Have you had “the talk” yet?

No, I don’t mean that talk. I mean, talking about how to make your company, church or non-profit truly remarkable. Many of us don’t get around to it. We seem to busy our days with meetings, talking about our next campaign or discussing what our competitors are currently doing. Do me a favor. Put down whatever you’re doing right now and have the talk. Then after “the talk”, have “the do.”

Happy Tuesday!

Some marketers are always on a diet

If you are like many people, you had a goal on January 1st to finally loose weight and get healthy. But sadly you’ve probably since abandoned your all cabbage diet or your special juice diet and you are back to your status quo. But good news though – you’ll be hard at it again next January.

Many marketers are also on perpetual diets. We diligently pursue the latest social media tool or advertising promotion and when we don’t see immediate results we run to something else – probably some interruption marketing campaign.

This will never work because diets don’t work. What we need in our business is a lifestyle – something that will guide us in all we do (and help us decide what not to do). Our lifestyle could be our remarkable customer service, our profound community involvement or our concern for green issues. Whatever lifestyle we choose to live, the right lifestyle will make the supporting tactics much more self evident and less taxing on us.

So stop dieting and create a business lifestyle. Soon enough those jeans won’t make you look fat!

Happy Monday!

Seinfeld on Marketing: 5 steps to becoming a buff

My friends, it’s Friday. I’ve got a great Seinfeld episode lined up for you today. Remember the episodes with Keith Hernandez (the “second spitter” theory done to the likes of JFK the movie)? Well, in today’s Seinfeld on Marketing, Jerry and George spot Keith for the first time:

GEORGE: Wow, Keith Hernandez! He’s such a great player.

JERRY: Yeah, he’s a real smart guy too. He’s a Civil War buff.

GEORGE: I’d love to be a Civil War buff. What do you have to do to be a buff?

JERRY: …Well sleeping less than 18 hours a day would be a start.

George being a buff. You know, unless it’s how to sleep under your desk at work and not get caught or how to use an alias (Art Vandaley) without revealing your true pathetic self, I’m just not seeing George being a buff.

Maybe George is not the best “buff” example, but there are many out there – take for example this guy who is a Photshop buff and “untoons” the likes of Jessica Rabbit, Homer Simpson and Mario (you’ve got to see it to believe it).

A buff for your product or business is the holy grail of every marketer. We’d die for fans, evangelists and basically those willing to brave the elements to camp out for the chance to be first to get their hands on our stuff. Of course, this is much easier said then done. But I think the best chance you have to become “buff worthy” comes in these five F’s:

  1. Fit. You must create something that actually fits my ideals, desires and situation. If I see no fit, I will either ignore you or place you in the recesses of my mind until a possible future fit (but most minds are unreliable and I will most likely just forget about you).
  2. Flagrant. One definition of flagrant is “obviously inconsistent from the norm.” My experience with you must be unmistakably different from anything else to stand apart from the noise of the status quo. Something “good enough” rarely gets talked about. Flagrant products -whether they are much better or much worse from the norm – get most of the attention. Hopefully you reside in “much better” camp.
  3. Frictionless. My experience with your product or service must be easy to understand, adopt and spread. If I run into a friend after she has lost 50 pounds, her weight loss is easily understood and transmitted. In addition to obvious visuals (weight loss, tattoos, fan t-shirts), remember that digital is most always slipperier than anything physical.
  4. Forum. To truly optimize your buff quotient, I must have a place to talk about the greatness that is you. This could be a fan club, a blog or website, a conference, or some other network. If the forum is started by your company, it must include open, two-way conversations free from dilution and filtration.
  5. Feedback. If you seek out, listen to and respond to my feedback then I am more apt to become a buff. Let me participate in the innovation and improvement process and I’ll love you all the more.

[Sideshow fun: Here are two time wasters (but well worth it!) having to do with Seinfeld – a Seinfeld/Bachelor mashup and now you can watch full length episodes of Seinfeld courtesy of TBS!. ]

Happy Friday!

Robin Williams and your soul

Do you remember the movie “Dead Poets Society”? Does Carpe Diem, a desk set and “Captain, My Captain” ring any bells? Anyway, Robin Williams plays an English teacher trying to help his students learn about poetry and life. At one moment in the movie, he takes his students to the school courtyard just to stroll around in a circle. After only a brief moment of walking in a circle, the boys begin to march and clap in rhythm. Robin William’s character then teaches the boys about conformity:

I brought [you] up here to illustrate the point of conformity: the difficulty in maintaining your own beliefs in the face of others…now, we all have a great need for acceptance. But you must trust that your beliefs are unique, your own, even though others may think them odd or unpopular, even though the herd may go, ‘That’s baaaaad.’

We see conformity all the time in business – most airlines act alike and most automated telephone systems have menu options that are confusing or lead to dead ends (I absolutely HATE this!)

Why do we feel at times the need to conform?

For the most part it’s because it’s safe and easy. We trick ourselves into believing it’s safer not to stand out and subject ourselves to the possibility of “getting it wrong.” Not to mention that it’s easy to join the crowd because it requires little thought or attention to direction – you just coast in the ruts left by others.

But following others in your own industry is like outsourcing your company’s soul. What good is the body without a soul? Stand up, be different and get noticed.

Happy Tuesday!

Another law

To every action there is an equal and opposite marketing campaign.

Being economic-downturn-proof

I went to the post office this morning and waited 10 minutes past their scheduled time to open. When they did open, the employees did not apologize or even acknowledge being late but at least they were cordial.

For those of us that do not have an economic-downturn-proof job, this would never fly. With our unstable economy, we need to focus even more so on the customer – not because it will get us through the economic hard times but because it is the right thing to do (always).

Only 20 seconds

The Deal or No Deal crew came to Utah this past weekend looking for a contestant to appear on their game show. My friend attended the event hoping for a shot – but so did 10,000 other hopefuls.

My friend told me that you each hopeful was given “only 20 seconds to tell their story.” He said those that were successful told a unique and meaningful story (most spent way too much time on the written application and not enough time on what made them stand out). If the judges liked you, you moved on to the second round where you had on 15 seconds to do your thing. After each stage you were given just a brief moment to impress the judges. My friend waited 7 hours in line and only made it to the second round.

That is a lot like the crowded marketplace we now live in. We have but a moment to impress others with out stuff. But one great difference is that in the case of the Deal or No Deal judges, it was part of their job to pay attention to you for at least a brief moment. In the real marketplace, most of us are stingy with our attention and we’re more likely to flat out ignore you than stop what we are doing and make a deal. Since the time is short, we must have a brief and compelling story to tell.

What’s your story?

Seinfeld on Marketing: Becoming Keith proof

100% Keith Proof

Happy Friday. In this episode of Seinfeld on Marketing, George is talking to Jerry about his new promotion within the New York Yankee management team:

GEORGE: Do you know where Walker Street is downtown? I’ve got a league meeting there.
JERRY: Oh right, the new job, how is it?
GEORGE: I love it. New office, new salary. I’m the new Wilhelm.
JERRY: So who’s the new you?
GEORGE: They got a new intern from Francis Louis High. His name is Keith. He comes in Mondays after school.

No one wants to feel that they are easily replaceable – especially by a “Keith.” Some of this is our own fault and some of it stems from companies who are desperately trying to revive the days of factories by producing a steady hum of mediocrity.

Whether it is insisting that customer service reps read a script, sending bulk e-mails to customers or thinking of your customers as a one-time conversion of minimal effort for money, factory-minded companies and employees will continue fall into the forgotten wastelands of the factory.

Now is the time to stand out and brand yourself and your company as being irreplaceable by doing something profound. Become Keith proof.

Have a superb weekend!

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

The spotlight is on Tsufit

Step Into The SpotlightLast week, I received my advanced copy of the book, Step Into The Spotlight by Tsufit. I didn’t know what to expect, but as I opened my copy I was immediately struck by the advanced praise she had received for her book – from Tom Peters, Jack Trout and Al Reis to David Meerman Scott. And let me tell you, the praise is well deserved. Tsufit delightfully packs what we can learn from show business (even some stuff from Jerry Seinfeld!) into a well-written book with a much appreciated relaxed tone.

A little background. Tsufit gave up her litigation lawyer job of 10 years to head for the stage as a comedian and singer. She quickly learned how to command the stage. She now works as a marketing consultant teaching others the principles of standing out and being a star that she learned while in show business.

Let me highlight just a few great quotes:

[Side Note: I know that John Moore uses Slideshare to review books. But I figure that I had bought enough of the books that he has recommended that I can steal borrow the idea. Also, hopefully Tsufit doesn’t mind me copying the book’s design to make these quotes.]

The book is officially out today, so

Shots, one-track minds and why I’m in trouble

We’ll, it happened this weekend. I didn’t want it to happen this soon, but it did so now I’m in trouble. My three-year-old son overheard some of us talking about our impending trip to Disneyland and now this is all he can talk about – “When are we going to ‘Dizy-land’?” (He can’t quite say “Disneyland” yet). “Can we go to ‘Dizy-land’ in 20 minutes?” (And he hasn’t quite mastered the concept of “time” yet either).

And so for the next few weeks, his little world will revolve around – and by transference of parenthood, our world will revolve around – “Dizy-land.”

But a three-year-old doesn’t mind staying on one topic for weeks. Case in point…DVDs. A child can watch a DVD over and over for weeks and sometimes months on end and not get bored of it. If it’s something that the child loves, they seem to be able channel the powers of a relentlessly undeviating one-track mindset that plagues many of us adults as we merely try to keep from mentally choking on our untamed undergrowth of thoughts.

If only there was a way to bottle the unbridled enthusiasm (to quote Seinfeld) of a three-year-old for something they love. If we could bottle this and inject it into our customers to inoculate them against the disease of abundant distractions, what would be in the antidote? Here’s my list:

  1. Filters – With a plethora of choice and limited time, customers need something that only lets in the pertinent and tosses aside the unwanted. This could be word of mouth, recommendations related to a customers previous purchases or even well thought out search on your website.
  2. Omnipresent – Be everywhere that your customers expect (in a good way, not a creepy stalker sort of way).
  3. Connections – Make what you have “connect” with your customers. Relevant and timely content and products go a along way.
  4. Us – It’s not a monologue, it’s a conversation. It’s their problem and your solution. You won’t look weird on the dance floor of business if you and your customers are bustin’ a move together in perfect time.
  5. Surprises – At times, under promise and over deliver. At other times, just delight them with something remarkable or profound yet not promised or expected.

This is what I call the “FOCUS shot” – it’s the best way I know of creating the most fertile ground of a one-track mind with you planted in it. Now, if only there was an antidote for three year olds! (The UN-focused shot?)

Happy Monday!