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How Much TV Coverage Are You Getting

multivision, Inc. is a clever company that uses speech recognition and the closed captioning system for television to monitor 1,000 TV channels for client keywords, company names, customer names, competitors, etc. They are then able to build a library for clients of captured references.

It does for TV what Google News Alerts does for online news sources.

From the multivision website:

Know your customers better
The business development director at an exhibit booth manufacturer devised a way to find new business by scanning all broadcasted stories in their market that covered companies receiving venture capital funding, expanding marketing efforts or launching any new products. He received video clips of the announcements directly to his laptop and was able to call on those companies that very day.

Find new customers
An innovative account executive for an industrial lubricants manufacturer decided to take advantage of bad situations by monitoring product recalls. By scanning the news broadcasts for the first mentions of product mishaps, problems or retractions, she was able to find new leads for her company. Ultimately, she was able to add 15 new clients in her first month of "crisis monitoring."

Be where the competition is
In an effort to jump start awareness in the marketplace, a marketing manager for an established health-services company tried some unique monitoring techniques. To remain on top of the latest news and developments, he tracked not only the competitions’ media mentions but all products and services that his company didn’t. That way whenever customers inquired about other services, he knew how to respond more effectively.

A great customer intuition tool.


September 29, 2004 in Blog Outsourcing, build credibility, Television, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Outlawing GPS Customer Tracking

Global Positioning Systems(GPS) are entering mainstream use in applications that track customer behavior. Rental Car companies are equipping vehicles with these systems as an amenity to help customers. Few customers understand that these systems can also be used to track the driving behavior of vehicle renters. After a Connecticut company was found charging additional fees for customers found by a GPS system to be speeding in violation of the rental agreement. New York has now passed a law restricting companies from using GPS systems to track customer behavior. Similar laws are expected in other states.

I think Americans measure their freedom in terms of their ability to drive faster than the speed limit. Any technology or policy that strictly enforces the speed limit elicits loud objections and cries of privacy invasion.

How do you feel about the use of tracking technology to enforce contractual agreements?

September 28, 2004 in build credibility, Current Affairs | 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 Award winning publications, Blog Outsourcing, Brand enhancement, build credibility, Building Customer Community, Business newsletter, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Building Customer Trust

I've been posting lately about Getting to Know Your Customers (and here). Customer intuition, people skills and trust building are critical skills for anyone who deals with customers. Jill Griffen talks about building trust with customers in a recent piece for Marketing Profs.

Ready to get serious about building customer trust? Form a cross-functional team of employees and, together, map out the customer development stages as they apply to your firm's products/services and identify trust builders and trust breakers inherent at each customer stage.
Identifying the critical trust builders and trust breakers and responding accordingly can streamline the process of building profitable B2B relationships.


September 22, 2004 in award winning newsletter, Blog Outsourcing, Brand enhancement, build credibility, Business newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | 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 award winning newsletter, Blog Outsourcing, Brand enhancement, build credibility, Building Customer Community, Business newsletter | 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 award winning newsletter, Brand enhancement, build credibility, Building Customer Community, Business newsletter | 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


September 16, 2004 in award winning blog, award winning magazine, award winning newsletter, Award winning publications, blog publish, Blogging Tools, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Business Marketing, Business newsletter, CMO, 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 award winning newsletter, Blog Outsourcing, Brand enhancement, build credibility, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, bulk email marketing, Business Marketing, Business newsletter | 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.


September 10, 2004 in award winning blog, award winning magazine, Award winning publications, Blog Outsourcing, blog publish, Blogging Tools, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Business Marketing, Business newsletter, CMO, 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 award winning newsletter, Blog Outsourcing, blog publish, Brand enhancement, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, bulk email marketing, business credibility, Business Marketing, Business newsletter, Business publications, Business relationships, CMO, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack