Posts tagged: business

Righting business wrongs

Studies show that customers tend to be even more dissatisfied with a business after their complaint has been handled. That’s because most businesses do exactly what customers don’t want – they make excuses and shift the blame. Studies also show that when a complaint is handled properly (no blame-shift, no excuses), customers are likely to be more satisfied and more loyal than they were before they were allegedly ‘wronged.’

As businesses, we can’t float on the assumption that we’ll never make mistakes, and we certainly can’t deal with complaints in a ‘by the seat of your pants’ laissez faire manner. Complaints are a gift because they give us the opportunity to correct, build loyalty, and serve our clients well. The majority of complaints will go unspoken, unheard – or heard only in the peanut gallery without a chance to resolve. So when they come to the source, it is our duty to our clients to thank them and resolve the issue – quickly, and to the client’s satisfaction.

I can’t tell you better how to do it than this post at the Open Forum called The Art of Mea Culpa. Check it out. Not only does it tell you how it’s done right, it gives a concrete example of it being done right – via Twitter. To summarize the principles,

  1. Apoologize
  2. Admit fault
  3. Fix it
  4. Acknowledge what’s broken (trust, in this case) and work to fix it
  5. Do it quickly
  6. Do it publicly

And we’d add one to that – End it with a smile and a thank you. Appreciate your client’s (or colleague’s) willingness to take the time to offer a complaint. They probably pointed out something you didn’t know about. Or at least, they had the honor to come to you about it instead of gossiping or just walking away. They deserve some appreciation.

Why your business MUST be on Facebook

This morning Social Media Examiner posted 11 reasons your business must be on Facebook. Go. Read it. I’ll wait.

Read it? Back now? Thanks.

What we thought was really intuitive about this post was not just the tips for making Facebook pages more effective (like, by adding video and photos; making it useful to fans). It was the customized news feed and the real-time search. Do you realize that these things are game-changers in the way we interact online?

Customized news feed means that Faceb0ok is effectively analyzing what I (or you, or your target customer) reads and likes, and – not unlike Aunt Maddie – targets what they show them. If Facebook thinks I like fair trade coffee (I’d have to say, it’d be right on there), it’s likely to show me things related to that. Fair trade tea, aluminum thermos, news about Nicaraguan coffee farmers. Wow. Now, if it would just stop showing me Cousin Betsy’s Farmville progress.

What’s more? This is really exciting. I googled my favorite salsa the other day and do you know what came up? The typical list of links, but woven into that list were some subsections – related blogs and social media postings. That’s huge. That means that when someone googles my business they might get reactions (good or bad) from clients, former clients, blog posts about us – and the same goes for someone googling any of our clients. The picture below is from search results on Google for “Haiti.” Do you see the scroll bar on the side? That’s because it’s a hot trending topic and as I spent mere seconds on the search page that field was constantly updated with Twitter results, blogs, news, and yes – Facebook status updates.

Soon we’ll get to a point where if I google (or bing, I guess) a local restaurant it’ll show me not just what ‘people’ have to say about it, but what my personal network has to say. Wow – word of mouth gone crazy!

So how about your business? Are you on Facebook?

Stages of engagement

Have you ever wondered how companies make it from that first, often awkward, posting on Twitter to active, operational and customer service oriented social media networking? Digital Marketing strategist Brian Solis describes the process in an article for Mashable, and it really isn’t horribly complicated.

He describes it in a 10-step process that makes a lot of sense. The most important step, we think, and one that’s often forgotten, is listening. It can be easy to engage in a noise-creating medium, delivering white noise or random chatter. But listening actively, analyzing findings, and responding to trends is what will make or break a strategy.

Thanks, Brian, for the formula. It’s a handy tool, and enlightening for businesses.

Coworking meets childcare?

Have you heard of coworking? It’s a great new business model that engages like-minded entrepreneurs in any given geographic region. Office space is created that allows work from home professionals to rent desk space as needed and collaborate with other people with similar goals.

It’s an affordable, community-friendly way to get out of the house and into an office, boosting productivity and facilitating networking. What could be wrong with that? In our opinion, nothing. It’s green, it’s smart, it’s all kinds of fun.

In our area there’s only one coworking opportunity now, and it’s a good 40-minute drive, making it not so green, especially for what usually amounts to a 2-3 hour work block before heading off to a meeting or to pick up one kid or another from school.

Credit: Workitmom.com

And that made me think… A large number of the entrepreneurs are working from home, many of them with young children at home. There are networks for them like WAHM, MOMS club. Why not combine the interests? Start a coworking office that appeals to local small business owners and provides a space and supervision for their children? Gives whole new meaning to bring-your-child-to-work-day, doesn’t it?

You know what I’m thinking? Lots of local churches have preschool programs and drop-in mothers morning out programs for young children. They also have office space that’s unused Monday through Friday and plenty of broadband wireless internet.

You know what else I’m thinking? Local community centers (and libraries too) could do the same thing. Every local community center and local library is looking to secure sustainable funding. Why not appeal to where the market is headed? The infrastructure is there – why not use it to earn revenue? Just a thought.

5 things to make or break your strategy

marketing strategy

Interactive marketing strategy. Market penetration strategy. Social media strategy. Here at Engage Them we develop these things for our clients to ensure that we meet their short term and long term goals effectively. But when it comes down to it, everyone uses strategy for different purposes in different venues.  That got us thinking. What are the common denominators that make a successful strategy? Here’s what we think it boils down to. Feel free to jump in to the discussion below.

  1. Long-term vision with short-term application. Your strategy needs to see where your business is heading in 5 years and in 10 years. And that vision for the future needs to have immediate applications in what you do today. A pie-in-the-sky dream of expansion into new markets will never be realized until you start taking steps to make it happen. On the other hand, acting on short-term goals with only a vague guess about what’s next is like a brand new driver who only looks at the road directly in front of his car. He veers all over the road because his focus is too short.
  2. Know your market. A narrowly defined target audience will keep your strategy focused, avoiding waste of time and effort on inefficient goals or advertising. Target everything in your strategy to your target market – from behaviors to benchmarks.
  3. Resource analysis. What do we have? Think of talent, time, budget, materials, technical skills, facilities… What do you already have that you can work with? What resources can you obtain creatively – through networking, barter agreements? And how will you obtain the other resources you need?
  4. Competitor analysis. You know what they say, “keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer.” Know who you’re up against and know how you can beat them. Maybe you can’t offer a better price, or maybe your raw materials aren’t as good as theirs. But figure out where you can better them, and maximize on that. If you can beat them hands down on customer service, do it well, and don’t apologize for the aspects you can’t compete on.
  5. Re-evaluation. A strategy is only as good as its keeper. Consistent re-visiting of the strategy and fearless modification when necessary will keep it relevant and useful. A strategy that sits in the back of the filing cabinet is of no use to anyone. Use it to bring continuity to your business. Use it as a yard stick when evaluating options. Redesign it as the market ebbs and flows.

That’s our 5. What works for you?

Business Week's tips on social media

Last February Business Week debunked a list of 6 social media myths, and despite of the amount of time that’s passed since then, those same myths are still widely held. I would say that the landscape has changed a bit since then, making their responses to the myths a little dated.

For one, they suggest that a good social media campaign will cost you $50,000-$100,000. But the field has been flooded with companies doing social media strategy at various levels. And as any Econ 101 student knows, when supply increases, prices decrease. I suppose corporate giants like Coca-Cola and Chick-fil-a have use for multi-faceted campaigns that require resources like that, but for your general small to medium enterprise, a good social media marketing company (like Engage Them) can get you sorted for a fraction of that cost.

There are also a ton more ways to measure your social media impact than there were 10 months ago, and presumably will be a ton more by this February. Below is a chart that measures influence and audience on Twitter – Klout makes it relevant and user-friendly.

Klout Twitter

Tell me a story

Hat tip to Seth Godin who posted a great article this morning on challenge of marketing. We – as marketers or business owners or political proponents – expect people to think like us.  We think we can just tell them what we think or maybe why we think it, but it’s a little more complicated than that.

The challenge lies in helping them see your idea through their lens, not yours. If you study the way religions and political movements spread, you can see that this is exactly how it works. Marketers of successful ideas rarely market the facts. Instead, they market stories that match the worldview of the people being marketed to.

This is why telling stories is more effective than standing on a soap box or spouting facts about your product or service. People relate to experiences. You’re more likely reach an audience talking about the blueberries your kid smooshed on his shirt (that you got out with your special stain remover) than you are by reporting the enzyme properties of that stain remover.

megaphone-kid-marketingThat’s what makes social media so intuitive. It gives you the platform to tell your story, and interact with other people who are telling their stories about your product or service. There’s nothing more brilliant than that.

Twitter

It seems that Fortune 100 companies are largely missing the boat with Twitter. While several use Twitter to keep their ears open, reading tweets (as what we in the blogosphere call “trolling”), all too many aren’t using Twitter at all.

Image Credit: Holy Kaw!

Check out the rest of the report, detailing how “twueless” companies can get a clue.

Social Media Myths

Joel Postman had a great article debunking social media myths. He tackles 5 social media myths that are pretty important overall, and comes to the following conclusions:

1. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Contrary to what some think, Twitter is not replacing email. Don’t jump to conclusions – the use of email may be in decline in some spheres, and its role may be in flux, but email is still a trusted form of communication.

2. The CEO has better things to do than blog. And yes, that’s the way it should be. While blogs can play an important role in a company’s PR and marketing strategy, they are not part of a CEO job description.

3. Age demographics in social media are dynamic. Facebook is greying, LinkedIn is getting younger, MySpace is getting younger too, and Twitter remarkably tends to remain the same. Don’t lump all social media into one category, and if your business is trying to use social media strategically, you may need to turn to a professional social media consultant for their mind-blowing guru skills in navigating the waters.

4. In social media, what you type matters. The use of emoticons (smiley faces ;) and such), spelling, grammar – it all reflects on you. And frankly, it takes a special kind of skill to convey meaning in 140 characters or less. Tight writing, imagination, and attention to detail are important.

5. Social media campaigns aren’t always ‘viral.’ In fact, they often aren’t viral. If you’re looking to start a viral campaign, try some spontaneity, mix it with a bit of amateurism, add a healthy dose of authenticity and you’re well on your way to making an admirable effort towards viral. Social media may well be the medium you use to deliver it, but registering a Twitter account and posting weekly isn’t going to do it for you.

Tweeting for good

Mashable, our premier source for all things social media, posted a great article recently about the benefits of social media, specifically for corporate social responsibility.

They point to some leaders in the social media sphere, like Seventh Generation, who uses Twitter to engage their fans in lobbying against the use of harmful chemicals, and Nike, who uses social media to boost employee morale. It seems that social media helps companies remain actively engaged with their target audience, spread the good news about their initiatives and products, and boost brand loyalty.

Executives on social media

Tweets by EngageThem