Category: News.

Engage in more meaningful conversations

The back and forth between a business and customer on social media can sometimes feel like the old school method of passing notes in a classroom. Do you like our new spring clothing line? Check yes or no. If you like it, please share it with Susie in the next row. Of course, it’s important to get likes and shares on social media, but savvy business owners might want to seek something more than a classroom crush.

To build a lasting relationship with a customer you need to engage in more meaningful conversations. In dating terms, you need to put a ring on it. Take the time to engage with your audience on social media. Pay attention to what they need, when they need it, and why.

Here are a few tips to move your social media engagement to the next level:

Create polls to obtain information from customers
Rank their favorite product.
Rank the various ways they use the product.
Vote for the time of day/year they use the product most.
Rank why they use the product – give three options and an open comment box.

Run contests to learn how customers interact with your product

and provide a discount or valuable item to the winner.
Most creative or best photo/video of customers using the product.
The best success story of how a service helped them.
Most loyal or longest-standing customer.

Research your ambassadors

All businesses will have loyal customers who consistently like, share, and comment on your platforms. So, thank them for sharing, give them a head’s up on sales and offer advice on making the most of the product. Then, take a few minutes to look at their personal pages to get more of a feel for their lifestyle, needs, and friends.

Be responsive

If someone sends a message or posts a comment, respond as fast as possible. Because many customers view social media the same as an in-person encounter, treat social interactions in the same way.

Ask questions

Pose open-ended questions about your product or service on social accounts. What do you like best about our business? What do we not offer that you would use?

These tips will have you well on your way to walking down the social aisle with customers. Still, you should be ready for those members of the congregation who just can’t seem to hold their peace. View negative comments as opportunities rather than irritants to be ignored. Everyone sees the negative comments and a lot may ride on how and if you choose to react.

Steps to keep the peace:

1. Thank them for the comment, acknowledge the issue, and apologize.
2. Ask what you can do to make it right.
3. Offer what you can to make it right, plus a little extra.
4. If you cannot make it right, tell them how you will work to make it better in the future.

However, there may be cases when a courteous approach isn’t effective. For those situations, a general statement acknowledging the issue and an offer to resolve it offline with an email or phone call may be a good compromise.

Finally, like any relationship, staying engaged takes time and effort and a willingness to learn from the good and bad comments.

As a business owner, it seems like media love from any platform comes with a price tag.

If only you could become the media’s valentine. Wouldn’t it be nice if they pursued you for something other than a monthly advertising invoice? Or maybe you have dreamed of a reporter showing up at your storefront with a bouquet of free air time to spotlight your business.

Be Prepared
That dream date can happen if you are prepared with the right content at the right time. Content is the heart of every story, blog, and social media post. Reporters need quick access to experts, facts, statistics, trends, and testimonials to tell stories that are meaningful to audiences.

Your expertise, industry knowledge and experience could be the perfect match for a reporter on any given day, but you have to get in the dating game to start building the relationship.

Here are a few ways to get your business noticed by the media:

Create an expert profile

Example:
Amy Smith, owner, Smith Heating and Air Conditioning (Phone, email, web, social contacts)
Ten year’s experience in residential and industrial HVAC systems
Expert in electrical safety, home energy efficiency and indoor air quality

Connect with local journalists

Identify a few journalists in your area who report on topics related to your industry and send them your expert profile through multiple channels. (Social media, email, hand-written note, phone call)

Create content

Use facts and figures about your business and create brief, but meaningful tip sheets or infographics. Focus on ways to help the public save time or money, prepare for the future or avoid a crisis as it relates to your product or service. Periodically share your tips with media contacts. Use social hashtags and tag reporters. Example: 3 Ways to Save Money on Energy Costs #energysavings @nbcreporter

Look for trends and national stories

Find out what is trending on Twitter, look at what others are talking about in your own social media feeds and track stories in the national news. Connect your expertise with those topics and ask the media to consider you for an interview to share how the topic may impact your community, customers or industry.

Be ready and responsive

Journalists have very tight timelines. If a reporter calls for an interview, that interview may need to take place on the spot, or scheduled in one to two hours. If you ask for time to prepare, you may miss your opportunity. By having topics and tips ready you can quickly accept the request. Reporters will remember your responsiveness and likely reach out to you again, which will help build your reputation as a thought-leader in the industry.

It Takes Time
It takes time and effort to get noticed by the media or build media love, but creating connections and content could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship with no price tags attached.

Today we’re looking at the simplicity of six words. Let me give you some examples.

Can you write your company story in six to ten words? This isn’t a new idea. Ernest Hemingway wrote a famous six word story. “For Sale: New baby shoes. Never worn.” Often we make things much harder than they need to be. This is the elegant simplicity of six words.

Carefully Define Your Business
First, implement this same six word idea with your business: define your company and culture in six words or less.

For example: at Poole Communications, we are client-focused, ethical, creative, self-motivated and passionate. When hiring new employees we look for those same characteristics. Even while interviewing a potential new client, we look for those same qualities. (That’s right, we don’t accept all new clients; we really want a good fit.) The result is that we have a better fit with ALL the people we work with, that means more enjoyment in our work – and lives – for every participant.

We’ve found that whenever we deviate from this principle there’s trouble: a unhappy client who doesn’t fit, or a disgruntled, unproductive employee. I’ve learned over the years how important it is that we let our values guide us.

Next, Define How You Work
Six simple words can help us define our logos, our slogans, how we work – and even who we work with. Those same words help you in planning and creating work or providing service. We don’t want to sell ourselves, our products or services; we want to educate in an ethical way. Let’s make the world a better place. Everyone wants marketing material that are simple and easy to understand. The little amount of time each have makes it mandatory. Word choice and communication is extremely important. It’s critical to be clear about who you are and how you work; and it’s equally important to be quickly understood.

Finally, Simplify Your Life
Our world is fast paced, we all have a lot on our plates. How can we work to simplify our work and yet make things better? Here’s one small tool you can implement and use. Define your business and how your business works. Get your team involved and get their input. Empower them to help grow your company and make it better.

©2018 Poole Communications

When your new company is created, there should be a strong emphasis on business
cards. Business cards are a tool to let others know what your company is about and what it
provides. A plain white business card does not portray the mission or creativity of
a person or a business. Your cards should help make you stand out and be easily
recognizable. Bright colors, a distinctive logo, and an easy to read font will make
your card stand out from the rest.

Be Creative
Business cards do not have to be boring. They should not look like everyone
else’s. Think about ordering square or round cards instead of rectangular cards.
Use the front and back of your card to share your mission. If you are an eco-
friendly business, buy business cards made from recycled paper. There are so
many ways to make that card work for you!

It Works
Business card marketing is a real thing. It’s effective, and it does lead to new
customers and new leads.

Here are some suggestions for using your business cards to maximize your customer base:

• Post your cards on community bulletin boards. Restaurants, libraries, community
centers, churches, gyms, and stores often have bulletin boards. All you have to
do ask to post your card.

• Think about the waiting rooms in your area and leave cards for those waiting for
appointments. Doctor’s offices, hospitals, salons, auto shops, restaurants, and
government buildings all have waiting areas.

• If you want to expand your reach, consider asking local hotels if you can leave
business cards at their check in counter.

• Ask if you can leave your cards at your local Chamber of Commerce office or
your local Tourism Office.

• Use your business cards as a direct mailer. Target your audience and send out
your cards with a note to potential customers and clients.

• Send out cards with every item you ship or every promotional item you produce
for a customer.

• Hand out business cards at local events or at networking opportunities.

• Create a photo or video of your business card and upload it to all of your social
media pages.

I live in the Midwest. Luckily for me, I have family and friends on both the East and West coast. So when I’m visiting the coasts I can see what trends are likely to occur in the next 3 to 5 years in the Midwest. This is kind of like a mini time travel advantage that I can use to help clients. For instance, we recognized the importance of websites and began building them before any of our competitors in this region.

One of the things I’ve noticed is that Pinterest is gaining popularity on both coasts. Because of this, you may want to consider opening a Pinterest account and allow it to help promote your business. Pinterest for business is a growing trend that you may be able to take advantage of.

What is Pinterest?
For those of you who don’t know Pinterest, it’s a social media tool allows you to share images. You can save your images in boards – kind of like albums or scrapbooks – to help you organize your images, and to help others find what they are looking for. This would be perfect for a construction company, a retail store, an artist, or a restaurant.

Image Sharing
As far as collecting images, you may want to collect images of advertising campaigns you like and may work for your company. You may want to collect what the competition is up to. You may want to collect ideas of things you want to implement at the office, or ideas collected for blogging about. On thing that is really neat about Pinterest for business is that you can have private and public boards. So you can choose what you share.

Business Sharing
Sharing images can help build your business. You can share product photos, focus on services you provide, show work you have completed, or illustrate your processes. It can provide clients with an inside peek of how your company operates. This allows potential clients to become more comfortable with you and more likely to contact your company when they are ready to buy.

Call To Action
Speaking of contact, don’t hesitate to include a call to action. What do you want people to do? Call you? Come by? Like your post? Make it simple for people to text, call or email. Use Canva or some other free image building software to build colorful graphics to share on your Pinterest page.

Pinterest is great for collecting and sharing ideas — just don’t forget to implement. Coming up with ideas is fun and creative, however you have to implement to get results.

Open a Pinterest account and play with it a little. You’ll probably think of other ideas of how to promote your business. If you do, mention them below and help other business owners.

©2018 Poole Communications

Today we’re sharing Peter Rosengard’s 26 tips on sales and life. Peter is one of the best salespeople in the world. Here’s why:

1.   Be enthusiastic

2.   Be persistent

3.   Have courage

4.   Behave with integrity

5.   Have chutzpah (if you don’t know what this is, look it up – it’s worth knowing)

6.   LISTEN

7.   Don’t take rejection personally‎…’next!’

8.   Make the calls

9.   Ask for referrals‎ from clients. (‘Can you help me?’ – four very powerful words.)‎

10.   Make a goal

11.   PREPARE

12.   Know your product

13.   Keep sales production records

14.   Use storytelling

15.   Think big

16.   Be self-motivated

17.   Be self-disciplined

18.   Think ‘out of the box’

19.   Be serious AND fun!

20.   Service your clients‎

21.   Smile – if you see someone without one, give them yours!

22.   Be active – action cures fear

23.   Believe in your self

24.   Be persuasive

25.   Be self-motivated

26.   Have a positive attitude

Here is a solution to stop the decline of newspapers nationwide.

• Make every newspaper the same size.
• Make all ads the same sizes.
• Use inches and not “column inches.”
• Make it simple to buy an ad – have a human answer the phone.
• Make sure the ad prints well.
• Make sure the invoice is correct.
• MOST IMPORTANT: Cover the news in your community. You’re not a national or world news source. Your a community news source. Be just that, and do it well.

We would still have community newspapers that thrive.

For those of you that would like a little more information:
All newspapers are different sizes. This means advertisers must alter each ad to fit each newspaper. This is a lot of work and makes buying and placing newspaper ads really troublesome and time consuming. Then newspapers have their own sizing system called “column inches” – NO ONE knows what a column inch equals because it’s different with each newspaper. So that’s why I suggest standard newspaper sizes and ad sizes. An advertiser (who is the newspaper’s main source of income) can then place an ad easily in New York or New London, MO. The same ad would fit in all newspapers.

Hire people that know what they are selling. Hire people that understand print quality and will work to get good quality. The print quality and sales quality has dropped off dramatically. I frequently cannot get someone to answer the phone when I want to place a buy or have a quick question before turning in an order. Then when I do place a buy, I have orders lost and ads not run. To top it off, the billing in most of the regional papers is terrible. We need to double check everything to ensure it’s accurate. Sometimes a newspaper will run an ad all month when we wanted it to run once. Too frequently we have to call and ask for our invoice.

The newspaper industry is killing itself with poor service, poor print quality and poor content. 

The last suggestion is the most important. Content must be derived from the community the newspaper resides in. Skip the national and world news. Focus on what is going on in your community – and not just events that have occurred – but what is coming up too. Look for and report real news.

My suggestions are simple. Fairly simple to enact and would save small newspapers.

FAKE!

You’ve heard about “fake news” a lot lately. Well there are plenty of fake invoices out there too. This short article tells you how to spot them.

My clients call on a regular basis saying, “I thought we stopped all yellow page advertising? I just got another bill in the mail today!”

I ask them to send me a copy or if I’m there I ask to see it. It usually looks something like the graphic above. The amounts vary dramatically, but they are usually somewhere near what you have paid for yellow page advertising in the past. The customer name is filled out and it looks like a real invoice.

Imagine how many companies around the country are just paying these invoices. You might be thinking, “What could it hurt? You’re getting yellow page advertising somewhere, aren’t you?” The answer is; maybe. You may be getting in a national advertising book somewhere.

But consider the fact that AT&T sold off their yellow page division years ago. AT&T is a progressive company. Keep an eye on them to figure out what you should do with your company. They sold the yellow page division for a reason. They projected customers would find information in a new way and that division would no longer be profitable nor viable.

Now take a look at the size of your local yellow pages. You’ll notice it’s remarkably smaller – and you can’t find local business numbers. Another thing you might notice is that hardly anyone is using it. Just ask around.

So if your local yellow pages are not working, how do you expect a national yellow book to work for your company?

Don’t fall for fake invoices. Here’s what to look for:

The return address is nowhere near your location. Normally your local yellow book will be located in a community near you, and have an address that is reasonably close to your location.
Somewhere on the invoice it will say, “This is not a bill.” This is required by law and sometimes it take a few minutes to locate it. But it will be there.
When in doubt, do a quick internet search of the company or call a trusted marketing advisor.

A reputable marketing professional is there to help you build your business. Fake invoices don’t benefit your company, they drain your profit. Be on guard.

© Sally Kintz, Poole Communications

By Sally Poole

In fourth grade we lived in Holly Park, which is part of the Seattle Housing Authority. We just called it “the projects.” Mom, a high school drop out, was recently divorced with four kids. We were really poor and didn’t mind at all – except we had to eat powdered milk on the commodity oatmeal we had for breakfast every morning. At Holly Park, we had tons of other kids to play with and learned all kinds of new things.

One of our neighbors and my best friend was Tonya. Tonya’s mom would iron her hair in the morning to straighten it. My sister and I would beg her to iron our hair too. We liked it because it made our hair warm. She’d just laugh at us and iron our straight hair too.

Tonya’s brother, Mike was older than us and he was a complete mystery. He would bounce his basketball all the time and tell us frequently, “I’m gonna be a pro.” We had NO IDEA what on earth he was talking about. We tried to find out what a pro was. We even asked adults, but out of context, they had no idea what we were talking about either. You have to remember this was in the 1960’s. Professional sports had not yet become the big business it is today – well, not that we were aware of anyway.

Years later I realized Mike wanted to be a pro basketball player, make good money and have respect.

I started thinking that maybe we should encourage all of our young kids to become a pro. Professionals at something – anything! It would encourage them to work hard on their dream career, practice, maybe go to college or a trade school that they hadn’t considered before. To shoot a little higher (pardon the basketball pun) for a larger goal.

I had no idea what I would do with my life when I was in fourth grade, but I’m proud that I became a pro in my field. I hope Mike became a pro too. I wish all of our kids could grow up to be pros, earn the money they want and get the respect they’ve dreamed of.

This morning, I received another email that had a WORD document attached. When I opened the WORD document it had a few sentences that could have easily been put in the body of the email.

It takes time to open attachments. Recipients might not have the program you sent the attachment in. I especially hate PowerPoint attachments because they take so long to open. Or worse yet, Publisher documents that cannot be opened on a Macintosh computer.

I’m encouraging everyone to think just a little bit before they send an email or an attachment. Here are five easy tips to get your emails read:

1. Use the subject line. Make it informative and change it if the email’s topic changes.

2. Keep your emails brief. Research has shown that six sentences is a maximum. Get to the point.

3. Be kind. An email can be easily misunderstood. Take extra effort to be kind and say something friendly.

4. Provide contact information. This enables the recipient to call, email or check out your website.

5. Use a pdf, png or jpeg attachment format. They can be quickly opened and read by almost anyone.

We’re all being asked to do more in less time. Let’s make the world a little easier and communicate clearly. What tips do you have?