In January of 2013 I attended New Media Expo for the first time. I have been to many conferences and this one was much better than most. I bought the content creator pass, went to tons of sessions, all of the keynotes and walked the trade show many times. I even bought the virtual sessions on-site so that I could watch the ones I missed when I got home. It was an engaging conference and I came away a satisfied customer who immediately blocked off the time to return to Vegas for NMX in 2014.
To put things in perspective, here is a little background about me. This blog is a side project for me and I don’t derive any significant income from it. I don’t drink or gamble and I am a big-time introvert. So going to conferences like this, especially in Vegas, are not my natural tendency and I end up footing the bill out of my own pocket. With conference fees, airfare, hotel & food I figure I spent about $2,000 to go to New Media Expo in 2013.
Fast forward to NMX 2014. I put in for my vacation time from work, bought my plane ticket, had the hotel and rental car all setup. Last time the sessions were a little overwhelming for me, so this time I just booked the trade show ticket with plans to again purchase the virtual ticket on-site. This way I could force myself to network more, not a natural thing being an introvert, and try to pace myself.
I was supposed to fly out on Friday night after work but mother nature had other plans. The weather in the mid-west, where I live, was cold but clear. However, the weather out east was another story as they were getting hammered with snow & ice. Long story short, after a six hour delay at the airport my flight got cancelled due to shortage of pilots. I stood in line for an hour to get re-booked only to find out that the earliest they could get me out to Vegas was Sunday night.
Since the conference last day of the conference would be Monday, I had to make the tough decision to cancel my trip. The airline refunded my money no problem. The hotel was very helpful and cancelled my reservation without penalty even though it was way past the cutoff time for that day. The car rental was no problem either after a quick call to India.
I sent an inquiry to NMX registration asking if they were going to make some accommodations for refunds due to the problems with the weather. On twitter it was very obvious that I was not the only one with this problem.
About a week later, when I still had not gotten a response I followed up with another e-mail, this time copying another contact at NMX from their contact us page. My expectations were that I would not receive a refund, but I just wanted a response. Any response.
After another two weeks of radio silence, I sent a third e-mail, this time to a completely different contact. I know there is someone working because their social media accounts keep churning out posts. However, I did not want to post anything publicly at that point, preferring to try to keep the dialog private.
It has now been six weeks and I feel like someone with one walkie-talkie. This type of response, or lack thereof, is very counter-intuitive for a brand that is built on engagement. And there is the point of this post, all of the brand equity that NMX had built up with me is now gone. Poof.
I believe when you except money from someone, they become a customer. And I believe that all customers deserve the respect of professional communication. Even if the news is not the answer they are looking for. As for me, I will likely not be going back to NMX. Clearly, I am nobody to them and that is fine. I don’t have a big audience, and I don’t have deep pockets. You see, in my day job I am responsible for a couple of small brands and we would never damage our brand by ignoring a customer. Then again, maybe I am doing it wrong.
The internet today is a highly interactive environment. It’s no longer enough to simply post a few news pieces a month while running your business. Your fans, customers, and followers expect a higher level of visibility from you and your business, and you can use that to help your business grow naturally and effectively.
Sites like Youtube and Vimeo offer great options for your business to put out large pieces of video content to your customers. This can take the form of video blogs, showing everyday life at your business and what you have been up to lately. It can also include demos of your current project, or pieces that let you engage with your fans. A good example of this is how Google puts out full product demonstrations of their newest products and services on their Youtube page. Another example is Red Bull’s viral marketing videos that perpetuate the culture of Red Bull as active, athletic, and cool.
However, Youtube and Vimeo are not your only options for putting out video content from your business. Recently, services like Vine and Instagram Video have become very popular. These services allow you to record and post micro-videos from your smart phone. These videos can give tiny tastes of your company culture. Often, these videos are most effective if you use their miniscule lengths to comedic effect. Many video game developers use these services to provide small updates as to the latest build of their current game.
No matter the service you choose, the most important thing to remember is to show your business’ personality. Video is direct and personal, and if you remember that you will garner more customers through your content.
The point of any marketing piece is to evoke a response. A call to action is how you illicit or direct that response. So one of the most important things to ask yourself when you are creating a new marketing piece is “what is the call to action?”. In this edition of MarketPain I discuss a simple technique for evaluating the call to action in your marketing collateral.
Rewards programs have become an integral part of the marketing plans of many enterprises especially small businesses as it helps to not only attract new customers but also retain existing ones. Of course, creating a strong customer value proposition is also at the center of any rewards programs. A rewards programs could be simply built in-house by an enterprise to save costs but then if there is a budget for it, that function could be outsourced to a professional firm specializing in that field. The advantage of outsourcing the design and execution of your rewards program to a professional is the wealth of experience and long list of collaborators that the professional would have built over time. These would include third party companies and major merchants. The following advantages could accrue to a small business by virtue of such collaborative rewards programs:
i. Creation of a series of rewards that would have appeal cutting across the customer base
ii. In conjunction with partners, design a partnership plan that would have a long-term and strategic value.
iii. Infusion of the rewards program with innovative items such as experiential opportunities and local rewards.
iv. Reduction of offsetting of program costs via marketing activities that are co-funded, marketing exposure, co-branded partnerships as well as merchant funded rewards.
The fact remains however that reward programs, no matter how well designed, enticing and beneficial, still needs to be ‘sold’ to customers. There are therefore various incentives that can be used to encourage customers to buy into and participate in the reward program. Some of these incentives include: (more…)
Online customer service has become very popular these days with the emphasis on internet enabled services. Enterprises are trying to ensure that they can attend more to their customers without having to go through the normal channels. However, even with this migration to the internet, a lot of challenges are still presented that pose bigger problems for businesses. Generally, customers tend to rate their experience in terms of the following:
i.The ease with which they get through their experience on the website
ii.The extent to which the site was able to satisfy their queries
iii.The ability of the site to provide the expected experience.
There are some basic solutions that online customer services make use of in order to deliver excellent customer service via the internet. These include the following: (more…)
Statistics is one of the most important factors in the success of any business, online or offline. Our focus here however, is on the importance of statistics in online marketing. The internet is a very vast terrain and as such, demands a lot of work to succeed. The kind of statistics that you will need depends on the nature of business you operate. The nature of the business also will determine the kind of campaigns you will need to design and execute to get your business noticed, drive traffic to your site and generate the right amount of interest to get your target audience doing exactly what you want them to do such as making a purchase.
There are many tools for carrying out research in order to derive these statistics and work them into your campaign. Additionally, you have to understand that there are also statistics that apply generally to the industry you in which you are operating. In executing an email campaign in promoting your services or products online, you will have to make use of certain statistics. These are very germane to the success of your campaign and your online business. It is also important that you see how your campaign is faring on all each of the statistics. These statistics include the following: (more…)
Web logs, abbreviated as ‘blogs’ have become quite ubiquitous and an integral part of internet marketing. Although they are not necessarily for internet marketing, they have been adapted as a form of communication between a target audience and an enterprise. In recent times, there has been an explosion in the number of blogs and bloggers particularly with the free blogging platform provided by Google and WordPress. The sheer number has also made it necessary to employ strategies to promote your blog if it is to become prominent enough to meet the objectives for which you set it up, whether commercial or otherwise. Of course, give the fact that there are already many bloggers out there in what has come to be referred to as the ‘blogosphere’, you will need some innovative or unique blogging strategies in order to make your mark in blogging. Here are five of such strategies:
i.Content Strategy Development: A lot of factors come into play in determining what the frequency and topics of your postings on your blog. The objectives however, are always to engage your readers, convince them of your position as an expert in the field as well as promote your ideas. The content you will develop must therefore be able to accomplish these objectives.
ii.Propagate Your Idea: Remember, in starting a blog, you are aiming to engage people in discussion. If you really want to get people talking about your idea, you must simply propagate it. You must talk about it in other places other than your blog. Forums and social media networks are also places where you could spread your idea. That way, traffic to your blog starts building and others start talking about it.
iii.Build Authority: People want to talk with experts. If you do not display authority on the very issue about which you are blogging, your visitors will soon drift away. Authority demands attention and gets it. One of the greatest strategies that you can use in succeeding with your blogging is to establish and continually display your authority and not just that but also give your visitors or blog followers the benefit of other people whom you regard having authority in that field. This will serve to portray you as being selfless.
iv.Teach Something New: Including a ‘How To’ post once a while help you add value to the time your blog followers spend with you. People are always on the lookout for something that will help them achieve their own goals in life. Helping them do to that will enhance your relationship and the success of your blog.
v.Pose Questions: One of the most important things about a blog is that it is meant to get people talking. One sure way to achieve that is by asking questions. When you ask questions, people tend to contribute as well as read answers provided by other followers. Ultimately, this creates a kind of engaging atmosphere which happens to be a key blogging objective.
The emphasis in the early days of the internet was on the enterprise but today, that emphasis has shifted to the customer. It has become very obvious to many enterprises that the internet is the most potent platform for making a connection with their prospects and customers. If the right connection or impression is not made during the first visit, the ability to market to that person becomes difficult. Sometimes, the initiative is lost at that very moment and may never be regained; worse still, word could spread on the internet about that one bad experience which could negatively impact the enterprise.
Web 2.0 designs are in tandem with the current trends on the internet. These current trends greatly enhance the quality of interaction between an enterprise and the visitors to its site. This will in turn increase the marketability of the site. Five of such marketing trends include the following: (more…)
Web logs, popularly known as blogs evolved from being just a means of posting a comment on a webpage. Today, there is talk of the ‘blogosphere’ which obviously is expressive of the kind height and coverage that blogs have today. The importance of this kind of clout to enterprises is that it provides yet another opportunity to connect with it target market. Thus blogs have become a potent marketing tool for companies. The downside to this sphere is that given its over 54 million (and expanding) population, companies are not just having to introduce or reintroduce their brands, they are also having to monitor its perception in the blogosphere. This is very necessary if the brand is to avoid any negative tagging which could immediately its offline activities. In all, blogging ought to be a very important part of any company’s marketing strategy. Here are some reasons why: (more…)
It is a popular position to think that human beings make purchase decisions based on emotional factors and not necessarily logical conclusions. The fact however is that any message aimed at getting people to make a purchase of goods or services must be presented in a way that strikes the prospects in a way that compels them to see the benefit to them.
One of the best ways of doing that is by crafting a good value proposition. A value proposition is a statement that presents in a graphic manner, the benefits, costs and value that a company can provide for its customers. The value proposition therefore encapsulates the value that the customer stands to gain as a result of consuming the goods, services or associating with the enterprise in question. It stands to reason therefore, that every enterprise must have a lucid value proposition to provide a measure of conviction in its customers. (more…)
The marketing profession has undergone nothing short of a revolution since the advent of the internet. Several channels have evolved over time and rapid changes have been registered as professionals act as fast as possible to grasp these changes and then build the practice so as to take the maximum possible advantage. All this is done while making projection in to the future to predict ‘the next big thing’ in getting products and services to the consumers as well creating a favorable impression. (more…)
The term social media is fast dominating the marketing profession and it has become virtually impossible to discuss the social media without talking about Twitter. First of all, the term social media seems to have many definitions but then we can define it as a medium in which the audience is the creators of its content. This is as opposed to the traditional media where the audience just consumes the content with minimal input.
Twitter can further be defined as a social medium which provides a message routing vehicle for the real time exchange of messages via various devices. One of the most outstanding features of Twitter is that it generates what sociologists have referred to as ‘co presence’ as a result of giving people the opportunity to know what their ‘friends’ are doing, thinking, reading and planning to do in an immediate sense. (more…)
Social media can appropriately be described as any medium through in which target audience participates largely in constructing and providing its content. This potential, ability or practice of participating in the creation of the content is one of the most crucial aspects of social media and the part which marketers find most useful and intriguing. It is also this act of participation that forms the crux of what is now starting to be referred to as the attention economy. Social media therefore have become one of the most potent means of marketing in contemporary times.
In spite of all the advantages which the social media confer on the users and the larger society, there are still attendant disadvantages. These are a result of the potential abuse of the system as well as the pitfall that exist side by side the advantages. The following are some of such pitfalls: (more…)
Twitter, which has grown to become one of the most popular outlets on the social media scene today, is actually a platform which allows its users to exchange messages in real-time, that is instantaneously. Its immediacy as well as its compatibility with various devices to post, view and exchange messages is one of Twitter’s greatest selling points. It is therefore not strange that it has grown phenomenally and is still growing today as a means of exchanging personal and business information. When Twitter commenced its services, it was designed to allow people to see what others were doing so it always asked the question “what are you doing?”. This seemingly simple way of seeing and knowing what others were doing created a kind of bond or what was referred to by sociologists as ‘co-presence’. Twitter has graduated since then from just allowing people to know what others were doing to giving others insight into what another person is thinking, reading or involved in. In other words, Twitter has become a major part of the attention economy.
Marketing on Twitter is quite unique in the sense that its structure permits a message post not exceeding 140 characters. This does not seem like much but then a lot can be achieved. Some of the strategies which can be used in marketing on Twitter include: (more…)