New Season: New PR & Advertising Possibilities!

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Fall is here!

That means another season to plan your next moves (if you haven’t already) when it comes down to your advertising and PR opportunities. It means another handful of set dates that you can try and coordinate with your business and target audience.

What do I mean?

Well. We know from now until January 1st, the following holidays- and some- are guaranteed:

  • Thanksgiving (US & Canadian)
  • Halloween
  • Remembrance Day
  • Hanukkah
  • Christmas/The Holiday Season
  • The New Year (full of fresh starts for all)

I am not saying that you should leech onto all of the holidays for the sole purpose of promoting your goods/services… we all know that pushy-selling is ‘out’ anyway…   I am saying that you need to be conscious of them and IF POSSIBLE use them to your advantage.

For example: Remembrance Day. Not exactly a day that you want to use as a sales tool (unless you sell poppy’s or are a registered charity) but it is a day that you should recognize. A simple shout-out on social media, a digital poster with your sincere regards that just happens to have your logo in the corner, could make for a nice viral sharing piece.

For PR. Think about what the next couple months are going to bring- what the fall/winter seasons/holidays are guaranteed to have in store. Then see if you can work a press release around it.

What is your company’s forte? How can you utilize content marketing?

For example: You sell tires. Winter is coming and people should have proper tires. Write a press release and send it off to your local stations, papers and news outlets. Tell them why they need tires, tips and tricks to staying safe on the road and how you can help. You won’t always be picked up- it may take up to five attempts before anyone recognizes you BUT start now, what does it hurt?

Brainstorm with your team in advance so that you can create a posting schedule and organize your blasts. Get that whiteboard out and go to town!

 

 

How to Provide Good Customer Service in a Bad Situation

Good Customer Service

You have heard it time and time again- the customer is always right. Although that isn’t always TRUE -We have to pretend it is sometimes. There are exceptions to every rule of course. If your customer is paying you to guide them and give a consultation? Then you can/should be right- because you are the expert.

As a business, we have to be exceptionally careful when it comes to what we say to who, how we handle situations and clientele in general. Why? Social media/word of mouth- that’s why. Not for nothing but a bad review can be shared to thousands of people in less than an hour, tarnishes your reputation and it sticks in search engines! Word of mouth has been morphed into a crazed/shareable and influential monster that unfortunately we need to be aware of.

So how do we provide the best customer service possible? Especially in times when we don’t exactly want to? Well, there are some techniques I’d like to share with you.
1.  Don’t avoid the problem
You cannot shun the customer and expect them to disappear. Some will, some won’t, but that’s not a chance you should take. Just take a deep breath and run at it. What’s the worst that can happen? An angry customer? Too late.

2.  Listen to the customers issue with your full attention- let them finish
Most times the customer just wants a solution. Sometimes they know that nothing can be done to rectify their dismay- they just need a good vent and they just need to feel like someone is listening to them. There are even times when the issue will be completely uncalled for and left field- in these cases, put your sympathetic shoes on. You don’t know what this other human being has gone through today. A family issue, death, lost job… who knows. Is it fair that they are taking it out on you? Nope… not at all, but it is nice of you to take the time out and provide them with the best customer service you can!

3.  Address the issue as soon as possible
Don’t let your inbox and mailbox fill up. (See step one). Take care of the customer ASAP. Even if you are jammed, let them know you will be getting back to them. Just sizzle the heat a bit until you can extinguish the flame. Answer your phone and reply to your emails.

4.  Don’t pass the buck
Don’t blame anyone else and don’t pass the customer through a wringer (they won’t go away). If you want to upset the customer even more? Pretend that you have no idea how your company’s policies work, or who can help with what. THAT will do it. If your employees actually don’t know how policies work or who can help with what? Then you have a bigger issue.

5. Try and stop issues before they start
This is easier said than done sometimes, but by providing great customer service at all times, by delivering on your promises, smiling, training your employees to handle heated situations at floor level and by offering legit products and services? You can reduce the amount of upset customers.

Now don’t fret, there is PR and other ways that you can reverse a negative experience… and let’s be honest: some people just cannot be helped no matter what you do. Don’t take it personally (remember that some people may just be having a bad day) and rest well tonight- because overall the general public is pretty empathetic if it’s one bad review in a sea of good ones.

In the end, just try and take your customer complaints with a grain of salt. Bill Gates said it right-

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” 

The Launch Party & Why I love it.

Launch Party!

Everyone loves a party- right? It brings people together, creates memories and celebrates an occasion… that is exactly why I believe a launch party for your business is so important. Now there are some nay-sayers and that’s ok! Some people may say they are a waste of time or money, that they are pointless or a thing of the past. Well- You can’t please everyone all of the time now can you?

You don’t need a huge budget.

It doesn’t have to be a black tie affair. It can be in your living room! In your workspace! Places that you already have so you aren’t paying fees. Even restaurants will allot side-rooms if they have them available (and if you have the budget to order their food).  Get a cake- you can have your logo printed on icing and placed on it- your supermarket may do it, I know Dairy Queen does. Grab some branded coloured balloons and dollar store streamers, some finger food and a bottle of champagne. VOILA! A party under $150 that is going to set the tone for your new adventure. An enthusiastic and motivated tone.

Now, if you can afford more? By all means. Make the party yours. Rather than email or facebook an invitation? Maybe you will have them printed? You can have a raffle and draw prizes? Maybe instead of celebrating with your friends and family you can invite clients/customers (If you are launching a re-brand I do recommend you invite your larger accounts). You can have a themed party if the shoe fits or have a sit down dinner if you prefer. THE POINT IS- Have something. Be excited. Make it branded- it is meant to reflect your company’s style and don’t forget to have a small speech ready- you want to address your party from a personal standpoint.

SO who should you invite?

At the bare minimum- your close friends and family.  Ideally? You want to invite existing or potential clients as well- but that isn’t always realistic when working with a small business budget. If you want/can you could reach out to the local media and hope for coverage. A simple press release could be picked up especially in a smaller town where a new business/service is beneficial to the community.

Some inexpensive launch party ideas:

  • Bring your laptop & have your website open so that people can browse your site
  • Have printed material for people to bring home & share with their circles (Business Cards, magnets, brochures or branded pens)
  • Informative postcards for takeaway (vistaprint.ca has great prices)
  • Make sure you have background music or some type of entertainment to alleviate any awkward silence
  • Perhaps you took pictures to document your start-up journey? Why not show them in a slideshow
  • Create a hashtag for your event and encourage guests to post on their social media
  • An inexpensive “swag” takeaway for your guests! Something as small as a branded stress ball or paperweight… again- check online, you can find deals!
  • GAMES! Networking games, Bingo type games- conversation starters are fun for large crowds who may not know each other.
  • Take pictures & share them with your social media community! Get them excited too.
  • Maybe have a branded photo-op backdrop on a wall for a red carpet experience!

Overall I believe in positive energy. I believe that you get from this world what you put into it and that if you maintain a realistic upbeat energy aura- you will become contagious. I believe that energy is infectious and that when you are excited about something, it shines through, it radiates! So why not throw a party (no one said it has to break the bank) to showcase your excitement, get that positive energy on the tail of your business and ride with it?! Start your adventure with positivity, excitement and be proud of what you are about to embark on. Show the public that you believe in your vision and they will believe in it too.

-Crystal Lengua