Use of Social Media for Marketing, and Those Other Marketing Activities

Strategy Plan One

May 4, 2012 

Use of social mediaUse of Social Media for Marketing

Gone is the traditional method of advertising in the newspaper and radio and in with current social media marketing and advertising platforms.  Or are those methods gone?

For sure social media is in and it continues to grow exponentially.  Just when you thought user bases were leveling out, a new interest in a platform keeps the level of growth consistent.  It seems every week a new wave of more interesting social media platforms emerge.  However, business owners must not forget the other forms of marketing that would add value to the marketing mix.

Social media marketing involves the promotion and attention of your business, and engagement between users of social media platforms and your business’ products and services.  The use of social media for marketing would be the purpose of gaining traffic and attention to your business.

Whether through short bursts of information using Twitter or detailed Facebook or LinkedIn pages, the absolute benefit to businesses using social media, is that information can be shared quickly across massive audiences.  It has been a business to consumer and business to business trend over the past era, but not known if this marketing trend will be long-lasting.  If it will be long-lasting, social media marketing may evolve as fast as the whole social media industry itself is evolving.

Marketing Activities – Considerations other than Social Media

Marketing plans could be chalked full of a mix of marketing activities, new and traditional forms.  An entrepreneur should dig into developing activities that would be applicable to promoting and getting out the appropriate message on their own product and service mix.  Yes, social media may work to a certain extent, but may not be the best avenue for local, personal marketing for example.  Entrepreneurs may have to consider forms of advertising and that promote products and service in person, such as trade shows, and promotional events.  Differing from social media marketing, trade show events give you the ability to showcase products and services to masses of potential customers, with colourful, interactive displays manned by representatives (actual people) promoting the business.

Marketing Plans

When developing detailed business and marketing plans, consider the mix the marketing activities based on your intended audience, and what type of method you will use to effectively engage with your audience and raise attention.  You may find social media works well in junction with other forms of marketing activities.  Carefully weigh your options for marketing activities and measure results from activities.  Best results may occur when revising your marketing activities mix.

 

Strategy Plan One

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Business information, resources and tips for the entrepreneur

© 2012 Strategy Plan One

Self-Service – The Evolving Automated Customer Service Experience [Infographic]

Strategy Plan One

April 26, 2012 

Self-Service

The automated customer experience around self-service has come along way, evolving from the invention and implementation of clunky vending machines to the new wave of online streaming of transactions, from anywhere and at anytime.

It is interesting to note that self-service has moved from the delivery of tangible goods to the delivery of information, transactions, digital products in this information era.   However, self-service intersects many sectors, and almost anything is available for either a physical self-serve kiosk or through the web.  In your business planning, have you integrated self-service concepts into your business to make transactions easier, more convenient and accessible to your customers?

Check out this great infographic by Meridian, illustrating the evolutionary time-line of self-service.

self-service - automated customer service

 

Strategy Plan One

http://strategyplanone.com

Business information, resources and tips for the entrepreneur

© 2012 Strategy Plan One

 

 

How do you like those Apps? App Sales [infographic]

Strategy Plan One                                                                                                                     

April 9, 2012 

App Sales

It is interesting to observe the app sales war play itself out across the top platforms, with the notable Blackberry, iPhone and Android companies and developers jockeying for customer revenue.  Even though Blackberry (BB) reports have not been favorable of late, take note of the impressive sales data around BB app sales.  Where BB lacks in volume of apps for its platform, it makes massive ground in the sales per app & return on investment per app.

This infographic from BlogBerry.de highlights data from the three most popular platforms:

  • BB: 70,000+ Apps; Over 6 Million downloads per day
  • iPhone: 500,000 Apps; 66.2% are paid apps; 4 times the Android app sales
  • Android: Over 400,000 Apps available; 79.3% of Apps have been downloaded less than 100 times

App sales - RIM, Apple, Android How they Compare

Strategy Plan One

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Business information, resources and tips for the entrepreneur

© 2012 Strategy Plan One

Building Relationships – Key to Building Customers and Revenue

Strategy Plan One

March 3, 2012

Building TrustBuilding Relationships  

In a conference we attended this week for entrepreneurs and small businesses, the over-arching theme between sessions and presentations was overwhelmingly similar.  In order to build a new customer base or to build up an existing customer base, entrepreneurs must first focus on building trust, building strong relationships with potential consumers.

Building Trust 

In the business examples brought forward in the presentations, the best customer – business experiences were ones where trust was first built with the customer.  The customer must believe in what you are selling, promoting, or offering.  In today`s business environment, and with instant information to anything under the sun, customers are well-educated and informed prior to making a purchasing decision.  Those businesses that take the time building trust and relationships with customers will note that those buying customers have made a personal connection with the entrepreneur and business.

As an entrepreneur you need to promote an environment where customers can ask questions and receive honest, trustful information and advice back.  It is in your best interest to provide that honest feedback on whether or not the product or service is the right fit for the consumer.  It may come back to haunt you, if you decide to oversell something to your client you worked so hard to get.  As mentioned information is readily available and if the consumer finds out they were oversold or ripped off, that relationship will be broken, and obviously that customer will be gone forever.  Wipe that repeat revenue off the books.

Building RelationshipsBuilding Relationships, Trust, Customers, and Revenue

When trust has been gained, you will gain the customer`s confidence in you as a trustworthy entrepreneur, and will gain confidence in your product or service as something that is absolutely essential to them.  Build that relationship and there will be no need to go elsewhere.  Providing a trustful business environment is your competitive advantage over other big box stores or corporations that don`t have those strong micro relationships with the consumer.  You are in a great position if at the end of the day, you can see a list of repeat customers that all have a connection to you and your business.  This is your key to building up your customer base and building increasing revenue streams.

Strategy Plan One

http://strategyplanone.com

Business information, resources and tips for the entrepreneur

© 2012 Strategy Plan One

Reach Success – Obtain Feedback for Continuous Improvement

Strategy Plan One

February 24, 2012 

Feedback for Continuous ImprovementContinuous Improvement through Feedback

If you want to enjoy success year after year as an entrepreneur you need to pay attention to your customers and your operations.  Feedback mechanisms are the best way to gauge objective feedback from clients and from your staff.

Feedback from surveying will shape how you can improve operations to build and retain customers and revenue.  Continuous improvement is a must in this competitive world.

Feedback Mechanisms

Continuous ImprovementWhether customers are satisfied or not with your service or product, ensure you have feedback mechanisms such as surveying as part of your service operation.  You need to analyze a cross-section of feedback from all customers.  Even the happy customers will make note of things that can make the experience, product or service better.  Remember that you should not think your business is at 100% optimization in your product or service delivery.  Don`t fall into the trap of thinking everything is perfect and you never have to change.  Business environments and industries constantly change, and with that, you need to stay competitive with continuous improvements.  Take that valuable information from your customers and revise your operations, customer experience, product or service accordingly.  Ensure that you provide a message around your survey process that they are helping shape better products and services.

Continuous Improvement

Encourage a continuous improvement environment in your business, and empower your staff to take the lead and charge of recommended improvements.  As a leader, engage with your staff and units and survey them for their valued feedback.  Employee buy-in can occur if you make them a part of the valued process, and allow them to take ownership of the piece of action.  It helps as a leader to recognize unit and project leaders for their efforts.  If the improvement recommendations result in significant operational or profitability improvements, compensation incentives may be appropriate.  A whole organization that is engaged in a continuous improvement process will definitely build a continuous competitive firm.

Ensure you pay ultimate attention to your customer base and to your internal members of your business for feedback to make your business better and more competitive.

 

Strategy Plan One

http://strategyplanone.com

Business information, resources and tips for the entrepreneur

© 2012 Strategy Plan One

 

 

Trade Show Event – Great Exposure for an Entrepreneur

Strategy Plan One

February 22, 2012 

Trade show event

You have almost completed your business plan, but you are still developing the marketing activities component.  One great avenue to include in your planning and to get exposure to your products and services is at a trade show event.

 

 

Trade Show Events

 

Trade show events give you the ability to showcase products and services to masses of potential customers, with colourful, interactive displays manned by representatives promoting the business.  Since the marketing product industry is so competitive, banner and pop-up displays are cost-effective and can be user-friendly in the set-up and take-down.  If designed right, your display can last for years and be used over and over again at trade show events.

 

If you have chosen the right trade show and right target participants, you may be able to convert a high rate of participants at a trade show event into buying customers.  You must consider that participants are there for a reason, and the fact that most pay to attend is a great sign that they are interested in the commercial aspects of the event.  Ensure you have the ability to track leads and to follow up on those leads.

 

Key factors you should be aware of when considering trade show events:

 

Trade show event- Ensure you target the appropriate venues and trade shows that will result in the highest volume of interested participants

- Be prepared – design the layout of your trade show space and pick the appropriate spot in the trade show event

- Design your trade show booth and display, interactive with models, samples, videos, and take home products

- Make sure you staff you booth appropriately and that at least 1 person is there at all times; an unmanned booth is a waste of money at an expensive trade show, and opportunities for new customers will be lost

- Interact with customers stopping by the booth but also with the pedestrians who are walking the aisles by invite them in with offers

- Make sure you have freebies and give-aways with branded logos and contact information for the potential customers; there needs to be a way for potential customers to contact you

- Track revenue and expenditures from trade show activities, and analyze the return on investment

 

Your marketing budget for a trade show event must include:

 

- Cost of trade show attendance and appropriate booth space

- Any advertising that will promote your attendance at the event

- Banners and printed materials

- Give-aways, samples and contest expenditures

- Human resource staffing costs

- Costs of transportation

- Any additional insurance costs

- The post event costs associated with customer and lead follow up

 

Consider trade show events as one of those key marketing, outreach activities for your business.  With added attention to your trade show participation, your booth will be the showcase of the trade show event, and will result in additional customers and revenue generation you deserve.

 

Strategy Plan One

http://strategyplanone.com

Business information, resources and tips for the entrepreneur

© 2012 Strategy Plan One

Customer Relationship Management – What Businesses Can Do To Improve Service & Relationships

Strategy Plan One

February 18, 2012 

 

http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=1499

 

Many of us spent part of our Saturday afternoons waiting for a vehicle to be serviced.  You may have noticed the small things a car dealer or any other type of business may have done to make long waits more pleasurable or build relationships with clients.

 

Most companies use Customer Relationship Management (CRM) as business strategies and tools to build up better relationships with customers.  Businesses implement this plan to ensure they retain customers, to interact with them and to ensure those customers are satisfied and will return to spend again.

 

A CRM plan and strategy can help you as an entrepreneur make better decisions, track performance, ensure that you have a quality assurance program, build revenue streams and increase profitability.

 

To highlight an example in the service industry, here are some CRM operational tips to keep your customers happy, waiting customers:

http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=721

- Providing complimentary coffee, water, juice

- Weekend, special events, like BBQs

- Big screen, with game or TV on

- Current magazines or periodicals to read

- Access to internet (so some of us can keep blogging and publishing in real time)

- Frequent updates to service conducted and estimated completion time

- Smiles, chatter, pleasant communications

- Clean washrooms

- Transparent and open communications about service upfront

 

What you can do as a service manager / entrepreneur, which can build into your CRM plan:

 

- Observe your customers and with knowing patterns of customer behaviour, be prepared to pro-actively inject service to alleviate customer behaviour

- Observe your staff interacting with clients who are in the waiting room – are they pleasant?  Are they interacting frequently?

- Use this time to get to know your customer; not too often do businesses have the opportunity to capture some information from your loyal customers.

- Opportunities for add-on sales, promotions, advertising directly to a paying customer.

- Promote a positive winning environment, and always be prepared to turn the negative to positive

- Observe the waiting or customer service room.  Is is clean?  Does it reflect your business?  Are there visual queues to promote your company, product or service?  Is it a positive environment?

- Offer discounts for some unforeseen delays in the process

- Conduct surveys with customers and track the data

- Cut down the service time

- Create service standards, such as estimated service completion time frames, payment procedures

- Automate certain service aspects such as automatic billing or logged repeat services…these all cut down service times and improve service standards

 

In the example above using some techniques and strategies, you can turn an unpleasant waiting period into a positive experience for the consumer; positive experience means repeat customers & potentially more future revenues.  As you may have heard, it is easier to keep a customer than to attract a new customer.

 

With some added attention to detail, and the use and implementation of a CRM strategic plan, you will be able to maximum benefits to and from the customer.  You can turn an unpleasant experience into a positive one for the consumer and for your business.

 

 

Strategy Plan One

© 2012 Strategy Plan One

Business information, resources and tips for the entrepreneur

Super Bowl Advertising – Are Big Advertising Budgets Worth it?

Strategy Plan One

February 6, 2012 

The opinions on the value of advertising during Super Bowl are quite divided by the corporate world and consumers / viewers.  Most viewers that do like Super Bowl ads are appreciating the entertainment value of these ads.  On the other side, a consumer may see little value in some of these ads, as those ads may do very little to tell a story or promote a product or service.  Big advertising budgets obviously have pros and cons, with Super Bowl advertising at the top of the charts.

In this age of protests and occupy this and that, did any corporations get that message?  At $3.5 Million per crack, did anyone think it may be worthwhile promoting or supporting their side causes, instead of entertaining viewers?  I know that sounds boring and maybe not fits, but I can’t help to think of how many watching (the 99 %?) would focus on whether the corporate world was trying to do the right thing.  Of the “other 99%” that did watch, I am not sure they would agree with corporations spending this money on entertainment, when $3.5 Million could employ 70-100 mid-level, full-time positions.  The corporations may come back at us with the fact that $3.5 Million in advertising resulted in an additional $7.0 Million in revenue and 140-200 jobs created.  As you can see, positions are solidified on both sides.

At the end of the half time show, the crowd cheered to the “World Peace” message lit up on the field; I am sure the emotional response from most of the rest of the world viewers was the same.  And that’s the point – emotional connection with the viewers.  I am not sure that a vampire bush party did it, although with reference to the above, was entertaining (different type of connection with viewers).

A lot of things could be done on a $3.5 Million budget.  Most entrepreneurs and small businesses are not in this same league the corporate world is in.  I am sure that there will be some brand awareness or increased sales from these ads, but this only forms part of the multi-million budgets these corporations have.

On positive notes, many positions were created in the production of commercials, and with an estimated $11 Billion spent on food and retail around Super Bowl, many more.  I am sure the good people of Indianapolis benefited greatly with the ~$150 Million in direct spending in their community.  Fiat (LA Times) has reported that their ads during Super Bowl have resulted in a 138% increase in traffic to their website; logic would state this would lead to improved sales, improved company, and more employment.   All benefits from big budget advertising.

When advertising and dedicating resources, perception and optics should be key factors in your marketing budgets and should shape your own business’ or corporation’s messages to the consumer.  In tough economic times it is difficult to do anything else but to message around helping people, helping the consumer, and maybe not just to entertain.

Strategy Plan One

© 2012 Strategy Plan One

Business information, resources and tips for the entrepreneur

Dealing with Difficult Customers

Strategy Plan One

February 3, 2012 

As entrepreneurs and small business owners, we all face the occasional customer that is not happy about a product, service, staff or the business itself.  Here are some helpful tips to alleviate pressures and turn a consumer from angst to repeat customer.

Take the time to listen to the full concerns of the customer    

Spend time with the customer to try and resolve.  You are in the game of building customers and your business survival depends on the customer, so invest time to resolve.  When a complaint comes forward, the customer wants to be heard.  Don’t be confrontational, but listen and be patient and you will notice a natural decline in the tone and behaviour of the customer.  After the customer’s initial rant, he will be looking for a response from you.  Take this as the opportunity to resolve and build a relationship.

Right or wrong, build a solid relationship with the disgruntled customer

Engage in conversation with the customer; this discussion is a two-way conversation.  Be empathetic towards the customer (not to be phoney, but be genuine in your actions).  Value the feedback and let the customer know that.  These simple methods of tactful communications will get the consumer on your side.

Right or wrong, use strong negotiation skills to find common ground 

The customer may never be happy and may want you to do everything under the sun to make the situation right, including providing the goods or service for free.  Depending on the severity of the scenario, you may have to provide something for free or an alternate product or service at cost.  With the relationship of trust you have built with your customer, you have an opportunity to mitigate the damage and find a mutually acceptable position.  Find what would make you and the customer happy.  If you have moved miles to that mutual ground, don’t be afraid to back down if the customer is still unreasonable.  As a minimum, depending on your jurisdiction, you will have to adhere to consumer regulations around refunds and honouring warranties…no sense in arguing that point.  Leave the scenario knowing you did your best to resolve and that you put effort in to building a relationship and a repeat customer.

Where the customer is clearly wrong, tactfully & transparently state your company’s position

A small fraction of the disgruntled will be completely unreasonable.  Be open and transparent, and inform the customer of your policies and inform of impacts of collective scenarios (such as honouring every complaint in a similar manner).  The customer may leave unhappy but you need to be consistent in your business practices.

Learning experience to build a better Customer Relationship Management Plan

Every scenario you encounter in your business is a learning opportunity. The customer complaint process forms part of your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Plan.  Be prepared – part of your business planning exercise would be to build theCRMinto the operational plan.  Be prepared in advance with policies and procedures to handle challenging customers.  Ensure staff is trained to handle customers in an appropriate manner.

Whatever customer challenges arise, be prepared in your business and handle tactfully and professionally.  Your end goal should be to always find mutual resolution and to turn those angry customers into happy return customers.

Strategy Plan One

© Strategy Plan One 2012

Business information, resources and tips for the entrepreneur

Business Tips for Customer Survey Design

January 11, 2012

Helpful Information on Surveys

To assist you in gaining valuable, relevant information from your customers, clients and / or participants and to reduce the errors in your survey, here are some helpful tips on surveys:

1.     Define goals and objectives of the survey

2.     Define information you want from your clients

3.     Design questions to acquire the information you need

4.     Develop the delivery model for the survey

5.     Develop the package for the survey

6.     Choose a random sample of clients / customers

7.     Use a large sample size rather than a smaller size

8.     Use incentives to increase responses from participants

9.     Tabulate all responses

10.            Measure and analyze responses

11.            Implement actions from information received

12.            Make note of errors in your survey methods

13.            Revise survey methods

14.            Develop next survey using same procedures as above

Strategy Plan One

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