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Posts Tagged ‘customer service’

3 Ways Small Businesses Should Leverage Location-Based Marketing In 2011

By John Joyce on October 13, 2010 - Comments 0

Small business owners have an opportunity to take advantage of several great technologies to broaden their local reach and position themselves as the big fish in their respective small pond.  I’m going to assume that most local businesses are listed with the three major search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo) but, if not, refer to this white paper for instructions.  Each of these platforms has local search embedded, to some extent, so you want to be able to take advantage of this free marketing platform.

To go one step beyond simple search, let’s take a look at ways you can proactively deliver your message to prospective customers based on their geographic location:

1)  Twitter

I just read an article this morning about a local bakery, Sugar Coated Bakery, that has managed to thrive in this difficult economy even with the rising cost of ingredients like flour and sugar.  They have a Facebook page but no Twitter account listed on their site and I immediately thought of a product I read about last year, Baker Tweet, which enables you to scroll through your list of baked goods and Tweet when a new batch comes out of the oven.  Also, Advanced Twitter Search allows you to identify people based on their location, follow them and, hopefully, they’ll follow you back.

Give people the opportunity to friend, follow or like you in any way they choose and then make sure you keep the conversation going.

2)  Foursquare

I’ve written about Foursquare before and it has defined the location-based marketing space by proving the value of building a participatory community as opposed to the more conversational platforms like Facebook.  This is a solution where you can reward your best customers and build an army of evangelists simply by letting them take part in your success.

This is one of the best ways to build loyalty and generate repeat business from your most loyal customers.

3)  Location-Based Advertising

If you’re having trouble building a following within social media platforms, help may soon arrive in the form of location-based advertising from Twitter.  Wouldn’t it be great if you could reach your core demographic within 20 miles of your business with a very focused value proposition?  Foursquare has stumbled in their efforts to deliver location-based advertising options but maybe it’s a sign that their platform is best suited for DIY campaigns only.  Google just announced that Marissa Mayer has been promoted from VP of Search and User Experience to a new role focused on location-based services.

Three big players all vying for your advertising dollars.  Let’s hope at least one of them comes up with a solution that delivers.

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Why Are There Bad Reviews Of Your Business In Google Maps?

By John Joyce on April 20, 2010 - Comments 2

Did you know that people can post a review of your business in Google Maps?  Google also pulls reviews from other sites (Citysearch, Insiderpages) and automatically posts them to your business listing.  Strangely, as the business owner, you have very little control over these reviews so you’ll have to add this to your “watch list” for online reputation management.

Are there negative reviews of your business online?  Find them and  fix them.Sentiment Analysis is a quickly growing data set that listing services are collecting and publishing, so, what are your options when dealing with negative feedback that finds its way into your business listing?

  • If a review was posted directly to your business listing in Google, you can flag it and then you’ll have to prove that the post violates published terms and conditions.
  • Are you able to identify the person who posted the negative comment?  If so, reach out to them, listen to their feedback and try to address their concerns.  Ask them if they would be willing to change or delete their negative review.
  • Google suggests you contact the webmaster of the 3rd party sites if the negative review wasn’t posted directly to your business listing.  Some of these sites do allow you to post a “response from management” but that won’t show up in Google Maps.  (Google does not allow you to post this type of response)
  • Google lists 5-6 reviews so  you can solicit new reviews from satisfied customers in an effort to push the negative ones off the page.  Be careful, though; too many reviews being posted in a short period of time will trigger spam alerts and hurt your ranking.

Obviously, it helps to have a solid customer support system in place and an easy process for sharing feedback directly with you so these types of issues are not broadcast to the general public.  Reputation management is an important aspect of your daily marketing life and should be treated as such.

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Get People Talking About Your Business: Building Your Online Marketing Ecosystem Part XIV

By John Joyce on April 7, 2010 - Comments 0

You need to get people talking about your business.  Period.  Your product/service must offer an experience that compels customers to talk about you and recommend your business to their network of contacts.  Of course, there’s a flipside to this equation and that’s when someone has a negative experience with your business and they decide to share that information on social networks.  If you experience the latter, don’t run and hide; address the issue head-on and diffuse the situation within the same public forum it began.

To get started, visit each of these sites to determine if your business is listed and what people are saying.  Claim your business, manage the conversation and address issues as soon as possible.  You can’t make these sites go away so your best bet is to develop a strategy to make them work in your favor.  This is an yet another social medium that isn’t perfect and is continuously evolving and your strategy will have to do the same.

customer reviews and ratings services for small business

Click to see interactive online marketing ecosystem.

By now you’ve heard all the hoopla about Yelp having “long faced criticism that it gives preferential treatment to businesses that advertise with the company.”  Although Yelp maintains that there is no connection between the two, they did announce significant changes to the service this week.

Service providers like Yelp have proven how lucrative the local search advertising market is and Google is currently testing Enhanced Listings in Google Local Business Center that would allow business owners to create a unique, differentiated listing.  Google’s beta service currently offers the following:

  • Add yellow tags to promote coupons, a photo of your business, and more.
  • Stand out in local business results on Google & Google Maps.
  • See your performance in your account anytime.
  • Cancel anytime. Pay just $25 a month.

Will Google face the same scrutiny as Yelp?  We’ll have to see how this plays out but, if Google can collect $25 per month from a large percentage of small business owners, there’s a good chance we’ll see this rolled out in the near term.

The bottom line for businesses, especially “local” businesses, is to be aware of all these feedback sites and to monitor your reputation regularly.

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Help Your Customers Support Each Other: Building Your Online Marketing Ecosystem Part XIII

By John Joyce on April 6, 2010 - Comments 0

Now that you’ve disseminated your message across the entire universe, how are you going to interact with  customers who are looking for guidance but are spread across so many different platforms?  Enter web-based community support tools.

web-based community support tools

Click image to see interactive online marketing ecosystem.

As you can see from the graphic above, there are several options available and one that I see more an more often (since they’re now supported in Facebook and Google) is Get Satisfaction.  They allow you to interact with customers regardless of which community portal they’re using and are  easily extended throughout your Web presence via simple widgets and open APIs.  A Get Satisfaction community invites customers/visitors to participate in the conversation and provides a platform for conversation anywhere in the online experience.

busy small business ownerGetting your message to the masses is only half the battle when it comes to building your online marketing ecosystem.  You also have to consider which operational enhancements are required to automate the management of your online presence.  Proactively engaging prospects and customers allows for diffusing negativity and garnering valuable feedback and insight as you interact with your customers on an ongoing basis.

The greatest marketing challenge facing small business owners today is simple.  Lack of time.  But, if you can create a community in front of your support solution that lets customers and prospects get answers from each other first, (often with faster response times than through traditional ticketing solutions) you have created a virtual support department. You can publish, archive and search every exchange, so there’s never a need to answer the same question twice.

So, the main thing to remember is that online marketing is no longer a unidirectional process – it has evolved into a collaboration of community where instant feedback and conversation can mean the difference between success and missed opportunity.

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Windows 7 + Outlook 2007 + Google Sync = Not So Much

By John Joyce on March 14, 2010 - Comments 0

Microsoft and Google fighting is hurting the customer

Hey, what’s a raining Sunday morning without a little REGEDIT action, huh? I don’t know who’s ultimately at fault here, so I’m giving both Microsoft and Google red cards for childish behavior and losing sight of the needs of their customers. Luckily, I have a customer generated fix.

This is a quick tech support bulletin for small business owners who, like me, purchased a Droid because they use a wide array of Google services like “sync” and figured going with a Google-based mobile device was a no-brainer. As soon as I upgraded to Windows 7, I was greeted by “Could not connect to Microsoft Outlook: error -2147467259″ and the Microsoft “Help Center” link was dead.

So, I went to the Google forum and was able to find the following solution: (not specifically for Windows 7)

1. Close Outlook.
2. Click on the windows button (extreme left bottom corner of the taskbar).
3. Click on ‘Run’.
4. In the ‘Open’ box, type ‘regedit’ (without the quotes).
5. Click on the ‘OK’ button.
6. In the ‘Registry Editor’ window, click on the ‘+’ sign next to ‘HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT’.
7. Search for the ‘TypeLib’ entry under ‘HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT’ registry key.
Note: Keep pressing the ‘T’ key on your keyboard until you find out the entry ‘TypeLib’.
8. Expand (Click on the ‘+’ sign) the ‘TypeLib’ entry.
9. Under ‘TypeLib’ search for the entry ‘{00062FFF-0000-0000-C000-000000000046}’ and expand it by clicking on the ‘+’ sign.
10. You should find an entry with the number ’9.3′.
11. Right click on the entry ’9.3′ and choose ‘Rename’.
12. Rename the entry from ‘9.3’ to “DoNotUseThis9.3″.
Note: If you do not find the ‘TypeLib’ entry in step #9 above, do not rename any other entry.
13. Close ‘Registry Editor’ window.
14. Open Outlook and check if you are still getting the same error message.

I can’t offer any guarantees but it worked for me. Good Luck!

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Why Is Transparency So Hard?

By John Joyce on February 23, 2010 - Comments 0

Small Business trust and transparencyIt’s really not that complicated.  Our parents taught us growing up that honesty and respect breed trust, right?  Those two simple core values are vital components to success in any aspect of your life.  Chris Brogan, blogger extraordinaire and author of Trust Agents, says, “Today, the most valuable online currency isn’t the dollar, but trust itself.”  So, why do so many forget this simple fact?

President Obama offered “total transparency” during his campaign for the office he now holds.  It sounded simple enough.  “The system is broken and we need to involve the people we represent in the legislative process.”  That’s what I heard.  That’s what I expected.  Boy was I wrong.  Not even translucency.

Toyota is the number one auto maker in the world and has enjoyed a spotless reputation for decades.  I had a Toyota Camry for five years and never spent an extra penny for anything beyond scheduled maintenance costs.  I think Toyota is one of the best (tied with Honda) at listening to their customers, turning that feedback into action and delivering a reliable product at a reasonable price.  But, they recently strayed from their core values.  They had enormous goodwill (trust equity) in the bank and all they needed to do was tell the truth about faulty gas pedals, fix the problem and move on.  Their lack of transparency, however,  will now cost them much more than replacement parts and labor.

Now, if you would like to see the antithesis of the previous examples I’ll turn my attention to Hubspot.  Hubspot recently schooled us all on operating transparently and protecting the trust of customers and supporters.  If you’re not familiar with Hubspot, check out the book Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs (The New Rules of Social Media).  Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, co-founders of Hubspot, have created an entire platform to help businesses transition from outbound marketing (interruption marketing) to “getting found” with inbound marketing strategies.

There is no better free marketing information available online than the quality content that’s available from Hubspot.  That’s right, I said FREE.  Blog posts, video content, white papers, and a suite of “grader” applications that allow you to gauge the effectiveness of your online marketing efforts.  I love the knowledge and insight these guys share on a regular basis.  They’re really smart and I trust what they’re saying because it works.

Rewind to February 11, 2010.  Blog posts start popping up alerting readers that Twitter.Grader has been hacked and “Twitter users who have granted access to their accounts to Twitter.Grader have all begun tweeting a bizarre and unauthorized message.”  Holy crap!  What do you do?  Pretend it didn’t happen?  Blame someone else?  Nope.  You fix the issue and immediately address your customers in a blog post.

Not only did Dharmesh co-author a great book on inbound marketing but he also wrote a primer on “Transparency 101″ – condensed below:

Honesty: “#1.  It was my fault.  I developed Twitter Grader — and I’m the one that developed this particular feature that ended up getting hacked.  I should have known better.  I was an idiot.”

Respect Customer Fears/Needs: “#2.  HubSpot is being super-paranoid about how we deal with the issue.  We’re shutting down several of the grader.com applications (not just Twitter Grader) and will be reactivating them on completely new servers with increased security.  This level of caution is likely overkill (and expensive), but it’s the least we can do.”

Keep/Build the Trust: “#3. OAuth is a very good thing. For those of you that don’t know what OAuth is, it’s what allows users to grant access to specific applications without revealing their username/password. Twitter supports OAuth. As such, Twitter Grader allowed users to “authorize” access. This is much better than asking users for their user name and password. Because of OAuth, although the malicious user was able to post to people’s twitter accounts, they never had access to the user’s account credentials. Given that many people use the same username/password on multiple websites, this could have been very dangerous. But, OAuth ensured that the problem was much more contained.

Kudos to Dharmesh and the rest of the team at Hubspot!

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