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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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Top 5 B2B Social Media Marketing Myths

26 Jul

iStock_000065451201_Large

Social networking is a large part of most people’s lives. But we don’t always know how to make it a part of our lives as B2B marketers. If you are not on social media or if you are not having strong results, you may have fallen prey to one of these common social media myths.

  1. Social media marketing isn’t for B2B. 

There are social networks that are expressly for B2B communication, such as LinkedIn, SlideShare and, to a lesser extent, Quora. There are also social networks that you should consider just because they are a huge part of most people’s day-to-day lives, such as Facebook and Twitter. Remember that businesses are made up of people; go to the networks your people are most likely to be on and you will find a way to connect.

  1. You need to be on every network.

Joining every social network that comes up will lead to burnt out employees, too much money spent networking and not a lot to show for it. Every network is different and has a different audience. LinkedIn is a place where professionals gather. Quora is a good place to hang out if you have a lot of knowledge to share about your industry. YouTube and Instagram are great for sharing visual content. There are many customers for building materials on Pinterest. Pick two or three networks and work on building out robust presences there. Don’t worry about the rest.

  1. It’s never okay to automate.

Automation can give you a chance to connect with people who you might not otherwise reach. If you have an international customer base, automating a few posts to show up while you are in bed and your prospects are up and at the office or job site can mean access to people you might otherwise miss. Automation can also allow you to keep posting consistent even when you are away from the office or otherwise tied up with other tasks.

  1. Automate everything!

It’s easy to go too far in the other direction. Have you ever posted on Twitter and immediately been hit by an @ message from a Twitter bot triggered by a phrase you used? No one else likes this any more than you do.

  1. Social media marketing doesn’t work.

Every year, hundreds of think pieces come out claiming that social media just isn’t the place for business. The figures prove these people wrong. According to HubSpot, two out of three companies with a presence on LinkedIn have gotten a customer from there. Businesses that use Twitter have twice as many leads as those that don’t. The benefits of a social media presence are measurable and powerful.

Social media marketing success does not come overnight. It can take a while to find your niche and your audience on social media. When you have gotten into the groove, you will find that you have better relationships with customers, a better-known brand and more business by using social media well.

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3 Tips for Using Video to Market Building Materials

21 Jul

Film Industry

Video can be a highly effective element in your digital marketing efforts. Why try to tell your customers about your building products when you can show them? Technology is also driving the trend in video. With more and more customers accessing the web through mobile, video has become increasingly important.

To get the best results, keep these video marketing tips in mind:

  1. Choose the right length for the medium and the customer.
    Videos that are too short may not provide enough information. When videos are too long, there is a risk of prospects getting bored and navigating away before they are finished. Videos intended for prospects new to your brand should be short. Experts say that videos for Facebook should be two to three minutes. On YouTube, you can gain traction with videos anywhere from one to five minutes in length. To reach customers further down the sales funnel, try in-depth videos that thoroughly explain the value and applications of your products
  2. Get to the action quickly.
    You only have seconds to gain prospects’ interest. Instead of starting with a long introduction, consider jumping straight into the action. Begin with an arresting visual or a surprising fact about your product. By drawing people in quickly, you get the chance to keep them watching and convince them to check out your brand.
  3. Use a mix of video types.
    How-to and explainer videos can show your customers how your products perform in the real world. Testimonial videos allow your prospects to hear for themselves what your happy customers have to say about your products and services. Product showcase videos allow your customers to get a better look at what you are offering than they can get with still photos and text descriptions. By including a range of types of content, you can give prospects more of the information that they are looking for.

Video gives you a chance to connect with busy professionals who don’t have the time to read marketing materials or who prefer to get information in an audio/visual format. By adding this type of content to your marketing mix, you can reach a wider array of prospects and show them just how your products can work for them.

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Concoct the Perfect Recipe for B2B Personalization

21 Jun

B2B Buyers Seek Personalization Efforts

B2B_mix

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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Book Review 3: The Fred Factor (Part 2/2)

12 May

4 Steps to Find and Develop “Freds” in Your Organization

fred-factor

I recently wrote a blog post on Mark Sanborn’s book, The Fred Factor. While that post focused on explaining what a Fred is (long story short: a passionate employee who delivers an extraordinary customer/client experience) and how to identify one, this blog post will dig into how you can find and develop Freds within your own organization.
But first, why go to the effort? Quite simply, Freds—the most passionate people in your organization—are different. They do ordinary things extraordinarily well. Not surprisingly, Freds are also generally happier because people doing good work feel good, and people doing exceptional work feel, well, exceptional.

Sanborn uses the acronym FRED to explain how to develop “Freds”:

  • Find: There are three main avenues for finding Freds within and for your organization:
    1. Let Freds find you. If you really want your company to be world-class, it must become the kind of place that attracts Freds. To accomplish that, you must empower the Freds you have so their impact will be felt not only in the work your company does externally, but also in your internal culture.
    2. Discover “Dormant Freds.” There are many employees, also known as Dormant Freds, whose inner Fred has yet to blossom. To find them, watch for people that do things with flair (not to be confused with showing off or trying to attract attention)—an exceptionally well-done project, an elegant client meeting, or a clever suggestion are all possible tip-offs that a Dormant Fred is hiding in plain sight. Here are some questions to ask yourself about a potential Dormant Fred:
      • What do I remember about this person?
      • What’s the most extraordinary thing he or she has ever done?
      • How badly would this person be missed if he or she left his or her current position?
    3. Recruit and hire Freds. When you have exhausted your internal Fred pool, you may have to look externally to find them. Here are some great interview questions to find those prospective Freds:
      • Who are your heroes? Why?
      • Why would anyone do more than necessary?
      • Tell me three things that you think would delight most customers/clients/consumers.
      • What’s the coolest thing that has happened to you as a customer?
      • What is service?
  • Reward – Implement a rewards program to make sure Freds are recognized and appreciated, even if you are only recognizing good intentions and not a good final result. While nobody likes to fail, it is important to encourage employees to take chances. When people feel like their contributions are unappreciated, they will stop trying. And when that happens, innovation dies. My company, ER Marketing, recently implemented an award system in which employees nominate each other for exceptional work and attitude. This is meant to encourage employees who live up to the ER Marketing values of Curiosity, Respect, Accountability, and Performance (yes, we know what that acronym spells) with peer and management-level recognition.
  • Educate – Find examples of “Freds,” (both inside and outside of your organization), analyze those examples for commonalities that others can learn from, teach others to act extraordinary everyday—not just when there is a crisis—and set an example (invite others to act similarly).
  • Demonstrate – Set an example by inspiring, involving, initiating, and improvising. Here are some ways you can set an example and inspire employees to better serve your customers, vendors, and fellow employees better:
    • Inspire, but don’t intimidate.
    • Involve by creating a “Team Fred” of leaders in your organization.
    • Don’t wait for the “right” moment. It will never come—you have to make it.

One final, important thought from the book: Pull, Don’t Push. You can’t command someone to be a Fred. You can’t require someone to practice the Fred Factor. Command-and-control short-circuits the spirit of the Fred Factor, which is about opportunity, not obligation.

Invite people to join you. The most powerful tool you have to spread the Fred Factor throughout your organization is your own behavior—the example of your life and the effect it has on others. The best “Freducators” are themselves Freds. As John Maxwell says, “You teach what you know, you reproduce who you are.”

 

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