Want to Grow Your Customer Intuition? Become A Customer Evangelist

The role in today's organizations most suited to developing great customer intuition and insight is increasingly the customer evangelist. The person designated to be the customer liaison, the face and voice of the company or product. The customer evangelist is the person(s) in your organization that advocates for the interests of your customers and the person with the most insight and intuition into the needs and wants of your customers.

The Church of the Customer Blog highlights great tips for being a Chief Evangelist:

Betsy Weber, the chief evangelist for software toolmaker TechSmith, has five solid tips for being an official company evangelist and helping create other evangelists just like yourself.

1. Be a power listener.
Listen as much as you talk (if not more). Then, bring those conversations with customers into your company so the user's voice is heard. Keep the conversations going. Relate the feedback you hear to product teams, be the voice of the customer, and fight for what they want at your company.

2. Get out of the marketing department.
This isn't a marketing job. This isn't to create sales. It's about customer care and customer relationships. Dump the marketing lingo. Be transparent, open and honest. You have to be an extrovert and people person. It's almost a way of life -- you're either suited for it or you're not.

3. Get your whole company onboard.
It takes more than a Chief Evangelist to create customer evangelists. Every area that the customers interact with must be on board with creating customer evangelists. If one department fails to give outstanding service or gives the customer a negative experience the whole company is affected.

4. Open the front door and be accessible.
Give out your direct phone number and real email address. If you hide behind voicemail and an email alias you might miss a great opportunity. Give VIP tours and arrange for customer meet-ups. Customers will appreciate it and it can be a competitive advantage.

5. Have passion.
You must love and believe in the products, and you have to be passionate about the people who use them. If you won't, who will?

[Link]

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June 4, 2006 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Centric, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Volkswagen's Customer Intuition

Have you seen the startling ads for the VW Jetta? The ones where you are riding along with the occupants when suddenly out of nowhere they have a collision. The ads are designed to highlight the “safety in light of the unexpected” aspect of the Volkswagen Jetta. Dave over at our sister blog BeTuitive call the ads risky but they connect with him as he has experienced an accident and can relate with the sudden impact of these commercials.

Seems to me to be an intuition moment on the part of Volkswagen or at least their ad agency. These ads are most likely the result of market research that shows that safety ranks high in customers and prospects minds, therefore commercials dramatically promoting the safety performance of their vehicles.

How are you responding to the discussions that your customers and prospects are having about your business or products? Are you responding in advertising? In your email newsletters? On your blog?

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May 23, 2006 in Advertising, Advertising, Blogs, Blogs, Building Customer Intuition, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Business Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Newsletter, Email Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Newsletter Marketing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Volkswagen's Customer Intuition

Have you seen the startling ads for the VW Jetta? The ones where you are riding along with the occupants when suddenly out of nowhere they have a collision. The ads are designed to highlight the “safety in light of the unexpected” aspect of the Volkswagen Jetta. Dave over at our sister blog BeTuitive call the ads risky but they connect with him as he has experienced an accident and can relate with the sudden impact of these commercials.

Seems to me to be an intuition moment on the part of Volkswagen or at least their ad agency. These ads are most likely the result of market research that shows that safety ranks high in customers and prospects minds, therefore commercials dramatically promoting the safety performance of their vehicles.

How are you responding to the discussions that your customers and prospects are having about your business or products? Are you responding in advertising? In your email newsletters? On your blog?

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May 23, 2006 in Advertising, Advertising, Blogs, Blogs, Building Customer Intuition, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Business Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Newsletter, Email Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Newsletter Marketing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Customer Managed Relationships

Seth points out that Disney is thinking differently about CRM. They see it differently. Customer Managed Relationships. CMR replacing CRM. “...our guests invite us into their lives and ultimately manage our presence/relationship with them.” Now that's understanding permission marketing. Who among us enjoys it when a marketer manages our relationship. We'd much rather manage our relationship.

So what's a marketer to do?

Be on all the Channels
Think about the relationship you want your customers to have with you. That's slightly different than thinking about the relationship you want to have with your customers. What channels of communication do your customers want to hear from you? You probably don't know so maybe you need to use multiple channels and let customers choose what's most convenient for them. Some customers will like email newsletters, some will like direct mail, some will like an RSS feed from your blog, and some will like podcasts. The point is that it should be the customers choice. The choice you have as a marketer is to populate the available channels with your message.

Track, Tweak and Be Respectable
When you offer multiple channels respect the choices of your customers. Don't assume that those that listen and respond to one channel will want to hear from you on other channels. For example don't assume that email newsletter readers will want to hear your podcast. It's ok to let them know you have one but it's not OK to send the podcast file in an email. At every opportunity Test and Tweak your message so that you continually improve your use of each channel of communication.

Sounds like a lot of work doesn't it? That's why you should consider outsourcing your email newsletters and blogs to a provider like BeTuitive Marketing where all the Tracking and Tweaking are respectfully handled for you by experts in permission marketing.

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May 8, 2006 in Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, Creating a Company Newsletter, Current Affairs, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Email Newsletter Outsourcing, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Sales Genius Helps You Track Customer Interactions with Your Website

Sure you can have excellent stats and behavior tracking with your email newsletters but what about the follow-up emails that your sales staff sends to hot prospects and potential customers? Ever wish you could see if your prospects are visiting the web pages you are referring them to? Now you can with a new service that will track customer and prospect behavior based on the emails that you are sending. Give Sales Genius a try during the free trial period to see if it's going to be worth paying a monthly expense for the service.

SalesGenius™ is the first personal web analytics service that lets sales professionals instantly qualify sales prospects by tracking individual visits to corporate web sites, without any programming or IT involvement. The real-time Genius Tracker™ gives you immediate feedback about which sales leads have opened your e-mails and clicked through to your web site, so you can tell at a glance who is most interested.

Sales Genius

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May 3, 2006 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Creating a Company Newsletter, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Geographic Customer Intuition: Census/Google Maps Mashup

We're all about the Customer Intuition here at BeConnected. Learning about your customers, their needs, behaviors and desires is so important for any business. For those addressing specific geographic areas when developing new locations, products, services or experiences understanding Census data is critical. Here's a cool tool that allows you to analyze Census data based on a one, three and five mile radius from a given location or address.

AnalyGIS: Census/Map

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March 30, 2006 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

PodZinger: Search Engine for Podcasts

I've blogged before about the tools that are out there to discover and monitor relevant discussions and media mentions of your product, business, competitors and customers. By now you should be aware and using tools like RSS, Google Alerts, Technorati Watchlists, the search tools in your newsreader and other customer intuition tools that may be appropriate to your work flow.

 Images Logo-BigAs new forms of communication and media distribution develop savvy developers create new tools to help users search and monitor these new messages. This is exactly the case with PodZinger a search engine for podcasts and video podcasts. Drop your keywords into the search box and specific occurrences of those terms are discovered and highlighted for your review. You can watch or listen to specific clips of the entire podcast. Nice.

If you are a technology company and you want to track mentions of your new product PodZinger is a great tool to track product names and measure the buzz across podcasts.

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March 22, 2006 in Building Customer Intuition, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tom Peters' Blog on Defining Customers

Steve Yastrow over at tompeters.com has a simple definition of a customer:

Anyone whose actions affect your results.

Simple, succinct and broadly applicable. If we're talking about developing customer intuition and using tools to learn more about the background and happenings of our customers we better have a good definition. What do you think? Is this a good definition? Anything to add?

tompeters.com: Refine to Simplicity be sure to read the comments. Good stuff their too.

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March 10, 2006 in Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Customer Centric, Customer Intuition Tools, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Put These Entrepreneurial Proverbs on Your Radar

Screenshot 03-1Over at O'Reilly Radar as opposed to Radar O'Reilly, there's a great list of “Entrepreneurial Proverbs” that are intended for engineer types who want to start their own companies. Great bit size chunks for those looking to start a company or just wanting to shape some advice for someone who is.

Cool ideas are useless without great needs -- this is the classic engineers' entrepreneurial mistake (or at least I'd like to think so, since I've made it). Techies love tech, and a new technology can produce a lot of companies that don't really meet a need. Better to start with the need, and then see how what you know can produce a better answer to that need. (Marketers tend to have the opposite problem: real, pressing needs with completely unworkable solutions.)
Build the simplest thing possible -- engineers have the hardest time with this, with not overdesigning for the need they're addressing. Make the simplest possible product that makes a significant dent in that need, and you'll do far better than you would addressing two or three needs at once. Simplicity leads to clarity in everything you do.
Solve problems, not potential problems -- you can waste a lot of money implementing solutions for problems you don't have yet, and may never have. Work on the biggest, most pressing problems today, and put aside everything else.
Test everything with real people -- it's unbelievable how helpful this is. Go find civilians, real people who use computers because they have to and not because they love to. Find them in Starbucks, or at the library, or in a college computer lab. Give them $20 for 20 minutes, and you'll be paid back a hundred times over.

Read the rest of the list.

O'Reilly Radar: “Entrepreneurial Proverbs”

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March 9, 2006 in Building B2B Relationships, Business Marketing, Customer Centric, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Free Wikis at PBWiki

PBwiki logoIf you are looking for an easy to use and free place to build a wiki for your personal use, your work team, your company outing, your school play or anything else you can think to organize with the direct input of others I highly recommend you check out PBwiki, its a very easy to use wiki platform. It's true what they say-- PBwiki makes creating a wiki as easy as making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Uhmmmm Peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Now is the time to learn about all the uses for a wiki.

PBwiki: Get a free wiki at PBwiki.com.

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February 15, 2006 in Blogging Tools, Building Customer Community, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

A Whole New Mind Review at the BeTuitive Blog

BeTuitive designer Kat O'Connor joins the BeTuitive Blog with a really interesting review of Daniel Pink's new book A Whole New Mind

In A Whole New Mind, Daniel Pink’s operating theory is that we are coming upon a new business and economic revolution, and the business world is moving from the Information Age (based upon the “knowledge worker” whose primary skill set is logical, analytical, and data-oriented) to a Conceptual Age – an age of designers, empathizers, of people skilled in building relationships among people and synthesizing details and concepts into a new and original whole.

Sounds like another must read. Read the rest of Kat's review and see if you don't agree.

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February 13, 2006 in Blogs, Books, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Track Your Comments with coComment

coCommentI have been telling you for a long time now that you need to use the available Web Tools like Technorati, Feedster and PubSub to discover and track the conversations about your customers, your company and your products in the blogosphere. Beyond just discovering conversations you should join the conversations with constructive comments that add value to the conversations. Discovering blog posts good and bad about your product and responding in an authentic and transparent way is good for your business. It shows that you are listening and responsive to the needs of customers.

The problem comes when their are dozens of posts and you begin leaving comments all over the blogosphere. How do you know when others comment in response? You don't want to spend a lot of time manually checking each post to see if there are new comments. There's a new tool to help you track your commenting activity. coComment is a new service that helps you track your comments and see when others add comments to posts you have commented on. The service is in a private beta but go ahead and request and invitation. It seems they are sending them out within hours of your request. Not only can you track conversations you are participating you can get an RSS feed of your comments for your RSS reader. The service doesn't support all blogging platforms yet but is promising.

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February 9, 2006 in Blogging Tools, Blogs, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

5 Tips for Promoting your Blog to Popular Bloggers

OK, so by now you are totally “tuned-in” to blogs and all the wonderful things they can do to help spread the word about you, your company and your ideas. You've seen the power of good blog PR. A mention or two on a prominent blog and traffic to your own blog soars. But their doesn't seem to be any formula for getting those mentions. You keep sending those press releases and you submit every post you write to the popular sites but still the results are hit and miss. You decide to try harder. You begin to email everything to everyone hoping to up the percentage of signal by producing more noise.

Wrong, wrong wrong. You're thinking broadcast in a relationship world. Bloggers, especially popular bloggers, can smell self promotion a mile away. They aren't the PR department for your business or blog. They want relevant value for their own audience. They want information that fits their blog and their voice. If you want their help promoting your ideas you need to know and understand their ideas. This is more complex then building a bigger email list of “marketing” bloggers to whom you can spew send your latest press release. This is about using all the tips and tools of customer intuition to build your blog PR Intuition.

Participate - You need to seriously read and participate in conversations on blogs. Leave relevant value adding comments. Use trackbacks where appropriate.

Link - If you want popular blogs to link to you be sure that you have already linked to them.

Explain Yourself - Don't just submit a URL or send a press release, talk to the blogger. Write a brief personal message explaining why you think a blogger and their audience will be interested in what you have to say.

Thank A Blogger - When a popular blog links to you and you see a good pop in your traffic and/or more inbound links send a brief thank you. Most bloggers are interested in the effects of their blogging. They'll be interested in brief accounts of what their blog does for others.

Be Human - When you are looking to spread your ideas treat others like humans not just email addresses. It's not about broadcasting it's about relationships.

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February 2, 2006 in Blogs, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Use Good Email Habits to Enhance Communication With Customers

How well do you use email to communicate with customers? Many people still send sloppy emails. Concise, well written and efficient email communication can set you apart as someone customers want to deal with. Here is a great article from the great LifeHacker that's not to be missed.

LifeHacker: Geek to Live: Teach others how to use email

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January 20, 2006 in Building B2B Relationships, Business Marketing, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Marketing Communication | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I'm Curious...So I'm Asking

Recently, I have been in meetings and conferences and have seen lots of different solutions to how people manage all the stuff they carry around. So, I am curious...

Feel free to leave a comment with more details if you're so inclined.

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November 10, 2005 in Building Customer Intuition, Corporate Blogging, Current Affairs, Educating Clients and Prospects, Travel, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Writing Memorable Newsletters: Spreadability

Spreadability is the ease with which your ideas spread from person to person. It's two basic modes are newsletter forwards and workplace conversations. For readers to deem your newsletter of high value it needs to provide ideas that readers can use. Ideas that readers can apply in their own workflows, share with others in their organization or share with their professional networks are ideas that will keep subscribers reading each and every issue that you publish. Once you have the content ideas and you are properly using Themes with Focus and good Summaries it's time to make sure that those ideas are spreadable.

Practical Tips:
Tell Stories: Tell stories of how readers have used, discussed and spread your ideas. Use a sidebar column to profile readers and what and how they are learning from your newsletter. Readers will see how others are benefitting from your newsletter and be inspired to do the same.
Encourage Forwarding: Always include a forward to a friend mechanism. Readers may not use it but it plants the idea in their head that it's OK and a good thing to forward your newsletter to colleagues. Users may forward your newsletter using the forward function on their email application. While this isn't trackable through your email newsletter application it is the spread of your content and newsletter branding.
Blog Them: Continue the discussion about your ideas and content on a corporate blog. Once you move your readers from your newsletter to your blog it's just one click to move them to your corporate site. A blog is a good place for more information about your email newsletter content. You can receive feedback via comments, conduct polls, and drive other behavior through a blog.

Related:
Writing Memorable Newsletters: Summaries

Writing Memorable Newsletters: Focus
Writing Memorable Newsletters: Themes
Writing Memorable and Spreadable Email Newsletters
Storytelling vs. Story-Crafting
Why a Reader Forwards an Email Newsletter

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November 9, 2005 in Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, Creating a Company Newsletter, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Writing Memorable Newsletters: Summaries

Summaries also called blurbs are important for newsletters for several reasons. Effective summaries serve readers well because they allow readers to skim the headline and summaries of several articles “above the scroll.” Analogous to above the fold for newspapers. Many email publishers simply past the whole text of each article into the body of the newsletter. They assume people will read from to to bottom. While easy, this approach is overwhelming to busy readers. Multi-tasking readers are much more likely to skim and cherry-pick the content they are most interested in. Your newsletter will serve readers better by supporting this behavior. View the top screen of your newsletter as a table of contents with headlines and brief summaries or teasers for your content elements.

When writing these summaries keep in mind that what you are writing should be the two or three talking points that a reader will use to begin a discussion of the ideas in your article. These talking points are what comes after “I just read an interesting article about...”

If you want your email newsletters to add value to your readers lives it's important to write them in a way that makes it easy for readers to discover content they are interested in and help readers remember and talk about the ideas they read in your content. Relevant ideas they can talk about with their colleagues and coworkers are what will keep readers subscribed, forwarding your newsletters and valuing your company as a source for valuable information and know how.

Related:
Writing Memorable Newsletters: Focus
Writing Memorable Newsletters: Themes
Writing Memorable and Spreadable Email Newsletters
Storytelling vs. Story-Crafting
Why a Reader Forwards an Email Newsletter

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November 7, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Business Marketing, Creating a Company Newsletter, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Customer Intuition Failure: ATM Machines

AtmWhy is it that the bank that sends me statements in English asks me everytime I use an ATM machine if I feel like giving it a go in Spanish? Guess what bank? I'm going to select English every time.

Wouldn't it be better if you could just select a prefered language and have it programmed on your ATM card so the machine never had to ask you again?

As more and more self serve kiosks and automated systems take over the customer interactions there needs to be a common sense approach to their interface design. Just as people need to be intuitive about their customers so to the machines.

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November 6, 2005 in Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Centric, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Writing Memorable Newsletters: Focus

Once you have properly identified a theme for your newsletter issue it's important to stay focused on that theme. Many newsletters will contain one article on theme and then go on about filling the issue with a laundry list of scattered unrelated elements. Your readers are more likely to remember your newsletter as a valuable resource if all the elements of an issue support a particular theme. Everything from the subject line to the graphics, and pictures needs to play a supporting and reinforcing role.

Many publishers feel that each issue needs to “have something for everyone” and so they offer articles on a variety of subjects and themes. In doing this each topic is only addressed on a surface level and from one perspective. A focused newsletter issue provides multiple voices and perspectives and more in depth information. A focused newsletter can easily be labeled and filed for future reference or more importantly forwarded to friends and colleagues who your readers feel would benefit from the theme.

If you want your newsletter to demonstrate your companies thought leadership and industry expertise you should definitely do email newsletters with clear themes and focused content that supports and reinforces those themes.

Related:
Writing Memorable and Spreadable Email Newsletters
Writing Memorable Newsletters: Themes

Storytelling vs. Story-crafting
Why a Reader Forwards an Email Newsletter
Surprise and Delight Customers with Easter Eggs

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November 4, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Business Marketing, Creating a Company Newsletter, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Writing Memorable Newsletters: Themes

Remember, a theme for a newsletter is a one word or phrase that encapsulates or summarizes the subject of a given issue of your email newsletter. The theme helps in two ways. First, it helps you develop and filter content elements for the issue. Second, and more importantly, a theme helps your readers to grasp the value you are imparting to them. A well defined theme helps your readers remember your content and consequently your company.

Most publishing teams map out issue themes well in advance. Often times months in advance. This is a by product of the long lead times that traditional publications have. Magazines and print newsletters often require weeks and months for production, printing and mailing. But it's a new day. With electronic publishing it's possible to move much more quickly. In order to deliver the greatest value to your readers the more relevant and timely your theme the better.

How do you develop a theme? Ah, the key question. While many sales and marketing people would be quick to map out a schedule of themes based on the messages and stories that the company wants to broadcast this I think is a mistake. This turns your e-newsletter into an advertisement or worse spam. The best practice for developing email newsletter themes is to get elbow deep in the information and issues that are important to your readers. It's your customer intuition at work. The theme of your newsletters need to come from your knowledge of what your customers/readers want or need to know, not what you want them to know. How you weave your message and offering into that theme is your value as a producer/writer of your newsletter.

Practical Tips:
Talk to your customers - ask them what problems or issues keep them awake at night.
Monitor you customers - Use the Customer Intuition Tools that I blog about to monitor what's happening with your customers, their companies and their competition. Google Alerts and RSS feeds are your friends. Set up folders for each major customer in your newsreader.
Poll you readers - Consider using your permission marketing assets(email lists) to engage your readers in a poll or discussion about issues and topics that are relevant.
Talk to your Sales Department - Develop practices to discover what your sales people are hearing from their customers and prospects. Consider developing a group blog or wiki for capturing this information. Customer concerns questions and objections are a rich source of content ideas for your newsletter.
Monitor the Competition - Subscribe to as many of your competitors newsletters as you can so you can zig when the zag. You want to stand out and provide uniquely relevant and memorable content that will have your readers opening, remembering, using and forwarding your content every issue.

Related:
Writing Memorable Spreadable Email Newsletters
Storytelling vs. Story-crafting
Why a Reader Forwards an Email Newsletter

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November 3, 2005 in Building Customer Intuition, Creating a Company Newsletter, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Writing Memorable Spreadable Email Newsletters

Go to a coworker who subscribes to(but isn't involved in producing)your email newsletter and ask them what the theme and two or three key ideas are from the latest issue. If they can tell you you're on the right track. Now, call a customer and ask them.

If your coworker can't recall and articulate the theme or key ideas of your newsletter how can you expect your customers and prospects to remember what you have to say. I'd argue that two ideas that are remembered are worth much more than five or six that well presented ideas that aren't remembered.

Spreadable ideas are what increases the value of your newsletter in subscribers minds. If your idea is what follows “You know, I just read about...” when a reader speaks up in a meeting or around the lunch table chances are your open rates and “forward to a friend” rates will be increasing. Information, ideas and stories that readers can share and apply to their own lives is the definition of relevant. Relevant is what keeps subscribers reading and talking about your newsletter and your company.

So how do you do it? How do you craft relevant newsletters? Here are some ideas to get us thinking:

  • Themes - Think of themes as the one word or phrase summary of your newsletter issue. This is the answer to the question “What was the last issue of the newsletter about?” For example: The October issue of the BeTuitive newsletter (subscribe here)is about “Storytelling”
  • Focus- Every element of the issue should reinforce the theme. Craft every article, summary, news item, graphic, link, subject line etc. to in some way relate to and support the central theme. Too many newsletters are not memorable because the theme isn't clear.
  • Summaries - We all know that people skim online content. Your summaries or blurbs need to capture your readers fleeting attention. More than that your summaries become talking points when readers talk about your ideas and content. They literally can be the two or three memorable sentences that follow the “You know, I just read an article about...”
  • Spreadability - There are technical and structural issues about constructing email newsletters that aid their spreadability. Most people are very familiar with how to forward email. It's still important to include a “forward to a friend” link because it plants the idea in readers minds and gets them thinking subconsciously who in their relational network could benefit from this content.

I'll look at these ideas in more detail in the days to come. In the mean time go as that coworker what they remember from the last newsletter.

Related:
Storytelling vs. Story-crafting
Why a Reader Forwards an Email Newsletter

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November 2, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Business Marketing, Creating a Company Newsletter, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Writing Memorable Spreadable Email Newsletters

Go to a coworker who subscribes to(but isn't involved in producing)your email newsletter and ask them what the theme and two or three key ideas are from the latest issue. If they can tell you you're on the right track. Now, call a customer and ask them.

If your coworker can't recall and articulate the theme or key ideas of your newsletter how can you expect your customers and prospects to remember what you have to say. I'd argue that two ideas that are remembered are worth much more than five or six that well presented ideas that aren't remembered.

Spreadable ideas are what increases the value of your newsletter in subscribers minds. If your idea is what follows “You know, I just read about...” when a reader speaks up in a meeting or around the lunch table chances are your open rates and “forward to a friend” rates will be increasing. Information, ideas and stories that readers can share and apply to their own lives is the definition of relevant. Relevant is what keeps subscribers reading and talking about your newsletter and your company.

So how do you do it? How do you craft relevant newsletters? Here are some ideas to get us thinking:

  • Themes - Think of themes as the one word or phrase summary of your newsletter issue. This is the answer to the question “What was the last issue of the newsletter about?” For example: The October issue of the BeTuitive newsletter (subscribe here)is about “Storytelling”
  • Focus- Every element of the issue should reinforce the theme. Craft every article, summary, news item, graphic, link, subject line etc. to in some way relate to and support the central theme. Too many newsletters are not memorable because the theme isn't clear.
  • Summaries - We all know that people skim online content. Your summaries or blurbs need to capture your readers fleeting attention. More than that your summaries become talking points when readers talk about your ideas and content. They literally can be the two or three memorable sentences that follow the “You know, I just read an article about...”
  • Spreadability - There are technical and structural issues about constructing email newsletters that aid their spreadability. Most people are very familiar with how to forward email. It's still important to include a “forward to a friend” link because it plants the idea in readers minds and gets them thinking subconsciously who in their relational network could benefit from this content.

I'll look at these ideas in more detail in the days to come. In the mean time go as that coworker what they remember from the last newsletter.

UPDATE: Now with link goodness

Related:
Storytelling vs. Story-crafting
Why a Reader Forwards an Email Newsletter

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November 2, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Business Marketing, Creating a Company Newsletter, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Business Blogging Author Shel Israel Shares Some Insight

Israel's interview is mostly promotion for the business blogging book he coauthored with Robert Scoble but he does share this one excellent insight:

How can publishers specifically benefit from the blogging revolution? What are the major mistakes that publishers make when thinking about blogs?
Digital publishers as well as the traditional kind need to understand the fundamental shift from a broadcast model of “I talk, you listen” to a conversational model of “I talk first, then listen to you.” This is a huge change that benefits everyone because we all usually prefer a conversation to a lecture. Most major mistakes will be made by publishers who either try to game the blogging system with gimmicks, posting false comments and by not carefully listening to what people have to say to them even when the comments are critical.

True very true. What do you think? Seen any good corporate blogging?
Publish.com:
Why Corporate Blogs are Boring

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October 30, 2005 in Blogs, Books, Corporate Blogging, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Robert Scoble Wakes a Monster

Microsoft technical evangelist and prominent blogger Robert Scoble was invited to speak to Monster Cable about blogs and blogging. Monster is aware of the marketing challenge they have. Their site does not show up very well on search engines. They were unaware that the blogosphere is talking about Monster and boy will they get an earful when they tune into the conversation. Monster products are not well liked. A good blogging strategy might be able to stop the bleeding and perhaps turn the tide. Read the comments on Robert's post to get an idea of the tone of public opinion of Monster products.

I dare say that more and more companies are waking up to the fact that they need to be listening to what blogs are saying about their companies. At the same time corporations are at a loss for how to effectively use blogs for positive PR and crisis response. It's a delicate balancing act that requires experienced hands. A good reason to consider outsourcing your blog design, management and content creation. BeTuitive can help with all that.

Scobleizer: Visit to Monster Cable

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October 28, 2005 in Blog Outsourcing, Blogs, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Blogs: Friend or Foe?

Daniel Lyons has a piece on Forbes.com that takes as decidedly old school view to the potential harm that blogs and bloggers can inflict on companies, brands and products. Blogs and Bloggers are seen as something to defend yourself against. Complete with a sidebar that includes strategies for turning the lawyers loose, the article is clearly written with a one sided view that blogs are dangerous and a threat. While there are potential dangers in the blogosphere there are even more opportunities for forward looking companies that realize that there is more to be gained by participating in the customer conversations that are already taking place in the blogosphere.

Try this exercise. Google your company name. How many of the top 15 results are sites that provide your input and point of view on issues important to your business? Is your company even the number one entry? It's true what they say about search engines loving blogs for their focused, fresh and relevant content.

Forbes.com: Attack of the Blogs (reg req)

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October 28, 2005 in Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, Current Affairs, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What Should Casio Do in Response to Cory Doctorow's Post on Boing Boing

So what should Casio do now when the most widely linked and influential blog writes this just as they introduce a new product:

I'm an idiot. I bought another of these cameras, the S500, which is currently the top of Casio's line. It, too, has a screen that protrudes from the camera's body, and it, too, cracked within a month. The company is charging me another 90 pounds to fix this thing, and they've had it since October 4. No parts, you see.

So that's it for me and Casio -- it's a shame. The cameras are small, pretty and work well. But they suffer from flawed designs and a flawed manufacturer that treats repair customers like crap, and I can't think of a single good reason to go on giving them my business, no matter how cool this new six megapixel camera sounds.

Casio has a huge problem and they may not even know it. The above are the last two paragraphs of Cory Doctorow's post titled “Casio: cool cameras, terrible service -- buy something else” This is a full on crisis for Casio and their Exilim Digital Camera products as tens perhaps hundreds of thousands of potential customers have or will read this post. On any lessor blog this could be ignored but written by Cory on Boing Boing this is a problem.

What should Casio do in response?
They need to respond - Get a response put together within 24 hours and post-it somewhere where bloggers can link to it.
Engage Cory Doctorow in conversation - Send your response to Cory in hopes that he blogs about it. Apologize to him for his service problems and explain how you will fix the systemic problems. Don't send him a free camera! That will surely backfire. Bloggers want to be engaged in conversation not marketed to, spun or bought.
Solicit Feedback - Evaluate Cory's comments. Invite him and a small group of his expert friends (Cory has a lot of influential geek friends) to advise your company on how to make better products. You want to turn this negative into a positive and gain positive word of mouth in the blogosphere for future products.
Blog the entire process.

Companies large and small will increasingly face PR problems like these as bloggers and citizen reviewers build their following and influence. My best advice on how to be ready for this kind of very visible negative PR is to have already established a corporate blog that has already built a trusted communication channel and conversation with customers and prospects. If you aren't completely comfortable with the culture and practice of the blog world then consider outsourcing your blog to an experienced partner who can help you become an authentic voice in the blogosphere. As in any endeavor experience can mean the difference between a long painful DIY disaster or a much shortened learning curve and path to success.

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October 25, 2005 in Blog Outsourcing, Blogging Tools, Blogs, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, Current Affairs, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Audio Comments for Newsletters

How are you incorporating the omnipresent cell phone into your business? While many look to legislate against what they perceive to be rude behavior with cell phones the fact remains that they are a fact of life. Those businesses that can most effectively leverage their use will win. I've posted before about customer service and the frustration that customers have when seeking to solve a problem but their definitely is a role for automated telephone systems designed to take advantage of the fact that more and more people have a cellphone with them 24/7.

Outbound calls and marketing text messages are still hugely controversial but what about inbound calls and messages? Can marketing encourage calls for additional information, voicemail comments, polls and surveys, contests, sign-ups, etc.

I think there is a real difference when expectations are set up-front. When callers are informed upfront that they're calling an automated system they aren't frustrated by the inability to reach a human CSR.

Give it a try. In your next email newsletter try requesting specific audio comments to a voicemail box or answering machine. Some recipients won't take time to write out an email comment but they just might give you three or four minutes of valuable feedback by voicemail.

Related:
Polite is a Moving Target
Thinking About Customer Service

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October 24, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Creating a Company Newsletter, Customer Centric, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Storytelling vs. Story-crafting

These days marketing is all about the story. It's the story of the idea that lead to the creation of your business, the history of your company, the creative uses of your product, the experience of your service, the transformation that results from your experience. Whatever it is, it's all about the story and thus the storytelling. The storytelling techniques and venues are constantly changing. Just as mass communication grew through newspapers to radio to television the new media is evolving communication and storytelling. Electronics and internet connectivity are changing the game from mass communication and storytelling to individual communication and story-crafting.

Story-crafting is different than storytelling because the listener takes an active participatory role in how they consume the story. User generated content builds on the base framework created by marketers to create new narratives that are much more powerful and relevant to consumers. A forum or blog comment section that collects customer experiences, tips, recommendations, reviews, suggestions etc. is much more relevant to consumers than traditional marketing speak generated by the in-house copy writers. Trust has shifted. Consumers believe their fellow consumers perhaps more so than the company line.

Today customers or fans self organize into different levels of loyalty and devotion to your product, service or experience. In so doing they seek out different levels of connection to your brand. Some just buy your product, some refer you to friends and colleagues, some subscribe to your email newsletter, still others read and subscribe to your blog, a few subscribe to your podcast and somewhere out there somebody wants to tatoo your logo on their body. There's a hierarchy of brand loyalty and devotion. The examples are obvious and oft written about. Apple, Microsoft, Volkswagen, Disney, Harley-Davidson, Tom Peters, Starbucks, etc.

What's needed today is a comprehensive integrated approach to the use of the new tools and communication channels available to today's marketer. The tools keep coming. It's too easy to just grow haphazardly from email newsletters to blogs/RSS to audio podcasting to video pocasting with wikis, forums, chat rooms thrown in along the way. We're seeing some dazzling failures along the way as companies attempt to use these tools without understanding how best to integrate them into an overarching story-crafting strategy.

Today's marketers need to understand new media tools and just how they can and should be used to allow customers and prospects to enter into a participatory relationship with your brand that allows them to connect at a variety of levels with your ongoing stories. Not everyone will utilize all of your communication channels but their needs to be a strategy so that all the elements move the story forward and don't frustrate customers by simply duplicating messages across different media.

That's why it pays to consider outsourcing your customer communication like email newsletters and blogs to a company like BeTuitive Marketing, LLC because we bring a lot of experience and understanding of these new media tools and can help you craft overall strategies for building your relationships and sales with your existing and prospective customers.

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October 19, 2005 in Advertising, Blog Outsourcing, Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, Creating a Company Newsletter, Customer Centric, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Television, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Basics of Reading Customers: Birds of a Feather

Does your sales staff complain that marketing isn't sending them high quality leads? Maybe they need to know what good customers look like so they can better qualify the leads they are generating.

Do your CRM systems let your marketing people know what your best customer organizations look like? Often sales and marketing get very territorial about their separate data and systems. Shouldn't marketing people know what the current good customers look like so they can go find similar prospects? If organization A is a good customer it follows that organization B which looks just like organization A would be a good prospect. These organizations may be in different businesses but with similar needs or they may be in the same business yet different geographic markets.

Grouping your customers and prospects into different “flocks” based on criteria that is relevant to your business positions you to begin segmenting your mailing lists so that you can better speak to customers and prospects based on the scale of their operation, value of business they represent, geography, language, etc. Once you have a properly segmented list you can further target your communications to each different segment. Picture a trade show. You talk to each person differently based on what you learn and observe about them.

Properly managing an email newsletter program with numerous versions going to a number of segments of a mailing list adds significant complexity to your email marketing operations. But it's really the way to go. At BeTuitive our systems are set up to handle literally hundreds of different versions of client newsletters. We're finding it maximizes the ROI on email newsletters.

Related:
Basics of Reading Customers: Patterns
Basics of Reading Customers: Tone of Voice

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October 11, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Creating a Company Newsletter, Customer Centric, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Email Newsletter Outsourcing, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Writeboard: An Abstract Tool Gets A Metaphor

What's in a name?

Almost everything. In this day of hyper-connectivity and zero time for anything new a name that evokes a metaphor is everything.

 Images Writeboard LogoThe productivity tool giants at 37 Signals are getting a lot of buzz these days for their new product called Writeboard. Writeboard is a collaborative writing environment. A what? Despite their own objections Whiteboard appears to be a simplified Wiki. A what? A lot of people are just beginning to understand what blogs are and have no idea what a Wiki is. At least people can understand that blog is from the words web and log. They know what those words mean. “Wiki? Oh, that's a fruit from New Zealand isn't it?.”

Everybody knows what a physical whiteboard is and how to use one. People write on them, erase and revise. Multiple people can view and contribute to the content. It's a whiteboard the offspring of the school chalkboards of our youth. We understand.

That's the brilliance of the 37 Signals developers. They took a complex sounding term - Wiki and attached a simple metaphor and suddenly the complex is understandable. Their product features a trademark simplicity and clean design. It's not feature rich by design. They practice reactionary development where feature development will quickly respond to customer requests and ideas. Minor features are added on the fly. It's smart.

Give yourself a break and take 10 minutes to explore this tool and see how you can use it to collaborate with customers and coworkers.

You can read a more detailed review of Writeboard but it's pretty painless and free to just jump in and play with it yourself.

.

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October 3, 2005 in Blogging Tools, Business Marketing, Current Affairs, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Changing Music Industry: Roll Your Own Customer Relationships

No where are digital tools changing the customer relationship faster than the music business. Disintermediation is removing the recording industry(RIAA), traditional music distribution and sales (brick & mortar music stores), CD manufacturing and even radio stations from the space between the musicians and their customers (fans). These old school status quo interests aren't going quietly. We all watch in amazement as the industry sues it's former customers.

The future is unrolling around us and many musicians are finding effective ways to draw the ever shorter line that connects them to their fans. That line used to go through the record company, the recording studios, CD manufacturers, radio stations, media & PR to the fans. Now the line between musicians and fans runs from the musicians directly to their customers through the internet. New tools like blogs, wikis, podcasting, iPods, and the iTunes Music Store are allowing musicians to build their fan base in more connected intimate ways. No longer do fans have to turn to third parties like the entertainment media to quench their thirst for information about their favorite musicians. You want to know more about your favorite band? Now you can read their blog and subscribe to their podcast.

More than ever before musicians have the ability to communicate directly to their customers and build direct relationships. The permission assets of email lists, blog feed subscriptions, podcast subscriptions, etc. give bands the ability to market and deliver their story and music faster and more powerfully than ever before. Customers (fans) who are this connected will be eager to buy merchandise, attend concerts, patronize marketing partners and evangelize the brand.

The good news is more potential revenue for musicians as fewer and fewer intermediaries take a cut of the revenue. The downside is that the new skills and tools of marketing and PR are in the hands of musicians that may not be well educated and skilled at the business of promoting their creative output.

So if your teenage daughter's band is using Garage Band to record their music in the basement. You need to help her discover the new tools of the music business. Help her start a blog, start a podcast, submit her music to the Podsafe Music Network to get it played on podcasts, burn some CDs on her computer, set up to sell those CDs online through CD Baby, and open a CafePress store to sell band merchandise.

Help your young musicians to learn how to build relationships with their fans not just sell CDs. Whether they pursue their music or go into other fields the ability to build customer relationships will serve them well.

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October 2, 2005 in Blogging Tools, Blogs, Building Customer Intuition, Customer Centric, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Book Review for Email Newsletter Publishers

If you haven't seen it already the latest BeTuitive Book Club review is up over at the BeTuitive Blog. I am not saying what it is but if you are doing an email newsletter or considering it you don't want to miss it. That Susan Fisher knows her stuff and gives a worthy review.

The BeTuitive Book Club is part of the ongoing effort to bring you high quality relevant content for our own monthly newsletter. If you find that concise easy to read book reviews are valuable guides to help you know which marketing and business books are worth your time, you should sign-up for the free monthly newsletter.

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September 29, 2005 in Books, Business Marketing, Creating a Company Newsletter, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Email Newsletter Outsourcing, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Weblogs, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Business 2.0 Spots the Value of Customer Intuition

Business 2.0 spots the trend of building customer intuition. Their current edition includes an article about the trend of Companies Tap into Consumer Passion. The article talks about the increasing number of companies that are experimenting with user created advertising and product innovation. A key part of that is to keep your ear to the ground to discover your most passionate customers. The article mentions a technique that I've been advocating for a long time now. You need to be aware of what people are saying about your product, service and company. Use Technorati, PubSub, Feedster, Google and any other tool you can find to monitor internet conversations. When you find them, participate in them. An honest and timely personal contribution to a developing conversation can change the trajectory of a conversation from negative to neutral or even positive. You can't control the conversation but you can influence it.

The tricky part for companies isn’t discovering whether such passion for their products exists -- if eBay (EBAY) has taught us anything, it’s that there are enthusiasts for just about everything -- but where those customers can be found. In his book Democratizing Innovation, von Hippel says that “users on the leading edge of a target market often congregate at specialized events or sites that manufacturers can easily identify.” This involves more than ad hoc tactics such as shoe companies staking out inner-city basketball courts or automakers flocking to conventions where drivers flaunt their modifications; it’s also about continuously mining specialized search engines like Technorati and Daypop for postings relevant to their businesses.

Business 2.0 - Companies Tap into Customer Passion (via)

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September 28, 2005 in Building Customer Intuition, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Why a Reader Forwards an Email Newsletter

Seth's insight into the spread of viral ideas is important to anyone who does email newsletters they want readers to forward to their coworkers, contacts and friends.

For an idea to spread, it needs to be sent and received.

No one “sends” an idea unless:
a. they understand it
b. they want it to spread
c. they believe that spreading it will enhance their power (reputation, income, friendships) or their peace of mind
d. the effort necessary to send the idea is less than the benefits

No one “gets” an idea unless:
a. the first impression demands further investigation
b. they already understand the foundation ideas necessary to get the new idea
c. they trust or respect the sender enough to invest the time

This changes the perspective of the game. It's not what's in it for you as the publisher, it's what's in it for the readers. Does your newsletter provide value to it's readers or just call attention to your latest promotion or sale? It's the value added ideas that people will feel good about spreading.

Seth adds another insight that helps you shift your thinking from “Us” to “Them”:

Notice that ideas never spread because they are important to the originator.

Take a hard look at your email newsletter efforts and ask yourself who are these ideas important to. If you want your message and the source of your messages(your company) to spread you best pay attention to the value of the message presented.

Seth: What Makes an Idea Viral?

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September 27, 2005 in Business Marketing, Creating a Company Newsletter, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Basics of “Reading” Customers: Tone of Voice

Tone of Voice - Reading a customer' mood by interpreting their tone of voice is a dodgy thing. It requires a lot of intuition that is developed through practice and experience. Those who have lasting relationships in their personal lives may be better at this than those without long relationships. In intimate relationships this is an essential skill to understanding and communicating with your partner. In business it could be seen as simply good customer service or it could be seen as a valuable aspect of a relationship.

A good place to start developing your ability to “read” tone of voice is to be aware of how you are sending messages in the tone of your voice.

The other day I was in a bookstore cueing at the cash wrap ready to make a purchase. The clerk at the counter spent a huge amount of time helping a single customer track down a missing CD that she ordered. My patience grew shorter and shorter as time passed and the cue got longer behind me. Here was a clerk following the letter of the procedure while the spirit of good service was ignored. Finally, through no action of the clerk a manager appeared at the counter and proceeded to assist the clerk with the non-sale. Finally, she began to assist those in the cue. I was sending the message of my displeasure through body language and tone of voice. The manager simply ignored these signals and proceeded with the sales script. I can't stand it when a sales person ignores my obvious disinterest or anger and asks me if I want to apply for their membership card, a credit card or worse give them my email address. Is it not obvious that an angered customer isn't about to join a club or apply for your stores credit card? Resolve my displeasure and provide a relevant persuasive explanation and maybe I'd consider it.

Sales people are often trained to follow the procedure or script in all circumstances. Rarely are they trained to “read” the customer, determine their mood, respond or interact appropriately, build a rapport, present a viable and relevant sales proposition and convert. Twice the energy? You bet. Worth the effort? Absolutely. Better customer relationships and long term customer interest and potential loyalty.

In all your interactions today, think about your tone of voice and just what you are or are not communicating.

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September 27, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Centric, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Building Customer Relationships: Note Taking

Earlier I mentioned the importance of tracking contact communication patterns. I suggested taking notes on each communication you have with your customer and prospect contacts. While this sounds labor intensive it sets you up to deepen your relationship with your contacts.

Being able to quickly pull up detailed notes about each contact gives you the opportunity to build your relationship with that contact by “remembering” relevant details from prior communications.

When Jane calls you'll have more than just her order history at your finger tips. Your notes will help you build your personal relationship and rapport with her by recalling her wedding anniversary because she mentioned the date in a phone call 14 months ago. Oh, and it's soccer season and you read on her blog that her middle son plays, so you ask her how he's playing.

These personal touches are appreciated in a world of self service and high volume customer communication.

Your contacts will be so touched by the details you “remember” that they won't care that you are using a database(instead of brainpower) to catalog and recall them.

Related Category Archives:
Building B2B Relationships
Building Customer Intuition
Customer Intuition Tools

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September 26, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Basics of “Reading” Customers: Patterns

Patterns - How fast do your contacts respond to phonecalls, voicemail, faxes, emails and blog posts/comments? If your contacts haven't stipulated a preferred communication channel their response time and thoroughness of response will indicate a preference. The important thing is to look for patterns of normal activity so you can react when patterns are abnormal.

A customer that always responds to your emails within the hour who suddenly let's a day or half a day pass before responding is a sign that something has changed in their world that may or may not be relevant to your relationship. Perhaps it's time for a telephone call or a personal visit. They may have new responsibilities and congratulations are in order or perhaps there is a business crisis in progress that you may be abl to assist them with.

A contact that never initiates communication is found to be commenting on your blog regarding a new product. They are also found to not open your email newsletter. Suddenly they have opened your last three newsletters and read all three articles about the same new product. She's in the market to buy or is at least very very interested in the product. She may be researching for a friend and ready to refer you. A contact is in order.

The point is you need to be developing your sensitivity and awareness to patterns of communication that can indicate changes in your business relationships. Get in the habit of making notes about these patterns in your contact management program or your CRM app.

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September 25, 2005 in Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Weekend Projects for the Kids

Want to keep your kids occupied this weekend? Need to turn mad video game skills into mad science skills? Need to keep yourself away from the constant hurricane Rita coverage?

How about a project. Howtoons are great “how to” cartoons to inspire kids (and adults) to build simple kid friendly projects like air blasters, marshmallow shooters, soda rockets, fart machines, cd hovercrafts, etc. These are a great diversion to get kids interested in science and engineering. Worth a look.

Howtoons at instructables.com

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September 23, 2005 in Current Affairs, Educating Clients and Prospects, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Something You Need to Understand

If you're new to the whole Web 2.0 thing where mass media is increasingly becoming “My Media” there's a nice intro at Business Week. It's pretty important to understand the huge shift from places(sites) on the web to services where users are creating there own experience and content. It's more than just blogs. Bring on RSS, wikis, photostreams, web apps, social bookmarking, podcasting and other new actions to the web. At this point you are either in front of your customers, employees, coworkers and competitors or behind them in your use and understanding of this new world. I suggest you learn as much as you can about the Web 2.0 so that you can lead, catch-up or identify what hit you. This piece at Business Week is a good start.

It's a Whole New Web via SvN

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September 22, 2005 in Blogging Tools, Blogs, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Listening to Customers

Interesting post on how to listen to customers. Examines how various groups from Influential Observers right on through Early, Middle and Late Adopters. Good stuff to help you balance product feedback from various types of customers.

User triangulation: how to listen to customers

Related:
Knowing When Your Customers Blog
Staying Alert to Your Customers

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September 22, 2005 in Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Personal R&D: Reading and Discovery

Your plane was just delayed and now you have 30 minutes on your hands. What to do?

Sure you could get a coffee, browse a bookstore, watch Hurricane news on the overhead monitors or....

You can deliver as much value to your network as you possibly can. Open your email address book. Scan the list and look for connections waiting to be made. Who should be introduced. What news stories, magazine articles or blog posts have you read recently that should be forwarded to someone in your network. Don't just tickle people for the sake of keeping the relationship live. Always deliver value to the relationship. Build the understanding in your contact's mind that communication from you whether it's a meeting, email or phone call will always be worth their time.

How can you constantly be ready with something for everyone? Well, you can't. Not everyone all the time but you can be ready for the right people at the right time.

The key is managing your personal R&D. In this case reading and discovery.

Read Strategically - Let your reading list grow out of your relationship network. When considering what to read consider who you know who is reading this same thing. Scan the desks, coffee tables, bookcases, carry-on bags, purses, briefcases, etc. of your coworkers, customers, prospects, competitors, etc. Discovering what someone is reading will give you clues to how they think and thus how you can work with them and add value to their lives.

For example: You're on a flight and you meet an executive across the aisle. She's in an industry you don't know a lot about. You sense there is an opportunity to follow-up and open a sales conversation with her. You notice a copy of a trade journal tucked into her laptop bag. After the flight find and read that trade journal so that your follow-up communications can include discussions of issues relevant to her business. She will feel that you value the information she values. It's a good first step to building a relationship.

Discovery - Cultivate your curiosity. Develop your power of observation. Make a game of it. Pretend you are an intelligence officer and practice noticing everything in your environment. Look for connections, patterns and cause and effect relationships. Watch human behavior. Notice advertising. Study new products when you come across them. Meet new people. All these things will develop your social skills and help you understand differences in how people behave and react to what you say and do. Most importantly actively noticing, observing and analyzing your environment and the people around you will help to make and keep you interesting. You'll always have insightful stories, humorous anecdotes and fresh ideas to share with the people you know and those you meet.

For example: You're in sales and marketing for a software company. On the subway ride to the meeting you notice just how many people have white wires running out of their ears. iPod listeners. When walking through a customer's office you notice that many of the young staffers are listening to iPods. In conversation with your contact you learn about half a dozen training needs the company has that surround your products. On the way back to your office an iPod ad reminds you of the article you read last night about podcasting. The light bulb goes on! The next day you propose a series of podcasts addressing the training issues you learned about the day before.

It's obvious that people are drawn to those who they know are interesting, funny and insightful. It's more important than ever to be that person. Being knowledgeable is the baseline. Being entertaining, insightful and helpful is more important than ever.

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September 21, 2005 in Advertising, Blogs, Books, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Centric, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication, Travel | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Great Resource for Google Search Techniques

Here's one to bookmark. Ever have a problem finding exactly what you need in Google? Here's a page that explains all the special tips and techniques for searching on Google, Google Images and Google News. Very handy and useful stuff.

Google Search Techniques via Lifehacker

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September 19, 2005 in Blogging Tools, Customer Intuition Tools, Educating Clients and Prospects, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Five Things for Employers and Their New Hires

Do you have a new employee starting Monday? Here's a nice list of Five basics that should help you get off to a good start with your new hire.

1. Why you hired them.

2. How to work with you.

3. How to talk to you.

4. How you expect the customer to be treated.

5. Your vision for the company

Read the details at lifehack.org.

Five Things Need to Learn from You

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September 18, 2005 in Current Affairs, Educating Clients and Prospects | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Polite is A Moving Target

Reading a post over at Signal vs. Noise about overly polite customer service reminds me that polite is a moving target. Whether a customer service rep is polite or rude is in the mind of the customer not the script or training of the CSR. Some customers want all business in their transactions some want 90% socializing and 10% business. Most are somewhere in between.

The key is not to respond with blanket training and scripting trying to hit courteous or polite. Train customer intuition into your front-line staff. Teach cultural differences, geographical differences, political differences, racial differences, religious differences and any other relevant category differentiation that's relevant to your customer base. Teach the cues that can help you read a person and better communicate with them.

Armed with some understanding of who people are and what their world view is, your people can better communicate and build relationships with customers and prospects.

For example: If I meet someone new and discover through their cues (i.e. age, accent, word pronunciation, tone of voice, etc.) that they are from the south I am going to ask them different questions and show them respect in different ways than someone from the northeast. I am certainly going to ask them how they and their family have been impacted by Hurricane Katrina.

You could train sales people to strictly adhere to the scripts or you could train your sales people to be expert people readers and be ready to adapt on the fly to the many cues their customers and prospects are putting out there. Cues about who they are that can be utilized to build better relationships and better communication. Which do you think would work better?

SvN: Customer Service That's Too Polite

Related:
Thinking About Customer Service

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September 16, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Customer Centric, Customer Intuition Tools, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Another Example of Why Blogging Experience Matters

Picture 3-1If you are meetings and the word “blog” comes up and someone says that your company ought to do one “because everyone is doing it” be very careful. If you make missteps your efforts might go viral but in a bad way. That's exactly what is happening to Wrigley's Juicy Fruit blog. It's not really a blog but just a dated text window that some marketer slapped blog on because it sounded cool for the kids.

So what's the big deal?

Well this so called blog elicited this post from the Boing Boing blog:

Juicyfruit gum has a blog and boy does it suck
How bad does Juicyfruit's blog suck? Let's count the ways.
1. You can't enter the blog directly. You must enter through the main page.
2. You have to wait a long time for the main screen to load up its Flash garbage.
3. You have to wait another eternity for the “blog” to load.
4. The text window for the blog content is the size of a postage stamp.
5. There's only one entry in the text window.
6. The navigation is as confusing as the zero-G toilet in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
7. The actual content is as bland as a piece of Juicyfruit with the flavor chewed out.

“So What? It's just one blog.” you say. That's true but that one blog has about 290,000 visits a day and perhaps four times that in RSS subscribers. Everyone in the blogosphere reads Boing Boing. Talk about bad PR! This is bad PR on steroids.

So if you are about to start a corporate blog for the B2C or B2B market you need to consider hiring an experienced consultant. Someone with a lot of blogging experience who can accelerate your learning curve and even help you navigate through a PR crisis like Juciy Fruit's or UPS mentioned previously. Our blogging team at BeTuitive can help you out.

Boing Boing post

Juciy Fruit “blog”

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September 15, 2005 in Blog Outsourcing, Blogging Tools, Blogs, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, Current Affairs, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Food and Drink, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

UPS vs FedEx: One Experience...Shared with more than a few friends.

Everyday there are examples of the power of blogging to influence customers and prospects. Here's a little post for the very popular Signal vs. Noise blog.

A comparison of some real-world contingency design at two leading shippers.

I had to call FedEx and UPS this week and pick up packages at both locations because I missed the deliveries at my house.

When I called FedEx I got through to someone in about 12 seconds.
When I called UPS I actually called three separate times because I was on hold for over 10 minutes each on the first two calls and hung up. On the third call I had to wait 21 minutes until someone answered.

When I visited FedEx, their location was bright, fairly friendly, carpeted, and overall pleasant. My package was brought to the front desk within seven minutes of giving them my info slip. When I visited UPS, their location was dungeon-like: a windowless steel door marked “CUSTOMER PICKUP” in poorly aligned all-caps, a cracked cement floor, cold florescent lights, a TV in the corner with horrible reception, afterthought plastic chairs, and a woman behind the desk with a matching attitude. I swear it felt like an interrogation room. It took too long for them to bring my package to the desk.

Just one experience, but a lasting one.

Typical customer service type rant right? The kind of thing that circulates among coworkers and friends everyday. What's different here is the ability for others to join the conversation. As of this writing there are 46 comments. This is not surprising when you see that their are over 13,400 subscribers to the blog.

UPS and FedEx can't really worry about those conversations about them that few people hear. This however becomes something else all together. This is why you need to use web services and tools to track and participate in important conversations that are relevant to your business. Step one is hearing the conversation. Step two is responding appropriately. Hint: A C&D letter is like gasoline on the fire. There are better ways. It's perhaps the number one reason to hire a blogging consultant that can help you formulate your responses in a way that's well received in the new world of the blogosphere.

UPS vs FedEx: One experience:

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September 15, 2005 in Advertising, Blogging Tools, Blogs, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Google Gets Their Blog Search On

The blogosphere is all atwitter today about the sparkly new Google Blog Search that went live today. This is important because many, perhaps most, clients and prospects don't know how to search with Technorati, PubSub, or Feedster, but they do know how to use Google and Blog Search is part of Google. Wouldn't it be great if more people could find your business through your blog? I think the entrance of Google into the blog search world will make that happen. Of course, you have to have a blog before it can be found by Google or any of the other tools listed above.

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September 14, 2005 in Blogging Tools, Blogs, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, Current Affairs, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Webinar Q&A and Building Permission Email Lists

I just sat in on Todd's webinar. Fantastic information but even better was the Q&A that Todd had with attenders from all over the world. One caller asked a good question about building an email list. Todd gave him some good advice about the usefulness of using an opt-in list broker. There's not much ROI to be had there. Better to partner with industry trade publications who maintain smaller yet more targeted lists.

One of my favorite techniques for building an email list is to extend your hand full of value for your potential subscribers. Give them a free taste of your expertise through a blog or a white paper that presents your unique viewpoint or approach to solving problems for your customers. A well written white paper properly promoted can drive traffic to your website and subscribers to your email newsletter. Once you have a high value article or white paper it makes it easy to ask clients and prospects to visit your website to download a copy. On the download page you can offer to register them to hear from you regularly through an email newsletter. The download needs to also include a link to subscribe or opt in to receive your newsletter.

That said I want to encourage you to be a part of Todd's next webinar coming up on October 5th at 1 p.m. central time. Be sure and be ready for the Q&A time. Want to be sure you get a reminder alert? Sign-up for the BeTuitive Newsletter and you'll hear more about this and other upcoming webinars. Of course if you don't find value to the newsletter after a few issues you can always unsubscribe at any time.

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September 8, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Creating a Company Newsletter, Current Affairs, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Email Newsletter Outsourcing, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Four Steps to A Fantastic Email Newsletter: Free Webinar Today!

Todd Smart, President of BeTuitive Marketing, LLC has been giving talks lately on Four Keys to Creating Fantastic Email Newsletters. Today at 12 CDT he's doing a free webinar talking about the four keys and more. A great way to spend your lunch hour.

Free Webinar
Today 12 CDT
Four Steps to Fantastic Newsletters
Todd Smart

Sign Up for the Webinar by email

If you haven't done the Webinar thing, come on along it's easy. Simply email Sarah and she will send you a URL, a phone number and pin number. At the appropriate time you go to the URL and dial in on the phone number. You'll see graphics on the website and hear the audio on your phone. Cool, no?

Related:
Todd Smart: FAQ on Email Newsletters
How to Send an Email Newsletter
Sign-up for the BeTuitive Monthly Newsletter

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September 8, 2005 in Creating a Company Newsletter, Current Affairs, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Email Newsletter Outsourcing, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Can You Talk The Talk?

We all have had the experience of talking to a sales person who doesn't know our business. Back in the day I certainly wanted to throw out many an uneducated sales person. It's a catch 22...no experience...no sales...no sales...no experience. But sales teams need to do everything they can do to learn not just about companies but also about the roles, challenges and expectations of the executives. Do your sales and marketing teams understand and correctly use industry terms and jargon?

Here's a tool that says it does just that. As always your milage may very. Worth a look.

Executive Link is the FIRST and ONLY tool that links your sales team to executives roles. Executive Link details the issues they face, others that are effected by these issues, industry trends, industry terms, and solutions your company offers. We even give you the ability to customize the solutions to your products or services!

Executive Link

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September 7, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Customer Intuition Tools, Educating Clients and Prospects, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Have You Read Knock Knock?

If you haven't seen this it's well worth the clicks and a few minutes reading 40 very short pages that will create a new vision for how your organization uses the web. It's a must read. It will make you think.

Knock Knock, a new free ebook from Seth Godin

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September 7, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Customer Centric, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

How to Send an Email Newsletter

A lot of people are getting started with email newsletters. It's because permission marketing e-newsletters work. Not only do they communicate important information about a company and their offerings or promotions they can provide a wealth of information if they are tracked properly. Many new email marketers are challenged by success. Most marketers start with a smaller list and simply use rudimentary tools to create and send small scale bulk email newsletters. The challenge comes when you need to scale your list and your sending capacity. Common tools like Microsoft Office and Outlook can only handle limited lists.

When you are figuring out how to send email newsletters don't forget that a successful effort will lead to growth of your list and the importance of the content you include. When your list grows significantly one of the opportunities you have is to segment your list based on identifiers of your subscribers. Why should everyone receive the message in the same way? If you self publish, this can complicate your life dramatically. You need to compose multiple(perhaps hundreds) of different versions of each issue of you e-newsletter, you need to segment your list and send those different versions to the different segments. You can see how this complicates the administration process.

While that's taking up your time you need to produce high quality content that performs. If you are struggling to keep up with a successful newsletter you certainly don't want the quality of your newsletter to vary from issue to issue. If your quality dips subscribers will unsubscribe in droves. Producing and writing a consistent high quality email marketing newsletter takes a lot of planning and time.

All of that and we haven't even talked about the opportunities for specific sales lead information. Properly designed email newsletters can provide trackable click streams that can be interpreted to determine real sales leads for your sales departments.

All of this gets overwhelming. So you look for solutions. One option is to get some more sophisticated email software that has some increased functionality for sending email newsletters. These can be extremely costly for individual companies and present new administrative headaches as you now have a new learning curve to deal with.

A better option is to go with an outsourcing company who can utilize state-of-the-art software to compose, manage and send your newsletters. An outsourced solution to your email marketing can provide a full solution from list building, segmentation management, content creation, bulk email sending, sales lead mining, performance reporting, etc.

Sure you could add staff and sophisticated software or you can get started and achieve your ROI targets faster by outsourcing your efforts. We're not talking about off-shoring, we're talking about taking just three minutes to request a pricing quote from a group of email newsletter professionals in Chicago. Requesting a price quote simply begins a dialog about how BeTuitive Marketing LLC can create a solution that helps you grow your relationships and build your business.

Related:
FAQ on Email Newsletters
Top 5 Reasons to Outsource Email Newsletters
Marketers Need to Segment Their Lists

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September 6, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Creating a Company Newsletter, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Email Newsletter Outsourcing, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Hugh Macleod: Maybe Katrina is for wiki's what 9/11 was for blogs.

Uber blogger/copy writer/ cartoonist Hugh Macleod wonders if the Hurricane Katrina disaster aftermath might catapult the wiki into the mainstream like 9/11 and I think the Asian Tsunami brought blogs onto the main stage. If you don't know what a wiki is you soon will when the big media discovers that many many loved one's are using them to reach out for information about family and friends impacted by the hurricane.

A wiki is site made up of one or more reader generated and/or edited web pages. Visitors to the site can log in and edit the information themselves. In a sense it's like a digital bulletin board where anyone can add or remove a note. Most wikis have a history log so that changes can be reversed and tracked helping to avoid data vandalism.

In the case of Hurricane Katrina various wikis are growing to facilitate the exchange of information. Hugh has a round-up of hurricane wikis.

Of course, the grand daddy of all wikis is the Wikipedia which is a reader developed encyclopedia that relies on thousands of readers to contribute the current 713,558 of articles on a vast array of topics.

Hugh's Passing thought:

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September 2, 2005 in Blogging Tools, Blogs, Current Affairs, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Television, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Katrina Sparks Interest in Data Security

Right now, other than giving money to the Red Cross for Hurricane Katrina Relief, maybe the best thing you can do to ensure your own companies disaster recovery preparedness is to consider your options for offsite data backup services. Cnet reports that there is a significant uptick in interest and sales of this kind of emergency preparedness technology. It may not be a hurricane but your data could be at risk from different disasters like floods, fires, earthquakes, etc. Even theft could be a risk for your data. Might be time for a look.

Cnet on Offsite Backup Services

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September 2, 2005 in Current Affairs, Educating Clients and Prospects, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Todd Smart: FAQ on Email Newsletters

Hey, no kidding, I am more and more impressed with the BeTuitive Newsletter. I am not on the team that publishes that baby so every month I get a chance to read it fresh just like everyone else who has signed up for it.

This month's issue has several great items in it. I am going to link to one of them but if you find it valuable you should take just two minutes and make sure you sign up to receive future issues directly.

In the August issue Todd Smart, President of BeTuitive, presents some insights into the use of email newsletters for marketing. It's a great piece responding to several frequently asked questions about email newsletters. Here's just one answer that I found interesting:

How do we decide on content?

Todd: You must make the recipient's life better in some way with the information you provide. It's different with every business. The surest way to go about it is to ask referral sources, prospects and customers what their pain points are. Ask them: “What information would be so valuable to you right now that you'd be willing to pay for it?” Create, find or buy that information — and then give it to them for free to grow your relationships.

What content to put into your newsletter is only part of the whole picture. Is also important to understand how your newsletter can work for you:

How do you turn what people are reading into leads?

Todd: What I know for sure is this: What people read is a leading indicator for future purchasing.

Take me — I'm not a car guy, and I don't seek out information on cars unless I'm in the market for one. Then, when I'm looking to buy, I buy magazines and look up all kinds of information to help me make the right decision. Anyone with the power to track my reading behavior would know that I'm looking to buy a car.

For instance, we have a client who wants to measure interest in Voiceover IP. So, we run articles in their newsletter with headlines like, “Pre-planning for VoIP.” That information
[click-thrus] can easily be fed to sales as a lead.

Todd has more valuable nuggets to share. Read these and also find out four keys to doing a great newsletter.

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September 1, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Creating a Company Newsletter, Current Affairs, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Email Newsletter Outsourcing, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Money Saving Last Minute Travel Booking

As gas prices continue to go up and the effects ripple through travel related businesses we will probably see even more of these kinds of pricing anomalies. I would suggest experimenting when booking last minute travel as the bundling agreements of travel aggregators may do nice things for you also.

I recently made a one-night trip from Houston to Chicago with very little notice. I managed to save almost $200 off of the lowest-price plane ticket by adding a hotel room at a Super 8 outside of Gary, IN, which I didn’t use.
A quick look at Travelocity shows me that it was no fluke- for brief trips with very little notice, it’s much cheaper to book a flight to Chicago if you book a room at a Super 8 at the same time. At the time that I originally wrote this post, Delta would sell a flight from Houston to Chicago for $616 without a hotel room, $340 with. If I needed to leave tomorrow, I could buy a ticket on American for $606 without a hotel room, or $350 with.

It used to be that one would book a cheaper round trip ticket when you only needed a one way ticket but now there are other options for getting a deal. Good tip.

Crooked Timber on Last Minute Travel Booking

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August 31, 2005 in Educating Clients and Prospects, Travel, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

RFID Used to Gain Customer Intuition for British Homebuilder

A British homebuilder is using an active RFID system to study how a typical British family lives in one of their model homes. The family agreed to where RFID bracelets that tracked their movements throughout the house while they lived there. The goal is to determine which features of the design actually get used. Dinning Room? Sunken Bathtub? Basement space? Decks? Hot Tubes?These are some of the elements under scrutiny.

The standard layout of British houses derives from what people's needs were in the days before TV and 50-hour work weeks, Birbeck points out. “If it's true that today adults are only in the house and consciously awake three hours a day and that they spend half that time pampering themselves in the bathroom, what's the point of a huge living room?” he asks.

More and more technology is being used to track and understand customer behavior and preferences. Privacy advocates hate tracking systems but handled properly these kinds of systems can generate valuable insights that can help business' better serve their customers.

Sometimes it's as easy as a review of the video of customers using your product or service. What insights have technological systems brought to your understanding of customer behavior?

Business Week: Home Design

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August 31, 2005 in Building Customer Intuition, Current Affairs, Customer Centric, Customer Intuition Tools, Educating Clients and Prospects, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Geeks Get Their Customer Intuition On

Flickr Logo-1Two geeks wondered which days of the week are the most popular for pub/bar going. They sought a geek solution to the answer. They decided to analyze the dates on Flickr photos that are tagged “pub” or “bar.” The logic is simple. People who go out drinking are likely to take pictures of their friends and upon uploading them to Flickr are probably tagged with either pub or bar.

While this is an unscientific analysis done by a couple of code geeks just for fun it does point to the practicality of using consumer generated media and social software to gather customer intuition.

If you were a bar or pub owner you'd do well to set up an RSS feed to monitor flickr photos taken in and around your establishment. If you make and/or sell widgets of one kind or another you should also monitor tags and photo pools that are relevant to your industry, company, product, service, etc.

Arm Chair Sociology With Flickr

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August 30, 2005 in Building Customer Intuition, Customer Intuition Tools, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Today's To-do Items

After seeing the pictures coming out of the gulf states here in the US in the wake of Hurricane Katrina I'd like to encourage you to take up an office or company wide collection to donate to the Red Cross. Ten people giving ten dollars equals $100 for disaster relief. Once you've done that consider other ways you and your company can assist your customers, suppliers, family members, etc. who are in the areas hit by the devastating storm. The right thing to do in these situations also builds good will with your customers and prospects. We see it in the advertising of consumer companies. Why not do something remarkable as a company and have a really good story next time you sit down to write a email newsletter.

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August 30, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Business Marketing, Creating a Company Newsletter, Current Affairs, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I'm in For it Today

I am headed to the airport later today for a quick weekend getaway to attend a wedding. The airport goal, as always, is to deal with as few humans as possible. I'll be using ATMs, Kiosks and any other automated system I can find. It's not that I don't like interacting with people, I really do. The reality is that it's a lot faster to move through people-less. People are busy answering questions and handling customer problems. They often don't have the time or interest to deal with the routine traveller. Some are better than others but overall I have found that the kiosks and automated systems work faster on average provided you have learned to use them properly. A few minutes learning a new system can save a lot of time in the future. It's the same reason I always prefer the self checkout systems where available.

Are any of your customers struggling to use your automated systems? From your website to your telephone system automation is pervasive in today's business environment. An FAQ about your automated systems would make a great content item for an email newsletter.

On Monday I'll let you know how things went.

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August 26, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Creating a Company Newsletter, Current Affairs, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Travel, Web/Tech, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Movie Producers Face a Huge Crisis of Customer Intuition

The New York Times has a rather obvious report on the clear customer intuition crisis that the movie industry is facing. The movie industry appears with few exceptions to be in a downward spiral of poor quality products that perform poorly due to external competition, distribution competition and poor customer experience.

Customers are finding alternatives for their entertainment time and money. Gaming, internet use, books, Tivo dumping and even board games are contributing to reduced movie ticket sales.

Prices are dropping for new and used DVDs. Prices will continue to drop as customer collections mature. Publishers will discount their offerings to boost sales. Competition from Netflix and discount retailers will also drive pricing down. Customers are also drawn to TV shows on DVD. The smaller chunks of entertainment may have a real appeal. Customers can watch 20, 30, 60 minute stories without having to commit to a full 90 or 120 minute film.

Home theaters are becoming more prevalent. Large screen TVs with or without surround sound are becoming a real convenient option for time and increasingly fuel starved customers. Why go out when a superior experience can be had at home.

Customer experience is becoming a real problem. As multiplexes look for multiple sources of revenue and turn to advertising, high priced concessions and arcade games they are creating an experience that is only tolerated by teenagers who have different standards of acceptable theater behavior. Talking, seat switching, cellphone use, etc. are behaviors that are not well tolerated by older(35+) moviegoers. This encourages older customers to stay home and watch DVDs on their home theaters. When the rare movie designed to appeal to baby boomers is released theater owners and movie studios wonder why older movie goers don't come out to the theaters.(Witness the theatrical disappointment of Cinderella Man) They don't have enough customer intuition to see that they have designed their customer experience to be unfriendly to precisely the customers who can most afford the alternatives of DVD collections and home theaters.

Is your customer experience driving customers to do more business with you or to seek alternatives? Over time your customer base may have shifted. Are you still aligning your customer communications and experiences to who your customers really are?

NYT on the Movie Business

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August 25, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Current Affairs, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Television, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Top 5 Reasons to Outsource Your Email Newsletter

Sarah Eaton has been doing a great series on the top reasons to outsource your email newsletter. This is great advice. She's only part way through her list so you'll want to grab the BeTuitive blog feed so that you can read the rest as she post's them.

And the number five reason why it's a good idea to outsource your newsletter?  It combines elements of some of our previous ideas (as seen below).  <b>You get a designer, an editor, a writer, a list manager, a strategy team.  You get all of those things, for the price of hiring one person to work on your newsletter for you in house</b>.  That's right: a whole bunch of brains for the price of one. 
5.  Multiple brains for the price of one.
4. 
Design that pops and complements the custom content.
3. 
Professional writing and editing services at your disposal.
2. 
You're working with experts; you can let go of the worry.
1. 
Because you're so flippin' busy

This is great advice for anyone just starting out to create an email newsletter or anyone looking for a way to work smarter not harder. The first step is to check out BeTuitive and request some Pricing to see how outsourcing can save the day and better serve your customers.
Multiple Brains for the Price of One

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August 25, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Business Marketing, Creating a Company Newsletter, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Email Newsletter Outsourcing, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Any Stories From Back in the Day at A Dot Bomb?

Interesting list of dot bombs on c|net.

Top 10 Dot-com Flops

Anybody got a Marketing or Customer Intuition story from one of these companies? Leave it in the comments.

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August 24, 2005 in Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Finish Well: Tips for the End of A Presentation

We all make and sit through countless presentations these days. Some are great and some are excruciating here are some tips for leaving a good last impression when making a presentation.

Don’t step back.  If anything, take a half-step toward your listeners at the end.  Don’t step back verbally, either, by softening your request to “I surely hope something…” or worse, “There seems to be a need…”  Keep saying “we” and “you” to the end.
Don’t look away.  Some people harken back to the last visual-aid, as if for reinforcement.  Some people look aside, unwilling to confront listeners head-on at the last words, the murmured “thank you,” or the instant of silence that follows.  Stay with them.
Don’t move on the last word.  Hold still for a half-beat after the “you” in “thank you.”  You don’t want to look anxious to get out of there.  If anything, you want to let people know you’ve enjoyed being with them and are sorry you have to go.  Don’t rush off. 
Don't raise your hands.  In our seminars, we recommend “clean and firm endings” to actually show people you’re finished.  You must “let them go” visually.  If you keep you hands up at waist level, you look as if you have something more to say.  You’re still “holding them.”  (You can see this same phenomenon in one-on-one seated conversations:  the person whose hands are up still “holds the floor” and the listener will not begin talking until the hands themselves are finished.)  In speaking, think of yourself as the gracious host or hostess as you drop your hands with an appreciative “thank you.”  That image prompts you to be warm and natural. 
Don’t rush to collect your papers. Or visual aids, or displays.  Stop and chat with people if the meeting is breaking up, then begin to tidy up in a calm, unhurried manner.  Otherwise you might be contradicting your calm, confident demeanor as a presenter.
Never blackball yourself with a critical grimace, a shake of the head, eyes rolled upward, a disgusted little sigh.  So what if you’re displeased with yourself?  Don’t insult your audience by letting them know you were awful; they probably thought you were pretty good.  One lip curl in those last three seconds can wreck 30 minutes of credibility.

I would add to the list:

Avoid the Canned Sales Pitch. Don't end a casual presentation or Q&A time with a canned sales pitch. You presentation itself should be the pitch. The audience should come away with a good impression not a commercial.
Don't Thank People Not Relevant to Your Audience. Unless it is the Academy Awards don't thank everyone who has ever helped you or let you sleep on their couch. If appropriate thank your host and any support people who are in the room.
Read Your Audience. If your listeners have lost their patience with you and your presentation know when to get off and do so quickly. If your audience is clearly disengaged or board during your presentation you may want to opt to take questions during the break rather than take time for an awkward silence filled open Q&A time at the end of your presentation.

Bert Decker on Don't for Presentations

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August 24, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Business Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Useful Tool: r|mail for When Newbies Need RSS

RmailThese days we are all looking for ways to streamline our data consumption habits. Many people are using aggregators to surf RSS feeds.

Others are still wondering what Blogs are. If you are reading a few blogs and news sites and not yet ready to jump to Bloglines, News Gator or a standalone aggregator there is a tool that you can use to subscribe to ann RSS feed by email. This be a good first step into understanding the usefulness of RSS feeds.

r|mail equips you to receive RSSn feed updates by email. This might be useful as you transition from email communications to blog/feed based customer communications.

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August 22, 2005 in Blogging Tools, Blogs, Business Marketing, Creating a Company Newsletter, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Parking Hacks

LifeHacker has a short list of ways to keep track of your car in large parking lots.

Write down the location in your datebook. If you carry around a calendar on your person, mark down which row and level you parked on in the corner of today’s entry. This is a great way to keep track of your car on a day-to-day basis.
Snap a picture. Carrying a cameraphone? Shoot a picture of the “You Parked in Row 5 of the Bluebird Level”-type sign nearest your car.
Note the landmarks. No signs? Look where you are in relationship to the major landmarks around you. For example, are you about 2/3rds of the way down the row that starts with the T in Target? Let the landmarks be your guide.
Tell a friend. When you involve other people, chances increase that one of you will remember where you parked the car.
Tag your car. It may be dorky. It may be something your Dad would do, but adding a unique-looking ornament to the top of your antenna can help you pick your car out of a sea of vehicles. My dad uses an old yellow tennis ball.
Unlock and relock. Got a keyless remote? Go ahead and press the lock/unlock button a few times. Your car should beep at you when you lock it.
Use GPS. Have you ever visited the Renaissance Festival with its converted fields and acres of cars and no signage whatsoever? Thats when a GPS unit really comes in handy. Just “mark” your location when you get out of the car and follow the little arrow back when you’re ready to leave. Sure, you have to carry around a several-ounce special-purpose gadget, but consider the convenience, not to mention the geek factor!


I'd add to the list:

Call Your Voicemail. If you work in a large building with a large lot get in the habit of calling your own voicemail and leaving location clues on your voicemail for review before you leave at the end of the day.
Open your remote trunk/tailgate. If your car is so equipped pop your remote trunk/tailgate release as a visual signal device. Works great in airport lots.
Post It Flags. I once visited an office on a high floor with a view of the parking lot from their reception area. On the window were colored post-it flags that literally pointed to individual cars. Each employee had their own flag color and each day they moved the flag to point to where they had parked that day. On the way out of the office a glance out the window reminded them where they parked.

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August 19, 2005 in Educating Clients and Prospects, Travel, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Customer Intuition Tool: URL123

In your efforts to do a good newsletter you may be using a service like Tinyurl.com to shorten your links for the sake of simplicity. Tinyurl has been around for years and many people use them. Even popular radio shows use it to make it easier for their listeners to find web sites that they reference on the radio. The shortcoming of Tinyurl is that it's not very customizable or feature rich.

Now comes URL123 which is a feature rich alternative. Not only do they offer the ability to specify the shortened URL code but it includes the ability to track click throughs to see just what people are clicking on. This is very useful for those tracking the effectiveness of their successful email marketing campaigns. This is quality customer intuition data.

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August 18, 2005 in Blogging Tools, Building Customer Intuition, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Customer Intuition Tools Help Swing Bad PR to Good PR

The Scobleizer points us to this post at furrygoat about an interaction with a company rep that read his blog complaints about their software product. The timely response of the company changed his mind about the product and swung bad PR to good PR all because the company was paying attention to the blogosphere. I have been encouraging people to set up Google, Technorati and PubSub alerts and watchlists for some time now. The evidence keeps coming that monitoring the conversation about you, your company and your products is essential.

Take a couple minutes, set some stuff up and see what's being said.

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August 18, 2005 in Blogging Tools, Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, Current Affairs, Customer Centric, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Thinking About Customer Service

I spoke with my sister last weekend and she talked a little about her experience with hiring people for her customer service intensive business. Her greatest realization came when she realized that “good customer service” meant different things to different employees. She realized she needed crystal clear expectations that could be clearly communicated to her employees. Attitude is everything. The standard she set for her business is what she desires and expects as “good service.” This works because she is her target customer demographic while many of her employees are significantly younger than her most desirable customers. Her employees needed to know exactly what she meant by good service.

What kind of expectations do you have for customer service in your own business? Do your employees know emphatically what you expect from them where customer service is concerned? This may be for internal or external customer service. How fast are emails returned? How are phones answered? Are deadlines met? Does common sense rule the day?

Think of the last three customer service breakdowns in your area. Why did they occur? Is there a pattern developing? Is there a need for a vision clarification or more training? What can you do before problems occur and become part of your company or departmental image?

Answer the question for your company or department. What does “good customer service look like?”

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August 17, 2005 in Building Customer Intuition, Customer Centric, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tips for Email Marketers

Clickz has a nice article on some backend basics for email newsletter publishers. These are the kind of things that complicate the whole process of doing an email newsletter. There is a lot more to it than just writing a newsletter and then pushing send. List management and ISP relations are a great reason to outsource your email newsletters to a trusted partner who can bring experience and expertise to your interactive marketing.

Clickz on important bsics for email publishers

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August 16, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Business Marketing, Creating a Company Newsletter, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Email Newsletter Outsourcing, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

High Gas Prices Present an Opportunity for Smart Marketers

Seems to me that the recent $.18/gallon increase in average gasoline prices presents a huge opportunity for those marketers seeking to strengthen their customer relationships and customer intuition. Want to increase you response rate to promotions or customer surveys? Tie them to discounts for gasoline. Both business and consumers are ready to do just about anything to pay less for gas. Why not offer free gas or disounts to customers in exchange for some good quality data.

This can be as simple as sending out $5 gas cards for people who respond to a lengthy email survey or as complex as a chance to win a hybrid vehicle. The point is we now have a lever that can increase response rate to marketing promotions and customer intuition surveys.

High gas prices can also be leveraged by offering incentives that help move people to use mass transit. Think about offering a transit card to readers of your email newsletter who get five friends or colleagues to subscribe to you newsletter. (Ask BeTuitive how such activities can be tracked using email newsletter management)

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August 16, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Current Affairs, Customer Centric, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Email Newsletter Outsourcing, How to Send an Email Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Auto rental search service now available for BlackBerry

You're already attached to your BlackBerry for mobil email access. Here's a cool tip you can probably make use of. We've all been in situations where some added information would be significantly helpful.

CarRentals.com has just introduced its Mobile CarRentals.com Website for mobile devices, including BlackBerry, of course. The site lets you look for car rental agencies by zip code or airport symbol - the same symbol that is on your luggage.There are two ways to reach Mobile CarRentals.com's site on your BlackBerry. You can type http://www.carrentals.com. The server will recognize your device, and then resize the page for BlackBerry resolution. Alternatively, you can point your BlackBerry's Web browser to: http://mobile.carrentals.com. This will get you directly there.

Auto rental search service now available for BlackBerry:

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August 12, 2005 in Educating Clients and Prospects, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Customer Intuition Tool Roundup

One of the things we are known for here at BeConnected is tools and techniques you can use to develop your customer intuition. The web is full of tools you can use to keep abreast of the latest developments with your customers, competitors and industry thought leaders. Since we have a lot of new readers I thought I'd put together a round-up of tools you can use to develop your customer intuition.

If you are looking for ways to write a relevant and high value email newsletter these are some tools you can use to find great content resources. These are the kind of tools that put the interactive in interactive marketing.

Weather, Weather Everywhere - a look at how organizations like Disney and 7-Eleven use weather to predict their customer behavior.

Senegal Whishes for Rain in France - Related to the above link is this story about how tele-marketers use weather patterns to shape their calling patterns.

Staying Alert to Your Customers - My favorite technique for using Google to develop your customer intuition.

Knowing When Customers are Online - A tool for tracking the online presence of contacts and customers.

Finding Employees of Customers Online - A clever Google hack for finding websites of people who work for or at certain companies.

Connecting with Birthdays - Using birthday data to enhance your connection with your customers.

How Much TV Coverage are You Getting - A service to track mentions of you, your company, customers or competitors on television.

If you like thee seven tools and techniques be sure you grab the BeConnected feed on the side bar and stay subscribed for new tools and techniques.

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August 11, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Creating a Company Newsletter, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Television, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Todd Smart: Marketers Need to Segment and Customize Newsletters

Direct Marketing reports on Todd's recent talk at the ExactTarget eMarketing Excellence Summit in New York. Todd is “on tour” bringing BeTuitive's insight to cities across the country with ExactTarget this summer. Click here for more information about the ExactTarget eMarketing Excellence Summit.

“When we segment lists and do hundreds of versions,” the response rate is double or triple what it would be otherwise, Smart said. In fact, BeTuitive has one client that wants more than 2,000 versions of its newsletter sent each time.

DM News on Todd Smart

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August 10, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Business Marketing, Creating a Company Newsletter, Current Affairs, Customer Centric, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Email Newsletter Outsourcing, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Travel, Web/Tech, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Google News Offers RSS and Atom Feeds

Marketing Vox reports that Google News has added support for RSS and Atom feeds to Google News:

Google on Tuesday added RSS and Atom functionality to Google News, its aggregated news service, allowing users to receive to content from via feeds, reported CNET and Internet News. Users can now subscribe to get feeds from seven subject areas designated by Google or can create customized news feeds or Google News alerts. Those who have created My Google personal start pages will be able to add feeds to those pages as well.

Google News aggregates news via links to stories on myriad websites and is available in 22 versions for audiences worldwide. For now, RSS and Atom feeds are available on six versions: the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the U.K. and India.

This is an important development for those tracking customers, competitors, industry news etc.

Google News Offers RSS and Atom Feeds

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August 9, 2005 in Blogging Tools, Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Current Affairs, Customer Intuition Tools, Educating Clients and Prospects, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Seating Charts Can Change History

Here's a story about the power of word of mouth and I think peer pressure from Seth's Blog:

Did you ever wonder why William Seward wasn't nominated for president instead of Abraham Lincoln?

Neither did I.

Turns out that he almost was. Except for the seating chart.

Joseph Medill was a hugely powerful figure, the editor of the Chicago Tribune back when being editor of a newspaper actually meant something. He had a falling out with Seward, and Seward made the mistake of saying to Medill, “Henceforth, you and I are parted... I defy you to do your worst.”

Well, somehow Medill ended up as the holder of the seating chart for the Republican convention in which Seward and Lincoln battled it out. And he did a very clever thing. He seated the Pennsylvania delegation, which was on the fence, in a spot surrounded by Lincoln states, far far away from the Seward states. (thanks to Peter Lamont's book on the Indian Rope Trick for the story).

The word of mouth did the trick. Pennsylvania went for Lincoln and you don't remember Seward.

Who are your customers talking to? Where do they sit?

This is an excellent point of customer intuition. Knowing who your customers are talking too is very important. That's why you need to keep an eye on them using the tools and techniques that we talk about here. Beyond that you need to be where they are to see who they associate with. Attend trade shows, study seating charts(trade show booth maps) and follow trends and developments in their industries. Best of all world is taking the initiative to create the venue where your customers can talk to one another and selected partners that will help them succeed.

Seth asks: Who are your customers talking to?

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August 6, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Customer Centric, Educating Clients and Prospects | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Smaller, Faster, Shorter

Seth points us to this great piece on the Long Tail blog that tells us that content in the digital age is getting shorter, faster and smaller. Everything from magazine articles to television programs are now coming in bite sized chunks.

The post doesn't even mention blogs and podcasts that are also clearly a part of this trend. Who has time to devote 30 whole minutes to one topic in one media channel?

Bite sized chunks, people, bite sized chunks.

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August 3, 2005 in Blogs, Current Affairs, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Strategic Internet Marketing, Television, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Ignoring Blogs Can Create and Propel a PR Crisis

More and more businesses of every kind are discovering the importance of their Google ranking. Some are even learning how blog posts and comments can positively or negatively effect their rankings. The reaction to this discovery is often more bad PR for them. This is exactly what is happening over at the Accordion Guy's blog. Seems a friend left a comment stating his opinion and experience with a business in Toronto. The business discovered the comment as the number two result for them on Google. They tracked down the blogger and threatened him to remove the comment. He checked with his friend who left the comment and verified his comment. Then promptly blogged the whole story. Now this story is the number one result when googling the name of the business. I predict a name change for the business.

Handling a crisis of bad (or good) blog based PR is increasingly important these days. This in not just a good reason for businesses to have their own blog to participate and shape conversations about them, it's also a lesson in how not to handle these types of situations. Without experience and understanding of the blogosphere errors of response (being too quick with the legal threats) can only make the situation worse. It's a good reason to consider outsourcing your blogging with experienced bloggers who know the blogosphere and have some experience dealing with these kind of PR situations.

Read the whole story here: accordion guy gets into hot water and think about how you would react if it was your business.

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July 31, 2005 in Blog Outsourcing, Blogging Tools, Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, Current Affairs, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tip for Finding Relevant Blogs

You may have read my interview with Sarah Eaton about blog stats from the July issue of the BeTuitive monthly Newsletter. If you haven't you can find it here. In the interview we talk about techniques for finding good relevant blogs to add to your daily/weekly reading routine.

One technique that I use that I didn't include in the interview is to use blog search engine tools like Technorati or Pubsub to create watchlists of relevant keywords, tags and phrases. These watchlists are usually available by RSS feed. Adding these feeds to your reader will bring you a wide selection of posts that contain your watch terms. Many of these posts will be relevant while the blog may not be relevant but you will also find new blogs that talk about your relevant terms. It can be a bit of a needle hunt but your hay time can be rewarded with some fantastic discoveries.

For example you may want to set up “word of mouth marketing” as a watchlist. Everyday you will receive numerous posts from a wide variety of blogs. Scanning these posts and clicking through to explore the source blogs may lead you to discover blogs focused on the current trends for word of mouth marketing.

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July 29, 2005 in Blogging Tools, Blogs, Business Marketing, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tom Peters: WallopWalmart16

Tom Peters recently offered this list of strategy points for smaller businesses competing with the big guys.

Here's my WallopWalmart16 list of “musts” if you are a “little guy” (one-person accountancy, restaurant, community bank, etc) out to eat the Big Guys' lunch:
*
Niche-aimed. (Never, ever “all things for all people,” a “mini-Wal*Mart.)
*
Never attack the monsters head on! (Instead steal niche business and lukewarm customers.)
*
”Dramatically different.“ (La Difference ... within our community, our industry regionally, etc ... is as obvious as the end of one's nose!) (THIS IS WHERE MOST MIDGETS COME UP SHORT.)
*
Compete on value/experience/intimacy, not price. (You ain't gonna beat the behemoths on cost-price in 9.99 out of 10 cases.)
*
Emotional bond with Clients, Vendors. (BEAT THE BIGGIES ON EMOTION/CONNECTION!!)
*
Hands-on, emotional leadership. (”We are a great & cool & intimate & joyful & dramatically different team working to transform our Clients lives via Consistently Incredible Experiences!“)
*
A community star! (”Sell“ local-ness per se. Sell the hell out of it!)
*
An incredible experience, from the first to last moment—and then in the follow-up! (”These guys are cool! They 'get' me! They love me!“)
*
DESIGN! (”Design“ is a premier weapon-in-pursuit-of-the sublime for small-ish enterprises, including the professional services.)
*
Employer of choice. (A very cool, well-paid place to work/learning and growth experience in at least the short term ... marked by notably progressive policies.) (THIS IS EMINENTLY DO-ABLE!!)
*
Sophisticated use of information technology. (Small-”ish“ is no excuse for ”small aims“/execution in IS/IT!)
*
Web-power! (The Web can make very small very big ... if the product-service is super-cool and one purposefully masters buzz/viral marketing.)
*
Innovative! (Must keep renewing and expanding and revising and re-imagining ”the promise“ to employees, the customer, the community.)
*
Brand-Lovemark* (*Kevin Roberts) Maniacs! (”Branding“ is not just for big folks with big budgets. And modest size is actually a Big Advantage in becoming a local-regional-niche ”lovemark.“)
*
Focus on women-as-clients. (Most don't. How stupid.)
*
Excellence! (A small player ... per me ... has no right or reason to exist unless they are in Relentless Pursuit of Excellence. One earns the right— one damn day and client experience at a time!— to beat the Big Guys in your chosen niche!)

You can be all of this and still have the problem of communicating all this ”coolness“ to clients and prospects. Tom's advice is right there. ”Sophisticated use of information technology.“ That of course would be the use of Blogs and Email Newsletters to tell your stories.

Good stuff that.

Tom Peters: WallopWalmart16

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July 29, 2005 in Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, Creating a Company Newsletter, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sew, What to Blog About

So, if you are a world class tailor and you are using blogging to spread the word about your industry and your own expertise what kind of information are you going to provide on your blog? Sewing Tips, of course.

Even if you pay £2000 for a suit, the sad fact is that buttons do fall off, even the ones sewn on by hand by the best Savile Row tailors.

Now I don't think for a moment that the ladies and gentlemen who read English Cut are incapable of sewing a button on. But as with everything in life, there's a right way and a wrong way to do it.

Sewing a button on correctly is particularly important with the key button on a coat, the middle waist-fastening button (With Savile Row you only button the middle button; never the top or the bottom).

The secret here is to sew the button on with enough “shank” (the amount of space allowed by the thread, between the button and the coat). Ideally you want a quarter-inch shank. Anything more makes the button droopy, anything less can make the front of your suit look too tight, even downright awful.

Yes, even something as minor as this can create a serious problem.

Obviously the Savile Row tailors will have sewn on thousands of buttons in their time, so getting the right amount of shank is easy for them. But what if you're a novice?

sewing tip...:

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July 26, 2005 in Blogs, Building Customer Community, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Success Webinar Tomorrow from BeTuitive

Plan to spend some of your Tuesday afternoon finding out more about spreading success all over your place.

From the BeTuitive Blog:

Catch Success Fever With Webinar Tomorrow:
What happens when author Susan Lucia Annunzio and editorial director Susan Fisher come together to discuss success? An aural spectacle the likes of which have never been heard! And that's a promise.

Actually, the two will go Susan-to-Susan in a discussion about Annunzio's book: “Contagious Success: Spreading High Performance Throughout Your Organization.” Fisher will interview her, and then you'll have a chance to ask questions, too, because--that's right--you're invited.

Since you already know the what and the who, here are the answers to the rest of your likely questions:

When: Tuesday, July 26th at 1 p.m. CST
Where: On the web and in your telephone
How: The magic of technology

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July 25, 2005 in Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Trade Show Booth Tale

 Booth Images Img 0912BAnybody in the marketing game is well versed in the ins and outs of trade shows and conventions. You've either staffed a booth or you are considering doing a booth at some upcoming event.

The visual image of your booth is important. The all important first impression for customers and prospects.

Fed up with the high costs and limited options available one software company engineer built his own with a few tools and lots of trips to Home Depot. Inspiration for some, cautionary tale for others.

Building a Trade Show Booth on a Budget

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July 24, 2005 in Advertising, Building B2B Relationships, Business Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Seth Nails Part of the Whole Non-Fiction Book Thing

Seth covers important ground in understanding the whole world of non-fiction(including business) book world. What needs to be added here is more information about pitching your books to bloggers.

Don't get me wrong. This is a must read as the principles that Seth points out need to be understood. He's right on the mark when he says:

If you don't promote it, no one will. If you don't have a better strategy than, “Let's get on Oprah” you should stop now. If you don't have an asset already--a permission base of thousands or tens of thousands of people, a popular blog, thousands of employees, a personal relationship with Willard Scott... then it's too late to start building that asset once you start working on a book.

Seth's advice:

Build an asset. Large numbers of influential people who read your blog or read your emails or watch your TV show or love your restaurant or or or...

Then, put your idea into a format where it will spread fast. That could be an ebook (a free one) or a pamphlet (a cheap one--the Joy of Jello sold millions and millions of copies at a dollar or less).

Then, if your idea catches on, you can sell the souvenir edition. The book. The thing people keep on their shelf or lend out or get from the library. Books are wonderful (I own too many!) but they're not necessarily the best vessel for spreading your idea.

Are you seeing this, people? You need to build a permission asset, an email list or a audience of subscribers to your blog. The only way to do that is to provide the highest quality blog or email newsletter that you can.

Seth Godin: Advice for Authors

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July 21, 2005 in Blog Outsourcing, Blogs, Books, Building Customer Community, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, Creating a Company Newsletter, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Email Newsletter Outsourcing, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Happy Moon Day

GooglemoonToday, July 20th is the 36th anniversary of the first manned landing on the moon.

How far we have come in technology in those 36 years. The computer you are using to read this has many times the computational power of those early space ships. Where will we be in 36 more years of technological advancement?

In honor of the occasion Google presents Google Moon. Nice easter egg if you zoom in all the way. Wouldn't be nearly as viral without it.

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July 20, 2005 in Educating Clients and Prospects, Travel, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Email Content: Potentially Lifesaving LifeHack

If you are writing an email newsletter you are probably always looking for good newsletter content. I have recommended before that you Open with a Lifehack. I still think it's a useful strategy for developing newsletter content. Anytime your newsletter can provide even a little useful information to your subscribers they will have new reasons to stay subscribed to your email newsletter.

Here's a good example. Seems an english EMT has started a campaign to encourage people to add an emergency contact entry to their cellphone address book. This way emergency personnel will be able to call your spouse or family member or anyone that you designate if you are too incapacitated to give your own contact info.

While you do this for yourself consider adding this tip to your next email marketing campaign.

Mobiles 999 contact idea spreads:

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July 18, 2005 in Business Marketing, Creating a Company Newsletter, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Ten Years Ago at Amazon

The web has come a long way in ten years. Here's a screen shot of Amazon's home page from 10 years ago.

We all forget how fast things change on-line. Ever look back at your earliest email newsletters to see how you have grown (or not grown)

You know, If you feel like it's taking more of your time than you bargained for to produce your e-newsletter maybe you should consider what outsourcing it to BeTuitive can do for you. The first no obligation step is to fill out a pricing request by clicking here. It takes just a few moments and can set you on the path to regaining your valuable time and focus for your core business functions. BeTuitive focuses on providing world-class newsletters with custom content from leading industry writers. If you're running out of quality content ideas look to BeTuitive to provide your newsletter with fresh relevant content.

Fill out that pricing request and learn just what BeTuitive can do for you and your mailing list.

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July 14, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Business Marketing, Creating a Company Newsletter, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Email Newsletter Outsourcing, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Customer Communications: IM Comes to the Marketplace

Instant Messaging(IM) has quietly jumped from the realm of social communication favorite of rabidly multitasking teenagers to primary electronic communications tool in today's workplace. consider this from Cnet's recent piece:

“If you don't have IM in this business, you're not there,” says Sal Morreale, a trader at Cantor Fitzgerald. “I tend to have 10 or 11 IM windows open at a time.”
And it's not just information-greedy traders who are enraptured by IM. Roughly 85 percent of all North American companies use IM, according to a recent report by market research firm Radicati Group. Some researchers even predict it will surpass e-mail as the primary way people
interact electronically by the end of this year.
For companies, however, widespread use of the technology presents an important challenge: how to control and manage employee use of IM and, critically, protect against viruses and other security threats while also extending its benefits of instant communication and enterprisewide collaboration.

IM is a great tool to use in your customer communications toolbox. While you and/or your organization might not be IM savvy who is to say your customers aren't. If those survey results are to be believed a lot of people are adopting IM and fast.

Read the whole Cnet piece for a nice overview of enterprise IM application including a word or two about the special needs for logging, security and virus scanning.

[
Cnet on IM]

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July 6, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Value of A Corporate Blog

Jackie Huba sums up the value of a product blog:

For any company, whether it's Vespa, GM, Whirpool or a thousand other brands, a blog can quickly become a key research tool for prospects to find real-world, authentic advice and information. But only if you let it.

This is true for B2C and B2B corporate blogs. Whether it's a refrigerator or an enterprise accounting system prospects are hungry for real world user advice and experience. What better place to find such information then a well written and managed corporate blog.

Jackie sums up the value of Product Blogs

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July 5, 2005 in Blog Outsourcing, Blogging Tools, Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Word of Mouth Marketing

One of the best things you can do with a blog or email newsletter is equip people with talking points and compelling stories to repeat when talking to their colleagues about you, your company, product, service etc.

Marketing circles are a buzz about word of mouth marketing these days. (oh, the irony) The recent piece in BtoB Magazine carries a definition of three types of word of mouth marketing.

The first, influencer relations, involves educating important constituents-media, analysts and, increasingly, bloggers and other emerging online influencers-about your company and its products. The second, viral marketing, is the concept of seeding your market with a great, often quirky, idea that gathers a life of its own and spreads through audience interaction. A potential third category, [Keith] Bates said, is evangelism by company experts and, even better, highly knowledgeable (read, highly credible) customers.
Blogs and email newsletters are a great way to do all three.

[BtoB Magazine on Word of Mouth Marketing] via

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June 29, 2005 in Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, Creating a Company Newsletter, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Since When is 2003 the "latest news"

Ever have that not so fresh website feeling?

I am so tired of going to websites that feature links to their "latest news" only to find that it's a link to a pdf of their fall 2003 print newsletter. I suspect it's the result of the original web designer that had the good idea to put the company newsletter online. The decision makers agree that it would be cool but they don't realize that they are crossing from static web brochure to fresh regularly updated content. They don't realize that now more than ever people expect current fresh updated content on the web. Email and blogs are teaching people that they can expect the latest information and content online.

If you are one of those with a moldy old newsletter online I'd encourage you to either update it or remove it from your site. Do it right now. Go on....I'll wait.

Of course, we here at BeTuitive would love to help you find a way to publish effective email newsletters that can provide really fresh relevant content with minimal time and effort on your part.

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June 20, 2005 in Blog Outsourcing, Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, Creating a Company Newsletter, Current Affairs, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Email Newsletter Outsourcing, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

B2B Relationship Tool: Hollywood Loves IM

Wired News reports on a new trend in Hollywood.

Freelance/Contract/Consulting people in need of work are using their IM status messages to indicate their availability for work. The messages typically indicate "Away from computer." but are editable to indicate that an individual needs/is available for work. Producers who are looking for short term production help are able to scan their "buddy list" to see who is available. Saves the time and effort of calling each contact to see who is working and who is available.

This is perhaps a killer-ap for the use of IM in the workplace. IM could be a useful tool as part of a B2B relationship. Is there a role for IM in your workflow? A mention of this Wired article and an article about IM in your business would be a good content item for your next email newsletter.

[Never IM in This Town Again]

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June 14, 2005 in Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Verbal Communication Tip

One of the best things you can do as a leader/manager is develop tips, tricks, techniques and hacks for bettering your verbal communication skills. Whether it's employees, vendor's or customers there are some creative strategies for communicating verbally. Some of these are useful and some are borderline rude. How about this technique from Jim at Tips of the Trade:

When you also want to avoid getting into an endlessly long and boring conversation with someone at work who doesn't know when to stop talking, but you must talk to them, do the following:

Open up your cellphone, and approach their cubicle. Say into the phone, "hold on one second." Then tell your talkative friend exactly what you need to tell them. They feel important because you interrupted your other conversation, but then you can motion to the phone to disengage them from any further small talk. Walk away and continue talking to your dial tone.

So what's your favorite technique? What do you think of this technique? Leave a comment.

Related:
Verbal Communication Skills

[Verbal Communication Tip at Tips of the Trade]

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June 12, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

How Do You Define A Good Customer?

My sister manages a large retail business. She is often plagued with customer service issues. Often customers volunteer that they are "good customers" and "spend a lot of money here." My sister, of course, knows the stats and she can immediately size up a particular customers total sale and compare it with what she knows is her average sale value. Often the customer feels they are spending a lot of money with her establishment and their order is but one quarter of the average sale. To the individual customer it obviously is a lot of money.

So who is right? Is a customer's perception of being a "good customer" correct or are the statistics that identify good customers based on hard numbers correct?

How do you define a good customer? Do your customers know what you think of them?

Related:
Eight Ways to be a Good Customer
More on Being a Good Customer

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June 8, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Centric, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Tips for Podcasting

More and more blogs are starting podcasts. The Church of the Customer does a nice one and so does Brian Carroll at the B2B Lead Generation Blog. While these and others are well done many other podcasting newbies would do well to have some guidance and structure to their podcasting efforts.

Eric Rice offers some really good tips for structuring a 10 minute podcast. Good stuff, that.

Eric Rice on How to Build a Ten Minute Podcast

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June 6, 2005 in Blogging Tools, Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

More on Being A Good Customer

Jackie Huba over at the Church of the Customer adds value to the discussion about being a good customer.

To correspond with Peter's list, I've composed eight ways to prepare for good customers:

1. Have a customer communication system - Allow customers to update their contact information easily on your website. Send a regular email newsletter to your customer list, no less than once a month.

2. Acknowledge customer correspondence - Send handwritten notes to customers thanking them for their letter. No one wins points for form letters with .

3. Reward constructive criticism - Encourage customers to provide constructive feedback. Make your contact information (phone number, email address, etc.) easy to find on your website. Send customers a small gift for taking the time to send their suggestions.

4. Profile complimentary customers - Include customer testimonials on your website and in your newsletters. Link to customers' blog posts that mention you.

5. Publish a blog - 'Nuff said.

6. Gather feedback often - Instead of the once-a-year lengthy customer satisfaction survey, send short, 5-question surveys via email to various customer segments once per quarter. Tell customers how you are incorporating their feedback to improve your product or service.

7. Track referrals - Ask every new customer or even newsletter subscriber "how did you hear about us?" Use tools like Technorati and PubSub to track what people are saying online about you.

8. Reward loyal customers - Track the purchase history of your customers. Take care of frequent purchasers not with points or discounts but with a gift product. Or an invitation to a customer advisory board. If you know the customer personally, give them something you know they'll really like.

I would agree. Thanks Jackie.

[Are You Ready For Good Customers]

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June 3, 2005 in Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, Customer Centric, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Eight Ways to Be A Good Customer

Sarah Eaton over at my sister blog BeTuitive talks about being a good follower. That got me thinking. I talk about developing tools and systems that help you know more about your customers. In a sense leading your customers. As a customer are you a good follower?

Eight ways to be a good customer:
Participate in Customer Intuition Systems - Be sure you are on the company's mailing list. Make sure that they have accurate contact information for you. Subscribe to their email newsletter.
Speak Up - If you are a satisfied customer let them know. Write an old fashioned letter. It's hard to pass around copies of a voicemail or recorded call center call.
Offer Constructive Criticism - If there is a way they can improve a product, service or experience offer them constructive criticism. Even great companies have many areas that can stand improvement.
Link To Them - Of course, I'll assume you have a e-newsletter or a blog. If you like a company or product say so by linking to them and talking about why you like them.
Comment on Their Corporate Blog - show your support for a company or product you like by being active in the community and conversations they are fostering on their blogs and newsletters.
Respond to Surveys and Questionaires - If a business you value asks for your input give it to them. Yes, we're all busy these days but your input might make or break a new initiative that you would value or conversely it might save you pain and loss of time in the future.
Reffer a Friend or Collegue - Share your good experiences with your network. What goes around comes around. This is a pathway to discovering new great people to do business with.
and, of course
Buy Their Product, Service or Experience - Continue to support the businesses you value by being a repeat customer.

These are basic elements of building B2B sales relationships but it is surprising to me how few people follow even these basics.

Update:Jackie Huba adds to the conversation in More on Being A Good Customer.

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June 1, 2005 in Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, Creating a Company Newsletter, Current Affairs, Customer Centric, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Leaders: Stimulate Fresh Thinking

As a devoted internet surfer and blog geek I am always surprised at how slowly revolutionary ideas, products, services and experiences move to the offline world. This is evident in noting the lag time between the appearance of an idea online and the appearance of that idea in the broadcast media or daily conversation. By the time the nightly news is reporting X the internet is a buzz with Y and Z considering X to be old news.

Is this the case where you lead? Is your team stagnant, the same opinions, information sources and perspectives lead to the same old insights? Do your weekly, monthly or annual strategy meetings consist of the same 12 people discussing the same 5 ideas over and over?

Many leadership books and gurus recommend tactics for stretching your teams perspective through travel, diverse magazine reading, uniquely creative off-site experiences and other techniques designed to foster exposure to a variety of new perspectives that will hopefully result in useful "a-ha" insights.

These days the internet is full of varying perspectives and conversations about all kinds of different subjects.

Stimulating fresh thinking:

Read a Diverse Blogroll – model and teach team members the value of cultivating a diverse collection of blog feeds in an RSS reader. It's no longer difficult to track 200+ different discussions about a wide variety of topics.

Study the Lag Time – notice the lag time between ideas, news and opinions appearing online and offline. Whether it's in mass media or casual conversation you will discover the people and sources that are the most dialed in to relevant ideas.

Use the Cool New Tools and Services – New web based services and tools are introduced and discussed all the time. Monitor these discussions and experiment with these new tools. The next time you are involved, online or off, in a discussion about flickr, ta-da lists, Technorati, Pub-Sub, Basecamp, Feedburner, Bloglines, etc. you can participate intelligently. Being current helps you see new combinations and opportunities.

Start a "Blog Club" – Like a book club but for blogs. Start a discussion amongst your team about particular blogs and related blogs. Create a base of common knowledge about A-list blogs. Make sure every one is reading certain must read blogs. Thought leadership is out there. Find it and talk about it.

Track New Ideas in Internal Wikis, Del.icio.us Lists or Blogs – If you set you six team members loose and ask them to each come back with three fresh relevant ideas for your next management team meeting what's to say their won't be duplicate's? Building a team blog or wiki to track these new ideas can help avoid duplication. Make sure team members are reading and contributing to the collective regularly.

First equip and train team members to find relevant new ideas and then challenge them to use the tools to branch out of group-think and find new insights in unexpected areas. The power of fresh ideas and vision for your business, division or department is worth it.

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May 26, 2005 in Blogging Tools, Blogs, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, Current Affairs, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Travel, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

A New Place to Spot BeTuitive Insights

Ellen Finkelstein has written a new book in the "...for Dummies" series. We invite you to check out Syndicating Web Sites with Rss Feeds for Dummies. You'll find Betuitive Marketing, LLC quoted in chapter one. The information comes from the article "Blogs: What Are They Good For?"

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May 23, 2005 in Blogging Tools, Blogs, Books, Building B2B Relationships, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, Current Affairs, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Verbal Communication Skills

This great list of verbal communication tips from Open Loops is making the blog rounds. Good advice this.

Update: Related: Verbal Communication Tip

[Communication Tips at Open Loops]

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May 20, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Business Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Customers Have More Power

CheapgasPeople are making new tools that give customers increasing power to make purchasing decisions. A software developer has created a truly useful program. Cheap Gas scraps the gas price information from gasbuddy.com and maps it using Google maps. It used to be that a customer had to drive around in search of the lowest price for gas. Not any more. Now customers can check the web before the head out for gas.

Everywhere business models are being upended by customers gaining the power of aggregated product, price and service information. What's a business to do? How do you keep customers who are tempted by lower prices or different product selections elsewhere?

It's all in the relationship. Are you constantly developing your relationships with customers and prospects? Just like gas stations need to be easy to pull in and out. A B2B business needs to be visible and accessible. Are you using blogs, RSS and email newsletters to be easily found by prospects and customers?

Take a minute and Google your company name. Are you the first result? At least in the top ten?

How are your customers going to find your business?

Don't forget about Cheap Gas when you are traveling.

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May 19, 2005 in Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, Creating a Company Newsletter, Current Affairs, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Travel, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Good Sleep Helps You Be More Intuitive

Sleeping well is more and more important as it gets harder and harder to accomplish. In these days of tight deadlines that lead to late nights with the computer and long international flights good quality sleep is becoming more and more elusive.

It's simple, if you want to be more alert and in tune to your customers you need to arrange your life in such a way that you can consistently get a good nights rest.

Here's a nice sleep FAQ with some good info on getting better sleep. It's from a site that also offers a booklet offering tips for sleeping on airplanes. Nice.

Perhaps the best thing you can do to improve your work, family and home life is to get better sleep this week.

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May 15, 2005 in Current Affairs, Educating Clients and Prospects, Travel | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Why Corporate Blogging Works

If you still don't get the value of corporate blogging. Hugh at Gaping Void explains it in 15 short points and one deep diagram.

[read]

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May 13, 2005 in Blogging Tools, Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Surprise and Delight Customers with Easter Eggs

If you are looking for a way to surprise and delight your customers (and, really, who isn't?) you might consider adding easter eggs to your product, service or experience. Yes, even your email newsletter. Kathy Sierra has a great piece making the case for Easter Eggs:

A good easter egg is a playful, hidden or disguised feature that, when discovered, can offer surprise, delight, entertainment, humor, novelty, or an "I Rule" experience.
She does however offer a warning:
Until you've nailed the fundamentals--the things users want, need, and expect--don't bother trying to "surprise and delight" users. That just pisses 'em off.
So let's assume that you have the basic nailed. That's a big assumption, I know.

Crafting appropriate Easter Eggs for your marketing communications requires a huge amount of customer intuition. You need to know what will surprise and delight your customers and what they will simply consider lame. Think about going to the movies. If you really love the movie you are willing to wait through the credits to see some bloopers. Especially created bloopers that spoof classic bloopers like Pixar adds to their films. Conversely, if you didn't care for the movie or actively disliked the movie you won't be interested in anything more.

Finally, Kathy has a good list of the characteristics of good Easter Eggs:

They get users involved as a participant rather than a passive spectator.

They get users to spend more time

They're remembered (you can use easter eggs to enhance learning)

They DO NO HARM!

Their discovery is NOT a required part of the experience. If it is, then it's not an easter egg, but simply a part of the product.

They give users the "I Rule" experience of being clever enough to "get it", especially if it's in plain sight, but requires "insider" info to recognize it.

They're entertaining in some way (this is largely the point of making them)

They do NOT need to be funny, although they often are.

At BeTuitive we have an Easter Egg in our own monthly newsletter.

[read]

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May 11, 2005 in Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Creating a Company Newsletter, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A Word About Frequency

One of the most important things to do when figuring out how to do a email newsletter is to figure out the right frequency to send your newsletter. Anything is possible, of course. Some newsletters publish daily, some weekly, some monthly and some quarterly. What's important is figuring out how frequently you can communicate with your customers and prospects in a way that consistently adds value to the relationship without becoming an irritant.

Part of the answer is the quality of the content. Fresh insights and valuable education are a must. If your issues are full of repetitive marketing speak readers won't value them. Remember people pay attention to what is new. They also value education and information apart from constant sales pitches.

Another piece of the puzzle is watching carefully what the measurements have to reveal. I mentioned the article about understanding newsletter metrics below. Watching the ups and downs of your open rates and click-thrus will tell you about the value your subscribers place on your newsletter.

Stats that indicate a high open rate and click-thru indicate that your content is valuable and relevant. You may consider ways to increase your frequency. You may want to experiment with special issues.

Stats that reflect declining open rates may indicate that subscribers don't find value in your newsletters.

Stats that reflect high open rates with low click-thru rates indicates that subscribers are open to hearing from you but aren't finding relevant content.

These are simple interpretations of complex measurements. The point is that developing and maintaining a dynamic newsletter that adds value to your business is a challenge. It's much more than writing a new sales brochure every month.

Reading the tea leaves of newsletter measurements is as much art as science. One of the values of outsourcing your email newsletter publishing is having experienced list managers who can help you understand just what is happening with your newsletters.

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May 10, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Creating a Company Newsletter, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Email Newsletter Outsourcing, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Understanding Newsletter Metrics

In the BeTuitive Newsletter this month Sarah Eaton has written a great primer to help people understand the basics of some important email marketing metrics. Understanding delivery rates and open rates is key to measuring the success of your email newsletter.

Nowadays marketing professionals can describe themselves as both mystics and mathematicians. Now we have numbers rolling off spreadsheets and coming out of our ears.

When it comes to newsletters, there are certain numbers we're fed continuously. We cling to these numbers like we're drowning. (If they go away, we might be forced to consult runes and draw archaic symbols in the dust again.)

Now that we have numbers, we don't need anything else. Numbers don't lie. They are numbers, strong and solid and true. These numbers speak to us of our success or failure.

The above paragraph is unquestionably true, but only if you add the word "accurate" before the word "numbers" each time.

The trouble with measurement in the e-marketing world is that everything is so blooming complex. There are so many behind-the-scenes variables that go into creating that poor little number on your spreadsheet that taking it at face value doesn't really do it justice.

Here are just a few of those variables, stripped down for your skimming pleasure:

[read]

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May 9, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Creating a Company Newsletter, Customer Centric, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

BeTuitive Book Review: On Bullshit

At BeTuitive we have a monthly book review. This month e-newsletter designer Kat O'Conner shares her review of On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt. If you have this book or are about to purchase this one I suggest you click through and read what she has to say.

[read]

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May 6, 2005 in Books, Educating Clients and Prospects | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Communication Tool: PDA2speak

Pda2speakIt's late you've been traveling, speaking and traveling all day. Now you are exhausted and stuck in the cramped back seat of a cab on the way home from the airport. It's dark and just what is that smell? You've got to get your thoughts together because you need to reply to that customer's email you read on your BlackBerry while you waited for your bags. Yes, but you are too tired to type the response and besides it's too dark in this cab. It's after hours, you could call and leave a voicemail but you'd have no record of your response.

Sound familiar? Now there is a tool you can use to send voice messages by email. The folks at 2speak have developed PDA2Speak is a service that enables you to send a VoIP based voice email message from a BlackBerry or smart phone to another BlackBerry or a PC. The service also sends you a record copy.

This service is especially useful when the subtleties of human voice tone are useful or essential.

BB Hub has a quick overview here.

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May 5, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Customer Centric, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication, Travel, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Don't Do It Unless You Measure First

Marketing Vox points to a study showing the importance of measuring email marketing efforts. Many publishers simply push their content out to subscribers and count the ROI as brand awareness, customer education, name recognition and other soft metrics. They are missing the power of measurement inherent in email marketing.

With the right email marketing service provider a lot of hard data can be captured about your customers. Beyond simple open rates you can know who is reading each article. This is hugely valuable information as you shape future issues and sales efforts. If you are running articles promoting a particular product but no one is reading it it's time to reconsider your product offering. If you are experimenting with sales pricing and you receive huge interest reflected in the metrics then you know you are on the right track.

Don't publish if you aren't going to measure the results.

[read]

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May 4, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Creating a Company Newsletter, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Email Newsletter Outsourcing, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Knowing When Your Customers Blog

FeedbeepRSS technology is becoming more and more important for both mission critical applications and geekified conveniences alike. But let's face it in today's world it's hard to keep up with the exploding number of feeds that are filling up our newsreaders and Bloglines accounts.

Why not take a handful of critical feeds from your customers websites or blogs and use a service like feedbeep to alert you to changes by SMS message to your BlackBerry or other SMS enabled cellphone.

Don't be caught clueless about your customers latest product announcement that they just posted to their blog because you aren't at your computer. With a service like feedbeep you can get a notice to your cellphone and know there is something you should read before you call that customer.

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April 26, 2005 in Blogging Tools, Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Corporate Blogging, Customer Intuition Tools, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Change Something: Be Remarkable

Seth makes a great point relevant to email marketers. People are interested in things that change. His two examples are bank signs that give you dynamic real time updates on current time and temperature and Gmail that frequently increases the amount of storage space users have access to. People are attracted to what's new and changed.

This is an important point for those who are publishing and/or writing email marketing newsletters. If you aren't providing new content and fresh ideas people will ignore your efforts. Can you formulate change plans for your offerings? You should have a plan for changing how you present your information so that your offerings are fresh and remarkable. Saying the same things in the same way month after month will quickly get your newsletter ignored by readers looking for fresh and new.

In order to be remarkable your product, newsletter, service, experience must be worth talking about. We see this all the time. If Gmail launched with 100MB of storage it wouldn't have been remarkable. It launched with 1GB. At the time that was remarkable! Recently, Google upped the ante and increased storage to 2GB. Again, something remarkable.

Are you doing remarkable things? Are you doing a remarkable newsletter to tell your clients about it? Want to?

[read]

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April 21, 2005 in Blogs, Business Marketing, Creating a Company Newsletter, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Email Newsletter Outsourcing, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Productivity Hack: Abreviation Tools

For several months now I have been using a productivity tool that I have come to rely on. It's called TypeIt4Me(OS X) and it's awesome. (There is a similar tool called Active Words for you Windows users) Both applications allow you to abbreviate often used words, phrases and paragraphs of text. The idea is that you can save keystrokes by entering an abbreviation an then entering a trigger keystroke (enter key, tab, space, etc.) The program then replaces the abbreviation with the stored text.

I use this tool for all sorts of things like long user names, repetitive bits of html code, my name, even entire email messages that I often send. It's extremely useful.

Do yourself a favor and spend some time configuring a tool like this that will save you many minutes every day. What would you do with an extra hour or two every week that you gain from the smart use of productivity tools? Of course, you would enhance your customer intuition by reading the archives of BeConnected. Who knows what useful customer intuition tools you will find that will help you build B2B relationships and help your bottom line.

[TypeIt4Me]

[ActiveWords]

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April 19, 2005 in Blogging Tools, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Customer Intuition Tidbit for USPS

USA Today reports that the United States Postal Service(USPS) expects to process 33.5 million fewer tax returns on April 15th this year than they did 5 years ago. The decline comes as a result of the hugely popular and convenient e-filing system. That's close to $12.5 million in lost postage revenue for one day.

It appears that the only solution the postal service sees to the obvious "buggy whipping" they are receiving at the hands of the internet is to raise postage rates. They've asked for a two cent increase for first class stamps. Many of their former customers may not take a break from their email reading and online bill paying to notice.

[read]

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April 18, 2005 in Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Current Affairs, Educating Clients and Prospects, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Google Goodies to Go

For those out there who use a mobile web enabled device like a BlackBerry or smartphone these are good days for you. I've already posted about an RSS newsreader for the BlackBerry and a way to get answers on the go. Now you need to know about two new features for the mobile web.

Google Local

When users visit http://mobile.google.com/local on their XHTML-enabled mobile phone, they can enter their search term in the ’What’ search box and location in the ’Where’ search box to receive results from Google Local. For example, if users enter the query [wifi hotspot] in the ’What’ search box and [90266] in the ’Where’ search box, they will receive Google Local results of wifi hotspots in Manhattan Beach, Calif. Currently available in the U.S. and Canada, this service enables users to find business listings and driving directions, view an area using Google Maps with zooming capabilities, and click-to-call.

Driving Directions

With Google SMS, users have another choice to access information on-the-go. This service enables users to send a search query as a text message to the U.S. five digit shortcode 46645 (GOOGL on most phones) and receive Google Local, Froogle, finance, weather, and movie showtime results. Today, Google added driving directions to this list. For example, if users enter the query [from jfk to 50 broadway new york], they will receive turn-by-turn driving directions as a text message on their mobile phone or device. Google SMS is available on most U.S. carriers. More information can be found here.

[Google Mobile]

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April 14, 2005 in Current Affairs, Educating Clients and Prospects, Strategic Internet Marketing, Travel, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Lessons Learned

Anyone who has been in business for some time has learned some valuable lessons. In keeping with the continuous learning theme of the April BeTuitive newsletter I want to point to this nice list of lessons learned from 3 years in business by Kevin Stirtz over at Better Local Marketing.

Be of Service

Time x Activity = Results

Manage Inputs and Monitor Outcomes

Do the Right Things Every Day

Have Faith

Be Patient

Lead, Don't Push

Apologize, Fix it, Move On

Be sure to click through and read Kevin's brief insights into each of these.

So what have you learned lately? Care to share an insight or key learning and the story behind it?

[read]

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April 12, 2005 in Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Newsletter Marketing, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Productivity Hacks in Latest Newsletter

In the April BeTuitive Enewsletter we have a great productivity hacks round-up of tips submitted by BeTuitive newsletter subscribers.

Scott Silver of Printable Promotions had an idea for streamlining your information channels. If you respond more quickly to email than you do to voice mail, let the people who call you know that in your outgoing voice mail message.

Sign up for the monthly BeTuitive Newsletter

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April 11, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Current Affairs, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: Book Review at BeTuitive

Sarah Eaton at Betuitive has a nice review of Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynn Truss and reviewed by our coworker Susan E. Fisher. This is a part of our BeTuitive Book Club.

Susan knows her stuff:

Do you realize the impact you are making when you introduce errors in your electronic messages? Do you even realize the errors you make? Of course, there’s a difference between simply slipping up with a typo and making a grammatical error out of ignorance. Those typos can be forgiven, but ignorance is unacceptable.

Still, the prospect of reading a grammar book may sound as appealing as drinking cod liver oil. It’s something we know is good for us but seems a bit old fashioned, and we fear it may leave a bad taste in the mouth. Truss serves grammar to us with a spoon full of sugar (much like that upright symbol of British civility, Mary Poppins.) "Eats, Shoots & Leaves" opens with a title that is a reference to a joke and keeps you amused along the tidy, 204-page way.

(You see, there's this gun-totting panda that enters a bar and "eats, shoots and leaves." The bear, it turns out, is merely fulfilling his destiny as defined by a punctuation-challenged wildlife guide. The guide reads: "Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.")

[read]

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April 7, 2005 in Blogging Tools, Blogs, Books, Creating a Company Newsletter, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Getting Answers on the Go

MobileanswerscolorTwo important things you can do to help build your B2B customer relationships:

Understand Them - It's important to understand the terms, phrases and jargon a customer is using. You can't always ask them to define every word they use. You need to at least appear knowledgeable.
Inform and Educate - Often when you are meeting or speaking with customers and prospects a new term idea or concept comes up and more information is needed for full understanding.
I know what you are thinking. "Google is your friend!" and that is true providing you have a net connected computer handy.

When you don't have a computer handy. Reach for your BlackBerry and pull up MobileAnswers. From the Answers.com people, MobileAnswers accesses Wikipedia and other sources to provide information on over one million subjects.

It will have you looking like the goto person you want to be.

via bb hub

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March 31, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

BeTuitive Newsletter: Continuous Learning

I am really looking forward to the next issue of the BeTuitive newsletter in a few days. I just learned the theme for this issue is continuous learning. I am always interested to learn how people are keeping up and continuing to learn and grow their knowledge and skill set. I for one am an avid reader of business books, magazines and blogs.

If you are like me you are at times overwhelmed by all the material you have to read. How do you keep up? I for one am very interested in checking out business book summaries that I could easily digest on the train(print versions) or in the car(audio versions).

So how are you learning these days? What is your approach to continuous education? Is it more formalized with classes and seminars or less structured reading and listening to audio materials? Do you have any recommendations of sites or resources that might help us all? Leave ideas and suggestions in the comments. Thanks.

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March 29, 2005 in Blogs, Building Customer Community, Current Affairs, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Customer Intuition Tool: Tracking del.icio.us Comments

Here's a nice tool that will help you see what people are saying about a particular website, web page or blog. Another tool to discover what people are saying about you, your competitors, your customers, industry websites, etc.

The bookmarklet returns the tags and comments that del.icio.us users have associated with a given url.

Just follow the three easy steps here and get started listening to the conversations about you.

via lifehacker

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March 28, 2005 in Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Converting Frustration Into Good Stories

Here's a fun one. Griffin Technologies the maker of a variety of accessory gadgets for the Apple iPod has a great customer friendly policy. Rather than a costly and time consuming process of returning defective products to the manufacturer Griffin replaces the product and asks that customers destroy the defective item in a creative way and send photo evidence.

This is a great way to save costs, endear your customers and get people talking about your product and company. One recent customer used model rocket engines to destroy her non-functioning iTrip.

Destroyagriffin1

Way to convert customers frustrations into great stories about your company and customer service.

[read]

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March 24, 2005 in Building Customer Community, Business Marketing, Customer Centric, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Four Keys to Permission Marketing

Seth gives it up in four sentances:

I told her that the first step was to offer something in your email newsletter that people would actually want to read. That the second step was to promise people exactly what you intended to give them. And the third step was to create content that was so remarkable that people wanted to share it. I explained that if you take your time and keep your promises, it'll build if it deserves to build.
Easily said difficult to understand harder to do but he's right their are no short cuts. Quality of content is what matters. You need content that your audience wants to read.

We face this everyday preparing world class email newsletters for our clients. We have some good strategies and insights into how we can provide relevant content for our client's subscribers. Why not see us in action by subscribing to our own monthly email newsletter? You can do so quickly and easily right here.

[read]

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March 23, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Business Marketing, Creating a Company Newsletter, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Email Newsletter Outsourcing, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Weblogs, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Creatively Sponsoring Podcasting

By now you have heard something about podcasting. It's a niche audio programming system that allows anyone to produce an audio recording that can be easily downloaded and transfered to a portable audio player for playback at a listeners convenience. As the phenomenon catches on thousands of individual podcasts are popping up across the internet. Because individual podcasts are usually associated with an established blog the audiences tend to be segmented and very focused. This naturally appeals to marketers looking to expand the number of channels they use to communicate with customers.

Click Z reports that Warner Brothers is sponsoring a podcast. Warner Bros. will provide some exclusive music and interviews for an entertainment focused podcast.

The article includes this kernel of an idea for the future of podcast sponsorship:

"He'll incorporate that this is a sponsored message," said Bill Flitter, CMO of RSS marketing firm Pheedo, which brokered the deal. "It's basically paid placement. The music becomes the advertisement. The way I sold both these sponsorships is [that they're] enhancing what someone's already doing and adding value to it, as opposed to the interruption mode."
The challenge of sponsoring podcasting is understanding that traditional, radio style, interruption advertising is inappropriate when the listeners have the ability to fast forward right through the spots.

The approach of value added content contributions is a far better approach. This is a no brainer for music producers but other types of businesses can contribute as well. Consider interviews with the CEO or product designers/engineers, audio documentary style customer profiles, site visits, etc.

Another tactic mentioned in the article is to include an exclusive promotion code that listeners can use at a company website to obtain special services, discounts, exclusive products, etc. This technique has the added benefit of being measurable.

Bottom line is to keep an eye on the growing world of podcasting. While your business might not yet be at a place to start your own podcast you may want to track the emergence of prominent podcasts that are relevant to your customers and prospects and then consider creative sponsorship opportunities.

[read]

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March 22, 2005 in Advertising, Blogging Tools, Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Be Discoverable Be on del.icio.us

Last week I asked Which Channels Are You On? talking about using a mix of available channels to communicate with your customers. Now I want to encourage you to use as many tools and channels to make yourself, company, product, service or experience as discoverable as possible.

Beyond SEO today's savvy marketers are using social web systems like Flickr or Technorati to discover what information customers and prospects are publishing about them. By now we all know that we cannot control the discussions but we can shape them by participating.

Toward that end I encourage you to discover and use the social bookmark sharing service del.icio.us. Here is a great overview/tutorial that will explain the how and what you can do with the service.

At the very least you need to bookmark your blog and website with relevant tags(keywords) that can help people discover you.

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March 21, 2005 in Blogging Tools, Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Good News for Newsletter Publishers

Marketing Vox points to some good news for e-newsletter publishers:

DoubleClick reported that the last quarter of 2004 saw the highest ever orders-per-opened-email (0.35 percent), despite seeing lower email open rates. That represents a 14 percent rise over the same period the year before. DoubleClick noted that more and more email applications fail to load graphics when people open their messages, making it difficult to track the real open rates. Click-to-purchase conversions came in just shy of tying record levels, rising to 4.8 percent.
The important thing here is to realize that quality matters. If an email newsletter is of high quality(worth reading) and relevant to a reader it will be successful. Sometimes doing a high quality effective e-newsletter is beyond your capabilities in terms of time and staffing. Ever wish someone could just take the newsletter off your plate?

If you are interested in learning more about outsourcing your email newsletter marketing explore the BeTuitive website where you'll find some sample newsletters and an opportunity to spend three minutes to get a price quote.

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March 17, 2005 in Blog Outsourcing, Building B2B Relationships, Business Marketing, Creating a Company Newsletter, Current Affairs, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Email Newsletter Outsourcing, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Know Any BlackBerry Toting March Madness Fans?

If you, your significant other or even your best customer are a college basketball fan and a RIM BlackBerry user here is the must have app this month. Get this to thy email app!

From BB Hub:

The NCAA basketball tournament brackets have been announced. It's possible your alma mater is one of the contenders.

If so, you'll be interested to learn that mobile device software information service Pocket Express has launched a "March Madness" feature in its $19.99 a year Express Sports feature. March Madness will show you game matchups and real-time, running scores from the NCAA Men's tournament.

As part of Express Sports' content package, March Madness is available on the BlackBerry 7210, 7230, 7280, 7290, 7510, 7520, 7730, 7750 and 7780.

To access March Madness, launch Sports, then select "Basketball (NCAA Men's)." Choose the the "Weekly" schedule option and then click on the game you wish to know the score of.

[read]

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March 16, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Customer Centric, Educating Clients and Prospects, Sports, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Which Channels Are You On?

Are you experimenting with new ways to communicate with your customers? Are you educating yourself on the opportunities presented by new technologies like podcasting? Are you thinking about starting a blog? Wondering if there's more that can be done with your email marketing newsletter?

Sure there is information overload but there is also the opportunity to communicate faster and better than your competition. Not everybody uses every communication channel but each customer uses a mix of channels that work for them. Now is the time to broaden the available formats for your message. E-newsletters work. Blogs work. Podcasting works. It's still too early to say what the preferred channel is for your business or industry. Why not be remarkable and experiment with these new channels. It might just catch on.

Who's to say that a weekly Friday afternoon podcast of restaurant reviews, movie recommendations and a few relevant business ideas or stories wouldn't do wonders for your company image and keep your business top of mind on your customer's commute home at the end of the week. It's infotainment on a personal scale.

As you walk around the office today listen for good "radio" voices. I'll have a lot more to say about podcasting in the days and weeks to come.

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March 16, 2005 in Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, Creating a Company Newsletter, Customer Centric, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Email Newsletter Outsourcing, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Newsreader for Your Blackberry

NewsclipcescreenIf you are blog reader and a Blackberry user a new software may just make your day.

Now, you can read RSS streams on your BlackBerry. Virtual Reach has a $29.99 Newsclip RSS Reader for BlackBerry. It's compliant with RSS versions 0.91, 0.92, 0.93, 0.94 and 2.0.
Available at Handango

[read]

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March 10, 2005 in Blogging Tools, Blogs, Corporate Blogging, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Airline Websites Not Intuitive About Customers

Further evidence that airlines need help with their efforts to intuit the needs and wants of their customers. ClickZ reports on a study evaluating the customer experience of both airline and travel agency websites. The results are telling:

"But online agencies are also creating a better overall online experience for customers and this is a significant contributor to the success of these sites over airline sites. The airlines are just not fully capitalizing on their loyalty programs and direct ties to the customer."

Expedia, Orbitz, and Travelocity, in that order, were the top three ranked sites in the study, scoring significantly higher in terms of customer experience and conversion than any airline site with the exception of Southwest.

Budget carriers Southwest and JetBlue outranked market-leading airlines in terms of both customer experience and conversion.

Airlines are not capitalizing on their direct connections with their customers. How are you capitalizing on your direct connections with customers? Would they rather buy from someone else because the experience is better or the interface easier? Time to take a close look at your own operations.

While you are at it, take a look at your competitors. Are they doing anything new this week? Have they started a blog? What does their e-mail marketing look like? Could you be doing a better job?

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March 8, 2005 in Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, Creating a Company Newsletter, Customer Centric, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Travel, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Traveling? Google the Weather Forecast

GoogleweatherTraveling on business or pleasure this week? Calling a customer? Calling Mom? It might be helpful if you knew the local weather. Google has added a four day weather forecast to it's search results. Just type weather plus the city and state .

If you are writing a e-newsletter this might be a good practical tip to include. We all know how hard it is to consistently develop and write useful content for corporate newsletters. If you can consistently provide practical useful information your readers will consistently open, read and click-thru your marketing newsletters.

Google continues to provide useful tools that can help you develop your customer intuition.

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March 6, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Creating a Company Newsletter, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Travel, Web/Tech, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Polish Your Presentation Skills: Tell Me A Story

Spkrstndng1Presentation skills are more important than ever these days. Whether it's with customers, prospects or coworkers the quality of your presentation skills is important. Want to improve your sales? Improve your presentation skills. Be remarkably good. So good that customers will invite others to join them just to hear your presentation. Is that possible? Sure it is but it requires a common sense approach to the oft published wisdom surrounding presentations. A focus on the tools has caused us to lose perspective on what makes a good presentation. Presentations become a PowerPoint slide deck with narration.

Recently I've come across some real wisdom from a blogging presentation coach. From a recent post:

Audiences really want to like you as a speaker. It makes them feel better about being there in the first place and more forgiving of any stumbles you may make.

Help them like you by not talking at an audience. Have a conversation with them instead.

Your message comes across more effectively when you use words, rhythms and anecdotes that come authentically (or, at least, appear to come authentically) from you and your own experiences, not those of someone else.

Your tone of voice, your mannerisms, the very words you use can convey a sense that your audience is important to you and that you appreciate their time and effort to hear what you have to say.

I have been known to stop presenters who are simply reading their notes and slides to the audience. I simply ask the speaker to talk to us. Tell us in stories what it is they want us to remember. Most often this is the best route to communicating the information they are trying to convey. Save the charts and graphs for the data-hungry handout readers and tell us a story that explains what's happening.

I think you'd be well served by bookmarking/subscribing to Scott Rayburn's blog Presentation Coach

February 24, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Business Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Hey, You! Time for A Backup

The BBC reports that a people feel they would lose friends if they lose their cellphones and or their address book data. Would you lose valuable customer contact data if you lost your cellphone or Blackberry?

Sure, the data is not irreplaceable but who has the time to reconstruct contact information from scratch.

Time to backup your cellphone, Blackberry, PDA or card file.

February 23, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Current Affairs, Customer Centric, Customer Intuition Tools, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Opting-in at the Chicago Auto Show

2005_cas_logoThis past weekend I went to the Chicago Auto Show. Over the years this show has become more and more interactive as car makers attempt to scale their customer intuition efforts. It used to be that sales people from area dealerships staffed displays. There's no selling at the show but reps could collect contact info and follow-up with prospects after the show. Now trade show renta-reps dressed all in black collect addresses to mail or email brochures to prospects. Carmakers are trying various tactics to get information and a conscious or unconscious opt-in from show attenders.

Some use attractive premiums like, no kidding, giant red stuffed animals to get people to register for a free drawing. Others use higher tech methods like offering "free" pictures that require visitors to visit and register at manufacturers websites to receive their "free" picture.

These real world practices are analogous to the online challenges of opt-in e-newsletter marketing. Some offer cool premiums that drive sign-ups but have little or nothing to add to a potential customer relationship. Some use bait-n-switch like tactics to offer something for free that comes at a hidden cost. Others engage people as people and offer a fair and reasonable exchange of value that begins a lasting relationship.

So where are you on the scale? Are you building a big list with a high churn as people opt-in for a premium and then opt-out just as quickly? Are your list building tactics bordering on deceptive? As people get savvier to the techniques of list building it becomes more and more important to market real ongoing value to opting-in.

Beyond links to privacy policies, no spam pledges and required opt-out or unsubscribe links it is important to be transparent in presenting the value of being open to hearing from you in the future. Are you just looking to send out brochures and promotional email or are you looking to build a lasting mutually beneficial relationship? How do your prospective list members know what you are doing?

February 22, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Creating a Company Newsletter, Current Affairs, Customer Centric, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Email Newsletter Outsourcing, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Trendwatching to Learn How to Communicate With Customers

Educating clients and prospects is critical to collecting valuable customer intuition and behavior analysis that can boost sales and build business. When conceiving ways to educate customers it's important to understand your customers and the learning and information gathering systems and techniques they are most accustomed to and comfortable with. Knowing which communication tool to use and which not to use based on who you want to reach is becoming more complex as the options expand.

You need to be a bit of a cultural anthropologist to build a sense of what channels and techniques work with different target audiences. I try to do this wherever I go. I watch people on the train trying to understand how they use their commute time. I watch people in airports, malls, grocery stores, seminars, movie theaters, offices, cars, etc. to attempt to understand how people use technology to find information and communicate with others.

If you are targeting young business people and/or entrepreneurs you would do well to watch communication and learning trends in colleges and universities. Tools and techniques learned in school will translate directly to the business world as graduates move into the workplace.

Students are using cellphones in record numbers. So much so that schools are removing their expensive yet revenue producing land line systems from dorms.

SMS(text messaging) while huge in other parts of the world has been slow to catch on in America. Cultural phenomenon like interactive TV programs i.e. American Idol have driven adoption and now even universities are building systems to use SMS to aid professors-student communications. If somebody uses SMS for years in school they are certainly open to it when they graduate and become your potential client.

Time to crack that manual and learn how to send and receive text messages on your cell phone.

February 18, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Current Affairs, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Google Tips

GoogEverybody uses Google for a wide variety of things. Not everyone knows how to get the most out of it. Here's something useful that you can recommend to customers, friends and coworkers to help them polish their Google search skills. It's a tip sheet for Google. This would make a good content item for your next opt-in email newsletter.

February 18, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Creating a Company Newsletter, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Overwhelmed by Your E-Marketing Program?

We all agree that cellphone conversations in public can be annoying. Sometimes they are fascinating. When I commute by train if someone sitting behind me uses a cell phone it's like they are speaking right into my ear. I can't help but overhear their conversations. On a recent train ride a woman of certain demographics sat behind me an made 2 lengthy phone calls in 45 minutes. She discussed travel plans, work scheduling and tasks, car model preferences and marketing preferences(she was on her way to an auto show). Anecdotal information to be sure but full of insights that may not have been obvious based on appearances. By knowing something of what she was interested in I have a wealth of insights into who she is and how best I could communicate with her and sell to her.

In these times it's very hard to have a lot of time personally interacting with individual customers in order to inform and educate them about your products or services. Many people are turning to opt-in email newsletter marketing as a way to meet these needs in a cost effective way. There immediately becomes a challenge of consistently developing effective content, building and maintaining an email list, complying with the CAN-SPAM regs, etc. Many marketing departments are so busy doing these things that they miss the golden opportunities inherent in the medium. Actionable results.

If you are overwhelmed by the tasks of producing a regular e-newsletter consider outsourcing the whole process. Beyond a savings of workload, outsourcing can set and maintain a high level of quality while complying with regulations. Outsourcing brings professional industry specific expert writers to your project and provides individual level interaction data that can provide actionable results. Your follow-up reports will provide specific sales leads for your sales department.

If you want to see a sample newsletter why not sign-up for the monthly BeTuitive e-newsletter. You will see a great newsletter with great information about interactive e-marketing with dynamite newsletters.

If you are overwhelmed or just exploring your options why not spend just 3 minutes to fill out a brief pricing request form. You will get a reply in 24 hours or less and be better prepared to craft a strategic internet marketing plan.

February 17, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Email Newsletter Outsourcing, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tips for Networking

Sarah Eaton at our sibling blog Betuitive: Measurable Results is using a technique I blogged about yesterday. She discovered this list of networking tips and this marketing blog in her Technorati watchlists. Sarah consistently points to good stuff.

I especially like points nine and ten:

9. Don't corner people and don't get cornered. Manage your time and conversation so you can meet enough people to justify your time spent networking.

10. Offer referrals. The best way to begin a relationship is by giving someone something - like a referral. It doesn't cost you anything. If they're the kind of person you want to do business with, they'll reciprocate and a valuable, long-tem business relationship could develop.

Related: Intuition Tool: Technorati Watchlists, So What?

February 3, 2005 in Blogging Tools, Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Intuition Tools, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Getting Into Flickr

You know I am a big fan of the photo sharing site flickr. They do a lot of cool things with tags and rss feeds. I think savvy marketers should be setting up some feeds tracking some relevant tags to keep abreast of relevant keywords. You may have run across flickr feeds in tag searches at Technorati.

For those wanting to participate, and why not, lifehacker has a nice list of tips for beginners.

Choose your photos carefully before you upload

It’s a natural impulse to upload a bunch of photos to Flickr immediately. That’s a fine thing to do, but realize a free Flickr account limits you to a set amount of upload throughput per month. So choose and upload only your best pictures and leave space for all the future greats you’ll take through the rest of the month. (Account usage resets on the 1st of the month).

[read]

Related: Customer Intuition Tool: Try A Photo Contest

February 3, 2005 in Blogging Tools, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Customer Intuition Tools, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Intuition Tool: Technorati Watchlists, So What?

Logo200407 OK, so you are convinced that you need to track relevant conversations with tools like Technorati Watchlists, now what. Well, if you have been to Technorati and set up some watchlists for relevant keywords and phrases I hope you have put the resulting RSS feeds into your news reader. While the snippets of text they provide are not useful in and of themselves they are helpful in couple of ways:

Discusion Discovery - this is the advertised or anticipated use. If you track your company name or product, customer, competitor name in a search you can discover mentions of these words in places you were not previously aware of. This can help you gauge public opinion, participate in discussions, receive feedback, spot mounting PR crisis, etc.

Discover Locations of Future Relevant Conversations - Watchlist results can help you discover new blogs that you should be subscribing to in your newsreader. When the same source shows up multiple times in your results it is a good indicator that that source frequently mentions your keywords of interest.

A recent pass through my Technorati watchlists didn't find anything of new or real value re: the search terms it did lead me to discover three or four new new blogs that found there way into my newsreader.

As more and more blogs come online tools like Technorati Watchlists are extremely helpful for finding relevant discussions and places where relevant discussions will take place.

It's important to remember that Technorati only searches and tracks sites with RSS feeds. That's why it's important to uses Google Alerts to keep alert to your customers all across the web.

For more on tools that help you track leading indicators for customer behavior, what we call customer intuition check Customer Intuition Tools

February 1, 2005 in Blogging Tools, Building Customer Intuition, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Jet Blue Gets a Valuable Insight

I hope somebody at the airline Jet Blue reads Slate. If they do they will learn about a leading indicator that at least one prominent customer is using to predict the quality of experience he is going to have with Jet Blue.

I like JetBlue, but some of the planes seem to be getting a little grotty. Five hours inhaling the rich aroma of seats that have been sat in by thousands of sweaty travelers on the packed flights of an airline that can't afford to deep clean the interior too often--not so pleasant! But JetBlue also has lots of new planes, and I've discovered a secret, near-foolproof way to tell the new ones from the old ones without memorizing tail numbers: They all have a "name" painted on the nose, a name with the word "Blue" in it. The earlier, older planes got the obvious names ("True Blue"). Later planes, of necessity, got more far-fetched names ("Here's Looking at Blue, Kid"). In other words, you can tell how skanky your JetBlue plane is going to be by how stupid its name is. The stupider the better. When I saw that the plane for my return flight was called "Devil with a Blue Dress," my heart soared. Sure enough, it was a grot-free flight. ... Next time I'm hoping for "Me & You & a Plane Named Blue."
This is the kind of valuable insight into your own operations that you can garner from tracking your business name and keywords on blogs. Better get over to Technorati and set up some watchlists and keyword search feeds right away. Especially if you are with Jet Blue, you'll want to find out how many blogs are picking up on this comment from Slate.

via B2Day

January 27, 2005 in Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Building B2B Relationships: Colaboration Tool

Sarah Eaton over at our sister blog Betuitive: Actionable Results points to great stuff all the time. Today she points to a great tool for collaboration with customers. Working on a project together? Why not create and share a to-do list online. Sarah points to the tool here.

While you are there be sure and grab the feed. You'll find some interesting stuff.

January 27, 2005 in Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Customer Intuition Tool: Try A Photo Contest

Want to see how your customers use your product? Maybe get insight's into new solutions you can develop products for. Why not sponsor a photo contest and ask readers of your blog or email newsletter to to email photos of themselves or coworkers using your product, wearing your t-shirts, sporting your logo, etc. In these days were camera phones are becoming more and more common and most workspaces have access to at least one digital camera it's easy for people to capture imagery. These photos will not only give you great human content for your blog and e-newsletter, but a potentially great anthropological study into how your customers think about your products.

Flickr_logoWhile you are thinking about that why not drop by the photo sharing service flickr and do a search for your product, customers, industry, competitor, keywords, etc. to see what pops up. You might find some surprising things. For extra credit try creating RSS feeds of your chosen search results so you can track new postings in your newsreader.

January 11, 2005 in Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Corporate Blogs: Good Windshield Tour

Fortune magazine has a good overview of the recent major events in the blogosphere. Since you are reading this blog you know something about blogs but this piece will give you a nice overview of recent happenings.

Blogs are great customer intuition tools since they invite customer feedback through comments and links. Sometimes you can know what a customer is thinking by observing body language, facial expression or tone of voice. At scale this is increasingly difficult. Blogs provide instant global access and a feedback channel that is of great value to the smart companies who know they should be in on the conversations about them and their products. Intuiting how customers are thinking and feeling about your product is as close as engaging them in real dialog about their experiences with your products. Blogs are an excellent venue for such conversations.

Some of the PR problems the article talks about make the case for why it's important to consider outsourcing your corporate blog to experienced bloggers and writers who can help foresee potential pitfalls and opportunities inherent in strategic internet marketing with blogs.

[read]

January 4, 2005 in Blog Outsourcing, Blogging Tools, Blogs, Corporate Blogging, Customer Intuition Tools, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Collecting AIM Screen Names

Do you use IM? Do your customers? Just as the collection of email addresses is difficult as people are spam averse the collection of Instant Message (AIM) usernames is also difficult. The good news is that it can be incentivesed. Simply offer a value exchange.

Set up a special AIM account with a special away message that could include something like a special code for a discount on their current invoice. Change these codes frequently. Log this account so that you can go back and capture the screen names and add them to your buddy lists so you can know next time your customers are online.

Once you are set up simply use your other communication tools to promote your special discount. Add it to your e-newsletter, voicemail greeting, e-mail signature file, etc.

Once you have the screen names find useful value added ways to use them. Don't just feed the same content through the new channel. This is especially true for IM since it's a very personal communication channel. You want to use it to follow up on orders that have shipped or very simple questions/verifications regarding open orders.

"Sue, did you get the order we shipped on Tuesday?" or "Tom, I see you only ordered three widgets this month. Last month you ordered five. Is this correct?

December 30, 2004 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Intuition Tools, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Enewsletter Sample Article

If you haven't signed up for the BeTuitive Newsletter I want to share an article you missed.

BeTuitive is all about actionable results through dynamite enewsletters and blogs. Toward that end we have some excellent writers who really know their stuff. If you want to have an excellent newsletter that engages readers you've got to have good headlines.

If the Headline Sucks, You’re History

If you are like most ambitious writers – or you are the person who relies on their work – chances are you sweat, furrow your brow and stay up way-too-late fretting over the perfect copy.

Many a caffeine-driven writer worries; they wonder how to best button-hole important sources, ask probing questions, capture local color and structure an article into pithy, compelling prose.

Yet, there’s something that is far too often overlooked in the quest for Pulitzer Prize perfection: If the headline fails to capture readers’ interest, the story will go unread.

The same is true of digital marketing copy. If your “headline” is not persuasive, your message will fail to help you forge closer relationships and attract the interest of potential clients. A “headline” can be that line of words above an article, or the introductory words that label a Web page. A “headline” can also be the subject line in an email message.

A headline acts as the bridge over the gap between the creation of a good story and the reading of it. It must offer the essence of a story, boiled down to fit into a limited space. The headline’s job has always been critical in print publications. It is arguably more critical in the message-crowded world of electronic customer communications.

So, how do we make each headline into something that demands, screams or sweetly whispers “Read me” ?

Try three strategies:...continue reading

Sign-up for the BeTuitive Newsletter

December 20, 2004 in Blog Outsourcing, Corporate Blogging, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Email Newsletter Outsourcing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Email Newsletter Writing Tools

One of the best things the blogsphere can do these days is to equip readers with useful tools and tips that can save valuable time and effort. Mark Frauenfelder over at Boing Boing has been recommending some great tools and services of value to anyone needing to record interviews or dictation and then transcribe the audio to text.

First Mark recommended Audio Recorder which is an OS X application for recording MP3 files directly to a computer hard drive. (note: there are many PC apps that can do this as well)

Mark uses Audio Recorder with a telephone connector to record telephone interviews. The built in microphone on a laptop might be all that's needed to record a meeting or presentation.

Next Mark recommends a transcription playback software:

I've been using iTunes to play back the files, but last night Boing Boing reader Mason told me about a $20 transcribing program called Listen&Type. I gave it a whirl, and I'm sold on it. Here's why: (1) You don't have to switch back and forth between iTunes and a text editor to stop and start the recording. Listen&Type lets you set up keyboard commands so you can stop and start the audio without leaving your text editor. (2) You can skip back 5 seconds by entering a keyboard command. There are some other functions, too, such as marking, but features 1 and 2 have made me an instant fan.

He then points to information about transcription services that will take your uploaded mp3 files and transcribe them to text files using human typists. While these services aren't perfect they are a useful resource for writers needing to transcribe megs of MP3s.

Tools like these can help you develop content first class content for your email newsletters, blogs, reports, studies etc. Load up and go get those customer interviews for your next issue.

December 15, 2004 in Blogging Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Content Items For Newsletters

We have been trying an experiment here at BeConnected. We have been posting a daily "On this day in history" factoid daily. We did this as an example of a technique you might employ with your email marketing newsletters. By building a spot for relevant history factoids into your email newsletter template you are giving away a bite sized chunk of content that could positively impact your open rates. As I have posted about before, readers may be motivated to open and scan your e-newsletter simply for the extras you provide. Cartoons, polls, factoids, photo contests, etc. are all simple ways to connect with your readership that just may get and keep attention for your opt-in email marketing.

By the way we're giving all the staff writers and crack researchers of the "on this day in history" department the rest of the year off for the holidays.

December 15, 2004 in Business Marketing, Current Affairs, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Email Newsletter Outsourcing, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

On December 14, 1902

The first telegraph cable was laid across the Pacific Ocean. Fast intercontinental communications is only about a century old. Who knows where things will be in another 100 years.

December 14, 2004 in Educating Clients and Prospects | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

On December 13, 1978

The first US$1 Susan B. Anthony coin is introduced. The coin has had a difficult time being accepted as it is too similar to the quarter. Changes to coins in the US is difficult do to the vending machine industry.

December 13, 2004 in Educating Clients and Prospects | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

On December 12, 1901

Guglielmo Marconi made the first trans-atlantic radio broadcast.

December 12, 2004 in Educating Clients and Prospects | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

On December 11, 1816

Indiana becomes the 19th state in the union.

December 11, 2004 in Educating Clients and Prospects | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

On December 10, 1993

Shareware version of computer game DOOM is released. Doom was the genre defining first person shooter game that many say ushered in the modern age of video gaming.

December 10, 2004 in Educating Clients and Prospects | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Knowing Where You Are Calling

Has the concern over off-shoring of call centers gone mainstream? I just spotted a TV spot for 1800 Dentist that clearly states that their operators are "right here in the USA."

Have you found any sensitivity to the issue of off-shoring call centers in your marketing work?

December 9, 2004 in Advertising, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Current Affairs, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication, Television | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

On December 9, 1953

General Electric announces that all Communist employees will be discharged from the company.

Just 51 years ago we Americans were hunting communists in our midst. My how times have changed.

December 9, 2004 in Educating Clients and Prospects | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

John Moore on Three Types of CMOs

John Moore over at Brand Autopsy shares some thinking about Chief Marketing Officers:

In the “Discipline of Market Leaders,” Tracey and Wiersema proposed three distinct value disciplines companies can follow to market leadership: (1) operational excellence, (2) product leadership, and (3) customer intimacy. Their research showed the most successful companies excel at one value discipline and deliver satisfactory results in the other two areas.

For example, Wal-Mart excels at being operationally excellent and is satisfactory in product development and satisfactory in being intimate with its customer base. Nike excels at product leadership and is satisfactory in the other two areas. And Harrah’s excels best at customer intimacy and is satisfactory in the other two disciplines.

With the “Discipline of Market Leaders” as context, I propose we think of these three CMO models – Marketing Service Provider, a Marketing Advisor, and Driver of Growth – as the Discipline of Marketing Leaders.

Using this understanding, successful CMOs must choose one of the following three marketing management models to excel at and be satisfactory in the other two models.

Have a read. Do you see yourself in any of these three categories?

Metaphors and comparisons are a good way to frame just what it is that you are trying to do or frame your point of view in ways that others can understand.

[read]

December 8, 2004 in Blogs, Business Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

On December 8, 1996

The North American Free Trade Agreement ( NAFTA) is signed into law by US President Bill Clinton.

December 8, 2004 in Educating Clients and Prospects | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What to Not Do With PowerPoint

Touch Points posts a nice piece on the Dos and Don'ts of PowerPoint. This is great basic information. I don't think it can be said too many times. Just because the software can make it spin, fly, flash, flame, dance, sing and explode doesn't mean a)you have to do it and b)you should do it.

Most of the reasonable useful functions for PowerPoint arrived several versions ago. Microsoft has continued to add bells and whistles to sell the upgrades not to add useful functionality.

If only the main points are on the screen, the audience will realize their importance. Don't overwhelm your audience with techno-fluff. The power of technology is neither the point of your PowerPoint presentation, nor the strength of it. The technology should be used only sparingly or to reinforce the information you have to share. After all, your goal is to make sure they leave the room with the right information.

[read]

December 7, 2004 in Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

On December 7, 1863

Richard Sears founder of namesake department store was born in Stewartville, MN. Sears founded Sears Roebuck & Co. with watch repairman Alva Curtis Roebuck in 1887. Their first catalog consisted of watches and was published in 1893.

What would he think of the recent merger with Kmart?

December 7, 2004 in Educating Clients and Prospects | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

On December 6, 1768

The first edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica was published.

Originally just 3 volumes, the current version is 32 volumes on paper for $1400 or CD-Rom for $50.

December 6, 2004 in Educating Clients and Prospects | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 5, 1766

In London, James Christie holds his first sale (he later founded Christie's, the world's oldest auction house).

The auction business has been around along time.

December 5, 2004 in Educating Clients and Prospects | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

On December 4, 1991

Innovative Pan Am Airways discontinued service. An icon of the commercial airline business was dead. Founder Juan Trippe was credited with moving the airline industry into the jet age with the adoption of the Boeing 707 and later the Boeing 747.

December 4, 2004 in Educating Clients and Prospects | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

On December 3, 1967

After a 65 year run the luxury train 20th Century Limited made it's last trip from NYC to Chicago. The glory days of train travel were over.

December 3, 2004 in Educating Clients and Prospects | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

On December 2, 1939

La Guardia Airport opened. The airfield is built on an earth filled metal framework that causes interference for aircraft compasses.

December 2, 2004 in Educating Clients and Prospects | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

25 Ways to Unsnag Air Travel

The Washington Post has an article with 25 tips for frequent air travelers to reduce airport and travel snags. Most of these items are nothing new but there are some good web resources listed. Worth a read.

[read]regreq

December 1, 2004 in Current Affairs, Educating Clients and Prospects, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

B2B Lead Generation Blog

B2b_lead_gen_blogAll the cool marketing kids are reading B2B Lead Generation Blog. Shouldn't you be also?

Brian links to studies and stories relevant to generating and nurturing sales leads in B2B marketing organizations. Cool!

From a recent post:

Sales people want selling time more than sales leads


Ask most executives and marketers what sales people need and they will say, "more leads." Your sales people don’t want more leads actually, what they want is "more effective selling time."


A recent report by Aberdeen Group, “Sales Effectiveness: Helping Sales Sell” concludes, “The number one issue for most CEO's and Marketers is lead generation - getting more leads to their sales team." The number one desire for sales people however, is MORE selling time with “sales ready” opportunities.

[read]

December 1, 2004 in Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Customer Intuition Tools, Educating Clients and Prospects, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

On December 1, 1913

The Ford Motor company introduced their first moving assembly line that cut chassis assembly time from over 12 hours in October to 2 hours and 40 minutes. Thus began the era of mass production. Technology was spawning massive productivity gains long before the 1990s.

December 1, 2004 in Educating Clients and Prospects | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Shaping Your Reputation

This pdf file points out that Americans are taking their love of ranking and reviewing to the internet in huge ways. From the report:

The Pew Internet & American Life Project has found that 26% of adult internet users in the U.S., more than 33 million people, have rated a product, service, or person using an online rating system. These systems, also referred to as "reputation systems," are online applications that allow users to express their opinions and read opinions posted by other participants.

The data, collected as part of a tracking survey conducted in May and June, provide new evidence that a substantial number of internet users exploit the two-way communication feature of the internet. The findings also add to the picture we have about the substantial number of Americans who contribute content to the online commons.

Points out the importance of shaping the reputation of your brand, product or company doesn't it? One of the best ways to shape the reputation of your offerings is to establish a corporate blog. A blog will help put a personality to your company. While voice and personality are important knowing what to do with your blog and how to do it is important also. Consider outsourcing your blog. That enables you to shorten the learning curve and bring experience to your blog from day one. You don't film your own TV commercials do you? You outsource them. You should do the same with your corporate blog.

[via]

December 1, 2004 in Advertising, Blog Outsourcing, Blogs, Building Customer Community, Corporate Blogging, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Open with A Life Hack

One of the most useful things you can do with your email marketing newsletter is to provide useful life hacks to your readers. These are short simple memorable tips for making life easier. Well written useful relevant life hacks can boost your open rates as readers come to expect something usable in each issue. Even if your particular content isn't directly relevant at that time it may be the expectation of a useful life hack that gets you e-newsletter opened. Once opened of course it's up to your creative and headlines to further engage the reader.

Life hacks can be found all over the internet. Here's one I just found over at 43 Folders:

So, you’re going to a ticketed event, like a concert or a ball game. It’s out of town. You’re carpooling with four other people. How do you ensure that everyone in the car has their ticket with them?

The car doesn't move until each person takes out their ticket and holds it to their forehead.

Been doing it for 20 years, and you’d be amazed how often it saves the day.

[read]

November 30, 2004 in Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Business Marketing, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

On November 30, 1960

Chrysler discontinued production of the DeSoto automobile brand. The DeSoto once rivaled Oldsmobile and Pontiac in the mid-price range. Sharing too many design elements and body parts with chrysler caused DeSoto to loose it's way in the late 1950s.

November 30, 2004 in Educating Clients and Prospects | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

On November 29, 1877

Thomas A Edison demonstrated the first phonograph. Wax cylinders to MP3 files in 127 years.

November 29, 2004 in Educating Clients and Prospects | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

OTD in 1907

On this day in 1907 Louis B. Mayer opens his first movie theater in Haverhill, MA. Later in 1917 he founded the precursor of MGM Studios. As head of production for the new MGM, Louis B. Mayer made it the most successful motion picture studio in the world, and was the only one to pay dividends throughout the Great Depression of the 1930s.

November 28, 2004 in Educating Clients and Prospects | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

OTD in 1924

On this day in 1924 the first Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade was held.

November 27, 2004 in Educating Clients and Prospects | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

OTD in 1778

On this day in 1778 Captain James Cook was the first european tourist to visit the Hawaiian island of Maui.

November 26, 2004 in Educating Clients and Prospects | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

OTD in 1835

On this day in 1835 businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie was born.

November 25, 2004 in Educating Clients and Prospects | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Six Questions to Ask Customers

Thursday is Thanksgiving here in the US. I am reminded that the coming holidays are an excellent time to grow your customer intuition. More than an opportunity to send another tin of popcorn, the holiday season is an opportunity to connect personally with your customers. While not everyone has a lot of time to talk with you, many will appreciate the personal touch. Launch your contact manager or CRM system, pick up the phone and ask a customer these six questions:

-What have we done for you this year that has gone well and why?
-What could we have done better?
-What could we be doing better to help you and your business prevail?
-Are you aware that we (also carry xyz products, can do xyz, etc.)? This is a great opportunity to make customers aware of new products or initiatives your company has to offer. This requires some skill and tact to gauge the openness and receptivity to hearing about these new things. Over time you will be able to determine your customers openness to your verbal communication.
-Is there anything we can do for you between now and the end of the year? The last month of the year is a good time to ask for some additional business as many business leaders are spending the last of their budgets. Those who operate on a spend it or loose it budget may be especially interested in doing some year end business.
-Would you like to hear more from us about (the topic of your email newsletter)? Ask them if you can add them to your subscriber list to receive your e-newsletter.
Don't forget to thank your customers for their support and their business. Your customers may like the holiday gift you send but they will really appreciate the personal attention and interest from you even more. Who knows you may gain some new business directly from these calls. You may not even see the results until the next buying cycle. Connecting one on one improves your customer intuition.

November 23, 2004 in Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Current Affairs, Customer Centric, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Have I Caught You at A Good Time?

That's a question that a lot of sales and marketing people have been taught to ask as part of their sales training. Using the telephone for sales and marketing is an art form. Some people are naturals and have a strong intuitive sense about the party on the other end of the line. Conversely some are simply clueless to all but the most blatant direct statements. In this era of increasing B2B telemarketing(spam if you will) legitimate sales calls are meeting with less tolerances and shorter attention spans.

So what's a marketer to do? Hire well, of course, get the best telephone intuitives that you can. Beyond that you can train your people to always have a WIFM(What's in it for me) Benefit for person they are calling. Always do their homework so they have value to add to the person, the business, the sale or the relationship BEFORE making the call. This is a lot like developing the content for your e-marketing newsletter. The content and headlines need to be of value to the recipient or they won't bother reading it and interacting with the offers you are making. And forget about future e-mail newsletters.

Yes, people are busy and not always available to talk to a marketer but over time they will equate your call with the WIFM and realize that it's in their best interest to take your call.

November 22, 2004 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Study Finds Mondays are A Key Shopping Day

This study has some interesting finding:

On another note, aQuantive's Atlas DMT today released an online holiday shopping study, which reports that Mondays are the busiest online shopping day. The finding points to the fact that consumers shop in physical store locations during the weekend, then jump online on Mondays to comparison shop.

The Atlas study reports that Fridays, typically slow days for online shopping, are stronger than usual during the holidays.

Other findings:

• The most active online shopping day in 2003 was December 15, versus December 10, in 2002. Last December 15th posted a 140 percent increase in sales over an average holiday shopping day.

• Weekdays between noon and 3 p.m. EST, are the most active online shopping days during the holidays.

• Apart from December, November and January are strong months for retail advertisers, showing an approximate 20 percent increase in sales, compared to September, October, and February.

Atlas DMT anonymously analyzed holiday shopping behavior from November 23, 2003 to January 31, 2004 across 28 companies whose online campaigns are managed using the Atlas Digital Marketing Suite.

The important thing here is how this information from the B2C world impacts the efforts of B2B marketers.

Because people are in shopping mode on mondays does that make them more or less interested in B2B marketing offers at the same time?

Because prospects and customers are in shopping mode should B2B marketing communication include Holiday related B2C product recommendation/review information to enhance open rates or perception of value?

Does this information make you rethink you email newsletter marketing plans? Content choices? Sending schedules?

There is a lot of art and strategy to interactive permission marketing. So much is trail and error testing but there is a lot of room for using customer intuition in crafting your plans.

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November 22, 2004 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Viewing Content Online Leads Other Activities

USA Today has reprinted an article from the Christian Science Monitor about a study that show content is king on the internet. This is good news for those using content to reach an audience online (read:bloggers)

From the article:

Last month, people spent 40.2% of their time online viewing content, more time than they spent on communication (39.8 %), commerce (15.8 %), or searches (4.3 %), according to an Internet Activity Index released Thursday. It was the second straight month that the index had shown content as the highest-rated activity.

a possible explanation:

One reason, he says, is the rise of broadband connections, which allow users to be online continuously and to quickly access content such as video and audio. The number of people using broadband to access the Internet surpassed those using dial-up phone connections for the first time in July.

It's a quality race where content is concerned. The best content wins. Where blogs and opt-in permission e-mail newsletters are concerned the quality of your content is what separates the wheat from the chaff. You need to differentiate your content to raise above the info clutter.

It's also interesting to note that numbers for broadband connections are growing to the point where more sophisticated content is now possible. Streaming video, audio, high resolution imagery, etc. will all be a part of the mix in the coming years.

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November 19, 2004 in Blogs, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, Current Affairs, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

EFF Whitepaper on Email Newsletters and Spam

Sarah Eaton over at our sister blog, BeTuitive, points to a great EFF white paper full of great information for anyone involved in opt-in email newsletter marketing. Spam is a huge problem for everyone. E-newsletter senders and receivers alike can benefit from the information here.

November 16, 2004 in E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Attention Business Travelers!

Usatoday_news_1USA Today today presents this sobering statistic.

Half of U.S. travelers heading to other countries will experience a health problem, says Phyllis Kozarsky, chief of travelers' health for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

With foreign travel surging, more Americans face the prospect of travel-related illness while abroad. For business travelers, staying home is usually not an option. But doctors and veteran foreign travelers alike say much can be done to avoid, or at least minimize, discomfort.

Do you have any tips or precautions you routinely employ to avoid becoming sick while traveling? Before they find there way into your next B2B e-mail newsletter share them in the comments.

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November 9, 2004 in Building B2B Relationships, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

More on Declining Paper Paper Readership

PeopleontrainSpeaking of declining newspaper readership. I was on the commuter train yesterday during rush hour and it occurred to me that another factor in the decline in paper newspaper readership might also be the increase in cellphone use. Many commuters fill their "train time" with cellphone calls where they may have once been reading a daily newspaper. The same can be said for a number of technologies.

I wonder what the commute was like before cellphones, audio players(CD, MP3, Cassette), DVD players laptops, PDAs, etc. No wonder people used to read newspapers. What else was there to do. They probably talked to other people as well.

Thanks to Susan for her comment on the last post pointing out that while paper newspaper readership is declining the same is not the case for newspaper content online. It has ramifications for advertising to be sure.

So why talk about this on a blog dealing with customer intuition and interactive marketing communications? It's all about knowing your customers and what their life experiences are all about.

If your customers are commuters feeding them information in commuting friendly formats might insert your message into their lives where competitors aren't. If you publish an opt-in email newsletter consider a full text .pdf print version that readers can print and read on the train. If your customers are tech savvy consider some of the new communication techniques like Podcasting that will deliver audio programming in MP3 format ready for download into a portable audio player. Podcasts can be listened to through headphones(train riders) or through a car stereo.(highway commuters) Of course it will help if you suggest to your readers how they might access your content. "Pressed for Time? Why not read me on the train home tonight."

November 9, 2004 in Advertising, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Travel, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Paper Paper: Who Reads Paper Papers

Developing customer intuition means knowing your customers and their habits and practices. Often times a study in the news will prompt a question that's relevant to a better understanding of B2B relationships and educating clients and prospects.

MarketingVox is pointing to a story that has relevance for marketers:

According to the study, over 70 percent of "newspaper loyalists" access the Internet daily, while fewer than 42 percent read a printed newspaper every day. Further, this group is heavily engaged in multi-channel shopping, meaning they use newspapers, the Web and brick and mortar stores to research a purchase and then make that purchase offline. As a result, Yahoo! said marketers should supplement their offline newspaper buys with placements on Internet news sites.

The relevance goes beyond just advertising buys. Knowing that fewer customers are reading paper newspapers can influence the targets for you PR plans. When you do something newsworthy and you or your PR team work to get ink make sure that you get pixels also.

A study like this raises a relevant question that is something worth asking when you talk to customers and prospects. Ask them how they get their news and what web sites they read.

Related:
Knowing What Your Customers are Interested In
More on Getting to Know Your Customers

November 4, 2004 in Advertising, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Current Affairs, Customer Intuition Tools, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

GM Tests the Blogsphere Waters

7166275638552596Mainstream marketer GM seems to be following the eyeballs. Studies continue to report that men are spending more time online vs. watching TV. Especially gearheads the hardcore aficionados that car companies love to sell high margin cars to. It appears that GM has slipped a toe into the blogsphere with a blog for the 50 year old Small Block Engine. Curious that there are no links to the main GM site.

The important thing to note here is that GM is beginning to experiment with blogs. When the big marketers catch on to the marketing power of blogs all things blog will tip. Thousands of new people will be introduced to blogs and blogging.

Wisely GM and their PR people are starting small with a product blog that will give them some experience before they expand to the many possibilities for product blogs for GM. Can you say Corvette Blog?

More on getting started with a Blog.

November 1, 2004 in Blog Outsourcing, Blogs, Building Customer Community, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Getting Started With Bloglines

Have you made the jump to a newsreader? Many people use bookmarks for their blog reading. Some rely on a service like blogrolling to show them when blogs update. The problem with either of these systems is that it's slow and inefficient. Both require you to load the full page of each blog simply to read the latest posts. The advantage of using a newsreader is that it automates the process of reading just the latest content from your favorite blogs.

I often recommend those just starting out with newsreaders try a free web based reader to get their feet wet. Bloglines is the service of choice. Steve Ruebel of Micro Persuasion points to this fine tutorial that will help you get started.

The conversations are happening. Bloggers are talking about your company, product and customers. Shouldn't you participate?

October 29, 2004 in Blogging Tools, Blogs, Building Customer Intuition, Corporate Blogging, Customer Intuition Tools, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Marketing Like A Sailor

David Wolfe over at Ageless Marketing makes a great analogy for marketing in today's market conditions. He describes the differences between marketing like a powerboater vs a sailer.

Marketers will increasingly find greater success by acting less like powerboaters slicing their way through their watery environments paying little heed to others. They will learn that the sailor’s mindset works better in today’s markets than the powerboater’s mindset.

Reflect a moment on differences between power boating and sailboating: Except in extreme conditions, powerboaters can ignore the forces of wind, wave and current, and reach their destinations. However, sailors can only reach their destinations by collaborating with the forces of wind, wave and current.

Interersting. Perhaps one of the best ways to market like a sailor is to be aware of market conditions just like a sailor would read the wind and sea conditions. At BeTuitive we work with freelance writers who are themselves dialed into their specific industries to provide content that is relevant and valuable to our clients and their subscribers. Beyond industry knowledge we can intuit exactly what customers are interested in by knowing what elements of the e-newsletter they read. The combination of these two strategies provides extremely valuable marketing intelligence to our clients helping them learn to sail through both the good market conditions and the challenges faced by today's savvy business marketers.

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October 27, 2004 in Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Email Newsletter Outsourcing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Connect by Defining Yourself

22901_4434Speaking of words. Are there industry terms or acronyms that you find yourself defining over and over for your clients and customers? I found this to be the case when I worked for an architectural firm. We constantly had to define our terms and jargon. Clients often didn't want to admit that they didn't understand a term we were using to describe some aspect of their project. Many were image conscious and not wanting to appear uninformed or worse stupid. Others felt they would insult us by asking too many basic questions.

Defining terms, lingo and jargon needs to be a staple of your marketing communication. Definitions make a great regular feature in each issue of your opt-in permission based email marketing newsletter.

For the next two weeks keep a notepad with you during phone calls and meetings. Every time you use jargon, a common industry term or acronym write it down or add a tick mark. Every time you are asked to define or explain a term make a star by that term. At the end of the two weeks you will have a prioritized list of the industry terms that your clients and customers need to understand.

If you really want to connect with customers you need to have a common language with which to converse and express yourselves. Defining your terms is a great first step.

October 11, 2004 in Building B2B Relationships, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Getting Practical: Building Trust From Customers

Last week USA Today reported that shopping malls across the country are cracking down on teenagers in their malls. As a response to fights and "clogged hallways" malls have curfews and escort policies that require teens to be accompanied by their parents.

There's a trust breaker. I'm sure that teens everywhere can't wait to be seen at the mall with their parents.

Beyond being bad for sales from the teens, these teen targeted unfriendly policies teach an entire generation of future adults that the mall is NOT the place for them to shop. If you alienate them at 17 how hard do you think it will be to get them through your door at 21?

Creative Graphic Management(CGM) a Chicago based printing and promotional goods company points to a great idea:

If you want to tap into this large disposable income segment, you could create a teen board to act as a focus group whether you run a mall or any entity that desires business from teens. By giving a group of teens a vested interest and a voice, it could also go a long way toward self policing and taking care of property.

But remember, teens are just as crunched for time as everyone else, so make the time they invest in your board worth their while. When they come in for focus group activities or volunteer at mall events, give them logoed merchandise as thank-you gifts. Create a cool logo for the board so the teens will be proud of being on it and want to use or wear logoed merchandise. (Let them decide between several choices what they think is cool.)

By teaching teens to trust and understand the interests of a Mall operator from the inside as part of a Teen Advisory Board you not only keep them engaged as a teen shopper but you build lasting trust and loyalty as the teen becomes an adult. With teens of course we're talking about more than just one individual we're talking about their entire social network.

Can you identify a "Trust Buster" in your own business and think of ways to turn them around?

September 23, 2004 in Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Current Affairs, Customer Centric, Customer Intuition Tools, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

More on Getting to Know Your Customers

Comments from Sarah and Susan both pointed to the key challenge in Getting to Know Your Customers. Knowing when your interaction with customers is welcome and when it is unwelcome, intrusive and irritating. The key is polished customer intuition.

In his last column for Fast Company magazine, Seth Godin addresses issues of trust by comparing the actions of marketers to those of friends and family:

What would happen if your friends and colleagues treated you the way marketers do?

What if your spouse sold your personal information to anyone who would pay for it? If your boss promised you miraculous changes and then failed to deliver? If your co-workers refused to talk to you unless you spent half an hour on hold first?

He continues:

Why do we hate marketers so much?

We don’t just hate them. We ignore them. We distrust them. In fact, when a marketer actually keeps his promise to us, we’re so surprised we tell everyone we know.

He's right isn't he? Even as professional marketers we cringe when we are personally disrespected by short sighted marketers interested more in a sales transaction than building a lasting B2B relationship. And then he nails it:
Somewhere along the way, marketers stopped acting like real people. We substituted a new set of ethics, one built around “buyer beware” and the letter of the law. Marketers, in order to succeed in a competitive marketplace, decided to see what they could get away with instead of what they could deliver.
That's significant: Somewhere along the way, marketers stopped acting like real people. That's a huge clue in developing your customer intuition.

If you act like a real person and use your people skills to intuit the mood and receptivity of your customers on an ongoing basis. If customers don't return your phone calls and emails it's time to reevaluate what the possible reasons may be. Chances are it's one of three things:

Wrong Communication Style - You may be trying to get a response on the wrong channel. You may be leaving voicemail messages when you should be sending email messages or vice versa.

Information Free Communication - You may not be providing enough actionable information in your communication. You aren't helping busy people if you leave messages with no content. "Call me…" or "Just touching base to see if you have any questions." Doesn't help people. Contrary to what people request leaving just your name and number doesn't help them decide to return your call. Do you have personal friends who do this? "Hi, John, it's Jane. Call me. Bye." What she didn't say is that she's calling to see if you want to go to the movies in one hour. Without that information John might wait until tomorrow to call her back and miss the opportunity. Business people do the same thing by not offering new relevant information in communicating with customers. "Jill, this is Jack Hill. I have a new idea about how our product can help you with your xyz challenge. Please call me." vs. "Jill, it's Jack Hill. Please call me."

Not Interested - Your people skills and intuition should clue you in when someone isn't responding because they aren't interested. If you are doing the first two correctly and still no response it's time to move on. Build relationships where you can and move on when a prospect isn't interested.
These are basic relational intuition principles.

If you enter relationships looking to advance the interests of the other party then they will welcome your communication. If you provide them with a constant flow of valuable ideas, referrals, recommendations, ideas, connections and appreciation people will respond and welcome your efforts to build a mutually beneficial B2B relationship.

So before you Connect with your next customer ask yourself "What's in it for them?" What do you have to offer them. How are you earning their attention. If you have nothing for them or you only need something from them skip the connection. You risk wasting your customers time. Find a way to add value to their life and they'll welcome hearing from you.

Sign-up for the BeTuitive Newsletter to find out more about building b2b relationships.

September 21, 2004 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Customer Centric, Customer Intuition Tools, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Getting to Know Your Customers

Have you called any customers today? Not to problem solve or sell them but to connect with them.

A simple phone call can mean a lot. Conduct a little customer behavior research by casually interviewing them. Find out what their greatest business challenge is this month. Find out where they are really succeeding. Ask them to tell you stories about what's going on in their business or industry. Ask them what they are reading.

Try and get to know them a little better. Ask open ended questions. Ask if they have any family that's effected by the hurricanes this month. This is a great ice breaker to find out some useful personal information about your client. If they say yes you can follow up asking where they are and how they have come through it all. If they say no you can easily ask where their family is located and where they grew up.

Why do this? Why take up your time and theirs? Because it offers a wealth of information you can use. Any stories you hear about a customers business can generate ideas for new or improved offerings on your part. If they face a challenge you have found your way through you might offer some sound advice that will strengthen your B2B relationship and their customer loyalty.

Personal information can inform your efforts to connect with them on their birthday. You might find out that they grew up in Kansas City. Next time you close a deal with them you might send them a bottle of Zarda's Barbecue sauce (a local favorite) as a thank you. They will appreciate the fact that you remembered a personal detail about them. The point is you can personalize your B2B relationships so that customers and prospects treat you as a friend and a business partner not just a salesman.

How do you do all this? A simple usable Customer Relationship Management(CRM) system is a must. These memory aids can be hugely valuable when it comes to tracking customer details. Most good systems allow you to track customer contact information and communication details. Notes from phone calls, emails, letters, meetings should be logged for future follow up.

CRM systems also interface with calendar systems allowing you to set memory ticklers to prompt follow-ups with contacts you are building b2b relationships with. Client casually mentions their upcoming vacation or their daughters wedding. Why not set a follow up phone call to see how everything went?

Seems simple but how many people are doing it? Everybody is busy but a few phone calls or timely emails can go a long way when trying to forge profitable B2B relationships.

Update: More on Getting to Know Your Customers

September 17, 2004 in Building B2B Relationships, Customer Centric, Customer Intuition Tools, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Join the Conversation Customers are Already Having About You

B2B Online has a nice article about B2B blogging. Included is this key insight:

"We as an industry haven't gotten over the psychological barrier to realize that our readers, the members of the industry we serve, talk with one another," Hammock[Rex Hammock, Hammock Publishing] said. He said a Weblog can bring the unheard conversations that occur in the aisles of trade shows out into the open.
This is exactly the point of B2B blogs. Having a conversation with customers and prospects is critical to conversion in these information rich times. Customers are hungry for more information about a company, product, service or experience. They want access to the story behind the headlines and press releases. Blogs are an excellent way to give your business or brand a personality that customers want to converse with.

More information: Blogs: What are They Good For

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September 16, 2004 in Blog Outsourcing, Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Connecting with Birthdays

Collecting and acknowledging birthdays is a critical marketing function. Personally acknowledging a person's birthday captures their attention and connects with them emotionally. It's an opportunity to connect the relevance of your offerings to their life. Markets are becoming connections and conversations. In that context making a connection and obtaining attention are critical.

Collecting birthday information is as important as how you use it. There are many ways to collect birthday information from customers. Some are better than others. Just as people are increasingly wary of submitting their email address for fear of spam people are hesitant to submit personal information such as birthdays and other demographic information.

The key to overcoming the resistance to submitting accurate information is to earn trust and provide incentives in exchange for information. Presenting a professional image through high quality web design and professional email marketing materials projects a serious organization that readers can trust. Being upfront with privacy policies provides reassurance to hesitant readers that their information will not be abused. Incentives can be anything of value to your chosen audience that makes it worth their time and effort to sign up. In B2C markets this is often in the form of discount coupons, gift certificates, loyalty points, etc. In the B2B markets this can be special reports, white papers, e-books, .pdf files, software applets, audio files, sample chapters from books, etc.

Once you have a way to collect information from customers and prospects it's important to have a plan for how you will use the information.

In the case of Birthdays it's an opportunity to connect with people. Birthdays are a time to draw emotional lines for people. Connecting past, present and future for people creates a bond that earns attention and loyalty for your business.

Three things your Birthday acknowledgements should do:

Connect People with the Past: By providing "this day in history" type data chunks for a specific person's birthday demonstrates you value them enough to provide personalized relevant information that stimulates their memories.

Immediate Value Offering: Providing a discount or gift certificate demonstrates you value and appreciate them today as a customer or a prospect.

A Next Step Offering: Give people an opportunity to take their relationship with your company to the next level. This could be "insider" type information, a personal audio greeting from the CEO, an invitation to participate in an invitation only online forum or survey, a VIP type group membership, etc. Basically anything that provides a person with a feeling that they have a special connection to your company or brand will keep them interested and loyal to your offerings.

Birthday acknowledgements should not be a time to sell people. Don't send messages that mention a birthday in passing on the way to sell more stuff. People don't want to mentally move your company from relevant to spammer and click "unsubscribe" from your business. Birthdays are a time to strengthen the relevance not screw it up.

Find out more about what BeTuitive can do for you.

September 13, 2004 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Customer Centric, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Tylenol "Whispers" to Those in Pain

Anastasia over at Ypulse has pointed to a Fortune story about Tylenol's "Whisper" marketing to the pain obsessed 20 something generation. They recruit "pain partners" who are quietly funded to talk up pain (and presumably Tylenol) around the extreme sports crowd that's hyper aware of the blatant sponsorship culture in which logos and samples are sprayed all over everything in site.

The results have been under the radar genuine buzz that works with this audience. The article talks about a hidden New York skate park the brand helped fund and how it's insider cred has led to a song about Tylenol on Itunes and a "free" spoof ad on Saturday Night Live.

Who needs the bad karma of organized artificial paid buzz makers like Buzz Agent when companies and their branding agencies are learning how to generate real buzz by whispering instead of shouting.

In these times when customers(especially young customers) are turned off and tuned out to traditional, some would say blatant, marketing techniques there is a real place for whisper marketing.

Go read the article and think about intuitive ways in which you might whisper to your prospects.

A good place to start might be to create a real blog(not just a short lived PR stunt blog) that builds credibility and relevancy in your marketplace. You might want to outsource it so you have the advantage of working with people familiar with the blogsphere.

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September 10, 2004 in Blog Outsourcing, Blogs, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Show Them You Know Your Stuff

Providing a small chunk of expertise free to customers and prospects wets their appetites for more. Once they know that you know your stuff they are ready to become great customers.

Chicago Web Design firm 37 Signals has compiled a graphic list of customer intuition based best practices for Holiday E-commerce web sites. This special section, designed to promote their web design services, presents examples of features they feel customers want when in holiday shopping mode.

This site works on two levels.

-Provides a resource of ideas for those looking to enhance their holiday e-commerce sites.

-Demonstrates the expertise of this design firm. The site is a great example of educating your prospects about your point of view and expertise.

The extra sauce here is the timeliness of this information. The site includes a Christmas countdown measured in days to create urgency around making sure your site is ready.

I would add to their best practices a permission based email newsletter. Why not build a list of holiday shoppers who you can remind and re-invite to your site next year.

Is there a seasonal aspect of your business? Your client's business? Can you create a timely special report that can provide value to your customers and prospects.

You can use a timely report to build a permission email list for your opt in email marketing. Simply asking interested readers to register their email address before downloading your special report is an excellent way to begin a relationship with customers and prospects.

September 8, 2004 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Centric, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Email Newsletter Outsourcing, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Legitimatly Getting Through Spam Filters

Permission marketers are taking steps to get legitimate opt-in email through spam filters. Cnet Network is launching an ad campaign to encourage it's 12 million subscribers to add the "from" address for Cnet newsletters to their email address books. Email from addresses in users address books is not typically blocked by spam filters. This is fast becoming a best practice for permission marketers. Dare I say we're all over it at BeTuitive.

[read]

August 24, 2004 in Current Affairs, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Email Newsletter Outsourcing, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Being Transparent Resonates with Women

There are a lot of great blogs, authors and companies talking about marketing to women. Most often marketing to women is talked about in terms of B2C business. It's very important to know that marketing to women is important in B2B business as well. Women are great B2B customers. The same sensibilities they bring to making their personal consumer purchasing decisions they bring to business purchasing. A new voice is heard in another great piece from MarketingProfs.com, Andrea Learned author of Don't Think Pink: What Really Makes Women Buy—And How to Increase Your Share of This Crucial Market shares insights into transparent marketing:

Narrow your focus. Start with the narrowly defined but important group of the early adopters of your product or service. Get to know them and serve them well, and their passion for your brand will attract a wider audience...

Understand your customer community intimately. You can’t sit back and operate from within your industry’s vacuum. You’ve got to understand what influences women by exploring their wants and needs. Yes, this sounds a tad touchy-feely, but the results make it worth the initial discomfort. Two elements to consider in your research are “a day in the life” and “a day in the dreams” of your women customers.

Build customer feedback into the process. You’ve got to admit that gathering customer feedback when a product is already on the shelf is a little late. However, getting their feedback on product design changes and marketing strategies before you are too far along can save huge amounts of time and money. Plus, that in-the-process connection with customers establishes your company’s commitment to them and reflects the value it places on such input. Those customers who are involved in the early-on research will most certainly be some of your product’s or service’s biggest and most passionate fans. Of course, they’ll spread the word.

Focus on your product’s context. What are the key scenarios or life stages that the women in your brand’s customer community experience? Are they sitting around at the doctor’s office? Position your brand there in some way. Are they grocery shopping, driving on the Interstate, stopping into a coffee shop chain or going to Pilates classes? Be there as well, or figure out a way to partner with brands that are already there and are already trusted.

Understand and define your brand. Has it been a while since your company revisited this topic? Has the brand become diluted in trying to be everything to all people over the past 20 years? Remember transparency key No. 1 and define what your company does in order to be relevant to the very specific market you’ve identified. The uniqueness or specialization of your brand really appeals to a woman’s sense of being “in” on a great find and it also makes them want to tell others. For example, anyone can look up “day spa” in the yellow pages. But if your spa decides to specialize in and promote a 15-minute lunch-break pedicure service, the news will spread like wildfire and there will be no need for a phonebook ad.

Be authentic. Women have radar for companies that say they know women, and even put smiling women in ads, but don’t reflect real knowledge of which products women want (or how they want to buy them). Back up, with real effort, what your company professes. If you are in a traditionally male-dominated industry, build an advisory board of female customers. If you think your business is doing just fine but you haven’t touched base with any customers lately, think again. A lot of what female consumers are looking for in products and services has changed with the times. So find out what they need and deliver it in a way that reflects your in-depth research and interest in better serving them.

Of course, as many marketers will tell you. Meeting the needs of women customers often exceeds the needs of male customers. Meeting the needs of men gets you male customers. Meeting the needs of women gets you both male and female customers. Seems like something you ought to look into.

[read]

August 11, 2004 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Centric, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Hotel Forcasts the Weather

sweetdreamsMichele Miller over at WonderBranding tells the story of a company that provides information of great value to their customers that isn't necessarily about their own business. It's a free prize and as Michele demonstrates a remarkable aspect of the customer experience.

What is it? A simple card left in her hotel room that wishes her a good night's sleep and provides basic weather forecast information for the next day. Note the highlighting and temperature fill in the blank. As you can imagine this is a nice touch that requires little effort on the part of the hotel but is a memorable touchpoint for customers.

In your business what added information would be of value to your customers?

[read]

August 10, 2004 in Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Lessons for Succeeding with Enewsletters

Internet Retailer reports that Home Depot had 25,000 sign-ups to their email garden club in the first 24 hours. I think there are two lessons to this kind of success.

Valuable Content- The newsletter is about gardening not just Home Depot. Content provides real value to readers not just sales pitches. People have come to trust Home Depot to bring quality products and information to them.

Easily Spreadable- Clearly Home Depot touched a nerve with this offering. Gardeners are hungry for intelligent valuable information about plant material, tools, supplies, etc. Therefore gardeners are likely to network with other gardeners. Clearly gardening network hubs very quickly spread the word about Home Depot's new club.

These lessons apply to all email newsletters and especially B2B newsletters.

In order to become a must read newsletter you must provide content that is more than just company news and sales pitches. Articles that provide insight, analysis or news about industry events and trends provide real value to the readers. These are the e-newsletters that are opened an read consistently.

Newsletters need to find the right readers to be of value to their publishers. One of the best ways to do this is to make it easy for existing readers to share the value of your e-newsletter or e-zine with others like themselves. Just as Home Depot benefited from word of mouth as gardeners told other gardeners your business could benefit from your readers telling others about your e-newsletter. It starts by asking readers to forward your newsletter to people they think it would be relevant to. Did you know that this reader behavior can be analyzed and encouraged with incentives?

In fact there is a lot insight that can be gained from reader behavior. At BeTuitive we call it customer intuition. Not only do we strive to help businesses large and small provide excellent content but we also focus on developing valuable customer intuition by observing customer behavior as they interact with your email newsletter. To find out more schedule a 27 minute live online demonstration here.

August 9, 2004 in Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Centric, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Email Newsletter Outsourcing, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

When to Press Send

Time to send that email newsletter. A new study of 19,000 campaigns finds that Mondays are the best day to send permission marketing newsletters.

Monday is the best day to send a permission-based marketing e-mail, with a delivery rate 1% above a company's average delivery rate, and one that's twice as good as rates for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The delivery rate on Friday is slightly below average, while Saturday and Sunday see rates significantly below average; Saturday is the worst day to send an e-mail in terms of delivery rate.

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August 2, 2004 in Building Customer Intuition, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Email Newsletter Outsourcing, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Zoom in For Sales

carcamCompanies all over are finding new ways to connect with customers and enhance the buying experience. A car dealer in northern Michigan discovered a new technology at a hockey game that's providing a sales boost to his dealership.

About 40 of the on average 600 vehicles sold each month at northern Michigan auto dealer Bill Marsh Auto are now sold online, thanks in part to web cams visitors to Billmarsh.com can use to view and zoom in on cars actually on the lot. For visitors who don’t want to buy online, the feature is serving to preview cars and bring customers in the door.

This technology is proving to be extremely valuable in this remote area as customers travel up to 70 miles to visit the dealership. The user controlled features of the webcams provide prospective customers the ability to examine vehicles in detail.

Some reps even take cell phones out to the lot, showing additional detail by opening doors for an inside view, for example, at the request of online customers controlling the web cam from home or work.
Customers even use the cameras to zoom in on windshields to see the one price sticker on the vehicles.

Everywhere technology is changing how customers and business relate. As people become more and more comfortable using the web to make large and small consumer purchases their willingness to use the web to engage in B2B relationships increases.

[read]

[Bill Marsh Automotive Group]

July 28, 2004 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Centric, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Find What Touches Customers

hotel-lucia-rooms-newJason Fried over at SVN writes about hotel Pillow Menus.

At Hotel Lucia in Portland they have a “pillow menu” where you can select from soft, firm, firmer, and hypoallergenic. At the Sheraton in Seattle they have 7 pillows on a queen sized bed. What’s with the new infatuation with pillow options? I suppose it’s probably a good idea, but I just find a little humor in a “pillow menu” and 7 pillows on a single queen bed. One thing I have noticed, however, is that the quality of beds at hotels is improving.[link]
What's remarkable here is the opportunity hotels have to track this information about their customer's preference and stock the room with their preferred pillow selection on the customer's return visit.

Hotels are discovering that the greatest touchpoint a guest has with their business experience is the head/bed interface. Great attention is being paid to this interface-the pillow. In your own business are you actively identifying and tracking the greatest customer touchpoint? Perhaps it's the relationship with the sales staff person or the way your product is packed for shipping or the value add of the industry knowledge and education your company shares with customers. Whatever it is you need to find the "pillow" or what Seth Godin calls the Free Prize for your business. Not what you think is the most valuable touchpoint for your customers but what your customers consider to be the most valuable touchpoint for them. Once you find it, polish it and make it remarkable. Seven pillows on a queen sized bed was enough to start Jason Fried talking.

So what is it? What is the "pillow" in your business? Share with us in the comments what you have found is the single greatest customer touchpoint between your business and your customers.

July 22, 2004 in Building Customer Intuition, Customer Centric, Customer Intuition Tools, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Bezos Goes With His Intuition

On the train this weekend I had a chance to read yet another Jeff Bezos cover story from the August Fast Company magazine. The article written by Alan Deutschman covers a range of subjects related to Bezos. Of interest were insights into how Bezos trusts his instincts and intuition about what is good for the long term satisfaction of Amazon customers. Clearly Bezos is into "leap of faith" kind of decisions when it comes to serving the interests of customers:

What really distinguishes Bezos is his harrowing leaps of faith. His best decisions can't be backed up by studies or spreadsheets. He makes nervy gambles on ideas that are just too big and too audacious and too long-term to try out reliably in small-scale tests before charging in. He has introduced innovations that have measurably hurt Amazon's sales and profits, at least in the short run, but he's always driven by the belief that what's good for the customer will ultimately turn out to be in the company's enlightened self-interest.
However he also has a strong reputation for measuring the performance of new features and programs.
"One of Jeff's most recurrent phrases when someone has a good idea is, 'We can measure that,' " says Stonesifer. But, she adds: "It's one thing to be a data junkie who just looks at history, but Jeff takes a prospective view. He takes risks and he changes and changes."

Sometimes, Bezos says, you can't rely on facts because it would be too hard to test an idea, or too costly, or you can't figure out how to do it. And "sometimes we measure things and see that in the short term they actually hurt sales, and we do it anyway," he says, because Amazon managers don't think the short term is a good predictor of the long term. For example, they found that their biggest customers had such large collections of stuff -- especially CDs -- that they accidentally ordered items they had already bought from Amazon years ago. So they decided to give people a warning whenever this was about to happen. Sure enough, the warnings slightly reduced Amazon's sales. But it's hard to study the feature's long-term effects. Would it reduce sales over a 10-year period? They didn't think so. They thought it would make customers happy and probably increase sales. "You have to use your judgment," Bezos says. "In cases like that, we say, 'Let's be simpleminded. We know this is a feature that's good for customers. Let's do it.' "

Amazon faced similar dilemmas with its dramatic moves to cut prices and offer free shipping on orders of $25 or more, which is very costly for the company. "You can do the math 15 different ways, and every time the math tells you that you shouldn't lower prices 'cause you're gonna make less money," Bezos says, laughing inevitably. "That's undoubtedly true in the current quarter, in the current year. But it's probably not true over a 10-year period, when the benefit is going to increase the frequency with which your customers shop with you, the fraction of their purchases they do with you as opposed to other places. Their overall satisfaction is going to go up."

Clearly, Bezos makes decisions based on what is in the long term best interest of it's customers. It's a vision thing. Bezos' intuition tells him that serving the best interest of his customers over short term sales performance wins the day. Another example:
From Amazon's early days, his vision was "to create the world's most customer-centric company, the place where you can find and buy anything you want online." Within weeks of first publishing customers' reviews of products, Bezos says, "I started receiving letters from well-meaning folks saying that perhaps you don't understand your business. You make money when you sell things. Why are you allowing negative reviews on your Web site? But our point of view is we will sell more if we help people make purchasing decisions."link
When you are making decisions about your company and your customer communications are you looking out for their long term best interests? Educating customers and prospects is perhaps one of the best ways to look out for their best interests. Knowing more about your industry and specifically the problems and opportunities your products or services address is a powerful way to link customers and prospects to your brand. E-newsletters provide a great opportunity to provide world class communication and education in a format that is completely trackable and measurable.

What innovations or ideas have you implemented where short term analysis proved negative but the long term interests of customers carried the day?

July 19, 2004 in Advertising, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Centric, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Loyalty Card Data Mined for Customer Intuition

Nice article over at MarketingProfs.com about a European supermarket and the customer insights they have gleamed from their loyalty card program. Tracking customer buying activity whether it be consumer products or B2B offerings is a great way to develop your customer intuition.

From the article:

The scope and capabilities of Clubcard are astounding. Tesco collects data on each head of lettuce, can of peas, bottle of wine or other item purchased by more than 10 million Clubcard members. It analyzes this tsunami of data to send a magazine with segment-specific content and six highly targeted coupons to each member four times a year.

Four coupons are for products the customer already buys, and two are for products that the customer has never bought before but is likely to buy. As of 1999, Tesco was sending out 145,000 combinations of magazines and coupons; undoubtedly, the number is higher today.

Many promotions just rob future sales, but the analysis enables Tesco to generate more than £100 million in incremental sales each year. Another benefit: “By monitoring short-term coupon redemption rates and then tracking the ongoing transactional activity of the members across all store departments, Tesco could calculate precisely the return on investment.”

Analysis of the Clubcard program led to a great pricing insight:

“If Clubcard data could identify the products that were brought by the price-conscious customers, but not by the rest of us, then lowering those prices would have a huge benefit for them, at the lowest possible cost for Tesco…. By not knowing their customers, many retailers are effectively wasting their money on price cuts that could be targeted to people who want them because they need them.”

The targeted price cuts enabled Tesco to attract more shoppers from competitors and capture the volume that supported the lower prices—all without hurting overall corporate profitability.

Knowing what products, services and experiences your customers are interested in whether by mining data about previous behavior or by monitoring their response and behavior towards marketing communications can set your business apart.

[link]

July 13, 2004 in Building Customer Intuition, Customer Intuition Tools, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Power of Email Community

JKERRY

Still wondering about the power of Email community to break news and mobilize people? Consider this:

Democrat John Kerry plans to announce his vice presidential running mate in an e-mail to the 1 million subscribers to his campaign Web site.

But he didn't say when.

Kerry is expected to make the announcement before the July 26-29 Democratic National Convention. Typically, a presidential candidate announces a running mate at a carefully crafted campaign event.

But Kerry told KSTP, an ABC affiliate in Minneapolis, that his Web site would be the first vehicle.

"The folks who are going to learn first about my choice are going to be the people on JohnKerry.com,'' Kerry said. ``They're the people who've helped carry this campaign. They're the folks who've been part of our effort across the nation. And they'll be the first to know what my decision is.'' [link]

When organizations want to break news or simply announce information it's no longer necessary to utilize third party channels like the news media. Through email it's possible to deliver your message directly to customers who are the most interested in what you have to say. Not only is what you have to say important but building the permission email list is critical to make sure the right people receive your message.

July 6, 2004 in Building Customer Community, Current Affairs, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Tips for Developping Customer Evangelists

Ben Silverman over at PR Fuel offers some good stories of customer evangelism and some good tips.

Tips for evangelizing:

1. Offer an incentive program to existing customers that gives them free product or service in exchange for signing-up new customers.

2. Let people in the press try your product and get feedback from them - even if they're not writing about it. A few years ago, I beta tested a new online service and wrote a scathing review for the PR people. When the product launched, some of my suggestions were put into practice and I received a note of thanks from the CEO (I wasn't a member of the media at the time).

3. Reach out to your best customers. If you offer a service or product to businesses and you have key customers who express happiness with your product/service, keep in contact with these people and see how the product/service can be improved. Offer them perks in exchange for testimonials (or simply ask). When I worked for a dot-com I saved our company more than $10,000 by simply referring customers to one of our vendors. The salesman for the vendor was more than happy to give my company a discount after I helped him generate a few hundred thousand dollars in sales.

4. Create an outreach program in conjunction with your marketing department. T-shirts, hats, stickers, coupons, etc. sent to your company's biggest fans is a great way to garner some cheap attention.

5. Internally, foster a feeling of good will in the company and evangelize your own workforce. The PR department needs to act as internal barometer and help keep spirits high and the company improving. If you're outside the company, much sure your firm believes in your client. If your workers have concerns about a client, address those concerns. There's nothing worse than talking to a PR person who obviously doesn't like their client.


Of course these are exactly the kinds of things that can be communicated with e-mail newsletters and company blogs.

[link] via

June 28, 2004 in Blog Outsourcing, Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Business Marketing, Customer Centric, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Email Newsletter Outsourcing, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Work Different - Observing Millenial Work Habits

In keeping with the theme of the last post about my nephew I came across this post about characteristics of "millenials"(those born between 1980 and 2000) from Fred Dust's Neocon Keynote.

Wheras 'Gen-X' grew up with computers; the Millenials are growing up with pervasive mobile computing, which has drastically redefined their social norms. New kinds of etiquette have formed, such as 'dynamic scheduling'-- it's no longer rude to be late, as long as you are in constant communication via mobile phone or text messaging. Even when in the actual presence of others, it is not uncommon for the mobile phone to be of equal (or greater) importance. Fred saw this as a sign that this generation may be the first to see successful distance collaboration in a work context. Another observation is the 'total blur' the Millenials form between work & life. This generation is very good at multitasking and prefer to blur fun and work, and are able to tune out distractions when necessary. An example was given of an arcade that is concurrently used for doing homework-- and the students are able to segue from Trigonometry to Dance Dance Revolution (and back) seamlessly. A final trend to note is the emergence of 'evolved abilities'-- millenials have highly developed abilities in information management. Their abilities in non-linear thinking allow them to process multiple tasks at once and their comfort with technology allows them to expand their skill sets with ease.

Those who understand these new work habits and build their B2B communications with these in mind will find acceptance among young tech savvy knowledge workers.

[link]

June 23, 2004 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Business Marketing, Customer Centric, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

18 Year Old Lessons in Communications

Last night I went to my nephew's 18th birthday party. He's excited about heading off to college this fall. What I am continually struck by is how different his world is from my own experience at his age. The primary difference between us is communications technology. While I wrote letters with ink on paper to my family from college and waited in my room for my weekly phone call from my parents he goes off to college cell phone in pocket with a family plan that enables him to call and be called at any time day or night. On top of that he has email, instant messaging and blogging. His world is all about communicating. His first question when he opened his new Play Station 2 video game system was could he network it for multiplayer gaming.

His story is paralleled in marketing communications these days. New tools are making B2B communications easier and easier. Companies are busy starting B2B email newsletters and blogs to communicate with customers and prospects. Everyone talks about the value of relationship building and increased communication. Here my nephew's experience holds another lesson. All of his communication tools increase the amount of communication he has with friends and family but not necessarily the quality of his communication. Having overheard many of his cell phone conversations they seem only to verify that everyone is simply hanging out, nothing is being done and not much is actually up.

New communication tools lead to increased communications but not necessarily increased value in that communication. Unless you can consistently provide high quality valuable relevant content your communication will be disregarded by customers and prospects.

So how do you provide the highest quality of content that will cut through the info clutter and become a value added must read for your customers and prospects? Consider outsourcing your B2B email newsletters. There are several advantages but the greatest is the ability to tap into excellent freelance writers who bring expertise in your industry.

Why not spend three minutes on a simple questionnaire and get a price quote on your own fully outsourced B2B email newsletter .

June 22, 2004 in Building B2B Relationships, Business Marketing, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Email Newsletter Outsourcing, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Farming vs. Hunting

coinsI recently met with my financial manager who has an excellent understanding of building customer relationships. The purpose of our meeting was to discuss a realignment of financial instruments that would result in the elimination of his ongoing management fees. Was he laying me off as a client? Certainly not! He is smart enough to act in the best interest of his clients even when it results in lower fees from those clients. This is the best practice since his business is built on trust and referrals. I trust him and feel even better now that I've seen yet another example of how he supports my best interests. Will I refer him? Absolutely! That's the payoff for him. He realizes that his desire to be a "farmer" gently nurturing and tending client portfolios is evolving into more and more "hunting" finding new clients and setting up investments that will serve their needs. Of course the path to new clients is through existing clients.

Have you demonstrated your care for your clients best interests lately?

June 16, 2004 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Centric, Educating Clients and Prospects | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Feed Me

From time to time I'd like to pass on links to useful or informative sites.

BizNet Travel Blog is a site that offers informative posts and links for the business traveler.

Add the feed to your news reader and see what happens by.

June 1, 2004 in Blogs, Building Customer Community, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, Educating Clients and Prospects, Travel, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Advertising: Missing the Relationship

An interesting post about the shortcomings of contextual search engine marketing from search engine marketing guru John Bettelle. Without a known relationship between audience, publisher and advertiser there is no trust and no customer intuition being developed. Advertising may be relevant but it's not valuable.

It's this relationship which I find entirely missing in all these contextual, behavioral, paid search networks. Sure, they are "relevant" to either a search, or to the content they match. But they are driven by metadata and the actions of only one of the parties - the content of the publisher for example (AdSense), or the actions of the audience (Claria, Revenue Science, Tacoda, etc.). As far as I know, none are driven by an understanding of the give-and-take that occurs between all three parties in a consensual relationship mediated by the publication. A site which has only AdSense or behavioral advertising fails to value (or monetize) the community connection between audience, publisher, and advertiser. Advertisers in these networks are not intentionally supporting the publication, and by extension they are not supporting the community the publication has created. In essence, they are not being good citizens of the community where their advertising is being displayed.

Contextual, behavioral and paid search advertising techniques may bring you traffic and even build your email list but it is the development of your customer intuition and your 1:1 marketing communications that will build your business.

[link]

June 1, 2004 in Advertising, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Know Who Your Customers Are

Jennifer Rice over at What's Your Brand Mantra has an interesting post about knowing who your customers are not just where they are. Are you providing different customer service and support to the same people at different times and places?

Think about who your customers are, regardless of what product they use during what hours of the day. Get out of the weeds of features/benefits and talk to them like the real people they are. Earn their trust. Be likable. If you sell 'business-world' and 'home-world' products or services, stop compartmentalizing: it's quite likely that the very same customers purchase both. Identify your most valuable customers across product lines and figure out how to give them a consistently good experience with your brand. It's a different way of thinking. But when you align yourself to your customers instead of making them align themselves to you, you'll become a much more attractive choice.

May 26, 2004 in Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Centric, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sony Sees the Gap Closing

Sony Chairman and CEO, Nobuyuki Idei sees the future clearly when he says:

"I think there is going to be a huge change in the electronics industry in 2006. As the information gap ceases to exist, the power of each individual has become stronger than in the past when corporate PR still worked, and it will get even stronger in three to 10 years. Except for some countries, the era of mass production is being replaced by a power shift to individuals," which would change the way products are chosen, he said.[link]

Sony is waking up to the fact that users want to be able to customize their devices to work with other devices through their home networks. Feature choice and customization are the future. Just as IBM realized that technology services rather than hardware goodies are the key to the future of their business Sony is beginning to see that their business is less about the number of shrink wrapped units sold and more about building a communication infrastructure. Helping people navigate the complex world of technology and entertainment creates valuable bonds with customers. It's one thing for someone to buy a cd player. A customer is prepared to become a loyal customer evangelist when they are informed and educated about how that new cd player works with their existing media library and network of computers and electronic devices. Sony is learning that there is power in customers telling the story of how their Sony stuff works with all their other stuff. The key is internal and external communication. Customers want information.

The closing information gap he is talking about is the ability customers have to find out information about products and services via the Internet. Whether from corporate websites, comparison/review sites, enthusiast sites or shopping sites information abounds online. No longer is product information controlled exclusively by manufacturers and sellers.

Old school centralized corporate PR no longer works. Nuanced sophisticated PR and communication strategies do work. What's important is to know clearly what the techniques and strategies are. As email marketing and blogs proliferate the fact that content is king is more true than ever. You can produce all the content you want but unless it is of the highest value to your audience it will soon be lost in the shuffle.

At Betuitive Marketing we produce the highest quality content for our clients by establishing relationships with industry leading experts who develop custom content. If you are just starting out in the realm of emarketing or if you are looking for a way to maximize your early successes why not see what Betuitive can do for you. Spend three minute and get a price quote. Marketing communications is hard work. Why not consider outsourcing all the work?

May 24, 2004 in Blogs, Building Customer Community, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, Customer Centric, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tip Blogs Help Keep Customers Informed

Kodak which has been struggling to adapt to the changing imaging landscape has a bright spot, Ofoto.com. Ofoto is a service for uploading and printing digital images. The service includes many offerings including picture frames, photo cards, online photo albums, etc.

Recently they have started a tip blog to help customers of it's new Mac uploading application called Brownie. A good tip blog turns customers into collaborators when it comes to refining a product. Discussions that occur on blogs provide valuable feedback that may never have been gathered before.

Are there other tip blogs that you think are helpful?

May 19, 2004 in Blogs, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, Customer Centric, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wrangling the Blogsphere

Today there is a nice piece over at ClickZ about tools for identifying influential blogs. A great resource for PR people and marketers who are new to blogs and blogging. From the article:

"Word of mouth is a form of advertising, it's a form of media," Blackshaw said. "This media is getting in front of consumers at these inflection points where they are unsure about how they feel about a product."

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May 14, 2004 in Advertising, Blogging Tools, Blogs, Building Customer Community, Corporate Blogging, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Email and Doctors

A recent Herald Tribune article talks about an emerging trend of doctors using email to actively communicate with patients. Concise emails replace rambling flustered voicemail messages from patients. Insurance companies are beginning to consider benefits for charges associated with email exchanges.

How long before Doctors and other health professionals harness the power of emarketing using email newsletters and blogs to market and communicate with patients and potential patients.

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May 8, 2004 in Blogs, Building Customer Community, Business Marketing, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Big Picture

So you have a great company doing great work providing excellent products services or experiences. You're growing past the point where you can keep up with all the sales leads, prospects and customers. You don't have the budget to hire your way out of the crunch. So what are you going to do to continue communicating with your customers and potential customers while tending to the demands of executing with the same excellence that has brought you this far?

You need to find out about online interactive communications. It's the car analogy all over again. You don't need to become an engine builder or even a skilled mechanic you just need to know how to drive.

There has always been a lot of hype and hyperbole surrounding the Internet and the revolution it has ignited. What is true is that it has created some important new ways to communicate. Whether your business is technology driven or not chances are very good that your customers have online access and are open to valuable online communications from you. What's critically important in these days of spam overload is to provide high value content and information in your communications and only communicate with people from whom you have permission.

E-mail newsletters and Blogs(or weblogs) are two major forms of electronic communication that can be employed to enhance your connection and communication with customers and prospects.

E-mail Newsletters
Customers and prospective customers who are interested in learning more about your products, company and industry are often willing to sign-up(give permission) to receive a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly newsletter from you detailing additional information about your offerings. Often people will be motivated to opt in based on the perceived value of the information they will receive. Other times they may need either an incentive or tasting of your content. That's where blogs come in.

Blogs
In short a corporate blog is a place to offer fresh updated content "chunks" that give those interested in your offerings a sample of your viewpoint and your expertise in your industry. If you are reading this you have some awareness of blogs. Blogs are a vehicle for communication and, with a comments feature, a place for two-way communication. In a "Cluetrain" world where markets are conversations it's the companies that communicate openly and honestly with customers and prospects that will win market share, trust, customer loyalty and consequently increased revenues. Practically speaking blogs can attract traffic to your website and promote your e-mail newsletter. Your website and newsletter can convert prospects into customers and customers into loyal customers.

We're just touching the treetops here. Successful email newsletter publishing and blogging is a complex undertaking with a huge potential upside. They can help you move from "plate spinner" to trusted industry expert and valued supplier where marketing communication is concerned.

Continue to read BeConnected for additional information about the world of online marketing communications. We will talk in depth about email newsletter marketing and corporate blogging. We will also have a mix of news and commentary on things affecting the online marketing world.

May 7, 2004 in Blog Outsourcing, Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Corporate Blogging, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Email Newsletter Outsourcing, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack