Seth Godin – able to leap tall buildings in a single bound?

sethgodinfigure.pngOkay, I think I have seen it all. Too late to get this for the Holiday season for that Marketer that has everything, but Archie McPhee is selling a Seth Godin action figure (this is real). I’m sure they’ll go fast, so stand in line now.

[Now it make sense why Seth recently got glasses. He doesn’t want his super hero status compromised…ala Superman and Clark Kent].


Seinfeld on Marketing: the gift test

I hope you are all enjoying the Holiday Season. I’ll make this week’s installment short so that you can get back to your regularly scheduled fun. In this episode, Jerry is talking with Elaine about a label maker he received from his dentist, Tim Whatley, after giving him Super Bowl tickets:

ELAINE: Hey. Oh, is that a label maker?

JERRY: Yes it is. I got it as a gift; it’s a Label Baby Junior.

ELAINE: Love the Label Baby, baby. You know those things make great gifts. I just got one of those for Tim Whatley for Christmas.

JERRY: Tim Whatley?

ELAINE: Yeah. Who sent you that one?

JERRY: One Tim Whatley!

ELAINE. No, my Tim Whatley?

JERRY: The same, he sent it as a thank you for my Super Bowl tickets.

ELAINE: I think this is the same one I gave him. He recycled this gift. He’s a regifter!

JERRY: Or maybe he liked your gift so much, he decided to get me the same thing. Perhaps it’s an homage.

ELAINE: Yeah, perhaps.

JERRY: Well how did he react when you gave it to him?

ELAINE: Um, he said, “Oh. A label maker. How about that?”

JERRY: He repeated the name of the gift?

ELAINE: Yeah, so?

JERRY: Oh, well, if you repeat the name of the gift, you can’t possibly like it.

ELAINE: What do you mean?

JERRY: Oh, you know, like when someone opens something up and they go, “Oh. Tube socks.”

If you ask for your customer’s personal information in exchange for a 10% discount card and they repeat the name of the “gift” by saying, “Oh. A 10% off discount card” – you’ve got trouble. Anytime you think you are giving something of value to someone, watch for her reaction (or non reaction). Value is in the eye of the beholder.

We’ll see you in 2008. Happy New Year!

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

Seinfeld on Marketing: Festivus

A special treat this Holiday season. In this episode, Frank Costanza relates to Kramer why he first started Festivus, a holiday he invented because he “hated all the commercial and religious aspects of Christmas, so he made up his own holiday.” Enjoy:

FRANK: Kramer, I got your message. I haven’t celebrated Festivus in years! What is your interest?

KRAMER: Well, just tell me everything, huh?

FRANK: Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reach for the last one they had – but so did another man. As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way!

KRAMER: What happened to the doll?

FRANK: It was destroyed. But out of that, a new holiday was born. “A Festivus for the rest of us!”

“Prolific” Frank got upset and decided to hold a holiday tradition that was opposite of Christmas:

  • Instead of a tree there’s a pole. It requires not decoration as Frank finds tinsel “distracting”.
  • Instead of gathering the family around and sharing in the joy of season there is “The Airing of Grievances” where at the Festivus dinner, you gather your family around, and you tell them all the ways they have disappointed you over the past year.
  • Instead of ending Christmas with the opening of gifts, Festivus is ended with “The Feats of Strength” where you must pin Frank Costanza in a wrestling type contest.

The lesson? Festivus would not have been a hit had it only been a new Christmas with 13 days of Christmas and 4 Wiseman. To get noticed, it had to be different. In this same vein, you can’t beat Wal-Mart by having your items 3 cents cheaper and you can’t beat Dominos Pizza by having your pizza delivered in 28 minutes. You need to do something truly different to be noticed and to succeed.

Many people wrongly assume that the further you move away from what the market leader is doing the further you move away from the potential of being the market leader yourself and the closer you are to being the market loser. In other words:

Market Leader Assumption

This simply is not true. If you could tilt this line graph you would see that the market leader actually casts a long shadow. And if you get to close to the leader, you end up either being invisible and trying to be noticed in their shadow or you’ll be sued for being to similar. Neither option is what you want. Go for being the opposite. Thanks Frank!


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

Stop copying me!

Take 10 seconds and study the following two pictures. What do you notice?:


In the picture of the left, you may have noticed the low prices or the funky store font (Anybody in the mood to do the Hustle?). In the picture on the right, I’ll bet you noticed the unusual speed limit of 7.5 MPH. What I bet you did not notice (at least on a conscious level) is the 9/10 of a cent in the gas prices.

So why do we notice the speed limit sign’s 1/2 addition and not the 9/10 addition in the gas price sign? Simple…the 9/10 is the norm in gas prices in the US and the 1/2 mile per hour is unusual.

In this fast-paced, Internet-infused world, most anything can be copied. The last refuge of remarkableness is often the company culture. Culture is much harder to duplicate than prices, business strategies or product attributes. Since remarkableness is usually an inside job, this is yet another reason to take care of those inside the walls of your organization.

Love, hate and indifference

John Moore over at Brand Autopsy has this gem in a recent post:

“[I]f your product only attracts indifferent customers and fails to attract passionate customers … chances are, that product will not succeed.”

-Well said.

You might intuitively reason that that a bad product with negative feedback is the enemy of an über-product that attracts passionate customers. This is not true. I have come to realized that a so-so product that elicits indifference is the actual enemy of a product that elicits passionate customers.

Why is this? With a bad product and bad press, you quickly disband, move on and focus your attention elsewhere. With an indifferent audience, you wrongly hold on to false hope beyond what is reasonable and convince yourself that if you could just persuade a handful of people to move to the passionate side of the scale that others will quickly follow. This rarely happens. You need to have some people early on gravitate to the opposite sides of the love/hate scale.

I think a healthy scale looks something like this:


Of course you need those that rave about your product. But you also want some people to actually hate your product to keep the wheels of product innovation moving and to keep your feelings of being “comfortable” in check.

Quickly get people from the center black hole of indifference and to the ends of of the spectrum of love and hate (hopefully more love then hate!)

Happy Tuesday!

I think I may toss my cookies

By way of The Consumerist:

Not Making This Up: The chief operating and development officer of Yum brands, which includes Taco Bell, KFC, Long John Silver’s and Pizza Hut, is named Mr. Hearl. Mr. Hearl is retiring and will be replaced by Mr. Eaton. Seriously.

Have a great Monday!

Seinfeld on marketing: Love

Happy Friday everyone! In this episode, Jerry and George and discussing George’s new girlfriend.

JERRY: So you like her?
GEORGE: I think so.
JERRY: You don’t know?
GEORGE: I can’t tell anymore.
JERRY: Well do you feel anything?
GEORGE: Feel? What’s that?
JERRY: All right, let me ask you this: when she comes over, you’re cleaning up a lot?
JERRY: You’re just straightening up or you’re cleaning?
GEORGE: Cleaning
JERRY: You do the tub?
JERRY: On your knees, Ajax, scrubbing, the whole deal?
JERRY: Okay, I think you’re in love!
GEORGE: Tub is love?
JERRY: Tub is love. So there you are. You’ve got a nice girl and a clean apartment.

If “tub is love”, then many college frats boys are in trouble. But I digress. The truth is, when it comes to a business’ adorning fans, what they expect and how they define love can be different for each person.

To some, it’s a well written response from the business. To others, it’s showing the human side of business. Love comes in many flavors.

So how do you find out what loves means to your customers? You could try just asking them. Asking, listening and doing…it’s powerful stuff I tell ya. But if you don’t have time or resources to talk to each one of your customers then another great way is to treat each customer like a human being (I know, another breakthrough idea). And don’t forget The Grandma Test.

Have a great weekend!

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

Lost in translation

Besides English, I have tried to learn two languages in my time – German and Spanish. Unfortunately, German never really stuck. All I can remember is the phrase – “Ich habe lockiges haar” or “I have curly hair”… which I don’t – so even this phrase wont help me out. With Spanish, I do okay.

I remember when I was learning Spanish I got to a point where I could translate in my head fairly well from Spanish to English and back again. But as anyone that has learned another language call tell you, to truly learn a language you have to get past the mental exercise of translation and move to a higher level where you start to think in the other language (it is really cool when you even start to dream in the other language).

The hard part about being in the “translation stage” is that it is very taxing. It takes a lot of time and energy to push past The Dip and on to a level of proficiency. I remember a lot of memorizing, headaches and feeling mentally spent (yes, learning another language can be exhausting).

I’d say that this is not unlike many of the communication that goes on between businesses and consumers. Often times, businesses speak in a different language then their customers and the customer is left to translate what it means. For example, a marketer may have bullet points of their products features:

  • Our hair stylists are professionally trained
  • Our hair stylists know the latest trends

And the customer is left to translate what it means to them:

  • Professionally Trained – “They do not use a Flowbee for their haircuts and certaininly will not use the phrases – ‘oops’ or ‘I’ll just have to try and even that out’”
  • Latest trends – “No mullets or mutton chops or anything else that will limit my social life”

The problem is, when you do not take the time to think and speak in a way that your customers understand, few of them continue the metal exercise of translation of what you are trying to say. They usually just end up moving on to a different company that speaks their language.

Happy Tuesday!

Seinfeld on marketing: Double Dipping

It’s Friday (like you need a reminder when its Friday). In this week’s episode of Seinfeld on marketing, George is at a wake of his girlfriend’s deceased Aunt. He is eating at the snack table when his girlfriend’s brother, Timmy, approaches him:

TIMMY: What are you doing?


TIMMY: Did…did you just double-dip that chip?

GEORGE: Excuse me?

TIMMY: You double-dipped the chip!

GEORGE: “Double-dipped”? What are you talking about?

TIMMY: You dipped the chip. You took a bite. And you dipped again.


TIMMY: That’s like putting your whole mouth right in the dip! From now on, when you take a chip – just take one dip and end it!

One of the quickest ways to dissolve any trust or loyalty between a customer and a company is to double dip. The business equivalent of the double dip would be any activity that takes advantage of your relationship with your customers. Here are three quick examples:

  1. Unnecessary explanations. If you call customer service to explain a problem (first dip) then you are handed off to someone else (or multiple people) and you have to explain everything all over again (double dip).
  2. Excessive or hidden fees. Of course a business needs to make money. So the clearly stated, agreed upon fees are the first dip. Any hidden fees would be a double dip.
  3. Long customer surveys. I would consider the first 5 minutes in a customer telephone or online survey to be the first dip. Anything more than this would be the double dip.

Double dipping a chip is considered bad manners and is just plain gross. Double dipping your customers is like tarnishing your trust and liquidating their loyalty.

Can you think of any other double dips?

Have a great weekend!

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

It’s Ironic

We know from Marketing 101 and Reis and Trout’s book, Positioning, how important it is to stand for the something in the prospect’s mind. For example:

Volvo = safety
FedEx = overnight delivery
Apple = differently innovative technology

When it comes to marketing’s own backyard, we have a problem. Many people (I’d even say many good business people) have the misconception that:

Marketing = sales (or advertising)
Brand = logo

What can be done? Let’s pretend for a moment that you are the recently promoted salesmarketing manager or logobrand manager for “Marketing” or “Brand”. Unfortunately there’s no time to celebrate your new position, as there’s work to be done. As your first endeavor, what would you want to come to the mind of business people when they think of “Marketing” or “Brand”? How would you change the current perception to this new position?

Happy Tuesday!