Posts Tagged ‘PRSA Counselors Academy’

Set Your Brand Apart: Little Extras Make a Big Difference in Customer Retention

Thursday, May 15th, 2014
The little things add up

The little things add up

Here’s a little dose of reality: no one ever meets the expectations of their customers. You can exceed those needs or your can fall short, and it’s often the little things that add up to make a big difference.

The PRSA Counselors Academy Spring Conference was held last week, May 4-6, in Key West, Florida. Paula Whittington, VP of agency relations at BurrellesLuce, attended Stan Phelps’s keynote. Phelps, who is the founder of 9 INCH Marketing and the author of the popular Goldfish Trilogy (recently completed with What’s Your Golden Goldfish), discussed all the ways to make the little things add up in your favor to strengthen retention rates.

Phelps pointed out some brands that have good customer retention, like Wells Fargo, which obtains 80 percent of their business from current customers because they frequently upsell more products, making their clients less likely to leave. Another heavyweight in retention and acquisition is Southwest Airlines. During a time when airlines started charging for bags and continuing to charge fees for ticket changes, Southwest advertised free checked bags and no change fees. Finally there’s Zappos, which invests back in its customer experience with free shipping, returns for up to a year, and an easy exchange policy.

Differentiation is about the little things; while 80 percent of companies believe they provide a superior experience, only 8 percent of their customers agree. Here are a few tactics – and real-world examples –  from Phelps for setting your brand apart.

The Throw-In/ Add-on: Throw in something small but restorative to really ramp up customer experience. DoubleTree Hotels offers warm, fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies that make their guests feel welcome.

Sampling: This is the classic ice cream shop tactic, but you can take it to the next level like Izzy’s Ice Cream, which gifts a free scoop of a new flavor to try, and will also tweet or text when a customer’s favorite flavor arrives. Personalization and generosity go a long way in customer acquisition and retention.

First/last impressions: Enhance a client’s experience with first and last impressions. They’re the most lasting and visceral, so don’t overlook them. The Hard Rock Hotel offers Fender guitars and headphones in the rooms, as well as a TV channel featuring guitar lessons.

Pay it forward: Offer to do something nice for people, even if it means doing something for free. Unemployed, but really need your suit cleaned? Plaza Cleaners in Portland, Oregon will clean that suit for free. And Discount Tire will repair a flat tire for nothing. Paying it forward creates goodwill to create loyal future customers.

Add on a service: Like paying it forward, you can also create goodwill by providing more than just a basic service, like Safelite AutoGlass. Not only do they send you a picture of the technician coming to repair your windshield, but they’ll clean and vacuum your car during the ten minutes it takes for the windshield epoxy to harden and cure.

Follow Up: Handwritten thank you notes always go a long way. But it’s easy for follow-ups to slip through the cracks when something goes wrong, and that’s the most vital time to make an overture. Nurse Next Door, a home care service, does this with humble pie: if there’s a mistake, the company owns up to it, and delivers a fresh baked apple pie as an apology. Nurse Next Door estimates that the $1,500 they spend on pies annually saves them about $100,000 in business retention.

At the very least, think of Walt Disney, who in 1957 decided to have a parade in Disneyland every day in December. This cost him the modern-day equivalent of $4 million, and his financial advisors were against the idea, but daily parades survive to this day, the most frequently asked question at Disneyland is “What time does the parade start?”

Tactics that set your brand apart should be a signature product or service of your brand, and really make you different. It might cost you money, but if done right, the benefits will be more of an investment than a cost.

HR, Employee Retention, and Growing Your Business: Tracy Bochner, Paradigm PR, Interview With Johna Burke at the PRSA 2010 Counselors Academy

Monday, April 4th, 2011

Transcript –

JOHNA BURKE: Hello, everyone. This is Johna Burke with BurrellesLuce, and I’m here at the PRSA Counselor’s Academy. And we’re here with Tracey.

Tracey, will you introduce yourself?

TRACEY BOCHNER: Sure. Tracey Bochner with Paradigm Public Relations in Toronto.

BURKE: Canada, yay! So, Tracey, for those people that can’t attend this session of leaders in the PR industry, what are some of the takeaways that you’d like to share with them in the sessions that you’ve learned here?

BOCHNER: I’ve been to some really interesting sessions, particularly on HR, on retaining employees, on growing your business. Some of the biggest takeaways I think for us from the session have been around how to structure bonuses, because that’s something we’ve been looking at very closely, and how to grow your agency. We’re an agency of 14 people and we’re only two and a half years old, so we’re busy on this growth path, and there’s been a lot of–what the most interesting pieces for us have been about growing your agencies to be not big, but the best. That was Elise Mitchell’s session yesterday, which was fantastic.

 And out of some of the roundtable sessions this morning, tips and advice on how to structure bonuses for best motivating employees, how to look at retention strategies that, again, motivate employees. Even the softer things like beer on Fridays, what are some of those tactics that have worked really well for other agencies? And that has been very interesting for us.

BURKE: Great feedback. And where can people find you on the web?

BOCHNER: We’re at

BURKE: Great. Thank you so much.

BOCHNER: Thank you.

PRSA Counselors Academy 2010: Carol Greenwald, Marketing Partners, Interviewed by Johna Burke, BurrellesLuce

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

Transcript –

JOHNA BURKE: Hello, everyone, this is Johna Burke with BurrellesLuce, and I’m here at the PRSA Counselors Academy. I’m here with Carol.

Carol, will you please introduce yourself?

CAROL GREENWALD: Hi, I’m Carol Greenwald. I’m the owner and president of Marketing Partners. And what we do is three kinds of things. We work with people on targeting and strategies so that they can get richer faster and more effectively. I do research so that we can ground decisions in fact instead of fancy. And I do coaching to help people learn better selling behaviors.

BURKE: Can you talk about, for those people that weren’t privileged enough to be able to be in your session moments ago, what’s the most important thing that marketers can use when they’re talking to prospects and clients about identifying and creating some attachment to their brand and to their product?

GREENWALD: What they need to remember is, is that there is no such thing as a rational decision. Decisions–the best decisions are made in the context of emotional thought that brings together all past memories, past experiences, past activities, past responses, brings them together so that they focus on whatever the decision is. So if you have a brand and you want somebody to do something, what you have to think about is what is the context in which you want them to do it? What’s happening in their world that’s relevant to this?

What kind of goal would they have to do it? What kind of past memories would they need so that they could understand what it is that you want them to do? Everybody understands new knowledge, new thoughts, in the context of old knowledge. That’s why whatever your mother did when you were five is probably still relevant today because memories are built up. Every time you have a problem or you face something, your brain goes back into the unconscious memories, pulls out the ones it thinks are relevant, tries to create a pattern that is similar to the pattern that you’re facing; then the cognitive part, the smallest part and the youngest, the most fragile part of your brain, the cortex, takes those patterns that’re offered to it, takes the best one of them and says, `This is the one we’re going to use because this is the one that answers the question, fits how we feel about the past and moves us forward into the present.’

So as a marketer, as a PR person, as a communicator, you have the ability, by setting the entire emotional stage, to influence not only how people feel about your product, but how they use it, what they do with it and, finally, if they buy it.

BURKE: Carol, thank you so much. Can you tell us your website, or where else people might be able to find you?


BURKE: Great. Thank you so much.

GREENWALD: And I’m on Facebook. 

PRSA Counselors Academy 2010: Alan Cohen, Acts of Balance Coaching, Interviewed By Johna Burke, BurrellesLuce

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

Join BurrellesLuce and Alan Cohen, president, Acts of Balance, leadership coach and trainer for this informative 60-minute webcast, “The 12 Essential Talents of Marketing Communications Leadership…and other Lessons Learned From Harry Potter.” Alan will discuss the 12 essential talents of marketing communications leadership. He will use examples from the Harry Potter books and his own personal experience managing the project as former director of marketing for Scholastic Publishing where he was on the team that launched the Harry Potter books a decade ago.

Transcript –

JOHNA BURKE: Hello, this is Johna Burke with BurrellesLuce, and I’m here at the PRSA Counselors Academy with Alan.

Alan, will you please introduce yourself?

ALAN COHEN: Sure. I’m Alan Cohen, and I’m an executive coach. My company is called Acts of Balance Coaching, and I work with PR professionals in leadership and motivation.

BURKE: Great. Now, Alan, you’re doing a presentation and some roundtables on attitude adjustment; do you need an attitude adjustment? What are two signs that somebody does, and what can they do about it?

COHEN: OK, great. So what I’m talking about mainly is what your default tendencies are when you’re dealing in situations that are challenging: if you respond like a victim, if you respond with a lot of conflict, if you tend to be more cool-headed and logical. And really, the first step is to just become conscious of where you default. And you can see that in terms of the language that you use, in terms of the kinds of situations that you seem to be attracting. What you can do about it is, well, certainly you can work with a coach. But the first–the first step is to have an awareness that there are actually lots of different ways to perceive situations, and you perceive situations based on past experience. So this is very, very important for anyone who’s in a leadership role because it impacts the way that you can inspire and motivate others by really managing your own emotions and becoming conscious of where your energetic default tendencies are.

BURKE: Great. Alan, thanks so much. And where can people find you on the web or social media?

COHEN: Sure., or you can follow me at Acts of Balance or my fan page is Acts of Balance. Acts of Balance.

BURKE: Great. Thanks so much.

COHEN: Thank you. 

PRSA Counselors Academy 2010: Abbie Fink, HMA PR, Interviewed by Johna Burke, BurrellesLuce

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Transcript –

JOHNA BURKE: Hello, this is Johna Burke with BurrellesLuce, and I’m here at the PRSA Counselors Academy with Abbie.

Abbie, will you please introduce yourself?

ABBIE FINK: Sure. My name is Abbie Fink. I’m vice president and general manager of HMA Public Relations in Phoenix, Arizona.

BURKE: And, Abbie, you’re also the co-chair of Counselors Academy. Can you please talk a little bit about the programming and how you as an agent see–drive some of that content to make this a valuable attendee event for some of the participants?

FINK: Sure. Counselors Academy is a special interest group of the Public Relations Society of America, and it’s attended by owners and managers of public relations firms. And so we are all here–it’s our professional development opportunity for agency owners and managers to really learn about our businesses. We are talking about growth strategies, what are the trends that we’re seeing in the marketplace as it relates to social media, green initiatives, Hispanic communications; really, the types of things that we can look at as new revenue-generating sources, new business opportunities that we can then take back into our own markets and implement new programs and things that we’ve learned as a result of the conversations that we’ve had here.

BURKE: Great. Thanks, Abbie. And where can people find you on the web and in social media?

FINK: Well, thanks for that opportunity as well. We are on the web at We also host a blog at And then you can find me on Twitter @abbief, that’s A-B-B-I-E-F, and of course on HMA Public Relations page on Facebook. And I look very much forward to connecting with you there.

BURKE: Thanks, Abbie.

FINK: Thank you.