Part 1 of 4
In today’s episode, we’re going to be talking about using Skype as a marketing tool for your business. Every successful businessperson has certain ways they do things, from the way they pack their bags when they’re planning to go on an international trip to the way they prepare their sales presentations, to the way they communicate with their customers and their co-workers. Finding ways to effectively communicate with others is at the heart of almost all of their success.
Many of us have developed our go-to ways of communicating, be it email, our smartphones – and for me one of the big tools that I utilize is Skype. Now I know that a number of people know Skype as being a tool for instant messaging and making long-distance telephone calls over the Internet. But Skype can be so much more than that.
Now I’ve been using Skype for several years now and I use it every single day all day. Now I know a lot of people are wondering, ‘How can you be using Skype that much?’ It’s not that I’m using it for instant messaging and to make long-distance telephone calls that much, but I use it for so many different things in my business, and that’s what I’m going to share with you in this podcast.
Now there is a lot of information to cover, so this may end up being a multi-part podcast. But stick with me: I think you’re going to learn a lot about how to use Skype as a marketing tool for your business and hopefully I’ll cover some areas that you haven’t previously thought of.
So let’s cover the basics first. Skype is at Skype.com You can download it and install it on your computer, install it on your smartphone, install it on your tablet and then – I’m not going to go over the basics of using Skype. What I’m going to be talking about is some advanced ways of taking Skype and using it as a business marketing tool.
Over the years, communications tools have come along and have revolutionized the way we do business. In the 19th century it was the telegraph, in the 20th century it was the telephone and in addition to that, in the 20th and the 21st century it’s been radio, television, satellites, the Internet, smartphones. We’re really breaking down the barriers of communication.
We went from a very difficult way to communicate over long distances to today – you can communicate over long distances as if the person was standing next to you. And Skype is at the heart of that kind of communication. Launched in 2003, Skype is a unique communication tool and I’m sure that initially it was launched to be that instant messaging competitor, to be that IP telephone or that long-distance Internet telephone solution. But it’s really evolved into a lot more.
With over 600 million users and over 150,000 new users every day, I think Skype is here to stay. Skype is so important to the landscape in communications that Microsoft actually purchased it a number of years ago. Skype is widely available on just about every platform. Every smartphone, every computer has a Skype app that you can have on it. Now, you can use your Skype app on your smartphone just as if you were making a regular telephone call.
I really think that Skype is just another social media tool. If you think about Facebook being kind of the shotgun approach – you take a message, you send it out there, it goes out to everybody – or Twitter – you put is out there and, you know, 140 characters – this would be Twitter without the 140 character limit. The big difference is both of those are shotgun marketing efforts, where you take one message and you blast it out to a bunch of people.
Skype is really more of a sniper rifle product. So you take a message and you send it out to a single person or to a single group or to a single targeted market. So it’s a highly targeted tool. A lot of educators use it for small group coaching, small group discussion, so it’s really if you think of Facebook and Twitter as being social media with a shotgun effect, think of Skype as being social media with a sniper rifle.
As a business communication tool, Skype makes a lot of sense, because not only is a free or low cost replacement for your telecom carrier, for your telephone service; it also gives you a broader range of capabilities, it gives you many of the smartphone type capabilities and in addition, when you’re away from Skype, it even has the features that many phone systems have for saving voicemail, recording audio voicemail, forwarding calls and all of those things that you’ve grown accustomed to in your telephone system or in your smart phone.
As a collaborative tool, Skype can also be used to host conferences, to even do webinar-type features or group conference-type features, where you can actually have everybody into a group, everybody on a call, and then share the screen and have it presented just like you’re on a webinar or at a presentation platform. And additionally, you have the ability to share files and open and look and view files online, while you’re in your Skype session as well.
And from a privacy perspective, Skype gives you the ability to keep yourself private, so you only share your Skype ID with the people that you want to have your Skype information and it is more difficult for people to get your personal and private information, more so than it is on some of the social media sites. Many of the social media sites share all your personal information. You do have some control over that, but many of them share that by default.
Skype is not that kind of platform. You need to actually approve every single person that is going to see your personal information before they see it. Skype keeps that identity private, so if you don’t want everybody to know who you are, you can keep your identity private on Skype to a greater degree than you can on the other social media platforms.
So as a business communications tool, I use Skype on a daily basis to communicate with my co-workers, with my customers, via text, via telephone call; even if it’s not a long distance call, it’s just a lot easier to text a message to somebody on Skype and if they respond and they’re available and you need to talk to them, you just push one button and boom! You’re on a call with them and you’re talking to them.
Versus texting them, finding out if they’re available and then picking up the phone and then dialing their number and then getting them on a physical phone, with Skype running, all you’ve got to do is push one button and it dials them automatically. So it makes it very convenient to use as a regular business tool.
I use it daily also to work with business partners, vendors and outsource workers, freelancers. Many of the freelancers that I use are not located near me, in Atlanta, Georgia. They are somewhere else in the US or somewhere else in the world, so I use Skype a lot to communicate with those freelancers that are working on various projects for me, so that we can continue to have ongoing daily, hourly conversations, without the limitations of how far apart we are.
And it’s pretty safe to say that I’ve shifted most of my business communication to Skype on a daily basis. I still use email, I still use my smartphone, obviously Skype is not as easy to use when you’re traveling, although you can use the app on your smartphone or on your tablet, but I’m not there yet, I’m not using that app to replace my smartphone, but I have all but replaced my office phone and even my email communications.
My email communications have gone down and my Skype communications have gone up and my smartphone text conversations have gone up, although I like Skype because it also tracks my text conversations as well, and I can go back and re-read the conversation that we had, so I can re-introduce myself to a conversation that we had previously, without having to ask you to repeat the conversation.
And even though Skype is now starting to charge a little bit for some types of international calls, I still think Skype is one of the most effective and least expensive business communication tools out there. And I want to talk about not just using Skype as you would expect to use Skype. I’m going to go over a number of ways I use Skype that are a little bit different than what everybody else is doing. Let’s talk about using Skype as a networking tool, as a business networking tool.
You know, back in the day, if you wanted to network with other business professionals, often times you would go and meet them for breakfast, you know, at a coffee shop, or you would go to a conference and everybody, you know, would show up at a certain time, put on their name tags and often times we’d have a presenter, there would be a little meeting greet, everybody would get to know each other, pass our business cards – and that’s taking up all your time physically being at that conference to be able to make those connections.
And you can only make connections with the people that are at that conference. The other people that you wanted to connect with, they didn’t go to the conference and obviously you weren’t able to make that connections. So you end up having to go to a lot of these coffee shop meetings and conference meetings to be able to network with other business professionals.
But with Skype, you can business network in minutes, with not just one or two people, but as many people as you want to be able to reach out to – 5, 10, 100, just depending on how much time you’re willing to put in, finding out how to reach out to those people. Often times, if you go and visit that person that you want to connect with, you visit their website, you visit their LinkedIn page, you visit their Facebook page, you’ll often times see a Skype address listed.
If you don’t see one listed, you can often take their name and search in Skype along with their location and find them in Skype as well. When you find them in Skype, you just type them a quick little note, tell them that you’d like to make a connection or if you’ve got something relevant, specifically something that you want to ask them or if you want to interview them or if you’d like to meet with them, you type in your little message and send it off to them and then they’ll approve or not approve the ability for you to communicate.
I’ve done this. I would say that less than 1% of the people that I’ve ever reached out to have ever denied a connection with me on Skype. And it’s not like a connection on LinkedIn or Facebook, where you get the connection and then you send them a message and then you’re part of their group or you’re part of their fan-base. In Skype, it’s just a one-to-one connection. They’ve got your connection out, they can see who you are and you’ve got a connection out and you can see who they are.
You can communicate with them and they can communicate with you. That’s all it really is. But it’s a great way to be able to reach out to those people. And I reach out to a lot of people, especially people that I want to get to know that are influences in the business markets that I’m in. I really kind of want to find out what these people are doing and really – I’m big on modelling, so I want to find out what they’re doing and I want to model what they’re doing.
So if I want to reach out to one of these people, if I send them an email, it is going to go to the Spam folder for sure. There is almost no way it’s even going to get to them. It’s probably going to go to their admin first, who’s going to maybe send me a canned response, but probably not. In Skype, those same people tend to communicate with me. It’s not their admin running Skype for them, it’s actually the person. So it is a much better communication tool to be able to reach out to those people.
And I do this on purpose and I do this systematically and I kind of coin the phrase ‘guru stalking.’ I’m going to take this list of people – you know, maybe there is 100 people on my industry that I really want to make a connection with, because I want to interview them, because I want to learn what they’re doing – whatever the reasons, I’ll make that connection through Skype more often than I’ll make that connection through any other social media.
I think we’ve covered enough for today. Tomorrow and we’ll continue with Part 2 of this 4-parts series on Skype marketing.