Posts Tagged pr

Branding 101: What Do Your Clients Say About You When You’re Not In The Room?

Gesture_03 How strong is your brand?  Do you know how your clients perceive you?  Do you know why your clients use your services instead of your competitor’s?

There’s an old saying in the advertising industry that your true brand image is “what your clients say about you when you’re not in the room.”  The way that your prospects and clients perceive you shapes what they say about you, influences their behavior towards you and is; consequently, the ultimate reality of your business’ brand image.  Your brand is a person’s visceral perception about your company. It’s an emotional sense of what your company is, rather than an intellectual, rational memory of your tagline or logo.  Components influencing the perception of your brand include your marketing strategy, public relations activity, and every client interaction (whether one-on-one or via the web, print, or broadcast media).  It’s how your staff answers the phone, how easy your web site is to use, what message your visuals send, how quickly your staff responds to client needs, the tone of your writing…and more.

The stronger your positive brand image, the greater your client loyalty.  The world’s strongest brands have not just clients or fans, but evangelists. Brand evangelists champion their favorite brands, not just by buying that brand’s products, but by enthusiastically recommending them to other potential clients. I’m certain you can think of at least one brand right off the top of your head whose clients may be perceived as evangelists.

Do your branding and marketing efforts ever seem to fall on “deaf ears?”  This could mean that, like many IT solution and Managed Services Providers, your brand isn’t what you think it is.  Until you get real feedback from real clients (surveys are a great way to do this, especially when the client can remain anonymous), your messaging is likely to be mismatched to your clients’ real perception of you.  No wonder you didn’t get the response you hoped for from that marketing campaign!

When was the last time you asked your key clients why they choose your services?  Chances are; if you’re like so many of our partners, it’s been quite a while – if ever.  You may never have taken the time to get this kind of feedback.  I’ll encourage you to do so—send out a client survey and find out.  Your clients’ answers will almost certainly surprise you.  They’ll give you reasons for their choosing you that you wouldn’t have expected, and couldn’t ever have guessed.

So, what do your clients say about you when you’re not in the room?  Who are your brand’s evangelists?  Just how enthusiastically are they championing and recommending your services to others?  And if you can’t find any, what can you do to create some brand evangelists? 

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Kate Hunt
MSP University
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Posted in: General Business, Marketing

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Social Networking – Does It Replace Real Networking?

Dummies-handshake_01 Are you a user of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or any other method of social networking for your business?  Does it add real value to your business relationships or is it a distraction?  Can you point to an instance where a contact on a social network helped you land new business, or provide better service? We certainly can.

Most businesses opened up their firewall so that employees could begin to use these social networking sites with the intent of encouraging the exchange of ideas and knowledge about the business.  But, is that communicated correctly to the employees?  Should there be an addendum to the Employee Handbook acceptable use policy that states the reasons for allowing employees to access these sites while at work?

Distractions Exist Everywhere 

We need to start at a common point that will help form the basis for a discussion about this issue:  distractions exist everywhere.  Those who are prone to, and are engulfed in distractions that prevent them from doing their jobs need to be reminded of the damage that this can cause to their productivity -  with the alternative being to show them the door.

A California university professor described the method that he uses to handle these distractions.  At first, he thought it was wise to instruct all of his students to turn off any form of electronic communication while class was in session.  After a period of time, he realized that he was cutting these students off from their world, and it was affecting their attention span in a negative way.  So he made a new rule:  use your devices in a responsible manner during the lectures or be forced to come to the front of the class and give a summary of what was just spoken.  Incredibly, he had not one student with a problem the rest of the year.

Networking with Purpose

It is no longer enough just to give an incoming employee an email address and a copy of your email policy.  There needs to be instruction offered that teaches how to use all forms of communications and the requirement to use them responsibly.  Guidelines need to be communicated as to what is and is not appropriate.  This is especially true for those who use social networking in the work place to foster business relationships which result in new business or excellent customer service.

But, it should not stop there.  This needs to be followed up with a proactive approach on how to use social networking to benefit the business.  Making these tools available and teaching how to use them for the advancement of the business is good for business.  Adding this to the already tried and true methods of interacting from a business standpoint provides avenues for contact that might not otherwise exist naturally.

The bottom line:  it is all about using tools that are at your disposal to create and cultivate relationships which go beyond “water cooler” discussions.  Social networking can have an impact that is positive and lasting for your business when used correctly.

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Erick Simpson 
MSP University
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Posted in: General Business, Industry Trends, Marketing, Sales & Marketing

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