15 Unusual Ideas To Improve Customer Experience

When talking about customer experience, most would assume it is about a face-to-face interaction with your customers. Contrary to popular beliefs, there are many ways that customer experience can be improved beyond personal interaction. This is why these ideas are unusual. They focus on customer service features that doesn’t involved personal interaction. Traditionally, customer service encompasses the entire experience from the moment customers walk into your store or click on your link until they check out. Now, it also includes their experience after they visit your store when they are home or when they’re at work the next day.

Think about the many times you got frustrated while on hold on the telephone? Think about how many times you’ve been disgusted by dirty restrooms? How annoyed were you to drive to the store just to find out they were closed? How mad it made you feel to find out that they sent you home with the wrong item and now, you’re having a hard time reaching them.

The reality is that your employees will not care as much as you do about pleasing your customers. Your employees won’t even think about making sure customers ever return. Most employees just want to clock in and out every day they are at your store. I’ve been in the retail world for more than 15 years. I would like to share with you some ideas on how you can dramatically improve customer experience even when you are not around.

  1. Clean and aromatic restrooms: This is the top on my list especially if you have a brick and mortar store. Most likely, your target shoppers are women and we are very sensitive to the cleanliness of your restrooms. It has a great impact in our perception of your business. Install air fresheners. Scent is also now a marketing strategy so make sure you research the right type of scent. Decorate your restroom and make it feel like home. Make sure that your employees check the restroom every 2-3 hours depending on how busy your location is. Create a checking process where your employees have to initial every 2 hours that they checked and cleaned the restroom.
  2. Up-to-date information on your website: If you are on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Yelp, and Google+ make sure that you update your hours of operation and make the necessary posts and updates to keep your shoppers in the loop.
  3. Up-to-date information on your “on hold” and voicemail services: If you know that you are going to have extended hours or even an exciting event coming up, set your recording message to reflect these information. Your customers would be happy to learn about what is going on with your business and maybe they would want to support.
  4. Signage, signage, signage: Create signs for announcements or even for directions! IKEA finally learned this when they installed directional projection signs in their stores. Can you imagine how frustrated people felt when they realized they were walking in circles all along? If you’re out of stock, try your best to let them know when you’ll have it back on stock or have them subscribe to a list so you can email them when it will return.
  5. Test your process: If you are in e-commerce, see what the check out process looks like. What is the journey like? Do you have systems in place to suggest complimentary products? If you have a brick and mortar store, can people easily find the cashiers? How long does it take to purchase an item?
  6. Reward your loyal shoppers: If you have regular customers that support and refer businesses to you, do you have a loyalty program in place? It is definitely the best way for you to thank your loyal shoppers! Make them feel rewarded for supporting your business.
  7. Answer the phone quickly: When your customers call, how long does it take for anyone to pick up the phone? When their calls go through, is your automated system easy to use? Or do you put them through the wringer before they can speak to a live person? Most phone systems are so advanced now that you can set a different message during your operating hours vs. after hours.
  8. Follow up: When customers are making purchases, do you have a system in place where you can check back with them to see how they like your products so far? This is an extra step you can do that will definitely make your customer feel special.
  9. Responding to reviews: I know how painful it can feel to read challenging reviews about your brand but 8 times out of 10, these complaints are just misunderstandings. Try not to take it personal. Respond to the challenging reviews while keeping in mind that they were disappointed and perhaps there is something that can be done to improve their perspective.
  10. Package it right: The small details really do matter. When people purchase products from you, it is up to you to make them feel extra special with their purchase. Maybe it’s the customized packaging that you use, or the little hand written note you include, or perhaps it’s the bow that you added on the package.
  11. Send Birthday Greetings: Do you know how good it feels to get a birthday message from the brands that you support? It’s even better when there is a special discount attached to this birthday message! If you have a mass email service like Mailchimp, there are ways that you can automate birthday messaging for your customers.
  12. Clear and concise return and exchange policy: Part of taking care of your customers is considering the fact that there’ll be times when they aren’t happy with their purchase. Retailers like Nordstroms have very lenient return policies because they figured that this is one of their added value in customer service. You don’t have to offer lenient return policies but do your best to communicate your return policies where you can…. refer back to #4 about signage!
  13. Automated Social Media Messengers response: There is a feature on Facebook Messenger that you can create an auto reply when someone sends you a message. I think that it is vital for customers to feel or know that someone checks the messenger inboxes. You can simply set your message to say “Thank you for your message, we will respond within 24 hours. Please note that our office hours are 8 AM – 5 PM, Monday through Friday.”
  14. Consistency: Your loyal shoppers appreciate consistency wherever you can implement them. Do you send a weekly newsletter? Are you sending it on the same day every week? Do you receive new inventory every Tuesday? Is there anything you do every week that can be more consistent? Find some ways you can create consistency if you want to be a part of your customers’ routine.
  15. Make good on your promise. There is nothing better to a customer than receiving good quality product or service. Customers want to feel like they’ve found a treasure and it will automatically make them feel at their best knowing that they’ve found something most people don’t know about. Make your customers proud when they purchase or work with you!

I’m sure there are plenty of other ways to improve customer experience that is not included on this list. One of which was a recent post I saw about how one Sephora store designated a different color shopping basket for customers who do not want to be bothered by sales associate while they are shopping! Now that’s maximum thoughtfulness.

Another idea are chatbots! Not everyone has the resources to install chatbot features on their website but it seems to be one efficient way to improve customer experience on your website.

Customer experience can make or break your business. Customers may give you one more shot if you get it wrong the first time but more likely than not, they are happy to move on to a competitor and wouldn’t think twice about sharing their bad review about their experience with you.

Take the necessary steps to improve your customer experience and don’t wait for a complaint before you make these improvements. Leave a comment below about other ideas on how to improve customer experience beyond the face-to-face contact.

4 Reasons Why We Trust Better Graphics

Have you ever come across a flyer and thought “my first grade nephew could have created that on a word document”? Then, all of a sudden, you don’t even want to go to that event anymore because you feel like it’s not going to be the type of event in your caliber. You suddenly think it may not be a legitimate event. It may be unorganized and going to an unorganized event can really be irritating.

Here are reasons why we trust better graphics:

  1. It’s a great first impression. If anyone isn’t familiar with your company or organization, a pleasing graphic will leave a great first impression.
  2. It exudes professionalism. An aesthetically presentable graphic means that the company or organization cares about looking professional.
  3. It elicits positive feelings. A graphic that’s pleasing in the eyes will subconsciously make anyone feel positively good when they see it. When the flyer is unorganized, you will naturally feel a hint of frustration just by looking at it.
  4. A great graphic will present a clear message. You don’t want your graphic to have too much text but just enough to communicate the message.

Take a look at the two examples below. The one on the left is undoubtedly more pleasing than the one on the right. There are so many resources online that can aid you in creating a graphic. One of my favorite resource is CANVA and I created a free tutorial that can help you become more familiar of its user-interface. Many people initially assume that it’s going to take some type of technical skills to navigate a graphic software but I created the tutorial to show you that it is not complicated at all.

Scroll down and click on the video link below to watch the free tutorial today.

5 Secrets to Content Creation

Creating content on social media can be a daunting task to some people but with consistent practice and attention to details, anyone can create whatever content they desire. You just need that “I can make lemonades with lemons thrown at me” attitude to be able to create content out of the simplest ideas.

Creating content is daunting when you think you have to produce a new video or image every time you log in to your social media account. It is daunting when you think you have to spend hours everyday on your social media. But here are some tips to get your mind churning more towards simplifying your content creation experience.

Tip #1: PLAN YOUR CONTENT ONE MONTH AT A TIME.

Just give it a shot. Pull out your calendar and start aligning the content you need to post based on any happenings on your calendar of events or even personal life. If you know you have a sale event on the third Sunday of the month then you probably should post teasers weeks before and post more promos as it gets closer to that day.

If you know you have a vacation coming then maybe you should plan a few cute “out of the office” posts.

If there are upcoming Holidays, you can plan some posts around those Holidays, as well.

Tip #2: INCORPORATE TRENDY AND QUIRKY HOLIDAYS THAT YOU OR YOUR BRAND CAN RELATE TO.

A National pets day may mean more to your brand than a National wear your shirt backwards day. Both of these quirky days could be trendy and so you want to post something about it using hashtags that maybe used for this trend. Try #NationslPetDay or #NationalBackwardsDay or look up these hashtags and see if it trended the previous year.

Some brands may be able to relate to celebrating Beyonce’s Birthday or “Men make dinner day”. There are calendars on the internet that you can search to find out about these days.

TIP #3: FOLLOW OTHER BRANDS THAT ARE BIGGER AND BETTER THAN YOURS.

The only way you can get better is when you are surrounded by people who are doing better than you. Think about this same thought on social media. Follow the brands that are doing better and get inspired by their content. Turn notifications on when they post!

TIP #4: POST AT LEAST ONCE PER DAY OR MORE DURING THE BEST TIMES!

If you’re concerned about branding then you need to be in sight and in the forefront of their minds at all the time. Post at least once on Facebook and at least twice on Instagram. Twitter will require more frequency of up to 20 tweets a day if you can.

This means that you also need to have all your images and videos ready. There are plenty of stock photos subscription available for you. One that I recommend is 123rf.com, they do offer subscription but they also have free images you can download.

The best times to post depends on your target market but typically it is before work, during lunch breaks, after work and then late at night.

TIP #5: REPURPOSE YOUR BEST CONTENT.

There is nothing wrong with reposting your best blogs or your best photos once in a while. You can repost that old article they wrote about you from 5 years ago as a throwback. You can repost the same product with a slight change in context. You can repost your story, video, and photos. It doesn’t have to be a brand new post 100% of the time. Remember that not everyone sees your posts every day.

Lastly, don’t let social media automation intimidate you. I know for a fact that you will feel 100% better and secure once you’ve planned your entire month out. All you will need to do after that is pay attention to people commenting and liking because you will want to engage with them in real time.

FREE Facebook Creator Studio Tutorial

Free Social Media Content Calendar

10 Tips to Excell at Your New Job

Starting a new job can be daunting. You’re conscious about everything because you don’t know anyone and most of all, you don’t really know the company or the office culture. 
Take it from someone like me who has worked in three different corporate setting in the last 15 years. I’ve worked at Macy’s, Expedia, and a couple real estate offices in my career. 

I’ve been in the shoes of a new employee as well as the supervising manager for new employees. As a manager, I’ve been shocked more times than I’d like to admit by new employees’ lack of office ettiquette or effort to impress the managers upon starting a new job. 

I thought writing this blog would especially help our emerging new generation in adjusting to their first or new job. Your reputation is part of your personal brand and learning how to build and maintain your reputation is an important career decision. 

1. Come to work early. Aim to be there before your manager arrives. Now, you might ask, “how long am I going to keep this up?” and honestly, my answer for as long as you can! There is no definite answer because every manager is different. Give yourself enough time to organize your tasks for the day. Review your notes from previous day and follow up on lose ends. Make your coffee or if the office has a kitchen, brew the first pot. When your manager arrives let him or her know a hot pot of coffee is available in the kitchen. These are all part of unwritten and unsaid office “pleasantries”. 

I can’t personally tell you how I learned this. I could say it was how I was brought up or maybe I have always read between the lines. For those who needed to read this, I hope it helps.

2. Be the last person to leave the office or don’t leave until after your boss has left. With that said, sometimes there are employees that stay much later than everyone else and you don’t have to wait for them. I am actually one of those people who sometimes stay until 10pm in the office. Nobody asks me to, I just have that kind of work ethic (borderline workaholic 😉). 

You don’t have to stay as late as I do but just make sure you ask your direct supervisor, 30-60 minutes before you’d like to leave if there’s anything you could do for them before the day ends. This particular courtesy goes a long way. Here’s a suggestion on how you should ask:

” I realize the day is almost over and I wanted to know if there’s anything you’d like me to do or finish before you leave today?” 

This gives you a chance to work on it early enough and even if you’re finished before your supervisor leaves, you can both feel a sense of accomplishment and that’s a great way to end the day. 

3. Report your progress. As a new employee, your boss will most likely have a list of things that you’ll need to work on. Most of it will be busy work but it will give you a chance to familiarize yourself with your job. Make an effort to let your supervisor know how you are doing with the task list. 

Request weekly meetings (if there isn’t one in place) so you can ask your questions and provide update of your progress. 

If you are new, do not take the liberty to delegate your task. At least not in the first 3 months. Your manager expects to see you perform the task and delegating them when you are new may make you look lazy or opportunistic. Both are negative reputations as a new employee.

4. Dress to impress. This cliche is especially true if you are the new kid on the block. Dress like you are going to an interview. You can always dress down if you find that the office culture is more relaxed. In my career, I have learned that this tip is still often misunderstood because not everyone knows how to dress professional or conservative. Buttoned up blouse, knee length skirt, dress pants, closed toe shoes are the safest bet for females. Let’s face it, men have it easy. Do not take chances on your first week. Dress conservatively and professionally. This tip is non-negotiable!

5. Go above and beyond the call of duty. When you are new to the company, you have a lot to prove to your co-workers and your boss. Some of your co-workers might give you the stares questioning why you were chosen for the job. You aren’t privey to the office culture or drama so it’s best to give zero allowance for people to doubt your worth. 

You might ask yourself, “how do I go above and beyond?” The easiest way is to anticipate what your boss needs and do more! If you know that there’s an upcoming event, take care of the necessary steps to get the planning started. Set meeting dates, engage in the process of creative marketing collateral, research how the last event was done and figure how you can make it better. 

Another example is finishing your tasks ahead of time and offer to complete additional tasks. 

Anticipate what is needed from you, perform that task well and then ask if there’s anything else you can do. Always make yourself available to work. This will let your boss know you are hungry to learn!

6. Ask questions! Your Boss won’t really know the progress of your training process if you don’t ask questions. It’s a great indication of the level of your understanding. There are only two reasons why you don’t have questions to ask. You either know it all or you have no idea. Your boss would typically think the latter. 

7. Treat everyone as your customer. Answer phone calls and emails as if your job is to serve them like they are your customers. Answer the phone with pleasant greetings. Do not give anyone a reason to say you’re rude or impolite. Greet everyone good morning and say goodbye to your co-workers when you leave.

8. Take notes. Take a pen and paper everywhere you go. It shows that you are eager to learn things when you take notes. I know that technology has ruled our lives but I still suggest a pen and paper for your first week. If you must use your phone, announce that you are using it to take notes. Don’t give anyone a chance to think you are texting during the meetings.

Taking notes can also help you keep your facts straight and remember all of the new things, lingo, names and etc… that you come across in your first few weeks. 

9. Be productive. Refrain from socializing when you should be working. Return from your breaks on time. Try productivity apps if you need assistance with tracking your time. Avoid checking your personal messages when you are at your desk. Remember that most IT team has access to your computer at any time. Everything you do on your work computer is the property of your company.

10. Last but certainly not the least, you must take responsibility for the growth and development of your career. Subscribe to publications in your industry and sign up for webinars for your specific position. Your supervisor will only teach you what you are willing to learn and often times, you don’t know what you don’t know. Be responsible for your own growth! Read books and learn new skills along the way. 

As a reference to #6, ask questions! Show that you’ve read or watched webinars and write your questions and ask your manager. You can tell them “I recently watched this webinar and I have some questions. Is it ok if I ask you to clarify some things I didn’t quite understand?” That question tells your boss you are eager to learn.

If you’re a new employee, I hope this short 10 Tips has helped you plan your performance in the next 3-6 months. 

Comment below, especially if you’re a manager, and let me know your other tips for excellence.

 

#Twitterdoubled it’s Character Limit and Here’s How Tweeters Reacted:

Hello, 280. Twitter is expanding tweets to 280 characters for nearly all users (the change won’t apply to Chinese, Japanese, or Korean languages) after rolling it out to some accounts in September. The company said people tweeted “more easily and more often” with the extended count, but that it didn’t substantially change Twitter’s brief-and-breezy character: Only 1% of users with extra space actually hit the limit. It’s all part of the social network’s efforts to grow users and engagement• Share your thoughts: #TwitterDoubled

I personally don’t mind it. I wouldn’t use it more or less than I do now. I simply connect my Facebook to Twitter and this would mean more of my post content would crossover to Twitter. 

I would be curious to see if they gain more activity with this update. Based on the articles and comments from current users, I don’t think this update is a real game changer. It’s a great effort to be in the news for now.

What do you think about this change? Share your thoughts in the comment section. 

Here’s what other people thought: 

5 Ways Business Owners Benefit from Traveling

I’ve been fortunate to have been able to travel to multiple destinations  in the last couple of years.  In 2016, I traveled alone to London, Madrid, Rome and Paris. I debated on titling this blog 5 Reasons to Travel Alone but I may be able to convey that message through this blog anyway.  In September of 2017, I traveled to Athens, Santorini and Mykonos. What they say about traveling is true. Once you start you cannot stop.

I learned a great deal about myself and how traveling has changed me to be a better professional and businesses owner. Here are 3 reasons you should really save up to travel to unfamiliar places.

I. You become more resilient when exposed to new environments.

Having to navigate unfamiliar places teaches you lessons that cannot be learned from reading a book or listening to lectures. In the process of figuring out the metro or bus routes in a country where English is not the primary language teaches you that it’s okay to be or get lost. It teaches you that when unfortunate things happen in unfamiliar environments, that you have to keep calm and take it one step at a time to readjust your next steps.

In my recent trip to Greece, my passport wallet was stolen from my purse at Larissa Station in Athens. I’m not really sure what happened and how but after thinking about it (what seemed like) a thousand times, I am pretty sure it was stolen the morning before I got on the metro. It was the only time I don’t remember having my purse in front of me because I had my hands full with my coffee, hat, sunglasses, and fixing my long skirt because I was stepping on it walking up the stairs. I remembered someone bumping into me and I know that is the number one trick in the book.

I didn’t realize until almost 8 hours later that I was missing my wallet when I tried to tip my tour guide and couldn’t find my wallet in my bag. Even then, my first thought was that I left it back in my room. That night, I searched my room and did not find my wallet. I panicked at first but my next instinct was to google the process of getting a new passport in Athens. I immediately made a trip to the Tourism Police Station that night to report my stolen passport and wallet with 140 euros.

The very next day, I went to the US Embassy around 9:30am. The whole process took only two hours to my surprise. It was a big inconvenience but I was eating a chicken pie with my new passport by noon.

II.  You can be inspired by new sceneries.

When I am in another country, I make it a point to be observant of their ads, customer service, marketing tactics and more. I pay attention to how the stores and restaurants try to stand out from the competitors and the value they place on certain services (valet, rentals, concierge, etc…). I love learning about how it works in counties I’ve never been.

I open up their magazines and although I can’t understand the language, I pay attention to the images they choose and the graphic design styles. When I visited Mykonos, for instance, the whole island promotes itself as a luxurious and fun island frequented by celebrities with a very active nightlife. Restaurants would loop footage of athletes and Hollywood celebrities seen on the island. Plenty of the shirts displayed outside many stores were those that said things like “Good girls go to heaven and bad girls go to Mykonos” or “Mykonos F*cks Ibiza”. Many stores and restaurants remain open 24/7.

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III. You Are Potentially Most Organized When Planning Your Travel

As a career professional or business owner, you get bogged down with so much to do for so little time. It happens a lot but you seem to always make time planning for your trips. Channel that skill for when you need it.

I’ll be honest, I sometimes have a hard time keeping my work schedule together but when I travel, I have everything organized so I can share it with my mom and best friend just in case they need to know where I’m at. In addition to being organized with schedule, you also become more organized with your budget.

IV. You are forced into situations where you have to meet new people who potentially speaks little English

If you speak another language, talking to people who speak little English isn’t too much of a challenge. You’ll know how to simplify your sentences enough to get your point across. If you don’t have the luxury of speaking another language, you will quickly learn how to rephrase your sentences to simplify your message.

This skill is used in marketing many times. We often start with convoluted brand messages that need to be simplified. The more you talk to the locals the more you find out exactly how they process your messages. If you don’t adjust your communication to the recipient’s level of understanding then you won’t be able to continue your conversation.

I eventually learned that some of the best words to learn in another language are greeting words, thank you, excuse me, and do you speak English?

V.  Curate beautiful content for social media

We all know that social media is one of the top ways that business owners can get the word out about their brand. I learned that beautiful photos taken during travels typically gets more visibility. The state-of-the-art smart phones can take stunning photos. Sometimes, it’s as good as the high definition cameras.

here are some great photos I took from my recent trip that I’ve turned into social media content.

 

I was going to write about my travel tips to Greece but I have to exercise discipline and focus this blog on marketing and business. If you are reading this and would like tips on traveling to Athens, Santorini, and Mykonos, feel free to message me.

I encourage you to travel and to travel solo at least once. Experience different cultures and surround yourself with beautiful and inspiring scenery. It will make you a better person and a more resilient and creative business owner.

5 Social Media Myths that Cripple Business Owners and Entrepreneurs

What the what????!!!! So many entrepreneurs, especially the Baby Boomers and the mature Gen X, have been misinformed or started to believe their excuses. The one true fact about social media is it costs less than print, tv, or radio advertising. Another fact is that it doesn’t cost to open an account. So if you are one of those entrepreneurs who still haven’t utilized the social media accounts you started or haven’t even opened an account at all, then I hope this inspires or motivates you.

SOCIAL MEDIA MYTH #1: Social Media are for techies.

Social Media is multifaceted! There are parts of social media that are more advanced but the truth is this, it is all about knowing what to say at the right time! Now, is there anything technical about that? It’s as simple as typing and pushing the post button. That is the most basic skill that Social Media requires.

There are also so many supporting apps that can assist you in editing photos, automating posts, editing videos and so much more. Click here to read all about my top 10 apps.

SOCIAL MEDIA MYTH #2: Facebook is dying (or dead).

Wow! Whoever said this either works for SnapChat or simply don’t want you to succeed. Please don’t believe everything people say especially if Social Media is not their expertise.

Well, I’m happy to say that Facebook is ever-growing and so much stronger than before. Their analytics and business features are so user-friendly. Having bought Instagram, they have definitely dominated the Social media platform. Now, Twitter on the other hand is in big trouble.

As of April 2017, Facebook currently has the highest following! Keeping in mind that Facebook, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger (2nd to the last icon)  are all owned by Mark Zuckerberg.

Image result for social media users statistics 2017

SOCIAL MEDIA MYTH #3: “I don’t have time for Social Media”

Yes you do and you cannot afford NOT to be on social media! It might take you a little longer to learn if there is a learning curve but it’s called a “curve” for a reason! Take the few hours to learn and then spend less time than expected. Of course social media experts (like me – shameless plug :)) spend a lot of time on our pages and client’s pages. As a business owner, you can spend anywhere from 2-4 hours per week on social media and you will be fine. Don’t lie, you already spend that much time browsing it anyway!

The average person spends 25 hours a week on their phone so you can spare 2-4 hours for your business, surely.

SOCIAL MEDIA MYTH #4: If I can schedule all my posts, that’s enough to help manage my pages. 

Unfortunately, you have to engage on social media. It’s called social for a reason! Spend 1-2 hours to schedule your posts then spend another 1-2 hours to engage on social media. Engagement simply means you are commenting back on your followers posts or comments or asking questions to get people to respond back to you. Keep them active! It’s a good indication that your followers are alive. 🙂

SOCIAL MEDIA MYTH #5: I can use Social Media as a sales platform!

You can use social media to sell but you may not get the results you expect because social media is actually more about soft selling. Use social media to educate your followers about your products. Use social media to engage and discover what your customers or potential customers are thinking or are into. Tell your story on social media and once in a while, no more than 25% of the time, you can post an item or two for sale. Lead them back to your website for hard sell.

The reason why this myth cripples business owners and entrepreneurs is they get discouraged easily when the items they post for sale aren’t selling. Then they start to think that Social Media is not for them. When in reality, they’re just not using it efficiently.

 

I hope this debunking sesh (session) has helped you reconsider your stance on social media. Spend some time to follow and study national and international brands that you look up to and see what they post on their pages. One thing I know about entrepreneurs and business owners is that you are eager to learn what you need to learn or hire someone else to do what you’re not good at. Don’t cross out social media on your list. It is an important tool for marketing and branding.

5 Secrets to Maximizing ROI When Attending Business Conferences

Are you a serial business workshop attendee? Do you find it hard to take home actionable items to prove your ROI for attending business events?

In the spirit of preparation for my upcoming participation as a business speaker at the 2017 THE LIST TOUR, I want to share some helpful tips about how you can make the best of your time and investment when attending business workshops.

I have been a repeat instructor for THE LIST TOUR LA. I typically speak about social media marketing and the audience receive so much aha moments during my talk but I rarely see them implement any of the tips I give them. When following up with some attendees, I find that the biggest challenge is that they get back into their regularly scheduled program the very next day. I understand the challenges of ‘solopreneurs’ BUT if you spent the money and took the time to attend a workshop, you must quantify your return for your investment.

1. Come with at least three immediate questions. If you have a business, you definitely have challenges you are trying to solve, which is also probably the reason why you are attending seminars and workshops. You are trying to find answers to your challenges. Write down the top three areas of concern and find the right time to ask the instructors if the topic permits.

2. Have your elevator pitch ready! There’s no denying that you will meet new contacts at the event. You may even be asked to introduce yourself in front of everyone and what better way to get the biggest bang for your buck than to leave knowing you were memorable? Keep your elevator pitch to a minimum. Memorize two versions of your pitch – a 15 second pitch and a 30 second pitch. Anything longer is a drag when it comes to introductions.

The best elevator pitch is one that establishes your credibility and clearly positions your brand or services to the minds of your audience. In a room full of entrepreneurs who are looking to improve their marketing and social media strategy, my typical elevator pitch is:

“Hi my name is Sweeney Mae. I have been in the marketing industry for almost 15 years and have won several awards for marketing excellence and creativity. I am passionate about helping business owners improve their sales by at least 10% in the first month with creative social media and content marketing solutions. Your time is valuable and I can help you navigate through what you need to learn and cut the trial and error phase to a minimum. I am available for social media training sessions, brand message clarity or marketing mastermind sessions. I offer free discovery consultations to see if we are a good fit for each other. You can contact me directly at sweeneymae.com.

If I have to make it shorter, I use:

“Hi my name is Sweeney Mae and I am an award winning Marketing Director who’s been in the industry for almost 15 years. I am results driven and passionate about serving business owners the branding clarity and marketing strategy that best fit their lifestyles. I’m known for my creative tactics and I offer free discovery consultations to see if we are a good fit for each other. You can contact me directly at http://www.sweeneymae.com.”Sweeney Mae speaking at Unspoken Angels Empowherment event

3. Learn as much as you can about the coaches featured at the event. The more you know about the coaches prior to the event, the more prepared you are for thoughtful questions and connections. Visit their web pages and social media pages. Do your due diligence in vetting them so you have a better idea of who you possibly want to work with. Connect with them and sign up for the free information they offer. Most coaches have email subscriptions, blogs, or Facebook groups you can join where they share free advice. I personally run a marketing group called “Everything Branding & Marketing”. Feel free to join our conversations!

4. Open your mind to possible collaborations with other entrepreneurs or professionals in attendance. I cannot stress this advice enough! I have been to so many networking events and I somehow always leave knowing that I have a pending project or event that I will have to follow up on after the workshop. Collaborations are the biggest key to success in this genre. Imagine how much more customers you can attract if two complimentary brands work together? There is enough room for everyone and through collaborations, we reach a bigger audience and we create a bigger impact. Make it your goal to initiate a collaborative project with at least one person from the seminar.

5. Take notes and commit to at least three actionable items you can implement within 24 – 48 hours. Write down every nugget that gave you “aha moments” because our minds can play tricks with us when it comes to memory. You’re going to have multiple moments of clarity and you must write it down. Furthermore, you should write what actionable items you can implement next to those aha moments and review them as soon as you get home and add more notes. You will be fired up within the next 24 hours of a mind-blowing business workshop and you do not want to lose momentum. Commit to taking actions right away!

The point of attending a workshop is to disturb your norm. So, in addition to the 5 tips I’ve carefully laid out above, you must allot 6-12 hours after the event to sort through your notes, follow up with any coaches or contact, and draw up a plan of implementation for the adjustments you need to make with your daily routines, business strategy, social media strategy and etc…

I wish you luck on your next business workshop venture and I hope that this article has inspired you to improve your post-workshop routine. If you are in or near Los Angeles, I urge you to reserve your seat at the upcoming THE LIST TOUR. 

21 Killer Tips for Social Media Content

Social Media is one very intimidating aspect of marketing that technologically challenged entrepreneurs continue to find overwhelming. The truth is, Social Media does not need to be so technical to begin with. It should be more social as the name suggests. Think of Social Media as a way to let your customers “in” on how your brand thinks and how and why it functions to serve a need.

Social media has a lot more to do with branding than it does technology. If you start with that fact then perhaps you can stop feeling overwhelmed. Think of it as your own newspaper. You have to publish something on a regular basis – daily, bi-weekly, weekly, or monthly. You have to give your clients enough content to read, inspire and motivate with intent to inspire brand loyalty. Newspapers have different sections including current events, lifestyle, sports, politics, classified ads, celebrity news and more! How can you deliver a well-rounded branding message using your social media as a “newspaper” for your clients? What kind of content will this “newspaper” deliver?

This is why social media is more about branding than it is technology. Don’t get me wrong, once you get used to the idea of posting consistently, there are plenty of technological aspects that you can learn to measure the success of your efforts and/or automate some of your content. If you consider yourself a “newbie” then let’s start with understanding how you can leverage your social media to your advantage.

First thing’s first! Social media is not a place for hard sell. People are quickly turned off by that. People generally do not like to be sold but they are ready to buy something they believe will make them feel good, look good, or make life more efficient. As an entrepreneur who relies on sales, you can use social media to inform, educate, inspire, and motivate your potential existing and potential customers of why they should choose your brand. Is it environmental friendly? Is it better quality? Better price? Locally made? Whatever the reason might be, it is your duty to communicate that information in several different ways. I once heard that an average person has to receive the message seven different times for it to register. If you have a message, create seven different ways of delivery and utilize different social media channels.

I have listed 21 different ideas you can adopt to help activate your social media pages. Remember to post when you think your customers are most likely browsing on their phones. Before work, during breaks, after work and before going to bed are generally the best times.

  1. Research any national holidays and participate in a trending conversation about it. Quirky Holidays like Backwards Day or Dark Chocolate Day also make interesting post topics. Make it relate back to your brand. If you are selling dessert then jump on the bandwagon of strawberry days, ice cream days, or dessert days by all means!
  2. Quote any famous thinkers, authors or entrepreneurs. Post a photo of them and tell your followers how you can relate to the quote. Did that person or quote inspire you or help you take a big leap in life? Your followers want to know.
  3. Share more information about the functionality of your product or service. Share something most people may not know about what you sell. If you sell cupcakes, perhaps you use interesting ingredients? If you sell any hardware, maybe your customers need examples of when it could be useful.
  4. Post positive reviews from your clients and thank them for taking the time to share their experience. Most people love to be featured… with their permission, of course.
  5. Join in on any hot topic trend and share your thoughts as it relates to your brand personality. Is it the Grammy’s? Super Bowl? Halloween?
  6. Share any useful information from credible sources like Forbes, Entrepreneurs, Business Insiders and etc… Was there a recent statistics about women who drink coffee every day? Share what you find interesting!
  7. Weigh in on any current events but never lose the essence of your brand in the process. Most brands stay away from political opinions but others are very outspoken. For example, GQ has been very vocal about their opinion of President Trump.
  8. Tell your followers stories about your humble beginnings or about how you thought of creating a product or service. People love to know more about the “how”.
  9. If you author a blog, you can repurpose some of your old content and add quotes from your blogs to a stock photo or any photos you’ve taken at your own events.
  10. Post live videos at your events. People want to see what happens behind the scenes.
  11. Repost any content from your followers. It will make them feel special and it will give you a chance to showcase one of your customers. Engage them in conversations!
  12. Spice things up by using apps to edit your videos or create GIFs or “Boomerangs”.
  13. If you are on Instagram, try to use the same filter to create consistency with the quality of the photos that you post.
  14. Take photos of your products in the most creative setting. For example, if you sell jewelry, take photos of your jewelry next to a Starbucks cup, on a baby, in a garden, or hanging on a branch of a tree.
  15. Participate in hashtag conversations like #TBT (Throw Back Thursday) or #TGIF.
  16. Share random cute photos just to grab attention and offer something different on your timeline (i.e. cats, dogs, and babies).
  17. Create a contest and encourage your followers with a great incentive to participate and engage in this contest.
  18. Ask you followers for their opinion relating to any current issues, your brand or your product. Even a simple voting request can really engage your followers. Ask them whether you should buy a red couch or a white couch. Ask them which name sounds better.
  19. Share new information on anything. It can be about your product or something you saw on TV or read on the newspaper?
  20. Take photos at events you attend and share it with your followers! Keep in mind that you should never share bad, blurry, and dark photos. Always polish them with an app. Click here to view my recommended apps. 
  21. Instead of posting flyers of your sale, post your product and use the content space to share the message about the sale. Facebook is very strict about your graphics only having 20% text. The less text on your graphic, the better.

I hope these 21 tips can help you finally create content for your social media pages. Maya Angelou once said that “you never run out of creativity because the more your use it, the more you have!” Don’t worry about running out of ideas. As soon as you open that door, more ideas will flow! Best of luck!

Please let me know if these tips help you in any way! I would really love to know. Connect with me on Instagram or Twitter: @sweeney_mae.

JCPenney versus Beyonce haters… who won?

After BEYONCE posted her pregnancy photo, JCPenney caught a lot of “shade” from people saying that it looked like an awkward JCPenney photo or how she has millions but got her photo taken at JCPenney.

Guess what JCPenney did? They used Beyonce’s lyrics to “clap back”! They quoted some of the tweets adding “Twirl on my Haters” or “Ya’ll haters corny”.

jcpenney-vs-beyonce-haters

jcpenney-vs-beyonce

Hours later, JCPenney was featured on a few business blogs including Fortune.com , Dallas News, Daily Mail, and more for their creative responses. Some even tweeted “whoever is running JCPenney’s twitter needs a raise!”

Then today, JCPenney released a snap chat filter resembling Beyonce’s photo background and tells everyone to go to the nearest JCPenney store to access it.

JCP SNAP.jpg

So, who won? The Haters or the Hated?

This is an example of how  you can capitalized on trending topic to potentially boost your brand visibility. Great job JCPenney!

As an entrepreneur, keep your eye on what’s trending and don’t be afraid to jump in the conversation.