Archive for the ‘Branding’ Category

When Bad Journalism Impacts Your Public Relations/Marketing Efforts…

I have heard time and time again that any PR is good for you…even if it is negative.  And, while I don’t necessarily agree with this assertion, I do believe that you need to get your name out there, through PR in particular, as much as you can.

But, what happens when the wonderful interview you did with a “journalist” not only gets miss quoted but your cool new product/service gets associated with your competitor’s name?    It happened just the other day to my husband’s company by a journalist for USA Today.  Here’s the link, can you tell from this piece that Haws Corporation owns the name Hydration Station?    Click Here.    After the gnashing of teeth and tearing of clothes is over, what can you really do?  Well, in this day of social media…plenty.

 

1)      E-mail the Publication—the first step should be to email the publication about the mistake and ask for a retraction in the next printed issue or in the next electronic publication.  This will get your name out again and could be even better than the impact you would have achieved through the first article. 

  • What if they say no?  Well, there is nothing you can do with the printed version, but you can use the comment section for the article as a way to correct the author.  I would recommend that if you are going to take this action that you have a friend or business associate do the comment for you so that it does not appear self-serving.

2)      Share the article through Social Media—in this way you get your name associated with your product and with the great newsworthy article.  It makes you and your product “visible.”  Encourage your fans/friends and others to pass it on.

3)      Place a link to your article on your website—having fresh content relating to your brand/product/service on your website increases your “Google” juice and makes you more visible on the internet.

4)      E-mail the Author—you would have thought that I would have put that first wouldn’t you?  But in many instances the author is a freelancer and has very little control over (or desire to) fix their mistakes.

5)      Acceptance—you need to accept that many publications are using freelancers and that you are not going to be entirely control of your message.  Be prepared (and prepare your boss!).

Mistakes in PR are going to be more and more problematic as the switch from full-time journalists to freelance “experts” and writers becomes more mainstream.  You need to be prepared to deal with the mistakes  quickly and decisively. 

Happy Marketing!

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I’m an expert, how about you?

When you have a small business, minutes matter.  You have to stay focused, which is very hard to do in this chaotic business world in which many of us operate.  In the past, many companies operated and sold either locally or, at most, regionally.  Now, we are global.  So how can you differentiate your brand, in addition to your products and services?  Become the Expert!

I was reading Ivana Taylor’s article regarding influence (You 14 Step Roadmap to becoming an Influencer ) on openforum.com and it got me thinking…what can small businesses do to make themselves brand experts? 

Here are some ideas that I gleaned from Ivana with my additions (of course).

  • Put in the time—You truly do need to be an expert to claim that status (don’t be a poser!)…Ivana recommends 10,000 hours…that means that you have to be working full time in an industry for at least five years to claim expert status…totally doable!  Remember though, focus is key… I am not just a market research and marketing expert…I am an expert in B2B insurance market research and B2B insurance marketing (as well as other things…wink). 
  • Strategically Embrace Social media—there are a lot of things you can do through social media that will boost your expert status, but you can’t afford to waste time.  Here are my quick hit favorites:
    • LinkedIn—join 50 groups…it’s fast and easy; and, actively post articles and ask questions in the groups from which you think you will get the most “expert status” bump. 
    • Blog—Don’t do what I do…keep your blogs short and sweet…and do what I do…keep them on topic.  When you blog, use key words you want to own/be associated with your name/brand…like marketing, commercial insurance, Net Promoter Score.  If you have more time…I suggest you also place comments on other people’s blogs—it helps with Google juice!  Another idea would be to guest blog, but few of us have enough time to write our own blogs let alone blog for other people.  I would try to get them to repost one of the blogs you have already written.
    • Create a YouTube video—if you have a video camera and an internet connection, you are pretty much set.  Make the video really short (1 to 3 minutes, tops) and very informative and instructional.  Oh, and make it fun.    Post these videos on your website…more Google juice!
    • Publish…Your Data—if you collect and analyze data and can publish it…do so!   Nothing better than providing the world with useful information.  And, after you have published your data…write a press release about it.  It doesn’t cost that much to get your press releases run through the newswires. 
    • In-person Networking—yes, you need to get out there and meet people face to face, not just online.  To do this, I recommend joining associations and attending their conferences (to the extent it makes sense).  Service clubs like Rotary are great as well, but don’t just focus on local things and events.  
    • Speak/Join Panels/Webinars—most of us would rather jump off a bridge than speak publically; but, there are few better ways to build up your expert status than having documented proof that people are willing to pay for your advice.

There are a heck of a lot more ways to get your brand elevated to expert status, but these were my favorites.  And, as you have probably noticed, most of them are absolutely free (except for your time). 

What are you doing to elevate your brand status to expert?

Happy Marketing!

Social media = brand engagement

In my last blog, I’ve talked about the fact that we are now in the age of the consumer.  Today I want to further this discussion by talking about some stats put out recently by emarketer. Specifically, I want to talk about some research conducted by ROI Research and how the majority of consumers are using social media to provide feedback (and connect) with brands.

In this research, ROI Research found that people using social media to discuss products and services on social sites were:

• Price shopping (59%)

Talking about offers (56%) <–as a marketer…this really excites me! 

• Providing feedback (53%)

• Giving advice (50%)

• Telling others where to purchase items online (49%)

Expressing disappointment about a product or service (47%) <–I have done this many times!

• Tell folks where to purchase items offline (47%)

• Talking to customer service (36%)—WOW!

Another great bit of information about how consumers engage with brands comes from a study from a MarketTools survey. In this survey, they found that although US travelers may be embracing social networks to express feedback more frequently than in the past, social media as a feedback or customer service channel is still in its infancy.

This study is near and dear to my heart considering I blasted Southwest Airlines for bad customer service through all forms of social media for them to completely ignore me. Oh well, they do offer cheap flights as long as you aren’t traveling across the country.

What are you doing to engage your customers through social media? 

Happy Marketing!

You Stink But I Love You Anyway…the Loyalty Ladder

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One thing that never ceases to amaze me are customers who continue to patronize a company even though the company is not providing the service and/or value that should warrant the loyalty. While we can’t discount the masochists out there… I think there is a very simple, but very important answer, and it has to do with the various rungs on the Loyalty Ladder.

Back in the 80’s and 90’s, we were all about measuring customer satisfaction. Then one day, someone got the bright idea that we should be measuring loyalty (usually in the form of willingness to recommend). At the turn of the century (wow am I that old?), we started using the Net Promoter Score (NPS)…which is a kissing cousin of loyalty, but goes a bit further. What should we be measuring? I think it depends…there is a lot of merit to NPS, but I like other types of measurements as well.

How do I categorize customers so that I really understand how likely they are to continue to buy from me? I put people on the rungs of what I call the Loyalty Ladder (shown in bulleted form).

• Raving Fans—these are folks that are giving me the highest scores possible on my survey. They are also going to recommend me every chance they get and will be willing to pay more for me (because I am just that good). I try to get everyone into this bucket but hey I am human…

• Always Done It That Way—these are folks that buy from you out of habit. To them , you are like the comfy blanket (or binky) that they had as a child. This type of loyalty is good, but not entirely loyal.

• I Have No Place to Go—these are the folks that feel trapped, but don’t spend a lot of time looking for alternatives. For example, cable companies had a lot of loyal customers before consumers were aware and understood the service provided by DirectTv and Dish Network. So what happened? Once these two companies (and others like them) became mainstream…these once loyal customers were not so loyal.

• Asleep at the Switch—these are the people that are using you and don’t even know that you are providing the service. They have no loyalty to you but they started your service some time back and forgot to turn it off.

• I Have a Coupon—consumers switching to you for discounts and other couponing are not necessarily going to stay with you. If they switched to you for a discount, they can easily go in the other direction (a competitor) the next time they need your product/service. For these folks, you need to add value beyond the coupon.

So why is this so important? When defending and/or attempting to increase your customer base, you need to know where your customers and prospects are on this loyalty ladder (for lon-term success that is).

Where are your customers on the loyalty ladder?

Happy marketing!

The death of a brand?

For those of you that follow my blog, you know that I don’t use my blog as a rant platform. Well today, I am sorry to say, I have to diverge from my normal blogging style. But, don’t worry…it will still have to do with branding and marketing. I promise.

Southwest Airlines has been the Gold Standard (Platinum even) when it comes to customer focus and service. Not just among airlines, but among most American companies. Over the years, they have built a brand based on one singular notion…the customer comes first. I have to say, based on my experience with them today, I believe they may be veering away from that focus—which in my humble opinion will make them like all the rest of the big carriers. What will come of their brand? Not sure, but it can’t be good.

One of the best things about flying Southwest, besides the friendly staff and great fairs, was their flexibility when you had to make a change. Have to cancel a non-refundable ticket? No problem, we will still let you use the money for another flight. Have frequent flyer miles you want to use to buy a ticket for someone else? No problem. Have travel funds from a canceled ticket you want to use to fly your mom out to see her grandkids. Bring her!

Guess what…not anymore. Brand promise conflict? I think so.

Here’s what happened you decide…

  • I had to cancel a business trip because my son was going to have surgery
  • Southwest was nice enough to allow us to cancel the ticket and have a co-worker use the funds from the old ticket to buy the same ticket under her name so she could cover my meeting
  • I found out last night that the surgery has been rescheduled for July
  • My co-worker canceled her ticket so that I could reinstate my flights because I have to go on this trip
  • Southwest told me to go pound sand, the ticket will cost $1000 (from Reno to Chicago and back)
  • I told them that it was my ticket to begin with and that the whole process had started before they changed their policy on transfers today (yes… my luck… today)…again, go pound sand

So is what Southwest did wrong?  No, it’s now their policy.  Did their brand take a hit from me on social media from me today?  Absolutely!  And, more importantly, will experiences like this take their brand to a place it really doesn’t want to go?  Maybe.  Do they just want to be a commodity carrier and not a caring carrier?  Only time will tell.

Happy Marketing!

Photo credit

Sharon Markovsky: An Online Personal Branding Journey

I have been on an online personal branding journey since 2009 and I have to say it has been a challenge.  Not just from a time committment perspective, but a content perspective as well.   For those of you who are just starting out on your journey, I thought I would offer a few words of advice and encouragement:

Here’s the advice part:

  • Stay focused–decide who you are today and who you will be in the future and stick with it.  I am a marketer and that’s what I portray in everything I do online.
  • Read–content is king when it comes to social media overall and your brand itself.  I find the best way to provide remarkable content is to read other people’s blogs and books.  It really helps with the writer’s block!
  • Add valuable content–let’s face it, we are all really, really busy.  You need to make sure you are providing content that is going to help/enlighten your readers/viewers. You have to give them a reason to seek you out on a consistent basis.  My most viewed blog was 5 Easy Steps to Failing at Personal Branding.  While the title is a little tongue in cheek, it really does provide a lot of great content. 
  • Be consistent–don’t go dark, and don’t quit.  No one likes a quitter, especially your groupies. 
  • Measure your progress–if you have online branding goals and measure to those goals you will stay focused and most importantly not quit.  My goal metrics are:
    • Productivity:   Number of blogs—1 to2 per week,  tweet daily—at least 5 tweets per day, and move to a 2-to-1 ratio on Twitter (followers to following).
    • Engagement: writing comments on other people’s blog posts once a week and retweeting important/remarkable people’s blogs once a week (both of these without coming across as a stalker). 
    • Reach: increase the number of Twitter followers with 5,000+ followers.
    • Klout: increase my Klout score–my current score is 45, I would like to move it up 50 points.
    • Expert status:  Have my name associated with the term direct marketing/marketing/ market research in Reno, NV

Ok, enough of the advice, here is the encouragement part.  All of us that are building our online brand know that it takes a long time and it is a very thankless job.  Here’s how I look at it.  There are very few things in life that I have “complete” control over–online branding is one of them (save for cyber bullies of course…but even that can be dealt with).  Why not put your time and money resources into something that can have a direct benefit to your life…be it from the personal or professional side (or even both!)?

When are you going to clean up your online brand and how are you going to keep yourself motivated to remain vigilant?

Happy marketing!

Ok, so you have your online personal brand taken care of…now what?

In my prior blog, Why you can’t wait another day to create a personal brand online, I talked about the importance of building and consistently implementing your online brand.

Assuming that you have given your online brand a spring cleaning…now what?

For me, the next step is setting goals for my online brand. At the end of the day, what do I want my online brand to do for me and others?

Here’s a glimpse at my overall goals for social media: 

  1. Mentoring: Help at least one person each week through my social media efforts 
  2. Engagement: Have an in depth conversation with at least one new person through social media each week 
  3. Networking: Increase the number of quality people following/friending/linking to me by 300 each month 
  4. Publishing: write and publish at least two quality blogs per week 
  5. Recognition: increase the association of my name with Marketing and Market Research key words—become the recognized expert.

As with your company brand, you need to set goals for your personal online brand. In my next blog I will talk about the all important next step…. Metrics.

Have you set goals for your online brand yet?  What are you waiting for?

Happy Marketing!

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