Seinfeld on Marketing ebook

This week’s “Seinfeld on Marketing” is a little special. A couple of weeks ago, Ron Shevlin suggested that I compile my weekly Seinfeld on Marketing riffs into a free ebook. (Thanks Ron!)

Please download Seinfeld on Marketing: 7 Marketing lessons from the cast of “the show about nothing” (PDF format) and feel free to pass it along to everyone.

You don’t even have to be a lover of Seinfeld to understand and apply the marketing concepts. So if you are a newbie, I’ll hold your hand and walk you through them. If you wear your “puffy shirt” on casual Friday’s, I’m sure you’ll be just fine.

Happy Friday!

Seinfeld on Marketing ebook

Nike’s Native American shoe: Niche or Naive?

Nike Native AirNike just announced their new shoe designed specifically for Native Americans, the Nike Air Native N7. From the press release:

The Nike Air Native N7 is the result of nearly two years of collaborative research, development and fit testing in partnership with the Native American community. The first-of-its-kind performance shoe is built on a new and unique last created to address the specific fit and width requirements for the Native American foot. The result is a true Native fitting, performance product.

One early concern I have is that there appears to be only one style. So who is going to wear them? Adults? Teens? Children? If the adults start wearing them, then the teens may shy away. If the teens start wearing them, the adults may find them too “teenybopper-ish”. If the young kids start wearing these shoes, then the adults and teenagers may keep at arms length.

I like the idea to a certain degree, especially the fact that some of the money is going to the “Let Me Play” program. However, I also have a lot of questions. Will this really work? Also, these shoes will only be available through Nike’s Native Business Program, but what about other wider/taller feet individuals who are not Native American? So my question to you is: is this niche marketing done right or just Nike being naive? What are your thoughts?

Show me that you love me

This may be a typical conversation in a personal relationship:

Person A: I’m not sure that you love me anymore.
Person B: I tell you all the time that I love you.
Person A: You say that you love me but I want you to show me that you love me.
Person B: How can I do that?
Person A: You can start by… (a long list is given)

A customer/company relationship is one where you must also show your customers that you love them. Advertising and other marketing collateral alone is only telling them. To show them, you must:

  1. demonstrate that you understand what “value” means to them.
  2. listen.
  3. never slack on the little things (because there are no little things).
  4. astonish them once in awhile.
  5. write them a “love letter” telling them what they mean to you.
  6. think about them more then you think about your company.
  7. talk to them.

What else can we do to keep the love alive?

Seinfeld on Marketing: Commodities

This week’s Seinfeld on Marketing is special. We are going to compare two different episodes:

George and his girlfriend, Daphne, are eating at the coffee shop:

GEORGE: So how were the eggs?

DAPHNE: Eggs are eggs.

GEORGE: Eggs are eggs. That is very profound.

Kramer is eating eggs at the coffee shop when Elaine’s boyfriend, Kurt, walks in:

KRAMER: (Tastes his eggs.) Aw, these eggs are disgusting. This chicken should be ashamed of himself. Hey, Kurt. Taste these eggs.

KURT: Uh, no – I only eat cage-free, farm-fresh.

KRAMER: Yes! These are sweatshop eggs.

I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again…every business begins as a commodity. And it will stay a commodity and compete solely on price or convenience unless you give your customers a reason to look beyond price or mere convenience. The fact is eggs are not eggs. Many people are willing to pay more and recommend to others something that has perceived value.

You cannot let yourself fall into the trap of believing that your product is a commodity. If you do, you might as well pack and move to Mediocropolis where all of the other mediocre products go to die. If water, coffee and eggs can become “de-commoditized”, then there is 99.99% chance that your product or service can as well.

Do your customers know (and value) the difference between your eggs and the rest of your industry’s eggs?

BONUS: Be sure to turn in for next week’s installment of Seinfeld on Marketing for a special surprise!

This post is part of a weekly series, Seinfeld on Marketing.

Brand waves

Quite simply, a wave is a transfer of energy from one place to another. A “brand wave” is also a transfer of the energy. The energy that is transferred is value, or more precise, perceived value as the company and customer both see it. In a brand wave, there are usually two simultaneous energy transfers – a transfer of energy from the company to the customer and a transfer of energy from the customer to the company.

The company transfers its energy to the customer by meeting or exceeding the customer’s positive expectations, by giving back to the customer’s community and by providing valuable experiences for the customer.

The customer transfers her energy to the company in the form of making regular and repeated purchases across multiple product and service lines, by enlisting herself as a evangelist who spreads positive word of mouth to friends/family/coworkers and by providing feedback to the company with ways of improving the experience.

If you think about it, brand waves have the same properties as other waves. Let me explain:

  1. AmplitudeMagnitude of maximum disturbance. When I say “disturbance”, I am not referring to the disturbance of unwanted advertising. What I am talking about is a disturbance in expectations. When I think of most used car dealerships, I expect loud radio commercials, balloons/inflatable objects in the parking lot and having to play the game of “let me talk to my manager” with the salesman. This is what I expect. Instead, what if a used car lot was subtle (relied on the word of mouth from an astonishing customer experience) and employed women as the salespeople? The maximum disturbance of expectations is usually achieved by doing the opposite of everyone else in the industry.
  2. FrequencyNumber of occurrences of a repeated event in a given time. Do you regularly give back to your customers with something of value to them? Have you filled their “trust account” with many positive and disturbing (see above) experiences? Is your trust account overdrawn? Loyalty is something that is earned over time by consistently providing your customers with frequent, memorable customer experiences.
  3. PeriodThe time for one cycle to be completed. Time…we all have it, but there never seems to be enough of it. Customers expect the lines in super markets to be as short as possible and patients expect to spend as much time as possible with the doctor. Find out what time is expected to complete one cycle with your customers and then try to exceed their expectations.

    Are you making waves with your brand?

    Happy Wednesday!

Will we ever learn?

Fresh from my post last Friday about policies and signs, I ran into this example at my local DHL package drop off location (sorry, it was taken from my cheap cell phone camera):



(P.S. Just in case you are keeping score at home, it took over 5 minutes for someone to come to the counter. Maybe the bell was broken??)

Seinfeld on Marketing: Policies

PoliciesIt’s Friday. Do you know what that means? It’s time once again for another installment of “Seinfeld on Marketing.” This week we’ll be talking about company policies.

In this episode of Seinfeld, Jerry bounces a check at a local bodega. He enters the store to talk to Marcelino, the storeowner, about removing his check from the “Do Not Accept Checks From:” sign by the cash register:

JERRY: Again, I’m really sorry about the check, Marcelino. (Jerry takes out his wallet): Look, let me just give you the forty, plus another twenty for your trouble.
JERRY (turning to leave): Aren’t you going to take the check down?
MARCELINO: Sorry, no. It’s store policy.
JERRY: But it’s your bodega.
MARCELINO: Even I am not above the policy.

Lets face it: many policies are the “junk food” of business:

  1. They seem good at the time.
  2. They do more harm than good.
  3. They only mask the real problem.
  4. They are used out of laziness.

Some companies seem to be addicted to policies. A company first may add a new policy because of an outlying situation. The company then creates a sign to enforce the policy. The sign then creates other outlying situations. The company then creates another policy (and sign) to clarify the old policy. Soon the company has conflicting policies that even the employees cannot keep straight. It can turn into a vicious cycle:

Policy Cycle

Is your company addicted to policies?


This post is part of a weekly series, Seinfeld on Marketing.

The importance of the Newbie

NewbieThe loyal customers, the ravings fans and the company evangelists get most of the digital ink these days… and for good reason. But don’t completely forget the other end of the funnel, the Newbie.

If you give the Newbie the right tools, they can give back in many ways. Let’s look at three:

Perspective – Newbies offer a fresh set of eyes to challenge why things are they way that they are. Their eyes are not yet opened and often do not see the ruts that many old-timers fall into. Your website layout, your old company policies and the status quo may all be challenged by someone who’s new to your offerings.

Reminders – I remember the first time I experienced the Click Wheel on a friend’s iPod. I remember how cool it was. A Newbie’s reaction can be very revitalizing to a Loyalist or to the company itself. When a wide-eyed Newbie mingles with a Loyalist, they often reinforce in the Loyalist’s mind the very reason(s) that drew them to your product in the first place. They replay in their mind their first encounter and the old feelings return and are strengthened.

Vitality – Newbies can act as a barometer for growth. Just like a healthy body needs a constant intake of nutritional fuel, so does a healthy company. Are you getting a healthy dose of Newbies?

But of course, all of this is for not if you do not provide a proper forum for Newbies to talk to you – a blog, a feedback form, an e-mail address, a “feedback messenger” attitude from the front liners, etc. Give the Newbies a voice and many will talk.

So what’s your problem?

Problems…it’s gasoline that keeps the marketing machine moving along. Without problems (and the solutions to solve them) there would be no need for marketing. We’d all drift aimlessly in the winds of “good enough” because without real problems there would be no need for a better solution. Thank goodness for problems!

If you think about it, there are two types of marketers…problem solvers and problem creators. Lets delve into both:


So are you a problem solver, a problem creator or both?

Competition myopia

Welcome to Seinfeld on Marketing! In this episode, a beautiful woman mistakes George for her boyfriend Neil, a guy who she claims looks just like plain, old George. This intrigues George; he wants to meet Neil. George is oblivious to Danielle’s advances and can only focus on finding out how Neil could ever become the boyfriend of this beautiful woman. In this scene, George talks to Jerry about his obsession:

GEORGE: I have got to find out how he could get a girl like Danielle.

JERRY: (pointing out the obvious) George, you’ve got Danielle. Forget about
Neil. You’ve out-Neiled him.

GEORGE: (surprised) So, I’m Neil? How did I do that?

JERRY: I don’t know, but you better keep it up.

Sadly, George does not keep it up. His obsessive fixation on Neil (instead of focusing on Danielle) led him to lose Danielle to Neil.

risk.pngThis reminds me of a marketing professor that I had that would always encourage his students to play the game of Risk. Don’t get me wrong; Risk can be very fun. However, I wonder if the tactics learned in playing Risk can actually hurt you as a marketer.

The goal of Risk is conquest…worldwide domination. In order to win, you need to learn strategy and intelligent tactical decisions. These strategic concepts can be very valuable. However, an unhealthy balance of attention and time is given to the enemy because once you have dominated your opponent, the country naturally falls into your hands. There is no questioning from the inhabitants as to why you are there.

The real marketing world is not like this. Just because you are better than your competition does not necessarily mean that you can take over the marketplace. In the real marketplace, the inhabitants do not take kindly to dictators. The marketplace can only be “won” over if they want to be and if they believe you have something of value in return.

Knowing the whereabouts of your competition is good business practice. But focusing on your competition to the point of looking past your customers is suicide. Customer centricity will always win over competitor centricity.

Happy Friday everyone!

This post is part of a weekly series, Seinfeld on Marketing.