Monday, April 20, 2015

Lessons in Social Marketing

Things learned from sending customer newsletters is a good read on LinkedIn. A couple of things: Consistency is important. It helps to build trust. The newsletter is about delivering Value (consistenctly) to your customers and prospects, not selling them stull. If anything, thing about the branding -- your logo and colors and name, coming at them at a regular interval.


The follow up is the mark of persistence and consistency. That says enough. (Sales stats show that most give up by 3 follow ups, but sales are made after the 8th or 10th or 15th contact.) Stay in front of them and bring value.


Speaking of LinkedIn, do you have a company page? Do you have a complete profile with an up to date photo? You can post stories and updates that will get your name in front of your network.


These types of misfires on social media are why some businesses don't want to go on social, but you have to be there. It is where the audience is today. [To see how it can be done, here are 12 examples.]


In this article about the reasons Google Plus died, the lessons can apply to any company and any product. For example, employee incentives if not carefully thought out can back fire. Make certain you are measuring the proper metric (factor). Listen to both employees and customers. Yet study your customers. It is all about Blue Ocean and Positioning. Attacking the giant head on with the same product is doomed.


As we have more and more to do - including social marketing - time management becomes important. the key is an egg timer. Break things up into bite sized tasks (on your calendar) and use an egg timer to say stop. Next!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Marketing Today is Changed

3 articles about marketing and sales today. Google has a new algorithm for mobile going into effect this weekend. The only thing constant is change. SEO is now really content marketing. Sales is tough because it is becoming inbound.


Your Marketing Is Chasing Customers Away!


The ROI of Content Marketing


Why aren't you my customer


HE.Net is now available

HE.net started a partner program, so if you want HE.net I can not rep them for bandwidth and collocation.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Some VoIP News I Wish Was Interesting


There seems to be a new Hosted PBX launching every month. This month it is a SIP Trunking company. SIPTRUNK.com Announces Public BETA Program. With this program, now even your phone vendor can offer SIP Trunking and compete with you for the small slice of market that is available. This will likely result in (a) more white-label programs; and (2) price war coming since 2000+ Hosted VoIP providers are already finding it expensive to find customers. The one challenge that SIP trunks have over POTS: QoS. I don't see this platform solving that issue. It isn't a lack of SIP; it is a lack of quality of service as most SIP trunks ride OTT (over-the-top) which offers little in the way of control or quality --- the reason many small businesses keep (or go back to) POTS.


Grandstream announced a one and two line phone line. Just what was needed - more phone models. I am not picking on snom, Yealink, Grandstream or the other manufacturers, when you make phones, you make phones. That is your hammer - and everything is
a nail. The problem isn't about cheaper. Many are debating the death of the desk phone. These phones are computers. They understand XML. But we don't use them for anything. They have all the smarts of a smartphone and the same ability. Lack of Imagination. Hire some folks from Disney.


SMS is growing, according to Voxox, a wholesale VoIP and SMS provider. Frontier has had SMS enabled landlines for a year. Many ITSPs are enabling SIP lines with SMS. (that whole unified messaging inbox.) It is something that will soon be a checklist item, instead of a value-add.


There is a thread on voice-ops listserv about delivering Key System Emulation via SIP, especially BroadWorks. BSFT has a document on how to do it. Key System emulation is wrought with issues - from the phone (especially the Polycom VVX) having issues with call appearance to call park and message on hold. The best advice (from the list and me): "We also try and break people of the key system habit whenever possible."


Often key system comes with associated challenges like overhead paging which SIP has a problem delivering in the same way. Door buzzers are another. You can one off these solutions with third party gear, but you still have to support it; make it work; and keep the customer happy. New one to me this morning: flush mount intercom door station that is SIP enabled.


BTW, Phonism launched out of Beta. Phonism is out of Tampa and does VoIP endpoint Provisioning and Monitoring. Cool dashboard and interface. I am on their board.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Apps that Automate Tasks


I have had a VA (virtual assistant) since 2004. I had 3 VAs at one point. My pal is hiring a VA from a service in the Philippines. There is an app for this now. Point that Android phone to here. It is called Any.do for the GTD (get things done) crowd. It is a Task List & To-do List. "Any.do just announced a built-in VA (virtual assistant) service called Done." [thx Jon Price!] Price suggested, "Now they just need to pull in a cloud integration automation tool like IFTTT.com or Zapier.com and it's over." Zapier is a remote work automation tool. [I personally need to get on the automation.]

3 Articles about Employees and Emails


An interesting article about employees today. The writer, who worked at Google, calls them a "full stack" employee because the skill set required for employees is a wide range today. We want biz types with tech skills and vice versa. It is a little long, but worth the read. Mind you, everyone would like to hire full stack employees; however, does your environment, culture, management style allow for that?


25 Mind Blowing Email Marketing Stats by salesforce. "According to a study by ExactTarget, 77% of consumers prefer to receive permission-based marketing communications through email." It is all about the Subject Line (and the sender's name/email). BTW, social media is for reach, but email is for closing sales.


3 great ways to get attention via email!


The secrets of Unicorn companies, that is, companies that are fast and scalable (also known as ExO, exponential orgs. Here is a list).


The future of content marketing from Seth Godin: "You Need Editors, Not Brand Managers!"


Content marketing is about building trust and 'being human beings connecting with other human beings'.


'My argument is: Real content marketing isn’t repurposed advertising, it is making something worth talking about.'

Monday, April 06, 2015

Privacy as a Luxury Brand

I have said this before, privacy is a premium service. If you sell to consumers, especially the NRA members, then protecting their freedom and privacy should be part of your marketing.


"AT&T wants customers to pay the company not to spy on them." But at least they admit that they are spying on them. VZW has super-cookies, but rarely admits it. It is an opportunity for you to set yourself apart.


You could make extra money by teaching people about privacy, PGP for email, encryption, cookies, simple VPN. There is a market for it, for certain. This would also make you the expert in this field. If you have an IT shop, it would get you more business and you could raise your rates as the local expert.


There is also a chance to capitalize on the data caps. The cable companies have them, but don't tell anyone. It could be your differentiator.


Side note: cable companies are facing an uncertain future on pay-TV. they have a long reputation for crappy service. "“The future of TV is going to be decided less by mergers between these players and more by evolution in the customer experience they provide,” Jan Dawson, an analyst at Jackdaw Research, said, referring to cable companies." [Bloom]

Friday, April 03, 2015

News You Could Use (part 129)

Some interesting stuff from telecompetitor this week.


"More and more commercial and multi-tenant buildings in the U.S. are being wired with optical fiber. Back in 2004, fiber’s penetration rate in such buildings stood at 10.9 percent. As of year-end 2014, that had nearly quadrupled, rising to 42.5 percent, according to the latest market research from Vertical Systems Group." Read the rest here.


To help it close the deal with the FCC on buying TWC, Comcast announced FTTH 2 Gigabit Service coming to metro Atlanta. See here and here.

2 GB fiber to the home....


This seems paltry in comparison, but WOW!'s Wholesale division has teamed up with iFiber Networks in Illinois to deliver 1 Gbps FTTH to Gilberts, Ill.


Frontier owns some FIOS assets and will be adding a lot more next year when it takes over TX, FL and Cali from VZ. VZ FiOS offers symmetric service, because why not it is fiber and you can make fun of cable's assymetric speeds. Now Frontier is offering symmetric speeds called 2 Fast on its FiOS assets.. See more here.


Consumers between 26-34 have no patience for video buffering, according to this study. No kidding! More than 75% bounce after 4 minutes, via telecompetitor article.


BTW, "By 2016, over 50 percent of respondents will be running some of their unified communications (UC) applications over either a private or public cloud service." [cv]

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Is Service in Your Culture?

Often I hear companies tell me that it is their service that separates them from the pack. Many point at the lack of service from the Duopoly. All that tells me is that the bar is so low for customer service.


"While it’s not news to customers that a majority of organizations don’t “get it” when it comes to customer service, it may be news to the companies themselves. After all, they’ve invested money in customer support software, they’ve hired teams of agents and hand-picked a manager. They’ve even included the fact that “customer service is their number one priority” in all their marketing materials. But customers are still complaining. So what gives?" [ccc]


"Companies don't care about you. The question, then, is this institution owned and organized and run by people who will allow the people who work there to care?" That is a Culture Question. Rackspace, Zappos, Nordstrom are a few who do have a culture of service.


"A recent report issued by Forbes Insights and commissioned by Oracle found that 62 percent of companies still fail to grasp the full importance and impact customer service can have when it is an organization-wide strategic goal, according to a recent SMBWorld Asia editorial." [ccc]


"Customer service is difficult, expensive and unpredictable." [Seth]


"Customer service succeeds when it accomplishes what the organization sets out to accomplish." [Seth] That is if you have a culture of service wrapped around strategic goals for service.


One use of customer service:


"To create a significant competitive advantage by engaging with customers in a way that others can't or won't." [Seth] I think this is what many think they do, but there are ways to do this that turn your customers into Raving Fans, Brand Ambassadors, referral agents and your churn goes to zero, your ARPU goes up, and your customer acquisition cost declines.


"Customer service, like everything an effective organization does, changes people. Announce the change you seek, then invest appropriately, in a system that is likely to actually produce the outcomes you just said you wanted." [Seth]