Customer Service Tips: Do You Treat Different Customers Differently?

Seth Godin brought up this thought-provoking question in a blog post. My answer? Yes, I treat different customers differently. I treat all customers with respect and in a professional manner. But the customers who take responsibility for their marketing and who are willing to be a partner with me in the process — those are the ones who get top priority.

By the way, those customers are not always the ones who spend the most money with me either. When it comes to working with people, I’m like a blood hound. I NEED to see the customer succeed — it’s more than just a want. In order for that to happen, though, the customer needs to be a part of the process, at least for the type of work I do. This is why those customers get top priority.

How ’bout you? Do you treat different customers differently?

Business Anniversary Ideas: Mark Those Milestones

It always amazes me when companies overlook the simple things, like their own birthdays. Marking major milestones, like 10 years in business, is a great way to engage customers, reinforce credibility, and garner press. Here are five business anniversary ideas to weave into your marketing plan.

1. Note it on your website. I’m not talking words, but rather some sort of a visual that appears on every page. (Yes, you’ll want to note it in words as well.) Adding a banner graphic that notes the anniversary and having it link to a retrospective blog post is a good strategy. (Bonus: add the banner to social sites, like FB, Twitter, and LinkedIn.)

2. Create a promotion around the number. For example, if you’re celebrating 10 years in business and you’re an acupuncturist, have a contest where you’ll give one lucky winner 10 FREE treatments. You can get a lot of mileage out of a contest like this, since you can promote it through your website, newsletter, Facebook, Twitter, email signatures, etc. To enter, people can fill out a form and write a brief statement (250 words or less) as to why they should be the winner and what they’d use the treatments for.

3. Expand your “About Us” section on your website. Add  “Through the Years” or a “Time Line” (or both) on your site where you visually walk people through some of your major milestones.

4. Throw a party. Seems obvious, right? Company anniversary celebration activities are a great way to let your business be REAL. Throwing a party mid-year (late June is a good time) is always a great way to thank people for their involvement in your success. I’m talking employees, customers, and vendors alike. Here in Massachusetts, a cool, fun place to hold a corporate event in Kimball Farm (great ice cream!) in Westford, Mass. Michael Katz of Blue Penguin has been holding anniversary events there for many years.

5. Give gifts. Identify your top tier clients and send them a gift that signifies your business milestone. For example, if you’re celebrating 20 years in business, consider sending an arrangement of day lilies to your top clients with a heartfelt thank you note (the day lily is the flower associated with 20th anniversaries).

Have some other ideas? I’d love to hear them. Leave ’em in the comments.

Word Confusion: Farther vs. Further

Dear Copy Bitch: I love the tips you give on confusing words. How ’bout these: further vs. farther.

–Word Lover, NYC

Answer: As long as you don’t tell me you’re a Yankees lover, I’ll answer your question. Think of the phrase “traveling afar,” and you’ll have a good hint. If you’re talking distances, use “farther” (almost always). If you’re talking quantity or degree, go with further.

Examples:
George’s home in Italy is farther away from me than his home in California is.

If I go any further into my George obsession, some blog readers might think I’m seriously nutty.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Marketing Advice for Halloween

Dear Copy Bitch: I challenge you to come up with a marketing post involving Halloween.

–The Instigator, Chicago

Answer: No problem. Here’s a great post on marketing from marketing guru Seth Godin: “Why Celebrate Halloween?”

(Note: Mr. Instigator, you didn’t say it had to be an original marketing post involving Halloween.)

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Word Confusion: Compliment vs. Complement

Dear Copy Bitch: Any tricks for keeping compliment and complement straight in my thick skull?

—Confused in Colorado

Answer: Dear Confused: Think “complete” when thinking “complement,” which means “to go with or complete” (when used as a verb) or “something that completes” (when used as a noun). As a trick, just think of the “e”–there are two in complete and two in complement. Think of flattery when thinking of “compliment” as in “I love receiving compliments.”

Examples:

1. “I love it when George compliments me on my fashion sense and sassiness.”

2. “I think a George Clooney Love Nest would complement my lifestyle quite nicely.”

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Yes, You Have Competitors (Even if You Think You Don’t)

Dear Copy Bitch: I have a copywriter working on my website copy, and she recently asked me who my competitors are. Here’s the thing: I know it’s a standard question, but we really don’t have competitors. No one does the work as well as we do. We really are different. How do I explain this to the copywriter? Her copy should be focusing on what makes us so great, right?

—Awesome Company, Boston

Answer: Sure, from your perspective your nearest competitor is so far behind you that there’s no way anyone would possibly opt for said competitor over you, right? That’s a fine and dandy attitude to have if you’re, say, eight and still thinking the world revolves around you. But how ’bout putting on your big boy or big girl pants and looking at it from your prospects’ perspectives?

Your prospects don’t know you’re the be-all end-all in your industry, and they certainly won’t “get” it just because you tell them so on your website. Your copywriter is smart for asking about your competitors. Why? Because it’s important to look at how your competitors are positioning themselves, their services, and their products so that you can figure out what they’re doing right (because they will be doing something, I guarantee it), what they’re doing wrong (ditto), and how you’re really going to demonstrate your company’s unique qualities (i.e. your unique selling proposition).

Remember, your website (and any other marketing vehicles) should be about your customers and prospects first. Acknowledge their needs, worries, fears, and pain and then demonstrate how your company fulfills those needs, relieves their fears and worries, and eliminates their pain.

There’s an adage in creative writing: show, don’t tell. The same is true here. Telling me you’re the greatest and that any “so-called” competitor is a lying heap of horse manure won’t be as effective as showing me how well you take care of your current customers and what makes you different from the competition.

Pretending the competition doesn’t exist or isn’t good enough or is too far behind you to catch up is dumb-ass marketing. Don’t do it.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

4 Strategies for Proofreading Online

Dear Copy Bitch: My eyes hurt! I stare at my computer all day and make mistakes left and right–stupid mistakes, too. Do you have any tips for proofreading on a computer monitor?

–Grumpy Proofreader

Answer: Yes, Grumpy, never fear! The Copy Bitch feels your pain and has strategies for proofreading online:

1. Increase/decrease the zoom level on your monitor. When you’ve been staring at a document for hours on end, this one little change is enough to give your precious eyeballs (and brain) a fresh perspective on the words staring back at you. When I’m in Word on my PC, the zoom toggle is in the lower right-hand corner.

2. Highlight the text in yellow. This works especially well for shorter pieces. In Word, the highlight option is usually in the same area as the font face and size options.

3. Read backwards. Start with the last sentence of your document and work your way to the beginning (note: don’t read the sentences themselves backwards). Reading things out of context is a great way to catch mistakes.

4. Do a “find” on your crutch words and problem areas. Do you write “your” when you really mean “you’re”? Do a “find” on “your” and double-check yourself. Do you tend to use fillers like “just,” “very,” “really” or “George Clooney is a god”? Do a search on those words/phrases. Do you type too fast and always use “manger” instead of “manager”? Ditto.

Would love to hear about some other strategies. Leave yours in the comments thread.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Smart Advertising: “Grab Your Bag. It’s On.”

Dear Copy Bitch: What do you think of Southwest Airlines’ new tagline and advertising campaign?

—Marketing Student, Boston

Answer: Changing your well-known and effective tagline can be a risky maneuver. But, oh, when it works…

I’ve always loved Southwest Airlines’ tagline, “You’re Now Free to Move About the Country.” It was clever (the little cockpit “ding” that precedes the tag, which is spoken in the tone of a pilot, really made it pop), memorable (I never had trouble identifying who the advertiser was whenever I heard the tag), and, no doubt, effective.

But this past June, Southwest Airlines changed its tag to “Grab Your Bag. It’s On.” Here’s why I think it’s effective (I’d love to hear what you think):

  1. First off, Southwest takes advantage of exploiting a trend among other airlines: the charging of bags, sometimes at $20 a pop. Just goes to show that choosing to do the opposite of what your competitors are doing can set you apart–in a good way.
  2. The tagline has a double meaning, so it’s working doubly hard. Not only does the tag remind you that Southwest won’t charge you for your bags, it also makes the (albeit subtle) claim that your bags will reach their correct destination (whether it can back up this claim is another story…but just making the claim alone is memorable). The folks at Southwest discuss their new ad campaign in a blog post from June (they say that the phrase “It’s On” is all about attitude. I can dig that, too. Think of the popular “Just do it.” Pithy phrases work really well and easily become part of the present-day lexicon.)
  3. But what really makes Southwest’s advertising so effective is that it’s thinking of–I mean, really considering–its audience first. One of the biggest pet peeves travelers have faced in the last two years (after long lines, of course) is the fact they’re being charged for their baggage. Southwest responded to its audience’s pain by opting not to charge…and by highlighting its audience-centric ways first and foremost in its advertising.

What do you think?

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Marketing Resources for Facebook Fan Pages & Blog Submissions

Dear Copy Bitch: Do you have any resources on how to create a Facebook fan page and how to promote my new blog?

—Suffering from Social Media Angst in Annapolis

Answer: Sure do, Social Media Angst (okay, I’m starting to feel like “Dear Abby”). Check out Jennifer Laycock’s article called “The Super Simple Guide to Setting Up Your First Company Facebook Page Without Blowing a Gasket – Part One.” And check out The Social Media Marketing Guru’s “48 Top Places to Submit Your Blog.” Good luck!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Copy & Marketing Tips: Three Tools You Can Use

Dear Copy Bitch: I really love all the tidbits of advice you’ve been giving on your blog. Here’s a “weird” question: name three “tools” you use in your business that the rest of us could use in ours.

–Sam, Framingham

Answer: Here are two tools I use a lot and one I recently discovered and am looking forward to using for the first time:

1. Color Cop: I learned about Color Cop from Constant Contact’s Zak Barron. I sometimes design newsletter templates for my email marketing clients, and this free, downloadable tool makes getting a color’s hex values (also known as RGB) an absolute breeze.

2. Visual Thesaurus: If you’re a visual person, then Visual Thesaurus is for you. What a great way to discover the perfect word for marketing copy, taglines, you name it.

3. Ask500People: Wouldn’t it be great if you could “test” your new logo or tagline on real people and get feedback? Now you can, and quite economically with Ask500People.

What are some of your favorite finds? Leave your answers in the comments section.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine