Thursday, December 29, 2011

Customer Dis-Service Summary 2011

Good customer service is your best marketing. Bad customer service is your strongest marketing challenge.

Is customer service getting worse? Or are customers becoming more demanding? I think that it is both. I know that I expect more and I'm experiencing worse customer service.

Review this summary of customer dis-service reports, posts and articles.

Customer Service Sucker Punch: How Can I Help You?

Have you noticed that this phrase does not often mean what the average person might think it means.

It's a deception, a feint, a sucker punch phrase wielded by customer service managers.

A sucker punch is an old boxing term. The fighter in the red trunks lowers his right hand thus leaving an opening. His opponent, the fighter in the blue trunks notices the opening and excitedly moves to take advantage of the opportunity. But Blue fails to notice Red's cocked left hand. Blue ignores caution and springs forward for an expected easy win. But Red catches Blue with his ready left. Red destroys Blue who walked into the sucker punch.
Read the rest of Customer Service Sucker Punch: How Can I Help You?

Apparently You, The Customer, Are The Problem

"I don't know what is going on. I was supposed to leave an hour and a half ago."
That was the first thing that our waitress said when she arrived at our table. We had arrived more than five minutes ago and quickly decided on our usuals. This was one of our regular restaurant chains. We had not been to this location before. We were on the way home after a long drive. We were looking forward to enjoy our usual, quick service and then back onto the highway for the final leg home.
Instead we were seated by a friendly hostess and quickly forgotten - or so it seemed. A stern waitress walked by us at least three times without making eye contact. A stoic waiter (who also had mastered the power of avoiding eye contact) served the group across from us who arrived after us. We were wondering if we should leave. Perhaps we were at the wrong table.
Customer service managers seem to be using this same technique on their customers. Instead of helping customers they sucker punch them.
Read the rest of Apparently You, The Customer, Are The Problem

Customer Dis-service: Have a Nice Day

That's what the cashier said to me at the end of my purchase. "Have a Nice Day."

I said nothing back. Why? Because I felt that her statement was insincere. From what I saw, her well-meaning statement was delivered because the company instructed her to deliver it at the end of every transaction. She really didn't mean it and she didn't understand why she was saying it.

The strange thing is that the cashier probably thought that I was rude for not responding.
Read the rest of Customer Disservice: Have a Nice Day


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Branding Summary 2011

Good time to review your branding strategy for 2012.

Check out these provocative articles about branding. Warning: You might find some of these ideas offensive - and that's what a good brand should do.

The Branding Fallacy

Your Branding might be killing your business

Beware of the branding zombies. They regurgitate meaningless mantras like "branding is good", "you need a brand" and "we can help you develop your brand." These creatures only want your life blood. Unfortunately these zombies don't look like the ones in Michael Jackson's Thriller video. They look like you and I. They call themselves branding consultants, marketing agencies or graphic designers. And they try to sell you snake oil remedies.

It's time for a branding wakeup call. This might hurt especially if you have recently succumbed to worship of the brand. Remember, "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain" in the movie The Wizard of OZ. I'm ripping back the curtain. You might not like what you see. But it might save your business. I'm urging you, "Pay attention to the man behind the curtain."
Read the rest of The Branding Fallacy

Five Steps to Build a Personal Brand Like Harry Houdini

Harry Houdini died in 1926 - more than 80 years ago. Yet he is still remembered as the greatest escape artist of all time. Even David Copperfield doesn't come close in terms of brand and name recognition. That is the power of personal branding. Build a solid personal brand and it catapults you to success. Build a really good personal brand and it survives your death. Will your brand survive 80 years after your death? More importantly, will your personal brand help you while you are alive?
Read the rest of Five Steps to Build a Personal Brand Like Harry Houdini

BRANDING : 7 Important Questions and the Straight Answers

Consider these important questions about branding and the brutally honest answers that could help you sell more and save you lots of money that is typically wasted on branding. If you sell yourself as a branding expert - you might not like these answers. These are frank answers that demystify branding.
Read the rest of BRANDING : 7 Important Questions and the Straight Answers

Branding Lessons from Genghis Khan, the Mongolian Marketer

What can a growing business learn about branding from Genghis Khan? He united and ruled Mongolia. Genghis is known as a strong ruler and conqueror. Some might call him cruel and vicious. But he is remembered as a strong, memorable and effective leader.
Genghis Khan provides powerful lessons for business on branding. Consider this branding challenge. Many countries, geographic regions and cultures are looking for creative ways to develop their tourism industry. How can developing countries develop their brand?
What can you do if you are Mongolia, a country that suffered almost 70 years of Soviet communism? (The Russians hated the Mongols.)
Play word association with the word "Mongolia" and you might reply with "Mongols" which would lead you to "Genghis Khan"; then you might run out of words. This is the challenge that Mongolia was facing.
Read the rest of Branding Lessons from Genghis Khan, the Mongolian Marketer

Is There a Brand in Your Stand?

Watch out for the branding gurus. Beware of the branding police who focus only on images of brand. Fire the branding consultants who feel qualified to tell you what your brand should be. Ignore the branding zealots who proclaim "brand or die".
Good, now that we have frightened off the undesirables let's address some fundamental questions about branding and offer you some probing questions to consider. That first paragraph demonstrates the three rules of creative positioning as explained below.
Should you have a brand?

Maybe. It depends on the goals of your business. You need to ask yourself some questions. Will the brand give you the return on your investment? Will you invest the resources to claim and sustain the brand?
Read the rest of Is There a Brand in Your Stand?

George Torok
Marketing Keynote Speaker
More Marketing Articles


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Marketing Article Review - 2011

In case you missed them or would like a refresher here are the top marketing articles that I published this past year.

Viral Marketing

Viral Marketing is so powerful because it is like a train building up speed. Once it is moving you can't stop it without derailing the train. It takes a lot of steam to get the train moving. And it is difficult to stop. The train will almost always follow the tracks. You never really know for sure where your viral marketing campaign might lead.

Viral marketing is well named because, when done right, it spreads like a virus. The term viral marketing might be too graphic for some because it brings to mind the viral spread of disease such as the bubonic plague, typhoid, and AIDS. Read the rest of Viral Marketing

Strategic Re-Positioning: Riviera Maya

My first visit to Mexico was to Acapulco on the Pacific coast. It was the seventies, disco was king and Acapulco was the singles' hotspot.

A decade later I visited Puerto Vallarta, also on the Pacific coast for a more relaxed vacation.

Cancun and the Yucatan Peninsula started to gain popularity because of the sandy beaches, warm water scuba diving and proximity to Mayan temples.

Mexico as a winter escape vacation has long attracted northerners - especially Canadians. But it has always had lots of competition from the rest of the Caribbean and even the Southern USA.
Read the rest of Strategic Re-Positioning: Riviera Maya

Strategic Positioning: The Battle for Market Dominance

The most important marketing question that you need to address in your business is "What position do you want to hold - in the market and in the minds of your clients?"

Why is that question so important to you?

The answer to that question will clarify your strategy and direction. And that answer will answer a lot of other distracting questions quickly.

This is a tough question. That's why many business owners don't address it. Think about the significance of that. If most aren't addressing this fundamental question about their business then there is a huge opportunity for you if you are willing to do the heavy lifting.
Read the rest of Strategic Positioning: The Battle for Market Dominance

Marketing Success: Lead With Success Stories

Results sell. The purpose of marketing is to make it easier to sell and nothing sells like results. To capture attention and convert more prospects into eager buyers with your marketing - lead with success stories.

Feature success stories in your advertising, on your website, in your sales calls, and in your networking. Include them on every marketing channel.

This approach is even more important during challenging times. If your clients and prospects are hoarding their money you need to attract their attention and their money with success stories.
Read the rest of Marketing Success: Lead With Success Stories

Marketing Strategy: Fight an Evil Enemy

Conflict sells. If you want to be noticed fight a powerful and evil enemy. Who or what are you fighting? While planning your marketing strategy pick an enemy. The tougher, the meaner, the more disgusting your enemy - the better for you. That positions you as the hero.

"You complete me"

The Joker taunted Batman with that phrase in the movie The Dark Knight. The public image of both Batman and the Joker were stronger because of their conflict. A champion needs a formidable villain and vice versa.

The marketing lesson from that is that the public defines you by your competition. If you are not well known maybe you need to pick a tougher enemy.
Read the rest of Marketing Strategy: Fight an Evil Enemy

George Torok

Marketing Keynote Speaker


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What's Your Story?

"It was a dark and stormy night"

That engaging line marked the begining of an old story. Although many of us might recognize the line few might know the author, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, or the title, Paul Clifford. It was published in 1830.

The point is that stories capture attention and good stories are remembered. Stories are powerful marketing tools.

Now there is scientific proof of the effect of stories on the brain. Read about Your Brain on Stories at the Neuromarketing blog. Note the report about how they used MRI to measure the effect of story telling on different parts of the brain.

Notice how the story about the Snow blower add on Kijiji that went viral. The well written ad captured attention because it was written in a story telling manner.

Read the Huffington Post report about Kijiji Snowblower Ad From Moncton, New Brunswick: Genius Ad Offers Chance To 'Punch Snow In The Throat'

Back to where we began. What's Your Story?

If you aren't telling your product/business/career story, perhaps it's time to start.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

BMO Customer Service Shines: Kudos to Bank of Montreal

The Bank of Montreal has been impressing me with their customer service lately.

I received a phone call from the bank that my line of credit was over drawn. The message requested that I take care of that differennce today.

It was my mistake. I had miscalculated. I was delighted to receive that call for two reasons.

1. BMO did not bounce the cheque that put it over.
2. BMO called to alert me to the problem.

Naturally I returned the call and corrected the overage that afternoon.

BMO did two simple things that I appreciate. Apparently it is possible for the bank to do that.

Contrast that with my experience with the TD Bank. When faced with a similar situation TD bounced my cheque and did not call me. Instead, they mailed me a noticed that arrived a week later. And TD charged me for a bounced cheque from them and the other bank plus an overdraft charge.

When I received the notice I called immediatley. I visited the bank and fixed the overage. I asked the TD Bank to call me when and if this happens again. They informed me that they didn't have time to call everybody... What that really meant is that they had no intention of calling me because I wasn't important to them.

I have been a customer of both the TD and and BMO banks for at least 30 years.

Just imagine that. There is a problem - so you call your customer and let them know. That is so easy to do. Why don't they all do that?

I know. Some of them are too busy to talk to customers.

Kudos to Bank of Montreal.
Lumps of coal to TD Bank.

George Torok
Marketing Expert
Marketing Speaker
Radio Show Host of Business in Motion


Friday, December 09, 2011

Add Some Conflict to Make Your PR Programs Pop

Conflict sells. Conflict makes the news, grabs attention and gets discussed at the water cooler. If you want to be noticed, fight a powerful and evil enemy. Who or what demon are you fighting? While planning your PR strategy, pick your enemy strategically. The tougher, meaner and more disgusting your enemy—the better for you. That positions you clearly as the hero.

The Joker taunted Batman with the phrase "you complete me" in the movie The Dark Knight. The public image of both Batman and the Joker were stronger because of their conflict. A champion needs a formidable villain, and vice versa.

The PR lesson is that the public defines you by your competition. If you are not well known maybe you need to pick a tougher, more visible enemy.

Make your enemy appear more frightening

Read the rest of this article on PR News Online

George Torok is a Marketing Expert and a contributor to PR News Online


Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Post Card Marketing: Good Idea - Bad Design

Have a quick look at this post card. Ask yourself two questions as you scan it: What stands out? and What are they selling?

postcard marketing gone bad
I'm a big fan of post card marketing because it is not used enough - so it tends to stand out and it is relatively inexpensive compared to other off line direct marketing. And most of us would rather receive a post card over a letter.

The first question: What stands out? What caught your attention?

Likely the first thing you noticed was "Bil Copeland" in the top left because that is where our eyes start. But who and what is Bil Copeland? Is the name a mis-spelling? And more more importantly, how can he help you?

The next place that catches your attention is the bottom right corner "RockStar".

Perhaps he is a Rockstar or wannabe Rockstar. So what? Why should you care?

Because I'm a marketer, I reread this postcard a few times. My guess is the average recepiant would not invest the same about of time or attention to this confusing postcard.

The mistakes:

No clear benefit to grab attention
Trying to promote two different services on the same postcard
Too much text, Way too much!!!
No clear understanding of what your prospects want
No call to action
No benefits to grab attention
Difficult to read text and way too much
No clear direction of eye movement

It's a colourful postcard - but a lousy marketing piece.

George Torok


Monday, December 05, 2011

With All Due Respect

What does the phrase, "with all due respect" really mean?

It might mean:


"You annoyed me and I'm only saying this because you are a paying customer"

"I don't respect you or your opinion at all"

"This message has nothing to do with respect"

"Now listen to my excuse"

"How dare you"

"You just don't appreciate how hard I work"

"Now I'm going to tell you why you are wrong"

"No respect is due"

Which of those do you think is most appropriate for the use in the following sentence?

"With all due respect, I have over 190+ accounts to take care of and I with all honesty try my best to give everyone special attention..."

I received an email that started with that sentence in response to my message of disappointment and request for more specific details about a promotion that this supplier had done for my service.

Couple "with all due respect" with the phrase "with all honesty" and you have a major train derailment here.

Both of those phrases are land mine phrases. They trigger questions and feelings of just of the opposite of what they might be intended to imply. Why? Because they seem out of place and a case of Shakespeare's "the lady doth protest too much".

If you're unhappy or simply asking for better service, do you care how many clients your service representative serves? How is that relevant to you?

And if the disappointing service that you received was "special attention" what would "less than special" look like?

With all due respect (oops)

George Torok

Marketing Speaker

Secrets of Power Marketing


Thursday, December 01, 2011

Do You Need More of Your Clients To Complain?

Maybe your business would improve if you heard more complaints from your customers.

Re-read that last statement and instead of focusing on “more complaints” focus on “heard more”.

It might not be about needing more complaints. There could easily be enough available. It might be that you need to listen better to the complaints. Those customer complaints could be an amazing free marketing research resource for you – if you listen.

I overheard a mother protest that she was tired of the school calling her about her son. Wow. Why would she not want to receive feedback from the school about her son? Good or bad news – wouldn’t a caring mother want to know how to help her son? The school was calling her because they cared and thought that she did too. Apparently she didn’t want to be bothered with bad news.

Good or bad news – you’d think that a concerned business owner or company president would want to know how to improve the experience for his customers. Listen without judging to customers and they will tell you what you need to know.

Customer complaints mostly come from customers who care about the relationship and want to improve it. Why would any business ignore this valuable constructive feedback?

Customers who don’t care about you or your relationship don’t complain. They quietly leave and buy somewhere else. They will most likely tell their friends about their negative experience.

You might not like to hear what they are saying. It might hurt. You might even take it personally.

The simplest way to reduce the complaints from customers is to tell your customers that you don’t care about them or their opinions. You can to that by making the complaint process onerous. You can dissuade customer complaints by instructing your staff to quote company policy. You can reduce customer complaints by refusing to talk to customers and instructing your staff to screen all calls.

I agree that not all complaints are valid. But you can learn from all complaints. If you are the CEO don’t be surprised if you don’t like the tone of the customer complaint by the time it gets to you. Just imagine the layers of frustration that your customer might have encountered on the uphill climb to reach you.

If you are the CEO and you are shielding yourself from customer complaints – then don’t be surprised when you get fired – by the customer or by your board.

George Torok

Marketing Speaker