Technology For Business Sake Blog

How a Nice Tie Can Help You Avoid Customer Relationship Mis-management

Posted by Brent Leary on Mon, Feb 19, 2007 @ 11:40 AM

Tags: marketing, smallbusiness, entrepreneur, email

Recently I wrote an article for the 2007 Direct Marketing News' Essential Guide to Lists, Database Marketing and Data Services.  The article was about how the Web 2.0 phenomenon was changing how companies interacted with their customers and prospects.  It was a short article that only touched at the surface of changes, but it was pretty well received.  I received a couple of nice emails from folks who read it and thought it was interesting.  And then I got this email from someone who basically wanted me to hire them to do public relations work. 

I really have no problem with this, as I use this strategy from time to time if I run across something that makes sense for me to approach.  And when I do this,  I try to make sure up front that I make a positive statement about whatever it is they wrote about, spoke about or presented on.  It shows that I've at least did a little homework and paid some attention to what they did.  This just makes good sense....and I'm not even in public relations.  So here's what I get from the PR person who wants me to hire them based off of the contact he's initiating with this email.....

Hi Brent:

Seeing your article in the DM News Guide to Lists & Database Marketing, I wanted to drop you a line and introduce myself. As a public relations consultant specializing in the database marketing & CRM space, I deal with marketing services and numerous industry publications every day. As a matter of fact, I helped create and placed two articles in the same Guide in which your article appeared.

This was the opening paragraph. You don't need to see the rest and I didn't either as I pretty much stopped reading after that.  Well typically that would have been it for me but I did check the rest of the email just to see if my assumption was correct.  And it was.  This person only talked about themselves and what they've done in the past.  What set me off in the first place was how it was pretty apparent to me that this person didn't even take the time to read my article.  He "saw" it, but he definitely didn't read it.  If he had, and if he really wanted my business, don't you think he would have complimented me before going full bore into his sales pitch?  My co-host Michael Thomas refers to this as the "nice tie" approach, where you find something to compliment your intended target on before hitting them up.  This person, who claims to be a public relations specialist, didn't even give me a nice tie before singing their own praises (and anyone who knows me knows I could really use a nice tie).  Needless to say, I didn't reply to the email.  In fact I'd probably hire Terrell Owens' old PR lady before hiring this person, and we know what kind of job she did under fire

It reminded me of that Seinfeld episode where George asks Jerry to act like his former employer and be a reference for the job he's going for as a latex salesman.  George has the company call Jerry's house, but instead of Jerry answering the phone Kramer does and totally screws it up for George.  George, in the bathroom, here's Kramer messing it up and comes tearing out of the bathroom with his pants down around his ankles, then falls face first right at Jerry's feet.  Jerry looks at George, and says those famous words...."and you want to be my latex salesman......"  And this person what to be my public relations consultant.......

To me, it's just another tragic case of customer relationship mis-management.  Please learn from this before sending that next email out.  And also learn how to say and spell "Nice Tie!"

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Gmail Dilemna

Posted by Brent Leary on Wed, Dec 27, 2006 @ 01:00 PM

Tags: smb, marketing, smallbusiness, email, google, gmail



I've been using Gmail for about 10 months now. The only reason I started using it was because my Outlook crashed and I got fed up. I had a Hotmail account and Yahoo! account but they didn't do it for me. Even though I did get Outlook back up and running and need to use it for its rich feature set, I continue to use Gmail for basic emailing functions. It's easy to use interface and 3G of free space won me over. And apparently it's winning over a growing number of email users. In fact, according to a recent article in Direct magazine, unlike AOL email accounts which are typically popular with consumers only, professional types seem to be signing up. It even appears that having a Gmail account makes a better impression to prospective employers than having an AOL account.....Sorry AOL (I guess I was right to ditch my AOL account eight years ago!).
With more and more people using Gmail, an interesting quandary is beginning to face email marketers. Google serves of contextual ads in Gmail. So if you send a nice HTML email with graphics out to customers and prospects, by default the graphics are turned off and will have to manually be turned on by recipients. But Gmail will read the text of the message and then will place text ads in the margins of the email, and those ads could be from your competitors who have bought keywords with Google Adwords. Your content gets blocked while your competitors ads come in nice in clear. That's bad. Because of this you'd probably think it's not worth sending to gmail accounts because you might be drumming up business for your competition. But......
Here's why you may want to think twice about not sending to Gmail accounts:
  • According to email management firm Return Path, overall response rates for their May mailing campaigns was just over 2.8%, but Gmail users responded at a 5.6% rate, or double the average.
  • Gmail users are generally viewed as more sophisticated and more responsive
  • Gmail users are viewed as more active

So that puts email marketers in an interesting dilemma: Do I send to Gmailers since they are more likely to respond to my emails or do I not send to them because I could be putting them on the doorstep of my competition?
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Are e-newsletters going the way of the Dodo Bird?

Posted by Brent Leary on Tue, Dec 19, 2006 @ 11:13 PM

Tags: smb, smallbusiness, entrepreneur, email



Talk about grabbing your attention. I receive an e-newsletter from The Warrillow Group on a weekly basis and today’s was a doozy. The Warrillow Group is a Canadian based research firm focused on the SMB market. There information is pretty interesting and you may want to check out their site. This week’s newsletter came with the following subject line – “The beginning of the end for the e-newsletter”. Now I am signed up to more than a few newsletters and most of the time I delete before reading them, as most of you probably do as well. But this one I opened.

As you rifle through your inbox (and through all the e-newsletters you no doubt have piled up in it), it’s probably hard to conceive e-newsletters going out of style anytime soon. But its popularity with businesses is precisely why Warrillow’s survey says e-newsletters are on their way out eventually…not tomorrow, but eventually. The survey, answered by small business owners with fewer than 100 employees, found the SMB marketers have become too reliant on e-newsletters, and that e-newsletters are being read less and less, not making it through spam filters.

Now this report is really aimed at companies selling to SMBs, letting them know that they need to do something else to reach the target. In fact, 84% of Fortune 500 companies selling products to SMBs have an e-newsletter. But you know businesses of all sizes are sending e-newsletters out with reckless abandon because it’s easy and cheap to do so. Causing a fraction of them to be read.

Warrillow points out that RSS (Really Simple Syndication), may be the tool that may replace e-newsletters. Many folks, including yours truly in a post on my personal blog, believe RSS will supplant e-newsletters at some point in time. Mainly because it puts the power of choice in the end user’s hand, and allows them to take back control of their inbox. And with Microsoft Vista and Office 2007 due out shortly, RSS will be hitting the mainstream at some point. So now would be a good time to acquaint yourself with it from a business perspective, and how it can enable you to get your messages through to the desired target.

To get more of this information you may want to sign up for Warrillow’s e-newsletter. Unfortunately it doesn’t appear they have a blog or RSS feed yet. I guess that means e-newsletters still have a little time left before they become extinct.
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Quick Takes on Software-as-a-Service for Small Business

Posted by Brent Leary on Mon, Dec 18, 2006 @ 06:19 PM

Tags: smb, crm, saas, sherylkingstone, marketing, smallbusiness, email




Small businesses are really starting to embrace Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) in 2006. And it is truly a great way to quickly incorporate functionality that in the past would have been too expensive, too difficult to learn and too long for benefits to be realized. SaaS truly makes sense for small businesses to use in a number of ways.

Our company, CRM Essentials, was among the first certified implementation partners of on-demand CRM pioneer Salesforce.com when we signed on back in 2003, and have been following the rise of SaaS since then. In fact, I’ve been following traffic patterns of some of the better known SaaS providers of CRM with my “Alexa CRM On Demand Ratings” posts on my blog for the past six months. So you can definitely call me a strong proponent of it, especially for small businesses who need to get up and running quickly and cheaply to compete, thrive and survive.

Now with all the hype surrounding SaaS you would think that buying traditional software has gone the way of the do-do bird, or relegated to history books…”Remember back in the 1990’s when we used to Comp USA to buy software?). But just keep in mind that the majority of software is still acquired the old-fashioned way. And that it still makes sense to do so for many uses.

Recently we had one of the leading experts on the SaaS market, Sheryl Kingstone of Yankee Group, on the show to discuss the whole “Buy vs. Rent” dilemma with respect to SMBs. Here are a few quick hits (90 seconds or less) you should check out before you completely go the “no software” route.

1. Installed software will be here for awhile, and might be cheaper for what you need it for


2. Email marketing is probably the best way to get started with SaaS to see quick results



3. Make sure you add everything in when doing Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) comparison between SaaS vs. installed software for a 3-5 year timeframe


4. SaaS will help make it easier to use functionality from one service provider from within another service providers application. This has created a new term called “intelligent mashups”.



Software-as-a-Service really can allow small business to “look like a big guy” while paying like a little guy. But there will probably be things that you’ll always want to install directly on you machines. Just take the time to figure out when it’s appropriate to use one or the other.







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Online Marketing for the Offline Small Business

Posted by Brent Leary on Wed, Dec 13, 2006 @ 03:16 PM

Tags: smb, quickbooks, marketing, adsense, smallbusiness, email, google, adwords



I recently had the pleasure of delivering the keynote presentation at a small business CRM/Call Center/Contact Management conference in Louisville, Ky last week. There were approximately one hundred or so folks in attendance and I would say the majority of them worked in or owned business employing less than fifty employees. A good number of them had businesses participating in traditional, boring, “low-tech” industries. You know, the kind that built (and is still building) this country.

I was very happy with the reception my presentation received from the folks, but I could tell that many of the things I talked about were not too familiar to the audience. So my whole Web 2.0/Social Media Optimization/Business Web spin on finding, catching and keeping good customers may have been a little over the top. But I think it did help some attendees understand an important message they needed hear: Even though your business is not “high tech”, you still can benefit greatly by using Web 2.0 technologies.

That theme really resonated with one business owner who runs a manufacturing operation with thirty employees. Currently she has no website, but realizes the value of having one as she is doing more and more networking, and feels that having a site to point people to will generate more interest. But what about those folks she doesn’t meet face to face who are looking for the services she provides? Don’t they have just as much potential to become customers as those she meets at the trade shows and networking events? These questions can also be posed to printers, cleaning services, lawn care providers and other traditional businesses. But many of these “traditionalists” don’t think tools like search engine marketing are really for them. I beg to differ……

So I had the traditionalists in mind when we had Emily White, Google’s director on online sales and operations, on the show to discuss search engine marketing (SEM) and its usefulness to small businesses. Below are a few quick snippets from the thirty minute interview that should change a few minds.
  1. SEM is definitely not just for high-tech businesses

  1. How using SEM working inside Quickbooks can help get you online faster

  1. How CRM + SEM = $$$ for small businesses

  1. A few short tips for converting online leads to offline deals


Now it’s easier than ever for your offline business to get big benefits from online tools and services like SEM. And it will get easier and easier as time goes by, but it’s important to get started now, or fall further behind as more and more businesses beat you to the punch.

To hear the whole interview with Emily, click here.
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Email Tips from Entrepreneur.com's Email Marketing Coach

Posted by Brent Leary on Fri, Dec 08, 2006 @ 10:08 AM

Tags: gail, marketing, constantcontact.com, goodman, email



Our interview with Constant Contact's CEO Gail Goodman was filled with a great deal on information that small businesses really need to know about effectively using email marketing to grow their businesses. If you have a chance please check out the whole conversation by going to the show page. For those who don't have time to check out the whole show, here are a few quick hits (clips range from twenty-four seconds to ninety-two seconds) that should be more successful with email marketing:

  1. Proper target for email marketing campaigns is your current customer base, NOT prospects .

Many small businesses use email campaigns as a way to initiate contact with prospects. Gail explains why its best use is aimed at your current customer base, not people who don’t know who you are. Listen below:

  1. It’s easy to get yourself “blacklisted” for bad email campaign execution practices


Be safe rather than sorry and check out Gail’s tips for keeping in good standing with the email police and staying of the black list. Listen below:

  1. Second thoughts on using Outlook or other email client software for executing email campaigns


Outlook is a great application for sending emails to individuals and small groups of people. Gail explains why you may want to reconsider using email clients to execute full blown email campaigns. Listen below:

  1. MIME-ing for Success!


This isn’t about Marcel Marceau , but about making sure your email campaigns can be read on mobile devices like the BlackBerry. It's about making sure you're sending a Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension (MIME) message. Don't get too excited about this, as Gail explains most email marketing services can handle this for you. This is important because roughly half of all emails are read first on these devices, and if your campaign isn’t formatted correctly, it definitely won’t be read. Listen below:
 

These are just a few of the great tips and insights from our conversation with Gail.  To hear the whole interview, just click here.
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