Archive | May 2013

Is it your product, or your entire experience?

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Small business owners and entrepreneurs have all created something; A good, a service, a new supply chain, it could be anything. It is also ‘their baby’, and requires a lot of attention from quite a few different people to tweak it, and make it right. If you are sure that your ‘baby’ is a good one, what else can you do to make it even better? How about questioning your ability to create a remarkable customer experience?

In this increasingly remote, wired, business world, you probably have a system in place that hasn’t been test driven in a while. After all, you are collecting communication points, you are sending them out electronically at regular intervals, you have measurement tools for conversions, up-sells, and regular purchasers, right? But, can these figures be bettered? Can you look at your entire prospect and customer interaction, and make it better?  Are their processes, sometimes obvious, more often hidden that can be bettered? I remember a situation with a small company that had autoi-email system set up for each step of the commitment cycle, and knew they were going out at the right time, but (would you believe), they all contained the same grammar error! While conversions were taking place, they could have been bettered by simply correcting this one mistake: After all, who would trust a company that wrote to its prospects and customers in such a slap-dash way?

While looking at these specific engagements, what about the rest of them, from returned products, to sales calls? Are they all good, or is everything from your business to anyone out there, the dreaded ‘just Spam’? You could do with someone who tests out these communications without your company knowing – the famous fictional ‘Secret Agent’, that reports only to you: A Business brain, sure, but one that doesn’t already know how your company works. One that can approach the company as a prospect, sign up as a customer, receive your product, return it, buy something else, cash in a coupon, in fact – everything. This isn’t for spying on your company, but one that can experience what your company offers with the eyes of a regular new, returning, and committed fan. How are they treated? More importantly, how do they feel about you?

This may sound vague, but how someone is attracted to you is not only a vital piece of the sales process, it is an emption that is hard-wired into the Human experience: If someone likes you, they are more likely to continue spending time with you. This holds true of any human interaction, and today – when communication has become so personal and immediate online – it is expected that you will come over as warm and fuzzy, not prickly and remote.

You can now check every link of the communication chain with everyone in your sales funnel in depth, and find out if anything can be strengthened, or if it needs to be replaced. Your Secret Agent will have the freedom of working outside the company, and report back everything he sees from a new perspective. It needn’t be expensive, it needn’t be quick, but this test-bedding of your engagement systems may show you one very important time-saving technique: Perhaps it’s not your product that needs the tweaking, perhaps it’s your communication. Once you have done this for buy-side engagement, you can do the same for your supply-side. Who knows what goodies that will show you?

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Social media – What exactly do we do? – Part One

Mobile phone - Portable phone Royalty Free Stock Photography

We have all been told that Social Media is important to businesses, but usually the conversation stops there. We have heard the question: “We know Social Media is important, because you keep telling us, but how do we use it?” Here are a few strategies to make the most of your marketing time.

Why would Someone ‘Follow’ you?

 No matter the size of your business, brand awareness and customer loyalty is vital. Online marketing allows you not only an avenue to show your goods and services, it also allows a reader to like, re-tweet, follow, link or make any other positive action that keeps them informed of your business and what you have on offer. The Sales conversation just turned from you selling an idea, to a prospect being involved in what you are doing now, and next. Passively, they are engaging themselves more in your story.

People would follow you, then, if you speak to them. What do they want, and how can you engage them to you?

Maximize your Funnel.

Not only do you have complete strangers engaging themselves with you, you also have prospects that have been in the funnel for a while, and customers that want to keep in touch. Create a value proposition for everyone that keeps them coming back. You now have many distinct messages to offer. Make the most of the precious time people spending with you by creating the message that is right for all prospects and returning customers. This includes customer loyalty rewards that novices can appreciate.

Give Something Away.

Online marketing is a great way to spur interest. You can even offer a free gift that further cements your relationship with the client. This could be a free service, a percentage off the final buy price, an interview – what do people see as advantageous in your initial touches, and how can you make that completely free for them? Sounds like a lot, but it’s only a lot in reward, not in the donating. Even a free online contest to enter that people will want to be a part of counts in this regard. Imagine a weekly contest that gives prospects a look at your business or product, and also furthers their engagement in the hope of winning the big prize. You are rewarding prospects for engaging themselves more deeply with you.

Don’t let your Prospects do the Heavy Lifting.

You can’t expect people to hunt for you online, they have to find you, so make it easy to find and follow you. If you have social media access, ensure that their icons are prominently displayed on your site. Every signature, every piece of collateral, every piece of advertising has to have your continuing access open to prospects. When someone accesses your site thorough social media they are already giving you a ‘maybe’. “Tell me more, but on my timetable.” Well, find out what that timetable is, and give them the chance to talk to you continually, once they have committed to hearing from you. Whichever way your prospect finds you, give them the option of finding out more when they are ready.

When you open a social media account, look at the very first piece of information you can complete that will be visible. Make sure that you cement the relationship by ensuring that your brand, slogan, website URL, and company name are seen as fast as possible. While a viewer is opening a page, their concentration is at its highest – so make sure you fill those first few nanoseconds with vital information that they will retain. Think of your online persona as your brick-and-mortar place of business, and fill the door way with the information that people need once they open the door.

Remember, they are giving you permission to appear on their computer screen at their house, when they are relaxed. Don’t pass up this opportunity to impress them.

In our next part of this strategy, we will discuss what information to impart, and how.