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Details + Service = Satisfaction May 4, 2014

Posted by Jack Macholl in Brand building, Brand personality, Communications, Customer Service, Marketing Planning, Uncategorized.
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There is much debate today about the value of social media tools like Twitter. Certainly there is no shortage of opinions being shared in real-time, 24-7, so smart organizations are monitoring their activity and protecting their brand image with vigor. The example below clipped from my e-mail is based on a Twitter post I placed online after having a few closets done in my new home.

The Container Store is one organization that clearly works hard at education for in-store employees and field installation experts (elfa System shelving). They are attentive to the details, phoning you to explain why a product is on back-order, sincerely displaying concern for any (albeit minor) inconvenience and circling back after a purchase to ensure customer satisfaction. Additional detail coverage includes little things, like installation people cleaning up, putting shoe covers on to protect your home’s interior, explaining what they are doing and offering helpful suggestions takes detail attentiveness to the value-add level. After four months of working with a general contractor who didn’t get this concept, I’d say The Container Store could make additional fee income teaching companies how attention to the details equates to client satisfaction and a long-term (profitable) relationships.

Jack Macholl @jackmacholl I love the follow-up service from the Container Store. There is a genuine concern for product delivery and satisfaction. – 01 May The Container Store @ContainerStore Follow Follow @jackmacholl That’s great to hear! Great service is #WhatWeStandFor 12:42 AM – 03 May 14 Reply to @ContainerStore Retweet Favorite

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A Good Problem to Have January 31, 2014

Posted by Jack Macholl in Brand building, Brand personality, Branding, Image, Marketing, Marketing Planning, Sales, Site visibility, Uncategorized.
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I once heard a business owner say that having too much business is a good problem to have. Lately, I have encountered several situations where it is very difficult to secure a quote for services (particularly in the building/renovation trades). Not returning phone messages and leaving requests for quotes unattended in an e-mail box presents a poor image for the company, creating an instant sense of doubt in the consumer’s mind.

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Leads to Customers

Today there are many  tactical articles written about ways to increase web site traffic, generate sales leads and make the phones ring. Perhaps a more urgent need would be helping business owners find proven response methods to convert estimate requests in-hand and also acquiring the human talent to meet existing market demand.

What lead conversion and staffing models work in your field?

The Power of Thank You January 27, 2014

Posted by Jack Macholl in Bank marketing, Brand personality, Branding, Communications, Customer Service, Image, Marketing, non-profit, Philanthropy, Referral marketing, Sales.
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Whether you are acknowledging a present, business referral or expressing gratitude to a donor at a non-profit, sending something to express your gratitude should be standard procedure.  In our hurried SMS text and e-mail world, the power of a handwritten thank-you note is astounding.

Part of my weekly routine includes sending written thank-you cards to people who have helped with a business (or personal) matter. Today getting “snail mail” is often as infrequent as a fax. Granted there is a cost and some inertia to overcome, but what is the price of an impersonal thank-you?bigstock-Thank-you-vector-stamp-24628313

Book Review- Small Town Rules January 21, 2014

Posted by Jack Macholl in Book Review, Branding, Chamber of Commerce, Customer Service, Image, Marketing, Marketing Planning, non-profit.
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I recently completed Small Town Rules by Barry Moltz and Becky McCray a very interesting read that likens the connected world to a small town environment where every customer can talk with one another.

Today many businesses (including the  large companies) are quickly learning that people are seeking genuine interaction and a local connection. One of the most interesting takeaways was the desire of consumers to learn the “story behind their purchases.” Instead of mission/vision statements and value propositions, many humans want some history on the business and how it adds tangible value to the community. For many that connection may prompt a consumer to bypass a cheaper option and purchase the local product because they feel  personally involved with the product or service.

Since the Great Recession began in 2008, there has been a resurgence of the Shop Local movement which is covered in-depth. The authors cover many important points about businesses needing to do more than place “Shop Local” placards in their store windows and call it a success. Taking the Shop Local concept to an urban level is also reviewed with examples from the unique neighborhoods of Chicago, a major metropolitan market with numerous chambers of commerce.IMG_0190IMG_0197

Having worked in bank marketing for decades, I found the Bank Local section particularly interesting. Many community based banks did not participate in high-risk lending practices and actually made it through the worst of the financial crash with minimal impact. During the 1990’s and 2000’s,  many larger U.S. banking organizations eliminated local community banking charters, creating large-scale branch banking networks seeking the efficiency play. Some years later the wisdom of that strategy is questionable, as more wary consumers want a “small town type” relationship with the people managing something as personal as their money.

The lessons of minimalist business management, planning for “zero years” (storing surpluses) and exactly how small town businesses have survived for generations is wisdom many business owners large or small will surely find useful.

A devoted website www.smalltownrules.com is also available to remain connected for updates from the authors.

Customer Interaction- At Least Pretend December 31, 2013

Posted by Jack Macholl in Brand personality, Communications, Customer Service, Image, Marketing, Sales, Uncategorized.
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My final post of 2013 won’t be a “7 things you need to know” article, I wanted to leave you with some food for thought for the New Year.

Yesterday I decided to drive my car through a wash near my home as our midwestern road salt levels are already off the charts. The lady in the booth was on her iPhone and did not interact verbally her conversation trumped the customer interaction. Not only is this rude, it’s just plain horrible customer service. Certainly, many service jobs are not glamorous, but to simply point, take money and turn away is not portraying a quality image.

Today we’ve grown to accept self-service or perhaps marginal online chat and phone representatives as commonplace . From my vantage point certain businesses must still use face to face service as their central tool. It’s important to monitor the activity and attitude of those you have in customer-facing positions, make sure they’re at least acting the part.

A happy and safe New Year to you all.

Jack

Small Business Saturday November 24, 2012

Posted by Jack Macholl in Brand building, Brand personality, Communications, Corporate Social Responsibility, Marketing, Sales, Uncategorized.
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After participating in the Edison Park Turkey Trot here in my Chicago neighborhood, a woman handed me a flyer for her brand new start-up business Fair Trade Gifts (6700 N. Northwest Hwy. Chicago, IL 60631).

She was one of many people with booths hawking merchandise, handing out cards and flyers. What made this lady stand out was her “elevator pitch.” In just a few well chosen words she described the fair labor and sustainable practices her goods are made within. Likely no marketing budget, no Search Engine Optimization or PR campaign- a start-up using old-school techniques to capture a few seconds of your attention.

This entrepreneur represents what President Obama calls “Main Street America.” She is opening a small business in what was an abandoned coffee shop that crashed along with many other small businesses back in 2010.

The bombardment and overkill of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc. is upon us. It might be time to step back, stop by the local merchant, hear their story and help some people trying to live their dream around the corner.

Telling the “Local Story” September 13, 2012

Posted by Jack Macholl in Brand personality, Branding, Communications, Customer Service, Image, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Planning, non-profit, Uncategorized.
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Over my years in marketing management, I’ve seen many companies miss opportunity by over analyzing business and marketing strategies.  I field questions like “should we have a QR code?”, ”  do we need to be on this Four Square thing?”- and the list goes on.

Sometimes taking a few steps back and reviewing the business purpose (core strategy) and how you will convey your “story” is much more productive than charging to the latest software or “app” (tactics).

Businesses who are winning in this world of consumer insecurity are those making a connection with customers. Explaining why they should do business with you versus the firm down the street or across the globe (value proposition). If your phones are answered locally and not by a call center 3,000 miles away, by all means tell us. Being locally owned and operated by employees that have kids on the same little league team as your child can be a strong differentiating point particularly in a world where many people feel “burned” (e.g. the financial crisis) and want a relationship with the people they’re doing business with.

Beyond telling a great “marketing story”, actually delivering on the promise (customer experience) is the true tale of the tape, as  hopefully delighted, repeat customers often lead to the sought after 20%  that account for your profitability (80/20 rule).

Not to say that apps or online commerce is bad, it’s not. The punchline- small steps, strategy first, then ensuring top-notch processes/operations are in place, then tell your story.

I’d like to hear your local success stories and what works.

Making the Customer “Top Dog” May 21, 2012

Posted by Jack Macholl in Brand personality, Uncategorized.
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After literally wearing my current walking shoes to threadbare level I visited Road Runner Sports in Wilmette Illinois, one of 26 U.S. locations of this predominately online marketer.

The customer experience is truly personal with the Shoe Dog computer analysis of your gait, balance and impact points on the feet. Their sales staff was comprised of energetic, articulate 20 something’s who exceeded my customer expectations by yards.

They are on to something that many businesses can learn from in this self-service efficiency model era. This is a true 1:1 experience backed by a 90- day guarantee.

Are you making your customer or constituent feel like “top dog?”

Creativity- on the fly April 1, 2012

Posted by Jack Macholl in Brand personality, Communications, Customer Service.
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While walking past a park in my Chicago neighborhood there were a group of 8-9 year old boys on the swings. Nothing unusual until another boy suggested playing “wood chips” – they had me, my curiosity got the best of me-had to look. In essence “wood chips” consists of the kids who didn’t have a swing  throwing wood chips at the moving kids who did.  Juvenile-check, likely an E.R. visit waiting to happen-check.

As I walked away with some memories of my own silly childhood spent in Chicago Public parks, it made me wonder at what age do people stop creating on the fly- or at all for that matter? Kids make up games, songs or dream up superheroes in their minds. The future of this country will require a great deal of creativity to keep it on the global radar. How do we encourage “creativity on the fly?”

Academic Outreach December 15, 2011

Posted by Jack Macholl in Brand building, Brand personality, Branding, Corporate Social Responsibility, Donor Development, Marketing Planning, non-profit, Philanthropy.
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Graduate Students Giving and Learning

In these times of chronic bad news, cutbacks and political fighting a positive movement has begun with my  graduate Integrated Marketing Communication students at Roosevelt University. In lieu of a Masters thesis, students in Roosevelt’s IMC program work on a complete marketing campaign for an actual company.

This year instead of working on an assignment with a corporate partner, we “adopted” a not-for-profit organization WINGS (Women In Need of Growing Stronger). This group located in the northwest suburbs of Chicago provides emergency services, sheltered living, legal help, employment training, child care and job search services for abused women and children.

WINGS creates a large percentage of its operating fund via three resale stores in suburban Chicagoland. Two student teams worked on integrated marketing campaigns designed to raise awareness of WINGS brand, its mission and the wide selection of quality, brand name merchandise available in their shops.

A formal client “pitch” that emulates a “real world” agency new business presentation was delivered to members of WINGS leadership team. An array of low-cost, high-impact creative concepts and “guerilla” tactics- events, advertising and social media approaches to build brand and drive store traffic were delivered for consideration.

In addition to creating a plan book  and numerous cost-effective tactical ideas, the students delivered more. Many were so moved by the trials and cutbacks WINGS leadership has been required to make for survival, they opened their own wallets to help. Members of both teams donated bags of “wish list” items and donated clothing that will help meet the daily needs of the women and children served.

The talent and generosity shown renewed my faith and hope that better days are ahead in spite of the madness we see and hear on cable news each day.

The essence of guerilla marketing is action– these talented and generous leaders of the future did just that-they delivered.

To learn more about WINGS and the meaningful work they do, visit

www.wingsprogram.com