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What is the Telephone Preference Service?


12. January 2010 19:41

A telephone

In the UK it is unlawful to place a direct marketing call to an individual or organisation who has objected, either directly a company or with the central registration scheme - the TPS or CTPS.

The Telephone Preference Service enables individuals or organisations in the United Kingdom to register their objection to receiving direct marketing calls with a central service.

Telemarketing companies are able to receive a list of numbers that have been registered by subscribing to the TPS and or CTPS.

The regulations require that companies comply with an individual's request for suppression made to the central registration scheme within 28 days.

Who needs to comply with the regulations?

All businesses including charities and voluntary organisations who make direct marketing calls to both 'cold' lists and customer lists should be screened against the TPS data before telephone calls are made to ensure they comply with the regulations.

Does TPS apply to customers of a business?

The regulations cover all telephone calls whether they are customers or non-customers. If a customer has registered with TPS you can only call them if they have indicated that they do not object to you calling them.

What are the consequences of calling a number registered with the TPS/CTPS?

Should a subscriber registered with the TPS make a complaint about unsolicited direct marketing telephone calls from a business or other organisation, the Telephone Preference Service Limited (TPSL) will investigate the circumstances in which the call was made. A record of the complaint will be sent to the Information Commissioner's Office, who are responsible for enforcing the regulations.

A TPS subscriber can also contact the Information Commissioner’s Office directly to complain about an unsolicited direct marketing Telephone call which they have received.

How do I get the TPS/CTPS suppression list?

A number of options are available such as list cleaning services, call barring services along with services aimed at helping small companies comply with the regulations.
Visit the TPS website for further details www.TPSonline.org.uk

Picture used under Creative Commons from macinate

Understanding the Purchasing Cycle


7. January 2010 17:28

The customer buying cycle defines the stages a customer goes through while making a purchasing decision.

The purchasing cycle is important because customers need different information at each stage of the process.

In order to maximise the effectiveness of your website in generating revenue you need to optimise your website to help the customer at each stage.

The Purchasing Cycle

Lets look at each stage of the customer purchasing cycle.

 The purchasing cycle

Recognition of a Need

The customer has identified that they need a certain product or service.

This is where your marketing campaigns can be used to raise awareness of your products and services. Think email newsletters, search marketing campaigns etc…

Research Stage

This is the information gathering stage.  The customer maybe weeks or months away from making a purchase.

The internet is increasingly becoming a tool for product research, so it’s vital that you provide as much information on your website as possible to help potential customers at this stage.

Because a customer maybe months away from making a decision it's a good idea to try and make sure you can proactively contact them to remind them of your company’s products and services.

Try to get them to sign-up to email newsletters, request a call back at a specified time etc.

Analysis Stage

The customer has decided they need your product or service but they have not yet committed to purchasing it from your company.
They are now looking into the features and benefits of your product/service and comparing it to your competition.

You need to provide your customers with your unique selling proposition (USP) - Why should they purchase from you?

Consider the power of testimonials from previous customers to give people confidence in your company and its products and services.

Make it easy for the customer to compare the features of your product/service with your competitors solutions.

Provide detailed and accurate product specifications so the customer can determine whether it meets their needs.

Buying Stage

The customer has decided to purchase and is buying your product.

This is your opportunity to offer them special offers, convince them to purchase a different product or service or additional products.

Post Buying Stage

Product/Service has been purchased.  You will need to follow up the purchase with good customer service keep your customers satisfied.

Remember: Retaining existing customers is important as attracting new customers is much more difficult and costly in comparison.

Email Marketing Campaign Tips


26. September 2009 17:43

Sketch of an inbox overflowing Maintaining a customer database can be very useful to your business, it’s worth remembering that it’s much easier to sell your products and services to existing customers, than find new ones.  Therefore it’s important to maintain a dialogue with people you have previously done business with, as it’s a good way to inform those customers about promotions, new services and new or updated product lines that they may be interested in.

Your website should feature a newsletter sign-up form to encourage visitors to register for your newsletter, but don’t forget your offline marketing and customer contact points.  The more you spread the word about your newsletter and inform customers of the benefits of signing up, the more readers you’ll get.
Try asking for customers email addresses when they purchase a product in your shop, or include an newsletter opt-in when they purchase a product online.  Don’t forget to make sure customers understand why you’re asking for the information, they’ll then be expecting the newsletter.

Maybe you already send out a printed catalogue or special offer leaflet to your customer base, but why not offer special incentives to those customers that sign-up for the email newsletter.  For example: You might want to point out that the best offers get snapped up by email subscribers because they get to see your promotions before the printed catalogue reaches other customers.

Offering special incentives to email subscribers “adds value” to your newsletter and will ensure your email gets subscribers who are more likely to read and value the broadcast.

Make the newsletter useful and don’t abuse your marketing list by sending out newsletters too often.  Ideally you want your newsletters to be targeted to the individual as much as possible as this will ensure the products and services included are relevant to the recipient.  Relevancy will help you maximise the sales achieved via the newsletter, so it’s worth putting in the effort when you’re creating your email campaign.

Remember: It’s very time-consuming to grow a customer database so make sure you don’t abuse your list, as the unsubscribe link is always only a click away!

Sketch used under Creative Commons from 10ch

Competitor Analysis


21. September 2009 20:44

There's a well known quote that rings true in the business world as well as warfare.

"Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer"

Forces soldier looking through binoculars

By keeping a close eye on your competitors (enemies) you will get to know all their products and services, strengths and weaknesses, sales strategy and position within the market etc.

With this valuable information you can determine any weaknesses in your defence and concentrate your efforts in those areas.  You'll also learn to know what prices the market will bare for your products and services and be able to offer more competitive prices to win new customers.  As well as weaknesses in your own product offering you'll discover weaknesses in your competitors which you maybe able to exploit.

What is your USP?

Knowing all your competitors intimately will also help you learn what your unique selling proposition is within your market. 

A (Unique Selling Proposition) USP is the thing that makes your product or service stand out from your competitors. 

Knowing your competitors products and services will help you learn what's unique in your own business offering, it may even lead you to create a product or service which fills a gap in the market that no other company currently sells.

Value perceived by customers is relative to rivals offerings, so making competitor knowledge an important part of your corporate strategy.

Competitor Profiling

Analysing other company's websites, literature, blogs, advertisements and newsletters will allow you to build up a good profile of what types of customers they are trying to attract, who their clients are and what marketing techniques they are using to attract new business.  This is all valuable information that you can put to good use with your own business.

You will discover some competitors are an aspiration of where you want your business to be, some others will be of a similar size and more comparable to your own. So use this exercise to create well defined action points to grow and position your business to where you want it to be.

Go ahead and do some competitor profiling!

Photo used under Creative Commons from petercastleton

Tags:

Category: Marketing

13 Testimonial Tips


10. September 2009 18:46

Testimonials are a good way of sharing existing customers experiences of your products and services with potential customers, and can be powerful marketing tools for your business.

If customers who have bought your product or used your service are willing to praise your company/product or service then new customers will have more confidence in your company and the service you offer.

Amazon.com is a great example of how product testimonials can work for both the consumer and the retailer.

Effective Testimonials

Not all testimonials are equal!  For testimonials to work they have to look and sound genuine. 
Here are a few tips to help you pick and choose which testimonials to publish on your website or company literature.

13 Tips for client testimonials

  1. Never use fake testimonials.
  2. Only use testimonials where you can publish the first name, surname and company* of your customer.
  3. Don't use vague testimonials, favour personal and detailed testimonials.
  4. Potential customers want to read what other customers who have first hand experience of your product thought.
  5. Include a few testimonials that aren't a 100% positive as these will provide credibility.
  6. Ask for feedback rather than a testimonial as it's less formal and you'll receive a better response.
  7. Use photos of your customers to add credibility to your testimonials.
  8. Don't over edit a testimonial, often informal language is perceived as being more genuine.
  9. Use testimonials that back up your product or service benefits.
  10. Address consumer fears in your testimonials and how your customers overcame them.
  11. Include testimonials that answer popular consumers questions about your product or service.
  12. Use testimonials where the end user describes how your product or service enriched their lives/their company etc.
  13. Experiment with video testimonials.  These can be tricky to get right, but can be very effective.

(* company may or may not be applicable depending on your business, but you may want to add location, age etc instead)

Tags:

Category: Marketing