Transform Annual Reports into Gratitude Reports for the Best ROI
Blogs – and social media of all stripes – are not the end goal. They’re a lot of things. Fun… Annoying… Exciting… Time sucking… Sexy… Leveraging… Awareness creating… Teaching… Seducing… and let’s not forget –Bonding! As discussed in Part I and Part II , they can create relationships like nobody’s business if we work at it. But no matter how smart and diligent we are, they still aren’t “it.” They’re a tool. They’re the means that get us to our ends. They’re servants of sales (if you’re for profit) and philanthropy (if you’re nonprofit).
How do we assure that our time spent blogging (and tweeting, facebooking, pinteresting, etc.) is getting us to our raison d’etre? We can’t run our business without revenue. How do we get it?
Listen to what customers and prospects are saying. Pay attention to the (1) questions they’re asking; (2) issues they’re raising and (3) trends they’re following. This will yield valuable insight into your audience’s needs and values. You can somewhat automate this listening by using tools like Radian6 from Salesforce, or simply setting up an RSS feed from sources like blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.
|Are you relating to your customer to meet your goals?|
Don’t listen to consumer feedback in silos. According to the 2011 Business-to-Business Customer Experience ManagementBenchmarking Study, sharing the ‘voice of the customer’ with employees across the organization will enable you to manage customer experience holistically (there’s a lot more on managing the customer experience in this customer experience optimization blog ). By not working in a vacuum, you can use information gathered through multiple channels to then create demand.
|Bet you can’t eat just one|
Find a need and fill it. Do this by offering your audiences something they want (whether they know it consciously or not). To be really crass and commercial about it, if you find out they like salt, then give them one potato chip. Remember that old Lays advertising campaign: “Bet you can’t eat one?” What if they like sweets? Remember when Mrs. Fields used to give out free samples of warm chocolate chip cookies outside her stores? Yum… that drew me in BIG time.
What are your potato chips and cookies? Here are some examples of ways to turn engagement into yearning — our ultimate goal:
- Provide a taste of greatness. Offer a free list of “5 Ways to Save Your Mom’s Life” or “3 Cool Art Projects to Increase Your Child’s Readiness for School” or an eBook about “How to Prevent Cyber Bullying.” Demonstrate your value.
- Offer great customer service through social channels. Respond to comments. Address concerns. Solve problems. Not everyone is doing this, as per this infographic on social customer service, so get ahead of the curve. Make yourself indispensable.
- Blow your horn whenever you’ve delivered great results. If you don’t tell it you can’t sell it. Let folks know when a milestone is reached (and remember, this needs to be a milestone that’s relevant to your audience – like an environmental organization converting its fleet to energy efficient vehi
cles). Prove you walk your talk.
As a practical matter, you’re never going to get from A to B unless you connect the dots. I just noted that we shouldn’t be listening to feedback in silos. We shouldn’t be working in silos either. I’ve talked in the past about the need to integrate marketing and fundraising. As Tom Ahern, a leading authority on donor communications, notes: “the heads of development and marketing have to accept that they are oxen pulling the same wagon, a wagon labeled ‘increasing community support.’ Similarly Jeff Molander, in Making Social Sell, talks about the need for businesses to integrate marketing and sales. In both cases, one engages; the other seals the deal. One’s the left hand; the other’s the right. It’s the same body; the same organization. What’s required is a holistic strategy, where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts it’s made of.
|Love thy customer/donor as thyself|
And if that’s true of anything, it’s true of love. When you’re in love, your world revolves around your beloved. Customer-centricity requires an organization to revolve around its customers. Having a relationship requires relating. We must develop avid curiosity and openness to engaging in dialogue. We must care about our customers as much as we want them to care about us.
Finally, let’s not forget that a first sale, or gift, is simply that. A beginning. We all know by now that it costs a lot less to retain a customer/donor than to acquire one. But it still costs; it doesn’t happen on its own. Retailers know this. A new report from the National Retail Federation Foundation and KPMG found that nearly 67% of companies from various sectors ranked customer satisfaction as the top strategic initiative for 2012. 82% said customer service strategies will be their top priority in the coming year, up from 75% last year.
Once we’ve bonded with folks and made a ‘sale’ it’s time to focus on stewardship that builds ongoing loyalty and lifetime value. Social media is great for this purpose because it gives you a forum for connecting and reconnecting with your tribe(s) on a regular basis. The ultimate, ultimate is retention (aka ‘customer satisfaction’).
Are you strategically using a blog, or other social media, to move folks from engagement to investment?
What tools do you have in place to listen to constituents; then share information across your organization?
Other recent blog-related posts on Clairification:
Bliggidi-BLOGgidi-Bloo – Nonprofit Blogs Top 10 Checklist: It’ll Do Magic, Believe it or Not