7 Ways You Should Use Good, Old Fashioned Tactics in Business

Last week’s Cloud debacle got me thinking, hard, about how quickly we embrace new technology and how sometimes that might not be a good thing. If you aren’t aware, part of Amazon’s Cloud went down and took a lot of websites with it, including Hootsuite and Foursquare. It stayed down for hours meaning any sites effected could not do business.

My company stores all of our graphics and most client files on both our own server and href=”http://basecamphq.com/”>Basecamp; if anything happened and we lost those files we would basically have to start our company over. Additionally, we’d be putting our clients in a terrible position since we also host their sites and store a lot of their files. Because of my paranoia and the fact that I’ve always had trouble embracing new technology, we also use good old fashioned external hard drives. My issue with new gadgets/software etc. is not born out of laziness or fear, but because of how much the ‘implementation slump’ slows you down.

The business I’m in, New Media marketing, requires that we stay ‘up’ on all of the latest shifts in Internet marketing, so I’ve FORCED myself to explore each major new development. Yet I cling to the old stuff for too long I am sure; – I have a second generation iphone because frankly, I don’t see how upgrading will effect my work life.

While pondering the new vs. the old , and after waiting an entire day for my beloved Hootsuite to come back up, I read an article about Floor Coverings International getting customers during the recession the old fashioned way – by reaching out via phone and face to face meetings.

And it struck me; we’d better not ditch ALL of the old methods.

Apart from the external hard drive, here are the Old Fashioned touches you should consider keeping:

1. Sending a handwritten thank you card, and if you think you don’t have time for that use Send Out Cards; sending ANY card will make a big impression on people used to receiving junk & bills exclusively in their mail box.
2. Picking up the telephone and actually having a conversation in place of an email.
3. Thanking someone for a Referral; how often are we too busy rushing onto the next task to do this?
4. Asking for an introduction, LIVE, face to face, with a target customer.
5. Real, live, face to face networking instead of stalking our prey via email and Social Media.
6. Civility in email; no one is to busy to say hello, please, thank you or good bye in email communications.
7. Buying the important books in paper; I love my Kindle desperately, but when it broke I lost all of my books until Amazon kindly sent me a new one. I was glad I’d bought the most important books in hardcover so all of my margin notations were intact.

Think you’re too busy for any of these? Do yourself a favor and just try a few of them for 1 short week; I guarantee you’ll change your mind.

THIS is Great Customer Service

On our work-vacation this week we checked into one of our favorite hotels – the Longboat Key Hilton. Sure, it’s not a 5 Star joint, and it’s not an ultra cool boutique place either. But for years I traveled at least 3 nights a week and the reason I frequented the Hilton chain is because it is consistently clean & stylish and it ALWAYS has a business center. Most importantly, it is friendly.

We’ve stayed at this hotel at least 10 times, and every time we are met with a smile and accommodations are almost always made for my constant requests. One year we actually switched from a rare below grade Hilton down the coast and the manager of this hotel sent a champagne and cheese tray to our room to make up for the OTHER hotel’s failings. I would have been thrilled if I wasn’t 6 months’ pregnant at the time… but seriously, the gesture was greatly appreciated.

This year we show up with my 3 1/2 year old in tow at 2pm when check-in is 4:30. They didn’t have the room ready and didn’t until 4:30 on the dot. It was ok – I knew I was asking for a favor yet again, so we went for a walk on the beach, picked up some groceries and killed time. We checked in at 4:30 and started unpacking and getting settled. Within 10 minutes there was a knock on the door with a very nice fruit/cheese tray that my 3 year old ate right up. A card was enclosed thanking us for our return visit.

Now, this may seem like standard fair to a lot of you, but as a well seasoned traveler I can guarantee you it isn’t. There are hotels I’ve stayed in 100 times and they don’t know my name or acknowledge my return. It means something to me (and my family) that this hotel does, and how much extra effort did it really take?

No, I didn’t write this post to extol Hilton hotels, but this particular one is doing a lot right and I notice. It reinforces my desire to let every customer of mine know how much I appreciate the fact that they spend their money with me.

I have a very wise friend Laurie Cadden who runs a PR agency and her mantra is that EVERY interaction you have with ANYONE is PR. It’s about being considerate in your emails, picking up the phone every now and then and spending your time on people, and doing the little things consistently.

Just a little bit of profoundity to think about as we move into the next year.

Control Your Own PR

Many larger companies have full time employees focused on PR, and some smaller ones hire an outside consultant; bravo to them. Unfortunately many companies do little to create their own PR outside of their regular marketing and thereby allow others to decide the bulk of what their audience hears about them. It may be positive press – such as awards and accolades written about in the loca press or discussed on TV or on the web. That’s all well and good, but if you don’t have a strong internet presence by creating your own platforms and content, you are in a bad position when the press is negative.

Say the worst happens and your company is somehow, through no fault of its own, entangled in legal issues that may have to do with actions of a contractor, a product default, or a client’s affairs. Your company may have done nothing wrong, and over time the truth probably will come out, but the PR hit you will experience from even the whiff of corruption or negligence can do tremendous damage to your reputation, thus your sales funnel, and obviously your bottom line before you are vindicated. You may not be able to avoid a situation occurring, but how do you put yourself in the best position to handle negative press when it occurs?

First of all, make sure that you have a website equipped to talk about current events in your business, and make sure your organic SEO is as strong as possible. You need to ensure that someone googling “Your Company” hears you, and not the bad PR, first. Secondly, by creating a blog where you regularly dialogue with customers and prospects, you build trust and provide an arena where people can hear “your side of the story.” Sometimes your side may have to include an apology and an explanation, but dealing with our own mistakes clearly and quickly goes a long way towards repairing damage. Creating press releases, steadily, about positive events/projects your company is involved with helps to fill the Search Engine funnel with lots of positive news; you don’t want the second thing to show up in a Google search to be a negative press release.

Social Media is the strongest arena to connect regularly with your customers; it is where Gap heard the message loud and clear and changed back to their old logo within a matter of days after releasing a new one. On Facebook you can have a constant conversation with clients & prospects well before anything negative occurs, and those familiar with your company will immediately seek out more information on this page when your company is in the news. Your facebook url can also command high organic SEO on its own, thereby helping to push the negative “news” down the rankings.

Of course none of us are ever really prepared for that first tremendous blow to our company’s image, but it is our duty as business owners/managers to be as prepared as possible. Creating your own PR plan and platforms means that you will be prepared if the worst happens, and getting ‘past’ the negative event will be a lot easier if you’re creating your own news consistently instead of allowing others to do it.

How to get more business from seminars, and how NOT to

Getting out in front of people and speaking with passion about something useful to them is a tremendous way to build relationships, gain a following, and get new business. Obviously it is essential that you are an engaging speaker and know your stuff; it is of key importance that you don’t try to sell yourself or your product. I’ll say it a million times before I die: WE ARE ALL SICK OF BEING SOLD TO. “Educational Seminars” that are simply selling sessions in disguise will fail.

Sure, you may get them in the door, and you may even get a few to convert to customers, but gaining long term ‘clients’ with whom you will have mutually fulfilling relationships with cannot be done using slight of hand, outdated techniques. A speaking engagement or seminar is your opportunity to GIVE AWAY your knowledge. That’s right, give it away. Only then will your audience understand why and how they can use your services. And don’t worry, you won’t be able to give away all of your knowledge in 30 – 60 minutes. Giving away the right information will leave them wanting more, which is the entire point of all the marketing we do.

Of course being great at all of the above isn’t good enough if the seats aren’t full, so the PR proceeding your event is absolutely essential. Getting the word out through your website, newsletter, social media platforms and traditional media at the right time to hit your target audience is key. Both parts of the plan have to be enacted perfectly, but when done so speaking live to an interested audience is one of the most powerful ways to build your business.