Wednesday, April 27, 2011

My New Internet Marketing Blog

Hello folks! I launched a new blog in October 2010 in order to have more control over branding, SEO, and general features. I will no longer be updating this particular blog. If you are interested in learning about internet marketing and practical ways to execute campaigns, check out the site and subscribe to Twitter and the blog's feed. I'm committed to providing only information that grows us as marketers in practical ways.

I look forward to talking with you.


Daxon Edwards

Friday, July 30, 2010

Seven Tips for More Productive and Loyal Employees

I used to work for a startup marketing optimization agency here in Nashville, TN named [meta]marketer as an Optimization Specialist (prior to January 2011). My primary role was to manage a team of freelancers who did most of the link building I directed for our search engine optimization (SEO) clients. We paid the freelancers just above minimum wage, and the amount of work fluctuated based on our SEO strategy and client load. Most of the people we hired were just out of college or had jobs in areas not related to our area of work. As a result, and due to the lower level of compensation and repetitive work, I found it challenging to keep freelancers motivated. Most of the workers were millennials--a.k.a. Generation Y. Opinions as to the exact birth dates for this group of individuals varies, but they generally range between the mid-1970s and mid-2000s (quite broad) (source:Wikipedia).

I attended a presentation on this day by Travis Robertson, a small business strategist. His discussion was on Millennials in the Workplace. I found it helpful to hear another person's opinion on how to manage and motivate people in that age range. Often we hear that this generation is lazy, disloyal, and distracted (i.e. A.D.D.). But as Travis points out, they are also considered the most creative and technologically advanced generation. How do you maximize the length and productivity of a millennial?

First, you won't be able to keep them as a long employee. Get that in your head, then turn around to focus on how to make the most of their time with you. Businesses generally love the idea of a long employee. They provide a level of experience that anyone replacing them typically won't have. They are usually more satisfied employees and don't have the same level of maintenance as new, younger employees do. But that world is fast fading. And that's okay. As employers, we have the opportunity to modify our management and expectations. There is a lot of benefit to come from playing to the strengths of this new age group.

I sit right at the cusp between Generation X and Y, but stayed at one of my employers (Thomas Nelson Publishers) for over 9 years. In my point of view, I am quite atypical. Granted, I would have left the company years ago if they had not promoted me regularly, invested in my education (I have an MBA in ebusiness from the University of Pheonix), or not regularly promised me growth in the near future. I eventually left the company (I still passionately believe in the company) due mostly to my desire to broaden my knowledge in another kind of business. Thus, I still came to the same spot many Generation Ys do--needing growth and purpose in a way a company can't provide. I also have many people around me within 10 years of my age, and have watched the millenials' experiences. Their career movement and level of satisfaction typically responds to the balance between how valuable they are and their level of responsibility. Bonuses or compensation rarely had a large effect. Those things were often used as excuses, but it really came down to how much they perceived their own appreciation for their work.

Travis' presentation focused on several suggestions for us managers to help motivate and encourage the younger generation so that they can become effective and valuable to the company. His top three points are:
  1. Lead, Don't Manage
  2. Motivation Instead of Compensation
  3. Overhauling Company Culture
Check out his blog posts, Millennials in the Workplace, for details.

In line with his prodding from this day, the following things I plan to do to motivate my workers and help encourage them to stay as long as they can with us.
  1. Give small gifts four times a year (birthday, Christmas, and two random)
  2. Provide small compensation growth in connection measured goals (where possible)
  3. Reward with growth in responsibilities (i.e. thereby communicating their value to the business)
  4. Express "thank you" regularly and encouragement
  5. Communicate clear assignment structure and performance grace/forgiveness
  6. Provide insight into their career growth and perception, and structure responsibilities that add to their experience
  7. Offer interest and a listening ear to their own passions
There are many leadership materials on these subjects. I expect most of us have had them come across our desks or in our education. I could expound more on these by referring to times when I utilized these simple tactics with employees and agencies. It's amazing to me how little money it takes to keep an employee happy and appreciative. Of course, we need to offer raises, but most often these seven actions produce more loyalty than a large raise ever would. Across my career utilizing these actions, I have gained loyal workers, agencies, and employees with very little expense. If you start to incorporate the seven tips, you will find your work environment healthier, employees engaging in better collaboration, and everyone having more patience with one another as we grow and learn. And we all know we need that!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Behavioral Ad Targeting Debate

A recent article by eMarketer spread word on a new study saying people don’t want targeted ads. Earlier studies say differently. How conductors educate the participants within and around questions is just as important as the actual question itself. Context can easily change meaning. Even the order of questions affects respondent perception and subsequent answers. Issues in this conclusion (i.e. data security and customization) need to be approached separately at first and combined down the questionnaire so that customers prioritize their opinion aptly and fears controlled.

My opinion remains unchanged. Customers dislike loosing control of their personal information, yet appreciate customization services. If we communicate our responsibility to protect their information, they will appreciate the benefits we serve and their purchases and activity will speak that message.

As marketers, we must treat customer information tenderly and honorably while using buying behavior and click-throughs to target content. It’s a service first and foremost. But we also benefit from it.

Image source: eMarketer

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Palm Pre, by Sprint

Just got the new Palm Pre, offered by Sprint. I'm usually not an early adopter. That allows other people to work out the bugs for me. But I was ready to be off my Treo 700p and something more iPhone-like.

I've had it for three days now. Spent a few hours working on getting it up to speed. It's an awesome phone and I'm glad I have it. I certainly recommend it.

Check out Sprint's website for the Palm Pre for a fancy presentation. The phone goes a little slower than the presentation. Sometimes quite slow. But I found based on several videos on YouTube that the phone is faster with most things compared to the iPhone 3G and a few things on the iPhone 3Gs.

My top issues with it are:
  1. When typing and wanting to change a word earlier in a sentence or paragraph, it's EXTREMELY hard to put your cursor at the right point. I talked with tech support today and the engineers are aware of this and are thinking through ways to offer a solution in future software updates.

  2. Battery life is really short. Definitely not better than the iPhone. Probably worse. I certainly have to charge each day. If I have a couple long conversations, I have to charge even earlier in the day. There are some extended batteries one can buy, however--unlike with the iPhone.

  3. BlueTooth goes off if it's not connected to a device. Just talked with tech support on this one as well. Even if you switch it on within the phone, if you don't have something connected to it soon thereafter, it will disengage. Then if a Bluetooth device comes close to it, the device won't recognize the Pre until the Bluetooth application is started.

  4. It isn't a problem yet, but plugging in the charging cable will get on my nerves. It has a flap covering the port and it's really hard to get off. They offer a charger that doesn't require you to connect anything to the phone (Touchstone). Cool, yes. Expensive, definitely. However, I found a site out there that offers it for $50.
At this point, I don't really have any other complaints. I've worked with several of their apps. And they do need more, but it's only been out about two months, so I expect more to come. Sprint stores can't keep the phone in stock.

Problems Importing Info from Old Phone.

Contacts and Calendar. I had trouble getting information from my Outlook. It's connected via Microsoft Exchange with my company. The Pre is supposed to have that ability, but it depends on how a company setup their Exchange system. Due to the immediate complexity, I used Google's services for contacts and calendar. I exported my contacts via CSV and imported to my Google account. I then downloaded Google's calendar sync program for Outlook. So, the calendar stays relatively up-to-date, but my contacts will get out of date eventually. I'm still working with my I.T. department on an Exchange solution.

Memos and Word Docs. I have not transferred over my memos (if possible) and my Word documents. The latter shouldn't be hard, but I may have to let go of all my memos. If you have a non-MSExchange version of Outlook, transferring everything to your Pre is really easy for free. They offer a DTA program. But it only transfers the information once. It's not a sync program. You'll have to buy a third party app to continue doing that. However, if you use Google services for calendar, contacts, etc, it stays up-t0-date on the phone pretty effortlessly.

Other than those things, I'm impressed with the phone. As I understand it talking with other iPhone users, moving data to the iPhone wouldn't have been easier. I certainly recommend the phone. It's worth going to a store and playing with it.