Tag Archives: Social Media

How Do You Best Leverage Networking? Six Suggestions

Situation: A company is actively marketing to prospective clients and also engages in networking. They want to assure that they are up to speed with current trends in marketing. What are best practices for following up on marketing or networking contacts? How do you best leverage networking?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Timing is everything. A prospective client may or may not have an immediate need for your product or service, but may develop a need in the future. Assure that you have a program that provides ongoing follow up via:
    • Social Media
    • Phone calls
    • Emails
    • Regular personal follow up
  • Initial follow up should be rapid. Ask for permission to follow-up and set the time frame when you meet a new prospective client. Ask how the prospect prefers for you to stay in touch. Do they prefer newsletters follow-up via social media, or personal follow-up?
  • Draft letter, email and social media communication templates ahead of time so that rapid follow-up is easy.
  • Use an electronic or print newsletter to stay in touch with prospects. Social media have become an increasingly important way to stay in touch with networking contacts.
    • Basic newsletters are usually 2-3 pages, or a one pager with links to see full articles.
  • Look at contact management software: for example Salesforce.com or ACT.
    • Basic sales and marketing subscriptions from Salesforce.com start at $25/user/mo. for up to 5 users, or $65/user/mo. for a complete customer relations management (CRM) system.
  • Quality of collateral is important. It is a face of your company. High quality collateral should have a consistent look and feel, and should remind the prospect why they were interested in you and your company in the first place.

How Do You Generate High Quality Leads? Six Suggestions

Situation: A CEO wants the sales and marketing ream to generate higher quality leads. The company already uses referrals and networking. The CEO wants to know how other companies qualify leads before passing them on to sales. How do you generate high quality leads?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • The first step in a good lead generation campaign is to have a clear idea of who your customers and prospects are. Who are the current customers? How do you categorize them? Can you divide them into distinct groups?
  • Once you have divided your customers into distinct groups, develop a detailed profile for each group, concentrating on the most promising groups first. The profile will include demographics, potential purchase value, buying behavior, social media usage and preferred social media channels. Envision each group. Create a picture that represents the buyer and their personality profile. This is an important exercise because it shifts your focus from customers as lists to customers as people, and will boost the effectiveness of both your marketing and sales efforts.
  • After you develop customer profiles, rank them in terms of revenue potential to the company. Pre-qualify the high end buyer, not the low end. Target the decision-makers who can make a significant purchase.
  • Within each profile group, establish your own criteria for a good customer. Create questions which will help you to identify this customer.
  • Through social media and email campaigns, develop brief questionnaires and simple contests to help you to identify potential customers based on the criteria which you have developed. Develop a more detailed questionnaire turn leads into prospects.
    • Once a lead responds to your social media or email outreach have a sales person go through the detailed questionnaire with the lead prior to scheduling or going out on a face-to-face call.
    • You want to have well-qualified people making these calls.

How Do Social Media Change Client Interactions? Six Ways

Situation: A company wants to upgrade its presence in social media to improve client interactions. Before engaging in this exercise, they are curious as to how others are successfully using social media as part of their overall marketing and client service strategies. From your experience, how do social media change client interactions?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • The Web and the emergence of social media have enabled a much broader range of communication and collaboration options with clients, vendors, and others in any marketplace. In contrast to classic “push marketing” the Web and social media enable interactive marketing tailored to the individual needs, likes and dislikes of individual customers.
  • One of the most important changes is the opportunity for customers to post feedback and opinions about a company’s products and services. In the new reality, if you don’t have a place where customers can post feedback – both positive and negative – they’ll find somewhere else to post it.
  • Web 2.0 is generally defined as interactive, dynamic web sites that get updated frequently. From a consumer standpoint we think of eBay and Amazon.com. However, this also includes web-enabled collaborations between company members or company and client, for example collaborative project management.
  • Using cameras and built-in microphones that now usually come built-in with new monitors and laptops you can communicate less expensively and with higher quality than with traditional telecommunications. Web-enabled team meetings are virtually the same as being in the same room.
  • Through your web site you can provide digital video content at different levels of sophistication to potential and, with password protection, verified customers.
  • An underutilized resource which is truly win-win is available through local colleges and universities that can provide state-of-the-art expertise in web enabled communications through student projects in internships.
  • Special thanks to Dean Lane of the Office of the CIO (http://www.oocio.com) for his insight and input to this discussion.

How Can You Use Web and Mobile Tech to Bridge Different Worlds?

Interview with Jason Langheier, MD, MPH, Founder and CEO, Zipongo

Situation: The Internet and social media provide opportunities to bridge seemingly distinct worlds through common interests. For example, grocery chains that sell healthy foods and health insurance companies might be brought together through a common interest in healthy eating habits. How can you use web and mobile technology to bridge these two worlds?

Advice from Jason Langheier:

  • Interests and industries which are at first glance distinct can be brought together using the power of the Internet and social media. For example, Let’s Move and the Partnership for a Healthy America have nudged national food retailers and grocers to improve the health of their offerings in an effort to fight childhood obesity. Success here can benefit health insurers because obesity leads to increased healthcare costs through its link to diabetes and other complications. The potential of subsidies from health insurers to promote and generate healthy food choices is interesting to food retailers, but requires new incentive and recommendation systems.
  • We want to help people harness their motivation to build lasting new eating and activity routines. We do this through rewards based commerce, supported by social networks and gamification to help reach one’s health goals. We focus on choices that people make in daily living like grocery and restaurant choices and physical activities. We highlight alternatives, create simple recommendations, and make it easy to act on those recommendations. We encourage repetition of positive choices through a feedback loop which is tailored to the individual.
  • Commitments made within a social network are more likely to stick than promises to self. We leverage existing social media networks and offer incentives for referring friends. Friends help friends make better choices by encouraging them to read labels and buy healthier foods at the moment of purchase.
  • It is important to keep the user interface simple, especially at first. Many of the most successful applications initially present simple yes-no choices. From a tracking standpoint, this also minimizes variables and improves data measurement. Featuring high contrast action buttons on our site also helps prompt decisions.  There is a sweet spot on a commerce site between presenting an overwhelming array of options, and too few choices – which we assess through A-B testing.  By starting simply and building complexity slowly we build a baseline control scenario, then vary choices simply off the baseline to improve results.
  • The entrepreneur seeking to truly achieve a social mission must plan for both the short and long-term. In the short-term, it is critical to build milestones which will demonstrate financial feasibility and sustainability for potential investors. However a long-term perspective is also essential, particularly when one is interested in long term behavioral and economic impact.

You can contact Jason Langheier at j@zipongo.com

Key Words: Internet, Social Media, Food, Insurance, Health, Common, Interest, Software, Bridge, Entrepreneur, Partnership for a Healthy America, Incentive, Tracking, Reward, Commitment, Behavior, Change, Friend, Simple

How Do You Build A Scalable Sales Model? Three Steps

Interview with Scott Dietzen, CEO, Pure Storage

Situation: Even with a better mousetrap, an early stage tech company can’t afford a large sales force to cold call enterprise prospects. How do you build an affordable, scalable sales model – one which lets you quickly identify potential customers, and sell to them with a predictable rate of success?

Advice from Scott Dietzen:

  • From our experience, there are three steps to the process:
    • Form and quickly test hypotheses about your early adopters, and be prepared to iterate. “Friends and family” customers typically provide this test bed;
    • Look for ways for candidate customers could self qualify, and then strive to make that easily repeatable; and
    • Once have honed your messaging, leverage PR, viral marketing, social media, and other inexpensive means get your value proposition in front of more customers.
  • The chain of events between hypothesis, private experimentation and public launch is crucial:
    • Before launch, you want to have many confidential conversations about your value proposition with early prospects, and hopefully get many customers to privately try out your product. What do they love about the product? What changes will make it even more valuable? Listen and learn. At Pure Storage, we spent a year and a half in customer testing before we came out of stealth.
    • Most companies work too hard on the product and too little on the go to market plan. It’s better to do these in tandem. At Pure Storage we thought our messaging would skew toward performance, but learned that the fact that we saved customers 10X on their power and space budgets was equally important to them.
    • By having referencable customers in place before launch, you are better able to declare and defend first mover status and their validation is crucial to a successful launch.
  • A great way to accelerate growth on a start-up budget is to let customers self qualify for free:
    • At WebLogic, we offered developers a free download evaluation version of our software. A developer could choose to use WebLogic for free, and then go to their manager only after they had a WebLogic solution up and running. This made it far easier for management to make a buy decision, and took off so fast that it was hard for our sales force to keep up with the inbound license key requests!
    • At Pure Storage, we give away a software tool that storage administrators can point at an existing storage workload. The tool allows them to evaluate the savings from our data reduction algorithms, and hence how much their companies could save in cost and power by converting from mechanical disk storage to Pure solid-state flash. Enabling the customer to generate their own ROI story is an easier, more economical path to winning a happy customer, and the end user insider becomes a hero for delivering value to his/her organization.

Key Words: Technology, Solution, Model, Sales, Marketing, Customer, Identification, Hypothesis, Early Adopter, Social Media, Scalability, Pre-launch, Stealth

How Do You Revamp Your Brand and Marketing? Three Guidelines

Situation: A company wants to revamp its marketing materials and web site. They have no in-house resources, and no specific direction has been set. What are the best ways to revamp your brand and marketing materials?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • The first thing to consider is whether this Is just an adjustment to your current marketing, or whether you really need a broader in-depth analysis of branding, positioning and how well this is communicated by your marketing materials and web site. If it has been several years since your last revision of materials and web site, these may no longer be in step with current needs.
  • If you are located near a major metropolitan area there are many marketing consultants who can bring both a professional approach and a fresh vision to the task.
    • Work with your Chamber of Commerce, industry organizations, and your vendors, suppliers and distributors to find companies who have recently revamped their marketing. Check out the web sites of these companies and see which appeal to you. Ask the ones that you like what consultants they used.
    • If your company sells to consumers, or sells to consumers through outside channels, you should consider social media as a part of both your marketing mix. Even B2B companies now see see value in social media. Choose a consultant with expertise in social media as well as traditional marketing.
    • Interview several consultants before you make your final choice.
  • Many small companies are financially stretched and don’t have the dollars to support a major market revamp. Are there ways to reduce the cost?
    • Consider semester or summer interns for some of the analysis, data gathering and perhaps some of the design or social media work. Students at colleges and universities are hungry for intern positions – both paid and unpaid – to satisfy college course and graduation requirements as well as to get an inside track on future jobs.

Key Words: Collateral, Web Site, Branding, Budget, Intern, Consultant, Vendor, Supplier, Chamber, B2B, B2C, Social Media

How Does Social Media Aid Sales Efforts? Three Factors

Interview with John Lima, CEO, Coffee Bean Technology

Situation: As with anything new, there are varying adoption rates for social media. Many top executives aren’t sure  how social media can improve their sales. How can social media effectively enhance sale efforts?

Advice from John Lima:

  • Business is about people, and people are increasingly using social media to connect with others and to express themselves. Social media platforms encourage us to be ourselves – to take off the business mask that we normally present to the world. This enables the savvy company to better know their customers.
  • First, social media enable you to find customers more quickly. Almost everyone is somehow connected to social media. The problem is the inefficiency of searching for them through LinkedIn, Facebook Twitter, etc. Software-assisted search makes this more efficient. Develop a customer Social ID: a profile of what you believe your customers interests and buying behavior to be to serve as your social media connector.
  • Second, find people who fit this profile and engage with them in social media. Let them bring their conversations and interest to you, and refine your Social ID as you gain additional information. This gives you insight into the person – who they interact with and what interests them – and enables you to approach them as a human being. Envision an open marketplace where people connect first and then tell their stories. This allows salespeople to quickly build empathy and smooths the sales process.
  • Third, your evolving customer Social ID can help generate new leads. As the Social ID becomes more sophisticated you can develop key words to find similar customers. Software robots use these key words to find relevant conversations in Twitter or Facebook and flag then for a sales person who can then dig deeper to determine whether the individual identified is a competitor or a prospect.
  • To make this work efficiently, you want to have an integrated system with a set of tools that allows you to cost-effectively sift through the millions of daily entries logged through social media.

You can contact John Lima at john.lima@coffeebeantech.com

Key Words:  Sales, Marketing, Technology, Social Media, People, Mask, Customer, Connect, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Software, Social ID, Follow, Profile, Empathy, Relationship, Trust, Leads, System

When Do You Focus on the Plan and When Do You Adjust? Four Guidelines

Interview with Phil Bookman, CEO, Assistyx

Situation: The dynamics of an early-stage business require balance between focus and opportunity. The challenge is in the balancing act. When do you focus on the plan, and when do you adjust?

Advice from Phil Bookman:

  • Never allow your friends to become statistics. We call our customers our friends. Our most loyal and vocal friends were our early adopters and got us where we are today. They remain important participants in the conversation and are always in our focus.
  • Along the same lines, when using social media to communicate to your audience, remember that this is a face-to-face conversation. This is a key point of focus.
    • Remove as much friction from online interactions as you can. Make it as easy as possible for people visiting your web site to buy. This requires both live interactions with users and attention to detail. If a question keeps coming up, answer it; put the answer right up front on your web site where it cannot be missed.
    • We’ve made hundreds of tweaks, each tiny. Each has removed a point of friction. As the company grows it is easy to lose sight of these details. Never lose sight of details.
  • Much of what we face in business is transitory. It is important to stay nimble so that you don’t get stuck fighting the last skirmish. For example, in 2009, we found that a subscription service was difficult for institutional users like purchasing departments in schools to understand. It isn’t now.
  • You must be careful not to chase bright shiny objects – opportunities that take you outside your principal market competence. Would you try to modify a hammer to put in screws?
    • Our principal product TapToTalk is a communication device for kids with verbal challenges. Some have suggested that it could also be a teaching device. Possibly in the future there will be room in our plan for a teaching device, but we will address this as its own market and application when we are large enough to diversify.

You can contact Phil Bookman at pbookman@assistyx.com

Key Words: Early Stage Business, Focus, Opportunity, Balance, Adjust, Early Adopter, Social Media, Friction, Detail, Nimble