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Tuesday, 16 December 2014 23:54

It's Story Time

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Storytelling is an effective way to connect with your customers. It allows you to share your brand's core values with a much softer sell. And, when done well, your stories are more likely to be actively shared. That reduces your need for paid media.

Take a look at the heartwarming story UPS tells in the video above.

It doesn't focus on how many packages they deliver every day or brag about their logistics system. Instead, it tells the story of one little boy and the special day he had because of the company's efforts.

And, as of the date of this post, the video has been watched more than 2.5 million times on YouTube alone.

UPS also invites its audience to become a part of the story by sharing their own wishes. And each time someone uses the hashtag #WishesDelivered, UPS donates $1 to a charity.

You can tell stories about your business, too. With memorable, authentic content, you can encourage an emotional connection between your brand and your customers, all without using a single stat or tag line.

Make 2015 the year you start to tell your story.

RELATED POST: Marketing to Your Future Employees

Monday, 24 November 2014 13:08

The Power of Aroma

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The Power of AromaThe start of the "gift-giving season" reminded me of one of my favorite videos from last Christmas.

Check this out. It delivers strong evidence of how a smell can trigger memory, evoke emotions, and transport us instantly to a different place or time.

While watching the video, think about your company or brand. Could it benefit by making a deeper connection with your customers?

During this hectic, competitive time - and all year long, for that matter - would you like your brand to stand out more in the minds and memories of your customers?

For an increasing number of brands, a signature scent is an important element of that type of differentiation. Learn more about Aroma Marketing.

RELATED POSTS: Another Way to Stand Out From the Crowd
SensoryMax Named 2014 Scent Marketer of the Year

Old School Phone SkillsMany of the tools you use to distribute your marketing messages - email, websites, social media, etc. - are much different than those employed by marketers 60 years ago.

Yet, the purpose of your messages is probably the same as those of past generations. Engage your audience. Address a need. Create an urge. Offer a solution. Communicate your value. Differentiate your brand.

In other words, the delivery methods may change, but the goals really don't.

The same goes for how you and your staff should treat callers.

You might not identify with a rotary-dial, desktop landline telephone from 1952, but the same basic phone skills and etiquette that were important back then are still important today. Maybe even more so.

See a few specific examples of how your grandfather's telephone skills still work today in this BusinessVoice blog post.

Forty-five years ago today (October 1, 1969), singer Loretta Lynn recorded "Coal Miner's Daughter," a true-to-life song about her childhood in eastern Kentucky during the 1930s and '40s.

The song was a number one country hit in the U.S. and Canada by the end of 1970, and is arguably the most famous page in her extensive songbook. But more importantly, "Coal Miner's Daughter" has defined Loretta Lynn's personal brand ever since its release.

It served as an inspiration for her 1976 autobiography, as well as the 1980 movie based on that book and the film's soundtrack. The title is on her tour bus and above the entrance to her home. Each time she walks on stage, she's introduced as The Coal Miner's Daughter, and it's that song that ends each one of her concerts.

Whether she set out to write a theme for herself or not, the song resonates with listeners because it's true, and people feel that! There's no pretense. No attempt to impress anyone with fancy lyrics. It just tells her story, and makes her immediately sympathetic and relatable in 2 minutes and 58 seconds. (It also happens to be a great record!)

So, what's your brand's story? The real story, not a mission statement concocted in a conference room and loaded up with marketing-speak.

Are you staying true to that story? Sharing it wherever you can? Living it?

Then, think how your story can serve as a compass when considering everything from what you make and how you make it, to who you hire, how you cultivate your corporate culture, which causes you support, and, of course, how you market.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014 00:16

Is Your Company Considering VoIP?

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Limitations of VoIPSometimes, even the most obvious choices don't turn out to be the best choices a bit further down the road.

Take VoIP, for example. It stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol. Basically, it's a method of delivering telephone calls via the Internet.

For many years, VoIP has had a lot of I.T. and operations folks excited. Unfortunately, VoIP can also reduce the benefits that the Sales and Marketing departments derive from the phone system.

If you work in marketing and your company is considering VoIP, please protect your own interests. Take a look at this post on the BusinessVoice blog called "3 Things to Look for When Switching to VoIP," and then became part of your organization's conversation about VoIP.

RELATED POSTS: Questions and Objections
VoIP May Affect Your Marketing and Customers' Experience

How many fireworks displays have you seen? A couple dozen? Maybe 50?

But have you ever experienced fireworks like this? 

You've probably seen more than a few piles of junk too, right? In a scrap yard, on a city street, even in your own garage. But did you ever think a junk pile could look like this?

The lesson: If you want to see something differently, change your point of view.

  • When you're charged with finding a unique solution for customers, first imagine yourself in their shoes. What would you want if you were one of your company's customers?

  • If you need to create advertising that encourages your audience to act, start by considering why they wouldn't act. What are their possible objections to your product or offer, and how can you overcome them?

  • Rather than asking the same standard questions, ask seemingly unrelated questions. The answers may lead you to new insight and an entirely unexpected approach or solution.

  • Talk with a whole new set of people for input or inspiration.

  • Work in a dramatically different physical environment today.

  • Begin even the most mundane task or project by asking "Is there a better way?"

Most people only see fireworks from the ground, but now you know how much more amazing they are when you can fly right through them.

Dare to change the way you look at everyday challenges and become the innovator who gives your team, your industry or even your world a new perspective.

RELATED POST: Want New Insight? Look For a New Point of View

The Marketing Lesson in Voicemail MessagesHave you ever had to listen to a voicemail message more than once because the person leaving the message rattled off his phone number too quickly for you to comprehend it?

I've had to replay dozens of messages for that reason.

I'm pretty sure most folks don't get hopped up on Mountain Dew and amphetamines before using voicemail. So, why do so many phone numbers seem to whiz by faster than we can process them? And what does any of that have to do with your marketing?

Part of the problem is that we - as recipients of the message - aren't familiar with the combination of digits in the phone number or their unique rhythm. So, if the caller gives his phone number as one steady, ten-digit stream, we'll need to reach for the replay button.

But if the caller breaks up his phone number into several bite-sized chunks - for instance, 866 (pause) 473 (pause) 97 (pause) 33 – and then repeats that sequence, we'll be more likely to hear it and jot it down correctly.

In other words, just because a sender knows the specific elements of his message doesn't mean a recipient will process and retain the message properly.

The same truth applies to your marketing.

You may know everything there is to know about your company, but if your marketing messages are too long, too technical, too detailed, or not created with the recipients in mind, you may leave your audience confused, disinterested and looking elsewhere for solutions.

Take a look at your marketing content. Do you gloss over authentic brand promises and the value you deliver to potential customers just because that information is so familiar to you?

That basic story about who you are and what you do needs to be told more often than you might suspect. And it needs to be told clearly, in those bite-sized chunks, and with your audience's perspective in mind.

Dont Thank Callers for HoldingIt's inevitable: you put callers on hold, whether it's to transfer them to another department or to buy time while you pull up some information they need.

And since you know your callers have to wait on hold now and then, you think it might make sense to use your On Hold Marketing to thank them for their patience and tell them how glad you are that they're willing to hold. 

Nice, right? Polite, right? Smart marketing, right?

Good intentions aside, it's not the best approach.

Take a look at this quick blog post on the BusinessVoice website. It's called "Why We Don't Thank Your Callers for Holding." You'll learn why our On Hold Marketing experts stay away from certain phrases. 

By the way, if your company's On Hold Marketing consists solely of the same "Thank you for holding" message repeated every 30 seconds or so, please consider the negative impression that makes on callers.

Let's talk about the ways we can provide your callers with useful information they can apply, while shortening their perceived hold times. Call 866/473-9733 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. at BusinessVoice.

Share the Good StuffDid you ever read a great blog post and think, "Hey, I've been saying that for years! I could have written that post for my own blog."

But you didn't write it.

Why? Probably because you didn't think the idea was important or special enough.

I had that same experience when I read Seth Godin's post on résumés called "References Available Upon Request."

In it, Seth advises ditching the self-serving objective at the top of your résumé, but including the sparkling testimonials you've collected from past managers or clients. Don't make potential employers ask for those references. They may not, which means they may never see your unique value.

In other words, give your audience information that will make it easy for them to choose you.

As I read Seth's post, I recognized the advice I had shared with others many times, but had never published in this blog. 

I'll bet your marketing suffers from the same type of problem.

You probably do something very special at your company. Maybe many things. But you don't recognize them as special or unique because you do them every day. You don't see the value in them – just like I didn't see the value in my advice about résumés, until I read it in someone else's blog.

If your marketing content is obvious or safe or trite or expected (like a typical résumé objective), you're blending in. You're not making it easy for your audience to choose you.

So, look around. Identify those unique "nuggets" that are so much a part of your culture you take them for granted. Share those qualities or practices or commitments with your audience. That's the good stuff. Use it to differentiate your brand in an authentic way.

RELATED POST: Apply the "No Kidding / Who Cares? Rule" to Marketing Copy

Please Say Thank YouIt seems that many people who work in retail have forgotten the phrase "thank you."

That's a shame. And it's a missed marketing opportunity.

When I'm handed something at a store – whether it's a sackful of drive-thru food, a snappy beige turtleneck, or that foxy new rake I had my eye on – I say thank you. Always.

But I find that most retail workers I encounter don't thank me for coming to their store, or for giving them money, or for supporting their job. They simply respond to my thank you with "no problem" or "sure thing" or "you bet."

Those colloquialisms can be friendly, but they don't replace the powerful words "thank you."

They don't reinforce a customer's value to your company. They don't say "we appreciate that you chose our business over our competitors."

I'll go as far to say that anything shy of a sincere "thank you" is lazy and detrimental to your brand, especially if you show happy, smiley employees in your TV commercials or on your website. Customers may perceive the disconnect between your brand identity and their real experience as a broken promise.

But when you encourage a culture that breeds proactively polite treatment of your customers, a lot of your marketing goals will take care of themselves. People will happily come back. And they'll spread your message for you through friends and online reviews.

What could be quicker, easier and less expensive than acknowledging each customer's decision to buy from you with a simple expression of thanks? And what other modest investment could pay better returns?

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