The following is provided by a guest contributor, Nicole Galletta. Nicole is a friend and fellow blogger from Savannah, GA. Learn more about Nicole at the end of the article. If you are interested in being a guest blogger here on NoteasyToForget.com, please feel free to contact me.
A strong brand serves as the umbrella of all things for your company. Every company should have its own identity – its own unique logo, mission statement, and general look and feel. However, a brand is much more than an identity, it’s an experience. What experience do you want your consumers to have with the product or service your company provides? Experience is provided by customer service and now, has evolved to include a strong social media presence.
A brand not only helps consumers identify what type of business your company is, but aids in setting your company apart from its competitors. A strong brand – one that reflects the company’s perceived value in the marketplace, along with a strong connection with its consumers, can bring a loyal relationship with consumers – helping your company thrive even during tough economic times.
Customer service is such a simple aspect, yet so many companies do not seem to place any sort of value on this service. A company may think they have a strong brand, but if they are not providing the very best customer service they could offer, then their brand is not as strong as they think. As stated above, a strong brand is the umbrella of everything encompassing your company, and that includes the experience your brand provides its consumers.
It is bound to happen sometimes, a consumer will have a bad experience with your company. The key to providing excellent customer service is communicating with the consumer to find out why the experience was negative. If the company made a mistake, they should hold themselves accountable and take the steps to not only correct the problem, but learn from it. Consumers expect that the companies they choose to get their products or services from are honest. Following up with the consumer to ensure that problem has been resolved is imperative. A company that provides excellent customer service will take opportunities to connect with its consumer even when there is not a problem.
Social Media Presence
Social media, when done correctly, has certainly evolved from giving a company that extra advantage, to becoming necessary to keep up with competitors in the marketplace. When it comes to social media, sometimes less truly is more. Should a company embrace every social media tool that is out there? No. As a social media consultant, I evaluate with my clients on which tools would work best for their specific organization and the individual(s) charged with the management of these tools.
For example, if someone loathes writing and finding content to share, then a blog is not something I would suggest. Any company can have a blog, but the key is to keep the blog updated with fresh content. If the blog hasn’t been updated for months at a time then there is no real purpose in having one.
The same holds true for Facebook and Twitter. It’s all about consistency and conversation. Do not start up a network and allow it just to sit. Simply signing up for an account does not give a company a presence in the social media circuits. It takes time, thought, and connecting with your audience. Think of both of these tools as if you were engaging in an actual conversation with someone. Is the conversation one-sided…are you doing all the talking? Give the other party a chance to join in; people like to feel valued. Engage your consumers. Give them a chance to connect with your brand.
Another way to determine which social media tools to use is to establish how you want to connect with your consumers. In addition to blogging, Twitter, and Facebook, there are boundless tools available in the social media realm with more options continuously being released. Social media can take on various forms, from social news sites such as Digg, to social book marking tools like Delicious and StumbleUpon, to video and photo sharing sites such as YouTube, Vimeo, and flickr. Companies can even participate in livecasting with sites such as Skype and UStream.tv. Add another reason to ensure your customer service is up to par in the form of Yelp – a site encompassing user review, social networking, and local search all in one and one in which over 25 million people access each month. Those are just a few more options, yet the one thing all of these tools have in common is that they encourage conversation and an audience connection.
Today, a company that participates and is successful in the social media realm shows that the company has taken time to do their research, understands our evolving culture, and is not afraid of change. However, if a company does not foresee their company’s social media sites being consistently updated then it is best not to venture into these new territories. Consistency is key.
You may be asking yourself what company does not have a website? You may be surprised at how many companies still do not see the value in a website and domain name. Simply stated, a website is expected by your customers. It gives your business legitimacy. It is, indeed, the first step in establishing web presence for your organization. The yellow pages days are gone. If you want to be found, you must have a website. A website provides information – important information at that – your company’s brand, what service or products you provide, and how to contact your business, for starters.
Not to mention, it serves as another channel of marketing. A website is your company’s home on the web. With the use of the aforementioned social media tools, SEO, and some online advertising, you can introduce potential customers to your company. Websites also provide opportunity for lead generation. It is one of the easier ways to collect data from the visitors that come to your site. If you use this data responsibly, in other words, do not sell the data to other parties, you can use data such as email addresses to connect with consumers further. Word to the wise, do not send anything such as newsletters or email blast unless the consumer has opted in to receive these materials.
While it’s true every organization should have web presence, the social media boom has opened up more options as to what types of websites work. For some organizations, it is completely acceptable to have a site that is actually a blog as long as the organization uses a unique domain name and has the who, what, and where information that traditional websites have. I have seen a big push in the photography industry in using one site to serve as both their website and blog. Many photographers rely on blogs to showcase their work. In this case, the site is multipurpose as it eliminates the number of times a visitor has to click to see images, yet keeps contact and photographer information in reach.
Everything is Marketing
In short, your company’s brand is the forefront of everything your company does and does not do, and how it is seen by your customers, potential customers, and the overall marketplace. Your brand is also the experience [reactive and proactive customer service] you provide for your consumers. Today, the level of customer service that you provide can also be determined by whether or not you respond to consumers in the social media circuits in a timely manner. Note that the subject of ‘timely manner’ evokes an article all of its own. Social media tools are useful in engaging with your consumer to establish and maintain a connection in which the ultimate goal is to achieve brand loyalty. Websites – traditional and nontraditional – allow your company to be found – giving your company a home on the web to open up doors to potential local, national, and international customers.
Internal communication is vital within every company and organization to ensure the company’s mission, policy, goals, and strategies are on the same page. And everything your company does is essentially marketing.
Post Image credit: 37Signals