Where Does Social Media Fit into the Customer Journey?

Businesses know that they must have a presence on social media, but they don’t know how to use it. The wonderful thing about social media is that there are multiple platforms and countless ways to use them. It can also be overwhelming for some business owners who begin social media marketing without a plan.

To understand how to use social media marketing, you first have to understand how your customers think. We’ve posted a lot about this idea customer journey a lot in the past, but it is critical to your customers. The bottom line is that there are seven behaviors that all of your customers exhibit as they interact with your company: know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat, and refer. It is your job to guide them through those behaviors.

You can use social media to assist in guiding several of these behaviors, particularly know, like, trust, repeat and refer. If you go into your social media marketing campaign with the mindset of achieving these behaviors with customers and potential customers, social media suddenly becomes much clearer.

But each of these behaviors requires specific tactics to achieve. Here’s how to use social media to guide your customers through their journey.

Know

Social media is incredibly helpful in first introducing your customers to your business or product. Being active on social media, especially Google+, and engaging with your local community can help your SEO ranks. Often, social media channels will show up high on any local search. Frequently use keywords for which you want to show up in searches, and you can improve your search engine rankings in those keywords.

In addition, social media advertising has become more robust and effective over the years. You can target potential customers based on interest, who they follow or like, even location getting your brand/product or service in front of more of your ideal clients.

Like

Because social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook give businesses unlimited opportunities to interact with their fans, you have a chance to get them to like you and your business beyond your product. Be active and present in local social events, even cheer on local sports teams during big games. Enjoy the moment with your community, and your community will respond.

Trust

The longer a person is engaged and likes a business on social media, the more likely they are to trust that business. Share customer testimonials and ask your customers why they like and use your product, prospective customers can see what value your product provides.

In addition, if you use social media as a customer service tool, (I’ll explain how later) potential clients can see and know that they will be taken care of after they buy.

Repeat

At Duct Tape Marketing, we know that if you hold a customer’s hand for 90 days, you’ve kept them for life. Maybe the customer doesn’t need as much hand-holding. You can interact with them using social media to increase brand loyalty. If they post something related to the use of your product, respond and reach out. They’ll feel important to your business and want to continue to work with you.

Refer

Finally, you can use social media to not only get your customers to refer your business, but share those referrals with other potential clients. Ask your customers to tweet with a photo using your product, or post a picture of the completed service on Facebook. If you share and retweet those referrals and endorsements, you can reach an even larger audience than the individual networks of your customers.

Social media platforms are powerful tools to help you market your business. Knowing which behaviors your customers exhibit, and how to tap into those behaviors on social media are critical to having a successful social media plan.

Alex-Boyer-Photo-150x150-e1420769709443Alex Boyer is a Community Manager and Content Ninja for Duct Tape Marketing. You can connect with him on Twitter @AlexBoyerKC

How to Create the Perfect Customer Journey

photo credit: Reloj.cp via photopin (license)

photo credit: Reloj.cp via photopin (license)

The Marketing Hourglass is a powerful tool to map out your marketing efforts in a way that makes sense to everyone in your organization. Most marketers view the customer experience as a funnel, but we at Duct Tape Marketing know that the customer experience ideally goes beyond the point of sale.

Mapping it out in this way has helped many small businesses think about and improve upon their method of guiding customers. Having a game plan for your customers to know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat, and refer you is necessary to ensure your customers are taken care of across all levels of the customer journey.

Keeping tabs on how your brand is represented within the Hourglass mindset is equally important.   Follow the steps below to conduct your own Marketing Hourglass Brand Audit: 

Before you get started on the Marketing Hourglass:

Step 1: Define and sketch the makeup and personality of your ideal clients

Step 2: Discover your perfect value proposition

Step 3: Brainstorm and document your vision and goals

Step 4: Create your brand personality that represents your culture statement

Step 5: Outline branding guidelines – ie colors, fonts, images, etc.

Step 6: Create a brand positioning statement including all the elements above

Once you complete the brand positioning statement, run through the following questions of the Hourglass to ensure your brand is consistent across all stages.  These questions are meant to get you started thinking through each stage. You may want to add more questions in as you go through the process.

Know

–       Do your ads communicate the brand positioning statement? Do they target and connect with your ideal clients?

–       Do your social media accounts have consistent images and messages?  Are they promoted on your website?

–       Are your guest post contributions targeted towards your ideal clients audience base?

–       Are your keywords consistent and focused on monthly themes?

–       Are your local directories complete with your core difference and branding guidelines?

–       Do you have a systemized plan to handle all referrals that come in?

Like

–       Do your print assets include your core message and brand personality?

–       Is your website consistent to your brand positioning statement and your writing style guide?

–       Do your logo and company name represent your brand positioning?

–       Do your business cards include your core difference?

–       Are your email signatures and tag lines consistent across your entire team?

–       Is your vision documented on your website for your ideal clients to relate to?

–       Is your website mobile responsive?

Trust

–       Are your newsletters consistent with your website branding?  Does the newsletter go out on a regular basis and include valuable content for your audience?  Is there an opt-in incentive for your newsletter?

–       Are your email campaigns consistent with you branding guidelines?

–       Do you follow monthly themes on your blog to establish your company as an expert on focused topics?

–       Do you regularly promote and monitor review sites?

Try

–       What is your free or trial offering?  How do you encourage people to sign up for the free trial?

–       Is your follow up for the free trial consistent with your brand positioning?

–       Do your PowerPoint presentations match your website branding?

Buy

–       What is your starter offering?

–       What is your core offering?

–       What is your members-only offering?

–       Do your contracts and invoices match your brand positioning statement?

–       Do you have a detailed new customer kit once someone signs on as a customer?  If so, does this follow your brand positioning?

Repeat

–       What are your add-ons to increase value?

–       What is your “make it easy to switch” offering?

–       What is your surprise gift to encourage repeat customers?

–       Do you have a targeted process to upsell to your current clients?

Refer

–       What are our strategic partner pairings?

–       How do you encourage your current customers to refer?  Do you share your ideal client personas?

–       Does your incentive for referrals tie in your branding and/or culture in some way?

The point of the hourglass metaphor is to get you thinking not only about how to generate and close deals but how to create the best possible experience as part of the plan.

Sara HeadshotSara Jantsch is the Director of Community at Duct Tape Marketing.  She is also a Marketing Consultant and has a strong passion for working with small business owners.  Interested in developing your own Marketing Hourglass with the Duct Tape team?  Click here to learn why a Duct Tape Marketing plan my be perfect for your business. 

How Big Things Are Getting Done Today

Marketing Podcast with Erica Dhawan

There was a time when people toiled away in remote suburban garages hammering out their big idea. Many of the world’s greatest companies and innovations happened this way, but today there’s a decidedly different option available known as connectional intelligence.

Connectional intelligence, or the capability to consistently deliver breakthrough innovation and results by harnessing the value of relationships and networks, is being used by organizations to solve complex problems and innovate growth and may just be one of the most powerful ways to get really big things done today.

We see connectional intelligence at play in the way people connect with intention in social networks to build a business or create a wave of social change, but developing this form of connecting is something that organizations are just now learning how to tap for everyday innovations.

My guest for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is Erica Dhawan, a speaker, strategist and co-author of the book – Get Big Things Done: The Power of Connectional Intelligence

During our interview Dhawan shares a story of an organization that had a formulation problem with one if its products and although they employed a host of chemists they eventually decided to put the problem out to the science world and a physicist showed them that the problem wasn’t a chemical formulation one and they quickly solved the problem with his input.

For me, this concept is something that can inform any idea. I’ve developed a marketing system and brand and now taken that to other independent marketing consultants as way spread this idea. The thing I’ve learned is that the connectional intelligence of the group, as it grows, is surely making the idea better as well as bigger.

Now that we have the tools to connect so easily around the world, the key is to get very, very intentional about building the highest quality relationships around your big ideas.

Some of the questions I asked Erica:

  • What is connectional intelligence?
  • What are some ways people can activate their connectional intelligence?
  • How do you create connectional intelligence internally within your organization?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • How to connect with people in order to get big things done
  • How businesses leverage this idea of connectional intelligence to build trust
  • How our understanding of connectional intelligence will change the way businesses operate in the future

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast was brought to you by VeriSign and the Make Your Idea Internet Official Contest. Register a new .COM domain name with a participating registrar during the contest entry period and enter for an opportunity to win up to $35,000! Learn more about the contest and its rules at www.verisigncontest.com

 

How You Turn Your Employees Into Brand Marketers

Think for a minute about your best customers. Not only do they represent returning business, but the best customers refer you to their family, friends and business partners. They rate your business highly on Google and interact with you in social networks. Essentially they are marketers for your business, helping promote you and maximizing your marketing efforts. Everyone can use more customers like these.

Brand Ambassadors

photo credit: via photopin (license)

But your best customers are hard to come by, and even the best companies occasionally have customers that aren’t happy. What if I could tell you there is a surefire way to increase your number of people that are assisting your marketing efforts, much like your ideal clients?

Look around you, all of your employees are resources that you can use to maximize your marketing efforts. We at Duct Tape Marketing believe in many simple principles, one of which is that marketing is everyone’s job. Whether you are in finance or HR, you’re representing and marketing your company. It doesn’t even take a conscious effort; just a positive viewpoint on where you work goes a long way.

That is why you should engage your employees and co-workers in your marketing efforts. Your employees should be your best customers and your biggest fans. Here are some easily implemented ways you can engage your employees and turn them into your brand marketers.

Promote a Positive Work Environment

This seems like a no-brainer, but can be difficult to achieve. You want your employees to love working for you, so they can’t wait to tell their friends and family about what you do and what makes your company special. Create a positive work environment by offering great perks or promoting after-work activities. If you’re a product-based company, offer free or discounted products to your employees and their family and friends. Even something as simple as branded T-Shirts or coffee mugs for your employees can turn into conversations outside of the workplace.

Show Your Employees What It Is Like To Be your Customer

At Duct Tape Marketing, we ask companies to examine their customer journey; the path every customer takes from the moment they discover your product through the sale and post-sale support. Visually, this should look like an hourglass; customers get to know, like and trust your company before buying, and then eventually repeating and referring you.

I suggest you walk each and every one of your employees through this process, treating them exactly as you would any other customer. That way, your employees will not only know what makes your customer journey special, but also how to describe it to anyone who asks. You can even do this during the new employee on-boarding process.

Social Sharing

Businesses are always looking for ways to keep their employees from wasting time on social media, but are always looking for more social sharing of their business posts. Why not ask your employees to follow and share your social media posts? Not only is this a great way to expand your audience in general, it hones in on your employees’ friends and family who are likely to have a positive existing view of your company.

Have Everyone Blog

Blogs are a great way to draw in good leads, but sometimes it can be tough to create enough content to keep your blog up-to-date. Try asking your employees to assist you in writing posts, or even set up a monthly or weekly employee post program. Regular blog posts from your employees can help give your blog a different viewpoint and voice while strengthening your readers’ connection to your company. In addition, ask your employees to share their posts with their friends and family in person or on social media.

These are just some simple thoughts I had to turn your employees into marketers. I know many of these reasons are why I love working at Duct Tape Marketing. Have you had any employee marketing efforts that have been effective? Let me know in the comments below!

Alex-Boyer-Photo-150x150-e1420769709443Alex Boyer is a Community Manager and Content Ninja for Duct Tape Marketing. You can connect with him on Twitter @AlexBoyerKC

How to Maintain a Consistent Brand Identity Across Social Networks

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing – enjoy this post from Xavier Davis

When social media marketing first began it was rather easy to maintain a consistent brand identity. This was due in large part to the fact that there were only a few social networks. Oh, how things have changed! Today it is common, if not necessary, for business to be active on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google+, Youtube — just to name a few. Each one of these networks provides businesses access to a unique demographic of current and potential customers.

The strategies required to excel on each of these networks is very different, which creates a dilemma. How can a business maintain a consistent brand identity while active on several, very different, social networks? We are going to dive into this dilemma and figure out how to master a consistent brand identity on social media!

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 3.28.27 PM

Understanding your business’s audience is the most important aspect of social media marketing success. It is nearly impossible to have any success if you are blindly posting without first understanding who your audience is, why they are following you and how your business can bring value to them. Imagine putting on an amazing heavy metal rock concert only to find out the audience was hoping to hear classical music. It is also important to keep in mind the audiences for each social network are different. For example, LinkedIn users will expect content to be more professional than Twitter users. Sharing the same content, but in a form that is appropriate for the specific network is crucial for success.

Create a Familiar Look

Before you even worry about posting, make sure your business looks the same on your different social networks. Each social network has a different layout, but make sure items such as your profile image and bio are consistent. If possible, your social accounts should be consistent with your company website as well.

Choose a Brand Voice

How will your business interact? Will you use a lot of humor? Respond using we or I? There is not a right or wrong way to approach brand voice, other than it should be consistent. Your brand’s voice should also reflect your business as a whole. Social media is about showing off who your business is, so try to embody it in your voice. Understanding your audience should also make it easier to decide what type of voice your brand should have. Do you have a favorite business you follow on social media? Study their brand voice and see if you can apply aspects of it to your brand’s social media presence.

Post Consistently

Creating a consistent brand identity requires consistent posting habits. Sounds like a no brainer, right? Nothing hurts a business more than creating social media accounts and then not posting to them. If a potential customer searches for your business on Facebook and sees that you have not posted in a month, they could easily assume you went out of business. Terrible, right? Investing in a social media management tool will help you to plan out posts ahead of time and make sure that your brand is posting consistently.

Repurpose Content 

Time is such a crucial asset for small businesses. Repurposing content WILL save you time! Repurposing content is taking existing content and putting a spin on it. Most of the time required for creating content is spent researching facts, finding relevant pictures, etc. Why put in all that work and then only use it once? Review some of the content you have already created and see if you can repurpose it! One example would be turning a text-based blog post into an infographic. You can use all the same statistics, but visual content will resonate with a new audience. Another example would be turning that epic “List of Amazing Facts About…” blog post you wrote into smaller, more in-depth posts.

Final Thoughts

Being consistent at anything in life requires proper preparation, active experimentation and commitment by everyone that is involved. Make sure anyone that will be a part of your social media efforts is trained to understand how to maintain your business’s identity. When a business is noticeably consistent, customers begin to trust them and want to buy from them!

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 3.31.48 PMXavier Davis is the Social Media Superhero at eClincher, a single platform which allows businesses to efficiently manage and track social media and website activities with insightful, actionable, and meaningful real-time reports. Companies can view, plan, manage and analyze social media activity and online advertising campaigns and, crucially, understand the impact of that activity on the business website. When Xavier takes off the cape, he can be found watching basketball, playing Xbox or enjoying the outdoors.

What Internet Marketers Know That You Don’t

I use the term “Internet Marketer” in the title here in a less than flattering way. There are certainly those who make a living selling products and services via the Internet that deliver real value, but many “info and Internet” marketers also prey on people’s fears, hopes and irrational dreams to pedal worthless junk over and over again.

photo credit: Jungle Jim’s

However, what these folks know that you don’t is that you don’t necessarily need the best product, you don’t have to create a revolutionary innovation, you don’t have pile on more and more services and features and you certainly don’t have to slash prices to compete.

No, what Internet marketers know that you don’t is that all you really need is better marketing.

I’m not suggesting that you aim for inferior and worthless products and services, but I am suggesting that focusing on better marketing from top to bottom is more important than trying to improve or enhance your products and services right now.

In fact, if you were to find a way to sell more of what you’ve got you could confidently raise your prices and invest in making the best product known to mankind, but not until your fix your marketing.

I’ll go as far as to suggest that you might not even want to create a product or service until you’ve figured out how to effectively market it.

What Internet marketers know that you don’t is that:

  • You have to focus on the narrowest market possible
  • You have to get personal
  • You have to slay your prospect’s demons
  • You have to get them emotionally involved in a solution
  • You have to draw them in with a story of hope
  • You have to focus on building and segmenting better lists
  • You have to write better headlines
  • You have to write better bullet points
  • You have to write better calls to action
  • You have to offer better social and tangible proof
  • You have to offer free that is better than most paid
  • You have to engage your prospect through multiple forms of content
  • You have to move your prospect with little steps
  • You have to give them reasons to act today
  • You have to create scarcity and exclusivity around your offers
  • You have to introduce increasing levels of engagement
  • You have to create opportunities to involve your community in sharing
  • You have to build a team of partners and make it easy for them to promote your offers
  • You have to follow-up consistently, predictably and repeatedly
  • You have to monitor, measure, analyze, test and refine everything you do

Now, you can use these steps to manipulate and do evil things in support of false promises, hopes for riches and worthless products.

Or, you can use these steps to create awareness, build trust and move people to investing in products and services that deliver immense value, but either way, what you really need is better marketing.

The 3 Essential Elements of Successful Content Marketing

I’m taking some vacation time this week and I’m actually going to stand waist deep in the Columbia River in Oregon and cast for Trout. (Don’t worry I won’t hurt any I’m strictly a catch and release kind of guy.)  While I am away, I have a great lineup of guest bloggers filling my shoes.  This post is brought to you from Sonia Simone.

Sonia Simone is co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Copyblogger Media. Come find her on the Copyblogger blog, where she writes extensively about content marketing for small business.

I don’t care how big or how small your business is.

If you’ve been thinking about content marketing, one issue probably keeps cropping up.

Let’s face it … this would all be a whole lot easier if it wasn’t for that pesky content.

What makes content “good”? What’s the difference between content marketing and just writing an entertaining blog? And can content really be the backbone of a serious marketing plan?

Let’s get very clear … not all content serves a marketing purpose. If you want to build a strong business around content, you need three key elements.

Here are my choices for the three key components of effective content marketing:

#1: Make it entertaining

The biggest mistake businesses make with content is the assumption that the audience actually finds their business interesting.

No one owes you their attention. You have to earn it.

That means your content (and all the rest of your marketing) needs to become relentlessly focused on the desires and needs of your customers.

That means you write content that’s entertaining and interesting. Content that benefits the reader — often by solving a problem she might have, or possibly by giving her a good laugh.

You make sure your formatting is audience-friendly. No one wants to read long, unbroken paragraphs, even if the writing is top-notch. Use plenty of subheads, white space, and a clear, legible font that’s large enough to be read by someone over the age of 12.

And if headlines aren’t your strong suit … fix that. You don’t have to be clever — clarity is much more effective. Be sure the headline communicates how the reader will benefit from reading that piece of content.

#2: Make it strategic

Not all entertaining, readable content will move a prospect closer to becoming a customer.

It doesn’t matter how many Facebook “Likes” you have, if you’re not communicating the benefits of doing business with you.

This is where your copywriting skills will pay off. You don’t actually have to be able to put the words together yourself — but you need to understand the underlying strategic elements of copywriting.

That means you know the difference between benefits and features — and your content focuses on the benefits of your product or service.

It means you know how to overcome your most common objections.

It means you understand social proof, calls to action, your unique selling proposition … and you use these elements in your content.

You don’t need to cram every copywriting element into a single piece of content, and you probably shouldn’t. Content should look like content, not advertising.

But it still serves a strategic purpose.

To borrow a phrase from classic sales training, your content exists to get prospects to know, like, and trust you. (Duct Tape readers know this is the top half of the marketing hourglass.)

That high-quality experience is what paves the path to a sale.

#3: Make it shareable

Did you get sucked into the “social media marketing” buzzfest over the last few years?

Well, social media marketing (when it’s effective) is content marketing. Banner ads and promoted tweets can’t hold a candle to strong content. And social media is typically the most cost-effective way to carry content right to the prospects you’re looking for.

Take a look at what Oreo did last weekend by posting a single piece of visual content to Facebook. It’s generated publicity (overwhelmingly positive, despite some rumblings for a boycott) that even Kraft/Nabisco couldn’t buy.

Social media is a terrific venue for getting your entertaining, strategic content shared. The specifics change somewhat year to year — this year’s hot spots are Facebook and Twitter, next year we may be looking at different platforms.

But the essential strategy remains the same. Look at how your prospects and customers share the type of content you’re creating … then make it easy and enjoyable for them to actually share it.

How about you?

Is content marketing an important part of your business? What elements do you consider essential to a successful program?

Let us know in the comments …

Image credit: npmeijer

Author of Word of Mouth Marketing Visits Referral Week

This post is a special Make a Referral Week guest post featuring education on the subject of referrals and word of mouth marketing and making 1000 referrals to 1000 small businesses – check it out at Make a Referral Week 2010

Marketing podcast with Andy Sernovitz (Click to listen, right click and Save As to download – subscribe now via iTunes

Andy SernovitzAndy Sernovitz, founder of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) and author of Word of Mouth Marketing chatted with me for this special episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast.

    We covered a wide range of topics related to Word of Mouth Marketing such as:

  • The difference between referrals and word of mouth
  • How word of mouth happens
  • How to create word of mouth campaigns
  • Simple examples of small businesses word of mouth success