It Took This Long...

This is a message of hope to those of you who have not updated your business website or the Update Image internal pages because you "don't have the time".  This week we updated our agency website to show the radio broadcast of Insight on Business the News Hour in the header bar. Three years after we started broadcasting from the Des Moines Radio Group.

Three years...

It's not that we didn't WANT to make the change. It's just that it was a secondary issue...but, in reality it's not. You see when you fail to adjust your home page or internal pages to add new content getting "found" by the search engines is more difficult.  Some tips from "The Procrastinator":

  • Your Blog - If you do a business blog (you do...right?) make sure you tie it to the home page of our website. Why? Because when you are posting you are automatically adding fresh content to your home page. Ask your Web Developer to make it happen;
  • Change Wording - At least twice a month alter the wording on your home page and your "About Us" page. You can keep the same general theme and intent but changing the words around offers fresh content;
  • Stuck? - Sometimes we get so busy or we get stuck on WHAT to write about. Take a few minutes and reflect on what changes have happened to your business. What are you doing that is new, that might be of interest to your customers...then make an adjustment to your wording;
  • Non-Static - The most important thing to remember is that your website should not be a "static brochure". You have the power to adjust images, wording and more. If you don't KNOW how to do that just schedule the changes with your Web Developer. Static is bad...change is...good.

Hope that is helpful. Even we need to be reminded from time to time.  

Thanks for reading!

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Expect to Be Disappointed

I have a good friend who once said to me, "I wonder when it became normal, in business, to Man Boredignore doing business. Every interaction I go into I start by expecting to be disappointed."

Wow...kind of a negative thought or is she on to something?

When we look at the statistics regarding the engagement of employees and see that, according to a Gallup Poll only 31% of employees are "engaged in their work". That stunning 69% of disengaged workers costs American business about $11 billion a year.

Is it a wonder that business fails to respond to voice mail? Is it a wonder that employees fail to respond to emails?  Not long ago I asked a client of our why his firm had trade-marked the phrase, "We get things done!". He told me because the response from others in his profession is so lousy that time after time clients would tell him, "We're amazed that your firm actually gets things done on time."

Tragic huh?

Let's start to change that. Here are four tips to better engagement:

  • Lead Responsively - When the leader is responsive to the appeals, efforts and requests of his/her employees those employees feel as if they matter. Being responsive is always better than ignoring...anything;
  • Conduct Stay Interviews - Learn why people have made the decision to stay with the company rather than leave. When employees understand that you want to assist in their career they are more likely to be engaged;
  • Model Behavior 24/7 - Being a leader means you are "on" 24/7. Once you get home you can kick the cat but in public you are constantly being evaluated and so too is your business brand;
  • Eradicate Unfairness - Nothing demotivates more than when getting ahead is more about who you know that what you know. Employees have a keen sense of unfairness and so should you.

Four quick tips that may help your business escape being...disappointing.

If you've got others...please share!

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Too Old for Social Media?

It happens all the time. Most recently I was at The Island Coffee Haus on Anna Maria Island (If Vacation 2016 crop useyou have not been, you must go!). I was working on The Business News Hour and using their Wi-Fi. I thought I'd shout out on Twitter and asked the owner what their handle was. She told me they didn't have one, yet, but they had Facebook and just started using Instagram. "We really need to get on Twitter but I don't know how."

I said, "Hey, no problem. If you want I can set it up for you and then link it to your Instagram account."  She said, "You know about social media?? I'm impressed that you keep up on that stuff."

It's the gray hair...

I mentioned that social media is just one of the tools we use for ourselves and our business, "It's what we do." I don't think she believed me...  

Hey, I offered.

Age bias and social media?  Sure. Because the platforms are new folks think the only people who can master the media are young people under 23.  Not so.  How about some updated social media tips?

  • Don't Marry Them - I'm talking about Facebook and Twitter because they are two very different platforms and methods. Tweets are here and gone in a matter of minutes while Facebook Posts linger and the audience isn't the same nor is how you communicate.
  • Blog Often - Beyond the engagement of Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram there is the blog. This is an amazing tool to offer people the back-story of your business. Remember blog 3 times a week each week and keep it under 400 words.  Great for SEO by the way.
  • Hashtag Use - If you want to boost engagement check the #Hashtag for your particular industry and use it as well. #Coffee #BusinessLaw #Radio #IaWx (or whatever state) for weather. Find your industry and take part in the conversation. On our Business Broadcast Instagram account we use #CelebrateWorkers and post random shots of people doing their jobs...fun.
  • Communicate - Ask questions, post surveys, ask for input. Remember social media isn't a one-way conversation or your private media outlet for sales.  They call is "social" for a reason.
  • Plan Your Effort - Have a plan for what you are going to share and talk about.
  • Video - Just use it!

Have more? Share!

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Branding By Phone

Between the advertising agency and the daily business news broadcast we answer lots of calls Man Cell Phone
from clients and potential on air guests.  Because we change our outgoing voice mail daily people know that we're paying attention to the messages we receive. (You are doing that...yes?)  
All good...right?

Well, sort of. You see, so many people "think" that everybody has a cell phone for business that they (the caller) feels like they don't have to leave a return phone number with the message. Uhm...no. Some of us still have land-lines and if you want us to call you back...you get the idea.

So, why bring this up?  Because if it's not corporate branding it is personal branding. Take the time and help brand yourself...better.

One more thing.  When giving your phone number in the message slow down a little. You may know your number but we don't. And when you rattle off 13 numbers in less than two seconds we just might miss a digit or two...and we'd hate to have you think we're ignoring you.

Hey, it's the little things...right? 

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Bad Public Relations is Bad Branding

If the numbers are any indication shopping malls in the United States are becoming extinct. Overwhelmed According to Green Street Advisers, a real estate and REIT analytic firm 15% of US malls will fail and be converted into non-retail space in the next ten years. In 15 - 20 years retail consultants say that as many as half of the current malls in this country will fail...unless your anchor is a very upscale store.

With that kind of future one would think malls would be trying to find a way to offer a kind and welcoming face to the public. One would think.

Last year Merle Hay Mall became the first to demand that the Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART) move their bus stop off their property. DART says they tried to negotiate something with mall owners but, in the end failed. (They tell me they are still open for negotiation.)

Valley West LogoThen last week management at Valley West Mall in West Des Moines sent a letter to DART telling them they would have to move their bus stop off mall property. In a Des Moines Register piece this past weekend mall management, I suspect Paul Stender, says the current bus stop has "overwhelmed the retail center with buses and riders". DART has told me they continue to reach out to Valley West Mall to compromise.

Internal statistics from DART suggest that 75% of the riders to Valley West Mall are employees or shoppers and 25% are seeking to transfer to a different bus.

But, the mall is "overwhelmed".

Here, in all its glory is exactly the wrong way to brand...anything.  Get into a very public pissing match with an agency that serves, often, handicapped individuals, poor folks who can't afford a car and employees who are stuck at a retail minimum wage jobs.

Nice going...and now, on Facebook, there is an ever growing number of people who are offering to ease the crowding at Valley West Mall through a boycott.

Let's return to the first paragraph. Malls are in enough trouble and, for the life of me, I can't understand why they would wish to hurry their demise. One of my favorite stores is Von Maur. How favorite? When I pull out my Petersen Harned & Von Maur credit card I got back in 1982 employees tend to oooh and ahhh and say, "My, you have been with us for a very long time". I suspect, if I want to continue shopping there, it may have to be on-line. On-line shopping....the other reason malls are floundering.

Thanks for reading.

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Branding: Professional Not Stuffy

I'm astonished at how informal and non-professional we've become. This trend, I believe, has a Man Snob negative impact on the business brand.

The way in which we answer phone calls, leave voice mails, return (or choose not to return) phone calls, set up our out going voice mail message, emails...it is, for the most part...awful. And, being awful and non-professional has a direct impact on your brand. Best news, it's easy to fix.  Here are a couple of tips:

  • Phone Branding - What and how you speak has a direct bearing on your business brand. That's not to say you have to be formal but you do need to be professional. Smiling when talking actually works. And if the phone call is not so friendly making sure each party is aware there is actual listening going on is important. Oh and voice mail? Return those calls, change your outgoing voice mail message (daily we recommend) and don't tell me my call is "very important" because it's highly likely...you won't call back. It's all branding;
  • Email Branding - I have several clients who always, always address each email with a proper greeting. "Hello Michael", "Good Morning Michael" or sometimes just "Michael". And, know what, that extra two seconds says so much about their professional attitude and abilities. We always answer those emails using the same language; 
  • Names & Branding - If you have a customer or client that has a name that CAN be shortened but you know it is not...poor form to then call Susan "Sue" or Patrick "Pat" or James "Jim" or (yes it happens) Michael "Mike". It tells the other person you are not paying attention or, worse, you think you are becoming "buddies". No, you are not;
  • Dress for Success - I'm astounded at how some business people dress. It doesn't matter if you are running for congress or making a marketing meeting show up as if you're going on a job interview. In public I can always spot the successful business person and the successful brand often by just looking at their...shoes.

None of those examples will cost you more money. They will, however, polish your brand image and, in the end, that matters to your customer, employee and client.

Perhaps you've got other examples...fire away!

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Dude?

The advertising and marketing world can be creative, fun and different. It's also a business. We The_Dude do our craft on behalf our our clients so they might connect with consumers and sell more of their product/service. It's what we do.

But, at the end of the day, it's still a business.

Maybe because I'm old (today is my birthday) or maybe because I'm not hip...but when working with another professional in the advertising business getting an email back that starts with "Dude" from a guy I don't really know...well, it just rubbed me the wrong way and got me to thinking about...business and branding.

This may be a throwback to another era but I think business still should be conducted with a modicum of respect. But, more than that, this "one off" comment had me wondering about the brand this person is working for. Is that the way they communicate with all their clients?  Is that the way they come off in public? "Hey dude, like, waz goin' on?"

Branding isn't your logo but it is the way you answer the phone. Branding isn't a $50,000 media buy but it is the way you conduct yourself. Branding isn't a major roll out but it is the way you answer an email.  Remember, you don't make the brand...the brand is made for you by the consumer...every day.

I ain't blown' smoke...Dude.

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Why Don't They Call?

Two weeks ago I attended a BNI meeting in Urbandale. They tell me it's the largest Business Telephone DustyNetwork International group in the Des Moines Metro. The breakfast meeting was well attended and I knew a great many of the thirty plus people there...I've been around awhile.

When it came my turn to address the group I offered them each a gift. I gave each person the business card for Insight on Business the News Hour and said, "I do the only daily, hour-long business broadcast in the Midwest and I would love for you to call me and let's get you on the air to chat a bit about your business. There is no charge."  

But, I knew they wouldn't call. I've been doing this business broadcast for years. I knew.

Perhaps having the 11,500+ people who listen to the three stations isn't impressive. Perhaps having us hand each guest their own copy of the recorded broadcast, in podcast form, along with the studio photos so they can share their story beyond the broadcast isn't impressive. Perhaps they figure it's "too good to be true" and it's my way of squeezing out a client relationship. Perhaps they just want to do business with each other.

Or they miss the value or they think we to "toxic talk radio" with "gotcha" questions.

I dunno.  Maybe you do.  Maybe you can help me understand why the phone sits there and collects...dust.  I'm really interested. 

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Grow Your Business Through Engagement - 3 Tips

Never in the history of business has there been so many ways to engage consumers and grow Customer Engagement Puzzleyour business. At the same time you can use many tools to satisfy and retain your current customers. It may very well be "The Golden Age of Business".

But, it all takes work.

How about some first steps?

Know Your Current Customer Base - You would be surprised at the number of business people who don't know why people choose to do business with them. The best way to find out is to ask them. Ask what it is about your business that has driven these customers to you and make a list;

Rinse and Repeat - Once you've got a list of why customers have come to your business the goal is to keep them coming back. Look at your list. If they are impressed by what you've done...do more of it; 

Where is Your Customer? - This is a critical step in the process. Where does your customer hang out? What are they reading? What interests do they have? Once you know where they prefer to get their information, be it traditional or new media, start to spend more time in that space. This does two things: 1) Re-enforces their loyalty because they see more of you and; 2) If they are here so too are others that you want to reach, engage and turn into customers.

Three simple steps to get yourself aligned with your current customer so you can build your business through retention and recruitment.  

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So What Do you DO?

It's a question I get...all the time. Somebody asks, "So, what do you do?" and my reply is Woman Beach
that 
I have an advertising and marketing agency. The questioner then nods politely as if he/she understands. But, I've been in this long enough to know that unless your business is advertising and marketing the vast majority of people have absolutely no idea what we do in this space.  Heck, even my Mother often said, "My children? One is a doctor the other...I have no idea what he does something about advertising...I think."

And that...from my Mother.

So what do we do around here?  Two words:

Awareness & Desire

We create awareness of our client's products and services and we do that with many different techniques. It could be with traditional media such as television commercials, radio commercials, print advertising, billboards...you know the stuff you see every day. Or it could be creating awareness using new media or digital media like email, texting, Facebook, Twitter, blogging. You get the idea.  And, because not every product or service matches the media we need to discover who our target is and where they are hanging out.

Creating desire is all together different. Creating desire includes a call to action, visual images that put the consumer in a touch with our clients product/service.  Allowing them to see or imagine themselves using or at least trying the product or service we are delivering. We emote, we share, we drive a message that creates desire to learn more.

For example this morning I spent four hours looking at images of food as we prepare to create a website for a client. No, really...four hours looking and writing words that match the images that will create awareness and desire.

That's what it is we, and hundreds of advertising agencies do...every day. We like to think of it as a craft. The craft of creation.  

Maybe that's why, even my Mother, had no idea what I do...

Thanks for reading!

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