The MadAveGroup Blog
The MadAve Blog (307)
On May 2nd, I called a local lawnmower shop to have my riding mower picked up for its annual service.
Cammie - the lady who runs the service department - told me she'd have one of her drivers pick up my mower on Tuesday the 5th, and that the service process would take 7 to 10 days.
The mower was still sitting in my driveway the night of Wednesday the 6th.
When I called to find out why, Cammie had no idea who I was or what I wanted. She had lost my order.
The mower was finally picked up on Friday the 8th.
When I called the shop Saturday the 16th to check on its status, Cammie told me that her team had not yet started work on my mower, and that it would be at least another three days until I could have it back. Over this two-week period, my grass had literally grown to the middle of my shins.
Frustrated, I asked how she was going to make this right. "What do you want me to do?" Cammie replied. "I've been getting yelled at for this same problem for the last three days."
Look - as a company, you're going to mess up.
A system will break down, or a weakness in your process will be exposed, or a team member will just plain drop the ball.
No company or employee is perfect, so disappointing customers is bound to happen now and then.
But if you don't prepare for that inevitability you're asking for trouble.
Empower your staff to make customers happy when things go wrong. That includes accepting responsibility for the problem, empathizing with customers, and giving them the tools to re-earn a customer's trust.
Then, encourage your employees to manage up. If they know of a problem anywhere in your organization – especially if it affects the customer experience – they should feel free to tell their supervisor.
Cammie's admission that "I've been getting yelled at for this same problem for the last three days" tells me that either she didn't bother to tell her manager about her department's issues or that management did nothing to address her concerns. Develop a culture or a process that makes managing up easy and non-threatening. The information you get from the front lines will be invaluable.
Retaining customers is a constant effort. Most of them will excuse a mistake now and then if you react politely and swiftly to correct it. By preparing for failure, you can salvage the customer relationships your sales and marketing teams work so hard to win.
You should know about these two phone calls.
One call was placed to a single-location medical facility; the other to a link in a national chain of office supply stores.
Neither call produced a positive experience, which is why you should read about them. The stories may help you avoid the same mistakes, and prevent brand damage and lost revenue.
These situations are certainly not unique, which is good news for your brand. If you can deliver a great experience to each of your callers, you will enjoy a differentiation that encourages repeat business and long-term customer relationships.
RELATED POST: Are You Prepared for Failure?
You may have heard that Google will soon be adjusting the way it ranks websites for users on mobile devices. And, yes, if your website isn't mobile-compatible, your traffic count is likely to suffer.
Read the WebArt blog post "A Huge Opportunity to Boost Your Mobile Traffic."
It's easy to build a website and then forget about it.
It's easy to get the variable printing tools in place for your branch locations and then walk away.
In fact, it's understandable why you might set up any type of automated system and then assume you never have to think about it again.
But that could be a costly assumption. Or, at the very least, a little embarrassing.
I'm not going to pretend to have any idea what Brian Williams was thinking.
Did he mean to embellish the facts of his 2003 experience in Iraq? Or did he honestly remember the situation that way?
At age 51, I can't recall how I got to work most mornings, let alone the details of an event 12 years ago. But on the flip side, I'm absolutely positive I've never been shot at in a helicopter at any point in my life.
Regardless of the who, what, why, when or if, this whole thing should remind us that the truth still matters to people. Stretching it may have cost Brian Williams his career and NBC News serious brand damage.
What does that lesson mean for your marketing?
Especially in the Internet era, customers and prospects can determine pretty quickly when your advertising has misrepresented the truth, or even when the experience you allude to isn't consistent with what they actually encounter.
So, when marketing your business, don't lie. Don't even exaggerate. Instead, use the time you have with your audience to shine honest light on your brand's unique value and differences.
Padding the truth leads to customer disappointment, erodes trust, damages your reputation, and makes it harder for your next message to resonate with your audience.
(Photo credit: NBC News)
What could a contemporary, upscale hotel in a hip downtown district have in common with a pet adoption agency?
Maybe nothing at first glance.
Since August 2014, Charlie's Angels has brought one dog into the hotel about every 7 to 10 days. The dog lives in the lobby until he's adopted by a hotel guest. In the seven months since the program began, hotel guests have adopted 19 dogs. That's great news for the shelter – and the dogs.
And, as you'll see in this NBC News report, the dogs allow the hotel to create a unique experience for guests. The Aloft is seen as supporting a good cause, and may even be responsible for introducing a new best friend to many guests. That's a lifelong memory they're helping to create.
Who can you partner with for mutual benefit? If there's no obvious answer, start by considering organizations that you would like to help even if your company didn't benefit directly from the relationship. Acting on your authentic passion for a cause can pay many other types of dividends.
Do you find yourself in one of these two groups?
1) You think your company's website is just fine the way it is. You don't have time to pay attention to it anyway. And no, it doesn't generate traffic, leads or sales, but it's not on fire or hurting anyone, so you'd rather not talk about it.
2) You know your website is under-performing and that it's a poor representation of your brand identity. Each day that it remains online, the stench of missed opportunity grows ever more pungent in your marketing-centric nostrils. Yet, you don't have the time to commit to a new site either.
Whether you're a member of group one or group two - or an invisible third group that defies description - you should read "The Cost (and Value) of Your Website." You'll learn why a more effective site is well worth the investment and that – hurray! – you don't have to take on the full-time job of running the thing. It's good news all around, really.
On this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I'm reminded of a word that we use a lot around our agency: passion.
It would be impossible to watch Dr. King's 1963 speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial and believe that he was anything less than passionate about his dream.
More than 50 years after he spoke during the March on Washington, his thoughts still inspire and stir. His impactful words, his delivery, his focus and emotional intensity all came together in that moment and left a lasting imprint on humanity.
Passion is contagious. It excites and moves people to action. And when it's the force behind a sincere message, it can be hard to stop.
Are you passionate about what you're doing? Do you believe in your work and your message so strongly that people around you can feel it? And how are you expressing that passion to a larger audience?
It's the beginning of a new year; a time for fresh starts; a chance to get better.
The problem is that, when it comes to making resolutions, many of us bite off more than we can chew. (It's great that you'd like to lose 30 pounds. Just don't expect to do it by Wednesday.)
When working on behavioral change, experts recommend a slow and steady approach with plenty of attainable mini goals along the way to provide motivation
That's one way to improve your marketing in 2015.
First, choose one major marketing goal you'd like to achieve by December 31st.
Next, use the rest of January to identify 10 strategies (and the accompanying tactics) that will help you reach that goal. Then, prioritize those strategies based on how tough they'll be to execute.
On February 1st, implement the most difficult, most time-consuming of the ten strategies.
On March 1st, start on the second-most difficult strategy, while still working on the first.
Continue to add the next strategy on the list at the top of each new month, while working on the others you've already started. In December, make any last-minute adjustments necessary to reach your goal, and evaluate which strategies and tactics worked and which didn't.
That slow and steady approach can help you stay focused. It may give you the time you need to improve certain skills or processes. And it will allow your marketing momentum to build at a manageable pace.
Whether you need to cut costs or you just enjoy getting more for your money, you're going to like this idea.
They still derive the many benefits of On Hold Marketing, but without spending a dime. Sometimes, the company even makes money on what we provide for them.
To learn how they do it, and how you might turn a marketing investment into a profit center, read this valuable post on the BusinessVoice Blog.