How to expand brand reach using the web (it's easier than you think)

May 25, 2011

Traditional crowd sourcing techniques

Speaking with top customers � Having the sales group talk to the top customers can be effective. But it always shocks you when a large customer says how much they love you one day, then turns around the next day and tells you, "By the way, we are going to source our product overseas." Say goodbye to half your business and start managing your recovery.

Phone calls to current customers � This method can work, but so many people have become jaded about phone surveys. You can sneak in quick surveys by asking your customer service reps to casually ask their customers questions. However, this method might leave you with a nagging feeling that you are annoying your customers or getting rushed answers.

In-person surveys � These do work, especially if you pair incentives with them. My wife and I enjoy going to one of the local restaurants because they inevitably offer to let us take a survey. Most of the time, we get money off the next meal or a free appetizer. Is it the best use of the marketing budget? You decide.

Trade shows - Are an opportunity to hear what people are saying about you --- good or bad. I always ask myself at the end of the show, as I am rubbing my feet and back, what the value of the feedback at the beginning of the show is versus the end, since I am certain the customers feel as tired and rushed as I do.

CSR feedback � Can be good. Although many times what you hear are the complaints, it is nice to hear about the things you are doing well.

All five approaches are still used today and have their value You would do well, however, to seriously consider extending the reach of your brand monitoring to the internet. Christy will introduce you to one method we use here at Lightning Labels to monitor our brand online.

James Lowry is the general manager of Lightning Labels, an all-digital label printer in Denver, CO, USA. He is a 25-year veteran of the printing industry with experience in digital, flexo, offset, and commercial printing.

Monitor your brand online
Finding out what internet users think about you is more important than ever. If you have been reluctant to extend your brand monitoring efforts to the internet, you should know that it won't eat up a lot of your time and budget if you know what tools to use. In this respect, the barrier to entry is much lower than traditional brand monitoring techniques such as conducting phone surveys and attending trade shows. Online brand monitoring is also one of the easiest, discreet methods to size up the competition.

One of the online tools we use is Google Alerts. It's free and it's effective. Here's how to leverage this tool to start monitoring your brand (and your competition, if you wish) online:
1. Go to the Google Alerts home page at
2. In the "Search terms" field, enter your brand name (e.g., Best Labels Ever).
3. Leave the "Type" pull-down menu selection as "Everything."
4. Choose "How Often" you wish to receive an alert. I recommend "As-it-happens" so that you can respond to any inquiries for order and manage potential public relations disasters sooner rather than later.
5. Leave the "Volume" selection as "All results."
6. Fill in your email to have results send directly to your in-box.
7. Click "Preview Results," to the right of the Search Terms field if you want to see what you will get.
8. Click the "Create Alert" button.
9. Finally, if you have elected alerts to go directly to your email inbox, a confirmation will be sent there. Follow the instructions to up your first Google Alert. If you have decided to send alerts to your Google Reader account, you can skip this step. After you complete Step 8, alerts will automatically be sent as a feed for your brand name to your Google Reader account.

Set up several additional alerts to assist you in monitoring your brand, including misspellings of the name, variations of your website address, and the names of prominent figures in your company.

Using Google Alerts is also an excellent way to monitor your competition and find out what types of products online users are satisfied with, unhappy with, or would like to purchase. To accomplish this, set up alerts using search terms for your competitors, and the products you sell or are thinking about selling.

Google Alerts is only one of many online tools available to help
you monitor your brand, and it is free. A few paid tools that include brand monitoring features are Hootsuite, HubSpot, and Raven Tools.

Christy Correll is the online marketing specialist at Lightning Labels, where sales are driven primarily through eCommerce activities.
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