Quality Customer Service As A Result Of Quality Products

Quality Customer Service

I’ve recently read Jeff Haden’s article about how company growth effectively kills quality customer service. When you look at the largest companies in the business world, chances are you would only be able to name a handful of international companies who maintain quality customer service; and these are even conscious company efforts to be recognized for the customer service they give their clients. But, can’t quality customer service simply follow---out of their sheer desire to provide exceptional products and services?

Apparently it is possible, even in this time and age. In the above mentioned interview, Haden had an email conversation with Road ID co-founder Edward Wimmer. The topic of the conversation?

 “Growth and scale are the enemy of outstanding, personal service.”

Now, a little clarification on why Haden chose Road ID as his counterpart for this conversation; on one forum for bike hobbyists, a member complained about how Road ID didn’t match up to the quality promised to him, such as the tag inscription on one quickly becoming unreadable and the clasp of another not functioning properly. Of course, complaints from customers and clients are commonplace. But the amazing fact is that, for the next couple of pages, other Road ID customers defended both the company and their product. And these are not even paid evangelists, they are simply loyal customers. When Wimmer was asked how they were able to achieve such devoted customers, he simply replied: “I wish I could tell you we have a secret sauce, but it really isn't hard. It's easy. We do have systems, but they are based on common sense and how we would want to be treated.” So what exactly are they doing right that everyone else seems to be doing so wrong?

Learn to take a loss - All your interactions with your customers need not necessarily benefit your company directly. If you want to please your customers, you have to learn to accept losses, even if means replacing a product for an unhappy customer for free when your policy clearly states that they should buy a new one because of their situation. It will not only please your customer, but that customer might also become a brand evangelist because of the pleasant experience they had with your company. It’s all a matter of using your better judgement.

Do what you can to keep your customers - Because it’s been said, time and again, that keeping existing customers is way more cheaper than looking for new customers all the time. While Road ID is actively expanding its market, it doesn’t mean that they neglect all their past customers.

Humanize your brand - When people have problems, they want to talk to other people to make sure that their problems are resolved right away and properly. Wimmer uses his personal email to respond to customer purchases, and it’s his voice that customers hear when they call the company, not some generated automatic voice.

Always be prepared - Make it so that your customers call your company because they want to, not because they have to. But when they do have to contact you, be willing and ready to respond to their problems.

Small Business Marketing News Update - Klout May Not Be Delivering Real Clout For Jacksonville Businesses

Several Jacksonville marketing firms that been touting to their clients the importance of increasing their scores on social measuring sites such as Klout.com. They also advocate targeting the top Klout scorers because they are online influencers who could have an impact on their client’s product, service or idea.

But when you dig down into what is being measured, are these social scoring services really compiling accurate data needed to determine if someone is a major influencer?

If you are not familiar with these social sites, there are several free measuring services such as Klout, Kred and Peerindex that offer a third party evaluation of a person’s activity and social capital online.

One of the problems I have with these services is that they do not take data from any other source than Twitter and Facebook. They do not collect data from Google, Linkedin or blogs. Twitter is the major data source for them because Twitter activity is one of few social networks that doesn’t firewall conversations.

And people can game Klout with Twitter. A good example is when you constantly see an individual tweet their location (I’m at the gas station or I’m at so and so restaurant.) The more tweets someone has, the higher their score is on Klout. So does that really make them an “influencer?” 

Paul Gillin, a columnist for B-to-B magazine (New Channels by Paul Gillin) has an excellent expose’ about the value of measuring online influence. His concern is somewhat two fold. First, he believes that influence involves decisions that are more complex. He reports “conversations at conferences – over dinner or on the golf course – help decision-makers work out important details. The bigger and more complex the decision, the less likely it is that those who influence it are sharing their recommendations on Facebook.”

His second concern is that social media has demonstrated that audience size has little to do with influence, particularly in the narrow markets that typify b-to-b transactions. He goes on to say that the measurement services frame their definition of influence by number of followers and retweets. Gillin hits home this point by saying that, based on this criteria, Lady Gaga is the most influential person on the planet.

Gillin offers additional excellent examples of the flaws of measurement sites:

Marc Andreesen is one of the fathers of the modern Internet; but because he rarely uses Twitter, he earns mediocre rankings on the two most popular measurement service sites.

Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, because of his job, cannot use Twitter. According to these sites, he has no influence!

I would have to agree with Gillin in his assessment that for b-to-c marketers, these services have limited use. And for b-to-b marketers, they are almost useless. Therefore, I caution Jacksonville businesses not to place too much confidence and too much time online with social measurement sites.

If you get a chance to read Gillin’s column each month in B-to-B magazine, you won’t be disappointed with his updates of online industry trends. His website is www.gillin.com.

Mass Media Advertising Is Losing Ground In The Marketing World

When was the last time you completely believed what a marketer told you on mass media platforms like the television, radio, newspaper, or even an email? And if you did believe, did you not spend time researching on the internet for reviews or asking your acquaintances for their opinions before you made any decision to purchase?

Mass media is a relic of the industrial era when companies used largely generic advertising strategies that they hoped would reach their target customers. They had no means of driving their marketing methods to specifically reach their intended targets, so they spread their nets over as wide a market as they could.

Finding qualified sales leads using mass media marketing nowadays is an almost futile effort. Not only is the method of measuring the reach of your marketing strategies extremely difficult and complicated, but the cost of marketing to thousands of people in various places just to reach a handful of potential leads is extremely expensive. Furthermore, those potential leads are not even all verified quality sales leads. So, of the 100 potential leads you get from mass marketing to 100,000 people, you'd be lucky to get 5 qualified sales leads. And because you need more than 5 qualified leads to make your business profitable, you have to spend millions of dollars just so you can market to a hundred thousand more people.

Mass media marketing is a very expensive and inefficient method of finding sales leads. It represents a time of random hard selling and a time when customers blindly followed what was popular among their peers.

This mass advertising is no longer applicable to this generation of clients and consumers who are more knowledgeable, inquisitive, doubtful, and outspoken. With a vast amount of resources at their disposal and easily within their reach, they are no longer susceptible to marketing pitches that are aimed at everyone and no one in particular. Unless you personalize your marketing pitch, your sales leads will not believe that you provide the best solution to their problem when they have hundreds---if not thousands---of other options. The quest for qualified sales leads is further complicated by the emerging desire to become as unique as possible and yet still remain a part of the norm. This has lead to lesser belief in companies marketing to everyone but a distinct distrust of businesses introducing radical new solutions, or rather, the need to verify first from trusted sources any new solution.

Though this poses a unique challenge to marketers, one thing is certain, mass media advertising is slowly losing ground in the business world. Thankfully, the arrival of this technological era has provided marketers with various means of reaching out to their specific target sales leads and enabled them to improve their business relationship on a more personal level. Though most marketing methods are largely met with skepticism, a well-targeted and thoroughly researched marketing plan can become an effective means of lead generation. Even existing (and almost archaic) marketing methods such as email marketing and telemarketing can be repurposed and made to deliver qualified sales and business leads.

How To Date Your Target B2B Leads According To Seth Godin


Marketing, he brings to light a traditional marketing strategy that has been around for a long time but has greatly been overlooked. This marketing strategy not only increases the attention you get from your business leads, but also helps create a business relationship that will lead to long-term profitability. Read the article to learn more about permission marketing.

Small Business Marketing News Update - Jacksonville TV Stations Sold To Cox Media Group

There is news out that Newport Television, LLC has sold 22 of its television stations, two of which are WTEV and WAWS in Jacksonville. The other side of this news is that they were sold to Cox Media Group, which owns WAPE, WFYV and WOKV in Jacksonville.

Consolidation of media outlets is nothing new today. However in the past, it used to be a real concern, particularly by the government, and specifically by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

In the mid 80’s in North Florida, Morris Communications, which owns the Florida Times Union, underwent the process of purchasing Naegele Outdoor Advertising Inc. The FCC was questioning that Morris, through ownership of the city’s only daily newspaper and the largest billboard company in North Florida, would have too much control over the media.

As a partner of one of the major advertising agencies in Jacksonville at that time, I was interviewed by the U.S. Attorney General’s office. They wanted to know if sales representatives from the Times Union were putting pressure on me to buy billboards along with their print ads. (Just for the record, I never experienced that issue from Times Union sales reps and I had no problem with the purchase.) The newspaper was finally cleared to purchase the billboard company. Years later, Morris sold the billboard business.

Today the FCC has been lax in their policies. The agency has ignored many problems, including a major issue that is very obvious to the viewing public - the problem with stations ratcheting up the audio volume during commercials. The U.S. Congress had to step in to offer a remedy.

Good or bad the buying and selling of media properties is going to continue. And with broadcast companies, further movement will be seen with the emergence of Hulu and other Internet sources.

As far as Cox taking over WTEV and WAWS, no one knows for sure how that will turn out. Years ago, ClearChannel, which had a group of Jacksonville radio stations, took control of these two same stations. Management tried to have the TV sales force and the radio sales force cross sell their stations. That didn’t last long. It was too difficult to mix the two sales cultures.

All we can hope for as viewers and as media specialists is that Cox will invest the dollars in these stations to provide attractive programming to the North Florida market.

Retain Your Existing Clients And Increase Profitability

Nineteenth-century Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto invented the now-famous 80-20 marketing principle which states that “80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients”. Even if you check on your current list of clients, you will see that the few key clients you have let you earn as much as the rest of your clients put together.

It's a fact that finding new business leads and clients costs more (as much as 5-10 times more) than retaining your existing clients. This is the reason why a lot of marketers and marketing coaches tout the benefits of retaining your clients after the initial sale. While you can't possibly keep every single client you've sold to, you can identify a few key clients which could lead to long-term profitability. These customers and clients need not even be your biggest buyers, as long as they purchase a lot of your merchandise over a period of time, their value as a client greatly increases.

Retaining clients may not be an easy task, but doing so will not only ensure you of continuous profits, but also help you improve your company and business as a whole. To effectively keep your clients, you have to make sure that you always deliver on everything that you promise each of them, and the benefits from your products and services equal or exceed your prices. Otherwise they would end up with your competitors.
If you are doubtful about whether you can sell new or more products to your customers and clients, take note that you already have critical information about them. You know how much budget they have for a month or a year; you know who are the decision-makers in the corporation and how to contact them; you have information about their existing equipment and can easily figure out when they would need to purchase a new one; you might even have information about the direction of their company's future plans. You can use all these data about your clients and customers when you offer them a new product or service to get them to make a purchase. If you think you still need more information, you can always incentivize your approach and offer them something in return for the information that you need. Retaining clients also require that you continually add value to your business relationship, so new offerings are generally expected by your clients and customers. A company that doesn't have anything new to offer clients is a sure sign that it is not growing. Furthermore, your existing clients already trust your brand, so offering them a new product or service is all a matter of whether this new product or service is relevant to them.

However, there is a significant concern among marketers regarding this type of marketing principle. While the returns on client and customer retention is high, there is always the risk of losing such a valuable client. The more valuable a key client becomes, the higher the risk once that client is lost. There is also the issue of clients becoming unreasonably demanding over time, especially when they realize their own value to your company. This situation is easily avoidable, and if you build just the right relationship with each of your clients, you can safely expect a bright future for your company.

Small Business Marketing News Update - Jacksonville's Small Retailers Need To Be Aware Of Current M-Commerce Trends

If you think it has been hard for Jacksonville’s small, local retailers to compete with the big chains, thanks to mobile marketing, the picture has become bleaker. And in some cases, m-commerce is presenting a problem for the big retailers, too.

Internet Retailer magazine ran a series of articles that details how consumers are now going to brick and mortar stores to view products and compare prices, but are eventually making their purchases online with their smartphones.  

Actually 29% of consumers who use smartphones for product research while in a retail store buy online, according to data research from ClickIQ.

Not only does this create a big disadvantage for small retailers, but the large retailers are also taking a major hit. For example, the ClickIQ study showed the most frequently used retail store customers visited for product research was Best Buy at 36%. They were able to retain 35% of the researchers who ended up buying at the store with another 14% who bought at BestBuy.com.

But it starts to drop from there, with Wal-Mart experiencing 30% researchers with 26% purchasing at the store and 10% buying at Walmart.com. Target was third with 29% researchers, 29% in-store purchasers and 8% buying at Target.com.

Research data revealed that the reasons customers purchased online was mainly due to price at 67%, followed by availability of product at 14%, product features at 8%, and free shipping at 7%.  

ClickIQ also identified profiles of consumers using smartphones. The research found…
-       51% of mobile comparison shoppers who research in-store and buy online are between ages of 18 – 39 and 55% are male;
-       26% between ages of 30 – 39 and 25% between the ages of 18 – 29 have recently used a mobile device to research a product while in a store;
-       The numbers drop with age for those researching in a store with 12% between ages of 40 – 49; 6% between ages of 50 – 59; and 2% over the age of 60.

One major retailer trying to break this trend is Walgreens. According to Internet Retailer, Walgreens is using mobile/social shopping service technology such as foursquare and Facebook Places to greet customers on their smartphones as they walk into the store. The Walgreens apps offer customers onscreen product recommendations, promotions and special price points available at that specific location. 

But there are other clouds looming online that will be an additional threat to local retail businesses. That’s the online giants Amazon.com and eBay.

Of the 97 million U.S. adults who owned a smartphone running Apple iOS, an Android or a BlackBerry operating system, 45.4% visited Amazon.com’s m-commerce site or used the e-retailers’apps in March, according to the Mobile Metrix 2.0 report from the web and mobile measurement firm comScore Inc.

eBay Inc. followed with 28% of smartphone users visiting the m-commerce site or using eBay’s apps.

For the top 15 Internet destinations measured by comScore, 81.5% of visitors’ time was spent on apps while 18.5% was spent on sites.

According to comScore, the top 15 mobile destinationsare (in order of number of unique visitors)...  
Google, Inc.
Yahoo sites
Wikimedia Foundation sites
Apple, Inc.
AOL Inc.
eBay Inc.
Rovio (Angry Birds)
The Weather Channel
Microsoft sites

For more information, go to the April and June issues of Internet Retailer magazine and look for the articles authored by bill@verticalwebmedia.com.

Human Relationships And Business

Going into business is very much like being in a relationship. You spend a large portion of your time on it. Sometimes, when your business suddenly becomes demanding, you have no choice but to yield to it if you want to keep your business going.

Here are three important similarities between human relationships and business:

Commitment - Before one opens a business, a certain level of commitment is required if one wishes to become even slightly profitable. A business cannot be successful unless the founder or business owner is committed on making his business a success. A committed business owner will be able to give his company enough..

Time - Just as how you need to be on time whenever you have a date with your loved one, you have to be on time for work everyday. You might not have a boss, but if you always arrive late for business appointments and scheduled meetings, then your business won't have much of a future to hope for. Another thing that requires timelines in business is responding to client queries. If you fail to respond in a timely manner to client questions, complaints and requests, you are essentially telling them to transfer to your competitors. Often times when your schedules collide, you have to prioritize one over the other and learn to take...

Risk - Perhaps the most important aspect where business and human relationships are similar is the issue of risks. In a relationship, if you don’t take the risk of falling in love, then you will never experience the extreme joys and sadness of the human emotion. If you fear taking risks, then your business will never get off the ground. Even if it seems profitable now, you will always stay on that plateau and never achieve anything else of significance.

But that is not the only time when you have to take risks in both business and relationships. For instance, your loved one frequently forgets your important dates, or the two of you often quarrel. Your relatives and friends may even get involved and convince you to end the affair once and for all to save your sanity. Though it seems unrealistic to carry on with your relationship, you still hang on with the hope that it’s just a phase that you have to get over. In business, this same blind commitment is observed when your startup appears to be a failure. It’s that time when, no matter how much you try to improve, your products still fail to generate leads, your credit line is negative, and your employees have begun jumping ship. Add to that the fact that your competitor is rolling out one sensational product after another. For all intents and purposes, the most logical action would be to abandon the cause and build another business altogether or even consider getting employed. But that isn't the actual truth regarding the reality of things. Business owners and entrepreneurs are known to slave for years over their startups, even when the future of the said venture seems nothing but bleak.

Let us take Henry Ford, for example. The founder of the automobile manufacturing company experienced numerous failures in his dream of producing a reliable, efficient, and relatively cheap automobile. By continually taking risks despite being broke, he was able to achieve his business dream through the Ford model T and build an enduring company.

To make a business venture successful, you have to treat it as an important relationship by giving your commitment, time and learning to take risks. It takes considerable effort to make anything work, and businesses are no different.

Small Business Marketing News Update - 121 Financial Credit Union Partners With WJXT-TV To Bring Financial Tips To Jacksonville Viewers

In an effort to position itself as “the local financial experts,” 121 Financial Credit Union has partnered with WJXT-TV (Channel 4) to bring financial news tips to viewers in a segment called “4 Your Money” that airs during the station’s “The Morning Show.”

The news segments feature interviews with various financial experts from 121 Financial Credit Union. Past segments have covered wide-interest topics such as mortgage sources for people underwater; financial education for children; identity theft; debt settlement; tips on using debit cards; and various ways to finance your education.

In each segment a121 Financial expert will offer a brief overview of a topic and then the audience is given contact information on the TV screen as to where they can obtain additional information about that topic. It has become an easy avenue for people to get financial information important to them, and gives young singles and families access to financial data that they otherwise may not have. To date, 121 Financial has reported a great response coming in after the interviews.  

In order for people to see the segments again or to catch segments they may have missed, WJXT has posted the interviews on their website at www.News4Jax.com/money.

According to the July issue of SmartMoney magazine, credit union membership hit a record high 92 million last year. And while the popularity of credit unions is growing in North Florida, there are still a large number of people in Jacksonville who don’t know about the advantages of using a credit union over other financial institutions.

A recent news segment featured an interview with David Marovich, 121 Financial’s Business Account Officer. He detailed the benefits available to small businesses that signed on with 121 Financial that included better opportunities for obtaining business loans, fewer or maybe even no feesand interest on business checking. In this tough economic environment, it’s tragic that many businesses don’t even know they can have a business account at a credit union, which in some cases could mean the life or death of a company.

121 Financial started the news segments with WJXT in March and has found this approach to be a great outreach to the community that they didn’t have previously. A key to success in social marketing has been based on providing valuable information online to encourage interaction with customers and prospects. With the Channel 4 news segments, 121 Financial is accomplishing that same goal, except with a traditional medium – television.

Catch the next “4 Your Money” segment by tuning into WJXT’s The Morning Show” at approximately 8:20 every other Saturday. 

The photo shows the WJXT set with Davis Johnston, Senior Vice President of Operations for 121 Financial Credit Union, being greeted by The Morning Show host Jason Law.

Three Tips To Make Your Sales Pitch Rock

When we hear the word sales pitch, one of the most important points to consider is how to make your pitch sell to prospects. Unfortunately, that is one point that companies still have a hard time in doing, especially if they are doing their lead generation campaign for the first time. Why does it seem to be hard to generate the sales leads that you need? There are plenty of reasons why. The most important to remember is that business leads are best generated through proper consideration of what the prospects want. More likely than not, this is the main reason why no sales leads are made. So how do you go about it? How can you make your sales pitch clinch the deal?

Just remember these three points: 
  1. Do your research – time and time again, sales people are told to always research their business prospect first. Still, there are still those who are left hanging when they are asked questions by the prospects that they have no ready answer for. In the first place, you must need to know just what the prospect is looking for, what kind of solution they may need, and what your company can do to address that need. What is important here is that you cover everything when you are trying to generate B2B leads. And you can do that easily with good research work.
  2. Define your prospects’ segments – it is possible that what you are offering will work with a lot of market segments. Lucky for you if you only need to market in one segment, but if you have to go into several, then you will need to research each one well. Each segment may have a different trigger or reason to do business with you, so you should define your segments well. You can get better sales leads this way since you now know how to grab your prospect’s attention.
  3. Craft specific messages – this is where the two previous points merge. Once you know what your prospects want, and what trigger you can use to get their attention, you can then create the correct sales pitch. But the sales pitch itself should not be used in more than one prospect. Sure, this can save you more time, but if you really want to reach out to them, you will need to craft the message that is specifically tailored to them. They will appreciate that added thoughtfulness.
As a business owner, you will need to know how to best maximize your company’s ability to generate more sales leads for your business. There are so many factors that can either attract the attention of your business prospects or cause them to back away. It may also depend on what communication medium you used to reach them, whether through social media or telemarketing. Still, what is important is that you get to send your message across. This is the most important point that you need to reach if you want to get better B2B sales leads.

Small Business Marketing News Update - Jacksonville Businesses Are Turning To More Aggressive Marketing Techniques Such As Door-To-Door Sales

During this lagging recession, companies are getting more desperate in their sales by hiring aggressive door-to-door salesmen.  This one seems to be taking advantage of the recent storms in North Florida to sell flood insurance.
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