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Asking for magic without leaving the comfort zone would be like handing Picasso a single bucket of grey paint and expecting a masterpiece. 

It’s an overused statement, but magic does NOT happen inside your comfort zone.

Nearly every day, clients and prospects bring up examples of groundbreaking ideas. Things they’ve seen in case studies or heard about, brilliant work that made a difference. Then they proceed to explain that they want something just as groundbreaking, something that will disrupt the market, something that will break through the clutter…BUT, they want to do this without making any changes, without breaking new ground, without learning new tricks, without taking some chances, without being the bad-ass decision-maker they’re trying to emulate.

Asking for magic without leaving the comfort zone would be like handing Picasso a single bucket of grey paint and expecting a masterpiece.

If you’re wanting to disrupt your market, be a market-leader. Today is the day to roll up your sleeves, grab a shovel, and break new ground.

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How to respond to positive reviews online, and why you should

Every time a review is posted online, there’s basically two initial reactions:

  1. the self-congratulatory high-five for a good review, or
  2. the seething sense of believe that customers simply don’t know what they’re talking about for a bad review.

Most people know how important it is to reply to negative reviews, but many overlook the value of responding to positive reviews. Replying to positive reviews can be just as important to replying to those pesky complaints.

Here’s a few of the reasons that you should always reply to the positive reviews:

  • It’s simply the right thing to do. If someone walks up to you on the street and tells you that you look amazing, at a minimum you say ‘Thank You.’ (If someone did that to me, I’d likely pass out – but that’s a personal problem I have with handling compliments). This isn’t as private as someone talking to you on the street, they’ve left a positive review in a public space, so be extra appreciative!
  • It’s a marketing tool. People read reviews. When someone reads about another customer’s positive experience and they see your reply, and how you treat your customers/friends, it’s a chance to start developing a relationship with these new people.
  • It will help the positive reviews show in search results, as they will have activity and be seen as more useful reviews, raising them in the world of online rankings.

Responding to positive reviews is one of the simplest things you’ll ever do. Just follow these three very simple steps.

  1. Be real. Make sure the reply provides specific comments about the review and mentions a name, you don’t want people to think that a random piece of software is simply giving a ‘thumbs-up’ to positive review.
  2. Talk to the search engines as well as the people, be sure to pepper in a couple things you need indexed online such as the name of your business and the service you’re talking about. Don’t just say, “We’re glad you had a great experience,” say “On behalf of XXX we’re thrilled you’re enjoying the best haircut you’ve ever received in Chicago!”
  3. Add anything else that might be helpful. Mention a new product they may wish to try, new service hours that could make life even better, new items that are coming in next week, etc. etc. – use this chance to market to the reviewer and those that read the reviews.

The next time one of those positive reviews comes in, don’t just give yourself a high-five, and don’t just say ‘Thanks!’ — use this as a chance to strengthen your ties to the consumer, offer them new opportunities to visit you, and let the world know how much you appreciate them.

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Play the Game, Change the Rules

Each day you get up, you have to play the game. Work has to be done, there are certain tasks that must be completed. However, you don’t have to do things the way they’ve always been done. If you want to succeed, be disruptive. Play the game, but change the rules.

Take a look at your routine today. Why are you doing things the way you do? Have you thought about doing them differently? Look at your marketing and public relations budgets and highlight anything that’s just there because it always has been, I guarantee you there is a better way to allocate those funds. In most cases, I find there is a way to save money while shaking up the system and getting better results.

public relations

The PR Quandary

Something I have to point out quite often is that marketers and PR professionals are not liars, at least I’m not.

I promote the positive. That’s a common-sense decision for anyone.

I drown out the negative with the positive. That’s another common-sense decision for anyone.

A public relations professional can do wonders for your image by simply promoting the good, but do yourself a big favor and don’t do things that you don’t want talked about. Don’t put yourself in a position of needing me to promote the positive to simply bury the negative. Do good work and do things that you want people to talk about, then let me make those stories even better.

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Don’t You Forget About Me

Be memorable.

Whatever you do, whatever service you provide or product you create, you have to be memorable.

Maybe you’re memorable for being the absolute best, maybe it’s because you’re a square peg that fits into a round hole, or maybe you’re like me and you make up for your shortcomings with loud clothes and tattoos…however you do it, you have to stand out.

Each day I work with  people that offer perfectly suitable products/services, and there’s often absolutely nothing memorable about them or the service. Providing quality simply isn’t enough in today’s world of constant input and competition. You have to be memorable.

Kick back with Simple Minds and enjoy ‘Don’t You Forget About Me’ a few times. Think about your brand. Do what has to be done to make sure that you stand out.

advertising marketing public relations rants and ramblings reputation management social media

Create Coincidences

I always apply my favorite quotes to work, that’s what makes them resonate so well for me. My favorite television quote of all time is from Fox Mulder on The X-Files. “If coincidences are just coincidences, why do they feel so contrived?”

Very often, budget is better spent bypassing traditional media and by putting your product or service directly in the path of those you wish to reach. Get in front of people, be in front of them at the time they decide they need you, make that coincidence happen.

How do you do that? Get creative, be clever, have a plan, and do things differently. Make the best use of grassroots marketing and event tie-ins, pitch the media with a unique twist to be included in stories not directly related to promoting your product or service, don’t push your services on anyone but be in front of them when they need you.

Making coincidences happen may not always be the easiest route to follow, but it can be very effective. It’s also more cost-effective to cleverly find your audience than to try to beat them into submission with TV and radio and Google Ads.

advertising marketing public relations rants and ramblings

I Make Stuff Up, but NOT all Marketers are Liars

Public Relations, Advertising, and Marketing. The lines blur at times, it’s hard to distinguish between them some days. Luckily, no matter what the task of the day is, I Make Stuff Up.

However, contrary to Seth Godin’s book title, not all Marketers are liars.

At no time do I fabricate lies on behalf of anyone. I do, however, look for creative ways to reach audiences with a story. I look for new ways to share stories. I make up creative ways of reaching people. I make up events that didn’t exist so that clients have a fun way to reach intended publics and everyone has a great time doing it.

Hell yes, I make stuff up. However, I don’t lie on behalf of clients to sell products or services. Not only would I not do this, no client I have would want me to.

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“If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.” — Don Draper

I have more than 200 absolute favorite quotes from Mad Men. This one is my absolute favorite today, because it fits so many projects at-hand.

A hefty percentage of my time in the public relations side of life is spent with clients in a sort of crisis mode as they concern themselves greatly with the conversations that are currently talking place. My role is to help them focus on communications strategy and the CONVERSATIONS THAT THEY WANT TO BE TAKING PLACE.

Don Draper put it perfectly. “If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.”

In today’s world, it’s easy to do. You have the tools at-hand to keep tabs on what the public is saying about you and/or your brand. It’s well within your grasp to change these conversations. If you can’t do it yourself, professionals can help.

I’ve lived through this regarding professional and personal topics, and I’m sure I will again. When you’re hearing something you don’t like, you have two choices. You can live with it, or you can change it. Be a winner, and change the conversation to something more suitable to your goals.

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It Ain’t Rocket Surgery: 7 Basic Steps to Marketing Success

Odds are, you’re great at something.

Marketing, however, may not be your comfort zone. Nearly every day I speak with some of the best hair dressers and salon owners in the world, but they don’t always know how to let the rest of the world know just how good they truly are.

Don’t let marketing scare you, it ain’t rocket surgery!

If you have no marketing plan, follow these 7 simples steps to get yourself moving in the right direction. This isn’t the answer to all your problems, but it can start clearing the path.

1. Make a plan. It doesn’t have to be a fancy plan, but you can’t move forward unless you know where you’re going. Write down some basic goals and some of the basic steps to help you reach those goals.

2. Make a budget. It’s easy to spend too much, and it’s easy to spend too little. Make a budget so that you don’t lose sight of how much (or how little) you’re investing into growing your brand.

3. Make sure your social media activities sites are active, and representing your salon the way you want them to.

4. Be engaged in the community by supporting local causes that can also draw attention to your salon, look for a win-win situation.

5. Befriend the media. Local media is your friend, and they need content. Communicate with them regularly about trends in the industry and your community involvement. Offer to show the new seasonal hair-styles for the morning news.

6. Service your current clients before worrying about getting new clients. Make sure you are doing all you can for those that already love you. Reach out to them, treat them like you did the first time they walked through the door, and get them back in the door more often. These are the clients that pay the light bills and keep the salon open.

7. Plan the holidays in advance. Look at the calendar, there’s always a holiday around the corner. Plan your specials and your promotions in advance so that you can pre-promote them instead of scurrying last-minute to promote gift ideas. Also, pre-plan to extend hours for the holidays, don’t leave anyone looking for someone to make them beautiful.

Of course there are many more simple ideas, and many more complex ideas to grow your business. But if you don’t have each of these covered, be sure to focus before working on other projects. Cover the basics before reaching for more.

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN SALON TODAY.

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Listen to and Question the Experts

You don’t tell your surgeon how to hold a scalpel. She/he has spent a considerable portion of their life learning more about what they do than you’ll ever need or want to know. You trust them.

The same holds true for graphic artists, marketers, public relations practitioners, lawyers, arborists, stylists, colorists, embalmers, and entomologists.

Anything that can be done, there are people that specialize in it, they’re experts. Reach out and listen to them. If you’re a kick-ass stylist, colorist, or salon owner, there’s a good chance you didn’t have the opportunity to specialize in every other professional realm that exists.

However, don’t soak in all this information blindly. Question it. Question everything you hear and see. The only way we have to move forward is by questioning how things are currently being done. There is a lot to be learned from the experts, we can’t exist without them…but there is always more to learn and new ways to do things.

Without questioning the experts, life would be very different. Our lives would include bloodletting, lobotomies, fear of sailing off the end of the Earth, believing box color works like a visit to the salon, and thinking that stylists are just people that cut hair.

Realize where your weaknesses are, reach out to the experts, and then pause and reflect long enough to make sure you don’t see a better way. Question things enough to know if the accepted method is what works best for you, or if maybe some adjustments are needed.

(ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN SALON TODAY)