Thursday, January 19, 2017

Trending Technology: Artificial Intelligence In Marketing

It used to be that artificial intelligence was the stuff of sci-fi movies. But with the advent of everyday applications like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, and even the Pokemon Go craze, most of us are
now familiar with the power and the influence of AI technology.

While some fear that AI and bots will replace humans in the workplace, I’m seeing quite the opposite, considering how AI is already starting to impact marketing—for the better. AI in digital marketing lets marketers better create truly personal, relevant connections with engaged customers.

When you consider that the key to successful marketing lies in the ability to deliver the right message, to the right audience, at the right time, using the right channels—then you’ve got to recognize the value of using AI to drive that process. AI, or intuitive computer software, can work to give us smarter searches, more targeted touches, and refined content delivery.

As AI technology becomes more mainstream, it will be used to make sense of data, which is the key to creating customer engagement, fostering sales, driving growth and building a brand. AI will sort through data to answer the questions that we need to better manage our campaigns: Which customers buy a particular product? Which make purchases on their mobile devices? Which customers delete emails? Which click through?

Down the road, many industry experts believe that AI will manage the rote mechanics of marketing, making sense of big data and providing the analytics that we need to make more meaningful customer connections, while leaving the creative content work for us humans.

This is only the beginning. It will be exciting to see where AI takes us.

All the best,
Tim Connor

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Meet Bob DeGarmo!

It’s funny how life can take an unexpected turn that brings you back to a place that’s exactly where you belong. That’s been my story—and my journey—with Shamrock. I spent almost 10 years building a successful sales career at Shamrock. When the opportunity arose in 2011, I left to start my own marketing company in the Bay area. And now, five years later, I’m back at Shamrock in a role that connects me with what I love most in this business: helping people.

I’ve spent more than 30 years in frontline sales. It’s what I’m passionate about: being the best sales person that I can be by meeting and exceeding my customers’ needs. For me, that dedicated client service is my “why.” It’s why I do what I do.

And now as President of Shamrock, I’m able to share the knowledge and perspective that comes from my sales experience. While that is a great benefit to our sales reps, it also translates to a big win for Shamrock customers.

A few years ago I read the book, Start with Why, by Simon Sinek. The book challenged me to rethink my purpose, or my “why”. Once you find that inspiration in your own workplace, you’re perfectly positioned to go on to inspire your colleagues and customers.

I’ve found my “why” with Shamrock and am incredibly energized and motivated to help others discover their own path. My reward is helping sales reps realize their potential and then giving them the tools to drive their success, and that of their customers.

I challenge you to start with why. Here is a link to Sinek’s TED talk to get the wheels moving.   

Wishing you luck & success in the coming year!

Bob DeGarmo    

@BobDeGarmo (Twitter)

Thursday, December 15, 2016

2016: The Year In Giving

The gifts are piled high under our Shamrock Giving Tree. This is an annual event that gives all of us here the opportunity to spread some holiday cheer and help those in need right here in our
community. For me, this tree is a reflection of who are as a Company: Our Shamrock family is incredibly generous.

Tim Berry biking for MS
Looking back at our timeline on Facebook, I was struck by the giving spirit that we embody as an organization: This past year, our team was active in supporting so many causes…cycling to fight
At Our Lady of The Wayside Luncheon
multiple sclerosis, playing kickball to fund children’s cancer research, serving meals at the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, sponsoring programming for adults with developmental disabilities at Our Lady of the Wayside, and much more. 

Giving throughout the year—not only when it’s in season: That’s who we are at Shamrock. I’m humbled to be a part of this team and look forward to continuing that charge in 2017.
Food bank volunteering, Kicking It to fight cancer and Giving to the community under the Giving Tree!

Wishing you and your families a safe and happy holiday!

All The Best,

Tim Connor

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Think. Thank. Act.

This is the time of year when many of us pause to reflect about the people and the blessings in our lives for which we’re most thankful. For me, this process is leading not only to discoveries—it’s also prompting action.

#1. I’m thankful for my health. This month the global Movember Foundation challenged men to grow moustaches to raise awareness about, and funds for, men’s health programs—particularly prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental illness. I’ve gone full-blown no-shave November with a beard and moustache. It’s a great reminder for me to get checked—and to inspire others to do the same.

#2. I’m thankful for our veterans. Last Friday was Veteran’s Day. It made me think a lot about the sacrifices our service men and women make every day to ensure our freedoms. My dad served and my nephew just enlisted. That makes me incredibly proud. And so, I’m making a more conscious effort to thank our military personnel whenever and wherever I see them, whether that’s a simple handshake or picking up a bar tab.

#3. I’m thankful for my family. This past year has been a difficult one for my family in terms of health issues. When you’re faced with losing someone you love, it makes you appreciate and understand how very fragile life is. This year for Thanksgiving, the Connor side of the family—all 25 of us—is heading to North Carolina to celebrate the holiday, and most importantly, each other. 

#4. I’m thankful to have food to eat. In NE Ohio, one in six people is food insecure, meaning they may not know where their next meal will come from. It’s an incredibly sad statistic. As a father, I can’t imagine how it must feel to be unable to feed your family. On December 2nd, our Shamrock team is heading to the Greater Cleveland Food Bank to help serve those in need. If you’d like to donate your time or money, go to

Whatever it is that you’re thankful for in your life, my hope for you is that you share it or use it as the inspiration to make a difference for someone else. Giving is what this wonderful season is all about.

Wishing you and your family a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday!

Tim Connor

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Close The Deal: 5 Ways to Make Your Next Sales Meeting More Productive

Last week my blog focused on tips for running a productive business meeting. As I was writing, my mind naturally transitioned from internal meetings to sales calls: At its core, Shamrock is a sales organization. And because I spent years as a straight-commission sales rep, I have some experience regarding what works to set the stage for a more effective sales meeting. Now, as an executive, this type of structure is what I appreciate when a salesperson calls on me:
  1. Reconfirm the start and end time. This helps to keep the meeting on track and sends the message to your customer that you value his/her time.
  2. Reiterate the reason for the meeting. Are you reviewing an existing order? Planning to introduce a new product or solution? Be specific. And also, be flexible: The client might have more pressing issues that have come up since you scheduled the meeting a week ago; be ready to pivot and redirect to best meet your customer’s needs.
  3. Be Prepared. To maximize meeting productivity, make sure you have all the
    information you need by preparing questions before you get there. 
  4. Ask questions. Set the tone for your meeting by letting your customer know that this isn’t a one-way sales pitch: “I’m sure you’re going to have questions for me—I know l have questions for you.” This is a subliminal way to hint that communication is two-way street. 
  5. Identify next steps. Make a list of actionable items throughout the meeting. Identify what needs to be done to move the sales process along—maybe there are benchmarks that you’ll need to hit to move the process forward. Remember: Not every meeting results in a sale. It could be that there is no future—and that’s ok, too. Either way, you want to know where you stand before you leave the meeting.
Sales is all about serving the customer: Let them be heard—and then really hear what they have to say. The rest is all about following up with quality products/services and personal service. At the end of day, regardless of our industry or market, we all want to work with a sales rep who just gets us—and then gets it done.

Good luck,
Tim Connor

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Stop Wasting Time: 4 Tips for Running an Effective Meeting

Workplace studies show that most of us aren’t fully engaged during work meetings. On average, 91% of us daydream during meetings and a surprising 39% admit to falling asleep. Maybe that’s because we have too many meetings on our calendars: Americans attend an average of 60+ meetings each month; and with half of every meeting flagged as wasted time, that equals 31 unproductive hours per month. That’s a lot of lost time—and money.

But, the fact remains that internal business meetings are essential for gathering people together to share ideas, garner input and solve problems. So, how we do we make meetings more productive? Author, radio host and business guru, Dave Ramsey, offers some advice that I think is worth sharing. Here’s a quick summary of his four pointers for effective meetings:
  1. Set A Time Limit. We’ve all been there: The runaway meeting that goes on and on, taking twice as long as necessary. This is why every meeting requires a set time limit. Then, if the discussion gets off-track, you can remind everyone that time is limited. If an issue isn’t resolved or needs more attention, delegate: Assign someone to work on it and report back. Then, more on.
  2. Stick To An Agenda. Productive meetings require a framework: Set an agenda and send it to all participants in advance so that they can prepare. And then once the meeting begins, stick to it. A set agenda keeps the discussion on-topic and on-task. 
  3. Stand Your Ground. Ramsey says that if team members aren’t picking up verbal cues that a meeting is over, simply stand up. If that doesn’t work, head towards the door. 
  4. Change The Scenery. Spark your team’s creativity by trying different locations for meetings. Move out of the conference room and take it outside or head to the corner coffee shop; set up your brainstorming session in the warehouse or meet in your company lounge. Why not solicit ideas from your team? A change in locale is a great way to mix things up and engage participants, particularly for a regularly scheduled/standing meeting.
Work meetings aren’t going anywhere—they are a necessary part of everyday operations for many of our businesses. Implementing these simple, practical ideas can help you make those sessions more productive, and even, enjoyable.

For sales meetings, the approach is slightly different—next week I’ll share my tips for making the most out of your next sales call. 

Good luck,
Tim Connor

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Boost Your Open Rates: Three Email Marketing Tips

Like a great TV commercial that I actually enjoy viewing over and over again, I’m always impressed by a creative email subject line—one that grabs my attention and makes me click and open. In the marketing business, that’s pure gold: The ability to connect with your audience and prompt the desired response.

Email is a great way to make those connections, while getting the most bang for your marketing buck: Consider that for every $1 spent, email marketing generates $38 in ROI (Campaign Monitor). And when it comes to being a successful email marketer, there are a few very simple rules that can help boost your click-through rates:

1. Optimize for mobile. If your email platform isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re missing the boat. Statistics show that 51% of emails are opened and read on mobile devices—so if your email isn’t formatted for mobile, the reader will likely miss out on important content.

2. Make your subject line sing. No matter how compelling your email content, you’ve got to get them to open it first: 33% of email recipients open email based on subject lines alone (Convince & Convert). And according to recent Campaign Monitor data, a personalized email subject line boosts open rates by 26%.

While researching email subject line development, I came across a great blog post by Danavir Sarria that has some pointers and examples that I found very useful—and I think you will, too. Click on the link below:

The Best Email Subject Lines -

3. Time it right. The day of the week and time of day your email is sent effects open rates. Research from GetResponse shows that Tuesday is the best day of the week to send emails (followed by Thursday and Wednesday); and 10 a.m. is the best time to hit send.

Email marketing isn’t rocket science—but it does require certain nuances, that when considered, can drastically improve your chances of making a brand connection.

Good luck!
Tim Connor