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Tom Smith

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What's Your Story?

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, Mar, 28, 2018 @ 09:03 AM

What's your story?

 

Whether you’re a B2B, B2C, or not-for-profit organization, you need a story to help people remember where you came from, what you stand for, and your commitment to providing an outstanding customer experience.

 

People remember stories better than they remember features and benefits, numbers, or product facts.

 

Stories are a great way to add emotion to your brand. Emotion is important since more than 90 percent of the decisions we make have an emotional component to them. Organizations need to consider the feelings they want to evoke in their target personas when developing their brand story.

 

I worked for the largest professional services firm in a large vertical industry. I researched the history of the organization and came up with a powerful two-minute story that would help clients and prospects understand everything the company offered and why.

 

None of the employees wanted to use the company story because they were focused on selling only their particular services. This company suffered through the recession when it could have had a much larger portfolio of business from clients and prospects who understood everything they had to offer and how those other parts of the business could help their company through the recession.

 

I also did work for the largest health insurer in my home state. We created a series of emotionally-driven testimonials that drove down negative perceptions by 39%, increased positive perceptions by 18%, and doubled inbound leads.

 

Stories can be retold by customers and prospects across any media channel. In fact, stories from customers (i.e. testimonials) are more powerful than those told by the company and create a greater emotional connection to the brand.

 

How do you create your brand story? Ask senior members of the organization:

 

  • How did the company get started?

 

  • How has it evolved as the market has evolved?

 

  • How has your brand story evolved with your company?

 

  • What is the company most proud of?

 

  • What’s the most extraordinary customer experience the company has provided?

 

Stories are powerful tools for empowering and engaging employees. Consistency builds trust. Inconsistency builds confusion and distrust. Your employees need a compelling story to tell when someone asks who they work for and your employees need to tell the same story regardless of if they’re in sales, finance, or production.

 

Ideally your brand story will communicate the vision, mission, values, and strategic positioning of your company exemplifying what makes you “different and better” in a consistent and compelling way.

 

So, what’s your story?

 

Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues

Tags: emotional connection to the brand, trust, connecting emotionally with customers, vision, mission, values, strategic positioning, brand platform

Online Video Is Growing Quickly, as Is Monetization

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Mar, 23, 2018 @ 08:03 AM

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I enjoyed speaking with P.J. Taei, Founder and CEO of Uscreen, about how they are helping clients monetize their powerful, inspirational, and entertaining videos.

 

As a life-long marketer, I know the power of video to tell stories and create an emotional connection with the viewer.

 

How does Uscreen help its customers sell their videos online? 

 

We provide customers an all-in-one video and monetization platform so they simply upload their videos, set the price, and keep every penny they make. Customers bring us their videos we do the rest!

What are the most important elements to producing a compelling video? 

 

Create an engaging video that provides information of value to the viewer. Identify the problem you can solve for the viewer, how you can make their lives simpler and easier, or entertain them. Be authentic to earn the viewer’s trust. Talk to people as if you were in the same room with them.

 

What video format do you recommend using to provide the best user experience (UX)? 

 

MP4. MPEG-4 Part 14 or MP4 is a digital multimedia container format most commonly used to store video and audio, but it can also be used to store other data such as subtitles and still images. Like most modern container formats, it allows streaming over the Internet. The only official filename extension for MPEG-4 Part 14 files is.mp4. MPEG-4 Part 14 is a standard specified as a part of MPEG-4.

 

 

How has the production and sale of video online changed in the past year or so? 

 

Video production has improved, shooting from smart phones has become even more popular and easier to use and edit.

 

How do you ensure the security of the video once it's posted? 

 

We use security protocols to secure the videos.

 

What are some real-world problems (use cases) you are helping your client solve by selling videos online? 

 

Eliminating the need for multiple systems to do what Uscreen does in an all in one platform.

 

We have more than 1,000 clients, 80% of which are selling video subscriptions for fitness and health, arts and creative, entertainment, training and education, and much more.

 

What are the most common issues you see in the production and sale of online videos? 

 

Customers think they do not have enough content for a subscription but they actually do. As long as you are providing information of value, end users are much less concerned with production values – they want to know the information that’s going to help them learn or solve a problem delivered seamlessly.

 

Do you have any concern over the current state of online videos? 

 

No, its progressing well and customers are adopting it quickly. With the proliferation of media devices and bandwidth, demand for video will continue to grow for the foreseeable futue.

 

What's the future of online video from your perspective? 

 

A lot more monetization, at first videos were free on YouTube, but now customers are willing to pay for anything that makes their lives simpler and easier, and adds value in any way.

 

What have I failed to ask that you think our readers need to know about selling videos online? 

 

With more than 1,000 customers, we are seeing a huge growth in online video monetization, our average customer nets more than $3,000 per month selling videos using our platform.

 

Tags: marketing technology

Energy Management Services in the Age of IoT

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Feb, 23, 2018 @ 08:02 AM

 

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There’s been a lot of news about using IoT devices to reduce costs; however, uptake has been slow due to the expense of implementation and the dearth of data scientists and analysts. There are 14 states, primarily in the Northeast and Atlantic Coast, including Washington D.C. with deregulated electric markets.

 

Energy management has been around as long as deregulation. Small, medium, and large enterprises can benefit from the economies of scale that can be gained by buying energy in bulk across multiple states.

 

If you are buying energy for your business in a deregulated market, an energy management consultant can help you reduce your spend by 20 to 40%. The consultant will begin by obtaining your utility bill and analyzing how to improve the price you are paying. This includes evaluating market conditions, discovering risk tolerance, and determining your real business needs.

 

When energy markets begin trading, your consultant will arrange a competitive auction to determine the most competitive price, the best supplier, and the optimal terms which will result in the best energy solution for your organization.

 

Having worked with hundreds to thousands of clients, energy consultants are able to identify efficiencies that those not dedicated to energy management are aware. You remain active in the energy market determining the best times to buy for the optimal efficiency and cost savings. All of this is tracked versus your budget with ongoing reports of budget versus actual.

 

Taylor Consulting and Contracting have been providing energy management services with impressive results:

  • A collection of Dunkin’ Donut franchises in six states have saved 15 to 20% annually for six years over what they were able to buy electricity for individually.
  • More than 4,000 Boston SMEs have joined Boston Buying Power (BBP) and enjoyed 50% savings during the 2014 polar vortex, and more than 100% versus the market-based price of electricity.
  • Independence Blue Cross of Pennsylvania has saved 50% on their electricity over the past five years since Pennsylvania deregulated electricity.

 

Technology, and data, is enabling companies of all sizes to reduce their energy spend. You don’t have to wait to employ IoT to enjoy the savings.

 

Tags: CX

VIZIO's M50 Home Theater Display is Quite Impressive

Posted by Tom Smith on Sun, Dec, 10, 2017 @ 18:12 PM

 

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Thanks to VIZIO for letting me preview their new M50 home theater display.

Consistent with how technology is changing daily to make users’ lives simpler and easier, the Visio M50 is an incredible upgrade over our three-year-old VIZIO:

  • There is no “warm-up time.” When the TV is turned on, the picture appears immediately.
  • The picture quality and color fidelity at an angle is remarkable.
  • The TV synchronizes to our cable box (ATT U-Verse) faster than any TV we’ve ever had.
  • “Smart TV” features are more intuitive and easier to use. We’ll see if I can finally convince my wife to “cut the cord.”

More technical highlights of the 2017 M-Series include: 

  • SmartCast: VIZIO’s connected ecosystem, powered by Google's "ChromeCast built-in". It’s like having a Chromecast Ultra built in to the display. As a result, the display’s “SmartTV” interface is primarily centered on your phone or tablet, where you can have access to thousands of apps (that are always up to date), and does not require that you access a separate on-screen interface to cycle through content. Pull up the apps you use now, simply swipe to find the content you want, and press the Cast button to send it to the screen. 
    • VIZIO’s SmartCast Mobile app helps aggregate content in one place to make searches on your phone or tablet even easier. Smartcast Mobile will even let you change display picture settings.
    • New for 2017, VIZIO has added a new on-screen "SmartCast TV” interface that allows you to use the new IR remote to launch top apps directly from the screen (including Amazon!). The remote even has hot keys for access to the top apps (Amazon, Netflix, Vudu, et.al.) 
  • An Ultra Color Gamut (aka Wide Color Gamut) panel, increases the color gamut for HDR content that reaches 96% of the P3 standard. P3 is the standard for Digital Cinema and is the current standard for HDR content.
  • Significantly increased peak brightness, a key component in HDR, as measured with an industry standard 10% window, which emulates peak highlights in an HDR signal.
  • Compatible with both HDR10 and Dolby Vision HDR content! No need to worry about format wars. Enjoy both.
  • Full array local dimming with 32 individual LED zones means the backlight can dim for very small dark portions of the image, improving black levels, while increasing for bright portions at the same time, increasing overall contrast significantly over edge-lit displays.  

The price on the M50 is currently only $499, which seems very reasonable to me based on what I see for inferior displays at BestBuy and Costco. I know that VIZIO is offering even better prices during the holidays.

The TV was easy to unpack and set-up. I had to call AT&T U-verse to connect to our cable box. When they heard we had the new TV, they immediately wanted to send a service tech to see the TV so they would be able to help their other customers that will buying this TV for the holidays.

Just ensure you place it where you’ll be looking at it because the picture is much better when you are looking directly at the TV versus being off to the side.

My wife is very impressed with the quality, depth, and richness of the picture of the movies and TV shows she watches. SmartCast is easy to access and the picture quality of HDR movies and shows is remarkable. I enjoy watching football and look forward to watching basketball. VIZIO is giving the fan another reason to watch the game from home rather than going to the event since ticket prices keep going up while TV prices are coming down.

I highly recommend the VIZIO the M50 home theater display.

What kind of Customer Experience are you providing?

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Nov, 10, 2016 @ 08:11 AM

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According to Gartner, 64% of people say customer experience (#CX) is more important than price in their choice of a brand.

According to American Express customers are willing to pay 17% more for a good customer experience.

Forrester found that 80% of companies say they deliver superior customer service. However, only 8% of people think these same companies deliver customer service worthy of a superior rating.

What kind of customer experience are you providing? Have you asked your customers? Have you asked your employees? Engaged customer-facing employees have a better idea of the customer experience than non-customer facing employees. Disengaged employees don't care.

How do your customers define an acceptable, unacceptable, and outstanding customer experience? Ask them. That's the only way you'll ever know. 

Talk to your customers to let them know you care about what they think. They'll be amazed that you care about them as individuals.

Recognize employees who provide an outstanding customer experience so other employees will know what you value - beyond revenue.

If you address a customer's concern, they're more likely to stay with you than a customer who never complains.

Save a customer time, make their life easier and you'll earn a customer for life - and probably reduce your marketing budget.

 

Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues

 

Tags: CX

Are You Easy To Do Business With?

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, Jul, 13, 2016 @ 09:07 AM

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Have you asked your customers this question?

First, what do you think they'll say?

Now, ask them. You'll be surprised what you learn.

Customers are looking for products and services to make their lives simpler, easier, and save them time.

Show the consumer that you understand their needs, put them first and you'll have a customer for life. Do not assume all customers want the same thing. Have a 360-degree view of the customer for all your employees so everyone in your company can let your customers know you're concerned with their needs and wants and committed to providing them with a great customer experience.

Providng a great customer experience and earning customers for life needs to be a core value. If it's not you'll just be driven by this month's sales goals. If you put your customers first, sales will take care of themselves and the time and money you spend on marketing will go down because your customers will do your marketing for you by becoming advocates and sharing with their friends and colleagues how easy you make it for them.

Please be clear when I say "provide a great customer experience" that this isn't that hard. It's meeting customers' basic expectations. It's easy because so few companies are doing it. Ultimately this will be how your company can differentiate itself from the competition. However, it does require a change in attitude and focus.

Remove the distractions (a.k.a. "friction") for your employees and customers. Employees want to make customers happy. Happy employees make happy customers. Engaged and empowered employees have passion, pride, and confidence in their ability to provide a great customer experience and customers call tell it.

Think about the companies you go to on a regular basis that make it easy for you to do business with them. They've likely earned your loyalty, gratitude, and repeat business.

What can you and your employees do to make it easier for your customers to do business with you? Ask them.

Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues 

Tags: customers for life, customer satisfaction, customer engagement

Integrated Marketing Is More Important Than Ever

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Jul, 11, 2016 @ 08:07 AM

 

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When I started in marketing and advertising years ago, I learned the importance of integrated marketing - ensure there's consistency of message across TV, radio, print, direct mail and out-of-home. Today, integration is more important than ever given the addition of web, social, email, mobile, and SEO/SEM.

Consistency builds trust. Inconsistency builds confusion and distrust.

Given the number of channels across which our messaging is disseminated, it's easy for marketing communications campaigns to fail.

  1. Message are fragmented, or incongruent, across media channels.
  2. There's little to no strategic planning, let alone messaging planning.
  3. The campaign process is slow, or non-existent, and uncoordinated.
  4. Companies are unprepared to share information across the organization (i.e. silos) and the information is frequently inconsistent.
  5. There's a lack of transparency and cross-channel communication.
  6. There's no on-going dialog across the organization, sharing insights, how the customer interacted with tthe communications, what worked and what didn't.

Integrated marketing today menas collecting all customer information from all channels and integrating it to provide a 360-degree view of the customer so you can meet their needs and wants without asking them to tell you what they've already told someone else in your company.

Incorporating all online and offline data provides you the opportunity to personalize your communications with customers and ensuring you are providing information of value that's relevant to them and where they arein the buying cycle. You can answer the customer's question before they ask it. You will save them time and become easier to do business with, thereby earning their trust.

More knowledge, greater segmentation, more consistent and relevant will lead to more conversions in shorter sales cycles.

In addition, tracking the customer experience (CX) after the sale, across multiple touch points, enables your to build an ongoing relationship with the customer and gives you a better opportunity to create a "customer for life" rather than a single sales event.

Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues

Tags: customers for life, customer experience, consistent messaging, integrated marketing

A Great CRM Is Critical For A Great Customer Experience

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, Jul, 06, 2016 @ 09:07 AM

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Moving forward I believe successful companies will positively differentiate themselves versus the competition by providing an outstanding customer experience. Zappos started the trend online and Amazon was smart enough to acquire them and learn from them. Ritz Carlton continues to lead the way in the brick and mortar world.

The key to providing a great customer experience is by giving everyone in your company a 360-degree view of the customer - their wants, their needs, what they've bought from you in the past, what they've returned, what questions they've asked, what issues they've had.

In order to provide this holistic view of the customer, you need a customer relationship management (CRM) database that captures this information and lets your employees access it in real-time. 

The benefits are myriad:

  1. It's a great central repository for all of your customer data that all of your employees can access and update across all devices.
  2. All team members can see what actions have taken place with a particular customer in the past and know what actions need to take place in the future based on your sales process and customer relationship management process.
  3. All team members can see all of the interactions with the clients enabling them to provide more relevant help thereby making the customers' lives simpler and easier.
  4. Your CRM can be integrated with calendars and marketing automation software for appropriate follow-up after the sale or lead nurturing marketing qualified leads to sales qualified leads.
  5. The CRM provides real-time metrics so you can see where prospects and customers are in the sales, post-sales follow-up, or problem/resolution cycle.
  6. You can scale your business in an organized way. In order to do so, everyone needs to be encouraged to keep the data clean and up to date.

Having worked with a number of companies over the course of my career, it's interesting to see the lack of emphasis put on the CRM, its adoption and use, and the cleanliness of the data, given that it is a keystone to providing an outstanding customer experience.

Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues

Tags: outstanding customer experience, customer experience, CRM, customer relationship management

Recent Guest Post for inbound281.com

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, Jun, 22, 2016 @ 15:06 PM

https://web.inbound281.com/blog/expert-interview-series-tom-smith-of-insights-from-analytics

Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues

Tags: insights from analytics accelerate sales, consumer insights, marketing automation

5 Questions to Ask to Begin Mapping the Buyer's Journey

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, May, 18, 2016 @ 10:05 AM

 

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A lot has been written lately about the need to map the buyer's journey. I concur with the importance of doing so; however, I think this needs to be done by talking to customers rather than gathering sales and marketing team members to "hypothesize" about the buyer's journey.

I recommend you begin the process by talking customers.

Here are five questions to get you started:

  1. What first led you to consider our brand?
  2. What problem were you trying to solve?
  3. Who was involved in the decision to consider it?
  4. What other solutions or brands were considered in your evaluation?
  5. What made you decide to start looking for a solution to this particular problem?

 Answers to these questions will lead to follow-up questions. This conversation will result in greater insights and a more accurate buyer's journey than trying to handle the creation process without customer insights.

If your customers are interested in the success of your company, they'll happily provide their insights. If not, you have a bigger issue.

Let me know if you need help with the process.

 

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Tags: buyer's journey, mapping the buyer's hourney