Represent Your Company Today

Company RepresentativeWho are you and who do you represent?

Today, we are going through changes quicker than we can keep pace. More and more I am making company connections with their respective company. When I think of Scott Monty, I think of Ford. I know he left Ford, but that brand connection is so strong. When you introduce yourself to someone, do you just tell that person your name, or do you also mention the company you work for. The two need to be tied together. People want to remember names and the companies their associated with.

It is more than just handing someone a business card. A business card does not breathe and talk. In this  age of the internet if someone just knows your name, but doesn’t know your company, how are they going to remember you?

In the past, marketing and sales were departments. Today, sales and marketers are the direct face and voice of their companies. The internet along with social media is driving home the fact that companies need more brand exposure online. Our message needs to be front and center in front of our targeted audience. Everyone at a company has a voice and is in marketing and sales to some degree.

Top executives have typically been the face of their companies with their presence at local meetings and conferences. Today, the internet is the place people go to the most to find and learn more about company offerings and the company behind them. We are going through a trust period. The consumer wants to find what he/she is looking for and insure they are doing business with a person they can trust.  It really is this simple.

My advice – make it a practice to tie your name and company together when you talk to other business professionals. Your experience with another person may be their only connection and understanding of your company. First impressions are lasting ones.

Make sure you have a content marketing program in place that talks not only about your products and services but the people behind them. Add images and video and make sure you connect this information on social media platforms.

Start becoming the voice of your company in some way. Remember, people connect with people.

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How Much Time Should I Spend on Social Media?

Time on Social MediaWe are all given the same 24 hours each day.  I recently heard a person say they cannot get out of bed without checking all of their social media sites. This person admitted being addicted to following the number of likes, retweets, comments and invitations. This person is also mad that her husband simply reads a newspaper for himself and does not share the information he gains with others.

Can you relate to this example? I think it is a bit extreme, but I think more and more people are spending time on their smartphones than ever before. The better question is, “How are you spending your time on social media?” In talking to a number of professionals this week, I am finding a whole new movement of managing time. A few years ago people were in love with social media similar to the time when the internet became popular through AOL connections and the very first search engines like AltaVista and WebCrawler were coming on the scene. People could not get enough information and were spending all kinds of time online.

Now, people are seeing the value in doing other things: managing processes, effectively processing information, hiring quality people, creating new work cultures that facilitate innovation, improved productivity. Social media is important and it has a place, but I am hearing fewer and fewer companies say they are making money soleley from social media.

For me it’s really about having a presence on some Linkedin,  some Twitter, a little GooglePlus and a little Facebook. There are other platforms, but these platforms are my choice. For me, it starts with a blog, you have to share information from a starting point and direct them to take action with you and your company.  Typically, I spend the most time writing the blog and the rest of the time talking and sharing on social media. Overall, I would say I try to keep my social media experience to less than 2 hours a day.

I need to make sure I am not only listening to clients on social media, but also when they come through the doors and call-in. Obviously, I cannot do this alone and a great client service team is a prerequisite for success.  I measure my performance first and foremost by the number of new accounts brought in.  (Typically 8-10 a day) and number of online inquiries (Typically 10-15) a day. From here, I drill down periodically into Google Analytics and some other tools.  In addition, I look at our Sales Force reports once a week and try to communicate with them on a regular basis throughout the week. These people keep track of their leads, calls and visits.

Marketing is all about the whole experience: marketing, sales and service. When these three are close together, this is where synergy kicks in and results can be experienced.

So back to the original question – How much time should you spend on social media? – Define your priorities and make sure you are looking at the whole picture and not spending all your time in one place.

Marketing from the Heart

Marketing ConferenceThis week, I am working on really opening up my mind to some new ideas. I will be getting a chance to listen to some great marketing presentations and networking with some of the best people in marketing.

In order to do this, I must focus less on my own “marketing knowledge” and open my heart more to new ideas. I am convinced that great ideas come from the heart. Yes, the heart, not the head. I am not talking about implementing an seo tip here and there or adding a piece of code on my website to hopefully attract new readers.

I want revolutionary ideas.  To do this, I am going to focus on the following:

  • Looking at a process from beginning to end.
  • What do other marketing director spend their time and resources on with respect to their marketing plans?
  • Where do people see marketing going in 2015?
  • What successes are other companies experiencing with respect to their marketing initiatives?
  • How can companies get better at facilitating and nurturing client relationships?

Finally, I want to listen more and more and write down key points from discussions and presentations. This information will be used as the basis for developing new ideas.

Think of the best ideas that you have ever had both personally and professionaly. Did it come about as the result of a strategic planning process? For me, no. The best ideas I have ever been able to implemented involved the following:

  • Input from others
  • A heart to heart session of being honest with myself
  • A genuine need to serve clients better (providing value)
  • A way to bring more people together to achieve something great
  • The idea was in and of itself, revolutionary

The next time you go to a conference, take some time and determine what you want to get our of your experience. It will help you maintain your focus and set your activities in a way that will produce results for the future.

Don’t Rely on Your Past Accomplishments

Past AccomplishmentsThis simple act could really stifle your performance going forward.

Right now, I am firmly in the middle of my professional career. I am a Generation X person. I see a number of executives in their upper 60’s and 70’s and some people never stop. Other people’s performance has fallen off substantially.  If you are working toward being a leader, you really need to be aware of how others view performance. This year I have experienced a wide number of views with respect to how people look at their own performance. Too often, I have seen people who frankly are checked out at work and have a hard time doing anything.

Today, I want to really focus on another issue I see with adult workers, those workers who have a mindset of what they have accomplished from their past experience.  This  type of perception can be really damaging to the specific person and those he/she come in contact with.

As a leader, you need to recognize the signs and encourage these type of people to be more productive and kindly remind them that past work was great, but you need them to be more productive today.

Recognize the signs:

If people constantly talk about people they talked to over the weekend or at a conference, they basically are trying to prove that who they are connected to is better than the person who they are speaking to.

When someone talks about how their accomplishments from 10+ years ago really made a difference, listen carefully. Again, they are trying to prove that their worth is based on act that occurred from their past.

People who focus on past connections are those people who go to conferences and trade shows and they only focus on getting together with only those people in their circles.

These type of people also look for ways to discredit other people’s accomplishments.

These people typically believe they already have knowledge based on past accomplishments and are really not looking to grow and learn. These people believe they have already earned their keep and they should reap the benefits of their past accomplishments.

The Takeaway Here:

Make sure you don’t get sucked into a discussion with these type of people. If  you are taking it upon yourself to learn and grow, then you are already making a difference.

Focus on where you want to go in the future, not how great you have been in the past.

Make sure you create a to-do list everyday at work. This way you will always be focused on the future and not the past.

The biggest takeaway here is managing your time. Recognize the signs, and try to associate more with people who want to make a difference in the future. Stories are great if their ultimate ending leads to something in the future. Stories regarding past history are for family and friends for special times of reflection.

Continue to push forward and lead. If you start finding yourself looking back all the time, take a moment and begin to look forward. The best part is you can always start somewhere and learn. Sadly, many people still have a hard time with this concept.

Final Comment for Marketing Executives

If your corporate culture is made up of managers and executives who have these type of characteristics, seize the opportunity to make a difference. People who look forward and not backward are much more successful than their counterparts and can bring new excitement to a staggering culture. Challenge yourself each day to make a difference. Give people a glimpse of what the future can be. Start getting others to buy into your vision and start making a difference. You will see results. Stay out of political backlash talks and look for ways to drive conversation out in the open. This process can be a viral one and I am starting to see the fruits of my own labor because I am experiencing it as we speak.

Keep persevering one day at a time and don’t give in or give up!

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Best Success Quote Ever

help succcessYour Success Is Directly Proportional to the Number of People You Help

Source – How To Move Your Business From 6 To 7 Digits (And Get On The Path To $50M And Beyond) Forbes – September 9, 2014 by Cheryl Connor

This phrase exemplifies an attribute that I have found with every successful person or company I have come in contact with. Everything really points to this particular statement. If you are looking for ways to make others successful, you will see results in your own efforts. Success breeds success. Notice the phrase doesn’t say your success is tied to the size of your audience. The keyword here is “HELP”. Have you helped someone today.

If you were to make this statement your motto everyday, think of the value you would bring to the people you work with. Think about how exciting a place it would be to come and work at. Everyday, each and every one of us has the opportunity to make a difference. We can make a difference at home, at work, at a particular place we visit, online, our church, the opportunities are endless.

Are you seizing the opportunities that are placed in front of you?

What message are you sending people?

Sadly, too many people take this statement personally and feel that there is no one greater than themselves. That is not what this statement is saying at all. This statement to me, focuses on serving everyone as clients and looking for ways to help people out. The only way to do this is to establish relationships. Anything short of that, is self-fulfillment. Today, look for ways to help people out and start a log book, you will see a difference in your attitude and the culture you are associated with. Start today!

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Own Your Marketing Process

Own Your Marketing ProcessRight now too many people are looking for a magic marketing pill, some new process or a way to make a video or tweet to go viral.

Too many people are reading articles and watching how others see the marketing world. It is fine to gain knowledge for others, but when you’ve spent half your day reading other people’s work, what have you really gained. Yesterday, I looked at this topic of marketing and how it relates to technology. Today, I want to focus more on how you need to own your marketing process and make sure you are working as productively and efficiently as possible.

Write Blog Post

Each day, I quickly scan articles and topics using Google Alerts and other news items. I write a quick post for the Midwest Labs Blog and for this site. I get this information out to various social media channels: GooglePlus, Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook and I gauge the interaction throughout the day. I think writing blog posts should be a managerial/executive responsibility. It is all about transparency and it is critical that the voice of a company come from someone who can see the big picture with respect to the company and its relationship with clients.

Work with Staff

Touching base with partners, client service staff and production people is always a priority to stay informed and make sure your efforts are working in the right direction. Productivity needs to always be a focus

Keep a pulse on your marketing channels

For me this means being aware of the following: new accounts being setup on a daily basis, number of question being submitted online, number of phone calls received each week in client service, number of services rendered each week, client complaints, client feedback.  In addition, it is important to check on web and social media activity using Google Analytics.

Review Company Projects

This last item has worked quite well. I think it is an excellent fit for Marketing Executives to manage company project work. It helps tie company activity with client activity. Read this article, What Marketing Experts Can Learn From Project Management Pros by Cheryl Conner, September 6, 2014

Develop New Ideas

I keep an Idea Composition Book. I use it to write down potential ideas that merit more review and information. The act of writing this information down helps me collect and organize my thoughts. Too many times I have forgotten ideas because I did not take the time to write them down at the time of discovery.

Create Projects

The best approach I have found is to dig in and start working/planning at the same time.  Throughout the course of the day, I will have many ideas that go through my head. I typically receive these ideas through communication with other co-workers and professional contacts. The key here is developing an action plan. Decide what it truly is that you want to focus your efforts on and create a project. Look at these projects based on ideas and determine where these ideas can really come together. Create some small project plans, reveiew, refine and decide if they should be implemented and presented for inclusion with company parojects.

This is a typical day for me.  – In addition, I help out with client calls, manage day to day issues, attend meetings, review company financials and continue to work at completing the daily to-do list.

SUMMARY

My point here is that in order to be effective, you need to be a leader and take control of your own marketing initiatives. There isn’t a magic pill or do-it-all software package that will take care of your marketing needs. The choice is up to you and you literally make that choice everyday you come to work. So stop reading and start creating. Make something happen today. Learn from your mistakes, when stuck on a particular part of your marketing plan, get advice from others at your workplace, through your contacts and online if you still aren’t satisfied. You have lots of resources to work with.

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Marketing Confusion – Stop the Madness

Marketing MadnessMarketing is a very complex mess of channels and consumer behaviors; combined with traditional marketing, digital marketing, content marketing, seo, social media, mobile, snapchat, smartphones and other technologies.

The hardest part is looking at these different channels and topics and trying to integrate these channels into their marketing strategy.  It really is time to take a step back and not get caught up in trying to learn these new technologies. Many marketing agencies and marketing experts focus on developing talent knowledge in these areas. This is their main function. Because of this, most of today’s marketing  blog articles focus on these topics.  These articles try to convince you that you do not know very much about these technologies and you need help.

As a marketer a company

How well do you know your clients?

Start internally and look closely at your client information. Ask yourself, how can I better serve these people so they will remain loyal to our company over time. This really should be the goal because these people are the lifeblood of your company.

Look for opportunities to add new types of clients based on the information you have gathered from your client information. This information will become more apparent as you dig deeper into your client data.

How well do you understand  your company’s product/service offerings?

Everyday, I try to learn more and more about a different process or service that our company offers. Having a better understanding of the company’s products and services really produces more confidence and a better presence with respect to explaining the process to clients. A great way to develop better understanding is to take an actual tour of your own facility and understand the work that your employees perform.

Look for opportunities to understand companies outside of your industry that may have similar processes or similar product/service offerings. Seeing these processes in action has helped me bring new ideas to our own company

How do you tell that story?

This is the final part of the process. After you have addressed the items above, determine how you can tell your story and where do you want your clients to hear. It is an amazing process to look at and it is very simple to apply.

Take a small, niche segment of clients.  (Also, look at new clients)

Add 

The  product or service that affects these clients (Also, think of new products/services)

And Develop

The story that people want to read, share and want more. (People like innovative, new stories)

Summary

Too many people focus on the technology and channel and try to incorporate the story after the fact. In a sense, they start with the technology and work backwards. The problem with this process is typically, a person never gets back to the basic information about clients. I know this because I have experienced this process in the past because I was too focused on the technology. The technology, channels, distribution and measurement are the easy part once you better understand your clients, products/services and have developed your story.

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Watch for Signs of Disconnecting – Disturbing Trend

Disconnecting from WorkI have seen a disturbing trend at workplaces across the country. People are disconnecting more and more from work, their families and friends.

Is it part of this mobile phone, social media culture. My gut tells me it is. I have not conducted any formal study, but I really believe some people are living in a fantasy world and they can’t separate themselves from the real world. Just think how many reality shows we have been exposed to in the last 10 years. What did we watch before reality shows on television? Look at all of the data produced on social media sites in one day. It really is mind-boggling. Remind yourself to be productive and that there is more to life than just reading a bunch of notes, texts and information. Put your mobile device down and so something else. Set some time in the evening or on weekends to disconnect for awhile.

So what is the takeaway here? How do we stay connected in a world that is becoming more and more disconnected

Management

Pay closer attention to worker productivity. I have seen people completely disconnect from their work and ultimately quit their jobs because they don’t like what they do. These people also quit and figure they will find work in the future. It is the Big Lie. Make sure work is organized into some type of project work with deadlines. It is too easy to lose focus these days.

Make sure people are being productive in their work. Some people are not being challenged and have too much thinking time. These people are the ones who may be wasting time on internet sites and social media sites. Hold people accountable and ask them what they hope to accomplish each day. You might be surprised.

Marketing

As with any trend, you can be a part of the current culture or you can be different. The good news, is that “personalization of our messages” is the new in and using older, traditional media like email, hand-written notes, personal visits and phone calls still matter in this world of digital communication. Create some content that is different than all the other information and noise out there.

Be careful about spending so much time on social media sites. It can be a huge time suck and before you know it your day has passed you buy. Consider spending that time in other areas like talking directly to clients and understanding their needs. Client loyalty is huge and it will take more work to keep good clients.

Focus on Professional Development

There are so many resources at your disposal to grow in your education. Take some time to get healthier. Find ways to become closer to your family. Become more active in your local church or school. People who continue to develop themselves outside of work are usually the people who find success in their work. Focus on being a leader.

Your Response

Do you see people disconnecting more  from their work life and at home? It really is disturbing? How can we stop this trend?

I would welcome your feedback on this topic.

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Have You Considered Becoming a Leader Today?

Become a LeaderBeing in the Moment!

No matter where I am or what I am doing, it is all about connecting with people.   It really comes down to listening more and talking less.

Online

Think about it. The best people on Twitter are not those people who send out tweets all hours of the day and night. By the way those are scheduled, not a live person if you are still wondering.  The best people are those who actually share some great information and respond to other people who ask questions or comment on an article you may have written or shared.

On  Linkedin, more and more people are getting involved with groups and sharing updates. A number of these shares offer people some valuable information or quick reminders. I actually think some of the comments are better than the articles.

Facebook is another great place to share some information with family and friends.

Office

Connecting with people on a daily basis is very healthy and shows that you take an interest in their day-to-day work and life. On days where it is one meeting after another, those people with whom you’ve made strong connections with will still seek you out .

In addition, it is always a good idea to connect with people outside your department. Find out what is happening in their respective areas and stay in tune with how those connections fit with the overall company direction.

Home

Make sure you stay connected with your spouse and children. It  is critical that you know what is happening at home so you are there as a listening ear to share advice or assist with homework or activities around the house.

Become a Leader

Develop yourself as a leader in all aspects of your life. Spend time getting yourself prepared each day to “Be in the Moment” . Keep informed of important issues facing your family and company. Ge in touch with the world around you and have an opinion in these areas. Continue to work on building up your knowledge in areas you are strong in. Look to develop other’s. The best way to to do this is take a step back and listen. Listen to people’s concerns. Listen to their ideas. Listen more to find out where they can best use their knowledge and skills. Leaders take on responsibility and find ways to delegate responsibility to others.

Right now there are many managers. Maybe an overabundance of them. Many are getting laid off and losing their jobs. One reason, I believe this is occurring is because they did not take their careers to a higher level by becoming leaders. We need more leaders at home, at work and in our community.  Consider working more on your leadership skillset instead of your management skillset and you may start to see a whole new world in front of you.

What is your take on leaders? Do you see many at your workplace?

Would welcome your comments on this topic.

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Performance is Everything

Performance ManagementDefinition of performance – “the action or process of carrying out or accomplishing an action, task, or function”

Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Too many opportunities are started and never completed. Right now, many people I talk to cannot even talk about projects that were started and completed in 2014. It really comes down to documenting the process and managing the results along the way. Some projects may never be  completed because of lack of resources or changes in direction. In these cases, old projects should be closed and new projects opened.

Over the past few weeks, I have talked about setting a new tone. That new tone for me started externally by listening to clients and it is quickly turning internally to update current processes and continue to work to be in a position to meet client needs.

Those needs include the following:

  • going after new client markets
  • developing innovative ways to improve current client relations
  • investing in employees and technology for continued innovation
  • continue to identify better communication techniques
  • continue to listen more and more both internally and externally
  • learn something new everyday

Focusing on performance helps organize ideas and processes into a manageable process that focuses on taking action and accomplishing tasks.

Start by doing the following:

  • Keep a Daily To-Do list for Yourself – It will help you see where you are spending your time and if you are accomplishing basic tasks
  • Start a Project List – Get all of your company projects on paper. This action will help you see which projects to prioritize, stop roadblocks form occurring, help you maintain proper time frames to make sure projects get completed. (You will learn a lot about your company and see areas for improvement)
  • Communicate accomplishments with everyone at your company. Make sure people buy-in to where the company is headed. It is always good to keep people informed of progress.

This process is the result of strong leadership in an organization. Companies need leaders and as I review and share these topics with you, I am seeing a whole new culture of leadership. If you are a leader, start setting a tone in your own company and start listening more and focus on achieving results. More information to come on this topic over the next several weeks.

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Learning Everyday

Continue to LearnAs I reflect on today’s Labor Day Celebration, I see many people who continue to persevere and make a difference in their companies. It has been a great experience to connect with some of the best business leaders, and up and coming stars in companies.

If you are trying to persevere and succeed with respect to your career, you need to make it a point to learn something everyday. In this day of no guarantees, it is more important than ever to continue to gain new knowledge from articles, books and conferences, but the best learning really comes from directly learning from others.

People who learn everyday have the following characteristics:

Listen more than talk – Too many times, people listen just enough so they can come back with their responses to what they just heard.

Have an awareness of news happening around them – You don’t have to know everything, but if there is a major issue facing the company, you should know enough to have some opinion on what is happening.

Build your knowledge in areas you work with everyday – In this day and age, it is hard to know more than your clients, but you should look for ways to build your products or services around needs of your clients.

Surround with people who know more than you do – The last thing you want to be is an expert on a number of subjects. You need to build a team which has knowledge experts in different areas.

Listen more to clients and start finding ways to meet their needs – These people have some of the best ideas and you can gain a lot of knowledge by working and serving others.

Make sure you connect yourself with some strong mentors – These people can be invaluable as references. In addition, they often share their own tips in running and managing their own businesses.

Summary

Don’t expect companies to offer great training programs to help facilitate your new learning. Take it upon yourself and be responsible for your own development. There is a lot of information online, but often the best insights come from interacting with others. This can be accomplished through online connections. I have connected with some great people online. However, don’t forget about the people you work with and make sure you connect with other professionals in your community. These relationships are invaluable when it comes to new learning and growth.

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Not Another Article on Social Media Engagement

social media engagementWhy are there so many articles written about engaging on social media sites?

I think the real reason is people do not know how to define engagement and they are worried that people will find out that they basically broadcast information and really do not engage on social media sites.  My frustration with this topic is that everyone talks about engagement a but no one ever provides examples on how to effectively do it.

I look at engagement a bit differently than most. I think broadcasting and engaging really go together and if you work at it, you will get better at it over time. It does take some work, but it is much more than staring at Twitter or Linkedin for 4 hours straight and trying to engage others in conversation.  Let’s take a closer look at this topic using the Twitter and Linkedin platforms.

Engagement on Twitter

Most of the talk on Twitter is broadcasting. People have something to say and they just put it out there for people to read. Many people link to a news article or a website or blog site.  I typically tell people about a blog article I have written and try to get people’s attention. The engagement piece for me is trying to effectively tell people why they should read an article I have written.  I need to be sharing something of value and make sure I am communicating that to current followers and potential new followers.

In addition, I try to read other people’s content and if I feel it has valuable information, I think it is my duty to tell others about it. For me it is about gaining knowledge and sharing that knowledge with others.  It is always great to acknowledge the writer when possible and I will often modify the current tweet to stay within the 140 character limit.

I try to use hashtags too more for subject areas or keywords but I have not found them as effective professionally speaking. Kids are more into creative hashtags.

With such a limited amount of characters, the only way to effectively engage with others is to get people’s attention. Here are some phrases I use on a consistent basis.

“Posted Today”
“A must read for marketers”
“Great comments from a CEO”
“A must read today”
“Great Article”

Obviously, I will also look at following up with a personal message after the initial conversation, but you have to start somewhere.

Engagement on Linkedin

Linkedin is the place for me for true engagement from a professional standpoint. The Linkedin Publishing Platform  has helped me see the value of engagement with business professionals. If you write “great content”, people will notice and they will take the time to comment on your articles. In addition, I have started following a number of great people who use this platform and it is really a great place to share comments and ideas with others.  Linkedin has groups too that can also be powerful places for engagement too.

It is important to leave comments with others and give people credit for coming up with topics for discussion. There is real value here.

Some hints:

  • If you question someone’s position on a topic, make sure you do it in a professional manner. (No Brainer)
  • Always try to leave a comment for the person who wrote the article. I see too many people disagree with other people’s comments. Let the author deal with these items (Many people forget this)
  • Check out the people commenting on your articles…See if there are opportunities to connect or follow back (You are probably doing this. Nothing new)
  • Any comments outside of the original article should be taken off-line, consider sending a Linkedin email to the person if you have a paid account. (Good Advice)
  • Start using the Linkedin Publishing Platform and share more ideas with professionals  (Best Advice – It is a difference-maker on Linkedin)

Can’t Engage With Everyone

Engagement is such a strong word for the act of “communicating and sharing” of ideas and information.  Let’s just call it what it is. People are only interested in information that personally and professionally affect them. If you want to be effective on social media, share information on a particular topic, get people to share their comments on your topic and respond back to their comments.  It really is that simple.

Your Service Stinks

Poor ServiceIn today’s world, it’s hard to go a day without someone complaining about the service that he/she received.

People these days are also very short with their responses and they often go to the extreme to show their displeasure.

As a company representative you have several options. These are the typical responses I have seen lately.

Ignore the person’s complaints and write it off as an anomaly
This type of approach indicates that the company knows more than the client and the representative feels the company would be better off without this type of client. Be careful using this technique. It could lead to many clients being turned off to your products/services if these people talk about their experience with other customers.

Try to give some type of value in return to satisfy their displeasure
This approach is used way too often. People generally complain about the same issues and the company does not want to address the real issue and is more concerned about making sure the consumer goes away with something of value like an additional coupon, discount or free item.   This approach never addresses the “real” issue and people may take advantage of this type of action or not come back because they question the type of service that they are receiving because their complaints are not being acted on.

Listen to their concern, try to take the emotion out of the complaint and write document their concern
This approach is the best approach in my opinion. It really looks at the complaint and really tries to find the “root cause” of the issue. People, naturally want a voice and want to know that someone is listening to their concerns. In the past, there was a phrase, “the customer is always right”. I don’t particularly like this phrase because it is not true. However, a more appropriate pharse would be the following, “the customer should always have the right to voice their concern”. If you do not let customers voice their concerns, you could be missing out on a lot of vital information.

Documenting Client Complaints

It is really critical to document client feedback, both positive and negative. I have found great value in understanding the client experience and this type of information is not provided by clients on a regular basis. Client complaints should also be documented and followed up on to see how the issue can be resolved. Some issues cannot be resolved right away, but it helps to document the concern and see if it happens to occur again in the future. This information really helps improve service overall and helps

I have also found through this experience that people are willing to talk about their complaints if they know someone is listening. If you are in charge of the customer experience at your company, make sure you are not ignoring your client complaints and consider reviewing these complaints on a regular basis. The information will speak volumes about your services and the clients that you serve.

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2 Important Reasons to Consider Brand Penetration

Brand PenetrationBrand Penetration – This is the concept that I feel more people will be talking about in 2014 and into 2015.

As you can tell from the past few weeks, I am trying to take marketing in a new direction and set a new tone. We are quickly circling back to having a strong company brand that penetrates the market and gets noticed.  Today, people are really confused about what a brand is. Companies are buying each other out, changing their identity and trying quickly to make more of a presence. Established brands are trying to keep pace with change and are continuing to reinvent themselves. It is a never ending  job for a company. Today, I want to focus on two important reasons to look at this concept of brand penetration.

Serving Client Needs

This concept is the minimum requirement if you want to be in business today. Serving clients means so much more today that it ever has. You may provide a great product or service, but if your ordering system is not quite up to par with Amazon, you may have some work to do. I received a client complaint that our company was not saving his credit card profile and that we make him key-in his credit card each time. It may  sound like a small thing, but Amazon and other sites have provided this convenience. Banks would like to serve client needs better, but they need to be careful of violating regulations.

Imagine your front desk person is sick and you put someone in their place and they get upset with the consumer because they don’t relate well to clients. It may have been a one-time event, but one experience is all it takes to lose someone’s business.

On another front, companies are very desperate to attract new business and they may try to compete through much lower prices to take business away from you. How are you going to react? If your only option is to come back with lower prices again, what does that signal to your client. How are you going to build up your brand value so this type of action is not even a consideration by your clients.

Listening to your clients and working toward not only servicing their needs but exceeding their expectations is the only option for companies to continue to make a difference in the market. Also, remember competitors are always selling out around you, it is a prime time to establish your brand like never before and become the place that people recognize and go to.

Online Marketing is rapidly changing

Google is changing the rules quite a bit. Google Authorship is still alive and well. Google wants to collect a database of information from known people and not some type of bot. It is for this reason that personal branding and company branding are huge. Marketers need to develop content relative to their audience and find a way to draw people to their site to learn more.  Content marketing is alive and well. Social media makes a great distribution for this information and it helps to maintain a brand presence.

Mobile technology, (smartphones, iPads, tablets) are really changing the dynamic of  brand penetration. Google likes to know where you are and provide you with search results respective of your current location. This is great if you are a local company and your audience is all local consumers. For smaller, national companies like Midwest Laboratories it offers challenges, because keyword search does not have the search power like it once did. Companies are going to need to buildup their brands to see if they can have more of a national attraction to them. Obviously, this means other channels are going to be needed then just content marketing to make this happen. Companies are going to need to find a way to get more creative than ever to see if their brand can get more attraction. Colleges and Universities recognize this and consistently include their brand identity with content that they put online.

Summary

Brand Penetration – It should be a goal of every marketing department. In a very noisy and busy world, consumers are making decisions based on information they can obtain.  Companies are going to have to find creative ways to insure their brand is being recognized in the market. I believe this new direction will bring about new technology in the future.  In the meantime, it is important to continue to follow the direction of the current technology and associated internet platforms and look for trends. Finally, the key really comes back to listening and serving clients, without this piece the other parts quickly go away. Do not lose site of that and always strive to be client-driven.

I would welcome your comments on Brand Penetration. What are ways you are penetrating the market today?

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Keywords or Branded Keywords

Branded KeywordsMobile is changing the way we search the internet!

Think about this statement for a moment and think about your own actions with your mobile device.  You are looking for the following items:

  • mens clothes store
  • gas station
  • grocery store
  • convenience store

Now, consider the following way to search. You really like certain brands and you want to see if a particular location has these items.

  • Dillards
  • BP
  • Kroger
  • QuickTrip

Now, think about yourself as a marketer who wants to market your product not only locally, but nationally. In the past, many marketers were able to create great key word search terms that were specific to our current businesses. In fact, many of us including myself purchased domains that were keyword specific.  Up until a year ago, organic keyword search was a viable search strategy. Today, it is still a factor, but its overall penetration has weakened a bit. It appears there is a better way to approach this whole topic of key words.

The Future of Branded Keywords

Moving forward, the direction for smaller businesses  will need to look closer at this idea of combining key words with “Branded Entities) More and more it appears that Google is looking for search results from trusted brand entities to help establish credible search information.

Location Brand : City   (Example: Omaha)

Personal Brand:  (Examples: Full Name + title, company,location, profile, experience)

Combine Keywords with Brand  (food testing, Omaha) (ethanol testing, Midwest Laboratories)

This is not an easy endeavor and it will take some time to see results, but I think if companies are going to be able to connect more and more with their brands and the products and services they provide. To rely strickly on long-tail keyword phrases is very risky.

Transparency

More thought needs to go into how to make branded keywords come to life. One way is through transparency. Companies and their representatives are going to need to come to the forefront and talk about experiences that add value to clients. Being transparent needs to be a cautious approach, especially in light of personal brands connected to company brands. Again, a lot of planning and due diligence needs to occur to insure brands are presented in the best light possible.

Showcase Value to Clients

The ultimate goal here is offering value to clients. Developing a strong brand that people notice is always a daily goal and it should come through with the way clients are served. Companies need to recognize that if they want clients to know what value they can offer, they need to take steps to insure they stay on people’s radar. One way to do that is by looking closer at search marketing and determine where they want to go in the future.

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Build it and they will come

Build it and they will comeI know you have heard this familiar phrase and right now you could say many marketers are using it with respect to their content marketing initiatives.
So much emphasis has been placed on producing content and the results it will bring once it is there. Then, there are people who say it is all about creating quality content for people to read. In both cases the “build it and they will come” mentality is the driving factor.

If you have forgotten about this phrase, check out the scene from Field of Dreams.

The part here that is missing are the other processes that need to take place to help make the content come alive.

Content must be promoted
Yes- It is not as simple as just maintaining a blog site or content site. Marketers need to get the word out and promote the content more and more. Social media sites are a great place to share content and get the news out regarding information that you have posted. I think Linkedin works the best with it’s new publishing platform. I try to do this each time I post an article on the Midwest Labs Blog Site or this site.

Content must be specific
General articles on information do not do nearly as well as articles written on specific topics. Focus on a particular topic and target that market through the use of #hashtags on social media sites. Don’t be concerned about the number of hits you receive on the day the article was posted. Look at the number of hits over a longer time period and determine what follow-up type of articles should be written on specific topics.

Write on Topics that others are not writing on
Too many articles are written on certain subjects. “Why companies should be on social media?” How many of these type of articles can a person read. There are so many articles on this topic that it is really hard to stand out and more than likely your article will say about the same thing every article is saying.

Hare a long-term strategy
Too much emphasis is made on getting results from content marketing in a 30-60 day time period. Unless you are a famous athlete, movie star or some type of celebrity your chances of hitting it big by developing content are not going to happen overnight. That is really ok. I have maintained content on this site and a company site for over three years and the beauty is when you can begin to Build Content on Top of Content. This is where people will begin to see that you are knowledgeable about a particular topic. It is a never-ending job.

Summary
Have a realistic strategy when it comes to content marketing. Make sure that once you start, you keep it going. You will experience peaks and valleys when it comes to readership, but if you write content that no one else is talking about and you promote it and you keep building on it, you will see results. You will not see results necessarily in a viral way, but in a sustaining consistent manner which is much more easier to manage long-term.

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Do you know your internal clients?

Internal ClientsIs this a difference-maker?  Yes it is!

Yesterday, we were visiting with a current client and they graciously thanked our management team for locating our office staff next to our current production processes. They pointed out several times that employees appreciated the top management being accessible at all times. Think about it for a second, how many large companies have their offices in a completely separate building, many miles from their production facility. This is the design of many large companies.

Clients quickly notice this type of culture and really do not know how to address this matte run conversation. This real-life example really helped me  revisit this topic to look at specific areas to look at as part of an evaluation and review.

Names of Employees

Do you know the names of your employees on your production team? Think about a time when you worked at a large company and the CEO came walking down the hall of your department. Did they know your name? If so, that really makes you feel important in a matter of seconds.

Awareness of Issues

The last thing you need as a manager or executive is to learn that an issue has existed for sometime and you were not informed. I see this all the time. Some executives are too busy to want to know what is really happening at their business and they turn away from such issues. Over time, employees pick up on this and tell these type of executives less and less information. Don’t be one of those executives who isn’t aware of issues or turns away from employees who try to communicate potential issues.

Measuring Production

How productive is your staff? Which departments are performing well and which departments are under performing? This information could be extremely important, especially if a new clients is doing business with your company and you are trying to determine why the client’s needs are not being met. Develop a set of metrics to use to help measure productivity.

Understanding important processes and assets

Many top executives do not understand some of the back-bone processes in place at your company. Executives should continually try to build up their knowledge of the company’s products, services, assets and key resources. If you as an executive do not make any attempt to learn more about current processes in your company, why should your employees try to learn more. Lead by example.

Do your internal employees understand how important their job is with respect to clients’ needs

Do you employees simply perform the same tasks day in and day out or do they have a good understanding of why their job is vital to the overall delivery of a product/service. Make sure to connect with employees and ask them what type of work they are working on.

Are you including all employees with respect to personal development?

Some employees are looking to grow and grow at a rapid pace. Are you helping facilitate this process of personal development? Many companies do not have any type of personal development programs. It is critical that employees be able to led through instruction as well as encouraged to seek out their own education outside of work. Try bringing in an outside motivational speaker or determine a topic to discuss.

Do you meet with your client service staff and sales staff on a regular basis?

The relationship that you establish with these teams will speak volumes with respect to the way you inform, sell and support your clients. Everyone needs to be on the same page and know their objectives.  Take time and work with these team members on a daily basis. Find out what projects they are working on and make sure it connects with the work that you are doing.

Accounting/Information Technology

Typically, people in these areas are harder to relate to, but if you make a conscious effort to understand the work that they do, you will see how that relationship may help you down the road when you need these resources for a future project.

 Summary

Get out of your office and start connecting more with your internal clients. These people are the backbone of your company.  Sometimes their work is overlooked and taken for granted. It  you want to be a leader inside your company as well as outside, you need to make sure people are listening to you and are committed to your company mission and vision.

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