Events can be an integral part of a marketing plan; many businesses rely on them to build awareness and generate leads. But as you may have noticed, some events are better run and attended than others.
What are the keys to orchestrating successful events?
1) Know your objective and desired audience.
Before you start planning the details, have a clear idea of whom you want to attract and what value you will be offering.
The earlier you can start planning, the better. For a large event like a trade show or conference, begin planning six months in advance.
For local events, you’ll need at least 30 to 45 days to get things organized and arranged.
TIP: If you are using vendors, have all vendor contracts completed a few weeks before the event. If they don’t have a commitment from you, they might book another event.
3. Find Partners and Sponsors to share expenses.
Look for businesses that have complementary services or would like to reach the same target market. Coordinating with a non-profit and donating the fees charged is a great way to attract participants and make them feel good about your company and their spending time/money at your event!
Don’t be afraid to ask – many things are negotiable. How much a vendor charges might depend on how busy they are, so being flexible with your dates/specifications can help reduce their quoted price.
Tip: Determine your budget before meeting a vendor or sponsor, and think of what you can offer in return for sponsorship or a lower negotiated price.
5. Assign Responsibilities; communicate
If you’ve recruited partners or a team, break up the various elements of the event into sections; clearly define roles and responsibilities of each team member.
Communicating and collaborating with the people working with you is important.
To keep everyone on the same page, create a document that details key elements of the event, timelines, and who is responsible. Have it easily accessible, easy to read and updated so everyone can refer to it and you can keep things on track. Many groups use Google Docs to do this.
6. Promote, promote, promote
Your goal is to get the right people to your event -- and enough of them to make it worthwhile.
Create a promotional plan for your event incorporating all the media channels available to you.
If you are planning to host more than one event, pay particular attention to branding. Using the same template will build brand recognition; repetition is the key!
7. Ways to promote your event:
8. Photograph Everything
Pictures can document the success of your event. Get pictures of the full room, event branding, speakers, and attendees enjoying themselves.
9. Have a dry run; then relax if everything doesn’t go exactly as planned
Hold a practice session, especially if you have several speakers and have everything in place before the event so you’ll be able to welcome guests. Create contingency plans. Things ALWAYS change – stay flexible and think of alternatives.
10. Follow-up Immediately
Thanks for reading!
Special thanks to Evan Carroll of www.attendedevents.com and Debra Mathias, www.connect-to-clients.com – I really appreciate their willingness to talk with me and sharing their thoughts and expertise.
You may have heard the term “Customer Success”.
What does it mean to you and your company?
Is it just a new way to say customer satisfaction or customer service? Can any business use this type of thinking?
Customer Success is focused on ensuring your customers achieve their desired outcomes while using your product or service. This focus can improve loyalty and reduce customer churn.
How does it differ from customer service or satisfaction?
Customer Success is proactive, while customer service is reactive. Good customer service increases the chance of customer success by solving problems as they arise, on a case by case basis. Documenting re-occurring problems is important feedback for product/process improvement.
Customer Success helps companies better understand what the customer is experiencing, how the customers use the product and/or services – from the customer’s perspective. Customer success can use feedback from Customer Service and other sources to see where customers are succeeding and where help is needed.
Customer Success is a vital part of Customer Satisfaction. If the product doesn’t perform to expectations, or the buyer isn’t informed/educated in the proper use, then it’s not likely the customer will be satisfied. But since customers perception is formed through multiple experiences with the company, there are other factors that can also affect overall satisfaction.
What does Customer Success look like in action?
Software companies are leading the effort to implement the customer success mindset. For example, Pendo, located in Raleigh North Carolina, makes software for product managers. They measure the number and frequency of features used in a certain time period. If a customer seems to take longer than average to implement, they follow up with interviews to find out why. They also measure the NPS (Net Promoter Score) which reinforces that customer success is everyone’s job.
So, you might be thinking, this is great for software companies, but what does this mean for my product or service business? It may be easier to implement in a software product (where more feedback is automated) but most businesses can benefit from using the customer success mindset to improve loyalty and reduce churn. You can start by asking “what else can we do to make customers successful” when looking for new product ideas or process innovations. Here are a few keys to implementing Customer Success thinking:
1) First, define:
2) Test and measure which factors have the greatest impact on customer success – then emphasize them. Identify and interview customers who aren’t achieving success with your product to out find the reasons why.
3) Get your whole team on board with Customer Success
The customer success mindset can be applied to a wide variety of products and businesses.
How do you apply the Customer Success mindset to your business? What key metrics do you use?
Feel free to add a comment.
Thanks for reading! Best wishes for a wonderful holiday and a great start to the New Year!
Marketing plans aren’t just for big businesses; every organization can benefit from one. But if you are a business owner or part of a small marketing team, it might seem like a luxury - something you’d like to do when you get the time. In fact, only 56% of small businesses with fewer than 50 employees have a marketing plan developed.
Marketing plans aren’t the only thing that organizations are missing -- many admit they don't have specific marketing goals. And outlining specific goals is important -- as the saying goes, if you don’t know where you’re going, how are you going to get there?
5 important reasons why you should take the time and effort to develop a marketing plan:
1. It helps you think through your business strategy and align your marketing efforts effectively.
You’ll then formulate marketing objectives that help your business achieve its mission and become successful.
2. It keeps you – and your team -- focused.
There are many marketing tools and opportunities -- it’s easy to become distracted, losing sight of your intended business goals. The marketing planning process helps focus on your priorities so you’re not spending time and resources on activities that won’t help you attain your goals.
3. It formalizes ideas and concepts.
You may have some great ideas for your business you’d like to try – including them in your marketing plan will help you determine how feasible they are. Once they are in the plan, you’ll be focused to work on them.
4. It helps you establish tasks, timelines and milestones.
A good marketing plan includes clearly defined objectives and tactics, outlining these makes it easier to identify the tasks that need to be done, who should do them, and when they need to be done by. This will help you get the most out of promotions and seasonal or local events.
5. It can help you obtain financing.
A business plan is a must if you want to obtain financing, having a well thought out marketing plan shows that you mean business (pun intended)!
So set aside some time to create a sound marketing plan for your business – chances are you’ll be glad you did.
Need help creating your plan? Get your copy of our market planning ebook to help your business grow!
Need more leads?
If the answer is yes, you are in good company. According to a recent report 63% of business leaders named generating traffic and leads as one of their top challenges.
So how do you generate more leads?
Successful companies use a combination of tactics that best fit their market and objectives ( see the list below).
Since prospective customers might not be ready to buy immediately, they also design a follow up system to nurture the leads. There are many tactics to choose from including advertising, mailings, social media and events.
Which tactics will work best for you?
Puppies are great (I love puppies) !
But even with these cuties on your side, you will get the best results when you start your lead generation efforts with a solid process like the one outlined below:
For example, Sally Forth Products is new retail business that creates high-end, customized products for individuals. They’ve gotten great feedback from current customers, but this type product is only reordered once a year. Looking at their overhead and other costs, they realize that need to double their customer base by 50% by the end of the year to break-even.
Sally Forth's current customers are in a high-income demographic and women drive the majority of purchase decisions. They have found that customers can be segmented by the way they approach the purchase decision.
1) Nina Needitnow -- has an immediate need for the product, knows the style she wants and the sales cycle is short. This type of customer needs a minimum of nurturing but needs polite, personal, responsive service.
2) Greta Gather -- is thinking and planning. She may love the concept, but may consider it for over a year before deciding.
The team at Sally Forth Products decide they to promote awareness and attract more "Ninas". Both target customer types tend to to to the same sources for information, so they chose tactics to suit each buying cycle.
Sally Forth Products is currently running traditional and search engine advertising, experiencing varying levels of success. To address the immediate needs of "Ninas" they added the phone number in their search engine ads, then streamlined the contact process and trained the team to answer the phone in a friendly, professional manner by the first or second ring.
They've also decided to compliment the ads they are running with a digital campaign to nurture "Gretas". They're developing two downloadable pieces of content to gather the emails of interested individuals and a series of emails to follow up the download. To deliver this content, they are beefing up their social media presence and plan to promote posts to their targeted audience.
Sally Forth Products put their plan into action; they logged the source of all new customer calls and are eliminating ads that did not generate customer interest. Their email list has tripled with some of the "Gretas" converting earlier than expected in the cycle.
Lead generation is important to building your business and following these steps will help you get better results.
If we can help you determine the tactics that will fit your business situation, please contact us.
Thanks for reading !
Need ideas? Get the 14 Tips to Build and Grow Your List today!
While marketing a business takes thoughtful planning, implementation, feedback and adjustment, developing a clear positioning statement can make your efforts easier and more successful. This is because the positioning statement helps guide your tactical marketing efforts and internal operations to work together for better outcomes.
4 Steps to Create a Successful Positioning Statement
When creating your market position statement, focusing on these four elements will help ensure you have a quality end result.
1) Identify and articulate the profile of your most profitable customer
Take an inventory of your past and current customers. Which ones have provided you with the most sustained and profitable business? Identify them and list out what you know about them.
For example, a B2C business would want to list socioeconomic characteristics – demographics such as age, gender, education level, income level, marital status, occupation, or average size of family.
Highlight the characteristics they have in common to create your optimal customer profile.
This is the target market that you offer the best solutions to fit their situations/needs. Remember – keep it narrow! You are not eliminating others who may purchase your offerings - just focusing your efforts and resources towards those most closely aligned with your business success.
2) What / Who is Your Competition?
Potential customers have a wide range of methods to research buying solutions and comparing competing offerings. This increases the importance of clear, concise messaging that enables the researcher to find, and easily understand, your business offerings and how they differ from your competition. So find out where you stand.
3) Why Are You Different and Better for Your Target Customer?
Now that you have clearly identified your target customer and competition, define how your company offerings are superior to the other alternatives.
Begin by brainstorming a list of all the ways your company and its products/services are different and better than the competitions. Next, prioritize this list by the perceived value to your target customer. (You may want to survey them to find out which have the most value to them.) Select the top two or three differentiators -- you'll need these for the next step.
4) Write your Market Positioning Statement
This is a short statement describing your business and its remarkable qualities -- what you offer and how it uniquely solves your target customer's problem. It must be a memorable phrase - one you can use when introducing your company.
Remember – shorter is better!
Have it contain the top two or three distinguishing aspects you identified in the step above, coupled with the specific characteristics of your target customer. Test it out on many people to ensure that employees, customers and those you meet can all recite it with ease.
Using our previous example, the firm might have found that their personalized knowledge of the client’s situation, quick response and ability to work to prevent legal hassles was most valued by their clients. Their statement might read – Our business offers highly personalized legal expertise and rapid, proactive response to small for- profit environmental lobbying organizations.
In conclusion, taking the time to go through these four steps helps gain the perspective and understanding necessary for creating market positioning statement. Ultimately, your positioning statement can be used as a guide for your company’s culture, marketing efforts and allocation of time and resources. A laser like focus on your preferred target customer will increase the return on your marketing efforts, the top line and ultimately impact the long-term success of your business.
Thanks for reading! If you have questions or need help with positioning your business, please Contact us.
Business cartoonist Chris Lysy asked me what I thought was the biggest challenge small businesses face. In a quick note back, I said "It varies from business to business, but I’d say wearing multiple hats — managing the many facets of the business in the amount of time available." I thought that was a pretty good guess ... but is it?
Agree? Disagree? Voice your opinion on the poll below or in the comments.
Hope you enjoy the cartoon!
Once again someone has asked when you are going to get a new website. You're definitely not excited about spending the time and resources it would take to get it done.
Do you really need to do it? It's an important decision – in this digital age, your website is a critical part of your business’s success. It’s often the first—and in some cases the only—interaction customers have with your business.
Answering these questions might make your decision easier ...
Is your site:
Why are these important?
1) A great representative of your brand? Because first impressions are important -- you should evaluate if the site makes the impression you'd like. Has your target market changed since you launched your site? If you’re not sure, try asking recent customers or prospects what they think of your site.
2) Fast loading and easy to navigate? As companies grow, they often add pages to their websites. Adding pages that way can create a site that is difficult to navigate. Customers may become frustrated if loading is too slow or it takes too many clicks to get to their information. You can check if this is a problem with Google's free analysis.
3) Mobile friendly – Mobile is becoming increasingly important. Over half of internet traffic now comes from a mobile device. If you love your site, it may be possible to transfer the content to a template that looks good on both a PC and mobile phone (responsive design) at a lower cost and effort than building a new site.
4) Attracting needed traffic? Your website might be fine, but you can generate a higher ROI by enhancing the digital strategy that drives traffic to the site. A digital strategy can include complementary components, like SEO organic traffic, Adwords and / or Bing Ads for paid traffic, content marketing and social media.
Thanks for reading!
Broad Reach Marketing provides practical, effective solutions to connect with your customers.
If you’d like to discuss any of these points or find out more, contact us !
Social Media - it's everywhere!
Both large and small organizations use social media. Large companies are most visible and usually use multiple channels, but small businesses are active as well – in fact, over 41% of small businesses use Facebook to support their marketing efforts.
And no wonder -- social media can be used for both outgoing and inbound communications. Organizations can listen and monitor for customer service and public relations feedback as well as communicate and engage their target market.
But you may have noticed that some organizations get more out of their efforts than others. Their audience likes, shares and comments more often, resulting in greater awareness and better connections.
What are the keys to these successful social media programs?
1) Specific Goals
First, these organizations are not just "doing" social media. They start with objectives that are aligned with organizational goals and values. Social media is often used to support specific objectives, like growing awareness for a new offering, communicating brand and organizational values, or supporting recruitment.
2) Audience Knowledge
The program is built on knowledge of the target customer and what interests them.
3) Offers Value
Social media should include information and topics of interest to engage. Posting information that is entertaining, or that customers might not find elsewhere (like exclusive notices of sales or coupons), and encouraging interaction is key. These organizations think of social media as a conversation with their followers rather than a sales announcement tool. With social media, you have to earn your following, so any sales messages have to be subtle and sprinkled through the other messages – less than 20% of the content.
4) Prioritized Tactics
Successful social media programs take time and consistent effort to build a following. To maximize resources, efforts are focused on channels that appeal most to the target market and fit the organization’s content. They try to be where the potential market is, but don’t try to be everywhere! Better to excel at two channels than have a scattered presence on five.
5) Team Effort and Coordination
Coordination helps get the best out of social media. For small business as well as larger ones, a designated team and coordinated calendar are essential. Planning consistent messaging across platforms, knowing in advance of events and other initiatives, leveraging the following on one channel to point to content on another, and having a reliable source of fresh content are benefits of a well-coordinated team.
6) Clear Guidelines
Many industries have regulations and restrictions on what can be made public. In addition, it is a good idea to have ground rules that employees may refer to when posting or re-posting/retweeting information about the organization.
7) Measurements, Analysis and Adjustments
Success social media efforts are tracked and measured so they can be continually improved. Simple measures like shares, likes, retweets and comments can indicate engagement. A growing number of followers can indicate awareness. Depending on the goals, there are other measures as well:
Great social media programs have their finger on the pulse of the audience and stakeholders. Feedback collected from customers and employees is used to refine the content and can be valuable to marketing and business growth decisions.
Thanks for reading! How does your organization run their social media programs? What have you found that works best?
If you have questions or would like to explore team-based social media marketing, please contact us.
Image credit: John Atkinson's Cartoons
Broad Reach Marketing helps professional practices and local businesses engage and retain customers with practical, effective branding, strategy and promotions.
We love to help good ideas and organizations grow!
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In a conversation about my last blog post on Word of Mouth Marketing (WOMM), a business acquaintance remarked:
“It’s interesting how a big brand or shining new business gets word of mouth to work for them. But I have a reliable small business. I don’t want to be famous or go viral, but I’d like to grow my referrals. Can I still use WOMM?”
“Sure!” I answer. “One of the things you can do is WOW them with your customer service. And a WOW is the key to having great WOMM! When you give your customers or clients excellent service, they’ll say great things about you, driving referrals and supporting your overall business.”
“Great! But how do I make sure my service is excellent?” she asked.
By implementing a customer satisfaction feedback process.
1) Measuring customer satisfaction can help you understand what people are currently saying, what they really appreciate and what might be improved.
There are several ways to do this:
Observation - Be aware of your customers’ body language and expressions as they interact with you and your staff. If your business has multiple locations and / or staff, make it part of your routine to discreetly observe your business operating real-time. You can validate your observations by casually asking customers their impressions of the service and environment.
Interviews – Interview a sample of customers by asking a set of questions over the phone or in person. The advantage of this method is that it is more comprehensive than observation. The interviewer can take the time to ask follow up questions and learn more about the why of a particular answer.
Social media listening -- Some people are reluctant to give opinions verbally, but feel more uninhibited online. Also, avoid unwanted surprises by asking questions in your postings. Finally, “listen” to what people are saying by monitoring your business name and keywords on several social media channels. Some tools that can make this easier include:
Focus groups – This method is also interactive and gathers feedback from groups via dialogs with follow up questions and exploration of situations. One of the keys to successful, productive focus groups is having a skilled facilitator to make sure the more talkative participants don’t dominate or sway the group.
Surveys – Conducting a survey is the most common method used for measuring customer satisfaction. Surveys have the advantage of scale – if you have many customers, surveys give you the ability to get a large sample size to express their opinion in a short time. This can provide statistically viable observations and metrics, although the process can have a bias towards people with the time, energy and motivation to complete the survey.
All of these methods require a clear vision of what you want to learn. So keep it simple and focused – only ask the questions that will provide useful feedback. For example, don’t ask about your location if you’re not willing to move.
Which brings us to the next step in the process:
2) Analyze the information you’ve gained from your customers - to do this, look into these areas:
What your business is doing well -- and should do more of
Where improvement is needed
Services/products that are needed that you may not provide
Net Promoter Score – (for surveys) standard measure of how likely your customer is to refer your business. How does it compare to your industry and expectations?
3) Build an action plan to address any customer concerns, leverage your positives and this will ultimately improve overall satisfaction.
4) Measure your customer satisfaction ratings against your action plan on a periodic basis. This way, you will know if the actions you’ve put into place are having the desired effect. If they are, you’ll see your metrics moving in the right direction. If they are not, adjustments will need to made.
“So it sounds like my business could use this but… won’t it take time, resources and cut into my profits?”
According to Gartner Research, companies that prioritize the customer experience are 60% more profitable than those who don’t. That’s an average, but you could look at your own data – what is the cost to acquire a new customer compared to retaining a current customer?
To learn more on this topic and how to implement it painlessly, please contact us or visit here.
Would you like your business to be the subject of positive conversation?
Many Business success stories start just that way -- by word of mouth – or as it is referred to now -- WOMM (word of mouth marketing).
Today, along with traditional verbal interchange, social media is also a prevalent means for communication. So when discussing WOMM from a marketing perspective – lets look at what we are trying to achieve:
But what actually is considered word-of-mouth marketing? Traditionally, it was a verbal exchange of positive information about your business between people on the phone, face to face, or maybe in a letter. Now with the rise of social media, word of mouth marketing has more tools to amplify it. But the principles stay the same:
Someone is motivated to say something nice about a product, brand or business.
Statistics show that person-to-person WOMM is by far the most effective form of marketing you can create:
So can everyone use WOMM ? What are the keys?
Have a WOW factor
The best WOMM features a “WOW” factor -- something that provides customers with such an wonderful story, product or service that they can’t help but share their experience with friends, family, co-workers (and maybe even the person behind them in the check out line).
Keys to the WOW factor:
Be Relevant and Authentic
Coconut Bliss This little company seized on a need that was not being filled for a distinct consumer segment – an organic dairy-free alternative dessert. They developed this unique product and started by encouraging WOM - they held tasting parties and demonstrations to generate awareness and interest, and encouraged their fans to petition stores to carry their products.
Do something exceptionally well
A prime example of this is a focus on delighting customers. When consumers have an exceptional experience with an organization, they tend to talk about it – just like they like to complain when they’ve been frustrated. Companies like Zappos, Amazon and others have grown successfully through making customer satisfaction a priority ingrained in their culture.
Alternatively, offer an unexpected extra gift with an order, or are willing to go the extra mile .
Have a mission beyond profit:
The first thing I heard about Tom’s shoes or Warby Parker was about the non-profit work they support – not comfort, fit or product performance! These, and other B corporations have stories people feel good about sharing.
Make it easy and rewarding for your customers to talk about you:
Even where there’s a great story for word of mouth sharing, people are busy, so make it easy to refer or share. The rewards don’t have to be large, but should be relevant to your target market.
Thanks for reading,
For help in leveraging word of mouth marketing, give us a call.
If you’re not sure if you have a WOW factor, you may be interested in next week's post.
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Marketing Tips is dedicated to providing busy professionals and local businesses with information on marketing trends, strategy and tactics in a way that is both accurate and easy to read.