The best of fun is the worst of tears

July 29, 2014

The best of fun is the worst of tears” is what I used say to my kids when I was dragging them away from a party or a friends house where they were having lots of fun.

When they were older I’d use it when they would get upset when my brother was returning to the States or someone else that was close to them was leaving.

My simple point to them was that the reason they were so upset is that they cared so much ..if they didn’t care or weren’t having so much fun then leaving would be no issue so in a way getting upset was just a sign that they experienced something great and was actually a good thing!

Today I sadly had to use it again when my daughter Ellen rang all upset because she had to say goodbye to her precious dog, ‘Paws‘ who has been in her life for most of it because the poor pet who is 13 had picked up cancer and was starting to suffer.

 

Paws and Ellen

Ellen isn’t a kid anymore but her tears today were bigger and sadder than the ones she used to shed years ago ..sadly there was nothing I could do except talk about the joy and love she shared with Paws, how Paws was such a special dog and was lucky to have been in such a loving home and how her memories of Paws will last forever.

Paws, thank you for showing my daughter so much love and for bringing her so much happiness.

The Best of Fun is the worst of tears” ..she knew what I meant.

Greg Canty

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork

The Cobbler and Upselling

July 28, 2014

The Cobbler

Why didn’t he tell me the shoes needed new soles when I got the heels done?

Its a big pain in the butt to bring your shoes with you in a bag, take them to the cobblers, store your ticket and return a few days later to collect them.

When I took them to him the soles looked ok so I just asked him to do the heels.

Just a week later a hole appears on the sole of my just repaired shoes and we go through the whole routine again..very annoying!

Surely he spotted that the soles were weak and needed to be done? Why didn’t he tell me?

In a world where we are all encouraged to up-sell is he crazy, losing easy business I wonder?

Has this wise cobbler learnt from years of experience that he is better off just doing what the customer has asked for instead of suggesting extra things that may be needed and leaving the customer with the possible view that they are always being ‘sold‘ something and maybe not returning?

I would have liked to have avoided the unnecessary nuisance of returning a second time but I did wonder how I would have felt if he was suggesting some extra work that wasn’t that obvious to me.

- If the customer trusts you they will accept your recommendation

- If the customer hasn’t built up trust with you they may feel like they are being pressurised into spending more money unnecessarily and you may lose the sale

- Until your customer trusts you do your best to point out the hole.

If the hole isn’t that obvious you might be better doing a great job on the heel and they will be back ..

What do you think?

Greg Canty

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork

 

 

 

Big brands and the shopping bag test

July 14, 2014

Shopping Bags

We pop the boot open and the usual process of fishing out a bag or two to do our shopping starts.

I really hate having to do a big ‘weekly shop‘ so most of our shopping is done as required. The store we normally find ourselves at is Quish’s SuperValu where the staff are really friendly and it is the closest one to our home. While the selection of stock isn’t always too hectic it is a handy store for us and shopping there never feels like a chore.

When I pop the boot open I have to quickly grab a bag or two and I’m surprised how this simple exercise shows me how I feel about the different retailer brands and the ones I align with most.

My first choice is the SuperValu bag – after all, thats the shop I am going into and I feel its a good thing to bring a bag from the same store with you. It must drive a store manager nuts to see shoppers entering or leaving their store carrying a competitors shopping bag with them. I know it would really irritate me if a client came to us with some POS or other material from a competitor.

I also love the SuperValu franchise model and I feel this owner operator ethos leads to friendly community orientated stores often including a support and buy local agenda.

My next choice is the Marks & Spencer bag. This surprises me as I always like to support Irish but I do admire their dedication to quality food and I guess I am happy for that to be part of ‘my personal brand‘ as I do my shopping.

The M&S choice probably makes me look like a snob but my next bag choice would be either Aldi or Lidl. To be honest I can’t differentiate between either of these brands and regularly get them mixed up. I really don’t enjoy the shopping experience in these stores but I admire the simple value proposition and huge strides seem to have been made with quality and there seems to be a genuine effort to buy Irish. The adverts are working!

My next choice is Tesco. As a brand it still leaves me cold, with no stand out proposition but I do admire their Irish producers programme in conjunction with Bord Bia. Even though their share performance has been suffering they seem to believe that the Irish producers strategy will play a big role in winning in Ireland.

Bord Bia Tesco Supplier Development Programme

They are doing some great work with Irish producers improving their operations so they can do more business with Tesco.

My very last choice is the Dunnes Stores bag. Why is an Irish company, the one I should logically have an allegiance to, be the one that I connect with least? I really don’t get their brand proposition, I don’t understand it, I don’t see them connecting locally like SuperValu and nationally I don’t see any noise about supporting Irish – they could be the best at this but if they are I don’t know about it.

I know this is just my view and that my simple ‘picking a bag from the boot‘ analysis isn’t very scientific but then I look at the latest market shares in Ireland published in May 2014 and reported in the Irish Independent and see how closely aligned the reality is to my feelings.

German retailers Aldi and Lidl have continued to snap at the heels of Dunnes Stores, with the pair now commanding a combined 17.1pc share of Ireland’s multi-billion euro grocery market

Tesco retained its top ranking, but remains under pressure. Its market share fell 4.1pc to 26.3pc in the latest period, while Dunnes Stores also saw its position further weakened. Its share slipped 1.3pc to 21.6pc

SuperValu the chain controlled by the Cork-based Musgrave group – continues to snap at Tesco’s heels. Its share of the market, which includes its now rebranded Superquinn chain, rose 0.5pc to 25.1pc, confirming its second place in the supermarket wars

Industry insiders said the latest figures will be another wake-up call for both Tesco and Dunnes Stores in particular

Maybe Tesco and Dunnes Stores should do the shopping bag test?

How do customers feel when they pick up a bag from your store?

Greg Canty

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork

 

 

 

Liam and Deirdre

July 12, 2014

Disco Lights

I don’t know Liam or Deirdre but we are here at their 50th birthday …don’t ask !

I see brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, children, granddads, grandmothers, friends…everyone!

We danced, we smiled, we laughed, we joined in the fun.

Life is quite simple after all

Happy birthday Liam and Deirdre !!

Figuring out the Cloud

July 12, 2014

Painting by James Malmgren

I need to admit it to myself ..I’ve been a little down for the last month or so and it has affected me, my form, the way I have been towards others, my general outlook towards things and how I have reacted to some stuff that has gone on.

That cloud seemed to drift in from somewhere without me spotting it and it seemed to get a little darker and it managed to park itself right over my head.

I’ve tried to figure this cloud out and I put it down to a bunch of things, each in their own way probably feeding into the next thing.

I reckon it all started with Stevie Gerrard slipping against Chelsea in a crucial match, which led to a defeat and a Liverpool title win dream shattered. This stupidly got me down..I guess we invest emotionally in the things we care about and even though its just football it got to me. It makes no sense that a football team in a different country can mean so much to you but ..there you go!

Then there is the really irritating sore knee that came along out of the blue one day we were walking the dogs about two months ago. I thought it would clear up by itself naturally, I thought resting up while we were on holidays would sort it out but it didn’t.

This soreness has made the simple walks I took for granted every Saturday and Sunday with friends a misery, it has caused lots of irritating discomfort, it has limited what I have been able to do lately including what we were able to do when we were on holidays. The stupid thing still hasn’t got much better, which truthfully is making me feel like an old man. “Wear and tear” is what the doctor said after x-rays and an MRI. I’m trying all sorts of vitamins, ointments, exercises and shoe inserts to try to sort the damn thing.

A few other normal everyday work things got me down that I would normally just deal with and not let bother me. I’ve been cranky and those around me aren’t getting the best of me and I know it.

This is a strange place for me as I am normally very positive and can see the bright side in most things.

Logically I know everything is great and I know that I am one of the luckiest people alive. I have a great life, a fantastic wife, two incredible kids, a terrific family, great friends and a thriving business, that I am really proud of.  My stupid knee I’m sure will be better in no time (hurry up will ya!) and Liverpool post Suarez ..lets see.

The cloud has cleared away and no doubt it will find someone else to park itself over, possibly someone with a lot more serious stuff going on than me.

Watch out for that cloud…

Note: The gorgeous picture ‘Man on a Pier’ is by an artist from Sweden called Jens Malmgren – check out his website for this and much more. 

Greg Canty

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank God for Luis Suarez

June 28, 2014

Luis Suarez, Liverpool FC

Walking through town during the week I spotted a buddy of mine heading my way.

This was a little bit awkward..

Just two weeks ago his wife had passed away after losing a horrible three year battle with cancer. The last time I saw him was at the funeral home where I joined the huge queue of mourners, shook his hand. gave him a hug and did the same with his children. “So sorry” …it’s about as much as I was able to muster up at the time. His wife had always been so great to me…I’ll miss her.

Face to face for the first time since the funeral home we stopped and chatted.

How are you doing?” while this was an obvious question I felt awful asking it ..what was I expecting? “I’m ok” he said.

What did you make of the Luis Suarez incident?” I asked, quickly changing the subject

We stood there for 15 minutes debating the issue. He felt Suarez was a disgrace and deserved a huge ban and Liverpool FC should be glad to just get rid of him. As a huge Liverpool and Suarez fan I disagreed.

The ban was about FIFA reacting to huge pressure – Suarez seems to be a nice guy, he is respected by his team mates and in England he was recently voted by the other players as the Players Player of the Year. This is the highest honour in England voted by his teammates and opponents – if he was an aggressive, dirty, dangerous player that no one respected he would not have got this huge award.

Added to this he is a truly incredible footballer who is a gift to the sport and for me the objective with the punishment should have been to rehabilitate a player with some unusual psychological problem rather than this incorrect and brutal show of power.

The punishment was to Uruguay, Liverpool FC, football fans everywhere and of course to Luis ….none of it in my view dealing responsibly with the unusual problem that he has.

We debated, we chatted and for a while all that existed was Luis Suarez and the World Cup.

We both went on our way.

Thank god for Luis Suarez, the World Cup and all those things that keep life moving along even in our darkest days

Greg Canty

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork

One complaint …two very different replies

June 28, 2014

Handling complaints

Initially I was reluctant to complain but I felt it was necessary. From what I was told I believed we were really hard done by, we received some really bad treatment and if I just let it go the same would happen again and again.

I was raging and I felt I had to do something to address this situation.

I felt it was really important to address what I felt were serious issues so I wrote a strong complaint email outlining all of my concerns to the person involved.

Reply number 1

The person I wrote to handled the situation perfectly (even if he felt like shooting me !)

He called me, assured me that my complaints were not valid but wanted to hear what I had to say because what I had complained about was very serious and he wanted to get to the bottom of it.  We had a rational conversation, he listened to my grievances and I listened to his replies. By the end of the conversation we hadn’t solved everything, all of the issues hadn’t disappeared but he understood why I felt annoyed and aggrieved and I appreciated that I was listened to.

I was raging when I complained but now I had calmed down because I was listened to.

Reply number 2

Because it was a serious issue my man sent a copy of my complaint email to his boss.

While he was busy trying to contact me to try to sort out this issue his boss was busy with a different approach.

Instead of taking my complaint seriously and wanting to listen his boss sent an angry email responding to me.

Effectively it read “How dare you make any such accusations about us and how we do our business. You are unprofessional to have done such a thing and never dare to complain again”

Hmmm..how did I feel now?

I was raging when I complained but now I was even worse.

His boss had zero interest in what I had to say, denied everything, enquired about none of the circumstances that led to me complaining and instead of treating me with some degree of courtesy and respect and wanting to genuinely listen a choice was made to attack.

This situation was really interesting as we had two different individuals taking quite a different approach to dealing with a complaint.

No one likes to receive complaints but we need to treat them like gifts, listen and learn and then deal with them in a way that diffuses the situation instead of making them even worse.

In my scenario this ‘boss’ needs to take a few lessons from the staff member ..

How you handle complaints is a critical part of maintaining the Reputation of both you and your organisation.

Defuse, don’t inflame

Greg Canty

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork

 

Are you singing the right song?

June 22, 2014

 

Elton John

We were chilling out the back garden enjoying this fabulous summer weather with our books and some music playing in the background.

I had assembled a very random playlist for the occasion and one to suit both me and Deirdre. I couldn’t be too selfish so there was a mix of George Michael, Glen Miller, Elton John and even Abba mixed in with some of my own favourites but nothing too self indulgent (that meant the likes of Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin were nowhere to be heard!).

Out of the blue on came that fabulous song by Elton John ‘Song for Guy’ which took me right back to my days of piano lessons.

When we talk about my piano lessons its a topic that brings about lots of stories. I did piano lessons for about five years from the age of seven till I was twelve when my mother eventually relented and let me pack up.

I guess she always wanted both me and my sister Laura to play the piano or at least learn some instrument – she wanted this for us and no doubt it cost her a pretty penny down through the years. Ironically I hated pretty much every single lesson and practicing even more, which is strange as I love music and would love to be able to play some instrument today.

For some strange reason my mother still has the note book from my last piano teacher “Greg is wasting my time, his time and your money

..that was a little harsh!

Song for Guy‘ was the very last song I learnt. I loved the song and as a result I actually did practice it and I reckon if I had the sheet music in front of me now and I practiced long enough I might just about figure it out again (then again I could be dreaming and overestimating my talent!)

This was the teacher’s big favour to me. Mrs Murphy agreed to let me learn a song that I liked and it made all the difference. Once this song was done she then wanted me to learn one of her choices – I had wanted to learn some Queen song (to be fair to her she probably knew this was way beyond my limited capability!) but she insisted on her choice and I quickly lost interest in my piano lessons again.

A twelve year old protesting week in week out was just too much for my mum so my career as a pianist came to a end!

Coincidentally later that evening I was chatting to a relative who was very concerned about her son who had just received his 5th year exam results. He had done really badly and she was really worried about him. Her son appears to be totally disinterested, he is very laid back and extremely lazy when it comes to his studies.

Understandably she is worried about him heading into the critical final year of secondary school, which can unfortunately shape your subsequent career path.

She then told me an incredible story about him.

School Play

During transition year he was quite interested in getting involved in the school play. This really surprised her as he is normally quiet and very reluctant to push himself forward. He asked the teacher could they do a particular play but the school had already decided on something else.

He wasn’t prepared to accept “no” for an answer so he asked for permission to do the play he wanted without the help of the school. He promised he would organise and coordinate the whole thing.

He recruited the actors, he sourced the scripts, he acquired the stage props and he directed, produced and acted in his own play.

At the end of term his play was the opening act for the official school play and apparently it was really funny and quite brilliant. It turns out that when he is motivated her son is a creative, organised and determined leader once he sets his mind to it.

While it is easy to say “don’t worry” about his exam results it is clear that he is very talented and it is just a question of him finding the right song and then letting him sing it!

Are you singing the right song? 

Greg Canty

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork

Do you need to change your uniform?

June 16, 2014

Clothes Rack

I decided I better wear a suit for the day as we had a meeting with quite a senior group who most definitely would be wearing suits – I’ll always try to make sure it is a sharp suit with something just a little bit different going on. I won’t wear a tie as this is a step too far for me and at this stage I would feel uncomfortable wearing one.

This accountant turned marketer starting wearing suits at 17 in the accountancy practice and wore them for 21 years in my financial and general management roles within the high-tech and drinks industry. When I finally stopped working for others I stopped wearing this ‘uniform’ as I had enough.

I guess this was the appropriate ‘uniform’ for this meeting and if I wasn’t somewhat ‘uniform’ I might run the risk of giving the impression that I wasn’t taking my role seriously and I would have felt a little awkward within myself.

Later in the day I had to give a training course and later again we had to conduct a workshop for a project we were working on.

For the training course I was fine but I did feel just a little out of sorts because I wasn’t dressed in my usual way – I removed my jacket, which made me feel less formal and more appropriate.

The workshop was a totally different story – I was presenting with two other guys, each of us in our suits, quite ‘uniform’ but when the session started you just knew the group participating in the session were looking at us as we were different. Somehow we were ‘the establishment’, different to them and I felt it might have created a barrier and it could have changed the dynamic of the session.

I stood there quietly cursing my suit and wished I was in my more usual uniform, which is a smart trendy jacket/blazer with neat jeans and shoes – this is the real me (or at least it has become me and its the ‘me’ I am most comfortable and confident projecting).

After the session we went for a drink and a debrief and again I wished I wasn’t in my suit.

Was I being silly, was this all in my head or taking it to its limit should I have brought a second outfit to work with me that day to make sure that my ‘uniform’ always told the right story to my audience and most importantly made me feel more comfortable with them?

I remember a friend of mine who was working in the purchasing department of a large multinational telling me that they hated it when their suppliers would arrive dressed casually for meetings – she knew this was a little unfair because their own dress code was casual but it did work against the supplier.

When I was in Guinness in Dublin they introduced a causal Friday – while this created a more relaxed atmosphere I must admit that attitude towards work did become more relaxed as well.

Casual Friday

Could a slight change of uniform change one from being a ‘typical’ accountant, solicitor, graphic designer or whatever to someone who stands out a little?

In Fuzion we were interviewing for graphic designers recently and one poor guy arrived for interview in a suit and tie, looking more like an accountant than a designer. Maybe his mother killed him when he was heading out the door that morning in his cool t-shirt , jeans and Converse runners and insisted that he dress properly for his interview.

Somehow it was really hard to get past that he was wearing the wrong ‘uniform’ and you had to work hard to jump over those first and important impressions to discover his personality and capability.

With our clients we advise that their branding, websites, social media pages, marketing materials, vehicle livery and all other visual demonstrations of their organisation must tell the best story about them – we often buy with our eyes and those first impressions are vital. Are we any different?

What story are you telling about yourself today?

Greg Canty

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork

 

 

 

Hashtags and Breadcrumbs

June 6, 2014

Hasttags Explained

I see the confused look on their faces and Hashtags are often just one step too far!

What is all this hashtag business?” I get asked.

At times it does feel like we are talking another language…

At my social media courses I think it is the one thing that definitely seems to bother people the most. It is a step too far: On Twitter they understand followers, they get following and know that tweets must be less than 140 characters but the mere mention of Hashtags and it seems to add that Tipping Point of confusion that never fails to get a few moans and groans of exasperation. Too much!

So what the hell are these nasty things and how and when might you use them?

In very simple terms a Hashtag is a means of adding a “tag” or label to a post (tweet) on Twitter by using the “#” symbol followed by a continuous set of characters. This is normally a word or a few words joined together.

For example if I prepared a tweet about a new shop opening in town I might tweet “Great to see a new shop opening on Grafton Street #Positivity

When you do this on Twitter it automatically changes the colour of this text, making it stand out and it also adds some “link” functionality to that word(s). If you click on this “link” Twitter will display a list of all the tweets where this hashtag was used.

In a way it gathers them together, which is really handy if it brings the reader to a bunch of tweets about a topic they were very interested in.

While Twitter will track popular topics and show you the keywords that are used most frequently in posts (trending) it will also track the most frequently used hashtags. If everyone who is talking about a popular topic uses a particular hashtag to label these posts it not only gathers them together but it also helps to get the topic trending.

Hashtag ExplainedSo when might I use a hashtag?

For me the single biggest advantage to the use of a hashtag is the simple colour change to that keyword. The text appearing in a different colour draws the readers attention to it and when used properly it can help to communicate the subject matter of that post. The link functionality as discussed earlier is an added bonus.

You can use your own hashtags (there is no ownership of them) or decide to join in on conversations about topics where a particular hashtag is being used already and use it in your posts – this can give you and your tweet visibility if this topic has stirred up a lot of interest.

For me a hashtag can be used in a powerful way to signify a Key Message of yours or a significant  “Breadcrumb” (click that link for my blog about key messages) that you wish to leave behind about you and your business for the reader.

You might use a hashtag to label posts about:

  • An event or concert #LondonFoodFest or #EP14 (Electric Picnic 2014)
  • Elections #LE14 (Local Elections 2014)
  • A place #Dublin
  • A cause #LGBTRights
  • A sentiment #LoveCork
  • An outlook #Positivity
  • A philosophy #WinHappy
  • A show #Murnaghan
  • Your team #LFC #YNWA
  • Recommending followers on a Friday #FF
  • Publicising job opportunities #Jobs or #JobFairy

You can use the hashtags in very many ways to suit the occasion and to draw extra attention to the point you want to make or a particular keyword(s) in your post.

Murnaghan

You will find the more progressive TV shows will encourage the viewer to tweet about a topic being discussed and will suggest a hashtag to use – in a way the viewer is asked to “join the discussion“.

Hashtags are also appearing in adverts for brands, where they are often used to help create an association for the consumer between a sentiment and the product or service #LoveLife.

For me hashtags are used best when you decide on a “family” of these, which should be used consistently for you and your business.

Having decided on your key messages you might devise a range of hashtags that might best be used to communicate these little breadcrumbs about you and your business.

For example a restaurant in Dublin who prides themselves on using local artisan suppliers, who have an extensive menu with good gluten free and vegetarian options, who stock a range of craft beers and is very proud of the city and who offer free treats on a Tuesday, might regularly tweet using hashtags such as:

#SourceLocal #Artisan  #GlutenFree  #VegMenus  #CraftBeers  #LoveDublin  #TreatTuesday (hopefully not all at the same time!)

When you are posting you are best keeping your hashtags as short as possible, memorable and try to use them just one at a time in tweets. Used consistently and in the right context you would be surprised how quickly a place gets known for these things.

For example when I tweet I use hashtags a lot to draw attention to particular things in my posts and the ones I use most frequently are #Positivity (when talking about good news or job announcements) #WinHappy (when talking about Fuzion – this is a core philosophy) #FuzionFriday (when talking about our Friday lunch with the team) #FuzionPlaylist (when I mention the music playing in the office).

It amazes me when people play these back to me (“I’d love to join ye for FuzionFriday some day”) in the context that I intended and I then realise that I have managed to convey our key messages effectively by using this simple Twitter device.

I do fully understand people’s frustration with all of this new media and it’s quirks and idiosyncrasies but most of it is built to be easy to use ….once you know how!

You may prefer not to use hashtags at all (sometimes there may be no need) but if you want to get that special message across then start using this new language…

 #HashtagHeaven

Note: Hashtags are now also being used on other social media platforms but they are a very significant feature when used on Twitter.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion offer Social Media Consultancy and Training in Dublin and Cork


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