The Unseen Lessons Our Teachers Taught Us

senior high school teacher teaching in classroom

When first exploring the power of buyer personas, it’s natural to worry about the extra work and effort needed to complete the process. Fortunately, these fears are not unjustified. While it’s true you’ll need to have an intimate understanding of potential customers and what they seek from brands like yours, the investment is completely worth it and can lead to tremendous growth for your company. Here’s why…

Consider for a moment your high school history teacher. In schools across the country, history teachers teach multiple classes with students at all different levels. One class might be filled with students who are ready to break down the information at a very high level. These students are capable of exploring difficult themes. Learning about the American Revolutionary War requires covering more than dates and names, and they will dive into motivations and outside influences.

Another class might be at a more introductory level of history. Rather than covering motivations, they might need to learn more about the major people who influenced the events of the day and focus on learning the timeline.

Both classes are covering the same topic, but if the teacher is going to effectively teach both groups, he or she will have to develop separate lesson plans for each class. If the teacher tried to create a common lesson plan for each group of students, neither group would receive the instruction they needed to succeed. It does require more work for the teacher to create separate lesson plans, but the teacher knows it’s worth the effort. A teacher who keeps their eyes on the end goal — to ensure that both classes walk away feeling challenged and with new knowledge about the founding of the United States — will know their extra work helped them reach their students effectively.

The Takeaway for Marketers

The same concept applies to marketers. It does take a little more work to create separate content for each of your buyer personas, but if you want to effectively reach your potential customers, you have to be willing to go that extra mile.

Each of your customers comes to your site looking for different information. One customer might be concerned about finding an affordable solution to their problem. They feel as though they’ve spent too much money in the past, and their primary concern is budget. Another customer might focus primarily on utility. They trust that when they find a well-created solution to their problem, their return on investment will justify their cost. Each of these customers will respond better to different types of content and offers. Creating just one type of content will make it harder for you to reach all of your intended target audiences. It may have been less work upfront, but it will end up costing you more when you fail to bring in the profits and returns you had desired.

In a world where time is money, it makes sense to avoid spending unnecessary time and money whenever possible. What you need to remember, though, is that while efficiency is important, it cannot replace doing something correctly. Sit down with your team, outline your buyer personas, and draft a plan for reaching each one. You’ll be amazed at what these additional steps can do to help you close more business.

If you’re ready to start building a new marketing strategy, reach out and speak with us today. We’d be happy to help you get started.

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What Captain Kirk Teaches Us About Business

Stars in the night sky
Stars in the night sky
Even among those who haven’t followed the Star Trek franchise, Captain Kirk and William Shatner (the actor who played him) are household names. Whether you’re a lifelong Trekkie or only know the character’s name in passing, here are six Captain Kirk/William Shatner quotes we found particularly inspiring formarketing and business professionals.

“Genius doesn’t work on an assembly line basis… You can’t simply say, ‘Today I will be brilliant.'”

When starting out or working your way up in business, you must acknowledge that you don’t know everything there is to know about your industry. You’re not going to wake up one morning with the experience to be an industry leader. Instead, you must be willing to study and learn as you go.

“You either believe in yourself or you don’t.”

Running a business is never a sure thing. Chances are when you start your own company you’ll find yourself facing skepticism from many different people. If you want to be successful, however, you have to believe in yourself. You must be honest about the faith you have in yourself. If you truly think you can do this, then develop your business plan and prepare to jump in feet first.

“There’s another way to survive — mutual trust and help.”

Building a business is not a single-handed endeavor. If you want your business to thrive — and not just survive — you must be willing to trust those running the business with you. When starting out, make sure your first hires are trustworthy people who share your vision. Choose candidates you know you can trust completely to have the good of the company at heart.

“Sometimes a feeling is all we humans have to go on.”

Sure, predicting the right moment to launch a company or introduce a new product or service involves studying trends, but it also requires a finely tuned intuition. Sometimes, all you have to go on in business is a gut feeling. If you have reasons to support those instincts, don’t be afraid to listen to them.

“If I can have honesty, it’s easier to overlook mistakes.”

This quote speaks to the importance of transparency in everything a business does. No business leader is perfect. Sometimes you’ll make mistakes. You’ll make the wrong call. When you’re transparent with your employees about what happened, they’ll be far more likely to continue to trust you and your judgement.

“A captain of a ship, no matter his rank, must follow the book.”

Even if you’re the founder and CEO, you don’t want to place yourself in a separate category than everyone else at your company. Sure, it might be easier to circumvent particular processes or rules, but when you do so, everyone notices. People naturally struggle to feel connected to and loyal to leaders who play by different rules than the ones they set for everyone below them. Show your employees you’re all on the same team by following the same rules. The result will be far greater coherence within your team.

Building and successfully running a company can be a challenge for anyone. Those who enjoy the character of Captain Kirk, however, will find a considerable amount of wisdom about how to be successful in the quotes from the captain and from the actor, William Shatner. Consider some of the wisdom above and see how you can apply it to your own company. If you’re interested in improving your marketing efforts, contact us today. We’d be happy to help you get started.

Why Customer Service is One of Your Most Important Marketing Channels

Why Customer Service is One of Your Most Important Marketing Channels

Though that description certainly applies to marketing channels like social media, direct mail print, TV and radio commercials, and more, it also describes one very important element of your business that people tend not to think of as marketing: customer service.

The Role of Customer Service in Marketing

When you set out to create a new marketing campaign, one of the first steps always involves sitting down and taking a long, hard look at what your customers need. This is most obvious in television campaigns, where you have just 30 seconds to outline a problem and show how your product or service solves that problem once and for all.

When you really think about the function of customer service in your business, it’s doing the exact same thing. You’re helping people have meaningful, satisfying experiences with your brand, while showing them that the products you’re selling are backed by trustworthy individuals with a strong sense of integrity.

In many ways, your behavior is the marketing tool in this scenario. If you can turn a bad experience with your product into a good one through sheer customer service force of will, you’re building the same type of relationship with your customer that a successful ad or direct mail campaign might. The benefit you get is the ability to control the conversation as it’s being played out.

In that respect, your customer service department is almost like a fully interactive television ad. If customers have a positive experience, they’ll tell people about it. If they have a negative experience, rest assured, they’ll tell people about that, too.

Customer Service Considerations

The point of this relationship isn’t that you should start treating your customer service department as just another in a long line of marketing opportunities that can be exploited. In fact, the opposite is true. Doing so will almost certainly come off to the customer as artificial and can do far more harm to your reputation than good. Overloading your potential and existing customers with overt marketing messages can also make your brand come off as “pushy” when people are just looking for answers to important questions.

Honesty and integrity are the name of the game, especially in terms of customer service. By using your customer service capabilities to truly put your best foot forward and create meaningful interactions with customers, you’re accomplishing many of the same goals you aim for with your other marketing channels. When people have a positive experience with representatives of your customer service team, they’re far more likely to tell their friends and family members. You’re also creating loyal followers that will generate repeat sales, which is another task that the best marketing campaigns are capable of accomplishing.

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How to Convince Customers You’re Worthy of Their Loyalty

Did you know that 71 percent of customers have stopped using a company because of the poor customer service they received? Did you also know that the average value of a lost customer is $243? Poor customer experiences cost companies money and seriously hurt the bottom line. No company can afford to just throw away $243 per person.Realtor meeting with couple

Fortunately, there is a solution. By focusing your efforts on improving your customers’ experience, you can help encourage them to return to you, improving retention and stopping the bleed of past customers going to your competitors. Here’s how to do it.

Focus on employees

Your employees are the face of the company when customers interact with your brand. Make sure they represent you well. Develop a strong relationship with employees by giving them degrees of independence, flexibility, and a work environment that’s a pleasant place to be. Employees will become more appreciative and enthusiastic about your brand and pass that along to customers.

Give employees training, then independence

Focus on building a culture of independence. Allow company representatives to troubleshoot and solve problems on their own. This will help them feel more appreciated, while improving customer service. Now, when a customer calls with a complaint, the person who answers can actually help them, rather than passing the phone call from person to person.

Try to under-promise and over-deliver

Far too many customers are used to companies neglecting their promises, so show that you’re different. Promise customers the minimum of what they can expect and then over-deliver.

Listen to what customers say are the weakest parts of their experience

Though fewer and fewer customers actually use complaint lines to let companies know they did wrong, that doesn’t mean they’ve stopped complaining. Instead, it’s simply become more common for people to release their reviews to the public through social media.

A bad review from a disgruntled customer can have an enormous impact on your company’s reputation. Address customer complaints head-on and try to make amends for their poor experience. If the customer is satisfied, then politely ask them to update or remove the bad review.

Treat bad reviews as learning experiences. Ask yourself the following questions:

    • What part of the customer experience was impacted (product research, pricing, the purchase itself, questions about the product, etc.)?
    • Are there any patterns to the types of complaints made by customers?
  • What do these bad reviews say about how customers wish to be seen in your organization?

Use the information you garner to guide you in making improvements to the customer experience. Prioritize changes based on the weaknesses customers point out in their reviews, and let them know they’re valued by your company.

The customer experience can be a fantastic predictor of consumer loyalty and retention. When you learn how to convince customers to stay with your brand, you’ll see more money in your pocket and better growth. Use the above advice to update your customer experience to make the most of every interaction between customer and company.

Keep Your Existing Customers Around By Improving Engagement

Keep Your Existing Customers Around By Improving Engagement

unnamed (18)If you’re like many business professionals, you know that half the battle of growing your business is getting existing customers to stick around. When you provide your customers with outstanding customer service, some incredible things happen:

  • Customers are willing to pay more, just for your service.
  • Customers are more likely to recommend you to others.
  • You end up spending less for each conversion (it costs less to retain customers than find new ones).
  • You build customer loyalty.

In our intensely competitive modern market, you can’t afford to overlook these benefits.

The key to providing this outstanding level of service is taking the time to engage your existing customers. Too many organizations focus so much energy on attracting new customers that their existing customers feel neglected and overlooked. This can lead to feelings of resentment. Fortunately, with just a little bit of extra effort, you can keep your existing customers engaged and invested in your company. Here are a few ideas to get started.

Leverage the ‘social’ part of social media

Social media was designed to give you a platform to chat and get to know your customers on a personal level. Rather than advertising blindly to large populations, you can communicate directly to individual people and meet their needs personally. Encourage your existing customers to communicate with you on social media. You can do this in a number of different ways.

  • Invite them to ask questions about using your products or services.
  • Start fun contests that involve customers telling stories about using your products or services.
  • Respond to inquiries quickly and personally.

When you use social platforms to reach out and communicate with your customers, you show them how much you care about their experience, which resonates with both existing customers and those considering your company.

Run relevant promotions that existing customers can use

We’ve all experienced times when special promotions or discounts were made available only to new customers. Such deals often leave us feeling unappreciated and annoyed. Many customers facing such restrictions look for ways to get around them, such as switching back and forth between companies just to take advantage of the promotions. This leads to poor service and frustration for customers and does no good for the company’s reputation.

Instead of rewarding only new customers, offer your longtime customers a “loyalty” discount based on their longevity with your company. Customers will feel more appreciated and more loyal to your brand. They’ll see this simple ‘thank you’ as evidence that your company truly does value them, not just the bottom line.

Develop communications relevant to your existing customers

The more personal you can make your communications and correspondence, the more likely your customers are to respond. When people buy from your company, remember what they bought and why. Initiate messages, such as emails, asking customers about how well their needs have been met and if they have any questions about using your products or services. Ask customers for reviews and feedback, and make your requests using the name of a salesperson the customer dealt with personally.

Keeping customers engaged is an important step in encouraging them to stay with your company. When you do this successfully, you can grow your customer base and your bottom line.

How to Build a Company Culture that Helps Marketing

unnamed (5)As managers, we all strive to develop an atmosphere of success and teamwork. When you can develop a culture that respects those in your office and encourages success, you’ll notice many immediate benefits.

  • Workers will become more motivated.
  • Employees will feel valued and know the role they play in the success of the greater organization.
  • They’ll also feel more confident handling day-to-day situations and solving problems.
  • You’ll be able to spend your time more productively, too, by not having to handle issues your employees now feel confident dealing with on their own.

When your employees feel valued and content, the impact can stretch far beyond the office walls. Happy employees present a more enthusiastic and helpful face for your brand to potential customers. Your company’s reputation for caring for its employees and its customers will spread. Referrals will grow, and your marketing efforts will have a greater impact. In short, this type of fantastic company culture can help the bottom line.

So how do you achieve this type of business-friendly dynamic in your office?

During hiring

Building a fantastic company culture begins during the hiring process. Make hires based on two main factors: skills and how well the candidate will fit with the culture you’ve created or are trying to create. Many companies focus solely on finding the person with the best qualifications, without taking into account how well that person will fit in with the rest of the team.

Ask questions during the interview that speak to the values you seek. When you’ve found a candidate that appears to work well, consider having them do a trial project with your team to see how well they get along.

Among current employees

Educate and empower your employees so they feel confident taking control of their interactions with customers. Teach them how to delight customers not by just telling them or giving presentations, but through examples and demonstrations. Build a culture that focuses on under-promising and then exceeding customers expectations at every turn. Teach employees to focus on solving problems for their customers. Develop concrete buyer personas that employees understand completely, so they can quickly gauge what customers seek when they speak with them.

At the same time, empower your employees. Let them know they’re trusted and responsible for solving problems and finding new ways to help their customers. Have clear guidelines about when employees should ask for help and when they need to come up with their own solutions. This will help employees better assist customers and solve their problems. Customers will be happier knowing they’re speaking with someone who can actually do something, rather than just relay messages.

Creating a positive culture and work environment does more than make your organization a great place to work. It can also help boost marketing efforts and improve the bottom line. By helping your employees, you’re improving the face of the brand your customers see. You might be amazed at the impact it can have on your efforts.

Instilling School Spirit at Your Company

Successful business teamMany factors go into the decision about where to attend college. While majors, location, and ranking undoubtedly hold a high place, the experience of other students and the school’s reputation also play a crucial role.

Schools must strike a careful balance between providing a rigorous academic environment, while at the same time offering an enjoyable experience that will make students talk about their school in a positive way to other prospective students.

Satisfied students can be the best brand ambassadors an institution can find. When students love their school, it emanates from everything they do.

  • The students root for the home team during sports matches.
  • School tour guides who speak about the university to groups of prospective students are enthusiastic and insightful.
  • Successful professionals who have ‘made it’ in their respective fields eagerly voice their support for their alma mater.

Such enthusiasm builds a positive culture around the school and encourages new students to come and try it out. Building a strong brand around any organization entices people to want to belong to that particular select group and culture.

What colleges can teach us about building a winning culture

Most professionals realize that employees are important for keeping the company running smoothly. They know that turnover is bad because it wastes time and resources. They also know that high turnover can damage their reputation among potential hires.

What they don’t realize, though, is the importance of employee satisfaction when it comes to the customer experience.

Just like the college student who loves their school so much they broadcast it to anyone who asks their opinion, employees who feel respected and appreciated help to broadcast a positive image of the company and can increase customer satisfaction rates.

Think about it.

Employees are the face of your company. When they feel valued, they take the time to invest their energy into the company and their interactions with customers. They also strive to embrace a culture of success, which can help inspire their peers to improve their interactions with customers, too.

Employees and brand advertising

Employees can be wonderful sources for building up your brand. Just as happy college students take the love for their school to every facet of their life, satisfied employees tend to bring their jobs with them wherever they go.

Think about the last time you heard someone complain about the company where they work. How did those complaints impact your perception of the company? Chances are, that negative feedback made you feel worse about the brand in question — and less likely to turn to them when you need products or services in their industry.

An entirely different experience, however, comes when an employee is positive and upbeat about their employer. When they tell you enthusiastically that they can help you solve your problem, you become inclined to trust them.

Treating your employees well can help boost their satisfaction and improve how they represent your company to the general public. Remember that your employees are the face of your brand. That means you need to select them — and treat them — with that goal in mind. Cultivating a great employee culture is a wonderful way to improve your brand’s reputation from the inside out.