Off the Edge : Opinion
Off the Edge is a marketing blog written by Sharon Wilding and Jim Hunt of THE PURPLE EDGE and occasional featured guest authors. It aims to provide thought-provoking and useful content on marketing and business issues. Please feel free to comment on our musings, and if there are subjects you want to discuss further then please get in touch.
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I've avoided talking about social media for a while - for most of our clients it is not the biggest priority to be attended to in their marketing. Nevertheless it is part and parcel of everyday life now.
Only this week we've had a stock market near-crash through a hacker getting into Twitter, a number of people have lost their jobs in the last couple of weeks by making inadvisable comments about Margaret Thatcher, and who could have missed the Paris Brown debacle? A resignation forced by tweets posted a couple of years ago when she was only 14. Powerful tools indeed - clearly not to be taken lightly.
Could it happen to you?
Martyn Young in Canterbury had his own wake up moment recently:
"[A comment was taken] off the Facebook page I started 'Stop the removal of Westgate bus stops in Canterbury'. The politics are unimportant, it is more the issue of being taken out of context. The quote is on page 6 of the Gazette, and relates to a post I did make, but minutes after posted a better idea straight after in the same thread. The quote was in my opinion deliberately chosen as it would have been perceived as an indirect attack on people living in Station Rd West, when it was really trying to start a discussion on future bus routes should St. Peter's St be made inaccessible to buses."
If you post on FB or Twitter had you considered that your comments might be picked up by journalists to support their stories? There was nothing wrong with what Martyn said, but it wasn't his fully-formed opinion, just a snippet of the whole conversation. Although it's hard to see how this can really be avoided it is probably fair to say that most of us are not considering what a journalist might do with our messages (I bet Paris wishes she had thought of that).
All this means I have been forced to view more sympathetically those people I talk to who could use social media to benefit their business but who say they are too scared of getting it wrong.
Too strong? Use the Granny test
Social media is about being sociable but when we relax, possibly acting like we've been down the pub for a few hours, we are not necessarily thinking carefully nor on our best business behaviour. The difference being that your audience down the pub is that much smaller, and even if you generate a bit of gossip it's unlikely to reach the same level of publicity as social networks can.
Social networks are not really just like having personal conversations because they are published. And once something is published publicly you can't unpublish it, it is there for anyone to use - as Martyn found.
Of course the additional problem is that if you sanitise your interactions and comments too much you end up being boring. And who wants to join in a conversation with you then?
If you care about your reputation (and all of you should) then you need to be able to tread carefully in the narrow space between boring and over the top! Whenever you write something on a social network just remember that there is big audience out there and don't put down anything you would be embarrassed for your Grandmother to read!
Sharon Wilding is a Chartered Marketer with many years experience in marketing for businesses large and small. As a lecturer and a practioner she aims to help small businesses use theory in practical ways to improve performance. You can connect with Sharon on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
It's my last blog of the year and I decided to do my bit for the environment by recycling a message from last year! (Unfortunately that statement is less impressive when we're talking electronic messages.)
Most of us are increasing caught up in the e-world with almost everything available virtually. But Christmas is a good time to remember the more tangible stuff of marketing - cards, posters, banners, magazines, leaflets and good-old face to face networking and customer relationships. So as you pack up your businesses for a well-earned break, think about how you can ensure a good mix of traditional and modern in your marketing for the coming year.
You are not your client so don't just go for what is easiest or makes sense to you - what do your customers want/need from you?
I have very much enjoyed the video cards this year but they're all deleted now, as I said last year ...
There's no doubt about it, e-everything has transformed the way we do business. We have email, e-newsletters, ecommerce - and lots of things that don't begin with e but are still electronic: websites, blogs, social media, video, laptops, smartphones, etc.
All these bring enormous benefits in terms of speed, ease of use, ease of reach and cost-effectiveness. But do you ever feel we are losing our sense of balance? Are we in danger of becoming too seduced by the charms of the e-world?
It was Christmas that made me think about this a bit harder. Like many people, in recent years we have turned to emails to send out cheery messages of glad tidings and great joy at Christmas. And we're on the receiving end of a fair few. But are they a good substitute for the traditional, hand-written card? I decided "not in all cases" so this year we took a step back into the dark ages and sent some of our contacts cardboard by snail mail!
Here's my 3 reasons why:
- It's more personal - the email versions are obviously sent as volume mailings, personalised by machine if at all. I like the idea that someone has taken the trouble to write me a card.
- It's more visible - email is fleeting, transient. Seen for seconds and deleted. I love the decorative effect of Christmas cards - having them on display is all part of the fun.
- It's bucking a trend - if everyone else is opting for email then sending a real card stands out and gets you noticed. And I don't really buy the 'better for the environment' argument - if it wasn't cheaper and easier than writing and sending a card most people wouldn't give a Christmas fig about the environment!
Sending greetings by email clearly has a role to play - especially when the message makes best use of the medium, with a animation or game for example. I love email communications. But my thoughts about Christmas cards can also be carried over into our choices about marketing communications for the rest of the year too. Especially when it comes to adding a personal touch and standing out from the crowd.
If you spend a lot of time at a computer, in the e-world, then it is easy to assume everyone else does too. This is a fatal mistake - as we've said before, you are not your client. You need to be aware of the preferences and habits of your target audience. Mixing up your media, integrating the more traditional methods with the new, will give you more opportunities to be seen and get known.
One size does not fit all!
What do you think about sending and receiving cards vs emails? And do you think differently if you're male rather than female? Another factor to consider in your targeting of marketing communications!
This week we’ve taken the younger members of the family off to Centerparcs. I’m a big fan of Centerparcs – ever since we went to one of the pre-launch weeks in Nottingham Forest back in the 80s. We’ve been as singles, married but childfree, with small children and older, and I’ve been on all-girls breaks.
A break at Centerparcs is not cheap but, based on the fact that they get fully booked throughout the holidays, many people believe the price is worth it. And the company is continually innovating, adding new options that persuade customers to dip a little deeper into their pockets.
Unfortunately a marketing brain never switches off and I can’t help analysing everything everywhere I go! Remembering that price is what you pay and value is what you get, our stay this week got me thinking what it is that tips the balance from one to the other.
As a family of six we had already opted out of UK Centerparcs’ prices. Spending £1,000 for a four night stay seemed a bit steep – and already starting to feel not such good value. Luckily we discovered that the prices on the continent were much more reasonable and, with the Channel on our doorstep, very accessible. So last time we headed to Belgium and this time to the Netherlands.
The park was everything we had come to expect – apart from the multitude of languages that you’re faced with on mainland Europe, everything else about Centerparcs is reassuringly recognisable and reliable. On the first day I was full of praise for the way the company pays attention to the little details in the comfortable and well-equipped villas and the excellent range of services on-site.
As time has gone on, however, the importance of maintaining attention to customer experience and reinforcing the value has become more obvious. We knew already that the restaurants were traditionally overpriced and underwhelming – we tried a meal out once just to check if things have improved in this department. They haven’t. Not to worry we thought, we can cook in the villa, no problem.
The next crack appeared when we discovered the much vaunted refurbished villas did not have an oven, just a microwave and hob. No roast chicken then. Not to worry, we’re adaptable. We can joint a chicken and the coq au vin was a tasty alternative.
Another crack came with the archery experience. A one and a half hour lesson was a lacklustre affair, with the organisers not paying attention to budding archers who were getting increasingly demoralised when they couldn’t even hit the target.
I can’t blame Centerparcs for whinging and whining from the kids (the joy of families) but with each bad experience we were starting to get more critical. The logs for the fire that won’t light without fire-lighters – sold separately but not identified clearly when you buy them so you have to make another trip to the shop. The tokens for the lockers that are needed instead of a euro – needless hassle and designed just to squeeze another few cents out of each customer. The staff who insist on speaking Dutch when they know we’re English – I’ll have a go at French and Spanish but no-one learns Dutch do they? (Generally I’m in awe of their language abilities, but am starting to get narky).
Now we’re noticing more and more that the drinks are outrageously expensive (we just shrugged this off before) and that many of the staff are not brilliantly attentive. For that price I expect top notch service!
What this brought home is how customer experience has to be attended to 100% of the time, and how quickly the shine can be taken off the whole holiday with just a few bad instances. And how the truly minor issues start to add up once you get the ball rolling!
I’m still a fan of Centerparcs and will undoubtedly come back again – but my experience has not persuaded me to give the more expensive UK option another chance. It’s changed my perception of the value they deliver and therefore the price I am willing to pay.
As businesses we don’t spend enough time worrying about providing the best customer experience. We worry about functionality and cost and price and promotion – but ultimately providing an excellent customer experience is the only way to deliver real value and the best way to differentiate you from the competition.
How shiny is your customer experience?
Sharon Wilding is a Chartered Marketer with many years experience in marketing for businesses large and small. As a lecturer and a practioner she aims to help small businesses use theory in practical ways to improve performance. You can connect with Sharon on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
Guest blog on the benefits of having a real person answer your phones by Claire Burroughs, AnsaCom Ltd.
It is perhaps too sweeping a statement to say ALL businesses need a telephone answering service, although we like to think it's true! If you have full cover for telephones throughout all your business hours and are able to cope fully with staff sickness and holidays then you may not need any extra help. But for many other businesses having real people on stand-by ready to answer the phone as if they were part of your company can offer great advantages.
Start by putting yourself in the shoes of your customers, or by considering your own experience of phoning companies for whatever reason. What do you feel is important about the encounter?
Is the call answered promptly? Is there a real live, polite, helpful and knowledgeable person? Or is there a machine with a voice with no indication of how long it might be before your call is returned? Do you end the call feeling that your issue is resolved or at least being managed, or are you frustrated at being unable to place your order, make your appointment, or just speak to someone?
The way you treat your customers says a lot about your values as a company and seriously affects the image you create. And image, today more than ever, is vitally important to maintaining your competitive edge.
Based on this thinking here’s our view on which sort of businesses might benefit from using a telephone answering service.
Business professional services who want to deliver a truly professional image – responsive to customers and equipped with the back-up of a professional team to help.
Therapists and retailers who are dealing with customers face to face and can’t just drop everything to answer the phone. A telephone answering team who can book appointments and give out basic product information is ideal for this situation.
Tradespeople who need to be concentrating on the job in hand not struggling to answer a mobile for fear of losing out on work. Again, the right team can do more than just take messages, they can speak on your behalf, give information about your services and book visits.
Online retailers may have set up their websites to enable customers to make purchases with the minimum of personal contact, but when buying on the internet it is very reassuring to know that there is a number to call should you experience difficulties with the order or delivery or even post-purchase.
Companies with receptionists who need back-up when they are at lunch or just very busy. Telephone answering services can be used to overflow calls and the call operators can have the ability to transfer calls through to the person requested. Callers need never know the call was not answered in-house!
As well as the confidence and peace of mind that comes from knowing your customers are properly cared for when they call your business, using a telephone answering service gives you information on the pattern and duration of calls. Information that may even surprise you and help you in other areas of your business planning.
We know the list above is not exhaustive – let us know what you think!
When my boss at BT, the Marketing Director, received calls from sales people (mainly marketing agencies) he would always say, "You need to speak to Sharon. She makes those decisions. Here's her number." When they contacted me I knew that my most likely response would be, "Thanks but no thanks". I was open to their approach, would listen and give it fair consideration, but if there was no real opportunity or likelihood that we would give them any business then I would very openly, politely and straighforwardly tell them so.
Why couldn't my boss do this himself? He was an intelligent guy of high integrity, but he was terrible at turning people down. He wasn't really worried about hurting their feelings or not being liked, what he hated was closing down opportunities. He saw the possibilities in everything even when, according to my more pragmatic and realistic view of the world, resources were limited and you can't do everything.
If resources are limited in a big company like BT now, as a small business owner, they seem even more so - time in particular is a precious commodity. I am dismayed therefore to find so many people who find it difficult to say no - or is it just me that suffers from this problem? (If so I need to know!)
I'm talking about people who don't return personal calls or emails, not people who don't respond to direct marketing. If I'm feeling charitable then I choose to believe that there are lots of people out there who are just like my old boss and who don't want to give up on an opportunity. On my less charitable days then I get angry about the lack of courtesy and respect that one business owner is prepared to show to another.
If you prepare a quote or a proposal for someone and they never get back to you what are you supposed to think?
- They are too busy?
- They are too scared to deliver bad news?
- They can't be bothered?
- They want you to work harder to get their business?
When we put a proposal together for a marketing programme it entails a lot of work researching the opportunity and tailoring the proposal. It is therefore a costly exercise. I know not all proposals are going to convert to business but getting feedback on why the prospective client is not interested in going ahead, where you failed to demonstrate the appropriate value, or how circumstances have changed is invaluable.
This is a marketing issue - we all need feedback in order to improve the standard of our services and then, hopefully, our conversion rates.
It is good business practice to follow up submission of quotes or proposals but after how many unreturned emails or calls should I be getting the message (choose which message from 1-4 above)?
I genuinely believe that there are times when it is better to be cruel to be kind - to deliver the bad news to someone quickly and directly rather than keep them holding on, hoping, wishing and wondering!
My personal values (as those of you who know me will, I hope, testify) are to be honest and straightforward with people. I don't like to lead people on and, I know, this can come across as harsh at times. But why waste people's time? Let's be supportive to each other and show appropriate respect!
It was announced this week that Richard Brasher, Tesco's head of UK Business, is to step down. He will be replaced by the big cheese (don't worry this blog will not be littered with grocery references) Phillip Clarke. The news follows the revelation that Tesco was the Christmas turkey (sorry!) of the supermarkets, posting its worst festive season performance for 20 years and a shock profit warning.
There is, to some extent, an inevitability about the drop in Tesco's performance - you can't be at the top of the pile for ever. In the highly competitive food retail business every player is constantly struggling for an edge. It's possible that Tesco will get their mojo back and resume their place as market leader for growth.
The blame for the poor performance was laid at the door of the economy. Shoppers were moving to economy brands and cutting back on luxuries. It sounds plausible at first but why weren't Sainsbury affected in the same way? Why was Waitrose pulling in the punters hand over fist?
There are lots of opinions flying around about why Tesco has suffered and the reality is there are probably lots of reasons, but I think there are a couple of things that even small businesses can learn a lesson from:
1/ Value does not mean cheap
In autumn Tesco launched their "Big Price Drop" promotion which was supposed to reduce prices by about £500M. They cancelled double Clubcard points to pay for it. The promotion is widely regarded as a flop. The promotion coincided with general rises in food prices which meant that customers often saw no benefit in their total bill. There were suggestions that quality and customer service levels were not being maintained (according to Kantor retail analysts). So the customers were expecting value but were perceiving similar bills for a worse service.
Value doesn't mean cheap - it means the customer is happy that he gets a good return for his spend. In this respect it seems that Tesco's customers didn't feel that they were.
2/ You can't tell customers one thing and deliver another
Added to the Big Price Drop (or Big Price flop) promotion failure it was reported in the press that Tesco reduced the price of their frozen turkeys by 50% in the run up to Christmas. Sounds great but it was discovered that competitors were selling them for the same price without a big reduction. Again customers were lead to expect one thing but were presented with something very different.
You have to live up to your customer promises. If they don't trust you you'll lose them.
Now pretty much all this article was written based on what I've read in the press - I don't shop at Tesco very often at all. In fact I am a supermarket tart (oops!). I'll triffle (yeeks) with all of them and I don't give a fig (yikes).
With that in mind let me know what you think. Where has Tesco gone wrong and, more importantly, what do you think we as small businesses learn from it?
Before we start can I just say this in NOT a football blog. Thank you.
On Sunday June 27th 2010 England, a team who qualified for the competition at a canter, lost to Germany and "crashed" out of the South Africa World Cup. The hopes of millions of English supporters were left in tatters. The performance of the team throughout the tournament had been lamentable. Public opinion of the team was at an all time low. Lifelong supporters said that England were "dead" to them.
England merchandise plummeted in price. The pubs were empty for the remaining games of the tournament. It was estimated that the cost of England's failure for retailers was around £1.2bn. Alright, the estimate was in The Sun, but I have no reason to believe it wasn't a good one.
England's brand value was at an all time low. Over the last couple of years the FA has been working to retrieve the situation and England's improving results on the field have helped to pull people back round.
Along the way, though, spectacular blunders have derailed the plan. The FA's disastrous bid for the World Cup 2018 and the response to the failure - blaming everyone else for losing out to Qatar - being a prime example.
Now we have Terrygate II. You will remember before the World Cup in South Africa that there were accusations of impropriety on behalf of England's captain that were played out in the press. Terry lost the England captaincy but remained in the team for the tournament. It is speculated that the affair caused a rift in the team that was at least partly responsible for England's poor performances in the tournament.
Reinstated to the captaincy for the Euro Qualifiers all seemed to be going well for Terry and the team. Attendances for the qualifiers at Wembly improved after starting quite poorly. Then came that incident. Following a premier league game between Chelsea and QPR Terry was accused of hurling racist insults at an opposition player. A complaint was lodged with the police by a member of the public and after a protracted investigation the CPS decided there was sufficient evidence to support a conviction.
The FA last week met, without the team coach being present, and decided to remove the captaincy from Terry for a second time. This week Capello has publicly stated that he strongly disagrees with the FA's decision.
Where does all this leave England? A captain facing criminal proceedings. A team split. A coach clearly at odds with his management.
I could (and buy me a beer and I would) talk about the sporting implications at great length, but this is primarily a marketing blog. So let's restrict ourselves to the marketing issues.
What is England's brand value today? Brand value is the amount of extra money a strong brand can extract from its customers. For the FA, the England brand value is realised through TV rights, sponsorship, ticket sales, membership fees etc. How much do you think sponsors would have been prepared to pay to get their name on an England shirt/website/tour bus/kit bag etc just before the South Africa World Cup compared to today? I don't know the answer but I have my suspicions. I notice that match attendances at Wembley for the Euro qualifiers are down on those for the World Cup. I also notice that membership of the England Supporters club is half price on the website at the moment. Coincidence?
I believe that we are seeing a classic example of the difference between what a "company" would have us believe their brand is and what we actually see it to be.
Brand is a short-hand for a whole range of feelings, beliefs and expectations about a company, a product or a team. For a brand to be credible the communication about the brand must reflect our experience of the brand. I don't know what the FA would cite as the England team brand characteristics. Maybe something like :
Pride. Passion. Honour. Teamwork. Strength. Character.
How well are they doing do you reckon?
Now clearly sometimes a company will define brand values that are to a degree aspirational. "We want to be like this and we're trying to become it." The Nat West bank is a well known example. It very publicly set itself the target of becoming the UK's "most helpful bank". It is then incumbent upon the company to do what is necessary to change the business in a way that will change customers experience and hence attitudes. You can't simply say one thing and do another.
You also have to recognise:
- a great brand is hard to build and easy to destroy - what is Gerald Ratner doing these days?
- everyone in the organisation has to demonstrate the brand all the time.
- the company has to publicly endorse, and enforce, the brand
Guest blog on the power of video from Iain McBride.
This is my take on video as a way of getting publicity with videos on the web and Youtube, but first I'd like to add my brief thoughts to the social media debate.
I started as a hack in the days when we all used manual typewriters and, in moments of high stress, these were not only used to bash out copy but physically thrown across the room. Twitter was what the birds did and social media was a meeting of reporters in the pub.
I must admit I've not personally embraced Twitter and Facebook but they are great tools for journalists. Most tragedies now mean a quick search of Facebook for the victim's picture and nine times out of ten it's there in the public domain. I'm happy to argue the morality of it with anyone, but since a judge ruled that once people had chosen to publish these on the internet on an open forum anyone could use them it's been a free for all.
Similarly Twitter is a great way of finding out what some organisations are doing - and in some cases careless Twittering leads to negative headlines. So keep tweeting and facebooking - we love it.
One of my roles now is as a freelance video producer, and one trend that has become apparent in recent months is the growth in demand for Youtube and web videos to draw attention to a product, service or business. Web video boosts a site's rankings on Google and also has numerous spin offs. It can be produced in days once it's been commissioned, and it can also be placed on Youtube for nothing.
I'm obviously biased about their value but one recent example shows, I think, how they can add value. A Kent racehorse trainer recently invented a very simple product and we were asked to produce a video about it for their website, but also with a view to it being used at exhibitions and to show potential sellers at home and abroad what the product does. You can see the video here at http://www.equinedesigns.co.uk/
One of the directors told me it's succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. At their first exhibition, at the NEC in Birmingham, people were drawn to their stand because the video explaining the product was showing on a screen and their sales team didn't have to explain what it was all about. Since then they've used it to win distributors in the United States, China and Australia.
If you're thinking of having one then a few words of advice:
- Think pictures - it's got to look interesting. People just talking to the camera are a lazy and fairly pointless exercise. There are always ways of illustrating things and that's where your producer earns part of his fee.
- Think endorsements - nothing is better than a good soundbite from someone who's used your product, business or service.
- Think who's talking on behalf of you - without being cruel some people are best kept away from the camera. Not necessarily because of how they look but because of how they sound or their obvious lack of dynamism. The good news is that a bit of coaching before they're filmed can iron out most problems. Again this is where a good producer stands out from the crowd.
- Think what you want to achieve - what's the aim of the video? Who do you want to interest or convince? If it's very different audiences, for example one with technical knowledge and one without, consider doing two versions.
One word of caution - there are many people out there doing videos and, a bit like wedding photographers, if you want it done on the cheap you can find someone to do it. But beware the £250 web video will look exactly like that - cheap, and is that the image you want to portray?
Iain McBride has worked in newspapers and radio, and was with ITV for 23 years. He was Head of Media for Kent Police for two years and now produces corporate videos and runs media training and press release writing workshops. His website is www.iainmcbride.co.uk
As social networks grow in number and members, so the pressure on businesses grows too. For many business owners, keeping social network profiles updated and regularly populated with stimulating content presents an increasing strain on resources - and sanity!
Some general points before diving into the specifics of different networks:
- I don't believe social media is transformational for any business - apart from those selling social media!
- Whether something is a luxury or necessity is a relative judgement. If you haven't got the basics of your marketing programme under control then ANY social media activity is a luxury, e.g. don't waste time attracting people to a crummy website!
- Assuming you've got the basics covered, then you have to consider that ignoring anything that has millions of users could be a mistake - but the challenge is for you to work out whether YOUR target audience are active on the particular network and in the right frame of mind to engage with your brand.
- Defining something as a luxury doesn't mean it shouldn't be done - just that it knows its place in your overall priorities!
- Engaging in social media has important indirect spin-offs - for example in improving your website rankings in search. For this reason alone it may be important to have a strategy your organisation can follow
So - here goes, my thoughts on each network:
LinkedIn - Necessity
I agree with both Debra and Neil this is a necessity for all professionals. Whether we are running businesses or looking for employment, our personal profile can be an important influencer in relationships. I do make early judgements based on the way people present themselves online and how up-to-date their information is, and I won't be the only one!
Take control of your profile - try and see it from someone elses shoes. My favourite game is to spot the howlers - people who say they have an excellent eye for detail but can't spell, for example.
LinkedIn also presents a great way to keep in touch with people you meet at face to face networking events - and it's always a disappointment if I can't find someone that I think should be there!
It doesn't have to take a lot of time - the most distracting thing is the emails from the various discussion groups but I've solved that by having them automatically moved to a different folder that I can review just once or twice a week.
Twitter - Luxury
Agreed again - a luxury. Very valuable if you want to learn about different topics, but terribly time consuming as you can easily end up following one interesting lead after another and before you know it hours have passed! It is possible to search on topics and organise lists and favourites, but even then you have to keep those up to date!
I dip into Twitter most days but very briefly so it really depends what catches my eye. I keep my own posting score boosted by bulk scheduling of 3-4 weeks of tweets, then when I go on live I can post about something I have just found or done or just look to engage with others.
I confess that I found Twitter fascinating to begin with but its appeal has somewhat faded - and I am always suspicious of the people I meet who are tweeting everything they do (even while out at meetings). Slightly needy don't you think?
Facebook - Luxury
I agree with Debra on this one - a luxury for B2B. Neil, on the other hand, sees it as a necessity. Maybe this reflects the effort that Neil has put into building up a significant following. I think 952 'likes' for a marketing agency is a fantastic achievement - congratulations Neil! Neil says investing in Facebook advertising worked for him, and the fact that this following results in traffic back to his website is also excellent. However, he still seems to have difficulty getting people to engage actively by commenting on his page and I think this is generally true for B2B.
Although I put more effort into keeping our Facebook business page up to date (important for the brand), I think posting on my personal site is more effective at making connections and building relationships - which of course leads to a conflict between business/personal for many people.
Google+ - untested!
I confess this is has not even made it to the luxury list for me - only the bottom of the 'to do' list! I know I will probably have to get round to it but the thought of filling out another set of profile questions and building another set of connections currently fills me with dread. Maybe when I feel I've got all my marketing basics right I'll get round to this one!
And we've not even started on YouTube ...
Time is our most valuable resource and we need to be spending it wisely - social media can be fun, can be educational and can be distracting. But it can also be useful and positive for B2B marketing. The fact that opinions from marketing experts differ reflects the huge variation in circumstances that lead to success with any particular network. My best advice is to be informed and make your decision for your specific business based on knowledge rather than prejudice/assumptions.
And if in doubt master LinkedIn first!
What do you think?
It's a good thing Santa doesn't rely on Google to get to every house on his round - he'd spend most of his time driving around lost I reckon. In my last rant of 2011 I am asking why so many businesses are relying on Google to help customers find where they are - without checking whether Google has it right!
THREE times in just this one week I have struggled to find businesses by following the directions on their website. This is 100% down to their laziness and incompetence in checking that, when they refer people to Google for directions, that Google is getting their flag in the right place. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but sometimes you have to tell it like it is!
Customer experience is an essential part of getting your marketing right. Sending customers on a wild goose chase does not make for a good customer experience! This is not hard or expensive - but can make a big difference.
Here's a little challenge for you over the Christmas break. Use Google Maps to try and find your business:
- If the directions and location of the little flag are 100% accurate then pat yourself on the back and go and relax.
- If you have a Google Places entry and the flag is not in the right place then correct it!
- If you don't have Google Places shame on you - that needs sorting out asap! It's a free listing for your business so worth making the most of.
- If the Google Maps entry is wrong and you can't work out how to correct it then make sure you have good written directions on your website, along with an accurate map.
Marketing is often about paying attention to little details to make your service the best it can be. If being found (in the physical world) is important to your business then you absolutely have to make sure you make it as easy as possible for your customers. There can be no excuse for getting this wrong.
Santa has magic to help him out - most of your customers won't be so lucky so don't let them down!