Is it Ok to Turn Away Customers to Save Your Reputation?

I recently heard a story from a mother that was at her wits end because her 1 yr old child wasn’t sleeping at all. After trying everything, she enrolled in a very well known sleep school. Unfortunately her child wasn’t receptive to the sleep school’s methods so she was advised to wait six months to see if his sleep patterns changed, if not then she should try another stint in this sleep school. 

Six months passed and still sleep deprived this poor mother called the sleep school to re-enrol. The sleep school remembered her child, which could be considered good customer service but then they told her they would call her back and never did. You see this sleep school has a very high success rate and if they let this child attend again and they still can’t get him sleeping then their success rate drops. 

Is this fair? I don’t think so. While it’s important for a company to have a good reputation and to be able to boast a high success rate, is it not more important to offer the services you advertise? What’s the point in being the best in your field if you’re turning customers away because they may harm your reputation. If you persevere maybe you and the customer will have the desired outcome. Wouldn’t it be great to boast that you had to try a few times but in the end you achieved the impossible?

I guess my point is, don’t look at the black and white of the situation, look at the grey area. A not so perfect customer or situation maybe a real boon for your business or reputation.

Training - Make it Count!

As with any company managing staff, training is an integral part of the business. Most companies believe that organising training is the responsibility of the HR department and this is correct to a degree. But what happens when your highly skilled staff are enrolled in training that really should be offered to entry level employees? This is not only a waste of money, its also a waste of time that your already experienced staff could be using to actually do their job.

Some of you are aware that prior to starting Absolute Marketing Communications I was employed by a high end consumer electronics brand. As part of my various marketing and PR roles within the company I organised divisional and company events. These included press launches, company and dealer conferences, corporate lunches, Christmas parties and other related events. 

I got an email from the HR manager one day advising that I had been enrolled to attend a one day course in event co-ordination along with some of my colleagues. I attended because I thought perhaps it was an advanced course and I might take something away from it that would help in the planning of future events and because I assumed that my manager was involved in this decision and thus thought it would be relevant to me.

Everyone was wrong on all counts. I attended this course with colleagues that had never organised a corporate event at any time in their careers let alone for the company we were working for.

I spent a day listening to a facilitator educate us on the basics of event planning. Don’t get me wrong she knew what she was talking about and while it was worthwhile for the other attendees, I had put this all into practice before. Her practical task was to pretend we were organising a children’s birthday party. Not to sound arrogant but I have organised events that require delegates to fly either domestically or internationally and ensure they make it in time for our event's proceedings. I could organise a children’s party with my eyes closed! Meanwhile my work was piling up because I’ve had to sit through this. When my manager asked me how the training went, I told him honestly it was a waste of time. When I told him why, he agreed with me.

My point is if you’re going to organise training, make it worthwhile. Don’t leave all the decisions to the HR manager. They need to be involved in the decision especially if their department is footing the bill but you need to tell them what your staff are capable of. If the training’s not right not only is the fee for the course wasted but it’s a days work your staff are being paid for to sit and be told something they already know. Think about involving your staff in the decisions regarding their training. They may feel that a particular course may be of value to them and enhance their value to your company. You want your staff to embrace the opportunity to learn new things not cringe every time they’re told they have to attend training.

Publicity Is Free, Isn't It?

I often have clients ask me to develop press releases with the sole objective of getting free publicity for their product or service. While generally that is the purpose of a press release, it’s not always the result. Often my clients are left disappointed because they haven’t been mentioned in the latest industry magazine or website. After all, there are countless posts on social media proclaiming that journalists want your story and its up to you to provide the media with news. There is a little truth to this but the bigger truth is: nothing is free and you’re not the only one with a news story out there.

Up until a few years ago I was employed by a high end consumer electronics brand. Every time I sent out a press release, whether it was to announce the release of a new product or to announce changes within our organisation I always got some form of media exposure. This sounds contradictory to what I mentioned earlier but it’s not. What I didn’t mention previously is that my team and I had formed strong relationships with editors, journalists and reviewers in our field for years. We supported their publications and websites with advertising so there was no question that we would get some form of support from them when we needed it. There were publications that we didn’t advertise with but still managed to get publicity out of. Again, it comes back to relationships and that we had a product they wanted to talk about. 

Publications have now dramatically downsized since the evolution of digital content. The information usually sought out in magazines can now be found in a publication's online version. This being the case, magazines are smaller. To make a magazine smaller they have to cut back on editorial content. What editorial space there is available is reserved for clients that support the publication with advertising. You can’t argue with the logic.

Now I’m not saying that press releases are a waste of time. They’re not. They play an important role in a business’ media strategy. They serve the purpose of informing relevant media that you’re out there and that you have a great product or service. If your product or service is innovative, fills a gap in the market or is just a great product you will get exposure.

If you truly believe that your product or service deserves to be exposed to the public there are some ways you can assist in the process.

  • Call publications and have a chat to the relevant journalist or reviewer to talk about your product. You may not get anything on the first call but keep in contact with them, build the relationship.
  • If you are approaching local newspapers, they want the product or service to be relevant to their readers. Make mention of how your product or service is available to the people of a particular suburb.
  • Consider doing some small scale advertising in a publication you want to be featured in. While advertising can be expensive, most publications will have an online presence, you may be able to advertise online for a fraction of the print price. You can then negotiate some added value such as guaranteed editorial.

These are just a few things you can do to assist in gaining media exposure, there is so much you can do for your business, product or service to get the publicity and exposure you need.

If you would like help in putting together a press release or a media strategy you can email me on arizzo77@tpg.com.au