Tag customer service

Social Media Marketing Is About Business… And, That’s No B.S.

By now, you have probably heard someone say that your business should be using social media to help market your products or services.

There is no doubt that the other decision-makers in your company have heard that, also.

There is a chance that they have decided to take a wait and see attitude or maybe they even rolled their eyes and decided that they didn’t believe the hype.

On the other hand, they may have decided to take the chance to see what they could accomplish by using social media as a marketing tool. In my opinion, that’s the smart decision.

No Bullshit Social Media

In their book “No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing,” (affiliate link) Jason Falls and Erik Deckers explain that when used correctly, social media can be used to enhance branding and awareness, protect brand reputation, enhance public relations, build community, enhance customer service, facilitate research and development, and drive leads and sales. All of which will have an effect on your bottom line.

As they say, “When you add the word marketing to social media, it’s about business.”

Social Media Marketing Is Not Free

A lot of people think that social media marketing is free. This is not true.

Sure, it might be free to set up a Twitter account for your business and create a Facebook page, but you still have to pay someone to handle your social media marketing efforts, not to mention any other overhead costs that will be incurred (e.g., the costs of computers, electricity, etc.)

In fact, if your business uses social media to enhance customer service, your costs might actually increase.

This is not because it costs more to reach customers using social media. In fact, the opposite is usually true.

However, when you use social media to handle customer complaints, you might actually be able to reach unsatisfied customers who might not have made the effort to call or email your business to complain.

As Falls and Deckers suggest in their book, “Measure the total number of issues your customer service department handles as a whole. That includes phone and online issues. Has the number gone up because of the use of social media? Then that means a lot of those customer complaints were already out there, but you were able to identify them and solve the problem. It might mean you’re handling more issues on the whole, but it also means you’re increasing customer satisfaction.”

Final Thoughts

In my opinion, businesses that are taking a wait and see attitude or dismissing social media marketing altogether are definitely leaving money on the table.

As Jason Falls and Erik Deckers point out in their book, social media marketing can be used to help your business achieve many of its business goals. That is, if your business uses social media correctly.

If you are looking for suggestions on how to use social media for marketing purposes, I’d suggest picking up a copy of the book and giving it a read. It is filled with useful information and valuable case studies that reveal what has and hasn’t worked for other businesses in the past.

And, that’s no bullshit.

Photo credit: Tomas Fano on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Every Interaction With a Consumer Is Marketing

Others have said it before, but I will say it again. Marketing is not handled by just the people in a company’s marketing department. Marketing is everyone’s responsibility.

I was reminded of this yesterday, when I was at the post office.

I arrived only 15 minutes before the post office closed with enough items to ship that it required two trips to the customer service counter.

The lady who was in front of me during my first trip to the customer service counter was clearly angry. However, she wasn’t angry at the people working behind the counter.

She was actually angry at the company that she had purchased an item from.

I didn’t hear all of the conversation that she had with the postal worker, but what I did hear her say was that she was having a hard time trying to return the item, and that only after she talked to someone in the company’s marketing department did they give her permission to send the item back.

My guess is that the person in the marketing department who gave her the permission to send the item back was worried about the brand’s reputation and the effect that this transaction could have if she let others know about the bad customer service that she had received from other parts of the company.

In the age of social media, every time a person has a bad experience with a company creates an opportunity for a public relations disaster.

At a minimum, if an angry customer lets others in his or her network know about the bad customer service that he or she received, there is a chance that the people hearing about the incident will think twice before using that company the next time they are looking for a similar product or service.

If enough people have bad experiences and let others know about it on Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, or any other site where people can voice their opinions online, there is no doubt that it is going to be noticed in the future when potential customers are doing product research online.

And, if the person receiving the bad customer service is a celebrity, it can really create a headache for the brand’s marketing and public relations teams. Just ask United.

Today, word of mouth has a greater significance thanks to social networking sites, review sites, and search engines like Google or Bing. Therefore, providing great customer service is more important than ever.

As the tagline of my blog states, “Every interaction with a consumer IS marketing.”

On a side note, because I got to the post office so late, I just got my second set of boxes to the counter as they were closing. The postal worker stayed a little late on a Friday night in order to get my boxes delivered on time without any grumbling or complaining at all. For that, I thank them.

This, by the way, is the upside of word of mouth. That is, when you provide great customer service, many of your customers will let their friends and family know about that, too.

Photo credit: truds09 on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid

On Monday, I went to the post office to ship a couple of items that I had sold on eBay last weekend.

During the transaction, the postal employee working behind the counter asked the usual questions about the contents of each package and how I wanted to ship each item (i.e., Express Mail, Priority Mail, Parcel Post, etc.)

What I usually do is ask how much it will cost to ship the item via Priority Mail versus Parcel Post. If the item can be shipped Priority Mail within the amount that I charged the buyer based on my estimate, I go with that. Otherwise, I ship it Parcel Post, as I mention in the listing. Either way, I insure the package for loss or damage.

In this case, I mentioned that I wanted to send the items Parcel Post based on the amount that I charged each buyer.

After hearing that I was selling items on eBay, the postal worker offered some friendly advice on how to ship the items. She said that other customers who sell on eBay skip the insurance and just get delivery confirmation to save some money. According to her customers, USPS insurance is not necessary because eBay will cover the cost of a lost or damaged item.

As luck would have it, I ended up being waited on by the same postal employee when I returned on Wednesday.

Upon hearing that I wanted to continue shipping the same way that I had in the past, the postal worker again reminded me of the advice that she had given me on Monday. When I politely stated that I wanted to continue doing it my usual way, she got somewhat argumentative and stated that it is better to skip the insurance and use the money I’d save to ship each of the items Priority Mail.

Nevertheless, I shipped the items the same way that I had in the past. However, I was left scratching my head, wondering why she seemed so upset about how I ship items that I sell on eBay. My only guess is that it made her mad that I had dismissed her advice.

Keep in mind, I’m not one who will drink the Kool-Aid. That is, I don’t believe someone’s argument without having some sort evidence to support it. And, the only evidence that she supplied was information that she received from her other customers. However, just because other people say that something is true doesn’t necessarily mean that it is.

In the end, I’m the one who is accountable for the transaction. Therefore, the decisions that I make are going to be based on facts, not hearsay.

After researching this issue further, I found out that eBay does offer what they call ShipCover insurance. However, you have to pay for it (something that the postal employee either didn’t know about or forgot to mention.) Furthermore, although it costs less than USPS insurance, in some cases you actually pay more when you add in the $0.75 for delivery confirmation.

The takeaway from this post is that whether in your personal or professional life, don’t make a decision based on what someone tells you unless they can give you solid evidence to support their argument.

On the bright side, I know that one of the packages that I sent on Monday arrived safe and sound and that the customer was very happy, as he gave me a positive review on eBay. This goes to show that the United States Postal Service is very good at delivering packages to people all over the country. And, for that, I want to thank them.

However, I’m glad that I didn’t drink the Kool-Aid.

Photo credit: jasonlam on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Providing a Great Work Environment Is Good for Business

A recent article that was posted on CNNMoney.com reminded me of the fact that providing a great work environment for its employees is extremely important for any company.

Companies that provide a great work environment for their employees not only generate good will within the community, but they also tend to be staffed with employees who are happy with their jobs. Furthermore, these companies should also have an easier time recruiting the top performers in their respective professions.

Having happy, top-performing employees should translate into increased productivity, better products and superb customer service and thus, happy customers.

Social Media Extends Reach

When a company provides its employees with a great work environment, word is bound to get out.

Given how easy it is for people to share information on the many social networking sites that are available to them, positive buzz can spread rather quickly.

Companies that are lucky enough to be included on a list of the best companies to work for, similar to the list that was posted on CNNMoney.com, receive great publicity by just being included on the list. However, because it is so easy to share articles via any of the social networking sites that are currently available, being included on this type of list is more valuable than ever before.

Final Thoughts

In a world where a person’s opinion about a company is only an upload, post or tweet away from being made public, really everything that a company does is another opportunity to get the word out about the company and its products and services.

Therefore, a company that is looking for new ways to market its products and services might want to look at the work environment that it is providing its employees.

Providing a great work environment can help a company attract and retain happy, top-performing employees who can help satisfy the needs of its customers.

There is also a very good possibility that a company with high levels of employee and customer satisfaction will receive positive mentions on the Internet.

In fact, if the company is really lucky, it will be included on a list of the best companies to work for. That’s great publicity that is now easy to share.

Therefore, it’s easy to see that providing a great work environment is good for business.

Photo credit: brionv on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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The Business Decision: Unintended Consequences

Photo credit: NATALIA PHOTOS on Flickr.Every waking minute, humans make choices.

Do you wear the blue shirt or the white one? Do you eat lunch at Subway or McDonald’s? Do you eat lunch at all?

Sometimes, external factors influence the decisions that we make. But in the end, we are still making a decision.

When it comes to business, the decisions that we make, particularly those that involve spending a large sum of money, can have consequences on the business beyond the area that is immediately impacted by the decision being made.

Insights From the Retail World

This topic is addressed in the book, titled “Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping—Updated and Revised for the Internet, the Global Consumer, and Beyond,” (affiliate link) by Paco Underhill.

Underhill explains that, “Retailing 101 starts with the notion that a store has three distinct aspects: design (meaning the premises), merchandising (whatever you put in them) and operations (whatever employees do). These Big Three, while seemingly separate, are in fact completely and totally intertwined, interrelated and interdependent, meaning that when somebody makes a decision regarding one, a decision has been made about the other two as well.”

Underhill goes on to say that, “The larger lesson here is that if one of the Big Three is strengthened, it takes some of the pressure off the others. If one is weakened, it shifts a greater burden onto the remaining two. This is not a good thing or a bad thing—it just is. It’s the geometry that rules the shopping universe.”

To illustrate his point, he gives several real world examples, including an instance where the boss of ladies’ shoes in a famous department store decided to increase the amount of display space for the merchandise by decreasing the amount of space devoted to the register area.

“As a result, the clerks who once used the counter for bagging had to start placing the bags on the floor and lowering the shoes in,” writes Underhill. “This added several steps to the process and made ringing up sales more arduous for the clerks, who usually wore pretty fancy shoes themselves. By the end of a day these women were hurting and dragging—and a little bitter, understandably. As part of our research we trained video cameras on the register and then, back at the office, we timed transactions with a stopwatch; at 4:30 P.M., it took almost twice as long to ring up a sale as it did at 11:00 A.M. Shrinking the counter space also added to the general clutter, making transactions less crisp. The overall result was that a mild improvement in merchandising required a change in design, which hurt operations quite a bit. In order to show off a few more shoes (like maybe a dozen pairs), transaction time grew longer, customer patience grew thin and employee energy and morale grew short. Considering that employees sell shoes better than any display, this was a very bad decision—all because someone who should have known better forgot that when you change one thing, everything changes.”

Unintended Consequences Are Not Always Bad

The side effects of a business decision aren’t always bad.

For example, after a certain period of time, businesses that decide to add social media to their overall marketing mix might get discouraged if they don’t see the increases in sales that they had hoped for.

However, as has been shown, social media can have a positive effect on a business’s bottom line in other ways (e.g., by decreasing operating expenses, increasing visibility in search engines, etc.)

If you are interested in further information, check out a blog post that I wrote this summer, titled “The Hidden ROI of Social Media Marketing.”

Finite Resources

It is obvious that a business decision can have an effect on other areas of a business by using its finite resources (e.g., time, money, manpower, etc.)

If you invest your resources in a specific project, those resources become unavailable for other projects.

Therefore, if you have a fixed budget and you want to implement a new project that requires a significant amount of your financial resources, then you are going to have to find ways to save money in other areas of the business (at least until the new project becomes self-sustaining, if it ever does.)

This might mean cutting some other project.

However, the project that is being cut might have had unidentified financial benefits. (This muddies the waters even further.)

Conclusion

It’s easy to see how one business decision can have a huge effect on a business’s bottom line.

It pays to try to identify how each business decision that you make influences other areas of your business before implementation.

However, because we don’t live in a perfect world, we are not always able to identify potential problems before they exist.

Therefore, it is important to continually monitor and measure your business efforts and make adjustments whenever necessary.

The key takeaway from this post is that every business decision that we make has an effect on other areas of the business. In other words, each business decision has unintended consequences.

Photo credit: NATALIA PHOTOS on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Sometimes It Pays to Trust Your Gut

Photo credit: eliduke on Flickr.As I mentioned in my last blog post, it is important that organizations measure the success of all of their marketing efforts.

In most cases, measurement is required to justify the costs associated with each marketing campaign.

Furthermore, when you monitor the results of each campaign on an ongoing basis, you give yourself the required information to make adjustments midstream. This will allow you to add more resources to your more profitable campaigns, and eliminate the ones that are underperforming.

Hopefully, this will also prevent you from having to scramble to meet your monthly, quarterly or yearly goals at the last minute.

The Counterpoint

The reasons for continually monitoring your marketing campaigns are very clear.

However, the proper actions to take as a result of what the metrics are telling you are not so obvious.

The problem is, there may be some residual benefits of your marketing efforts that are not so easily measured.

For example, as I pointed out in a blog post, titled “The Hidden ROI of Social Media Marketing,” when you add social media into your marketing mix, you might not be getting the desired short-term increases in sales. However, your social media efforts might help decrease expenses, put out fires or have a positive effect on where your brand appears on a search engine results page. All of these can have a positive effect on your bottom line.

There is also the chance that while you might not be reaching a lot of consumers with your marketing efforts, you might be reaching the right consumers.

In other words, you might be reaching the key influencers who have the ability to spread the news about how great your product is and, in the process, persuade others to buy it, instead of purchasing your competitors’ products.

In his book, “CRUSH IT! Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion,” (affiliate link) Gary Vaynerchuk gives a perfect hypothetical example of how this might happen.

“What if your analytics tell you that you’ve only had seven views on Break.com in two months?” writes Vaynerchuk. “Are you going to stop posting to that platform? The data are telling you that you should probably drop it, but what you don’t know is that one of those seven viewers is a producer for The Today Show. There’s no reason to think that can’t happen.”

In Vaynerchuk’s example, if you stop posting to Break.com, you might be cutting off your only line of communication to a person with the power to spread your message all over the world.

There is a chance that the hypothetical producer for The Today Show would like your content so much that he or she would seek you out on other platforms.

However, he or she might not.

Are you willing to take that risk?

Conclusion

As I have said before, it is very important to measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns.

However, the actions that you should take as a result of what the metrics are telling you are not so cut and dried.

As a previous blog post alluded to, it is very possible that you might not be measuring the right things.

And, as Gary Vaynerchuk points out in his book, it is also possible that you might not be able to measure the true reach or effectiveness of your marketing campaign, if you are reaching a key influencer who is willing to become a brand advocate and spread your message to a wider audience.

This points to the fact that while the metrics may be telling you to do one thing, the correct response might be to gamble and do the opposite.

In the end, it might be prudent to trust your gut.

Photo credit: eliduke on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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The Hidden ROI of Social Media Marketing

Photo credit: Usraek on Flickr.As a former survey researcher, I understand the importance of measuring the success of your marketing efforts.

If you don’t have a way to measure how well any given marketing campaign is doing, how do you know whether or not it’s worth the time and effort? And, maybe more important, how are you going to justify its existence to senior management?

Measuring the success of your marketing efforts is important.

This is true whether we are talking about marketing campaigns that are delivered via traditional marketing channels or those that take advantage of the new media marketing channels that have risen as a result of the World Wide Web.

Given the fact that social media marketing is still fairly new, it may receive more scrutiny from senior management than your more traditional marketing efforts.

Different Ways to Measure ROI of Social Media Marketing Campaigns

Josh Bernoff, senior vice president of idea development at Forrester Research, wrote an interesting article on the ROI of social media marketing campaigns in the February 28, 2011 edition of the American Marketing Association’s Marketing News, titled “A Balanced Perspective on Social ROI.”

In the article, Bernoff points to the fact that there are many different ways to measure the success of your social media marketing efforts beyond the more obvious financial measures.

“For example, Secret deodorant wanted more women to hear about the benefits of its product,” writes Bernoff. “Instead of just advertising, Procter & Gamble and its agency, imc2, created a Facebook page about Lindsey Van, a female ski jumper who was unable to compete in the 2010 Winter Olympics because there is no women’s ski jumping category. By encouraging women to sign a petition on Lindsey’s behalf—and to persuade their friends to do the same—P&G attracted over 400,000 fans to the page.”

He goes on to mention that after the campaign, online surveys of Facebook users and Nielsen Brand Lift surveys revealed that there was an 8% increase in women who thought Secret had a better product than its competitors, and there was an 11% increase in purchase intent.

He also mentions that social media can save a brand a lot of money with risk-avoidance measures. That is, brands can use social media to respond to negative comments from customers that are posted online. It can also be used to debunk the inevitable urban legends that are spread via the various social media platforms.

Bernoff also points out that your brand’s social media efforts can have a positive effect on where your brand’s website appears in a search engine results page, increasing the likelihood that your brand will be found when your customers do a search on Google or any of the other search engines.

Furthermore, he mentions that financial returns aren’t limited to increases in sales. Your brand’s social media marketing efforts can also help decrease expenses, which will have a positive effect on your brand’s bottom line.

If you get a chance, read Josh Bernoff’s article; it has some very interesting insights.

Conclusion

In the current economy, brands need to do everything that they can to get consumers to purchase their products and services rather than choose those of their competitors.

As many brands know, social media marketing is becoming a more important, if not necessary, ingredient in the overall success of a brand.

However, as with all of your marketing efforts, the success of a social media marketing campaign needs to be measured in order to justify its value to senior management.

As Josh Bernoff’s article points out, there are many ways to measure the success of a social media marketing campaign beyond the more obvious short-term increases in sales.

This is something to consider when evaluating where to spend next year’s marketing budget.

Photo credit: Usraek on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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The Power of a Positive Online Review

Photo credit: sunbeltbadger on Flickr.As I have mentioned in other blog posts, the Web has changed the rules when it comes to spreading information about local businesses.

This is particularly true when we look at reviews that are given to local hotels, stores and restaurants.

Before the advent of the World Wide Web, when a local hotel, store or restaurant was given a good (or bad) review, it was usually read in the few days after it ran in the newspaper or magazine that it was written for. (If it was syndicated in other publications, it might have been read by even more people for a short duration of time.)

If a hotel or restaurant was lucky, it would get a positive review in the Forbes Travel Guide (formerly the Mobile Travel Guide) or some similar type of publication.

However, even when the business is given a positive review in this type of publication, it doesn’t reach as many potential customers as a similar review could, when it is posted online.

A Food Critic’s Online Review

An online review can potentially be available to readers for years after the review is written.

In her book, “Marketing in the Age of Google: Your Online Strategy IS Your Business Strategy,” (affiliate link) Vanessa Fox gives a perfect example of this when she talks about how a positive review can influence sales for many years as a result of a high ranking on a Google search results page.

“I’m writing this from Bologna, Italy, and a little earlier today, I decided to venture into the town for lunch,” writes Fox. “But how do I pick a location in a city famous for its food? With the help of search, of course. Searching for [best place to have lunch in Bologna Italy] brought up an article in The Guardian called “24 hours in Bologna: Foodie Heaven” that listed five promising choices. These five restaurants didn’t only get the lift in visibility during the week that article initially ran in the paper and only among regular readers. The article was written in 2000 and was still showing up on the first page of search results. One positive review has been sending customers to these restaurants for nine years (and counting).”

That’s pretty awesome, if you ask me.

User-Generated Reviews

With websites like Yelp, Epinions, Facebook and Angie’s List, your customers have the ability to become your best or worst critics. Even with sites like Twitter and Foursquare, customers can leave comments that can influence your bottom line.

As mentioned in a previous post, titled “A Case Study on the Importance of Good Customer Service: Sig Samuels Dry Cleaning Co.,” numerous positive user-generated reviews on these sites can bring you business, with the help of Google and other search engines.

Mainstream Media

Okay, maybe this doesn’t technically count as a review, but even a positive mention of a restaurant by a celebrity, online, can send customers to a restaurant for many years.

Case in point, after reading a post by Anderson Cooper on ac360.blogs.cnn.com, titled “Anderson’s View: The calm (and crabcakes) before the storm,” I decided that the next time that I was in New Orleans, I would have to visit Oceana to try the crabcakes.

After visiting Oceana, I let my Twitter followers know about it with the following tweets:

“Oceana Grill is the bar in the French Quarter that Anderson Cooper ate at during Hurricane Gustav. http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com/2008/08/page/2

“I had the Louisiana Crabmeat Cakes topped with crawfish cream sauce yesterday…”

“It’s the crawfish cream sauce that makes them delicious. www.oceanagrill.com

Yeah, my tweets were a little cheesy, but the crabcakes were tasty.

Conclusion

As I mentioned in the last post, the World Wide Web has changed the world… literally.

And, with the “permanency” of information on the Web, a good online review can have a positive effect on your business for years after it is published. This is true whether the review is coming from a well-know critic or one of your regular customers.

This is another reason why great customer service, combined with a great product, is even more important in a world where people can find information about your business with only a few clicks of a mouse.

Photo credit: sunbeltbadger on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Educating Employees About Brand Advocacy

Photo credit: wovox on Flickr.Word-of-mouth advertising is talked about a lot these days, thanks in part to the increased connectivity that Web 2.0 has given us in recent years.

It is not surprising, then, that brands all over the world have put an increased focus on providing the best customer service possible, in an effort to transform customers into brand advocates.

However, some of the best potential brand advocates walk through the front door every day, but are often overlooked. That’s right; I’m talking about the brand’s employees.

Brand Advocate Defined

As mentioned in the post, titled “10 Definitions of a “Brand Advocate”,” on blog.zuberance.com, people have slightly different ways of defining a brand advocate.

For the purpose of this post, I am going to use the definition given by Sarah Essary, Senior Account Executive at Edelman Digital, and blogger at consumingpr.com. In the blog.zuberance.com post, Sarah is quoted as saying, “I would say a brand advocate is willing to speak positive about a brand without much or any direct incentive.”

Employees as Brand Advocates

The brand’s employees (should) know the brand’s products and services better than anyone else.

They also interact with the brand’s customers all the time. In fact, they often serve as representatives of the brand.

So, who better to serve the role of brand advocate?

Keep in mind, I’m not talking about the interactions that employees have with customers while they are being compensated by the brand.

I’m talking about what the brand’s employees say about the brand in their lives outside of work.

The Human Factor

Remember, employees are people, too. They have access to the same online tools. They talk to people outside of work, just like everyone else.

If they are singing the praises of the brand, that is some of the best publicity that the brand can receive.

On the other hand, if a brand’s employees don’t think highly of the brand and let other people know about it, it could cast serious doubt about the quality of the brand’s products and services in the minds of its customers and potential customers.

After all, employees should be in the know about the brand’s products and services, right?

Conclusion

Considering the fact that employees have first-hand knowledge about the brand’s products and services, there is a good chance that what they say about the brand will have at least some influence on the purchase decisions of the people who they interact with.

Therefore, it is important that employees are given the information needed to effectively communicate the brand promise to others.

Furthermore, all employees should be trained to understand the importance of word-of-mouth advertising. And, when I say all employees, I mean all employees, from the CEO to the college interns.

What they say “off the clock” can potentially have an effect on the brand’s bottom line. This is particularly true when employees have public conversations online.

I’m not saying that brands should censor what their employees can say outside of work. What I am suggesting, though, is making their employees aware that what they say about the brand does make a difference.

On a side note, it also doesn’t hurt to make sure that the brand is providing a healthy work environment for its employees.

If employees are happy with their jobs and are proud to work for the brand, they will be more likely to tout the greatness of the brand. And, that, after all, is what being a brand advocate is all about.

Photo credit: wovox on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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A Case Study on the Importance of Good Customer Service: Sig Samuels Dry Cleaning Co.

Sig Samuels Dry Cleaning Co.Many people will agree that having a dry cleaner that you can trust is a fairly important thing (it really only takes the loss of one of your favorite shirts to learn that lesson.)

So, when I moved to Midtown Atlanta in the summer of 2010, one of the first things that I did was jump on Google and search for local dry cleaners.

Among the top search results at that time was a listing for Sig Samuels Dry Cleaning Co. on the review site, Yelp. (I just did the same search today, and Sig Samuels Dry Cleaning Co. is listed on the landing page that is linked to the top four search results when I searched for “Dry Cleaners Midtown Atlanta,” with three of those links coming from the Yelp website. Note: I am not counting the results coming from Google Places, but they are listed there, too.)

As it turns out, Sig Samuels Dry Cleaning Co. has a very loyal customer base. And, they are also very vocal on the Internet.

As of today, there are 28 reviews for Sig Samuels Dry Cleaning Co. on the Yelp website. In comparison, Midtown Wash has only 9 reviews. Furthermore, all of the other dry cleaners in Midtown Atlanta listed on the Yelp website have fewer than four reviews.

What’s more impressive is the fact that most of the reviews for Sig Samuels Dry Cleaning Co. talk about their great customer service.

And, they don’t only get great reviews on Yelp. Look them up on atlanta.citysearch.com, insiderpages.com, or kudzu.com and you get similar results.

The point that I am trying to make is that customer service has a huge impact on the way that your customers see your business.

However, it goes further than that.

When you add in all the ways that your customers communicate with each other these days, the word-of-mouth advertising generated online can have a huge impact on your bottom line. This is something to remember the next time your company interacts with your customers.

Oh, and by the way, I chose to give Sig Samuels Dry Cleaning Co. a try. And, I’m pleased to say that I have no regrets.

In the future, I plan to write about other businesses that are known for their exceptional customer service. If you know of any businesses that you think I should focus on, please feel free to comment below.

Photo credit: A Year of Yesterdays on Tumblr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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