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Roberta Guise advises small business owners and professionals who want to build a profitable stable of customers, save money on ineffective promotions, and through precision marketing, branding, or placements in the media be visible and get known.

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Entries in Visibility (5)

Tuesday
Jul192011

Look before you click

If you’re like most people, you aim to control what others know and say about you. So you’re careful about what you reveal, and to whom you reveal it.

With social media we’re getting used the fact that whatever we post or share becomes part of the big public conversation. But how many times do you carefully review an email, that old technology, before clicking Send? Do you read and re-read what you’ve written? Do you double check who the recipients are? And do you open the attachment to ensure it’s what you intend to send?

An employee at Chevron didn’t check. This past Friday, he inadvertently sent an email to news media wire services that included documents revealing internal information about his company’s energy trading operations.

Oops.

He tried unsuccessfully to recall the message. Minutes later he sent a request to various news services, asking them to delete the information he had accidentally sent.

The media response was swift and sharp. The Wall Street Journal said, “Chevron’s Email ‘Oops” Reveals Energy Giant’s Sway Over Markets."

The San Francisco Chronicle, through their Bloomberg News affiliation, chimed in with, “Chevron E-Mails Show $363.8 Million Trading Profit This Year.”

And this tweet circulated through StockTwits: “RT @BloombergNow Chevron E-Mails Show $363.8M in Trading Profit."

The articles exposed the usually unobtainable content in the errant documents, with just passing mention that they landed this content through a mistaken distribution.

Like it or not the media did their job, which in this case was to report news from a publicly held company.

The lesson one can learn from this incident, no matter how small or large your company, is simple: check, then check again before you click Send, Post, or Share. Because after the click your words and ideas are public, and up for grabs.

And when it comes to working with the media: assume that anything you say or send them will be considered fair game for publishing.

Have you ever clicked then wished you could take it back? Share your experience in the Comment box.

Roberta Guise works with experts, small business owners and professionals who want to be extraordinarily visible and sharpen their marketing edge. She also enables successful women to become thought leaders in their field of expertise. A small business marketing consultant and speaker, she is the founder of San Francisco-based Guise Marketing & PR. If you'd like to know how to apply these concepts to your situation, call for a free 1/2 hour consultation. 415-979-0611. www.guisemarketing.com

 

Monday
Dec062010

When “new and improved” can ruin your reputation

Do you have a favorite coffee shop you eat at because everything there works perfectly, where the food, atmosphere and service make it like an old comfy couch you love to curl up on?

I used to. And when new owners took over, it changed.

My chosen spot was in the heart of San Francisco’s North Beach, that tourist hot-spot where the aromas of garlic and coffee drift deliciously through the air at all hours. For years the café was a little hole-in-the-wall, so small that even early on a weekday there would be a line to eat breakfast at the counter. I had been eating there for more than 25 years.
After the owner-chef passed away, the family moved the coffee shop to another, larger space close-by. And his wife, who was now running the business, kept up the same personal, first-name relationship with her customers. My husband and I would beeline there for a hearty breakfast after a swim in the bay and chat with the owner about how business was doing, goings on in the neighborhood, and other niceties.

After a swim one day we went there for breakfast, grabbing our usual spot at the counter. But something felt wrong. The walls and paint were different. The old pictures and photos were missing. The familiar faces behind the counter were gone. And it took five minutes just to get menus.

When we were ready to order the server said a word I hear too often these days in retail establishments: No. No, you can’t substitute. No, you can’t mix items. No, we don’t have brown rice.

Our wonderful little coffee shop had been sold. Not only had it lost its soul, the new owners had no interest in pleasing their regular customers. We quickly ate our food and left, vowing never to return or recommend the place again as we had done countless times over the years.


This problem isn’t exclusive to new owners. It can happen to you if you start taking your long-term clients or customers for granted.

What are you intentionally doing to keep long-term customers coming back again and again? What would you have done differently had you taken over this enduring and popular breakfast hangout?

Roberta Guise enables successful women to become thought leaders. She also works with experts, small business owners and professionals who want to be extraordinarily visible and sharpen their marketing edge. A small business marketing consultant and speaker, she is the founder of San Francisco-based Guise Marketing & PR. If you'd like to know how to apply these concepts to your situation, call for a free 1/2 hour consultation. 415-979-0611. www.guisemarketing.com

Saturday
Nov202010

The new rules of marketing lead to influence

It’s no secret that overnight, it seems, marketing has turned on its head.

So-called brick-and-mortar promotion campaigns, such as sending seminar fliers through the U.S. Postal Service, seem quaint today. And then there are not-so-obvious changes that are driving a stake in the heart of what once were considered best practices.

Old rules

Let’s get perspective about what’s going on. In the old days — an eternity of three years ago — under the old rules:

  • If you offered value, people would buy
  • People would pay for your content
  • Communication used to be one-way, or one to one, meaning I’d communicate with you, and perhaps you’d respond
  • The only way to be extraordinarily visible was through print, TV, and radio; and speaking, networking and email
  • Only reporters and editors saw your news releases and pitches
  • Reporters and editors were gatekeepers to your news
  • It was hard to measure results of press release distribution unless you paid through the nose for a clipping service
  • The only way to measure marketing results was using direct marketing through the mail, or until a few years ago, through email.

New rules

Most small business marketing is now being carried out on the Internet. And with this comes a new set of rules. Here are the top seven.

  1. To win the minds and wallets of people whose spending is inconsistent, offering value isn’t enough. You must be relevant. If your content doesn’t offer something people can use either right now or soon, they’ll pass you by.
  2. People expect to access your copyrighted content for free.
  3. Technology, which has become deeply embedded in the collective DNA, is a hungry beast that needs to constantly be fed with content — your content.
  4. You control when, where and how your news and content will be seen, because many of the gatekeepers of the past don’t exist online. This control is yours to harness.
  5. Free online measuring tools such as Google Analytics enable you to know, with precision, how well your various marketing activities are doing. Use these tools for the story of how and how many people are gravitating to your website.
  6. You can, and should, publish your own content, most notably through writing blog articles, through such other online media as video and eBooks, and distributing news through press releases.
  7. Engage in conversations with one person or many people at the same time, using such social media as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

The new rules of marketing enable you to become a center of influence, because the public nature of social media opens up your conversations and ideas for everyone to see. Your message can spread quickly and to a broad audience, because the people in your network are interconnected with other networks; if they think your message is valuable, they’ll pass it along.

Today, it’s much easier to be visible and assert your influence than in the past, because there are fewer barriers stopping people from finding out what you have to say. And that’s a foundational step towards building trust and relationships, which may lead to future business for you.

Which new rule is working best for you?

Roberta Guise enables successful women to become thought leaders. She also works with experts, small business owners and professionals who want to be extraordinarily visible and sharpen their marketing edge. A small business marketing consultant and speaker, she is the founder of San Francisco-based Guise Marketing & PR. If you'd like to know how to apply these concepts to your situation, call for a free 1/2 hour consultation. 415-979-0611. www.guisemarketing.com

Saturday
Jul102010

Be fresh and crisp. Your reputation is at stake.

I went shopping today for mixed spring greens at a tiny local natural food store. I go there when I want a nice big fresh salad.

The object of my culinary desires was mixed spring greens. The greens are usually so crisp at this store you can virtually hear them brushing up against one another as you scoop them into the bag. But today they were tired and wilted, while some of them had turned black and soggy. I asked a worker whether there were fresh greens in storage.

I’ve asked for fresh salad greens at a big supermarket. There, the produce person willingly brought out a box overflowing with crisp leaves, promptly replacing the existing box with the new one.

At the little store the worker brought out a bag with fresh greens, held it open for me to take what I wanted, then silently took the open bag back into storage, leaving the wilted, soggy salad greens in place.

We’re all susceptible to harboring soggy, wilted areas in our businesses. And that could be costing us sales and repeat business.

Perhaps you have a service firm and pride yourself on results. But you find it hard to respond in a timely manner to client emails or phone calls. I can assure you that if this describes you, your clients are not happy that you keep them waiting for a response. The results of a customer survey I conducted for a client shocked her when I showed her they were crazy for her work, but found her hard to work with because they felt she was never available.

Sometimes the soggy area is more like a bog. My architect husband and I recently interviewed a contractor for a major remodel to our house. We’ve both known this contractor professionally for years – my husband has recommended him for many jobs. He promised an estimate “in two weeks.” Three months later, and he still hasn’t sent us the estimate.

It’s been said that people will tell at least 10 others when they’re unhappy with a business. We’ll never be able to recommend this contractor again, and when our remodeling colleagues ask about him we’ll be obliged to tell them why.

As for the little store that got its salad greens wrong: I’m willing to give them another chance. If they fail me again, they stand to lose thousands of dollars they would have got from me over time, because I’ll be food shopping somewhere else.

What can you do to ensure your services or products stay “fresh” and “crisp?”

Roberta Guise works with experts, small business owners and professionals who want to be extraordinarily visible and sharpen their marketing edge. A small business marketing consultant and speaker, she is the founder of San Francisco-based Guise Marketing & PR. If you'd like to know how to apply these concepts to your situation, call for a free 1/2 hour consultation. 415-979-0611. www.guisemarketing.com

Thursday
Aug272009

Play with fire if you dare

In the old world order, companies were like fortresses.

In that old world, before the Internet, blogs, and social media such as YouTube, Yelp! and Twitter, your complaints about a big company would echo only in your head.

Today, you or your company’s reputation can go up in flames in a flash, with negative messages echoing across the Internet faster than a lightning strike.

An early sign that technology was giving people a voice came in June 2005, when tech writer and author Jeff Jarvis wrote a post to his blog under the title, “Dell sucks.” Dell dissed Jarvis, he got mad and he blogged about it.

Thousands of people left comments of support on his blog, and word spread. His blog posts ranked increasingly higher on Google.

In August, just two months after his first Dell post, Business Week ran a story about Jarvis’s Dell experience. Dell got the message, and made the needed changes to its customer service practices.

2009 brought us David Carroll’s song about United Airlines breaking his guitar – the song went viral on YouTube. United Airlines also made the needed changes to its customer service practices.

That’s two individuals who had monumental impact on two gigantic companies.

No business is too small to be the subject of negative comments or reviews that spread like wildfire.

Conventional wisdom decrees that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, that all visibility is good. If you believe this, ask yourself how much it could cost your business if disgruntled customers started writing about their experience, and word spread?

In this new world order, don’t wait till fire strikes to take preventive measures. As long as your shingle is hanging out for all to see, do whatever it takes to have happy customers.

That means learning what gets customers upset, understanding how to avoid upsetting them in the first place, knowing what they want, and “calming them right away with words that defuse anger and defensiveness,” says Rebecca Morgan, CSP, CMC, author of the business bestseller, Calming Upset Customers: Staying Effective During Unpleasant Situations.

Customers are a business’s crown jewels. Take good care of them, and they’ll last an eternity.

Roberta Guise works with experts, small business owners and professionals who want to be extraordinarily visible and sharpen their marketing edge. A marketing consultant and speaker, she owns San Francisco-based Guise Marketing & PR. If you'd like to know how to apply these concepts to your situation, call for a free 1/2 hour consultation. 415-979-0611. www.guisemarketing.com