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Marketing

Caffeinated ideas and views on marketing communications


Doing too much marketing?

05 Apr
2017
by Deborah Brody, posted in Marketing   |  No Comments

There’s a real estate guy who specializes in selling homes in my neighborhood. He is very eager to work with me. I know this because I receive marketing stuff from him constantly. I get a jar of (branded) apple butter on my doorstep every fall. I get a property report, hung on my doorknob on a quarterly basis. I get a magnetic calendar every December. All told, I get at least six direct marketing pieces from this guy every year. As does everyone in my community.

As a communications consultant, I understand what his rationale and motivations may be:

  • Gain/retain name recognition
  • Stand out from the crowd
  • Appear neighborly
  • Show he is local and understands the community.

On a personal basis, I feel this guy is making way too much of an effort to get my business. And I feel his marketing efforts are intrusive.

But is this real estate guy doing too much marketing? The answer comes down to doing some calculations (yes, there’s math involved).

The true test of whether you are doing too much marketing has to do with the value of a customer and how much you are willing to spend to acquire said customer.

The value of a customer

Your first calculation will be to determine the value of a customer. To do this, you, will have to calculate how much money a customer’s business generates for you, in terms of current transaction, future transactions, and also including the potential value of any referred business.

Your marketing costs

The second calculation you will have to do is to figure out how much you are spending on marketing. To do this tally up all marketing related costs such as printing, advertising spending, distribution, consulting/design fees, website, memberships, and so forth. You may also want to include your time.

Cost per acquisition

Your final calculation is to figure out your acquisition cost per customer. So say you spent $10,000 on marketing in a year. You obtained five customers from that marketing effort. That means  you spent $2,000 per customer acquired.

Which means

If the spending to acquire each customer exceeds the value of the customer to your business, you acquisition cost may be too high.

I don’t know how much the real estate guy spends on his marketing, nor do I know what value his customers generate, but I sure hope he has done this calculation. If not, he may be doing too much marketing.

 

About Deborah Brody

Deborah Brody writes and edits anything related to marketing communications. Most blog posts are written under the influence of caffeine.

Can they read it?

21 Mar
2017
by Deborah Brody, posted in Communication, Marketing   |  No Comments

Perhaps you have a great tagline or you have a fantastic, limited time offer, and yet you are getting no response. It could be that few people are enticed by your offer, or that there is little demand for your product, or, maybe, just maybe, it is that that they (quite literally) can’t see it.

What is it that you do?

Yesterday,  I was in my car driving behind a commercial SUV, which had the name of the company written in green letters on the back of the truck. But for the life of me, I couldn’t, make out what this company did because I could not read the line below the company name. I kept trying to figure out as I was driving a car length or so behind the truck. I finally came to a stop right behind this SUV, and it was only then that I was able to read the line saying it did plumbing. This company probably spent some money to have their company name, telephone and website painted on the back of their company SUV, and yet, it was done with such small letters that it was practically useless. Unless you were stopped right behind it, you would not know what it was.

If you’ve driven around during the day, you will have seen any number of commercial trucks and cars, each with the name of the company painted on the side of the vehicle. If the name and service are prominent, and easy to read from a distance, there can be big benefits. It  creates brand recognition. It can also be free advertising. Say your heating system is on the fritz, and you see a truck for a heating company, you may make note of the name, and even the website and/or telephone number.

Crammed with content, harder to read

Verizon FIOS recently redesigned its On Demand screen. Everything is now more compact (about half of the previous iteration), and all sorts of information is crammed on the screen. To be able to fit all this stuff on the screen, the font size was reduced. The result is that it is hard to read the titles of the movies. And they also added the extra step of making you click on each title to see more information, including cost. It has become very frustrating for me to deal with this new On Demand screen, and as a result, I am no longer going there to see what movies are available.

I am pretty certain that Verizon embarked on this redesign without consulting its users. I wonder if the company has seen any change in the amount of On Demand content users rent/buy now. Based on my experience, I would bet fewer people are getting stuff On Demand.

Can your audience see it? Can they read it?

You must keep readability and visibility top of mind when you design or redesign any marketing material. If your audience cannot read your material, or cannot see it properly, then they cannot interact with it.

About Deborah Brody

Deborah Brody writes and edits anything related to marketing communications. Most blog posts are written under the influence of caffeine.

Two common marketing #fails (and pet peeves)

13 Jul
2016
by Deborah Brody, posted in Marketing   |  No Comments

When you see the same mistake done over and over again, you have to wonder how people manage to keep jobs or their business afloat.

Marketing fail #1: Not sending emails from an organizational address

If you get an email, as I did this morning, from a certain Ellyn Fisher, whom I have never met, would you open it? I bet, like I did, that if you did, you would hesitate to open it if not delete it completely. However, I get so many emails from individuals in organizations, that I decided to open it up and it turned out to be from the Ad Council. So the email was legitimate, but this organization does not seem to understand how email appears in your inbox and why sending it from a staffer’s email address is a bad idea.

The best practice would be to send the email from the name of the organization. This is easily done in your email sending options, especially when you are using a email provider such a Constant Contact or MailChimp.

The second-best practice is to use an individual’s name followed by the organization’s name. For example, I get emails from Janine Wampler, ACES Communications. Those always come from the same individual, and they identify the organization so I know that it’s OK to open.

If you don’t understand that we are living in an age where each of us gets hundreds of emails a day, we have limited attention spans, and we have a fear of being cyber attacked, you should not be doing any email communication.

Marketing #fail #2: Not having a complete website (or not having one at all)

Last Friday, I was meeting some friends for dinner. There’s a new place that I had heard about and I did some searches to see if I could find a menu. The only thing available was a one page website with absolutely no useful information and a Facebook page, with even less useful information. We did end up meeting at this restaurant. We got there and were asked if we had reservations. Since we did not (by the way, it was 6:30 p.m. and the place was not full), the hostess told us our only option was to eat outside on the patio. Normally that would have been fine, but it was abnormally hot and humid and the patio did not even have ceiling fans. We took a look at the menu, which remember, was not available anywhere online, and we were very underwhelmed. The offerings did not make us want to brave the heat and we decided to go elsewhere. A couple showed up right after us and they too were offered the patio, and they also left.

A restaurant website should include all the information that diners need. This includes: hours, reservation policy, menu, special considerations (for example, in this case, the website could indicate diners without a reservation would be seated in the outdoor patio).

These days, there is no excuse for not having a working, attractive website. There are so many providers of build-it-yourself websites, from Wix to Squarespace. And there are providers that specialize in industries, such as restaurants.

What are marketing fails that you see over and over? Share them in the comments.

About Deborah Brody

Deborah Brody writes and edits anything related to marketing communications. Most blog posts are written under the influence of caffeine.

Does your audience get you?

11 May
2016
by Deborah Brody, posted in Communication, Marketing, Writing   |  No Comments

An exponential mistake?

Several years ago, when I was just starting out, I was hired by a new client to write a sales pitch letter. The letter would promote a hotel reservations software that the client was selling to small (non-chain, independent) hotels.

The client hated the letter I wrote. He didn’t even want to pay me for it! His main complaint was that I used language the hotel owners wouldn’t understand. Specifically, I had used the term “exponential growth,” and the client thought most people would not understand the word “exponential.” I was completely taken aback. To me, “exponential growth” sounded good. You’d want your business to experience it by simply buying a new software, right?

Whether this client was right or not about “exponential,” the takeaway is that you have to use the language that your audience will get. If your audience talks at a sixth-grade level, you can’t use university-level language and hope they understand what you are saying.

Trump gets it (or maybe doesn’t know better)

According to the article “Donald Trump Speaks Like a Sixth Grader. All Politicians Should,” by Allison Jane Smith and published this past Sunday in the Washington Post, part of Trump’s success in the presidential primaries can be attributed to his ability to communicate with the swath of Americans who have low literacy skills. As you probably have heard, Trump always uses simple words, and repeats them constantly.

Smith writes:

When speaking to or writing for a broad audience, it’s a best practice to speak at an eighth-grade reading level. More than 40 percent of Americans have only basic literary skills, according to a 2003 assessment. And even highly educated people prefer to read below their formal education level.

Adjust your language

In other words, speakers (and writers) who want to communicate more widely would do better to simplify. Using big words when most people don’t get them will only hurt your cause, perhaps exponentially.

Of course, if you are trying to communicate more narrowly, or to a very sophisticated audience, you will have to adjust your language accordingly.

Your job as a communicator is to make sure your audience gets you.

Have you ever read marketing material that you didn’t understand? Do you think it was a language choice issue? Let me know in the comments.

 

About Deborah Brody

Deborah Brody writes and edits anything related to marketing communications. Most blog posts are written under the influence of caffeine.

Feedback is not a synonym for review (customer feedback part 2)

13 Apr
2016
by Deborah Brody, posted in Marketing   |  1 Comments

Is asking for feedback the same as asking for a review? Nope. Not even close.

There’s a huge difference between feedback and reviews: First of all, each targets a different audience. And second, each serves a different purpose.

Feedback is about you (service/product/offering)

If you ask for feedback, you want to know what works and what doesn’t, (presumably) in order to improve the offering. Do you want to know what customers/supporters really think about you? Then ask for feedback.

Reviews are about your customers/supporters (potential and current)

If you ask for reviews, you are asking customers to share their thoughts, both good and bad, about your product or service with other customers.

Many organizations make the mistake of asking for a review when what they want is feedback and some ask for feedback when all they want is a review.

five-golden-stars-isolated-1142569-1280x640

You need both, but for different reasons

Organizations should try to get both feedback and reviews from their customers, but not at the same time or using the same method.

Feedback benefits the organization, because it provides honest insights meant to correct any issues.

Reviews are important too. They help with SEO, they can entice new customers, and they add credibility. Of course, not all reviews are positive, but negative reviews can serve as a red flag to businesses.

Do you want feedback or just an inflated review?

I am taking a course on Udemy (an online “school”). The course is super long, and I am almost finished with it. About half-way through, Udemy asked me to rate the course. I rated it three stars out of five, mainly because the course is too long, repetitive and somewhat disorganized.

And then I got this email from the course’s instructor (in full below, except I removed the instructor’s name):

Hey Deborah,

Thank you for enrolling in my course.

 

I noticed you left a 3 star review. Was there something specifically wrong with the course that I can help you with? If the course simply isn’t for you, I can surely help you get a refund.

 

Teaching on Udemy is part of my livelihood, and as you can see from the thoroughness of the course, I put a huge amount of effort into making it as useful as possible. I know the course could get boring from time to time, but I tried my best to be as thorough as possible for the beginner.

 

Udemy reacts very negatively toward 3 star reviews, and it tells them not to give my course as much visibility. It also hurts my livelihood generated from course sales.

 

If you can modify your review, that would be very much appreciated and it will go a long way toward helping me continue to teach on Udemy.

 

Once again, please let me know what was wrong with the course, and if you need me to get a refund processed for you, please let me know.

 

Thank you very much for your consideration,

Basically, the Udemy instructor wants me to give him a five-star review, because it benefits him, not because it benefits his potential customers.  By the way, in my book, a three-star review is not negative, but fair/middling.

It occurs to me that if reviewers are pressured to change their reviews, and provide glowing reviews for something that is not five-star worthy, it can create problems down the road. Say this instructor gets all five-star reviews for a non-five-star course. People sign up based on those reviews and they are then disappointed because the course does not live up to the reviews. In turn, they provide not-so-glowing reviews. The instructor contacts them and offers to negotiate a refund, like he did for me. In the end, he will make less money.

If instead, the instructor asked for specific feedback and disassociated it from the review or from the money I paid for the course, I would provide a critique. And if he were interested in actually improving his course rather than just improving the reviews, he would weigh it carefully and maybe consider incorporating my feedback.

So, ask for both

Businesses and organizations who want to improve, should always ask for private, anonymous feedback.

Businesses who want to build up credibility and SEO should ask for reviews. However, businesses need to be prepared for negative comments, and they need to have a way to deal with them.

What are your thoughts? Do you use reviews and feedback interchangeably? Do you solicit either feedback or reviews or both? How do you do it? Let me know in the comments.

 

 

About Deborah Brody

Deborah Brody writes and edits anything related to marketing communications. Most blog posts are written under the influence of caffeine.

It’s not always about the money (customer feedback part 1)

07 Apr
2016
by Deborah Brody, posted in Email marketing, Marketing   |  No Comments

Going by the emails I receive, some companies think that I don’t do business with them solely because I can’t afford to.

money-9-1238441-1279x850Every few weeks, a yoga studio I used to attend until my favorite teacher left sends me a dollars-off promotion. Come back, they say, here’s an $8 discount.

Then there’s the company that is always sending me discounts for handyman services.

 

And there’s a cosmetics company that sends emails telling me how I can get a free something or other with purchase (Only today! Only friends and family!).

It’s not about money.

None of these companies has any idea why I am not a return customer. They’ve never asked me, but I’ll tell you my reasons.

I haven’t been back to the yoga studio because I don’t like the teacher that is currently teaching during the time slot that is convenient for me. Additionally, I hurt my shoulder and I can’t do yoga right now.

I haven’t used the handyman company because I don’t have a current need. That’s not to say I won’t in the future, but there’s nothing (knocking on wood here) that needs fixing right now.

The cosmetics company just yesterday was offering me a free lash-extender mascara. I wear contact lenses and I never use mascaras that extend because it bothers my eyes, so even a free mascara is not an enticement.

But at least they are tracking.

To their credit, these companies have noticed that I haven’t been a customer for a while and they want me back. But they err in thinking that doing business is simply about money.

Here’s the thing: Getting customers back is not as easy as offering a discount or a gift with purchase. You have to understand what motivates your customer.

The decision to buy something or do business with a company is often about more than just price. There are other factors, both tangible (e.g., need, convenience, timing) and intangible (e.g., trust, satisfaction, appreciation) that affect whether you shop somewhere or buy a certain product.

Sometimes, you have to ask.

If you’ve lost business or aren’t getting repeat business, you have to ask why. Don’t assume that everything can be fixed with a dollars-off promotion. Companies are collecting emails to do marketing or to send reminders. Well, they can also send a survey or even a personalized email.

Imagine how much more effective it would be if the yoga studio owner sent me an email saying she’s noticed I haven’t been there in several months and she’d like to know if I am still living in town or doing yoga.

How do you track your clients or customers? How do you entice them to come back? Let me know what works for you in the comments.

 

 

 

About Deborah Brody

Deborah Brody writes and edits anything related to marketing communications. Most blog posts are written under the influence of caffeine.

How to make one of your biggest marketing decisions

12 Jan
2016
by Deborah Brody, posted in Marketing, Websites   |  No Comments

Do we agree that your website is one of your largest (if not the largest) marketing properties? If so, then read on.

When you are a solo business owner like me, you don’t have an IT department or a webmaster. And so it’s up to you to deal with your website. Last week I changed web hosts  for the fourth time in the more than 15 years that I’ve had this website. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while for many reasons (perhaps the subject of an upcoming post) and I am glad I did. Going through the process showcased exactly why it’s so important to choose the right host.

Choosing a website host is a crucial business decision

Since your website is your front office on the Internet and it needs to remain open and accessible at all times, choosing your web host is a critical business decision. There are dozens if not hundreds of website hosts (do a search and you will see), many offering dirt cheap hosting packages. The host you choose can have a tremendous impact on your business, and your decision should not involve price alone.

Here’s what you want from a website host:

Near perfect reliability. In hosting parlance, this is called “uptime” and you want to make sure it is as close to 100% as possible. If your host’s servers go down frequently, that means your website goes down frequently, which basically means lost business for you. And when servers are down, you won’t get email either, which also means lost business.

Fast website loading times. Website loading is partially due to your host’s servers (capacity, whether they are shared or dedicated) and partially due to factors on your website (number of plug-ins, design). According to my current host, the closer the servers are to your customers, the faster the website loading times. Website loading times may even affect your SEO ranking (read more about it here).

Good if not great customer service. If there’s a problem, you want to be able to speak to someone who can (and wants) to help you. You are looking for customer service that is available 365/24/7, and if you are in the U.S., preferably based here. You may also want to look for an employee-owned company, because the people you talk to will have a real interest in solving any problems you may have.

Clean record. Some hosts, due to their cheap rates, attract a lot of spammy businesses, which in turn get the host blacklisted by some ISPs. This is big. Your host’s standing can affect whether your emails get delivered (my previous host was blacklisted by Yahoo and my emails to Yahoo addresses would all bounce back) and even your SEO standing.

Ability to deal with your website specifications. You want to make sure tech support understands your platform. For example, if you run a WordPress site, you want a host that works with WordPress; and if you run ecommerce on your website, you want a host that can handle secure transactions.

Ease of use. My last hosting provider had two different accounts for me. One was a billing account, with a separate user name and password, and a “cPanel” account, for handling website administration.  If I needed to update credit card information, I had to log in to billing, and to change website parameters, to cPanel. To make it worse, you couldn’t access cPanel from the the main hosting website, but rather through an obscure URL you had received when you signed up. Needless to say, this was not easy or simple. It wasted a lot of my time too.

Here are three other important tips:

  1. Don’t rely on your developer/designer’s recommendation. Many website developers have reseller accounts with a website host, so it’s in their own interest to sell you that. Do your own research. There are several resources to help you identify a good host. I like SiteGeek. Check out reviews and see what people are saying. Are many people having the same issue? What is the main complaint? Are more people leaving a host than transferring in?
  2. NEVER register your domain with your website hosting company. If there’s a problem, they will be able to hold your website hostage. Instead, choose a separate registrar. It may not be the cheapest option, but it will save you hassle in the long run, and let you maintain control of your website.
  3. Have a separate email account on Gmail or something similar. Use this for the administrative emails that you get from your website hosting company and domain registrar. If your website and email are down you will still be able to access your stuff, particularly if you forgot your user name and/or password, or need to respond to a work ticket.

Remember your website is an integral part of your business and marketing efforts. Money you spend on your website—whether it be on design and development, hosting, listing—is a business/marketing expense that I can assure you will provide you a return on your investment. Cheaper, especially in website hosting, is just cheaper, not better.

About Deborah Brody

Deborah Brody writes and edits anything related to marketing communications. Most blog posts are written under the influence of caffeine.

How to alienate customers and lose business forever

16 Dec
2015
by Deborah Brody, posted in Marketing   |  No Comments

I needed pizza and water STAT

Last week, I was enjoying one perfect sunny day on the beach in Hollywood, Florida (it rained a lot in South Florida last week!). After going for a run along the boardwalk, I stopped into a pizza shop to get a bottle of water and a slice of pizza for lunch. There was an older man milling about waiting but nobody seemed to be at the counter. Finally, a guy appeared at the other end of the counter. I signaled him. He ignored me. I said “excuse me” and he ignored me. Then I said “Could we get some service down here?” and he said something like this: “in a moment, I am taking care of something else.”

What else could be more important to him than paying customers who wanted to buy something? Apparently, anything was more important. Right after that, this guy picked up something and went outside to put it in storage or something. He was not helping other customers and he was avoiding helping me.

Luckily for me, there are several pizza joints along the Hollywood boardwalk, and so I walked out of this one and on to next one. There, I was served a slice of pizza and a bottle of water in a flash, and with a smile.

We all have tasks galore

Here’s the thing: we all have things to do. We all have endless lists of tasks to do daily, weekly and even monthly.  Since we have limited hours every day, we prioritize those tasks. For example, if you need to invoice your customers, that task comes before choosing sandwiches for the holiday party. Perhaps party planning is more fun, but invoicing brings in the money that will pay for the party.

If we want to stay in business, we need to prioritize our current clients and customers. We need to prioritize the work that pays, and the people that pay us. And yet, we see businesses who are so busy chasing potential customers that they ignore current ones.

Losing sales

Or worse, we see salespeople who are too busy with tasks (to put it kindly) to focus on the potential sales that are right in their store. That scenario happened to me a few weeks ago when I was shopping for some furniture. I walked into a mega furniture store whose name rhymes with Carlo, and nobody approached me. There were plenty of salespeople around but none of them even greeted me. Then I went up to a salesperson who was busy not doing anything and asked her where I could find medium sized media cabinets (I described a very specific need). She shrugged. She didn’t seem know but what was worse is that she didn’t seem care to help me. Do you think I bought anything at that store? Do you think I am ever going back there again?

In the pizza place scenario, there was absolutely no reason that guy behind the counter couldn’t have come over or sent someone to take my order right away. What he “had” to do could wait an extra two minutes, but as a thirsty, hungry customer, I couldn’t wait.  That pizza place lost my business, not only on that day, but at any other time I happen to be in Hollywood Beach and have a hankering for pizza.

Priorities, priorities

Current business pays us now. And if we do a good job, it continues to pay in the future. Potential business must also be cultivated so we can continue to grow, but not at the expense of our current customers.

In the end, it’s all about priorities.

What are your business priorities? How do you communicate to your customers or clients that they are important to you?

 

 

 

 

About Deborah Brody

Deborah Brody writes and edits anything related to marketing communications. Most blog posts are written under the influence of caffeine.

Why giving thanks is a marketing win

24 Nov
2015
by Deborah Brody, posted in Corporate communication, Marketing   |  No Comments

During this season, and especially during Thanksgiving week, we see a lot of talk of gratitude. At least one DC-area TV channel is asking people to post what they are grateful for (and hashtag it, of course).

Thank you card

Those that do

I have been getting several email thank you notes—from airlines, rewards programs and organizations that I have supported in the past. It’s nice to get an email that is simply expressing thanks and not trying to sell or promote or convince.

And every end of year, I get a couple “Season’s Greetings and Thank You for your Business” holiday cards in the mail. I generally get one from my accountant and one from a company that painted the exterior of my house three years ago. I get so few actual printed holiday cards, especially from vendors, that I really notice them.

And those that don’t

On the other hand, I don’t get anything from the painting company that painted the interior of my house, or from the company that installed the hardwood floors in my house (a much bigger job than the house painting) or from the company with which I had a multi-year service contract.

Perhaps these companies don’t send any thank yous at all. Or perhaps they don’t value my patronage.

I have been thinking about this because I just had a new HVAC unit installed. It is the largest purchase I have made this year, and it was a hard decision to make. The company that sold and installed the unit was very professional. The salesperson followed up and answered a ton of my questions and concerns. The installers were on time and worked diligently, leaving everything clean and tidy. All the paperwork was in order.

But a week later, I have not heard a word from this company. No follow up to see how the system is working, no inquiry about my experience with the installation, and most surprisingly, no thank you for buying the product/service.

Polite, and meeting expectations

We don’t expect thank you notes from the grocery store (even though we probably spend money there more consistently and frequently than almost anywhere else) or for the vast number of regular transactions we all make during the year. But when we buy something big—a car, a house, a time share—we do expect a thank you.

Writing (or emailing) thank you notes is what polite people do when they’ve received a gift. And it is what companies should do when you’ve made a big purchase or done business with them. Because so few companies do it, sending a thank you is what differentiates them. It also shows, in a tangible way, that a company values your patronage. It’s a marketing win.

Do you send thank you notes to your customers or clients? If not, why not? If so, how do you do it–electronically or with a printed card?

And with that, let me say thank you for reading this post, and this blog. Have a very happy Thanksgiving!

 

About Deborah Brody

Deborah Brody writes and edits anything related to marketing communications. Most blog posts are written under the influence of caffeine.

How to sell 1000s of cupcakes

17 Nov
2015
by Deborah Brody, posted in Communication, Marketing   |  No Comments

You’ve heard of Georgetown Cupcake, right? In case you haven’t (seriously?), the company started in a small space in Georgetown back in 2008 and has now expanded to six locations, including stores in New York City, Los Angeles, Boston, and Atlanta, plus a thriving mail order business. The founders–sisters Katherine Kallinis Berman and Sophie Kallinis Lamontagne–even starred in a reality TV show for TLC called “DC Cupcake.”

But getting to a point where Georgetown Cupcake sells 25,000 cupcakes a day on average did not happen overnight. It took a lot of hard work. Katherine and Sophie shared how they did it at the Inc. Magazine/Capital One Founders Forum last week in Washington, DC, which I attended (it was free and yes, they served cupcakes).

The Georgetown Cupcake ladies shared a lot of information about what it really takes to get a business off the ground (working all hours, every day, and incurring a lot of debt for starters). Their success seems to be tied to how hands-on they are and how personal their motivation is (they learned to make cakes from the grandmother and wanted to recreate that).

They also shared some very interesting marketing insights. From my notes, following are  six marketing and communications takeaways:

Use data to drive your business processes and collect data wherever you can

Everyone keeps talking about metrics and analytics. Well, here’s why: data can fuel your bottom line. In Georgetown Cupcake’s case, they used shipping data to choose the locations where they have opened stores. The sisters say you need to ask yourself what information you need, and then collect it.

Prove your business model and have a good product before getting marketing help

You have to have something people want to buy before you market it. The sisters got great publicity early on because lines were forming out the door at the first (and at the time, only) Georgetown location. They were able to get stories in the New York Times and the Washington Post without public relations assistance.

Word of mouth is the best advertising

You haven’t seen ads for Georgetown Cupcake because they don’t advertise. Instead, they rely on word of mouth. Which is how they got those lines out the door in the first place. Which is what led to the major newspaper coverage. Which is what led to the TV show. Which has led to their success.

Use social media (and do it well)

From the start, Georgetown Cupcake has been on social media. First they had a Facebook page, then Twitter, and now Instagram and Pinterest. One of their early social media innovations was to announce a special flavor of the day which you could mention at the store to get a free cupcake. They are still doing it–in fact, I just checked and today’s free flavor is Apple Caramel. Why this works is that it gives people a tangible reason to follow, giving them “inside” knowledge. Katherine says she PERSONALLY handles their Twitter feed, which has 101,000 followers.

Stay true to your brand experience and mission

It was important to the sisters that each new store reflect exactly the brand experience that the first store embodied. They wanted customers to feel a certain way when they walked through the doors, whether in New York or Atlanta. Because brand experience is not easy to replicate, the sisters are not rushing to expand nationwide (although you can order the cupcakes to be shipped anywhere in the U.S.).

Focus on employee communications

Because the sisters cannot be at all the locations every day, they keep in touch with their employees constantly. They have a weekly internal newsletter, and they email each store several times a day. All employees are trained to understand the company’s mission.

In a world where cupcakes chains have come and gone, it is interesting to see that Georgetown Cupcake is still doing well. Perhaps it’s because the sisters are so involved and committed to their business. In any case, it was fascinating to hear them talk about their business.

 

 

About Deborah Brody

Deborah Brody writes and edits anything related to marketing communications. Most blog posts are written under the influence of caffeine.