Archive for Public relations

Tips For Your Server

stone breweryIs a restaurant server worth a 43% tip?

Most of us would typically say no, preferring the historic 15%. If feeling generous we’ll go 20%, when peevish 10%.

So what must a server do to earn big tips? Read the room, and market properly.

For years I’ve complained about what folks do wrong in their marketing.

Doctors, corporations, and the Postal Service have all come under withering attack for poor marketing practices or non-existent customer service.

A 23-year old server at Escondido’s Stone Brewery demonstrates how to do it properly.

Most servers introduce themselves to encourage a “relationship”, albeit a short-lived one. They work hard for minimal pay, hoping for tips to allow them to live like real people.

Anyone believing they’re above such menial labor sees wait-staff as unskilled workers.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

To survive these staffers must be knowledgeable, gracious, personable, and talented. This week I met such a person.

Madison is hardworking, entertaining, bright, personable, and efficient. She spoke her mind, didn’t miss a trick, and restored my faith in the future of service businesses.

She made us feel truly welcome, engaging with my party and learning what made us tick.

It was unusual behavior for a server, and something I might’ve frowned upon under other circumstances.

However, it was a slow night and she read us correctly; we were open to conversation.

So she talked with us about us, rather than merely doing busywork.

We found her intelligent, her humor charming, and encouraged her to stay.

Despite my desire to interact with my dinner partner, I found Madison brought much to the conversation.

Her taking the time to care for and anticipate our culinary needs led to that well-earned 43% tip.

Few 20-somethings figure out the importance of good customer service. Indeed, many people twice that age don’t get it.

But Madison knows the 3 rules of good marketing:

  • The customer’s always right
  • Know your business
  • Anticipate customer needs

Merely introducing yourself isn’t enough to increase your earnings. Being overly-friendly won’t appeal to everyone.

Yet this young woman demonstrated it’s possible to market yourself well while carrying a tray full of drinks. She followed our lead, and established a real relationship.

We’ll both be her customers again…soon!

With that said, I wish you a week of profitable marketing.

———————-
Send your comments about Madison to www.marketbuilding.com.

 

You are what you wear

wine-dress-LUX-LD3449-aAt 15 mom convinced me you can’t get into trouble dressing conservatively.

She also said I should wear clean underwear in case I’m in an accident. I now know if I’m in an accident my underwear won’t be clean for very long.

But I digress. It’s prom night at Old Poway Park.

Everyone’s dolled up, taking pictures and awaiting the big moment.

One attractive girl whose dress is cut down to Venezuela catches attention while cavorting with her friends.

Her primary competition’s got a gown slit up to her navel.

I shake my head, wondering where were girls like this when I was in high school.

SIGH!

Assuming their goal’s to titillate their dates, these young exhibitionists are achieving their objective. Obviously, fancy parties require exciting clothes.

Other environments demand more sober clothing to achieve success. Miss Cleavage obviously wouldn’t wear that gown for a job interview.

A recent consulting gig found me surrounded by coworkers in jeans. I blended in on a high level with jeans, jacket and tie.

People noticed, calling me the classiest person in the organization.

Other clients won’t talk to me seriously unless I’m suited up.

My ideas are obviously the same without the suit, but that’s their culture. I live by their guidelines to buy myself a seat at the table.

Clothing sends a clear message who you are. Jeans at a job interview says “I’m not serious,” while jacket and tie at a rock concert screams “DORK!”

Reading the room and your place in it is critical for marketing yourself properly.

Speaking at a conference? Wear a jacket and tie. The audience shows up wearing jeans? Remove the tie.

My point is simple: Despite changing norms in many workplaces, most people still judge you by your wardrobe. Therefore, it’s key to pay attention to the message you’re sending.

Still, regardless of the packaging you can continue standing out of the crowd. Suits can be dressed up with a colorful tie or kerchief.

Hawaiian Shirt Day at work is an invitation to wear something bold.

With prom night past these kids have an opportunity to market themselves to new audiences at college and beyond. Their choice of fashion could easily make the difference to their personal and professional futures.

With that said, I wish you a week of profitable marketing.

———————
Dress your marketing for success at www.marketbuilding.com

The Best Sneetch on the Beach?

18582547_1537480859609087_60390326429017806_nLast night at Alesmith Brewery my friend Dave noticed all the pretty girls. I couldn’t get past them all having tattoos.

As I don’t sport ink, I admit my ignorance to the fascination with this form of self-expression.

It’s a throwback to my youth, when my father instilled in me three things to never do: sleep with a hooker, spend a night in jail, or get a tattoo.

So I basically just don’t get it.

Dave tried helping me out; “Military, truck drivers, and gang members have all traditionally worn body art. It goes with the territory.”

Which is all well and good. But the 58-year old accountant rebelling against a lifetime of middle class existence by imprinting a red scorpion on her neck may need therapy more than ink and needle.

That 25-year old tattooing her boyfriend’s name onto her hand fits in with her crowd but forgets he’s probably gone next year.

And will anyone really take you for a badass when you’re 90 and still sporting that grinning skull?

Next I re-read my Dr. Seuss.

In The Sneetches, Seuss spoke of the superiority complex of those with stars on their bellies. As everyone got them to feel special, eventually nobody was special. The tattoo artist won.

Regular readers know I’m all about finding ways to stand out of the crowd. Yet if the entire crowd expresses their individuality together, I go with Seuss’ observation “The best kind of Sneetches are Sneetches without!”

My bride says it’s a matter of self-identification. Does that translate to marketing yourself?

If so, before you make that commitment, ask if you’re more likely to stand out without a tattoo?

Because that body art makes a statement about you that might negatively impact your ability to market yourself and/or your company.

After all, if your customers are turned off by tats, you might not get or keep the job.

During my career I’ve observed the most successful sales people have certain things in common, including dressing well, neutral accents, good grooming, lack of facial hair, and no tattoos.

Despite this, you may feel a tattoo’s key to your identity. If you must pursue it, place it somewhere unobtrusive. You and your close friends can appreciate what’s nobody else’s business.

With that said, I wish you a week of profitable marketing.

———————-

Add color to your marketing at www.askmrmarketing.com

I Couldn’t Do This Without You!

500The strangest thing happened at last week’s chamber networking event.

Introducing myself to two women, one said to the other “I know Rob. He’s a celebrity, and very well known around these parts.”

Actually, I’m an incredibly minor celebrity, but appreciated the recognition.

In fact I’m always surprised when strangers greet me. I guess these things happen after 500 columns.

Eleven years after we started our dialogue I’ve apparently developed a following. For this I’m both grateful and nonplussed.

When asked why they read my column, folks typically explain “You make marketing accessible to people who know nothing about it.”

My bride keeps my head from swelling; One can’t have an inflated ego when emptying the trash.

While still unsure why you’re reading this, I do know marketing impacts everyone. It persuades us to try this soap or vote for that candidate.

We’re all increasingly manipulated, and I want to help educate those around me.

And the dialogue has been two-ways. A steady stream of ideas flow from well-meaning readers.

These conversations oftentimes begin with “You should write a column about…” followed by suggestions like vampires, sex, whipped cream, or (yesterday) all three simultaneously.

Which provided a great idea for a novel, but didn’t give me a message for this week.

So how about this: Thanks for your help.

Thanks for the guidance about ideas you’d like explored, researched, and explained.

And thanks for expanding my comfort zone.

Because when you say “Write about Donald Trump,” I know:

1)     I don’t write a political column

2)     I must find marketing angles or a new subject

3)     I can’t portray my personal feelings if I’m going to be honest and fair

So if there’s an issue you’d like to see examined, send in the idea and your thoughts how it relates to marketing, communications, or sales.

Between us, perhaps we can interest others in the community.

Naturally I can’t just write to help promote your business unless you’re doing something really different, marketing-wise.

Unless you’re promoting Panama hats, of course. Then…let’s talk.

But whatever the subject, odds are excellent there’s a marketing angle to it. If you submit it and I write about it, you’ll get full credit.

After all, I’m obviously not THAT brilliant all the time!

With that said, I wish you a week of profitable marketing.

____________________

Submit your ideas at www.askmrmarketing.com.

Learning from others’ mistakes

Toyota’s cars accelerated accidentally. Volkswagen cheated on emissions tests. protest signApple’s phones bent, while Samsung’s exploded.

With the exception of Samsung, these debacles have all been largely forgotten, thanks to time and supplemented marketing budgets.

Stocks and sales have all recovered nicely. While we hope they’ve learned something, business at these companies has largely gone back to normal.

Joining this select group recently was United. Their invitation for the Chicago police to be their public relations representatives on an overbooked flight didn’t go unnoticed.

The video of Dr. David Dao being dragged off the flight was seen by millions around the world. The airline did give him an upgrade, though, with a free broken nose, concussion and removal of two teeth that this passenger hadn’t even requested.

What, no peanuts?

Dao was one of four customers who were “voluntold” to give up their seat after refusing an offer of $800 apiece. He obviously wanted to be on that flight and the criteria for choosing him is unclear. However, it could have legitimately included him purchasing a discounted seat or not having enough frequent flier miles.

Those four seats were given to crewmembers needed in Louisville (325 miles away) for another flight. Apparently renting a car wasn’t an option for those employees.

The airline’s since settled with Dr. Dao, rather than getting dragged into court. They’ll also now offer up to $10,000 for volunteers relinquishing their seats.

But their reputation as “The Friendly Skies” airline is shot.

Meanwhile, Southwest has stopped overbooking their flights, learning from United’s mistakes.

On April 9 United clearly broadcast that their employees matter more than paying customers do.

They simultaneously provided these lessons for the rest of us:

With video cameras everyplace, nothing is secret anymore

Your reputation can be damaged in an instant

Customers don’t care what your problems are. Anyone with a business can adopt these lessons to improve service, sales and profits by not promising more than can be delivered. If you do over-promise, handle it delicately. Finally, trying to shift your problems to customers guarantees you’ll lose business and reputation.

The immediate issue may go away, but is sure to be replaced by bigger headaches.

United has (hopefully) learned that. You should also learn from its screw-up.

========================

THIS is the right way to treat customers!

Event marketing on a budget

It seems every week there’s a fundraising event aimed at generating support event marketingfor a local non-profit.

Golf tournaments, soccer games, bazaars … spring is the busy fundraising season. You name it, you’ll find it.

All seek to maximize turnout and dollars raised. Most face similar challenges, including:

• Competition from other events

• Miniscule budgets

• Volunteers doing the bulk of the work

Sadly, many volunteers lack basic marketing knowledge. This inhibits effectively spreading the word about their event, helping to conspire against success.

So, as a public service, I’d like to analyze the May 7 Jewish Food Festival at Poway’s Temple Adat Shalom.

This event offers everything you’d expect: food, music, dancing, educational materials, crafts … the works.

Since December, a team of eight volunteers (including me) has implemented a marketing plan aimed at delivering solid results without many resources.

Hey, it’s a non-profit fundraiser. Of course, the marketing budget’s skimpy. Despite that they’ve worked wonders, developing:

• A snappy tagline

• A revitalized web site

• Online event calendar postings

• A twice-weekly campaign encouraging Facebook connections to share news and invite their friends

• Printed signs for placement in area store windows

• Print ads targeting specific local communities

• Publicity appearing throughout San Diego County

• Promotional postcards mailing to homes within two miles of Temple Adad Shalom.

The team also coordinated a food drive with Interfaith Community Services.

Then sales promotions were used judiciously to increase awareness, attendance and participation, with fliers placed in hotels to attract regional visitors.

A mailing campaign was also done to potential sponsors, and in-house publications maintained a steady drumbeat to the most obvious audiences.

Every marketing tool used consistent designs and language. Combining good organization, a desirable destination and comprehensive marketing, current projections show double the turnout from the last Jewish Food Festival.

Has it been perfect? Hardly. Business cards should have been made for those selling program ads and a budget for radio, billboards and TV would have tied it all together nicely.

Then again, they’d probably have had so many visitors that they’d run out of food.

The only disappointment: Someone being reluctant to co-sponsor light pole banners out of fear of associating his company’s name with the word “Jewish” due to rising societal anti-Semitism.

Despite such setbacks, food festival organizers anticipate great results, setting an excellent example for other non-profit fundraisers.

Get more information about this great event at http://www.sdjewishfoodfest.com

You’re calling it WHAT?

Driving through CoPerformanceUtilitySupply_Underground-Utilities-Home1rona I spotted a roadside sign reading PUS.

Having a twisted sense of humor, I wondered who would want to buy the stuff.

The sign was attached to a company named Performance Utility Supply. They sell hardware to the power and lighting industries.

I’m guessing most of their customers are “manly” men in construction. Their website photo of an unshaven guy wearing his PUS gear reinforces my suspicion.

The company also has a sexually suggestive line emblazoned on their trucks. And if this strategy works for them, who am I to argue?

Still, one has to wonder about the long-term wisdom of this type of gender-based marketing. While today women only make up 9% of construction workers, change is inevitable.

Over the past 50 years, women have achieved parity in one industry after another. In the current political climate, their numbers can only be expected to increase.

All suggesting the eventuality of more women buyers in one of the last bastions of male domination: construction.

It’s no surprise that women oftentimes view the world differently than men. Historically, professional women are less likely to engage in sophomoric hijinks than their male counterparts.

Which all points to women buyers in construction and related trades who will want to be taken seriously and/or be offended by the PUS name and marketing strategy.

Naming a business can be tricky, easily going down the wrong path. Things to consider when you’re naming your business include:

  • How will your audience receive it?
  • How will your acronym read?
  • Is the name exciting, or a compromise reached to satisfy a committee?
  • Does the name say something, or is it just feeding someone’s ego?
  • Are you just mashing words together in hopes of being clever?
  • Do you stand out of the crowd in a good way?
  • Are you merely naming the business after the town you live in?
  • Are you using clichés or obscure words?
  • Is your spelling funky?
  • Can you get a domain to match your company name?
  • Are you budgeting enough to brand your name to customers?
  • Can you admit if the company name is just wrong?

Company names should bring value to the table. The last thing you want is for customers to be offended when they see your business’ name.

Delivering Savings Until Closing Time Today

A man walks into the post office…WONDERUSPS2

Sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, doesn’t it?

But there I was waiting to buy postage and I discovered a coupon jointly issued by Hallmark and the U.S. Postal Service.

In truth I shouldn’t have been surprised. For the past few years the Postal Service has been getting increasingly commercial in an effort to overcome an annual $5 billion deficit. And because the USPS is a quasi-governmental agency receiving zero tax dollars, that money obviously has to come from someplace.

So, a few years back they started selling ancillary items like packing supplies and greeting cards.

Then they struck deals to feature animated characters on postage stamps, including Bambi, Big Bird and Daffy Duck.

Today, stamps featuring Wonder Woman can be affixed to Snoopy greeting cards, both purchased at the postal counter.

The tie-in between postage stamps and Hallmark greeting cards is a logical one.

Post offices have a built-in customer traffic flow. Most cards get mailed and need stamps.

What better place to tie the stamps, card, and customers together than there?

Furthermore, free email graphics have been the source of headaches for Hallmark executives for a long time.

If they can sell more cards and pay the USPS a sales commission, everyone wins, right?

Their plan is obvious;

  • Customer chooses a card from the multiple displays in the postal store lobby;
  • Coupon offers $1 off 3 cards if purchased before Feb. 17, 2017 (That’s TODAY, in case you hadn’t noticed!);
  • Customer buys two additional cards and stamps for mailing them

The promotion’s demise date screams “Valentine’s Day,” though any cards sold there qualify for the discount.

Now let’s examine your business. Odds are good there’s a potential partner for you, regardless of what you sell.

Car dealerships can join forces with area gas stations. Bakeries can work with exercise studios, which, in turn, can partner with beverage companies.

The USPS isn’t collecting buyers’ contact information, but there’s no reason you can’t. A list of buyers is incredibly valuable, since:

  • They like what you and your partner sell
  • You have an established relationship
  • They’re likely to buy from you again

Partnerships must be carefully thought out and planned, but can be very successful if done right. Learn from the USPS and develop one today.

Right this way, Mr. Squinty

In September I found myself at a branch of my bank awaiting a receipt. My sd-sdreyer-1485458125-snap-phototime was spent perusing brochures, people-watching, and staring into space. Then the monitor behind the counter caught my eye.

As a marketing professional I’m naturally curious about every company’s messaging. So I watched their video presentation. Twice.

Finally I realized the problem. “The picture’s fuzzy,” I told the teller, who smiled noncommittally.

Last week I visited another branch of the same bank and determined the problem wasn’t my eyes, but the presentation itself.

This time the teller acknowledged the issue. “We said something to headquarters weeks ago and they promised they’d fix it,” she said.

Yet here we are, months later, and the problem persists.

When I started in business, my father advised me to be sensitive to customers’ needs. “People’s eyes start playing tricks on them around age 40,” he warned.

Truer words were never spoken! Shortly after I hit 40 my eyes started acting up, and they’ve only gotten worse with age.

So here I was observing a marketing presentation that was unfocused and giving me a headache.

And the bank’s marketing department apparently wasn’t very concerned about it.

Meaning the message meant to reinforce my warm fuzzy feelings for this bank instead irritated me.

Counter-productive? You bet!

Even if the bank eventually gets its act together, it’ll be quite a while before I’m watching that video again.

Translation: beyond the annoyance factor, they’ve lost a very visible, very cost-effective tool for communicating with me.

And a measure of good will has also been lost because they didn’t pay attention to my needs.

Now let’s consider your business. Do you:

• Know your customer’s profile and their preferred ways of being communicated with?

• Understand their needs to ensure they receive your message?

• Listen to your staff when they tell you there’s a marketing issue requiring attention?

Admittedly I’m not so annoyed that I’m moving my business elsewhere…yet.

Still, I’m now wondering which other concerns of mine they’re ignoring.

And should the competition hit me with the right offer, benefits, and messaging on the right day, I might be persuaded to switch.

All because some faceless person didn’t take the time to ensure quality control at the point of sale.