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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.

public relations reputation management social media

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.

advertising branding marketing rants and ramblings reputation management social media

Millennial with a mobile phone doesn’t necessarily equate to social media marketer

You’ve worked for years on your brand. You’ve carefully crafted a look and feel for your company. You have that elevator speech down to an actual fucking art, you can make someone want to hand you money if you have 3 minutes alone with them.

Things have changed in the past few years. Now it appears that every business has to be on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram if they want reach consumers. You don’t want to spend time every day trying to monitor online activities and posting narcissistic images, but you have several staff members or family members or family members of staff members that seem to love to use social media. These odd acquaintances have 1000s of followers and can talk all day long about social media and absolutely love to post pictures of their hair and the food they just ate. It seems natural to hand social media activities over to these little online zombies and let them use these ‘skills’ to build your brand and keep you in front of the public eye.

I see this happen almost daily. Brands handed over to people without backgrounds and education and experience in branding. Suddenly the online brands look very different than the brand that has been carefully crafted. The look and feel of your company that exists online would have made you cringe a few years ago. Logos are suddenly pink because it was more visible on the image that was stolen via a Google image search. Likes are counted as important when they have nothing to do with influence – quite often, the type of people that like the new online presence are not the least bit like your actual demographic, they just find the headline funny and notice that one of their ‘friends’ liked the post.

If your online branding is in the hands of someone that doesn’t handle branding for a living, take a look at it. Scour through every post with a new eye. Is this really how you want to be seen? Do the posts fit the carefully crafted messages you are putting forth elsewhere? You’ve been warned, your brand is crumbling in front of your eyes.

rants and ramblings reputation management social media

How to take the perfect Selfie!

Just stop.

If you found your way to this article…just stop.

Don’t worry about a perfect selfie. Don’t worry about an imperfect selfie. Let it go.

Enjoy your surroundings and your experiences and don’t worry about how many other people decide to ‘like’ them for you.

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.

rants and ramblings social media

Every Client is the Most Important Client You’ll Ever Have

We’re all human, so there are certainly clients and projects that we get more excited about than others. Times that we wake up motivated and want to redouble our efforts to be the best we can be. There are also times that we would rather give a bath to a wildcat than deal with the client walking through the door.

Regardless of how excited or demotivated you are, you have to approach each client like they’re the most important client you’ll ever have, because they are.  In a world of instant communication (Yelp, Google reviews, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), we have to consider just how quickly someone can tell the world how wonderful their experience was. A few years ago, you had to provide service to a news anchor to suddenly have 1000s of people see how talented you are…now, almost every customer can share satisfaction (or lack of) with the world.

Clearly, social media reputation management is not the only reason to treat clients like they’re the wonderful creatures they are, but it’s a strong enough motivator to keep it top-of-mind. Personal pride in your craft and a goal to move the industry forward are your driving force — just think of social media activity as those little bumps on the side of the road that alert you as you drift off the sides of the street. They aren’t the motivation to not die in a fiery crash, they’re the reminders to keep your ass in the road.

[originally published for Salon Today]

marketing public relations reputation management social media

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.

marketing public relations social media

Don’t play the whisper game with your content

Content is king, even in today’s world. This doesn’t imply that well-written prose is the key to the consumer’s heart, but content that matches the need for the target you’re trying to reach is. Content also has to be broken into so many pieces now that it’s easy to completely lose the original intent. It’s like the game we played as kids, you’d whisper a sentence to your neighbor and they would whisper it to their neighbor — as the message carried down the chain it would lose meaning and become something else entirely. Now, the whisper chain goes a little something like this.

  • A decent article is written (maybe even a great one, but I know I don’t write great ones, so I’ll use me as an example).
  • Article title is fiddled with so that the title is search engine friendly for blogs.
  • Article is fiddled with so that the keywords needed for searches show up in all the correct places, and even a few words added .just in case someone is searching for them. That’s why the words cabbage and hippopotamus are showing up in this sentence.
  • Article is adjusted to be just the correct length for an electronic newsletter.
  • Article title is altered again, because the entire story now needs to be told in one twitter post.
  • Article is replaced with a single image that says all we needed to say anyway, because Instagram is hot right now, and being hot matters.

This may sound ludicrous to you, but it’s not. It happens all day, every day. It’s the world we live in. Just remember, you aren’t going to reach anyone unless you tell your story properly. Respect the content. Respect your target consumer and speak to them in the way that they prefer to be spoken to, they deserve it, and they’ll appreciate it.

marketing social media wtf

5 reasons to update that MySpace Page!

What? Did I just show myself as outdated by referencing MySpace in a current article? Well, it’s still out there, along with dozens of other social media outlets and online tools you’ve used in the past.

Do a quick online search for your own name or company name. Don’t just look at the first page, scroll through a few pages of results. There’s a good chance you’re going to find several links to pages that are outdated.

Not updating your online presence can hurt you or your company. These are common sense, but nobody takes time to think about them. Here are five ways that outdated data is hurting you:

  1. The you of today isn’t the you of yesteryear. There’s a good chance that somewhere out there you’ll find a reference that your favorite hobby is dancing the Macarena, there may even be pictures of you doing it.
  2. Your skills and professional experience have changed. Social media profiles that are five years old likely list you working where you’re not with goals you achieved long ago.
  3. You don’t look the same. That mullet was really awesome back in the day wasn’t it? But is that how you want people to think you look now?
  4. Your contact data has changed. What if someone does want to reach you? Odds are, that email address or phone number has changed.
  5. You’ve grown up a bit. No matter what you’re age, you likely look back a few years at the things you’ve said and done and cringe at some of it. There may be a few things out there you want to delete and bury.

The internet doesn’t forget, and you shouldn’t either. Take the time to log into each of these tools and update your content (or deactivate the account). Make sure your online presence reflects who you are.

Taking the time to do this is time well spent. Sure, a few password resets will be needed, but it’s worth the effort. If people are searching for you, you want to know what they find.

As a bonus, you get a wonderful stroll down memory lane.

social media wtf

“Useless as tits on a boar hog”

I’ve heard the statement, “Useless as tits on a boar hog,” several times in my life, but I’d never taken the time to ponder what it meant…although it’s sort of common sense when you ponder it. I do believe it’s was a prophetic statement describing the value of and ‘endorsement’ on LinkedIn.