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The promotion game can be a tricky one. No one really appreciates the intricacies until it goes horribly wrong. I have spent a good part of my life working in promotion of one kind or another. Television, Radio, Print, Billboards, Publishers, etc. You name it and I have promoted in it or for it. Some are big and well know places. Others, not so much, but they realized the need for good promotion.

In fact, those are the ones that I took my name from. One of the fellows who brought me some of these clients use to refer to me as “SPP”. One day I finally asked him why he called me that. He chuckled and explained, that it didn’t matter how little or how bad the material was he brought me to work with I was always able to make something good out of it. He went on to explain that SPP stood for Silk Purse Productions, like the old saying of “making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear”.
He got it.

Now, I am not going to brag…ok, maybe just a little. I’m pretty good at it. I’ve won International Awards for Promotion in New York City (twice). I have trained and mentored people in the field who have gone on to do big things. Unfortunately, now that the internet exists a lot of people think that all they need is on-line social media accounts for promotion. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, to name just a few, are all incredibly useful tools for promotion but you still have to have some skill to navigate the ins and outs of promotion. Even a little common sense can help.

Recently I came across a small company that totally blew me away in how poorly they handled their promotion and customer service. I won’t name them. I didn’t name any of the big companies I spoke of above. Consider this a mini case study.

The pandemic has been very hard on a lot of businesses, especially the small family owned businesses. Some have not survived, others have actually flourished. He-Who and I tend to eat out a lot. When we like a place we are loyal customers, we write good reviews and we promote the place to friends, family and readers.  No one was looking forward to being able to eat inside again more than we were. When it finally happened we made a point of visiting one of our favourite places 125 km from where we live. We had visited during lock-down and were able to go inside and order but had to eat in the car. We aren’t really great at eating in the car.  When we got there this time we found there was no access to get inside. They had put in windows to order from outside and there were picnic tables outside for eating. We were not best pleased and I confess a little confused. We ordered and ended up eating in the car. Unfortunately, this was the first time that I can say the food was not good. More of it made it to the garbage than to our tummies. We were really disappointed.

When we returned home I went to see if there was a reason they were not letting us in. There was a post.

There were a couple of red flags here…

1)There should have been a better way to let people know

2) “We are too busy with lineups (daily) to be able to follow safety guidelines for COVID.” Ummmmm, there are still plenty of “guidelines” to follow even for just take-out. There were lots of lineups when they were busy before COVID, this implies to me that their cleaning of tables etc. was not being done because they were too busy. (Anyone else feeling a little queasy?)

3) I’m not sure I want to know that their sanity is in question while preparing food I am going to eat.

As I felt my food coming back up on me I wrote a note just to let them know we were disappointed. The response was…let’s see what you think.

I came out of my office and read this to He-Who. He was…not pleased (I’m trying to keep this PG). I confess, I had to calm down before I responded.

That was the end of that conversation. He-Who and I both had the same thought. We had been frequenting a place in another town. Family owned and operated. A husband and wife team that were killing themselves to keep customers happy throughout the pandemic. No excuses, no bad food, no poor service. When they were allowed they put tables on the sidewalk. When they were allowed to serve indoors I am happy to say their excellent customer service had them at capacity all day, as loyal customers kept coming. We both decided that we would rather give them our business and that we would not return to the other place.

This morning I got a private message from the offending place.

This person should not be handling the customer service or the promotion. To tell a client that they “mentally can’t handle it” is beyond my comprehension. But wait, there’s more. The following is what put me over the edge …

Never in all my years…I know I sound old, but seriously…never have I ever heard anyone use menopause as an excuse for them not being able to respond to a customer in a proper manner. This person has sent feminism back at least 40 years. I am torn between laughing my butt off and disgust.

The lack of professionalism from the business was astounding. They need help. I almost felt sorry for them, briefly. Very briefly. Had they handled this differently from the beginning I might have even offered to help them. As it is, my cousin saw the public posting and asked me on there where this place was located. I gave him directions and then added, “however, I can not recommend them at this time”.  

I’m not sure anyone can make a silk purse out of this sow’s ear.

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My Favourite Alter Ego

My Favourite Alter Ego

Have you ever wished you could be someone else … just for a day?
Maybe not someone else, maybe just a different you…
Google yourself. Oh, come on, we all do it. We use to do it just for fun. Now we do it to verify our online presence. In this era of social media it has become necessary to have an online presence and to keep it fed and at the top of the ladder. Just for today, I decided I would try to be one of those other “Michelle Gillies”.

Dr. Michelle Gillies. My father always wanted me to be a doctor. This version of me is a lecturer in Chronic Disease Epidemiology at the University of Glasgow. I’m not even sure what that is but it sounds pretty complicated and although I would love to visit Scotland I’m not prepared to move there.

Michelle Gillies loves mushrooms!  OK, that one is new! Is there anyone who would not have checked that one out? It turns out Michelle is the proud owner of Brisbane’s (Australia) lovely new haven for hand-made and eco-friendly gifts The Nook.  Yes, Australia is also on my “to visit someday list” but, I got lost just looking at her unique wares in her shop, online…I would never be able to sell any of it, I would just want to keep it all.

This one is great! “Don’t you just love dressing like a pirate and getting chased around a soggy forest by very immature adults dressed like Indians? Nope me neither.” That is how this Scottish Michelle starts her blog “Days Like This” I think this Michelle and I were separated at birth, I’m not a fan of the camping thing and I have definitely had days like that!

Of course I always run across the Michelle Gillies with the arrest reports for crazy assaults that somehow involved cats. I use to get her phone calls from collection agencies. People send me newspaper clippings every time she makes the papers. Once, at Casino Niagara, I went to check my “Players Points” and was surrounded by undercover RCMP officers. Seriously, they made a circle around me before I even looked up. They had guns! After some interrogation and someone producing the mug shots of the Michelle in question I was released and the casino bought me dinner for my “embarrassment”. Who could eat!? I got the heck out of that place.

My former boss once walked into my office with that “cat that swallowed the canary” grin on his face. “Michelle, I just googled you…” I sat there wondering what deep dark secret he had dug up out about my past, or if that criminally minded Michelle had reared her head again. As I watched him, I could see the crimson beginning at his neck line and expanding to full faced red. He stumbled over “There were naked pictures…”. He showed me on the computer what he had found. (Sorry, I am not  linking you here!)  She was gorgeous! Stunning! Breathtaking! Sexy! Did I say gorgeous? I looked him straight in the eye and said calmly, “Yes, that’s me.”

In my dreams, but only for a day.

-30-

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