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.

Content Inspiration – Polls

Content Inspiration – Polls


This month’s content format to try are polls. I love any content format that can serve multiple purposes. In this case, depending on where you put a poll (your own website, social media), you can capture your audiences attention as well as learn something about them. Here are some tips for creating polls:

  • Choose a topic that your audience will want to give their opinion on. It could be fun or functional, but it needs to be something that people will actually want to answer.
  • Keep it short. Don’t include too many questions or too many responses. Polls should be quick and easy to understand.
  • Use visuals when possible. You may not be able to do this on social media, but on your owned properties (like your website), you can make it visually appealing.
  • Give them the responses. Most people will want to see how their response compares to other people. After they reply, make sure you give them the current results of the poll.

Here are a couple examples of polls:



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! 

That’s a Wrap on Content Marketing World 2022

That’s a Wrap on Content Marketing World 2022

This year’s Content Marketing World conference did not disappoint. Two years after going entirely virtual due to COVID, the conference was back in full force in 2022. With more than 100 sessions, there was something for everyone in the content marketing industry. Whether you focus on writing, SEO, strategy, content creation, or AI, experts from across the spectrum presented the latest information on a wide variety of topics designed to make us all better marketing professionals.

With this year’s theme of “Drive Forward,” we’re taking a look beyond the finish line with some thoughts on this year’s conference from several of the attendees. Buckle your seatbelt and read on to learn what several content marketing experts took from this year’s conference.

A Killer Sales Strategy That Won’t Kill Your YouTube Channel

There is no magic formula to sales on YouTube (darn!) but Tim Schmoyer’s 3 bucket strategy comes as close as you can get.

In Tim’s Content Marketing World session “Creating A Sales Strategy for YouTube That Doesn’t Kill Your Channel” he laid out three content buckets you should focus on creating videos for:

  • Discoverable
  • Community
  • Sales

Similar to how you might approach email marketing, Tim’s 3 bucket strategy helps nurture your audience into a sale through a series of videos.

Single-handedly the best slide he shared, Tim laid out what the goal of each content bucket is, the style the video should emulate and the CTA that should be used (thank you Tim!):

Seems easy enough but where do you start? Tim kindly gave guidance on where a business should begin depending on the current standing of your YouTube channel:

  • New channel gaining momentum → Create mostly discoverable content
  • Channel has grown and received views but the number of views is very low → Create more community content
  •  Brought people in, have a community, and now are looking to monetize → It’s time for sales content!

If you still need some guidance, consider checking out Tim’s latest blog article with CMI, “Try These 5 YouTube Video Tips and Watch Your Results Improve (or Not)”.

Now, go create!

Ashley Baker, Coastline Marketing LLC, (Twitter | Website)

Create for an Influential Audience

“Why does content marketing take soooooo loooooooong to work?” – Andrew Davis, CMW 2022

“Because you’re wasting your best creative energy answering frequently asked questions.” – also Andrew Davis, paraphrased from memory, CMW 2022

Instead, he says, consider answering RARELY ASKED QUESTIONS. 


Because instead of battling it out trying to get end user attention in a sea of same (publishing the same keyword-focused SEO articles that everyone and their grandma is creating) you could be creating content for the C-suite and executives who heavily influence buying decisions. He calls it a top-down approach (see influence pyramid).

As someone obsessed with creating truly meaningful content—and repulsed by unoriginal, undifferentiated fluff—it felt like Andrew was sharing a massive secret with me during his keynote. WHICH IS WHAT GOOD CONTENT MARKETING SHOULD FEEL LIKE, RIGHT? 

There’s so much pressure to create more content.

To fill in content calendars.

To publish, publish, publish. 

But a refreshing theme bubbled up at CMW 2022:

More content isn’t the answer.

More meaningful content is. 

Content that resonates specifically with decision influencers—like secrets revealed. 

Content that feels like it was written by a person / company with a strong POV and voice (thanks, Ann Handley). 

Content business leaders recognize as dramatically different and instrumental in helping them win in tomorrow’s conditions.

See ya later commodity content. You’re no longer relevant. 

Ashley Guttuso, Chief Strategy Officer, Simple Focus Software | Audience Ops (LinkedIn | Twitter | TikTok)

2 Big Podcasting Myths… Busted

Companies often shy away from starting podcasts. Rob Walch, from libsyn, spoke at CMW on podcast creation and promotion. I’ve done podcasts for companies before and I’m always curious about how the process can be improved. While I listened, it struck me that there are two big myths associated with podcasting that may be holding you back from starting a podcast.

Myth #1: The podcast “airwaves” are completely saturated. There’s no way to cut through all that noise.

Truth: Yes, there are a couple million podcasts out there, but over 616,000 of those only have one episode. And, of the ~ 1 million podcasts that have produced 10 or more episodes, less than 400,000 are active.

Realization: There isn’t as much competition as you think. It’s probably worth it to start a podcast and move through any initial intimidation.

Myth #2: It’s too much work to start and maintain a podcast.

Truth: Yes, podcasts take time and resources to create and maintain. But— there are parts of a podcast that you can easily outsource. Teaming up with an agency experienced in creating podcasts reduces the amount of time your team needs to spend, while positioning you as the expert and making sure you continue to produce way more than those first 10 episodes.

Realization: There will be work, but you can minimize your time and maximize the impact of the podcast by getting some help to launch and regularly produce episodes. That way, you’re set up from the start to become one of the podcasts that lasts.

Busting these two big myths is great, but I skipped something important:

Why start a podcast?

  • You’ll have a fantastic series of asset that highlights your brand and your voice
  • You can establish yourself as a credible thought leader in your space
  • There is so much repurposing you can do once you have the podcast created

Podcasts can feel like a lot of work for a “saturated” space. If you put those negative and inaccurate beliefs aside and consider how you can use a podcast to your advantage, you might be surprised by the impact.

Sara Robinson, Director of Operations, Audience Ops

Enough with men, let’s quote women in our content

“The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer.” (Peter Drucker)

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” (John Wanamaker)

In articles and presentations, these two quotes are used all the time. There are similar quotes from Warren Buffet, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates that we use frequently. Did you ever stop to wonder: what do all of these quotes have in common?

They’re all from men!

In a Content Marketing World talk titled “Quote a Woman: Adding Women’s Voices to Your Content Marketing,” Penny Gralewski called out this issue and urged us to do something about it. The Senior Director, Product and Portfolio Marketing at DataRobot, Penny covered the following in her talk:

  • Why women’s buying behaviors and engagement trends matter
  • What unconscious bias may be lurking in your content
  • How to find and validate women’s quotes and research
  • When to convince leadership or clients that it’s time to add women’s voices

Penny shared ideas for adding relevant women’s voices to our content to better engage, motivate, and convert our audience. I loved this slide from Penny that provides a list of women you can quote from:

Later in the conference, I attended a talk by Jacquie Chakirelis titled “Creating Content to Change the World” and one of her slides contained this quote:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world.”

The quote is from Margaret Mead. Way to go, Jacquie! Perhaps Penny’s pleas are already making a difference.

Dennis Shiao, Founder, Attention Retention (Twitter | website)

When People Stop Being Polite and Start Getting Real – The Real World: Content Marketing World

The Teams and Culture and Career Skills tracks offered at Content Marketing World were chock full of honesty and #RadicalTransparency (shoutout Inbar Yagur for making this a weekly hashtag in my LinkedIn feed!).

As I sat in sessions about marketing burnout and imposter syndrome, I couldn’t help but nod my head and think “Me, too,” over and over again. I related greatly to the same challenges faced by Maureen Jann in her attempts to “balance” her work and home lives (is that even possible?!), and also to Divya Bisht who openly shared her experiences feeling like she didn’t belong in a new role.

While the struggle is real, there’s hope. Amy Higgins offered strategies and examples on how to build a happy and productive team. She recommends building “rules of engagement” for your team by having REAL conversations about how each teammate works best, accidental diminishers, and boundaries to help teams work better together – what a refreshing approach that is often ignored because it can be, well, uncomfortable. But we NEED to have these conversations to build trusted, safe environments for our teams.

My takeaway? We’re all human. Have those real conversations. Be open and honest with yourself and your leadership. Doing so will help you bring your best self to your work, and your life in general.

– Amy Fair, Content Marketing Manager, SpyCloud (Twitter | LinkedIn)

Why the Magic of Innovation Starts with Process

Processes… ugh. For some content marketers, it’s an ugly word. Maybe it feels inferior to the sparklier, shinier, more “creative” work that drew us into marketing.

But I can’t stop thinking about Robert Rose’s quote from his keynote: “Lack of process, ironically, locks us into ruts.”

If your content marketing team is looking to level up their innovation, or to “be more creative,” the answer lies in process. Innovation doesn’t just happen. It has to be baked into the content marketing operations and workflow, so that every innovation can actually go from creative brainstorm to flawless execution in a sustainable way.

Robert reinforced this idea with another humdinger: “Content itself can be copied. The competitive advantage is not the content: it’s creating a strategic, scalable comprehensive content operations function in your business.”

And I heard this idea reinforced through a plethora of other great sessions. Andi Robinson’s session on localizing global assets. Jenny Magic’s talk on getting team buy-in. Andrew Davis’s keynote on Rarely Asked Questions and the Influence Pyramid. And many more, all about the critical work of picking (or creating!) a process and then seeing it through to completion. 

The glitz and the glam (and the results) will come in time, but only after you’ve done the gritty work of establishing, documenting, and executing your content processes, from planning and creation all the way to operations and measurement. That right there is the real, roll-your-sleeves-up, hard work of content marketing. And then watch the magic of innovation happen!

– Ali Orlando Wert, Director of Content Strategy, Qlik (LinkedIn)

Community helps build trust

According to Jacquie Chakirelis, “Content can’t change the world, but community can.” Several sessions at this year’s conference focused on building communities to help support your content marketing efforts. Jacquie’s session focused on how we are moving to a system where not just one person holds the mic and speaks the loudest, but many people have a say in the conversation. Community builds advocates because they have “skin in the game” and a vested interest in the success of others in the community.

Kim Olson from Land O’Lakes was a keynote speaker and talked about their farmer co-op structure and how that builds a sense of community, particularly in rural areas of the United States. Her main point was about asking why you are doing what you something before you decide what you will do. One of their key initiatives is bridging the digital divide. It has nothing to do with making butter or selling pet food, which are what they are known for. But it created a sense of community among their co-op members and others in greater physical communities. It was something that was very important to their customers and garnered a sense of trust.

Building community not only helps the company that is leading the community-building efforts, but it benefits those individuals that participate by creating relationships that have value to them above-and-beyond what a brand can do.

Andi Robinson, Consultant, Hijinx Marketing (Twitter | Instagram)

We encourage you to follow #CMWorld on Twitter for more conference wrap-ups and information throughout the year. You can follow Content Marketing Institute on their website, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. We look forward to seeing everyone for Content Marketing World 2023 in Washington, DC, September 26 – 29.