Recently, I was building a new Twitter persona for a business and trying to figure out how to gain exposure.
I started by using Twitter’s search function to find people who were tweeting about the same topic. Then I followed as many as I could find. (I’m continuing to add to the list each day.)
Well, a lot of Tweeple (that’s Twitter People, in case you haven’t heard) like to follow anyone who follows them. Sure, it makes keeping up with tweets hard, but from a business point of view it makes sense: the more people you follow and are followed by, the more chance there is of someone reading your tweets. If you are targeting your followers through keyword searches, then you have found your audience. And — because of the auto-follow etiquette — they have found you.
After monitoring the profile for a while and manually following people who followed me I quickly realized I needed to automate the process and focus my energies on creating great content.
Dave Taylor has posted an excellent tutorial (with screenshots, hoorah!) taught me how to use TweetLater to handle the automation. TweetLater has other useful tools too, but for now I’m using it to
- auto-follow, and
- send a ‘welcome’ message when people follow the profile, linking back to the business’s website.
I’m scanning tweets and jumping in to conversations, and tweeting whenever the business has some news or a new blog post. I”m also engaging with people who write back to thank me for the welcome message, and many have.
I have started to see increased traffic on the business website with this unobtrusive and, frankly fun form of marketing. It feels collaborative and light-hearted and nothing like “sales”!
On Tuesday, Feb 24, Amazon will release the Kindle 2, the second version of its Kindle ebook reader, and the media are already full of stories about ebooks. The time has never been better to release your content digitally and, to capitalize on the news, to release your content in a Kindle-ready format.
What Is The Kindle | Who Are Kindle Readers | How Do I Do This?
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Think Twitter doesn’t affect your business? Johnson & Johnson did.
This weekend Motrin became the #1 topic on Twitter. More specifically their web-ad about Babywearing (you know, slings, front carriers etc.) made them the #1 trending topic on Twitter…and not in a good way. In fact, they they managed to offend both people who wear their babies in slings and people who don’t.
By 3pm on Sunday there were:
Every few minutes there were 60 more tweets on the topic.
But there was no response from anyone at Johnson & Johnson or McNeil Health Care Group.
I’m guessing this is going to all over the business news, if not the mainstream news by Monday morning.
Are people Twittering about your business? What are they saying? Do you even know how to find out?
Hint: go here and enter your company’s name.
This morning my local radio station interviewed some of the people attending and organizing the Bench2Business conference, which is aimed at “aspiring and established scientists and entrepreneurs of color”.
Everyone they interviewed was really positive. No-one wasted time complaining about the inequities of the past or present, but instead talked about creating opportunities and role models.
Even more tellingly, one of the organizers sidestepped the moral issues altogether and pressed on to economics, saying,
You just cannot leave 30% of your society sitting on a side line and think you’re going to drive an economy in this country.
see original article
See? That’s a message people can rally around, because it promises something for everyone. He’s saying, “no matter what your position on race or equality or affirmative action, or politics or economic theory, you will be richer if you espouse my cause.”
If you want to persuade people to agree with you, buy your product, espouse your ideas, let them see what’s in it for them.
…Has an equal and opposite reaction.
It’s true in physics, and OK it’s slightly less true in business but bear with me.
In every downturn there are opportunities for those who are willing to look for them.
Today I noticed a local furniture store that was going out of business after 81 years. It’s sad and awful for the people involved, and you and I could spend a lot of time wallowing in an analysis of the terrible direction the economy is taking.
Or we could think: who can benefit from this?
It seem to me that even in the death of a furniture store there is opportunity.
- The owners of a furniture removal company, who can get a couple of trucks down to the store on Saturday morning and offer good deals to people who are scooping up floor samples and trying to balance couches on the back of their pick-up trucks in the rain.
- The owners of a van rental company, who can make quick, short-term rentals from the parking lot.
- A local interior designer who can offer a tip-sheet on how to make the new furniture work, or who can sell a booklet about design matters, or who can hand out coupons for discounts on her services.
What is going on around you and are you flexible enough to make it work for you?
Want to build a huge list of pre-qualified prospects? Take tip from the President-Elect.
In trying to figure out how Barak Obama won the election, the pundits agree that his organization was great a using new media to keep in touch with and build their base.
So how exactly did they get people to sign up?
One brilliant example came before Obama announced his pick for his running mate. The campaign gave people the chance to be the first to know who he had picked by signing up for text messages or an email — no more waiting around for traditional news outlets to tell them the news. All you had to do was give the campaign a way to contact you and you could get a jump on even the media in-crowd. Who wouldn’t love that?
Of course, this meant you were added to their database, but people didn’t seem to care because, pay attention now, they were getting something they valued in return.
Is there something you can offer your potential clients in exchange for their contact info?
Can you offer them a “buy one, get one 50% off” deal on their first purchase? Can you give them a free, exclusive, special report (or ‘white paper’) when they sign up for your newsletter? Can you give them something that will provide real value for them in exchange for their permission to keep in touch?
Create value, create releationships, create business.
Food prices are rising because supplies are down and demand is up. A recent National Geographic Magazine article focussed on preservation of healthy soil as one of the solutions.
This might be good news for some businesses, if they can think and market themselves creatively.
Heavy machinery compacts the earth, so manufacturers who make huge, wide tires for the machines should see their products rise in demand.
Farmers use GPS technology to pinpoint where they should drive, to minimize damage to soil. Savvy GPS equipment and software firms, who pay attention to their customer’s needs, will be doing well, even if the overall economy is down.
Dirt as a growth industry? Did you see that coming? In every downturn there are segments of the economy that are still growing.
Has the changing economy created new customers for you? Probably.
How will you tell those potential customers that they need you? In a trade magazine article? In press releases? By running a special promotion or contest to raise your visibility? By direct mail?
In a down economy, everyone is re-examining how they spend their money.
You could find yourself gaining business in these tough times if you position yourself as the best, mopping up all the customers your competitors are currently under-serving.
But only if you talk about how you can help.
Southwest Airlines hit the front page of my city newspaper’s business section today simply by saying they weren’t going to charge extra fees like all their competitors are doing (at least, not yet).
It’s not exactly news, it’s not even particularly good news, but by speaking out at a time when people are looking for ways to save money, Chief Executive Gary C. Kelly just made his company look like every traveller’s best friend.
(And, in a phrase that made me laugh out loud, he reinforced the company’s ‘maverick’ status by adding that they might consider becoming, “more like other carriers if, after thorough market research, customers told the company they did not mind paying the fees.” Yeah. That, and when hell freezes over and pigs become Southwest’s competition!)
Can you differentiate yourself from your competitors? Can you use it to get some non-news coverage, like Southwestern, or put out a special announcement to your client base? Is it time to add some content to your website or corporate blog? Maybe a direct mail piece or tip-sheet?
Keep talking up your business. Your customers are thirsting for good news.
Now is the time to reach out to your customers.
With uncertainties in the economy do you know where your customers are?
Are they sitting on buying decision? Are they waiting for someone, something to give them confidence?
That someone should be you, and it should be now.
Yes the stock market is down but your customers (most of them) are still doing business and still trying to figure out how to make money. You believe you can help them (or you should), so you need to reach out now, before someone else does.
Show them that:
- Doing business with you can move their business forward even (especially!) in tough times,
- Your product or service is amazing value for money,
- There’s an incentive to buy now (Can you add on a service? Offer a limited-time bulk discount?)
Don’t waste time worrying. Think of a way you can reach out to your jittery customers today, craft a message and send it out.
You can reach your customer by phone, by email, by blog, Twitter or direct mail, but you’d better know what you’re going to say when you do. When you have decided what you business’s offer will be, contact JDWrite, to have a professional writer spend time crafting your message while you get back to business.
The web is full of rants about bad customer service experiences, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you are in charge of customer service for your company, here are five ways to delight your customers, gleaned from my years both managing a customer service department, and personally talking to tens of thousands of customers.
- Answer the phone, if at all possible, with real people – even ten years ago, my customers were astonished when a real person answered the phone by the third ring. It delighted them and started every conversation off well. These days, if you can have the phone answered by someone from the same country as your customers, you will exceed their expectations.
- Answer their question – not the question you think they’re asking, not the question on your script. Their question.
- Don’t waste their time – if it’s clear that you can’t help them, find someone who can. Even if you have to offer to refer them to another company. You’ll have earned their trust and they’ll remember that when they’re next in the neighborhood, or when someone asks for a referral.
- Be honest – customers are suspicious. They know about advertising tricks and they are worried about losing money and losing face. If you know there is something that other customers have had problem with or frequently misunderstand, highlight it, upfront. Explain how it can be avoided or turned to the customer’s advantage. Earn their trust.
- Don’t make excuses – if the customer is unhappy, the most powerful thing you can do is simply say “I’m sorry. What can I do to make this better?”. This is powerful voodoo. This is Kryptonite. This, assuming you’re sincere and give your reps the power to act on their promises, will defuse 99% of escalated cases.
Fight hard to empower your customer service reps, to allow them to do these things. Sure, there are some customers who will try to take advantage of you. Following these rules, however, lets you reward the vast majority of everyday people who just want to do business with you, and not get a migraine headache from the experience.