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Never. Stop. Networking. Ever

Networking or word of mouth is still among the most powerful things you can do to expand your sphere of influence, increase your base of potential clients, and grow your business.

This is why at FocalPoint, we encourage networking. Our best tip? Ask the most influential friends and powerful business associates you know to introduce you to the people they think you should get to know to expand your business. Be sure you ask for a warm introduction – a shared business card followed up with an email to both you and the new contact.

I know what you’re thinking. People often agree to network with one another and don’t follow up. It happens to me as well. So make sure you agree to do network for them first. Then do it. Chances are good you will receive the same treatment in return.

Then what? Reach out. Get to know them those contacts. Emails are great for that first introduction. But a 30 minute coffee first thing in the morning is even better. Especially if you buy. Talk about your company and what makes it tick. Tell them what your perfect client looks like. And your next product launch. The best thing you can do is ask for their advice. People love to offer advice. They feel good offering it and you build a bond. You’ll now have a new contact who is going to look out for you and send new business your way. And maybe provide you with a new business idea or two you hadn’t considered.

Someone ultimately knows someone that can help you out and even better, will want to.

Networking. The incredibly powerful, original marketing tool that still works wonders. It’s personal. It’s effective. And the best part? Other than your time, it’s free.

Here’s my card. What can I do to help you?

Brien Richmond Business Card

 

Er, what should I say about my business on social media?

Here at Focal Point, we frequently talk to business owners and managers tasked with using social media as a part of their overall marketing plan. Often these folks can pull up their latest Twitter feed, link to YouTube, post on their Facebook page, and download their LinkedIN updates, but just aren’t very sure what to say when it comes to business use.

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Chances are, you’re thinking about social media all wrong

Hitting-your-sweet-spot
Just about everyone is on the social media bandwagon. But chances are good that most folks using social media are misusing it and overlooking its real purpose.

At FocalPoint, we know that social media is about connecting with the people in your sweet spot. In other words, your customers, potential customers, those who are interested in what you do, or people with similar interests. Social media is about building relationships, establishing rapport and networking.

We also know that what social media is not about, is sales. In fact, using social media to sell is a real turnoff to those tuning in to your posts. Social media used correctly, is a gradual, organic development toward building trust in what you have to say. If your blogs and tweets are about sales and laden with calls to action, your followers will soon lose interest.

That said, effective social media will gradually generate more interest in your products and may build business as a result. But there is no direct link. It’s a gradual thing.

Social MediaRemaining active on social media sites is another big plus which is often overlooked. Multiple quality postings will not only increase awareness of your brand (name recognition as well us increasing understanding of who you are and what you do), it will also boost your company’s rank on search engines. But only if you produce regular quality posts. The more you post, the faster your brand will inch up Google’s search engine ladder. (We know because we track this information for our clients.)

Effective social media use will also show that you and your company are viable, contemporary entities that know what’s going on, know your business, and know how to communicate the knowledge to its best advantage.

Got a question about something with social media we didn’t answer? Ask us! Heck, we might even write a post about your question.

 

6 Approaches to Effective Marketing to Millennials

If you’re still marketing your message the same way you always have, chances are good you’re missing out on motivating top potential customers, the Millennials. This is true even if you are taking advantage of new social media forms of communication. You need to make sure you are using them in a way that aligns with how Millennials think and behave.

Millennials The young adult generation born between 1980 and 2000, Millennials are rapidly increasing their spendable income. Along with Gen-Xers, they are the future – and they need to be communicated with in a way that resonates well with them.

A marketing message that speaks to the older generation is going to come off tired and boring to Millennials. That said, some marketing truths are still solid.  These truths include telling a compelling story and offering an appealing, honest and humorous take on your product or service.  Allow me to offer up 6 quick things to think about before planning your next online marketing campaign…

6 Things To  Consider Before Spending Your Next Marketing Dollar

  1. Boredom is the kiss of death. Millennials thrive on edgy.
  2. They are multi-taskers, used to balancing many activities. They look for flexibility in hours, products and usage.
  3. Millennials crave individuality and identity. They want to be heard and understood. When you provide a micro-narratives (small unique stories that rely on human experience) rather than meta-narratives (generalizations), you picque their interest.
  4. They research, absorb and analyze new information far more quickly than Boomers.
  5. They love humor in unexpected places (including at your expense).
  6. They want to give back and will seek out organizations that do the same.

That’s asking a lot of your marketing. But the good news is that in today’s market, you can put smaller, more individualized marketing programs together in a variety of different places to target the Millennial market. That’s where we come into the picture.

Focal Point Understands Millennial Marketing

customer service_Focal_PointAt Focal Point, we know Millennials will research the organizations that interest them. We can help you build a solid online presence in a variety of mediums. We’ll make sure you are found in the right places with the right message.

Once you’re found, you will need to be memorable. So, we’ll help create a brand identity that will look good on small screens like cell phones and large screens like High def TV in interesting colors that say something subtle or brash about what you are all about. (Tall order, we know.)

We also consider using humor because it works so well with the Millennial crowd. That is, provided it is self-effacing, or sly, or edgy or pokes fun at something they can relate to.

Lastly, we’ll show you how to talk about your flexibility in a way that is approachable. And share what you’re doing in the community, too. Millennials are not as selfish as advertised. They get that giving back thing. Big time.

Start Marketing To The Millenials Now

If you are getting the idea that Millennials are pretty cool consumers, we couldn’t be more pleased. Now, let’s get this passionate, creative and edgy conversation started!

Why Your Free Content Isn’t Really Free

Free Content Doesn’t Exist

I am a big proponent of putting out free content on a regular basis to drive leads.  I understand that the most effective forms of content marketing are all about solving problems, answering questions and building trust.  The fact that educating leads turns them into better customers is not lost on me.  And while I say all of this and use the term “free content,” I understand that it’s never truly free.

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Using Social Media for Customer Service is Now Mandatory

customer service_Focal_PointDo You Use Social Media for Customer Service?

Utilizing social media for customer service is no longer optional, it’s mandatory.  While many digital marketers have heard stories about large companies who are using social media effectively as a customer support channel, there are a lot of small to medium size businesses who are missing the boat.  Many businesses still see handling customer requests and complaints via social media as a burden rather than the incredible opportunity it really is.  These businesses see it as an area that requires time and resources, instead of an area that can create die-hard brand advocates.  But as I look at the social media marketing landscape as a whole, I see not having an online customer service plan as an Achilles heel.

The reason why I say this confidently is that the two social media giants – Facebook and Twitter have continued to take big steps toward making customer service a priority.  First it was back in April when Twitter allowed direct messages to be sent to users that are not following you.  Then, most recently, Facebook added a feature allowing business pages to manage saved replies making it easier than ever to answer FAQ’s.  Both of these moves indicate to me that there’s more to come and plenty of opportunity for businesses to start taking advantage of these features right now.  Let’s take a closer look…

Direct Messages on Twitter

twitter-direct-message

If you remember, it used to be that in order to direct message someone on Twitter, they first had to be following you.  This created another layer of friction when dealing with customer service online.  Let’s say I had a complaint about a cold cup of coffee I received at a Starbucks.  I would be forced to post that complaint publicly on Twitter as a regular @ reply unless Starbucks was already following me on Twitter (highly unlikely).  Then, in order for them to respond to me via a direct message, I would have to be following their account.  Kind of messy, right?  Not only did it mean more complaints posted publicly, it meant additional steps just to get something resolved.  This often added frustration to these type of communications online.

Now Twitter has done away with these added steps.  On the downside, it means anyone can direct message you which could be a little strange, but on the plus side it means customer service on Twitter is easier and faster than ever.  And when you really stop to think about it, that’s the way it should be.  Customers expect to get response and get them fast using social media.  In fact, often times they’ll use social media when unable to get through to someone using other traditional types of communication such as a phone call or email.  Twitter has made it easier and faster than ever by rolling out this update to make it the preferred social network for customer service.  Why?  Because you are limited to just 140 characters, so you know it’s going to be fast!

Need help using Twitter for customer service?  Please contact us today to talk.

Replies on Facebook

facebook-saved-replies

Facebook is driving more attention than ever to its messages.  Each time a message is received by a brand page, there are additional notifications (beyond the standard number icon) showing how long the average response time is and how many messages have not been responded to.  Facebook is urging brands to respond to all messages as fast as possible.  In fact, if you average less than 5 minutes responding to 90% of your messages, a special green icon and notice can be adding to your Facebook page letting fans know you have extremely fast response times.

Further, Facebook recently made it possible to save replies; even creating pre-populated messages that can be used to answer FAQ’s.  There’s personalization that can be added to the messages such as a greeting which automatically pulls in the Facebook user’s first name and email signature style closings which can even use saved photos and emoticons.  This makes it easy to build up a library of answers which can be reused over and over again further speeding up response time.  I think there’s plenty more to come from Facebook yet in 2015 on the customer service front, but this was a great start.

Need help using Facebook for customer service?  Please contact us today to talk.

Strategic Planning

Moving forward, it’s clear there will be even more of an emphasis on using social media for customer service than ever before.  This gives businesses who “get it” a distinct advantage over those who show up late for the party, or don’t show up at all.  It’s going to be expected more and more that companies of all sizes are staffed and prepared to respond to requests via social media in a timely manner.  That’s just the bottom line.  And those who fail to do so, will risk gaining a poor reputation by getting blasted in online reviews and comments.   It must be a part of any social media marketing strategic plan moving forward.

Need help understanding how to use social media for customer service?  Please contact us today to talk.