Thursday, October 6, 2011
Sunday, August 21, 2011
A logo tells a story. Good one's are unique, credible, consistent, and offer a benefit I care about.
If I saw this logo, from a distance, I'd know who it was even if I couldn't read the words.
The use of a comment box in place of an apostrophe -- brilliant. The font isn't remarkable in and of itself, but it's so simple that it makes me feel that Angie's List is too. So it is remark-able. It's worth spreading.
Unique? Nothing like it.
Credible? Yes. A list of service providers with honest comments from customers.
Benefit to me? Yes, if I need a plumber, an electrician, or a dentist I can count on the list of reviews from others like me.
And in my subconscious, it's all directed toward me. It's not about them.
All of that -- in two words.
And Angie helps make it all come together. She appears to be honest, caring, and one heck of a good businesswoman.
What story does your logo tell? Because no matter what it looks like, it does tell a story. The question is -- does it tell the story your potential customers want to hear and see?
Helpful? Insightful? Worth spreading? Hope so. Please share this -- it'll make you feel good :-)
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Recently, I was contacted by a potential new client. (Actually, it was the advertising agency for the client who called.) A very successful company with a hot product.
We had a nice initial conversation. They were interested in having me write radio copy for the personalities who do endorsement advertising for their client. I shared with them that I don't write copy -- I tell stories. They said they liked that and understood the difference. So we agreed to have a conference call with the client the following week.
But something didn't feel right. So I sent them an email suggesting we meet in person to build a solid foundation before moving forward. No response. A couple of days later I sent another email suggesting we talk before getting on the phone with the client. No response. So I called twice and left messages with the same suggestion. No response. (But an assistant was sending me emails to confirm the day and time of the call.)
Then it was time for the conference call. I dialed in. The agency folks got on the line and let me know that the client couldn't make it, something came up. I said, "Great, we need to talk first anyway." So we talked about current marketing campaigns -- what's working, what isn't, etc. Then I reminded them that in order for me to help the talent tell authentic stories, I'd need to meet with them or at least have a conference call. (I brought this up on our first call as well.) They said that couldn't happen because the client manages those relationships, exclusively. I reminded them that I couldn't do my best work unless I could talk to the radio personalities and hear their thoughts and ideas. "Nope, not gonna happen." Then they said they'd reschedule the call with the client and get back to me.
After the call I sent them an email and shared my feelings in a nice way and said, "No, thanks." The tone of the email was upbeat, positive, and left open the door for future possibilities. And since then, you guessed it, no response.
So as I think back to when our initial phone meeting was over, I knew something just didn't feel right.
But I gave it one more shot. In the end, we're both better off not working together.
Oh, and by the way, I could use the money. Not desperate, but not filling up my savings account right now either.
Trust your inner voice. It's always right. And don't let money make the decision for you. By saying, "No, thanks," you're reminding yourself of what you do, how you do it best, and most importantly, who you are.
One door shuts, another opens. I'll let you know who's behind the other door, as soon as I find out...
NOTE: This blogpost is spreadable. Make some toast, grab a knife, and spread it...thanks!
Friday, June 24, 2011
The word 'copy' comes from the French 'copie' and the Latin 'copia' -- both of which refer to a reproduction or transcript. So...to write copy is to deliver a reproduction or a manuscript of an event or an idea. But a good copywriter doesn't write copy, she tells stories.
(How boring was that? Oh, sorry, it wasn't a story.)
Anyway, if you have a company (or work for one) and you want to attract more business, tell a story. Have a conversation with your customer, don't talk at her or him.
Instead of, "the best selection..." or "aisles and aisles of incredible prices..." how about putting this on your website, in written form or in a video (makes a great radio commercial too)...
"Yep, we'd like to grow our business. And the best way to do that is to give you the same thing we want -- affordable choices.
We're not perfect. We carry lots of cool stuff but we don't have everything. When we price our (insert; clothing, shoes, groceries, lighting fixtures, etc.) we do everything we can to stay competitive.
Thankfully, you've told us you like shopping at out store(s).
It means a lot to us when we see you come back. We smile because we know we've done our job well. But if we ever let you down, please let us know. We'll do everything we can to fix it, immediately.
Thank you for your business. See you soon!"
Isn't that what we all want? Affordable choices, a two-way, respectful relationship, and a "Thank you"?
Here's another way to do it, with even more storytelling...
"Mary came back to our Tri-City location this week...
She told us that the (thing) she bought didn't work out like she had hoped. So we took it back and helped her pick out a different one. It took her a while because there's a lot to choose from. When she found what she wanted she looked like a tween about to enter her first Justin Bieber concert. We love that look!
So please check out the cool stuff we've got. Too much to mention here.
And when you find what you're looking for, and see how affordable it is, we're pretty sure you'll have that same smile on your face.
Thanks for your business. See you soon!"
No, "money back guarantee". No, "great customer service". No, "low-price guarantee".
Just a story, that's says so much more.
What's your story?
Friday, June 17, 2011
Do you find yourself saying, "Why did they do that?" "Why did they have to say it that way?" You'd do it differently, wouldn't you? You'd say it in a nicer way, wouldn't you? And your way is probably better, isn't it?
About a year ago I read a remark-able book, The Fifth Agreement. Authors don Miguel and don Jose Ruiz present an interesting perspective, and through my lens, it looks like this...
Imagine you walk into a dark movie theater. You notice someone sitting alone, near the front. You walk down and sit just behind her and to the side. As your eyes adjust to the dim lighting you realize that it's your mom, or that client, or your boss.
And then the curtains open and a movie starts to play. It's her life story. You see her birth. Who was there? Who wasn't? You see her play and argue with friends. You see her bullied or maybe she bullied someone else. You see her as she experiences her first early teen crush. You see her as she experiences joy, sadness, envy, love, and so many other emotions. And you watch as she witnesses the same emotions in others. And since she's nearby, you also get to see her re-living those experiences. You see see her laugh and cry as her movie plays right in front of her, and you.
And then your face appears on the screen. You look a bit different than you thought you did. And then it hits you. She sees you differently than you see yourself.
In your life, in your work, in your relationships -- there are decisions to be made, risks to take, work to be done. And when someone doesn't do it the way you'd do it, it might help to realize that you haven't seen their move -- and they haven't seen yours'.
When we judge others we are doing it through our own lens -- through our worldview. It can be helpful to realize that other perspectives are in play and that they're just as valid as our own.
Do the Work. Be passionate and determined. And find that place within yourself where empathy resides. It will take some weight off your shoulders and make the whole process more enjoyable -- for everyone.
If you find this blog post to be interesting or helpful (or maybe even better than that) please pass it on to someone else. Thank you.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
For several years I had that picture on my wall or on my desk. And then one day it hit me. "If Jay had a copy of this photo would he display it?" Of course not.
So I took it down and put it in a box somewhere with the other pictures of me with "famous" people. I thought I'd include it in this post but I can't find it.
Self-esteem, self-respect, and self-reliance come from within. They're developed by overcoming obstacles, solving problems in a unique and creative way, and by making mistakes and learning from them.
Jay does many things better than me. I do many things better than him. And we both have a similar number of shortcomings. We are equals.
You might have a picture on your wall of someone who doesn't know you. Maybe you find inspiration when you look at it. My challenge to you is to ask yourself if the inspiration you seek might be best if it comes from you.
Who's on your wall? Whose wall are you on?
Thursday, May 19, 2011
And then I got this, from a radio station in Minneapolis that I often listen to online:
I don't know them and they don't know me but it looks like Sarah Jane http://sarahjanesbakery.com/ would like to meet me. And she's willing to give me six FREE cupcakes to start our relationship, with no strings attached.
When you click on her site, there she is...it's Sarah Jane! She looks like she cares, doesn't she? She looks authentic. Spend some time on her site, read 'About Us.' You'll quickly realize that she's your mom, your aunt, or your childhood neighbor. The site, the pictures, the words -- authentic, schmaltzy, genuine.
If I lived in Minneapolis I'd be placing my order today and I bet Sarah Jane would have a customer for life.
The next time your company wants to acknowledge a customer's date of birth, why not partner with someone who can do more than that. Find someone who can help you say HAPPY BIRTHDAY...and mean it. They'll thank you for the connection.
I really feel (not just think) that Sarah Jane wants me to have a Happy Birthday. And she's pretty sure that her cupcakes will do the trick. I feel she's right.
Oh, and FREE always works. Because when done right, it doesn't cost a thing.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
But take a look at this commecial http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YyKhP6x0tXE.
How remark-able is that? Just the sheer joy of having Pudding Face. And notice that they don't use the words joy, happiness, or tastes so good. They let the Pudding Face tell the story.
I bet this is happening somewhere, right now...
A spoonful is consumed, she grins from ear-to-ear and says, "Look, I've got Pudding Face!"
And the story spreads.
It can be hard to fight the temptation to say too much, to talk about all of the flavors, to try and convince everyone.
Everyone? C'mon. Impossible.
Just give me some Pudding Face!
Saturday, May 14, 2011
How about this...
"Remember in The Wizard of Oz -- the house is spinning, everything's in black and white and grey. And then...crash...the house hits hard and wakes up Dorothy. She slowly makes her way to the door...and then...she slowly opens it. Do you remember what it looked like? So many colors! Take just a second...can you see it right now? You can at XYZ -- we call it our Spring collection..."
Did you see that? Sure you did. And it looked a little different to you than it did to me because you created it yourself, in your own mind.
But they won't say that because it takes too much time. It doesn't give them time to talk about their "great customer service" or their "large selection of sizes" or "ample parking."
And they do this because they think the message has to have something in it for everyone. Who's everyone?
What about you? Do you let your customers use their imagination? Do you tell them a story they can spread?
Or...do you go from cliche to cliche listing "benefits" that nobody hears? And then, lemme guess -- you probably wonder why very few people show up.
"The mind, once expanded to the dimensions of larger ideas, never returns to its original size." Oliver Wendell Holmes
Take each customer on a trip. Expand her mind -- it won't return to its original size, but she might just return to your store.
Friday, May 13, 2011
Wanna lose weight? Start.
Have a great business idea? Start.
Feel the desire to repair a broken relationship? Start.
Here's your nudge. A quote from W. H. Murray:
Start. And listen, to yourself. You might hear yourself say, "But they won't like it." "What if I fail?" "I don't have time!"
Every great artist, every successful entrepreneur, and every world-class athlete has heard that voice too. And they didn't ignore it. They owned it and then they turned it upside-down, inside-out.
So when you hear it, and you will -- talk to it, laugh at it, and let it know the gig is up. Take it out of the shadows and expose it -- shine a light on it. Give it a name if you want. Dress it up and give it form.
Fear hates to be exposed.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Maybe there's a deeper message there.
How close do I stay to my clients? How often do I call my friends? Do I connect with my daughter when she tells me a story?
And...am I paying attention to what I'm saying to me?
Or...am I too far way?
Distance can result in a lost connection. So can taking things for granted. And not being aware.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Most of the time, when we tell a story we say, "It's like when 'you' wake up in the middle of the night and 'you' can't sleep..." But we're talking about 'me', 'I'.
So I'm working consciously on saying, "It's like when 'I' wake up at night and 'I' can't sleep..."
It's very powerful to take full responsibility for my actions, my thoughts and all of my words.
Still working on eliminating, "...like..."
But hey...I used to live in California!
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
It's slower than I'd like. Takes a long time to boot up.
Microsoft knows they blew it.
So what if they offered me, and any Vista user, a really big discount for Windows 7? "Hey Gregory, we messed up. But we want you as a customer for life. Get 7 now and we'll let you have it for $7.77."
I'd take it...and tell everyone about it...and I'd stop visiting the Apple store. At least for a while.
They'd get million$ of PR, and send a message that they care, that they get it, that I exist to them.
But they don't.
to the Apple store.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Think there will be a second date?
Rewind the tape...
First date. You ask questions. You listen. You care. You answer every question honestly. Your intent is not to impress, but to learn, to share, to connect.
Several things discussed peak interest for both of you. You say you'd like to learn more next time. Second date is inevitable, then third, then fourth...pretty soon commitment follows.
Stop selling to your customers and start dating them. Authentically, passionately, honestly.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Thursday, January 29, 2009
But some people do. Some companies too.
I think integrity has more to do with how your treat others, and yourself, than it has to do with the rates you charge for your services.
Last week I received an email from The Breakers in Palm Beach, FL. Stayed there a few times on business trips. The email was offering up to $200 per day in resort credits for food, spa, golf, etc.
Here's the story they're telling:
-They have vacant rooms.
-They want to fill those rooms.
-When you use the resort credit it goes toward stuff that doesn’t cost them $200 to produce.
-You must pay full rack rates to get the credit.
-So you bite.
-Your total cost is less than the last time you stayed there.
-They make a little less on you but a lot more than leaving that room vacant.
-But it’s The Breakers so you know it won’t be available when the place is full.
They get full room rate. You spend less. They fill a room that would most likely go unsold. When you're there, they treat you with respect and super serve you. You have a great time.
Did they lose integrity? Not at all. Probably picked up some positive word of mouth.
And they're keeping people employed.
So, if you make pricing decisions, here are some suggestions:
-Don’t let rooms go unsold.
-Add some stuff to packages that work for your client but don’t cost you as much.
-You’ll be able to remove the stuff when your inventory tightens up—promise.
-If you’re worried about what “everyone” in your industry or market will say, buy some earplugs. (Who is “everyone” anyway?)
And remember, integrity comes from within.
No one can take it from you—without your permission.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Close your eyes (okay...after you read this).
Be still for a few moments.
Ask yourself, "Do I have enough?"
Remain calm and still for a few more moments.
Then ask yourself, "Has there ever been a time in my life when I didn't have enough?"
A few more seconds of quiet.
Open your eyes.
Now call somebody who's looking for a job or going through a tough time.
Because you have enough to give a little.
Monday, December 8, 2008
So the Big 3 took private planes to DC for their first beg.
The second time (after public outcry) they drove hybrid cars.
Who are they? Are they the guys who fly in private jets everywhere? Or, are they the guys who drive all day to get to a meeting?
I'm not making a judgement here about which mode of transportation they should choose to take. But I do take notice on how and why they made each decision. Which one is authentic to each of them? Did one of them want to drive the first time but were swayed to fly for security reasons? Did one of them say, "I'm not wasting 10 hours in a car just to make a show." And then he was convinced that the show needed to happen?
It was reported this morning that John Thain, CEO of Merrill Lynch, had requested a $10 million bonus. And then this afternoon it was reported that he will "decline" any bonus this year. What happened? Which one is he?
I may or may not agree with private planes and large bonuses in our present economic situation. But I will always agree with being told the truth. I want to feel that what you say is authentic. If I think you're putting on a show then I won't know when to trust you.
So who are these guys?
Who are you?
Friday, November 14, 2008
First, a bit of background...
I worked in the radio industry for most of my adult years. Now I have a great group of clients that use radio personalities to endorse their products/services. So now I interact with a lot of radio salespeople.
When I ask them what their job is, here's what I get...
"I'm an account executive for WXXX." Or..."I sell advertising for the leading AC station in Chicago." Or maybe, "I work for (insert Big Corporate Company) and represent the leading adult station in the market."
Why not this?
"I'm a storyteller, a connector. I help local business grow."
If I heard that, I'd say, "Tell me more"!
"Well, I find great companies, with unique products, and I help them tell their story--to thousands of people."
How do you do that?
"I connect businesses with customers by telling authentic, emotional stories on the radio. Real stories that spread--to an audience that is right for their product or service."
How's it going?
"I have great relationships with a lot of remarkable people who lead great companies. They work with me in all aspects of their marketing--because they trust me. They know I won't try to sell them something unless I'm convinced it will work for them. A lot of people think radio is dead, but I know better."
Sound corny? Not to me.
A business that looks for ideas, that surrounds itself with smart people, will love an answer like that.
So, what is it that you do?
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Some see this as a temporary measure--until the economy picks up.
I don't see it that way. Unless I need you.
We've turned into needers vs. wanters. For decades we bought what we wanted. No more.
And this won't change anytime soon.
My parents still save used aluminum foil for the next baked potato. They learned this from their parents who lived through the depression.
Once we realize we can do just fine with what we need, this behavior will last.
Tell stories that fit with this worldview.
The Hyundai Genesis has a great opportunity to succeed. It's a luxury car that's getting great reviews. It rivals similar size cars from BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, Infiniti, etc. in performance, gadgets, and feel. But it costs $10-$30,000 less.
When you drive up in a Genesis you're telling a story. "I like luxury cars but I'm not going to waste money on a hood ornament. I don't need that."
Remember the 1970's TV commercial for the Mercury Monarch? "It looks like a Mercedes but costs thousands less". Problem was, it didn't have much in common with a Mercedes other than the look. (And that was questionable.) But the Genesis does.
Generic brands are becoming stylish. They say a lot about the customer who buys them. And the message is spreading. "I buy what I need."
So if you work for or lead a company that bases its brand on want, your downsizing isn't temporary.
But if you have a story to tell that fits today's customer need, soon you'll need to hire more people.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Have you ever called to get the free 30-day trial, and found you have to give your credit card number and call back within 30 days to cancel or you'll be charged for 11 additional months?
And if you voice a concern you'll probably be told that technically each statement was true.
But using technicalities isn't a way to lead a business, a family, a life. Technicalities are usually just lies. Lies used to lure us in, to justify a price, or to take the easy way.
They've been around for years and in our current economic environment, we'll probably see more. Why?
Because technically, they work. Sure--they're just short term solutions to grab revenue, grab market share, grab whatever they can get.
And they keep coming up with new ones because we keep buying. Otherwise they'd stop.
But if you tell the truth, then you won't fall for the lies of others.
But if you get sucked in, then you're probably telling yourself something.
What goes around, comes around.
Friday, November 7, 2008
feel the windows leaking,
a new path you should be seeking.
Everyone isn't right.
Everyone isn't everyone.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Together; define your mission, your purpose, your goals. Make sure they are simple. (Simple doesn't mean easy.) Share them--with everyone.
Let your smart, dedicated people loose. Make sure they carry the mission/purpose/goals with them at all times. They will be your map, your compass, your guide.
- You will hit bumps in the road. Talk about them, laugh about them.
- Fear will creep in. Talk about it, laugh about it.
- You will have an urge(s) to change course, to try different things, to veer slightly off line. Remain passionate and unyielding to your mission/purpose/goals.
- You will be criticized and praised as you move forward. Ignore them both.
- Ask questions. Don't assume anything.
- Tell the truth. Even if it hurts.
And I almost forget to mention...
You'll need a bit of luck, but you'll know how to make it.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Everyone believes in "customer service".
The problem is that a lot of companies believe in Really Bad Customer Service.
What do you, what does your company, believe in?
What if you believed in Remarkable Customer Service?
What would it look like? What would it feel like? What would your customers say about it? Would they spread the word? Why/How/When/Where/To whom?
And who are your customers? There are the obvious ones--but there are also your peers, your employees, your vendors, your competition. How do you treat them? What do you want them to say about you?
Every interaction with a customer is an opportunity.
Your brand is defined by your customers. They own it, not you.
Do something remarkable today for a customer or for all of your customers. And then just let it go. It'll spread.
Say it forward? Yep. This blog is about telling stories. Stories about you. Stories about your company. Stories about your product or service. Stories worth sharing.
If your story is remark-able, your audience will spread it. It's that simple.
You can tell the truth or you can lie. You can do it for others or you can do it for yourself. You can be transparent or you can hide. You can do it out of passion or you can do it out of obligation. Your choice.
But if you tell the truth, passionately and transparently, for the betterment of others, remarkable things will happen.
You can't fake it. Oh, you can try. And for a while you might succeed. But then karma gets in the way. Always has, always will.
So tell the truth. And do your best. And admit when you're wrong.
Your customers will thank you. They'll spread the word. They'll, "Say It Forward".