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Category Archives: Marketing

4 Marketing Tricks to Achieve Top of Mind Awareness

How to Achieve Top of Mind Awareness graphicYour customers are making buying decisions every day based on one factor: who comes to mind. Whether they’re choosing a restaurant for date night, planning a wedding, birthday shopping or looking for entertainment when the rambunctious cousins come for a visit, the decision making process is the same. Suggestions are batted around based on businesses that come to mind. So how you get your brand to pole vault into your customer’s subconscious?

Who Comes to Mind? Defining Top of Mind Awareness

What does it take to rank in the top of the class? When it comes to top of mind awareness brands will qualify under one of three conditions:

1. A Perennial Favorite. Everyone has a favorite restaurant, clothing store, hair salon, etc. The only way to increase your chances of getting in under this condition is to consistently provide great products and customer service to all your customers. You will make the cut for some of them and become a perennial favorite.

2. A Lingering Bad Taste. You’ve heard the phrase, “I don’t know what I want, but I know what I don’t want.” Well this is it. This is top of mind, but not in a good way. These are not your potential customers as you are only coming to mind for negative reasons. This is Santa’s naughty list and you don’t want to be on it.

3. The Right Exposure. This is the condition where you can drive the train. This is your chance for top of mind awareness, and it is within your control. The more frequently your customer is exposed to your brand, the more likely they are to do business with you. As you increase your exposure you build brand awareness.

Let me say that again. By increasing your brand exposure, you build brand awareness. That’s the ultimate goal. So what are some ways to do that?

Marketing and advertising are the most traditional ways to build brand awareness. It makes sense, right? Let me give you a little test. Shout out the first brand that comes to mind when I say pizza? How about insurance? OK, here’s a tough one. What do you think of when I say shoes? It’s a pretty safe bet that you answered with a nationally known brand name. Why? Because you encounter their advertising daily, thus dramatically increasing your exposure, and hijacking their brands to the top of your mind.

You’re probably wondering, “How can I achieve top of mind awareness if my brand isn’t as large as Dominos, and my pockets aren’t as deep as Nike?” While there is an advantage to filling broadcast media, magazines and billboards with your logo it can pull the cork on your piggy bank. But that’s not the solution I’m going to suggest.

You don’t have to take out a second mortgage to build top of mind awareness. One reason social media is gaining in popularity for advertisers is because it builds brand awareness without the expense of traditional media. But it does come with a price tag. Your time. By investing your time into building up your Facebook fan page, and talking with followers on Twitter, you can use social media to improve brand awareness. The more often you engage your fans the more familiar you become.

How to Achieve Top of Mind Awareness Using Social Media

My secret weapon for earning top of mind awareness is niche marketing. When you cast a large net you can waste a lot of time and resources in search of a big catch. But if you focus on a smaller fishing hole, and use your best lures, you’re more likely to reel in a keeper. Follow these four steps to improve your brand awareness.

1. Target a niche group of customers. Design a marketing campaign for a small group, maybe it’s your local Twitter followers, or the neighborhood that surrounds your business. A smaller, more targeted approach feels more personal, and will be easier to engage with your customers.

2. Build up brand awareness with regular communication. If you’re using social media post frequently and at different times of day to capture audience attention. Sending an email campaign? Establish a frequency and format your customers can depend on. Same goes with direct mail.

3. Seek and share feedback. Customers love to feel appreciated. Ask for their opinion on new products. Collect and share testimonials from happy clients. A new customer is encouraged to learn there are happy customers out there.

4. Reward frequency. Every business wants, dare I say needs, regular customers. So why are new clients the ones who receive the discounted rates? It’s much more difficult to bring in a new customer than it is to keep an old one. Offer a free product or discounted service to your best customers and ensure they continue coming back. The more often they visit your business, the higher you rank on top of mind awareness.

Have you discovered any marketing techniques that help rocket your business to the top? Share them in the comments!

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Posted by on January 24, 2013 in Marketing, Social Media

 

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How to Get Positive Results from a Negative Review

Negative Review, Positive Review, What do you do with a negative review?

Let’s face it, no one likes to be criticized, especially in public. If you’re a small business owner you feel a biting sting when a negative review pops up on social media or online search sites like TripAdvisor or Yelp. After all, that’s your pride and joy – your baby – they’re berating. But strive as you might to be perfect in every way you are bound to fall from that lofty perch a time or two. It’s how you handle that criticism that really counts. So what do you do with a negative review?

Respond Don’t React

If you receive a scathing review it is important that you Respond to the review rather than React to it. Give yourself time to process the content instead of acting on your visceral gut reaction. Demeaning, undermining or ridiculing your customer is never a good solution. Negative reviews can grow legs. And that kind of reaction will run all over your reputation.

Respond by considering the content of the review. Start by dissecting the review with these questions.

  • What specific issues were raised?
  • How did they make the customer feel?
  • What did you or your company do in response at the time?

Remember, the negative review is the result of an experience at your business or with your product. Ideally, you want every experience to be the best. When you receive a bad grade you’re failing to accomplish one thing: making that one customer happy. If you can resolve this issue, improve the way the customer feels about it, or address it so it doesn’t happen again, you are truly Responding to the review.

Online search sites like Yelp allow businesses to respond directly to their reviewers. They suggest you keep the following things in mind:

  • Your reviewers are your customers;
  • Your reviewers are human beings with feelings and sensitivities;
  • You reviewers are vocal and opinionated, otherwise they wouldn’t be writing reviews.

Experts recommend you contact the reviewer privately first to discuss their issues and see if things can be remedied. In some cases this can lead to unearthing the root of a problem that might actually need addressing. An unfriendly employee, inaccurate signage, a faulty product or bad customer service may be the real source of the complaint. In this case your reviewer could be an insightful third party.

Seek Their Suggestions

Sometimes it takes an outside perspective to bring problems to light. Knowing your product inside and out you may forget that it’s new to someone else. They may see holes in your logic that you never noticed. And unfortunately they want to be the first to point them out to the masses. If these critics are so bold as to call you on your mistakes, perhaps they have a solution to offer as well. It never hurts to ask. For those who just want to complain, they may be forced to realize you have thought this through. And perhaps they were indeed…wrong.

If it feels a little like, “Thank you sir may I please have another,” you’re right. But taking your lumps, and swallowing your pride, is all a part of business. So put you big girl panties on, bite your tongue and listen first.

There are also times when the reviewer is just plain wrong. When an online review gives readers a false impression of your product or services there are times when a response in the form of a public rebuttal is necessary. For instance, claims regarding the safety and security of your customers should be addressed publicly. And remember, you are addressing past, present and future customers. Use this opportunity to clarify the issue at hand, accept any responsibility you or your business had in the misunderstanding, and show what you have done to rectify the situation.

Here’s an example:

While hunting through listings on TripAdvisor for resorts in the Caribbean I stumbled upon a very alarming review claiming this particular resort had bedbugs. There was little description on the part of the reviewer, just a screaming headline that would make any tourist leery to book a room at that resort. That’s a deal breaker for most travelers. What I found encouraging was the response from the management of the hotel. Here’s what they did right:

  • They responded immediately and addressed what they felt was an untrue statement about their establishment;
  • Despite the negative tone of the review the response was serious but not critical of the reviewer;
  • They discussed their process for responding to such claims which included a significant amount of work on the part of their cleaning staff to search the room in question, as well as the rest of the resort. Acknowledging how seriously they take these accusations and illustrating how they are handled made me feel better as a potential customer.

After reading their response, as well as searching through other reviews looking for any similar claims, I felt that the review was probably written by a disgruntled crab apple and not likely true. However, if management hadn’t responded, or if they had attempted to delete the review, I would have been hesitant to book a stay at that resort.

Accentuate the Positive

One voice spewing bile can be drown out by a cheering crowd. We all know the negative Nellies out there have no trouble expressing themselves. And they certainly don’t lack motivation. Which means they are the first to run to a review site and start airing their grievances. That’s why you have to send your own band of supporters to tip the scales back in your favor. Most of you with small businesses hear on a daily basis from your customers about how much they love your product, were happy with your service and will tell their friends how great you are. Now it’s time to say, “Prove it.”

  • Ask your customers to review your product or service online
  • Share the positive emails, notes and comments you receive from guests as posts on your social media pages
  • Find a way to collect testimonials that can be included on your website, in email newsletters so customers and potential customers see what kind of reaction the public has to your business

If you’re having trouble collecting testimonials consider offering an incentive for anyone who provides a review. Here’s a suggestion. Host a weekly drawing from all reviewers who post a comment on social media or review sites and offer them a coupon or free service. To be fair encourage all feedback, positive or negative, and draw often to encourage repeat entries.

Reviews are a learning opportunity for you and your customers. How you respond to negative reviews says a lot about your personality and how you want to run your business. Did you react in anger and frustration? Or did you respond with class, patience and an open mind? If the source of the problem is addressed you may have found the secret to turning a negative review into a positive experience. And perhaps you’ll earn those 5 stars after all.

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2012 in Marketing, Social Media

 

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How to Use Social Media for Social Good

Social Media for Social GoodWhat is Social Media?

Social Media is the new media. What once was obtained from books, newspapers and magazines over the course of weeks or months, can now be read and shared online in a matter of seconds. Perhaps we should call it Fast Media. But I like the term Social, as it comes with additional connotations I think are appropriate and useful.

When you think of Social Media what’s the first image that pops into your head?

  • A viral video of a stunt gone bad or cats playing the piano;
  • Friend requests or comments on your status update;
  • Streaming random posts filled with hashtags and @mentions;
  • Photos of beautiful cakes, DIY projects, vacation spots, and the latest pajama jean trend.

No? Perhaps you’re in the crowd that has little to no idea what any of the above list just mentioned. The crowd that thinks Social Media is how college kids waste their time when they should be studying or looking for a real job.

Let’s hope you’re not in that crowd. But if you are, I’m going to show you what Social Media means to me, and maybe I’ll change your mind.

Social Media is fast becoming the way our society connects with one another. That’s not to say it’s the only way. I still prefer to meet with my clients in person, and believe that face-to-face can’t be replaced by Facetime or Facebook. But social media is the face of new media. So let’s use it to our advantage.

My definition of Social is built on the power of connections. Each one of the social media channels I use — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, Foursquare — is built on the premise of growing your connections. Those social networks have power. The power to spread a message globally in seconds. Seconds!

Next I define Media as messages. Some messages are visual, auditory or a combination of both. They could be informative, entertaining or a call to action. All advertising is about conveying messages. Thus the terms Media and Advertising seem like an old married couple.

So here’s my definition of Social Media: The power to communicate messages across a global network of connections in seconds. I want that power. Don’t you want that power?

Who wouldn’t want that power?

And the best part is… it’s free. You have the power. You just need to learn to use it. What you choose to do with that power… well that’s the next question.

How do you use the power of social media for social good?

Every status update, every tweet, every video or blog post is an opportunity to share your message. With a little strategic planning you can craft a collection of messages that support a goal. Take advantage of your social networks to spread those messages and you’ve got a campaign. If you use this philosophy to raise awareness, fund-raise, or promote a cause — now you’re using it for social good.

Here are a few examples of how to use social media for social good

  • Cash Mob – Select a local small business to support on a designated day. Everyone agrees to make a minimum purchase, say $10. Spread the word using your social networks.
    Benefit: An injection of cash into a small business can make a huge difference. They pay-it-forward by choosing the next Cash Mob location.
  • Donate for Likes – Businesses trying to grow their fan pages on Facebook or their Twitter account can offer to make a $1 donation to a cause or organization for every new like on their social media account.
    Benefit:  Your fan base grows, your goodwill is noticed, and a worthy charity gets a much needed donation.
  • Promote a Cause – This may seem small but the power of social media to raise awareness about a cause is enormous. Every person you friend or follow magnifies your reach exponentially. Promote what you’re passionate about, what you believe in and your friends, family and followers will share it.
    Benefit:  Knowledge is power. That’s not a Schoolhouse Rock reference. It’s the truth.
  • Create a Fundraiser – I did it with the Traverse Traveler Scavenger Hunt for Autism. We created a Facebook page for the event, promoted it through Facebook and Twitter, we built awareness about Autism and the use of iPads for students with Autism at Traverse City Area Public Schools. And we raised a lot of money in the first year. You can do it too.

Find your passion and use your social network to become a teacher, activist, volunteer and goodwill ambassador in your town. And let me know when you do, so I can share it!

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2012 in Marketing, Promotions, Social Media

 

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How to Build Your Small Business Brand on Twitter

Do you have a small business? Have you thought about expanding your social media brand on Twitter, but you could use a few tips to get started? As a small business owner I’ve come to appreciate the power of Twitter as a form of marketing. But more importantly, I’ve discovered the secret to building brand success lies in how you use Twitter.

I’ve been sharing my Twitter tips with small business clients because I think it’s an immensely powerful tool if used correctly. Since I believe marketing can be a D.I.Y. skill, I’m going to share some of these tips with you too.

10 Tips to Build Your Small Business Brand on Twitter

1. Logo is the Way to Go

Like all forms of marketing, social media is an opportunity for you to build your brand image. Your logo is the face of that brand. If your twitter account is representing your business, use your logo as the profile pic (aka avatar). Remember, your twitter avatar is tiny. Don’t make the mistake of choosing a detailed picture of your product, seaside location or your dog in a bowtie. Save that for a creative ad campaign where we can make out the details.

2. Consistency is Key

It’s confusing to your followers when you change your business avatar like a runway model in a fashion show. Remember your avatar appears in a constant stream of icons on your follower’s feed. It should stand out and be recognizable to them. A loyal follower may be scanning their feed to see what clever remarks or customer special you’re offering. If they’re searching in vain for the avatar you used last week you’ve just lost a point of contact, and possibly a follower.

3. Don’t Fear the Unknown

Twitter is a great place to follow and be followed by strangers. Unlike on a personal Facebook account, on Twitter anyone can follow you. That’s the nature of the medium, so go with it. When you receive a follower, follow them back if they are legit. And don’t be afraid to chat with a total stranger. They might become a huge ambassador for your brand.

4. Follow Your Yellow Brick Road

Everyone has a different approach when it comes to following on Twitter. My personal strategy is to find and follow businesses and people in four categories: my region, my interests, my customers, and my followers. Start by following other local businesses. It is a great way to connect with your community. Then search Twitter for topics of interest to you and those that affect your business. Next, look for your customers on Twitter so you can build that relationship. And finally follow back those who follow you. They are obviously interested in what you have to say, so why not reciprocate? If you discover their tweets are not what you’d hoped you can always unfollow.

5. Hashtags Help

If you’re on Twitter, you must speak in the native tongue. And that means hashtags. Whether you choose to use them or just follow them is up to you. For the true beginner, a hashtag is any phrase that is preceded with a #. The phrase must appear with no spaces and the # sign first.

Find out what hashtags your industry is using, and add them into your tweets. There are local hashtags like #TCMI for Traverse City, Michigan, industry hashtags like #Marketing and #Design, and niche groups that gather to share ideas, frustrations and links. Places like #youmightbeanautismparentif is where parents of autistic children unite. Searching through hashtags is a great way to find new followers and engage with those who share your passion.

6. No Pushing

If you’re considering using Twitter for your small business I’m going to go out on a limb and guess you already have a business Facebook page. And you may have discovered you can push your Facebook posts automatically to Twitter. That sounds like a great idea. Two birds with one stone, right? Not in my opinion.

These shortened posts, which often end in broken sentences followed by a link to Facebook are not the same as posting your content on Twitter. It’s an illusion, and your tweeps (Twitter peeps) are quick to realize you’re not really there. Would you use an automated system to call your customers with news about their account, new products or events? No, because you aren’t there to answer their questions. The same standard applies here. If you’re not really there, people will know. And more importantly they’ll turn their attention somewhere else.

So what can you do to post content to both Facebook and Twitter in an expedient way? Check-out HootSuite and TweetDeck. These are online tools (and apps) that allow you to post to multiple social media channels. Using their dashboard you can cater your messages to each platform and audience.

7. Please and Thank You

Twitter is all about recognition. People and brands love to see their @name in the Mentions column. The trick is to acknowledge, engage and thank your followers as often as possible. And your brand will grow. But don’t be disingenuous. The point is to get involved with your audience by responding to their questions, commenting on their content and thanking your followers when they have mentioned you. A great way to start this tradition is with #FollowFriday or #FF.

On Fridays you’ll notice a slew of posts that are filled with @mentions and a hashtag or two. That’s a Follow Friday post. It’s Twitter’s version of a shout-out. Some people choose to fill their post with random names from their follower list. Some repeatedly offer #FF to the same group of tweeps. I think the most successful #FF posts are when you choose one brand or person to mention and offer up a reason why someone should follow them. It’s sincere, it’s focused, and it’s helpful to those of us who don’t know them.

8. Tweet and Re-Tweet

If you made it #8 on my list you’re serious about building your small business on Twitter. So this point is critical. Tweet good content and re-tweet that of others.

Twitter is, by far, my best resource for industry related news, events and articles online. Find and follow people and brands who are sharing great content that would matter to your followers. Then re-tweet it. If you’re sharing a link that you found through someone you follow, give them the credit of a RT (re-tweet). You can do this automatically, or add your own twist on the tweet and add “via @mention” to the end. RTs will earn more followers and encourage your followers to share your content.

9. Critical Response

Many small businesses shy away from social media platforms because they fear criticism. They imagine customer complaints posted out there for everyone to read, and spread like lice in a kindergarten. But the truth is, as scary as it is, social media is the perfect place to deal with criticism head on. You might be surprised with the results.

When I first started Twitter I had just launched my new iPhone app, Traverse Traveler. I was excited to see followers in my area. Those whom I followed were beginning to find me and comment on the app. And then one day I opened my feed to find a follower complaining about why I didn’t have specific listings on the app. I feared the worst and figured they were unhappy with our product and would continue to share their unhappiness with the world through Twitter. So I put on my big girl pants, took a deep breath and responded to the tweet. I explained that the businesses in question hadn’t yet listed on the app, but I would see what I could do to get them involved. I received an immediate response thanking me for answering the question. And a few weeks later, when said businesses did list, I was able to contact that follower with the news. What appeared to be a customer unhappy with our product has become a follower who gladly promotes us to family and friends.

How you respond to criticism and complaints will speak loudly to the online community. If you ignore them, they tend to perpetuate and spread. Or you’ll confirm their fears…that you just don’t care. Responding to complaints on Twitter directly, and offering assistance shows your brand is involved. You do care. And you are willing to work with your customers.

10. Lurk, Listen and Join In

Twitter is one of those weird places where voyeurism is encouraged. It’s like one giant coffee shop where people are chatting about hundreds of topics and you can sit and listen. But the best part is, without warning or misstep you can join in. It’s encouraged in most cases. Ever wish you could be two places at once? I’ve followed the hashtag for two different conferences occurring at the same time three time-zones apart and felt like I was there. I’ve cheered on the Detroit Red Wings, commiserated with Apple fans when Steve Jobs died, and made many new friends on Twitter that I’ve yet to meet in person.

Just remember one thing: You Must Be Present to Win

This is the big one. Twitter moves too quickly to watch from the sidelines. It’s not a spectator sport. If you want to build a brand on Twitter you’ve got to get in the game. You need to BE there. Following the steps above will help you establish a brand, but to build it and make it successful you have to get involved.

Do you have a small business on Twitter? Share some of your tips for Twitter success in the comments below. And by all means, follow me on Twitter at @TraverseTravelr !

 

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What the Q R You Talking About?

QR codes are becoming a key feature in marketing campaigns from big cities to small towns. If you’re not familiar with these puzzling codes, I’m here to bring you up to speed.

QR code

What is a QR code?

QR stands for Quick Response. A QR code is basically a modern bar code system. The codes contain a link to information, generally stored on the web, which can be accessed by a QR scanning device. In fact, you probably have a QR scanning device in your pocket right now. What?

Smart phones can be used to scan QR codes. There’s an app for everything these days – including QR readers.

A QR code contains data your customers are in interested in. And that data can be accessed by anyone with a smart phone. Interested?

What’s the purpose of QR codes?

It’s simple really. QR codes are designed to connect the visual world to the digital world.  The most common QR codes contain links to web urls. These can be public links, or private pages that aren’t published on the web. You can link to:

  • Website pages
  • Facebook page
  • YouTube video
  • FTP site
  • On-line newsletter
  • Coupons
  • Product information
  • Event schedule
  • Contact info
  • Contests & promotions

Who uses QR codes?

Fortune 500 companies, and mom & pop stores on suburban main streets, that’s who. The Japanese have been using QR codes since 1994 when they were created by Denso Wave, a subsidiary of Toyota. A few years ago you probably noticed similar data matrix codes printed on UPS labels to track their shipments. But you probably paid no attention. It’s only recently that the codes have been recognized as a marketing tool. Now you might see them on a billboard in Times Square, or in the window of your local organic market.

Here are a few practical examples of QR codes in action.

  • A winery uses QR codes on their wine bottles. When scanned they provide tasting tips and winemaker’s notes about that specific vintage.
  • A musician creates a QR code for each track on his CD, then prints them on the inside cover. Links take the listener to YouTube where they can watch the video.
  • House hunters pull up to a hot property and discover the Realtor has placed a QR code on the For Sale sign. After a quick scan the buyers have an overview of square footage, bedroom to bathroom ratio, even the school district.
  • A restaurant adds a code to their print advertising, directing readers to an online version of their menu. While their menu changes daily, the code still works because the URL is the same.
  • The storefront windows for a downtown business showcase QR codes for every item in the window. Links take you to their online store where browsers can purchase anytime. Gives new meaning to the term “window shopping.”
  • An app developer includes a QR code on print ads promoting the app. A direct link to iTunes means readers can download the app without searching for it. Want to give it a try? Scan the code at the top of the article and see for yourself.

So now you know a little about what QR codes do, and how they can be put to use in a variety of industries. But where do you get them?

This is the best news of all. You can make a QR code online, from several websites, for FREE. Just search ‘free QR code generator’ and thousands of websites are at your disposal. Or scroll down to the end of the article for some resources I found.

There’s one big question we’ve yet to answer. Why should you incorporate QR codes into your marketing strategy? Ask yourself the following two questions.

1. Do you want an easy way to connect customers with your products or services?

2. Would you like to track your print marketing to know what works?

As you may have guessed, a Yes answer to any of the above is what I’m going for here. QR codes provide a unique opportunity to connect print media to the digital world. Sure you can list your website on your brochure, but you probably don’t have room to list your entire product line. While the code does take up some room on your advertising, it may be well worth the space. Especially if you sign up for a website that tracks the codes.

Yes, there are companies that offer code generation, database management and tracking services for a fee. Depending on how you intend to use them, this could be a very valuable service. Using an online dashboard you can create, manage and track all your codes for a monthly service fee. For example, if you created an ad campaign, and used a different code for each ad, in every publication, that could mean dozens of codes that can be tracked to determine when your customers scanned the code, from which publication, what model phone they were using, and more.

A few tips to get started

So, you’re ready to give this QR thing a try? It’s pretty simple. But you know I love tips, so here are a few I uncovered during my research.

  • Use a URL shortener to simplify the code. A long URL creates more detail, which makes the code harder to scan.
  • If possible, send people to a mobile landing page. If what you’re linking to isn’t user friendly you’ve missed an opportunity to connect.
  • Give them something valuable. You’re asking readers to take that extra step, pick up their phone and scan the code. Make it worthwhile. Coupons, contests, promotional offers are a nice reward for following the white rabbit through the tiny door.
  • Size matters. Here’s why:
    The size of the code depends on the quality of the camera and its proximity to the code. If you’re posting a code on a billboard or the side of a building, it’s going to have to be pretty large since the scanner isn’t very close to the subject. On the flipside, don’t make it too small or the scanners might not work. To be safe, no smaller than 2.5 cm or 1 inch is universally recommended.

Resources

Free QR code generator: I’ve used QR Stuff, and found it easy to design, preview and create my code.

Code readers: AT&T app Code Reader, QR Reader for iPhone, Beetagg

Code tracking & management: Some of the marketing suggestions I listed are real examples of the work Hootster is doing for their clients. Their online management systems make it easy and affordable to develop a marketing plan using QR codes.

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2011 in Marketing

 

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The Art of the Testimonial

How to Use Customer Concerns to Build Your Business: The Art of the Testimonial

A few weeks ago I read a great article by Sean D’Sousa which distilled the process of collecting testimonials into 6 simple steps. That’s when I discovered the critical mistake everyone makes when asking for testimonials. We expect our customers to know what to say!

Have you ever asked a happy customer for a testimonial and then thought, “now how do I turn this one-line sugary endorsement into something people will believe?” The question is how do we ask our customers to provide a useful recommendation without so much coaching that we’re practically holding the pen?

As a designer, clients come to me for creative solutions to their problems. Sometimes I design the solution, such as a new logo or ad campaign, and sometimes I give creative direction or instructions which empowers them to find their own solutions. Either way there is guidance. So why did I expect my customers to give me glowing testimonials with no more guidance than a blank sheet of paper and polite request?

A testimonial is a work of art. Who makes art? Craftsmen. And every happy customer has the ability to craft an expert testimonial for you with a few simple instructions.

In his article, Six Questions to Ask for Powerful Testimonials, D’Sousa creates a basic road map any business can use to guide their clients toward creating useful, honest testimonials. These 6 questions are the perfect solution. And if you ask me, the first question is the most important of all. It’s the key that turns your customer’s concerns into your greatest strength.
6 Questions for Better Testimonials
  1. What was the obstacle that would have prevented you from buying this product?
  2. What did you find as a result of buying this product?
  3. What specific feature did you like most about this product?
  4. What would be three other benefits about this product?
  5. Would you recommend this product? If so, why?
  6. Is there anything you’d like to add?

Why start with a Negative comment to elicit a Positive response?

Because every potential customer has concerns about trying a new product or service. Whether it’s price, location, durability, or any number of nit-picky factors that were considered – at one time they stood on the tipping point weighing the options. So why do you want them to voice their concerns here, in the middle of your stellar testimonial? Because pointing out their biggest reservation connects this customer to your potential customer. And more importantly, they’re about to put those reservations aside and expose the golden truth. Your product is great!

The rest of the questions take turns drawing out the best features of your product through the eyes of your client. This basic structure allows them to craft a personal, honest testimonial that really works.

Testimonials can be a powerful tool in attracting new customers – when executed correctly. Try this new approach and see what a difference it makes. And then let me know in the comments.

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2010 in Marketing

 

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Why Brainstorming is like Speed Dating

Everyone knows design by committee is creative suicide. So how do you turn a marketing committee into a productive force? Harness the power of brainstorming and put your collective minds to good use. Remember these strategies for a successful brainstorming session and you’ll be generating ideas like a ping-pong ball in a room full of mousetraps.

Structure is the key to any successful meeting. Here are a few simple strategies to make your next creative session an idea frenzy.

1. You want quantity, not quality.

A brainstorming session is designed to draw ideas out into the open where they can mingle with others. Think of it like speed dating. The more the merrier. And the greater your chances of finding a keeper amongst the duds. That’s why it’s a perfect activity for groups and committees. Like the old cliche, “two heads are better than one,” times ten.

2. All ideas are treated equally.

Anyone can participate in a brainstorming session, from CEOs to file clerks. And since the point of this type of meeting is idea generation, all ideas should be considered. The minute someone feels their ideas are worth less than another they stop contributing. Keep the flow moving forward in a positive direction and watch the energy build.

3. Utilize the power of the group

Another value of group brainstorming is ability to build on each others ideas. One thought sparks another, sometimes with a logical tie-in and sometimes a complete non-sequiter. Feeding off each other is something that can’t be done in a committee of one.

4. Keep it moving

Encourage the discussion of each idea until it’s full potential is exposed, and then move on. It’s easy to delve into one idea and stall the session with details that could be defined later. Explore, expand and exit stage right.

With these tips in mind you’ll be able to turn that tired committee meeting into productive inspiration. For more helpful tips on successful brainstorming check out this article by Dean Rieck on Copyblogger: How to Brainstorm Brilliant Ideas for your Blog.

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2010 in Design, Marketing

 

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