Feeding the Beast

We tell all our clients how important it is to stay current with your social media efforts. Current and Consistent. That lesson came home last Man Angryweek as we closed the office and went on vacation. We do that from time to time...everybody needs a break. Sure, we did our daily business news broadcast Insight on Business the News Hour from Anna Maria Island and yes we did do some Tweets and kept up (sort of) with our broadcast Facebook Page and we (sort of) fueled my LinkedIn Page and, yes, we posted "some" to Instagram.  

However...when we looked at the numbers upon our return we saw we were lagging. Not as much interaction, re-tweets, Facebook comments and loving gazes toward LinkedIn or Instagram. 

It was a great lesson in Feeding the Beast.

Once you are in that space, no matter what platform you use, you've got to be consistent. And that, my friends, is where so many businesses (product or service) fall off. It takes time. And, if you are on vacation or away to a conference and YOU are responsible for the social media activity of you or your brand...you've got to stay on your game. You've got to find the time.

If not, individuals that have come to expect a particular amount of social interaction go away or disconnect. Remember, our attention span is less than a goldfish. Staying current and being consistent is just another demand of The Beast.

And, The Beasties. (Meet my grand-daughter Jovie...pretty good huh?)

 

Thanks for coming by and your comments are always welcome!

Michael

 


You MUST Automate!

Long ago I stopped going to Walmart for maybe ten years. It wasn't a political thing. It wasn't about low pay, no benefits and a crummy, dirty store. Nope, it was all about the service. It was the worst. Employees that could care less, a return policy that drove me nuts...and away. I was absent a Walmart until last year when my local re-opened after spending about $2 million. So, I tried it. And, I've been back a numbeMcDonalds Kiosk April 2018r of times. It's been a positive experience.

Enter McDonald's and this crazy tale of automation.

I stopped in to pick up an egg and cheese biscuit. I don't eat bacon and sausage is out so...egg and cheese it is. I walk in, with little time to spare as I headed to my next meeting. The person who was to be working the counter was working at something else so I waited, patiently, until she spied me.

"I'm sorry I was doing something else. How may I help you?"

I'd like an egg and cheese biscuit please.

"Let's go over to the kiosk and place your order."

Uhm...no let's just order here.

As she comes out from behind the counter and marches toward the kiosk she said, "Oh, don't worry I'll help you."

I'm not worried. I'd just like an egg and cheese biscuit.

"Well, come over here and let's use the kiosk. I'll show you how. Is this to go or for here?"

It's to go.

"So, how has your morning been?"

It's been fine until I walked in here. I just want to order an egg and cheese biscuit and I'll be out of your way.

"Here is our kiosk.(She said it in almost a reverent tone.) Now, would you like me to help you?"

No. I think I can do this.

So it went. I ordered my egg and cheese biscuit under the watchful eye of the young lady "helping me". I'd call her by name but she was working under cover...no name badge.

Egg and Cheese Biscuit. No, I don't want to customize the order. Yes, I would like a drink. What kind? A Diet Coke. What size? A small. All the time pushing the buttons. Finally I had ordered by Egg and Cheese Biscuit with a small diet coke.

McDonalds Bisciut April 2018We went back to the counter, she gave me my ticket and within 90 seconds I was handed a bag by a smiling young lady who said, "Egg and Cheese Biscuit to go, sir."

Thank you.

I gathered my drink, headed out to the car. Got down the highway, opened the bag and...

Yes, there was a biscuit. Yes, there was egg. Yes, there was bacon... BACON? Did I ORDER WRONG from the blasted kiosk?

Uhm...nope as you can see by the receipt. 

I wonder if, when I take this back...and I will...If I'll be forced to visit with the kiosk or (heaven forbid!) a human?

What should have happened? Yep, she should have just taken the order. Weary.


Hobby Lobby - A Missed Opportunity - The Horses Mouth

There is a new, sort of, social media trend out there. It's where teens are flocking to Hobby Lobby stores across the country for the Hobby Lobby Challenge. What's going on?  Young people descend on the local craft centric store and then use everything from fake flowers to ferns Hobby Lobby Imageto other items as props to create Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat images. They then challenge friends and family to take up the challenge and do the same.  Cool?

Nope, Hobby Lobby staff and workers don't like it. In fact many store employees have used social media to rail against the trend.

They complain that they have to clean up and fix the shelves that some might disturb.

But..what it... What if Hobby Lobby embraced the trend, no matter how short lived. Think of the free publicity!  Hobby Lobby could:

  • Welcome teens to their store and encourage them to use their products as prop for social media posts;
  • The company could then actually re-tweet or share those images to connect with a youthful demographic;
  • Hobby Lobby could, in just a few weeks, ditch the "old school" label and become (sort of) cool...even for a short time.

What a missed opportunity. Any idea what some companies might pay to have their name shared across thousands, if not millions, of images sent to a demographic that may not mean anything today...but how about tomorrow.

It's a gift.

But then there is that horses mouth... 


QR Codes - Hello Again...

It may surprise you to know that the QR Code (you know that funny looking image you may have seen on products and print ads) has been around for a very long time. In fact it was developed in Japan back in 1994 to track automobile production. IOB QR Code

Over the years we’ve used QR Codes (QR is short for “Quick Response”) for a number of our clients. Pet food clients put QR Codes on their pet food bags that points to short videos about the product, lawn and garden clients do the same. We’ve put QR Codes on shelf tags so shoppers can access short informative videos about what they are looking at.

Sadly, the QR Code fell out of use mostly because businesses that used them didn’t tell consumers what would happen when they scanned the code and, perhaps more importantly, you had to download a QR Code Reader for your smart phone. Many consumers didn’t know that or didn’t want to be bothered.

Welcome Back!

The QR Code is back and this time it’s due to the help of Apple. If you have an iPhone and you’ve downloaded the recent IOS update you can now go to your camera, point your phone at the QR Code and the camera will recognize it as such and ask you if you want to open the website in your browser. Android phones still have not made this as part of their update but that could be coming in the near future.

Now that QR Codes can be scanned without having a special app watch for more business and marketing applications. Like go ahead and check our our daily business news radio broadcast page. 

Go ahead, give it a try!


Are You Open for Business?

Those of you who follow us know that we believe in the Business Blog for several reasons: Open Sign

  • Fresh Web Content - Each time you do a business blog you create fresh content for your website and that is important for what is called Search Engine Optimization so people can find you;
  • Owning Your Voice - When you write a business blog you are creating a voice for your business. You can explain in a short and direct manner what you do, how you do it and more. But, remember to break it up and not write "War and Peace";
  • You Are Open for Business - If you blog on a regular basis people know that you are still around and still accepting clients and still in business.

It's that last point I'd like to address. This afternoon we were searching for potential news stories and individuals we might interview for Insight on Business the News Hour. We went back into our files a couple of years to see what stories were out there that we thought might be worth a follow up. We found one on care-giving, Alzheimer Disease and aging. Two weeks ago we had a piece on the Alzheimer Tsunami from Iowa Watch we thought a follow up on an old story might make sense.

So, we went to the website for contact information. (There was none. No phone no email...just a form to be filled out if we wanted to reach out.) Next we looked at blog posts to see what might have been new and, really to check and see if this business was still in business. The most recent blog post was authored well over a year ago.

What!?

We are now led to believe this company is out of business. No contact information and an outdated blog post. We moved on...and wrote this piece.

It's critical that potential customers/clients be able to reach you and your business quickly so make sure you have contact information available. If you do a business blog and it is part of your website make sure you continue to do so. It doesn't have to be every week (if you are well established) but at least once a month let's us know you are still...open for business.

Thanks for reading! 


The Power of Repeating Stuff

Who doesn't like repeat customers? Who doesn't like being told...a couple of times...that you've got a great logo or uniform or...heck a great haircut? Just as much as we enjoy repeat customers and repeated complements so too should we learn that when we repeat Repeat Customer something over and over it has real power.

In marketing and advertising it is what is called "Top of Mind Awareness". Making sure your product or service is at the top of mind when it comes to somebody buying what you are selling. In other words, "One and DONE" doesn't cut it. It takes an effort to make sure you repeat your message over and over.

Here are a couple of examples and, while they are for national brands, we think you'll get the message:

"Winston Tastes Good Like a Cigarette Should" - Winston has been out of television and radio for decades...yet we remember the tag line;

"The Champagne of Bottled Beer" - Miller used this slogan for years, abandoned it and this year brought it back...for good reason;

"A Diamond is Forever" - DeBeers debuted this way back in 1948 and they are still using it because...it works;

"Breakfast of Champions" - Who doesn't know this 1930's Wheaties slogan;

"It's the Real Thing" - CocaCola hit it out of the park with this from 1970;

"Say it With Flowers" - This will surprise you, the slogan dates back to 1917!

You get the idea... True, each one of these slogans had real dollars behind them to push the idea and the brand. Maybe your business doesn't have that sort of advertising budget but you don't need all that cash to accomplish much the same thing.

Think of your value proposition and what you bring to your customers and then put that in words. Not a bunch of words but short and sweet. We know of a law firm that has the tag line, "We get things done!" because the number one complaint among legal clients is that far too often law firms don't get things done and clients have to wait...and wait. The firm went so far as to register the slogan and they use it...everywhere.

Find your value proposition and then repeat it...often and everywhere. The goal is to have your customers hear or see those words and identify you and your unique value.

It very well could bring you…repeat customers.


Do It Yourself!

The other day on our radio broadcast, Insight on Business the News Hour, we talked about DIY for social media and why that works better than hiring somebody to do the work it takes to engage consumers...your consumers. Don't get us wrong, there are lots and lots of very Keep Calm and DIYtalented people out there who will Tweet, Facebook and Blog for you but...they will never be as good as you.

The push back we get is, "I don't have time to write a 300 word post every week" or "I don't have time to Tweet ten or twelve times a day". The fact is...you do. Let me help you break it down.

If you are spending time with an outside contractor telling them your story, telling them about the impact you had on consumers last week telling them what is hot in your business then you've got time to write it down. It's not that you "don't have time" it's that you simply don't believe in the tools of social media and consumer engagement so you don't MAKE TIME.

I can share, from years of experience and collecting fees for doing social media for others, it is often painful. While we can write and communicate we are not as invested or know the details you know about your business. That is unless we have daily or weekly conversations and then we simply parrot back what you've already shared with us.

So, yes, you have the time.

So let's get started with the a simple three step process to get you to engage your customers in your business blog:

  • What is your Competitive Advantage? - Don't write stuff that doesn't matter to your customers...write down why your customers do business with you. Take fifteen minutes and think of the reasons they have built a relationship with you. Forget about "fast" and "free" focus on how you have built value into the business transaction; 
  • No Weeds - Don't get caught up in selling the steak...sell the sizzle. Far too often business wants to list out the details...all the details. You are miles ahead if you keep it simple and direct;
  • Solve Problems First - What is it that your business does to make your customers or clients life easier, less complicated more enjoyable. You, after all, are the expert in what you do. Now go and share those stories with others who have the same business or life issues. 

Three topics and fifteen to thirty minutes a week and you're in business. DIY Social Media is real and important to consumers they would love to hear from you. Once you've got this down then it is on to the tools that make organic social media work better.  That's next.

Thanks for reading...


National Small Business Week - Marketing Tips

All this week, in the United States, there is a celebration of National Small Business Week. Since 1963 the federal government has set aside a week for a Small Business Week Imagecelebration that is critical to our economy. A few Small Business Facts:

  • There are roughly 29 million small businesses in the U.S. which account for 54% of all sales in this country;
  • Small businesses provide 55% of all jobs in the U.S. and 66% of all net new jobs;
  • There are 600,000 franchise operations here that employ over 8 million people;
  • The American small business sector occupies nearly 50% of all commercial space up to 34 billion square feet.

Astounding yes?

Many of you have a business that has under 500 employees so, this week is also your week. What can you do to take part in Small Business Week?  Some thoughts:

  • Share Your Story - Contact the local newspaper, radio or television station. Let them know this is National Small Business Week and share your small business story. Take a moment and share what your small business means to your employees and customers and how money spent with you stays in your local community. Believe us, reporters are looking for stories they can use all week long;
  • Get Social - Grab the National Small Business Logo from this post and share it on your social media channels...and tell your story there as well;
  • Say Thank You - Remember your customers...they are the people that keep your business in business. Post a note on social media, send a note to customers, enclose a note in your shipping items...let people know how important they are to your small business;
  • Email the Message - Send out a coupon or at least a thank you reminding your email list that this is National Small Business Week...many of your customers are also small businesses.

Happy National Small Business Week!


Blue Microphones Customer Service ROCKS!

Our advertising agency is what fuels and powers Insight on Business the News Hour the only daily, hour-long business news broadcast in the Midwest (Outside of our friends at WBBM in Chicago). When on the road and away from the studios of our friends at The Des Moines Radio Group we use a Yeti microphone from Blue Microphones out of Westlake Village, California. It's easy to transport, has great sound quality and works directly with a USB into the computer. We also love it that with a dial we can flip from directional (one voice facing the mic) to Yeti New 17 April 2017 an interview format where BOTH sides of the microphone are live.

It's a beautiful piece of equipment.

We like them so much that we've got three of 'em...no really!

Not long ago one of the mics refused to stay connected to the USB port. The cord...just fell out of the bottom of the mic. Don't know if it was wear or if the part was bad...it just wouldn't work. So...called Blue Microphones and their ALWAYS chipper customer service person walked us through the steps to get it back to the company for repair or replacement.

A brand new Yeti arrived in the mail this week.

No questions, no back to back emails, no calls...just replaced.

I want you to know how much we appreciate the culture of this company and for how well they took care of us. Seriously...if you're looking for a business partner and not just a retailer... go...BLUE.

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Negative Branding with Food?

I want to take a few minutes and share with you a branding story that, I'll bet, nobody thinks about but it does have an impact on your brand.

A couple of weeks ago I was at a business centric event/conference for a breakfast and a speaker. Hey...food right? Now, to be sure the buffet Ham and Cheese Egg Casserole wasn't very large but it looked to have some cheesy egg something as the main offering. You could also get some fried potatoes, pastries...you know the regular stuff.

So, I put some of the egg stuff on a plate and went into the dining room. But there hiding in the eggs and cheese was some, I'll bet, really good ham...an Iowa staple.

Here is where it gets interesting. As a Jew I can't eat the egg stuff...two reasons: We don't eat milk and meat together and we, of course don't eat ham. But this has happened many times in the past and it's no big deal. Or is it?

Also in the room were a couple of Vegan folks and two of the people there were Muslim. We get it about the Vegans but you should also know the Muslims are also not permitted to eat pork.  Of the 40 people in the room I counted 7 that took a pass on breakfast but had paid the fee.

The thing meeting planners should think about is that in this increasingly diverse country we live in some folks, and the numbers are growing, have different dietary restrictions than say, a decade ago. It is a growing consumer trend.

I made no fuss nor did my other friends but it bears reminding folks that while we celebrate diversity we'd also like to celebrate breaking bread with our fellow conference attendees.

Thanks for reading and, as always, I'd love to hear your take.