Make Sure Your Customers Encounter What Your Marketing Message Promises

By Karen Carrea, TrizCom PR

This post originally appeared on SocialCentiv.com

Everyone loves a good vacation – a great hotel, delicious restaurants and fun sites to see.

You research, read reviews, peruse the websites and sit down to book the perfect getaway. Only when the time comes, you encounter surly staff, a room in great need of an update and restaurants much pricier than expected.

Bad experiences are especially bad when the expectation was for fabulous!

As consumers, we run into these issues every day – restaurants, car dealers, rental cars, stores. The old bait and switch. The great reviews posted by the business itself. The service not nearly as helpful as was promised in the ad and Facebook post.

One of the fastest ways to lose faith with your customers is to overpromise and under deliver. As a consumer, we know this. As a business, it’s too hard to fix the problems on the inside, and too easy to bill yourself as something you’re not.

This is called message misalignment, and it means not only do you have to work harder to find a new customer to replace the one you just turned away, you have to work extra hard to recover from all the lost customers the angry one repeats his story to.

The problem by the numbers

Just how hard do you have to work to recover from message misalignment? HelpScoutoffers some telling stats:

  • It is 6-7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep a current one.
  • The probability of selling to a new prospect: 5-20 percent; the probability of selling to an existing customer: 60-70 percent.
  • It takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one resolved negative experience.
  • A typical business hears from 4 percent of its dissatisfied customers – which means there are 96 percent out there you don’t know about but who are likely talking badly about you. And news of bad customer service reaches more than twice as many ears as praise for a good service experience.

The takeaway: You’ll expend a lot more money, energy and effort to hook a new customer than you’ll spend keeping a loyal one. In fact, customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase. So why would you want to send them away?

The solution

If you recognize yourself as the company that overpromises and under delivers, here are some immediate first steps you can take toward message realignment:

    1. Define who you are. Work with your team, including marketing, to decide what words describe the kind of company you want to be. Then live up to them. Only use those words you can credibly claim in your public relations, social media and customer service endeavors.

      2. Identify problems on the inside. Now you need to fix the tougher issues that you want to claim but can’t quite live up to. Are you getting feedback that employees are rude? Invest in surveys and training to figure out the problem and work on it. Are your prices clear? Make sure you are transparent with customers about what they can expect to pay.

        3. Integrate your marketing messages. That is, make sure the overall message is consistent across all of your communication channels – including social media. You want your audience to hear the same message with the same tone no matter how they’re getting the information. The message will look different depending on what channel you’re using – print ads are going to look different than a direct mail piece which will be different from an Instagram post which will look different from a Tweet or Facebook post. Same message, just different configurations.

          4. Engage your audience with social media. Direct marketing and advertising are important marketing components, but only go in one direction. Social media has the potential benefit of two-way communication. In fact, Twitter holds extraordinary promise to find new customers by searching for Tweets related to your business and @replying directly with a comment or discount.

            5. Watch for reviews – good and bad. You want to thank and reward customers who have good things to say, and you want to take an opportunity for service recovery if someone is unhappy. HelpScout says more than 50 percent of customers will try a new brand or company for a better experience. That’s good news! A great example comes from lululemon’s product site. They get a gold star for responding to negative comments with an apology for the customer’s frustration and an appeal to take the conversation offline to work toward a solution.

            “But I’m not Tech Savvy Enough to use Analytics”

            Don’t Let Yourself Be Intimidated by this Necessary Tool

            By Nikki Darling, TrizCom PR

            For my non-tech savvy or number-friendly friends, the word “analytics” may sound a bit daunting … and rightly so. Data and analytics are a relatively new concept in the context of everyday use for everyday people. The concept can be a bit scary and overwhelming. However, they are of the utmost importance, especially now. As our world becomes even more digitally based, being able to track progress in all manners through numbers and data is necessary to deem a project, campaign, etc. a success.

            It’s our job as publicists to not only secure placements and coverage for clients, but to report on successes. However, we like to do this with more than just a list of wins – it means showing the meaning of those wins. How many website visits did it mean? What was the overall reach? How did it impact ticket sales or Facebook likes? Did it improve overall brand sentiment? Geographically, where did media wins have the most impact?

            As a client, using analytics is important for you too. You can directly see how public relations efforts affect your organization and your goals.

            The word analytics is also such a broad term, it could mean anything. But the best place to start is with social media analytics (likes, followers, comments, overall sentiment) and website analytics (traffic, bounce rate, unique visitors, user demographics). These data sets will give you the base knowledge of not only what your followers like about you and your organization, but who exactly your regular consumers are.

            Still feel a bit daunting? That’s OK. There’s a learning curve associated with learning how to use and understand analytics, but once you do, you’ll be thanking yourself. If you don’t already have analytics set up with your website, here are some of the top recommended analytic tools to check out:

            •  Google Analytics: If you have nothing else, set up Google Analytics. You will see Google Analytics at the top of every list about analytics and for good reason – it’s the most comprehensive analytics tool. Plus it’s automatically connected with Google. Don’t be intimidated. If you’re not familiar with analytics, once you spend some time with it and maybe watch a YouTube tutorial or two, you’ll be good to go.
            • HootSuite Analytics: This is good for tracking social data. Should you already use HootSuite to manage your social accounts, connect with HootSuite Analytics.
            • WordPress Analytics Plug-ins: Many sites are run off of a WordPress. Thankfully WordPress has a number of analytics plug-ins you can use to track your website data.
              1. Jetpack
              2. WP Power Stats
              3. Clicky by Yoast

            Any sort of analytics tool only makes you more knowledgeable about how your organization is performing. Not only that, but it allows your PR team to gain deeper insights into how PR efforts are affecting the bottom line as well as what tactics are working and which ones aren’t. You also gain a better understanding of who you are targeting and reaching, thus empowering you with data and knowledge to back up business decisions. Analytics are your friends.

             

            Using Publicity to Get What You Really Want

            By Jeff Cheatham, Senior Account Manager at TrizCom PR

            Successful companies simply can’t compete in today’s business world without a strategic corporate communications plan. Perhaps it’s traditional advertising. Or maybe a large-scale marketing platform complete with experiential programming. It may even include a heavy rotation of digital acumen in the world of website conversion points coupled with a social media blitz.

            But how do consumer and business-to-business audiences react to the trustworthiness of these aforementioned initiatives? Fortunately, we have some fresh statistics to share from the global data company Statista Research & Analysis, Inc.

            When it comes to consumer trust (and moreover, belief), public relations and media outreach efforts ranked fifth out of 19 polled categories ranging from word-of-mouth to Internet banner ads. Sixty-three percent of respondents reported that hearing about a product or service as a result of public relations and media outreach earned their trust. The highest level was word-of-mouth at 82 percent. The lowest level of trustworthiness was reserved for text ads on mobile phones—rated at just 37 percent.

            At TrizCom, we once had a client explain to us exactly what he needed in terms of value from our partnership. “I need articles in reputable publications that mention our company…something that our sales team can then take with them into new business meetings and show that we’re a respected voice in this industry vertical.” This is the perfect example of using publicity to get what you really want. Whether it’s business-to-consumer or business-to-business, incremental sales and increased profit margins are almost always the final justification for entering into a PR partnership.

            This justification directly effects how we work on behalf of our clients. You really have to put yourself in your client’s proverbial shoes to see whether or not your public relations efforts are truly serving to benefit them. We’ve done some excellent work on behalf of convenient health care and freestanding ER clients, but often had to forego higher visibility opportunities simply because we realized these storylines weren’t going to add up to an additional patient walking through their doors. But by focusing on hyperlocal media strategies, we could reach the soccer moms out there who make health care decisions in the middle of the night when their kids get sick. It all comes back to incremental business.

            If your business is looking into whether or not a public relations campaign is the right fit for your organization’s goals, ask yourself if publicity can get you what you really want. We’re betting it can.

            Five Things I Learned From Franchise Marketing

            By Guest Blogger Tammy Cancela, General Manager, Marketing Executive - Franchise Marketing, Marketing to Women, B:B/B:C

            This post originally appeared on LinkedIn

            For nearly a decade, we've helped businesses expand by preparing them to sell franchises as well as providing marketing services to franchisors and franchisee cooperatives (coops).  In one case, we played a pivotal role in doubling the size of a leading franchise in a major market and in others, we helped to establish complete franchisee marketing systems. 

            Spending all this time working closely with dozens of franchisors and franchisees has taught us a few things about franchise marketing: 

            1. Franchises that invest in the future while keeping investors happy in the present are the most successful. Franchisors and their investors generate profit by selling units and nurturing franchisees, and by selling their stake in the business.  As long as the number of units keep growing and the individual franchises do well, they don’t really have to invest a great deal in things like developing new products or services or marketing the brand itself.  Franchisors who develop new offerings in anticipation of slowing franchise unit sales, maturing business models or competitive threats are the ones that can sustain the system’s business growth and protect their franchisee’s investments.  Potential franchisees should look for models and franchisors who show a commitment to the future of the business to mitigate risk in their own businesses.
            2. Prospective franchisees should get to know the other owners in their market, as they will all succeed – or fail – together.  Franchisees in a given market are interdependent on all the other owners to make their marketing work whether they like it or not.  Everything a franchisee does is amplified by being part of a system and is a reflection not only on the brand but also on all the other units in the market.  If one owner decides that it’s OK to print his own signage on pink paper rather than using approved signage that is professionally printed and displayed, all of the locations suffer.  But by the same token, if all the local franchisees decide to, say, support a single charity, that action is amplified, too. It definitely pays for franchisees to know one another and band together for marketing and operational support if they can.
            3. Franchisees know their own markets and can funnel critical information to the franchisor…if there are formal and informal pathways to receive it. Franchisors must walk a fine line between keeping a strong grip on the processes, products/services and brand they know will make the franchisee’s businesses successful and limiting the franchisee’s free operation of their business.  The truth is that franchisees operate day in and day out on the front lines of the business and generally have a superior understanding of the market, competition and customers at the local market level.  Franchisors that take franchisee’s feedback through both formal and informal channels and understand the value of that feedback are way ahead of the pack.
            4. Franchisee success equals system success. Franchisees have often invested their life savings or 401K balance in their franchise.  In short, the business must succeed or the franchisee could be ruined personally.  This is the enormous responsibility that a franchisor assumes when he sells a unit.  Respect for individual unit owners is the mother’s milk that helps them grow strong and tall.
            5. Other than running their own units, hiring a local market consultant or partner is one of the hardest things franchisees will have to do together.  The first time a franchisee coop hires professionals to help them on anything (from marketing to sales training), the decision can be fraught with fear and friction among the members.  How much should they pay?  Are they getting a good deal?  What firms or consultants will be a good fit?  How can they get all the owners on the same page? Can they legally contract as a group?

             I’ll tackle some of these questions in my next post. 

            The Barber Shop Marketing, winner of the AWM Agency of the Year in 2014, is a full service marketing agency headquartered in Dallas, Texas.

            The Mask of Social Media

            By Dana Cobb, Director, Business Development & Senior Account Executive at TrizCom Public Relations

            Oscar Wilde was once quoted as saying, “Man is least himself when he walks in his own person. Give him a mask and he will tell you the truth.”

            It seems that we have always been more comfortable expressing ourselves from behind a mask. However, with the advent of rampant technological communication, sometimes the masks people wear when they are online, texting or via email actually muddy the tone and create misperception in messaging. This masquerade ball that is social media is absolutely the most dangerous of all.

            Facebook has been linked to depression and also has been described as a haven for narcissists. Instagram, and the widespread use of "filtering," has raised concerns about how these digitally altered photos leave many people feeling envious or bad about themselves.

            However, the habit of social media has become a way of functioning. We wake up, have coffee, check Facebook, go to work, Instagram at lunch, check email, Snapchat, etc. But what if we were more mindful about what we are posting and why we are posting it? What if we took one small part of impulsivity out of the equation? Create a space between thought and action.  Many people and companies have seen their brand compromised because someone didn’t do just that. The examples are endless.

            Personally and in business, here are five questions that you can ask yourself that may shift your decision to share content, pictures or thoughts:

            1) Why this?

                            What’s the intention behind the post? Take a pause. Internally inquire.

            2) Who will see this?

                            Is this a company account? Is this appropriate for your intended audience?

            3) Can it be misunderstood or bring about unhelpful controversy?

                            Tone is tricky. You must be mindful.

            4) Is this MY news to share?

            Don’t blow a big announcement, especially someone else’s. Embargo until you have permission to share.

            5) If commenting on an article, did you read the whole thing?

            It becomes fairly obvious when someone doesn’t read an entire article before commenting. Be informed.

            One tried and true rule that has stood the test of time needs to be applied no matter what mask you may or may not be wearing on social media – the Golden Rule of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

            Shortage of Trained Workers Big Challenge: How Marketers Can Help

            By Guest Blogger Tammy Cancela, General Manager, Marketing Executive - Franchise Marketing, Marketing to Women, B:B/B:C

            This post originally appeared on LinkedIn

            Despite a robust local economy in several markets where we compete, the growth curves of many businesses have been dampened considerably from a shortage of trained workers. We’ve seen this directly in categories as widely dispersed as health and wellness, home services and restaurants over the last several quarters. 

            Interestingly, while several areas of the economy and specific geographic markets have yet to return to full employment, these labor shortages persist.  

            How can marketers help? 

            In many cases, the answer is as direct as identifying trained workers as a target audience and going about the process of marketing employment to them. Note that I said “direct” and not “simple”.  We must consider the life stage and needs of the target worker, whether there is an educated workforce in place in the company’s trade zone, what the competition is doing to woo workers and what the company may need to offer to be competitive.  We may also need to walk through the hiring process to ensure it is as pleasant and fulfilling as workers desire.  After all, even if we aren’t able to hire a candidate, we want him to walk away as a promoter.  The process is generally so expensive as to nearly mandate that we squeeze as much out of it as we can. 

            In a recent case, one of our clients experienced a lack of trained workers so severe that it quite literally stopped the growth of the industry in its tracks. In order to break the log jam, we began to recruit people who might one day be interested in training for the field.  We worked with schools to make the transition from inquiry to school to employment as simple, fast and cost effective as it could be within a high quality training environment. And, among other tactics,  we used social media to create an online gathering place where prospective students – and ultimately employees – could communicate, share ideas, ask questions and access all the information they needed to explore the industry and find a school.  While this a longer term approach, it was absolutely necessary given the circumstance. 

            Have you experienced similar labor shortages? Is marketing involved in finding solutions in your company or for your clients? 

            I’d love to hear your stories.

            The Barber Shop Marketing, winner of the AWM Agency of the Year in 2014, is a full service marketing agency headquartered in Dallas, Texas.

            Adopt, Don’t Shop - October is National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month

            By Katie Mudd, TrizCom PR

            Heidi and Coco Mudd

            Heidi and Coco Mudd

            Team TrizCom has furry friends adopted from shelters across the country, including a few from our client Operation Kindness – North Texas’ original and largest no-kill animal shelter. When it comes time to add a furry friend to your family, keep in mind the many perks of adopting a dog from your local animal shelter. 

            Shelter dogs come in many different ages, sizes and breeds. In fact, purebred dogs can make up nearly 30 percent of the animals surrendered to shelters each year. If you are looking for a specific kind of dog, do your research and check local shelters – there’s a very high chance that they will have exactly what you’re looking for at a fraction of the cost if you were to purchase directly from a breeder.

            Most animal shelters ensure dogs are in good health before they are adopted by providing routine healthcare such as vaccinations, wellness exams and treatment for other medical conditions. In larger shelters, there’s a chance of taking in an animal with a contagious disease, but any reputable shelter will be fully equipped to treat the animal. When visiting your local animal shelter, don’t hesitate to ask the medical staff, volunteers and adoption counselors about any health issues the pet may have and medical services the shelter may offer. 

            Shelters, unlike breeders and pet stores, are equipped to supply much more information about their animals up for adoption. Many shelters rely on foster families to care for animals before they are available for adoption. Foster families are then able to interact with the animal at home to determine the personality, behavior traits and development of the pet – providing a very detailed history. Animals placed directly into the shelter interact with the shelter staff and volunteers on a daily basis – who are more than happy to tell adopters everything they know about the pet to place it in the perfect home. 

            The fee to adopt a shelter dog may seem expensive, but adopters must keep in mind that the fee helps defer the costs of caring for animals: expenses that include food, medicine, vaccinations, microchips, tests, spay and neuter surgeries, medical procedures, rehabilitation and recovery. If you found a puppy and took it to a vet to have it fixed, vaccinated, wormed and started on flea control and heartworm preventative, the cost would be triple the amount of most adoption fees.

            Did you know that in 2015, Operation Kindness saved the lives of 4,519 animals, and with the use of the on-site medical hospital, the no-kill shelter provided care to over 5,000 animals, many of which would have been euthanized? Last year Operation Kindness performed 5,163 surgeries; 13,169 exams; 1,587 spays and 1,541 neuters; provided more than $83,000 worth of medicine and served 328,000 meals.

            Operation Kindness – unlike other nonprofits – does not receive funding from the government, instead relying solely on funds from donations, grants and adoption fees to care for homeless animals. As Operation Kindness continues to expand their services to save more lives, their expenses grow as well. Founded in 1976, Operation Kindness is the original and largest no-kill shelter in North Texas. Its mission is to care for homeless cats and dogs in a no-kill environment until each is adopted into responsible homes and to advocate humane values and behavior. In 2016, Operation Kindness is celebrating their 40th anniversary and their achievement of saving more than 80,000 animals since their inception.

            Stayed tuned to TrizCom’s social channels to find photos of the dogs of TrizCom throughout the month of October.

            Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Clown Class

            By Jennifer Kuenzer, TrizCom PR

            I taught myself to juggle. Really juggle. Not because I decided it would be fun to frustrate my uncoordinated self by tossing, tracking and catching three beanbags through the air in a continuing circular pattern, but for a circus skills class I was taking. After weeks of what felt like constant failure, not only did I learn how to juggle, but I also learned how to take a fall and to ride a unicycle. Yes, those are all stunts, but the fundamentals of clowning taught me how to keep my cool and be ready for anything in my day-to-day life. Consider:

            I’m fine. Totally fine.

            I’m fine. Totally fine.

            • Pratfalls. How to get knocked on our keisters and get up again like nothing happened. The big secret is to remain aware: anticipate, relax and keep your knees bent. You get knocked down and you fall into it, and treat it like a bounce. Before you know it, you’re back on your feet. Sometimes you get a little bruised, but it’s nothing you won’t recover from. Real world application: If you anticipate change, you’re more prepared for it when it comes. So you fall into it. You make the necessary adjustments to deal with whatever happens, you “keep your knees bent,” meaning you stay flexible, and a great bounce back makes everyone think maybe you had it planned all along.
            Me for the first two weeks of the unicycle unit.

            Me for the first two weeks of the unicycle unit.

            • Riding a unicycle. It’s all about balance, obviously, but it’s also about knowing the importance of support. Without my fellow clowns, I would never have been able to get on the unicycle in the first place, and without a nice strong wall, I wouldn’t have been able to stay up long enough to find that balance, let alone use it to propel myself down the hall and wobble make my way back up again. Real world application: Finding your balance takes time, patience and support, but it pays off big-time in team morale and personal strength.
            I never did get to this level. Few do.

            I never did get to this level. Few do.

            • Juggling. You start with one ball. You pop your wrist and send that ball from one hand to the other. Catch, release, catch, release. Add the second ball, repeat. Add the third ball. And fail for weeks while you try to keep all three in a rotation where you are aware – at all times – of where each ball is as you keep them in motion. The first time you get a good rotation going, you feel on top of the world! And before you know it, you drop them and you’re back to square one. This is the danger zone: you want that success again so badly that you get frustrated, push too hard and go too fast. The key? Focus and breathing. Recognize it is a process. You will drop a ball. Pick it up, start over and don’t beat yourself up. Frustration will only slow you down, and you want to get to where you can move from beanbags to hoops, to bowling pins, to steak knives(!). Real world application? Easy: focus, breathe and don’t rush. You’ll get there faster than you think.

            No joke – some of the best experiences I’ve had in the professional world had a groundwork laid in clowning. So if you’re feeling frazzled or stuck, why not grab a few beanbags on the way home and teach yourself to juggle? Fine, maybe you already know everything about focus, breathing and patience; maybe you just need new way to de-stress that really works, and juggling does … Especially once you get to those steak knives.