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attitude Business culture Competition customer retention Customer service Disney Employees Good Examples Improvement Leadership Management Marketing Positioning quality Restaurants Retail service Small Business Strategy The Slight Edge

Grab a Bounty and wipe it up. NOW.

Today’s guest post comes from the legendary Tom Peters.

Tom’s comments relate well to a post here at Business is Personal about a famous Donald Trump restroom maintenance story – and probably to a Leona Helmsley story or two.

Details. Details. Details.

Can you find 10 little details today?

Imagine how much better your business will be if these 10 items are better, cleaner, sharper or faster tomorrow, much less next week.

Those 10 little details are marketing – and the best part of that is that most competitors will never see it that way.

Yet Disney does.

Here’s another detail for you: If you aren’t reading Tom’s blog, you should be. I could be more blunt about it, but I shouldn’t have to be.

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Competition Corporate America Creativity Good Examples Marketing Public Relations Small Business Social Media Strategy Word of mouth marketing

Quincy Bioscience does it with Congress

Uses the news, that is.

We’ve talked about this here at BIP in the past. When things occur in the news, USE THEM.

Take advantage of events in the news, whether they are ironic/funny as Quincy’s is or not.

The CPSIA thing is a good example (again). Once your testing is complete and you have all of your GCCs in order, why not announce to your local press that you are CPSIA compliant. If nothing else, it raises awareness of the law AND sends a message that everyone else may not be.

Worst case, it puts the question into the minds of consumers – exactly where you want it.

In the case of Quincy Bioscience, they are clearly paying attention. It’s an easy connection to make, but they could have done nothing. Instead, they took advantage of the situation, the connection in the news to their business and took action.

Simply brilliant.

The press release provides you with a valuable lesson on getting viral PR for *nothing*, see below.

Excerpted from the Madison Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel:

Quincy Bioscience will provide free bottles of its flagship brain-enhancing supplement, Prevagen, to any member of Congress or the Obama administration who has forgotten to pay taxes during the last 10 years, the company said Tuesday.

“We’re confident that after 30 to 60 days of taking the supplement, most legislators and government officials will recall, without being reminded by aides or reporters, all tax periods for which they have forgotten to pay state or federal income taxes,” Quincy Bioscience President Mark Underwood said in a news release.

Prevagen is so effective it also should help most government officials recall when they failed to make Social Security and Medicare contributions for undocumented household workers, Underwood said.

Note: Here is an alternate link in case the story is archived.

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Customer service Good Examples Improvement Manufacturing Marketing Small Business websites

A slight edge to improve your website’s contact page and calendar

This morning I got a note from Keith Lee at American Retail Supply in Seattle regarding our contact page discussion about Scouting.org from earlier this week. He mentioned that his site’s contact page includes directions to his retail locations.

That’s a simple idea that can save you and your clients a lot of time.

Let me put the cherry on top: Add a Google map showing where your business is located. Give them a page that can be printed that includes both – without all the other baggage your site has.

If you have a calendar of events on your site, speaking engagements, or what not – add clickable iCal links for them.

Those links will allow your customers to click them and automatically add them to your phone’s calendar, your Outlook or whatever calendar tool you use.

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Community Creativity Entrepreneurs Good Examples Ideas Leadership Management Photography podcast Public Relations Retail Small Business Strategy

Thinking outside the box store

[audio:https://www.rescuemarketing.com/podcast/ThinkOutsideTheBoxStore.mp3]

Several of my friends are in the artist community, both here in Montana and elsewhere.

Many of them are photographers like you’d suspect, but some paint.

I don’t really look at myself as an artist even though I’ve been a photographer in one form or another since I was a kid.

Recently, one of them told me that she was able to rent mall space for her photography studio due to an innovative program in the St. Louis area.

The economy has put a lot of pressure on malls across the nation. Vacancies are way up, and the situation is no different at this mall.

One mall thought differently

The mall’s management could have sat back and whined about their situation. They could have let the mall traffic dwindle and left those spaces vacant. That might have impacted them legally, depending on their contracts with anchor stores.

But they didn’t. Instead, they came up with an innovative program that helps their cash flow, helps the local art community (and the small business owners – the artists) as well as keeping traffic up in the mall.

You can review a TV station news video about the project here.

Think outside the box store.

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Employees Good Examples Internet marketing Marketing Media Montana Positioning Public Relations Sales service Small Business Social Media Strategy Web 2.0

Obama and Don K Infomercials: Breeding familiarity

The other night after the Obama infomercial, there was a 30 minute infomercial-style video by a local Chevy dealer in Whitefish (not the same dealer that Jim the birthday phone caller works for) on one of the cable channels here in the Flathead Valley.

While there were a few rough places, it was a nice, home-grown piece that introduced the staff, talked about their experience, educated you about their business and their staff.

It was similar in strategy to Obama’s infomercial – and several million dollars cheaper:)

A friendly, informal, not overproduced video like this was ideal for familiarizing you with things and people in their biz so that when you actually visit, you feel that deja-vu, I’ve been a customer before feeling – even if you aren’t.

Familiarity.

Raising your comfort level simply by seeing places and faces you’ve seen before, and hearing voices you’ve heard before.

Don K’s place is informal, not stuffy. You expect humor and shooting from the hip – just like in the video – but always with a purpose.

One of the staff introduced a new guy as having 30 days of experience at the dealer, but 29 years in sales. They promoted him as having lots of knowledge about sales, which was one of the few trip ups in this piece. “Knowing a lot about sales” is absolutely NOT what people come to a car dealer for.

The finance guy was great. Talked about warranties and loans in a common sense, interesting fashion (hard to believe, isn’t it?) as well as a bunch of other stuff. He was very personable.

The service guy was a fish out of water. They probably should have found someone else in that department to talk as he just didn’t seem comfortable. Be sure the people you choose are right for the task. It just isn’t some folks’ cup of tea – and there’s nothing wrong with that.

No other dealer around here has bothered to do something like this.

I suspect this 30 minute infomercial (Don K’s) was bought as remainder time, which is time that gets used (like on the radio) when they don’t have ad space or programming sold already. You don’t have to buy 30 minutes worth of expensive prime TV time to get eyeballs.

I hope Don adds clips of the video to YouTube and puts them on his site. That’s what you should be doing as well.

Breed familiarity with your staff and your business. Video is but one tool to use for that purpose.

All you need is an outline for your message, a $50 webcam and YouTube. What are you waiting for?

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Good Examples Leadership Marketing Motivation Personal development Small Business

Farewell, Randy Pausch

You have no idea how many people you touched and motivated, both personally and professionally.

If you don’t know who Carnegie-Mellon’s Randy Pausch was, I can’t suggest strongly enough that you take 75 minutes (YES DAMMIT, I said 75 minutes, deal with it) and watch Randy’s “Last Lecture”.

You’ll thank me. Your business will thank you. Your family will thank you.

Watch below.

PS: Ritchie, this one’s also for you.

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Corporate America Good Examples Management Scouting

Does your business run at the speed of trust?

The speed of trust is something Covey’s son came up with, and is discussed nicely here on Robert Ringer’s blog.

During our campout this past weekend at Lake McDonald in Glacier Park, I had an incident that reminded me of this article, which if you think about it, speaks to everything from day to day business to systemic health care issues in the United States.

Trust (via “trustworthy”) is also the first point of the Scout Law. I think there’s a reason that it’s first.

Quoting Ringer on Trust:

The truth of the matter is that the greatest threat to America is its loss of virtues, and at the top of the list of decaying virtues is trust. Americans don’t trust religious leaders, they don’t trust schools, they don’t trust corporate chieftains, and, above all, they don’t trust politicians. And, I should add, all this distrust has been well earned.

Yeah, it’s a broad brush, but if you look at all the programs in place that are there simply due to a lack of integrity in business, there are billions of dollars spent just because we have serious trust issues with parts of the business world that should expect (and generate) implicit trust.

Leaf and frost at Glacier ParkUnfortunately, their behavior over time leaves a lot to be desired.

Back to this past weekend. I had a 13 year old patrol leader (PL) who took advantage of his leadership position a bit. He and a partner made breakfast and then left the dishes for 2 other patrol members. We don’t do that in our troop.

I don’t have many publicly visible, meddlesome adult-issued rules in our troop because I believe the boys have to take command and have that be seen, otherwise they’ll never get the trust and respect they need to actually BE the leaders of the troop’s boys. I guide and mentor from behind the wizard’s curtain, not by the heavy hand.

One of the few places I do meddle (sorta) is by setting the expectation that cooks should clean up the mess they make after cooking a meal. The logic is that if they know they have to clean it up, they’re more likely to either clean up as they go or at least, make less of a mess. They’re also more likely to give a rip whether or not they burn something to the bottom of a pan, whether or not they’ll put dishwater on after serving so it’ll be ready to use when they’re done eating (we have to heat our water in the field, obviously), whether or not they’ll fill a gnarly pan with water so it can soak while they eat, etc.

Once you’ve watched enough 11-13 yr olds cook, this is fairly obvious:)

That didn’t happen on this meal and the 2 newbie Scouts who got stuck with cleanup duty got the stinky end of the stick, dishes-wise. Eventually, they stumbled and asked me what to do (they should have asked their PL first, but they didn’t – they’re new). After a brief lesson in saving yourself 30 minutes of fruitless scrubbing (ie: soak the pan) and a few other pieces of advice, I had a moment with the PL and told him that he would be taking the dish box home with him.

When he asked why, I reminded him that cooks clean, but more importantly that I wanted cleaning the box contents to remind him of how patrol leaders can get the respect of a bunch of 11 and 12 year olds. IE: It isn’t by dumping crappy work on them. I suggested that he would earn their respect, and thus, their cooperation by taking care of his responsibilities rather than delegating the ugly ones. Finally, I suggested that they would start to trust (much less take action on) his instructions when they trusted there was no ulterior motive to them.

Without that respect, he will have to constantly nag his patrol members to get stuff done. It’ll take forever, every time they do something. The dishes are a prime example.

He’s a good kid, he just made a mistake. The lesson sunk in, and he admitted that he shouldn’t have done what he did – and did so without asking. Of course, he still got to take the dish box home (meaning: He gets to clean everything in it and bring it back Tuesday night).

Trust earns respect and cooperation, and not just in a Scout troop.

Can your clients trust you? Is that reflected in the speed your business gets things done?

Think about it.

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Good Examples Management Mark Riffey Marketing The Slight Edge Uncategorized

X-Ray glasses and other fundamental secret weapons

When I’m working with people, it’s not unusual to get a fair number of questions from people asking me about tools, techniques and ‘where I got or learned about <whatever>’.

5 things/people jump out at me, in no particular order:

Mindmapping (I use MindManager from MindJet.)
Great for organizing a wide range of seemingly unrelated information, and more importantly, for brainstorming during the design phases of a project.

I listen to Jim Rohn’s advice.
Don’t be fooled by the “Man, he’s old. He could be John McCain’s brother” thing. Rohn calls himself “America’s Business Philosopher” (and he is), and is in the same league with Zig Ziglar. It’s not just about business or sales with Jim. It’s about all aspects of your life, including your business. His One Year plan is a great framework for getting your act together, 360 degrees-wise.

I listen to Dan Kennedy’s advice.
Absorbing Dan’s stuff is like getting a pair of X-Ray Business Goggles. So much of the crap that you’ve been taught, or that you might have learned the wrong way, gets fixed with a pair of Planet Dan X-Ray glasses. I know, sounds kinda stupid, maybe even pegs your hype-o-meter. When it comes to direct mail, direct response marketing, strategic thinking and seeing what others aren’t seeing, Dan has a unique way of getting inside your head.

I listen to KenMcCarthy’s advice. 
Who listens to an older (than me<g>) balding guy about business on the internet? I do. Success leaves clues, as Dan says. If you are a newbie at doing business on the internet (Its ok if you are) and don’t know the techno stuff – Ken’s Smart Beginners program is really well done. No assumptions about what you do and don’t know. Even if you don’t want to be the geek, Smart Beginners teaches you enough to be coherent when you to go get help from a contract programmer or webmaster. Few people can pull off a “101” class, but Ken does. If you’re more advanced, there’s plenty more. Ever heard of Yanik Silver or Perry Marshall? Both of them started off as Ken’s students, and those are just 2 examples.

The School of Hard Knocks.
Master’s degree, working on my Doctorate 🙂 The prior 2 links have made that road substantially shorter, but you still have to take it to some extent. Don’t take the long road, it’s got ruts.

How this might apply to you
One thought about the names I noted above. Jim, Dan and Ken are a powerful combination, and yeah, they aren’t 20 something. Don’t underestimate them. Jim’s an older guy. Dan’s style isn’t for everyone. Ken’s a bit soft spoken. 20-somethings may not be able to relate to Jim – though I think that’s a pre-conceived blindness issue. Dan can come off as a bit abrasive or edgy or something. Ken is so soft-spoken and so different than most “internet experts” that some might dismiss him. That’d be a mistake.

Your names might be different and that’s ok. Finding the ones that make sense for you is what is important,  but not as important as implementing instead of sitting around on your hands fretting about “What if”.

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Entrepreneurs Good Examples The Slight Edge

Lessons from Dunkirk Montana, population two.

Saturdayâ??s sunset over Shelby, MT
Ironically, Holiday Inn said it well when they said “The best surprise is no surprise.”

Ironic because they said it well but didn’t make it through the Hampton, Days Inn (etc) proliferation. Holiday Inn didn’t mean that you didn’t want to be surprised with a warm chocolate chip cookie at the front desk, or unusually good service.

They meant that you don’t want to be surprised by a busted bed, a leaky sink, roaches and any number of other unpleasant things that you’ve probably encountered in a motel room. We’re talking expectations. You expect a clean bed with a good quality mattress, clean sheets, a decent pillow, a hot shower, a working toilet, and a room that doesn’t smell like the insides of a LSU football player’s cleats after 3 weeks of August two-a-days (practices twice a day).

So where does that fit into the fact that I took the boys to Shelby, MT this weekend for a swim meet? Well, there were several “instructional moments”, as Dan would call them, and I’ll cover them over the next few days.

Most of these moments revolved around setting expectations. Our first surprise of the weekend was about judging a place by appearances and location. Thankfully, someone had already set the expectations for us.

The U.S. Census says there were 5,337 (yes, five thousand and change) people in Toole County Montana as of the last census. That’s in a county of 1,911 square miles, ie: 2.8 people per square mile. Not a crowded place, even by Montana standards.

We’re in Dunkirk Montana, population two. No, I am not kidding- here’s the Google map of Dunkirk MT.

We’re on the western edge of Montana’s ag country. No mountains to stop the wind, just lots of fields for dirt farming. It’s not a fancy place. Good people, lots of land and no shortage of “Big Sky”.

The unincorporated town of Dunkirk is one of those classic “blink and you miss it kinds of places”. At 70mph, if you close your eyes and count to 2, you’ll miss the downtown (unless you swerve off the road when you close your eyes). It’s a grain elevator and across the street, the Frontier Bar and behind it, a house. That’s it.

The Frontier’s sign, and in fact, the entire front of the bar; is beat up and seriously weathered from long, cold, windy east side winters (In Montana, “east side” refers to the side of the Rockies you’re on) and hot, dry, windy summers. If you didn’t know the bar was open, you might not even stop.

Sometime Saturday afternoon, someone who grew up in nearby Shelby MT told us to drive 10 miles east to Dunkirk and go to the Frontier. They made a point of saying “Don’t let the appearance run you off.” We had no idea what they meant. Turns out that it meant that the front of the place made it look closed – as in “It hasn’t been open for years.” Without looking inside, you’d have no idea it was in business unless there were cars parked out front. When you step inside, it’s a different world. To be sure, it looks like most other bars in small Montana towns…bar, stools, video poker, a few pinball games, a little dance floor area and the like, but with one exception…it’s clean.

I don’t mean just clean, but noticeably, amazingly clean.

No aroma of smoke. The pool table is so clean, it looks like you could eat off of it. There are some long tables over at the side – with white tablecloths and place setting. Turns out that’s group seating and there is a group coming in later. Part of the bar is carpeted. The floor and carpeted areas are spotless.

I walk over to the bar and the bartender asks if he can help us. I tell him we’re here for dinner. Then he says it….

In a town with a population of 2, in an almost 2000 square mile county with a population of 5337, he says “Do you have a reservation?”

I laugh a bit, and assume he’s kidding, but it’s clear that he’s dead serious. Thankfully, he thinks he can fit our group of 7 into the group seating area, and we are seated.

The waitress hands us a menu listing of prime steaks, elaborate pastas (Salmon and artichoke something or another), fresh shellfish / seafood (oysters on the halfshell, mussels, wild salmon and lobster) and so on. Today’s special is prime rib, regular or blackened. The “small” is 16-18 ounces, the large is 22-24. She warns us not to order too much appetizer-wise because the entrees are large, noting that “no one leaves here hungry”, and casually mentioning that the blue cheese dressing and warm bread at our table are made right here at the Frontier.

Our food arrives and as we were warned, the servings are substantial and the food is excellent.

After an hour, we’re still a bit surprised at this little nugget in the middle of rural Montana. The bar business has picked up, yet our formal table seats the loudest group in the place. A family group of 15 or so locals shares the group seating area with us.

On the drive back to the camping area, discussion revolves around how we could have missed this place, and how great the food was.

The next day, I find out the real scoop: the chef at the Frontier Bar in little tiny Dunkirk MT just happened to go to culinary school.

Any other bar in a tiny little town would typically be smoky and dirty. The bartender would be serving deep fried corn dogs and frozen battered mushrooms, and the bonus would be pre-formed frozen burgers cooked on a griddle that might have been cooking for Elvis. That kind of bar might have struggled to make ends meet. This bar was different. Someone, somewhere decided that the slight edge was great food in an environment clean and well-mannered enough to take your kids to for a meal.

I suggest that you leave room for the homemade lemon meringue pie.

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Corporate America Customer service Good Examples Management

Someone in Wyoming

Someone in Wyoming showed up on my caller ID this afternoon. Normally, I would have let it go to voice mail, but there are a few people down there whose numbers I don’t have memorized, so I picked it up and got a pleasant surprise.

It was Jennifer from Bresnan, the manager of their customer service quality management team for this area. Apparently Bresnan has someone (probably something, but that’s cool with me) scanning blogs for their various business/brand names.

Smart.