The June 2012 Issue of TAS Trader

Stuck Like Glue – Conclusion

By Donna West

Donna concludes her list ideas on how to keep clients “stuck like glue.”

What is one of the most important “touches” for clients for whom you are “out of sight, out of mind” most of the time? Touch them with a monthly newsletter. Tamara Gielen, an email-marketing consultant who has worked for Cognos, eBay, and OgilvyOne, believes in the power of newsletters. “Done right,” she insists, “they will give you a return far better than any other marketing strategy.”

Flawless service is no longer enough to keep clients. They need to know you and become loyal to you. A client newsletter is the best way to accomplish this. Newsletters are not as difficult as you might think, but you must put in the effort to be sure that they look professional. If you can’t design a template to cut and paste articles into, pay someone to do it for you. Your newsletter also needs to contain more than just dry articles about what you do. Have some short “one liners” to catch your clients’ eye and draw them in. Jokes are difficult to find, but motivational quotes abound. Keep articles to about 300 words and use photos and clipart to illustrate them. People read captions first, so make sure you put important information in the captions.

Many people have difficulty thinking of topics for monthly issues and therefore opt for quarterly newsletters. While that is marginally better than no newsletter at all, monthly touches are vitally important. Watch the news for articles of interest. QR codes, cell phone fraud, and creative use of email for advertising can all be short articles for your newsletter. An article about one of the services you provide is important, whether it’s conducting a survey, appointment scheduling, or even text message delivery. You want to be sure clients don’t say, “I didn’t know you could do that – so I went with another company” on their way out the door.

A newsletter also gives you a place to brag a bit! Did your company earn the Award of Excellence? Was your employee the recipient of an industry scholarship? Are 100 percent of your eligible agents now certified? Have you earned site certification? Have you received a Chamber of Commerce award or another small business consideration? These are ways you already use to tell potential clients about your service, but how else will your current clients learn about these important facts about the company they trust their business to when they can’t be there? From your monthly newsletter, of course.

One of the most important articles in your newsletter will be your president’s letter. Here you can share your philosophy, your pride in your company and its accomplishments, and perhaps a bit about yourself. Remember what Jay Conrad Levinson (author of the Guerilla Marketing books) said, “People want to do business with people they know.” Make sure your clients know you and know you care about them, and they will stick like glue!

Donna West is the president of Business Calls (www.businesscalls.biz), a company that produces client newsletters for the telephone answering service industry. She is also the president of Focus Telecommunications, and has served on several industry boards.

[Stuck Like Glue is a four part series in the March, April, May, and June 2012 issues of TAS Trader.]

Selling the Intangible: How to Effectively Market a Service-Based Business

By Sheryl Batchelder

In many respects, selling a product is easy. You have an item you can show and demonstrate to people in person and something you can take photos of for marketing pieces. Even more important, prospects can use multiple senses to make a buying decision. You have numerous ways to make the product real for your prospects.

However, selling services – such as telephone answering services – is completely different. You can’t show a service to people. As such, it’s more difficult to sell. However, difficult doesn’t mean impossible. You simply have to be more creative with your marketing packages so your prospects take notice and understand what they’re buying.

That’s why so many service-based companies are now going the extra mile with such things as leather presentation binders, gold-embossed, natural fiber proposal folders, and other touches to create marketing materials that stand out. When you’re selling a service, you’re really branding your company and promoting the experience your service will give your clients.

The fact is, with the right marketing package you can have your prospects saying “yes” to your service at the first hello. You want a client so impressed with your marketing materials that he or she says, “As soon as I received your package, I knew I would do business with you.” Following are the keys to making that happen.

1. Decide on the look or feel you want to convey to your prospects: Every company has an image it wants to portray. Before starting, be clear on that image. Many companies have a general idea of the look or feel they want their marketing pieces to convey, but they’re not confident their image is correct or even marketable. If you’re unsure of your company’s image, hire a marketing professional who truly understands your vision and can help articulate it.

Because business is constantly evolving, it’s difficult to figure out where you are currently, especially when you’re so close to it. And since companies are always trying to reinvent themselves, defining an image isn’t something you do only once. Your TAS is always changing, and that means you’ll have to change your marketing pieces and the feeling they convey every couple of years to change with it.

2. Do your research: Since you’re selling a service, you can’t have typical marketing pieces or packaging. But even if you design a wonderful and creative package, many manufacturers only produce standard output and won’t be able to replicate it. They may ask you to compromise on material, size, or quality. So you need to find a manufacturer or printer that’s willing to try something innovative.

Also, seek a marketing piece manufacturer who will educate you on what will and will not work. Many times a company will go to a manufacturer with a beautifully designed marketing package that is simply not functional. Whenever possible, work with the manufacturer during the design phase and listen carefully to their advice. Many service-based companies are creating marketing pieces out of materials that have never been used before. Some materials work and some don’t; it all depends on the material and the intended use. You certainly don’t want to find out your idea won’t work after it’s been produced.

3. Spend money on a prototype: When you have a marketing piece that is complex or unique, you definitely want a prototype. If you don’t spend the money on a prototype, you may end up with a final product that isn’t what you wanted or doesn’t work the way you expected. Depending on your piece’s complexity and the design time involved, a prototype can cost anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, but it’s money well spent. You want to eliminate all surprises and know how your final product will look and feel. After all, your marketing piece is your company’s image and your prospect’s first experience with you, so make it the best one possible.

Creativity = Profits: In today’s marketplace, competition is fierce. Many telephone answering services offer comparable packages for similar prices, which is why you need an immediate edge over your competition. Your marketing pieces and packaging are the perfect way to set your TAS above the crowd. In fact, if everything else is equal, your prospects will go with the company who has the best image – and they’ll make that decision based on the marketing items you send them. So get creative. Do what you must to set your services apart. When it comes to selling services, a little creativity goes a long way to positively affecting your company’s bottom line.

Sheryl Batchelder specializes in bringing branding ideas to life.

News

Pudles to Present “Business Culture DNA” at ATSI
Gary Pudles, CEO and president of AnswerNet, will speak about a special topic at the ATSI Conference, June 13-15. “Business Culture DNA: Revealing the Right Chemistry” will be an entertaining and educational session on discovering the right mix of tactics to develop a positive company culture. Gary will use real-life examples pulled from his own experience. “As I was building AnswerNet, I researched a lot of tactics from brand leaders,” said Gary. “This session is about how I was able to pick the best ideas from the greatest minds to formulate my company’s own culture. I look forward to sharing this knowledge with the conference attendees.”

Mid-State Communications Earns Certification
Mid-State Communications, LLC (dba Advanced Answering Service) has re-qualified for the Gold 24/7 Call Center Certification Award from ATSI. They originally qualified in 2008. Advanced Answering is based in Manchester and Nashville, Tennessee, and provides premiere telephone answering services for medical, commercial, and professional clients throughout the United States. The certification is an indication that Advanced Answering has met or exceeded high standards in the following areas: business practices, life safety, operations, normal and emergency procedures, personnel hiring, training, and ongoing evaluations through a peer review program focusing on 99.9 percent annual run time. This certification has been awarded to less than 1 percent of the industry.

Julio Roman Joins Alston Tascom
Alston Tascom announced the newest member of their team: Julio Roman. He has joined the customer service department and is assigned to field installation of Alston Tascom’s Evolution system featuring ADAM. “I am excited to welcome Julio to the Alston Tascom team,” said Wayne Scaggs, president of Alston Tascom, “and we look forward to the contributions he will make in serving our customers.” Julio is a Marine veteran who was stationed in Romania, and he is still a member of the Marine reserves. Julio comes to Alston Tascom with Marine discipline and a wealth of knowledge in networking.

Amtelco Introduces Cloud-Based miReminders
Amtelco has launched miReminders, a cloud-based appointment reminder system that provides automated appointment reminder and notification services without agent involvement. Notification campaigns can be predefined and scheduled for later delivery or sent immediately to any number of individuals. The system combines preprogrammed automated call dialing with text-to-speech translation and Web accessibility to quickly contact the appropriate individuals. Those people can then confirm that they have been notified. Notifications can be made via telephone calls using text-to-speech telephone scripts driven by an integrated voice response (IVR) engine with a library of more than 10,000 professionally recorded names.

Professional Teledata Introduces PInnacle Sentry
Professional Teledata introduced PInnacle Sentry, an add-on enhancement that allows video monitoring to be integrated into the existing stream of incoming events. Pat Kalik, president of Professional Teledata, stated: “The idea of integrating video surveillance into the mix of events has been previously unattainable.” Traditional video monitoring has been limited to having a guard physically monitor cameras on closed-circuit systems. Professional Teledata altered the landscape of managing video surveillance through the integration of external monitoring devices with its software technology. The result is an improved and more efficient TAS operator, who can monitor potential issues using a prompted software system.

NAEO Summer Seminar Series
A non-platform specific seminar is being hosted by NAEO. It will focus on leadership development and ATSI certification; it is scheduled August 6-8, 2012 at the Philadelphia Airport Courtyard Marriott Hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is open to everyone in the TAS industry; attendees do not need to be an Amtelco user or an NAEO member to attend. NAEO will also be hosting two concurrent Intelligent Series workshops for beginners and experts. Registration and information is available at www.naeo.org.

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[Posted by Peter DeHaan for TAS Trader, a telephone answering service e-publication from Peter DeHaan Publishing Inc.]

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About Peter DeHaan

Peter DeHaan is the president of Peter DeHaan Publishing, Inc., (http://peterdehaanpublishing.com) the publisher and editor of Connections Magazine and AnswerStat, and editor of Article Weekly. Peter DeHaan’s personal website (http://peterdehaan.com) contains information and links to his blogs, newsletter, and social media pages.

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