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Stimulation isn’t just about the Good Times

Sure times are difficult in this economy and many businesses are hanging on just trying to ensure that they are around when the economy improves.  During the tough times, don’t make the mistake of letting the Accountant run your business – the Sales Manager should.  Accountants tend to want to hold on to the cash for the rainy days and allow your business to slide gracefully in to the grave.  A Sales Manager wants to stimulate sales and turn things around.  A great Sales Manager can do that, but it takes some investment, some fresh thinking and some solid marketing.  Waiting for things to improve naturally may be too big of a gamble for you to endure.

Lately I’ve heard from a number of Realtors that times are tough and sales are way down, therefore they won’t be doing any advertising.  Sounds to me like we are going to have a lot less realtors.  In my home town, we have 1500 realtors working the realty market which likely means 100 are successful and 1400 are hoping to one day be successful.  Hoping doesn’t make a whole lot happen on its own.  People that make good decisions, work hard and overcome obstacles make things happen!

Should you advertise only when times are good?  No, of course not.  Truthfully, when times are good, many small businesses say that they are having a tough time keeping up with business and they don’t need to advertise.  Advertising should be done consistently throughout the year to establish your brand.  Once established, you may be able to simply maintain your brand but jumping in and out of advertising is crazy.  Consistency and frequency are the keys to successful advertising.

If anything, knowing that some people don’t know how to manage their business gives you an advantage during the tough times. If your competitors aren’t advertising and you do, your advertising stands alone or at least with more clarity. You’ll probably find advertising rates are less expensive during the tough times too – another bonus!

When times are good, everyone is out there trying to grab the business but when times are tough a Sales Manager will tell you to try harder.  Business isn’t dead, it has just slowed.  Get out there and take advantage of this time to stimulate some growth and drive some business.  When the going gets tough – the tough get going, right? They don’t stand off to the side and wait.

Will you be one of the businesses that capitalize on the slow times or are you willing to gamble on whether you can wait it out?  What can you improve?  How can you attract more customers?  How do you spread the word that you want to earn some business?  How is your website?  How can you give customers confidence that now is better than waiting?  Stimulate some business or surrender now and let the others have more.

www.quickdeal.com          [email protected]          250-412-3500

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How Much Do You Pay For Attention?

Just gaining attention is opnly the first stage in marketingI’ve been talking a lot over the past few months about how you can improve business for yourself – tricks of the advertising trade, money savers, techniques, ideas and tips.  Everyone wants to know how to improve business and it isn’t that difficult.  You need to concentrate on those things that will affect and improve your business.  If you spend time, effort and a little bit of money to improve your business – they will come.  When they do, will you be there to answer their call or return their email, will you leave them with a positive impression?

For many of you out there the answer is no, and I’m not sure why.  You spend money to grab attention and get people to approach you.  Sometimes you even get really lucky and have people contact you for some completely unknown reason.  And then, you leave them with distaste or even ignore them.  You might not think you do, but many of you do ignore your customers.

Last month, I sent an email to a company asking specifics about a product they sell that I have purchased and really enjoy.  22 days later I received an email back saying that I should refer to their website where all product specific information is kept.  Seriously, where do they think I found their email address?  While I still like the product, I like the company a little bit less.

Last week I called a company that has been in business for over 20 years – they answered the phone “yeah, what do you want?”.  Calling from my cell phone, I thought it was a joke or perhaps some strange new marketing technique started on Twitter, but the call just got worse. I’ll never deal with that company and I’ll tell everyone I know not to use them. Just ask me which Foam shop not to deal with.

Yesterday, I slowed down while driving in to a playground zone where kids were walking along my side of the street.  I received a not so friendly hand gesture from a guy in a truck as he crossed the centre line and passed me disgusted by my due care and attention.  His company name was posted clearly across the side of his truck.  Will I ever bother to make contact with that company for plumbing services?  Nope.

This morning, I emailed a company and 3 minutes later I had a reply that I was reading just as my phone rang – it was a representative from the company stating that he had emailed me back but he wanted to contact me see if I had any other questions or if he could help me further.  He gets my business.  He earned it.  He paid for my attention and he got it – he responded to me quickly and with attention to service and he earned my business.  Simple Marketing 101.

How quick do you respond to emails?  Do you give it the same priority as phone calls?  How long do your customers wait on hold when they call you?  How do you answer the phone?  Are you friendly even when talking to those that may not be customers – knowing they might be one day?  Are you helpful when getting to serve customers?  Do you give people your full attention when serving them?  Do you drive your company vehicle in a manner in which suggests you need a vacation?

You paid for the attention you are getting – what are you going to do with it?

www.quickdeal.com          [email protected]          250-412-3500

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Online Advertising is Sexier than Alec Baldwin

In the 1992 movie Glengarry Glen Ross, Alec Baldwin played the role of Blake, a real alpha dog motivational Sales Manager that would make any true Sales Manager proud.  If you haven’t seen it – you missed out on a wonderful movie with an all-star cast that includes Alec, Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alan Arkin, Ed Harris and Kevin Spacey.  While Alec made a beautiful speech within the movie, it doesn’t hold a light to how sexy online advertising can be.

The key to online advertising is to understand why it is so different, why it is so beautiful and why you absolutely must refocus some of your advertising expense towards this opportunity.  Part of Alec’s speech included a lesson on AIDA and that should be your lesson on how to get the most from any banner advertising campaign.

Online advertising is sexy because it is only the prequel to your real moves which take place at your website.  Your website contains everything about your business and why anyone should consider doing business with you – the banner should only be used to grab their Attention, create Interest, build Desire and motivate Action – AIDA.  In the movie, desire was replaced with decision but in my mind, desire is the third step. Sorry Alec.

Too many people make the mistake of throwing the kitchen sink in their banners – AIDA is the secret to banner success.

Your banner is meant to grab the viewers Attention.  Use colour and movement to stand out from the page and get noticed.  You don’t need to get super fancy with flash banners to grab attention, just some quality design in a simple animated GIF format.

You need to create some Interest in what you are selling but don’t confuse this with selling features and benefits, you simply want to create interest in your product.  How?  That is up to you to figure out but I’d suggest that you start with ‘familiarity’.  People are often drawn to those things that are familiar to them.  If you like Dacks shoes, a banner that includes the Dacks brand will likely grab your interest.  Sex, lifestyle, people and animals are just a few of the many things that can be used in your banner to grab interest.

Creating Desire is the next step in creating a successful banner advertisement.  You grabbed their attention and have their interest, now you need them to want what you have to offer.  Is the consumer lacking somehow by not having your product or service?  Is it the latest and greatest or new and improved?  Are you offering samples or a trial?  Make them want what you have.

Action is the last step in creating an effective banner advertisement.  The action you desire is getting them to click on the banner so they arrive at your website – that is where you get to throw the kitchen sink at them – everything they ever wanted and needed to know about you and your product.  Just a click and they are there – it really is beautiful.

Online banner advertising is sexier than Alec Baldwin.  Why?  Because banner advertising combined with the AIDA approach will make you money and grow your business and nothing is going to be sexier and more beautiful than that.

www.quickdeal.com          [email protected]          250-412-3500

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Advantage Marketing – Do what gives you an advantage Tip #25

Marketing is very exciting if you keep it simple and concentrate on those things that give you an advantage.  Business owners have so many choices as to how they can market their company and almost every sales reps presentation focuses on very similar benefits.  I suggest that you concentrate on marketing that gives you an advantage and keep that word in mind while you engage with those that say they can help grow your business.

Advantage marketing is very simple – look for those marketing approaches that give you the most advantage.  If you know anything about buying a car, you know that the best day to buy is the last day of the month.  Why?  Because the car dealer is motivated to get every deal he can on that day and only so many people are going to walk on the lot.  For the buyer, that gives him/her an advantage in negotiation, selection, pricing, approval and generally a whole group of people working hard to earn the business.  In advantage marketing you are looking for the exact same thing – what are you getting that is different from everyone else and does it give you an advantage of some kind?

Any business can call up a radio station, TV station or newspaper and buy advertising but that doesn’t give you an advantage because anyone can do it and a whole lot of people already have.  Sometimes relationships end up offering us advantages such as the guy you’ve known for 20 years calling you up and letting you know that he has a special deal for you because of some circumstance and he wanted you to have the first shot at it because you are his buddy.  Most times, you’ll have to seek out the advantage and negotiate the best deal you can get.  If you aren’t getting an advantage – thank them for their time and let them know that they can contact you in the future when they can offer an advantage and you’ll be an immediate customer.

Let’s say you own a pizza company.  What do you do to market your business?  You could advertise in the telephone books, publish coupons, do direct mail in your neighborhood or any number of other things – but anyone can do those things – they don’t necessarily give you an advantage.  If the phone book rep called you and said that he had an extra page of space that hasn’t been sold and it is last minute to closing date and therefore he can offer you that position at 75% off – that is an advantage.  If you told the coupon guy that you would only do a pizza coupon with him if he gave you the front of the coupon booklet for the offer and in return you would supply pizza to his sons little league team when they win the regional’s – that is an advantage.  If you happened to know the person that delivers newspapers in your area and he’d be happy to drop off your mailers at the same time for pizza credits – that is an advantage.

The question is whether the marketing dollars you spend give you an advantage over what anyone else might be doing? If you can gain an advantage – do it.  Your marketing dollars will go farther and allow you to do more things that give you an advantage – in the end, wouldn’t it be nice to explain to people that you have an unfair advantage over the competition and that is why you are so successful?

How do you gain advantages?  Talk to people. Talk to reps and marketing people and make hearing their pitch a priority.  Most business people don’t like talking to marketing and sales people because they are just going to pitch them on something and they don’t like being sold – just send me something and I’ll think about it.  Nobody gets an advantage that way – talk to people. The next time advertising or marketing reps call and want to pitch you on why they can help grow your business – take the call, hear them out and tell them you are looking for an advantage that you can’t refuse.  If they can’t offer you an advantage, make sure they leave knowing that anytime they can, you’ll be a customer – then stay in touch with them looking to do business as soon as an advantage comes along – eventually an advantage will present itself.  

www.quickdeal.com          [email protected]          250-412-3500

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Does your vehicle signage whisper sweet nothings? Tip #24

Vehicle signage works and I’d highly recommend that every company have a look at their vehicle signage and evaluate whether it is working for you or not.  I’ve seen so much money wasted on whispering sweet nothings that I wonder why they even bothered.  You don’t put signage on your vehicle so that you can tell it from all the other vehicles in the parking lot at the mall – you do it to grab attention and advertise your company.  So go grab some attention – stop whispering and start yelling.

Vehicle signage works great and is very inexpensive.  Consider your company vehicles to be rolling billboards, driving all over town and standing out from all of the single colour boring paint jobs on all of the normal people vehicles.

  • Your vehicle should be the mohawk haircut in the crowd
  • Your vehicle should be the woman in the red dress at the black and white party
  • Your vehicle should grab your attention even if you weren’t wearing your glasses
  • Your vehicle should carry the messages that make your company different
  • Your vehicle should be more than a logo and phone number – have some fun!

I’ve heard employees say that they’ll be embarrassed driving the billboard or that they are concerned people will complain about their driving – too bad – you are either helping to grow the company and are proud to be a part of it or you should find another job – learn how to drive while you are at it!

Don’t get me wrong – the vehicle doesn’t have to be ugly or have a big hotdog strapped to the roof – it just needs to grab attention.  Go see your local signage company that specializes in applying cut vinyl or vehicle-wraps and ask them to share their ideas on how you can stand out.  Yes, vehicle wraps – your entire vehicle can be wrapped in signage vinyl that is printed with anything you want – photos, words or logos. Windows and rubber can even be wrapped.

Quality vehicle signage can last as long as your vehicle lease if applied correctly.  Even the high pressure car washes won’t lift the messages if applied by professionals.  Don’t cheap out – find the guys that do it right, use the best products and have been successful at doing this for years.  If anything ever does happen to degrade the signage, it can almost always be repaired by the same people at very little cost – so inspect your vehicles on a regular basis and make sure they represent you like the day you drove away from the signage company.

Use your vehicles as signage – do it right – stand out wherever you go and grab the attention of everyone that sees you. I promise you that it will be some of the most effective and inexpensive advertising you can do!

www.quickdeal.com          [email protected]          250-412-3500

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Why are Fast Food and Groceries different businesses?

Customer service is one of those things that every business wants to concentrate on to improve the satisfaction of their customers.  I’d like to pass along some advice for businesses to have a look at and discuss at your next staff meeting.

Speed of service is very important to me.  For instance, when I go to the grocery store and all of the open registers have line ups of 5 or 6 customers each, as a manager, I’d consider that to be a bad sign.  Good in that the store is busy but bad as it could lead to frustrated customers.

As grocery store shoppers, many of us try to gauge which lines are shorter, which lines have the faster cashiers or which lines have the least amount of items to be purchased in hopes of getting through the fastest. Managers could really make my life simpler (while making me a happier customer) if they just worked with staff on serving me quicker.

Nobody likes standing in line-ups for much of anything but standing in lines and seeing cashiers take their sweet time is painful as can be.  When line-ups get to big, I expect to see management and employees up their game to a whole new level.

  • Management calling additional staff to the front to help bag groceries or direct customers to new cashiers or customer service desks.
  • Show me by your actions that you are trying to serve customers as fast as you can.
  • Stop commenting on my food choices. Nothing is worse than being third back in line while hearing a cashier ask if these crackers are any good – save the friendly conversation for when time permits. Concentrate on getting to serve me.
  • Refocus your efforts – Management may want you to ask me if I found everything I was looking for today or if I wanted to help support your community cause with a donation – with customers waiting, I’d like you to drop everything and just serve me as quickly as you can.

When some fast food drive-thrus put digital timers up at the window, it showed me that somebody somewhere cares enough to know how fast customers are being served – it is called fast food after all.  I just want people who are involved in customer service to understand that service has direct ties between how quickly I get served and my level of satisfaction.

Costco seems to be one of those places that always has line-ups but I appreciate their efforts to serve me as quickly as they can. They almost always have someone helping to box up items, grab the member card of the next person in line and even locate scan bars on big items left in the shopping cart. Sometimes they even have people looking for shoppers within the lines with only a few items – they scan the items before they reach the cashier so the only thing left to do is pay. They serve customers as if someone is actually watching to make sure everyone is getting serviced as quickly as possible – maybe that is the reason for the overhead cameras or maybe it is just smart business management. As busy as Costco is every time I’m there, you never feel let down by the cashiers.  

Show me that you are doing your best to serve me as quickly as you can and I’ll feel your pain instead of my own. Show me that you could really care less how quickly I get served and I’ll be left looking for a new company to deal with next time I shop. As consumers, we want good service and we don’t want to wait forever to get it.

www.quickdeal.com          [email protected]          250-412-3500

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Your Logo: How can I recognize you if you have 10 different faces?

Imagine if your friend looked different every time you saw them – how would you know it was them?  You might walk right past them on the street because they didn’t look like your friend.  The logo for your business is pretty much the same as your friend – you need to be able to recognize them every time you see them.  Most small businesses do not have marketing departments, agencies or Marketing Directors that police the brand.  Until someone manages your logo and brand for you, as the business owner or manager, it is your job.

Graphic standards manuals are often created for businesses to help manage the acceptable uses and adjustments to your logo.  Many can be found by searching the internet and they’ll give you a basic understanding as to how you can adjust your logo for different acceptable uses and how you should never adjust your logo.

These are some examples as to how the QuickDeal logo can be used. 

The standard logo is two colours and while we never use any other colours to replace those two colours, we can use single colour versions of the logo. We can also switch the logo to black and white – or reverse the logo.  Sometimes logos have a Mark which is a visual component within the logo that can express the company without showing the whole logo.  Our Mark is the Q within the logo. None of these variations hurt your brand but many companies do make alterations to their logo that are outside of these basics – stop it.  You are spending so much money on advertising your business to the public – do it with one face – it’ll be so much easier to recognize you.

Your logo is your logo is your logo. Here are some of the things I see on a regular basis that you should not consider acceptable.

  • Consistency is everything – your logo on your business card should be the same as the logo on your building, or your vehicle or your website or you brochures. Do they all look like they were created by the same person or have completely different looks? Are the colours radically different whether in print, your website or in signage?
  • Do you even have a logo? Many businesses have a name but not a logo.  Get yourself a logo. Putting your name out there with different fonts is not your logo – you need one.
  • Rearranging your logo to suit the environment is never acceptable.
  • Skewing or stretching the logo is not acceptable
  • Adjusting the position of components within the logo is not acceptable
  • Adding graphical elements to the logo is not acceptable

Keep an eye on your logo and watch your brand. Letting your customers or the marketplace see your business over and over again the same way is the key to marketing success.

www.quickdeal.com          [email protected]          250-412-3500

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The lights are out so go lock the doors Tip #23

Ever work with somebody that goes over the top on some issues and makes you think they must be crazy?  Someone that leaves you clearly understanding that you are supposed to drop whatever you are doing to attend whatever they feel is important at that split second?  I worked with a man just like this but I have to admit now, years later, that I learned a lot.

As the Director of Marketing within a company of about 50 people, my job reached in to many areas within the company as good marketing should.  My boss at the time was the owner of the business and I worked very closely with him every day.  He kept everyone in the company on their toes and always had them worried about retaining their job.  Those that didn’t get the job done were held accountable and were replaced.  The boss (who I’ll call the Crazy Man) somehow knew about things happening throughout the company as if microphones were hidden throughout the building that could result in you being balled out for just about anything.  Most every employee hated the crazy man thanks to his regular tirades that could be over the simplest of things.

One of those regular tirades stemmed from burnt out pot lights within the customer areas of the business.  The message was clear – crazy man never wanted to see a burnt out light.  Upon arriving at work, you were to turn on all of the lights and then walk through the business looking for any light burnt out, get a ladder, get up and replace the bulb.  Nothing else gets done first.  Crazy man often told the story about the corner grocer that opens the store while everyone in the neighborhood is still asleep.  They open and immediately stack the fresh newspapers at the front of the business, prepared the displays of fresh cut flowers for the front of the business and turned on all of the lights.  They were now prepared for the first person in the neighboorhood to drive by and see all of the lights on, coffee ready, flowers out and someone waiting to serve the first customer of the day.  Crazy man was crazy about getting us all to understand that we have to ‘Ready’ the business for customers.  If we weren’t going to pay attention to the business why should the customers pay attention to us?

Now crazy man never wanted to hear an excuse – once you opened the doors the business had to be ready and that meant every light had to be working.  This was a big business with thousands of lights indoor and out of different wattage and style so while it seemed like an easy task – it wasn’t.  You had been yelled at too many times to forget the lessons, so you checked the lights every morning without fail – but somehow, he would regularly find a light out within seconds of arriving at work.  They must have burned out as he arrived, we had power surges as his car drove in or he had some new-fangled remote control that turned random lights off just so he could give us the speech again.  That is how it felt at least.  Lights that burned out during the business day had to be watched too, otherwise he was sure to see them and blame you for not checking before we opened the doors.  He was a difficult guy to work with.

Years later now, I really do have to forgive him because I understand why he was such a crazy man about the lights.  The lights were just one of the things that shone for him about whether we were ready to do business with customers and whether we were paying attention to the growth of his business.   Too often I see business people that are missing the important things that make their business worth paying attention – Marketing, image, brand, cleanliness, telephone manners, customers service – the list could go on and on.  Crazy man wanted us to focus on one simple thing and showed us over and over again how hard it is to pay attention to the simplest of things.  It isn’t easy to grow your business but what else should you pay more attention to?

While I don’t suggest that business owners or managers abuse their people to the point that they hate working for them, I do suggest that your people all need to understand how important the smallest things can be within the business.  Find a way to make your people care about improving your business and as a leader, seek out those things that you can improve and drive the change required to make it happen.

Identify a problem, stop and fix it.  Do it every day.  Be a crazy man about something important and eventually people like me will figure out that you aren’t that crazy after all.

www.quickdeal.com          [email protected]          250-412-3500

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If it ain’t broke, you might not be looking close enough.

I’ve been working in the marketing business for many years and have certainly established opinions on what works and what doesn’t – so here is my best advice:  Throw away your opinions.

An opinion is still considered up in the air – it is not fact.  The best marketers will use their knowledge to make judgments while still keeping their mind open to alterations.  While you can always find many ways to do something wrong in marketing, you can also find many ways to do something right.

Many years back, when working for a Western Canadian department store chain called Woodwards, I learned a valuable lesson in merchandising that helped me to keep my mind open even when a strong opinion was held.  We always spent a portion of the day tidying the store to make it more presentable.  But what works in one case did not in work in all cases.  For instance, shoes needed to be merchandised differently than most items.  We always had the newest shoes displayed as everyone always displays shoes.  If you were having a sale, nothing sold more women’s shoes than a big mess.  Dump the shoes out of the boxes on to a big table and pile them high with the sale sign on top.  Women would rummage through the shoes searching for their size in hopes of finding that special shoe for a special price.  As hard as it was to see the table sit messy throughout the sale, nothing sold women’s shoes better.  Men on the other hand needed the boxes organized on the table, organized by size.

Does it make sense that men and women buy shoes differently? Perhaps.  Does it mean that they still buy differently?  No, not necessarily.  I’m sure many things have changed in the past 25 years that could have affected the buying habits of both men and women including online sales, discounters, specialized stores and quantity of sales promotions just to mention a few.

Woodward’s has not been in business for many years now.  While I’m not sure that has anything to do with how shoes were sold, they were not able to survive the changing times.  Even though we found what we thought was the best way to sell sale shoes, perhaps it wasn’t as good as the ways found by others.  Perhaps we should have kept trying to find new ways of being successful.

The world has changed and your marketing should have too.  Marketing is fun and exciting if you approach it with some dedicated effort and the desire to win.  Don’t get stuck in your ways with marketing your business.  Try new things.  Change your creative.  Adjust your offers.  Merchandise differently.  Try something that failed previously.  Do something different.  You can always improve.  You can always Evolve!

www.quickdeal.com          [email protected]          250-412-3500

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Word of Mouth can be a Dirty Word

Word of Mouth advertising is the passing of information about your business from person to person.  It can be wonderful or the worst thing for your business.  As an advertiser and marketer, I know how beneficial telling a strong story can be to the growth of a business and I go out of my way to share my opinions.  I love to tell everyone about great experiences with people, stores, restaurants or businesses.  The question is whether word of mouth advertising is enough to count on to grow your business and are you plugged in to the word on the street to know enough about what is being said about you?

Back in the 80’s, many business and marketing experts were often heard talking about the retail store Nordstom’s.  We heard unbelievable stories of fantastic levels in customer service resulting in folklore that was meant to motivate us to think differently about what excellence could really be.  Excellence does lead to solid word of mouth advertising performance but everyone does hold a difference in opinions.  If we look at restaurants, I may absolutely love a certain restaurant because of the food, service, ambiance, variety and speed of service.  All of those items are subjective.  If another person is unimpressed for whatever reason my glowing review is tarnished by their opinion.

Some companies say that they only advertise by word of mouth – Sorry to hear that, maybe the next company to fill your location will look at marketing more wisely.  The problem is that you don’t control the message.  If the public is saying great things about you, that is a good start but what they are saying is just as important.  When one person loves a restaurant because they are so fast, another may see that as being rushed.

Advertising allows you to get your message out to the public that focuses on exactly what you want to say.  Advertising allows you to support any positive public opinion and build upon it further.  How many times have you seen a company advertise that they are under new management, or the menu has changed, or that they are newly renovated?  Turns out that the word of mouth advertising wasn’t as positive as it needed to be and instead they had to make changes or risk closing forever.

Word of mouth advertising is great, but even the best of companies have a tough time pleasing everyone all of the time.  We’ve all heard that unhappy customers tell more people than the happy ones do and that negative opinions carry more weight than postive opinions.  So, just relying on word of mouth can be a very dangerous game.  We’ve all driven past the same empty parking lot of a restaurant that we’ve heard isn’t very good from at least a few people – so why should we stop for lunch.  Alternatively, while in New York, every day I saw a line of at least 50 people waiting for food from a street vendor known as ’53rd and 6th Chicken and Rice’.  The line up was there from 7:00PM when they opened until the very early hours of the morning and many of the people got in line just because they had to try what seemed so popular – it must be good.   Just 75 feet away is another vendor with what looks like the same food except they have no line.  The frenzy can be created but will the frenzy create lines of customers or no customers at all?

Don’t leave your marketing up to all of the public opinions, support them with your own messages and build upon the positive.  Advertising doesn’t have to be expensive to work.  Just put your advertising in as many places as you can, reaching as many people as you can, who are likely to be looking for a business like yours, as many times as you can, for as little money as you can. Oh, and next time you are in New York, go try Chicken and Rice at the corner of 53rd and 6th – and hit it hard with the red sauce.

www.quickdeal.com          [email protected]          250-412-3500

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Here’s your Marketing Plan – Go Get Noticed. Tip #22

Marketing isn’t as tough as everyone wants to make it seem – just go get noticed. 

  • Company Vehicles:  These should be considered moving billboards at a better price.  Do they stand out and get noticed or are they discreet and simple?  Think of your vehicles as billboards and you’ll get noticed.  Many years ago, while working with a new company, the two owners and I got together and leased matching white 4×4’s.  Then the public began to see 3 matching vehicles that stood out and got noticed.  “I see you guys everywhere” was the common statement we heard.  3 vehicles became 7 eventually all the exact same. The general public didn’t know whether we had multiple vehicles or not, all they knew was that they saw our company at every turn.
  • Hats, Shirts and Jackets:  Promote your business through your employees.  Every employee can be a walking billboard for your company while they go buy a burger, get groceries or go to an event.  People look at logos and often use your company as an ice-breaker to say hello and open up conversation.  Buy decent quality items too.  Everyone likes to wear free stuff especially when it is good quality stuff that you can be proud to wear
  • Office Store-front: Many businesses have great exposure to the public with big windows facing the roadway.  Do you use those windows to grab attention or are they just for looking out?  Many cities maintain strict signage bylaws but often times temporary signage or signage on the inside of windows is excluded from bylaws.  Grab some attention.  Get people to look at your business and read what makes you different.  Years ago, I hired a local street artist to spray paint a message across our windows and you couldn’t drive by without noticing our business from that day forward.  Now, you see street art as a much more common sight, but still many businesses do not take advantage of business windows.
  • Make an Online Move: Young up folks – you are getting old.  Do something online now – you may just be surprised as to how it can build some excitement and some creative ideas that help grow your business.  Everyone wants to tell you the secret to marketing online but the truth is that you should stop spending your time trying to figure out what to do and instead just start doing.  Start a facebook page.  Start tweeting.  Start a blog.  Update your website.  Put a video online.  Buy some inexpensive online advertising.  spend an hour every day just surfing and discovering new things online.   Just do it – trust me, it will lead you to something else, which will lead to your expertise, which will lead to some wins.
  • Get Out of the Telephone Directories:  It will save you a ton of money and allow you to spend some real cash in new areas that are actually growing.  Phone books used to work and the horse and buggy were once effective means of transportation.  Times have changed and every day they change a little more – pull 3/4 of your expense out of the telephone directories and spend it elsewhere – you are feeding hay to a dead horse.
  • Look at your Expenses:  Look for ways that you can cut costs without losing anything and then take that same money and spend it on getting someone to notice your business.  Look at printing costs, telephones and stationary costs just to get started – these three areas are where many companies waste a lot of cash.  If you don’t now how to save money in these areas,  look deeper, I’ll bet you that you are wasting money that can be spent elsewhere.  

You can do hundreds of different things to grow your company through marketing but you need to do them. You need to be involved. You need to lead your company. Let somebody else manage the day to day crap that takes you away from what you should be doing and throw some concentration at growing your business.

 www.quickdeal.com          [email protected]          250-412-3500

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If it isn’t read, it’s dead. Tip #21

What your advertising is supposed to accomplish depends on where the advertising is published.  An advertisement in the the newspaper will be quite different than in a phone directory which is quite different from a banner on a website.  The message needs to be different depending on your objectives.  Make your ad appropriate for the audience and your medium.

In a newspaper, the audience is often looking to read the news or community stories, so your advertising needs to jump off of the page and grab the readers attention.  Once you have their attention you may have the chance to tell them more of your story but you do want to keep your priority on focus.

In a telephone directory, readers are looking at similiar businesses within a section trying to choose who to do business with.  Here, you need to be read but you also need to stand out from the crowd by providing what the customer is looking for.  What makes you different and is that what will earn you new business?  In telephone directories, ad size is important as statistics show that larger ads get more calls, but it isn’t the only factor.  Colour can help a smaller ad stand out more than a larger ad.  Position on the page can help a smaller ad stand out and well designed ad can also alter the call statistics.  Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is important and strategy can make the differnce between thousands in wasted dollars and success.

In online banners, you need to grab the visitors attention immediately and interest them enough to cause them to click otherwise they don’t see you, scroll past you or simply ignore you.  Colour, movement, speed, visuals, fonts and clarity all play a part in effective banner design.  The kitchen sink doesn’t belong in your banner. Keep it short, sweet and to the point.

People spend an awful lot of hard earned business dollars on advertising, attempting to draw in more customers to grow the business.  Take a little time and think about your message, think about how advertising works and think about whether or not anyone cares enough to read your ad.  The difference between a 1% response rate and a 2% response rate is a 100% change, so changing a colour can easily earn you a 10% more effective ad, a great headline could earn you another 10%.  Clarity in advertising is the first thing people throw away as they decide to add the kitchen sink and without clarity your ad won’t get read. If it doesn’t get read – you wasted your money.  Look at your advertising and evaluate it – listen for that little marketing angel standing on your shoulder, he’s saying, “Remember, if it isn’t read, it’s dead”.

 www.quickdeal.com          [email protected]          250-412-3500

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Ice Cubes, Eskimos and Advertising

A man wakes up in his Ikea bedroom, pulls on his Nike’s, eats his Kellogg’s cereal, drinks his Starbucks, checks his Blackberry, blows his nose with a Kleenex, brushes his teeth using Colgate toothpaste, jumps in his Audi, listens to his Sirius satellite radio on his way to work where he tells an advertising agent that advertising doesn’t work.   Go figure.

I’m sure that thousands of portable MP3 players are available on the market but one company has sewn up the market almost completely and made millions and millions of dollars because they are perceived as the cool MP3 player that everyone wants.  Therefore, no other player really exists in the mind of the consumer.

The cool factor is responsible for the success in a large number of brands.  When I was a kid in school, all of the kids had to have the Polo Ralph Lauren logo on their shirt or they weren’t cool.  Since then, many brands are well established and have their name positioned front and center on the product, worn proudly as a brand that somehow reflects who the people are when it comes to an image or style.

We can all buy Tylenol or a no-name brand acetaminophen – but most of us choose the brand that has established a confidence level with us and we do pay more for that confidence.  Why do you buy what you buy?  Take notice of what you buy, where you buy and why you might actually buy it and I believe that you’ll be able to draw a line between those reasons and some sort of advertising message that helped form those decisions in your mind.

I once interviewed a guy for the position of Sales Manager who asked me if I felt a great salesperson could sell anything to anyone – Absolutely, I said. He disagreed and said that you can’t sell ice cubes to Eskimos. He didn’t get the job. You can sell ice cubes to Eskimos but first you have to figure out what will motivate them to buy – perhaps your cubes are purified, imported or taken from artesian wells, conveniently packaged or maybe just made in a cool shape. Perhaps your ice cubes are designed based on a whole new way of thinking – made from Nordic rocks that retain the cold better than cubes made from water with the added benefit that they don’t water down your drink. Just because Eskimos enjoy cold weather throughout much of the year doesn’t mean they don’t have a need for quality ice in their scotch or clean ice conveniently delivered to their home.

Advertising is like a silent salesperson working for you to persuade people to hold your product or service in high regard and choose it over any other. A creative medium that can be most effective when people don’t see the sales pitch coming – instead they see some really cool ice cubes made from rocks. Advertising does work. It needs a plan and some good decisions, good copy, good design, some smart buying and the right audience but advertising does work – and it doesn’t have to break the bank to be effective. How long can your business wait before you do some good advertising? Get on it.

 www.quickdeal.com          [email protected]          250-412-3500

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The 20 great reasons that you should get to know QuickDeal

Buyers:

  • During these difficult economic times, buying lightly used items online will save you money. 
  • Finding items for sale within your local community will save you shipping costs and you get to see the item first.
  • We provide millions of items from over 1200 websites so that you have a good selection of local items available from people right in your community.
  • Your city is likely open at QuickDeal – approximately 700 cities covering every State in the US and every Province in Canada.
  • Look for businesses in our business directory – local companies looking to earn your business.
  • QuickDeal is extremely fast – We take great pride in delivering.  

Sellers:

  • Newspaper classifieds are almost non-existent – online classifieds work.
  • Lots of photos can show the item properly.
  • Quick and easy to add, edit and sell items.
  • Every city has a great selection of items for sale – we are a great destination for buyers.
  • No need to sign up or join QuickDeal in order to sell something.
  • An unlimited number of listings can be added – all for free.
  • Listings of multiple items can be managed from a single user screen.

Businesses:

  • You can list items for sale in the shopping section too – we encourage items from commercial sellers.
  • You can add a business listing for free.
  • Your shopping listings can be tied together and listed within your business listing.
  • We have extremely effective and inexpensive advertising opportunities for you to reach QuickDeal shoppers over and over again.
  • Our advertising opportunities were developed specifically so small businesses could earn the business of the masses without having to pay thousands of dollars for TV, radio, newspaper or telephone directories.
  • Have your advertisement seen thousands of times every month by local buyers.
  • You deserve to find advertising opportunities that work well without having to gamble thousands of dollars.

  www.quickdeal.com          [email protected]          250-412-3500

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Are you a camouflage advertiser? Tip #13 …and then some

Camouflage advertising is the art of causing your ad to blend in with all of the other messages in the market so that it can’t be seen.  I’ve got to pass out some kudos here because so many of you do a really wonderful job of never being seen or heard of even though you buy advertising for the opposite reason.  Thankfully, all of you provide the platform for some marketers to actually stand up, stand out and get noticed. The real tip is not to become a Camouflage Advertiser and here are some thoughts that should point you in a better direction. 

Tip #13 is a lucky tip because you actually get 8 tips all wrapped up together under the anti-camouflage advertising topic:

13.   Do you turn heads?  Are you using an attention grabbing headline?  One of my favorites was “Show them you love them this Valentines – with my Sausage”.  A wildly attention getting headline for a local butcher.  Get creative with your headline and find a way to deliver your message in a few words that will get read and will stand out – hopefully leading the viewer to stop and want to find out more.  A great headline can lead to a memorable advertisement which is a good step in creating an effective advertisement.

14.   A picture says a thousand words.  Does any image within your ad help to support the headline?  In the above mentioned butcher ad, the image was of a man standing on top of a large rock, looking off in to the sky like he owned the world, while holding several long links of sausage draping down towards the ground.  This image was something that was very unique and not something you’d see every day.  The image supported the headline and grabbed attention.  Together, the image and the headline had impact – it didn’t really require much else other than the butchers name and address.  I’ve shopped there for sausage ever since.

15.   Did you stand out but look like a fool?  Some advertisers dress up in superhero outfits or rant like crazy people trying to grab attention – but beware of your brand and protect it from grabbing you the wrong attention.  I won’t ever walk in to some businesses because of the advertising image that they have projected.  I cannot believe that the brand I’ve seen could be trusted to deliver quality, honesty, dependability, longevity or style.  Protect your brand.  You want to grab attention but you want the positive impressions you build to outweigh and outlast any negative impressions.

16.   Did you really stand out?  Take a trial run.  If placing a newspaper or telephone directory advertisement, print your ad, cut it out and place in where your ad might show up.  Did it stand out?  Would you have noticed it at all?  What do you need to change? If your ad is online, just tape it in position on your monitor – you need to see how it looks.  BTW, if it is online – good for you – the best part of online advertising is that you can change it at a moment’s notice and adjust until you are happy with performance.  At hundreds or thousands of dollars a day for print advertising or a whole year in between ads for directory advertising, you gave yourself a real advantage in using online advertising.

17.   Pretend for a second to be a Graphic Designer.  Does the layout, structure and design of your ad make it easy to read?  I put every ad up on a wall and I look at them from a distance.  It often helps to see things from a distance to decide whether fonts or colours should be adjusted, whether the layout should be changed or whether the focus in being placed on the right components clearly within the ad.  Stand back from the advertisement and feel it first, see it second and read it last – did it work well?  If not, how should it be adjusted?

18.   White space says so much.  Cramming everything in to your ad doesn’t give you the most for you money – it just limits the number of times anyone might notice your ad and bother to read it.  White space where nothing is going on in your ad is  like creating a beautiful border to perfectly frame your work of art.  White space helps to bring focus to a message, highlighting what you feel is most important.  Focus in on your message and surround it with some white space.  Grab attention with your advertising and save the kitchen sink for your website – it is the perfect place to organize everything you want to say about your business.

19.   Do you part your hair on the left or wear a mohawk?  Being different in advertising is the rule to capturing attention. Luckily many people are happy to be the same as everyone else – don’t you be one of them or you could easily be on the road to join so many others with failed businesses.  You don’t have to be crazy or offensive with your ads but be creative and find a way to convey your message so that people take notice.  If it ain’t read – it’s dead!

20.   The eyes have no brains.  Rarely do we go looking to read advertisements, instead the ads grab our attention for a split second as we go about reading the news, visiting a website or entertaining ourselves.  In order for the brain to kick in and see what the eyes saw, we need to see the advertising over and over again.  Don’t cheap out on the frequency of delivering your message.  Many companies hear from lots of people that they’ve seen and heard about them all over town but I’ve never heard thousands say that they‘ve heard of some company once.  Force the brains to see your message.

Don’t be a camouflage advertiser.

  www.quickdeal.com          [email protected]          250-412-3500

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Marketing is more popular than The Beatles. Tip #12

Many people are confused about what marketing is with much of the thanks going to companies who have tried to hide salespeople behind a different name.  Marketing is the big brother umbrella to sales.  Marketing is the logic and emotion behind what drives sales and can reach in to every department within an organization.  Every perception of a company developed in any way falls under the umbrella of the marketing department.

  • When you call a company and hear the auto attendant of the phone system kick in instead of a real person – that is marketing.
  • When you call a company and wait on hold – that is marketing.
  • What someone says when they answer the company phone – that is marketing.
  • The name of the company, the products, the features, the services and the bundles of products together – that is marketing.
  • The logo, the signage, the brochures, the messages – that is marketing.
  • The company vehicles, uniforms, embroidery – that is marketing.
  • The company colours, invoices, statements and envelopes – that is marketing.
  • The bags, tags, stickers, shelving and displays – that is marketing.
  • The computers, systems, blog, website and even word-of-mouth – that is marketing.
  • The salespeople, approaches, advertising, offers, programs, donations and sponsorships – that is marketing.
  • The emotional response, perceptions, trust and perceived value – that is marketing.

Everything that is seen, heard, felt, read, understood and perceived by the customer about a company is marketing.  If the computers are too slow, that reflects poorly.  If the parking spots are too small, that reflects poorly, if the receipts do not offer enough details or the statements are not clear enough, that reflects poorly.  Everything is marketing in one way or another, espeically if it turns a lookie-lou in to a buyer or turns a buyer in to someone else’s customer.

I often hear people say that they are not salespeople or they do not like selling – but I believe that everyone is a salesperson and it starts naturally at a very young age.  Everyone can remember waking up as a child one morning and putting on a big act as to why they can’t go to school that day.  Some of us went to school and some of us didn’t.  Marketing helped those of us that didn’t.  Marketing helped our Mom realize that she felt we were getting sick before we even mentioned it – we coughed, we sneezed, we mentioned how tired we were, Dad said we looked sick or perhaps we couldn’t even finish our favorite dinner – something must be wrong.  Marketing helped us to sell that we were sick and couldn’t go to school without even getting out of bed or saying much of anything because mom was sold before the sales pitch ever took place.

How could anything be more beautiful than marketing?  While we’ve all heard a Beatles song, have we all given marketing the focus that it needs to drive our business where we want it to go?  Marketing is a part of everything we do – give it a little more concentration.

www.quickdeal.com          [email protected]          250-412-3500

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Have you ever really looked at your business? Tip #11

Fresh eyes.  How do you keep your eyes fresh on your business as if they are seeing your business for the first time?  As a business owner or manager, part of your job is understanding what the public sees when they view your business for the first time.  It is tough to see with fresh eyes, but training yourself to see what the customer sees will save you a lot of money and help to grow quality perceptions of your business.

In order to build your fresh eyes and train them to see what everyone else sees every day, you will need to start with a check list.  Make sure you go through that list on a regular basis until your eyes become accustomed to seeing what they should always have seen.  Here are some ideas to get your list started:

  1. Are any of your lights burned out inside your store?  This seems like a small item to worry about but it does suggest that perhaps your attention to details isn’t what it should be.
  2. Where is your staff parked?  Right up next to the entrance so the customer has to walk further?  Another small detail but one worth looking at.
  3. How does your signage look?  Does the signage lighting turn on before it gets dark or is the timer not set to come on until much later?  Are all of the letters backlit or are some out?  Is your neon open sign turned on right when the store opens and off right at closing?
  4. Do you have your hours of operation and website address listed on your front door?  Tattered and torn or clean and professional?
  5. Is your store clean and professional?  Counters clean, glass clean, signage clean, brochures stocked, coffee supplies and all signage is current?  You have so many things to look at within your store. I’ve seen xmas decorations stuffed in the corner, outdated sales offers, grime and grease all over the walls.  Open your eyes and have a look at your business as if you are about to buy it new – is it respected and well cared for?
  6. Does it look inviting?  Do you want to enter your business to see what it is about?  Is it bright, fresh, colorful and exciting or dark and depressing?
  7. Have you ever looked in the public washroom?
  8. How does the paint, tiles or carpet look?
  9. Have you ever sat in your waiting area?
  10. Have you ever heard the staff conversations you can hear while sitting in the waiting area?
  11. How do your people answer the phone?
  12. How does your phone system work?  Press 7 for customer service?  On hold music, message or blank?  Any idea how long the longest waiting customer is held on hold?
  13. How do your people thank your customers for doing business with you?
  14. Company vehicles – have you ever inspected them?
  15. Garbage around your store, muddy areas or sidewalks need to be shoveled?
  16. Staff areas open to customer viewing or completely closed off?
  17. What does your advertising say?  Is it consistent in its message?  Does it represent you with some sort of standard style?  Is it working?  Did it ever work?
  18. How does your website look?  When was it last updated?  What does it say?  Is it current and does it provide the information your customers are going to be looking for?

Take some time and examine your business and do it on a regular basis – learn to see your business with fresh eyes. Once you’ve seen it, get your husband or wife to see it with his or her eyes and see what they find that you missed or didn’t care about.

www.quickdeal.com          [email protected]          250-412-3500

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Slash and Burn? Tough times call for smarter moves. Tip #10

Tough times for business come and go but some people look at marketing as a luxury for business and not a requirement.  If that is the case for you, I only have two things to say:

  1. You probably don’t have much of a focus on marketing or you would see the value.
  2. It is never considered a luxury for a successful business.

Don’t make the fatal business mistake of cutting your marketing budget during tough times.  Marketing is an investment in your business and every day without marketing is another day that your investment loses the value it gained until now. Instead, look to invest more wisely in your marketing after reevaluating your business.

  • How have times changed and how will these tougher economic times affect your business and others?
  • How should changes in the economy alter your marketing message?
  • Where are you marketing and is that still going to provide the desired results you need during these difficult times?  Can you benefit from a cut back in traditional marketing for an investment in new media?
  • Can you benefit from the economic downturn?  For instance, if you sell economy cars, you may be well positioned to take advantage of the difficult times depending on how you position yourself.  Alternatively, as a luxury car retailer, perhaps you can motivate current luxury car owners to save in other ways like buying the newest model to decrease fuel consumption.
  • Can you renegotiate your media spends by buying smarter?  Many media companies have been feeling the pinch for the last decade and any commitment to longer term purchasing will often be rewarded with better rates.

Look for ways that you can reduce your costs for marketing but don’t cut back.  Tough times are when the weak businesses are hit the hardest and you need to be prepared to capitalize on that narrowed market of consumer choices.  Put the added effort in to your marketing and reevaluate how you are using all of your marketing funds.  Be ready.  Make some changes.  Be the one that takes advantage of the changing times.

www.quickdeal.com          [email protected]          250-412-3500

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Smart people love web statistics because 2 + 2 = 17 or 3. Tip #9

Statistics for marketers are crucial but as we all know, they can be used to support or deceive.   When it comes to web statistics, what is important?  Are those numbers bullet-proof or can they be shown to be incorrect?  We all know that 2 + 2 = 4 but when looking at stats it could = 7 or 3 or 17. Two plus two could equal anything, it just depends on how you look at those numbers.  Let’s look at a little bit of the lingo and understand the holes in the data before we look at how businesses should look at the web.

Hits:  Most people rarely talk about hits anymore because it really tells you very little.  A hit is calculated when a website page is loaded.  Every item on that page counts as a hit depending on how the page is designed, every graphic is a hit, the text is a hit, lines and tables can be more hits.  When a webpage opens, the hit tally could be 1 or 200 or anything in between.  Nobody cares about the number of hits.

Unique Visitors:  A great gauge in most cases but it has its flaws as well.  Unique visitors are calculated by IP address within a certain time frame, but of course I access Facebook on my work computer, my laptop, my home computer and on my Blackberry – therefore I am calculated as 4 unique visitors when it is only me.  In the case of company computers and even some home networks, IP addresses for individual computers can all sit behind a firewall and are all therefore counted as 1 unique IP address.  So 200 people in one office all visiting Facebook could only shown as 1 unique visitor.

Page views: This can be a great way to calculate traffic but it is flawed as well.  A page view is calculated every time a page is loaded within a website.  Entering the website is 1 page view, clicking on a tab or a link is another page view and going back is another one.  Different website such as Facebook can have users there for hours clicking on link after link and adding up page views in the hundreds or even thousands in a single day.  Now as a marketer, I see that as a definite advantage, especially if I’m advertising on that site because that individual user will have an opportunity to see my ad over and over again.  Frequency is everything in advertising.  Is having your ad seen once by 1000 people better than having your ad seen 10 times by 100 people?  How many times do you remember a company’s name after hearing or seeing it once?   Alternately having heard their name thousands of times, how likely are you to forget the name of the company that makes the Big Mac?

Advertising Impressions:  For advertisers, this is the number I care most about but it is still just a number.  This tells me the total number of times that my ad ended up in front of people.  It could be one person once and another person 10 times for a total of 11 ad impressions but I know how many times my ad was shown.  I can compare that to the month previous and can compare that to how much business I did compared to a similar month several months ago.  In the case of phone books, we pay for ads based on how many phone books are distributed but not how many people actually use them.  So when your city grows, so does the cost of your ad even though times may have changed and less people are actually using the phone book every year.  When your advertising impressions are increasing on the web and your cost doesn’t – that is added value.  A good gauge, but still just another statistic.

As a marketer, here is my best advice.  Put your business advertising in as many places as you can, reaching as many people as you can, who are likely to be looking for a business like yours, as many times as you can, for as little money as you can.   Simple.  Oh and if I can be so bold, I’d also suggest that you start decreasing the amount you spend in traditional advertising and increase your spending online.  After all, how many people pick up a newspaper or phone book any more.

www.quickdeal.com          [email protected]          250-412-3500

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Pass me my change correctly please Tip #8

Sure, it sounds like a simple thing and perhaps you have more to worry about but sometimes it is these simple things that add up to a lasting impression.  Training your people to do the job correctly is more than just how to use the cash register – perhaps we should focus more on how we serve the customer.  I have a number of pet peeves when it comes to customer service but one of the simplest to fix is how to give the customer back his change and it always surprises me how rarely it is done like it should be.

Sure, professionalism in customer service isn’t everyone’s forte but some things are so simple.  Your staff only learn what you teach them so dedicate 2 minutes a day to professionalism in customer service – you can start with how to give change.  Take notice the next time you are out and see how many different ways people give out change following a cash transaction.

How not to give change:

  • Don’t pass the customer the bills and then pour the change on top of the bills in his hand
  • Don’t set the change down on the counter
  • Don’t count out all of the nickels and pennies
  • Don’t give the bills first and then silver

My favorite way to give and receive change:

  • Let’s say the customer gives you a $20 bill for a purchase that is $14.42.  Take the customer’s $20 and set it on the top of your open cash tray, pull the change from the till and pass him the 58 cents saying “that is fifteen dollars” then hand him the five dollar bill “and that is $20.00 – thank you”.  Look for some sort of acknowledgment that he has received what he feels is the right amount of change for his $20.00 and then you can put the $20.00 away safely in your till.

Giving back change correctly does not mean that you have to count out all of the silver change but you should count out the bills.  Eg. on $4.42: that is five dollars, ten and twenty – thank you.  The process should be quick and is as much for your sake as a cashier as it is good customer service for the customer.

Take notice the next time you make a purchase and feel free to comment on this blog as to how you received your change.  Again, it is a simple aspect of customer service and will not likely make or break the success of your business.  With that said, I also believe that it is the attention to these types of details that will lead you to delivering excellence in customer service that will be memorable for your customers and set you apart from your competitors.  Now that you can train your people on how to give change, you are one step closer to being ready for QuickDeal to send you more customers – and we won’t mind now either.

www.quickdeal.com          [email protected]          250-412-3500

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