Exceeding Expectations: The Path to Stellar Customer Feedback

Exceeding Expectations: The Path to Stellar Customer Feedback

In the world of business, feedback is gold. It is the compass that guides our decisions, the barometer that measures our success, and the mirror that reflects our performance. But let’s face it; your customers will not tell you if everything went right in their interactions with you unless you ask them. The average consumer is bombarded with countless interactions daily, from the barista who makes their morning coffee to the online store where they shop. If every experience is “fine” or “as expected,” it doesn’t warrant a mention. Only the peaks and valleys, the extraordinary and the disastrous, compel customers to share their stories.

How can you improve those peaks of positive customer feedback and reduce the valleys of negative feedback? How do you stand out in a sea of your competitor’s content and create memorable customer experiences? Whether through proactively requesting feedback after a sale or organic reviews online (think Yelp! Or Google business reviews), there are ways to improve your customer’s feedback about your business.

Dare to be Different

In today’s competitive marketplace, where businesses frequently emulate successful models and heed the advice of “influencers” on best practices, positive customer feedback cannot be elusive. By daring to be the exception to the status quo and actively seeking and implementing customer feedback, you can distinctly set your business apart from the competition. This differentiation doesn’t always require a complete overhaul or reinventing the wheel. The essence lies in being authentic, staying true to your brand’s core values, and consistently offering something fresh and tailored to your customer’s feedback. In doing so, you stand out and foster a deeper connection with your audience. Ways to be different include:

  • Unique loyalty programs: Tailor rewards and incentives using direct input from customers. This ensures that the program is appealing and relevant, fostering increased brand loyalty and engagement.
  • Organizing community events: Host events that resonate deeply with your audience. Understanding their interests and values can create memorable experiences that strengthen community ties and enhance brand perception.
  • Showcasing products innovatively: Instead of traditional marketing, present your products in fresh, creative ways. This captures attention and highlights your brand’s commitment to innovation and staying ahead of the curve.
  • Communicating with your audience in unexpected places: As I wrote in a recent blog post, many businesses neglect to meet their audiences where they are talking about their businesses online. If you communicate with your customers online on their terms, you will learn new things and create new connections.

Go Above and Beyond

Meeting basic expectations is the baseline for your customers. Exceeding them is where the magic happens and where you have the best opportunity for positive customer feedback. Think about what you currently do. Everything from how you communicate with your customers to the products you order and services you provide. What could you amp up or improve upon? Here are some suggestions: 

  • Personalization: In an era of automation, a personal touch can make all the difference. This could be a handwritten thank-you note with an order or a personalized recommendation based on past purchases. Depending on what data you have on your customers, you could even send emails with more personalization than just their names.
  • Responsiveness: Quick and effective responses to queries or complaints can turn a potentially negative experience into a positive one. It shows customers that you value them and are committed to resolving their issues. Even swift responses to positive public feedback will show potential customers you are an active and engaged business.

Added value: Offer more than what your customers expect. This could mean giving free samples of your products, adding services to help ease the customer’s usage of your product, or educational content related to your product or service. Read my recent blog post about how Home Depot does this with its melding of online and in-person experiences.

Embrace the Unexpected

Surprise is a powerful emotion. When customers encounter the unexpected (in a good way), it creates a memorable experience. In my book, The Content Puzzle, I discuss how emotions play an important part in successful marketing. Humans don’t always make decisions based on logic or reason. Giving them something to feel can give them the impetus to act and hopefully purchase your product or service. Here are some ways to sprinkle unexpected delights: 

  • Random acts of kindness: Occasionally upgrade a regular customer’s order for free, send a surprise gift to loyal clients, or offer a complimentary service out of the blue. Small businesses are good at doing these types of things, but even big companies can build in “kindness” points in their interactions with their best customers.
  • Show them how it is done: Share behind-the-scenes looks at your business, tell the story of how your products are made, or share customer testimonials creatively. People love to see how things work, and behind-the-scenes videos or articles are good, evergreen content to keep in your back pocket.
  • Host unique events: Organize unexpected pop-up events or workshops in locations that your customers frequent that offer attendees genuine value. These could be educational sessions related to your products, fun interactive experiences, or a space to relax and enjoy complimentary refreshments. The surprise element of discovering a brand they love in an unexpected place can create a lasting impression.

Ask, Listen, and Act

Lastly, while it’s true that customers might not always vocalize their satisfaction, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t seek their feedback. Regularly ask your customers about their experiences. You can use surveys, feedback forms, or even direct conversations. But asking is just the first step. Listen to what they have to say and act on it. This continuous feedback loop and improvement will enhance your offerings and show customers that their opinions matter. Furthermore, by actively addressing their concerns and implementing suggestions, you refine your products and services and foster a sense of community. Customers feel valued and integral to your brand’s growth, leading to increased loyalty and trust. Oftentimes, business owners become myopic about their products and services. Your customers often have great ideas for improving your offering. And all you must do is listen. 

Customer feedback 5 stars

Customer feedback is more than just comments or ratings; it’s the lifeblood of continuous improvement in the business world. In an era where many brands might seem indistinguishable, those who prioritize and act on customer feedback distinguish themselves. By actively seeking out and valuing this feedback, businesses can pinpoint areas of enhancement, innovate based on real needs, and solidify their customer bond. It’s not just about meeting expectations but about evolving with them. In the end, a brand that listens to its customers and iterates based on their feedback is one that’s poised for sustained success and growth.

Three Ways Content Marketing is Like Ice Cream

Three Ways Content Marketing is Like Ice Cream

I am a big fan of using comparisons to help explain what can be complex topics. In honor of National Ice Cream Day, which occurs every year on July 16, I thought I would compare content marketing and ice cream. You might be thinking, what in the world does ice cream have to do with content marketing? Surprisingly, quite a bit. Like a bowl of ice cream, content marketing for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) requires the right mix of ingredients, an appealing presentation, and a flavor that leaves your customers wanting more. Let’s delve into this delectable comparison.

The Right Mix of Ingredients

In ice cream making, it’s not just about mixing milk, sugar, and cream. It’s about balancing these ingredients in a way that results in a delightful texture and taste. Similarly, successful content marketing isn’t just about combining blog posts, social media updates, and email newsletters. It’s about crafting a strategy where each piece complements the others and contributes to the overall goals of your business.

The key here is variety. Just as vanilla ice cream alone can’t satisfy every palate, a single type of content won’t appeal to all your customers. You need to mix in different formats – blogs, infographics, videos, podcasts, etc. – to cater to diverse preferences. And just like making ice cream, your content marketing might not be perfect the first time you make it. Monitor your analytics to understand what content resonates most with your audience and adjust your ‘recipe’ accordingly.

Ice cream ingredients

Appealing Presentation

Ice cream parlors don’t just scoop ice cream into a bowl and serve it. They garnish it with syrups, sprinkles, and toppings, making it visually enticing (and yummier). The presentation is a vital part of the experience, as we eat with our eyes first. The same principle applies to content marketing. It’s not enough to just produce good content; it needs to be presented in a way that draws people in. A well-designed website, attention-grabbing headlines, and visually appealing images can make a big difference in whether your content is consumed or ignored. Remember, in the digital world, your content is competing with an ocean of other distractions. Make it as compelling as a well-presented sundae on a hot day. (If you are interested in this topic, you can learn more in my book, The Content Puzzle.)

Vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry ice cream on cone

Leaving a (Positive) Lasting Taste

Have you ever tasted an ice cream flavor so good that it lingered on your palate, making you crave more? That’s exactly what your content should do – make a lasting impression. Just like an ice cream maker crafts flavors that keep customers coming back, your content should be memorable and provide value that keeps your audience returning for more. In the context of SMBs, this could mean offering industry insights, practical tips, or thought leadership that can’t be found elsewhere. Content that solves problems or makes your audience’s life easier is the kind of “flavor” that will keep them coming back to your “shop”.

The Scoop

Like the perfect scoop of ice cream, effective content marketing requires the right blend of ingredients, an appealing presentation, and a lasting taste. By considering these elements, you can serve up a content strategy that’s as satisfying and successful as your favorite ice cream flavor. At the end of the day, remember this: content marketing, like ice cream, is a treat that should be savored. So take the time to craft your strategy, pay attention to your audience’s preferences, and remember to enjoy the process. After all, what’s sweeter than watching your business grow with a strategy you’ve carefully whipped up? So, business owners, are you ready to scoop up some success with your content marketing strategy? Get your spoons ready, and let’s dive in! Contact me to learn how.

Five Marketing Books I am Loving Right Now

Five Marketing Books I am Loving Right Now

There are so many great marketing books available right now. My bookshelf is getting full. Here are some of the marketing books I love right now (in no particular order). 

Everybody Writes by Ann Handley

Everybody Writes, Ann Handley

In this update of her best-selling first edition, Ann Handley expands on this practical guide to writing better content in the digital age. There are so many great tips in this book and it is formatted in such a way that it is easy to digest and easy to find what you are looking for. This is one of those books that you keep close at hand because you will constantly be referring back to it. I have highlighted and tabbed content from the beginning to end of this book. 

Marketing Artificial Intelligence: AI, Marketing, and the Future of Business<br />
by Paul Roetzer and Mike Kaput

Marketing Artificial Intelligence: AI, Marketing, and the Future of Business by Paul Roetzer and Mike Kaput

You can’t work in in marketing right now without being inundated with articles and information about AI. In this book, Paul Roetzer and Mike Kaput lay the foundation for anyone who works in marketing, because AI will affect all of us. They review how AI will affect various aspects of our roles from advertising to analytics to social media. They even review how to choose the right AI vendors. As this field is moving so fast, I also encourage you to visit their website for more information. 

Using Behavioral Science in Marketing: Drive Customer Action and Loyalty by Prompting Instinctive Responses by Nancy Harhut

Using Behavioral Science in Marketing: Drive Customer Action and Loyalty by Prompting Instinctive Responses by Nancy Harhut

If you have followed me for some time, you know that I have a passion for psychology in marketing. Which is why I love this book. Nancy goes into many audience behaviors that content marketers need to be familiar with such as the human need for control, how to use loyalty and reciprocity, and how labeling can have an impact on audience behavior. There are also many case studies and watch-outs in here that make it well worth a read.

Epic Content Marketing, Second Edition: Break through the Clutter with a Different Story, Get the Most Out of Your Content, and Build a Community in Web3 by Joe Pulizzi and Brian Piper

Epic Content Marketing, Second Edition: Break through the Clutter with a Different Story, Get the Most Out of Your Content, and Build a Community in Web3 by Joe Pulizzi and Brian Piper

In this update of the first edition of Epic Content Marketing, Joe Pulizzi and Brian Piper provide a comprehensive overview of content marketing strategy, how to build communities, and how to work in a changing digital world. They also include interviews with several content marketing leaders in different industries to find out how they are managing their content marketing programs. This book has a ton of resources throughout it for reference. 

Content Chemistry, 6th Edition:: The Illustrated Handbook for Content Marketing by Andy Crestodina

Content Chemistry, 6th Edition:: The Illustrated Handbook for Content Marketing by Andy Crestodina

The 6th edition of this popular content marketing book was published in October. The reason I love this book is because it is chock full of helpful and actionable tips and tricks. As with Everybody Writes, the format of this book makes it easy to digest and refer back to for any topic it covers. This is another book that I have written in, highlighted, and tabbed. This book is very visual, which is another plus in my opinion. One of the quotes from the book speaks directly to this point, “In a desert of text, images are water. Give your readers a drink!”

I would be remiss to complete this list without a few other content marketing books that have been valuable to me recently.  These include The Content Fuel Framework and Prove It, both by Melanie Deziel; Talk Triggers by Jay Baer; The 1-Page Marketing Plan by Allan Dib; and F#ck Content Marketing by Randy Frisch. 

In addition to these great books, I would love for you will check out my book, The Content Puzzle…and the Missing Piece.

I hope that you found this list helpful. Is there something that you are reading that I missed? Let me know in the comments.

Content Marketing During the Holidays

Content Marketing During the Holidays

You may wonder how you can use content marketing – which is meant to be more informative than sales-focused – during the more sales-focused time of the year. In fact, the holidays are a great time to share content that helps people celebrate the season. And you don’t need to wait until December to start sharing holiday-themed informational content. People this time of year are stressed about getting ready for parties, buying gifts, being with family, the weather – all kinds of things. You can endear yourself to your audience by providing content that will help them ease their stress. This could include things such as:

    • Ways to organize a home get together
    • Lists of gift ideas
    • Techniques to create calm
    • Money saving tips
    • Ways to show gratitude 

Now that you have some ideas to start your planning, here are some tips for your strategy:

    • Start planning now! Decide what kind of content you want to create around the holidays (e.g., recipes, gift guides, DIY projects), then brainstorm ideas.
    • Create a calendar of events to help you plan your content strategy. Space your content out and make sure that your content formats are appropriate for the channel you are using and the preferences of your audiences on those channels.
    • Use social media to spread the word about your content. Share links to your posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc. You don’t have to share every post on every channel. The content should be appropriate for the channel.
    • Don’t forget to add a call to action at the end of each post. What do you want people to do after reading or watching what you have posted? Visit your website? Tell a friend? Your calls to action should be determined when you set your goals.
    • Make sure your web content is optimized for search engines. With Google’s new Helpful Content Update, they are putting more emphasis on content that is helpful for the people visiting your site. Write for humans, not robots.
    • Include images in your web content. Images make your blog posts more visually appealing and engaging. And be sure to include Alt Text on your images for accessibility compliance.
    • Write compelling headlines. Headlines are the first thing visitors read when they land on your page. If your headline isn’t compelling enough, readers may leave your site without getting the information you want to share.  

What helpful content do you plan on sharing with your audience this holiday season? Leave a comment below or tag me on social media @hijinxmarketing with your answer.

*Note: the first draft of this article was created using Frase.io AI content generator. If you are interested in the new frontier of using AI for content generation, give it a try! 

Content Inspiration – Quizzes

Content Inspiration – Quizzes

We tend to get stuck in the same routines, using the same tactics, formats, and channels. I am starting a series that will showcase examples of types of content that you might want to consider adding into your marketing mix.

This month, let’s focus on quizzes. They can be fun, educational, or functional. They also serve a dual purpose. Not only are they a good engagement tool, they provide you with information about your audience. Some examples of quizzes include:

  • Ask your audience to choose from a list of possible challenges to accomplishing a task.
  • Have your audience choose from 3 – 4 icons to identify their favorite item.
  • Take people through a personality quiz to determine which of your products would be best for them.
  • People love to show off their knowledge. Let them tell you how smart they are on a particular topic through a series of fun questions.


  • Be clear that you are collecting their answers for marketing purposes.
  • Don’t have too many questions in your quiz. If it is too long, your audience will check out without completing it.
  • Make sure you have a call-to-action at the end of the quiz that takes your customer closer to a product purchase.
  • Provide people a way to share their results!

Check out these examples below 👇

Red Lobster created a quiz that encouraged users to discover their “Endless Shrimp flavor” and shared it on social media. This was visually appealing (and mouthwatering if you like shrimp) and fun for people to take.

People who are passionate about a topic usually want to show how much they know about that topic. The Chicago Bulls created a fun quiz where people could test their trivia knowledge about the team. The results were shared after answering each question and users could see if they were correct.

Beauty subscription brand Birchbox created a quiz where their audience could answer questions to find their makeup brand spirit animal. After the quiz was completed, Birchbox would recommend makeup for the user based on their answers.