Despite my varied experiences, I'm a salesperson, and for me, that means solving people’s problems. Father of three/ Husband to one wife/ Marketing Junkie/ Voracious Reader/ Foodie/ improbable Yogi
Despite my varied experiences, I'm a salesperson, and for me, that means solving people’s problems. Father of three/ Husband to one wife/ Marketing Junkie/ Voracious Reader/ Foodie/ improbable Yogi

Per’s Pearls: Email Marketing in Multi-Brand Firms: How to Use It Effectively 

Multi-brand firms, or holding companies, are businesses that own a portfolio of different brands. These companies offer an avenue of growth and increased market share, but they also come with their own set of challenges. The biggest challenge that multi-brand firms face is how to effectively manage the marketing of all their brands at the same time. This is where multi-brand marketing comes in. Multi-brand marketing is a strategy used to create synergy between all the brands within the company and empower each one to be a marketing hero. 

Having multiple, separate brands allows a company to reach different customer segments and capitalize on varying market trends. Think of some restaurant-holding firms that can have a chicken, burger, and pizza label and cover the gamut of your fast-food cravings. Or a fashion group that can cover someone from high school to retirement. With such a wide range of offerings, these brands can tap into various customer segments and provide solutions tailored to their individual needs.  

Another benefit of a multi-brand firm is that it allows for distributed marketing efforts. Companies can share resources and leverage different channels such as email marketing and content marketing to reach customers by creating and managing multiple brands under the same umbrella. This helps them reach more people and build stronger relationships with their customers. Ultimately, this leads to increased sales and greater brand recognition. 

The challenge is, that despite now being part of a bigger entity, the individual firms have history, resources, and processes. Anyone who’s been part of a merger will have heard the dreaded phrase, “that’s not how we do it here”. Though the bane of every change agent, it can also be a way of saying, “our firm is unique, and we’ve figured out how to communicate with our clients”. The opportunity of saving money by consolidating vendors often goes against the grain of marketing and operations who will have to reconfigure their workflow all while maintaining a current state. 

Teach your co-workers well

When discussing email marketing for a multi-brand firm, we should consider the bifurcating tiers of resources. Let’s consider a made-up multi-brand firm Saassy, which has seven brands focused on women from high school to retirement. Their marquee brand has over 800 locations selling fast casual clothing for post-college women (Låne) while their smallest brand has 80 target shops in exclusive malls selling elegant clothes for women over 50 using high-quality materials (kvalitet). We can assume Låne has a full marketing team creating bespoke emails based on complex personalization models, whereas kvalitet may have a catch-all marketing manager sending sporadic emails off Constant Contact. What happens when Saasy decides that all the brands need to migrate to a single ESP and send consistent messaging in timing and look/feel?  One could assume Låne would be able to quickly pivot, whereas kvalitet would most likely struggle as their team isn’t staffed to support a comprehensive customer engagement platform and the required volume of emails to find success. 

In kvalitet’s case, migrating from Constant Contact to a state-of-the-art ESP is like going from driving a scooter to a Ferrari. We must ensure that we don’t set up our teams for failure. A simplified distributed marketing solution, which sits on top of the fancy customer engagement platform, will allow the kvalitet marketing manager to create emails utilizing approved templates, share a common calendar, institute an approval process, and succeed. If the system is adopted holding company-wide, the collective can learn from one another and adopt best practices quickly.  

Schedule some time to discuss how Sageflo can help you.    

Posted by percaroe

Per’s Pearls: How can I market to my clients as a franchisee/branch manager?

As we discuss distributed marketing and how to scale content creation to local teams, a good place to start is the QSR (Quick-Serve Restaurant). A QSR’s primary marketing requirement is to bring people into their locations. In an ideal world, corporate will be able to generate sufficiently successful emails, SMS, TV/Radio ads, and such to drive traffic to the location. However, corporate marketing priorities are not always the same as a local franchisor, and we need to allow the franchisors to communicate directly with their customers. So, let’s look at two use cases to understand the challenge of accomplishing this, and the advantages to both corporate and the local level owners and managers. 

Two Audiences / One Location

First, imagine you’re the owner of a QSR in a town of 50,000 people. You have two high schools and a weekly farmers market between June and October. The schedules of the two local high school football teams and farmers market will become the cornerstone of your local marketing campaigns.  

Corporate marketing does a great job of promoting the Chicken Sandwich, or the Groundhog Day Slider. Where local marketing is most effective, is by promoting the upcoming Friday night game, with a pre-event reminder; and then, after the game, sending a congratulatory email with a themed offer (Blue and Gold Milkshakes, anyone?). To do this effectively you need to have calendaring functionality so that you’re not running the schedules off an excel spreadsheet, reminders on Google Calendar, or post-it notes. A useful calendar will also tie into the corporate marketing campaigns so that you’re able to leverage the national Chicken Sandwich or the Groundhog Day Slider launch.  

Farmers Market patrons, we know from experience, are a geographically dispersed group. Sending them a notification that the local football team has won will, at best, be seen as amusing; and at worst generate an unsubscribe. Farmers Market people want to be notified just prior to coming to town that your QSR is offering special menu items, different opening and closing hours, or a simple “welcome to our town” email which serves as a reminder that you exist. Like the football schedule, you can tie into the Markets schedule, and hit people with emails prior to, and after, a particular event, “Make sure to come down to Franks Diner after getting your fresh vegetables and treat yourself to an Amazing Chicken Sandwich!” 

Also necessary, and discussed in prior blog posts, good list management is the key to success with email and SMS marketing. When collecting names, ask about interests (“which football team do you support”), significant dates (birthdays are smart), and food preferences (vegan, gluten, and allergies) so that you can customize targeting and offers down the road. For the Farmers Market example, one can simply ask, “are you here for the Farmers Market” while collecting the contact information. One can also add a zip code field to sort locals, vs out-of-towners. 

In-Store Events

Next, we’re going to pretend that we own a pet supply store in the same 50,000-person town. We could highlight the football team as a booster and celebrate the school’s bulldog mascot by offering bulldog chew toys. More interesting, however, would be to highlight your store’s participation in an adopt-a-pet event with a local foster program. Chances are, you’re not going to be able to get anyone at corporate excited about a local pet adoption event in your small 50,000-person town, but it sure is going to be important to the success of the event to have people show up at your store.

A Final Thought

From a higher level, corporate marketing is focused on building brand recognition and driving traffic into all locations. Local marketing, on the other hand, is focused on driving people into your store(s) while reinforcing the idea that your location is a part of the community. Whether it’s an in-store adoption event, cooking or yoga class, with local marketing you’re empowering local teams to speak more effectively about the events they’re passionate about, and highlighting their community involvement at the same time.  

Like politics, all marketing is local, so we need to ensure downstream folks (franchisees, regional managers, etc.) follow the rules, both from a general marketing and corporate guidelines perspective. Local marketing builds on the branding that corporate has done, but gives humanity to the local branch, “We’re the Smiths, and our family is proud to serve you at Frank’s Dinner.” But it’s important that the Smiths don’t abuse the people who’ve given permission to market to them, and that they are able to adhere to brand guidelines; to accomplish these two requires a tool purpose-built for local teams, with ease-of-use top of-mind and guardrails to help them stay on brand.  

Schedule some time to discuss how Sageflo can help you accomplish this balancing act.   

Posted by percaroe

Per’s Pearls: How to collect email and SMS addresses

In ten years, every multi-location company, whether it’s a Franchise (who will lead the charge), Branches, or MLM/Network Marketing will be empowering their people to send personalized emails and SMS. If we accept this premise, we must address these five challenges but don’t worry, we’ll offer several solutions to each. 

1. Hello, I love you, won’t you tell me your name?

Capturing Emails

How do I get my customer/prospective customers’ contact info so I can send them an email/SMS? There is a wealth of ways, but it gets down to fundamentals. A QSR, retail, or service provider, for instance, can just ask them. Either at the point of purchase, online order, or when they walk in. A restaurant client of mine used to add an email line on the receipt so that you could sign up for their loyalty program. The catch was training staff to highlight the line and enter the email into the system properly; in case you haven’t tried to read someone’s handwriting lately, that can be a huge issue to data integrity. A more elegant option is adding a QR code directed to a landing page or providing a kiosk with the sign-in form. 

Service providers are a wealth of data, depending on the food ordering system, you should be able to legitimately acquire their contact information as part of the transaction, the same goes for modern payment systems, where you encourage an email receipt. I’ve received follow-up emails from several businesses after getting an email/SMS receipt and depending on the content, it’s been acceptable. 


Consent – What’s in It for Me?

Why should I give up my name and contact info? This question hits several concepts- consent, questions, and content. Consent is a big, big deal. I’m permitting you to communicate with me regarding this particular item- my receipts, offers, and notifications of birthdays/anniversary- this is not blanket permission to hit me four times a day with non-relevant content. A good rule of thumb, is “when is it relevant or SPAM?” Take the 1964 Jacobellis v. Ohio case regarding obscenity, where Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, said, “I know it when I see it.” For email/SMS we know when something crosses into SPAM, but the best way to avoid confusion is to ask, ask, and then ask again.  

3. Email is Dead, Long Live Email


How, and how often, would you like us to communicate with you? People want to be communicated to via their preferred channel. People either love or hate email, social platforms, text, and messaging apps. Make sure your messages are sent to the appropriate channel. Also, a word on frequency. Ask upfront, and in your preference center, how often (and what content) you want to hear from us. We may do a whole other blog on frequency and content because there’s a lot that goes into it. 

4. Do You Like Broccoli Ice Cream?


Preference Centers are a must-have, this is not a debate; if you don’t have one, go make one, like right now… stop reading… I’m serious. Preference centers are part of a relevance and consent strategy. PCs offer a mechanism to ask what’s important at the beginning, and then throughout the relationship. 

When I started selling to Oxford University Press early in my career, Preference Centers were a hold-over from Mail Order firms. OUP had 54 variable emails for which you could sign up, it was nuts, but their deliverability and engagement numbers were incredibly enviable. Partially this was because we are not static entities, we change jobs, move, get together and separate from people- all of which affects why I may, or may not, want to hear from you. 

Wildcard questions are really interesting, provided you build a mechanism to use them. Think of food types in restaurants. Cracker Barrel recently saw a kerfuffle over adding plant-based breakfast sausage. But what’s the impact if I identify myself as preferring plant-based sausage, kosher, or gluten-free? The location should then send appropriate content based on these preferences. A word of caution, asking things like age, weight/height, race, or gender could be specifically appropriate, or super problematic. Maybe ask a few people who don’t look like you before going live. 

5. Just ’cause I’m leaving doesn’t mean I’m gone.


Regarding the unsubscribe process, Randy Levy recently wrote a short piece on unsubscribing. The piece itself is informative, but the comment section is gold. A universal pet peeve (and arguably illegal under GDPR) is having to sign in, or add one’s contact, info. to unsubscribe.  

As I mention before, we have different needs at different times, so we may decide to take a break, but if that’s not available (see preference center above) I’m going to unsubscribe or report you as SPAM. Make the unsubscribe process easy, offer a pause function, and offer the ability to change frequency and type of send, but make it easy to leave. 

Final Problem – How do I get this bird off the ground?

If I’m a single location QSR, a branch/region manager, or a member of a Network Marketing firm, these all sound super scary and prohibitive. The onus must be on Corporate Marketing/Ops to ensure that the scaffolding is available for you to start creating hyper-localized, relevant content for your customers. Sign-up options and data entry should be simple and focused on avoiding data entry mistakes, and a clear articulation of content and communication types.  

Eventually, everyone will be sending emails/SMS at the location level. The question is how? Via a low-rent email tool with no safeguards from corporate? Everyone using the sophisticated Digital Marketing Platform? We contend a made-to-purpose Distributed Marketing tool, utilizing all the sophistication of a top-tier Digital Marketing Platform, yet easy enough for a non-marketing professional is the ideal solution to this problem. 

Contact Per with any questions or comments:

Posted by percaroe

How to Improve NPS 

“I personally believe we developed language because of our deep inner need to complain.”

Jane Wagner, The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe

People love to complain and are loath to praise. Take ten minutes and read up on your favorite taco truck on Yelp and you’ll wonder what the heck happened, that’s not the business you know and crave fortnightly. When we consider client satisfaction on an enterprise level, we need a different set of tools for the task, which is where we find NPS. 

Here’s how NPS works.

NPS stands for Net Promoter Score®, and is an industry-adopted measurement of customer satisfaction/ experience and a good predictor of future growth. The score ranges from 1–6 as a Detractor, 7 & 8 are Passive, while 9 & 10 are Promoters.  If one subtracts the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters, one has your NPS; which can range from -100 to +100. 

Why is NPS important? The goal of NPS is to take a single survey question asking respondents to say, “rate the likelihood that they would recommend a company, product, or service to a friend or colleague”; and have what Fred Reichheld titled his 2002 Harvard Business Review article, The One Number You Need To Grow. Executives have jumped aboard the NPS train, and it now carries a great many bonuses and promotions. So, how do we increase our NPS, so we look good to our bosses and them to theirs?  

Some stats about why Customer Experience (CX) will affect that golden single NPS and how customer experience drives business growth: 

  1. 67% of clients churn if there’s no First Call Resolution (FCR)
  1. 84% of consumers are frustrated when the agent does not have information. 
  1. The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60–70%. The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5–20%.  
  1. It costs 6–7 times more to acquire a new customer than retain an existing one.  
  1. A dissatisfied customer will tell between 9–15 people about their experience. Around 13% of dissatisfied customers tell more than 20 people. Happy customers who get their issue resolved tell about 4–6 people about their experience.  
  1. A 5% increase in customer retention increases profits by 25–95%. 

How does one increase FCR and improve NPS? Be knowledgeable. 

Before Sageflo Archiver is implemented, our clients generally aren’t tracking how many requests for resending an email occur in a day, the status of a client’s subscription permission, or how much time is spent fulfilling auditing requests. After implementation, the contact center team typically uses Archiver to lookup emails, SMS, and print collateral between 3,000 to 10,000 times a week! This is because Customer Care is generally incentivized by the number of “resolved” calls an hour, and Archiver makes it incredibly easy to address these types of inquiries swiftly.  

On the flip side, if a call requires access to an individual’s email — which is usually not readily available to the contact center without a solution like Archiver — they send a request to the people with the emails: Marketing. If it takes Marketing five minutes to look up and send an email, SMS, or print piece back to Customer Care (or directly to the client) it can take days, or weeks, to resolve the issue because they have so many other priorities to attend to. If you’re sitting in an airport trying desperately to find an email with your flight information, that is an unacceptable amount of time. Aside from the unhappy client’s impact on your NPS and future revenue, this little exercise, at scale for a given enterprise business, costs $800K–$1.9M in people hours (or 9–21 X ROI) each year. 

If we’re honest, most of these difficult-to-support issues fall by the wayside as customer care is struggling to keep up with the volume of inquiries. This results in all the above: unhappy customers, who are very likely to switch vendors in hopes of a more satisfactory customer experience in the future. So, one simple major step to improving your Net Promoter Score is to empower front-line Customer Care/ Retail employees to access one-to-one communication so they solve issues during the initial call in just a few minutes, and not days.  

With the right tools to easily address these issues, your teams will be significantly more productive — and happier! — and your customers will reward you with greater loyalty and repeat business. It’s a win-win for everyone. 

Learn more about Sageflo Archiver.

Contact Per with any questions or comments:

Posted by percaroe

Per’s Pearls: Personalization vs. Individualization 

“Don’t be creepy. Over-communicate where your data comes from and make it available to be edited, so consumers feel empowered, not trapped.”

Complaints from the 1%… Boo-hoo I’m a Giant

One of the more irritating things about being taller and wider than the norm is clothing. For dress clothes, I’ve been lucky to find a tailor from Bangkok who comes through the Bay Area a couple of times a year, takes my measurements, shows me the materials and I get a FedEx package a month later with a suit or dress shirts; all at a rate comparable to Nordstrom’s off the rack. For everyday wear, there are a few brands I rely on that have a good rate on big and tall for polos and jeans. As a thrifty consumer, I tend to wait until their Cyber Monday sale and buy a year’s worth of replacements for my wardrobe.  

Here’s my personalization information- 

  1. Wears 2 or 3XL Tall tops/ 46-inch waist 
  1. 54-year-old Male 
  1. Lives in Northern California 
  1. Likes polo shirts and V-neck sweaters for three months of the year 
  1. Buys exclusively during sale periods 
  1. Buys exclusively dark colors- black or dark blue 
  1. Does not buy dress shirts, or sport coats 

Now, imagine my surprise when I get an email advertising women’s sun dresses. This is a failure in personalization- let alone individualization, which is marketers’ white whale, but still very challenging to do on a basic level for the bigs.

It’s all Different Sized Buckets

Let’s take a step back and understand the difference between Personalization vs Individualization. There are a host of competing terms and definitions, each author trying to be clever- and probably sell something by making things confusing. Personalization is best described as a relative bucket (two or three items on the personalized list above) and individualization is me, a unique sunflower (all the variables listed above, plus some I haven’t imagined).  From a marketing perspective, both are super relevant, just for different things, but the base trend is headed toward Individualization. Marketers should always try and understand what and why they’re sending content to customers.  

Let’s take our theoretical clothing client and me. A personalized email campaign may be, “we need to sell 14,000 cargo shorts, as summer is wasting away and we don’t want to discount them too much in October”. As I live in Northern California (plus or minus fifteen degrees off an average daytime high of 65 F year-round), am a 54-year-old male, and I like Polo shirts, it’s a pretty safe assumption that I’ll buy the cargo shorts with some discount.  

Here’s where we cross into Individualization, because of my waist size, the system should be integrated into the inventory system, to ensure that they have a reasonable number of XL- XXL (depending on fit) shorts in dark blue/ black available. Further, looking at my past buying pattern the system notices that I bought a similar pair of shorts five years ago, which is the lifetime of the standard cargo short (totally made that statistic up, but it sounds good). Individualization requires more data integration but will have a much higher success rate as it’s targeted to an audience of one. 

Tales From the Creep

Despite Oxford Analytic and Zuck’s Folly, a McKinsey study from the end of 2021 shows 71% of customers expect personalization, while 76% indicated frustration at not being spoken to as an individual. Simultaneously, 55-60% of Americans are in favor of the American Data Privacy and Protection Act (ADPPA). A federal law expanding on GDPR and CCPA. What does this mean for marketers? Don’t be creepy. Over-communicate where your data comes from and make it available to be edited, so consumers feel empowered, not trapped.

A Word from our Sponsor

Ironically, perhaps, but at Sageflo, we originally designed our Archiver tool to capture every personalized email for call center, marketing, and compliance uses. However, we are proud to announce the upcoming release of our Persona view, which will allow the customization of aggregate customer segment buckets (gold membership members, Vegans, or Northern California Sasquatches). This will allow an overview by marketing to easily understand what a group of people has received from the brand in an easy-to-view customer journey format. 

The CRO/CMO/COO Fever Dream

We all want a more personalized user experience. I want my daily purchase to feel more like the experience I get when my tailor meets me to measure, suggest, and ask about my wife and kids. I get irritated when Instagram shows me an ad for a cool shirt, only to find they don’t do 2 or 3 XL Tall. On the flip side, I’ve set my iPhone to the lowest data collection, because I don’t trust the industry will self-govern where to draw the line on buying and selling my data.  

This is what keeps retailers up at night- how much is too much and where can I find out just a smidge more to intersect with customers’ lives and be more relevant. The answer is faster and bigger. Real-time data updates pulling to campaigns into ever more complex data segmentation. At some point, it’ll be AI, ‘cause everything’s gonna be AI; but for today, it’s massive integrated data systems. But more importantly, will be how rules get implemented to ensure a customer focus on data privacy and whether that comes from the industry or from the government. What are your thoughts? 

Contact Per with any questions or comments:

Posted by percaroe

Per’s Pearls: When does the QSR version of American Graffiti come out? 

It was an amazing sight. Lots of kids with red wagons with bunting, random pets walking, and waiving; cowboys riding lovingly groomed horses; minor dignitaries, and car dealership owners, riding in antique cars soaking up the crowd’s cheers- it was lovely.” 

Pure Americana

My cousin and her family left the Bay Area, just before covid made this a fashionable trend, for the wilds of Michigan. We spoke recently and were discussing the differences, primarily the cost of living, natural beauty, and weather. She said, “you get 8 weeks of summer, not like the Bay Area where spring and fall shoulder summer to stretch it out for most of the year; but the upside is it’s a real summer, hot and humid; and full of Americana.”  This got me thinking of the America of Norman Rockwell, Coke memorabilia, and the place of retail in this collective nostalgia. 

Searching for Americana

When I was a college intern for CBS This Morning, my boss sent me to Fort Dodge, Iowa to interview Fred Grandy, who was the Congressman for Iowa, but better known as Gopher from the Love Boat TV show.  I met Congressman Grandy the night before at the Holiday Inn, where we were both staying, by chance, and spent the evening drinking beers and discussing Single-Payer Healthcare. I was pro and he con, but it was a fun, respectful conversation.  

The next day we met for the interview, where he was the Grand Marshall for the town parade, which I spent the hour before I left for my flight observing. It was an amazing sight. Lots of kids with red wagons with bunting, random pets walking, and waiving; cowboys riding lovingly groomed horses; minor dignitaries, and car dealership owners, riding in antique cars soaking up the crowd’s cheers- it was lovely. 

I jumped on a plane and got back to NYC in time to view Macy’s fireworks show, which was splashy, loud, and also, very American.  

As American as a Baked Apple Pie Lava Pockets

Over thirty years later, what stuck with me is the idea that small towns represent the American psyche. Rockwell’s artwork was full of the idealism of America’s small towns. Fort Dodge’s population of 24,168, which is half of my town, but a fraction of my greater metro area which has 7.75 million inhabitants (to be fair Iowa is half that at 3.15M). I’m asking myself what place do QSRs (Quick Serve Restaurants) represent in these small towns, and therefore in their culture vs mine? 

Outside of Agriculture, QSR’s are one of the most common first employers in rural communities. Culver’s, a Midwestern burger and Fresh Frozen Custard franchise, with 800 restaurants in 25 states have provided 3,000 scholarships worth $5M to their employees. Culver’s also extols its training and advancement opportunities for employees.  

In towns like Fort Dodge, the local Culver’s is also a focal point for teens and young people. Googling things to do in Fort Dodge includes the normal array of sporting activities, an Art Museum, and Fort Dodge Grain Silo Mural. Given these options, I’m guessing Culver’s is hopping on any given Friday night. And I imagine most know one another on either side of the counter. 

In my immediate community, we look forward to the Twin Cities (Corte Madera and Larkspur) Parade, which has the same mix as the Fort Dodge parade of decades gone by, and the Marin County Fair. The parade and fair generate a lot of business as folks come in to enjoy the spectacle. But from a local business stand, it’s hard to stand out. Local messaging is key to success in this saturated market. 

A&W, which has more than 900 locations, with more than 550 in the U.S., and at over 100 years old is America’s oldest franchise restaurant chain. This was my childhood local hamburger joint and is around the corner from the County Fair. Unlike Fort Dodge Culver’s, it competes with a host of youth activities, and first-time jobs; and does a poor job at self-promotion.  

Putting on my promotion hat, I’d be sending out email blasts before the events to promote A&W’s wonderful root beer floats after a hot day of overpriced fairground food. I’ve never seen them, or any QSRs, participate in the 4th of July parade or have a booth at the fair. This could be intentional by the organizers, but why wouldn’t you remind residents that you are a part of your community and not just a location of an international restaurant chain? 

Nouveau Americanism

QSRs make up 50% of the American restaurant industry. There are 204,555 QSRs in the US as of 2022, up 1.3% from 2021. 83% of American families eat at fast-food restaurants at least once a week and the average family spends 10% of their annual income on fast food. The local Culver’s, Pizza Hut, or A&W is an engine for growth and provides a consistent level of food whether you’re in Springfield California, Illinois, or Florida.  

The next big marketing wave for these local franchises is to access sophisticated marketing tools that their HQ use, but in a simplified form, to help solidify their position in their communities. Celebrate the High School team’s victory, the Farmer’s market in the mall, the Fair and Parades that make up our annual lifecycles- but most importantly celebrate and promote your place as an organizer or participant! Perhaps the next Americana artist will wax nostalgic for the local QSR location, their hyper-local marketing, and how that evokes nostalgia for the newest iteration of American identity- aka Americana? 

Contact Per with any questions or comments:

Posted by percaroe

Per’s Pearls: On Dude and Y’all

“We can smell when language is used as an affectation, when it’s not genuine… I may not be able to work a y’all but I can work the hell out of Dude.”

My Father, the King of Italy, Ladies and Gentlemen

I remember a vacation in Mexico, where my Argentinian raised father insisted on speaking Spanish. He was excited to be able to show off, as my mom, sister and I only spoke English and Danish. What we soon learned, was the staff was convinced he was speaking Italian (and proceeded to call him El Rey de Italia). They understood our English and 7th grade Spanish better than my fluent Dad. Why? Because language is local. Or as George Bernard Shaw said: “England and America are two countries separated by a common language.” My father’s Spanish was specific to Argentina, had we been in the high Mexican mountains, he would have had even greater difficulty as Mexico is broken into four to ten dialects, depending on who you ask.

In the olden days of email (2003), we were excited when we first added “Universal” Spanish and French to our UI and UTF-8, so our clients could use the tools in their native language and send emails that would render properly. As SaaS has matured, we now routinely see software updates say, “We’ve added Finnish!” That’s awesome for the 5.5 million Finns- 70% of whom speak excellent English. But that’s not where localization of language should be anymore, we shouldn’t just be playing clean-up, should we?

When Pet Supplies Plus started using Sageflo, over the first 12 months, franchisees sent over 2,000 campaigns. Franchisees saw their email click-to-open rate (CTOR) increase by 19%, and average basket size has increased by 12%. Part of this was that they were sending more messages by expanding access to guard railed email-templates sent through Responsys (their existing ESP vendor), but a lot of it came down to language.

I’m the Dude. So that’s what you call me. You know, that or, uh, His Dudeness, or uh, Duder, or El Duderino if you are not into the whole brevity thing.

I was on a call with a Partner from Atlanta, she’s a local-born and raised. On the call, she dropped a casual y’all, which got me thinking, could I use y’all in casual conversation and sound authentic? Nope, I am a Marin, CA kid, I live a mile from where I grew up. I may not be able to work a y’all but I can work the hell out of Dude. Dude‘s a great word, it’s multifaceted based entirely on tone. Or, as Kaiser Kuo wrote in The Beijinger when trying to teach Mandarin tonality- “The Dude System”:

1. Dūde, the disapproving tone, as to the clumsy roommate who’s just knocked over your three-foot Graphix and gotten bong water all over your Poli Sci 142 reader: “Dude, I can’t believe you spilled my bong again!”

2. Dúde?, in the concerned but creeped-out way you might address the roommate you discover sitting cross-legged in the dark, chanting “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo” and sounding a little brass bell.

3. Duǔde, scornfully, as if your roommate has asked to borrow 50 dollars so his sensei can align his chakras: “Yeah right, dude.”

4. Dùde!, as if you are exclaiming in triumph to your roommate when coming home from class having gotten a date with Elena from your macroeconomics class.

A Pack of Bulldogs go after Trident wielding jocks

As we get closer to the customer, think of your local chain fast food restaurant. When one says, “Come down to Montecito and celebrate our Dogs beat the Trojans! Two for one milk shakes.” Someone from Marin County would know that there has not been a canine attack on ancient Greeks at a town in Southern California. They’d know that the San Rafael High School football team beat the Terra Linda HS team and that you get a discount at the local mall. The localization of language has a lot of subtlety and one can get wrong-footed very easily; we can smell when language is used as an affectation, when it’s not genuine.

By empowering our Franchises, Branches, and Brands to send email, SMS, and Social we solve several issues at once. We allow them to use your existing messaging platforms (you know they’re sending on some janky ESP otherwise) with simplified Templates, Filtering and Reporting; increasing the communication volume and personalizing the content to a degree unattainable to any Corporate Marketing Team, while simultaneously retaining the collected data that comes from focused campaigns which feeds future campaigns. So, when you think language localization, think hyper-local.

Contact Per with any questions or comments:

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Per’s Pearls: A Funny Thing Happened at the Show…

“This industry, Saas, and behavioral marketing are too small to screw people over. Everyone is three degrees from one another, so let’s all try and do a small kindness for one another.”

A few weeks ago, I attended Shoptalk in Las Vegas where I kept running into old friends from my work life. I’ve been in SaaS since 1999, but email marketing as a focus since 2003, so the +4,700 people on LinkedIn shouldn’t be a big surprise. What is a surprise to me, is the frequent and varied manner in which we all intersect.

One friend, we’ll call Jim (names obfuscated to protect deal cycles), was an old boss and we’ve been friends since Silverpop. Jim now works with Dan (let’s call him) whom I worked with at Lyris after they acquired EmailLabs 15 years ago. Now Dan and Jim work together at a cool real-time marketing platform firm that enables businesses to understand and deliver a contextual experience for their prospects and customers to influence desired outcomes.

Jim and I were walking the floor catching up on family and such when the head of a fabulous Quebec-based professional services firm specializing in commerce and digital transformations walked by, slapped my arm, said hi, and rushed off to a meeting. I had one of those mental gap moments where I couldn’t recall his name but knew from whence, I knew him… those are awesome. Just as Jim was heading back to his booth, I recalled the cool agency guy’s name and blurted it out. Jim stopped, turned around, and said, “wait, that’s him, he’s on my shortlist of people to find at this show!” We rushed back in his general direction and finally found him in a meeting. Long story short, I’m helping them get together for a call now.

Why Should I help Jim?

I know and trust Jim, and I know the Canadian marketer is smart and always looking for the next cool thing. What’s the downside to me introducing these two people whom I know and trust? Nothing. What’s the upside to me? Nothing immediately. Jim’s not going to give me a finder’s fee. But I know that reputation is everything and the big wheel always has a turn.

Dr. Feelgood: Why Selfless Giving Makes Us Happier

According to a paper by Saulin, A., Baumgartner, T., Gianotti, L.R.R. et al. Frequency of helping friends and helping strangers is explained by different neural signatures. They tracked a neural baseline activation in the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) – a brain region associated with self-control and strategic social behavior – predicts the daily frequency of helping friends, whereas the daily frequency of helping strangers was predicted by neural baseline activation in the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (DMPFC) – a brain region associated with social cognition processes. In short, helping, or giving, fire up different parts of our brain. It’s like Bill Murray’s speech at the end of Scrooged:

It’s Christmas Eve.

It’s the one night of the year when we all act a little nicer; we smile a little easier, we cheer a little more.

For a couple of hours out of the whole year, we are the people that we always hoped we would be.

It’s a miracle. It’s really a sort of a miracle because it happens every Christmas Eve. And if you waste that miracle, you’re going to burn for it.

I know what I’m talking about. You have to to do something. You have to take a chance. You do have to get involved.

There are people that are having trouble making make their miracle happen.

And if you give, then it can happen. Then the miracle can happen to you.

It’s not just the poor and the hungry; it’s everybody who has got to have this miracle. And it can happen tonight for all of you.

If you believe in this spirit thing, the miracle will happen, and then you’ll want it to happen again tomorrow.

You won’t be one of these people who says, “Christmas is once a year, and it’s a fraud.” It’s not. It can happen every day.

A Mitzvah

Over coffee recently, my friend, Steve Gershik reminded me of Maimonides’ Eight Levels of Charity- the highest is to help a friend to gain employment (which Steve and Jim have both done for me), or ensure they are not dependent on others. A lesser is to give to an unknown recipient, who also is unaware of the benefactor. Each degree of giving down is less altruistic until the gift is given unwillingly. My goal with Jim is to simply repay many small (and one big) favors he’s done for me over the years. My goal with the Canadian marketing executive is to share something I think would be cool for his firm. In Maimonides’s perspective, it is a middling thing, a small favor.

Reputation Rules

Had Jim asked me to introduce him to someone that I didn’t feel was a good fit, I would have told him. If Jim had been a bad actor in the past and played loose with deliverables, I would have avoided him. This industry, SaaS, and behavioral marketing are too small to screw people over. Everyone is three degrees from one another, so let’s all try and do a small kindness for one another tomorrow and then we’ll want to be like Bill and want that feeling every day.

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Per’s Pearls: Longer hours don’t equal more production or better results

“We sell email, if we screw up, no one’s gonna die.”

I’m going to take a swipe at looking down the path a bit ahead and seeing what may happen with a techie’s lens. Argue with me, call me an idiot, but let’s try and keep to a data-driven discussion.

What do we owe our jobs?

When I was interviewing with Aaron Smith, our CEO, for the CRO position, we had several deep discussions on what work meant to us and what sort of company we wanted to build. One thing we were in violent agreement on, was longer hours don’t equal more production or better results. Sageflo has a half-day Friday and no work on the last Friday of the month policy that is, not shockingly, very popular. Do I peel out at the stroke of 12 every Friday? Uhhhh, no. I’m in sales and have a ton of work to do, but I will leave after I’ve gotten done what I can and then I hard unplug for the weekend.

Do The Math

Aaron had tracked performance and found that despite an 11.2% decrease in time expectations (this took me a half-hour to figure out, please don’t make me share the math), productivity was in line or above what was expected. Which tracks with several larger sample size studies.

An Icelandic study, over four years, tracked 2,500 employees whose 35-36 workweeks showed productivity stayed the same or improved, while the researchers found that “worker wellbeing dramatically increased across a range of indicators, from perceived stress and burnout to health and work-life balance.“, according to the Autonomy findings.

A Microsoft Japan study from 2019 (pre-pandemic) found that reducing the workweek by one day led to a 40% increase in productivity, increased employee happiness, and resulted in a 23% decrease in electricity usage.

Finally, in 2018, Perpetual Guardian, a New Zealand trust management company, announced a 20% gain in employee productivity and a 45% increase in employee work-life balance after a trial of paying people their regular salary for working four days. The company made the policy permanent.

Cognitive Studies

Hungarian-American psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi coined the term “Flow” in 1975 to describe those moments when you’re completely absorbed in a challenging but doable task. Think of this heuristic technique in relation to your workday. What percentage of your time is focused on activities that will progress your work and drive your company forward? Wouldn’t it be better that when we’re at work, we’re focused on work; and when we’re off work, we’re present for ourselves, our families, our interests, our passions?  There are a host of studies that show that we’re only able to focus for so long on a task before we’re running on empty and just taking up space.

One of my colleagues used to say, “we sell email, if we screw up, no one’s gonna die”. It was his way of not taking ourselves too seriously. Now I think of two of my college roommates who are doctors. If they screw up at work, people die.  And yet, the medical field still holds onto this bizarre fascination with driving residents to work 70-80 hours per week during hospital rotations and 40-50 hours per week on outpatient clinic rotations. Lawyers on a partner track routinely work 60-80 hours as do the wall street bros. One must ask, is it any wonder that drug and alcohol abuse is rampant in these industries; and what is slipping between the cracks due to cognitive failure?

Goal vs. Hours

As a good manager, business owner, or employee think of the Outcomes for which your work strives. Mine is simple- grow Sageflo to a +$50MM in sales company over the next five years. To achieve this goal, I need to break down everything into manageable bits and work every hour of the workweek to accomplish the steps to the end goal. What is your high-level goal, and what are the steps you need to take to reach them? Do I think about work when I’m away from my computer? Absolutely! The best time for me is when I’m on my yoga mat or in my garden weeding. My brain can roam, the wheels can turn freely, and then BAM! Big idea, or small realization, or recollection that I need to send out that email. But none of that would be possible if I’m perennially exhausted from looking busy.

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Per’s Pearls: Where are we 2-years after our 6-week lockdown and the great migration?

This is the first in a series where I’ll be taking a swipe at looking down the path a bit ahead and seeing what may happen through a techie’s lens. Argue with me, call me an idiot, but let’s try and keep to a data-driven discussion.

It’s been two years since we started our quick, six-week lock-down. Covid cases in the US have fallen almost as fast as people’s willingness to keep our lives on hold. Though the Washington Post today leads with a story of Europe seeing a spike in Omicron cases, EU regulators continue to relax their requirements. Timehop reminded me that two years ago today I stated we will remember this time as BC and AC- before and after Covid. I stand behind that statement, but more importantly, what does AC mean and look like?

Housing in Urban centers

Two years ago, the press was filled with stories of high-wage tech workers fleeing San Francisco for rural settings. So where are we with that? Though we did see rental costs in major metro’s (SF, NYC, Boston, and DC) crater by up to 30%, they’re now inching back to BC levels. Instead of rushing out to Wisconsin or rural Nebraska, untethered workers mainly stayed within 150 miles around the Bay Area, according to research done on Post Office and Census data. This, along with historically low-interest rates, explains the spike in housing prices in Sacramento.

Office Space and Work from Home

Will we go back to the office? Yes and no seems to be the safe answer. Most of my coworkers have been free of the office for years, so this is an acceleration of a trend vs a new phenomenon. Some people, not me, but some people like an office. Sageflo’s CEO likes to have a space outside of the home, but skateboard-ably close, to separate workspace from home space. We had the opportunity to build an office when we remodeled our house, so I can close a door and leave work behind.

What data shows us, is that people work longer and are far more productive when they can work from home. Part of this bleeds into the conversation being had (sadly mainly just in Europe so far) about contacting employees outside of work hours. VW made a big deal about this for their staff a few years back and Portugal has recently passed a law forbidding bosses to reach out after their normal working hours.

Finally, on this point, I feel it’s a sign of poor management to want to “keep an eye on my people”. Most jobs are metric-driven and very traceable through work tools. Instead of making people commute so you can eye-ball them, try hiring good people, pay them well, and work to make them understand what is expected of them and how you will be monitoring performance. But give them access to what they need to succeed, and that may be an office space or a good chair for the home office.

Trade shows

I’m a big fan of face-to-face, and I enjoy working trade shows, so there is my bias. But after recently attending eTail West (and prepping for Shoptalk), I likened the mood to the moment after a champaign cork pops. People were hugging each other and vigorously shaking hands. The bar at the JW Marriott turned into “the pit” where people crowded so close a friend stated,” I couldn’t see hands but could see shoulders, so that was too close for comfort”. Some of us are triple shotted with a floater of active covid (I took part in the January surge with a stuffy nose), so I feel very comfortable to mingle. Others do not share my endemic laissez-faire attitude, and that’s completely understandable. Provided this spike in Europe doesn’t hit the US too hard, I suspect it will be a banner year for events.

Wrapping up, I think we’ll see an absolutely fundamental shift in how we do business and I feel so bad for the students and newly employed young people who have had to start their careers under these extraordinarily weird circumstances. If anyone has tried to access mental health services (anticipate huge waits), if you moved to Springfield and discover that they don’t have decent Chinese food, or if you’re debating what to do about that huge lease you can’t get out of… try and take a breath, the market will shift like it always does. We’ll see a surge of new people going into mental health services, restaurants will open as the market for great food moves from the cities to the rural regions and maybe, just maybe, major metros will start converting office space into living space.

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Posted by percaroe