Category Archives: Communications

Listening is paramount for business growth

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

Do you have employees who are smart and engaged and that you suspect have great ideas but don’t seem willing to contribute? Do they trust you to acknowledge their contribution? Do they think you will even listen to their ideas?

Most employees have ideas and while not every one is a gem, some of those ideas will inevitably be good ones. But if the right environment isn’t present, most won’t step forward.

SpyingListen, encourage and acknowledge. Not every idea is a breakthrough but don’t be afraid to say so, while creating a listening environment. It’s an indicator of the health of your business. Talk to  your employees individually on a regular basis. Encourage them to contribute. Build trust.

Over time they will know you value their ideas and it will encourage them .

Good companies don’t have people working in silos. Build a culture that requires interactive listening where people contribute in a meaningful way and are acknowledged for their contribution.

Listening affects how you learn and grow.  Talk to everyone involved in your company and ask for their ideas. The results may surprise you.

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Filed under Communications, Human Resources, Managing, Uncategorized

Paralysis by analysis

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

Over the years I have preached (sorry) about how important it is to measure success. All plans need measurable goals or how will you know if the are working. There are lots of tools available to help measure how your communication/marketing strategy is working online, or even in the traditional media world.

And there is always the opportunity to actually talk to customers to get their feedback.

It’s important to analyze the data to know what’s working and whether you are spending to achieve the best results. It can also help identify opportunities that may not have been part of your original plan.

analysis-paralysis

It takes time to wade through the analysis, particularly with the array of tools available.

Adjustments mid-course can be risky and it’s unlikely you are ready to quickly pull the plug on a plan that just a few months ago was the future of your company. But doing nothing is not an option. You’ll probably overthink it, and come up with several reasons why now isn’t good time to tinker. You will rationalize that you have plausible reasons, and not just excuses.

Push past the paralysis of fear and take a leap of faith, and even if you fail, you’ll farther ahead than if you did nothing.

Measuring your business activity is important. Analyzing the results equally so. Make sure you act on them.

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Filed under Communications, Marketing, Strategic Planning

Emoticons to explain what you really mean

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

Last week I said word of mouth is still the best marketing tool available and how Social Media made it exponentially easier to engage customers in the conversation.

Have you ever had a weird response, sometimes nasty, to an email and on re-reading understood how someone might misinterpret your intent?

IMG_0058Enter the emoticon.

Thirty-three years ago Sunday , a professor at Carnegie Mellon University invented the emoticon. Scott E. Fahlman, along with other members of CMU’s computer science community, used online “bulletin boards” to share information, make announcements, and chat, Fahlman recalled in a post on Carnegie Mellon’s website.

There were also a bunch of posts trying to be funny, Fahlman writes. But the members of Carnegie Mellon’s computer science community had a hard time deciphering sarcasm from more serious posts.

“If someone made a sarcastic remark, a few readers would fail to get the joke, and each of them would post a lengthy diatribe in response,” Fahlman writes. “That would stir up more people with more responses, and soon the original thread of the discussion was buried. In at least one case, a humorous remark was interpreted by someone as a serious safety warning.”

To keep this from happening, some of the group’s members decided they needed a way to mark jokes separately from more serious posts.

“After all, when using text-based online communication, we lack the body language or tone-of-voice cues that convey this information when we talk in person or on the phone,” Fahlman writes.

His solution: using 🙂 to indicate jokes and 😦 to demarcate serious posts.

Of course, it has arguably evolved since then with an emoticon or emoji for every possible sentiment.

Sometimes it’s just easier to pick up the phone. More productive too.

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Filed under Communications, Marketing, social media, Uncategorized

Swapping spit and other marketing initiatives

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

Yesterday I talked about engage, equip and empower your people in social media. Kimberly A. Whitler has lots to say in a recent Forbes article about building a conversation.

Engaging your customers is mostly like swapping spit. It involves more than just promoting your own content. Social media is about sharing, so share what you know -publish useful tips that can benefit others,retweet others and add comments to keep the dialogue going. When appropriate seek advice and always say thank you

tweetYou create a community by sharing. And, when you share it makes members of that community far more likely to share your content too. Recommend some of your followers who also provide engaging content.

Monitor and measure your social media activities There are lots of tools -Twitter analytics, Hootsuite, Klout to name a few.

Keep track of every Twitter mention and respond to them promptly.

Keep the tone of your @replies friendly, even when someone takes a shot. Be calm and try to solve the problem. Personalize the tweeter’s name in your @replies even if the mention is not aimed at getting a response from you, and acknowledge the feelings or opinions of the tweeter.

Yes it takes some work.

Some of the best at engagement.

With more than 2.8 million followers, Adidas Originals does a great job in tracking their brand mentions and replying to every tweet that gives opinions or feedback on their Twitter posts or products.

Delta Airlines and  Samsung USA have Twitter pages dedicated to customer support.Customers receive prompt help via @replies to product queries.

Coca-Cola has one of the most popular Twitter pages with more than 3 million followers. They  make a tremendous effort in acknowledging the tweets with personalized @replies.

Nike with 5 million followers and Starbucks with almost 10 million both excel at engaging their customers  even more with @replies that are very down to earth and of a much friendly tone.

Yes, big brands with lots of staff. The point is engaging customers works. Consider your resources, get to it and measure the return.

Also have a look at Reasons Why Your Followers Aren’t Engaging with Your Tweets.

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Filed under blogging, Communications, Content marketing, social media

Where Do You Leave Your Fingerprints?

JBMG_5500aBy Jeff Bowman

Our fingerprints are a sure-fire way to identify us. We leave them everywhere, and we never give a second thought to it when we touch something. The same holds true with our businesses. We are leaving our finger prints on so many things that to trying to figure out all the places they could be is an impossible task.

Now, of course this may not worry you in the least, but it is beginning to worry me. As a strategist who works with businesses every day, and tries to find the most optimum way to gain market reach and exposure, or consolidate branding messages, I am responsible for leaving those fingerprints as well. If you haven’t yet figured it out, the fingerprint I am talking about is digital, the amount of data that is left on the internet, where today, any smart phone or tablet can access it. Like the “footprints” that were the buzzword only a few years ago, we are leaving these digital fingerprints any time we put any type of information anywhere on the web.

My fear is not that my fingerprint is using up valuable resources that will someday in the future affect the next generations, but that we are getting to a point of what I refer to as “Communication Smudge”. Just touch the screen on your device and the amount of information that we are bombarded with becomes a blur. Getting a message out becomes increasingly difficult. How do you market your product or service electronically and actually get seen? It often reminds me of Dr. Seuss’s Horton Hears a Who. Our message is like the tiny world that sits atop a dust speck on the top of a clover that Horton the Elephant finds in a field.iStock_000005044123Small

Each minute the amount of “stuff” added to the web is simply astounding, and causes the “smudge”, one message just melts into the next. A recent article posted by Neil Spencer illustrates in dramatic style what gets pumped online every minute of every day, and the finger print remains eternally. Here are some highlights:

  1. Over 204,000,000 emails
  2. 48 hours of YouTube uploads
  3. 571 new websites go online
  4. 684,000 Facebook entries
  5. 100,000 tweets.

I didn’t even mention the number of blogs, “likes” and apps that are committed to internet pipelines each minute.

Where and how it will it end? I don’t know. Your digital fingerprints are helping to clog up the system. Perhaps we will reach a point where face to face interaction will once again be the norm and business intelligence won’t come from a touch screen. Pass the Windex!

 

 

 

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Filed under advertising, blogging, Communications, Facebook, Jeff Bowman, Marketing, Media, social media