Customers Rock!

A blog about customers, their experiences, and how businesses can make sure their customer experiences rock!

Posts Tagged ‘Marketing’

‘Tis the Season: Holiday Giving

Posted by Becky Carroll on November 23, 2007

christmas-hearts.jpg At this time of year, companies think about their customers with a holiday card, and for some customers even a gift.  But customer service isn’t a once-a-year phenomenon.  It is year-round. 

What message is sent to the customer that only hears from a company once per year?  Put another way, what do you think about those holiday cards that are the only communication you receive all year (other than bills)?  Customer relationships require ongoing care and feeding in order to be maintained or to grow.  The same can be said for mentoring junior staff, employee reviews, and many other things.  They should not be once per year events but a continual process.

Here are a few tips for creating a customer contact plan for existing customers.

  1. Be sure to understand your customers’ preferences.  How do they want to be communicated with?  Email?  Print?  Phone?  Facebook?  Utilize their preferred method of interaction; it is probably different for different customers.
  2. Understand what business your customers are doing with your company.  Have they been customers for a long time?  Is this their first 30 days of doing business with you?  Have they just referred new business to you?  Communications should be adjusted accordingly and should acknowledge that level of business.  Most customers want to know you see them as more than just a number/name in an email list.
  3. Intersperse up-sell and cross-sell communications with “just because” communications.  At least quarterly, call or contact customers to see how things are going and check in on their satisfaction levels.  Customers are usually happy that you want to know how they are doing.

Go ahead and send out those holiday greetings.  As you put together the finishing touches on your plans for this upcoming year, however, make sure you are creating a plan for how you want to contact your customers throughout the months that follow.

(Photo: zocky)

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Posted in B2B Marketing, Customer strategy, Marketing | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Be My Guest: Red Sox Beat Angels

Posted by Becky Carroll on October 3, 2007

baseball.jpg Today, I welcome a guest blogger, Lewis Green.  Lewis is a great example of building strong friendships and connections through blogs.  Although I have not met Lewis in person, we have spoken by phone and exchanged comments on each other’s blogs.  Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t!  That’s what makes an interesting conversation.  I asked Lewis if he would be so kind as to write a guest post for me, which he has done today.  

As the baseball playoffs are starting up here in the USA, Lewis writes about which team he feels will win – from a social media and marketing perspective!  Thank you, Lewis.  You rock!!

Red Sox Beat Angels

by Lewis Green, bizsolutionsplus and L&G Business Solutions

Baseball, like all businesses, depends on marketing for growth and for product sales. And nobody does it better than the Boston Red Sox. So while we Sox and Angels fans watch a battle of equals on the field in the first round of the playoffs, there is no contest when it comes to marketing. The Sox win in a rout over the Angels. Their secret weapon: they turn control of much of their marketing over to the fans.

Both Boston and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have fine web sites, featuring fan forums, players photos, videos and great souvenirs, and of course both teams invest a lot of money and marketing effort in season ticket sales. But that’s where any comparison ends. From that point on, the Sox put the hammer down on the Angels as well as most of MLB.

Sell-outs are not an issue in Boston, so marketing efforts for brand building and souvenir sales are turned over to the fans, who are made to feel a part of the team, whether or not they can get tickets to a game. It all begins with Red Sox Nation.  And if you have ever seen a Sox away game, including against the Angels, you cannot help but notice the impact Red Sox Nation has on baseball. It is not unusual for thousands of Red Sox fans to be in the seats of away games. In some places, notably Toronto, Detroit, Baltimore, and Tampa Bay, Red Sox fans frequently outnumber the home team’s fans. Even in evil Yankee Stadium, Sox fans are easy to find and even easier to hear.

Red Sox Nation is a social media site for the fans. Anyone can become a member, choosing from four tiers of membership, from free to the most expensive, the Ultimate Fan Pack, which along with Monster Memberships quickly sold out, leaving late-comers to choose either the free tier or the least expensive Fan Pack for $14.95.

Depending on the level of membership, fans receive newsletters, membership cards, bumper stickers, publications, free game-day audios,  free access to the weekly Red Sox Video Report, discounts at the team store, their own exclusive gate at Fenway Park, member’s-only pages on redsox.com, and special offers throughout the season for everything from team gear to away-game travel packages, to home-game tickets.

This year’s highlight featured the election of a new President to lead Red Sox Nation. It included a candidates debate televised on NESN, the New England Sports Network, moderated by Tim Russert of “Meet the Press,”  and held at Boston University’s George Sherman Union. Candidates included fans such as Cheryl Boyd, Great-niece of Elizabeth “Lib” Dooley, a long-time, well-known follower of the team; Cindy Brown, Head of Boston Duck Tours; Jared Carrabis, who has worn a Red Sox shirt 1,400 days in a row ; and Rob Crawford. who raises funds for education. Candidates also included legendary baseball Hall of Famer journalist Peter Gammons; former Red Sox relief pitcher Rich Garces; former Red Sox left-handed slugger Sam Horn; and Red Sox Hall of Famer and NESN analyst Jerry Remy. At the time of this writing, fans have finished voting and we now await the results.

The election has been a marketing coup. Because of Red Sox Nation, ESPN and ESPN2 have adopted the phrase to describe Sox fans, and the press, local and national, covered the Presidential race. Fans and Members love it, members come from all over the world, they buy tickets well in advance when the Sox come to their neck of the woods, and they brag on their membership to anyone who listens. You can’t buy this kind of marketing. It is social media at its best and an example for all businesses and consultants to study and mimic, if they can.

In addition to Red Sox Nation, Jerry Remy created Rem Dawg Nation.  Remy’s members receive the very popular Remy report and are the beneficiaries of freebies ranging from tee-shirts to box seats. And because Remy is on the air for nearly every Red Sox game, he markets the heck out of both Nations, adding to the appeal of membership, especially to kids who make up the team’s future customers.

In the Conversation Age of Web 2.0, the Boston baseball team’s marketing model is one we all need to pay attention to. It demonstrates the power of giving up at least some marketing control to your customers and clients. Red Sox and Rem Dawg Nation have sparked an interest in the Boston team and their products that exceed most marketing efforts, whether at multi-national companies, sports franchises, or small businesses. It demonstrates the power of Social Media as a marketing tool.

(Photo: cmillc22)

Posted in Community, Customer loyalty, Customer strategy, Guest bloggers, Marketing, social media | Tagged: , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Customer Engagement Online

Posted by Becky Carroll on September 26, 2007

conversation.jpg I have talked with many companies who tell me they aren’t sure if they want to start an online conversation with their customers.  Cord Silverstein asks this question in his post Engage customers or die. He says,

Is it a good thing for companies to try to engage their customers online? Does the good outweigh the possible repercussions that could come from it? And finally what are some of your ideas on how companies can engage online with their customers?

Cord’s post and comments start a great discussion on this topic!  I think part of the concern companies have about engaging their customers in conversation online is that they have not already been engaging in ANY conversations with customers.  Rather, marketing and PR have often created one-way communication vehicles (advertisements, press releases, articles/white papers).  Ongoing, two-way interaction with customers is how we build customer relationships.  The online channel, ideally, is just one more channel by which to reach out and build relationships with customers.  It is a great channel to use because it enables immediate, two-way conversation!  Therefore, if your customers are interacting online, you need to be out there talking with them and learning from them in the online space.

With or Without You

Customers are having conversations about companies, with or without the company’s involvement with those discussions.  Someone in Cord’s comments suggested the way to engage with customers online is to have your PR department be new media-savvy and do the correspondence.  Having the PR person be the one to respond concerns me, as I believe customers are looking for authentic responses, not carefully crafted company statements. 

Creating a place on your own site, such as a blog, is a great way to keep the conversation in your backyard – as long as you allow comments and take the time to respond.  Southwest Airlines has done a good job of engaging with customers online, and they use their blog as a feedback channel for ideas, concerns, and questions.  Everyone at SWA takes the time to write and respond, including pilots and the CEO.  For example, their recent business decision on whether or not to assign seats was put to their customers in a few different blog posts; the most recent one elicited over 360 comments!

Check out Toby Bloomberg’s Diva Marketing blog or Mack Collier’s The Viral Garden for more on corporate blogging tips and best practices.

Conversation is Key to Customer Relationships

Think about it.  Can you get to know a new person you meet without having some kind of conversation?  Whether it be in person, over email, or on a Facebook wall, there has to be some type of interaction in order to progress the relationship.

Customer relationships are no different!  It is important to go where your customers are (be that online, at a retail store, in their own place of business), get to know them, find out their needs, and start doing something different based on what you learn.  Customer trust and relationships will build, and the best ones will lead to more customers as they tell others about you.

Start the conversation!

Posted in B2B Marketing, Customer experience, Marketing, Voice of the customer | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »