Category : 360 Direct

18Sep
When should you fire your marketing agency?When to FIRE Your Marketing Agency

When to FIRE Your Marketing Agency

Marketing agencies can take a business to the next level. They should help your business grow and achieve goals. You know that, that’s why you hired them to begin with! But if your agency seems to be hindering you more than helping you, it’s time to rethink your relationship with an agency. Using a marketing agency requires a trusting relationship between the company and agency. While a marketing agency may use tactics that are new to your company – after all, you hired them because they are marketing experts and you wanted to expand your efforts! – you should be very involved and feel included in all efforts. Here are some signs you need to look elsewhere.

They are out of touch with your needs.

An agency should be responsive to your needs. While there should be a general plan, it should be flexible within the scope of your working relationship with them. The agency should be flexible enough to adapt to your goals and needs, not using a one-size-fits-all template of services. If you request specific efforts or marketing campaigns, and they refuse to alter or consider other opportunities or strategies, you need someone who better understands your goals.

The materials or services they provide for you should be mutually agreed upon. If an agency is providing materials you don’t need or can’t use, find someone who will create what you need! The assets made for you should work – what good is a website if it doesn’t work the way you need it to? Any reputable agency will be upfront with you if what you are asking is not something they can provide. Even if it is something they cannot provide in house, they should be able to point you in the right direction or let you know the limitations of what you are asking for.

You have no idea what they are doing.

Any agency should be able to give you a schedule of when to expect various tasks to be done, whether that’s a press release, blog, video, website build, sell sheet, or postcard design. If they can’t commit to a timeframe, or if deadlines comes and go and the only thing you get are excuses, it’s time to reconsider. An agency should keep you informed of how projects are coming along, and once deadlines are agreed on they should be met.

While agencies are not employees working in house, where you have the option of strolling to their desk and asking a question, they should be accessible within reason. You should be able to call or send an email and receive a response within a reasonable amount of time, including project updates, answers to questions, or time/cost estimates. If you can’t reach your agency and don’t receive regular contact or updates from them, that is a red flag.

You are worried about losing everything.

If you are unhappy but are sticking around because you don’t have the log in information for your accounts, or because you think you’ll lose your website if you change companies, that’s a surefire reason to leave. That problem does not resolve itself, and it only gets worse with time.

If this is your situation, read your agreement carefully to see who “owns” the website or other creative assets. Unfortunately, there will be few options if your contract states they retain ownership. But that doesn’t mean you should stay with a company who is holding your company’s assets hostage! Look for an agency that gives you complete ownership, and realize that you are going to have to rebuild many assets. Before you tell your current agency you are thinking of leaving, start speaking confidentially to other agencies or coders to determine how long it will take to remake those assets, always ensuring that you will retain ownership once they are complete. They will help you proceed with minimal disruption to your business.

How does your situation stack up?

If any of this sounds familiar, it’s time to revisit your options! Your company deserves better marketing, and you deserve someone you work well with. The company/agency relationship is critical for marketing success. Finding a good fit is essential.

It’s for these reasons and more that 360 Direct doesn’t use long term contracts or retainers – instead we prove our worth every month for you. We also guarantee you retain ownership and access to all your accounts – including your website! After all, this is a relationship, not a hostage situation. We believe in transparency on all levels. You can count on us to be upfront, even if that means we can’t fill your needs. To start a conversation about whether or not we could be the agency for you, contact us!

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29Jun
Why Marketing Design Matters ImageWhy Marketing Design Matters

Why Marketing Design Matters

It’s easy to neglect updating the marketing design in your materials. Many times, companies use the same design for their marketing materials and just plug in updated specs and product information.

Over time, it’s easy to fall into complacency and lose that critical eye towards pieces that have been working for you. After all, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” Many companies are satisfied as long as the information is correct. Unfortunately, that’s not enough! There are a lot of companies competing for your prospective customers’ attention, and with our shrinking attention spans, individuals are becoming accustomed to making snap judgments. Your product information could be saying you are leading your industry, but your marketing materials may be telling a different story.

Print Materials

Most B2B companies understand the continued need for print materials in their marketing mix, but even those marketing staples have evolved to incorporate updated marketing design. People now spend less time than ever digesting what’s in front of them – about seven seconds! Gone are the days when individuals sit and read large chunks of text they are handed or receive in the mail. It’s all about bullet points, sub headers, and an appealing design.

If you are taking your updated information and plugging it into the same brochure, sell sheet, or postcard template your company has been using for years, your materials likely aren’t as effective as they could be. People have complained about the amount of advertising they are exposed to since 1759, and the advertising clutter continues to grow annually. There are two ways to increase your odds of prospective clients paying attention.

  1. Get to the point. Companies have to assume their materials are only given a cursory glance before a reader decides to put it aside or to delve in and read more. Give your readers the information they are looking for as quickly as possible in a straightforward manner. Provide easy options for them to get more in-depth information, should the want it. Your layout should be easy to follow; colors and font should be crisp and clear.
  2. Get creative. How many postcards and flyers do decision makers receive in year? A month? A day? Make sure yours are standing out and not getting lost in the shuffle. This doesn’t mean gimmicky. Some well-placed images, a less common size, or a memorable and fitting cutout or insert could be all it takes.

Even with a robust print material campaign, most prospective clients will check you out online before calling to make an appointment or purchase. Which leads us to…

Websites

Even if you don’t know anything about the technical aspects of websites, you know an outdated website when you use one. It’s hard to navigate, it’s difficult to use on phones, and overall takes a long time to find specific information when you have a question. Companies that continue to have a website that is not “mobile friendly” are immediately creating an unnecessary barrier for prospective clients, since 42% of B2B decision makers use their mobile device for research.

In addition to the mobile friendly aspect, load times and content layout dramatically impact how long a prospective customer stays on your site. In fact, if your load time is more than three seconds, many people could leave your site before ever seeing the content. (Remember that 7 second attention span?) Of course, outdated information is sure to be noticed. As prospective customers gain information on their options, they are sure to check you out online. Make sure they like what they see! Current marketing design practices for websites include ensuring your site is responsive and contains relevant images and videos to further engage prospective clients.

Many companies find themselves stuck with a webmaster who built their site but doesn’t do great updates or are unwilling to keep up with best practices. The task of building a new site can seem daunting and even impossible. That said, it is well worth it to invest in a responsive website that will be easy to update and make changes to in the future. The internet will continue to evolve; if you are already behind, it will only get worse until you make that investment.

Regardless of what industry you are in, the design of your marketing materials matters. Your marketing design is as important as the machinery or materials you use for your products. You wouldn’t go years without considering an update or evaluating best practices, and the same should be said for your marketing efforts.

If you are concerned your marketing materials don’t align with today’s best practices, contact us for a free discovery appointment, where we will evaluate your current materials looking for opportunities – with no commitment from you.

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13Jun
How Businesses Can Find ContentHow Businesses Can Find Content

How Businesses Can Find Content

Savvy businesses understand the need for current, relevant content for their followers. Whether it’s blog posts, email blasts, or social media posts, businesses need content to present to their followers and keep them engaged and interested in the brand. Developing a content strategy, on the other hand, is often easier said than done. The first hurdle is determining what is newsworthy to your followers, and how to find the news within your organization.

You can’t write about everything, every time.

If each email you send looks like a rundown on all the products or services you offer, there’s some room to grow. Anyone can look at your website to get that information! If the information in your emails remains the same, what is the incentive to continue opening the emails and clicking on the content? The same can be said for social media channels. If the information being presented is more like catalog listings, there is little reason to continue to actively follow your organization. That’s not what you want!

These followers have already made the emotional investment to like your page, sign up for your email, or click on your blog. They are asking for deeper engagement. Don’t give them a catalog listing, give them something to dig into! Narrow your focus and provide rich content on a specific product or news item.

How do you find your focus?

Your company likely has several offerings or areas of focus. How do you choose what to focus on? You want to choose what is most relevant to your company and the industry. A newsworthy item could be a new product or service you are introducing. Time sensitive information, like a new award or an upcoming trade show you are attending, is also an example of something you want to ensure your followers hear about.

Of course, you may not have breaking news on a weekly or monthly basis. That doesn’t mean you have nothing to talk about, though! This is a chance to highlight your company’s offerings with content that differentiates you from your competition. Don’t regurgitate information readily available on your website, brochure, or catalog. Add value to your content.

If you have great relationships with your clients, write a case-study that showcases an instance where you really solved a major business pain for them. This kind of piece can require some legwork and elbow grease, but can really move perspective clients. Work with your client and get their permission before embarking on this path. Ensure that you will not share any proprietary information, trade secrets, or other competitive knowledge. Instead, focus on what problem you solve for them. Is their process faster now? Their turnaround time shorter? Are you saving them money, making their products safer?

Are your products doing good in the community? Create a human interest piece by focusing on how your products benefit the community. If your products or services don’t lend themselves to any feel-good stories, what about the rest of your company? If you have any community programs or service projects, let the public know what you are doing!

Lastly, highlight an existing product or service. The key here is to offer more information than what people would be able to read in your brochure or catalog. Companies can use this opportunity to address any common misconceptions, FAQs, or to focus on largely unknown or underutilized features.

When selecting the product or service to highlight, there are a few things to keep in mind.

DO

  • Select an area of your company that you excel in.
  • Choose a line that you want to expand in, and have the capacity to do so.
  • Focus on a product or service with a good ROI for your company.

DON’T

  • Pick a product or service you are discontinuing or trying to get out of. (Unless you are highlighting a sale!)
  • Write about a product or service that you don’t have the capacity to expand in.
  • Highlight something with a poor ROI for your company. If your content drives new business, you want it to be business you want.

Strategize when to release your content.

Once you have content, decide when to release it. Some content is evergreen, but if your product has a cyclical lifestyle, it’s important to think about the timing of your release.

Releasing your content during a high volume time, when your product or service is used the most, will hit followers at a time when they are actively thinking about your product more and experiencing a business pain. You’ll be more likely to grab their attention, but less likely to make an immediate sale, since they will already have providers in place for that cycle. On the other hand, if you have a feel for when your target audience is reassessing their processes and considering new providers, that’s a great time to have deeper engagement with them via a well-thought piece of content.

Quality content is not a continuous sales pitch, regurgitating information from your website, brochure, and catalogs, and you don’t necessarily need to offer sales to get your target audience’s attention. Your content strategy should use what your organization is already doing to generate relevant, engaging content that will keep your followers interested in your company.  360 Direct is a Milwaukee and Chicago Marketing Company.  We can help you execute these strategies!

 

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31May
email marketingEmail Marketing’s Place in a B2B Industry

Email Marketing’s Place in a B2B Industry

Email marketing has been a popular choice for years now, known as an inexpensive option to directly reach consumers. Emails consistently have the highest ROI of all marketing channels. But are they still working? And are they more fit for B2C companies?

The answers are, “Yes, they are still working, and they are just as fit for B2B companies!” In fact, B2B companies have a higher Open Rate and CTR than B2C companies when it comes to email. Let’s take a look at a few reasons your B2B company should employ a robust email marketing campaign.

For one, emails can help establish your business as a forward-thinking thought leader in your industry. Presenting new, helpful information to decision makers will keep you at the top of their mind when they encounter a business pain that needs a solution you already provide.

Second of all, emails have a higher rate of engagement than social media. This could be because people who sign up for your email list are already more engaged in your company than those that click “like” on social media, or it could be because people are in the mindset for reading more and deeper connections when they sit down with their email than when they casually scroll through social media channels. Regardless, emails has proved in multiple studies to be more effective than social media. Not to mention, many of your client and contacts may not be connected to you on social media!

Lastly, emails are a great way to stay in contact with clients and interested parties with long buying cycles. You are well aware that B2B sales are relationship based. Nurture and grow that relationship by providing interesting and relevant information for them in between sales calls.

So now that we’ve covered why B2B companies should send emails, what should be in them?

Email Marketing in a B2B IndustryEmail marketing is a great tool for both B2C and B2B businesses, but those emails are very different in terms of content.

A B2C email typically has a call to make a purchase, but B2B emails are best when they present new information. B2B emails should focus on being educational and informative, encouraging recipients to “Learn More” rather than “Buy More!”

This is a great opportunity for B2B companies to reach decision makers and educate them about problems they may not know about and introduce them to the solutions you provide. Rather than list your products, show them an in-depth case study so they can see how your company can affect change and solve their business pain. It’s also the perfect place to announce new products or services you offer, trade shows you will be attending, and other developments that are relevant to your clients and show that your company is constantly growing and developing.

Even when content is rich, detailed, and informative, don’t bog down the email by making it too lengthy. Post your case study, whitepaper, or product announcement on your website. The email should contain enough information for your recipient to determine if it’s information they want to learn more about, and then provide a link for them to do just that – on the company website, of course.

As with all email marketing campaigns, only send an email when you have something interesting to tell you recipients! For many B2B companies, an email a month is frequent enough. As always, monitoring your results can guide the decision making process for adjusting any marketing campaign to achieve best results.

While there are some differences in B2C and B2B campaigns, there are similarities as well.

Segmenting your audience to get the most pertinent information to your recipients realizes the best results, particularly for larger companies with several focuses. Otherwise, companies run the risk of recipients getting into the mindset that emails from you are not always relevant or helpful.

As always, only use email addresses that people have willingly given and opted-in to receive correspondence and give a clear opt-out option in emails. If your company is getting ready to add email marketing to your marketing mix, ensure recipients are told in their first email what your emails will be used for and how frequently they can expect communication.

Companies that take the time to develop great emails will reap the rewards in better client relationships and a great ROI. If you aren’t currently investing in email marketing, it’s never to late too begin and see how your business benefits.

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16Mar
360 View of ManufacturingThe 360 View of Why Manufacturing Matters

The 360 View of Why Manufacturing Matters

Wisconsin is highly impacted by the manufacturing industry, with many residents employed by manufacturing companies. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Wisconsin stands out as one of few states where manufacturing has remained the biggest employer” (1). Events such as Manufacturing Matters, which took place in February, is just one example of how manufacturing is regularly highlighted as a significant part of Wisconsin’s economy. 360 Direct also recognizes how important manufacturing is to this area, and strives to serve the manufacturing industry on a daily basis.

This is why manufacturing matters to 360 Direct:

At 360 Direct, we know that the manufacturing industry needs assistance with regards to marketing. As a company in the Greater Milwaukee area, we understand how imperative Wisconsin’s manufacturing sector is to our economy. We also recognize that the Wisconsin manufacturing sector has allowed marketing to sit stagnate with outdated tactics and not engaging the new rules of marketing due to long established regional business relationships and practices that until now, have always seemed to be enough to keep manufacturers growing. Our goal is to help manufacturers become more marketable with current business, prospective business, and the new crop of skilled workers coming out of trade schools and instructional programs, utilizing digital and traditional tools to get there.

When it comes to the manufacturing industry, 360 Direct stands apart from other marketing agencies in regards to how we can help them. Having worked with numerous manufacturing companies before, we have a first hand knowledge and understanding of the industry. 360 Direct also offers education and understanding on strategy and tactical development, to keep our customers in the know. Providing insider knowledge to manufacturers helps them understand why we encourage the use of a specific tactic, which can be just as important as implementing the tactic itself. Additionally, our years of experience in the local manufacturing sector have allowed us to develop tried and tested methods that enhance the reputation and reach of manufacturing companies in Wisconsin. We offer a service that is specifically tooled to help manufacturers profit. Our work is valuable to them because its flexibility generates a custom solution with custom results.

For those not yet ready to work with an agency, 360 Direct does have some quick advice for manufacturing companies considering updating their marketing. First of all, develop strategy before activating tactics. Knowing the what, who, when, where, and why before the how will make activating tactics easier, less stressful, and provide insights into the target audience they may not have known existed. Developing strategy will also help avoid those panic modes of producing a tactic that has poor messaging and may not have been leveraged in the most appropriate of ways. Also, develop a digital presence. This involves becoming active on social media, which has targeted application amongst a wide swath of age groups, and has become increasingly essential for expanding business in growing leads, creating partnerships, and generating one’s own talent pipeline. A digital presence involves having a fully responsive and mobile friendly website that acts as a central hub for any marketing efforts. Not having a website in this day and age incredibly harms a brands reputation, even and especially in “old school” industries like manufacturing. Start with these basic steps and you will be on the right path to improving your marketing.

If you are interested in additional information about growing your manufacturing business, expanding the talent pipeline, and filling the skills gap, contact 360 Direct at 262-289-9210 or fill out our contact form on the contact tab above.

 

Sources:

  1. http://archive.jsonline.com/business/as-us-creates-low-wage-jobs-wisconsin-clings-to-manufacturing-b99348747z1-277269841.html

 

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10Mar
Generation ZWhat’s next – Generation Z – Post Millennial Marketing

What’s next – Generation Z – Post Millennial Marketing

We’ve all heard about Millennials and how to market to them but what comes next? Well it’s Generation Z, also known as the iGeneration, the Founders, or the Plurals1. Anyway you name them, marketers and advertisers are gearing up to monopolize them. In this article, we will discuss who they are and what they will expect from businesses and brands.

Depending on the source, Gen Z’ers are born between 1993, and anywhere up to 2005 to the present day. They make up roughly 25% of the U.S. Population, making them a larger community than the Baby Boomers or Millennials. As Gen Z members are still largely kids and adolescents, many of their adult characteristics are yet to be vetted. Early indications are that they are increasingly self-aware, self-reliant, innovative, and goal-oriented. They also appear to be more pragmatic than their Millennial predecessors, but we’ll have to wait and see if that plays out as they age2. One major difference they have from their predecessors is that they do not remember a time without social media. As a result, they have a tendency to live their lives online and via their smartphones.

A 2014 study Generation Z Goes to College found that Generation Z students self-identify as being loyal, compassionate, thoughtful, open-minded, responsible, and determined. How they see their Generation Z peers is quite different from their own self-identity. They view their peers as competitive, spontaneous, adventuresome, and curious; all characteristics that they do not see readily in themselves.

The future of brands and businesses will depend on the next generation’s habits, characteristics, and goals; and we need to get ahead of the shift or risk the loss of employees and profits. It may be beneficial for companies to magnify their company culture and highlight their employees’ social responsibility. As in the case with Millennials, connecting their jobs to social impact will be a priority for Gen Zs.

Seemiller and Grace’s study of Generation Z revealed trends and behaviors that are influencing Generation Z’s attitudes about life, education and work3.

Here are some of their critical findings about the newer, next generation:

  • They are motivated by making a difference for others and not so much by public recognition.
  • They prefer to “do” rather than “lead” when working in groups
  • As much as they love their technology, they prefer face-to-face communication.
  • They lean left on social issues and center to right on financial issues
  • They use social media, but prefer to share on Instagram or Snapchat and follow on Facebook and Twitter. Although, Facebook is considered to be for “older” people.
  • To learn something new, they “YouTube it” before they “Google it.”
  • They care passionately about issues related to education, employment and racial equality.

These type of consumers stay loyal to the brands they shop, and stick with them throughout their life. In the long term, this is a jackpot for businesses, since they receive long term revenue benefits. They are more accepting of differences and are quick to eliminate those brands that do not foster an inclusive community. They have no expectation to be perfect. Rather than degrading others for their differences, they will be more accepting of natural beauty vs “photoshopped” perfection and won’t be loyal to brands and businesses that adhere to more traditional images. They would rather be unique and real.

Now that we know what makes them tick, how do we advertise and market to them?

To be successful, brands will need to utilize campaigns that embrace differences and remove the branding or logo as the featured image. The goal must be to enhance the personal character of the consumer, not the brand, and allow them to arrange the product or service to create whatever unique image they want to present4.

An example of a brand advertising correctly to the Plurals is Taco Bell. According to an article written by AdAge5, Melissa Friebe, VP-Taco Bell Insights Lab, began asking what it could do for the next generation. “It took some digging, and we found that similar themes are manifesting themselves in different ways.”

“We’re always in beta and trying things out,” said Ms. Friebe. She said that approach resonates with the way young people, who were born into technology, experience things. “[Our consumers] are used to living in this world where people are constantly trying something, seeing if it works and making changes.”

Bottom line is they will be brand loyal. If you reach them now they will stick around for years.


Sources:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generation_Z
  2. http://genhq.com/igen-gen-z-generation-z-centennials-info/
  3. http://sigep.org/sigepjournal/meet-generation-z/
  4. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/george-beall/8-key-differences-between_b_12814200.html
  5. http://adage.com/article/cmo-strategy/informed-millennial-misses-brands-retool-gen-z/298641/
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25Jan
railway-1758208_12805 Steps in Creating a Company Culture for All Generations

5 Steps in Creating a Company Culture for All Generations

“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” or “They’re the what’s in it for me generation” are phrases we’ve all heard in the workplace. Typically heard standing around the Keurig (water-cooler is so Gen X) usually followed by an eye roll and grumble from all, “They just don’t get it.”

Troubles can arise from different mind sets and communication styles of employees from different generations. It is crucial to effectively address and levy those differences in values and expectations of each generation in order to create a positive company culture.

Reasonably we can create 5 simple strategies to address these differences as to not disadvantage certain workers or broadly stereotype an individual.

1. Support a Communication Style that Avoids Stereotypes – Adapt an open communication style in the ways each person prefers. Some prefer face-to-face communication. While others foster technology driven communications such as emailing or texting. How they use the internet varies as well through generations1. Allow peers to be curious enough to uncover the truth when conflicts arise instead of going with their initial interpretations.

 

2. Encourage Open Dialogue – Instead of moaning about how each generation in the workplace seems to be so questionable and different, leverage the energy and blend the combined talents and strengths across each group. Take a proactive way of thinking, facilitate mentoring between different aged employees to encourage more cross-generational interaction.

 

3. Learn From One Another – Appreciating and understanding that there is a great deal to learn from each other is an incredible benefit to all. Learn through and from everyone. Each generation has something to contribute and younger can learn from older2. Same as the older can learn from the younger.

 

 

 

4. Exercise Mission-Based Hiring – Hire people who are enthusiastic about their mission. Employers that do often find generational conflict less of an issue. Employees can navigate topics with a better understanding and find more success, because they share a common creed.

 

 

5. Have Clear Expectations – With multiple generations in the workforce, employers have a much larger set of skills and strengths from which to draw. Encourage each generation and each person to operate at their own best level. Accepting and understanding different roles and then designing a process that incorporates each role conveys a trust to its employees. Make sure the emphasis is on what workers are producing and how everyone can contribute to the success of the team.

 

 

 

As Stephen Covey once brilliantly said, “An empowered organization is one in which individuals have the knowledge, skill, desire, and opportunity to personally succeed in a way that leads to collective organizational success.3” Should you need help in building a culture that bridges the generational divide feel free to contact 360 Direct to assess how we can help.


Sources:
1. http://www.pewinternet.org/2010/12/16/generations-2010/
2. http://institutionaldiversityblog.com/how-generational-diversity-can-transform-organizational-culture/
3. https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/s/stephen_covey.html

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19Oct
website design for manufacturersDressing your Website for Success

Dressing your Website for Success

“Dress to impress.” “Dress for success.” “Always look your best.”

There are various sayings such as these that emphasize the importance of looking your absolute best in order to make a positive first impression. Whether it be an important job interview, a romantic date, or your first day of school, a first impression is crucial to how someone thinks of you. Similar to a job interview, your website will make a strong first impression on it’s viewers, but instead of wearing a nice outfit, your website must have an updated layout, theme, and color scheme.

An updated website can mean multiple things to your customers in the manufacturing industry. Most importantly, it means that your company cares about its image and always wants to look its best. If you care about your company, then future customers will see that and want to work with your company. Another bonus to dressing your website for success is that an updated website allows viewers to easily navigate throughout various pages and links. By having easy-to-use navigation features, your potential clients will have a positive experience, wanting them to return to your website, leading to potential business. Lastly, an updated website can ultimately give off the impression to potential clients that you are modern in the manufacturing world and ready to change according to what is the best for your company. Clients want to work with a manufacturing company that is always moving forward.

For more information on how to keep your website current, contact 360 Direct at 262-289-9210 or fill out our contact form here.

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6Oct
social-media-in-manufacturing4 Social Media Sites for Manufacturers

4 Social Media Sites for Manufacturers

As most of us know, the manufacturing industry can have, shall we say, a bit of an old school approach to marketing and the digital tools available. Many manufacturing execs do not see the need for social media channels to enhance the searchability of their brand and create qualified inbound leads that makes the sales process easier. Unknown corners of the Internet can seem a bit scary, and most prefer to stick to the old tactics they know best.

Now all of this does have to start with a website. For sake of conversation, we’ll assume you have a killer website already created.

Think of your website as Central Station and social media channels as the tracks leading in and out of the station. People coming and going and taking in as much as they can in short bursts. We’ll take a look at some of the key social media channels and the importance of using them for the manufacturing sector.

1. Twitter

Twitter is likely the hardest social media channel to convey its importance to manufacturers. “Why do I need Twitter?” “I don’t know how to use Twitter, why should I bother?” “Twitter is for the younger generation, not us.” First and foremost, Twitter is not just for the younger generation. More and more companies are finding usefulness in Twitter, no matter the age of the manager utilizing the program. Sales teams use it to quickly build what I would call an online roladex to call on later when the time is right. With Twitter, the fire can build so fast that a company can expose their message exponentially in a matter of minutes. The more eyes you have on your message, the more opportunity to sell your product/service to the right target with minimal effort.

2. LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a necessity for manufacturers for 2 reasons:

  1. It’s another great avenue for a digital presence. LinkedIn profiles are showing up high in search results without having to do any extra work, other than building a profile and maintaining steady posts. LinkedIn does the rest.
  2. Recruitment. LinkedIn is a resource that many young professionals looking for jobs are using as a tool to find companies of interest, and to make sure they see something interesting coming from the company. Manufacturers know that it is difficult to find good employees that are qualified or trainable. A good LinkedIn presence will help weed out those that may not be the right fit.

3. Facebook

Facebook helps bring humanity to a relatively sterile looking industry. The messages are light and the imagery is friendly. Again, like LinkedIn, Facebook will help in search results and those looking for a manufacturing job. Like Google Places, it also provides location and contact information in an accessible fashion for those trying to look you up. Searchers also consider an active company time-line to signal the credibility and success of a business.

4. Google+ and Google Places

We are all aware at this point that Google loves itself. So it’s simply a necessary step to be on the platforms Google owns. Google+ will help in search rankings and Google Places is what’s seen in the map search. Both are important and should be used simultaneously. These profiles greatly help drive relevancy for Google users as well, meaning, Google wants to be sure that their users are getting the right search results. A lot of it is location specific, so having those profiles again helps get you the right customers to your website or social sites.

There are many more social sites that can be utilized, such as, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, Flickr, etc. It is highly important to talk to your marketing professional about the right social media channels to be on. Not every one of the channels is right for every company. Your target audience is out there, both buyers and potential employees; it’s using the right tool to engage them that gets your inbound marketing engine up and running.

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26Jan
baking for your businessBaking for Your Business

Baking for Your Business

So you’re at the checkout of a large retailer, and your cashier doesn’t bother to acknowledge you as you approach. Instead, he continues his conversation with his co-worker at the next register, throwing in a “Here ya go” as he hands you your bag and receipt.

Or maybe you’re having a bad day and the phone rings. You pick it up, spew a quick greeting, and find a customer with another “stupid” question. As your customer is talking, you’re rolling your eyes and making gestures as if to say, “Get on with it.” Then, as you answer that question for the 20th time that day, your voice sounds monotonous, bored, and annoyed.

With customer service as one of the most complained-about aspects of business and such a significant component of your overall marketing, improving the client-company relationship is a necessity. I witness good customer service at work on a daily basis and do my best to provide it with all of my customer interactions. After all, since I expect it, I should provide it as well.

But still I wonder… Why is it so difficult to give and receive great customer experiences sometimes? It shouldn’t be; we all know how we like to be treated ourselves, so what makes it so difficult to give others the same treatment? Why do we continue to return to places that don’t treat us well enough? Have we grown tolerant of such poor practices that sub-par customer service has become the norm?

It bothered me that, in the past, I had not always given my customers the best experience I could, and conversely, that I had not always had a good one when I was the customer. So I went to my customer service kitchen and concocted a recipe to help me improve. What came out was some sweet customer service, sure to make everyone happy. The recipe is pretty much universal, so please, try it for yourself.

In a large bowl, start with a smile. Sound cheesy? Maybe a little simple or cliché?  Perhaps. But going off personal experience, this is not so easy to do. Make smiling the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning. Smile at everyone you meet. Smile when you answer the phone—it really is noticeable in your voice. This simple gesture can go a long way. It will make your customers feel welcome, appreciated, and often it will disarm them. It’s tough to be upset with someone who looks and sounds happy to see or hear you.

Sprinkle in some compliments to co-workers. Whether directly involved or not, your team is also a big part of your customer experience. Tell Jane you like her earrings. Acknowledge (constructively) Bill’s haircut, or just wish everyone a genuine “Good morning.” This helps to set a positive tone for the workplace, and when your service team is happy, it’s easier for them to keep your customers happy.

Next, add a finely cured greeting. This is a multiple-step process. As you approach your customers, remember the first ingredient. Verbally welcome them. Introduce yourself. Get your customer’s name, repeat it, and remember it. Shake hands. There aren’t many people who wouldn’t like to be met like this, and it’s easy enough to do.

Stir in the details. Taking the time to make sure your customer understands your product, service, or situation helps in a few areas. It ensures everyone is on the same page, better informs the customer, and thus eliminates those easily avoidable hiccups and headaches that would otherwise arise.

Now blend in a genuine “thank you.” In my experience, this is all too often overlooked. Thanking clients for their business should be automatic, but these two words are not used enough in customer service today. Expressing a genuine “thank you” is another great way to let your clients know they are important to you.

Finally, toss in a pinch of observation time.  This is to make sure your employees are following this recipe for great customer service. Do this when they don’t know you’re looking, and you may be surprised at how different some of them treat your customers. Performing observations and offering feedback will help make sure your recipe is consistent.

Now, mix all these ingredients well and bake in your business. What comes out is a fantastic pan of customer service that moves patrons up the client ladder and keeps ‘em coming back for more.

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