Displaying 619 to 624 of 699 results
As I said to a potential consultancy client last week (she asked for honest feedback).
“Your business is like a rabbit frozen in the headlights, incapable of making a move or a decision, unable to move in one direction or another.
“You need to unfreeze, relax, take stock and weigh up the choices. With great speed you need to take the bold decision: left or right, up or down. Speed is of the essence. The consequences of making no decision are there for all to see. Do you want to be one more piece of roadkill for the statistics book?”
I apologised for my bluntness but the world seems to be dividing into the decisive and the indecisive, the bold and the meek. The brave and the stupid.
Yes, it is scary out there but we/I/you need to be clear about what we are doing and take clear decisive action.
First things first. Find out who your raving ambassadors are – the people who think your service is remarkable (and are not buying on price). Ask them what they can do to help you get more business. They will tell you. This is certainly a starting point.
What decisions have you been avoiding making? How will you benefit from putting them off?
Robert Craven shows MDs and owners how to grow their sales and profits and focuses on how to do this in recessionary times. His latest book is the runaway success “Beating the Credit Crunch – survive and thrive in the current recession” www.directorscentre.com.
You can argue that the aim of marketing is to build momentum. You need to raise awareness and establish how people perceive your brand. Traditionally this worked well, but I have news for you -- attempting to set perceptions is becoming an increasingly dangerous strategy. You may recall a marketing campaign that had the sole intention of altering your perception of a brand. A soft drinks manufacturer who specialised in blackcurrant-based drinks had complaints about the sugar content and related tooth decay. This caused it to launch a low sugar version. It even had the cojones to sell it as “Toothkind”. The rebranding promoted health benefits and claimed four times the vitamin C levels of rivals. The inconvenient truth proved the product wasn’t good for your teeth and one drink in the range had negligible vitamin C! This little oversight cost the company significant sums of money. But the real stinker was the “corrective advertisements” it was forced to run on national television. It’s always been dangerous to try to build a false perception. Now the rise of social networking has upped the ante. There has been a seismic shift in our abilities to interact and talk to each other, and to build or rubbish brands that annoy us. We are the mob, and the mob is now all seeing. If you are bluffing, it won’t take long for people to find you out. It’s simple; the quality of your offering builds the perceptions. These will be based on fact and customer experience, not marketing spin. Ignore this at your peril.
It’s been a lively week on the Marketing Donut, with lots of great articles going up and some interesting forum entries appearing. First up, though, here are the five most popular resources of the last week: 1. Improve your soft skills for better networking 2. How to use merchandise to promote your business 3. 10 ways to make more sales 4. How we got funeral directors to buy coffins made of banana leaves 5. Can Twitter help your business? My personal favourite is the case study about the sustainable coffin manufacturer – it has ethics, innovation and it’s crying out for a daft headline. The Twitter article appears in the list for about the fourth week running. Surely, you must be getting bored of Twitter by now? Apparently not – James Ainsworth’s blog entry on Tweetdeck was also widely viewed and attracted a number of comments. New content aside, we’ve spent the week trying to get some fun forum discussions going on. This started with a new phenomenon, the Friday List, where we encouraged people to list their favourite Donuts (naturally). This week it is TV adverts. But our forum citing examples of bad publicity has also pulled in a lot of readers and several contributions, too. Domino’s Pizza’s PR meltdown seems to be rather popular here… Next week, we’ll be celebrating the start of Wimbledon with a Q&A intriguingly titled ‘Learn to perform like Roger Federer’. We’ll also have new pieces on making complaints, successful direct marketing, a case study of an East Midlands cleaning firm that uses ace customer service as a foundation for growth and Nigel Packer’s intriguing anecdote about how not to order food in a restaurant. One final thing – I’ve caved in to my colleague’s urgings and taken another step into the modern world. I’m now on Twitter. Please follow me @simon_editor PS. One final final thing - we’ve just launched a new RSS feed. You can now gorge on the Marketing Donut completely… http://www.marketingdonut.co.uk/rss.xml
In the film ‘Enter The Dragon’ Bruce Lee demonstrated the ‘art of fighting without fighting’ in which he shrewdly avoided a conflict by not allowing it to happen in the first place. The same idea could be relevant for small businesses who rely on customer service.
Customer service has always been important but is now even more so with the changing nature of the online environment. If people are unhappy with service they are receiving it is now easier than ever to make these feelings known online. A quick tweet or facebook group about poor service received can potentially spiral out of control and be very damaging to a small business. For example, a restaurant which has upset one of its customers through poor service might be subject to some bad publicity online in a relatively short space of time. It may be as easy as getting on an iPhone or Blackberry and letting thoughts be known to the whole internet community. Customers are increasingly looking online for information on businesses so having and maintaining a good reputation on the internet is getting more and more crucial.
Recently there was the case of two Dominos kitchen employees who managed to cause a stir with a YouTube video showing them contaminating food. This video was viewed by literally millions of people and lead to the quick dismissal of the employees involved but only after significant damage to the reputation of Dominos. In the last few days Twitter postponed its scheduled maintenance in response to the continuing developments of the Iranian Election. Twitter and other social media tools are being used to by Iranian citizens to communicate with the outside world and are bound to play an important part in the final outcome. This illustrates the power that online tools can have.
In the case of small businesses, it is now essential that they get their customer service and training of staff right to avoid possible online crises. It sounds obvious but I have experienced this myself with a hotel I stayed at in Cardiff. I received a pretty lack-lustre service from them all round and wrote a critical review the next day on a hotel review site which was read by over one hundred people at last count. While a large hotel chain may not see this as so much of an issue; it could be quite a serious problem for a small business.
Obviously having opinions about a business be they positive or negative are fair game and should be shared online but, as businesses know, there will be customers who will never be happy and are intent on creating as much of a fuss as possible. If the customer concerns are legitimate the business should take this as feedback and a chance to improve their service. However, if the comments are misguided or deliberately malicious the business should have an Online Crisis Strategy to cope with these situations.
Often the best way to deal with such issues is avoiding them in the first place but failing that it is essential to have some idea of what you are going to do when the unexpected happens.
For those of you that use Twitter for your business, you may have tried out any number of Twitter applications in order to run your online marketing activities. For me, I find that Tweetdeck, a third party browser, is the best. I have tried Seesmic and a few of the newer kids on the block but for overall monitoring capabilities and usability, Tweetdeck is just ideal. When monitoring you may be casting your eye over what people are saying about your brand, products or perhaps your website. Tweetdeck allows you to set up a number of real time columns, of which, you get to decide in what order they appear and just what search terms you want it to monitor for you. Without revealing too many Marketing Donut Twitter secrets, I can tell you that I monitor a combination of words and phrases relating to the Donut name and our target audience and keywords, ‘Marketing’ for example, in order to engage with the Twittersphere as and when it happens – whatever ‘it’ may be. I can react to anything any Twitter user says about Marketing Donut or the carefully chosen keywords – whether they are a follower or not! You can run the Tweetdeck application in the background all day long; it doesn’t require real-time monitoring if you can not commit to that level of activity. Dip in and out and react on an ‘as and when’ basis. If you are hungry to be kept informed of current discussions, locate and engage with your target audience and help to increase your presence online, Twitter applications will do the trick and help you gain the edge in your internet marketing activities for your small business. Monitoring on the move just got easier too. For those of you with iPhones, Tweetdeck launched their application this morning, it offers a near identical level of usability to the desktop application and you can sync your accounts nicely too.
If you have a website and want to gain new customers, why not build landing pages optimised for search terms with geographic modifiers. If that sounds like gibberish, I’m talking about creating special pages to attract potential customers who enter (for example) ‘copywriter Norwich’ instead of just ‘copywriter’ into search engines. Because location searches are more specific, there’s generally less competition for them, increasing your chances of achieving good SEO results. For example, as I write, my page on Copywriters in London ranks at #4 in Google and #1 at Yahoo, outperforming the sites of dozens of other copywriters who really are in London! When visitors click through to the page, it explains that they could get practically the same level of service from a copywriter in Norwich and save money, since our overheads are inevitably lower. Is it ethical? Am I bending the truth? Believe me, I’ve agonised over this. But I only considered it when I saw competitors doing the same thing. And all I’m really doing is creating a page about finding copywriters in London, not masquerading as a London copywriter. Does it sell? I believe so, although I don’t always grill my new clients on how they found me (I know I should). You’ve got to be realistic. Drop-off rates will inevitably be high when people seeking local suppliers twig that you’re 100 miles away. But some are bound to be convinced. If you want to do something similar, just create a web page with 300-500 words of text talking about finding your product or service in your target location and linking that to your own offering. Explain how you can easily reach customers in the location and, if appropriate, mention any clients you already have there. Make sure you use your keywords in your HTML page title, heading tags and throughout the text. Aim for a keyword density of around 5% - you can check it here. Use keywords in the document name too (Yahoo likes this). The ‘description’ meta tag carries no weight for SEO, but may still appear in search results. So you can use it to grab searchers’ attention with a punchy message like ‘Looking for an electrician in London? Call our national helpline to find a reliable, affordable contractor.’ (For more help with SEO writing, see this guide to SEO Copywriting.) Remember, your page is primarily aimed at search engines. You don’t really want people to read it! So make sure people who arrive at it can easily click through to your home page, perhaps via a link in the first sentence. To boost rankings further, link to your page from blog posts and online PR articles. The only thing you can’t do is get listed in local online directories for your target locality - although you could always make that possible by investing in a virtual office. A final word of warning - if people do choose you, they’ll be expecting you to match the service a local supplier could provide. Make sure you can keep your promises!