Getting Personal

Another short post.

Don’t forget to get personal when communicating with your customers / clients. We all like good grammar but we are who we are and we all don’t communicate in the same way.

Get personal, stay personal. People like people not robots.

Let’s Get Social

Let’s Get Social, it’s the phrase that I use for Social Marketing. I however dislike the word marketing as I find it to ‘in your face’. I believe in being nice and playing nice with the people that you want to connect with and the whuffie (social collateral) will follow. I talked a few months ago to a group of 20+ business owners about brand building using social media tools which went very well.

Today I talked about getting Social to 30ish businesses and how in doing so, they can build their businesses.

Check out the slides below;

Understanding the use of Social Media

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to speak to a group of approximately 30+ local businesses about building a brand with Social Media. The seminar raised lots of interesting questions, I even received more questions a few days later. I’ve no problem whatsoever answering any questions about my work and asked the person who emailed me whether it would be ok to answer the queries in a blog post rather than email so everyone could benefit.Thanks for the seminar on Tuesday – it came over as a very professional presentation – and an interesting development potential for business.

SEOs are saturating the internet and self-inflicting an own goal because their hunger for revenue conflicts with and obscures their primary purpose – how will social media be controlled?

My personal opinion is that ‘Social Media’ is simply a buzz word around understanding how you understand and market to a community. Social Media is a tool which you can use to market correctly, you don’t make money from Social Media, you make money from your ‘product’ by using Social Media.

Keeping the Social Marketing world moderated is a different kettle of fish entirely, however I do believe it will be down to the people. The end user will know whether they’ve been marketed to correctly. A client of a ‘social media/marketing consultant’ should do their research first and foremost. It’s the same as anything else, you wouldn’t use a joiner who had a reputation of doing bad work. Research correctly and find some testimonials, don’t pay peanuts as you’ll get monkeys.

I can see that social media will work for unique products, but what about services?

Think of it like this. You have Haagen Dazs Ice Cream and Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, both are high quality ice creams and both of which have people who like the ice cream. Some people like one, the other or both. They’re both still ice cream in the same way as a joiner is a joiner and a web designer is a web designer. There is more than one design agency, there is more than one electrical services company however different people will like a different service. Some people will become clients because of cost and some will become clients because of quality services. I and we (the rest of the industry) should be there to build the community around your product/service to provide you with constant work and engaging with your customer base so they’re happy with you and your services which in turn enables them to pass your name on.

Anyone who says ignore the competition in my industry doesn’t understand that our clients initially select on PRICE (they usually don’t know enough until we advise about the legislation)

If that is the case then your potential clients need educating through your current client base about why your services are priced as they are. Think of it more long term than immediate, building a community through education can reap rewards long term. Do you want to be here and make £10’000 a month or in 5 years do you want to be making £10’000 a day (monies are used as an example).

We usually retain our clients once they understand the quality of our services and what we stand for – how can social media help get that message over without advertising?

As mentioned above it goes beyond advertising and is in fact education, a recent client knew his customer base weren’t exactly pro’s at using Twitter but they knew exactly how to use Facebook and wanted to know how to get them using Twitter. I said that we’d teach them how to use Twitter through Facebook. People in general are becoming so switched on to forced advertising that it’s effects are dampening down. Engage, communicate and build your brand. If people love you then they’ll stay around and spend money without even thinking about it.

As you said, building a community is the target, but how can I get started on this?

There are lots of ways to build a community around a service or product. The ‘brand’ could even be a person and the best way to start is identify why your current clients love you, find out who your clients are on a personal level and market towards other people like them. All online and offline marketing techniques are individual to businesses, none are the same.

Data Protection and confidentiality are prerequisites – how is this managed and protected?

The shortest way to explain is by using your common sense, if you think something is wrong with what you’re doing then it probably is. You’re not using direct personal data to socially market your business. Confidentiality should be kept as is, there should be no reason for you to get in trouble over DP and Confidentiality if you do things correctly.

My business has full accreditation with the necessary approval bodies – how do I get that message over?

Communicate, we (as people) forget about people. It’s amazing what people realise when they just start communicating with potential clients. Let people know that you’re fully accredited and what it exactly means.

Risk to reputation – I have no intention of slagging off my competition (vast majority are NOT accredited)- so how to achieve a balanced view without getting a brick through the windows?

There is no reason for you to start slagging off the competition. In the first instance it’s highly un-professional. Let those kinds of companies get on with what they’re doing. All you can do is carry on marketing your business to your ideal client base and educating them why you are so good. Whether that be an awesome service, an awesome price of both.

Providing free advice is, I think, one of our main differentiators – any ideas on how to do that?

Again, it’s all down to communication. Don’t try to bore people, your clients are not you. If you provide them with simple facts that they understand they’ll pick up what you’re saying ten times as quick. There are a lot of different ways to communicate to your clients about why you’re such an awesome company to work with.

You will notice that a lot of the above involve forms of communication, direct to the point communication. People honestly want some trust and a good sense of communication can build that very very quickly.

Keeping a school open using effective marketing

This isn’t a normal post from me but stick with it as I think it may come in handy to some people.

Jennifer, my fiancee is an incredibly talented Nursery Teacher in a school in the North East of England. We’ve recently both noticed a change in the education system in the North East especially as this is home after all. There have been some schools in the North East which are losing numbers of children joining the school and because the schools are funded on a ‘per child’ basis every year if there is a drop in numbers there is then a drop in funding for the school for that particular year. This funding covers costs like staff wages, materials, working costs basically everything you see in a school.

The Government trying to help

It seems that the governments point of view on this is to build part private / part funded schools which are now going to be called an ‘Academy’. An academy is too be larger than a normal school and will be ran by multiple head teachers and usually have a ‘manager’ at the helm. Whilst this works for a number of local areas there are still some schools which are being left to fend for themselves.

A drop in numbers for a school could be detrimental to its survival, a heavy drop in numbers could leave the school with a deficit from £10’000 to £80’000 in any one year. Such a deficit requires quick action and usually like it most areas of work the quickest way to recover is to offer redundancy.

Remember what a school is

Looking behind the education system, you have to remember that a school is still a business. As I explained before, schools are funded by the government and the funds are decided on how many children are being taught at the school. If a schools numbers drops suddenly, so does the money in. Still with me?

If a school doesn’t keep its numbers up then tragic things happen, teachers could be made redundant and worst of all the school could indeed be amalgamated with another school or be forced to close.

Schools could indeed become complacent as it is entirely normal for them to have a good amount of new children joining the school every year, however at the moment there is literally a shortage.

Fixing the business

First off, identify the issue. If the single issue is that their aren’t enough new school starters then you need to figure out how to fix it. Parents have a choice where to send their children, just like school leavers can choose which University or College to go to. Most parents will choose a local school however some if not most will pick a school which is leading in various fields. In the United Kingdom we have OFSTED reports, the OFSTED reports show how well a school is doing. The reports are published publicly so parents can find out which schools in their area are doing really good things.

Here’s one for the teachers / head teachers and governors of schools;

If parents do not know that your school is doing fantastic things for the children and giving them the best education they could get, why would they send them to the school!?

The statement is certainly not rocket science but it is definitely something which could be overlooked.

Social Marketing and PR

Nurturing talent and building on it is a clever way to get noticed. If you have some of the best teachers you’ve ever worked with at your school nurture them, give them what they want. If they want to achieve great things along the way, give them a helping hand. If the teachers are happy the children and the parents will be ecstatic. If the parents are happy then word spreads and the schools ‘community’ grows.

You can use PR to support your marketing efforts, by letting the wider community know about the school doing well through the likes of local newspapers you are again growing your community effort. You could even use some good associated PR for the kind of school trips or community liaison work the school has done.

With regards to Social Media, nine times out of ten a schools website is pretty terrible. They usually have a donated website via the local authority which is thrown together by an I.T professional of some description. Whilst they’re perfectly brilliant with normal I.T related issues they’re certainly not web orientated.

Just off the top of my head I thought of a few things which you could publish on a school website for promotion;

  1. A school walk-around – Show the prospective clients (parents) what the school is like inside, show them the brilliant learning environments your fantastic teachers have developed for the children.
  2. List the teachers in the school with their associated skill set and tell the parents why they’re brilliant at what they do.
  3. Do walk and talk video’s with the teachers on what they’ve been doing on various weeks and detail it all for parents to watch online.
  4. Grow your school communities through social media and let the parents know of things happening online.
  5. Use Twitter as a reporting system of what various years groups are doing on particular days so the parents are kept informed.

Those are just 5 things you can do to promote your school online. The only thing you have to be careful of these days are the rights of the children not to be video’d and photographed.

Personally, because I live with a teacher I’d love to work with a school on it’s social marketing, it is business after all.