Posts Tagged ‘online marketing’

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Real Time Marketing is a Myth

March 24, 2014

here is the article I wrote for the march Issue of RSVP MN Magazine. It originally appeared here.debunked

It has been the hottest marketing jargon tossed about since Oreo jumped on an opportunity at the 2013 Superbowl when there was a power outage to let their audience know it was still “OK to dunk in the dark.” The tweet went viral and was the most retweeted post (15,000 retweets) by a brand during the Superbowl. Everyone was super excited, especially marketers. So much so that brands spent hundreds of thousands, and even millions, to be the brand with the Oreo moment at the 2014 Superbowl.

Company’s like Papa John’s, Doritos, Verizon, Jaguar, JC Penny, Butterfinger and Reese’s all tried to get into the real time game. They tried to post about plays as they happened or predict outcomes, really without much success. The winner apparently was the Esurance commercial after the Superbowl which announced a million dollar giveaway in exchange for retweeting a hashtag. While the benefits of buzz and awareness do have some value—more social media followers were gained—the bottom line, from Oreo to Esurance, is what has been the conversion of new business dollars from this? Something no one seems to want to measure.

There is of course a better tactic. I propose you do the one action on social media that actually could drive your business forward: perfect the art of real time listening. As of 2013, according to PEW Internet, less than 50 percent of brands and businesses monitor the online activity that mentions them. How can you ever respond to and service your audience if you are not listening to them on the channels they prefer to communicate?

The same PEW report also indicated that more than 90 percent of consumers using the internet for business transactions expect not only that the brands and businesses have a presence online, but that they can interact with them online as well. For too long social media’s focus and intrigue to the C-suite has been its potential to drive sales. The real value of social media though is the ability to perfect and enhance your customer service. There are three steps you can take this year to perfect your real time listening skills:

1. Monitor the channels where you have a presence.

You need to listen, engage and respond to followers on all of the social media accounts you have set up for your company. All of these channels have the ability to push notices to the person managing your account. There are even management tools that will pull all your accounts into one tool, such as HootSuite.

2. Monitor review sites and the general internet for mentions of your brand or business.

Whether you use free tools or hire an outside firm there are different levels of monitoring that can be done. For some brands 24/7 monitoring is needed. For others it can be a daily or weekly situation. The tools can provide you with information as frequently as you would like it to give you reports.

3. Integrate customer service into your social media team.

The final piece is the human element that can respond to the information gathered during the listening. Put into place guidelines for response to customer issues. Empower your team to take action to a certain point to satisfy your customers as quickly as possible, but also have a plan in place where problems that need escalation will receive attention in a timely manner. Larger corporations are forming communication command centers that can achieve this, or are outsourcing to firms that provide these services.

Real time marketing will have to be able to be measured as converted sales dollars if it will ever be successful. While we wait for that to happen, if you aren’t even participating in the conversations by listening to your channels, you will miss any opportunity that arises in those conversations. Are you listening?

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Thank You Marketing is Even More Important in the Digital Age

November 19, 2013

This article also appears in the November Issue of RSVP MN Magazine:  click here

Thank You Marketing is Even More Important in the Digital Age

By Christopher Lower, Director of PR and Communications, Sterling Cross CommunicationsRSVP MN MAG November Article

Mother taught you many things that are important to running a successful business, but the most important were those magic words that can get you anywhere: “Please” and “Thank You.” You remember those words, don’t you? With the days of “tightening the belt,” Return on Investment, and keeping your eye on the “prize” being the necessary realities of business, we’ve become so streamlined that many of the human elements of business such as relationship building have been stripped away. The addition of digital communications has added even another layer of disconnect to those human relations.

Corporations are seen as out of touch with their clients and customers. What if it didn’t have to be that way? What if you could value tangible results and intangible relationships? You actually can have your cake and eat it too if you go back to Mom’s advice.

Successful business owners need to build and nurture positive relationships with the three audiences that make it possible for them to be in business: their employees, current customers and future customers. Building those relationships is as simple as realizing one simple truth: each employee and customer thrives on personal recognition and gratitude.

A thank you that is memorable and meaningful goes miles toward establishing loyalty. Showing appreciation is particularly important for service businesses, as your customers don’t receive a tangible product that reminds them of your business the next time they are looking for a similar service. Thus, service businesses must focus on quality of execution and customer service to achieve brand differentiation.

Technology has changed much of the way we communicate with clients, but it can also be a great tool in your Thank You Marketing as well. How do you say Thank You currently? Do you give small gifts, gift cards, appreciation events? If so, technology can help you to streamline this.

Thank You Cards: Automate the sending of thank you cards, and follow up greeting and post cards with Send Out Cards. You can write and store unlimited cards and even set up multi-step mailing campaigns. While it does cost to join, it’s pretty reasonable. Best of all you can upload your own handwriting and each card is printed and mailed with a real stamp.

Flower/Candy Gift Giving: Need flowers delivered? There’s an app for that! Many florists such as FTD have mobile apps and even ordering kiosks in some high traffic offices to allow you to have flowers delivered globally. Websites like Psychic Flowers will even allow you to enter calendar events. The same is true with chocolates and candy gifts; there are many websites that will send candy, chocolates or cookies to your list.

Appreciation/Relationship building Events: A corporate “holiday party” was once the norm, but due to budget cuts, and/or fears of impropriety, they have been obliterated from corporate culture. In the day of emails, voicemails, etc., we have sterilized our relationships with our employees, vendors, and customers alike. We need to get back to putting a human face, voice and presence in our relationships – personal interaction. Corporate events have evolved as well. From team building enterprises, to group community service projects, there are many events that can be done with a positive outcome for a company. Technology can enhance these events, such as encouraging photo submissions from apps like Pinterest or Instagram to Scavenger hunts with apps like Foursquare, and invitations from companies like EventBrite.

Gift Certificates: Giving a gift certificate as an employee reward for a job well done or as incentive can say thank you in ways beyond a paycheck. Many websites like 7P Gifts will send out gift cards, and have multiple options of stores to choose from and cards for men and women.

Virtual Assistants: Finally, even if you don’t have the time to make sure the Thank You Marketing is done, there are many personal virtual assistant services out there who you can hire on retainer or on a project basis to get this done for you. Companies like eVirtual Services or Time Etc are two companies that offer Virtual Assistant Services Nationwide.

Thank you marketing is not a new concept – but how it gets done these days with technology is. We used to conduct business personally and usually with a handshake involved, meaning we actually met with our clients to seal the deal.  Mother always knew we’d succeed if we mastered certain social and business skills. Mother knows best.

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The Easiest and Quickest Line Item cut you can make to your Marketing Budget to save money in 2013

December 12, 2012
The Yellow Pages are dead. Cut the deadweight from your Marketing

The Yellow Pages are dead. Cut the deadweight from your Marketing

If there is one thing you should rush to do to stop any useless dollars being spent in your marketing budgets now and for the future is to end all money spent with Yellow Pages (yes including those that claim to be “online” these days). It is time to put these paper behemoths permanently in the recycling bins!

According to pewinternet.org, 14% Of the American Population even knows what the Yellow Pages are! 1% Of Americans will ever search for a business in the Yellow Pages. The Yellow pages of today are online business directories such as Google Places, Linkedin, Yelp, and Facebook. All of these sites have options for businesses to set up business accounts with a basic listing always being free of charge. There are of course customization and enhancements to your listings such as running optimized targeted advertising, posting product photos, and video.

The traditional Yellow Pages companies have made the migration online, and Qwestdex (Dexonline) seems to be the most aggressive and capable, yet there is a major problem. They are extremely far behind these other platforms in the areas of SEO. It is rare to find unpaid Dexonline listings ever appearing in the top ten listings on Google for a business. I would love to revisit them in the future, as I am always rooting for businesses to reinvent themselves to survive in the new economy. For now, when it comes to Yellow Pages advertising in any way shape or form, my advice is that from the one-hit-wonder band of the 80’s;  Slade and their song “Run Runaway!”

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The One Thing You Have To Do To Your Website In 2013

December 10, 2012

I am constantly being asked by clients and panels that I am speaking on, about how to prioritize the very limited budgets that are being forecasted for 2013 when it comes to what they can do for marketing that will give them the greatest ROI without costing an arm and a leg. Here is my best advice for 2013:

It’s no longer “good enough” to have a website and to be found on the internet. That website you invested good money into building and maybe even rebuilt once or twice in the last five years is obsolete. Visitors to your site are leaving in droves, or not even finding your site in the first place. Is it because of a lack of SEO (search engine optimization)? No. It is because you can’t be found on mobile devices.

Up until 2011 most website designers designed websites to be viewed on a 15” or larger sized computer monitor or screen. 90% of today’s Smart Phones (phones with the ability to access the internet) come with standard 2”x 3”screens, so at most, they are seeing as tiny portion of your website or your whole website in a micro-size.

Why is this so important?

According to pewinternet.org, in 2012 half of all American Adults (ages 18-60) will access the internet only through a Mobile Device such as a cellphone or tablet.

Mobile User's Frustrations

Mobile User’s Frustrations

When a mobile user visits a standard website and has a negative experience:

  • Most, over 61%, never come back
  • Almost all the rest, nearly 40%, go to YOUR competitor’s site

The top complaints of mobile users about websites are:

  • It takes forever to download.
  • It doesn’t fit on the screen.
  • The text is too small.
  • I can’t navigate the interface.
  • I have to pinch & zoom to view anything.
  • It takes too much time to use

So, what can be done to correct this? At Sterling Cross we have been researching these issues and at the request of our clients we have come up with a solution we have now added to our service offerings for 2013 and beyond! We’ve met with and surveyed over 12 of the top local, regional, and 2 national web design firms to create a solution that can meet the needs of our clients, whether they are looking for the most cost effective solution or as part of a redesign of their entire site.

The number one recommendation from almost every single website company was to do a complete website redesign and incorporate “responsive” technology where the website will detect what type of device is browsing the site (smartphone, tablet, or computer) and display that version of the site (essentially building you three sites). This is of course how all websites will be built in the future, and if you are looking for an entire rebuild of your site, we’ll gladly help you in that process.

If you are looking for a short-term or a more cost effective solution to modify your site without redoing the entire website, we now offer the following three solutions:

  1. For 95% of Custom HTML or Open Source code websites: you simply add a “Mobile Style Sheet” Which recognizes when a mobile browser is viewing the site and adapts it to mobile view. (This typically requires only a couple hours from a coder to adjust on your site).
  2. WordPress sites have a free Mobile WordPress “plug-in” that can be added to also discern who is viewing from a mobile browser and adapt the view (The WordPressbasic widget, truly is very basic. We would recommend 1-2 hours of a coder or designer to create a mobile interface template that matches your brand).
  3. If your site is not in these two categories, we can do the custom coding to do to provide a front end Responsive Bumper. This bumper recognizes the device browsing the site and seamlessly directs it to a mobile version of your website, which mirrors the data and info on your current site. We can do this on an hourly basis, without having to revamp the whole site, typically for a fraction of a total website redesign.

Please contact us for more information or if you are interested in any of these solutions. Your customers ARE on mobile, shouldn’t you be as well?

Make Your Website Mobile Friendly

Make Your Website Mobile Friendly

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10 Businesses That Would Benefit by Being on Pinterest Today!

April 18, 2012

In recognizing how incredibly fast Pinterest is growing, and the quick migration to Pinterest by many businesses (including ourselves and several of our clients). I was recently asked at a conference, which businesses would really benefit by being on this platform and why they would do so. Here’s the list and reasons that I came up with for the group:

  1. Hair, Nail, & Spa Salons – Obviously this platform is incredibly suited to the primary demographic of users (Pinterest is the number one platform of choice for female social media users).  Pinterest Boards can be used to highlight and focus on photos of current hairstyles, fashions, nail color trends, hair colors, beauty and facial trends and the lists go on. 
  2. Travel Agencies – Think of Pinterest as your home for virtual travel brochures and videos. Because of the “wish list” feature of Pinterest, where people are pinning and repining great travel images and destinations they would like to plan on visiting.
  3. Home Remodelers – Use Pinterest as an online gallery to show off before and after photos of your projects to demonstrate your expertise and examples of great work you have performed.
  4. Interior Designers – The same basic idea as remodelers would work here. Pinterest can be leveraged as an online gallery to show before and after photos, show off trends, fabrics, patterns, signature pieces, and so on.
  5. Landscapers – Here you can benefit from sharing how-to information, as well as showing off examples of work you have performed.  Just like rooms in our homes, we tend to pin photos or repin photos of things we’d like in our yards someday.
  6. Event & Wedding Planners – Here you can showcase venues, ideas, your portfolio of work done, decorations, themes, and settings. The list here is endless.
  7. Jewelry & Clothing – Combining product photos and the Pinterest “Gift” option can help to drive online and in store sales of items you sell.
  8. Tattoo Shops – Where better to place an online gallery of your artwork and designs! You can also show off specific signature pieces, as well as provide examples of tattoos designed for specific body areas.
  9. Auto Detail/Paint/Customizing – The number one things that Males on Pinterest pin after food pins, are pins of vehicles, especially dream cars, customized cars, and video as well.  If you can provide these images of your work online they are sure to be repinned (believe me, I found a showroom photo of a 1979 Chevy Chevette, my first car, and even that car is my pin with the highest number of repins).
  10. Resorts & Campgrounds – Similar to travel, you can virtually create an online travel brochure for your property to drive awareness and interest.  You can even open up certain Pinboards to allow your guests to pin photos from their trips or vacations. Allowing your customers to help share the fondness and memories of their trip.

At Sterling Cross Communications, we have a vast experience in creating and executing exciting and outside the box campaigns across several social media platforms. If you need help or more ideas on placing your business on Pinterest or need a strategy and action plan on what to do on these channels please contact us at http://sterlingcrossgroup.com.

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Whistleblower: A Q&A with Mr. Fixit for online badmouthing

March 19, 2012

I was interviewed recently by the Minneapolis Star Tribune about Online Reputation Management and how damaging a bad reputation can be to a company’s bottom line. Here is an excerpt and a link to the rest of the article online:

Consumer complaints about businesses are migrating from the watercooler to the Web.

From Facebook and Twitter to Yelp and FourSquare, consumers can sound off about a company to hundreds of friends and followers with a click of a button.

That’s where online reputation management experts such as Christopher Lower come in. He and his wife own Maple Grove-based Sterling Cross Communications, helping Twin Cities restaurants, hotels and nonprofits monitor what’s being said about them 24/7 and respond within minutes. Click Here to Read the Rest of the Article

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Using PR & Social Media to Promote Restaurants – A Case Study

January 18, 2010

At Sterling Cross Communications, we’re very proud to have been a recent case study focus by Meetings: Minnesota’s Hospitality Journal Magazine’s Winter 2010 Issue.  The Case Study covers the work we have been doing for our client moto-i, the first sake microbrewery outside of Kyoto, Japan, located in Uptown Minneapolis.   It goes into detail about the behind-the-scenes efforts that were put into place to promote this restaurant via social media channels as well as integrating media and blogger relations. Here is the article:

Sake & Social Media

Placing his trust in Sterling Cross Communications, restaurateur Blake Richardson turned to social media to market his latest venture, Moto-i sake microbrewery and restaurant.

By Ellie M. Bayrd

Nearly seven years ago, Blake Richardson, owner of the Herkimer Pub & Brewery in Minneapolis and the mind behind Triple Caff draft energy drink, fell in love with sake. Inspired by what he calls an “amazing beverage,” the beer brewer embraced the possibility of creating a sake microbrewery restaurant in Minneapolis. The labor of love took him to Japan several times, where he studied the art of sake. At the same time that Richardson was becoming enamored with the drink, he was also in a love affair with Asian cuisine like many other Americans. “The synergy between the two just came together at the right time,” he says.

The idea percolated and his studies progressed, and about two years before his restaurant idea would become a reality Richardson had a chance meeting with Chris Lower, director of marketing, public relations and social media at Sterling Cross Communications. A company touting its traditional storytelling in a modern world,Maple Grove-based Sterling Cross has embraced online marketing tools. While Richardson wasn’t really thinking about how he would market his new restaurant concept at the time, his conversation with Lower spurred him to action. “I don’t want to allude to that I wouldn’t have had a plan,” Richardson says. “But I came in contact with Sterling Cross long before that segment of my responsibilities to the marketing would have come along.”

 Click HERE to read the rest of the article

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Horizon Realty – A Case Study in how not to handle online reputation management

August 3, 2009

It started out fairly innocuously, it was a single retweet on Twitter of a news source I monitor, but the headline was too intriguing not to read – Will one Chicago woman’s Tweet cost her $50,000? I immediately thought to myself; “boy, someone is in trouble…,” but as I clicked on the link and read the first article here, and then I saw it was a headline here and here, I quickly saw the writing on the wall, it wasn’t the person that was in trouble, it was the company referenced: Horizon Realty.

The company in their response and defense of the single tweet by a woman, Amanda Bonnen, with the Twitter username:  @abonnen, initiated legal proceedings seeking $50,000 in damages for claimed defamation.  This is the company’s right to do so.  It is even a recommended course in traditional public relations crises communications tactics, yet, it is never the first recommended course when trying to manage your brand and reputation online. It should be the last resort.

When someone brings out the giant cannon of litigation, without having investigated and addressed the message in a public forum, it is immediately seen by the public watching, as overkill.  The giant corporation is now seen as bullying, callous, and unfeeling towards its tenants in the actions it has taken in response.

The response the company was initially hoping to avoid (that of their reputation being besmirched by the remark, has instead inflicted 1000’s of remarks to their own reputation, when word of the lawsuit reached the Twitter community.  The Twitter community took the side of the woman, and began to tear the company to shreds online for its “heavy-handedness”, “Lawsuit-happy management”, and generally being “clueless” (all words being mentioned online as descriptors of the company).

The response by Horizon’s Jeffrey Michael in a Chicago Tribune interview  , was that they were a “Sue first, ask questions later, type of company.” Once again this irked the general public online. Michael later (1 day, an eternity online)  released a press release claiming the comments were meant to be “tongue-in-cheek”, and then delved into the details of some ongoing issues that Horizon has had with Ms. Bonnen and some prior complaints she has had with them.  AS you can imagine, this release was not received well online, and for a second day, Horizon was listed as a trending topic on Twitter as the negative conversations continued fueled by Horizon themselves.

In the first 72 hours that this occurred, the damage on the net was done.  It’s been classified as an example of the Streisand Effect - an Internet phenomenon where an attempt to censor or remove a piece of information backfires, causing the information to be widely publicized.  Companies can no longer scoff at the idea that their reputation online does not matter, and that they have to participate in and listen to the conversations.  Horizon failed to do so, and the end results so far are these:

  • They became a trending topic on Twitter, meaning that they went from the 22 followers of Ms. Bonnen’s to being seen potentially by over a million people (of their own doing with the news of the lawsuit). The most recent 1500 comments can be seen here (it would be more, but that is all that Twitter has room for in their search tool).
  • If you Google “Horizon Realty”, four of the eleven first page listings are negatively related to the lawsuit. (Think of how that looks to a future potential tenant or someone searching for a management company).
  • Their reviews on Yelp have exploded from three listings prior to this event to 26 listings (ranging from annoyed to enraged) as of today keeping their ratings as a lowly 1 and a half stars.
  • Google Blog search shows over 16,000 blog posts that are already indexed, of which over 1000 include the phrase: “We’re a sue first, ask questions later kind of an organization.” There are also over 14,000 posts mentioning Jeffrey Michael (predominantly in a negative manner)
  • Not only has Horizon Realty earned the onus of being attributed to the Streisand Effect on Wikipedia, Horizon Realty has its own entry page.
  • The story jumped to traditional media as well – earning mentions in the Washington Post, Chicago Sun-Times, The Wall Street Journal and too many other outlets (over 512 stories as of today’s writing) to mention.

Is there still doubt in your mind or in the minds of your company that social media doesn’t matter?

Crisis Communication on Social Media has to have different rules, since it is different from traditional media.  We recommend the following steps be in place as the basics for any online reputation management strategies and policies that need to be put in place:

  1. Always investigate complaints made & verify the facts and source.
  2. Responding to a complaint – where:  when possible, respond on the same site the comment was made.  If it was on a blog submit a comment – if the blogger refuses to post your response, notate this and publish your post on your own blog or website.
  3. When to respond: respond in as timely a manner as possible, when the complaint has been investigated. 24 hours is a lifetime on the Internet – waiting makes things worse.
  4. Legal action may be taken to protect your IP, Brand, & Reputation: but remember, Internet issues are tricky as there are 1stAmendment issues involved that may require special expertise. Slander, Defamation of Character, Harassment, and online Bullying laws can apply. Legal intervention is required in most cases to force removal of material from the Internet. Copyright Infringement could be involved in the case of brand or identity theft.

As you can see, escalating to legal action is an option, just not the first recommended option, and never until the first three steps have been taken.

The final thoughts I will leave you with are these – the best defense is a good offense:

  1. The conversation is happening online whether you like it or not – will you participate?
  2. It’s not good enough to be present online – You need to engage your audience and participate in the conversation
  3. Transparency and Authenticity rule the net – Lies and misrepresentation will always be found out and called
  4. True Customer Service comes from listening, observing, and engaging – then, providing a thoughtful, timely response.
  5. Perception online is always a consideration – if you are perceived as the bully in responding to a complaint, using threats, or worse – legal action that could be avoided, then you lose, even if you are in the right.
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Strategically Promoting Your Restaurant with Social Media Tools

March 24, 2009

This is an article I wrote for Restaurateur Magazine and appears in their April 2009 Issue. Due to popular demand, it was reprinted here for those who do not have access to the Magazine. Enjoy!

 

You work hard to get everything right, the food, the atmosphere, the service, the kitchen and back of the house staff, and once a guest comes through the door, you have the power to make sure they have the best possible experience. Then they go home.  A place you can’t control the experience – and you don’t know what they’ll tell their family, friends, co-workers, and anyone who will listen, about their experience. What if you could control it? What if you could extend the dining experience beyond the walls of your restaurant? With social media tools, you can.

 

You’ve heard the buzzwords: Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Linkedin, and YouTube.  These tools allow you to enhance and carry the dining experience beyond your front door. They allow your customers to take the physical connections and loyalty virtual to experience it online as well. With customers increasing their online activity, the online experience that guests have with you can make or break you.

 

You put thought, consideration and passion into every physical aspect of your guests’ interaction with you, but how is their experience with your website?  Does it convey your brand, atmosphere, and message? Is it easy to navigate? Are your menus and specials quickly found? Is your contact information, location, hours of operation and amenities crystal clear? These are just the bare minimum standards now needed to entice someone to interact with your online brand.

 

When they interact, they feel connected. When they feel connected, they’ll often be your evangelists and make a point to refer your establishment or brag about their incredible experience. They are inclined to take someone with them the next time they visit, and will want to connect your restaurant to others.

 

In the best of times, it’s hard to promote a restaurant.  With labor and food costs constantly battling to take the lead as your primary concern, you need systems and tools that can give you the greatest return on your investment of dollars and time. Social Media are emerging tools that fit that bill.

 

Social Media tools are increasingly moving from consumer to consumer tools to business to consumer vehicles.  6,000 people a day are signing up for Facebook and only a percentage of them are the college students that the platform initially attracted.  Many businesses are motivated by the opportunity to opt in at a fairly cost effective manner, and also the ability to bring them to an intimate space next to their customer. What you are seeing is a vast array of Social Media approaches that converse and connect. Once you realize who your customer is, what makes them tick, what they like and dislike, using social media can be that missing link that transforms a casual customer into a brand evangelist.

 

Using tools for the “cool” factor of saying you use them will not bring you a tangible return.  You’ll need to start with a strategy. Once you’ve determined who your customers are, you need to know which social media tools they use, and engage with them on their turf. The effectiveness of social media isn’t simply using the tool; it’s listening, answering questions and connecting with others. These tools are just opportunities to connect your customers to your brand and by connecting with them, they’ll help you build relationship and gain invaluable insight to their propensity to buy from you.

 

Here is a list of tools that any restaurant owner can use to connect with their customer to convert them to brand evangelists:

 

Social Media Tools for Restaurants

  • Make sure your restaurant can be searched and reviewed through local business guides such as Yelp.com, Urbanspoon.com, Getsatisfaction.com and TripAdvisor.com. Encourage your guests, that if they had a great experience to please post it to one of these sites.
  • Twitter – sign up for a Twitter account. Use it also as a tool to listen and converse with your customers.
  • E-Newsletter – Email a monthly newsletter with the latest happenings, new menu items, entertainment news, recipe of the month etc.
  • Blog – Customers want to be part of something more than just a meal; they want to feel like they belong. A blog can be that tool.
  • Facebook – Set up a Facebook fan page to connect with your customers on Facebook.
  • MySpace – If your clientele is the MySpace generation, create a profile page and consistently update it with fresh content.
  • YouTube – Incorporate video into your social media strategy.
  • The Business Card – Provide a business card or note-card to each customer that visits your establishment with their receipt that maps out where they can continue their dining experience online by connecting to you via social media.

 

Christopher Lower is the Co-owner of Sterling Cross Communications, a Social Media, Public Relations, & Web Design Firm, that focuses on the Restaurant, Hospitality, Hotel, and Lodging industries. In addition to over 20 years of PR & Marketing experience, Chris worked over 8 years in the Hospitality Industry. He can be reached at www.sterlingcrossgroup.com or can be found on Twitter: www.twitter.com/mrchristopherl.

 

Sterling Cross is a proud to have been selected as a preferred vendor for Hospitality Minnesota. Hospitality Minnesota is the management entity for
 

 

 

The Minnesota Restaurant Association, Minnesota Lodging Association and Minnesota Resort and the Campground Association. These Associations provide legislative and regulatory advocacy, marketing, education and information and money-saving programs to members. In addition, Hospitality Minnesota operates a non-profit education foundation, the Hospitality Minnesota Education Foundation, which provides a high school curriculum in foodservice and lodging management and provides scholarships to students pursuing higher education in the hospitality field. For more info: www.hospitalitymn.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Cost of Not Entering into Social Media – How it Hurts Your Company (Part Two)

November 23, 2008

We previously covered the cost of loss of new market share and new business growth by not keeping pace with the new communication tools of social media in The Cost of Not Entering into Social Media – How it Hurts Your Company (Part One). Now we need to cover even a cost that is potentially more devastating to your company – the loss of your existing customer base.

In a challenging economy, it is not only important to grow your customer base, but to retain your existing customers. Perception is one of the leading factors that play a central role in customer retention.  Perception of your goods and services, customer service, methods, practices, are all formed by your clients, and thus their opinions and decisions.  If the perception of your advertising, communications, website, and public relations is out of date, or old-fashioned, that typically translates in how they perceive your business. Your website and online communications are now typically the first point of contact now that a customer has with your company.  This includes your existing customer.

Being out of date is not the worst association that will be felt by your company, what is worse is that you will be seen as out of touch with your customers!  Customer’s that perceive you as out of touch also think that you don’t care about them, and that, according to a Rockefeller Corporation Study, is the number one reason cited by customers that leave the current company they are doing business with.

At Sterling Cross Communications (www.sterlingcrossgroup.com), we offer and perform an in depth survey and perception check of our client’s customers called checking the Pulse of the Customer.  In this process we speak with a few of our client’s biggest customers, a few of their most recent customers, and if possible, with two customers that chose not to do business with them.  Our own work this year has proven out the theory that many clients are not paying enough attention to the perception of them in the market.  One of a client’s largest customers was considering leaving them because of a perception that they were out of date and weren’t going to be able to keep up with them as they were about to experience a major expansion due to a merger.

We also were able to help our client’s understand that the conversation about their company, for good or for ill is happening every day online, and that through incorporating Social Media, they can start engaging customers in that conversation.  The cost of not participating continues to become crystal clear.

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