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content marketing

Great headlines are critical if you want your audience to read your posts

You Can’t Underestimate the Power of Rock-star Headlines

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These days, we’re all marketers. We’re all competing for eyeballs, frantically posting to our websites, blogs and social media hoping to build trust, brands and audience loyalty. But let’s be honest–what we’re really hoping to get out of this is new clients.

It’s hard to underestimate the importance of rock-star headlines

Each new social media application and blog platform that hits the marketplace represents new competition. So how do you set yourself apart? It’s difficult to overstate the importance of rockstar headlines. A good headline can entice and engage your audience to click, read, and share your content. Unfortunately, in many cases, headlines are the thing that is shared rather than the article. This is pure clickbait. It’s a scam when there’s no relationship between the headline and the article, and it’s doing a big disservice to your audience and the industry. But do you know what makes an engaging headline?

Listen to this: BuzzSumo analyzed 100 million article headlines. They examined stuff like:

  1. Headline phrases that drive most engagement on Facebook
  2. Worst performing headline phrases on Facebook
  3. Most effective phrases that start or end headlines
  4. Optimum number of words and characters to use in a headline
  5. Numbers to use in headlines that have the most impact
  6. Most engaging Twitter headline phrases
  7. Differences between B2C and B2B headlines

While there is no magic formula for creating a viral headline, by taking a look at what’s successful, we can model our own headlines on these formulas and capitalize on some of these trends.

Note: This research looks at the most shared headlines on Facebook and Twitter which tend to be dominated by major publishers and consumer content. Thus the insights will be particularly interesting for publishers. Business-to-business comes later this year.

Popular phrases in no particular order:

  1. Tears of joy
  2. Is what happens
  3. Are freaking out
  4. The only reason is
  5. Give you goosebumps
  6. Is talking about
  7. This is why
  8. Will make you
  9. Is too cute

As a serious business owner, a few of these phrases would never work for me. It’s clearly important to consider the industry. I’m very aware of the power of headlines and I work hard to make mine and those of my clients compelling and attention-grabbing. But there’s a caveat here. If you’re sending out a newsletter or posting a blog for someone in the legal or financial services industries, for instance, numbers 3, 5 and 9 are probably never going work for you. In fact, they’re wholly inappropriate for a lot of industries.

Data makes you rethink headlines

In the BuzzSumo sample, the most powerful three-word phrase used in a headline was: “Will make you … “ This phrase gained more than twice the number of Facebook engagements as the second most popular headline trigram. So why does this particular trigram or three-word phrase work so well? It’s a linking phrase. There’s a promise of a direct impact on the reader; it’s trying to elicit an emotional response; it’s the start of a relationship, which is what it is all about.

Curiosity and voyeurism also gain Facebook engagement

Headline phrases that provoke curiosity, tension and a sense of voyeurism also gained a high level of engagement on Facebook. For example:

  • What happened next
  • Talking about it
  • Twitter reacts to
  • Are freaking out
  • Top x songs

These days, with the White House in a daily state of meltdown, a lot of the headlines that gained traction are politics-specific. But this is a good example–readers are often curious about what is being talked about by people, what the top items are in a league table, or what is being said by people on Twitter about a topic or event. This type of content appeals to our curiosity and voyeurism. With the Trump administration in Washington, we’re seeing a lot of headlines with “are freaking out” in them, and they’re killing the ratings.

BuzzSumo cautions writers to avoid ‘what happened next’ style headlines. While they have performed well, Facebook now categorizes headlines that withhold information as clickbait and demotes them. I believe this is a good thing. We’re seeing way too much clickbait—headlines that just don’t deliver that shows a clear lack of integrity.

 Other engaging headline phrases are explanations

  • This is why
  • The reason is

We all want to feel that bit smarter after reading a piece of content. Explainer articles promise you an extra nugget of insight. In some ways they are similar to the “will make you” phrase headline as they make a promise about what you’ll gain as a result of reading the article.

We’re all looking for community these days, a sense of belonging to something. A word that has become part of our vernacular is “tribe”. These popular headlines appeal to a sense of tribal belonging. But don’t take these at face value. Model these headlines and make them work for you. Appeal to your own tribe.

  • 25 Things Only Teachers Will Understand
  • 17 Things Only Anglers Understand
  • 9 Things Only Girls Who Grew Up With Older Brothers Will Understand
  • 10 Things Only Night Shift Nurses Understand

Is a subject line important? It’s everything.

I just updated the list I keep by my computer—I try to incorporate these phrases into my blog and newsletter headlines and social media posts when they’re appropriate because I know that they’re powerful. I was working with a client one time and we were getting ready to send out her newsletter. I wanted to get her feedback on several subject lines. She was indifferent. “Is it important?” My answer: “It’s everything.”  

Do you need help with your content marketing program?

Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and internet marketing experts.

Engaging Your Audience with Content Curation

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These days when we’re all marketers, we’re constantly being assaulted with clever, new ways to engage our audiences. But content marketing in all of its manifestations—blogs, videos, infographics, etc.—is labor-intensive. It takes time to come up with good topics, time to fully develop them into well-written articles, time to come up with attention-grabbing headers and it takes time to find really good images that will enhance your blogposts. But let’s face it, you’re taking care of your family, your team and your clients and sometimes you just plain run out of time.

Let someone else engage your audience

If the goal is an engaged audience, why not let someone else’s efforts help you engage your audience? We hear a lot about content curation these days, and it’s an effective way to augment your own great content with quality industry articles and excerpts that can provide another perspective and offer value. Content curation is the act of discovering, compiling, and sharing existing content with your online followers. Something to think about: A full 68% of us rely directly on curated content as part of our overall content marketing effort.

 Content curation can:

  • Help you establish yourself as a trusted source for quality industry information. You may now be recognized as someone who always generates great content—expand your reach a little and be known as someone who also finds great content.
  • Build your own list of blog topics, speeding up your writing by providing more great blogs.
  • Make reporting on earned media mentions much easier.

Content curation is still dependent on great content

You should be reading industry journals, subscribing to newsletters and publications to stay on top of trends and new technology. Read the articles that your favorite industry writers are publishing, then repurpose them to your own website. Be sure to source them and link back to the site. I like to personalize this—add an intro and a conclusion so you’re contributing something of yourself to the effort. Tell why you this article or excerpt caught your attention; explain why you follow this particular author, etc. Big publishers like HubSpot and Buzzsumo offer content curation services, but these come with a price tag; there are other tools that make it easy to do this yourself.

Content curation: Getting started

Start clipping or saving articles that you like or that inspire you. Choose a post that is relevant, and ask yourself how you can add something of value to the conversation. I found a really great tool that is making it easy to clip articles that I like—Evernote. Just create a profile, then download their little clipping tool that you use to clip articles into the application. You can add images and notes so that when you’re ready to use one of your curated articles, you can scroll through the displayed items, select one and copy and paste it into your blog. I’ve been copying and pasting articles, quotes, and links that I might want to use at a later date into a word doc, but it’s a total mess, making it difficult to really see what I have curated. With Evernote, every article is individually displayed, with notes as separate items. This is a huge productivity enhancer.

So what should curated content look like

Here’s a page from a tech blog, Slashdot.

top of mind marketing screenshot of curated content

Note the way they identify the longtime reader, Esther Schindler and link to her website. The two indented paragraphs are taken directly from Esther. Below that the author adds a brief commentary or summary.

Curated content: coming up with good content is still a challenge, but sharing it is easier!

Using curated content is still a great way to raise your SEO value and enhance your website with quality content. When you’re busy, curated content can be a huge time-saver. But keep in mind that, just as with your own blogs, coming up with well-written content that meets the needs of your audience can still be a challenge, but sharing it has gotten easier!

Thinking about outsourcing  your content marketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and content marketing experts.

Top of mind marketing updated its site by applying a new wordpress theme, updating content and images

New WordPress Theme Streamlines Website Makeover

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Websites have a shelf life. I’ve been busy with other people’s sites and neglected my own—pretty common for people in my industry. It had been four years, and while my site was built in responsive design, ensuring it would adapt across all devices, and I’d updated the content and consistently posted my weekly blogpost, the overall design was dated and stale.

Applying a new WordPress theme to the old site streamlined my project

For my site, rather than starting from scratch and building an entirely new site, I engineered a makeover–a facelift of my old site, which dramatically streamlined the project. The site was in WordPress, which has more than 2,000 themes, or templates. We identified a new theme that was modern but not too trendy, and applied it to my existing site. This was a fairly seamless process, requiring only some minor tweaking and a little customization. This was infinitely easier than starting from scratch with a new WordPress theme and building a new website.

New landing pages and images

I added three new landing pages under the Services tab and identified vibrant new images for every page, which went a long way toward upgrading the site’s visual impact. I also gave my logo a little refresh. We ported over all of my blogs—more than 250, believe it or not—and these required very little adjustment.

Areas for messaging or to showcase what’s going on in your company

One great feature of many of the new site designs is the areas for messaging or calls to action. My site design includes four tiles across the bottom where we can upload an image and a brief sentence—these are great for calling attention to events, new products, new blogposts, etc. Since I want to call attention to my 250+ blogs (!), I’ve added an image, a sentence and a link to four blogs. On the homepage, there’s also a banner that I can swap out, which I will likely also use to showcase a blog.

The result: For all intents and purposes, a new website

A new look and feel. Updated content. High-quality images. Today’s sites are simpler, there’s less drilldown and menus have collapsed. Today’s new website designs are slicker with more opportunities for messaging and calls to action. I’m delighted with the visual impact and the new functionality of my new website.

Is your WordPress website dated, no longer reflective of the company you are today? Contact us at Top of Mind Marketing today to talk about a makeover! We’re internet marketing specialists.

Two Bellman Two is part of Marriott's wildly successful long-term video strategy

Rethinking Content Delivery: Big Brands Embrace Video

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Video’s snagged a place in the Top 5 Trends for 2016

Take a look at any of the experts’ Top 10 Marketing Trends for 2016 and video has snagged a place in the top five. Sure, we all know we should be doing video—it’s great for SEO, it’s fun, engaging, informative and for certain demographics, this is the preferred way to receive information. But let’s be realistic. Good videos are expensive; they require scripts, perhaps a narrator, background music and professional videographers to create a polished product. And once you’re finished, it’s time for another one, and it takes time and money to keep producing high-quality products. You think they cost too much and have limited reach. Let’s take a look at a video that Marriott produced that’s been wildly successful.

Marriott’s 19-minute video: more than 8M YouTube views

Marriott released the follow-up to its Two Bellmen original short film earlier this year, with the sequel approaching 8M views on YouTube — more than the number of viewers who tuned in to see CBS’ premiere of Man with a Plan. This 19-minute action comedy, Two Bellmen Two, built its viewership over a period of months as consumers shared the content with friends via social media. This is important because it’s the result of consumers increasingly shifting their viewing habits from TV to smartphones and laptops. Savvy brands are creating content that makes an emotional connection with viewers andgets them in front of impressive numbers of potential new customers — in some cases, more than they could with a traditional TV ad.

“ If you deliver something that is valuable and they want to watch, they will actually engage,” said David Beebe, VP of creative and content marketing at Marriott International.

 Content production moves in-house as big brands build studios

This shift in the traditional content creation/delivery model was the topic of a panel discussion at the ad: tech conference in New York in December that featured executives from Marriott International and Charles Schwab. These two big brands are building in-house content studios to produce the kinds of content that today’s new consumers want. Make that millennials. They’re shifting away from TV to embrace a variety of digital content formats.

Demand for video is growing

As consumers look for compelling online content they can share with friends, the demand for video is growing. Brands need content that transcends traditional advertising, and this can be difficult for agencies to grasp. Two Bellmen was first launched in early 2015 and has received more than 5M YouTube views. A sequel came out in early 2016 and a third installment has debuted. Marriott’s efforts have proven successful enough that it is now licensing some of its content, turning its marketing into a revenue source. They’ve developed travel documentaries, webisodes, VR experiences and influencer-driven videos.

You have to be able to take risks; legacy attitudes can stand in the way

For marketers looking to jump into this kind of quality content, one of the biggest hurdles can be resistance from executives who are reluctant to make a significant investment when they don’t see a direct link to a sale. Legacy attitudes can hold companies back, so they must be able to take risks, make mistakes and learn from them. Charles Schwab, long recognized for clever advertising that reaches consumers on a personal level, created a small team three years ago that is focused on telling brand stories that connect with people. Previously, most of the content was focused primarily on traditional selling of products and services.

Today’s marketing is about telling stories

As brands increasingly become content creators, they need to consider new metrics that keep pace as they open the door to new relationships. At Charles Schwab, the content team demonstrated that the videos it created acquired new customers and drove existing ones to sign up for additional products. Brands embarking on a content strategy need to ensure that they continue to engage with their audience.

Are you trying to develop a results-oriented marketing strategy? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and internet marketing experts.  

Super Bowl Ads: An Emerging Social Conscience

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Another Super Bowl, and naturally, my team lost. After a miserable first half, the mighty Tom Brady, perhaps the best quarterback of all time, finally emerged from Sleepy Hollow and led his team into an overtime win. Atlanta had a fairytale year, a terrific MVP quarterback and a Hall of Fame receiver, but they collapsed.

top of mind marketing_terry bradshaw

We all know that the Super Bowl is only partly about football

It’s also about eating and drinking, a day for partying with your friends. And for brands and anyone who’s interested in marketing, it’s about the advertisers who drop millions of dollars for a chance to get in front of one of the biggest TV audience of the year.

Super Bowl ads are an effort to reach Americans on a fundamental, emotional level

They remind us that football is an American sport and this is our big tradition. We may love our craft beer, but we look forward to those Budweiser ads that break our hearts year after year—those magnificent Clydesdales, the puppies, the young servicemen and women coming home to cheering crowds.

While we can count on the usual awful to mediocre ads, there are generally a few that are really clever and leave us laughing out loud. Melissa McCarthy’s saving the whales/trees/rhinos ad for KIA may have been the best ad of the day. Procter & Gamble’s ad for Fabreze, depicting the halftime stampede to the bathroom, was terrific. But I’m holding out for Terry Bradshaw and the Tide ad. Score another big, big hit for those clever folks at Procter & Gamble. I’ve watched this one a few times now, and I laugh out loud each time. But it’s not just about Bradshaw–there’s a message here: It’s not about what’s on your shirt, but what’s in your heart. Peter Fonda fans loved seeing him back, though this time in a Mercedes rather than riding a chopper, “Still lookin’ good.”

It’s difficult to escape our troubled political climate

Many advertisers took a stand for diversity and inclusiveness. Coke reprised a previous ad, “It’s Beautiful”. When it was first broadcast in 2014, it prompted a backlash because it featured “America the Beautiful” sung first in English and then in Hebrew, Spanish, Keres, Tagalog, Hindi and French—these languages are, after all, spoken by Americans all over the country. Budweiser left the puppies behind this year and chose a serious political message in defense of the immigrants who have braved danger and adversity in pursuit of the American dream.

Standing for something besides the product

Super Bowl ad slots cost an estimated $5 million for 30 seconds, yet many brands are dropping the hardcore pitch in favor of a more socially conscious narrative—and may be taking sides for or against Trump. There’s a push for companies to show their social awareness. KIA’s message, for instance, is about environmental awareness. Aligning with a message shows that companies have a point of view, that they’re aware of the world around them.

Good marketing tells a story

The best ads aren’t just pitching their attributes. They’re telling a story because a story has the power to reach its audience on an emotional level, truly connecting with them. These are the ads—and the products—that we’re likely to remember when we get ready to make a purchase.

Thinking about outsourcing your content marketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re content marketing experts.

Snapchat Spectacles: Fun New Tech Toy for 2017?

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Snapchat has launched a Google Glass/GoPro hybrid pair of sunglasses. They cost a fraction of the failed Google Glass—they’re GoPro for your face–use these specs to capture your adventures while on the go.

top of mind marketing_snapchat

How do they work?

They record video snippets that automatically save to your Snapchat Memories, a new feature in Snapchat that stores all your saved snaps, stories and locked content. The sunglasses feature a camera with a 115-degree lens, with the purpose of mimicking how humans actually see. Okay. You do have to be a Snapchat user, but that’s easy. Create an account and get started.

Just tap a button to record

To record a snap (picture or video), tap a button the top left-hand corner of your Snapchat specs. It will automatically stop recording after 10 seconds; tap again to add another 10-second increment. You’ll see an inward-facing light when you’re snapping, and an outward-facing-light will show other that you’re recording and they’re in your field of view.

The problem: Not everyone wants to be included in your Snapchat video

Snapchat is assuming that everyone is going to know about the Snapchat Specs and be on the alert for flashing lights on sunglasses.

Snapchat Spectacles’ batteries will last about a day, and the outward-facing light on the sunglasses will serve as a battery indicator that you can double tap to see how much life is left. Recharge with the charging case and cable that comes with the Spectacles.

Cost and availability

The one-size-fits-all glasses cost $129.99 in your choice of black, teal or coral. Here’s where it gets interesting. Snapchat said it is only making a limited number of Snapchat Spectacles and the company plans to cautiously roll them out.

They didn’t hit the market until November 10; we can apparently buy Snapchat Spectacles only from yellow vending machines called Snapbots that will travel around the country selling them. They started with Snap’s headquarters in California, and each Snapbot will be in place for about a day. Track Snapbots using a map on the Spectacles website to find out when they’ll be in your area. Snapchat Spectacles can only be purchased from these Snapbots, so these become little pop-up stores. (A caveat: every time I go to the website to find a Bot, the Bot is sleeping, so manage your expectations.) You can go to the Snapchat Spectacles website, scan a QR code, add a Spectacles lens to Snapchat and try them on virtually.

Snapchat Spectacles: the hot new tech toy?

They’re fun, slick and affordable. They hit the market later than promised, and sheer logistics translated to the Spectacles’ not reaching critical mass for the holiday shopping frenzy. They’re showing up on eBay with price tags of up to $900. While we have to admire that entrepreneurial spirit, that’s more than 6x its original $129 pricetag. Is it worth it? Depends on whether you need to be the one who has the latest tech toy. If you do, you know that price is irrelevant, and the supply and demand issues—trying to find a snapbot in your neighborhood can be challenging–make them more desirable.

To keep in mind

Snapchat glasses’ videoclips are low-res and jerky–shooting from your eyes means that you’re not steadying the camera with your hands as you would in a traditional filming effort. Also—for those who love recording themselves at every available opportunity–no selfies.

Thinking about outsourcing your content marketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re content marketing experts.

Holiday Ads: I’ve Never Known Anyone Who’s Gotten a Car for Christmas!

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As someone who’s spent a long career in marketing, I’m still fascinated by advertising. Most of it is shockingly bad, but some of it is somewhere between engaging and brilliant. The stakes are high for retailers this time of year, so advertisers pull out all the stops.

The biggest promotion is for cars

top-of-mind-marketing_holiday-ads-for-cars

This one continues to astonish me–luxury car dealers seem to think that everyone has the discretionary dollars to be buying cars for their SOs for Christmas. They’re creating the expectation that we’ll wake up on Christmas morning, and a quick look outside will reveal a luxury car with a big red bow on top. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never known anyone who’s ever gotten a car for Christmas.

Follow the advice of the ads and you’ll wake up fat and broke, with a hangover

Other notable ads are for alcohol and food. You’re going to be dressed to the nines, attending an endless round of galas and events as well as hosting glamorous parties for which you’ll need expensive wine and gourmet food. Online sales are way up, and we’ve been receiving catalogs from a variety of high-end retailers, including Petrossian, soliciting our dollars for caviar, smoked salmon and other high-end delicacies. Advertising is all about the power of suggestion, so if you follow the recommendations of these retailers, you’ll wake up around the first part of January fat and broke, with a giant hangover. The reality? Real people aren’t celebrating the holidays like the people in these TV ads.

Time to slow down and take care of yourself

Years ago, my family and I decided to donate to our favorite charities in each other’s behalf rather than buying gifts that we didn’t need or like. Besides supporting some very worthy causes, we just eliminated a whole lot of shopping, wrapping and schlepping.

This was our way of getting off the holiday rollercoaster and focusing on the things we loved about the holidays that didn’t cost a dime–holiday music, spending time together, playing a rousing game of Monopoly like we used to do when we were kids.

These days, I try to carry on this spirit of the holidays–contributing to something more important than myself, making time not just for my friends, but for myself.

Time to work on your marketing plan for 2017? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and marketing strategists. 

Four Easy Holiday Content Marketing Tips

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The holidays are here and there’s way too much going on. Shopping, family, parties and trying to squeeze in the things that really matter—getting together with friends and family, taking time for those you love. That’s why we look forward to the holidays every year. But what about the work that keeps piling up on our desks? And you still have a year-end newsletter to publish, along with a blog and social media posts.

top-of-mind-marketing_content

Here are a few ideas to expedite your holiday content marketing efforts:

  1. Share your holiday-specific expertise. Depending on your niche, extend your expertise on how to save money during the holiday frenzy. Or suggest ways to stay healthy or provide legal advice that applies during this time of year.
  2. Curate content. Blogging is a great way to update your website with current content, keep your name in front of your audience and provide relevant content, but let’s face it–it takes time to identify a topic, draft and refine your blog, find an image and post everything to your website and social media sites. Instead, think about content curation–the process of gathering, organizing, and sharing great content pieces that you think will resonate with your audience. Add an intro that explains why you like this article and the author and why it’s relevant.
  3. Invite guest bloggers to post to your site. Reach out to colleagues or friends whose writing you admire and ask them for a guest post—provide a few topics that are relevant. They’ll likely love the exposure and you’re going to love taking a week off. Ask them if they’d reciprocate and provide an opportunity for you to share a blog on their websites.
  4. Support a charitable organization. Use your social media or blog to support a charity. This is the time for reaching into your pockets and giving, and there are plenty of worthy organizations that will love a donation and a little extra promotion. Use hashtags to increase exposure and bring awareness to your cause.

A few more tips . . .

  • Hashtags. Do get in the habit of using hashtags with your social media posts—a great way to foster new followers and generate engagement around your campaigns.
  • Holiday images. Include a holiday-themed background image on your website—this appeals to people’s emotions and feeds into the holiday spirit.
  • Remember to have fun. This might be the time to share a funny story, feature a colleague or member of your team.

Thinking about outsourcing your content marketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re content marketing experts.

Connect with Your Audience on Emotional Level

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top-of-mind-marketing_connecting-with-audience

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve just witnessed the most divisive election our country has ever known. We’ve never seen so much discord, such clear-cut lines of demarcation between liberals and conservatives. There is shockingly little tolerance for other people’s views and a general uneasiness about how a new administration and a dramatic change in policy will affect us. In a time of uncertainty, smart brands will work harder to connect, to create deep emotional bonds with their tribes. How can they do this? By telling stories and connecting with their audiences.

Connecting with good storytelling

Good storytelling has always been an effective way to connect with audiences, and the growing number of social media networks has given us more opportunities to reach them on an emotional level than ever before. This is when trust and relationships begin to form.

This is the time of year when we begin to look for the best holiday ads, and several brands have created ads whose messages are simple and compelling, leaving us deeply touched with the spirit of giving and the importance of spending the holidays with people we love.

Amazon is in the running with an ad about a priest and iman

They’re clearly old friends whom we see visiting with each other in the parish house. We see their sharing a hot drink, laughing and rubbing their knees. The Iman gets up to leave and they warmly embrace. After his friend leaves, the thoughtful priest has an inspiration. He pulls out his phone, goes to his Amazon app and orders something. In the next scene we see both the priest and Iman opening their packages—each had sent the other knee pads. The perfect gift for religious men who spent a considerable amount of time on their knees praying.

A Polish ad may be the best Christmas ad ever

It begins with a nice older man as he orders a book online and receives the delivery of “English for Beginners”. We see his practicing his English aloud as he goes about his daily life—on the bus, during breakfast, in the bathtub. He stares at a rubber duck, “I love you. You are perfect”. He labels his dog, his knife and fork and his toothpaste with post-it notes. He peppers his learning with phrases from action movies. When his suitcase arrives, we begin to understand why he’s learning a new language. We follow him to the airport, across the ocean and into the warm embrace of his son at the front door of his London home. When his little granddaughter emerges from her bedroom, he kneels down and says, “I am your grandpa.” This wonderful ad is by Allegro, the most popular online marketplace in Poland.

According to their spokespeople, “For years, we’ve strived to make Allegro the largest e-commerce platform in the CEE (Central and Eastern European) region, and to our customers, bring joy, touch the heart and cause a smile.”

I’ve watched this ad more times than I’ll admit, and I’m not alone. It’s gone totally viral and has now been viewed more than 11.5M times. Allegro is clearly touching a lot of hearts with this delightful ad.

Thinking about outsourcing your content marketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re content marketing experts.

Building Relationships with Great Customer Service

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top-of-mind-marketing_relationshipsThese days we’re all stretched pretty thin. We’re working 12-hour days, commuting another two or three and often taking care of both our kids and parents. We get used to road rage, attitude, anger and rudeness. We lower our expectations when we go into stores or restaurants, so we’re pleasantly surprised when a server or sales associate is helpful and courteous, when really, it’s part of his/her job.

Don’t be afraid to go the extra mile

As a business owner, along with our expertise, great service–really exceeding expectations–is what sets us apart. But sometimes it can feel like people have forgotten what this is all about, but I recently had a couple of customer service experiences that knocked my socks off. The result? Two service providers just made a customer for life, and I’ve already referred a few friends to one of them. Their small good-will gestures will reward them many times over, and we can all learn a lesson in relationship-building. And in case you’ve gotten too busy, relationships are how we build our businesses.

JiffyLube had become Joe’s Auto Service

I figured it was about time to take my car in for a tuneup, so I Googled JiffyLube. I’ve recently relocated to St. Helena, so I found one in Napa and drove to Joe’s Auto Service. Hmmmm. A really nice guy came out and I felt pretty stupid asking him if this was JiffyLube, when it clearly wasn’t. His answer: “No, it hasn’t been for about four years.” I was there and needed to have my tires and oil checked so I asked him if he could do that and he could for $64. Great.

He invited me to sit down and have some coffee or water in his sunny waiting area. He returned in about 20 minutes and told me that I only had about a thousand miles since my last oil change and really didn’t need one. I asked him to check the water and tires, etc., and he came back about ten minutes later and handed me my keys. I got out my credit card and he gently pushed my hand away. “There’s no charge.” I was totally floored. This kind of thing never happens anymore, especially when it comes to car stuff—when we all expect to get robbed. I shook his hand and thanked him and told him I’d be back in a few thousand miles. I have also told some friends about this guy and his incredible relationship-building ethic and will continue to share this story with anyone who needs to have his/her car serviced.

A dead battery means a call to AAA

A few weeks later as I got in my car to go home from a friend’s house, I experienced that sinking feeling you get when you turn the ignition and nothing happens. I’d left my lights on. I called AAA in the morning, and they told me they’d be there within an hour. AAA generally calls or texts 15 minutes or so before they arrive, so I was startled when the AAA guy knocked on my door and I wasn’t quite ready to go. “No problem. I’ll just wait.”

I gathered my bag, laptop and jacket and locked up. He held the door for me and because the seat of his truck was a little dirty, he took off his jacket and spread it on the seat so I could sit down. He even waited until I was in, then closed the truck door. I’m totally loving this guy. We drove to my car, he had it running in about two minutes and checked to make sure the battery was strong. He cautioned me not to turn the car off, but to drive for at least an hour to completely recharge the battery. That was it—no paperwork, no hassle. I thanked him for the great service, and he told me it was a family business—they were serious about taking care of their customers.

These two experiences restored my faith in good old-fashioned customer service—the key to building relationships and your business.

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