Can “Cold Calling” lead to “Hot Selling”?!

Are you on the other side of the phone, with a script that has no emotions and a target that has no logic? If your answer is YES, then this blog is for you because you got it all wrong bruh :-/

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But…If you are on the other side of the phone, with a strategy crafted for the person you are calling that will initiate a meaningful business relationship? then go chill!! you have it figured out 😀

So you know what I am talking about…Cold Calling. If you are a noob then here is a wikipedia definition for you – “Cold calling is defined as the solicitation of business from potential customers who have had no prior contact with the salesperson conducting the call.” You get it? all the credit card, health insurance, property dealer calls you get almost every day! It goes by a more professional term called telemarketing btw.

As a marketer I have no doubts that telemarketing is a very useful, result oriented and sophisticated marketing tactic that can generate leads, convert sales and develop business relations. I mean just think about it…you (a consumer) are chilling on a sunny day thinking about a luxurious foreign vacation and wallah! the phone rings and a warm voice tells you how a credit card with travel benefits can make your dream come true. I mean this is the story of modern age genie you guys!!

Sadly in real life this is how the scenario unfolds…you (a consumer) are overworked in your office trying to catch up with the pending to-do list and damn! the phone rings and a high pitched voice starts narrating a story that’s just  mumbo-jumbo words with very little sense in it. And you just slam the phone down hoping to never hear that voice again. Some who have lost hope even block these numbers to be sure!

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So where is it going wrong? It all sounded good when you were presenting the strategy in the conference room…100 calls per day > 50% response rate > 10% pipeline ….the numbers were magical! then what went wrong?

“Knock Knock”

“Who’s this”

“Your strategy that needs better EXECUTION”

* i use humor as a defense mechanism 😀 😀

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So Let’s talk about Useful, Result Oriented & Sophisticated cold calling (yes it exists) and how these simple pointers can really change the game for you:

1.WHO AM I?

FYI, this is deep. Before you pick up that phone to dial an unknown number please be sure who you are. Find an answer to who (your company) and what ( your role and offered solution) gives you the power to make this call. I say this because many a times I get a call from “someone” from “somewhere” telling me things which are secondary part of a conversation. Please take some time to introduce yourself and your purpose before you jump right into the tele script.

2.  IS IT A GOOD TIME?

If you are not asking this question before you nose dive into a long conversation with a complete stranger…please don’t complain that chivalry is dead, cause you are killing it! Please appreciate other person’s time and give them the option to opt in or out of the call basis their present state of affairs. If they are busy ask more a suitable time to call back and please call back.

3.  SCRIPT OR NO SCRIPT?

I am not saying tele-scripts are useless but they are redundant. I was once given the task to make a tele-script for IT solution sales and believe me there is no end to the number of possibilities how the conversation would go. So i just took the most likely situations and made a script (or what turned out to be a list of FAQs) that was meant to give direction to a telemarketing rep. So step out of it and use it only for directions! try to sound genuine, add a personal touch and go with the flow of the other person’s response.

4.  OK I HEAR YOU, NOW WHAT?

Ever happen to you? you get so busy planning for the worse that you run out of reactions when it all works out? After a dozen unsuccessful attempts when that one God sent angel says the golden words like…”yes, I’d like to know about this” OR “yes, I want that” OR “yes, Ok” what then? You are probably dancing on your seat thinking of the deal you just won. Na ah! stop dancing and get real…tell them the steps that follow, call to action that includes signing up right now or a meeting request.

5.  ARE YOU THANKFUL?

Yes you are in the above scenario…the guy just signed up for your service. But are you thankful when someone says “sorry, but I don’t need this”? probably not much, but you gotta be! Not wanting to sound preachy at all but that’s the rule. Thank them for their time, any information that they might have shared, their patience while you were finding the right answer and most importantly their interest (if any).

I guess this helps every telemarketer who is armed with a phone that has a lot of potential. Let me know your thoughts…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to write a ‘Company Overview’

As a part of one of my on going projects with a leading construction company in Qatar, we are giving this 70+ year old brand a face lift. While this entire exercise will make a brilliant re-branding  case study some day, today I want to concentrate on one very crucial part of content marketing that I believe is more important that we think it is. I have to admit that it was that one intriguing question by the client that got me thinking…for good!

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Now, What is a ‘Company Overview’?

I am no batman so I googled this very question (we need a superhero with google-like powers). Surprisingly there was nothing much that would explain to me what a company overview is like I was a 5 year old (hellya! Denzel Washington). So I went for split and search and it kinda worked. So, an overview of a situation is a general understanding or description of the situation as a WHOLE.  Obviously the situation here is a company and the task is to write a page that would describe the company as a WHOLE. Again in caps because that is the keyword!

You wondering why?! remember the intriguing question that my client asked…it was, “should we call the prepared content Company Overview, Company Introduction or Company Brief?” 

The keyword helped me answer the question. A company overview is far more than an introduction or a brief. when you introduce yourself to someone it mostly is your name, where you come from, what company you work with and maybe a couple of more points if the other guy is really listening to you. There is much more information about you in store than what you give away in an introduction. I have had interviews where I was asked to “briefly” introduce myself! So a brief is strictly no dilly dally, cut to chase, say it in one breath scenario. I understand that my examples are conversation based and the case in point is about written content, but my objective is to differentiate between an overview, introduction and brief before we know to how to write one.

While writing a ‘Company Overview’…

  • List out the keywords that describe your business and its core values

Company overview is no longer confined to the pages of a business plan or a tedious report. It is one of the first things we read about when we enter a company website. With the growing acceptance and demand for SEO responsive websites, the content has to reflect the meticulous usage of keywords that will contribute in increasing the quality of your website. This is called “On-Page” SEO, a topic for my upcoming post.

Finding the right set of keywords for your business is a very crucial step and i encourage it to be a time taking one. The process includes interviewing the founders, present top management and conducting a competitor analysis and secondary research. Tools like Google Adwords Keywords Planner should be used to filter out the most relevant keywords.

Once you have listed out 10-15 keywords for your business, try and incorporate all or most of them in the company overview while maintaining the flow of information.

Here’s my blog on step-by-step guide to keyword research

  • Figure out the key components that must be included 

Think of it as a 2 minute business presentation to a set of people who have never heard about your company till that very moment. What are the most important aspects of your company that they should know about?, Where can they locate you?, When did you start this company? and how are you the best in what you do? Writing a company overview is simply answering these questions in the most accurate way possible. In short, it should contain the What, Where, When and How of your company

  • Follow this basic structure

Company History  – provide the back story, including date of founding and who were the founders

Management Team – details about the top management and their key roles

Legal Structure and Ownership – how you’ve decided to structure your company

Locations and Facilities – Details on your work spaces and diversity

Mission Statement – A concise statement on the guiding principles of your company

So, get started on writing a company overview that will get you noticed.

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5 P Approach to Content Marketing

Every time I think I am getting closer to knowing what the whole content game is, more amazing stuff comes around. It may sound frustrating but really it amazes me as to how much each word, order of words, color palette and even your choice of bullets can actually make or break the deal. And that to me is sheer power! power of compelling action using just the right content…wow.

If you think the intro is too over the top (like that thought never crossed my mind) then this will help your belief system – “Copywriting isn’t that mysterious. We’ve got over 100 years of data on tested and true tactics that always work when you want more people to buy or take some form of action.”

In this post I’d like to share a study material (along with the above mentioned quote) from one of my ongoing courses on Coursera – The Strategy of Content Marketing by Sonia Simone, Chief Content Officer, Rainmaker Digital, LLC. The material is light and easy to digest, especially for beginners, and it leaves you with some very basic pointers that will come in handy when trying to create effective content (print, audio or video).

Here is a link to the booklet: www.flipsnack.com/5Papproachtocontent/the-5-p-approach-to-copy-that-crushes-it.html

Here are my key takeaways from it:

  • Winning Premise – this is the foundation to what your content will be for your customers. will it be just another ad in the noisy prime time section or will it something your consumers will relate to. Establishing a groundbreaking premise determines the reaction/action of your target audience. The premise holds in it the core emotion or message that the customer will live with for days to come. Remember how Coca Cola has been selling happiness.
  • Premise is not always the USP – i will go back to Coca Cola for this one. take a moment to realize that the product is a fizzy drink that might go very well with a pizza but there are no earth shattering aspects to a carbonated drink. And then there is competition which is selling more or less the same stuff. So the premise of your content should not rely on USP that might not always be unique or the selling proposition that your customers are looking for.
  • Research and more research – so now that we know that obvious is not obvious when it comes to content marketing, go out there and find answers. Content is the king because customers make it the king. A thorough understanding of your target audience, their requirements, expectations and emotions is probably the step before step 1 of content marketing.
  • Broader picture – Do Not Forget the Broader Picture! All the words, sounds and visuals are there for a reason which is to make the customer act. Having a clear selling proposition and call to action allows the customer to react to your content. It happens more often than you think,  you start with a winning concept, jazz it up with the keywords but lose track of what the customer is supposed to do when they come across this content.
  • Keep it simpler than simple – and i couldn’t agree more with the example given in this course material. Nike has given you the success mantra of life in just 3 simple words – Just Do it. As a marketer I cannot even begin to express how overwhelming all the product or company information could be to begin with, because let’s face it every company thinks they are the best and their product unbeatable. The process of boiling all that information down to a phrase that has literally shaped many a lives is beyond genius. And it is part of content marketing to simplify things and present to the customers the most refined version of your thoughts.

I know what you are thinking…what are the 5 Ps to Content Marketing? well that you will find in the link mentioned above and honestly it is what you NOW already know. My attempt was to build a **drumrolls** PREMISE and that starts with a P 😀

Thanks for stopping by and let me know your thoughts…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#5 Viral Marketing Techniques you need to know today

If you are in India or an Indian in any part of the world, then I believe you have already been swept by the videos and pictures of this kohl eyed girl who until yesterday we had no idea about. Yes, I am talking about Priya Varrier who has now become the “most searched celebrity in India in a span of 2 day”! Now there couldn’t have been a stronger nudge than this for me to write about this subject, so here it goes…

Literally, all it took was a barrage of facial expressions and a wink that appears for a few seconds and the whole country was head over heels in love and awe for this teenage girl from Kerala.

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The result?… everyone was occupied on social media talking about this video, sharing it, liking it, making memes about it and most importantly relating to it. If at this point you are asking yourself this question “how can I make it viral?” then here are some quick tips to win the viral game.

#1 CONTENT IS (& WILL ALWAYS BE) KING 

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I know I am not the first one to say this so ignore the mic drop. But seriously,  it is the content to start with that will potentially make it viral in the end. Content marketing was widely spoken about in 2017 and its ripple effect will continue even this year, only the focus will be on Video Content in 2018. With the proliferation of features on social media platforms that has made video an easy to access, view and share form of communication, people now like what they watch (not just see).

Also, you’d agree that videos are a more spontaneous and interactive form of “talking” to your audience. So for starters keep up and adapt to new forms of content to make it viral.

 

#2 RELEVANCE, DON’T LOSE IT

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This brings me back to the viral video that urged me to include this point in the list of techniques. Well not everyday you see viral videos making headlines but whenever you do, it is mostly about a subject/topic/event/phenomenon that was already being talked about. In the case of  this video clip trailer for a song in Priya Varrier’s debut Malayalam film, Oru Adaar Love, which was launched during the valentine’s week when the youth of this nation was already fishing for something playful and romantic to kick start their valentine’s participation on social media. And they found it in the twenty-seconds iconic wink 😉

 

Thus it is really important for your content to be relevant to the times which will make it easier for people to relate to it. Now that does not mean you cannot change the subject and that is where the next technique comes into picture.

 

#3 HIT THE EMOTION

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Again emphasizing on the content, the core of your message should cater to the emotions of your audience. Be it happy, sad, shock or annoying…if it’s different it will work. Remember the Turkish chef aka “Salt Bae” who sprinkled some salt with loads of attitude and rocked the internet last year? Also, the dancing hot dog which until today I have not been able to make much sense of, and now very famous Prof Kelly and his adorable kids who walked into his study while he was live on BBC. Some of these never seen before stuff on internet were bound to go viral because everyone’s looking forward to some thunderbolt event to start their day.

 

#4 BE SELECTIVE 

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Now here I want to talk about a misconception about Viral Marketing. As the name and subject suggests, we are talking about volume, number, quantity and the bigger the better type. So going by this understanding, the universe is your audience to achieve the scale of being viral. But NO! the concept of targeting still applies. You need to be selective and know your target audience for your content. This will further help you in selecting the right communication channel, reach to people which related interests and pick influencers who are important for these target audience.

 

#5 MAKE IT EASY TO SPREAD

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It has to be contagious like viral. If your content is easy to share, download and embed then it will be spread as fast as virus does. So, allow people to share your content or message easily, embed it on their own sites and download it for use later.  While doing all this, make sure your simplify your message for people to understand and share.

There you go! now you know it all. I hope these techniques will help you make your content go big. And for me…this gif is making me hungry 😐

 

 

 

 

 

 

We got inside your pockets! (Tissue Box Marketing)

Let’s say if I have 10 unread emails in my inbox, chances are  that at least 3 of them are some kind of a marketing proposal. Marketing proposals are usually written by advertising and marketing agencies, design companies, or by individuals who are pitching an idea to a potential client. Who wouldn’t want to know about these ideas that can potentially uplift the existing marketing efforts and drive results. So I usually reserve my time for reading these emails and the hidden agenda (not so hidden anymore) is to know what’s new in the market, statistics that can change the game and most importantly what’s becoming obsolete.

Agencies usually cover a casket of communication channels including the traditional  newspaper, television, radio and trendy social media platforms. But they also explore some rather unconventional channels to take the customers by surprise. If i were to use a nomenclature then this is typically known as Guerrilla Marketing – unconventional (read “in your face”) promotion of products and services with little budget to spend.

Here I want to talk about one such type of guerrilla marketing tactics that has garnered a self explanatory name for itself – Tissue Box Marketing. I am sure you are are not impressed yet and I don’t blame you. Having your logo and company information  on a pack of tissues what’s the big deal right?! Here’s the big deal…

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Guerrilla form of marketing falls under ATL (Above the Line) Marketing where the objective is to reach to the masses and spread awareness. As a marketeer I know that ATL strategies are hackneyed as hell because you do the usual mass media stuff like print ads, radio and flyer distribution at high foot fall areas. Yes, flyers in this digital day and age! we all know what happens when an overly colorful and informative piece of paper is shoved into our hands…a quick scan and you get rid of it in most cases.

*For me I keep anything that has home delivery service 😛

But what if this flyer was more than just a piece of paper? AHA moment!

Enters the idea of tissue box marketing which is extremely prevalent in Japan (not sure if it originated there). The pictures show that your messaging can be sophisticated or  crude but you can be sure that the customer will make space for it in his pocket or purse. wallah! you got inside their pocket what else. As a marketer I find this as such an achievement because now every bearer of your tissue pack is an ambassador of your brand. Also, tissue paper as a product connects with the customers who use it for their personal hygiene. That for me is win – win.

The sheer simplicity and effectiveness of this revamped version of an old tactic has impressed me a lot. The only best thing that can top this would be distributing free food haha 😀

 

 

Are you asking the right questions??

OK, this has happened with me many a times. I’d spend so much energy and time scheduling meetings with clients, preparing the presentation, confirmation emails to and fro and of course navigating to the office location. But all of this is a prep work for the final few minutes (depending how much you have been granted) that you get with the client. Once you are through the usual greetings, one liner puns to ease the tempers (for being late in my case :-/) and exchange of business cards….the time starts ticking for you to make some sense before its time to wrap up. Now you know how important this topic is??…and realize how easily you can turn a crucial meeting into a futile exercise if you DO NOT ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS!

I am going to write about some of my meetings with clients and how to I prepared to ace it. As a marketing professional I meet clients who are looking for marketing and branding solutions, and that’s what I am going to talk about here. Believe me…its the worst feeling coming back from a meeting and saying this↓↓↓ to yourself 😀

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Scenario I:   Introduction Meeting

There are times when the agenda of the meeting says “get to know”. do not fall for the trap and take it as a typical networking meeting where you exchange cards and check out the other person’s clothing (#judgemenot). If the client wants to “get to know ” you there is always some scope of work which s/he does not want to disclose straight away. And so it becomes your onus to get that scope of work out of them during the meeting. Think of it as an interrogation only set up in a corporate environment and no gansta talk 😛

So here are 5 questions that you MUST ask when meeting your client/prospects for the first time.

#1 About the organization

well i know the name says abc motors or xyz construction…so its pretty obvious. But do not shy away from asking the client about their company because then you know what and how they describe their business. believe me they always gives away a lot of additional information that you will not find in their ‘about us’ section of the website…like what are their business priorities, expansion plans, subsidiaries and so on.

Also, read between the lines when they say we are planning to set up a team, acquire some business or maybe shut some part of the business. That is where either you are required or you can pitch for your services.

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#2 How did you come to know about our company?

The benefits of asking this question is twofold…here’s how. My company’s marketing investment is focused on Google SEO and Adwords. So if we get to know that companies are reaching out to us after they see our ads or spot us in the top rankings of Google search, we know its money well spent. If companies are hearing about you from other industry players…then you must be doing your job right!

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#3 How can we help you?

Its simple and straight forward. Up until this time in the meeting the two parties have “known” each other quite well so let’s stop the dilly dally and talk business. Of course before you ask this question introduce your company and all the services that you provide. So that the client/prospect is not wondering if you are the right person to ask for help. It is always better to have a company presentation, brochure or profile so that the client gets to see your work.

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#4  Do you want to know more?

It is like breadcrumbs you leave behind to let the conversation flowing. Yes the client needs something that you can provide as a one time job. But if you see more scope of business where you can definitely impress the client, here is you chance. Talk about how you can send them some more information via email of schedule another round of meeting to discuss in detail. The client’s response will also tell you about his interest level in doing business with you. So think of it as a litmus test of your performance so far.

Also if the client is interested and wants to see what you have in store, take a note of all that you gotta share and please do not forget to share the same!

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#5  What next?

This very question prompted me to write this post. Only that I asked this question to myself  on my way back from the meeting…What am I supposed to do next? You know the meeting went well, there is scope and it would be great if you could do business with them…but what do i do immediately after this meeting so that all of the possibilities become come true!

It is no good asking yourself this question…it is rather too late. Confirm the next set of actions before you sign off. Be on the same page and make a note of what key information/communication has to be exchanged between the two parties. You will be surprised as to how much a even a short meeting can lead to.  It is also a good practice to share minutes of the meeting (MOM) to have a record of the points discussed and it can accompany the ‘thank you/pleasure to meet you’ email.

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I hope this helps your next meeting 🙂 and don’t fall asleep during one 😉

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