Recent Statistics on Social Media Adoption

Posted on March 6, 2012

Here are a few reasons why you should invest heavily in social media:

Mass adoption of social media: Nearly 80% of all active U.S. Internet users regularly visit social media sites (Nielsen). And while consumers spend 25% of their Internet time on social sites, Facebook has become the most visited website in the world. Your customers are there.

Social media benefits businesses: Among marketers who include social media as part of their overall strategy, 97% agree that it provides benefits and value to their business (eMarketer).

Social media improves branding: In a survey of more than 700 marketers, 88% of respondents found that social media helps grow brand awareness. Social media also benefited marketers by allowing them to engage in dialogue (85%) and increase sales and partnerships (58%). An additional 41% of marketers said it helped reduce costs (Wildfire Interactive).

These stats are just a sample of the power of social media.

TODAY’S REPORT FROM THE LIMO DIGEST SHOW

Posted on November 11, 2011

The 2011 Limo Digest Show is off to a roaring start with some excellent seminars and a big turnout. The mood is very positive among the nation’s premiere transportation providers and all are optimistic for the immediate future.

There are some concerns about excessive regulation and the tendency of the current administration to “Creatively interpret” existing laws to institute draconian requirements on transpotration providers instead of going through the Congress to pass new legislation.

It has never been more important of operators to join and support their local and state limousine associations as well as the NLA.
The formation of Two new Limo Associations was announced at the show

  • Minority Limo Association of America (MLOA). The President is Maurice Brewster of Mosaic Global Transportation in California. They had a good turnout for their meeting yesterday with people standing in line to join. Our best wishes to them. www.mlooa.org
  • Coalition of Transportation Associations (COTA). This goup is primarily in the New York/New Jersey market. Former TLC Commissioner and now President of the IATR

Matt Daus made the announcement.

In a room filled with New York people, he dryly introduced it as “A new organization comprised of the five families”. This term has an unmistakable resonance in this part of the world. He was, of course being facetious in this allegory.

The five “Families” are the Limousine Associations of New Jersey (LANJ), Limousine Associations of New York (LANY), Luxury base Operators Association (LBOA), Long Island Limo Association (LILA) and Black Car Assistance Fund (BCAC).

COTA will focus on legislative issues and work to ensure that licensed operators can pass though various jurisdictions without having to be over-licensed. Our best wishes to them as well.

CADILLAC is the major sponsor of the Limo Digest Show.

They are very proud of being among the top 40 Most Favorably Described companies in the JD Power Survey. They are focusing on customer satisfaction and being one of the top luxury car brands in the world.

They feel that the Limousine Industry is an extension of their branding strategy.

The new large-body sedan that will be the cornerstone of their limo fleet is the XTS.

It is not slated for debut until next week for the Los Angeles Auto Show, so no XTS cars will be here for operators to view.

JEFF HARGETT FROM THE RITZ-CARLTON LEADERSHIP CENTER.

Jeff gave a very good presentation on outstanding customer service. It was a fast-moving and lively presentation. He is an excellent speaker, used no notes and shared our concerns about providing “Wow” service to a demanding clientale.

Cadillac had sent many of their people to Jeff for his courses. Some of his gems:

a) Ordinary people doing ordinary jobs extraordinarily well.

b) Competent employees do their job; passionate employees love their jobs.

c) Separate who you are from what you do.

d) A lack of emotional intelligence can ruin your business. (example:while 9/11 was happening, a hotel manager in NYC kept a staff meeting going)

e) You want your service to produce, “Joy, gasps, tears and a lifetime customer”.

f) Annual Employee turnover in the hospitality industry is about 65%. Last year, the Ritz Carlton only had a 16% drop.

g) Purpose creates passion. Communicate it.

h) Some people can be described by the acronym CAVE: Continually against virtually everything (Totally negative people who suck the life out of everyone around them).

i) Emotional Intelligence is comprised of self-Awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social kills.

Upcoming Postal Increase Update

Posted on November 4, 2011

USPS First-Class Rate Increase: .45 cents

It’s been officially announced, there will be a First-Class rate increase in January 2012 from the current .44 cents to .45 cents. Prices also will change for other mailing services including:  Standard Mail, Periodicals and Package Services.

The highlights of the new single-piece First-Class Mail increase are as follows:

  • Letters (1oz.): .01 cent increase to .45 cents
  • Letters additional ounces: unchanged at .20 cents
  • Postcards: .03 cent increase to .32 cents
  • Letters to Canada or Mexico (1oz.) .05 cent increase to .85 cents
  • Letters to other international destinations: .07 cent increase to $1.05

For more information regarding the upcoming rate increase please visit: 2012 USPS Rate Increase

It’s all about Branding…

Posted on October 21, 2011

I have included a great overview, below, that initially appeared in Bloomberg Business Week.

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Define your brand identity—your product’s “personality”—before you spend a dime on advertising or marketing.

Talk to entrepreneurs about their marketing and communications efforts, and they’ll often use the words “branding,” “marketing,” and “advertising” interchangeably. That reflects the pervasive confusion about the terms.  About 15 years ago, ‘branding’ became a buzzword in the business vernacular, and people still get the words mixed up all the time.

That confusion is unfortunate, because understanding the concepts and how they mesh is vital to every company’s bottom line. Studies show companies that market their products or services without first establishing their brand identities are not likely to achieve return on investment. If you’re spending money to advertise and market without being connected to a brand position, you might as well pile the money up and burn it.

Rob Frankel, a branding expert and author in Los Angeles, calls branding the most misunderstood concept in all of marketing, even among professionals. Branding, he says, “is not advertising and it’s not marketing or PR. Branding happens before all of those: First you create the brand, then you raise awareness of it.”

Your Brand is Your Personality

And while many people think successful branding is only about awareness, it’s not, Frankel adds. “Everyone knows about cancer but how many people actually want it? Branding is about getting your prospects to perceive you as the only solution to their problem. Once you’re perceived as ‘the only,’ there’s no place else to shop. Which means your customers gladly pay a premium for your brand.”

Your product or service is not your company’s brand and neither is your logo or your business card. Your brand is the genuine “personality” of your company. “It’s what your customers think of you and say about you when they’ve left your company,” says Rodger Roeser, president of Cincinnati-based Eisen Management Group, a public-relations and brand-development firm.

Your brand is what your company stands for and what it is known for. “Look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself what you stand for. Go around the room with your leadership and ask them what the company stands for. Settle on one or two brand pillars and build your brand around them. If you can’t define your brand, your customers won’t be able to, either. And the risk is that someone else will define it for you—probably your competitors,” Roeser says.

The Promise You Make to the World

A brand is a promise and branding is the act of devising the promise your company makes to the world. Marketing, is the strategy that differentiates your brand promise from all the other brand promises in that increasingly crowded house called “your category.”

Think of marketing like a toolbox containing branding, advertising, direct mail, market research, public relations, and other tools. “Marketing represents the combination of methods organizations use to persuade their target audience toward some specified behavior such as sales,” says Stephen Rapier, of Glendale (Calif.)-based The Artime Group.

Advertising, Rapier says, can take many forms: print, as in newspaper and magazine ads; outdoor, such as billboards; online Web banners; and broadcast advertising on radio and TV. “Typically, the goal of advertising is to grab attention, create positive perceptions, and prompt response while conveying information consumers will find relevant to their needs,” he notes.

Your Brand Is a Lifestyle

A successful marketing strategy uses all—or most—of the tools in the box depending on the job at hand, Cecil says. “Crafting a winning marketing strategy is challenging enough even when you have articulated your brand promise and is probably impossible if you haven’t.”

If you have not specified your company’s brand, don’t spend another dime on marketing until you do. While everyone’s familiar with megabrands such as Apple (AAPL), Nike (NKE), and Virgin, small companies can also develop potent brands and market them successfully, says Steve Manning, managing director at Igor, a branding and naming firm based in San Francisco.

“A brand creates an image in the mind of the consumer. It says something is different at your firm, something worth more than business as usual. If your firm is a commodity, your customers will choose you solely on the basis of price or getting something for free. If you’ve got a brand, you’re selling a lifestyle and you can sell anything you want,” Manning says.

Who is Your CCO?

Posted on September 21, 2011

By Guest Author, Randi Busse, Workforce Development Group, Inc. www.workdevgroup.com

CCO? Do you mean CEO? COO? CFO? CLO? CMO?

No, I mean CCO. Chief Customer Officer. You do have one, don’t you?

A chief customer officer (CCO) is the executive responsible in customer-centric companies for the total relationship with an organization’s customers. Your company is “customer-centric”, isn’t it? This position is a relatively new addition to the C-suite and was developed to provide a single vision across all methods of customer contact. The CCO is often responsible for influencing activities of customer relations throughout an organization, whether in the call center, sales, marketing, finance, fulfillment or post-sale support. The CCO typically reports to the Chief Executive Officer and is charged with improving the customer experience.

Chief Customer Officers may be known by many titles, however, according to the Chief Customer Officer Council, the CCO is properly defined as “an executive who provides the comprehensive and authoritative view of the customer and creates corporate and customer strategy at the highest levels of the company to maximize customer acquisition, retention, and profitability.”

Over the past five years, Forrester Research has observed an increase in the number of companies with a single executive leading customer experience efforts across a business unit or an entire company. These individuals often serve as top executives, with the mandate and power to design, orchestrate and improve customer experiences across every customer interaction. And whether firms call them Chief Customer Officers (CCOs) or give them some other label, these leaders sit at high levels of power at companies as diverse as Allstate, Dunkin’ Brands, Oracle and USAA.

When companies with CCOs made the decision to establish such a position, it often was because of a mass exodus of customers. However, other reasons included a change in leadership, a desire to accelerate growth, a reaction to a competitor’s actions or a response brought about by rapid growth.

The key role for the Chief Customer Officer is to lead Customer Experience Management:

  1. To learn what customers value and how they feel about your organization and the current experience you provide.
  2. To interpret this feedback and prioritize the most important issues.
  3. To enact change that closes the gap between customer expectations and the actual experience delivered.
  4. Finally, to monitor key metrics to ensure that your organization continually improves the customer experience.

Despite the many successes resulting from the creation of a CCO role, it’s also important to recognize that a chief customer officer is not a silver bullet for a company’s customer experience problems.

A 2009 study of over 860 corporate executives revealed that companies that had increased their investment in customer experience management over the previous three years reported higher customer referral rates and customer satisfaction (Strativity Group, 2009).

Think your company is too small to have a CCO? Think again. Those big companies started small.

Why you should be wary if you offer free Wi-Fi

Posted on July 22, 2011

By Guest Author, Patricia Charla

If you offer free Wi-Fi and your customers use it to illegally download or share copyrighted content, you could be punished as Internet service providers step up enforcement, NFIB warned. “Some people don’t want to pirate music from home, because they’re afraid of getting caught, so they’ll use the Wi-Fi connection of a neighbor or the coffee shop down the street,” said NFIB’s Tony Gagliardi, who gives tips on keeping your Wi-Fi protected.

Please play with the words so it isn’t a verbatim pick-up.  A lot of limo companies are putting wifi in their sedans, limos and buses.  Some of them are even providing Ipads in their cars.

Read the full article here.

Have You Seen These?

Posted on July 15, 2011

These curious little black and white squares have literally been popping up everywhere. You’ve probably seen them in ads, catalogues, brochures and more. What are they and what do they do?

U.S. Postal Service is offering a 3% discount on standard mailings that include a QR (quick response) code in July & August 2011

 
Quick Response (QR) codes

are specific matrix barcodes that are digitally encoded with information that both barcode readers and smart phones can read. The QR code can contain a link to a specific web page (URLs), text or other types of data. A more sophisticated QR code can be used to embed other useful data like videos, music or promotional campaigns. A QR code is capable of 360 degree (omni-directional), high-speed reading.

Most smart phones (as of 2011) allow you to download a free “QR reader” that enables any phone to become a QR code scanner. Beginning in 2011, some phones already have this app as part of its standard software.

Having a QR code in your promotional materials grabs attention, leading users to high-quality, high-value content instantaneously. Skillfully using this tool in conjunction with social media marketing, video marketing or a high-quality (mobile) web site can help companies stand out in a marketplace that craves variety. Many businesses use QR codes innovatively to reach consumers via posters, billboards, ads, etc. to provide information regarding consumer campaigns, promotions and other company information.

QR codes can be a great branding tool. Mobile phone users can be directed to web sites where users can download ads, ringtones, logos, videos and flash presentations. Using QR codes on packaging is another innovative way to advertise products or offer information.

For businesses looking to differentiate themselves from their competition, QR codes should be on their radar. By integrating QR codes and a mobile friendly web site into their campaigns, businesses can leverage the needs and attention of the smart phone user more effectively. 

Let Create-A-Card, Inc, your marketing specialist for the transportation industry, help you capitalize on this unique marketing opportunity and begin leveraging the potential of Quick Response codes in your business today!

Happy Independence Day Weekend!

Posted on July 1, 2011

From all of us at Create-A-Card, Inc., we wish you and your family a very happy Independence Day!

We also would like to take a moment to thank our wonderful service men and women who are protecting our rights as American citizens, and remember those who died in that service.

Thwarting Waste with a File Format That Can’t Be Printed

Posted on June 3, 2011

Digital documents (made out of ones and zeroes) are a lot less wasteful than paper (made out of carbon-eating trees). To minimize unnecessary printing, some people add a reminder at the bottom of emails that says something like “Please consider the environment before printing this.”

But the folks at the World Wildlife Fund have another solution. This week, they released a new file format—WWF, of course—which is, essentially, “a PDF that cannot be printed out.” Drop by Save as WWF, Save a Tree to download software that will add a “Save as WWF” option to your print menu. Any WWFs you create can be opened by programs that open PDFs—but can’t be printed.

Will you really save a tree every time you use this new file format? Obviously not. But the campaign does provide an effective reminder that a lot of paper gets wasted out of plain old carelessness.

Stop Hiring Employees and Start Hiring Owners

Posted on May 13, 2011

By Guest Blogger, Randi Busse
Workforce Development Group, Inc.

Imagine if all of the people that are representing your company were thinking and acting like owners of your business.  Do you think they might do their job differently?  Do you think they would take more pride in their work and make sure the job was done right the first time?  Is it possible they would come into work every day with a smile on their face excited about helping customers and solving their problems?  What impact do you think that would have on the experience that your customers have when they deal with your company?  Do you think they would feel valued and appreciated?  Would they be more loyal to your company?  Could that have a positive impact on your bottom line?

Many employees are just working for a paycheck.  They have tasks and functions that they have to do every day and many of them go through the motions detached from the people around them, whether they are customers or co-workers.  They act like robots, doing the same thing over and over again with no enthusiasm or passion.  What impact are these people having on your customers?  Do you think your customers are excited to speak with people that don’t care about them?  Do you think they are rushing to tell their friends about your company?  Or have they already left and gone to your competition?

Think about when YOU are the customer.  Who would YOU rather have taking care of you?  An employee or an owner?  Who do you think would provide you with a better experience?  Who would make sure you were happy?  Who would apologize to you if a problem occurred?  Who would genuinely thank you for your business?

Take a look around your company today.  Observe and listen.  Figure out if you have owners working for your company or whether they are “just” employees.  Your customers have already done that.  And perhaps they’ve decided not to do business with your company anymore because they don’t feel important and special. 

The next time you need to fill a position at your company, don’t get so caught up with how many years experience a candidate has.  Focus more on their attitude.  Do they have an “ownership” mentality?  If they do, that’s the person you want to consider hiring.  Employees are a dime a dozen.  Owners are the real prize.  Don’t hire employees, hire owners.  Your customers will be glad you did!