The Sound of Business – Part III

How to Give Good Sonic Personality©

We live in an age of metrics. Traditional and new media advertising
agencies often substitute metrics for understanding. Mathematical
models create the appearance of scientific analysis, when in fact they
are often manipulated to support a preselected agenda. We all know
data can be massaged to conform to almost any conclusion. Besides,
most small owner-managed companies can’t afford the expense of
these agency-driven number crunching solutions. The real question is,
do these metrics actually help us connect to our customers, who just
happen to be people?

Emotions Win Over Rationality

After all, we are dealing with people, and people react to information on
both a rational and an emotional level. If everyone bought goods and
services based on a strictly rational basis, we would all be driving Smart
Cars and wearing Old Navy jeans. People make decisions based on a
perception of reality, rather than a rational analysis. Without getting too
metaphysical, in business there is no reality, only perception. We
believe what we think is true, or what is presented to us as true.
Information is colored by who and how, the message is delivered.

Trying to Make ‘Senses’ Out of Life

We experience our lives through our senses. We see, hear, touch, and
smell. It is through these senses that we create what passes for reality,
and on that perceived reality we make our so-called rational decisions.

Left on their own, people will interpret what they sense in very individual
ways. What tastes good to you makes me gag. The woman I think is
beautiful you think is ugly. That is until we our told in some convincing
communication, what we should think.

Skinny, shapeless, superior super models are beautiful because we are
told over and over that they are, and ultimately we mostly learn to agree.
So what does this all mean: reality is a managed state of mind. We are
either the managers or the managed. Sounds pretty icky, doesn’t it, but
there it is, and I for one rather be one of the managers than one of the
managed.

Managing Perception

We have all been told from early on that ‘a picture is worth a thousand
words.’ How many times have you quoted this famous saying? And you
actually believe it, after all Confucius wouldn’t lie, would he? According
to Jack Trout, in his book ‘The New Positioning,’ what Confucius actually
said was, “a picture is worth a thousand pieces of gold.” Not the same
thing at all is it? There is actually no evidence that Confucius made
either remark.

The documented origin of the famous expression has been traced back
to a guy named Fred Barnard who sold tram advertising in the 1920s by
stating the claim in his advertisements. Originally he claimed it was an
old Japanese proverb, but later changed his story and issued Chinese
lettering with a translation in his ads. Who knows what the truth is,
maybe old Fred invented the expression himself, but most people
believe Confucius said it, and that’s reality, even if the damn thing was
made up.

What You See is Nice, But What You Hear You Remember.

People want to believe what they see is the most important element in
delivering a message, but I would argue that what you hear outweighs
even what you see. Think about it. Companies spend millions of dollars
on attractive logos and pithy corporate names, and I have no argument
with developing a proper logo or a great name. But successful company
names and logos have an element inherent in their design that goes
beyond how they look. It is how they sound. When you see a visual
brand representation, a signal goes off in your head and a little voice
whispers that company name. Try to think of a popular corporate logo
without the name of that company sounding silently in your head.
Sound, and more specifically the human voice, is the most under utilized
marketing tool we have at our disposal. And it’s ready to hit The Web,
big time.

The Web is Made for Sound

The Web is a multimedia platform and your website should utilize every
possible tool available to create your reality and to deliver your
marketing message. No one was able to stop the flood of images from
overtaking the Web, and soon audio will follow. Now I hear the screams
of some crying out against the multimedia pollution on the Web, and I’ll
agree that it will surely come. But here’s the thing, agreed most
companies will implement sound on the Web all wrong and it will be just
more noise, but if YOU do it right, you’ll be the winner. Your message
will get through the noise, and you will define reality, and manage the
perception of your audience. The question then is how do you effectively
implement voice-audio on the Web?

Audio – The Human Connection

I started this series of articles by stating that the way to break through the
liquid crystal barrier was with a human voice that delivers a Sonic
Personality¬© for your business. We’ve talked about how you must create
the basis for a business personality by first defining who you are, what
you do, and why you do it better than the competition. We’ve also talked
about focusing on the core values of what you want to do for your
audience, and not confusing them with all the things you can do. So now
we are ready to craft your Signature Voice Рyour Sonic Personality©.

On-Demand CRM – Integration Hub for the Small Business or Enterprise Department

There is an interesting phenomenon happening in the small and medium business segment. The widespread adoption of on-demand or software as a service (saas) CRM, led by Salesforce.com, and followed by companies such as NetSuite and RightNow Technologies.

Well, that’s not really new.

What is new is the expanded use of saas CRM software within these mini-enterprises, whether independent businesses or smaller divisions or departments of larger corporations, as their principal business platform. Since saas CRM manages the lifeblood of the business, sales and customers, and is increasingly more user friendly and flexible, it is becoming the preferred method for companies to manage their business.

As a result, it is also becoming the de facto integration hub, or SOA enabler, for the smaller enterprise.

A case in point is the experience of a well-known educational products sales company. It’s parent company sells educational toys through retailers. However, it launched a division that sells education-oriented items to schools and school districts, such as a handheld screen-based interactive tool that uses story narratives to teach English proficiency to non-native English speakers. This newer division established a territory sales model, with geographically-based sales executives selling to school districts in their area.

The main corporate entity has only a handful of account managers who sell to large retailers such as Wal-Mart and Toys’r’Us. Whereas it is geared towards a retail sales model and related B2B IT infrastructure, the newer division had the infrastructure needs of a territory-based direct sales model. They required a CRM application to track leads, opportunities, and closed sales, and because of the reduced bandwidth of this smaller business unit, they required the efficiency gains of an automated commission calculating application.

With no dedicated IT resources (IT resources are tied to corporate and are available “on-loan” to the new division), and a need to ramp-up quickly, the division chose to bring the CRM and commission calculation functionality of the on-demand model. They chose Salesforce.com and Xactly Corporation, respectively, to fulfill these functions. The one on-premise application they had access to was Oracle Financials for accounting.

The missing piece was to integrate these applications together. They chose to go with a packaged integration platform, adopting their subscription-based pricing model and on-premise software.

In addition to being the CRM platform for the new division, Salesforce.com is also serving as the de facto “enterprise service bus” to incorporate the accounting functionality of Oracle Financials, and to trigger Xactly to do it’s job of calculating sales commissions.

This use of Salesforce.com as a de facto on-demand ESB platform was noted in an August 2007 white paper entitled “Busting Myths of On-Demand Integration,” by Peter Coffee, Director of Platform Research.

“On-demand platforms exhibit the growing capability to provide a foundation for integration,” he said, citing a May 2007 announcement of the Salesforce.com SOA technology that enables the exposure and consumption of web services.

In the same paragraph he notes:

“This is not to say, however, that a move to a Web services protocol strategy (such as that of using a saas application such as Salesforce.com) is a prerequisite for on-demand integration…there are options available for use with the salesforce.com platform” such as custom coding or a third party integration platform.

In other words, on-demand applications, Salesforce.com being the most prominent, are quickly establishing themselves as integration hubs the way ESB providers such as Sonic Software, IBM’s Websphere, and BEA’s Weblogic were formulated to be.

These SOA solutions, however, are cost-prohibitive for smaller companies, divisions or departments, and are often managed by enterprise IT staffs who are unresponsive to the needs of the department. These smaller enterprises have to fend for themselves, and are adopting on-demand applications that require little to no IT involvement.

IT typically has to get involved when it comes to integration, according to Coffee. Such was the case with the educational products company. Their IT department provided the input that the newer division needed to give the technical “thumbs-up” to the integration solution. But due to human bandwidth issues they decided to go with a fully delivered integration solution as opposed to the traditional toolset that is typically sold to IT departments.

Tying together Salesforce.com, Oracle Financials and Xactly Corporation was done in the span of four months and cost less than $50,000. Why did it take that long? Because they had to take a breather between deciding on an integration vendor and a commission calculation vendor.

Compare that with enterprise application integration projects which typically take nine months or more and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and you can see why Salesforce.com, together with fully configured integration solutions, are quickly becoming the “integration hubs” or systems of record for the smaller enterprise.

Sonic Drive-In – One of the Top 25 Franchises

Sonic Drive-In is an iconic American fast-food restaurant chain noted for its retro theme, affordable food and curb-side service. Created in 1953 in Shawnee, Oklahoma, what begun as a simple hamburger restaurant called Top Hat Drive-In has since transformed into the enormously popular fast-food chain that offers good food at low prices. The curb-side service, reminiscent of the 1950’s, is another reason why this restaurant has such a wide appeal across the country. Today over 3,500 Sonic Drive-Ins can be found in most states all across the United States, making Sonic the largest drive-in franchise.
 
Sonic is a very successful franchise that operates drive-in restaurants with the wildly popular pull-up, curb-side service that has made the chain famous. On the menu is a variety of made-to-order fast-food items (Tater Tots, fries, hamburgers, and desserts), most notably their signature Toaster sandwiches (sandwiches made with Texas Toast) and Extra-Long Cheese Coneys. They are also famous for their Happy Hour every day that offers any drink – even their flavored Fountain Favorites- half-off from 2pm to 4pm. The prices are what offer the most appeal and benefit to the consumer; the affordability of the product (noted especially with the cheap drinks during Happy Hour) along with the ease of service makes Sonic beneficial to the average family. Sonic is also attractive to investors due to the large size, great stability, and very successful marketing strategy of the chain.
 
When it comes to fast-food in the United States, few franchises match Sonic in terms of food quality, service, and value. The charming setting combined with the successful marketing campaign, affordable food, large scale, and widespread availability of the chain makes Sonic a worthwhile investment if you have 1.2m-3.2m to totally invest this just may be the franchise for you. If you want employee’s and to be away from home all the time! However, for those of you that are more like me, there are other means of owning your own business with less of the liability of a large franchise. Click the link below to find out more about one of them.