Web 2.0: Marketing by Providing Value

As I noted in a previous post on Web 2.0, marketing on the “new” web is about providing value to prospective customers. I was recently able to connect with Kwame Kuadey of Gift Card Rescue to discuss his web 2.0 strategy.  What I found is that, regardless of your industry, the basic principles of web 2.0 apply.

Kwame began marketing Gift Card Rescue through traditional means: he set-up a website, initiated a branding campaign, and “put a stake in the world wide web’s ground.” What he learned was that the old theory of ‘build it and they will come’ is only partially true. In an effort to increase traffic to Gift Card Rescue’s website he began a blog, Gift Card Blogger. Instead of focusing on his company and what he wanted, he instead decided to provide relevant and important information on gift cards. That’s right, he started providing value to potential customers instead of just his services of buying and selling gift cards without the risk of fraud.

Providing Value Builds Success
Today, over 35% of Gift Card Rescue’s traffic comes directly through his blog, and he believes that a large majority of his other hits are a result of the increased traffic, resulting in better search ratings, due to his blog. In addition, through his blogging and writings Kwame has positioned himself as a leading expert in the gift card industry, a move that will pay public relations rewards many times over throughout the busy holiday seasons.

What you can learn from Gift Card Rescue
Regardless of if you are in marketing in a professional services company, a construction company, or a non-for-profit, you can look at the Gift Card Rescue model and learn three things that will help you to be successful in the Web 2.0 marketing world:

  1. You must begin by developing a strong website, brand, and an easy to navigate web presence.
  2. You need to provide value to your potential customers: You can do this through posting white papers, starting a blog, sending out weekly tips, or just explain the best way to engage a firm that provides your type of product or service. Remember, DO NOT SELL, rather provide relevant and helpful information.
  3. Leverage the value that you are developing and sharing through your website, blog, or network to establish yourself, your company, and/or your product as the best in the field.

Success in a Web 2.0 world
Success in Web 2.0 strategy, be it on LinkedIn, blogging, or as part of an online community such as Civil Engineering Central, must be defined differently than in traditional marketing. For me it is the relationships that I have made as a result of this blog, for others it is public relations, and still for others it is increased name recognition. What is important is that you identify your objectives and then focus your Web 2.0 presence to meet those objectives.

The Power of not having a Website

RainmakerThe following article written by Tim Klabunde was published in the September edition A/E Rainmaker, a PSMJ Resources publication.

I received a message the other day from a friend telling me that I needed to visit Skittles.com. It wasn’t that Skittles had an incredible website and they were not giving away free candy samples, instead it was that the Skittles website isn’t a website!

I have been enjoying watching the evolution of the web for years, so you can only imagine then that a message about a non-website was well worth a trip to the world-wide-web. Here is what I found:

Skittles.com home page is a Twitter page with a little box in the corner of your browser window that has links to each of their other “pages.” If you click on “Products” you will be taken to Wikipedia to learn more about each of the different types of Skittles. If you want to see videos or pictures, you are directed to YouTube and flickr. If you want to know what people think about Skittles, you’ll end up at Twitter. Actually, the only time you end up on a Skittles webpage is when you click “contact.”

Web 3.0

Could it be that a candy company was the first to Web 3.0, where customers create content rather than owners? Skittles has captured something incredible by creating a non-website: they have shifted the focal point of the content to the customer! We often focus on creating fresh and new websites that provide great information, yet to often the content of a website is designed more to make an owner feel good than to benefit the customer. Skittles turned the tables by reaching to their customers and giving them a voice. In doing so they turned over the ownership of the Skittles website to the people the site was created to reach in the first place.

Your non-webpage

What would a potential customer learn about you and your company if your corporate website was suddenly down for a day? Are others writing good things about your service and your capabilities? Do you have a blog, a Wikipedia page, a LinkedIn group, or a twitter group that gives an active voice to your company? Take a couple of minutes today to Google yourself and your company, and take special note of the information on page two and three of your search. Is your web presence painting a picture of your company that you want to see?

The future of the web

We truly don’t know what will happen next on the World Wide Web, but one thing is certain: it is the people that are searching for information that will dictate the future of the web, not the website owners.

The Introvert’s Secret to Networking

I am excited to announce that on Tuesday November 17th I will be presenting a new seminar entitled “The Introvert’s Secret to Networking” at a national webinar for the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS). If you are interested in attending or would just like to find out more about this new presentation you can check it out on the SMPS national website

As always, my goal is to help others (introverts and extroverts alike) to build great relationships that improve their businesses and lives. I hope that you will be able to join me for this webinar or at a future seminar.

Tim Klabunde

Leveraging your marketing dollar

iswm_logoThe following article written by Tim Klabunde was published by the International Society of Weighing & Measuring.

“It’s not that I am cheep, it is just that I like getting a lot of value for my money.” 

I believe many people feel this way when it comes to their marketing budget.  We all want to figure out what is going to give us value when it comes to getting work in the door.  To that end here is a list of the three “cheapest” ways to get more work.

  1. Existing Clients – Ever wonder why the cable company is always trying to up sell you a 100-movie channel package?  It is because the least expensive way to bring in more revenue is to expand service to your existing clients.  This same model is utilized in almost all service industries.  So when you are looking to get more work in the door start by trying to solve more of your current clients problems first. 
  2. Referrals – When I had the siding redone on my home this last year I received 3 quotes for the job.  The most expensive was a national company, the least expensive was a company I saw on a yard sign in our neighborhood, and the middle bid was a referral from a trusted friend that had their siding redone a couple of years prior.  I paid the extra money for the middle quote because I felt comfortable and trusted the advise of my friend.  Did you catch that? The referral transferred the trust that I had in my friend into the company she endorsed!  Firms that use referrals make more money and their clients begin the relationship with confidence in their ability to do the job right.
  3. New Relationships – Note that I didn’t say clients I said relationships. Clients are expensive to get, but a network is not.  Networks of relationships in your industry allow others to provide you with leads that you can follow up on for minimal cost.  Here are some examples: the attorney that passes along leads to an accountant; the brink layer that that tells the roofer what projects he’s working on; the civil engineer that tells the architect which developers are considering building on a piece of land.  Your network can provide leads must faster and for less expensive than trying to find them yourself.

Time and time again I note that it is people that provide the biggest return on our marketing investment dollar.  Whatever you do, however, don’t give up on your advertising budget.  Advertising, networking, press releases, etc… are each only one tool in your marketing toolbox.  Every marketing tool has its place and must be used appropriately in order to achieve true marketing success.

The Perfect Client Relationship Management System

PostItNotesThere comes a day in the life of every rainmaker when they realize that they need a better system to track relationships. John was there. He was failing to return phone calls, several clients were unhappy with his responsiveness, and he was no longer being proactive with his current and future clients. He was falling behind. For John it was simple: he needed a system that was easy to use and easy to implement.  He needed something that made his life easier and reminded him when he needed to reconnect with someone he hadn’t been in contact with for awhile.

You already have a CRM (Client Relationship Management) System

What most people fail to realize when considering the purchase of a CRM is that they are already using one. Be it post it notes on your desk or Microsoft Outlook, you inevitably already have a system in place to track relationships. The question is how effective is your system?

Most people looking for a CRM system are very similar to John. We know that our life would be much easier if we could simply capture and retrieve data in an efficient and effective way. The problem with most corporate CRM systems is that they are complicated because of the need for multiple employees to be on the same system. This has made many CRM systems cumbersome, eliminating one of the foundational reasons CRM systems are needed in the first place: to make us more effective. The result is that many CRM systems sit unused as employees take the path of least resistance and track relationships individually through outlook or other personal systems, eliminating the benefit of crosspollination inside the company.

The Perfect CRM

The future of CRM will be based around the capture of always-up-to-date data streams that can integrate that data into shared workspaces. For example, LinkedIn and Facebook already have data that is always up to date because individuals are always updating their own information. Now, take that data and attach a CRM system that allows you to privately add notes from your last conversation, e-mails, or proposals. The end result would be client contact that is always up to date not just with the information you added, but also with personal information such as where they graduated college, there previous employers, photos, etc… The perfect CRM rests in the capture of public data and information, and its integration with private workspaces that allow you to track the personal conversations.

What You Need to do Today

Today most CRM solutions don’t have the option for integrated data from online environments. However, Outlook, the tool that the majority of people use to manage contacts, does. You can start integrating your contacts with online data today by downloading LinkedIn’s Outlook Toolbar. It continually updates your contacts with up to date LinkedIn profile information, notifies you when your contacts change their LinkedIn profile, and provides you with mini-profiles and photos whenever someone emails you.

Remember, regardless of whether you are a CRM user or you are responsible for establishing a corporate CRM system, the key to its success is making it simple and easy to use and understand. Once you experience the benefits of a great CRM you’ll never do business any other way again.

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About the Perfect CRM Discussion

This post was written as part of the Perfect CRM discussion posted by some of the industries best known marketers and authors. It is a series of essays on the topic of client relationship management tools. Each expert drew upon years of experience to outline their vision of the perfect CRM system. This exercise will provide you with new insights into what works, what doesn’t work, and what you should consider when implementing a CRM system.

The experts include:

Visit these sites to read each expert’s take on the perfect CRM.

The makings of a different type of company

whiteduckI sat in my office this morning writing down a list of what makes our company different from our competitors.  After a couple of minutes writing things like “quality, rapid response, and expertise in…” I quickly realized that I wasn’t writing down anything that truly differentiated us from our competition… or Visa, AOL, or HP for that matter.

After thinking about what really sets a company apart I started a second list focusing on what differentiates several successful individuals in our company from others in the industry.  This time I came up with a much different list that noted such things as: honesty, integrity, openness, understanding, humility, and a desire to help others. 

We often use the phrase “what goes around comes around” when we see good things happen to good people (or bad things happen to bad people); what we don’t often make note of is that this same rule applies to business and to companies. Successful companies in virtually every industry are building corporate cultures that embrace a moral centered workplace and values driven marketing. 

The Result

What goes around comes around: Businesses thrive when they provide solutions to problems with honesty and integrity rather than serving the ‘almighty’ dollar.