Efficient or Effective?

Tony Hsieh of Zappos.com:

“We run our warehouses 24/7 which is actually not the most efficient way to run a warehouse, but it gets the shoes out to the customer as quickly as possible.”

Effective doesn’t necessarily mean efficient. Efficiency tries to use the momentum of the status quo, but make it faster or cheaper. Effective tries to produce an effect (a change or disruption) to the status quo to make it better.

That’s why Zappos.com runs their warehouse 24/7, Rackspace answers their telephone by a live person in one ring, and busy Seth Godin personally answers every e-mail sent to him (and in my experience, usually within a hour or two).

Are you being efficient or effective?

BTW, why do we say something is “cost effective” when what we really mean is that it’s efficient?

The status quo has feelings too!

Have you heard someone advise others to “not upset the status quo” as if it were a hormonal teenager with a zit on prom night? I have. But the thing is, the status quo has no feelings – at least no feelings for you.

So your goal today, right now, is to disrupt it, dismantle it and make the status quo beg for mercy under your unrelenting push for greatness.

Seinfeld on Marketing: Transparency


It’s been a while, so I thought its time once again for another Seinfeld on Marketing (drum roll, please). In this episode, Kramer and Newman are explaining to Jerry why they want to reverse the peepholes on their apartment doors:

KRAMER: Newman and I are reversing the peepholes on our door, so you can see in.

JERRY: But then anyone can just look in and see you.

KRAMER: Our policy is, we’re comfortable with our bodies. You know, if someone wants to help themselves to an eyeful, well, we say, “enjoy the show.”

Are you as comfortable with your company as Kramer is with his body? (Before you answer that, remember that he also prepared food in his shower while he bathed and posed in his underwear for Calvin Klein).

Is there a “show” going on at your company that others would like to have a peek inside? I’m not talking about something staged that once you yell, “cut” you get back to your real life. I’m talking about having something interesting to say beyond your ability to spew corporate gobbledygook. I’m talking about being human. It worked for Microsoft and Scoble. It works for Tony Hsieh at Zappos.com.

So what can you do? Here are 3 things to remember about being transparent:

  1. Let go. You really don’t own your brand – it lives in the expectations of your customers. Sure you can shape it and guide it a little as you ride “shotgun” while your customers drive the brand. But you don’t own your brand and your really don’t own what’s behind the curtain either. So give your customers access to whatever is behind the curtain. It’s time you start letting go like 10-year old girls at a sleep over instead of your first encounter with the in-laws.
  2. Give more. There are many ways we try to hold customers at bay – those crappy calling menu systems, confusing corporate double speak and binders full of corporate polices that even outweigh your Uncle Stan after a long night of fried chicken, Cheetos and TV. Stop holding back and give more. More laughs, more quirkiness, more truth, more deep questions and more care.
  3. It’s not you, it’s me. There’s only one person who cares about your product – you. Your customers don’t care about what you have made. So, in words of Tom Asacker, “what matters is how you make people feel about themselves and their decisions in your presence.” So how can making yourself more transparent make others feel better about themselves? It’s simple. Humans crave contact and interactions with other humans, not things. Things are just pathways to more interactions. Open, human-to-human contact accelerates feelings and shapes a more solid connection beyond the product or service.

So there you have it. Now it’s your turn. Come on, give us a peek inside. There has never been a more robust collection of social media tools designed for transparency than there are today.

Happy Friday!

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

[Photo credit: Ben Seese]

Asking the wrong questions

Why do some companies seem to be able to catapult their thinking and are fully engaged with their customers while other companies blissfully churn out more of the same mediocre stuff? I think in many ways it comes down to asking the right questions.

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve heard many questions asked in company meetings. For instance, I’ve heard a midsized company ask, “Where should we place our ads?” This question is fine but will continue their ho-hum results. Instead, they should be asking themselves, “How can become irreplaceable?”

I heard another company, when referring to their products, ask, “How do we not offend anyone?” They thought that carefully shaping their product in such a way as to include every possible consumer would get them a bigger piece of the pie when in reality they were baking a pie that no one wanted. What they should have asked themselves is, “How do we fend off anyone who doesn’t belong?”

Asking the right questions boils down to motivation – do we really want to face the truth and continually improve and innovate or is the name of the game to simply pad our comfortable habits and not make any waves that may possibly get us in trouble? (It’s the “blue pill”, “red pill” mentality from the Matrix).

So, if you’re asking a question, make sure it’s the right one. By the way, here’s some more good stuff about questions.