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Thursday, May 26, 2016

How Do You Talk About Your Competitors?

IF YOU CAN'T SAY ANYTHING NICE, DON'T SAY ANYTHING AT ALL
Did our Mother ever say that to you?  I heard it a lot.  I think it is a generational thing.  I don't seem to hear it as frequently anymore.  Even Thumper was wise enough to understand this.

Often while talking with customers and prospects we are told what our competitors say about us.  Do you realize that when you talk smack about another company it only reflects poorly on you?

Yesterday I was travelling back from a trade show in Las Vegas.   Las Vegas, of course, is a trade show mecca.  There were at least 3 shows going on in the conference center we were at and many others going on around the city at other venues.

As I was on the train to get to our gate, I noticed 3 people from a local company that were at a show.  We had customers at that show so I asked them how the show went?  I really was just curious about the show itself and looking for some feedback.  We started chatting a bit and of course they asked what I did for a living.   I told them we were a local (to them) trade show exhibit house and that we sold trade show booths, flooring and other related items.

The owner asked where our offices were and said, "Ok, give us your pitch, why should we buy from you?"  My first answer to that question is always very simple, "You get me".  Now before you think that is an incredibly conceited answer, I always expound on that to explain.  We are a small business, the owners are engaged in every aspect of the business and that we are a very high service business.  It always gets a laugh and builds some immediate rapport.

Of course, being the die hard sales person, I then had to ask, "What do you have for a trade show exhibit?".  They had just purchased one from a local competitor.  I explained that I knew that competitor well, that they were good people and in good hands with them.  I simply explained the difference between our two organizations and told them I was sure they would be very happy with their product.  They were thankful to hear that the partner they had chosen was a good company.


We chatted a bit further about non business things.  As we walked to our gate the owner started saying that they may need another booth for the times when shows were doubled up and he asked for my card.   We got to the gate, they were going to get a bite to eat and invited me to join them.

Don't forget that if you speak negatively of a competitor, the only reputation and brand that it hurts is your own and your company's.

We will see.  Do you think they will buy from us?  I do.

Be Genuine, Be Kind, Be Honest.

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Lori Hanken has been in sales and marketing for over 30 years. She is passionate about service and providing value to her vendors, prospects and clients. Lori is currently co-owner of Total Displays with her husband David. They help people look great at events, trade shows, in retail, museums and develop long partnerships with customers and suppliers. If you would like to learn more, email her at lori@totaldisplays.com. She is an open networker, connect with her on LinkedIn here.
Read other Total Displays Blog posts at http://totaldisplays.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Anti Attraction Marketing


Here is an interesting concept.  LinkedIn is a great networking and marketing tool and people share articles, updates and opinions.  There is a small number of people that post personal and/or controversial items on LinkedIn.  I call it Anti Attraction Marketing.

I have seen a lot of completely useless and non-business related posts on LinkedIn.  The interesting thing is that some of those posts are generating a lot of interest.  One woman posted a picture of a naked woman lying in the grass covering herself with her arms.  Her post was about not posting pictures like that but it created quite a stir.

Another example is there is meme floating around LinkedIn about the use of backpacks for business purposes.   It is judgmental and ridiculous and honestly has no business value to much of anyone.  Of course, that is just my opinion.  Why are we wasting our time reading, commenting and writing about the use of backpacks for business commuting and travel?  Yes this is the pot calling the kettle black.



The meme floating around on LinkedIn?  People are COMMENTING and SHARING!

The funny thing is, it creates very volatile reactions in some.  Some positive and some negative.  Actually the last person that I saw share it got such negative backlash that he actually deleted the post.  That is why I called it Anti-Attraction Marketing (this is not an official marketing term).

Some posts create almost visceral reactions.   Do those posts ad value for the person or the business?

Many people are posting things that are controversial and others just for attention.  Things like Target and the whole bathroom fiasco of course are big right now.   Of course political or religious posts are right up there.  Interestingly enough posts about professional vs non professional profile photos are getting big press.   These posts have no business value but get a LOT of comments.  The value of cold calling is another hot topic.  I will be writing a post on that soon.

People are commenting, clicking, looking, sharing.  Thousands of people.  Isn't that what social media marketing is all about?

Of course I am contributing by blogging about it too right?    You can learn a lot about people by the way they post and react on social media?  Do they have unreasonable views?  Are they hot heads?  Are they using unprofessional photos, language or content?

So I am curious about the value of such post.  Does it turn off the reader? Does it scare away a potential prospect?  Or does it build awareness of you and your company?

Personally, I believe in being genuine.  I believe in being honest.  I also believe in servicing the customer so I wouldn't try to promote myself or our brand through something that could create anger or negative emotions or responses.  You?

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Lori Hanken has been in sales and marketing for over 30 years.  She is passionate about service and providing value to her vendors, prospects and clients.  Lori is currently co-owner of Total Displays with her husband David.  They help people look great at events, trade shows, in retail, museums and develop long partnerships with customers and suppliers.  If you would like to learn more, email her at lori@totaldisplays.com.  Connect with her on LinkedIn here.

Read other Total Displays Blog posts at http://totaldisplays.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Meet the LinkedIn Players

All over LinkedIn we see posts and comments about unprofessional use of LinkedIn.  We see arguments about whether a post is appropriate or not.  We see memes like RIP LinkedIn.  I see multiple posts each day that are similar in nature and message.



Image result for rip linkedin
Everyone knows that LinkedIn is a professional networking platform.  We also know that it is difficult to keep it that way.  As I have been thinking about this concept I have seen some trends in the kinds of people using LinkedIn.  I have taken the liberty of giving them some titles.

Do you see yourself in any of them?



The Connector (It's All About The Numbers Baby)
These people often have LION in their profile.  They will connect with anyone and everyone regardless of business or personal connection.  They connect and then make no personal contact with you and do not truly connect.  If you are going to take the time to connect, then make a personal connection at some level.  That is what networking is truly about.

Looking for Love In All the Wrong Places (Desperate Dude)
Sorry I don't mean to be sexist here.  These are typically men but don't have to be.  They search for attractive females and comment on their photos about how beautiful they are or asking to meet them.   Often they send inappropriate personal messages to them.    There is really nothing to say here other than, use Tinder or some dating service if you are looking for that type of connection.  This is not a hook up site.

The Exhibitionist (No One Wants To See That)
This person's profile picture shows more skin than clothes.  Yes there are the rare profiles that are swim suit models or artists.  But most of them are more interested in getting attention from their profile picture than actually conducting business or networking.  Again, respect yourself enough and act professionally enough to be respected or you will have "Looking for Love in All The Wrong Places" knocking on your door.

The Letch (Creepy)
This person is painfully obvious.  When they see a profile picture of an attractive woman, usually The Exhibitionist, but not always they make comments like, "You're hot", "Wow", "Amazing", and others that I won't put in print and honestly should never be said about a woman.  I should be fair and say women may do the same to a man, but honestly I have never seen it on LinkedIn.

The Sales Stalker (Annoying, Really Annoying)
You connect with someone and you immediately get their email pitch.  This is not about networking at all.  Networking is a two way street, not a one way street.  It is rare for it to be ok and generally turns people off.  If you are trying to make a sales connection, I would recommend the InMail feature to reach out.  Networking and sales, although related are two different things.  Networking applies something mutually beneficial and sales starts as a one sided relationship.

The LinkedIn Bully (AKA You Can't Have An Opinion)
Image result for bullyThis is the one that makes me the most frustrated.  These people write a post expressing their opinion about something.  When you write a blog post or a LinkedIn post, I would think you would want people to read it and to comment on it.  Of course it opens you up to differing opinions.  As soon as someone has a negative opinion about a post, even if it is written politely, the author jumps them.   

Or this can be the person that doesn't believe that everyone should have an opinion.  They jump in with their definitive, blahblahblah sucks - period.  They are a 'you're wrong', 'end of discussion', 'you are a moron for having an opinion'  kind of person.

I have even seen blog writers that block from commenting if someone wants to post an idea that is contrary to theirs.  Sigh.


The Psycho
These people post the most random, confusing and nonsense posts.   I have a friend on LinkedIn that was virtually attacked by a woman basically claiming that his posts were not genuine and that he did not worship the same God as she did.  It was random, and very bizarre.  I was curious about her so I looked at a few of her posts and there is something very wrong there.  More about her in a later post.

DON'T PERPETUATE THE MADNESS!

Here is one key that people don't think about.  When someone posts something on LinkedIn that shouldn't be there, say a picture of someone in their underwear, commenting on it, just spreads the post/photo further into your network.  When you comment, all your connections get notified that you commented or liked it.   


There is a block feature.  Call up the users profile and use the down arrow by the Connect/InMail/Message blue button.   Block the person or unfollow if you want to stay connected but don't want to see their updates.   

Don't engage, don't try to tell them it doesn't belong there.  Guess what.  They know it doesn't belong there.  AND what they are doing is working.  They are getting connections and views on their profile.  For what purpose?  I don't know.  I will post more later on what I call 'Anti-Attraction Marketing'

I block the original poster.  If someone makes a comment that is out of line in my opinion I sometimes block them.  

It is MY LinkedIn.  I control what I see and what I don't.  Getting into an argument with someone about what they post is ridiculous and counterproductive!





If you find something particularly offensive you can hide it or even report it.






If you got to the end of this, congratulations. There is still one more important point to make.


So how does this relate to me and my passions about BRANDING.  Your employees are part of your brand.  Your LinkedIn posts are part of your personal brand.   If you are a small business owner or a manager in a larger business, periodically check your employee's posts.  Be sure that they represent the image of your company as you want.  The first thing I do when I see something inappropriate, I look to see where the person works or if we have any common connections.

What your employees post on LinkedIn (we won't discuss other social media here) reflects on your company and your brand.

Shamless pitch here - we will be offering a LinkedIn seminar for sales "professionals" soon.  Be sure to send me a message if you want an invitation.

~End Rant

What other LinkedIn Players have you seen?

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Lori Hanken has been in sales and marketing for over 30 years.  She is passionate about service and providing value to her vendors, prospects and clients.  Lori is currently co-owner of Total Displays with her husband David.  They help people look great at events, trade shows, in retail, museums and develop long partnerships with customers and suppliers.  If you would like to learn more, email her at lori@totaldisplays.com.  Connect with her on LinkedIn here.  I am an open networker, but I don't network just for numbers.  Expect a message from me when we connect.


Read other Total Displays Blog posts at http://totaldisplays.blogspot.com/

Friday, May 6, 2016

Name Not Found - Name Not Found - Name Not Found

Do you want your customers to find you?  Do you want to be accessible?  Are you a customer service driven company?

These are all questions that each company should ask themselves on a regular basis.  With technology today, it seems companies are looking for the easy answer.  Let's automate to make it simpler.  I don't need anyone to answer the phone when someone calls.  I can save some money with an auto attendant.  BUT, do you save money or do you lose money?

What happened to the personal touch?  What happened to service?

Let's say I am a prospect and I want to check out pricing on your products.  I came to your booth at a trade show and I got a business card of a sales rep.    How about this scenario?



I call the number on the card.

"Hello you have reached the I Really Don't Want To Talk To You Company, if you know your parties' extension, please dial it now, otherwise press 411 to access our dial by name feature".  

I know the reps name and enter 411

Press 1 to dial by first name, press 2 to dial by last name" 

I enter 1 to dial by first name.  I mean really the first names are often shorter and easier to type.  I don't know about you, but typing by letters on a phone is not a skill I have nurtured.

"Name not found, please try again".

I enter the name again.

"Name not found, please try again".

I try again.

"Name not found, please try again".

I press 0 to try to reach a person, and I get disconnected.

I call back - go to the dial by name and try to dial by last name.  Guess what.

"Name not found, please try again".





The next thing I do is search another company that does the same thing and call them.  They have a live person answer the phone and direct me to the sales rep.  

Who do you think I will buy from?

Today I made a call where no one answered the phone.  They had a dial by name feature so I thought that would be perfect.  Tried the first name, "no such person in the directory"  tried the last name, "no such person in the directory", tried the first and last name of another employee, "no such person in the directory".  I then got the message,
"THERE HAVE BEEN TOO MANY FAILURES"  Their phone system then just disconnected me.
Yes I know that I have already written about Auto Attendants.  Call me old fashioned, but please, if you want to provide good service to your customers and prospects, make it easy for them to reach you.  You can read my previous rant here if you would like Auto Attendant Rant #1.  

A word of advice, check your phone systems, dial by name and auto attendant features fairly regularly so you are sure that it is working.  

Call yourself and try your own system.  You may be surprised at what you find.


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Lori Hanken has been in sales and marketing for over 30 years.  She is passionate about service and providing value to her vendors, prospects and clients.  Lori is currently co-owner of Total Displays with her husband David.  They help people look great at events, trade shows, in retail, museums and develop long partnerships with customers and suppliers.  If you would like to learn more, email her at lori@totaldisplays.com.  Connect with her on LinkedIn here.


Read other Total Displays Blog posts at http://totaldisplays.blogspot.com/