Think What Not to Brand: 5 Things You DON’T Want Others to Say About You or Your Business

When we talk about branding, we’re really talking about how you want people, i.e. your customers, to talk about you and your service/product. And if we can get this concept down, we’ll have success on any media platform from social media to website to advertising.

  • Think of 5 things you want others to say about you and your service
  • Think of 5 things you DON’T want others to say about you and your service
  • What does it take for people to say what you want them to say about you, but not about your competitors?
  • Why should your customers trust your brand versus the others?
  • What functional and emotional benefits you can offer to your customers?
  • On a scale of 0-10, what would your customers rate you in terms of service satisfaction?
  • On a scale of 0-10, how likely would your customers recommend or refer you to others?

Once we’ve identified these items, we can begin to discuss the language, messaging and visual image you aspire to convey through your brand.

My little annecdote: On the client loyalty surveys we conduct with customers, we always ask the following set of questions:

  1. Would you recommend us?
  2. Are we your top-of-mind partner?
  3. Are you getting quick enough responses from us?
  4. Do we demonstrate knowledge of the marketplace?
  5. Are you happy with our products/services ?
  6. Are you happy with the process we deliver our products and services?

Ultimately, these are brand perception questions and the answers to them can help us figure out what we need to work on for successful branding.

Fortune 100 Companies Favor Twitter Over Facebook

SEOmoz Social Media Marketing

Image courtesy of SEOmoz’s Social Media Marketing Guide

The Affinitive blog talked about a “land grab” is happening on social media. If I may develop on this idea, I think an “attention grab” among consumer brands is fully out the gate. Imagine thousands of brands are trying to get your attention on TV, Radio, Newspapers, magazines and now – social media.

Twitter and Facebook are clearly surging as the strongest players in this great battle for attention—voted by Fortune 100 companies to say the least. According to a recenty study by Burson-Marsteller and Proof Digital, Twitter has now become the social media platform of choice among Fortune 100 companies. 54% of companies are active on Twitter, versus 29% on Facebook and 32% on corporate blogs. (Twitter experienced 3-digit surge in user growth this year, active user growth is projected to reach 18 million by end of 2009. Click here to read about Facebook growth.)

If you look at the activities companies have on these three platforms, they are actually pretty similar:

  • Distribute news and updates about their company
  • As an extension of their customer service
  • Announce marketing promotions (promotions/deals/contests)
  • Part of employee recruitment/human resources efforts (job postings)

Give or take, job postings probably don’t happen on corporate blogs as much as they do on Twitter and Facebook, and same thing for deals and promotions, which appear much more frequently on Twitter and Facebook, but not on corporate blogs.

Twitter and Facebook share various common characteristics but companies are clearly jumping onto Twitter at a much faster pace than onto Facebook. According to the study, 25 of the 54 companies that are active on Twitter are also active on Facebook. Although no specific reasons were discussed on the study as to why stronger engagement is found on Twitter vs. Facebook, there are some identified challenges about the ease of Facebook adoption from a corporate perspective:

  • Facebook page setup requires time for organization and optimization
  • Users need to get used to the fairly complex layout to find their way around
  • Opt-in applications require users to grant access or connect
  • Users are less likely to provide immediate response as they do on Twitter, which is built to capture real-time gut-reactions
  • Side-bar advertisements and highlights on Facebook compete for attention

I think I can come up with more reasons, but that’s not the point here. Just like any business, companies are looking for quick and lasting ways to engage customers on a regular basis as frequently as possible. The brand has to be front-and-center, and the conversations should be the core. Twitter provides for that and makes it easy for people to hop on and use. One doesn’t need an hour to learn how to use Twitter, but Facebook can be quite involved if you want to take advantage of its full suite of features and functions.

Then again, for those who have spent enough time on Facebook and have benefited from the dynamics it offers, Facebook is still one of the most loved inventions for the connection-craved generation and brand-saavy customers…it surely has my attention and the attention of my 150 friends.

Media Convergence: Did You Know 4.0

Love it! A must-see video created by The Economist on the shift of digital media landscape donned with facts and figures.

Media Convergence Forum, with a nice line-up of social media heavyweights, is taking place on Oct. 20-21, 2009 in New York City http://mediaconvergence.economist.com/

Become Part of the Statistics: Integrate Social into Your Business

Courtesy of NYTimesAre you over 55 and an active computer user? Then welcome to the fastest-growing-demographic club on Facebook!

Take a deep breath, here are the latest stats of U.S. visits to Facebook reported by Hitwise:

  • Facebook has a year-to-year growth of 194% from its U.S. visits in September.
  • Its market share among all social networking sites has also grown from 55.2% –> 58.6%
  • Monthly active users reached 88.3 million in September.
  • 45% of users are now 26 and older.
  • Fastest growing demographic: 55 years old and over

Hands down, Facebook is by far the most cross-generational, cross-functional and cross-everything social networking site that has ever existed in human history, though the history of Facebook merely began five years ago.

According to comScore, 16.5 million adults over the age of 55 engage in social media. And in just one year since AARP unveiled its social networking platform, about 350,000 users created 1,700 groups.

So are you evolving your business forward like the rest of the marketplace is? Or are you giving yourself the excuse that you’re not part of the Internet age and simply can’t see the bigger picture of how social networking sites can help advance your business? (Don’t want to get too philosophical here, but are you focusing on the trees and missing the jungle? Trees can be your current customers, the jungle is the industry trends, business climate and your potential customers. )

For those who embrace the greatest and latest with social media, are you jumping into Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, and becoming active, connecting and building relationships? Are you establishing thought leadership through LinkedIn groups, Twitter follows and Facebook fan clubs? Are you ready to conduct business, communicate and handle transactions on social networking sites with your customers?

“Are you serious about transacting on Facebook?” you might ask. Dead serious (see 1-800-Flowers’ recent e-commerce launch on Facebook). Many brands and companies are already doing so on social networking sites. And if you do have a presence on these sites, make sure you dedicate time and resources to keep them current and reflective of your latest business offers. Take advantage of your fan base and followers to create excitement about a new business launch or incentive program. And top off these efforts by measuring activities and results across your social networking sites and your website or blog. Don’t expect these tools to work for you without your first putting them to work to your advantage and measuring what they can or have produced for you. 

Here are things that Fortune 500 companies and big brands are undertaking at the moment, but let’s make sure we as business owners and managers are not too far behind:

  1. Create brand messaging for your business product/service online.
  2. Measure visits, dialogues and transactions online.
  3. Analyze results over time, identify seasonal activities and user peaks.
  4. Reach out and connect with industry experts and interact with them.
  5. Share your insights and ideas with peers and associates in your field.
  6. Dig into new tools and constantly retool and refine your presentation and messaging across media.
  7. Stay current and experiment new concepts and methodologies in bringing your business up a notch!

Webinars are IN, but keep common faux pas OUT

Webinars are IN these days, in case you haven’t noticed. And Twitter and Facebook names are becoming popular leave-behinds from presenters to continue their dialogues with the participants post-webinar. Preparing for a highly-engaging and interactive webinar is not much different from preparing to present like Steve Jobs. How do you keep your webinars informative, relevant and engaging? How do you make sure your audience doesn’t tune you out 5 minutes into the presentation? Here are a few webinar faux pas we can try avoid:

  • Starting your webinar late – like 5 to 10 minutes late – making attendees wait or drop off.
  • A moderator who has very little knowledge of the presentation content and offers no insight on the value and background of the presentation and fumbles through the transition from one presenter to another.
  • Presenters are not cued properly to begin their presentation, causing awkward silences on the line. (Need a better moderator!)
  • Loud or monotone presenters 
  • Webinar application doesn’t allow you adjust the volume of the presenters from the listening end.
  • Unsynchronized audio and visual presentations – shouldn’t they be tested prior to going live?
  • A presentation with non-working audio and requires you to dial in via phone to hear the presenter. (Why bother with a webinar?)
  • Questions or raised hands that aren’t responded to or addressed. 
  • The webinar goes on forever, say more than 40 minutes.

Some must-have and considerations:

  • A knowledgeable, communicative and assertive moderator.
  • Presenters who can present effortlessly with high energy and the right tone (and volume).
  • Iron out all the technical kinks prior to the webinar.
  • Rehearse, test and dry run your webinar at least once before you go live.
  • Keep your presentation under 30 minutes – most people’s attention span is much shorter than that.
  • Provide audio AND visual in one application. (This is 2009, not 1999.)
  • Engage your audience and be interactive! Answer questions as they come in (or acknowledge incoming questions and hold them until the end of the presentation).
  • Poll your audience to gauge their business needs, interests and inclinations.
  • Summarize lessons-learned and calls-to-action.
  • Make your presentation memorable, buzz-worthy and viral.

Learning from Steve Jobs: Executive Presentations Made Perfect

The other day, a girl friend of mine came to visit and she was cooking up a storm in my kitchen. Before she placed the dishes out on the dining table, she was feverishly decorating the dishes with garnishes, wiping off the edge of the dishes, looking up matching colors of plates and napkins for the table, and even grabbed one of my crystal vases from next to the TV and put it on the table like a centerpiece (sans flowers). “People eat with their eyes,” she said to me with a big smile, expert-like. “Presentation is everything!”

Is presentation everything? Yesterday I came across this link on Twitter about this new book called The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs written by Carmine Gallo. Apparently, Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ presentation has harnessed enough attention that some experts are analyzing and advising executives to present like Steve. So what is it about Steve’s presentations that warrant our emulation?

Here are the FIVE key takeaways:

  • Introduce the antagonist
  • Create Twitter-friendly headlines
  • Sell dreams, not products or services
  • Keep your presentation sophisticatedly SIMPLE
  • Rehearse, rehearse and rehearse

1)      Just like any story, there’s always an antagonist. If your company, product or service is the hero, how would you open up the presentation? You would set the stage and give your audience the lay of the land, that your company can make things better and restore equilibrium to the situation. Essentially, here’s where you explain why you’re doing what you’re doing, and why you’re introducing your product/service to the world the way it is. 

2)      How people write their Twitter updates (140 characters only) is what you want to strive for in describing your product or service. Keep the description short, sweet and significant. “Our cleaning products can clean up any mess at home”, “Our restaurant offers you the best Italian experience outside of Italy,” or “Our service revolutionizes the way medical billing is done.” Weighty claims, short statements.

3)      Change is in the air. After all, what you’re selling is going to set off changes in the way people do business, conduct their lives and deliver better outcome. Tell the story about your product or service in the same way – what positive changes or experience people should expect from using your product or service.

4)      Simplicity is the way to go, or in Steve’s words, the “Zen” way. What’s so Zen about Steve’s presentations is they’re all simple, clean and professional-looking. Though dramatic in his delivery, Steve made his slides easy to follow, attention-grabbing and focused with key, memorable messages. He believes simplicity demonstrates sophistication – love this concept!

5)      Since we were kids, our parents would constantly remind us how “practice makes perfect.” Presentations are no exceptions. Steve Jobs is maniacal with his practice and rehearsals, sometimes spending over 100 hours on one presentation. I’m not talking about putting the slides together, but rehearsing the actual delivery of the presentation. No wonder he speaks so effortlessly and elegantly on stage. What admirable diligence!

Watch Steve Jobs’ keynotes and presentations here: http://www.apple.com/quicktime/guide/appleevents/

The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs – How to be insanely great in front of any audience http://abcnews.go.com/video/playerIndex?id=8655775

For other discussion on Steve Jobs’ presentations: http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/content/jan2008/sb20080125_269732.htm; http://www.presentationzen.com/presentationzen/2008/01/5-presentation.html

Are You Capturing Your Customers’ Full Value?

When customers buy from me, there I’ve proven that I’ve captured all the value (and revenue) to justify the time, energy and resource spent on my customers. Ain’t I capturing all the value there is?

You might be capturing some value, but probably not all. With the rising usage of social media, do you have a marketing engagement strategy to capture all the “social revenue” made possible by sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter? Based on the customer marketing life cycle, are you interacting with your customers at every major touch point? Are you under their radar all along? If not, then somewhere along the life cycle path you might be losing out to competition.

Let’s use the customer marketing life cycle flow chart to look at these key areas of engagement: want, need, research, evaluate, buy and use.

Customer Marketing Life Cycle

1) Awareness (WANT vs. NEED)

Heightened awareness is now made available through Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. With the many conversations, status updates, discussion groups and resource sharing happening online, be sure you’re part of the social conversations. Awareness drives engagement. The more you’ve increased your brand awareness, the more likely others will begin to engage with you (if they find your brand interesting and engagement-worthy). Be proactive and progressive in having dialogues with your customers on how you can add value to what they’re doing and try move the conversation to the next level – consideration.

2) Consideration (RESEARCH & EVALUATION)

Now that you’ve successfully guided your customers along the first part of the life cycle and brought them to come to terms with the different options, it’s time to dig in and do some research. This is the part where you can shine. Research studies, industry reports, white papers and insights that you can share with your customers will help you be part of the consideration here. If you’re engaging customers in this phase, you’re further down the road of closing a deal. But the engagement process doesn’t end here.

3) Purchase

Here’s the phase where you want to make sure customer service is achieving 100% client satisfaction. Customers who want to buy your products or services but are treated with subpar customer service during the transaction might ruin your chances for future engagement (i.e. repeat business) with them. Remember the social conversations that have brought you this point – you’ve built a relationship with your customers! Don’t let that relationship leave you or your brand. Bring it to a higher level. Be 100% certain that you’ve dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s during this phase of transaction. Seize the opportunity as your wedding ceremony (where you give the ring and seal the deal). It should never be a mere thanks-and-goodbye. The word gets out if customer service doesn’t deliver.

4) Ownership

Ownership is the customer support phase. Are you answering the questions posed? Are you continually engaging the customers to make sure they’re liking what they’ve purchased and would recommend others to buy it? Customer loyalty is cultivated in this phase and engagement here can potentially turn into influence. You’d better watch out “influence” here as this is what new buyer behavior is all about – every customer becomes a point of influence in the social conversations. Are you capturing the influence you need to take your business to the next level?  

Do you survey your customers? Are you actively finding out whether your customers felt positive about the consideration process, purchase experience and usage of your product/service? What type of feedback are you providing to your customers when your receive their comments? As you can tell, social conversations didn’t end with ownership nor will they in the future as long as your business and brand exist. Ongoing engagement with your customers will keep you focused on the purpose of your involvement in social media and keep the energy and innovation flowing. More business to come!

Related post: 2010 will be a busy year of customer relationship building...for marketers
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.