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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Handling Negative Online Reviews Like a Pro




Online reviews can make or break a business.  More and more often, customers are turning to sites like Yelp, Google, and Facebook to get an unbiased view of every business they use. 


Negative reviews are pretty much inevitable, regardless of how hard you try.  Your responses, or lack thereof, can also have a dramatic effect on how people view your company's credibility and dedication to customer service.  Here are a few tips to handle negative online reviews like a pro.

First and foremost it is important to have a consistent approach to handling both positive and negative feedback. 


Meet Kelly...

Kelly owns a local hair salon and uses many types of online profiles to represent her business. Since public comments can't be deleted, Kelly has developed a solid approach to protecting her business' online reputation.


Set Up Alerts

The first line of defense for Kelly's online business reputation is daily alerts. Setting up alerts through Google, Facebook, and Twitter lets Kelly know when someone has mentioned her business. She gets these alerts sent to her inbox daily.


Comment Always

Kelly's policy is to comment on as many pieces of feedback as possible. She leverages the personal touch by interacting with her customers in a timely manner to all forms of feedback.  She's also turned her responses into an art form.


Positive Feedback   

Kelly always responds to positive feedback. It doesn't have to be the great American novel, but Kelly makes sure it's genuine and has a personal feel to it.  Observe the magic:

3/24/2015: Jen, this is one of the sweetest, most thorough reviews I have seen.  Thank you so much for your kind words about the salon and our wonderful nail artist, Nickie!


Negative Feedback  

Kelly always acknowledges the client's concerns and states in the public reply that she will contact the person to follow up and resolve the issue.  If she doesn't have the client's contact information, she invites the person who posted to contact her directly.  

At this stage, Kelly understands the importance of not engaging in justification, excuse making, claims of innocence, or outright denial.  


Here is an example of what NOT to do...

Michelle, 
I am really surprised by some of the comments in your review.  You were 15 minutes late for the appointment.  The stylist you were booked with had already packed up to leave and you were marked in our books as a no show (15 minutes late for a 45-minute appointment is pretty late).  I tried to convince the stylist to stay and see you because it was Valentine's Day and I didn't want you to go away disappointed. She needed to get to her other job but agreed to do the blowout even if it meant being late for work. I asked you if you minded skipping the complimentary hand massage that we usually do with our blowouts since you were late and she needed to get to her second job. I'm sorry if that made your experience less pleasant.  However, she did stay late and do an amazing blowout for you. 


What a complete turnoff! If you want to try and win her back and impress others? Try this instead:

Hi Jonathan,
Thank you for taking the time to submit a review. We are sincerely sorry that your experience was less than satisfactory on this visit. We would be grateful for the opportunity to make this situation right for you. Please feel free to contact me at XXX-XXX-XXXX and I will assist in reconciling this issue. A private message has also been sent. Again, many thanks for the feedback - it only helps us serve you better!  


The Clock is Ticking

Kelly promptly follows up on her commitment to reach out.  The best person for this job is the business owner or general manager - someone with the clout and authority to fix the issue in one phone call or email. She and her manager put on their best customer service hats and really listen to the client's concern. 


Follow-Up on the Follow-Up

Once the issue is resolved, and only if it was a positive result, Kelly asks the client to follow up on the posting and comment that the issue was resolved.  This can be the most impactful.  Kelly always goes back to the original posting personally to briefly talk about how the resolution went down.


The key to success lies in being genuine, working proactively, and embracing the age-old philosophy, "The customer is always right!" even if you aren't in agreement.

Brandie Nicole Richardson
Digital Marketing Specialist
Graphic Designer
Plum Grove

Peter "The Printer" Lineal
Founder/CEO
Plum Grove
2160 Stonington Avenue
Hoffman Estates, IL 60169
Ph: 847.882.4020 Ext: 133
www.PlumGrovePrinters.com
PeterL@PlumGrovePrinters.com

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Printing, Marketing & Promotional Products with Powerful Execution.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Swag Is Actually Your Brand Ambassador

Edited down from something just seen on TSNN:

In marketing, swag isn’t just a party favor you give to guests at the end of the night. It’s your brand ambassador when you’re no longer there. The role of swag shouldn’t be underestimated. When utilized correctly, it provides brands with a physical and emotional connection to their customers before, during, and after an event.

In other words, swag is a gift that keeps on giving — and that’s why it has become a $21 billion industry. One study found that 87 percent of attendees keep the promotional items they receive for more than a year, and 79 percent of them say they’d be likely to do business with that company again.

The power of swag can open doors for your brand anywhere. In order to unlock its potential, remember that not all swag is created equal.
Smart phone stand
Smart phone stand


The Wide World of Swag
Call it swag, promos, giveaways, freebies, tchotchkes… Swag can be as small as a pen or as big as a VIP trip to a concert. It can be a tangible item that sits on a desk or an experience that lives inside the mind. One thing remains consistent, though: The better your swag strategy is, the more important, valued, and excited your consumers will feel about your brand.

swag pen
High-quality pens


Match Your Swag to Your Message.
Offer swag that reflects your brand’s message and values. If your company’s identity revolves around practicality and productivity, don’t hand out time-wasting junk like yo-yos and rubber balls. Instead, give your audience something they need, like a branded roll of duct tape or a Swiss army knife. Remember, this is something your customer plans to have in his or her home for years to come. Make sure it reflects the right brand image.

purp-copy
USB drives


Solve a Problem.
Even if your brand isn’t all about practicality and productivity, giving your customers something they can actually use is a smart way to gain their respect and gratitude. For example, if you’re marketing at an outdoor event, consider offering branded umbrellas, bottles of water, sunblock, or towels. Customers are much more likely to remember brands that help them out.

Multipurpose blanket
Multipurpose blanket


Don’t Fall Into a Rut.
Customers will eventually forget a brand that relies on the same key chain for years on end. It’s wise to vary your swag offerings both over time and depending on the scenario. Pins, badges, and stickers might be perfect for one event, while personalized putters could be perfect for another. Change it up to keep the attention of your audience.

Planting kits
Planting kits


Don’t Be Logo-Happy.
Logos are an easy way to get your brand name into somebody’s home, but they’re also an easy way to get your swag into somebody’s trash can. If your swag is actually impressive or useful in its own right, a small, discreet logo will do the trick. Customers will naturally remember who gave it to them.

Wall calendar
Wall calendar


Avoid Playing Favorites. 
Creating multiple tiers of swag can be a dangerous strategy because it suggests that your company values certain customers over others. If one demographic is handed cheap-looking pens but knows that another market got bottles of champagne, they’re going to leave your event feeling jealous and underappreciated. Your best option is to make sure the swag you offer is of a consistent value, but if you must create multiple levels of reward, keep it under wraps.

Leather portfolios
Leather portfolios

Whether it’s a pad of paper that attendees end up writing their grocery lists on or an air freshener that dangles from their rearview mirrors, swag is a great way to provide a useful (and free!) souvenir to consumers that keeps your name at the top of their minds.

See the whole thing! 

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About Joan Weis

Peter "The Printer" Lineal
Founder/CEO
Plum Grove
2160 Stonington Avenue
Hoffman Estates, IL 60169
Ph: 847.882.4020 Ext: 133
www.PlumGrovePrinters.com
PeterL@PlumGrovePrinters.com

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Printing, Marketing & Promotional Products with Powerful Execution.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Super-Charge Your Sales Force

Converting prospects into clients is often a difficult and expensive process. Sales reps can spend weeks, months, even years trying to convert a prospect into a client. So, how do your reps keep the conversation going and the interest building when they’re away? The answer: put high-quality, effective print sales collateral in their hot little hands.

Your sales reps can leave a "spokesperson" behind their prospects, one that will subtly sing the praises of your company when your reps leave.
That advocate for your products and services is the right mix of marketing materials.

Highly effective print sales collateral doesn’t just mean you leave a brochure and a business card and hope for the best. To super-charge your sales force, you need well thought-out, quality-designed materials that will continue to grab the prospect’s attention and not end up in the recycling bin. Top sales experts have weighed in with the following best practices.

Case Studies

The single most effective piece of sales collateral that you can leave with your prospects is the case study. Including one or two case studies targeted to the prospect’s needs can do more for your sales than a holiday gift basket. Your case studies should concisely discuss:
  • What the client’s greatest challenge was prior to purchasing your product or service
  • How the client implemented your product or service
  • How the client’s challenge went away or was reduced by implementing your product or service

These three ideas will communicate more to the prospect about how your product or service works and the value that it can provide to them, than merely listing the things your company does. If possible, include solid numbers about money and time savings, as these are the top two complaints companies have.

Testimonials

Finding three or four clients to rave about you is also a fantastic way to show your prospects that (1) you have clients, (2) your product/service is LOVED and (3) why your clients love it. If you can guide your clients in crafting a testimonial that discusses how your company changed their life for the better, the more effective the testimonial will be. Including their name, business name, and even a picture can go a long way in building credibility. Nothing says, “Trust us” like someone else saying, “Trust them!”

The Sales Page

Sales and Marketing Strategist Walter Wise notes that successful marketing messages use the "Marketing Equation of Interrupt, Engage, Educate, and Offer.” Let’s break down that equation. 

  • Interrupt: your main headline, designed to interrupt your prospect's attention
  • Engage: your sub-headline, crafted to keep the prospect’s interest and get them to keep reading
  • Educate: this is where you add some valuable information on solving your clients’ problems
  • Offer: this should be a low-risk, free report, checklist, white paper, or e-book that will position your company as a thought leader in the field.

Take the time to provide your “offer” in your sales package. The longer you can keep that prospect engaging in your company’s materials, the more likely they will be to buy.

Putting It All Together

All of your materials should be printed on high-quality paper stock and designed by a professional graphic artist so that the materials are aesthetically pleasing and project an impeccable image. Too much text and low-quality graphics can be an instant turn-off regardless of the quality of your product. Remember: These materials speak for you when your reps are not there.


Peter "The Printer" Lineal
Founder/CEO
Plum Grove
2160 Stonington Avenue
Hoffman Estates, IL 60169
Ph: 847.882.4020 Ext: 133
www.PlumGrovePrinters.com
PeterL@PlumGrovePrinters.com


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Printing, Marketing & Promotional Products with Powerful Execution.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Lowered Postal Rates = Time to Try Direct Mail

Most small businesses have something of a love/hate relationship with the United States Postal Service. USPS is one of those necessary things to get a wide range of direct mail and print marketing materials out into the world. With a decade of increasing prices chipping away at return on investment, it's no wonder many organizations started to skimp on direct-mail spending in favor of other "cheaper" solutions. Now, however, the tides may be truly changing as postal rates are on the decline. If you've been waiting to jump back into the direct mail world, now might be the time to give it a try.


Postal Rates: What is Going On?

On April 10, 2016, the cost to send a first-class letter in the United States fell by two cents - a rare phenomenon. Additionally, the price of sending a postcard dropped a penny, and international letters decreased by five cents. These are the most direct mail and small business-friendly prices to come along since the beginning of the 2008 recession. 


Direct Mail Doesn't Just Work - It Works Gangbusters

Despite all this, some people still refuse to give direct mail the chance it deserves because they naturally assume that digital marketing is more effective in our tech-driven world. After all, with people glued to their cell phones day in and day out, how much of an impact can direct mail really have?

The answer is "BIG."

According to a study conducted by Compu-Mail.com, direct mail is still used heavily in a smart phone-centric world: approximately 43% of all local retail advertising still falls into this category. Not only that, but young adults are actually the largest group to respond to direct mail. According to a recent International Communications Research survey, approximately 73% of consumers actually prefer direct mail over alternative advertising methods. This is largely due to the fact that an equal number of respondents said that direct mail marketing was a much more personable experience than Internet-based materials; from the millennials' perspective, junk mail happens in their inbox, not their mailbox.

So, if the reasons why you had overlooked direct mail in the past were because "it was too expensive" and "you didn't think it worked," congratulations: those two reasons just evaporated in an instant.

Each business is unique, and what works for one might not work for another. However, with the recent decline of USPS postal rates, now would be the perfect time to give direct mail a try. Now, is a terrific chance to really dip your proverbial toe in the water and to see just how direct mail can benefit your organization. These declining rates won't stick around forever, so go for it! Create your direct mail campaign today. Let me know if we can help.



Peter "The Printer" Lineal
Founder/CEO
Plum Grove
2160 Stonington Avenue
Hoffman Estates, IL 60169
847.882.4020 Ext: 133
www.PlumGrovePrinters.com
PeterL@PlumGrovePrinters.com

Like Plum Grove Printers Facebook PageFollow Plum Grove Printers TwitterConnect with Plum Grove Printers LinkedInConnect with Plum Grove Printers Google+
Printing, Marketing & Promotional Products with Powerful Execution.