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Monthly Archives: October 2013

T-Mobile’s new plan to entice customers: free 4G LTE for tablets

T-Mobile US Inc., the fourth-largest U.S. wireless carrier, will begin offering Apple's new iPads as well as other tablets with free 4G LTE wireless in November.

by  –

T-Mobile held a press conference on Twitter with streaming audio from its website Wednesday to announce the company will offer customers 200 MB of free data if they purchase a tablet through T-Mobile.

Beginning Nov. 1, T-Mobile US will sell thenewly announced Apple iPad Air (16 GB) for no down payment and $26.25 per month for 24 months, and the iPad mini for $17.91 per month for 24 months. The Retina screen version of the iPad mini will be available in November and will cost $22.08 per month for 24 months.

After the devices are paid off, the free 200 MB per month of 4G LTE data continues for the life of the tablet. T-Mobile will also have the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 and the Google Nexus 7 available through the program.

“This is where the world is going,” said T-Mobile CEO John Legere during the audio part of the press conference. “The growth here (in tablets) is huge and we want it to be affordable for everyone.”

The free 200mb will be applied automatically to existing T-Mobile customers’ accounts if they have tablets registered with the company. New customers can sign up for a $20-per-month Mobile Internet account, and then be eligible for the deal, Legere said.

Legere said that if a customer runs out of free data, T-Mobile won’t slow down the connection (called throttling) or charge overage fees. Instead, a screen will pop up prompting the customer to either buy a $5 unlimited day pass or sign up for a monthly 500 MB plan for $10 per month.

Wall Street appears to be less than impressed by the announcement, though. T-Mobile’s stock price dropped slightly as the press conference began, from $27.47 to $27.12. Overall, however, the company’s share price is up since it began its “Un-carrier” campaign.

The free wireless tablet service is a clever new tactic to try to draw more customers to T-Mobile’s network, something T-Mobile has been focusing on as part of the new “Un-carrier” strategy. The company now offers free international calls and cheap roaming plans for international travelers as well.

The program appears to be paying off: T-Mobile added 1.1 million customers last quarter, the most growth its seen in four years.

The Bellevue-based carrier is the fourth largest mobile network in the country after Verizon,AT&T and Sprint, and has not been a big carrier for tablets.

This announcement was clearly aimed at changing that.

“We’ll prove we have the lowest cost of ownership for tablets,” Legere said.

He said T-Mobile’s future announcements will be driven by consumer demands.

“You keep telling us exactly what to do to be successful and we’ll keep doing it,” he said.

 

 

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Technology Backlash: Good Old-fashioned Business Success Comes with the Personal Touch

slider-image-JoanneHello? Is anybody there? 

One of the biggest problems sales people face with social media and technology is the lack of real, meaningful contact and communication.  Sure, it’s quick and easy. But when it comes to closing deals, does it really produce the results you need?
Joanne S. Black, author of the new book Pick Up the Damn Phone! , How People, Not Technology, Seal the Deal, is on a mission to help people learn the importance of personal contact.  Her manifesto is simple – to make a real connection and achieve true, meaningful communication, you have to make a personal and even in-person contact. Her goal is to get people to tweet less and talk more to the customers and contacts who really matter.

“It’s easy to get sucked into technology,” she says. “But the personal touch is the best deal maker there is.  Relationships matter more than anything else. The digital world—as great as it is—threatens personal connections. Humans need personal contact with others. Email, texting, social networking—these certainly have a place in business today, but none of them replaces the power of a personal connection.”

Based on years of research and experience, her book describes what she sees are the critical elements for success, particularly in business, where the creation of the powerful personal trust with executives and clients is necessary to produce immediate and long-term mutual economic benefits. Here they are:

  1. Stop Typing. Stop Texting. Get Personal Right Now. Pick up the phone and call. Go down the hall, take a walk, get in your car, take a train, get on a plane, hop on a bus, take the metro, and GO AND SEE THE RIGHT PERSON OR PEOPLE RIGHT NOW.  Make arrangements to see the people you work with face-to face. Go and meet your prospects and clients in-person. Thrash your competition. They are still tapping away on the keyboard. Even in our technology-driven world, nothing replaces a handshake and in-person interaction for both building and maintaining business relationships. Face-to-face meetings aren’t luxuries.
  1. Our Smart Phones Are Not So Smart Everyone looks down at their phones–bumping into people on the street, at networking events, on muni, at restaurants, in bed, at home. Our addiction to technology is bleeding into our personal lives. There’s no conversation. Kids are ignored. When you used to go into a public place, you assumed everyone was in that place with you. Now everyone is somewhere else. No one is talking. No one is connecting.
  1. Are You Spammed? Salespeople think that technology can do their job. They are under the mistaken beliefs, that if they do some research, identify specific trigger events and mutual connections that they can now spam away. It’s like digital snake oil. Executives don’t have “Meet with Salesperson” on the top of their list. They will always take a meeting with a personal introduction from someone they know and trust.
  1. We’re Smarter Than Our Buyers The digital buyer, Buyer 2.0 learns all about us with a click of the mouse. Salespeople are armed with the same tools. Even though buyers may know a lot about us, we know just as much or more about them. Clients don’t usually recognize exactly what they need. We do. Because so much information can be found online, the standard is now higher for sales to add value. Information isn’t knowledge. Knowledge comes from wisdom and experience. Just being tech savvy doesn’t mean you’re smarter than your buyer.
  1. Message to Marketing:  Keep Your Hands Off My Clients It’s up to salespeople to nurture their own relationships—not just with marketing automation, but with one-on-one conversations. Marketing should not be qualifying leads. That’s our job. Not only is generating leads our responsibility, it’s a task you don’t want marketing (or anyone else) doing for you. These are your clients, and you must continue to cultivate these relationships. These are the people who can send you the best, hottest referrals. So marketing–keep your hands off my clients.
  1. Bring In Your Team! Don’t be a lone ranger. If you are the manager, bring your technology experts with you. If you are the technology expert, bring your manager with you! Knock people’s socks off by giving them access to the right people that matter to the solution of their problem.. Show clients that you trust your teammates and that they can trust you. When we share data, strategies, best practices and even people, you make the best impression and win loyalty that lasts for a long time.
  1. There’s No Such Thing as a “Warm” Call.  If you don’t have a referral introduction, your lead is freezing cold—even though you mistakenly think you’ve been able to avoid sounding like a pesky telemarketer. Walk straight into meetings with your ideal prospects—without cold calling or trying to figure out how to bypass the gatekeeper. If you’ve been introduced by a trusted source, these gatekeepers will welcome your call. The secret isn’t duping them (trust me, they’re onto you). Make referral selling your primary sales driver and convert more than 50% of prospects to clients.
  1. Shine the Light! Prove that Live and in Person is the Best! Social networking isn’t the next big thing. You are! It’s not technology, but rather the person using the technology, that sets people apart. Social selling is a great way to expedite the first few important steps in prospecting; researching potential clients and identifying referral sources. Beyond that, it’s not social intelligence we need; it’s relationship intelligence that seals the deal.

It’s people, not technology, that seal the deal. It’s the real thing.

About the Author

Joanne Black is an expert on referral selling—the only business-development strategy proven to convert prospects into clients more than 50 percent of the time. She is the author of the book No More Cold Calling, and a popular speaker who teaches people how to build their referral networks so they can quickly attract more business, decrease operating costs, and ace out the competition every time. Her clients include Autodesk, KPMG, Bank of Marin, California State Automobile Association, Colliers International, Sage Software, and many other companies. She is a member of the National Speakers Association.

She has a Bachelors Degree in English from the University of California at Berkeley and a Certificate in Training and Human Resource Development, with Honors, from the University of California Extension.  Joanne lives in San Francisco, California.

 

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Foursquare Ads Now Open to All Small Businesses Worldwide

Foursquare ads

Back in June we reported that Foursquare was offering a paid promotions program to New York City based businesses in a limited pilot.

Today Foursquare announced that its paid ads program now is open to all small businesses.  The company says it has 1.5 million claimed-business users.  The expanded ad program would give business access to consumers in the pool of 40 million consumers that use Foursquare.  An update on the company’s blog notes:

“Here is a problem that all local business owners know: They want to get more customers, but tons of people walk by their storefront without coming in. We created Foursquare Ads to solve this problem. We can connect great local businesses with the people nearby that are most likely to become customers.

Today, we’re opening Foursquare Ads to all small businesses around the world. We’re moving past the days when business owners have to figure out if a “like” or a “click” has any meaning in the real world; now they can tell if someone who saw their ad actually walks into their store.”

Ads appear at the top of the user’s list, in a different color along with the word “Promoted” next to them (see image above next to the arrow).

Businesses can create an ad using the Foursquare ad platform online or via mobile.  Businesses will only be charged for a consumer who actually ”acts on your ad – either by tapping to see your business details or by checking in at your business.”

The ads will be shown to those consumers who are near your business and who Foursquare says are likely to become customers.  Foursquare will evaluate the consumer based on whether they’ve checked in previously at similar places or searching for something similar to your business.  Foursquare says it will never show your ad to someone who is already at your business — thus you won’t be giving up discounts to those who are already customers.

Right now American Express is offering a $50 ad credit to U.S. based small businesses to try the new Foursquare ads.

Nothing else about how you use Foursquare as a business appears to have changed.  It remains to be seen whether this will result in less activity unless you pay for it.

 

 

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How to Get More Positive Customer Reviews, Using Get Five Stars

By Vedran Tomic –

Online reviews have become important — and positive reviews are crucial for businesses.  Two customer review trends are important to know.  First, prospective customers are increasingly relying on online reviews to make purchasing decisions.  Second, there’s been an explosion in fake reviews online.  It’s gotten so bad, that sites like Yelp and the New York  Attorney General have been cracking down on fake reviews.

Where does this leave small businesses?

Businesses have an increasing need to get positive customer reviews. At the same time, small businesses also have to keep things ethical, even in the face of competitors who may be playing dirty.  A product called “Get Five Stars” can help satisfy both of these needs.

What is Get Five Stars?

Get Five Stars is an online app or tool that guides you through the process of how to get positive customer reviews.  It helps you:

  • request testimonials and reviews from legitimate customers;
  • identify which customers are less than happy or giving negative reviews, so you can attempt to turn them back to positive;
  • encourage customers to share their positive reviews online at major review sites;
  • place reviews and testimonials on your own website in a Google-friendly way, leading to greater visibility in search; and
  • monitor new reviews on public review sites as an ongoing reputation management process, so you can stay informed and be proactive.

After all, if a customer is willing to recommend your business, don’t you want to show that review off?  And don’t you want as many other prospective customers to see it as possible?

Plus, the proactive nature of Get Five Stars helps you catch negative reviews.  That way, you can attempt to resolve any issues before they cause lasting harm.

In essence, Get Five Stars gives you a process and shows you how to get positive customer reviews.  It helps you organize and streamline the process of requesting and displaying customer reviews, and increasing their visibility online. That way you can make the most of them for online visibility and to convince new shoppers to buy from you.

How to Get Positive Customer Reviews – Getting Started

The process to request reviews from your existing customers is straight forward.  Right in the dashboard, business owners can insert customer names and email addresses.  You could add customer data from your invoicing system, a Contacts app, or a CRM database — or insert it manually.

Then, of course, you are going to want to communicate with customers.  To do that, you call up pre-built email templates (see image below).

How to get positive customer reviews using Get Five Stars

Customize your email message, and then send it to your customer requesting feedback.

It’s a two-step process with customers. As part of the process, you:

  • Ask them to rate your business privately first.
  • Then after you have a chance to review the feedback, if it’s positive you can ask the customer to go to a public review site to leave feedback there, too. If it’s not so positive, you have a chance to fix it.

The process is kicked off when the customer receives an email that looks like the image below, with an invitation to leave a review by clicking a big button “Provide Feedback”:

GetFiveStars-Feedback-Email

Simple Review Process Based on Net Promoter Score

Customers are busy.  Most don’t have the time to spend writing a long review or filling out a lengthy survey.  The beauty of Get Five Stars is that the review system is easy peasy.

Get Five Stars uses the Net Promoter approach to customer feedback.  There are just two short text fields to fill in — the title of the review,  and a brief comment with a maximum of 250 characters.

Customers then are asked one question, “How likely is it that you would recommend our company to a friend or colleague?”  Customers then rate the business from 1 to 10, with 10 being the best (i.e., most likely to recommend).  The customer simply moves a sliding scale button to rate (see below).

Net promoter scores - how to get positive customer reviews

If a customer answers by giving a rating below a 7, then the small business gets the information and can follow up. In this way, potentially negative reviews can be addressed proactively.

Some small business owners and managers may not be familiar with the Net Promoter feedback scoring system.  The app gives the business owner a little tutorial on Net Promoter scores in a popup window.

Once the customer feedback is returned, you have a place in the dashboard where you can see all your feedback.  Then from there, you can send out another followup communication to customers that left positive feedback, asking them to leave the review on various public review sites such as Google, Yahoo Local, Citysearch, Facebook and other places.  On the app’s dashboard you choose which review sites you want to request the customer to leave a review on.  Remember, you can’t place the review on the site for them — but the app makes it easy for you to request and assist the customer to do so.

Interestingly, co-founder Don Campbell downplayed Yelp when we spoke with him.  He said seeking out Yelp reviews may not help you. “Unless the reviewer is an avid Yelper the review is often filtered out and doesn’t show up publicly on Yelp,” due to Yelp’s algorithms.  Also, he points out, the app’s language does not actually request leaving a Yelp review. It is against Yelp’s guidelines to ask for reviews.  Therefore, the app simply includes a small message in the email asking customers to visit the business’s page on Yelp.

Place Testimonials on Your Website

The reviews you get back can also be embedded on a page on your company’s website (see below) using a small embedded bit of  javascript code.  There’s also a WordPress plugin to put the testimonials into WordPress sites.

Embeddable review unit from Get Five Stars

The embedded testimonials also appear as HTML on your website page. The reason that’s important is that when they are in HTML format, the reviews can get indexed by search engines.  Reviews are structured using the Schema.org format, a markup language that Google understands.  That means they can under certain circumstances show up in the snippet of text presented in Google search result pages.  When you have gold review stars appearing near your website name on a search page, it helps your brand stand out.

Getting too many reviews too quickly can be almost as bad or worse than too few reviews. To a search engine or review site getting too many too fast may seem suspicious. So let’s say you start using the product and do a one-time communication to all your recent customers asking for reviews.  You’re going to get a lot of reviews back.  You may not want to display them all or encourage all those customers to leave public reviews, at one time.   The business owner or manager has control over the timing.

Monitor Reviews at Public Review Websites

Get Five Stars also monitors key review sites, as part of an ongoing reputation management process. You get a dashboard that is regularly updated, to see how many reviews you have and the average rating (below).

Monitor reviews at public review websites

This way you don’t have to visit each of the review sites separately.  The Get Five Stars system will also send you an email when a new review appears.

According to co-founder Don Campbell, by being proactive you can have a big impact on how your company is presented to the world.  He described the case study of an optometrist that had just one review showing on Yelp and it was a very bad “1 star” review.  The optometrist knew this customer.  His frames had broken, but that incident had been fixed.   The optometrist KNEW the customer had been made happy.  In that case the optometrist was able to contact the customer.

The monitoring dashboard would help to let you know so that you could contact the reviewer and ask him to update the review if you know the issue has been resolved. Or you could leave a message yourself clarifying inaccurate information in the review, such as a restaurant review that gives a bad rating for a dish your establishment does not even offer.

Using Get Five Stars just as a review management platform would mean only scratching the surface of what this tool has to offer. Get Five Stars is capable of serving as a proactive reputation management mechanism.  If you use the tool to its full potential, it can pay for itself many times over.

Who “Get Five Stars” is Best For

Get Five Stars is ideal for B2C businesses with large customer bases as well as service businesses, especially professional service businesses.  If you are serious about using data to improve your systems to grow sales and increase customer loyalty, then Get Five Stars can make the end-to-end process efficient and manageable.

The Get Five Stars system is a cloud software service.  You access it and use it online.  It is designed to review a business, not review individual products.

It’s priced at $29.95 per month (discounted to $24 per month if you pay annually).  There a 15-day free trial offer, too.  No credit card is required for the trial.

This app is designed to be used by a single business, a business with multiple locations, or an agency (such as a marketing agency) managing a number of  businesses.  The individual business can also manage their reviews directly even if they get access through an agency.  Discounts are available for agencies. Even small marketing agencies managing four businesses will find it cost effective and a time saver.

The Get Five Stars system was developed by Mike Blumenthal, an expert in local search, and Don Campbell and Thomas Hasch from Expand2Web.  The company is headquartered in the San Francisco Bay area.

 

 

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The Case For Deleting All Your Apps

I beg you. It will change your life.

You are a hoarder, and it’s a problem.

You probably hide it well — there are no rooms with old newspapers stacked to the ceilings, and no freezers full of dead cats — but your phone’s home screen, which is quickly and eerily becoming one of the most telling expressions of one’s true personality, gives you away. It’s a mess, and so are you. I know because I was one, too.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, there’s an easy trick that can improve your smartphone enormously. It’s easy to do and remarkably painless: delete your apps. All of them. Every last one that you’re allowed to delete.

This sounds crazier than it actually is, so hear me out. A few weeks ago, I was running a developer version of iOS 7 that expired, causing my phone (as well as many others across the country) to deactivate without warning. Impatiently — ever the hoarder, a true addict — I decided to wipe my phone, start from scratch and restore my apps and contacts from a previous backup, a month or so old.

But before I restored my phone I glanced down at my clean default home screen. No Twitter. No email. No contacts. So I delayed. A few hours passed without a single push notification or alert. It was, for lack of a better word, kind of tranquil.

My current home screen.

Then reality set in. Not only do I not have the luxury of ignoring my email, or the news, it’s not something I want to completely distance myself from. So instead of restoring, I started to rebuild.

Twitter is, without question, the most-used app on my phone, followed by Gmail. So I went to the App Store and downloaded both. A few hours later, I had to go meet some friends at a place I’d never been to. I downloaded Google Maps. I wanted to listen to some music on the way, so I picked up Spotify, a service I pay $10 a month to use offline. A couple hours after that I got the urge to post some dumb picture to Instagram so I caved and downloaded that as well.

At first this felt like a useful, but temporary, exercise — I could see, at least, which apps are truly most important to me. But as I lived with my new, lean homescreen for a while, something started to change. Fewer apps meant fewer distractions; I found myself checking my phone less frequently.

That’s not to say it turned my phone into a brick. By downloading only the apps I use regularly or rely on the most (Pocket for ‘read it later’ things, Simplenote for interview transcription and to-do lists, and Chromecast to watch videos on my TV) I felt like I wasn’t shutting out technology, but maximizing efficiency. More importantly, I was enjoying using my phone more.

This past Sunday, while watching football with a group of friends, I found myself more engrossed in the actual games. I was looking at my phone far less than anyone in the room, and I wasn’t jealous.

Of course there’s no right or wrong way to use your phone, which you bought and you spend hundreds of dollars to maintain. But I hope my case can be instructive. Before deleting my apps, I would listlessly swipe and unlock and tap and lock, mostly out of habit and with no real intent or purpose, whenever I felt the slightest onset of boredom. Notifications from apps I’d opened once, months ago, would routinely distract me from something I was doing.

Taken individually these are not serious problems — more like occasional nuisances and inefficiencies. But they add up. My less cluttered phone feels both essential and less demanding.

The best case scenario is that you delete your apps and feel relief, increase your efficiency, and de-clutter the most important device in your life. Worst case, you merely come to think more clearly about how you use technology. And it’s no major inconvenience — this isn’t some digital detox fad diet, and you’re not really giving up anything but a few minutes of your time. It’s as simple as this: an app that you might only idly check isn’t necessarily an app that you’d re-download.

It’s also changed how I see iOS. For example, I’ve come to realize that Apple’s expanded folders are, it turns out, just a somewhat convenient way to solve one of iOS’s biggest problems, by allowing you to quarantine all of Apple’s terrible stock apps into their own trash bin folder. I call mine ‘Apple Crap.’

Any risk is both mild and avoidable: If you back up your phone you can always get your apps back. They’ll be free to re-download in the App Store and Google Play, and both Apple and Android are pretty good about saving your settings — still, be careful and make sure important data and media is backed up.

Anyway, do this. The cost is nil and the potential payoff is huge. Nuke your homescreen. Cleanse your phone. Save yourself. It’s worth it.

 

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