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

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

We’re Following Through on Big Ideas

My brother the golf pro will tell you that my swing could use better follow through, which is true. But as a Company, I’m feeling pretty excited about where Shamrock is headed in following our new path. In my July blog I talked about Shamrock’s Commit To Big program—the Big Ideas that we’ve outlined as the guiding principles for our strategic vision. We’ve made strides during the past month, with a committee of people—associates from every layer within Shamrock—that has taken our first commitment and started to define how it will take shape.

The Big Commitment: Become ever more intimate with our valued client base. The ensuing brainstorm surrounding this first idea has created an event that is now in the planning phase: The Shamrock Innovation Summit, which will happen sometime in 2017, will bring together our clients, vendors and Shamrock associates for an idea exchange that will focus on the future of our businesses—and how we can best move forward together.

Our team envisions this Summit as an opportunity for our customers and vendors to showcase their best practices through keynote speakers, moderated guest panels, engaging programming and a social media element.

The idea for us at Shamrock is that while we’ll offer transparencies about how we operate and the services that we provide, we’ll also be able to learn more about our clients and share ideas with our vendors that will strengthen our connections, and also build the brands of all involved.

There’s no time like the present to carve out the time to take a retrospective look at your organization and define your vision—you’ll likely come up with a few big ideas of your own.

Best of luck,
Tim Connor

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

We’re Committed to Something Bigger—and Better.

A few months ago I blogged about Shamrock’s new Commit to Big program—our corporate navigator of sorts, through which our team has committed to working toward “Big Ideas, Big Achievements and Big Results.” The first step in the program was our executive team’s charge to formulate and post its commitments on our wall.

We’ve done that. And as we did so, the exercise proved to be impactful for me: Every year Shamrock develops a corporate theme. But as we sketched out our ideas of what “Big” is—and can be—here at Shamrock, I realized that that these Big ideas are more than themes: They are the principles that guide the Company’s strategic vision. These are the ideologies that we believe in; and they provide a framework by which we must operate in order to function at our very best, for the benefit of our clients, vendors and our people.

Shamrock’s Three Big Commitments:

1. Become ever more intimate with our valued client base. Aspire to get our customers talking. Form deeper relationships. Create true Raving Fans.

2. To make technology the foundation of our products, our services, and our strategy. Leverage technology to add value to traditional products, services and processes.

3. Be a world class, iconic workplace. Recruit and retain top talent. Develop employees professionally as well as holistically.

We’ve rolled out these Big commitments to our entire team, challenging them to identify actionable ways in which we can bring these three commitments to fruition here at Shamrock. In my next post I’ll share the result, leading with Big Idea #1.

This Big discovery process has been, and continues to be, a valuable exercise for us at Shamrock. My hope is that you might glean something from these ideas that strikes a chord within your own organization. Look for that next blog coming soon.

All The Best,
Tim Connor

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Kicking it, Cleveland-style

It’s great to be a Cleveland sports fan. Our Cavs made history this week as NBA Champions and the Indians are leading the AL Central. For those of us who have grown up here, this is the moment we’ve dreamed of. And it’s just as sweet as we’ve always imagined it would be.

Cleveland is the quintessential sports town. Our teams represent the drive, the grit and the determination of hard-working NE Ohioans. Cleveland never gives up.

I can draw that same parallel to Shamrock. As a Company, our culture defines our team’s collective commitment to our customers—but also to this community. In every respect, our people at Shamrock are all in. On June 9, we had the opportunity to give back, while showing the rest of Cleveland that at Shamrock, we’re just as young as we feel.

Cleveland Kicks-It at Progressive Field

Shamrock Team

We assembled a team for Cleveland Kicks-It 2016—a kickball tournament at Progressive Field to benefit children’s cancer research. We finished with an impressive 1-1 record. But not without a few casualties.
  • We lost Dave Fechter to a foot injury (and a Monday morning commute on crutches)
  • Tim Berry was inhibited by back pain before the games even started (his run to 1st base looked more like geriatric speed walking)
  • Jen Barnhart didn’t even make it to 1st base (we have video evidence of the fall)
  • Brian Phillips dove into 3rd and came up 3 ft. short (and then tried to crawl to base)
  • Kelly O’Keefe took out the other team’s intern (nice throw)
  • And I almost blew the second game with 2 missed throws at the end (the pressure got the best of me)

But in true Shamrock style, our team rallied! The highlights included our all-star, Jason Dunn, who got us on the board (it’s amazing what youth brings to the equation); along with our MVP catch from Tom Backus (although he juggled it more than a clown at the circus.)

Shamrock Team at Vita Urbana

Nicole and Jason Dunn

As a team, we excelled in the after-game festivities at Vita Urbana, Scott Popovic’s new place in Battery Park. (@VitaUrbanaCle on twitter and @vitaurbanacleveland on FB) The day was memorable. It was a lot of fun. And mostly, it was humbling to be part of such a heartfelt effort to benefit kids with cancer. It was a great day to celebrate Cleveland’s passion for sports and the love that this community continues to show—regardless of the score. #AllIn

All The Best,

Tim Connor

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Video Marketing: 21 Ways to Tell Your Brand Story

When it comes to quickly and effectively delivering a brand message, there is power in video marketing. According to data from Brightcove, social video generates 1,200% more shares than text and images combined; and video drives a whopping 157% increase in organic traffic from search engines.

Why is video important?

At Shamrock, we see video as an absolute essential for helping our clients tell their stories: Video provides instant brand gratification. And regardless of industry or budget, it’s a channel easily incorporated into your marketing program.

Above all, video is the trend in marketing: It is estimated that 80% of all internet traffic will be video by 2019. (Cisco Visual Networking Index: Forecast and Methodology, 2014-2019 White Paper)

So, how can you put video to work for your brand?

Creating original, compelling, relevant content that makes a brand connection with your audience—that’s the ultimate goal of video marketing. There’s a lot of great ideas for videos that meet that criteria: Roundup The Team—take a camera around the office and have people briefly speak about the latest product introduction or community service project; focus on Live Customer Service—create a montage that captures customer service and support in action; or develop an enticing How We Do It video that shows behind-the-scenes innovation. 

Click the link to access the complete list of Video Marketing Ideas from MarketingProfs: 21 Video Marketing Ideas for Small-Business Budgets

A recent study from Ascend2 found that the most effective video for converting sales leads include these topics:
  • customer testimonials
  • demo videos
  • explainer/tutorial videos
What’s great about these video themes is that the scripts practically write themselves: Capturing a testimonial or demonstrating a product or service are stories that authentically speak to your brand and its benefit to your customers. In other words: You know your brand best, so use that information to tell your story through video. Grab your device and get started.

All The Best,
Tim Connor

Thursday, April 21, 2016

What channel are you watching?

If you’re not paying attention to the influence of millennials, it’s time to sit up and take notice. The latest figures show that millennials are the largest generation in the workforce today at 53.5 million—and will account for 75% of the global workforce by 2025 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Because this demographic will also be responsible for $200 billion in annual spending beginning in 2017 (Animoto), it’s important that, as marketers, we implement strategies to effectively reach this target, whether our businesses are B2B or B2C focused.

We know that millennials are tech-savvy: This is a generation that has grown up in the digital age—which makes a big difference in how we reach them. When it comes to connecting with millennials, video marketing is the single-most effective channel that influences what they buy.

Consider this: Millennials (ages 18 to 36) spend an average of 17.8 hours a day consuming media. And they’re watching more than sophomoric wipeout videos. According to U.S. News & World Report’s “2014 Millennial Report” millennials watch educational videos, seeking “credible information that helps them make important life decisions, especially as it relates to their finances.”

Here’s some powerful data that supports those findings:

  • 80% of millennials consider video content when researching a purchase decision
  • 7 out of 10 millennials are likely to watch a company video when shopping online
  • 76% of millennials follow brands on YouTube
  • 60% of millennials prefer to watch a company video over reading a company newsletter

Click here to view the infographic.

If video marketing isn’t part of your integrated marketing strategy, it should be. With the advent of new technology and multi-function devices, it’s easier now more than ever to incorporate video without spending an arm and a leg.

In my next blog, I’ll take a look at emerging trends in video marketing that will provide some insight about how to further your brand among millennials. Get your mobile devices ready.

All The Best,
Tim Connor

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Let’s get personal.

There’s no such a thing as TMI when it comes to doing business research. Today, we’ve got access to data at our fingertips, and even on our wrists, about everything from market trends and industry performance, to products and services.

But when you’re looking at research from the sales perspective, it becomes a uniquely personal search. A successful salesperson makes a personal connection with his/her customer by doing a little digging, and finding out what makes that customer tick.

Who am I? Where did I go to school? What are my interests? If you don’t know the answers to those questions then you’re not doing your homework. It’s all out there—you just need to take the time to do a little research.

Sales is based on relationships, not merely products and services. Let’s face it: People buy from who they like. It’s a comfort thing. The late author and salesman Zig Ziglar said, “If people like you they will listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.”

So, while I’m not suggesting you creep on your potential customer’s Facebook page, I am saying that a little effort on your part to make a personal connection goes a long way. It helps you better position yourself. And when accompanied with diligent industry and product/service research, it gives you the advantage that can help close the sale.

Good luck,
Tim Connor

Friday, February 26, 2016

We’re on to Something Big.

Most of us work hard to keep our promises and hit our goals. It’s that notion of deliberate follow-through that is the spark behind Shamrock’s new corporate theme: Commit To Big.

As a Company, we’ve framed our charge. We are committed to working toward Big Ideas, Big Achievements and Big Results.  

The act of writing down a promise or goal gives it more validity—and serves as a physical reminder of what you’re working toward. So we’ve created an actual “Commitment Wall” at our Shamrock headquarters in Westlake, as well as a virtual wall that can be accessed by our satellite offices nationwide. This is where we’ll post our promises.

Our Shamrock leadership team is leading with the first few commitments that will set the stage for the program. These high-level goals will impact our departments and employees at every level. My hope is that these are the Big commitments that our entire team will identify with, rally around and support by adding their own ideas about how to bring these goals to fruition.

Commit To Big guides our direction: It’s a movement that reaffirms that at Shamrock, we’re going to do what we say we’re going to do. It all starts with one bold idea or commitment. And I’m excited to see where that takes us.

All The Best,
Tim Connor