Are You Having a Conversation or Delivering a Monologue?

Have a conversation, don't broadcast

Have a conversation, don’t broadcast

Twitter can be a great tool for learning, listening and having conversations. Unfortunately, many people only use Twitter to broadcast their own agenda, just putting out content and self promoting material without ever interacting with anyone.  These people are not having conversations, they are delivering monologues and as one might imagine, not too many people stick around for the speech. This result was highlighted to me recently when, in an effort to streamline a client’s posting strategy, I took over the posting for two days.

Up until that point, various people in  the client’s marketing department had been doing the posting at the direction of the CEO. The CEO was bringing his staff a collection of articles on politics, religion and lots of other controversial topics.  This could have been OK, however, the company’s audience was not the least bit interested.  There had not been a response of any sort in weeks. The majority of this client’s followers were looking to learn tips to help them run their businesses in a more efficient and effective way, and this type of information was not being shared.  Not from their own storehouse of knowledge, nor from others..  This lack of interest was exhibited in a total lack of retweets, no favorites and ZERO conversations.  (To protect the guilty, I have omitted screenshots of the client’s account)

On the first day that I was posting for the client, I made sure to retweet and engage with other industry leaders.  Within a few hours we were being retweeted and having conversations.  Was what I did difficult?  Absolutely not.  It simply took listening, contributing to the community of which the client should have been a part, having a conversation rather than pushing out information that was off topic and sharing information that was on topic.  I also made sure to mention the handle of the person who had written one of the articles that I had tweeted.  This last strategy is helpful in creating conversations as people are alerted to the fact that you have shared their information.  They thank you and you can, if you are careful to pay attention and are interested in being gracious, create conversations from those interactions.

Creating conversations is not difficult.  In many industries there are hashtag around which the community revolves.  There are also things like #FF (Friend Friday) where you are able to mention others and be gracious. Below is an example of some conversations that I have had with others using our own Calendar Warehouse Twitter account.  In this account we primarily interact with other B2B companies. We were looking for an additional trade show that we could exhibit at.  I reached out to someone who tweets on behalf of an association whose members are a perfect fit to our target audience.  Here is part of the conversation.

Twitter Blog post March 2014

As you can see Liz and I were engaged in the same kind of conversation that we might have had if we were standing in the same room. That is the goal, viewing Twitter as just another tool to network and share information.

Not sure how you can improve the effectiveness and efficiency of your time on Twitter, call me to see if I can help you.

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The 50 Cent or Less Pen, Does it Have a Place in Your Marketing Program?

Promotional Pens

Add your logo to an office staple

When helping a client evaluate their promotional product needs the question inevitably arises – “What about pens?”.

If the client asks the question my answer is always in the form of several additional questions. Those questions are always the same; When are you planning on using them? Where are you thinking of using them? Who are you expecting to give them out to? How much do you want to spend? How many do you think you will need?

Most of the time the answers consist of some variation of the following:on sales calls or client visits, I want to spend as little as possible, under .50 and probably about 500 of them. At that point, I, without fail, explain to my clients that there are only two situations that call for pens of that caliber; in a trade show booth and as a replacement to the office supply version. In those two settings the inexpensive promotional pen becomes an investment in your marketing effort replacing the thrown out money of the office supply version.

At the word investment, the inevitable question is always raised – investment? What kind of investment am I making by buying cheap pens?

When you choose inexpensive or cheap pens to give out, and it is the only thing that you are giving out (rather than part of a gift package), you are conveying a message about your brand that you probably do not want to convey.  If you want to hand out a pen as a stand alone promotion, that is a different conversation. However, if you are going to use the pens in place of the ones that you might buy at an office supply store then you have moved into the investment realm.

It is an investment when you stock your trade show booth with pens and the booth visitor accidentally walks off with the pen after using it. Instead of it being money down the drain from your office supply budget it is an investment in your marketing and advertising program.  That pen will probably make it into the hands of seven more people, exposing them to your brand and message.

It is an investment when you are a doctors office, and you have promotional pens with your information at the front desk instead of the office supply version.

It is an investment when you are a law firm and you stock your conference rooms with promotional pens, instead of those from the office supply store.

It is an investment when you are a title company or real estate agent, mortgage broker or insurance agent and you have promotional pens available for anyone who has to fill out a form or sign paperwork. In fact you can even tell the person to keep the pen giving you the opportunity to reinforce your message and brand.

Want to learn more about the different promotional pens that you can print with your brand message, call me for ideas.

Posted in Business to Business Promotions, Internal Communications, Trade Shows | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

How to Prevent Readers From Getting Lost on Someone Else’s Site

I went to your blog and you provided a link that I thought would be useful, so I clicked on it. Now I have left your page, and you have lost me to the link site instead.

It is important that you keep your visitors on your site while sharing valuable resources and content.  People do not want to have to click the back button or figure out where they started when they are in the middle of an article. They want to be able to finish reading and then go to the reference, or scan the reference and then go back to read the balance of the article.

Keeping the reader on your site (providing of course that they are benefitting from your content) is a simple mechanical fix.  When you create your blog post, check that your links open in a NEW window.

Don’t know how to do that, we have a tutorial for that on our Slideshare account that you can access here

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You Catch More Flies with Honey

The other week I was faced with a dilemma: how to help a client reach an influential person in their industry who could change the course of their career.  We had sent several emails with no response. It had been suggested to me by others in their industry that I send a somewhat nasty email “that is what I do to get that person to respond” one person told me.  I did not care to be nasty.  It is not my style and I do not advocate it for my clients either.  My attitude is that if you do something unusual and unexpected you can get someone’s attention in a positive way thus advancing your cause.
Now we only had to figure out the right way to grab the “prospect’s” attention.  This same concept applies in any industry and to any sales situation.  If you find a creative way to reach your prospect they are more likely to want to hear you out. In this particular case the two people were on opposite sides of an ocean.  This meant that my client could not invite the prospective project partner out for a cup of coffee or a lunch.  Instead I came up with the following solution.  I found a handmade, one of a kind, ceramic coffee mug – not of the promotional variety, wrote a note about wanting to talk to them over a cup of coffee and packaged the whole thing in a gift box.  We then mailed off the package and shortly there after the client received the following email:
Hi,
 
I have to say I love the way you think and present yourself.  I was out of the office, but upon my return I found a package from you with a lovely handcrafted coffee cup inside.  This was brilliant on so many levels, which I shared with my team. It was thoughtful, imaginative and sits on my desk as a reminder of our partnership.
Please let me know when you’re available for a call or can you always reach me on my mobile …
Success!  The client then had the phone conversation and the partnership on the project is on its way.
The takeaway lesson from this incident is that if you are creative and nice you can get much further than being humdrum and routine, and certainly further than being nasty.
Wondering how you can stand out from the crowd?  Call us and we will help you create a memorable, favorable impression
Posted in Business to Business Promotions, Marketing Best Practices | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Beyond the Proverbial Tie or What to Give for the Holidays

Beyond the tieWith the Holiday season quickly approaching many of you are scrambling to look for this year’s gift.  There are many options for holiday gift giving.  The first thing is to determine your budget whether it is per piece or a total amount.  Second, make a list of all of the possible recipients, include everyone you might possibly want to give a gift to.  Now take the list and review it with your budget in mind.  Does everyone need to receive the same gift, or are different gifts more suitable?  Should they all be the same value?  When looking carefully at your list you will most likely find that not everyone should get the same gift.  If your list is medium to large say 100 names or more divide the recipients by large groups, ie. customers, employees, service providers, people who have helped you over the past year.  If your list is small 100 names or fewer, divide the list into broad categories first. You can now, if you wish, divide the list even further by the recipient’s profile, interests etc.

Now look at each list with regard to your budget.  After allotting an amount to each category you are now ready to begin the selection process.

Do you want your gift to stay in the office or to be taken home? Should it have your name on it or is the gift special enough that the recipient will remember months from now who gave it to them?

Do you want the gift to be a single item, a gift basket or a coordinating set such as smoked salmon and a carving board?  Is the gift going to one individual or is it to be shared by the office staff?

If it is a single item is it to be lasting or is food a good choice?  I rarely think that food is a good choice even if it is to be shared in a large office unless you put something with it to make you memorable as the giver.  Putting an imprinted ribbon on top of the box, does NOT count.  The ribbon is removed and as people go to take a piece, or a handful they have no idea who the giver was.  A tin of popcorn with your logo on the tin, does count though.

The one exception to this, no unlabeled food, rule is if you know that the recipient does not normally get gifts. Then yours will not get lost in the shuffle and it can be sent.  We do this for the production staff in one of our factories – we know they do not get gifts and so our tub of cookies and brownies is a stand out, remembered months later, even though there is no logo on the tub.

After you have considered these questions, and made your list, call 800-Ad-Infinitum or email us and we will create a custom selection of gifts tailored to your recipients and then you can even have us wrap and ship the gifts for you if you wish.

Posted in Business to Business Promotions, Corporate Gift Giving, Holidays | Tagged | Leave a comment

Is Anyone There? Are You Listening? Monitoring Your Online Presence

Monitoring Social Media Mentions

Are you Listening

This past holiday season, the moderator for one of my Facebook communities posted the follow question:

Santa is having the hardest time coming up with good stocking stuffers for my kids. Please share what Santa fills your stockings with…

After inquiring as to their ages, I gave the following answer:

I would check out the The Container Store, they have some great things for the older two. Additionally, itunes cards are good. Sudoku and puzzle books, and then walk around near the check out in Target, or even someplace like Bloomingdale’s near the cosmetics counter for girls. Also, I have done well finding small gifts in places like Dick’s Sporting Goods hockey pucks and such or REI where my kids always see something that they “need”

You would think that one of these large retailers that was tagged in my answer would have responded in some fashion.  But no, nothing, not a word. Even a week later, not a word.

Not only is that not social, but they missed a huge opportunity.

What they should have done was respond with a specific suggestion or two. Maybe even a link to the product photo of what they thought was best.  Optional would have been to thank me for thinking of them.  Thanking me would really have been self-serving. You see it could have started a conversation and at the least would have kept their name out in front of this pool of shoppers.

When you are tagged in a post on Facebook you are notified.  If you are a large company with a social media presence you should also have additional software such as Conversocial, Trackur, Sysomos or at least something like Hootsuite or Sprout Social.  Some companies have several of these tools.  These tools should be alerting you that there is an opportunity.

If you want to succeed today you have to be listening to your customers and potential customers.  Be sure that you have tools in place for monitoring these interactions and mentions, so that you can be engaged and seen as the interested company that you are.

Not sure how to monitor your mentions?  Contact us for help 212-812-1438

Posted in Business to Business Promotions, Consumer Promotions | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Should I Connect with Everyone?

Social Media Strategy

Should I connect with everyone?

One of the most asked questions by people just developing their social media strategy, is “Should I connect with everyone who asks?”  The truth is that there is no one size fits all answer.  With time and a strategy everyone develops their own system.

My own system varies with the platform.  On Twitter I will connect with almost everyone.  I use lists to try and maintain a productive stream, but as long as you don’t post spam or only self promoting garbage, you have a complete profile and you post on a reasonably regular basis if you follow me, I will probably follow you back.

On Facebook, I employ a different system.  On my personal profile, I will like your page if it fits into my interests, but I will not friend you unless we really are friends or at least have a real connection. On occasion to work within the quirks of Facebook tagging I will friend someone in order to share their info, idea or photo and give credit where someone can connect with them as well.   On my business page, I will like your page if I think we will both benefit from being connected.  I am not about the numbers, I am about the quality of the connections.  Additionally, using my business page, I will seek out brands who’s information interests me, or where I think we might be able to help each other and I will connect.  Obviously, if I am making the connection through a Fan Page Party, I do follow the etiquette, and like your page using my personal profile. When I do this, I will generally leave a message on your wall and, if from what I have seen, I think that you will find our posts to be helpful, I will tag my page so that it is easy for you to find us in return.

LinkedIn is a different story, if I do not know you, you need to have a compelling reason for me to connect with you and you need to communicate that when you send me the request to connect.  But feel free to follow our company page, where we share information on a regular basis.

As for Google +, that is an evolving effort.  I am more open to connecting, but I admit, as little personal information as I share on Facebook, even on my personal profile, I share even less on Google+.  I will add people to my circles however, that I do not know, but I review the members of my circles once a week and I am careful that everyone is in the right place.  Again, as I do not share personal information, I am much more open to connecting.

You need to look at your goals for using social media and create your own strategy, but no matter what strategy you employ, make sure that you are creating connections, not gathering numbers.

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Choosing Your Social Media Platforms for the Overwhelmed

Social Media Strategy

Where to spend time?

There is a big myth out there that you have to be everywhere on Social Media in order to drive business.  This is just not true.

Your customers are not everywhere, so why should you be everywhere?

Spreading yourself so thin on Social Media platforms that you can not interact and create relationships is just a waste of time.  Social Media is just another tool enabling you to interact and network.  If you do not have a plan and a follow up system, you are just wasting your time.  You need to build relationships in order to drive business.  No one is going to buy from you or hire you just because they exchanged likes with you on a Friday.  Take the time to get to know the person.  What can each of you bring to the table to help the other person?  This applies on every platform.  You must develop relationships.  You also can not view these platforms as just more broadcast channels.  You need to share information, educate and converse. That is the goal.  Content of value is the prize commodity.

So where to start?  How do you choose where to spend your time?  As with everything else in business, there is a strategy in choosing your platforms and deciding where to spend your time.  There are questions to ask, you have to determine who your audience is and where you will find them.  Don’t be afraid of asking yourself the hard questions to find the right fit for your business.  Without that right fit you will not see positive results.

Not sure what questions to ask?  Contact us at 212-812-1438 to learn more about our strategy session program.

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Awards and Rewarding Your Employees

Crystal Award

Crystal Award

Everyone likes to be recognized for a job well done.

How you thank employees for their efforts can greatly enhance the success of your business.

Think about it for a moment, which business would you rather deal with, the one where employees are motivated to go the extra step in helping the customer, or the one where everyone is walking around grumping and grumbling about every little thing and oh yeah, someone will be there to help you eventually?

There are many things that you can do to motivate and recognize your employees.  The first most basic is to say “Thank You”.  It is simple and goes a long way to encouraging people to go that extra little bit.

The next step is to create a culture of being helpful to the customer, and treating everyone in the office like they are also a customer.  We are fortunate that in the next few months we will be sharing some guest posts with you from Nancy Friedman, The Telephone Doctor, who is one of the best customer service trainers around.  Nancy’s information will help you create that culture.  For now, just know that you need to create the culture, or if you can’t wait visit Nancy’s site for a sneak preview.

Now that you are saying Thank You and have created a positive helpful culture, you need to go the extra mile to show your employees, and vendors and partners for that matter too, that you care and notice their efforts.  The most basic way is a hand written, not email, not electronically produced card, not a digital card, but a good old fashioned pen to paper written by you, note.

The next step is to create a higher level of recognition for a job well done, or some extra effort. There are many ways to do this, an employee of the month program, a lunch when everyone meets their quota, an award program at the end of the month, quarter, or year, or even a full blown incentive program complete with a travel award for the top achievers.

The one thing that you want to do when deciding what types of recognition you will give is to not make it predictable and rote.  One it will stop working, and two, and more importantly, it will become expected and when suddenly it is not forthcoming you will have lots of unhappy people on your hands, even if it was because they did not reach the goal one month.

For some ideas of crystal gifts and awards visit our awards site, or call us for help to create your own incentive and awards program.

Posted in Customer Service, Employee Motivation, Internal Communications | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Getting the Year Off to a Good Start

motivating employees

Award

As the new year begins, it is important to be sure that you have clarified and quantified your goals for the coming year.  We have discussed how to set your goals, how to be sure they are realistic and how to work toward those goals.  If you have not written those goals down, you are already falling short.  Take a minute, write out your big goal, mark down the small steps that you need to accomplish everyday to get to those goals. Now put those papers some place where you will see them every morning.

Seeing your goals on a daily basis will keep you motivated to reach them.  Next to those goals, you should also have a daily task list that consists of the items that will help you reach the goals.  This list is a written record, the tasks that you have already broken down when you figured out your goals.  If you need to post on two social media platforms and make ten cold calls, figure out what time of day gives you the best results and then schedule those activities accordingly.

Next step, create an incentive program for yourself.  In other words, decide that when you accomplish X on the way to your big goal you will treat yourself to something.  Don’t go over board. Make it something that will motivate you but not side track your efforts.  Having this incentive system in place is an important step in reaching your goals.  Everyone needs a little motivation.  While you are putting the incentive program in place don’t forget your employees, outsourcing partners and vendors.  Motivating them to help you can make reaching your goals that much easier.

For more on ideas on how to take note and motivate your employees visit our awards site

Posted in Employee Motivation, Marketing Best Practices | Tagged , | Leave a comment