Tag Archives: customer service

Top Tips for Small Businesses – From Radio Interview with Leanne Hogland-Smith

Leanne Hogland-Smith – Chicago 219-759-5601, entrepreneur small business for 15 years, uniting people and their talents with operations through management, increase-sales-coach.com

Consistent challenge in businesses today is a lack of processes and procedures. A lot of this comes about because there is no strategic plan, there are no goals written so what happens is that everyone is hitting different targets and the individual and business goals are missed.

A lot of communication is just refocusing the way they state things, getting rid of the words like need and should and start using “may I suggest this”. When you get rid of the emotionally judgmental words, it’s amazing at the reactions you get.

An employer now, if they have not hired smart, they end up with maybe one good employee for every four employees. Employers need to have consistent performance reviews. Employees then feel like they are part of the company’s success.

Top Tips for Small Businesses

  • Communication is consistent and everyone knows where the organization is going and what their goals are. Is everyone sharing the same goals? It is critical to have your goals communicated consistently throughout your company.
  • Values – What are your non-negotiable behaviors that you will demonstrate with your employees, vendors, strategic partners?
  • Find out what your real brand is – Talk to your customers, not a marketing company. The expectactions held by customers, it is a really definitive way to identify your brand. Ask them, “When you hear my name what expectations come to mind?” You will get a really good idea of your brand, but you also gain a competitive edge. When you have down-time, that is up-time to talk to your customers.
  • Marketing is about attracting attention and build relationships – Write copy and test it out. See if it gets some sort of emotional attention for your business.

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When your marketing funds are limited what do you do?

Listen to A Different Perspective From Voices of Experience
By Leslie Wolff

Show Love & Respect

“Every person is a jewel, worthy of love and respect.” – Anonymous

A proud part of my career was when I was the business and personal manager of one of the world’s most famous athletes – Smokin Joe Frazier, the former World Heavyweight Boxing Champion in his later years. I was constantly amazed at the love and respect he received from his fans and it didn’t take long for me to understand why … because, he showed his love and respect for them. How many companies do you know show love and respect to their customers, employees, vendors, hell even their competition. It costs nothing to do so and the rewards are constant and significant. What should you do, the opportunities are limitless. One way is expressed ‘Thank You” whenever the opportunity arises. In a world of a never ending flow of e-mails, a simple hand written note will raise you high above your competition. Treat your employees well and they will treat your customers well. Let vendors know you recognize their efforts on your behalf and they will redouble or multiply the way in which they will seek to help you grow your business. Even competitors will have good things to say about you when you treat them with respect as well. Going back to the impact of e-mail where in the past a good or bad experience led to it be “told” to perhaps 10 other people, in today’s high tech communication channels it could be told to thousands, thus you want that ‘tale” to express how well you treat those with whom you interact.

Don’t be afraid of Change

“The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress.” – Charles Kettering

The fear of change is a natural human response to something that seems new and opening your mind to be more accepting to change or the consideration of it releases you from the binds of conformity allowing you to examine and explore possibilities that exist around you. Some of these may offer the opportunity to maximize your potential revenue while minimizing expense. Look at the various facets of your business from new business development, advertising, promotion customer service with a fresh perspective and encourage customers, employees and even vendors to contribute ideas that can enhance your operation and in doing so impact positively your bottom line.

Big Ideas Start Small

”Small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises” — Demosthenes

Just because you have limited funds does not mean you can’t take carefully controlled actions to improve results. If you believe you have identified a need that has gone unrecognized or is underserved look at how you can develop it in a way where you give it all you can. Think big, but remember everything starts out small. Never prejudge an idea because at first it looks too small, unimportant or unrealistic nor if your initial view is its too big. Look how you can break it down
into reasonable modules, set priorities and take each segment on in a way it will make the other segments easier to handle as you accomplish each step.

Motivate to Stimulate

“Recognition is the greatest motivator.” – Gerard C. Eakedale

Surprisingly, although material rewards are appreciated they are not as effective in motivating people and stimulating them to perform to more of there potential than praise and recognition. Praise of one’s contributions to the success of the business is the most desired reward of all. Publicizing that praise to the right audiences makes it even more valued to
the recipient. Something a simple as a press release to a local paper, a framed ‘Certificate of Appreciation” or a simple letter to be shared with family and friends recognizing one’s contributions carries with a major positive impact not only on that person but those with whom they interact.

Originate Don’t Imitate

“It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.” – Herman Melville

There is a tendency in all businesses to mimic each other and that can be a benefit for a smart marketer. Take a close look at what your competition is doing where there is a tendency to replicate, duplicate or imitate. In identify those traits you will almost always find overlooked and untapped opportunities that will enable you to outsmart rather then outspend the competition. It may be a single large opportunity or a series of small things like we discussed above where the cumulative effect of the actions you take can significantly impact the results you gain.

“The successful person has the habit of doing the things failures don’t like to do.” ~ Thomas Edison

Leslie R. Wolff is an experienced and outspoken Marketing professional; with more than a half century in the marketing arena His mission in his business, speeches and writings is to reestablish a lost factor in business … commonsense! It is the foundation on which Smart Thinking is built. Les is CEO of The Smart Marketing Group, who simply help clients work smarter. He can be reached at 215-334-3432, marketingsmartly@aol.com, Skype: Smart Marketing or http://www.smartmarketingroup.com. Listen to his radio show, “Smart Marketing for Small Business” and participate in his LinkedIn Group of the same name.

His E-Book” Smart Thinking- Vol.-I” is available @ www.smashwords.com/books/view/34172

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How to Improve Customer Service – Radio Show 7/5/2012

Listen to
internet radio with Smart Marketing for Small Business on Blog Talk Radio

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5 Steps On How To Outthink Your Competition

©  2012 Leslie R. Wolff

Are you a

Mimic…Mimic…Mimic…Mimic Marketer?

Do you  imitate, duplicate,  replicate rather then Originate?

Recently I placed this question on a corporate planning group on LinkedIn.com – “Why is it so many executives can’t think “outside the box?” The responses were many and fascinating as were the stated reasons, but the general sense still was … they don’t.


Why do you think it is so many marketers can’t differentiate themselves from their competition? Is it because they… Continue reading


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Everyone Collects Something, Some Like Matchboxes – Smart Marketing Move

This week’s Smart Marketing Move goes to A Little Taste of Cuba.

It’s a smoke shop, mainly featuring fine cigars plus other tobacco products. Normally, I wouldn’t go to one, but a friend needed just a pack of cigarettes, so we went in.

I wasn’t expecting anything fantastic out of a smoke shop, because it’s a smoke shop. But this one lived up to its name because they created an experience when you walk in, through Cuban art, music and furnishings that transported you from New Hope, PA to some nook in Cuba. Although that’s not the reason why they’re getting a smart move.

We were in this store just for a moment while my friend bought what he needed. With his purchase, even though it was under $10, they gave him a pack of matches. But it wasn’t just “Here’s a pack of matches”, it was wooden matches in a box that had A Little Taste of Cuba’s logo on it and on the back were their two locations.

With all of the options of where to get a pack of cigarettes, they’re doing it right. You can’t expect a customer to walk in the first time and want to come back immediately, or even remember where they were. Since New Hope is a weekend destination spot, it’s smart that they are reminding customers with a nice box of matches. I know that I like to keep matchboxes as reminders of place I’ve been, and this is just another way that the shop did a great job of staying relevant.

So far, my friend still has these matches, and what does that mean? Every time he looks at them, he is reminded of when he stopped in and the next time he is in town, he’ll remember that there’s a smoke shop that he can stop at rather than a convenience store.

Lesson Learned: There are subtle ways to be in your customer’s face like a box of matches with a purchase or even something as simple as a business card in their bag. The hardest thing is to find new customers, so if someone makes a purchase or uses a service you offer, make sure they remember you and come back for more!

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Coupons Combined With Considerate Customer Services Adds Customers – Smart Marketing Move

This week’s Smart Marketing Move goes to Wild Garden Accents!

A friend and I were driving past a garden center; it looked more like decorations and we weren’t in a rush, so we stopped. This place was packed with goodies to make a garden unique to you. Wild Garden Accents had many employees that greeted us and asked if we needed help. The customer service was spot on, but that’s not the main reason they are getting this Smart Marketing Move.


We made our way around the entire store, the display outside is where we found something we were considering. We came inside and were approached by yet another employee. She asked if we received the 20% off coupon. We hadn’t; so she gave us one to use only for that day. That sealed the deal. We got the item, which wasn’t a high ticket purchase, but we might not have bought it otherwise.


Lesson Learned: This was very smart of the employee, I’m sure she saw us taking our time looking around. Maybe we had a specific person in mind for a gift, or something for ourselves. Either way, we might not have made a purchase without that the extra nudge. This sale was already happening, so why not make sure that all of your customers receive a little perk?

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Personalized Attention Makes for Happy Consumers – Smart Marketing Move

This week’s Smart Marketing Move goes to PetSmart.

PetSmart is huge and overwhelming if you’re looking for one specific item, as I was this one day. I was looking for a urinary tract infection paste product for my cat. I have never bought it before so I must have been looking really confused in the maintenance section.

There were two employees on the next aisle over that could see me. The one that was stocking the shelves closest to me simply asked, “Do you need any help?” This was one of the few times that I actually did when someone asked me.

She came over and helped me find what I needed with my vague description and then she said, “Hang on a second, I think we have something over here too.” They were changing out brands they were using for all of the over-the-counter medication and she brought over the same exact thing for $3 instead of $9.

I was shocked. First off, this is a big chain and I don’t expect good customer service. Second, she went way above and beyond, saving me $6. It adds up! I wish I got her name, she deserves praise because I’m sure that I’m not the only person that she helps that much.

Lesson Learned: Going above and beyond is not just a personality trait, it can be taught. A little bit of kindness can go a long way and bring customers back to your store. Make sure you say hello to customers, treat everyone the same, and if someone is looking confused like I was they definitely need help…so help them. You’ll have a happy customer and they’ll tell others. Word of Mouth Marketing – use it to your advantage.


“Outthink the Competition Rather Than Outspend Them”

Author: Leslie Wolff, CEO of Smart Marketing Group, speaks from experience as an entrepreneur, sales and marketing executive plus advisor and coach. Les has “walked the walk and talked the talk.” The knowledge that he imparts with passion has been learned in the toughest of schools, “Real Life!”, in the trenches, on top of the mountain and everywhere in between

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Changing Your Image Can Revive Old Loyalties – Smart Marketing Move

This week’s Smart Marketing Move goes to V8 Juice.

V8 has always been one of my family’s products, and in the past they have created some memorable ads and here they’ve done it again.

Their recent commercial caused me to laugh out loud for a number of reasons:

1.   Jackie Chan, a well-known actor because of his martial arts skills, was used for this commercial and they incorporated it in the commercial in a funny and in your face way.

2.  It had very little dialogue, but used an action oriented approach to make a strong point.

3.  It had a clear and concise message that the juices and smoothies people were drinking did not compare to the health benefits of V8.

The commercial is short and utilizes a relatively familiar environment — someone eating breakfast or walking down the street to make the V8 pop and stand out, because of the brightness of the V8 bottles and with the use of martial arts movements.

This is a great way to grab the audience’s attention in a cluttered communications landscape as well as send two messages; a push for healthier living and a push for a better product.

Lesson Learned: When marketing a product one has to look at what’s being done by others and “think-outside-the-box” in order to not only stand out and be remembered. The promotion possibilities here are unlimited and hopefully they company took advantage of that scenario.

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Don’t Throw Your Customers Away During the Sale Season – Dumb Marketing Move

This week’s dumb marketing move goes to Macy’s.

Black Friday. It gives sales a whole new meaning. It’s the start of the sales season, free shipping, and great discounts with a mix of crowds, chaos, and long lines. Macy’s, one of my favorite shops around, was a disaster in the aftermath of Black Friday.

I went to go look at the shoes because Macy’s has some of the best shoe sales every season.  Once I got there, I was severely disappointed with what I saw; shoes were in no particular order, the employees were less than helpful and couldn’t keep organized as to who was helping who. The displays were a mess and there was a no clear distinguished section for line and people just standing around.

Because the shoes were in such disarray, it was hard to really tell what was priced what because they were moved from table to table and different prices were posted. Also it was impossible to use the coupons that Macy’s has been marketing because “the items were already sale” so it wasn’t permitted to use them.  Macy’s is normally such a nice, orderly, and friendly store, but with the rush of the holiday sales, it’s best to steer clear unless you have infinite patience and an understanding of people and the craziness that comes with holidays.

Lesson learned: If you’re going to offer sales that are hard to pass up, make sure that your customers are taken care of and make sure that you can offer them assistance. Also, when promoting seasonal sales, make sure you make it possible for your customers to utilize all their benefits, including coupons and discounts.


“Outthink the Competition Rather Than Outspend Them”

Author: Leslie Wolff, CEO of Smart Marketing Group, speaks from experience as an entrepreneur, sales and marketing executive plus advisor and coach. Les has “walked the walk and talked the talk.” The knowledge that he imparts with passion has been learned in the toughest of schools, “Real Life!”, in the trenches, on top of the mountain and everywhere in between.

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Communication Breakdowns Results in Disgruntled Consumers – Dumb Marketing Moves

This week’s Dumb Marketing Move goes to: University Crossings.

As a college student I wanted ease of access, so when I signed up for my apartment I had to opted for an automatic monthly payment. I figured that it would be easier than having to remember to go to the office every month and bring a check, but in the end it was not.

There were no problems up until May, when the automated service was changed, without any notification for the residents. I was sent a letter in mid-May stating that I was being evicted and had ten days to vacant the apartment. I was shocked, to say the least.

I called the office and told them that is was a mistake because I paid my rent. I was informed that they had not received my May rent therefore the eviction letter was sent. I checked my bank account and saw that, in fact, that was true. What I wasn’t told by the main office was that they changed their system and no longer took automated payments.

This frustrated and annoyed me because as a company that should be in communication with its leasers, did not email, call or in any other way inform the residents of the pending changes. It resulted in a lot of chaos that could have been easily avoided and the loss of many residents.

Lesson Learned: An ill-informed customer is not a happy customer. Make sure your company is user friendly. If you’re changing something major that affects your customers, have a plan to inform your customers. Make sure your employees are able to help your customers if they have questions and put it in writing. Send a letter to each customer, as well as a reminder email or letter.


“Outthink the Competition Rather Than Outspend Them”

Author: Leslie Wolff, CEO of Smart Marketing Group, speaks from experience as an entrepreneur, sales and marketing executive plus advisor and coach. Les has “walked the walk and talked the talk.” The knowledge that he imparts with passion has been learned in the toughest of schools, “Real Life!”, in the trenches, on top of the mountain and everywhere in between.

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