Song Stuck Friday – It will get you moving.

This week I give you a reprieve from old-school annoying, or just plain annoying.

This is my 5 year old’s favorite song, and I have to admit, it makes me happy.

So, Happy Friday to you all!

Communication: More important than ANYTHING

I would have put this post up yesterday, but I couldn’t because I spent the entire day waiting for Verizon to come and install my internet and phone line in my new office. It wouldn’t have been so bad if they hadn’t set me up for disappointment by setting the appointment time between 8 am and 12 noon.

Steam may not have been rising out of my ears at noon if they’d call to tell me that their technician was tied up on a previous call.customer service

My voice may not have sounded so strained if, before they missed the second deadline of 2 pm, they called to tell me that they were pushing it until 5 pm, and if the employee arrives at 4:59 pm I’m to wait until he’s finished.

I wouldn’t be thoroughly disgusted with them right now if ANY communication about their poor scheduling was initiated by them instead of me. Or, if I hadn’t waited on hold for over 30 minutes calling them each time.

This post isn’t simply to rag on Verizon, although God knows they deserve it. Sadly, bad communications happen all the time. The result is always an angry, possibly former customer.

And it is almost always avoidable.

Most people are kind, patient and understanding… but they aren’t when you treat them with disdain. Not communicating is always interpreted by the customer as your company not caring. Contacting them as soon as you know of an issue avoids a lot of the negative experience issues they’ll have if you don’t.

Think about it this way: for every single dollar you spend on marketing and positive PR, one bad episode of non-communication can repay that, times 10, with negative publicity. Think about it, what do you do when you’ve been mistreated by a company? For one, you probably blast them on your social media network, more than likely complain about them when you get together with your friends. If you have a blog & you’re a marketer like me, you probably craft a post based on your bad experience.

That’s a whole lot of organic negative pr going on about a company for simply blowing the communication.

Even if my high-speed internet is rip-roaring fast and never a problem, I’ll have a sour taste in my mouth for how lousy I was treated from the outset. Your customers are no different. You may deliver the greatest product in your industry, but if you blow the communications and make you customer feel like you don’t care about them, their network will hear all about it.

Song Stuck Friday – You know you secretly like it.

Here we are – it’s Friday thank goodness… and that means I give you a ‘catchy’ tune you can’t get out of your head.

I don’t usually make dedications, but this song that will be in your head all day and possibly all weekend is dedicated to the one and only Danny Brown.  Oh, he LOVES Nickelback, and like most Canadians (even though he’s a transplant), he is oh-so proud of them.

I, of course, love to rag on Nickelback too, but I like this song, and I really love this video.

This one’s for you Danny – Happy Friday!

 

Your company must make them FEEL something.

If  you’ve read my blog for any length of time you know that I have a huge Business Crush on Howard Schultz, founder of Starbucks.  Dino Dogan would tell you that ‘we all do,’ and he’s probably right.  What Howard, or more How do you create passion for your brand?correctly, what Starbucks does to illicit these emotions from customers is that they prompt them, continually.

I’ve written repeatedly that “It’s not about the coffee.”  I don’t even drink coffee; I’m a hard core tea addict.  Starbucks has decent tea and a great Chai, but even that’s not why I keep coming back.  It’s the entire customer experience that keeps me loyal.

In my past life when I supervised 18 Sales Reps. spread out across the Eastern half of the US, Starbucks-Everywhere was my office.  We could sit for hours in a pleasant environment , use the free wireless, and never ever feel rushed.  Not only did I spend thousands of dollars a year at the chain, I became a brand loyalist and incredibly grateful for their hospitality.

And they keep on doing things that make me feel passionately about the brand.  Last year it was the Indivisible campaign; I wear my bracelet and drink from my Indivisible mug every morning.

Recently, Starbucks began offering reusable $1 mugs to cut down on waste.  Of course I bought one, because I care about the environment and feel like I’m part of the Starbucks mission.  Now, my reusable cup )pictured here) already has my favorite drink permanently written on it.  Most of the time I don’t even need to tell my local Baristas what I want, because they know me … another customer service moment that connects me to the brand.

Perhaps you too have a major Starbucks connection, or perhaps you’re a contrarian who swears by Dunkin Donuts.  The point is, the brands that you are passionate about have done something to trigger that passion.  What is it that makes you want to evangelize for a brand?

The next, logical question is: What do you do to create that same loyalty and zeal in your own customers?  Because you know, it doesn’t happen by accident.

8 Social Media Housekeeping Tips for 2013

I didn’t write any ‘grand master plans for 2013’ posts this year, but now that we’re into 2013 it’s time for a social media reorganizing post. To get yourself together, here’s a short list of to dos:

  1. Get a new profile picture if yours is older than 12 months, EVEN if you love it. Yes, 2 years ago I had probably the  Social Media Housekeeping by Ariel Marketing Group best picture of me ever for my profile pic, but, I get older every year just like you do. Being honest crosses over to how you look TODAY too. Upload it to ALL of your networks.
  2. Set up your Gravatar if you haven’t already.  “Your Gravatar is an image that follows you from site to site appearing beside your name when you do things like comment or post on a blog.”  Your face is part of your brand, and in the social world people want to know you personally.
  3. Set up or clean up your Brand Yourself  profile.  It can help you improve your Google ranking and ensure that the information is accurate.
  4. Review your Linked In Profile, update your job status, and ask for Recommendations that you think will be helpful explaining how well you do what you do.  Give Recommendations to those whose service you value.  Ignore Endorsements entirely, as they’re a cheap scam and a big mistake LinkedIn never should have made.
  5. Review the number of blogs coming to your inbox, and cull the ones that aren’t absolutely beneficial to you.  There is a lot of great information out there, but you can’t absorb it all.  Staying current on the good ones, and active in their communities is far more effective than trying to be everywhere..
  6. Update every brand page you have, from Facebook to Merchant Circle; even if you’re not active on the channel, make sure your information is accurate.
  7. Change out your Twitter Background if it’s no longer relevant.  Update your lists; review the folks you follow and make sure they’re compartmentalized into those lists.
  8. Do a total Social Media review: if you’re using Social to market, which platforms are working? Which have diminished in value?  Are there new or niche platforms that may work better?

I try to review the above once every 6 months, but sometimes things slip by the wayside, so at the start of each new year I focus on updating and refreshing them all.    That way I can charge into the New Year feeling relatively ‘together.’  If I’ve missed any tips I’d love to hear from you.

Song Stuck Friday – Be Happy

It’s just one of those days when the whole world seems full of sunshine and optimism.

You just can’t hate this one…. Happy Friday!

Optimism is the only choice for 2013

Here’s one thing I can tell you with absolute assurance about 2012: It’s over.  

If you had a great year, make 2013 ‘greater.’  If 2012 was a tough one, say good riddance and get moving on.   IAriel Marketing Group 2012 Year Endf you’re in business, you have no choice but to bid 2012 adieu; you must move on, no matter how great or bad your year was.

I’ve read umpteen posts about resolutions, rules and recommendations for 2013; usually at this time of year I’m doing the same thing, churning out a post or two about getting your marketing organized or planning better in the next 12 months.  

This year, so many of my marketing pals have already done a fantastic job of this; here is a list of excellent, rev-your-engine posts to help and inspire you:

  1. Sam Fiorella’s …Accept Less Mediocrity
  2. Becky Gaylord’s 17 Essentials
  3. Mark Babbit’s  … Realizations
  4. Danny Brown’s … 5 Blogs
  5. Gini Dietrich’s … 2013 Predictions

And if you’re looking for Sales lessons, just go to Anthony Iannarino’s blog and read the whole damn thing, sign up for his newsletter, and read everything he writes.

Instead of giving you an advice list of my own, I’m going to give you one piece of advice that has carried me everywhere:

Be an Optimist.

There is no other choice if you want to achieve any of your goals. Of course you must have planning, vision, and focus, but if you’re not dedicated to positivity, you won’t achieve anything.

I leave you some of my favorite lines in the English Language; impossible to read and not feel a deep sense of hope:

“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And then one fine morning—

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

 

Happy New Year everyone!

Song Stuck Friday – another oldie.

I don’t know why all of my Song Stuck songs are oldies, but they really knew how to make cloyingly unforgettable tunes back in the 70’s.

Don’t hate – just celebrate the cheesiness.

Happy Friday!

 

10 Commandments of the Self Employed

I recently read a ‘take this job and shove it’ sort of resignation letter from a Gen Y-er to his employer, and I could not Ariel Marketing Group's 10 Commandments of the Self Employedhelp but shake my head in that annoyingly “yes, I’m older and wiser” sort of way. He was off to create his own business,
and full of piss and vigor. I admire that, of course, but I also know that the lives of the self employed are far less glorious than they often appear.

If you sit there as one of the many in our ranks, you know how much you sacrifice for the ability to call the shots. Along with everything else you must make decisions about, you shoulder a tremendous, often unbelievable amount of worry over everything from payroll to paying bills. It is very easy to get lost wallowing in the worry and forget why we set out on this journey in the first place.

To help all of us combat the self pity and stress, I’ve created these:

10 Commandments of the Self Employed

1.  Never forget what it feels like to punch a time clock.
Perhaps you never punched an actual clock, but you must remember what it felt like to work the hours someone else deemed necessary. Setting your own schedule is a perk you cannot overlook.

2. Appreciate the steering wheel.
You would not have left your safe job if you didn’t think you could do better.  You can’t forget that driving your own ship means you get to focus on the projects you know are the right ones.

3. Don’t complain about the long hours. Ever.
Remember, lots of people who are working to make some corporation lots and lots of money work long hours too. You get the reward for yours.

4. Mentors are still essential.
Just because you’ve given yourself a fancy title and have the business cards to prove it doesn’t mean you don’t need advice from other smart folks.

5. Accept the roller coaster as a way of life.
Chances are that if you stepped off the cliff, you have already achieved success in business, and therefore you became used to financial security. That doesn’t exist for the self employed – at least not for years. Get used to it. Yes, you can.

6. Collaboration makes you better.
Paranoia and a self defensive stance can creep up upon any business owner who is out there scraping along trying to make it. Don’t give in to the instinct to see anyone in your field as the enemy. Often they have strengths that compliment your weaknesses and vise verse. Partnerships can allow you to do more work, and make more money.

7. The Accounting can’t wait.
Most entrepreneur types are big picture people by nature; many of us detest the books. You don’t need to BE the CPA, but you absolutely must hire a bookkeeper and keep your house in order.

8. Reports are fun.
If you aren’t taking care of #6, you won’t be able to stick to read your reports and enjoy the information to be had there.  In order to create a strategy for your business’ future, you must understand where your business is. This is one of the fun parts of owning a business; it’s the ‘working on your business’ part that everyone goes on and on about.

9. Fueling your inspiration is a good thing.
Staying focused is crucial, but too much focus can leave you numb and unable to be creative. Seek out sources of inspiration wherever you may find them – they don’t have to come from business.

10. It’s all worth it.
There will be days you have a hard time believing this, but in your heart you know it’s true. Had you stayed back at that safe job the big ‘what ifs’ would nag you into insanity. Whatever becomes of your business, you are learning at rapid fire speed, and you are getting better everyday. Perhaps it won’t be your destiny to stay at the helm of the ship you’re driving now, but wherever you end up you will be far wiser for having driven it.

Song Stuck Friday – Can you REALLY hate this one?

By now you’re either enjoying, or not even entering the land of Song Stuck Friday. If you’re here you either do it out of loyalty to me, or you’re a masochist. Either way – thanks for stopping by.

This Song Stuck episode is one that I personally adore – it was only recently I discovered other people find it annoying… or hard to shake.  If it does stick, I hope you’re having a fabulous holiday break and humming it repeatedly everywhere you go.

Happy, Happy Christmas!