TAKE THE LEAD

How often have we heard that phrase in a speech, movie or song?  In the digital marketing world, we hear it most often used with CRM, particularly when it comes to lead management.  Why is this important?

CRM lead management, along with analytics and content, are vital to a company identifying and attracting new customers and business.  Whether a marketing department has a system in place or is looking to improve its existing system, here are some key things to consider.

FIRST CHALLENGE

For many companies, the first challenge may be a surprise.  It’s internal. Marketing and sales are often not together on this.  Why? Marketing’s mission is to attract new customers while sales is to close the deal.   Sales, however, is sometimes accused of driving new customers away. When the latter occurs, the reason is not so much that didn’t know how to close the deal, but more because sales didn’t quite understand their potential new customer.

Both teams need to better support one another.  How? The simplest way to achieve greater success is to work better together which is what every management book says.  But working together means more than marketing handing over a list of new customers to sales. It means interpreting the data and arming sales with deeper information and a better understanding of its potential customers.

SECOND CHALLENGE

What’s extremely helpful is having a program that removes all or most of the guesswork.  All programs identify leads but one that can also prioritize them via predictive and/or behavioral scoring is invaluable.  Not only will such a program help the sales department land purchases more quickly, but it can also eliminate wasted time on prospects who aren’t as qualified. 

WHAT ABOUT NEW MARKETS?

Predictive scoring can be particularly valuable here.  A good program will compare the known characteristics of present customers against those a company believes their potential customers have.  That data can help direct a company to where and to whom it should target its resources and marketing efforts.

One of the biggest challenges is new markets is not giving in too early.  In spite of good data and help from predictive scoring, gaining a foothold in a new market can still take a while.   Don’t give up too soon.

The other important aspect to any market, but particularly a new one, is tracking and analyzing data frequently.  This allows companies that see trends or shifts I customer behavior to make adjustments in a timelier manner. Sales can also be helpful here by providing valuable feedback on how customers are responding and what they’re saying. 

Share the results of success, small and large, with both the marketing and sales teams.  Also be sure to include valuable lessons learned that might be applied in the future. 

Last, but certainly not least.  As always, be sure to honor and steward customers so they feel valued.  The new ones gained will appreciate this. This helps greatly in building customer loyalty.  Continue asking for and seeking comments. Great reviews and comments have the best credibility among potential consumers, especially new website visitors.

How Charitable Partnerships Can Boost a Brand’s Profile

We’ve talked before about the importance of community impact for businesses both large and small. In any community, there are a wide array of ways to get involved and help improve that community for those living and working in it.

Forming charitable partnerships is another way to get involved and improve the community around a business. Of course, businesses can provide support in ways that individuals cannot to a nonprofit or charity. But these partnerships should always be done with tact and taste — the opposite effect can easily happen if a move is done for seemingly ulterior motives.

Finding the Right Charitable Partnership

When selecting a charitable partnership for a business, there are many things to consider. One of these factors is what charity or nonprofit to partner with. Here are some considerations for this decision:

  •     Core values and mission of the business
  •     Nonprofits that align with these core values naturally
  •     Reputation of nonprofit and of the supporting business
  •     Required budget to support a charitable partnership
  •     End goal of charitable partnership

Core values lie at the heart of a business’ purpose. These values are important. They give consumers a look at the belief and value systems of those in executive positions, and they provide a roadmap of how a business conducts itself in public dealings.

With that in mind, it’s equally important for a business to align itself with a nonprofit that also values the same ideas. The purpose and mission of the nonprofit must also make sense. For example, a leather goods company may not look the best if it were to support PETA, nor would PETA be likely to accept their partnership proposal. This is, of course, an extreme example, but it shows that a partnership should be genuine, not self-serving or just “for looks”.

Forming a Charitable Partnership

Once a business has selected a nonprofit to enter into a partnership with, it’s time to figure out exactly what that partnership is going to look like.

Not every partnership has to look the same. Remember, this has to be a beneficial arrangement for both the business and, more importantly, for the nonprofit. Whether the support is financial, in the form of volunteer help, or other services provided, it’s important to set clear expectations and guidelines for the new partnership. Contracts are helpful in this situation, to protect all parties involved.

Before jumping in, take the time to form a strategy about how a business can best assist a nonprofit. Perhaps a marketing agency can offer its services to a local animal shelter each month. Or maybe an event planning portal can donate a portion of the proceeds to local community programs in an effort to create a safer neighborhood in which to host events. Maybe a local consultant can jump on board to help plan a fundraiser for a nonprofit. The possibilities are endless!

Finding creative ways to help out is important too — it doesn’t always have to just be about writing a big check. In fact, finding other ways to get involved is often even more helpful, especially for under-staffed nonprofits.

Aligning business with a nonprofit is a smart move for many reasons, but the biggest motivator should always be the betterment of community or the helping of others. From this motivation can come a great, fulfilling partnership on both sides.

Using Content to build thought leadership

There are many ways to highlight your brand and what it does, content being one of the main and most effective ways of doing so. Content can also be a very effective way to highlight your expertise and knowledge of the industry. The goal is to get your brand front and centre, both online and offline, when people are searching for solutions that you can provide.

In marketing, thought leadership is a tool that establishes you as an expert and authority in your industry. By establishing your brand as a reliable and go-to source of information and expertise in the industry, it will improve brand awareness as well as market value. Here are a few ways in which content can help build thought leadership:

Build credibility

To establish yourself as an expert and authority, you need to prove that you are a credible and reliable source of information. This can be done by illustrating your knowledge and know-how by providing relevant and accurate answers to your audience’s questions and concerns. Providing people solutions and answers will ensure that your audience gets an insight into the level of expertise of your organization and your employees.

For instance, a local fitness studio can demonstrate their knowledge on fitness and nutrition by having instructors contribute to blog posts providing advice and answering questions about health and wellbeing. You can also monitor local Facebook pages and answer any questions locals have pertaining to your industry or in case of offline efforts, go to relevant local events and community gatherings to provide expertise.

Move beyond your website

While your website is an optimal place to provide information and expertise to your audience and customers, expand your online presence beyond your website. The goal is to drive traffic to your website, so find ways on social media and online forums to do so. For example, ask questions to experts in Facebook ads and provide a link to your website for the answer or create short video ads that get people excited and ultimately direct people to your website to learn more.

Foster partnerships

Build strong connections within the community by focusing on strong partnerships rather than sponsorships. Create mutually beneficial relationships with local organizations with whom you share a common audience. These relationships will enhance your visibility, build your reputation since you have the green light from another business and open doors for new opportunities.

The best kind of partnerships are active partnerships. Don’t just be partners on paper, actively promote and foster your partnership by sharing content with your partner, featuring their experts on your website and participating in each other’s events. Don’t forget to share each other’s content on social media as it will help boost your online presence and visibility.

Create useful branding material

Last but not least, don’t be lazy and just hand out brochures as promotional material. The most likely place the brochure will end up is in the trash. Give your audience something that focuses on your expertise and something they are more likely to hang on to or use. If you’re at loss for what kind of promotional material to provide, then even a refrigerator magnet will do the job better than a brochure!

Winning the PR battle with Twitter

Best Practices Using Twitter for PR

Twitter is close to becoming the de facto conversation medium for news and current events commentary outside of the mainstream broadcast media. It’s a source of stories, an archive of opinions, and a real-time stream of perspectives relative to whatever topic is hot at the moment.

So, it stands to reason that any brand hoping to elevate their profile would want to employ Twitter as part of that effort. After all, just look what it did for Wendy’s. But, is Twitter what journalists are looking for in communication from PR pros? According to the polls, not necessarily.

In fact, recent surveys have shown, time and again, that journalists still prefer email as their go-to method for communicating with public relations professionals. Does this mean Twitter is off the table? No, not at all. In fact, in the very same survey, the majority of those same journalists ranked Twitter as their number two communications preference.

Of course, this does come with a few caveats, a fairly straightforward list of guidelines for how and when to contact journalists using Twitter.

As a general rule, if you plan to connect with a journalist on Twitter, direct message them. Don’t just comment on their thread. Additionally, just before you DM them, send them an email with more information about the topic at hand.

Don’t use a DM to create the initial connection. Preferably, you want to have already connected with that journalist in a recognizable way before you send them a substantive DM with a media pitch. Start by determining which journalists you want to connect with. Then read their tweets, explore their perspectives, and respond to or retweet them. Show them that you see them as a person and not just a means to an end.

When using Twitter to pitch a story include specific data points. Statistics and specific facts can be attractive to journalists, because they can quickly and easily determine if your information is on the level and, thus, establish you as a potentially valuable source of information.

Do your best to keep all Twitter communications related to your pitches private. Don’t share them with the world. Especially, if you are seeking to establish or build trust with the media representative. They are less likely to appreciate your information if anyone following them on Twitter also has the same access to that information.

Be certain that all information you DM pitch to reporters on Twitter is specifically relevant to their standard beat, industry, or niche. And, in most cases, there should be an element of immediacy to the content, something they can read and immediately act on, rather than a story that has a slow build or a long shelf life.

Three Ways Charities can Improve Social Media

In terms of developing a strong and cohesive social media strategy, charities usually come across more hurdles due to the limitations in funding. However, the accessibility and ease of the internet has resulted in most charities utilizing social media to raise awareness, drive traffic to their websites, and promote events and publications.

Here are some practical tips for charities to improve visibility, engagement and fundraising efforts:

Know your audience inside out

Get to know every detail about the community you’re addressing – from demographics to hobbies to habits. Profiling is a crucial aspect of a tailoring content when it comes to formulating a strong communication strategy. What is their age group? Where do they live? How do they spend their weekends?

WWF, or the World Wildlife Fund for Nature, was able to use profiling to its advantage. The nonprofit wanted to engage and educate the younger generation on wildlife and environmental concerns. After understanding their audiences habits and preferred social platforms, WWF used SnapChat as the means to distribute their message about how the urgency of protecting endangered species.

Make friends within the industry

Build a strong network of friends within the industry to create mutually beneficial relationships. Reach out to journalists, bloggers, and influencers with a similar audience and work with them to spread your message.

Getting celebrities to use their far-reaching voice can be a great way to get some publicity. The animal right organizations PETA has done this quite effectively by featuring the likes of Naomi Campbell and Alexandra Burke in their birthdays suits saying “I’d rather go naked than wear fur.”

The rise of Corporate Social Responsibility has led to more corporations seeking to give back to society, often through charitable partnerships. This creates a win-win situation, where charities can benefit from the influence and access to funds. The most important thing to keep in mind when engaging in a strategic partnership is to make sure that the values of the company, individual or celebrity are aligned with your brand.

Create a buzz

Creating a buzz around campaigns doesn’t always require fat wallet. You can build a lot of momentum in your campaign by thinking outside the box with unique, creative and unconventional ideas -think of the Ice Bucket Challenge. Messaging that is humorous or has shock value to it is often shared at a much higher rate than messages that incite emotional reactions from the audience.

In 2013, UNICEF Sweden’s campaign was successful in creating a shockwave through its ‘Likes Do Not Save Lives’ campaign, which highlighted the need for the audience to go beyond social media to create a difference. This campaign highlighted the need for explicit calls to action.

There are various things to take into account if you want to make a splash with your campaign. For instance, it’s important to target various platforms to create a larger buzz. Using videos can also be beneficial in reaching and engaging an audience. YouTube is your best friend when it comes to storytelling.

soup

Campbell Soup Executive Apologizes for Conspiracy Comments

Kelly Johnston has been VP of Government Affairs for the Campbell Soup Company since 2002, but the former secretary of the Senate got himself in trouble recently for spreading a widely-discredited conspiracy story about a recent mass migrant caravan.

Speaking out on Twitter, Johnston condemned the caravan as having been “planned and executed” by Open Society, a charity group funded by billionaire political activist George Soros.

According to media reports, here’s what the tweet said said: “See those vans on the right? What you don’t see are the troop carriers and the rail cars taking them north. OpenSociety planned and is executing this, including where they defecate. And they have an army of American immigration lawyers waiting at the border…”

As it turns out, those rumors were “baseless” according to the media and other officials, a fact that has embarrassed Johnston and, by extension, Campbell Soup. The company immediately went on the offense to distance itself from Johnston and any potential PR fallout. In a statement, Campbell said: “the opinions Mr. Johnston expresses on Twitter are his individual views and do not represent the position of Campbell Soup Company…”

Despite this distancing language, guilt by association is not easily avoided. While it isn’t known what was said behind closed doors, it is clear Johnston took measures to try to put this behind him. Both the tweet and his Twitter account are gone, deleted from the social media platform. That was, of course, after a reporter captured the comments and shared them on his own social media account.

Worse, the issue has an unmistakable political connection. Soros is a well-known liberal activist and donor, as well as a frequent target of right-wing disparagement. By casting unfounded aspersions with political intent, the executive drew his company into an unwanted political PR situation.

In a further attempt to stave off this kind of connection to his brand, which does not wish to alienate any consumers, Campbell interim president and CEO, Keith McLoughlin, said,  “Johnston’s comments are inconsistent with how Campbell approaches public debate.” He added that Johnston would be leaving the company soon, and stressed that this decision has been made prior to the tweet.

Once again, we have an imminent negative PR scenario that could have been avoided entirely if the person had been more judicious in their use of social media. While, in most cases, even spirited debate on social media isn’t taboo, openly spreading false and/or specific kinds of opinions can, and often do, come back around on people. It’s better to remember that, while Twitter and other social media platforms feel private, they are megaphones to a very large public audience, whether that’s intended or not.

NFL Ratings Are up, but Does that Mean All is Forgiven?

There’s really no two ways about it, the past few years have not been good for the NFL. Sure, the league made money, but a longstanding PR crisis never quite seemed to go away. Just when the league thought they put it all behind them, it would flare up again. Suddenly, fans were burning jerseys instead of buying tickets. Interest fell. Viewership fell. Merchandise sales fell.

And the worst news, all that was happening for the second year in a row. Coming into this season, things did not look like they had improved. An agreement between the teams and the league stalled, and ostracized players filed lawsuits. Fans were still hotly divided, and both TV pundits and politicians never missed a chance to weigh in and build up base support.

The outlook was understandably shaky going into this season, but league officials kept their fingers crossed, even as they failed to advance any real solutions, either to the protest issue or their PR crisis. But, a bit surprisingly, there’s some light at the end of this very long tunnel. So far this season, ratings are up. They’re only up 2 percent, but that’s a lot better than continuing to fall.

So, how did the league manage to pull out a win even while the issue that created the PR mess continues to simmer behind the scenes? They stopped trying to “figure out” the protest debacle, and, instead, they figured out a way to make the games more exciting.

Over the past few years, NFL excitement has waned. With injuries to players with top star power, even teams in big markets were not showing very much on the field. Since pro sports thrives as much on drama and story as it does on scores and highlights, when the story lagged, so did fan interest.

Cue Super Bowl LII, Philadelphia vs. New England. The Patriots were coming off one of the biggest come-from-behind victories in Super Bowl history. They had a guy who is arguably the best QB ever leading the team, and a head coach that seemed invincible. Philly had a good defense and a Cinderella backup QB who was due to be brought back down to earth. Instead, the Eagles won in what ended up being one of the most entertaining Super Bowls in recent memory. Fans were cheering again… and they weren’t talking about kneeling or anthems.

That trend of entertaining football continued into this season. The league changed some rules ostensibly to protect QBs and other offensive players, but what they really wanted was more scoring. They got it. Scoring has been electric this year, with many games coming right down to the last second, and more than a few being decided in overtime. Fans are flocking back to experience what they loved about football… the drama and the story that had been drowned out by yelling about protests.

So, while it’s a small margin, ratings are up, and they show signs of continuing to improve as the season continues. Does that mean all is forgiven? For some fans, no. But the longer the league can keep touchdowns – and not kneel downs – in the headlines, the better their prospects will be.

Why Can’t Wells Fargo Get Out of its own Way?

Quick, can you tell me how many years it’s been since Wells Fargo was one of the most trusted and appreciated brands in the financial sector? Don’t worry, most people can’t. In fact, Wells Fargo, as a brand, seems to have given up trying to answer that question. The company’s most recent ad campaigns are going almost all the way back to the beginning, talking about events – whether true or apocryphal – that transpired a century ago or more.

But, even as the ads are taking viewers all the way back, the brand itself seems to keep ending up in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. This continued habit of taking bad and making it worse, has a lot of people wondering why Wells Fargo can’t seem to get out of its own way. If the company could stop long enough to focus on a single PR crisis, they may make some headway in brand confidence, but that doesn’t seem to be happening.

That lack of ability to get past one crisis before another negative headline drops has some in the PR business blaming not just a few bad apples but a “faulty culture” for the continued woes. Instead of arguing that Wells Fargo was just too big and too desperate to play it straight, some are saying the company simply lost its way, slipping further into a morass that festered for years, creating a series of interwoven issues up and down the leadership chain.

The result? A culture that allowed the company to miss it when thousands of employees created millions of fake credit accounts, many in the names of very real customers. Thousands of employees were fired, and that could have been that. Wells Fargo should have been able to pick itself up, dust itself off, and get moving again.

Unfortunately, those in charge didn’t look at thousands of bad actors and see a cultural issue. They said everything was fine now that those folks were gone. Turns out, almost no one, including elected officials and federal regulators, agreed with that assessment. Soon, the CEO was sent packing. A new leader, Timothy Sloan, was brought in and given the task of giving Wells Fargo a fresh start.

But the optics were terrible. Sloan, after all, was a longtime Wells Fargo guy, and those who saw institutional corruption didn’t see renewal coming from within. Worse than the optics, though, was the messaging. While Wells Fargo promised to do better, their campaigns failed to take responsibility, and the problems were rarely, if ever, addressed.

Then came more horrendous headlines. Charging customers for insurance they didn’t want and never asked for. Hitting mortgage customers with incorrect fees. And the insult to injury, a “computer glitch” that accidentally foreclosed on hundreds of properties. Fines were levied and headlines were merciless. Wells Fargo could not seem to stop driving into the proverbial ditch.

And, speaking of poor optics, in response to the flurry of negative headlines, Wells Fargo CFO John Shrewsbury went after the media, accusing the news of over-emphasizing and over-dramatizing Wells Fargo’s missteps. While he may have a point, it certainly was not one that millions of jaded customers was in any mood to hear.

And that, in a nutshell, may signal why the company can’t seem to get back in the good graces of their customers. Instead of changing in the present they are offering visions of the past and complaints of unfair treatment.