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from my email:
The Four Essential Phases of Social Media Adoption
When discussing social media with business executives, I'm frequently reminded of the fable of the elephant and the blind men. In the story, six blind men, hearing that an elephant has been brought to their village (and having no idea what an elephant is), go to the village square to investigate. One feels the elephant's side and proclaims that an elephant is like a wall. A second, feeling one of the elephant's legs, says it is like a pillar. A third, touching the tusk, describes the animal as being like a solid pipe.
Although each man's description was accurate, each perceived only part of the elephant; none had a perspective of the entire beast.
It's the same with many business executives and their views of social media:
"Social media? Twitter isn't appropriate for our market."
"Our company already has a Facebook page!"
"We don't have time to maintain a blog."
"Several of our people use LinkedIn."
Such statements reflect perceptions of "parts of the beast" -- components (tools) of social media. But using one or more of those tools, with no clear objectives for benefiting the company, doesn't constitute a strategy.
Here is a four-phase adoption model designed to reveal the entire elephant that is social media.
Phase I: Observation
As Yogi Berra famously noted, "You can observe a lot just by watching." A bit of research and observation up front will make your participation later much more productive and prevent false starts and missteps.
Some of the questions to answer in this phase:
Social media monitoring tools are very helpful in answering those questions. Among free tools are Social Mention and Alterian's trial version of SM2. A wide range of tools is available with differing levels of cost and sophistication.
Phase II: Preparation
Every company with more than a handful of employees is already involved in social media -- whether those running the company know it or not. That's because nearly half of all Americans are now active on at least one social network, including two-thirds of 25-34 year-olds. And though employees may be using these networks primarily to share pictures of the kids or to plan which clubs to hit next weekend, most will bring up the workplace at some point:
"Our new CEO, John Doe, is an incompetent jerk."
"I sure hope our new product works because we've really skimped on the testing."
"If I owned any stock in this company, I'd dump it now before the earnings announcement next week. Last quarter was a bust."
Though employees may share positive thoughts about your company with their friends, family, and followers, they may also post comments like those above, leading to bad PR, reduced sales, and even legal action.
One common objection voiced by executives about social media is that it can't be controlled. That's true, but when it comes to what a company's employees are saying, it can, at least, be guided. Developing a social media policy is a crucial first step toward making social media a constructive, rather than dangerous, communication channel.
Fortunately, there's no need to start from scratch, as there are dozens of social media policies from major companies available online to serve as examples. Outlines vary greatly, but here are a few of the essential elements:
Once the decision is made to embrace social media, companies need to establish plans. Based on the research conducted in the Observation phase, the plan should address issues such as these:
Phase III: Participation
With the groundwork laid, monitoring in place, and plans developed and approved, the company can begin "officially" participating in social media -- or, more likely, reassessing initiatives already in place, as many firms have already jumped into the social media fray without proper planning.
Less than one-third of companies in the Americas have a social media policy in place, and only half have a formal strategic plan.
Participation can take a variety of forms, from simple monitoring of and responding to brand mentions to actively creating thought-leadership, informative or entertaining content, and promoting across social media venues.
For companies that produce content, a blog is often at the center of the effort. More than half of B2C firms and nearly three-quarters of B2B vendors maintain company blogs. But blogs aren't the only option for sharing content through social media; among the content types are video on YouTube or Vimeo, presentations on SlideShare or myBrainshark, photos (Flickr, Photobucket), and PDF documents (Scribd, Docstoc).
Once posted, content can be promoted through microblogging sites (Twitter, Jaiku, Identi.ca), social-networking sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook, and social-bookmarking sites such as Digg, Mixx, and Reddit.
The key to successful social media participation is engagement. Sharing content shouldn't be viewed as broadcasting to the market but rather as seeking to start conversations. The point is to draw in interested parties, key influencers, and ultimately sales prospects by engaging them in discussions and building business relationships.
Phase IV: Integration
Most companies think of social media first in terms of marketing and PR activities, and they begin their social media efforts in those areas. But those at the highest level of social media maturity and integration are using social media for a variety of purposes across the organization.
Just as it would make no sense to provide telephones only for the sales force, or email access only to accounting, there's no need to limit social media interaction to the marketing department.
At this advanced stage, companies may be using social media not only in marketing and PR but also in a variety of other areas, including the following:
Ideally, companies at the integration stage not only use social media across departments but also ensure that efforts and information are coordinated. For example, HR should be communicating the same value proposition to recruits that Marketing uses with prospective customers. Product designers should understand customer-service issues to help improve products or make them easier to use. Sales and Marketing should align social media activities to avoid duplicated efforts or inconsistent messages.
When it comes to cross-organizational alignment of social-media use, perfection can't be achieved. But as Lexus constantly reminds us, it can be pursued.
(Source: Tom Pick, Marketing Profs, 01/13/11. Tom Pick is an online marketing executive with KC Associates, a Minneapolis-based marketing and PR firm focused on B2B technology clients. He's also the writer of the Webbiquity blog, which focuses on B2B lead generation and Web presence optimization.)
And I have another blog that can help you get started. Click here to check out ScLoHo's Social Media Adventure!
Saturday, January 22, 2011
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Labels: social media
It really doesn't matter what size your business is, all should follow these tips from MarketingProfs.com.
But the smaller ones have an advantage in that there is less bureaucracy to go thru to implement changes.
And as I like to say, everything that creates an impression on your customer is part of your marketing.
Four Ways to Enchant Your Customers
"I love to do business with small businesses—in-store, online, for myself, for others, for pleasure, for work—it doesn't matter to me," writes Guy Kawasaki at his eponymous blog. Based on his experiences, he has 10 tips for making the customer experience enchanting. Here are four:
Staff your frontline with personable, passionate employees. Customers want to interact with friendly people who care about your product or service and know what they're talking about. "Ask yourself this question," he says. "Is the first impression of my business a good one? Because if it's a bad one, it may also be the last one."
Build a customer's trust by trusting your customer. If you need inspiration, Kawasaki cites Nordstrom's famously liberal return policy, which clearly indicates that the retailer thinks highly of its customers. "If you trust me, I'll trust you, and we can build a relationship."
Avoid placing unnecessary barriers in the path to a sale. When someone wants to do business with you, make it as easy and painless as possible. "Don't ask people to fill out 10 fields of personal information to open an account," he cautions. "Don't throw up a CAPTCHA system that requires fluency in Sanskrit."
Deliver bad news sooner rather than later. Even the best-run companies encounter the occasional problem, and withholding information from customers is a mistake—especially if they figure out what's wrong before you get around to telling them. "[L]et them know how you'll solve the problem at the same time that you're letting them know it exists," he suggests.
The Po!nt: "The single most powerful way to enchant me is a 'yes' attitude," says Kawasaki. We'll bet most of your customers—and potential customers—would agree.
Source: Guy Kawasaki.Sphere: Related Content
from my email:
Daily Sales Tip: Turning Failure Into Success
When you fail and it starts to look like success to your peers, you know that you are a high-performance seller.
Look. Let's get real frank, real fast. Life isn't a competition with anyone other than the rock star that you were intended to be. If you think that I am advocating that you look around and compare yourself to anyone else, you are dead wrong.
You know better than that already. That's a complete waste of time.
Here is what I'm trying to say: High performers look at failure as a step closer to success. It's not an act, it's a way of life.
Rejection and loss are not end points. They are guideposts.
High-performance selling requires the discipline to look at each opportunity and say, "What could I have done differently?" Here s a reality -- sometimes there is nothing you could have done better. But I have always found 3-4 (to a dozen) tiny mistakes that all contributed to my failure.
It was by adjusting and relaunching that I was able to turn that failure into outrageous success.
Master your failures.
Source: Sales strategist Dan Waldschmidt
Friday, January 21, 2011
7 or 8 updates coming to this site over the weekend, in the meantime....
The Traditional Housewife from the 1950's is long gone.
Are you directing your advertising to the right person?
Time to Rethink Your Message: Now the Cart Belongs to Daddy
Survey Finds 51% of Men Are Primary Grocery Shoppers, but Few Believe Advertising Speaks to Them
BATAVIA, Ohio (AdAge.com) -- Mom is losing ground to Dad in the grocery aisle, with more than half of men now supposedly believing they control the shopping cart. The implications for many marketers may be as disruptive as many of the changes they're facing in media.
But a study by Yahoo based on interviews last year of 2,400 U.S. men ages 18 to 64 finds more than half now identify themselves as the primary grocery shoppers in their households. Dads in particular are taking up the shopping cart, with about six in 10 identifying themselves as their household's decision maker on packaged goods, health, pet and clothing purchases. Not surprisingly, given that such ads long have been crafted for women, only 22% to 24% of men felt advertising in packaged goods, pet supplies or clothing speaks to them, according to the Yahoo survey.
The Great Recession has thrown millions of men in construction, manufacturing and other traditionally male occupations out of work and by extension into more domestic duties. At the same time, gender roles were already changing anyway, with Gen X and millennial men in particular more likely to take an active role in parenting and household duties.
Of course, in the survey, men could be overestimating their own role in shopping for the family. Lauren Weinberg, director-research and insights for Yahoo, acknowledges that could be possible -- and that women don't see them making as much progress on that front. But she said the fact that so many men now see themselves as masters of the shopping cart not only reflects real shifts but also means any stigma once attached to men as shoppers is fading fast.
Yahoo's interest in the subject is obvious: The portal has a lot of inventory geared toward men, such as page after page of fantasy-sports content, that could use more advertisers. But its research on men nonetheless seems to describe a new and disruptive reality.
Behavioral research of shoppers shows a number more like 35% of grocery and mass-merchandise shoppers are now men, said Mariana Sanchez, chief strategy officer for Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi X. That number has been growing thanks to the economy and changing gender roles, she said.
And while that figure may be far from a majority , the fact that a third of a brand's shoppers are male is an awful lot to ignore. As a result, shopper-marketing efforts are increasingly gender-neutral rather than targeted for female shoppers, Ms. Sanchez said.
A subtle case in point came during the latest Procter & Gamble Co.-Walmart collaboration on "Family Movie Night" Jan. 8 on Fox. The program itself, "Change of Plans," did show a new dad more domestically impaired than a mom when unexpectedly thrust into adoptive parenthood. But in the commercial pod "story within a story" via Martin Agency, Richmond, the dad made a shopping trip to Walmart to load up on P&G and private-label Great Value products.
Such scenes could be a wave of the future for more categories as consumer packaged brands must elbow their way past car insurers, pickup trucks and erectile-dysfunction drugs into one of the surest and most-DVR-proof forums for reaching men: football.
P&G's Head & Shoulders and Prilosec already have become deeply involved in NFL marketing. But most P&G brands still primarily target moms, and it's not always easy to please both. While last year's tear-jerking "Behind Every Olympic Athlete is an Olympic Mom" Winter Olympics ads for P&G from Wieden & Kennedy were generally well received, the Twitter stream about them included an undercurrent of resentment from dads, who still make up the vast majority of volunteer coaches for youth sports.
The shift toward male shoppers, of course, didn't happen overnight, and that may also help explain why some brand managers for years have privately said more broadly focused network prime-time programming delivered better for their brands than more female-focused cable buys, regardless of the cost and what media optimizers indicated.
Perhaps favorably for marketers, Yahoo research finds men are more brand-loyal and less focused on promotions than women shoppers, Ms. Weinberg said. In advertising, they do more product research in packaged-goods categories than women, she said, and, because they're often newer to the categories, prefer ads with more information.
John Badalament, author of "The Modern Dad's Dilemma" and operator of ModernDads.net, does see more ads that speak to men, including recent ads for P&G's Old Spice and Kimberly-Clark Corp.'s Huggies. But many ads featuring men still portray them as hapless domestically, which he doesn't believe helps marketers. He likens such ads to the once laughable, now anachronistic grocery scene from 1983's "Mr. Mom."
"Men," he said, "need to be something other than invisible or buffoons in advertising."
from one of my friends and clients, Andy at Villing and company:
You Talking to Me? Allstate's "Mayhem" Takes Familiar Product to New Audience
Jan. 10, 2011
I love Mayhem. That is, I love the Allstate Insurance campaign in which actor Dean Winters personifies life’s unexpected — and costly — events. (Personal fave: “Lawn Game Mayhem.”)
More than just incredibly good creative work, to me the campaign shows the company is shifting its target to a younger audience — something I noticed rival State Farm doing last year. With a younger target, it makes sense for the messaging to focus on the “why” of insurance, not the “what.”
That’s in contrast to the Dennis Haysbert line of Allstate ads, which tend to focus on specific product features in addition to the problems they address (like this ad for the company’s new car restoration policy).
Allstate currently uses both concepts in its advertising. Haysbert provides some voiceover work for the Mayhem spots, but other than his familiar voice, there is not much that would make it clear both campaigns are for the same company. It’s rare for a company to use two concepts at once that seem so vastly different. And not everyone is sold it’s a plan that works.
Still, it’s a reminder that, just as goods and services can appeal to more than one kind of consumer, so can the advertising used to promote them. In the case of insurance, some consumers may resonate with an irreverent reminder that the unpredictability of life makes protection necessary. Others may know this all too well, and are looking for information on what kind of insurance to buy.
Of course, a company the size of Allstate has the resources to run ads that reach consumers at different points of the buying process. But it’s worth a look for brands of any size to see if there are untapped audiences that would be receptive to a different kind of marketing message. If you’re a marketer, make 2011 the year you find a new selling point for your product and get the word out to an audience you’ve not yet reached. It will sharpen your skills - and may be the “insurance” you need against leaving income on the table in the new year.To get our latest articles when they are posted, please subscribe by e-mail or RSS. Sphere: Related Content
Time to call it what it really is:
Daily Sales Tip: Identifying the Real Objection
When customers say they want to "think over" their buying decision, it's often safe to assume that they have an objection they're not sharing.
Asking "What do you want to think over?" can seem intimidating, and probably won't help you uncover the real problem. Instead, ask, "Is it a question of price?" Then quietly wait for a response.
By guessing a specific objection, you'll encourage prospects to correct you by stating their true concern. If your suggestion is correct, you probably found out what's making your buyer hesitate. You might be surprised at how much this strategy improves your closing ratio.
Source: 123 Super Sales Tips
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Click & Read:
I subscribe to Seth Godin's blog. He updates it daily and every Sunday at 6pm, on this website, I present my "Sunday Seth" to jump start our brains for the week ahead.
In the meantime, check out this sample:
In a discussion on why Heinz has such high market share for ketchup in the Pittsburgh area, one commenter posts, "It's just better ketchup. Their other products may be closer in quality to the competition, but for Ketchup nobody compares. When you go to a restaurant and they have a different kind, it feels you are eating at some cheap cafeteria."
This is really telling, but probably not the in the way Matt intended.
Heinz doesn't make better ketchup. Heinz makes better Heinz ketchup. There's a huge difference.
If you define ketchup the way most people do, you define it as, "the ketchup I grew up with." Or to be more specific, "the ketchup my mom served me, the one that I was allowed to serve myself when I turned three..."
One thing that marketers do is sell us a feeling, not a set of molecules or bits. When you spend $3 on a bottle of ketchup, that's what you're buying. And Matt and the rest of us are so brainwashed we rationalize it as 'better ketchup.'
from Amy at Mediapost:
Snickers conducts an interesting focus group. Heated bus shelters. Let's launch!
Meatloaf, the food, and Meatloaf, the rocker, have brief cameos in the latest Farmers Insurance ad, "Slideshow." Seriously, Meatloaf didn't even need to show up. I wonder how much he was paid to use his picture? It's not like he's a stranger to advertising. J.K. Simmons plays a professor at the University of Farmers who quizzes his agents on how well they know their clients by using a picture slideshow. The agents know their clients' likes and dislikes; one agent even knows the difference between edible meatloaf and singing Meatloaf. See the ad here, created by RPA.
When we last saw Ellie, the adorable dancing elephant in GE's ecomagination campaign, she was dancing in the jungle to "Singing in the Rain." Fast-forward five years and Ellie is still dancing, but leaves the jungle to dance past GE innovations from the past five years. Ellie boogies by jet engines, Wattstations for charging electric cars, solar panels, and a research facility, then concludes where she left off: dancing in the jungle. Watch "Ellie II" here. "Electric Cattle" uses the right amount of cowbell. The ad promotes Jenbacher biogas technology, which creates energy using organic waste from landfills, compost and cows. A stadium is packed with concertgoers awaiting their favorite band. Drums, guitars and cowbells play until the band appears onstage: a group of cows named "The Electric Cattle." See it here. A "Line Dance" that breaks out on a GE factory line goes global, spanning various GE centers, my favorite being a research facility where workers in yellow scrubs get their country groove on. "Technology that provides cleaner air, cleaner water and helps make all of us more energy-efficient is something the whole world can get in step with," closes the ad, shown here. BBDO New York created the campaign.
Snickers conducted a "Focus Group" for its new peanut butter squared candy bars, but don't go volunteering to be a taster just yet. You might wind up being the tasted. Sharks are part of the Snickers focus group, snacking on humans that ate a peanut butter cup compared to someone who ate a Snickers peanut butter squared candy. Steve tasted better than Lisa because Lisa only ate a PB cup, while Steve ate a Snickers peanut butter squared. The spot ends with an unsuspecting man, eating a peanut butter Snickers, entering the conference room of sharks. See the ad here, created by BBDO New York.
Here's a look at an outdoor ad campaign that makes commuting to work bearable in the winter. Caribou Coffee promoted its new line of hot breakfast sandwiches by turning Minnesota bus shelters into ovens. That's right, the transit shelters are heated, keeping commuters warm and toasty, like Caribou's breakfast sandwiches. See a heated bus shelter here, created by Colle+McVoy.
The California Tobacco Control Program launched a TV campaign highlighting the strides the state has made in banning smoking in public places, but also emphasizing the amount of work that still needs to be done. "Emerging Man" begins with a man sliding from an airplane food cart into a pizzeria oven while describing California as the first state to ban smoking on airplanes and the first to have smoke-free bars and restaurants. The tone turns serious once the man changes into doctor scrubs. While holding a newborn baby, he explains that "even if you were born today, you would still grow up in a world where tobacco kills more people than AIDS, drugs, alcohol, murder and car crashes combined." Watch the ad here, created by RPA.
A "Submarine" is being attacked and sailors are racing to save themselves in the first of two ads for DirecTV. It's every man for himself, so once a room starts flooding heavily, the door is sealed shut, even though there's a sailor still trapped. The sailor looks through the glass as the water gets higher. Viewers then see a man watching the scene on his flat screen with baited breath; the picture quality is that good. Watch it here. "Ice Cream" is great. Two robots destroy a kitchen while a man calmly watches. Remote in-hand, the man pauses the robots mid-fight, resuming the violence in the living room. Debauchery is once again placed on hold, waiting for the man to resume watching his movie in the bedroom. See it here. Grey created the ads, with audio editing provided by Sound Lounge New York.
Jake Gyllenhaal brought an ex-girlfriend to the Golden Globes, but it wasn't Taylor Swift. At least T-Swift will always have this adorable Sony Electronics ad from last year to look back on. The ad promotes Sony's Cyber-shot digital cameras, namely its iSweep Panorama feature that captures panoramic shots in a press and sweep motion. Swift visits Sony's research facility to test the iSweep panorama feature. A gaggle of adoring fans are dropped in, photographed by Swift, and then airlifted out. Except for that one obsessed fan, who holds onto the gate separating himself from Swift. Watch the ad here, created by 180 Los Angeles.
Random App of the week: Brunner created an augmented reality app for The Andy Warhol Museum that engages fans in New York City and Pittsburgh. This app allows users to revisit important aspects of Warhol's life, including events in his early career, his life and death in Pittsburgh, his work and friendships. Layar technology is used to display real-time digital information on top of the real world as seen through the camera of your mobile phone. Users can download Layar technology, then access the free app.
|Amy Corr is managing editor, online newsletters for MediaPost. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.|
from my email this week:
The Secrets of Success Right Now
by Joe Guertin
Sales trainer Joe Guertin likes to keep things simple, so does SalesDog. These 17 rules don't need long-winded explanations. You'll find them self-explanatory. Follow them and they'll help you go the distance in 2011:
Know your personal strengths.
Know your personal weaknesses even better.
Push yourself, then push harder.
Embrace change. Nobody cares how things used to be done.
SalesDog 2701 Loker Ave. West, Ste. 148, Carlsbad, CA 92010
Tel: 760-476-3700 • Fax: 760-476-3733 • Web: www.SalesDog.com
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Click & Read:
In this age of two way communication via social media , I was surprised at the lack of involvement, over 90% of businesses are not using this tool.
Or they simply don't understand how to use Twitter and Facebook for customer relationships.
I recently started another website, ScLoHo's Social Media Adventure to take you thru some of the steps of getting started and a few tips and tricks to help you. The site is updated daily at noon, and if you are just digging into this, I suggest you begin by reading the first post on January 3rd, 2011 and then go thru each one. Click here to check it out.
And take a look at these numbers from Mediapost:
Justin Schuster, vice president of enterprise products for MarketTools, Inc., said "... few organizations are equipped to take advantage of social media channels this channel... organizations that... incorporate feedback gathered through social media channels are able to uncover richer insights to help them improve customer satisfaction..."
A growing number of consumers are turning to social media channels to share unsatisfactory customer service experiences. In a recent research report, shared by MarketTools, Forrester found that 16% of customers have vented about negative customer service interactions through social channels, such as online customer reviews, Facebook status updates, or blog posts. Forrester also cites "integrating social media monitoring" as one of the major trends that characterize leading-edge voice of the customer (VOC) programs.
Schuster also notes that "...(companies) need to use this unsolicited feedback to... address the concerns of the individual customer... (and) to uncover insights to help improve business processes that lead to higher overall customer satisfaction... "
The MarketTools study revealed a disparity in the way companies think and the way they act in regards to customer satisfaction. Although 92% of respondents believe that satisfied customers are very important or extremely important to their company's bottom line, only 42% solicit customer feedback on a continuous basis, and 22% solicit feedback only once a year or not at all.
Some additional highlights from the survey include:
- 39% of executives surveyed said that their companies increased focus on customer satisfaction in 2010 versus 2009, with 21% stating that they invested more in customer satisfaction-related products and services in 2010 versus 2009
- Despite the importance given to customer satisfaction, 14% of executives surveyed said their companies don't solicit customer feedback at all
- 46% of the executives surveyed rate their company's performance on customer satisfaction in the top 10% when compared to their peer companies, and 93% rate themselves in the top 50% of peer companies
- Still, 56% of all respondents said their companies do not have, or are not sure if their companies have, a formal voice of the customer (VOC) program
- Nearly one out of every four executives said that they seldom or never use customer feedback to change a business process
For more information about the study and MarketTools, please visit here.Sphere: Related Content
10 sales tips from SalesDog.com for 2011:
Recently I was reviewing some great ideas for increasing daily production when I came across some advice that is right on target for every sales professional. See which ones you may not be using and incorporate them into your day.
1. Write down your daily goals—when we put them to pen and paper or on your desktop, there is more commitment.
2. Have your call list ready before the day starts every day.
3. Listen to or read something motivational — 5-10 minutes is all you need daily.
4. Eat a balanced and healthy breakfast and do some sort of exercise.
5. Review your business plan and if you don't have one write one.
6. Be prepared for all appointments on the phone and in person.
7. Appreciate and encourage someone today. Remember to actually do this. It is one thing to think about it and another to act on it.
8. Get at least one referral every day.
9. Say thank you—verbally or through the written word at least 3 times a day.
10. Keep your desk neat and throw out or file anything you have not acted on in the last 30 days—act on it now or delegate.
Andrea Nierenberg is the president of The Nierenberg Group, a business communications company with a total process for educating, motivating and connecting people. Learn more at www.NierenbergGroup.com.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Click & read:
The last time he updated his blog was October, 2010. I know, because I subscribe to it via a newsletter.
Read his latest wisdom:
Is There Money in Accommodating Early-Stage Shoppers?You carry a cellular telephone. You're reasonably happy with the service, the rate, even with the quality of your phone calls. Still, the phone you purchased two years ago was already proven technology by those standards, and is now considered old. Plus, you're seeing the ads on TV for the newer touch screen phones, and you're getting curious.
You're vaguely aware that your two year commitment to your current carrier is drawing to a close, and you keep seeing all those ads for the newer touch screens. You head out to the mall. It seems a good idea to quiz a couple of salespeople at the cell phone kiosks.
You've just become an early-stage buyer.
Salespeople have names for early-stage shoppers: "lookie loos," "tire kickers," "time wasters." Early-stage shoppers, very aware of their own ignorance, would feel much more comfortable at this point if salespeople were removed from their buying process. Early-stage shoppers say things like, "I'm just looking."
Shoppers identify themselves by the questions they ask.
- Early-stage shoppers don't know what they don't know. They are are becoming aware of an itch, but don't know yet how (or where) to scratch. Early-stage shoppers tend to ask questions about the process.
Current early-stage questions in the cellular industry are along the lines of "What's Wireless-N," "Are you telling me I can use my phone to connect my laptop?" and "What exactly is a 4G Network?"
- Whether conscious of it, or not, mid-stage shoppers have eliminated the offers which don't solve their problem, and are honing in on the solution which is exactly right for them. Mid-stage shoppers ask questions about specific equipment and its implementation.
Middle-stage questions sound like, "How good is reception on this phone?" or "What's the battery life on the Model 22XJ?"
- Late-stage shoppers are ready to buy. If they're talking to you, there's an excellent probability that you'll get the sale. Late-stage shoppers ask questions about pricing and purchase terms.
Late-stage questions might be "What's the total price including the upgraded memory chip and sales tax?" or "Can you give me a better price on the hardware if I accept a longer service commitment?"
Salespeople pray for late-stage shoppers.
To most salespeople, selling will always be a numbers game. "Pitch" the offer to a large number of people and a few will purchase. If those few spend enough money, salespeople are rewarded for all of the time they spent with those who didn't buy.
If you show signs of buying, salespeople will pay close attention to you. Show the opposite signs and they will move on to better prospects. They call this process "qualifying the lead."
But, suppose you're one of those ideal customers the cellular companies lust over. You buy expensive phones which lead to expensive add-on services, you buy the additional warranty, and you never invoke early termination. You're not a tire kicker or a time waster. You're a highly-qualified early-stage buyer who has very real questions about changes in technology and services since you last upgraded.
Wouldn't you be more likely to trust someone who helps you understand the alternatives rather than pushing you to make an immediate purchase? Isn't this the basis of relational selling?
Nurturing shoppers through the stages.
Put yourself into the mindset of an early-stage shopper for anything. If you found a reliable source of information, wouldn't you automatically be more inclined to buy from that source when you've decided to purchase?
So far, the best side-by-side comparison I've seen for cellular service and phones is offered by c/net. The sad part of this analysis is that c/net doesn't sell telephones or cellular service. Any cell company could publish this information. It is widely available.
Of course, the danger of inviting side-by-side comparisons between your company and your competitors is the risk of not being competitive. Maybe that's why the cellular providers not only hide this information, they all bundle services differently which makes comparisons even more difficult.
But some businesses understand how to grow new customers.
Distinctive Kitchens Culinary Arts Center in Pensacola, Florida is a family business that for 80 years has sold premium appliances, and more recently wines and culinary accessories. Distinctive Kitchens offers demonstrations, classes, and in-store experts. Shoppers new to gourmet cooking or experienced cooks brushing up on new technique will find the answers they need, and a great source of product, too.
Sweet Maria's Coffee in Oakland, California offers all of the information any coffee drinker could possibly want, from reviews of various equipment, to articles, to instructional videos, to selections of green coffees from all around the world. Plus, Sweet Maria's hosts a community forum in which members discuss their opinions of coffees, roasting, brewing methods, blending, storing, and the selections of green coffees. Care to bet they have very little customer turnover?
Home Depot has a series of in-store workshops designed to give customers hands-on experience using materials, tools, and supplies in their Home Improver Club.
Think about the number of gallons of premium paints, glazes, and other supplies you can sell over the customer's lifetime once you teach a homeowner how to apply a faux painting technique.
Can your business offer early-stage information while competing for late-stage shoppers?
- Could your insurance agency create a checklist for homeowners, listing all of the common furnishings, and leaving space for the homeowner to estimate the replacement cost of each?
- Could your photography store set up “good, better, best” packages of cameras, lenses, flash attachments, and instructional videos?
- Could your HVAC company produce a chart that shows how quickly a new furnace or air conditioner will pay for its self in savings due to higher efficiency?
- Could your furniture store create a layout grid with scale pictures of common furnishings and help shoppers envision their home with new sofas, beds, and entertainment centers?
- Could your music store create posters which explain the advantages of specific guitars in the performance of specific genres of music?
When you give early-stage shoppers the basic information they need, those shoppers will come to you now, and are likely to return as they move through the buying stages.
Chuck McKay is a marketing consultant who helps customers discover, and choose your business. Questions about attracting customers at different buying stages may be directed to ChuckMcKay@ChuckMcKayOnLine.com Sphere: Related Content
Today we have a guest post from Randy Clark of TKO Graphics:
Earn the right to ask for the order!
- Have you listened to your customer and determined their needs?
- Can you fulfill those needs?
- Have gathered helpful information?
- Have you educated your customer about what fits their needs best?
- Do you focus on your customer’s best interests?
- Are you building long-term relationships with your customers?
If your answer is yes – you have earned the right to ask for the order.
Furthermore, if you have been a good consultant, it is only fair to your customer to ask them for their business. If you do not ask, could someone less qualified, invested, or concerned get his or her business? It happens every day.
So…why haven’t you asked for the order? Most decision makers will say no several times before they say yes…to somebody, yet most consultants only ask once or never ask for the order. Here’s why:
- You don’t want to be pushy – so you wait for them to contact you.
- The customer is you friend – they will let you know what they need.
- You don’t like it when you’re asked for the order – everyone must think like you.
- You are afraid of rejection – you are the only one.
- You don’t know how to ask – let’s talk about how to ask.
Have you ever had a customer, you considered a friend, place an order with someone else without consulting you? How’d that wait for them, don’t ask strategy work?
How to ask
You can only ask when you have earned the right to ask.
Here are a few simple ways to ask.
- How’s that sound?
- If I could do _______may I earn your business?
- I build relationships with customers; may we start our relationship with this order?
- “Let me prove to you who we are! Let’s start small with _______.
How to look and sound confident (even if you are afraid!)
Sit or stand straight, do not slouch. Face the customer, smile, and maintain eye contact.
When the customer is talking try clasping your hands.
Present a neat, clean, professional, appearance geared to the client. If you can set yourself above your competition do it.
Keep in mind more people retain what they see rather than what they hear. Set up a prez on your laptop or mobile. Post a video on you tube. Use brochures, company books, samples, testimonials, photos etc.
What should you share?
We are all looking for people we can trust to solve our problems. What makes you trustworthy? Is it time in business, experienced tenured employees? Is it others you have helped? What problems do you solve? Do you have exclusive equipment or systems?
What is your unique position? What sets you apart?
Use lowered inflection. Think sheet music – descending scale. Start with a higher note and go down. It’s what we all do when we are confident. When we are afraid or unsure - we use rising inflection, which starts low and rises in a question. Lowered inflection shows confidence while rising inflections shows fear, which creates distrust. Would you ask some one to dance with rising inflection? “Would you dance with me?” (Please. please, please) How about telling your child, “go clean your room now?” How do you think that would go over?
Once you have asked for the order, sit back, relax, smile, and listen. Don’t speak. Pay attention, wait for your customers thoughts.
You are not always on your customers mind. You may not be there when the light bulb goes off, and they see the need your product or service. Who will be there? I have always found believing in my product and caring for my customer is a constant source of confidence. Earn the right. Help your customer. Ask for the order.Sphere: Related Content