Almost every company has its critics, and now they have access to social media and comment sections.
Source: The Loudest Consumers Don’t Always Represent the Majority
My clients and colleagues who are small business owners frequently whine to me about Yelp. They feel bullied by Yelp and bullied by reviews. Some even refuse to claim their listing to avoid the feedback…despite Yelp’s power of driving customers to their business.
Heed these words:
Before you oil the squeaky wheel, here are some things to keep in mind about the vocal minority — those online customers, trolls and/or community members who have big mouths, but don’t actually represent the sentiments of the group.
Just because certain customers are “loud” and they are consistent in posting or sending you feedback, it doesn’t mean that they represent the feelings of your wider base of customers or fans.
In fact, many of the folks who complain actually don’t have a lot of purchasing power and some of them aren’t your customers at all.
Many customers complain in online forums and on social platforms more often than they give praise.
In communities, the masses tend to ignore responding to the critics to save themselves from headaches.
If you get negative feedback, respond to it. Be responsive? Yes. Be pushed? No. Don’t let someone else’s vision of your business drive your business.
One of the most frequent questions I get asked is “What kind of marketing do you do?” My response? The kind of marketing that makes sense for my client. It’s just marketing. Just marketing for your local small business’ success.
It’s so easy to be dazzled by buzzwords: social marketing, SEO, pay per click, email marketing, direct mail. Business owners fill their heads with information about Facebook and Google and newspaper specialty inserts and sports program ads and mobile search and on and on. I mean sometimes..it’s just EXHAUSTING.
Let’s clear it up. Those are communication channels for marketing, an array of ways to reach your prospects and clients. You’re ending up with your head on fire mostly because all the “advice” you’re getting isn’t taking into account the fundamentals. The medium and methods may have changed but these questions haven’t:
- Who is your client?
- What are their problems?
- And, how can you help them?
- How do you let them know you can help them?
- Where can you find them?
Answer those questions and you’re ready to market. While you’re lamenting over the perfect marketing method, you’re missing out on you’re real mission:
Find clients. Make money.
Frequently, I tell my clients to just start marketing. I will meet you where you are. That means it’s time to take your local business’ marketing and just start executing.
Mike Brooks advises at Business2Community website how foolish it is for small business owners to throw out the basic tenets of marketing in favor of “buzzword” marketing like social media marketing, Facebook marketing, content marketing.
“Money loves speed”
“I love this statement. Coined by a long time friend of mine, I use it often. What this means is that procrastination due to a desire for perfection is the enemy of action. And action is what breeds results. Most people are so hung up on wanting to make whatever they are doing – a website, a blog post, a marketing piece – perfect that they never launch anything. Or it takes 10 times as long.”
I’ve had a lot of success working with clients who had no logo, a bad website but a motivation to succeed. Succeed they did. You can, too!
When I was in college, I took ONE, count it ONE, philosophy class at the University of San Francisco because it was a graduation requirement. Catholic Jesuit education prides itself on producing well-rounded students. I certainly enjoyed the breadth of my education… just not philosophy.
It’s really, really hard to grasp something I found so nebulous and confounding. Go look up metaphysical, ontological, epistemology and coherentism. You’ll be ready to pull your hair out like I was. Somehow religious faith is easier for me to grasp than philosophy though I admire its philosophy hitmakers like Aristotle, Plato, Hobbes, and Aquinas.
Which brings me to branding. I find it in the same category. I often get asked by local Bay Area business owners if I do branding. My pat answer is no. I can help you create a logo, a website, find the right thing to say and help capture and promote the uniqueness of your business. But, I don’t do branding.
Why? Because branding isn’t a formula or a puzzle. Branding isn’t a THING, it’s a way of being. Basically, it’s your business’ personality and essence. It often results in feelings from your customers, the best one being loyalty. See! I’m starting to wander off into philosophy.
One key element of branding is customer service. That’s out of my hands. That’s up to you, Mr. and Miss Business Owner. Then, there’s your values, your philosophy, your mission, your approach. So, the relationship of local business owner and marketer is to get your brand identity created and then, promoted to get you customers. Marketers can only help your local small business marketing so much. The rest is up to you.
Staeven Frey of QCMG Agency in Nashville, TN does such a good job describing Branding 101, I’m sharing it here and bowing down to his great description.
The entire article, Brand Messaging 101: How Do I Do That? is available at this link. From Staeven Frey:
First, before I can share with you what brand messaging, I want to share what its not.
Brand Messaging is not a formula
Brand messaging is not some formula you can put together to execute seamless communication tactics…blah blah blah…those fancy words don’t mean anything. And while this is a “1-2-3″ kind of post, we’re talking about principles and big ideas–what I would call variables, but not prescription items that go into a formula. A better term altogether is “equation,” since everyone’s equation is different–and one size does not fit all.
Brand messaging is the voice you use
Its the combination of tone, message, verbals, non-verbals. Its the complete verbal + visual equation of how you express yourself. Most people use their voice in person, but when you’re an organization, you use other things too. Brand messaging is the full range of “stuff” that you use. Its business cards to print to your building–everything that shares yourself with the world.
I write this to dissuade you from believing that if you just get the right logo or the perfect business card, your branding woes will be over. Do do those things and, then, just be really great at your job. Help get the word around and create the brand that you are proud to own.
Genius Local Marketing
This is Danielle Lei. Ms. Lei may be a future genius marketer. Danielle, with her parents’ blessing, and her dad in tow, set up her table outside The Green Cross Medical Marijuana dispensary in San Francisco and sold 177 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies in TWO hours on Presidents’ Day. Her mother contact the dispensary prior to setting up and many of the Green Cross’ employees made purchases.
From my perspective, Danielle nailed the 4P’s of an excellent marketing mix.
Product – Ms. Lei recognized that she had an excellent product with a stellar reputation, prized by many.
Price – While the prices rose in the Bay Area this year from $3.50 to $5.00, most consumers are willing to pay a premium for Girl Scout cookies, knowing that the proceeds help so many and they make delicious flavors.
Placement – Putting your product directly in front of your potential customers makes it extremely easy to buy your product.
Promotion – Certainly, the strategic location combined with attractive packaging and an engaging young lady made it very easy for her to sell her cookies.
A basic understanding of your customers, their behaviors, likes and dislikes led to many successful sales. Congratulations, Danielle!
A Loving Review of Selling The Invisible by Harry Beckwith
A Field Guide to Modern Marketing
An empty box. That’s what most of us sell. A service is like an empty box. Financial planning, insurance, marketing consulting, legal advice, medical services are examples of pure service where there’s nothing to touch, taste or smell. The buyer is relying on you delivering a service that’s mostly out of your imagination. So an empty box contains air and that’s what many of us sell.
With that in mind, I can’t possibly tell you how invaluable the book Selling The Invisible by Harry Beckwith is to me and how it’s an essential for your local small business marketing education.
Can I ashamedly say that I saw this book for years, ignored it and, then, purchased it two years ago? Going through my bookshelf the other day, I decided to revisit it and share some of the brilliance of Mr. Beckwith with you.
Published in 1997, this is an incredibly quick read with short, short chapters and approachable examples outline the unique challenges of selling a service (the invisible) as opposed to a product that you can touch or see. Many of the companies and examples he cites are no longer the way they were 15 years ago. I find it funny when I comparing what he says then to how it is now. Yet, it doesn’t diminish it’s impactful ideas uniquely associated with selling services.
3 Invaluable Insights From Selling The Invisible
1) Service Marketing Is About Great Service and Not Much Else
Great service is defined differently from profession to profession. Investors want profits returned on their investments. Massage therapy clients want to feel better than when they arrived. Insurance clients want to feel proud that they paid for something they may never use or never benefit from. And, great service carries you a long way, if you can’t get it right the first time. Nordstrom’s legendary service is vastly different than 20 years ago. But, it’s an impression that sticks and sticks, making them every profitable, even in hard times.
From the Getting Started chapter section entitled The Greatest Misconception About Service Marketing
In a free-association test, most people – including most people in business- will equate the word “marketing” with selling and advertising: pushing the goods.
In this popular view, marketing means taking what you have and shoving it down buyers’ throats. ” We need better marketing” invariably means “we need to get our name out”-with ads, publicity, and maybe some direct mail.
Unfortunately, this focus on getting the word outside distracts companies from the inside , and from the first rule of service marketing: The core of service marketing is the service itself.
2) Eliminate Your Clients Fear of Hiring You
Since you’re selling air, your client is worried you’ll have his money and he’ll have nothing but air. You have to change the perception. You have develop trust. Most of all, you don’t have to the very best choice, just the one that comforts your client.
From the Anchors, Warts and American Express chapter section entitled How Prospects Decide: Choosing “Good Enough”
Looking for Good Enough happens repeatedly in business, too. So whenever you make your pitch, ask yourself, “What risks might a prospect see in hiring us?” Then, without reminding the prospects of those risks-which will only remind your prospects of their fears-eliminate the prospect’s fears, one by one.
In my case, I needed to eliminate two fears. Because I was an expert, they feared I would be prohibitively expensive and compromising. And because I had worked for larger clients on larger projects, they feared I would not consider their project important.
But I never addressed those fears (in my proposal). I got so carried away telling them I was a superior choice that I forgot to assure them I would be a good choice.
Forget looking like the superior choice. Make yourself an excellent choice. Then eliminate anything that might make you a bad choice.
3) Make The Invisible Visible
When a prospect can’t see your product, you have to make it come alive. Use vivid stories and compelling pictures on your website and your marketing materials to woo your customers.
Mr. Beckwith relates how Richard Melman, co-founder of Lettuce Entertain You Restaurants that includes Maggiano’s Little Italy chain, Scoozi’s, Ed Debevics and about 70 other restaurants, understands he’s in the entertainment not the food business. Most of understand how critics evaluate food. But, we are more likely to eat in restaurants that are an experience and NOT the height of culinary achievement.
When we go out, it’s more than just the food that we experience. Starting with word of mouth or a review, we want to go to a restaurant. Then, it’s the outside parking lot and building exterior that start to lure us. Once inside, the atmosphere, the hostess, the server and the menu combine to give us an experience.
For me, I like BJ’s Brewery because it’s energetic, the food’s satisfactory, everyone can get what they want, they have great home-brewed root beer and it’s easy with kids. My mom kinda hates it. But, when we want a casual family dinner, I think it’s perfect.
Most of the impression we have of our experience is visual. Restaurants are a tad more visual than insurance or investments. But, what makes you want to come again is how you felt. And, that’s NOT visible. Your visible clues are your website, your appearance, your marketing materials, your actions, your words. They all add up to the “experience” clients have with you.
From the Communicating and Selling chapter section entitled Our Eyes Have It: The Lessons of Chicago’s Restaurants
Like good restaurateurs, service marketers must create the visual surroundings – from the parking lot to the last page of the proposal-that will enhance the client’s perception of quality. Offer quality without creating that perception quality and you have failed the client, and yourself.
Everything visual associated with your service sends a powerful clue about your service. The influence of these visual clues is not superficial; they go the very heart of your “product” and your relationship with the client.
Watch- and perfect -the visual clues you send.
I can’t possibly relate every delicious tidbit from this book. Go buy it. See for yourself.