Case Study

It doesn't take much to create a great customer experience

Last week I was in Toronto for meetings and I got into a cab and the very first thing I noticed was that there was a console in the middle of the back seat and it had packs of gum, candies, bottles of water and a few other things I didn’t explore.  My impression? “Aw, that’s nice!” 

Creating a great customer experience

The first thing the driver told me after I told him where I was going was that I could help myself to anything there, it was for me.  I immediately started thinking about how it really is the little things that can make all the difference in a great customer experience.

It doesn’t have to cost a lot

The cost of what was sitting in the console next to me was, tops, $10.  I helped myself to one candy, which probably cost 5 cents. Just the fact that I COULD take anything I wanted made me feel like I was having a great experience.  So I told him so and we had a great chat the rest of the way to the airport.

He pointed out the extra features he had in his cab.  There were nice, new, and crisp magazines in the pouches of the seats in front of me that I could read if I wanted, there were pillows on the back window that I could use if I wanted to get more comfortable (he said they were used a lot to prop up arms, especially on longer drives to the airport) and he told me about an arrangement he had at a hotel where he could pick up bags on behalf of customers.  He also told me about the car wash membership he paid for quarterly, never giving himself an excuse not to keep his cab in tip top shape.

We went on to talk about how the majority of his work comes from people calling him to pick them up and how many people tell him they prefer to get rides from him because it’s such a nice experience.  When the price of a cab ride can’t be changed because a meter is in charge, he stands out by creating a great experience; an experience that doesn’t cost him much at all but I BET gets him lots more in tips than his competitors.

It works offline and online

While this story is all about something that happened in person and not online, the lesson carries over to all spaces when you’re a business owner.  When you create friendly customer experiences, when you make people feel good, when you go above and beyond what you HAVE to do, you build relationships with people.  When you build relationships with people, those people will come back to you, even if it’s a bit more inconvenient or costs a bit more.

The cab driver gave me his card and told me if I ever needed to be picked up at the airport to just text him before I got on my flight in Ottawa. His card is safely tucked in my wallet now because I have a feeling I will do just that.


Have you had any great customer service experiences that were low cost but had big impact? Are there any little things that you do that do this? Leave a comment and tell us what they are!

Your content needs personality - here's why

I was browsing on Facebook one day when I saw someone post a video of Seth Rogen testifying in the U.S. Senate hearing to advocate for more funding for Alzheimer’s research. You should watch it - it’s 6:37, but worth spending the time:


Two things struck me about this:

  1. Seth Rogen is an actor in movies that have…ahem…interesting subject matter. He gets laughs from audiences with sophomoric humour. He’s not someone you’d expect to show up in front of a Senate Committee Hearing.
  2. Someone’s testimony before the U.S. Senate advocating for Alzheimer’s research is going viral on social media channels. It’s a C-SPAN video! Has this ever happened before?


The second is happening because of the first. Seth Rogen is a funny guy. He doesn’t take himself too seriously and he doesn’t take U.S. Senators too seriously either. (He was very respectful - that’s not the same as bowing down to them and treating them as superiors.) They were certainly amused by Seth’s pleas for funding, but I think they must have also been touched by the obvious care and concern Seth has for his mother-in-law. I know I was.

We can all learn a few things from this video and apply it to our own content. Here are a few lessons that occurred to me.

Serious topics aren’t overshadowed by humour

Adding humour to a serious topic can get information across in a more palatable way, inviting more people to be exposed to important news or views. It’s not always appropriate, but if it can be used tastefully, it’s worth trying.

No matter how big your audience, bring your “A” game

Did you catch when the camera turned on the committee? There were just two senators in attendance. Sure, the audience behind Rogen was there and listening, but they sure aren’t the target audience for this content. The Senators are the decision-makers. My guess is many of those people behind Rogen were there for the same reason - to advocate for funding.

Personal anecdotes and experiences are powerful

Many people don’t want to talk about their personal life on social media. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, being personable and bringing some personal insights or experiences into your content can create a more compelling connection with your audience. 

Gimmicks aren’t necessary to make a big impact

This video was from C-SPAN. It was posted to their YouTube account, but it’s not a “produced” video. It’s one of almost 4,000 videos C-SPAN uploads of hearings, testimony and other content relevant to the running of the government of the United States - most of which get hundreds, or maybe thousands of views. It wasn’t scripted and blocked and directed. In one single day, the video has had almost as many views as Matt Damon’s video from just over a year ago. Given that over 1 million people have heard Seth’s testimony in one day, I wouldn’t be surprised if many of them learned quite a bit they didn’t know about Alzheimer’s before. 

Don’t discount the network effect

It can be frustrating if your target audience doesn’t show up to listen to your message. However, when others are listening, it can sometimes lead to a different platform to get your message out. The more people who watch the video, the more people who gain awareness of the need, the more likely that they’ll take some form of action. Some may petition their representative to approve more funding. Others may give to support the work of non-profits that help patients and their families living with Alzheimer’s. 

Viral should never be the goal

The goal of what Seth Rogen was doing was to get more funding for research. If one person watched the video of his testimony, I believe Rogen still would have gone to testify before those two Senators. What came through on the video is that he believes in his cause and wants to make a difference. It’s not about him. It’s about the end result.

Word of mouth is the oldest and most valuable marketing method. I like to say that social media has a really big mouth. Maybe social media will prove to be instrumental in accomplishing the objectives that took Seth Rogen to Washington, D.C. - by amplifying his voice.

Can you replicate this scenario for your business? No one can know or guarantee that kind of result. But I can tell you that I’ll be more interested in what you have to say if your content has personality and draws me in.

What are some other examples of serious topics that have been delivered more effectively by incorporating a healthy dose of personality?

Small biz profile: Tag Along Toys

I’ve known Patti Taggart online for 3 or 4 years now, but I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know her in person over the last two years since we (finally) met! Patti is the owner of a fabulous little toy store in the west end of Ottawa called Tag Along Toys. She’s built a loyal, engaged, and active audience in her years of using social media, but she doesn’t do it by constantly telling people about her store. She does it by building relationships.

One of my very favourite reasons to visit Patti’s store is how wonderful and helpful she and her staff always are. Patti is an Early Childhood Educator (ECE), so her product choices reflect a commitment to help children develop a range of skills and interests through play. I’ve gone in with questions about what toy can help develop this or that and I always get great advice about what to get. I asked Patti if she’d mind answering a few questions about how she uses social media for us, and here’s what she had to say:

1) How long have you been in business?

Tag Along Toys opened in 2001, so just shy of 12 years. :)

2) Business owners often run businesses that tie in to personal interests or passions - what inspired you to start Tag Along Toys?

I am a Registered Early Childhood Educator. I had worked in the field for over 10 years at the time and thought maybe I could expand my use of ECE. I knew that Kanata did not have a specialty toy store and thought it would be a great complement to my education to open a toy store, as its related to my field in many ways.

3) What do you want customers to feel when they walk in your store?

I want them to feel welcomed and comfortable to walk around but also to feel we are approachable and open to help them find the perfect gift for the children on their list.

4) How do you convey that through social media channels?

I use Facebook quite a bit - not everyday - but at least 4-5 times a week. I use Twitter daily if I can to let people know about what’s new in store or what’s taking place in store.

5) How long have you been using social media to promote your business?

I have been using Facebook for almost 4 years and Twitter for almost 4 years too.

6) How much time do you spend daily/weekly managing your social media (and do your staff help)?

I don’t have my staff help me; I do it myself. I spend approximately an hour a day working on social media on both twitter and Facebook.

7) An hour a day can be overwhelming to a small business owner just starting out. But ultimately, that’s only 4-5 hours a week based on your answers. What would you say to the business owner that tells you they don’t have an hour a day?

Take 10 mins a day to sit and update Facebook pages, add a new item, ask your customers questions. On twitter try to do a minimum of 2-3 tweets a day and interact with at least 2-3 followers. Set aside 10 mins a day if you can. :)

7) What advice would you give to business owners who are thinking about or just starting out using social media?

Don’t be scared, don’t be shy. Put yourself out there and engage with your followers - not only about your business, but about some of your interests too, as it makes people get to know you the business owner and feel that much more comfortable to come into the store and start a conversation about a post or something you were talking about on social media. You get to know your customers better too. :)

It does take work but if you can put aside a bit of time each day it will help grown your business and target new audiences everywhere.


Last summer, Tag Along Toys launched its brand new website that includes online shopping AND a blog! It’s an exciting time for Patti and her staff as they grow the business beyond the brick and mortar storefront. Thank you for the great advice! You can follow all of Patti’s updates by liking Tag Along Toys on Facebook and following on Twitter.

A new way of advertising - Walk Off The Earth

Walk Off The Earth (WOTE) was one of the first bands in years to capture my attention. They play ukuleles, sing great covers, happen to be Canadian, and they’re really fun! :)

I’ve loved watching their rise to success since 2012 when a cover of Gotye’s Somebody that I used to know went (really!) viral. The band has been so smart. They knew that since they started with videos, they needed to keep creating videos, and they haven’t stopped. Even while touring, recording their album, and through one member’s pregnancy, they have continued to release amazing videos of both their original content and covers.

This past year I began noticing their work with brands. Because of the work that I do, instead of just seeing fun videos, I couldn’t help but be impressed at the companies they were working with and the fact that those companies understood the value in working with a band like them. To be really succesful with online marketing, brands needs to be innovative and not expect that the kind of marketing they did (and do) through traditional channels will be successful online. The work that WOTE has done with the following three brands is a fabulous example of understanding that.

ING Direct

The first one I noticed was for ING Direct. The band did a cover of Madonna’s song Material Girl. At the end of the video (it’s gone now because the contest is over) the band did an explanation of a contest ING was having and encouraging people to enter by submiting videos on how they like to save money. It was fun, and ING knew that doing something fun with this band (especially requests for videos) would be a great way to reach out a certain audience.


I’d never heard of Polk before this video, but Walk Off The Earth worked with them this summer to help launch a campaign they were starting called “Listen to the Music”.  The campaign encourages bands to submit covers of the Doobie Brother’s song by the same name and WOTE was a great fit to start off the campaign with their own cover.  The brand was able to use and promote the video in their marketing.  WOTE also posted the video to their channels (which is how I saw it). The video isn’t blatantly for the brand, but the subtle product and brand placement is great advertising for Polk.


The most recent partnership is with Volkswagon. Walk Off The Earth approached them, told them they loved the brand and that they’d love to create a video using one of their cars as part of their music.

Again, it’s fun, it’s different, and it’s engaging. WOTE only shared the video that they created using the car as percussion, but they actually created three different version all with different feels based on the model of the Beetle they used.

(You can see all 3 versions on the Volkswagon Canada Youtube page)

I can’t wait to keep watching what Walk Off The Earth will keep doing, and also how more and more brands will find new and different ways to use the online space to connect with their audiences. If you’re looking for a good read on how things are changing and why we all need to evolve with the times, I highly recommend Mitch Joel’s book CTRL Alt Delete

Have you seen any brands doing fun and innovative marketing online? Leave a comment and let us know!

Anna Belanger conquers Facebook

One of the things we are always looking to do is to empower people so that they can create their own authentic online presence using social media.  

A friend and client, Anna Belanger of Anna Belanger and Associates, wasn’t using her Facebook page to its potential. After some regular proding from me to post more often (every day!) we finally agreed to have me create a list of Facebook status updates and she committed to posting daily for a month.

What happened next is exactly what I want to see happen with all of my clients.  Anna got into the groove. She realized that coming up with regular content wasn’t as hard as she thought and that content didn’t need to be all “important announcements”, but more engaging and varying things that would entertain and give value to her audience.

The growth on her page in the three months since she started posting regularly and engaging with her audience on a personal level has been incredible (a 50% increase!).

I asked Anna a few questions to share her perspective on how things happened:

Going back to the Fall, what were your Facebook habits?

I would post a status here and there. Usually I would only post if I had something to announce.

Did you find the idea of coming up with daily posts overwhelming?

At first I couldn’t imagine with a post everyday. I thought that I would be overwhelming my audience. However, now I look forward to the challenge and it’s interesting to see which posts get the most response.

What changed so that you no longer found it difficult?

Originally what changed was the list of posts you sent me. I didn’t think to look up stuff on pinterest or from other sites. I also found it less difficult when I saw my audience responding positively to the daily posts.

What changes have you seen since you started posting daily?

My following has grown immensely! We also started including our clinic openings and have found that last minute booking has increased.

Have you seen any direct impact on your business?

Absolutely, posting our openings and course availabilities has increased our booking. I also find that others on my page share our openings and courses and have increased visibilitiy to the clinic!

All it took was creating a list of 30 Facebook updates and scheduling them for a month to get into a habit and realize that creating content wasn’t nearly as difficult as she had feared.  

Take some time today and write down 30 status updates for your page.  They can be images, links, tips, quotes, things you like to do with your family or a million other things.  The key is to provide value or entertain your audience.  You know that audience best - what do you think they’d like to read about? 

Share some of the things of status updates you find work best on your page in the comments.  

Will you go write a list now?