In the past, conventional wisdom held that people who had a ‘good’ experience with your company might tell 1 – 2 others.

But, if they have a ‘not-so-good’ experience with your company, they would tell 7 – 9 people.

The point was made.  Do a good job and it’s no big deal.  In fact, it’s expected. “Whoa, you did surgery and the patient lived to tell about it?  That’s excellent!”.  See, delivering ‘the goods’ is expected.  And, rightly so.

But screw things up.  Drop the ball.  Smash the customer’s expectations like pumpkins on Halloween . . . and you open yourself and your company to a LOT of  problems.  And in today’s socially networked world, the truth that ‘bad news’ spreads quickly and widely is more true now than ever before.

United Airlines learned this lesson the hard way after after mishandling (no pun intended) a damaged baggage claim.

It seems a passenger, a musician named David Carroll from Nova Scotia, Canada had his rather pricey Taylor guitar literally destroyed by some United Airlines baggage handlers during a stop-over in Chicago, IL.  Here’s how the new media covered it:

Now ________ happens . . . bags do get lost and damaged.  (Heck, United lost my bags when I was returning from Hawaii a few years ago.  Took them about 8 months but I did get them back. And the contents were intact!  Go figure.)

Back to the guitar incident.

David’s request for ‘compensation’ for damages (literally!) were not ignored.  They were refused! By United Airlines.  So, David wrote a song and produced a video about the incident and put it on You-Tube!  It went ‘viral’ and the word about how “United Breaks Guitars” is now more likely what people think when they hear United Airlines than anything about ‘friendly’ skies.

Here’s the actual video that’s now been seen by millions of people because of the PR debacle at United Airlines:

According to one analyst, the stock of United Airlines dropped about 10% drop in value following the You-Tube video release. Roughly about $180,000,000!  That’s a lot more than the ‘cost’ of making good on a damaged Taylor guitar!

The problem isn’t that ‘legally’ United was within its rights to deny the claim for reparations.  It was.  The problem is that the moral compass of the airline, judged by the public (uh, that’s why they call it ‘public’ relations) was deserving of a stiff sentencing.  And they sure handed one expensive sentence to United Airlines.

Today, the world is more connected than ever.  The ‘effort’ to spread news — good or bad — is so much easier than in times past.  That means you must be good to the hands that feed you.  You must treat your customers and clients with at least a modicum of respect and regard.  Why?  Because if you don’t, someone else — a competitor — WILL.  And if you get bad PR, more people will learn of your ‘crimes’ sooner.  And that . . . will not bode well for you.  So stay sharp!  Keep your customers happy and give them reasons to say ‘nice’ things about you and your business!

  1. “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”

Chicken-little was so sure the sky was falling that the entire barnyard was turned into a frenzied bunch of fearful characters.

There was no where near the basis for concern that Chicken-little claimed. But it didn’t matter. The survive-at-all-costs instinct kicked in and made every animal hyper-sensitive and act appropriately . . . IF . . . the sky was falling.

But it wasn’t. And neither is the economy, beaten up as it is, in a depression or a state of total collapse. It’s tough out there. No argument. But it’s not all that bad, either.

This is a wonderful time to do some marketing. Wisely, of course.

This economy is a gift! It’s your opportunity to focus on solid value propositions and service packages that are:

  1. clearly communicated,
  2. aligned around meaningful results, and
  3. ardently desired by your prospects

Oh yes, and listen to LESS radio and TV . . . we are what we hear and think about.  And if we get too much of the media talking about how the sky is falling . . . we’re more likely to believe it’s as desperate as they say.  Next thing, we get nervous and support a perception (it’s still reality, right?) of scarcity. That is not good for any of us.

Be a leader.  Don’t buy the media’s ‘message’.

Remember, it may sell papers but it is definitely not good for your mental health and future wealth.

If you’re wondering why there is an ‘old’ school that’s been around long enough to be ‘old’ in the first place . . . check this out.

It’s a short video on the fundamentals of good marketing for anyone in the B2B marketplace.

After you hear the message, based on an ‘ancient’ advertisement that’s still as relevant today as it was ‘back in the day’ . . . think about how you’re using the modern social media of today to answer the questions this fellow is posing.

You’ll do more business when you do!

Alas, it’s time to say good-bye to an old friend . . . “Forward To A Friend” to be exact.

Sending outbound email you hope will go far depends on your first-level recipients having easy ways to ‘share’ your message.  Until recently, the favorite method to do this involved offering a ‘Forward To A Friend’ option in your email.  But that is changing.  Rapidly.  Likely forever.

As this chart shows, Facebook is THE most popular option to use in this regard followed closely by Twitter:


While it’s not exactly, “Hasta la vista, baby!”.  It’s more like, “Move over . . . there’s a new option in town that’s taking over”  I’m talking about: SWYN or “Share With Your Network”.

An increasingly attractive way to promote your email is to offer not just FTAF (Forward To A Friend) but SWYN (Share WIth Your Network) as an option in your outbound email.

It makes sense.

With the same effort that it takes to send an email on to a friend (one person) you can use the increasingly common convention to post and share any email with your ‘social network’ via links from LinkedIn, facebook, Twitter, etc.

Read more

I write a monthly column for The National

This is an online weekly publication with all kinds of great information and great contributing writers and tons of really excellent resources for business people.  But . . . as a writer, I still have to help myself get the word out.

Enter a little bit of self-promotion!

I graduated from The University of Connecticut.  On LinkedIn, like many schools, there is a group of UCONN alumni.  About 4,000 or so strong.

When I write an article, I let people know about it and this group is one of many venues to do that . . . as this image proves: (I”m the most popular article here in case you can’t read the image).


I also happened to have one of the most popular (measured by ‘views’ of my article) articles at The National Networker the same week as I began to post news of my article in various venues online.  Coincidence?  Hardly!  It all happened . . . by design, not by accident.

Here’s an email I received from Adam Kovitz — the publisher of The National Networker shortly after I decided to see what would happen if I promoted my week 1 article even though the current issue was already in week 3.  In other words, I was competing with a 3 week old article against more current articles:

Yes, my week 1 article became so popular that I made it into the ‘top 5’ articles in week 3 — even though my article came out 3 weeks earlier!  And, not to brag, but I managed to attract more views than Dr. Ivan Meisner, founder of BNI pulled in that same time period.  Not too shabby!

I’m sorry to disappoint you Adam, but there’s no ‘Voodoo’ involved.  Just basic online PR techniques that anyone can learn and use . . . simply, effectively and very affordably.

If you’ll do a few simple things with your online media opportunities, you can get yourself some meaningful visibility with people who may be interested in what you’re doing.  Once you get visibility, you’ll get traffic and getting traffic . . . well, you know where that goes . . . straight to your bank!

To learn more details on ‘How To’ do this same thing for your business, come to Session 7 of The Marketing Club where we discuss and show you how to use PR and Word-of-Mouth Marketing to get you and your business noticed so you can get more clients.