Monthly Archives: February 2010

How Do You Handle Online Criticism?

We’ve discussed the role of Passive Social Media (monitoring social media) as a way to gain consumer insight about your company. The most difficult part (by far) is hearing criticism, but one that is important to your overall growth.

The February issue of Inc. has a great story on the social review site Yelp and the impact of consumer reviews on business.  Inc. senior writer Max Chafkin lists the five steps in handling online criticism:

  1. Register – “Registering [on sites like Yelp] allows you to correct inaccuracies, receive alerts when you are reviewed and respond to your critics.”
  2. Breathe – “If there’s no way to respond to a review without being angry, profane or aggressive, don’t do it at all.”
  3. Be Gracious – “Apologize for what the customer didn’t like and offer to make it right.”
  4. Complain – “[Yelp] removes reviews in cases where there is a conflict of interest.”
  5. Avoid The Courts – “If you decide to sue, be ready for more attacks”.

The points Chafkin makes are great for handling negative reviews. It is equally important that you are not so blind to your business that you classify every negative review as wrong.

If you are a restaurant and you get negative reviews every Monday night, is there a staffing issue that needs to be addressed?

Are people frustrated with your return policy?  If so, determine if you need to change your policy or just communicate it better at point of purchase.

If you see the same point come up review after review, recognize the trend and correct it quickly. When you communicate your changes, be sure to give credit to the people who brought it to your attention.

Doing so will go a long way to endear your audience and have them defend you against unwarranted negative comments.

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IIR’s Social Media & Community 2.0 Strategies conference will address “Cashing in on the Conversation”.  To learn more visit http://bit.ly/d7mUWG and use code XM2205SMB to save 15%.

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Apple Continues To Get It Right

While the debate continues regarding the impact of the iPad, Apple does many things right.

Today when I was purchasing a new case for my iPhone, the sales person noticed my company name on my credit card.  She asked me about the business and if I was interested in joining their business loyalty program where I could earn benefits, discounts, etc.

This simple act made me appreciate that she was focused on my needs as a customer, and not just focused on the sale.

We do this all the time in our personal lives. You may notice a tree growing too close to a neighbor’s house and offer to recommend an arborist.  Your friend’s car may leak antifreeze on your driveway and so you recommend a mechanic.  The benefit to you? Helping a friend. Keeping a strong relationship.

When I meet with clients, I listen to what they need and often recommend services or companies that can help, regardless of whether it benefits my bottom line. I recommend a business coach if I see organizational challenges; CFO consultants if their revenue model is flawed; or an M&A consultant if my client needs a better understanding of what their end-game needs to be.

The same thing should be done with your brand.

What are you doing to take the extra step to help your customers out?  Are you a resource that your customers trust because you are looking out for them?  How can you train your employees to recognize the opportunity to become that trusted resource?

When the hard drive on my Powerbook was dying, I took it to the Genius Bar at Apple for support. To my surprise, they recommended I take it to someone else who could put in a faster drive and increase my memory at a lower cost.  They even gave me a card for the place.

I bet you can guess what my next computer will be.

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Filed under Branding, Customer Marketing

Who’s Playing Social Games?

Here’s an interesting article on Mashable regarding who is playing those games on Facebook like Farmville, etc.  Who’s Playing Social Games? [STATS]

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Making Social Media Work For You

Social media remains a hot topic for businesses, especially in regard to measuring the return on investment: whether that investment is money, hours or a combination of the two.

Most companies measure ROI in increased sales or revenue, but that only looks at social media from a marketing perspective and not the full potential social media can have on a business.

I have written in the past regarding Passive Social Media, using social media as a listening tool.  By listening to your customers you might discover a new product line, a way to improve customer service, predict sales or the impetus for a marketing campaign, all of which can have a positive impact on ROI.

Companies like Procter & Gamble, Burt’s Bees, eBay and Dell use social media to gain insights and will be talking about it at the Social Media & Community 2.0 Strategies conference put on by IIR, May 3 – 5, 2010.

I have been invited to attend this conference and report on it, so I will be providing updates before, during and after the conference.

I encourage you to check it out if you are interested in taking advantage of everything social media has to offer.

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Filed under research, Social Marketing

Don’t Drive Angry.

In honor of Groundhog Day and one of my favorite movies by the same name, I wanted to recall a blog post from a little over a year ago regarding the elusive elevator speech.  It continues to be a hot topic with many of my clients and networking groups.  While getting it right takes work, once it is done it can make the difference of whether or not you get your foot in the door.

Originally Posted January 5, 2009

I am often amazed that even in the smallest companies discrepancies exist between how employees convey the company story.  And if you can’t get your story straight, you can’t expect customers to truly understand what you do.

So what to do.

Have all your employees memorize your mission statement?  I have seen it done and it doesn’t work.

Create the perfect elevator pitch* and print it on the back of their business cards? The elevator pitch is a good start, but if it feels rote, it won’t be believable.

The answer – create that elevator pitch, but help your employees make it their own.  Help them internalize the idea you set forth for your brand and let them express it in their own way.  That way it is delivered with conviction.

*Your elevator pitch is the 10 – 15 second description of why someone should hire your company.  If you don’t have one, creating one should be a priority.

To see where you stand, conduct a simple exercise.

  1. Write down what you think is your elevator pitch.
  2. Have everyone write down what they think is your elevator pitch.
  3. Analyze the findings to see if everyone is on the same page.  Be honest and do not infer what people mean to say.
  4. If everyone is on the same page, great.  If not, you have a starting point to see what needs to be fixed.
  5. If the differences are significant try to identify trends.  Do the customer-facing people describe your company one way, and the back office another?  Do your long-time employees have a different perspective than your newer employees?
  6. Honestly assess the findings and determine if your elevator pitch is the best one or does a better solution exist.
  7. Present the final elevator pitch to your employees and have them write down what it means to them.  Doing so will help them internalize the pitch so they can it with conviction.

With any branding activity, it does require monitoring.

Every six months ask your employees if they think the elevator pitch is still relevant to your audience.  This is a non-threatening way to get their input and to ensure they know how important it is to you.

If things begin to stray repeat the exercise outlined above.

What is your elevator speech?  Help each other out by posting your in the comments section.

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Filed under Elevator Pitch