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Category Archives: Small Business Marketing

Employee Culture is not part of the game, it is the game!

By | Customer experience, Employee Experience, Small Business Marketing | No Comments

We believe that to do really great marketing you have to deliver brilliant customer experiences. Your employees have

 such a big impact on how these experiences are delivered and felt by your customers and clients. I am sure you have experienced the person that just doesn’t want to serve you in a store or worse still are on their mobile phone instead if serving you. At the same time maybe you have experienced a friendly authentic atmosphere where everyone wants to be a work? Your culture is something that you can create, foster and change if you develop a clear strategy, values and metrics.

“I came to see in my time at IBM, that employee culture isn’t just part of the game, it is the game..”CEO Lou Gerstner

It is all part of your internal brand of knowing who you are and what you stand for. What is your collective personality? Employees know that they are experience creators and must embrace “your way of doing things”. I always hire for cultural fit, i.e values because skills can always be improved.

“ Your employees actions can make or break your brand. Building a strong culture goes beyond employee manuals, it is all about creating powerful experiences for your customers.”

  • It is about creating a vibe, teamwork and innovation
  • It is about Leadership, coaching talent and training
  • It is about employee and customer satisfaction

 I suppose this is where some of the magic comes from. When we commit to helping our employees be the best that they can be, they in turn commit to helping Microsoft be the best it can be. That’s why feedback is so valuable.” ROSE CLEMENTS MICROSOFT HR MANAGER.

Here is a video from Spotify and it helps to explain a bit about their culture
We offer a team workshop and workshop creating employee cultures. To bookSlideshare

Employee Culture Resources

http://humanresources.about.com/od/organizationalculture/a/culture.htm

Great place to work Survey

http://www.greatplacetowork.com/work_with_us/50_best_companies.php

Hewitt Awards

http://was2.hewitt.com/bestemployers/pages/index.htm

Better experience key ideas

http://sbinformation.about.com/cs/benefits/a/8uncommon.htm?nl=1

Murmur – from Cultureamp is a great survey tool that helps you discover what your employees are thinking

http://www.cultureamp.com

 

 

 

Customer Centric Marketing is the new competitive advantage for Small Businesses

By | customer centric marketing, Customer experience, Customer Insight, Small Business Marketing | No Comments

Customers mean a lot more to us as small business owners than large corporates. We know our clients names, we understand their businesses and we ask lots of questions. Well we should!

Customer-centric marketing means to fulfill all the needs and wants of each customer with a passion to succeed, and doing it with a smile. Customer centric marketing focuses on understanding the problems, concerns, needs and wants of your customer not yours.

“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so.” – Kenneth B. Elliott, Vice President of Sales, Studebaker Motor Corp., 1941.

While large businesses battle with how to engage with customers across their large complicated systems and processes, small businesses can embrace technology and create meaningful touch points that create trust and transparency.

We can learn a lot about our customers quickly. As we learn about each customer we can fulfil their needs and wants and they will tell others how we made them happy. We can share ideas and create solutions that are tailored made easily. We can add value to our to clients with out adding cost. Customer centric marketing assumes nothing. It is based on understanding and insight from the customer perspective. It is about having an intimate relationship with your ideal customer and working together.

Customer centric marketing starts with the customer not the product or service.It focuses on the customer’s situation and how they do their job, their business needs, the pain they’re experiencing, the root causes of the pain from their perspective, and how they can solve the problem.

Every touch point: website, white paper, offer has the customer’s needs at the centre of it. How can we assist them in their search for the answer to their current concerns. How can we educate, provide support, entertain. If we do this with the right intent we will earn trust.  Unlike larger companies, we smaller companies don’t need to create buyer persona’s to understand our customers. We know them. However we do have to continue to engage them and ask how we can serve them better.

Being customer centric is a culture and based on priorities.The number one priority of a customer centric company is that the customer comes before revenue generation with the understanding that this focus will create great growth and profit over time. Everyone has to be onboard with this focus or it won’t work. Can everyone in your company list the customers top wish list? Customer centric is a core value and mission of these sort of companies. Everyone has how they contribute to the customer experience at the heart of everything they do.

To learn more about our customer centric workshop go here.

Is your content a commodity? Why you need to think like a producer.

By | Branding, Content Marketing, CRM and lead generation, Small Business Marketing | No Comments

“Marketing is broken. Social media won’t save it. Online ads won’t reinvent themselves. Google’s acquiring. Public relations is changing. The music industry is reinventing itself. The movie business is struggling. Newspapers are dying. Your email inbox is full. Your mobile device is always on. Your DVR is recording. Your iPad apps are updating. I don’t need to tell you that the media business is in flux.If you’re going to survive in a world where everything’s changing, you’re going to have to think differently.” Hard to argue, right?

As Andrew Davis book Brandscaping is a very interesting take on how we should approach marketing. Rather than the current fad of creating loads of content much of which is seen as a commodity he states we should all be acting more like producers and try to find the right content for our audience. “Brandscaping is bringing like-minded brands and their audiences together to create content that increases demand or drives new revenue for the products and services you sell.” I really like this approach because it is based on supporting those who actually create the content that your audience will love and support them.

There are four  great reasons why I love this approach. 

1. Most of us aren’t brilliant writers. Let’s face it we don’t run a copywriting business. So it makes sense to focus on what we do really well which is our product or service offering.

2. I don’t think outsourcing this to a marketing team or copywriter is the answer either because often they are good writers but don’t understand our business or don’t have the passion or creativity for sustained engaging content.

3. By aligning your business with a someone or an organisation that is already providing content for the audience that you serve. Support them. A perfect example of this is Ducttape Marketing support Hubspot because they create a lot of How too documents. The opportunity to build a brandscape is to position your business with a undiscovered talent that can create content to drive demand for the products or services you sell. Think like a producers not a marketer.

4. Just because you are creating content don’t assume your audience is consuming it! In fact if you create poor quality content it could have the opposite effect to consumption. The amount of information created is created at an unbelievable pace. The key is to find the most effective channels for reaching your own particular audience and to get them to consumer on a regular basis. You want a relationship, so focus on reach and quality and relevance.

I ask myself this question: If I stopped by blog today would anyone notice?

It would be fair to draw the comparison between films like the latest Bond Movie Skyfall and their obvious product placement to sell more of a brand but the distinction Davies makes is that the alignment needs to be authentic and have the same set of values for the audience to buy into the partnership and for the association to work as a marketing tool.

So if you want to leverage content as an asset rather than an expense. Creating content relationships and sharing audiences, tapping into multiple niches, pooling your resources with other brands that value the same audience makes sense.

Davis describes three elements to a successful brandscaper:

1. Confidence to back the content of others with a belief in them and their audience no matter how small, is valuable.

2. Show humility by understanding that your customers care more about just your products and services.

3.Willingness to pool resources and share your audiences will allow your marketing budget to go further.

I will add one more

4. Choose your partners carefully. Think “what would your customers also like.” Align around values.

Some potential partnerships:

Nespresso store in Chadstone and Apple. They both have the same audience and could work together around topics like convenience, design and quality.

Dan Murphy could have a wine TV show like Gary Vaynerchuk’s.

Business Bank with Marketing Critique of small businesses plan as a TV channel (just putting it out there!)

Lorna Jane fitness clothing  and chef Justine Schofield

How to make a start

1. Join a LinkedIn group that your audience is participating in and contribute frequently.

2. Seek out the best tools or resources share them with your audience. (name the source and get permission always)

3. Brainstorm a good hook. It could be critiquing something, creating interviews with industry experts, 10 top tips.

4. Identify and explore content holes in your market.

5. Look for a great idea to serve your market. Someone might have built and app your audience would love. Share it, promote it. Underwrite it. A start-up looking for a partnership?

6. Who already owns our audience?

7. Where does our audience live online?

8. What sort of talent can we work with to make our brand more relevant, more often?

9. What content does our audience already have a relationship with and how can we embrace it?

10. What products/ services do our customers buy before they have a need for us?

 

Think Like A Customer

By | Customer experience, Customer Insight, Small Business Marketing | No Comments

We believe there is no more important approach to your marketing than a customer centric one!

Analyst Anthony Mullen from Forrester explains it well,

“If you are delighting consumers then you have all the time in the world with them but if you are frustrating them then each second is torture they will want to pay you back for. Freedom of information and publishing means that customers know what standards can be expected and are tooled up to take a social hatchet to brands that abuse their privilege.  Getting the customer experience right and respecting consumers time is a survival imperative.”

Customer Centric Marketing is all about creating a brand and a culture that focuses on the customer. All decisions are made in light of what is best for the customer, but not just any customer, your ideal customer. You can only create a delightful, “wow” experience for the customer if you create touch points for the customer to feel your brand along their journey with you. These touch points should be deliberate, tweaked, measured and everyone in the companies responsibility.

To book a customer centric workshop here.

Thoughtleaders in Customer Centric methodology

Jeanne Bliss – Customer Bliss

Bill Self Customer 3D

Symplicit – customer mapping, personnas

Strativity – customer experience Wow brands e-book

The DiJulius Group – Customer experience

John Spence – building high performing teams

Innovation Management – creating innovations with customers

Co-creating foundation

Packaging is a key differentiator that creates success!

By | Branding, Packaging, Small Business Marketing | No Comments

Small businesses can undersell themselves by not presenting a cohesive well thought through look and feel to their business and  just not packaging their offering very well. I am not just talking about the immediate branding, but also the way you present an idea so your client or customer can understand it, and feel that it is tailored solution just for them.

This packaging assists the sales process and leads to increased conversion rates, that means they buy more readily!

Packaging is something I have been investigating and am very passionate about. I love great packaging, because so few companies do it really well. Moo.com sent me some mini cards a few weeks go and I still sprout about their packaging. From the Yay! sticker on the outside to the beautiful presentation inside. It is so different and unexpected. A delightful experience.

Why don’t more service businesses package their offering to attract prospects and give a delightful experience?

Why don’t  more accountants package, hairdressers, in fact any service provider or professional service? And I don’t mean just list what is in the package but present it with personality. It takes such little effort, but can make a huge different to the uptake of your offering, especially if you create an introductory or free offering. I started using Wufoo as a free forms tool and upgraded because it provided value I couldn’t live without. Not only did they provide value but they did it in a fun way. How can you package your offering to make it more attractive and easier for your potential customers to buy?

 

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.

 

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