Tag Archives: shopper media

Socializing the Customer Experience

Written by Brad Lawless

Do Your Social Accounts Reflect Your Customer Service Ethos?

Do Your Social Accounts Truly Represent Your Brand Promise?

Shopper Social Marketing Shouldn’t End at the Cash Register

The Internet provides unlimited access to product and pricing information along a shopper’s path to purchase. While some choose to research a product at home on their laptop or tablet, others stand in front of one retailer’s shelf and use their smartphone to discover product details or find competitive pricing from other retailers.

Forrester analysts predicted that 50% of American shoppers would “access the Internet multiple times a day, from multiple locations, with at least three devices” by the end of 2013. These ultra-connected shoppers expect not only always-on access to information but also want new levels of responsiveness from brands and retailers in their experiences as customers.

Social media has transformed the way many brands market to their shoppers, but few companies truly understand how social content and platforms can help them in their customer experience management efforts. According to 360Connext.com, “86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience, but only 1% of customers feel that organizations consistently meet, or exceed, their expectations.” Engaging with fans through social platforms can definitely help a company exceed, or at the very least, meet the expectations of those shoppers.

I recently sat down with Jeannie Walters, 360Connext CEO, to discuss the changing nature of customer experience in the ever evolving world of social media.

Brad: What are the customer experience table stakes for companies today? In other words, what must companies do to ensure good customer experiences with social media?

Jeannie: Companies need to have a plan of action for responding to customers’ social media inquires, and then they actually need to follow through and respond. Customers today expect real time responses in social and digital. When they look for help in those channels, you need to be ready to respond or manage their expectations regarding other places they need to go to find answers to their questions.

Brad: How has social media changed general expectations for customers today and is it reasonable?

Jeannie: Customers want their problems solved. Expectations change along with emotions. If I’ve already called the store or had something repaired and it breaks again, my emotions start to escalate. People are irrational. When we get upset, we expect someone to quickly address our reason for getting upset.

Brad: What’s the benefit to companies for addressing customer concerns in a timely manner?

Jeannie: Loyalty can go up if you if you address concerns in the right way, if you solve a problem with empathy and compassion. I’ve seen loyalty ratings swing as much as 12% in those cases.

I recently read of a customer experience experiment in the medical industry. For years, doctors have been advised by lawyers never to apologize for mistakes. The lawyers felt apologies would open up potential for increased malpractice suits. In this case, the researchers found that simple apologies actually decreased the incidents of malpractice suits.

Brad: What’s the biggest customer service gaffe you’ve seen online?

Jeannie: I don’t want to name specific brands, but the worst thing is when the person representing the brand becomes personally offended and starts to respond to complaints as an individual. At that point, they start lashing out at people under their care. I think we’re beyond some of that due to smarter hiring practices. Today’s social media manager is necessarily much more savvy than people doing the job a few years ago.

A more consistent issue is neglect. If a product or restaurant receives a 4-star review online, that post often contains clues on why the reviewer withheld the critical 5th star. Most companies ignore the advice their customers give on how to move from adequacy to excellence.

People love to focus on the practice of social media complaints, but many brands never respond to the natural advocates talking positively about their brand. A simple thanks for some online support will go a long way in transforming a once-in-a-while cheerleader into a passionate fan.

Brad: What’s the best customer service example you’ve seen in social?

Jeannie: Warby-Parker — They are exceptional. They go out of their way to give video shout-outs to people who are fans. I mentioned them once in a blog post and they hit me up on Twitter that same day.

Brad: What still can’t be done in social?

Jeannie: Anything complicated that requires a lot of touch points.

Last year, I experienced so much pain just ordering a Father’s Day grill. I paid extra to have someone come and set it up. They arrived late, dropped the box on my porch and left. I tried to reach someone via social, but realized the big brand was too siloed to do anything about specific about deliveries. The social manager had no pull with the delivery department, so I Just stuck to calling them on the phone.

When people use social to get product info, they don’t want to talk with the person managing the brand’s Twitter account. They want direct access to a product expert.

Brad: What one piece of advice would you give companies to improve their social customer experience management?

Jeannie: It starts with the foundation of the promise. What are you promising in your customer experience? Companies should completely understand the foundation of their customer experience promise and ensure their  social accounts reflect that ethos.

Most brands get very excited about the promise of social, but their resulting implementations come across as very dry or miss the brand promise. Solving a shopper’s problems with social means not only getting them necessary information prior to the sales, but staying around to support them with answers and additional usage information after they take the product home.

 

 

 

Influencers versus Inserts: Is Blog Marketing the Future?

Written by Ted Rubin

The co-founder of Collective Bias, John Andrews, recently told Marketing Daily that there are changes in the wind regarding shopper and blog marketing and the last bastion of print media advertising to still be alive and kicking, the Free-Standing Insert (FSI) .

It’s amazing to me the amount of money that’s still dumped into coupons and inserts in the retail space. According to the global market research company Kantar Media, more than $419 billion in consumer incentives were delivered via FSI coupons, with retail giants Wal-Mart and Walgreens taking top position. However, with print newspapers shutting down circulation and the shift in consumer focus from print and television to internet and social channels, I think the writing’s on the wall. It’s just that brands don’t know where to put those dollars yet, and it’s comfortable to hold onto whatever print vehicle is still giving somewhat of a return—especially during tough economic times.

Marketing folks predicted a faster shift to digital mediums, but circulars are still a stubborn holdout. John thinks the “Print Cliff” is coming, and he predicts 2013 will be the year everything starts to change.  So where will brands shift their current FSI marketing dollars?

With people spending more time online, sharing on social platforms and accessing information using mobile devices, the smart money will be in attracting influencers in the digital media space to recommend products and services. However, that requires a different mindset than the traditional “interruption advertising” mentality. Today’s consumers like interesting, contextual content, recommendations, reviews and information when they’re seeking to buy something—and they can find pages and pages of it by searching online. That’s where brands need to be. While their customers still use coupons and incentives, they’re looking for them in the digital space—not in print circulars.

That’s why Collective Bias was formed— to create New Media options that position brands in the space that’s gaining the most traction with today’s shoppers. Taking advantage of the power of the social graph (and integrating it with what we call the “Family graph”) for generating, at scale, targeted, contextual influencer content in a story telling narrative. Done in a way shoppers like to receive it… such as blog posts, how-to videos, attractive photo montages. We’re seeing brands increasingly grow returns on their marketing dollars in this format as they make a gradual shift away from print.

I don’t think it will be too long before the FSI will go the way of the dinosaur. In a few years most of them will not even be available, but digital influencer content can serve as a viable alternative. Established bloggers and other influencers concentrate on giving value, and their audiences trust them to keep providing that value. That’s where today’s consumers are going. By developing relationships with micro-media publishers, who as a group create content strategically, and shifting to “advertorial” content rather than advertising pitches, you can avoid throwing marketing dollars off the fast-approaching print cliff, and begin using those dollars more efficiently and effectively.

Inserts still have some life left, so I don’t think this is going to take place overnight. But trust me—it’s only a matter of time. Smart brands are already moving in the direction of emotionally connected content, social sharing and relationship building… and seeing dramatic results. Feel free to reach out and let us show you at Collective Bias… or read about some of them in my new book, Return on Relationship.

Relationship Killers: Four of the WORST Mistakes Brands Make in Social Media

The biggest goal for any brand delving into social media should be to develop quality, productive relationships. That’s the bottom line. However, many brands still “don’t get it,” and consistently make mistakes that are damaging to them in social media and therefore damaging to their brand. In my opinion, there are four big no-no’s that not only kill those all-important relationships, but also tarnish your reputation:

1. Broadcasting:  Blasting out sales messages rather than listening and engaging has got to be the number one relationship killer of all time. Bar none. People hate to be sold—especially on social channels, where their main objective is to talk, get opinions, relax and have fun, or find answers to pressing problems. When a brand spends the majority of its time broadcasting, it’s a clear message to followers that they’re not interested in real, two-way communication.

Listening should be your first priority, followed by engagement. Don’t try to sell to people until you’ve earned their trust!

2. Taking Followers Offline to Resolve Issues:  If someone has a problem and comes to your social presence to try to get it resolved, the worst thing you can do is shunt them off to a customer service contact with a “form letter” response. Too often I see… “follow us so we can DM you,” on Twitter, or a quick move to traditional customer service channels on Facebook. People have an innate need to be validated—and “showing them the hand” is the fastest way to sour a customer relationship. Sometimes there are things that have to be resolved offline for legal issues, but the majority of complaints or requests for help should be addressed promptly and publicly in social channels. At the very least, if you MUST send them offline, do so in a friendly, personal manner. Address them by name, thank them for bringing the problem to your attention, and so on. Walk a mile in your customer’s shoes—how do you feel when you’re ignored or made to jump through hoops by a company you deal with?

Responding publicly has another important, beneficial, and cost saving benefit. Other people with the same issue, and you can/should assume there are many more, can receive resolution via your response, and see how you interact… and then make their own judgments about your brand character based on those interactions. If you’re doing it right, you will build brand advocates in the process, and when/if needed your best brand advocates will support you when they see that kind of open, honest communication.

3. Having No Brand Personality:  People who spend time on social media like to spend time with people—not logos. If you have a team of employees handling your social responses, don’t make them hide behind the brand logo when they interact with followers—give them a voice and a face. Ford does a great job of this with @ScottMonty building his personal brand along with theirs. Scott interacts with followers as himself, not the Ford brand. This humanizes the brand and fosters good communication. Being able to see the team members behind the company and interacting with them personally makes a big difference in fan loyalty.

When a company censors its employees and doesn’t allow them to participate in social discussion surrounding the brand, it’s usually because they’re afraid of “what might happen if…” They’re afraid they’ll spend too much time on social or say the wrong things. These issues can be resolved with a comprehensive social media policy so all employees know how and when they can and should interact. Remember, your employees should be some of your best advocates, and a natural extension of your “public face.”  You can’t do social right with employee censorship. Your people are your company’s personality. Let them shine for you. And… if you don’t trust your employees, maybe you have the wrong employees, or a business approach that will be difficult to sustain in this hyper-connected world.

4.  Making Social a Direct Marketing Channel:  Can you develop a relationship with a piece of direct mail? A TV commercial? A newspaper ad? An email blast? Of course not! Yet many brands treat social as an extension of their direct marketing efforts—mainly because that’s all they know. They’re used to handing off their marketing to an advertising agency and having them run with it so they can get on with their day. They think in terms of ROI formulas, but falter when it comes to measuring the effectiveness of one-on-one networking.  If that’s you, don’t feel too bad—it’s a habit that’s been drummed into you and hard to break. But you’ve got to break it! Adopt a whole new mindset around social, and think in terms of building relationships and an emotional connection to your brand, or you’ll always be frustrated with your results. Remember… Social Media drives engagement, engagement drives loyalty, and loyalty correlates directly to increased sales. Return on Relationship™ = ROI.

This goes back to the “Broadcasting” mistake I mentioned earlier. Think in terms of providing helpful content, fun ways to communicate, sharing information and asking questions. Leave the direct marketing stuff in traditional channels. Get a sense of who your audience is and give them what they’re looking for in your social communications, or you’ll get “un-followed” or ignored in a hurry.

What other “relationship killers” have you come across when dealing with brands online, and how do you think they could be avoided? Conversely, which brands have you noticed that are “getting it right” in social media when it comes to Return on Relationship™?

Originally posted at TedRubin.com

Pinterest Image Pinner From Collective Bias

Written  by Jay Thornton

As most of you have noticed, the dev team over at Collective Bias have been hard at work developing new technology to capture, syndicate, and analyze shopper behavior over the past few months. Our latest offering to that effort is our Pinterest Image Pinner for WordPress blogs.

The concept was simple. Create a plugin that allows each image (over a certain size) to be pinned simply to pinterest by anyone who visits the blog. Execution was fairly simple. Chris Whittle, our resident mad scientist, mixed up some jQuery magic that automatically appends Pinterest code to any images it finds. The result is a very simple to use plugin that does just what you want it to do… syndicate your posts and images to Pinterest.

All you’ve got to do to add the Pinterest Image Pinner from Collective Bias is download the plugin from WordPress, install the plugin and activate away. There are only a few settings that you’ll have to address:

  • JQuery selector for what images are, and are not to be pinned
  • Minimum width and height of image to be pinned

Basically, tell it what to do. Don’t want your author avatar to be pinned, set your minimum sizes to something larger than the size of the avatar or mark the div name of the avatar in the “JQuery selector for what images are not to be pinned.

So that’s about it. Visit WordPress and download away! To this point, we’ve already had about 125 downloads and only a couple of bugs. Should you have any bugs, post them at WordPress and we’ll take care of it as soon as possible. Also, we’d love to get some ratings so if you love the plugin, throw a few stars our way!

Related Links:
http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/cb-pinterest-image-pinner/
http://wordpress.org/tags/cb-pinterest-image-pinner?forum_id=10

20 Important Twitter Goals and Objectives for Business

Written by Ted Rubin

Many are asking what ROI they can get from Twitter. I believe when reviewing the following goals and objectives you will get a better understanding of the potential value. The basis of this list was posted by my friend and business associate Cheryl Burgess. I have expanded and edited with my input.

1.     First and foremost is to grow an engaged and relevant following

2.     Almost as important as #1 is… if you haven’t started already, start NOW!

3.     Generating brand awareness and business leads

4.     Servicing customers and lowering customer service inquires via traditional channels

5.     Expanding reach and creating buzz

6.     Sharing thought-leadership & participating in industry conversation

7.     Gaining competitive intelligence

8.     Monitoring your brand’s reputation in real time

9.     Building relationships with community

10.  Distributing rich SEO content

11.  Offering special discounts, white papers, blog posts

12.  Crowdsourcing ideas, products, etc.

13.  Finding, cultivating influencers and brand advocates

14.  Obtaining customer feedback on potential new offerings

15.  Developing relationships with bloggers and other micro media producers

16.  Establishing relationships and getting on the radar of journalists

17.  Recruiting for freelancers, permanent hires and interns

18.  Establishing brand leadership position by communicating, reinforcing vision, purpose, differentiation, relevance, etc.

19.  The Ability to proactively build a personal brand for Founders/Executives to represent your Brand/Business.

20.  Return on Relationship™… simply put the value that is accrued by a person or brand due to nurturing a relationship. ROI is simple $’s and cents. ROR is the value (both perceived and real) that will accrue over time through loyalty, recommendations and sharing.

Technology is Changing, but Don’t Panic—People are Still People!

Written by Ted Rubin

Technology is always on the move—and we’ve made more technological advances in the last decade than any of us alive today have experienced in a generation. For instance, did you know that every 60 seconds, over 700 computers, 80 iPads, and 925 iPhones are sold today? Not to mention the monstrous amount of data we’re creating now. Over 1,800 Terabytes of data are created every minute, which is enough data to fill more than 2.6 million CDs!

We’re also consuming information differently than we did a decade ago. Brick-and-mortar book stores are going under in favor of online shopping and tablet e-readers… movie rental stores are disappearing in favor of subscription services… everything’s “going digital,” including our social lives. Tablets, apps, and smarter-than-ever smartphones now rule the day.

Some marketers are reacting to these rapid changes by telling us that the sky is falling. Email is dead…storytelling is dead… social media is taking over… nobody has time to read anymore… panic in the streets!

Yes, technology has forever changed the way we communicate, and there’s no going back. However, the same marketing principles apply to humans now that applied to them decades ago. The sky isn’t falling. People still love stories; they still respond to testimonials/reviews (maybe now more than ever); they still buy for the same reasons. They just look for and find information on different channels now. Also, they are pickier about how much information they consume and where they spend their time.

So what does that mean for marketers today? Well, this is where paying attention to social trends is important, because, people are driving these trends. Your customers share conversation about brands, make recommendations to each other based on experience, and seek out information that helps them make buying decisions. They’re just using new media/social tools to do it… and those tools make all this not only more valuable for brands, but absolutely imperative they foster, encourage AND participate. For instance, people still love to be visually entertained—only now, the power of YouTube takes us beyond TV and even viral videos, and into the realm of consumer (and brand) education and relationship building.

Social media tools don’t change what motivates people to buy. The marketing funnel still exists; we still have to attract an audience to our message and nurture them toward conversion. We just don’t have to wait for people to hop into our funnel based on reaction to display ads, TV commercials or direct mail. Social gives us a way to be proactive about building relationships through active listening and informed information-sharing. So now we can converse with prospects—build a rapport—find out what they want and deliver it. We’re still adding them to our marketing funnels, but essentially they’re already primed. They’ve had a chance to explore us, talk to us, take a deeper look at our content, and share their experiences with others—in many instances, before a single marketing message goes out.

Yes, there are still ads, and PPC is still a powerful tool. However, thanks to the data explosion provided by the social graph and technology advancements, even ad performance can be improved. We now have a faster, more efficient way of gathering data, creating ads, getting them in front of our niche markets, testing them and tweaking them to respond to trends almost in real time. That’s the power (and the beauty) of the digital revolution.

So don’t panic; your customers haven’t changed… they’re essentially the same consumers of information that they always were. They still respond to perceived value and relevancy, and they still love to be entertained and share stories. Social media doesn’t change them as much as it changes where (and how) conversation about our brands takes place.

The use of social media, and the “Return on Relationship™” it affords, is a two-way street. By listening more and broadcasting less, by engaging in conversation, we can learn more about our prospects and what they really want. And by changing how, where and when we communicate, we can make their experience with us much more rewarding and satisfying.

I would call that a win-win, wouldn’t you?

The “Real” Social Media Super Bowl

Written by Ted Rubin

Many are now talking about Super Bowl XLVI being the first “Social” Super Bowl.  It truly was, as an event, due to efforts of the Super Bowl’s host committee and their use of a Social Media Command Center.

In my opinion, the Super Bowl Social Media Center is proof that social media is now being taken seriously. It is not just an option that is a last minute throw in. Social media is now getting recognition as a legitimate news source, a practical and effective way to communicate with a large number of people in an interactive and engaging format. In addition this format enables, and more importantly encourages, the sharing of this information and interaction.

Brands spent more than ever this year on their Super Bowl advertisements and are now patting themselves on the back for their herculean efforts and competing to show whose commercials drew the most accolades.  In my opinion, much of those vast expenditures could have been better spent… or at the very least a portion should be devoted in the future to interaction and engagement that gives the brands a view into the hearts and minds of their consumers.

Social media, when executed, integrated and leveraged properly and strategically, can and will do more for a brand than a one-time commercial entertainment spend. Take for example the Pepsi and Coke commercials.  Coke and Pepsi both spent millions of dollars between the animated bears, Elton John and Flavor Flav in their commercials, but did either of those spends do anything to truly connect with shoppers? They are entertainment and the same as sponsorship of any entertainment event. They have value, certainly, as they make their names top-of-mind, bring a smile to the face of millions and create conversation… all valuable in the branding world. But… is that conversation about the brand or about the entertainment?  Social is a direct link that builds connections, relationships and allows the consumers to express what it all means to them in their lives, the way they live and ultimately in how they shop. I think the idea here is that consumers are looking to connect with each other and with brands to interact, provide feedback and be recognized.

For example, Twitter parties connect to hundreds of influential shoppers that broadcast to potentially millions of other shoppers. If orchestrated correctly during an event, and on a regular basis, and executed/connected to a myriad of other user-generated media, will create a more valuable connection… and be a door to future engagement.

The marketing paradigm is shifting with much greater “power to the people” facilitated by social media. If you want to continue to reach your market, it’s not just about advertising any more, but about building relationships. Just activating your audience, however, is not enough. A brand always needs to be working to keep these valued influencer and advocate relationships alive and strong and build an emotional connection. Always remember that brand loyalty declines due to lack of relevance — this has been evident for years and is clearly a direct result of not listening… and NOT hearing when you do listen. When building a social media presence, building relationships through engaging as many people by truly interacting with them, and doing what I call “looking them in the eye digitally,” is what will build value and loyalty for the long-term. Always keep in mind that social media’s incredible power is in allowing us to instantaneously connect to, interact with, and build relationships with our audience of thousands to gain high-value end results… but if you do not make them feel valued and speak to them on their terms, and bring value to the table, the results will be underwhelming and you will not be utilizing social for its true value and it will mean little more than those “branding” entertainment events.

Think REPUTATION, not ranking… CONNECTION, not network… LOYALTY, not celebrity.

Social Media drives engagement, engagement drives loyalty, and loyalty correlates directly to increased sales. Return on Relationship™ = ROI.

 

Want Better Return on Relationship?… Start “Liking” Them!

Written by Ted Rubin

Time and time again, I hear marketers cry the blues that they have a hard time making their social media efforts pay off.  “How can I create content that gets more engagement?” they ask. “I’m blogging, but nobody’s listening… I’m not getting any response to my tweets… Nobody’s ‘Liking’ my new Facebook page!”

What are they doing wrong? Well primarily, there is a misconception about social that “if you build it, they will come,” which couldn’t be further from the truth. You can have a killer website, a great looking Facebook page, Twitter and YouTube branding—the works. But if you’re not reaching out to comment on other people’s posts, sharing other people’s good content, actively helping where you can, and generally joining in the conversation on these channels, then what you’re doing is like sitting on the side of a busy highway with a “Please Like Me” sign over your head. Lots of luck with that.

If you want more from your social media activities, then give your customers and prospects a reason to take the time out of their busy lives to like you. They’re “up to here” with ad messages. Those fall on deaf ears. They’re looking for answers to their questions, solutions to their problems, and they’re also looking to make real, one-on-one connections with real people (Hint: It’s called networking).

For marketers, however, thinking about approaching social media from a networking aspect rather than a marketing aspect can be difficult—especially if you’re used to traditional marketing and measuring return on broadcast messaging (one-way, convince-and-convert messages to your audiences on TV, radio, direct mail, email or online ads). You may have heard from ad agencies that social isn’t really all that different—it’s just another kind of media. That’s precisely the wrong approach—people who spend time on social channels do so to network, build relationships, engage and interact. To be successful on social channels you need to be engaged and offer value!

There’s no lazy way out of this, folks. If you want the eyes and ears of your prospects focused on you, then take a leaf from physical networking experts and develop a “giver’s gain” philosophy when using social media.

For instance, traditional networking groups are a prime example of physical, one-on-one networking that really works. By making a commitment to show up to weekly meetings with fellow business owners, listening to their needs, and making a concerted effort to bring them referrals and help them get more customers, participants gain referrals in return. The amount of referrals they get tends to correlate directly to the amount of “giving” they do—which requires them to develop relationships with each other and develop trust. Those that attend only to blather about themselves don’t last long—it’s the deep relationships that develop over time that really produce results.

Developing fruitful relationships in social channels requires the same “giver’s gain” philosophy, and takes the same amount of dedication and work:

  • Get to know your customers/prospects by actively listening to their needs in social channels
  • Reach out to others without waiting for them to “Like” you first
  • Contribute to conversations where you can provide value (not a sales pitch)
  • Always be thinking of ways to help others solve problems
  • Introduce people when appropriate
  • Be genuine in your responses and outreach
  • Don’t expect reciprocation, but always strive to give it when someone reaches out to you

In many ways, networking on social channels is like “going back to our roots” as physical networkers. Both are about building relationships. However, those who take themselves out of the equation and focus on the needs of others can expect to get a better Return on Relationship™.  

Brands need to attract customers, but breaking through the clutter is challenging. Stand out by “Liking” them before they “Like” you

Marketing 101: Lessons Marketers Shouldn’t Forget

Written by Ted Rubin

In watching the social media revolution unfold around us over the past several years, there’s a recurring theme that keeps popping up. I see it all the time in discussions on “best practices” and in forums and blogs where marketers lament the fact that you can’t measure ROI in social and that marketing (from blog marketing to new social platforms) has completely changed. The “gurus” out there say it’s a brand new world—the past is past—we have to throw out the old and create the new, yada, yada, yada.

You know what I say to that? Phooey!

The number ONE reason some marketers fail when they try to use social media is that they DON’T take into account important traditional marketing lessons from the past—and I’m talking Plain Jane, Vanilla Manilla lessons that should be the bread and butter for any marketer. Social media doesn’t supplant traditional marketing practices and tenants. In fact, it enhances it when handled correctly.

Sure, social media is a different animal from traditional media. People use it for different reasons, there are unspoken “rules of conduct” for different platforms, and it’s a two-way street for communication, not a one-way advertising platform like TV or direct mail. But people are people, as they have been for thousands of years. They buy for the same reasons now as they did when they wore animal skins and lived in caves—because they want something or perceive a need for it.

Contrary to popular belief, people don’t suddenly sprout two heads when they sit in front of a computer monitor or pull out their mobile phone to look something up. In fact, just look at history. They didn’t sprout two heads when radio came along—or television—or cell phones—or any other communication medium for that matter. We didn’t re-invent our species; we just learned to communicate using different channels. We’re still motivated by the same buying emotions.

So here are Three Key Marketing 101 Lessons I think we need to remember when using social:

  1. You are NOT Your Customer—Do Your Research:  One of the most important lessons every marketer should remember is to market to your target—not yourself.  Yet how many times does your inner voice tell you “They’ll never buy that…?”  Don’t spout information YOU THINK your market wants to hear. Listen to your prospects first—and social is just about the greatest listening tool ever invented.  It’s focus groups on steroids! Use social media to listen to who your ideal customer is and what she wants before you start messaging.
  2. Frequency Isn’t a Bad Thing: Social reach and frequency are tangential to good marketing, as long as your content is relevantto your market. How many times does a potential target need to see your message before they convert? You might as well ask how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop (remember that old TV commercial?). Some will bite after a dozen licks; for others, it’s three—depends on where your audience is in a given moment when they see your message. And remember, you’re not just talking to one person here—you’re getting in front of your audience’s friends and their friends as well. The more the merrier. So do not forget about good ole “reach and frequency.”
  3. Story is Important: Remember the power of storytelling, and use it in your communications. People can’t resist a good story. It’s an emotional connection bridge that is built into our human DNA. Social enhances it by allowing more consumers to share more stories about more of the products they see, buy and use.   Another thing to remember about stories is that people are already having conversation about your brand, and you can’t necessarily control that. Companies who try to stem the tide of a bad story by trying to control the message find this out the hard way. However, you can INFLUENCE the kind of stories that are told about you by being involved in the conversation, transparent in your use of social media, and responsive to the needs of your customers, both online and offline.

These are just three lessons for now. There are many more that have been shuffled aside. Personally, I think every college student graduating with a marketing degree, every graduating MBA student, and those in the marketing department of brands, agencies and anyone responsible for marketing and especially social media, should have to re-learn Marketing 101. From here on out, social is going to play a principle role in doing business—but that doesn’t mean we throw out the baby with the bathwater.

 

Permission Marketing: Why Brands Should Be(a)ware!

Written by Ted Rubin

Social Marketing is ultimate in Permission Marketing, and therefore it carries the ultimate marketing danger with it: taking away the permission is totally in the consumers’ control.  Brands be(a)ware!

Permission Marketing puts the power in the consumer’s hands, by requiring that the marketers send promotional messages only to consumers who have given marketers permission to do so, whether explicitly (opt-in email list, for example) or implicitly (internet search).

On one hand this is fantastic because it gives marketers a chance to provide relevant information to interested parties, but on the other hand, brands need to pay all kinds of attention to how they’re using Permission Marketing, because the consumer can pull their interest plug in a heartbeat.

So how can we keep consumers from “opting out” of our brand messages?

It’s only fitting that part of the answer comes from Seth Godin’s definition of Permission Marketing:

“Permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them.”

1.     Permission is a privilege, not a right.

Consumers do not owe us their attention, and they certainly do not owe us their permission.  We need to EARN their permission, and that’s not done by a gimmick or a flashy set of ads.

Permission is earned through quality offers, genuine interest in and deep understanding of consumer preferences/needs, and a consistent track record that builds trust.  Keep the trust -> keep the permission -> keep the consumer.

2.     Relevance is king.  

We all hear daily that content is king – so let’s take that one level further and point out that it’s not just the volume or brilliance of content that matters to your consumers, it is how that content relates to them.  If content is not relevant to your consumer, it is nothing more than a waste of your time and a reason for the consumer to take away permission for ongoing interaction with you.

 3. It’s all about relationships.

People must come first – in your growth strategies, in your marketing plans, and in every social media interaction that you have.  When you place highest priority on people, you take the time to do all those hugely important things that build relationships:

  • You operate from a mindset of SERVICE
  • You think about what you can GIVE TO your consumers, rather than take from them.
  • You ask them questions, listen to and clarify their answers, and get to know their pain points and what delights them.
  • You base your innovations on what CONSUMERS actually need and want.

And the result?  You get and keep your consumers’ permission to continue and build your relationship with them.   In other words, permission is your ROR (Return on Relationship™).

 As you head into 2012, remember that Permission Marketing is a two-way street, and the traffic signals are controlled by consumers.  Be their Green Light… not their stop sign!