Monday, June 8, 2009

Merchandise Only or Store Credit for Returns, the Folly

For those of you would prefer to listen rather than read, this show was originally broadcast on June 8, 2009 and you can listen to archived version at:


Let’s talkfirstabout the difference between advertising, promotion, publicity, public relations and marketing.

There is a famous saying that illustrates these differences:
If the circus comes to town and you paint a sign that says- “Circus Coming to Fairground Saturday,” that’s advertising.
If you put a sign on the back of an elephant and walk him into town, that’s promotion.
If the elephant walks through the majors flowerbed, that’s publicity.
If you can get the major to laugh about it, that’s public relations.
And if you planned the elephants walk, that’s marketing.”
If the town’s citizens go to the circus, you show them the many entertainment booths, explain how much fun they’ll have spending money at the booths, answer their questions and ultimately, they spend a lot of money at the circus. THAT’S SALES!!!!!

I was inspired to do this particular show and interrupt my series on twitter because of an incident in a local store that happened to me this past week. Two weeks ago while walking in the Southside of Pittsburgh after dinner I found a delightful little store and was intrigued by the name. My female business associate and I decided to go in and check it out. On first glance it was a delightful store but for small women, actually perky teens and the adorable young women who stroll the club scenes at night in the Southside. Nothing in the store would fit us, but the costume jewelry was quirky, inexpensive and delightful. The shoes were a bit too high of a heel for us but the accessories were conversation pieces. The sales clerks were probably wondering what two senior citizens of such size and stature (to coin a phrase) were doing in their store.

I happen to love big, gaudy, unique, conversation starting jewelry and I have four nieces of the size that this store offers to buy for. So despite not fitting the profile for their perfect customer, I would have been a great one, but not now. Why you are asking if the store was so delightful?

Well let’s talk about the famous quote that I started out with, that’s advertising. The only advertisement that I have seen for this store is its unique name which caused us to go into the store in the first place, it’s location, which is simply real estate on the Main St of Southside, and its delightful contents once you get in the door. It’s great prices and unique contents contribute I am sure to word of mouth advertising. Remember, word of mouth advertising is great as long as it’s good. One satisfied customer will tell one, possibly two people but a dissatisfied customer will tell ten or more, statistical studies have proved this time and again.

Did I mention that I brought a delightfully gaudy pair of huge sunglasses that not only keep the sun out of my eyes but are great attention grabbers? I probably did not and perhaps will not because of my bad experience from the second purchase that I made that day. I found a wonderfully designed bracelet that I thought would be great for my son’s girlfriend’s birthday. It was a unique, eye catching piece of jewelry and I was delighted with my firnds. Sunglasses for me and a birthday gift for son’s gal. I was definitely coming back as these two delightful finds cost me less than $20.00. I am sure the owner was happy also because I paid in CASH. Now if the story had ended here that would be a great example of PROMOTION.

However, the story does not end here. I wore the sunglasse and everyone thought they were delightful but I only wore them once so far because they are hot pink and I don’t wear hot pink every day besides I have a great collection of sunglasses. But the bracelet did not suit my son’s girl because it was too large and it fell off her arm. So I tried it on, it fell off mine. Then we thought it might be an upper arm bracelet and had several people try it on, to no avail. This gorgeously designed bracelet had a design flaw.

So I took the bracelet, with the wonderful little jewelry tag on fine white string still attached and the receipt to the store and the bracelet was in the original bag. I had in mind to buy a great pair of bright yellow and rhinestone earrings that reminded me of the fifties, retro jewelry and I am sure I would have found several other gaudy pieces of “must have” jewelery. I was not prepared for the “PUBLIC RELATIONS ” fiasco that ensued. The beautiful young, size two sales clerk told me she would be glad to exchange the bracelet for store merchandise or store credit but that I could not get my money back. Now mind you, when I went into the store I did not ask for my money back, but she pointed to a sign 5 by 8 in a picture frame beside where she was standing on the counter and obscured by the same kind of delightfully gaudy flowers reminiscent of the delightfully gaudy jewelry, in good taste, considering the contents of the store. But nevertheless the sign was very small and not in plain view.

When the clerk told me this I became a little less of my normally diplomatic self as she was telling me that she had tried the bracelet on with the same challenge but unfortunately the store policy was, Merchandise Ony or Store Credi for Returns and it was prominently printed on the sales receipt. Excuse me, correct me if I am wrong but doesn’t the customer get the sales receipt after the shop owner has already received your hard earned money? Some really bad PUBLICITY now began.

I asked the young size two sales clerk to call the owner, told her I was unhappy and that I had a several radio shows and that I would love to talk about what a wonderful store this was. She called the owner the first time in front of me and neglected to say anything about the radio show. Mind you the store had several customers now because it was a peak time of day. So I had a “spritied” second discussion with the size two sales clerk and asked her to call the owner again. This time she went to the back room to avoid the eyes and ears of the customers in the store. I am sure she left out the part about the radio shows and told the owner this “fat woman” who would probably never buy again in the store was causing a scene in this quaint, small little shop.

She came back with the great news that the owner said that the store policy stands and another admonition that she would be glad to exchange the defective bracelet for something else or store credit. Well by now I was definitely tired of being pushed around by this young lady who was only do ing her job and left the store with the knowledge that this was some pretty bad “MARKETING” on the part of the stores owner.

Now mind you, how many people would come into the store at all if there were a prominent sign on the wall that said Merchanside Only or Store Credit for Returns?
Not too many, but how many more people would be turned on by 100% Satisfaction Guarnteed or Your Money Back.

Now I do understand the reasoning behind this policy because of the area and its demographics of young, hip chics with champagne tastes and beer pocket books, however, there are also people like me who would spend and some 250,000.00 condo owners who would spend also.

This blog post can be reproduced in its entirety with the following information:
© Joanne Quinn-Smith 2009, Monday Morning Marketeer™ 412-628-5048
Listen at:
Or on its unique radio channel at:
Joanne Quinn-Smith is the Creative Energy Officer of Dreamweaver Marketing Associates in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and an expert on Web 2.0 Branding.
Joanne has also been designated by the 2009 U.S. Small Business Administration as the Small Business Journalist of the Year for her work with information relevant to small business.
Follow at:

MondayMorningMarketeer, Using Twitter for Local Marketing

Using Twitter for Local Marketing

For those of you who prefer to listen rather than read, this show was recorded on 5-11-09 and archived version is available at:

The Twitter social networking and micro-blogging service launched only two years ago, has rocketed in usage numbers quickly, and recently turned red hot. There are four million connections between twitter users. It seems that a vast number of people are trying twitter but not many really know how to use it, as a matter of fact, yours truly is just beginning to learn herself.
However we should know what celebrities like Ellen De Generes, Ashton Kutcher know. There are articles and websites abounding on Twitter celebrites and twitter businesses. Other celebrities using Twitter like Britney Spears and MC Hammer- Ms. Spears has embraced Social Media with the release of her latest album with the launch of a Twitter account. - Musician, pastor, rising Internet celeb - it seems MC Hammer twitters pop up everywhere.

Twitter is going the way of Face Book and LinkedIn, from a casual optin espoused by the younger generation, it has become a “must do” for business owners. For the newbies out there here’s a quote from the blotg 10,000 words which is all about journalism:
"Twitter is transforming from gimmicky messaging tool to marketing powerhouse." — Caroline McCarthy, WebWare

Ever since Barak Obama used Twitter so successfully to update his in person appearances and other info, Twitter has taken off. You might say Twittr is the the social media this president didn’t invent but at least popularized. Someone has actually called twitter the telegraph system of Web 2.)
Many companies are rapidly cluing into the promotional value, but smaller businesses appear slow to hop on the bandwagon. Here are a few tips on leveraging

Twitter to help your locally-oriented business.
Follow me at:
Not completing a bio

The cardinal sin of most new Twitter users is not filling out the small but important section that says a bit about who they are. It could be a simple as a name (or a clever alias for the secret agents or painfully shy) or even just a sentence or two. If your goal is to get the conversation going — which is the point of Twitter after all — a bio can be the icebreaker.
You can also create a catchy, creative one line bio about yourself, please do! Remember twitter is social networking in miniature.

Protecting updates, but complaining about no followers

There are a few reasons to keep your updates private: not wanting to share your personal business with the world, thwarting spammers, etc. But many twitterers forget that by blocking updates from public view, they are also blocking potential followers. It's a give and take situation, so you gotta give a little to get something back.
Learning to use twitter effectively can definitely help you keep in touch with clients, prospects, suspects and others who can definitely grow your business.
Here’s the sort of thing you’d love to see: a customer happens by your store and is fascinated with something there, and “tweets” a pic of it out to all his Twitter followers:
Even better, if they endorse the business to their followers, this becomes an online species of word-of-mouth-marketing. So, how do you encourage this to happen?
Believe it or not, many internet savvy folks use twitter like they use the yellow pages. They may tweet about looking for Pittsburgh restaurant that has Middle Eastern Food or great fried chicken. How do you find these people and answer them, check out Twitter Search. This morning I checked in on Pittsburgh Marketing and found 15 posts, I did not find anyone looking for a marketing company but I was able to find 15 posts and monitor what some of my competitors are doing.
Be careful of spamming, it’s a challenge with e-mail and twitter might catch you also. You don’t want to lose your account because you answered a specific question by spamming with information about your business that simply was not applicable.
Here are some tips to using Twitter for Local Marketing
• I list my on line radio show topics each week with a link of course, if you are an entertainment venue or non-profit, you can list that weeks events, meetings, free webinars, be creative
• The benefits of following others and having them follow you is cross marketing, your tweets appear on their page and theirs on yours, So collaborate with some non-competitive businesses on your tweeting.
• If you have a local blog, tweet each time you post to promote your blog. Be sure to use a shortened URL in the tweet! You can find these at: Tiny URL
• Tweet out pics of special stuff going on with your store— things like new product teasers, celebs who visit your store, other interesting aspects of stuff your company does like charitable fundraisers.
• If business is slow that day, how about tweeting out an instant coupon with an eight hour deadline or today only!
• How about Tweet coupons that encourage tweet users to retweet your coupons or information.
• Once you’ve built up sufficient numbers of followers, use Twitter to perform quick polls about what products, features, services your customers would prefer. Cheap, fast input from your client base!
• Don’t just follow these tips, check out the tweeters that have thousands of followers and swipe and deploy what they are using, once an idea is out there unless it is copyrighted or trademarked it’s pretty much public domain, just please do not plagiarize, use the idea and make it your own.

Please do use the Twitter Directory. These are the things you can find there:
• Tweeter Directory
• Twitter Tools
• Twitter Mobile
• Wikis & Blogs
• Cool Stuff
• Twitter Bots
• Search Twitter
• Statistics & Tracking
• Twitter for Business
• Twitter Services
• Twitter Graphics
• Twitter Sharing
• Twitter Groups
• Twitter News
• Twitter Fame

This blog post can be reproduced in its entirety with the following information:
© Joanne Quinn-Smith 2009, Monday Morning Marketeer™ 412-628-5048
Listen at:
Or on its unique radio channel at:
Joanne Quinn-Smith is the Creative Energy Officer of Dreamweaver Marketing Associates in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and an expert on Web 2.0 Branding.
Joanne has also been designated by the 2009 U.S. Small Business Administration as the Small Business Journalist of the Year for her work with information relevant to small business.
Follow at: