Posts Tagged ‘Gayle O’Donnell’

Solid Gold

January 28, 2011

You can’t escape the ads to buy or sell gold.  In tough economic times, gold becomes even more popular as an investment making it a great time to sell gold you may have and no longer need. 

But really, what do you know about selling gold?  If you are like most of us, nothing!  You may have gone through your drawers and found old gold items you inherited or just no longer wear, but how do you go about selling it? 

That was the situation Gayle O’Donnell recently found herself in.  She had old gold jewelry but was apprehensive about being taken advantage of in the selling process.  The thought of putting her items in an envelope and mailing it off made her uncomfortable.  So she did what most of us do when we are in uncharted waters; she asked for referrals from friends and she read reviews on the internetHer original intent was to get quotes from 2 places to be sure she was getting a fair price for her gold.  However, when she went to her appointment at Sound Gold Buyers in the Ballard area of Seattle, they gained her confidence and trust through the education they gave her that she never went anywhere for a 2nd opinion.

Each step of the way, they explained the testing  used to determine the gold content (14k vs 24k etc.) and the sophisticated scales which are both calibrated by State regulators and locked  for accuracy.  On the website for Sound Gold Buyers  you can watch a short video to see the process for yourself even before you make your appointment.

This education provided to the consumer instills trust and confidence – essential elements in doing business successfully.  These factors are even more important when you deal in goods or services customers do not have a great deal of knowledge about, ones they don’t use often and that involve a large amount of money.   Auto repairs, irrigation and septic systems, many home improvements, even mattress purchases all fall into this category as well.

If your business is one where customers have natural skepticism based on lack of knowledge, build trust by providing basic education on the process, the options and the features/benefits to the consumer.  Also encourage and utilize favorable customer reviews both on your website and on community websites such as   

Trust and confidence are two important elements of earning long-term business and valuable referrals.  Be sure you are doing all you can to earn them by providing education to allow the consumer to make informed decisions.

Exceptional Service to Their Door

January 7, 2011

Wednesday’s post about “pushing the Reset button” generated a flurry of emails.  Many of you liked the idea of challenging the “status quo” and trying new ways to do business in 2011.  One great example of this is Paper Passionista.
Those of you planning to attend the Seattle Wedding Show this weekend to look for wedding invitations will likely be disappointed.  Specialty retailers have been hard hit by the recession.  Even major stationery brands such as Crane have closed their Seattle retail stores offering very few printed invitation options for anyone wanting something nicer than just Costco.

Horror story abound of brides who have ordered over the internet and received tissue-paper quality, misspellings and barely legible printing.

One Woodinville bride went to a mall store that has a few invitation books but no qualified staff to assist.  Her invitations made NO MENTION of the GROOM’S PARENTS!  Not a great way to start out married life with your in-laws!

Paper Passionista to the rescue! In her own “Reset” button move, Gayle O’Donnell closed her retail store, All About Weddings and Celebrations and launched her innovative new model, an “on location” invitation and stationery service. Yes, she brings her years of knowledge and experience TO YOU! She has all the best lines of invitations and stationery for every type of special occasion – all without the overhead of a retail store!

How it works: You make an appointment, have a phone chat with Gayle so she can get a sense of your vision for the event and then she brings the books of the best options to you.  You can meet at your home, office, coordinator’s location or even a neighborhood Starbucks.  Hassle free, personalized service and on YOUR schedule!

This is a great example of changing how business has always been done and making it even more customer responsive.

If you have an “out of the box” idea of how to shake up YOUR business, don’t assume your current vendors won’t embrace it. Gayle was concerned several of her premium, designer lines wouldn’t continue to sell to her with her new business model but in fact, they were thrilled!

Don’t be afraid to forge your own path. 20 years ago when I started Sleep Country USA, no other mattress store looked like mine nor did they offer the customer focused services that became our trademark.  The business landscape is ever changing and the best companies continue to change and evolve as well.

“Expert” Marketing

March 12, 2010

Are you an expert in your field? Looking for a low cost way to reach thousands, often hundreds of thousands of YOUR target market? Be an Expert on a local radio show!

Every Saturday and Sunday along the AM dial in most markets, the Monday-Friday talk format is replaced by a series of typically 1-3 hour programs on various topics.  Gardening, Cooking, Money Management, Estate Issues, Wine, Legal Issues, Pets, Business Topics, Interior Design, Car Repair, Home Improvement and even a program devoted to Weddings and the bride-to-be.  Sometimes there is even a local AM station with such programming all week long including one in Seattle which features the popular show “Chat with Women” 5 days a week.

These shows are usually hosted by a local expert(s) and most have guests on related topics.  Example: The wedding radio show: NearlyWed Radio is hosted by 2 long-time wedding professionals, Gayle O’Donnell and Greg Lowder.  Guest might include people who specialize in wedding flowers, table decorations, unique venues, cake masterpieces, custom vows, those who will officiate in unusual settings, getting “fit” in time for your wedding, travel experts on top budget honeymoon spots – if your business does anything to do with weddings  – you could be a guest!

The show “Inside Out” is hosted by popular interior designer, Tami Michaels.  Guests are experts in everything from paint, wall-coverings, budget room make-overs, lighting, plumbing, energy efficiency measures for your home and even green technology for homeowners.

Most of the shows cover the cost of the airtime through some kind of sponsorship  but the amount is nominal. A ten-twenty minute interview is worth far more than a few 60 second radio spots would be and it likely costs a fraction! Plus, you don’t have to write, record and edit an actual “commercial”.  You just have to be what you already are; an EXPERT talking about what you love to do to people who need and want your products and services.

Many also offer an option to get a copy of your interview in an MP3 format which is perfect for putting on your website for future visitors to hear even if they weren’t listening in when it first aired.

Your assignment: This Saturday and Sunday, surf the AM dial in your market beginning about 9:00 AM.  Make a note of the various programs, times, topics, hosts and contact information.    Some of the station websites list the “local programming” but listening gives you a flavor of the show to see what is a good fit for you.

Next: Contact the appropriate program(s) in your market.  Have a short paragraph or couple of sentences for the host about why you would make a great resource for their audience and ask what is needed to become a guest.

When you consider the many benefits of being seen (or heard) as an EXPERT in your field by your specific target market, in YOUR geographic region – this is marketing you would be crazy NOT to do!

The Face of Your Business

January 20, 2010

Who is the face of your business?  Many people in the Pacific Northwest thought of me as the face of the business I founded, Sleep Country USA because I appeared in the television and radio commercials.  However, most businesses do not have an owner in the public spotlight.  Often the owner’s name is not part of the business name.  Many times, the customer may not ever know who owns a particular business.  In any of those situations, the face of your business becomes the first face (or voice) the customer meets.

This past weekend I spent Saturday and Sunday at the Seattle Wedding Show helping out my friend, Gayle O’Donnell by working with her team in the booth for her business, All About Weddings and Celebrations.   The booth represents a wonderful opportunity to introduce her store to the hundreds of brides-to-be who visit the show as they plan their upcoming weddings.

I’ve worked the show a number of years and have gotten to know many of the other vendors.  I’m always impressed by the great amount of effort put into creating a booth that is both welcoming to the attendees and representative of the goods or services offered.  Tastes of catering menus and samples of wedding cakes are handed out, musicians are playing, videos and large format photos show venues for both ceremonies and honeymoons and lively fashion shows take the stage several times a day.  Booth staff typically dress either to represent what they do; catering staff in chef coats, tuxedo clad providers of men’s wear rentals or even just in company logo attire or colors.

For all the time, money and energy put into making a good presentation at the show; the investment is only as good as the people you have staffing the space. This is true whether it is a special event such as the Wedding Show, a trade show or your physical place of business.  As I made my rounds through the Convention Center over the weekend, most of the vendors were outstanding; warm, friendly and engaging.   However, there was a small percentage where the staff did not have the right personality for the environment and as a result, did not represent the business well.

Having staffed 17 days at our booth in the Puyallup Fair every year, I understand first-hand the challenges of trying to staff both a booth and your regular location(s).  That being said, “any warm body” WILL NOT do! These individuals are holding the reputation of your business in their hands, choose them wisely.  Whether temporary situations such as an event show, a trade show or your regular place of business; the first person the customer interacts with becomes the face of your business.

Sometimes we employ people for their skills and forget it doesn’t matter how much they know, if they can’t engage a customer, they will never get the chance to demonstrate their knowledge.

Take a look at your business.  Are you getting the conversion rate from prospects to customers you need or expect?  If not, do you have the right person greeting these prospects?  Are they warm, friendly and engaging?   What about when a customer calls in?  Who greets them?  Are they good on the phone?  If you aren’t sure, have a candid friend visit or make some phone calls to give you feedback.  We used a professional mystery shopping service to routinely visit all our locations to provide these snapshots of the customer experience.

You have so much invested in your business, its critical the “face of your business” accurately reflect what you have to offer customers in order to be successful in our competitive marketplace.

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