Tag Archives: solving problems

Letter to a Prospective Social Media Client

Dear Chris Reimer,

(Regarding social media), what would your company do for us and what is the pricing structure?

Signed,
Prospective Client

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Dear Prospective Client,

Thanks for writing back.

To be frank, I don’t yet know what you need. Falk Harrison always meets with prospective clients to learn about their business operations and identify where the business challenges lie. For instance, is it an image issue? A leads issue? A lead conversion issue? A product issue? All of the above? The problems faced really inform the solution.

When we last spoke, you mentioned the need to humanize your “unsexy” product. I would speculate that an enhanced social media presence would aid you with inbound leads (through both your social media channels and SEO). Your sales team would then take over and hopefully convert the generated leads into sales. Ancillary benefits of social media usage could include better recruitment and employee retention. What do today’s job seekers do when it’s time to look for a job, and your name comes up? They Google your company name. It’s best to have something out there for them to digest in addition to your standard website. Humanizing your operations via social media can help accomplish this.

My main specialties, in preferred order of execution, are:

1. Social media meeting facilitation. If the client desires, this is a good first step. Companies often want to have a meeting amongst their key stakeholders to determine how they want to use social media, and to get everyone heard and on board. I have facilitated many such meetings, offering both a structured set of talking points, and guidance as the meeting goes on.

2. Social media strategy. I can assist with curating a content strategy that will increase visibility of your company while avoiding the usual mistakes companies make on social media. This is truly a different kind of marketing (if you can even call it marketing), so we need to be sure to treat it differently. We cannot jump on and do 10 tweets a day, all about your product. To many companies, the use of social media in a “soft sell” manner is not intuitive. They abuse it as another marketing channel, and then wonder why they failed. I can help you avoid such failure.

3. Social media implementation and training. We can work to open Twitter and Facebook accounts as needed, and get a blog built on your site. A blog is a critical part of any good social media plan, as it is the hub of all of your activities. We can assist with identifying where your customers or other interested parties are on Twitter and Facebook. Finally, we can train your employees on the strategy created in step 2 above.

4. Social media content creation or ongoing consultation. Our goal is to complete steps 1 thru 3 or 2 thru 3 above, and then get out of your way. We want your people, your employees with their feet on the ground, creating the social media content. We want THEM answering customer inquiries, handling customer service issues, and speaking about what’s going on within the halls of your organization. Some clients hire us to tweet or blog for them, and in the right instances, we can do a great job of it. But take note: you will always know more about your company than we do, so you are best equipped to express your company’s values and mission via social media. Falk Harrison can assist with identifying the aspects of your business that you want to accentuate via social media. Find what’s remarkable about your business and amplify it via social media. For instance, your whole team has a service project day and you help build a house for Habitat for Humanity. Capture that entire day via social media – pictures, video, and a blog post, then tweets and Facebook posts. Do good for your community, encourage others to do so as well, and ultimately have your company look like the good corporate citizen it is – all via social media. Too many companies forget to document what goes on day-to-day within their walls. We can assist with training you to see what’s there and how to promote it online.

5. Community building. We work to identify which communities are worth exploring, interacting with and monitoring. We can research what your competitors are doing and craft a plan to create relationships in the communities where they operate. Numbers aren’t everything, but we can help grow the size and breadth of your social graph to the point where your customers and prospects know exactly where you are online.

6. Measurement and reporting. The ROI question is a fair one, and our answer to it is “Measure what’s important to you.” We can identify countless metrics to measure, but we will also help you strategize on which metrics deserve your attention.

We don’t have a set pricing structure, and we don’t sell pre-set “packages.” Some social media practitioners sell their services in this way, and if that’s what speaks to you… We’re not selling service packages, but rather solutions. We work with each client individually to deeply understand your business so that we can provide an informed solution. Each challenge, each client is different.

There are three different pricing methods we can use to structure our relationship.

1. We can bill you hourly. You use our services, and we bill you for the number of hours used at the end of the month. Therefore, the monthly invoice will fluctuate. Some months it could be zero. To keep tabs on hours worked, we can provide a weekly snapshot. This arrangement works well when you don’t wish to commit to an agreement.

2. We can work on a project basis. If the work to be performed has an identifiable end date, with a defined deliverable, we can estimate hours and quote you on the project. We usually include language about overages on hours, as projects sometime change shape and size mid-stream. Websites, annual reports and social media meeting facilitations usually fit into this pricing method.

3. Finally, we can draft a Creative Services Agreement, otherwise known in Lawyerland as a retainer agreement. We agree on a certain number of hours per month for a certain number of months, and we’d bill you a flat amount each month. We work with quite a few clients this way. Accounting departments like it (smooth dollar amounts for budgeting purposes.) Also, when we enter into such an agreement, you never have to feel bad about calling, and we never have to feel bad about coming over for a meeting, if that makes sense. You’re not always watching the clock this way. Also, you’ve purchased a block of our time, so you’re guaranteed to get us when you need us. We can shift unused hours forward, or borrow hours from future months.

As a brand communication agency, Falk Harrison also offers print materials design and website development. We work to integrate print, web and social media into one unified brand voice.

Let me know if you’d like to set up a meeting to discuss your challenges and opportunities.

Cheers,

Chris Reimer
VP Social Media, Falk Harrison

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The Waterfall Of Goals

At Falk Harrison, we like to dig deep into a client’s operations. When we first meet with a company, we ask tons of questions, many of which seem to have very little to do with design or web or social media. While admitting that we will never know as much about your business as you do, we want to understand as much as we possibly can about your operations. The more we know, the more informed our solutions can be. That is what makes us a trusted partner.

This leads us to the most important question we ask our clients. That question is not, “What do you need us to design?” or “How many Twitter followers do you want?”  We ask “What problem are you trying to solve?” or alternatively, “What are you trying to accomplish?” The word “problem” might seem a bit strong here, but almost all business decisions stem from an attempt to solve a problem.

  • Our product’s failure rate is too high
  • Our employee turnover rate is above industry average
  • We’re not getting enough leads
  • No one ever comes to our restaurant
  • Our salespeople are unable to turn perfectly good leads into deals
  • We’re getting too many negative reviews on our Google Places page
  • Analysts don’t respect our company
  • Our inventory turns three times a year, but should turn no less than five times a year
  • Customers are not paying their bills on time
  • Our sales are declining
  • Our company is not profitable (yikes!)

Whether one sees it this deeply or not, clients call us to help them solve a problem. We meet with the client and we ask many questions, all in an attempt to ascertain what problem needs solving.  If we are equipped to solve said problem, we explain how we would go about doing so, and we are often invited to submit a proposal. At this point, the client asks the ever-important question “What’s the ROI of this project? What can you guarantee me?”

After having been involved in many such discussions, I realized that, sometimes in the pursuit of solving their problems, prospective clients are focusing on the wrong question. They will often answer our “What problem are you trying to solve,” question with “We want to make more money. We want to increase revenues.” These are not problems, but are end results achieved by solving problems. In trying to articulate this notion, I found myself sketching out a cascading series of goals that helps business owners step back from their monetary dreams for their company. We start at the top and continue stepping backward until we arrive at the base goal that needs solving first. This cascading of goals made me think of a waterfall, and I coined the phrase, “The Waterfall of Goals.” Water travels from the cliff down to the big reservoir below, and we help clients travel down their cascading goals until they reach the bottom.

In my Waterfall of Goals, there are six levels.

Level 6 – Make more money. This is obviously the dream of almost every business in existence. Alternatively, Level 6 could be a not-for-profit that wants incredible financial stability via an endowment or cash reserve.

Level 5 – Sell more stuff. The most direct way to achieve level 6 is to do Level 5 well – increase your revenues. Salespeople (or your website) take a sales lead and run with it. The sale is now in their hands. However, concentrating exclusively on Level 5 is often a recipe for disaster (which I will explain down below).

Level 4 – Generate more leads. Customers are the result of leads. A Gap store needs foot traffic. A restaurant needs customers to phone in their Friday night reservations. A window salesman needs to meet with 10 homeowners interested in new windows. With no leads, there are no revenues.

Level 3 – Increase visibility / exposure. This is where leads are born. If your business has an extremely high degree of visibility, you are giving yourself the very best chance of generating leads.

Level 2 – Develop a robust, fully integrated marketing campaign. This is advertising, social media, public relations, email marketing, online reviews, and word of mouth. Doing Level 2 well takes you up to Level 3 and 4.

Level 1 – Have a great product. This is the bedrock of the Waterfall of Goals. This cannot be overstated: do Level 1 well, or just hang up your cleats. You need a great product, one that is original, reliable, competitively priced, attractively packaged, in stock, and expeditiously delivered. And that product must be produced at the lowest cost possible. You need hard-working, intelligent, well-mannered, kind employees that work like they actually care about your success. You need to have systems that do not fail – a website with 99.99% uptime and a phone system that does not go down. You need reliable suppliers – raw materials must be delivered on time, lawyers must win cases for you, and accountants need to ensure your books are prepared using GAAP.

What does all of this mean?

Simply put, great marketing does not guarantee sales (Level 5). Rather, it generates leads (Level 4). It is a company’s job to ensure that it has a compelling, profitable product (Level 1) that can be sold by its salespeople or website (Level 5). Only then can Level 6 be reached.

Breaking this down further…

  • Great marketing (Level 2) will lead to increased visibility (Level 3), which will amplify your product and its message (Level 1). If you do not yet have a compelling, profitable product, do not work to increase your visibility! It is not time to spread the word about what you sell. You need to head back to Level 1 and get to work. Doing Level 2 well will not guarantee anything if your company isn’t selling a great product.
  • Increased sales (Level 5) do not always lead to a strong financial future (Level 6). Have you ever heard a salesman justify a lower sales price with “We’ll make it up in volume?” If you’re not selling a profitable product, selling more of it will just sink your ship faster. In other words, effective marketing would cause your company harm!
  • If your sales materials and website are unattractive and uninformative (Level 2), it will not matter how great your product actually is. Customers might never be enticed to buy it, and there’s no positive word of mouth without a purchase. Companies need to not only have a great product, but they must demonstrate that with great design and an attractive, intuitive website.
  • Successfully selling your product (Level 5) relies entirely on a great product (Level 1). These two levels work hand in hand. Your salesperson has to be well dressed, all answers in hand, and perfectly kind. If you run a restaurant, your food has to be cooked to perfection, service must be attentive, the wine must not be corked, the temperature of your restaurant must be comfortable, the music must not be too loud or too quiet, and the maître d’ can’t be a jerkface. If you run a not-for-profit, you need to have a compelling mission run by passionate, competent people. If you run a distribution company, you need to have everything in stock, your phone reps must be kind and never rude, you must ship same-day as often as humanly possible, you cannot ship defective merchandise, and you need to handle returns with a smile. This is Level 1, 5 and 6 stuff, and it’s the part of the Waterfall of Goals that cannot be guaranteed by great brand messaging. Your sales leads won’t result in sales unless you pay attention to your product and the quality of your sales team.

This is about companies knowing their goals, identifying the problems that need solving, and focusing today’s efforts in the right place. Perhaps after the waterfall, we’re left with a ladder to climb. Ride the wave of your waterfall to the bottom first, or to whatever lowest level you are not performing at your best. Build your foundation at that lowest level, and then start climbing. You have nailed your product offering and have your systems in place. Now it’s time to advertise, engage on social media, develop compelling sales materials, and speak about your company’s product in a design and message language that is consistent across all audience touch points. This will lead to greater visibility, which will in turn generate leads. Your sales team or website will take it from there, and you’ll hopefully make the sale. In other words, start at the bottom and climb that ladder up to Level 6. There is a symbiotic relationship between each level, and careful attention must be paid to ensure that excellence is not skipped during any part of the climb back up the ladder.

At Falk Harrison, our promise to our clients is relentless pursuit of answers and excellence at Levels 2, 3 and 4. Companies need to obsessively tend to Levels 1 and 5, for that is what makes great brand messaging work.

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