Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Why You Should Be Using Targeted Marketing

It may very well be that everyone is a potential customer, but not everyone is going to be your customer. In point of fact, the vast majority of people will never be your customer. This is not a bad thing and can actually work to your advantage. In the first place, your business probably lacks the resources and infrastructure to provide high-quality service to more than two or three times the number of customers you have now. You probably also haven’t built your business to scale-up in a hurry, which means a massive, sudden influx of customers is more likely to overwhelm you than help you. Just as important, the fact that your business probably serves a specific group means you can engage in targeted marketing.

The heart of targeted marketing is honing in on that very core of your customer base and increasing the number of customers who fit into that profile. Those customers are your core because you serve them very well and they know it. They come back to you because you meet their needs time and time again. Expanding your customer base in this core area makes sense because you aren’t just bringing the one-time bread and butter sale. You’re bringing in people who will buy from you year-in and year-out. Growth in this core customer base helps to secure your business over the long-term.

Targeted marketing also makes sense financially. Trying to market to everyone is cost prohibitive. It encompasses too many media outlets that will ask far more than you can reasonably afford to invest. When you target your marketing to meet the specific profile of your ideal customer, it eliminates most of the possible media outlets and lets you pick the very best choice from a small pool. It also means that you’re getting your message in front of a select group of potential customers who have a high probability of needing what you have to offer. The individual costs for placing an ad or delivering marketing collateral may be higher, but the overall costs tend to be far lower and manageable.

Targeted marketing helps you to grow at a sustainable rate with the kinds of customers you already serve well. Rather than trying to find ways to serve customers your business isn’t really built for, you can jump straight to providing the kind of top-tier service your business is built to give. Tier 3 Marketing understands the importance of targeting the right customers and can guide you through both demographic and geographic targeting. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Are You Telling Your Story?

People love stories. They tell them around campfires, buy books to read them, and gather around the television to watch them play out on screen. This love of stories can be a powerful weapon in your marketing arsenal.

One of the best reasons to employ storytelling in your marketing is that it’s memorable. How many statistics do you hear over the course of a week? If you’re like most professionals, you probably hear quite a few. How many of those statistics that you haven’t heard over and over do you actually remember? Now consider how many stories you remember, even the ones you only heard or overheard just once. It’s probably a lot.

It’s not that you’re ignoring the statistics and paying attention to the stories, although that may play some role. The brain processes stories in a different way. Stories engage our emotions. We invest in the narrative and feel something about the people involved. Maybe we don’t like the person, or what they did, or maybe we’re sympathetic to their plight. We connect with the story and the people in the story because we’re interested in other people.

Most of the time, numbers and factoids exist in a vacuum. It’s difficult to invest in an average or a percentage, unless it applies to you specifically. A business owner is deeply invested in her market share, but because it’s part of her personal narrative. Her customers probably don’t know that number and would particularly care if they did, because that number doesn’t apply to them.

On the other hand, if that same business owner talked about how her grandparents started that business after fleeing the Nazi threat during World War II, people get interested. It’s not just a business anymore. That business is not a player in a bigger story that changed the world. Of course, not every business has a story with that kind of native emotional power, but every business has a story.

At some point, you decided to open a business or take over a business from your parent or a buy out a business. Why did you do that? What drove you to make that choice, over the potentially easier path of going to work for someone else? Did someone inspire you? Do you learn your craft from a wizened old grandfather?

By communicating your story to customers, you provide them with an emotional hook and a narrative they can remember. It helps to make you interesting and provides a kind of unique differentiation that no one can copy. You’re the only person who can lay claim to your story. If you want to tell your story to your customers, Tier3, out of Scottsdale, can help you get your story out to them.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Benefits of Turn-key Marketing

Marketing a business is a demanding endeavor and the expansion of marketing techniques and tactics only amplifies the challenges. The marketing challenge is even more taxing for smaller businesses, where the owner or manager must not only find ways to market the business, but do so while trying to run the business at the same time. For businesses where the time spent trying to develop marketing collateral and get that collateral into the right channels is costing the business more time and money that the marketing is making the business, a turn-key marketing system can be the right solution.

Turn-key marketing systems typically include a high-level of automation intended to deliver your marketing material on a schedule in several ways, such as emails to your customer list, posts to social media and blogs, and even direct mail. They can also include pre-made websites designed around SEO best practices or options to optimize your website.

Turn-key systems aim to minimize or eliminate the technical competencies and logistics of getting your marketing into the world, leaving you time to focus more on marketing content and running your business. Some turn-key providers will work with the business to help develop individualized text and graphics, or incorporate existing marketing copy and graphical elements directly into the system. This individualization helps the business avoid confusing customers by creating a level of continuity between what the business had already achieved in marketing terms and where the system will take the business in the future.

The systematic and scheduled nature of turn-key systems also helps businesses to build momentum by catching customers at multiple touch points over time. It can take as many as 12 interactions with marketing materials before customers make any purchase decision and a failure to follow up over time often means an automatic default to not buying. While consistent follow up is not guarantee of a future sale, it significantly increases the odds in your favor.

Turn-key marketing systems help businesses to limit the amount of time they must spend managing individual elements of the marketing process and allows them to focus more on the big picture elements, like consistent positioning and branding. For businesses that struggle with the technical and logistical side of marketing, Tier 3 in Scottsdale, Arizona can provide a turn-key system structured around your business.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Marketing is not Sales, but Does Matter to Sales

It is a common conception, and often true in smaller organizations, that marketing serves as an add-on or subordinate function to a sales department. Unfortunately, as businesses expand this conception that was once both useful and at least partially accurate ceases to hold water.

Smaller organizations often depend on sales just to survive to the next quarter and meet payroll. They depend on external suppliers, cater to local markets they understand intuitively and can get by without a dedicated marketing department. Larger organizations often acquire some or all of their supply chains, expand into markets they do not intuitively understand, and a dedicated marketing staff becomes a requirement to gain market share.

At that point, the conception of marketing as a subordinate function to sales no longer reflects the reality. Marketing is responsible for managing issues that have business-wide impact. They often handle that supply chain the business acquires, perform market research and delve deep into the product development process. On the customer-facing side of things, marketing develops collateral to boost awareness, entice, excite and build buzz about products. Marketing also manages relationships with external marketing and advertising firms. The one thing these all have in common is that they support, but are not themselves, sales activities.

Even direct marketing, which is probably, hands down, the most sales oriented type of marketing isn’t a sales process. Direct marketing still aims to create interest and foster relationships with customers. The entire object is to draw the customer into the sales funnel, by calling now or signing up for more information. At that point, marketing ends and an entirely new process, the sales process, begins. To demand that marketing justify itself by offering up a return on investment measured in sales is to lean on the old conception of marketing as subordinate function to sales, which it isn’t.

Marketing should, however, work to support sales efforts. Territorial standoffs are common between the two departments, which often view each other as budget-sapping and ineffective. When marketing and sales don’t align their strategies, these accusations are true.

If a marketing department blindsides the sales team with a new product announcement, the sales department is woefully underprepared to sell the product to anyone or even field questions. When salespeople make price reductions to move the product, it often looks arbitrary and dismissive of the extensive marketing research that goes into setting price points. 

When marketing and sales coordinate, though, big things can happen. Sales people go into the field fully armed to answer questions, product information in hand, and ready to take pre-orders. Marketing materials go out at times when the sales team can best capitalize on that material and sales number go up. Tier 3 in Scottsdale can help to ensure that your marketing materials go out exactly when you need them to support that big sales push.

CRM, Marketing and Your Business

The term customer relationship management gets thrown around a lot in business and marketing circles, but is it something you should spend your time and energy on? If you like having loyal, satisfied customers, not to mention drawing in new customers, (and who doesn’t?) you should absolutely devote some of your resources to CRM.

On the technical side, CRM boils down to creating a kind of profile of existing and prospective customers by collating and aggregating a range of data, such as contact and purchase history, to provide a current picture of the customer. This gives staff at the business better insight when assisting customers and enables the development of customer-specific solutions. High-quality CRM systems also include contact scheduling features that remind you to follow up or automate some types of follow up.

This is where CRM and marketing meet. At heart, marketing strives to create a relationship between customers and a business, product or brand. The initial marketing relationship is the one that gets customers into the store or shopping on a website. Maybe the initial contact aims for nothing more than getting someone to sign up for a newsletter or free information product. CRM is a direct extension of that initial marketing relationship.

Follow up emails, newsletters or direct mail all serve to remind the customer about their relationship with the business. The more relevant and helpful the content of those contacts, the more the customer will come to view the business as worthy of trust. For the vast majority of businesses, customer loyalty is inextricably linked to customer trust.

After all, how loyal do you feel to a mechanic you don’t trust or a website that burned you on an order? Now think about the businesses you’re happy to pay at premium prices just because you know you won’t get ripped off. Those businesses, though repeated contact and transactions, proved themselves to you. That is all part of CMR and it’s good for the bottom line.

Of course, follow up contact is where many businesses struggle. Even with the automation built into CRM systems, some of that follow up contact requires a human being to make decisions, write copy, get flyers or sales letter printed and see to it they get in the mail. Tier3 Marketing brings years of experience to helping businesses deliver the follow up contact that secures customer trust and loyalty.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Wordpress Vs. Drupal

Wordpress is used by thousands of web developers, bloggers and internet marketers around the world. It has been the standard for amateur and professional designers alike who need an easy-to-use platform for their web development needs.

In recent years, Drupal has become just as popular as Wordpress because of the functionality it offers for different types of websites. The platform you choose will depend on the type of website you're looking to build.

Wordpress: Widely Adoptable, Easy to Use

Because Wordpress has been around for so long, it is the most popular platform available. There are thousands of plugins available for every purpose you can think of, and the vast majority of templates can be customized with little to no effort.

Advantages of Using Wordpress

  • Deployment - Websites built with Wordpress take very little time to setup. Depending on the amount of content you have and the complexity of the design, your site can be up and running within minutes.
  • Mobile capability - Wordpress websites can be easily read on all major smartphone platforms. Many free plugins are available that allow developers to have their websites automatically converted to their mobile counterparts when needed.
  • Easy to use CMS - Wordpress, as a content management system, is very easy to use. Any beginner with little to no developing experience will find that Wordpress is very easy to use. No programming of any kind is required and the admin panel is very easy to use.

Disadvantages of Using Wordpress

  • Saturated plugin market - There are literally thousands of plugins available for a variety of different purposes, which can be very overwhelming. Users are more likely to get stuck with a poorly-developed plugin that offers little to no support should something go wrong.
  • Site security - Drupal has far superior site security features than Wordpress does, which is the main reason a large amount of government and corporate websites are built using the Drupal platform.
  • Blog-style websites - Wordpress has been widely known as the platform leader among blogger communities for years. While they offer thousands of great themes for bloggers, businesses and online stores may find it more difficult to locate a theme that will work for them.

Drupal: The Professional Developer's Choice

Drupal has only recently taken the web development world by storm, and for good reason. Many design professionals use this platform exclusively for their clients' websites because it is very user-friendly and its CMS allows multiple types of users to be logged in at the same time to perform multiple functions.

The Advantages of Drupal

  • Admin panel - While Wordpress does feature an easy-to-use admin panel, Drupal's back end is cleaner and easier to learn. This is especially true for amateurs that need to do a large amount of content editing.
  • Enterprise websites and applications - Drupal is the best option when it comes to Enterprise level websites and web applications. If you have a web application that requires user permissions, Drupal is the way to go.
  • Designer friendly - If you've used Wordpress for your clients' websites for an extended period of time and are looking for a new platform, Drupal is regarded as one of the best for savvy website designers. Every template can be easily customized to fit any need by changing or inserting new lines of code, and its functionality is second to none.

Disadvantages of Drupal

  • The amateur designer - The amateur web designer or someone who has no coding experience will find Drupal a bit difficult to work with. Wordpress will likely be your best option if you fit into this category.
  • Plugin development - Because Drupal is relatively new when compared to Wordpress, its plugin market is very small. Individuals who have no experience with developing plugins will find that Wordpress will be easier to use because the plugin they need will likely be available.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

3 Ways to Improve Customer Service

More than 90 percent of consumers today rely on the opinions of others when choosing a company to provide them with a product or service. The rise of social media has given consumers unprecedented access to company reviews – if a potential customer finds negative information, she will not be likely to do business with you. For this reason, it is essential to provide exceptional customer service to keep your customers happy and develop a positive business image.

Unfortunately, many companies do not place a strong emphasis on customer service. As a result, they suffer from negative information provided by customers who do not feel their needs have been met. These three strategies can help you improve your customer service and protect your company's reputation:

1) Cross-train representatives for maximum effectiveness. It's frustrating for customers to spend time waiting to speak with a representative, only to find that they need to talk with someone in a different department to place an order or resolve a concern. Customers become even more discouraged if the representative they need is not available, because then they have to wait for a representative with the right expertise to call them back. It only takes one such experience for a customer to develop a negative opinion of your company.

Cross-training can help you meet customers' needs efficiently without transfers or other delays. Representatives who are trained for multiple roles are valuable both to your company and your customers. Cross-training allows your service professionals to address a variety of calls, which generates a positive customer impression.

2) Implement customer relationship management software. There are numerous software packages available for storing, segmenting, and retrieving customer data. This allows your representatives to quickly access the information they need to educate callers, provide upsell opportunities, and resolve customer concerns. Through proper segmentation, you can give access to customer information only to the representatives who need it, which can help allay concerns over privacy.

3) Consider outsourcing call center functions to provide exceptional service. As your business grows, you will need to increase call capacity to quickly address each prospect or customer's call. This can be an expensive task because it typically requires investing in additional office space, hiring and training new representatives, and purchasing additional software licenses. 

By outsourcing call center functions to a provider such as Tier 3 Scottsdale, you can easily increase or decrease call capacity while minimizing additional expenses. Outsourced call centers can assign and train additional representatives to service your customers as your business needs change. This helps prevent customers and prospects from having to wait to speak to a representative during peak periods.

The effort you put into improving customer service can reward you with higher customer satisfaction, increased sales, and improved company reputation. These tips can help ensure that your customers will happily recommend your company to friends, family members, and colleagues.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Five9 Review

After using a variety of call center options, it was very pleasing to come across Five9. An all-in-one service, Five9 offers many of the functions needed by small and big business, as well as non-profit organizations. The best thing about Five9 is how cost effective it is in comparison to other services that claim to do the same thing, while not offering nearly as much as Five9 does.

Whether you are looking to set up your call center needs domestically or offshore, Five9 offers unparalleled options. Customers hate being put on hold for hours, only to find out they have been transferred to the incorrect department or person. The automatic call distribution system by Five9 is continually building to maximize results. When there is a long wait for the next available representative, the service allows users to leave a message or request a follow-up call. For those looking to stay on the line, information pertaining to their wait time comforts any dismay they may have while waiting.

In order to assure that your callers get directed to the correct department, the Customer-Telephony Integration provided by Five9 will ask all the correct questions in order to get the right answers. The way their database stores information makes it easier for customers who have called before to be seen to more effectively, while allowing representatives to have a better understanding of why the person has called before. This feature boosts positive customer feedback, but also cuts down on potential fraudulent customers.

Also offered by the Five9 system is a top of the line text-to-speech service. With the implementation of smartphones with touchscreens, selecting numbers is not always the easiest. This is especially true in hands free situations, like driving a car or working on something important. The text-to-speech service offers callers the opportunity to verbally say what it is they are looking for and get the best resources available to meet that request. With a state of the art system, Five9 servers are continually updating their text database to understand better what customers are saying and looking for. Customers feel comfortable and pleased to know their call is being directed correctly, without disrupting what they may currently be doing. Furthermore, it allows customers to put less emphasis on the amount of time they are waiting, by feeling that they are already having their requests dealt with.

Five9 offers great resources for outbound calling as well. Their predictive dialer will automatically call contacts using their system awareness to determine which agents are available first. And in order to fill out non-party contacts, their power dialer will call multiple contacts simultaneously. It has never been easier to contact your customers to deliver information that is important to them. All of this is done without wasting your time, by assuring that the customers you contact are available to you.

A great service that really benefits the offshore centers, the agent scripting services offered by Five9 represents the consistency of your company. The script will allow callers to delivery script tailored information that pertains to each individual call. Your customers will feel as if each message is directly tailored to them, rather than a generic message that they quickly hang up on.

The Five9 program also makes it easier than ever to contact missed calls or scheduled callbacks. Sometimes callers will be contacted at an inconvenient time and request to be called back again. Five9 allows those calls to be programmed into a schedule that assures they will not be forgotten or lost. Your customers will appreciate the effort you show to work around the convenience of their schedule.

Five9 offers service that has long been looked for. They make it easy and convenient to reach out to customers in a more efficient way. You will save so much time with Five9, time that can be better spent doing more important things for your business or organization.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Advantages of VoIP

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology works by converting the user's voice into digital packets that are sent over the Internet. It is available via the same cable used to access other Internet services. While VoIP has proven successful among both residential and commercial users, its potential is largely untapped as many still rely on antiquated and inefficient traditional telephony. VoIP can provide a variety of advantages, especially for businesses; its benefits include:

The Savings
One of the better-known advantages that VoIP has over a traditional phone system is its low cost. Many are familiar with the savings provided by using VoIP services such as Skype in a domestic setting; however, an Internet-based phone system can save business users a lot of money as well. The cost reduction is an important factor for businesses that make lots of calls on a daily basis as well as for small enterprises that have to keep an eye on their budget. Depending on the location and the nature of how VoIP is implemented, businesses may see savings of up to 40 percent when compared to the cost of using traditional telephony systems. Another factor is that the purchase and maintenance of traditional PBX equipment can be expensive, switching to VoIP eliminates much of that.

No Bulky Equipment
This is especially important if the premise in which the business is located has limited space available. With a traditional PBX, it would be necessary to allot a significant amount of square footage simply for housing telephone equipment. This is not necessary with VoIP since everything is done online. The service provider will have all of the hosting equipment at their location.

VoIP is Highly Scalable
This is of obvious importance in a growing business. Unlike with a standard telephone system, there are no limitations on the number of lines a business may have. This means that a small business has the flexibility to scale up their lines easily in order to meet their needs.

It is DIY Friendly
With a traditional PBX, even small changes may require a call to the telephone company. With a VoIP system, a business owner may be able to perform many of the most crucial changes on their own. For example, moving traditional telephone equipment from one location to another has always been a major headache due to the issues involved in wiring; VoIP is mostly plug-and-play, requiring little technical expertise to move.

Easy to Access
VoIP systems use the Internet, which means that access to services is available anywhere in the world that there is an Internet connection. The user is no longer limited to accessing calls at a single location; instead, they can connect from anywhere just as they would were they in their office. A user can even have all their numbers forwarded to one device if they want. This functionality allows the worker equipped with VoIP to participate in meetings and interviews as well as to collaborate with their colleagues to get more accomplished.

The concept of unified messaging revolves around allowing access to everything (faxes, voice mails and so on) in one place. Some VoIP solutions can be integrated with browsers and email clients to allow for quick dialing. These features can make workers in a business more efficient and more productive thus helping the enterprise to be more profitable.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Writing Evergreen Blog Posts

Creating and maintaining a blog can be a major time investment, particularly if you want to attract and retain readers who want to buy services and products you offer on your blog or linked website. You want your posts to continue generating traffic even if you are on vacation or simply decide to take a few days off. A blog that generates a constant flow of traffic can be well worth the long hours you spend at your keyboard.

One of the simplest ways to create a reliable flow of traffic is to write "evergreen" posts. These posts contain content that has staying power in search engine listings and continues to bring in visitors for months or years after publication. A solid bank of evergreen posts is essential for generating predictable traffic month after month.

Writing evergreen posts involves several considerations:

1) Choose topics that will be as relevant

Conversely, some topics naturally have limited lifespans. If you own an automotive blog, writing a post titled "The Best New Cars for 2013" might bring in short-term traffic; however, it will not be relevant a year from now.

2) Avoid referencing current events that people will not likely remember in the future. People might care about a pop star's latest gaffe today, but they probably won't care a month from now. Likewise, you should avoid referencing current movies, news, television shows, and local events that only appeal to Internet users for a limited time.

3) Limit your use of external links to relatively new websites and blogs. Linking to a site that might not be active a few months from now reduces the evergreen potential of your content. If you need to provide a link so that visitors can obtain additional information, stick with external sites that have been active for at least a few years. Dead links confuse visitors and reduce the perceived authority of your site. They also won't win you any favor from search engine spiders.

Of course, not every post you write has to be evergreen. You can include some posts that provide information about fluid topics to sustain reader interest and keep your content fresh. Focusing some of your posts on evergreen topics, though, can reward you with traffic for years to come.
to Internet users five years from now as they are today. Some information changes little from year to year. For example, if you own a blog about creative writing, a post about grammar, style, or punctuation will have staying power. This is because English grammar and punctuation rules do not noticeably change from year to year. Similarly, if you own a gardening blog, a post that lists plants that grow well in shady areas will continue bringing in traffic years from now.

Creating Effective Product Images

If you plan to sell physical products on your website or blog, you need to provide images of your products so that customers can see what they are buying. Few customers will be willing to complete purchases if they cannot see what their products look like. In order to increase buyer confidence and improve conversions, your images should have a professional look and feel.

Fortunately, creating effective product images does not have to be a difficult task. These tips will help you create product images that make visitors want to buy:

1) Invest in a quality digital camera. Cell phone and point-and-shoot cameras are fine for social media posts, but they cannot produce the quality you need for professional product images. Quality cameras are available for under $1,000. Ideally, your camera should have an optical zoom lens for close-ups of important product features. You should also choose a camera that offers both manual and automatic exposure control.

2) Take the time to properly set up lighting. You should have a light 45 degrees to the left of the product and another light 45 degrees to the right. To reduce harsh shadows, place a third light behind the camera at a 45-degree angle. If possible, use diffusers in front of each lamp to eliminate harsh glares.

3) Set up a staging area for your products. Ideally, the image background should be white. Having objects in the background can distract visitors from the details of your products. You can create a simple staging area by placing a piece of white poster board, matte side up, under the product. Attach a second piece of poster board to a rigid frame and stand it behind the product with the matte side facing out.

4) Mount your camera on a tripod when taking product images. This helps ensure that your images will be clear and crisp. Taking pictures while holding the camera can result in slightly blurry images that can distract viewers and diminish image quality. Most camera shops and retail electronics stores sell durable tripods for less than $30.

5) Adjust your tripod so that the camera lens is even with the vertical and horizontal center of the product. This prevents "keystoning," which is an undesirable photographic effect that can make your object appear warped. Keystoning makes images look like they were taken by an amateur and can dissuade potential customers from buying your products.

6) Crop images using a digital photo editing program. Typically, you should remove as much white space as possible to make your product images look tight and professional. If you are familiar with basic digital photo editing, you can crop an image in less than two minutes.

Once you have your staging area, lighting, and tripod set up, you can easily create professional product images. This allows you to quickly upload images to your site so that you can begin generating sales.