push vs. pull marketing


Now, I know that the next few minutes of discussion will not resemble anything politically correct (not unusual right?) or mentally sound in the rational way that should be on topic, but I am noticing a growing trend that alarms me.  In many ways, I walk completely outside of society and their uptight rules.  Yes, hippy rebellion as it may sound…let people live and think without hurting each other.  Not so crazy, after all, I think that it could be argued that the Bible says something like that in several places. However, not to get too far off point, I am very obsessive about paying bills on time.  I own a business and nothing makes me angrier than to have to remind someone to pay their invoice.  So, in turn, I don’t want people having to remind me to pay my bills.  Fair is fair right?

In return, I do expect a certain amount of customer service.  Let’s be completely honest, I represent that ideal that customer service is essential and I seem to be the only one.  I have noticed a sliding trend of customer service in the past few months that makes me want to reach out to companies and say, “You know, I will pay more for good service.  Really!”  They really need the proverbial V8 slap to the back of the head.

Here are some of my mental money meanderings over the past month:

  • Language Barriers:  PLEASE don’t make me press one again to speak to someone in English.  If you can detect my name and address using caller ID, cant we please set my language preferences?  I would much rather tell you my name than have to listen to that damn 30 second introduction for the next 50 years of my life.
  • Language Barriers, part 2:  After I press one to speak to someone in English, transferring me to someone with an accent that is so thick I can not understand them DOES NOT count as speaking to someone in English.  It is very frustrating to continually say, “I am sorry, I can’t understand you.  Did you just ask me what I had for dinner last week?”  *grin*  Ok, so maybe it is not THAT bad, but you get the point!
  • Don’t call me:  What is up with companies that do not have a telephone number on their website or put it in an obscure place where you have to search all over the world wide webiverse?  (My word “webiverse”—I love it because it describes all of us who have a universe on the web!).  Enough already…give me a break and let me call you with my question.  We will all be happier when I finally find it.
  • At the beep:   Even better, large companies that keep bankers hours on staffing their phone systems.  I swear, I called AT&T the other day (switched to Vonage because it will save me about $150 a month—I will let all know how that goes) to pay my last bill.  I received an automated voice that said they only staff the phones during 8-6, M-F.  Logically, that is when all phone issues occur right?  The phone company does not have people staffing the phone.  Yes…in my mind…that is right up there with a Catholics priests not being married but giving marriage advice!  Enuf said.
  • Charges to Pay:  Now, to make a payment online (which I used to love because it was fast and convenient!), you have to pay 3 days ahead of time.  Good enough, when I understand that the rules have changed, I can play the game.  But, I called to make a phone payment today to keep from being late and was told that there would be $15.95 phone payment charge.  Huh?  I could not believe.  Fast and easy is apparently gone the way of cost effective.  Never mind the fact that I don’t consider a 3 day lead way an acceptable time frame for an electronic payment, but now it costs extra if I want to pay them on time.
  • Check Please:  I find it incredibly irritating when I make an electronic payment that requires me to void a check.  I don’t consider it unreasonable.  Electronic payment is supposed to keep me from needing the check.  Do they know how much checks cost these days?  And, the security risk of tearing it up (we shred—but anyways)….throwing it away is just a huge waste of my money.
  • ATMs hold ups:  When my ATM is down (and the next ATM is about 25 miles away), I have to use another bank.  For this, I get charged an incredible fee, as much as 25% of the ATM transaction between both banks, because their equipment did not work.  Interesting version of customer service.  We charge you for our failure.  Its good to be the bank!
  • Resellers:  After noticing an amazing charge on my cell bill this month (I just got a new Blackberry), I called the company to discuss it.  I was told by their customer service that the store that I bought the product in only housed retailers.  They were sales people on commission.  If I wanted services turned off or on, then I needed to call the customer service branch of the company because the sales people were only there to make sales.  Now, I am not naïve by a long shot.  But, it seems to me that if you put a large sign on the building, all of the guys in the place have your logo on them, and they tot business cards with your name, then you carry some liability for what they say.  I was advised to go to the store and discuss it with the Manager.  Uh huh… right after he had just told me not to trust their representatives that were in there.  When did businesses STOP backing up what their employees say?  More over, when is it ok to be ok with saying….”You should never trust one of our representatives.”  Guess I those guys selling cell phones on street corner with a side of crack really do have the right idea…they are training to work for my cell phone company!
  • Special Honors Note:  Here is a little tidbit that I found out by calling the bank after putting a meal on my debit card and noticing it exceeded the ticket amount by a large margin (so much I noticed it!).  The bank informed me that merchants are allowed to charge up to 30% of your sale OVER the amount of the sale (yes…in addition to your sales price) and hold it until your sale clears the bank.  The ticket is electronically submitted to the bank and the bank refunds the money back into your account. 

              

*At this point, I said….”what if the money is not recredited to my account or the ticket is not submitted as I signed it?  You have allowed them to take money from my account without my consent.”

**Answer:  “That does not happen.” 

Let me give you a little background.  In Tampa in January of this year, I took a few people to lunch.  The restaurant is a national chain that will remain nameless (but it does have a big pepper on the sign!) and I was charged three separate times for the same meal.  The bank had let all three transactions clear.  I caught it and reported it.  It happens and your bank is NOT there to protect you.  Protect yourself.

Ranting over…I have been meaning to go down this road for several weeks because it has been collecting in my brain.  I don’t feel like I am asking TOO MUCH….I mean, I pay my bills on time and I consider myself a logical human being.  I guess that might be the problem.  Logical human beings don’t get very far in the universe….so, I took it to my “webiverse.” 

Money, as the Bible says, is NOT the root of all evil.  The root of all evil is bad customer service and terrible business practices.  If you are guilty of any of these OR something that is driving your customer crazy, all the great marketing in the world will not help you! ~~Dee

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For just a moment, let’s put aside the issue of whether or not blog marketing works.  It does.  There is no argument there really…just denial on the part of those unwilling to step into the new age of blogging and reach for the market of the internet generation.  We have short attention spans (so I am told!) and highly creative ways of reaching each other through identifying ourselves with our media.  Literally, I blog therefore I am!

But, all that rant aside, there is another issue that I am continually face with in my marketing efforts.  Before I throw this into the dark void of the blogosphere, let me say that I UNDERSTAND that what I am going to say goes against EVERY marketing genius and theorist on the subject of blog marketing.  Gotcha!  In return for my confession, I want everyone who reads this to understand two things about great online blog marketing:

  • It does not follow the pack of what everyone is doing.
  • When a better way is discovered, you do it.

Now, rinse and repeat until these things are deeply rooted into your mind because there will be a comprehension test at the end!

The argument revolves around the ideas of push vs. pull marketing.  If you are not quite hip to what I am saying it means quite simply that with some marketing methods require you to push the materials out to the marketplace to reach your audiencePull marketing is just the opposite in that your marketing efforts pull your audience to you through viral methods like email campaigns, social book marking, and networking.

Ok…here is our visual for the post.  If someone said to you that:

  • You could get office space on a country road not visible on any map without you placing huge signs to lead visitors, or…
  • For the same price, you can have this great office space located in the middle of a high traffic area of Main Street.

Which would you want?  If your answer is the office space on the dirt country road, you are in the wrong place…the Marketing Goddess is not for you!  You might need one of those marketing companies with low output and high prices that should come with a free mental examination.

The problem is that I am really strong with the customer service.  I do hand-holding better than anyone in the game (clean hands are even FREE! *smile*).  I understand that marketing is a scary thing for businesses…it’s an investment.  But, the other “experts” that constantly tell me about the books they have read that say that a blog should be kept in a private space, like as part of a website, to increase website traffic.  <deep breath>

We need to rage against this type of mythology!  While a blog can be an excellent marketing tool to drive traffic to a website, the website MUST be functioning and highly SEO-ed to stand alone.  Last thing you want to do is hide an incredible marketing tool behind a website that can not rank on its own.

Further, when you remove a blog from a public space, like Blogger or WordPress (my personal favorite), you effective take it out of the blogosphere circle where people can stumble across you.  Plus, using your SEO tactics on your blog and tagging system (not offered by most private blogs) you are enabling your blog to live on Main Street.  When your blog is on your private space, you have to do lots of blog marketing to get your message out.

Here’s some case study info for you:

  • Blog#1—90 posts, 30 relevant comments, 4068 visits over 5 months, PR5, ranked under 630K in technorati
  • Blog #2—25 posts, 7 relevant comments, 178 visits over 3 weeks (too early for PR)
  • Blog #3—35 posts, 13 relevant comments, 768 visits over 1 month (too early for PR)
  • Blog #4—7 posts, 8 relevant comments, 1094 visits over 1 month (too early for PR)
  • Blog #5—9 posts (very erratic!  Yes….here!), 19 relevant comments

Ready for the big one?

  • Blog #6—104 posts, 709 relevant comments, 37382 visits in 5 months, PR6, ranked under 150K in technorati

All of these sites have three things in common:  all public blogs, all highly successful and SEO-ed, all brining traffic back to the primary website.

The main counter argument seems to be there is a “.wordpress” (or .blogger) in the URL.  With today’s world of hidden linkage, why would anyone let what works stand in their way? 

The one truth that I have heard over and over again is that content is KING.  True that, but where the content is located is a matter of marketing companies that have control issues.  I guide companies’ everyday on how to reach an audience using a blog.  I don’t intend to argue with the big guys or their armies of followers about the whys of blogging in a public forum as opposed to a private venue.

With a great marriage of SEO for your website and a steady blog approach, there is NO reason to sweat sales on that country road when you can have what you built a website and blog to achieve.  A marketing tool that stays home to gather traffic (website) and your marketing tool (blog) that goes out into the world to invite people home!

Consider this:  I don’t market the Marketing Goddess blog.  You (and hundreds more people) found me somehow!
 

This will be my last post for 2007.  I am on my way to Tampa and New Orleans for the holidays.  Happy Christmas and Merry New Year!  Here is to a profitable and successful new year!

If you have questions, comments, or emotional outburst….well, that is why I am here! ~~Diana, Marketing Goddess