Category Archives: Communications

Networking is about paying it forward

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

Social Media guru Chris Brogan has a weekly magazine that dishes out great advice on a range of things. This week he talks about paying it forward, building networks that focus on cultivating relationships.

He says, “the word “cultivate” means to develop. That means that YOU have to work to make the relationship better. It doesn’t mean “meet people so you can ask them to help you do something.”

I have written before about the value of networks,  face to face interaction. There is no instant gratification here and those who glad-hand their way through a networking event and follow up with a hard sales push will lose more business than they will gain.

The first barrier to break down is trust. If you are doing most of the talking in a networking environment, the chance of building  any sort relationship is remote. Listen. Ask questions. Focus on who you are listening to and not  the next mark. Trust takes time to build but the wait is worth it.

Here are some tips from Brogan. And check out Owner Magazine.

Brogan's site OwnerBUILD A HELPFUL NETWORK

1.) Be open to connecting with anyone. You never know.
2.) When introducing others, ask first privately if you can make the introduction (lots of times, people introduce me to others that I can’t much help, for instance).
3.) Upon meeting someone new, think of ways you can help them. I promise this is MUCH more useful than thinking of ways they can help you.
4.) Set calendar reminders or ANY other method to keep in touch with people on a semi regular basis. Cold networks don’t help.
5.) Connect great people in your network together. It’s always greater than the sum of the separate parts.

You can subscribe to Owner Magazine here

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Filed under Communications, Networking

Does Your Business Respond With RAGE?

JBMG_5500aBy Jeff Bowman

Nothing says more about a company than how they respond to customer complaints. As hard as we might try to be perfect in our business, there will always be something that someone either doesn’t like or appreciate about what we do. As we all know, most people will never complain directly to you, however they will talk to everyone they know behind our corporate backs, and that is far more damaging than expressing their concerns directly in the first place.

The thing is, that business owners often don’t want to hear complaints, they don’t encourage customer interaction and often won’t acknowledge there is even an issue. Educated consumers and social media have been changing all that!  Now the “talk to their friends behind your corporate back” means involving the masses through “internet interaction”.  There have been tons of high-profile cases where social unrest bred through internet or twitter posts have led to serious issues for large corporations.  Kevin Smith vs, Southwest Airlines , Lulu Lemon’s “exposure” grew tremendously due to the web. Maritz Research recently studied Twitter complaints and found that almost 70% went unresponded to by the company being tweeted about! That is simply unacceptable in today’s business world

Conversely, the study found that 83% of the complainants that received a reply liked or loved the fact that the company responded.Liked or loved, those are some pretty strong words! I’ll bet that those companies who responded did it with RAGE.  RAGE is my acronym for Recognize, Acknowledge, Gauge and Evaluate.

To be able to recognize that there is an issue, you need to invite conversation through social media, so that consumers can hopefully talk to you first. If they like the response, chances are they will not only like it, but respond socially in a more positive light about you.

When you acknowledge, you do it with empathy and understanding.  Put yourself in the consumer’s boots and respond in a way that shows real concern and a desire to rectify the situation.

Continue to gauge social media to determine if there is more to the issue than a few scattered complaints, as well as seeing if your goodwill is gaining you points by those who you have responded to.  Is your name popping up elsewhere or are you trending?

Finally, evaluate what happened, how quickly you responded, the importance of your actions, the outcome and if there is anything else that is warranted to be done. Try to measure the increase in goodwill that occurs after the initial interaction.

Utilizing RAGE to your benefit will help you turn dissatisfaction into trust, respect and business growth.  Turn those with complaints into your company’s evangelists and turn the social media tide in your favour.

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Filed under blogging, Communications, Customer Service, Jeff Bowman, social capital, social media, Social Networking, twitter

Do You Measure Once, Cut Twice?

JBMG_5500aBy Jeff Bowman

Business owners often have a couple of objective measurements that they make to gauge the effectiveness of their efforts. As admirable as that is, the problem remains that these measurements are normally conducted quarterly, bi-annually or at year-end, and often measure the relative financial success of the organization, while leaving unanswered critical questions about the how’s, the whys and the when’s.

George Bernard Shaw once said; “The only man who behaves sensibly is my tailor; he takes my measurements anew every time he sees me, while all the rest go on with their old measurements and expect me to fit them”. This applies to the majority of business people today. We carry on with our business activities for months, sometimes years without checking back to those who are directly responsible for the success or failure of our business, our clients. Maintaining the status quo, assuming that our product or services are still desired, well received and recommended by clients can be a fatal error in judgment.iStock_000013870483Small

Here are 5 questions you need to have answers to at regular frequencies in order to strategically develop your business activities.

  1. How do your new customers hear about you? Was it through referrals, your marketing, networking or some other way? How will you capitalize on this information once you have the answers?
  2. Did your product or service offer them a solution to a problem or issue they were encountering?  Was the solution sensational, very good or adequate? Can you get a testimonial?
  3. What features of your product or service are providing the greatest benefit to the clients? Is there a way to build on those? Are there other potential markets? Does the feature provide a future opportunity to solve other issues?
  4. What do your customers tell others about you, your company, your product or service and the experience of dealing with you? How often do you survey your clients?  Do you provide a mechanism for them to feed this information to you? Do you want to hear the good and the bad?
  5. Are there misconceptions about your product or service floating around in the marketplace?  Are you aware of anything negative on social media about you or your business?  Do you respond and if so how? Have you ever heard a potential client express any concern about dealing with you from something they might have heard?

We can spend countless hours testing and measuring every area of our business, and still emerge with a basic misunderstanding of why we are successful or where our failures are being hidden.  Keeping in touch with our clients provides us the truest measure of our efforts, and the clearest direction on how to grow, yet it is an area we often ignore until it may be too late. Continuous feedback allows us to make adjustments as we need them which gives a small business a huge advantage over larger organizations where change may be more cumbersome. By measuring once and cutting often, you are creating greater opportunity for errors in your business.

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Filed under Communications, Customer Service, Jeff Bowman, Small Business

Word of mouth requires word of mouth

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

About a year ago I watched my 15-year-old grand-daughter text her girlfriend, who was sitting opposite on the couch. My wife thought it was a secret conversation that perhaps they didn’t want to share. But since then, some of my friends have shared similar experiences with today’s youth and I am concerned that they will lose the skill that will best elevate their careers, promote their businesses, advance their cause. Word of mouth.

Text MessagingWord of mouth is the cash cow of marketing. Yet, we seem to go to great lengths to avoid our customers. Are we afraid of what they might say? Do we lack confidence in our product or service offering?

Strange, perhaps, that social media is forcing us to acknowledge that being social is good for business. The tools are there to help build on that social interaction not create a barrier between you and your customer. And for businesses that get it, tools like Twitter and LinkedIn, Facebook and Pinterest provide a foundation on which to build a strong business relationship that ultimately means face time and that’s where business begins.

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Filed under advertising, Communications, Facebook, LinkedIn, Marketing, Pinterest, social media, Social Networking, Stephen Rhodes, twitter

Heartfelt thanks to all our clients, suppliers and associates.

JBMG_5500aBy Jeff Bowmanstephen2

The Marketing Pad Inc. takes home the Platinum!

We are honoured to have been voted the Platinum Award Winners in The Brampton Business Times Reader’s Choice Awards for 2013 in the categories of “Advertising and Marketing”, as well as “Communications and Public Relations” and “Web Design”.bbt_platinum_13-001

We also won Gold in “Graphics” and Silver in “Corporate Training and Development”.

We would like to thank all our clients and suppliers for their support over the past years!

Please read the story on The Marketing Pad at this link.

Brampton Business Times  (Right hand side of page)

The Marketing Pad is very much padding it s CV with more wins in our Top Performers online survey.

With a platinum win in Advertising & Marketing, another in Communications Sales & Service, a gold in Graphics, and another platinum in Web Design, this service provider to the business community is indeed on a roll ….

 

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Filed under advertising, Communications, Jeff Bowman, Marketing, Stephen Rhodes, Strategic Planning, Training and Development