy. Super Busy. Super woman busy. It's crazy, but good crazy.

Tonight, I got online to make fun of my daughter's golf team website and pick it apart and discuss how much better I could have done it... (but never did volunteer--see paragraph 1). And what do I see on the yahoo home page?

Steve Job Dies.


Honestly, I'm crushed. This is a huge part of my life. Steve Jobs is exactly 20 years my senior. That gives him just enough time to create that amazing Macintosh 128k Graphical Interface.... or the Macintosh Classic? Probably the classic. I was in high school from 91-94. (Note to self delete all blogs when you are over 50). 

I remember being able to create your own icons for desktop files. I remember changing the trash can to Oscar the Grouch, "I love trash!" There was no color. We build entire double page spread layouts from a screen as big as my hand. We had an amazing set of fonts, lazerjet printer and a wax machine. That's all you needed to make a yearbook or newspaper back in the day. 

I truly believe I was part of something big. Such a huge difference from the macs in high school to what I use today. My daughter is in college with a MacBook. I'm typing this from my iMac. My iPad is named Schmoopie (because I love her), and I have not one but TWO iphones (work/pleasure). My very first home computer was the Bondi Blue iMac. I was a proud owner of that 2GB hard drive and that little smidge of RAM. 

Technology has become crazy fast in the last twenty years. I can't imagine life without my mac. I can't imagine life without the battle of Jobs vs. Gates. Without that rivalry, we wouldn't be where we are today. 

I read Steve Job's speech to the graduating class at Stanford just days after they announced his step down from CEO. I knew it wouldn't be long from there. I read that entire speech. (I have zero attention span so that's a big deal). He is an inspiring man. His entire life story is a journey. Make mistakes, but become better for them. 

He has passed as a truly remarkable sole. 

AMA Houston: I'm not only a member, I'm also a fighter.

Aug 2011 Luncheon

Really people? I finally decide that I need to get away from the desk and get myself to an AMA Houston luncheon. And here's the photo that represents the event? Actually, I find it humorous the lady and I look like we're either 1) Italian hand talkers or 2) about to get in a cat fight.

Neither are true, but good catch from the photographer! Much better pics of Scott Berg's "Digital EcoSystem" presentation here.

In addition to this blog entry being an excuse to post this awesome fight scene, I wanted to give my two cents on an AMA membership. Do it. There were two people at my table looking for full time work. Two ladies looking to expand their sales in the event business. One vendor who reunited with a client he thought he lost. And one seasoned pro who could give her tips on her company's digital eco-system and how they developed material related to the speaking topic.

Aug 2011 Luncheon
I'm sure each table had their own conversations and reasons for being there. I was there to solely for the speaking content. (Any time you have a chance to meet Scott Berg, marketing genius with HP...do it) I came to get another view into the marketing case studies of HP (because they are awesome - check out the Let's Do Amazing video ads - LOVE them almost as much as Allstate's Mayhem). But I left with much more. Maybe some new resumes to share with my employer, new views on microsites from an Oil & Gas pro, and well... a fantastic photo and reason for posting a blog. 


Get Scott's presentation here: Scott's HP Blog
Get your AMA Houston membership here: AMA Houston Blog

Cross Pollination for the Greater Good.

I'm not job hopping-- I'll refer to it as "cross pollinating". (And yes, I'm totally stealing this from someone else's mouth.)

bees-knees.jpg
I met with my new brand police top ranking general in my new company. He is from California, I'm sitting in Texas. He talked about how in California the cross-pollination between technology companies is so amazing. People go from one company to the next "cross pollinating" their ideas as they work with new teams. I have fallen in love with this term.

cross-pol·li·na·tion (krôs p l -n sh n, kr s -). n.  fertilization by transfer of pollen awesomeness from the anthers of one flower to the stigma of company to another 
This definition is right on. I honestly can't wait to meet everyone that I work with and find out what I don't know. I like to think I'm all knowing of all things, but because I'm all knowing, I also know that I don't know everything. Sigh...

My first week was meeting after meeting to meet people whom I've never met. I'm going from a team of three who did all things marketing, to a team of hundreds. Literally. This is a completely different work-style for me. I'll be just one person in a long trail of marketing professionals who will make go-to-market decisions. Honestly, this will be a little tough at first. Its been so easy just to pick things up and finish them myself. Now I'll have to wait and beg just like everyone else.  I thought I knew teamwork before, but honestly, that was just a sliver of what I have in store for me at BMC.

My first week is over, and consisted of meeting everyone, finding out where the coffee was and getting to know the process of everyday work at BMC. My second week should be hell week. This starts tomorrow. I'll finally meet my boss, I'll find out what my objectives are and I'll start pollinating.

I really can't wait. I'll be keeping my readers updated. I've set up my community page at BMC.com and will soon be interacting with the public in behalf of the company. I even received some Atos love. Seems like cross polination has begun!




I have a new job

I really really thought hard about this blog post title. I thought of creating something sentimental, maybe something with a "fish" reference, or maybe something cute. When it boils down (as my mom would say) I really just want to talk about my new job.

I will be a Senior Marketing Programs Manager at BMC Software. I hope to make a big splash (unintentional fish reference) in the Mainframe buzz for this Houston based software giant. I'm super excited. I already have my first week mapped out from my new employer. I can't tell you how exciting that is. I'm geeked out about schedules, meetings, meeting new people and my company iPhone! (burning ceremony for my Samsung Blackjack this Friday)

My twitter account remains the same @RachelMacik, and this blog will still be about marketing, and how my everyday life events spark marketing thoughts and new ideas for my company. Only now, the company is different. I am still focused on B2B marketing, still for an IT company. BMC has actual products, which makes my job more exciting. I'm very much looking forward to sharing the journey with my readers.

Meanwhile, I would never neglect my Atos Origin comrades! It's been an amazing journey with you all. I've made my first international trip with you, I've attended my first Olympics, I even had my first Amex Corporate card with you --that's special. Good thing is, BMC and Atos Origin are vendors and customers of each other... we are very likely to cross paths again! Here's to building the future!




Thanks Atos :)