Category Archives for "Marketing"

5 Surprisingly Simple Ways to Improve Your Customer Experience

Improving Your Customer Experience is Easier When You Understand the Following:

  1. Customer Experience is in every business decision.
  2. The only true differentiation between competitors is the Customer Experience they deliver.
  3. Your brand IS your Customer Experience.
  4. Everyone is IN marketing  whether they realize it or not
  5. Customers complain when there is a disconnect between what you promise in your marketing and the experience they receive.

Let’s Look at an Example:

Restaurant A is next door to Restaurant B in tourist row.  They are both Mom and Pop restaurants which  sell similar products — food and drinks — but Restaurant A has a waiting line to get seated while Restaurant B is empty.   Why is this?

  • Restaurant A’s menu is more slightly expensive than Restaurant B.
  • Restaurant A’s servers are rushed off their feet but they are taking time to be hospitable to their diners.  Restaurant B’s servers are sitting at a table in the back tapping away at their phones.
  • Restaurant A is colorful, with clean white table cloths and sparkling glasses.  Restaurant B isn’t as colorful, its glasses aren’t quite as sparkling and the table cloths are showing their age.
  • Because Restaurant A is cooking for its guests, the aroma of deliciousness makes the tummy growl.  Restaurant B isn’t cooking, so no-one knows what to expect.
  • The signage for Restaurant A is appealing,  Restaurant B has signage that needs repair

People make decisions based on emotion and rationalize them with logic.  In the eyes of the tourists — who have to make a decision with limited knowledge — Restaurant A is a better choice for all sorts of reasons and they must be right because others have chosen it too.  The social proof convinces them to join the line.

What Could Restaurant B Do Differently?  

Do you know your customers?Customer Experience is in EVERY business decision — the decision to permit the staff to sit at a table in the back, rather than being outside with great big welcoming smiles on their faces while they invite people to check out the menu and perhaps offer a little taste of what they are serving.   By doing this they are not only marketing — building Attention, Interest, Desire and Action — but they are drawing people into their customer experience.

They need to decide who they are, who they want to serve, what those people are looking for and deliver it.

They need to fix the signage, replace the table cloths and shine the glasses before putting them on the table because people will make assumptions about the quality of the food and service based on those visuals.    They are marketing to the world that they either aren’t interested in the details or they aren’t able to invest in their business, neither of which appeals to people who want a good experience.

They need to find a hook — something that people want which is different and more valuable than the other restaurant offers.   They need for people to experience what they have to offer.  They need to show social proof to get people to come in, which will lead to more people following.   They need to add some life to their restaurant — no-one wants to eat at an empty restaurant.  They need to start investing in a consistent experience so that people know what to expect.

5 Ways To Improve Your Customer Experience Experience

  1. Know who you are serving and what they value.  Be clear on who you want to attract and who you want to repel.  Then find out what the people you want to attract value and what they don’t.  Ask them what you should Start, Stop, Increase and Decrease.  Use the T-Form, which you can download here
  2. Find out how people decide to do business with you.   What influences their decisions?  How did they find you?  What journey did they take to sort through their options?  What were the moments of truth for them?
  3. Follow-up after the sale.  Very few people do that, so you immediately differentiate your business from others.  Follow-up to be sure they are happy.  Ask if they have any questions you can answer.  Inquire about any other needs they have (great time for a cross-sell or up-sell).  Create a follow-up schedule.  What will you do, when will you do it and how will you follow-up?
  4. Train your staff.  I know it sounds like an absolutely “Captain Obvious” statement but so many businesses are cutting back on training, which is the wrong approach.  Your customers tend to know more about their options and your competition than you do — after all, it’s in their best interest to make an informed decision.  However, when they ask questions they have been unable to resolve during their research, your staff have to be able to answer and/or find someone who can quickly respond.
  5. Align your marketing with your customer experience.  If there is a disconnect, either change the experience or change your marketing.  Remember your brand IS your customer experience, so ensure your brand promise is indeed what your staff deliver — consistently and across all touch points.


Share your thoughts below in the comments…


Marketing – The New 5 Ps For Marketing

5 Ps for Marketing_3-01You likely already know the 5 original “Ps” to marketing – product, placement, packaging, promotion and price.  However, in today’s business environment there are 5 new marketing “Ps” to consider to transform your business.

Personality – People want to see the personality behind the brand and they want that personality to be honest and congruent with the way the person is “off stage” too.  For example, Sir Richard Branson shows his fun-loving, adventuresome side of his personal life while the Virgin brands are also fun-loving and adventuresome.   Even if the personality behind the brand are  the employees they need to be congruent with the personality of the brand.  No grumpy people working at Disneyland; only tender dental hygienists working at the “tender dentist” etc.

What is your brand’s personality and are you including it in your marketing?

Purpose – Every business has a purpose — to make money.  There are other purposes to consider though.  Purposes larger than the business or product itself.  For example, the purpose of our business is to reinvent lives globally and the best way to do this is to help business leaders to transform their business to become S.T.A.R.S.™ – Sagacious | Transformational | Attractive | Resourceful | Sustainable.

What is the purpose for your business and/or brands?  Are you sharing your purpose with your customers, employees, prospects and supporters?

Passion – People want to connect with people who share their passion – whether it’s reinventing lives, transforming businesses and communities, living off the grid, living a healthy and happy life, driving race cars, travelling the world, leaving a legacy, paying it forward or denouncing ways we are being manipulated by big business.

Do you show where your passion lies in your marketing?

Platform  – Your platform is what you are known for.  My platform is reinvention.  My friend Sohail Khan’s platform is joint ventures.  My friend Karen’s platform is the mind/body connection.

Ideally you want your name / brand to become synonymous with your platform – think of shoes and you think of Zappos.  Think about books and you think of Amazon.  Think about a magical vacation with small children and you likely think of Disney.

By becoming clear and focussed you will be able to hang out your “platform shingle” which helps you expand your reach through strategic partnerships and your marketing.

What is your platform?  What do you stand for?  What are you known for?

People –  Your people make or break your business.  People * Power * Profit so how do you ensure you are marketing to the right people so they become your employees, your customers, your vendors, and your strategic partners etc?  You do it by being very clear what your mission, vision, purpose, passion and ideal customers are.  You take a stand.  You invite those who you want in your circle, your tribe and your community to join you.  You ensure that those who you do not want to associate with don’t are kept on the other side of the “red velvet rope”.

Are you attracting the right people to your business?

How Will You Incorporate These 5Ps in your Marketing to differentiation your business?

Creating an Emotional Connection – P&G

Creating an Emotional Connection Increases the Opportunity for Customer Engagement

When you create an emotional connection with your customers and/or prospects, your ability to increase your customer lifetime value (CLV) is higher because emotional connections are a necessary element for having a relationship — and relationships are needed for customer engagement.

In the olden-days, when people shopped locally, it was easy to have a relationship and connect with your customers on an emotional level because you knew them and they knew you.  Local marketers who adopt this philosophy today certainly attract more “loyal customers” than those who don’t and they have the ability to win back certain customers who have chosen to shop big-box or online.  B2B marketers are also wise to make the emotional connection with their customers too — after all it is a person who is making the purchasing decision.

However, what do you do when you are a multi-national consumer brands company?  How do you create an emotional connection to the company that provides toilet paper, diapers, toothpaste and the like?   I know I’m certainly not emotionally connected to my TP — unless of course there is one sheet left on the roll — and I cannot think of one consumer product in my home that gives me the warm-fuzzy of emotional connection.

Which leads me to this video from Proctor and Gamble — which had me in tears this morning.   P&G understands that women are — most often — the decision makers when it comes to many purchases for the home (unless, of course, there are no women in the home!).  P&G knows we women also tend to me more emotional than men and  P&G understands that Moms often feel unappreciated when it comes to their roles while raising children.  So, they create videos to pull at our heart strings with videos like this one.

Will this video result in me buying more P&G products?  Likely not, since I am not particularly brand-loyal when it comes to consumer goods.   I also couldn’t tell you which brands belong to what company, so is this video useful?

The answer is yes — and no.

Yes, this video is useful because it’s been viewed nearly 20 million times.  It’s got over 30,000 “likes” and over 3,000 comments.  It’s an engaging video which is increasing the exposure to the company and its brands.  …  and let’s not forget that I am one of who-knows-how-many who are sharing the video on my website!

However, if the intent is for me to buy their brand, I’m afraid it won’t work because, although I will probably remember this video, I still won’t remember what individual brands it represents.  Even as I type this a mere 5 minutes after watching it, I am struggling to remember what the diaper brand was and the more I rack my brain to remember, the more I realize I can’t remember any of the brands.  Perhaps it was the tears running down my face.

Was it a good use of their marketing budget to create this ad?  What do you think?  I’m the first to admit that I’m not a specialist in consumer brand marketing or consumer brand engagement — as you can likely tell — so I’m going to switch gears back to what I do know.

I know that it’s important to create an emotional connection between your customers and your business and it’s easier to do that when your business is not a multi-national consumer products brand!

Find a way to connect with your customers — on a personal level — on an emotional level — so that they will come to you to purchase because they know you will have their backs and because you share the same values.

It doesn’t matter if you have a B2B company like I do — we have always “had the backs of our customers”, we’ve always made an effort to get to know them as people, we’ve always done whatever we could to make them look good for choosing us over the competition.  If you have a restaurant, or a medical services practice, or a niche manufacturing facility — it’s exactly the same.  People choose to buy based on emotion and rationalize their purchase decision.   When you figure out how to connect with your ideal customers on that emotional level you can expect to see increased profit through referrals and repeat purchases.

Until next time — I’m off to find some tissues — not quite sure what brand we have here though 😉

What lessons do you take away from this experience?

Share your thoughts below in the comments …

F.O.R.C.E. Formula™ for Business Transformation – Reach

F.O.R.C.E. Formula ™ for Business Transformation – Reach

The F.O.R.C.E. Formula™  is a comprehensive review and action plan for transforming 5 primary areas of business that are ripe for transformation.  Regardless of whether you are an aspiring entrepreneur, a seasoned entrepreneur, a small business owner, a professional services provider or a leader in the corporate world, the F.O.R.C.E. Formula™ transforms the way you do business.

Within each of the 5 primary areas for business transformation there are 5 key elements and within those 5 key elements there are 5 actions, activities or questions to be answered.

In this video Carol explains the R in the Formula — Reach

How are you expanding your reach in a way that is both profitable and engaging?  How are you leveraging your expertise and the expertise in your business?  Are you using social media platforms to engage with customers and prospects?  Do you have a mobile marketing strategy and plan — everything from a website that looks good on a mobile phone, to using text messaging, a mobile app and even Near Field Communication?  Who are your ideal strategic partners to expand your reach?  Who can you partner with to enter new markets?  How can you get your non-competing but complementary products and services into the hands of another business’ customers?  Do you have products or services that can be licensed?   Are you leveraging new media platforms such as podcasts, Hangouts on Air, Kindle etc.

In this module – which is a big one – you will learn multiple ways to increase your reach with little more than commitment on your part and a small budget for tools or specialized services.

What lessons do you take away from this post?

Share your thoughts below in the comments …

Super Simple Marketing Plan

In this post, the last of the Super Simple Plans to reinvent your business or to launch your business quickly we are creating our super simple marketing plan.

If you missed the Super Simple Business Plan post, click here.

If you missed the Super Simple Marketing Plan Preparation post, click here.

What you’ve done so far is get very clear on your vision, mission, strategy, ideal customer and what you are going to sell in a way that differentiates yourself from others.  Now it’s time to create your Super Simple Marketing Plan – based on Guerrilla Marketing concepts — so you can get going.

7 Sentence Marketing Plan

marketing scrabbleAll the prep work you’ve just done now translates into your 7 sentence marketing plan.  If you have more than one product for more than one audience you can and should create one marketing plan for each but let’s just create one for now

The Specific Purpose of My Marketing is to:  (start with a verb/action word. For example get people to sign up for a free consultation)
The Competitive Advantage I Want to Stress is:
Our Target Audience is:
Our Ideal Customers (for This Product/Service) Are: (complete for each product/service)
The Marketing Tools to gain exposure and to lower Our Customer Acquisition Cost are:
 Our Niche in the Market is: :
Our Marketing Budget Will Be ______ % of Our Projected Gross Sales in Year One.

Now that you know what you are selling and how you are going to market, it’s time for you to get going!  In future posts I’ll explain why your customer experience is so critical to your success.  Until then…

What do you think of this Super Simple Marketing Plan?

Share your thoughts below in the comments …


Super Simple Marketing Plan Preparation

marketing scrabbleIn the last post about the Super Simple Business Plan, I explained how important it is to be thorough yet quick to get your business going or reinvented — money loves speed.  Business is moving so quickly these days that those who waffle will be left in the dust — as will those who don’t see where things are headed in their market.

Today’s post is all about a super simple marketing plan.  I am a Guerrilla Marketing practitioner who learned from the Father of Guerrilla Marketing, Jay Conrad Levinson.  I am the best-selling author of Guerrilla Tourism Marketing which I wrote, published and marketed in 2012.   One of the Guerrilla Marketing concepts is to create a simple marketing plan, which will be the subject of the next post (so be sure to subscribe to the RSS feed!)

To prepare for your super simple marketing plan, answer the following questions.

Super Simple Marketing Plan Preparation

What Are Your Business Goals for Your Desired Lifestyle?

Express your business goals, in terms of the amount of income (profit) you want each month and the number of days off you want each month.  Regardless of your current situation, write down what your goals are.

Year One

The amount of net profit I want is $_____________________ per month.

I want ___________ days off each month.

Year Three

The amount of net profit I want is $_____________________ per month.

I want ___________ days off each month.

Year Five

The amount of net profit I want is $_____________________ per month.

I want ___________ days off each month.

What Products Will I sell?  To Whom?

You should be thinking of multiple products to sell, from easy decisions through to large commitment.

We are going to sell [What product/service] to [Ideal Customer]  because it solves [specific problem they are urgently needing a solution for] problem for them.  We are going to charge [$x and frequency] for this product and service.

We are going to sell _____________________ to _________________________ because it solves _________________________________ problem for them.  We are going to charge ____________________________________ for this product and service.

Do this for every product / service you intend to offer.

What Are the Benefits of Doing Business With You? 

This list is extremely important because you will list all the reasons why your customers will benefit by doing business with you.  Be bold, be brave, stick out your chest and give it a double-fist-thump.  Now, in the next three minutes, list every possible benefit you can think of.  Just brain-dump, do not edit at this point.

The benefits of doing business with my company are:

What Are Your Competitive Advantages?

From the list you just created, there are many benefits that will also apply to your competitors.  So choose the items where you are different than your competitors.  This is what you’ll focus on in your marketing campaigns.  It is your positioning.  That is a huge competitive advantage and great for positioning.

What Are Your Target Markets?

The more markets where you can target your marketing, the more profits you will earn.  You may have only one target market but many of us have more than one market.

What is your Customer Lifetime Value (CLT)?

Customer Lifetime Value is how much a customer will be worth to you over the number of years they are your customer. Note that you may not know this now but it is a metric that you need to track

What Is Your Elevator Pitch?

Imagine you got into an elevator and someone asked you what you do.  In the time it takes to get to your floor you need to express yourself in a compelling, unique and intriguing way that will make them hold the door to ask you for more information.   So, what do you do?  What is your elevator pitch? 

What do you think of this Super Simple Marketing Plan preparation?  

Share your thoughts below in the comments …

How to Win The Hearts of Your Customers and Employees

Learn a Customer Experience and Employee Engagement Lesson (While also learning about great PR!)

WestJet knocks one out of the park for its customers and its employees!

Check out the video and see what elements you can do in your own business to improve your customer experience and employee engagement.  We don’t all have the budgets or the networks to pull off what WestJet did — however, we can all do something special with our employees to make the day of our customers.   By including the employees, they had a lot of fun, yet imagine the trickle effect throughout the whole company.

So, my challenge to you for 2014, is what can YOU do in your company to strengthen both customer engagement and employee engagement?  Tell me below in the comments.  I’d love to hear from you!

My Top 3 Tips For Managing Your Online Reputation

A Reputation That Took Decades to Build Can be Threatened by a Single Event


You may find yourself in the unfortunate position as the victim of a coordinated attack on your business using social media, which is a horrific situation for anyone who has lived through it.

Negative reviews are bad for business and no-one disputes this reality.  However, when you understand how to leverage online reputation, and in particular, your online reviews, they can be very powerful and very profitable.

#1 Evaluate your brand promise versus reality.  What are you saying in each and every marketing message?  What do people expect when they shop with you?  Is there a disconnect between the customer experience and your promise?
If yes either change your brand promise or fix the disconnect.  This could mean training, replacing people, investing in upgraded equipment, renovating and so on.

Remember… each and every touch point someone has with your business is marketing.  Be sure it is consistent with their experience otherwise your reputation — both online reputation and offline reputation — will suffer.

#2 Claim your accounts.   If you have not claimed your Foursquare, Yelp, Urban Spoon, Google Places, Facebook, Trip Advisor and other accounts where people are reviewing you, do it immediately and start responding to the reviews.

When you read a great review, thank the person for taking the time to comment, be humble but reinforce your brand promise and ask them if they would like to call out any employees who made their experience so you can properly recognize them.
By doing this it shows you are listening, you care, you appreciate, you are dedicated to a positive experience and you are a good employer that values the great employees you have.

Also respond to negative reviews.  If it is a legitimate complaint, recognize the person, thank them for giving you the opportunity to improve the experience your customers deserve and ask them to connect with you directly offline.

Note:  Always remember that just because you are offline, your conversation or correspondence can end up back-online.

#3 Be relentless in your quest for testimonials and reviews.  Remember, people look at reviews as social proof and many people will choose one business over another because of the reviews, so you want as many reviews as possible.

Many happy customers will say they will write but they don’t because they are busy or because it’s a pain to get an account so they can leave their review.

Tip: Knowing what is being said about you is the first line of defense and there are social media monitoring services, such as Trackur, Social Mention, Netvibes or Topsy. They will track mentions of your business online so  you can see what is being written.

You should also set up a Google Alert ( for your business name but I would not recommend relying solely on that service as it is not as thorough as a social monitoring service.

What lessons do you take from this post?

Share your thoughts below in the comments …

Living Your Brand Promise

“How can I optimize my marketing budget?” and “How can I get more sales?”

… these are two questions that I’m regularly asked and they are not only valid questions but they are indicative of reality… we need to spend less on marketing (and other expenses) while we increase our sales (and profit).

My answer is usually the same…

  • Where do you currently spend your marketing budget?
  • What marketing activities can be proven to increase brand recognition and sales?
  • What do you spend your money on that you shouldn’t because it does not work?
  • What do you spend money on without knowing if it is producing results?

Then, I ask tougher questions, still related to sales and marketing…

  • Who is your ideal customer?
  • What is your brand promise?
  • What is your customer acquisition cost?

… and once we know these things… I ask the one-two-punch questions.

  • Are you living your brand promise?
  • Consistently?

If you are not living your brand promise — consistently — and your customer experience is not consistently equal to or greater than your brand promise, you are simply wasting money.

Marketing isn’t just advertising, it’s every exposure to your brand.  From the cleanliness of your premise, to your service, quality and your customer experience, you must be relentless in delivering according to your brand promise.

Put your energy and money into hiring, training, equipment, infrastructure and whatever else it takes so that you know that day-in-day-out you will deliver what you say do.

Then… work on creating and nurturing relationships with your customers (you know, the ones that love you because you do what you say you’ll do… each and every time).  Use those relationships to increase referrals, increase joint ventures, increase sales and lower your customer acquisition cost.

A significant portion of a business’ value is based on intangible factors such as goodwill, partnerships, alliances and key employees, so it makes sense to spend time, money and energy to maximize that value.

A quick example of what to do and what not to do:

We have just returned from a cruise out of the Port of Miami.  This cruise line’s branding is all about “fun” yet, on the ship we saw one lone crew member having fun (excluding the activities people).  She was a waitress that had obviously bonded with a couple of passengers.  She was laughing and interacting with them.  Mind you, she totally ignored us but that’s a different story.

The rest of the crew, except for our cabin steward, who was friendly, hospitable and called out to us by name as he saw us; the dining room hostess who was the only person to ask for feedback and provide “hospitality”; and the waitress who served bar drinks on the “Serenity Deck”, the rest of the “team” appeared to be demoralized, unappreciated and they were certainly not having “fun”.

Eager to get back to our expectation of hospitality, I arranged to visit a couple of hotels while in Cozumel.

Hotel in Cozumel

We went to the Intercontinental Presidente and we were thoroughly impressed by the property and the staff.

I loved their attention to comfort.  They were hospitable, genuine, smiling and caring.  We were invited to stay for lunch and it was delicious.

We then went to visit the Cozumel Palace.  We’ve stayed at another Palace Resort twice in the past year and we’ve visited a couple of other properties.  We know what to expect in terms of quality and service.  This property was small – wedged between the road and the sea – and I was a bit concerned because of the noise on the road side and the lack of beach on the sea-side.  However, we would stay there because of two things:  Palace’s dedication to both quality and service.

So what has all of this got to do with “Living Your Brand Promise?”

Everything actually… you see, because the Intercontinental Presidente and the Cozumel Palace both deliver what they promise, they can lower their marketing costs and increase their sales because they engage their customers.

Engaging with customers means communicating with them..

Customer Engagement is different though … it means you’ve earned their “heart”.

Engaged customers are more likely to refer people to your business, they are more accepting when things don’t go right and they are more likely to continue to do business with you.

Compare this to a company that does not live the brand promise.  They constantly have to hire new employees (after all, employees won’t stick around either if the brand promise is inconsistent with reality), they constantly have to deal with rookie learning curves, they constantly have to spend tons of money on marketing and they do not enjoy the repeat, high-profit advantage of engaged customers.

So, the best way to increase your profit, increase your sales and optimize all your expenses, including your marketing budget is to go back to your roots and be sure that you are living your brand promise each and every day.