Do some good

seinfeld_christmas_spirit1

Okay, just this once you have my permission to ignore Jerry. Now go out there and do some good. Merry Christmas one and all!

Happy Festivus!

Here’s a little something I whipped up for Festivus. Happy Festivus 2008!

happy-festivus

Festivus on Marketing (Part 3): Feats of Strength

pug-nacho-libre

This is Part 3 of a small series called Festivus on Marketing (ending tomorrow of course!). You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

A couple of days ago we talked about the Festivus ritual of “Airing of Grievances.” Today we’ll talk about another ritual called “Feats of Strength.” Festivus tradition states that Festivus is not over until the head of the household is pinned in some sort of a wrestling match. As Frank Costanza is undoubtedly v-e-r-y strong, the almost insurmountable feat of pinning him must have taken a great deal of strength, courage and stamina.

But in business it’s great to know that in order to win the hearts of your customers, it usually takes a far less grandiose deed. Instead, it’s usually some small acts of humanness that we remember.

Zappos surprised someone who lost a loved one with flowers. DoubleTree delights arriving hotels guests with freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. Southwest Airlines spreads fun and humanness with their standup flight instruction that resemble comedy routines.

Surprise. Delight. Humanness. Repeat. Try it out – it really works!

By the way, a B-I-G thanks goes out to the refrigerator repairmen who not only fixed our refrigerator but also went out of their way to fix our garage door that had just broke. Pure awesomeness.

Have a very Merry Festivus Eve everyone!

[Photo Credit: M-J Milloy]

Festivus on Marketing (Part 2): Airing of Grievances

Airing of Grievances

This is Part 2 of a small series called Festivus on Marketing (ending on December 23rd, of course!). You can read Part 1 here.

Festivus is a holiday that Frank Costanza of the TV show Seinfeld created because he “hated all the commercial and religious aspects of Christmas, so he made up his own holiday.”

One of Festivus’ (say that 3 times fast) main events is called “Airing of Grievances.” It takes place during the traditional Festivus dinner and is a time to “gather your family around, and tell them all the ways they have disappointed you over the past year.”

So what do you do if a customer wants you to know all they ways you have disappointed her over the past year? Here’s some advice on dealing with angry customers:

  1. Listen. You might gain some valuable insights if can you quiet these automatic “yabut” rebuttals formulating loudly in your head and give your full, undivided attention to your customer.
  2. Say “thank you.” Sincerely thank the customer for giving you the feedback.
  3. Apologize and show empathy. Nothing diffuses a laundry list of grievances like an apology and a small dose of empathy. Be quick to apologize that your service did not meet their expectations.
  4. Follow up. Many complaints helpful suggestions seem as if they won’t make it past the first layer of bureaucracy at the customer service counter. Tell the upset customer what you are going to do to resolve the issue and when they will hear back from you.

What else would you say helps to calm a customer with a list of grievances? Has anything worked for you?

Just 3 days until Festivus. I can feel it in the air!

[Photo Credit: gerardniemira]

Festivus on Marketing (Part 1): Something for the rest of us

Instead of my usual Seinfeld on Marketing, I decided to dedicate the next few days to a series called Festivus on Marketing (ending on December 23rd, of course!)

For the few of you out there who are not familiar with Festivus, it is a holiday that “prolific” Frank Costanza of the TV show Seinfeld created because he “hated all the commercial and religious aspects of Christmas, so he made up his own holiday.”

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Here’s how Festivus was born:

FRANK: Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached 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!”

Frank Costanza unknowingly created a small tribe of people who wanted something different by catering to “the rest of us.” And that is how most remarkable things are born.

In 1998, most of us were fine with the directory style of Yahoo! Then along came Google for the rest of us who wanted another way of “returning extremely relevant results” on the web. In 1971, most of us were fine with our flight travel. Then along came Southwest Airlines for the rest of us who wanted a “different kind of airline.”

The trouble occurs when we try to market to the most of us and concern ourselves with getting the most eyeballs or the most traffic to our website or store. When in reality it’s not about getting the most as it is about getting the few – “the rest of us” – who are passionate about what you have to offer.

Seek out “the rest of us” – we’re waiting for you!

Happy Friday!

Photo Credit: axelsrose

Forget your competition

Tough economic times can have us scrambling around trying this or that. Sometimes, companies will look to their marketplace for direction. But in business, focusing on the competition is way over used and very stupid.

Here’s how it oftentimes plays out. One toy store lowers its prices and so the other toy stores respond in like manner. Or one customer service center outsources its calls to cut costs so others do the same. Of course, this behavior is not limited to toy stores and customer service centers– we see it in almost every market from online retailers to gas stations.

But this is plain stupid. Why? Because we stop focusing on our customers and we focus on our competition.

And when we stop focusing on our customers and start focusing on the competition, we tend to gravitate toward price. Why is that? Seth Godin said it best when he said, “cheaper is the last refuge of the person who’s not a very good marketer.” Cheaper means you are out of ideas. You have nothing else to offer the customer so you turn your focus off of them and instead focus on the lowest common market denominator of price.

But what I have learned is that customers most often only concern themselves with a cheaper price if you have completely drained the pool of value. Add more value before you mess around with price (especially in these economic times).

Being aware of your competition is one thing but focusing on them is death by customer neglect.

Happy Wednesday all!

Are we still not getting it?

Here is a pic of a new billboard I snapped on my way home from work:

dodge_billboard

All I can say is “Yea, it swallowed it by first guzzling down a bunch of gas.”

Am I missing something here or do the Big 3 auto makers still not get it? Is this the messaging that we should be using at a time like this? What am I missing?