Category: Everybody’s business

In case you’re wondering…

When people meet us, the second question they usually ask is, “What kind of businesses do you work with?” (The first question, of course, is about the ears.)

We work with all kinds of businesses. Local, national, corporate and grass-roots. Big business, small business. Big budget, small budget.

A quick peek at our client list would reveal:

  • Other advertising and marketing agencies
  • Government agencies
  • Artists
  • Manufacturers
  • Web-based service providers
  • Technology companies
  • Non-profits
  • Real estate  and housing professionals
  • Food and beverage/hospitality/tourism clients
  • Senior services companies
  • Builders/Contractors
  • Various professional service providers and consultants

The work we do at Big Ears Strategic Marketing isn’t limited to a few industries because our methods can be applied effectively to so many.

We don’t take every offer that comes our way, though. All of our clients have a few things in common.

  • We think they’re ready for what we offer.
  • They have a good feel for where they’re headed, what their goals are and who their clients are.
  • They take their businesses as seriously as we do.
  • They are willing to commit to deadlines.
  • We think they will truly benefit from what we do.

If  you have a business (or know of a business) that hasn’t quite hit its stride or is ready to kick things up a notch, we’d love to share our experience with you.

Give us a call and we’ll lend you our ears.

 

The Business of Sharing Joy

Sometimes being in business isn’t about money. Enjoy this inspiration from Grandma Pearl.

Putting our money where our ears are.

Whenever clients ask us to help them evaluate an opportunity, we walk them through a list of considerations. We talk about exposure, opportunity costs, potential benefits, competition and all kinds of important things.

But sometimes, we sense a client’s passion in something and we set our questions aside and advise them to do something they feel good about.

We like to take our own advice. We donate time to non-profits.  (Hint: follow us on facebook to learn more about organizations we support.) Current recipients include the Central Coast Bioneers Conference and Central Coast Funds for Children.

We are proud to be the San Luis Obispo County Bike Coalition‘s newest Silver Level Bike Friendly Business. We believe in the work they do and would like to tell you a little about them.

Their bicycle education programs teach traffic psychology and techniques that empower and protect cyclists of all ages.

Their advocacy raises awareness and participation.

They provide a great place for cyclists to touch base and keep their machines in top shape.

And, of course, they offer the Bike Valet service at local events. Seriously, what’s not to love?

We encourage you to support the SLO County Bike Coalition by becoming a member. There are various levels for both personal and business membership.

Also, be sure to tell us you’re a member when we do business together. Big Ears Strategic Marketing offers a discount to those who support the SLO County Bike Coalition.

We love supporting local organizations, but we’re not doing it alone. Many of our favorite businesses are pitching in, too. And, of course, our loyal clients and the referrals we receive allow our business to remain strong enough to support these local organizations.

Thank you for your role in making San Luis Obispo County a great place to live.

More proof…

I always say, “Customer service IS marketing.” And I sometimes get uncertain looks in response. There will always be the client who wants to buy a billboard or a whole bunch of airtime, but is unwilling to step back with me and take a look at the BIG PICTURE and see the things I see.

This story from Peter Shankman illustrates how a (not so) simple act of extraordinary customer service can become a (better than money can buy) marketing opportunity. Enjoy!

 

An overlooked marketing secret.

Today started bright and early with a 7am meeting. A client wanted me to meet one of her clients because she thought he’d benefit from our help. It was a great meeting.

I did walk away with a new client, but that’s not what made it so great. The best part was seeing the relationship between our existing client and our new client. It was obvious that they really respected  and cared about each other. They wanted to help each other. They openly shared their praise and appreciation.

I didn’t walk into that meeting to make a sale. I went because someone I like working with wanted to help someone else. She didn’t want to help him because he is her client. She wanted to help him because he is a good guy and she is nice.

I’d heard her talk about him enough to know that meeting him would be a good experience for me. Not because he might hire me, but because I believe that connecting with honest, genuine business owners is always valuable. We hit it off and are looking forward to working together.

Being invited to see and become a part of their relationship is a great honor. It tells me my existing client trusts me and believes in what I do. It tells me that she sees the value of the services I provide. And seeing the way my clients work together reinforces one of the most overlooked marketing secrets of all: Good business starts with good people.

A precautionary tale.

There is a great Italian restaurant less than five blocks from Big Ears headquarters here in the Happiest City in America. They have excellent food and a renowned chef. It would be a great little place to take clients for a quick, impressive meal. But we don’t eat there.

Why? Because the owner of the restaurant speeds through our neighborhood in his giant, very well-branded truck. He is always (really, always!) holding a cell phone to one ear and he never (really, never!) comes to an actual stop at the stop signs.

He is famous throughout the neighborhood for endangering pedestrians, school children and other drivers.

We thought it was only fair to let him know that these habits are affecting his business.  (Of course, these things are also illegal and putting lives and property at risk, but we thought once he understood the other repercussions, we wouldn’t have to “go there” with him.)

So we picked up the phone to give him a jingle. We were willing to take the time and energy to give him some important information about his business. After all, he spends lots of money on advertising and printing coupons. We were certain he’d appreciate a free business boost.

But when we called the number, we entered a voice-mail nightmare. Many buttons to choose from, but no options that appeared to meet our needs. We weren’t catering a party or any of the other things we could get information about. It was just too much work.

So we hung up. And each time we see him coming down the street, we all look to see if the cell phone is at his ear and if he rolls through the stop sign. In these things, sadly, he hasn’t disappointed.

What things could be affecting your business without your knowledge? Does everyone driving a company vehicle understand their actions can impact your bottom line? Does your location have an employee smoking area in view of customers? Do employees go out on the town and cut loose still wearing their staff uniforms?

Take time to notice. Other people do!

True dat!

As marketing and public relations professionals, one thing we can’t stress enough is that everything your business does is marketing. Perhaps not in the traditional sense, but really, what is marketing?

The American Marketing Association defines marketing as “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”

When things go awry in this process, there are many ways to make things even worse. There are also, thank goodness, ways to make things better. This article, by Impact Learning Systems International offers a great reminder about the value of customer complaints and those who take the time to make them. It also gives tips about how to make the most of these interactions. Give it a read. It will only take a moment.

While you’re there, check out some of their other blog posts. Impact Learning is a great company offering proven customer service training and sales training programs.  Just down the street from us in beautiful San Luis Obispo, CA, Impact Learning helps organizations build value and integrity into customer relationships.

Effectively managing customer relationships is one of the important “non-marketing” aspects of marketing that every business needs to understand.

Getting back in gear.

As you may have noticed, the Big Ears blogger has been laggy about updates. It started with a trip out of state, where the accommodations didn’t provide the promised wifi connection. (Well, technically, the wifi was there. It just wouldn’t let anyone connect to it.) This led to rushed visits to a coffee shop, where most time connected was spent on vital correspondence and file uploads.

Upon return to California, there was so much to catch up on and so many clients to please. And here we are. But things have calmed down. Our noses have returned to the grindstone … and our fingers to the keyboard.

How about you? How’s that To Do list? If you need a little help finding your groove, here’s a great procrastination hack. Click now. Really. Now. Don’t tell yourself you’ll “come back to it.”

No time to say hello, goodbye!

Are your days slipping away from you? Do you get hungry and suddenly realize it’s later than you thought? Here’s an 18 minute plan for managing your day, courtesy of Peter Bregman of the Harvard Business blog.