Sunday, April 29, 2012

Is Your Customer Experience Broken?

According to brand-builder Christine Mauro, "customer experience" is where it's at.

"Customer experience is about meeting customer needs, about choosing and using certain words, about aligning touch points, and about creating relationships," she says.

But marketers often overlook the three touch points with the biggest effect on those relationships, Mauro says.

Voice. Marketers speak inconsistently and use in-house or industry jargon customers don't grasp. "Establish a distinct voice that brings your brand to life, and stick with that voice," Mauro recommends. "Use clear language and jargon-free terminology. Explain details in simple terms that the customer can understand."

Language. Marketers frequently turn off customers by delivering a "fragmented customer experience." One department handles purchases, another rewards; one, payments, another refunds. Worse, they all use their own terminology. But customers think of you as one entity. All departments "should speak the same language, use the same terms, and create a seamless experience."

Fine print. Marketers often think a pretty Website is enough. But good customer experience stems from presenting information well, including fine print. "Consider every single word and graphic element, down to the tiny print of your Terms and Conditions copy," Mauro urges. Your "unheralded touch points such as bills, policies, and all the functional communications that customers interact with on a daily basis" have a huge impact on customer experience.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

PR Flacks: Reap What You Social

PR flacks better watch out for hubris, warns Chris Abraham on Biznology.

Too often, they signal contempt to the the very bloggers they're pitching.

But bloggers have their number.

"Bloggers and other social media online influencers may not know who Edward Bernays is or have the lingua franca of a trained communications professional, but they sure can spot the eye roll of condescension and contempt from a mile away," Abraham writes.

Try as he might, the flack can't fool the blogger he secretly despises.

"If you think that bloggers are actually failed journalists, you may have contempt for your audience; if you consider the time spent by a blogger would be better spent "working," you may have contempt for your audience; if you believe what bloggers do is 'just prattle on,' you may have contempt for your audience; and if you actively play favorites and only engage with the crème de la crème of bloggers, you may have contempt for your audience."

Stifle your snobbery, if you hope to pitch bloggers successfully, Abraham advises. Start by reading How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Secret to Better Blogging

Many social media experts insist that you cannot succeed at blogging without a content plan.

They argue that, without one, you'll procrastinate... or you'll fizzle out.... or you'll stray from your goals, producing off-target posts that fail to earn you followers.

I'm not so sure they're right.

Sure and steady outputeven without a plan to back it upmay be just the thing for you.

In fact, a content plan may be the last thing in the world you need.

If planning your blog's content seems foreign, you might be the kind of writer economist David Galenson calls a "seeker."

Seekers, Galenson says, share "persistent uncertainty about their methods and goals."

And that uncertainty leads them to be dissatisfied with their output.

"Their dissatisfaction impels them to experiment, and their uncertainty means that they change their work by trial and error, moving tentatively toward their imperfectly perceived objectives."

One example of such a writer is the novelist Virginia Woolf.

Describing her production of M
rs. Dalloway, Woolf wrote, "the idea started as the oyster starts or the snail to secrete a house for itself. And this it did without any conscious direction. The little note book in which an attempt was made to forecast a plan was soon abandoned, and the book grew day by day, week by week, without any plan at all, except that which was dictated each morning in the act of writing."

How about you?

Are you a planner?

Or a seeker?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Boomers: Which Kind of Genius are You?

Social entrepreneur Marc Freedman, writing for Harvard Business Review, cites the research of economist David Galenson, who by studying painters concluded there are two kinds of geniuses.
Conceptual geniuses do their best work before the age of 30. These "finders" produce breakthroughs early in their careers, then peter out.
Experimental geniuses peak later in life. These "seekers" need decades of trial and error to accumulate the ideas and techniques that mark their signature work.
Freedman thinks Galenson's research is good news for entrepreneurial-spirited Baby Boomers.
"One in four Americans between the ages of 44 and 70—about 25 million people—are interested in starting their own businesses or nonprofit organizations in the next five to 10 years," Freedman writes.
Provided they didn't peak in their 20s, these 25 million Boomers stand to succeed in launching new ventures, because they bring decades of experimentation to the task.
Half of these aging entrepreneurs also want to "give back" through their new businesses.
"Research shows that half of those who want to become midlife entrepreneurs—more than 12 million people ages 44 to 70—also want to meet community needs or solve a critical social problem at the same time," Freedman writes.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Three Cheers for the Clarity Crowd

Connoisseur of clarity that I am, I was pleased to learn about Marketing Sherpa's latest research finding. 

B2B marketers believe clarity is the "top tactic in developing effective value propositions."

A value proposition states the primary reason customers choose you over your competitors. 

According to Marketing Sherpa, your value proposition should describe:
  1. What your company does and 
  2. Why an "ideal customer" buys from you

Nearly 70 percent of marketers have written value propositions, the research finds. And 70 percent of those believe "clearly explaining the value of your product or service" should be the aim in writing one, if you want it to be effective.

Three cheers for the clarity crowd!

But don't count yourself in, if you prefer poppycock like this (used by a real company that shall remain nameless):

"XYZ is a global systems integrator with deep experience in creating and managing sophisticated IT solutions for US government agencies within the United States and abroad in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. We only partner with trusted, agile and best-of-breed partners who possess the same level of experience and commitment to delivering IT solutions that meet our customer's needs."

Are you having trouble achieving clarity?

Read my special report, Path of Persuasion.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

ROI in Trade Shows? Fuggedaboutit.

It's time to change the conversation about trade shows.

Savvy exhibitors have ceased thinking quixotically about ROI and moved on to more urgent and practical matters.

What do they want from their trade shows spend?

It's pretty darn simple.

Leads and sales.

Exhibit marketing isn't like the other popular B2B marketing tactics.

Websites, Webinars, SEO, paid search, e-mail, PR, print advertising, direct mail and social media are all one or more steps removed from personal selling.

Executives demand fancy evidence of ROI in them, because they can readily suck up time and money without clearly driving sales.

But exhibit marketing is different.

It's so closely tied to personal selling that executives don't demand elaborate proof of ROI in it. No more than they demand that salespeople "prove" with charts and graphs the ROI in phone calls, travel, lodging, hospitality and gifts.

Any particular trade show, instead, is judged a lot like a salesperson is judged.

In assessing a show's performance, executives want to know:
  • Does the show help our company communicate effectively?
  • Does it help us establish industry leadership?
  • Does it let us identify promising accounts?
  • Does it help us educate and develop buyers?
  • Does it create valuable relationships?
  • And does it, when all's said and done, produce sales?
ROI in trade shows?


Friday, April 6, 2012

How to Write a Blog Post that Will Attract 10,000 Followers

During a recent conference, a social media expert told me, "Writing super-sticky blog posts is so easy, a chimp could do it."
So I sought out accomplished blogger and social media maven Joe Young and asked him to share his secrets.
Here's what he said in answer to my question, "How do you write a blog post that will attract 10,000 followers?"
BOB: Joe, first off, how do you get started?
JOE: Never begin with an idea or point of view. Those things are for sissies. If you want to write a blog post that ranks well and draws visitors to your site, start by using Google's keyword tool to find "Low Competition" keywords. Once you find enough of them, string the keywords together in sentences. Of course, I'm exaggerating when I say "sentences," because sentences typically have a point.
BOB: What's the next step?
JOE: Now that you have all the keywords stuffed into "sentences," you need to chop your achievement into bite-size pieces, so visitors don't choke. That's where section headers come in handy. The more, the better.
BOB: Any finishing touches you recommend?
JOE: After you have compiled your content, sliced and diced it, and added headers, be sure to go back and insert a lot of obvious grammatical mistakes and punctuation errors. You don't want visitors to think you're a snob. Gotta be authentic.
BOB: I understand graphics are important, too.

 Absolutely! Most people are now using mobile apps to read blog posts. An image will lure them in. Videos work well, too. But a word of warning about them. If you use videos in your blog, be careful to keep them super-low quality. Followers hate "slick." Again, gotta be authentic.   
BOB: Is there anything else to writing a blog post that attracts 10,000 followers?
JOE: Nope.
BOB: Well, I'll be a monkey's uncle.
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