Bonitamedia’s Weblog

Creating a lasting impression for small business

Real-life power of Social Media

Most people who know me, know I am generally patient.  I will take a lot before I snap – but when I do, look out, it may get ugly!  Well – ugliness happened today…

high voltageI have been having severe problems with my phone and internet service for the past 3 days.  Both are packaged together through Comcast Business services.  My decision to go with Comcast was pretty simple – they offered a great price, static IP addresses, 4-hour response time and most of all, they were a past-client.  It all seemed to make sense.

Well – I have had some serious service issues over the past year, most of which I let go without raising a stink.  Today I snapped.  My phones and internet have been more off than on for 3 days.  I was told Monday the problem was fixed.  I was told yesterday a tech would arrive to fix the problem (after 6 hours, not 4).  Tech shows up to inform me the problem is outside (already knew that) and another guy would be out to fix it.

This morning I come in to the office expecting things to be fixed – nope…  Now I am really ticked off…  I dropped calls all morning – one to a new client (hopefully doesn’t think I am bush-league).  Frustrating and embarrassing.  So – here was my answer…

Pull out the cellphone and tweet “Day 3 of no internet service from Comcast… so much for business class’s 4hr response time… anyone else find similar service issues?”.  Of course this ended up on Facebook as well.  However, things got much better from this point forward…

I received a tweet from@comcastbill stating this was “unacceptable”.  Turns out Bill is with Comcast corporate offices in Philadelphia.  I of course was skeptical – I had never heard of him – but @sellphone assured me he was legit.  Bill called me and agreed the issue should be resolved and communication should be better.  Within minutes, Bill Evans, a local manager with Comcast Business Services called me to apologize.  Mr Evans assured me the issue wouldbe resolved and a crew was on the way to handle it.
Comcast does a great job monitoring social networks.  I never asked them to contact me – I was asking the public for their opinions.  @comcastbill did a great job diffusing the situation.  Comcast’s internet speed is the best in our area, but reliability is key.  Lack of communication at the local level caused me to flip.  I thank @comcastbill for his handling of the situation.  I hope we never have to chat under these terms again, as he is genuinely a great guy and really does want to keep his clients happy.

Thanks Comcast, @comcastbill and Bill Evans for going above and beyond what was expected!

February 25, 2009 Posted by | SWFL Hodge Podge, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Impromptu 10-Minute Presentation…

Rolling the dice with some random ramblings..

dice on white tableAt this morning’s BNI meeting I was discussing different Social Media ideas with some members when I was asked to fill in for our 10-minute presenter because her material wasn’t prepared.  Never being one to turn away the opportunity to speak, I said “Sure – I can cover for you” without having any clue what to speak about.  Then it hit me – continue the discussion about blogging, Twitter, Facebook – maybe even talk about last night’s post.

Here are the random thoughts(in no particular order) I penned at BNI.  I would love your input!

There is a HUGE difference between Baby Boomers and Gen Y – besides age!  As an early Gen-Xer, I can tell you I was raised with a certain level of modesty.  However, today’s younger generation (Gen-Y and Millenial) are less modest.  You can tell by what they post online (both text and pictures).  They appear to be more comfortable with the “transparency” that the internet brings.

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility“(Ben Parker – SpiderMan).  As noted in my previous post, anything digital must be assumed to be permanent.  Anything you do, say or post is subject to immediate and perpetual scrutiny.  The power of Social Media is tremendous – use it wisely.  Knowing that we are rapidly moving towards “Big Brother” may actually create a more morally-conscious society, while at the same time, creating an underground society that is darker and more secretive than ever before.

What are the consequences if you hire a “ghost writer” to handle your blogging, Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter accounts?  Think about how well received you and your company would be at a cocktail party or networking function if you sent the equivalent of your sports agent or PR firm in your place…

All of these topics are blog-worthy (if not research paper fodder).  Thanks in advaznce for chiming in!

February 11, 2009 Posted by | Business tips, Marketing in SWFL, SWFL Hodge Podge | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A new way to keep fit…

It’s always nice to hear about a success story – especially when it involves overcoming challenges. That’s exactly what we have in Florida Fitness Coaches. The story begins with a 7-month delay because of permitting problems in Collier County and a contractor that was unable to deliver anywhere close to expected deadlines. Opening was delayed over 7 months…

FFC's Boutique Fitness Room

FFC's Boutique Fitness Room

Husband and wife team Damon and Laurel Moschetto opened their doors in January 2008 with a very simple goal – be committed to the client. Sounds pretty straight-forward, right? Well, considering most gyms – whether local or national – operate under the same business model: Get people to sign up, collect a monthly payment, and let the client fend for themselves. About the only similarity between Damon and Laurel’s operation and a typical gym is the equipment…

FFC’s typical client is 30-60 years old and, in the words of Kevin Spacey from American Beauty, “…wants to look good naked!” Each has different goals, and Damon and Laurel coach the novice to the world-class triathlete, and everyone in between. Focusing on each client, with truly personalized service makes these two unique. When you visit FFC, you’ll notice right away the difference – there is no loud music playing, the gym isn’t crowded, and the FFC team is giving individual attention to each client. This enables each client to reach their own fitness goals in shorter time. Using specialized equipment from well-known fitness companies like Polar, Damon and Laurel are able to monitor results in real-time, making sure you are working to your fullest potential both physically and mentally.

Florida Fitness Coaches blog is run by Damon (National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified), and on it you can find many great tips on nutrition, exercise and more. If you have specific questions, Damon would be happy to answer them via the blog as well.

Damon and Laurel are originally from Maine and have been married 14 years. Damon was a competitive athlete all his life and Laurel, seeing Damon’s passion for fitness, decided to go along for the ride! If you are looking for a place to bench 400#’s, you are looking in the wrong place. However, if you are serious about your fitness goals and want (or need) a true coach to help you reach your goals, then Florida Fitness Coaches is the place for you. Give them a try – you’ll be glad you did!

January 22, 2009 Posted by | Interviews, SWFL Hodge Podge | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

REALTORS and Marketing… How to differentiate yourself from thousands of “experts”

You know, there are many great and innovative things being done in today’s real estate world. The truly great REALTORS all have similar traits… They focus on their core competencies (listing and/or selling). They have chosen a particular marketplace to serve (first-time buyers, investors in single-family, commercial, rental and so on). They spend their working hours learning more about the business of real estate by surrounding themselves with like-minded peers. They mentor (but only a couple of students – they don’t take away from their expertise).

When the agent grows beyond the point of being able to handle the workload alone, an assistant is hired or duties are sub-contracted out, allowing them to stay focused on their main skill set (see above). The real estate market has been hit hard by many things – credit crunch, a massive collapse in values, consumer fear and much more. The way I see it, this is such a great opportunity for REALTORS to capitalize, grow their business and earn more money now than ever before. Let’s look at REALTOR marketing from a few angles and see if your business (real estate or not) can benefit from this…

First, Warren Buffet once said (paraphrased) “When people are scared, be greedy. When people are greedy, be scared.” This statement is very profound. Of course hindsight is 20/20 (those that know me know my thoughts on the collapse of real estate values – been preaching it since 2004) and everyone realizes now that all investments are subject to fluctuations in value. Real Estate IS NOT a short-term investment, however, if you are well-positioned to buy now, the cap-rates on rental property are looking much more favorable. REALTORS need to be catering to investors and first-time buyers. Listings are fairly easy to come by right now. However, not to differentiate yourself in business is virtually suicidal (William Bernbach). Try something different. LOOK FOR BUYERS! They are out there. There are agents making more money in SWFL today than in 2007, when prices (and commissions) were twice what they are now.

Leo Burnett said “The greatest thing to be achieved in advertising is believability, and nothing is more believable than the product itself”. Read that again and again, Then think about the product. What is the product? Is it the property? No – You are the product. Your marketing must be believable. Here is a great example. Back when I was in the industry, I was at a conference having a drink with a well-known real estate motivational speaker. A woman sat down next to him, introduced herself and handed him her card. His initial reaction (to put it mildly) was absolute shock. She was obviously in her ’50’s, but her card had a picture of her that was either 15 years old or had been so retouched you couldn’t recognize her. Truth in advertising my friends…. Lie about your looks and you have immediately broken the trust of your client. This has to be the single biggest mistake I have ever seen.

Of course, another pet peeve is pictures of you and your pet. Don’t do it – your client doesn’t know your pet, may not like your pet, might think your pet is ugly – whatever the case. You are promoting your services as a professional REALTOR, not a dog groomer or kennel service.

One last point before some ideas that do work… Professional REALTOR Associations. Every REALTOR must belong to the local Board. There are many clubs and other organizations available to join as well. Remember what you are good at. Use your time wisely. Before joining these other organizations, ask yourself exactly how this will benefit your business. Know the reasons, track them, and move in a different direction if it doesn’t work as expected. I have never met a top producer that spends any significant time at these other organizations. Most attendees are either affiliates (generating business with REALTORS) or agents that aren’t busy enough and would prefer to be social. If your goal is to be the best, consider how much time you invest here.

That being said, what works? First – look back at your client. Write down a profile of your perfect client. Age range, lifestyle, married, kids, etc… In most cases, you will find your prospects are educated and spend time on the internet. I would suggest stepping out of the typical marketing box for the internet and look at things from a new angle. First, don’t make the focus of your website “View All Listings Here” – boring! Every buyer knows every agent has access to the whole MLS system. They also know you, the REALTOR, knows how to locate their type of home faster. Your client is spending more time researching the area they are moving to. Chris Griffith in Bonita Springs, FL has a great angle that has been quite successful. Her Blog is not soley about real estate. She promotes what it is like to live in Bonita – from the perspective of an everyday person. Information anyone looking to move to the area wants. Not facts and figures, the EMOTIONAL aspect of living there. Linda Davis in Gales Ferry, CT uses a similar approach. People buying from these two do so because they reach an emotional connection with them even BEFORE meeting them. That builds a level of trust and loyalty that won’t be broken by the typical facts & figures REALTOR. Using a different angle, Chadwick Saunders has developed a unique niche catering to the short-sale marketplace and has branded himself as the expert in short sales. His clients not only realize he can deliver on the investment side, they also develop a personal relationship with each client, making him one of the most successful REALTORS in southwest Florida today.

Each one of these agents has developed a brand, an image and done so without spending thousands of dollars in every real estate publication known to man. Yes – you need to advertise your listing. But remember, just like an investment portfolio, you ad dollars must be spent in different media. Outdoor, out-of-home and internet are by far the most productive because they are different. Print, radio and TV will bring you calls, but are they the calls you are truly looking for? Be true to yourself, and that will carry over to your clients. Spend the time necessary to create a marketing campaign that will promote you and your core values/competencies. Consider hiring a consultant to assist with your brand (ask how by emailing me at jon@mobile-exposure.biz).

Finally, your emotions are easy to read. Believe 2009 will be prosperous, and it will. Believe it will be slow and you will surely fail.

Happy New Year!

Jon

January 2, 2009 Posted by | Business tips, Marketing in SWFL, SWFL Hodge Podge | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Epiphany of a Small-Business Owner…

Being heavily involved in the local business community, I know many people that own small “businesses” like myself. I have been thinking about the many trials facing this group of people lately and wondering how these problems can be solved. Of course, being in the marketing/advertising business, my initial reaction is to advertise more! But in reality, the issue is more fundamental than that. Yes – Everyone needs more customers, and all marketing campaigns act like the town crier – spreading the good news about your business when you have a well thought out campaign, and spreading the virus of poor marketing when your campaign is fragmented, poorly executed or under-funded.

All of this aside, I was having a discussion with my board about our “business” when one of them brought to light “we have a great idea, but we don’t have a business – yet.” Then it hit me like a ton of bricks… I really don’t have a “business” per se, but really just a great idea. The fact that any organization needs marketing is nothing new, in fact, mobile outdoor advertising really isn’t new either. What is new with us is our delivery method and how we calculate our impressions, exposure, etc… BUT – what we don’t have is the repeatable, predictable systems, operations and clientelle that a real business has. Hmmm… got me thinking….

How many businesses out there operate like mine? How many really don’t have a true structure to how things operate? How many have never taken the time to create step-by-step procedures so anyone can come in and take the reigns if needed? How many business would fail if the leader were to have an accident or get sick? How many businesses, if sold, would fail because systems aren’t documented? How many are sold “on the cheap” because the systems are bad? That brings me to the epiphany… Like many “businesses” out there, I am not a business, but rather a group of ideas that has yet to be refined or sorted out. Is that a bad thing? Does that make what we are doing or what another business doing less valid? Absolutely not!

Now that I have come to this re-realization (I have read the E-Myth by Michael Gerber a number of times, so I should not have to be reminded to do this), I need to create the systems, document them at an easy reading level (5th grade should do it) and most importantly, FOLLOW THEM! What does that do for me, or any other small business owner? Creates the ability to escape from time-to-time! If you are anything like me, vacations are filled with “Can’t you put the phone down for 5 minutes?!” or “Can’t the office survive without you?”. Not much of a break when you have to work while away AND your family time suffers because you can’t really break away. Stress levels go up. Productivity goes down. Work that can be done in 8-10 hour days take 10-12 hours/ day, 7 days/week. Kinda makes you reconsider the “business owner” moniker 🙂

There is hope for many of us though. It’s called a real Operations Manual, real Systems, real Procedures. And best of all, it’s not that hard! There’s an old adage a buddy of mine told me about working with wood – “measure twice, cut once.” Measure twice, cut once will save you time and money, as well as give you predictable results each and every time, with a higher quality product. Measure twice, cut once is what every business owner needs to apply to their operating manual. Whatever the task, do it right, write it down, repeat as necessary. Your product (which in this case is NOT what you sell, but rather your actual business) will become more predictable, easier to run, more profitable, more fun…

Remember, it only takes a few minutes more to do something right the first time. Make the choice to develop your business as a business, not as an idea. You’ll be amazed at the freedom you find!

Coming in a few days, tips on hiring absolutely the best sales people, with all the energy and desire you want them to have, WITHOUT any of the complaining you expect from a superstar-premadonna sales genius!

November 30, 2008 Posted by | Business tips, Marketing in SWFL, SWFL Hodge Podge | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Faith Restored! (well – at least temporarily)

Creativity in marketing seems to be a lost art. David Ogilvy once suggested that 1 out of 100 ads are decent (thereby implying the rest are average or worse). Campaigns seem to have lost their luster – until this morning…

As I do on at 8am on the 3rd Thursday of the month, I attended the board of directors meeting for the Bonita Springs Chamber of Commerce. It was a typical meeting, where we received updates on the various happenings at the Chamber and so on. Nothing special – not until the end that is…

I had a few minutes to spare and started talking to a friend of mine, Bill Shikany, from Walter Shikany’s Funeral Home in Bonita Springs. What I heard was pure marketing genius!

A couple of days ago, Bill received a call from Nashville, TN, from Chris Waters. Chris is with Sony/BNA Records and represents seasoned artists like Kenny Chesney to newcomers like The Lost Trailers. The conversation went something like this:

CW – “HI, Mr. Shikany? This is Chris Waters. I am with Sony/BNA Records in Nashville, TN. How’s business? Are you busy right now?”

BS – “I have a few moments now. How can I help you?”

CW – “Have you ever heard of WWGR Gator Country 101.9?”

BS -“Yes I have. Their offices are here in town.”

CW – “Here’s my dilemma. I represent a new country act, The Lost Trailers, and WWGR Gator Country has had their new single for quite some time and is supposed to be playing it – but they aren’t. Would you do me a favor?”

BS – “What did you have in mind?”

CW- ” Would you please have your driver get in your Hearse and drive over to the station. Get Justin Tylerr, the program manager and ask him to please put The Lost Trailer’s CD in the back of your car. Tell Justin that Chris Waters said the new single, How ‘Bout You Don’t is dead on WWGR Gator Country, because they certainly haven’t played it!”

BS – “Sure thing. I’m on my way”

Now, I know what you’re thinking, anything from the guy in TN has some serious b@lls for calling a guy he never met to do a favor. But the story continues…

Bill arrives at the station and asks for the DJ. Bill asks him for the Lost Trailers CD. The Justin responds…”was I supposed to burn you a copy?” “No,” says Bill. “Mr. Chris Waters with Sony/BNA Records asked me to come by and have you put the CD in the back of my car (points to the Hearse) because evidently it is dead.” Justin and marketing director see the car and realize what is going on. Within 10 minutes the new single is being played.

Bill Shikany and Justin Taylor

Bill Shikany and Justin Tylerr

Justin following Mr. Waters' instructions to a "T"

Justin following Mr. Waters instructions

Absolutely awesome thinking! Coming from a large corporation, I am truly shocked. Mr. Waters stepped out of his comfort zone and created a cost-effective, dynamic, sure-to-get-notice campaign that accomplished his goal – getting The Lost Trailers heard on the #1 country station in SouthWest Florida. All it took was a little creativity and remembering the old adage “nothing ventured, nothing gained”.

Imagine if we all had the guts to run with our instincts! I’ve been told that your “gut” reaction is always the best, your “first guess” on a test is usually right?

If you are interested in learning more about this group that Chris went to such great extremes to promote, please visit http://www.thelosttrailers.com

Chris Waters – if you’re out there, I just want you to know, I LOVE THIS! Let us hear how and why you came up with this idea, how you got hold of Bill, and more importantly, what the people of SWFL think of your new group!

November 20, 2008 Posted by | Business tips, Marketing in SWFL, SWFL Hodge Podge | , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Is bartering becoming more prevelant in today’s business environment?

It seems like a simple questions, with an even simpler answer. Of course more businesses are bartering. With cash-flow an inherent issue in most small businesses, and the need for goods and services unchanged, many are looking to bartering as a way to overcome that obstacle.

Media companies have bartered for years. I see it typically with restaurants trading food credit out for advertising. Makes sense – the hard cost for the food is significantly less than cost of advertising. In many cases, the restaurants receive 5-10 times the “value” in advertising in relation to the cost of the food. It also helps to generate new and repeat business for the owner and can help keep the waitstaff busy during slower months. But what disadvantages are there?

A lot has been written on this topic. The first that comes to mind is disproportionate value. I was working with a large fitness facility to promote the opening of a new location. They were looking to do 100% trade. In this case, it didn’t make much sense for me to do. May services run anywhere from $1000/month and up. They were looking to give me trade in memberships for as long as the signs were being displayed. At <$50/month for a membership I would be getting the raw end of that deal. In another case, a restaurant approached me about a campaign and asked if they could do a partial trade. This intrigued me – great restaurant with a superb reputation – exactly the client I was looking for!. They are uniquley positioned in our market to be able to provide elegant dining and seminar space. After much thought, we decided the best trade would be to hold marketing seminars in order to help promote their facility to the business community.

This is one example of both sides truly getting more value than is stated on paper. This should be the goal in any business transaction – make the experience phenominal – beyond a win-win for all involved. When bartering for goods and services, be sure to structure your deal so both parties truly can get more out of the deal than expected.

What pitfalls are there? If done correctly, there are only a few. (Now, before I go any further, I am not an attorney, nor am I an accountant. If you have questions, please ask your own counsel how the situation applies to you.) First, be sure to document with a contract and add the income and expense to your P+L. This will show, in theory, a wash in income, creating no taxable situation for your business. The big problem comes in when you barter business-for-personal. For example, you have a roofer come and fix a leak at your office and in turn the roofer receives something not related to his business (golf clubs for instance). This is a small example, but trading for personal items is frowned upon by the IRS. Be careful before you do anything to that affect.

I would love to hear your thoughts and some of the business trades you have seen work or fail.

J

November 17, 2008 Posted by | Business tips, Marketing in SWFL, SWFL Hodge Podge | , , , , | Leave a comment