sales

Marketing Messages – What Really Gets Customers Through The Door

Would you buy your wine from Dan Murphy’s because they take “pride” in “offering the lowest liquor price guarantee?” Your new plasma TV from Retravision Online because they “guarantee to beat any advertised competitor price?” When your nephew or niece’s birthday arrives, will you purchase your present from Toys R Us because they promise their “prices can’t be beat”, and that they’ll “match any advertised price?” These retailers wouldn’t lie to you… or would they?

According to the University of East Anglia, lowest-price guarantees can actually work against consumers, potentially pushing prices up and discouraging them from shopping around. So, in fact, lowest or best price guarantees are not good indicators that a store is cheaper than its competition. Why, then, do we keep returning to and buying from these businesses? Well it’s pretty simple – you’re a marketing message sucker.

On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the small print. We as consumers don’t bother reading that: “In some cases there are prices which Retravision Online cannot match,” “The competitor store must be within 10 kilometres of Dan Murphy’s,” or that the Toys ‘R Us guarantee “Excludes competitor’s category or storewide discounts, conditional sales, package deals, discontinued lines, loyalty or third party offers, fire or liquidation sales, clearance/warehouse outlets.”

Marketing messages should excite customers with what you can do for them.

Our eyes and wallets are dazzled by lowest price guaranteed slogans. So what does this mean for the average business owner? You need to think about what you are selling to your customers. Retravision, Dan Murphy’s, and Toys ‘R Us aren’t telling consumers they’ve been in production for however many years, who they’re owned by, where they source their materials from, or where they hope their business will take them. Why? Because people just don’t care.

Most consumers have one thing they care about more than anything else. You need to work out what it is and sell it to them – whether it’s getting the product to them quicker, being cheaper than your competitors, or by ensuring that the quality is the best on the market. So, if your business has been running since 1969, don’t give them a history lesson from that year – it’s useless and frankly, it’s boring! Instead, mention that with over 40 years of experience under your belt they won’t be paying for you to learn on the job.

If your production takes place locally with locally sourced products, don’t just focus on the fact that this supports the community. Tell your customers because it’s right next door, it’s fresher and faster! In the event there is a problem, you’ll be able to solve it a hell of lot quicker because you have the part right on your shelf – they don’t have to wait weeks for shipping. And, in years to come when a part needs replacing – you’ll be able to do it for them – they won’t have to scour eBay for a part that hasn’t been manufactured in years.

To ensure your business can compete– you need marketing messages that excite customers with what you can do for them. Instead of dropping your pants on prices that might see a short term spike in sales, opt for something that will provide you with long term growth. Find the most compelling features of your business, and sell them.

– Steph

Video and your marketing strategy: a match made in online heaven.

What was the last video you watched on YouTube? Perhaps it was highlights from the EPL soccer game you missed on the weekend. Maybe it was the film clip for Rihanna’s latest chart topping/scandal inducing hit. Maybe it was even that massively cute video of the emotional baby. Whatever it was, you’re now a member of the ever-increasing online community which is embracing video as a quick, simple and massively effective means of communication. So good on you!

So why is it important to know what YouTube video you watched last? Well I want to explain to you how simple it is to use video as part of your successful marketing campaign.

Let’s have a little look at Pepsi.

Pepsi is a multi-billion dollar company which relies heavily on celebrity endorsement of its product but they’re also fairly cluey about this whole online video thing. In 2012, Pepsi released the first of their Uncle Drew videos. In the video the character of Uncle Drew, an older gentleman, heads down to his local basketball court and joins in a game when someone gets injured. The real kicker? Uncle Drew is actually NBA superstar Kyrie Irving. Uncle Drew’s unwitting opponents are dumbfounded when he absolutely wipes the floor with them. Big deal right? Well the first Uncle Drew video has notched 28 million views. That’s 28 million potential consumers who’ve seen Pepsi’s logo associated with a video they like. When the latest Uncle Drew video was released social media was abuzz with excitement. The video started appearing on Facebook feeds, Twitter feeds, on reddit, everywhere!Uncle Drew

What’s my point? Well rather than spending millions of dollars on paying for advertising that only a determined number of people will see, Pepsi have managed to capatalise on the effectiveness of having your consumers sharing your advertisements for you. Having a consumer share your video adds credibility to it and now 28 million people have cemented Pepsi’s position as a leader in online marketing.

It’s not just corporations jumping on this train. Degage Ministries is an American not-for-profit organisation which aims to help homeless and disadvantaged individuals. They recently engaged the services of filmmaker Rob Bliss to make a video about the transformation of a homeless veteran into a well-presented go-getter aiming to get his life on track. The simple video has now racked up 12 million YouTube views and is making headlines on news websites across the internet. 12 million people now know who Degage Ministries are and Rob Bliss Creative have exposed themselves to an incredibly large audience.

The beauty of video as a marketing tool lies in its simplicity as a medium and its sharability. A viewer only has to move their mouse mere centimetres and click a few buttons to share it with their online network and the credibility this can add to your business is close to priceless. In terms of content, video is a marketer’s dream because it can say so much in such a short time.

So what does that mean for you? Well making videos might not be as simple as sharing them. And that’s where you have to start trusting other people.

Here at Messages On Hold we’re tremendously excited about a new venture we’ve launched called VideoUpdate.me.  We’ve been on this video train for a few years now and we want other businesses to start enjoying the benefits of adding video to their marketing strategies.

Our On The Money series of videos which focus on accounting and finance are already being sent out from accounting firms across Australia, helping these businesses tell their clients the latest news in the industry and actually engaging them at a more sophisticated level.

Every business should have something to say about itself and if you can tell that to potential clients through video you never know just how many people might end up seeing it.

– Sophie

In The Spotlight

At Messages On Hold, each department has its specialty, whether that be writing, sales, voicing productions or keeping the finances in check. But when it comes to customer interaction, everyone is responsible for controlling the variables that make the difference between a positive experience and a negative one. The same principle applies at restaurants.

I love pizza, and I was understandably excited when I got the chance to eat at one of Perth’s most exciting and hyped new eateries, which happens to specialise in this particularly delicious genre of comfort food.

Probably a little too bright for a restaurant interior...

Probably a little too bright for a restaurant interior…

It exceeded my expectations. The pizza was beautiful – wood-fired and topped with fresh ingredients, along with a herby sauce that provided a welcome twist in what is traditionally a by-the-book dish. Even the non-pizza items and desserts were impressive.  What’s more, service was friendly, knowledgeable and casual. In a nutshell, it was all perfect… except for one thing: the lighting.

A single light illuminated our table – and I’m talking a football stadium-esque spotlight, not the ambient mood lighting you might expect from most restaurants.  Bizarrely, the spotlight was angled in such a way that it shone both directly into my eyes and onto my cutlery before reflecting back up into my face.

The restaurant is a casual place, so perhaps high-end ambient lighting would be inappropriate. However, while it might be unreasonable to expect the team in charge of a casual restaurant to be experts in interior design, all eateries should be aiming to deliver excellent food with top service in an environment that’s comfortable to eat in, and it should be easy to do!

If I was in charge, I’d simply think about how I’d want to be treated. I can safely say that “having a bright light shone in my eyes for the duration of a meal” would not be on the list.

I’m a copywriter – I primarily write scripts. But I’m also well aware of the fact that I’m responsible for creating a superb overall customer experience on behalf of my company, which involves far more than writing a quality script… kind of like running a successful restaurant is about more than quality food.

Have you ever thought about the accidental spotlights you might be shining in your clients’ eyes that are dimming an otherwise bright customer experience? What can you do to ensure your customers see your company in the best possible light?

– Magnus

Exceeding Expectations

Outside of my hours at Messages On Hold, I have a little creative side project that occupies my time and I recently ordered some promotional materials for it from a popular print house.

Now, this print house is no louse when it comes to customer service. They have successfully implemented an online ordering system that allows you to upload your own designs and place orders safe in the knowledge that things like overrun bleed lines won’t ruin the batch. You used to have to drive down to the store, talk to a printer representative and even pay a file handling fee. Now it’s done from the comfort of your own home. They also offer predesigned promotional material that you can customise and it’s all competitively priced.  After placing your order, you’re offered significant discounts if you buy something else within half an hour. Very clever. These guys are on the ball… mostly.

My order was for 30 pages of promotional stickers. A week later I had received 2 packs of 10, so I called to inform them of the mistake. The customer service representative was efficient and competent. I explained the situation and she concluded on the spot that there must’ve been an error and that she would send through the remainder of the order.

Do this. Not literally. But also literally.

Do this. Not literally. But also literally.

This company has empowered their customer reps to make these kinds of decisions without looking to a superior. Big tick, Kym Illman would approve. They’re also banking on the fact that they did actually stuff up and I wasn’t just trying to scam them out of another 10 pages. The cost of being scammed was significantly less than the cost of possibly insulting a paying customer. The call wrapped up and I received an email saying the package would be express delivered.

Good job, right? Almost. I was a frustrated customer, they admitted fault and now I’m back to where I started with a little lost time and some mild frustration. Will I go back to them? Maybe… sure they fixed the mistake as soon as they found out about it, but maybe one of their many competitors won’t stuff up the first time. I have nothing to lose by trying someone else.

Instead, imagine if the conversation ended like this:

“Please accept our apologies for the missing pages. We’ll quickly get those 10 pages out to you.  We would also like to send you a further 10 pages for any inconvenience that may have been caused.”

I suspect those extra 10 pages would’ve cost them very little to print and they would’ve likely gained a delighted lifelong customer whose expectations had been clearly exceeded.

When faced with a disgruntled customer, realise you’re being presented with an opportunity. It’s a rare case of someone actively engaging with your business with an explicit expectation. Take that expectation by the horns and run with it. You’ll find delighted customers are great for business.

– Jakub

Aim Carefully, Don’t Over Shoot

I’ve worked in customer service, in a variety of different settings, for many years now and until recently I didn’t really ponder the dynamics of the customer service relationship too deeply.

A couple of weeks back I had the displeasure of shopping at a chain of clothing

“What do you mean you don’t need my help?”

“What do you mean you don’t need my help?”

stores whose staff have been mercilessly beaten with an attitude of “push, push, push” and the result is a flow-down effect on the customer. I entered their store and after about 5 minutes of contented browsing I was approached by a young man whose face was split by a smile that was not reaching his disinterested eyes.

How are you today man?” he boomed in faux-enthusiasm. I replied that I was great and returned my eyes to the racks.

You looking for something in particular, because these are made and designed in Oz” He said at me, while holding up a shirt from a nearby rack and pointing at it suggestively. I replied that I wasn’t and I was just browsing. However, this seemed to be like waving red to a bull – how dare I attempt to browse this store without his input.

Yeah, I get that all the time. Did you know that all those jeans are handmade? You’d rock the mauve ones” He said pointing behind me. I thanked him and told him that I was just browsing – again.

After an awkward silence he exclaimed “You look lost!” and moved far too close to me. I assure him that I was not, and I was exactly where I wanted to be.

Are you sure?” He asked. I repeated that I was fine but I now had a sinking feeling that I will not be allowed free reign of the store without being rude to this “salesman”.

Well, you sure look lost. Hey, you’d look good in one those jackets. I’m thinking you’re a dark blue kinda guy” he says while physically grabbing my arm to drag me somewhere. It was at this stage that I decided enough was enough and told him, in no uncertain terms, that I didn’t want anything anymore and left the store.

I think this kind of persistence is something that, if we’re honest, we’ve all experienced in a sales environment. For me, it drove home the importance of ‘reading’ a customer. Great salespeople will tell you that a good sales pitch gets the sale and a repeat customer. The ‘brute force’ method of mercilessly pushing a product will sometimes get the sale, but it will likely deter the customer from coming back to you because they found the experience to be uncomfortable or intimidating.

By no means should customers be ignored, what I’m trying to illustrate here is that it’s equally detrimental to overshoot in the other direction. A salesman who’s obviously faking his enthusiasm, and covering the customers like his opponent in a footy match is more likely to put off customers than keep them coming back.

– Kyle

How To Be A Customer 101

As service providers, we go to great lengths to ensure we take care of our customers, but what about when the shoe is on the other foot? When we find ourselves as customers, how can we get the best possible service?

Before a company can commit to exceeding your expectations, they need to know what you expect!  So, let your service provider know. It seems so simple, but how many transactions result in disgruntled customers simply because the business representative did not have an accurate picture of the customers’ expectations?

What are your expectations as a customer?

What are your expectations as a customer?

Sure, you can argue this is the business’ responsibility and we’d agree with you. But maybe this example will encourage you to make your expectations known. We were working on a video production and noticed a faulty bit of equipment. This equipment did not come cheap and this fault was certainly unbecoming of the reputable manufacturer.

So we emailed the manufacturer stating the problem. The manufacturer’s representative promptly responded advising us to call the Australian distributor. We had dealt with this particular distributor in the past over the phone and our experiences were… disappointing. Naturally, this was frustrating news to receive. But how was the manufacturer to know?

We responded by writing, calmly but firmly, that this particular distributor had been unhelpful and unpleasant to deal with and as such we were not keen to contact them again. We asked for another alternative. They suggested we ship it. When we said that would be too expensive, they said they would ship a new unit and for us to send back the faulty one. Even though this was an international company, the issue was sorted within four days.

Would it have been better if they had a more professional Australian distributor? Absolutely, but consider how this transaction might have gone if we hadn’t made our expectations of customer service explicitly clear. Our faulty unit would have gone in for costly repairs and the manufacturer would have probably lost a customer.

This doesn’t mean you should be a prima donna. Sales people are astutely aware of customers who demand excessive service at a minimal price and quickly discard them as a vocal nuisance. It’s often extremely uneconomical to try to please these divas. Instead, make your reasonable expectations clear. Smart companies will see this as an opportunity to impress you.

Next time you’re a customer, think back to the customers you’ve impressed. Chances are their expectations were clear and you knew exactly how to exceed them.

– Jakub

Customer Service Begins With A Smile

We all have days when we feel flat. You might be tired. You might be having a bad day. It might be something as small as skipping that morning coffee you so desperately need. On days like this, it’s harder to wipe a smile across your face and give 100% genuine customer service.

Quite obviously, when you’re having a day like this you run the risk of letting down a customer, or potential customer, and costing yourself a sale. But I like to look at the situation a little differently. When you’re having a day when you’re not quite feeling yourself and you let yourself stay in that sulky, grouchy mood, you’re actually denying yourself a chance to let customer service cheer you up. On the other end of the spectrum, a potential customer could also be having a bad day – by providing friendly, genuine customer service you could improve their day, and in turn, improve yours!

Perhaps this picture of a little ducky will make you smile.

Perhaps this picture of a little ducky will make you smile.

In the copywriting department, we’re sometimes given the opportunity to speak to our clients over the phone, to really uncover what they’re hoping to achieve with their On Hold production. We love our clients at Messages On Hold, and every once in a while a special client comes along who’s so happy and enthusiastic that just chatting with them brightens our day. For me, it’s the client who can have a laugh with you and actually talks to you like a real person. They call you by your name and they’re enthusiastic about what you’re telling them. When you get off the phone, you’re genuinely excited about starting their script because they put you in such a good mood. If their phone manner is any indication of their customer service skills, I’m willing to bet they’re damn good at their jobs – simply because of how nice they are!

Our Managing Director Kym Illman produced an episode of Mastering Marketing which focused on how people tend to do business with people they like. By letting your mood change and enjoying interactions with your customers, not only are you giving your them what they deserve, you’re actually benefiting from it as well! If you make the sale, great, job well done. If not, there will be a next time because you will have left a positive impression on the customer so next time they need what you’re offering, they’ll have your smiling face at the forefront of their mind and they’ll come back to you.

Next time you’re feeling down in the dumps; open yourself up to the opportunity that great customer service offers. Take some advice from a legend like Peter Glen and let your own great customer service turn your frown upside down.

– Sophie

Content Is King

With the sweeping success of iPads and the mind-boggling reach of the internet, the publishing world has heard the same thing over and over again; print media’s days are numbered. Glossy magazines are experiencing dwindling sales and many have folded.

Editors around the world have come to the humble magazine’s defence and have said things like “you can’t read an iPad in the bath” and “you can’t get that tactile feel and pictures aren’t the same on a screen.” But you can’t just sit back and hope that Apple doesn’t release a water-proof iPad and that digital displays won’t improve. So what’s the answer?

Many publishers have taken the ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ approach; jumping on the digital bandwagon and really expanding their impressive brand’s online presence.  What these big names have is just that; big names. Many have profited from their branding and expanded their reach to online mediums. Others, and I’d hate to name and shame, have not been as successful. They have diluted their brand through gimmicky online mediums and tacky Facebook pages.Conent-is-king

The most important point to take from this transition from printing press to pixels is that ‘content is king’. This sentiment has been echoed in many a magazine office. In her recent biography Former Vogue Australia Editor Kirstie Clements finished on a message of prevailing integrity, “The mediums have changed and will change again, but honest, intelligent content is still key.”

While the our Copywriters love a good sound effect and character voice as much as the next guy, we know that as soon as you say something like “just give us a call for more information” on the end of an on hold message you’ve lost your credibility. Ultimately if you have a potential customer who is waiting On Hold for you to return, getting them to give you a call doesn’t make sense and no amount of sound effects or music is going to disguise that fact.

No matter how great your website looks, or how interactive your new app is, content will always be important. So if you have a typo on your homepage or a cliché in your On Hold production, don’t shrug it off. Take this opportunity to breathe new life into your content. And if you don’t know where to start, talented and modest copywriters will be happy to show you ways to deliver your business’ message to your callers in pithy 50 to 60 word bursts.

– Emily

Use The (Weak) Force!

“I just saw what we spent on marketing in the last quarter, show me some results now!”

You want to see results and understandably so. You just spent a significant portion of your budget on marketing, money that could’ve been spent on upgrading your I.T. or replacing those uncomfortable chairs in the office.

Well, it’s unlikely you’re going to see those results.

It may seem like I should start writing my own resignation letter… or that my superiors are getting ready to inform me of ‘structural changes within the company’ – but follow this train of thought for a second.

People, however, are not machines predictably responding to your ‘inputs’ – your increase in marketing spend may not have a proportional and quantifiable result.  But that doesn’t mean wasted marketing dollars.  Your marketing efforts may have achieved underlying psychological results that will be extremely important at purchase time… whenever that may be.

Some like to believe that marketing is a strong force – ‘You will hear my message, be convinced and purchase my widget!’ This is not the case. If it were, we’d all be voting for the political party that figured it out. We had a hung parliament last election, so I could probably say something about our current Prime Minister and there’d be a 50% chance you’d disagree.the-force-is-strong

Instead, marketing is a weak force. Why on earth did you spend all that money on a weak force? Because marketing works as a weak force. Consumers enter an information-laden lifeworld, filled with their own complex personalities and perspectives. It is marketing’s job to gently niggle in a message about your business into that lifeworld. Then, when the stars almost align, if the consumer knows what your company does, knows that you’ll do it reliably and, hey, thinks your company is ‘a good bloke’… you’ll get a purchase.

Skimp on marketing at your own peril. You have competitors engaging in this exact same process. Instead, make marketing work as a weak force:

● engage then sell

● aim for long-term market goals instead of sales spikes

● and communicate one thing at one time.

That last point is perhaps the most pertinent. As a copywriter for Messages On Hold, I sometimes speak with clients that wish to include a lot of information in a single message. I understand, you want to get your money’s worth, but a complex message that’s hard to remember is worthless compared to a simple message that sticks. If it’s not easy, you’ve lost them.

It may feel like a leap, but spend as much time and money as you can to keep your business in the minds of your target consumers (not on hammering home information), then at purchase time… you might just win out over the competition.

– Jakub

Let’s Chat About Chatting

Interacting with customers online is a given in business these days.  But turning those interactions into sales?  That’s a whole new kettle of fish.

Messages On Hold has its own Facebook page, but it’s not quite a sales tool. Sure, we can field questions from current and potential customers there, but it’s more a branding exercise. It allows us to connect with people in a relaxed, social manner and show a more playful side of the company.

So we could interact with prospects in a purely sales-centric, low-pressure environment, we installed a chat application on our website. This allows web browsers to navigate our site at their own pace and, if they want to ask us something about a product, it’s as easy as clicking on the chat icon and having a real-time conversation with one of the sales team.

Chat With Us!

The benefits of having a chat application on our site are two-fold. It allows our sales people to multi-task: chatting with several clients at once or even fielding email enquiries whilst a chat session is in progress. It also breaks down that fear some people have about picking up a phone and being locked in a sales conversation. Perhaps the biggest benefit of all is the fact you can connect instantly with a prospect while they’re pumped and interested in your products.

There are plenty of ways to encourage online interaction from your target market, and installing a live chat application is just one of them.  You can start by setting up a Facebook page to open a casual dialogue with customers and prospects.  Twitter is another simple, streamlined way of prompting communication from customers.  The most important thing is to get something underway.

To learn more about the benefits of live chat applications, check out this useful article.

– Lachy