Sunday, May 29, 2011

Standing Behind Your Product

Recently I had two product issues and the manner in which those issues were handled is the subject of today’s post.

It is bound to happen. As careful as companies try to be, mistakes are made and the resulting product is not up to standard.

What happened to me? I found a long, dark, curly hair in my sealed yogurt container. In a separate instance, the product arrived punctured and was a mess. In both instances, I sent emails to the companies involved. Particularly in the case of the yogurt company, health standards were a concern. I am happy to report that I received responses to those emails and each company offered to make up the loss. The yogurt company proposed coupons and the coffee company said they would reship the order.

The yogurt coupons never came. A deduction could be made that the offer was an empty one and the company doesn’t really want to persuade me to return. That is probably just as well. I don’t know if I could make myself buy it again. That kind of breach is hard to get over. I had a similar experience with a local bagel shop and have never returned. Still, without the enticement of free product, I know I will never buy it in the future.

In the case of the coffee, I did not expect a refund or replacement. The actual value of what was damaged was about $1.00 and I wrote the company merely to make them aware of a potential shipping problem.

So what did these two companies communicate to me? I went to both as a result of referrals from friends ( another form of communication I will address in the next post) but I will make future purchasing decisions based on how these two companies responded to my problem.

These are hard times. Like most people, I carefully consider where to spend my money. There are plenty of yogurt and coffee companies out there. It is very easy for me to make a switch. In one case, I have.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Posting the Winning Job Ad

Many things are taught in college business schools and some of them are actually useful in the real world.  Writing skills are usually not part of the curriculum and no communication courses include instruction on how to write a help wanted ad that gets you what you want.

I just finished reading Bait and Switch, a book about a job hunt experienced by the writer, Barbara Ehrenreich.  Out of curiosity, I looked at some of the jobs currently posted on job boards and found them to be as dreadful as I remember. It’s no wonder hiring managers are inundated by resumes that are not suitable. My post today is not about Ehrenreich’s book or about job searches.  It is about communication.

What follows are just four tips for writing ads that may help you find the perfect team player and keep a few hundred irrelevant resumes from hitting your desk.

First, keeping your company’s identity a secret is understandable but you should name your industry.  This will weed out those who cannot or refuse to be associated with it, whatever it may be. Specific industries can also be attractive. To get a team player, advertise for someone who wants to be part of your particular league. 

Second, give a general geographic area, particularly in large metropolitan areas. Also state if the location is accessible by public transportation.  Public transportation is a two-way benefit.Your employees arrive without the frustration caused by an hour drive on a busy roadway and you get them focused and ready to work.

Third, indicate if background checks and drug testing are required. This will discourage from applying those who cannot pass these tests. It may also mean that the resumes you receive are based in truth.

Finally, why include words like energetic, dynamic, or friendly? Isn’t that assumed?  How many employers are seeking applicants who are lethargic, non-reactive, or grumpy?

Employers expect applicants to communicate well in cover letters and resumes.  It is only right that companies reciprocate.  Tell applicants what you expect and what you really want.  Maybe, through clear and concise communication, you’ll get it.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Vineyard?

You’ve probably seen the ads. A brokerage firm uses a technique in which the actors appear as animation. It is an eerie affect but effective in that it grabs our interest. And our attention is exactly what this advertiser wants.

The gist of the commercials is that this particular brokerage firm deals in reality. It will help its clients prepare for an achievable retirement. It offers guidance that makes sense in today's economy.

I am not commenting on the pros or cons of using this brokerage.  My purpose is to ask you to consider the effectiveness of the ad itself.  Have you noticed it? Do you listen to the script? Does it speak to you on any level?

The rotoscope animation caught my eye instantly, as it was designed to do, and I was fascinated by the effect. How do they do that? It reminded me a little of the way The Polar Express was made with image capture technology.

This ad campaign intrigues me as a writer. The script tells the story succinctly and gives voice to what many of us are feeling.  How often have we seen commercials from other investment firms that show us long, deserted beaches, foreign travel destinations, and, of course, the California vineyard? How did we react to those ads?

To be effective, writing must give voice to what people are thinking and feeling while, at the same time, imparting fact and truth. The reason some written work has been with us for centuries is that the authors were able to do that. In A Tale of Two Cities, as an example, we recognize our own penchant to become an unthinking mob while we retain the hope that we could be as self-sacrificing as Sidney Carton.

The brokerage ad campaign is not Dickens. However, it has been around since 2005 and it does tap into what I’m sure many people are thinking - a vineyard?

And that’s good writing.