Archive for October, 2014

Never Underestimate the Importance of Customer Satisfaction

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Customer satisfaction is essential to any company’s growth. When you meet or exceed a customer’s expectations, they can do wondrous things for your reputation and even give you free advertising by recommending you to others. However, if you fail to meet their expectations, you’ll likely never see them again. In fact, they might even complain about their experience on public forums, such as social media.

The value of customer satisfaction

According to Bain & Company, it costs 6 to 7 times more to find a new customer than to keep an existing one. Holding on to old customers and building customer loyalty gives you the chance to improve the bottom line drastically compared to a mindset that focuses exclusively on finding new customers.

Satisfied customers can also be fantastic brand advertisers. In the age of digital media, both complaints and compliments can go viral. A customer who takes to Twitter to speak about a poor customer experience can influence untold numbers of people who are debating whether or not to use your company. Fortunately, the same can be said for those who leave positive reviews.

Individuals who feel satisfied with the customer experience are more likely to tell friends, family, and associates about their positive experience. Since people take reviews from those they trust far more seriously than advertising, the value of customer satisfaction cannot be underestimated.

Keeping your customers happy

Customer service entails more than just what happens when a buyer makes a purchase. It encompasses their entire experience and interaction with your company. With that in mind, here are some pointers to consider:

  • Keep your employees happy. They’re the face of your company. When they’re happy, they’ll make your customers happy, too.
  • Undersell and over deliver. For example, if you tell a customer you’ll call them back by the end of the business day with a suggestion, try to call them back before lunch with two suggestions. Instill this same attitude in your team.
  • Work to ensure customers experience helpfulness at every stage. Make sure your website is helpful and easy to use. Train customer service reps to focus on solving problems, rather than just selling. And don’t forget about customers after the sale. Instead, focus on helping them get the most from your product or service.

When customers find their expectations have been met or exceeded, they’ll often share those experiences with friends, family, and followers on social media. Make customer satisfaction a focus of your organization to help improve the bottom line and make the entire experience more enjoyable for everyone.

Date: 31st October, 2014 | Under: Marketing | No Comments

Maximizing Your Use of 4 Top Social Media Platforms

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If you don’t use social media personally, it can seem difficult to understand why it’s such an important aspect of digital marketing. You might be tempted to think, “Well, Facebook is the biggest of the social media platforms, so maybe I should just post everything on there in the hopes of reaching the most people.” What you need to realize, however, is that social media is not just a publication service. It’s a community.

While there is overlap, different platforms are known for attracting different people and different types of conversation. You’re not going to have much luck unless you understand the crowd each one attracts. Here’s a quick breakdown of the top four social sites — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ — to help you get a feel for each platform and how to connect with customers on them.

Facebook
Facebook is easily the largest platform with an estimated 1.3 billion users. The site is known for being the perfect place for users to develop their individuality. You can use images, text, videos, and just about anything else you can think of. Generally keep your posts under 250 characters to keep your customers’ attention, and don’t be afraid to ask questions of your page visitors. This is the platform for making your brand seem full of personality and connecting with customers.

Twitter
Think of Twitter as a large, global conversation. There are an estimated 645 million users around the world, and the site has made the news multiple times for helping to start large social movements. It can also help your business.

Generally, you want to start your posts (tweets) early in the day and post frequently (just like a conversation). What’s challenging about Twitter is that your posts should be only 115-120 characters long (which makes it easier for others to ‘retweet’ you). Twitter is also known for the popularity of the #hashtag. Hashtags help to make your posts searchable, while connecting you with your audience. You should alternate between text-based tweets and occasional photos.

LinkedIn
This site is the more professional of the social pages. There are about 300 million users, and most of them are there for professional networking and business information. This trend is reflected in the best posting practices. Posts made before 8am and after 6pm tend to fare better than those made during the day (when most users are at work). They should also typically concern business topics. Your business page and posts should all reflect the more professional aspect of this site.

Google+
Google+ also has about 300 million users, but Google+ offers the added benefit of being connected to Google, which helps make it fantastic for local search SEO. Google likes businesses to use Google+ and has combined it with the old Google business pages. Take some time to build up your profile and cultivate reviews. This can help boost your local search results and make your business seem very appealing when it shows up on a search results page.

Content posted to this site should also be diversified between images, videos, fun content, and educational content. In terms of seriousness, Google+ tends to fall somewhere between Facebook and LinkedIn, making it a good place to connect with professional and casual users.

Social media has a considerable amount of potential in what it can offer your company. It’s a great place to connect with people and show them everything your business has to offer. Knowing the crowds who tend to gather on each platform will help you considerably as you set out to use each to its fullest potential.

Date: 26th October, 2014 | Under: Marketing | No Comments

Finding Your Position on the Field

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The 2002 movie The Rookie focuses on Jim Morris, a high school science teacher who managed to play major league baseball long after what most athletes would consider their prime. It’s an entertaining feature and stays impressively close to the real-life story of Morris, who pitched in the major leagues from 1999 to 2000.

The audience learns at the opening of the movie that this father and high school science teacher had always loved the game of baseball. He had excelled at it during his youth, but due to various circumstances, he had to give it up before be was able to play in the big leagues.

While coaching his high school baseball team, Morris makes a bet with his team that if they can win their championship, he will try out once again for a professional team. During tryouts, he manages to amaze everyone with a fastball that falls just shy of 100 mph. This paves the way for his triumphs.

The Rookie is definitely a “feel good” movie. It’s the type of film that motivates viewers to go out and follow their own dreams, too. In addition to lifting the audience’s spirits, however, there’s a very poignant business lesson that every entrepreneur and growing business should pay attention to.

If you have the talent, there is a place for you at the table.

The digital era has made it possible for just about anyone to start a business. This has led to considerable saturation and heavy competition. It has also resulted in specialization and businesses that are able to target very specific niches.

For a new entrepreneur just beginning a new business, this can seem considerably intimidating. How does one succeed in business when there seem to be too many companies within the industry already? It’s entirely possible, provided you have the skills necessary and are ready to put in the work.

When Morris decided to pursue his dream of playing in the major leagues, he had enormous odds against him. For starters, he was significantly older than most of the other young men trying out. While they were coming to the game fresh out of high school or college, he had not played competitively himself in years. There were also numerous talented pitchers at the tryout and throughout the league. Despite these potential roadblocks, Morris had confidence that he deserved a position on the team, and he went out to earn that place. He was able to show the coaches that of all the talented pitchers available, he had something special to offer.

As a business professional, you must do the same thing. If you know you have the talent to run your business well, then focus on showing others what makes you so fantastic. There’s no industry so saturated that a talented and strategic business professional cannot become a leader. The key to success is working hard, showing determination, and having confidence in your ability. It might be hard to break into an industry that already has ample talent, but when you have the perseverance necessary, it is possible.

For those interested in starting their own business, the digital era has been a blessing. Unfortunately, the sheer volume of existing online companies can also seem intimidating. Take some inspiration from Jim Morris of The Rookie, and remember that talent and hard work can make it possible for anyone to become a leader in any industry. If you’re ready to start advertising your business, contact us today.

Date: 21st October, 2014 | Under: Marketing | No Comments

Keeping the Ship Afloat . . . In Business

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We’ve all heard the expression “keeping the ship afloat.” Anyone who has ever spent time on an actual ship knows that keeping a boat afloat and getting it to the intended destination is no easy task. Ships of all sizes require a considerable amount of work from everyone on board, and we in business can learn a great deal from these professionals when it comes to keeping our own companies running and moving in the right direction.

The importance of clear leadership

Ships are not democracies. A captain always leads the ship’s crew and directs activities on board. Captains have considerable experience sailing ships and know what needs to be done to make the trip a success. Their ability to see the larger picture lets them direct their subordinates. They don’t waffle in making decisions and have confidence in their abilities.

Like any good leader, however, a captain also willingly listen. Captains will take advice from their advisers in certain situations, and then balance the advice against their own experience. A good captain is able to take all of these sources of information and synthesize them to come up with the best possible solution.

As a business leader, you must be willing to do the same. Strong leaders unabashedly listen to those around them while also using their own experience and wisdom to make decisions for the benefit of the company. They don’t shy away from making firm decisions, nor are they so concerned for their own power that they neglect to listen to what others have to offer.

Dedicated workers

Ships have always required dedicated crews to keep them afloat. The ships of old required crews of men who would paddle the ship or control the sails to keep the boat moving. Crews today might man the sails or the engine rooms. No matter where the crew is working, however, they have to be prepared to give the boat 100 percent.

The employees you select for your business must also be fully dedicated to your company. You should be able to trust that their skills and experience will help them move the organization forward. Running an efficient business means not having to look over everyone’s shoulders, but instead establishing goals and having your employees work to meet you there.

Choosing a direction and sticking with it

When sailing a ship, the boat has a concrete destination. The captain and crew might have to adjust their route slightly if a storm comes up or another obstacle crosses their path, but they always know where they’re going and how they plan to get there.

Your business must have the same foresight. Successful organizations don’t set vague goals for success. Instead, they lay out concrete, measurable goals they want to achieve. When the goals of the organization are clearly laid out in front of everyone, it’s much easier for each person to know exactly what they’re supposed to do and how that fits in the broader picture.

Keeping a ship — or business — afloat requires strong leadership, a dedicated staff, and concrete goals. When you manage to keep these three ingredients in mind for your company, you’ll be well on your way to success.

Date: 17th October, 2014 | Under: Marketing, Tips & Tricks | No Comments

Business Lessons From the Wizard of Oz

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The Wizard of Oz is an exciting tale that has delighted people for several generations. When young Dorothy is magically transported from her home to the magical land of Oz, she and her companions must outsmart witches and other dangers in an effort to find the famed Wizard of Oz, who they believe can help her find her way home and grant her companions gifts of their own. Upon finally finding the wizard, however, they learn that he is not some great and powerful wizard after all. Instead, he’s just an ordinary man behind a curtain, projecting his voice and image to appear to be a magical being. Still, in the end, Dorothy does learn how to get back home.

The Wizard of Oz and Business

There are two key lessons we as business leaders can learn from the wizard. In one situation, he’s an excellent example of what we should do. In the other, he does the exact opposite of what would be appropriate in the business world.

What the wizard gets right

In Oz, the wizard regularly projects his voice and opinions for all the kingdom to see. He providers personalized information for each person who visits him.

In social media, we’re often asked to be like the man behind the curtain. We must project our voice and opinions in a variety of media, communicating a sense of authority and wisdom. With all the demands of the modern business world, it can be tempting to resort to automation. There are a number of ‘tricks and cheats’ available in the social media world. From programming social responses to buying followers to automating tweets, it’s very easy for those who desire it to completely remove themselves from the actual social media process.

If we’re to learn anything from the mysterious wizard, however, it’s important to remember to always have an actual person ‘behind the curtain.’ This will allow us to engage potential leads when they arise and avoid missing opportunities to bring in new customers, which can easily happen if all our responses happen automatically and we aren’t actually monitoring the conversation.

What the wizard gets wrong

Although it’s important to remain actually present behind all our social media campaigns, we also need to be authentic. The wizard made the devastating mistake of casting himself as something he wasn’t: a powerful wizard. When those who actually needed his help (like Dorothy and her companions) turned to him, he was virtually powerless to help. If we cast ourselves as something we’re not, nothing will destroy our reputation faster than our customers realizing it. We must always be realistic about our capabilities and strengths. Play up what you can do for customers and be confident in your abilities, but don’t ever let yourself get caught in a web of lies.

What to take away

Social marketing is an important part of branding and finding new customers. It requires authenticity. That means broadcasting a solid message based on what you can do for customers and always keeping a person involved with every stage of the campaign to communicate with customers. When you stick to these two rules, you’ll have a great chance of success.

Are you ready to get a new campaign started? Come talk to us! We’d be happy to help you get started.

Date: 10th October, 2014 | Under: Marketing, Tips & Tricks | No Comments

Are You Using Keywords Correctly

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When it comes to search engine optimization, few topics are as popular as the use of keywords. To hear some people describe it, keywords are the secret to success; if you just use specific keywords in your text enough, people will flock to your website. But think about the last time you read something that was clearly “keyword stuffed.” It probably sounded awkward, unnatural, and a bit forced, didn’t it? You probably didn’t take the information or the website too seriously. Fortunately, it is possible to use keywords effectively to entice visitors, give them confidence they’ve found a good source of information, and still sound completely natural.

Selecting the keywords

When choosing keywords, think about the words customers are commonly searching for online. Monitor the number of searches that are done for different keywords, and then choose a few you’d like to target. These should be keywords directly related to your business, so you can use them naturally throughout your website and blog.

When selecting keywords, make the subtle distinction between keywords you and other professionals in your industry are likely to use and those your customers are likely to use. Your keywords won’t do you any good if your site ends up just attracting competitors. They’re not looking to buy from you! You want to use language and keywords that reflect your customers’ priorities and their language. This will ensure you bring the right people to your site. This is also helpful for selecting vocabulary words to use on all your marketing materials, including your outbound direct mail and newspaper advertisements.

Using the keywords appropriately

Make sure you use the keywords a few times in content. This will let your visitor know they’ve found a page with the information they were looking for. If done naturally, using the keywords in the opening paragraph can be a good practice for this reason.

Don’t use your keywords excessively, though. Generally, aim to keep the keywords in mind when you write, and use them whenever the opportunity naturally arises rather than assigning yourself the task of fitting them in as often as possible. Using this system will help you improve the flow of your writing and make it sound much more compelling and natural, rather than a trap designed to bring visitors to your website.

The reason blogging and keeping your website up-to-date are so fantastic for marketing is that both of these practices allow you to naturally incorporate keywords into your content. Keywords should be thought of as subjects that you want to write about. They’re terms your potential customers are searching for because they’re interested in learning more. Be the source of information for them, so they will turn to you as a source of authority.

Keywords can be very helpful in developing websites to attract and retain visitors. Capitalizing on their value, however, requires understanding what customers and search engines are and aren’t looking for. Keeping these guidelines in mind should help you use your keywords to your advantage. If you’re ready to take your marketing campaign to the next level, let us know. We’d be happy to help get you started!

Date: 8th October, 2014 | Under: Tips & Tricks | No Comments

Building a Championship Team at Work

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Postseason baseball is in full swing. After six months and 162 games, only a handful of teams have earned a chance at becoming World Series champions.

Putting together a championship-quality roster is no easy task. Tryouts, trades, drafts, and injuries all play a part in the process. Teams must find the right mix of players who can bat, pitch, and field. Just as importantly, though, they must consider team chemistry, too. Is everyone playing together? Are internal rivalries or personality clashes going to get in the way of a cohesive unit? Can those clashes be overcome for the sake of success? In the end, it often takes experience to get it just right.

What businesses can learn from baseball

When you set out to select members for your own professional team — your business — you must give it as much thought as a baseball coach and general manager. Sure, you should carefully review resumes and interview candidates, but in doing so, try to avoid the temptation to simply fill a role, rather than building a team.

When you fail to evaluate a candidate for their ability to fit in with your company culture and ascribe to your company mission, it’s easy to lose your internal values. This can in turn damage employee morale and employee loyalty. When everyone is concerned with just completing a job, rather than working together as a team, people don’t feel as connected to their workplace.

Why this is dangerous

According to Bain & Company, it’s 6-7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to keep an old one. Building a successful business should be focused around delighting your customers, giving them reasons to return, and encouraging them to recommend you to others. Your employees are the ones who interact with these customers every day. They’re the face of the company. When you don’t take the time to develop a strong company culture that encourages employee satisfaction and a positive work environment, you end up putting up a huge roadblock for customer satisfaction.

Choosing your team

Work with your current team to develop lists of values and priorities that keep your workplace cohesive and productive. When you’re ready to make a new hire, carefully consider how the person will fit in with the rest of the organization. This will include asking them questions that relate to these specific values.

Consider having candidates speak with multiple people at the company or try performing some of the basic tasks they would do if they were hired. The better you can choose your employees, the better you’ll be at building an organization that works as a team and serves your customers with a united front. Have faith and trust in your organization, empowering your employees and making it an overall fantastic place to work and grow.

While many organizations realize their customer service will have an enormous impact on their success, they don’t realize that something as intrinsic as their hiring practices can have such a big impact. Give your company a leg up and complement your marketing efforts with a superior, service-oriented company. Get started by making sure each hire you make will be a great fit for your team. You may be surprised how much it pays off.

Date: 5th October, 2014 | Under: Tips & Tricks | No Comments

Do You Know Who You’re Talking To?

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When you sit down to develop marketing materials, you know you’re trying to reach potential customers. If you’re unclear who that might be, however, you could find yourself wasting time, energy, and money. Taking the time to develop your official ‘buyer persona’ can make the task of figuring out how to reach these potential customers significantly easier.

What is a buyer persona?

A buyer persona is basically your ideal customer. It’s a profile you develop based on the type of customer you’re trying to attract. This profile includes information about gender, lifestyle, income level, where your ideal customers work, and what jobs they perform. It also contains critical information about what types of problems they face at work and how your company can solve them. A buyer persona might look something like this:

Marketing Mike is working to lead his marketing team for his small business. He’s in his late 20s or early 30s and makes about $80,000 a year. Mike is struggling to make his superiors realize the importance of marketing because they’re threatening budget cuts to his department.

For a company that focuses on helping clients maximize their marketing efforts while minimizing costs, this buyer persona could provide the critical insight they need to reach Mike and help solve his problem.

How do you develop your buyer personas?

Buyer personas provide the basis for all your marketing efforts, so it’s critical to develop them on solid evidence and not just who you ‘think’ would be interested in your product or service. Begin by speaking with your existing customers. Get a feel for who they are and what has brought them to you. Complement this information with some research about the industry, the market, and who is typically using services like those you provide.

As you begin to compile these different sources of information, you should start to see some patterns develop. Use these patterns to begin grouping customers into a few different buyer personas. It’s critical that you always seek to learn the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’ as you do your research. It’s not enough to know that Marketing Mike wants to find a more affordable way to market. Understanding the motivation behind his drive is what will help you effectively reach him.

How to use your buyer personas

Once you’ve established your buyer personas, they’ll run your marketing campaign. You’ll develop content that speaks to the questions and problems your personas are facing. You’ll create promotions and attention-grabbers oriented toward these specific people.

Buyer personas give you the additional edge of a targeted approach. No company can be everything for everyone. By developing buyer personas, you’ll know exactly who you’re trying to reach. You’ll have a clear goal and a much better chance of reaching the people who are most likely to buy from you.

A successful marketing campaign means reaching your potential customers and making your company’s value to them clear. That task becomes much easier when you know exactly who you’re talking to. Develop your buyer personas to refine your marketing strategy, and you’ll find your chances for a successful campaign improve drastically. If you’re ready to start refining your marketing strategy, contact us today.

Date: 5th October, 2014 | Under: Marketing | No Comments


 

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