unboxed marketing

group therapy for marketers and business owners

politicking for the people

Posted by Steve Buchholz on April 20, 2009

how important is customer service? how many friends have you told about the poor service you received at a business?

how important is customer service? how many friends have you told about the poor service you received at a business?

Your business is not about you. It’s about your customers and their needs, and that’s what makes customer service so important. The businesses that thrive and are talked about are those that do whatever they can to solve customer problems.

Some politicians even realize this. Especially Pennsylvania state Rep. Kevin Murphy.

Murphy’s Scranton office has installed a drive-through window so constituents can easily ask questions, request services, or just talk to their representative. He staffs the windwo himself certain days of the week. Read and watch the story at WNEP-TV.

That’s great customer service that gets talked about.

Are people talking about you?

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you the product: how not to be hired

Posted by Steve Buchholz on April 19, 2009

you need to nail the interview to land a job in this market. a new website shows you how.

you need to nail the interview to land a job in this market. a new website shows you how.

With more than six million people looking for work right now, employers can choose the best and brightest. Want to be chosen? You must kill the interview.

Here are 22 tips for doing just that, and a bunch of videos that show you what not to do.

Read and watch. It’s worth a few minutes.

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you the product: unboxed self-promotion

Posted by Steve Buchholz on April 17, 2009

pasha stocking isn't content to search for work the same way as everyone else

pasha stocking isn't content to search for work the same way as everyone else

Need a marketer? Try Pasha Stocking.

Pasha is unemployed and looking. But she wasn’t content to job search like the six million other Americans out of work. Pasha’s different.

The Middletown, CT, woman created the Hire Pasha! website and rented a billboard in Bridgeport, CT. Her simple website, which includes Pasha’s resume, testimonials, skills description, and other helpful tidbits.

More than 50,000 people have visited the site, most driven there after seeing the Hire Pasha billboard, located along I-95, one of the busiest roads on the East Coast.

Pasha’s also hit the news. A Google News search turns up 170 results from a wide range of outlets. Large and small papers have picked up her story, and she’s even been covered by foreign-language press

She made an appearance on Fox & Friends Thursday morning and said the strategy has worked. She is considering several job offers and continues to accept others.

You have to love what Pasha’s done. One person with a $2,500 budget has made a whole bunch of people talk. All she needed was a cool idea and the courage to carry it out.

Pasha stands out. Do you?

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the new path to revolution

Posted by Steve Buchholz on April 16, 2009

social networking works! the tax day tea parties are a great example of the power of social media.

social networking works! the tax day tea parties are a great example of the power of social media.

The power of social media was evident today as thousands of people gathered around the country today for anti-tax and anti-big government tea parties.

Regardless of your political leanings, there’s a lesson here for marketers. You can use the Internet and social media to create a movement just like tea party organizers did across the country.  

The first recent tea party (held to mimic the purpose of the Boston Tea Party) was held a couple months ago and received covered from blogs and websites. Momentum built quickly when bloggers with big followings such as Michelle Malkin began pumping the idea.

Someone soon came up with the idea to coordinate a nationwide series of tea parties on April 15, tax day. The result? Websites such as Tea Party Day.com that allowed people in states and cities to connect and organize places, times, and lists of speakers.

That is the power of social media. Good ideas spread, Powerful ideas that resonate spread quickly. And none of this stuff is difficult to do. Websites, blogs, discussion boards, and other social networking tools can be set up quickly and with little or no expense. (This blog, for example, costs nothing as all.) That makes these tools accessible to anyone willing to spend a little time learning.  

What’s especially interesting about the tea party movement (that might be too strong a term) is that no one is in charge. There’s no tea party CEO or someone responsible for running the show. It’s just a bunch of people with similar interests who found social media to be an easy way to connect and organize.

Think about the power in that. What if your customers were connected and communicated with each other and with others. Seth Godin calls this creating tribes, and there’s no more powerful way to create evangelists who will promote your business for you.     

First, you need to offer products and services worth talking about.

Do you?

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easter marketing surprise

Posted by Steve Buchholz on April 15, 2009

fountain springs community church gets marketing and can teach all business owners a lesson or three

fountain springs community church gets marketing and can teach all business owners a lesson or three

 

 

Here’s a marketing lesson from a church that gets it.

My bride and our son went to Fountain Springs Community Church for an Easter egg hunt the day before the holiday. They arrived and signed in around 10:15 a.m., battled the giggling torrent of other egg hunters for treat-filled plastic treasures, and ate a lot of candy. In other words, it was a great day.

At 2:46 p.m. the SAME DAY, we received the following email:

Friends –
Thank you so much for making the 1st Annual Easter Egg Hunt at Fountain Springs Community Church SO MUCH FUN!
We had a blast meeting you and your kiddos and are so thankful that you were able to be a part of our special event!

We want to invite you to spend Easter Sunday with us too.

If you don’t already have a church you regularly attend – we have worship gatherings tomorrow at 8:00am, 9:30am, and 11:00am.

Mr. Bradley (aka “the Bunny”) and Miss Kasey will be there to help lead Kids’ Rock for the kids, we’ll have fresh Starbucks coffee waiting for you in the lobby, and we would love to share the amazing Easter story with you during our service times.

So – thanks for joining us today and come on over! We’d love to see you again tomorrow morning!

 

Business owners should be impressed by the quick turnaround on a good lead. How long does it take you to respond to a potential customer who leaves her contact information? I’ll bet it’s more than 4 1/2 hours.

We also should congratulate the church for the email itself. It won’t turn off non-Christians since it’s not preachy, and it won’t alienate members of other churches because it isn’t trying to pull anyone out of one pew and into another. The email is just a nice note that opens the door to a relationship. Awesome.

So what’s the lesson for marketers? First, do things to bring potential customers to your business. This church held a free Easter egg hunt open to anyone from the community. Just as important, there weren’t any covert salesmen lurking in the hallways. What kind of non-sales event can you have at your business? 

Second, don’t sell from a position of desperation. Customers know it when you’re trying too hard, and it comes across as odd. People are sick of being sold to, anyway. They would much rather create a meaningful relationship with you and your business. Can you do that with your customers?

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u.s. navy hits its mark

Posted by Steve Buchholz on April 14, 2009

the u.s. navy put on an amazing show near somalia this week when they rescued a merchant marine

the u.s. navy put on an amazing show near somalia this week when they rescued a merchant marine

In my newspaper reporting days, I interviewed members of the Thunderbirds, the U.S. Air Force stunt-flying team. The Thunderbirds put on an incredible show, and they are a powerful recruting tool for the Air Force.

However, the excitement they create is nothing compared to the show the U.S. Navy put on Sunday. According to news reports, three Navy seals sniped the three pirates holding a U.S. merchant marine hostage off the coast of Somalia.

The seals didn’t just toll out of bed and shoot the bad guys from a Navy ship as the pirates tried to hide aboard a bopping vessel. The seals parachuted into the ocean–at night–and were scooped from the sea before accomplishing their mission.

Talk about a recruiting tool. This is spy novel stuff that effectively sells the Navy to potential recruits. 

There’s a lesson here for marketers, of course. Be awesome. Do something memorable.

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swing away

Posted by Steve Buchholz on April 12, 2009

marketers need to learn from athletes and be willing to fail in spectacular ways
marketers need to learn from athletes and be willing to fail in spectacular ways

 

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson both came up short down the stretch of the Masters golf tournament today as they tried to catch the tournament leader. Millions watched on TV. The live crowd groaned.

Watching, I was struck more than ever by how publicly golfers are forced to fail.

Of course, golfers and other athletes are forced to fail in public because they perform in front of us. They also have to try. A golfer isn’t going to pick up her ball and walk away when she’s down by two on the 17th green. A quarterback won’t head to locker room during a timeout while driving for a winning touchdown during a two-minute drill. Athletes have to try.

There’s a lesson here for marketers.   

Marketing folks can avoid major failures by not trying. We cannot pursue the innovative product or promotional idea we dream of, or we can decide not to push hard enough for the resources needed to execute a great advertising campaign. We can decide that OK is good enough because exceptional will take a few more hours and require leadership we aren’t willing to give.  

Those are failures by omission. Athletes fail during commission. Marketers should do the same.

We need to get over our fear of failure. We need to insulate our personal feelings from the sting of criticism. We need to remain focused on serving customers and meeting their needs. If we want to do those things really well, if we want to break through the clutter, we need to take risks. We need to be willing to miss.

 

We need to stare down that tough shot when it’s all on the line. And we need to swing.

 

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viral before it was cool

Posted by Steve Buchholz on April 6, 2009

george creel was creating viral campaigns before the phrase existed

george creel was creating viral campaigns before the phrase existed

George Creel created a successful viral campaign decades before viral described anything desirable.

Creel was the architect of the campaign that built American support to enter World War I. Using a coordinated set of strategies that would make any viral marketer proud, Creel convinced a critical mass of Americans that war the right and honorable choice.

Creel’s story is the subject of Alan Axelrod’s new book: Selling the Great War: The Making of American Propaganda. It’s great stuff that’s worth reading.

You can find an interview with the author at reason.com.

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don’t forget the manipulators

Posted by Steve Buchholz on April 5, 2009

most marketing is manipulative, but that's a losing proposition as markets change

most marketing is manipulative, but that's a losing proposition as markets change

I recently commented on a Darren Rose post over at ProBlogger where Darren wrote that most marketing is manipulative. Here’s what I said in response:

Darren: You write that marketing tends to try to manipulate. I don’t think that’s correct. That certainly was true in the past, during the golden age of mass markets and mass advertising. But those days are gone.

The inter-connectedness of markets has (appropriately) drive a stake through the heart of that system. Poor marketing continues to embrace those failing strategies, and those attempts are–as you say–manipulative.

However, more and more marketers have seen the light, and are trying to do things better. We’re trying to create products for people rather than finding people for our products. And we’re trying to connect with customers in meaningful, honest ways.

That’s not manipulative at all. And it’s the future of marketing success.

I’m having second thoughts about this. I stand by my thoughts about the future of marketing and the need to erase all manipulation from the craft. However, I think I’m wrong about most current marketing not being manipulative.

Spend a bit of time watching TV commercials (use your DVR to fast-forward through the show), and it’s hard to disagree with Darren. Almost every commercial is full of crap. During one half-hour show on FitTV, I saw obviously manipulative commercials for:

  • Two competing amazing weight-loss drugs
  • A body-cleansing product that remove all impurities from your system
  • A product that will keep even the cheapest razors sharp forever
  • An exercise machine that makes it easy to lose weight.

All those spots are attacking your emotions and your desire to be a better person, but they clearly fall into the too-good-to-be-true category. And for someone vulnerable–for whatever reason–can easily be taken in. That’s not to say the products don’t work; it’s just that the promotional approach is meant to manipulate.

I predict this advertising approach will stop working. Consumers have so much access to information and peer reviews, they can know everything about every product and service you offer. As a result, businesses will need to increase the level of honesty.

Customers will find you out if you don’t.

Posted in marketing | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

what business wins?

Posted by Steve Buchholz on April 3, 2009

customers expect excellent service, so you better deliver it

customers expect excellent service, so you better deliver it

Here is a tale of two ways to perform customer service. Which business would you look forward to doing business with again?

Business 1: We purchased more than $300 worth of pizza from a chain pizza  joint yesterday. When we picked up the order, the counter person asked, ‘What, no tip? For an order this big?” The person’s tone made it clear how little she thought of us and the business we brought to her establishment.

Business 2: Today, we ordered a large number of sandwiches, chips, and cookies from Pauly’s a locally owned sub shop. The food looked and tasted, each package was labeled, and the big order was ready on time. An hour after lunch, the sub shop called to ask how everything was and how satisfied we were. They did not call to ask why we didn’t tip.

Who wins? Maybe they both made money this week, but who will profit day in and day out.

How many people wouldn’t return to Business 1? How many would look forward to buying something else from Business 2?

Excellent customer service is not rocket science. It doesn’t take much effort. But, boy, does it matter.

What kind of service are you delivering to your customers?

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