If only it were that easy…


Happy Friday!


Seinfeld on Marketing: Precedents

It’s that time again. In this week’s Seinfeld episode, Jerry is lamenting to George about Kramer’s girlfriend who heckled him during one of his stand up comedy routines:

JERRY: I should have let her have it! I held back because of Kramer.

GEORGE: You know what you ought do. You should go to her office and heckle her.

JERRY: Yeah, right.

GEORGE: You know, like all the comedians always say, ‘How would you like it if I came to where you work and heckled you?’

JERRY: Yeah, that’d be something.

GEORGE: I’m not kidding, you should do it.

JERRY: Boy, wouldn’t that be the ultimate comedian’s revenge? I’ve always had a fantasy about doing that.

GEORGE: Well, go ahead! Do it!

JERRY: Why can’t I?

GEORGE: No reason!

JERRY: You know what? I think I’m gonna do that! She came down to where I work, I’ll go down to where she works!

GEORGE: This is unprecedented!

JERRY: There’s no precedent, baby!

GEORGE: What…are you using my ‘babies’ now?

A precedent is an example, model, pattern or standard. The more revolutionary your idea, the less likely there will be a precedent in your industry. But that’s ok because precedents are safe (safely leading you to mediocre results). Precedents show the clearer trajectory of an idea – usually at best a little blooper into right field for a single. If the results cannot be quantified beforehand, some people get nervous. When it comes to revolutionary ideas, nervousness is always a better indicator of profound results than precedents ever will be.

This, of course, only applies to your own industry. Looking outside your industry I’d say you’d be crazy not to beg, borrow or steal ideas. In fact, you have officially been given a license to steal. Outside of your industry, you are like the James Bond of ideas.

What do you think?

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

Happy, happy Friday!

Two great ideas

  1. Andy Sernovitz turns the theory of the well known Express Lane at grocery stores upside down. He wonders why no grocery store has a “SuperLane” for those buying a cart full of groceries complete with “2 cashiers, 2 baggers, and a fresh cup of coffee waiting to get you on your way.” Why not reward those with full carts (instead of 10 items or less) and make the other lines speedier for everyone at the same time? Great idea!
  2. A great concert series is coming to Utah this weekend. It is called “Video Games Live” which mixes the orchestral video game arrangements with video game footage, synchronized lasers and lighting as well as live action play. It seems more like a rock concert than a symphony. Click here to watch a video. Great idea!

“Dying” to be the market leader

In some markets there is no clear-cut leader. Instead of having a market book-ended by black and white opposite approaches, the entire market is made up of the many shades of grey. This can happen when a market is still relatively young, or a market is particularly volatile or due to a lack of distribution. In these markets, how do you compete with the other shades of grey and eventually move on towards market leadership?

Let’s hop on over and take a look at the pet sitting market in my neck of the woods. In my hometown, I cannot see any leader gobbling up a majority of this market. Enter my brother and sister-in-law with their new pet sitting service, Companion Caregivers. Their pet sitting service provides at a reasonable price the love and care for pets in your own home (the pets natural environment) while you are away– but so does many of the other shades of grey in this market. But what may well move them to the top of the market is a unique service that acts as an instant “dye” to the color of their business.

While you are away from your pet and hopefully reading a good book while on some tropical beach, the nagging thought of “Is my beloved pet being treated o.k. while I am away?” may creep into your mind. Companion Caregivers has nearly reduced this fear down to zero. While you are away, they videotape your pet having a great time (like your cat chasing some string or your dog playing fetch). Then while you are still kayaking in Kenya, they e-mail you this video.

This approach is brilliant for three reasons: As I mentioned it helps to reduce the fear of how your pet is doing while you are away. It also reminds the customer of their loving service each time they watch it. Lastly (and maybe most importantly), the video acts as a natural conversation starter. We all know that pet lovers love to share anything and everything about their pets. These videos are e-mailed or sent to their video phone and shared with friends, co-workers and strangers on the bus (I mean, it really doesn’t take much for a pet lover to want to share with the world “the cutest thing that Daisy did today”). In the conversation, Companion Caregivers will naturally be brought up and word of mouth has been given a forum.

In a market full of shades of grey, go for the dye that will propel you from a shade of grey to the end of the market spectrum (market leadership). At times it doesn’t have to be big, it just has to be of value to the market. Dye. Rinse. Repeat. – it can be that easy. What can you do to “dye” your company to the top?

For better or worse

Here is my very crude mock up of what I think we’ll be seeing real soon:
(click to enlarge)

Would this be a testament to great marketing or our love for the superfluous?

Automatic car stereo clock updates

questionmark1.jpgConfession: I still have not reset my car stereo clock since day light savings in October. This particular car stereo clock is very difficult to remember the button sequence in order to change the time. I have pull out the car manual each time and try and figure it out. So basically for half the year my clock is correct and the other half of the year I just remember to subtract an hour (I know, I am lazy).

But this got me thinking. Why doesn’t a company invent a car stereo clock that automatically sets itself to the US Atomic Clock? I mean, some wristwatches and alarm clocks are automatically set to the US Atomic Clock. So why not in the clock in our cars? I hope this is only a matter of time before we start seeing this.

Taking a picture of the inside of my pocket

pocketpicture.pngNo, this isn’t the punch line of an adult-content joke. This is more of a plea to cell phone companies.

I have had a couple of different camera flip cell phone over the last year. The problem is I can’t stand to wear my cell phone on a belt clip so I just drop my phone into my pocket. I cannot tell you how many times I have bumped the camera button and taken a picture of the inside of my pocket (not too impressive during a business meeting might I add). Why can’t cell phone companies make a way to disable the camera button (and the volume button while we’re at it) when the phone is in the closed position? Maybe I just have a cheap phone.