3 Speed Dating Tips for Marketers

The dating world is a scary and complicated place, but in an effort to find love, some singles try the speed dating route. Because, hey, at least if it’s going to be a bad date, it’ll only last three minutes, right? But when you think about it long enough, you realize marketing is a lot like speed dating. Scared yet?

The dating world is a scary and complicated place, full of poorly written online profiles, ghosting after an awkward first date and friends kindly dropping off copies of “He’s Just Not That Into You.”

Gilmore Girls Paris Geller Speed Dating
Oh Paris … you scare all the boys.

In an effort to find love, some singles even try the speed dating route, because hey, at least if it’s going to be a bad date, it’ll only last three minutes, right? And when you think about it long enough, you realize marketing is a lot like speed dating. Scared yet?

Consumers are busy, and their attention spans are shrinking. According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, the average attention span in the US in 2015 was 8.25 seconds. Suddenly that three-minute speed-dating date seems like a lifetime to make a connection with a customer.Marketing Speed Dating

But never fear, while I’ve never braved the wilds of speed dating, I have seen it represented rather comically in film and television. And it’s not too much of a stretch to connect what works well in speed dating with what works well in marketing.

Fake It til You Make it1. Don’t “fake it ’til you make it.” People can sniff out a fake in an instant. So, just as it’s wise to not tell a potential date you’re a doctor with three sports cars — when in reality you’re a cubicle drone with a beat up `94 Nissan Sentra — don’t tell a prospective customer your brand is something it really isn’t, just because you think it sounds cool.

Remember what Ron Johnson did to JCPenney? He thought applying Apple-esque store-styling and dumping customers’ beloved discounts was the way to bring the retailer into the future. To make it cool. Unfortunately it was all offbrand.

I couldn’t say it better than this quote from Forbes:

Boutiques/streets, wi-fi, juice bars with smoothies and coffee; no long-term customer of JCP cares about all that crap. JCP got away from what it did best.

Sound of Music Confidence2. Confidence is attractive. Just like in romance, no consumer wants a product or service that’s marketed meekly. There’s a reason the Old Spice Man campaign was both a viral success — garnering almost 105 million views on YouTube and a 300 percent increase of traffic to oldspice.com (opens as a PDF) — as well as a sale success.

Old Spice, a Proctor + Gamble company, targeted both men and women with the campaign. For women, it offered the fantasy of a gorgeous man, and the possibility of their current beaus smelling as good as him; and for men, it offered the opportunity to become the Old Spice Man. P&G took a legacy product, infused it with confidence and sex appeal, and made it relevant to a younger generation.

But your marketing message doesn’t have to be as sexy as the Old Spice Man to be confident. Don’t believe me? Check out this Hubspot post that details five brilliant marketing campaigns for boring products.

Using LinkedIn for Sales Leads: Getting More Response

Getting more response from sales prospects. It’s what we need. LinkedIn is helpful for lead identification and qualification but getting response from decision makers (on the approach) remains difficult. Using LinkedIn for sales leads can be tough. “Warming up” prospects using social media is a must and can be a game changer. By combining lead targeting with a practical listening system you (or your team) will increase email and voice mail response rates by becoming super-relevant. Here are quick tips on making it happen for you.

Getting more response from sales prospects. It’s what we need. LinkedIn is helpful for lead identification and qualification but getting response from decision makers (on the approach) remains difficult. Using LinkedIn for sales leads can be tough.

“Warming up” prospects using social media is a must and can be a game changer. By combining lead targeting with a practical listening system, you (or your team) will increase email and voice mail response rates by becoming super-relevant. Here are quick tips on making it happen for you.

Streams of Insights
Are you taking advantage of the “streams of insight” your prospects are putting out onto social platforms? You should be. These are the ways to breakthrough to grab the attention of prospects and hold it. These are ways to figure out what matters to prospects in real time.

Every day, prospects are telegraphing their fears, frustrations, ambitions, hopes and goals on these platforms. Probably a lot like you do!

Last year, I profiled how business process outsourcing provider, ADP is netting leads with Twitter and LinkedIn. I’ve also profiled sales rep Ed Worthington, who’s figured out how to get copier sales leads. Each of these success stories has a common theme: Avoiding “going in cold.”

Let’s return to that example and vividly examine how you can get moving on “going in warm” (if not hot) with new prospects.

It all starts with using LinkedIn for sales leads in combination with a practical listening element.

Step 1: Include Listening in Qualification Research
When organizing your research on a given prospect be sure to include a “listening” field in your contact management system. This will allow you to keep things like Twitter handles, LinkedIn groups (that your prospect participates in), Google+ profiles and other “social streams of insight” in one place.

Be sure to take advantage of “streams of insight” where your prospects are telegraphing their fears, frustrations, ambitions, hopes and goals. This includes LinkedIn updates and Groups they participate in. These are the places where prospects signal opportunities to savvy sales reps.

So, when organizing your research on prospects, be sure to include a list of their social streams.

Step 2: Monitor the Streams
I know, I know. No kidding, Molander. Well, are you doing it? Are you using free tools like Hootsuite, Google Alerts, TweetDeck, Twitter search or any number of others? Take advantage of the organizational power of these tools by setting up a group (or Twitter uses “lists”) within your current set-up. Monitor your prospects. Call your grouping “Prospect streams.” Do it today!

Step 3: Listen for Demand
Many of us listen on social media for vanity purposes or to monitor discussions about a topic. Yet we can also listen for demand for our products and services. Are you?

Are you using Twitter search to discover prospects using phrases like “recommend a new supplier” or “switch to a new _____ provider” (prospects asking their network for a recommendation) … or “I need a new ____.”

These kinds of tactics sound obvious and they are. Are you (or your team) monitoring for these kinds of expressions among known and unknown prospects? Are you listening for near and long-term demand in social streams?

I monitor my active prospects across Twitter, LinkedIn, personal and professional blogs and Google+ streams.

Where to Start: Knowing What to Listen For
In most cases sellers already know what to be listening for. Good sellers know how customers express themselves on issues related to what they sell. The rest is simply organizing a listening approach and methodically “checking in” with the streams you’ve put in place—monitoring for insightful, actionable thoughts or expressions.

Start by writing down all the ways you already know customers express themselves. Think in terms of how they express thoughts and feelings about how they buy, consume, use, re-purchase or upgrade from what you sell. Think in terms of sound bytes or keyword phrases.

Then get to work being patient. In most cases it takes time to find the diamonds in the rough. Be diligent and patient as you continue to mine prospects’ social streams.

Good luck!

Turn Your Customers Into Your Best Salespeople

Happy customers are your brand’s best salespeople. Today’s social media platforms make it easier than ever for brand advocates to share their enthusiasm with hundreds (if not thousands) of colleagues and other prospects in their online networks. The power given to consumers is real. It’s created a sort of forced collaboration between marketers and their customers — with industry bloggers, analysts and journalists chiming in too. Empower customers and your marketplace and you win. Try to control it and you may incite a mutiny.

Happy customers are your brand’s best salespeople. Today’s social media platforms make it easier than ever for brand advocates to share their enthusiasm with hundreds (if not thousands) of colleagues and other prospects in their online networks. The power given to consumers is real. It’s created a sort of forced collaboration between marketers and their customers — with industry bloggers, analysts and journalists chiming in too. Empower customers and your marketplace and you win. Try to control it and you may incite a mutiny.

Enabling satisfied customers to spread the word takes a combination of the right messaging and some careful listening to ensure you don’t lose out on valuable opportunities for positive online word-of-mouth. Empower your brand advocates by devoting attention to these four specific areas:

1. A great customer experience. Certain customers will go out of their way to praise a high-quality product, helpful customer service or even a compelling interaction with a brand. (This holds true whether they’re B-to-C or B-to-B customers.) Naturally, the first step is to offer a great product or service. Then start paying attention to who’s talking about your brand, what they’re saying and where they’re saying it. Social media listening tools will help you locate enthusiastic customers online. Make them prime targets for engagement.

Don’t wait for the active few, go after the silent majority, too. The primary reason most customers don’t share good news about brands they do business with is because they’re never asked. After every appropriate interaction — and without being creepy or becoming a nag — invite your customers to participate in product reviews, experience surveys, customer forums or just plain telephone calls as part of “executive outreach sessions.” Use the channel that the customer used, whether it’s SMS, social, email or retail.

2. Loyalty. Customers willing to share their positive experiences with your brand are well worth your time and resources. Once you’ve found these happy customers, invest in them to create a loyal following. You can’t underestimate the power of simply thanking customers for their business.

In addition, keep your database up to date and integrated with your segmentation and campaign management tools. Update customer profiles to include recognition of brand advocacy and nurture loyalty with special acknowledgments, promotions and discounts. It’s critical to keep these interactions relevant, personalized and well-timed. In other words, don’t spam. Just because you can email a brand advocate on her birthday, before holidays and whenever her favorite item is on sale doesn’t mean your messages will be welcome.

Track response rates over time so you can optimize message frequency and timing. While many of your loyal customers will be happy to receive lots of notices from you, never assume their interest. One of our retail clients recently found that a whopping 10 percent of their most loyal customers had marked their email messages as spam in the past year. When the retailer reached out to these customers via other channels to find out why, it learned that the email messages were too frequent and not specific to the interests of those customers. Don’t risk upsetting or annoying your customers to the point of complaints. Listen to the response data you have and back off when necessary.

3. A platform to promote. Help your brand advocates find their voice by giving them ample opportunity to share their feelings online. They’re multichannel, so think across channels too. Engage them via email, your website, Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. Make sure they feel welcome to talk about their positive customer experiences online.

Is your company blog comment friendly? Do you provide a timely response to mentions of your brand on Twitter? Are you using clickstream and email data to inform your personas and segmentation? Does your website provide easy access to contact information for customer service and social media accounts? Present a seamless approach across all platforms — both traditional and digital — so that your messaging is consistent and credible.

4. Pull your head out of the sand. There are dozens of examples every month of brands that tried to ignore negative social commentary or got “shamed” for suppressing negative comments on Facebook. Nestle, for example, battled with Greenpeace supporters who voiced their concerns over the company’s use of palm oil. Rather than listening and engaging with concerned consumers, Nestle created a wealth of bad PR for itself by deleting posts and snapping back at fans. Similarly, Pfizer agitated consumers by deleting Facebook posts that suggested one of its viral video campaigns may be sexist.

If you’re going to listen and respond to social data, you must accept and engage with consumers who don’t agree with your positions or didn’t have a good brand experience. Like all battles of public opinion, the trick is to empower your advocates to respond to your detractors while providing a fact-based, reasonable platform for thoughtful discussion.

Brand advocates have always played the role of valuable, cost-effective salespeople. Now their voices can be amplified even more via social media networks. With a little encouragement and support, today’s brand advocates can become a powerful sales force. Put marketing automation and integration tools to work and you’ll be able to find your satisfied customers, engage with them and delight them even more with offers and promotions that resonate and cultivate deeper brand loyalty.

Craig Greenfield’s Redefining Performance Marketing: 3 Ways to Turn Earned Media Insights Into Paid and Owned/Organic Gold

It’s quickly becoming common knowledge that earned media outlets, if properly mined, can provide unique insights into what resonates most with marketers’ audiences. With the proper tools and techniques, marketers can begin to answer questions such as the following:

It’s quickly becoming common knowledge that earned media outlets, if properly mined, can provide unique insights into what resonates most with marketers’ audiences. With the proper tools and techniques, marketers can begin to answer questions such as the following:

  • Who’s talking about your brand?
  • How’s your audience discussing your brand?
  • What themes, topics and links permeate the conversation?
  • What are users querying about your brand or the vertical in general?
  • What’s the phraseology they’re using?

Simple collection methods include using social listening tools to understand customer conversations on social sites; managing profile pages on Facebook and/or Twitter to gain customer feedback; and mining query data to get a better idea of customer intent. However, to turn earned media insights into paid and owned/organic gold, brands need practical tactics for leveraging and applying the information.

Moving from insights to action

Earned media can create more effective paid media campaigns through the use of social listening tools to build out keywords for a client’s paid search campaign. Performics has done this for a number of clients, specifically in the apparel vertical. After a retailer’s recent product launch, Performics used its proprietary social listening tool to identify top themes that its client’s customers were discussing on social sites.

Performics focused analysis on brand-related conversations, and then filtered those posts by topic to only view conversations around the new product line. The retailer was able to identify all relevant phrases and terms, such as “military jacket” and “bf blazer,” that customers associated with its new product launch.

To assess the value of these newly identified phrases/terms, the retailer took into account the sentiment, frequency and reach of each. Performics’ listening tool assigns sentiment — positive, negative and/or neutral — to every customer post collected. Any customer post or tweet, for example, that included the term “military jacket” was assigned a sentiment value. The posts referring to “military jacket” were generally positive; therefore, that term was assigned positive sentiment.

The social listening tool also helps evaluate the influence of those selected phrases/terms. The retailer was able to assess the value of “military jacket” compared to other terms by understanding the number of customers using this term (frequency) and the number of followers exposed to the term (reach). The tool helped to quickly identify the most valuable phrases/terms relevant to the brand and product that were appearing within customer conversations. The phrases/terms then became the baseline for building out additional keywords for the new product launch.

Varied application of insights

How can marketers apply information gained from earned media? Three suggestions to get started include the following:

  • keyword buildout for search campaigns (paid and organic);
  • content campaign development; and
  • creative development.

As more consumers take to social sites to converse, performance marketers should continually be mindful of ways to make insight from these conversations actionable.