Zee2A's Marketing Edge Blog

March 15, 2010

Anyone for a game of ‘telephone-tag’?

Our colleague and associate Merlyn Sanchez of SMART Business Owners wrote these excellent tips for leaving an effective voicemail.  The article can also be read directly on her blog.

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In this over-connected, cell phone to the ear, Web 2.0 world, it would seem inconceivable that it can be near impossible to reach someone. However, it’s more likely that your phone call will go to voice mail rather than to a human being!
So, what do you do when you encounter someone’s voice mail?  Many business owners and sales people tell me there’s no point in leaving a message because they’ll never get return call.  What they really mean is, “I can’t sell them anything via voice mail”.
Well, they probably weren’t going to buy anything even if you did reach them!  Without an objective and a plan, you’re just one more person vying for attention.  And since you haven’t developed a relationship, you’re very easy to ignore.
Here are some tips on how to leave an effective voice mail message:
1. Define the objective of your call. Is it a follow up to a networking event? Or are you returning the prospect’s call or email requesting information on your product or service?  Is it a “keep in touch” call where the purpose is to keep the relationship moving forward?
2. Prepare a script. You want to make sure that you make it clear why you’re calling, how you can be reached, and let them know when you’ll be following up if you don’t hear from them. This will help prevent stuttering or losing your train of thought.  There’s nothing worse than those rambling messages that you wish you could erase!
3. Make sure that you’re easy to reach. Leave them your office number and cell phone number.  And make sure to check your voice mail messages (it could be embarrassing if you don’t!)
4. Repeat your key information. Introduce yourself at the beginning and the end of your message and include your phone numbers.  Speak clearly and slowly enough for someone to be able to take down your information without having to replay your message several times.
5. Don’t give up! It may take several tries and a few rounds of telephone tag to finally reach your client or prospect.  So don’t be discouraged.

By the same token, learn when you’re being avoided and leave a message that lets the other person “bow out gracefully”.  Just ask them to respond if they’re no longer interested in hearing from you. This usually works best if you use email since there’s no fear that they may actually reach you if they call.  Inject a little humor and make it clear that there are no hard feelings.  It’ll go a long way to demonstrate that you are both persistent and considerate.
Every contact you have with someone is a potential to create or further a relationship.  Don’t miss an opportunity to get your message across in an effective and powerful way.

February 2, 2010

Ethical list building: Tip 4

Yesterday we discussed the third golden rule of email marketing. So far we have addressed ethical vs unethical ways of adding names to your mailing list, making it as easy as one click to be taken off a list (no haggling), and not using your own email programme or mail-merge to send your broadcasts.  Today, ethical list building tip number four is:

4. Only send relevant, useful information

Why? If the articles and information you send out are not directly related to your core business, it will do nothing other than damage your credibility rather than position you as an expert in your field. Sending information on dress and grooming are appropriate if you are an image consultant, not an accountant.

Also, if you make a habit of sending low value gumpf you will quickly irritate your readers, see your unsubscribe rates soar, and risk being marked as a spammer.

Not exactly rocket science, is it?

Tomorrow we’ll look at the 5th and final ‘top tip’ in this series.

January 28, 2010

Ethical list building: Tip 1

Over the next few days we’ll be exploring the top 5 ezine publishing guidelines that you need to follow as a reputable, ethical e-marketer. If you missed our previous post/s you can read them here. Today we look at tip number 1:

1. Only add subscribers with their permission!

Why? Well, a major reason for having an ezine or email newsletter at all is to position you as an expert in your field, to demonstrate your services, and enhance your credibility. You ruin it all by growing your subscriber base without their consent.

Additionally, people who actually want (and have asked) to hear from you are qualified prospects and are more likely to buy from you eventually. It is a complete sham to have a database of hundreds or even thousands of recipients that don’t want what you have to offer, never read your newsletters, and possibly even have your messages land straight in a junkmail folder.

How do you ensure you have their permission? By using what is known as ‘confirmed (or verified) opt-in’. This not only makes certain that every name on your mailing list has given you permission to send them your newsletters, serves to validate the email addresses you hold, and also prevents third parties from adding subscribers without their knowledge.

By definition then you would not add people to your mailing list simply because you picked up their card while networking. Neither would you mine the Yellow Pages or Chamber of Commerce member list to increase your subscriber numbers.

Responsible e-marketers regard this as standard practice.

Check back tomorrow for tip number 2.

January 27, 2010

Are you building a massive email list?

Ezines (or email newsletters) are a great way of showcasing your knowledge and positioning you as a credible expert in your field. They also allow you to stay on the radar of qualified prospects in a low-key, non-threatening way. They are low cost, created with ease, and delivered at the exact date and time that you determine.

It’s little wonder then that so many businesses are following the trend to build massive mailing lists.

Are you?

Read on over the next few days to learn the five top ezine publishing guidelines. If you don’t follow them, at best you’ll be ruining your reputation, at worst you’ll be breaking the law!  Check back tomorrow for tip number 1.

Are you sick of spam?

Like almost every email user (and that’s prettymuch everyone these days!) you probably get plenty of email newsletters landing in your inbox on a daily basis. But how many did you actually sign up to yourself?

If you’re anything like us you are probably receiving a wide variety of newsletters, offers, sales pitches, and local business announcements that you never requested.

Worse still is that if you don’t actually appreciate receiving them you probably can’t even have yourself removed from the mailing lists, can you?

It’s bad enough when you are the victim… But what if you are the perpetrator?

Over the next few days we’ll be sharing five of the top guidelines that ezine publishers need to adhere to – check back tomorrow for tip number one and make sure that you start getting it right!

December 17, 2009

How NOT to Twitter

Nate Whitehill, an online marketing genius recently wrote this excellent post with his 5 top tips for using Twitter (and what NOT to twit about!).
Enjoy!

June 30, 2009

Customer Service No-No’s

I noticed two interesting news headlines in the last few days.
Firstly, the OECD say that we are ‘at the bottom’ of the current economic recession – actually a positive thing, because it suggests (without promising) that things may begin the slow climb back to prosperity in the near future. The second indicated that the UK economy suffered a 2.4% shrinkage in the first quarter of 2009 – 0.5% worse than predicted and the worst for 51 years, apparently. Again,
although it may not at first blush seem like it, this is good news.
These type of figures are by definition retrospective – they look back at a period we have already lived through. There are many signs of recovery, mostly in the form of a slowdown in bad news!

In this week’s Marketing Edge (out for publiction tomorrow) we are re-running what was one of the most popular articles of 2008 – a critical look at customer service no-no’s. Remember that everyone struggles in a recession, but those who take customer service lightly will continue to struggle even when conditions improve. So take the key points to heart and root poor customer service out of your organisation. When you do, your customers will show their appreciation via longer, more profitable business relationships.

Sign up for your free subscription at: www.zee2a.com and make sure to verify your request before midnight tonight!

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June 12, 2009

Online vs Offline?

Philip Rosenthal sent Vanessa an email asking:

‘How much effort should a consultant put into their online presence versus offline face to face networking?

It may be different for different consultants, but how do you decide how much time to put in or what mix of time to put into different areas? I am concerned that online marketing is a potentially endless sink of time and am not sure what the returns will be compared with traditional marketing.

Also, I have been on [a particular online networking facility] for less than a month and have about 30 connections – some of whom are people I don’t really know but are members of professional societies of which I am also a member and live in the same city as me – I hope to get to know them better this way. Any suggestions?’

Hello Philip,

Great question, and one which I’m sure many other Marketing Edge readers are wondering about. You raise three separate points, which I’ll address one by one:

Online vs offline networking

How much time you decide to spend in one area versus the other depends entirely on where your prospects are and you may have to do some research of your own to find out where that is. As a business owner with many commitments you simply cannot afford to waste your time, money and effort in activities that have minimal impact.

Are your prospects researching and making buying decisions from behind their PCs? If so, are they building relationships with potential suppliers through social networking, or are they using search engines to find information on specific services? (Two distinctly different approaches!) Or are they making those decisions on the golf course? Do they read specific trade journals or attend business to business shows and exhibitions? Find that out, then find a way to regularly get in front of them.

The returns compared with traditional marketing

Any marketing you do – whether online or otherwise must fit in with an overall strategy. They cannot be adhoc events or activities that get done on a whim and without proper forethought and planning. Remember too, that not all methods work for everyone. You have to test it and measure it. If it works, do more of the same. If it doesn’t work, or doesn’t work well enough, change tactics.

For example: Just because you’ve always had an advert in the Yellow Pages doesn’t mean you should just keep on renewing it. Do you know how much business you actually get because of that advert?

The same principle applies to your weekly networking breakfast; your brochures; your website; etc. Don’t blindly keep doing something just because you think you should, or because you think that ‘doing something is better than doing nothing.’

Getting to know your contacts better

Well done for creating an online profile and getting active in making connections! (For some top tips on creating and maintaining your profile, see my article Revamp Your Online Presence in Four Easy Steps.) It is important that your connections have substance and that you can add value to each others’ networks.

What is the point of hundreds of connections that are just there to boost your numbers, but you know nothing about each other and never interact? It would be just as ludicrous to collect hundreds of business cards at face-to-face events and stuff them into an overflowing business card folder that never gets opened again, other than to add more cards!

Your approach to connecting with fellow members of professional societies you belong to and people who live in the same town as you is a good place to start. May I suggest you take the initiative in arranging a meet-up to build those connections into REAL relationships. Perhaps something like meeting for a drink after work – invite all thirty connections and see who turns up. Not only will you benefit from getting to know them better, but they will benefit from meeting each other too. (By the way: This suggestion works equally well if applied to that over-stuffed business card holder too!)

Thank you for your question,

 

Other readers with questions are invited to submit them here and we’ll do our best to answer them in an upcoming issue.

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December 22, 2008

How do you give gifts, thanks, and appreciation?

thanksColleen Francis of Engage Selling Solutions recently wrote about the pros and cons of various popular gift-giving options. For example:

  •  Having your business logo splashed all over your gifts and cards (Good / Bad / Ugly?);
  • Virtual vs Tangible; and
  • Charitable donations on behalf of others

I thoroughly appreciated the points she raised and the suggestions she shared, so if you’d like to read her post please follow this link.

Please come back and share your thoughts!

November 25, 2008

“But I’ve Always Done it That Way!”

Why is The Queue Out The Door?I was driving home during rush hour this afternoon and stopped at the petrol station to buy something to quench my thirst. I stood in a queue for six minutes just to pay for a coke, while everyone ahead of me (without exception) was paying by card for their petrol.

What’s unusual about that?

I was at Morrison’s in Basingstoke which is a “pay at the pump” filling station! So why on Earth was everyone ahead of me queuing up to pay at the cashier when that could have been done in a flash right at the pump?

I asked the cashier if it was usual for so many to avoid the much smarter alternative, and she said that people only tend to pay at the pump after hours when no one is working in the shop.

How crazy is that?

We should all be looking for opportunities to make our lives easier, and not just do something because we’ve always done it that way. This is an especially important lesson to apply to our businesses.

Please take the next few minutes to jot down five things you do just because you always have. Then look for ways to be smarter!

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