June 30, 2006

Malpractice Is The Only Way To Practice

Have you ever tried to choose a doctor? Research all you can. The only information you can find, besides self-congratulatory advertorials in local magazines, is negative. How many times has he been sued? How many actions has the state board taken against him? No reviews. No buzz. No comprehensive community of honest patrons.

That is, unless you consider your insurance company list of approved providers good enough.

Doctors are not the only ones. There are myriads of industries that affect you, your family, your home, your business where there is no information to precede your decision.

Correction - there is word of mouth. The next time you belly up to a customer, ask yourself, "How am I being reviewed in the world?" If the answer is, "By this guy standing across from me," you had better deliver. Of course, you had better deliver each and every time as a matter of pride and professionalism, but the stakes are raised when the only way to spread a positive message is from person to person and the rest of the world is a web of cynicism and paltry, half-compiled information.

Phillipe Destouches said, "Criticism is easy. Art is difficult." Ego and apathy can allow the easy to seep out in spite of your efforts to achieve the difficult.


June 26, 2006

My Enigma Problem

While my blogging experience is limited, my creative writing experience is much more vast. That is the issue (or what I perceive as one, at least).

I am comfortable with ending a post enigmatically - trusting the reader to figure out the point on his or her own. Use a potent enough metaphor and it is inevitable that the right audience will come to the proper, profound conclusion... right?

Well, I have rethought that point of view and have found myself contradicting myself. The metaphors stay, but they are going to be fleshed out much more in the future.

Just because I understand my position in the world does not mean I should have any expectations that anyone else does. I try to stir in a little passion, a pinch of controversy, and equal parts weirdness and quirkiness to finish off my recipe for catalyzing thought. My goal is to teach everyone how I cook, not to teach them to cook like me.

Seth has a take on the issue, too.


June 15, 2006

The Little Things, They Do Bring Tears

Update

Since I posted about Oddica's unique and thoughtful way of creating an overwhelmingly positive, post-sell, customer experience, my blog readership has increased by about 20 folks per day (that number is big enough to notice around here). The reason? Oddica is not only unique and thoughtful toward their customers, they are also a karma-spewing, marketing machine and take the time each day on their news page to individually thank the people who have acknowledged them.

One more "Bravo"!


June 14, 2006

When Incremental Marketing Makes No More Difference


Because there is no one left to win over or impress (the front half of the bell curve has been well saturated), Starbucks' wave is past its crest. They need to shake up their elite beverage world.

Tall, Grande, Venti - Magno! They should introduce a new size that mirrors the excess their customers perceive as a need. Just two cents worth of advice to a gadzillion dollar marketing dynasty. You heard it here first.


June 13, 2006

How Do You Say "We Love You"?

This is how Oddica does it.

Convince you customers you care about them, especially after they have parted with their money, and they will love you forever. What better time to make a lasting, positive impression on your customers than when they finally tear open that bauble they have been dying with anticipation to receive? Invigorate them with their own enthusiasm!


June 12, 2006

Crying Versus Bitching (Part 1)

There are two types of customer personas, those who are logically responsive and those who are emotionally responsive. To confuse an apparently simple issue, most of us have some of each type and can be more of one some days and more of the other on other days.

The moral is that it is important to identify which type of customer you are having a conversation with right from the beginning. Knowing your audience is perhaps the most overlooked and underdeveloped skill in marketing. Copywriters try to do it, consultants preach it, and analysts gather data about it, but most of what those people use to draw their conclusions is information, not intelligence - and customer intelligence is what you need to close deals.

Intelligence can only be gathered by interacting with customers. Sincerely and tactfully massaging a conversation to discover the needs and wants of each individual is the only way to finalize a sale. Of course, marketing materials, websites, and commercials have to hit a mass audience, but this segment is about closing a sale with a person, not a mass market.

Once you discover an individual's needs and wants, the type of conversation comes along organically. Of course, finding true needs and wants may or may not be as easy as you think. You should have two conversations in your pocket right now - one for the logical and one for the emotional. Alas, most folks have only one sales conversation and it usually falls into one of two categories - experienced and well-honed (yeah!) or dated and tired (boo!).

Stay tuned to discuss the logical conversation in Part 2 and the emotional conversation in Part 3.


June 9, 2006

Yak Shaving


Is meandering from one seemingly unrelated task to another more like jumping into a stagnate cesspool of lethargy or diving into a bubbling cauldron of creativity? Is it passive-aggressive procrastination or pragmatic free-association?

Joi Ito considers the positive influence of yak shaving in his career.

Work Better tells a story about the horrors of yak shaving in daily life.

Seth Godin discusses how to avoid giving a yak a manicure.


June 7, 2006

Teach A Homeless Man To Fish

The Interagency Council on Homelessness took a new angle on figuring out how to deal with the homeless. The homeless were asked what would make them happy. Overwhelming number one answer? A room of their own. Some number crunching followed and the Council discovered it costs less to give the homeless a room of their own than to have them on the streets.

A preposterous idea? So it seemed at first - until someone did the research. It was simple marketing. Ask the people involved what they want or expect. Satisfy the desire. Now New York is reporting success rates of 88% and San Francisco says its homeless rates are down 40%.

It is easy to arrive at a conclusion, but the word "conclusion" in its essence means an end to a process. Why stop looking at a problem after it is "solved", especially when there are undiscovered insights waiting to be collected?


June 6, 2006

My Blog Can Beat Up MC Hammer's Blog


At least, I think it can....

Goes to show you the past means nothing and small equals opportunity, not inadequacy.

(Can someone explain why he is so obsessed with NASCAR?)


June 5, 2006

Google Search Results Stink

Big, dark internet secret #17: Google does not have the best search results. So why are they the number one search engine in the world (about 43% of all internet searches occur on Google)? Sites like AltaVista consistently deliver more relevant results pertaining to almost any imaginable search, but they barely make it onto the competitive map (about 1% of all internet searches occur on AltaVista).

Google does one thing. It is simple and easy to understand. When you go to the website, you have two choices... search or leave. In the beginning, when folks asked their internet savvy friends where to find something on the internet, those friends would refer to Google because it was straight forward and they knew it could not possibly be screwed up. It was so simple to use, it spread like chicken pox through a third grade classroom.

Good does not have to be complicated or overwrought. Want an idea to spread? Make it easy to use, easy to talk about, and easy to recommend. That way, when your competition is more effective, less expensive, or more reliable, you can still be number one.


June 1, 2006

Nauseating Quantity Of Rhetorical Questions


You built a story about your organization. You have told it to yourself over and over again, refining the details until it has become seamless and believable. You think it is a complimentary and believable representation of your organization's personality - its "brand".

What if it isn't? What if you have told yourself a story about what you think your organization is or what you desire it to be? What if the personality of your organization is not as seamless and believable as you think it is? What if the leadership or employees or customers are not what you think they are or want them to be? What if they are all delusional? What then?