Negative Reviews: I’d Really Rather You Just Helped Me!

Negative Reviews: I'd Really Rather You Just Helped Me!

Dear Service Provider,

I’d like to share something with you. Something important. Something I really feel you should know.

I’d really rather do ALMOST ANYTHING else before I am forced to leave you a negative review.

While I’m known for the occasional ranting read and my sass and snark are oft mentioned before any of my other attributes, I’m really not all that into slamming your services online.

I’d rather not sign onto Yelp and leave a nasty review, or even a not so nasty review.

As a matter of fact, I’ve never left a review, negative or otherwise, on Yelp.

Provide The Services I’m Paying For!

While I’m sure a negative review might get you to stand up and take notice that I’m unhappy, I’d really prefer a speedy resolution.

This article was prompted by a heartfelt plea for understanding from a new digital marketing friend. She posted to Facebook, solely for the response of her friends and peer group, asking whether or a company with which she was having issues actually cared.

Let me reiterate, my friend didn’t tag the company in the complaint or blast them across social channels. She was merely looking for feedback and a little empathy from her trusted circle.

Hear me now service provider! Don’t make me complain to my friends. Because the next step up from there often involves my friends telling me how to take my complaints to the next level.

I’d rather you just help me when I create and send a support ticket. I’ve either already paid for your service, or I continue to pay for it on a monthly basis. When I have a problem I’d like to know I can contact you in order to effect a speedy and long-lasting resolution.

Don’t Make Me Jump Through Hoops!

I’m not a fan of the phone. But many people prefer it as a means of communication.

As much as I’d rather chat on Skype or via a Google Hangout, I actually post my phone number prominently in the header of my website, so that those with a preference for the phone can easily dial my digits as needed.

Far too many digital service providers don’t post numbers at all, or bury it so deep in their site that no customer can spare the time to actually dig it up.

I’d also like it if you actually posted an email address. Your forms are fine, but when I’m really having an issue, I’d like to know I have other options.

Last thing on this subtopic, if you’re going to post that you offer LiveChat, you need to actually have it operational, at the very least, during a business hours window.

Monitor Your Mentions Before We Melt Down!

I don’t really want to call out your company in 140 characters of scathing sass and snark.

I’d rather you actually monitor your Twitter feed to see if we’re mentioning issues. Then, once you see we’re sharing issues in tweets, I’d really appreciate it if you’d provide regular updates, via tweet, to keep me informed.

It would be great if you had a staffer that actually checked your Facebook messages from time to time. You see, I believe that you share negative feedback in private, thus I sent you a PM. Don’t make me take it public for all of the Facebook-o-sphere to see.

We’re Just Looking For A Little Help!

When we have an issue with your product, we’d like to think that you’re actually trying to feel some of our pain. So, act and react with a little empathy, please.

Have you ever been forced to take your woes to the next level with a public social media post? Have you ever left a negative review, be it on Yelp, a Facebook page or elsewhere?

Content Marketing: Can Storytelling Sabotage You?

It’s become another overused, often misunderstood buzzword amongst content marketers, bloggers, copywriters, etc …

Storytelling

We’re asked daily if we’re telling our story. Our brand story, product story, personal story, bathroom break policy story.

Okay, I may have taken it a step too far with the final example, which leads me to the point and purpose of this article.

Can we take storytelling too far?

Can storytelling go wrong? Can we sabotage our story and, with it, our brand or business?

Yes! If you get a little too caught up in telling your story, the focus becomes all about Y-O-U. While the story should always reflect you, it should also draw in your audience with the allure of either a shared experience or a solution that fits their needs, suits their situation.

Storytelling That Succeeds

The story has to relate to your readers in a significant way or they’ll pass it off as needless and narcissistic.

The story starts to sabotage you when you forget you’re writing for the audience and start lauding yourself as the storyteller.

If your story resonates with your readers, taps into their emotions, causes them to reconsider or persuades them to pose a question … well, then it’s successful. If your story causes your audience to take any action except clicking away to something more suitable, I say you add a check to the win column.

However, far too many stories cause that calculated “click away.” Once a reader clicks away too many times they might consider opting out, hiding you from their streams or even, YIKES, unfollowing you.

Is Your Story Too Long?

A connection of mine recently spun out a personal story over several blog posts, social media posts and more.

The story was quite compelling. Something very relatable to a large part of the overall population and her following.

The problem? It centered solely on her experience. Which would have been absolutely fabulously okay for one reading, one share. But the story went on and on, with the same chapter and verse repeated over AND over again.

Instead of spinning the story in a different direction and drawing in readers by making it about THEM, she centered the story on herself.

The Story Killer? Self Congratulations!

This connection made a fatal error when the story stopped being about the story itself, a shared experience that could have touched many, and continued to share her own successes, tied to the story, in a self congratulatory way.

Put quite simply, the repeated postings started to sound an awful lot like bragging.

Stop Turning Stories Into Press Releases

If your story screams, “See ME, see how I prevailed,” it’s no longer a shared story that’s meant to spark discussion, create connection and build lasting relationships.

Consider this, is it a story or a press release? Are you broadcasting or sharing? Is it all about you, or is it about your audience and their experiences?

Stories can absolutely sell. But they first have to connect with your audience, building trust in your shared experiences. Otherwise it’s just a promotional blast that will fade into the noisy and forgettable content coffers.

How do you share stories without making them all about Y-O-U?

Better Blogging: Stop Being So Generic!

This better blogging series has been an absolute blast. As more and more content marketers embrace the idea that truly unique content will set them apart, there’s a need to take a deeper look at the idea of unique in order to create the articles, graphics and other types of content that will be consumed, shared and discussed.

Is anyone else tired of the proliferation of listless list posts?

Touted as top tips or best practices, these lists are so rarely enlightening, entertaining or educational.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing better than a carefully crafted list post. Done well they’re chock full of smarts and savvy and are often bookmarked for future reference and sharing.

But how many times do we need to see Hootsuite listed as a top social media management tool? How many times do we need to see Feedly listed as a top RSS feed/curation tool? Been there, done that and the T-shirt’s kinda boring.

What about top tips? How many times must we be told that consistency is crucial to content and/or social media marketing? Don’t put another dime in the jukebox, toots … I don’t need to hear that song again.

I know, I know, you’re about to tell me that your articles are targeting newer content and social media marketers, those that have no idea that Hootsuite is a much revered social media management and monitoring tool, those that have NO idea that consistency is a key part of any marketing effort.

Seriously? Stop!

Stop being so generic!

Maybe there are truly NO new topics to be covered. Maybe all you can do is share the same ideas as marketers X, Y and Z. But, if that’s the case, give them a little something that makes them your own.

These better blogging posts may, in fact, be sharing tips that others have already covered. BUT? I managed to share better blogging tips tied to Depeche Mode and R.E.M songs. And, in doing so, I managed to make those tips truly my own, as they featured my own unique take, my own spin, my own notes. I think that’s enough music references for now!

The point is, I added a good dose of Mallie and music to some ideas that have certainly been shared before. And adding that bit of Mallie and music made the content stand out from the listless lists and the regurgitated ramblings.

What are you doing to make the content you’re publishing sing?

Does each article you publish stand out? Is every bit of your blogging effort helping your expertise shout out from the rooftops? If not, it’s probably because it’s a little too generic.

Generic and generalized tips and lists don’t help you hop down from atop the shoulders of giants. Regurgitating the same sad facts makes for sad content. No one wants to share sad content. Very little discussion is generated by the same old same old.

How are you adding an extra dose of YOU-nique to your content?

Social Design: Choose Your Words Wisely!

Social Design: Choose Your Words Wisely!

I’ve said it so many times, I’m sure I’ve lost count – but your presence, the vision and tone that comes across as your online or social design is about so much more than font choice, color schemes and custom graphics. The very words you choose, and how you choose to use them, makes a lasting impression on your audience. Wouldn’t you rather that lasting impression didn’t leave you looking like an idiot?

Typos happen, even incorrect word choice typos. We all post the occasional it’s when we should use its. How you deal with these makes all the difference. I fess up, immediately. If it’s a post that has yet to receive any comments or nods of approval, I delete it and start over. Fast fingers and busy schedules often result in typos. But, I’m not talking about the occasional typo. We all know when it’s a typo and when it’s much more.

Copyediting is just one of many tasks on my plate as a content marketer. From run on sentences to poor comma placement, I read, revise, read again. Copyediting is also a service I provide under contract. Commas, spacing issues, misspellings and more tend to fill my days. However, I think word choice errors are the errors that can play the most havoc with your brand and your reputation.

Admit it, when you see someone post something similar to the sentences below you feel a momentary twinge, a feeling of shame:

Your the best fans ever.

Their is nothing wrong with the occasional fill in the blank post.

I would of called you if I knew you were going to be in town.

We love are followers!

The last one, especially, makes my eyes want to die a little bit!

Who’s to blame? The expectation of our fans, followers and customers/clients? Does the expectation of a rapid response negate the need for a second set of eyes? Should we blame the education system?  Or the government for handily and repeatedly reducing education spending? My answer might not make any of my readers happy. We can only blame ourselves. The blame falls on the individual author. Because, you see, we all know better.

We know that the contraction would’ve comes from the words would and have. But we think it’s cute and trendy to say “would of”. Trust me, it’s simply wrong, not hip. We could attempt to blame text speak and the propensity to use ur instead of you are. But that one loses its merit when you realize your isn’t the same as you are or you’re and has nothing to do with text speak.

So, I’ve called you all out, in a somewhat snarky fashion. But I’m not going to leave you hanging. I plan to offer you two easy solutions to your word choice woes.

1. Ask someone you trust to be your second set of eyes. Someone who won’t skim, someone who will read with the intent to seek and destroy faulty grammar and improper word choice/use.

2. Can’t get someone to act as a second set of eyes? Use your lips. What? Your eyes aren’t deceiving you. Read your article/post OUT LOUD. Expand those contractions. I would’ve, expanded, reads out loud as I would have. Which is correct. HOORAY. They’re coming to see me expands to they are coming to see me. Correct again. If it sounds wrong when you read it, it’s worth that second look with your own eyes.

While our fans, followers and connections do expect a quick response, a short pause for a second set of eyes or a quick read aloud can save face when it means weeding out word choice errors.

Social Design: Your Genuine Voice

Social Design: Your Genuine Voice

When you hear the words “social design”, you might immediately pair that phrase with the idea of images. While images are a key part of your social design and style – and will be discussed in a variety of different ways in future – they are only part of your overall design plan and course of action.

Social experts and entrepreneurs hammer home this crucial point more than any other, that social savvy and success hinge upon conversations, sharing stories and building relationships. How does that fit into your style? It’s a crucial element. Almost as often as you hear the words “story”, you also hear the word “genuine”. In order to have a successful social style you must remain true to your own style.

Are you scientific, perhaps a little bit geeky? Do you ramble? Are you short, succinct and to the point? Nothing at all wrong with either of those styles. You simply have to promote that style in an engaging way within your social design framework. Remember, engaging is different than engagement. Being engaging will earn your a relationship, and possibly engagement, over time.

Your word choice, writing style and overall tone all play a part in your social style as employed to uphold your social design. Because of this, some social platforms will work better for you than others. If you are that succinct, to the point, person mentioned above, Twitter is quite well suited to your style. You’ll have to work a bit harder to make it work for you on Facebook. But, short and succinct also works well on Pinterest. How so? While we all love infographics, we also know that sometimes they seem to stretch on forever, until we come across that gem that says it all in a small, but perfectly designed area. Those are the gems the short, succinct, to the point stylist should post and share.

Your digital style has to match your in-person style. I’ll use myself as an example. Both in day to day in-person conversations and in writing I ask a lot of questions, both rhetorical and those that request a response. Then I follow up with a, usually, pithy response. Again, I do that in all types of conversations. Both online and off. Because we’re having conversations, even when our actual voice is never put into use, it’s essential to use our own tone and style in order to make that voice genuine.

While imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, mimicry doesn’t work when taken too far. Yes, you can get an idea from someone else’s writing and effectively add your own unique spin and flavor, creating something new and useful. However, if you try to cover up your own voice and ideas you will be regurgitating at best and plagiarizing at worst. Neither will earn you much credit with your followers and connections.

Go back through your posts. Which ones get the most interaction, whether likes, comments or shares? If you do a little research I’ll bet the posts that get your followers the most involved are those where you are using your own unique tone and style. Why? The word “unique” is the key. In the vastly jaded world of business, there’s a been there, done that, seen it all mentality that permeates deeply. Our unique voice is all we have to punch through that fog in order showcase our expertise, ideas and our own spin.

So the next time you’re thinking about your social design structure, think voice and tone along with imagery. That’s the complete package.

Building Relationships By Design

Building Relationships By Design

Do you know why salespeople need to look polished at all times? Because people judge them within the first 30 seconds of meeting them.

We would all like it more if people were able to listen to what we have say, rather than focusing on how we look. It’s superficial. Shallow. And like it or not, people are going to judge you this way, too.

You have precious seconds, not minutes, to make or break your first impression.

The moment you walk in the door, your potential dream client is judging you based on how you look.

Today, your customer’s first impression happens online. They are typically 70%-80% into the buying process before they ever contact you. Those few seconds of attention they give your website can make all the difference.

Don’t Underestimate First Impressions

Relationships, in business and in life, are all about trust. We want to buy from people we know, like and trust enough to give us sound advice.

Your goal, then, is to reach out your hand to each potential customer and bring them into your world. Let them explore. Let them get to know you, and what you offer.

You can build trust with your customer through your consistency, your authority, and your service. But what about your first impression?

How are you conveying these ideals to build trust with your audience when they first visit your site? Or see your Twitter profile? Or look at your business card?

It starts with design.

The visual design of your brand is the most important tool you have to instantly make a positive impression on people. It should communicate who you are and what your story is to anyone who happens to visit. And that message should stay consistent throughout your online and offline presence.

Does your website do this for your brand?

Ask yourself:

  1. What is the most important thing I want my site to communicate?
  2. Does it show who I am and what I do within a few seconds?
  3. Can my visitors easily determine what the next steps are from the pages they land on?
  4. Do my social outposts share a common design that ties together my online presence?

If your site gives your visitors flashbacks to the nineties, or leaves them confused in any way, you’ve already lost credibility.

Thinking Through the Entire Customer Experience

Like it or not, your customers will be vetting you throughout their experience with you and your business. Every interaction you have with them is a chance to win them or lose them all over again.

After they buy from you, your customer service matters. During the sales process, what you say and how you act matters. And before they even talk to you, your appearance matters.

A professional, compelling design for your website may be the first thing people see. It can help

communicate your story to the viewer, draw them in, and begin to build trust. It’s the very first step in

the relationship building process.

People will do their research. They are probably out there right now, comparing you and your

competitors based on the first impressions they get from your website.

How will you win them over?

Social Design: Your Brand Presence On Social Media

Social Design: Your Brand Presence On Social Media

When we think about design, numerous phrases come to mind: interior, graphic, web, etc. But when I say the words “social design”, I often get quizzical looks. Then the questions start.

Oh, you mean my logo?

Oh, are you talking about my Facebook cover?

Oh, okay! We’re discussing my blog header, right?

Yes, but there’s so much more! Sure, your colors, fonts, taglines, avatars and identity images (logos and headshots) play a huge role in social design. Of course you want your brand to be represented. But your brand is a whole lot more than the tangible, visual elements I just listed.

Your brand also has a personality and tone. This personality and tone must be reinforced in a variety of post types across a multitude of social media platforms. Your brand must shine in short form bursts on Twitter, as well as the  longer posts, questions and discussion – often with images – you share on Facebook,  AND the still longer discussions and sharing of ideas  when you publish via your blog.

The content your create and share (because we all know we can’t create it all) is also part of your well designed social business presence. Carefully reading and vetting the content of the authors with whom we are connected, we then must carefully choose the articles and ideas based on ideas, outlooks and concepts that are similar to our own. The connections we make and build with others influence the future connections we will make, and, thus, the future content we’ll share.

So, social design has to be fluid – as we will all continue to connect and build new relationships as we grow our own presence.

How does one maintain a focused brand identity with the constant change and flux that is social business? It’s a topic we’ll be digging into in future articles and discussions. While there are purely visual elements of your brand, and it’s very important to keep them focused and cohesive across platforms, as we stated above there’s much, much more.

Your brand is the foundation, the bricks and mortar behind your business. It’s made up of so very many elements, from your logo to the people you hire or with whom you choose to collaborate. We look forward to digging a little deeper and sharing many thoughts and ideas that will help you solidify and strengthen your brand across your varied digital marketing hubs.

Please share what comes to mind when you hear the phrase “social design.”

No, We Can’t Design A Logo For $50!

No, We Can't Design A Logo For $50!

A.K.A. Why Are Your Services So Expensive

Mr. Hart and I often find we’re asked why our design services “cost so much?”

Especially when it comes to logos. It’s time to explain why OH why we can’t knock out your logo for tens of dollars!

A logo is just one small part of your brand. It’s not a brand in entirety, but we believe that most entrepreneurs would admit that a logo is one key element when it comes to branding, marketing and recognition. We consider your logo a “foundation” piece in your overall branding, messaging and marketing plan. It plays a huge role in both print and digital applications, requiring differing file types, permutations and more. When we deliver a logo, we factor in all of those permutations. Meaning? It’s not a one file fits all delivery.

You might need a logo in limited colors for certain print applications. We make sure that’s a possibility. Need it to work in black and white? Factored in. Need both portrait and landscape iterations? No worries. Need it to be scalable for a variety of digital and print applications from business cards to billboards? We make it happen.

As you can see, it’s not an easy 1-2-3 and done, simple design solution. But there’s even more.

Want that tagline used with the logo? Has to be legible doesn’t it? We have to factor in kerning, line spacing, readability and more. Using a script font? Will it work in all sizes? We have to check, some don’t flow as well the bigger they get. Want it bold or ALL CAPPED for specific purposes? The font has to allow for that.

The smart logo designer has to understand typography, color theory, color connotation, scalability, digital and print application and so much more.

So, no – we can’t design your logo for $50.00. Hopefully, you now understand why.