Following on from Jim Woodhead’s guest blogger entry, we may be starting a trend.
Neil Rudolph, Marketing Manager at TNT, approached me with an article of his own and I was more than happy to oblige.
If you’d like to be a guest blogger on our site get in touch: email@example.com
Some things in life are beyond your control. Like the way a spider and a poorly positioned TV resulted in a recent meeting being canned after 15 minutes for an impromptu trip to A&E. Or the way the great British press whip the country up into such a frenzy every four years that we become convinced, absolutely convinced that England are GUARANTEED to win the world cup. This despite the fact that deep within our hearts, we know, deep down that our team are the professional footballing equivalent of the fat kid at your schools sports day egg and spoon race – he can’t possibly do it, but you just want him to SO MUCH.
And then he doesn’t, obviously.
Something else that is beyond your control, is the ability, or even the right, for every single one of your past, present, or future customers, to talk about you publicly in whatever way they want, about whatever they want, from wherever they choose, at a time that suits them.
Pretty daunting for any consumer or FMCG marketing professional, let alone a good old fashioned banjo playing, tobacco chewing, role your sleeves up and get stuck in B2B marketer like yours truly.
There’s little doubt that the boom in social media channels, and the profile given to each one by the media and celebrities alike, has helped these networks and groups to swell dramatically in number, and there’s equally little doubt that in a Friends Reunited style, many of them will fade when the next trendy, easiest to use, or most mentioned by celebrities in the media platform arrives.
However, what the likes of Twitter and Facebook teach us is that the platform that all of these channels provide is what’s really grounded and here to stay. Our customers are in this space right now. They like the freedom, they love the immediacy, they crave the relaxed tone that perhaps they cannot use in their day to day, and they goggle at the potential it gives them to connect with individuals who share their views, no matter where they are. In addition, the WIIFM factor kicks in hard, as the individual receives comments and “likes” on their thoughts, and then joy of joys, becomes followed – actually becomes a leader of men to those who choose the individuals rants and worldly wisdom as their gospel.
So, what an excellent opportunity for marketing, sales, and customer facing staff generally to come together, monitor, listen, and engage with their customers and deliver solutions tailored to the customers needs and exceeding their expectations on every level.
Of course it’s excellent, sign me up, sign up my company, sign up my family – NOW – I MUST HAVE THIS – I MUST KNOW!!!!
And yet, time and time again, both within my own day to day, at the numerous meetings and conferences I attend, or industry journals I read, the stakeholders feedback turns out to be the same pretty much every time:
“Yes, I get it, but what’s the ROI?”
Puzzling, frustrating, infuriating even, but absolutely, completely, understandable.
There is also the perception that social media is just that – social. It’s the place where people post pictures of themselves at the pub last night, or talk about that great TV show last night or the latest gossip on that A list celeb. It’s where they reconnect with people that they haven’t seen since school 20 years ago, and then remind themselves that they have nothing in common, which is why they lost touch in the first place. What possible business benefit could there be to something like that??
In these austere times, the focus on a return on all marketing expenditure, and utilisation of customer service activity to retain and grow accounts is the minimum requirement. There has to be an absolute, beyond doubt business benefit to any expenditure, and so there should be.
I type this today whilst fielding the umpteenth sales call I’ve received this morning already, and I find myself staring down at the small black box that interferes with my musing with its shrill, repetitive tone.
And I wonder – what’s the ROI of my telephone?
How many more ideas could I have if it didn’t ring? How many of those ideas would turn into new campaigns or initiatives, how many of those would get launched, and then how many of these fictitious campaigns that I haven’t thought of would drive new business revenue for my organisation? Surely I don’t need to answer the phone every time it rings, do I?
There are about 60 desks on the wing of the office floor where I sit, and each desk has a telephone. But why?? How much productivity and ROI are we all loosing every single day by being at the beck and call of these devices? And then again, there are over 1000 people on our site, how many of them have phones? How much flipping revenue are we missing out on here? This is madness! Burn them all, melt them down, throw them out the window, stamp on them – do something, QUICKLY!! There’s not a moment to lose. We simply MUST STOP THE MADNESS!!
And that’s what it is of course. Complete madness. None of these units are affecting our results in any way. My colleagues and I do not arrive at work in the morning and call our friends, families and co all day long until the home bell rings. Of course we don’t!
What we do know is that if suppliers, customers, colleagues or even “beloved” sales people wish to speak with us, they will, more often than not pick up the old squawk box and ring us. Why? Because they can, because it’s easy, because it’s noticeable, and because more often than not, they know they will be noticed and they know they will be successful.
And I believe it’s absolutely this rule of thumb that should be applied to business use of social media. It’s not the channel that you choose, nor the content you find, or the tools you use to find it. It’s the fact that just like your phone, your social media channel is another avenue to communicate with or receive feedback from your customers quickly, easily, and whilst the iron is still very hot. And that’s before you even consider the knock on value to your search engine results if you use them properly.
Therefore, my challenge to you is this – give it a go. Dip your toe in the water, and find out what your customers are saying RIGHT NOW about YOU. And then perhaps you could start to engage – catch the critics with positive, short and punchy interactions, and use your natural expertise to convert them into advocates of your brand, who will then do your bidding for you with their own social media peer groups.
We need to accept that the customer has most definitely beaten us off the mark. They are already there, in the space, on the channels, right now, talking about, sharing experiences of, and influencing perception of our brands. So perhaps the answer to the response we receive when we pitch this activity should be “what’s the ROI if we don’t?”
We can either love and accept that the customers are there, but treat them like a drunk bloke shouting in a pub at closing time, and choose to ignore them, or, we can look at them clearly, identify their reasons, their behaviours, and their motives, and engage with them where they still usually least expect us to be, which then makes exceeding their expectations all the easier. And the only outlay for that bit is a tiny portion of our valuable time. A bit like when we answer the phone.
I’ve just glanced at my watch – that’s the second time I’ve done that this morning. Maybe if I try and cut that down to once a day from tomorrow I could have one more killer idea and double my output…..
Who is Neil Rudolph?
Neil Rudolph is the Marketing Manager at TNT. For the last two years he has become more and more involved with, and now specialises in digital, search, and social media marketing. He eats, sleeps and breathes the stuff, and loves every minute.
If you’d like to be a guest blogger on our site get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
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