Interview With Claire Stoddard, World of Work Marketing
I interviewed Claire Stoddard over three years ago by email for the June 2006 issue of Ambeck Edge. I am finding that the interviews that I conducted years ago are still very relevant because we will alsways have challenges and need ideas on how to resolve them.
Challenge: I actually enjoy business challenges. I find that the issue is not resolving them, but finding the very best solution. The process it takes to find a perfect answer has two parts. The first part can be described in two little words – Due Diligence, Due Diligence, Due Diligence.
A case in point. One of my clients is a large, multinational, nonprofit, membership-based legal association that was experiencing an ongoing communications problem with their members, all of whom are senior lawyers. Although the organization sponsors three membership meetings a year and sends out numerous emails updating members on events, there were consistent complaints that members were unaware of new products and services. Even board members seemed to be in the dark.
Many of their problems stemmed from inconsistent, sometimes poorly written communications with members. Some months emails went out fast and furious and overlapped each other. Other months there would be very little communication. It was hard for members to keep up on new products and services and membership benefits were seldom emphasized.
Solution: After meeting with senior managers about the problem, I recommended a branded email marketing campaign with online links to their web site, distributed to members once a month, with reminders of member benefits. This meant creating an electronic template for an eNewsletter. But who would help create the electronics of the email campaign?
First I turned to two web designers, both of whom offered design capabilities, but not distribution. It didn’t seem like the perfect package. Then lo and behold I received a notice of an event sponsored by the American Marketing Association, featuring a service provider that specialized in email campaigns. I attended and not only learned a great deal from the presentation but asked the vendor for a proposal. The proposal was excellent and I thought I was set. However, unexpectedly, a competitive email service provider was recommended. I was tempted to cut off the search since I had already expended a lot of time, but I thought it was better to explore every reasonable option. It turned out that the second service provider not only had an excellent product, but experience with non-profit organizations. I recommended them to my client and a contract was drawn and signed.
Almost immediately there was a legal glitch that needed to be resolved and a resulting delay. A new contract had to be signed. I considered switching service providers. And now here is the second part of the necessary process of resolving business challenges. After you have done all the due diligence you can – sometimes you have to trust your gut.
My instinct told me that I had the best solution. Even though the people involved were changing, the product offered enormous potential for my client. I stuck it out and arranged for a second contract to be signed. From then on, everything worked perfectly. The new people are honest, forthright, and extremely customer service oriented. The product, indeed, is perfect. Members are starting to feel more connected and aware of the benefits their membership provides. And, best of all, I now have a second customer signed up for an email marketing campaign.
Lessons Learned: The learning process for me was extraordinary, providing me with a new skill set, which in turn benefits my clients. It has proven to be a highly successful project which can be replicated many times.
Formula For Success
So, what is the formula for success you might ask? In my opinion, it’s those two little words, Due Diligence, Due Diligence, Due Diligence, along with a liberal dose of well-informed instinct.
Have you ever faced similar challenges? How did you resolve them? What kinds of lessons did you learn in the process? How can you learn from Claire’s experience?
Excerpt Ambeck Edge June 2006