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Global Marketing

Leading a Social Business

I came across an interesting interview from ADP’s CIO Mike Capone about his thoughts on social media and how a business organization can lead a successful strategy in this area.  While this communications channel is still in its infancy, and there are inherent risks associated with the free exchange of ideas and information between customers and employees, the benefits of social networking far outweigh the risks.  In today’s business environment, either you take on social media or it is going to take on you.

Rubix Cube

 Below are a few tips on how to create a successful corporate social strategy.

Establish policies. Identify and set guidelines on which social networking sites would provide the best benefits for your company.  Keep in mind the core focus of the site, its user demographics and whether the brand aligns with yours.

Educate users. Set rules about social media use and educate with specific examples.  Provide best practices and ‘dos,’ which will make employees’ social efforts more successful. Corporate social media guidelines should be just restrictive enough to keep people and the brand safe.

Engage in social communities. Be social. The premise of social networks is for people to interact, not to simply push a message out or shamelessly shill products/services without providing feedback or response when questioned. Companies need to get involved in conversations with their audience, and spend more time listening whether it be to  prospects, customers, competitors, partners or influencers.

Measure success. Social networks might be a mostly inexpensive way to communicate with customers, but companies should still track the ROI of their time and energy engaging employees on these sites.  Businesses need to determine the results they would like to get from targeted sites and scheduled activities, then analyze which ones worked best for their customers and brand.  The information collected, can then be utilized to drive demand and business decisions.

Be human. Companies should let their human side shine through and leverage the personal touch of social networking. Being authentic can go a long way to building a successful social media presence, and the potential rewards for increased audience and customer loyalty are great.

Social networking is a necessary activity in the course of business today, and it truly is a fantastic way to leverage communication channels that were not even available as recently as 5-10 years ago.  It provides genuine opportunities for real-time feedback, innovation, inspiration and ideation. In the 21st Century, companies need to proactively harness the power of social media, as one way to manage and grow their brand and propel their narrative.  Be Social. Lead Social!

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Global Marketing

Is the costumer always right?

By Joshua Cichuniec

Having dealt with many customers over the years, some great and some I would have liked to slap across the face, living by the mantra that “the costumer is always right” has no place in a successful customer retention program.  Since customers ultimately become your unpaid marketing force, it’s a good idea to have an effective customer retention program. Below are simple tips that good customer retention programs should have:

Focus on the customers who add or can add value to your business — you can’t please everyone.  It is best to understand this tip as soon as possible.  I’ve worked with managers who thought they could; consequently, they often times had their entire staff running in circles to please people who had absolutely no effect on the success of the business.  Focus on the customers who add or can add value to your business.

Develop a plan to handle unhappy costumers — don’t argue with a costumer, EVER! Fighting fire with fire will not diffuse a situation, but only make matters worse.  Let the customer vent, politely and professionally handle the situation, and move on.  Don’t take it personally. It’s good to develop thick skin because, no matter what line of business you’re in, not all costumers will be warm and fuzzy. I’ve found it equally important to train my staff to do the same.

Engage customers as individuals — Alex Lawrance, an entrepreneur and contributor to Forbes.com makes a great point about not just connecting with customers via Facebook or Twitter, but making sure you’re routinely engaging them and going as far as sending personal cards during holidays and on other such occasions.  It seems Facebook users or Twitter followers fall into the trap of making it a single goal to gain as many friends on their page as possible.  Falling into this trap seems to result in having nearly no interaction with one-half to two-thirds of their “friends” after the initial acquisition of their allegiance.

Remind your staff the importance of costumer retention — I like to post simple quotes around the office to help remind my staff of the importance of the value our customers bring to our business.  Some examples include:

“It takes years to win a customer and only seconds to lose one.” — Catherine DeVrye

“Attracting new customers will cost your company 5 times more than keeping an existing customer.”  — Lee Resource Inc. 

“A 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75%.”     — Bain and Co

Challenge your staff to create more value for the customer — Each month, I make a point to discuss with my staff the value we create for our customers.  We discuss the price that we offer our product at, where each of us would go with that same amount of money if we had it to spend, and the service or value we would expect.  I feel this helps put the work we produce each day into perspective and acts as a benchmark for what each of us can change to increase the value we create. If your customers feel they’re getting more for their money, the likelihood of them returning or offering a positive sales pitch on your behalf to your future customers is high.

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Global Marketing

How else can businesses utilize the Web to connect to its costumers?

By Joshua Cichuniec

On my search to answer the question, “How else can businesses utilize the web to connect to its customers?” I was led to a bio of the man that started it all — Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web.  Currently the founder and director of World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), Berners-Lee, along with W3C’s CEO Dr. Jeffrey Jaffe and staff, held a workshop this past November exploring the potential of incorporating the Open Web Platform in the automotive industry.  Below are a few excerpts from the workshop study that sum up the purpose of exploring this concept:

We live in a connected world, and people will increasingly expect to have access to applications and services whilst on the road. Safety is critical to realizing the potential, and there is an opportunity to enable people to be better and safer drivers through increased situational awareness. Web technologies are strategically important, and W3C is seeking to launch standards work to support the adoption of Web technologies in automotive contexts.

Participants discussed how location-based services, enhanced safety, entertainment, and integration of social networking will benefit drivers and passengers. In addition, they looked at business drivers for Web technology adoption such as the ability to attract customers with convenient and innovative services, maintain ongoing customer relations, address regulatory requirements, manage mobile payments, and lower development costs.

The entirety of this summary can be read at:

http://www.w3.org/2012/08/web-and-automotive/summary.html

On February 21, 2013, a W3C press release announced the launching of the Automotive and Web Platform Business Group to accelerate the fusion of the web with the automotive industry.

http://www.w3.org/2013/02/autobg.html

I found the testimonials especially interesting.  In particular, eBay/PayPal Principle Architect Daniel Austin’s statement, “Automobiles are mobile devices too, and the same challenges apply,” has me completely looking at cars from a different perspective.  It has been interesting to see how advancements in technology change a product’s image. I guess it’s time to think about our cars the same way we think about our smartphones.

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Global Marketing

Kill Them With Information? Why Lethal Generosity Works.

We have all heard of the sayings “Kill Them With Kindness” and “Kill Them With Laughter”, but what about “Kill Them with Information”.   That is the concept behind Lethal Generosity, first coined by social media pioneer Shel Israel in 2008.  Lethal Generosity purports that the people and companies who are most generous in social media companies are also the most influential.  And those who just promote their self-serving agenda very often fail.  By being more generous to customers (e.g. posting the most tips, links, advice, case studies, best practices that followers find useful) than their competitors, a company can essentially eclipse them in the eyes of people who would buy or recommend their products or services.

Generosity Image Hands_Money

With the proliferation of media channels and content providers, it is becoming increasingly difficult for companies to cut through the clutter, grab the attention of their target audience and communicate the value proposition of their products and/or services.  The effectiveness of traditional TV, radio and print communication has diminished, and been supplanted by internet and the ubiquitous nature of social media.  It is no longer enough to tell people about your products/services, companies must be seen as genuine, credible and authoritative in their area(s) of expertise.

By freely giving away their expertise and educating customers, companies can be positioned as the leading expert in an industry.  This in turn can help solidify the relationship between brand and consumer, and make it exceedingly difficult for any other product, or competitive service to displace this bond.

An example of Lethal Generosity can be seen through a data storage community set up by Hitachi Data Systems as a wiki that became very active.  Interestingly, the site was not branded as an HDS wiki, but rather opened up to the entire data storage community including other vendors, as well as customers, analysts, press and the like. Out of this anonymous act of generosity came a fascinating, but unsurprising development, the community recognized HDS’ contribution and the motives behind it and started calling the site “the HDS wiki”.  The end result was that HDS was seen as the thought leader and in Shel Israel’s words: “Every time a competitor joined into the wiki conversation, it re-enforced Hitachi’s leadership.” If they did not join, the competitor was visibly boycotting a place customers found valuable.

“In social media, the best way to beat the competition is to be more generous with anything that your customer values and keep their agenda at the heart of everything your company does online.” – Stan Woods

Keep Killing Them With Lethal Generosity!