Archive | General Musings RSS feed for this section

What’s Up With Commercials These Days?

21 Feb

Have any of you experienced what I’d like to call “Commercial Confusion”?  You know, it’s when you watch an entire commercial and either have zero idea what the commercial is for, or, you know what it’s for but just feel you are missing the entire “point” of the exercise.

Thinking back, the first really bad commercial that I experienced was that old Wendy’s commercial.  All I can remember about it was at the end, Wendy was kicking at the base of a tree in the middle of a forest. It was just plain weird. I complained about how annoying this commercial was to my friends and family until they were sick of hearing about it.  Much later, I heard that the advertising company responsible for this fiasco was fired.

This is not to say there aren’t any absolutely great commercials. Virtually any Hallmark commercial is excellent. Budweiser, of course, Frito Lay and Taco Bell are a few more that come to mind.  They are good because they don’t lose sight of what they are advertising. The audience knows what the product is and understands how it is used.

My very favorite commercial was one that Pepsi produced 5 years ago. It showed the young Coke driver pulling up alongside the more mature Pepsi driver. The young buck Coke driver decides to show the Pepsi driver how cool he is by turning up his radio and blasting his hip music.  The Pepsi driver never changes expression, he just takes a sip of Pepsi and then reaches down and flips a switch which makes the entire truck start rocking up and down in beat to  rap music. The expression on the Coke driver’s face is priceless.

Recently, Progressive started airing a commercial that falls into the “really weird and misses the mark” category. It’s the one where someone is dressed up to look like Flo is mixing something up in the kitchen. Then, there is her “presumed” husband (who looks like he’s taken some serious drugs) with a computer in his lap. I believe the general idea is that he is supposed to be researching insurance policies. I think. Two agents who have appeared in previous commercials as agents ask about the “room situation” which I also “think” is referring to how long the process is going to take – but come on!  Don’t make me work that hard to figure out your point!

So what’s your favorite or least favorite commercial?  Let me know by posting below, I’d love to know!

Free Social Media Tips for Small Business

22 Jan
So much Social Media, so little time.

So much Social Media, so little time.

Did you ever feel like the whole Social Media world was changing so fast you had to get up 2 hours earlier in the morning just so you wouldn’t get lost with what changed overnight?  Me too!

So, I thought it might be helpful to explain my understanding of the various social media outlets in an easy to understand format.

FACEBOOK – This is a perfect outlet for any small business.  Pestering the hell out of friends and relatives to buy your products will certainly increase sales. Your friends will buy something  just so you’ll leave them alone!  Who wants to really “shop” for anything while they are reading a post about a high school crush getting a divorce??!!

TWITTER – A great source for getting new followers to learn about your business.  It is especially effective if you use the word “FREE” in your headline – that’s what I did and guess what? YOU are reading this!

YouTube – This is the perfect medium for a small business to demonstrate how their products work.  If you aren’t much to look at, have a  really attractive person do the video. If they are “hot”enough, it doesn’t even make a difference if your product is any good, a LOT of people will buy it anyway.

GFC – I just learned about this today!  I’m really excited.  Apparently it stands for Google Friend Connect.  What a wonderful way to get the word out!  Wait, I just read it was actually discontinued for non-Blogger sites on March 1, 2012. Damn, I just knew that I should have gotten up earlier….

PINTEREST – Fabulous, fabulous site. This is especially great for any small businesses that offer a highly visual or highly creative product that they have worked on for years, painstakingly perfecting their craft.  There is no greater high then seeing someone has re-pinned their product……under the topic “DIY” – even better “Weekend Projects for Kids.”

KLOUT – I had to check this out when my great aunt told me about it. She said it analyzes all of your social media and gives you a rating between 1 and 100 to show how much you influence people. My great aunt’s score was 77.  My company’s score was 36… Hmmm.

I hope you’ve found this information helpful.

5 Ways to Stop Telemarketers from Bothering You

16 Jan

We’ve all been there. You are right in the middle of doing a project which requires both hands and getting ready to address the most complicated part when BBBRRRNNNNGG, your telephone rings.  As a small business owner, letting the call go to voice mail could result in the loss of a sale, so I drop what I’m doing and run for the phone. And what do I get for the disruption and inconvenience? A telemarketer who wants to sell me a “loan” for my business. A loan that I didn’t apply for, don’t need and suspect comes with a HUGE interest rate if I were dumb enough to accept it.

Now the first time a telemarketer calls, I always give them the benefit of the doubt.  Everyone has a job, and this one is theirs. Out of respect and courtesy I firmly state I am not interested and to please remove my number from their database.

But when the second or third time rolls around, it takes its toll.  So what methods can you use to deter future calls?

And while we’re talking about unwanted interruptions, what about those pesky e-mails?  The ones you get several times a week for things that either you have no interest in whatsoever or for things that you “thought” at one time you might want but have since decided against it.  Guess you aren’t allowed to change your mind. Ever. Day in and day out, you have to manually delete those e-mails that the Spam filter missed.

What do you do? I’ve come up with a few methods that have worked for me and I thought I’d share them with you.

Make it NOT worth his time to keep calling back.

Make it NOT worth his time to keep calling back.

1. Why would they ask that?

Answer the phone and act enthusiastic about everything they have to say. When they stop to breathe, ask a question about a service or product that is completely unrelated to what they are calling you about.  For instance, if it’s for a loan ask “How many times a year would you recommend that the furnace be cleaned?”  The first time, they will more than likely pause for a minute and then they will continue trying to close you. At this point ask a second question that is not only unrelated to the product/service that they are talking about but also on a completely different topic from the previous question that you asked – example- “Do you know how far the drive is from Newark to Tallahassee?  About this time you should hear a dial tone. SCORE!

2. Auto Forward Company Executives

Research the company and find one department’s e-mail address or even better the individual e-mail address for a senior level executive with the company.  Forward the e-mail to the individual, explain that you have asked to be removed from the e-mail list but, as of yet, this has not happened.  Explain that you are now going to forward each and every e-mail you get from his/her company to them.  More than likely you will get either an automated reply or a reply that states they don’t “handle” that department.  That’s ok.  Because now you are going to use your e-mail program and set up a mail message rule that will automatically forward each e-mail you receive from that company to the person that you contacted and then automatically delete it from your system.  About the 4th forwarded e-mail the VP of Finance gets, you can bet it will be taken care of.

3.  Terminal Hold

Again, act very interested in what they have to say. After about 1 minute, ask them if they can hold on a second.  Put them on hold.  Walk away from the phone. Take a walk around the block.  The first time they will more than likely call again. Act as if you have no idea that they called before and again act interested. After another minute ask if you can put them on hold for just a second. Run to the store on an errand. Repeat as often as necessary – shouldn’t have to do this very many times.

4. Ask for explanations

Answer the phone and as soon as they tell you who they are (or ask for the owner) change into an alternate voice.  If you can do an accent, that would be even better.  Ask about their product but use your new accent and if you can change accents in the middle of speaking, that’s even better.  Every time they ask you a question, pretend not to understand a particular word and ask them to explain what that word is.  For instance, if they say they want you to subscribe to a magazine  you would say “Subscreeepshune, what is word subscreepshune? I not fameeeeleure with zhis verd. Explain to me pleeeeeze.” I want to bet that after the 4th word inquiry  (if you get that far) they will give up.

5. Bad connection

Similar to #4, you could act like you have a really bad connection. Talk loudly and ask them to repeat every sentence. Reply with variations of what they’ve told you.  For instance, if they have said “We’d like to update our listing” then reply “My face needs misting?” – again, the more bizarre your “take” on the conversation is, all the better!

I hope you find these methods helpful and if you have any of your own that have been successful, please post it in the comments below as I’d love to add some to my collection.

Is common courtesy a thing of the past?

1 Jan

All the things I could have said!

All the things I could have said!

Honestly? It ticked me off 3 days ago and when I think about now, I’m still ticked off!

I was waiting in line at a shoe store with my DH to pay for a pair of winter boots. There was another customer in front of us and the transaction was taking an unusually long time. After about 10 minutes, the cashier called for another employee to open up the second cash register.

At the same time she called for the other employee, another customer entered the store, heard the announcement and immediately ran (literally ran) to the other register. This customer was no kid. I would guess that she was in her late 40’s – possibly early 50’s. My husband and I walked around the circle to wait in line behind her and all the while I’m seething.

And I’m pretty sure she realized at that point that she was “line crashing” because she raised her voice and explained to the cashier that she was just making a “quick exchange.”

Quick Exchange??? Let’s see.
-Return one product back into inventory.
-Refund money.
-Ring up the second item.
-Pay for it.

Hmmm, I’m not seeing (or feeling) like this rude line crasher’s “quick exchange” excuse had any validity.

I’m a wonderful “after the fact” person. And by that I mean that I can always come up with a witty retort, hysterical gesture or perfect solution – but it’s always after the situation has concluded. So I did nothing. Well, nothing except mutter a sentence about common courtesy at which time my DH gently elbowed me signaling that it wasn’t that big of a deal and to let it drop.

I stayed silent (hating myself) and watched as she exited the store and got into a car that was (HUGE SURPRISE) parked in the “no parking” area directly in front of the store. My, my, my – this woman just disregarded anyone (and apparently anything) that got in her way.

As I thought about it over the last couple of days, it reminded me of a conversation I had with myiStock_000010513793XSmall daughter when she got her first “outside the family business job” as a waitress for a chain restaurant. After the first couple of nights she said, “You know mom, it just never occurred to me that people would treat waitresses any different than you and dad do. You guys are always kind to everyone.” She didn’t elaborate, but I got the impression that she had her first taste of how rude people can be.

My mother always told me that you could always judge a man by the way he treated his mother and the way he treated a waitress. She was right. I ended up marrying a man who is kind and gentle to both and have never regretted it.

I’m mostly ticked at myself for letting it bother me. With all the problems in the world, if this is the worst thing that happens this week, than I guess I’m pretty fortunate.

And what would I say to this rude woman now that I’ve had a chance to think about it? Not a thing. I would just smile to myself knowing that I never barge in front of someone else, that I try to be kind to everyone I meet and that I raised my children to be the same way. Leading by example.

New Year, New Approach

29 Dec

New Year's Resolution

It’s that time of year when most people reflect upon the past twelve months and think about the resolutions they want to make for the upcoming year. I don’t know about the rest of you, but for me, it’s usually the same three things:

Eat less. Exercise More. Get Organized.

How long do these new year’s resolutions last? Ummm, until approximately the second week in January. And how do I feel when I break my resolutions?

Awful.

So just this year, I am going to try something new. I am not making any resolutions. Yes, you heard me – not one single resolution. Instead, I am just going to be thankful for what I do have – a loving family, good friends, a successful business and good health.

And so, I’ll close with a bit of humor from an unknown original source – a simple prayer that goes something like this, “Dear God, my prayer for 2013 is a fat bank account and a thin body. Please don’t mix them up like you did last year.” Amen.