Thursday, July 28, 2011


Last week our guest blogger, Kasey Crabtree, talked about several reasons why B2C businesses should have a Facebook page. While Shamrock is primarily a B2B company, we're also B2C. Actually, every B2B company is a little bit B2C. We're all trying to reach our target customers -- who are -- consumers! We woo them, and, hopefully, begin a long, meaningful relationship with them. Building relationships is the essential reason why Shamrock is on Facebook.

Actually, we're on Facebook for several reasons. First of all, we've got to walk the talk. After all, if we tell our customers to build a Facebook page and make it relevant to their customers, we better have a presence on Facebook, too.  Unlike other marketing tactics (including e-mail marketing, direct mail, and other great tools), Facebook is the best instrument in the marketing tool box to provide immediacy and a personalized response to a question, a remark or a suggestion.

Secondly, Facebook is a place where you can show your stuff so people will "like" you. We've built our Facebook page so that people can get to know us better -- and hopefully, "like" us. How? Well, those who know us well know that we're a big supporter of our community. We enjoy creating, and participating in events that help make our Westlake, Ohio neighborhood a great place to live and work. We plan to use the immediacy of Facebook to invite friends to join us at these events.  And quite soon we'll be starting a promotion Q&A community hosted by Tim Berry, the strategic genius behind our promotional team. Friends will be able to ask Tim a question about their upcoming event, tradeshow or incentive program, and he'll have a qualified answer within a day.

Finally, we're on Facebook because it's good business. It's a more personal way for you to get to know us. How we think, how we work, even how we play. It brings us closer to the people who work and do business with us; but, perhaps they don't know us as well as they might if we were next door neighbors. Facebook allows businesses to not only be more social, but to be "friends" who are there when you need a question answered, or a problem solved.

If you've checked us out on Facebook lately, you've seen that we recently gave our website a complete overhaul ( I'd love your feedback on our new design, and how we present ourselves. Leave your remarks on our Facebook page and I'll quickly respond.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Blog Alert! -- Bob has handed this week's post over to a guest. Kasey Crabtree is our own social media expert, as well as one of our finest sales executives, with extra duties as Shamrock's social media specialist. This year Kasey has the honor of being the City Lead Organizer for Cleveland's Twestival 2011, a one-day Twitter Festival that uses social media for social good.  As a social media maven, Kasey has volunteered some serious social time to The Cleveland Clinic, Malachi House, and Westlake Junior Women's Club. Her Twitter name is @KaseyCrabtree, and she has more than 2800 Twitter followers.

This guest post all started when I sent an email to co-workers at Shamrock about a recent Twitter event I attended. I kind of bragged that the event was picked up on WEWS - TV 5 (you can see the TV spot here:"). Hosted by in conjunction with the Cleveland Indians, this "tweetup event" is basically a big networking/drinking/ eating gathering where everyone shares their Twitter handle and talks about their participation in the world of social media. This is a great way to meet people in person after only interacting with them online.

So now, my default function here is to talk about what's on the horizon for social media marketing. First, the simple stuff. We should all know that each social media platform has a different audience and serves a different purpose. The three most common social media platforms are Facebook (very social but also a great resource for Business-to-Consumer businesses), LinkedIn (strictly business, rather than social), and Twitter (the cocktail party of social media -- a great way to meet people and decide if you want to get to know them better). It's also a good way for businesses to check and see what people are saying about them, and respond in real time.

So, what's new in the social universe? Right now, everyone's talking about Google+. Some are saying it will overtake Facebook. Since this is a post rather than a thesis, I won't over-explain the differences between Google+ and Facebook, except to say that "early adopters" are extolling the virtues of Google+, mainly because it's new, and there are some features, such as setting up circles (of friends, acquaintances, family, etc.), which can make it easier than Facebook to catch up with others. The downside to Google+? So many people have adopted Facebook (more than 750 million), I don't know how many of those people will feel compelled to essentially duplicate their Facebook experience on Google+, which currently has about 18 million users. I'm not among the folks predicting an early demise for Facebook because of Google+. If you'd like to know more about Google+, you can "google" Google+, or check this out:

Finally, if there's just one message I'd like this post to leave you with, it's this: If you are a B2C business, set up a Facebook page. Make it work for you. Post new products and trends. Be a resource for your audience. Become the go-to place for answers relevant to their needs. Drive people from Facebook to your website and your website's blog. Be the resource! Be social (in today's tough market, it's a good way to maintain contact, and build your brand). I have many more ideas. If you'd like to chat, give me a call at 440-250-2243.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


I have an entrepreneur's admiration for Steve Jobs. Despite setbacks, despite illness, he is still among the most vivid and interesting entrepreneurs of our time.

While Shamrock's been around a lot longer than Job(s) (yeah, the pun's intended), I believe that, if he had taken a slightly different path, Jobs could've worked here as an intern, and been a major part of our cultural growth.

I'll even bet you that Steve, once upon a time, read Raving Fans by Blanchard and Bowles. The book, a brilliantly simple story, illustrates how to define a vision, learn what a customer really wants, institute effective systems, and make Raving Fan Service a constant feature in your everyday contact with customers, are the basis for how Shamrock does business.
When Jobs said, in a 1998 Fortune interview, "Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It's not about money. It's about the people you have, how you're led, and how much you get it," he seems to have swallowed Raving Fans, whole. (If you're interested, here are some more outstanding Jobs quotes:

Not unlike the above quote from Jobs, our teams live every day with the ideals of Raving Fans in mind. Shamrock utilizes an internal system that allows us to track how we exceed client expectations, identify areas for improvement and address and prevent problems before they impact our customers.

The foundation of Raving Fans is simple: (1) Decide what you want; (2) Discover what the Customer Wants; (3) Deliver, Plus One (i.e., exceed customer expectations). Jobs, too, would be proud of how we developed innovative technology and wedded it to the concept of Raving Fans.

For example, our company is driven by Baan, the third largest ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system in the world. It's a stable, all-in-one platform of information that replaces the silos of technology (including finance, manufacturing, etc.). Our flagship is a web-based marketing portal that attaches to Baan, which allows customers complete control over their brand, including the capability to initiate print, print on demand, variable printing, as well as order stationary, tweak a promotion or packaging, review warehousing distribution, review items sent out, down to discovering how much was spent on postage -- from one interface system. All this, based on each individual customer's needs, and developed, not by an IT programmer, but with marketing and design expertise.

Shamrock does not use new technology for the sake of just using it. We apply it to help our customers monetize their brand with it – and to make their product or service even better than before.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


A person's management style is driven by time, learning from others and what just feels right.

When I became CEO at Shamrock I had already learned what I thought was my best management style. Then, it was based on books I'd read, people I'd learned from, and people I had talked with. Now, I'm not sure if my management style has a "type", but I thought I'd check Wikipedia (because, if something exists, it will be in Wikipedia).

I searched management styles ( and found the four basics, including Autocratic ("My way, or the highway"), Paternalistic ("Watch how I drive, and learn how I do it"), Democratic ("Business is a two-way street, so we all agree on where the stop signs go"), Laissez-Faire ("You drive your car; I drive mine, and let's hope we arrive in one piece").

Today, I think my management style changes based upon the business situation. But, overall, as a manager, I want what's best for my company, our employees and our customers.  For example, a customer once said to me, "I won't give my business to a company that has an automated receptionist." I know this is a trend that saves companies a lot of time and money, but I listened to this customer, and agreed with her. It just feels right to me that, when someone calls us at Shamrock, they will speak with our Director of First Impressions, a live person who takes an interest in each caller's needs.

I've actually lost count of the number of people who've told me how refreshing it is to get a real, live person on the other end of the telephone when they call Shamrock.

I'm not interested in changing management rules for the sake of change, unless there's a sound reason to do so. For years, when someone made a business call, they got a reassuring voice who helped them get answers to their questions. Why change something that's worked for years?

The longer I manage, the more I believe in a Benevolent Dictator. Far from being feared by staff and customers, a benevolent dictator is driven by success  and passion for what is best for all concerned. It's likely this type of manager is also a person who encourages others to move forward and find their personal success. Let me know what you think makes for a benevolent dictator, and I'll include it in my next post.