The 5 SCARIEST things about a Social Media Campaign

For Halloween, here’s a SPOOKY topic: Starting a social media campaign! There is no denying that a social media strategy should be a part of every serious business’ action plan, but it can also be a daunting proposition. Here are the five scariest things about social media and how to come out from under the covers and face them: 

1.  “Putting my business out there will make it vulnerable”: Oooooh, scary. Sure, having your business on an open platform leads itself to criticism and praise for the world to see. You never know what people will post, but consumers are significantly more trusting of a brand that has open channels of communication than one that just shares its own message. If you are afraid of what people have to say about your brand, you have more to worry about than your social network.

2.  “My employees will abuse the privilege”: Well, they probably won’t. There is no real way to block access to Facebook and Twitter with the prevalence of smart phones, and who is a better brand ambassador than your own employees? An effective social media plan embraces the employees, rather than excludes them. How can you expect your network to expand if the employeesaren't talking about it themselves?

3.  “I won’t understand the lingo!”: Don’t go into social media worrying about all the acronyms and abbreviations and emoticons that you assume the “kids nowadays” are using. Social media has become a business tool for “grown-ups” now more than ever. Never has a tool come along that provides such a mass interaction between businesses and consumers. So don’t just hire an intern who “gets social networking” because he’s young; instead, get on there, use business language and everybody will be all right.

4.  “There are so many social platforms, what should I use?” You can’t and shouldn’t use them all. Your target audience will dictate the platform you use the most. "Dabble in many, and focus on a few" is a sound strategy in social media. Whereas, videos might not appeal to all consumers, neither does Twitter. Use the platforms thst best appeal to your audience and have a means for feedback as a top consideration in any campaign.

5.  “I won’t be able to keep up with the maintenance!” If you feel like you are not posting often enough, you may just be posting the right amount. People don’t want to be hit with business updates every fifteen minutes. Sharing relevant articles, spreading knowledge about your businesses’ news, and sharing video and pictures should all be done with discretion. Over-saturating people with your message makes it less effective, and people will stop listening.

So social media isn’t all that scary after all! Keep your eyes peeled for ghouls and ghosts, but don’t be stressed about tweets and posts!

Check out our Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/SourceLink) and our Youtube channel: (http://www.youtube.com/user/SourceLink1) for more ideas on making your social network great.

11/23/2011

Be a Good Customer too...

Learning how to treat a client has everything to do being a good one too.  Today, the day before Thanksgiving I am reminded of the many people who will have to provide excellent customer service to the anxious crowds of people awaiting great deals!  Imagine yourself on this day the waitress who has to tell the customers we ran out of pie or the cashier that is getting yelled at for being too slow, how about the poor store manager who has to explain that we have just run out of the item everyone was in line for?  How would you handle it?

How to be a Good Customer:

  1. Be Patient – Remember, there are a lot of people wanting the same thing as you.  Getting irritated, angry, pushy or argumentative isn’t going to make the situation go any faster.
  2. Be Courteous – As a general rule, you should just be nice to people, even if they are not to you.  Just as your clients have bad days, we need to be the exception not the rule.  SMILE, say hello, make small talk.  I promise you, it will be a nice break from the yelling ‘I want, I want’ they get all day. 
  3. Be Respectful – These employees are busy.  If you have a question or a concern, be direct and to the point. 
  4. Be Helpful – If you see someone in need, and you can help them… you should.  It’s the right thing to do.  You can also help by bagging your own products or taking your cart back to the store. 
  5. Be Thankful – Remember to be appreciative and say thank you, this goes a long way.  If you didn’t get what you wanted, be thankful anyway. 

At the end of the day, whether you are at work or involved in your personal life, Customer Service is an integral part of our everyday lives.  What is most important to understand is that regardless of the specific role you are in at the moment you want to be treated sincerely.  When you are a good customer, it assists you in getting what you need, and you just might make a friend along the way!

Great customer service begins and ends with a smile. 

11/01/2011

When disaster strikes!

I know most people don’t get excited about discussing disaster recovery. Check that. There is only one type of person that does get “excited” about disaster recovery: the one that needs it. Most don’t even want to think about it. But, that all changes if your cashflow is driven from direct marketing or invoicing and the process is stopped by a system that has failed. It is then that disaster recovery becomes your entire world and also then that disaster recovery determines the success or failure of your business. Sound dramatic? Maybe, but imagine for a moment that your business has no cashflow for a month.

“How can this happen and what is my risk,” you might ask. So, imagine you own a business, like many of our clients, which drives a large amount of your revenue from Direct Mail or mailed invoices and you depend on a third-party for this service. Then one day you find out that your vendor was flooded, had a fire or ice storm and has declared an emergency—or worse, that they closed their doors and did not even have, at a minimum, the process in place that includes calling to let you know. You have to find out by calling them that they are out of business due to any number of causes, and they have no way to recover your work.

At this point, the custom code, business rules, and other customer-specific knowledge they have developed for you over the years have been lost with no chance of recovery. Now, you are faced with several difficult tasks: trying to understand the processes your previous vendor had in place, finding a new vendor quickly and getting your materials produced and mailed. All of this must be done before you can collect any more cash or bring in more clients. I don’t know what could be worse or make you feel sicker than the thought of losing your cashflow because of a situation such as this.

With this example in mind, I hope you will realize that disaster recovery is very important, especially before a disaster actually occurs. Ensuring your vendor has a plan in place can make all the difference in keeping your cashflow positive if a disaster should occur. So, ask for your vendor’s plan and talk it through with them. Ask questions, and most importantly, ask yourself how sensitive you are to a disaster.

Please remember, just because everything has been fine so far doesn’t mean it will stay that way. The reality is the survival of your business could depend on what you do before disaster hits.

10/26/2011

What will the future of Direct Mail look like?

We all understand that the digital age plays an important role in marketing communications, but a unique transformation is taking place where the miniaturization of consumer-level technology is driving new types of channels of communications. So I was considering how direct mail will look in the future. The conventional method of messaging with personalization will continue, but will it change the experience for the end user?

The Smartphone is now taking on more uses then being just a phone, and it has caused the technology to become more miniaturized. Individual features are becoming more of a commodity than ever before. Do you remember when it was a big deal to have power windows or a CD player in your car? Technology is driving new innovative channels for direct messaging or even dynamic messaging.

My experience in digital electronics drove me to investigate what science is around the corner that will change Marketing Services. What would it be like if you could distribute your message using video inside a direct Mail piece? Sounds like a cell phone stripped down to play a video message for a limited time with some interactivity. This concept is not new but the packaging and the price is critical for the success.

Still not convinced…

http://www.bing.com/videos/watch/video/the-new-direct-mail/6oh0wmu?from=&mid=10006

I attended a presentation with top talent from MIT, and upcoming advancements in products will include a sensor that will communicate conditions and receive updates. For example, your medical prescription will electronically notify you that you missed a day of taking your medicine. This will not be some large box with an antenna on top of it, but a normal-sized medicine package that you will buy from your drug store.

Going back to the direct mail piece - After some additional investigation I decided to check into product pricing of a media-playing direct mail piece. You can obtain this technology for as little as $15. Now all you need is a small power source and you have the ability to play video for a short period of time. Add in some personalization and you now have a marketing channel.

If products have sensors embedded in them to transmit and receive information, the media messaging can change dynamically depending on the user’s habits or surroundings. Would this be considered intelligent Direct mail? We are just getting started on what is next and working with partners that are creative is going to be more important than ever.

 

To learn more – please visit our website at www.sourcelink.com

10/22/2011

We're not in Kansas anymore!

 

Facilities closing…service dropping…prices increasing…OH MY!  Sometimes I wish all it took is to click your ruby red slippers 3 times and it all goes away.

Unfortunately that’s not the case in the real world, and certainly not the case when dealing with the USPS these days.  Assuming the PRC approves the recommended price increases, we’re looking at an average price increase of 2.1% as of January 22, 2012.  A summary is below:

 

PERCENTAGE OF PRICE CHANGE BY CLASS OF MAIL:

 

Class                                       Percentage Change

First-Class                              2.133

Mail Standard Mail               2.124

Periodicals                             2.133

Package Services                   2.133

Extra Services                        -.663  

 

*With the exception of Delivery Confirmation and Confirm, most Extra Services prices increase at about 2.1 %. Adding Delivery Confirmation and Confirm services as included services for some parcels results in the overall price reduction for Extra Services.

 

With postage going up, it’s more important than ever to partner with an organization committed to keeping your expenses down.  Check us out at:

 

www.sourcelink.com

 

10/20/2011

Is there a Client in your services?

When a client is happy it is evident that they are receiving good service.  But it goes deeper than that doesn’t it?  Clients are a lot like us, the average consumer.  We want to ‘feel’ like we are important when we are in a place of business or conducting business over the phone.  We want to be treated with respect and if it is a long term business relationship, that ‘personal touch’ goes a long way.  Without this, service is just service and there isn’t much to hold on to.  Anyone can provide a service.  Relationship development is the key to client retention. 

   5 Tips to putting more Client in your Service!

1.       The client is your # 1 priority!

Every client is my favorite and that is what I tell them.  Every issue is the MOST important thing I’ve got going right now.  This is how you should communicate to your clients. 

2.       The little things DO matter.

Follow-up with e-mails and calls, communication on potential issues ahead of time, getting back to them before they have to ask twice, these are examples of the little things that matter to a client.  As a matter of fact, these little things can turn into big things over time if you aren’t careful.  Clients love that you communicate.  Good or bad.  They need to know.

3.       Reach out – “What can I do for you today?”

Asking a client what you can do to assist them is always a positive.  You may be busy, you may think you can’t possibly help the client and in most cases, the client will say no thank you.  However, they will remember that you asked and that you cared enough to understand that it was a stressful day and you were a bright spot in it. 

4.       Understand their business! 

Clients want to speak to you in their language.  They don’t want to always have to wait for you to get back to them with an answer, or have to explain something multiple times.  Taking the time to understand their work, their process flow and their business allows you to listen and ask for opportunities when they are available.  Clients want to work with someone who knows what they do and what they want, Client Services is the central point of contact on this.

5.       Get to know them.

The personal touch.  There is a fine line between appropriate and invasive.  This is just a matter of respect and the ability to read people.  Everyone is different.  Some people like cats, some dogs.  Some collect pins, others spoons.  What is your favorite sport?  Do you have children? Do you like chocolate?  You can tell what it is because they love to talk about it.  This is the personal touch.  Clients are people too and although we have to work, we actually want to work with people we like and we like to work with people we know.  Similar interests draw people together.  This is a part of your job you should enjoy. Have some fun with it.

Bottom line is the relationship is what ties the client to the company.  If it comes down to pricing and they have to choose, they will lean towards what they know and value first.  My bet is the client with the relationship wins that one!!

 

 

10/14/2011

Silence is Golden

Many people at one or more times in their life growing up may have been told to talk less. The phrase ‘Silence is Golden’ may have been used in tandem with that.

The same thinking and phrase holds true in analytics. Modeling data for the telecom industry is always a challenge and there are many scenarios that highlight success when it happens. We have been testing numerous approaches for telecom companies during recent years and have had good successes for various companies. The key to testing is to capture some winning combinations that make the marketing efforts pay off in a big way. Applying models across different files with different offers and price points has been a continuous exercise. Some methods show great response rates with weaker conversion rates. Then if the focus is too much on conversion rates, the response rate becomes too low. As sales managers often say, “If the phone doesn’t ring, it really doesn’t matter”.

Earlier this year, we had a detailed discussion around some telecom data we were receiving. We spent some time asking detailed questions and taking a deeper dive into the information. The data discovery process gleaned some learning not previously found. This led us to define a lot of noise in the data which watered down the result of modeling. Campaigns were marginal but we still needed a winner. Modeling resumed once the noise was removed and the right universe was selected. We looked at the results and there standing tall was a clear picture of the target. Removing the noisy data created change to the criteria for universe selection as well as for the model itself.

Results… We got a puzzling call from the client asking us what we did differently to the data. When asked to clarify the question, the client explained that they hadn’t seen results like this in many years and that in deed a homerun was at the plate. The results were now coming in at four times the previous rate and the next question was, “How much more of this data can you provide?” As a colleague of mine says, the devil is in the details. So before you dive too deep into modeling, make sure you spend adequate time in data discovery and that all of the right questions have been asked.

Once you remove the noise… Silence is Golden.

10/13/2011

The Maple Kind? The Power of Video and YouTube in Marketing

The other day, I was having dinner with my mother, a sharp-witted woman, and she said one of the more baffling things I had ever heard. She had watched the now famous YouTube video, “Ultimate Dog Tease” (65 million hits and counting as of this writing) and thought that the dog was actually talking. That the dog actually had a grasp on what constituted “the maple kind” of bacon, etc. Granted, this initially came off as embarrassing, but it sparked my thoughts on the effect YouTube has had on our society.

 

To clarify, I don’t think my mom believes animals can talk, but she obviously showed some sort of fascination with the power of video. In the case of my mother, it seemed that anything is possible with video, and because of this reason, this medium has taken off. For personal use, video offers an immediate outlet and viewing platform. It can be funny, touching, socially relevant or reminiscent. For business, it offers an experience that can draw the customer in and show them first hand what the company offers. In these days of comparative shopping, a video literally can be worth a thousand words.

 So where can companies go in this video revolution? The answer lies with your audience. Certainly a video about a data management system would not appeal to the masses, but consider how much more effective offering a visual component for your system would be to those already seeking such a product. Video puts a face to the organization, offers a bond with a product, and most importantly, demands the viewer’s attention. A quality video will have information and design that will naturally keep the viewer there for the duration of the message. So whether you are looking for “The maple kind” or “The marketing kind,” online video might be the solution to your hunger.

Check out our current videos, and stay tuned for new ones, on SourceLink’s Facebook page and LinkedIn company page

10/12/2011

" Post Office Closures: How Will They Impact My Business?"

September 14, 2011, our PostMaster General Pat Donahoe announced that the USPS would be performing a study of 252 processing facilities around the country.  The purpose of the study is to identify potential closures and/or consolidations.  It's no secret that the USPS is on hard times, and closing a facility here and there should come as no shock to those practical industry insiders.  If you ran you're own business and couldn't afford to keep slower and less efficient facilities open, you would probably close them too.

However, this is a sensitive issue, especially for those U.S. Representatives responsible for the USPS facilities in their district (and the jobs that go along with them).  Everyone agrees that it is the right thing to do, but politics must come into play and that also shouldn't surprise anyone.  

 More importantly, HOW DOES THIS AFFECT MY MAIL?  For those of you who monitor your mail's performance and care when your prospects and customers receive mail, this is a big deal.  Sourcelink's MultiTrac program can assist with understanding how your mail is traveling through the network and gain a greater appreciation of how much longer (if any) it's taking to deliver.  Schedule a free demo of our MultiTrac program with Rich Cicha at  (856) 685-3601, or at rcicha@sourcelink.com

You can also hop over to our website (www.sourcelink.com) to view some video demos.

 

10/11/2011

How Will The Debit Card Fee Impact your Member Acquisition Strategies?

A recent USA Today article, http://usat.ly/qCUh6O reports that a growing number of consumers are researching banking options, in an apparent effort to avoid the newest fee in banking - the debit card fee. For America’s credit unions, the big question remains just how many of these same consumers will actually switch their primary banking institution?

Motivating consumers to take certain actions is at the very essence of a successful marketing campaign. Identifying these consumers through database marketing strategies, understanding them, and communicating with them on a level that makes them understand you “get” them – at just the right time – is the recipe to conversion.  Many other factors (convenience, services offered, rates, locations, hours… just to name a few) will come into play when a consumer considers a switch.  So, the fee alone may not be the golden key for conversions that I suspect some credit unions are hoping it will be. Before you know it, the debit card fee will be remembered as another impulsive trigger which motivated some consumers to change financial institutions. But as months pass by and consumers grow more tolerant of this new fee, the window begins to close and it will become more and more difficult to convert those consumers into member-owners.  Just think back to how many new fees have been created over recent years (3rd party ATM usage fees, for example). Consumers were irate over those fees too when they were first introduced. Many threatened to leave their bank. How many actually did? As time went on, more banks introduced the fee, and more consumers became complacent with the fee.

As a former credit union lobbyist turned marketer, I’ve made a career out of motivating consumers and influencing behavior.  SourceLink has multiple solutions designed to help America’s Credit Unions identify and attract new members.  Check out our free whitepaper, “Take Market Share While The Window Is Still Open” at http://sourcelink.com/media/#knowledgeLink.  The debit card fee issue is certainly an advantage for credit unions and some small banks, but I don’t necessarily see this as the game-changer that some predict it will be.  A consumer’s relationship to a financial institution is complex. Changing primary financial institutions is an equally complex proposition.   The truth of the matter is, credit unions don’t need new bank fees to provide lift in membership. There are plenty of consumers looking for the value that credit unions provide. Identifying and communicating with them on their terms is the key to success. Let’s talk about your specific goals and develop a plan to get there. Your thoughts, questions and/or success stories about member conversion are welcomed!  Visit www.sourcelink.com

10/10/2011

The Power of Influence

People have formed groups since the beginning of time.  Why?  It is natural behavior to look to others for guidance, opinion and direction before making a decision.  In fact, for any particular category, about 20% of the people are the influencers, the “decision makers,” and the other 80% follow along. Influencers may be different in different categories.  For instance, when you are looking for great entertainment, you have a friend that is the night owl/party guy that can tell you the best places in town to have a good time, but you probably won’t be asking that same guy about the best insurance coverage or place to bank.  In fact, who does ask others about insurance or banking?  71% claimed reviews from family members or friends exert a “great deal” of influence on financial buying decisions (Harris Interactive, June 2010).  When it comes to financial and insurance decisions, the influencers are critical in the decision-making path. 

So, as a direct marketer, what does this mean to you?  Do you have any idea who the influencers in your marketing database are?  We’ve been encouraging “refer-a-friends” for years.   Send a friend in, they get a gift and if it’s a good offer, you also get a gift.  Many institutions track the people to make sure they get their incentive, but they don’t maintain the notation on a central repository.  In fact, many have no idea whether someone has referred multiple people or just a single new customer or, anyone at all.   A single view of the customer is not a reality for many organizations (although it could be!). 

It shouldn’t be surprising then, that with websites such as Klout tracking on-line activity and ranking people according to the number of others following them, that we can track our customer activity too.  Imagine having a database where your customers are indexed according to the “clout” they have based on their activity?  What about special bonus points when the people they refer ALSO become active customers?  What if one of the people they refer, refers other active customers?   The more referrals they send, the higher their score.  Perhaps their score could be increased based on their activity level as well as their friends/referral activity level? 

Technology and an innovative platform make this process a SIMPLE reality.  Track the reach of your offer throughout the circles and networks of your customers and follow the activity.   Social Media is expanding the connectivity and reach of customer influence more than we have experienced in our lifetime.  As a marketer, this is our opportunity to harness the behavior, track it and encourage more of it.  Ultimately, you mail one piece of mail with an offer in it, but have the potential to get response from 2, 3,…10 other people.  Successful marketing relies on connections, and tapping into the spheres of influence each customer has is truly the future of business. When every consumer in effect becomes the “decision-maker,” they become empowered to share that message, whether that is about the best insurance company or the best nightclub.

 To see how easy it is to track your advocates, call your trusted SourceLink resource.