5 Tips to Keep Your Business in Control of Right Now

right-now

Are You in Control?

Are you ready to keep up with right now? Read on to learn why you should even care! The Social Web challenges us all to track real-time what’s being said about our business. Now, more then ever, online social networks have put customers in charge. Dissatisfied customers spread the word with their friends and followers in seconds. Reviews can build or destroy your reputation.

Businesses have always thrived well on referrals. That’s to say, the ones that get referrals. The great thing about this word of mouth promotion is that it happens spontaneously. There’s no selling involved – hence, no pressure or pushing! Who doesn’t want to do business like that? But, what if people are dissatisfied with your business? As you know bad news travels fast. So, what should you do to stay in control of right now? Consider the following actions:

#1 Put Someone in Charge of Right Now

David Meerman Scott -the author of the Wall Street Journal bestseller “Real-Time Marketing & PR”- talks about appointing a Chief Real-Time Officer. You need to look for someone who is able to listen and act quickly and appropriate. Someone who’s constantly in the know on the type of questions or complaints your company receives. Someone who genuinely cares about your customers. In other words, someone who’s in control of relationship marketing. Look for someone who understands this: Speed of action is more important than the exact formulation of words.

#2 Develop Real-Time Guidelines

If you run a small business, it’s probably easy to act quickly to questions or complaints. If you own a large company, you need to support your employees with clear real-time guidelines. Avoid surprises. Explain the rules of using social networks on behalf of your company. Do this in consultation with your employees. Identify what questions they have about using social networks to do their job.

In the spring of 2005, IBMers used a wiki to create a set of guidelines for all IBMers who wanted to blog. In 2008 and 2010 IBM turned to employees to re-examine these guidelines taking in account the new online social tools. I think this is a great example of how to create guidelines. Visit IBM’s website and let these guidelines inspire you.

#3 Implement Real-Time Systems

For successful real-time communication, you need ears everywhere. You should hear what’s being said about your business on the web and what questions are active in your market place. You also need to have an ear for complaints.

Monitor online what is shared about your business. There are many social media monitoring tools available. Just think about setting up a real-time system with tools like Google Alert, Social Mention, Twitterfall, Crowdbooster, Radian6, Hootsuite or SproutSocial.

#4 Make Real-Time Marketing all Pervasive

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happy-womens-day

Understand that relationship marketing is not the responsibility of one person or department. To quote Regis McKenna: “Marketing is Everything”. And I would add to this: “Everything is Marketing“. So, make sure everybody in your company cares about customer’s complaints and questions. Invest in relationship marketing tools to support your employees in real-time communications with your customers. Discuss various scenarios and use real-time cases to train your people on how to respond in real-time.

#5 Develop a Real-Time Mindset

Finally, we can make all kinds of plans for the short or long term. Ultimately, it all comes down to the right people. The ones who can rapidly and flexibly respond to real-time customer demands. Nurture a real-time mindset. Expect the unexpected – everyday! Hang a sign in a central location of your company with the text: “the future success of our company depends on acting right now”.

Take Away: Regis McKenna once said: “Brands are built. They don’t just exist because you run an ad or because you create a nifty logo. The brand comes from the consumer’s view”. The same goes for your reputation. Make sure you’re in control – not of what’s being said, but how you respond.  Monitor the social web to stay in control of right now!

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