okanagan small business marketing

7 Social Media Misconceptions

Transition-Marketing-ServicesSocial Media Marketing.

Social Media has quickly grown as a marketing tool. Several years ago there was a massive push by marketing consultants to bring clients of all backgrounds onto Social Media. This has dramatically changed the social media scene in both feel and usage. As corporations took to the Social Media “Airwaves” the content and type of usage has evolved.

The need to increase ad revenue has pushed the big contenders in new directions which has significantly impacted their content, the display of YOUR content and the overall reason for the average household’s usage. Not everyone has been happy with the changes, and many users have become disenchanted with the big Social Media platforms, seeing them as no more than Corporate shills. Yet usage continues to be steady.

Like it or not we will continue to see this push by Marketing & Advertising agencies for a few years yet, until the next big tech revolution occurs, or until our first big tech blackout happens. All indications are that advertising options will continue to grow as a must for many Social platforms.

This Social Media revolution has taken place over a little more than a decade. Over that time the platforms have evolved, the tools have adjusted and our methods have changed. Tips and tricks for optimal Social Media usage have come and gone like political promises.

In three previous posts we have outlined several Social Media misconceptions. Ideas, tips and information that simply are not true. These posts can be found here:

In the following post we will finish up with 7 final Social Media Misconceptions that business owners and marketers alike can (and should) ignore.

Okanagan-Marketing

7 Social Media Misconceptions.

1) Engagement Is The All Important Metric.

Let’s start by explaining. There are two key non-paying metrics involved in Social Media:

  • Number of Followers: Your number of followers or likes – essentially your Social Media audience.
  • Follower Engagement: Your engagement and individual connectivity with your followers.

Now both of these metrics are important, both will lead to potential sales and income. However neither by themselves will generate dollars. In our previous post we discussed why gaining followers is not the single key to success on Social Media. Engaging them is equally important, however one must note that “Follower Engagement” itself is considered a non-paying metric also.

Follower Engagement not only a non-paying metric, it’s also a fuzzy metric with many different interpretations. It is important of course. It establishes communication and relationships with potential leads and it provides insight into which of your content is connecting with your audience, which then impacts your future content and design decisions.

Follower Engagement however, is simply one more piece in the big-picture-puzzle. Your number of followers does not alone dictate your economic success, likewise engagement with those followers is just another in a several step process to generating sales interest.

2) Only Publish Content About Your Company.

Wrong.

I personally do not want to hear or witness a non-stop feed of propaganda about your business. If you are publishing only messages and content about your company, unless I am a stock holder, I DON’T CARE.

Ask yourself this: Would you want to sit and listen to someone you hardly know tell you all about how great they are? Probably not.

Why then would anyone voluntarily listen to you spout of a list of your awards, events, products, reviews etc? It is the exact same thing, and it is obnoxious. I will unfollow you quickly, as will the bulk of Social Media users.

Instead let your audience assist in dictating your content. The odd post about your companies recent achievement, or new product is great – but build the rest of your content based on what your audience wants. Think about it like romancing a first date. If you do all the talking, attempting to promote yourself, there likely won’t be a second date. Instead ENGAGE them. Find out about them, take an interest in their lives. Base your conversation around what THEY are saying.

Ask yourself (or rather ask them).

  • What are their concerns?
  • What are their problems?
  • What are their challenges?
  • What are they interested in?
  • What are they talking about?

Romance your audience. Pay attention to them and engage them with your content.

3) You Should Post A Certain # Of Posts Each Day.

This is a common misconception and it is actually rooted in legitimate research. There are in fact optimal times during the day in which to post, likewise there is an optimal frequency with which to post. There has in fact been a great deal of research done on the topic including this great report by Dan Zarrella.

However, this research is not carved in stone and it does not necessarily pertain to everyone. As with any data and research, this report was based on independent results stemming from multiple test posts over a large number of accounts.

Every Social Media platform is different and has different optimal times for posts. Similarly every independent Social Media user has a different audience with different schedules, browsing habits and agendas.

We recommend that users do their own research based on their own profiles and their own audience:

  1. Test the timing for each of your posts and see when you are receiving the best level of connectivity with your followers.
  2. Test the frequency and verify the same.
  3. Test your content and see what is engaging the most.

Remember, these are YOUR followers, they are custom to you and your post scheduling should reflect that.

4) Setup Your Facebook or Twitter or Blog (etc) Profile and The Rest Is A Breeze.

Wrong again. Very wrong.

Engaging in Social Media is just like any other “Social” or Networking event. It is not enough to just be there. You need to be involved.

Think about it this way. If you set up a booth at a trades show and sat in a chair in the corner for the duration and never spoke to a soul, what would you expect for results? Social Media is much the same. It requires constant vigilance, updates and response. It is called “Social” Media for a reason. The entire premise of it is to get out and connect with other users. It is about conversing, communicating and networking.

Social Media requires time and effort. It requires consistent maintenance and updates.

5) You Can Just Wing It On Social Media.Small-Business-Plan

There is a misconception that Social Media requires little planning, that one can just post to it as they see fit.

In fairness, Social Media does require a flexible and adaptable controller and the posts can be spur of the moment. When operating a Social Media profile the controller must be prepared for anything, you are engaging people over the anonymity of the internet after all, and that can result in some bizarre interactions.

However, while flexibility is a must, so is an overall strategy. A few things to consider when developing a Social Media strategy:

  1. Why are you on Social Media?
  2. What are you goals?
    • How will you achieve them?
  3. Who are you targeting?
    • How will you find them?
    • How will you approach them?
  4. What content will you need to develop and post?
    • Do you have the means to do so?
    • Who will be in charge of doing so?

Figure our you goals, then determine who you want to connect with to achieve them; how you want to connect with them and what you need to do so? Who in your company is responsible for what? Have a plan to ensure success.

6) Every Division Of Your Company Needs An Individual Account.

They don’t.

You don’t.

Big corporations often go this route. Many large corporate companies (Kohler, Apple, Coca-Cola etc) have multiple accounts. In fact a report by Altimeter indicates that the average corporation has 178 corporate controlled Social Media accounts. That is an overkill even for companies of monolithic proportions.

The fact is that for every additional Social Media account, you are incurring added costs, added drain on resources and another avenue that can jeopardize the consistency of your brand’s communications. For the small to mid-size business especially, this makes zero sense. In addition, adding multiple accounts divides your efforts, provides far more information to analyze and reduces your overall Social Media reach.

The best plan is to create and build up a single account on whichever platforms you have deemed pertinent. If you have multiple target markets, don’t create multiple accounts, rather diversify the content on a single account, to reach the different targets from one place.

7) Don’t Ask Followers To “Follow, Like or RT” You.

This is a bit of a fair presumption actually. It seems quite forward and rude almost to just come out and ask someone to “Like” you. Yet the truth is that it works. There won’t be any terrible fallout or heckling as a result. You are simply putting it forward to someone – already engaged with your content – to share it. It is a  polite call to action and it is in fact a recommended thing to do.

Don’t abuse it of course, if you are constantly badgering everyone to RT every post… well that may indeed get a little stale.

Okanagan Small Business Marketing

Transition Marketing Services is a small business marketing firm in the Okanagan. Our passion Small Business Marketing. Educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how we’re doing or if you have any questions.

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Christmas Marketing Ideas For Small Business

 

Christmas is a magical time of the year.

Christmas is a magical time of the year.

Christmas is incredible. Arguably our favorite time of the year. There is a feel in the air, an ineffable spirit that surrounds the holiday season.

Christmas is more than just presents. It is a full-out event. A holiday affair with all the fixings and it presents opportunities to those businesses savvy enough to notice.

A Regular Pine Tree Becomes Magical When It Is Dressed Up For Christmas.

Consider that for a moment. It is the perfect metaphor for Christmas marketing. A regular business can dress itself and its marketing up for the Christmas season and suddenly it is playing a part in something bigger than itself. It has entered the world of “Holiday Festivities” and it has tapped into the buzz that goes along with it.

The Christmas season does that. Whether referred to as “Christmas” or just the “Happy Holidays” the fact is that this time of year draws everyone in. It generates a fervor and an excitement. In fact research shows that our human nature actually justifies spending cash when it is for others and in the spirit of “holiday giving”.

Got that?

That is why we are so much more willing with pull out the Visa or Master Card between the months of November and January. We can justify taking on the extra costs and the interest rates, because it is Christmas.

The lowly pine tree becomes magical this time of year.

The lowly pine tree becomes magical this time of year.

Why else would anyone knowingly attempt to navigate their local mall during the Christmas rush? It is absolute madness when you consider it, yet we do it and often enjoy it, because it is Christmas.

So how does a small business go about taking part in this enormous consumer rush? Here are a few ideas.

Keep It Christmas.

Here is the big fat disclaimer on everything you will read below. Marketing Christmas can be done tastefully, or it can be done tactlessly. There is a reason that so many people are jaded by the holiday season. They do not want to be marketed to in a cheesy, used-car salesman way. The entire point of “Christmas Marketing” is to broadcast the Christmas Spirit while explaining what your business has to offer.

The moment you make the sale more important than the season, you are crossing a line that should not be crossed. We encourage small businesses to take part in the holiday season, to play a role in it and within their community. By doing so you are engaging in the spirit of Christmas and will benefit as such. Should you forget the reason for your sales, should the almighty dollars become more important than the reason people are spending them, you will burn yourself out and alienate many consumers.

Basically, remember Christmas and keep things light.

Starbucks gets it. Decorate and celebrate Christmas WITH consumers.

Starbucks gets it. Decorate and celebrate Christmas WITH consumers.

Dress Your Shop For The Occasion.

My son is three. He LOVES Christmas lights. He LOVES Christmas trees. He LOVES “Ho Ho Ho” (his term for Santa Claus). He is not alone.

Dress your business up for the festivities. Go overboard. Hang the wreathes and lights, put up a tree, present your business as a holiday experience. This is one time of the year that garish displays are not only acceptable but encouraged. The extra labour and cost will be quickly offset by the increased traffic and sales.

Keep it classy and professional. Provide Joe Customer with a reason to come and “experience” the holidays with your business.

Don’t underestimate the draw that Christmas decorations can have on all of us.

Decorate Online.

Your shop is not the only place that customers can view your business. If you are online (and you should be) make sure to update your website, social media and any other online mediums.

Don’t shy away, by going “Full-Christmas” you are going to drive customers to your business. All instances of your brand / business image should be updated to represent the holiday season. You will not regret it. Spread the cheer!

A nice customized Christmas card is always a nice touch.

A nice customized Christmas card is always a nice touch.

Christmas Cards.

By Christmas cards we really mean more of a postcard. Create a 4 x 6 JPG and you can print it out at any local photo shop for just pennies a piece. Print out a few hundred and then distribute them to the local community.

The card itself should be tasteful and professional. It should display Christmas first and foremost and your business second. Why? People do not need another flier, however a nice photo titled “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas” wishing them all the best is perfect. Simply include your business logo, name and brief contact info somewhere on it so they know from whom it came.

Don’t use it to try to sell, instead use it to spread the holiday cheer and they will repay the favour.

Christmas-SalesChristmas Sales.

This goes without saying. Every business offers sales during the Christmas season. It is what you do with those sales that makes the difference. Up the ante, push the envelope a little and get creative.

One idea that we saw was a “12 Days Of Christmas” sale. It offered special “Super-Sales” on specific items for each of the 12 days leading up to Christmas.

There is a certain amount of prep work to be done for Christmas sales in order to capitalize on them.

  • Stocking up on specific merchandise in advance is key. Have a good stock ready for the influx of shoppers that come with Christmas sales.
  • Stock up well in advance. Consider approaching your vendors as early as summer to negotiate bulk prices and stock on items for your Christmas sales.
  • Know your margins and pick your percentages wisely. Choose items to put on sale that have good solid price margins that allow you to turn a profit even on a sale.
  • Go through inventory and take the opportunity to push overstocked items or other items that need to go prior to the new year.

When putting on the sales, you will find more success in offering specific items at a greatly reduced discount as opposed offering smaller discounts on multiple items. In other words consider offering 50% or more on just one or two items as opposed to 10-25% on all of your items. This can be a great way to drive traffic into your store.

Go at it with the thought of “assisting consumers” in finding the gifts for their loved ones.

Displays, Displays, Displays.

Put up and maintain a regular rotation of product displays throughout the holiday season. They should be decorative and festive. This plays into your Christmas Sales as items that are on sale that day should be prominently displayed and accessible.

Invite Santa.Small-Business

Consider having jolly old St. Nick visit your store. Advertise it and invite families and their kids to partake. Create a festive event around it and by extension, around your store. Show yourself to be a community minded business that is anxious to take part in everyone’s holiday cheer.

Give Away Christmas Cheer.

It may be as simple as handing out free hot chocolate to customers, or perhaps candy canes. The more Christmas buzz you can create around your place of business, the more traffic it will generate. How many of your competitors are standing on the curb outside giving passerby’s something to warm themselves?

Be Properly Staffed.

The Christmas season can (and should) mean increased traffic and sales within your store. Nothing will put customers off more than having to wait in line while one person attempts to ring in a dozen customers.

Don’t be caught off guard. Make sure you have enough staff to give your customers a positive experience.

Worried that you will wind up paying someone to stand around during the lulls?

  • Put them outside to hand out hot chocolate to customers.
  • Get them gift wrapping purchases for customers.
  • Have them update your Christmas decor throughout the day.
  • Put them to use maintaining your inventory levels.

All of this brings us to our next tip…

Ensure Staff Is Trained For Success.Small-Business-Training

Do not leave your hiring to the last-minute. Hire and train your employees to know what they are talking about. They should be an extension of you the owner.

  • They should be able to offer great service and process customer needs quickly.
  • They should have enough info to answer basic questions, and be equipped to get the info for more difficult ones.
  • They should be trained on how to make the sale.

This last one is important. Equip your employees to make the sale when you are unavailable. They need to know it is part of their job to sell your great products and services. Equip them with what they need to do that.

Make sure your staff is trained to sell in a way that provides each customer with an outstanding in-store experience. They should know how to assist customers in finding what they need and the various options or add-ons available.

Christmas Advertising.

Offering great sales is one thing but you need to get the word out there. Take to every avenue available to get the word out. Email, newspapers, magazines, fliers, posters, radio, television, social media, website updates. The options for broadcasting your info are endless. Choose the ones that make the most sense and then go hard.

It will cost you in the short-term, but the increased sales will more than pay those bills.

Include photos of the items, include photos of your decorated store, include photos of everything. Photos grab the eye, once you have the eye you have the attention and they will seek to learn more. Keep the verbiage brief and clear. Keep it simple. A photo, a price and the sales discount will speak volumes.

Transition-Marketing-Services

Transition Marketing Services is a small business marketing firm in the Okanagan. Our passion Small Business Marketing. Educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how we’re doing or if you have any questions.

Successful Advertising Explained

Cashing in on one of the biggest successes of 2013.

Cashing in on one of the biggest successes of 2013.

Funny stuff. We came across this on Reddit. We sure do love a funny sign.

That is indeed what it is, a funny sign and we LOVE sharing funny signs. However every once in a while someone asks the question, why?

Why share it? How is this useful? what good is it? Sure they had a sign with their name on it. Sure they put something funny on it. But so what? Did it land a sale?

How is this beneficial to business? Where is the ROI? Isn’t this just a random sign? Is this a part of a larger business plan?

The truth is no it isn’t a part of some larger, elaborate business plan. It is simply a sign that was concocted by a small business owner on the fly to promote their business. There likely was no large meeting, no discussion with Public Relations, no mock-ups, no approvals sent off.

It is simply a chalkboard sign on a sidewalk. Simple. Basic. No strings attached.

Yet it is the simple little gems like this one that best illustrate the big picture behind effective advertising. There are three key elements for effective advertising:

  1. “Content”,
  2. “Relevance”,
  3. “Call to action”.

(Hint: This particular ad encompasses two of three of them). Let’s examine for a moment.

CONTENT:

For an advertisement (or any marketing venture) to be effective it must engage the consumer. It must grab their attention long enough to communicate the bare essentials required to generate a “sales lead”. It must create an interest in the viewer to know more about the product or service. This “Engagement” is the first step to landing a sale. If you can engage (IE interest) the consumer, you are getting them on the proverbial “hook” and working towards reeling them in.

Good “Relevant” “Content” dictates an advertisement’s effectiveness. The better and more relevant the content, the higher the ROI (IE the more leads are generated). When an advertisement is developed there are numerous facets considered in order to determine the best “Content” for the job. Among them one considers:

  1. The target market and the type of consumers that one is trying to attract. This can include age, gender, geography, race, sexual preference, social background and numerous other traits.
  2. The current zeitgeist (spirit) of the target market. In other words, what is relevant in the news, what is new, what is popular, what are the trends. What is resonating with people?
  3. What is presently taboo? What is off-limits? How close can you skirt the edge?

The term “Content is King” is not a new one. In fact is has been the general governing principle behind marketing and advertising for decades. Content will ALWAYS determine your success.

RELEVANCE.

Relevance is directly linked to content. Content relies on being relevant. Non-relevant content will fail. For content (and by extension, the advertisement) to be successful it MUST. BE. RELEVANT. As described above, it must resonate with the consumer. It must connect with them. It must reach out and grab them.

One may find relevance with the target market by:

  1. Tapping into a trend (the image above is an example, tapping into the enormity of Breaking Bad’s success).
  2. By taking sides in a debate (Starbucks made it very clear what side they were on in the ongoing same-sex marriage debates in the U.S.A).
  3. By showing their passion for an interest they share with their consumers.
This small business used their love of Pokemon to engage specific consumers.

This small business used their love of Pokemon to engage specific consumers with the same interest.

Relevant content is key, however one must never try so hard to be relevant that they overstep. The history of marketing and advertising is riddled with embarrassing and “brand-breaking” stories of campaigns that over-stepped. They attempted to connect into a relevant news topic or social opinion and offended the masses or demonstrated ignorance on a topic *Cough-Kenneth-Cole-cough*.

There will be times when relevance is a double-edged sword and one must consider whether there is enough benefit to off set potential consequences. Consider the ongoing feud over same-sex marriage in the U.S. On one side you had Chick-Fil-A taking a hardened stance against it. On the other side you had Starbucks taking a stance FOR it. Both had reasons for their choice and by all accounts they seemed to be highly personal reasons.

From a purely business stance, taking a side one way or the other on a topic as explosive as this was bound to have massive impact on their consumer base. To take a stance on this purely to gain business would be a questionable move. It is a RELEVANT topic, but that does not mean it was profitable to explore. Regardless of their reasons, both won certain target markets and lost certain target markets. The fallout was double-edged.

Note: We are not saying that a business taking a stand for issues like this is always a business decision. Nor are we arguing that business cannot or should not take a moral stance. This example is meant only to argue that two large businesses taking opposite stances on an issue demonstrates the fickle and ambiguous nature of “relevance”.

Relevant Content is the key to your consumers hearts. Win their interest and you may win their sale.

Hows this for a call to action? FREE BACON!

Hows this for a call to action? FREE BACON!

CALL TO ACTION

If we were to fault the “Hey Meatball” sign above for one thing, it could perhaps be the lack of a “Call to action” (not saying we would, just that we COULD). This is the one thing the sign does not directly broadcast.

A Call to action is basically the motivation that a business gives to the consumer to follow through with the sale. A good example of a Call to action may be providing a limited time offer, or a bonus of some sorts for making a purchase immediately.

A Call to action is an excellent way to compounding on good relevant content. Think of it this way, you just grabbed your consumers attention, they have read your advertisement and their interest is piqued. Now, do they walk away with that, or is there a reason for them to immediately act upon what they have seen? If they walk away, there is still chance of a sale, however if there is a Call to action than that sale may happen sooner (and is more likely a sure thing).

A good Call to action for “Hey Meatball” may have been to offer one-time “Breaking Bad Shades” to anyone ordering their special spaghetti that day (that is only a kind of a joke). They could have offered a discount on a meal for anyone citing a Heisenberg quote, or for anyone with a shaved head and goatee (again, only kind of a joke).

Call your customers to action. Provide them with a reason to make a move immediately.

“JUST” A FUNNY SIGN

You see, it is more than just a funny sign. It is an illustration and a lesson. One to remind us to always raise the bar for content (even if it is via the simplest medium).

This funny little sign did not necessarily play into a larger scale marketing plan.  However it generated engagement. It generated Interest. It created a conversation piece for consumers who, as we see, found it interesting enough to share online. It did what it was supposed to do as an ad.

It spread the word and created a conversation centred around the brand. That is the power of “relevant” “content”.

Okanagan-Marketing

Transition Marketing Services is a small business marketing firm in the Okanagan. Our passion Small Business Marketing. Educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how we’re doing or if you have any questions.

Avoid Sneaky Marketing Tactics

Bad-Marketing-Advertising

Always read the fine print. If an ad seems to good to be true, it probably is.

Does anyone else find it odd, that the fine print more or less contradicts the large print above it?

What is worse is that this ad targets consumers with eye sight issues.

That seems a little dirty Vision Express. If someone NEEDS an eye exam, are they even going to be able to read that fine print? We would love to presume that in the example above that this is part of the joke, but frankly it seems more like a bad ad execution.

“Always read the fine print. If an ad seems to good to be true, it probably is. This type of marketing is one to be avoided. It will tarnish your brand image.”

This is on par with the big box stores that proclaim an item to be just “$0.99” but then have a little font size 6 statement at the bottom that says “when purchasing six or more”.

It is legal and it is common for big businesses to use these type of tactics to sucker customers in. Legal it may be, however that doesn’t make it right,

We would mark this little piece of marketing as a fail. It comes off as underhanded and sneaky (and in fact the original poster of the image above, posted it to make this very point). It may sucker a few consumers, however it is morally questionable and savvy consumers will quickly learn not to trust you or your brand.

Those are our thoughts, what do you think?

Five MORE Social Media Tips To IGNORE

Social-Media-Marketing

“There is no such thing as a social media ‘guru’, nor a ‘maven’ nor a ‘ninja’ nor any of the other silly terms people are using. There are those who understand social media as a tool for marketing, those who *think* they understand and those who do not.” – Transition Marketing

In our previous post on March 14, 2013 (HERE) we took a slightly different tact on the traditional social media propaganda by REFUTING several of the dominant social media “tips” presently in circulation. In today’s post we will continue with a thorough examination of FIVE MORE TERRIBLE SOCIAL MEDIA TIPS.

Employee-Social-Media-Gagging1) Avoid Allowing Your Employees on Social Media.

This is a ridiculous and asinine request. For one, attempting to police this is a tremendous waste of time. Even if you block Social Media on their work computers, they have smart phones. The resources, time and ill-will that this breeds isn’t worth it. Try to block or regulate their cell phone usage at work, they will still visit those sites on their breaks and at home. Forbid any use of your brand or business name by your employees and they will simply create fake profiles.

All you do by creating an iron-fisted regime is breed sore feelings, hurt office morale and damage work relationships. You send a clear message that you don’t trust them, create a hostile office environment and what is worse, you turn your back on an incredible asset.

Your employees are your company. They ARE your brand. This is not just a cliché corporate catch-phrase. It is a solid truth about the world we now live in. Social Media has changed the face of branding. Every consumer, every employee, every individual now has the option and the power to share their experiences with thousands and even millions. Businesses cannot muzzle the voice of the general public and there has been a significant shift in the way that businesses now market themselves (More on that HERE)

Your employees (just like your customers) have a voice and a reach that can further spread your brand and marketing message, for good or for ill. One way or the other your employees will talk about your business. To fight the lost battle of “policing” their voices, instead so rather than trying to encourage them is folly. Instead give them guidelines for good use and encourage them to share positive stories and experiences.

Allow them to be “Brand Advocates” and put their voices to use.

2) Ignore Negative Feedback On Social Media.

Oops, someone has gone and said something bad about your brand. There is no going back now, it exists and it is plastered on the internet. Whether it reaches dozens or thousands there is no going back once it has been posted.

Many brands are encouraged to ignore negative comments, to not risk entering a hostile conversation to avoid it. However by not responding to angry comments online you are allowing it to simply sit and fester and worst-case scenario it could quickly take on a life of its own.

Mistakes happen so when you make them, admit to them. People are far more gracious when one owns up, apologizes and tried to make things better. Attempting to ignore, avoid or argue them will tarnish your brand. Admit mistakes when necessary and then detail how you will address them.

Our go-to method when negativity strikes, is to address the comment immediately and take that conversation offline.

For example, if someone tweets negatively about you, ask them to DM, email or call you with the specifics. Then work with them to resolve the issue outside of the public’s eye. Once a resolution has been reached, take it back to the mainstream and tweet the resolution back to them as an affirmation.

The public doesn’t need to know every detail, just that is was addressed and made right.

3) Address EVERY Negative Comment.Dont-Avoid-Comments

This may seem like we are suddenly contradicting ourselves, however there are certain negative comments that exist for no other reason then to get a rise out of you. Known as “trolling“, the concept of provoking reaction through negative or even shocking content has unfortunately become quite a popular online. This is more specific to big business and well established brands, however it pertains to all of us.

Beware of those who are simply trying to further their own agenda’s and gain visibility by pushing you for responses to their comments. On social media, as in life, there is a time to talk and a time to walk away. Learn to discern the trolls from those consumers with real concerns.

4) Delete Negative Comments or Disable Comments Entirely.

Social Media is about conversations, about sharing and discussing. Disabling comments runs contrary to this entire premise.

People are going to share experiences with or without your Facebook page. They have their own page, their own profile and their own audience. By ALLOWING them to post their thoughts and feedback on YOUR page you can monitor and address the feedback. If you’re smart you may even learn a few things to change your business for the better.

Responding to customers, involving them and discussing with them is in fact what social media is all about. Simply posting content over and over, without ever establishing customer relationships is a dated practice meant for television, billboards and radio. Online “Marketing 2.0” is all about creating consumer advocates through online discussions via social media.

As for deleting comments, do so and you will have created a consumer enemy for life. Nothing will infuriate a consumer-with-a-voice more, than attempting (poorly) to silence them. They will simply find other avenues and lambaste you even worse!

Delete-Posts

5) When Making A Mistake, Deleting The Post Will Fix It.

This is absolutely horse-feathers and rubbish. Let us reiterate, once a comment has been made and posted, it will not cease to exist. Whether you posted it or a consumer did it is there.

“Love and life may pass, but Facebook posts are forever”.

There is no way to completely erase a post and no way to stop viewers from screen-shotting it and sharing it with the world. Think about what you say before you say it. And admit to any mistakes you make (apologize when necessary).

Transition Marketing Services is a small business marketing firm in the Okanagan. Our passion Small Business Marketing. Educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how we’re doing or if you have any questions.

Brand Expansion, Diversified Marketing & Business Growth

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Angry Birds Are Everywhere!

It seems like everywhere you look “Angry Birds” is popping up as another product. Two years ago we saw plushies and various children’s toys enter the market, then shortly afterwards gummy candies begin popping up on super market shelves. Now we are finding their own brand of cola cropping up.

This begs the question, is this smart marketing?

One can argue that if they are selling and turning profit, then yes indeed it is. Yet one has to be careful, diversifying and attempting to place your brand into new market regions can be a risky proposition with long-lasting repercussions.

Take these “Angry Birds” for instance. Is the same demographic that the games, plush toys, candies and t-shirts appeal to, the same that would look at drinking this cola?

Probably yes and this could be a safe and smart choice.  However that is not always the case.

If one intends on entering a new market region with their brand, products or services, then they MUST do their research. History is full of examples of brands that tried – and failed – at creating new sources of profit. One needs to be aware of all of the variables that can affect their success and sometimes those variables are just about impossible to prep for.

There is always a certain level of risk when seeking new target markets to aim for. By doing the homework and paying attention, that risk can be greatly reduced. Whether you are a small business or a large corporation, seeking new markets is a key to growth. Searching out people who can benefit from your products & services, or adapting existing products & services to meet a new markets needs always merits investigation.

But remember doing it haphazardly could cost you big.

We will leave you with few examples of diversified marketing failures from the giants who should have known better:

  • Turner Broadcasting. Their attempt at Guerrilla Marketing quickly became a fiasco when their novelty glowing signs were mistaken for terrorist threats.
  • Coca-Cola. Everyone in the industry is familiar with the 1980’s “New Coke” failure.
  • Gap. Had a quick two day stint with a new logo before realizing it just wasn’t cool.
  • Netflix. Tried to hit two rival markets at once… oops!

Okanagan Small Business Marketing

Transition Marketing Services is a small business marketing firm in the Okanagan. Our passion Small Business Marketing. Educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how we’re doing or if you have any questions.

Customer Experience: The “NEW” Branding

Branding 2.0

Branding has changed over the past twenty years.

A Brand used to exert far more control over their image than they do now. Their image was dictated by their marketing team and it was presented via one-way communication channels such as Print, Radio and Television. There was no means for the consumer to talk back and no sharing “en-mass” of experiences. The worst a Brand had to fear was negative word-of-mouth referrals amongst their consumer’s family and friends. This of course was minimal and easy to drown out.

This type of “one-way” marketing communications made it easy for brands to position themselves with nothing more than a large budget and a savvy marketing team.

That has all changed. With the advent of the internet, the world became a great deal smaller. This is a truth that has been compounded even further by “Social Media”.

“Social Media has made every customer a “mystery shopper”. It has enabled every last consumer to weigh in on a Brand’s performance.”

Social Media has enabled anyone and everyone to share their thoughts on anything at anytime. Is this a good thing? Perhaps not in all cases, yet it is the truth we live with. Everyone’s hearts are now on their sleeves and now just about anyone across the world can view it.

This is a cold hard fact for Brands.

The Brand Image is no longer dictated solely by slick marketing, it is dictated by customer’s sharing their experiences with the world. Take for example this recent post to social media giant, Reddit:

This UPS employee deserves a raise for the good he has done for their brand.

This UPS employee deserves a raise for the good he has done for their brand.

A customer, or quite possibly no more than the NEIGHBOUR of a customer, witnessed a diligent UPS employee and shared it on Reddit. The post was instantly shared with millions of consumers all around the world.

Congratulations to UPS!  Thanks to this employee and the consumer who noticed it, they got excellent brand recognition and advertising without spending a dime.

Now as a point of comparison, have a look at this short video posted to YouTube. The video shows a FedEx employee casually tossing a package (containing a computer) over a fence. This is a video that went viral only months ago:

Ask yourself, which of these two elite carriers are consumers more likely going to use? Based solely off of these two consumer-shared posts I know who my choice would be.

Of course this isn’t to lambaste FedEx or endorse UPS, but to demonstrate the principles behind the new era of Branding. Simply put Brands must now exercise a new level of responsibility and engagement with customers. Any Brand seeking success in the 21st century must now focus less on shiny advertising and image and more on “Customer Experiences”.

A customer with a mouthful asked for a "Mapkin". This is what the clever employee provided. As a result it got great, positive exposure to 60 million users on a social networking site. Good employees are worth investing in.

A customer with a mouthful asked for a “Mapkin”. This is what the clever employee provided. As a result it got great, positive exposure to 60 million users on a social networking site. Good employees are worth investing in.

Customer Experiences.

Customer Experience (Definition): Is literally any part of the entire experience a consumer (or consumers) has during the process of making a purchase. This includes preemptive researching, sourcing, pricing, purchasing, taking possession of, installing and using, as well as any and all customer service related activities following. This may include warranty, returns, questions or comments.

Twenty or more years ago a customers experience with a brand was shared with only their immediate social circles. Feedback, bad or good, was restricted. These days customer experiences can (and are) immediately shared with hundreds, thousands or even millions of other consumers. For this reason Brands have begun to put more effort into their daily transactions with customers.

There are billions of customer transactions and experiences occurring daily around the world. They take the form of phone calls, emails, discussions with sales associates, deliveries, installations, warranty requests etc. Every instance of participation between you and a consumer, every interaction that your business has with a customer, is a “Customer Experience” and EVERY SINGLE ONE of these interactions could make or break your brand.

We as businesses have no control over which consumers will share what with others. That one negative experience we provide to a consumer could quickly be seen by anyone and everyone. Likewise that incredible effort on the part of your staff, could reach thousands on your behalf. This “unknown” is why EVERY interaction is crucial.

Social Media has made every customer a “mystery shopper“. It has enabled every last consumer to weigh in on a Brand’s performance.

The key point being made here is that EVERY business big or small, needs to invest in improving their day-to-day interactions with consumers.

Improving Brand to Customer Interactions.

As outlined above, there are countless interactions between customers and Brands every day. Whether making an actual purchase or simply looking for product information, it is imperative that every customer experience be as smooth, efficient and positive as possible.

“Always keep this one direction in mind: “How can I make this better for the customer?”

The sheer number of interactions and instances of “Customer Experiences” can be overwhelming. In this excellent post by Dr. Brian Monger. He outlines a far more thorough list of the various interactions that may take place between you and your consumers. To read through it, one can feel quickly discouraged! But take hope. This list provides the impetus for you to BUILD YOUR BRAND!

Instead of getting discouraged, go through the list and pick two or three interactions that you KNOW you have with customers and look at ways to improve them. For example, does your business frequently have to deliver to customers? How can that be improved? Can you offer it for free? Can it be sped up? Is your delivery guy providing them with a smile and a handshake?

The improvements don’t need to always be complicated and it is often the little things that matter most to customers.

Always keep this one direction in mind: “How can I make this better for the customer?”

Getting Social.

Improving customer experiences is a crucial step for the new era of Brand Image because customers are continually sharing their experiences via social media. Since this is the case, it only makes sense for Brands to also be involved on social media channels.

In past posts we have outlined some of the many social media sites available, what they do and how they work. The two primary reasons for a Brand to “get social” are as follows:

1. Engaging Customers: The purpose of social media is quite literally in its name: “SOCIAL media”. Many Brands have yet to truly see that success on Twitter, Facebook or any of the many sites out there, boils down to the ability to connect with customers. Using “one-way advertising” tactics and simply shouting your message without listening or replying to the customer base is a faux pas and it is one of the things killing Brands on social media.

Instead, make your time on social media, all about talking WITH your target market. Share insider info on tips, deals and sales, reply to their comments and start conversations. This builds your brands integrity and gives them reason to participate with you online.

2. Being Available To Listen: If a customer has an issue with your business and decides to share it via social media. How will you know?

There are a couple of different ways. The first is just BEING on social media. There is a good chance that if a customer has an issue with a recent experience and is going to share it online, they will seek out the Brand responsible (Tweet at them, visit their Facebook page etc). It gives them a chance to address it with you, which ideally results in dealing with the situation and improving their opinion of you.

“If a customer has an issue with your business and decides to share it via social media. How will you know?”

On the flip side, positive experiences may also be shared and should be highlighted and shared with your social media followers.

A Brand can also watch for  “mentions”. Platforms like Twitter allow for an extremely easy search of various words and terms. Simply plug-in your brand name, or specific terms that are associated with your business and hit “search” to see what people are saying. There are programs available to allow you to do this with just about any site and they can be customized to fit your business.

Closing.

We chose not to get into the details regarding many of the topics at hand above. The sole purpose behind this post was to educate small businesses on the growing importance of customer experiences. What they are, how they work and why they matter. We value feedback, did something in this post standout? Do you have an opinion, question or criticism? Share it with us and let’s get social!

Okanagan Small Business Marketing

Transition Marketing Services is a small business marketing firm in the Okanagan. Our passion Small Business Marketing. Educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how we’re doing or if you have any questions.