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.
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.
Image courtesy of Fanexperiences.com
Super Bowl 2014 ended on a high for Seattle and a low for Denver. Peyton Manning is a class act and Seahawks long-suffering fans ended their championship drought.
Some advertisers also ended the day in agony. Others danced for joy. They all ran big budget commercials throughout the game that could make or break them. Smart business owners know it’s risky anytime you’re marketing your business. Controversy is not favored when you’re answering to shareholders. But, controversy makes you go viral and that’s every marketer’s dream or nightmare.
If you run a small business, what does Super Bowl 48 have to do with anything? After all, all those commercials were created with well-paid creative minds and resources. Let me see if I can translate.
Here’s how I see it. The unifying theme around most of the Superbowl commercial advertisers is that they weren’t afraid to be different. They had a viewpoint and a voice. They knew their audience and worked to reach them. They were funny, sentimental, irreverent, odd and some were just plain weird. Weird may not be for everyone but, being funny, sentimental or a bit irreverent will make you stand out and be memorable.
Clear winners among the 88 aired commercials were Bud Light’s Hidden Camera, T-Mobile’s Tebow No-Contract, and Budweiser Puppy Love (with the Clydesdale mafia).
Puppy Love was a pure sentiment. It got lots of attention pre-game. Chevrolet’s promotion of World Cancer Day was wonderfully touching. In your local marketing, it’s okay to reveal your personal side, talk about your family as long as you keep it short, it’s not too revealing and has a point to it. Revealing sentiment humanizes you. Makes you relatable.
Chevy’s ad for World Cancer Day was very touching. I nearly cried.
World Cancer Day Chevy
Bud Light’s creative team seemed like they’ve relocated to the Southwestern desert and experimented with peyote. The whole Up For Whatever part 1 and 2 were fun. I laugh everytime I watch Arnold Schwarzenegger in that crazy wig. Of, course the former governor’s extra-marital exploits make him unpopular with some and his running of California touches off a whole nother legion of haters. Didn’t stop the Budweiser crew from making a lighthearted, hilarious commercial. Don’t be afraid to make fun of yourself from time to time.
Up For Whatever – Part 1
Up For Whatever – Part 2
Tim Tebow – hated and loved by many. An excellent ballplayer with no NFL contract. Let’s make fun of it.
Time Tebow No Contract
Don’t be these guys. Audi’s mashed-up Doberman/Chihuahua dog was really weird, perpetuating Doberman’s undeserved reputation for being unnecessarily aggressive. The creators stretched their concept to match their message. Tag line: “Some combinations do work really.” Very forced and, at times, the mashed up dog is just disturbing.
Doberhuahua Audi Commercial
I could go on and on evaluating all these commercials. Just don’t have the time right now. Don’t be afraid to be different and let people know. In local small business, the entire business relies on you. Let the REAL you shine through!
Let me know what commercials you liked and hated.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Isn’t that what your mom and dad told you?
I could probably retire if I had a $1 for every time I heard that growing up. It came with an eyeroll from the kids and a smug look from my dad, the main culprit of quotes.
You know what? He was right. Shhh. Don’t tell him.
What does this have to do with marketing? EVERYTHING. It’s really a struggle to get local small businesses to continue with advertising, try a technique again or stay with what’s becoming boring to them. It’s even harder when something doesn’t seem to work. Getting lousy results makes it hard to trust doing the same thing again. Except the most successful businesses cared less about perfection and more about improving on mistakes.
Here’s a great infographic to remind us that “overnight” sensations are anything but. Let’s stay encouraged that even the most successful tried again and again before perfection.
Shortest way to customers? Face to face marketing. Read how:
Shockingly, the solution for finding new customers quickly these days ISN’T social media. Customers for local businesses are staring them in the face…literally. The people who’ll become your client are usually standing across from you at a networking event, are sitting next to you at a BNI meeting, are the customers of someone you know.
I know, I know. I get plenty of business owners asking me questions over social media. Social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest are invaluable tools in getting your message out. They’re white-hot in terms of publicity and attention.
But, white-hot media doesn’t make it a great choice I caution local business owners that it’s requires planning and investing time. While the Internet is an invaluable marketing tool, sometimes you need to get customers faster than waiting for someone to like your Facebook page and interact with you. Gathering followers and likes on Twitter and Facebook can be done rapidly. Turning them into paying customers is a different proposition.
The Young Entrepreneur Council highlights the value of “old-fashioned marketing” in their article 13 Traditional Marketing Strategies You Can’t Afford To Ignore, and FIVE of 13 tips cited face to face events to meet potential customers.
Here’s a couple of tips:
“When it comes to traditional marketing, I still invest in on-site marketing activities such as events and sponsorships. On-site marketing is not only a great way to make a lasting connection with your target market, but also provides the opportunity to capture great content such as photos and videos which are perfect to release via your social media channels.”
– Kevin Tighe II | Co-founder and CEO, WeBRAND
Local Events Pay Off
“Yes, events IRL (in real life) are beneficial for the customer to jumpstart a relationship with the company and to get hands on with the product. This will encourage the customer to spread word of mouth which is the most influential and valuable part of marketing because it is means more if someone else has something to say from their personal experience and familiarity with the product.”
– Lane Sutton | Social Media Coach, Social Media from a Teen
Networking in Person
“I don’t budget much for most traditional marketing, but I’m always willing to pay to attend an event or a conference. In-person networking always pays out a major return on my investment.”
– Thursday Bram | Consultant, Hyper Modern Consulting
I get it. Spending a couple of hours working on social media seems more efficient than going out and talking to people. It’s time consuming developing relationships. You can’t easily measure the results like you can when you get a new like or follower. I know.
Yet, all that body language, all those things we see and experience in the presence of others just can’t short cut the marketing process like a live person can. You’re just going to have to suck it up and get out there, cupcake.
Over the last 2 years, I’ve knuckled down and gone to lots of networking, some times when I wanted to stay home and empty my DVR contents. I’ve attended conference to better my skills and resources. All this while I spend time writing this blog, developing my Twitter and Facebook accounts and postings. Over and over, when I staked my claim in local marketing expertise and got clear about my market, it just got easier and easier to meet people. My enthusiasm jumped. It’s really, really starting to pay off in new business and referrals. All of this coming from developing relationships in person.
Here’s a short list of face to face marketing activities:
- Structured networking like BNI and Le Tip
- Informal networking at Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, community events
- Business showcase or local expo
- Seminars and conferences you attend
- Seminars and talks you give
9 Face to Face Marketing Tips
- Find the Time Vampires and stay away from them. You never know when you meet people where it will lead but, it’s okay to do a gut-check and not take a business card or make a commitment to follow up.
- If you attend an event you didn’t create, be respectful of the event producer by introducing yourself, not hogging the platform.
- Create a little goal for yourself at each event: Collect 3 great contacts, introduce 2 people to each other, find someone you can refer.
- Respect people in a trade show booth. They paid to be there. You don’t get to take advantage of their largesse by running around and advertising to them. Look for strategic relationships at showcase events. Mnimize the time you spend in their booth. Commit to follow up.
- Don’t let others influence your opinion of an event or group. What’s good for your friend, might not work for you and vice versa. Look for groups that fit you.
- Structured networking can seem daunting but having goals and objectives help keep everyone accountable.
- Raising your profile by creating your own events takes work. Consider partnering with someone or getting professional help. Don’t let your fear stop you, though.
- If you don’t want to create your own events, find out where you be on a panel or speak at someone else’s events.
- Lastly, do your face to face with an open heart. Give to get. Remember that it’s an imperfect human you’re dealing with. They may need a little gentleness from you.
Traditional marketing isn’t done. And, face to face isn’t done either. Reading body language, listening to tone, seeing what’s in front of you. Humans will never be done with in-person contact. We’re smart and smarter than a compute (except for calculating huge equations.) In a technological world, I say it’s more crucial than ever to keep pursuing interpersonal relationships to push your sales higher.