Persuasive Picks for the week of 07/26/10

5 Reasons Why Ford Continues to Kick Butt
Ford created a good amount of social buzz this week with the unveiling of their all new 2011 Explorer. This Clickz.com post from Liana Evans provides insight that brands can learn from on why Ford continues to succeed in the social space.

Forrester Recommends Caution with LBS
Mike Schneider challenges Forrester‘s stance on Location Based Services they published in a recent report, and he provides an alternate point of view that should definitely be considered.

B-Schools All A-Twitter Over Social Media
Brace youself for a new wave of Social Media experts. This Bloomberg Business post from Sommer Saadi explores the new trend where business schools are starting to offer MBA courses on Internet Marketing and Social Media Strategy.

Altimeter Report Provides Facebook Page Guidelines, Benchmarks
Dave Fleet provides a brief overview and commentary on the Altimeter Group’s free report entitled The 8 Success Criteria for Facebook Page Marketing.

To Block or Not to Block Facebook and Social Media in the Workplace
Klint Finley shares highlights from Cisco’s Mid-Year Security Report that recommends “better security education and social media policies in the work place instead of technical restrictions” based on its findings on end-users accessing social media tools at work.

Persuasive Picks for the week of 07/19/10

Avoid the #1 Mistake People Make in Media
Valeria Maltoni expands on the importance of “comments” and provides 7 types of memorable comments to keep you on the top of your game.

Is Facebook Headed For Trouble?
Informationweek contributing writer Michele Pepe-Warren shares the results of the 2010 American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) E-Business report that reveals Facebook might be the most used, but its definitely not the most loved.

Study: Social Media Marketing Reduces Reputation Crisis Costs by 33%
The past year has shown numerous brands making the wrong decision when it comes to the use social media for crisis management. This post from Andy Beal shares data from a new Forrester report that shows properly structured social marketing initiatives can save money in addition to reputation.

3 Simple Strategies For Your Social Tactics
This post from Samir Soriano on B2C Marketing Insider shares three tips to help provide more value to your customers when executing your finely crafted social strategy.

Old Spice guy and his viral media coup are social media game-changers
This week’s picks couldn’t end without a nod to the ever popular Old Spice Social Media Campaign. There are numerous posts covering their efforts, but this one from Rob Dickens on Memeburn.com does a really nice job of chronicling the brand’s efforts stemming back to the 70’s.

BDI’s Social Convergence & The Enterprise – Advice, Insights & Lessons Learned from Jet Blue, Unilever, Century 21 and more. What’s Your Best Social Advice?

On Wednesday we attended and moderated two round tables at the Business Development Institute (BDI)’s Social Convergence & The Enterprise event in New York City. I was happy to attend an event with the not-so-usual suspects – fresh networking and opportunities to expand our community are always exciting.

The speakers at the 1/2 day conference ranged from companies such as Harvard to Jet Blue, Unilever to Century 21. Attendees held positions in HR, marketing, business development and other areas of business. I have to say that, having attended a lot of networking and social media events over the last few years, the topics can grow tired. The presentations can all begin to look the same – even infamous Tweets, photos and charts are often reused. But, for the most part, this event was a fresh take on a much-discussed subject: social media in business. I would definitely attend again and encourage others to check out BDI’s events.

The format was three hours of case studies followed by two sessions of round tables where attendees sat down with moderators and discussed pre-determined subjects. I found this of interest because often the attendees have interesting insights and lessons learned to share as well, and typical conference formats don’t usually provide the opportunity for an extended, interactive discussion between panelists and audience. Allowing a few questions from the audience is much different that sitting down with each other after the presentations and really digging into the topics. And, asking the presenters for case studies is a good way to ensure they’re sharing insights and lessons learned – not just observations and opinion like so many of today’s speakers on social media.

Some of my favorite tidbits from panelists included:

- How Jet Blue opened up its communications – and rebuilt its brand – after a crisis in 2007. Speaker Jenny Dervin shared interesting insights into their culture (“we all help clean the planes”) and how they handled customer communications more proactively thereafter – despite knowing it would frustrate in the short run but build loyalty in the long run. Strategies included a video message to crew members and customers from the CEO, as well as a letter to every customer who had ever flown Jet Blue – all in the name of “We’re sorry… please give us another chance.”

 

- “You cannot be successful in social unless you involve the whole organization – let employees engage in social media” – from Paul Hernacki of Definition6. He advises that the entire company needs to be on board for success.  He asks, “Are your employees fans of your brand?” And suggests, “Eat your own dog food – social and the digital lifestyle needs to be part of your company DNA.” He also implores CIO’s to help make it happen by stop blocking of social sites and blogs. “You’re not solving the problem by blocking.”

- “We don’t own our brands anymore, consumers do.” Stacie Bright of Unilever talked about how to handle this new Wild West frontier of social media. “There are good conversations and brand conversations – but we can choose to be a part of those conversations.” Amen. Ignoring the conversations and not making social media part of your business is like my 5-year-old putting a towel over his head and telling me I can’t see him. We also found ourselves nodding in agreement when she said “Have a calendar [for social media initiatives] – anyone can be a one-hit wonder.”

- Consumers want engagement, so humanize your brand – let your employees have real conversations with your customers (what a concept!). From Matt Gentile, Director of PR and social media content strategy for  CENTURY 21. Another great thought from Matt – and one that we have always used with PR campaigns: “‘Measure for success and then adjust for optimization.”

After panels, I moderated a round table called “The Rule in Social Media is that There are No Rules.” Of course, this isn’t completely true – as Doug Chavez, who leads digital marketing for Del Monte, recently told me: “I believe thereare rules. First is that a brand has to listen, second is to engage when appropriate and [value] additive to the conversation, third is that brands need to always be transparent and authentic.” Ok, so he’s right, there are some rules, but the genesis of the “no rules” sentiment is that some companies get too caught up in the rules – instead of thinking about what’s right for their company, they try to find a pre-written playbook or follow only the basics (I don’t know what we’ll do but we must be on: Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook). They fail to create a strategy based around their business goals and often forget that social media is still so new – that while there may be guidelines, the results are still largely unproven. And thus, any “rules” could change tomorrow – or change today if you’re the company willing to take that risk (an example: Ben & Jerry’s abandoning email marketing in favor of just using social media. Will it work out for them in the long run? We’ll have to wait and see).

If you’d like to listen to the panelists and their full presentations, you may do so at BlogTalkRadio.

If you’d like to hear what some of the attendees and online followers have to say about social media, visit our Sweet Marketing Advice site, created to capture advice not only from the attendees of the BDI show, but of our network as well. We wanted to share our offline experiences today with our online community as well. And, as a thank you to those who took the time to share their best tips, we created a voting mechanism for the community to choose the “Sweetest Advice” – the author of the advice that the community votes as the best by 5 p.m. Friday, July 23, wins an iPad. So please visit the site to not only learn some great tips, but to vote on your favorite. You can submit your own advice too, if you’re so inclined, and see what the community thinks of your expertise.

As an aside, we listen to our community and some of the early feedback on our Sweet Advice Contest is that it was just another Twitter popularity contest. That was disheartening to hear but we re-evaluated our contest rules and text after this feedback. Let me be clear that the intent was to open up the experience for those not in attendance, to capture a variety of “best tips” to share with all of you, and to learn not only from the panelists and speakers, but from the attendees themselves. We thought it would be fun – but also useful – to have both the BDI attendees and our online community share their best social media convergence and marketing ideas, and to have the community vote on which advice was best. We changed the auto-tweet button on the site to share each tip as part of the Tweets – in an effort to make the Tweets more valuable.

Of course, entrants are also inclined – and yes, encouraged – to ask their community to vote for them if they like the advice, and they may choose to write what they want in order to get them to do so – but our intent was to entice people to give advice, aggregate it in one spot, ask the community to vote on the best advice and offer an iPad as both an incentive and a thank you for sharing. The advice voted the best – highest number of votes by Friday at 5 EST – will win an iPad from us, and the community benefits from an aggregated spot of great social media and marketing advice. Enjoy.

Special thanks to BDI and Steve Etzler for the wonderful conference and the opportunity to participate. We learned a lot and met some really great people. Great job on the conference.

 

It’s All About the Details

Details have been on my mind lately – you know, the nuances in life that make life, well – interesting. I thought this topic would be a personal blog post, because the details that have stood out to me recently have been pretty personal. One of our three dogs passed away recently – a sad first for our family – and while the event itself was huge, it’s the little things that stand out the most in regards to his absence. The way my youngest son still pushes his plate back from the edge of the table because the dog used to steal his food, the empty chair in our bedroom where we’d find him every morning, the fact that I can put bird seed in my bird feeders again and not have to worry that the dog will eat it. These and many other little details are what remind me every day of the bigger loss.

So how does this post end up here, on our agency’s blog? Because it has occurred to me that it’s the details that matter in business, too. The big events are certainly the most memorable – winning new clients, watching the first sale come through, unveiling your new brand or opening a new store. But it’s the little details in between all these larger situations that really matter – and the little details that help you not only to keep your business up and running, but to beat the competition.

Are you thinking about the little details? Once you win a customer or a client, are you welcoming them and thanking them for their business? Does your website make an interaction with your company pleasant and easy, or are you making prospects work too hard to become a customer? Can they easily find what they are looking for? Do you have a waiting room that’s comfortable or stark? Do you think about simple yet “nice touches” that would make a prospect want to do business with you over a similar competitor?

Once you win a customer or a client, are you communicating with them regularly – but not more than they want? Do you know how your customers prefer to be contacted and how often? Have you asked? When you’re following up with a prospect, do you make them feel personally wanted as a customer? Just this week, a company followed up with me based on an interaction at a trade show (good) but I was turned off by the method (bad) of follow up and it made me not want to do business with them. I understand that companies need to maximize time – that sales leads have to be captured and plopped into databases (we’ve worked with enough sales and marketing software clients – Landslide, Salesnet, RightNow, Genius, etc. – to understand how it works and why). And maybe I’m naive, or expecting too much – but as technology gets better, it seems to me it could also help companies to at least appear to be more personable in sales. When I receive a sales email that’s claiming to understand my business, and want my business, but is clearly a generated “next step” email from a sales automation software solution, I feel insulted – not really wanted as a customer. When they use my login name as the lead – which appears as “christine” because I rarely capitalize when I’m signing up for something online – it’s obvious. It’s a little, tiny detail, right? But to me – it’s a detail that turned me off from doing business with this company. A little detail that turned into a lost sale.

On the flip side, we’ve got a client who – even as they’ve grown from startup to public company – calls each prospect when they trial a product. I remember the first time I tried Constant Contact – the call startled me – it literally happened within minutes of me entering my information online. I didn’t need help but you know what? Knowing that if I did – especially in this day and age of electronic communication – I could get a human on the phone, was a nice touch. It stood out – the call was brief, to the point and not intrusive. I was impressed – and that was before they were a client.

An experience that falls somewhere in between these two is a recent interaction with our bank. They recently upgraded some services for us and assigned a personal Account Manager (great!). He emailed and called me to introduce himself, which was good, but the little details that were missing, some that I felt could have made me a happier customer (and not feeling like a call was wasting my time), were some suggestions or thoughtful interaction. The introduction, in my opinion, could have included something more along the lines of, “We noticed you often do this, and we think this change will make your life easier – do you want to learn more?” It didn’t need to be anything complicated, but just something that showed a personal touch about my business and my banking habits that demonstrate you care about me specifically as a customer.

In PR, one of the biggest complaints reporters have always had is that they receive off-topic, automated emails from PR executives. PR teams do this – using software to automate email blasts – because time is money in our business, literally. Not only can you move faster and thus work on more clients and charge more hours, but the more pitches you get out, the longer a “We Pitched” list you can give to a client, right? Well, I guess that may be true – but the little details, taking the time to pitch a reporter with a custom email or call, mentioning personal details that remind them you know them or you at least know their work and read what they write – are more likely to yield big results. Would a client rather have a long list of “We pitched 100 reporters” – but no coverage results – or a shorter list of “We pitched 10 key publications and here’s the result – 10 quality feature articles”? I’m guessing the latter.

So take time to think about the details today. Whether it’s how you sell, how you service or how you build your business – branding, HR, promotion, etc. – caring about the little details can make a big difference.

How do you incorporate the little details in your daily business?

Doreyne Douglas – SMB Executive, Mom & VP at PlanetMagpie – Shares Insights on Tech, Design and Advice for Entrepreneurs

PlanetMagpie is a technology and design partner of PerkettPR. They specialize in delivering IT Consulting, Web Design, App Development, Web Marketing, Hosting and Comprehensive Network Support.

Where did the name PlanetMagpie come from?

Our dog Magpie, a black lab, was the company’s mascot. She embodied all the traits we believe any good business should have.  She was fun, smart, a great friend, incredibly loyal and worked really hard to please us. That’s what a true partner should be.

What do you like about living and working in the Bay Area?

I love that there are a million things to do here – plus the lack of mosquitoes and cold weather!

How did you get into tech?

My husband Robert incorporated PlanetMagpie in 1998. Five years ago the business had grown to a size where he needed additional support in marketing so he recruited me to help out. Prior to that, I was in legal marketing and recruiting for 15 years, most recently with the second largest law firm in California; Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, probably best known for representing President Bush in Bush v. Gore.

What are three things small business owners and entrepreneurs should be sure to have in place when launching a new company?

1)      A solid IT infrastructure that can grow with them

2)      An identity and brand that inspires employees, customers and partners

3)      A customized, professional website that captures who they are; custom sites are not that much more expensive than template sites and are worth the investment.

What sticks out to you like a sore thumb when you see a badly designed website?

1)      The site is disorganized and all over the place

2)      There isn’t a clear message of who they are and what they do. That is particularly frustrating to a marketer because what they don’t realize is people will leave immediately if they can’t get a feel for what you can offer them.

What are some of the pitfalls or security risks businesses should be aware of when setting up their IT infrastructure?

Be sure to consult with an expert. Just because Microsoft (or any vendor) says a certain software or system will suffice for your business “up to 50 people,” doesn’t mean it will perform equally fast whether you have 1 or 50 people using it.  We see systems meant for 50 slowing down at 20, and that can hurt your productivity.  Build your systems based on your planned growth and be sure they fit your needs for the foreseeable future.  Consulting with someone who has built/used/implemented these systems in the past is your best bet for ensuring you are set up for success.

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs starting their own business today?

After “Don’t do it?” :)

I think the most important thing to remember is what starts twisted will stay twisted. If you don’t have a vision and a plan in place to execute on that vision in an organized way you won’t succeed. Ask yourself, “What is the right way to do this?” – then plan it out from there. A lot of entrepreneurs will just take it as it comes and roll with the punches but they need to develop a plan first.

Secondly, I would say find the right employees and partners. No one gets there alone, and you need to have good people you can trust, that are reliable and loyal to move your business forward. Once you find those people hang on to them. They are the ones that will help you protect your company.

As a working mom and business executive/owner what do you find gets lost in the shuffle most?

Working on our house, which we love to do.  When the economy started taking a turn, we had to abandon our house renovation project mid-stream and devote all our attention to the company.  That was about 2-1/2 years ago.  When we start working on our house again, that will be proof positive to me that the recession is behind us.

What is your favorite tech gadget and why?

If I could only have one tech toy for work, it would be Microsoft Office Communications Server.  The “presence” and “IM” features of OCS are indispensable. My web development team’s collaboration and work efficiency went way up after we implemented those tools.  We can’t work without them anymore.

What inspires you to work as hard as you do?

I guess it’s the midfielder in me.  I don’t stop running until the referee blows his whistle … and that’s usually around 1 a.m.!  But seriously, I do it for Robert and the kids.  For Robert, because I’ve never met a harder working person more deserving of success.  For our kids, because I want to be able to leave them something tangible when we’re gone, to make their lives a little easier and to make sure they have a common place to gather and call home.

What are your favorite blogs?

I like Women on Business, The Business Insider (Silicon Alley Insider), and ReadWriteWeb.  I’m still trying to find a favorite blog on web design/development.

What would you be doing if you weren’t in tech?

If I could do it all over again, I would be a professional soccer player. I play on three soccer teams and absolutely love it.

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If you are interested in learning more about PlanetMagpie’s services visit PlanetMagpie or contact Doreyne directly at: doreyne [dot] douglas [at] planetmagpie [dot com]