Seinfeld on Marketing: Death by little kicks

While most sitcoms are in re-runs, it’s full steam ahead here with another fresh Seinfeld on Marketing (woot!). In this classic episode, Elaine is trying to loosen everyone up at her company party with a little dancing:

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George appropriately described Elaine’s dancing as “a full body dry heave set to music.” Sadly, Elaine was oblivious to how bad her dancing really was and how it ultimately caused her to lose the respect of her staff.

Do we ever do things in business equivalent to Elaine’s little kicks that cause us to lose respect or trust from our staff and customers? I think we do.

Little kicks are irrelevant/non-personal e-mails, not keeping our promises or falling short of being as authentic as we can. Its time we open up, return our phone calls, trust more, take less, over-deliver, provide genuine experiences and give back just to make the world a better place.

Stop the little kicks and become lord of the dance!

Its your turn: What little kicks can you think of that destroy customer and staff respect?

Have an Uber-terrific Friday everyone!

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

Enough said

Business is not synonymous with busyness

The thought of modern business often conjures up images of multi-tasking on our Blackberry with a client while instant messaging your co-worker and working through lunch to make up for lost time from the last meeting that “went long.”

But life (even our business life) must not only be a series of flashes of activity from one moment to the next.

Slow down. Soak it all in. Act like a human being not a “human doing.”

Happy Wednesday!

Seinfeld on Marketing: Being Jay Leno’s chin

Dream CafeIn this episode of Seinfeld on Marketing, Jerry and Elaine are discussing why no one is visiting the newly opened “Dream Café” across from Jerry’s apartment:

JERRY: He’s serving Mexican, Italian, Chinese. He’s all over the place. That’s why no one is going in.

ELAINE: Why do you keep watching?

JERRY: I don’t know. I’m obsessed with it. It’s like a spider in the toilet struggling for survival. And even if you know it’s not going to make it, you kind of root for it for a while.

ELAINE: And then you flush.

JERRY: Well, it’s a spider.

Later on in this episode Babu Bhatt (the restaurant owner) calls Jerry a “very bad man.” In reality, it is Babu who is a very bad marketer. Switching from Mexican to Italian to Chinese will only confuse would be loyal diners.

Instead, think of the role of marketing as making it very easy for your customers to describe your company to a sketch artist. If they cannot easily describe what you do, you can kiss Word of Mouth and any remarkableness goodbye. Imagine this scene where someone is have to describe your business:

“They sell stuff that isn’t expensive but it isn’t cheap either. They run ads saying they ‘care about my business’, but their employees act as if I am bothering them if I ask a simple question. Their building is mostly clean and their products are dutifully displayed, but nothing really ever catches me eye.”

If the above describes your company, you’ll never get caught and accused of being remarkable. What you need is something that stands out.

Dr. Richard Kimble caught his wife’s killer because he was looking for the one-armed man. Dizzy Gillespie’s cheeks made him instantly recognizable. And Jay Leno’s chin has done well for himself. All of these characteristics are simple to explain and very unique.

When it comes to marketing, be Jay Leno’s chin and stick stand out.

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

2 ways to over deliver on your promises

Over delivering on your promises to your customers can be a very powerful thing. As I see it, there are two ways to over deliver:

  1. Exceed current expectations. The near billion dollar online shoe retailer usually surprises customers by upgrading it’s free, four-day shipping to next-day shipping. Free, four day shipping ain’t bad. But Zappos goes out of it’s way to exceed expectations and delight it’s customers.
  2. Lower current expectations. My ISP seems to have a perpetual problem. According to their automated phone system, they have been experiencing an “usually high volume of calls” for some time now. When you finally talk with someone after 15 minutes of waiting, you feel lucky. Their opportunity to over deliver comes by lowering current expectations and rising up to meet mediocrity.

It’s your choice, but if I were you I’d stick with the first option.

Happy Thursday!

Turning off the consumer side of your brain

Why is it when it comes time to think of marketing gimmicks strategies we end up turning off the consumer side of our brains?

Remember the last time you received an unsolicited e-mail? Do you read it? When was the last time you responded? – Exactly. So why will it magically work for you now?

Do you remember the companies that aired commercials just last night during your TV show? How about the Grand Daddy for all commercials- The Super Bowl. Do you remember any commercials from specific companies that aired during the Super Bowl? Did you buy anything because of the ad? – Exactly. So why will it magically work for you now?

Do you remember the company that last cold-called you? When was the last time you bought something from someone just because they called you first? – Exactly. So why will it magically work for you now?

If your going to turn off your own consumer side of your brain when thinking about your marketing efforts, at least be realistic with the results you’re likely achieve.

Happy Wednesday!


I know my last rant about the post office hasn’t even had time to congeal yet, but I felt compelled to share (again).

During the last few months, I’ve had many misdeliveries from the post office – we keep getting other people’s mail, an out-of-town neighbor of ours received one of our paychecks and someone in the next city over received my Jerry Seinfeld tickets (yes, I’m going to see him June 27th ! Woot!).

So my wife called the post office the other day to let them know that things were slipping. Finally, she got through the perpetually busy line (other complainers?) and spoke with a very nice lady. The lady took down the following information on this card:

(click to enlarge)

They have our name wrong (it’s “Gammell” not “Gamneoo”) but somehow I remain optimistic – maybe it’s just my sentimental side remembering the good ol’ days of Chuck, the mail carrier of my youth.

But now I get the impression that the post office tries but lacks the motivation and pride of yesteryear (I just wanted to use that word). I hope things change for the better. But how do you overcome slippage?

When things start to slip, here are five quick things you can do:

  1. Talk to your customers. They know when things have slipped and they usually know how to fix them.
  2. Talk to your front line employees. They talk to these same customers all day long.
  3. Make your “core purpose for existing” more concrete and livable. If things have slipped, it could be your core purpose is too vague, unrealistic or unmotivating.
  4. Check for poison. Perhaps some unmotivated employee recently sneaked into your company and polluted the office vibe.
  5. What’s your policy count? Are you addicted to company policies? Do you have policies that exist solely to clarify other policies? Do you use your policies as a shield from the inconvenience of providing profound customer service?

I’m sure there are other ideas, so help me out here. What else can you think of to overcome slippage?

By the way, if you are wondering how I ever got my hands on the card pictured above…it was delivered to us.

Happy Monday!

Seinfeld on Marketing: A call for quality

And we’re back (sorry for the delay in posts). In this episode of Seinfeld on Marketing, George bought a new (used) car:

JERRY: Hey! Did you get the Volvo?

GEORGE: No, I decided to go with an ’89 LeBaron.

ELAINE: A LeBaron?

JERRY: I thought Consumer said Volvo was the car.

GEORGE: What Consumer? I’m the consumer.

JERRY: Alright. Seems like…a strange choice.

GEORGE: Well, maybe so…but it was good enough for Mr. Jon Voight.

ELAINE: Jon Voight? The actor?

GEORGE (Boasting): That’s right. He just happened to be the previous owner of the vehicle.

JERRY: You bought a car because it belonged to Jon Voight?

GEORGE (Defensive): No, no…

JERRY: I think yes, yes. You like the idea of telling people you’re driving Jon Voight’s car.

GEORGE: Alright, maybe I do. So what.

Okay, so maybe George only bought his Chrysler because he thought someone famous previously owned it and not for the “cool factor” of the LeBaron. But Chrysler is trying to change this.

Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli (of Home Depot fame), is now mandating Chrysler’s 300 top executives call one recent purchaser each day to ask them if they are having any problems and to resolve any issues.

I love the idea of calling your customers and talking to them (how novel!) I am, however, concerned with one quote in the article. Doug Betts, Chrysler’s Vice President and Chief Customer Officer was quoted as saying, “the No. 1 influence in buying a car isn’t having Consumer Reports recommend it, it’s having a friend or family member recommend the car because they had a good experience with it.”

My problem is not with this statement (I believe it to be true). But I’m worried that Chrysler will confuse having “no problems” with your car and increasing your likelihood to talk to your friends about your new Chrysler.

A pop quiz: Quick, tell me what you had for dinner last Tuesday night? Odds are you can’t remember but I’m sure it was something that satisfied your hunger.

Chrysler’s current process only follow this same satisfaction model:

But is that really enough?

If I were to ask you about the last meal that you craved, I bet you could tell me every detail down to the last tender morsel of the pork loin or the rich and creamy sauce over your asparagus.

Chrysler should have it:
Crave Model

Question: Are you making something people crave or are you simply satisfying their hunger?

Happy Friday everyone!

[Side note: Can you believe that this week is the 10th anniversary of the last episode of Seinfeld (May 14th, 1998)?]

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

In case you ever need it

Fresh from my trip to Disneyland, these helpful hand washing tips from Brawny (sorry for the poor quality photo):

  1. Wet hands and apply soap.
  2. Scrub hands and rinse.
  3. Dry hands thoroughly using paper towels.

I always mix up the order, so thanks Brawny! I had to take a picture just in case I’m ever at a public restroom outside of Disneyland and I need a crash course in hand washing.

Happy Monday!