Relationship Building Requires Follow-up

Relationship building requires followupChecking in is never a bad idea. Whether to make sure ideas discussed at a meeting were shared in a clear fashion or to otherwise cement your interest in a connection, it’s always a good idea to approach a good situation a second time with a clearer understanding of what you want and how you can help should the occasion arise. This is especially important to note following social events.

Networking is much more than showing up and passing around business cards. To truly connect with people, you have to be willing to put in the extra leg work to schedule a follow-up meeting. By doing this, you set yourself apart as an individual truly invested in developing relationships with those you call back. After this follow-up, you’ll have a much more secure standing with the connections in question.

More Than a Meeting

Keep in mind that a follow-up is more than just agreeing to have conversation over coffee. It’s your time to develop a business plan in regard to what this connection could bring about. Learn what you can about them in order to come up talking points. Study the position they play in the company they work for so you can better understand possible offers they could bring to you or even how you can support them and build a stronger relationship.   Take this time to understand their background is a great way to pursue the relationship further without being blindsided or disappointed due to your own imaginings.

Follow-ups are also more than just one meeting. In order to keep up a relationship, you have to be willing to agree to continue your conversations at many points in the future. By forever sharing recent memories together, you stay fresh in their minds, even if it is just for a 15 minute break over a cup of coffee. This way, you are always at the forefront if they come across a job opening or sales opportunity that would further bolster your position.

Offer First

It’s no secret that we connect with others with the slight hope they will offer us payback in the future. However, this will never happen if you don’t approach the situation as a giver. Setting up meetings is a definite step in the right direction as it offers them your time and your attention.  Their agreeing is payback with their own time. From there, offer what you can based on anything that came up during your talks. Did they mention needing a new babysitter? Give them the contact info of yours. Did they rave about the symphony? Invite them to join you for a night at the music hall. No matter how big or how small, it’s a way to be altruistic and place yourself in a good position in their mind.

To build on this, always make sure that what you’re offering is as clear as possible. Miscommunication can be an immediate relationship killer, depending on the person in question. Where some people laugh off little mistakes, others take them personally and refuse any further contact.

Know Your Goals

To make this follow-up beneficial for you as well, don’t schedule anything until you have a definite goal in mind. It doesn’t have to be anything more than getting their direct line at work, but it has to be something. This will provide you with the motivation to seek them out and schedule them into your already busy day. It will also give you a way to drive conversation if it proves to be a little less exciting than it was at the event you met. To further make this easier, give yourself more than one goal and see how many you can hit before time runs out. This way, should you hit one brick wall, you’ll have a few options of where to go without seeming like an indignant person that just doesn’t know when to stop.

Remember that going in with a goal also takes a bit of societal acumen. If you’re looking for job openings, don’t ask them about it straight out of the gate. Start with friendly talk then steer the conversation toward the topic of jobs. Then, if the situation presents itself, you pounce. Because of this, you may swing and miss at the first few networking follow-ups you pursue. Allow for these mistakes so long as you promise yourself you’ll learn from them. With time, you’ll be a networking master.

About the Author:

Maria Elena Duron is a Marketing Coach and Strategist with Know, Like, + Ignite and @mariaduron on Twitter. Would you like practical tips to create and curate content and experiences worthy of being passed person-to-person? –Get exclusive access.

The Total Brand Experience

Disney is the master of experience. From the first click to the last day at the park, they grew from an animation studio into a worldwide corporation that has redefined exactly how we think of omnichannel experiences. Year after year after year, they underline just how crucial it is to keep customers engaged no matter where they are doing business with the mouse.

The Omnichannel

disneylandIn its most basic definition, an omnichannel is a multiple angle approach to a seamless experience for the customer as provided by the company. It’s a way that leads to continued engagement through the phone, website and in-person. Even so, that doesn’t mean constant engagement is always successful. There are a few stipulations that have to be followed to ensure the omnichannel experience works correctly.

Unification

Above all, the continued experiences have to be the exact same no matter the medium. Customers that go to a website expecting one thing and are greeted at the door with another will become confused, frustrated and even angry for being lied to. This is why some businesses are portrayed as a villain. Their website paints then out to be a company that cares about its customers, yet any customer that has ever tried to deal with customer service has been met with horrible service.

Disney, on the other hand, has every single channel perfected so that customers expect the same treatment no matter where they run into Disney. Including color schemes, verbiage, content and ease of use, the Disney experience is immersive from start to finish.

Tiers

Once everything sends the same message, the next step is layers of interaction based on how in-depth the customer goes with the company. While remaining unified, each tier builds upon the last one creating a magical journey and rides that delights them with consistency and trust as they become newly converted fans of the brand. Such a technique is what turns a passing customer experience into a lifelong relationship.

Walt Disney said it best, “Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.” Technology has really allowed Disney to adapt to this even more rapidly.  Enter the Fast Pass, where customers now had control over how long they would have to wait for a ride, making the parks a bit more enjoyable. Hotels began upgrading, becoming themed. Hotel guests were treated to special perks and transportation. Now, they have Magic Bands – a tool that has cemented Disney’s success for the next few generations.

This virtually indestructible wristband contains park tickets, acts as a hotel keycard, works as a credit card, orders food and can be used to track a lost child should the worst happen. It also allows guests to choose their fast passes for the day. In short, it has further taken what would otherwise have been a stressful trip and made it easier than ever to enjoy the parks themselves. Customers can literally forget about their responsibilities because all symbols of responsibility – hotel keys, driver’s licenses, credit cards – can now be left locked up in the hotel room. It’s a stroke of brilliance that has proven just how business changing total omnichannel experiences are.

Harnessing Greatness

As a smaller business, the task can seem daunting, but it’s not impossible. Like all things in life, it’s simply one foot in front of the other. Do what you can now and then expand outward. First, you’ll need to determine what experience you want your users to have and how you want them to be treated during the experience. This concept has to be crystal clear in order to be expanded upon successfully.

  • How do you want people to feel when the do business with you?
  • What does the journey look like as they consider you, do business with you and then refer friends to you?

Once determined, decide where you want to start. Will it be in-house with customer service or online where the majority of your audience comes from? Keep on top of customer feedback as either warning flags or signs of success. Following this, continue expanding outward until your brand is recognized and respected for its impossibly seamless omnichannel approach to the customer experience.

Appreciation in Business When You’re a Solopreneur

mmHow do you feel when someone genuinely appreciates you for your input/effort? It feels nice and warm, doesn’t it?

That’s the kind of feeling you want customers and clients to associate with you. As a solopreneur, chances are you will perform a lot of the business’s tasks yourself, so you’ll probably relate with a lot more people than if you had a team working for you.

As a business owner, you don’t need to be reminded on the importance of keeping customers happy. However, in the midst of all the tasks and appointments you have to keep, you might forget to do the little things like genuinely saying “thank you” that make a whole world of difference in other people’s lives.

Appreciation is important

According to data obtained from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) office on client retention surveys, 68% of clients leave because they perceive the business does not care for them. Compare that to 14% because of product dissatisfaction. At the very least, you can rebound from having a bad product, but where the client feels you do not value them, they will leave, and it will be much harder for you to bring them back.

How people feel about you and their desire to transact with your business are closely related, if not directly proportional. And it’s true in reverse scenarios, too. With the exception of a business offering low prices, you will buy from someone who treats you kindly, smiles, and lets you know how valuable you are to them. So why not do the same for your clients?

Put yourself in their shoes

To understand properly the effort you need to put into your appreciation efforts, you have to think like your customer/client. Remember, in their eyes, it is all about them. Thus, you need to put other’s needs before your own if you are to succeed at conveying genuine appreciation.

Genuine appreciation is heartfelt and sincere. Fake appreciation is easy to spot, and cultivates a level of distrust in the recipient that is hard to shed.  Appreciation in business requires constant opportunities for them to sample your character and competence to develop know, like and trust.

Appreciation has to focus on aspects other than those that benefit you. [tweet this]

You have to identify the personality traits that make working with a particular client pleasurable to you and praise that. It’s more like giving compliments, and you also don’t expect anything in return.

More than just appreciation

Even as you go about being appreciative to the people you interact with that make your business grow, you have to think continually of ways to make the customer experience better and easier. Make it easier for customers to transact with you through a number of ways, like having an easy-to-remember phone number, fast responses to email and social media queries, and easy to fill online forms.

Encourage customers to give feedback on what they liked and didn’t like about doing business with you. Customers have with them a wealth of knowledge that is useful in your efforts to improve your services and overall attitude.

Lastly, never forget to say “thank you.” Don’t just say it when customers purchase from you. Make appreciation a consistent theme in your work and life, and clients will take notice and want to associate with you. Happy customers will likely come back, and they’ll share their positive experiences with others, thus expanding your potential reach.

That’s something to be thankful for, isn’t it?

About the Author:

Maria Elena Duron is a Marketing Coach and Strategist with Know, Like, + Ignite and @mariaduron on Twitter. Would you like practical tips to create and curate content and experiences worthy of being passed person-to-person? –Get exclusive access.

Reviews are Word of Mouth: The Most Powerful Form of Advertising

11043390_1553045351622453_1788492456641338107_oMany have read negative reviews and some may have written one or two themselves. Often, when a business receives a negative review they don’t know really what to do.

Some will come out of the gate swinging

Mad, angry and ready to defend their team and their every move – sometimes they miss the main message or the constructive feedback embedded in the review.

Some will take the ostrich defense

Acting too busy or completely unaware that there has been a negative review or comments about their business, they decide to not even acknowledge the review.

Some are just as service focused online as they are offline

And, it serves them well. They are focused, listening and eager to help their customer and do take a genuine interest in translating their customer’s review to something that could become a plan to put into place for improvement.

How do you reduce the negative and increase the positive?

Make it a priority

A recent study shows that, on average, 10.4 information sources are checked before making a decision.

Create a good product and provide quality service

It’s important that you are providing quality all the way around. As a marketing team, we’re often asked to put “lipstick on a pig” which means we’re asked to make someone look amazing and engaged on social when their actual product or service is not that good.

Those companies we ask to “go back” and review their actual services. Many times, they know what they need to improve on but haven’t focused or made a commitment to make those changes.

Provide avenues or front level connections where customers can communicate and vent

It’s true. If you’re listening at the level where customers are doing business or engaging, then you’ll decrease negative reviews.

Providing customers the opportunity to be heard and to be valued, will negate those who want to take to the review sites or social airways to vent. If they feel heard at this level, they feel valued.

Are you asking for feedback? Are you listening to the response?

Does your team do the same? Are they willing to listen to constructive criticism and helpful in seeking solution?

Have the ability to capture positive comments in an easy way

To increase positive reviews, the key is not to bribe your customers for them or to exchange goods or money for them (that’s not ethical!).

Instead, provide an easy format to capture their positive comments.

One fitness facility we worked with had a laptop available to clients to capture their video comments and reviews on how much they enjoyed the facility.

Another utilizes a review funnel we created them that captures and promotes the positive reviews and sends negative reviews immediately to a customer care team member who contacts them for more personal interaction and feedback.

Respond fast

Either online or in person, quickly respond to reviews with a level head and the focus of nurturing the relationship with the client. Unless after careful consideration you feel that the person is being abusive or disrespectful and that would need to be determined during you contact of response to them (unless they were very explicit and derogatory in their review).

It is a conscious decision that needs to be made and not a knee-jerk or “rage quit” decision.

*rage quit: when someone emotionally takes action to no longer speak or engage with someone and quits in a fit of anger.

Offer opportunities and incentives

Let’s be clear. You’re not offering these in exchange for a positive review – that would be unethical! What you are doing is offering this opportunities and incentives to those who have left negative reviews giving them a chance to try you again; or to see how you’ve made improvements from their feedback; or to show them that what they initially experienced was not the normal experience and provide them the opportunity to experience what you really deliver.

If we can assist you in creating these easy systems with the tools we have that make this easy for you and encouraging positive word of mouth , please let us know – we would be honored to assist you!

Maria Elena Duron, Marketing Coach

About the Author:

Maria Elena Duron is a Marketing Coach and Strategist with Know, Like, + Ignite and @mariaduron on Twitter. Would you like practical tips to create and curate content and experiences worthy of being passed person-to-person? –Get exclusive access.

 

The Cost of the Unhappy Customer

It seems like the first instinct now when you’re dissatisfied with a company is to post it on social media. According to Vision Critical, there are large costs associated with an unhappy customer.

Take a look and see how that unhappiness  has reach and influence fueling it.

http://www.visioncritical.com/blog/unhappy-customer

http://www.visioncritical.com/blog/unhappy-customer

Quality Connections are the Goal

A lot of social media woes can be traced back to the wrong choice of platform to engage customers through. [tweet this]

Quality Business Connections are the Goal

This goes back to your market research. At the very beginning, find out where your target audience is most likely to hang out (pun unintended). Not every social media platform will work for your business, and you shouldn’t establish a presence in all of them, especially if doing so will spread you thin. As a small business owner, focus your efforts with platforms that are compatible with your company’s marketing approach and offerings.

Quality content

Social media is meant to be a way to engage and interact with clients and consumers, not an avenue for the company’s sales pitch. Aim to post information that contributes meaningful and insightful knowledge. If you use social media for advertising purposes, you are more likely to reach a wider audience who will boost your follower numbers, but won’t be true brand advocates.

Numbers don’t equate to success

If you are seeking an audience that will be happy to engage you in meaningful conversations and dialogue meant to grow business, numbers will not be your focus. A lot of marketers make the mistake of focusing on the numbers.  Most likely, the thousands of followers will be people who don’t care about your business, and are only there to boost their numbers as well.

Rather than focus on numbers, try and grow your community through offering targeted information and incentives. Doing this means performing the necessary market research to determine who your target audience will be. Provide them with useful content, and integrate word of mouth marketing tactics with them. Over time, you’ll be able to build a loyal fan-base and witness far less follower’ attrition when a promotion or competition you broadcasted over social media ends.

Let the conversation flow

All this time, listen to what your followers say about the business, and encourage them to interact with you. Fans that interact genuinely with you are those that already like your product/service, so avoid pushing your marketing message on them. Social media engagement should reflect a casual flow of conversation, one that is rich with advice and valuable content. Always listen and take the opportunities to address any complaints and concerns; it shows that you value what the fans say.

Aim to make fan interactions two-way. Besides offering regular posts, tweets, and updates, acknowledge fans that want to actively and genuinely engage with the brand. The more interaction you have, the better an impression you are leaving on the fans, who will spread the good word about your business to others.

Slow and steady

Building quality connections is all about taking it slow, like a long-term relationship, so to speak. If you are in it for instant gratification of large followings that mean nothing to the business, then you’ll resort to the sales pitch and advertising/self-promotion strategies. When you want your connections to mean something to your business, who engage and help you grow the brand as a whole, then you’ll cultivate them from potential customers to eventual brand loyalists.

Though using social media is easy, it takes time and thought to grow a quality social media following. Daily monitoring, providing valuable and informative content, giving fans a chance to engage with the brand, and generally taking it slow are the ways to build quality connections. Social media shouldn’t be viewed as a one-off investment, but rather as a long term avenue to engage and interact with loyal fans.

Choose the right platforms

For many social media marketers, there is always a tendency to do too much. Most of the time, this has to do with the fact that social media platforms are easy to use. Updating your status updates on multiple platforms will only take a matter of minutes, and monitoring retweets, mentions, likes, and shares is as easy as using a single app. This all makes life easier, but the key to establishing a quality following on social media is through care and consideration.

This aspect is more so important when it comes to building a community of loyal fans. The more the better, right? This may not always be the best strategy, especially where you are looking to build a quality following. Your key consideration should not be how many people follow your business on social media, but how many really appreciate the brand and can advocate for it in their private personal networks.

Maria Elena Duron, Marketing Coach

About the Author:

Maria Elena Duron is a Marketing Coach and Strategist with Know, Like, + Ignite and @mariaduron on Twitter. Would you like practical tips to create and curate content and experiences worthy of being passed person-to-person? –Get exclusive access.