Posts about Marketing

TaylorMade Solutions

Three Reasons To Stop Using Auto Direct Messages

Have you ever followed someone on Twitter and shortly after received a direct message thanking you for following? Of course you have. The real question is however, what was the content in that message? Was it a nice personal and specific message to you? Or, was it an “auto direct message” with some obvious attempt to sell you something and very generic? Something like: “Thanks for following. Check out my book or product. Or, follow me here (as in Facebook or Linked)”. If it was the latter, you are not alone. It’s really easy to set up those auto direct messages. However, is it really what you want to be doing? No! It is not in my humble opinion. In fact, it’s long overdue to to stop using auto direct messages.

More than a decade into social media and people still want the easy way out when building an audience or selling a product or service. I suppose I can’t blame them. After all, it is a busy world and using multiple social media, maintaining websites and using traditional marketing can be very time consuming. Like anything social media should be executed properly. This means first having a digital strategy that is part of an integrated marketing strategy and of course ties into your corporate objectives – whatever they may be. But let’s look at three reasons that you and your business should stop using auto direct messages.

  1. Auto Direct Messages Don’t Make People Look Sophisticated TaylorMade Solutions

Perhaps when Twitter first emerged and people used direct messages also affectionately known as DMs, it was pretty awesome to get an instant response after following someone. That time however, has come and gone. Rather than look sophisticated or super busy, you actually come across as taking short cuts. One of the original intentions of Twitter was to foster engagement. To build relationships with people that you couldn’t otherwise connect with in person. Additionally, if you are a loyal customer and love a certain brand, it was a way to connect and build a relationship.

2. You are Likely Spamming People and Breaking Anti-Spam Laws

Around the world laws for privacy and digital communications are changing.These laws often don’t only apply to a person or entity in the country in they live and/or operate a business in, but they cross geographic borders and digital boundaries. For example, the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation, also known as CASL has specific laws government social media communications. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which covers Europe also has very specific rules for #privacy and while it has been in effect for a few years now, come May 25, 2018, full enforcement and penalties come into affect. This law is not just for Europeans, but for ANY business with customers IN Europe.

3. It’s Not All About You

Let’s think about our followers as more than just a number or someone that you can push your wares on. Instead, it’s about relationships. And, while some people still don’t believe that social media is about relationships, there are many more of us that believe that you can’t and shouldn’t use social media like we used old school print media. We need to build trust with our audience. We need to be authentic. When I follow someone and there response is thanks, buy this from me or add to my follower count on this other channel, it screams disingenuous  intentions to me. It is the same thing as someone introducing him or herself to you at a party. They barely get a hello my name is X and you are already selling them “something” they may or may not need or want. The rule of thumb in any business is to form a relationship. An auto DM is not even close to doing that.

There are many other reasons not to do auto DMs and I would like to hear your reasons.

As a small business it’s not always easy to navigate the social media strategy needed. If you need assistance, we can help – keeping in mind #privacy legislation. Reach out! We are here to help.


SEO and Inbound Marketing in Construction Industry

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by two St. Thomas University Students: Alexandra Swift and Allison Bruder. It was completed as part of a course assignment in the fall of 2017]

In this interview with ThermaRay’s president Kevin Kilbride, we explored the topics of inbound marketing, search engine optimization and global marketing. ThermaRay was founded in 1985, and since then has been providing sustainable heating solutions with a wide range of electric radiant systems, including our radiant ceiling, architectural series, floor warming, underfloor warming and earth thermal storage products. The topic of this interview was inbound marketing, and ThermaRay’s use of this tactic in marketing both in Canada and globally.

Mr. Kilbride explained that ThermaRay is not fully focused on inbound marketing because they haven’t been able to find a vehicle that will drive potential customers to their website the way they would like based on their industry. The problem with their online search catalogue was that if you don’t know what you’re looking for, how are you supposed to search it and go find it? In this question and answer, Mr. Kilbride explained his company’s use of SEO and other inbound marketing strategies specific to ThermaRay.ThermaRay

What forms of social media does your company use?

We have a LinkedIn page, Facebook page a web site of course and I have a Twitter account. The website is the real focus for us. We also occasionally use YouTube to direct people for project installations. There are also a number of search engines, that are used as a resource. As well as online courses that are used to offer courses internationally.

What form of social media do you find the most effective?

Our website by far is the most effective. We use YouTube to direct people to see the odd project installation but that’s it. There are other forms of social media when you are in the business-to-business sector – online searchable catalogues, on-line courses that have been the most effective for us. Our website is the most effective because when people need the services we offer, such as homeowners, they often just google what they need and find us.

What steps do you take prior to sending out messages for marketing?

We tailor the message according to the audience. So an email blast to architects will be based more on the design aspects than say to an engineer who wants to know how it was installed and what problem did it solve for him. A potential problem that comes along with sending out messages is the area of spam email. You can buy databases but with junk folder filters and in Canada at least, spam being illegal it is very difficult to do email blasts. The way we can do it is via our presentations. Attendees on-line or face-to-face have to sign in and that gives us permission to send them emails, newsletters etc… until they unsubscribe. Yet I still hear from organizations willing to sell us a database of targeted individuals. Assuming it’s legal in the use to “spam” most people don’t like it and you’ll end up with a negative view of your company. This makes for a strong case to have an inbound marketing program.

What channels do you find most effective?

Website SEO works well for us. We rank in the first page in Canada in the US by using keywords that the industry is using in search engines.

What is your primary audience?

We have several audiences. In the construction industry, we work with architects but we also have to work with their mechanical engineers who are responsible for the heating, ventilation and air conditioning. So even though we sell the idea to the architect, we have to sell it to the engineer because he can squash the use of our product. In the residential side, we sell primarily to the homeowner but again the builder and electrical contractor are influencers so we have to be sure they are on board as well.

You mentioned that your company is not as focused on inbound marketing, why is that?

Other than SEO, we have yet to find a vehicle that will drive potential customers to our site. The problem we discovered though using an online searchable catalogue is that if you don’t know what you’re looking for, how do you know to go look for it? So if you need doors or windows, that’s an easy find. But how do you know when you should be using a radiant heating system instead of a conventional heating system? There is an education component here. So as well listed one maybe on some of these type of searchable product lists, you have to know what it is you’re looking for. When someone does, they tend to use Google and that’s how we get found out.

ThermaRay is a company based out of New Brunswick, but has expanded worldwide. How did you reach such a large consumer base from this small province?

We’re still a pretty small player, but that gives us an advantage. We are more nimble, more responsive to clients. We’ve had some success with local dealers promoting our products and we get the odd international customer looking for what we have. We have also worked with Opportunities New Brunswick to help grow our market.

What do you believe is the number one-way people hear about your company?

There’s no #1 method. We use SEO, we have an online course that is recognized by the American Institute of Architects so that gives us some credibility, we then do presentations to groups of architects and engineers and some plain old face-to-face selling.

ThermaRay has been involved in a few trade shows, how do you think these have helped your company’s marketing? And what do you think would be more effective?

There are consumer trade shows but there are also business trade shows. There are local ones and national ones. However, not every show has the same caliber so they are not all as effective, they tend to be very specific. In regards to trade shows, there is some give and take, it depends on the show and the product you have. I will generally not do a trade show unless I have interest in the local market. The problem with trade shows is that they are very expensive and you have limited time to talk to someone, so with a simple product it is more effective, but when your product is specific, you do not always get the chance to have a deeper conversation with a potential customer. Instead of a trade show, some larger companies have started hosting small events for their customers with drinks and food, these provide a more relaxing setting and allows for more time to connect and explain things.

Have you ever used Google Analytics to track your company’s search engine traffic? What do you do with this information?

Yes, we use them quite a bit. We overhauled our website earlier this year and we noticed a drop so we’re going to focus more on tweaking the word search on the site. We also use the analytics to find out what words people are using for their searches. Just because we call our product x, it may go by a different name by the general public. So for example, we have a floor warming system but the bulk of people call it floor heating so we want to know that.

[Editor’s Note. We thank Alexandra and Allison for the work they did and contributing to our blob.

Heather Anne MacLean

Four Signs You Don’t Understand Social Media: Do You Follow/Unfollow?

There is a trend that I have noticed lately on Twitter. It has become a real numbers game for many. By this I mean that many will follow people only to get a return follow. Once they get that follow, they unfollow the person, or many people. Or, they unfollow every person. This to me is a clear indication that you don’t really understand social media and its true purpose.

As a result, over the last couple of months I have been carrying out an experiment. I have been trying out various apps that cleanse or sweep my Twitter follower base to unfollow people who have unfollowed me. It was an interesting experiment, but one I don’t recommend. Why don’t I recommend this? Here are the reasons:

  • Well, I ended up unfollowing people that I actually still wanted to follow. For example, there are thought-leaders or big brands that I don’t expect to have a relationship with and/or to engage, but I want to hear what they have to say.
  • Engagement for some brands doesn’t make sense. For example news outlets. We don’t follow them to engage. We follow them to get news.
  • In other cases some people may have unfollowed me and that’s ok. I have really changed and refocused what I talk and Tweet about over the last couple of years to better align with my interests. So, if my passion is not theirs that is fine. However, I still want to follow them.

So, I will likely discover for awhile that people I thought I was following, I am not. But what really intrigued me is the fact that more than a few people are clearly just looking for numbers. Numbers are numbers, They don’t get you insight, sales or relationships. And this really gets to the crux of this post, the four signs that indicated you don’t really understand social media:

  1. More than 10 years into using social media and people still think its a numbers game or really an ego game. If you think more is better, than you don’t understand social media.
  2. Speaking of more is better, if you never follow people back, you don’t understand social media.
  3. If you only Tweet about yourself or your organization, you don’t understand social media.
  4. And building off of 1-3, if you haven’t connected the dots to understand that social media is meant to be about relationships and therefore you need to follow people and communicate with people to build relationships, then you definitely don’t get social media and the power of social media when it is done right.

It is easy to see people who get this. You can tell when they are good at social media and they have actually built relationships from social media.

What would you add to this list? Let me know and connect with us.

Intel, Heather-Anne MacLean

Intel’s Security Flaw Puts Spotlight on Security by Design

Well, 2018 is starting off with a significant cybersecurity and privacy hit. Intel Corporation just confirmed Wednesday of this week that flaws in the Intel processor could leave computers – around the world – open to vulnerabilities. As the largest chipmaker in the world, computers – and not just PCs – are now exposed, and this quite frankly puts a spotlight on security by design.

Security by design is something that consumers should be concerned about. We should demand it actually. But, what is security by design? Using a simple definition from TechTarget, it is “an approach to software and hardware development that seeks to make systems as free of vulnerabilities and impervious to attack as possible through such measures as continuous testing, authentication safeguards and adherence to best programming practices.” In addition to security by design, privacy by design should also be included and with the previous definition, privacy by design should be pretty easy to figure out.

Security and privacy by design are two minimum standards that consumers should be asking about and confirming that they are being fully implemented by the companies from whom they purchase products. After all, once a consumer is compromised the level of damage can range from embarrassing to fully destroying one’s life. For example, it could be someone getting access to your social media and taking it over and posting pornography. Or, it could be someone getting access to all your credit card information and then using the information to spoof you and to get many more credit cards in your name and thus ruining your credit and leaving you with thousands or tens of thousands of dollars of debt. It can also mean someone getting access to all your personal information, including all your health records and in addition to getting credit cards in your name, posting all your medical history online and on your own social media for the whole world to see.

Security and privacy by design are not new. People have been talking about these principles for years; but the kicker is that there is no legislated requirement to ensure that companies adopt these principles and build them into their standards and operations.

This Intel discovery should really be a warning and wake-up call globally. With Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) becoming more and more entrenched in our daily lives, security by design and privacy by design must become the standard and be baked-in at the start of the design process rather than just emerging after an “oops” discovery.

For those that don’t think that IoT is in their lives, think again. Do you have a mobile phone? How about a computer at home? Did you get a fancy new fridge for Christmas that can tell you when you are running low on milk? Or, how about the latest craze in home assistants such as Alexa or Google Home – perhaps this was a new addition to your life? If you said yes to any of these, then you should definitely care about security by design and privacy by design.

So, once you have updated your computers with the patches sent out from your computer provider, let’s use the Intel incident to collectively start asking, no demanding, that all software and hardware providers implement – immediately – security and privacy by demand principles, protocols and standards! If consumers stand up for their rights and only support companies that adopt security and privacy by design, this will cause all companies to follow suit. Better yet, let’s legislate it and have severe penalties in place for those that don’t comply.

Want to learn more about how security and privacy by design impacts your marketing and communications? Connect with us.

social media, TaylorMade Solutions

How to Spot a Bad Social Media Practitioner

I had one of those moments this morning.

You know that exact moment when someone says something, or you read something and your jaw just drops. You can’t believe what you are hearing or reading! Thankfully I was alone when I had this reaction. Not a flattering look I am sure.  And, on top of that, I had some commentary that just slipped out without my filter being turned on. So what made me react this way? No, it was not travesty or injustice for human-kind. I am grateful for that. No, it was more related to my profession, and specifically using social media to communicate and market your product, service or region. So, this inspired me to write this post: How to Spot a Bad Social Media Practitioner.Social Media

Now, let me start by saying that I am sure that the person in question was only doing his job. I am sure that he has processes, procedures and protocols in place. Despite this however, what he was recommending went against everything I believe in, when it comes to communications. His recommendation to people – business people- was to use it in the same manner that people used advertising 15 years ago. It was all about push communications and not REAL communications. Needless to say, the end results, I suspect, will not net the results expected.

So, let;s turn around a negative and look at 5 ways to help you select a marketing/communications practitioner who can actually help you:

1.  Resist the Urge to hire the Person or Company Who Claims to be a Social Media Expert.

Like Malcolm Gladwell said, it takes at least 10,000 hours to become a master. Very few people consider themselves masters in social media, including me – despite having 10,000+ hours into it. Why? The answer is simple, there is more to using social media than meets the eye. Practitioners like myself know that there are many layers to doing it well. Each scenario is different and we have to draw upon many levels and years of experience to make it work.

2. Avoid a Person or persons Who Only Focus on Social Media

This is a recipe for disaster. Social media is not an means to an end. No, social media is tool in the toolkit. However, to effectively use that tool you need an overall integrated marketing/communications plan. Everything must work together to reach an overall goal and objectives that all align to your overall corporate objectives. That is why it is very important to hire either a full-time resource and/or consultant who understands that social media is not a stand-alone. Social media must be part of the larger integrated strategy.

3. Hire Based On Experience/Strategic Abilities – Not Age

I have written about this before. While I fully support hiring new graduates, you shouldn’t expect a new graduate to know how to develop strategies tied to business objectives. Remember, and this is very important, using social media for personal purposes is very, very different than using it for business purposes. If you want to build a quality team, hire a seasoned professional and then let that person build his or her team, which will likely include new graduates.

4. It’s Not About You! Remember That

More than a decade into social media and inbound marketing, I still encounter so many companies that only want to talk about themselves, who they are and what they do. Research, company case studies and results continue to indicate that customers and potential customers don’t really care about hearing about your awards, what your team did last weekend, etc. Your clients/customers and prospects want to be educated. They want to know that if they work with you, they will be getting value for their money and getting benefits from the relationship.

Your marketing, including your social media should not be about you. It should be about your clients/customers and prospects. And, with that in mind, you should be using the channels where they are, not where you want to be. Finally, communicate and engage with them. Your social media resource, whether full-time or a consultant should be encouraging you to engage, not just push messages.

5. Last But Certainly Not Least: Remember Your Audience

Based on all the above, you should always be focused on your audience. Who are you ultimately are you trying to influence? Your marketing resource should always be focused on your audience and doing what is right to reach the audience. A person with real expertise will always want you to focus on your audience. He or she will recommend that you have a persona exercise which will identify who your primary and secondary audiences are. Then you will know what channels to use to reach them and what tools to use  – from online, to traditional to web and everything in between when and where applicable.

For many of us who have been working with individuals and companies for years to build solid integrated marketing/communication strategies that include social and digital media strategies, I have to confess that we should be beyond discussing the need for implementing the basics, but we just aren’t there yet. However, when I work with clients who take the plunge and do a full integrated marketing strategy and start seeing the results, I get as excited as they do!

Want to learn more about integrated marketing strategies and how they can grow your business? Contact TaylorMade Solutions today!


Great leaders and all self-help management books tell us that in order to be good communicators, you need to first be a good listen

An Interview With Cybersecurity Expert: Dr. Natalia Stakhanova

Cybersecurity risk management and mitigation is at the forefront of discussions in boardrooms globally. With an estimated annual burden of up to $1.7 trillion resulting from data loss and downtime (often from security violations), both the c-suite and shareholders have called on security experts to get out in front of the risk.

Researchers and research initiatives are the foundation for accomplishing this. At New Brunswick’s Information Security Centre of Excellence (ISCX), researchers like Dr. Natalia Stakhanova are leading the way with the support of funding, innovative partners, and an unparalleled focus. As one of the leading researchers in the field, Dr. Stakhanova was recognized in 2014 as the first NB Innovation Research Chair in Cybersecurity.


I had a chance to sit down with Dr. Stakhanova to talk about her work.

MacLean: You were named the first NB Innovation Research Chair in Cybersecurity, can you tell us about what you want to accomplish in this role?

Dr. Stakhanova: I continue to be very excited about this initiative. Over the next few years we will be facilitating the research that will foster innovation in the field of cybersecurity. An important component will be my team working very closely with local industry to promote further commercialization of products that will benefit companies around the world.

There is already a significant level of expertise right here in New Brunswick. We will be building upon our core expertise and further developing the skills and assets that we have right here. There is a great culture of innovation and entrepreneurship among the people collaborating in this space right now. And the best part is seeing the actual results.

To generate a renewing pool of local talent, I’ll be mostly focused on building student knowledge, expertise and entrepreneurial spirit. I’m hoping that in this endeavor the Dr. J. Herbert Smith Centre for Technology Management & Entrepreneurship (TME) will step in with its programs to give students necessary skills and tools to become entrepreneurs.   

MacLean: How will you be working with other New Brunswick companies, students, and people?

Dr. Stakhanova: A major part of my role is to assess the risks that the local industry has, and to provide the research with practical applications to mitigate those risks. My work facilitates research in both the private and public sectors. Several local players have already come on board and are ready to work in a collaborative environment to focus on such issues as Smart Grid to address security-related challenges. Among these players are IBM Canada, Sentrant, and NB Power. We are also working closely with several startups. I know that through the research there will be additional commercialization.

MacLean: How does New Brunswick stand in this field of research and innovation compared to other regions?

Dr. Stakhanova: There is no question that there is a lot of support in Canada for these R&D centres and we are well positioned here at UNB with other global areas. We have leading expertise, lots of researchers, and interested private sector companies. There is an excellent relationship between UNB and the private sector. This fosters collaboration, innovation and the drive to succeed.

MacLean: What do we have here in New Brunswick that positions us better than other areas?

Dr. Stakhanova: I can’t name any other province that has as many initiatives, activities and investments in play at one time to support the Information Technology (IT) industry. There is just so much innovation and research taking place right here in New Brunswick. We also have a unique solidarity of people here in the province. People want to be here. This is so rare and wonderful.

There are of course developers elsewhere, but the developers that are here have a unique connection to the province and its people. They are loyal and can’t be lured away in the same way that you see happening in other regions. This creates a wonderful stability.

MacLean: Do you see spin off companies emerging or other companies wanting to locate here in New Brunswick to take advantage of the work that you are doing?

Dr. Stakhanova: Absolutely. We are already seeing companies from outside the region that are quite interested in what we are doing. These are still early days, but we are hearing from a lot of people.

MacLean: What made you choose to come to New Brunswick and UNB?

Dr. Stakhanova: I moved to Fredericton in 2007 as a professional Fellow. I fell in love with the region immediately. It is one of the most family-friendly places I have ever encountered. There is also a personal touch at UNB. It is essential and critical when education is involved to be able to collaborate, have mentors and to have access to as many private sector companies as we do.

It is truly a unique experience to find a place to grow professionally, while also having everything you would want for your family.

Cybersecurity is one of the most important issues of our time. If you are a small or medium business, cybersecurity should be more top of mind. We can help you develop your Marketing and Communications strategy to handle communications around a breach. We can train you and your team to be media ready. Be Prepared! Be Trained! Have a TaylorMade Solution – Contact us today.

Editor’s Note: This is a post that I originally wrote for Invest NB’s Blog and has since be reposted to Opportunities NB’s Blog.

12 Great Cybersecurity Resources To Help Protect Your Business

Did you know that cyber-attack fallout could cost the global economy $3 trillion by 2020? With cybersecurity a huge focus for Opportunities NB (ONB) and the province of New Brunswick, we decided to curate a list of cybersecurity resources we think you can leverage to help protect yourself and your business. You don’t want to be the next C-Suite executive to lose their job over security blunders.


Image: Owned by Heather-Anne MacLean

Before we get into our own curated resources, Dr. Natalia Stakhanova, the NB Innovation Research Chair in Cybersecurity and Sandy Bird, IBM Fellow and CTO of IBM Security Systems Division, offered their top picks to bookmark:



1. KrebsonSecurity – Brian Krebs worked as a reporter for The Washington Post, and has authored more than 1,300 blog posts for the Security Fix blog as well as hundreds of stories for

2. Schneier on Security – Bruce Schneier is an internationally renowned security technologist, and has been called a “security guru” by The Economist.


3. Security Intelligence – Brought to you by IBM, this site brings together a number of information security professionals sharing a variety of up-to-date posts.


Sandy Bird, IBM

4. Dark Reading – This Information Week resource is a news site full of commentary and security news.


5. Naked Security – Naked Security is Sophos’ award-winning threat news room, giving you news, opinion, advice and research on computer security issues and the latest internet threats.

6. Dr. Eric Cole’s Blog – Dr. Cole is a leading computer security expert with over 20 years of experience.

7. ThreatPost – Threatpost “aggregates content from existing online sources and combines this with unique viewpoints to generate a broader public discourse on timely IT security issues.”

8. Security Watch – Brian Honan is recognized internationally as an expert in the field of information security and has worked with numerous partners in both the private sector and public sectors in Ireland, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere in Europe.

9. IT Security Guru – A great blog publishing daily breaking news and interviews with thought leaders in IT security.

10. Cyberark Blog – Cyberark is a security company that “proactively stops the most advanced cyber threats – those that exploit insider privileges to attack the heart of the enterprise.”

11. Wired’s Threat Level – Wired is a well-established digital destination and its Threat Level category is full of great cybersecurity content.

12. Dan Kaminsky’s Blog – Dan is Founder and Chief Scientist at White Ops.

Want to learn more about MarCom for cybersecurity? Be Prepared! Be Trained! Have a TaylorMade Solution.


Note: This post previously appeared on ONB’s Blog.

Warning: 63% of Small/Medium Enterprises are Targeted by Cyber Criminals – Are YOU Ready?

For many small/medium enterprises there is a belief that cybercrime is not really an issue. Cyberattacks and cyber criminals are only interested in the big guys. Not so. In 2015 alone, Symantec reported that 63% of spear-phishing attacks were focused on small/medium enterprises. Are you prepared to handle the communications onslaught that can come with an attack?


Source: Symantec

  Being Prepared

According to Ernst and Young’s annual global information security survey for 2016, only 42% of respondents stated that they have a communications strategy or plan in place to address a “significant” attack. While “significant” isn’t defined, an attack could impact your business in several ways. Some of the most obvious are:

  1. Systems and hardware are rendered useless after ransomware being initiated;
  2. Viruses being unknowingly delivered to your supply chain and/or customers;
  3. The potential embarrassment of clients, media, etc. being the ones to inform you that you have an issue; and
  4. Customers losing faith and taking their business elsewhere.

These are just some examples of what “could” happen. On top of these, add the fact that you could incur legal costs, IT costs and lost productivity, etc.

But How & When Will You Communicate?

How and when you will communicate is as important as what you say and to whom. Each scenario can involve a different set of communication plans. Additionally, ensuring that you have a proper distribution list is critical as well as having the right channel to deliver your message. If your systems have been compromised and you can’t use email, do you have a plan?

Here are some things to consider:

  1. How will you communicate with your employees?
  2. If you have advisors or shareholders, how will you communicate with them?
  3. Do you know when and when not to communicate?
  4. If your supply chain has been compromised, how will you communicate with them?
  5. What do you need to tell your customers with respect to their data? Do you have a plan in place to share with them  what steps you have taken to mitigate the issue and to further protect them? If not, what do you recommend they do and when?
  6. Do you have backup contact lists and relationship priorities established to ensure the right people are contacted at the right times?
  7. Do you have messaging ready should the media call or show up at your office?
  8. Do you have people trained and ready to speak to the media?
  9. Do you have a backup plan for your website if it is taken over?

A solid communications strategy will include information and plans to address all of these factors.

If you would like to explore options to have a plan of action, contact us.

We specialize in communication plans and deployment tactics.

Customer Service

Why Your Customer Service is Failing

Are sales not what you expect? Are repeat customers non-existent? These are two indications that your customer service is failing!  Customer service is not intended to be just words that business owners or managers talk about. Customer service is meant to be the beliefs, words and most importantly the ACTIONS of every person who works for the business.

Let me give you examples of the the really good and the really bad in terms of customer service that I have had in the last year – starting with the really bad first:

Not long ago I heard about a clothing store that was not only supposed to have great work clothes (a.k.a suits, etc.) but also very reasonably priced suits. Hey, who doesn’t like a bargain? So, on a particular weekend I trekked across town to a store called Olga. As I approached it looked promising. I saw some nice things.

The positive experience really ends there however. I was there to buy. Let’s make that clear. Despite this however, I could not get either of the people working there to even acknowledge me. Now, being nearly 6′, it’s not like I blend in to the clothing racks. I covered the entire store, selected some items off the racks and looked to the people working as I had questions. I even said “excuse me” at one point and the response…well, might as well have been chirping birds. Nothing. Nada.  Then to add insult to injury two other potential shoppers came in. And while you can’t judge a book by the cover, I felt confident that these shoppers would not be the typical customer. Their style was just completely different. Both employees…did I mention both employees greeted them and asked if they needed help. One of the ladies responded saying “Nah, we were just walking by and didn’t realize what kinda store this is. There’s nothing here that I would be interested in.” And, they left. Meanwhile I am still standing there and still nothing. So, I put the items I had in my hands back on the rack and walked out. I won’t be going back. This store offered zero customer service. It was clear, in my opinion, that the workers in this store had no idea what customer service is.

Why do I classify this as “ugly?” Simply put, the workers in this small store were not young kids. In other words, they should “get it”. One or both might have been an owner, but that is just an assumption. I don’t believe that this is a chain store either. All of these things combined result in the owner(s) of this store being in a position to build their brand and their customer base based on the quality of service and product offered. They really can’t afford to dismiss people.

Customer Service

On the other hand, there is cleo. Now cleo is a chain. There is some brand recognition associated with the chain. It is also clear that the staff have been trained. The key here? Did I mention that the staff have been trained. They have been trained to represent the brand. A brand is more than a logo and this is probably where a lot of people fail. Rather than thinking that your brand is what you promise to deliver, many people focus on the logo and the colours. cleo on the other hand has gotten it right. They know that their brand is focused on the professional women looking for on-trend clothing options at reasonable prices. This is what cleo means to me. To me this is their brand.

What is the Olga Moda brand? Again, this is my take based on my experience of what they deliver. Olga is a clothing store that doesn’t know who they are or who their customers are. As a result, they don’t understand the value of a person walking into the store and therefore ignore people willing/wanting to buy. They represent a bad experience. To me, their brand is not caring, not knowing and just not the place to shop.

It really is unfortunate when a business has not taken the time to identify their values, develop what they want to be in the eyes of their customers and potential customers. Finally it is a hug mistake to train your employees on the importance of who you are and what the brand is. These are all big misses that are completely avoidable!

Want to learn more about how you can develop your brand, train your employees and develop your business? Contact us. We can help.





4 Things Professionals Don’t Do on LinkedIn

It’s official! I have been on LinkedIn for more than 10 years now. Over that time I have worked with a lot of individuals and companies —more than I can remember really —to help them with their social media and their overall marketing strategies.LinkedIn

Unfortunately there are still some basic things that should be avoided that many people still insist on doing when using LinkedIn. These things can really affect their credibility quite frankly. The good news is, there are some very simple fixes and I have listed several below:

Unprofessional photos – Of all the places that you want to look professional, LinkedIn is it. This is “the” professional network. Your photo should reflect what your profession is, or what you want it to be. Take the time to get a professional photo.

To help, remember to keep things simple. If in doubt, wear clothing that is simple. No patterns or bold colours. It’s not that colour isn’t good. It is. In my current profile pic, I am actually wearing orange. However, not everyone feels comfortable with that choice. Keep make-up and hair clean and simple too.

2.  Avoid Writing in Third Person – For the life of me I can’t imagine why someone would think that it is a good idea to write about yourself in the third person. It sounds odd and out of touch.

3. Make use of showcasing “YOUR” publications – This is a great feature…”IF” you actually have written and published material.

Make no mistake about it, this section is to showcase your writing. Never, ever use this section to repost blogs or works written by other people.

Also, this is not the section to showcase media interviews that you have done with reporters. I have recently seen a few profiles where people put links to interviews and list themselves as well as the reporters as the authors. They aren’t authors. They are interview subjects. This is both confusing and misleading. It also suggests that people don’t understand what being an author is.

4. Avoid listing your martial status – This one people might not agree with me, but I don’t feel that this is appropriate for a professional networking site. It is not a dating site. So, skip it.

There are many other tips for your LinkedIn profile to make you shine, but these are four very easy quick hits.

Want to learn more about LinkedIn? Check out my other blog posts on the topic, or reach out to me for a consultation.