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How to Lose My Business – Lose My Trust

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My Supersonic Googling Skills

They have me over a barrel, and I just hate it when that happens.

My lead-ins tend toward the long side, but this will eventually morph into a message about customer service and about honest and fair dealings.  I see parallels to our business, but I will mostly leave you to draw your own.

Back in the stone ages, I secured my first domain name. In those days, Network Solutions was the only choice. At least, I thought they were my only choice. You see, I had yet to fully hone my current day, awe-inspiring Googling skills. So my research consisted of polling my neighbor, Fred. While I had just spent the entire month of 1999 looking for a parking place at the mall, Fred had successfully filled all of his Christmas gift orders on Overstock.com in one glorious afternoon of wine tasting from the comfort of his back yard patio table. His geek credentials spoke for themselves.

Sign me up!

Me: “Where can I buy a domain name?”

Fred: “I don’t know. Hey, look at this Allen wrench set I just scored!”

OK, Fred wasn’t much help, but the nice man who was teaching the class on the importance of having a web site was. He was so helpful, in fact, that he signed me up on the spot for KrisBerg.net. “Everybody is searching for your name. It is therefore critical if you are to achieve your long-term goals of representing everybody in the purchase and sale of their homes that you buy yourname dot whatever is available lest they are unable to find your name. That will be $99.” I couldn’t whip my checkbook out fast enough.

Oooh, I’ll take four!

A year later when my name came up for renewal, imagine my surprise. Only $35? Thank you, Network Solutions. At that price, I’ll take four. And I did.

I have gotten smarter over the years. I had to. These days I tend to accumulate domain names like I do shoes, in both cases the vast majority of which I will never wear, but I have learned that GoDaddy charges a quarter of what I was previously paying. The problem is that my earliest secured URLs, including a couple that are kind of important (like SanDiegoHomeBlog.com) are still parked at Network Solutions. When a few of the not so important ones came up for renewal, ones I greedily reserved simply so no one else could, I decided it was time to move them.  That’s when I found myself staying at the Hotel California. I had checked in but it seems checking out would be somewhat more challenging.

I went to their web site where I was treated to pages upon pages of simple instructions on how to move a domain to this provider. So I narrowed my search. “Transfer domain from” brought me right back to the same happy pages about moving domains to, not away, from this place, with each page reminding me about their superior service. So I called. And I navigated the hierarchy at the gates of call forwarding hell, six deep at last count, to be met by a testy woman who took me through the ten simple steps online to complete my order, clearly disgusted that I was unable to visualize their secret site map without help.

And then came the zinger…

“Why are you moving your domains?” she challenged. “Because you are expensive” I confessed. “We know times are tough so, if you renew with us today, I will give you the unpublished annual rate of $8.95” she said, digging deep for her best BFF tone.  “Then why am I paying $35 a year for the other ten sites parked with you?” I asked.  “I can give you the same rate on those – if you renew today!” Now, I’m suspicious. “And what happens a year from now? Am I back to the rack rate?” Back to testy mode, she informed, “You can renew for up to nine years to lock in this rate. Up to you.”

Needless to say, the domains are in transit. Of course, this trip will take a week or more, because like returning the deposit check to the buyer who cancels escrow, there really isn’t any great desire at this point to make things easy. I’m being punished. And my important, live domains are still being held hostage. I can’t afford a dark blog or website for a week. Or can I? If the published rates went up to $350 tomorrow, I would be somewhat stuck. Or would I?

The path of least resistance only goes so far…

I promised to let you draw your own parallels, but I’ll go first.  As a consumer, I cling to the familiar and to the path of least resistance, but only to a point. This company which once had a monopoly on their product is becoming antiquated yet, rather than adapt and offer their clients a better, more competitive service, they cling to the notion that their world is still flat and that their audience is captive. The audience is not.

Secondly, the whole triple-secret cost structure reminded me of something Russell Shaw once wrote about the way we treat our fees. It was something along the lines of this: Decide what you are worth, establish the fee below which you would be willing to walk, and stand by it. His remarks were more about the importance of our resolve where our value is concerned, but having seen the waffling from the consumer’s point of view, I find anything less than full resolve to be dishonest. While I may have scored a temporary win, the “company” has lost my trust and my respect. In the process, they have lost my future business.

Kris Berg is Broker/Owner of San Diego Castles Realty. She is the perpetrator of the San Diego Home Blog, a locally-focused real estate blog, and in her spare time enjoys fencing, luge, and kittens.

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13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Mark Eckenrode

    December 11, 2008 at 11:03 am

    you’ve probably stumbled across websites that have automated that whole damn process, too. you go to leave the site and a “real” fake chat window pops up with a fake operator “wait! why don’t you try us for only $X?”

    i can’t stand this form of marketing.

  2. Clint Miller

    December 11, 2008 at 11:33 am

    Man, Im with Mark…I hate that fake pop-up chat window thing. Irritates me that people assume Im that damn dumb. I may be that dumb…but dont ASSUME I am…LOL

  3. Vance Shutes

    December 11, 2008 at 11:39 am

    Kris,

    I consider myself fortunate to have learned long ago that your best customers can become your best salespersons, if you treat them exceedingly well. While your 10 domains parked at NS may not put you in their “top ten” of best customers, just think of the goodwill they may have garnered had they treated you like their #1 customer, from the start? Instead, they get this article from you. It’s good for you, and sad for them.

  4. Deborah Madey

    December 11, 2008 at 11:56 am

    I just moved a number of domains…or rather they are in transit. I finally plan on using some of them. I didn’t need to move them to host them. The time I have been spending in this direction caused me to realize how much I was overpaying for wharehousing these domains. As a result of the ordered domain registration move, I will save about $200.

    Now, however I finally use these domains better be worth all the wharehousing fees I have been paying for them. How does that go? Write good stuff?!

  5. George McCumiskey

    December 11, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    I quite by researching although I’ve overpaid for many things found domain purchase for $10 each. Of course I never used 2 of them and paid for hosting service I haven’t used yet on the new host server. One thing I ask first and foremost is “When I’m in need, will you walk me through a procedure on the phone. And so far I always get pleasant peeps. Not always knowing much more than I do – but at least presenting the wrong information in a pleasant way. Hey it does matter to me.

  6. Shashi Bellamkonda at Network Solutions

    December 11, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    Hi Kris,

    I work for Network Solutions. I am going to present this feedback within the company. We believe our customer views are very important and we encourage all employees to read the feedback that comes in to us. I stopped by to say thank you for your post and we are trying to reach our customers in every possible channel ( quite a gigantic task 🙂 ) if you would like to add anyhting further please feel to email me at smedia at network solutions .com

    Thanks,

    Shashi Bellamkonda

  7. Elaine Reese

    December 11, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    Like you, I bought my first (and primary) domain name back in ’98 with Network Solutions. I really hate paying their exhorbitant rate, but am afraid to have my web site down while going through the transfer. All the new ones are with GoDaddy. Not going to give NS any more money than I have to.

  8. Russell Shaw

    December 12, 2008 at 1:30 am

    I have moved many domains FROM Network Solutions. It was non-stop HELL. They have an email sent (from some other company that they also own) that is confusing and misleading. If you do not respond to it in a very timely manner the whole process starts over. Transferring TO NS is a snap. Leaving is almost impossible. Not quite, though. The idea of charging everyone who doesn’t leave high prices and offer low prices (as opposed to them getting nothing now) only to those who are leaving is just a great way to do business. Okay, it isn’t. 🙂 Great post, Kris!

  9. Matthew Hardy

    December 12, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    Moved from NS to Godaddy years ago. NS made it a pain – Godaddy made it all better!

  10. Missy Caulk

    December 12, 2008 at 8:51 pm

    Kris, I am in the same boat, but my domain name since 99 is with dot earth. Ever heard of them?
    No?

    Me either…

    I have tried changing several names to godaddy. My main one was in transit, I was assured it would go through and then my whole site went down over Christmas until after the first of the year.

    It was hell.

    I gave up and renewed 10 years and just called it a day.

    Same thing happened with another site. It is a bloody mess.

    Some customer service, easy in and hard to get out.

  11. Vicki Moore

    December 14, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    I just move several myself. What a p in the h – as I used to say as a kid. I think I’ve done it so many times I actually know how now – at least for a couple of weeks until I don’t need it anymore and I completely forget or they change the process.

    We HAVE to talk more about those fake operator things. OMG! The things I’ve said to them!

  12. linsey

    December 28, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    I recently called to cancel a service with a milk delivery company. I loved the convenience of having the service but noticed that it had become significantly more expensive than buying in the store. When I called to cancel, I was offered a deep discount.

    That doesn’t feel like a great service, it instead left me feeling taken advantage of. You said it – loss of trust. I’m at a loss to understand this kind of thinking.

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Business Marketing

Use nostalgia as a marketing niche for your business today

(MARKETING) A market that is making waves is found in the form of entertainment nostalgia. Everyone has memories and attachments, why not speak to them?

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nostalgia

Is it just me or does it seem like there is something for everything nowadays? Let me clarify, as that is a rather broad question…

With the way communicating through technology has advanced, it’s become much easier to connect with those who have shared interests. This has become especially evident with interests in the entertainment community.

Entertainment nostalgia

It now seems like there is an event for every bit of nostalgia you can imagine. Autograph shows, meet and greets, and memorabilia collections of all kinds are held in convention halls all around the world. (To give you an idea of how deep this thing goes, there was a “Grease 2” reunion convention sometime within the last five years. Being that I’m the only person I’ve ever met who likes that movie, it’s amazing that it found an audience.)

This idea of marketing by use of nostalgia is something that is becoming smartly tapped and there are a variety of directions it can go in.

For example, the new Domino’s ads feature dead-on tributes to “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

What’s your niche?

If you’re a fan of anything, it’s likely that you can find an event to suit your needs.

And, if you want to take it a step further, you can think outside the box and use nostalgia as a marketing tool.

I recently began dabbling in social media gigs that have brought me to a few different fan conventions. One was a throwback 80s and 90s convention that featured everyone from Alan Thicke to the members of N*SYNC. Another is a recurring convention that brings together fans of sci-fi, horror, and everything under that umbrella.

I was amazed by the number of people that came out to these events and the amount of money that was spent on the day’s activities (autographs, photo ops, etc.). I was energized by the fact that you can take something you have a great appreciation for and bring together others who share that feeling. Watching people meet some of their favorite celebrities is something that is priceless.

Hop onboard the nostalgia train

If you’re a fan of something, you don’t have to look too far to find what you’d enjoy – going back to the aforementioned “Ferris Bueller” example, there is a first-ever John Hughes fan event taking place in Chicago next month that will bring fans to their favorite Brat Pack members.

In the same thought, if you have an idea, now is the time to find others who share that interest and execute your vision.

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Business Marketing

5 tips to help you craft consistently high-converting email marketing

(MARKETING) Email may seem too old to be effective but surprisingly it’s not, so how can you get the most out of your email marketing? Try these tips.

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Email marketing

Email marketing might seem archaic in comparison to modern mediums like social media, blogging, and podcasting; however, it actually remains one of the highest converting options marketers and small businesses have at their disposal.

But Why Email?

Hopefully, you believe in email as an effective marketing channel, but in case you have doubts, let’s hit the reset button. Here’s why email marketing is worth investing in:

  • Email is one of the few marketing channels that you have total control over. Unlike a social media audience, which can disappear if the platform decides you violate their terms, you own your email list.
  • Email is considered very personal. When someone gives you access to their inbox, they’re telling you that you can send them messages.
  • From a pure analytics perspective, email gives you the ability to track behaviors, study what works, and get familiar with the techniques that don’t.
  • The ROI of email marketing is incredibly high. It can deliver as much as $44 in value for every $1 spent.

5 Tips for High-Converting Emails

If you’ve been using email, but haven’t gotten the results you’d like to, it’s probably because you’re using it ineffectively.

Here are a few very practical tips for high-converting emails that generate results:

  1. Write Better Subject Lines: Think about email marketing from the side of the recipient. (Considering that you probably receive hundreds of emails per week, this isn’t hard to do.) What’s going to make you engage with an email? It’s the subject line, right?If you’re going to focus a large portion of your time and energy on one element of email marketing, subject lines should be it.The best subject lines are the ones that convey a sense of urgency or curiosity, present an offer, personalize to the recipient, are relevant and timely, feature name recognition, or reference cool stories.
  2. Nail the Intro”: Never take for granted the fact that someone will open your email, and read to the second paragraph. Some will – but most will scan the first couple of lines, and then make a decision on how to proceed.It’s critically important that you get the intro right. You have maybe five seconds to hook people in, and get them excited. This is not a time to slowly build up. Give your best stuff away first!
  3. Use Video: Email might be personal, but individual emails aren’t necessarily viewed as special. That’s because people get so many of them on a daily basis.According to Blue Water Marketing, “The average person receives more than 84 emails each day! So how do you separate your emails from everyone else? Embed videos in your emails can increase your conversion rates by over 21 percent!”This speaks to a larger trend of making emails visually stimulating. The more you use compelling visuals, the more engaging and memorable the content will be.
  4. Keep Eyes Moving: The goal is to keep people engaging with your email content throughout. While it’ll inevitably happen with a certain percentage of recipients, you want to prevent people from dropping off as they read.One of the best ways to keep sustained engagement is to keep eyes effortlessly moving down the page with short and succinct copy.One-liners, small paragraphs, and lots of spacing signal a degree of approachability and simplicity. Use this style as much as you can.
  5. Don’t Ask Too Much: It can be difficult to convey everything you want to say in a single email, but it’s important that you stay as focused as possible – particularly when it comes to CTAs and requests.Always stick to one CTA per email. Never ask multiple questions or present different offers. (It’ll just overwhelm and confuse.) You can present the same CTA in multiple places – like at the beginning, middle, and end of the email – but it needs to be the same call. That’s how you keep people focused and on-task.

Give Your Email Marketing Strategy a Makeover

Most businesses have some sort of email lists. Few businesses leverage these lists as well as they should. Hopefully, this article has provided you with some practical and actionable tips that can be used to boost engagement and produce more conversions. Give them a try and see what sticks.

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Business Marketing

Here’s how one employer was able beat an age discrimination lawsuit

(MARKETING) Age discrimination is a rare occurrence but still something to be battled. It’s good practice to keep your house in order to be on the right side.

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Jewel age discrimination

In January, the EEOC released its annual accounting for reports of discrimination in the previous year. Allegations of retaliation were the most frequently filed charge, which disability coming in second. Age discrimination cases accounted for 21.4% of filed charges. As we’ve reported before, not all age discrimination complaints rise to the level of illegal discrimination. In Cesario v. Jewel Food Stores, Inc., the federal court dismissed the claims of age discrimination, even though seven (7) plaintiffs made similar claims against the grocery store.

What Cesario v. Jewel Food Stores was about

In Cesario, all but one of the seven plaintiffs had spent years with Jewel Food building their careers. When Jewel went through some financial troubles, the plaintiffs allege that they began to “experience significant pressure at work… (and) were eventually forced out or terminated because of their age or disability.” Jewel Food requested summary judgment to dismiss the claims.

The seven plaintiffs made the same type of complaints. Beginning in 2014, store directors were under pressure to improve metrics and customer satisfaction. Cesario alleges that the Jewel district manager asked about his age. Another director alleges that younger store directors were transferred to stores with less difficulties. One plaintiff alleged that Jewel Food managers asked him about his retirement. The EEOC complaints began in late 2015. The plaintiffs retired or were fired and subsequently filed a lawsuit against their company.

Age discrimination is prohibited by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, (ADEA). The ADEA prevents disparate treatment based on age for workers over 40 years old. However, plaintiffs who allege disparate treatment must establish that the adverse reactions wouldn’t have occurred but for age. Because none of the plaintiffs could specifically point to age as the only determination of their case, the court dismissed the case.

A word to wise businesses

Jewel Food was able to demonstrate their own actions in the case through careful documentation. Although there was no evidence that age played a factor in any discharge decision, Jewel Food could document their personnel decisions across the board. The plaintiffs also didn’t exhaust all administrative remedies. This led to the case being dropped.

Lesson learned – Make perssonel decisions based on performance and evidence. Don’t use age as a factor. Keep documentation to support your decisions.

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