How To: Write Great Customer Testimonials

Think of customer testimonials this way: If you were buying a product, who would you trust to give you an honest assessment of the product, a trusted friend or the company who wants to 866529_26072537increase revenue? A trusted friend, right? Well, well-written customer testimonials can function similarly to the “trusted friend.”

So, how do you turn feedback from satisfied customers into testimonials that others can trust?

  • Details: A standout customer testimonial will offer more than, “Product x is great!” It will offer the why and how the product is great. Even better are testimonials that show your product or service solved a problem for the customer, or that they overcame skepticism about your product or service to come to the conclusion that it is great. Use the details you gather to form the basis of your testimonial.
  • Language: Beware corporate buzzwords and jargon, they can come off as fake and contrived. Plain, conversational English is always best for testimonials – it’s easier for customers to relate to.
  • Credibility: Fake customer testimonials and reviews are everywhere these days. To create credibility with your customers, include as much information about the person who is giving the review as possible – with their permission, of course. The less anonymous the person seems, the more your customer will be able to relate to them.

If you follow these steps, you’ll have great copy to use on marketing materials, websites, direct mail and social media. But always remember, no matter how appealing it seems – don’t make testimonials up. Use honest, direct feedback from actual customers to craft your testimonials. Getting caught faking testimonials will damage your brand’s reputation and in some cases you’ll even face fines.

Meet the Team: Tessa Seigworth

I’m Tessa. Originally from Sharon, PA, I joined the Yearick-Millea team in April after a five-year stint in Ravens country (also known as Baltimore). Over the last 10 years, I’ve lived in three different states (PA, OH and MD) so it’s really nice to be back in the Steel City. Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, I really feel that there’s no place like home.946400_10101825230924624_245999528_n

I’m a bit of a tomboy – I spend my Saturdays and Sundays watching football and I never miss the chance to catch my favorite teams live. I have a slight shoe obsession. I’m also a novice chef and a book nerd. I love a good dance party. On September 21, 2013, I married my best friend.

Some other things you may be surprised to learn:

  • I have the lyrics to a Beatles song tattooed on my left arm.
  • I’m a sucker for a good BuzzFeed list.
  • If I’m going to remember something, I have to write it down.
  • I hate Halloween. But I dress up every year because my husband loves it and I’m a good sport.
  • I believe that ice cream cures everything. Everything.
  • I watch the news every night. If I don’t spend 30 minutes with Brian Williams, it throws off my whole routine.

If you want to learn more about me and find out what I’m up to next, follow me on Twitter @TessaKaye.

Writing Effective Email Pitches

Think you have the perfect story for a reporter? You just might have the angle that they are looking for, but how do you go about pitching that story to a reporter? There’s no such thing as a perfect pitch email, but consider the following tips and rules of etiquette to successfully work with a reporter.Untitled

  • Subject Line: It’s important to give the most important information in the subject line of your email. Be as short, concise and relevant as possible or you risk having your email deleted. Show excitement, but remember not to use capital letters, which comes across as yelling through email. It may help to craft a subject line after you’ve drafted the body of the email.
  • Opening Sentence: Obviously, the first sentence of your email should be compelling. Get to the point quickly. This is your opportunity to further explain your subject line and explain why it should be interesting to a reporter (and their readers). Usually, explaining how it will affect the readers will grab the attention of a reporter.
  • Body: Use the body of the email to educate a reporter on the information you are offering. You’ve probably already explained the “who” and “what,” so begin to answer the where, when and how. This section lets you tell a reporter why the story is newsworthy. Also consider including a call to action to let the reporter know what to do and who to contact if they are interested in the story you are pitching.

In general, keep a pitch email as simple as possible. Backgrounds and fancy fonts really aren’t necessary, and of course, check for spelling errors. If you intend on including an attachment, make sure to double check that the attachment is actually there. Remember, there is no guarantee that the reporter will be interested in your story, but always remain polite. Say “please” and “thank you” – and make sure any future correspondence receives a prompt reply.

 

 

Twitter’s Direct Message (DM) Changes

Earlier this week, Twitter announced it’s changing the way Direct Messages (DM) work. In the past, both users had to follow each other, now; users can opt in to receive DMs from anyone, making this feature more like email.

What does this mean for you or your business?

For personal use, it is probably not worth the spam you would receive to opt-in. But for businesses this could be a great thing – Primarily because you wouldn’t have to be following a twittercustomer for them to DM you a complaint. This is great for two reasons:

  1. Since DMs are private, the complaint will be kept private and handled out of the public view.
  2. Your customer is saved this awkward exchange that I have had before:

[Brand]: We’re very sorry for the inconvenience! Send us a DM with more details so we can resolve this for you.

[Me]: Um, [Brand] you’re not following me so I can’t DM you.

The only thing to be wary of in this new feature is spam. While this is a great opportunity for brands to improve customer service, it is also an opportunity for spammers to flood your inbox like they can with your mentions, so be careful of clicking on links in DMs.

It will take some time to determine whether this will be a great feature or a hassle, constantly cluttered like your inbox.  For more on how this change will effect users, check out this Mashable article.

Marketing 101: Social Media

Marketing 101 is a series of blog posts in which we will explore a variety of different mediums, methods and strategies along with some basic ideas for making them work for you. We hope you’ll continue to check in with this series as we go and share your ideas and insights with us.

These days, it’s nearly impossible to get on Facebook or Twitter without seeing a brand you recognize. Everyone, from the mom and pop shop where you buy your lunch to the big brands we all know and love, is tackling social media in an effort to engage with customers and drive social-media-studentsnew business.

Unfortunately, many seem to think that opening a Facebook page and posting a few status updates are enough to make their efforts successful – As many brands have learned; social media marketing is not that easy. Here are the five most basic things every brand should consider before diving head first into social media:

  1. Choose your channels: You don’t need to open accounts on every social media platform available. Decide what your goals are and identify your target audience – Once you’ve established those, you can determine which platform (or platforms) is going to best help you reach them.
  2. Outline a strategy: How will you mix up your content? How often will you post? Will you share photos, videos or other images? How will you respond to audience members? Make these strategic decisions up front and reevaluate as your campaign progresses. Think of your social media plan as a living thing – It needs to be nurtured and updated as trends, platforms and goals change.
  3. Share and interact: The key word in social media is social. You should be engaging in conversations with audience members and sharing content that encourages them to interact with you. You want to foster relationships with your audience, not bore them to death with constant, canned marketing messages.
  4. Give up control: Despite your best efforts, it may be impossible to avoid disgruntled customers or competitors speaking negatively about your brand. Unfortunately, you can’t control what others say. What you can do is respond kindly to negative posts and share information that will allow others to make their own decisions about your brand.
  5. Keep learning: Social media is constantly changing. If you stay active, you’ll be able to pick up on changes as they occur and adjust your strategy to those changes. You can also stay on top of platform updates and other social media trends by following online publications like Mashable.

Social media is a great way to help spread your brand’s message, engage with your audience and drive new business. But before you can do these things, it’s imperative that you have a plan in place. Like any marketing initiative, social media is not something to be taken lightly – And it’s not for everyone. If you’re interested in exploring your social media marketing options or launching a social media campaign of your own, give us a call.

Meet the Team: Ian Faight

If you’ve called our office over the last six years, chances are you’ve heard my vocals greet you. Today, I’m blogging to share a little bit about the guy on the other end of the line.

IanIt’s my favorite time of the year: fall. There’s nothing better than the cool air, bonfires, and the vast selection of Oktoberfest beers. With fall also comes the start of the football and hockey seasons. I’m a Penn State grad, so you know I’m a huge fan of the Nittany Lions. I also root for the Penguins and Steelers.

I drive a Jeep Wrangler and I love it. Taking the top off and driving around is one of my favorite things to do. If I’m not out and about or watching a game, I can usually be found playing video games. Yea, I’m still a kid at heart.

Fun fact? If you know me, you know that I can have a conversation by speaking entirely in movie quotes or song titles. That being said, I watch a lot of movies and I’ll listen to just about any kind of music. Don’t get me wrong, I watch TV, too. I could sit here and compile a long list of the shows I watch, but my top-two are Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead.  I can’t wait until Sunday night to find out what Team Prison has been up to.

Choosing the Right PR Firm

Hiring an accomplished public relations firm is a tried-and-true formula for generating awareness of your company or promoting your individual products and services.  If you live near a major metropolitan area, there are hundreds of good local firms and skilled individual practitioners from which to choose.  Here are four ideas to keep in mind when seeking the best one for your business:

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Content is king.  In today’s multi-channel marketplace, PR practitioners have countless avenues for promoting your business, from traditional broadcast and print media to web sites, electronic media, social media, special events, brochures, newsletters … the list goes on.  Yet, for any campaign to be effective, the old PR fundamentals – sound strategy, creative thinking and sharp writing – still apply.  When interviewing PR firms, ask about the methodologies they use to develop content and campaign strategies for clients, and for measurable results that demonstrate success.

What’s their specialty?  Chances are your business specializes in something.  PR firms do, too.  Most concentrate on business-to-consumer or business-to-business accounts, and some focus more narrowly on specialty niches such as health care, professional services, automotive, education, high-tech or building products.  Find two or three with expertise in your business and talk with agency owners or executives – as well as the people who will actually manage your account – to see which have the best fit with you.

Size matters.  Big PR firms have excellent media contacts; talented, well-trained staffs and a wealth of resources, including the best seats for the local sports teams.  The downside is that their rates can approach those of a high-priced lawyer, even with less-seasoned professionals assigned to your account.  If you’re on a budget – and can do without a lot of client perks – you often can get great results with a single practitioner or small firm.  Many are run by well-established entrepreneurs who gained experience and contacts at larger firms before striking out on their own.  Not only are their rates reasonable, you’re more likely to work closely with an agency principal who will put his or her knowledge directly to work for you.

Ask around.  Not sure where to start your search? One good place is your friends and business contacts.  It is likely that someone you know has worked with a PR firm and gotten good results. If not, contact the nearest chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), American Marketing Association (AMA) or Business Marketing Association (BMA).  Of course, there’s always Google, too!

No matter the size, uniqueness or complexity of your account, there’s a talented PR professional out there with the skills, expertise and media contacts to help your business grow.

 

Responding to Negative Feedback on Social Media

If your business is on social media, occasionally you are going to come across an unhappy customer or a negative comment. Are you prepared to handle this situation if it happens?

Here are simple tips to ensure it goes smoothly:

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Click for image source

1)     Stay Calm – Your business is your livelihood and you are proud of it, so any negative feedback is going to feel personal, but you can’t let that influence your response.

2)     Don’t delete – Unless the comment is inappropriate, attacking, or violates the Terms of Service of your page or Facebook in general, do not delete the post. This will likely only serve to further anger the original poster.

3)     Respond Promptly – Respond as soon as you see the post or tweet. The longer it remains unanswered, the more it will seem to other followers of your account that you don’t care about customer service.

4)     Request to take it out of public view – Ask the poster to call you or send a private message or email– whatever makes the most sense for your company – to get the conversation off the page and to be resolved. Once it is out of the public view, it will soon be forgotten by any users who have seen it.

Just remember, whatever you do, don’t follow this example.

Marketing 101: Outdoor Advertising

Marketing 101 is a series of blog posts in which we will explore a variety of different mediums, methods and strategies along with some basic ideas for making them work for you. We hope you’ll continue to check in with this series as we go and share your ideas and insights with us.

Outdoor advertising has long been an affordable means of “getting the word out.”

Since the early days of civilization, society has resorted to signs, placards and posters to inform the general public about a person, place or event. For example, historians have been able to unearth advertising artifacts announcing events at Rome’s Coliseum, although we hesitate to conjure-up an appropriate image for that particular venue.

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Click for image source

Fortunately for today’s businesses, the use, coverage, and sophistication of outdoor marketing has made it much easier to include this media in a strategic advertising plan. A variety of outdoor locations and sizes are available – many along well-traveled highways and heavily populated areas – thereby exposing the message to the largest possible audience. Not only can these displays be produced on resilient, weather-resistant poster paper, but many vendors now offer the choice of reusable vinyl-wrap presentations – or brilliant illuminated digital displays – which can be customized daily with just the “click of a mouse.”

Speaking from first-hand experience, outdoor advertising is usually a segment of a total marketing package. However, depending on the message, targeting motorists, office workers, and shoppers on a monthly basis can often be accomplished through a well-designed, exclusive outdoor campaign.

One note of caution: plan your use of outdoor far in advance. There are many companies/agencies who are also vying for the best outdoor display locations and prices.