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Interested in marketing, writing, and business?

I post ideas from crazy to great, share the best stories that I find on the net, and work hard to provide great content to my readers. From the practical business uses of social media to information on direct mail, I’ve probably written a post on it.

Get involved! Leave a comment and challenge my thinking, or share your tips for success.

This is going to be fun.

Lessons Learned in Marketing: The Phoenix Group Podcast

Posted by on Feb 23, 2017 in Audio, Ryan's Thoughts | 0 comments

Lessons Learned in Marketing: The Phoenix Group Podcast

Recently, I was contacted by David Bellerive from the Phoenix Group, a large advertising agency that services some of the most notable brands in Saskatchewan and beyond. They had started a new podcast and wanted to have me on as a guest to talk about the Saskatchewan Science Centre and the work that I do there, along with my small but amazing team.

I was honoured to even be considered for the podcast. Some of the previous guests include Kip Simon of 22 Fresh, Great Western Brewing, and Mike Tennant, one of the people behind The Age of Persuasion, a long running CBC Radio show about advertising.

I really enjoyed the conversation I had with David before, during, and after the podcast, and I hope that you can find a few minutes to listen to it! We talk about some of the things I think are the most successful in marketing right now, and I even share one of my fails from last summer’s campaigns.

Really, you should subscribe to the podcast and listen to all of them (I believe they are published every two weeks), but to get you started, here’s the episode that I was a guest on.

Enjoy!

http://thephoenixgroup.ca/podcasts/llm-episode-13—ryan-holota-sask-science-centre

 

 

Where To Be In Social Media for 2017

Posted by on Dec 30, 2016 in Ryan's Thoughts | 0 comments

Where To Be In Social Media for 2017

If you were starting a new business on January 1, 2017 – which social channels should you invest in? 

I specify a new business because if you read this blog, then you probably already have some existing social media channels that you use. If they are still working for you – keep it up! But if you’re looking to start fresh, look no further than these 4 sites:

Facebook

There’s no question here, Facebook is the leader in the space. I’m a little hesitant to even call Facebook social media anymore, because Facebook has become a full-fledged publisher and ad platform in it’s own right. Any social benefits that you happen to get from using it are just gravy. That’s an important distinction, because you’re unlikely to start fresh with Facebook and organically grow to thousands of likes, unless you have some amazingly unique content. The good news though, is that Facebook ads are likely still the cheapest and best way to reach a new audience, no matter where in the world it is. TIP: Even $20 can make a huge impact. Save your money and start small.

Instagram

Owned by Facebook, but different! Instagram today is what Twitter was in 2012 – growing fast, exciting, and actively used by millions of people. You have to be here or you are missing out on the most engaged truly social platform on the planet today. TIP: Don’t stick to photos – video will transform your account.

Snapchat

Get your account and reserve your name. How often should you be posting here? That’s up to you and your business. You can do almost anything with Snapchat, but I love it as a complement to other social media channels – an avenue where you can share behind the scenes content and special bonuses for your biggest fans. TIP: Even if you don’t think you’d ever snap, get your account just so that you can create geofilters. Create a cool overlay for your business and upload it to Snap with a geofence around your business location and run it during a few busy days. You’ll get some interesting background analytics on how many times the geofilter was seen and used – you just might find out that Snapchat is a favorite of your customers! (Hint: It probably is.)

YouTube

If you’ve mastered the 3 platforms above, get on YouTube. The one thing that all of the above platforms have in common is VIDEO. If you aren’t doing video in 2017 then you aren’t in social media. In all honesty, Facebook is going to be a much faster and easier video platform for you to use, but I still strongly believe in YouTube, especially for lasting content and branding purposes. YouTube faces threats, but the ways that I see it being used, not just by entrepreneurs but by KIDS absolutely blows my mind. This is a long-term play, just ignore the trolls. TIP: Regular content rules if you want to build a subscriber base. BONUS TIP: You have to watch the first 5 seconds of any ad – say what you need to say in that time, while hooking people to watch the rest. It’s not easy, but it is worth it.

Agree? Disagree? Did I miss your favorite platform? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Remarkable Customer Service

Posted by on Nov 22, 2016 in Ryan's Thoughts | 0 comments

Remarkable Customer Service

Over the past couple of years something I have been working very hard at – in addition to continuing to work on my marketing game – has been to develop and implement a new/improved customer service strategy. In some ways, this should be a very simple task – just tell every employee to treat every customer like they are the most important people in the world. In much the same way, dieting is simple – limit the amount of food you eat and get more exercise. In reality, both tasks are full of land mines and set backs, moments of great success, and moments of utter failure.  You lose 10lbs, and then you lose control at a buffet.

One of the biggest challenges in Customer Service is that you are dealing with people on both sides of the transaction. And people don’t get enough sleep, don’t drink enough coffee in the morning, have fights with their spouses, have pets who get sick, feel that they are pursuing the wrong path in their lives, feel lost, feel hungry, and just generally have bad days. No matter how bad your employee’s day was, you still expect them to treat your customers with respect, to do the jobs they’ve been asked to do (no matter how many times they’ve done them before) and to view what they do as incredibly important, even though sometimes their job just means asking hundreds of people the same question each and every day.

Earlier this summer I went to McDonald’s for breakfast. Now, this isn’t usually a difficult thing to get me to do (Sausage and Egg McMuffin and a large coffee with one sugar, please), but this time I went with a purpose. I was looking for Edgar on the other side of the microphone. Who Edgar was, I didn’t know, but I had heard a morning radio show talking about this guy who spoke with each and every customer like they were the centre of the universe, and I had to hear him for myself. I didn’t get Edgar the first day, or the second day (you can see why dieting is such a problem for me), but on the third day, I was greeted with the most enthusiastic voice I had ever heard.

When I got to the window to pay, I told him that I had heard him on the radio, and he dropped the act for a moment to chuckle and tell me that they were going to have him on the show again in a couple of days. As he accepted the debit terminal back, he turned his alter ego back on and wished me a great day.

I’m pretty sure that it was Seth Godin who defined ‘remarkable’ as ‘something worth remarking on.’ I generally expect service at McDonald’s that rates about a 5 or 6 on a 10 point scale. I double check my coffee order every time, because if I don’t I inevitably get cream AND sugar in my coffee. This happens often enough that I’m not even mad anymore – I just make sure to check before I drive away. When they get my order right (which is most of the time), I don’t say anything. This is how it is supposed to be. And yet, when Edgar hits the microphone, radio DJ’s make a recording of it, play it on the radio, and invite the guy into the station for a cameo. Edgar is remarkable.

This begs the question, “What’s more important? Creating Edgar, or getting the coffee right?” And of course, the answer is getting the coffee right. Because as much as I love my McMuffin, I also regularly bring a Thermos of my own coffee to work, stop at Robin’s Donuts for a cup, or if I’m early enough, swing by Starbucks for a morning latte. Edgar created enough interest to get me to come and experience him once, but if the rest of the crew doesn’t get my order right on a consistent basis, I won’t come back.

By definition, remarkable means something out of the ordinary. If everyone was an Edgar, nobody would stand out. People would quickly become bored, or even annoyed, with the over-the-top voice on the other side of the order window. This follows the Hedonic Treadmill Theory which states that people get used to whatever standard they are currently enjoying and learn to expect it as a new normal.

Truly remarkable customer service isn’t Edgar. Truly remarkable customer service is the person on the front line who delivers a smile with each order, wishes everyone a good day when they leave, and who does what is necessary to make a customer happy. Truly remarkable customer service is consistent quality, something that most businesses fail at regularly. It means having the right staff in the right locations, having enough staff to deal with all of your customers, and making sure that everyone knows what to do. Remarkable customer service doesn’t always mean the customer is always right, it means having customer service policies that make sense, making sure the employee knows WHY the policy exists, and then giving them the power to break the rules when needed.

Customer Service and Marketing go hand-in-hand. Your goal in marketing is to earn a chance to prove how great your customer service is. Fail at the marketing, and the customer service goes unseen. Fail at customer service, and your marketing efforts were all for naught. But if you can blend the two together – to create marketing that drives people to your door and a customer service program that makes them come back – that’s when you win. Finding an Edgar can help you get there, but don’t spend all of your time searching for him. Get the rest of the combination right, and Edgar just might come looking for you.