Omaha! Omaha! Omaha!” – Who knows, but it can’t hurt”

Broncos Defense

Any number of claims will be made about this weekend’s Bronco victory in the AFC Championship game, but one stands out above the rest.

Sponsorship evaluation firm Front Row Analytics said the city of Omaha got its money worth with each verbal mention of Omaha worth the equivalent of $150,000 in advertising.

This claim, from an ESPN story about Manning’s calls during the game – each of which generated donations to Manning’s Peyback Foundation, ignores marketing reality and most likely determines the value of advertising based on conference championship football game advertising rates.

Problem is, that’s not what determines the value of advertising – though it can impact the price.

While the PR and donation campaign by the Omaha Chamber is pretty smart, don’t even think about believing the claim that “each verbal mention of Omaha is worth the equivalent of $150,000 worth of advertising”. In no universe is this claim going to hold water.

It’s quite clear that Omaha Steaks’ SVP Todd Simon understands the nature of this project – in this quote from the same ESPN story:

“This is really great for Omaha as a community and for the businesses that are embedded here,” said Todd Simon, a senior vice president of Omaha Steaks, which his family owns. “Who knows whether any of this will translate to the bottom line, if ever, but it can’t hurt.

The emphasis in the above sentence is mine.

Don’t get me wrong. This was a very intelligent project by the Omaha Chamber and they should be quite proud of what they pulled off. It’s particularly impressive to see them jump on it so quickly and get something fun, beneficial and PR-friendly organized after last week’s game against the Chargers, where Manning said “Omaha” 44 times.

It’s also a great example of the “Use the news” tactic that we’ve discussed repeatedly in the past.

“It can’t hurt”

If each of Manning’s 31 mentions of “Omaha” are worth $150k, then Front Row should be able to describe how Omaha can track those mentions to purchase / investment and related actions made as a result. Obviously, I don’t believe they can do this. They can certainly inquire at every sale made over the next few months, but this is unlikely to produce results that would provoke someone into additional advertising investments.

Small businesses should not be investing their marketing budget in “who knows…but it can’t hurt” advertising.

Every bit of your advertising spend can be tracked so that you know whether it worked or not. Don’t let it out the door if it isn’t trackable.

Perfect is the enemy of done – or is it?

A couple of weeks ago, NASA celebrated the one year anniversary of Curiosity Rover landing on Mars.

As someone who has been taking pictures since the ’60s, I still find it amazing that we can tell a satellite orbiting Mars to take a picture of a Jeep-size spacecraft parachuting to its landing 62 million miles away and have the photo on my laptop 20 minutes later.

The photos and video of the landing and all that led up to that event reminds me of the oft-quoted remark “Perfect is the enemy of done.”

Does it need to be “perfect”?

While shipping something and iterating its benefits, features and quality are perfectly acceptable strategies for many products and services, I think we shortchange ourselves if we don’t keep in mind that there’s a time and a place for “better than done”.

I was trained by engineering professors during my college days, so “perfect” means something well beyond “done” to me, often well beyond four decimal places.

Perfection is extremely difficult to achieve and even harder to prove , so let’s settle on a “Much better than where it is now” definition so we can keep the engineers happy.

Using that definition, perfect makes no sense for most work under most circumstances. For example, software programs are never “perfect” and while you can always sand a surface with a finer grit of sandpaper, does it matter if you take an 800-grit-smooth surface to where 10000 grit will smooth it?

Perhaps a better question is this: Is the cost and time investment worth going past “good enough/done” to reach for those “perfect” four, nine or 27 decimal places?

Going beyond a seemingly ridiculous number of decimal places is one reason why Curiosity made it to Mars and still rumbles across the Red Planet today – yet it’s unlikely that Curiosity is perfect.

BUT… it is extremely well-designed and resilient.

Design and Resilience

My point is this: while perfect is certainly the enemy of done for much of the work that you and I deliver, that doesn’t eliminate the need to put serious thought into the design and resilience of our best products and services – if not all of them.

It’s not unusual for us to design something based on immediate and short-term needs, never taking the time to consider what happens if it encounters situations and customers our short-term design never considered.

The information we don’t have is often as important as what we know and assume at design time.

When you send a product like Curiosity to Mars, you don’t get an opportunity to replace a part you didn’t think through as well as you should have. You can’t make a service call or throw a tarp over it while you rip it apart to figure out how to resolve today’s problem.

Instead, your design time process has to include what *could* happen and how your product would react and extract itself from an unexpected situation….long before you load it onto a rocket, pallet, download page or Fedex box.

What if your product…

  • Finds itself being used by a customer 10 times bigger than your design-time’s “Ideal Customer”? Or 10 times smaller?
  • Is being used in an unfriendly environment? A high-security or low-security situation?
  • Lasts 10 years longer than you expected? Remember – the work or result it provides still reflects on your business.
  • Cost 250% more to replace once it’s installed – and that installation takes 253 days  (the time it took for Curiosity to reach Mars).

When Curiosity lifts off, it was too late to turn a screw, change a part’s materials, or sand and polish it to an even-higher tolerance fit.

Think about your best stuff – no matter what you do. What would happen to it under the conditions described above? Would it be worth more if it handled those things without breaking a sweat?

How would you react when that extra bit of design effort pays off? What revenue will result? What will that first few seconds of success feel like?

PS: The sum of *all* NASA spending over the last 50 years is $800 billion. Lots of money. Yet that 50 years of exploration and discovery were cheaper than the government bailout of Wall Street, which cost $850 billion. A stunning comparison of ROI, even before thinking about the spin-off technologies from NASA’s work that have trickled down to business and industry, much less the things that impact our daily lives.

How much trouble do you go to for your customers?

Most companies go to a little bit of trouble to create content for their customers. Some go to a lot. Some exert little or none.

Hubspot exerts more than most for a video on their unsubscribe page.

How hard are you working for your customers?

Hat tip to PRDaily for the find.

 

Do you encourage your fans?

Linkin Park clearly understands their fans.

Some bands (or their “record” companies) would complain to YouTube or Flickr if a fan posted concert footage or photos. They’d ask to have them removed.

Not these guys. They post links on their official site that point to Flickr and YouTube videos taken by fans.

But it doesn’t end there.

From the LinkinPark website: “Each ticket purchased for the 2011 North American tour comes with an audio download of that night’s show.”

What are you doing to encourage your fans to become even more devoted?

Taking yourself out of context

Google recently released a video demonstrating how speedy the new build of their Chrome browser runs.

You *still* get the idea that Chrome is fast, but you are far from bored to tears as they demonstrate that.

If they showed a spreadsheet or graph documenting the speed of Chrome as compared to Internet Explorer, Firefox or Opera, you’d surely click on and move to something else.

Instead, they got creative and made something that’s both marketing and interesting/fun to watch.

Now it’s your turn.

Two young ladies: A contrast in character and leadership

Year after year, I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to watch young men turn from “typical 5th graders” into amazing young adult leaders. Because of that, examples of youth leadership in the news tend to get my attention.

Here’s a study in contrasts of leadership and character from two young ladies:

Got a reputation?

Earlier this week, actress Lindsay Lohan decided to sue E-Trade because they had the nerve to name a character with the same first name as hers in one of their baby commercials – and the baby just happened to be a “milkaholic”.

Lohan claims that the “milkaholic” baby was a jab at her substance abuse problems. Maybe it was and maybe there’s a lesson there about public figures, leadership, role models and so on. Just maybe.

An enterprising person or their agent might have contacted the California Milk Processor Board in order to leverage the alleged characterization into a fun, and probably popular, commercial for their “Got Milk?” campaign. But that didn’t happen. Too busy calling the lawyers to see a good opportunity, perhaps.

The shiny side of the coin

Later in the week, a client sent me a link to a leadership post about Megan, who convinced her big-time CEO dad that he needed to keep a commitment to run in a half-marathon, despite having a seriously overscheduled, busy executroid week.

Megan’s clearly a fine example of the ability of young people to lead. Her email was classic, post-on-the-wall stuff that every leader should read, file away and pull out once a month to review – just in case.

Now…think about your day. What example are you setting for the people around you?

The Reason Why

Ever notice that some businesses have a sale every other week? (or worse, even more often than that)

I guess they think they have to.

They’re the ones who have sales so often that *everyone* seems to wait until the next sale before they buy. Hey, it’s right around the corner, why not?

It starts to look a little cheesy before long. Why is that?

Aside from the “smell of desperation”, people see credibility if given “a reason why” even if the reason is silly.

Otherwise they get the idea you’re having a sale every week because you don’t know what else to do. Once they figure that out, your sale prices *are* your regular prices. Not a good thing.

Find a reason

Why are you having a sale / promotion / event?

  • Because the Saints won.
  • Because the Colts lost.
  • Because Obama won.
  • Because McCain lost.
  • Because I’m a grandpa.
  • Because we had a monster snowstorm.
  • Because it hasn’t snowed in 2 months+.
  • Because Valentine’s Day is approaching and you wanna be a good significant other
  • Because Valentine’s Day is over and you don’t want to keep all this red stuff till next year.
  • Because your kid just scored his first goal.
  • Because your kid’s never scored a goal.
  • To send a message to someone.
  • To thank a certain group of people or an entire community.
  • To educate your customers (ie: “because TED2010 is going on this week, all our natural foods are specially priced”, or whatever)
  • And so on.

But NOT because “I need some cash flow and having a sale is the only way I know how to close sales.”

Reasons are all around you

Legitimate is in the eye of the beholder, so have a little fun with it.

Papa John’s Pizza has a heart-shaped pizza special this week. Not difficult to do, but so far, I’ve seen no other restaurants offering something like this.

Yesterday I received an email from Dan Kennedy’s company that offered a 24.8% discount off any of their information products.

Why 24.8%? Because they got 24.8″ of snow in Baltimore this week. Almost everyone knows about snowpocalypse.

Associating your sale or promotion with stuff like this is easy. Taking an extra step to tie the discount to the event (like the depth of the newly fallen snow) is even better – as long as the discount/promo/sale doesn’t last forever, or come back again with the same reason every other week.

Inspiring your customers with kangaroos and wombats

Isla de Media Naranja

Creative Commons License photo credit: lastquest

Today’s guest post comes from Nicholas Basbanes, who comments on the interesting and creative choice of paper used to print a book.

Little things mean a lot – the article explains it well, but don’t be distracted by it.

Instead, allow it to fertilize thoughts like “How can I create a context like this for my products and services?”

If you just think a little, what makes “pretty good” into “amazing”?

What makes people beg to show you this cool thing they have?

Being amazing is what does that. Being inspiring is what does that.

Read about it here.

So, what exactly do you do, anyhow?

yellow gaze
Creative Commons License photo credit: fazen

We had a brief guest-post-ular discussion about this a week or so ago when I used Chris Garrett’s ‘What are you a natural at?” as a guest post.

Add to that, this comment from Drew McLellan and it struck me that there are a fair number of people that I feel like I know fairly well – yet I really don’t know deep down what they do.

In the case of those of you who read Business is Personal, that’s certainly true unless you’ve linked back to the blog so I could follow the trail to your site and read about you.

So here’s the deal.

Add a post on your blog that tells your visitors what you do and link back to this page. Or add a post that refers to an already existing page on your site and link back here in that post. Or post a comment here that links to your “So what do you do?” page.

Not only will I learn more about what you do, which might make it easier for me (and anyone else who reads BIP) to send you some business – but I’ll make an example out of the best responses I get to the question “So, what exactly do you do, anyhow?”.

I’ll find a nice way to reward the best responses: the ones that do a really great job of answering the question.

If you’re looking for an example, here’s my “So, what exactly do you do?” page.

Do I think it’s perfect? Nope. Like anything else, it’s a work in progress that I tinker with regularly.

PS: Yeah, I just invented the word ‘guest-post-ular’:)

The Cure for “The Culture of Cant”

[audio:http://www.rescuemarketing.com/podcast/pollyannaprinciples.mp3]
Droopy dog

It’s not unusual for small business owners to be involved in community organizations, so in that spirit I have something a little different from our every day discussion here – yet still completely applicable to your business – no matter what that business does.

Rather than Friday’s normal Hotseat Radio show, today I had the pleasure of interviewing Hildy Gottlieb, long time friend and author of the newly released book “The Pollyanna Principles“.

Hildy is a nationally-recognized consultant and President of the Community-Driven Institute in Tucson AZ, and has been called “the most innovative and practical thinker in our sector”.

That sector is what folks in Hildy’s business call “non-profit organizations” – which unfortunately describes exactly what those organizations are NOT.

One of Hildy’s missions is to change the mindset inside these organizations is to encourage them to call themselves “Community Benefit Organizations”, which describes what they are and do. The result of that subconsciously takes the “Droopy dog” attitude out of the picture.

You may feel that this is outside of the normal bounds of BIP, but in fact, it strikes at the core of it: business fundamentals, attitude and a number of the other things we talk about here on a regular basis.

You need to run it like a business

No doubt you’ve heard people say “non-profits need to run like a business” – and in fact we examine the pros and cons of that assertion, why it’s true, false and doesn’t necessarily mean what you might think.

After listening to my conversation with Hildy, I’m hoping you’ll grab a copy or 3 of her new book and provide them to the orgs that you support and believe in.

No matter what you do to encourage (convince, coerce, etc – you make the call) your favorite board member to read The Pollyanna Principles, the ultimate goal must be to make it happen. Hildy has created a great piece that organizations can use for motivation, strategy and like it or not, to arrive at the real long-term, more than a calendar quarter away, community-changing vision and a roadmap to get there.

Profit is evil? Horse Hockey.

The temptation by some in these organizations might be to ignore the great business books and their strategies, simply because they are supposedly all in the name of profit and thus not applicable to the charitable organization.

The fact of the matter is that neither assertion is true.

Still, if you prefer to stick to strategic books about the charitable sector rather than crossing over that supposedly evil profit line, then The Pollyanna Principles will be right up your alley because it was written just for you – because it’s all business. Your business.

Buy The Pollyanna Principles here

Please accept my apologies for the audio quality. We had some volume dropouts, an odd hum here and there, as well as some cool coffee shop environmental noise as I spoke with Hildy from a coffee shop in Missoula (Break Espresso, if you’re taking notes). Hildy and I have what appears to be several sessions left before we are “done” discussing her book, so I will make sure we have better infrastructure in place for those sessions.