Let’s take a few steps up from a car wash. Let’s consider a trade show. Lots of different companies all in one location. Many times in addition to the different businesses with information about their company, there are also presentations – an opportunity to give more in depth information to a larger audience. Yes, you can give your information to potential clients one at a time as they visit your table, but it has a larger impact if you gather them together and present the information one time. The more businesses at the trade show, the wider audience the show reaches. Someone wants to visit Company A while someone else wants to visit Company B, but while they’re in the trade show chances are they’ll visit both companies at least briefly.
Now enter a collaborative website. Like trade shows, collaborative websites have a common theme. Like trade shows, collaborative websites have multiple companies. Informative presentation from the trade show turns into an online learning center with a collection of articles. Program listing…online directory, etc. UNLIKE trade shows, collaborative websites last more than a few days. Collaborative websites can reach a much broader audience because the information is taken to the consumers instead of the consumers traveling to the information at the trade show. Trade shows can cost anywhere from a hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. Collaborative websites cost much less for a whole year’s worth of exposure. Remember the different locations to point back to your company? Collaborative websites also use social media to draw attention to the site. However, like trade shows, there’s only so many companies that can be added to the show without getting overwhelming.
Wouldn’t you like to grab a space on my next collaborative website? Contact me for more information! email@example.com
Have you seen youth groups advertising on the side of the road for a car wash? Which ones were the most effective in drawing in customers? Usually, the ones with a larger number of people holding signs or shouting to passing cars, right? They draw more attention when they have groups of people in more than one location all pointing to the same location. Ah-ha! A real life example of how social media marketing works! You’ve got someone calling your attention to your message over on “Twitter Place” around down the road from your main event. Another group at “Facebook Corner” telling you to come right in. You may have more detailed information right before you get to the main event on the “LinkedIn Placard” just outside. People coming in different directions may see all the groups, or they may only see one of the groups in their particular lane. They get more business when they’re visible in more than one location.
I am participating in the CCBC Women’s Expo next week in Catonsville, MD March 13th & 14th. It’s a fabulous event allowing women to show case their business to several thousand people. If you’re not able to make it in person, there will be video streaming live from the show. I’ll post the link as soon as I can. (BTW, there area few vendor spaces left for the Expo.)
There is a new part of the expo this year that is very special to me. It’s called A Mother’s Self Care. Each year, the program will select one mother to help her feel and look better. A mom that has given much to her family and community but has not had the means to give to herself. I am so pleased to know this year’s recipient as she has been on of my close friends for nearly 7 years.
Together with the Cancer Support Foundation; Transformations Fitness for Women; and Coffee News Catonsville, MD, the Women’s Expo is helping transform my friend, Anita Hicks. Anita has given endless hours of herself to Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, her children’s schools, a local food bank, and other organizations. She has given selflessly and now she will be receiving back from the community. The funds raised from this year’s A Mother’s Self-Worth Program will be used to replace Anita’s teeth. Anita suffers from severe tooth decay and despite her cheerful attitude often tries to hide her smile. To support this program, you may purchase your Expo tickets at Transformations Fitness for Women of Catonsville
6600-C Baltimore National Pike
Catonsville, MD 21228
You may also purchase tickets for just $2 through me. Please contact me at 443-618-6249 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please send this message along to your friends and family and help with this wonderful opportunity. If you would like to print a flier, you can find it here.
Contact is the secret,
It’s the moment when everything happens.
Contact is the answer,
It’s the reason why everything happens.
Let’s Make Contact!
Three, Two, One, contact!
Does anyone else remember the show from the 80′s? The first part has been stuck in my head for hours. So, I googled it and now I have the rest of the lyrics. It also inspired me to talk about the importance of contact for your business.
Business is about contacts. If you don’t have contact with the consumer, you don’t have any business. Ever heard that it takes hearing/reading something three times before you remember it? What about your customers. You want them to remember you, right? So you need to repeat your contact with them.
Ways businesses make contact with customers:
1.) Advertisement – in some way the customer learns you have a product or service. It may be billboards, yellow pages, TV ads, online advertisements, or a physical display at trade shows, stores, etc. This is the customer’s first contact.
2.) Transaction – when you actually complete the sale or sign the service agreement, etc. You (or one of your representatives) are making contact with the customer. Even if you have an automated check-out system on a website, there is a different contact with the customer than when you’re still in the advertising stage.
3.) Follow up – I think this is an area some businesses overlook. You’ve completed the transaction, the customer has their product or service and their receipt. Now what? What do they think of your product? Did they tell someone else about it? Did it break? Do they have an idea to fix it? Yes, you can have a customer service department, but that requires the CUSTOMER to contact you. It’s extra effort. They may not remember. What if YOU made another contact with the customer after the sale? You could…
* Thank them for their business – calling, sending a note, or an e-mail
* Encourage them to come back again, maybe to purchase X, Y, or Z that would be compatible to what they bought. Maybe you give them a discount of some sort.
* Send a note or gift remembering their birthday, holiday, anniversary, etc.
* Offer them something if they refer a new customer to you.
The more often the customer sees your name, the more likely they are to remember it. Hopefully, they see it in a positive manner. If not, it’s important to follow up to try to resolve the problem.
My earlier post about a simple tweet and the customer service that followed is a perfect example of that. It is difficult to hang out at the malls, schools, etc. to listen to what people *might* say about your product. BUT, there are places people go online to chat and it’s easier to monitor those sites. Sites such as Facebook and Twitter are filled with people having conversations about what they’re doing now and what they think about anything and everything. Best of all, since it’s computer based, it’s SEARCHABLE! Yeah! So, now you can sit around all day and monitor social sites to see what might be said about you and your company. Sound fun? Sometimes. Is that a productive use of YOUR time? Probably not. That’s where Virtual Asssitants, like myself come in. Virtual Assistants can monitor social sites for both positive and negative feedback. Some of the stuff may be uninteresting or unimportant, but a VA can call your attention to the ones that need your attention.
What about these notes and gifts I suggest sending out? Does your hand ache just thinking about signing all those cards? (You’re going to have a big business, so you have lots of customers to follow up with, right?) A Virtual Assistant can create a digitized version of your signature and even a font of your own handwritting. Then cards can be mailed out without the hand cramping. Even better, VAs can design cards for you and mail them at lower rates than you would pay buying cards at a local store. Send a card out on the anniversary of a customer’s big purchase (house, car, boat, etc.). A Virtual Assistant can also keep track of those birthdays, holidays, annivesaries for you.
I recently had my own experience with a business using Twitter for customer service. I had purchased a domain name with one company, then used Host Gator for my webhost. I was having difficulty synching my e-mail accounts and expressed my frustration with a tweet. Shortly afterwards, I received a reply through Twitter from hostgator addressing my concern and helping me resolve the problem. I didn’t write TO Host Gator, I wasn’t following them, they weren’t following me, but they were running key word searches to read tweets mentioning their company. Their customer service impressed me and I will continue to use their services and recommend them highly to others.
Can you see how this would help businesses? Word of Mouth advertising can make or break a company. Companies can’t always be there when people start talking badly, so they can’t fix the problem. BUT when people tweet complaints, it is to the company’s advantage to catch the comment and try to fix the problem ASAP. There are programs such as Twitter Search (http://search.twitter.com/), Twitscoop (http://www.twitscoop.com/) and Twollo (http://www.twollo.com/) to help make key word searches easier.
Don’t have anyone to keep up with the search? Try hiring a virtual asssitant. TKM Virtual Services
I’ve had my Twitter account for about a month now and I am continually amazed at the diversity of uses for Twitter. Yes, there are those that keep us up to date with how far they’ve traveled on their way to the mailbox, but check out some of these uses:
Police, civilians Twitter together
Baltimore, Anne Arundel among departments communicating through social network tools
Pro athletes turning to blogs, social media
Brandon Marshall case highlights the trend
Some members of Congress use Twitter to keep their constituents up to date. http://tweetcongress.org/ has a searchable list of who is using Twitter. Just this morning Representative Kurt Schrader (D-OR) tweeted “Kurt Schrader: is excited about new loan possibilities for small businesses. Find out more here: http://schrader.house.gov/“
U.S. Reassures on Reliability of GPS Satellites
Businesses have all kinds of uses for Twitter. Applicant.com has a great chart: http://applicant.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/tweetcurrency1.jpg
Every year Merriam-Webster Dictionary adds new words to it’s lexicon. New for 2009 are words like webinar and edamame, but Merriam-Webster Dictionary has not yet added “social media” or “viral marketing.” They are too new for many to know what they mean without further explaination. I only heard them myself a few months ago. So, what is social media? Wikipedia.com defines social media as “primarily Internet-based tools for sharing and discussing information among human beings.” Internet users may not be familiar with the label “social media”, but more than likely they are familiar with social media websites – youtube.com, flickr.com, twitter.com and facebook.com to name a few.
What about “viral marketing”? The first time I read it, I was sure it was a misprint and the author ment virtual marketing. I stand corrected. Again, referring to wikipedia, viral marketing “refer[s] to marketing techniques that use pre-existing social networks to produce increases in brand awareness.” In other words, if you put yourself in a place where people will see you, they may start talking about you and investigate you or your company further which may or may not produce sales of your product or services. In essence it’s a nicer way of advertising your business. Instead of Crazy Eddie screaming in your face to buy, buy, BUY viral marketing peaks user’s interest and invites them to learn more.
Aren’t places like Facebook.com and Twitter.com just useless venues to waste time? Who wants to know what I ate for breakfast today doesn’t sound like your cup of tea? Think outside the box a bit. What if instead of telling people what you’re doing or going to do you tell them bits of information about your business? If they find that interesting they may follow you to see what you’re going to say next. What are benefits of chiropractic adjustment? I may tell you in a Tweet or two or three, or a whole series of tweets. What is the lastest application built to utilize twitter, there are users posting Tweets all the time. Just use the search feature on Twitter to bring up a listing of Tweets that have been posted recently about your subject. It gets better. Have a new idea you want to test and get reactions to? Tweet it, then look to see who responds and how they react. If you find a large number of people expressing interest in your post, you can expand more on that topic and work with it more within your company. Then you create a following.