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If you’re in marketing, you probably know these feelings. It’s a tall order to get a message out in front of prospects and leads, and it’s a Herculean feat when you’re up against larger competitors for customer business.
Social media is no magic bullet. It can’t rescue a broken lead management process. But it can provide an organic, competitive advantage when battling the big guys.
Luckily, many of the tenets of traditional demand generation also apply to social media, but social can be woven into various touches you have with potential customers.
Unlimited Priorities, acting in its capacity as sales and marketing agent for Accessible Archives, has coordinated the sale of the Lily database to the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC), a consortium of thirteen research universities: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin and the University of Chicago.
The Lily, the first newspaper for women, was edited by Amelia Bloomer from 1849 to 1854 and by Mary Birdsall during 1855 and 1856, after which it ceased publication. Conceived as a temperance journal – writing deemed the best way for women to work for reform – it gradually began to include articles about other subjects of interest to women, such as child-bearing and education. However, coverage soon turned to the issue of women’s rights, with articles about laws unfair to women and demanding change. Many of these were penned by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a driving force behind the first women’s rights convention, who played a leadership role in the women’s rights movement for fifty years.
All CIC members will receive permanent access to The Lily.
Customers are the essential component of every business. No customers, no revenue, no capacity to pay expenses. How you treat customers and the population of not yet customers will drive your business going forward.
How you embrace and promote customer service needs evaluation on a continuing basis.
– As a retailer, is it only to sell what is in inventory? – As a service provider, is it only to answer the telephone when it rings? – As a CPA, is it only finishing the tax return? – As a Doctor, is it only to treat the ailment? – As writer, is it only writing for your own amusement?
Customer service is bookended with customer relationships. This demands more than just facilitating when the customer shows up to buy. Today, people who do business with you demand a sense of a relationship that provides products, services and a sense that they are being treated as a friend of the company. Without relationships, the buyer is not a customer, just one side of a financial transaction. One and done transactions will not entice the customer to return or recommend you. Your company must create and/or enhance your relationships with everyone who has contact with your organization.
As a company, find ways to enhance how your employees interact with customers, each other and management
As a seller, develop a relationship so you can learn what your customer wants to buy next
As a buyer, be willing to engage in a relationship with your provider because it will improve every part of service that you anticipate receiving
When communicating, replace coffee conversation with story telling that can promote relationships
Always remember that good business is more than one transaction
This process of developing relationships will energize both your business and your personal life. Start with imagining how it would look to have relationships with customers. When you have that visual, explore and discover ways to actually make it happen. Here are a few ideas to ponder:
Call customers and vendors to have a conversation
Based on size of company, encourage group meetings to discuss how best to relate with customers
Meetings are only good when ideas come forward and actionable items are created
Try new ways, old ways and combinations. Keep what works and continue exploring for more
Ask customers what you can do to improve their business
Never be afraid of change when the results have opportunities to make things better. Assess problems you are trying to solve today. If you are using 20th century problem solving methods, perhaps a different process can carry you to a better solution. Implementing better solutions will guide you to better customer support, service and relationships. Another good idea is to have a conversation with us to facilitate meetings, help you develop and implement plans, set a relationship oriented tone throughout your company
The rise of Social Media has been chronicled as the best and the worst of our culture today. Whatever you think of it personally, you need to know that Social Media can and impact you, your company and the world that surrounds us all.
When a social media message is sent:
– It can be read by a few, thousands or millions – It can be ignored
Here is a current example of how quickly social media messages impact us.
On Mar 5, 2012, a group known as Invisible Children Inc. uploaded a video to YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/user/invisiblechildreninc. The title and content is all about an African warlord named Joseph Kony. The film and campaign by Invisible Children aims to make Joseph Kony famous to raise support for his arrest and set a precedent for international justice.
As of March 10, 9am there have been 65,969,792 views of this video in just five days. Newspapers, TV News, CNN are all covering the impact of this 29 minute video.
Now, you may not have a viral video ready to capture the world’s attention. However, using social media in some form – small, medium, large – will benefit your organization in various ways, such as:
Connect with existing customers
Attract the new and not yet customers
Improve relationships with your employees
Support various causes in your neighborhood
The more people know about you, your products, and your involvement in the community outside of business, the more people will want to develop relationships with you and your company. Have a social media question, contact Unlimited Priorities. Plans for where, when and how need to be explored for ways that will support you and your message.
Whether or not to maintain an online presense is no longer an option for most businesses. Businesses and consumers both are turning to online research when they want to find a vendor or product to fill a need. Ensuring that your business has a solid presence online can help keep your brand and services in the running when someone goes looking for the answers and solutions you can provide.
Many small and medium sized businesses do not have the internal resources to create an online presence that goes beyond the digital equivalent of an introductory brochure.
Forming a marketing consulting partnership with a team of experts like those here at Unlimited Prioritiess, is often the best way for these organizations make the jump to a twenty-first century online presence smoothly and effectively — and without breaking the bank.
Here are eleven things every business services company needs to have as part of their online presence:
1. An Understandable Address
When people are talking about your business and sharing information about your products or services they will need to tell others how to find your website or contact you by email. This means your domain name needs to be clear and easy to communicate in writing and verbally. If you cannot pronounce your website’s address you may need to think about a change or at least a name that can redirect to your site.
2. A Clean Homepage
You must have specific goals in mind when planning your homepage. This may be the first impression you ever make on a potential customer so make sure it is the right impression. When people are researching businesses online they can make a snap judgement about you based on very little information. Your company’s mission should be clear immediately. Web pages are relatively cheap; there is no reason to cram everything onto your homepage.
Your homepage should be welcoming and provide an easy to grasp introduction to your products and services. Keep page elements separated and use short lists so new prospective customer can see and understand your core business at a glance.
3. Findable Pages
Your existing customers know who you are and where to find you. New business can come from a variety of sources, but one major way to ensure that your website can be found by prospective customers is to ensure that your website is built with solid white-hat search engine optimization techniques in mind from the beginning. Search engines read your web pages with programs called crawlers.
Web crawlers have come a long ways in the last few years, but they still need your help to properly index your website and return links to your pages based on search terms entered by their users. By using well crafted pages, complete with quality metadata and good document structure can help your site be found by the right people.
4. Scannable High-Level Pages
Prospective customers will land on your website with a single question in mind. “Does this company provide the products or services I need?” This means that your pages should be crafted to answer this question quickly for a visitor who is just scanning the page quickly. It is hard to resist dumping a lot of information about your company and its great products and services right up front but this should be avoided.
After providing a clear answer to that initial question, you can provide links deeper into your site to pages with plenty of details about your business and services.
5. A Unified Look
Branding goes way past the logo on your letterhead and your business cards. Do not skimp on the services of a skillful designer to create a branding scheme that includes logos suitable for a variety of sizes and uses, fonts, and color palettes. A prospective customer who stops by your booth at a trade show or receives a marketing email from you should recognize you immediately when they land on your website — or vice-versa.
6. Clear Contact Information
Your online presence does not operate in a vacuum. Your site should be designed in a way that ensures visitors are never more than one click away from your contact information. Your contact information should include online and offline methods to reach you.
No matter how complete you feel your website is, there may be prospective customers who want to pick up the phone and verify something they read about you online.
7. Some Customer History
Web giants like eBay and Amazon learned early on that customers like to hear from other customers — even when they know nothing about the person providing feedback. If at all possible your website should contain some testimonials from your existing customers.
Past customers who are willing to give a good reference can go a long ways towards building trust and comfort on the part of new business relationships.
8. A Long Reach
Your website should be a central hub of information about your business and your products and services. Keeping that information limited to just that site is a waste of your online efforts. Look at sites like LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, and Twitter as other avenues where you can keep in touch with prospective customers. If you take the plunge into the world of social media for businesses, make a real effort and stay on top of it.
A Facebook page or Twitter account with a few lonely updates from months or years ago is worse than no presence at all. Share news and information about your business, but also share wider industry news that would be useful to your prospective customers.
Don’t be one of those businesses that fail at the social part of social media.
9. A Visible Human Side
Online communication is easy and is becoming expected by consumers. If you have a presence on social media do not try to hide the fact that human beings are behind the tweets and updates. This is not a suggestion to go wildly off-message, but your social media followers will appreciate the presence of a genuine personality behind the presence.
10. Depth of Expertise
Earlier we talked about making pages scannable with clear information that can be quickly absorbed in a few glances. That is the way to draw in customers by explaining what you can offer. Create additional pages on your site where you explain the how and why of your business offerings.
Albert Einstein is quoted as saying “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” Keep that in mind while writing your deeper explanatory pages. You are writing for a prospective customer with the goal of inspiring confidence in your ability to provide the services they need. Many companies create pages that read like a technical training manual instead of an explanation of their services.
Get a non-expert in your circle to sign off on every page of your site to ensure you are not writing copy that is only meaningful to people who know as much as you do about your business.
11. Fresh and Relevant Website Content
Do not treat your webpage as if it is chiseled in granite. Search engines reward fresh and current content that is relevant and well presented. In your professional life you are always learning as new information becomes available and technologies evolve. Your website should reflect any changes and new information as quickly as possible.
Revisit your entire site at least three times a year and make sure every page is fulfilling its mission in the best way possible based on today’s understanding of your business and your customers needs.
If your business presence online is missing some or all of these critical business building tools, contact us to learn how Unlimited Priorities can help take your business to the next level.
It is essential that you plan how you will disseminate and share your company content in 2012. The digital evolution includes web sites, blog sites, email newsletters, webcasts, audio casts, podcasts, social media everything, and even face to face. Messages need to be managed, consistent and readable.