Seinfeld on Marketing

Anyone who knows me well knows that I watch way too much Seinfeld. So much so that many times during a conversation with someone I remark, “Hey, that reminds me of a Seinfeld episode where Jerry and Kramer are…” Basically it’s a curse.

We’ll that’s all about to change. I have decided to use my Seinfeld powers for the good of marketing-kind. Form now on, each Friday I will blog about what we can learn about marketing from Seinfeld. Maybe this will help to quite the voices in my head. With that, I give you:

Inside a store full of ethnic merchandise. Elaine is examining some sort of footwear, while behind the counter Gladys is on the phone.

ELAINE: Uh, excuse me.
GLADYS: Be with you in a minute. (turns her back to Elaine and continues into the phone) No, you shoulda come last night, it was fun.
ELAINE: Uhm, I just have a question.
GLADYS: (ignoring Elaine, talking into the phone) I know, the margaritas in that place are so strong.
ELAINE: (walks up to counter) Helloo? I’d like to buy these hirachis.
GLADYS: (still ignoring Elaine, talking into the phone) So? What else is goin’ on?
ELAINE: (shouts) HEY!!
GLADYS: Listen, I’ll call you back. (to Elaine) Yes? What can I do for you?
ELAINE: (tosses the hirachis onto the counter) Nothing. You, just lost a customer.

Because she felt ignored, Elaine decides to strut in front of the store for two days showing off all of the merchandise that she bought from another retail store. When it turns out that the same person who ignored her in the first store owns this other store as well, Elaine and Kramer then try to mark down the merchandise with a price gun so that nothing is over ninety-nine cents. If this experience were to have happened to Elaine today, I choose to believe that she would have simply blogged about it or posted a youtube video.

Anyway, the point is when employees ignore customers or make them feel mistreated in anyway, they oftentimes go out of their way to make sure that everyone knows about their experience. It’s their way of “sticking it to the man”. What are the best ways to keep this from happening?

  1. Give your employees something to care about so that they in turn care about the customer.
  2. Hire attitude. Not everyone has the right attitude to work in customer service.
  3. Practice principles over policy.

What other ideas do you have?

Bonus: To read a great post about frontline employees taking phone calls, go here.

Happy Friday everyone!

Ross the Intern meets the Subservient Chicken

rosschickenmashup.pngQuestion: What do you get when you cross the internship of Jay Leno’s Ross the Intern with the interactive obedience of Burger King’s Subservient Chicken?

Answer: You get Trevor from the latest social media experiment from Mentos.

Trevos is a student at the University of Cincinnati and is a summer intern for Mentos. On the website he is described as “a summer intern for everyone” meaning you get to fill up his day with stuff to do. Some suggestions are: “order you lunch”, “call you in sick to work”, “proofread your term paper” and “catch you up on your favorite TV shows”.

I think that given the target audience this could work. What do you think? Is this breaking down the barrier between customers and company or is this just a gimmick that will not produce any fonder feelings or better sales for Mentos?

To bad mouth or compliment your competition? That is the question.

Thanks to Lord Brar for this one.

Check out this photo of three airlines in India that are using billboards to slug it with each other (Read from bottom to top):

billboard-wars.png[DISCLAIMER: I removed a watermark for DesignerMinds.com from the bottom billboard because I felt it was distracting and confusing. Click here to see the original image.]

Competition in business is part of business (except for monopolies, but that’s a different post). Deciding if and when to call out your competition can be very sensitive. One the one hand, the David and Goliath approach of competition bashing worked for Avis with their “We Try Harder” campaign against Hertz in the 1960’s. More recently, the Mac ads attacking PC seem to be successful (or are they?)

On the other hand, why spend your advertising budget mentioning your competition? Isn’t it really only showing that you are scared or that you’ll sink to whatever level to make a buck?

I’ve always felt that calling out your competition brings your own company down a notch on the customer trust totem pole. Whenever I hear one company bashing another I find myself looking for the ulterior motive (e.g. what do these guys want to sell me instead?) and I can’t help but feel like I am in the middle of an uncomfortable and bitter custody battle for customers.

If bad mouthing your competition lowers your trust level, then wouldn’t the opposite (complementing your competition) actually get you more trust and loyalty from your customers? Loyalty guru, Jill Griffin, seems to think so. Read about a recently experience she had:

Last week, an air conditioning tech climbed down my attic stairs after trouble-shooting a problem with an over-flow valve. “Who did your system install?” he asked. Aware that his company was not the installer, I shared that fact, bracing myself for the competitor-bashing comments and sales pitch I was sure would follow. “The company did an excellent job,” he said to my surprise. Small moment. Big impact. His six simple words instantly reframed my customer mindset away from “Can I trust him?” to “How can he help me?”

So what do you think? Is spending your hard-earned advertising dollars talking about your competition ever a good idea? Should you go so far as to compliment your competition?

Should some marketers not worry about creating customer relationships?

vendors.jpgIt’s July. In the U.S., often times this means parades. I have seen a couple of parades this season and this got me think about parade marketing and selling. During these parades, I saw many vendors selling cotton candy, bottled water, shade umbrellas and so much more. These vendors did not seem to have any affiliation with a brick-and-mortar or online store nor did they have a set location in which to vend; they simply walked up and down the parade route along with their mobile “store”. I am guessing that once the parade is over, they either go home satisfied with the couple of bucks that they have made or they move on to the next parade.

Help me out here: Should these vendors (or any company that seems to only sell “convenience” for that matter) concern themselves with creating long-term relationships with their customers? Is there ever a time when creating relationships with customers does not make sense? Is there a way for these vendors to create loyal customers? What do you think?

Thank you Derek Fisher

dereck.jpg The Utah Jazz guard, Derek Fisher, is leaving the Jazz to focus on his family. His 11-month-old daughter, Tatum, has cancer in her left eye.

Life for me outweighs the game of basketball,” said Fisher.

“When it comes to decisions related to them (his family) I do what’s best.”

When someone is in the public’s eye, it is very refreshing to have him or her choose what is “best”. It may just be me, but it seems like we have not seen a lot of that lately. May we all take time to reflect on and do what is best for our families.

Thank you Derek Fisher.

The Grandma test

A big thanks to Jeffrey Gitomer, sales and customer service guru, for this one!

One of best self-tests that I have come across to gauge your conversations with your customers is called the “Grandma test”.

Try putting the word “Grandma” in your typical messages tconversations with your customers:

  1. “That’s not my job, Grandma.”
  2. “It’s against company policy, Grandma.”
  3. “Thank you for your feedback, Grandma.”
  4. “I’m sorry, what was your name again Grandma?”
  5. “You’ll have to call back later, Grandma.”
  6. “What seems to be the problem, Grandma?”
  7. “Like I said, Grandma, you’ll have to…”
  8. ”I will take care of that right away, Grandma.”
  9. “We are currently experiencing a large call volume. Please continue to hold, Grandma.”
  10. “This is the wrong line. You’ll have to wait in that line, Grandma.”

If it sounds ridiculous to say it to your own Grandma, then why say it to your customers? (If you are playing at home, #3 and #8 pass the “Grandma test”.)

Happy Monday everyone!