Category Archives: branding

The Addiction to Twitter

After a few weeks as a Twitterite I will admit, I’m addicted. And for once (okay, maybe twice, because I actually don’t mind the shopping thing…), I am okay with it.

 

My Twitter experience started with my inherent need to be knowledgeable about all things marketing. Articles kept popping up, people I respect sang its praises and so I thought, “Why not?”.

 

Well, now I get it. Twitter is great for many reasons, but here’s my top five:

 

  1. It’s like an AP Wire for those of us not in a newsroom. I follow ABC, NPR & ESPN, to name a few. So, when something happens I know right away. And the news is given to me in 140 characters or less! (Once you join Twitter you can decide whom you want to follow. The updates of these Twitterites then show up on your homepage.).
  2. It feeds my need to be knowledgeable about all things marketing. Twitterites are a diverse group. Many tweet links to very interesting articles, etc. that I would probably not find on my own. It’s not just, “I had a salad for dinner and now I’m going to bed” tweets.
  3. I can tweet about what I’m doing, offer food for thought (i.e. Great marketing does not supersede poor customer service.), or forward links to things I think are interesting.  
  4. The 140 character limit forces me to write succinctly.
  5. It’s kinda cool to see what other people do all day.

Yes, this is my list, but let me know your thoughts. I’m sure I’m not by myself…

 

Towanda Long aka mscafe

(my name on Twitter in case you want to follow me)

 

 

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Using the Skills of Your PR Agency

I’ve been debating with a few of my colleagues (not PR professionals) about measuring the effectiveness of a PR agency. My colleagues think media placements are the best way to measure results. I disagree.

PR Agencies are so much more than pitching vehicles for mass and trade media. It is their job to develop and implement a plan that builds a positive relationship with the public. The goal of this relationship is normally to foster goodwill in the office and in the community, to attract clients and to fuel an overall positive perception.

There are many tools a PR Firm can use to do this. Of course, media placements are on the list, but it’s not the only thing. There’s speaking engagements, employee communications, white papers, social media initiatives, sponsorships and the list goes on.

If you are only using your agency for media hits, you are leaving one of your best resources untapped. It’s like going to an accountant once a year for your taxes, but not using him/her for financial and business advice. It just doesn’t make sense.

This is how I think their effectiveness should be measured. What were our sore spots a year ago? Have their initiatives addressed these? Has our image been improved in the marketplace and with our employees? If so, how much so?

These answers tell us if our agency is the right fit. After all, does it really matter how many times we were quoted in the press if our image is the same and we have the same sore spots?

Towanda Long aka Mscafe

(I’m twittering now and mscafe was available, therefore my new alias…)

It’s The Experience

People like experiences. When they go to a restaurant they want good food AND great service. But, they will pay even more for ambiance and to feel special (think The Melting Pot).

 

When people go to a hair salon they want a style that is flattering. But they will pay extra if the salon offers perks (i.e. soothing music and an extra five minute scalp massage).

 

Think about the experience your clients have when they interact with you and your products/services. Then think about how you can make it better.

 

You’ll not only have satisfied customers, you’ll have brand loyalists. People like a brand because they know and like the experience that comes with it. And they’ll talk about it if that experience makes them feel special.

 

Towanda Long aka The Café Lady

 

Hurry Up and Wait

The other night I was shopping when a cashier gave the twenty-minute warning. You know the “XYZ store will be closing in 20 minutes. Please bring your final selections to the register” warning.

 

This sounds like a reasonable request, right? Yeah, I thought so, too. That was until I got to the checkout area.

 

First of all, there was only ONE register open, but there were FOUR employees organizing merchandise on the floor. Okay, do they not see the long line wrapped around the magazines? Do they not see the customers looking at them like “WTF, open a register already.” Is there a reason no one can open another register?

 

Secondly, why does the cashier keep making those announcements every five minutes? Why is she rushing customers to get in line? Her line is already too long and the other employees are STILL organizing the floor… I mean it’s only been 10 minutes, but who’s counting?

 

And lastly, since when did it become more important to clean up the store than to service the customers? I mean really, can you fold those t-shirts when the line gets a little shorter?

 

Here’s the lesson. If you’re going to spend your time, money and energy designing a great store environment and marketing your products, take the time to provide a great shopping experience. And this experience includes everything – from the time your customers enter the store until the time they get in the checkout line until they leave your parking lot and carry your products home. And no one likes to hurry up and wait.

 

Towanda Long aka The Café Lady

What Does Your Follow-Up Say?

A few weeks ago I worked a tradeshow exhibit booth at a convention. While taking my afternoon stroll around the exhibit area (mostly to check out the competition and to find inspiring ideas) I chatted with a possible vendor that was also exhibiting.

 

Her business was a great fit for one of my future marketing projects. I was excited at the possibilities and gave her my contact information. She was to follow-up with me after the show to schedule a meeting.

 

When I hadn’t heard from her in two weeks I figured she must have forgotten about me. I considered calling her, but never got around to it. Over four weeks later she contacted me, but my excitement was gone.

 

Why? Because a call within a week says, “I am on top of my business and I look forward to working with you.” A call within two weeks says, “I am an efficient business person, but not overbearing.”

 

But four weeks? That makes me ask questions. Can I trust her to respond in a timely manner? Will she value my business? Will my products arrive on time? Will she call me with updates? Is she on top of her business details?

 

I’ll still consider a meeting, but my enthusiasm to work with her is gone. Her follow-up has shown me some unflattering things, and she has to overcome that.

 

What does your follow-up say about you?

 

Towanda Long aka The Café Lady

Word Association

Brandtags is a really cool word association game. It shows you a brand and you’re supposed to answer with the first word that comes to your mind.

 

You may be surprised at some of your answers. For instance, Motorola made me think of pagers, then StarTac (Yes, I realize I’m dating myself…).

 

This is definitely an exercise worth the time. Not because of the initial thought you have, but it allows you to think about the many experiences you have had with the brand and how those experiences collectively affected your immediate response.

 

And you’ll think about the consistency of your own brand. Do your clients/colleagues get the same message no matter how they interact with you? Are you always responsive, friendly, efficient (feel free to enter your word here). And if not, what can you do about it?

 

Towanda Long aka The Café Lady

Getting on Wikipedia

One of the things I love about Wikipedia is that its entries can be updated and edited by almost anyone, making it a reference that is usually current and comprehensive (It was a godsend when I had my 80s party last summer!).

 

If you’re unfamiliar with it, the site is an online encyclopedia of sorts. Many of the listings are written by volunteers, and the topics have to be approved by the Wikipedia staff.  This is great because it provides some checks and measures, but it also makes it difficult to get an initial listing for a company or topic. The five pillars include remaining neutral and understanding that all content is free. Plus, the listing should serve the greater good (my addition…).

 

If you’re one of those that haven’t had success getting your topic added this post, Wikipedia Listing, might help. And if you haven’t tried to post your business or article ideas, now might be a good time to try…

 

 

Towanda Long aka The Café Lady