Friday, August 24, 2007

Stay True to Your Brand in Everything You Do

In the Internet Age, Keeping Promises Has Never Been More Important

Fifteen years ago, during my education in Total Quality Management, I was taught that satisfied customers generally tell two to four others that they’re satisfied, while dissatisfied customers tell, on average, seven others that they’re dissatisfied.

Fast-forward to the Internet Age. The avenues for an unhappy customer’s message to spread—and spread quickly—are much more plentiful. You’ve got to keep your promises, or you risk word getting around on the World Wide Web.

The record-keeper for our company’s 401(k) Plan might have done well to consider this new reality before they let our employees down. I won’t go into the specifics here, but let’s just say Associates in Excellence didn’t live up to its name.

My antennae begin wiggling whenever I confront a business that uses superlatives in their name—excellence, premier, perfect, etc. Definitions of “excellence” vary person to person. Therefore, in order for Associates in Excellence to be consistently “excellent,” every one of their products, services, transactions and interactions need to meet not only my definition of “excellence,” but everyone else’s, too. Absent that, they will not be “excellent”; they will disappoint.

If you’d like further details on the substandard service we experienced from Associates in, ahem, “Excellence,” I’d be happy to share them with you over email.

Do You Uphold Your Brand?

Take a moment to contemplate what your name stands for. What is YOUR brand promise? Compare that to what your every-day interactions demonstrate. Do they support the promise? At Scheibel Halaska, we believe powerful brands are always built from the inside out. Any inconsistency between what you say and how you act betrays your brand and, ultimately, your success.

Friday, August 17, 2007

To Increase the Power of Your PR, Try Multitasking

Does the following describe your PR plan? Send out a press release, hope someone runs it. If it runs, hope someone reads it.

If so, you’re missing out on numerous opportunities to expand the impact of your good news. In today’s communications arena, a broadening mix of new technology, traditional and non-traditional media and social networking is opening new avenues to reach and engage your target audiences.

One of our manufacturing clients has taken the lead in getting more productivity out of their PR. As part of a strategic initiative to integrate PR coverage into other marketing activities, they’re making their PR coverage multitask as content in a customer e-newsletter campaign, and with great results.

And our client doesn’t stop there. One win begets many more, in a chain reaction of PR productivity. It starts with the initial press coverage—an interview, byline article or news announcement (that’s one communications method). That gets turned around and used in an e-newsletter (that’s two). That e-newsletter is then aligned with the sales force through an e-mail sent out from the VP of sales explaining how to leverage this coverage in their sales efforts (we’re at three now). The newsletter may be posted on the company’s web site (do I hear four?). With a focus on informative, helpful content, the e-newsletter potentially becomes a pass- along, or viral, communications vehicle (that’s five). If done right, the content can even lead to word-of-mouth discussion around the customer’s office (six) and may open the door to future marketing communication uses down the road.

The point is, a PR campaign has great potential beyond the published, aired or posted initial coverage. Technology opens the doors to get more out of your budget dollars, increase brand awareness and further position your company as an expert in your industry.

Next time you see your company’s name in print, online or on the airwaves, don’t just clip it and forget it. Make it multitask for you. Get it out there any way you can for your customers and prospects to absorb.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

4 Key Trends in Lead Generation: How Will You Adapt?

Marketing Sherpa is a storehouse of always valuable, sometimes surprising business marketing knowledge. For example, I recently sat in on a Sherpa webinar showcasing some fascinating new research findings on “B2B Marketing Lead Generation, Nurturing & Conversion Stats & Tactics.”

The presentation was loaded with interesting tidbits:

“Marketing to a growing number of people involved in the buying process” is today’s biggest marketing challenge. More and more, we’re all marketing and selling to a “committee.” We’re struggling to appeal to and gain consensus among all the members at once.

Target audiences demand instant satisfaction. If you don’t make it available with a mouse click, they’re not interested. They don’t want to fill out your form and wait for you to mail them a whitepaper. This suggests that, in lead generation at the very least, whitepapers are outdated.

From a tactical perspective, the old meets the new. Telemarketing is still effective if done properly. At the same time, webinar traffic is increasing daily (case study: the Marketing Sherpa presentation discussed here).

Perhaps the most interesting finding:
80% of decision makers said THEY FOUND their key vendor(s), not the other way around.

As a marketing communications professional, I at first winced at this last revelation. Despite our best marketing communications, public relations and sales efforts, our customers are taking the credit for finding us—instead of us finding them!

But maybe it’s better that customers think that way, because then it means we’re doing our jobs without intruding. What’s important is that we get through to customers, one way or another.

The underlying lesson? It’s more important than ever that you know where your targets look for information. Industry publications, the Internet, trade shows ... You need to be there, where and when they’re searching. Just as important, you need to seize every contact opportunity by sharing a compelling, memorable message about why your target audiences should choose you over the competition.

If you’re not there in front of customer and prospects, sharing your powerful message, your competitors are likely to be.