Why “Why” Matters

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Why do you go to work every day? To pay the rent? Because no mullah no fun? Really… is that it?

We spend nearly 90.000 hours of our lives working. That is likely more time than you’ll spend doing anything else. And most of us seem to believe we do it for money.

So is it worth spending so many hours of our lives chasing money? Behavioral Psychologists have studied the effect of money on things like happiness, performance, and sense of fulfillment. Funny thing about money is that it works, to a degree, then it plateaus and the effect from there on is minimal, actually some things get worse.

No money certainly sucks

When you have no money or little money, gaining some will certainly make you happier, you will feel less stressed and therefore be more productive and have a greater sense of fulfillment in your life.

There is a saying that money doesn’t buy you happiness, but that is not entirely true, there is a clear correlation between having money and feeling happy. Money affords you a certain level of peace of mind, and that is indeed very valuable. But more money does not equal more peace of mind or more happiness.

Daniel Kahneman, a renown psychologist, actually found the dollar amount that correlates with the highest marginal utility of money in terms of income. The magic number is $75.000, after that every extra dollar has less and less impact on overall happiness. Of course, the amount varies depending on where you live and how much $75.000 is going to get you. As with all things in life, this too is relative.

Another famed psychologist, Dan Ariely, studied the effect of money on motivation and performance. The results showed that sure enough, if you dangle a carrot in front of people, they work harder to earn it. But the quality of their performance decline with the increased size of the carrot. It simply becomes much harder to think creatively and critically, because the carrot is stealing the focus.

People become much more prone to unnecessary risk-taking and lack perspective in their decision-making. Sounds familiar? Hello financial crisis! No wonder Ariely was not invited back to speak at the annual bankers’ conference after he presented his findings on this.

So if money can only make you so happy, and only make you perform so well, is that enough value to warrant spending 90.000 hours chasing after it?

Well most of us don’t really have a choice. Gotta bring home the bacon right!

And that is why this word is so incredibly important – Purpose. The reason we do what we do. The stuff that gives stuff meaning. The big WHY.

Why money is not enough

Most people can tell you what they do, they can likely also tell you how they do it. But ask them why they do it, and an awkward silence tends to happen followed by lack-luster replies like “I do it because it is my job” or “I do it to make money”. Not terribly inspiring replies, not the kind that makes you think “wow – I wish I had your life”.

To give people a more satisfying and fulfilling sense of why they go to work, we need great leadership. Leaders that are able to communicate why our work is meaningful, inspire us to find our own sense of purpose. When we feel we are part of creating something together, something none of us could accomplish alone, and we know our contributions counts – and of course we are adequately and fairly compensated, that is when work makes perfect sense spending 90.000 hours on.

Too many leaders mistakenly believe the purpose of business is making money. Following that logic, then the purpose of life should be eating or breathing. Yes, businesses need to make money in order to survive and thrive, the same way humans need food and air to survive and thrive, but it is hardly the purpose of it. Purpose is something bigger and more meaningful, it has substance.

We do not all need to work in some fantastically innovative field to find inspiring answers to why we work. Imagine you made nuts and bolts for a living, not the sexiest thing in the world. But what if you did it because your nuts and bolts made sure airplanes were assembled so they can bring people safely from A to B. Suddenly, your nuts and bolts have a clear and meaningful sense of purpose and you can feel proud of your contribution to aviation security. It’s just an example, but you get the point right.

I love the vision statement from Toys R’ Us “Our Vision is to put joy in kids’ hearts and a smile on parents’ faces.” Now if that doesn’t give you a sense of purpose, I sure don’t know what would.

Of course great leadership is more than a heartfelt vision statement. If it only pays lip-service then it has little to do with leadership to begin with. But if it is the foundation and the reason why every person in the company do what they do, then it is inspiring, unifying and altogether awesome.

Great leaders show us the path, they give us a map with a desired destination, and instill the confidence in us that together we can make it there.

Simon Sinek, an American business consultant, says that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. The same is true for your employees. They do not love their jobs because of what they do, they love their jobs because of why they do it.

And that is why “why” matters.

Why Lead Nurturing is the World’s Best Pre-sale Service

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Lead nurturingFirst off, what exactly is lead nurturing?

According to Forrester it is “ a process by which leads are tracked and developed into sales-qualified leads”

When you are standing in the supermarket with a chocolate bar in your hand, you might not need very much nurturing before you decide you are just not yourself without the Snickers. Your sugar cravings will take care of all the nurturing required.

But if you are an accountant sitting in your office already dreading next year’s tax season, you might be looking around for some software that will make your life easier. Now the tax season is months away and you have to convince your boss to invest in the software first, so you wouldn’t exactly be in a position to click the “ad to cart” button quite yet.

So lead nurturing is everything that happens in the time between a potential customer’s first interaction with a company and the time when they are actually ready to purchase.

As a marketer the last thing I want to happen is that you (play along with me – you are the accountant) visit my website, receive tons of great information and then forget all about me and when tax season comes along my company name rings no bells and some schmuck runs off with the sale.

So what happens in the time between your first visit to my website, and tax season being just around the corner?

Well it is not uncommon that the chosen path would be something like this; I’ll send an email thanking you for your interest and asking for a meeting or time to talk.

Then what? I drum my fingers on the desk for a week and then I send another email asking if you are ready now. And if I’m super annoying I’ll pick up the phone and bug you at some inconvenient time and pester you with a sales pitch that you’d rather be without.

After a few more rounds of this, I start to resemble a kid on the backseat of a car constantly pestering the parents with “are we there yet”.

And guess what I am very likely to get out that whole exercise? Nuttin! Except the status of royal pain in the ass… not really what I was aiming for.

That’s where lead nurturing comes in.

To nurture means to care for, help and/or encourage someone or something while they are growing or developing.

That is just touching… in one single sentence I managed to transform my field of work into something truly noble. I’m welling up and feeling all proud… and getting totally sidetracked!

The point here is that you (remember you are the accountant) are not ready nor able to make the purchase on the first visit, but what you would like are buckets full of enlightening and compelling information that will help you sell the idea of purchasing the software to your boss.

With the right lead nurturing system, I will be able to see what areas of my website you have visited, what information you have consumed and what type of media you prefer.

Don’t let that give you the heebie-jeebies and think it is awfully big-brotherish. If you were in a shoe store looking at pumps, you wouldn’t want me to come over and start telling you about winter boots would you? Same thing, except online I can only see what you are looking at if I can track you. Maybe it’s the word tracking… it’s kinda off-putting, like I’m spying or something, which is not the intention at all.

Good lead nurturing should be like the experience you get in a good restaurant where the waiter manages to top up your glass every time you are just about to run out of wine. Now how is the waiter going to know you are running low on dancing juice if he can’t observe you? And God forbid he tops up your glass with water instead of wine! The horror!!

Think about it, the more I know about your particular interests, the better equipped I will be to give you the exact information you need, when you need it and in the format you prefer.

And before I start growing some sort of halo above my head, yes this is all done in the name of making a sale.

I represent a company, not a charity, and we need to sell stuff to make money in order to survive. All of a sudden I don’t feel so noble anymore, but that’s ok cuz it was never the intention to begin with.

What I do want is to provide you with information that you want, when you want it and how you want it. I want that when you get that sales call, you will be like “Man I’m so glad you called – tax season is just around the corner and my boss really want us to upgrade the software!”

I believe lead nurturing is awesome service, and I’m a sucker for awesome service. How about you?

Oh and just for you numbers freaks, here are a few eye-opening stats:

  • More than 25% of leads take seven months or more to close
  • 73% of leads are lost because they are sent to sales before they are ready to buy
  • Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales ready leads at 33% lower cost
  • Nurtured leads spend 47% more on purchases than non-nurtured leads

A digital future for an analogue industry

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furniture digital marketing

Times are changing

The furniture industry has a reputation for being an Ol’ Boys club with a lot of face-to-face interactions and many industry trade shows to attend every year. My own experience from the industry more or less supports this reputation, as with most reputations they are often founded on at least some degree of truth, as they say “where there is smoke there is usually fire”.

Many industries have undergone great transformations over the past ten years, as they have had to adapt to new buyer behaviours with the shift from bricks to clicks retail. I have previously touched on the subject of e-commerce evolution, where we ten years ago found it unlikely that online retail of things like shoes or clothing would ever become popular, today we love it and most of us have at least at some point shopped online for these items.

I wanted to find out more about the general attitudes towards the use of digital tools as part of sales and marketing among the furniture retailers where I live; in Denmark. I wasn’t able to dig this information out from the corners of the internet, so I set out to conduct a survey on my own, and although it has to be said that my survey carries zilch statistical validity, it does give a good indication of certain trends and attitudes prevalent in the furniture industry.


So where is the furniture industry heading?

It is doubtful that the furniture retailers can remain behind their fortified arguments about their products being unsuited for online retail, due to their bulky nature and relatively large price-points, for very much longer.

Although the vast majority of sales still takes place in a physical store; roughly 3% happen purely online (USA & Europe combined data), it would be very unwise to ignore the impact the web has on the industry today. According to a study done in the UK by the Javelin Group the web has a direct impact on 42% of sales and this number is expected to increase to 69% by the year 2020.

So even though you might conduct the actual transaction within the four walls of your showroom, whether or not the customer will even venture into your store in the first place is very much influenced by what they experience online.

Furniture could be one of the last remaining online retail frontiers – so when will they conquer it ?

Probably sooner than many furniture retailers are prepared for. I spoke with many retailers during my survey and I got a clear feeling that most are aware that e-commerce is something they need to include in their business strategy, but they are very unsure of what exactly they should do to make it a success.

I understand where they are coming from; when you venture into uncharted territory where there are very limited established best practices to follow, you must have the guts to set the rules on your own. And that’s scary stuff when you have existed in an analogue world for donkey’s years.

Many fear that online trade will cannibalize in-store sales. This is my advice to them; with limited growth predicted for the industry at large over the next 5 years, and the only discernible growth is taking place on the web, online trade might very well eat away at in-store sales, but if you don’t cannibalize your own store someone else is sure to do it.

Didn’t Know You Could Shop Furniture Like That?

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Today’s world of savvy consumers expect a lot from online retailers; whether you are pure-play online or store plus online, you cannot ignore the power of the modern consumer, as a retailer the viability of your existence is at the mercy their clicks – they can make you or break you.

Although brick and mortar stores still account for 90% of the revenue created, there is a clear shift in the purchasing habits of shoppers, they are migrating online. A survey by UK’s webloyalty shows that overall online purchasing has increased by 27,6 percentage points over the past ten years[1].

Ecommerce evolution

When you think of furniture you don’t immediately think online shopping. But maybe you should. Just maybe furniture today is where shoes were 10 years ago. Back then everyone was saying that you couldn’t buy shoes online, that you had to try them on first. And along came Zappos and ASOS and changed all of that!

Today online sale of furniture account for 8% of the total industry sales in the US and it’s forecast to grow 45% by the time we hit 2015.

But how exactly do you buy furniture online? I wouldn’t trust buying a new sofa from just seeing a picture on a website! Well, some pretty nifty creative gadget are now available courtesy a few businesses with enough foresight to see that this is what tomorrow’s shopper wants.

I want to share two of them with you.

The first one is called LoveMyHome and before I get on with how awesome they are, I want to have full disclosure and let you know that I work with LoveMyHome, but that doesn’t make them any less awesome 🙂

LoveMyHome supply the furniture industry with interactive product visualization tools that help you and me when we shop furniture online. First up is the issue of viewing products properly, that means knowing what a product looks like from all angles. Don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t buy an armchair that I didn’t know what looked like from the back. That’s where 3D product visualization comes into play – it allows you to spin the furniture around, zoom in and out and change things like fabric or material if the furniture comes in different colours.

LoveMyHome 3D Room Designer
LoveMyHome 3D Room Designer

Second issue when buying furniture is will it fit in my house. This problem has always existed, whether you shop online or in store. I often get misled when it comes to the size of things when I’m in a furniture store because the store space is so huge it makes the furniture appear smaller than it really is.

Then when you receive delivery of the new King size bed, you realize why they call it King!

So LoveMyHome created a super user friendly 3D Room Designer that allows you to draw your room or house to scale and then place furniture in it to see if it will fit. It is fun to use and you can jump into your own design and take a walk in your own virtual home. It resembles a computer game when you are in this mode, and it is a powerful experience to see your home and the new furniture online like this.

A great way to really understand what something will look like before you buy it. The furniture store equivalent to the fitting room!

Check it out for yourself www.lovemyhome.net. I think all furniture retailers should have this feature as part of their website.

The second one is SnapShop. This little fella is really cool if you just quickly want to get an idea of what something would look like in your home. It works as an augmented reality app and can be downloaded for free from the Itunes store.

The SnapShop app
The SnapShop app

You simply take a picture of the area you want to furnish and then place items on top of the picture. There is access to a number of stores directly from within the app which makes it really easy to find new stuff for your home. You can scale items so they look correct in the picture. For me the big issue with this app is that you don’t actually know when you have hit the right size. Not so cool if you buy something you believe will fit because you have scaled it to fit, but in reality it looks like you have purchased a child’s furniture.

Still it is a very cool tool if you just quickly want to see if something would go with the decor of your home. Check it out here  www.snapshopinc.com



[1] Experian White Paper: “The changing face of UK retail in today’s multi-channel world” page 8

[2] http://www.webloyalty.co.uk/images/webloyalty-conlumino-home-retail-research.pdf page 19 viewed Feb. 26th 2013

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark

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I start this blog about customer service on the day they announced in the news that my native country Denmark, in a survey done by the World Economic Forum, is ranked as the number 117th nation when it comes to locals friendliness towards visitors.

Tourists are left to their own devices when visiting Denmark
Tourists are left to their own devices when visiting Denmark – no helpful Danes around!


Ouch that hurt!

I didn’t expect such a paltry ranking, but I have to admit I am not surprised that we are no where near the top.

After 15 years in a country whose main source of income is tourism, it has been alarmingly clear to me ever since I returned to Denmark almost 3 years ago, that we have serious issues when it comes to our service levels.

In my other home country, Barbados, they often discuss whether or not their service level is up to par; they are all too aware that as a tourist destination, every day they must sell their country in order to prosper. Not to say they don’t have room for improvements as well, but at least they acknowledge the severity of the issue.

Is the lack of friendliness in Denmark because we think tourism isn’t that vital to us?

But it is. As a small nation we are deeply dependent on the rest of the world in order to maintain our high standard of living. It isn’t just tourists who experience the low levels of friendliness and lack of common courtesy. Businesses feel it too. We want and need to trade with the rest of the world, so shouldn’t we start giving our visitors are warm and heartfelt welcome, -who knows they might return to do business with us!

Why is it so difficult to be friendly?

I had a funny experience a while ago. I was catching the bus one cold and windy Copenhagen morning. There was a ton of people at the bus stop, everyone with5490020-bus their shoulders drawn up around their ears and no one speaking a word. As the bus stops everyone pushes to get on board, not giving the bus driver the slightest acknowledgement. When we are finally all cramped like sardines in a can, the bus driver closes the doors. Pulls the speaker and announces with a strong Indian accent: “500 people just entered my bus and only 8 said good morning. That is simply not good enough. I refuse to drive anywhere until everyone has said good morning” And so true, he didn’t move an inch until everyone on the bus like a bunch of naughty kids being scolded sounded out in unison “Good Morning”

That bus driver made my day and hopefully also made a bus full of Danes aware that a little bit of friendliness goes a long way.