How To Make A Bad Review … Better

The media and the communication vehicles that reach our customers, are the partners of businesses, especially marketing and PR. 

When the Associated Press gives out advice on how to handle negative commentary – it is something to heed.  Thank you AP!  

NEW YORK (AP) — A bad review can seriously hinder a small business’ reputation, but dealing with negative social media and online posts is now essential.

The popular online review site Yelp.com recently won a case in California where an aggrieved law firm tried to force it to remove negative posts. Such an action would run afoul of freedom of speech, according to internet companies, but business owners say it could leave the door open to spreading falsehoods without consequences.

There are several measures a business can take to respond to negative reviews to mitigate any potential damage.

Here are some key points for business owners:

ASK HAPPY CUSTOMERS TO POST REVIEWS OF THEIR EXPERIENCE

It’s important to be proactive and have staff ask customers to post their experience. The offensive part of this strategy involves having a base of good reviews from happy customers. It’s even more important because people who are upset are usually more motivated, Kagan said.

That can leave a skewed picture of a business. A solid base of good reviews will help give a potential customer a broader view.

RESPOND IMMEDIATELY AND POLITELY

People want to know that the owner is professional and cares about fixing legitimate problems. Simple things, like saying “I’m very sorry you didn’t enjoy” the meal or product can go a long way with potential new customers checking out your reviews.

“You will often find that you’re playing to the audience, which is sort of neutral,” Kagan said.

PROVIDE A FACTUAL REBUTTAL

While owners should acknowledge a person’s feelings, there are some issues where a factual rebuttal is necessary.

For a restaurant, this could include providing a link to a health department grade or report if somebody falsely accuses the restaurant of being unclean. For some companies, it could mean posting a statement on steps being taken to improve a product or service.

“You’re not necessarily going to fix an upset person,” Kagan said. “What you can do is limit the impact.”

I am often asked if I can make a negative comment “go away” – the answer is no.  But what I will do is reposition the comment with the facts as we know them, remember the audience is wide and large, respond directly to this one comment, and treat everyone’s opinion as valid.  Just because we are responding to one comment, it is imperative to remember many others will be reading what you say too.

Instagram Connects You With Your Younger (and Future) Customer

Instagram for Business: Everything You Need to Know

Instagram is a mobile photo-sharing app and social network. It was created in 2010, and in 2012, Facebook purchased it for $1 billion. According to Instagram, more than 500 million people use it daily, and it has more than 800 million monthly active users.

Instagram is photo- and video-centric. Users can edit and post images and short videos, record Instagram stories, and go live with video. Before using Instagram for your business, here is what you should know.

Although it can be viewed on a desktop, Instagram is primarily a mobile app, so you need to download it before you can sign up for an account. Instagram is free in both the Apple App Store and the Google Play store.

To sign up, you can either connect your Instagram account to Facebook or enter your email.

You will want to convert your brand’s Instagram profile to a business account to receive access to analytics and insights. To do this, you’ll need to connect the account with your business’s Facebook page by following the in-app prompts from the Switch to Business Profile option under Settings.

Once your Instagram account is created, you can go to the Profile tab and tap the Edit Your Profile button to change your name, username and profile picture, or to add a website and a short biography. To change the app’s settings, tap the gear button on the top right corner.

When you open the app, you’ll be taken to the home page. Here, you’ll see an endless stream of posts from the users you follow, sponsored posts based on your interests and your own posts, if you’ve added any.

  • Home button: This takes you to your home page or your feed.
  • Search tab: This tab helps you find interesting content and users to follow. Using the search bar, you can look for certain content, users or hashtags. If you don’t tap a category (People, Tags or Places), the app defaults to Top, which shows the most popular results for that search term. You will also see a horizontally scrolling row of photos called Trending Tags and, below that, a feed of popular posts, called Explore Posts. These features are great ways to find other people and brands whose interests align with yours, and following users with similar content may even earn you some followers.
  • Add button: With this button, you can add a new photo from your gallery, take a photo or shoot a short video.
  • Heart button: On the activity page (heart tab), you’ll see two tabs at the top of the page: Following and You. The You tab is the default; this is where you can see recent notifications showing who has followed you or liked your photos, comments other users have left on your photos or mentioned you in, and posts you’ve been tagged in. When you switch to the Following tab, you’ll see recent activity from the users you’re following – other photos they’ve liked or commented on and users they’ve followed.
  • Profile: Your Profile tab is where you can see all your posts and story highlights, edit your profile and update your settings.
  • Geotagging: Instagram allows you to add your location to your photos when you post them. Adding your location to photos displays that location above your photo in each post that has been geotagged. You can toggle your location on and off before posting an image.

To post a new photo, tap the add (camera) button on the bottom of your screen. This will open your phone’s camera, and you can either take a new photo or record a short video, or select one from your camera roll.

Upon clicking Next, you’ll be taken to a screen with multiple options, including Instagram’s filters and an Edit button, which allows you to adjust the photo by changing the brightness, contrast, structure, warmth, saturation, color, fade, highlights and shadows. You can also add a vignette or tilt-shift the picture.

Once you’ve edited the photo to your liking, click Next. Then you can write a caption to describe the picture, add a location to geotag it, tag people and share it on other social media platforms. You also have the option to turn off comments, found at the bottom of the Advanced Settings page.

Before posting public photos, business owners should consider adding hashtags to their picture for optimal exposure. If you want to change or add something after you’ve published a post, tap the ellipses (…) button on that post and select Edit to update the caption or add a location or tags. You can also share the post on other social networks or delete the post if you’re unhappy with it.

Now that you know how to create a profile and post photos, here are the different ways you can use Instagram to promote your business.

Instagram Stories are photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours. At the top of the home page is a horizontal bar featuring photos of the people you follow and one for yourself. When you select the photo of yourself, it opens another screen with eight options to add to your story.

  • Normal: With the normal option, you can take a regular, still photo.
  • Live: This is for live videos.
  • Type: Type is the only option that doesn’t require a photo or video. Instead, you can choose from different background colors and fonts and type whatever is on your mind.
  • Boomerang: This option creates a GIF.
  • Superzoom: Superzoom allows you to zoom in during a video with dramatic sound effects.
  • Rewind: Rewind lets you post a video to your story that’s in reverse.
  • Hands-free: Records a video without requiring you to hold down the record button.
  • Stop motion: With this feature, you can take a long series of photos and Instagram turns the photos into a GIF.

With all options, you can draw, type and place stickers and polls on photos and videos. These features are very similar to those on Snapchat, so if you’re familiar with that platform, it should make it much easier to navigate. Instagram stories are a great way to promote a new product, give a behind-the-scenes look at your business or show a new blog post.

With Stories Highlights, you can group stories together into highlights and feature the groups on your profile below your bio. Highlights stay on your profile until you remove them. To edit or remove a highlight, just tap and hold it. Instagram also automatically saves your stories when they expire and keeps them in the Stories Archive, which is accessible on your profile.

In addition to Instagram Stories, users can take and stream live video that disappears – sort of like a combination between Facebook Live and Snapchat. You can give customers a live look behind the scenes of interesting aspects of your business, show products or answer live questions through the comments.

Once the video ends, it lives on your Instagram stories where it stays for 24 hours. If you want video that remains on your Instagram feed, you can upload video you’ve taken or shoot video directly through the app to post. If you choose to shoot or upload video, you can still add filters and change the cover. You also have the option of including sound.

There are many ways to interact with other users on Instagram. For instance, you can tag other users in your photos or privately message people.

  • Liking: Liking is a simple way to connect with other users. To like a photo, either double-tap the image or tap the heart button under the post.
  • Commenting: Next to the Like button is a Comment button – just tap it, and the app will take you to the Comments page for that photo with a text box where you can enter what you want to say and hit Post when it’s complete.
  • Mentioning: As on Twitter, you can use the @ symbol to tag other users in your Instagram comments or post captions.
  • Tagging: Instagram allows you to add tags before you post an image or video. To do so, tap the Tag People option before sharing your photo, and then tap where in the photo you’d like to add a tag. The app then prompts you to type in the person’s name to search for his or her account. Once you’ve tagged other users in your photo and shared the image, other users can tap on the photo to see the people who are tagged.
  • Direct messaging: To access Instagram Direct, go to the home page and tap the button in the top right corner. Here, you can send private instant messages, photos and videos to other users. To send a new direct message (DM), tap the + button in the top right corner, and select Send Photo or Video, or Send Message. Once you’ve sent the message, you and the recipients can message back and forth. Users who are not already following you will be asked whether they want to allow you to send them photos and videos before they can view your direct message

Using hashtags is a great way to help other users find your content on Instagram. Hashtags can include letters and numbers, but they can’t contain any non-numerical characters. For example, #DaveAndBusters works as a hashtag, but #Dave&Busters does not.

Because users can both search for hashtags and click on hashtags they see in posts in the app, using relevant hashtags can be a highly effective tool for getting noticed. However, make sure you’re using the right hashtags for your brand and don’t go overboard.

Hashtags such as #nofilter (a photo that hasn’t been heavily edited with filters), #selfie (a picture of yourself) and #tbt or #throwbackthursday (old photos) are all incredibly popular on Instagram, but they may not work for you or your brand. It’s a good idea to look at other established brands or even personal users and bloggers in your industry for examples of what to do when it comes to hashtags.

Instagram allows a maximum of 30 hashtags in a post or comment, but using that many would be excessive. The fewer hashtags you can use to get quality responses, the better. Using a lot of popular hashtags might earn you a lot of likes from other users, but it probably won’t increase your following all that much, and the interactions you get will likely not be from people who are interested in your brand but rather those who just saw and liked your image.

Once you understand hashtags, you can branch out and experiment to find which ones work best for your brand. It’s also smart to create a custom hashtag for your business or even an event you’re hosting. This way customers can use hashtags, and it’ll be easy to find their posts as well.

Like other social channels, businesses have the option to advertise on Instagram. There are three formats for advertising:

  • Photo Ads: These look like regular photo posts, but they have a Sponsored label above the photo. They also have a Learn More button in the bottom-right corner, under the photo.
  • Video Ads: Like the photo ads, these look like regular video posts, but with a Sponsored label on top.
  • Carousel Ads: These ads look identical to photo ads but feature multiple photos that users can swipe through.

All three ad formats appear in users’ home feeds. These ads support four objectives: video views, click-throughs to your website, mobile-app installations and mass awareness.

For more information about advertising on Instagram, go here.

Not sure how you can use Instagram for your business? Try some of these cool strategies:

Show off your products or services. Take pictures of cool new products as you get them in, or share pictures of your most popular products. Or, if you run a service business, like a hair salon or a restaurant, take the time to take photos of your work.

Go behind the scenes. Take pictures and videos to show how your products or goods are made, especially if the process is unique or interesting, or something customers ask about often. This not only provides interesting content for your Instagram account, but it shows your customers and followers exactly what goes on in the background.

Include your employees. Make your brand’s Instagram page more personal by including your employees in your posts. Share pictures of your team members hard at work or having fun at company outings.

Ask your customers to show off their photos. Put your Instagram handle and custom hashtags on your products or promotional materials to encourage customers to tag you when they share photos of your product, service or work. This way, other users who want to know where it came from can find you easily. Just make sure you’re checking them out, liking them and commenting on them.

Post exclusive deals on your Instagram. Give back to your Instagram followers by offering them discounts for following you. Share an image with instructions on how to use the deal. For example, you can create a coupon code users input when purchasing something on your website. Another option is you can ask users (when they’re paying for a product or service in-person) to show that they follow you. This will make your followers feel special, and it’s likely to get them telling their friends about your business, too.

To get the most out of your Instagram account, keep these tips in mind:

Links don’t work in Instagram captions. The only place you can share a working link that actually takes users to a website is in your profile. Links don’t work in captions or photo comments, so if you’re trying to direct people to a specific web page, you can change the default link in your bio to that particular page and note in the caption that the link is on your profile.

Make sure your posts relate to your brand. It can be tempting to share photos of food, fashion and animals because they’re so popular on the platform, but if your business has nothing to do with those things, this could make your social marketing look disjointed and confuse your followers. However, if you can find a way to incorporate pictures like these while still making them relevant to your business, it could make your social marketing strategy more successful.

Run giveaways and promotions. Post an image advertising your giveaway, sale or contest, and ask users to repost that image with a specific, custom hashtag to enter. You can then search that hashtag to see who has reposted it and pick a winner. Promotions like this allow your customers and followers to market your brand for you by talking about your promotion on their personal pages, and it drives more people to visit your profile.

Respond to other users’ comments. When people comment on your photos, reply to them. Interacting with customers and followers shows that you are paying attention and that you care about whether they see your photos and what they say. They’ll be more likely to continue following you and interacting with your pictures if they feel like they matter.

Embed Instagram posts on your website. From the desktop version of Instagram, you can get an embed code to add specific images and videos to your company’s website. This can show visitors that you’re active on Instagram and help you gain more followers. Just select the photo you want to embed, click the ellipses button in the bottom right corner and select Embed. This pulls up a box with the embed code and gives you the option of whether you want to display the caption. From there, copy and paste the code where you want it to go on your website.

Use Instagram influencers to promote your business. Influencers are people who have a large following on Instagram. You can pay influencers to market your products to their followers in a natural way. These sponsored posts typically are subtle and don’t look like an ad. This is helpful because people typically hate advertisements.

If You Are Not Focusing On Women Over 50 – You Are Leaving Big $$$ On The Table

  • IF the money is controlled by woman

  • AND women over 50 have the most disposable income

  • WHY aren’t advertisers and marketers focusing on this huge and important market?

As a female marketer I have long wondered why so many brands and services are so clueless.

Look at the photos on this blog – both groups of women shop in similar ways, both groups are having fun – and both groups are either researching or purchasing online – but when you look at the photo of the older women – you should think to yourself, now they are spending money! p.s.  I had a hard time finding photos of women over 50 in any venue, and that was on paid photo sites!

Who is in the photos on your website and in your ads and posted on your social media?  If they are all men or a mix of men and young women – you are missing a huge, inclusive message – a message that says ‘you are our buyer’.  And please be sure to have diversity too!

Your company and your marketing can be the smart ones, be data driven and go where the money is!  Take a look at this research:

article: http://www.thedrum.com/news/2018/01/24/nearly-three-quarters-women-over-50-shun-all-advertising

72% of women aged 53 to 72 – dubbed ‘babyboomers’ – don’t pay attention to advertising, according to a report examining the evolving relationship between women and marketing.

Elastic Generation: The Female Edit sought the opinion of women aged 53 to 72 from the JWT London Innovation Group, in an effort to pin down an accurate depiction of this key demographic.

It found that 91% of respondents wished advertisers would treat them as people and not as stereotypes with 90% agreeing with the statement ‘I’m not going to start dressing in beige just because I’m over 50 now.’

In a similar vein 71% stated they were still a ‘kid at heart’ while 73% expressed displeasure at how their generation was patronized with regards to technology. Adding weight to these findings 81% of women polled said they did not recognise themselves in advertising supposedly targeted at their generation.

As such brands are encouraged to think beyond age as a number and get to the bottom of what really motivates their target audience while ensuring that depictions of older people in advertising are authentic – binning outdated stereotypes once and for all.

Such findings will be highly worrying for marketers given that 78% of over 50’s command the purse-strings in their households, with the age group accounting for half of all consumer spending.

More to come on this topic!

The War For Talent Hinges on the Workplace Experience

The United States is a nation built on hard work. Even with technology increasing workforce productivity, an amplified advocacy for work-life balance, and the proliferation of non-standard work schedules, Americans, on average, still clock in a 40+-hour work week , and more than 83% still work primarily at the office.

At one time, workplace efficiency and selection was based almost exclusively on costs and proximity to employees’ (if not solely executives’) homes.

Today, providing a compelling workplace experience is an important way for companies to attract, retain and engage employees, as well as express the brand.

This article was written by workplace expert Jeff Lessard, a senior managing director in Cushman & Wakefield’s Global Business Consulting Group, it was first published with this photo of Unilever’s offices, in Connect, last month.

In our work with clients across all industries we see a clear trend—one that differs in meaningful ways from the traditional office environment. Today’s professionals crave agile workplaces that support the full range of activities across the work day, as well as authentic spaces that feel more like home or a boutique hotel than an office.

Ranked first in Fortune’s 2018 100 Best Companies to Work For list, Salesforce implemented an Ohana Design–influenced by Hawaiian culture–across the company’s global workplaces. The offices feature residential-like furnishings, environmentally-friendly interior materials, and designated quiet space for recharging.

In another example, Hyatt recently debuted its new Downtown Chicago headquarters designed to enhance flexibility and cross-team collaboration. Unveiled in 2017, it was designed to reflect the experience that customers have while visiting a Hyatt property. Indeed, “Experiential” is the keyword for the award-winning space.

Both these workplaces reflect the “resimercial,” workplace trend, which infuses comfort and familiarity into commercial office spaces. Key characteristics of this workplace strategy include diversity of furniture, a design that encourages serendipitous interactions, an ecosystem of amenities, easy flow between hospitality and work areas, and frictionless working for guests.

What’s special about the “resimercial” workplace is that it’s universal. It can be applied in offices of varying size, location and operational needs.

Unilever—a global consumer goods company that includes brands such as Lipton, Dove, Klondike and Hellmann’s—recently renovated its North American headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, NJ to enhance the employee experience, in part through a resimercial workplace strategy across its 325,000-square-foot campus. (see photo above)

The buildings are centered around a main atrium that is pierced with a variety of exciting spaces, comparable to a boutique hotel or a coworking space’s lobby. With its new look and feel, Unilever’s campus continues to create an exciting work environment that has increased engagement among existing employees, and has served as a differentiator in the eyes of prospective talent.

Employees’ attachment to their employers is not what it used to be. A 2018 study from Robert Half found that 64% of professionals polled think changing roles every few years can be beneficial—a 22% increase from a similar survey conducted in 2014. These findings lean even further against employers for employees ages 18 to 34.

To attract, retain, and engage top talent, companies must invest in workplace strategies that fit their business aspirations, work flow, culture, and appetite for change. If not, they will fall behind in the War for Talent.

Time is $ – Here’s How To Make Your Meetings Maximize Both

At my agency we track hours, right down to the 10 minute block – it’s what’s fair for our clients and keeps us all on track.  Most days it feels good to finalize those timesheets and know you had a successful day with tasks checked off your to do list and added to the time sheet.

But if you are the owner of the agency, like I am, you can’t help but grimace at the number of hours spent in meetings and other time not billable.  It comes to at least 30% of the time spent every day in an office.  Add in holidays, sick and vacation days and other non-billable time – and it adds up!

When I saw this superb article by Jim Sullivan in Nation’s Restaurant News I knew he was hitting on all cylinders and I want to share it with you. Here are a few of his key points:

  1.  Leave an open chair at the table — this is for your customer.  Powerfully visual.
  2. End of time.  No matter what and make sure your agenda has a sense of purpose with most important items first on the agenda.
  3. Accountability and Thanks – they go together.

Here is Jim’s piece in Nation’s Restaurant News – an industry where every minute counts and ‘you can’t serve the same customer the same meal twice’.

As any employee (or spouse) will tell you, the No. 1 challenge when two or more people work together is communication. The No. 2 challenge is accountability. And since a good deal of a restaurant leader’s time is spent in meetings with team members (and vendors), perhaps the best place way to improve communication and accountability is by learning how to plan and execute more effective employee meetings.   

A restaurant leader’s work life is chockablock-full of meetings. You probably just spent the last 60 days in planning, budgetary and performance appraisal meetings. Restaurant GMs meet with their fellow managers and Area Directors weekly or monthly, and then there’s the all-important but routinely overlooked daily Pre-Shift Meetings with your hourly associates. Since we spend so much time in meetings, I thought it may be helpful to share some industry best practices for getting the most out of them.

1.     Consider the ROI first. Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you can’t get more time. And the weekly/monthly manager meeting is one of the more commonly overlooked controllable expenses a restaurant has. Consider the collective salary/wage cost of each person at the meeting, along with the expense of what’s not getting done while you’re meeting. If you had to write a personal check for your next meeting, would you still have it, or would you plan it or run it any differently? Begin manager meetings by saying something like, “Today’s meeting will collectively cost our company approximately $715 in salary in the next hour, so let’s make this investment and meeting worthwhile.”

3.     Leave an extra chair open at every sit-down meeting. Even though they aren’t present, every meeting should include a ceremonial place for customers at the table to remind us how every decision should relate to making their experience with your brand better. Amazon employee meetings have employed this visual touchstone for nearly two decades.

4.     Have a plan and stick to it. Ambiguity is the source of most conflict between managers and teams in the workplace. Strong meetings foster clarity. Planning is paramount, whether it’s a routine weekly meeting with your fellow managers or a company-wide annual conference in another state. Commence each meeting with three stated objectives that relate specifically to the quarterly goals or KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) you’re focusing on. Share the agenda, objectives and expectations with participants ahead of time.   

5.     Skinny the monologue, fatten the dialogue. Effective meetings are both productive and developmental. Attendees should leave feeling: “That was worthwhile and I know more now than I did before the meeting.” Structure each meeting to simultaneously inform and teach, and build discussion into each decision topic. The meeting leader should not dominate the discussion, otherwise you’re more effective sending an email.

7.     Bring and share two best practices each. The foodservice industry is a free university if you pay attention. Ask every manager to write down and share two things they learned at work since the last meeting. Compile their insights in a Key Learnings list and update it every meeting. You’ll be amazed at what great insight you’ll accumulate over the next 12 months. Share the lists with your new managers and post it on your company intranet. None of us is a smart as all of us.

8.     Determine and assign pre-shift meeting topics. One of the most important things you can do in a manager meeting is to identify what you’ll collectively focus on as a team between now and the next meeting. And the best way to do that is to agree upon and assign a specific topic to every pre-shift meeting over the next two weeks. Align the pre-shift topic to the KRAs you’re focusing on. If managers don’t give their hourly teams specific goals each day, they’ll presume you don’t have any, and then they’ll substitute their own. For a free downloadable template for planning and executing daily pre-shift meetings, visit Sullivision.com.

9.     Pursue the bright spots. Too much leadership time is devoted solely to fixing problems when just as much progress can be achieved by identifying outstanding performers and figuring out how to replicate their performance. Don’t just talk about what to fix. Discuss how to scale and replicate the innovation that team members demonstrate.

11.  Always end with energy and positivity. Thank people for their contributions. Keep the meeting upbeat throughout. Summarize key items. If you have exceptional news to share, the end is usually the best place to do it, not the beginning.  

Meetings are like elevators. They can lift you up or bring you down. Planning, purpose and productivity are the key elements of the kind of meetings that maximize efficiency and value. These are the kind of meetings we anticipate instead of dread.  

Jim Sullivan is a popular keynote and workshop speaker at restaurant leadership conferences worldwide. 

 

Panels that WOW – whether you are the organizer or a speaker

Have you ever…

…had a panel moderator who liked the sound of his own voice a little too much?

…sat through a discussion where one of the panelists hogged the stage so other panelists never got to speak?

…watched as the audience wasted time with a bunch of irrelevant questions?

A great panel moderator fixes that!  See the 28 tips below, thanks to MeetingsNet, written by Need James

accomplishment achievement adult african

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

But not all moderators are great. You need to focus on finding a moderator who will create the best experience for your audience by educating, entertaining, and interacting with them.

At your next event, implement a BDA (that’s just my way of saying before, during, and after) process, and ask your moderator to consider the following strategies:

Before the panel:

  • Create bullet points for discussion and share with the panelists.
  • Organize a conference call so the panelists can connect.
  • Get photos, social media information, and short biographies of panelists.
  • Provide three questions to panelists in advance to help them prepare.
  • Keep those questions contextual so panelists can be flexible in their responses.
  • Prepare case studies and examples you can add to complement panelist input.
  • Manage logistics: i.e., make sure everyone has water, individual microphones, and seating, and advise panelists to silence their cellphones.
  • Determine the social media strategy: What hashtag are you using? Who will manage questions that are tweeted by audience members?
  • Determine the seating and speaking order; begin with a strong panelist.

During the panel

  • Kristin Arnold, a Certified Professional Facilitator, says, “Start with something interesting to get your audience to lean in to the topic. A simple tactic is to take a poll so that you and the panelists can focus attention on what really matters to the audience.”
  • Make the first question easy, and allow the audience to get to know your panelists.
  • When asking a question, direct your attention to the panelist and then look out into the audience (that will encourage the panelist to look at the audience when they respond).
  • Advise the audience about social media guidelines and what the hashtags are.
  • Encourage the audience to share learnings from the panel on their social channels.
  • Project the panel’s contact information, social media profiles, and conference hashtag on the screen for people to easily connect and tag them.

Managing the panel

  • Keep questions contextual—don’t let panelists stray.
  • Ask them to focus all their responses to benefit the audience.
  • Shut down any sales pitches of products and services.
  • Provide a variety of good and bad examples and case studies for the audience (don’t just share good news case studies).
  • Allow the panel to talk to each other (and over each other a little, but not to be rude).
  • Allow debate, not stage hogging.

Managing the audience

  • Always repeat the question for the benefit of the audience and the panelists.
  • Ask audience members to state their name before they ask their questions.
  • Ask audience members to ask questions that the whole room will benefit from.
  • Use microphones for all questions.

After the panel

  • Share the panelists’ contact information with the audience again.
  • Encourage the audience to meet the panelists one on one.
  • Send thank you notes to the panelists.

Having just been at a conference that schedules one panel after another, the ones that prepare like recommended above are the ones that WOW the audience, and are memorable.

Whenever possible use visuals on dual screens beside the panel stage – tutor your panelists to have slides and images that can be photographed, use large type and have lots of definition.  Please no gray type and gobs of copy – remember if you are wowing the audience they’ll be using their cell phones to photograph these images and posting across the web.

Think about what you ask them to wear, seating arrangements, microphone testing, sound levels and signage – all the better for those social media posts that will amplify your message and give you reportable results!

 

Turn Those Upset Customers Around: Best Practices For Customer Service Recovery

How do Marriott employees handle angry customers?  They call it LEARN, at Starbucks it’s called LATTE (of course) … both offer excellent examples of how to respond when there is a need for effective and immediate customer service.

In the article below Micah Solomon calls it “customer service recovery’.  Whatever term is used, it’s more important than ever to resolve a customer issue before it hits social media and you have to work much harder to erase a bad image.

Turn Those Upset Customers Around:

Best Practices For Customer Service Recovery

Every business needs a framework for customer service recovery–a sequence of best practices–for those times when the situation hits the fan and the customer hits the roof.

Before I get to my recommended customer service recovery framework, let’s talk about why you need one.

First, because even in the best of times, it’s hard for most of us to improvise entirely from scratch, without a framework to guide us and to fall back upon.

Second, because a situation that calls for service recovery is far from the best of times. When things haven’t gone smoothly, and a customer is upset, you’re likely feeling embarrassed or defensive, or put-upon, or angry (or all of these, at once). With so much emotion flying around, it’s hard for even the most seasoned and equanimous customer service professionals among us to do their best.

Third, because some of our human instincts are flat-out wrong, and need to be moderated or even turned around by what has, over time, proven to work in these situations; for example, getting past the tendency of professionals, including customer service professionals, to want to decide for themselves what an appropriate solution entails, rather than taking the time to get there together with the customer.

Every great business has a framework for customer service recovery. At Starbucks (where they have an acronym for most everything, to help employees mentally walk through the steps when struggling with a situation), it’s LATTE:

Listen to the customer

Acknowledge the problem/situation

Take action and solve the problem

Thank the customer

Explain what you did

At Marriott, it’s LEARN:

Listen

Empathize

Apologize

Respond

Notify

At the triple Five Star Broadmoor resort in Colorado, it’s HEART:

Hear

Empathize

Apologize

Respond

Take Action

Follow up (Yeah, maybe this means it should be HEARTF, but that’s a lot less effective as a mnemonic.)

Any one of these time-tested sequences will stand you in good stead.  And, as you’ve probably noticed, they’re all pretty similar.

However, if you’re not already hooked on a competing system, let me brazenly offer you my own five-step AWARE™ service recovery framework, devised and refined during my time working with great companies as a customer service consultant, listening to the concerns of thousands of customers, and observing the best practices used by hundreds of customer service professionals in such situations.

If you’d like printable version of this, email me at micah@micahsolomon.com and I’m happy to hook you up. (This is an update of prior versions I’ve published in these pages and elsewhere.)

Micah’s AWARE System for Customer Service Recovery

Acknowledge

Widen

Agree

Resolve

Evaluate

Acknowledge

• Immediately stop whatever you’re doing.

• Acknowledge the situation and apologize sincerely. Even if you have no reason to think you’re at fault, you can—and should—start off by immediately apologizing for the confusion or the situation. Convey that you recognize and regret what your customer has been through.

Note: If this situation calls for a larger apology (by which I mean that the customer feels it calls for such an apology, whether or not you think it does), make it a real apology, not a fake “I’m sorry if you feel that way.” The key to an effective apology, to getting back on the right foot with your customer, is to convey from the very outset that you are going to take the customer’s side and share the customer’s viewpoint.

• Don’t interrupt with questions or explanations.

• Learn more about the situation by probing for what the customer is specifically upset about; encourage and assist the customer in explaining what’s gone wrong from the customer’s point of

• Widen your viewpoint to be open to the “other side” or a different/unexpected side of the situation: a viewpoint that is not only different than yours, but may be one that you had never thought of in this context before.

• Include your customer in the process of developing a solution that works for them (and is something that is possible for you).

Note: You may, in the course of this widening step, discover that the customer is entirely mistaken in their assumptions about the cause of the situation, but under no circumstances—other than safety- or health-related misunderstandings—should you baldly say that the customer is wrong.

Agree

• Assure your customer that you take their concerns seriously, and that you will personally and immediately take definitive action.

• Spell out the agreed-on solution to your customer, as you understand it.

• Commit to exactly what you will do to resolve the issue, and by when.

Repair

• Take care of the issue as promised.

• Follow up with anyone you assigned it to.

• Follow up with the customer to ensure all is well.

Evaluate

• Document the error in two separate places, both of them important:

a) the customer’s profile

b) your company’s QC (quality control) system.

• Examine the error with an eye toward identifying systemic issues and choke points (for example, repeated complaints of long lines on Tuesdays).

• Strive to learn from the error and, where appropriate, to make it a part of staff training and systems.

Reprinted in its entirety with permission from Micah Solomon.

GDPR – begins next week – not a new PR firm

We have a glimpse of what’s to possibly come in the USA, so let’s learn from the best in Europe and how they are handling this change… read on to learn much more and additional resources.

What Is the GDPR?
On May 25th 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation—known as the GDPR—will come into effect. The aim is to protect the personal data of all EU citizens. Whatever the location of your business, if you own a website with EU visitors, or if your marketing campaigns target EU citizens, these changes affect you.

From the National Association of Travel Journalists Association:  The law applies to anyone who has customers and/or contacts in the EU and failing to follow the law comes with a hefty fine. Need some guidance on how or if this new regulation applies to you?  Here is a link for more details: Check out this article for a primer on GDPR.

How some of our European contacts have approached GDPR – with the goal of maintaining their customer list.

From a luxury hotel in Italy:  Under new data protection regulations (GDPR) we need to confirm we have your permission to continue sending you updates by email. Please click the appropriate link below to let us know. We would love to stay in touch with our occasional emails, containing our favourite stories from the Amalfi Coast, recipes, special offers and updates from Le Sirenuse, but we will be unable to as of the 25th of May 2018 without your permission. Don’t let this be goodbye.

From ScotlandsPeople: We are committed to protecting your personal information and ensuring your privacy. In preparation for 25 May 2018, when the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into force, we would like you to confirm that you are happy to continue to receive marketing e-mails such as our newsletter.
Please click on one of the buttons below and you will then be taken to a page confirming your choice. No further action will be required.
Yes, I would like to receive occasional updates

No, please delete my details

Whether you choose the warm and friendly approach like the Italian hotel, or the more straightforward approach like Scotland’s People – use this as an opportunity to reach out to everyone on your list and send a message reflecting who you are.

SUPER Influencers A Key To Super-Success

Influencer marketing is without a doubt a trending area for marketers and public relations professionals.

In retail, travel and entertainment, savvy marketers are connecting with people who have a great number of followers — and influence — and compensating them with cash, gifts or an experience, such as a stay in a resort or a cameo in a show.

The idea of connecting with the right people and working those relationships is both a refreshing and seemingly simple approach. However, how does influencer marketing apply to complex selling environments, such as within regulated industries (financial or healthcare, for example) or with enterprise software sales?

Without exception, a pithy Instagram post or a Tweet from an influencer is not going to have a meaningful impact on shortening long sales cycles or getting a chief security officer (CSO) to narrow solutions they’re considering for their global operations. In my experience, there are, however, people and organizations that have pull with buyers and industry organizations that are worth investing in relationships with.

This article comes with thanks to Forbes and Scott Mills, a member of the Forbes Agency Council.  

 Your team’s success is made easier with positive relationships with outside influencers.

To use the financial industry for illustration, which is one I’m quite familiar with, reaching and persuading bankers to buy into new concepts, strategies and solutions is without a doubt a difficult assignment. When selling something that represents a sizeable investment for the financial organization, it is likely that the company has to accomplish several things. It must:

1. Sell the business-side leader (head of retail banking).

2. Satisfy a host of people involved in the decision, which may include the board of directors, IT department and procurement.

3. Assure the bankers they will remain in compliance (not run afoul of regulators).

4. Demonstrate that your company is financially stable enough to satisfy the client.

For technology sellers, companies are also faced with demonstrating integration with at least one other existing critical system, such as a “core” platform and demonstrating that the company is operationally mature and disciplined enough to handle the prospect’s business.

Marketing to everyone within a bank who needs to buy — or at least sign off on — the agreement requires a highly coordinated effort. It is made easier by reaching third parties who have influence with the prospect and the industry as a whole.

Who are the super-influencers?

Super-influencers are people who advise or provide services to your prospects. They are trusted industry authorities or other vendors that are already serving the bank. Some examples of super-influencers include:

• Attorneys who advise bank boards.

• Accountants who serve the risk committee and CFO.

• Consultants hired to manage a transition or guide strategy.

• Executives of industry associations who drive education and governmental affairs.

• Industry analysts covering specific operational areas.

• Regulators who advise what changes would be acceptable to them.

• Key vendors that are already entrenched in the bank.

• Media who drive conference agendas and what topics are elevated within their channels.

While media is often the target for public relations outreach, trade media is frequently made up of industry experts in their own right. These people deserve an intelligent approach to building relationships.

Super influencers typically have the power to sway a decision. As such, super-influencer marketing is a programmatic approach to identify them, reach out and build relationships.

A super influencer’s value is based on their reputation.

Just as you expect a trusted friend or mentor to provide sound counsel, so do those who turn to their accountants, attorneys and key executives for professional services. As such, these super influencers continue to invest in their development and understanding of forces shaping their industries. Doctors read about new treatments. Researchers seek answers to challenging questions. And educators study, write and publish to broaden their understanding and to influence others. This quest for knowledge is the basis for connecting with super influencers. So is the story you want to deliver. When determining the story, consider the following:

• How are you changing the industry?

• Is there an example of a client company that is achieving outstanding results?

• Are you applying lessons from another industry?

• Do you have research that suggests a shift in the market?

• Is your solution reducing risk? If so, what kind?

Regardless of the channel or communications tactics, the underlying strategy for reaching super influencers has to be based on appealing to their curiosity, helping them broaden their understanding of their industry and doing a better job for their customers and business community.

Many super influencers are paid to recommend the right solution or company or provide an informed opinion or guidance. Consider the people and organizations you know with strong reputations — protecting their reputation drives their actions and decisions. The bottom line is that tactics found in retail or entertainment influencer marketing programs do not translate well to business-to-business (B2B) super influencers because they do not trade their reputation for short-term profits or trivial gifts.

In broad strokes, utilizing super-influencer marketing requires you to build and prioritize audiences, determine what assets or content you’ll need for them and continually foster mutually beneficial relationships.

So, what is fair game for leveraging these relationships?

While some relationships can be based on information sharing or leads, others can provide opportunities to work together on projects that would reflect well on both parties. For example, an attorney and PR practitioner could collaborate on articles about crisis planning and responses. An accountant and consulting firm might create webinars that address operational risks associated with new regulations. And two complementary software companies might create co-branded educational materials about transforming a segment of the industry.

If you are a B2B marketer operating within a complex environment or regulated industry, you know there are no shortcuts. Embrace the complicated and practice these super-influencer marketing tactics — together they represent your competitive advantage.

Note from Bennett – there is a fine line between paying someone to support your PR campaign, and finding mutual benefits with no payment.  This is not a new trend as celebrity endorsements have been around as long as we’ve had speech – an outstanding tool, maybe even SUPER if used with intelligence and as one portion of a well-considered campaign.

Smarketing – Finally!

When you saw “smarketing” did you think: 

“oh yes that is a combination of Smart and Marketing”. 

Or did you immediately know it was a combination of Sales and Marketing?

Let’s just say we finally have a term for Smart Marketers Who Are The Crucial Element In Sales!

Here’s the article from Forbes, (https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescommunicationscouncil/2017/09/26/why-b2b-companies-need-to-embrace-a-smarketing-approach/#6dcaeeef42db) and see what you think.

We all know that marketing and sales are rarely aligned, right? I can see your heads nodding in agreement now. In fact, you don’t have to spend more than two minutes on Google to find numerous articles written about the cost of sales and marketing misalignment to businesses.

Factor in the new interest surrounding account-based marketing and you quickly realize that, despite entrenched thinking that marketing and sales will forever be at odds, it’s time to consider that we might need to find a way to align them.

According to Grad Conn in Adweek, “the relationship with the prospect is [now] based on value—through relevant content or through tailored experiences which have value to the prospect. It’s a ‘give/get’ model, with the seller making the first value move. This pay-it-forward approach to sales is anathema to the cold-calling Glengarry Glen Ross-style selling of the past.”

 It has become clear that sales and marketing alignment is necessary today, particularly for business-to-business (B2B) enterprises.

We live in a post-consumer world.

Business-to-consumer (B2C) but also B2B companies have to compete on the value they offer in our post-consumer world — a world in which there are more products and services than there are people and companies to buy them. That’s why value, not false promises or merely good-enough products and services, is what will ultimately sell consumers on your goods.

What do companies need to do to communicate value from the first touch to the last? At my company, we call it “smarketing” (sales + marketing): the combined and aligned effort of marketing and sales to communicate the value of any product or service from the first touch to the last. Smarketing is the idea of marketing and sales working together so closely that it merits a new word. It is the antithesis of the standard and assumed misalignment between marketing and sales.

It’s time to kill the trope.

Companies can no longer afford to tolerate the push and pull between marketing and sales. Gone are the days of marketing bringing in leads with clever headlines and unverified promises and then throwing them over the wall to sales. Cutting through the noise to grab the attention of and engage with prospects is too expensive for marketing to neglect after sending them to sales.

Add fierce competition to the hard reality that marketing must touch a prospect 13+ times to achieve engagement, and you’ll suddenly be willing to kill the trope that marketing and sales never see eye to eye, let alone work together.

Do You Know Your Lemons? … and other #creative hashtag campaigns

Thank you Sprout Social for this well written article about engaging your customers through creative hashtag campaigns. #lovethis!

The hashtag frenzy has been an important element in the rise of social media. It’s hard to achieve true brand awareness without at least one or two hashtags in your repertoire.

Not only does the right hashtag help you to connect with targeted audiences on social media, but a branded hashtag can also help give life to your digital identity, providing additional reach, impact and personality.

With approximately 81% of Americans using social media in 2018, companies can’t afford to overlook one of the most important resources in social.

But it’s not always as easy as it looks to craft, create and strategize your hashtag campaign. But don’t worry–we have you covered. To help inspire you for your next hashtag campaign, let’s look at eight creative campaigns in the last year or so:

1. #KnowYourLemons: Worldwide Breast Cancer

Often the best branded campaigns on social media are those with an important and meaningful purpose. In 2017, the Worldwide Breast Cancer organization launched its hashtag campaign #KnowYourLemons to convince women to check their breasts for signs of cancer more frequently.

The catchy concept went viral almost instantly. It was a fun and interesting way to give women the important information they needed to spot the lesser-known symptoms of cancer. The charity launched its own Facebook member’s page where people could take part in conversations about the subject. This extra step made the experience more engaging for everyone involved.

#KnowYourLemons Infographic

What We Loved About It:

The creativity in this hashtag campaign was a fantastic way to raise awareness for an important cause. However, the most exciting element of the strategy was that it made crucial information accessible to everyone. You didn’t need a doctorate or a high literacy level to learn more about breast cancer.

Using a light-hearted concept to convey a message about a serious subject, the Worldwide Breast Cancer group exceeded their Just Giving fundraising target by 317%.

2. #TeamVisa: Visa

At the beginning of 2018, Visa jumped on the Olympic fever bandwagon for the winter games. Since 2000, Visa has earned a reputation for accepting athletes around the globe into its “Team Visa” program. The program provides people with the resources they need to achieve their sporting ambitions. Ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics, Visa launched a special campaign to demonstrate how athletes can get involved with #TeamVisa.

The great thing about Visa’s campaign is that it takes advantage of a trending topic to draw attention to an existing product. The company teamed up with influencers who were sure to get plenty of attention around the winter games. Everyone from Billy Morgan to Elise Christie got involved.

3. #BrandBowl: Twitter

While there are 330 million monthly active users on Twitter, some experts suggest this social media platform isn’t seeing as much growth as its competitors. Fortunately, the channel decided to tackle this problem with a hashtag campaign of their own at the beginning of 2018.

Twitter announced at the end of January they would launch their #BrandBowl campaign alongside the Super Bowl. This was perfect timing to be involved with one of the most talked-about events on social media. The #BrandBowl campaign was a social contest designed to award companies for different achievements, like:

  • The brand with the highest number of tweets
  • The brand with the highest tweet per minute score
  • The brand with the most retweets

View image on Twitter

What We Loved About It:

To help improve engagement, Twitter combined the excitement of a social media contest with the appeal of an important trending topic. #BrandBowl gamified the concept of talking about companies, to ensure that everyone was chatting on Twitter during one of the most important sporting events of the year.

4. #ORIGINALis: Adidas

2017 was a highly successful year for Adidas. The company managed to cement its position as both a fashion icon and thought leader with its #ORIGINALis hashtag campaign. The promotion centered around the new Adidas Originals line, and asked people to re-think the concept of being unique.

Adidas partnered with some of the biggest names in the hip-hop world, including Stormzy, Snoop Dogg and ASAP Ferg to promote their new lineup. The brand even created a video to help link its products back to the idea of hip-hop culture.

What We Loved About It:

The first thing that makes the #ORIGINALis hashtag campaign so effective is it’s targeted appeal to Adidas fans. On top of that, in a world where influencer marketing is one of the best ways to generate trust for a company, Adidas managed to partner with some of the most influential figures in the hip-hop environment.

Overall, Adidas just goes to show that the best brand hashtags can help to establish credibility for a company and elevate its position in any marketplace.

5. #WeAccept: Airbnb

Sometimes the best brand hashtags are the simplest. And that’s certainly the case with Airbnb’s campaign from 2017 revolving around the hashtag #WeAccept. This popular branded hashtag was a great way for the travel giant to share the universal nature of their company while showing their support for a crucial ethical issue.

The campaign began with an inspirational video posted on the Airbnb branded social media feed. It continued with a selection of emotional photos delivered by people from different backgrounds and places around the world.

What We Loved About It:

It’s not always easy to produce an effective political campaign. This is particularly true on social media where everyone has an opinion that they’re ready to share. Fortunately, this hashtag campaign saw an incredible response, with hundreds of thousands of supportive likes and comments.

The theme of acceptance helped Airbnb to present themselves as a more approachable and authentic company on social media.

6. #WhatsInYourBag: RYU

People don’t just visit social media for information and news. We also use platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to add a little bit of fun into our lives! That’s why building an Instagram hashtag campaign around a giveaway or competition can be such a great idea for building engagement. Ryu did this with #WhatsInYourBag campaign.

Ryu’s campaign was a great example of a social photo contest that leveraged the trend of Instagram Stories to increase their follower count to well over 20,000.

What We Loved About It:

Hashtag campaigns with gamified elements like competitions or giveaways are a great way to build engagement for a company and encourage your customers to share user-generated content on your behalf. Ryu’s branded hashtag prompted people to share more photos in relation to the brand. This instantly expanded awareness for the company and helped to add a little fun to their identity.

7. #TrippinWithTarte: Tarte Cosmetics

It seems like everyone is investing in the power of influencer marketing lately and Tarte Cosmetics are no exception. In 2017, the company flew a gang of fitness and makeup influencers to an island off the coast of Australia and followed up with them with plenty of Instagram-able excursions like candlelit dinners, yoga, hikes and more.

The hashtag #TrippinWithTarte also encouraged followers of the makeup brand to get involved with their own outdoor experiences, sharing photos that highlighted the versatile nature of the company.

What We Loved About It:

Not only did this creative campaign give Tarte Cosmetics plenty of great content to share on social, it also presented a great opportunity to reach out to new audiences. The influencers were all picked carefully based on their follower count and industry niche, meaning that Tarte could connect with thousands of new users within a matter of weeks!

8. #OpenYourWorld: Heineken

During 2017, Heineken decided to follow the trend of using social media to shed a light on important social concepts by conducting their very own experiment. The beer company used #OpenYourWorld to see how easy it was for people with opposite social and political views to accept each other when they went through a series of team-building activities together.

When everyone at the end of the experience shared their political or social views with the other, Heineken offered them the opportunity to share a beer and discuss their differences–something they all chose to accept.

What We Loved About It:

The #OpenYourWorld hashtag campaign addressed a meaningful concept in a new and heartwarming way. The first video achieved around 3 million views within the first week of its launch and around 50,000 shares in its first month too.

Heineken shows how addressing an important idea with your social media campaign can help to get people talking about your brand and strengthen new relationships.

 SproutSocial.com is one of my go-to resources for smart writing and great ideas – consider adding them to your must-read list too.

“Spray and Pray” – Kevin Hawkins Says Effective PR Means One Message Does Not Fit All

Here is a smart and well written piece by Kevin Hawkins of WAV Group in Washington … http://www.wavgroup.com

Too often public relations activities rely on the “spray and pray” method these days. It’s just too easy.

First, there’s the availability of cheap digital newswire services to blast out a news release for a few hundred dollars or less. If you want to get some quick online news cover and links to post to social media, it’s just a few clicks away.

Second, creating email lists of reporters and bloggers has never been more accessibility. So much so, I would venture to guess reporters are suffering from unsubscribing fatigue.

The cause may be that too many people who call themselves PR pros are either lazy or just don’t understand one of the key tenants of effective PR: the medium, the message, and the target audience must match.

Reporters Gripe: Medium Doesn’t Match

The number one objection I hear from reporters about public relations people is that they send them stuff that is entirely irrelevant. I discovered this from personal experience and wrote about it when I signed up for RE Technology to report on the Home Builder’s annual show IBS in January. It was stunning to see the number of news releases sent to all reporters registered for the convention. There was no attempt made by any of these PR people to look to see if the medium was a fit for the message.

This example is another “spray and pray” tactic that eventually erodes the perceived value of the brand whose name is attached to the news release as well as the PR pro and/or agency that is sending it on behalf of that brand. Many reporters will see that name in the future, and even if the message might be relevant, will just click “delete.”

Bigger Gripe: Message Doesn’t Match the Audience

It’s a waste of time and energy to send news to a publication that will have no interest in your message. But to me, there’s a bigger mistake that happens in PR all the time. The thinking that one message can fit all audience.

One caveat: sometimes, it can. But often, it does not. And that’s where the problem is.

I don’t know if there just isn’t enough budget, or again, if people who call themselves PR pros are being lazy or just completely oblivious to this fact, but the message must not only fit the medium, it must also match the audience.

Media Can Help Target Your Message

Now a lot of time picking the right medium will often give you the right audience for your message. You just have to be sure that’s the right message for that audience. For example, in social media, if you have a message that you know will have a great appeal to woman real estate agents, Instagram and Facebook are targets for content that you need to create (and in this case, your message will be image-centric). These social media channels skew more heavily woman than men.

But there’s a more significant step here: and that’s making sure that the message you create resonates with the target audience you are trying to reach.

Customizing Your Messages

The key to effective PR is message customization. Making sure that the message you are sending out will resonate with the target audience you want to reach. The message must resonate with that audience. That’s the best way to assess if you have a message that is a one-size-fits-all audience message: ask yourself will it resonate with our “blank” target audience?

If not, reconstruct your message in a way that will and send that version of your news release or custom news pitch to the news media list that will reach that target audience.

Remember, each target audience has a persona: what makes them different – their demographics, behaviors, motivations, interests, and goals. Understanding the different personas is how you mold your message to fit each audience, and that’s when you get a win-win-win.

The reporter wins, because they get a message that’s a fit for their media outlet. The target audience wins because they will read a story that matches their interests. The PR pros and their client win because they have successfully placed a news story and a highly targeted and effective way.

Admittedly, spray-and-pray still can work, but smart PR that targets will win in the short term and more importantly, win in the long run.

Then the assistant asked “what’s your favorite vegetable?”

https://www.fastcompany.com/40465774/10-questions-for-getting-to-know-your-direct-reports-faster?utm_source=postup&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Fast%20Company%20Daily&position=8&partner=newsletter&campaign_date=09182017

The other day my hairdresser’s new assistant asked me what my favorite vegetable was.  I thought she was asking in some context related to hair, but she told me she had a series of questions she was using to open conversations with the salon’s customers and thus improve her communication skills too.  That was a first, and it worked as we went on to talk about other topics and got to know one another.

The link above will take you to a Fast Company piece on using 10 questions you can use to get to know your team better… you might even learn they love artichokes!

When you hire a new team or inherit someone else’s, your first instinct as a manager might be to assess the situation for the best way to move forward–and fast. But if you aren’t careful, you’ll create more problems than solutions for you and your new team. Before you start diagnosing your team’s challenges and look for ways to improve, it’s crucial to take a step back and get to know your new direct reports.

The key is to learn how to support your team in the most effective way for them, not just for you. To do that, you have to listen first, diagnose second. Just as in relationships outside the workplace, the better you get to know someone, the better you can collaborate. That takes time, but there’s one way to jump-start the process: These 10 questions can help you quickly take the pulse on your new team members and their hopes for you as a manager.

1. WHAT ARE SOME FEATURES OF YOUR BEST WORKING RELATIONSHIPS WITH PREVIOUS MANAGERS?

Knowing what qualities your team admires in a manager can help you quickly adjust your style for each direct report. You may learn that they crave autonomy, or that they prefer more active support. This can help you graduate from instinctively providing the management support you prefer to intentionally providing the management support they prefer.

Plus, asking your team to describe traits they’ve admired in previous managers–rather than in the abstract–also ensures their answers are grounded in specific, real experiences, which may prove more actionable for you.

2. WHAT ARE SOME FEATURES OF YOUR WORST WORKING RELATIONSHIPS WITH PREVIOUS MANAGERS?

Learning about the bad side of your team’s past management experiences can be just as instructive as hearing what worked. Whatever created friction with previous managers is usually something to avoid, adjust to, or just keep an eye out for. And because it’s sometimes harder to articulate positive feedback than negative feedback, you may find you learn a lot more by asking this question than you do by asking about positive qualities (even though both are important).

3. HOW TRANSPARENT DO YOU PREFER MANAGERS TO BE?

Some teams prefer the full play-by-play as it happens. Others would rather skip the details and just be kept in the loop only as necessary. While some teammates love to follow every step of whatever changes might be happening, others find that distracting and even demoralizing. As a leader, you’ll be privy to information others won’t be. So finding out what level of transparency your team expects from you is an important factor in how, what, and when you communicate to your team.


4. HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO USE OUR ONE-ON-ONE TIME?

Every one-on-one meeting is different. While one team member may come to you with a list of updates and specific actions they need you to take, others may use the time to brainstorm solutions to a certain problem, while still others may arrive with no agenda at all. You can certainly find out your team members’ preferences by experience, but asking this question up front encourages them to think more intentionally about your time together, and how you can best support them.

5. HOW DO YOU LIKE TO RECEIVE PRAISE?

You expect your team to do great work–so how do they like to be celebrated when they do? Here, too, everyone you manage will be different. Where one person might love public recognition, another may cringe in the spotlight and prefer one-on-one or even written praise. Check in with them early on to avoid inadvertently embarrassing your direct reports.


 

6. HOW DO YOU LIKE TO RECEIVE CONSTRUCTIVE FEEDBACK?

Feedback is essential to your direct reports’ growth, and it’s your job to help them improve in big ways and small. But depending on the person, feedback can be something they dread or something they hunger for. It may be something they prefer to hear in real time, or something they’d rather get after the fact so there’s time to reflect on it. There are many ways to deliver critical feedback. If you’re not sure what the best approach is for your direct reports, just ask.

7. ANYTHING I SHOULD KNOW ABOUT YOUR WORKING STYLE?

Working styles are highly individualized. Some people prefer meetings in the afternoons and thinking time in the morning. Others value getting home early enough to put their kids to bed. Where one direct report may crave structure, another may seek opportunity in chaos. What does it take for your team to do their best work? Ask your direct reports to self-reflect so you can identify what it takes to help them feel happy and productive.

8. WHAT EXPERIENCES MAKE YOU HAPPY AT WORK?

Which environments, situations, or projects get your team riled up? Do they enjoy projects that draw notice from elsewhere in the organization, or would they rather focus on work that makes an impact outside of the spotlight? Do they prefer to collaborate, or to keep their heads down to get the job done? Knowing these preferences early on helps you figure out which projects, staffing, meetings, or even desk areas best align with the types of things that make your direct reports happiest at work.

9. WHAT EXPERIENCES MAKE YOU STRESSED OR FRUSTRATED AT WORK?

On the flip side, what drains them? What makes one person jazzed can cause serious stress for another. For instance, too much socializing can be challenging for more introverted types on your team; too much solo work can make your more extroverted direct reports feel isolated. Knowing what triggers stress in the people you manage can help you avoid potentially frustrating scenarios before things get out of hand.

10. WHAT ARE SOME THINGS YOU’RE HOPING I CAN HELP WITH?

As a leader, you may have a mental list of your strengths and be ready to share them with your team. But the strengths you see in yourself may be different from the strengths your direct reports see in you–or the ones they need from you.

For instance, if relationship-building comes naturally to you, you may take it for granted (“that’s just who I am”)–but someone on your team may see and admire that quality in you, and hope to learn from you in that area. On the other hand, if you know you’re a strong presenter, you might be inclined to teach others that skill, too, when unbeknownst to you, what they really want your help in is running more effective meetings and setting better agendas. Asking this question helps you understand the delta between the help you’re preparing to offer and the help your team members are hoping to gain.

Needless to say, while these questions can be helpful, they’re just a humble start to getting to know your team. They’re not enough to replace your long-term efforts to build strong relationships with the people you manage. That takes time, but with this 10-question “intake form,” so to speak, you can get a running start on a process that might take other managers weeks or even months to begin.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ximena Vengoechea is a design researcher, writer, and illustrator whose work on personal and professional development has been published in Inc., Newsweek, and the Huffington Post. She currently works at Pinterest as a qualitative researcher.

I’d really like to ask Zimena about her job at Pinterest, perhaps that will be a future column … enjoy your day, and eat your vegetables!

You May Remember These 6 Advertising Campaigns That Actually Hurt Sales

For all of you who have been in a high energy brainstorming media where the idea is taking shape and your intuition is saying “there is something wrong with this”, I encourage you to follow your gut and say something before your team goes off the deep end.  

This well done article by Paul Suggett copied below, ran on thebalance.com website (full link below) and is an excellent review of moments when someone in the room MUST have said in their gut… “this is not good”.  Be sure you are the one in the rooming asking the question “Is there any reason the audience will NOT love this commercial?”.

Advertising has a number of jobs to do. It has to create awareness about a product, service, or brand. It can also add value to a product, making it more desirable. For instance, there is very little difference between the three major light beer brands, Coors Light, Miller Light, and Bud Light, as far as flavor goes. Consumers are buying the brand, which is built from advertising. And advertising also should inform. Here’s what this product or service does, and does well.

But by far the greatest role advertising plays is to increase sales. No advertising agency would ever pitch a campaign that knowingly hurt sales, or did not move the sales curve in the right direction. It would be suicide. However, ad campaigns fail all the time. And sometimes…they fail hard. Here are six of the biggest advertising fails that actually made the sales figures drop.

 1. Kenyan Runner – Just For Feet

Just For Feet
 Just For Feet. Brightcove

It’s hard to know where to start with this abomination, shown during the 1999 Super Bowl. Put out there are part of a $7 million campaign that would actually give away a brand-new Hummer (remember those?), this 30-second spot was offensive on so many levels. For a start, the spot opens with a bunch of white hunters, in a Hummer of course, getting ready to hunt down a barefoot black Kenyan runner.

You read that correctly. White men hunting a black man. If that scenario was pitched at any meeting anywhere in America, the response would almost certainly be “stop right there, that’s awful!” But the Just For Feet marketing team liked it. After that, the men offer the runner a cup of drugged water, which he drinks, and passes out. Then they force a pair of sneakers onto his feet, and drive away. To add insult to injury, the runner is yelling “no! no!” and shaking his feet. Because he can’t figure out how to untie shoelaces. The response was unprecedented.

Chuck McBride, creative director of Wieden + Kennedy at that time, couldn’t believe what he was seeing. “The minute I saw it, I immediately went ‘Oh, shit,’ and I went, ‘This can’t go on.’ I just couldn’t believe that they had done this.” And famed advertising critic Bob Garfield, of Advertising Age, called the ad, “neo-colonialist … culturally imperialist, and probably racist. Have these people lost their minds?” The term Just For Racists was being spouted by people across the nation, and the reaction by the public was so bad, Just For Feet tried to sue the agency responsible, Saatchi and Saatchi, for $10 million. They later dropped the suit.

Just ten months later, in November 1999, Just For Feet filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, due to a combination of poor sales and accounting fraud. And by February 2000, Footstar Inc. purchased the Just For Feet name and the leases of 70 of its stores. Still, the damage had been done, and in 2004 Just For Feet stores closed forever.

The Spongemonkeys – Quiznos

Quiznos
 Quiznos. YouTube

What do you get when you cross a delicious toasted sandwich with a weird-looking hamster-thing with bizarre teeth and no singing voice? Well, not surprisingly, you get a campaign that puts sales of those toasted treats into the toilet. And the ad agency that did them, The Martin Agency, should have known better.

This was clearly a case of jumping on an internet bandwagon without really doing your homework. The original piece that The Martin Agency adapted was called “We Love The Moon,” created for the site rathergood.com. It’s bizarre. It’s funny. It’s shareable. But…does it pair well with a food product? Do you look at those weird things and think they should be the pitchmen for a sub? Someone at The Martin Agency did. This was the result…and it was a disaster.

Although the ads got a ton of buzz, no one felt hungry after watching them. Before the little singing rodent creations, the ads for Quiznos concentrated on the toasted quality of the sandwiches, and had mouth-watering shots of the melted cheese coming out from the toaster. Sure, the rodent spots had some nice shots at the end, but the main takeaway was Quiznos = weird rat things. Sales plummeted. Store managers everywhere complained. The ads were quickly pulled.

However, despite the awful performance of the ads, they are still beloved by people around the world.

Alka Seltzer
 Alka Seltzer. YouTube

You may be shocked to learn that one of the most memorable, and funny, ads of the modern advertising era was a failure, but it was. That’s a spicy meatball…but not a spicy result.

Now, the ad itself is fantastic. It’s creative. It’s wonderfully acted. It’s clever. It’s a wonderful piece of branding. What’s not to love? It has been featured on ad round-ups for decades, and that, in part, makes us all think it was a great ad. But, it did not help Alka Seltzer sell a lot of product. In fact, sales dropped.

The problem was partly due to the timing. The ad was ahead of its time. Remember, the ad revolution that started in the 1960s, aided by some fantastic work by DDB, was still evolving. The consumer had been brought up on ads that said “hey, buy this product, it’s great, here’s what it does, here’s a picture of it, and another, and here’s someone using it.” Smart ads with plot, and humor, were in short supply. And the 1969 Alka Seltzer spot spent almost all of the ad talking about meatballs and spaghetti sauce. So, the audience went out and bought meatballs and spaghetti sauce, and not boxes of Alka Seltzer.  More 

Energizer Bunny
 Energizer Bunny. YouTube

You no doubt know the ad campaign in question. A pink toy rabbit banging a drum comes on the screen, and walks from one side to the other. It goes on and on an on. The first Energizer Bunny ad featured a hoard of pink toy rabbits banging drums, parodying a famous ad done by Duracell in 1983. And what did that feature? A bunch of pink rabbits banging drums. The one with the Duracell battery lasted the longest.

Think about that for a second. At the time, Duracell was huge. Some bright spark decided that the best way to differentiate the Energizer battery from Duracell was to mimic, almost to the letter, its famous ad. They even used the same pink color. When you see the ad, you think Duracell. It doesn’t matter what the voice over it telling you.

People naturally got confused. After all, one pink bunny looks very much like another, and Duracell had already firmly established itself as “that battery that makes the pink bunny last the longest.” So, when it came time to buy batteries, people went with Duracell way more than Energizer. All the additional Energizer Bunny battery ads only served to strength their competitor’s brand. There was even a study done about this, examining the negative impact of repeating similar brand claims. So, despite the ad being wildly popular, 40% of the people who saw it thought it was a Duracell ad. Energizer sales actually went down.

Recently, the Energizer Bunny was featured in a serious of new ads, using a digitally-animated pink bunny. Perhaps now, many many years after the original Duracell ad has faded from memory, the Energizer Bunny can finally own the space. It’s hard to recall a Duracell ad, and the Energizer Bunny has definitely earned a place in pop culture.

Holiday Inn
 Holiday Inn. YouTube

Back in 1997, Holiday Inn locations underwent over $1 billion in renovations. Now that’s a fact worth bragging about, and to do it, Holiday Inn ran a spot called Bob Johnson during the Super Bowl. It turned out to be so offensive to people that it had to be pulled from the air after just a few days.

What was so bad about it? Well, let’s start with the content of the ad. It features a beautiful woman walking through a class reunion, while a snarky male voiceover tells you about the cosmetic surgery she’s had over the years. “New nose, $6,000. Lips, $3,000. New chest, $8,000.” So, right there you can see the tone being set. Then we see the woman talk to that guy who played Kenny Bania on Seinfeld. He struggles to place her, before finally realizing she used to be a he. It’s Bob Johnson. His face is one of confusion and disbelief – and not in a good way. And then the VO says, “It’s amazing the changes you can make with a few thousand dollars; imagine what Holiday Inns will look like when we’ve spent a billion.”

Immediately, the LGBTQ community was appalled. To make light of a life-changing event in such a crass way was tone deaf. The calls of complaint jammed the lines. But, aside from the awful ad, it was the focus that was wrong, too. Holiday Inns are known for great service, comfort, and convenience. But on this crass ad, they spent a ton of money on cosmetic changes, and they didn’t even show them. And here’s something else to ponder; will the customers who go to a Holiday Inn react as negatively as this guy did when he saw his old high school buddy Bob? A massive fail that did nothing but tarnish the hotel’s image.

California Raisins
 
A quick Google search for California Raisins yields almost 1.5 million results. Clearly, they had an impact and people remember them. The ads took some classic Motown and rock hits, and paired them with some Emmy-award winning stop motion animation. They even had a Billboard Hot 100 hit. And if you saw Straight Outta Compton recently, they were mentioned in that movie. What’s not to love, right? Well, The California Raisin Board had plenty of reasons to grumble.

The first issue was that the funky little raisin characters were not exactly attractive. A wrinkly rabbit dropping with arms and legs is hardly a great way to advertise a food product. But the bigger issue was that the characters and songs overshadowed the actual product. People were digging the ads, and loving the music and the charm of it all. But, they did not go out in droves and buy boxes of raisins. The ads didn’t really do anything to inform people about the uses of raisins, the nutritional benefit, or anything else. Instead, people just took away some cute singing raisin creatures and bought their records.

The campaign proved to be popular, and sales did increase slightly while the campaign ran. But, the price to do the production was exorbitant, costing the CRB almost twice their annual earnings. And when the ads were pulled from the air, sales actually dropped. Needless to say, this is another case of “nice ad, shame about the results.”

To see the California Raisins song on YouTube, click here

Full article:  https://www.thebalance.com/advertising-campaigns-that-actually-hurt-sales-4148155?utm_campaign=smbinfo&utm_medium=email&utm_source=cn_nl&utm_content=10421234&utm_term=

How much do you love your work? This simple question can tell you.

Would you?

Would you clean the toilet if a big client or VIP was coming and the bathroom needed cleaning?

Imagine an important person–a client, a potential hire, an investor, someone you wanted to impress — is coming to the office.  You discover the bathroom needs cleaning, and there’s no time to call someone else to clean it.

When you feel that sense of ownership, when something has to be done and no one else will do it, you do it.

When there’s no alternative, would you tackle the toilet and clean the bathroom?

What it takes to succeed

Why?

Because paying attention to details and having passion for the entire mission is what it takes to succeed.

Because when the meaning of your work is your vision, everything you do is a part of realizing that vision. If that means running across town at 2am because that’s the only place still open to drop off a proposal or make the copies you need, you do it.

The important part is the sense of ownership and vision.

Meaning and purpose

Does the work’s meaning and purpose come from inside or does the work require big external incentives?

What you’ll clean the bathroom for means a project and result you care about, even love. What you have to be paid a lot of money for or you won’t do it… how much can you love it?

Would you clean the bathroom for your work?

If not, and not that you’d enjoy it, but do you wish you loved your work so much that you would?

Leadership and instilling ownership

If you lead a team, can you give your teammates such a sense of ownership that they’d do what it took to get the job done?

If you weren’t a team leader, do you think if you had the skills to inspire that passion in your teammates that you’d become a leader?

 

With thanks to INC magazine, written by Joshua Spodek, author of ‘Leadership Step by Step’.

Want To Get Your Company On Those Big Blue Highway Exit Signs?

Have you wondered how businesses get their logo on those big blue signs on the highway that tell drivers what’s at the next exit?

As a marketer, leave no stone unturned to get customers to your location or that of your client.  Far better to get one highway sign than to get hits on social media – this sign brings results 24/7/365.

Drive down any major interstate in the U.S., and you’ll see big blue signs decorated with business logos near most exits. Here’s who decides which businesses make it on the signs, and how much it all costs.

Called interstate logo signs or specific service signs, these ubiquitous big blue billboards are godsends to weary travelers searching for gas, food, or lodging close to the highway. Unsurprisingly, the signs aren’t solely there to help out motorists, as they also provide monetary benefit to businesses and, crucially, to the state.

Roadside advertising programs are administered by individual states, though specific service signs like the one in the picture above tend to be farmed out to contractors. One of the biggest of these contractors is a company called Interstate Logos, which works with transportation agencies in 23 states to not only install the huge blue panels, but also to work with businesses to run the programs.

This information comes from David Tracy and Jalopnik.com, with our thanks.

If you own a business that falls into one of these groups—attraction, pharmacy, camping, lodging, food and gas—and your business is located near a controlled-access state highway, then you’re eligible to get your company on the big blue sign.

But not everyone is eligible to display their firm’s logo; that’s because the state’s requirements are rather strict, specifying things like distance from the highway, operating hours, required amenities, and number of parking spots available.

For example, as shown in the image above, Michigan requires that any gas station on a specific service sign be within six miles of the highway, and be open at least 16 hours a day, seven days a week and 360 days a year. In addition, the gas station must offer water, gas, and oil for various types of vehicles, as well as public restrooms and a public telephone.

Requirements for food facilities are similarly specific, stating that facilities must operate continuously for 12 hours a day and six days per week. In addition, restaurants on the service signs must be within six miles of the highway, and offer 24 seats for patrons, a public bathroom, and a public telephone.

Other states are even stricter; Colorado specifies that restaurants must offer drinking water and be open continuously between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m., and Kentucky limits restaurant and gas businesses to within three miles of a rural interchange or within only one mile of an urban interchange.

But even if your business meets all the requirements, and you’ve submitted your online application, there may be competition from other nearby businesses. As for which of those businesses get to be on the signs, that depends on the state’s policy. Colorado rotates the businesses at the end of each contract year, but other states like Michigan give preference to businesses nearer the highway, while still others like Washington use a first come-first serve (with waiting list) approach.

 Types Of Signs

Signs generally come in three different types: mainline, ramp and trailblazer. Mainline signs are the huge ones that motorists see on the main highway just before exits, ramp signs are found on either side of an exit ramp and usually feature an arrow and a distance to the destination, and trailblazer signs are found along the route when driving to a business from the exit ramp isn’t straightforward.

 The six main types of businesses found on logo signs—local attractions, pharmacies, camping, lodging, food, and gas—are often placed along the highway in that order (in other words, you’ll see the big blue “attractions” sign first and “gas” last), and are usually within one mile of the exit. They tend to feature a maximum of six logos.Cost

The cost of getting on a specific service sign varies by state, but in general, it spans between about $500 and a couple grand per year. For some states, the annual fee depends solely upon which kind of sign a business is renting, though other states base the annual fee on how much traffic that particular road sees (a sign along a more crowded road costs more).

Washington’s fees, for example, vary based on traffic and location. The example table on the Washington Department of Transportation site—shown above—displays annual costs between $360 and $910 for two signs (one in each direction).

Michigan charges a flat fee of $850 per mainline sign (this comes with a ramp sign as well), so advertising on both sides of the road—one sign for each direction—means businesses have to pay $1,700 each year to advertise on the highway.

Florida does things a bit differently, setting rates based on things like “population, traffic volume, market demand, and costs for annual permit fees.” In Florida, the maximum annual fee for a “sign location” in an urban area is $3,500, while $2,000 will get a business a sign in a rural area.

 Texas breaks up the cost of Mainline signs and small ramp signs, but also uses daily traffic count to determine cost. Mainline signs cost between $900 and $3,250 per year, and smaller ramp signs cost between $150 and $750 per year. Colorado’s fees are $750 per direction for a mainline, a ramp sign and a trailblazer.

These are just a few examples, but on average, it looks looks like if you want your business on a big blue highway sign, expect to shell out about a grand per direction.

There are, of course, other costs involved. Though individual states (or whoever the states have contracted to run the logos program) tend to provide the big blue back panels, businesses are tasked with designing the logo signs to meet the required specifications. This isn’t always cheap; Washington’s Department of Transportation gives some ballpark figures:

 Signs that are 24 inches by 12 inches cost between $84 and $530
  • Signs that are 36 inches by 12 inches cost between $160 and $530
  • Signs that are 60 inches by 36 inches cost between $330 and $530

Typical mainline logo signs are about 48 inches by 36 inches, so based on WSDOT’s ballpark figures, it’s probably safe to figure about $300 to $500 per sign.

Add the annual fee to the cost of making the sign, and any removal/change fees (usually around $100), or fees for additional trailblazer signs (typically about $50), and businesses in some areas could end up spending close to ten grand per year for the advertising for a pair of signs (though most businesses will likely end up spending just a couple of grand). If traffic is heavy enough, and the business is well-recognized among motorists, this could be worth it.

 The sites says that in 2010, Kentucky Logos—contracted by the Kentucky DOT—paid the state $618,904.91. That’s great for the state, but according to the report, of the businesses on the 1,568 signs in the state, only 1 to 2 percent leave annually. So it seems the businesses are happy, too.

 

5 Top Tips for Email Marketing – It’s All About Timing

Top 5 tips for getting your email timing just right:

#1 –  Trying to reach business owners?  best time to email is Saturday

#2 – Your audience is larger, including employees?  try Thursdays

#3 – Average consumers?  Fridays are the best

#4 – What about timing?  try midnight (your email will be first opened at the start of the day) or 10 am (after the morning rush is over) to get the highest open and click rates

#5 – You want a response?  Try 6 am or 8 pm

This infographic below is excellent!  Click here to see the entire story in ENTREPRENEUR:  https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/294536

Huge List of National Holidays for Marketing and Easy Ways To Use Them

Today is a holiday!  And, it seems as if there are national holidays, a national day or national month for everything. In fact, there are over a thousand national holidays, national weeks and national months. Add bank holidays and major religious holidays, and you have one crowded calendar!

National days of observance have become trendy and popular in part because companies have learned to use them for marketing. Just look at social media. Judging from the hashtags for various food days, people days, pet days, medical condition days, military days or industry days — it seems like every single day is a national holiday or national day of observance on Twitter and Instagram.

If you’ve ever wondered, “what national holiday is today?” — we’ve got you covered. With thanks to Small Biz Trends for providing this information. Here is a link to their article: https://smallbiztrends.com/2017/09/list-of-national-holidays-marketing.html.

How to Use a List of National Holidays for Marketing in a Small Business

Are you in a pet related business, such as dog grooming or pet treats? If so, your customers may be interested in a special spa day you host on National Love Your Pet Day.

Own a coffee shop? Then National Coffee Day could be an awesome opportunity to run a sale on lattes or do a flash Facebook promotion to drive some foot traffic to your cafe.

Or perhaps you do financial planning or business succession planning. In that case you might want to highlight National Employee Ownership Month on your blog to get some attention for your thought leadership in that niche.

Some national observance days are more popular than others, of course. You’ve probably never heard of National Bicarbonate of Soda Day (December 30), and probably never will again. On the other hand, every business owner knows Valentine’s Day — especially florists and candy shop owners.

However, for small businesses, some of the lesser-known national holidays might be your best marketing opportunities. Here’s why.

  • On a smaller national day you’re less likely to have your marketing campaign overshadowed by Big Mega Corp’s humongous marketing budget.
  • Some funny national holidays just make people smile, like National Make Your Bed Day on September 11. The fun factor alone could get you mileage (particularly if you run a furniture or mattress store!).
  • And weird national holidays like National Handbag Day on October 10 grab attention through their sheer … weirdness. Yet a day like that is perfect for marketing in a boutique or fashion eCommerce shop.

Smart Ways to Use National Holidays for Marketing

Here are some idea starters for how to use national holidays for marketing:

Use National Holidays on Social Media and in Content Marketing:

  • Create content for your blog highlighting a national holiday, national week or national month relevant to your business. You can publish the content on the day in question, but if you’re looking for potential search engine traffic, publish a post ahead of time. People may be searching in search engines before the holiday arrives. Then post another when the national holiday starts, linking back to your first one.
  • Share that content on social media, using the relevant hashtag. Others may find it when they search the hashtag on social media.
  • Include an image in your social post. Use a tool like Canva or Picmonkey to superimpose the name of the national holiday, the date and any relevant hashtag on the image, too. People love to share images to visibly show their support of national holidays, so a properly labeled image can increase shares.

Use National Holidays As a Reason to Run Sales and Specials:

  • Put something on sale or offer a special deal in honor of the national day observance.
  • Publicize your sale, by putting signs in your physical location if you have one.
  • Distribute details about the special deal to your email list and social media channels in honor of the day, week or month being commemorated.

Use National Holidays As a Theme for Events:

  • Hold a celebration at your office or physical location in honor of the national holiday.
  • Invite customers to attend along with your team. It gets both groups more engaged with your business.
  • Take pictures celebrating the national day (or national week or national month).
  • Take the celebration online. Load pictures to social channels like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, using the related hashtag such as #FarmersMarketWeek.
  • Repurpose the pictures along with a bit of background text about the celebration and use in your next customer newsletter. Or use the pictures to create an engagement-building post for your company blog. Put a blurb and picture in your website’s About page, too, about your celebration and support.

The above quick and easy tips for using national holidays in marketing should get you started. Research Chase’s Calendar of Events or nationaldaycalendar.com for more ideas.

But you know you can also make your own!  Be creative, be fun and put your customer first, that works every single day!

 

Bennett’s Best – 10 tips for a NEW Year

Decide that this year – 2018 – you are going to try at least 10 new pathways to grow your business brand… feel free to add another 10 in your personal life!

1. Learn new things, about new subjects – Use alerts and e-newsletters to bring you opinions and topics you might not have tapped before – you can always unsubscribe later.  Pick things that intrigue you or you are seeing in the news or hearing about from friends, then commit to reading something about these new topics at least once a week.

2. Build a personal arsenal – start a personal Excel file of influencers, speakers at conferences you attended, friends, college alumni and professors … anyone you can turn to for advice or connections. The Excel file should have contact information and a notes column to remind you where you met them or why they are on this list.  Think of it as your future success list – sign up for their feeds, get alerts when they are quoted and link up on LinkedIn – you’ll be glad, I promise.

3. Embrace Artificial Intelligence – make it a priority to be the smart one about this subject.  Read something new every day of the work week – start by Googling ‘artificial intelligence’ and pick what interests you and take it from there.

4. Find your days – and use them to your advantage.www.daysoftheyear.com.  Sign up for free weekly email.

5. Tune into your instincts – does your heart, gut or brain say you should do something and you don’t.  My advice?  do it!  use chocolate cake for breakfast example….

6. Turn your thinking upside down – before you start any project ask yourself “what is the desired outcome?”  Write it on your to-do list to keep it the focus.

7. Security needs to be part of your everyday watch too.  It often lands at the feet of the PR and marketing pros to manage the aftermath of a crisis, disaster, public perception problem – and you should be way ahead and ready.  You have seconds to react, offer advice, move your team – so be ready. Tell your leadership, or be the leader and role model.  Be prepared.  The beginning of the year is a perfect time to have a ‘What If’ meeting and get the answers in writing.

New coined terms like ‘culturious’ (cultural immersion that satisfies your curiosity, according to Tauck who is using this term), “Keep it 100” means you are being true to yourself or a set of values, and “the emotional landscape” is full of acronyms and emoji’s – thanks to social media.

A local farmer writes a column about his life as a “foodpreneur” and calls himself a “farmacist”, his company name?  “The Farmacy” – says it all right?   Do you have a product or service that could create a new word?  Smarketing maybe?

8. Put it all together – differently – New coined terms like ‘culturious’ (Cultural immersion that satisfies your curiosity, according to Tauck who is using this term), “Keep it 100” means you are being true to yourself or a set of values, and “the emotional landscape” is full of acronyms and emoji’s – thanks to social media.  A local farmer writes a column about his life as a “foodpreneur” and calls himself a “Farmacists”, his company name?  “The Farmacy” – says it all right?   Do you have a product or service that could create a new word?  Smarketing maybe?

9. Get it in writing. No matter what you do, we’re being asked to sign agreements for more services.  To make sure that all those fees, surcharges, and taxes are disclosed up front, note  language along the lines of, “Neither Group nor its attendees are responsible for any fees or surcharges not enumerated in the contract (or signed off on at check in), or “good into perpituity in all mediums”.  Note language that is not clear and if you make a change initial the change and make copies.

10. See everything as an opportunity.  How many business cards have you given out lately?  Have you grown your LinkedIn, Facebook or other social media connections?  Set a goal to add 50 – 100 new contacts a month to your list, it’s easier than you might think!

Make 2018 the year you go for it, there will never be a better time.  Happy New Year!

Face to Face is #2 and E-mail is #1 – still all about two-way conversations

And the survey says… communication matters, and those two-way conversations whether by phone or via email are still the winners.  You can’t build a relationship, or tell a story, with one-way communications … so focus on the people you are trying to reach on the other end!

Email is holding its own in B2B sales despite minor slippage, according to State Of Inbound 2017, a global survey by HubSpot. Of 6,399 professionals surveyed in 141 countries, 86% prefer email for business communications — a loss of two percentage points from last year.

That drop doesn’t mean much when you consider the gap that follows, however: Face-to-face communication is a distant second, falling from 61% to 60% Phone communication comes in third, holding steady at 56%. And social media has fallen from 42% to 39%.

No wonder HubSpot concluded that “when it comes to communication channels, email is the clear winner.” It added that it had seen “slight decreases in people’s preference to communicate in nearly all channels.” The only one to grow was messenger apps — from 29% to 31%.

At the same time, email was rated the second-most effective channel for sales reps to connect with prospects, falling from 29% to 26%. The telephone, holding steady at 36%, was first. Facebook came in fourth, having risen from 9% to 12%. These results were consistent around the globe.

Communication methods depend on the person’s seniority. The telephone is the most popular way of reaching everyone from VP/director on down, with email second. For example, the phone was cited by 42% of respondents as the preferred way to reach managers, and email by 24%.

But email has parity at the C level — it was selected by 25%, compared to 26% who chose the phone.

The most daunting chore was getting a response from prospects (38%). That was followed by closing deals (35%), identifying good leads (30%) and engaging multiple decision makers at a company (27%). Connecting via phone was listed by 20%.

Of course, these findings are about tactical channel choices. Asked for their wider marketing priorities, 70% mentioned conversion of contacts and leads — nothing else even came close. Second was driving traffic to the Web site (53%), followed by increasing revenue from existing customers, at (43%).

Inbound practices produced the most high-quality leads, and outbound the least.

Overall, 61% of the respondents say their marketing is effective, while 39% say it isn’t. But it depends on the person’s rank. CEOs are most likely to feel that way (69%), and individuals/contributors are less so (55%). And while all regions are upbeat, North America is the most positive, while Asia is the least.

That said, these executives are moving into social media. Their marketing teams “will maintain or increase their presence on YouTube and Facebook video and focus on figuring out how to market on messaging apps such as WhatsApp,” HubSpot writes. “Snapchat is still a mystery for many businesses, and we see a dip in focus as marketers opt to spend their time on larger emerging channels.

Here are two more tidbits:

  • 44% claim that marketing and sales “are generally aligned.”
  • Salespeople are flummoxed when doing manual data entry – 23% say it’s their biggest hassle using their CRM tool.

What are these leaders’ sale priorities for the next 12 months? The answers were closing more deals (71%), improving the efficiency of the sale funnel (44%), social selling (29%), training the sales team (27%) and reducing the length of the sales cycle (26%).

But none of this will be easy. B2B marketers face these challenges:

  • Generating traffic and leads — 63%
  • Proving the ROI of our marketing activities — 40%
  • Securing enough budget — 28%
  • Identifying the right technologies — 26%
  • Managing our Web site — 26%
  • Targeting content for an international audience — 21%
  • Training our team — 19%
  • Hiring top talent — 16%
  • Finding an executive sponsor — 7%

Thanks, HubSpot. Let’s catch up again next year – originally published in Media Post, a commentary written by Ray Schultz, columnist.

The Ultimate Guide To Social Media – from the Ultimate Expert

If you ever get a chance to sit in on a presentation by Sree  Sreenivasan, you will see why he has a large following, including me.

Here is a link to a New York Times piece written by Sree and I encourage you to read and remember his words of advice.  He covers the top 5 social media platforms: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.

My thanks to Sree for bringing common sense wisdom to social media.  You can follow him on Twitter:  @sree

https://www.nytimes.com/guides/business/social-media-for-career-and-business?utm_source=sharetools&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=website

 

 

 

Something to think about at Thanksgiving – The Science of Gratitude – More Important Than $$$

3 MINUTE READ – from FAST COMPANY

The Science Of Gratitude And Why It’s Important In Your Workplace

Lack of gratitude is a major factor driving job dissatisfaction, turnover, absenteeism, and often, burnout.

This is the time of year when we focus on giving thanks, with many of us sharing our gratitude with friends and family. But when is the last time you thanked your employees? Coworkers? Or boss? If you haven’t recognized the members of your work team lately, you need to repair the oversight before your holiday leftovers are history.

Gratitude is absolutely vital in the workplace, says UC Davis psychology professor Robert Emmons, author of The Little Book of Gratitude: Creating a Life of Happiness and Wellbeing by Giving Thanks, and a leading researcher on the subject. “Most of our waking hours are spent on the job, and gratitude, in all its forms, is a basic human requirement,” he says. “So when you put these factors together, it is essential to both give and receive thanks at work.”

Gratitude has been the subject of numerous studies, and the findings could be beneficial to your workplace:

GRATITUDE IMPROVES CORPORATE CULTURE

Lack of gratitude is a major factor driving job dissatisfaction, turnover, absenteeism, and often, burnout, says Emmons. “In many organizations the workplace culture is toxic,” he says. “Symptoms of this are exploitation, complaint, entitlement, gossip, negativity.”

Expressing thanks is a remedy against these symptoms, says Emmons. “Grateful individuals live in a way that leads to the kind of workplace environment that human beings long for,” he says.

Gratitude also reduces aggression, according to a study by the University of Kentucky. Participants who practiced gratitude were more sensitive toward others and less likely to seek revenge or retaliation when given negative feedback.

GRATITUDE STRENGTHENS TEAMS

Gratitude takes people outside of themselves and to a place that is part of a larger, more intricate network of sustaining relationships, says Emmons, relationships that are mutually reciprocal. “In this sense, it, like other social emotions, functions to help regulate relationships, solidifying and strengthening them,” he says.

Gratitude also leads to reciprocity. “It is not only a response to kindnesses received, but it is also a motivator of future benevolent actions on the part of the recipient,” says Emmons. “Serving these functions, gratitude enhances our own well-being in that we are built for relationships,” he points out. “Gratitude is the high-octane fuel that, without which, we’d be in relational ruin.”

IT’S A BETTER MOTIVATOR THAN MONEY

Researchers from the London School of Economics found that financial incentives can backfire when it comes to motivating employees. An analysis of 51 separate experiments found overwhelming evidence that “incentives may reduce an employee’s natural inclination to complete a task and derive pleasure from doing so.”

Appreciation is a much better motivator. A study by Glassdoor found that 80% of employees would be willing to work harder for an appreciative boss, and 70% said they’d feel better about themselves and their efforts if their boss thanked them more regularly.

A study done at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania underscores this point. Researchers divided participants into two groups, and asked them to make fundraising calls to solicit alumni donations. One group followed the traditional method of making calls while another group was given a speech by the director of annual giving, who expressed gratitude for their efforts. The group who received the pep talk made 50% more fundraising calls than those who did not.

HOW TO DO IT

There is no limit to the way in which gratitude is expressed, says Emmons. “We are hungry for genuine expressions of gratitude,” he says. “Everyone wants to feel appreciated, valued, recognized.”

Employee recognition programs are a common way gratitude is demonstrated in workplaces, but little micro-expressions of gratitude are easier and can be delivered more frequently. “Just saying ‘thank you,’ acknowledging a kindness, or engaging in a helpful act are all ways of expressing gratitude,” says Emmons.

Particularly important is sincerity, adds Emmons. “With something like gratitude in the workplace, we know that it works, but we also know you have to keep gratitude authentic,” he says. “If, for instance, a leader tries to offer gratitude for purely cynical or instrumental reasons, it’s unlikely to work.

“Gratitude is the ultimate performance-enhancing substance at work,” says Emmons. “Gratitude heals, energizes, and transforms lives in a myriad of ways consistent with the notion that virtue is both its own reward and produces other rewards.”

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, you are very much appreciated – Laura

Will You Be OUT OF OFFICE this Holiday Season?

Will you be “out of office” over the upcoming holidays?

While traveling recently with a large group of travel writers, the discussion turned to the importance of travel and maximizing your vacation time.  Which led to me to thinking about the best way to manage your “out of office” communications.

I have an attorney friend who constantly has the same message up when she travels for business, and she does that weekly it seems.

In my case, I rarely post an out of office message, because I answer my phone and email anytime and from anywhere.

Are we both missing an opportunity to continue building our brands?  Yes I think we are, and as of today I am changing my ways!

Are you looking to add some personality, humor and information to your response?  Here’s an excellent piece from the New York Times on how others are managing this opportunity.  Click here to be inspired.

And have a great vacation too!

Do you dream of being a spell binding speaker? Use this smart advice to make your speeches all you can be.  

WHAT MADE “I HAVE A DREAM” SUCH A PERFECT SPEECH?speech getting applause 2015

A CLOSER LOOK AT ONE OF THE GREATEST SPEECHES IN AMERICAN HISTORY OFFERS INSPIRATION FOR ANYONE TRYING TO MOTIVATE A CROWD.

Each year on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I make it a point to listen to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s great “I Have a Dream” speech. It’s electrifying every single time.

The content of Dr. King’s speech, his inspiring presence, and the moment in history all came together to make the iconic “I Have A Dream” speech the defining moment of the American Civil Rights Movement. But there are several other reasons why this speech, delivered over 50 years ago, remains as an example of one of the best speeches in American history.

Since part of my job is to help people become better presenters, I’ve noticed several techniques that we can all learn from and be inspired by in this magnificent speech.

IT’S ANCHORED IN A POWERFUL RELATED LOCATION

In most cases, you can’t handpick the spot to give a presentation, as MLK did for supreme symbolic effect when he stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and echoed the opening words of the Gettysburg Address (“Five score years ago…). But you absolutely can amplify your message by adapting it to your setting and location.

speech A Lincoln 2015Think about place, and how you can weave imagery, anecdote, and historical context into your presentation. Even if you’re presenting essentially the same material in Annapolis and Anaheim, it’s worth exploring what inspiration you can draw from each location to make your overall presentation more unique, more tailored, and more memorable. Abraham Lincoln also incorporated context in his iconic speech.

HE INCLUDED TOUCHSTONES THAT SPOKE TO BOTH THE HEAD AND THE HEART

In his opening paragraphs, Dr. King eloquently references the Gettysburg Address as well as the Emancipation Proclamation, the Constitution, and Declaration of Independence. These intellectual references give his words weight and credibility; they ground his speech in significant historical context.

In the latter part of the speech, Dr. King turns his attention to his listeners’ emotions as he quotes passages from the Bible, “My Country Tis of Thee,” and a stirring Negro spiritual. It’s the elegant balance between these two elements—the intellectual and the emotional; the head and the heart—that makes his speech so compelling and satisfying.

Great presenters connect with their audiences by weaving in well-chosen references and touchstones that will resonate.

IT USES VIVID AND METAPHORICAL LANGUAGE

Let’s face it: Many speeches are boring, even those about important topics that affect our lives. It’s easy to default to jargon and technical terms, or get lost in complex facts and statistics. But when you use evocative, vivid language, you create strong and memorable images.

Dr. King doesn’t just address gradualism, he warns us about the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. He paints a vivid picture of the plight of African-Americans, “living on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.” He talks about his faith, with which “we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.”

For example, Dr. King weaves in an evocative extended metaphor, like a golden thematic thread, about cashing a check:

“In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.”

Vivid imagery, evocative language, and on-point metaphors are mighty tools for making your message clear and memorable.

HE SHARPENED IDEAS THROUGH CONTRAST

Nothing brings an idea or a concept sharply into focus like demonstrating what it’s not. In a presentation, there are a number of compelling ways to employ contrast—problem/solution, past/present, present/future, us/them, ideal/reality. MLK makes use of many of these, to great effect. For example:

“With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.”

And:

“The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.”

You might notice that Dr. King repeatedly contrasts what is against what could be. If you haven’t watched Nancy Duarte’s fascinating analysis of this method in “I Have a Dream,” be sure to take a few minutes to absorb her electrifying insights.

HE REINFORCED KEY POINTS THROUGH REPETITION

If there’s an important message you truly want your audience to remember and take away, saying it once is likely not enough.

Not only does repetition help your message stick, it can improve your presentation’s rhythm, structure, and flow, as in this gem of a passage:

“Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.”

Dr. King’s crucial idea—that now is the time for action—seeps into your consciousness and gathers strength through the expressive repetition and emphasis.

Purposeful repetition, stripped down to its purest essence, can be potent and poetic, but it’s worth noting that being repetitive—rambling or including too much extraneous information, is a different thing altogether. Strive for the first to make sure your key points truly sink in, and avoid the second by stripping away anything that doesn’t directly support those key messages.

HIS CALL TO ACTION IS CLEAR AND COMPELLING

Your presentation should be designed to inspire action or effect change—if it’s not, argues Seth Godin in “Every Presentation Worth Doing Has Just One Purpose,” what’s the point of giving it at all?

Dr. King, of course, is the master, articulating in lucid detail not only the action that must be taken (and the dire consequences if action is not taken)…

“We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment.”

…but how he wants his listeners to conduct themselves as they take action.

“In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.”

The sense of urgency is palpable, and his instructions are crystal clear. It’s a compelling call to action that can’t be ignored.

HE ENDS ON A HOPEFUL NOTE

Dr. King traverses intense emotional territory, from the “flames of withering injustice” to those “battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality.” But he closes by filling his listeners’ hearts with a hopeful, aspirational message. He paints a picture of how things can be:

“One day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”

Another example of this is the lovely passage that came to characterize his entire speech:

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

While most of us will never give a speech as rousing or historically important as Dr. King’s, we can all be inspired by his masterful craft and delivery, and try some of these techniques to make our words more stirring and our messages more powerful.Speech making BOOM 2015

Laura Bennett thanks the author —Catherine Carr is VP of Marketing and chief inspiration officer at Haiku Deck, a presentation tool based on visual storytelling. Her mission is to inspire entrepreneurs, marketers, thought leaders, educators, and creative communicators around the world to set their story free. 

Exceptional Role Models Make for Exceptional Careers

Christine Mau, named one of Ad Age’s “Women to Watch” and a former design director at Kimberly-Clark, says design must be brought into an organization’s full conversation, rather than considered an output.

American Marketing Association does an exceptional job of bringing us stories of people who we can learn from, emulate and follow.  A recent story in Marketing News gives insight into Christine Mau, read on!

Mau’s work has included the redesign of Kleenex boxes into oval and triangular formats, as well as the U by Kotex launch. The tampon brand presented its product in black and neon colors, a massive departure from the typical blue and white found in the feminine hygiene aisle.

This ability to talk about and design for what are sometimes considered taboo topics made her the prime candidate for co-creating the logo for No More, a movement for raising awareness and engagement around ending domestic violence and sexual assault.

The logo (pictured at right with Mau), which consists of a blue circle with a disappearing center—intended to evoke the concept of reducing the number of such experiences to zero—has been part of a global public service announcement effort that has received more than $2 billion in earned media.

https://www.ama.org/publications/eNewsletters/Marketing-News-Weekly/Pages/christine-mau-encourages-design-integration-in-marketing-process.aspx

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