A time of more

When times are good and the wheels of production are in perfect harmony with the ringing of the cash register, we often want to acquire more – What new markets should we enter? What new products should we introduce next year? Are we winning the market share race over our competition? It’s an outward search for more.

But in lean times – when time seems to go by a litter slower – acquiring more is seldom an option. However, it’s the perfect time to stop and reflect about being more. Are we living up to our promises made to our customers and employees? How can we be of more help? What can we do internally to increase moral, industry education, a sense of team and proactive service? It’s all about looking inward for more.

You see, “more” comes in two flavors – acquiring more (more customers, more stores, more market share, more products) and being more (more helpful, more focused, more responsive, more aware).


Now is your chance to be more.

Happy Tuesday all.

Words of wisdom from a 10 year old (Part 3)

The Clue Train Manifesto

This month marked the 10-year anniversary for what I consider one of the most important manifestos on the Internet. My goal over the last several days was to entice you to read (again or for the first time) The Cluetrain Manifesto (free). You can read part one here and read part two here.

I’ll leave you with two things: 1). An awesome quote 2). A downloadable PDF version of The Clue Train Manifesto (I heard from many of your that you’d like this.).

Download the PDF version of the Clue Train Manifesto

The market started out as a place where people talked about what they cared about, in voices as individual as the craft goods on the table between them. As the distance between producer and consumer lengthened, so grew the gap between our business voice and our authentic voice. Marketing became a profession, an applied science, the engineering of desirable responses through the application of calibrated stimuli — including the occasional axe in the head.

Marketing isn’t going to go away. Nor should it. But it needs to evolve, rapidly and thoroughly, for markets have become networked and now know more than business, learn faster than business, are more honest than business, and are a hell of a lot more fun than business. The voices are back, and voice brings craft: work by unique individuals motivated by passion.

What’s happening to the market is precisely what should — and will — happen to marketing. Marketing needs to become a craft. Recall that craftworkers listen to the material they’re forming, shaping the pot to the feel of the clay, designing the house to fit with and even reveal the landscape. The stuff of marketing is the market itself. Marketing can’t become a craft until it can hear the new — the old — sound of its markets.
By listening, marketing will re-learn how to talk.

Download the PDF version of the Clue Train Manifesto

Happy Thursday!

Words of wisdom from a 10 year old (Part 2)

The Clue Train Manifesto

This month marks the 10-year anniversary for what I consider one of the most important manifestos on the Internet. My goal over the next several days is to entice you to read (again or for the first time) The Clue Train Manifesto (free). You can read part one here.

When I first read The Clue Train Manifesto I was young in my marketing career. I first read it during a time when I was trying to tie up the loose theory I learned in college while at the same time seeking something that would help guide my future pursuits. When I first read it, I knew I had found what I was looking for. It was almost a magical moment. Hopefully it will help you as well.

Here are today’s money quotes:

  • We long for more connection between what we do for a living and what we genuinely care about, for work that’s more than clock-watching drudgery.
  • [C]ompanies don’t like us human. They leverage our longing for their ends. If we feel inadequate, there’s a product that will fill the hole, a bit fetishistic magic that will make us complete. Perhaps a new car would do the trick. Maybe a trip to the Caribbean of that new CD or a nice shiny set of Ginsu steak knives. Anything, everything, just get more stuff. Our role is to consume.
  • Because the Net connects people to each other, and impassions and empowers through those connections, the media dream of the Web as another acquiescent mass-consumer market is a figment and a fantasy.
  • Markets must come to have faces and personalities in place of statistical profiles.
  • The question is whether, as a company, you can afford to have more than an advertising-jingle persona. Can you put yourself out there: say what you think in your own voice, present who you really are, show what you really care about? Do you have any genuine passion to share? Can you deal with such honesty? Such exposure? Human beings are often magnificent in this regard, while companies, frankly, tend to suck. For most large corporations, even considering these questions — and they’re being forced to do so by both Internet and intranet — is about as exciting as the offer of an experimental brain transplant.
  • Markets do not want to talk to flacks and hucksters. They want to participate in the conversations going on behind the corporate firewall. De-cloaking, getting personal: We are those markets. We want to talk to you.

Read The Clue Train Manifesto

Happy Wednesday!

Words of wisdom from a 10 year old (Part 1)

The Clue Train Manifesto

This month marks the 10-year anniversary for what I consider one of the most important manifestos on the Internet. My goal over the next several days is to entice you to read (again or for the first time) The Clue Train Manifesto (free).

Here are some money quotes that are still (if not more) relevant today. Keep in mind this was 1999, well before anything that could have been labeled web 2.0 or social media:

  • Markets are conversations. Markets want to talk to companies.
  • There are two conversations going on. One inside the company. One with the market. In most cases, neither conversation is going well.
  • Most corporations…only know how to talk in the soothing, humorless monotone of the mission statement, marketing brochure, and your-call-is-important-to-us busy signal. Same old tone, same old lies.
  • [L]earning to speak in a human voice is not some trick, nor will corporations convince us they are human with lip service about “listening to customers.” They will only sound human when they empower real human beings to speak on their behalf.
  • Most marketing programs are based on the fear that the market might see what’s really going on inside the company.
  • Companies must ask themselves where their company cultures end. If their cultures end before the community begins, the will have no market.
  • The community of discourse is the market.
  • If you want us to talk to you, tell us something. Make it interesting for a change.

Read The Clue Train Manifesto

Happy Tuesday!

What’s been keeping me so busy lately


She’s cute and very worth it. I hope to get back to the regularly scheduled program soon.

Seinfeld on Marketing: Marketing earworms

Fridays and Seinfeld can only mean one thing: Seinfeld on Marketing! Let’s dive right in, shall we? In this episode, George is talking to Jerry about his dating philosophy:

GEORGE: I got a date with the sales woman. She’s got a little Marisa Tomei thing going on.

JERRY: Ah, too bad you got a little George Costanza thing going on.

GEORGE: I’m going out with her tomorrow, she said she had some errands to run.

JERRY: That’s a date?

GEORGE: What’s the difference? You know they way I work. I’m like a commercial jingle. First it’s a little irritating, then you hear

it a few times, you hum it in the shower, by the third date it’s “By Mennen!”.

Earworms. Yup. That’s what they call those annoying songs and jingles that get stuck in your head faster than a two-year-old in a playland full of plastic balls. And they’re very hard to dislodge from the brain. In fact, I challenge any man, women or child on the face of this God-given green earth of ours to try and not hum or sing that blasted It’s A Small World After All song after getting off that ride in Disneyland. Go on. Try it. It can’t be done. And believe me, I’ve tried. And why is that?

According to research conducted by University of Cincinnati professor James Kellaris songs that are simple, repetitive, and contain some incongruity (have an unexpected twist) are most likely to become stuck.

So here’s what I learned. The Village People may not have been village idiots after all. I mean, take their Y.M.C.A. song. It’s an earworm, big time. The chorus is simple, it’s certainly repetitive and it contains some incongruity (I mean, who knew that a Native American Chief, a biker and a military man could make music?).

Simplicity. Repetition. Incongruity. All very powerful tools. But before you go out and try and make marketing earworms, let me caution you with this. Sure earworms are powerful, but if they are not backed up by relevance and meaning, what you’ve got is nothing more than a marshmallow Peep – it taste good at the time but provides no lasting benefit or significance. In fact, what I wrote about in my Seinfeld on Marketing ebook is that if your customer experience is faulty and then you try to increase your exposure, you can actually propel your business into inexistence faster. The formula goes:

bad customer experience + increased exposure = accelerated extinction

So make sure you have what others really want. In fact, do me a huge favor and read Tom Asacker’s post about repetition and creating memories.

[Side Note: If you now have It’s A Small World After All or Y.M.C.A. stuck in your head, you can thank me later!]

Happy Friday y’all!

This post is part of an ongoing series, Seinfeld on Marketing.

Flash of Insight: Definitions and purposes

A flash of insightThe definition of a business is an entity that makes money. The purpose of a business must extend well beyond this minimum threshold. Never confuse definitions and purposes.

The best of the best practices

I overheard someone asking for “the best of the best practices.” This just goes to show you that many so-called “best practices” are just noise. Sure, they may have been valuable for the company that first discovered them. But over time as the practices were passed around from one company to the next, the sharp edges that made them effective were worn down. By the time they reached mainstream and were called best practices, they had been reduced to “safe practices” or “boring practices.”

At best, best practices are simply minimal requirements. Best practices are to effective strategy as Wikipedia is to curing cancer – it’s a starting point. Never lull yourself into believing the pleasing (but false) notion that best practices will cure what ails you. You’ve got to go well beyond best practices and forge your own niche.

Agree? Disagree?

Flash of Insight: Principles over policies

A flash of insightEmployees who are schooled only in company policies will never learn. Principles make for better teachers. That’s why Principles rule the school.

Seinfeld on Marketing: Make ‘em feel it


It’s time once again for another stirring rendition of Seinfeld on Marketing. In this episode, Kramer is talking to Jerry about helping out a local hospital by pretending he has a diseases and allowing the medical students to practice diagnosing it. But when Kramer is given the chance to act out the symptoms of gonorrhea, he feels slighted. He feels that gonorrhea is only “a little burn” and does not show his true range as an actor. In this scene, Jerry is talking to Kramer about how he can still make his small acting part work:

KRAMER: See, showmanship. Maybe that’s what my gonorrhea is missing.

JERRY: Yes! Step into that spotlight and belt that gonorrhea out to the back row.

KRAMER: Yes, yes I will! I’m gonna make people feel my gonorrhea, and feel the gonorrhea themselves.

All things being equal, STD’s are a hard sell. Maybe you have something equally hard to sell – pimple cream or the Snuggie (it’s just a backwards robe, people). Or maybe you are trying to sell an idea – like convincing your boss that investing in SEO would benefit the company or encouraging a tribe to rallying around your idea.

Whatever you are selling, make others feel your idea, and feel it themselves. In essence, we all want to feel – to feel a connection to something that helps them to grow, to learn, to aspire, to understand and to make their world better. JFK was good at making others feel a connection and so is Steve Jobs.

So the next time you give a presentation, write an ebook or present your product to a prospective customer don’t forget to inject feeling into what you do and belt it out to the back row!

This post is part of an ongoing series, Seinfeld on Marketing.

Photo credit: simplybecka