Friday, October 30, 2009

QUICK TIP: Always give an F.U.

Generally speaking, a good F.U. is a smart move. Sometimes, you might even do it twice.

Every single one of us is busy, especially those of us in sales. But what about the people that we call on? They are even busier and that's why a F.U. (follow up) is crucial to closing deals.

Have you ever heard of a "one call close"? You know, you call on a potential client and they agree to a deal the first time you talk. These are incredibly rare. No one closes a substantial deal without establishing trust and this requires more than one interaction. The problem is, no matter how sweet the deal you offer them, you will be forgotten about 10 minutes after you walk out the door. Don't expect a call back - ever. It's nothing personal. Just the way things work.

This is why you must get aggressive. The second you walk out of your meeting or hang up the phone, schedule your first follow up. Put it in your calendar and then move on to your next sales call. But make sure you follow up.

Then, after your first follow up (call, appointment, email, etc.) schedule your next one.

Keith Rosen wrote an interesting article on the follow up. His point is don't just say "Hi, we spoke before. What's up?" He states have a purpose. And while I don't recommend making it as cheesy and scripted as some of the examples, the point is good. I suggest using the follow up to create some urgency.

Here's my strategy. The first phone call or meeting is just me qualifying the person, making sure I'm not wasting my time. But assuming that there is potential, my first follow up will be about 3 days later with a phone call (this doesn't count the summary email I send immediately following our meeting). At that point I'm trying to answer questions that have come up, addressing any questions they have and trying to get a date to close any deal we might be working on (this includes securing an event, contracting a website or whatever). This simple process continues until one of the following: we close the deal, they tell me no (which is the next best answer to yes) or I decide that this deal will not happen. Regardless of the outcome, it all happens by giving a sincere F.U.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The power of endorsements

Last weekend, I randomly stopped by a cell phone store to pick up a charger for my wife. And in a show of excellent customer service, the guy that helped me went the extra mile to get me what I needed with the support to back it up. So the next day, I posted my experience on Facebook, in case any of my friends were interested. The next thing I know, a buddy of mine that saw the post went to this store and bought two new phones and service plan for himself and his wife. Before he saw the post, he didn't even know the store was there.

That's the power of an endorsement. Obviously, I'm not famous. But he trusted me and that was enough to at least consider the option.

We see endorsements all the time, but do they actually work? Consider the following two examples.

On Thursday,  October 15, I was listening to Colin Cowherd on ESPN Radio. His show, The Herd, is a nationally syndicated sports talk show and Cowherd is a humorous host that comes across as genuine. Presumably on a whim (though I guess we never really know what is on the script) he found a YouTube video of a jumbo jet that nearly decapitates a bunch of people on its landing. The video, originally posted April 12, 2008, had amassed 236,040 views and 357 comments prior to October 15, according to YouTube stats. Cowherd talked about the video on his show for about three minutes, offered some search terms and posted a link on the show's website. In less than 24 hours the number of views went up 18.3% (to 279,440) and the comments increased by 20.7%, most of which thanked Colin for pointing out the video or simply promoted his show. The number of views has now passed 307,500, a 30% increase.

Another example: I was listening to Jim Rome on his sports talk show. Rome is an edgy host and has gained his loyal followers by being a bit more controversial. But he is also considered genuine. Rome mentioned one of his listeners had a Twitter account with only 12 followers. At his urging he drove the number of followers to over 260. While a 248 person increase may not seem like a lot, consider that it could only affect those listeners that happened to hear what was said in those specific 5 seconds AND had a Twitter account AND were sitting at a computer during those 5 seconds. Not bad.

Strong endorsements come from people that have built up trust. Powerful endorsements combine that trust with some form of celebrity. And while the endorsement may not actually cause an action, it will at least put whatever is being sold into the consideration set.

If you are thinking about using someone to endorse your product or service, consider the following: are the endorser's fans/listeners/friends in the same market that you are seeking? What is the endorser's reach? And, most importantly, how much is it going to cost you?

In the case of the cell phone store, it took me very little time to post it on Facebook. In the case of Cowherd and Rome, it cost them a few seconds of their air time. All parties delivered on their promises and even built their trust. And the people that benefited got what they expected and will probably continue to listen.

By the way, the cell phone store was the Verizon dealer, located at 520 S. Meridian Rd., Suite 100, Meridian, ID. Thanks Brian!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sports social networking next phase in communication

At this point the words Twitter, Facebook and Linked In have become commonplace in our world. If you don't have an account with one of them, you probably know someone that does. But how are these tools being integrated into sports? And, are they achieving any success?

Social networking is another way of starting conversations. In the case of sports, these conversations revolve around fans and participants to make their experiences better, create awareness and ultimately drive sales.

With the majors (NBA, MLB, NFL and NHL), starting conversations is fairly simple given their large and strong fan bases. (Here is an article from USA Today about NBA players and Twitter and another one from Yahoo and Ball Don't Lie) But for minor league teams, starting these types of conversations can be more difficult. And, unlike their major league counterparts, they likely don't have the same amount of resources to establish conversations.

The advantages of using these tools are clear. First, it is cheap. Basic services are free and easy to set up. Second, the work can be done from anywhere and anytime as long as you have internet or a mobile application. Of course, with any tool, the rewards only come when there is a clear strategy and a commitment to use it.

Minor League Usage
We spoke with a few minor league teams to see how they are utilizing the social networking tools. The Idaho Steelheads (hockey), Idaho Stampede (basketball) and Boise Hawks (Baseball) are all using social networking in different ways.

For the Steelheads, the social networking responsibilities appear to be split between marketing and public relations, providing a mix of team news and fan interaction. Their passionate fan base seems to be utilizing the hockey team's offerings based on the number of interactions they receive.

The Stampede are just getting into this realm. Their goals are to create more awareness and generate fan interactions. In the future, they also indicated that they will explore targeted promotions and experiment with how these tools can expand their in game production.

Probably the most promising usage is from the Boise Hawks. They definitely have the most well defined social networking strategy and their goals are ambitious. While they use their full time staff to blog, tweet and post to Facebook they also utilize their intern's channels to push out their messages. The next step for the Hawks is exploring Linked In and the potential benefits of that platform. The baseball club is also looking toward the future. They see a demise of more standard current channels and are working to establish themselves as their own media outlet.

All of the teams agreed that MySpace is no longer a social networking channel that they will continue to pursue.

Evaluating results
At this point, there is little agreement about the best way to evaluate social networking success in sports. Without a direct tie to profit teams will need to look at the indirect ties such as content sharing, re-tweets, interactions and increased web traffic. These all give an indication of the depth that fans are digesting the information.

Some of the tangibles like number of followers, fans, and subscribers are helpful to analyze the reach of awareness but fail to measure the depth of the reach.

In the end, it appears that these new tools are just that - tools. Like any tool, your success depends on how well you use it. But there are lots of tools in the bag and right now it is hard to tell which one is the best tool to use.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Where does this rank in email promotion?

I had to share this email. I have my thoughts on it but wanted to put it out there and get your take on it. Is it powerful? Does it motivate? Is it from a bully?

BACKGROUND: I signed up for a webinar on Social Media about a week ago. The webinar was yesterday. At about 6:30 PM Mountain Time two days prior to the webinar (Monday night), I got the following email:



I'll cut straight to the chase - in order to attend the "What To Do When You're Overwhelmed with Social Media" webinar hosted by myself and Jon Morrow (from you must register at this link:
[website I've taken out]

We currently have just over 900 on this list and only 1,000 spots on gotowebinar so definitely sign up now and sign in to the webinar at least 10 minutes early to guarantee your spot.

Again here are the details:


"What To Do When You're Overwhelmed with Social Media"

Date: Wednesday, October 7th (aka this Wednesday!)
Time: 1pm pacific / 4pm eastern
Registration Link: [website I've taken out]


There WILL be a recording made available afterward but if you're interested in Jon's special offer (I bet you can guess what it is by reading here) you'll want to do whatever you can to be there live.

I'm finalizing what I want to share with you right now and I promise you the content is going to be KILLER - and different from all the party lines you've been fed about social media.

I'll see you on Wednesday!

- Laura

Follow me on twitter at [website I've taken out]

P.S. If you want to get on my main list to keep up with everything I'm doing and receive a social media marketing how-to every week sign up at [website I've taken out]


So what do you think? Over the top? Hits the mark? Please share your comments.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Give 'em something or take something away

In event planning, especially for new or young events, a huge challenge is getting players, participants, spectators and sponsors to commit to the event early. Assuming you have a good reason to get them in early (such as the event will be canceled if you don't get people in by a certain date) the challenge is to create a sense of urgency.

People are funny in that they want everything now but want to pay for it later. In this case, your challenge is to give them a reason to get out of their comfort zone. Revenue or Yield Management sort of addresses this challenge but I summarize it by something one of my boss's once told me. "You either give them something now, or take something away from them tomorrow."

This is the concept used in early registration discounts, evening rates at golf courses and season ticket packages. Your goal is to maximize your revenue selling the same thing.

But this also applies to creating urgency. "Buy your family ticket package today and get a free hamburger." "Call in the next 10 minutes and get a free locker room tour." "Don't wait too long or we may run out of Thunder Sticks!" All create urgency by either giving them something or taking something away.