Damage Control

Someone exploits a potentially negative issue regarding your small business.  What do you do?  Any hesitation can be damaging, so knowing how to deal with bad PR or perceived negative issues quickly and professionally can make all the difference in the success of your business.

  1. The Truth Will Set You Free. When your reputation is at stake, nothing is worth the risk of tainting it.  Remember, you’re not just dealing with your customers; you have to consider your suppliers, vendors, potential customers and any other business relationship that you work within.  Be honest and straight forward to preserve the integrity of your company.
  2. Tackle It Head On. Don’t hide from the issue; it will only make it worse.  Keeping a hand clamped over your mouth will only fuel speculation about your business.  Show that your business is ready to take on responsibility.
  3. Look for a Positive Spin. Stay calm and show the press the positive changes that you are doing to remedy the situation.  Even if your business is just associated with a perceived negative issue, show the public that you are responsibly handling the issue.  Look at how IKEA handles child labor laws in countries where their products are manufactured.
  4. Use your website. Notice how IKEA makes this information readily available and accessible on their website.  Your website can be used as the perfect avenue to circumvent the media and get your side of the story before the public.
  5. Watch and Learn. Pay attention to how other small businesses handle their PR crises.  Look for the good strategies – and the bad habits – to make sure your small business handles the situation correctly and professionally.

Give the People What They Want

We’re back from a LONG break.  Thanks for sticking with us.

Today, keeping customers happy requires more than just providing a quality product or service at a reasonable price.  Customers have learned to expect more from everyday business – and we, as business owners, have evolved from a once-good-enough service economy to an experience economy.

A cup of coffee is only a cup of coffee, right?   Starbucks turned an ordinary cup of coffee into a delightfully blended morning  experience, where coffee isn’t the central commodity.  Starbucks offers CDs, Itunes,  book recommendations,  news, community, free WiFi along with amultitude of choices for what goes in to your favorite brewed beverage, thereby making each concoction unique as the customer.

You say you aren’t Starbucks?  Creating the best client experience can be simple and inexpensive.   Try starting with the end result in mind.  What is the overall feeling you want your customer to have? What can you offer that is complimentary to your product and service that may give your business that little “something” over  your competitors? 

Ask yourself what you can offer your customer that adds value to their experience.  Spend 10 minutes  going through everything you do to touch or affect your customer from start to finish, and find a way to transform it into an experience.  As Starbucks has taught us, it’s all about the details.

Don’t be afraid to be creative appealing to your customer’s five senses.  You may even want to consider your product or service as a supporting player in an overall experience. 

Eventually, the experience you provide will become your ultimate marketing communication with your customers. Remember, the experience of buying a Starbucks coffee lasts much longer than the actual cup of coffee you walk out into the world with.

Think about the attributes that make your business unique as you open for business today.  Keep marketing and good luck!

Yes We Can!

With our attention turning to the inauguration next week, we thought the topic of this post was especially fitting.  

Let’s go for a ride in the way-back machine. In the 60’s, John F. Kennedy was president and, during his election, there was a medium of communication never used before in a presidential campaign; television. This medium would forever change politics and the way politicians run and centralize their campaign.

Fast forward to present day. Again, technological breakthroughs define election communication. For Kennedy, it was television. For Obama, it is the Internet. Obama’s campaign’s use of the Internet efficiently and effectively changed the way politicians organize supporters, advertise to voters and communicate with constituents. With the touch-of-a-button technology, defending one’s campaign against political attacks and left-field accusations becomes easy. As fast as the campaign writers can type, an answer is available. Prior to the Internet, dispersing information and a defending a candidate’s position required an army of volunteers and paid organizers out on the battlefield.

Barack Obama succeeded, in part, because his campaign found a means to connect to people in a way they could understand, segmenting voters and using the right method of communication for each targeted group. With younger voters, the Obama-Biden campaign used text messaging. For older voters (including this demographic), they sent short, concise emails from a variety of characters – the campaign managers, Michelle Obama, Joe Biden and his wife, and, of course, from Barack Obama himself. The emails allowed voters to connect directly with the people on the campaign frontline – to see them as real people facing real issues. The Obama – Biden campaign also took advantage of YouTube for free advertising, which proved to be more effective than television ads because viewers could chose when and where to watch them and the messages could easily be sent or received from friend. There were also weekly podcasts for those wishing to get more in-depth information on the issues.

The Obama-Biden campaign delved deep into social media and networking and came out fighting with clear vision and a well-thought battle plan. The use of this new medium doesn’t perfectly reflect that of JFK’s situation with television. The Internet demands authenticity, whereas television can be staged. Authenticity is something we haven’t seen in recent elections. The Internet became the conduit to a more genuine campaign. And that’s a change we can all get behind!

Don – in a digital branding world?

Mr. DraperImagine my surprise when this little bit came across my desk.   I’m a huge fan of the show Mad Men.  I love the period.  I drool over January Jones’ ensemble of cocktail dresses and riding habits.  I love the smart, snarky dialogue.  I love Sterling/Cooper and their seemingly endless struggles that miraculously resolve within the course of an hour.  (If only it were that easy!)  I often wonder if Don Draper and the boys could cut it in a social media world.

As my colleague, Allen, says, “Success in digital branding means knowing how and why things work and how to become part of an on-going online conversation without interrupting it.”   Great advice from a great guy.

I’m hearing lots from clients and colleagues about Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, MySpace, text advertising…the list is grows daily.  My advice for anyone thinking about investing marketing dollars in those ventures – seek first to understand them and then decide to jump in the conversation.  As always, Pin Money is here to help your navigate new waters.

Preaching to the Choir

Here’s a short article about marketing in a down economy that I just love.  The advice is simple and spot on.  Read the full article here.

The most important thing you can do for your business RIGHT NOW is to think short-term or break down your marketing timetable into 90 day increments.  It’s easy to get caught up in planning instead of implementation or to be distracted by what’s 6 months down the road.  

My swipe file is full of promotions from your competitors that are using the down economy to amp up their marketing.  Be sure you aren’t missing the important opportunities of today and tomorrow.  Need an infusion of new ideas?  Email me directly.

A big thanks to Rachel at Rescue Desk for passing this on!   Have a great weekend and stay warm.

Why didn’t it work?

Have you ever put your heart and soul into creating a marketing piece…only to have it flop?   

Think back to a promotion or event that didn’t garner the results you anticipated and ask yourself the following questions:

  • What were my expectations?  Were they realistic for my business, the current market, my area?
  • Did I explain my product or service in a way that was easy for a new customer to understand? (I can’t stress how important this step is when bringing a new product or service to market!)
  • Was my offer simple? Readable?
  • Did I choose the best method of getting my offer/product/service to the intended audience?
  • Did I have unexpected results or were they non-existent?
  • Did I test and measure results?  Over what time frame?

There are many reasons that good promotions don’t work.  Timing, placement, the offer was too complicated, the print was too small, your offer wasn’t interesting to a particular audience…the list goes on and on!

We at Pin Money are here to help!   Send us a promotion that “didn’t work” before January 15th and we’ll give you a one-hour professional marketing consultation to answer the burning question “Why not?”.   We can show you similar promotions that have worked, make suggestions to re-tool your marketing strategy or discuss creating your next successful campaign.  Email us today to schedule an appointment or phone conference.

Happy Thanksgiving!

We, at Pin Money, want to thank our clients, colleagues and friends for their continued support and patronage. We will continue to show our gratitude by bringing your business our experience and knowledge – and the fabulous PR and marketing that you have come to know and love!

Enjoy your holiday weekend!
Jennifer, Scott, Nira & Laura