Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Challenge Yourself with a Self-Assessment

There is tremendous power in self-reflection. I’ve found that implementing the practice as part of an annual performance review can be incredibly insightful and productive.

Our assessment challenges individuals to not only take stock of their personal performance and best practices, but also to look at their performance through the lens of their customers and co-workers. The way that I use this assessment tool is to ask each sales rep to either write their answers, or just prepare for a discussion with me. During a meeting to review, I offer my feedback and opinions on some of the questions; but the true value of the exercise is challenging them to look in the mirror. The questions are outlined below:

Self-Assessment for Sales Team

General:
  • In general, do you enjoy sales? Why?
  • Do you enjoy your job: Selling the products and services Shamrock provides?
  • What do you like/dislike about working for Shamrock?
  • How do you assess your attitude? What would your co-workers say about your attitude?
  • How do you assess your work ethic? How would your sales team define your work ethic?
  • How do you assess your ambition and drive? What drives/motivates you?
 
Sales Skills:
  • Strengths: What are you good at? What would your customers say they value most about you?
  • Weaknesses: Where do you think you can improve? If your customers had one complaint, what would that be?
  • Messaging: Are you comfortable communicating Shamrock's/your value to clients and prospects? Are there additional marketing tools you need?
  • How do you assess your presentation skills?
  • Relationship Building: Do your clients like, respect, and trust you? Why?

Strategy & Execution:
  • How do you feel about your strategic plan to achieve success?
  • How well do you execute your plan? What systems/tools do you use to gauge progress?

Productivity:
  • What organizational system do you use to manage a large workload? Are there any areas that are lacking?
  • Do you think you choose to spend your time in high-impact areas? Flip it: What is the biggest drain on your time?

Results:
  • Are you satisfied with your sales results?
  • Where do you see your results in 1, 3 and 5 years?

These self-assessment questions will work well for some our sales reps, but perhaps not for all. Either way, it’s a great exercise of self-discovery that can be tweaked to use as you see fit. If there are other questions you’d add to the list, I’d appreciate your input. bdegarmo@shamrockcompanies.net

Bob De Garmo

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

How Account-Based Marketing Is A Lot Like The Cleveland Browns

The energy in Cleveland is electric: With the Browns’ training camp in full swing, we can’t get enough of the pre-season preparation as we look forward to that first gameday kickoff. In order for the Browns to be successful, each player must do his job as it relates to the shared team goal. But if individual players don’t buy into that goal or plan—if they work independently toward their own singular visions—the entire team suffers.

The same is true in business: If your sales and marketing team goals are not aligned, you’ll be less effective. According to Forrester Research, organizations with aligned sales and marketing teams see an average of 32% annual revenue growth, while less-aligned companies see a 7% decline in growth.

Like an all-in team effort, account-based marketing (ABM) is one way to connect the two and drive more effective marketing outcomes. It’s a strategy that targets the relevant people who influence the sales cycle: ABM focuses on an account (i.e., a list of highly relevant prospects). By aligning sales and marketing through all parts of a company’s sales funnel, ABM yields a more personalized approach by making connections with key decision makers and offering content based on their specific role/responsibility or pain point, rather than the same general message blanketing the entire decision-making chain.

While we’ve been loosely using this targeted approach for years, ABM has gained recent momentum because today’s digital tools make it easier than ever to combine sales and marketing in one seamless effort without wasting time and energy bouncing back and forth between departments. 

The genius behind ABM is that it treats individual prospects and customers as their very own market—not as an entire industry. It’s a laser-focused B2B strategy that allows us, as marketers, to focus on potential/existing customers within a market, and then deliver personalized messaging that resonates with them, using specific and relevant channels.

This summarizes the basic ABM steps:
  1. Define high-value accounts/prospects and prioritize based on revenue potential 
  2. Identify key players and decision makers within each organization (do your research)
  3. Create a content strategy (don’t overlook the value of re-purposed content) for each account 
  4. Develop messaging that speaks to each of these audiences and their specific business challenges; make a personal connection 
  5. Identify key channels best used to communicate with your targets 
  6. Launch coordinated account-specific campaigns that are consistent across all delivery channels 
  7. Test, measure and re-deploy as needed   
If you’re not currently using ABM, don’t panic: It can be implemented in conjunction with traditional inbound marketing strategies: When you cast that inbound net and bring in a wide array of contacts, use ABM to help refine that list to high-priority prospects, and then take it from there.

If you’re interested in learning more about ABM connect with me at tconnor@shamrockcompanies.net.

Good luck,
Tim Connor




Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Nonprofit Marketing Tips

While most nonprofit organizations are strapped with doing a lot more with a lot less, among their greatest challenges is to stand out among other nonprofits vying for donors’ attention—and dollars.

In today’s digital age, there are a host of simple and inexpensive ways for nonprofits to stretch their budget, while optimizing marketing efforts to promote their brand, connect with donors, amplify fundraising efforts, and increase donations. 

An article from Forbes magazine offers five tips for nonprofits to reach donors:

1. Use social media. To reach donors, connect with them where they are—and Facebook, twitter and LinkedIn is where they reside. Post content and place ads on these channels and take advantage of analytics to ensure the best ROI.

2. Make your message clear. Transparency is important: Donors want to understand exactly how their money being spent and the impact it will have.

3. Use content. Content marketing is a powerful way to demonstrate to donors what you stand for and to make them passionate about your goals. Use video or link back to a landing page to gain more traction for your message.

4. Take SEO seriously. In order for donors to give money, they have to be able to find you online—so embed social media feeds, ads, blogs and key words to boost SEO.

5. Write a blog. This platform gives you the opportunity to share more about your cause and to tell your brand story.

Also popular among our nonprofit clients is the use of custom and turnkey digital apps. These apps can include a host of event or campaign-specific functions such as push notifications, GPS/map features, schedule of events, social media tags, response polling, video links, program updates—the list goes on.

As with any brand-promoting effort, the key to nonprofit marketing success is to use an integrated strategy that employs multiple channels as part of one seamless campaign that works as part of your overarching marketing strategy. HubSpot touts the SMART approach—Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound—a methodology that helps you establish achievable marketing goals. The link below offers a free download of their SMART planning template:

Download your free marketing goal-setting template here.

What is the most memorable non-profit marketing campaign that caught your attention? Chime in on our Shamrock Facebook page.

Ellen Moriarty

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Successful Marketing on Pinterest: Lessons from 5 Leading Brands

With more than 291 million active monthly users, Pinterest has become the go-to resource for everything from recipes, to makeup tutorials, to vacation destinations. Pinterest positions itself as the world’s catalog of ideas—but it’s also a prime channel for brand marketing: In a recent survey, 96% of pinners said they use Pinterest to research purchases—and 87% have purchased a product because of a pin.

If you’re marketing to women, then make sure Pinterest is part of your strategy: As of 2019, 79.5% of Pinterest users are female (Statista), which is significant: Women ages 25 to 54 make 80% of the buying decisions in U.S. households—and Pinterest is a valuable part of their purchasing journey.

  • 83% of women on Pinterest use it to plan life moments, compared to 44% for Instagram and 53% for Facebook
  • 43% plan on getting their ideal home within the next five years
  • 50% plan on taking a vacation in the next 6 months

So, what does it take to be a standout on Pinterest among the more than 75 billion pins? Following are five lessons from top brands that are killing it on the social media channel, building brand loyalty one pin at a time.

1. Offer variety. Don’t pigeon-hole your brand. With 4.5 million followers, upscale fashion retailer Nordstrom is one of Pinterest’s most recognizable brands. They’ve created a devoted following by casting a wide net—men’s fashion, prom, handbags, denim, baby. With 443,000+ pins on 78 boards, you’re sure to find something that speaks to you at Nordstrom.

2. Find a common thread. Specialty retailer L.L. Bean is a great example of how to make a brand connection by appealing to your audience and their interests. With 5 million followers, they’re doing it right: Boards like Outdoor Fun and Take Me Fishing draw pinners to the brand based on lifestyle, activities, pursuits, etc.

3. Provide value. Give them more, and they’ll keep coming back: Home improvement retailer Lowes goes above and beyond basic product info—they also provide step-by-step tutorials to show pinners how to use those products to complete DIY-projects.

4. Make it user-friendly. How many times have you searched for an item online but then struggled to find a retailer to make the purchase? Global marketplace Etsy simplifies the process, allowing you to search, pin and purchase products directly from your digital device.

5. Keep it subtle. Instead of leading with a product pitch, why not welcome your audience in like a good friend? Lauren Conrad does just that—her Pinterest page feels like that of any user, rather than that of a brand. With 1 million+ followers, she shares inspiration and introduces new ideas and products with fellow pinners without making a hard sell.

Which brands are most prominent on your Pinterest feed? I’d be interested in your feedback. emoriarty@shamrockcompanies.net.

Ellen Moriarty

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

It’s time to realign your 2019 business goals.

We’re now past this year’s half-way point: So, how are you doing with your business goals for 2019?

Even though I’m in the practice of regularly reviewing and refreshing my goals, I use this annual half-way mark as a prompt to realign and re-motivate myself. Instead of looking at my yet-to-be-accomplished goals as failures, I see the next six months as my opportunity to get better. If you’re ready to do the same, here are five tips to help you hit your target before the year’s end:

1. Re-evaluate and reprioritize. Make sure it’s the right goal at the right time. Have there been recent changes in your industry or supply chain? Have you made operational changes that have had an effect on outcomes? Conduct an honest assessment and make sure the timing is right for your goal. Be realistic about what you can counter—and what you need to let go.  

Getty Images
2. Refine your goals. Your time is now limited, so be specific about what you want to accomplish. If your initial goals were broad in scope, consider getting more specific, i.e., instead of growing sales by 5 percent, focus on increasing existing-customer sales by 5 percent. Refining or distilling your goals will help create greater focus and, likely, a more manageable workload.

3. Re-establish your timeline and to-do list. After you’ve recalibrated your goals, identify the steps you need to take to get there with an updated to-do list and accelerated timeline.

4. Get motivated. There is psychology behind motivation and human behavior. The quarter, six-month and annual marks are fiscal calendar intervals that we equate with posting sales, gains, returns, etc. If you find yourself lacking motivation, use these date triggers to push yourself. Consider using daily life inspiration practices and habits—like meditating, exercising or reading/listening to motivational content—to keep you engaged and focused.
 
5. Spend your time wisely. Delegate tasks to free up your time to focus on the actionable items that will get you closer to meeting your goals. Incorporate technology, such as a CRM or marketing asset management platform, to help drive efficiency in your workday.

These are mindful practices that help me keep on track. Do you have tips to add to the list? Join the discussion on our Shamrock Facebook page.

Tim Connor

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Dead Sales Leads? Revive Them With Strategic Lead Nurturing.

When we’re making a purchase, most of us shop around for the best deal—or the best quality, or service, or all of the above. Which is why most leads don’t immediately convert to sales, regardless of where they enter the sales funnel.

According to MarketingSherpa, 73% of leads are not ready to buy when they first give you their contact details. This is where lead nurturing comes in: These strategic campaigns work to create relationships and encourage consumers or businesses to become active prospects, and eventually, customers.

Now more than ever, we’re finding that people don’t want to feel like they’re just a number; they want a personal connection. And above all, they want content that’s relevant to them. 

A recent article in Entrepreneur magazine concurs: “You can no longer create a single funnel or lead magnet and expect success. Your audience are at different stages, and your job as a marketer is to give them the right content at the right time.”
 click here to watch video
Click to watch the video
Again, it’s about getting personal: It’s important to first build intimacy with your audience—you can’t sell 24/7. Work to create relationships by providing value and quality, not quantity. Do that by considering where your contacts are in the sales funnel. The Entrepreneur article explains that scenario, placing prospects into three buckets:

  • The Sidewalk: Those who are not aware they have a pain or problem
  • The Slow Lane: Those who are aware they have a problem, but don't know enough about the process or methodology to move forward
  • The Fast Lane: Those who are ready to commit to a solution, but need more information about what the solution is
After you identify where your leads fall, create specific messaging for each: This brings intimacy into your lead generation and becomes relevant to the right people at the right time:

  • People in your sidewalk are not aware of their problem, so you need to produce micro content that illuminates their pain.
  • If they're in your slow lane you need to educate them about your process, which means more in-depth content (articles, guides, videos, etc.).
  • Once they enter your fast lane, you can share intimate and detailed content with them, such as webinars, training sessions and phone calls.

Shamrock helps our clients manage lead nurturing campaigns—making meaningful, personal connections (with the right message, at the right time) using an automated marketing platform. Click on the link below to view the short video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6zPIm0ulT4&index=4&list=PLBXEp-Xkv428t20SFEawKhpQq7DtoXEXr

How do you nurture your sales leads? If you’re interested in learning more about content strategies and automated tools for lead nurturing campaign management, connect with me on LinkedIn.

Ellen Moriarty

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Use Marketing Asset Management To Drive Association Membership

In survey after survey, associations of all sizes cite building and retaining membership as their greatest challenges. So how do you attract and engage members? Assuming your association offers attractive, tangible member benefits, the next step is to promote that message through branded marketing.

Marketing asset management (MAM) is a smart solution for managing personalized, brand-driven association marketing initiatives for both your chapters and members.

Efficient program deployment. From a single online portal, MAM allows you to manage your entire marketing effort. Tradeshow banners, apparel, email campaigns: MAM displays the options available to your chapters. Each chapter can then co-brand the items with their location-specific information.

Brand control. MAM delivers the control and consistency that is vitally important to brand protection, with the ease of online ordering and fulfillment. Your association’s brand guidelines are programmed into the site, as is market-specific data, which allows you to pre-program select marketing assets available to specific chapters or regions.

Easy co-op management. MAM has built-in functionality that allows chapters to order pre-approved branded items such as gifts, or promotional items for giveaways, using co-op dollars.

Substantial savings. MAM streamlines the marketing automation process by housing all marketing assets and offering personalization—all with a few clicks. The result is significant savings, both time and money.

Comprehensive. MAM automates day-to-day marketing management within one portal and can be embedded with twitter feeds and other social media links to provide an at-a-glance view of all association marketing activity, from one dashboard.

Do you use a MAM tool for your association marketing? Are you interested in learning more? I’d like to hear from you…klawlor@shamrockcompanies.net.

Kathy Lawlor

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Tips for marketing to new movers

If you market your products or services to consumers, there’s a viable opportunity for expanding your customer base right in your own backyard. The target: New movers. With more than 35.5 million Americans moving annually—the majority in June, July and August—this consumer demographic offers immediate potential this summer.

Eager to establish themselves in their new homes and communities, new movers are prime new-customer prospects for a variety of businesses:
  • Home services contractors: Landscapers, pest control, painters, plumbers, interior decorators
  • Retailers, restaurants, food delivery services
  • Banks/financial institutions
  • Physicians, dentists, emergency-care clinics, fitness centers/gyms
  • Salons/barbers, dry cleaners, tailors
  • Schools, daycare centers, kids’ camps and enrichment programs
New mover campaigns bring a higher ROI than other customer acquisition methods. If you can capture the business of a new mover, you have a higher chance of keeping that business for as long as the consumer stays in the home.
Click here to view

So, how do you make that initial contact count? At Shamrock, we help businesses make powerful connections with consumers through integrated branded marketing campaigns. Here’s a few new mover campaign tips:

Start with solid data. Using data analytics, gather information about these potential customers—details that will help to shape focused, targeted messaging and delivery methods that resonate with new movers and bring them to your business.

Speak their language. According to realtor.com, millennials will lead the way in number of mortgages in 2019, accounting for 45% of the market. They’ll be followed by Gen Xers at 37% and baby boomers at 17%.

With millennials leading the new mover demographic, be sure to engage with them using channels where they spend their time: video, email and social media.

Maintain brand consistency. Integrated campaigns include multiple touches: Direct mail postcards, emails, social media, event-based marketing, and signage. While messaging should vary based on channel and target audience, be sure it remains consistent with your brand.

Test and redeploy. An essential part of comprehensive program management is post-campaign reporting—and then redeploying in segment areas, as appropriate (i.e. follow-up email or social media touches)

If you’re interested in learning more, I’d like to share with you some of our new mover marketing success stories. Connect with me jbanks@shamrockcompanies.net or call me direct at 440.250-2166.

John Banks

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Break out of your creative slump. Here’s how.

It happens to the best of us: We stare at the blinking cursor on the screen and the words just don’t come. We struggle with inspiration for illustrating a product or brand. The creative slump is real—but there are ways to overcome it.

Content Marketing Institute’s Ann Gynn compiled a brainstorm of ideas for breaking out of the creative slump, submitted by marketing professionals. Here’s a summary of my favorites:

Use toys. Grab blocks (Lego, Duplo or wooden) and label them with words that relate to your brand: attributes, content themes, personas, customer challenges, etc. Color code the blocks and then start building and looking at various combinations—the idea is to get away from linear thinking an uncover new creative connections.

Dig into your content archives. Search through old blogs, social media posts or case studies: identify topics that can be expanded, updated or adapted. Consider adding video or creating a new infographic to refresh content.

Get out. Change your outlook: Head to a new coffee shop, grab your laptop and work from the conference room. Take a walk or visit a museum during your lunch break. A change of scenery can offer a fresh perspective and stimulate the brain. 

Look at someone else. Bring in fresh eyes: Offer a brief overview of your company, your challenge/task, and any helpful details. Then let them go. Don’t shut them down or tell them why an idea wouldn’t work. Write everything down, explore ideas that resonate with you, and let their enthusiasm re-energize you. Keep that list and reference it whenever you get in a slump.

Mix it up. Switch up the format of your content. If you’ve been doing a lot of storytelling content, try an informative article instead. Changing it up with different channels can help inspire new ideas…working on a video or writing an email campaign instead of a blog post can inspire new ideas.

Take a side job. Find a side project at work. Someone on your team can always use help with a project that’s been put on the back burner or an impending issue. Tackling a different problem than your typical work project shifts your everyday perspective and can be re-energizing.

Talk it out. Whether you interview clients, vendors, or staff members, real conversations are an easy way to energize a lackluster campaign. Interviews often reveal new topic ideas, a different point of view, and, if you keep the interview format, even a new voice.

Create a list. Make a list of something unrelated to what you’re working on. This is a great way to keep your brain engaged, while taking time away from the task at hand. The list can be anything, from your 20 favorite music albums to items you need from the grocery store. Compiling the list actively stimulates your brain.

The next time you need to get the creative juices flowing, try one of these ideas. Are there any you’d add to the list?  Join the conversation on our Facebook page.

Ellen Moriarty

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Artificial Intelligence: Understanding the Basics

You don’t have to be a techie to recognize the growing influence of AI technology—or to get excited about the yet-to-be-discovered ways it will further revolutionize the way we live and work. AI is already mainstream; it’s integrated in our everyday lives (think Siri and Alexa) and has become a remarkable source of growth for business:
  • 83 percent of respondents in a Deloitte survey have already achieved substantial (30 percent) or moderate (53 percent) economic benefits from deploying AI technologies.
  • 84% of enterprises believe investing in AI will increase their competitive advantage. (Forbes)
  • The AI market is projected to become a $190 billion industry by 2025. (Markets and Markets)
After attending an MIT course on “AI: Implications For Business Strategy”, I’ve become even more intent on sharing what I’ve learned about AI and how we can incorporate it into our marketing programs to drive better outcomes. But in order to determine how to best utilize AI, it helps to understand the basics about the technology. Here’s a brief overview:

Professor Thomas Malone, founding director of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence, succinctly defines AI as “machines acting in ways that seem intelligent.” AI technology directs machines to perform functions that normally require human intelligence. These intelligent machines are capable of understanding, analyzing and acting according to a specific situation, information or task.

With discussion of this “intelligence,” some fear AI will replace human jobs or make human interaction obsolete—but we’ve learned otherwise:
  • The share of jobs requiring AI skills has grown 4.5 times since 2013. (Forbes)
  • By 2020, AI will eliminate 1.8 million jobs and create 2.3 million. (Gartner)
Based on specific applications, AI technology is divided into three main areas:

1. Natural Language Processing (NLP): This area of AI deals with understanding, analyzing and processing natural language – voice as well as text. Virtual personal assistants, like Amazon’s Alexa, use NLP technology to process voice commands. NLP has transformed the way we shop, travel, watch online streams, listen to music—the list goes on. 
  • 25% of digital workers will use Virtual Employee Assistants by 2021. (Gartner)
  • 50 percent of all online searches will be voice searches by 2020. (ComScore)
2. Robotics – This area of AI deals with programmable devices created for specific repeated tasks/functions. These devices come in various sizes and shapes. We see robots deployed in manufacturing environment to do specific functions and in warehouses to pick/pack products. Autonomous (self-driving) cars, when we get there, are also a type of robot.

3. Machine Learning (ML) – In the traditional programming world, we provide instructions to machines (computers) to perform certain functions. In ML field, machines learn from their own experience; they’re not completely dependent on instructions.

Machines gain experience through the training from test/real data—and then, they use this experience to analyze and predict data models. This area of AI is used in data prediction and other data modeling scenarios. Here’s an example: Netflix saved $1 billion this year as a result of its machine learning algorithm which recommends personalized TV shows and movies to subscribers (Business Insider).

AI technology has been in the works for long time, dating back to 1950 in Turing’s paper on “Computing Machinery and Intelligence". Today, with the advent of faster and cheaper computing devices with larger storage capacities, and access to “Big Data”, we’ve created the perfect storm for AI systems to unleash their power to create better systems for us.

So, where will AI take us next? The future is very bright for this technology. In my next blog, I’ll be addressing how AI is impacting the business world, especially marketing services industry. In the meantime, if you have questions about AI applications, please feel free to reach out me at stotapally@shamrockcompanies.net

Sai Totapally
Director of Information Technology

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Declutter your business using Marie Kondo’s organization system

If you’ve ever cleaned out your closet and felt the satisfaction that comes with purging and reorganizing, then you understand why organizing guru Marie Kondo’s system has become so wildly popular. She helps people eliminate the unnecessary to create a more streamlined, stress-free, and productive living environment.

According to Feng shui philosophy, decluttering can increase the chi (life energy) of your space and invite change into your life. Clutter stops that energy flow and creates stagnation. Now, imagine what decluttering could do for your business.

Ridding clutter from our business lives goes beyond the piles of stuff on our desks—we also need to address the bad habits, toxic relationships, redundant practices, etc. A recent Forbes article by Gregg Schwartz offers five great tips for decluttering your business. Below is a summary:

1. Declutter your client list. Not every customer is right for you. For those clients that take up too much time and energy for too little reward, consider cutting ties and focusing your energy on deepening relationships with your best clients.

2. Tidy up your sales process. Are your brochures outdated? Satisfied with your CRM? Is there a part of your sales process that feels clunky or outdated? Identify ways to update.

Schwartz’s advice: “Go back to first principles: If you had to design your sales funnel today for the first time, what would it look like? How long has it been since you updated your sales call scripts, company mission statement, or elevator pitch? Take a fresh look at your entire sales process and adjust as needed.

3. Achieve clarity on big-picture goals. After you tidy up your processes (above) do some big-picture strategizing. With less clutter crowding your day, you should have a clearer vision about what you really want for your business’s future.   

4. Practice gratitude. As part of the decluttering process, Kondo teaches clients to say “thanks” to every discarded item, because even if you no longer want the item, it still served you well and deserves gratitude.

Whether you’re cutting ties with a client who is no longer a good fit or tossing an outdated brochure, be grateful for what you’ve discarded and be thankful for any new opportunities. “No matter where you are on your business journey, gratitude can help you stay focused and stay energized through the ups and downs of running your company.”

5. Find joy in your business. The sheer volume of communications and decisions and strategic options in front of us each day can be overwhelming. By embracing an attitude of minimalism and getting the most enjoyment out of every client relationship and facet of your business, you can create a simpler, better-performing business that will hopefully “spark joy” and generate big profits.

To read the article in its entirely, follow this link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/allbusiness/2019/02/23/marie-kondo-decluttering-principles-improve-small-business/#46a665004ae6

The article helped me to center my thinking and put some goals and timelines in place to declutter my everyday practices. Are you in? Join the discussion on Facebook.

Good luck!
Tim Connor

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Improve ROI with These Trade Show Marketing Tips

In a world ruled by digital interaction, establishing authentic, face-to-face connections is good for business. Trade shows are great for fostering that one-on-one interaction while providing a host of growth-driving opportunities like generating sales leads, attracting new partners or buyers, and creating and furthering brand awareness. 

If you’re not doing so already, these events should be a central part of your marketing strategy—especially if you’re launching a new product or service.
  • 92% of trade show attendees say their main reason for attending trade shows is to see new products being featured. (CEIR: The Role and Value of Face to Face)
To be sure that you’re maximizing your trade show effort, consider these tips:

Keep it simple. Attendees should be able to quickly identify your brand and your product/service based on booth signage. You only have a few seconds to grab their attention, so make your booth simple yet memorable—and inviting: You want to draw people in.

Be consistent. As with any marketing channel, be sure to implement elements in your trade show that are consistent with your brand messaging strategy. A trade show shouldn’t be viewed as a separate event, but rather, as part of your seamless brand marketing effort.

Provide value. Give attendees what they came for—information about a new product or service, an enticing product demo (live or video), suggestions for using your product in a new or different way, etc.

Capture attendee data.
This is the ideal venue for building your database; consider launching a contest or giveaway that requires people to provide their contact info.

Make it interactive. To engage attendees and encourage interaction with your brand (for a lasting impression) feature a prize wheel, an interactive video wall, photo op, VR experience, etc.

Give them a reason to stay. Provide comfy seating, charging stations for phones and laptops, light snacks or beverages, or a compelling video

Offer a quality giveaway. Everyone likes to free swag, but only if its practical. Be thoughtful about what you give away…instead of handing out stacks of product literature, provide a jump drive with your product info pre-loaded   

What brand had the best booth you’ve experienced at a trade show? Chime in on our Facebook page.

Ellen Moriarty


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

A simple secret to delivering great service

A few years ago, I sat in on a client meeting with one of our sales reps who was meeting with a previous customer to reestablish a connection (and ideally, earn back her business).

While I mostly sat back and listened, I did ask the client this question: Can you give me an example of a supplier partner that does all the right things? And more importantly, what does that look like?

Her response was profoundly simple: “I want a vendor that will do what they say they’re going to do.” That was it. Whether you’re selling marketing solutions or widgets or technology support, her words summarize the ultimate customer service directive for all of us: To create lasting customer relationships we must provide exceptional customer service, which ultimately requires follow-through.

But, what does that mean? What does it look like for you? Sure, you need to ask the right questions to understand what your customers want and also anticipate their needs. But you also need to stop talking—and listen.

When you actually do that, you might be blown away by what you learn.

At Shamrock we employ Ken Blanchard’s “Raving Fans” approach to customer service as part of our culture. In his book, Blanchard identifies three steps to creating Raving Fan customer service:
  1. Decide what you want. What kind of customers are you looking for? What type of relationship do you want to build with them?
  2. Understand what your customers want. In other words, listen!
  3. Deliver plus-one. Whatever it is that you do—perfect that—and then add 1% more: It’s the extra push that will set you apart.  
Use that raving-fan framework as an auditing system, you can track how you meet and exceed client expectations and identify areas where you can improve. At the end of day, you must hold yourself accountable for doing what you said you were going to do.

But if you’re not writing these promises or commitments down, how can you track your progress? How can you hold yourself accountable?

By implementing an actionable business plan that identifies clients (or departments or market segments) and that details specific tasks, you’ll be well on your way to successfully managing yourself.

If you need help getting started on that plan, connect with me at bdegarmo@shamrockcompanies.net

Good luck!

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Use print to magnify your digital marketing touches

In today’s digital-driven marketing world, we’re learning that print is more relevant than ever. While social media and influencer marketing still have their place, print marketing remains strong because of its perceived value: A tangible printed piece, like direct mail, makes a memorable brand connection with a shelf life that outlasts a typical social media scroll.

Here’s a few recent statistics that underscore the influence of print:
  • 86% of shoppers bought an item after first seeing it in a printed catalog (misterclipping.com)
  • 76% of households read direct mail ads. (AllianceBusinessServices)
  • 39% have tried a business for the first time because of direct mail advertising (Canada Post)
  • 51% prefer companies use a combination of mail and email when communicating with them. (Canada Post)
When used as part of an integrated media strategy, print can greatly enhance digital campaigns, acting as a multiplier to boost digital efforts. Incorporating both digital channels and tactile touches is essential to marketing success. Here are four ways to put print to work to promote your brand:

Personalization.
Customized content creates unique value—and greater relevance. Personalization used to be a novelty; but today, people expect products and services to be adapted and relevant to them: The more you connect with your audience through personalization, the more resistance is dropped. Making a personalized connection increases customer engagement with your brand.

Print & digital integration. Blending online and offline channels as part of an integrated marketing strategy is the key to driving higher conversion rates and making lasting brand impressions. Use your print media to link your audience back to your blog, a landing page, an exclusive video, website or to one of social media channels.

Custom/unique coupon codes. Using a unique coupon is a smart strategy for not only increasing customer engagement but also in gathering personal data about your target audience. Unique coupon codes generate higher ROI than generic coupon codes because they cannot be shared or reproduced—they are aimed at an individual, which creates a more personal connection and an exclusive feel.

Texture. A study from the University of Iowa found that haptic (touch) memory is the type of memory that has the strongest impact on the human brain. The physical act of holding something makes a stronger connection with the audiences. And so, using print media engages our haptic memory, creating lasting brand awareness. Adding glosses, raised ink, embossing, matte finishes—these create interesting texture for even greater brand connections.

Have any of these print strategies worked well for your brand? Do you have other ideas for incorporating print in your marketing program? Join the conversation on Facebook.

Ellen Moriarty

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

10 Tips for Building Brand Loyalty

Does your brand have a dedicated following? Whether you sell pizzas or insurance policies, brand loyalty matters; it’s good for business. Attracting and maintaining customers long term ultimately leads to increased profits: According to Adobe, repeat customers buy nearly 30% more items per order than first-time shoppers and are nine times more likely to convert than first-time shoppers.

So, how do you drive brand love when immediate access to your competitors is just a click away? Here’s a few ideas for attracting and keeping customers:

1. Establish your brand identity. Know who you are—and then stick with it, using consistent messaging from the top of the sales funnel to the bottom, as well as across channels.

2. Make it personal. Develop messages that are tailored specifically to your target audience: That personal connection makes your customers feel like you are speaking directly to them, not to the masses.

According to an Infosys study, 86% of consumers surveyed said personalization plays a role in their purchasing decisions—and 73% said they preferred to do business with brands that use personal information to make their shopping experience more relevant.

3. Listen to your customers. Find out what they want or need—and then dig deeper: Why? How? Answering these important questions can help you better align your products/services/delivery methods to better meet customer needs and expectations. What’s more, we all like to be heard. Asking for feedback sends a clear message to your customers that their opinions matter.

4. Provide Raving Fan customer service. There’s a lot of competition out there touting better, faster, less expensive products/services, so exceed their expectations with standout customer service. Do the unexpected things that let your customers know you care: Make a follow-up phone call, send a personal email, share an article or video that aligns with their industry or interest, or surprise them with breakfast for their next staff meeting.

5. Prompt ongoing brand experiences. Keep your brand front of mind by making connections with your customers at various times during a transaction or program experience using blogs, emails, social media prompts, and more. In this age of immediate access, out of sight means out of mind, so keep your brand relevant with frequent, strategic touches.

6. Create Community. Engage with your customers and ask them to share photos of themselves at your event or using your products on social media—facebook, Instagram, twitter, Pinterest. Shared posts on these channels will start a conversation about your brand, and will also foster an emotional connection—think happy, exciting, motivating, inspirational, etc.

7. Innovate. Quality counts, as does innovative product/service offerings. By continuing to improve, evolve and introduce new products or solutions, your customers will associate your brand with what’s next.

8. Create a consistent experience. Give your customers the quality and the experience they have come to expect from your brand, every time. Example: I know I’m going to get the same bold cup of coffee from a new Starbucks location as I do when I visit my regular store—that consistency is expected.

9. Be transparent and honest. If there is a customer service issue, a product problem or a mistake, own it. Your customers will appreciate hearing directly from you, rather than through another source.

10. Recognize loyal customers. Whether you offer points for transactions, reward service anniversaries, or simply connect with customers who have been with you for a while, it’s important to show existing customers that you appreciate their business. And, a customer loyalty effort is less expensive than spending marketing dollars on new-customer development.

Do you have any tips that you’d add to this list for boosting brand loyalty? Please share your thoughts on our Facebook page.

All the best,
Tim Connor


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Use Eco-friendly Promos to Build Your Brand

We live in an environmentally- and socially-conscious age where consumer shopping decisions are now closely linked to corporate values. Recent studies show that more consumers—particularly Millennials—are gravitating towards brands that demonstrate good will: 
  • 88% of consumers said they would be more loyal to companies that support social or environmental issues, and 90% would switch to a brand associated with a good cause, if price and quality were similar. (Cone Communications and Ebiquity)
  • Three out of four consumers are more likely to buy a product if the company is making an effort to be sustainable. (Sense and Sustainability Study, Gibbs & Soell)
The takeaway: Going green is good for business. Nearly 65% of end-buyers surveyed by ASI say they prefer to purchase promos that are eco-friendly. So, if you’re not already incorporating environmentally-responsible and ethically-sourced promotional products into your brand marketing, consider making the change. 

While price had historically been an issue with eco products, that’s no longer the norm. And with the obvious branding advantages associated with a greener promotional product offering, it’s wise to promote your brand using eco-products that make sense for your business or industry. Here are a few ideas:

Reusable drinkware. Whether it’s a glass mug etched with a logo or insulated aluminum drink bottle, these choices eliminate Styrofoam, plastic or paper drinkware, making them a more eco-responsible choice for the office, commute or home.

Cork and wood products are trending. Reusable tote bags made from cork are extremely durable and stylish; and wood lids, handles (on mugs) or cutting boards and coasters can be laser-engraved with a logo (no inks) for a clean, organic feel.

Reusable straws and silverware. Disposable plastic is out. Reusable straws and cutlery—in bamboo, rubber and metal—are in. The wood and metal pieces can be laser-engraved for a subtle brand touch with everyday functionality.

Hemp or other sturdy reusable bags. Hemp items are popular in the cannabis industry; and because they’re so durable, they’re a great choice if you’re thinking about a sustainable bag promo. Instead of a cheap, flimsy poly bag (that will quickly get tossed) consider a hemp, bamboo or washable cotton bag embroidered with a logo for longer shelf life.

If you’re interested in learning more about these products or other environmentally-responsible promo items, connect with me on Linkedin.

Tim Berry

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Use AR to improve the customer experience & drive engagement

When was the last time you browsed through a catalog and then picked up the phone to place an order? If you’re like most Americans, it’s been awhile: There are 217.1 million online shoppers in the United States—a number that’s projected to reach 224 million this year (Statista). So, how does that impact print marketing for retailers and other brick-and-mortar businesses?

Augmented reality (AR) is one answer. AR can be used to bridge the gap between print and digital, allowing customers to enjoy an immersive experience with your brand.

AR has changed how we interact with brands—and from a marketing standpoint, it has rewritten the rules of engagement. Now, print media can also be interactive. Once-stagnant displays or catalogs can spring to life using AR technology.

Here’s how it works: AR embeds virtual content layered over a real-world object, making a powerful, immediate connection with the user by providing information in a memorable or more convenient way (i.e. clicking on or scrolling over an item in an ad, which triggers the display of the item name and cost on the host website). The revenue-generating potential that AR provides is incredible.

According to a study published by the ISACA, 62% of consumers believe augmented reality has the potential to improve the shopping experience. In addition, AR has reached revenues of about $428 million in 2018, with that number expected to explode in the next few years, with display ad and visual search revenues via AR totaling more than $2.6 billion by 2022.

This case study from Brand United details how an AR-enabled catalog improved the customer experience and boosted retail sales by 3% for automotive brand Quadratec:


https://www.brandunited.com/case-study/quadratec-uses-augmented-reality-to-improve-the-shopping-experience/

According to Statista, the global market for AR is projected to grow to approximately $90 billion in the next two years. In addition, revenue generated by AR is expected to be three times higher than virtual reality (VR).  And that’s because AR is so versatile and accessible for consumers. It can be customized to hit your audience when and where you want: geo-tagged for proximity-based marketing campaigns (think festivals, annual meetings, sporting events, etc.). AR can be used to create engaging customer experiences like taking customers on a virtual tour of a new property or helping customers easily locate your products—all from their smartphones or tablets, all with a couple of clicks.

AR also helps us become better marketers: Because AR interaction is trackable, we use the data from the experience to strategically plan the next step, modify the message, shape future campaigns, and so on. Where do you see AR fitting into your brand marketing?  If you’re interested in learning more, connect with me on LinkedIn.

Tim Connor

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

10 tips for increasing customer engagement

It used to be that the quality of goods or services is what created a happy customer. But that was then. And this is the age of customer engagement: Today, customers want to feel appreciated, engaged and connected with their chosen brands. Here’s proof:
  • 86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience
  • By 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator (Walker)   
Research is also finding that, even in today’s digital era, customers are seeking more authentic, human-centered interaction—but without constant interruption. This is the challenge that we face as marketers: To connect with customers in ways that are real and relevant, while providing transparency, in a frequency that keeps them engaged.

If you don’t have a customer engagement program in place to create those connections, it’s time to jump on board: Excited and engaged customers bring in 23 percent more profits. (Gallup)

This article in Entrepreneur magazine offers 10 ideas for boosting customer engagement https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/310656. Here’s a quick-read summary of those tips:
  1. Share behind-the-scenes content. Think about sharing employee stories or a tour of your facilities/properties.
  2. Launch a user conference. Bring people together to meet and share their experience with your brand—these trigger emotional connections and lead to better brand attitudes. 
  3. Survey customer to better understand them. And then use that data to align your service or product offerings.
  4. Use personalization. Eighty percent of people say that brands are not tailored to their needs—stand out by making a personal connection with your customers.
  5. Package products in unique ways. Make it memorable.
  6. Create a purposeful brand. Generation X and millennials want to believe companies care about the same causes they do.
  7. Launch a contest. Contests on social media increase online audiences by as much as 34 percent and boost email sign-ups by a similar amount (Hubspot).
  8. Develop a product for an underserved niche. This offers the opportunity to quickly build brand loyalty.
  9. Focus on creating added value. Give customers what they want and need—that’s true value. Be deliberate about communicating that value statement.
  10. Try something new. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and implement a new campaign element or try a new media channel—changing up your game could be what your brand needs to make breakthrough connections.
What tips do you have for creating engaging connections with your customers? I’m interested in hearing from you. emoriarty@shamrockcompanies.net

Ellen Moriarty

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Will your brand survive the next social media blackout?

A few weeks ago, Facebook and Instagram experienced outages, leaving users frustrated—and brands in the dark. Unable to post content and connect with their customers, many businesses lost revenue.

So, what’s the lesson? The social media blackout is a great example of why integrated, multi-channel marketing is so important for brand success. Placing all your marketing eggs in one basket—or relying too heavily on one central media strategy—is risky.

A recent article in Entrepreneur magazine reinforces that point, “you can’t build the foundation of your business on someone else’s platform.” The author argues that brands must protect and maintain the assets that they control: their websites and mailing lists. (read the entire article via the link below)

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/330200?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email

While I agree that your website is an owned marketing asset that’s central to maintaining consistent and reliable brand-driven connectivity with your audience, I’ll take that one step further: For your brand to survive and thrive in today’s digital marketing arena, you need to establish relationships with your customers—connections that are guided by an integrated, cross-channel marketing plan.

This strategic plan should be revisited and updated on a regular basis:

  • Website. Ensure your website is primed for business: Your messaging should communicate who you are, what you do and the value you offer. Be clear and concise, using strong CTAs (call to action) that prompt action.
  • Email marketing is essential to brand success (72% of consumers prefer email as their primary means of communicating with brands). Optimize this channel by updating/maintaining your mailing lists; and use drip campaigns to keep your brand front of mind. Test your emails and redeploy campaign elements as needed.  
  • Product packaging. Review your current packaging: Does it provide an opportunity for customers to interact with your brand—either physically or electronically? Consider incorporating ways for users to consume your content or experience your brand using elements such as augmented reality or video.  
  • Promotional and printed products. How are you making brand impressions with your audience? Use tangible touches—like promotional products or unique printed items—to make those connections. Brainstorm ways to incorporate these items into your marketing plan, as they have a longer shelf life than digital ads or social media posts.

Social media is like most technology: It’s great—until it doesn’t work. Of course, social media is important and essential in brand marketing. But always, balance is key. To ensure your brand weathers the next social media blip, have a diversified plan.

Good luck,

Tim Connor

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Make Culture Happen. blog part 2 of 2

Picking up where we left off last week…

At Shamrock, our unique corporate culture is borne from the intentional work that we do—and most importantly, the way in which we do that work. Our charge is to help individuals and companies perform at their highest levels. Here’s how we make that happen for each of our key stakeholders: 

Individual Employees.
What attitude do you bring to work every day? How does that affect the people around you? We encourage and celebrate the four key concepts in the book FISH:

1.    Play – Have fun! Take your job seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously
2.    Make Their Day – Find a way to make someone’s day, every day!
3.    Be Present – When talking to someone, give them your full attention
4.    Choose Your Attitude – Bring positive energy and enthusiasm to work every day

Implementing these principles is likely to make you better at your job and happier in your work.


The Company. We believe in nurturing a workplace environment where everyone works to make each other better. The book Gung Ho! provides some great guidance with three simple principles:
•    Worthwhile work – everyone’s work is worthwhile and important to the company’s success
•    Empower employees with the control to achieve the goal
•    Cheer each other on!

Work to reimagine your workplace: Create an office/warehouse/jobsite where people are free to ask questions and challenge the status quo. Celebrate teammates through continuous encouragement and positive feedback—this creates a cohesive sense of team comradery where everyone achieves more.


Community & Charity. We believe in giving back and helping others. And we do it together. Shamrock’s Culture Club keeps our team engaged with events like blood drives and kickball games, volunteering and charity fundraising. This provides quality time together away from work, and makes our employees feel better about themselves and the company they work for.

Our Clients. Satisfied clients are not enough; we want our clients to be Raving Fans! In his book, Ken Blanchard explains the three secrets of Raving Fans Customer Service:

Step 1: Decide what you want - Create a detailed vision of your future customer service model centered on your customers.
Step 2: Discover what the customer wants - Be prepared to alter your vision in response to your customer’s feedback and individual needs.
Step 3: Deliver your vision plus one percent - To create a raving fan you need to exceed on delivery of your customer service promise each time the customer deals with you, the customer needs to believe that they can count on you again and again. Consistency creates credibility!

Also consider that Raving Fan clients are less likely to leave, and more likely to offer additional opportunities and expand your business relationship.

Again, at Shamrock, we believe in being more than a company that provides great marketing related products and services. We believe in helping individuals and companies perform at their highest levels. We’ve created a culture where having a positive attitude and helping and cheering each other on is expected. We are proud of our commitment to giving back, and we celebrate when our clients send Raving Fan thank you notes because we’ve succeeded in exceeding their expectations.

We are a trustworthy, effective, and likeable company. Yes, culture matters!

If you’ve got questions about how to implement a corporate culture program like ours at your company, connect with me at bdegarmo@shamrockcompanies.net.

Good luck!

Bob De Garmo

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Culture Matters. blog part 1 of 2

Mission statements. Core values. These are the guiding principles that capture the essence of our businesses, articulating who we are, what we do, and why we do it. But these words on paper are only effective if they translate into everyday action.

That action is something we’re deliberate about at Shamrock: We work to align our actions—to not only do what we say we’re going to do, but to be thoughtful and deliberate about how we approach that work, and one another. In doing so, we’ve created a unique corporate culture.

By its definition, corporate culture is the beliefs and behaviors that determine how a company's employees and management interact and handle outside business transactions. Every company has its own culture. Some good, some not so good. So, how do you create and nurture a dynamic and engaging corporate culture? I have a few thoughts:

Define your purpose. If you want your employees to be inspired, they need to feel like there is a bigger purpose to their work and that their contributions make a difference. To accomplish this, start by defining your values and beliefs and then actively communicate them to all employees. This will set the standard and guide all internal communications and decision making.

This quote from Simon Sinek sums up the value of working with purpose: “If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears.”

Share your vision. Clients care about your beliefs, as well. “People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” (Simon Sinek) So, be creative about including your clients in your work—invite them to be part of charitable events, use social media to share and engage them in your campaigns and encourage their participation. (On the flip side, offer to contribute and lend a hand in their efforts, as well!)

Get specific. At Shamrock, we believe in being much more than a company that provides great marketing-related products and services. We believe in helping individuals and companies perform at their highest levels.

So, what does that look like? How do we provide the support to drive that performance?

We focus our work on four areas (or audiences) in order to accomplish our mission, all of which shape our culture by validating what’s most important to us as a company. We’ve identified these as our primary pillars:
  1. Individual employees
  2. Our Company and how we work together
  3. The communities and charities that we support
  4. Our clients and how we serve them
In next week’s blog, I’ll break down each of these important groups and identify the programs we’ve implemented to support them. 

All the Best,

Bob De Garmo

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

7 Steps to Getting Brand Trust Right

At Shamrock, we’re all about sharing the wealth—so we’re reposting this article from Content Marketing Institute that offers valuable tips about how to build trust in your brand. Here’s the article in its entirety:

There’s a crisis in consumer trust. At least that’s the word in the research.

The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer revealed that only 48% of the U.S. population trusts business as an institution (a 10-point drop from 2017).

Yet, brand trust is one of the biggest factors in consumers’ purchasing decisions.

According to PwC’s Consumer Insights Survey (2018), 14% of respondents put trust as their No. 1 reason for choosing a retailer. “Trust in brand” was the second most frequently cited reason for purchase decision-making.


But while 72% of CMOs feel pressure to secure brand trust, it’s not always clear how to take ownership of it. This guide can help.

Step 1: Know your brand-trust goals (and how to measure them)

Do you want your customers to be raving about your company on review sites? Do you want them to recommend your products or services to friends and family? Do you want loyal customers who patronize your business?

Define what brand trust means to your organization. Detail what success looks like and how you will measure it.

To monitor how your brand is talked about online, set up Google Alerts for your brand keywords. When they appear online, you’ll receive an email from Google.


You can also monitor how well your audience trusts your brand by checking out relevant review sites – Google My Business, Yelp, Trustpilot, or industry-specific destinations. You can track mentions and conversations on social media with social media management tools like Hootsuite.


You can ask your customers directly for their opinions on your brand through online tools such as Survey Monkey, which provides templates you can customize. You can conduct an online survey to find your Net Promoter Score (how likely they would be to recommend your business to a friend or colleague) or assess customer satisfaction.

Step 2: Appoint a brand trust lead

Although this step isn’t mandatory, consider it if you’re keen to get your brand trust right.


Your brand trust lead is responsible for ensuring that your brand’s goals and vision are well detailed – how you want to be perceived and how you go about achieving trust. The lead can develop blueprints and protocols for how to achieve trust in your content, across your marketing activity, and in your customer service.

This person also can be responsible for monitoring and evaluating perceived trust of your brand, and for leading changes to continually improve your brand trust.

Step 3: Be authentic through brand storytelling

Authenticity is proven to be at the heart of trustworthiness. Consumers today are not interested in the sales pitch, the marketing lingo, or the “key benefits.” They want to know who your brand is.

Achieving authenticity comes down to your company’s DNA – your values, your goals unrelated to profit, your culture, etc. Out of this comes your brand’s unique and authentic voice.

Be authentic by being present – respond to negative feedback, address complaints, engage with your customers online (failure to respond to customers on social media can increase churn by 15%). And when you make a mistake, own it.

Be authentic by telling stories, which can better engage your customers and help develop a relationship, and, therefore, build trust.

Getting your storytelling right means developing a brand narrative. Nike tells its brand story not by promoting its products or even its brand. It tells the story of Rory McIlroy as a child looking up to his hero Tiger Woods and then finally meeting him. Only toward the end does the viewer see the trademark swoosh and the slogan “Just Do It.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2e8sbpyj_g

TIP: Invite your customers to tell their stories. Share these on your social media platforms and use a relevant hashtag to attract other customers to tell their stories too.


Step 4: Offer consistent customer experience

Customer service, while critical to any business, is somewhat limiting in its ability to develop a trusting relationship. It’s transactional – answering a question, helping pick out the right product, or troubleshooting problems.

Customer experience goes further, looking at the person’s journey through your brand. If done well, it provides your customers with a personalized, unique, and consistently high-quality experience that demonstrates that you understand them and their needs.

The better the experience your customers have, the more likely they are to trust you as a brand. According to PwC, 73% of consumers cite customer experience as an important factor in their purchasing decisions, yet only 49% say companies deliver.


TIP: Review your customer journey and list the touchpoints between your customer and your brand. Identify the opportunities where the relationship can be enhanced through, for example, heightened personalization.

Step 5: Focus more on relationships than conversions

Businesses understandably tend to fixate on conversions, sales, and revenue. However, those that focus on customer relationships first will be paid dividends in the long run.

According to Wunderman Thompson, 56% of consumers feel more loyal to brands that “get them” – that have a deep understanding of their priorities and preference. These brands have taken time to understand their customers and made efforts to build relationships.


TIP: Treat your first-time customers like VIPs, set a high benchmark for your relationship from the beginning.

Step 6: Embrace transparency

Transparency about your business is a crucial factor in eliciting trust. According to research by Reach Solutions, 58% of consumers don’t trust a brand until they’ve seen “real-world proof” that it’s kept its promises.

Transparency is showing your customers the truth about your brand, your products, services, etc., so they can determine for themselves if you’re worth buying from. Don’t expect them to take your word for it.

How you prove your transparency depends on your business. Transparency, for example, could be publishing third-party research about your products, divulging ingredients for your products, or responding openly and honestly to queries on social media.

Step 7: Build social proof

According to a Nielsen study, 92% of global online consumers trust word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family above any other form of advertising (up 18% since 2007). While this illustrates consumers’ growing distrust of advertising, it also shows that peer reviews and social proof are more important than ever.

BrightLocal’s research also backs this up. In 2017 and 2018, reading a positive review made survey respondents more likely to use a business. Only a small proportion (15%) said they didn’t let reviews influence their decision.


TIP: Interact regularly on industry-related review sites with customers who are talking positively and negatively about your business. (Sign up through a tool like Mention to alert you of online mentions so you can respond in real time.)


Ready to trust?

Brand trust is a big deal for marketers in 2019. It’s time to be proactive about it.

Your brand trust relies on what you say to your customers, how you say it, and how you prioritize their needs. It is communicated in your transparency – how you own your mistakes and inject your personality – and how you prioritize relationships over sales.

Building trust with your customers isn’t easy, but leaving it to chance won’t cut it anymore. If you take steps to own it, consumers will choose you above your competitors and, if you maintain their trust, stay with you for the long haul.


Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Use AI to Improve Marketing Outcomes.

Some people argue that digital technology has dulled our minds. (Even our text messages are auto-corrected!) But the truth is, technology makes us smarter marketers.

It used to be that we manually analyzed mounds of consumer data in hopes of aligning our marketing programs for greater ROI. But Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology changes all that. AI automates the process of refining big data which we can use to better target our customers, serving them the right message, at the right time, using the right channels.

A recent article in Entrepreneur by Albizu Garcia outlines the benefits of using AI to drive marketing automation and make valuable brand connections. Here’s a quick summary:

Reach more qualified customers.
AI uses customer data to efficiently engage new customers who match existing customer profiles. It allows you to target customer leads based on personal interests, buying habits, geographic activity, and past interactions—these can then be combined to create a list of likely targets.

Based on this customer-profile data, you can send highly-targeted (and even better: personalized) content using email marketing, social media marketing, targeted ads, direct mail, etc. to engage them at every stage of the sales funnel.

Boost customer retention.
After you find new customers, keep them loyal to your brand by continuously providing value and relevant content. AI is a great tool to make that happen by serving up tailored content and personalized recommendations or by offering assistance via chatbots.

Drive operational efficiency. “Chatbots are a vital tool in increasing efficiency while decreasing overhead costs. A chatbot can use personalized information for each customer it speaks to, allowing it to provide real-time, valuable assistance or service in a targeted and friendly manner.”

Read the full article here. www.entrepreneur.com/article/326228

Improve brand consistency. Most of us use multiple digital devices throughout our day. AI allows you to create a seamless experience between devices and across multiple channels so that customers are engaged—and opportunities are not missed.

As AI technology continues to evolve, we’ll see it used more in marketing automation as a tool to simplify processes.

Are you using AI in your marketing program? If you’re interested in learning more about it, connect with me directly at tconnor@shamrockcompanies.net.

Tim Connor   

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Refine your processes. Reach your business goals.

When was the last time you used a map instead of GPS? Or an encyclopedia instead of Google?  Times have changed. Technology has evolved. But have your business processes kept pace?

Many of us have solid business plans. We set goals—but then we revert to old-school processes and practices instead of using efficient, technology-based organizational tools to help us map out and accomplish the tasks and activities required to reach those goals. 

It takes more than good intention to achieve success. I often meet with sales reps who know exactly what they want to accomplish. Their big picture: I want to sell $1MM this year. To make that happen, I need to change the way I service my existing clients, so I will pitch one new idea per month, conduct two business reviews, take the client to lunch quarterly, etc.

These goals are great. But what tools are you using to make sure you’re following up? To hold yourself accountable? In order to be successful, you need to proactively drive the tasks associated with achieving your specific goals. A technology-based organizational system gives you the structure required to manage—and accomplish—those everyday tasks. It allows you to break your plan down into individual tasks, and then prioritize and re-position those tasks, as needed.

Pick a tool that works for you. There are so many technology platforms and apps available for organization. (I use Wrike for project and task management. It’s a cross between a glorified to-do list and a project management tool.)  Wrike displays a dashboard for my day that lists my tasks, including notes, dates, etc. This is my charge: It reflects those things that I’ve consciously and mindfully decided I need to do to accomplish my goals.

Be intentional. You might be using the notes app on your phone or a pad of paper to keep track of your to-do list. I’ve seen sales reps use these “systems” to organize their tasks, only to result in chaos: Their days run them. Using an organizational system allows you to dictate how you spend your day versus letting email and phone calls take control. It’s the framework that leads to a greater capacity of work and more sales.

Make better decisions. Without forethought, most of us hit the easy button: We choose to spend our time in low-impact areas as opposed to those tasks that ultimately lead to bigger results. Using an organizational system challenges you to make the conscious decision to spend your time on high-level tasks, avoiding low-level distractions.

Jump in with both feet. This is a commitment! Incorporating an organizational system into your everyday routine or practice is a game-changer—but, for it to be effective, you must be fully engaged. I use my program to drive all business and personal tasks—it’s what keeps me on track and helps me manage the things in my life that are most important to me.

I challenge you: Formulate your plan, convert that plan into an executional task list, and implement a tool to help you start crushing your goals. Are you already using an organizational system platform or app? Please share your input with us on facebook.

Bob De Garmo