Tuesday, December 27, 2011

¿Where are our marketing practices going during 2012?

What's out there for us?

And finally we made it to 2011’s last week! And even though there is no real pause between one year and the following, it’s as if we’re really going into a New Year, a different one. It feels like closing one door and stepping into a different room. ¡It’s an overwhelming feeling, very difficult to put down on words!

This is a wonderful time of the year to look back and think, analyze, meditate. I love doing it. Thinking a little bit about the things we’ve done, about those that continue to be in our “to-do list” and even about those we did without even planning ahead.

It's also a good time to ask yourself: Where are we heading to next year? What's out there waiting for us in 2012, that many people think is going to be even harder than 2011, and for others, it doesn't look like it's going to be so bad?

The new way of doing business, doing marketing, has taking a very exciting direction which, at least for me, it’s really enjoyable and makes me truly believe it’s a direction in which you can really start putting together highly profitable strategies, with little waste and a lot of satisfaction for both of the participating actors: your company and its customers.

It’s not about finding out today which is going to be the most successful social network, if Google+ is finally going to give Facebook a hard time, or if Twitter will finally open up and say it’s going again California’s giant, or if location-based marketing will finally become an effective strategy, or if mobile marketing will be the “New Mambo King” or not, or if social protests will continue to be promoted and coordinated by the twitt or by whatsapping!

This time I’m simply referring to the fact your customer will finally become the main element on your planning. This customer which has been able to develop a powerful voice, with a huge capacity to cooperate with others and contribute to collective knowledge, a consumer who has challenged any doubt there could be about his value on the sales cycle, and has brought old sales speeches that are no longer enough to the spotlight, and so many other things that are being revised now. If we want to put it brieffly “your customer has got the control”

The fact you're now making such a strong effort to develop relevant content for them, of their interest, that gets their attention and invites them to share it with others, it's really something you've never done before.

The fact you’re now so eager to include among your goals to developing the “referral sale” or the sale you can do by being recommended by your customers with their friends, thanks to a honest and transparent relationship with your customers, where there is value for both sides, it’s also a huge step forward if compared to the way marketing had been done for many years.

And that’s good for everybody. It’s good for your company because it really pushes you to creatively compete and add value to your relationship with customers. It’s good for customers because, in exchange of their loyalty and recommendation to others,  they’ll get better product and services offers, which will be completely focused on fulfilling each and every need they might have.

It’s also good for the society as a whole because companies and consumers will be working together for the first time in many years.

That’s the reason why I enjoy so much this new way of doing marketing focusing our efforts in delivering an integer, positive customer experience. Because it’s really, and has always been,  about developing satisfied customers.

It doesn’t matter who beats who, or who becomes the leader this year, nor is about which is going to be the application everyone will be talking about. For sure we’ll have the opportunity to test and play with new, technologically advanced toys but now, it’s about winning over your customer’s loyalty. That will be key to measuring your efforts’ success.

¿What can I recommend you to carry it on throughout the year? Definitely from all the things we’ve learnt and shared this year, the best advise I can offer you is to closely listen to what's happening around you, to what your customers are saying about your company, brand or product. Listen to what they comment and share, and make sure to develop many “ears” in many places so that you don’t lose any opportunity to develop a stronger and more positive experience for your customers.

From this little place in the ciberspace we wish you the very best in the world starting the very first day of the upcoming year and forver.

Happy New Year 2012!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2012 for everybody!

It’s been quite a complicated year from many different points of view. However, I want to focus this post on the positive side, on that energy that, at the end of the day, is going to help us stay put, move on and bring all our projects to life.

Even though simply being a positive thinker isn’t going to turn your business into a successful one neither it’s going to double your sales every month, it’s by positively thinking that you’re going to afloat in the days in which things don’t  turn out the way they’re supposed to. If your thoughts, meaning, your attitude towards your life, business, your family are complemented with your efforts, decisions and actions, I’m very positive everything will work out for you on a different way.

May this Holiday season be a time for you to enjoy with your loved ones of cheerful moments, plenty of happiness, of things to share, of stories to talk about and treasure, plenty of laughs and many hugs.

And, of course, may this brand new 2012 be plenty of wonderful things, prosperity, health so that you can work double shift every day, peaceful and success.

On my side, I can only thank your for the support you’ve given to this humble blog throughout the year and simply renew my commitment to keep this space as one to talk, share and learn from our own experiences y knowledge, on a simple, clear and straight-forward way.

Merry Christmas and may this year we’re receiving as new allow for all your most beautiful dreams and projects to come true.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Interactions in Social Media: Why are your “Comments” so important?

Long before Facebook announced its new statistics, which are now mostly oriented to measuring interaction with posted content (among other things, of course), there were some industry trends indicating a slight shift in the social media business towards this element: interaction.

It’s now circling around conversation, leaving slightly on the side the myth of large fan numbers, to focus more on the two-ways interactivity, that meaning, the audience’s commitment or engagement.

What am I talking about? For sure you’ve had the opportunity to see it often enough: very interesting articles which are read by thousands of people, retwitted by hundreds, with many “Likes” on Facebook, and as many "+1" in Google.

From any point of view, a successfully post by its content but, however, when you scroll down to the comments area, the reality you see is completely different: very few comments, and even in some cases, without a single comment at all.

Why are your comments so important? As I always do, I'll explain myself with an example:

In this picture I share with you an email Manolo is sending to his friend Francisco (fictitious names and accounts to avoid the "spammers" we are all familiar with) where he’s sharing a link to an article and just says "You might be interested" in the "Title". There’s nothing more.

But the phrase “You might be interested” can be interpreted from many different points of view. Francisco might be interested because it’s so bad an article as to be taken as an example of what not to do, or he might be interested because it’s quite relevant to something in particular. In either case, Manolo isn’t telling Francisco what he thinks about the content but he simply shared it because he thought it might be of interest to Francisco. That’s it.

In this new picture, you can completely and clearly see how important a "Comment" is. In this case, Manolo won’t simply re-send the link to Francisco, but he’s adding:

  • "You must take a look. I found it truly interesting" in the subject line. Right from that point on, Francisco knows what Manolo thinks about the article, since he’s saying he considered it "excellent", not good, not regular, but excellent.
  • "It would be extremely interesting for the project you're working on now" in the content, so that Francisco knows reading the article will be important to him, it’s going to be useful for something he’s working on now, inviting him to take immediate action at that moment, not leaving it for a later time.
  • "Use it on my project too." Wow, if it’s so good that Manolo is using it for his very own project, it definitely has to be good.

And finally, he says, "Let me know what you think," inviting Francisco to continue the interaction and get back to Manolo with his comments. Having said this, Francisco knows Manolo will be looking forward to receiving his feedback, and the conversation get’s fueled up automatically.

Did you see the difference? Did you see how the "Comment", as simple as it might be, is the element that actually generates the interaction, the understanding between the two actors?  

In the first example, the shared post can be read or not, but the person who sends it, isn’t bringing anything to the table, but just acting as a relay antenna. You could assume the post is interesting but nothing more. In the second example, the "Comment" is the one that actually generates the interaction, nurturing the relationship, and adding a powerful value to the sharing act.

When you include your comments in any material you re-send or share, or even in an article you read on any website, you’re leaving your piece of history, you’re helping build up a stronger social Web, you’re contributing to the Collective Intelligence, and help other people to draw on your experience and knowledge.

The comments, interaction, the two-ways communication are really the golden key on social networks and the new way of doing business and building relationships in our times. And it should be the goal of your digital marketing strategy too.

So what do you think?, Do you share with me your opinion?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

3 Questions that can help you grow your business¡

Just 3 simple questions.
This post was originally published by Salvador Figueros, a fellow blogger, and I found it so interesting that I asked Salvador to allow me to publish it here. I dedicate it to all of you, business owners and small to medium entrepreneurs who might be banging their heads trying to figure out ways to increase business.

There’s a simple formula: If you can turn each of your 10€ order into a 13€ one, you would be increasing your sales 30%. Right? If you make this every single day, at the end of the month, your profits will surprise you. But how can you make it happen? Here is where Santiago’s post fits perfectly and explains it so clear there’s little to add to it. Here you have it.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

“McDonald's is a great company. That's not new for anybody. Since Ray Kroc started the business years ago, things have worked out great for the franchise. There are many others who do similar things, but not the same.

It makes sense to see what they do. Analyze it. Learn from them.When things go well for so long, it means that what they’re doing, it’s been done properly. There is always a reason. Leaders do not leave that much room for chance. McDonald's doesn’t do it either.

The interesting thing is that you can learn from their secrets. You just have to get in the line to place your order and pay a little attention to what happens around you. Open your eyes wide and listen. Sometimes it can offer you a great lesson.

¿You want to biggie-size it?

You are in the queue. It is your turn and you ask for a "Big Mac". Then, you hear the voice of the attendant saying, "You want to biggie-size it?".

Just a few words is all it takes, and it’s enough. You don’t need much more to boost your income. Perhaps you didn’t think about the bigger size. It's okay. There you have the McDonald's staff to remind you.

Why? Because they know that question might mean additional income. There is a huge difference between making it or not. It's really easy. Just offer the customer an option. It's really easy, but there are only a few businesses that take advantage of it, and many other simply don’t do it at all.

¿Nuggets, chicken wings, ...?

Fortunately, there are many possibilities. Can you simply order the menu? For sure. It's more than enough if you’re not that hungry, but if you’re offered a supplement whether it’s nuggets, onion rings, wing, it might actually improve your meal. The options are readily available and Mc Donald’s staff simply offers them to you.

If you’re on a good mood, then usually add an order of 6 or 9 nuggets (you’re always offered the opportunity to choose). You always have the possibility of adding a supplement to your order, or not. You can still opt for the small, medium or large menu. No one is forcing you.

The game is a game of choices. There are never so many options as to get you confused or overwhelmed. Just enough for you to consider. That’s it. Think about how many customers they serve on a daily basis. You can now figure out how their business is increased by using this simple way of doing things.

Anything else?

You’re about to pull your wallet to pay, but there's always time for another question. This time, it works as a final summary: Anything else?

You’re being asked this question just when the process is almost finished. You might want to make sure you’re not leaving anything behind (dessert, pastries, ...). Did you ask for all the things you wanted to? Perfect. Now you’re finished. For sure?Great. You’re done. You’re happy and so is McDonald's. Happiness for you, revenue for them.

These are three simple questions, but have the power to increase your business significantly. They help you bring more money in everytime. They help you sell more. They help you not to leave anything behind.

At the end, everything is natural. It simply flows. Naturally. The questions come when they have to come and the process isn’t interrupted at anytime. In the end, everyone wins.

Reformulate these questions for your business and start working the way big companies do. If these questions can increase your income, why shouldn’t you try them out?”

Author Santiago Figueros
Published in Spanish at 3 Preguntas Que Pueden Doblar Tu Negocio
Translated by Joel Pinto

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

¿Can your business exist without customers?

Without customers buying, there's no business.
Some time ago I wrote an article entitled "Customer or company: which side are you on?" And one of the comments I received in one of the sites in which the article was published stated: "I think the company is more important than the customer because customers exist due to a company which is servicing them."

That person also added "... it is precisely the product the real "star" on the company-customer relationship."

My answer came with no delay. Can a business exist without customers who buy the products? Is there a star product with no customers buying it? The only way for a product to become “the star product” is by having many people buying it, isn’t it?

If you continue to think about the product being the king, it’s understandable because for many years companies have been focused on marketing the product, brand or the company itself, while there were little ways for the clients to make their opinion known, to bring it to the table. 

Everything worked only one way: from the company to the customer. Your company did manufacture a product and brought it to the market through different venues. Your clients went to the outlet of their choice and bought the product. Occasionally, if you were interested (which was very rare) in getting to know who your customer was, you only had to run a market survey and, with some metrics and analytics, you were able to define who your "average customer" was, and then moved on.

But now you must understand that the company has never been, or shouldn’t have been playing the main role. Neither should have the product. Nothing happens for your business if, on the other side of the counter, there isn’t a human being considering that everything you say, do and offer seems good and makes the decision to give you his money because he truly feels your product actually meets his needs, whichever they are.

It has always been this way: No customers willing to buy your product, there is no business for your company. With no business for your company, there is no money and with no money, there is no progress.

Even in very remote times, when companies were not "business" as we know them today and transactions were made through the exchange of food and things, if, for instance, you had four goats and, a typical day, wanted to exchange them for fish (yes, I know ... is not a balanced exchange, but let’s use it only as an example) if there was nobody interested in your goats, you were not going to have fish that day. It was really simple.

Even such a long time ago, if there was not a human being on the other side of the “business transaction”, nothing was ever going to happen. Very simple and it's been true for centuries, as it is today and will remain the same way forever.

And I think there's not much to say. If you still think that your product is the star, share with us why. What if your customers do not buy?