Author Archives: Christine Perkett

About Christine Perkett

I've spent my career coaching CEOs, CMOs, and COOs on how to best market and grow their companies, how to inspire and motivate their workforces, and how to manage in good times and in bad. I'm a serial entrepreneur who has founded three companies. I've received numerous accolades and awards including being named a “Top 100 Must Follow Marketing Mind” in Forbes, a 2020 Top 50 Social Media Influencer in Planable, a “Boston 50 on Fire” finalist, a “Top CEO to follow on Twitter,” a “Top 50 Social Media Influencer on Twitter” by Vocus (now Cision), and one of the 250 Most Influential Women Leaders by Richtopia since 2015. I've been featured in numerous outlets for my expertise including Associated Press, ABC, New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and many more. I am also an adjunct Professor of Digital Marketing and Media at Northeastern University in Boston. I champion women in business and enjoy helping others make their dreams come true. Personally, I 'm a mom to four who loves dogs, the ocean, fashion, marathons, wine, humor and kindness.

A Customer Service and Marketing Lesson from Club Wyndham Resorts

CW_Twitter_Icon_400x400We’ve all been there – on a well-deserved and long-awaited vacation, when you get “the pitch.” Someone from the resort interrupts your day to ask if you’d give them just 90 minutes to come look at a time share. They’re aggressive, but you really don’t want to give up time in the sun having fun with your family, so you politely say no. Most of the time they accept your decline, encourage you to call if you change your mind, remind you of the lovely dinner gift certificate you can get, and move on.

Well, not Club Wyndham. They don’t take no for an answer.

My family arrived in North Myrtle Beach Thursday night after a very long car ride from Boston. We were looking forward to a nice, quiet beach vacation. When we pulled into the parking garage, we were greeted by a lovely gentleman named Bill, who happened to also be from Boston (Watertown, to be exact) and was a former Harvard University police offer. Bill was awesome.

Bill’s colleagues could stand to take some lessons from him. 

We proceeded to the third floor to check in. Annie at the front desk was pleasant enough. Then she sent us to another desk to “get our parking pass.” This process was less about getting our parking pass and more about three women accosting us with more paperwork than a plastic surgeon, and a hard core pitch on spending 90 minutes the first morning of our vacation attending a “presentation” that was “just so you can get to know more about Wyndham, because we don’t advertise, so we’d love for you to tell people about your experience.”

You got it, Wyndham. Here’s our experience.

I very politely declined. They then “upped the ante” with new offers of dinner certificates, “cruise” packages (more dinner certificates on a cruise if you paid to take the cruise) and more. They didn’t seem to get that 90 minutes taken out of my very short vacation with my family was not worth $200 to me. My time with my family and in the sun was way  more important.

But they wouldn’t take no for an answer. When my fiancé came back to get us, I was so overwhelmed with all the paperwork that had just been shoved in my face, that I very politely again said we would need to go talk about it, trying to get him (and my four kids who were sitting there still holding their bags and very tired) to walk away before they wasted 20 more minutes of our time. The woman – we nicknamed her “Manhattan” because that’s where she was from (and she never told us her name) – suggested that I take the bags and go upstairs with the kids, and they would then repeat the pitch and tell my fiancé all about the “deals” that we “really shouldn’t pass up.”

I again stated that we would need to talk about it, we weren’t going to commit right there, and that we both had work conference calls the next morning anyway, so it was unlikely we would attend. I was trying to be nice.

Nice doesn’t work.

They filled out paperwork and signed us up anyway, and told us to “let them know if we decided we wouldn’t attend.” Fine, whatever it took to get out of there and get out to the pool!

When we finally got up to our room a half hour later, we dropped of our bags and my fiancé  needed to go park the car. But… no parking pass. The women had been so busy with their pitches for the 90 minute presentation and the push to all of their suggested vendors to patron, that they forgot to even give us a a parking pass!

So my fiancé  had to go back down and get the pass. And he got pitched again. When he finally flat out explained that our time with family was more valuable than a $200 gift certificate, he was given a rude wave, shooing him away and a “fine, goodbye” from Ms. Manhattan.

Class act, Wyndham, class act.

So we were pretty upset. The entire situation set a very negative tone. But we had said no and so we went about our evening.

This morning we awoke to a note under the door, indicating we should call Amber at the Hospitality Desk. We were excited, thinking maybe they were going to upgrade our room to an oceanside view like we had requested.

Nope.

The call was so that Amber could “reschedule us” because we hadn’t shown up for the 8:30 presentation. Apparently, Ms. Manhattan didn’t take our “No” to heart and left us on the list anyway.

We checked out Friday morning and got our money back. We weren’t about to spend our vacation continually bullied and pressured into a situation we didn’t want. It was beyond uncomfortable and Wyndham didn’t deserve our dollars.

There’s a customer service and marketing lesson or two in here:

  • Know your audience – when I filled out the form indicating our preferences, household income, etc., it should have been clear that $200 for our time wasn’t something that would really entice us.
  • Listen to your audience – look, we’re all in sales. We get it. But when your audience isn’t responding favorably to your tactics, you don’t do more of the same. You figure out a new strategy.
  • Train your marketing, sales, customer service and all departments that the customer experience relies on all of them to do their job well. It didn’t matter that Bill was nice and welcoming – his colleagues didn’t follow suite, and thus, we left and they lost revenue.

There are more to be had but like I said, I am on vacation and, thanks to Wyndham, have lost nearly a full day in the sun with my kids to rescheduling, rebooking and moving to another hotel (also adding a half hour more to our drive home). It’s time for me to get out in the sun.

One last note – our check out was lovely. The manager was pleasant and understanding and apologetic. Ironically, he, too, was from Massachusetts, one town over from us. So our two most pleasant interactions at the Wyndham Towers on the Grove were with people from our hometown. Way to go, Boston.

Two Simple Tips For Building Brand Community

What makes a community? This week I was on a social media panel at MIT Sloan, where we began the conversation with this topic – community building. How do you use social media to build a community around your brand?

There are two key words that come to mind when I think of community:

  • Helpful
  • Resourceful

It’s easy to broadcast on social media, but if you’re looking to build a community and advocacy around your brand, lead with these two values. Be helpful – post tips, tricks, and hacks – tell people how they can do things better or easier. Be resourceful – build up your thought leadership around key subjects that you know are important to your connections. Offer insights, experiences or opinions. Be thoughtful. When people know they can rely on your for quality content, they will continue to come back to your channels. You have become a resource to them.

Another simple approach is to think about walking into a party in your new neighborhood. Let’s say you’ve just moved in. If you want to become a part of the community, you don’t barge into the party loudly broadcasting how great you are and pitching people on what you do. You’d likely take the time to introduce yourself, get to know what matters to your neighbors and, if appropriate, offer up insights on things you have in common, sharing your experiences.

Online isn’t really all that different. Brands lose sight of this. Just because you can broadcast on social media doesn’t mean that all you should broadcast is information about yourself. Brands especially need to take care with how they establish and build community. It’s okay to share information about your products and services but in the end, by being a resource and offering ongoing information about topics related to your business – and to what your audience cares about – you will develop stronger relationships.

For more on this and other social media tips, check out the video from the panel. Bobbie Carleton of Innovation Women was our amazing moderator. Thank you for the opportunity, Bobbie!

 

Changes to Change Your Life

“Ordinary people seek entertainment. Extraordinary people seek education and learning.”

As I grow older, I’m constantly on the lookout for ways to improve my life. I get the “itch” to do something drastic and different. But maybe it’s about changing more of the little things rather than just one big thing.

This is undoubtedly one of the most inspiring posts I’ve read this year. I’m going to strive to follow the advice here, (although I already do a few of them). Check it out and let me know the changes you see if you take these on! I’ll be sure to share my experiences as well.

50 Ways Happier, Healthier, And More Successful People Live On Their Own Terms

Ladies, Join Me At The Inaugural Opening Night For MACFW

2015-opening-night-headerThe Massachusetts Conference For Women kicks off next week with its first-ever Opening Night — an evening of speakers, signings, shopping, learning and networking. The event will be held December 9th from 5-9pm at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Many of the Conference-day speakers will be participating in talks, interviews, book signings and meet and greets. I’ll personally be happy to see Tory  Johnson, contributor to ABC’s Good Morning America and #1 New York Times best-selling author of The Shift. Tory actually included me in one or her earlier books, Will Work From Home, and I was lucky enough to be invited to speak on her Spark & Hustle tour a few years ago.

Opening Night attendees can take advantage of LinkedIn profile makeover workshops, volunteer for a local nonprofit, watch live product pitches and support local woman-owned businesses in the Expo Hall. It’s the Conference experience on a smaller scale and I’m excited to attend! You can, too! Tickets are only $25 and can be purchased at maconferenceforwomen.org.

The Massachusetts Conference for Women offers the community and connection, the information and inspiration, the motivation and momentum to help you discover what you want—and go get it! The Conference features nationally recognized speakers who share their wisdom and expertise on a wide range of personal and professional development topics, helping you find clarity on your goals and what you need to accomplish them.

Unfortunately, conference tickets are sold out. But I have two tickets to the Opening Night event to give away*. If you’d like to join me there, please be one of the first two readers to leave a comment below with the best piece of advice you’ve received that inspired you to reach great heights personally or professionally. The first two readers to comment will win free registration to the Opening Night event. Please be sure that you can attend if you are going to comment!

I look forward to seeing many of you next Wednesday.

 

*Giveaway Details:

No purchase necessary

First two people to comment will win a free ticket to Opening Night

Winners must confirm they are able to attend the Opening Night event

Prize value: $25.00

Comments must be received by Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Winners must provide their email upon request – a registration code will be sent to the winners via email

Free registrations sponsored by The Massachusetts Conference For Women

Boston 50 On Fire – Thanks!

I was happily surprised and super grateful to be named a finalist in BostInno’s 2015 50 On Fire awards in the Professional Services Category. From thousands of nominations, a judging committee chooses 200 finalists that are “companies and individuals who are disrupting their industries and making an impact in Boston and beyond.” Wow – I’m flattered to be recognized in the city I love so much!

50onfire

I am grateful to my clients, staff and industry colleagues for the opportunities to work with them on such fun and interesting campaigns that allow me to be nominated for such cool awards. We’ll find out in a super fun ceremony on December 3 who the winners are. Grab your tickets, here.

Sunglass Hut: One Simple, Smart Marketing Move

sunglasses

Prada sunglasses available at http://www.sunglasshut.com/us/prada

Sometimes small businesses get overwhelmed with the idea of creating marketing campaigns. They often think effective marketing has to be expensive and intricate. But the truth is, sometimes the best marketing comes in the form of simple, smart moves. One example comes from Sunglass Hut.

When you buy a pair of sunglasses at any Sunglass Hut, they’ll ask you if you’d like to purchase one of their cleaning kits. Great. But did you know that if you do, they offer free refills of the cleaning solution for life?

Pretty smart, eh? Here’s why:

  • Doing so means you’ll come back into the store. Getting customers in the door is always key in retail.
  • By getting customers in the door, they’re more likely to make a repeat purchase – they see new merchandise, engage with sales executives, etc.
  • Offering “free for life” increases loyalty and brand stickiness.

The company offers several other smart marketing examples such as free shipping, fittings and returns. For marketers who understand the psychology of “free,” you know these are smart moves. You don’t have to be a large corporation to implement some kind of repeat business campaign. Maybe you can’t afford to provide free shipping or products, but I bet you can afford to give loyalty discounts or other creative reasons for a shopper to return to your store. Perhaps it’s a free pair of earrings with every necklace purchase during the holidays, or a Free Refill on a shopper’s Birthday. Get creative and remember, you’re trying to get them back into your store – online or off – to encourage additional engagement.

Marketing doesn’t have to mean a huge, flashy campaign. The best marketing keeps the customer in mind, and looks at offers and promotions from their perspective.

What “I Love You” Means

Love is complicated. Love makes people crazy. Love can be euphoric.

I think the best summation I’ve read of love is from Cheryl Strayed, bestselling author of “Wild” and “Tiny Beautiful Things.” In the latter, she explains her definition:

“A proclamation of love is not inherently ‘loaded with promises and commitments that are highly fragile and easily broken.’ The terms you agree to in any given relationship are connected to, but not defined by, whether you’ve said ‘I love you’ or not. ‘I love you’ can mean I think you’re groovy and beautiful and I’m going to do everything in my power to be your partner for the rest of my life. It can mean I think you’re groovy and beautiful but I’m in transition right now, so let’s go easy on the promises and take it as it comes. It can mean I think you’re groovy and beautiful but I’m not interested in a commitment with you, now or probably ever, no matter how groovy or beautiful you continue to be.”

This is part of one of her Sugar advice columns, where she continues:

“The point is, Johnny, you get to say. You get to define the terms of your life. You get to negotiate and articulate the complexities and contradictions of your feelings.”

You get to say. And if anyone you love starts to tell you that your definition of love must match theirs, it’s time for a serious conversation. Perhaps this is why love goes so wrong so often – we stop accepting our partner’s definition and instead try to make them fit into ours. Accept the love, or don’t. But don’t try to change it.

She concludes with, “Be brave, Be authentic, Practice saying the word ‘love’ to the people you love so when it matters the most to say it, you will.”

Happy Valentine’s Day.

New Book Helps Parents And Educators Raise Confident, Powerful Female Leaders

I’m a big advocate for helping women in business to be bold, strong and confident. I think as the gender that was born with a big “Caretaker” sign on our foreheads, we spend a lot of time putting ourselves last in order to make others feel cared for. This doesn’t always work well in business, and is likely one of the reasons women continue to struggle with workplace equality and power. I think we will only see a sea change for women in business if we can start teaching young girls some fundamental things during their adolescent development.

A new book was released last month that can further help parents and educators of preteen girls embrace such fundamentals. Brave Girls: Raising Young Women with Passion and Purpose to Become Powerful Leaders,” is written by Stacey Radin, PsyD, and Leslie Goldman. It is being touted as “the ultimate guidebook for parents and educators who want to learn how to help their girls become confident, passionate, and powerful leaders.” Radin also runs a social justice program, Unleashed, a 12 week program where girls learn to diagnose a social challenge, dig deep beneath the surface to address the root causes, and learn to create change. Radin’s background is as a psychologist and consultant for women struggling in the professional world. During this work she “made a ground breaking realization: it all begins in middle school. Women who become successful leaders learn how to do so in the middle grades—the most formative stage in a girl’s development and self-identification.”

Unleashed’s mission is “To empower middle school girls to take a stand against an injustice they care deeply about, and advocating for animal rights and welfare in the process.” Over the course of 12 weeks, girls develop critical tools they will use to solve complex social problems throughout the course of their lives.

The program and the book cover such important topics, and key areas that need to change for our young girls to grow up strong and proud – and happy. Things that we as parents and educators need to support and help them to embrace, including:

  • Love yourself first – it will make you a better lover of others. It’s not only okay, it’s fundamental to a happy and fulfilling life.
  • Be proud of your talents – celebrate what you’re good at! “People think you’re full of yourself when you talk about what you’re good at.” Yikes. We need to teach them to be PROUD of what they are good at. That being full of self love is a good thing. Not boastful or rude, but proud – and with the knowledge that it’s okay to talk about yourself in a positive light.
  • Know that it’s okay not to be perfect – perfect is a fallacy. Don’t try to pretend you don’t fail, rather, learn from it – and share with others so they can learn, too. (I see this “can’t fail or be wrong” mentality in a certain 7 year old I know.) As a New York Daily News writeup by Arielle Landau mentioned, “That sounds drastic, but little girls are often shielded from failure. An old Verizon commercial illustrates the way they’re taught to keep their pretty dresses clean and sit still. By high school, they’re detached and uninterested. So Unleashed gives them an outlet, and Radin shows them how to make mistakes … and learn from them.”
  • Support other girls/women – don’t be jealous, be happy when good things happen to others.

I love that the Unleashed program involves puppies and helps them, too. As Landau wrote, “Radin uses Unleashed, a program that helps preteen girls build their confidence through animal rescue. Through the process of saving puppies — puppies! — the girls learn that they are allowed to passionate and organized. Perhaps more importantly, they learn they’re allowed to fail.”

I know I’ll be grabbing this book, how about you? Our girls need all the help they can get.

 

Peace On Earth? Probably Not. But That Doesn’t Mean We Should Stop Trying.

“The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively”  ― Bob Marley

“The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively”
― Bob Marley

Today is Tuesday, December 16. My heart is heavy. One could say I’m emotional about the holidays, as I tend to be, but it’s more than that today. In the last 24 hours, the earth has been anything but peaceful. On Monday morning, we woke up to reports of a hostage situation in Sydney, Australia, and a mass shooting in Pennsylania, where a suspect who killed his ex wife and her family is still on the loose. This morning we learned that the Taliban had slaughtered 132 children and nine adults in a school in Pakistan, ranging in ages from 10 to 18. I simply cannot fathom that carnage.

Hanukkah started today. Christmas is just nine days away. Many of us are busy stressing out about getting the shopping and the wrapping done, whether or not the kids will like their gifts, and how to fit in everything that needs to be finished before year’s end. We’re hoping no one gets sick, that our travels are safe, and we’re thinking about what we’ll do for New Years. We’re Instagramming and Facebooking our great holiday moments, and we’re shopping and baking and caroling. But today, take a moment to pause and look around. Try to put your worries into perspective. Try to put your blessings into perspective. Don’t ignore what’s happening in the world, but rather take a moment to really think about it – and what little things you can do to try and make it a better place, despite these horrors around us.

We can try every day to be harbingers of peace.

I’m not naïve enough to believe in world peace. But, I do believe that we have the power within us as individuals to do small things that can make a long term difference as a larger whole. We can try every day to be harbingers of peace. We can strive to be truly good – to hold the door for a stranger, to let someone step in line in front of us, to drop ridiculous grudges and frivolous lawsuits. We can forgive. We can stop being so narcissistic, only thinking about our own needs. We can become aware and stop hatred and jealousy when we feel it arriving in our hearts. We can truly teach our children through our own actions to love and to be kind; to be colorblind and to see humans  – good and bad – as the individual people they are, not judging them because of their color, sexual orientation, gender or lot in life.

We can’t stop mad men like those responsible for the horrible events of this week. But, we can support entities that help with mental illness (which is often a cause of mass shootings). We can make an effort to better understand and treat it, as well as depression – and not to avoid the topics simply because they make us uncomfortable. We can send a care package to a soldier who is fighting for our freedom. We can take a stand on gun control. We can vote. We can help build a home for those in need, instead of taking that family vacation.

It’s easy to get caught up in our own lives. We get so wrapped up in the ridiculousness and eccentricity of it all, as perfectly captured on any one of the reality TV shows here in the U.S. Keeping up with the Joneses is still a thing – whether we want to admit it or not. So this year, when you’re making your resolutions, try to think bigger. Go beyond the weight loss wishes or the promotion goals, and think about what you can truly do to try and spread light in this world. I’m making that vow, and I hope you will, too. I’ve constantly got to remind myself to let go of stress around silly things. I have a daily reminder in my phone to think about my blessings and the joy in my life, and I am making a commitment to do one major volunteer effort this year with my family. I’m donating my time to help with two organizations that take care of those with life-threatening conditions. And daily, I’m simply trying to be conscientious of others around me – letting someone pull out in front of me while driving, or giving someone my spot in the grocery line when I’ve got 20 things and they’ve got two. Tipping well.

Little things every day.

If we can do enough good things, no matter how small, perhaps they will begin to dominate the headlines. Never stop trying to make this world a more peaceful and happy place – even if it’s just in your little corner. Smile at a stranger. Pull a “Pay it Forward” move in the coffee line. Volunteer in the middle of the summer, when you may have to give up a day at the beach to do so. Foster a dog.

I’d love to hear your ideas for making the world a more peaceful place. What have you done, or will you do, to shine a little light in 2015? Wishing you all a blessed and peaceful New Year.

 

Photo by Francesco; used under Creative Commons license.

Still Time To Register! Xconomy Forum: Tech Agenda 2015

I’m excited to be moderating a panel tomorrow at Xconomy’s Forum: Tech Agenda 2015. I’ll be speaking with Ellen M. Brezniak, Senior Vice President of Customer Operations at Constant Contact, and Jennifer Lum, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Adelphic Mobile, on “Marketing in the Mobile Era: What Changes, What Doesn’t.” 

While we have quite a timely topic to discuss, there are plenty of other great speakers. From ecommerce to cloud computing, to hackers, robots and drones, to 2015 predictions, the day is sure to be energetic and informative. Join some of Boston’s smartest investors, entrepreneurs, business owners and journalists. The event begins at 12:30 and – bonus – you can take $100 off with discount code “XconFriend.” The full agenda is here, and registration is here.

Hope to see you there!