Archive | February, 2012

Get Outside Claremore!

24 Feb

Claremore Lake

Has the weather this week been beautiful or what?! I can’t seem to soak up enough sunshine or breathe enough fresh air! Here are my 10 favorite ways to enjoy the weather in Green Country!

1. Go Play at the Park

No one is too old to enjoy a day at the park. Whether you want to feed the ducks, play on the swings (my favorite), fish off the wharf, or snap some landscape photos (see my iPhonography offering to the left), the place to be is Claremore Lake Park!

2. Eat Out On the Patio

Everything is better in this weather–even the food tastes better outside! My favorite patio spot is the Hillcat Hut. Yes, even non-college folk are allowed! Tiny Cakes and Truffles also has outdoor seating. You didn’t think they were just a bakery, did you now?! Finally, don’t forget to get out of your car at Sonic!

3. Work Outside

We are a mobile society after all. Take your smartphone and notebook and work outside today, even if it’s just the smoker’s table outside your office. Or you can be lucky like my sister and get to go work at the Lake!

Remember the paper weights!

4. Ride Your Bike

I know there are a couple of bike trails around town, but I actually prefer riding in a neighborhood. I love getting a glimpse into people’s lives as I zip past. And it’s usually easier. 😉 If your bike needs some maintenance after its hibernation in the garage, drop by Bike-About in downtown.

5. Bird Watch

I’ve been able to open my windows several days this week and I was pleasantly surprised to hear a lot of bird songs! They certainly seem to think it’s spring time! One of the best places to bird watch is at the Nature Reserve on the RSU campus.

6. Play with your dogs.

Frisbee, balls, walks, other dogs–anything delights your dog, so take your pick! If you don’t have a dog—well, you’re just a loser, I guess. 😉 Sidenote: why doesn’t Claremore have any dog parks? How do we go about getting one?

7. Nap in the sunshine

In case you haven’t figured it out, I’m a dog person. However, I will say that cats have done one useful thing. Napping in the sunshine is the best thing they have ever come up with! Oh, and naps definitely have their place in the professional’s life.

This fellow was a doorstop outside the Antique Mall

8. Stroll the downtown walk.

The downtown neighborhood was designed to be walked. Park elsewhere and enjoy!

9. Do a photowalk.

You could even combine numeros 8 and 9 and do a photo walk downtown! Some of my personal favorites were taken doing this, such as the last two photos in this blog.

10.Watch the sunset.

One of my favorite places to watch the sunset is from the top of Swan’s hill on 4180 road.

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Customer Complaints: Your Chance to Shine

21 Feb

Fact #1: you can’t please everyone.

Fact #2: people have big mouths.

What happens when you mix the above facts with social media? You get your chance as a business owner to shine. Here are 3 reasons why social media is a better way to interact with unhappy customers than any other method, including face-to-face!

1. You get alerted to the complaint immediately.

If a customer has an issue with your business and mentions it to friends in person or on the phone there is no way for you to know that they did that. Even if they’re forward enough to tell you their complaint there’s no way for you to track down all those people they might have talked to. Not so on the interwebs! First, if you have some kind of social media platform you are inviting people to communicate with you there. When they do, you’re notified, have a way to contact them back, on top of being handed a great deal of their contact information.

Bonus: what if they don’t contact you directly on social media, instead using their own status or posting a review? Between alert services such as Google Alerts and Social Mentions and the built-in search features on Twitter & Google+ you can still find out quickly!

2. You get to be on stage.

When a person complains to me offline about a company I only get to hear their side of the story. I don’t get to find out if the company ever made it right to that customer. If that exchange takes place online the company has the opportunity to change it from a complaint to a conversation. They get to  publicly make it right. As you resolve their concerns and win back their business, all of your network and all of their network get to watch you value your customers through action, watch you be attentive, courteous, and professional. Instead of this being a negative mark for you, it grows your positive brand image.

3. You get to pleasantly surprise people.

Most businesses do not respond to negative customer feedback online. Why this is, I have no idea. Business owners aren’t completely rational beings, I guess. 😉 So, when you do respond you immediately get on everybody’s good side. Take every chance to stand out against the rest of your competitors!

Word of warning here: if you try to censor any complaints or negative feedback online you just end up multiplying it. Censoring is a extreme move that only accelerates the aggression. Don’t hide your head in the sand by hitting that delete button! Deal with the problem!

Your business’ approach to customer service is a big part of Magic Bottle Marketing’s intake process. This is not something either of us wants to have to plan on the fly. I will work with you to have a strategy in place so that when someone does complain, you’ll get to shine!

Refining Your Message

16 Feb

Communicating a message effectively is both an art and science. What do art and science have in common? They both take a lot of repetition to perfect and they both progress faster with feedback! Tuesday, I edited my ‘About‘ and ‘Services‘ pages. I’m CCing it here so I can get your feedback through comments.

About

Magic Bottle Marketing provides social media management and consulting services for local Green Country businesses. Social media is like a magic bottle that conveys your message to your customers faster, cheaper, and more effectively than traditional means. It combines three types of sales leads–advertising, returning  customers, and referals—into one powerful medium.

Photo by Joel Chan

Anna Bavido founded Magic Bottle Marketing in 2011 out of a passion for her community and her own social media addictions, errr… experience. She has lived in Claremore since 2001 and graduated from Rogers State University in 2009 with a bachelor’s of science in social sciences. When she’s not teaching businesses to be sociable she is invovled in politics, family, karate, social media, and Jesus–but not necessarily in that order. Her favorite social network is Google+.

Services

Magic Bottle Marketing approaches each client every day with 3 mottos.

  1. Give the client the biggest bang for their buck.
  2. The right tool for the right job.
  3. Track performance.

The first one is an attitude of gratefulness and responsibility for clients. You don’t have to give me business and I take the fact that you did very seriously. For more explanation, see Corporate Gratitude. Second, is a messaging approach that leverages the right social networks in the right way for clients’ goals and targeted customers. This is further explained in Social Media and Angry Birds. Third, I look back as often as I look forward. If I don’t know what I did before and how well it worked, I won’t know what to do next. I blogged about this some in the post Reflections.

With this mindset, I provide tiered contract management services for the following social media platforms–

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Foursquare
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • Google Adwords
  • WordPress

Service packages are customized to each client and start as low as $200/month. Discounts are available for churches, charities, and other nonprofits. Call Anna at 918-933-2303 or drop her a line at anna@magicbottlemarketing.com to find out how Magic Bottle Marketing can best help your business!

Social Romance

14 Feb

Photo by JD Hancock

Happy Valentine’s Day to all the couples out there! Happy Single Awareness Day to all the rest of you! Here are some ways you can surprise your Valentine using social media! None of these are as good as an in-person kiss or rose, but in conjunction they are quite sweet!

If your love has unlimited texting ask a large group of people (all of your office, your Facebook friends) to send him a text saying that you love him!

Create a board on Pinterest dedicated to your Valentine. Fill it with pictures of things you enjoy doing with her, your favorite pictures of her, or pictures that show her best qualities.

Ask his favorite celebrity Tweeters to tell him in a tweet how much you love him.

Make a funny or quirky Prezi about how the two of you met or your favorite memory together.

Create a music video on YouTube with pictures of her set to her favorite love song.

Post a photo tribute to him on Flickr.

Put just your darling in a circle on Google+. Share it in a post saying that she’s your only one or just this person has your heart. Disable sharing because you intend to keep her!

Create a Facebook fan page for him and list yourself as his #1 fan! If you don’t want to maintain the page year round you can delete it on the 15th.

If your sweetheart has a favorite blog she reads every day ask that blogger to dedicate a post to her.

I would love to hear your Valentine’s Day plans!

3 Needs of a Volunteer: Coach

13 Feb

Part 3 of 3: Coach

Volunteering should never be lonely work. Regularly check in with your volunteers. “How’s it coming? Do you need anything? Have we told you what a good job you’re doing?” This is where you communicate the Vision talked about way back at the beginning of this article. This is where you find out if they need any added training or tools, if the workload is realistic and balanced. These conversations are your biggest listening tool and you need to pay careful attention to what you’re hearing.Most accidents are preventable, right? If you’re not listening, you will be the last to find out about the blow up.

Staying in regular contact with your volunteers should double as quality control. When done properly quality control is actually a huge encouragement to both the checker and the volunteer. If you’re checking each completed task you get to see all the awesome things that are being done well and you get to praise the volunteers for it. But, there is another side to quality control that’s not as fun. It’s tempting for organizations to assign the ‘nice work’ of praising to the volunteer coordinator and the control side to someone else in the organisation (usually the coordinator’s boss). This is also known as good cop/bad cop and will be guaranteed to make everyone uncomfortable. Not only do volunteers get the feeling that they’re being sent to the office, it also sends a signal that the volunteer coordinator is incompetent and not trusted by the rest of the organization.

This may sound like a lot of things to make happen at once (“I’m supposed to coach the vision while making sure everything fits?”), but implementing one makes it easier to implement the others. Another tool that helps is a good old-fashioned intake interview (look for that post soon!). Don’t stress yourself out too much because volunteers are the best of your community. Their patience is nigh to boundless, so they get used and abused a lot. They’ll be thrilled to just see you making an effort.

3 Needs of a Volunteer: Fit

10 Feb

Part 2 of 3.

If a volunteer gets burned out it is usually because they were put someplace they weren’t a good fit for. Consider these points to be my burnout prevention plan.

You and the volunteers need to be realistic about what exactly they can accomplish. Too often we get the idea that we should just take the amount of work needed to be done (x), divide it by the number of volunteers (y), and thus conclude that everyone’s workload should be z. x/y=z but it also equals universal unhappiness. You will be unhappy that everything is not getting done and the volunteers will be unhappy because you’ve completely overwhelmed them. It is much better to simply ask a volunteer how much time they can spend helping you out and then following up in a week to ask “Hey, how did that feel? Can you do more or do we need to back off a little?” Most people will say they can do more. Sometimes you can end up with a volunteer doing a workload of zbut they’re happy doing it because you eased them into it by increments that they agreed to.

Have volunteers do what they’re good at. Break out of the mental rut that volunteers can only set up banquet halls, assemble yard signs, and man parking lots. The best way to find out is to ask. “What do you feel you’re good at? What do you enjoy doing?” The volunteer who works as a salesman for his professional job should not be tasked with data entry. If a volunteer is always asking “Do you have these instructions in a spreadsheet format?” take a wild guess at what she could do! I feel like I should start quoting I Corinthians 11. Finally, remember that any task that you might pay someone to do can be done by a volunteer. There can be a big overlap between volunteerism and in-kind donations.

You need to give volunteers the training and tools they need to succeed. Most organizations are pretty good about tools, but training might be the most overlooked tool in volunteerism. In my experience, a lack of training is certainly one of the biggest causes of frustration in volunteers. Nothing is scarier than being asked to do something you don’t know how to go about doing. Don’t put someone in that spot. Volunteers can come to you already very skilled, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t show their value by adding to it. A lot of times they come to you very skilled in things totally unrelated to what your needs are. If they’re willing and intelligent, don’t let their inexperience count against them–just train them on what you need them to do.

3 Needs of a Volunteer: Vision

8 Feb

I have probably spent more time in my life volunteering than I have spent being gainfully employed. I have volunteered at nursing homes and in church nurseries. I’ve volunteered for presidential campaigns and people running for city council. I’ve done volunteer teaching in karate dojos, inner-city schools in Memphis, and English camps in rural Taiwan. I’ve also recruited, trained, supervised, and run interference on (because you can’t really fire them) volunteers. I have to say, I love it all!

I’ve never run across anyone who wouldn’t admit to the extreme value of volunteers, but I have seen quite a few people and organizations who don’t know how to use them correctly. They’re like a child turned loose with a screw gun. It’s big, it’s cool, and can be very useful, but they don’t know what they’re doing with it and end up damaging the structure, themselves, or the gun. To counter that, I present 3 (basic) needs of a volunteer. This is written to those organizations who utilize volunteers and the people in those groups that supervise volunteers. Since I’ve been on both sides of the coin, I will switch perspectives between organization/supervisor and volunteer. Try to keep up. 😉

1. Vision

Sometimes organizations get the idea that you can keep volunteers satisfied with goodies. Feed them, provide a party every now and then, bring in the organization celebrity (war refugee, Elmo, whoever) for a private reception, etc.. and they’ll be happy right? Well, volunteers probably won’t say no to any of those things (tip: they’re probably tired of pizza), what really keeps people going is seeing progress towards the vision of the organization. The very fact that someone is volunteering for an organization probably means they’ve seen some of the vision already and like it. You need to tell them how their task jives with that vision. Detailed mind and big-picture mindset are not mutually exclusive of each other. Volunteers need to know how their details fit into the big picture.

If you keep yourself and the volunteers focused on the big goal, the vision you eliminate most of the drama that goes with people trying to prove themselves. Yes, this includes you. Many of us are just newly promoted from volunteers and have the insecure urge of proving yourself different from the volunteers, sometimes to the volunteers. Some volunteers want to prove their passion, their work ethic, or innate worth to you by overworking themselves, being ridiculously emotional about everything, or always trying to edge their way into the presence of the organizational celebrity (candidate, founder, rehabilitated whale—whatever the case may be). Perhaps the most irritating to me is the volunteer who feels the need to prove his experience. Every conversation turns into a recitation of his resume. These are also the volunteers who usually feel I’m too young to be telling them what to do (another post, another day!) The bottom line is that if you keep people satisfied by tying their work into the vision of the organization, no one needs to prove themselves to anyone.

As people continue to volunteer they also need a retrospective vision. Show them how far the organization has come and exactly how their efforts have gotten you there. Tell people how (method) and how much (quantity) they’re making dreams into reality. Although it sounds like I’m going there, I cannot recommend going as far as a rewards system, though. Volunteers are usually satisfied just with knowing someone noticed what they accomplished.