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Is the customer king? Tired old cliché or still as relevant as ever?

April 08, 2015 by Robert Craven

Is the customer king? Tired old cliché or still as relevant as ever?{{}}“You cannot say ‘the customer is king' in this day and age...” That was the feedback I was given recently. “It’s so 1985.”

At first, I wasn't sure if the criticism didn't say more about the critic than about the three little words but I am not so sure.

It feels like the obvious is being stated when we are told. However, if it is so obvious, then why do so few people do it?

Well, what I do get is that the phrase is not as of the moment as CE, CX, or CEM, (and if you have to ask then it shows just how behind the curve you are).

While the phrase may seem a little dated, I did also have a simpler problem. Way back in 2002, I wrote the book, Customer is King. It was good enough that Sir Richard Branson wrote a foreword for it.

As it happens, it has just been updated and published on Kindle. As it is the title of my book, I do feel committed to using the phrase.

The phrase has been over-used but then so has “profit is vanity, cash is sanity”.

However, the real question is whether the phrase imparts its full meaning. Personally, I think it probably does. But then again you are my customer, and only your opinion really matters, so what do you think?

Copyright © 2015 Robert Craven. Robert runs The Directors’ Centre, helping businesses to grow. He is a keynote speaker and best-selling author of Kick-Start Your Business and Grow Your Service Firm as well as The Customer is King.

How colours affect email response

March 30, 2015 by Amir Jirbandey

How colours affect email response

Image by: The Logo Company

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine working in a large digital publishing company had a debate with a client about whether or not to use a black background in a forthcoming email campaign.

She asked me if I had any research to back her up. Unfortunately I didn't have anything concrete, but putting myself on the receiving end of that email, I knew I would hate getting an out-dated looking email from the 1990s.

This made me dig a little bit deeper into the psychology behind colour and how people react to colour in email.

There are seven main colours and they evoke very different feelings:

  1. Red is for energy. Red boosts your energy levels and increases adrenaline. It is considered a high-energy colour, to be used in areas where we need to be more productive such as home offices. We also associate this colour with passion and romance.
  2. Orange is for fun. It represents warmth and happiness, providing optimism and trust. With its associations to sunny days and bright light, orange brings a positive outlook on life and portrays good health.
  3. Yellow is for optimism. Yellow is known to be uplifting, happy and cheerful. However, it is also the most illuminating colour so it can be straining on the eye, providing a feeling of anger and frustration.
  4. Blue is for trust. Blue is considered the colour of honesty, loyalty and trust. It’s also a calm colour with soothing effects, which may be why it is favoured by most people, but more particularly by men. This could be one of the reasons that doctors and nurses wear blue and green, especially when we consider they are opposite red on the colour wheel.
  5. Green is for growth. Green is the colour for growth and peacefulness. And as it's in the middle of the colour spectrum, it’s also seen as the colour of balance. Green tends to be reassuring; however be aware that it can also denote money.
  6. White is neutral. White conveys sterility and cleanliness and it has also come to represent goodness. However, it provides little stimulation for the senses so too much of it can look cold and boring.
  7. Black is hidden. Apart from its negative connotations with death and darkness, black can be seen as mysterious and hidden from the world. This is one of the reasons why, when I was 18, I didn't wear anything but black.

But how does colour affect email responses? The best way to find out is to test. We tested these two approaches:

How colours affect email response{{}}

In a driving context, green means “go” and red means “stop”. So which of these do you think had the higher conversion?

The red button outperformed green by 21%. It’s probably not what you had in mind, right?

Which colours to use for calls to action is an age-old discussion. The lesson we must learn here is that even if we do our research, we should always be testing our campaigns.

Every customer is different and their response to each colour can vary depending on their mood, location, device used and many more. So remember: always A/B test.

Copyright © 2015 Amir Jirbandey is marketing lead UK at Mailjet.

Social media is great - but don't neglect email

March 23, 2015 by Marketing Donut contributor

Many small firms pour all their marketing time and resources into maintaining social media accounts in order to interact with customers and strengthen their online reach.

But, in order to fully ensure customer satisfaction, it’s important not to neglect social media’s predecessor, email.

Email is still a vital tool for businesses that want to communicate with their customers. As popular as social media has become, the use of email isn’t faltering, and the number of email accounts is expected to increase from over 3.9 billion in 2013 to over 4.9 billion by the end of 2017.

Customer care

While it may appear that consumers head straight to social media when they’re dissatisfied with a product or service, 42% of people use email as their most common channel for making a complaint.

However, as this infographic shows, businesses are not always equipped to deal with the number of emails that enter their inboxes. Although 41% of consumers expect an email response within six hours, only 36% of retailers respond this quickly. And 59% of businesses take more than eight hours to reply; while one in four take 24 hours or more.

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Copyright © 2015 numero is a UK customer service software provider.

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).

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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

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