The MadAveGroup Blog

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Thursday, 03 December 2009 12:05

Can You Legally Record Business Phone Calls?

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If you record incoming or outgoing phone calls for order confirmation, training purposes, or any other reason, you may need to make every person on the call aware. Read this piece from MarketingProfs Get To The Point B2B Marketing email:

"This call may be monitored for training purposes." We've all heard that message, or something similar, when calling for tech support or customer service. Generally, we accept it. But what if your company prefaced its outbound B2B sales calls with this kind of disclaimer?

"This call may be recorded for the purpose of quality assurance and quota attainment."

Ouch. Talk about a deal-breaker. But in a recent post at the Acquiring Minds blog, Robert Lesser warns that this type of message may actually be necessary for B2B companies marketing to companies in states like California. "[I]t is illegal under California law to call-record and call-monitor without the consent of all parties on the call," he says. More bad news: "There are 11 other states that require this consent from all parties on a call."

To help B2B cold callers avoid such legal pitfalls, Lesser recommends alternatives to call-recording for training and marketing purposes. Among them:

Role-play. "If the goal is to train and coach inside sales, role playing is preferable to recording calls," Lesser says. Best solution of all? Ask a loyal client to play a role. "We have found this to be invaluable, given the rich feedback provided instantaneously by the customer," he adds.

Measure results, not call activity. "Rather than measuring the activity (i.e., conversations), focus on measuring the results (qualified, sales-ready leads; pipeline impact; closed sales)," he advises. Consider interviewing some of the prospects who "leaked from the [sales] funnel" to see if their needs were properly addressed, he suggests.

The Po!nt: Play it safe. The pitfalls of recording telephone conversations with B2B prospects may far outweigh the benefits. Consider safer alternatives like these to assess leads, and to train and analyze your sales team.

Thursday, 03 December 2009 11:25

'Tis the Season for Giving

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And in the spirit of the holidays, BusinessVoice will be donating at least $500 to Ronald McDonald House Charities. You can help us double that amount! We'll donate another $5 for every new Facebook fan we add through December 24th up to $1,000. (We have 63 fans now.)

Learn more about RMHC:, and become a fan here, or by searching BusinessVoice on Facebook.

I was looking for client commericals on YouTube today and stumbled across this bit of food for thought. It cleverly addresses the fundamental communication problems with advertisers and consumers and the unpleasant aftermath that can result.

The days of advertising are behind us. Not that we should abandon our glossy ads, slick television spots and fun radio promotions. It's just that advertising is a one-way conversation. These efforts should be part of an overall marketing plan that helps us develop two-way communication with our audience.

Today's audiences need to be engaged and feel like they have an advocate. We have to reach them on their terms, where they spend their time. But it's not enough just to be there. We have to relate to them, understand them and offer them something relevant, whether it's content, goods, or services.

Most importantly, we have to have a dialogue with them - make it easy for them to contact us and leave feedback. (Don't fear bad feedback. That's what really helps us grow into the business our audience wants us to be.) And then we need to address each comment, complaint and request. That's the only way we'll create brand ambassadors who are happy to sing our praises.

Thursday, 10 September 2009 11:22

Literally, an Historic List of Grammar Pet Peeves

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Grammar Pet Peeves Those of us who write for a living are faced with grammatical challenges every day, and we all have our pet peeves about common mistakes that we see - usually in "other" people's work. The scribe who goes by the pen name Johnny Truant has compiled a handful of these in 5 Grammar Mistakes That Make You Sound Like A Chimp on Copyblogger.Com. You should read them all, but here are two of my favorites from Johnny: First, the use of "an" before the word "historic."

If you’re bristling at this one, ask yourself if you’d say, “an horse” or “an house.” What would people think if you went into the store and said, “I’ll have an half gallon of milk, please”? You can and should use “an” if the H is silent and the word starts with a phonetic vowel, like “an hour.” Otherwise, go with “a” as the article.
And a violation that occurs regularly in print and in everyday speaking - the misuse of the word "literally."  He says:

I collect “literally” mentions. Britney Spears has been “literally on a roller coaster to hell.” Crowds have “literally turned the city upside down.” And in a particularly grisly turn of events, a mall Santa reported that needy, sad children “literally tear his heart out.” Whenever you use “literally,” stop and think about whether or not what you’re saying is actually true, in those exact words. If it’s not, use “practically,” “essentially,” or (ideally) “metaphorically” instead.

Okay, that's a good start. Now what are some of your favorite grammar faux pas?

Thursday, 03 September 2009 18:23

Providing a Great Customer Experience Pays!

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Think there's not enough to gain by investing in customer service and providing a great experience for customers at every touchpoint? Think again. In an August 5th article in Progressive Grocer, Stacy Straczynski shows the kind of return you can expect...

In spite of the recession, consumers will pay a higher price for better customer service. More than 70 percent of consumer said they would be willing to spend an additional 10 percent or more if a company exceeded their expectations, per a Strativity Group study released this week.

One-third of the 2,000 North Americans polled between April 13, 2009 and May 4, 2009 were willing to pay 25 percent or more for exceptional customer service. Satisfied customers were three times more likely to repeat their business for at least another 10 years. Those who had a negative experience were 10 times more likely to cease doing business with the company within 12 months.

The top drivers contributing to customer experience were centered on employee interaction. Resolving problems effectively, exhibiting common sense, and instances where employees exceeded expectations topped the list. “The initial assumption that we had was that customer loyalty is dead, that the only loyalty is to price,” said Lior Arussy, CEO of Rochelle Park, N.J.-based Strativity. “But it’s not only about price sensitivity. The verdict from the consumers is very clear: if we see an exceptional customer experience, we’ll pay more for it, we’ll stay longer, and we’re going to give you more business.” That’s not to say jilted customers can’t be lured back: a little more than half (52 percent) of respondents said they’d only be willing to continue their business if a discount of 5 percent or more was offered.

When you think about shopping at your favorite retailer, what things move you about the experience? Is it the way the staff treats you? The products they sell? What about the way your purchases are packaged?

In writing a new On Hold Marketing script for a client who specializes in retail packaging, appropriately named Packaging Specialties, it struck me that packaging is an essential component of the brand’s value and an intrinsic part of a shopper’s experience.

Take Tiffany & Co. for example. It doesn’t matter what’s in that light aqua colored box tied with the white satin-faced ribbon. You know instantly that it came from Tiffany & Co. and that it will be special. But what if their packaging was a plain white cotton-filled box? There’s no magic in that presentation.

Think now about the purchases you’ve made recently. Have you bought groceries? Clothing? Jewlery? Your groceries were probably packaged in a generic two-handled plastic bag printed with the store’s logo and/or slogan, just like every other big-box store. There's no magic in that generic plastic bag. My favorite neighborhood grocer offers paper bags, and I don't even recall if the bags feature the store's logo. ButI love those paper bags because they remind me of grocery shopping with my mom in the days before plastic became the popular, if not the only, option.

Those simple brown bags reinforce the notion that Churchill's is a simple neighborhood grocer - a place where you might not be able to get exotic spices, but where the cashier knows your name and remembers that you like apples. When you’re planning your packaging program, think about the nature of your business and the types of products you sell. Focus on how you want your customers to feel. For luxe clothing boutiques, structured boxes, coordinating tissue and shiny Euro-totes with ribbon handles may fit the packaging bill. Natural fiber bags printed with soy inks might be perfect for your organic beauty store.

These days, if you can think of it, someone can put your logo on it, so be thoughtful. Choose packaging that will make an impact and help your customers remember why they choose your store.

Sunday, 16 August 2009 04:38

What's In A Name, SEO-Wise?

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When optimizing our web site title bars for search engines, we were faced with the choice of spelling our company name correctly as one word - "BusinessVoice" - or breaking it up into two words - Business Voice.

Theoretically, the two-word version would help us rank higher in a greater percentage of natural searches, but, as one of the "keepers of the brand," I wasn't willing to bastardize our name, no matter what the SEO consequences.

Have you had a similar experience when marketing online? If so, how did you handle the need to present your company and brand consistently with the desire to maximize the pull to your web site?

Wednesday, 22 July 2009 05:26

You're Unbelievable!

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It was a great song in the early 90s, and it could be a nice compliment, but it's the last thing you want someone to say about your marketing message. Marcia Yudkin agrees. In this morning's issue of "The Marketing Minute, " she expresses her disbelief over an advertiser's magazine ad copy.

"Oh, come on!"

That was my reaction on reading this, in the second paragraph of a full-page magazine ad: "[Company name] is virtually the only franchise brand committed to providing genuinely nutritious and delicious products." This couldn't be true, I thought. When you make a preposterous claim, it taints everything else you say.

Am I willing to let that statement pass and believe that this company's food is low-calorie, gluten-free and full of probiotics? No. In marketing, it can be worse to say something unbelievable than something untrue. If you have a claim that's hard to believe, simply saying it doesn't convince. You must either explain how it's true, provide third-party proof, or back-pedal it to a more believable statement. Don't expect weasel words like "virtually" to bail you out with a skeptical reader.

To check my instinctive response, before writing this piece, I searched Google for "healthy food franchise." As I'd suspected, dozens of companies show up in that category. "One of America's fastest growing new brands" (so they say) is rapidly shooting itself in the foot.

For starters, who places an ad with two paragraphs of copy? Very few people are going to read that. And by very few, I mean only people whose flights have been sitting on the tarmac for three hours, after they've run out of things to read and their cell phones have died.

Marcia's right. When you say something that, while true, may be hard to believe, you have to do more than just say it. You have to PROVE it. State facts and verifiable truths and you will position your business as a trustworthy, reliable company.

And instead of pigeon-holing yourself into the same category as your competitors, focus on a unique aspect of your business, and build your brand and marketing messages around that. It's the best way to differentiate yourself.

Billboard_croppedBetween email, text messaging, blog comments, and other forms of social media, the rules of the English language have taken a serious beating over the last few years. Punctuation is out, abbreviations are in, and many Americans, including some marketers, are having a hard time putting together a decent sentence.

What's the big deal? Stick with me. There's a larger point.

I've read in several places that, when engaging in social media, we needn't be as concerned with the formalities of the language. Maybe. But I lean toward the belief that, when presenting your company to the public through your marketing copy, it's always important to make sure you're using the language properly.

That brings me back to one of my pet peeves: the improper use of the adjective "everyday" and the phrase "every day." (Read my first post on this subject here.) I know I should take up a more exciting hobby, but over the last few years I've collected several examples of this misuse. One is pictured above ("59 cents everyday").

Here's the rule: "Everyday" (one word) is an adjective. Example: These are my everyday shoes. "Every day" (two words) is an adverbial phrase. Example: I go to work every day.

And here's the larger point I promised. True, many people won't notice if you've made the error, but many people may. Those who do might wonder, "If this company is careless about the messages it puts in front of the public, what other details do they ignore when no one is looking?" Is that really the question you want prospective customers asking themselves after reading your marketing copy?

Monday, 13 July 2009 08:39

The 5 W's of Effective Copywriting

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We recently welcomed a new Creative Consultant to our staff and, as part of the training process, we staged mock client interviews. I was asked to role-play as the representative from a local credit union, and the new colleague called me to discuss what should be in their next On Hold Messaging update.

In a post-call review, I came up with a list of suggestions for this kind of interview. Just like our journalistic brethren, we copywriters should ask, "Who, What, Where, When and Why," but with a focus on marketing goals.

With this in mind, here are my 5 W's of Effective Copywriting:

WHO can you target for a special focus in your content? (For the credit union, it could have been prospective car buyers, college students in search of a tuition loan, shoppers looking for a better deal on a credit card, homeowners in need of an equity loan, etc.)

WHAT specific product(s) or service(s) can you spotlight? (i.e., auto loans, checking accounts, online banking, financial planning services, etc.)

WHERE can you direct your audience in a call to action? (i.e., Stop in today and talk with us; Stay on the line and ask for more information; Visit our website to apply; Watch for our mailer; Fill out the form that's coming in your next statement; Look for our ad, etc.)

WHEN will any other marketing pieces or promotions be running that can work hand-in-hand with this copy? And with every topic you should always ask:

WHY should your customers care about this? If there's not an obvious answer - or you can't find an angle that's important to the customer - your content is probably self-serving and should be dropped.

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