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21 10, 2013

Learning How To Sell Really Won’t Help You

By |2017-03-03T12:07:00-05:00October 21st, 2013|Categories: Blog, Sales|Tags: , , , , , , , |0 Comments

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You need to update your tool kit.

Selling used to be a game and the rules and suggestions were always the same, “Close  them” was the cry.

The problem is we don’t sell customers  anymore, they sell themselves.

They get much of their information on line; hopefully your company has a web site and social media to engage them.

You need content, content, content as my friend Shelia Carmody, Content Specialist from Guaranteed Press. According to Shelia, “The most challenging part of Internet Marketing is creating good, relevant, engaging content for your web page and all of your web communications.” Why not consider writing your own blog or have someone do it for you? You can buy content and post it yourself or have someone take charge of your blog. The key is to get others to read your content.

If you come from “the old school of sales” this is all new and most likely foreign to you. Since when do sales people have to write, don’t they just sell?

Since when do salespeople have to worry about internet marketing, don’t they just sell?

Well the new selling is all about this stuff; the more value you can add for your customers the more likely you are to get the customer to buy. (Notice I didn’t say “sell them.”)

As salespeople you were all taught about networking. Well networking hasn’t changed it’s just gotten easier and a little more complicated. You used to say I met Sally at the Chamber, now you say I met Sally at the Chamber, I joined one of her “meetups”, invited her to join me  on LinkedIn, friended her on Facebook, following her on Twitter and signed up for her blog! No that doesn’t make it more complicated, it makes it easier and really puts you in control. Look at all the options you have! The only way you could continue to connect was through the telephone.

This is selling in a different format. It puts some of the responsibility for getting sales on the salesperson.

What are you thinking about?

That’s a good thing right?

You don’t have to wait for the owner to run an ad, essentially you’re running your own ads by being out in the public.

As my mother would say, “It’s time to make a name for yourself little girl !”

Lisbeth helps business and individuals built loyal customers through customer service and social media marketing. To have her speak at one of your meetings, send her a text 518-495-5380. How’s that for a connection?

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28 04, 2013

Is There Such a Thing as Customer Service for Social Media?

By |2017-03-03T12:07:01-05:00April 28th, 2013|Categories: Blog, Social Media Marketing|Tags: , , , , , , |0 Comments

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Social media and customer service

Yes, Social Media is the ‘next hot thing’ for your company. However, like any other marketing strategy, it must be capable of bringing in customers, and you must be able to measure its effectiveness. Check out this Forbes article on social media and customer service.

Don’t get fooled into thinking that web traffic ‘likes and followers’ will bring you in customers.  Popularity and being liked is one thing, being trustworthy and believable is another thing. Both are at the base of bringing in customers. I’m talking about your ability to  influence someone’s decision-making process.  In order for a customer to want to buy from you, you must be trustworthy and believable. All of these things—web traffic, followers and likes to have nothing to do with your ability to build a connection to the customer.

Building connections falls within the realm of customer service. Knowing your customer also falls under customer service. If you don’t take care of your customers, Facebook will not save you.

Social media is not a panacea for your company. If you’re going to have an effective strategy, you must have one person who is focused on building your social media campaign.

The purpose of social media is not to send out advertisements. Its purpose is to provide a place for you to connect with the customer. Connecting and building relationships is a skill; if you’re not good at this is your brick and mortar role, it’s unlikely you will be effective at social media. This is why I tell business owners that anyone, including your 14-year-old nephew can build a Facebook page, but can he build a marketing strategy.  Your company must be presenting more than a page for people to connect with.

You need to tie your marketing and social media strategies together. Determine how you will integrate your social media  strategies and your landing pages. It can be a special offer that must be redeemed in 24 hours or something similar. Restaurants, including my personal favorite, Buca di Beppo, do this regularly.I received an offer for a free dessert on my birthday and the coupon had to be redeemed within one day.

Once you have an offer,  create a landing tied to the offer so you can tell how many people have  downloaded your coupon. This way, you’ll   know if anyone is taking you up on your offer. Isolating the effects of Facebook or Twitter, for example, on a landing page optimized for the audience your company has on these social-networking sites will quickly tell you if you are converting clicks to prospects.

Decide which social media strategies are best for your company and your goals. Twitter is quickly paced and provides a way to do direct messaging. Facebook’s fan pages are for companies that want to show their human side to the customer. If you’re a customer service based company, Facebook gives you a place to connect with your customers. It also works well for those who have a strong following. You will have to determine which one works best for you.

Google Analytics can get you real-time results of strategies using social media. Once you’ve decided which platform to use, it’s time to measure the results. Google Analytics is a free service that will measure your landing-page performance.

None of these strategies will be effective unless you  add content to your site. You must continue to write blogs, offer timely advice or anything that is valuable to your customer. Not sure what they want to hear, then ask them. Paying it forward has never been  more important.

Try various strategies to see if your campaigns are leading to conversions. Remember, connect with and talking with your customers is customer service. It’s important to know if what you’re doing to connect is making a difference.  If it doesn’t matter to the customer why bother to do it?

 

Lisbeth helps businesses build loyal relationships with their customers through social media marketing and customer service training. Her book, Red Hot Customer Service, can be purchased through her web site. www.Lisbethcalandrino.com.

 

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11 08, 2012

Building Loyalty And Social Media, It’s Not That Easy. How About Google + Pages?

By |2017-03-03T12:07:05-05:00August 11th, 2012|Categories: Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |1 Comment

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This is it!

It used to be pretty easy to build loyalty. Give  customers rewards, promotions and points and you’d  own them. Not so much anymore.

For years the airlines built loyalty using frequent flyer programs. One might argue that they don’t really reward passengers for loyalty, they reward them for airline segments. It might be smarter to reward customers based on the amount of money they spend, if airlines did, they would know who’s really profitable. The way it is now, no one feels very special and it doesn’t matter how much you spend. With free seats being an “endangered species” loyalty is really tough.

These days everyone gives points  including the Goodwill Store. Because everyone gives points,  no one  really stands out.

With the multi–dimensional digital world, customers are fragmented in many more places,  and they’re not so easy to find. The Internet gives customers lots of places to  hang out and hide.

Once you find them, what do you do to  build loyalty? You build communities.

Social media is on your side but most businesses need to step up their game. A few Facebook posts,  a Tweet now and then and a blog written in 2008 won’t do it. How about a look at Google + pages?

Communities show customers “love.”

The key to building loyalty is building  customer intimacy. To do this you must be  consistent with your social media and involving yourself in your customer’s lives. Playing  games with customers is one way to engage but are you really getting to know them by playing Farmville? The other problem is that many of you are really “psycho” about how much time your staff spend on line. I would say, “get over it” and give your staff the right on line tools.

Those that spend time building their online customer connections will win customer loyalty. (By the way, the link is to FedEx.)

Why not create your own community and your own game? Everyone won’t play but the ones that do play are definitely fans. Once you’ve engaged them, you can connect.

Give your customers a platform to connect to you.

Customer Review Survey 2012 show a positive shift in consumer trust and appreciation of online reviews. Customer surveyed said they trust online review as much as personal recommendations while 52% that positive online reviews make them ore likely to use a local business. Customers trust other customer opinions. Ask yourself, what are we doing to get online customer reviews?

Make customers delighted.

Bad service can inflict more damages that ever. Customers receiving  bad service used to  tell their friends, now they tell the world. Studies suggest that only about 6% of dissatisfied customers actually complain which means businesses don’t know who’s unhappy.

Know who’s complaining and why. Customer service seems to be something that businesses call a “cost” and it’s something they would rather not do. Businesses don’t see a connection between customer service and the bottom.

Can you get it to your customers instantly?

  I can get all kinds of answers on my I Phone. I can find the nearest restaurant,  a movie, or  how far I have to walk to the gas station. I can find  or bellman or neighborhood know-it-all to tell me the name of the best restaurants.Actually my favorite apps are Tunein Radio, where I can listen to any station in the world and iTriage. ITriage helped one afternoon when my next door neighbor’s little girl was burned. It found the nearest “burn” hot line which really help us out.

Build your own online community.

Get busy building a community with  Google+ Pages. Google + Pages will allow you to create a page about your brand and your business. Check out Google + Pages for business and how you can connect. Google + also has a little known feature called “Ripples. ” Ripples is a analytic tool which will help you know who’s sharing your content. Here is a video on Ripples.

Check out Google Circles for community building.

This link will explain how Google + Pages will help your  Search Engine Optimization. What could be better than hanging out with Google?

Lisbeth Calandrino works with businesses showing them how to build loyal relationships. She does this through Social Media Marketing and Customer Service/ Sales Training . To have her speak at your business, she can be reached through Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com or 518.495.5380.

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30 12, 2011

What’s Going on With Retail?

By |2017-03-03T12:07:07-05:00December 30th, 2011|Categories: Advertising, Blog, Customer Satisfaction, Customer Service, Economy, Entrepreneurs, Reaching the Consumer|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |2 Comments

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People seem to be out shopping and the retail news seems to be positive. Could it really be true? I decided to call , Rebecca Marion Flach, Vice President of Membership and Communication for the Retail Council of New York State.

As Vice President of Membership and Communication for the Retail Council, exactly what do you do?

I’m in charge of all internal and external communication that supports the Council’s government relations, sales and marketing and membership functions. I’m also in charge of new membership benefit programs and services for the association.

Exactly what is happening in the retail sector, is business looking up?

We had a brisk holiday season and it appears sales grew in the 2-3% range over 2010. Our members gave the season an “A-” letter grade as part of the Council’s Holiday Sales Watch. This is all good news given the state of the economy.

What does this mean for 2012? It’s tough to say although economists are pointing to slow growth next year. Unemployment is down. The stock market is rallying. Gas prices have dropped. All of these factors and many others play a role in retail sales. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for steady improvement next year. 

How do you get your information?

My colleagues and I constantly talk with members to get the pulse of retail. How is business? What trends are members seeing? What new ideas are they implementing in their stores?

The Council also surveys its members during the holiday season. We just wrapped up the 2011 Holiday Sales Watch, which consists of one mail survey and three telephone surveys we conduct between mid-September and the week after Christmas. The mail survey measures our members predictions for the upcoming holiday season, The telephone surveys begin after Black Friday Weekend to gauge what actually happened in member stores at critical points in the season.

Rebecca. I remember when I was in the retail business we always had excuses for why customers did or did not show up. It was either too cold for them to come out,  or  so nice they decided to play golf or work in the garden.

Is there such a thing as  “good” and  “marginal ones retailers?”

The Council only reports what our members tell us is happening in retail and I wouldn’t be so bold as to try to discern the difference between a good and marginal merchant. Our members are the true experts and I’m here to support them. That being said, I’ve learned over the years from members that knowing your customer and treating them like family go a long way toward success in retail.

Successful retailers constantly survey their customers to find out what products and services interest them and what they’re willing to pay for it.  I don’t mean they send mail surveys or call their customers to collect this information (although they could). It’s asking simple questions while customers are in the store or just making observations. You have to know what your customer is thinking and what is influencing their thought process.

I’ve also learned that service makes or breaks the independent merchant. Service is what distinguishes small businesses from their larger competitors and can attract or deter shoppers from coming back. As one of our Hudson Valley member always says, “Treat your customers like family.”

How is technology affecting retailers?                                                                                               

For the last two or three years we have been talking about the use of social media including Twitter, Facebook, and Google Places. Many of our members have started to build Facebook pages and are encouraging their customers to post opinions as well as talk about their products.

Those members that use social media regularly are starting to see a difference in their referrals and customers. It takes time to stay connected but this is the new platform where the consumer is communicating with businesses and other customers. In addition, customers get information about products and reviews from each other so it’s increasingly important to monitor what’s being said about your business online.

In addition to social media, mobile technology is revolutionizing retail. QR Codes are becoming very popular ways to direct customers with smart phones to more information on a product or service. Foursquare and other check-in applications give retailers some fantastic opportunities to communicate with customers. Couponing sites might make a good awareness building tool for some merchants. The options are endless, but the struggle for the small business owner is finding the time to learn about and implement these tools.

 

Are there other events that are influencing retail?

Small Business Saturday, sponsored by American Express the Saturday after Thanksgiving had a major impact this year. This was just the second year for this event, but some of our members reported customer interest and increased foot traffic as a result.

Our independent merchants tell us Black Friday is a Big Box Store event and I think it was ingenious to create a holiday designed to promote small business. It brought attention to the contributions made by small businesses to our communities and encouraged a “buy local and small” mentality that lasted far beyond November 26.

We had members who capitalized on the free publicity Small Business Saturday generated by offering special in-store promotions, featuring “Made in America” products or talking about their business’ role in the community (job creation, history, etc.)

Rebecca I can only think that Small Business Saturday can only get better as we have a few years under our belt. Retailers who took advantage of it these past years will probably have some great ideas how to make it have more impact on their business.

What about the Wall Street protests? Good Morning America noted that this is starting to have an effect on consumers.

The Wall Street Protests also seem to have encouraged many consumers to reexamine how they spend their money and where. The protests against “big banks” and “big corporations” has brought new energy to independent retail much like Small Business Saturday did. Some of our members told us they had the best holiday season they can remember from a resurgence of interest in supporting local businesses.

 

You mentioned community teamwork; how would you define this?

We are hearing from our members that consumers have reawakened to shopping locally, and we’re also learning of retailers’ willingness to work together to promote each other’s businesses in a way I haven’t noticed in the past. Business owners seem more willing to cross promote with neighboring businesses or businesses with a natural tie-in.

I’ve talked to members who are sharing brochures and coupons with neighboring businesses, hosting joint events and co-branding marketing materials. It’s a great way to spread the word about these local businesses, help them develop new customers and foster a sense of community.

It certainly is good to get some other opinions from the world of retail. I hope that this continues and we continue to see growth. Maybe Rebecca will revisit us in a few months with an update.  

 

10 Tips for Revving Up Your Business for the New Year

Based on my conversation with Rebecca, here are some ideas to explore for implementation in your business in 2012.

1.      First, have an open mind. Start thinking, what are others doing that are bringing in customers? Are these good ideas for my business? Should I be joining with other retailers, sharing coupons and inviting them to share in events?

2.      Think community. Who do I know that I could “pair up with” and have an event? Is it a restaurant, caterer, jewelry store or the local candy maker?  What type of event could we hold? Can we swap coupons or give out gift cards advertising each other’s stores? How will “being green” help your community and are you doing your part?

3.      Think about what’s cutting into my customer’s spending. If food purchasing is taking a bite out of their budget how about giving grocery coupons or partnering with a grocery store? I remember when we were in business; food was always a good gift during the holiday season. We used to give out coupons of different values based on how much the customer spent. Giving away turkeys was always a big hit.

4.      Know your customer as well as you know yourself. Many retailers are afraid to ask for email addresses or if the customer is on Facebook, they feel like they’re being intrusive. How will you get know them better if you don’t find a way to keep in touch?

5.      Get involved with local activities and don’t forget Small Business Saturday.  It’s not too early to start thinking about next year, how you can market to your customers and what can you do better? Talk with other business on your block or in your neighborhood, how can you all join forces?

6.      Get moving with social media. If you’re doing social media explore how you can do it better and take advantage of new programs. Don’t forget Four Square and other programs which offer free gifts to customers. I have a friend how used Groupon and had so much success they were overwhelmed. They couldn’t believe the response.

7.      Develop your “small business hat.” Continue to talk about how shopping in small locally owned businesses and how it can help your community.

8.