It's not often that any of us experiences a teachable moment while on hold with a big-box retailer, but I did last night. And it's a lesson every marketer should be reminded of.
First, let me rewind to earlier in the day when I was talking with a client who wanted to update her On Hold Messaging production. Now, I'm an apostle of engagement when it comes to the on hold experience. I want to create marketing content that informs, entertains, and provides callers with value. It goes against my instincts to eliminate useful messages about products and services and replace them with music and an occasional “thank you for calling.” But that's what my client wanted.
The client's application is a customer service hotline at a municipal utility where, fairly recently, very long hold times have become common. (Many more people are calling to get help with an overdue bill or a pending service shutoff.) The hotline is only open during the business day, so callers are often at work themselves. Many have said that, while on hold, they don't keep the phone to their ear. Instead, they hit the speakerphone button and listen aloud while continuing their work.
In an office setting, it's more acceptable to monitor a long wait with music playing over a speakerphone. So, the content that used to be appropriate for my client was now falling on deaf ears. The callers needed something else.
The switch to music on hold made sense, but that idea really hit home for me later in the day during my call to that retailer’s customer service hotline. I've called before and know that they only play music on hold. As I was placed on hold, I instinctively reached for the speakerphone button to monitor the call aloud while I continued to work at my desk.
Here's the lesson for marketers: to create the most effective messaging, remember - it's not about what you want to say, it's about what the customer needs to hear. Usually callers would like to know how your product or service can solve their problems or make their life better in some other way, but sometimes they only need a little soothing music to pass the time.
When you start by thinking about the needs of the people on the other side of the website, TV screen, or telephone, you'll be ready to create marketing content that's best suited for your audience.
Written by Guest Blogger Bruce Bryan / B2C Enterprises
Tuesday, 27 November 2012 19:15
A combination of personal and business reasons took me to California recently. While out there I had two experiences on either end of the "expense" spectrum that drove home a "how-you-go-to-market" basic I have long advised my clients to follow.
I spent $5 (or so) to eat an In & Out Burger, fries and vanilla milkshake. I spent considerably more to stay at a really nice resort as a small part of my visit to L.A. Both were amazing encounters and each destination knew exactly how to create the right experience.
The line at the drive-thru for the world-famous burger was around the corner. Really! All the way around the block. But it was worth the wait. The people were friendly, the food amazing, and the experience everything I had heard it would be.
Shutters (the resort) created an oasis on the ocean in Santa Monica, and they thought of everything. There was even a stamped envelope with custom stationery to send your own comments to the CEO. Not one element was left to chance at this incredible hotel.
The lesson: Determine why you stand out. Execute your plan. Know what you are. Be the best at what you do.
Whether you run a $5 burger stand or a 5-star resort, the key is identifying how you are unique.
Too many organizations try to be too many things to too many people. Figure out what you are, pay attention to caring for your customers, patients or clients, and then find ways to do those things even better. It's simple. That doesn't necessarily mean it's easy.
Guest blogger Bruce Bryan is the founder and President of B2C Enterprises, an award-winning advertising, marketing and business development firm based in Roanoke, Virginia. He's also a member of the BusinessVoice Board of Governors. To reach him, call 540/904-1229 or visit www.b2cEnterprises.com for more information.
No one expects to read Pulitzer Prize-winning literature on the solar-powered traffic signs near construction zones, but still, the picture on the left makes an argument for writing clearly and efficiently:
Why would the sign guy invent an abbreviation for the word "prepared" when the phrase "Prepare to stop" is easier to understand at a glance?
Is your marketing copy as direct as it could be, or are you taking readers on a longer, more challenging route to your point?
Whether driving by your billboard at 55 miles per hour or scanning your website, your audience often needs to see your information quickly. Make sure your content is efficient and easy to understand, or be "prepa" to lose their attention.
For the third straight year, millions of Americans will show their focused support for local stores and service providers by shopping small. We urge you to join them.
Last November, we posted a piece on our blog called “The Birth of a New Christmas Tradition.” Please read it here. When you do, you’ll find many suggestions on how you can spend your holiday shopping dollars locally. And trust me: it’ll get you thinking of even more ways you can give unique gifts and support your hometown merchants.
Yes, online shopping is very convenient, but a website and a warehouse half a country away don't create jobs for your neighbors, or pump tax dollars into your town’s coffers, or sponsor your child’s Little League team.
Look here for more details on Small Business Saturday. Shop small this Saturday, November 24th – and whenever you can.
For years, we’ve not only promoted the idea of using marketing channels to distribute valuable information your audience can apply, we’ve done it ourselves – in our Marketing Tips, our Marketing Minute Videos, and right here on our blog.
Maybe that’s why we love these online ads for the University of Phoenix so much.
Billed as “Resume Tips” and “Interview Tips,” these 15 and 30-second videos provide great advice on how to land a job. But why do they make great advertising? Here are four reasons:
1) They’re Relevant - With the national unemployment rate at 7.9% in October, there aren’t many messages these days that are more relatable or timely.
2) They Reinforce UP’s Message Without a Hard Sell - Successfully preparing people for careers is a category the University of Phoenix wants to own. And while the only reference to UP is a logo at the very end of each video, the connection between the school and its mission comes across loud and clear - precisely because of the short amount of time the videos spend on “them” and how much time is committed to helping you, the job seeker.
3) They’re Easily Shared - Most of us know someone who needs a job or wants a better job. Simply by sending a link to the University of Phoenix YouTube channel we can share this valuable information with a friend or loved one.
4) They’re Easy to Digest - The copy gets to the point. No fluff. Just a handy takeaway. Combined with the simple (but fun) stick-figure animation, the videos are a pleasure to watch.
True, we lost the presidential election – again – but we won several MarCom Awards on Election Day.
The MarCom Awards are presented each year to honor creative excellence among those who are involved in the concept, writing and design of print, visual, audio and web materials and programs.
The BusinessVoice / WebArt teams were honored with a Platinum MarCom Award for our "Metric Metals & You" video campaign. Created for use on the Parker Steel website, the humorous videos are a salute to the educational films of the 1950s. (Watch episode 1 here and episode 2 here.)
For our recent work with Spirit Services we received two Gold MarCom Awards; one for their new website and one for their Facebook page. Both feature a fun retro look and irreverent copy.
We also received an Honorable Mention Award for the new website we designed and built for Buckeye Telesystem.
True, the MarCom Awards don't come with a large white house and a private jet, but we don't have to make nice with Congress, so we figure we got the better deal.
I just returned from a trip to Disney World with my family, including two adorable nieces, ages five and three.
We went to Mickey's Halloween Party, the Halloween parade and, of course, breakfast with the princesses. The girls are very into the princesses and that was the best part of the trip for them. The best part for me was watching an interaction between Princess Jasmine and my five-year-old niece, Alexa, which began at a "Meet the Princesses" event.
Jasmine asked the girls if they had seen Abu the monkey. She said that Abu had jumped off the magic carpet on their ride over, and that she and Aladdin were looking all over for him. Princess Jasmine asked the girls to keep an eye out for him, which they vowed to do with wide-eyed wonder.
A few hours later, Alexa met Snow White. Alexa fervently asked Snow White if she had seen Jasmine's monkey. Snow White said she saw Abu down in the workshop with the dwarves and that she would let Princess Jasmine know her monkey was safe. Alexa beamed with pride at having helped!
The next morning at the Princess Breakfast, we ran into Princess Jasmine again. She was being played by a different actress this time, but Alexa didn't notice. When Princess Jasmine moved on to greet other families, Alexa pulled on my arm and said in a panicked voice, "I forgot to tell her Snow White saw the monkey!" I called Princess Jasmine back to our table and Alexa told her that Snow White saw Abu in the dwarves' workshop.
Without missing a beat the (new) Princess Jasmine said, "Oh my! Thank you! I forgot Abu likes to go down to the workshop and eat the apples. I'll have to thank Snow White when I see her again!" Alexa broke into an ear-to-ear grin and hugged Princess Jasmine. I was overcome with happiness at her joy.
It would have been an impressive moment had it been the same Jasmine on both days, but the fact that there was no breakdown in the story between two different Jasmines was incredible. Disney World is called the Happiest Place on Earth for a reason. Everyone who works there helps create a wonderful experience for your family, whether they are playing the part of a beloved princess, serving your meal, or keeping the parks clean.
Disney's business is making memories, but that's something we can all do for our customers. CRM systems give you the ability to record and reference personal details, such as birthdays and anniversaries, but you can do that and more without technology, too. Simply listening - truly listening - to your customers, remembering their stories, their needs, their pains, their goals, and making them an ongoing part of your conversation will cement relationships.
What can you do to create memories for your customers? How can you develop an emotional anchor they can return to again and again?
The billboard on the left is for MGM Grand Casino in Detroit. It went up shortly after the Hollywood Casino opened here in Toledo, just 60 miles south of the MGM.
The billboard shows not only MGM's awareness of a new competitor in the area, but how they now differentiate their casino in the Toledo market by creating additional value – or at least the illusion of it.
Now, travelling to their Detroit casino isn't just a chance to gamble, it's more of a getaway; a change of scenery; a mini-vacation. With only five words - Don't Just Play, Get Away - they've portrayed what could be perceived as a negative - an hour's drive - as a positive: a more complete experience.
Stay aware of changing forces in the markets you serve. New or improved competitors, an evolving economy, the aging of your audience: all present opportunities for you to market your company and its "added value" in new ways, and keep your brand fresh and relevant.
Have you had enough of the robocalls for a while? Those are the pre-recorded phone messages that candidates and other political groups use to reach potential voters.
During a campaign season, robocalls are delivered with an appalling lack of sensitivity to voters' private time. They invade our personal space and interrupt our family time, so it's no wonder that every person on Earth despises these calls with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns.
The calls must be effective - at least on some level - since political marketers continue to employ them, but at what cost to their own cause and community?
Regardless of whether they work or not, robocalls and endless attack ads further alienate the electorate - the candidates' "customers." Would you knowingly use marketing tools, techniques and content that not only alienate, but anger the people to whom you're trying to sell a product or idea?
I hope that the negativity these tactics breed inspires you to look the other way, and that, when faced with the choice, you'll always vote for marketing styles and strategies that celebrate the creative, the unique, the forward-thinking, the art, the truth, and the ways that you, your staff and whatever it is that you make can generate solutions and have a positive difference in the lives of your customers.
"Okay, here's me planting an idea in your head: I say to you, 'Don't think about elephants.' What are you thinking about?"
Those are a few lines from "Inception," a 2010 film about planting ideas. Navigating a shifting dreamscape, the characters brave car chases, explosions and firefights to get a simple thought to naturally form in one man's mind. The movie relies on science-fiction to demonstrate this process, but how is it really done? How do you get your customers to think your idea is their idea?
Products and services are often dressed up to appeal to customers, but that approach focuses on telling customers what to do rather than helping them reach a buying decision on their own. A business may tell their customers to think about elephants, but, when their attention drifts to Dumbo, customers can trace the thought back to the business. Customers know it's not their idea.
This is about more than the power of suggestion. It's about presenting your idea, product or service in such a way that sparks a need in the customer's mind. Get your buyer to internalize the buying process instead of you manufacturing it for them.
Start with the simplest version of your idea. Strip away everything that's unnecessary about your product: the colors, the add-ons, you name it. Take away all of the distractions, and what do you have? A solution.
A car isn't just a car; it's personal freedom. A beer isn't just a beer; it's a good time with friends. Your product isn't just a product. It's the fulfillment of a need or a desire.
Again, start with the simplest version of the idea and craft your marketing plan around it. Then, you won't have to tell your customers what to do. They'll tell themselves. All you have to do is be ready to deliver what they need when they come to you with their idea.