Ditch the Pitch

Literary legend has it that Ernest Hemingway took on a bet that he couldn’t tell a complete story in just six words, and won it with this simple sentence: For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

In the 21st Century we’re no strangers to this kind of bare-bones messaging. We can’t watch a news bulletin without simultaneously reading headlines flashing along the bottom of our screens. We abbreviate entire SMS’s into an almost illegible jumble of letters. We’re suckers for the succinct.

As a business it is imperative that your marketing strategy reflect the demands of your would-be clients, customers or investors for instant gratification and bite sized news items. It’s time to forget the out-of-date Elevator Business Pitch, and acknowledge that we live, after all, in the age of Twitter.

The Elevator Pitch, the long standing bread and butter for ambitious entrepreneurs and successful salesmen, was originally conceived as a reference to an incidental meeting in an elevator, and thus having the course of a single elevator ride during which to make your sales pitch.

Traditionally, the most liberal of time-keepers would say that your elevator pitch should clock in at around 30 seconds, a sentiment reflected in television advertisements (themselves a form of the Elevator Pitch), which in recent decades have shrunk to averaging at around 30 seconds as well.

A 30 second Elevator Pitch, at a rate of 2.5 words a second, would result in roughly 75 words in which to deliver your message. Contrast this with a Twitter post, which ranges between 100-140 characters. If we figure that the average word is between four and five letters in length that leaves us with only 10 seconds/25 words with which to pitch! It is interesting to note that TV ads are increasingly coming in at around the 10 second mark as well.

It might seem like an impossible task to generate enough interest, convey enough information and include a call to action all in a single sentence. Yet, as pointed out by Carmine Gallo from Forbes Magazine*, Apple founder Steve Jobs would pitch his products with half a Tweet-sized tagline; the iPod was famously introduced as “1,000 songs in your pocket”, the Macbook Air is “The world’s thinnest notebook” and most recently the new Macbook is hailed under the clever line of “Light. Years ahead.”

There are three key ingredients encapsulated in each pitch:

–       An introduction of the product.

–       Information of what is being offered beyond its competitors.

–       An indication of how this advantage benefits you.

Your marketing tagline should, in Jobs’s own words, “[get] so close [to your customers] that you tell them what they need well before they realise it themselves”. So to help you get started, here are three simple tips to help you craft your own perfect Twitter-pitch.

1)    Differentiate – isolate the single most definitive aspect that divides you from your competition and will entice consumers to seek you out.

2)    Describe – develop a one-line description that rolls off the tongue easily, that uses clever word play, or is simple and iconic.

3)    Delete & Develop – trim away all of the extraneous words and descriptions. Ensure that you’ve created the most succinct pitch possible, and make sure that you keep it to one line and under ten seconds, because less is more and if it can’t be digested in 10 seconds or less, no one is going to take any note of it regardless of its quality.

It’s 2015 and it’s time to pitch small and strong, or go home. Your customers/clients are all scrolling down dozens if not hundreds of Tweets a day. They’re seeing billboards sprawled across the city, and ads on TV pumping products down their throat – so it’s your task to break through the white noise and get yourself out there.

Go simple, get Tweeting!

– Aaron

Stop Reposting

In order to be valuable, the content you post needs to be specific to your business. Pugs in Game of Thrones costumes? Not relevant, save them for your personal page. The only way to ensure everything you post is specific to your business is to create everything yourself. If you’re just starting out, or are hitting a content brick wall, here are some tips:

social media for business

Don’t be Afraid to Hire Help

Creating enough content for your business can seem like an almost impossible task, thankfully there’s always help out there. Intern uni students or hire a freelance writer – you’re sure to find someone who enjoys writing, understands social media, and would love to get some experience. However, if you really want to be noticed, consider branching out into video content. Why? Because video is naturally engaging and easy to digest – it requires very little effort, your consumer simply has to sit and watch. The figures back me up:

  • 100 million Internet users watch videos online every day.
  • By 2017, video will account for 69% of all consumer internet traffic, according to Cisco.
  • YouTube receives more than one billion unique visitors every month.

If you’re hesitant to jump into the world of video content because you’re afraid of the price tag, relax – in recent years, things have become much more affordable, and more businesses are offering video creation than ever before. At Messages On Hold, we offer, a professionally written, recorded and produced industry-specific video newsletter you brand as your own.

social media for business

  1. Not Every Post Needs to be Earth-Shattering

Remember, it’s better to post one relevant video you created on your website/social media and have that running for three to six months than repost a video that isn’t yours every week. In the meantime however, remember to post updates, share your blog posts, and keep clients updated with products and news. It doesn’t have to be earth-shattering for you or your customers either, keeping it light hearted is just fine.

social media for business


If you’re struggling for ideas, Newsjacking can be a great source of content. Messages On Hold did this last year when a telephone sales rep from US company Comcast was recorded refusing to cancel a customer’s service. In the weeks following the recording going viral, Comcast’s share price dropped more than 5% – a dip many attributed to the negative publicity surrounding the recorded phone call. This happened to coincide with the launch of our online skills training, Phone Skills. We immediately put out a press release and wrote a few blogs on the subject, showing the terrible results of failing to train staff properly, highlighting the benefit of our product to our customers. But please be careful Newsjacking an issue held sacred by many may not give the results you’re looking for.

Good Example:

social media for business

Bad Example:

social media for business

Use Your Personal Experiences

You’ll be surprised at just how well your daily life can translate into content relatable to your business and audience. Our General Manager, Kirrily Davies did it in her recent blog post about leadership. By reflecting on her son’s junior football match on Mother’s Day, she was able to show the importance of every day leadership and how it can positively impact the people around you. Using your own experiences has the benefit of allowing you to write about what you know, and to develop a deeper emotional bond with you customers.

Every time you post ensure the content is relevant to you and helpful to your customers. If that means promoting your own products, even better! Also make sure you post and share your own content at least once a week. You adopted social media to promote your business – so do it!

– Steph

The Power of Social Media: Turning Disgruntled Customers Into Loyal Ones

A wise, rather scantily clad woman once said: “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.” While I’m sure Dita Von Teese was referring to her female counterparts, I think this quote can be applied to business, too.

No matter how good your products, how refined your processes, how well you’ve trained your staff, at some point along the line you’re going to end up with an unhappy customer. Back in the day we were told that news of bad customer service reached more than twice as many ears as praise for a good service experience. Thanks to social media however, that figure is now potentially thousands of times more ears.

So what does it mean for your business? Well, depending on you, it can either be very good or very bad.

The Bad

Hasan Syed, a Chicago-based business owner, took to twitter to complain of the poor service he received flying British airways.







Followed by…








Syed paid a cool $1000 to promote the tweet, and as a result was seen by an initial 76,000 users. It was then re-tweed in a smart move by Marty St. George, senior vice-president of marketing and commercial at JetBlue Airways; and picked up by dozens of news outlets world-wide.

British Airways could have used this tweet as an opportunity to not only win over a disgruntled customer, but to show off some amazing customer service skills. Instead, their reply was somewhat lacklustre, not to mention robotic.

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While the majority of people supported Syed’s move, finding it both a revelation and hilarious, others wondered if he might have got the same result if he went through the proper customer service channels. However, the page – a profile dedicated to posting the customer service screw ups of the airline – begs to differ.

So, what can we learn from British Airways’ social media faux pas?

1 – Do it right the first time. You can bet if Syed’s missing luggage was dealt with competently and compassionately in the beginning, he wouldn’t have felt the need to take to social media to voice his frustrations.

2 – If you’re on social media and you receive a complaint, your responses need to be fast and empathetic.

3 – Don’t ignore angry customers. Otherwise, you might just end up with a page devoted to your mistakes.

The Good

JetBlue, an American low-cost airline are renowned for being one of the most skilled companies on Twitter at handling consumer complaints. They average an unbelievable 10 minute response time for the 2,500-2,600 mentions they see daily, and as you can see – they do it well.

social media







social media








They reply to as many critical tweets as positive ones, and their human, compassionate and at times funny responses endear them to customers – a stark contrast to Hasan Syed’s experience. Take a leaf out of JetBlue’s book and instead of being offended, angry, upset, or worse apathetic when a customer has something negative to say, cherish it. Customer feedback is gold. They’re teaching you how to make your product, your service and your business better.

While this blog has focused on Twitter’s involvement, it shouldn’t just be the fear of backlash of social media that makes you want to excel in customer service. With loyal customers being worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase – it’s better for your bottom line too.

– Steph

Using Twitter for Business: Kardashian or Perish

Recently the Twitterverse exploded with the news that Kim Kardashian and Kanye West have graced the cover of American Vogue.

And the world kept spinning.

But the cover has divided but Vogue readers and interested by-standers alike. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Sarah Michelle Gellar) herself tweeted “I guess I’m cancelling my Vogue subscription. Who is with me???” Her overuse of question marks aside, she echoed the thoughts of many loyal readers who were disgusted that the noble tome did not hold up their high standards. But on closer inspection, this apparently risky move is in fact a very clever business decision.Using Twitter for Business

The Reason? Using Twitter for Business

There’s no point beating around the bush, the print medium is in trouble and magazines are in a stage of do or die. So is this stunt going to gain new readers, or just lose the loyal ones?

Let’s look at the facts. Kim Kardashian has 20.3 million Twitter followers. Kanye West has 10.3 million. And Vogue? Vogue has a measly 3.63 million followers. When Kardashian posted two photos from the fashion spread to Instagram they gained more than a million likes, each! You can’t beat that publicity.

That’s what it comes down to. Vogue, as well as being a fashion icon, is a business. A business that has to compete in a frankly crowded & shrinking marketplace and the publicity that comes from celebrities of this stature is invaluable. Vogue has embraced using Twitter for business as a part of their marketing strategy. And the fact that it’s causing debate outside the fashion community? Well that’s a serious bonus.

Vogue may be pandering, but they are also making a calculated business decision to keep from extinction. And if they lose a few loyal subscribers in the process, so be it.

– Emily

Put Your Ear To The Ground

Every morning after I boot up my computer and check my emails, I log onto Twitter to see who’s talking about our company. I do this because I want to be able to respond to potential leads and communicate with customers. In doing this daily ritual, I have found many companies are placing customers On Hold without a professional On Hold production… and the results speak for themselves – literally!

If you’re a business owner and currently place callers On Hold to listen to radio, chimes, or worse yet – silence, you’re in for a not-so-nice surprise. These potential customers are taking to Twitter in droves to complain about your service.

A little bird told me that chimes, radio & silence frustrate callers On Hold

A little bird told me that chimes, radio & silence frustrate callers On Hold

Here’s what some people are saying:

“ABBA, Bon Jovi, Queen, Blink 182, Michael Jackson, and a lot more ABBA. Just a taste of the Ikea hold music #onhold

“Someone really needs to do a remix of the Oregon courts hold music. Then again I think it may already *be* a remix. #onhold

“I dont think I can listen to Beethoven for another 9 minutes! #OnHold

You can bet for every one person voicing their frustration on Twitter, there are another 10 voicing it to their friends and family. That’s word of mouth advertising your business could do without!

Surprisingly, 80% of callers placed On Hold with silence hang up within the first minute. This is why having a professionally written & produced On Hold production is so important. On Hold messages have been proven to keep holding callers happier for longer and it’s easy to see why. If you’re actively engaging callers with relevant information, their mind isn’t on waiting – it’s focused on what you’re telling them!

So, how do you remedy people taking to the internet to complain about their phone experience? You can’t simply stop placing callers On Hold, but you can replace the chimes, music or silence with a professionally written production.

– Lachy

It’s Always Personal, It’s Business

“It’s nothing personal, it’s just business” is a phrase that, unbelievably, still lingers in some modern business owners’ lexicon. The reach of social media, the rapid rate at which consumers can communicate and the speed with which they can congratulate or condemn means that whether you’re in customer service or marketing: business is always personal.

When customers use social media to query or complain, the business is presented with a unique opportunity: to personally engage with this one customer. Studies into complaints made over social media indicate that 50% of customers give a brand only one week to respond to a complaint before they stop doing business with them. The same study indicated that 89% of customers began business with another company after a poor experience. Can you afford to stay silent?

The most common words on a major airline’s Facebook newsfeed.

The most common words on a major airline’s Facebook newsfeed.

It would be unreasonable for a business to completely change their terms of service on the whim of one customer… but prompt acknowledgement and resolution of a complaint online can help a customer to not only forgive the grievance, but flip their view of the company from negative to positive, thereby strengthening brand loyalty.

Another study indicated that after having two-way interaction with a brand over social media, 90% of customers would recommend the brand to others. In developing an emotional connection, a sense of loyalty, between customer and brand, social media is an invaluable and incredibly effective approach.

Still not sure just how “personal” it can be? In 2008, United Airlines were shown just how effective social media can be as a weapon when it was used against them with humiliating and ruthless efficiency. After irreparably damaging musician Dave Carrol’s guitar during a flight, and refusing to reimburse him despite 9 months of negotiations, Dave released a song on YouTube which blasted their business and customer service. The song went viral, and four days after its release, United’s stock had dropped by 10% – an estimated $180 million.

As more consumers choose social media as the means to communicate with the brands they use, the age old adage “it’s nothing personal, just business” should recede from all minds serious about strengthening brand loyalty, and increasing their customer base.

– Kyle

One Giant Tweet For Mankind

Full disclosure, I’m a massive Twitter fan. Twitter lets me say what I want to say, when I want to say it, to who I want to say it to and lets me feel like someone is listening. I’ve had problems as simple as ‘what to have for dinner’ answered, I’ve interacted with famous people I admire and will never meet and I’ve connected with people I have never met in a meaningful way, all within 140 characters.

One of the most powerful examples of the influence Twitter can have is that of Barack Obama’s political team and their use of the social media. Having successfully experimented with social media in the 2008 presidential election, Barack Obama began personally contributing to the @BarackObama account signing personally written tweets with BO. You, the follower, can now read direct communication from the President of the United States! At last check, the account had a cool 30 million followers and in December of 2012 Obama made history by tweeting a photo of him and his wife embracing along with the text “Four More Years”…. which was re-tweeted 769,000 times in 22 minutes. Just the sheer number of people he was able to reach, with nothing more than a Smartphone, is astonishing. In no other format can such a simple, unchanged message reach so many people with so little effort.

Four More Years...

Four More Years…

Specific brands have caught on to the Twitter juggernaut as well and used it to fantastic effect. Not with never-once-clicked-on, spend-your-money-somewhere-else ‘sponsored’ tweets, but with real-life, personal and communicative tweets. While there’s always the risk of consumers taking to Twitter to vent horror stories, there’s also the option for consumers to take to Twitter to share positive experiences with a brand or company.  Not to mention the great customer service you can display when you get back to your consumers with their Twitter feedback with a timely and helpful response. Remember that old saying where one person has a good experience and they tell two friends? Well now they’re not just telling two friends, they’re tweeting to thousands of followers all across the world.

Companies and brands like Kodak, Starbucks, NASA and WWE use their Twitter pages to great effect. They ask their millions of followers questions, they find out why their customers choose their brand and best of all they have fun with their customers.

It’s all well and good relishing what there is to gain from Twitter, but like any good footballer will tell you, it’s important to know your weaknesses as well as your strengths. Errant tweets can not only impact your business but the flow on effect from re-tweets are only just being discovered. On Tuesday 23 April hackers took over the Associated Press Twitter account. They used the account to tweet there had been explosions at the White House and President Obama was hurt. In the few minutes the tweet was available before it was deleted and the account taken offline it was re-tweeted 3000 times. Although the news was confirmed as untrue it was online long enough to send a shudder through the stock market which plunged 143 points before it recovered.

Even tweets from companies themselves have the capacity to be major PR blunders. Just looking at some of the top corporate disasters of 2012 makes it blatantly clear that each tweet needs to be thought about both in the context of the business it comes from, but as part of the greater Twittersphere as well. A misplaced or mistimed hashtag can have a massive impact on a brand’s image and even one re-tweet of a terrible tweet is one you’re not going to get back.

But let’s not dwell on the risks – we love taking risks! Be aware of them, but embrace them and use them to your advantage as well. Messages On Hold has just dived into the world of Twitter as well and we’d love for you to follow us as we explore just how  much we can achieve… in 140 characters or less.

– Sophie

An Experiment In Social Media

When I tell people I work at Messages On Hold every now and again I’m met with a blank stare. That’s until I ask them ‘Have you seen those big yellow hands behind the goals at Eagles home games?’ Once I let loose that little gem, people immediately know who I’m talking about. Trevor and his comrades have become synonymous with West Coast home games for waving our big yellow hands, so I thought it would be fun to take our Facebook friends behind the scenes of the Messages On Hold team at Patersons Stadium with an experiment in social media.

The Aim: To live update sights, sounds and insights from the Eagles home game.TrevSmall

Now I’m a big social media freak – if there’s sport/politics/anything on the TV and there’s a hashtag, you better believe I’m going to join the conversation. I love blogging about events and places I experience around Perth and I get a weird thrill out of getting as many ‘stats’ as I can with my own personal uploads to Facebook. So you can imagine my excitement at the idea of sharing the fun of an Eagles home game on social media when the opportunity presented itself.

Doing my pre-game research I wondered a fair bit as to why no sports clubs actually updated their Facebook pages during matches. West Coast Eagles, along with most other AFL clubs, is fairly prolific in its tweeting during matches but it had started to bother me why they never updated their Facebook mid-game. Well my foray into Facebook updates during sports games gave me a stern and no buts about it answer – there’s no reception in big stadiums when there’s heaps of people in them!

The Twitter platform is highly suited to covering sports games because you don’t have to rely on mobile data. Clubs can tweet from a PC or laptop and it’s instantaneous because they don’t have to rely on mobile data – which is slow and often times drops out completely. When you’re updating Facebook with pictures or video, it’s time consuming over a mobile network. Something I learnt quick-smart on Sunday.

Up until about 15 minutes until kick-off I wasn’t having any issues with my network connection (thanks Vodafone). Once the stadium had filled-up though, there was no hope. I did a double-lap of Patersons Stadium to try and find somewhere to upload something… anything… but I had no success. I even tried going up to the highest stand right next to the phone tower. Still nothing! It seems too many people one spot causes data over mobiles to slow down so significantly logging on to Facebook becomes nigh on impossible, let alone uploading a video.

Sunday’s game certainly gave me a lot to think about. Social media at sports events is a great way to share experiences, especially for a company like ours who is an official sponsor of the club. How am I going to solve this problem next time? Well I’ll try and take a different phone and I’ll probably take along a WiFi hotspot just to make sure I can stay connected to the network. Either way I’m pretty determined to keep trying because sport is an undeniably effective way to get people active with social media and our involvement with West Coast is an opportunity too great to miss.

If you’d like to keep up to date with my progress, jump over to our Facebook page and hit that like button. Remember to add our page to your interest list to ensure you’re across our latest posts.

– Sophie

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