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TRUST, A Social Media Missing Link!?

Having a Facebook Page WILL NOT bring instant sales.

Twitter WILL NOT triple your Web traffic overnight.

A press release WILL NOT get journalists banging down your door.

Harsh truths, I know, but ones that need to be heard. The problem with small businesses and marketing is they want instant coffee. They want to see a spike in sales or Web traffic instantly, and that simply doesn’t happen unless you’re the Old Spice guy. Freshly showered men aside, all your marketing efforts should lead to one thing:  T-R-U-S-T.

Why Trust Is Important

Is trust necessary? Not really. You could sell a thousand widgets to a thousand people and never see them again. Or you could work to build trust with these customers, and rely on them to become your brand evangelists, to let them tell others how great you are because you’re a trustworthy company. Let them blog, tweet and share their love on Facebook.

Trust keeps customers coming back. If what you sell costs a lot of money, it gives them the confidence to drop the $100, $1,000 or $10,000 on your product or service.

How to Build Trust

Every component of marketing is about trust-building, if done properly.

  • Social Media. Face it: You probably haven’t bought much from brands on Twitter just because they’re there. If a brand you’re following is having a promotion, you might click the link and buy. But that’s promotion. Not marketing. So your role in social media is to use it as a channel to build trust. Create conversations, whether they’re related to your industry or not. Share relevant links, even if they’re not from your own blog. Interact. Give people a reason to seek your brand out on Facebook or Twitter.
  • Press Releases. Sometimes trust is just about being there consistently. Putting out a press release each month can go a long way to say, “Hey! We’re still here doing awesome things.” And while journalists may not be clamoring to publish your news, searching for keywords that lead them to one press release after another from your brand certainly shows that you’re consistent. And consistency is one of the cornerstones of a healthy relationship, is it not?
  • Blogger Relations. If you’re smart enough to be working with bloggers to spread the word about your products or services, kudos. But how you work with them can have just as much impact on your brand as what they think of the product. First off, pay your bloggers. Their time is as valuable as yours. But be there for them too. Make sure they know you’re partners in the blogger outreach campaign you’re working on, and make sure to address any questions or concerns they have before they post. If you build that trust, they’ll go beyond the call of duty for the campaign and talk about your brand on all the social channels, resulting in bonus play for you.

Now WHAT!?

If I’ve put you into a tailspin, don’t worry. Keep doing what you’re doing in marketing, but shift your thinking.  Don’t focus on how many (or few) website visitors that last Facebook contest netted. Instead look at how you built the trust of hundreds of loyal fans. If they are engaged in what you’re doing, you’re successfully building that trust. Keep it up, and those relationships will come to fruition.

They’re Just Not That Into You!

You’ve tried to get their attention. You’ve read the right books, listened to all the gurus, and freshened up your appearance, but it’s not working.

You aren’t being noticed by the one you love. Your ideal customer isn’t giving you the time of day. They’re ignoring your offers. All of your overtures are rebuffed.

They’re just not that into you.

Today we’re going to cover how to flirt with potential customers, get their attention, and make them fall head over heels with your product or service. It’s a technique that — when implemented together — will attract the most resistant customer.

1. Make yourself desirable

Want to capture your potential customer’s attention? Give them what they’re looking for.

Hunger is the best sauce.
~ Italian proverb

Share valuable information, and make sure you’re offering what they actually want. You can do that by:

  • Checking your search stats to see what terms people use to find your site,
  • Using sites like Twitter and Facebook to “listen in” to conversations about what buyers in your niche want, and
  • Observing what people actually buy (rather than what they think they would buy).

High-quality information will establish your expertise and build your authority over time, and that is irresistible.

2. Show them the goods

You’ve captured their attention with your valuable, optimized content. Now it’s time to get their number so you can stay in touch.

Forget about all those cheap pick up lines you learned in high school. (Or the equally cheap lines that are still taught by sales trainers who apparently think we’re going door to door with vacuum cleaners.)

Instead, dangle something in front of your audience that they’ll find so useful, so compelling, and so tempting they’ll be rushing to type their e-mail address in your opt-in form.

Offer a solution to a problem, or a series of tips. Create a guide or checklist for getting something accomplished. Give them access to a free audio or video product.

It’s the first step in a sales funnel that will lead them along from free, to entry-level, moving through mid-range and on to the top of your price range. A really good free offer will make them fall right into the top of your funnel before they know what’s hit them.

3. Surprise them (in a good way)

Once they’ve signed up for your free offer, surprise them with the high value content you keep delivering. This is the ideal time to establish that you are a class act, and make it known you won’t let them down.

Deliver superior quality content, and present it in a professional-looking package. If it’s blog content, make sure your site looks great and works perfectly. If it’s an e-book, take the time to design it well. If it’s an email auto-responder, create a template that’s polished and easy to read. If it’s audio or video, deliver it with the best production values you can muster.

Because they’re watching your every move at this point. You have their attention. Don’t blow it.

4. Respond to their overtures

After you’ve done steps 1 through 3, some — not all — of your audience will respond to your customer flirtation techniques.

You might start to get blog comments, Twitter DMs or e-mails sent from your website.

When the messages come in, be sure to respond promptly and professionally. Don’t leave your prized customer hanging!

Show potential customers they can count on you to be responsive and trustworthy. Let them know you’ll be there when they need you.

5. Stay faithful

The last step? Repeat the first four over and over.

Consistent, high-quality content delivered over time will establish you as a reliable, authoritative source of information. “Getting their number” and staying in touch (via an email or RSS subscription) will allow you to continue the courting process. And reliable, responsive customer service will seal the deal.

When it’s time to swoop in and make the sale, the stage will be set. Your customers will be all warmed up and ready for action. These techniques will make it easy to sweep them off their feet.

Before you know it, they’ll be in your arms with wallets open — captivated by your content, smitten with your services, and carrying a torch for your products.

Warm and Fuzziness: Keeps Them Coming Back!!

Customers are your business’s lifeblood. Without them, you don’t have a business at all. But woo them carefully with devotion, and your business sales can skyrocket. Who doesn’t love being romanced?

Want to know how to create those warm, fuzzy feelings? Use these easy tips and make your customers love you so they keep coming back for more.

Tell the World They’re Special

What do you do when you love someone? You want to tell the world how special that person is to you.

So tell the world about your customers and how special they are to you by giving them some spotlight attention. Display glowing testimonials proudly on your website. Write a blog post and mention kind words a client told you. Write a case study or success story. Talk about how much your customer’s life has changed since discovering your business.

By putting your customers in the spotlight and telling the world about them, you create a win-win. You help their business get some free exposure to new clients, and you show your prospective customers that your business creates positive results.

Take this tip one step further: Write a blog post about a recent project or sale. Talk about how much you enjoyed getting to know your customer and mention what you liked — friendly attitude, pleasant manners, or even a great smile. This definitely creates warm fuzzies for anyone!

Thank Them, and Mean It

Here’s an easy way to bring a smile to anyone’s face: Thank them for being customers in a way that shows you really appreciate having them.

It takes mere seconds to send a customer a personal thank-you note for having trusted your business to provide them with what they want. Send a quick e-mail a week or two after the purchase, or even better, mail them an old-fashioned handwritten note. People love getting these — really.

Double-whammy your thank you note by giving a little gift. Tuck a coupon into the envelope or offer your customers a five-percent discount on their next purchase.

Remember Them So They Remember You

Out of sight, out of mind, as the saying goes — which means that dropping contact with your customers can result in them forgetting your business exists. Or worse, showing that you don’t care.

That’s why staying in touch with customers over the months or even years can help retain their patronage for a long time to come. They never forget you — and they might even think fondly of you.

Don’t just stay in touch; get personal about it. Take note of details that your customers share with you either while making a purchase or in conversation. Note their birth dates. Mark down the name of their pets. Jot down that your client had a big golf tournament coming up.

Then use that information to show you were paying attention to your customers. Mention Rover in an e-mail. Mail a  birthday card. Ask how the tournament turned out on your next call. Your clients will love you for it.

Treat Them with Responsive Respect

There’s nothing worse than being put on hold and hearing a tinny recording say, “Your call is important to us.” (It’s even worse if you have to wait 20 minutes for a live person to actually back that up.)

So when customers get in touch with you — no matter who they are, no matter why they’re contacting you — respect them, and respond to them.

This is so easy to do, and responding to people in a personal way is actually so rare in the world of business that it pleasantly surprises people when it happens. Doing so can build huge loyalty and fond thoughts in the minds of your customers so they remember you for a long, long time.

So ditch the canned responses. Answer people who get in touch via social media platforms. Reply to e-mails, and do so personally if you can. The phone rings? Pick it up — don’t let the call fall into some robotic system. It may take extra time from your day, but it’s worth every minute.

Also, be personable when you talk with customers and prospects. Show them you’re a genuinely great individual who is interested in them by being approachable, friendly, and pleasant. Your customers will get the chance to know you, like you, and appreciate you and your business even more for who you are.

Check in on Them, Just Because

“Hey Jenny, I was thinking about you today and just wanted to drop you a note to say hi — no particular reason. Hope things are well!”

There you go, how easy was that? Sending your customers an out-of-the-blue e-mail like that can be a great way to show them you value them as people, that you care about them, and that you like them for who they are.

Business-wise, an unexpected “How are you?” e-mail opens up the lines of communication. You might find your customer replying, “I’ve been meaning to get in touch — glad you wrote!” and secure a new sale. You might just end up having a great conversation (which gives you extra notes about your client you can jot down and use in future communications).

Customers will enjoy the no-obligation, no-pitch contact, too. A “just saying hi” makes everyone feel better. That’ll make it a lot easier for customers to remember you when it’s time for the next purchase.

It all comes down to a very simple sentiment: People like to buy from people, not from faceless businesses that don’t care. So show that you do, and woo your customers carefully for a devoted relationship they’ll adore.

 

Think You Are LinkedIn? Think Again!

It’s no secret that social networks have quickly become one of the most utilized spaces online to learn about new businesses and retrieve company information.  Many marketing experts would agree that a company’s presence on Facebook is almost as important as maintaining a website.  Networking through Facebook and Twitter gets the word out about products and services at a much faster pace than website traffic alone.  In addition, these social networks are accountable for a high percentage of traffic to start-up websites that may never see the light of day otherwise.

With a high percentage of businesses utilizing Twitter and Facebook to grow their customer-base, it may seem a bit odd that LinkedIn (the social network for business networking) has yet to develop a highly effective space for obtaining business information and reviewing companies at a broader level.  LinkedIn started rolling out new features in this department as of late 2010.  However, it seems that many companies, especially B2B products and services, are still unaware of this new marketing opportunity.  Here’s the scoop on business marketing through LinkedIn, then and now.

Then: Business Profile

1. The Face Behind The Brand: Start a personal profile on LinkedIn if you haven’t already: www.linkedin.com

2. Gain Exposure: Claim your business page and fill out the pertinent information. Be sure to use your business email since this is how LinkedIn determines administrative access to edit your page later.

3. Get Referrals: Recommend that your employees start profiles if they haven’t already.  We all love referrals.

Now: Products & Services

The products & services tab is one of the most important new features for LinkedIn Business Marketing.

  • Company Summary – Add a short summary about your company.
  • Slideshow – Add 3 large slides of photos, text, graphics
  • YouTube video – Add a video that represents your business.
  • Products/Services – Add an individual list of products and service offerings.
  • Reviews – Request reviews. LinkedIn community members now have the ability to review a businesses products and services.  Businesses are able to request a review from a customer/client who maintains a LinkedIn account.

Next: Promote

Much like any other website, it’s best to look for ways to promote your page on the outside.  This will encourage new visitors to visit your page, review your products/services and follow your company updates. Here are a few ideas to get the ball rolling.

  • Add a LinkedIn button to your website/blog alongside your Twitter and Facebook buttons.
  • Send out an email to current customers and clients requesting recommendations with a link to your new page.
  • Update your personal LinkedIn status with “just redesigned our LinkedIn page, check it out: [link to your company’s LinkedIn page]”
  • Add LinkedIn’s “Recommend” button to your website.  Instructions can be found here.

Utilizing LinkedIn for Business is a no-brainer, especially for B2B companies.  Recommendations from trusted friends, family and peers is arguably the best marketing strategy out there.  LinkedIn’s new products/services review feature enables word-of-mouth communication for the masses.

 

100% Customer Retention Guaranteed!!

Customer loyalty and retention are keys to brand success. Treat your customers with respect, and they’ll reward you with loyalty. Listen to them talk online, make your messages appeal to them, give them incentives, and keep in mind that if your current customers are happy it’s without a doubt referrals will follow truly optimizing resources and opportunity.

It’s easier and less expensive to expand and enhance current relationships than bring in new ones. Loyal customers buy more. And more often.

Here’s some tried-and-true tactics to keep your customers happy, prospects interested and business flourishing.

1. Don’t mess with loyalty.

Okay, so a pretty obvious first lesson. But really, don’t take loyalty for granted. Many business owners need to get out of the “we already have them” mind frame and treat their current customers just like they treat prospects. Nourish and flourish.

Even with a successful marketing campaign, people might try you out but it’s only if you build a relationship with the prospects that will get them to come back. In today’s world full of options, a customer can easily choose another provider. And tell all their friends. Don’t take loyalty for granted and don’t underestimate the power of one-on-one relationship building. Customers return when they feel a connection with the brand and when there’s a mutual sense of belonging.

2. Word-of-mouth is not new.

This brings us to the second point. Once you’ve really satisfied customer needs, it’s without a doubt they will tell others about you. If this happened to you with your business, it’s by no means a new discovery. However, the only thing that is actually new unlike previously is that you now have to go the extra mile. Since industries and options are so saturated, it is easily for a customer to take their business elsewhere. And trust us, if you don’t measure up – they will. Your service needs to over deliver in every area because the expectations bar has been sent so high, and can also probably be met by your competitors.

Being good is no longer good enough. You need to do something truly outstanding (and relatable to your market) to really get them talking about you. Once you exceed expectations, customers will be referring their friends, relatives, neighbors, and co-workers.

3. Listen and help.

The internet offers unlimited possibilities. Brands are now able to actually communicate and listen to their clients and prospects, and we have social media to thank for it. Depending on where your target market hangs out, Twitter or Facebook have been great for monitoring conversation, listening and helping. If a current or even potential customer is having issues and you know what the answer is, lend them a hand even if it doesn’t result in direct business. Trust us; it will pay off in the future. Social media platforms are just one of the many avenues for your business to ask customers what they want and what they like and dislike. You can also include a chat or customer surveys on your website, at the point of sale, in the newsletters, or just simply call a customer up to see how they’re doing. Also, do remember that customers expect you to take action if they complain, especially once you initiated the dialogue.

4. Act human.

It wasn’t until recently that people started associating faces with brands. On a larger scale, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Steve Jobs of Apple are prime example of how to make an organization be associated with a leading face. Meanwhile, other organizations haven’t been as dominant in associating people with their brands (who’s really the face of Google?). Acting human and being able to relate to your customers on a personal level speaks volumes. It says that you’re one of them, bringing them up a level. They feel more comfortable speaking to somebody they can relate to and in return also have more personal attachment. Take advantage of the online platforms in sharing pictures, stories, tips and speaking in anything but a robotic tone. Also, if you don’t have any negative comments – you’re not trying hard enough.

5. What have you done for me lately?

Incentives, incentives, incentives! If you’re nourishing a prospect and engaging him in the early stages, you should not abruptly cut off communication once they sign on. They assume that once a customer is happy, that customer will stay happy and continue to use the services. Wrong! Your customer is always thinking what’s in it for me? So what can you do (or not do) during the customer’s experience? Some of the ways you can continue to interact with customers is through loyalty programs, inside news and perks, special discounts, newsletters, memberships, events – just to name a few.

Let your customers know that their success and satisfaction is important to you. You succeed when they succeed, so you need to do everything you can to keep your customers happy. Use this as a benchmark. When customers are happy, that means the business is doing something right. It’s yet again a simple concept but needs to be instilled into a corporate culture and customer interaction. Take advantage of social media monitoring and communications tools. The sky’s the limit for what it takes to make your customers and prospects happy.

Don’t Fool Yourself!

Almost every day, I hear a business owner talking about how they resist or refuse to have a presence on Facebook, Twitter or other popular social media platforms.

And almost everyone of them suggests that social media is just a fad that will pass.

They are in good company.

Movie producer Darryl Zanuck predicted in 1946 that people would get tired of watching a television every night. Variety magazine predicted the death of rock and roll by June, 1955. Time magazine wrote off e-commerce in 1966, decades before it existed.

If you really think social media is not an important part of basic marketing today, you are fooling yourself.

There are tons of resources that will show you how to effectively use social media marketing, no matter what industry you are in. Start learning now. Find out what works and what doesn’t. And, most of all, establish at least a presence on all the popular platforms.

If you don’t have the time to learn it yourself, hire someone to fast-track your learning or handle it for you.

One word of caution: as with anything new, there are suddenly tons of so-called “gurus” out there. Make sure you at least ask around and try to identify the real experts from the charlatans before you spend any money,

Myths About Social Media That Need To Be Put To Rest

Social media gets a lot of attention these days. A lot of people make the choice to use social media for their business thinking that it’s going to bring in a lot of views, customers, subscribers whatever it is that you may want to achieve. The only way that will happen is if you social media the right way. Unfortunately, too many people are disappointed by the results of their social media efforts because they were misled by others to believe in the myths. So once and for all I want to put to rest some of the misguided information that is out there about social media.

Here are a few myths that I think need to be put to rest:

Myth #1 It’s A Great Place To Broadcast

John Maxwell said “People don’t care what you know until they know you care.”  This quote definitely rings true in social media. Everyone wants to be heard and many people are constantly fighting to shout the loudest, but none of that matters because once again it comes back to the listening factor. How do you expect people to care about what you’re saying, if to begin with, you never cared about them? Instead of using social media as a place to broadcast your message about how great your company is and how you have the best product out there a better approach would be to have conversations with people who have the same interest as you, people who you can help and of course you must be willing to provide something of value. That is what attracts people and using this strategy will get you a lot further than trying to be the person who shouts the loudest.

Myth #2 Automation Tools Work

Using an automated tool is not the key to success with social media. Instead automated tools can actually hamper your ability to achieve your goals in social media. The best part about using a social media platform is being able to connect with real people on the other end.  If you choose to use an automated tool to automatically follow people, send them messages or send out the same generic response to everyone, many will find that as very unfavorable and as a result will choose to ignore you because obviously you are not there to listen and only care about your message. Social media is more about having real authentic communication with others and helping people without asking for their business in return.

Myth #3 It’s All About The Numbers

You don’t have to have thousands upon thousands of people following you on the social media platform you choose to have success. It’s more about the engagement that you have with those individuals that will help you reach your goals faster than trying to play the numbers game. You see a lot of people on social media who have 5,000 or 10,000 plus followers and likes, but nobody is paying attention to them. Sure at first this might seem like the way to go because it looks impressive to have that many followers or likes, but it’s more impressive to actually see the amount of people who are actually engaging with you on the social media platforms and seeing the number of people who have actually taken an interest in what you’re saying that matters the most.

Myth #4 Using Social Media When I Have Time Works

Being involved in social media takes time. It cannot be used as something you do when you have free time on your hands. Instead you need to devote time to social media every day or a certain amount of time every week. Simply put, if you do not make the effort to be on that social media platform people will not want to follow you, like you or connect with you. Consistency on the web is always a key to success.

Myth #5 It’s Easy, All I Need Is An Account

Nothing just magically happens, but for some reason a lot of people think that truly happens on the web. That simply all that is needed is to have an account and magically you’ll be rolling in the dough, but that is not so. Having an account is simply the first step. Next you need to identify the goals that you want to achieve with a timeframe in place in which you want to achieve them and identify a few tactics to help you reach those goals in the end.

Myth #6 I Have To Use One Of The Bigger Social Media Websites

No you don’t have to be on Twitter, you don’t have to be on Facebook and you don’t have to be on LinkedIn. However, this is what many people assume when they look to join a social media website. What would be better is to pick the social media website that best fits your strengths. So if you don’t buy into the whole microblogging, kind of texting platform that Twitter has you don’t have to do it. It doesn’t mean that you won’t be successful simply because you didn’t choose to use one of the bigger social medias that are out there. Maybe instead you’re more of a video person and you decide to use Vimeo or Ustream because it plays more of your strengths, than that’s where you need to be. It will benefit you more in the long run because you will be better at it since it is one of your strengths and as a result you’ll be more motivated to be involved there as well.