Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Capitalizing on your Triumphs

Those of us in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex are just now starting to come down from the excitement surrounding the Dallas Mavericks winning the NBA Championships. However, just a week or two later, the news is now shifting toward a possible NBA lockout for next season. The joy and hype of the win is already dimming quickly as the media turns to the next new big story.

Isn’t this so true in the business world as well? Besides, these big sports teams are actually big business as well. The amount of money made on this championship by a multitude of businesses is well into the millions.. But that money train is running out of track quickly and may have stopped thanks to attention being drawn to this breaking news story.

What does this have to with you and your business? When you hit a high, make sure you give the train plenty of track! Many businesses have huge gains during a quarter that they have a conference, large event or something newsworthy that brings them an extra boost in customers.

Let’s say some part of your business hits a sudden surge – like sales of Mavericks gear, a certain software package that gets a big push from a high profiles client, etc. As exciting as that rush may be, you have to be careful to not just ride the wave – have a plan for the end of the wave too.

  • Promote another product or service to those that are coming to you for the “surge” product or service
  • Market an ongoing maintenance package to go with the “surge” product or service
  • Market some other item that compliments the “surge” product
  • Create a team to follow up quickly and continue to follow up on an ongoing basis with the new clients you obtained through the “surge” product
  • Create a new marketing campaign that launches off the “surge” product

Having a product or service take off unexpectedly (or even if it is planned) and having a huge surge in sales for a period of time because of it is a wonderful thing – enjoy it! However, just make sure that you don’t sit back and let the momentum that item created die out. Capture it, spin it and use it to create a long term boost to your sales!

Monday, 20 June 2011

Is your head in "The Cloud"?

This blog was written for BrightBlue Marketing by: Bob Foster. Bob is founder of GlobalNow Inc; a provider of Global Reverse Logistics technicians and software in the US, LATAM and Asia Pacific markets.

I like clouds. I always have. My mother use to always tell me “my head was in the clouds”. I remember fondly those moments as a kid on a lazy summer afternoon lying on the cool grass and gazing up into the sky, imagining different characters created from the cloud formations…..dogs, cats, my wacky aunt with the crooked nose, etc.

Perhaps that is why I like the technology transformation to “the cloud”. With Steve Jobs announcing earlier this month Apple’s iCloud service; there seems no stopping this movement to using the cloud for both consumer and business needs. I just finished attending an informative Webinar from CRN on cloud computing (and Google cloud strategy), which pointed out that the Cloud market will hit $240 billion in 2020 (Forrester) and Cloud computing services is the top CIO priority in 2011 (Gartner).

Whether we are buyers or providers of technology (many of us are both), cloud based software and services transform the way we work, conduct business and in some cases make money. For instance, as part of our International fixed asset service, we uses cloud based portals to manage our technicians across the US, Latin America and Asia. This portal allows our technicians, managers and clients to rapidly communicate requirements and issues from anywhere in the world, using any device connected to the internet. This is critical, when real time communication among multiple stakeholders is critical to project success. As a provider, we offer cloud based software portals to mange reverse logistics. Although this market’s understanding of the benefits of cloud based solutions, I believe we need to continue to refine our selling proposition to reflect the harmony between cloud driven benefits and the core business benefits.

If you are a technology provider, how do you incorporate the cloud trend into your own offering? How do you market effectively? Below is some of my thoughts plus some insight from our partner BrightBlue Marketing:

  1. Realize that offering Cloud Services is a service opportunity, not a product opportunity

  2. Be specific with the cloud benefits to the client; that fits the common client issues faced by the client (such as my above example, the need for real time and documented communication)

  3. Clarify as needed for the market the nuances/differences within cloud solutions, such as just hosted applications vs. shared applications; and the possible related limitations

    Remember to emphasize the fundamental benefits of the applications/technology – such as reduced cost, improved customer service, rapid market penetration, etc. Thorough Knowledge of your customer’s specific business issues will become even more important as you offer cloud services.

And if you are a potential buyer of cloud based business technology, and you are not using SAAS or other cloud based solutions, then START. Understand the benefits by using a common cloud application (such as Google docs) and their limitations.

  1. Assess your other core business applications (such as asset management, ordering, etc. ) and determine what gains you may realize, such as reduced cost, richer functionality, more satisfied customers.

  2. Understand the possible trade off if you lose flexibility to completely customize if it’s a SAAS solution.

  3. Cut through both the marketing hype and unwarranted fear mongers. Listen to trusted resources. Do your homework and go to a trusted colleague for insight.

  4. Ensure your cloud solution adequately ALIGNS with your business requirement. For instance, if you need tremendous flexibility to manage and highly evolving sales process, maybe an in house CRM solution beats a more rigid cloud based solution.

Being a fan of clouds all my life, I’m looking forward to the tools and solutions that we bring to our clients as well as those we use from third party partners. But, I think there is no substitute for the Cloud experience of my childhood….I just hope the neighbors don’t panic when they see me laying on the grass in my backyard one summer evening - gazing into the cloudy sky.

Enjoy your own cloud experiences,


Bob Foster is founder of GlobalNow Inc; a provider of Global Reverse Logistics technicians and software in the US, LATAM and Asia Pacific markets. GlobalNow also owns Business Class Software Solutions, a separate offering that introduces cloud based applications to the business community.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Stay on your Own Bandwagon: Maintaining control over your online marketing presence

This blog is brought to you by BrightBlue Marketing team member, Anne Saulnier.

As a business owner or marketing professional, it's easy to get caught up in the latest social media trend, but it's important to focus more on your message and your overall strategy than the tools you use to deliver it.

This article will provide tips for using the latest marketing tools to drive targeted traffic back to your content in a format that you can track and control. Using this simple strategy, you can easily change and expand upon the tools you use to connect with your community without sacrificing the content you've worked so hard to create.

Here are three tips for staying on your own bandwagon:

  • Connect with people in social media settings that are already comfortable to them
  • Create a centralized blog on your own website
  • Use multiple Marketing channels to drive traffic to your content

It is essential to branch out and connect with your community in environments that they feel comfortable with, but social media outlets like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter do not need your help in driving additional traffic to their sites. If Facebook or LinkedIn ever follow in the footsteps of social networking sites like MySpace, you want to ensure that your overall Marketing communications do not suffer because all of your content is housed on a third-party site. By taking simple steps to maintain control over your materials, you can easily keep a diverse set of tools in your Marketing tool belt without fostering dependence on any one site.

Creating a blog on your own website is an excellent opportunity to centralize your content. Because a blog can support several multimedia formats, including embedded video, audio, images, and links, it's a logical headquarters for your subject matter expertise. It's also a great way to make sure your website remains dynamic by populating it with fresh content that provides value to your community. Opening up each post for comments also provides an additional avenue for starting conversations with your customers, prospects, and partners.

As an example, if you participate in online discussions or "Answers" on LinkedIn, you can post a summary of your thoughts in the thread and then link back to a relevant blog post that contains a more in-depth response.

This accomplishes a few things:

  • You connect with community members in an environment that is comfortable to them
  • You build credibility by openly sharing your subject matter expertise and by participating in the conversation
  • You drive additional traffic back to your own website if you've presented relevant, quality information that is of interest to the community
  • You create timely, dynamic content for your website for additional users to see even if they aren't connected with you on LinkedIn
  • You maintain an accessible archive of the content that will survive even if the third-party website does not

Happy blogging!

- Anne Saulnier

Monday, 6 June 2011

Ways to establish a following for your company using all Marketing and PR tools at your disposal

The Marketing Think Tank call is hosted each month by BrightBlue Marketing and Big Noise Communications. The call was facilitated this month by Andrea Lamarsaude of BrightBlue.

The following are the topics we discussed:

1. Should you focus on one social media tool or should you try and do it all?

· You should really stay somewhere in the middle.

· Have a balance (especially if you are just starting)

· Found out which tools your audience is listening to more than others.

· Don’t try to do everything because you don’t want to dilute your message too much over too many places

2. How do you narrow down where you want your following to come from?

· Track your followers with reporting tools and you can see who has signed up for what format

· Service for good reports, but pricey: radient6

· Service for free: Google Analytics has some effective tools

· Hootsuite Pro is good for a nominal fee

· Search for key words in your industry and see who is talking and active in your industry

· Search to find news that is relevant to your industry and see who is already out there writing and producing content that is getting the followers to engage in your industry

3. Once you have your following, how do you maintain it?

· You have to engage your followers

· Content has to be thought provoking and relevant to get them to engage with it

· Interact with your followers and start a dialogue

· Maintain that dialogue

· Have fun contests or polls to keep their interest

· Ask questions of your followers

· Be generous with them (in content/offers/tips) and your followers will be generous to you

4. What are the best ways to grow your Social Media audience?

· Find a way to let people know you have these avenues of communication

· Tweet about events you are attending that your followers are also attending

· Add your social media links in your signature block on all email correspondence

· Have a call to action saying “have you connected with me on LinkedIn, etc.”

· Quality is as important as quantity in followers – keep your target audience in mind

5. Can you obtain a following without a lot of budget?

· Social Media is free, but it does take time

· Focus your time by making your content very relevant to your audience

· You can set up a group of messages on something like HootSuite and schedule them to go out at regular intervals

· Focus on higher traffic times and/or days on the various social media outlets – Wednesdays are very high traffic times for Facebook and Twitter

· Comment on the social media outlets of others (clients, potential clients, others in your industry) so they see and hear you and have a reason to follow you as well

6. What are some ways to use PR to establish a following?

· Use social media to let people know about an interview you are involved in or a presentation you will be giving

· Let them know when and where they can see and hear you

· Get involved in a community effort (Race for the Cure, Red Cross, planting trees) and encourage your followers to be involved with you

7. What about more traditional marketing tools?

You will never eliminate the need for traditional marketing, but you need to blend traditional marketing channels with social media channels.

8. Are there ways to fuse traditional and social media marketing to establish your following?

· Educate your followers and point them to follow you in other media areas

· Give surveys, polls, point them to a web landing page for special online events, etc.

· Make them feel like you are talking to just them which you can do more with traditional marketing

· Educate your audience on how to use social media so they first have the ability to follow you

· Many of those in your audience may not know how to get involved with social media; however, they are afraid to admit it

Further Reading:

Which Social Media Channels Should Your Business use?

B2B Tech Marketing and Social Media - Which Social Media Channels Reach Tech Buyers

Do You Still Need Traditional Media for PR?

Incorporating Social Media Into Traditional Marketing Campaigns

Does Social Media Mean that Traditional Marketing is Obsolete?

How Social Media and Email Marketing Can Work Together?

The Facebook Marketing Toolbox: 100 Tools and Tips to Tap the Facebook Customer Base
By Inside CRM Editors

What Does PR Look Like in 2011?

Real-Time Marketing and PR: How to Instantly Engage Your Market, Connect with Customers, and Create Products that Grow Your Business Now?

How to Make Your PR & Marketing Believable