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Monday, February 21, 2011

Dangers of being positive...

"The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Twitter is in low-level acquisition talks with Facebook and Google for a deal that would put the network at a $8 to $10 billion valuation. Stone tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross, “We’re not valued at $10 billion dollars. That’s just what people are writing in the newspapers, which unfortunately has the negative impact of my friends thinking I must have $10 billion dollars.” "(footnote)

Yeah... marketing.  If I am happy all the time, and my business is always communicating positively - does it always have a positive effect?

Nope.

I own a small business in a great little town with amazing customers, a fantastic city that supports me, great landlords, awesome associates... it's not always rosy, but for cripes sake people, I don't talk about it in my social media (and if I do, I delete immediately -  #fail). Downside to only being positive online, looking like I live a life of leisure eating cheese and drinking wine next to winemakers, movie stars, and other peeps people aspire to be near for some reason - is that people think I am rich and that my business is ALWAYS booming. I have heard this from other small business owners - people say to them all the time - "You are so lucky - you have such flexibility!" or "It must be nice to not have to report to anyone" or "You get paid for your effort - that must be so cool".

HAHAHAHAHAHA - here is what I have learned in the 2 years I have owned a business:
  • If flexibility means working 24 hours a day -  then yes, I have that.
  • I report to my customers - and my customers drink :-)
  • Customers are your lifeblood - try as hard as you can to make them happy - and if you can't - know you did your best.
  • Good staff is even more important.  We all get tired, always let them know when they are doing something well.
  • Unless you invented Starbucks, you are not getting rich or paid for every hour you work - so figure out how to save your pennies to have some time to yourself.  I saved 10-20 bucks a night in tips for 100 days to pay for my vacation - it can be done.  (BTW - this makes you look rich too)
  • Ride it - perceived success can beget real success.  Perceived success usually has a strong foundation in truth unless you have an amazing Ad team that can spread it thick and well... if you are a small biz, it's probably truth.
So should you cut it out, and let it all out - so people know that you scrub toilets, pay taxes, have staffing issues or that your car won't start?  No. Stay positive.  It's hard for this black clothing toting, east coast reared girl to say it - but channel that bad energy into something good.  The more successful you are, there will be a percentage of people who want to see you fail and they are loud and nasty.  There is also a HUGE group of people who want to see you succeed, and an amazing core group who always knew you would and could and were always there!


Biz Stone from Twitter has this problem, his friends think he owns a 10bill dollar business.  Even at 3.7bill, none of that is in his pocket.  But, the news reporting 10bill all over the place lends credibility, stability and doesn't hurt his business at all.  Look at what is going on for your biz from that perspective. Marketing is marketing, even if it looks like news.

Watch your f'n "mouth"

This is not a blog on swearing online today.  Come on - I grew up in NJ.  I use the "F" word as an adjective when tired or angry.  This is about opening your big fat trap when writing online.

Your biz uses social media online.  You tweet, you FaceBook, you tell everyone where you are on Foursquare, you even yelp!

Then you have a bad experience. Instantaneously, you can post the person's name, ask for their head, and demand that the business goes under...  You don't (or shouldn't) though.  Why?  Because every account is linked to you or your business for GOD'S SAKE! And negative energy from you will come back to your business! But that twerp who thought there should be more fries on their plate, or that you should have given them something for free while paying customers couldn't find a seat, waits two weeks and posts anonymously that you are horrid, and your staff is crap - and you have no retort. What do you do?

NOTHING. (Well sort of)
  • Do not reply to the person - no matter how much you want to.  They are insane, pissed, uneducated, vindictive or - ALL OF THESE.  You can not talk this person down and you will only stir the crazy pot - don't do it!
  • Ask a couple customers that you respect to review - don't ask a ton - most places think of this as spam, you just want a couple, and if they can talk to the issues, the better.  Sometimes this happens naturally, but it takes time.  Asking a couple people, means that you can see updates at the top faster.
  • Own the bad review - mention it on a different medium as an attack.  Show your vulnerability - it's the only thing you have - you are human, your business is all you have in some cases - this person struck your child.
  • Ask everyone you know to flag the review (we are talking off the wall reviews here, don't do this for all negative reviews - some are actually good for ya).  The more accounts flag - the more chances that the thing will get pulled.
  • For yelp! - pay for an ad through their staff, and tell  them you won't sign up until the crazy review is removed.  I have a feeling this might work.  I haven't tried.
  • Sit down with your staff and go over the review. Learn from it.
Bad reviews get easier over time - mostly if they are few and far between.  They are a good touch with reality.  You can't please everyone all of the time, but it's our job to try.

Check out my bad review on yelp! :) -> http://www.yelp.com/biz/gather-wine-bar-arroyo-grande