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Excellence in Marketing and Customer Experience

29 Nov

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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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The Sweet Reward of Saying Thanks

22 Nov

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During the holiday season, we often jump from Halloween right to Christmas or New Year’s and simply view Thanksgiving as the day we eat too much – and for me, watch the Dallas Cowboys game. (I’m still a Chiefs fan, but when you grow up before cable TV you liked the team you could watch.)

It’s unlikely you start your customer communication with politics or religion. The subjects are too volatile for most businesses to discuss. That’s why, as a business, it seems like Thanksgiving is the one holiday we should focus on.

At our house, every month, we get a box of Cheryl’s Cookies. They usually don’t last long, especially with kids, but they are just cookies. Very good cookies, but still just cookies. Unlike our B2B clients, where customers spend thousands, sometimes millions of dollars, these cookies cost us less than $20 a month.

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We recently received an overnight envelope at our house from Cheryl’s. It clearly  wasn’t our  normal box so I opened it (a highly valued activity at my house). What  did I find? A very simple  message: Thank you. No sales message. Not a coupon for  a repeat order. No offer to upgrade. A  note that simply said, “Thank you.”

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Thankfully, they also sent a small box that included a single cookie.

So what does this have to do with B2B or building materials marketing? It  was a reminder to me that we sometimes forget to simply say “thank you” to  our customers, our clients, our employees or other people we interact with  during our work life.

Why do we overcomplicate the process of simply saying “thank you” during  this time of the year? Is it because we don’t care about our customers? I don’t  think so. Is it because we are a business and businesses aren’t “warm and  fuzzy?” Possibly or have we simply forgotten that regardless of our roles or  interactions, we are still just another human whose plate is too full, whose day  isn’t long enough and who might just be taken for granted? There may be  something to that.

Yes, we are in Business to Business marketing, but we are still people to people and the old adage that you do business with people you know, like and trust remains true.

This year, don’t forget this simple act of a thank you to the people in your life. While trying to cut that single cookie into four equal parts for my family was not easy, we certainly appreciated the message and your employees, co-workers and especially your customers will, too.

So as we start the holiday season, I want to, along with the entire ER Marketing team, say thanks to you – our friends, our suppliers, our employees, our readers and especially our clients.

 

 

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Social Influencers for Every Industry

17 Nov

Try These Tips for Selecting the Right Social Influencer

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Social media influencers can play a critical role in your marketing strategy. Partnering with the right one can give you access to the influencer’s blog and social media channels, and connect you to a precise audience segment that your business otherwise may not be able to reach.

However, there’s a misperception that collaborating with social media influencers is only for consumer brands – fitness, fashion, video games – not B2B industries such as building products.

Partnering with the right social influencer can amplify your message with key audiences – regardless of industry. So how can your business identify the right social influencer? Try these tips:

Ask for Analytics

All major social media sites have robust analytics programs that social influencers can access. Before you commit to an influencer based on their subscriber count, have a conversation about their audience. Serious social influencers regularly review their stats to focus their efforts on top demographics. They know who’s visiting, what they like and how they respond. In the same way you request a report from a TV station before an ad buy, ask for a similar report from a social influencer. Not only will their response show a true mastery of their audience, it also will showcase a business sense that will help reach your target audience.

Look for Consistency

The size of the audience that follows a social influencer is one thing – reach is quite another. For instance, the YouTube view count to subscriber ratio is an important metric that shows the difference between a live marketing channel and one that may be too general. Look for social influencers who maintain a consistent view count for all posts, not influencers who seem to lose their audience and gain it back intermittently.

Find Subject Matter Experts

You’ll find your niche in the world of social influence by looking for people who’ve mastered their craft. Social influencers usually connect their rates to the audience size. If you find someone who’s early in their platform development but knowledgeable about the subject matter, you may be able to secure a discount for their services.

Material on the internet stays forever, so as an early influencer builds their audience, your sponsored content would continue to reach new followers. Subject matter mastery drives new followers to an influencer. In fact, if your brand is somewhat established, you may give a social influencer the boost they need to attract new audience members, which would benefit you both.

B2B or consumer, there’s a social influencer who can help connect you with your audience. The right one will amplify your message with precise audience segments your business otherwise may not be able to reach.

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Live From New York: Marketing Takeaways

15 Nov

Audiences Crave Experiences, Not Just Data

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On a recent NYC trip, I found myself with a few free hours and couldn’t pass the chance to see the “Saturday Night Live” and “Tonight Show” studios and sound stages. I took a behind-the-scenes tour of NBC Studios for a glimpse of how sets are made, talent hits their marks, copy is written, local feeds come in, and lighting is set up.

But the most impactful part of the tour? That was at the end. We had the chance to be the host of our very own late night show. An announcer chosen, as well as a band, camera operators and the control room team.

Not your typical tourist attraction, right?

The segment was shot and within 10 minutes, all participants had an email with a link to their video segment.

The editing was complete, the laugh tracks in place, credits added, the opening and closing graphics inserted. A complete piece with you as the star – all in just ten short minutes.

Soon after, the NBC pages who were our guides asked tour participants to take a two-minute survey. They wanted our feedback on the tour and insight on how the experience may be improved. The process was immediate and easy so nearly everyone agreed to participate.

The tour wrapped in the gift shop where we were handed a small flyer inviting us to connect with NBC Studios on social media. More importantly, we had immediate access to their social channels so we could quickly and easily share with followers our adventures as a late night host.

I left the studio tour with three takeaways product marketers can apply.

  1. Provide experiences – not just facts. Give your audience an experience so the learning is immersive. As building product marketers, how can we make events more interactive? How can we insert trade show experiences that let audiences be part of the event rather than simply observers? NBC could have handed us a fact sheet full of data. Instead, we were able to experience what it’s really like to produce a show.
  1. The need for speed is real. Receiving the edited video of our late night hosting experience in 10 short minutes sealed the deal for me. And, within 30 minutes of leaving 30 Rock, I’d shared that link with my social channels and raved about the tour. I amplified the experience to my followers and it didn’t cost NBC a dime.
  1. Strike while the audience is hot. Asking for immediate feedback rather than days or weeks later, elicited a totally different response than had my excitement or memory of the event faded.

Chances are, creating an experience for your audience doesn’t require a sound stage, lighting or camera operators. So ignore the urge to create one more piece of collateral jam-packed with data.

Instead, invite your audience to participate in an immersive experience that exceeds their expectations, makes them eager to offer immediate feedback and willing to share with friends and followers.

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Recap: KC Search Marketing Conference

8 Nov

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Guest Contributor,
Corey Morris, Director of Digital Marketing

I was recently part of the second annual Kansas City Search Marketing Conference at the Sprint Accelerator. The event was presented by the Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization (SEMPO) Cities program and Bing.

The conference theme was “Better.” There were 12 speakers from across the region, and four sessions that all tied to the theme of doing search marketing better. I was on the organizing committee — after leading last year’s event — and moderated the first session, “Better Ideas, Better Strategies.”

The session was a reminder that it’s no longer possible to do search marketing in a silo. We must have content for organic and paid search. It’s also critical to stay on top of Google’s changes, especially with the staggering number of shifts the company made in 2016.

Matt Lacuesta was part of the panel I moderated, and something he said struck me: “PR people are the OG of link builders.” He shared how all content contributes to SEO, and that it’s important to understand and harness it. Some content examples Matt shared:

  • Collateral and messaging that resonates with prospects
  • A list of common sales objections
  • Customer service pain points
  • Events, sponsorships and community involvement
  • Industry relationships

Craig Paddock is a regular speaker at national search conferences. His presentation was full of insights on understanding performance data and using it to make decisions.

One stat he shared caught my attention: Wordstream is seeing an unbelievable 50 percent click-through rate on the AdWords “click to message” extension, which will soon roll out.

A compelling aspect of his presentation was how data sample sizes factor into decision making. Craig showed data from coin tosses. When comparing the frequency of heads in 20 coin flips, there was a decent range of results. But when expanded to 400 coin flips, the numbers normalized and the data was much more consistent. The example was a strong reminder to ensure we’re not making decisions on too few impressions, clicks and conversions in AdWords. This is especially true when comparing one ad group to another.

Tylor Hermanson presented keyword research for SEO targeting. He believes the Moz Opportunity Score is important because it goes beyond the keyword and monthly search volume. The Moz score considers the opportunity you have to get traffic based on the layout of the search results for that term.

It’s common to do keyword research in a vacuum and not consider the perceived intent of the search engine or the results page beyond the 10 blue organic links.

Including maps, answer boxes, shopping ads, news articles and other content can push down organic listings and hinder opportunities to spark traffic. Users may not see the link, even if it ranks well, if it’s pushed down the page.

In the week leading up to the conference, there were several big updates from Google and Bing. These were good reminders that the pace of search marketing isn’t going to slow any time soon, and the industry as a whole — despite breaking out of silos — isn’t going away.

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