Why Truly Solid Marketing is About Customer Service - My Painter Story

Painters are at our house this weekend, doing the trim outside and a few rooms inside. My girlfriend is doing most of the direction, but I’ve asked the head guy (and owner of the company) to pay attention to a few details for me. I don’t get into interior design much, choosing between mauve and taupe, but I do have some input as far as the whole project goes.

I want them to make sure they clean up the “misses” on the outside, where some black trim paint has accidentally hit the white house paint. I need them to un-stick some of the windows and put all the screens back, as well.

They’re wrapping up the project today, and it’s starting to appear that the lead is ignoring some of my requests — namely the screens and window un-sticking. I love the work they’ve done, but now I’m obviously not so hot on their finishing skills. And this new feeling is coming at the end of the project, when the head guy should be going out with a celebration rather than with some gripes. He should lead me around, show me how great everything looks, show me the extra work he’s thrown in, and go down my list of requests one by one, demonstrating that he met my needs and respects my wishes.

If he performed these “finalizing” customer service/marketing steps, he’d have my 100% recommendation. I’d rave about him to friends, pass out his business cards and even write up a testimonial for him. I’d offer to help him out with his advertising materials, in fact. We’ll certainly have more painting jobs in the future, and I’d like to stay on good terms with him.

Every business needs to follow these same steps in order to build business and collect loyal customers. On the Web, you need to send customers follow-up emails that confirm what customers bought, what kind of deal you’re giving them (on shipping, bonuses, etc.), and how you appreciate their business and would welcome any questions they may have. You need to offer them targeted cross-sell and up-sell items as they bid and shop. And, you need to quickly address their concerns as they come up. All this attention and service ensures that your customers refer you to others, leave positive feedback, and return to do more business with you.

Don’t be like my painter. Pay attention to detail and your business will grow at a healthy pace.

Phil Dunn - Personal Value Bio

I hate to brag, but when I come across unqualified, inexperienced pitchmen out there in the marketing wild . . sometimes I feel like I must. 

A bulleted story of me below:

  • Bestselling marketing author (McGraw-Hill). Ask me about how this happened (pdunn [at] synapsehub.com). It's a pretty cool story.

  • A journalist that sold out! Ask me why and how, and we can go deep into the real weirdness behind this.

  • A technology buff (more than that - a tech student of 40 years). I’ve been in the game since the Apple II+ and Pong. But I followed through as a software developer, consultant, and as a copywriter for big enterprise software and hardware companies, including: Microsoft, HP, CA, Hyperion-Oracle, Hughes, Message Broadcast, SGI, NetApp, Deloitte . . .  and many small businesses in similar markets.

  • Son of a programmer (that’s how I got the Apple II+) and a graphic designer. I’ve got the tech chops plus the artist’s eye. Dad built occupancy sensor systems for controlling lighting and HVAC in commercial and office buildings. He also programmed energy monitoring systems in supermarkets and high-rise buildings (for Honeywell) . . and created the first CD-ROM encyclopedias of the 1980’s and 90’s - everything from butterfly reference books to Chinese herbal medicine guides that are the bedrock of today’s Ayurvedic and Eastern medicine trends. Mom crafted logos, letterhead and storyboards for advertising in the 1960’s through 1980’s. She worked for Young & Rubicam (Y&R), the ad agency that produced the first American color TV commercials in the 1960s. We’re all UC Berkeley grads. Sister went to UCSB and is a locally famous landscape architect.

  • A fine artist who paints impressionistic nature and people scenes in oil. I also sketch in pencil and take unique, smartphone-composed photos.

  • Design snob. I have a rare taste for layout, design, color and space that comes from 22 years of working in both online and offline marketing. . . and my family background/education.

  • Research maniac. I have a history B.A. from UC Berkeley and a journalism M.A. from USC (Trojans not Gamecocks). 

  • Video-interview crazed marketing fiend. My GrubTribe.com team started a 3-year odyssey into chef interviews and restaurant/food promotion.

This experience translates to value for you. Use our services and create epic marketing resources for your customers and fans!

7 Copy Tips For Better Business Writing . . Plus 3 Bonus Tips

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  1. Establish the audience right away and keep focused on them
  2. Forgo ‘style copy’ and use ‘selling copy’
  3. Break complex sentences into shorter, clearer sentences
  4. Arouse the curiosity of the reader (rather than satisfy it)
  5. Provide readers smooth transitions so they don’t look up and get distracted from the piece
  6. Write compelling benefits into heads and subheads
  7. Support ideas with vivid examples

And the bonus round:

  1. Use real facts and numbers (i.e. ’57 satisfied customers’ vs. ‘dozens of satisfied customers’)
  2. Go back and weed out excessive adjectives
  3. Provide a compelling call to action at the end of every piece (or prominently in an ad)

New post on LinkedIn: Is your creative career under attack?

I've been experimenting with posting content to LinkedIn, and I'm seeing some pretty good numbers there.

Here's the latest (with my lead abstracted below). 

Warning to Creatives PART I: Your Careers Are Under Attack

"If you’re a creative professional, you may have noticed a bothersome trend. In an effort to reduce expenses, clients are getting crafty with the ways they deconstruct projects, bid them out and re-assemble the final product. (This applies to lots of different creatives including, freelance copywriters, strategy folks, designers, social media marketers, SEO specialists, content developers and Web developers)."

Big Gun: Why the White Paper is Still Your Biggest Ammo

Boom. . 

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In the world of technology, white papers are so very important. Yes, I know, they can be a major slog to deal with — to produce, edit and read. . . and to get everybody to sign off on. However, they really are a valuable complement to traditional marketing.

White papers help companies introduce new business solutions and their underlying technologies. They bridge the gap between technical detail and the 40,000-foot level of generalized understanding and bottom line decision-making. Non-specialists can quickly learn the basics about subjects that cannot be easily explained in an elevator or on a data sheet. Specific issues and markets are often better addressed in white papers than in promotional materials, and companies that share their expertise without blatantly pitching products often engender more respect from prospects and industry analysts.

As an example, I recently wrote a white paper on XBRL (a financial reporting standard based on XML – eXtensible Markup Language) for Software AG. Consider the fact that XML has been both excessively hyped and incisively attacked by all kinds of highly qualified industry analysts. Our goal was to establish expertise, clear some of the smoke, explain some very technically challenging and abstract concepts, and outline some case studies about how XBRL is being used in a variety of financial industries. We were successful because we stuck to the facts, explained concepts in clear and simple English, and presented promotional information with complete candor. Actually, we kept the promotional information to a strict minimum.

Keep in mind that white papers are not academic studies that exist outside the realm of promotion. White papers are part of integrated marketing strategies that are designed to elicit buying action on the part of the reader. Think of the brochure or data sheet as the elevator pitch. All parties understand that they are promotional and biased. With complex technologies, brochures are designed to pique interest and offer proof of value. White papers establish expertise and competence while also serving to educate potential users on complex subjects.

How to Drive Sales with Post Card Marketing

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Bob Leduc has an nice article up on Home Biz Tools that explains why post card marketing is effective for all kinds of businesses.

I would just add a few points that will help you get your post cards read.

1) If the recipients know you by face, name, or company name, include that prominently on the card. People like to see people and know people and hear from people. Leverage that, especially if you’re sending cards to people who hear from you on a regular basis (as with email newsletters, regular business communications and so forth). Real estate agents know this.

2) Write a headline for the card that speaks to or is about the recipient (not about you or your company or your product). Grab their attention, but make the recipient the focus. For example, “How Often Do You See Limited Edition Widgets for Less than $100?” speaks to the recipient. And, “The Top 10 Causes of Dry Skin” makes the recipient’s problem or need the focus.

3) Put news in the title: “New Orthopedic Discoveries Solve Sleep Apnea Issues."

4) Make an offer in the headline. “Summer Sale Starts This Friday — Free Shipping for Valued Customers Like You.”

There are plenty of other strategies. We’ll cover more of these in future posts. Remember, you can mix these up, too, and create layered messages. That includes mixing the photo concept with the headline.