Two frequent traveler friends of mind shared the very same funny parody video of a fictitious hotel chain. If you’re someone who’s been on the road more than you’d care to, you will be chuckling at this video within the first few scenes. Benefits many hotels tout as their gold standard services are ribbed here, from room service awkwardness, too-low shower heads, to turn down service at the worst possible times. I’ve included the link below.
After watching that video, I wondered if any of the executives in charge of service initiatives at the leading hotel chains had seen this. If they had, did they just laugh it off... or did they take some of it to heart?
What if they truly listened to some of these points, and made sure some of these things never happened in their hotels? Cling-wrapped water glasses, over-zealous front desk reps, can’t find light switches, room temp reliability, and others.
Great service companies take customer digs and complaints and turn them into opportunities. They show they listen with action and improvements. And if they’re smart, they market those improvements.
So what have people kidded about with YOUR BUSINESS that could be improved?
If you’re NOT hearing any complaints, when was the last time you asked? “How was everything with your last order… your last interaction with us?” If you don’t ask, you don’t get feedback. And when you do get feedback, how do you respond… positively and negatively? (People judge you by HOW you respond either way.)
Surveying clients occasionally through tools like Survey Monkey (which will even tally your responses for you) can help you better gauge feedback… and intervene when things don’t go as perfectly as you planned, or as they expected. Worst case scenario: You delivered. They were disappointed. They go elsewhere. You don’t know why. (Hopefully, before someone cleverly writes a parody video or makes a joke like this one about YOUR business. Or you're a victim of a nasty Yelp review that never goes away.)
Ask how you’re doing. And you shall receive feedback.
Here’s to a good laugh watching this video, and even better sales by listening to your customers.
Dear Supplier... here's what we need to market your products. Love, Distributors
One of the biggest questions I receive from my promotional products supplier clients is, “What can I do to get distributors and their sales reps selling my products?”
After years of working for two large suppliers, and now owning a business that helps both suppliers and distributors market themselves… the answer is… “Ask them.” So here’s what I learned distributors like, want and aren’t getting from most suppliers out there:
Case histories. How do we sell these products? Give us examples of what works for other buyers. Who’s buying them? What’s the strategy behind it? How did it work? What were the results?
Remember: these folks are NOT selling products… they are selling SOLUTIONS, scenarios, results. They are busy. They want to be good storytellers…. but they need good cliff notes! So help them tell your story in sales presentations and in their social media storytelling with good case histories.
(Yeah, we know it’s hard to do since you often don’t know the whole story.) So why not have a distributor case history contest? Offer future order dollars or self promo product as your prizes. It’s win-win!
Be sure you receive the distributor AND buyer's permission before you publish anything, particularly if you are showing the product with their logo.
Social Media that doesn't SELL. Have you seen the social media posts from many suppliers out there? They are posts that sell, sell, sell. Specials. Product pitches. Buy this. Push, push, PUSH. What do distributors need? Specials, sure – once in a while. But remember again – they’re BUSY. They want posts they can cut and paste. Worded FOR their end user clients, not to the distributor. Show buyers how to use your product. Why it’s a great vehicle. Types of campaigns it works best for. Be as specific as you can.
How you say it can also make a difference. Write it in a warm, friendly kind of way... me to you. It’s called SOCIAL media for a reason. One person to another. Familiar, not formal. Write like you talk. And show a great photo of that product in use. It doesn’t have to be catalog perfect… a lifestyle shot of the product in use is even better, even if taken on your smartphone.
Then create an archive of suggested social media posts your distributors can use when they're stuck for time. Create an "easy button" for them to promote you.
3 Types of Photos. It is a visual world today. (Sorry, fellow copywriters. Pictures attract. Short copy sells.) People look at pictures, then read captions and short stories, not novels. So distributors need photos to tell your story. When shooting your catalog, consider these three suggestions at the same time:
1. That great product shot, along with different angles of the product, particularly to show off imprint areas.
3. Group shots of products. Yes, in traditional photo sizes… but also Facebook banner size - 820 pixels wide by 312 pixels tall on computers and 640 pixels wide by 360 pixels tall on smartphones. (Or for us non-techie folks... 4" wide X 1-1/2" tall.)
You see, many distributors are looking for that big main header photograph for their Facebook page, so they can refresh it often. They want to see multiple products beautifully displayed to fit that Facebook cover shot area that show what they do. Give them that, and you could be the centerpiece shot of your key distributors' Facebook page. Who doesn’t want THAT exposure? (Believe me… very few suppliers provide photography in this size – with multiple products – for this area. You will be a hero, and their Facebook billboard.)
Videos. Show us how your product works. Who uses it. Features. Benefits. It doesn’t have to be fancy, even if it’s just one person in your office demonstrating it.
Make it short and sweet. 30 seconds to under a minute. And please, please, please edit it so their clients can see it, without any phone number or address of yours. It has to be client-friendly, talking to that audience, to be used.
Promote the promotion.
Whatever you provide, just make sure distributors and reps know about it... and, they are easily found. Feature them prominently on your home page. Promote what you have available in your email signatures. In your email blasts. On your Message on-hold recordings. Have your customer service reps and sales reps mention them every time they can. Frequency sells. Just let them know they're there. YOU know you have them. Most times, they DON'T.
Too busy? If you're that "one-armed paperhanger" doing it all yourself, or have just a small lean and mean team running your day-to-day operations, or don't have the creative resources in-house to get these ideas done... hire a college intern from a marketing program. Look for a budding copywriter to write for you or a film student dying to build up their portfolios with corporate videos. Tell them what you have in mind. And put them to work for a minimum investment that can be a real win-win for both of you.
And if you'd rather use professional help to develop marketing tools like these... that's available too, for perhaps less than you think. All you have to do is ask (wink, wink)... and you'll be investing in a much better distributor following.
How do YOU stand out?
Yesterday I proudly and tearfully watched as my hometown team - the Philadelphia Eagles - celebrated their first Super Bowl World Championship win ever. Victorious ultimate underdogs. With a grassroots celebration that oozed with hometown heart, done Philly style. Yes, we do things differently here.
Unconventionally. Boldly. We eat our soft pretzels with mustard. Our favorite convenient stores are called "Wawa", named after a wild goose. Our national treasure is a cracked bell. Our New Year's parade costumes are, well, covered in sequins and feathers. This place has a big city feel with a small town attitude. Brotherly love with enormous passion.
And although I am not normally a football fan (I am a pro-Philly fan,) I abandoned my laptop to watch the victory parade on TV, live. Through cheers, chuckles and tears, I savored the joy erupting from the fans, coaches and players. It was a soul-filling experience. But as with most events for me, the marketer eventually emerges.
And with that marketing hat on, I noticed several things that really stood out. People, actually. People who made an impact on me - and the crowd - in different ways.
The first person I noticed was Chris Long, a Defensive End, dressed in a full-length faux fur coat and red Allen Iverson jersey. Chris was one of the Eagles players to initiate the Underdog masks worn during the playoff games prior to the Bowl, igniting an entire legion of Underdog crusaders who did the same. He stood out. He wore the symbol of his movement, before and after. Made a statement. And truly rocked that full length faux fur at the parade in style.
Another player I noticed was dressed in anything but Eagles attire - rather, in a full Mummer's costume (the New Year's Day themed parade-wear here in Philly.) Center Jason Kelce was costumed - head-to-toe - as a Leprechaun Sultan, borrowed from one of the past Mummer's parades from an Avalon String Band member.
Boy, did he stand out. Not simply because he was dressed more outlandishly than anyone else, or in Philadelphia Mummery, but that he seemed to be having more fun than everyone else. Kelce was one of the first players to step OFF the parade bus en route, dance and chant with fans, ride police bikes and crowd surf with the fans, all without losing the turban. Even the Philadelphia Police Department tweeted he was having the most parade fun of anybody.
But the highlight was... Kelce's gut-wrenchingly fan-reveling speech that fueled the entire crowd at the end of the ceremony. His unexpected 4-minute rant about his Underdog colleagues riveted and riled the audience as one of the best speeches in Philadelphia history. (A speech that Coach Pederson later said would probably lead to the city erecting another Rocky statue dedicated to him.) It was that good. His speech is below.
And then there were the more silent standouts. Some of the men who emerged as pillars the entire year with their own quiet leadership and sense of sportsmanship. First, Head Coach Peterson (who I will vote as the best dressed celebrity at the parade. So chic, classic black, a touch of an athletic collar, with the smooth style of a tapered wool coat on top. Not a stand out in color, but his style? Dashing.) He commanded respect all season long by his perseverance, love of team, and bold don't-take-the-foot-off-the-gas strategy.
And finally, the outstanding humility of our winning fill-in quarterback, Nick Foles, now Superbowl MVP. His attitude stands out. His faith stands out. His love of God and family stand out. And while he wasn't the most electrifying speechmaker or dresser this season, he was perhaps the best teacher and influencer of all. In an interview just after the Superbowl win, he said,
"I think the big thing is don't be afraid to fail," Foles said. "Failure is a part of life. That's a part of building character and growing. Without failure, who would you be? I wouldn't be up here if I hadn't fallen thousands of times. Made mistakes. We all are human, we all have weaknesses, and I think throughout this, just being able to share that and be transparent. I know when I listen to people speak and they share their weaknesses, I'm listening. Because I can resonate."
"So I'm not perfect. I'm not Superman. I might be in the NFL, and we might have just won the Super Bowl, but, hey, we still have daily struggles, I still have daily struggles. So that's where my faith comes in, that's where my family comes in. I think when you look at a struggle in your life, just know that's just an opportunity for your character to grow. And that's really just been the message. Simple. If something's going on in your life and you're struggling? Embrace it. Because you're growing."
Now THAT's standing out. The Superbowl MVP sharing his human frailty and encouraging us all to embrace failure.
So how are YOU standing out? To your co-workers, your bosses? Your kids, your spouse, friends and family? Your community? My point is... we all have something unique to give, special to show. In words, deeds, style, showmanship.
Show it off. Be unique. Stand out. Wear that tiara if you want to (I do... around the house! Ha ha!) And be a long-remembered influence for good. (AKA the greatest self promotion EVER.)
Brotherly and sisterly love to you all...
(From South Philly)
Mary Ellen Sokalski
Diva of Direct Marketing.