Tuesday, August 14, 2012

7 Secrets For Leaving Better Voicemail Messages

If you’re like most business people, you leave voicemail messages all day long but you’re rarely given much thought to how you’re doing it. Voicemail can be a great way to save time, but it can also create unintended negative results if you’re unaware of a few bad habits. Here are 7 secrets to leaving better voicemail messages.

1. Start with something personal – Telemarketer calls are such a problem these days, people might think you are a spammer if you don’t quickly say your name and why you are calling them. If you don’t know the person well, it’s best to say “Bob, this is Pam Smith, we met at the NAWBO luncheon last Tuesday and you asked me to follow up with you.” Now you can be sure your message will be fully heard.

2. Keep it brief – Everyone is time pressed these days. Voicemail is no place to get into a long story. Just leave the tip of the iceberg and save all the juicy details for when they call you back.

3. Slow down – If you’re at all nervous, there is a natural tendency to rush. It is better to speak slowly and clearly, even if it means you will have to distill your message down to its essence. When you talk too quickly, people often miss what you’re saying.

4. Repeat your callback number – People are often distracted when they’re listening to their voicemail playbacks. Even if you say your number slowly, they may miss some of it. That’s why it’s considerate to repeat it. That way the other person doesn’t have to replay the whole message a second time.

5. If you’re cranky, don’t make phone calls – A person’s energy comes through loud and clear over phone wires, so if you’re having a bad day, focus on other tasks, or watch funny YouTube videos until you shake off your blues.

6. Don’t call and hang up repeatedly – With some phone systems, it creates a voicemail for each call received, even if you don’t speak. If you’re in the habit of calling people repeatedly until they pick up, you may inadvertently create a situation where they have to sit and delete multiple blank messages from you before they can get to their actual voice messages. This does not build goodwill.

7. Script important messages – Certain messages are critical. For these types of messages, it’s a good idea to write down your main points so that you don’t lose your train of thought and ramble. As long as you can sound natural, it’s okay to have some written words to guide you as you leave your message.

5 Google Results You Want

Today every business exists in two worlds simultaneously – the online world and the offline world. Even if a company has done absolutely nothing online, their lack of any presence still says something about them. And odds are, there are people talking about them anyway, they just don’t know it.

There are certain categories of information that you want to come up when people are checking out your business online. After you review this list you might want to do a quick Google search to see how many of these you have covered.

1. Content demonstrating your unique expertise – This is stuff that proves you know what you’re talking about. It could be articles, videos, blogs, webpages, whitepapers, newsletters, tweets, ebooks or any combination thereof. Each of these posts are ways to highlight what is unique and special about your firm, your voice and the specific way you help people. People go online to find out what you’re all about, so make it easy for them. Share that kind of information so they can get to know you.

2. Interviews supporting your thought leadership – This is where the media has asked to interview you about your area of expertise. You could be the featured expert or you could just be quoted as one of many in the resulting coverage. It could be a Q & A with a blogger, or a quick conversation on YouTube. This type of content is very powerful to have online because it demonstrates others are seeking out what you know. It is a great endorsement of your professionalism, so if you have never been interviewed by any media, you might want to set a goal for that to happen this year.

3. Pictures and images – You know how Google has a tab called Images? People can click solely to see visuals of you or your business, so you don’t want those results to come up blank. Be sure your website and online presence includes quality photographs. It could be someone demonstrating something, site pictures or images from an event. These visuals will give a fuller sense of you and your business beyond what words alone can share.

4. Testimonials – As a prospect is scrolling through your search results it would be ideal if they came across other people describing their experiences in working with you. You can have a testimonials page on your website, but don’t stop there. Use the testimonials section of LinkedIn as well, and identify third party websites in your industry where people share this type of information. Facebook and Twitter are also great places to share short endorsements too.

5. Participation in online conversations – As people search online for industry content, it is very helpful for them to come across you offering an expert answer to someone’s question or pointing someone else in the right direction. When these types of pages come up on Google, they demonstrate your expertise but also show your community involvement. You can even initiate a discussion if you prefer.

By proactively ensuring these five types of content appear in any Google search of your company, you position yourself as an expert in the best possible way and greatly enhance the probability of a prospect picking up the phone to contact you directly and do business.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Zombie Marketing

“The average American worker has fifty interruptions a day, of which seventy percent have nothing to do with work.” – W. Edwards Deming

You might have noticed, zombies have become a popular part of our cultural landscape. The continuing interest in zombie-themed movies, TV shows and even events seems to keep growing with no end in sight. As a marketer, it got me thinking about places where “Walking Dead” might be appropriate for certain marketing tactics.

Telemarketing, junk mail and mailbox-stuffing paper campaigns all meet my definition of what I’ll call “Zombie Marketing.” These tactics are dead but they don’t know it. They may work in terms of enough people seem to respond to make it worth doing, but that doesn’t mean they’re a good strategy for a savvy business interested in building goodwill.

Please don’t misunderstand, I am not saying all phone calls, emails or mail campaigns are bad. Just the ones that are spammy, junky or clearly bogus and a waste of time.

See, as a culture, we are moving away from interruption-based communication. We’re moving toward information on demand. You don’t want a furnace repair company to call you on a random Tuesday when your furnace is working fine. You do want to find a reliable furnace repair company quickly when yours breaks down. That requires a completely different approach to getting the word out.

As a business owner who has had the same phone number for over a decade, you can imagine how many zombie marketing lists I am on. Each week I receive phone calls from solicitors saying they are “Checking on the copier,” when I don’t have a copier. Or they want to give me special offers on my phone account, when I have no such account with their company. When I inform them of this, they hang up and dial the next number on their list.

Zombies only think about their own immediate needs. They have zero empathy for anyone else. They’re mindless. They add little of value and their numbers can quickly get out of hand. Kind of like all the junk email in your spam folder, or the print solicitations that you dump in the recycling bin each day.

When considering marketing techniques, don’t be part of the undead horde. Ask yourself, “Does this tactic interrupt people? Does it annoy them? Have I bothered to figure out if this person is even a prospect for what I offer? Am I just putting this out in mass quantities hoping anything will stick?” It is far better to focus on providing quality information of value and making that available in as many forms as possible to those who seek it. One day the zombie techniques will truly die out. Until then, stick to tactics for the living.