Seinfeld on Marketing: Marketing earworms

Fridays and Seinfeld can only mean one thing: Seinfeld on Marketing! Let’s dive right in, shall we? In this episode, George is talking to Jerry about his dating philosophy:

GEORGE: I got a date with the sales woman. She’s got a little Marisa Tomei thing going on.

JERRY: Ah, too bad you got a little George Costanza thing going on.

GEORGE: I’m going out with her tomorrow, she said she had some errands to run.

JERRY: That’s a date?

GEORGE: What’s the difference? You know they way I work. I’m like a commercial jingle. First it’s a little irritating, then you hear

it a few times, you hum it in the shower, by the third date it’s “By Mennen!”.

Earworms. Yup. That’s what they call those annoying songs and jingles that get stuck in your head faster than a two-year-old in a playland full of plastic balls. And they’re very hard to dislodge from the brain. In fact, I challenge any man, women or child on the face of this God-given green earth of ours to try and not hum or sing that blasted It’s A Small World After All song after getting off that ride in Disneyland. Go on. Try it. It can’t be done. And believe me, I’ve tried. And why is that?

According to research conducted by University of Cincinnati professor James Kellaris songs that are simple, repetitive, and contain some incongruity (have an unexpected twist) are most likely to become stuck.

So here’s what I learned. The Village People may not have been village idiots after all. I mean, take their Y.M.C.A. song. It’s an earworm, big time. The chorus is simple, it’s certainly repetitive and it contains some incongruity (I mean, who knew that a Native American Chief, a biker and a military man could make music?).

Simplicity. Repetition. Incongruity. All very powerful tools. But before you go out and try and make marketing earworms, let me caution you with this. Sure earworms are powerful, but if they are not backed up by relevance and meaning, what you’ve got is nothing more than a marshmallow Peep – it taste good at the time but provides no lasting benefit or significance. In fact, what I wrote about in my Seinfeld on Marketing ebook is that if your customer experience is faulty and then you try to increase your exposure, you can actually propel your business into inexistence faster. The formula goes:

bad customer experience + increased exposure = accelerated extinction

So make sure you have what others really want. In fact, do me a huge favor and read Tom Asacker’s post about repetition and creating memories.

[Side Note: If you now have It’s A Small World After All or Y.M.C.A. stuck in your head, you can thank me later!]

Happy Friday y’all!

This post is part of an ongoing series, Seinfeld on Marketing.

Seinfeld on Marketing: Make ‘em feel it


It’s time once again for another stirring rendition of Seinfeld on Marketing. In this episode, Kramer is talking to Jerry about helping out a local hospital by pretending he has a diseases and allowing the medical students to practice diagnosing it. But when Kramer is given the chance to act out the symptoms of gonorrhea, he feels slighted. He feels that gonorrhea is only “a little burn” and does not show his true range as an actor. In this scene, Jerry is talking to Kramer about how he can still make his small acting part work:

KRAMER: See, showmanship. Maybe that’s what my gonorrhea is missing.

JERRY: Yes! Step into that spotlight and belt that gonorrhea out to the back row.

KRAMER: Yes, yes I will! I’m gonna make people feel my gonorrhea, and feel the gonorrhea themselves.

All things being equal, STD’s are a hard sell. Maybe you have something equally hard to sell – pimple cream or the Snuggie (it’s just a backwards robe, people). Or maybe you are trying to sell an idea – like convincing your boss that investing in SEO would benefit the company or encouraging a tribe to rallying around your idea.

Whatever you are selling, make others feel your idea, and feel it themselves. In essence, we all want to feel – to feel a connection to something that helps them to grow, to learn, to aspire, to understand and to make their world better. JFK was good at making others feel a connection and so is Steve Jobs.

So the next time you give a presentation, write an ebook or present your product to a prospective customer don’t forget to inject feeling into what you do and belt it out to the back row!

This post is part of an ongoing series, Seinfeld on Marketing.

Photo credit: simplybecka

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

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]

Happy Festivus!

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


Festivus on Marketing (Part 3): Feats of Strength


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.”


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

Seinfeld on Marketing: the road less traveled

Seinfeld Road Less Traveled

Jerry is right, of course, but not for the reasons we tend to tell ourselves. Most of time we lie to ourselves about our actions (or non-actions) because we desperately want to believe that the road is less traveled because it if were the right road, more people would have taken it. We end up justifying ourselves into a false state of security.

No. The real reason that many roads are less traveled is because they cause an unrelenting pit in our stomachs which irritates our quest for stability. These roads are uncomfortable, often times filled with uncertainty.

But to go places we have never been, we must venture down less traveled roads. Don’t worry, it will be okay. Along the way pause from time to time to remind yourself that everything will be alright. It will, I promise.

Take the road less traveled.

Happy Friday!

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

Seinfeld on Marketing: Limitations and working backwards

It’s time for another weekly installment of Seinfeld on Marketing. In this episode, Kramer is talking to Jerry:

KRAMER: [Reading the newspaper] Look at this. They are redoing the Cloud Club.

JERRY: Oh, that restaurant on top of the Chrysler building? Yeah, that’s a good idea.

KRAMER: Of course it’s a good idea – it’s my idea. I conceived this whole project two years ago.

JERRY: Which part? The renovating the restaurant you don’t own part or spending the two hundred million you don’t have part?

KRAMER: You see I come up with these things, I know they’re gold, but nothing happens. You know why?

JERRY: No resources, no skill, no talent, no ability, no brains…

KRAMER: (interrupting) No, no time! It’s all this meaningless time. Laundry, grocery, shopping, coming in here talking to you. Do you have any idea how much time I waste in this apartment?

JERRY: I can ball park it.

Kramer, dawning his newfound perspective, once again thought he had a great idea – stopping maritime oils spills with the creation of an oil bladder system for oil tankers. But despite Kramer’s best efforts and even recruiting an intern from NYU to help work on his bladder system, Kramer’s plan fails due to limited “resources.”

In a very small way, we all have a little Kramer in us – you have great ideas but not enough resources to fully develop that killer app, get past using a template for your marketing plan, gain the optimal experience for that perfect job or move your project beyond a mere idea. Don’t worry — there is help.

One of the best ways to gain productivity and maximize your limited resources is to work backwards on your project. Imagine for a moment that you have unlimited time, money, talent or any other resource that you think that is holding your back. Now think back to your project. With these unlimited resources on your side, imagine the ideal outcome for your project. Create a vivid, mental image of the best-case scenario.

Now, work backwards. Think of the final step needed just prior to realizing the final, optimized outcome. Now, think of the step prior to this step. Keep going until you have the project broken out into smaller, bite-sized steps. Don’t worry at this point if things seem unrealistic or unpractical. The idea is to remove project paralysis due to our own limits. If you think big, your outcome will be 10 times better (or more) than if you start your project the traditional way, from the beginning and along the way tossing in all the reasons why it won’t work.

Go on, give it a try!

Happy Friday everyone.

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

Seinfeld & Gates Microsoft Ad #2

Okay, so I may not have been the biggest fan of the first ad (it was kind of like the first few seasons of Seinfeld – it was alright).

However, this second ad (more like a webisode at 4:30 minutes) is much better in terms of the entertainment value. I’m still a little confused on how it builds brand loyalty, but maybe it’s just a slow build. Here’s how I’d rate it:

Entertainment Value:
starstarstarhalf_star (3.5 / 5 stars)
Brand Builiding:
starhalf_star (1.5 / 5 stars)

If you have not seen it yet, take a look and tell me what you think:

Let’s hope they get even better! Until next time.