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Co-branding is the Future of All Marketing

The future of marketing belongs to co branding. Find ways to make co-branding work for you to take your marketing to the next level.

Co-branding is the True Form of Engagement

There probably isn’t a single marketer out there that hasn’t thought and felt that the world of marketing has changed dramatically in the past 5 years. Not only has advertising moved away from pushing messages and bombarding people with them again and again and again, we are a point in marketing history where creativity, content, and education are expected.

We live in a time where customers expect to be educated and entertained at the same time, where attention spans are short, and real time demand for content and news is frigtening. We are moving into the world of co-branding and real time advertising. A world where we, as marketers, MUST work with our consumers to establish brands that will survive and thrive.

While in the past, marketers and agencies conducted focus groups on their advertisements (and we still do), we are now realizing that sometimes the largest focus groups won’t be able to give you the insight you need. A good example of this is Psy and his 1.7 billion plus video views for Gangnam style. If you told viewers that it would be the most viewed video on Youtube to date, I’m sure many of them would have laughed or shrugged it off.

While a music video may not seem like it’s marketing, I dare you to tell that to Psy who has major marketing endorsement contracts from companies like Nongshim Ramen (one of my favourite instant noodle companies) and Wonderful Pistachios. And not to mention the royalties he must be raking in from sales on the music that’s being distributed.

While there were certain pre marketing elements that made Gangnam style successful, it was the fact that the world played a role (the social media world) in spreading the word about this video. While it seems like it’s just word of mouth marketing, social media now allows co-branding and sharing of brand messages to be exponentiated in a way that has become marketer’s wet dream.

Gangnam style created a dance that other people could be involved in. Instructographs that showed people how to do Psy’s dance were spreading on social media. It was truly a marketing phenomenon, on something, in my personal opinion, that wasn’t that phenomenal, but that doesn’t matter, because it was co-branding that skyrocketed Psy.

Co-branding is what led to Psy’s success, let’s look at some co-branding concepts in more detail.

Co-branding is Co-entertainment:

This method of co-branding is one of the most powerful ways to engage with your target audiences. It’s when both fans of a brand or a celebrity can help create something that’s fun and uplifting, whether through AMA’s (Ask Me Anything) use of Reddit, which has helped some celebrities such as Gerard Butler, and destroyed others like Woody Harrelson. (For social media disasters you can listen to my social media disaster podcast.)

Then there’s the infamous Old Spice campaign where questions from Twitter are answered in real time through a video. A total of 186 video responses were given. Some of the questions and answers were funny, and others were very entertaining as well. Old Spice, and Wieden + Kennedy, the agency behind the work, hit a home run when they offered real time responses to those Twitter inquiries in which the videos garnered over 65 million views.

Here’s one of my favourite video responses by “Old Spice Guy.”

Co-branding is co-discussions

Co-branding is about creating discussions around your brand. It’s about realizing that as much as you may control the brand message at the start, it ultimately will be your customers that will either resonate with your brand message and want to share it, or they will ignore it.

Being able to have bold discussions, taking stands on what is potentially right and what is wrong, clarifying values for the public, and becoming more transparent with the operations of the business are the new models of business.

Customers want to engage with brands that share similar values, and reject those that don’t. A good example is that of Chick Fil A president Dan Cathay who stated that he was against non traditional marriages, suggesting that he was against same sex marriages. This led to a storm of negative publicity on social media. But ironically even with all the negative press, their sales went up by 12% in 2012. Former Governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee even declared August 1st as Chick Fil A appreciation day, which lead to record sales.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is Oreo. They made it clear that they were supportive of the LGBT lifestyles, and when they published the picture below, this lead to a hurricane of comments on Facebook. Most of it was very positive and supportive. Other brands like Grey Poupon, and Coke have done so as well. We’re also big supporters of LGBT rights, and loved Oreo’s campaign.

This Facebook post by Oreo displays their support for LGBT. Oreo's post started a huge wave of conversations on Facebook, as well as on social media and around the world. The results were overwhelmingly positive, and PR exposure was worth millions.

To create that emotional spark it’s about starting discussions, not just around your brand, but the values that your brand represents.

Co-branding is Getting Immediate feedback:

Co-branding is also about getting immediate feedback from your loyal fans. More and more agencies are now creating and testing their advertising online instead of in the world of television. More businesses are launching YouTube videos and creating web series that can get immediate feedback and don’t require the hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend for air time on T.V.

Businesses can now know how long a video was watched for, how many people liked the video and respond to comments regarding their advertisements right away. This type of feedback can shape the types of campaigns in almost real time before being shown on TV across the country.

Don’t be afraid of getting immediate feedback, embrace it with all your marketing heart. Businesses need to embrace the model of failing faster, in order to create success faster.

Co-branding is Co-creation:

Co-creation allows for people to participate in creating the brand. Also known as crowd sourcing, this method of co-branding is getting the fans of your brands to directly create content. Doritos has been holding “Crash the Superbowl” contests since 2006, where people can submit their online video commercials.

Asking their fans to create wonderful advertisements and then potentially winning hundreds of thousands and even a million dollars is just brilliant. And the campaign has led it to be the world’s largest video submission contest.

Many of the finalists created work that was delightful, and quite frank, much better than many of the advertisements created by large established firms. What is even more inspiring for these film makers was that they had a chance to have their advertisement seen during the Superbowl. How cool is that to put on a resume?

While there is prize money involved, it’s the ability to get fans excited about the brand and leaving it in their hands that makes the world of social media and marketing engaging.

Etsy does a great job of having guest pinners on their Pinterest account to help create that co-branding.

As branding becomes more of a partnership and less of a dictatorship, brands will find new inspiration and creativity from everywhere. Stop trying to control all the aspects of your brand, and start embracing the new world of co-branding.

What are your thoughts on co-branding, is it something that all marketers should embrace?

Google Authorship: How to Get Your Picture Next to Search Results

Want to improve your #SEO? Then you definitely need to add Google authorship to your blog or website. Find out how, and see up to 35% spike in your websites traffic.

Ever search for results on Google and found faces next to them on the left hand side? This is no random coincidence. Those photos are placed next to those results because they’re the authors of the content. When an author is credited and linked to a specific blog post, or website content, then their picture shows up beside it.

Google Authorship looks like this in the results pages. I decided to use my friend, Vancouver marketer, Kelvin KC Claveria, as an example.

Google Authorship Example using KC Claveria, a Vancouver Marketer.

What are the Benefits of Having Google Authorship?

Google Authorship Establishes Trust:

Since we are such visual creatures (look how big Pinterest has grown), any time we see a face in the middle of a sea of text, we’re most likely going to look at the photo first and not the text. Throughout human history, we’ve always had a subconscious trust when seeing a human face. Placing a human face on products and brochures have been known to increase the purchase intent for a service or product, compared marketing material that don’t use faces.

When we see a photo next to our search results, we often automatically give it credibility. This face next to the website gives it an extra boost in the trust factor.

Helps with Click Through Rates:

The benefit of Google authorship is that it allows search results to stand out and increase click through rates to your particular site compared to one without a Google Authorship photo.

One informal study done by Cyrus Shephard, showed how using the right photo for Google Authorship (which is linked to your Google + account) can increase click through rates for a website by 35%.

And you can easily see why with the example below, if your eyes are scanning, which ones are brought to your attention first?

Google Authorship is vital to ensuring that your click through rates improve, as well as standing out in search results.

It Helps with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Results:

Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google, was quoted saying this:

““Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.”

It May Play a Role in AuthorRank

AuthorRank doesn’t exist yet, but there has been a lot of buzz about AuthorRank. The concept is the same as PageRank, in which a webpage is assigned a numerical value for its authority and relevance to users of the Internet. For example the Wall Street Journal has a high page rank compared to my local newspaper the Vancouver Sun, because the Wall Street Journal is seen to have more authority than the Vancouver Sun.

It’s believed that Google AuthorRank will play a role in the future, in the sense that authors that are tied to specific content and have established authority through writing for different sites with high page ranks, or have a lot of social activity, will be a factor in ranking higher for search results. At the time of the writing of this blog post AuthorRank hasn’t been implemented, but this shouldn’t hinder anybody from signing up for using Google Authorship.

How to Implement Your Google Authorship:

Step 1: Verify Your E-mail Address

If you don’t have a Google Plus profile, then you need to set one and up go through all the necessary steps. You can learn how to set up your Google + profile here with a step by step guide by Wordtracker.

The first step to starting your Google Authorship is to ensure that you have a verified e-mail address for the website that you are writing your content on. Mine is

Ensure that the name you use for your Google Plus account is also the same name for the byline author of the content you create. You don’t want to have the dreaded, by “Anonymous” tag in your content. The name you use should be consistent across all the content you create across the web.

To verify your e-mail, make sure you are logged into your Google Plus account and then visit this site and follow the steps:

Step Two: Add Your Websites to the Contributor Section

When you’re logged into your own account, click on “Home” and then right below it you should see “Profile.” Click on that, and then on the top bar near the left hand side you should see the “About” tab. Click on this. Scroll down to the section titled, “Links.” When you click on it, a pop up will appear. Go to the middle of the “Contributor To” section. This is where you can add custom links and tell Google what websites you write content for.

Contributor for Google Authorship. Ensure that you add the websites that you write for in this section of Google Plus.

What if you don’t have a verified e-mail on the domain?

It’s important to add the websites that you are a contributor to mentioned in Step Two. If you don’t have an e-mail address at that website, then this can easily be solved by using the rel=”author” tag.

If you write a blog post, then ensure somewhere on the blog, or in a designated author box, that you link back to your Google + account. When you do link, you want to include the rel=”author” tag and so your link back to your Google Plus page should like like this.

The numbers will be your profile ID.

A common practice is to put the link in the author box, so that you don’t always have to do it manually. An example is in the picture below.

Author Page and how you can use it it link to your Google Authorship.

If there are two rel=”author” tags on a page, Google will only take the firs one. I’ve had this problem guest blogging, and since mine is second, my picture won’t show up in the rich snippets of Google.

Also if you are guest blogging for a site, you need to add the specific blog post added to the contribution section. This is probably the best way to guarantee you will receive credit for the work. The downfall is that you can have a very lengthy list if you’ve written a lot of different content.

For more info, or to find another helpful guide to authorship, feel free to visit our friends at MKG Media, their blog post, Google Authorship: A How-To Guide.

If you need to test out to see if it works then visit Google’s rich snippet testing tool to see if what you’ve implemented now works.

Why Marketing Can Never Replace Integrity

Why Marketing Can Never Replace Integrity
If you’re a Canadian, chances are you know who RBC is. It used to be called the Royal Bank of Canada, but due to global expansion it followed in the footsteps of other large financial institutions such as HSBC and UBS. For the record, it’s Canada’s largest bank and has been around since 1864, which makes the bank older than Canada.

What’s also interesting is that RBC spends a lot of money on advertising. A LOT. I don’t know what their budget was, but I can tell you that it works because it was reported that RBC made $7.5 billion dolllars in profit for the 2012 fiscal year. Every time I look at my daily newspaper (yes I still pick one up because it’s free), I see an advertisement for RBC. I see them on billboards, on skytrain advertisements, and I see them during the Olympics when they sponsor athletes, and I see them when I logon to their website, because I am, and this company is a customer of the company.

But that marketing has equated to some nice profits, their last reported quarter brought in $1.9 billion.

Are Profits more Important than Integrity?

Here’s where all that marketing and some of those profits will crumble. On April 5th, 2013, it was reported by CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) that RBC had displaced workers from their jobs in Canada and replaced them with foreign visa workers working in Canada. According to David Moreau, a former IT employee of the banking institution, he stated that he was responsible for training this new outsourced worker to replace his job. CBC also reported that another 45 workers were also put in the same position.

In all fairness, RBC did offer other positions for their employees, but it was reported that only 5 out of the 45 were able to be successfully placed in new jobs.

This news report has caused a firestorm on social media. As a matter of fact, as I’m writing this at 12pm on Sunday on April 7th, 2012…RBC is one of the trending terms in Canada for Twitter. Not exactly the way the marketing and public relations team wanted it to happen I’m sure.

RBC Trending

But not only that, there’s also comments on their Facebook page that are coming in every single minute that either talk about how much people hate RBC, or how many of them are going to switch banks (myself included). And of course the report is going viral across the world as I type.

All that marketing, and all that hard work they built probably isn’t going to destroy the corporation, but it has fundamentally given the public a reason to distrust the financial institution. It questions about how a corporation that was built by Canadians, and where Canadians were responsible for building it into a global empire can seem to care less about their fellow Canadians.

What’s worse, in a day and age where public relations and social media experts discuss about the importance of transparency, RBC won’t discuss what type of working visas these foreign employees have. If it’s not that big of a deal to RBC, why are they so hush hush about it then.

It’s been an outrage for many Canadians that the page Boycott RBC on Facebook was started, and it’s been mentioned on CBC and Huffington Post.

A smart marketer knows that an organization that has integrity, great values, and great respect for employees, will be a company they will love marketing for. Marketing such an organization with such action can be controversial. David Ogilvy once said “Advertising is only evil when it advertises evil things.” RBC doesn’t advertise evil things, but what it’s doing definitely lacks integrity, and is that evil? It’s up to you to decide.

This is why Starbucks had to shut down so many stores in U.S.A. Its values about customer service were compromised for profits, and no amount of marketing could change that souless interaction at a Starbucks counter. (I give a big credit for Howard Schultz for bringing back Starbucks values to the overall organization.)

You should hear both sides of the stories, but unfortunately the damage has already been done. The perception of RBC (and they aren’t the only bank that has practiced this) has caused a very sour taste in people’s mouths.

Let’s be honest, who is the general public going to trust more? Some C level executive, or the average Canadian who lost his job and has nothing to gain now by telling his story. Public perception plays a huge role in public relations and marketing.

It can take over a 150 years to build your reputation and brand, but the moment your organization forgets about integrity and respect and that’s the perception, then all that building can crumble within a day or two.

In all fairness I would encourage you to watch this interview with the Chief Human Resource Officer of RBC regarding their hiring practices:

At the end of the day, your company has to have values before profits. This isn’t an argument about outsourcing work, that happens all the time, it’s part of the reality, that much I understand. But it’s the way that these people were treated and replaced. It’s not like those positions were going extinct.

Sadly, no amount of marketing and public relations can earn back the trust of customers when you’ve broken fundamental values your customers take to heart. Customers are forgiving, if they genuinely feel you are doing something to make a change.

I’ll be switching the majority of my funds over to Vancity Credit Union and have already applied online, and I’m currently encouraging my company to shop around too. We have a policy of trying to hire local talent for all our work, yes it’s cheaper to outsource, but if nobody supports the local economy, there will be no economy.

Social Media Introverts versus Social Media Extroverts

Should you Hire a Social Media Marketer That’s Extroverted or Introverted?

Social media can be time and energy intensive. For some, the use of social media drains them, for others, it can do the complete opposite, which is fuel a person to new heights of social media engagement.

Marketing, as a whole, has rather been an isolated activity with the exception of experiential marketing.

Traditional marketing has allowed marketers and creative advertisers to be with our own thoughts as we think of campaigns. This is why for many, whether a marketer is introverted or extroverted has little influence on the type of marketer to hire.

However, this has all changed with the prevalence of social media. It’s important to understand how each type effects social media campaigns and which type of personality you need to hire for your business.

Your company needs to know whether you’re hiring a social media introvert, or a social media extrovert, and knowing the difference can assist in creating an integrated and powerful social media marketing team. One of the core strengths we have at MCNG is that we have both extroverts and introverts that work on our social media campaigns for our clients which has led to excellent results such as a reach of over 3 million in two months on our social media channels for the Vancouver Christmas Market.

What are Social Media Introverts Like?

Introverts are more likely to get social media burnout from continuous interaction with customers. Introverts are not shy, a common misconception, as many introverts are quite social. Introverts don’t do well being actively social for long periods of time or stretches.

I find myself quite exhausted after networking for 3 hours in a row, or if I’m attending 3 different networking events in a week for 1 hour a week if there’s no “me” time to recover.

Introverts need time to be quietly on their own and just recover from feeling drained. Too much interaction, whether it’s real life or on social media causes introverts to feel exhausted. Of course that’s not to say that it’s not exhausting for anybody to manage a social media account for 7 days in row for months on end.

The best way to use an introvert, is to have them work with social media engagement from time to time. And they work well with businesses that don’t need to a Twitter presence every 15 minutes, but instead can check once a day and not worry about the social media accounts on weekends.

What are Social Media Extroverts Like?

Extroverts work differently. They get their energy from socializing and engaging in fun conversations with others. This is for real life socializing as well as social media conversations. They generally aren’t the type of people who feel exhausted after a long day on social media, and are much more likely than introverts to go out and have a drink with some friends after work and tweet and Instagram a photo while socializing with friends.

Extroverts work very well in situations that require continuous engagement with fans where what is being monitored and said does need to be checked on the hour.

How Can Introverts and Extroverts Work Together to Create an Awesome Social Media Campaign?

What I find is that introverts enjoy pondering and reflecting. Therefore they make great social media marketers to help schedule tweets and plan out campaigns to get people engaged, as opposed to actually engaging. While those that are extrovert are able to engage while still following the guidelines of branded engagement.

Often extroverts don’t like to do scheduling for tweets nor plan out too much for the long term. It kills the spontaneity that feeds them their energy.

These are of course generalizations and should be taken with a grain of salt.

While I’m not saying that a person can’t do both, what I am saying is that by having both types of personalities available to manage social media accounts then you can utilize the strengths and the creativity of both introverts and extroverts for your social media marketing.

What are your thoughts, do you feel that introverts generally get more exhausted with social media, and extroverts tend to thrive?

For more about using the introverts and extroverts at MCNG Marketing, contact us, and we’ll happy to get back to you.

How to Deliver 5 Star Social Media Customer Service

Angry customer Why Social Media Customer Service is the Best Thing to Happen for B2C

When your social media marketing is aimed at consumers, there’s always going to be two sides of the coin that must be managed. The first is the marketing side. How does your social media marketing messages fit in with the overall brand strategy and goals that your company is trying to accomplish? The second is customer service. In my opinion the second one is more vital than the first.

You can create a brand but bad customer service will destroy the brand (unless you happen to be a monopoly). Many companies like Zappos, have created great customer service which has help them build a much stronger brand. The trouble that many social media marketers face isn’t the lack of marketing knowledge, it’s the lack of experience of dealing with real time customer service issues over social media.

Any marketer that has worked in customer service over a phone, or in person will tell you that they have to deal with service issues in real time, or deal with upset customers that have waited on the phone for 45 minutes. However, in the world of social media customer service we’re allowed some breathing room.

When customers or consumers complain to us online, as marketers and customer service agents we have the option to take a deep breath, calm down, and respond in an appropriate manner within a 24 hour period. Most consumers on social media don’t expect an answer in five minutes, unlike on telephone or real life, where problems must be solved at that moment.

This is why I see social media as a blessing, it allows great customer service reps that extra minute that’s needed to ensure that the most social customers are also the happiest. This is one of the great benefits of social media. With that established, what are the best ways to deliver 5 star social media customer service for your corporation or business?

1)Treat Each Person as an Individual

What can be hard for marketers that are transitioning into hybrid roles of customer service agents is to read the sheer number of complaints that read the same as the one before. Marketers are generally used to receiving briefs and summaries about their target markets. However this sudden wave of qualitative data can wear down any social media marketer over time. But it’s important to remember that when you are responding to people on social media, that these persons aren’t a number, but an actual person chatting with an individual issue. When you keep this in mind it helps you humanize the issues that customers are having.

And when you act as if you are having a one on one genuine conversation with that customer, that customer will know. Being treated with respect as well as being able to help with the challenges that customers have is a great way to guarantee 5 star service.

2) Take Time to Breathe

When you have really difficult cases in social media, you have the option to pause and reflect on how you want to answer. Just because someone tweets to you right away doesn’t mean you have to respond back ASAP. At times it’s better to sit back for a minute and ask yourself if you are in the best state of mind to answer that particular question. If not, what would put you in the right state of mind?

It’s very easy to get caught up in the emotions, or often times the stupidity of remarks that customers leave and you just want to say to them, “Really…you’re seriously complaining about that? An issue that has no relevance to the current situation.” Yes there are customers with dumb complaints. There’s no denying that.
But whatever you feel, don’t create the urge to say something snarky or rude over social media, the risks associated with answering poorly can be catastrophic. This is how brands fall into oblivion.

3) Admit it When You’re Wrong

This goes for the same thing when things go right. When things are on the correct path, and your customers love you, share that. Thank a customer for their wonderful compliment and let them know how much you appreciate their time and effort in letting you know. For every customer that sends you a good note, at least ten more people are thinking about it as well.

This also means that if you know your company screwed something up, that you admit and move on to fixing the problems. A good example is the Dominos pizza case. Denying the truth isn’t going to help. There are ways to make it sound more gentle and this is a job of a good marketer and social media customer service rep.

If a customer says they had a terrible experience, you generally would tell them, “We’re really sorry to hear about what happened. I can understand why you felt way about the experience, and we want to assure you that we are going to make the situation right and solve this as soon as possible.” It’s okay to soften the language, just don’t hide the truth that there was an actual screw up if it was the business’ fault.

4) Be Consistent with Your Response Time

Have policies in place for your social media customer service team and marketer and be consistent with them. Don’t answer tweets every other day, but answer Facebook every day, and leave to responding Yelp remarks once a week. Having a policy in place of when a response time is acceptable is vital to social media customer service. Just make sure it’s consistent.

5) Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Sometimes there are situations that are out of your hand or comments that really are just stupid. This takes judgement and good experience. I once had a Yelp review that said “Not Much to See.” It stayed at the top of Yelp for a little while, but this is the type of online review that doesn’t warrant a response. After all if you were a customer and looked at that review, how does it add value to the reader’s experience.

Customer reviews and opinions are no different from advertising. Boring advertising doesn’t enhance a person’s life in any way. Boring advertising doesn’t provide useful information, it doesn’t provide any entertainment value, it doesn’t make us think, and therefore it’s useless.

Mundane comments are the same. Sometimes people just want to be trolls and give people a hard time. In this case, don’t sweat it, focus on delivering the best customer service with the other 99.9% of your customers.

It’s important that marketers go through customer service training and get practice responding to real time situations. It will better prepare them in the world of social media. It’s also helpful that social media customer service agents understand marketing strategies and brand goals to help them know how their role fits into the bigger picture of the company.

Photo courtesy of Qole Pejorian

Risk Analysis for Social Media Marketing

Most Social Media Blunders can be Avoided

With the recent events that have taken place across the East Coast with Hurricane Sandy, a few large companies such as American Apparel, Urban Outfitters, Gap and even President’s Choice had used some insensitive online marketing strategies online to help promote sales. You can read more about the details of what was written from the Financial Post.

I have to admit I’m pretty amazed at how these large companies can make light of such a situation where people are dying and struggling without power. Would these companies have done the same type of promotion with 9/11? “Stuck at home because of 9/11? Then shop with us. Type in coupon Terror 9/11.”

I would imagine that a person and company would have to be pretty damn stupid to try to even go down that road with 9/11, and yet they did it for Hurricane Sandy. It’s moments like these that make me want to bang my head against the wall because it’s a few bad apples like these that make the industry sour.

There is actually a simple formula for businesses doing marketing that will prevent you and your company ending up with such a PR nightmare. And this isn’t just for social media. It should be for every type of marketing campaign that you hold for your business.

1) What’s the Worst that Can Happen?

This is an important question to ask. If you post this on social media, or in any marketing strategy, what is the worst that can possibly happen? While marketing encourages you to be on the edge, no marketing should be on the edge for the sake of it. Being on the edge needs to incorporate strategy. Calvin Klein did an ad that featured Brooke Shields at 15 that was extremely risque.

The marketers knew very well that the worst that was going to happen was that they were going to get an uproar from parents and those concerned with the exploitation of teenagers. They knew they were going to get bad press. But they anticipated it, and went with it anyway, because they weren’t aiming at those angry parents. They were aiming for their children who wanted to be “cool” and different from the parents.

However, when you start a sale that revolves around Hurricane Sandy, and you decide to send an insensitive tweet referring to it, what is the worst that can happen with that tweet? Hmmm….hundreds of thousands of people reading up on it over the internet and on newspapers not mention the tweeps that will jump on the opportunity to publicly yell at you.

Now the companies have to spend time and money to get the PR people to fix and analyze the situation. And with all the negative publicity they got, was it worth getting the extra sales (if any)? I would imagine not even close. I’m sure there are customers that are in the East Coast area that probably won’t be shopping with those retailers for a while.

Social Media Marketers Need To think In Terms of Risks and Expected Value

Analyzing risks is vital in social media marketing. Too many social media marketers don’t think in terms of risks and expected value. If a tweet such as the PC one above is seen by the public, what risks does it pose to my company? How does this affect potential sales, and what would the costs be to recover from this type of fiasco?

From a straight numbers point of view, you must ask, will taking this action actually help increase sales to the point that it outweighs the costs to offset the risk that are taken? If not, then you have a losing strategy. Period.

If the action you take has the potential to increase sales, and the risks associated with this marketing strategy are low, then this strategy should be taken. There are many creative concepts that are low risk and high reward. These include the Old Spice campaigns and the original Axe commercials. (in the case of Axe, their risks were quite interesting, they actually ended up selling their product too well to the right target audience that it soon was associated as a geek brand, and they later had to make some slight changes to their marketing tactics.)

Here’s the Basic Matrix:

High Risk, Low Reward – Don’t even think about it about executing that tweet, or marketing strategy.

High Risk, High Reward – Better fit your brand strategy, and it better not offend the target market you’re aiming for. But be prepared offend other groups. Remember that the sales and profits should outweigh the costs of risk involved.

Low Risk, Low Reward- These are called boring, boring marketing messages. Often require a lot of repetition to stick out and remain top of mind to customers and clients.

Low Risk , High Reward- This is where true creative marketing comes in, and this is why marketing agencies get paid the big bucks, it’s also where it’s most time consuming.

Look at the Matrix:

If your company plans on scheduling e-mails or social media messages that have the potential for conflict, just look at the matrix and ask where this message fits. And is the company prepared to deal with the consquences.

The Number One Reason Why Your Small Business is not in the News

You’ve opened up a new business and you believe that everybody in the world should hear and read about it. After all, who doesn’t want to hear about your great business idea, and how it’s going to potentially change the world?

The trouble is that newspapers, journalists, and editors don’t necessarily share the same enthusiasm about your business the way that you do. They don’t care whether your Facebook page is about to hit 10,000 fans, but if you’re able to find a way that helps 10,000 homeless people, now the news is listening.

Let’s take a step back and look at the bigger picture. A journalist has deadlines to meet on a daily and weekly basis, she’s going through all the different stories that are e-mailed to her, and on top of that she may have to cover an event for a full day. They must ensure that they choose the most interesting stories that are relevant to their reading audience. Not what the business owner believes is important.

During one of my meetings with a restaurant owner, he told me he had sent out numerous press releases to specific food writers but with no response from them. I didn’t get a chance to take a look at his press releases, but I have a feeling that what he wrote wasn’t considered something that was of interest for others to read.

If the press release was about a restaurant opening, sadly, there’s a hand full of restaurant openings happening every week. As journalists they have an obligation to write about what they feel would resonate with their readers the most. If your restaurant doesn’t have a great concept, or isn’t being opened by someone from Food Network or a celebrity chef, chances are that restaurant’s opening isn’t considered newsworthy.

Journalists Pay Attention to Newsworthy Stories

Most of the media could care less if you’ve opened up a third location of your business, or that your car garage fixed it’s 10,000th BMW. In order for your business to make the news, you have to send a press release that is newsworthy.

Journalist know the difference between a news story and advertising. If they feel that what you are sending them is purely about advertising your business then they’ll just throw the story away. You can’t try to fool them by sending in pure advertising copywrite, and have them think it’s news, it insults their intelligence.

Even Large Businesses Make this Mistake

I remember hearing a story from one of my marketing professors. She was one of the media relations co-ordinators for a large grocery chain in Western Canada. The chain announced the big winner of a $10,000 prize giveaway. The head of the marketing department wanted her to send out a press release announcing the winner of the prize. She told the head of marketing that the contest being won wasn’t considered news and that it could potentially hurt the reputation of the company when legitimate news needed to be submitted to journalists.

The executive told her to get it done anyway. So she sent out a press release regarding the winner of the $10,000 prize. The editor of one of the newspapers promptly responded back with , “Here’s the number of the advertising department. XXX-XXX-XXXX.” In which she went back and showed the executive.

How is What You’re Proposing Newsworthy?

A good test to ask yourself is this, other than myself, my family, and my friends, why would anybody want to read this?

For example, while the opening of your small business may be special, why exactly is it special, and different? Is your business a coffee shop that is located in an underground cellar? (This is newsworthy because very few coffee shops are underground, they usually above ground.) Is your business a social enterprise that helps support people who have been injured in war?

Does your story somehow impact the community around you? For example are you donating partial proceeds of what you make during the month of May to build help build a school playground in an upcoming neighborhood? Or maybe it’s to help build a school in Africa?

Does you company hire at risk youth, where they can develop job skills and have mentors help guide them in life decisions?

The truth is that every small business can get in the news. All you have to do, is do something that is newsworthy.

How Restaurants Can Deal with Bad Yelp Reviews

How to Deal with Your Restaurant’s Worst Reviews

Online Reputation Repair is Essential in the Restaurant Business

You are excited because your brand new restaurant has opened up for a week now. You are on top of the world. Until…you run into your first negative Yelp or Urbanspoon review.

And now you’re angry, because you take it personal. It’s as if someone has stabbed you in the heart and then decided to watch you bleed. After all, you put in a lot of time, money, and effort in ensuring that your restaurant is as close to perfection as it gets.

But then comes the tricky part. How do you repair your online reputation before it gets worse? Or even worse, before more negative reviews start to pile up?

What to Do with Your Worst Yelp Reviews

1) Stay Calm

I completely understand where you’re coming from as an owner. A Starbucks I used to manage was given a one star review by a Yelp Elite member in Vancouver who was an actual regular at my store. He came to the store often enough to the point where my staff recognized the gentleman.

One day he wasn’t satisfied with the coffee that we served and we ended up opening a brand new fresh bag of coffee of his choice. Ground the coffee for a French Press and then served him his personal coffee. Even in his review he stated that the staff service was friendly. Yet he gave us one star, and yet kept coming back into my Starbucks several times before.

And you bet I felt angry. After all, why would someone keep coming back to my store when there were so many other options if they weren’t a satisfied customer?

Being angry isn’t going to get someone to take off the bad review. Stay calm, and I’m going to tell you the next steps on what you can do for reputation repair for your restaurant on Yelp.

2) Set up your Yelp Business Account as Soon as Possible

Or find an agency that’s familiar with Yelp to help you out. A lot of the restaurant business planning books are so outdated that they don’t include social media in their business planning.

The later you delay it, the more reviews that will pile on and potentially hurt your business if not dealt early enough. Always sign up for a Yelp business account as soon as possible.

3) Reach out and Message Your Customers

There are two ways to communicate with your customers. You can send them a private mail explaining to them about the reason they may have experienced what they did, and potentially offer them to come back if the restaurant was at fault.

The other messaging system is to publicly reply to the review, if the review contains false or misleading information. Or if you want to clarify any other types of information.

One of our clients had a review where the reviewer suggested that there was MSG in the food. This is the type of information that could potentially turn away customers who read the review who are sensitive to MSG.

With this type of information being misleading and false, a public reply is needed. We publicly replied to the reviewer that the food used absolutely no MSG in the actual food, nor is any MSG used in any type of food served at the establishment. Shortly after, the reviewer not only recanted the remark from the public review, the reviewer increased the review from one to three stars.

Don’t Directly Ask For them to Change their Review

4) Let’s say that the person genuinely had a bad experience (and as an owner you have to put your ego aside and realize that mistakes happen no matter how great of a restaurant you might be.) Whatever you do, you don’t request that they go and rewrite their review.

You have to let them decide if they want to or not on their own will. I know it may seem unfair, but it’s no different than a magazine restaurant review that’s already published. You have to have faith that they will either take it down, or chances are they’ll write a new post about it. You can always send a private message on Yelp and thank the user for coming.

Learn to Work with the Yelp System ASAP

Why is this so important to Vancouver Restaurants? I’ve seen restaurant owners get upset about the Yelp Reviews and want them taken down. You can’t take down reviews (some of them you can flag for inappropriate comments). Yelp may filter bad reviews (as well as good ones).

But the great thing about the Vancouver Yelp scene is that we are still in the infant stage. A restaurant in Vancouver that has 200 reviews is considered a lot. And most restaurants take years to get to that many reviews.

In the U.S., it’s not unusual to see restaurants with 500 to 2000 reviews. Now imagine trying to manage all the bad reviews then. If you choose not to, each star that you lose is approximately another 5-9% of sales according to a Harvard study of Yelp Review.

Be Proactive because being Reactive will Emotionally Drain You

Be proactive, don’t be reactive. Too many owners of restaurants sit back and watch the reviews pile up. Instead they need to be part of the conversation as soon as possible. They need to treat their online reviews as if they are real reviews by real people in a restaurant. One of our clients, the Vancouver Christmas Market, realized how important it was to stay on top of responding to reviews because they realized the damage it was doing to the business.

Have you ever noticed that people tend to say bad and untrue things behind your back but they don’t say it to your face? Online reviews work the same way. By being present and responding to negative reviews, publicly commenting on untrue and libelous statements, your online customers know you’re watching. Chances are they’re going to write something that is more objective and based on the facts.

Bad Reviews for Restaurants Spread Fast in Social Media

In the past if someone had a bad experience, they would tell about 10-20 of their friends, now if they have a bad experience they tell their friends, and they post it somewhere online where in Vancouver has the potential to reach to 500 people each month that live in the local area. That’s pretty scary. Learning how to respond appropriately is important.

It’s not just about being there for the bad reviews, you need to proactively be there to thank with open arms the great people who write fantastic reviews. I’m surprised how angry owners get about the negative reviews but forget to break open a bottle of champagne when a good one is written about them. How soon we forget about our most loyal customers and focus on the negative ones.

Yelp is here to Help You Out

And lastly the people that work with Yelp in Canada and Vancouver aren’t evil people. They’re really nice. I’ve met with and personally know the community manager of Vancouver myself and in all honesty she’s fantastic and helpful.

They want to see great local businesses succeed. They want to make sure that you understand how their system works. They have a Yelp Business blog to help businesses. They are not out to destroy anybody.

What has your experience been with Yelp, and have you found successful ways to repair your reputation with online review sites?

Help with Yelp
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MCNG has worked with a business that has over 140,000 visitors a year with their Yelp reputation and business and this book can do the same for your restaurant.

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