Thursday, October 21, 2010

Can You Be Too Anti-Social For Social Media?

I put a cartoon in my social media book with the caption, “Burt is too anti-social for social media.” It turns out there are a few Burts in this world.

One of my co-workers showed me a marketing writer’s screen on Facebook. I recognized her name. She writes a lot and her work appears in a number of blogs. She’s always seemed to have a good grasp of the marketing function. That’s what made the status update curious.
This marketing guru essentially told everyone to sod off. She was far too important to be just anyone’s Facebook friend. Only a select few would be so honored. Everyone else should quit sending her friend requests because she’s going to reject them out of hand. She’s simply too busy for this tripe.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Buzz About QR Codes

Reprinted from Southern PHC Magazine...

Haven’t heard about QR codes?  You will.  QR (quick read) codes are similar to bar codes, but easily readable by mobile phones.  They also contain significantly more information than bar codes.

I can hear the yawns now.   You’re thinking, “So what?  Who cares?  How does this help me?”

It’s true that QR codes are not a magic pill that will rectify your call shortage.  However, they do offer a way to leverage and extend your marketing in new ways.

QR codes allow you to pack a lot of information into a small space that can be instantly read by a mobile device.  QR apps are available today for Androids, iPhones, Blackberries, and other smart phones.  They will basically work with any mobile device equipped with a camera, which accounts for roughly 70% of all phones sold.

Where would it be beneficial to pack extra information in a limited space?  How about a business card?  By printing a QR code on the front or back of a business card, you can deliver more information than the card’s footprint allows.  What would you add to the business card?  Here are a few ideas…

·         Make a special offer
·         Tell your company story
·         List all of the products and services
·         Share customer testimonials
·         Link to positive articles written about your company
·         Link to an article about selecting a good contractor
·         Link to your Facebook fan page

The ability to use a QR code to link to a web address offers the potential to promote a daily special.  If you still have a yellow pages ad, put a QR code for the daily special.  When call volume is light, you can make the daily special more lucrative.  When call volume is heavy, reduce the offer or change it for major purchases.  Adjust the offer based the weather or local events.  Get creative.

If you don’t want to change a webpage, make the QR code a text message.  You reply with a text containing the daily special.

The daily special can work with any permanent or semi-permanent advertising.  This includes yellow pages, billboards and other outdoor advertising.  Put one on the back of your truck for people stuck behind you at a traffic light.

QR codes offer a lot of potential for home shows.  Hire someone to stand in front of the entrance wearing a sandwich board with a QR code.  The message could invite them to your booth for a special offer or gift.  It could direct them to an online map of the show, with your booth highlighted.  You could ask a question, such as the following:

·         Does anyone in your house suffer from allergies or asthma?  If so, come see us at Booth 555.
·         Do you run out of hot water?  If so, we can solve the problem.  Come see us at Booth 555.
·         Are any rooms in your house too hot or cold when other rooms are comfortable?  Don’t put up with it!  Come see us at Booth 555 for a solution.
·         Are there seniors or infants in your home?  Are they at risk of scalding?  We have the safe solution at Booth 555.

Because QR codes are easy for mobile devices to read, they can become an easy way to get your phone number into a prospect’s phone.  Print the QR code for your phone number, above or below the number.  The code serves as a form of speed dialing.

To increase your local search rankings, include a QR code on your invoice with a link to your Google Places page.  In the copy besides the QR code, ask people to go to the site and write a review.

Dozens of free QR code generators have sprung up on the Internet.  Simply enter the desired information and the QR code is created.  Free QR code apps are also readily available for Androids, Blackberries, iPhones, and other smart phones.

QR code usage is growing, but still at the novelty stage for most people.  This can work to the advantage of the contractors who are early adopters.  Put a QR code on your trucks or a billboard and see what happens.  People who recognize it are likely to scan it because it is still a novelty. 

If you would rather sit back and wait, keep an eye out.  If you start seeing QR codes in the newspaper and in your community, it’s time to reconsider.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Embarrassed by the Brand

Yoga by Anna Cervova

Recently, Albert Mohler, the president of a Baptist seminary declared yoga to be inconsistent with Christianity. According to an article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram the guy wrote that Christian yoga practitioners "must either deny the reality of what yoga represents or fail to see the contradictions between their Christian commitments and their embrace of yoga."

Maybe I'm not with it. I thought yoga was mostly people stretching themselves into contortions and trying to meditate away the pain of their awkward positions. I didn't think it had any more to do with religion than sitting by a serene lake and possibly thinking about God. Shows what I know.

Apparently, it's also a surprise to a lot of people who practice something called "Christ Yoga" and millions more who simply like to stretch and contort their bodies. But it's probably most surprising to the Baptist pastors who are trying to attract new members and converts. Scratch the idea of winning over the yoga crowd, which is larger than the entire membership of the Southern Baptist Convention.

I'm sure many agree with Mohler. Others may not. The point is that all of them are now painted with the same broad, brand brush. Actions like this may explain why two of the nation's three largest local Southern Baptist churches downplay the denominational brand. The pastors of these churches understand that local church brands are built on local relationships. While the big, denominational brand may (i.e., may) help legitimize the local church, it also can hurt the local church when someone like Mohler spouts off. In addition, promotion of the denominational brand promotes other local churches operating under the same brand name.

From Church to Air

Locally, I've been listening to a local air conditioning contractor attack another on the radio. He attacks the owner's accent and the business practices. I don't know much about either company's business practices, though the guy being attacked is a member of the Service Roundtable, which means I'm inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt.

These are not comparative ads where one advertiser compares his features with the competition's. The ads are more like a political attack ad. They come across as mean. I don't know whether they're effective or not, but I suspect many people find them distasteful.

So no harm, no foul to anyone else right? Well, the guy doing the attacking uses manufacturer co-op and hypes the manufacturer brand in all advertising. Thus, it's as though every contractor associated with the manufacturer's brand is participating in the ad campaign. They're painted with the same broad brand brush.

The solution for contractors is the same used by the leading local churches. Don't play up the big national, denominational brand. Instead, emphasize your local brand and your local brand relationships. It's the only way to avoid being embarrassed by the brand.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

It's Time for a New Business Card

Source:  orderedlist from the Kineda blog

The Service Roundtable's business card is starting to look a little stale.  Plus, our graphics designer cringes every time she looks at it.  I'm tired of the grimaces.  If ours is out of date, I'll bet yours could use an upgrade as well.  And poor business cards cost sales.

According to a press release from Fidelity Print...

Two thirds of people won't buy from companies with bad business cards.
A new survey has revealed that buying cheap business cards is a false economy - because they actually put off potential customers.
Self-printed business cards or flimsy ones from low cost, low quality online design companies would discourage two thirds of potential buyers, according to the survey by

Fortunately, good business cards can help drive sales.  Sarah, our graphics designer, pointed out the Vector Tuts blog to illustrate some great die-cut designs.

As the guy who signs checks, my immediate knee jerk reaction when I see these cards is to grab onto my wallet.  How much do they cost, I ask myself.

It's the wrong question.  I should ask how much they can help.

Before I turned Sarah loose to come up with new designs, I stressed that I wanted a QR code on the back of the card.  The QR code is a type of bar code, readable by smart phones like the iPhone, Android, and Blackberry (you might have to download an app).

The QR codes we will use will take the user to a webpage about the Service Roundtable that will promote upcoming events, contain special offers, and other interesting information.  We can change the webpage contents whenever we want while the URL remains constant.

As we were discussing different business card designs, some seemed better for our members, some for prospects, and others for vendors and investors.  Sarah asked the obvious question.  Shouldn't we just create more than one card?  Of course!  Targeting our business cards increases their effectiveness.  And even the most expensive business card is still cheap. Why not carry more than one?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Is There a Hole In The Ozone Protocol?

The Montreal Protocol has dealt a death blow to R22 equipment, right? Maybe not.

“I just committed to purchasing the Nitrogen Charged R22 compatible condensing units,” proclaimed a contractor on the Service Roundtable.

Read More at Contracting Business