Monday, June 07, 2010

Script Your Outbound Communications

Last Time I talked about filtering your inbound communications. This is critical to functioning as the world around us goes faster and faster.

It is also very handy to automate your outgoing communications. There are three primary types of automated outbound communications, but there are certainly many more. The primary examples are:

- Automated Responses

- Automated Marketing and Social Media

- Outsourced Outbound Communications

Automated Responses

The most obvious automated response is the Outlook "Out of Office" reply. Someone sends an email and ZAP, they get a reply. You can use this or similar tools for all kinds of purposes. People can send an email to receive a free report, join an email list, and so forth.

You can also automate many other responses. The automation might be by computer or by a standard procedure within you office. If your assistant is doing the "automated" response, you'll need to provide a series of email communication templates. For example, when an account goes past due, a standard form email is much better than letting someone craft a new email each time. This bring consistency to your process.

All of the PSA systems now have automated responses when tickets are created. You can also send emails whenever time is added, notes are added, or the status has changed. We don't go that far because we don't want to spam clients. Most of them don't care that we have a really cool tracking system. Is it done or not done? That's what matters.

But when the job IS done, we send the automated response asking for feedback.

Automated Marketing and Social Media

I have an elaborate series of autoresponders I use for trickle marketing of my business. These fall into the category of "Hey, just one more thing you might be interested in." No hard pressure sales. Drip drip drip.

One a very simple scale, my weekly email is scheduled to go out every Sunday night/Monday morning at Midnight Pacific time, 3am Eastern. This forces me to finish the newsletter on a regular schedule and allows me to relax and go to sleep because I know it will magically go out in the middle of the night.

I remember one time I was at a conference and about a dozen of us were sitting around a poker table. Suddenly everyone looked at their cell phones and commented that they had just received an email from me. I don't remember what time zone I was in, but it was somewhere between midnight and three AM. :-)

On social media, there are a number of fancy tools to schedule your tweets, Facebook feeds, etc. These need to be used carefully so you don't become a spammer. But if you have an up-coming event, it makes perfect sense to post notices on a regular basis leading up to the event. But follow these simple rules: 1) Don't over-do it. 2) Don't repeat the exact same message every time.

When I add someone to my Twitter feed I immediately go to my home page on Twitter (yes, my most common method for using Twitter). If it is overwhelmed with that person's posts every three seconds, I remove the new person I just added. Lesson: If you make a communication medium unusable for someone, it reduces your effectiveness.

Outsourced Outbound Communications

Write this down. You saw it here first.

A HUGE growth industry over the next few years will be outsourced Social Media Management. In other words, you pay a service to manage your twitter feeds, Facebook profile, fan pages, and so forth. Sounds stupid? Write me a check and I'll explain it to you.

Once a year someone throws a three inch thick paper book on your doorstep. You immediate pick it up and place it in the recycle bin. That's called a Yellow Pages Book. This year, before you throw it out, take a look through it.

Depending on where you live, you might pay $1,000 to $5,000 a MONTH to have an ad in that book. A small ad. Think about the people who have big ads. Who has ads in this book? People who 1) Need new clients and 2) Have money to spend to get those clients.

And those poor folks are in businesses that have to serve as many markets as they can. So they're not just in one Yellow Pages book, they're in many. It is very common for these folks to be spending $50,000 or $100,000 or $250,000 a year on Yellow Pages Advertising.

So . . . along comes someone who offers up daily activity online, a "personal" touch, constant twitter feeds, Facebook activity, etc. For only $40,000 a year!!! This is a great bargain and makes sense for everyone involved. Except the Yellow Pages.

Right now, the people offering these services are charging WAY TOO LITTLE. Like nothing. Like almost free. Stupid cheap. But soon they will figure out that they are the hottest marketing agent around.

Of course it will also be done very poorly by many. And that makes it easier for people who have a system to raise the prices and measure return on investment. Those who outsource will also become more sophisticated. That will raise prices as well. So just like the computer business, there will be people at all levels in the same market. Each price point will find clients.

And it's all good if you know where you stand.

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1 comment:

  1. Wow what a trip to think that there will be structured sets of online identity curators. Makes sense! Maybe team facebook will even generate a certification path for budding consultants bent on pruning the ever growing bonsai tree that has become our multifaceted digital life.


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