The Secret Sauce to Making Your Number in 2017 in a Hassle-free, Predictable Way

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This workbook is for executive leadership teams inside of companies with aggressive revenue growth goals, who have a lot on the line, and can’t afford to waste time. If this describes you, sign up on the right and download now. Why? This workbook will significantly increase the probability of you making your number in 2017.How? It teaches you the emerging best practices from the world’s top growth leaders. These are leaders in the top 22%, those who consistently grow their revenues faster than their competitors, and faster than their industries.

Spotlight

The Martin Group

The Martin Group is a leading integrated communications firm headquartered in downtown Buffalo with offices in Rochester and Albany, NY. The firm works with best-in-class organizations ranging from small businesses to global enterprises and has extensive experience in several categories, including sports, health care, financial services, food and beverage, and not-for-profits. In 2016, The Martin Group was named one of WNY’s Top Private Companies and the 2nd Fastest Growing Company in WNY by Buffalo Business First.

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Earth Day 2021: How influencers and brands can restore our planet

Article | April 21, 2021

If the last few years has taught us anything, it’s that sustainability needs to become a focus within all of our lives – and it has, and is continuing to become ever-more prominent. Everybody is taking more responsibility for the impact they have on the environment, and now, social media influencers are using their platform for the greater good and are encouraging their audiences to take more care, too. Social media is becoming less focused on materialistic items, and is beginning to turn its attention to making an impact on the things that really matter. And what’s more important than the world we live in? From fashion to food and travel, social media influencers are the voice of Gen-Z, and with Earth Day approaching on April 22, the theme is Restore Our Earth, which is the mission of many online influencers. Here, Amelia Neate, Senior Manager at Influencer Matchmaker, shares a few influencers that will help you in your journey to live a more sustainable, eco-friendly lifestyle. Fashion Fashion is an industry that is traditionally known for not being all that economical or sustainable, however times are changing, and so are brands and their consumers, as #sustainablefashion has been used more than 10.5 million times on Instagram alone. Fashion influencers such as Em Sheldon and Charlie Irons are investing in timeless classics and wardrobe staples as opposed to trend-driven pieces that will only be worn for one season of the year. Whilst more expensive, these items are made and bought to last – for decades. Particularly for items such as coats, shoes and outerwear – all of which are often designed with durability and versatility in mind. So, it is great to see influencers such as Em and Charlie using their large followings to promote a more positive and sustainable way of enjoying fashion. Travel Upon first thought, travel isn’t the most sustainable of industries, however there are a few things we can do minimise the impact it can have on the environment as well as reducing our carbon footprint elsewhere. Parenting and travel bloggers Travel Mad Mum Karen, and Travel Mad Dad Shaun, understand how their travelling can be the cause of carbon concern. To balance out their air miles and emissions released by road trips, as a family they eat sustainably, reduce waste and ensure that they recycle and reuse all they can. In a previous campaign, Karen partnered with travel guidance brand ABTA to give her audience advice on making holidays greener. From educating children on recycling, through to combined travel such as taking trains or cycling, Karen and her family work hard to promote a sustainable, circular economy. Food Food waste is a huge problem on a global scale, so it is incredible to see social media influencers encouraging their followers to lead a zero-waste lifestyle. Matt, from Daddy Cooks Food and Bintu, from Recipes From a Pantry are two food influencers who are keen limit food waste and help contribute to a circular food economy. Regularly sharing organic and sustainable food products and services, both Matt and Bintu are making a green and sustainable contribution to the world we live in. Brands are also making a change It isn’t just social media influencers who are using their influential power and social media status to make a change, but brands, too. Brands are becoming increasingly aware of the everchanging needs of their consumers, many of which revolve around leading more sustainable lifestyles – starting with making conscious decisions when it comes to shopping habits. Consumers are now seeking multi-purpose packaging, reduced waste and environmentally-friendly materials and Robert Lockyer, founder of Delta Global, a sustainable packaging solutions provider for luxury fashion brands, explains how brands can achieve just that. “Whilst many brands are working hard to ensure their products are sustainable, many are forgetting to do the same for their packaging. “The packaging of the products is the first thing a consumer will see, and it is important for the packaging to uphold the same ethos and values as the products and the rest of the brand.” Robert also explains that removing plastic from packaging and reusing recycled materials is a great first step in the right direction. He says, “Gone are the days when parcels arrived full of single-use plastic. Whilst it’s no longer acceptable, it is also completely unnecessary as there are a variety of other materials that brands can use to keep products safe. “And where plastic is used, brands should ensure that it can be reused, repurposed and recycled.” So, this Earth Day, we urge brands and influencers alike to restore our planet; one post and one purchase at a time.

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2020 Is the Year of Digital Omnichannel. Here’s What You Need to Know

Article | April 21, 2021

It seems like just yesterday that the customer service industry began transitioning from a multichannel to an omnichannel mindset. It was a shift backed by data—lots of it. According to Marketing Week, 15 years ago the average consumer used two touchpoints when making a purchase and only 7% regularly used more than four. Today, consumers use an average of almost six touchpoints with nearly 50% regularly using more than four. But, a mindset shift is only part of the equation. For years, many companies struggled to cobble together the best customer experiences they could. They were sold on the idea of omnichannel engagement, but their operations didn’t back it up — what use are all the channels in the world if your customer’s story and data are kept in silos? Cut to everyone heralding the premature death of omnichannel. New buzzwords came out like “channel-less” and “harmonized retail” (for real). But these words all pointed to the same thing: the need for a CX solution that puts the customers above the channel, and harnesses technology to give agents the tools and visibility to deliver deeper customer care. Digital omnichannel is the next word in customer experience. Here’s what it means and how to put it to work. What is Digital Omnichannel? At its core, the digital omnichannel promise is simple; it means supporting customers effectively and cohesively across all digital channels. In customer service, digital omnichannel effortlessly blends digital touchpoints to form a unified view of the customer. Agents can view every interaction that a customer has had with the company, no matter the channel of origin, from a single console. This visibility lets them create a cohesive, deeply personalized customer profile that enables higher quality service. By combining the information gathered from channels like live chat, SMS, social media, and more with pre-existing data found in customer databases or CRM systems, companies can eliminate the blind spots and roadblocks that result from siloed customer service systems and channels for a frictionless and more successful customer journey. Why Adopt Digital Omnichannel? In theory, digital omnichannel aligns perfectly with the existing philosophies of many companies, which are to serve customers quickly, efficiently, and effectively. Here are some of the ways that digital omnichannel is helping companies meet their customer service goals and drive operational efficiency: 1. Optimized agent capacity For agents, digital omnichannel engagement means simpler customer communication and greater ease of use. No more social media queries getting sent to the marketing team, who then emails them to customer service. No more shared inboxes. With a unified view of the customer across all channels, agents can resolve queries more easily, increasing their overall capacity. 2. Increased customer satisfaction Customers expect agents to have access to their whole story when they reach out for support. According to a survey conducted by UBM, 75% of participants cited having to repeat themselves as their biggest issue when communicating with a brand. With digital omnichannel, agents have both the tools and the context they need to satisfy customers and improve KPIs such as first contact resolution rate (FCR) and average handle time (AHT). 3. Reduced costs Improving customer satisfaction can indeed increase revenue—but it can also reduce costs. According to McKinsey, brands that improve the customer journey see their revenue increase by 10 to 15% while also lowering costs by 15 to 20%. 4. Increased agent satisfaction When a channel becomes secondary to the customer experience, it also becomes secondary to the agent experience. According to McKinsey, companies that invest in their customer experience also see an improvement in employee engagement by 20% on average. How Do You Adopt Digital Omnichannel? Once you understand digital omnichannel, the next step is to devise a plan to put it into action. There are three practical steps to building your plan: 1. Identify your channels At this point, chances are you already know which channels your customers want and expect (not sure? Ask them). Here are the top digital channels we recommend: • Live chat • Ticketing and email • SMS/Messaging • Social media • Knowledge base • Chatbots These channels cover both your real-time and “anytime” communication bases. They also provide enough self-support cushion to take the pressure off your agents in times of high-volume or after-hours support requests. 2. Create a digital roadmap for your customers’ journey Once you have selected your channels, it’s time to create your customer experience map. Ask yourself who your customers are, where they are coming from, and what actions you want them to take. Break down your key milestones and consider how you can guide your customers through those milestones using your various digital touchpoints and channels. Consider the role of your website, social channels, live chat, knowledge base, mobile chat, and more, in moving your customer from awareness to loyalty. With digital omnichannel, you will be able to effortlessly watch them move through these stages as you collect data on their engagements. 3. Choose your technology Like omnichannel before it, digital omnichannel is little more than a nice theory unless your operations back it up. So, how do you make your customer service operations digital omnichannel-friendly? You don’t want to spend resources trying to cobble it together yourself because that will introduce a technical price that isn’t worth it. The ideal digital omnichannel solution will integrate with your other core business systems, including CRM, and will scale as your company grows and new technologies and channels are introduced. Agent Assist is the perfect tool to optimize agent efficiency and productivity whilst ensuring accuracy every time. Agent Assist monitors your live chats, understands the questions being asked, and suggests the answers from your knowledge base, canned messages and chatbot intents. Within a double-click of the mouse, your agent can choose and send the most relevant answer. Fast, accurate and easy. The right solution should also have top-notch routing, prioritization, and analytic capacities. Tools such as intelligent routing ensure that your customer’s inquiry gets to the right person at the right time, with the flexibility you need to define your own unique routing procedures. Being able to segment your customers your way—by geography, historical sales, industry, and more—will further help you offer a more specialized and effective customer service program. On the analytics side, you’ll want to be able to set the right KPIs, keep close tabs on them, and learn from what’s going on so you can tweak and improve how you’re delivering. Conclusion A great customer experience isn’t merely about implementing more channels. It’s about making it easier for your customers to contact you when and where they want. It’s about how the stories gathered across those channels are appropriately unified. And it’s about equipping your agents with everything they need to create an ongoing cycle of deeper customer understanding and better service Take your time to research an effective digital omnichannel solution that matches your needs, and to carefully plan out your digital customer journey. You can’t cut corners when building a great customer experience. Fortunately the rewards of thoughtful and well-implemented digital omnichannel engagement will last for years to come.

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Forget What I Said: DIY Websites Are a Bad Idea

Article | April 21, 2021

When you’re an expert in something, you forget that not everyone else is. Because website content, user experience and design best practices are like second nature to me, I now realize I was wrong about DIY websites. They are not a good idea. Unless you are in marketing, don’t do it. You’ll make a mess. This year, I’ve worked with a few companies who insisted on updating their websites with the new copy I created for them. These are brilliant companies lead by brilliant people who are leaders in their field. They are phenomenal clients, and I respect them tremendously. But their websites are just … wow. And not in a good way. Why DIY websites are a bad idea Would you do your own dental work? Install and landscape a pool? Replace your home’s wiring and bring it up to code? Now, some smart asses out there would say yes. Dentists, professional pool installers and electricians would say yes. But you get the idea. The crux of my argument is: Leave it to the experts. And yes, I do realize that there are some amazing DIY website platforms out there. They were specifically created to help non-experts build a web presence. But these platforms don’t let you color outside the lines, so to speak. Once you start changing the design of the theme or template, you are headed into wow-not-in-a-good-way territory. The most common mistakes DIYers make The biggest mistakes fall into three categories: content, user experience and design. Content mistakes The number one content mistake I see is what I refer to as “inward-facing” copy. It’s about the company, not the client. Instead of speaking directly to the clients’ needs and saying, “We do this for you,” it’s more like, “We do this.” It’s very me, me, me and we, we, we. Which is a big no, no, no. Your clients don’t care what you do. They care what you can do for them. A lot of companies also write way too much, bunching words in dense paragraphs that no one is going to slog through. And because it’s so hard to write about yourself, messaging tends to be fuzzy. Essential elements, like calls-to-action, are often missing as well. The list goes on, but if you add up just the above, you are left with a website that doesn’t make a good impression. And that leads me to user experience. User experience mistakes User experience, also known as UX, is an important niche within web design. Without a good UX, your bounce rate (how quickly people leave your website) will be very high. (And yes, I know I’m a copywriter, but I have to understand UX to write good web copy.) Most UX mistakes that DIYers make have to do with navigation. For example, I see content broken out into too many pages. Instead of grouping a company’s history, approach, mission and values on one page, each of these topics get their own page. I don’t know of anyone who will patiently click through four pages of a website to learn this essential company information. Good UX also ensures each page is a “closed loop,” aka, web visitors never hit a dead end. They can always navigate to another page from the page they’re on, whether it’s a contact form, a case study or a blog post. This ensures they always have more to do (and it keeps them on your website, which is a good thing). Web design mistakes Even though I was super into art when I was young, I never in a million years would attempt to design a website. It’s an art and a science. Good web design uses different (but corresponding) fonts, colors and sizes to vary the texture of the copy. It also sizes and aligns images just right, adds contrasting blocks to signal you’re in a new section of content and keeps your eyes engaged and the brand visually coherent. This is a tough balancing act that requires excellent graphic design skills. As I alluded to above, I don’t mess around with it. If I did, my website would look like a first grader designed it. And that’s not exactly the vibe I want to give off. So now what? If you’re now thinking, “Oh crap, I wonder if my website is a POS,” I suggest hiring a marketing agency to do a website audit of your front end (what web visitors see) and back end (the configuration and apps that are running your site). You might find out that your website only needs a few tweaks to. Or, you might find out it needs a full overhaul. Either way, you’ll end up with a more functional website that better serves your clients. At the end of the day, it’s all about them anyway.

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How to Run the Perfect Event Marketing Plan

Article | April 21, 2021

Geotargeting, also known as location-based marketing, allows your company to laser in on the right personas you want to attend your event, with the ability to choose people who live and work in the specific location where your event is being held. Prior to launching an event, you should lock in on the segment of people you want to invite to it. These people should be based in the same geographic region as the event and be the target audience your event is appealing to.

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Spotlight

The Martin Group

The Martin Group is a leading integrated communications firm headquartered in downtown Buffalo with offices in Rochester and Albany, NY. The firm works with best-in-class organizations ranging from small businesses to global enterprises and has extensive experience in several categories, including sports, health care, financial services, food and beverage, and not-for-profits. In 2016, The Martin Group was named one of WNY’s Top Private Companies and the 2nd Fastest Growing Company in WNY by Buffalo Business First.

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