Posts Tagged ‘Counselors Academy’


Set Your Brand Apart: Little Extras Make a Big Difference in Customer Retention

Thursday, May 15th, 2014
The little things add up

The little things add up

Here’s a little dose of reality: no one ever meets the expectations of their customers. You can exceed those needs or your can fall short, and it’s often the little things that add up to make a big difference.

The PRSA Counselors Academy Spring Conference was held last week, May 4-6, in Key West, Florida. Paula Whittington, VP of agency relations at BurrellesLuce, attended Stan Phelps’s keynote. Phelps, who is the founder of 9 INCH Marketing and the author of the popular Goldfish Trilogy (recently completed with What’s Your Golden Goldfish), discussed all the ways to make the little things add up in your favor to strengthen retention rates.

Phelps pointed out some brands that have good customer retention, like Wells Fargo, which obtains 80 percent of their business from current customers because they frequently upsell more products, making their clients less likely to leave. Another heavyweight in retention and acquisition is Southwest Airlines. During a time when airlines started charging for bags and continuing to charge fees for ticket changes, Southwest advertised free checked bags and no change fees. Finally there’s Zappos, which invests back in its customer experience with free shipping, returns for up to a year, and an easy exchange policy.

Differentiation is about the little things; while 80 percent of companies believe they provide a superior experience, only 8 percent of their customers agree. Here are a few tactics – and real-world examples –  from Phelps for setting your brand apart.

The Throw-In/ Add-on: Throw in something small but restorative to really ramp up customer experience. DoubleTree Hotels offers warm, fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies that make their guests feel welcome.

Sampling: This is the classic ice cream shop tactic, but you can take it to the next level like Izzy’s Ice Cream, which gifts a free scoop of a new flavor to try, and will also tweet or text when a customer’s favorite flavor arrives. Personalization and generosity go a long way in customer acquisition and retention.

First/last impressions: Enhance a client’s experience with first and last impressions. They’re the most lasting and visceral, so don’t overlook them. The Hard Rock Hotel offers Fender guitars and headphones in the rooms, as well as a TV channel featuring guitar lessons.

Pay it forward: Offer to do something nice for people, even if it means doing something for free. Unemployed, but really need your suit cleaned? Plaza Cleaners in Portland, Oregon will clean that suit for free. And Discount Tire will repair a flat tire for nothing. Paying it forward creates goodwill to create loyal future customers.

Add on a service: Like paying it forward, you can also create goodwill by providing more than just a basic service, like Safelite AutoGlass. Not only do they send you a picture of the technician coming to repair your windshield, but they’ll clean and vacuum your car during the ten minutes it takes for the windshield epoxy to harden and cure.

Follow Up: Handwritten thank you notes always go a long way. But it’s easy for follow-ups to slip through the cracks when something goes wrong, and that’s the most vital time to make an overture. Nurse Next Door, a home care service, does this with humble pie: if there’s a mistake, the company owns up to it, and delivers a fresh baked apple pie as an apology. Nurse Next Door estimates that the $1,500 they spend on pies annually saves them about $100,000 in business retention.

At the very least, think of Walt Disney, who in 1957 decided to have a parade in Disneyland every day in December. This cost him the modern-day equivalent of $4 million, and his financial advisors were against the idea, but daily parades survive to this day, the most frequently asked question at Disneyland is “What time does the parade start?”

Tactics that set your brand apart should be a signature product or service of your brand, and really make you different. It might cost you money, but if done right, the benefits will be more of an investment than a cost.

2012 Counselors Academy Conference – Beyond the Hype of Influence: Unleashing the Power of PR

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Colleen Flood*

“Going beyond the hype of social media and online influence means going beyond the numbers and popularity games. It means digging into the real meaning of influence and finding the true value of making connections with the right people,” explained Pierre-Loic Assayag, CEO of Traackr, and Shonali Burke, VP, Digital, MSL Washington D.C., at the 2012 PRSA Counselors Academy.

There are many tools to measure influence, including Klout, Peer Index, Tweet Level, and Tweet Grader. The problem with tools that measure influence is that they cannot agree and that is because marketers are asking the wrong questions. Rather than try and use new tools based on old practices, marketing and PR professionals must understand that influence varies – both qualitative and quantitative – and depends on content.

With three percent of people creating 90 percent of the impact online, it is imperative that communicators understand influencers as they pertain to individual clients. Not all influencers will fit the bill. Therefore, marketers must identify the right people for the job. In other words, marketers must choose relevance over popularity.

  1. Influence is both an art and a science. Search, secure, rank, and track.
  2. Focus on the task at hand. “Cognitive blindness” causes many marketers to miss influencers.
  3. Commit. Discover, listen, and engage to understand what the conversation is about.

Once marketers have found the relevant influencers, then what? Assayag and Burke say that it is time to “manage influencers” and that PR professionals must approach the relationship as if “it is a marriage and not a date.” Part of managing the relationship involves understanding the different metrics that define success such as web traffic, brand mentions, sales, engagement metrics, and sentiment/tone, among others.

In the end, finding the right influencers is really about providing value (what can you do for them?), being relevant, and being genuine and then finding the right metrics that help drive value and not hype. In wrapping up, Burke talked about the Blue Key campaign and how it used the power of influencers. Check out my colleague, Andrea Corbo’s post, When a Hashtag Leads to Help: PR Tips from #BlueKey

How are you unleashing the power of your PR? What metrics drive the most relevancy for your clients?

***

*Bio: Colleen Flood has been a sales consultant with BurrellesLuce for over 12 years and is eager to become a more integrated part of the social-public relations community. She primarily handles agency relations in the New York and New Jersey metro-area. She is not only passionate about work, but also about family, friends, and the Jersey Shore. Twitter: @cgflood LinkedIn: Colleen Flood Facebook: BurrellesLuce 

2012 Counselors Academy Conference: Mobilizing Your Firm for a Smartphone World

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Colleen Flood*

Linda W. Cohen, APR, founder and CEO, The Caliber Group, Inc., and Michael Barber, director of digital strategy, Cohn Marketing, recently presented on Mobilizing Your Firm for a Smartphone World at the 2012 Counselors Academy Conference.

It seems like everyone wants to learn how to integrate mobile in to their communications strategy, engage with consumers using smartphones, and strengthen their capabilities portfolio. Marketers are now putting the majority of their efforts into mobile and with good reason.

  • The average amount of data consumed by consumers is 46GB per day.
  • For smartphones, that is 65 minutes per day.
  • By 2013, over 50 percent of web traffic will be through mobile devices.
  • It is predicted that mobile email will overtake webmail by next month (June 2012).
  • Mobile search is up 400% on Google.
  • Fifty-eight percent of adults are likely to make a purchase on a smartphone.

Their roundtable offered some compelling statistics for the use of smartphones and mobile marketing, but it seems that many marketers struggle to get a handle on things as consumption shifts. Cohen and Barber discussed some of common mobile marketing “mistakes” and offered some potential remedies.

Mistake One – Combining Social Media with Mobile
Don’t try to be all things in the mobile space. Instead focus on your strategy, creative production, and service-based applications. From there, start and move outward. Choose partners to work on other services. Then extend current digital services across mobile. As for finding the right partner,

  • Know what you don’t know and seek partnerships accordingly.
  • You cannot teach marketing strategies to a mobile strategist. It is easier to teach mobile to marketing not vice versa.
  • Attend mobile conferences that are tech and brand focused.

Mistake Two – Thinking Your Agency is Going to Make Quick Money on Mobile
ROI comes from multiple places. Understand where mobile dollars come from.

Mistake Three – Not Using Tools Already Out There
Why recreate the wheel? HTML 5 allows developers to create one site that will work on multiple platforms. And there are a number of tools already out there designed to create and enhance mobile efforts.

  • Mobify.com – mobile web tools
  • Torsion Mobile – Mojaba
  • TheAppbuilder.com
  • Snaplab Media – QR Codes.
  • Mogreet – MMS Tool

And don’t forget to leverage old mobile phone tactics.

Mistake Four – Doing Mobile Just Because
This one is pretty self explanatory. Why waste time and effort if it doesn’t fit into your overall communications strategy and align with business goals and objectives?

Mistake 5 – Pricing and Selling Like an Agency
The key to selling mobile is to educate your clients.

Additional Tips
In addition to these common mistakes, Cohen and Barber also suggested that marketing professionals look out for developing trends in the mobile and smartphone space.

  1. Natural User Interface
  2. Speech Development (e.g., Siri)
  3. Connected Devices (e.g., the mobile cloud)
  4. Network Maturation (e.g., How much data can we process as adoption rises?)
  5. Socio-economic impact

How are you mobilizing your firm in a smartphone world? Please share your thoughts with me and the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas.

***

*Bio: Colleen Flood has been a sales consultant with BurrellesLuce for over 12 years and is eager to become a more integrated part of the social-public relations community. She primarily handles agency relations in the New York and New Jersey metro-area. She is not only passionate about work, but also about family, friends, and the Jersey Shore. Twitter: @cgflood LinkedIn: Colleen Flood Facebook: BurrellesLuce 

  

2012 Counselors Academy Conference – Your Secret Sauce Ain’t No Secret: The Power of Transparent Marketing to Transform Your Brand and Business in the Digital Age

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Colleen Flood*

Marcus SheridanIn a previous blog post, I recapped takeaways from the keynote session, Groovin’ to Your Own Beat: How to Build Your Business by Merging Your Personal and Professional Selves from the 2012 Counselors Academy.

Today, I would like to offer a roundup of a breakfast keynote given by Marcus Sheridan, president and founder of The Sales Lion.

“When it comes to marketing, all businesses say they want more sales but few are willing to start thinking, talking, and walking like their customers in order to make this happen,” says Sheridan. There is a fear of embracing social media and doing things outside of the comfort zone. Communications professionals are afraid that others are going to copy what they do and be successful. So they participate in ostrich marketing and bury their heads in the sand.

“They think everything they do is ‘secret sauce’ and this has got to change,” asserts Sheridan. Instead, marketers need to focus on what consumers really want, which is value, authenticity, and truth.

Developing Consumer-centric Content Marketing

  • Gather company employees together and ask, “What are the questions you get?” Companies rarely take the time to answer these questions – the why – and this aggravates consumers.
  • Make it priority to answer 50 of these questions and write two posts per week.
  • Embrace the idea about cost. Consumers always ask about price, so why turn away?

Search
Where do we all go when we are going to make a purchase?  Google! Another way to deepen your consumer-centric content marketing is to pay attention to how consumers are searching. What are the questions they ask Goggle? Marketers should get ahead of the problem and educate the consumer. If they don’t, consumers will research and find out the information one way or the other.

  • Rule: If your client or prospect asks the question, you need to answer it. 
  • Build links by writing good stuff.
  • Don’t be afraid to have an opinion.

The Ideal Blogger/Content Provider
No one wants to be left out of the party. Marketers need to make the shift and embrace the way their consumers think.

  • The face of content is a real person.
  • Everyone in the company embraces content marketing.
  • Listen to the questions and answer them.
  • Understand the consumers.
  • Write like you talk.
  • Focus on being great communicators. See yourself as the best teacher in your industry.
  • Be known as something and create an identity for your company.

And remember, you can’t be great at every platform. So, choose who you are and then be the best in the world.

How are you using transparent marketing to transform your brand and business in the digital age?

***

*Bio: Colleen Flood has been a sales consultant with BurrellesLuce for over 12 years and is eager to become a more integrated part of the social-public relations community. She primarily handles agency relations in the New York and New Jersey metro-area. She is not only passionate about work, but also about family, friends, and the Jersey Shore. Twitter: @cgflood LinkedIn: Colleen Flood Facebook: BurrellesLuce 

2012 Counselors Academy Conference Keynote – Groovin’ to Your Own Beat: How to Build Your Business by Merging Your Personal and Professional Selves

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Colleen Flood*

The 2012 Counselors Academy kicked off on Sunday, May 6, 2012. The evening’s keynote session featured Jay Baer, president of Convince and Convert, and Gini Dietrich, CEO of Arment Dietrich. The duo asserted that “it’s difficult to tell a client they need to be using the Web if an agency principal doesn’t believe it themselves.”

How to Build Your Personal Brand into Your Professional Brand
During the session, Baer and Dietrich discussed “how revenue follows capabilities and capabilities follow beliefs” and presented agency leaders with best practices to “finally ‘get off their duffs and start becoming social’ in order to build their businesses.”

Here are some key takeaways from the presentation:

  • If an agency has several employees, why not tweet under the agency name?
  • Videos create a human being behind the brand. We remember personal stories and want to do business with the people we know.
  • Network – social media connects you with people you cannot connect with in 3D and helps with national recognition.
  • Agencies need to spend time on leadership campaigns (e.g., blog posts). Tech has made us all self-servers of information and we want to find the answers ourselves when it’s time.
  • Can a junior staffer handle social media? Social media is not something you should delegate and you can’t outsource your voice.
  • People will remember your “branding.” So, give away what you know. Remember, “giving away a list of ingredients doesn’t make you a chef.”
  • Figure out your circles. Listen and find opportunities to be helpful. The best way to be helpful is to setup searches. People buy from people they like and trust. Your client wants to work with you!
  • Commit to social media regularly – say, 20 minutes a day – and fill in the “tiny gaps in your day.”
  • How do you measure social media success? Understand how it pays off in terms of leads, new business, and client retention. Listen. Assess the conversation. Engage. Measure and then improve.

The audience also had the opportunity to ask a few questions. One question focused on “what PR firms should stop doing and start implementing instead.” The answer? Stop chasing the hot new thing and start having policies in place for brand ambassadors.

How are you “groovin’ to your own beat” and “merging your personal and professionals selves to build your business?”

***

*Bio: Colleen Flood has been a sales consultant with BurrellesLuce for over 12 years and is eager to become a more integrated part of the social-public relations community. She primarily handles agency relations in the New York and New Jersey metro-area. She is not only passionate about work, but also about family, friends, and the Jersey Shore. Twitter: @cgflood LinkedIn: Colleen Flood Facebook: BurrellesLuce