change the conversation

Five Ways to Change the Conversation at the Thanksgiving Table

By Communications

Thanksgiving, a time for turkey, pie and family gatherings. If you’re sharing a table with family today there’s sure to be some awkward conversations. We’re all SUPPOSED to know to avoid the topics of religion and politics but if you find yourself in some sticky discussions, here are some starters to get you gracefully out of what could become a tense turkey day moment.

  1. Is there bourbon in this pie?
  2. Who likes bacon?
  3. Are there any good sales tomorrow?
  4. I’m thankful that Ashton Kutcher’s going to be back on the market. What divorcing celebrity are you thankful for?
  5. How’s (the relative who isn’t present) doing, anyway?

Good luck, and happy Thanksgiving!

J.C. Penney Defines their Brand and How it’s Different from Kohl’s

By Communications

I caught the end of a J.C. Penney TV commercial this morning and a line stood out  . . .

Unlike other stores, J.C. Penney doesn’t make you return to save.

For regular shoppers, you know this is a direct hit on Kohl’s and Penney’s nailed it.  Kohl’s offers a program of “Kohl’s Cash” getting consumers to return to the store to spend dollars earned within a short time after their visit. Penney’s asserts in their advertising that they’re offering shoppers the savings up front, instead. Pretty savvy advertising.

It also struck me that the line is what I consider a critical element of a brand position — defining how your brand is different. It’s astounding to me how difficult this is for some brands to define. Take some time today and think about your organization and start with “Unlike other,” and see where the definition takes you. How can your company change the conversation about what you offer to your community through a strong brand statement? I’d love to see your results in the comments.

Six Ways to Change the Conversation Using Social Media

By Social Media

As part of the social media presentation I gave to a nonprofit organization recently, I said: “prepare for the negative.”

It’s a good line; it gets attention and more importantly it encourages thought and preparation before engaging in social media. Whether you’re a small company, a large for-profit entity, a nonprofit or an individual practitioner you need to prepare for the negative and decide what you’re going to do about it when it happens.

Where there’s something to criticize, there will be a critic. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to have critics; valid feedback and constructive criticism can help you make your service and your business better. As an example, see how Domino’s Pizza has used customer feedback in a constructive way to improve their business.

“You can either use negative comments to get you down or you can use them to excite you and energize your process.” — Patrick Doyle, President, Domino’s Pizza.

Here are six ways you can take back lost business by changing the conversation:

1. Listen and respond. Learn what’s being said about your business by using social media monitoring tools, customer surveys, secret shops and focus groups. Find out what the negative is so you can develop a plan to address it.

2. Allow visibility. It’s a huge leap from where we were as a culture in using public relations and the dreaded “spin” to allowing the public to see your downfalls, your weaknesses and mistakes. It is critical to the current culture of customer service that you allow comments on your blog, that you allow customers to interact with you in the places they are online (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)

3. Reward feedback by thanking those who provide it and include them in the conversation of how you can make your service or your products better.

4. Respond to everything – let the public know you’re listening — we often find that people are more polite when they know you’re in the room.

5. Be accessible. Make sure you’re actually available on the social networks you’ve set up — if you have a Twitter account, you must be managing it.  Provide your phone number and answer the phone! Provide an e-mail address or a contact form and make sure you’re following up.

6. Share the story of how you took a negative conversation and turned it around. Did you get a bad score on a customer service survey? What did you do to improve? Share the differences with your audiences and they will respect you for making the honest effort.