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All posts by danmac30

Should we be investing in social CRM tools?

By | CRM and lead generation, Customer experience, Customer Insight, Marketing Automated Technology, Small Business Marketing | No Comments

Social business refers to this new paradox that we are all facing as small business owners. The way we do business is changing. Our customers want to connect with us in their preferred channels, not ours. This I can see already the line blurring the way we engage with customers. I am constantly checking email, text, mobile and social media. With new aggregation CRM tools out there, should we be investing in a social business and these new interface tools? I for one am interested in anything that gives me more insight into my clients and makes finding that information easier to manage!

IBM describe the benefit of social business:

“When you inspire your workforce to innovate and collaborate more productively, you create tangible business value. When you anticipate needs and deliver exceptional experiences, you delight your customers and create advocates. When you integrate your business processes with the right social tools, you secure a competitive advantage and pioneer new ways of doing business“. The opportunity to collaborate, innovate, listen and create better experiences is now made easier with social tools and creating an initiative around a social business model.

Kathy Herrmann explains a social business as “the model centers on engaging, collaborating, and connecting with customers, partners, employees, and other interested parties. ” The reason I believe that as small businesses we should adopt a social business practice is because it focuses on the customer as the central part of your business ecosystem.”

Kathy explains that social CRM or SCRM is the platform to use to narrow the focus to the customer, making them central to the business. “SCRM is all about building genuine conversations with customers.”

I think that today whether we like it or not, business is social and so integrating social tools into your business system is becoming essential. It is step one in creating better informed and smarter employees and a delivering better customer experience.

SCRM tools allow us to:

  • Engage, collaborate, and create with customers, partners, and employees. Crowdsourcing is one example.
  • Capture and share traditional, transactional data with the unstructured data prevalent in social conversations and stored among social networks. Having one dashboard for all communications is becoming increasingly important. We don’t just email, we text, Skype, Facebook and connect in many online portals and mediums.
  • Deliver a high quality customer experience that includes at least some personalization by including contact attributes from the contact’s social profile. We have moved way beyond automated email blasts. 1:1 communication and personalising the customer experience online is now possible with technology.

Social tools  are sometimes add ons to the traditional CRM platforms. I have been investigating a few over the last couple of weeks and here are my top picks for small business.

  • Social listening solutions, allowing companies to monitor the public web and capture social conversations occurring about their brand, products or services. Examples include Radian6, Sysomos, Attensity, Inside View and Visible Technologies. My pick is sprout social or google alerts as a starting point for small businesses.
  • Community solutions, allowing companies to engage and influence interested audiences as well as empower peer-to-peer based interaction and support. Examples are Facebook, Jive Software, and Lithium Technologies. My pick for small business is a relevant small business blog and Facebook or LinkedIn (B2B). If you are retail then, Pinterest is worth using.
  • Social connectivity solutions, allowing companies to connect CRM solutions with popular social networks such as Twitter and Facebook to monitor social activity, integrate social stream data with CRM transactional data and participate in conversations with greater context. Examples are Salesforce Service Cloud, RightNow CX. Topsy, Mailchimp (Social Experience). My pick for small business is Nimble.
  • InsideView is providing sales consultants some great intelligence for building insight and connections by leveraging your network and the web.

Benefits of social CRM tools:

  • 81% received product purchase advice from friends and followers through a social site according to ClickZ
  • Sales – empowers teams to connect with the right experts to meet client needs, connect with clients and get to know your prospects better than the competition and engage with clients and prospects in new ways resulting in 49% high client retention and 25% in quota performance according to VCC case study.
  • McKinsey’s Global Survey in 2010 says that 9 out of 10 companies report measurable benefits from social business.

According to IDC  “The appetite for workspace strategies and the related requirement to review enterprise application strategies are driving the adoption in Australia of social business tools, particularly in the banking, financial services, insurance, distribution and services and government sectors.”

The tools have been adopted because of their ability to shine the light on opportunities and been used to identify target verticals where quick wins are likely and where a different go-to-market approach may be required.

The starting point for small business is to have a social business strategy. It is sound to start listening to your customers, competitors and the industry to collect as much insight and data to make better business decisions. Start by listening and then engaging where your customers are. Some of the tools above will give you a heads up for very little investment in time. I use Nimble for example to see who has tweeted about me, who is connecting with me on LinkedIn or posted to my Facebook wall. It summaries all the social interaction on one dashboard. It also enables me to add in data about people from their other online profiles and fill in some blanks which I love.

So if you want to use the information that is out there in the social business environment some of the tools above give you a great start. At the end of the day business software offers portals that allow your customers, partners and vendors to collaborate with you is no doubt the future, allowing you to get closer to your customers and partners, move quickly and seize opportunities.

 

SEO quick tips

By | SEO, Small Business Marketing | No Comments

People are so confused about SEO.

Buyer beware.  Hire anyone working on your SEO very carefully.

There are a lot of freelancers and agencies that claim to be “experts” in SEO who make claims like, “We’ll get your site listed on page #1 of Google by next week!” 

That’s a scam.  They’re doing something to “game the system” that may get short-term results and then seriously backfire on YOU after they’ve done the damage and been paid.

If an SEO offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is. It’s important to do your homework, starting with knowing what they should be doing. This requires you to know about SEO. Marketing Zone has a great information guide here.

 

Here are my cheat list

1. Use Compete.com to see how your competitors stack up.

2. Set up a google alerts on your competitors and industry

3.Use Hubspot Market Grader

4. Type into google your services and check what your competitors are using as headings and Key Words. Right click and look at the source code to see this.

5. Make your website mobile friendly goMobi

6.Use google keywords and make a list of key words.

7. Get google analytics on your site

8. Use social media buttons to share your content

9. Create relevant and valuable content continually

10. Best SEO tools – report

 

Branding Basics

By | Branding, Small Business Marketing | No Comments

Do you know what makes up a brand identity?

This summary has been taken from Liquidagency a thoughtleader agency in branding.

Branding is ultimately about whether someone will pay more (or less) for a product or service from one company (brand) over another.  The most valuable brands in the world can and do charge a premium price and customers go out of their way to find and buy that particular brand.  (It’s not just about the logo!)

Branding is what people think (believe) about the reputation of a company, product or person (it may not be accurate)

A brand identity is the sum of many parts:  the logo and tagline, the brand personality, messaging and the visual elements (font, colors, graphics) for how the brand will be presented.  Learn what’s involved to create and update a brand identity. Each of these items (and more) help create differentiation from the competitive alternatives, while projecting the personality of the brand. And, when done right they can help create preference for the brand.

Brand Strategy

Without a sound brand strategy, you can’t deliver effective branding programs. That’s why we help companies articulate the fundamental essence of their brand, by clearly defining the brand purpose, value to its customers and personality.

Positioning

Positioning is about finding the key differentiators and making sure they are relevant, sustainable and defendable. We conduct workshops, execute research, evaluate the competitive landscape – and ultimately we help companies uncover what gives their brand an edge over their competitors.

Architecture

As brands grow, things can get complicated. Sometimes due to acquisitions, other times to a proliferation of products…or relationships with other brands, sub-brands and brand extensions. We work with our clients to define brand architectures that make order from what can be a chaotic landscape.

Messaging

Messages must resonate with different audiences. We develop detailed brand messaging documents that help brands be fluid enough to connect with various types of audiences in different marketplaces, and cultures.

Naming

The right name can make the difference between a memorable brand, and one that goes unnoticed. We help determine whether a name should be descriptive, suggestive, arbitrary, or fanciful, and we develop corporate names, product names and entire naming architectures.

Logo

A brand is not a logo. That said, a well designed logo is a fundamental component of a successful brand identity. Our award-winning design teams know how to design memorable and meaningful icons that make an impact worldwide.

Visual Language

Successful brands develop a unique visual language that reflects the qualities of the brand. We’ve helped many companies find their voice and sense of style, and build image libraries that enables them to create marketing materials that are always on brand.

Style Guide

A brand is an asset, and it should be managed carefully. We know how to build a wide variety of tools, from logo usage guidelines to comprehensive brand guidelines.

Packaging

Packaging can take many forms, from boxes to clamshells. We’ve worked on many diverse packaging projects, and we understand how to leverage packaging to showcase the brand, stand out on the shelf – and ultimately have people take the item to the cash register.

Materials

Brochures. Annual Reports. Catalogs. Newsletters. Posters. You name it…we’ve done it. These days lots often literature takes the form of a PDF. We still design our fair share of printed pieces, and love doing it, but we have also mastered the art of designing literature that is distributed digitally.

Advertising

Today, advertising has become one of the components of an integrated approach to brand building. We are just as comfortable developing a print campaign as well as online banners…or billboards, for that matter. And think it’s best if it all works together.

Workplace

Corporate environments are an important extension of a brand. They are opportunities to influence the way that employees and customers perceive and interact with the brand in a very tangible and experiential manner.

Retail

POP solutions, and merchandising programs. And, whenever possible, we like to integrate interactive elements into the retail experience.

Web

Websites have become one of the most important elements of any branding program. From idea to design; from user experience to SEO practices; from content development to programming we ensure that the digital brand experience is the best it can be.

Digital Online

The digital world has transformed the way that brands communicate with their audiences. Interactivity and engagement are more important than ever. That is why we develop demos, email marketing, e-newsletters, microsites, and online advertising programs that extend the brand experience online.

Technology has changed radically the way that brands are built. It is no longer sufficient to launch a website to enter the digital realm. Today it is necessary to consider the impact of social networks, mobile media, viral marketing, search engine optimization, widgets, blogs, etc. A comprehensive digital strategy, may include:

  • Websites
  • Intranets
  • Mobile
  • Widgets
  • Viral
  • Social Media
  • Video
Video
Video used to be prohibitively expensive, but new technologies have made it possible for brands to use it much more extensively. We’ve helped brands develop high level brand videos and online shows, from educational to inspirational. It’s a great way to communicate!
To learn more about our branding workshop visit here.

B2B and social buyer behaviour

By | CRM and lead generation, Customer experience, Customer Insight, Marketing Automated Technology, Online Marketing, Small Business Marketing, Social Media | No Comments

Selling Through Social Media to Close More Leads
Selling Through Social Media to Close More Leads
InsideView

This Info graphic explains some of the behavioural changes I am seeing in the B2B space. People are accessing, connecting and researching online and using social tools to do this. CRM social aggregators like Nimble and Inside View are giving a 360 view of customers. In today’s economy B2B companies are decreasing their marketing dollars and spending more online. A recent survey by B2B Magazine revealed that over 48% of those surveyed were increasing their online marketing spend.

In a recent study done by KnowledgeStorm of B2B technology decision makers the following statistics were revealed:

  • 90% Participate in Video
  • 80% Participate in Blogs
  • 80% Participate in Wikis
  • 69% Participate in Social Networks
  • 53% Participate in Podcasts

In the same study it was shared that of 69% of B2B buyers use social networks “primarily for business networking and development.”

At a minimum B2B businesses should at least be involved in communities and social network where there customers already are. Explore the opportunity to reach out to key influencers in your target market and optimize your content and social media applications for syndication.

Social media enables you to :

  • Share your expertise and knowledge
  • Tap into the wisdom of your consumers
  • Enables customers helping customers
  • Engages prospects through customer evangelism

Here is a video about this B2B changing space.

Co-creation as a business strategy

By | Customer experience, Customer Insight, Small Business Marketing, Thoughtleadership and Content Marketing | No Comments

Back in 2009 I wrote an article about the intersection of CRM and social media. Basically,to summarise, I wrote about the customer driving their engagement with us as small businesses and the need to engage with them in the appropriate mediums that they choose to use. I also wanted to see some more aggregation of the listening touch-points we have via CRM/Social  (SCRM), so we can get closer to our customers and use this information to be involved in their conversations.

Jump forward to 2012/13 and as Paul Greenberg states “that we are now at a point that the customers’ expectations are so great and their demands so empowered that our SCRM business strategy needs to be built around collaboration and customer engagement, not traditional operational customer management.” It is less about transaction and more about interaction.

The disconnect I still see, is while customers have become in control of how they interact with us, we still are yet to make leap to map our goals to that of the customer needs and concerns with the solutions our products or services provide. We don’t make their agenda important. The end result is we are still in the large part transactional or commodity based businesses not partners or loved brands.

Examples of how we make the customer an intrinsic part of our business ecosystem  Paul Greenberg lists as follows:

 

“It can mean anything from customers and the company collaborating on product development, to customer suggestions on how to improve a company process, to customers helping other customers solve customer service issues, to even doing what gamers do and modifying game play using tools for scenario creation which adds value to the game. Co-creation is the ability of the company and customer to create additional value for each other – what form it takes is not always THE BIG THING.”

Co-creation is one example where we as small businesses can help the engagement with our customers.

 

Examples of co-creation is Amazon with reviews of books,  Nike in the design of shoes. Solosso is a leader in co-creation for men’s wear, making it possible for their customers to create high-quality custom dress shirts

that are perfect just for them, and do it for a reasonable price. Threadless is the same concept. At Threadless.com customers can send in their own t-shirt designs, which are subsequently voted on by the other custo

mers and visitors to the site. The winning design is then printed and sold as a newly created item/product. Again, consumers have a direct participation in and influence on the final outcome of the product development process. By the way, the winning design is rewarded with a cash prize as well as other benefits. Now this concept has moved into different product offerings including iphone case design. Keepcup does the same design concept online.

“The four types of co-creation

  • Club of experts: A very specific challenge is needing expertise and breakthrough ideas. Contributors are found through a selection process. Quality of input is what counts (e.g. Nokia)
  • Crowd of people: Also known as Crowdsourcing. For any given challenge, there might be a person out there having a genial idea that should be given a podium. It’s the Rule of the big numbers (e.g.Threadless)
  • Coalition of parties: In complex situations parties team up to share ideas and investments. Technical breakthroughs and standards often happen when multiple parties collaborate (e.g. IBM)
  • Community of kindred spirits: When developing something for the greater good, a group of people with similar interests and goals can come together and create (e.g. Linux)”

My favorite by far at the moment is Ikea for Business. What a long awaited idea. I want to design my space, pick it and get it delivered! Hooray Ikea you are listening. Great case study examples too!

Chris Lawer for the P2P foundation puts why we should consider co-creation carefully as a small business,

“Co-Creation is therefore just a natural way for organisations to help their customers meet their goals in the lifetime of use of their products. But they can only do so if they embrace a different view of value and start building back from the customer’s view of value, not the firm’s.”

How can you co-create with your customers? It can be a small step first. Even asking for feedback will spark some ideas. Ask your employees and brainstorm how you can co-create with your customers today.

Businesses are from Mars and customers are from Venus

By | Branding, Customer experience, Customer Insight, Thoughtleadership and Content Marketing, Value Proposition | No Comments

A major issue all businesses face is that of changing their internal measures and focus from that of what they need to be successful to that of thinking like their customers so they can solve their problems better and deliver a superior experience. These mindsets are in conflict and the internal pressures of running a business often give way to only thinking about costs and sales which creates less visibility to trying to innovate, look at customer aspirations and developing a truly differentiated experience.

It is really a catch22. The more internal a company becomes, the more internal measures then I propose the more likely they are to deliver a vanilla or commoditised customer experience and as such likely to resort to cost cutting. On the other hand the more innovative, customer centric and in-touch with their customers a company is the more differentiated and likely they are to create memorable experiences for customers and thus the more they can charge. This video featuring Lior Arussy, Strativity Group President explains it well.

How do we reconcile the external forces of running our businesses and being customer centric?

Sample: Principles of Customer Experience from Strativity Group on Vimeo.

Understanding and mapping out the customer buying path or touch points with your team is a good starting point.

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