The Era of Valuable Partnerships
- by Ghen Sugimoto
In an era of rising Cost Per Acquisition's partially driven from consumer distraction across many different media formats, it's time to form strong partnerships… deep strategic relationships between best-in-class vendors and marketers. Having been a Direct Response marketer for almost a decade myself along with many of my colleagues, its clear that those who have survived the financial crisis and will strive in the coming years are those who stay lean by choosing to build effective relationships. While it's easy to loose sight of the real business drivers, the marketers who remain focused on the value chain pieces they are good at, vet partners to do the rest, and implement easy-to-use systems to control the process cost-effectively will be the big winners.
What does Cost Per Acquisition really mean? It's the total sum of all costs associated with starting a new or perpetuating an existing customer/buyer relationship, including: effective production, strategic media placement, quality brand building, and high performing sales conversion. At Expert Planet we stay focused on the link in the value chain where we can drive the biggest results for our clients: expert high performing tele-service agents, best-in-class telephony services, and cloud based technology solutions. It takes all the pieces we do excellently combined with the other critical links in the chain to achieve overall campaign success.Nobody really remembers why a program is successful; they just remember that it was. Hence, if the phone rings and nobody picks up or the agent on the line isn't a professional sales person, trained and experienced at helping prospective customers buy rather then simply taking an order then the overall campaign suffers and vice versa. Do you have the best-in-class partners, are they performing optimally, and how can you work with them across the chain to be more profitable?
Without balance nothing can work well. Its easy for vendor partners to extend a friendly hand when a campaign is already a hit, but where are they when the campaign is testing? Whether the vendor partner is a media agency or a tele-services solution, it's important to have partners whom you can trust to give honest and straight forward guidance whether that means foregoing a short term gain to build a long-term profitable campaign where everybody wins. Expert Planet is highly selective with whom we choose to associate and we hope that our clients and partners scrutinize us just the same. We recommend only those whom we feel are at the top of their game and we continually challenge them to be better, just like we challenge our expert agents and professional team members internally.
Reporting and well-crafted metrics are pivotal to making good decisions and partnering wisely. Imagine driving a car without dashboard instruments, gauges or windows providing real-time data points used to make course corrections, speed adjustments and communications with other drivers. Expert Planet's proprietary SaaS technology suite includes ClarityTM, a real-time dashboard with up to the minute info so your team is driving with the most accurate and current data. Through our SaaS, or cloud based, Dynamic Unified Call Scripting Engine our agents see the same script regardless if they are sitting at home, working from a boutique call center or from your in-house office. This also means that change management becomes simple and error free: changes are deployed to all agents at the same time. And because the expert agents in our network enter the caller's data directly into our scripting engine there aren't any data compilation reporting errors or complicated call center management requirements.
What is SaaS? The software-as-a-service model gives marketers the latest updated software technology without the costly and frequently outdated hardware that in the past was needed in-house. With our platform as updates are available to the agents making sales for your campaign gain access to them regardless of where they sit. All they need is a good Internet connection, a computer and a headset. Again back to the importance of outsourcing the parts that make sense and owning the parts that make more money. Call center and tele-services are at our core… it's what we know and what we share with our clients.
Can we always have the best agent community at all times? Yes, but only because we also partner with hand selected, fully vetted, high quality, high performing boutique call centers whom we extend an invitation to be part of our community. In addition to our categorical expert agents, whether they be eBay power sellers who train other eBay sellers, or Direct Response fitness, beauty, skincare, home ware, ingestible, or any other campaign type our agents are supported by mid-level managers, trainers, schedulers, and quality screeners that together ensure high volume, best quality conversions.
Some programs require an IVR or drive to web, and we support those decisions when they make sense. That's why we've partnered with the best in the industry to give our clients a total solution with single source integrated reporting, unified invoicing and client services. Also, IVR callers and web surfers are people too, and when they get frustrated we offer the industry's best opt-out to expert live agent coordinated service to help them buy. When we advise our clients on strategies for allocating in-bound traffic to phone or web we believe both are critical; however, nothing beats a well-trained human sales person guiding the caller into the best-matched buying channel.
In the end the value of selecting the right relationships is the factor that sets apart winning programs from those that marginally survive or fail. The Expert Planet team and the vendor partners we are associated with are standing by to drive our Direct Response industry into 2014 and beyond.
I’ve used the Expert Planet platform for over a year now on several campaigns and have to say it’s made the process of managing multiple calls centers much easier and more efficient than any other system I’ve used in the past. Since all of the sales and telephony data is captured directly, only one media and fulfillment export is required rather than one for each call center… it’s as if I’m working with only one call center. This enables me to process orders more quickly and get media results on time rather than wait for all the call centers individually. But the true benefit is having the ability to monitor each call center “in real-time” through ClarityTM in a true apples-to-apples environment. In ClarityTM, one can build custom reports to suit their taste or use any of the standard reports. It’s truly a time saver! I can’t imagine managing multiple call centers the old fashion way ever again.
-Brian Sweeney, COO; Dynamic TV Marketing
"The team at Expert Planet is great to work with - they really understand the intricacies of what makes a DRTV campaign work and make sure those touch points are integrated into their telemarketing campaigns. The communication, feedback and solutions they provided were topnotch."
-Caitlin Cooper, Business Development Mgr; Cannella Response Television, LLC
"I've worked with Expert Planet for three years now and their ability to respond to our needs has been great. The flexibility we've experienced with the scripting system enables our agents to work quickly and make decisions that are in line with your needs. We have expanded our requirements and each time Expert Planet has met the needs of our business model with ease. I recommend working with Expert Planet for all your call center and technology needs."
-Desirea Hawley; Call Center & Marketing Coordinator; DirectBuy