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Monthly Archives: July 2013

Capture the Mindshare and the Market Share Will Follow

capture the mindshare final jacket(9)Seven “Mindshare Methods” to Maximum Brand Loyalty

by Libby Gill

ISBN 978-1-137-7851-7

 

 

To create a compelling brand, you have to capture more than just the market share, you have to capture the mindshare – that is, the heads, hearts, souls and unimpeachable trust of your customers. That’s what leads to long-term brand loyalty.

The Seven Mindshare Methods she cites are:

Clarify Your Customer Benefits: When describing your brand, be sure to focus on your customer benefits, not just your products or services. Use clear and compelling language and lead with your customers’ best interests, not your pedigree or technical specs. Remember, it’s what you can do for them and not vice versa.

Commit to Providing Exceptional Value: Confirm your commitment to value and customer success. Keep the big picture top-of-mind, but remember that every action you take on behalf of your client, no matter how seemingly insignificant, is an opportunity to provide additional value to enhance their overall experience. Blow their minds and they’ll keep coming back for more.

Connect at Every Possible Touch-point: It can take a dozen or more interactions – including emails, phone calls, newsletters or in-person meetings – before you begin to build a relationship with a prospect. If you think of this relationship-building process as a series of connective touch-points, you begin to see all the opportunities you have to deepen the relationship. Review and redesign your customer touch-points to make every interaction count.

Communicate with Total Confidence: Prepare, practice, and participate! Studies show that people who are extroverted, confident, or even assertive in the workplace have a competitive advantage over their more introverted peers (even when those peers are more talented). Come to meetings armed with critical information, industry updates, news headlines, and even sports scores so you can participate effectively. Sit in the front, dress appropriately, act as though you are worthy of attention – without being obnoxious – and you’ll get it.

Collaborate Openly with Clients and Colleagues: Information is the organizational life-blood on which decisions are made in every business. Except for confidential or proprietary data that can’t be shared, pass information readily both up and down the pipeline that can help others make timely decisions.  This doesn’t just mean sharing the facts, but also the nuances or “emotional truths” that you encounter

Compete with the Invisible Competition: Recognize, research, and analyze your competition so you can consistently outperform them. Go beyond the obvious direct competition – that is, companies whose offerings fill a similar need as yours. Identify the indirect competition, that is, anything that disrupts the buying process, like new technologies. But pay special attention to the invisible competition, including new challengers, competitive alliances, and even customer fear or inertia.

 

Contribute to the Community: Get involved in your community and actively support social causes that make sense for your business. Choose one or more charities that complement your brand. Contribute substantially and meaningfully with money, time and people. Donate products, pro-bono services, or other institutional or technological capabilities. Engage your management, staff, and employees to authentically support the goals and objectives of your chosen charitable organization.

 

About Libby Gill

libbyAn internationally recognized executive coach and branding expert with over 20 years of industry experience, Libby is the former head of communications and PR for Sony, Universal, and Turner Broadcasting. She is known as the “branding brain” behind the launch of the Dr. Phil Show. Her clients include ABC-Disney, Nike, PayPal, Warner Brothers, Wells Fargo, and many others.

 

Libby’s previous books include Traveling Hopefully: How to Lose Your Family Baggage and Jumpstart Your Life and award-winning You Unstuck: Mastering the New Rules of Risk-taking in Work and Life, which has been endorsed by business leaders including Zappos.com CEO Tony Hsieh and Dr. Ken Blanchard. A graduate of California State University at Long Beach with a degree in theatre, Libby has been a college instructor, a columnist for the Dallas Morning News, and a soap opera actress. She lives in Los Angeles, California and is the proud mother of two sons.

 

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The Most Fun You’ll Ever Have With A Desk Fan

mbg2_1It’s summer, the sun is out and the heat is rising. That can mean only one thing; desk fans are back on the tables and cooling the nation’s office workers.

Providing cold air is not the only thing that these beauties are capable of doing. They can relieve boredom in no end of ways. Here are just a few.

Styling Your Hair

Obviously this depends on the power of your fan, the stronger the better! You can grab your comb or hairbrush and a mirror and find your new style. If that’s not enough for you then why not try the Baywatch look and let the wind flow through that mane of yours and take a quick snap for your friend’s enjoyment!

The Baywatch look is just the tip of the iceberg, you can exchange pictures with your friends all day in all sorts of funny and amusing poses with the wind styling your hair for you!

Paper Toss

Once upon a time this was everyone’s favourite phone or iPod game, now you can play for real in your office. Set your fan up a fair distance from a bin and just chuck those screwed up documents and pages of doodles.

Why not get your mates involved and get them to change the speed of the fan for that added challenge? Who knows you might be crowned office champion with the highest score of the week. The possibilities for paper toss are limitless (almost).

Paper Planes

So your paper plane doesn’t fly very far. You’re stuck in the age before the jet and you don’t know how to get out of it. The answer is the humble desk fan.

You could (if you’re good at engineering) set your fan to boost the flight of your plane. Once you’ve cracked it, it won’t be long before you’re crowned office Wright brother.

If engineering really is your strong point, you could develop airmail for your office. Set them up in strategic locations, pop your note in the plane and fire it across the office to its desired recipient (just remember to blunt the end, your boss might not be impressed if the work force are blinded).

Hot Spot

It seems ironic to be calling your spot in the office the hotspot when your desk fan is whirring away but with the help of a desk fan you can make your desk the hottest property in the office.

The more fans you have the better. The aim is to make your office spot so cool that other people simply can’t stay away. It might be the best thing you’ve ever done…especially after that feeble attempt at small talk with your office crush at the water cooler last week. She’ll be over in no time when she discovers your desk is the place to chill.

There are of course many other ways to have fun with a desk fan and this time of year is perfect to discover them.

If you have any ideas for funny uses of fans then why not leave them below. Other people might be inspired by your fan-tastic thoughts!

Featured images:

Chris is the editor of a student tabloid and enjoys photography as well as sport. He recommends Alert Electrical for all your electrical needs.

 

 

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Is your website just a cute brochure, or do visitors know what to do when the get there?

I couldn’t have said it better:  answer your visitors question:  Why am I here?

:calltoaction19

by Seth Godin –

Approximately a million web years ago, I wrote a book about web design. The Big Red Fez was an exercise in shooting fish in a barrel. There was a vast and deep inventory of bad websites, sites that were not just unattractive, but ineffective as well.

The thesis of the book is that the web is a direct marketing medium, something that can be measured and a tool that works best when the person who builds the page has a point of view. Instead of a committee deciding everything that ought to be on the page and compromising at every step, an effective website is created by someone who knows what she wants the user to do.

Josh Davis and others wanted to know if, after more than a decade, my opinion has changed. After all, we now have video, social networks, high-speed connections, mobile devices…

If anything, the quantity of bad sites has increased, and the urgency of the problem has increased as well. As the web has become more important, there’s ever more pressure to have meetings, to obey the committee and to avoid alienating any person who visits (at the expense of delighting the many, or at least, the people you care about).

Without a doubt, there are far more complex elements to be worked with, more virality, more leverage available to anyone brave enough to build something online. But I stand with a series of questions that will expose the challenges of any website (and the problems of the organization that built it):

  • Who is this site for?
  • How did they find out about it?
  • What does the design remind them of?
  • What do you want them to do when they get here?
  • How will they decide to do that, and what promises do you make to cause that action?

The only reason to build a website is to change someone. If you can’t tell me the change and you can’t tell me the someone, then you’re wasting your time.

If you get all of this right, if you have a clear, concise point of view, then you get the chance to focus on virality, on social, on creating forward motion. But alas, virtually all organizational sites are narcissistic and (at the same time) afraid and incomplete.

Answer your visitor when he asks, “Why am I here?”

 

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4 Top Tools For Small Business Success

Portrait of a business manby Nadine Swayne –

Small business owners today face challenges that were unknown to entrepreneurs in the past. Today’s entrepreneurs must figure out how to ensure their success in a market that continues to grow and change. Fortunately for small business owners, new technology continues to become available that assists them in their entrepreneurial pursuits. Using this technology can help them succeed and bring new clients to their business every day.
1. Card Readers

Because today’s small business owners tend to be mobile throughout the day, it can be vital that they invest in technology that allows them never to miss out on a sale. When they cannot be tied down to a cash register, entrepreneurs can help customers and make money when they use a credit and debit card reader, such as Moblized for instance. This device can be attached to their cell phone and deduct money from a customer’s card. With this device, a business owner can be ready to help a customer at any time, as well as make a profit for his or her business.

2. Mobile Apps

Most cell phone users today have smartphones and rely heavily on their mobile devices to check the news, read email, and shop. As more people rely on smartphones, business owners realize that they can reach a wider client base when they create and release a mobile app for their business. Their app will allow clients to shop at their leisure and help them bring money into their business around-the-clock rather than during regular business hours. Mobile apps can be used for other purposes as well. If a business owner wants to let customers know about sales or offer coupons, he or she can do so through the business’s mobile app. Apps are often the primary way through which many business owners today communicate with their customers.

3. Social Media

Most people today also have an account on at least one social networking site. Companies of all sizes leap at the chance to advertise on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and other social media sites. Creating an account and engaging customers through social media helps entrepreneurs find out what their customers want and need. They can respond to customers’ complaints and questions. Customers likewise may view business owners as more human and approachable if they can interact with their favorite businesses online through social networking.

4. Blogs

Blogs are great for allowing business owners to have virtual conversations with their clients. They can introduce themselves to their customer base, talk about what goes on behind the scenes at the company and talk about their hopes for the future on their blog site. Customers love to follow the blogs of their favorite companies. Many clients feel like the company’s owners are their friends and people with whom they can relate. Entrepreneurs can also post pictures, links, and other information that they feel is valuable or interesting. Readers can be invited to comment on blog posts or ask questions. Blogs increase a business’s exposure to the public and attracts new customers to the small business.

Small business owners today should use the latest technology to ensure their success. They can increase their exposure and their profits by taking advantage of tools that were not available to business owners in the past. These tools can help them succeed and survive in today’s market.

Being an avid user of card readers enables Nadine Swayne to write this article. Many Internet tools, such as Moblized, offer the versatility of mobile business transactions that can help bring your company to new heights of success.

Photo credit:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/34091421@N07/3174790355/

 

 

Online Retail Is Booming And Reductions In Shipping Costs Can Save A Fortune.

amazon-warehouse-2 On the face of it, mail order and internet retail have much in common. However, the ease with which customers can make purchases online has meant that latter has had far more of an impact on the way we shop for goods than the former. While mail order businesses occupied a relatively small niche, e-commerce is now the norm with thousands of businesses dispatching products to their customers every single day.

Overheads and costs

But while online retailers benefit from having fewer overheads, there are still costs associated with this way of doing business. Chief among these are shipping related costs. Every purchase must be dispatched via post or courier and this costs money. However, it’s the same for every firm. The key is to carry out the task as efficiently as possible in order to steal an advantage.

Time is money

What takes up people’s time in a warehouse? Where time can be saved, so can money. A great deal of time is spent either packaging goods or keeping records and both processes can be accelerated with the right approach.

It is important to have the right tools at your disposal. In the case of packaging, this means appropriately sized bags and boxes which are easy to fill and seal. It might take five seconds to fill one type of packaging and 10 seconds to fill another. These are seemingly insignificant amounts of time, but extrapolate that to a full working day, week or year and an extraordinary amount of time can be saved. When people know what type of packaging to use, where to find it and how to secure it, goods will fly out of the warehouse and more will be achieved.

Record keeping is of course important, but if you take advantage of modern technology, time can be saved here too. Most courier firms offer software which will allow you to print your own dispatch labels and you can then put together a system where products are associated with their tracking codes. As soon as you have printed a label, the data is recorded automatically.

Loading the van

At the end of the working day, the packages will be collected. A great deal of time can be saved here as well. If you are loading packages onto a van or wagon individually, this will be a laborious, time-consuming task. However, if you invest in appropriate equipment, it can be completed in a jiffy.

The exact equipment you need will very much depend on what you send out each day. It may be that a simple platform truck, trolley or sack truck will be sufficient, or it might be that you need a pallet truck – perhaps even a forklift. Using equipment like this will save staff time and allow them to concentrate on other tasks.

Conclusion

Many online retailers have expanded rapidly and their warehouses haven’t always kept pace with overall growth, clinging to working practices which are best suited to small operations even when shipping volumes have mushroomed. It might be worth reviewing methods to see whether greater efficiency might be achieved. Sometimes seemingly minor changes within a warehouse can lead to enormous savings, particularly when shipping is one of a business’s greatest overheads.

Ian Bagshawe encouraged his manager to invest in a pallet truck from dlhonline.co.uk and his firm found this simple move saved several hours of time each day.

 

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Strategies For Customer Retention

article_photoWithout customers any business no matter how smart or inventive will simply curl up and die, in this hyper modern market with quick changing frequencies it’s imperative you manage to get your customers to stick to you like glue. Enticing them in is just the beginning of the journey, once they’re through the door, it’s not enough to just leave them standing there admiring the wallpaper. Unless you apply some notable retention strategies, you’ll soon find them running for the nearest fire exit as your business slowly withers into extinction. Here are some great tactics that will ensure your customers stay right where they should be; with you.

Start as you mean to go on

Form the very first nibble of interest you should be finding ways to keep your customers coming back for more. Customer loyalty is a highly sort after prospect, and it’s not just given away like yesterdays newspapers. Your customers want to know you care about them and not just about notching up another sale. Getting to know and understand your customer is like entering into a lifetime relationship that will flourish over many years, and benefit both parties. You get your repeat business, and the customer feels valued and part of a brand. As human beings it’s a natural occurrence to want to belong to something, be it a family, a sports club or a brand. Sharing values with your customers is a sure to way to make them feel welcomed, and part of the community that you offer rather than just a statistic on a flow diagram or a thin slice in your latest pie chart.

Engage your customers in every way

Engaging with your customers through various media will give them insights into your business and spur on reciprocated insights for you to use in return. Keep your content informative and relevant, and listen carefully to the feedback that you get. This can be one of the best places to get advice for innovations as they come straight from your own customers who know your business without bias. Using blogs and social media channels are great ways to connect with various customers and engage through different ways, monthly or weekly emails can be good reminders to customers to show you are constantly thinking of them and they’re not swept to one side once they’ve crossed your palm with gold.

Always go further

Going above and beyond the call of duty is probably the best way to enhance customer loyalty. If a customer feels they can confide in your brand and get trusted advice then they will consider you a trusted relation that they can come to time and time again, this is a certain way to create unbreakable bonds. Online contact retailer Nextdaylenses, has gone beyond simply allowing customers to visit the NextdayLenses website. They also offer e-mail and Skype Optical advice which gives their customers a more personal chance to directly connect with staff and the brand.

No sooner have you found your customers than you begin to lose them again unless you’re prepared to fight for them. Many businesses today will see as many as 80% of their customers drift in to the ether, just make sure your business doesn’t follow the trend.

Featured images:

Kevin McNulty is a budding entrepreneur and author. When he’s not working on his own projects he loves blogging and cycling.

 

 

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How To Ensure You Make The Most Of Each Conference You Attend

Plone Conference 2009 Group PhotoHow To Ensure You Make The Most Of Each Conference You Attend

Whether you have been asked to attend a conference by your boss, or you are attending one, or more, off your own back, it is important to make sure your time is not wasted. The following tips will make sure you always make the most of the conferences you attend.

1. Make a plan before you go

One of the worst things you can do when attending a conference is to not have a plan. Conferences tend to be extremely hectic and busy and if you arrive having not looked at the conference layout, looked up the guest speakers or checked the delegate list, you will not go far.

You should make a plan about which speakers you want to see, which delegates you want to meet, which stands you want to visit and so on. If you have been given the delegate list, try and get in contact with the people you’d like to meet and make an appointment with them, perhaps arranging to meet them for a coffee during one of the breaks in the conference speeches.

2. Do your research on those attending

If you’ve been lucky enough to get a delegate list and know who you want to meet, as well as knowing who the guest speakers are going to be, make sure you do your research on them all. Look them up online, read their twitter posts, visit their blogs and so on.

It will be a lot easier for you to make contact with these people at the conference if you have a way in and can show you’re interested in them. They will feel flattered you have done your research on them and are much more likely to give you the time of day.

3. Make sure you interact with the people around you

There’s nothing worse at a conference than being sat next to someone who is totally ignoring you, even more so when they are quite obviously alone there too. It’s a good idea to make the most of the opportunity to meet new people, after all you never know who you might be talking to and if they might be able to offer you a viable business opportunity, or even a personal one.

Try to start conversations by arriving before speeches are due to start and asking people about why they are attending the conference. It’s always a good idea to ask them a lot of questions because, to be honest, people just love to talk about themselves. It will also help you break the ice and encourage other people, who are also there alone, to join in the conversation.

4. Don’t spend all your free time on your phone or other mobile device

As in point 3, it is terribly rude to sit next to someone throughout an entire guest speech, or to keep bumping into the same people throughout the conference and then ignore them during the breaks because you’re texting, calling or tweeting.

You should be using the free time between speeches and presentations to meet and greet others in order to advertise your business, discover new work opportunities or to generally just have a nice conversation with other people.

5. Always make sure you follow up with those you’ve met

This is incredibly important, firstly because it is just polite to do so and secondly because it is likely people at the conference have met so many people that they will forget who you are unless you remind them quickly. This is especially important if you feel they can help your business in any way. Just think how impressed your boss might be with you if you bring in some new business.

There are a number of ways in which you are able to follow up such conference leads, whether through writing them an actual letter, sending them an email or even getting in touch with them via the phone. Just make sure you follow up within 48 hours, that you have got their details correct and that you tell them just how much you enjoyed meeting them and how much you would like to follow up on the discussions you had at the conference whenever they have the time to do so.

Featured images:
  •  License: Image author owned

James writes for Cranfield Tech Park. When not blogging about Cranfield’s serviced offices in Milton Keynes, he can often be found discovering new ways to attend conferences.

 

 

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