How do you grow a company that has value and wealth in the eyes of your customers, partners, and potential investors or buyers?
At a recent event, I met Lisa Nirell, chief energy officer of EnergizeGrowth and author of Energize Growth Now: The Marketing Guide to a Wealthy Company.
Lisa brings tons of experience working with companies like Sony, Microsoft, BMC Software and Oppenheimer funds in helping maximize performance, attract great clients and reach their full value potential.
I interviewed Lisa about some of the ways companies can boost their wealth.
This complementary audio interview highlights…
- How companies have to grow differently than they did 10 years ago
- 7 criteria of a wealthy company
- Building wealth in the eyes of your customers and employees
- Questions to ask customers to help you work toward greater value
- How she uses her own success "sound bites" when on the phone with prospects
Running time: 23 minutes
No registration required.
Ever played a carnival horse racing game?
To get your mechanical horse to move forward toward the finish line, you have to roll a ball into little holes, hoping to consistently hit the top hole and make your horse go faster than the others.
The ball keeps coming back to you and you have to roll it as fast as possible again to keep your horse moving.
It usually takes 8-10 rolls to get to the finish line.
Likewise, customer case study projects usually take 8-10 steps to get them over the finish line.
At any given time, I've got case studies or success stories in every phase of the cycle, from gathering initial background to securing final customer signoff.
It feels like this horse race game - inching forward one step at a time. Sometimes the race is fast and easy, and other times long and frustrating.
What can you do to keep the horse moving?
Keep the ball moving
It's about never sitting on the ball. When the ball comes back to you, act on the next step as soon as possible. I know it's hard when you have so many projects in the works but try to keep it moving.
That means setting up interviews as soon as you can, in case contacts are about to travel or about to start a major project. Integrate edits or change requests and shoot the story back to reviewers. Answer questions or concerns from customers quickly.
Ask whether customers will be out of the office at any time in the near future. Sometimes you can't change your project schedule but maybe you can.
You might be able to move a project up to avoid sending the customer a case study for review just as they're leaving on a big vacation.
Set expectations early
When you start a project, let customers know if you'll need it for a specific opportunity like a trade show or event and get their feedback on whether it's doable on their end. You might remind them throughout the process about that target date.
If this specific customer can't meet those deadlines, choose another for your upcoming opportunity and come back to the first customer at a better time for him or her.
Be persistent but also sensitive to the fact that customers have their jobs to do as well.
One step at a time, your projects get ever closer to that finish line. Keep them moving!
A few months ago, Michael Stelzner (the guy who wrote the book on white papers) approached me about being a contributor to a new site he was founding, Social Media Examiner.
Since then, I've had the chance to feature social media case studies on companies like IBM, Domino's Pizza and Avaya.
But the Social Media Examiner site itself is one of the best case studies I've seen in social media.
Michael relied 100% on social media tactics to drive traffic to his site.
In less than 5 months, he was declared the #1 small business blog in the world by Technorati, added more than 13,000 email subscribers, brought nearly 100,000 people a month to his site and is ranked as one of the top 4700 websites in all of America by Alexa.
He didn't advertise, didn't rely on the press and almost none of his traffic is coming from search engines.
LEARN FROM THE BEST
The guy who brought us Social Media Examiner is also running the world's biggest online social media event coming up, called Social Media Success Summit 2010.
Last year, nearly 1000 marketers and small business owners from around the world attended the summit. It was a smash hit. In fact, 97% of attendees said they'd attend again.
Twenty-four of the world's leading social media superstars will be summit instructors.
Join Guy Kawasaki (author, Art of the Start), Chris Brogan (author, Social Media 101), Darren Rowse (author, ProBlogger), Mari Smith (author, Facebook Marketing), experts from Best Buy, Home Depot, Whole Foods, FoursquareGroupon; Steve Rubel (Edelman), Ann Handley (MarketingProfs), Brian Clark (Copyblogger), Greg Jarboe (author, YouTube and Video Marketing), Kim Dushinski (author, Mobile Marketing Handbook), Jason Falls (Social Media Explorer), Jay Baer (Convince & Convert), and Ramon De Leon (Chicago Domino's Pizza)—just to mention a few. Together this team of "who's who" in social media will help you succeed using practical tactics.
And the great news is it's a live online conference you can attend from your home or office.
WHAT'S IN IT FOR YOU?
It's a chance to really figure out HOW to use social media for business. This year's focus is to empower you to build social media marketing plans, track your social media results and learn from other successful businesses.
Not only can you gain amazing exposure for your business with social media marketing, you'll also generate traffic, increase sales, gain qualified leads and build new partnerships.
Social Media Success Summit 2010 will also highlight how successful social media campaigns were executed and how you can achieve similar results.
You'll also join a community of like-minded women and men who'll share their experiences and wisdom.
Act now to get 50% off.
Michael's also giving away a gift just for marketers called "How to Grow and Engage an Audience on Twitter" (valued at $42) as a way of saying "thanks" for checking out the summit.
I'm excited to announce today that Stories That Sell: Turn Satisfied Customers into Your Most Powerful Sales and Marketing Asset has won Gold in the Advertising/Marketing/PR/Event Planning category of the 2010 Axiom Business Book Awards.
This week, Jenkins Group Inc. announced the results of the second annual, 2010 Axiom Business Book Awards, designed to honor the year's best business books and their authors and publishers.
The Axiom Business Book Awards are intended to bring increased recognition to exemplary business books and their creators, with the understanding that business people are an information-hungry segment of the population, eager to learn about great new books that will inspire them and help them improve their careers and businesses.
Stories That Sell, authored by Casey Hibbard and published by AIM Publishers, introduces a proven process for leveraging customer success stories into new sales. It offers Success-Story Marketing™ best practices from me on creating and managing customer stories, with insight from organizations such as Sage Software, SAP, Toyota, Kronos, Amdocs, Make-A-Wish Foundation, and dozens of other businesses, independent consultants, and nonprofits.
Kudos also to my friend and fellow writer Peter Bowerman for winning Silver in the Business Reference category for his The Well-Fed Writer: Financial Self-Sufficiency as a Commercial Freelancer in Six Months or Less. Peter is a multiple award winner for his Well-Fed series of books, which I highly recommend.
If you've done your share of case study interviews, you've encountered one of the trickiest subjects:
The person who answers each question with as few words as possible.
He parcels out words carefully and stingily as if each one costs a dollar to use.
It's not that your subject is being deliberately evasive or isn't happy with the product or service; it's usually just the personality. Most likely, he's just not comfortable being interviewed.
How do you deal with an "undertalker?"
1. First, consider whether this person is actually your best interview subject. If he's the only person who can really speak to the topic, then proceed. Sometimes, it makes sense to interview someone else or more than one subject to get strong details and engaging quotes.
Some companies even choose case studies based on how vocal the customer is about the product or service.
2. If you are interviewing the undertalker, reassure him that you'll make this as easy as possible, and that nothing will be published without his prior review.
3. Finally, gradually ease the information out.
You may need to ask each question several different ways to get the answer. It helps to be as specific as possible - especially with getting measurable results.
Think of yourself as a detective searching for the answers you need.
Sample interview excerpt:
Interviewer: At what points are you realizing time-savings with the solution?
Customer: It saves us quite a bit of time throughout the day.
Interviewer: What are some of the daily tasks that the solution streamlines for you?
Customer: It really helps by automating administrative tasks.
Interviewer: Which administrative tasks does it automate?
Customer: The process of converting quotes to orders.
Interviewer: How did you handle this process before, and how do you do it now with the solution?
Customer: Before, we typed the information twice.
Interviewer: How long did it take before to convert a quote to an order?
Customer: It took about 15 minutes per order before.
Interviewer: How long does it take now?
Customer: It's instant. We click a button and it converts the quote to an order.
Interviewer: About how many orders do you process per week or month?
Customer: About 30 a month.
Interviewer: So, you save nearly a full workday just on that one administrative task now? That's great.
Each question gets increasingly more detailed until the customer finally offers some specific information.
Sometimes you just have to keep asking to get what you need. However, pay attention to the customer’s responses and ease up if it seems as though he is frustrated with the line of questioning or doesn’t know the answers.
You may not have powerful or colorful quotes, but you've got solid information with which to build an effective case study.
How do you handle undertalkers?