Making your Facebook ads work

March 21, 2018

FacebookMany “serious” businesses dismiss Facebook advertising. They think they understand the audience, and it feels too frivolous for the work they do/what they sell. I’m not going to suggest that Facebook ads are for every organization. I don’t believe any medium is. But if you’ve dismissed it without doing your homework, you may be missing a huge opportunity.

More than 1.4 billion people use Facebook to connect with the people, events, and topics that matter to them. But the beautiful thing about Facebook advertising is the precision of their targeting. If you want to talk to all 1.4 billion users, you can. If you want to talk to the people within a single zip code or even a certain radius of your business, you can do that too.

You can also segment your audience by demographics, interests or who they hang out with online. Without a doubt, the specificity of their targeting is one of the biggest advantages of this particular advertising medium.

If you’re going to use Facebook ads, there are some ways to make it work even harder for you.

Track Facebook ad traffic in Google: Be sure to use Power Editor in Facebook for your ads. When you’re creating your ad, you’ll see a field that says add UTM parameters from the destination URL. When you do that, it will let you see the traffic your ad generates in Google Analytics.

It’s not about likeability: One of the biggest wastes of ad dollars is when people use Facebook ads to generate more likes for their business page. Use your advertising dollars to move someone further along your sales funnel. Drive them from Facebook to your website or some other sales generating site.

Automate with ease: There are tools out there like AdExpresso that will allow you to automate many of the optimization options you have available to you. With AdExpresso you can do A/B testing and store all of your media, so it’s handy for building new assets, easy to understand analytics that come packed with recommendations on how to reduce waste, increase conversations and lower your cost per click.

Use lead ads: Facebook ads used to have a lousy conversion rate on mobile devices. 63% of people who clicked on a Facebook ad did so from a mobile device. But only 34% of them converted (download, sales, etc.). So Facebook has added Lead Ads to solve that problem. Now, when a mobile user clicks on an ad, all they have to do is tap a couple of times on prompts and Facebook fills out the entire form. This is a relatively new offering, but it looks promising.

Use daily budget pacing: Historically, when advertisers elected to create ads with daily budgets, it meant Facebook would spend exactly that daily budget amount each day. Usually, spending exactly the same amount every day doesn’t produce the best results; for example, tests show that allowing daily spend to vary slightly from day to day (based on the different opportunities to show ads each day) leads to equal or better cost per objective than spending the same amount every day.

Facebook now makes it possible to handle your daily budgets better. Each day Facebook will spend, on average, the daily budget that you specify. Based on the different opportunities to show ads to people in your audience each day, on some days they’ll spend less, and one some days more. But in any calendar week (Sunday through Saturday), they won’t spend more than seven times your daily budget.

Before you dismiss Facebook as an advertising medium – do some experimenting. The cost of entry is low and the potential for most organizations is pretty impressive.



Your voice is powerful

March 14, 2018

voiceOne of the most remarkable aspects of marketing in this era is that every human being is a publisher. We can write reviews that impact businesses. We can share our expertise to create a position of thought leadership. We can amplify the messages that others create/share by volleying their content to our audiences. Each of us has a voice, and it is powerful.

As I scan through my social streams, I watch people exercising that power and it seems that for many of them, they’ve missed a key consideration that comes along with that voice.

You are always on stage. No matter where you are, what you say or who you are with – it is being documented, and it paints a picture of you for all to see. Like it or not, people draw conclusions based on those glimpses into your thoughts, actions, and attitudes.

No matter what your privacy settings are – what you share is not private. Google never forgets anything and in this day of instant sharing, screenshots and phones that serve as video cameras — someone can always capture your most private moments and make them public.

We live in complicated times. Between the most polarizing presidential election I can remember, the Parkland shooting, the Black Lives Matter crisis, police being gunned down in the street, terrorist attacks happening with increased frequency and all of the other social issues – there’s a lot going on. Every one of these moments in history has the capability of inspiring deeply held emotions, opinions, and beliefs.

It’s human nature to have a very visceral reaction to these events. Heck, it’s human nature to have a strong reaction to the more personal events we individually face like canceled flights, a business deal gone bad or the loss of a loved one.

Today – some have a tendency to voice those reactions through all channels, regardless of who can access those channels. And if my social feeds are any indication, people often post those responses to these highly emotional events without thinking about how their reactions might be interpreted by the wide variety of people who see them.

I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t share your political beliefs, your feelings about the tragedies our country is dealing with or anything going on in your personal life. But I am suggesting that you remember you’re not just talking to a few people anymore. Everything you say, like, share or comment on becomes a reflection of who you are, both personally and professionally. We all need to have a very clear understanding of the implications of that sharing.

Depending on how/what you share – you may very well attract people to you/your business based on your common attitudes and beliefs. You may also, especially if your opinions are expressed in a very strong/pointed manner, repel people from you/your business. And it’s not just potential customers. It’s future employers (who doesn’t Google job candidates today?) and even potential employees.

If you own your own business, there’s freedom to do as you please. After all, no one is going to fire you. But there are many examples of employees being fired for what they’ve posted online.

None of us, from the CEO of a Fortune 500 company to the owner or employee of a locally owned retail business, can expect our digital activities to go unnoticed or to have no consequence. Every action adds to your brand – intentional or not. Keep that in mind as you’re about to fire off your next Facebook post, tweet or share that photo on Instagram.

You are what you share. And who you are has always had a huge influence on whether or not someone chooses to do business with you. Today, more than ever.




The review is in

November 8, 2017

reviewLast week we explored how customers have taken to the web, social networks and review sites when they have something to say about a company or any customer service need – good or bad.

This isn’t just a retail problem. B-to-B customers can complain about you on Twitter or Facebook and there are new review sites cropping up every day for professionals ranging from physicians to contractors and everyone in between.

I believe we need to add a whole new capacity to our marketing departments. We cannot afford not to monitor and respond to our consumers – no matter where they speak out. So how do you create this capacity in your company?

Conduct an audit: Do an extensive search and identify all of the places where your customers already post commentary, customer service issues or reviews. Then identify additional places that it’s likely they might post something in the future.

Monitor the sites/do searches to find additional mentions: You need to actively and regularly monitor all the sites you identified in your audit. For most of you, this doesn’t need to be an hourly or even daily occurrence. But at the very least you should be monitoring the sites weekly.

Respond. Every time: This is the tough part for many businesses. It’s easy to say thank you to the good reviews but what do you say to the one star or negative reviews?

You always start with “I’m sorry.” Saying I’m sorry doesn’t mean you are accepting blame or agreeing with them. It means that you are sorry they had, from their perspective, a bad experience. So you can say something like “I’m sorry you were disappointed” or “I’m sorry we didn’t live up to your expectations.” But the words I’m sorry need to be there. Up front and before you offer any explanation.

From there, you have a couple options. If you can’t really address their complaint or don’t know enough of the circumstances, you can continue with something like “We’re always disappointed when we don’t wow our guests, so we will definitely try to do better next time.” If you can address the situation, do so. “You’re absolutely right, we were not at our best Saturday night. We had several people call in sick and we were woefully understaffed. I’m so sorry your experience was tainted by our internal scheduling issues.”

Offer to take the conversation offline: You don’t want to carry on a lengthy discussion of the issue online. So offer to continue by phone or in person. “I’d love to get some more details about your experience, if you’d be willing to tell me about it. Would you call me at the office at XXX-XXXX or email me at”

Make amends if it makes sense: If you really messed up, why not ask them to give you another shot on you? “I feel terrible that you didn’t have a good stay. We’d like to remedy that. Please contact me at XXX-XXXX so I can arrange for you to come back on us.” And before you ask – no, this is not going to create an avalanche of bad reviews just so you give away free stuff.

Sign your response: Put your name and your title at the end of your response. You don’t want to be some anonymous employee. You want them to connect with you as a real person.

Why respond? You need to recognize that responding is both a customer service issue and a marketing function. You may or may not be able to change the reviewer’s opinion of you. But how you handle it (or if you ignore it) speaks volumes to everyone else reading the review.

Respond with authenticity, with grace and humility. But respond. Every single time.



They’re talking about you on social media

November 1, 2017

social mediaI think it’s probably the understatement of our generation to say that the troika of the computer, Internet, and social media has completely changed the way everyone does business. Even if you own a single location, Mom and Pop shop – the Internet and social media touch your business. Whether you engage there or not.

That’s the key sentence of this column. Whether you engage there or not.

In the good old days (translation – before the late ’80s) if a customer had a complaint, they only had a few choices:

  • They could keep it to themselves
  • They could call your local or 800 number to complain
  • They could write you a letter
  • They could complain at their bridge game, kid’s little league outing or during their night out with friends

Even if they did the last three in tandem – odds are, only a handful of people would hear about their issue. If you ignored their complaint (or never heard about it because they only shared it with their social circle) the damage was pretty localized. It was hardly a smart business strategy but it’s a mistake you could survive.

Fast forward to today. According to research cited in Jay Baer’s book Hug Your Haters (a great read – put it on your list!), people are complaining in record numbers but they’re not doing it the old-fashioned way. They’re taking it to the people.

No one is calling or writing to the offending company anymore. They’re turning to social media and firing off an email right before they head to the review sites. Today’s tools are so much louder and have an incredible reach. And yet, most businesses choose to ignore these complainers – leaving their diatribes and harsh words out there, undefended.

If you’re lucky, they are leaving reviews on sites you control or see on a regular basis, like your Facebook page, your Twitter feed or your Google reviews. Unfortunately, for you – odds are there are a few websites out there, like Yelp (it’s not just for restaurants – check out their professional services section) or Rate my Professor or that also allow disgruntled customers to vent their feelings for the world to see.

Depending on the study, between 68 – 88% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations by friends or colleagues. Despite the fact that people are much more likely to place a bad review versus make the time to praise a business, not all reviews are bad reviews. When consumers read a positive review, 72% of them say it increases the trust they have in that business. Really, when was the last time you spent a significant amount of money that the Internet was not a source of information as you made that buying decision?

So, tell the truth, have you been like most business owners and leaders and opted to ignore what’s being said about you online or have you taken a look? Like it or not, our world today dictates that you must care about online reviews. You need to figure out where your prospects go to read reviews when they’re trying to decide whom to do business with and you need to pay special attention to what’s being said there.

Think your customers would never complain because you deliver every time? One of the most eye-opening stats in Baer’s book is that 80% of businesses believe they deliver superior customer service. 8% of their customers agree. Clearly, there’s a disconnect that needs fixing.

Next week, we’re going to describe how to find those reviews and how to respond to them in a way that serves your business well.



LinkedIn Strategies

September 20, 2017

LinkedInOne of the most under-utilized social networks, from a business and marketing perspective, is LinkedIn. Despite boasting over 396 million users, the truth is that most of the users have no idea what to do with their LinkedIn account besides collecting connections in a random fashion. It’s actually a very robust business tool that you should be using to grow your brand, your network and your social credibility.

I only have space to dig into a couple of the main ways you should be using the tool but even doing these will put you leaps and bounds ahead of most.

It’s difficult to deny the importance of having a great list these days. Most organizations are using digital communication tools to deliver some of their marketing messages. But one of your largest list sources, your LinkedIn database, is missing out on all of those communications unless you have those connections in whatever email marketing tool you are using.

On the flip side, you have many contacts that you’ve made through the years that are not part of your LinkedIn profile. The reason that’s so vital is that some of those people may well be connected to someone you’re trying to reach. If they’re not a part of your LinkedIn network, you can’t leverage those connections to your advantage.

Here are the step-by-step instructions on how to easily get both done.

Import your email list into LinkedIn and send connection requests

  • Log into LinkedIn
  • Roll over the “Connections” from the LinkedIn menu and click Add Connections
  • From here, you can enter the password to your email address and LinkedIn will go into your email account and match all of your contacts up with their membership directory. LinkedIn will ask you if you want to send a connection request to all of the people who match up with their directory. The first time you follow this process, you’ll likely add hundreds of new LinkedIn connections to your profile.

Why is this important? As I said earlier, the more connections you have in your database, the better you can truly network and ask for introductions, etc. But beyond that, your ability to see leads in LinkedIn’s advanced lead builder is dependent on the number of people in your network (1st, 2nd and 3rd degree connections). If you expand your network, you will increase the number of prospects you are allowed to see.

Once you have imported your email list, remember to communicate with your connections regularly. You should start sharing articles, your company’s Facebook posts, etc. on LinkedIn. Remember, the more people that you have in your network, the more people who will see and potentially share your content.

Export your LinkedIn connection list and import them into your email list

LinkedIn is the only social media platform that allows you to export the email addresses of your connections. By adding them to your database – you can better lead, score and communicate through enewsletters, etc.

  • Click on “Connections”
  • Click on the gear icon in the upper right corner of the screen
  • Click on the Export LinkedIn Connections link under the Advanced Settings option
  • Click on the blue Export button and you will be able to download a CSV file with all of your connections’ data
  • You should then upload the CSV file to your marketing automation software or email tool of choice

Neither of these action items are a once and done type of a thing. You are adding people to both databases on a regular basis so you need to repeat both the export and import strategies at least quarterly to keep both sides of the system as updated as possible.


The reviews aren’t good

July 19, 2017

reviewsIn the “good old days” when a neighbor or work colleague told you how much they enjoyed a nearby B&B, movie or restaurant, it mattered.  Word of mouth has always been one of marketing’s most potent weapons.  Today – we have word of mouth marketing on steroids with online reviews.

Interestingly, in a wide range of surveys examining the effectiveness of online reviews, the data is pretty telling. Depending on the research, somewhere between 84-90% of us trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.

Nearly 9 out of every 10 consumers has used online reviews to influence a purchase and about 40% of us use them on a regular basis as part of our buying process. Most people read between 6-10 reviews and they usually read the most recent reviews first.

Why do we give perfect strangers the same credibility score as our neighbors and friends?

  • We believe in the aggregate. One bad review suggests a fluke or someone had a grudge but when there’s a pattern, we’re willing to believe the crowd.
  • We assume that the reviewers are people like us who have no axe to grind but just want to be helpful.
  • We give more credibility to the “average Joe” than we do to marketing or corporate speak. In other words – I want to hear what other people say about you, not what you say about yourself.

Given both the number of consumers who rely on online reviews and the level of trust they put in them – it’s not something businesses can ignore.   And this isn’t just about restaurants or hotels anymore. Whether you’re a dentist, restaurant, ad agency, professor or an insurance agent – between Angie’s List and all of the specialty lists out there – everyone is being rated.

Interestingly – businesses seem to be adopting the head in the sand approach to bad reviews.  Even though almost every rating site will allow the proprietor to respond, very few do.

That is a huge missed opportunity. Every business owner, CMO etc. should be tracking where their business is being rated and monitoring those ratings.  While the ideal is that you’d respond to all the reviews (odds are there are not that many), you should at the very least react to the negative ones.

Here are some best practices for responding to negative reviews.

  • Apologize. Use the words “I am sorry” to acknowledge that they had a bad experience, even if you don’t believe it was your fault.
  • Refer to them by name if you can.
  • Identify yourself by name and title so they know who is responding to them.
  • If there really was a problem – don’t sugar coat it. Admit that you blew it and what you’re doing to make sure the next guest does not experience the same thing.
  • After your initial response, if they reply – take it offline. While you want everyone reading the reviews to see that you care, you don’t need to play out the entire conversation online.
  • If you feel like you can win them back – offer to compensate them in some way. And no, this will not encourage a bunch of people to leave bad reviews just to get a coupon or free meal from you.
  • Talk like a human, not a corporate committee. Use conversational language so they know there’s a human being behind your comments.

No matter what you do – ignoring negative reviews is not an option.  They are too influential to your prospects and when they go unanswered, they’re taken as gospel and can chase away potential business. So settle in and try to make some lemonade out of those lemons.


Smart mobile marketing is scarce at best

May 2, 2017

Mobile MarketingAs people spend more and more time on their mobile devices (phones, tablets and phablets), it only makes sense that budgets are being shifted in that direction. But there are several challenges with mobile marketing that most advertisers still have not figured out.

  • The creative is not all that effective and is usually a banner ad that’s been re-sized for the mobile application as opposed to truly thinking about the mobile viewer and what would capture their attention
  • The ads are not action driven enough – they are more often than not, passive, brand ads
  • It’s difficult, without cookies, to track effectiveness
  • It’s tough to connect mobile ads to in-store purchases because of some of the same tracking issues
  • Targeting is a challenge – the accuracy of the existing tools are unproven

That’s why when mobile marketing is done well, it’s worth examining. Dunkin’ Donuts ran a campaign a few years ago that can teach us several lessons about how to use mobile wisely.

Their goal was to reach coffee drinkers who did not routinely visit a Dunkin’ Donuts store. They wanted to change their buying behavior and encourage them to visit a Dunkin’ Donuts rather than one of their competitors. They wanted to generate measurable behaviors so they decided to pair demographic targeting and location information, so they were speaking to the right people at the time they were likely looking for a place to buy coffee.

Dunkin’ Donuts targeted coffee drinkers using a third party’s proprietary software that builds behavior profiles based on mobile activity. Then, they geo-fenced the area around their competitors’ stores. When one of these coffee drinking/buying consumers crossed into the geo-fenced area – they were served up coupons for Dunkin’ Donuts.

This allowed them not to cannibalize their own customers because the ads were only served up near their competitors’ locations.

The ads were a call to action – a coupon. They offered coffee for $1 or $2 for a coffee/meal combo. Consumers could download the coupons for later use. More than a third of the consumers who clicked on the ad took additional actions. They either saved the coupon or they searched for the closest Dunkin’ Donuts location. But even more impressive is that 3.6% of the people who saved the coupons actually redeemed them.

As you might imagine, Dunkin’ Donuts is expanding this campaign beyond its original test locations.

What are the lessons we can take from their success?

Previous behavior is a great predictor of future behavior: The strategy surrounding your targeting is vital to a successful mobile campaign. This is not the tool for a broad branding campaign. People use their smart phones for information and to accelerate action. Your campaign should have that same focus.

Location, location, location: This is a feature of smart phones that most mobile campaigns either don’t use or use poorly. But it’s a fine line. If your ad is too specific or requires immediate action, it might freak out the consumer and feel too “big brotherish.” But you do want to offer them choices that they could either use immediately or save for later.

You can create your own measurement tools: One of the reasons this mobile marketing campaign was successful is that they plotted out multiple steps and options for the consumer to take. With each action, they could track the consumer’s responses and ultimately were able to tie it back to a variety of actions, from searching for a store location to making a purchase.

This is an area where both the opportunities and the obstacles are plentiful. We have to learn how to manage the obstacles – because we certainly don’t want to pass on the opportunity!


Do you recycle?

April 26, 2017

recycleI admit it – I hate re-inventing the wheel. There’s nothing more debilitating to a To Do list than the belief that everything you do needs to be custom created. In this era of content creation, we all need to be brilliant recyclers.

There are several advantages of re-using copy/visuals throughout your marketing efforts. We all know that repetition is necessary when you’re trying to implant marketing messages into your audience’s consciousness. So using the exact same wording and visuals helps accelerate that process.

In addition, it allows you to focus on the strategic elements of your marketing and stop re-working the words. If you don’t like the words (or visuals) well enough to re-use them, then why are you using them at all?

Here’s the biggest misconception about recycling your marketing materials. You don’t want people to get bored or notice that you’re repeating yourself. With all due respect – you wish!

Unless you’re a marquee brand like Apple or Disney, no one is so mesmerized by your marketing efforts that they’re going to notice. Even if you recycle the content several times in a short period of time. No one is memorizing your content. But after awhile, your key points will stick. That’s the point, isn’t it?

Here are some ways to look at your existing content as a source for future content.

Your website: Oh, this is a treasure trove of content for your harvesting purposes. First, look at your website’s navigational headers. You can assume there’s a handful of blog posts, newsletter stories, direct mail letters etc. in each section of your website. Identify key messages in each section and expound on them for future content usage.

Your newsletter: Have you been producing newsletters for a while? Go back and find the evergreen articles that would still be helpful to your audience. Cherry pick the best ones and turn them into blog posts, social media status updates or emails to your best customers.

Your videos: Have you been smart enough to leverage videos in your marketing? Transcribe them (don’t have time – it’s cheap and easy to get it done) so you can re-purpose those pearls of wisdom. If they’re testimonials, those make great visual sound bytes on social media and your website. If they’re how to videos, turn the content into blog posts or FAQs for your website.

Your owner’s manual/instructions: I know it’s not sexy but hopefully it’s written to be helpful. That’s great fodder for social media posts, website content, helpful direct mail pieces to recent purchasers and potential buyers.

Your speeches: These are a very strong source. Odds are, the content is pretty unique and only used for this one purpose. If you’re a typical speaker and use PowerPoint – you’ve got built in visuals and copy. Each key point belongs on your website at the very least. They probably will make excellent blog posts/newsletter articles or an entire direct mail series.

Remember that when you recycle, it doesn’t necessarily mean using the exact same copy in the same way. It’s certainly possible but you may have to change the length, add some set up to give the content a frame, or add details to add value. On the flip side, a piece of long content may need some pruning or it might make a great series, rather than a single piece.

When you start looking at your existing content, ask yourself if you could use it to create:

  • Ebooks
  • A Slideshare deck
  • Case studies
  • Pinterest board or Instagram series
  • Blog posts
  • Infographics
  • Social media posts
  • Newsletter articles
  • Direct mail pieces
  • Podcasts

Look at your existing work as the building blocks for your future work. You’ll love the consistency, the time savings and new tools you can create when you recycle.


Retargeting – Who Do You Have In Your Sights?

August 24, 2016

retargetingI remember the first time I noticed retargeting. I’d been online, checking the park hours before my next trip to Disney World. From that website, I did some work and then went to a CBS sports site to adjust my fantasy football team before the weekend.

As I was trying to decide which running back to play, I noticed a Disney World ad in the side bar. “How weird is that,” I thought, “I was just on the Disney site earlier today. What are the odds?”

Well today – you and I know that the odds are pretty darn high, thanks to retargeting. Only 2% of web visitors convert on their first visit. That means 98% didn’t do what you wanted them to do, be it sign up for a free online class, purchase something or download your free ebook. But thanks to retargeting, you’ll get another shot at them.

Retargeting is a cookie-based technology that uses a simple JavaScript code to anonymously follow your audience all over the Web. You just place an unobtrusive piece of code on your website (this code is sometimes referred to as a pixel). The code is unnoticeable to your site visitors and doesn’t impact your site’s performance.

Each time a new visitor comes to your site, the code drops an anonymous cookie onto their browser. Later, when your cookied visitors browse the Web, the cookie will let your retargeting provider know when to serve ads, ensuring that your ads are only shown to people who have previously visited your site.

Most people know about this kind of retargeting, called site retargeting. But there are other ways to use this technology.

Site retargeting: As I said above, this is when you place a cookie on visitors to your website. But not every visitor is of equal value to you. You can set it so they have to take a certain action or view a certain page before you place the cookie. That way, you know you’re only talking to your best prospects.

Search Retargeting: You are targeting individuals on search engines who have entered a search using key words or phrases that you’ve identified as being relevant to your business. This isn’t as precise as site retargeting so you’ll want to make sure your digital ads don’t assume more interest than there really is.

SEM/SEO retargeting: Think of this as a one-two punch. First, they have to use certain pre-determined search terms and then they have to also visit your site. This gives you a very narrow group of people, so you can be very specific in your creative that is aimed at them.

Email retargeting: This version of retargeting is based on actions that people take after they receive an email from you. Think of all the actions someone could take after they receive your e-newsletter, for example. You could create separate campaigns aimed at people who opened your email, who clicked on a certain link or who forwarded your email along to someone else.

Social retargeting: This type of retargeting gets your prospects earlier in the sales funnel. It is based on interest-based data points that allow you to create audience groups. Think of it as a “birds of a feather flock together” assumptive effort.

I’m hard pressed to think of a business that couldn’t use one or more forms of retargeting as part of their overall marketing strategy. We’re doing some variation of it for almost every one of our clients.

Not only does it allow you to talk to people who are more likely to become first-time buyers, but also it’s very cost effective when managed by professionals who know the ropes. If you haven’t experimented with this, you probably should.




Marketing idea: What does your customer experience?

January 26, 2016

marketing idea - what does your customer experienceThe concept of creating a memorable customer experience is nothing new. Companies like Disney, Zappos and Ritz Carlton have become famous for how their customers rave about doing business with them. Who doesn’t know the famous Ritz Carlton line “we are ladies and gentlemen, serving ladies and gentlemen?”

So the concept has been around for a while, but I predict it will take on new importance in 2014 and beyond. The digital fishbowl that every business lives in today makes every nuance of every interaction a potential powder keg. It used to be that focusing on the customer experience was what the big companies did or how the top 10% thought differently than everyone else. But today it’s not a nicety; it’s a necessity.

Here’s why:

Because one slip up can cost you plenty. Your customers possess the ability to skewer you with a single Facebook post or online review. It seems as though people are rather quick on the social media draw when it comes to taking a shot at a business that has done them wrong.

Just this last week, one of my Facebook friends shared a bad restaurant experience. At the beginning, she did not reveal the name of the establishment, but as people told their own stories and started trying to guess where she had been, she finally revealed it. Others started chiming in with their own horror stories about the place.

Guess what – I’m never going to eat there. Small example but it’s happening every day to companies big and small.

You know more, so they expect more. Thanks to all of the digital data we now collect, the databases we can build (whether we do or not), the very public lives people live and how easy it is to be connected to a business through social media, e-newsletters, websites, actual interactions etc.

Whether we’ve been paying attention or not, our customers are telling us more about themselves every day. They like our Facebook page updates or they redeem a certain offer. They choose to attend our business after hours event or they refer a friend. In every one of those actions is data. The question becomes – what are we doing with what we learn?

If we don’t create an amazing experience, someone else will. Let’s say you don’t own a computer and neither do your customers. (I know…fat chance, but go with me here) Unless you have no competition – all of this still pertains to you. You cannot compete if you don’t delight. You may not be at risk for the cyber blasting that review sites and peer networks allow for but you’re still fighting for their business every day.

Someone will figure out a way to make the transaction helpful, easy and/or fun. This affords them two things. First, it gives them the crack in the door to get in with your customer and eventually, steal them away. Second and perhaps even more annoying, it allows them to charge a premium price. So not only will your customers ditch you, but they’ll also pay your competitor more.

I don’t care if your product or service is better. I don’t care if your product or service yields better results. The truth is, people will settle for a good enough product or service if the experience of acquiring it is special enough. You cannot rely on just being better.

Right or wrong — your customer is judging you every step of the way. And deciding if they’re coming back for more based on that interaction.

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