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Good Examples Marketing

Skinny kids

I borrowed a brand new, $66,190 2007 convertible Corvette from a Chevy dealer here in the Flathead last Friday. Brought it back to the dealership about midnight Saturday, sadly with only about 41 more miles on it than it started with – but that’s a story for another day.

The salesguy who handed me the keys spent a few minutes going over what I needed to know and what I needed to stay away from (and why), like “speeds over 80, since we’re still in the break-in period”<g>. Before I pulled away, he made sure I was comfortable with all the things I needed to know in order to drive it for a couple of days.

Then he did something that would have probably annoyed some folks, but I was pleased that he was paying attention enough to do so…

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Good Examples Marketing

Are your headlines THIS good?

Believe it or not, I actually saw the headlines on this cover. Ok, I saw them SECOND, but I did notice them. I mean, it is Halle Berry and I do still have a heartbeat. Besides, the picture allowed me to see a couple of well-written headlines (over there on the left side of the cover, if you’re struggling to find em).

The first headline said: “If you had two days with HALLE BERRY, what would you do?”

I guess I’ll have to think about that before I decide, but in the meantime, I should note what a powerful headline that is.

At least I have an excuse. See, I was in the Salt Lake airport for almost 4 hours yesterday. I can only write so many blog posts, and catch up on so much coding in 3 or 4 hours. I was almost forced to walk into that gift shop. Really.

Anyhow, I was in one of the gift shops snagging a Diet Coke before getting on the little Canadair regional jet to Kalispell and was waiting for Nikki to ring me up when I spotted it. I remember Nikki’s name because she was actually friendly and a bit  chatty while taking my $ and making change. Or maybe she was trying to distract me from the magazine. Whichever the case, it was unusual for airport gift shop employee behavior. Many of em don’t say a word, much less make eye contact. I wonder if any of your people do that. I wonder if you know one way or the other.

Anyhow, the 2 headlines on the left, particularly the “two days with Halle” one, is a lesson to you. Magazine people know how to write headlines and you should pay attention to them. Go ahead and let your friends think you’re checking out the  girl on the Cosmo cover. Don’t tell them that these folks write some of the best headlines on the planet and you’re just looking for ideas. Guys, you KNOW you check out page 73 of Cosmo when the cover headline says “Secrets guys don’t want you to know…pg 73” (or whatever).

Point is, while Cosmo and Esquire are selling the world’s easiest thing to sell – they are still writing GREAT headlines. They could just as easily put a pic of Halle on the cover and left ALL the text off. But they didn’t. They left the text in just in case…

You, of course, have a different challenge. You’re selling ball bearings, trailer hitches, chocolate, body cream, IT services, human resources consulting, gourmet pizza, software and payroll cash advances. Your headlines have to work a little harder. These 2 should give you a little motivation. And maybe Halle will too.

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Entrepreneurs Good Examples Marketing

Think and take advantage.

This weekend I’m at Ken McCarthy’s System in Chicago, a who’s who assemblage of internet marketers, along with a fair serving of those new to marketing their business on the internet.

Ken puts together a great program, and it’s not the same group of people who would do or say anything to sell you something. It’s an assembly of real people with real successes who are genuinely interested in helping others do what they did. For those who dont know him, Ken is one of the down to earth, regular nice guys in internet marketing business – and that alone makes him stand out in a world of shovel sellers. A real class act.

Just before heading up to the room tonight, I ran into one of my Glazer-Kennedy Inner Circle Montana Chapter members here, Joel from Billings’ Rock Creek Coffee, which just thrilled me. Why? Because seeing people who are making a concerted effort to improve themselves and their business is exciting. So many people are in “build it and they will come” mode, but not Joel.

Even better, Joel went one better than just showing up and turned it into a lesson for my readers.

Rather than just showing up, he Fedex’d a pound of Rock Creek Coffee to the hotel. More specifically, he sent one pound each, addressed to each member of Ken’s faculty. Brilliant, grass roots marketing that will promote his product and his business in a very smart, but inexpensive way.

Taking advantage of opportunity sometimes means thinking a little.

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Competition Good Examples Strategy

Is your company ready for you to hit the road?

A friend and former business partner of mine passed on last Friday. 45 years old. Too young. As I spoke to her brother earlier this week, I thought back to better times. Her, her brothers, myself and our staff at Charley’s in Tampa after a successful trade show. Good folks, good wine, good food. RIP.

Despite all of this, notwithstanding the grief, her business…what used to be our business, chugs along like almost any other day today.

How could that possibly happen?

Systems. Documented procedures, step by step, click by click instructions for every process in the business, whether they involve a tape gun, box, CD, packing slip, trade show box, mailer, product shipment, service call, installation process, or whatever.

Everything the staff does, with few exceptions, was documented and placed in a printed procedures manual. Online versions were available (and built into our software) to make sure the most up to date version was available to everyone.

McDonald’s-like? You bet. All of this started with Michael Gerber’s E-Myth, which I read years ago after finding an employer was using the processes he described.

Read the E-Myth. Use it. If you have to choose only 1 thing that I suggest, choose this. It’ll pay for itself many times.

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Corporate America Good Examples Marketing

Amazing customer experiences – is your business giving them?

Every February, an old friend comes to mind. Before I get ahead of myself, lets go back in time a bit.

When my wife was carrying our 2nd boy, back in Feb 1992, we went on a cruise along the Mexican Riviera (the same cities that “The Love Boat” went to).

If you havent been on a cruise, an important tidbit is this: Typically (at least when we went) you sit at the same table with the same group every night at dinner, you become good friends and your waiter is the same person every meal. As such, you get to know the waiter and about his family and such.

Ours was an Filipino man, probably in his late 30s at the time. Because he was on the cruise ship during season, he was away from his family for 5-6 months at a time. It became clear during our cruise that this pained him greatly, but he knew that his work on the ship would provide for his family for the entire year.

When he found out that my wife was pregnant, he turned up the service several notches. There wasnt anything he wouldnt find, do, change, or whatever for her. He funneled the feelings he had for his family into the service we received that week. It was a fabulous week and his service was a substantial part of it. Maybe the service on all cruise lines is like his, regardless we’ll be looking hard at a Carnival the next time we go – simply because they did such a great job of finding him. A guy perfect for the job, even though he saw different faces and did the same job every day, day in – day out, for 6 solid months.

Turn the calendar forward about 5 years. I’ve taken the family to Florida for the standard tourist bill of fare when you have 2 young kids (Disney, etc) and we’ve been lucky. It just so happens that a Space Shuttle launch is on the launch pad and they are dodging clouds and such as usual. An insider tip was given to us that the cruise lines dock near Ft Lauderdale is a great place to see the launches, so off we go.

There are several ships at the dock, and lots of crew members are milling around as we join dozens of cars and people on the side of the road.

A short, olive-skinned man in a waiter’s smock walks up to us and says hello. He remembers my wife and asks about the kids. Finally it hits us, its our waiter friend from the cruise. 5 years later, he has remembered us from sight and rather than ignoring us, he’s come over to say hi and such. We’re both floored that he remembers us. While we wait, we talk about the kids, his kids, how his wife is, etc. He still works for Carnival. At the time, I could remember his name, unfortunately I cant remember it today (raising teenagers can do that to a guy, I guess).

Our Filipino friend has just created a lifetime memory for his company, as well for himself. He also has performed a marketing task that his corporate marketing group couldnt possibly have pulled off.

Dont you want to go on a cruise and have this guy be the one who takes care of you all week? Sure you do.

Now the tough question: Are your people doing that? Do they understand that their actions, service, demeanor and everything they do is a form of marketing? How long will you wait to share that with them? How often will you put things in place to help them do that and help them remember to do that?

Get moving.

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Good Examples Uncategorized

Do more than you needed to, make the experience memorable.

Last night, my family went over to Whitefish (MT) for pizza at our favorite pizza joint, MacKenzie River Pizza Company (again, do things right, I use names).

They were pretty busy, making service was a little slow at first. A manager took the liberty of taking our order (and remembered it without writing it down) so that we wouldnt have to wait.
When our pizza arrived, it was on sourdough instead of their famous whole wheat. Our server told us this as she sat the pizza on the table, which told me that it wasnt that the manager forgot what we ordered. She apologized and asked if we wanted to munch on that one while they remade our pizza with the right crust. We said no, dont worry about it. After all, it wasnt that big a deal.

About 15 minutes later, our server brought us another pizza, identical except it had the whole wheat crust, packaged to take home, and told us that it was on the house because they had messed up. Not what we expected. We werent upset about the wrong crust (come on, its a pizza crust not a wedding dress) so this came as a complete surprise.

Think they could afford an extra pizza on a $59 table? Sure they can. Especially since they know that kind of service will bring people back, and most likely get mentioned to others.

How do you handle a minor mishap in service? You could do enough to make it right, or you can turn it into an opportunity to shine by doing more than you need to.

MacKenzie did more than they needed to and made that small incident into a memorable service experience.

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Good Examples

Getting it in Vegas

You are soooo bad. You never expected this to be about customer service, didya? 🙂

A while back, I took the family down to Vegas to meet the in-laws. They were at a convention, so we shacked up at Caesar’s with them. This was kinda last minute, so of course, when I made reservations I got puckered up for $800 for 5 days of hotel room. We don’t get to see the in-laws all that often and they’re pretty cool, so I got over it (plus I planned to visit a client).

So I go to check in, give the nice lady my card and we’re off to find my wife’s parents. Not 10 minutes later, they tell me that they already had a room for us right next to theirs. Paid for.

Expecting to get little or no consideration, we go down to the counter and explain to the lady (same one) that I had just checked in (not even visiting our room yet) and found out that we already had a room. At first, we got a little bit of push back when asking to check back out with no repercussions, but the lady figured out that if she forced us to accept our mistake (caused by our own lack of communication), three things would probably happen: 1) my father in law’s company wouldnt likely ever book rooms at Caesar’s again, 2) neither would I, and 3) both of us would probably tell everyone we knew about how Caesar’s screwed us around.

Neither of us threatened any of those things, but we didn’t act like we wanted 2 rooms either.

She got it. Killed the charges on my card for $800+, had someone haul our stuff to our real room and swapped keys. And smiled and wished us a great visit to Vegas. AND she didn’t feel the need to contact 3 supervisors to make it happen. Caesar’s had trained her and empowered her to make decisions to keep their clients happy.
So…I got it in Vegas:) Good, conscientious service, that is, and from an “evil casino hotel” as some call them.
Our stay was uneventful, pleasant, clean and fun. Good job, Caesar’s.

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Good Examples Strategy

Success, 37 cents at a time

Remember the movie where Kevin Costner builds a ballpark in the middle of his corn field, prompting his dead father to play catch with him? Eventually hundreds of others to come to visit him, the presumption being that those visitors mean his family’s money troubles are over.

Get over it. It’s just a movie, albeit a fun one.

While it worked for Costner, doesn’t mean it’ll work for you. You need to WORK for them. Even Walt Disney had to work to get people to Disney World (and the Disney folks still work at that).

According to statistics, a fair percentage of the new businesses opened in the U.S. are restaurants. One might speculate that this is because people think it’s about the recipe they have (it typically isn’t) or because they’ve have always wanted to own/run a restaurant because it looks like so much fun (more likely).

Word has it that about 80% of those new businesses fail in the first 5 years and about 50% of the rest fail in the next 5 years.

Wonder why?

There are typically a “popular” short list of reasons, usually most of them are not the root cause of the problem, but they all add up.

One of the big ones I see all the time. “Build it and they will come” syndrome.

On the other hand, there is my friend Pratik, who owns a gourmet pizza restaurant in New Joisey. One of the ways he has grown his business substantially is by increasing his catering revenue.

How did he do that? Putting his face on his business. Making sure his people get it. Getting rid of the ones who don’t and taking care of the ones who do. Delivering catering orders as if he was the “delivery boy” as often as possible, where he will get feedback that he might not get as the owner, simply because his customers assume he’s just a delivery boy.

Other times, he’ll visit as the owner in order to thank the customer, ask how their service and food were and see if there are any ways to improve their service.

And one of the most insidious, competitive, sneaky things he does? He sends a hand-written card to every catering customer, thanking them for their order.

Wonder of wonders, he almost always gets a 2nd and 3rd order shortly thereafter. All for 37 cents, plus the price of a card and 2 minutes of his time.

Who do you think that catering client is going to remember the next time they need to cater a meeting? The real person who sent them a hand-written card to thank them for their business, or the faceless business who sticks copy paper under the windshields every few weeks?

Many business owners wouldn’t bother to buy a card, much less write one. Maybe they think they deserve the business (“I earned it”, or “We work hard”). You don’t. You earn it, every single day.

Get out there and work. And remember the little 37 cent things that mean success.