Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Holiday Panic? There's Still Time to Give - and Give Back

The holiday season is a time to show the people in your life they are valued, sending holiday cards and gifts to family and friends. Many businesses choose to include clients and colleagues in holiday gift giving. If procrastination is now turning to panic, don’t worry! There’s still time to send holiday wishes to clients and business partners.

If a holiday card is in the plan, there are several tips to consider:
·        Send a “Happy New Year” card. It’s a great upbeat alternative to the traditional holiday card, and can be sent right up through the first of the year.
·        Send a holiday eCard. Online design applications, such as Paperless Post, offer extensive design selections and tools to customize a message and assure highest rates of delivery. The eCard method is “green,” and can be done quickly. The benefit is that some sites help upload and maintain your contact list, so you’ll be ready earlier next year!
·        Include a photo of your team on the card, whether a print card or eCard. If your clients are distant, they may not see you often, and a photo of the people they work with helps them know you better.
·        If your list is short, consider personalizing each card. A brief handwritten note is always appreciated.

Professional Gifts
As the holidays are rapidly approaching, an online site with direct shipping is probably the best option at this point. First determine which clients will receive a gift. From that, you can decide if you want them all to get the same gift. A tiered system, with small/medium/large items in a gift grouping, may allow some tailoring of the gift to the size of the client team.
Some tips on gift giving:
·        Send something from a business local to your community. Support another local business while sending a unique and memorable gift. Think Seattle smoked salmon, Texas hot sauce, Virginia peanuts.
·        Fine chocolate and coffee are always appreciated.
·        An experience gift can be fun. Depending on the client, an afternoon visit by a masseuse or nail artist could provide a break from work stress, and a bonding experience for the client team.
·        Share your values and make the world a better place. A well-considered charitable donation to an organization that the client admires or is associated with is a thoughtful and meaningful gesture.
·        An important book (that you have read and enjoyed) in the industry or profession, management and leadership arena is a thoughtful way to share your views and values.
·        If the client is a large corporation, there may be restrictions on acceptance of gifts. Consider this, and avoid over-the-top extravagance.
·        In addition to clients, consider a card or gift for those key prospective clients on your target list for the coming year. This is one more opportunity to build a new relationship.

So delay no further! As the old adage goes, “it’s the thought that counts.” With these tips, your card or gift will convey your thoughtfulness and appreciation of your clients this holiday season!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

CX and Your Website: The 8-Second Rule - by Kim Tidwell @ Edge Marketing

Are you familiar with the term customer experience (CX)? Not just for app developers or folks operating on the fringes of innovation, CX is a pervasive value system that will affect your company’s success. So what exactly is CX? I like Forrester’s definition for its simplicity:

“How customers perceive their interactions with your company.”

Anytime you interact with a customer, whether it is online, in person or over the phone, you are engaging in forming customer experience – good, bad or ugly. Most of us, apparently, feel that we are doing a good job – only, we are not.

According to Bain & Company, 80 percent of CEOs believe they deliver a superior customer experience, but only 8 percent of their customers agree. How do companies go about bringing those two numbers closer together? When it comes to your first chances to nurture positive CX – your website and social media profiles – it is important to set your brand ego aside.

Think about this:

“There are only 86,400 seconds in a day. Given that we are universally bound by this limited resource, how can we make things easier, quicker and simpler for our customers?”

This question, posed by MGM Resorts International’s chief experience officer, Julie Hoffmann, at the American Marketing Association’s National Conference in September, is one that you should ask regularly.

In addition, here are two exercises you can do today to positively impact the online customer experience you provide.

How would you describe your organization and its services or products to a 10-year-old?

Visit your website home page. Without scrolling, does it answer this question in under eight seconds? The average attention span for the notoriously ill-focused goldfish is nine seconds, but according to a recent study from Microsoft Corp., people now generally lose concentration after eight seconds.

If a first-time visitor sees only your clever brand tagline, then it is time to make one critical change on your home page. Add a succinct single-line message that communicates your value proposition. A quick web search turned up these examples of effective home page value messages:

·         The easy, fast, affordable way to send money online – from your desktop, tablet or mobile device.
·     Comprehensive, easy-to-use cloud-based law practice management software.
·         Software for automated sales tax compliance. “Sales tax is hard. We make it easy.”

That value message will help visitors confirm their interest in your product or service. Make sure this simple description also lives on your social media profiles.

Within the first eight seconds, visitors should also see one or more simple, low-risk ways to engage with you. An opt-in subscription form, download offer or free trial may extend the visit well beyond eight seconds.

What are the top five questions your prospective customers ask you?

You are sitting on the most valuable insights money can buy – actual customer interactions. Ask your sales team to account for the questions they continually get asked by prospects at the beginning of the relationship. Do you address these questions on your website’s most important pages? How many pages and links does it take to get the answers? Your customers are coming to your website to figure out if you provide a solution for their pesky, nagging pain point. Is there a way to provide relief in fewer interactions?

Sometimes, particularly with B2B, we get caught up in trying to deliver so much information that the most customer-relevant part gets lost or left out. You do not need a new website to make real strides in your CX. Real improvements can result from simply creating headlines and separating blocks of copy and important callouts with more white space.

Your brand is not just a tagline, a collection of bright colors and a logo. Ultimately, your true brand is your customers’ experience of your company over the duration of their relationship with you. Your website is a prominent part of that, so start your CX initiative there.