Dear Client: Help Me Help You

I enjoy working with smaller businesses because they are in a unique position of being thisclose to becoming larger businesses.  They understand the hard work that’s involved with making a business successful and most understand that they can’t do everything.

Realizing that they are not marketing experts is how they ultimately become my clients. The relationship usually looks like this:

  • Company A gets to the point where they can no longer handle their own marketing or they need to take it to the next level
  • Company A cannot afford a fulltime marketing person and doesn’t want to put such a big role on an intern or as an add on to another persons job list
  • Company A brings me in to evaluate their needs
  • Company A is very excited at the ideas and strategies that we come up with
  • Company A continues the excitement and momentum of working together.

At least initially. At this point, one of two things almost always happens.  They company either continues working with us by providing up to date information on the happenings in their company, latest news and industry specific content OR they taper off, lose interest, stop communicating and therefore the value of the work we have been doing is diminished.

Eventually, if you do not communicate  and work with your outsourced marketing team, you, the company leader, start to believe that it’s a waste of time and money. Resentment at the expense will begin to build.  The good news is that this doesn’t have to be the case. How can you prevent this from happening?

It starts and ends with you – the company leader.

In order to have an effective relationship, it is CRITICAL that you communicate on a frequent basis. Return phone calls and emails. If we’re after you for news, events and updates, it’s because we, the marketing company, are doing the job that you hired us to do. Ideally, we should meet face to face once a month to evaluate where we are and determine any changes and tweaks in our plan that need to be made.  We are not mind readers. Since we are not on site with you on a day to day basis, we cannot know what is going on unless you or some other assigned point of contact lets us know. I have received notification of “big news” for some of my clients via Google alerts  and this is unacceptable.

If you are unhappy with the way something is going, it is your responsibility to let us know.  Ignoring our efforts to do our job (or cease paying your bills) is a catastrophic move for everyone. We’re all professionals and if we don’t work together as a team, we are all going to fail.

What other suggestions would you add to this either as a marketer or a business leader?

Kristen
@KristenDaukas
www.TwinCitySAM.com
@TwinCitySAM

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You Can Do It

Yes, you. You, the small business owner who laments over every nickel you spend (and rightfully so in this economy)… You can “do” your own social media.

But you are going to have to make the time. Not take the time… MAKE the time.

It’s not easy and you’re going to be confused. But stick with it and I promise, it will get easier. If you need help understanding verbiage – google it. I promise the answer is out there. If you are the type who wants to understand quickly and get up and running fast – hire someone like me.  A consultant who can add jet fuel to your plan. But no matter what… DON’T give up. And learn something new.

Make this the year that you finally “get” Twitter. Find one new site that you think you’ll get a lot of meaning out of. Like to take pictures? Instagram is great. Like to sort things into piles? Pinterest is your answer.  Finally start writing that blog that you’ve promised yourself (and me) that you would do. But please – try something new and stop being so afraid of not being perfect at it. You’ll get better in time and this time next year, we can talk about something different to learn.

Now go and do it.

Kristen
@KristenDaukas
www.TwinCitySAM.com
@TwinCitySAM

 

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Social Media, Marketing’s New Gold Standard

Implementing social media should become a requirement in the basis of all businesses. As technology continues to be woven into society we’re now just seeing how robust it’s becoming. Twitter reportedly has over one million active users; which fifty percent log in everyday according to Twitter’s CEO. http://slate.me/q7a3O7  You are able to reach a broad audience of customers along with better quality of leads due to the ability to focus in on your specific niche market beyond what you may have envisioned.

Our world once was round but has become flat due to the Internet putting us on level playing field. So many economic policies are focused to help entrepreneurs and small business owners succeed through there entrepreneurial journey. Some of these policies include STEM and SBA loan incentive programs.  The most unique thing above all is that while advertising on Twitter in the next three to five years we will see smart phones and mobile websites becoming integrated more into our lives, making this the perfect time to integrate your niche market with this area.

During the gold rush plenty of people struck it rich digging while only few did it by simply strategic planning and providing the tools required. Levi Jeans and Wells Fargo are two companies that blossomed. They provided tool to the diggers such as durable jeans and financing.  As you see finding a niche market will separate you from others.

One of Strauss’ customers, a Reno, Nevada tailor named Jacob Davis, designed heavy cotton work pants in 1870, hammering rivets onto the pocket corners to make them more durable. Unable to afford a patent application, Davis proposed a partnership with Levi Strauss & Co. in 1872. “The secret of them Pents,” he wrote, “is the Rivits that I put in those Pockets and I found the demand so large that I cannot make them up fast enough.” Strauss took Davis up on his offer, and the Nevada man moved to San Francisco to become head tailor and production foreman. Their “waist high overalls” quickly gained favor among the region’s miners, teamsters, lumberjacks, and farmers. By the end of 1873, thousands of San Franciscans were wearing Strauss and Davis’s pants. The company would later register the name “Levi’s” as a trademark.

Through this example with Levi’s you can see just how sometimes taking a step back and looking at the crowd really put things into perspective. The best metaphor to describe this is having your hands over your face and not seeing whats in front of you. If you would just take a deep breath and move your hands back to see the big picture you would no longer feel overwhelmed.

Feel free to make social media apart of your life. It’s not a matter of if it will make a difference, but how much of a difference will you allow it to make. Technology continues to become an integrated part of our lives. To learn about the life of a pioneer and true innovator check out this PBS page.

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Facebook Changes – Stay Calm and Carry On

If there was ever a time this phrase mattered, I think it’s the past 24 hours.

As a business owner, there are a lot of unknowns in the world of Social Media Marketing. It’s unknown howKristen Daukas social media twin city sales and marketing nc many “fans” your Facebook page will get. It’s unknown what the magical mixture of pictures, polls and questions is.  It’s unknown if your tweets will get retweeted. It’s unknown if you’ll ever really “get” social media.

However, there is one thing that usually ISN’T an unknown and that is change.

It’s challenging for smaller business owners to handle change in an area that they’re already not familiar with. Most are just getting by with the basic day to day management of their Facebook and Twitter accounts. And then, just like that, whatever little comfort level they had is gone.

It’s okay.. this too shall pass. You’ll get used to it. Make sure you’re reading your favorite blogs and following the tweets of industry leaders. If you use a consultant to help you with your social media, ask them about the changes and how it will affect your strategy (and if you don’t have a strategy find a new consultant).

But, no matter what.. just hang in there and remember.. never put 100% of your efforts into one thing. Social Media is a tool – not a solution… Think of it as the dessert to your entire marketing plan dinner.  And while dessert for dinner is nice every once in a while, you certainly can’t live off of it.

Always, always, always stay on top of the new things happening because as I mentioned – the only thing that isn’t unknown is change!

Kristen
@KristenDaukas
www.TwinCitySAM.com
@TwinCitySAM

Divine artwork by Endless Origami!

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Foursquare’s “Win” and How it Affects Location Based Marketing

The social media world is all a-flutter over the announcement this week that Facebook has “checked out” of  ”checking in”.  There are a lot of theories as to why and of course, I have mine as well.  So, here goes:

Professionally, I think it’s because the average person doesn’t “get” checking in and even if they do there’s that whole safety and stalker factor. Although, truth be told – I have yet to have someone track me down because they saw me check in someplace. That beingkristen daukas social media restaurant marketing said, I *am smart about when I do it and who I’m with because you never know.  It still stuns me when I see folks checking in from home but that’s a whole different post.

Back to my point… so yes.. I think ALL of the LBM companies have done a horrible job at explaining the advantages to both consumers AND businesses why checking in can be such a win-win for everyone.  Tom Webster has a post today on BrandSavant and his explanation of the similarities to loyalty cards is spot on. You’re already checking into places every time you give them that card or your phone number. There are so many great opportunities to offer savings and other initiatives but no one has effectively gotten their point across. So, professionally – I believe that realized it wasn’t an area that they needed to focus their attention on.

FacebookNow, personally…. I think it’s because they didn’t have badges.  I’ll confess right here.. the main reason that I love LBM is not for the deals (most employees look at you like deer in the headlights when you mention it) but for the BADGES!

I can say with almost 99% certainty that I was the first or one of the first persons in the Winston area to start checking in.. my kids were in AWE that I was the “mayor” of so many places (seriously.. it doesn’t take much to impress them, does it?!). I remember trying to get Foursquare but it was only live in 15 cities a couple of years ago so I went over to Gowalla which was located all over.  It didn’t take much time before many morekristen daukas social media restaurant marketing folks were on Foursquare so I let that become my LBM of choice.  But recently, I went back to using Gowalla as well and it was because of their BADGES!! They’re beautiful!  I really enjoyed using Gowalla on a recent family trip to Texas.. I believe I ended up with 10 new state badges not to mention all the touristy ones.

Gowalla is my go-to LBM for traveling but the winner for specials is definitely Foursquare.  I’m hoping that they will take this “victory” this week and really focus on getting businesses to aggressively use them to lure new customers.  It really is a potential goldmine if done well.

What do you think? Is this a boon for Foursquare or a nail in the coffin for these services?

Kristen
@KristenDaukas
www.TwinCitySAM.com
@TwinCitySAM

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Deleting Comments — Bad Move

I preach this over and over and over again -If your customers leave you a bad review or critical remark on any of your social media sites or even your company website, do NOT delete it.

Let me say that again.  Do NOT delete it.  The only thing you’re going to accomplish byKristen DAukas Twin City Sales and Marketing customer service deleting them is ticking them off even more.

The only time that you should ever delete a comment like that is if there is profanity or otherwise threatening behavior.  You are not invincible. You are going to make mistakes. Your employees are going to make mistakes. Get over it and deal with it. You cannot be on the front line 24/7 and if you are – chances are you’re making more mistakes than you realize.  Your customer is the one who is going to tell you when something is not right and you know what? You should thank them.

Yes, thank them.

When I was working and managing in F&B, I was grateful to the customer that took the time to let me know when we messed up. You know why? They were in the minority. The other 80% of customers just never came back. So, we never got the chance to make things right, prove we were worthy of their business and win them back.

Now that I am on the consulting side of the business, I see it all too often both as a consultant and as a consumer. It happened last night to one of my former clients. I still get the pings when someone comments on their Facebook page or mentions them on Twitter.  Their customer (who was an obvious frequenter) posted that if they weren’t going to accept a certain coupon, they should remove the advertisement from their establishment.  And the restaurant deleted his comment. And when he mentioned that them deleting the comment made him angry, they deleted that one, too.

Ouch.  Guess what – he’s not coming back. And he was right in his complaint. They shouldn’t advertise a special they’re not honoring.

So, how do you handle it?

First and foremost – acknowledge it. Let them and everyone else who’s watching (they are!) know that you are there to listen and help their issue. Then, you take it off line ASAP. Say something to the effect of “Joe Diner, we are sorry that you had an issue in our restaurant. Will you please email us at YourEmail@Company.com so we can get all the details of what happened?”. I recommend you have a “spare” email address set up just for these kind of instances. Then, from there – you solve their issue. Or maybe you don’t.. but either way you’re showing John Q. Public that you care what they have to say and are interested in doing something if they have a problem.

Have you seen really bad cases of this? I know I’ve seen plenty but always love a good war story especially if there’s a happy ending!

Good luck and good engaging!

Kristen
@KristenDaukas
www.TwinCitySAM.com
@TwinCitySAM

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What A Tupperware Party Can Teach You About Social Media

I recently attended an “at home” party which, if you’ve never been to one, entails a group of people (usually women) gathering in someones home for a product demonstration and socializing.  They’re usually a good time but every single one of them involves the same schedule.

  1. Gather and socialize with other party attendeesKristen Daukas Twin City SAM social media nc
  2. Listen to presenter talk about her company
  3. Watch as they demonstrate their wares
  4. Play some lame “get to know you” game
  5. Listen to pitch as to why *I* should become a seller for the company
  6. Buy the items
  7. Socialize more, eat, drink and then leave

As I left the last party, my BFF and I discussed how broken and antiquated this system was.  Here is where these groups go wrong (in my opinion) and how I see that it relates to what many are doing incorrectly in their social media efforts.

It all comes down to this – know your audience. By now most of us have been to one of these parties, so we get it. We know you want us to sell for you. We know you have the greatest cookware, fashion ware, widget known to mankind. If I want to sell for you or host my own party, I will ask you about the opportunity. Otherwise, skip it.

The same can be said for social media marketing.  If your target demographic is 80 years old, chances are they’re not going to be on Facebook.  Figure out where they’re going to be (print, perhaps?) and go after them. If you’re marketing to teenagers, speak their language.. they can tell when it’s a 40 year old behind the voice.

Understand that 99% of the time, I either already buy from you or have come prepared to buy.  If I’m sitting in front of you with a check in hand, don’t turn me off or waste my time with a smoke and mirrors game.  Instead, tell me why you’re different from all the others that are selling pretty much the same thing as you. Most likely, I have already done my research on the product, so now I want to buy from someone that I like and that I perceive as fun and engaging.

Make your story compelling & interesting – THEN I will recommend it (and you) to my friends. Don’t ask me for their information. I am as protective of their info as I am about my own.  You can ask me 100 different ways for me to suggest you to my friends, but if I don’t see value in what you do – I’m not going to do it. Give me a reason why I should and I will. Putting good and engaging information in front of people will make them want to do this!

What you’re selling is not nearly as important to me as the time that I have just given you. You have one shot at impressing me and getting that brass ring of MY recommendation. Don’t blow it.  We try so hard to achieve the holy grail of BIG numbers, TONS of followers and the JACKPOT of sales! Stop focusing on how much I may buy from you but rather, focus on the quality of our relationship.  I can’t tell you how many times I have gone back to someone purely because they didn’t focus on the ROI but instead, focused on the ROE. Or as I like to say (as the customer) the “Return On mE“.

Marketing your company is a challenging and daunting task, but it is not impossible. If you think of it as the Golden Rule of Marketing – Market unto others as you would have them market to you, then it becomes even easier.

Good luck and good engaging!

Kristen
@KristenDaukas
www.TwinCitySAM.com
@TwinCitySAM

 

 

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2011: A Disaster Odyssey

What does a disaster look like to you? For me, it depends on the day. Today, it’s my 12 year olds room. Last week – who knows.

A disaster is defined as a calamitous event, especially one occurring suddenly and causing great loss of life, damage, or hardship, as a flood, airplane crash, or business failure.

9/11 was certainly a disaster of epic proportions but it’s the more day to day “disasters” that I want to focus on right now.

You know.. the ones that make us go “Oh crap” or worse.  It’s the thoughts that keep us up at night and on our toes during the day.

A recent one that comes to mind is Taco Bell.  It was revealed that the beef in Taco Bell’s food might make you run for something other than the border. I’m sure their PR department lost a lot Kristen Daukas Twin City SAM Winston Salem NC Social Mediaof sleep those few days. Some may have lost their jobs.

Today, I came across an article about a teacher in PA who is currently on paid leave for something she wrote in her (personal) blog in 2009 (hello – delayed reaction??). I’m not here to argue whether she was right in calling high school students unmotivated but rather to point out something poignant in the article.

“This is really murky stuff,” a staffer said. “When you have a teacher using their blog to berate their students, maybe that’s a little less murky. But the larger issue is, I think, districts are totally unprepared to deal with this.”

It’s not just school districts that are unprepared…it’s 75% of corporate America that is unprepared to handle a disaster in 2011.

I’ve mentioned before that I used to work in disaster recovery and business continuity. The layman’s definition of that industry is “how to get your business back up and running with the least amount of down time possible”. It used to primarily be IT focused. Now it’s IT, PR, best practices, etc. Really, anything can really be a disaster if you’re company is under the spotlight in a not so favorable light.

Bad news has always traveled fast.  Introduce social media into it and you can just toss gas onto that fire (which, by the way, is burning in the headwinds of arid weather) because that’s how quickly it’s going to spread.

Here’s a free tip – Rarely does disaster schedule itself on your iCal.  You must be prepared.

What will you do if someone discovers you don’t use real meat and it goes viral? What will you do if someone gets hold of a security tape of your staff adding their own secret sauce to the pizza?

You owe your company and your staff and your board members a plan of action. You must know what you will do in the face of disaster.   Whether that disaster is a physical blow or an “emotional” blow.   You need to know who will address it, what they will say, who they will contact before they say what they’re going to say and so on.

Be prepared – get a plan together now before it’s too late. It can be a detailed book or it can be as simple as quick thinking and a sense of humor.  Observe the quick witted reaction today by the Red Cross when one of their staff members tweets ended up on the wrong account. OOPS!

What disasters have you seen and in your opinion, how have they been handled?

Kristen

Twin City SAM

336-685-1501

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@TwinCitySAM

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Love Me Now or Lose Me Forever

Perception is reality.  Whether you’re talking about personal or business, one of the most important lessons you can learn is that a person’s perception is their reality.

Period.

I learned this lesson years ago at the hands of the GM at Lucky 32. I actually learned a LOT of my customer service lessons at that restaurant. Funny to sit and think how much I learned there.  Anyhow.. I digress.

If a guest complained that their food was cold – it was cold. It didn’t matter if there was steam rolling off the plate – to the paying guest it was cold. And you had best get it fixed pronto otherwise their experience (and your tip) was going to go south – pronto.  It was a  tough lesson to learn for some servers.  They would rather argue that no – the dish wasn’t cold – than actually take care of it and make the guest (and ultimately, themselves) happy.

This happens, not just in restaurants, but in many other areas as well.

I experienced this last weekend and this weekend with Windstream who is my internet provider.

We use a lot of broadband around here. We have 5 laptops, 1 iPhone, 2 iTouches, DS gaming devices, Wii, etc.. you get the idea — we suck a lot of internet.  2 weeks ago, I noticed that our service was becoming “unstable” and not running as quickly as I needed it to. So, I finally put a call into tech support only to be told that everything was fine.

Really?  Everything is fine?

I just went thru a very detailed explanation of the issues that I’ve been having – what new items that I have brought into the mix and the steps that I have taken to try to get the issue fixed on my own and you tell me that, according to your records, everything is fine but if it should happen again, feel free to call back.

Not the answer I was looking for.

So today, I finally had another chapter of time to devote to calling in and was blessed to reach someone who understood me, my actions and gasp! Acknowledged that my “perception” was a “reality”.  He didn’t spend a lot of time talking but instead, assured me that they would send a field tech out to figure out why my speed was dropping.

2 hours later the field tech was at my door and very impressed at the rapidly blinking light show that my wireless router was giving off.  (insider info..it’s not supposed to do that)

He swapped out my router, tipped his hat and went on his merry way.

The lesson here is don’t let your ego get in the way of your customers experience. They have a choice of where to spend their money and their time. If they’ve chosen to spend it with you and they perceive that something is missing or wrong, correct it or risk losing them.

What do you think?

Cheers!

Kristen

Twin City SAM

336-685-1501

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@TwinCitySAM

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If You Build It…

… You must maintain it.

It was a (not so) snowy day here in the Triad.. school’s out but not knowing if everything else would be cancelled or postponed, I head to the Facebook page for one of the centers where my girls take classes. No mention of  classes being cancelled, so we head over for our 3:30 class. They’re closed. Returning home, I see that they HAD updated their website, but not any of their social media sites.

It’s been said many times over that one of the most aggravating things for social media visitors is to arrive at a companies Facebook page and find that it’s been days or worse- WEEKS since it’s been updated. If you are going to forage into the world of social media, you need to be prepared to keep it up.  Think of a time when you were heading over to your favorite restaurant… you loaded up the car, drove across town – ready to enjoy your favorite dish. As you pull up, you notice there is an empty lot. Determined, you park, get out of the car and head to the door where you’re greeted by – nothing – no sign just a dark building.  Frustrating, isn’t it?

That’s how your followers feel when they show up at your Facebook page or Twitter account and find it’s been abandoned.

It’s not easy and it takes time. But let’s be honest- it’s not brain surgery, either.  If you’re willing to invest the time, you CAN build a great page and a great following. It won’t happen overnight but if you give up after 6 weeks (average amount of time a company sticks to it) then you’ll never know the true power and FUN social media can be.  There’s a reason “everyone” has a page – people have come to expect it. It’s like it was 5 years ago when people found out you didn’t have a website or an email address. People notice when you’re not there or you start and then abandon the effort.

The key point here is that people get their information from different sources.  If one of the information resource options you’ve given your customers is social media – make sure you maintain it.

What do you think?

Cheers!

Kristen

Twin City SAM

336-685-1501

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@TwinCitySAM

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