E-Initiatives That Can Drive Or Drown A Business

29 Jan

By Tim A. Schultz

On a recent business trip to a major trade show I had the pleasure of having dinner with the principles of Compact Power Services. Over the course of dinner, Bob Blaschke, company COO, shared his philosophy of what makes a company successful, what makes employees successful, and how a successful company relates to its customers. And while his business concerns power services for thermal cutting operations, his E-Initiatives translate equally well into any business or any customer situation. Consequently, I have taken Bob’s E-Initiative Power Point Presentation, modified it and re-written it so that it is more generic and can be applicable to almost any company.

Bob Blaschke defined four E-Initiatives that drive and grow business, two E-Initiatives that drown it, and then added up Integrated E-Initiatives for Failure, and more important for Success.

E-1 – Efficiency in Processes, Procedures and Overall Operations – More specifically, this means maximizing revenue, minimizing costs, with the least amount of unbillable expenses, which in-turn assures invoices that cover all work performed. So how can your company and your employees accomplish E-1?

  1. By reducing travel and planning each trip with the least amount of travel expense. More specifically, it means clustering calls in the same area or on the same day, closing all calls at the same location on one trip, and sending the closest yet most qualified employee to answer and solve specific problems.
  2. By maintaining the best balance in workload. That means reducing overtime by proper scheduling and planning ahead.
  3. By maintaining correct call combinations, which means combining technical service with routine maintenance in one visit, which maximizes what any field service man can accomplish in any given day.
  4. By sending the right people with proper training to do the right job.
  5. By maintaining the right parts at the right place for the right cost, which means that field service always carries the right parts, that the warehouse never runs out of parts that are used monthly, and that shipping departments become proactive, minimizing costs while meeting required schedules.
  6. And finally, with proper and complete billing, which means fully billing the customer according to the agreement and value of the service.

E-2 – Effectiveness in Meeting and Exceeding Customer Expectations – So how can your company and all your employees contribute to achieving E-2?

  1. By providing responsive service, getting to the customer as soon as possible, when you are required and on the same day if necessary.
  2. By fixing the problem while they are there and minimizing unnecessary costs to the customer.
  3. By getting the job done right the first time with quality people, who can apply past experience to current situations, who make every effort to not leave until the problem is solved, and who detail a job done right with quality documentation.
  4. By maintaining a staff of the right people who will travel to the job with the right part for the right place, at the right time, and for the right cost.

E-3 – Engaged Employees are key to Enthusiastic Customers – Why are employees Key in achieving E-3 and what do they do?

  1. They trigger enthusiasm by performing their duties with fun and friendliness.
  2. They work smarter and are always be willing to help.
  3. They say what they are going to do and then do what they say
  4. They are always ready, willing and able to learn something new.
  5. They care about customers and never forget that their customers pay the bills.
  6. They focus on the goals that make the company successful, while demonstrating genuine care for the company and people around them.

E-4 – Enthusiastic Customers result from Engaged Employees being Efficient & Effective – So how do Engaged Employees create Enthusiast Customers to achieve E-4?

  1. By always meeting customer needs and exceeding their expectations.
  2. By giving customers great value by providing quality products and service at a fair price.
  3. By responding to customer needs as quickly as possible, on-time, as promised, and on the same day if possible.
  4. By fixing problems right the first time, or at the very least by providing a temporary fix until they can provide the total solution.
  5. By communicating with customers and fellow employees early and often. Any news is better than no news.
  6. By making customer contacts look good to their bosses.
  7. By providing customers with solutions, not excuses.
  8. By acknowledging failed expectations and fixing problems in a hurry when expectations are not met.
  9. By always treating the customer fairly.

What are the E-Initiatives that Drown a Business?

E-5 – When Excuses are accepted as reasons for failure in Efficiency and Effectiveness.

E-6 – When Enraged Customers are created by not accomplishing E-2 (Effectively Meeting and Exceeding Customer Expectations) because of E-5 (Excuses)

 

To Sum Things Up:

Negative Integrated E-Initiatives will Add Up and Equal Failure

E-5 – Accepting Excuses rather than Finding Solutions

Plus

E-6 – Creating Enraged Customers by Not Meeting Customer Needs

Equals

Lost Opportunities for the Company, the Whole Team, Each Employee and Every Family

 

But Positive Integrated E-Initiatives Add Up and Equal Success

E-1 – Efficiently Minimizing Costs while Assuring Full Billing

Plus

E-2 – Effectively Exceeding Customer Expectations

Plus

E-3 – Engaged Employees

Equals

E-4 – Enthusiastic Customers, which translates into Positive Results for Each Employee, the Whole Team, the Entire Company and Every Family.

 

Compact Power Services is a world-class organization of certified local technicians providing cost reducing maintenance services for facilities and commercial equipment nationwide. You can contact them at 803-324-8000 or visit them at http://www.compactserv.com.

Tim A. Schultz is President and owner of Marcom Solutions, a full-service marketing communications agency supporting business-to-business and business-to-consumer clients. He can be reached at MarcomTim@yahoo.com or by phone at 216-314-2227. You can also visit his website at http://www.marcomsol.com

How To Best Utilize the Greatest B2B Marketing

10 Sep

When operating in a B2B environment, you can utilize consumer oriented marketing strategies on the internet to reach the market you have targeted. You will need to take each strategy and customize it so you can maximize the effectiveness it has on your customer base. Below are some ways you can best utilize the best B2B marketing strategies.

Education
Educating your prospects is the first B2B marketing strategy that you should utilize. Remember that when a new visitor comes to your website, they are seeking informative content that takes their concerns away and answers the questions they have. If you give your prospective customers the tools they need so they can make an educated decision, this can be your way of beginning a long and valued relationship. The goal is to give the customer what they need and let them make their own decision based on that information. There’s no point beating them with the sales pitch stick.

Good Communication
Always take advantage of the two way communication you can have with your customers and potential customers. The goal now is to educate and entertain the customers while opening the door to have a good dialogue with you so they can leave feedback, make comments or just contribute to the website and the community. On the flip side, never try to go too overboard with communications. Too much communication or communication that seems forced can be a bad thing. Using emails and eNewsletters are great ways to keep things flowing once you have established the initial contact.

Staying In Touch
Now that you have made good connections, you must keep those connections. The email communications need to be ones that have a scenario or case study with a topic to bring it to life. There should be a conclusion or assessment at the end of your communication. Remember not to overload them, but it’s key that you stay in touch.

Collecting Feedback
To see what the success of your marketing strategies are you need to measure your success. Collect all the feedback and comments back from customers that you can. The feedback your customers give is extremely valuable so you can improve the services or products you provide them. Sending your customers questionnaires or surveys are good ways to collect feedback and other information. If you want to improve the participation level of customers, offer something free or a type of incentive for the time they spend offering you their opinions.

Ramp Up Marketing
With the tough economic times we are facing today, there is normally a tendency to cut back on marketing costs. This is the exact time you can take advantage and accelerate growth much faster than your competitors do. Now is the time to ramp up marketing. The businesses that focus on getting the most from their dollar spent in marketing will be much better positioned to be looking like a star after the slump.

The above B2B marketing strategies are great tools to utilize and take advantage of. Knowing the visitors who come to your page, finding a way to entice them to come back, communicating to them as often as you should, and following up with their comments will help you grow your business more than any other way.

Thanks to Ashley Ritter, who writes about marketing, e-commerce & more for the Marcom Solutions guest post this month. To contact, http://healthinsurancequotes.org.

Guest Post U

The University of Great Content

http://www.guestpostu.com

Social Media Marketing Strategies That You Should Avoid At All Costs

25 Aug

Social media marketing can be very beneficial for any website or online business. This is because it can result in consistent and steady traffic, and help get your website and brand to the next level. Many small online businesses experience rapid growth if their idea goes viral on social networking. This can happen because friends will share with their friends and so on. Having a solid social media marketing plan is important for any company with an online presence. Done correctly social media outlets can bring a lot of converting traffic to your site.

Spamming
Many companies make the mistake of spamming their potential customers. This can be by excessive posts to their followers or private messages. Your product should speak on its own to obtain customers. Regular postings, and informing your followers of new and existing products are okay, but going overboard will push potential customers away. Think about your own experiences, people do not like to be spammed.

One-Way Communication
Many businesses have built great social media profiles, and have attracted a lot of followers. But they make the mistake of doing one sided social media work, that is to say, they ignore customers. Social media is a two way street, this is a way to communicate directly with customers. This can be customers who are happy or unhappy with your product, or it can even be potential customers. It is important for other people to see that you treat everyone well.

No Nurturing
You should nurture your social media accounts, and help build them slowly. This should include buttons on your website that can allow people to share with their friends on their favorite social media outlet. This will lead to people adding you on their own and gaining a large following over time.

Infrequent Updates
It is one thing to gain a lot of followers and set up a great page, but it must be updated often. Regular postings will keep your site followers from leaving, and it will help drive traffic. The posts can be simple, and do not have to be promotional, but keep them consistent, even once a week should do.

Not Tracking
It is very important to track social media traffic to your site. This can be done with a couple of different sites, where you input tracking code. This can help you determine what posts and promotions are working and which ones are not working. Tracking website traffic and conversions from social media will help you run your marketing campaign much more efficiently.

Social media is a great way to drive website traffic, if done right, conversions can be very high. Not only can conversions be high, but it is a cheap way to gain traffic, and the potential to go viral is always there. Having a solid product, and not overdoing social media will really help you on your way of gaining a lot of website traffic. A solid social media presence can also help with SEO, it is thought that the algorithms for the major search engines take this into account. By setting up social media and updating often, you will certainly be well ahead of the competition.

Thank You To My Guest Contributor This Month: Raine Tyler writes about social media, e-commerce & more at http://lifeinsurancequotes.org.

Tim A. Schultz is President and owner of Marcom Solutions, a full-service marketing communications agency supporting business-to-business and business-to-consumer clients. He can be reached at MarcomTim@yahoo.com or by phone at 216-314-2227. You can also visit his website: http://www.marcomsol.com

10 Steps For Creating A Successful Case History

2 Feb

The Case History/ Product Success Story/ Testimonial may be one of the most effective sales tools a company can develop to support sales. These sales support tools not only showcase your product and highlight your most effective product features that separate your product from the competition; they actively demonstrate how an actual customer recently used your product to solve their problem. Rather than your company bragging about your product in an advertisement, the message comes from the third person, the satisfied customer. Then, if the problem that your product solved is at all universal, other potential customers are all ears. Plus, when you get the article published, you have the (implied) endorsement from an industry trade publication as well as its editor (if the editor takes ownership). And that leads me to the first step:

  1. Prior to embarking on your Case History journey, first make sure that you will be creating an article of real value. Talk to key industry trade publication editors and ask them if they would be interested in a customer story that discusses the particular customer problem your product solved. With any luck you can find a home for your story in advance, know when you might expect publication, and identify deadlines for completion. Plus, by talking to editors in advance about what kind of information that they are looking for and that is of particular interest to their readers, trade publication editors will do more that make sure you are not wasting your time, they might give you ideas for other stories.
  2. After finding a trade magazine home for your story, it’s time to get started. The first thing you need to do is find out everything you can about the problem the customer was experiencing and how your product solved the problem. Talk to the actual product people involved. Whether you were part of the product application or not, you need to become an expert so that you can put together a questionnaire that will capture all of pertinent information you need to write a great story. That includes specifics about the customer, complete details about the problem that was solved, the product selection process (which includes key product features that made your product the choice), specifics concerning the actual product installation (which includes how your company support staff made it easy for the customer), and the final results (which includes specific metrics detailing how your product increased productivity, reduced scrap, etc). (Important tip, to make sure you capture all key information you want most, I suggest you ask the most important questions in several different ways. You will be surprised how much more information you might receive during the interview.)
  3. Now that you’ve done your homework, it’s time to plan the customer interview. The first thing you need to do is to give the customer a heads up. I suggest E-mailing the customer the list of questions first prior to the interview. By doing this, you will be assured of better answers because the customer will know in advance. You may even find the customer taking an active interest and writing something out for you because of the free publicity they can expect.
  4. Depending on budget, you are now ready to conduct the actual interview by phone or by way of an on-site customer visit. Just be forewarned, the actual customer visit is your best option. You will not only have the customer’s undivided attention; you will typically receive more information and a higher level of quality information. (Tip–to be sure you do not miss anything, record the conversation.) The on-site interview provides other important benefits as well.
  5. You now have a good reason to arrange for product application photography. Other than actual story value, good photography will assure you of getting your story published. Great photography piques trade publication editor interest. Another side benefit, you will be adding to your in-house library of product application photos. I suggest finding a local photographer prior to the visit and scheduling that photographer to shoot during your visit. If you are an avid photographer, you might consider taking the photos yourself. Just remember, professional photographers are worth every penny for capturing photos that can be used for a variety of marketing communication opportunities.
  6. You now have all the information you need. You have the photography. It’s time to transcribe the interview and write the story, being certain to write it from the perspective of the customer. You can get away with covering every single key performance feature and benefit of your product just as long as it comes from the perspective of the customer.
  7. Make sure you get the article approved by the customer. Never assume anything, especially with respect to proprietary information you may have heard during the interview. It will save you problems. Plus the customer will appreciate your consideration.
  8. Get the story published. You will be doing the publication a favor and getting yourself FREE advertising. You will find that it is not only FREE advertising; it is probably the most effective advertising you will ever see published. (Another side benefit, you will find that your story will probably live on long after the original publication date because most trade publication archive these stories on their websites.)
  9. After your feature story gets published, ask for reprints from the trade publication. In addition, you will find that many publications will also offer to mail copies of the issue to your key customers.
  10. And finally, now that you have a great story with plenty of sales support value, be sure to take full advantage of it. Feature the Case History in your customer newsletters. Add the Product Success story to your website. And turn the Testimonial into sales support literature.

Tim A. Schultz is President and owner of Marcom Solutions, a full-service marketing communications agency supporting business-to-business and business-to-consumer clients. He can be reached at MarcomTim@yahoo.com or by phone at 216-314-2227.

Making Satisfied Customers Your Best Sales Tool

17 Jan

By Tim A. Schultz

Do you have a great product? Does it solve customer problems by dramatically reducing scrap, downtime, or by increasing productivity? If you answer yes to any of the above, you have a ready-made top-notch sales force just waiting to best sell your product. You’ll find that these customer salespeople are probably ready, willing and able to go to work for you. All you have to do is ask. And the best part, the tremendous sales tool they can provide your company will not cost that much.

The sales tool is called the Case History and Product Success Story. And there are so many ways your company can use these tools to support and drive sales:

The Feature Article

Trade publications are always on the lookout for great editorial that offers real reader value. And articles that share information on how companies solved problems, reduced scrap or downtime, and how these companies increased productivity, offer plenty of reader value. The fact is, when a company discovers a better mousetrap, other companies with similar issues are all ears. The key to success is great editorial, not advertorial. Savvy readers will not accept advertorial and responsible editors will not publish it. That’s why you need a professional to create these stories, which may be your only real cost to initiate the program. The good news, when you take all the right steps and get your case history and product success story published, you have just gotten yourself a free two or three page ad placement, which more than pays for development costs. You will also find that most trade publications will add these stories to their on-line resource libraries. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg for how these valuable tools provide ongoing support.

Other Uses

The great thing about Case Histories and Product Success stories is that they can be integrated into so many different marketing communication tools. Having the publication make you reprints at a modest price is just the beginning. Add them to your website. Create a name and program for them. Turn them into individual sales support fliers and initiate a routine where salespeople and customers can expect to receive them on a regular basis. And finally, be sure to add one of them to each one of your newsletters. If you take the right steps in creating these tools, they provide other side benefits.

Side Benefits

Successful case histories and product success stories that get published have two major elements in common. They are well written and include great photography. In fact, between the two successful elements, photography is most important. The reason, if an editor likes your subject matter well enough; they can always edit and even rewrite your story. But they will probably not commission a photographer. And photography always sells the story.  The side benefit to your company, you will be developing a catalog of excellent application photography that can be used for a wide range of marketing communications tools. And if there is one thing that most companies lack; it’s good application photography.

Now that you are sold on the Case History and Product Success Story, you probably have one question, how do I get started? Well, you could ask me for help. I have written numerous case histories and product success stories for clients around the world.

Or you can wait for my next blog where I will share with you the proven steps you need to take to make your Case Histories and Product Success stories a success.

Tim A. Schultz is President and owner of Marcom Solutions, a full-service marketing communications agency supporting business-to-business and business-to-consumer clients. He can be reached at MarcomTim@yahoo.com or by phone at 216-314-2227.

Champagne Branding On A Beer Budget

28 Oct

Champagne Branding On A Beer Budget

By Tim A. Schultz

According to marketing communication experts, branding is not just something you need to consider. It’s everything. It’s the elevator speech that defines your company and product benefits. It’s the glue that holds your marketing program together and the gasoline that drives and supports your sales engine.

Having said that, since 2008 and this last great recession, just about every company has had to tighten its marketing budget. Not to worry, there are still plenty of cost-effective initiatives you can implement to continue building your brand without breaking your budget. Plus, when the economy bounces back, you may realize that you can actually accomplish almost as much while spending less.

Change Your Advertising Strategy

While advertising remains the single most effective strategy to build brands, you may have to reconsider your advertising campaign options. For instance, even though you may have to forego your full-page four-color ad campaign, you still have options. Consider more targeted fractional page ads to maintain a strong frequency and reach equation. This accomplishes two things; it keeps your brand active while keeping the trade publications interested in supporting your efforts with cost-effective publicity. While every trade publication representative will tell you about the distinct line between editorial and advertising, I have never worked with a trade publication yet that does not do its best to support the companies that support it.

Work Your Publicity Advantage

Then work your publicity program to your best advantage. News releases are inexpensive. Literature releases are inexpensive. And by using a resource like Business Wire, you can be sure to canvass your entire online and print market. Then augment Business Wire with your own news release submittal program. Make certain your marketing communications expert has a targeted list of industry trades and maintains a personal relationship with targeted editors. A personal e-mail with an attached news release to an editor you know will go a long way towards getting your release published. Finally, to maximize your publicity efforts, be sure to produce a constant stream of case histories and product success stories that feature your company. While poorly written advertising fluff and advertorial will never get published, trade publications are always on the lookout for well-written articles that offer real reader value. And case histories that feature how a product solution solved a company’s problem by increasing productivity while reducing costs are always welcome. The fact that it was your company and your product that provided the solution only completes the story.

Change Your Trade Show Strategy

For industry trade shows, consider a smaller size booth. Never pull out of an industry trade show to save money. You can do irreparable damage to your brand, giving your competition all the ammunition it needs to question your absence and viability. Instead, reduce your static square footage, while making certain you incorporate plenty of dynamic activity. You’ll find little difference in traffic or lead results.

Cost-Effective Direct Marketing

For effective brand building, direct marketing is always cost effective. If you have a strong sales proposition that resonates with your customers, a targeted mailing list, and understand that you need to take advantage of the power of three, which means at least three mailings to make any impact and get a response, direct mail marketing works. Plus, if you maintain a targeted e-mail list as well, you can augment your snail mail campaign with broadcast emails that are extremely cost-effective.

Make Sure Your Website Works For You

Every company has a website. Unfortunately, most companies do not get anywhere near the benefits from their site that they should. For not a lot of money, you can dramatically increase traffic and continue to build your brand. For instance, are you taking advantage of free Google Keyword Research and Keyword Analytics to optimize your site content and attract search engines? Are you blogging? And are you taking full advantage of free article repositories on the web such as ezinearticles.com to get your news release information circulating through the web while attracting customers and search engine searches to your website? And most important, are you regularly updating your website? Remember, the worst thing you can do to a website is to not update its content on a regular basis. Several times a month spiders from each search engine circulate throughout the web and check for new activity. Dormant websites are considered irrelevant, and once considered irrelevant, your organic search engine ranking drops in a hurry.

Social Media Marketing

Are you involved in social media? Social media marketing may be the most cost-effective method available today for building brands and engaging customers. Recent studies have determined that social media networking has already surpassed e-mail as the preferable method to communicate online.

So how important is social media? Recent studies show that Facebook now has 750 million users worldwide. It’s why every company should have a Facebook page to regularly engage customers. Even better, it could not be more cost-effective. All you need is a dedicated administrator who is a social media expert to maintain your page. Then, linked to your website, you can engage customers with all sorts of value-added information and sales opportunities. You can even use Facebook to post blogs, movies and new product literature. Most important, you can use Facebook to develop an important dialogue with your customer, which continues to build your brand.

Other cost-effective social media opportunities for building brands include LinkedIn, providing a free and excellent opportunity to make business-to-business contacts and to link your company with industry-related groups. Twitter offers companies 140 characters per “tweet” to talk to followers, an important and free medium to reach smart phone users. YouTube gives you a free opportunity to post movies with links to your website. When you see one of your movies go “viral,” you’ll understand the power of social media and YouTube.

Don’t Forget The Research

And finally, are you periodically doing your homework first, which means are you earmarking a certain amount of money every year for research? For the relatively small amount of money that you invest in benchmark studies and customer satisfaction surveys, you will find that your research will more than pay for itself in building brands, for the short-term and long term.

Tim A. Schultz is President and owner of Marcom Solutions, a full-service marketing communications agency supporting business-to-business and business-to-consumer clients.He can be reached at MarcomTim@yahoo.com or by phone at 216-314-2227.

Hello world!

28 Oct

Welcome to WordPress.com. After you read this, you should delete and write your own post, with a new title above. Or hit Add New on the left (of the admin dashboard) to start a fresh post.

Here are some suggestions for your first post.

  1. You can find new ideas for what to blog about by reading the Daily Post.
  2. Add PressThis to your browser. It creates a new blog post for you about any interesting  page you read on the web.
  3. Make some changes to this page, and then hit preview on the right. You can always preview any post or edit it before you share it to the world.
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