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Coke's Pursuit of Happiness

It was recently announced that Coca-Cola is embarking on the Expedition 206 campaign. In this Images-1 pretty impressive initiative, the company is going to select a few Coke sponsored "Happiness Ambassadors" who will travel throughout the world, visiting the 206 countries in which Coca Cola products are sold. These ambassadors are looking to find examples of happiness in each country, and will communicate their findings through various social media platforms.

Which reminds me of the fact that there are not a whole lot of new ideas, just old ideas newly packaged. 

Here is one of the most famous Coke commercials ever. This aired on televison in 1971, as the war in Vietnam was raging. At the time, the world was seeking some happiness, some peace. Coke took it upon themselves to be Ambassadors of Happiness even then. The result was a commercial that was exteremly well received by the American public.

An idea that worked in 1971, still looks like it might be a good idea 31 years later. Good ideas seldom die, they simply get repackaged. 

Enjoy the video.

Ideas are Like Goldfish

Today I'd like to discuss a concept, the basis of which I'm "borrowing" from a company with whom I've done some work. I'm going to hold off naming the company, because I don't have their permission. To be fair, I have expanded the concept to be a bit more of my own, but I admit that the genesis of the idea was started elsewhere.

I suggest that we treat ideas the same way in which we treat goldfish.

ImagesWhen we first bring home a bag of goldfish, they all look the same, they all seem healthy, we put them in a bowl together, and while we might like one over another, we really play no favorites. They are just goldfish.

The same is true of our ideas. When we first have an idea, it seems like a great one, right? And if we have a bunch of ideas, they all seem fantastic. We might like some more than others, but at the start, they are all ideas swimming around in our head.

Even after feeding the goldfish on a daily basis, when a few days pass, some of the goldfish seem to be livelier than others. They swim faster, dart back and forth, seem more exciting. The other goldfish start to seem lethargic.

The same is true of our ideas. Some of the ideas, after a few days of nurturing and feeding, seem like they are going to jump right out of our head, onto the whiteboard, and take off. And other ideas that seemed so vibrant just a few days ago, now seem a bit tired, a bit stale.

Finally, you wake up one morning, you look into your fishbowl, and a couple of the goldfish are swimming upside down. DEAD! No matter how much you fed them, talked to them, tapped on the glass, they still died. They are lifeless. And what do you do? You don't hang on to them; you simply flush them down the toilet. You can always buy more goldfish.

This holds true for our ideas as well. Some ideas, no matter how great they seemed when they started out in our minds, simply float upside down, lifeless. Ideas die; it is a fact of life we have to accept. We shouldn't hang on to ideas that have no life. We can't get emotionally attached to ideas that have passed, simply because they were our ideas.

We simply need to flush the lifeless ideas down the toilet. 

Like goldfish, there are always going to be new ideas. Keep the fish food handy. Feed the ideas.

Egg Beater Penalty

Yesterday morning I stopped at a local restaurant for a quick breakfast. My order was simple. I requested scrambled eggs with mushrooms, made with Egg Beaters, and a cup of coffee.

I did not take the 2 pieces of toast that normally come with the eggs.

I did not take the hash brown potatoes that normally come with the eggs.

No toast, so I did not use any of the butter on the table.

No toast, so I did not use any of the jelly on the table.

No hash browns, so I did not use the ketchup that was on the table.

I drink my coffee black, so I used no sugar, and no cream.

Images-1I received the check, and noticed that I was charged $1.00 extra because I had requested Egg Beaters instead of eggs. I saved the restaurant money on the 2 pieces of bread, the hash browns, the butter, the jelly, the ketchup, the sugar and the cream. But they are going to charge me $1.00 for the Egg Beaters.

Imagine, they have made me angry enough to consider never again returning to their establishment, and all this for an extra $1.00 in the cash register. My issue isn't with the dollar, but with the mindset behind it. Can someone explain how this makes any sense? How does this build loyalty with a customer? Why do businesses have such a difficult time understand what customers want, and expect?

Are you charging any of your customers an "Egg Beater surcharge"? If yes, think about not keeping the surcharge, but instead keeping the customer.

What's Love Got to do With it?

What does it take to be successful in business?

In 2008, there were 122,700 new products launched in the US, and only 3.2% of these products Images reached $1 million in revenues within their first year.

In 2009, over 8500 retail stores have closed in the US, and some analysts feel that we might hit 10,000 before the year is out.

So what is it? What do companies need to do to be successful? How do the companies and the brands that thrive differ from those that simply survive?

They have passion

They have clear vision.

They are customer centric.

They respect their employees, and their suppliers.

They create LOVE, both for their products & for their company.

And most importantly, they look for ways to connect (really connect) with all of the people with whom they come in contact. They entertain, they delight, they share, they tell stories; in short they create an emotional bond with the product and the company, and they do this every minute, of every day, 365 days per year.

Think about this as you execute your strategies. Are you sharing the LOVE?

Here is a great example of "surprising and delighting" customers; this occurred at a supermarket in Queens, NY (first shared with me by one of our team members, Kasey Klippstein (@kaseyklip). As you watch the video, keep an eye on the faces of the customers, and watch their emotions. How many customers do you think went home thinking that they "love that store"? Then think about how this might work for your company.

Charmin Wants to Know How We Go

In this world of Web 2.5 marketing, companies are using social media as a way of connecting with their customers, while at the same time creating a transparent dialog between the brand and its users.

But don't you think Procter & Gamble and their Charmin brand might be going just a little bit too far?

For the past few years during the holiday season, Charmin has created a pop-up store in Time Square where they have installed public bathrooms for shoppers to use, and of course these bathrooms are stocked with different varieties of Charmin products.

IStock_000004561591SmallThis year, at Charmin's site Enjoythego.com, Charmin has a Help Wanted ad looking for "5 bloggers who enjoy going to the bathroom". Seriously. They further point our that these bloggers will be responsible for greeting guests, entertaining them (again, seriously), and then blogging about the experience. For those lucky few who are chosen, they will be paid $10,000 for 6 weeks work. I kid you not.

I can see why the bloggers will do it. To make $10,000 to stand in a bathroom for 6 weeks, not a bad gig. But the whole purpose of this Charmin bathroom concept is to connect with consumers, and raise the awareness of the Charmin brand. Will having bloggers on hand really accomplish this? I see the consumer experience happening something like this:

Shopper: Hi! Is there a stall open, I really have to go.

Charmin Ambassador: Welcome! We are so happy you are here. My name is Chad, and I'm here to greet you. What level of softness would you like to try.

S: Chad, it doesn't matter, man. I really have to go, and I mean like now.

CA: Okay, but before I get you a stall, I'm also here to entertain you. Did you hear the one about the rabbi, the priest, and the buddhist monk who all walked into a men's room together?

S: Dude, are you out of your mind? I just ate at one of the gyros carts on West 57th, and it is not sitting well with me. If I don't go now, I'm going to explode. Literally! Help me out, Chad.

CA: Okay, follow me. And I'll wait by the door so I can ask you a few questions when you are done.

S: Whatever...

(11 minutes later, shopper exits stall)

CA: Wow, you must have really "Enjoyed the Go". Can you tell me about it?

S: What the heck are you talking about. I had to go really bad, and I went. What else do you want to know, and why are you asking?

CA: Well, I am being paid $10,000 by Procter & Gamble to write about your "going" experience, so can you tell me, while you were in there for 11 minutes, did you  a) read a book,  b) read stuff on your iPhone,  c) read nothing and just think or  d) pass out on the floor?

S: You're strange Chad. Leave me alone. Next time I'll just duck into a Sbarro and use their bathroom. It's dirtier, but no one will hang outside the door asking me dumb questions. AND DON'T WRITE ABOUT MY GO!

I don't know about you, but I think this is a really bad experiential marketing idea. I'm not sure what the bloggers are going to write about that will make us want to purchase more Charmin. And how much do we want to be entertained when we simply have to go to the bathroom?

But here is the really fun news. It just so happens, I am going to be in New York during this period, and I think I might just test the concept to see how it works. But before I do, I'm thinking of a great big meal of Indian food with a lot of asparagus. That will give the bloggers something to write about, and help them really earn their $10,000.

Can Social Media Replace Face to Face?

Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit with a company with whom I have been working for the past ten years. Over those years, I’ve had a number of various decision makers become my point of contact, and as happens in business, I had to build a relationship with each one of them as I looked to maintain the business with the company.

As time passed, my business with this company started to dissipate. It wasn’t that we were doing anything wrong, but different people have different relationships with other vendors, and slowly some of the business that we had previously established started to go to others.

Images-1Which leads me to the meeting that I had yesterday. I had heard that the new executive in place, who had never previously met me, was going to end their business relationship with our company. I had requested a meeting, and was given one reluctantly, and then thought about what it was that I wanted to convey in the meeting.

Most people would plan to defend their business. The tendency would be to explain why our company is better, why we have more experience, better knowledge, better value for the investment, etc.

I chose to take a totally different approach. I simply thanked this new point of contact for the opportunity to do business with her company for the past 10 years. I explained it was an honor to do business with them, and that if she felt she wanted to move her company’s business to someone else, I would do all that I can to help make it a smooth transition. I did explain what we had to offer, but also explained how I respected our competition, and the ultimate decision needed to be hers.

She looked up from her desk to make eye contact, thanked me for understanding, and then proceeded to suggest that we should work together to see how we might be able to maintain the business relationship just a bit longer. She suggested making a change after 10 years did not seem to make sense, unless it was absolutely necessary.

With all of the ways that we are able to connect these days, through social media, websites, emails, portable devices, sometimes the best marketing still happens face-to-face, is based on honesty and trust, and is the epitome of emotional branding. 

Always Room for a Great New Product

Last night I went to the supermarket, and while there, decided to purchase some apples.

I have to tell you, I'm an apple guy; I eat 2-3 per day. They have to be crispy, they can't have any bruises, and they have to be chilled. I admit it; I'm particular about my apples. While I was shopping for my apples, it got me thinking about what has happened in the world of apples.

When I was growing up, our choice of apples was somewhat limited. We had:

Red Delicious

Golden Delicious

Jonathan

McIntosh

That was pretty much it. Once in awhile some rogue apple might have entered the mix, but we pretty much were limited to the those four choices.

Now, the choice of apples is staggering. In addition to the apples listed above, most produce departments also feature, to name a few:

Braeburn

Cameo

Fuji

Gala

Granny Smith

Honeycrisp (the new "it" apple)

Which leads me to ask this question. Where did all of these apples come from? How much variety do we need? Don't get me wrong, I love all of these apples, but I find it kind of amazing that we have all these new apples from which to choose.

ImagesThis also came to mind. When you think that the category in which you compete has every possible product one can think of, and everyone is telling you that there is no room for any new variations on the products because it has all been done before, think of the growth of apple choices we now have. It's mind-boggling that the Honeycrispapple, which did not debut until the mid '90's, will be in the top 5 apple varieties this year based on sales.

Considering the fact that the apple has been with us since Adam & Eve, which is a really long time, amazing that the apple growers are still able tochange the product enough, after all this time, to still feel comfortable in saying New & Improved. 


Developing Great Value

Many people (brand owners) believe that the value of a product or service is what other people (customers) are willing to pay for it.

I think this is incorrect.

ImagesIn my opinion, the true value of the product or service is what YOU think it is worth. If you truly believe that what you have to sell is worth more than others believe it to be worth, don't hesitate to ask for YOUR price. The minute you are willing to devalue your product or service, the rest of society will devalue it as well.

Think about this when you are selling your product, and being pushed for discounts.

Think about this when you are asked to provide some "free" advice, but your living comes from providing "paid" advice.

Think about this when you read that Walmart is telling readers that bestselling books, which used to cost $25.00, now are only going to cost $9.00.

Think about this when most content on the Internet is given away free, but a select group of sites charge subscriptions.

Think about this when you are looking for employment, and the hiring is slim, and your skills dictate that you should earn more money than the company might be offering. Be careful about devaluing your worth.

I think the value of our product, our service, ourselves is what WE believe it to be, not what they tell us it is. And if we believe it in our hearts, in our souls, in our minds, we will convince others of our value as well.

I don't think it is a good idea to allow others to set our value, whether we are selling a product, a service, or ourselves.

Why Your Social Media Strategy is Like a Party

Many companies build their social media sites, and then wonder why they are not gaining fans, friends, and followers. Unlike in the movie Field of Dreams, if you build it, they will not necessarily come. It takes more than divine intervention.

With that in mind, here are some suggestions as to how to grow your social media strategy, and help it work better for you.

Invite People: You won’t have a great party if you don’t send out the invitations. Think of your social media strategy like a party, and to have a great party, you have to ask people to come, and make sure that they are the people that you really want to have at your event.

ImagesThe Invitation: Make it exciting. You can’t simply invite people, and think that they will jump at the chance to “socialize”. It is important to provide them with a reason to join you and join others. Think about what the invitation is suggesting, and how you are communicating what they will get out of socializing with you and your other guests.

What Type of People Will You Invite: You don’t necessarily want to be friends with everyone.  Sometimes you will invite people who share similar interests. Sometimes you invite people who might have a totally different point of view. This will make for a better party, and makes for a better conversation on-line. You want to have nutritious people at your party, not junk food people. Nutritious people provide sustenance.

The Venue: It has to look good. You wouldn’t expect people to love your party if the place was a mess, and was not decorated nicely. The same is true for your Facebook Business page, your blog, and your Twitter background. It should look nice. It should look “visitor” ready. The more inviting the venue, the more people will enjoy themselves, and invite others to join them.

The Conversation: Make it stimulating. You certainly wouldn’t want to have a party where the only thing that is discussed is how your own child Bobby did in school. The same is true for your social networking sites. Don’t only talk about yourself, or your product. Talk about your guests. Ask them questions about themselves, and their interests. Be interested in their lives.

Serve Good Things: Provide great tidbits of information that will help sustain people, and they will want to tell others why your party is one of the best to attend. The more you provide your party visitor, the more they will tell others, and your party will grow virally.

Don’t Become a Party Pain: You don’t want to be seen as a desperate friend, like someone who is friendless. Be subtle. Make your invitees want to come back. And when they do come back, and if it has been awhile, don’t make them feel bad about it, make them excited that they have returned to a great party. Be a real friend. Thank then for coming. Be genuine, and grateful. They took time out of their day to visit your site, and you want them to know how much you appreciate it.

Be the best host you can be. Make sure people talk about you as the best party on the Internet.

 

Twitter Grows Restaurant Revenues

A lot of people with whom I speak ask me if this whole Twitter thing is working for companies and brands, and if so, how are businesses using it. Let me share a quick personal story.

Nt_2_lgI am writing this from Naples, FL where I served on a panel the other day at the Shopper Marketing Fusion conference. Prior to my trip to Florida, as I tend to do, I Tweeted about my upcoming trip, and the fact that I would be staying near Naples. About 3 hours after my Tweet, I received a reply from Naples Tomato, an upscale italian restaurant. In a very conversational manner, they wished me a safe and successful trip, and suggested that I might want to try their restaurant if I had the time.

We exchanged a few Tweets, they shared their website with me, and also suggested that I mention Twitter to get a special gift if I did choose to eat at their restaurant. Which I did. One of my clients who happens to live in Sarasota, and owns a company named TUNG, drove over to Naples and joined me for a meal at Naples Tomato.

Let me share the experience. Upon entering, we spoke to the manager, and mentioned that we came in due to Twitter. His face lit up, said that it was not he that was tweeting, but Tanya, and they had just started the program. When asked how it was going, he proceeded that he was surprised as to how many people had mentioned Twitter when making their reservations, and he was really pleased with the early responses. After being seated, we must have had 4-5 restaurant staff members stop by our table and thank us for coming in. And they provided us with 2 glasses of wine at no charge, and offered us more if we wished. And the food was great.

Bottom line is this. This is one restaurant located in a slightly worn strip mall along Highway 41 in Naples. There is not a chance that I ever would have sought out this restaurant on my own. But because of Twitter, and because this local business had its ears on, and picked up the fact that I was coming to Naples, they reached out, they made the connection with me, and I became a customer. As well, I was treated better than I normally would have if I had just come in off the street, I felt as if I had a personal connection to the restaurant, I would recommend the establishment to anyone who asked, and I'm writing about it here.

So you tell me. Does this whole Twitter thing work? If I had a local business, I would certainly be using it to grow my business, and Tomato is a perfect example as to how to use Twitter correctly. Nice job! Great dinner!

One last thing, which is the best part of it all. Tom, my client and friend, paid the bill. The night could not have worked out better. 

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