September 19, 2011

Golden rule of engagement: Always tell the truth


Tips on social CRM for brands from an industry expert

Guest post by
CRM Analyst, Software Advice

The greatest benefit of attending those big, bulky industry conferences is not the swag – although that free Apple TV was pretty sweet. Rather, it’s the opportunity to speak with some of the greatest thought leaders and innovators that attend. One of the more recognized leaders in the CRM industry is Marshall Lager of Third Idea Consulting. I was able to snag Marshall for a bit at last month’s CRM Evolution in New York to discuss the most buzzed-about topic at the conference: social CRM.

Interview highlights:

  • Social CRM is derived from tools that are entirely consumer-related: Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc. People use these mediums to communicate and share experiences. Businesses are finally catching onto that, figuring out not only how to foster relationships in the social arena, but monetize them as well.
  • The first step in getting started with social CRM is simply signing up for an account. Once that’s done, it’s time to listen and find out what your customers are saying. Once you have that, you can start building a strategy around how you will use the networks. The goal is to personalize your company, making it “someone” that individuals can relate to.
  • Small businesses in particular can benefit from social media. SMBs already have that face-to-face direct rapport with their customers. Social media is a free way to extend that relationship, and because their customer base is still small, social media allows the small business owner to touch every single customer.
  • Questions to ask when building a social CRM strategy: How are we going to do social media? What do we want to focus on? What’s our personality? What are our rules of engagement?
  • The golden rule of engagement: Always tell the truth. It sounds simple, but it’s really important. If the customers trust you, they will come back. If they don’t, you’ve lost them completely.
Lauren Carlson is a CRM analyst for Software Advice. She writes about various topics related to CRM software, with particular interest in sales force automation, marketing automation and customer service. Follow her on Twitter at @crmadvice.
July 18, 2011

Gary Vee on the disruptive force of social media

Part 1 of 4: Gary Vaynerchuk on how brands must adjust to the new world of social media.

Ayelet NoffIhad the pleasure of meeting up with Gary Vaynerchuk recently when he was in Israel. Here’s his (almost) full speech at the event McCann Erickson held in Tel Aviv.

I am always amazed at how blunt and real Gary can be. Gary told the audience that they were doing all the wrong things in marketing their brands; that they were marketing in 2011 as if it was 2005; that no one watches commercials on TV any more because they all fast-forward with TiVo, and even those who don’t fast-forward are usually too busy looking at another screen (mobile) or even two other screens (Web and mobile) or even three other screens (Web, mobile and iPad). That no one looks at banners anymore and few look at billboards for that matter. Everyone is busy looking at their mobile, or their laptop, or their iPad. This is not the future. This is now.

The talk was insightful, brilliant and captivating. In an ADD world where it is immeasurably hard to catch people’s full attention (as I had demonstrated above), Gary was/is always up to the task. He is probably one of the only people in the world who can keep me captivated for a whole hour without checking my iPhone.

I split the speech into four different parts because of YouTube limitations. They’re all worth watching. Enjoy!

• Part 1: Gary Vaynerchuk Speech (embedded above)
• Part 2: Gary Vaynerchuk Speech
• Part 3: Gary Vaynerchuk Speech
• Part 4: Gary Vaynerchuk Speech
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June 22, 2011

How Facebook has quietly created a gold mine for marketers

Facebook ad

Inside the huge banner opportunity created by Facebook

Christopher RollysonFacebook’s development schedule epitomizes the “white water, fast iteration” approach to serving company and customer. Although its mishaps are legendary, it succeeds in consistently fielding a mind-numbing array of features, so it is difficult to keep up and very easy to miss the significance of things.

To wit, very few people people have noticed that Facebook has quietly revolutionized banner ads through a feature that is maligned by users but gold for marketers. This feature has created two opportunities for e-commerce marketers: a new means of inexpensive market research and an easy way to improve relationships with their viewers.

Read on to do this to your competitors before they do it to you.

‘You have removed this ad’: A spark in a dry forest

I hope you have used the “remove this ad” feature that Facebook introduced, I believe, in Q4 2009 or Q1 2010. When you mouse over most Facebook ads, you will see an “x” in the far right (1 — see above). When you click the “x” to remove the ad, you get the dialog box beneath, which gives you the radio buttons (2) and the all-important “other.” When you hit “Okay,” you get the gold box. Seems innocuous, right? Wrong. It has begun to change the expectations of your prospects, who will increasingly expect to give feedback on all ads.

Removing ads: Customer viewpoint

I have been using “remove this ad” since it was released, and I have noticed several things about it:

  • There’s very little talk about it online. Any dialog is dominated by users who hate “remove this ad” because they hate ads in general and they would like “removing” the ad to be permanent (i.e. bar chart brains would never reappear). Note that the gold box doesn’t promise banishing the ad. Users don’t care, though.
  • I’ll hypothesize that only a small portion of Facebook users bother to give feedback, but I’ll wager that most of those who do want to do it everywhere.
  • Yes, when you remove the ad, it isn’t banished from your land forever, but clicking the “x” and adding a peppery comment can be satisfying anyway.

Removing ads: A marketer’s viewpoint

Now, think about yourself as a buyer of millions of dollars of banner ads per year, which all CMOs do. What if, for appropriate (geeky) segments you would introduce this functionality in some of your banner ads (not necessarily on Facebook)? This would help you:

  • Conduct low-cost market research by collecting responses; on Facebook itself this is particularly interesting because Facebook knows user demographics. However, off-Facebook, wouldn’t you like to know if readers of certain sites find your ads offensive or …? (you design the responses)
The majority of ‘display’ ads will be selected by customers within 10 years at the outside; certain demographics much earlier.
  • Improve your relationship with prospects when you give them the option to respond; you suggest that you are interested in their viewpoints.
  • You can take this into account when selecting your ad mix. You read it here, in 2011: The majority of “display” ads will be selected by customers within 10 years at the outside; certain demographics much earlier.
  • I recommend pilots this year to get ahead of the market. Of course, many of your ads are syndicated, etc., but you can select specific situations to experiment and learn.

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May 26, 2011

Word of mouth marketing flaws exposed

miracle on 34th street
“Miracle on 34th Street”: Lesson for today’s marketers?


Only 15% of word of mouth marketing campaigns show results, but WOM drives sales — when companies honor and nurture it

Christopher S. RollysonWord of mouth marketing is seen by many marketers as the economic engine of social business (or social media) because people recommend products and services to each other: All marketers have to do is give them the right information to share and make it easy for them to recommend things, right? Wrong. Or, in popular parlance, “It’s complicated.”

Here, I’ll identify some of the flawed concepts that underlie word of mouth marketing (WOMM) so that you can avoid being part of its 85 percent casualty rate. I’ll show in general how you can tweak the idea and succeed with social business initiatives more often.

Word of mouth marketing is flawed

At Alterian’s 2010 user conference, Don Peppers shared this arresting statistic in his keynote: Only 15% of WOMM initiatives show positive ROI. Shocking — at least until you start thinking about it. Loosely speaking, WOM (sans “marketing”) happens when a trusted and relatively unbiased “friend” shares her experience with a product/service with someone close to her. “Someone like me” who isn’t tainted by sales commissions or quarterly revenue targets. Marketing, on the other hand, is generally about creating need or driving sales. Do you see the problem?

In this context, WOM and marketing are mutually exclusive: The latter’s purpose is to serve the company by moving product; the former serves the person first. It’s a conflict of interest, and it will rarely work. Ever.

93% of word of mouth is offline

In a second data point, Keller Fay Group’s latest TalkTrack study revealed that the overwhelming majority of WOM (as defined by them) takes place offline and face to face (via e-consultancy and @stefanw), not online through social business. This is not surprising when you stop to think about what traditional WOM is, largely a conversation between family or close friends. Tight ties. However, neither of these references dives into WOM or WOMM deeply enough to understand why and how they can work or not.

WOM among loose ties

Digital communications significantly reduce the cost of many kinds of interaction, so WOM among loose ties will continue to grow. However, marketers should recognize that loose ties and tight ties have important differences because the motivations and level of trust are different. Loose ties are not just inferior tight ties; people form loose ties for many reasons, but the online many-to-many environment enables people to manage their reputations and influence by leveraging the network effect. Tight tie relationships are limited in number, multidimensional and high investment.

How marketers can succeed with word of mouth

WOM serves the customer, not you. Trust that if you don’t interfere, positive results will often result.

Having led marketing for several firms, I can appreciate why marketers would love the concept of word of mouth marketing. Given that they are in conflict, it’s important to focus on WOM while avoiding WOMM. I’ll wager that the majority of the 85 percent of failures result from not understanding and honoring their differences. The good news is, WOM drives sales — when companies honor and nurture it. Here’s how:

  • First — and this is a leap of faith — accept that WOM serves the customer, not you. Trust that if you don’t interfere, positive results will often result. There is no halfway here; intent and honesty are WOM’s key differentiators. Don Peppers shared Staples’ “Speak Easy” fiasco as a warning (“sponsored” tweets and bloggers are other traps). All companies say that they put the customer first, but many aren’t being honest with themselves or their customers.
  • Second, the company must put itself first to be congruent with itself as a business. It shouldn’t try to do WOM. But the company, acting in its self-interest, can support WOM. Marketers must safeguard these boundaries if they want to succeed because they form the foundation of trust among the three principal actors: company, friend and customer.
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March 18, 2011

Review: ‘Social Marketing to the Business Customer’

Social Marketing to the Business Customer
by Paul Gillin and Eric Schwartzman
Wiley, 250 pages, hardcover, $16.09 on Amazon

JD LasicaIstill run into executives and top-tier managers who think of social networking as an employee productivity drain. For anyone who shares a similar point of view, run to your nearest bookstore and pick up a copy of “Social Marketing to the Business Customer” by Paul Gillin and Eric Schwartzman (disclosure: I’m friends with both authors).

The book is chock full of meaty, real-world examples of how to grow your business using B2B and B2C strategies and tactics. The authors show how companies can use social media to forge deep, productive relationships with customers and lure new customers into the fold.

Social-MarketingTo take a few examples: The authors explain how a Midwestern distributor of solar panels could use Twitter’s advanced search feature to scout out anyone discussing the term “solar panels” within a 100-mile radius of Chicago.

Channeling Shel Israel in “Twitterville,” they cite a Dell senior manager Richard Binhammer’s admonition: “Don’t waste your time trying to convert atheists. Work on the agnostics in the room — doubters who might be turned into believers through conversation.”

The authors devote a chapter to search, revealing some of the tactics that social marketers (including our merry crew here at use to suss out keywords that customers are using to discuss your business — and where they’re discussing it. Sometimes it calls for a shift in the language you use on your own website or blog. “If you’re blogging about ‘solar cells’ but your customers are searching for ‘solar power,’ you’re speaking two different languages,” they write. Continue reading