I don’t usually keep up with UFC, Ultimate Fighting Championship, but I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the Silva vs. Weidman hype streaming all over the internet. Seeing the videos of this champion, Silva, doing more dancing than punching and even spending several minutes taunting his opponent, I couldn’t help but think “I hope he gets his”. Sure enough, when he dropped his hands Weidman took advantage and with a strong left hook sent the champions eyes rolling to the back of his head. There was a new champion! Silva thought he was better, and he probably was, but he let his guard down and his era was over.

No matter what business you’re in, you know once you’re the best, you have to work twice as hard to stay the best. It’s the same with customer service. You have a great company culture, training program and you work to hire the best people who fit this culture. But, it isn’t always easy to keep your employees motivated each day to deliver the type of service you have worked hard to instill in them.

There are several skills you must look for when hiring & training your staff for handling your customers the way you want them treated. Just being a “people person” isn’t enough. What does that mean anyway? Most people can be great when things are going their way or when things are easy. But, how do they respond when things are tough. Do they get complacent & let their guard down?

Below is a list of essential skills your employees must possess if they are on the front lines representing your brand.

  • Patience to listen and not interrupt with policies. They must have the attentiveness to really hear what the problem is.
  • Communication skills to respond in the appropriate matter and diffuse a situation if necessary. Using positive language always encourages an amicable ending. Instead of “we don’t have your replacement part now”, try “the product you need will be available in 2 days”.
  • Product knowledge to make an educated decision.
  • Acting skills. We know some situations are just ridiculous, but your employees handling these must still be able to respond in caring fashion and sometimes that takes a bit of acting ability.
  • A calming presence is essential in situations that could easily get out of control.
  • Ability to handle surprises because you never know when an unsatisfied customer will come your way.

No matter how you train your new employees, it has to be on a consistent basis. Because it is easy to let your guard down and lose customers.

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Follow up or Fall Out

June 27, 2013

Here is a really pathetic statistic. Over 40% of the time a new prospect is never followed up with after the first call. Consider how distracted our society has become, and Hellothat should really scare you. You are exposed to more than 35,000 messages a day between signs, email, texts, advertisements, etc. Chances are your prospects forget about you the next day. How could they not? It’s not personal. They are just simply overwhelmed with messages.

The good news is that you have a tremendous opportunity to stand out simply by developing your organization’s follow up skills. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Schedule a follow up call before ending your meeting.
  • Send a handwritten thank you note. This is a lost art, but will put you ahead of nearly everyone.
  • Confirm the details and next action of your meeting with a brief email.
  • Add every new prospect to your email distribution list.
  • Call all prospects at least one time per week.
  • Meet with current clients weekly if possible, and monthly at a minimum.
  • If you have an unhappy client or things aren’t running to their expectations, follow up with them right away. It’s better to deal with a problem head and let your client know you are doing everything possible to deliver.

Today we all have more competition for our clients’ attention, and most of it comes from indirect competitors. Remember that someone is going to call them, usually someone different every day. If you don’t follow up, one day someone else will win their business and you won’t. You may have to follow up with a prospect more than 20 times to get their business, but that’s ok. They will know you’re committed to them.

How do you follow up? Share some of your best experiences with us.

My son played in a soccer tournament in Greensboro, NC, last summer. While standing in line at a local restaurant, we started to giggle, when a lovely woman addressed every I Love these!customer as “honey bunch” or “sugar pie”. A person behind us got angry at our amusement and said that she is “the nicest woman and very genuine with her sentiment. Please don’t make fun of her!” We quickly explained that we weren’t laughing at her, but more at the general sweetness of the people of Greensboro, and how we had become used to cranky, poor customer service. That seemed to satisfy the defensive customer and she asked where we were from? I hesitated to tell her, Midland, TX, because I remember the good ol’ West Texas hospitality that I grew up with and realize how far we are from that now. Everyone is so busy, too busy it seems to be polite and it begs the question…Should we expect great customer service, when we are all so busy or should we just be happy to have any service at all?

At SDB, we put our customers first, no matter what and think we need to take a cue from Greensboro, NC and acknowledge good customer service when it happens! So we are going to give you some encouragement this Summer to focus on the positive and hopefully help change the way we all operate in the Permian Basin.

Join us in our SDB Super Service Shout Out! Whether it is the cashier at the pharmacy, the sandwich maker at your favorite lunch spot or the guy drying your car at the car wash, shout them out for great service. Stop complaining about how bad customer service is around here and focus on the positive. The rules are simple. Reward those who serve you with a smile, and be entered to WIN a $100 Visa Gift Card! Every time you post on Facebook about a positive experience you have had, you will be entered to win a gift card. Take a picture and post it on Instagram or make a short video on Vine and get a double entry, #Summershout. It’s so simple and it will feel so good!

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head scratchThis week is our final post about why you should hire an advertising agency? The simple answer is, “You don’t have time to do it the right way by yourself.” In most cases we rarely reveal anything new about an advertising strategy or objective that the business owner doesn’t already fully understand. What the owner is not able to do in most cases is implement the strategies and objectives. He simply does not have the time and resources because those are dedicated to running his business.

A great advertising agency like SDB Creative Group is an invaluable partner for a business. Imagine adding a full marketing department dedicated to selling your products and services to your key targets without adding the payroll, taxes and other overhead expenses. That is exactly what you get when you hire an advertising agency. All the research, planning, coordinating, buying, auditing, production, and especially the headaches are taken by the advertising agency, not you. All of the thousands of sales calls you receive wanting you to buy t-shirts, newspaper, radio, TV, internet, etc. are taken by the advertising agency, not you.

The advertising agency is your at will employee where their retention is based on their performance. You wouldn’t go to court without expert legal advice. You wouldn’t file your taxes without the expertise of a CPA. You wouldn’t perform surgery on yourself. Why would you put your name and image in front of thousands of potential customers without expert marketing and advertising advice? Make it easy on yourself and hire SDB. You’ll be glad you did!

by Shane Boring

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“A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time.” Henry Ford

“Word of mouth is our best form of advertising.” This is what 90% of advertising sales representatives hear when making an initial prospecting call. How much truth is behind this statement? 100%! No marketing compares to a referral from a satisfied customer. The problem is most businesses cannot simply survive only on referrals. That is why there is advertising.

The two main components of advertising are “the message” and “the media”. If you have a great message and are using the right media, you’re going to be very happy with your advertising. But if you have a poor message or you are not buying the right media, chances are you will be very disappointed. This is where a great advertising agency like SDB Creative Group becomes an invaluable partner.

First let’s consider “the message”. If you shortchange your potential buyer on this, forget about getting the results you want. Your message has to be compelling, and has to speak to your buyer from their point of view. Who do buyers care most about? They care most about themselves. Make your message about them.

Most companies advertising on their own without the help of an advertising agency completely miss on the message and talk nearly 100% about their company, not the consumer. “Hi! We’re here! And we’re open!” is the basic theme used by companies working on their own without the help of an advertising agency and is easily dismissed by the consumer. Think about how distracted our society is with the thousands of text messages, emails, commercials, and other messages we are exposed to every day. You have to get their attention, and you get it by talking about them.

A great advertising agency will bring an outside, unbiased perspective. The agency will know your company, its products and sales processes, and it will have very good understanding of your ideal client, and what makes them buy. This data and information is taken into a creative process where amazing ideas for solid, long-term advertising campaigns are born. SDB Creative Group has experience with this process and it is part of their everyday operation. Creativity is in their blood. You wouldn’t go to court without a lawyer. Don’t start shouting out your message without the expertise of a marketing expert like SDB.

Next week we will go in-depth on the second component, “the media”, but here’s a quick preview and some homework. Try to count how many different media channels you use in one day (internet, TV, radio, cable, print, outdoor,). I’ll bet it’s a long list.

by Karisa DanleyImage

As the mother of 2 girls, I have spent their early years encouraging them to be outside, playing with friends instead of watching TV, playing video games & being on the computer. I have set rules to keep computers in the common areas of our house and discouraged social media at young ages. We were the last of their peer group to have Wii, DSI & any of the “I” products.  I’ve tried to keep them a bit sheltered as to what is out there until I felt like they were ready.

As you may have guessed, just as it is difficult to keep your kids from recognizing the McDonalds sign, so it is with social media & technology. It’s for this reason my current position as the Director of Interactive Marketing, seems so ironic to me. My past experience was more in the traditional roles of advertising, but going back to work for an ad agency where digital marketing is the name of the game, has proven to bring a whole new element to what I knew and needed to know. Now, my kids are watching me on the computer in the evening, on Facebook, Pinterest, reading blogs & more. It’s exciting to plan campaigns involving an array of mediums and how social media can bring it all together by filling in the missing pieces, getting your brand in front of a whole new demographic. I love it! Social Media is about promoting a company’s brand and culture through new technologies and non-traditional platforms all while interacting with current and potential customers. What works for one business may not work for another. Discovering the right mix is like a giant puzzle and there is not a cookie cutter answer. But when people start interacting with the brand, success is achieved, and that for me is when social media becomes fun.

What do social media analysts do while their friends are pinning vacations, recipes & outfits?

The first thing each morning, usually early morning, they spend their time checking all social media channels for each client. Just because my lights may be out for a few hours, social media lights are never out. There is real time sensitivity to this activity, so timeliness is priority.

They spend time researching stories, writing blogs, planning campaigns and reaching out to clients to ensure strategies are on track. A portion of their day will be spent on reading trend reports to stay in touch with the latest technologies.

Just as will any marketing position, reporting is a huge part of any campaign. Analysts track basic stats, but also monitor conversations happening around the brand on and off pages and structure responses that are in-line with the company’s response.

What I have found now that I have a pre-teen, is that this job not only allows me to work with companies promoting their product, but it has opened up lines of communication about safe social media, the pros and cons. My daughter actually feel I know what I am talking about – shocking! Some parents may have the intentions of monitoring their kids on social media, but honestly, it is time consuming. This allows me to stay ahead of the trends, if I’m keeping up with my job, and play a role in something that is and will continue to be a large part of all our lives.

by Caroline Englestad

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There are times, at 3am when I wake from a deep sleep with a great campaign idea, my heart pounding. It is at times such as this that I think, why do I do this? This is insane, and yes, it IS mad and yes, I have often asked myself… why? Advertising is a thankless profession. We are the bad guys, the ones who ‘bend’ the truth to make people look good, to sell products no one needs. We know how to take a product or a service and ‘spin’ it to make it more appealing to the public. If you truly believe that, then you only have part of the story, there is so much more.Being a real ‘Ad man’ is SO much more than just throwing a TV commercial together about what somebody sells and putting it out there to the masses, ‘hoping’ it is well received. Agency life is very different from just ‘peddling’ media. Typically when I take a client on, I have already researched this client and their company. Is this company, at its core, a company I would want to do business with? Would I buy anything from them? How do they treat their customers? How committed are they? Is their heart in it? Are they ready? Because if the answer is a resounding no, to any of these questions, then the alarm bells go off… this will NOT be a good fit for either of us. A business must be ready to invest time, energy, and yes… money. If a business owner is willing to do that, then I will invest the same time, energy, blood, sweat, tears (yes, there are tears) and sleepless nights to ensure this company succeeds. I am their partner, I will celebrate with them jubilantly on the mountaintop and on the flip side, and I will walk one step ahead of them through the valley.

It all starts with an idea … (albeit at 3am!) one does not know when these ideas will come but they DO come and eventually I sit round a table with my colleagues and this raw idea is then cultivated, a group of people with very different views, talents and flaws come together to hash out this idea over strong coffee and eventually this seed materializes into a fully grown campaign, with all the elements working together, every piece carefully considered, planned, researched and agonized over.

The Pitch: this is a tricky time for an Ad Man. By the time I get to this stage I almost always know my client and what they need. I use the word ‘need’, they don’t always get what they ‘want’. If a client ‘wants’ to put his small children in a TV commercial, this is not what he ‘needs’ (undoubtedly he is the only one who loves his children, the viewer just finds them annoying) I am only pitching a campaign that I emphatically believe in, and not out of some self-indulgent pride but out of a genuine need to believe it will work. Putting everything on the line requires COMPLETE confidence.

The public are fickle, what works one day, won’t work another. The public get bored very easily so we strive, we change, we constantly evolve and we steer our clients through the ever changing ocean of ‘what’s hot and what’s not’. The client does not see what we put into a campaign, and ultimately if the campaign fails, it is the ‘Ad Mans’ fault, if the campaign is a huge success then we are just ‘doing our job’, thankless … yes, which brings me back to my first question , why do I do it ? Easy…when I have worked day and night on a campaign, when I have agonized, researched, eaten junk food, cried, bitten nails, paced the room, argued with my boss and finally… finally, taken a fledgling idea and made it into something great, when I hear people talk about it, when I see a business owner proud of their business, when I see a business flourishing, I can close my computer down and leave my office, go home to my children and tell them that I have done my best , that I gave it everything I could and my conscience is clean … well, until the next junk food binge anyway!