Home » Public Relations

Category: Public Relations

Spotlight on Marketing & Advertising Class Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Here is your chance to learn the equivalent of a degree in advertising in just one night. As one MBA professor told me after sampling the material, “No one is teaching this stuff even at our level, and it needs to be learned!”

If you are a small business owner, you should take this class.
If you are an entrepreneur, you should take this class.
If you are a student studying business at any level, you should take this class.

SPOTLIGHT ON MARKETING & ADVERTISING 

Next Class: Tuesday, June 20, 2017 – 6pm to 10pm

Tuition: $250 (Half-price for any businesses that are JRSA™ Alumni)

Famed retailer John Wanamaker said it best, “Half of the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The problem is, I don’t know which half.” Hundreds of billions of dollars are spent on advertising every year. Most of it poorly.

This Spotlight covers everything from how different types of advertising work to the best ways to use social media to marketing on a shoestring budget to learning the secrets to getting the press to talk about you. You will learn best practices for marketing your business whether your ad budget is $500 or $50,000. You will learn how to create memorable messages that move customers toward your business and you toward your goals. You will learn how to get far more out of your advertising dollars than any of your competitors.

When you take this class you will get…

  • Better, Smarter, More Effective Advertising – You’ll learn secrets that only a handful of businesses know that get greater results per dollar than any of your competitors.
  • One full year of Advertising Support including help finding your message, creating a campaign and buying ad packages
  • A Network of current and previous JRSA™ graduates for support and encouragement
  • Half-Price Tuition for any future JRSA™ programs

Click here to sign up for the class.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Yes, this will include the material from my new book MOST ADS SUCK. That will only make up about 25% of the material covered. If you have a business to market, this will be the best money you’ve spent on “advertising” ever.

“Are You Happy?”

“Are you happy now?” she asked.

“Yes, most definitely,” I replied.

“Are we good?”

“Absolutely!”

Image result for delta airlines logoIn the wake of all the stories about passengers being hassled by the airlines including the latest about a family getting booted from a JetBlue flight over a birthday cake, I wanted to share with you an incident that happened last week on my Delta flight home from Las Vegas.

As the drink cart worked its way down the aisle I removed my headphones, lowered my tray, and waited my turn. For reasons unknown, the flight attendant offered drinks to the A, B, C seats but skipped over us in D, E, and F. No problem. I’ll just hit the call button.

“What can I do for you?” asked the flight attendant.

“You missed our row for drinks,” I said.

“Oh, I’m very sorry. That wasn’t on purpose. What would you like to drink?”

“Diet Coke, please.”

As she handed down my Diet Coke and a Ginger Ale for the gentleman on my right, she asked, “Are we okay?”

“Yes we are.”

“Would you be happier with a bottle of rum for that Diet Coke?”

“Yes I would.”

The flight attendant returned a moment later with a bottle of rum and started the conversation at the beginning of this post. Apparently not satisfied with my answer, she stopped by three more times before we landed to check on my “happy” status. A fist bump finally convinced her I wasn’t going to slam her online.

This flight attendant knew she made a mistake. It was a tiny one in the grand scheme of things, a definite first-world problem of the utmost degree. But that wasn’t going to stop her from going over-the-top to make sure she made it right.

Here is the lesson … Over-the-Top

I would have been perfectly happy with a quick apology and a Diet Coke. That was my expectation. She went far above and beyond my expectations to my surprise and delight. An apology and a Diet Coke would not have garnered a blog post and the extra word-of-mouth. An unexpected bottle of rum and three more courtesy checks on my happiness have me telling you about the wonderful attitude of the flight attendants on Delta.

When you make a mistake, do what you have to do to fix it. Then do a little more. It pays off far more than it costs you.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Word-of-Mouth may be considered a form of Advertising, but in reality it is mostly a by-product of your Customer Service. Get that right and the only viral videos of your company will be positive ones. Two presentationsGet Your Customers to Talk About You and Raising the Bar to Go Viral – will change the way customers experience your business and what they say about you afterword. When you’re ready to start generating positive word-of-mouth, give me a call.

Flying the Friendly(?) Skies

By now you’ve seen the video of Chicago Aviation Police physically yanking an unwilling passenger off a United Airlines flight, knocking him unconscious, and dragging him down the aisle like they were taking out the trash. Likely you have also read United’s lame apologies. If we want to become experts. we need to see what we can learn from this incident.

 

I prefer to look at customer service from the customer’s point of view.

Great Customer Service = Meeting the Customer’s Expectations.

What are the expectations of a passenger sitting on an airplane? He bought a ticket. He is seated on the plane. At this point the only way he is getting off the plane is if one of three things happen.

First, everyone is asked to deplane. Maybe there is a mechanical failure. Maybe there is a weather delay and since they are still at the gate, the decision is made to get the passengers off for comfort and safety. He won’t be happy about it, but he knows this is a possibility.

Second, volunteers choose to deplane. The incentive offered by the airline is great enough for the volunteers to consciously offer up their seats for the rewards offered. This process had already started, but the incentives were not great enough for this passenger to give up his seat.

Third, someone is a danger to themselves or others.

That’s it. That’s the complete list from the customer’s point of view. Never in his wildest dreams did this gentleman think there was a fourth option of being forced off the plane. Physically manhandled and forced off the plane. Dragged down the aisle. Requiring a visit to the hospital. Maybe that was buried in some fine print somewhere. Maybe United had the right to do what they did. Regardless of their rights, United offered the worst possible customer service to this gentleman, and everyone on the airplane saw it (and many recorded it).

If United Airlines was a customer-centric airline that believed in meeting and exceeding their customers’ expectations, there wouldn’t ever be an option #4. In the scenario above they would be stuck at option #2 offering incentives after incentives, upping the ante as often as necessary until they got the volunteers they needed.

A free flight doesn’t work? Offer a free flight and a hotel. A free flight and a hotel doesn’t work? Throw in a rental car. Keep going until you find the sweet spot that gets you a volunteer happy to leave the airplane. And then, to exceed expectations, give that same offer to the other people who volunteered to get off the plane for less. 

If United Airlines had done that, there would be four people tweeting and singing their praises. There would be four people telling us how awesome United Airlines is and how they will always fly the friendly skies. There would be four people that might end up costing United Airlines an extra $5000 total. That’s a mere pittance to what this debacle is going to cost them.

I figure the aftermath of this event will likely cost the airline millions of dollars, and no one will be tweeting anything friendly. They are going to lose customers. They are going to have legal bills. They are going to have to spend millions in PR and advertising. They are going to have to do something grand just to take care of the passenger they manhandled.

Here is the lesson… They could have bought word-of-mouth advertising by upping the ante on the incentives needed to get people to volunteer to leave the plane. It would have been the best $5000 advertising money they spent all year. Instead they chose to put their company’s needs over their customers’ needs and it will cost them millions of dollars.

You have that same choice every single day. you can figure out what your customer expects, then meet and exceed those expectations and have your customer sing your praises, or you can put yourself above your customer and pay through the nose.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS United Airlines still has one chance to make this right. It will be way more costly than upping the incentives, but they need to make some grand public gesture such as giving this passenger free domestic flights for life, while also admitting that their policy was completely wrong and will be changed. Anything short of that will likely continue to cost them far more in the short and long run.

Why You Should Teach What You Know

Here’s a myth worth busting… “Thanks to the Internet, the customers know more about the products than the sales people.” If you believe that, you’ve given up. Might as well close up now and avoid further losses.

First, not all customers do the research. There is a big group of people who don’t want all that knowledge. They are looking for someone who already has that knowledge that they can trust.

Second, there is a big difference between knowledge and wisdom. As the quote we’ve all seen says, “Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. wisdom is knowing not to include it in a fruit salad.” You have wisdom. You know what your product does and why that is important.

You need to teach.

Phil Wrzesinski Teaching Shopping for Baby 101 Class

I know your first objection. If I teach it, they’ll just take what they learn and go buy it somewhere else cheaper. Guess what? That person was going to go buy it somewhere else cheaper anyway. Period. Without the class, you would never have seen them in the store in the first place and had the chance to turn them into a customer. I would rather they got the knowledge from me so that they got the right product. Even if they didn’t buy it from me, they will know I steered them right. That may be just enough to get their business next time.

I know your other objection. It takes too much time and energy (and money) to put together a presentation, draw a crowd, and share your proprietary information with others. Oh, but that time and energy is well worth it when you look at the benefits.

When you teach a class on your products, you attract customers to your store who are actively in the market for the products you sell. No one else is coming to your class. Think of it as the most direct of direct marketing. The class brings you exactly the customers already in the market for what you are selling.

When you teach a class you send a message out to everyone that you are the expert on the subject. For some people, just finding an expert is good enough for them. They trust you because you are willing to put your name and reputation on the line with this class. The press is also paying attention and looking for the expert they can interview when the time arises.

When you teach a class you get to control the wisdom and make it relevant and important. You make sure the audience understands why one product might be desirable over another. You get to answer the questions they often forget to ask. You get to answer the questions they didn’t know to ask, which only helps to cement the thought of you as the expert in their minds.

When you teach a class you gain followers and fans. People will look up to you as the leader in this category.

When you teach a class you create excitement in your store. Your parking lot will be more full. Your store will be more full. Your walk-in customers will wonder at the all the buzz.

When you teach a class in your store you will get asked to teach that class to groups outside of your store. That’s the icing on this cake. That’s the outreach that helps you find new markets of customers.

Not the teacher type? The next post will show you HOW to teach that class. It isn’t as hard as you think.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS It doesn’t have to be that expensive, either. You don’t need a big space. Move a few fixtures and do it in your store. You don’t need a lot of advertising. Social media, email, your website, some in-store signage, and a few online community calendars will draw a crowd. Make it worth their while and they’ll help you draw the next crowd.

PPS Schedule your best staff to work the floor while you teach and make it mandatory that any staff not working the floor during the class is attending the class. You can kill two birds with one stone by teaching your customers and your staff at the same time. Win-win!!

How Often Should You Send Your Email Newsletter?

Google the question, “How often should you send your email newsletter?” and you’ll get a plethora of answers. According to my inbox, Lands End seems to think the answer is several times a day. For others it is daily. One report that actually surveyed US adults is suggesting weekly or monthly. In that survey the number one reason people who opted into your mailing list still mark you as spam is because you emailed too frequently.

On the other hand, send out your email too infrequently and they’ll forget about you.

The true answer to How Often is, “Whenever you have something new and interesting to say.”

Every week you should have something new to say…

A new product…
A new story…
A new display…
A new event…

Just make sure you say something new… and interesting.

Don’t tell me about your new product. Tell me why you bought it and why you think I need it and how it will benefit me. Don’t tell me about your new event. Tell me why you are doing the event, why I should come, and how it will benefit me.

Rick Seigel, a retail consultant, used to include a joke at the bottom of each email. He knew the joke made people more likely to open the email and scroll all the way to the bottom, whether they read the rest of the email or not. It was new, fun, and interesting.

You have to say something new and say something interesting. Do those two things and you’ll never be accused of sending out too many emails. (Well, okay, there is always one in every crowd. Ignore him.)

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS What is black and white and red all over? An ugly blog template. (More bad blog jokes here.)

PPS Add your media contacts to your email list. Keep them in the loop of what is new with you. You never know when they need a new story that dovetails nicely with what you’re doing.

PPPS Yes, make sure you always share your newsletter on your social media platforms. I regularly got more comments and interaction on Facebook than I did from the actual email.

Friends With Benefits

Align yourself with charity. Pick one or two local organizations (or more if you’re up to it) that you feel strongly about. Do something special for them. Help them out. Be their friend and ally.

You’ll both benefit from the friendship.

Santa Paws 2015 #1

This is a picture of the Cascades Humane Society doing their annual Santa Paws event – pictures of your pet with Santa Claus. They called me a few weeks ago looking for a space to take the pictures. I have a stage. I love dogs – especially rescued dogs. I said yes.

They coordinate getting Santa here. They hire the photographer. They set up the backdrop. They sign up and schedule the photo shoots. They work the tables. They get the profits.

We get the traffic. We get the goodwill. We get the customers telling us how nice it is that we are doing this for them. We get the social media exposure. We get exposed to everyone on their mailing list. We get our name mentioned in their press releases (and non-profit press releases get picked up far more often than for-profit press releases).

Our friendship with them brings benefits to both of us.

When you partner with a charity, you expand your reach. You get exposure to a crowd of generous people who love to give to charitable causes (can you think of a better demographic for the independent retailer?). You get touchy feely goodwill because you are helping out. You don’t just look like a greedy merchant. You strengthen your community (the better the non-profits do, the better everyone does).

Make friends with a charity or two. You’ll reap the benefits.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Your charity doesn’t have to be aligned with what you sell. We don’t sell pet toys or pet food. Pick charities based on a few different factors such as…

  • Do they have an active base of followers?
  • Do they want to “partner” with you (or simply have you do all the work)?
  • Do they align with your own personal core values?
  • Are they well-respected in the community?

Those are all good reasons for making friends.

Lose the Battle to Win the War

We all have those unreasonable customers. Ones that want to bring an item back months after they bought it, not in resell-able condition. Ones that demand money back without a receipt or they will flame you on Yelp. Ones that want you to do something that your stated policies say you don’t clearly do.

You could take a page from Best Buy and fire those customers. You could be like the Soup Nazi on The Seinfeld Show – no soup for you!!

Here is another approach I want you to consider.

Kill ’em with kindness. Break your policy and do what they ask. Bend the rules and give them what they want. Do it with a HUGE smile on your face, sincerity in your heart, and genuine concern for their needs.

“I’m really sorry that item didn’t work out for you. Yes, I can see why your husband would cut it in half. We’d be happy to take it back. Would you like to pick something else out? Maybe I can offer a couple suggestions of items that might work better? No? Okay, here is a refund. Let me know if there is anything we can do to help you out in the future.”

It might sting a little bit. You might lose some money on that particular transaction. But don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish.

When you kill these customers with kindness, a few things could happen.

They might not notice and continue to be a thorn in your side.
But your other customers noticed. They didn’t get the whole story of what was going on with the customer. They didn’t see how unreasonable she was. But they did see how you reacted. They saw how you took incredible care of the customer. They saw how you had the customer’s back. They noticed how you were calm and friendly and respectful and helpful and caring.

They might become one of your best customers ever. 
I could regale you with many tales of unhappy customers we have turned into mega profit machines because we bent the rules a little. Heck, you can regale me with many of the same stories. In fact, retail is the only place I have actually seen true alchemy – turning lead weight into gold.

At a time when we are all screaming about how to draw more traffic, maybe firing our current customers isn’t always the best tactic.

As one anonymously brilliant person said… Your customers will get better when you do.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Never let short-term profits get in the way of your long-term goals. This strategy may “lose” you a battle or two, but you’ll win the war. Yes, it requires patience. Yes, it requires eating a little crow (but crow sprinkled with a helping of cold hard cash can be rather tasty sometimes). Yes, there will be customers who make you duck into your office for a few minutes. Yes, they got more than they deserved. Isn’t than the hallmark of incredible over-the-top customer service?

Can You Call in Favors?

Could you call a media person right now and cash in a favor?

Maybe ask a reporter or photographer to cover an event you’re hosting?

Maybe get a little live air-time with the local morning-drive DJ?

Maybe get a quote in the paper?

Maybe get an article on the op-ed page?

Maybe get some air-time on the morning news show?

Maybe guest-host a local TV show?


No???

You have to give to receive. Start giving now. You never know when you might want to ask for that favor.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS What to give? Your time. Your expertise. Your praise. Your support. Your money. Your information. Spend a little time getting to know your local reporters, your local DJ’s, and your local news anchors. Praise them for the work they do. Offer them information that makes them look good/smart (and doesn’t promote you). Build trust by being reliable. Give them scoops. Do it without expectation of anything in return. You’ll cash in later.

Go BIG or Go Home – A Lesson in PR

Your store just isn’t that important. You aren’t creating hundreds/thousands of jobs at one time. You aren’t attracting tens of thousands of people into town all at once. You aren’t creating multi-millions of dollars of economic impact. You aren’t raising tens of thousands of dollars for charity.

The news media isn’t going to cover you just because you’re nice and you’re local.

There are really only two ways for indie retailers to get into the media spotlight.

BE THE EXPERT

Set yourself up as the expert in your field by following this plan:

  1. Get the contact info for every reporter out there – print, online, radio and TV. 
  2. Follow their stories – all of them – to find out who is most likely to write about something in your field.
  3. Every time they write anything close to your industry, send them a note of praise for the article.
  4. When possible, send them a link to another source of info (not you, but a third party) for more information about the topics on which they have written.
  5. Continue until they begin to trust you as a reliable source of info.
  6. Wait for them to start asking your opinion.
  7. Give it freely, clearly, in sound bites, and backed up with reliable, checkable facts.

GO BIG OR GO HOME

Set yourself up in the spotlight by following this plan:

  1. Attend events where media coverage is already present. 
  2. Do something within the framework of the event that absolutely HAS to get noticed.
  3. Be larger than life. Take it to the extreme!

I just participated in our Fitness Council’s Smart Commute High Heel Bike Ride. The event includes people biking in heels and a fashion show where they crown the King & Queen. This is what I wore…

Yeah, I was voted King (or queen, I forget). Yeah, we’re getting a lot of coverage for it. Yeah, people are smiling. “We’re here to make you smile!” 

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS When you  get your chance to shine in the spotlight, remember that you have to be over-the-top if you want to generate word of mouth. People may think you’re crazy, but in a cunning way. Make sure, however, that what you do is within the framework of the event or they will just think you’re plain crazy.

For the Win – Best Customer Service Stories!

You’ve heard me talk about Over-the-Top Customer Service. See it in action in this article from Mental Floss.

http://mentalfloss.com/article/30198/11-best-customer-service-stories-ever

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Bring a tissue. A couple are real heart-string tuggers.

PPS If you aren’t willing to bend over backwards like these companies did, don’t go complaining that no one ever brags about your “great” customer service, because it isn’t all that good.