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Excellence in Marketing and Customer Experience

29 Nov

customerservice

I was in San Francisco a few weeks ago and saw something on my hotel receipt that got me thinking about the true definition of excellence in marketing and customer service.

The bottom of the receipt simply asked, “How was your stay?” It continued with, “If you cannot rate your visit as excellent, please let us know.” A generic customer service email followed, along with the general manager’s name.

I thought about my stay. It was fine. The hotel met expectations with a clean room, an okay view, decent restaurant and lounge, and respectable meeting rooms. But it wasn’t excellent—it was fine.

Webster’s says excellence is a talent or quality that’s unusually good and surpasses ordinary standards. Other sources define it as superior, remarkably good or possessing outstanding quality.

To me, excellence is something special. It’s when you exceed my expectations by a significant amount. It’s when a product, service or customer experience is good enough for me to talk about with my friends, family and colleagues.

I wondered what it would’ve taken for me to rate my hotel stay as excellent. What could they have done to elevate my experience from fine to excellent? How could they have exceeded my expectations to ensure I told my friends so they stayed there, too, on their next trip to San Francisco?

Then, I turned the table and asked myself the same: What could ER and the building materials industry do to ensure an excellent customer experience? Would we have the guts to ask that question on every invoice or receipt? Are we brave enough to ask that question at every customer touchpoint?

My sense is if we received a negative response from a customer, most of us would take steps to fix the problem right away. But I wonder how many of us would act with the same urgency if a customer said their experience doing business with us was just “fine.”

“Fine” is a C grade on a college term paper. “Fine” doesn’t get people talking about our business. “Fine” is quickly forgotten.

Are you brave enough to ask customers at each touchpoint about their experience? Will you act with urgency if feedback reveals you’re perceived as ordinary? And, most importantly, how can you elevate your customer experience from one that’s fine to one that’s excellent and gets people talking about your business?

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Our Take From Cleveland: #CMWorld Day Two

9 Sep

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Corey and Kate spent two days at #CMWorld in Cleveland. This is the second of two posts sharing their quick takeaways from the event. If you haven’t seen the first, check it out

Our second and final day at #CMWorld. And, like day one, it was a whirlwind of fresh ideas, new friends and awesome swag. (No stress balls!)

Airborne to KC, we’re chatting about what stood out on our final day. Here’s what comes to mind.

First, a stat: For every $5 spent on content creation, marketers are spending just a buck on distribution.

Does that surprise you? It sure caught our eye. Seems like we should be investing more than four quarters to maximize ROI.

Day two gave Corey the opportunity to talk with Jeff Julian on the Enterprise Marketer podcast.

Jeff and Corey chatted about the efficiency of content being pushed through digital channels, rather than dictated by SEO. They also talked about Google updates and how the company continues to show it’s learning context, which is yielding better content as a whole.

We’ll be sure to share Corey’s interview once it’s live. So, stay tuned.

It’s easy to leave a conference like this brimming with new ideas but unsure where to start. Fortunately, Thursday’s opening panel gave some encouraging words on how to take your content strategy to the next level. Here’s a hint: start.

Stephanie Losee with Visa, fresh from Rio for the Olympics, said it just takes one piece of content to begin. Not a launch party. Not a seven-figure budget. Just one piece of content from one SME conversation.

In the same vein, Jenifer Walsh with GE reminded us that content strategy is a marathon, not a sprint. And, that it takes time to build content traction. So, take a deep breath. You don’t have to have a community of a thousand followers on day one.

Finally, Raj Munusamy with Schneider Electric, told us the mind digests visual content six times faster than text. Six times.

What we heard: Goodbye 10-page white papers. Helloooo visual content that wows! (Apparently we should be drawing you a picture, not writing this post.)

So there you have it. Our initial take on two days of all content all the time.

Would we go again? Absolutely. Would Corey remember Cleveland is hot and humid? No doubt. Would Kate pack less? For sure. (Okay, that’s a lie.)

Keep an eye out for future posts from us. In the coming weeks, we’ll share more in-depth learnings from the show.

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Our Take From Cleveland: #CMWorld Day One

8 Sep

 

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Our #CMWorld day one is done. And, these two first-timers are energized by the networking, excited to leverage what we’ve learned, and, okay, maybe just a little tired.

Here’s what’s caught Corey and Kate’s attention in Cleveland.

First, content marketers as a whole are working more from assumptions than fact.

Consider:

  • 57 percent of B2B marketers say they use audience personas
  • However, a mere 20 percent of audiences being reached have the info and means to purchase

Eighty percent of those receiving marketing messages don’t have the interest or resources to make a buying decision. The takeaway is clear: Relying on assumptions is wasting time and our clients’ money. The importance of research can’t be overstated.

Next, a consistent theme heard across the show is marketers are great at providing clients with solutions … but maybe not-so-great at listening to clients’ problems.

Ian Altman summed it up in his session on how content can accelerate sales: If your product or service doesn’t solve the client’s problem, they don’t care about your features and benefits.

Ardath Albee stressed the importance of understanding client challenges. She said our solutions must meet audiences and their problems along every step of the buyer’s journey.

Seems like a good time to step back and ask: Are we truly addressing clients’ needs or are we just telling them what we think they want to hear?

Additionally, Jeff Julian and Andrea Fryrear delivered a strong message about not thinking about content as campaigns. They stressed failing and winning fast, and using learnings to guide strategy, instead of spending time and money on one-time campaigns.

Finally, Rick Wion shared lessons on transparency and trust from his time at Kellogg’s and McDonald’s. Wion referenced Al Golin’s Trust or Consequences book and reminded us that building trust is like insurance for future issues. Because we all know at some point, there will be an issue.

We’ll close this blog with a fun fact learned today: DYK there’s a McDonald’s employee responsible for tasting eight hamburgers an hour, for eight hours a day, five days a week? That’s a quality control job we’d like to have! And, no, his name is not “Big Mac.”

Bring it on, day two.

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Take Your B2B Offense Up A Notch

8 Jul

How to Create Effective Presentations and Repurpose Content

Home Run

I am a big Kansas City Royals fan, and I love the game of baseball. The other day while I was watching a game, I realized just what it was that made the Royals such a relentless team. Although it may be better known for its defense, the Royals are also known for keeping the line moving on offense and putting the ball in play. This had me thinking about how the approach to putting out content can be very similar in strategy.

Today’s B2B marketers are faced with an increasing amount of presentations and content that they have to create in order to match the efforts of competitors. In fact, 76% of marketers will produce more content in 2016 than they did in 2015. With such a high rate of content being produced, your audience is looking for digestible content that will hook their interest and keep them engaged throughout your presentation and their experience with your brand. In this post, I will explore how keeping it simple, having a direct call to action, and repurposing content can enhance your marketing strategies and make you an all-around smarter B2B baserunner.

Getting On Base:

Whether it’s by bunting, hitting a single, or simply being selective with pitches and getting walked, the most important thing is to get on base. Simplifying your message is one of the best practices when presenting, and is sure to get you out of the batter’s box and on to the bag. You want to avoid overwhelming your audience with too much information on one slide. Keep your points direct and simple, allowing only a one point or two per slide to stay on message. This is key because your audience will process information in an organized sequence that will help them to understand your most important points. In fact, during his presentation for the iPhone, Steve Jobs only used 19 words in 12 slides, resulting in one of the most memorable and effective sales presentations, landing him in the metaphorical presenter Hall of Fame. While it is proven that visuals increase retention levels, visuals should only be used to illustrate a point and not just to fill space. It is okay to leave some whitespace, as you do not want to distract your audience from the message’s main takeaway.

Stealing Second:

Any good baserunner will tell you that reading the signs is crucial. Reading your audience is as important as timing the pitcher’s throw to home, and with the average attention span being only 8.25 seconds, you have only a short window to hook their attention. The best way to keep your audience engaged is to end each presentation with a clear call to action. Implementing a strategic ending is crucial and your strategy should adjust to get your audience engaged with your brand. For example, on a webinar I gave recently, I used the last slide of the presentation, which would normally consist of a thank you message, to advertise one of ER Marketing’s whitepapers with information on how to download it. This slide was effective because it stayed on the screen throughout our entire Q&A portion of the presentation, and converted a lot of attendees into people who downloaded and subscribed to our content. By using this slide as a direct CTA, we took a usually worthless slide and converted it to a runner in scoring position.

Taking Third:

Not every piece of content needs to take you from first to third; in fact, in most cases your past content already has you half way there. Since the need to constantly keep turning out content to keep your audience engaged is rapidly increasing, consider modifying and recycling some of the content you used in your presentation. This will add value to your marketing and further drive home your message. Repurposing your presentation can be something as simple as taking information from your presentation to create a more in-depth whitepaper or using video during the presentation to upload short highlights for your company’s website. You can also repurpose titles and headers from your presentation for Twitter posts with links to a related blog your company has written in the past. The combinations are endless.

The Home Stretch:

Home plate is in sight and you’re getting a good lead down the line, but don’t forget to take into consideration whether or not you will need to go back to tag third. When repurposing content, not only is it important to consider the medium that you want to use, but it is also important to recognize that content needs to be optimized for mobile viewing. According to KCPB, mobile digital media time is now greater than time spent on a desktop. It was also found that more people are viewing email on mobile. It is clear that mobile can no longer be treated as a separate channel, because most of your audience will be interacting with your content through mobile digital experience. Keeping a consistent experience with your content on both mobile and desktop will get you sliding into home safely.

While content and presentation curation may seem daunting, just remember to keep it simple and direct in order to drive home your messaging. As George Brett said, “When you get in that situation you simplify the approach…you play as hard as you can, win a game and come back to play another game.”

For your next presentation or webinar turn to these content tips, or visit ermarketing.net.

 

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Concoct the Perfect Recipe for B2B Personalization

21 Jun

B2B Buyers Seek Personalization Efforts

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It is no secret that personalization is essential when marketing to B2C buyers. In fact, according to a recent article, 80% of marketers believe personalized content is more effective. So then why is there a lack of personalization within B2B marketing? This is something that those in highly personal industries (like building products) must especially consider. One of the biggest challenges facing B2B personalized marketing is that there is no perfect recipe consisting of equal parts strategy, data, and technology usage. But as someone who knows a thing or two about making concoctions, here’s one that virtually any B2B marketer can use:

Take 1/3 Parts Strategy…

It is important to keep in mind that B2B buyers have different needs and desires than that of B2C buyers, and therefore they need to be approached differently. B2B buyers are more understanding as to how the industry works, and they are looking for transparency and recommendations, as well as content that will educate them and solve a problem.

According to an Accenture survey, 54% of B2B buyers want personalization and “personalized recommendations across interactions.” This allows you to establish a relationship with your client before a sale even takes place, creating loyalty amongst clients.

No matter how flashy your marketing ploys may be, they won’t mean anything to a customer if they don’t have a need or desire for it. Knowing your audience and their demographics, purchasing behaviors, motivations, and location can change how you garner content for each client.

Add 1/3 Parts Data…

To help capture useful data and to better understand your target audience, you can create a brief survey for them to fill out. When personalizing content for B2B buyers, including data attributes such as their name, company, and role within their company can be the deciding factor in whether or not your client is initially engaged. This can also be helpful when generating leads or creating a personalized lead-nurture campaign. It can even help you tailor emails to those specific buyers and even include imagery and links that will create a personalized touch.

Mix with 1/3 Parts Technology…

While content and strategy are essential to personalization, so is technology. According to Rapt Media, 94% of B2B buyers say better content technology is crucial to creating personalized content that is measured and optimized. So what does that mean? Technology can be used to simplify your company’s message and can be used across different platforms that relate to your audience. For example, content from whitepapers can be repurposed for short, digestible videos and then the audio from the video can be used to make a podcast for clients who don’t have the time in their day to watch a video.

Shake Well and Serve

Granted, my preferred concoctions usually involve a shaker and a cold glass, but the perfect personalized B2B marketing campaign can taste pretty satisfying. And with a fresh strategy that is geared toward B2B buyers, you can satisfy your customers’ needs while also gaining new revenue and retaining reoccurring revenue. All you need is three ingredients and a shaker.

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