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Employees Are Also Brand Ambassadors, Not Just the Executives

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Pinstripe has seen, all too often, the mistakes people make when posting on social media. Everyone makes mistakes. We get it. Some mistakes are minor, like the usual typos and a forgotten word or two, while others take on a whole other dimension that can cause a firestorm of negative feedback. Then, even worse, it goes viral.

For the most part, these mistakes are somewhat ridiculous. However in some circumstances, they can have negative consequences for nearly everyone connected. Unfortunately, the individual’s employer could be attached to their profile, and in turn cause customer backlash.

Employee handbooks have whole sections devoted to these issues. Plus, more companies are adopting them. So, why don’t companies turn something that’s perceived as negative into a positive? Encouraging employees to post the great things about the company can have a huge advantage in the social media race.

In the Past…

Bad things said about a company or it’s employees were talked about among family and friends and were rarely found in the papers, which only had a regional effect. However, because of technology, the word-of-mouth systems of old have taken on a whole new meaning. So has the phrase “spreads like wildfire.” Anything posted on social media has the potential to do this. There are so many social media outlets today that monitoring them in order to defend a company’s reputation has turned into a growing industry.

Education and Training

The trick isn’t monitoring, it’s educating. This goes beyond company policies on proper etiquette. Think about creating a brand ambassador program to educate and train employees on how to accentuate the company’s marketing efforts. Instead of having a neutral social media policy with do’s and do not’s, you are creating a positive force of brand ambassadors.

Below are some very basic steps to setting up your employees as brand ambassadors. The possibility of a substantial return on this investment could exceed your expectations.

  1. Communicate the Plan

Informing employees about expectations and repercussions will let them know exactly what the company’s vision is and how social media can highlight the company in positive ways. GE’s brand ambassador plan is a great example of how a company can increase customer engagement through employee engagement.

  1. Provide Guidelines

Your employee handbook should already have social media policies against inappropriate posts. So, they need to know what they should post. Examples are an easy way to answer questions about content before they’re asked.

  1. Permission and Content

You’ll need to reassure them that there are no repercussions for posting positive info and pictures. A little trust will go a long way. To help them along, you can have hashtags available and URLs for quick access on a company page.

Maintaining a Positive Reputation

When employees post good things about their workplace and services, people will take notice. This is especially true when bad things happen and the company goes into crisis management mode. If an overwhelming amount of positive information is out there, then that leaves very little for negativity to thrive on. A positive reputation is easier to uphold in the social arena, and employees as brand ambassadors are a great way to achieve and maintain it.

SMPS Emerging Trends in Technology Event

emerging trends in technology construction engineering architecture_newsa

Technology has advanced at a dizzying rate over the last decade and it shows no sign of slowing that pace. Feats that we could only imagine 20 years ago are a reality today thanks to tech like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). Science fiction movies have been using holograms and mixed reality for years and now those technologies are upon us. The Society for Marketing Professional Services’ technology event, Emerging Technologies in the A/E/C Industry, is a testament to that fact. We learned some really interesting things at this comprehensive presentation and panel discussion from some of Tampa Bay’s leading techies and then we learned how these technologies are being applied to the architecture, engineering, and construction industries.

From Cool Game to Business Application

Just a few years ago, virtual reality goggles and holo-glasses were fun, experimental gadgets that offered games, travel experiences, and trips to outer space without leaving the comfort of your living room. Soon after these gadgets became more mainstream, many industries, with the help of tech-savvy staff and forward-thinking executives, started seeing the real-world business applications of this technology. In the A/E/C/ industries, the applications are vast – and important. Imagine being able to do walk-throughs of a new building with the use of virtual reality, before the contractors even start working on the foundation. Contractors, architects and engineers can communicate about the nuances of a space before construction begins. This is a huge step for eliminating costly errors and miscommunication. Virtual reality is a project manager’s dream come true.

Use Case – Atlanta Falcons

When the Atlanta Falcons decided to build their new stadium, they hired our friends at HD Interactive to create a virtual reality simulation of the stadium experience from all perspectives, including the various seating levels, the 50-yard line, and the end zones. HD Interactive rendered the simulation using the architectural and engineering plans and created an application that allowed the owners and investors to do a virtual walk-through of the stadium. They inspected the experience from a multitude of angles and discovered that the giant television screens were placed at an angle that was extremely uncomfortable to look at. They were up too high so extended viewing caused the viewer to have neck pain. As a result of this discovery, the team changed the plans and placed the screens at a level that was more comfortable to view. Having the ability to change the plans before they began construction saved a significant amount of money and time added to the project timeline.

Many industries are applying virtual reality and augmented reality. If you had the option, how would you apply this technology in your business?

 

 

 

 

 

Retail Branding: Treasure Island Cigar Lounge

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The vast majority of Pinstripe’s clients are professional services firms – law, healthcare, architecture, technology, consulting, etc. Over the years, we’ve become pretty good at developing brands and crafting messages that work in those industries, but every once in a while we get a project that falls outside the norm which gives everyone a little shot of adrenaline and inspiration. The latest example is the rebranding of Ginger’s husband’s “retirement hobby” – a cigar bar on the beach.

When he purchased the bar, it had nine years under another name that we thought had a more retail connotation instead of a lounge to enjoy a fine cigar and cold glass of local craft beer. For a fresh start, and to highlight the lounge and to make it more ‘on the nose’ about the location (particularly for tourists checking Google), it became the Treasure Island Cigar Lounge.

Treasure Island Cigar Lounge

The logo was the fun part. Taking inspiration from local pirates, tattoos, a slight reference to his epic goatee, and Ginger’s fondness for octopuses, we developed a final, iconic brand for the lounge.

We don’t have many opportunities to work on consumer-facing, retail brands, so we enjoyed the creativity that comes with a fun project like this. So far, the logo appears on the web site, social media, menus, signage, stickers, coasters and t-shirts, but we’ll soon be producing ads, event materials and more. We’d love to see it as a mural!

Let us know if we can help you with a fun branding project!

Pinstripe Bookshelf: Creative Quest

I have never considered myself a creative person – at least in the traditional sense. I’m not a writer, designer, photographer, painter, songwriter or chef. In my career, I rely on my creative problem-solving abilities, and the “I know it when I see it” side of creativity when directing marketing projects, but I’ve always admired truly creative people. Those who create.

In my efforts to cultivate creativity, I often listen to podcasts and pick up the latest books on the subject like The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle by Steven Pressfield, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert, and Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces that Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Cutmull.

I’ve found my new favorite. Questlove’s Creative Quest.

I have been a fan of Questlove for a long time. Most people know him as the leader and drummer of the hip hop band, The Roots. In addition to their role on The Tonight Show, he has written several books including a memoir, has the most encyclopedic knowledge of music, has designed products, teaches, and is apparently quite the foodie. He’s one of the people I’d invite to my celebrity dinner party.

Creative Quest is an insightful journey through the creative process and the work of being a creator. Through personal stories and those of his famous creative friends, Quest covers finding inspiration, overcoming blocks, and honing the tools to not only be more creative, but to create better work. He thoughtfully explains the value of finding great mentors and building a creative network, and perhaps most importantly for artists, how to deal with criticism which can be “destructive to the creative ego.”

The first step in creating is re-creating – making a version of something that already exists. The first time I saw The Roots play a popular song with classroom instruments on The Tonight Show (I think it was Call Me Maybe back in 2013), I thought “how fun! how creative!” and with the millions of views these videos get on YouTube, I’m sure they’ve introduced new music to a lot of new listeners by making the songs fun and approachable. My favorite is the Sesame Street theme song.

One of the book’s insights that really hit me is the notion that we don’t know how to be bored anymore. We have access to entertainment in the palm of our hands 24/7. We’ve lost the ability to be quiet with ourselves and embrace boredom, which “represents pure, undiluted time in all of its repetitive, redundant, monotonous splendor.” Wow. What a concept.

I was also struck by a study he references that indicated that the more rested and alert a person was, the LESS creative they were at their task. When the mind is sharp, it is less likely to be creative. Huh. And all this time I’ve been defending my eight hours a night!

I am so glad I decided to get the audio version of this book as Questlove provides thoroughly entertaining narration that had me laughing out loud in my car. I can’t remember the last audio book that I ‘highlighted’ the pages of (pausing and making notes on my phone so I could go back to those sections). One of my favorite lines was when he told a story about D’Angleo and his songwriting, saying, “If you x-rayed his creativity you would find those songs in there glowing from his bones.” What a visual!

Everyone who will listen to me has heard my recommendation of this book. If you are traditionally creative or, like me, wish you could sharpen that skill, I encourage you to download the audio and treat yourself to some tools and inspiration. With a few chuckles on the side.

After you’ve listened, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Enjoy!
Ginger

 

Good Customer Service Isn’t That Hard

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Remember when getting something from an online store was a bit of a guessing game? Online shopping has changed quite a lot. And, I can appreciate it even more after a recent experience in a store that went sour.

The Customer Experience

I would say that buying something online has become a good experience, almost to the point where it resembles the in-store experience. Most retail websites provide multiple photos, sizes, dimensions, and weight. Checkout is quick and so is delivery. Plus, they have online reps that can answer quick questions, such as return policies and shipping. I consider this a good experience.

I have more expectations when I go to a store than simply finding what I need. A good sales associate can make a good experience great, simply by being nice (smiles are contagious) and offering suggestions when asked (knowledgeable staff). Going to the store also connects us with the brands we buy.

I think that’s still the difference between the two. The online experience always feel good, while the in-store one can feel great. Except when it’s not great—or even good. In fact, a bad experience makes me wish I had just gone online. A bad in-store experience feels like a bad investment, because my time could have been spent better. No one wants that feeling. This is why good customer service is more important now than ever before.

Good Customer Service

There’s not much to it. We just need to focus on only a few key points to have good service:

  • Friendly service is a must. I don’t want to be ignored and I certainly don’t need any attitude. And, research shows how 70% of all purchases are based on how we feel like we are being treated. Everyone has bad days, but they shouldn’t be taken out on others.
  • Knowledgeable staff that is available to answer questions. Odds are, if I’m asking a question about a product or service, it means I’m not 100% sure of it. So, when I need help, I want someone to be available.
  • Convenient and quick ways to pay. I don’t mind standing in line, but not for too long.

My most recent bad experience while shopping was because of an unfriendly service representative. There’s too much competition out there. Too many choices for me to take my business elsewhere. Their mistake cost them my business and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Be Polite, Be Honest

My bad experience only strengthens my belief in the value of good customer service. We can’t please everyone all of the time, but we can try our best to be nice and helpful. This also extends to managing some common marketing activities, like social media and customer feedback. When replying to customers, be polite, never rude, or misconstrued as rude. The best way to do this is to be honest. Admit mistakes. Provide alternatives. Give the right answer. Resolve problems in a calm manner. Your customers and clients will love you for it. That’s why good customer service goes a long way.

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