While we all know Southwest as the no frills, low cost airline, I am starting to see them as an airline that delights in being different. This is evidenced by the employees but most evidently via the safety talk mandatory on each flight.
The Five Minute Experience
You know what I’m talking about. By the fifth or sixth time you tune out “the exit rows are located … blah blah blah.” What southwest does is turn these four to five minutes to create a memorable experience. Whether through ad lib jokes and one-liners to the rapping intro, each are designed to communicate a clear message about southwest – we’re different than the other guys.
I learned from my flight attendant that these are not scripted (though there is a song book). They are a collection of jokes and topical items that each flight provides.
So in five minutes, Southwest took a normally “dead” time to entertain a captive audience, create an experience completely unique to this airline (others would be seen as copy cats) while delivering important safety information.
Isn’t that what we all try to do with our marketing efforts? What can you do with five minutes?
As I mentioned in my post about tips for your youtube video, I am experimenting more with the power of video. When possible, I will interview interesting individuals and their marketing (this includes social media and public relations) campaigns. My inaugural video is with Jeff Stai, Owner of the Twisted Oak Winery. He is known as @eljefetwisted on Twitter and El Jefe on the El Bloggo Torcido (Twisted Oak blog).
Jeff is a very personable guy and I think this personality is the key to his winery’s success. He has developed a loyal following of wine lovers (I’m a new fan) through social media. To me, the net net of Jeff’s success is that social media allowed him to connect with his fans and create a community that is engaged with the winery.
Isn’t that what ALL of us are trying to do with marketing?
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been experimenting more with video. It’s visual and can communicate a lot in a short span of time. I want to share three tips that I’ve learned over the past few weeks for your http://www.YouTube.com/ videos.
The Quality Vs. Content Dilemma
There are two camps on the quality of the video versus the content. Some insist that the video be high-production quality while others (like me) believe that slighter lower quality with good content is fine. I prefer the latter because I’ve seen videos held up because of delays with production. By the time the video is “production quality,” you may have missed an opportunity to lead with quality content.
I argue that as long as you have quality content, your viewers are willing to sacrifice a little quality.
When doing a video, the spokesperson is just as important as the content. You may have the best content but if the person is unable to deliver it convincingly and in an engaging way, people may stop the video and go elsewhere.
Distributing the Video
The last part is how to distribute your video. I’ve personally defaulted to YouTube and I believe that YouTube is becoming a place for business videos too. For those who may not want to watch the video, consider writing an accompanying post that summarizes the key points. Instead of a social media press release, I recommend issuing a press release that points to a page that has the video on your website alongside with other relevant content.
Since starting my new job, I haven’t had much time to devote to my blog. To me, video may be a way for me to capture my thoughts and introduce you to folks in the industry as well. Let’s see how this works. What do you think? Do you like the videos or prefer my written posts?
Side Note – Flip mini HD
So I just bought the Flip mini HD to post higher quality video while not breaking the bank. I like the little camera, but I thought I had uploaded a HD quality video. Because the Flip software doesn’t have many editing options,I imported the video to the Windows Movie Maker program that came with my computer. The video played well on my computer but I lost something as it was uploaded. I think I may take a page from my friend John Welsh, who just records and posts the whole video without any editing.
Per a press release by Sirius Decisions, the research finds that best-in-class companies are “…rejecting a ‘defensive posture’ by still working to close deals or at least lay groundwork for future business despite buyer anxiety and retrenchment,” notes Alden Cushman, SiriusDecisions’ research director and benchmarking analyst.”
The goal is to position the company for when the economic upswing happens. Key points in the release included.
- 44 percent to reduce marketing spend for 2009
- 25 percent will report flat spending
- Spending on advertising will decline by 17 percent and events down by 12 percent
- Focus is moving from lead generation to lead maturation
Next steps for your marketing efforts
What does this mean for you?
* Be very clear about who your target audience is and what influences this audience to make a purchase decision which means
* Refine your definition of a “sales-ready” lead by communicating with your sales team
* Create an aggressive lead nurturing program to move prospects through the funnel to deliver “sales-ready” leads to your salesforce
* Take this opportunity to leapfrog your competition by investing in areas that will increase your company’s awareness and value proposition to your key audiences
What other recommendations would you make?
I received this question from Nathalie Seoteman after she read my free ebook on using social media:
How [can you] calculate the value of a company’s online reputation and (marketing) PR 2.0 efforts? What did these activities produce, put in figures and – preferably – in euro’s/dollars? I would like to include both the reputation damage that has been diverted and the positive/negative/neutral online coverage that has been created.
This raises an interesting and very complex question. There will inevitably be tangible and intangible ways to measure the value.
Measuring Positive and Negative Reactions
Assuming that you’re using a tool like Trackur, Radian6 or just Google alerts to track your coverage, the first thing you have to segment the coverage by what Radian6 calls sentiment – negative, neutral or positive. Once you’ve done this for media coverage, video responses, Twitter responses, blogs postings and more, you can get a visual representation of the sentiment over time.
The question then is how do you assign a monetary value to this. One way is to use ad equivalence, which is how much would it have cost you to advertise in a magazine for the same space. The obvious drawback is that this will not cover a significant portion of your coverage and you have to do the time consuming research to find the ad values. But let’s assume that this works for 40% of the videos, blogs and media coverage out there. How do you measure the remaining 60%?
The Value of a Single Customer Won or Lost
I am assuming that you have a sense of your sales pipeline and what the average deal size (let’s keep this simple, ok? =). If you delved into the content of what is being said, how many would say they would 1) hire your company; 2) never work with your company again or 3) are neutral.
I’m making a huge assumption that each person is a potential customer regardless of their company affiliation and title. For example, there are over 589,000 fans on the Skittles Facebook page. If I assumed that each person bought at least one Skittles product that cost $0.75, then the potential value would be $448,500.
You can then do the same with your business: positive = gain average deal size, neutral = zero, negative = costs you average deal size
Conclusions: Not an Exact Science, Yet
I admit that I am ignoring the relative influence and weight of differing outlets, people or prominence of coverage. I also know that not everything can be easily dissected into the three sentiments I highlighted above. But frankly, I didn’t want to turn this posting into an essay
While technology is catching up to help automate the process, I believe that there is still a very manual process involved to evaluate the coverage, put it into the appropriate bucket and then assign a value to it. Hence, I recommend that you start simply – take the most simple measurement and build upon it over time. Otherwise, you may find yourself spending more time assembling reports about your online reputation versus managing it directly.
In the end, there is no right answer for measuring the value of bad or good online reputation management. I hope the above provides a starting point for those seeking to calculate this value.
I would love to hear of how others would go about calculating the value of bad and good online reputation.
Positive Ad Equivalence – Negative Ad equivalence = Total Ad Equivalence
Potential Customer Deal Won – Potential Customer Deal Lost = Value of Potential Customer Deal
Total Ad Equivalence + Potential Customer Deal = Total Value of Positive/Negative Online Reputation
Online reputation management is an increasingly complicated process with the prevalence of online media, offline media, and social media. I previously wrote a post about Trackur and had the opportunity to see a demo of Radian6‘ solution. I was very impressed with the sophistication of what Radian6 has put together.
Radian6 seems to have a very comprehensive search capability through different types of media. The results are presented by publication date. I liked how the service provides a social profile of each media outlet, such as blogger info or Twitter followers/following/updates. You can quickly scan the results to determine “influence weight” (more on that below). You can also set up different searches to monitor your company, competitors and different topics.
Share of Conversation
I liked how Radian6 is able to pull info to create what they call share of conversation. It’s similar to “influence” but goes deeper to determine your share of voice on particular topics. Radian6 will do one time topic pull of the past 6 months to create a baseline. This way, you can track which how your marketing, PR and social media activities have impacted the company’s online reputation over time.
The basics are:
- River of news – this is all the mentions that you’ve received based on the criteria you set up for the search
- Influence widget – you have the ability to weight different criteria, for example number of inbound links, (what are other criteria).
- Trending – you can view the data in aggregate to spot trends. For example, did a free eBook create a spike on Twitter with retweets or a press release increase the online mentions through your news distribution.
- Conversation clouds – you can further drill down to see conversation clouds (similar to tag clouds), which allow you to sense keywords around a particular topic, company, etc.
- Reporting – the information can then be exported into different formats. You can send out a dashboard report and two of the widgets twice a day.
I like how Radian6 has incorporated a CRM flow to manage possible sales leads. For example, a dashboard is created to track key phrases, such as “online management tool”. Depending on the context, the lead generation manager can review and assign certain items to sales people. That is how Radian6 first identified me as a possible lead after my post about Trackur.
There is then an audit trail to determine the status of assigned items. While this isn’t linked to a larger CRM system like Salesforce, this is a nifty function to have for marketing and sales. It provides accountability and a steady source of prospective leads from multiple sources. Imagine that!
While the pricing is only a few hundred a month, it is more appropriate for larger companies or agencies (PR and marketing consultancies). The former can absorb the minimal cost while the latter will pass it on to their clients. SMBs or start-ups with tighter budgets may opp to forgo this in favor of other programs.
With all the ways the data can be viewed, I would be interested in seeing an executive dashboard that is a high-level breakdown on how a company’s share of conversation has evolved overtime. And if there was a way for a marketer to assign value to different campaigns, track the progress of “conversation” and then calculate ROI, that would be very interesting indeed.
Accuracy: As this was a demo, I cannot determine the level of accuracy. With that said, I do give Radian6 kudos for incorporating a variety of media types.
Ease of Use: 5 out of 5
Cost: Reasonable for companies, wished there was SMB Pricing. Non-profit pricing is available.
Part of this is due to the heightened scrutiny on how financial institutions are spending money since the financial meltdown. Starting with AIG and now with Morgan Stanley’s announcement, public corporations are weary of holding large “destination” events that are seen as too extravagant. In addition to outright canceling these events, this is giving rise to virtual events.
I’ve been noticing an interesting trend in my LinkedIn discussions recently. People are concerned about the decline of attendance at physical events or the outright cancellation of these events. Event organizers from publishers to corporate planners are struggling with how to maintain relevancy at a time when the bottom line is ruling decisions about corporate events.
Are Virtual Events the Answer?
Virtual events are seen as more cost-effective for both the company and attendees – no travel, no lodging, and no catering costs. Furthermore, there are various technology tools available to ease person-to-person communications or to recreate a networking environment.
While I am a huge advocate of virtual events ranging from online seminars, virtual summits, virtual tradeshows to conferences and sales meetings, I do believe that going virtual isn’t necessarily the right answer for everyone. Instead, if you take a step back and look at the larger picture, there may be other options available to you and your customers.
Questions to Ask
What is the objective of your event? – Determine why you’re holding this event. Is this an employee motivation get together, a white-glove customer event or a sales training meeting. I would argue that a white-glove customer event is important for future business while a sales training meeting can easily be moved to an online format. As for the employee motivation get together, this can be done in a hybrid approach which I will describe below.
How technically savvy is your audience? - If you decide to do a virtual event, you have to confirm that your audience is computer literate and has access to the minimal computer requirements. For example, my sister is a nurse. While she has access to a personal computer, her hospital doesn’t. So you have to consider the logistics of holding an online event with these constraints and how your audience will be able to view and interact with your content.
Will your audience prefer in-person, virtual only or both? – In addition to technical savvy, another consideration is how your audience prefers to interact. If they prefer in-person, then you can consider other ways to provide an in-person experience while minimizing cost considerations.
Why not a hybrid approach? – I think one overlooked strategy is looking at what I call a hybrid approach – an in-person event with a virtual component. This approach works when a core segment of your audience prefers in-person events for educational networking purposes, while another segment may be unable to attend due to personal, professional or cost reasons. I also believe that this works when looking at corporate events. For example, Cisco announced that they were canceling their global sales meeting in favor of a virtual event. Assuming that one of the main reasons for a sales meeting is to recognize your top sales folks, you can still hold regional in-person events to recognize these individuals or have an invite-only webcast with the CEO. This imparts exclusivity, while holding a virtual event for general sales training.
If you decide to go virtual, then what tools are there to facilitate your objective? – There are many virtual trade show and world vendors on the market, such as InXpo, Unisfair, Nortel’s web.alive and even Second Life, who can work with you to build out the right environment. Alternatively, you can start small with a web conferencing type of solution to create a webinar program. Regardless of how you decide to proceed, you can then layer social media tools (many are free) to further engage your audiences. And if this is truly a dedicated audience, possibly nurture a community built from the event itself.
Right now, the first reaction is how to cut costs by eliminating physical events. Furthermore, the current market conditions will enable virtual worlds/events vendors to grow and demonstrate the true value of going virtual.
I believe that as companies and event organizers take a step back, people will realize that there are different options available to them to achieve the same objectives cost-effectively.
Cece Salomon-Lee is director of marketing for ACTIVE Network, Business Solutions division, and author of PR Meets Marketing, which explores the intersection of public relations, marketing, and social media.
This blog contains Cece's personal opinions and are not representative of her company's.
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