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Archive for June, 2007


It’s Friday and I have a ton of things to do before the weekend hits… but I didn’t want to finish out the week before posting one more little bit of marketing goodness. John Moore – over at Brand Autopsy – gave me exactly what I was looking for, and it’s this:

“Astonish employees and they will, in turn, astonish customers.”

Simple enough, right? (So how come so many companies only remember to do something for their employees around Christmas time, or when they’ve had a decent quarter?)

We aren’t talking about a $25 gift certificate to Blockbuster, or your choice of a company pen, T-shirt or flashlight.

The term John used is “astonish,” which implies a little more effort and attention than just giving your employees an empty token of “gratitude” that is as bland as it is… kind of insulting.

Note to all department managers: If you’re going to reward your staff with T-shirts, make them the types of T-shirts that you want your employees to actually get excited about. (Hire a hot local graphic designer to design something unique or fun or cool . It’s cheaper than you think.)

But enough about T-shirts. We’re talking about “astonishing” your employees – not merley giving them a perfunctory nod, which is exactly what the folks at Macintosh did recently when they surprised all of their US employees with a brand new iPhone.

In John’s words:

“Giving every full-time employee a $600 (retail value) iPhone is an astonishing act that will only help to feed the already vibrant evangelical corporate culture within Apple. (…)At Starbucks, we would also spend marketing money on employees. We knew if we could get Baristas jazzed, they would get customers jazzed.”

Think back to an experience you’ve had recently (or not so recently) when you walked into a store or dealt with someone who was absolutely in love with either their job or the company they worked for. How was your perception of that company affected by their enthusiasm? (How likely were you after that experience to a) recommend that business to friends and peers, and b) do business with that company again?)

Now think back to your last experience with a bored, apathetic grocery store cashier, or with an unqualified telephone customer service rep, or with a passive-aggressive waitress who REALLY needs a vacation. How different might your perception of that company be? How likely is it that you will make that business your first choice? How likely is it that you will speak well of this business and recommend it to friends?

All things being equal: Pricepoint, quality of the work or food or product, product performance, cool packaging, etc. – the quality of the experience surrounding human touch-points becomes primordial.

Two average grocery stores can have a radically different image or reputation based SOLELY on the way their employees behave. The same is true with any business in which people (employees) interact with other people (customers): Restaurants, banks, retail establishments, medical offices, auto mechanics shops, etc.

Employee behavior can be radically impacted by their managers’ positive or negative treatment.

Therefore, customer experience can be radically impacted by the way a company treats its employees:

Average treatment of employees = average customer experience.

Good treatment of employees = good customer experience.

Great treatment of employees = great customer experience.

… And so on.

So rather than tossing the occasional cheapo bone to your employees to maintain morale (or whatever,) start thinking of ways that you might make them feel special. Think of ways of rewarding them, or of saying “thank you,” or making them feel truly appreciated that kind of… well, stand out. Get them jazzed about working for you. Make them feel proud and excited and vibrant.

Every once and again, make them feel that they aren’t just easily replaced pawns.

Make them realize that you truly understand their value to the success of the brand they help shape in the public’s eye every single day.

The way you treat your employees is the way your customers will be treated.

Have a great weekend, everyone. ;)

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Guy Kawasaki spent some time with The Myths Of Innovation and The Art of Project Management author Scott Berkun, recently, and the highlights of the conversation they had can be found on Guy’s blog. Below are a few pertinent textbites.

Perhaps you’re a project manager, designer, or a creative working for an organization that may not always understand the value of original ideas – or may not be willing to accept the risks that come with being a market/industry leader. Perhaps you are a manager or department leader in charge of a few very creative people but don’t always know how to hold on to them, or how to recruit them. Or perhaps you are a business leader who understands the power of innovation but doesn’t know how to foster a culture of innovation within your organization. Either way, Scott is probably someone you should spend time with. (I’m sure he’ll let you buy him a beer, but reading his books will be a good start.)

Here a good place to start:


Guy: Where do inventors and innovators get their ideas?

Scott: I teach a creative thinking course at the University of Washington, and the foundation is that ideas are combinations of other ideas. People who earn the label “creative” are really just people who come up with more combinations of ideas, find interesting ones faster, and are willing to try them out. The problem is most schools and organizations train us out of the habits.

Guy: What the toughest challenge that an innovator faces?

Scott: It’s different for every innovator, but the one that crushes many is how bored the rest of the world was by their ideas. Finding support, whether emotional, financial, or intellectual, for a big new idea is very hard and depends on skills that have nothing to do with intellectual prowess or creative ability. That’s a killer for many would-be geniuses: they have to spend way more time persuading and convincing others as they do inventing, and they don’t have the skills or emotional endurance for it.

Guy: Why do innovators face such rejection and negativity?

Scott: It’s human nature—we protect ourselves from change. We like to think we’re progressive, but every wave of innovation has been much slower than we’re told. The telegraph, the telephone, the PC, and the internet all took decades to develop from ideas into things ordinary people used. As a species we’re threatened by change and it takes a long time to convince people to change their behavior, or part with their money.

Read the rest of the interview here.

Have a great Thursday, everyone. ;)

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Today is Tony’s last day in office.

I always thought he looked a whole lot like Kevin Costner.

Maybe Tony wasn’t perfect, but he brought a lot of energy, cool and class to Downing Street, and there’s a lot to be said for that.

Tony, you’ll be sorely missed. :)

BBC coverage

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This, from AdPulp‘s David Burn:

“Scott Donaton, Publisher of Advertising Age, wanted sparks to fly from the panel he moderated in Cannes last week. Instead, he could barely muster enough smoke to smudge an industry wallowing in denial.

‘Here’s what we learned at the high-powered Cannes Debate panel on agency reinvention, which I moderated during last week’s International Advertising Festival: next to nothing.

‘Here’s what that means: The ad business has a bigger problem than it realizes. Because its leaders refuse to share real learnings and best practices, or to discuss the frustrations they face in reinventing their legacy businesses, there’s little chance of harnessing their collective wisdom to benefit the industry. Which means each player within it has to keep trying to figure it out on their own. That’s a shame.’

I can’t help but smile at this scenario. We work in an industry dedicated to passing off utter bullshit as something wholesome and worthy of the customer’s time. Then we go to fancy gatherings in France to celebrate our best bullshit from the preceeding year. Meanwhile the emperor stands alone and naked. Personlly, I’m glad. The brave and the few will move forward from this low point and create better work. As it should be. As for the rest, who really cares?”
Pow. Which raises a pretty serious question I find myself asking on a quasi-daily basis: How do you change a culture (within a company or an entire industry) that a) doesn’t want to change, or b) knows it should change but isn’t willing to actually do what it takes to make it happen?
I am reminded of the old saying: “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.”
*sigh*

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FYI: There’s a cool little e-book for all of you design addicts out there: “Thought Leadership By Design,” by Nate Burgos. It’s a great compilation of quotations about design, so you can easily infect yourself – or others – with some design-inspired insights. Good stuff. Here are some sample bits and pieces from the book:
“When it comes to innovation, business has much to learn from
design. The philosophy in design shops is ‘try it, prototype it, and improve
it.’ Designers learn by doing. The style of thinking in traditional firms is
largely inductive – proving that something actually operates – and deductive -
proving that something must be. Design shops add abductive reasoning to
the fray – which involves suggesting that something may be, and
reaching out to explore it.”
– Roger Martin
“Now, where I believe ‘user experience’ is still valuable
is indescribing an emergent quality of product development. A product or
service can have good or bad user experience. But it’s foolish to
think that the user experience can be owned by any one group in an
organization – it’s a result of of the accumulation of actions taken by an
organization.”
– Peter Merholtz
User-Centered Design means understanding what your users
need, how they think, and how they behave – and incorporating that understanding
into every aspect of your process.”
– Jesse James Garrett
Have a great Tuesday, everyone. ;)

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The idea flower


Brilliant graphic put together by the folks over at Logic+Emotion. Check out the full post here.

Personally, I would have represented the customers family as the rain and sunshine rather than part of the root, but other than that, I like the concept a whole lot. Nicely done.

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Today’s brilliant quote comes from Mr. Bob Dylan, via the meme huffer blog:

“Don’t be afraid not to follow the herd – because where the herd’s gone, the food is already eaten.”

Double-negatives aside, Bob is right: Following the herd is just about the least profitable business model in existence… Yet, sadly, it is by far the most common.

We touched on this concept in the “The Brand Erosion Spiral of Doom” a couple of days ago: Waiting for your competitors to come up with the great ideas and then getting onboard is not a good way to build a strong brand for yourself, or capture much market share.

If you aren’t already finding your own lush pastures, maybe it’s time you stopped settling for someone else’s scraps. Do something different. Take chances every once in a while. Innovate. Put original ideas into action. Try something new. Do something.

Get there first – or at least be among the first.

Life is too short – and green pastures are in far too short supply – for anyone, you included, to waste your time following the herd. It might seem like the safe thing to do, but trust me: It’s a hard living, fighting over someone else’s scraps, and in the long term, there’s absolutely no future in it.

None.

Unless you like going hungry.

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