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Conversational Marketing in the Age of Social Media

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And Then There Were None

andthentherewasnoneWe were heading into Labor Day Weekend. It was the time to kick back, enjoy the last days of summer. Whatever would have possessed me?  It’s not like I’ve been a software-upgrade trailblazer before, but last week something indescribeable took hold. “Upgrade to Snow Leopard,” it called out to me.

And so, a few days after Apple launched Snow Leopard. the upgrade which promised being the “most advanced operating system, finely tuned from installation to shutdown” I loaded the cd into my computer and pressed install. Snow Leopard apparently had other plans.  “Wreak havoc” on her computer it commanded.


What's Up with Advertising?

search advertisingThe March/April issue of Technology Review has an interesting article entitled “But Who’s Counting?” by Jason Pontin, which describes how the “general inability to agree on [online] audience numbers is stunting the growth of display advertising.”

The research firm, eMarketer, predicts that this year, advertisers will spend $25.7 billion of dollars for online advertising. The problem, Pontin writes, is that “the correlation between the size of Web audiences and their value to advertisers is not direct. Online advertising is complicated because it’s based upon ad impressions, the number of times a specific ad is served to a particular part of a website.” Pontin further suggests that the consequence of audience measurement problems is effecting the transfer of advertising from older media to new.


Don't throw Direct Mail Marketing Out– Yet!

Sandra J. Blum writes in The December/January 2009 issue of Dynamic Graphics + Create magazine that direct mail is thriving.  According to Blum, “It’s measurable, tested and proven in both business-to-consumer and business-to-business marketing.”  Blum writes that the addition of online channels can make your direct mail marketing more targeted, and that those pieces will have a better chance to get noticed. “So direct marketing has not only been replaced by online media,” Blum says, “it has more than proven itself as a valuable partner to online media.”

Amongst several resources, Blum refers to one of our favorite sources, Marketing Sherpa. In survey results Marketing Sherpa published in August ’08, “Lead Nurturing Best Practices: New Data, Charts, Tips to Put More Punch in Your Cultivation Tactics”, they suggest that employing a solid “lead nurturing strategy” is especially important during tough economic times, and offers best practices and strategies which hold the potential to qualify and convert more Web leads.

Marketing Sherpa states that within the companies studied:
56.2% of companies are using additional targeted emails for those prospects
48.9% employ telemarketing to further qualify leads
In comparison, only 22.2% are using direct mail for nurturing beyond emails and telemarketing

Marketing Sherpa recommends using a combination of these media for a strong lead nurturing program.
1. Email Messages:
Send a special, welcome email when a prospect enters your lead nurturing program. If they register for a white paper or other marketing collateral, use a welcome email to thank them, and point out additional education resources available to them.

Also, use prospect emails to periodically alert prospects to new resources e.g. upcoming webinars,
appearances by company officials at events, new white papers

2. Telemarketing
Use specially-trained inside salespeople or outsourced telemarketing to offer additional resources that will help move prospects through the buying process.  In these conversations, collect additional qualifying information, e.g. potential time-frame for purchase decision, details about company size and business needs.

3. Direct Mail
Use targeted mailings, such as a simple postcard, to promote new white papers or upcoming webinars. Postal mail, sent along with an email invite, is a great way to attract additional registrations for your hottest marketing content when inbox overload might cause busy professionals to overlook your email offer.

Larger mailings can also have a big impact on some of your best prospects.  Consider sending them printed product brochures, personalized packages that include targeted content and a branded gift.

Integrate mailing with telemarketing calls. When a telemarketer has identified a more qualified prospect, assemble a customized package of printed materials that demonstrate how your company can help meet their business needs or particular pain points.

In summary, strategies which work for one prospect, simply may not work for another. Since the price of postage and printing has gone up substantially over the last few years, using a targeted direct mail program for your best qualified leads may be the best way to get through to a specific prospective customer.  Experiment. Be open to selective targeted strategies.

Don’t let a prospective or existing client slip through your database. Determine who/what/where/how/when, and continue to re-evaluate every quarter.

That one simple question: Do you know the answer?

I’m pretty sure we all understand the importance of talking to our customers.  But, how often do you talk to your customers?  Maybe once a year?   Perhaps once a month?   And, how do you talk to them?   Is it a phonecall, some type of survey or possibly an in-person meeting?   Most importantly, what do you talk to your customers about?

Most of us have either been involved in producing or responding to lengthy customer satisfaction surveys that seek to “better understand the customer” and “increase customer loyalty.”   Unfortunately, these same surveys are notoriously ineffective when it comes to boosting customer loyalty - with poor response rates, alienated customers, and lackluster data.

Imagine if you could ask your customers just one simple question that could fuel unprecedented customer loyalty and determine your business’ future.   This concept, termed Net Promoter Score (or NPS) focuses on asking this one question – Would you recommend us to a friend? – in a regular, systematic and timely manner. 

In his new Harvard Business School Press book, The Ultimate Question: Driving Good Profits and True Growth , Fred Reichheld, introduces NPS as the radical new tool that is being rapidly deployed by leading firms to transform ordinary customers into promoters – the drivers of sustainable growth.

NPS is based on the premise that your customers can be divided into three unique segments based on their response to the “ultimate question” given a 0-10 point scale (with 0 being very unlikley and 10 being extremely likely).

  • Promoters – loyal enthusiasts who keep buying and urge their friends to do the same
  • Passives – satisfied but unenthusiastic customers who are easily wooed by the competition
  • Detractors – unhappy customers trapped in a bad relationship

The NPS is the percentage of customers whose answers identify them as promoters minus the percentage whose response indicates they are detractors.

NPS = % promoters – % of detractors

According to, efficient growth companies such as, eBay, Costco, Vanguard, and Dell operate at NPS efficiency ratings of 50 to 80%; while the average firm sputters along at an NPS efficiency of only 5 to 10%.  

What is your NPS baseline?   If you have your own NPS stories, we’d love to learn more.

Time for a Database Backup Firedrill

lightningColleague Michael Corey shared an interesting story in his post Have you firedrilled your Oracle or Microsoft SQL Database Backup? recently. He tells an all-too-common anecdote about organizations that assume that their back up is working, but have never tested it.

Last summer, we held our breath when the CW Consulting Group offices were struck by lightning and two computers were fried (along with our phone system).

Two things we learned:

  1. surge protectors can’t stand up to lightning
  2. back ups can’t be ignored.

We have a new backup system since that electrical storm, and every night at 10 pm I can hear the back up begin to work. This gave me peace of mind until I read Michael’s post. When is the last time you looked at the back up to make sure it is copying the right data, that the back up is retrievable, and the files are not corrupt?

Note to IT: Check to make sure it is backing up correctly.

What about you? Has your back up system been tested?

Check out Michael’s blog here: / and learn everything you need to know about database administration. Michael knows his stuff. He is one of the best in the field.

For innovators, too much information is just enough.

Broken In BooksOver the weekend, I was in a brick and mortar book store called Broken In Books. The proprietor told me that he left his job as an engineer at MIT to start an online store that sells used books cheaper than any other seller on the web. The store front, he explained, was really just one of his warehouses that inventories books, many of which were purchased from private collections. They have wonderful old and not-so-old books of every kind, cramped in to this small space between a sub shop and a bakery. His business is bustling and he wanted me to know it wasn’t an MBA that got him where he was, but just taking his idea and running with it.

Information Innovation

When I got to the register, he discounted my books further than the already good prices labeled on the spine, based on the current going rate online, plus an additional discount for buying quantity. To determine their pricing, they rely on a quick search on to see what the rock bottom price is at the moment of purchase. Then they provide an additional 20% discount below those prices. When the book I picked up marked $25 ended up costing me $6, I couldn’t have been more pleased.

Picasso's GuitareWhat made Picasso and Monet so famous? They all pretty much used the same tools: canvas, paint, brushes. Some even painted side-by-side, painting the same scenes in the south of France, but the result was different, and spectacular. These artists had unique ways of seeing. They were innovative at the time for seeing and presenting information in a way that no one else had before.

What ever you need, when ever you need it

Our access to information is growing, thanks Google and to companies like them. For instance, you can search Google Patents for original patent documents for anything ever patented. As fast as it took me to think about the light bulb and the typewriter, I downloaded PDF’s all of Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas A. Edison’s inventions, with diagrams written in their hand. You can find a patent by inventor, key word or date. Who would have imagined that we could do this all from our desk chair or our couch for that matter?

Making Sense of Information Clutter

I am not alone in being overwhelmed by it all. As the deluge continues, I think the job of a professional communicator is to find valuable information and share them succinctly like we do here three times a week in this blog. While my plate is full, these posts help me to sort through all of the information and share the cream that rises to the top for me each week.

What rose to the top for you this week? We’d love to hear.

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