Thursday, August 14, 2014

Somebody on Social Media Talking May Be Trash About Your Company

There is no lack of Social Media to participate in and worry about: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pintrest, YouTube, FourSquare, Blogs, just to name a few. Here is my question for this discussion: How Are You Managing Your Social Media Brand Reputation?
The most important aspects of Social Media include increasing awareness for your brand and improving your relationship with your customers. In order to effectively use these Social Media outlets, you must make a significant commitment of resources and attention (sometimes by top executives). You may be walking the walk by dedicating resources to participating in Social Media but how are you tracking, managing and responding to Social Media posts about your brand?

There are some very good tools for managing your brand reputation and what people are saying about you on Social Media. Most of these tools allow you to set-up the Social Media you want to track and they scan postings and report on discussions related to your brand. Some of the tools even rank your reputation and provide a “report card” on your ranking. Using a brand reputation monitoring tool can also allow you to identify customer service issues that need to be resolved. Here is an example of how these tools work from my own experience.

I decided to cancel my (unnamed) VOIP phone service. Like a lot of consumers, my cell phone with unlimited minutes eliminates the need for a home phone. So I called the company to cancel my service which I had been using for about 5 months. Near the end of the phone call I was informed that there would be a “termination fee” of $85 representing the remainder of the contract I had “signed”. Funny, I didn’t remember signing a contract. I am generally a very pleasant person to deal with but I strongly objected to the fee. I told the customer service rep what I thought of their policy but there was no budging on her end. In my frustration I said, “Have you ever heard of Facebook”? If you go ahead with this “termination fee” I will post my disapproval on your Facebook page, on my Facebook page, on my friends Facebook page and every other Facebook page I could muster. The rep asked me to hold for a moment. She came back in a minute and said that her supervisor approved the waiving of the termination fee. Apparently the phone company had a procedure in place if a customer threatened to play the Social Media card. This interchange inspired me to write this post.

I strongly suggest is if you have an active Social Media presence (or are considering one) that you deploy a reputation management and tracking tool. The company and reputation you save may be your own!

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Top 5 Reasons Your Newsletter Should Be The Center of Your Social Media Strategy!

The Top 5 Reasons Your Newsletter Should Be The Center of Your Social Media Strategy!

By: Larry Fournier, Fouthman Communications.

You may not have thought about it, but newsletters are the oldest and most effective social media tool around! Are you taking it for granted? Here are the top 5 reasons that you should put newsletter at the center of your social media strategy:

1. Leverage Your Content from Blogs, Whitepapers and Social Media Posts 

If you are like most companies, you are continuously blogging, posting to social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, writing whitepapers, creating customer success stories and Web content. Why not get the most from your content development? Your newsletter can be the place where you can bring all that content together. Most of the content can be easily “cut and pasted” into your newsletter with links to either the full article or the blog or social media outlet.

2. Demonstrate Your Commitment to Your Customer and Partner Relationships 
For existing customers and partners, the newsletter allows you to communicate to your most valuable assets – customers and partners on a regular basis. Although a newsletter is a wonderful sales tool, it can also let you demonstrate your interest and commitment to your customers and partners by offering industry whitepapers, training, Webinars and product advice that can help grow their businesses (and revenues to you!)

3. Get a Complete Picture of All Prospect, Customer and Partner Touchpoints 
Most companies today are able to integrate their communications with their CRM systems. Even the basic CRM systems allow you to track the various interactions with your company. How valuable is it for your sales and marketing teams to know which customers, partners and prospects are engaging with you across multiple channels? Your newsletter can be the catalyst to begin the integration with CRM.

4. Consistent Nurturing and Sharing of Content 
Contact with your customers, partners and prospects shouldn’t be a one-off event but integrated into a consistent nurturing campaign. Your newsletter is a great way to assure that you are communicating on a regular basis to your customers, partners and prospects. Having a regular publishing schedule will put pressure on content creators to regularly publish and provide content.

5. Drive More Leads and Traffic to Your Website 
Adding Website links from the newsletter to content on your Website assures regular visits to your Website and a subsequent increase in repeat traffic. At the least, this is worth the effort to regularly send out a newsletter. But consider this additional benefit:  You can include a link to “Send the Newsletter to a Friend” to further extend your reach both within your known customer, partner and prospect organizations, as well as potentially adding new organizations and contacts.  Most newsletter and emailing systems allows you to track this pass along traffic.
If you currently have a newsletter, consider how you can expand the use and the reach. If you currently do not have a newsletter, why not take advantage of the content you have and improve your communication to customers, partners and prospects?

For more information about starting, integrating and improving your newsletter into your social media strategy, contact Larry Fournier on LinkedIn or by email at:

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Is Customer Service the New Marketing?

Is Customer Service the New Marketing?

There is a lot of discussion lately about how customer service and marketing integrate beyond CRM. With the advent of social media, reputation and brand management it is impossible to separate customer service from marketing. So the question I have for comment IS customer service the NEW marketing? Please post your comments on this topic!

For more information about starting, integrating and improving your partner or marketing programs, contact Larry Fournier on LinkedIn or by email at:

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Small, Consistent Social Media Steps Add-Up to One Big Branding Gain

According to Benjamin Franklin, “Little strokes fell great oaks.“ These words ring true today when it comes to Social Media branding for your company.  Whether you are just getting started, have a limited or an extensive presence in Social Media, regular, consistent small steps are the most important aspect of your involvement in Social Media.

It makes sense for most B2B companies to have a blog, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages. When it comes to content for all these pages consider making small, consistent strides to building your Social Media brand. Here are a few thoughts for your consideration related to using Social Media to build your brand:

It’s not a job…it’s an adventure. If you haven’t done it already, you should have a specific goal, audience, overall brand strategy and message in mind as you develop your Social Brand. You should have at least one person in the organization that is knowledgeable, accountable and responsible for updating and expanding your Social Media program and presence. It should be part of that person’s annual or monthly MBOs but it also needs to be fun!

Repurpose, repurpose, repurpose. You shouldn’t have to invent a bunch of new content for postings. In fact, repurposing existing content can reinforce your brand message across multiple touch points. With branding, consistent messages and exposure are the keys to success. Press releases, new industry or product information, excerpts from case studies and company announcements make great content for Social Media. Always look at each piece of content with an eye on your specific goal, audience, overall brand strategy. 

Dance with the ones that brung ya! Think of the potential reach if your partners and customers are part of your Social Media strategy and outreach! Imagine if your partners and customers use your content on their LinkedIn or Facebook pages! If each of your partners and customers has only 100 followers or connections, your message reach can increase significantly for each partner leveraging your content! That’s a lot of value for you, your partners and customers since most of them are probably participating in Social Media but may not have the resources to generate regular content.

Here are a few ideas to get started leveraging content across your partner and customer base:
  1. Survey your partners and customers to determine the extent of their participation in Social Media -- you’ll be surprised by their participation. Ask them if they are connections with you or if they want to be then invite them to connect! At the same time you can ask them how often they post and how they generate content.
  2. Identify Content Sources: If you haven’t already done so, determine all the internal and external sources of content for your program. Potential sources include PR, technical information and trends, Analyst information, partner and customer newsletters, case studies, Webinar invitations and content, blog postings and whitepapers.
  3. Make sure your content reflects your partners’ perspective: Determine what content can be positioned from a partner or distributor point of view – that is what might be important for the partners to share on their pages and with their customers. If you have a newsletter that you send to partners start there. Suggest in your newsletter that partners should share appropriate content on their Social Media pages.  
Ultimately, sharing your content for use by your partner on Social Media should help provide a new outlet for branding, gaining mindshare and providing more value from your partner program. As far as results tracking, don’t think of it as demand generation but track it like you do press releases, PR coverage and Web page views. 

When you think about Social Media, always remember the words of Benjamin Franklin, Little strokes fell great oaks. Small Social Media steps can add up to one, big gain for your Social Media branding.

For more information about starting, integrating and improving your newsletter into your social media strategy, contact Larry Fournier on LinkedIn or by email at:

Friday, June 27, 2014

Five Easy Pieces to Improve Your Partner Program

Five Easy Pieces to Improve Your Partner Program

Don’t make your partners beg for what they need from your company to support their sales efforts! If you are generating revenue from a partner channel are you maximizing your opportunities? Have you formalized how you are working with partners? Have your sales and marketing organizations been informed and trained on how to talk to partners about what benefits and programs are available to them as your partner?
There are five easy steps you can take quickly to improve how you work with partners, increase partner revenues and provide partners with the programs they need.

  1. Talk to selected partners and your sales team to determine what is needed for success
  2. Consolidate your research and determine if there are any existing resources that can be easily modified or enhanced that map to the requirements you have identified
  3. Develop the programs, garner internal approval and plan the roll-out of the partner program
  4. Begin the roll-out process with an internal Webinar or presentation to the sales team and others in your organization that interface with partners. Provide any supporting materials such as collateral or partner kit.
  5. Invite your partners to a Webinar to introduce the new resources and encourage your sales team to meet with selected partners one-to-one to present the program details
Here some examples of valuable programs I have developed and rolled-out to global partners:
  • Partner case studies with a focus on their customer successes – great collateral for you and your partner!
  • Partner newsletter – simple but true. This will give you another contact point, demonstrate your commitment and let you leverage your existing content in a another media
  • Partner Empowerment Webinars – once you have identified programs your partners need, you can set up a series of 30-45 minute Webinars to introduce your  benefits programs
  • A Partner Kit – consolidate your program information in a “kit” form that may be online, physical or both! I have used a nice portfolio, and included a partner program brochure that highlights benefits. It is a good reason for a personal visit with the partner!
  • Personalized URLs for your Major Partners – create individual Web pages for your best partners to highlight the benefits of your partner program, company key contacts, new product and event information and more. It will make it easy for your partner to understand and share the program benefits to others in the organization.
For more information about starting, integrating and improving your partner or marketing programs, contact Larry Fournier on LinkedIn or by email at:

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Stop the Email! Three Simple Ways to End the Madness
By Larry Fournier

As an accomplished email marketer, I am uniquely qualified, even compelled, to write this blog. Like everyone reading this posting I am assaulted every morning and throughout the day by an avalanche of offers, propositions, survey requests, work-at-home jobs and business proposals. I have made the decision today to filter EVERYTHING as email spam. I long for the same thing that motivated Thoreau in Walden Pond – a little simple peace and quiet!

Everything you do online, every action taken, every order or download, result in a monumental and intolerable build-up of email. Marketers have misused the email media beyond belief. Why do marketers think that “nurturing” means sending me multiple emails every day? Some of the worst offenders are the marketers of email programs themselves. Have you received your invitations today to the next email marketing, or Social Media Webinar?

Early on, I resisted the temptation to use email to constantly bombard customers and prospects. I consciously decided, and my company agreed, to limit email touch points to no more than once per week. There were always Webinars to promote, special offers to extend and products to launch. It was difficult and even painful to live up to this self-imposed email restriction, but we did.

What I didn’t see coming was the great benefit of email restraint. Our audience actually responded to our self-imposed selective communication. Each message was received with interest and correspondingly generated responses, click-through rates and actions taken well above the industry standard. We saw open rates of over 40% in many messages, high registration and event attendance rates. It seems that people actually appreciate the respect shown by limiting the amount of email they received from our company.

Here are three easy to implement suggestions for email marketers that will help reduce the amount of email sent yet still keep the marketing funnel growing and sales pipeline filled:

1.     Determine a maximum number of email touch points that your company is will to commit to, and live by – once or twice per week is a suggestion!

2.     Make sure that there is a single control point (approver) of all messages sent – that way separate departments don’t exceed the email quota.

3.     Use or establish a customer, partner and prospect newsletter that you use to promote multiple events such as Webinars, workshops and  product offers rather than using multiple separate emails. A word of caution here, you should make sure that your newsletter is focused on helpful information and not just selling as this will impact the future participation and open rates. Note that in the next year or so, I may be advising marketers to limit the amount of content spread through Social Media!

A final reminder is please, please, please, Never Buy Email Lists as this will certainly add to spam and could put your company on a spammer black list!

As an email marketer we can all take a lesson from Thoreau to simplify, simplify, simplify!  Making some important policy decisions about how you respect your audience by limiting the amount of email you produce and spew can improve the results you achieve. Who knows, the inbox you spare may be your own! 

For more information about starting, integrating and improving your partner or marketing programs, contact Larry Fournier on LinkedIn or by email at:

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Are Your Social Media Efforts Aligned with Your CRM and Marketing Platforms?

It’s safe to say that we all agree that Social Media is a powerful means for establishing your brand and delivering your key messages to your market, customers, partners and prospects. But are you taking full advantage of the integration possible with Social Media, CRM and marketing automation platforms? 

Today, and the Eloqua marketing automation platforms use Social Media pages for tracking of overall reach and success to the account level. 

Here is what is being said about integration of CRM and Marketing Automation with Social Media by industry leading vendors:

The CRM Platform:
Use public social networks to listen and engage in new ways. Hear what’s being said. Automatically filter what’s important. Know who’s influential. And respond quickly and appropriately. Because questions and requests from customers on social networks become part of your case queue, social media is simply another channel that benefits from the features of the Service Cloud.

Use the social contacts feature to see your contacts’ social profiles and activities (on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter), including pictures and published profile information. Agents can get a deeper understanding of their customers’ interests and needs with a single click, without having to leave Salesforce. Read more.  

The Eloqua Marketing Automation Platform:
Social channels are critical to the marketing mix, but often B2B social media efforts stop at monitoring or content marketing, and are never integrated into email marketing and web campaigns where they can help B2B demand generation and revenue performance.
Start simple with Eloqua Social Suite, a set of social apps integrated seamlessly into the Eloqua marketing automation software.  

With Social Suite, you can easily sprinkle social content into existing Eloqua content marketing campaigns. Over time, you can use social data to better target, segment and measure demand generation campaigns.  Read more.

To have truly integrated campaigns both your content and messages should align across all media including:

Your Website, Web Landing Pages and SEO
Email Marketing Messages and Newsletters
Direct Marketing Messages
Blogs and Social Media Pages
PR and Press Releases

Consider integrating all these media (and related messages) with your sales and marketing automation platforms. This will allow you to better track the performance of your campaigns down to the customer, partner and prospect level. If you are planning a Webinar as an example, consider using standard messages and establish tracking of openings, reads, comments, questions and registrations across all your media and attribute these touches so that your sales and marketing teams are able to see overall interest both at the macro and the account level. It’s not only possible, it’s essential to your success. 

For more information about starting, integrating and improving your partner or marketing programs, contact Larry Fournier on LinkedIn or by email at: