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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Facebook for Business - 5 Tips

So now that you know "Reach Does Not Mean Action" how can you get more action from your Number FiveBusiness Facebook Page?  Glad you asked. Here are five tips we use that might help:

Post Often - If your Business Facebook Page only has one or two posts a week it's not engagement. We recommend at least a daily post and/or if something is going on that is a major event you can post around that event leading up to it and during;

Bring Value - People love to be on the "inside" of any business. Post interesting "inside information" about your business, your people, your mission. Then offer your services and insight so others see value in following and engaging with your Business Facebook Page;

Video & Photos - People like visuals so use them in your post. "A picture is worth a thousand words" and it is true. You can even make your own InfoGraphic with tools like this from Canva;

Build the Conversation - Your Business Facebook Page shouldn't be a "one-way street". Respond to people, engage people with a survey, ask questions and answer questions. Build the conversation and your action will increase;

Pay Attention to Metrics - Your Business Facebook Page has lots of interesting metrics available for you to use. Note when most of your followers are online and clicking through to your posts and then make a note to post during those times as well. And, just because your business might be open from 8am - 5pm doesn't mean that you should forget your followers after business hours. That's when they may be checking things out;

There you go...Five Tips for Facebook that, if you use them, will boost the conversation and your activity.  If you've got some more...hit us up!  Love to hear from you! 

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Use It or Lose It

Back in November the Greater Des Moines Partnership (whom I admire and am an active Look Local First 2015member) rolled out a marketing plan designed to remind holiday shoppers that buying local has an enormous impact on the local economy. Look Local First had all the stuff: Images, a website and even a hashtag #LookLocalFirst to be used to promote the program via social media.

The other day I did a Twitter Search for #LookLocalFirst just to see if anybody had been using the hashtag. You know, spreading the whole idea that "Shop Local" is good for the local economy.  Here is a screen shot of what I found.

Look Local First Twitter Mentions 21 DecLook, I get it.  People get busy, they forget and sometimes it's tough to market a movement...even if that movement helps serve the commercial interests of the area.  So, how about some social media tips for the use of a hashtag promotion?

  • Encouragement - If you've got a built in set of social media followers continue to encourage them to use the hashtag and make sure they understand the relationship they have to share the message;
  • Use It - In this case the last time I could see that the sponsoring organization used #LookLocalFirst was the end of November. A long range campaign needs engagement all the time;
  • Cross Promotion - Use other media to explain the message. A couple of short videos, done by (in this case) small business people gives a human reason to use the hashtag;
  • Key Players - Get some key players in your social media world to use the hashtag. People follow people;
  • Blog About It - One and done doesn't get it. Sure you can have a big rollout but if you move on too quickly it loses steam. Offer a few success stories;
  • Start Early - If it's a campaign meant to cover the fourth quarter or two months of the fourth quarter start the campaign awareness at least a month earlier.

Big companies and organizations often have way too much going on and tend to forget about the campaign they started. That helps nobody. Stay with it and your ROI will improve.

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Want A Brand Warrior? Give a Great Experience!

A "Brand Warrior" is a person who isn't afraid to tell others how fantastic, rewarding and VonMaurwonderful your product/service/store is.  They will use opportunities to "name drop" your brand, they will share photos of your brand, they will use social media to promote your brand and...you don't pay them a dime.

How does that happen?

It's not price. It is not convenience. It's not the paid advertising. It's all about the experience.

I've been a "Brand Warrior" for Von Maur for years. Why? It's all about the experience.

Here's a quick example:

Three weeks ago I purchased a bottle of cologne. The choice was made by a sample I'd been given by the Von Maur staff a few months earlier. It was OK...but for some reason the scent "left" just an hour after application.

Von Maur InteriorSo, I took it back. I was a little concerned that they might say, "Hey, you've used this for three weeks and NOW you want to bring it back?"

Nope...no problem, no pressure just a genuine concern that I got what I wanted. So, I picked out a different scent. However, my Bride didn't like it...so... within a day back to Von Maur.

Once again...no issue.  No "customer service hell" just lots of help and, yet, another great experience.

You want to create a "Brand Warrior" for your business?  Excite. Over Deliver. Empathize.  All while charging a price that is worth the..experience.

Thanks for reading!

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