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creative concepts for effective communication

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Archive for the ‘marketing’ Category

Listing on Thumbtack

Posted by Vicki Moulton on June 9, 2011

You can now find Movick Marketing on Thumbtack.com here: Creative Concepts for Effective Communication. Check it out and tell your friends! It’s sort of like Yelp, which relies on reviews and traffic to spread the word and get you noticed. If you’re reading this and you’re a former client, I encourage you to give us a rating!

You know, if I hadn’t been cleaning out my suspect email folder this morning, I never would’ve found my invitation to join Thumbtack. (Lesson: Always keep an eye on suspect email… Something really important might be lurking there by mistake!)

Posted in communications, MarComm, marketing | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Humanizing your brand

Posted by Vicki Moulton on February 22, 2011

Borrowing an idea from a Mashable article I just read about preventing “badvocacy” (which is a new way of describing how certain unhappy campers can badmouth your business through social media channels), I’m thinking today about how brands can and have become completely dehumanized.

It’s easy to think of a huge corporation with a well-known brand as having no soul, as though everything were completely automated and run by robots. When something goes wrong with that company’s product or service, it’s easy to get angry at the machine. It’s not personal; it’s business. (Hey, didn’t Tom Hanks’ cutthroat bookseller character say that in the movie, “You’ve Got Mail”?)

So what happens when it’s your small business that draws the ire of an unhappy customer? And then, when that unhappy customer goes on Yelp, Facebook, and Twitter to complain about your company, how are you supposed to react? It certainly feels personal when you’re the only person behind your brand, like someone is mad at you–not your company, but you personally. It’s really hard to combat a growing chorus of online negativity if you don’t already have a personal association with your brand.

Now think about the positive side. If your business succeeds in making a customer happy enough that she wants to help other customers find out about you by singing your praises on Yelp, Facebook, and Twitter, does that feel like personal praise for you as a person or like good publicity for your brand? Any kind of feedback in this fast-paced online world reflects instantly on your brand, positive or negative. And that also reflects on you, the person behind the brand.

If you want to help your customers feel like they’re either shaking your hand in thanks or slapping your face in anger, put a human face on your brand. Post your photo on your About page, and use it as your avatar when commenting on posts and websites. It’s much harder for the viral feedback machine to go completely negative and out of control if your brand image is personal, warm, smiling, and human–just like everyone else.

Posted in communications, MarComm, marketing, messaging | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Making it right

Posted by Vicki Moulton on January 19, 2011

Most of us could whip out a story about a bad customer service experience at a moment’s notice. But when was the last time you told a friend about a company that provided really good customer service?

Here’s my happy-ending story about customer service.

A cute top I ordered online for my daughter arrived in the mail last week. She wore it for a few hours, and then I noticed that two of the five unique flower appliques that made the shirt so fashionable had fallen off. They were ironed on rather than sewn on, and the idea that something so flimsy had been passed off as great workmanship made me want to give the company a piece of my mind.

So I went to the website, searching for some kind of complaint forum, maybe an online comment form or something. I found the name, email address, and direct phone number for the customer service manager (and thought, wow, that’s unusual). I sent a message detailing what happened; this was during a three-day weekend.

Within a couple of days, I got a return email with an apology and a request for a photo of the shirt to see whether it was still in stock. (The photo I sent is included in this post.) Another email included a request for my address (I had purchased it through a third-party website). I replied with an email asking whether it would be safe to put this replacement shirt with the iron-on appliques in the washing machine. The reply I got stunned me: the replacement shirt we would receive, free of charge, no merchandise return required, would be specially prepared for me to avoid this problem happening again (hello needle and thread!).

Not only did this manager provide the right kind of customer service–solving my problem without making it seem like I did something wrong–she also went above and beyond my expectations by doing something special just for my circumstance, without my even asking for it.

This got me thinking… How often we forget that our clients are people too. Nobody likes to be treated like their problems don’t matter. If you’re the one who caused the problem, making it right is your responsibility. And if you can go that extra mile to ensure complete customer satisfaction, you’ll safeguard your company brand for the next client. That’s just smart business.

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Blurring the lines

Posted by Vicki Moulton on January 12, 2011

Well hello there! Remember me? No? Well, I can’t blame you for that. It’s not like I’ve been using this bully pulpit regularly.

I’m the first to admit that I’ve neglected this blog over the past several months. Part of my excuse is situational–moving from one coast to the other, getting through a second pregnancy while keeping my business going and making sure my toddler didn’t get into trouble, then having the baby just before Thanksgiving–and part of it is attitudinal, meaning most days I just didn’t put blogging at the top of my priority list.

Now that the baby is giving me longer stretches of sleep at night, I’m starting to see a third reason why I didn’t keep blogging here in 2010: the lines between business and personal have blurred to the point where posting something on Facebook feels kind of like blogging. But that’s a big lie because short, pithy little FB posts are absolutely no match for original thoughts and essays carefully written and purposefully shared on a business blog with a specific goal for a particular audience.

Case in point: I met my fabulously talented logo designer, Jenny Decker, through an online communications networking group. We completed a barter arrangement, meeting once in person, and then kept in touch via email. Then we became “friends” on Facebook, learning more about each other’s personal lives through postings and photos, and comparing notes on parenting babies and toddlers. Then I asked Jenny to join a small women’s entrepreneur group, further blurring the lines between our separate businesses and our personal lives. After that, she recommended me to one of her clients, who then hired me, and pretty soon I was reading her family blog and asking what she remembered about the last months of pregnancy while sharing my own toddler-raising advice and inviting her to read my birthing story on a personal blog after calling to ask how she invoiced a particular type of client.

So is this a personal friendship or a friendly business connection? The answer is both, and it’s the inevitable merging of these worlds that has so many businesses falling behind because they don’t know how to leverage these relationship-savvy social media tools.

If you’d asked me a few years ago whether I would someday have business colleagues in my social media network and actually develop real friendships using tools like Facebook, I would’ve said hell no. In fact, I actively avoided revealing my location, profession, and everything else about myself online in any capacity for many years. (I’m still unlisted in the local phone book–but that’s another story.) But I’m noticing that the people who steer clear of social networks are the ones who aren’t connected in any meaningful way to what’s happening in the business world today.

Yes, social media can be all about personal branding and marketing, especially if you’re using these tools to get more business. But it’s also about knowing where your audience, customers, potential employers, and colleagues (past and present) are spending their time and energy.

Dropping by the social media water cooler once in a while is good for your reputation and keeps you in the loop, at least for as long as those folks are sipping water. It reminds them that you’re still there, still interested, still part of the team.

Whether these people knew you way back when or just met you last week at a networking event, they’re all part of your ever-widening circle–what some might call your sphere of influence. It’s actually smart to keep these folks informed about your activities. Just try to keep the truly personal information (the embarassing stuff you wouldn’t want publicized on the evening news) off Facebook, or else your sphere will shrink before you know it.

So, in the effort to win back some blog readers in this new year, I invite you to visit my Facebook fan page and follow my posts (Twitter account to be revived soon) as I share my thoughts and experiences with clients, colleagues, and friends. We’re all merged into one group now, so let’s have some fun while we’re at it!

Posted in communications, marketing, networking | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

In praise of clever slogans

Posted by Vicki Moulton on September 28, 2010

You see them everywhere, those little taglines designed to bring a company’s purpose to life. Some have even been set to music (remember “plop plop, fizz fizz, oh what a relief it is”?).

If you’re a business owner, you’ve probably been through the exercise of creating your own slogan. But have you ever stopped to think why some slogans stick with you, even after just one viewing?

The slogan’s job is to raise a question, touch a nerve, or identify a need. The slogan is not your only marketing tool, and therefore it does not need to be all things to everyone.

The slogan IS…

  • memorable
  • an enhancement to the overall brand
  • focused on the customer benefit and/or key differentiator between you and the competition

The slogan IS NOT…

  • a definition/explanation of the company name
  • an explanation of the logo design
  • a literal statement about how the company functions

Think about some memorable brand slogans and how they say a lot with very few words (and remember that all of these companies hired big ad agencies to create these slogans–all trademarked and used here for illustration purposes only):

  • Nike: Just do it
  • Kaiser Permanente: Thrive
  • Avis: We try harder
  • MasterCard: Priceless
  • GE: Imagination at work
  • Allstate: You’re in good hands
  • ING: What’s your number?
  • Weight Watchers: Watch yourself change
  • Capital One: What’s in your wallet?
  • Taco Bell: Think outside the bun

I particularly like that last one. There’s something clever about how it takes an overused business term and turns it on its head while slamming the competition. (Or maybe it’s just time for lunch.)

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Posted in communications, MarComm, marketing, messaging | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Open for discussion

Posted by Vicki Moulton on June 20, 2010

I’ve posted a couple of discussion starters on the Movick Marketing FB fan page discussion board, in the hopes that readers would offer an opinion and get a dialogue going.

Topics:

These are hot topics among the marketing communications folks I know, especially one-person shops and small businesses. I’d love to know what you think, so please share your two cents. Thanks!

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Posted in communications, MarComm, marketing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Coping with changes

Posted by Vicki Moulton on April 16, 2010

What’s the difference between an excuse and an explanation? The answer depends on what you’re trying to achieve. If you need to buy more time, maybe build up a little sympathy for your situation, then that’s an excuse. If you need to clarify misinformation with a matter-of-fact statement, then that’s an explanation.

My excuse for not blogging recently has to do with a whole host of changes happening in my life, which have turned my attention away from the blog as a business marketing tool… but only temporarily. (Fear not: I’m still here, ready to work!)

When changes started happening about a month ago, I originally intended to take just a few days off from blogging, Facebook, and Twitter. A few days turned into a week. One week turned into two. And now here it is, mid-April already, and I’ve let myself fall out of the loop entirely. My good intentions were completely dashed to hell. Clearly I wasn’t coping well with the changes happening around me. And while all of this was going on, I had two computers crash and burn, culminating in the loss of three weeks’ worth of data and email. (Insert angry, frustrated expletives here.)

Sprinkled throughout these weeks filled with challenges were emails and phone calls with potential clients, meetings with colleagues and collaborators, and successfully completed projects for steady clients. So actually the work didn’t stop–just my means of communicating with the wider world.

Where does that leave me on this warm Friday afternoon? Feeling motivated to get back into the groove, glad to have posted something new here and on Twitter before the weekend, and intending to embrace those life changes instead of letting them derail me. Change is good. (Yes, it is.)

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Posted in communications, MarComm, marketing, networking | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Attracting the ideal

Posted by Vicki Moulton on April 1, 2010

If you’re having the kind of year I’m having so far, then you’ve probably been struggling a bit trying to find the right kind of client for your business. You know, the kind that appreciates what you have to offer, wants to work with you right away, and remains loyal for the long term. In other words, the absolute ideal.

I found this article by Angie Segal of Action Coach very inspiring. It’s reprinted here (in edited form) with permission.

“What Kinds of Customers Are You Attracting?”

How do you get the customers you want and deserve? Are you randomly stabbing at the marketplace, or do you have a plan for getting the type of customer you want to work with?

Here are some tips for planning to attract the ideal client:

First, decide who your ideal client is and write it down. What size are they? Where do they operate? What do they look like?

Next, describe this ideal client to everyone in your sphere of influence. Communicate this clearly. Then ask your partners and alliances to describe your ideal client. How they answer this question will tell you whether you’ve been specific enough.

Find out where you can interact with people who fit your description of the ideal client and attend those functions.

Finally, look at yourself and make sure you present yourself in a fashion that would attract those people. In other words, dress for the job you want.

Clarity is a key element in finding your ideal clients. Once you are clear on whom you are trying to meet, and your actions are in line with that, it’s easy to find your ideal!

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Posted in communications, MarComm, marketing, messaging, networking | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Pushing past paralysis

Posted by Vicki Moulton on February 17, 2010

Ever have one of those days that just feels “off,” right from the moment you open your eyes in the morning?

I had one of those days yesterday. And even though I’m aware that some of the folks I met at a networking event last night might be reading this today, I just have to be honest: I wasn’t in my usual rah-rah-let’s-go mode. In fact, I almost didn’t show up.

It would’ve been so easy to just stay home, avoiding the crowds, the hand-shaking, the quick room-scanning, the u-turns to avoid running into certain people. But I knew I’d regret that decision eventually. I also knew that this was an opportunity I could not afford to pass up, even if I was in the wrong state of mind to begin with.

As a small business owner, I’m particularly susceptible to feeling overwhelmed with a long to-do list and crossing stuff off just to give myself a break. There are no staffers to send to networking events on Movick Marketing’s behalf. I am my company’s chief ambassador. I can either accept that responsibility, and all the gripping-and-grinning that goes with it, or I can go take a nap and let my company drift away.

Pushing past that feeling of near-paralysis–getting yourself out there, keeping your commitments, honing that elevator speech–is critical to keeping the momentum going, especially for small businesses just getting started with word-of-mouth marketing. It’s never okay to give up just because you’re not in the mood.

After about 45 minutes at the networking event, I woke up and started to get into the spirit of things. By hour 3, I met some really interesting people, gathered some promising business leads, and wondered why I’d ever felt like staying home.

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Posted in communications, marketing, networking | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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