If You Won’t, Why Would They? A Precautionary Note for Leadership

With marketing practices changing so dramatically over the past decade, it’s become increasingly clear that if your organization isn’t able to keep up, you’ll get left in the dust by companies who are rolling with the tide of new online marketing tools. If you look around the organization and feel frustrated by a lack of clear improvement, it’s time to review your own involvement. 

Many companies are still working under the impression that the job of marketing and communications belongs solely to the marketing department. But they’re grossly mistaken. Marketing is there to roll out initiatives, look for new ways of engaging prospects and customers, help maintain relationships with existing customers, and help communicate messageacross platforms.   

But as social media has taken a front seat in the world of marketing, it has becomincreasingly important for both the sales department and leadership to get involved in the communication as wellAnd being honest, not everyone loves this new direction. There are plenty of challenges that come along with establishing new behaviors 

You might be having trouble getting your sales team to participate on social media by liking, commenting, and sharing content your marketing team is rolling out. Or you could be trying to implement a new CRM that requires your sales team to input data on their contacts, but running into resistance from the team.  

If any of these scenarios sound familiar, you need to ask yourself if you, as a leader, are part of the problem.  

If you won’t do it, why would they? 

You’ve got a lot on your plate, and, if you’re being honest, sharing content on social media may not feel as though it should be a priority for you. Why take precious time out of your day to do what you see as the job of marketing 

Because it matters to your clients, prospects, and team members. That’s why it should be a priority. 

The frustrating truth is that just giving the go-ahead to new initiatives isn’t enough. If you want to see your sales team get on board and start engaging on social media, or correctly using a new CRM, but you aren’t taking the time to do so yourself, you’re setting everyone up for failure.  

Proving value 

When people are comfortable with a system they’ve been using for a long time, it’s difficult to get them to change their practices. They have to see it as a valued priority in the organization and your actions dictate what your team prioritizes. If they don’t see you actively prioritizing the implementation of change, they won’t believe it matters.  

By participating, and leading it, you are showing that you believe in the value of the initiative. If it’s important enough for you, it becomes important enough for them.  

Accountability  

Take accountability for your impact on the success of new initiatives. Hold yourself and your team accountable for their participation. Just saying, “That sounds great! Let’s review progress in a month” isn’t good enough. To help your team stay on track and hold them accountable you can: 

  • Set clear expectations around how and when they participate  
  • Acknowledge team members when they successfully participate in initiatives   
  • Establish consequences for those who fail to meet the expectations 
  • DO IT YOURSELF 

Holding your team accountable can be uncomfortable—especially when they fail to meet your expectations. But this is part of proving the value of the work and motivating everyone to get onboard.  

Commitment  

Your marketing team can come up with as many great ideas and new initiatives as they want, but if leadership isn’t committed to putting in the effort to contribute, then the initiative won’t be able to succeed. 

Showing the team that you are completely committed to the change will push them to accept thatyes, it is really happening, and help them to get onboard quicker and with less groaning. If you want to see your team running with a new initiative, then stop dragging your own feet and get in the race yourself. 

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners
Photo by
denisfilm

 

Getting Online Reviews: How It’s Done

Online reviews – we all check them out, whether it’s for a restaurant, a new car purchase, or a medical professional. We know how valuable they are when we read them. But are you taking the time to cultivate that type of experience for your customers? Creating that advantage for your business? 

More reviews mean better SEO, more social credibility, and more usable data for your company to source. But how do companies get reviews? Making a one-time push for reviews is common. Brick and mortar retail stores and restaurants will solicit reviews after a grand opening or event. Online companies will get reviews after rolling out a new product or service 

Having current customer reviews makes a huge difference as most people consider reviews that are a few months old irrelevant. So what are ways your company can keep the reviews rolling in consistently?  

Just ask 

A great way to get customers to leave reviews is by directly asking them. The challenge here is doing so in the right way, at the right time. Here are some ideas.  

  • Set up an automated email asking for a customer review. Schedule it to go out a week or so after a customer has made a purchase. Make sure you give them enough time to receive and use the product before scheduling the email to send. 
  • A social media campaign is a great way to get people to engage with and review your company. You can roll out a marketing initiative that asks people to follow your account and leave a review in return for a coupon code, gift card, or other opportunity. 
  • Send out a social media post asking for loyal customers to give back. This can be done in a friendly, personal tone that encourages people who care about your company to come forward and show their support. Be sure to express your gratitude and make it cheerful—you don’t want to appear desperate! 
  • Asking onetoone is also a great way to get reviews. Consider setting up a wrap-up meeting after completing a project for a client. Use this time to ask them about their experience, make sure they have everything they need, and request a review from them. This is a great practice when your business offers services that require in-person or video meetings. People respond well to being asked personally—happy customers want to give back! 

Make it easy 

Optimize the pathways your customers can take to leave reviews by creating multiple avenues for them to do so. The easier it is to leave a review, the more likely people are to take the time to leave you one. You can do this by: 

  • Creating easy, direct routes from your website to pages like Facebook, Yelp, and Google Review by adding badges to your menu bar and footer 
  • Making sure you add a link asking for a review to your email signature 
  • Adding a link for reviews to your product pages and conformation emails 

What NOT to do  

An important rule to getting reviews: Never pay anyone for a positive review. It is not only illegal but can be very obvious to anyone reading them. When customers come across fake reviews they immediately lose trust in the company. If your company is getting fake positive reviews, it will backfire and undermine the social credibility and legitimacy of your company. 

Ready for takeoff! 

Make sure you keep your eyes out for new ways of engaging customers and bringing in reviews. The internet is constantly changing and staying on top of current trends is critical to maintaining relevance. Any way you look at it, reviews are going to help your company get visibility, credibility, and informative, usable data.  

Talk with your team, create a plan for asking for reviews, and then stick with it! Consistent reviews can give your business the social proof you need for a boost in both SEO and credibility. And unlike so many other activities, it doesn’t require a line in your budget! 

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by: melpomen

3 Reasons Why Your Company Needs Online Reviews

In thage of social media and free access to information, consumers have more power over their buying decisions than ever before. Not only do they have a vast number of similar products to choose from, but they have the ability to gauge the experiences of past customers, research specific products, and compare everything they find with competitors. Often reviews are the first interaction someone has with a companyeven before they check the website.  

People tend to trust each other more than they trust the business they are researching. Imagine you went to research a company before purchasing from it and you found that Google Reviews awarded the company two-star average. Would you still decide to buy from that company? Probably not.   

1. The legitimacy factor 

Most people trust online reviews the as much as they would personal recommendations. Taking this, and the fact that the majority of people check online reviews, into account, you’d be crazy not to see the value in getting online reviews for your own company  

People want reassurance that the product they are about to buy is, in fact, worth their money. If your company doesn’t have any online reviews, you lose legitimacy in the face of competitors who do. The lack of reviews makes your company seem small and unreliable because no one has backed you up or taken the time to say anything about you. By garnering reviews, you gain social credibility and perceived legitimacy and increase the likelihood by 68% that customers will buy from you. 

2. Boost your SEO: More mentions, more traffic, better visibility  

Google favors sites with more mentions and links. When a customer reviews a company, Google picks that up as a legitimate transaction, recognizes that your business isin fact real, and boosts your visibility.  

Reviews also widen the amount of material Google has to read and associate with your business. This means that the more you get reviewed, the more Google will be able to associate new keywords and content with your business, which increases the likeliness that your company will appear in related searches.  

The bottom line here is that the more you get mentioned on the internet and the more your company interacts, the more likely you are to show up in a search and the more visibility you have.  

3. Opportunities for growth 

Tracking the way people are talking about your company online is a great tool for other things as well. By keeping up to date on your company’s reviews, you can:  

  • Gain a better understanding of your company’s online reputation and use this information to inform your marketing campaigns. 
  • Discover trends in customer experiences and identify areas of improvement. Do your customers regularly complain of bad packaging or delayed email responses? This is a great resource for discovering where you can improve on your customer experience. 
  • Collect clear data on your customer experience and incorporate it in a scalable way to review how your business has improved over time. 
  • See areas where you already shine and use this as a way to encourage and recognize your team’s accomplishments.  
  • Reviews can also give job seeking employees a glimpse before they join your team. 

Reviews can be just as helpful to your company as they are to customers. It’s up to you to capitalize on this free access to important and informative data.  

Replying to reviews is also an important part garnering customer trust, whether they’re positive or negative. Leaving responses to negative reviews can help temper a customer’s bad experience. It is also an opportunity to show readers how your business handles these situations. You can use this to show that you are respectful and care about your customers—even if they had a bad experience with you.  

It’s a big job, but you’re not alone! 

Reviews can come from many different sources such as Yelp, Google Reviews, Facebook and Amazon, to name just a few. Tracking and maintaining online reviews can be a big, time intensive task. Luckily there are great reputation management systems where you can keep track of all your reviews in one place. You don’t have to do it by yourself! 

Whether you are just starting or are already established, reviews can make all the difference when it comes to meeting this year’s revenue goal. Remember, reviews aren’t just for your customers, they are there for you too!  

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by 

Keeping Your Marketing Efforts on Track

Is your marketing based on a detailed, well-thought-out strategy and plan? Or are your efforts simply a compilation of random marketing activities you think you should be doing?

Random activities will keep you busy for sure, but will they keep you focused and get you where you need to go? Or will they just result in frustration and abandonment?

If you want your marketing to be more than just a bunch of tasks on a list, you’ll want to take the time to evaluate what you’re doing. And more importantly, why you’re doing it.

Not sure where to start? Make a list of everything that falls into your marketing bucket, and then ask yourself these key questions for each one:

1.) Does this activity align with our brand? 

It’s easy to think that any marketing activity will be good for your brand. But there’s a big difference between brand recognition and brand strength. Just because people know your name doesn’t mean they want to be associated with it.

Some businesses instinctively say “Yes!” to every brand opportunity that comes along, without thinking about whether or not it aligns with their core company values and goals. Sponsoring an event? Partnering with another organization? Considering product placement? It’s critical to evaluate whether or not these things make sense, not just from a monetary and/or exposure perspective, but from value alignment and PR perspectives as well.

Before you do any marketing or sales activity, ask yourself the question, “Does this portray what we want to say about our organizational brand and identity?” If the answer is yes, consider this question again from your target market’s point of view: “Will our key customer demographic feel good about this? Is it consistent with our mission, our image, and our why?”

If the answer to either of these questions is no, strike the activity from your list. And do it completely guilt free. Your time and resources can be put to better use elsewhere.

If you feel good about the opportunity and the value alignment, then by all means, participate. But always assess the activity and the results after the fact to see if it lived up to your expectations and purpose.

2.) Does this activity inspire client engagement and loyalty? 

It’s easier to keep a happy customer than to win over a new one. Client loyalty and engagement not only helps you hang onto your biggest fans, they can also lead to genuine, heartfelt referrals. Which leads to more happy customers!

Keep this question in mind when considering any marketing task or activity. Yes, marketing can bring you new leads and customers, but putting the majority of your focus on future clients at the expense of your current clients is a huge missed opportunity.

A single happy customer who consistently sings your praises and recommends you can be much more valuable than a giant pile of cold leads.

3.) Why are we doing this?

It’s easy to get caught up in a set of marketing activities you feel you should do. Some marketing guru says you HAVE to be on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. But do you? It all depends on what you are looking to accomplish.

When it comes to marketing, one size does not fit all. To be effective, you’ll want to center your marketing goals, strategies, and activities around your business model, your ideal customer profile, and your specific objectives. Are you looking to create brand awareness? Generate leads? Build credibility in your industry? Expand your feel-good factor? Depending on who you are as a business and where your customers are, Instagram may or may not make sense.

You can waste a lot of time and resources listening to every marketing recommendation that comes your way. Even more so if you attempt to implement them all.

Before you jump into the next big marketing idea, pause. Back up. Take some time to think about what you want for your marketing, your brand, and your client experience. Then ease back in, choosing your activities carefully and strategically based on those things.

4.) Can we do this?

Coming up with a solid marketing plan is one thing. But implementing it is another. As you are evaluating your choices, you’ll need to consider these key components as well:

  • Brand identity – Are you clear on this? Choosing a clear marketing strategy without a defined brand is nearly impossible.
  • Staff and resources – Do you have the budget and capacity to take on the marketing activities you’ve chosen?
  • Internal processes – Do you have the team and systems you need to follow up with new leads, take on new clients/orders/requests and provide a great customer experience?
  • Accountability and results – Are you choosing activities and/or metrics that can be tracked and quantified? If not, how will you know if your work is paying off?

Once you’ve defined who you are, what you want to accomplish, and whether or not you have the necessary tools, people, and resources to make it happen, you can put together a marketing strategy that doesn’t just keep you busy, but keeps you on the forefront of your clients’ minds. And keeps your organization moving in the right direction.

 

Photo by David Carillet 

Keeping Your Marketing Efforts on Track

Is your marketing based on a detailed, well-thought-out strategy and plan? Or are your efforts simply a compilation of random marketing activities you think you should be doing?

Random activities will keep you busy for sure, but will they keep you focused and get you where you need to go? Or will they just result in frustration and abandonment?

If you want your marketing to be more than just a bunch of tasks on a list, you’ll want to take the time to evaluate what you’re doing. And more importantly, why you’re doing it.

Not sure where to start? Make a list of everything that falls into your marketing bucket, and then ask yourself these key questions for each one:

1.) Does this activity align with our brand? 

It’s easy to think that any marketing activity will be good for your brand. But there’s a big difference between brand recognition and brand strength. Just because people know your name doesn’t mean they want to be associated with it.

Some businesses instinctively say “Yes!” to every brand opportunity that comes along, without thinking about whether or not it aligns with their core company values and goals. Sponsoring an event? Partnering with another organization? Considering product placement? It’s critical to evaluate whether or not these things make sense, not just from a monetary and/or exposure perspective, but from value alignment and PR perspectives as well.

Before you do any marketing or sales activity, ask yourself the question, “Does this portray what we want to say about our organizational brand and identity?” If the answer is yes, consider this question again from your target market’s point of view: “Will our key customer demographic feel good about this? Is it consistent with our mission, our image, and our why?”

If the answer to either of these questions is no, strike the activity from your list. And do it completely guilt free. Your time and resources can be put to better use elsewhere.

If you feel good about the opportunity and the value alignment, then by all means, participate. But always assess the activity and the results after the fact to see if it lived up to your expectations and purpose.

2.) Does this activity inspire client engagement and loyalty? 

It’s easier to keep a happy customer than to win over a new one. Client loyalty and engagement not only helps you hang onto your biggest fans, they can also lead to genuine, heartfelt referrals. Which leads to more happy customers!

Keep this question in mind when considering any marketing task or activity. Yes, marketing can bring you new leads and customers, but putting the majority of your focus on future clients at the expense of your current clients is a huge missed opportunity.

A single happy customer who consistently sings your praises and recommends you can be much more valuable than a giant pile of cold leads.

3.) Why are we doing this?

It’s easy to get caught up in a set of marketing activities you feel you should do. Some marketing guru says you HAVE to be on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. But do you? It all depends on what you are looking to accomplish.

When it comes to marketing, one size does not fit all. To be effective, you’ll want to center your marketing goals, strategies, and activities around your business model, your ideal customer profile, and your specific objectives. Are you looking to create brand awareness? Generate leads? Build credibility in your industry? Expand your feel-good factor? Depending on who you are as a business and where your customers are, Instagram may or may not make sense.

You can waste a lot of time and resources listening to every marketing recommendation that comes your way. Even more so if you attempt to implement them all.

Before you jump into the next big marketing idea, pause. Back up. Take some time to think about what you want for your marketing, your brand, and your client experience. Then ease back in, choosing your activities carefully and strategically based on those things.

4.) Can we do this?

Coming up with a solid marketing plan is one thing. But implementing it is another. As you are evaluating your choices, you’ll need to consider these key components as well:

  • Brand identity – Are you clear on this? Choosing a clear marketing strategy without a defined brand is nearly impossible.
  • Staff and resources – Do you have the budget and capacity to take on the marketing activities you’ve chosen?
  • Internal processes – Do you have the team and systems you need to follow up with new leads, take on new clients/orders/requests and provide a great customer experience?
  • Accountability and results – Are you choosing activities and/or metrics that can be tracked and quantified? If not, how will you know if your work is paying off?

Once you’ve defined who you are, what you want to accomplish, and whether or not you have the necessary tools, people, and resources to make it happen, you can put together a marketing strategy that doesn’t just keep you busy, but keeps you on the forefront of your clients’ minds. And keeps your organization moving in the right direction.

 

Photo by David Carillet