Category Archives: Social Networking

Does Your Business Respond With RAGE?

JBMG_5500aBy Jeff Bowman

Nothing says more about a company than how they respond to customer complaints. As hard as we might try to be perfect in our business, there will always be something that someone either doesn’t like or appreciate about what we do. As we all know, most people will never complain directly to you, however they will talk to everyone they know behind our corporate backs, and that is far more damaging than expressing their concerns directly in the first place.

The thing is, that business owners often don’t want to hear complaints, they don’t encourage customer interaction and often won’t acknowledge there is even an issue. Educated consumers and social media have been changing all that!  Now the “talk to their friends behind your corporate back” means involving the masses through “internet interaction”.  There have been tons of high-profile cases where social unrest bred through internet or twitter posts have led to serious issues for large corporations.  Kevin Smith vs, Southwest Airlines , Lulu Lemon’s “exposure” grew tremendously due to the web. Maritz Research recently studied Twitter complaints and found that almost 70% went unresponded to by the company being tweeted about! That is simply unacceptable in today’s business world

Conversely, the study found that 83% of the complainants that received a reply liked or loved the fact that the company responded.Liked or loved, those are some pretty strong words! I’ll bet that those companies who responded did it with RAGE.  RAGE is my acronym for Recognize, Acknowledge, Gauge and Evaluate.

To be able to recognize that there is an issue, you need to invite conversation through social media, so that consumers can hopefully talk to you first. If they like the response, chances are they will not only like it, but respond socially in a more positive light about you.

When you acknowledge, you do it with empathy and understanding.  Put yourself in the consumer’s boots and respond in a way that shows real concern and a desire to rectify the situation.

Continue to gauge social media to determine if there is more to the issue than a few scattered complaints, as well as seeing if your goodwill is gaining you points by those who you have responded to.  Is your name popping up elsewhere or are you trending?

Finally, evaluate what happened, how quickly you responded, the importance of your actions, the outcome and if there is anything else that is warranted to be done. Try to measure the increase in goodwill that occurs after the initial interaction.

Utilizing RAGE to your benefit will help you turn dissatisfaction into trust, respect and business growth.  Turn those with complaints into your company’s evangelists and turn the social media tide in your favour.

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Filed under blogging, Communications, Customer Service, Jeff Bowman, social capital, social media, Social Networking, twitter

Word of mouth requires word of mouth

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

About a year ago I watched my 15-year-old grand-daughter text her girlfriend, who was sitting opposite on the couch. My wife thought it was a secret conversation that perhaps they didn’t want to share. But since then, some of my friends have shared similar experiences with today’s youth and I am concerned that they will lose the skill that will best elevate their careers, promote their businesses, advance their cause. Word of mouth.

Text MessagingWord of mouth is the cash cow of marketing. Yet, we seem to go to great lengths to avoid our customers. Are we afraid of what they might say? Do we lack confidence in our product or service offering?

Strange, perhaps, that social media is forcing us to acknowledge that being social is good for business. The tools are there to help build on that social interaction not create a barrier between you and your customer. And for businesses that get it, tools like Twitter and LinkedIn, Facebook and Pinterest provide a foundation on which to build a strong business relationship that ultimately means face time and that’s where business begins.

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Filed under advertising, Communications, Facebook, LinkedIn, Marketing, Pinterest, social media, Social Networking, Stephen Rhodes, twitter

Is Twitter Right for My Business?

By Jeff Bowman

I have presented to many companies and organizations over the last year on the value of Twitter to their outreach and marketing agendas. I hear the same question with every group, “Is Twitter right for my business?”  My response to them is to figure out if their business is right for Twitter first.  Not all businesses are well suited to using this exponentially growing social media tool.  Many have found that out for themselves, while are others are still struggling to entice followers. The ability to make your point in 140 characters, even less if you are hash tagging or linking an article, is a skill that needs to be honed for most business owners.

Twitter has grown by leaps and bounds over the last couple of years and what started out as an application for brief sharing of information has now grown into a popularity contest among celebrities to see who can out twit the other. Lady Gaga is currently the reigning tweeb with upwards of 20 million followers waiting for the next sentence to be delivered from her twitter account. Justin Bieber is not far behind. The Philadelphia Wings Lacrosse Team now have their twitter handles on the back of their game sweaters.  I fear that soon a player will finish their shift and go to the bench where electronic devices are waiting for them to tweet about the last 45 seconds they played. There are already rules in place in some organizations about not tweeting 2 hours before the game, a rule that used to be reserved for another type of expressive activity!

Recent statistics show that 40% of all tweets are “pointless babble”, another 37.5% are merely conversational.  Only about 8.7% of tweets have any informative or pass along value. How will an organization ever be able to effectively use the medium without getting lost in Babylon? This brings us back to the question is your business right for twitter? There are a few questions to ask yourself before moving forward.

  1. Do I have something of note to share?
  2. Is my tweeting going to be consistent?
  3. Am I looking for total number of followers or will I be selective, with a target demographic in my approach?
  4. Is my real intent to spam for sales and business leads?
  5. Will I actually follow and respond to those who choose to follow me?
  6. Can I be succinct and interesting?

If you have valid answers to the questions above, then your business may be right to enter the twitesphere. The next step is to figure out the type of followers you want.  Be aware that after your first couple of tweets, you will get spam followers, self promoters and an assortment of automatically generated none profiled (eggs) following you. You will need to view each follower’s profile to determine if they are people who might have something interesting to say.  By no means do you have to follow everyone back. I usually check to see how many people they follow, how many followers a contact has and how many tweets they have made.  I’ve seen tweebs with thousands of follows, and single digit tweets over a several month period, as well as those that generate 50 tweets a day.

Treat Twitter with a little respect. Understand that not everyone will find you interesting, and that it may take a long time to build a good following.  Try to pass on quality tweets, retweet things you find interesting and start conversations on important topics to your industry. Everyday there is more and more babble, there is still plenty of opportunity to make Twitter an important part of your overall marketing and communication strategy.

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Filed under Communications, Jeff Bowman, Marketing, Media, Sales, Social Networking, twitter

Fresh Coffee or Stale Email

By Jeff Bowman

The deeper we get into the technology age, the more enamored I am becoming with the 20 minute meeting over a fresh cup of coffee.

Email has, in large part replaced the telephone as the method most preferred by business people to contact clients and perform some after networking activities. It is quick, it is recorded and saved in your email file and can be done at any hour of the day. Sure, it sounds great, except for the fact that I have to wait for a response, possibly lose the response to my junk mail box, and almost certainly will have to go back and forth a couple of times in order to ensure the information is accurate and confirmed.

A meeting over coffee (or latte, or super juice or whatever your drink of choice) allows a relationship to advance through the various stages in a relaxing environment with no pressure. A nice spot away from the office with a face to face meeting is essential in breaking down barriers to communication that exist in other modes of contact.  I’m not advocating setting up an office on wheels in your local establishment, just a simple get together once or twice a week with clients, networking acquaintances, suppliers or even a co-worker.

A study conducted in 2005 , which was focused on examining the relationship between caffeine and ‘social’ processes, “found that coffee increases mental alertness, focus and concentration. This heightening of mental capacity allows people to open up, process and understand the ideas being discussed during a coffee meeting.” The study also went on to find that drinking coffee makes a person more open to new ideas and persuasion.

If I have a choice between spending 20 minutes or so face to face with a person, in a relaxed atmosphere, where they are more open to new ideas and have greater mental alertness, or speaking into a cell phone from my parked car with traffic and distractions all around me, or sending an e-mail to a person who may not give it any consideration or misunderstand my intentions in sending it, the choice is simple. Technology has certainly made it easier to reach people, but certainly not to communicate in the true sense of the word.

Relationships are built on trust and understanding.  When I am unable to read the body language and clearly identify the tone, the rhythm of speech and the volume of the voice, I am missing over 90% of the real communication. The call to action is to use one of those “other” tools to set up a coffee meeting today. No excuses! See the difference a little shared time can make.

I’ll have a double double and a dutchie!

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Filed under Communications, Jeff Bowman, Social Networking

B2B Sales Specialist – The Hunter

By Jeff Bowman

The face of sales has certainly changed in response to the emergence of online marketing and social media growth.

Sales people today need to be somewhat tech savvy, and knowledgeable about current trends, changing as quickly as they are. In the B2B world, with all the emphasis on customers finding you, and elaborate tracking systems to analyze who views what page and for how long, it is sometimes difficult to determine what the role of a salesperson should be.

The basic competencies required to be a professional salesperson have remained relatively consistent over the last 20 years.  Listening skills, attitude, trustworthiness, personable, and the ability to develop relationships.

I don’t care how much people think sales has changed, when it comes down to the negotiating and the relationship aspect of B2B sales, a strong salesperson is still a company’s best asset. Sure, there are some incredible tools available to deliver the message to your target audience, even in the seemingly bottomless World Wide Web. The fact remains, that the daily business transactions of most small to large B2B businesses are still conducted at arm’s length through some degree of human interaction. This is where the Hunter becomes critical to the success of business.

I have never encountered a salesperson or team that has not found some aspect of the sales process to be problematic. Therein lies the rub! The Hunter enjoys the chase, and thrives on solving problems and closing deals.

A dedicated Hunter knows how to find potential business, and understands the prospect of someone else bagging the game. Following the trail of B2B business can take weeks or months.

Online marketing, has and will continue to influence sales,  however a good Hunter will always and should always be in demand for companies seeking to do business with other companies. They are your most valuable and cost-effective resource.  Sales has never been a wait and see reactive type of profession.

The proactive, knowledgeable Hunter will always procure more B2B business through their ability to establish a trusting relationship, which in turn secures continual revenue generating transactions for years to come from that client.

If your company doesn’t have a Hunter is the competition getting the lion’s share of the spoils?

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Filed under B2B, Jeff Bowman, Managing, Media, Online marketing, Sales, Social Networking