I am obsessed with marketing. Every time I do business with a company I try and pick it apart and find what I would have done better or I take from it something that I thought was brilliant. This is a perfect way to grow. In this entry I want to share 5 things that I think some marketing departments, even for fortune 500 companies, forget to do. These are things that are very minor but can make the world of a difference, simple practices that will help to strengthen all aspects of your marketing. Here are 5 suggestions that I have compiled in recent weeks.
1 – Consider being placed on hold. If you are a client for the business you work for, you will most likely be put on hold or transferred. I cannot tell you how many businesses fail to take advantage of this perfect opportunity! Now, in a fantasy world a client ‘would never be placed on hold’ but in the real world it happens every day. Most offer pleasant music, some do not have anything. That one is my favorite – the silence that makes a client wonder if they’ve been put on hold or hung up on. What you have recorded for your on hold selection doesn’t need to be pushy but can offer up little bits of information about your products and services that may spike interest when the customer gets on the phone with someone. Don’t make it boring, make it fun. I suggest investing in this opportunity and paying close attention to the results, you’ll be pleasently surprised!
2 – You are not John Hancock. We have all seen it, the different horrible renditions of what some people call email signatures. Rule of thumb: a signature is not somewhere to quote famous individuals or list the awards your company has received – and NEVER, I repeat, NEVER add a ‘colorful’ background to your email – it’s not enjoyable and bogs down email servers. A signature should list a short but polite closing, name and necessary phone numbers and maybe a website or company name. Please do not add your email address to your signature, this is absolutely unnecessary. If they are receiving an email from you – they know your email address. Your signature format should be mandated to all employees so that it stays consistent and remember, it is not a place to advertise. I know how tempting it may be, but do not use this area for advertising. Here is an example of a simple signature:
Your Company, Inc.
888-888-8888 – Corporate
You can replace ‘Sincerely’ with anything that you feel fits your personality. I was amazed just yesterday at one that I saw; it said “Live well,”.
3 – DO NOT stalk your clients. Businesses have started to take advantage of social networking and some have seen great success. These tools can enhance your business or even help to sink it. Time and time again I have seen businesses stalk their clients with Twitter, LinkedIn, Myspace or Facebook. Twitter is the worst of them – DO NOT use this as just an advertising tool. Twitter is a perfect opportunity to give your ‘followers’ an inside look at the company they do business with. First, offer an incentive to get them to follow you by advertising weekly specials exclusively for Twitter followers. After that, give them the inside look I suggested. Have the Director of Marketing use it and make updates like “We are finalizing the new logo – it’s HOT!” or “Just received approvals on the new whatever designs, you’ll love them!”. This is a personal touch the clients would love, just do not stalk them. Social networking should be more personal then it is today, give your clients REASONS to want to be ‘friends’ and do not spam friend requests. This is not limited to social networking; beware of over-sending surveys or making follow-up calls. Introduce them to your business professionally and have fun with it, they will appreciate the authenticity.
4 – The “Yawn” Factor. Your clients are viewing your website more than you’re aware and in some cases, go there to conduct regular business. Time and time again I will visit websites that have not changed in months, sometimes years! This is boring. Update your homepage regularly and offer reasons to return. The simplest thing you can do to get started is to install a blog/news system. You can use this to easily update visitors on company information or introduce new products and services. Depending on the type of clients you serve, I would even suggest using this area to for personalized specials. There are hundreds of things you can do to improve your website bounce ratio (the percentage of people that actually moved to another page from the homepage) but making simple changes like these will offer clients a reason to stay awake while visiting your website.
5 – Keep it simple. Carefully review your marketing and advertising collateral regularly. While big words sound professional, most people will not understand them and may miss the entire message. When producing information a client may receive, keep it simple. The only people you will really impress with fancy words or phrases are your colleagues. This guideline is typically overlooked when a company introduces a product or service and names it something like “Dynamic Synergetic Resource File” – who in their right mind would know what that means?! When naming a new and exciting product, keep it simple and always remember that what sounds cool may not actually be cool. The worst thing you can do is confuse your clients or make them feel inferior.
The best way to really learn how you can make things better is to learn your competition. For example – if you are the Direct of Marketing at a local bank, I suggest you open a checking and savings account with a direct competitor. Open a PERSONAL account with your own money so that you will FEEL what it is that you like or dislike as a consumer. Go to the different branches and see what they do to earn your business and keep it there. This will give you a unique view from the inside and allow for you to improve upon the efforts you put into marketing. I highly suggest getting to know the competition personally, and never think that you’ve got it perfect because someone else has most likely already stepped it up a notch. In marketing, you have to always be growing.