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The selfie - has your brand got the picture?

March 16, 2015 by Marketing Donut contributor

Selfie{{}}The world seems to be obsessed with selfies. But is your brand maximising the benefits of this trend?

Many marketers look down on the selfie, seeing it as a teen trend, one that promotes narcissism and shameless self-promotion.

But on Instagram there are over 53 million photos tagged simply with the hashtag #selfie. Selfies are also trending on Twitter and Facebook.

To stay current in this fast-moving, saturated marketplace, brands need to take notice of trends. So why are so many brands are still ignoring the selfie? It may be vain but selfies can be used by brands as a marketing tool.

The power of selfies

The selfie has been used to raise awareness for social good. The #nomakeupselfie campaign that took social media by storm last year is a good example. This campaign encouraged girls to take make-up free photos, post them online and then donate money to charity. It raised over £8 million for Cancer Research UK. The fact that Cancer Research did not come up with the campaign shows just how powerful the seflie is for engaging with an online audience.

For business of all kinds, the selfie is a fantastic way for brands to show a human side. Encouraging customers to post selfies with a brand-related hashtag also gives your business free marketing. What could be more powerful than hundreds of social media users posting images with your product or making use of your #brand?

Still not convinced?

Brands have reported huge benefits from including the selfie in their marketing strategy. Axe Deodorant, for example, ran a selfie campaign to coincide with Valentine’s Day, asking users to post images of themselves alongside the hashtag #kissforpeace. This generated more than 10,000 tweets with similar results on Instagram.

And who can forget Ellen DeGeneres famous celebrity-packed Oscar selfie? It became the most tweeted picture of all time, with over 33 million retweets. Some say the fact that this was taken on a Samsung mobile was a brilliant marketing idea from the company, although Samsung claims it was unplanned.

Building brand warmth online

It’s clear that selfies can generate a huge amount of brand warmth. Asking customers to endorse your products and services through a selfie is much more credible than simply blowing your own trumpet online.

Businesses are actively trying to get user-generated recommendations and build social proof; the selfie could be a critical part of this.

Copyright © 2015 Emma Pauw, social media writer at We Talk Social.

How to hire sales people

March 09, 2015 by Mike Southon

How to hire sales people{{}}Never ask a candidate for your sales team how they should be rewarded. Here’s what you’ll get: “a highly competitive salary” (read, £200K per year) “a fast company car” (so they can get to that important meeting on time), “a realistic expense account” (where “realistic” is a euphemism for “unlimited”) and “very long holidays” (they work really hard and need their recovery time).

This little excursion into cloud cuckoo-land is finally garnished with: “an uncapped commission scheme”. They argue that results should bring proper rewards – so what if it bankrupts the company at the same time?

This is, of course, meaningless drivel, guaranteed to give you an ulcer and a hernia simultaneously. Anyone who sits in front of you and seriously suggests you should pay them £200K per year plus fringe benefits needs their head examined (possibly by your steel-tipped boot). You’re an SME, you can’t afford ludicrous packages. Plus you don’t need to pay them commission.

What no commission?

I can hear the red felt-tips of hate being unleashed as I write this. Surely salespeople need to earn a proper living? Surely the sales force needs to be motivated?

Of course they do, but in Maslow’s famous “Hierarchy of Needs”, money is way down the list. In a small company, with its tribal atmosphere, anyone who tells you they’re only working for the money needs advice on moving to somewhere more boring and stable, like a building society. Working in an SME provides the key things at the top of Maslow’s list: peer respect and making a difference.

What salespeople really want (but usually won’t tell you) is “an easy life”. The perfect company has a nice bunch of people who are a joy to work with, not too much hassle (like checking up exactly where they are every 10 minutes), and a product or service that’s easy to sell to nice people, who enjoy a decent lunch now and then.

The role of bonuses

Salespeople should be rewarded for success, but not some ludicrous commission scheme that means they get three times as much as the delivery people who actually do the hard work. Our model is to put everyone on the same scheme. First, pay a slightly above market rate salary, so you can attract the best people. Then, give out bonuses based on two factors: how the company’s performed, and how the individual has performed.

The first is the most important – if times are hard, it’s belt-tightening all round, even if you’re working 14-hour days. Company performance should be presented openly at the monthly company meeting, so this element should not be a surprise at bonus time.

Agreeing targets

Personal performance can be hard to measure for administrators and delivery people, but not for salespeople. Discuss and agree sales targets at the beginning of the process, and measure the salesperson’s performance on a weekly basis.

It’s important to explain that if a salesperson beats their sales target, this is usually increased for the next quarter; it’s the way of things. Also, if you don’t hit your sales target you get formally warned, and then fired, sometimes over the course of only a couple of quarters. That might seem a little unfair, since it’s a lot more difficult to get fired from delivery or admin or finance. But that’s just the way sales is.

So only hire salespeople who enjoy selling, who like your customers and aren’t too greedy. High-commission salespeople get desperate and will tell any damn lie or stick a knife into their workmates’ back if they think it might help them hit target.

Copyright © Mike Southon 2015. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced without permission in writing. Mike Southon is the co-author of The Beermat Entrepreneur and a business speaker.

Infographic: Business use of social media in 2015

March 02, 2015 by Marketing Donut contributor

It’s no wonder that businesses are confused about which social media sites to use ­– they are growing and proliferating all the time.

Real Business Rescue has pulled together all the latest statistics about social media use in this excellent infographic, providing an enlightening look at how brands are operating in the social sphere in 2015.

Want to know which sites are trending? Where you should concentrate your efforts? What other businesses are doing online? It’s all here along with useful data on that tricky social media issue — return on investment (ROI).

How B2B Businesses Are Tackling Social Media In 2015{{}}

Source: How B2B Businesses Are Tackling Social Media In 2015

Thanks to Keith Tully at Real Business Rescue for sharing this with us.

Copyright © 2015 Real Business Rescue

Mastering the art of social listening

February 24, 2015 by Marketing Donut contributor

Mastering the art of social listening{{}}Social media listening is a fundamental tool for any business owner — even if you’re not currently active on all social media sites.

The days of suggestion boxes and comment cards are long gone. Social media is now the first place people turn to praise or criticise a brand. For consumers, it has become the quickest and easiest way to directly contact a brand and get a problem sorted. So it is vital that your business is listening to these comments.

Listening on social media is about monitoring posts and conversations that refer to your brand, product, service or even competitor, in order to aggregate the data and find out what people really think about your business.

There are several platforms that can help you monitor social media, such as Meltwater Buzz, but there’s nothing to stop you from monitoring social mentions yourself.

Listen before you leap

Social listening must come first in any social media strategy. Once you have gained a sense of your reputation online, you can then engage based upon you customer needs. Knowing what people are saying about your brand allows for more proactive and reactive posting.

If you don’t want to invest in social media listening tools, setting up social media profiles and lurking online is just as effective. Using Twitter to search for your brand name will bring up all the tweets that mention your business and will allow you to gain a sense of how you’re faring online. It also allows you to check up on your competitors and see how their brand mentions compare.

Nine reasons to start listening on social media

  1. Gather market research: People post honestly on social media, so if someone doesn’t like your brand they’ll tell you. Social media allows you to gain insights, opinions and experiences from real customers in real time.
  2. Identify your weaknesses: If customers are having negative experiences with your brand or product then you can quickly identify the problems using social media. You don’t need to second-guess your customers anymore, they are telling you what’s wrong. Keep an eye out for negative posts, use the social media site to communicate how you are rectifying the situation (so others can see) and turn those weaknesses into strengths.
  3. Identify your strengths: Are you unsure if a new product or service is popular or if your latest marketing campaign is working? Monitoring responses online during a product launch or throughout a campaign will enable you to gauge reaction.
  4. Bring cost efficiencies: Social media feedback allows you to focus your marketing spend where it’s most effective. It can stop you wasting money and also identify where social might be a more cost-effective channel.
  5. Fish in the right pond: Social media listening allows you to establish where your target market is spending time online. There are a vast number of social networking sites and focusing on all of them is a huge investment of time. Identifying if your customers are tweeting, pinning or posting on Facebook, for instance, will allow you to focus your efforts.
  6. Understand customer needs: Social media allows you to listen to your customers and gain ideas for future developments that you may not have even thought of.
  7. Protect your brand: Are there people sharing misinformation about you online or misrepresenting your brand? Monitoring your brand mentions will allow you to identify fake accounts or incorrect information and then take action.
  8. Find out what content engages your audience: There are countless ways to engage with your audience on social media, such as images, competitions and case studies but which of these are the most effective? Instead of spending money on ad-hock advertising and content pushing, find out which of these gets the most engagement from your customers and focus your efforts here.
  9. Reach potential customers: Every social media user could be a potential customer. Search for keywords and hashtags to find people that are talking about subjects that are relevant to your brand and then reach out to them.

Copyright © 2015 Emma Pauw, social media writer at We Talk Social.

How to improve your customer service with social media

February 16, 2015 by Sarah Orchard

How to improve your customer service with social media{{}}Many small businesses I speak to are worried about using social media. It’s understandable; after all, social media puts you and your company in the public spotlight and there’s always the risk that you may get negative online reviews as well as positive comments.

Indeed, that’s usually the biggest concern ­– what if a customer complains and leaves a negative review? Their comments are out there in public, posted, shared, re-tweeted. Everyone can see them!

But think of this – you may well have had disgruntled customers in the past but you just weren’t aware of them. Now look at the role of social media from a different angle – if someone leaves a negative comment on Twitter or Facebook (and they will!), you have a valuable opportunity to address the issue.

This enables you to take a two-pronged attack – damage limitation by resolving the problem and turning the situation around by converting a complainer into a brand advocate.

So, how do you go about it?

  • Be vigilant and monitor what is being said about your brand on social media. There are various monitoring tools available, such as Google Alerts, which can be set up for your brand and specific keywords (as well as competitors). Other tools include Social Mention, probably one of the best free social media listening tools on the market. In addition, Ice Rocket offers free blog, Twitter and Facebook monitoring in 20 languages.
  • Don’t forget to set up Hootsuite or TweetDeck (if you use either of them) to flag your Mentions on Twitter too!
  • Check in on your Facebook page and Twitter regularly. If your business gets reviewed on sites such as Trip Advisor, make sure you monitor that too. Likewise, find out about any forums or communities that may be of interest to your customers.
  • Think before you react. Not all negative online reviews will merit a response. If something has been posted on an obscure forum with few members, it’s probably better to just ignore it. Your response will only bring attention to the problem, rather than allowing it to quietly sink beneath the radar.
  • If you need to respond, do it as quickly as possible. There’s nothing worse than a complaint going unanswered for days or weeks. The customer may have vented their spleen but a lack of response will cause more anger and others may pick up on this. Always acknowledge the customer, even if you need to look into the complaint in greater depth. Let them know that you’ll be back in touch and offer to get in touch offline in the meantime.
  • Keep it friendly and avoid sarcasm. If you ever read Trip Advisor reviews and responses, you’ll know what I mean – there’s nothing worse than an outraged hotelier posting a bitter response to a review. An online slanging match will do you no favours whatsoever. Keep things polite, make sure you come across as “human”, it will make so much difference. Ideally respond publicly and provide a resolution, and then take it offline by emailing or calling the customer to go over details such as refunds or compensation.
  • Decide how you can fix the problem. Apologising is one thing, but even better is showing an effective solution to the customer’s problem. For instance, if they have a product that hasn’t lived up to its promise, you might offer to replace it with a superior item at no extra cost.

Show your customers that you care

Remember that social media also gives you a platform on which to publicly demonstrate that you care about your customers. Many people prefer to deal with complaints offline. The trouble with that is that your sincere apology and the way you resolve the issue won’t be in the public domain. However, if you do it online you are being completely transparent and you may just call a halt to droves of similar complaints being posted.

Make someone happy and there’s every chance that they will relay the good news to others, turning a complaint into positive PR and building some good brand awareness at the same time.

Copyright © 2015 Sarah Orchardan expert contributor to Marketing Donut and a consultant at Orchard Marketing Associates.

Is your elevator pitch letting you down?

February 09, 2015 by Andy Bounds

Is your elevator pitch letting you down?{{}}If I am at a networking event and someone asks me “what do you do?”, and if I reply “I’m a consultant”, they might say “between jobs, are you?”

But when I say, “I help people communicate better”, they’re interested. They ask how I do it. They see me as useful. And all because I used a different opening sentence.

How you describe yourself – your elevator pitch ­– is critical. It’s the first impression you give. An exciting one turns people on, a poor one turns them off – and you’ve only said a few words.

Here’s a quick question for you: What do the following elevator pitches have in common:

  • I am an accountant
  • I work in IT
  • I own a web design business
  • I am a health and safety specialist
  • I am in charge of X division
  • I work for company Y

I can think of quite a few common elements – none that are good.

They are all:

  • Boring
  • Forgettable
  • Non-value adding
  • Unexciting – I certainly won’t be rushing to my contacts saying, “Hey, guess what? I spoke to someone who describes themselves as – get this – an accountant!”
  • Conversation stoppers, not starters. The only response I can think to give to each of the above is “Oh. Are you?”

Elevator pitches like this also trigger our preconceptions. Imagine if you and I were to play a game of word association; what do you think when you hear the words accountant, IT specialist, web designer, health and safety?

Instead, here are the two steps for an impactful elevator pitch:

Step 1: Focus on the “afters”

Introduce yourself by talking about why people are better off after you’ve worked with them.

For example, instead of “I’m an accountant”, you might say, “I help my clients pay less tax”.
Or, if this feels a little too abrupt: “I’m an accountant, so I help my clients pay less tax”.

Believe me: if you say that, nobody will say “Oh. Do you?” Instead, they’ll say something like, “that sounds useful. How do you do that?”.

Step 2: Reinforce the “afters” with a story

When someone asks for more information, don’t respond by listing all your products and services. It’s boring. And they won’t care.

Instead, remember that “facts tell, stories sell”. So, tell a story to illustrate the “afters” you just mentioned. “I recently helped company X to reduce their tax by £Y. What happened was…”

So, in two short steps, you’ve been the opposite of the bullet points above, in that you’ve been:

  • Interesting
  • Memorable
  • Value-adding
  • Exciting – people might talk about you to their contacts
  • Conversation-starting, not conversation-stopping.

I like being a consultant. But I prefer the “afters” that I cause. As do others. They don’t want to hear about what I am, nor what I do. They want to hear about the impact I have.

So, how could you – in just two sentences – instantly portray yourself as more valuable?

Copyright © 2015 Andy Bounds, a communications expert, speaker and the author of The Snowball Effect: Communication Techniques to Make You Unstoppable. You can sign up for his free weekly tips here.

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