What Are You Reading?

I am currently sitting in the Thai Airlines lounge reading various business, current affairs and fashion magazines.

I noticed (from my sample size of one) that what I read reflects a change in my career intent and direction since last year. A year ago I would have gladly picked up an entertainment and/or fashion magazine and wrapped myself in/with it for an hour. It may be the workaholic in me or, when thought of in a more positive light, a shift in issues I care about. Now the publications on the table in front of me are Hong Kong Business, TIME, Fortune, Bloomberg Businessweek and Harper’s Bazaar (there’s my balance!)

I want to read about ways to build a better business, ways to utilize my cash to make mine with money, and learn more about cultural affairs/need to identify the next place I want to visit.

It feels like I’m inevitably growing up and my reading choices are a clear indicator. As the year comes to an end (and I am on vacation for a few rare days during the year where I am not working on my laptop) it’s a time for reflections to see where you’ve been and set your mindset for where you want to go for the next year.

Believe it or not, I find this activity to be pretty relaxing 🙂

Happy Holidays!

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Sales Success Tip: Pitch Outside The Box

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There are always standard ways to do things in any industry, so when you take it one step further, people notice.

Case in point, my agency was asked to quote for a website redesign project. I knew my relatively small website design portfolio would be my weakness. My specialty is in social media marketing and brand building, so what could I do to show the client we are the best choice?

Let’s take it one step back and consider the standard quoting practices. It’s usually a short summary of what the client is looking for (project scope) and then a bunch of numbers (the budget) to tell the client what they have to pay for deliverables.

I like showing my client prospects what we can do for THEM, something relevant to them and not a portfolio of our other works – because who cares? It’s not relevant to their profitability or brand. So I created a mock up design of the landing page I envisioned for the client’s website redesign and provided a brief competitive analysis illustrating why I chose that specific branding direction for the client.

Usually mock ups are not provided until after contract signing, but who cares about the standard way of doing things? I care about how I can make the client remember us and notice that we work harder and take their project more seriously than our competitors. It worked and we left a positive impression with the clients.

Key takeaway? Do more than what’s required, go further than needed, and show people you truly care – it will make a difference in your success in the long-term.

Does Your Company Host “Sincere” Sales?

Do you host sincere sales or fake sales that don't even cover the cost of tax?

Do you host sincere sales or fake sales that don’t even cover the cost of tax?

Does your company host “sincere” sales?

What do we mean by this? How many times have you walked by a storefront lured in by the sign that says everything including the cash register is on sale and you walk in to find hilarious savings of…10%? I have been on both sides of the fence buying and selling so there is no bias here. When I propose a 10% discount off on retail customers say it doesn’t even save the tax – and I agree with them.

Don’t treat your customers like idiots.

Let’s take the most recent Black Friday Sales as an example. For those who frequent the mall once a month, you would notice that some stores continually have sales like 40% off your first item, Friends and Family sale 40% off, 30% off your entire purchase throughout the month of October and November. Come Black Friday, which is THE major shopping day for the US (and now apparently Canada), when your sale signs are $20 off $200, $30 off $300… of better yet, 30% off select items…if your store is one of these then don’t expect people to stroll in and open their wallets on Black Friday.

Don’t complain about slow sales on THE shopping day of the year if you can’t offer sincere sales. Remember! YOU HAVE COMPETITION! If customers see that you have sales every week, or even every month that are roughly the same as your Black Friday offer, then don’t expect us to waste time shopping your store on the big sale date, because other stores who don’t usually have sales, are making us a better offer.

Here’s an example. ZARA never has sales. This past Black Friday ZARA was 30% off the entire store. Where did a lot of people go to spend their money? ZARA. TOPSHOP rarely has large discounts. They had 50% off outerwear and sweaters on Black Friday.

The point is, YOU condition your customers. if you have sales every week, NO ONE will ever buy your items at full price (and they won’t believe your products carry the full-priced value). If you never have a sale and you have a decent offer (this means 30%+ off) then you can expect heavy sales traffic. I know this all depends on “policies” from headquarters, but if you are an independent store who has control over when to have your sales and what sales to offer your customers, please show your customers some sort of sales planning so we are happier when you do throw a sale and are more willing to shop with you.

Do Your Customers Rave (or Rage) about Your Product?

What the Marketer Saw - Does Your Customer Rave or Rage about You?

What the Marketer Saw – Does Your Customer Rave or Rage about You?

You want your customers to have an opinion about your product – whether they hate it or love it. You probably want it to be the latter but either way, a middle of the road product is exactly that – going nowhere. Stagnant. Nobody gives a sh*t.

Here are a few brands I rave about:
– my gel nails (no joke) I get at least one compliment on it per day. I spend $40 and I can keep my nails, No chipped nails, for one full month.
– Zara: the best brand to integrate fast fashion trends into your wardrobe, whether it be casual or work wear. Yes I work as a stylist, no Zara is not a designer label, and yes I tell everyone it’s my favorite store.
– The Truffle meatball spaghetti at The Italian Kitchen on Alberni Street. Enough said.
– Pinterest. Admit it we can all stay on there for days scrolling through photos if we didn’t have to do more “life” things like eat, work and sleep. (Luckily for me a lot of my work is on social media).

From my examples above, evidently my passion lies in food and fashion; the key idea is you want your brand to energize your customer – when they talk about you their eyes come alive, they do an incessant amount of hand waving as they talk and tell everyone from their mom to their friend’s friend about how great you are.

Is it doing that?

How to Lose a Customer (Banking Version)

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Given my past business in online currency exchange competing against the big banks, you may think I’m biased when I discuss the matter of bad service at a bank. However, there is a silver lining, where I switch my business over to a bank that does deliver on its promise.

Let’s start with the bad news, the bank is an example of how to lose a customer. This big 5 bank markets itself to be focused on small business accounts, with a competitive business account offering. when I first started my business the low priced business account and security of a big 5 bank spoke to me and I opened my account with them. Flash forward 3 years later they have done nothing for me in terms of small business service. They are basically earning (a minimal amount of) interest on my business earnings sitting in their account. I had tried several times to meet with my account manager, which kept switching and I wasn’t really sure who could give me advice I could trust; none of them seemed convinced of their own service offerings, and didn’t have any good ideas on helping me manage my free cash flow and how to grow my wealth.

Now let’s talk about the good news – the bank that will now get ALL of my business – TD bank. Their small business manager took care of opening my account, setting up my business credit card, setting up my business investment account, all in one meeting. He knew his numbers, knew how I could benefit and knew what mattered to me as a small business and analyzed my business needs based on the types of expenses incurred. I felt safe placing my hard-earned money into this bank because I sensed there was real expertise there. Honest to god most bankers have the level of financial understanding similar to a first year finance student. Would you trust them with you money?

What’s the key takeaway if you are managing a brand or doing marketing for a corporate brand?

Deliver on your marketing promises.

It’s as easy as that. The first bank failed to deliver on their promise to take care of small businesses because of the lack of knowledge at their account manager level to make value-add recommendations. Delivering on a brand promise is a combination of every touch point with the customer, it has to be consistent. I cannot stress that enough. Having a great product but bad service that is inconsistent will take you halfway with the customer (and they will drop you).

Think about this and see if there are any touch points with the customer you can improve on!