Happy Freakin’ Monday Ep 18 – Greatest Lesson In Customer Service

This is the greatest customer service lesson I learned when working in retail. It’s simple, it is “always return the toaster.”

Let’s say that someone came to your business, to return a toaster but the problem is that you don’t sell toasters. What do you do?

Well this actually happened once when I was working at a “Sporting Lifestyle” store. If you don’t know what that means, it’s just a pretentious way of saying that they don’t sell equipment that you might expect but instead mostly clothing and even Prada activewear. So they definitely were not in the business of selling toasters.

One day a customer came in with a toaster in a bag, no box, no receipt, and they wanted to return it. There was no convincing them that they did not purchase the toaster from that store. They were certain that they bought it there, paid $30 and they were not satisfied so they wanted their money back.

Now here is the situation, I’m not saying that you should let people take advantage of you but look at the big picture. In this case, the customer had a purchase history, they spent a lot of money at the store, multiple times in the past. We knew this because the store asked for your phone number and kept a record of sales by customer number. Despite that, there was no record of a toaster being purchased nor was that item even in the system. Yet the customer still wouldn’t back down.

Also I will say, in their defence, there was a small table near the checkout where a lot of odd nicknacks would end up. With that in mind, there was a slight chance that they did in fact purchase it from that store... but still unlikely.

So what did the manager do? They returned it and gave the customer a $30 in-store credit. Because at the end of the day that is the equivalent of maybe a 10% discount or less based on average sales at that store. It’s was nothing to make that person happy and to send them in to the store to shop instead of storming out to tell everyone about the terrible experience they had.

From that experience I learned the very definition of the cliche “the customer is always right” and I never forgot. So if you ever find yourself in a similar situation just remember to always, always, always return the toaster.

See you next week!

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Happy Freakin’ Monday Ep 16 – 2 Tactics for Customer Retention

School’s out for summer. What does that mean for your marketing? Does your business slow down or speed up this time of year?

No matter what your seasonality it’s important to keep your marketing going even when your audience is on vacation. However, instead of focusing on acquiring new customers, a slow season can be a perfect time to focus on retention. That is holding onto your own customer base by bringing them back for more and here are 2 ways to do that.

  1. Focus on customer service. When you can leave your customers wowed, they are more likely to come back. Not to mention if your customers are raving about an amazing experience that can often be the best word of mouth marketing.
  2. Customer appreciation. Time to give back, to say thank you in a big way. Try throwing a party, mailing out coupons or gifts, or wow just one customer.

If you do a big giveaway consider capturing it on video. There’s often a marketing opportunity hidden within public events. A video is a great way to amplify that story. A great example is the WestJet Christmas Miracle campaign that WestJet runs every year.

Do you have a great retention strategy that you want to share?

See you next week!

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Happy Freakin’ Monday Ep 15 – 3 Ways To Lock Down Your Brand Like A Bank

If your graphic designer asks you for your logo and you send them a pixelated jpeg, then you have a problem. Or worse, you say to them, “if that doesn’t work, try this one...” attaching an equally low resolution image that looks different from the original logo.

My experience with brand consistency came from working with banks. I’ve worked with some of the top banks in Canada and if anyone ever used a pixelated or altered logo, the brand police would shut it down faster than they can charge you arbitrary fees.

That’s because their Brand guidelines are like the law and rightfully so. Consistency in your marketing is so vitally important because it is repetition and recognition that will keep you top of mind. Your brand is the root that holds it all together.

Working with TD Bank several years ago, I saw their brand guidelines go from a pdf file approximately 350 pages to an extensive web portal with restricted access where they could control all of the assets and information as well as who has access to it.

You probably don’t have a multi-million dollar marketing budget but here are three simple ways to lock down your brand consistency like a bank:

  1. Ask for the working files. When it comes to your logo, make sure you ask your designer for the working files. Either a .eps or .ai file, whatever they used to design your logo, you need that original master. Store it in a safe place and make sure that any new designers use that file.
  2. Do not let anyone alter your logo. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen logos embellished with drop shadows, colors changed, or reoriented to fit a certain application. No, no, and absolutely no. the only reason your logo should be altered is if you’re doing a complete rebrand which involves changing every instance of your old logo that’s out there.
  3. Define your brand elements. You don’t need a 350 page branding guideline document, but if you can throw together a simple word document that outlines a few elements that will set you up for killer consistency. From print, to web, and digital, anyone who does design or even video production for you should know these key elements:
    • Brand colors - what are they include RGB (for web and video) and CMYK (for print) color values.
    • Secondary Colors - same goes for these.
    • Brand fonts - if you can include the font files too, I swear, your designer will hug you.
    • Any other design elements - include details about how they should be used.

When you understand the importance of brand consistency you will soon become your own brand police. It’s easy once you take these 3 simple steps to spot inconsistency when a designer hands you something with a logo that’s been altered or uses off-brand fonts or colors.

So when it comes to your branding, my advice is to think like a bank and protect it like gold. Just don’t charge as many fees... because no one likes that.

See you next week!

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Happy Freakin’ Monday Ep 14 – Why Live Video is Important

I just saved myself so much time I almost don’t know what to do. To give you an idea, my typical Monday morning I spend a good chunk of time finalizing my Happy Freakin Monday videos. I need to export them for Youtube, Facebook, Instagram and then creating the thumbnails and captions... It’s a lot of work for anyone let alone an entrepreneur with a baby napping next door.

So this morning, (on my Birthday) I am giving myself the gift of a live video. Both on YouTube and Facebook. If you didn’t realize that YouTube does live video, I don’t think you’re alone. Pretty much every social media channel is making a push for live streaming and this is an important tool to use because it is a way to engage with your audience on a new level.

Certainly edited videos have their place. With an edited video, you have the ability to add captions, text on screen, graphics plus you can refine the picture and sound quality and selecting the best takes are all perfect reasons not to do a live video. Especially when you are as awkward as I am.

A live video on the other hand eliminates a whole post production workflow from your plate. It saves a lot of time but that’s not the only benefit. Your followers are notified when you go live and while you’re shooting you can see who is watching and their comments. This is an amazing way to engage with your audience by responding to their comments and questions right in your video. Plus once it’s finished you can post it so people can still watch it anytime and continue gaining views.

The great thing is that all you need is a phone, tablet or laptop which I’m guessing most of you own either one or all of the above. However, I would suggest a few small things to improve the quality of your videos especially if you are shooting on a phone or tablet.

  1. Get a tripod. It’s really easy to mount your phone or tablet on a tripod for your live videos. You will need an adapter but I got mine on amazon for under $10 and I use it all the time.
  2. A microphone will make a huge difference in the sound quality. Most cameras, tablets and laptops do not have the best onboard microphones. I picked up a small lavalier microphone specifically for phones and even mounting it to a stand about a foot from my mouth it picks up my voice really well. I like the fact that it’s not in the shot but you can also clip it to your shirt depending on the length of the cable.
  3. Lighting is really important too. If you don’t have any lights to brighten up your shot try shooting in front of or next to a window. My home office is not the brightest so I set up a small LED light to brighten things up. It’s important to remember not to sit with a window behind you as that will most likely be backlit where your face will be too dark compared to the bright outdoor light.

So that’s it, live video is really the way of the future but make sure you still plan out your content and plan your setup for the best possible results. And try to be less awkward than me 🙂

See you next week!

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Happy Freakin’ Monday Ep 13 – Recipe For Marketing Success

Today I am making an entrepreneurial breakfast and i wanted to share with you my recipe for Marketing Success. A delicious recipe that has been perfected over many years as a business marketing and video professional, plus it’s vegan and gluten free.

My company BFresh.Media is a video production and creative agency so as you can see I have stepped up my production quality for this morning’s video for a very special episode.

Let’s get started. All good marketing starts from the ground up with our branding ingredients. Branding base is made up of one part Creative Concept, you know catchy name and what you offer that sets you apart from your competition. Then you want to add in 2 parts Business Planning - an understanding of how your business will operate and where you want to take it in the future. Planning can be very dry but it’s a crucial ingredient that’s going to hold everything in place. Next add in one part Execution. You know it’s one thing to say you offer the best product or service but it’s another thing to actually deliver the best. Then you're going to want to add a generous amount of good Customer Service. A lot of people don’t think about customer service as a branch of your marketing but it most certainly is and will add a lot of sweetness instead of leaving a sour taste in the mouth.

Next you're going to add a teaspoon of Great Design and that’s also going to help things stick together especially when it rises. Then add a pinch of salt, that’s for flavour of course. 

Then in a separate bowl you want to start with 1 cup of your Target Audience. Next we will add in a good amount of Insight into who they are and what they like and how they should respond to your advertising. You want that to soak for a while so it absorbs a lot of that important data. Then we’ll add a Measurable Goal. Now in this case we’re using new Facebook likes and YouTube subscribers as our goal but you can substitute that for website visits, calls, or better yet, pure organic sales, always in season at your local Farmer’s Market.

Next add a splash of Calculated Risk. That’s the bit of wow flavour that your audience might not expect but will get them coming back for more. Without that bit of fun risky flavour your advertising can be a little bland.

Now finally we’re going to blend our brand and our advertising campaign together and whisk it really well. It’s important to get all the lumps out. Look at that Consistency, the way the design, and messaging all blend together really smooth. Consistency is key, I always say.

What’s left is Distribution. Getting that advertising out to your audience through different media sources, digital including all your social media channels, print, maybe radio, television etc. It’s important to not put it all your batter into one dish in case it burns or the dish turns out to be completely useless.

When you let that bake in the oven it will come out hot and ready, perfect almost every time. You want to keep in mind that there is always room for improvement. Keep trying and playing with those proportions, try new ingredients and remember that It Can Always Be Better. The learning you take from each campaign will help you improve the next one.

And there you have it, my recipe for marketing success, the breakfast of entrepreneurs.

See you next week!

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Summer Baycation Tourism Video – Sponsorship Opportunity

BFresh.Media is looking for a sponsor for our "Summer Baycation" tourism and lifestyle video of Collingwood and The Blue Mountains. We have big plans to create a new viral campaign and you could be the headliner as Presented By.

This campaign is based on a proven concept that generated over 10,000 views in 10 days with our Winter Baycation video. It all started when our Newfoundland (in ten days) video had viral success with now over 585,000 views on Facebook. Because the video was just for the fun of it, we wanted to see if it were possible to commercialize this concept and repeat that success. Winter Baycation was that test and it was very successful. In 10 days it reached over 20,000 people and generated over 1,000 engagements from likes, comments and shares, all organically. Here it is for your viewing pleasure:

Experience The Lifestyle

So why does this concept work? Well it is designed to be fun, fast, and entertaining plus include lots of people and businesses who will want to share it. That’s the key. It is very different from most typical tourism videos because it focuses heavily on the experience in a very up close and personal way.

My only regret with the winter video is that we released it very late in the season on February 13th and within 10 days, our winter and thus the video views, had ended. So I don’t want that to happen again with the summer version. Which means the clock is ticking and we will aim to shoot mid June to get the video out by early July when summer holidays are in full swing.

OUR GOAL IS 100,000 FACEBOOK VIEWS

Who Are We Looking For?

We want to connect with a business who understands the value of sponsorship and brand advertising and we will work with you to ensure you have lots of coverage and final approval before the video goes out. So obviously a Tourism Association, a Real Estate office, or a Resort might be a good fit but if you think your business would benefit, we want to talk... and soon.

Sponsorship Fee - $3,500 (+HST)

The sponsorship approach is a way to have a video produced for a fraction of the price. Consider how much time and energy goes into a 4 day shoot and then a massive edit that consists of hundreds of clips. Not to mention the pre-production scheduling and planning that it takes to actually put this together. To purchase full copyright ownership of this video is $10,000. Which is a possibility too but potentially out of range for many local businesses. So the sponsorship is a way to cover our costs while you get the benefit of attaching your brand to a (proven) successful viral video.

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Happy Freakin’ Monday Ep 12 – Top 5 Reasons Why Your Marketing Should Tell Good Stories

Storytelling is part of our evolution. It’s how early humans passed on knowledge for survival and a better way of life. New Research also suggests that within a hunter-gatherer community, a good storyteller is valued above most others. Meaning that community members would rather hear a good story than eat a good meal.

So what does this have to do with your marketing? Well it’s all about understanding human behaviour especially if that behaviour is so ingrained that it dates back to prehistoric times. Telling stories should be a focus in your marketing and here are my top 5 reasons why.

  1. Entertainment.

  • Capturing the attention of an entire audience can be difficult. Especially when it comes to your marketing material. One of the most effective ways to do this is to tell good stories. Focusing on this will lead to higher number of watch minutes, longer website visits, and stronger engagement overall. The reason is that when you focus on the story, the viewer gets drawn in much more than if you share a list of services you provide.
  1. Connect with People On An Emotional Level

  • Although telling sad, emotional stories can be effective I mean that more specifically any good story speaks directly to the emotional core of the brain. The cerebral cortex is responsible for higher brain function; everything from language, to emotion, and decision making. Basically it’s the impulse buying part of the brain that you need to connect with. Not that purchasing from you should be an impulse but it drives all decision making. So if you connect on an emotional level, your audience will be more likely to hold a belief that you are selling something that they need.
  1. People want to share good stories

  • Good stories are a form of social currency. When we hear good stories we want to share them because it provides us a lot of benefits. Benefits like social status and being in the know. Remember that study I was talking about? Well one of the ways they came to their conclusion was that they gave rice to villagers to share with anyone they wanted. What they found was that  those who were identified as being the better storytellers received more rice than anyone. So it’s not surprising that we all want to be perceived as a good storyteller.
  1. Stories are memorable

  • There is a very good reason why early humans used stories to share lessons about survival, morals, and values and that’s because they are memorable. Before written language, all we had was the tradition of telling stories and often those were passed down from generation to generation. How that was able to continue is by memory alone because good stories stick with us.
  1. Most Effective Way to Communicate.

  • Think of your Brand as the moral to a good story or the lesson or Takeaway. You want people to know who you are and what you stand for, a story is the best way to convey that message. It really comes down to all of the above. That’s why storytelling is effective. Because of our own history and evolution, because of the way we are wired to respond to and consume stories, it is hard to deny that can be extremely effective.

When you’re looking for inspiring stories to tell, you often don’t have to look very far. Start with origin stories of your company, including your people or products. Dive deep to show us where that passion and drive comes from because at the end of the day your audience isn’t going to connect with just features and benefits or a list of services. They are going to connect with the people and the great stories they have to tell.

See you next week!

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Happy Freakin’ Monday Ep 11 – Education Is The New Sales Pitch

Am I alone in thinking that if someone is pushing hard to sell me something, then it’s probably because I don’t really need it? I think a lot of people have an aversion to the sales pitch because we can often see right through it or maybe it’s because I struggle with sales myself that I feel this way. That’s right, I said it, I am not a strong sales person. It is a sad truth that I have lived with my whole life. So how have I managed to build a growing media production company without pushy sales tactics?

I didn’t always know I was bad at sales. When I was younger, I wanted nothing more than to be an artist. I spent most of my twenties drawing, painting, and even creating furniture. I lived the starving artist life, I even had a studio in a dark, dingy basement, in a wonderfully shady part of Toronto. Like when I say shady, I mean a drunk guy once had a bottle smashed over his head outside our door and I had to leave as the paramedics were wrestling him onto a stretcher to try and help him... this was in the middle of the day. That’s how bad I wanted the dream.

But in the end, I never “made it” as an artist and I know exactly why. The number one reason that I didn’t find success as an artist was not for lack of talent, but because I was not very good at sales. Correction, I was terrible at selling, especially when it came to fine art.

I did countless art shows including the New York Art Expo and whenever I exhibited my work I always had this thought that, because art is so subjective, you will either love it or you won’t. Therefore anyone who loves it should simply want to buy it. But of course that never happened.

Looking back on my inability to sell, it’s ironic to think that I also used to work in retail sales. I wasn’t any better but I found that what I really excelled at was building relationships and educating customers on their options to help them make the best purchase for their needs. I don’t think my employers liked me because I never sold what they wanted but instead what the customers needed. For example, you know that protection plan that electronic stores always try to sell you? Ya I never sold that because I didn’t see the value in it for the customer... I saw it for the cash grab that it is.

When I eventually landed an account management role at a marketing agency, that client relationship focus is exactly what led me to succeed. Yes there were sales pitches and upselling but I never thought of it as selling but rather, educating. Here was something that I could see the value in for my clients and they trusted me to guide them in the right direction.

Educating clients has been my key to sales ever since and it is exactly why content marketing is so effective. Because again, the focus is on educating an audience to know what they need and why. All the while, building and establishing a relationship so that you will be the first person they call when they’re ready to buy.

Now I’m not saying you should simply wait around for them to make the first move. Don't make the same mistake that I did as an artist, but remember that when you do pitch to them or offer a promotion, they will be more receptive and won’t immediately put their guard up. Why? Because now they trust that you can help them make the right choice... and not buy the protection plan... seriously, ask an insurance broker if they can protect your property for a hell of a lot less.

See you next week!

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Happy Freakin’ Monday Ep 10 – How To Write A Content Calendar

If you’re anything like me, you probably dove headfirst into a content strategy without much of an overall plan... In which case, it’s not really a “strategy” at all but more like systematic content creation. Well the good news is that it’s never too late to take your content marketing to the next level with a well thought out content calendar.

A Content Calendar is a crucial part of developing your content marketing. It is a road map, almost like a business plan that will help guide you and your team (if you have one) to more efficient and more effective content.

How? Well organizing your flow of content months in advance will help ensure that you always know what you’re posting and when. Plus you can even produce content in bulk for distribution at a later date. Think of how much time that could save. Instead of spending hours on trying to find a last minute topic, you can focus on actually producing good content.

Not to mention it will ensure that you never miss important dates. There are so many annual events, and milestones, seasonal trends, that you can leverage but not if you don’t plan ahead. I mean today, May 14th is in fact Dance Like a Chicken Day so you really wouldn’t want to miss out on that.

By planning in advance, you give yourself more opportunity to develop meaningful content instead of doing what I did last week which was a 100% result of poor planning. It was a non-episode to publish my realization that I need a content calendar.

So here is what you need to do to get started:

#1 - Research

  • Start by researching your Audience
    • Who are they?
    • What do they like/dislike?
    • What platforms do they use and how do they interact with them?
  • Take a look at your competition or allstars that you might follow  
    • Have a look at what others in your field are doing not to copy but maybe get some inspiration
    • Who are your Content Creation heroes? Perhaps they can provide some inspiration as well.
    • You might do something similar but add your own unique perspective and experience. That’s what people will come back for.
  • Look at your own existing content
    • What has worked and what has not?
    • What could be re-purposed or updated?

#2 - Planning

Now what you might find at this point is that if you have not completely flushed out your concept then you will feel the need. If you have not already you may want to explore some questions like:

  • What is your goal? And how will you achieve it?
  • What is your tone?
  • How will you create consistency?

Knowing more about your audience and what they like/what content resonates well, will help you flush out the answers to those questions.

#3 - Now You Can Create Your Calendar

Start by laying out your calendar in a document or spreadsheet. I used Excel to easily layout episode number, date, topic and additional notes and helpful links. Then add in major events like holidays but don’t forget about:

    1. Marketing campaigns
    2. Product Launches
    3. Conferences or trade shows
    4. Relevant world events

Next start brainstorming new ideas. Ideally you would have come up with several from your research but when in doubt, go back to that foundation and maybe dig a little deeper. Look for common problems that your audience might have which you can help them solve.

Try to plan out at least the first few months of content. The thing to remember is that now your calendar has been started, that planning, creation and scheduling should be an ongoing exercise worked into your routine.

Once you see the benefits that this planning has on the your marketing you will definitely want to keep that up or find yourself scrambling the night before to plan out tomorrow’s post. But hey, when all else fails, there’s always the chicken dance.

See you next week!

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