Ok guys I made a mistake. Well not a big mistake but I learned a lesson that I want to share with you. In my last post I told you about a situation I was having on Facebook with commenters. Well this week at work I had my private student who is a marketing manager for Michelin tires in Mexico. He is one of my favorite students because we always have great conversations. I was telling him about the comments on Facebook and my reaction to them. He gave me a little insight, and advice, about how large companies handle these situations. It's a good lesson: sometimes we have to step outside ourselves and seek advice from professionals.
At Michelin their Facebook page is monitored by an outside company. The company answers the Facebook comments and messages that they can, and directs more difficult questions to customer service at Michelin. They rate the comments on three levels. Level one is for comments that are spam, or are hateful and purely inappropriate. Those messages are deleted. However as my student informed me, they rarely delete messages even when they are negative or inflammatory. He told me that the reason they don't delete messages is because it gives the impression that the company is trying to hide something, and this in fact enrages commenters and/or customers more than anything.
This was his suggestion for me based on his experience at Michelin. He suggested that I actually respond to these messages with a question. For example, to the person who said my dolls scare her, he suggested that I ask her what scares her. Furthermore he recommended asking specific questions like, how could the eyes, mouth, hair be improved/changed as to not look so scary? Now when he was telling me this I wanted to argue with him. And I did argue, "No! These people are just being mean. They just think dolls are scary and no amount of changing the doll will make them like dolls!" To which he replied, "yeah maybe, but when you respond this way the person will have one of two reactions. First, if they are a meanie your cordial response will probably shut them up. Otherwise second they might actually offer you constructive feedback and/or because of your pleasant response, they will soften to the idea of your work and who knows, become a customer.
I think as artisans it is easy to be very protective of our work. What this conversation taught me is that turning your craft into a serious business requires you to step back and see your business as a business. You have to be able to think like a professional salesman, marketer, financial officer, etc. To do this might require speaking to others who are professionals in these areas. Ask questions whenever you have the opportunity to talk with a professional in the business world. When I decided to try and turn BeBe Babies into a business which can sustain me financially, I began writing more seriously on my blog. The reason is because I want to share my journey with you, even all the mistakes and setbacks. Hopefully I can prevent others from making my same mistakes. That is all. :)