It’s not JUST a business card!

rw card frontIn 2010 I created my current business card.

It’s worked well, if you ignore the folks complaining about the tiny tag line being unreadable.

And half the message on the reverse side is obsolete. Meaning I couldn’t just order another 1,000 cards and be done with it.

But nobody really cares about business cards, right?

Actually…they do.

Yes, even in this digital age the business card is important; at least for anyone serious about personal networking.rw card back

Because when you’re working the room at a conference, meeting, or chamber event you need to move fast to befriend 300 people in two hours.

Realistically, you won’t find them examining your LinkedIn profile during your conversation.

However, provide a business card explaining what you do and how to find you and you may bond afterwards.

If I can capture their attention, they’ll want to connect on social media where they’ll read my columns, review my website, and examine my portfolio.

I see this card as the first (sometimes only) impression lots of people get of me.

And I know that the alternative to having a business card touting my expertise and talents is writing my phone number on a cocktail napkin.

I’m pretty sure that doesn’t have QUITE the same impact.

In fairness to my designer, I’ve spent three weeks tweaking my new card.

He’s frustrated, wanting merely to finish the project, bill me for it, and move on to the next one.

But I’ve been struggling over logo position, font size, and messaging.

At last, after several versions I’m where I want to be and gave the final go-ahead to print.

PHEW!

My clients today care more about my comprehensive corporate communications and world-class marketing strategies than on my convenient west coast location.

The new card should reflect that.

And that tiny tag line needs to be enlarged, requiring the design to be adjusted accordingly.

It’s been an unpleasant process, but an important one.

The card I’m now finishing should last me another seven years, and my new websites now under construction will complement it.

Because just as my clients need to refresh their marketing materials every few years, my business needs to do the same.

Fortunately, I know JUST the guy to handle the whole thing!

With that said, I wish you a week of profitable marketing.
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Get help with your branding at www.marketbuilding.com.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Her Quick Thinking Saved My Life!

For years I’ve proclaimed to everyone how wonderful my bride is.two hearts as one

She’s saved me from loneliness, destitution, hunger, the East Coast and memories of countless failed relationships.

Last week she saved me again, with the Heimlich maneuver.

You see, after a pretzel left a dusty trail in my throat, I drank a club soda.

Whoom! The bubbles, reacting with the dust, created a thousand tiny sponges simultaneously expanding in my throat.

I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t even choke.

In my mind I was already writing the police report concluding with “Stupid way to die.”

My bride had other plans, acting fast and saving my life.

During his lifetime, Dr. Henry Heimlich’s signature move saved 100,000+ lives. Mine’s now on the list.

Today I joke about laughing at death, but I’ll admit to being scared.

My bride asked me not to tell this story, but this is unquestionably a teachable moment.

Choking can happen to anyone, anytime.

Cliché? Maybe, but it doesn’t make it any less true.

So how does this tie into a marketing column? Obviously, I can’t just celebrate my life partner’s accomplishment and be done with it.

So consider this scenario: You’re having lunch at work tomorrow and a piece of sandwich catches in your throat. Older readers will remember this is how Mama Cass Elliott purportedly died in 1974 (not true!)

A co-worker with whom you’ve clashed sees you turning blue, your hand at your throat. He steps behind you, performs the Heimlich maneuver, and saves your life.

Your associate wasn’t looking for applause, but to you he is now a hero. Your opinion of this person has gone up several notches. Past disagreements suddenly seem trivial.

The message sent and received was that common decency overcame company politics.

Today we’re swimming through a sea of disagreements, with former friends consistently at each other’s throats over every twitch and tweet coming from the nation’s capital.

And perhaps I’m fantasizing to believe that we’re all decent enough to save the next guy, even if we radically oppose whatever he stands for.

But since at the moment I’m still believing in miracles, give me this one. And if you don’t know how to do the Heimlich maneuver, learn.

Because you could easily save a life tomorrow.

With that said, I wish you a week of stress-free marketing.

Reach the newly optimistic Mr. Marketing at www.askmrmarketing.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.

Social media never disappears

Dunce-cap_BW (2)

Willful ignorance doesn’t help your cause

Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media outlets have become the predominant way of communicating and establishing commercial and personal brands.

Wearing my hat, for example, exposes me to a targeted audience. Blasting its image via six social media accounts increases my visibility exponentially.

However, once something’s published online it’s impossible to erase. So I’m VERY careful what I publish so it doesn’t come back to haunt me later.

Consider this recent item on LinkedIn:

“Damn…the NFL been around longer than our government. We’ve had 50 Super Bowls and only 45 presidents. I didn’t know that.”

She wasn’t kidding!

Her millennial friends agreed with her, while others provided unsuccessful civics lessons.

Logically, someday this woman will want a job. Potential employers will GOOGLE her name and discover today’s conversation.

Meaning today’s willful ignorance could easily endanger tomorrow’s opportunity.

This judgmental attitude isn’t just mine. Business owners following the feed said “WOW!!!”; “The scariest thing is…they vote.”; and “Your education is what you make it, Princess.”

This subject’s appropriateness for business-oriented LinkedIn also raised temperatures. One executive observed “Actually it’s perfect…helps with candidate vetting.”

Here’s reality for you: Anonymity no longer exists in today’s world.

Meaning if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

Whether you’re branding a business, non-profit, or yourself, be sure your marketing plan includes a healthy dose of social media.

But remember potential bosses, clients and partners will not only examine your recent postings, but everything you’ve ever written.

And those lurid pictures of you getting drunk, while funny now, will haunt you in 20 years with questions about your character, judgment, and intelligence.

So some unrequested advice for my young friend on LinkedIn: Poor communication skills don’t bode well for being able to market yourself in the future.

Because even though Millennials grew up comfortably sharing their every move with the world at-large, with many not recognizing the importance of privacy, their bosses probably feel differently.

There are six generations sharing the workplace today, and older generations control much of the employment and financing opportunities.

Their discomfort with a “Let it all hang out” attitude may encourage them to penalize anyone unable or unwilling to be “professional.”

It isn’t necessarily fair. But as a business owner, I know it’s a realistic view of today’s world.