Category Archives: Marketing

Marketing is one the most important aspects of a business enterprise. Marketing encompasses the whole extent of advertising for the firm, establishing a good public relations for your company, finding the most effective pitch for your product and services as well as the logistics of the same in the market, locally and internationally.

Innovations of the information age have made marketing more bearable even for the inexperienced entrepreneur – if not totally easy. Having this fact in mind, the competition now is all about strategizing for your firm. Which sets of marketing plans will work best for you to gain the upper hand; you might ask? The skilled entrepreneur can discern this by the use scientific analysis of objective data and the use of his or her sheer instincts.


Complaints Resolutions – Promote Your Business

Customers who plunge into purchases that result to unsatisfactory performance dread the moment when they have to notify the shop they patronized because more often than not, poor post-sales customer service handling is what is expected.  Breakdown of an item do happen, albeit rarely.  But if businesses learn how best to handle these rare post-sales customer issues well, threat can actually turn into opportunity for return businesses from the complainants themselves.  Here’s a short sample of how that can happen.

Last winter, a blogger client decided to shell out $170 to have a fire grate made in his new home.   After installation, the customer was satisfied with his purchase.  Craftsmanship appeared impeccable, functionality and operations, smooth.  But after only twenty fires, the whole device started to lose shape, bend in several places and eventually conked out.   Generally, this would instantly be concluded as a bad purchase and will result to irritation and dissatisfaction.  Coming from an active blogger, this can spell disaster and bad publicity for the shop and the product itself.

Fortunately, the client is a sensible man. He has professed he generally avoids conflicts at all costs.  Placing the problem in the back-burner, so to speak, for a couple of weeks so as to delay the eventual confrontation of the problematic item, the client finally realized he should take it back.   “Sorry, mate, our guarantee only extends to 14-days” or “Sorry but you shouldn’t have kept using it” were the standard parroted words expected.  One cannot really blame him for expecting those.

Upon placing the complaint formally on the counter’s shop, lo and behold, he got the surprise of his life!  How so?  The fellow who received his concerns promptly apologized for the item delivered and immediately laid out a resolution plan complete with timelines.   Instead of referring to the client as a “mate,” the shop fellow pleasantly referred to the client by his first name on his apology immediately striking a more personal, professional connection and at the same time, pacifying the irritation and offering a resolution that would be done within two days!  The end result? The problematic fire grate was fixed on the same day at no extra charge.

Now that is what you call Impeccable Customer Service Handling.

How you handle customer complaints can create an opportunity to promote your business.

Clients acknowledge that although products are supposed to deliver what they promised in their unique selling propositions, problems do arise and mistakes do happen.  From the business owner’s perspective, the learning here is how best to handle situations like these when they arise so as to ensure continued patronage and understanding from their business providers.

The blogger client who was pleasantly surprised of the experience did, as expected, blog about the whole thing.  In his online article, he swore he could tell the fellow who handled his complaint resolution had no formal training in corporate customer service.  However, what set this fellow apart from his peers is that he took ownership of the business, exercised wise judgment, and did what seemed right.  In business-speak, this bright fellow listened to his customer’s request, offered a reasonable resolution, provided a sensible timeline and delivered.

Don’t get it wrong: good customer service handling does not mean giving in to every whim and fancy of complaining customers.  Admittedly, there are moments when clients are simply unreasonable.  But in every situation, there is a solution.  The only message this article wishes to imbibe is that good customer service handling, especially post-sales, is another important selling experience a client must enjoy.  Have a good ear for listening, be sensible and mature about your options and deliver promptly.  The last of these elements is as essential as the first: delivery.  After all, nobody likes to be delayed. Nobody likes to wait. Prompt action not only delivers but it also seals the deal.

How businesses handle customer complaints reflect how clients will look at them for similar future requirements.  Handled well, these once irate customers can turn into loyal, happily raving patrons.  Search for that blog of the fire grate blogger client – he has sworn he’d buy another fire grate soon at Flash Weld in Mornington, Victoria.


Tell Customers If You Can’t

In the digital age of communications, business owners scramble to cover all data information highways just to ensure that the target market finds their product or service immediately and if the need to purchase it arises, the avenues to contact, inquire and seal the deal is present.  Speed and availability is the name of the game.  Sadly though, the abundance of these so-called avenues often does not match the time and focus business owners must allocate to keep everything going all at the same time.  More than helping, too much glass balls over a juggler’s head may end in disaster especially for serious consumers who expect to basic customer service: attention.

Take this multinational cosmetic production company, for instance. With all their paid advertisements and collaterals plastered with their official website and fan pages, one blogger shared that she once tried to write them a straightforward note via the contact form available on their website for something about their product to be further clarified.  Upon hitting the ‘send’ button, a computer-generated reply promptly appeared in her inbox thanking her for her very important query with a smart assurance of “We will get back in touch soon.”

Unfortunately, several months have passed and yet, no “getting back in touch soon” happened.  To most clients, this is a sign that that company clearly does not feel that that effort poured into contacting them did not merit any kind of reaction so they will simply bring their business elsewhere.   This is a glass ball falling to the ground in pieces.

Remember that no matter what the size your business is or how wide your distribution network covers, you are not only responsible for managing customer expectations by letting your customer know how to contact you but also to actually pay attention to your customers by ensuring all these contact information centers are manned and attended to.

Review where your target market is and what avenues are easily available to them.  Is it landline voice calls, facsimile, short messaging services or email through your company website?   Depending on your capabilities to handle these lines, prioritize which ones you will adopt and ensure sustained interaction in them once you make them available and known to the public.  Beware of falling into what others call the “Always Available” trap by giving customers every option available just because you can take advantage of it but not really be capable of sustaining it in the long run.  A phone line that goes unanswered can be more detrimental to your business than an unpublished number.

Your customers are sensible enough to understand that you are not going to be available 24/7 (unless you are in the business of saving lives) but when you say “Thank you for your inquiry. We will get back in touch soon,” mean it.


Withholding Information is a Selling Strategy Gone Wrong

It is understandable if you exert great amount of effort to protect your knowledge about your industry. It is however another matter to employ a selling strategy by withholding information from your clients both potential and current.

I once worked as a marketing manager for an insurance company.  It was my job to oversee people who make a living in selling insurance policies. I would say it was a great learning experience for me, as this was the time when agents are pushed to their limits in coming up with workable strategies to effectively sell insurance policies. I remember that we used to have a strategy before that most agents know by heart.  They must withhold relevant further information about the business until they were able to secure a personal meeting with the potential client, and will have to disclose additional facts only when necessary. This was years before, and I just had a recent experience that exactly replicates this untoward principle.  I browsed the web searching for a travel agency to help me out with my planned holiday abroad. I found one that really got my attention because of its impeccable website arrangement and presentation. At first glance it may seem to posses all the necessary essentials of a great travel agency except for one important fact; it seems to withhold key information that could have fully convinced me to avail of its services. I sent a message inquiry via email but received no reply. The next thing I did was call the business owner. It was then that I found out that though she is willing to supply seemingly less important details, she will not go any further without first receiving a deposit fee for the itinerary. I had this impression that while their business is selling their services, they are also selling their information. She made it a point that she will not discuss any further without me paying first. That really got me upset and made me decide not to pursue any possible negotiation. I really would have loved to avail of their services because they seem very good in what they do, but I do not feel comfortable paying for something that I could readily get for free.

We are now in an information age. Facts abound in the web. If you are withholding information from your prospects, there’s a good chance you will lose them to your competitors who are freely providing them vital information.

Maybe it’s now time to change your selling strategy, start sharing information to your prospective clients and gain their loyalty.



6 simple steps of setting up an effective Communications Toolkit

An effective communications toolkit is very useful especially for small businesses. It is a collection of all your essential business communications components.

The effectiveness of your communications kit is dependent upon how well you put into actions every statement that you release.

Follow these simple steps to work out your communications kit

Step 1
Clearly state a brief summary of your business’ strengths. Simplify your words and be truthful with your claims. Emphasize your edge over the other business in your industry. Believe in your own capacity and let them know that. Be bold in stating the facts without coming out as arrogant.

Step 2
Revisit your mission and your vision and craft a very smart statement representing those ideals. This will help you deliver your message in a professional and extraordinary fashion.

Step 3
Rehearse your standard brief statements that you could embed during a casual conversation. Make it brief, something that can be delivered in as short as 2 minutes. Make every word count because time is of the essence. So include your values and goals in those statements. Make sure to never cease practicing on your delivery to make it sound spontaneous and genuine. The goal here is to deliver a clear message with enough contexts to attract your prospect to meet with you for further details.

Step 4
Make a portfolio of your past projects and pick the best of them. Include a few relevant details about those projects for the clients’ perusal. Be concise and business-like with your statements.

Step 5
With the portfolio of your best projects from the past, make sure to include visual presentations of its important phases. With the technology we have now, you could readily make vivid and lively presentations of your documentations.

Step 6
Bring all these things together and place it in any of your filing method. You have already one of the best tools available for small businesses. You may now start getting ready for any proposal that you will be performing to any prospective clients. You can now easily package your business and deliver the entirety of your business’ mission, vision and goals in to brief and concise statements. Use your communications toolkit to its optimum benefits. You can have it as the basis of how your website might look, or how your printed materials should be arranged.

You know your business well more than anybody else; only you could tell how it should be presented in a way that you want it to be presented. Start putting things into action. Use your communications toolkit to project the image of your business.


Service Culture: Key to Establishing a Business Entreprise

In my spare time I make it a point to drive through the local mall and stroll within its hallways just looking at the endless lines of well instituted pubs and shops.   I cannot help but read through most of their labels and brands.  One thing I have continually noticed on countless occasions: their business logos which would bear the words “Established in ___ or Since ___.”   Looking back at it now, I can only ask myself, how do they do that?  Just how do they manage to put up a business then keep it through the years even through the centuries?

In the world of competitive trades and economics it is not a brilliant idea for a budding businessman to slash prices in half every time business opens.  This is what one of our internet bloggers recently realized.  He concluded, that it is impractical to lower your prices to assume a leverage of some sort from other business ventures as this will surely bring an untimely demise on your business endeavor.  Instead, he insisted on keeping one trade secret: encouragement of service culture.

What is service culture all about?  It is simply the expounded idea of the age-old rule: give and take.  That is, a transaction is considered complete if the services your customers received are enough to motivate them to return.  This is encouraging customer loyalty.   Customers need to feel valuable.  Once they are made to feel that they are needed and that they are important they will come back for more.  That is human nature.  Besides, loyal customers are the best publicity. As the saying goes:

“ Not only do loyal customers spend more, they also help your business to grow by bringing in more new customers. ”

Creating customer awareness, channeling your principal message and crafting customer loyalty takes time and effort.  However with the help of service culture, these can be made effortless.  It is best to keep in mind three important steps: first, determine a shared goal between the business and its customers. Second, maintain rapport.  That is, keep an open communication.  And third, generate positive feelings.  Use compliments,  and personalized messages to convey gratitude and appreciation.  Don’t get me wrong, service culture is not present within the transaction level.  It is seen during the time when customers are not with the business men and they are not well within the business area.

Looking back, I have reached a level of understanding about how brilliantly these established businesses created a group of customers and kept them loyal all these years.  I can only imagine how intricately they have managed to weave three important factors: the establishment of a common goal, the introduction of an open communication and the building of rapport which are truly exquisite they have kept the business going.  Trust, in its most fundamental sense of the word, is a indeed a product of loyalty.  Customer loyalty is the key to win the ruthless competition in the alternate universe of a traders’ world.


12 Ways for Great Media Interviews

A media interview is an avenue for you to talk and advertise your business. However, common apprehensions might be hindering you from committing to an interview out of some ungrounded fears. There are ways to handle those fears and make your interview a success.

Fears are normal under any circumstance. The only thing you need is to find the corresponding motivation to help you get through the frightening stage so you may start to enjoy its advantages.

1. Good preparation

Even the best and the most experienced speakers need regular practice. The interview might run without any second chances, but you may have all the time to rehearse your lines. Ask help from a friend to do a mock interview armed with all the possible and perceived questions. This will help you sound spontaneous when the actual interview comes. Make sure to prepare also even the slightest detail. Consider your words carefully and phrase them in your most entertaining way.

2. Always be on track

Achieve your goals and purpose during the interview. Keep always in mind your objective. It is a lot easier to talk when you know your stand and you purpose. Therefore, when you answer questions, never forget to mention the product or service that you are trying to promote.

3. be prudent when you answer

Keep your calm demeanour and do not rush to answer when you are asked spontaneously. Whenever a journalist catches you off-guard, do not hesitate to ask for a pause to think your answers over. You have to realize that your answer will have a long term effect over your business. It is better to tell the journalist to get back to him on the particular issue rather than giving a response that you will soon regret.

4. Do not play it safe

Make a stand on critical issues. It will do you no good if you play safe all the time.  Study what the issue is all about. Learn about its details, and then make a bold statement as to where your opinions lean.

5. Make the whole thing informative and lively

Your statements during an interview must really be interesting and informative for the audience. Make your examples realistic and practical. You should talk in a way that ultimately makes a connection with someone. When your interview is lively and informative, the audience will most likely retain most of what you said.

6. Look amiable

Be confident with your stance in an interview. Make your body language sends off a message that you are in control of your circumstances. Maintain eye contact with the interviewer and keep yourself relaxed and amiable. Moreover, be cordial every time you answer a question.

7. Act with enthusiasm

If you want to come out as interesting then you need to think and act with enthusiastic energy. You have to keep in mind that media is designed for entertainment and you might as well be entertaining when you do your interview. Make your conversation lively and buoyant. If both you and the interviewer are enjoying the show, then most likely it will emanate in your respective aura that will also be perceived readily by your audience.

8. Choose your words

Talk in a way that your words are understandable by people from all walks of life. There is no point speaking in office slang when your audience cannot relate to what you are saying.

9. Be brief with your answers

Brevity works best in interviews. You need to compress your whole idea and deliver it in a few catchy words and phrases. An interview does not last long, so make all your answers brief, yet relevant.

10. Make yourself available for an up-close interview 

A one-on-one, face to face interview is way better than just speaking through today’s communications gadgets. If you are busy, then at least mark a special time in your calendar for the said interview to visit the studio.

11. Practice your voice

Your voice helps you sound more professional and create an image of authority. So take time to warm it up before the interview starts for better results.

12. Finish the interview with an impact

Have an impact during the interview, and then finish it off with a greater impact when the interview closes. Encourage people to act on your suggestions. Deliver a thoughtful call to action.


Bad Customer Service Can Take a Toll on Your Business

Ever wondered why companies left and right spend millions of advertising dollars just to come up with loyalty cards and programs for their business? It is simple: it is because they have realized that loyalty leaders in business who more often than not design their whole business systems around customer loyalty rise up to be winners in the end. If you start wishing your business to harness this intangible trait of allegiance with your existing customers and take steps towards its realization, you and your business should be bound for success as well.

Client loyalty is the act with which happy customers adopt making them come back to patronize a chosen product or service.  It is a self-imposed system wherein a company strives to deliver high impeccable quality in all their products or services all the time making high-quality and able customers stay with them for the long haul.  In some successful cases, even company employees turn into these happy customers that customer loyalty transcends market place walls.

Owing to the fact that the rate of return for high customer loyalty is measurable, businesses today are jumping into the celebration wagon.  When a business owner consistently produces products or services of value and win customer loyalty, market share, bottom lines and top lines all rise while the cost to acquire new customers goes down.  How so? Loyal customers do a business much service through word of mouth advertising and referrals without the company having to spend any advertising dollars further!

Various ways are available today for companies to capture customer loyalty among their current client base.  Programs in the form of incentives or risk-free trial periods for a product or service are some of the ways a business can introduce this scheme.  Cash outlay at the onset may appear big and daunting but in the long run, the high yield these programs deliver drive up profits and expenditures essential to attract new patrons.

Despite these new ways of attracting and keeping your target market to patronize your excellent product or service line, remember that there is still no excuse from delivering excellent customer service at each and every transaction, be it pre- or post-sales, to support the thrust you are introducing to your clients.  After all, “nothing is harder to regain than lost trust” and to earn customer loyalty, consistency is a vital key.

A blogger mentioned before that “People do business with people they trust.” That much is true. A client will only bring their business to people they perceive to be trustworthy not only in business dealings but also, those who they perceive to be knowledgeable – an expert in their area – whose high dependability to deliver what they promise is without doubt.

Today is the age of being critical – when customer trust is hard to win unless you successfully settle all the doubts in their head.  Keep in mind that building trust is a slow process but once won, you reap the benefits for your business in the end.


Leveraging PR Momentum to Boost Your Business

Most small business owners have never been featured in the press; and getting that coveted spot in a newspaper, magazine, business journal, or expertise website will not materialize overnight. Publicity, though, can be attainable, and will reap rewards for any small business owner; provided that there is, of course, consistent effort.

It may have happened for some businesses, but for others it will normally take weeks or months before a single glimmer of hope of getting that media spot becomes visible. This also depends on some factors like how simple your story is to cover and how consistently you get in touch with the media.

I recently interviewed a business owner regarding his use of PR. He owns a clothing range which he started with just fifty dollars of capital. He was able to grow the business by selling seven thousand dollars’ worth of t-shirts a week; and within a few years, he was able to transform a small business into a multi-million dollar enterprise.

I asked him what were the secrets to his success. He mentioned that one of the secrets for his success was that he maximized the potential of free publicity.

It was unknown to him at the time, but his company had a great media catch: his business was unique. When it comes to business knowledge, he honestly said that he didn’t know much; but yet he was able establish a multi-million dollar clothing brand. Furthermore, he went against every known business model, but sales were still pouring in. His uniqueness made his business newsworthy, and that’s what made him appear as a guest at a very respected radio program.

It was right then that he discovered the biggest benefit that free publicity can give his business. Media people often look for their next story by paying attention to what’s headlining elsewhere. Hence, within a few days after the interview, he got an invite to guest on a television talk show to discuss his clothing brand in front of a very wide audience.

He then received hundreds of calls from retailers wanting to sell his products the very next day.

What he’d attained was a classic example of using public relations momentum and publicity as leverages  to build up business. The radio show took him from a very small audience, which opened the door to a television appearance that made his business known to millions of customers. The best part was that it cost him nothing.

If you want to be like him, you can build a similar PR strategy to gain you that momentum you can leverage for your business.

Persistence is Key

Like in any business endeavor, a PR campaign needs a dedicated  investment of time and effort, and not necessarily money.  This therefore means that, as a business owner, you must continuously develop new story angles to spark media interest. Regular follow-up on the media organizations you’d like to work with will also be advantageous.

Take ‘Baby Steps’

The media universe is such a broad place to start, and attempting to get in touch with all of the media elements can feel very overwhelming. You might want to start within your local market first. The reason behind this is that you’ve already establish some credibility in your local market.

Another tip is to focus on a certain niche like a business journal or a trade publication that covers your industry.

Define your Goals

Always make sure that your PR goals are written down where you can always see them. Define your goals and your expected outcome of each and take an action step each day that will lead you closer to  attaining that goal.

Always allot PR time into your Business Operations

Allot at least an hour a week to focus on public relations; even though it’s only about fifteen minutes a day. In those fifteen minutes you could’ve already sent an email of your media pitch out to five journalists, placed three follow-up phone calls, or researched on a new PR opportunity thru a new media outlet. Don’t make an excuse of not having enough time.


How to Make Events as Part of Your Public Relations Strategy

There are valuable opportunities for any business owner in attending, speaking at, and hosting events. Not only are they good exposure for your business, but they are also good practice for your PR skills.

Always Find time to Attend Industry Events

Attending events are great opportunities for any business owner to promote his or her business. Not only that, these events are also great opportunities to practice and further improve your public relations skills.

My own motto is that PR should encompass everything  you say, you do, and what you are; this also includes how you present yourself at these events. Always remember that the people you meet and talk to are potential business partners and probable customers; so the way you relate with them reflects on your professionalism as a person and as a business.

One thing to always take note of is that these events aren’t just card-collecting opportunities; but they are also excellent venues to build new business relationships. Pay full attention to a person you’re talking to, create a relationship, and learn about them and their business. Like any other form of public relations, it takes time and practice; but the connections you build through networking can support you in the long run.

Get a Speaking Engagement at an Event

Being able to share your opinions during events provide a great boost for you and your business’ profile and credibility.  When you’re starting out as a speaker, you may not be paid to speak at such events or conferences, but organizers can offer you other benefits like posting some articles in their newsletters and allowing you a short ‘plug-in’ time for your business at the end of your talk.

Hosting Events are Great Opportunities for Public Relations

Hosting an event, seminar, or workshop is also a great way to reach out to customers and potential business partners. For example a pet shop owner and a landscaper could run a free seminar together on “How to Utilize Garden Space for your Pets ,” and promote it to their targeted niche. It’s also a great way of getting pre-qualified people added on to your list of potential customers. Likewise, it can also be promoted in the local paper.

Moreover, you can also share your expertise and train other people to attend your workshop for a fee.  Just a tip though, don’t get stuck by paying non-refundable venue deposits only to not hit the targeted registration numbers in the end. What you can do instead is to ask those who pre-register to give suggestions on their preferred venues. Once you’re seeing a good showing when it comes to the numbers of registrants, then you can start booking venues in the suggested areas.

These seminars and events need not to be expensive either. They can also be facilitated online or even over the phone. This would also bring a great advantage to you and your attendees. Not only do you get to save up on costs, but you and the attendees can actually attend at the comfort of home, in pajamas.


Transforming Customer Service from Good to Exceptional

Time and time again, I’m sure you’ve heard of how living it has changed people, businesses, and industries. If you haven’t heard of it, then you need to go out there more and maybe experience it yourself. I’m talking about exceptional customer service.

In a recent business trip to Hong Kong, some colleagues and I went to a restaurant for dinner. Another colleague was running late and called up to ask for directions on how to get there from a certain landmark. The cab driver seemed to have missed the exact address and dropped him off a few blocks away.

Being in an unfamiliar place, we asked the restaurant manager to give him directions over the phone. Even with the directions, our colleague still can’t seem to find the location. After a few minutes, the restaurant manager borrowed the phone and went out of the restaurant to personally look for him and escort him to the place.

Now, that’s going the extra mile! I know exceptional customer service when I see it.

This experience got me thinking as to when the last time I provided exceptional service to a customer was. During my reflection, I gave myself a very honest answer. I always knew that I provided good customer service; and customers can attest to this. I just can’t remember the last time I provided  service that was exceptional. As a fellow business owner, I am now challenging you to ask yourself that same question.

Realistically speaking, it would be impossible to always go out-of-the-way for every customer at every moment of every day. It is possible, however, for you to plan ahead and offer exceptional customer service every now and then. Think of the difference it would make to yourself, your business, and your customers.

So, I am now challenging you to demonstrate exceptional customer service to one of your clients by following some guidelines below.

1. In terms of business relationships, think of a customer you’d like to build a stronger working relationship with.

2. On a customer service standpoint, think of ways on what you can do to add more value to the relationship. Make sure that it’s over and above what you or your business normally offer.

3. Plan ahead and go do it.

Think of the endless possibilities of doing this to each and every one of your customers can bring to your business.  Visualize how your business will benefit if you turn a neutral customer into a promoter, or a promoter to an advocate. How do you think would you and your customers feel? How would this impact you and your business? What would this change in the way you or your customers do business?

It might just be that exceptional customer service is the ‘difference that makes the difference’ to your customers.