Tag Archives: twitter

networking

Networking nibbles

The scepticism surrounding networking which frequently surfaces makes me smile. We hold a relaxed business get together once a month for local people on Twitter who want to meet up face to face and we call it ‘Cruddle’. It’s held in a quaint country pub where the regulars are understandably protective of their territory and wary of outsiders. A conversation overheard at a recent meeting went something like this; “Who are that lot over there?”. The whispered response, “N.e.t.w.o.r.k.e.r.s”, resulted in a knowing look, a nodding of the head and an equally low-toned reply of “Ah! Networkers!”, firmly setting us aside as something more than a little ‘strange’.

Now I have to confess I’m a networking devotee. As someone who dreaded cold calling, it has aided my escape from being confronted by a Rottweiler or similar deterrent guarding the door to the decision maker preventing any likelihood of making contact. Networking events are (usually) Rottweiler-free and even if your ideal client doesn’t attend the same meeting as you, there’s a fair chance that someone in your group is able to give you an introduction and referral. It’s not always about the business done and dusted on the day, but more about the potential of being put in touch with the right people at the right time. Generally speaking fellow networkers don’t bite.

However, if you want to get the most out of networking, you need to be generous. That doesn’t mean offering the people sitting at your table a share of your breakfast, or buying a round of drinks at the bar. It’s about being on receive and not only using the transmit button when you’re engaging in conversation. There’s nothing more irritating when you’re given a designated 10 minute slot to chat with someone, only to find they use the entire time to sell you a service or product without asking a single question about your business. Admittedly it takes conscious effort to develop good listening skills in the same way in which there’s an art to being a good speaker. I love the William Jennings Bryant quotation; ‘Two people in a conversation amount to four people talking. The four are what one person says, what he really wanted to say, what his listener heard, and what he thought he heard.’ Although establishing business relationships within a group takes time to build an element of trust, this inevitably results in a network of ambassadors who will essentially help you to expand your business contacts, while you in turn help them to expand theirs.

These observations should in no way be perceived as discrimination against Rottweilers, some of whom I’m sure are the gentlest of dogs. It should also be noted that although networkers may not bite, even friendly ‘puppy dogs’ are known to bark aggressively if you’ve caught them on a particularly stressful day. In this case, it may actually be wise to share your breakfast or offer them a drink. Give and take. That’s what good networking’s about isn’t it?

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Cross selling chances

By sheer co-incidence the subject of cross-selling came up several times this week, along with a discussion on ‘opportunity’ during a networking breakfast, which prompted me into giving both more thought. As one would expect when companies are experiencing challenging times within their niche business, some reach outwards in an attempt to capture a larger share of the market.

It’s becoming increasingly common to see businesses making the most of an existing service by offering add-on compatible services and products, enhancing the value of the brand. Recently we’ve seen a local florist open a café integral with the shop and a pet store with an on-site veterinary practitioner. This is by no means a new concept. During the recession in the late 1980’s and the early 1990’s, when retail sales were depressed, the Garden Centre industry in particular seized the opportunity to branch out into a wider area of retailing. Previously known in the main for simply selling plants and plant products many became an attractive venue to spend leisure time, with an in-store restaurant, gift department, special events and gardening seminars delivered by experts. The introduction of cross-selling of new products and innovative services gave them an advantage over the increasing competition from supermarket and DIY chains who had also moved into the market by opening plant areas within their stores. Plant nurseries, often owned by second or third generation family growers, became astute retailers, adapting to the needs of their customers, offering a one-stop shop for the leisure market.

The horticultural industry is a prime example of how by branching out and seizing an opportunity and giving the customer what they need, rather than simply what we want to sell them, secures repeat custom and enhances the value of our core business. This doesn’t have to be limited to retail. Bussroot has been approached by so many clients asking for tips on how to get up and running on Twitter that we now offer one-to-one mini tutorials on joining the Twitterati and starting to tweet.

It’s not simply about the shoe shop selling polish when you buy a new pair of shoes. You’d be happy for them to offer you a cup of coffee while you’re waiting wouldn’t you? To quote the Greek orator and statesman Demosthenes; “Small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises”.

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?

TWITTERING ON….

What a difference a year has made for those of us who can be considered Internet or Digital Immigrants, defined by the Urban Dictionary as ‘someone who has not grown up with the current technology’. I meandered into the world of Twitter around 12 months ago, unconvinced of any business benefit. The words of the comedian Bill Bailey spring to mind when he said something to the effect of “I posted on Twitter that I was eating a sandwich and 17 people immediately tweeted to ask what kind of sandwich”. But then on thinking about it, at least the Twitterati were aware of his existence. They’d noticed him. If something as inane as eating habits caught the attention of however many ‘followers’, shouldn’t tweeting business news and links to your blog or website work as effectively? If you’re reading this in response to our Tweet, then there’s proof that it does. We all like free advertising, even more so when it gets results. 

If like me, you’ve arrived late on the scene and are blinking slightly at the bright new world of technology, you may need to hook up with an Internet Native who will translate the language of microblogging and social networking to kick start your fusion marketing. Internet Natives, those in their 20’s think differently. They want to access information rapidly, send messages instantly and they thrive in a networking environment. We, the immigrants still talk of ‘dialing a number’, or ‘looking things up’ instead of ‘searching’. We’ve arrived late on the scene and our accent and vocabulary give us away. If we remain resistant to the ever rapidly changing technological landscape we run the risk of missing out on a valuable business tool. However, Twitter on it’s own, even if used effectively, still needs to be reinforced with face-to-face networking and interaction on sites such as Linkedin. We have local Twuttles and Twuddles, meeting up with followers in a relaxed environment, where we can learn to adapt to our new environment at ease, putting a face to the Twitter name. It’s true that we may need to weed through what may seem to be pointless babble on sites such as Twitter and Facebook but if 100 of our followers take note of what our business has to offer and this is then read by all of their followers, the message spreads far and wide. To quote the BP President Bill Schrader, “Almost overnight, the internet’s gone from a technical wonder to a business must”. 

So, what’s in your sandwich today?

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?