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May 25 2017

Cool your jets: How one encounter can change your client’s perception

About a year and a half ago, my husband and I switched mobile carriers. We did it primarily to save money, as the one we were with was getting crazy expensive. We knew that coverage wouldn’t be as great, but we aren’t world travelers. So as long as we could text and surf the web within the 15 mile radius in which we live our lives, we didn’t care. We wanted to save money.

The actual plan was significantly cheaper. The phones, however, were not. And by the time you added phone payments, and taxes and services, our monthly payments were the same. This was not properly explained to me at the time of signup. Nor was it properly explained to me that at the end of our 18 month “lease” we would still owe quite a bit of money on our phones. On top of that, our data connection was poor and our phones consistently dropped calls even at our house. These little surprises made me angry, to say the least. But after a couple fruitless calls to customer service, I eventually just gave up trying to get solutions.

I read just the other day that it’s not the customers that are complaining that you need to be worried about, it’s the customers that aren’t saying anything. This is 100% true. I never even talked to a rep about the bad connections because I was so peeved at them for scamming me on price. I just wanted to pay off the phones and switch back to my original carrier. And that’s exactly what I would have done. Except…

Today I had to call customer service. And I was lit. The woman on the other end was very professional. She listened to my complaints. Some she was able to resolve, others she explained more thoroughly so they weren’t AS annoying as I had thought. She brought my anger down from a 9 to a 5 (since the insanity that was the 2016 presidential election, I can’t seem to get it down below that). I don’t love our current carrier. I’m not going to start recommending them to all my friends. But one interaction with a competent customer service rep got me to rethink my decision to leave, at least for the time being.

Readers, do not underestimate the power of one positive connection with a client. Every time you pick up the phone, send an email or type a text, assume that THAT is the interaction that could make or break the relationship with that customer. Also, keep an eye on those silent customers. The ones who aren’t interacting with your brand at all, who are placing fewer orders, who aren’t recommending you the way other clients do. Reach out to them and find out what you can do to turn them into brand enthusiasts.

Have you ever had an encounter with customer service or an account rep completely change your view of a company? Tell us the story in the comments below.

May 09 2017

Beauty and the Rebrand

I’m a little late to the party, but I finally saw the live action Beauty and the Beast last weekend. You guys, I’m OBSESSED! The costumes, the music, the scenery. Emma Watson and that spunky, kind, fearless personality. Dan Stevens with that voice and those eyes! I love it more than a grown woman probably should but, whatever. The world is a dark place, just let me be happy.

So why am I gushing about a Disney film on a marketing blog? I’ll be honest, I was actively looking for an excuse to research the movie and listen to the soundtrack while at work. BUT ALSO, it occurred to me that remaking a movie is a lot like rebranding a company. And since the remaking of Beauty and the Beast was successful, I figured there were some lessons that could be applied to rebranding a company, something we do a lot of here at One Step Services.

Make new friends, but keep the old. I’ve watched enough bonus features to know that without composer Alan Menken and lyricist/executive producer Howard Ashman, Beauty and the Beast wouldn’t have been the blockbuster that it was. So it makes sense that they brought Menken back to rearrange original songs and compose new ones for the live action remake.* The new songs fit seamlessly with the original and the movie is once again a musical masterpiece.

When rebranding your company, think very hard about what elements you want to keep and what you want to ditch. Then decide who of the “old friends” is going to help you maintain this new vision, and who is going to detract from it. And whether you’re keeping the old or hiring the new, make sure everyone is loyal to and passionate about the brand. You’re going to have a hard enough time getting clients on board with this new brand, you don’t want to also be fighting employees, vendors and business partners.

If it’s broken, fix it. As a child, Beauty and the Beast was perfect. But rewatching it as an adult, I notice a couple of plot holes. Like, why exactly does Belle fall in love with Beast? She was terrified of him and angry, and all he has to do to win her over is save her from some wolves and throw a snowball at her? It sounds more like Stockholm Syndrome than love. Apparently I was not the only person who had this thought because the character of Beast is much more developed in the new movie, as is his relationship with Belle. There were several other plot holes that were patched up in the remake.

Before you rebrand, it’s important to know what’s working for your company and what isn’t. The rebrand should fix the things that aren’t working. Perhaps your logo looks outdated. Maybe your customer service policy needs to be changed to better fit your new customer database. Maybe your company mission has changed and you need a new slogan to reflect that. Maybe you are recovering from a major PR fiasco. Whatever the case, look at the rebrand as an opportunity to fix what is broken.

Test your audience. In an interview, Dan Stevens explained that he was originally topless when he transformed back into the prince. However, the test audience said that was inappropriate for a kids movie.** So they reshot it.

Once you decide what needs to be fixed and you come up with a solution, you need to make sure that solution is going to be effective for you. You’ve got to test it. Obviously, you can’t please everyone, nor should you try. But it’s always a good idea to run tests to make sure you are getting things right with most people.

If you’re ready to rebrand yourself and/or your company, give One Step Services a call at 949-587-5301. Come in for a free consultation with our graphic designers who can help create a new visual representation of your new brand. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go listen to Evermore one million times and cry at my desk.

*Side Note: Howard Ashman died 8 months before the original animated Beauty and the Beast was released. The story of how his battle with AIDS affected his creation of Beauty and the Beast is fascinating and heartbreaking. Another interesting tidbit, the lyricist for the new songs on the new Beauty and the Beast was Tim Rice, who worked with Menken on songs for Aladdin. So, still an old friend of Disney. See? I told you I watch a lot of DVD bonus features.

**Boo! Those people are no fun!

Jun 01 2016

Visual Content Creation Tools for Non Designers

recite-xf9tpgI sit about 50ft away from a group of graphic designers, so you’d think that I had an endless supply of visual content for our blog, newsletter, social media, etc. However, there are these wonderful people called clients that take up most of the designers time. And while I leave big projects to the professionals, there are often times when I need a simple visual for something minor and the designers don’t have time to create it. When that happens, I turn to one of these online content creation tools:

Piktochart

As a writer, I would be perfectly happy spending my days writing articles, white papers and ebooks with only text. However, I know large chunks of text usually don’t get read. Piktochart allows me to convert text based articles into visual infographics that are more interesting and eye catching to the average consumer. There is a small selection of free templates, but you gain access to more templates and features when you purchase a subscription.

Canva

I just discovered Canva and I’m hooked. I’ve created a white paper, an infographic and a variety of single images for social media. Unlike other content creation software, Canva isn’t subscription based, which I like. They have images that are free, and others that cost money, so each time you log on you can determine how much money you’ll spend.

PicMonkey

I discovered PicMonkey a couple years ago when I was looking for an easy way to do simple photo edits like crop, blur, and resize. PicMonkey does all of that and more. I can also create images from scratch, which is how I create our #TipTuesday visuals. Like Piktochart, there are some free features but paying for a subscription opens up even more features.

Recite

If you follow One Step Services on Facebook or Twitter, you’ve probably noticed that every Monday we post an inspirational quote. I use a variety of tools to convert text quotes into images, and one of them is Recite. You simply type in our quote, pick a template, and it spits out an image which you can share directly or download (the image at the top of this blog post was made with Recite). This service is free!

Keep in mind that while these tools are very helpful and cost effective, they operate based on templates and there isn’t a lot of room for customization. When you need something customized, turn to the pros! Our talented team of graphic designers would love to create anything you need, whether it’s a Facebook cover photo, a header for your email newsletter, a postcard, a business card, a listing presentation or anything else you can think of. Just call 949-587-5301 or email info@onestepservices.coom to place an order.

Apr 21 2016

8 Ways To Spice Up Your Next Direct Mail Marketing Campaign

direct mail marketing

 

If you send direct mail consistently, you know that it’s effective. But if you have noticed a drop in responses, or if you have a message you want to draw attention to, you may want to ditch the traditional postcard and do something unique to capture your audience’s attention.

Make it bigger. A typical postcard ranges in size from 4×6 to 8.5×5.5. If you want your piece to stand out, make it bigger. Try a square size like 8.5×8.5 or a large size like an 11×17 foldover.

Make it shapely. Another way to make your piece stand out is to make it a unique shape. Something basic like a circle is effective, or you can do something more detailed that is related to your business.

Make it handwritten. Handwritten messages always get more attention than typed ones. you can put your direct mail piece in an envelope with a handwritten address or you can leave space on the back of your postcard for a handwritten message.

Make it lumpy. Lumpy mail includes something more than just paper. It could be a small product sample, a magnet or a small with your brand. People are much more likely to read your piece if there is something attached to it.

Make it sticky. Sticky mail is mail that people will around their house for reference. Sports schedules and community events schedules make great sticky pieces, as do notepads.

Make it interactive. Motivate recipients to take some sort of action on the piece. Make it a coloring contest that they can mail back for a price. Or make it a game they can cut out and use, like a cootie catcher.

Make it a discount. Everybody loves a discount. So include some sort of coupon with your mailing. Be sure to set an expiration date so the recipient is motivated to use it soon.

Make it personal. Variable data can add personal information to the message. Whether its something as simple as a name, or something a little more complicated like purchase history, this is one of the most effective ways to increase responses in your mailings.

Mar 29 2016

Download Your Free Direct Mail Marketing Calendar

Our Second Quarter Marketing Calendar is now available for real estate professionals. These calendars take the guess work out of direct mail marketing and give you a strategic, week by week plan that includes content ideas and guidelines of when to order and when to mail. We understand the importance of integrating direct mail with digital marketing as well, and have including blog topics and social media post ideas, many of which are correlated with your direct mail content.

These calendars are 100% free. Download today and get started.

Download our 2nd Quarter Monthly Marketing Calendar

What will you find in our marketing calendars?

  • All of the content ready postcards we are offering for the quarter
  • Direct mail marketing ideas for every week
  • Blog ideas for every week, many of which integrate with your direct mail marketing campaign
  • Social media post ideas for every week

How should you use the calendar?

  • Find the upcoming Monday on the calendar
  • Look at what piece is recommended for that week
  • Call or email One Step Services and place your order. Schedule the mailing for the following Friday.
  • We’ll send you proofs of your piece and, once it’s approved, print it out for you. We can then mail it, or return it to you so you can walk and drop.
  • Look at the blog and social media ideas for that week. Write them out, and schedule them to publish on the recommended date.

Need more help?

Let us create a mailing schedule for you. We’ll send you a reminder email when its time to place a mailing order, and that email can offer suggestions based on your predetermined preferences. Simply respond to that email saying “yes, place my order!” and we’ll take are of the rest. We also have social media services available where we can create and post to your social channels for you. Email us for more information and a price quote.

Jan 08 2015

15 Ways Real Estate Agents Can Use Direct Mail in 2015

real estate marketingAre you looking for ways to spice up your direct mail marketing in 2015? We’ve got some ideas to help you build your real estate business through direct mail.

Business Focused Mailed Pieces– these pieces promote your specific real estate business and their purpose is to familiarize people with your brand. While you are promoting your business, you want to make sure your doing so in a way that is relevant to recipients. The average person won’t care much about your list of awards, but they will care about what past clients have to say about you.

1. A large brochure that highlights all your sales of 2014

2. Testimonials from past clients

3. Send a personalized letter to your social list reminding them about your business and asking for referrals and repeat business.

4. On their one year purchase/sold anniversary, send a personal card to every client you worked with in 2014.

5. A small bio of you and any team members you may have. Include a business card that can be torn off and kept for future reference.

6. When you sell a home, send a personalized letter to surrounding neighbors introducing the new owners, briefly explaining the details of the sale and offering to help them sell their own home.

Real Estate Focused Mailed Pieces– these pieces talk about the industry in general and their purpose is to educate people about the industry and the processes of buying and selling a home. People who are considering a buy or sell will be particularly interested in these pieces.

1. A recent market update for that specific geographical farm

2. Find a relevant real estate article and rewrite it in a simple, easy to understand way

3. A list of questions frequently asked by your clients and your answers to them.

4. A checklist of things to do before putting a house on the market

5. A list of useful apps and online tools for buying and selling a home.

Community Focused Mailed Pieces– these pieces don’t talk much about real estate or your business, although your name, logo and photo should be on these pieces. Community pieces give helpful information about the surrounding community. The point of these is to grab the attention of people not interested in real estate at the time.

1. A list of community events taking place in the upcoming month or season.

2. A list of local small business and contractors that you have worked with and personally recommend. This could include housekeepers, plumbers, air conditioning specialists, doctors, dentists, etc.

3. Partner with a local business and send your recipients an exclusive coupon

4. Hold a coloring contest and mail the coloring page and entry form.

Need more ideas? Give us a call at 949-587-5301. Our customer service representatives will get to know your unique business and suggest creative and effective mailers to get your business booming.

Jun 27 2014

How to Instagram Your Next Open House

Instagram’s simple platform and focus on photos makes it the perfect platform for real estate agents to share their listings. However, agents who aren’t familiar with the platform may not know what kinds of pictures to post. Simply posting a photo of your listing with the address and a description isn’t going to get much attention. You need to create a story around the listing and share multiple photos to tell that story.

The easiest way to start “Instagramming” your listings is to use Instagram during an open house. Below are 7 different pictures you can take to create and share your open house story.

Start with a selfie
A “selfie” is a photo that you take of yoruself Take a selfie in your car, in front of the sign or by the front door. Caption it with something like “Excited to host an open house at 12345 Main Street.”

Your favorite room
Take a photo of your favorite room in the house. In the caption, get your followers to imagine life in that room. For example, if your favorite room is the bathroom with the huge soaking tub, say something like “Can you imagine coming home from a hard days work and getting to soak in this tub? Glorious!”

Your favorite outdoor feature
Photograph your favorite outside space. Again, get your followers to imagine themselves living there. “Check out this built in BBQ. Would you love to host summer BBQs at this home?”

Give a shoutout to other agents
A shoutout is a social media referral. If a real estate agent you know comes by the house with clients, snap a picture with them and give them a shoutout in the caption (be sure to use their Instagram handle if they have one.) Your caption could read something like this “Look who stopped by my open house today! Thanks for bringing your buyers @realestateagent.”

Share your “to-do list.”
Write or type a list of things you need to do to prepare for the open house then post a picture. This gives people an idea of the services you provide when hosting an open house. You can also share the owners to do list to educate people on how they should prepare for an open house.

Tools of the Trade
Do you always bring a specific water bottle to open houses? Do you often bake cookies or bring a vase of flowers? Lay out your items and snap a photo. The caption can read something like “Here’s my open house survival kit!”

Get the owners in on the fun
If the homeowners are around, take a photo with them. Tag them and ask them to share the photo on their Instagram and to tag you!

 

 

Apr 22 2014

7 Gifts to Your Buyers Would Love to Receive at Closing

We design and print wine bottle boxes and labels. They are fully customized to display whatever logo, colors or brand you'd like

We design and print wine bottle boxes and labels. They are fully customized to display whatever logo, colors or brand you’d like

Why give a closing gift? In a word: referrals. During the home buying process, your clients talk to you on a daily basis. But once the new paint is up and the boxes are unpacked, they will settle into life and slowly start to forget about their experience, and you. Giving a gift, especially one that can be reused and that has your business brand on it, is a great way to ensure that you stay at top of mind. Every time they use the gift they’ll remember you and the next time a friend mentions buying or selling a home, your past clients will say “I know the perfect real estate agent for you!”

  • Bottle of Wine and Engraved Wine Glasses- Hand them a bottle of closing cabernet to celebrate their new home. Make the gift extra special by including wine glasses engraved with their name and the year the house was bought. You can brand this gift by putting the wine bottle in a box customized with your logo and contact information. In fact, our designers at One Step can design and print custom wine bottle boxes just for you.
  • Homeowners Tool Kit- Fill a container, such as a large mason jar, with odds and ends that people need when moving such as batteries, screwdriver, tape, permanent marker, sponge, and dish soap. You can brand this gift by adding a label with your logo and contact information. If you need labels, let us know and we’ll create and print custom ones just for you.
  • Soup in a Jar- Put all the dry ingredients for soup in a large mason jar. After a long day of moving, your buyers just have to add water and they’ll instantly have a delicious meal. You can brand this gift by ordering custom labels from One Step and sticking them on the jars.
  • Restaurant Gift Certificate- After a long day of moving, nobody feels like cooking. Treat your clients to dinner buy purchasing a gift card to a local restaurant. Skip the chain restaurants and go for one that is unique to the area. Not only will they enjoy the free meal, but they’ll love getting acquainted with a small business unique to the area. You can brand this gift by putting it in one of the personalized notecards you’ve ordered from One Step.
  • New Address Postcards- Snap a picture of your buyers in front of their house, then put it on a postcard along with their new address. Hand them a stack of 50-100 so they can send them out to friends and family and inform them of their new address. You can brand this gift by taking a the photo next to your yard sign so recipients see your information.
  • Memory Plate- Commemorate this momentous occasion with a memory plate. Grab a solid color dinner plate from a dollar store. With permanent marker write down all the important events that led to the purchase of the house. Bake the plate at 350 degrees for 30 minutes and the design will stick. Add some baked treats for extra pizazz. You can brand this gift by putting your full name somewhere on the plate and on the back you can put your contact info.
  • Welcome to the Neighborhood packet- This is a great gift if your buyers are new to the area. Include in the packet a list of contractors you personally recommend to help them with any home improvement or maintenance issues they may encounter. You can also include a list of important phone numbers for utility companies, schools, vets, doctors, etc. Instructions to local museums, parks, grocery stores and restaurants are also helpful. Add a couple gift cards to local businesses and you’ve got a practical gift new homeowners will love. You can brand this gift by putting the lists on flyers that bear your business brand.

While these gifts may require a little extra time and money, they are great ways to maintain relationships with past clients that will lead to referrals. Consider these quick tips to make gift giving easier and more beneficial to your business.

  • Buy gifts in bulk and keep them on hand. That way you aren’t scrambling for one at every closing.
  • Instead of giving a gift at closing, consider sending a gift on the one-year anniversary of the home purchase. Its a great way to remind clients of your business once the craziness of moving has settled.
  • In addition to your gift, leave buyers with a small package of promotional items such as a magnet, notepad and pen. These items should have your name and business brand all over them, and every time clients use them they’ll be reminded of their exceptional experience with you.
Mar 17 2014

Mailbox Monday- Are Your Marketing Messages Repetitive?

photo altered from www.freedigitalphotos.net

photo altered from www.freedigitalphotos.net

Today’s Mailbox Monday is a little different. I don’t have an actual piece to show you, but want to discuss an interesting comment my dad made last week while sorting through the mail. He said in frustration “why does the same company keep sending me the same stuff?”

At first I wanted to rush to the defense of direct mail and spout of 10 reasons why direct mail is effective. But then I realized that my dad wasn’t complaining about the mail, he was complaining about the type of mail. He didn’t mind that the company kept sending him things, he was annoyed that they sent him the same things. That is a problem, even for us staunch supporters of direct mail.

We often talk about the importance of repeat exposure in building brand recognition. It’s true, you need to expose people to your logo, your slogan, your face, your company over and over and over again. HOWEVER, you should not be exposing them to the exact same content. That gets real boring real fast. Very quickly they will stop paying attention to your pieces and all that repeat exposure becomes a big waste of time and money.

As you develop content for your direct mail, email, print, online and social media campaigns, always be thinking about ways to spice things up. Your audience should always be compelled to engage with your brand, whether its by keeping a sports schedule with your brand on their  fridge, commenting on your blog post, or forwarding an email you’ve sent to a friend.

Check back next week and I’ll give you some specific ideas for messaging that will keep your audience interested and engaged.

Feb 04 2014

Three Essential Elements of a Successful Brand

We talk about branding a lot here at One Step. I write about it on the blog, Valerie talks about it in her client meetings and customer service is always explaining the concept of branding over the phone. But still, it’s a hard concept to grasp, especially if you aren’t in the marketing industry and don’t think about branding everyday like we do. So whenever possible, I like to share real life examples so you can see, instead of just hear, how important branding is.

Today’s branding example comes from my second home, Kaiser Permanente. My baby boy is five months old and the past year I have spent a SIGNIFICANT amount of time at Kaiser. During all those hours spent in waiting rooms (anyone else have to endure that 3 hour glucose test? Yuck!) I started to notice all the various elements that work together to create the Kaiser brand.

Hear the Brand

Every element of Kaiser’s brand, from the logo to the advertising to the services provided, is developed around its core messaging. A few years ago, that core message was ” Live well. Be well. Thrive.” Now, they’ve shortened it to simply “Thrive.” The word itself shows up in several different interactions such as literature and commercials. But even when the actual word isn’t present, the message is. In everything they do, Kaiser conveys the message that they want their patients to thrive and that they are available to help make that possible.

See the Brand

The visual elements of the brand always convey the message of thriving. As I walked through the halls of the hospital I saw lots of pictures of people smiling, eating healthy, and exercising. In a word, they’re thriving. The rest of the space is generally white, clean and modern so that the attention is always focused on the pictures of the people.

The logo is a huge part of the visual brand and it also conveys the image of thriving.

Kaiser_Permanente

The logo shows up just about everywhere…on office walls, on the health literature they hand out, on nurses uniforms. With every encounter the patient becomes a little more familiar with it and begins to make connections between that logo and the real life experience they are having with that brand.

Experience the Brand

The biggest misunderstanding people have about brands is that they believe a brand is simply a logo, a color scheme, or a general look that determines how all their marketing pieces will be designed. But a brand is really about reputation. A brand is what people think of or feel when they hear about or come in contact with your company. Most people are familiar with Kaiser Permanente, the logo, the advertisements, the “look.” And yet ask people about their experiences with Kaiser, and you’ll get some radically different responses. It is in those responses that you’ll see the true impact of the brand.

Personally, I’ve had great experiences with Kaiser. The staff is always friendly and knowledgeable. They offered some very helpful parenting classes. My doctors were easily reached via phone or email for questions that were important but didn’t warrant an actual visit. In my experience, thrive isn’t just a slogan that is broadcasted on radio commercials. It’s a mission statement that fuels every action of every staff member.

What do I think of when I hear “Kaiser Permanente”? It’s not the logo or the slogan or the decorations or the buildings. I think of my sweet midwife who regularly reassured me that my weight gain was normal. I think of the nurse who, when I called crying my eyes out and begging for anti nausea meds, very quickly got a prescription from the doctor so I could get the meds that day. I think of that perfect day in August when I got to hold my perfect baby boy after a long labor during which I required a whole team of nurses to get me through.

Three elements: messaging, visual, experience. Having one without the others will create a lopsided experience that won’t fully engage your clientele. Having all three will create a powerful brand that clients repeatedly use and share with others.

*DISCLAIMER- The views of this blog article are the views of the author and not the views of One Step Services or its affiliates. One Step does not endorse Kaiser Permanente nor does One Step officially encourage anyone to use Kaiser’s services. This is simply an article about the impact of corporate branding on one person and is in no way meant to sway one’s decision towards choosing a healthcare provider.

 

 

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