Tag Archives: social media

bussroot business card

Business card bewitch

I came across a discussion recently on whether business cards are a thing of the past and should join the obsolete items along with telex machines and comptometers. Anyone remember them?  Or hand-written personal letters. You don’t see many of those now either, apart from the thankyou letter you may send your granny when she’s knitted you a balaclava or a pair of gloves during a cold snap. That’s called ‘good manners’. Although these days Granny may now be too busy surfing the net!

If business cards were banned, (I’m asking you to use your imagination here), would you miss them? I can guess that many of you will claim that technology has replaced the need to hand out cards when the contact details can be scanned into an iphone, blue tooth etc. This leaves me out in the cold then with my basic mobile phone, an ancient Nokia that I’m as comfortable with as an old pair of slippers. So for those of us who can’t scan or input and download, how professional are we going to appear if we scribble our details down on a scrap of paper or the back of a cigarette packet? Thinking about it, there aren’t many cigarette packets around now to scribble on either!

The visiting card began its life in 15th Century China and arrived in Europe in the 17th Century in the form of trade cards, usually with a map showing directions to the business address due to the fact that buildings generally weren’t numbered. The Japanese still treat business cards with time-honoured respect and consider them to be a sign of professional credibility. If Japan is seen as one of the most advanced in modern technology, maybe it’s significant that the Japanese never attend a meeting without them. They accept the card you’ve offered them with both hands, ceremonially. You’ll never see them scribble on it, flip it across the table or fiddle and fidget with it while they’re talking to you. If you stuff the card they’ve given you into your back pocket it’s considered the equivalent of sitting on them. This card represents their standing within the company. Disrespect the card and you disrespect them.

I believe that we’re missing an important point when we talk about business cards being redundant. Above all, I believe they should be treated as a valuable marketing tool and an extension of the brand message. If we trust the law of seven touches or points of contact before a brand is registered subconsciously for future recognition, then surely the business card must play an important part, together with emails, direct mail, other advertising mediums and social media etc. This is assuming the design is appealing and clearly says what you do and who you are, giving all points of reference. Is your card memorable and does it stand out from the rest?

I’m a tactile person. I like to hold the card I’ve been given and refer to it when I’m back in the office. If the design on the card is distinctive, I can instantly recall the meeting, when it was given to me and who it belonged to. If you leave me with your business card I’ll treat it with respect and although the collection may be growing rapidly, I promise it won’t end up in the bin. You don’t even have to be Japanese!

riding

Good customer service

One of my favourite poems ‘How They Brought The Good News From Ghent to Aix’,  written in 1838 by Robert Browning, begins with the line “I sprang to the stirrup, and Joris, and he; I galloped, Dirck galloped, we galloped all three”. The fictitious incident telling of the news which alone could save Aix in Flanders from its fate came into my mind when I decided to put down a few thoughts on customer complaints.

Way back in Browning’s time all news; both good and bad took an age to reach the intended audience. Now, with no need to saddle up, the message travels at a lightening speed, by email, internet and the viral medium of the social media sites.

Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon has said that if you make six customers unhappy, they might each tell 6 friends. If you make six customers unhappy who have access to the internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends globally. It makes sense that if the complainers had been offered support for the problem when it occurred it’s unlikely they would have felt the need to tell the world about how unsatisfied they are. Poor customer service is like a smoldering fire waiting to ignite and spread out of control if it’s not checked. Statistically it’s said that you only need two or three negative comments to change a consumer’s mind about your service or product.

Staff who may not be directly involved in selling still need to be aware of the value they can add when engaging with the customer. Exceptional service begins at the first touch point, often with a telephone call. If the initial response is offhand or brusque, the caller is likely to assume that this is an indication of the poor level of service throughout the company. Many years ago I had an office junior who when asked if anyone had called the office, replied. “No. Apart from a man”. When I asked for his name, her response was simply “Just a man”. I’d guess that not a lot of communication went on there then! It still pains me to recall it today, imagining that it may have potentially been our very best customer ever in the history of the business.

I try to make an effort to be polite and friendly to all callers. They may be attempting to sell me something today from a call centre in a faraway land, but tomorrow the same person may be a corporate CEO and a dream client. The last thing you want to read on Twitter or other social media sites is how poor a response someone has experienced when dealing with your company. If they’ve been unable to get through to you they may well find that complaining over the internet saves them from having to sit on hold waiting to speak to someone, or even worse, listening to an impersonal answer phone message. If that happens, you’ll not be pacifying just one dissatisfied customer, but potentially hundreds if not thousands who now have a negative view of your business. Get it right however, by creating a good experience at all levels and points of contact and the positive message will spread far and wide.

By the way, has anyone tried riding the 95 or so miles from Ghent to Aix at gallop speed on one horse with no rest breaks to deliver a message? Now that’s what I’d call good customer service.

GETTING FRESH!

I’ll let you into a secret if you promise not to let anyone else in on it. Every year, when winter ends, I take out my summer clothes which have been packed away in a trunk and replace them with my cold weather togs ready for my husband to put the trunk back up in the attic for the next 6 months. In reality it may not actually get as far as the attic as it’s never high on his agenda and the trunk is likely to sit in the corner of the bedroom until finally the grand opening day arrives with the start of the next season. I eagerly anticipate the pleasure of sifting through the contents until I’m confronted with the same old uninspiring collection I’ve been hoarding for years. An overwhelming aura of boredom sets in almost immediately. So where’s all this leading? 

There seems to me to be a distinct similarity between both a Corporate and a personal identity. We are consciously aware that we need to refresh our personal image on a fairly constant basis, but may ignore the fact that the visual identity of our brand can become jaded and outdated. The brand image is reflected in the Company logo, typography, literature and product packaging. Although a strong and memorable logo will stand the test of time, even the most outstanding brands need to move with the times with the identity being tweaked as it progresses. If we compare my tired looking wardrobe with a corporate identity, potentially a creative agency serves as both a personal dresser and bespoke tailor. It can be easy to lose touch with how we’re perceived by our customers, to see ourselves how others see us. Ever had a shock when you’re confronted with your reflection in a changing room mirror and can see yourself from all angles? How often do we take a step back and make an honest appraisal of our brand image or ask for an outside honest opinion of how the brand is perceived, the ‘top of mind’ or first impression we make on our customers? 

How many websites do we visit where the copy is out of date, the images are no longer relevant to the brand message and there’s no evidence of a blog or optimization of social media? If we can spot this failing in others, can we be as objective when we review our own on-line marketing strategy? Whether off-line or on-line, the brand personality may well have been spot on when it was originally created, but as with everything fertile, it needs to continue to grow and adapt to an ever changing marketplace. If the image isn’t refreshed from time to time, the reaction from the customer isn’t going to be far removed from mine whenever I open up that clothes trunk. 

How’s your spring image looking?

PICK AND MIX

When you’re sitting down ready to plan your Pick and Mix of the year’s marketing strategy, do you see a clear scheme ahead or do you feel lost and confused? E-Shots and DM’s, cold calls or a constant round of networking? 

Isn’t the simplest solution to put ourselves in the recipient’s shoes? How many of us are convinced that firing out multiple emails indiscriminately will achieve a high percentage of success? I find that I’m becoming increasingly wary of opening a message in my Inbox with the concern that if I don’t recognise and trust the sender, I may well risk downloading a virus or malicious software. With the current deluge of spam from legitimate businesses and constant bombardment of unsolicited sales messages and special offers, overkill on the sending of E-Shots can actually damage a brand. Spam Ratings who monitor this, estimate that 75 per cent of emails received in the UK can be classified as unwanted or nuisance emails. 

So what are the better alternatives? A recent survey by Which magazine reported that the majority would like to see cold calling banned, especially the ‘silent’ timed out calls often made from overseas centres. By the way, in the last 30 minutes I’ve taken 4 unsolicited sales calls from suppliers bearing no relationship whatsoever to our Company profile. In any event, most cold callers fail to get past the ‘gatekeeper’ to reach the decision maker. Twitter, the social networking, microblogging site probably combines the equivalent of e-shots and cold calling in an effective way. Messages posted in 140 characters or less will be easily read by your followers when it’s convenient for them to do so, with the content reaching a wide Twitter business network. The only outgoing from the marketing budget is your time. 

Networking plays an important role in fusion marketing. Meeting face-to-face with the business community gives the opportunity to build connections in a relaxed environment. It requires some research to figure out which groups are going to be most rewarding in the long term and what style of networking you feel comfortable with. Selection on the basis of how big the sausage is on your plate at a breakfast event isn’t likely to equate to the size of business it brings in if your fellow networkers aren’t the right contacts. 

Notably, the more traditional postcard is back in fashion. Custom designed, with a powerful message, an eye-catching and memorable image this has the potential to sit on the recipient’s desk for future reference, unlike an easily deleted or forgotten email message. I quite often rummage through my desk drawer to respond to a piece of direct mail I’ve been saving for when the time was right to use the product or service. I very rarely throw anything away. Royal Mail says that 80% of Direct Mail is opened by the over 65 age-group. Perhaps I’m ahead of my time, or maybe I believe the more mature know that sometimes traditional methods can be trusted not to let you down. 

What’s going into your marketing Pick and Mix for 2011?

TWITTER – THE DOMINO EFFECT

With millions of  subscribers , Twitter is now the most popular micro blogging platform on the web. No other free media platform offers a comparable opportunity to reach and influence large groups of people in the same way that Twitter does. As a marketing tool it has the potential of driving traffic to your website or blog, and offers an effective medium for getting news out quickly and effectively, increasing your exposure. 

It works well as an opinion poll, with multi-National companies monitoring Tweets for both positive and negative comments on their product or service, enabling them to take action to repair the problem, or to acknowledge the praise, often with some form of reward. In the US, it was reported that Amy Korin a Chicago resident, posted on Twitter that she had waited over an hour for a Domino’s pizza delivery. The MD of several of the Domino outlets in the Chicago area, Ramon DeLeon read her Tweet and responded immediately. We may ask why he didn’t have anything better to do late in the evening than search for Tweets about the Domino brand, but maybe it was just professional dedication. Anyway, back to the story. In a direct message on Twitter he promised to compensate Amy for the poor service and followed it with a personal link to a video apology. DeLeon also noted that Amy was a member of the Chicago Social Club and supplied all 350 members with free Pizza. I wonder if they were able to choose the toppings. The point of this story (if you’re wondering) is that the video was re-tweeted by Amy and has since been viewed 87,000 times around the world and mentioned in blogs in dozens of languages, proving that Social Media fires can be put out by Social Media water. There is the argument of course (which I admit to raising in our blog recently) that there’s a very thin dividing line between snooping on customers’ Tweets and monitoring them to positive affect.

Maybe you’re already one of the 4 million Twitter converts, or perhaps you’re still waiting to be convinced of the value in business. When someone first explained the application to me as a means of ‘following someone’, knowing where they are and what they’re up to, I couldn’t see the point. After all that’s what Private Eyes are for isn’t it? Having now got the hang of it, I can see that Twitter is a rich source of information that’s constantly and instantly being updated, keeping followers informed and hopefully sparking an interest in what your Tweets have to say. With a 140 character limit, you can keep your communication short and sweet, using it as a headline linking to wherever you want to lead your followers. So tonight I’ll be tweeting that my take-away meal for 10 people was a tad late in arriving. How about you?

THE GENERAL ELECTION – AM I BOVERRED?


THE GENERAL ELECTION – AM I BOVVERED?

Since the last General Election we’ve seen an explosion of social media, with virals and videos,blogging and micro-blogging, and fans on facebook. Our politicians have become ‘Obamatised’, following the example set in the US elections. They may need to bear in mind however that in the same way that Rome wasn’t built in a day, a network doesn’t appear miraculously overnight, or in our case in the UK, within 4 short weeks. Barak Obama’s Democratic Party had 12 months to prepare the social media campaign.

So can social media significantly influence the vote on May 6th? Considering that in this Country we cast our vote for our local MP and not for the Prime Minister, much may depend on how well and to what extent the individual candidates use Social Media. The Labour candidate Stuart McLennan shot himself painfully in the foot when he posted insulting remarks on Twitter, resulting in his removal as an election contender. It goes to show just how on-line media messages can have both a positive and negative effect and it would be wise for candidates to avoid Tweeting gaffes after they’ve downed a few glasses of their favourite tipple. The Conservatives successfully bid for the keywords ‘Gordon Brown’ and “Nick Clegg’ from Google Adwords. When either name is typed into Google, not only do the pages show the links to the Liberal and Labour leaders’ websites, but a Sponsored link to the Tory Website appears on the right at the top of the page. Good thinking Batman! Or whichever bright spark came up with the idea.

Tweetmaster, the political Twitter group are following online comments on the election, aiming to successfully forecast the result of the final polls. 75% of the electorate are reported as saying they would vote using the internet if they were given the option. The 18-24 year old age group are generally apathetic when it comes to elections, with 86% not even registered to vote. The typical phrase ‘am I bovvered’ springs to mind. It’s primarily this Generation Y that politicians are chasing, especially as a high percentage can’t be reached through newspapers or traditional advertising, with their media consumption mainly being online.

Doorstep canvassing may well be declining, perhaps not before time. A recent quote on the web said “My doorbell is broken and I won’t be replacing it until May 7th”. We may not have seen the last of politicians kissing babies and patting the elderly but there’s no doubt that we’re entering a new electioneering age with the explosion of social media and the ability to pass ‘the word of mouth’ instantly and effectively on line to a potential network of thousands. The political parties may not be slick enough to influence the decision on a grand scale this time around, but in a closely run race they might just tip the scales.