Three Basic Elements of Successful Customer Engagement

talking chairs individualityEarlier this week we talked about the difference between social media marketing and content marketing. What they share at their core is the idea of authentic customer engagement.

So what is the essence of successful customer engagement?

First you must to listen with genuine interest to your customer. You have to hear what their concerns, issues and goals are.

Second, you must understand how to help them solve their concerns with what you have to offer which is relevant to them.

Third, you must respond to them in an authentic and transparent way supporting their need for individual attention, additional information or the move to the next step of the process.

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3 Reasons to be Hopeful for Better Business in 2012

For me 2011 was a tumultuous year and I am happy to move on. As I thought about why I was more optimistic about 2012, three things came to mind that have nothing to do with whether or not the economy improves (although we all hope it does).

  1. A fresh perspective. Most of us have had some down time during the holidays, and whenever we spend time away from the day to day, we can examine what we’re doing in new ways. Even if the only change for you is the New Year itself, take this opportunity to evaluate your work for an opportunity to bring a fresh perspective or to try a new strategy or tactic. If you’ve been dreaming of something different, this could be the time to activate that dream.

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New Realities of Email Marketing

For smart marketers, the days of indiscriminate batch and blast emails are long gone.

Today's email list builders are not just interested in building the largest list but are gathering names and segmenting them based on individual preferences, behavior or where the name belongs in the sales cycle. Quality outranks quantity.

Savvy consumers are selective about who they give their email address to, and most often are giving it in return for something they value: a free report, white paper, eBook, discount coupons, etc.

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3 New Rules of Branding

Traditional branding focused on push-out messaging via advertising, marketing and sales. In the traditional model, the publisher or the manufacturer controlled the conversation around the brand.

No more.

Here are 3 new rules of branding:

It's relationships not transactions.

The power position has shifted to the customer.

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Are you Confident in Your Delivery System? The New York Times Shouldn’t Be

After many Sunday morning phone calls, the NY Times has lost a customer. We used to be happy customers, and we still want to have the Times delivered. But that apparently is the problem.

Over the last five years we have been a daily delivery customer; a 4 -day a week customer (Thurs-Sunday); and we've tried unsuccessfully to be a Sunday only customer.

We're finally giving up.

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Review: 18 Minutes by Peter Bregman

The subtitle of this book is "Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done." Although Bregman outlines an 18-minute-a-day time management plan, this book is about  much more than just getting things done.

In fact, the author detours from the usual perspective of time management books right from the beginning. He maintains that it is impossible to do everything and that a rewarding life is the result is of choosing the right things that help us achieve our goals. 

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“Old Marketing” v. “New Marketing”

dollar-key.jpgFirst published September 14, 2008

Traditional marketing is still very much with us in K-12 publishing. Because of the institutional nature of our market, we still operate in “push” mode with direct mail, outbound sales, either in person or by phone, conferences, etc. For most K-12 publishers, sending occasional customer emails and offering online webinars and demos is as Web 2.0 as it gets. For educational publishers, it is still very much about filling the sales funnel moving prospects to customers through a multi-step process.

But even in educational publishing, this traditional model is giving way to something new. In traditional sales, the company was in charge of moving the process forward, and in the Web 2.0 world, the new driver is the customer.

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4 Guiding Principles for Navigating Uncertain Times


First published October 16, 2008

Even the financial pundits have admitted they do not know when the market lurching will end and national and international markets will settle down. With the intercession of the government, there is a general belief that things will settle down at some point. It is the consensus view, however, that we will end somewhere higher than we are now, but nowhere near where we began this unprecedented fall.

The general advice financial managers have been giving their clients for the last two weeks is good advice for everyone – hold steady. For business people, it is an opportunity to reexamine your core business, re-identify your strengths, your unique selling proposition, and your key messages. Going back to the basics is smart business in any economy but certainly in a challenged one.

Here are some things to consider:
1. Be strategic – Review goals and objectives, budgets, and staff resources with a critical eye. Companies sometimes cut marketing and promotion budgets in a knee jerk reaction to market downturns, and it’s easy to see these line items as “expendable.” But they’re usually not. Marketing and promotion expenditures are investments in your long-term health as a company. Examine what is working; what is not working, and what can be postponed; but understand the long-term consequences of these decisions.

2. Be clear – Once you have made realistic adjustments to your goals and objectives, make sure that you are communicating this to all your constituencies inside and outside the company. In challenging times, it is even more critical that your entire team work together to minimize wasted time and effort. Remember that communicating your key messages inside your company is equally important to communicating them externally.

3. Be strong – As the business owner or manager, it is your job to make the tough decisions. You have an obligation to the company that supersedes any obligation to individuals. It is unlikely that you will now have all the resources you had planned, so weigh your decisions carefully and re-read #1.

4. Be available – You need to be visible and available to customers and employees. Everyone is rattled. Many of us have never seen volatile fluctuations like this before. The causes are complex and the solutions are multi-faceted. Do not trivialize concerns or respond with facile reassurances. Be direct and authentic.

This is an opportunity to have full, rich conversations with your team about your mission and how to accomplish it. Revisit the basics of your business, particularly sales and marketing. Listen to your customers.  Find and read business blogs by people who may have a wider market view than you do like Lee Wilson who weighs in on how this financial crisis affects K-12 publishing. Challenge your thinking by reading people like Seth Godin , Chris Brogan, and Joe Wikert. There are many experienced pros sharing their perspectives online. Sort through what is meaningful to you and what isn't. Come back and share what you've found.

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Review: Collapse of Distinction

 First published June 22, 2009 

“People are craving, even coveting, distinction. Being different, standing out, getting noticed in a sea of sameness is vital to an organization’s sustained growth and profitability…businesses that stand out ‘provide a service of perceived higher value to buyers.”

This is the basic premise of Collapse of Distinction by Scott McKain. Each of us can list on one hand the times and companies that have delivered to us a customer experience that was memorable or distinctive. Why is that? The author argues that it is because businesses, for the most part, are focused on achieving their sales goals and not on creating value for the customer. “It is overwhelming how many companies focus on not losing to the competition rather than on delivering what customers really want.”

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