Customer Loyalty: What Are You Doing ?

January 29, 2014

All too often we focus so much on getting new customers that we forget about who’s supporting us now! I believe the rule of thumb is it takes 5 times as much effort to get a new customer than it does to keep an existing one.

Customer satisfaction is the main force in developing loyal customers. Why are Loyal Customers so important?

  • Repeat business.
  • More open to try new products from a reliable source (you).
  • They become Brand Ambassadors.

There are several things you can do. A loyalty program, special incentives on certain products and giving them the first chance on buying a new product line before it hits the street are just a few examples. How about a simple thanks via an email or postcard. When was the last time one of your vendors thanked you for your business? Probably not many, and if they did, you’re sure to remember them.

Have you ever calculated what a customer’s worth is over time? Say you have a 30-year old contractor that usually buys $5,000 worth of your stuff a year. Doesn’t sound like much, but if you keep him happy, you probably will have him for 30 years before he retires. So assuming he doesn’t grow his business or you don’t come out with anything new for him to buy over the next 30 years, he would have spent $150,000 with you. Is he worth keeping? I’d say so. So what are you doing to keep him happy? Unless you’re selling a proprietary product, your competition is knocking on his door every chance they get. Give your customer a reason to stay.

I know many of you who follow me don’t buy shoes online, but I’d bet that if you asked your wife if she’s heard of Zappos, she’d say yes. I picked them as an example and even wrote a post on their book, Does Customer Service Deliver Happiness, where they show that by even selling name branded shoes online, they could, in many cases, outsell the brand itself  in the online arena. The way they did it was with customer service.

So here are some points for you to consider when evaluating your Customer Service department:

  • Try to keep the personal touch (human being) as the initial touch point if you can.
  • Empower your CS people to solve a problem immediately without having to go through 3 levels of supervisors.
  • Reward customers with a loyalty program as a way of saying thanks.
  • Customer surveys are a great way to get feedback, not only on how you’re doing, but for getting ideas for future products.

When Was the Last Time You Actually Talked to Your Customers?

January 22, 2014

I get so frustrated sometimes, both internally and externally, with emails going back and forth a million times to answer questions or get the proper information that I could scream!

PICK UP THE PHONE! Sometimes we get so caught up in things that we forgot about some of the basics in selling and communicating techniques. Emails are great for getting info and normal communications, but it’s difficult to build a relationship with them. Same holds true for texting.

Those of you that are older than 40 can remember back in the day when you actually talked to customers on the phone and even went and saw them face-to-face sometimes and maybe even had lunch with them. Now I know times have changed, and I’m not trying to downplay the importance of tools like email, but don’t you agree that it’s nice now and again to actually talk to another human?

Here’s a suggestion. Take your top 10 customers and try to have a conversation with them a few times a year. Here’s a novel approach, call them up and thank them for their business and for the long-standing relationship you’ve had over the years. Ask about what keeps them up at night and if you can help resolve some of their business issues.

Don’t you think that might get more mileage than sending them an email? If nothing else, I’ll bet you’ll feel better after talking with them.

There are studies out there and I’ve seen it first hand that the under-30 crowd would rather text than talk. What happened to interpersonal relationships? How are they going to make it in the business world?

We need to keep the basic communication tools as we move down that super internet highway.

Plan, Plan, Plan

January 16, 2014

From Rachel Kerstetter, PR Engineer

For most of us, a new year is a lot like a blank slate. New goals are set at the beginning of each year and new initiatives are undertaken.

IMAG2441To have a successful year, it’s important to do more than just set goals. You don’t just jump in the car to go to a new location for the first time, you look at how to get there, how long the trip will take or at least put the destination into your GPS. That’s planning.

Planning is crucial no matter how big of a project you’re going to start. Whether you’re initiating a rebranding campaign or creating a 30-second video, you have to plan, plan, plan.

To map out your journey to your goal, decide:

  • Who will be involved. Make sure you know who will be in charge of each aspect of your project and if you’ll need outside help.
  • What outline the strategy and tactics of your plan. Sometimes this is a simple statement of intent and the steps the “who” of your plan will take. Other times this is a large document that will guide your team in your new effort.
  • Where you will focus. In the example of a 30-second video, the where is not only your filming location but where the video will go next. If it’s a product advertising campaign, will you use print, digital, broadcast or other types of ads?
  • When will your project start, end and when are your check-in points. A large year-end goal is great, but plan for pit stops along the way to see how you’re progressing and rework that plan.
  • How will your project get done and how much will it cost. Make sure you know what time, talent and equipment resources you need and how much you can spend to complete your project.

Your plan is your road map to completing a project. You can’t always plan for everything, but having a plan in place gives you guidance along the way and can help you navigate whatever detours you encounter.

What Are You Doing to Grow Your LinkedIn Connections?

January 14, 2014

From a B-to-B perspective, LinkedIn is one of the better networking tools. I like it because it’s strictly for business. You can also join groups that focus on various industries or topics. As you build your network, it’s important to know the do’s and don’ts.

I recently read an article by Melonie Dodaro in Social Media Examiner, 6 Ways to Grow Your LinkedIn Connections, that give you some practical tips on growing your connections. Here are some highlights:

  • Profile image - make sure you have a good, professional shot. Remember this is their first impression of you and you only get one chance.
  • Keyword optimization - keep it to 3-4 top words you want to be associated with. Don’t stuff your keywords or people will pass you by.
  • Personalize your connection request - let them know how you got their name. Whether it was from a common business associate, a group you both belong to, or maybe they do a blog that you follow.
  • Ask for endorsements - From people you know, don’t be afraid to ask. If they know, like and trust you, they would be happy to do you a favor. You should also reciprocate and endorse skills of folks you know.
  • Treat recommendations like references - you want to be sure those who are recommending you have a good reputation. Rule of thumb, never accept a recommendation from someone you don’t know.

Hopefully these tips will help you grow within LinkedIn.

Are you Having Trouble Getting the Staff on Board Supporting Social Media?

January 8, 2014

I think most marketers realize that social isn’t going away and they need to plan to incorporate it into their overall marketing strategy. Marketers also know that adding social means more work for their existing staffs.

One of the biggest issues is push back from others within the organization. While marketing may be in charge of social media, it doesn’t mean they have to carry the entire load. I recently read an article by Stephanie Shkolnik in Social Media Examiner that outlines suggestions on why to get employees involved. Here are some highlights:

  • Define the end goal - like any other initiative, we need to define objectives on what we’re trying to accomplish and how we are going to measure its success.
  • Create a task force - whether you’re a one-man band marketing department or have a big staff, you need to get others involved and they can and should come from other departments. Tap into sales, customer service, engineering, R&D and general management to be part of the process.
  • Develop a strategy - that will involve the whole company.
  • Be consistent - hold regular meetings with the team and track your progress.

If you get others involved and explain what the goal is, it will become easier to get others on board and share the responsibility.

Podcast: Link Building is Dead – Long Live Link Building

January 7, 2014

Welcome to another edition of Marketing Insights. Today, we’re talking with Sage Lewis, President of SageRock, a search marketing agency here in the Midwest.

link building is dead

Sage is the author of the #1 bestselling book on Amazon - Link Building is Dead. Long Live Link Building, and we’re going to pick his brain today about the book.

Sage highlights why people who are focused on search engine results should read this book. It’s an easy read even for someone like me, and it costs less than a Starbucks coffee for a digital copy.

Click here to listen to podcast.


A Picture is Worth…

December 12, 2013

Today’s post is from our PR Engineer, Rachel Kerstetter.

We’re deep into mapping out marketing plans for 2014. When meeting with an editor to talk about their content needs in the next year, one comment stood out to me the most, “We found that pictures are the most popular.”

The #1 item they requested from us (and our clients) next year is photos. If you’ve been paying attention to marketing and social media trends over the past couple of years, you know that the entire internet is becoming more visual. In fact, a picture might be worth far more than a thousand words now.

According to Jeff Bullas’ blog post 6 Powerful Reasons Why You Should Include Images in Your Marketing, images encourage people to engage with your content. When I think about my own news browsing habits, I’m more likely to click on an article that has an intriguing image.

Jeff shared some interesting stats, including:

  • Articles with images get 94% more total views.
  • Including photos or videos with press releases increases views by more than 45%
  • Facebook engagement rates for photos are 37% higher than plain text

I highly recommend reading the rest of his blog post for some tips on integrating photos.

Courtesy of: B2B Infographics

6 Ways to Make Your Marketing to Tradesmen More Effective

December 11, 2013

Today we have so many options to reach our targeted audiences. While I’m a proponent of trying new things, we must not lose sight of who we’re trying to reach. More importantly, we need to identify the preferred way they like to be communicated with.

I wrote this post in 2009 and it still holds true today.

Below are six ways you can make your marketing to tradesmen more effective:

1. Focus On What You Can Control

You can’t control what’s going on in Washington, the economy or most other market factors. However, you do have control over your marketing. Recognize where the demand is and go after it. Don’t be afraid to try something new.

2. Re-Evaluate Your Marketing Goals

Based on what’s happening with the economy, are your company’s marketing goals achievable? It may be time to re-state and re-prioritize your goals.

3. You Can’t Manage What You Can’t Measure

Take a hard look at the performance of your marketing plan. I know something like ad awareness is costly and hard to measure. But things like trade show leads, direct mail and online programs are measurable. Look hard and, if needed, reallocate and optimize your budget. You can’t afford underperforming programs.

4. Fish Where The Fish Are

You know who your customers and potential customers are. Make the most of your marketing investment and increase your visibility through targeted vehicles where your prospects will see your message and take action.

5. Integrated Marketing

We’ve always been advocates of tying your messages to various touch points for your customers. This synergistic method allows you a better bang for the buck! And don’t forget to bring the sales team up-to-speed as to what you’re doing. They’re an extension of your marketing efforts.

6. Focus On Quality

More is not necessarily better. The quality of your sales leads is far more important. If you adhere to the previous five suggestions, you will deliver better-quality leads, which will improve your bottom line and make everybody happy.

What are you doing to reach your targeted audiences?

Tradesmen Are People Too – Put the Cool Factor Into Your B2T Branding

December 4, 2013

Most B-to-B companies don’t take connecting with their customers on an emotional level as a serious tactic in their branding strategy. They contend that customers base decisions on facts, not opinions or not on silly things like emotion.

Yes, it’s important to talk about quality and the features and benefits that set you apart from the competition. But contractors and  tradesmen as a whole are also influenced by other outside influences, both in making personal as well as business decisions.

You need to set yourself apart from your competitors and have customers not only remember you, but want to buy from you.

Let’s take an example of buying a motorcycle. If you went on the facts about performance, you’d probably buy a BMW; if it was reliability, you’d buy a Honda, and if you wanted to be cool (emotion), you’d buy a Harley.

Harley’s brand is built on emotion, and those contractors buy that Harley because emotions play an important part in the decision-making process.

Manufacturers who realize this have built a brand that includes using emotion as part of their overall strategy. Emotional branding is a business imperative because emotions are inevitability part of the decision-making process.

So when planning your next marketing effort, what will you be riding?

What Are You Doing to Improve Your Content Marketing Performance?

December 3, 2013

When you go to all the work to create great content, don’t miss out on opportunities to share it. We’re all guilty of getting into a routine when creating content and rarely deviate from it, whether it be because of time constraints or just laziness. The point is, we need to shake it up a bit sometimes.

According to 2014 B2B Content Marketing Trends, there are over two dozen tactics that you could use. Here are some that I think are important in going after the professional tradesman:

  • Offer useful info on your website - Make sure to include topics that help folks through your selling cycle.
  • Industry newsletters - As you collect email addresses, send out a regular newsletter quarterly or monthly. If you are selling to several different audiences, segment the newsletters so they will be more meaningful for those who read them.  A plumber probably isn’t interested in something a HVAC guy would be. Don’t be concerned about the size of the lit, but the quality of it. I’d rather be regularly communicating with 500 key prospects than 5,000 unqualified ones.
  • Case Studies - By market or application are in high demand by your target audience. Tradesmen like to see what their peers are doing and the results. Post on your website, use it as an e-blast to your targets and have them reprinted so your sales force has something to hand out.
  • Videos - How to and feature and benefit videos are an easy way for you to get your point across. Put it on your website, and put it on YouTube (create your own channel) with the appropriate search terms.
  • Online Presentations – Take those PowerPoints you do everyday on why you’re better than the other guys and put it on your website, along with putting it on SlideShare with appropriate key words.
  • Podcasts - Even if you don’t have a blog, you can utilize this tactic. Interview an industry leader on the issues of the day or what’s coming down the line that might impact your reader. You can use it again on your website and do e-blasts to targeted audiences.

Those are some highlights from my point of view. Whether it’s utilizing these tactics or others, step outside the box and try other things. You’ll be glad you did.


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