Persuasive Picks for the week of 07/27/11

Steering WheelInfluencers
Chris Brogan dives into the true definition of an Influencer – and no, it has nothing to do with your Klout score or the price of your Empire Avenue stock. Be sure to read through the comments for even more points of view.

8 Ways to Maximize Your YouTube Marketing Results
Rick Brooks from Flyte New Media shares 8 great tips for getting the most out of your video production and distribution efforts when posting to Youtube. Each tip is packed full of great information that even seasoned YouTuber’s can benefit from.

Could Social Media Flub Cost You $4.3 Million?
David F. Carr highlights some jaw-dropping dollar figures from a recent Applied Research survey (sponsored by Symantec) that revealed potentially negative and more costly consequences of bringing your brand to the social space.

Number of Corporate Social Media Accounts On Rise: Risk of “Social Media Help Desk”
Altimeter‘s Jeremiah Owyang shares some interesting stats on the number of social media accounts that larger brands are maintaining, along with some helpful advice for Social Media Strategists to help prevent their roles from turning into “the ever reactive sanitation role of social media helpdesk.”

15 Google+ Sites & Services for Power Users
As companies sit and patiently wait for the launch of Google+ features for brands, active users of the service with their personal accounts might like Amy-May Elliot‘s list of Google+-related websites and services compiled in this post on Mashable.

When Is Your Product Ready to Launch?

Space Shuttle LaunchMany of our clients are passionate entrepreneurs and CEOs with brilliant ideas and products. Our role (or process for?) in bringing products to market begins as soon as we engage with a prospect. Below are five of the typical questions we ask each of our clients before we set a launch date and begin planning. If you are thinking of launching in the near term, ask yourself these questions to ensure you are fully prepared, before you make the investment in a launch and open the flood gates on PR activities:

  1. What is the value you offer to customers/users that no one else can provide?
    When launching any product the media and influencers covering the market will want to know what makes you unique. Be sure to do your market research and have at least 2-3 differentiators you can point to that set you apart from the competition.
  2. Who are your competitors? (Note: everyone has them)
    Competition comes in many forms. Direct competitors like Microsoft and Apple are to each other for example, and indirect competitors that are in a position to capture your market. These may be smaller players entering the space, with similar products, or larger players like Google that have a potential to erode your market share with a future offering currently in development. Reporters will ask and if you don’t have competitors in mind, they will find them for you. Be sure to know your position in the market and defend it with your differentiators.
  3. Have you beta tested? What references/user benefits/highlights can you talk about?
    Reporters and influencers will be interested in hearing about your product from your company spokesperson, but they will want proof that your product serves a real customer need. Hearing actual use cases from your customers adds needed credibility and increases your chances for positive coverage. Be sure to build positive relationships with your customers and have 2-3 in your back pocket that you can offer to the media as needed.
  4. Do you have an articulate spokesperson?
    Media training is an essential component to ensuring your launch messages are heard and understood. Be sure your company executives are well trained and prepared for media interviews and can convincingly articulate key messages concisely, enthusiastically and consistently. If not, consider holding a messaging session to refine messages, followed by media training for your key spokesperson. This should take place well in advance of the launch date.
  5. Can you confidently demo the product to media?No matter how articulate your spokesperson is, if the product has bugs in it and isn’t ready for primetime, your media coverage will certainly suffer as a result. Be sure to build a solid demo, highlighting the strongest features of your product, well in advance of launching. If your product is difficult to demo in a short time frame, consider building a product video demo/or screencast that can be sent to media to insert into their posts or articles.

Were these tips helpful? Are there any other questions you would add to the list? We look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments below.

Image Credit: cosmobc

Persuasive Picks for the week of 07/18/11

EngagementsWhat is Engagement in Social Media?
Angela Hausman explores the definition of “engagement” via this post on SocialMediaToday. Be sure to read through the comment thread for additional definitions and view points from the SMT community.

What does Google+ mean for your social media policy?
Technologist David Reinhardt expands on the potential impact Google+ will have on the way we maintain personal and work relationships and the added complexity this new social platform could add to your organization’s social media policy.

How to Turn Customers Into Loyal, Raving Fans
Mike Michalowicz, author of “The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur” expands on the value and importance of under promising and over delivering when it comes to building the ultimate customer base, via this post on WSJ.com.

Is Social Media Experiencing the Search Engine Consolidation?
Fast Company expert blogger, JD Rucker, explores the idea of a future where social platforms begin to consolidate and morph into new sources of online search.

Email Metrics: Open, Click Rates Highest in the Morning
Gain some insight into becoming a better email marketer in this MarketingProfs post that shares key findings and great statistics from a recent MailerMailer report.

Brand Loyalty, Apologies, Best Buy and More

I like positive customer experiences, but who doesn’t? It’s nice when a brand or company understands you and your needs. It’s refreshing when that same brand or company takes it a step further and reaches out to you—engages you. Simply put—it makes you feel valuable. And with the advent of social media, it’s a no-brainer for brands and companies alike to use powerful social networking sites (ie: Facebook, Twitter, etc) to help build brand loyalty, create conversations, or increase transparency and authenticity. There are numerous other important reasons why the integration of social media is beneficial, but as Christine Perkett, CEO and Founder of PerkettPR, wrote back in 2009 (yes—2009, that’s just how on the forefront PerkettPR is and continues to be), it’s Beating a Dead Social Media Horse.

ZapposWhile some brands are smarter and more savvy than others (@Zappos and @VirginAmerica I’m talking to you), there are still some brands that don’t get it. Brands need to go beyond simply having a Facebook and Twitter account. This is obvious. In fact, brands need to go beyond the infamous social media catchphrase “engagement.” Talk with me, not at me. Engagement is crucial but once achieved, what’s next? Well, social networking has redefined the consumer—and has clearlycreated a new breed of brand advocates. Studies show that at least 40% of a brand’s consumers are advocates and Virgin America90% of consumers trust recommendations from advocates (Zuberance, 2011). Brands need to start turning their social consumers into their loyal brand advocates. It’s one of the most powerful ways a brand can stand out.

This now brings me to my recent consumer experience with Best Buy. Before this experience, I have to admit, my interactions with the retail giant were pleasant. Sure, no brand-consumer relationship can be entirely perfect, but it was nonetheless positive. In fact I considered myself as someone who usually liked and was loyal to shopping at Best Buy (I’ve bought a washer, dryer, and two televisions there). And after much research, thought, and consideration, my husband and I purchased a wall mount for our television from Best Buy.

Without being too long-winded, a quick recap of the events that followed

  • We bought the mount, brought it home, and then a couple of days later Geek Squad came to install it.
  • Upon installation, we were told we had purchased the wrong wall mount (the wall mount we were instructed to buy). We’d have to buy another, more expensive one. Lucky for us, Geek Squad has one on their truck.
  • During installation we were told we would need an electrician to put the electrical cord through the wall, which was the first we had heard of this throughout the process. Didn’t someone at the store tell you, you would need one? Nope.

Even at this point, I felt okay. Things happen. People get confused. It’s fine. We’d figure it out.

It wasn’t until I lugged the old wall mount back to the store to return it that I ran into some issues. There were some financing and coupon issues that made the return tricky. The customer service associate who was very nice made photo copies of my receipts, credit card, and took down my number saying his manager would call me back once it was all straightened out.

Great. Sounded good to me.

Best BuyI waited all day. No call. I followed up that night at 8:00 pm. I waited on hold for 15 minutes before I got a “live person” at the store. She transferred me to customer service where the phone rang, and then I was transferred back to the same person. She transferred me again. And then I was on hold. Again. At some point I hung up and called back. Got the same “live person.” She transferred me. Again. On hold. This cycle lasted for nearly two hours. I finally hung up and tried calling back. The store was closed.

Now I was frustrated. Not only did I waste cell phone minutes, but I wasted my night trying to follow up to see if the billing situation was taken care of. I wondered when it became okay to ignore customers? I tweeted my frustrations to @BestBuy and got a response from @Coral_BestBuy saying she hoped the store picked up and answered my questions. And then the following day, I got a tweet from the actual store @BestBuyDanvers blaming their phone systems, which I didn’t fully believe. Upon receiving this tweet, I called the store and spoke to the person who had tweeted to me from the store. I then had to re-explain the entire situation. He apologized. Said the “live person” I spoke to was new. And that they were understaffed. He said he would call me back in a half an hour with some answers.

In less than half an hour he called me back, said sorry, and put me on the phone with another customer service agent who then sorted out the situation. Issue resolved.

The whole experience left me feeling used and annoyed. A “sorry” just didn’t feel good enough. And when I finally did speak to that person from the store the next day, re-explaining the situation, I pointed out to the associate that up until the night before, I appreciated how nice everyone at Best Buy was to me.

Even when I had to return the wrong mount. Even when no one told me about needing to hire an electrician. Even when the sales associate couldn’t fully process my return. Even when no one called me back. Even when I waited on hold for almost two hours. Even after all the missing information and empty promises, I did appreciate the kindness of the gentleman who sold me the mount, the Geek Squad technicians, and the customer service associate who tried to do my return.

But to my surprise, the associate told me it didn’t matter how nice people were, because these events during this transaction should not have happened.

He was right—they should not have happened. Although I did appreciate Best Buy’s quick response to me on Twitter and “engaging” with me, I did tweet back saying I’d have to rethink other retail options for future purchases, to which I got a reply:

@BestBuyDanvers

It was yet another “sorry” which, I didn’t respond to because I was ready to move on.

But a couple hours later @Coral_BestBuy tweeted me—she wasn’t about to give up on me as quickly:

@Coral_BestBuy

I sent her my email. And we’ll just see what happens next.

I understand companies, large and small, are going to disappoint their consumers at times, but it’s how the company reacts to those failures which ultimately determines which consumers will stay loyal and which consumers will go.

So my fellow social consumers— I want to know about your negative retail experience and how a company successfully handled it?  How did they win you back? What did they do right? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

UPDATE:

@Coral_BestBuy called to follow up with me. She appreciated my tweets and blog post about my shopping experience. Coral asked me if she could use them to share and educate the Best Buy corporate team about how to handle future transactions and issues that may arise. I, of course, agreed because after all—the purpose of this outreach was to help Best Buy while alerting my fellow social consumers.

She then offered me a $75 Best Buy gift card which is a nice sentiment, considering it will force me to have to enter Best Buy again and make another purchase. Or maybe, just maybe– I will save myself the frustration and gift it to someone else.

Persuasive Picks for the week of 07/11/11

circle_c.jpgThe 5 Es of Content Marketing
ConversationAgent‘s Valeria Maltoni shares five inspirational tips to help writers take advantage of the “lazy days” of summer by pushing forward and gaining traction with their content creation and marketing efforts.

4 [Social Media] Failures and a Success
Sometimes the best way to learn is through your mistakes. This time around, IT blogger Peter Thomas share four of his own failures and the lessons he learned along the way. He caps off his SocialMediaToday.com post by sharing one of his personal successes as well.

How the U.S. Army is Using Social Media
ReadWriteWeb‘s Founder & Editor-in-Chief  shares this very interesting look into how the U.S. Army uses the web and various social platforms to share stories, interact with its online community and enhance recruiting efforts.

5 Reasons Google+ Is Not A Facebook Killer
Google+ has certainly been the focus this past week as millions of users rush through the flood gates to kick the tires on the new shiny social platform. However, not everyone is convinced that Google has come up with something that can be in it for the long haul. Dave Davies provides five reasons why in this post on SearchEngineWatch.com.

The Four Fundamentals of Social Media
Digital Media Consultant Dan Taylor shares a ton of great information and advice to businesses that might be trying to do everything all at once when it comes to their social media presence.

Image Credit: Leo Reynolds