leadership dot #2690: time travel

Every month I receive a bill from the city claiming that they read my water meter – the day after the bill arrives. Today, I saw a magazine ad for Talbots prominently stating that it was “photographed in Maine, November 2019”. Amazing how these entities have figured out time travel!

It may seem like a trivial detail but putting forth known inaccuracies just causes me (and, presumably others) to call the whole organization into question. It’s the only line of copy in a two-page spread and it’s wrong. If what they claim in print isn’t true, then what else are they misstating?

There is enough fake news out there without your enterprise adding to it. No one cares if the ad was photographed in October or July but we do care when you lie about it. Stick to the facts, as minor as they may seem. Details do matter.

leadership dot #2686: missed opportunity

I worked 27 years toward something and finally accomplished it – and what did I get? A generic email.

For nearly three decades, I have been making payments on my mortgage and when I finally paid it off all I received was an email with a text-only PDF encouraging me to see them for my next loan. What a missed opportunity.

Not only could my lender have done something to acknowledge the landmark event (a key or “It’s all yours!” card in the mail?) but this should be a marketer’s dream for related businesses. Hardware stores, furniture stores, landscapers and related businesses should jump on the fact that I suddenly (in theory, anyway) have more disposable income that could be redirected to home improvements.

Other businesses have realized the importance of creating a tangible acknowledgment of significant events in their customer’s journey: patients ring a bell for their last cancer treatment, schools have pomp and circumstance for graduations, cruise lines take pictures of smiling passengers, weight-loss organizations make a big hoopla when a customer reaches their goal, etc. Heck, I just got a free appetizer for my yearly “anniversary” of being a member of the steakhouse e-club. Why should lenders dismiss the paying off of any loan – let alone a mortgage – without real recognition?

Think about the key events on your customer’s journey. What can you do to make them powerful experiences that will strengthen the bond you have with them? Technology makes it easy to track everything – apply some of it to make note of events that matter to your clientele.

leadership dot #2681: harvest

One season “woodland friends” were featured on every imaginable product, then there was a frenzy over cacti, only to be replaced by llamas and unicorns. When something is so suddenly pervasive, my sister and I joke that the product must have gotten a new PR agent who promotes its image and orchestrates product placements in all the major stores.

This year, the mythical marketer of the year award goes to those responsible for promoting autumn. Have you noticed that “fall” has become a merchandising frenzy on its own? I’m not talking about Halloween or Thanksgiving, but the actual “It’s Fall Y’all” season in between. Pay attention and you’ll be astonished.

Fall decorations are everywhere. Products include hand towels, pencils, shower curtains, soap, rugs, and all manner of seasonal trimmings. You can have a complete set of fall dishes and almost every food item comes in pumpkin spice flavor to serve on them. Hallmark has a selection of cards wishing greetings just for the season and Walmart is running commercials to encourage “harvest parties.”

Someone identified a gap between summer and Halloween and revved up the merchandising machine to fill it. You may have caught the bug personally and added an extra pumpkin or wreath to your front porch, but has your organization capitalized on the new energy around this season? Add “fall” to your planning cycle for next year: host your donors at a pumpkin patch, add spice flavoring or color to your product, or send sunflower cards instead of Christmas greetings.

There is a marketing bounty waiting for those who harvest it.

leadership dot #2676: ink

Tattoos have become so commonplace that pen-maker Bic has embraced the concept and tried to capitalize on its popularity. The manufacturer is now offering sets of body markers designed for people to ink their own tattoos – temporarily. The design will last through several washings, enough to let you test the location and design before you venture into permanency.

Body ink is a logical product expansion for the company – it’s still ink, it still comes in very similar packaging, and it’s even sold in the same section of the store – yet it could create an avenue for new users as well as new uses.

Bic evolved from ink for paper to ink for skin. How might you allow your product to take a step in another direction? Even if the move is only temporary, it could result in some interesting adaptations for a new market.


leadership dot #2675: exterior

Organizations take great care to brand the insides of their facilities and to have their space be reflective of the work they do. Often overlooked is the outside of the building which can act as a giant billboard to create awareness and, hopefully, even interest to come inside.

One artist who grasped this idea created iron art at his studio in Michigan. The rear of his building bordered the edge of a parking lot of the busiest store in town and he capitalized on this proximity as both a storage site and as an advertising vehicle. You couldn’t help but notice his display.

What can you add to your space beyond the traditional sign? You don’t have to be an artist uniquely communicate about who you are.


leadership dot #2655: reclamation

It is in the best interest of beverage producers to promote recycling – better to encourage it while it is voluntary than to have plastic bottles outlawed or significantly taxed.

Toward that end, Coca-Cola has created a new ad campaign (alas, only for Europe) that combines recognition of its brand with directions to the nearest recycling bin. At a recent music festival, the ads drove recycling rates to 85%!

Maybe it was the billboard or maybe the fact that a recycling bin was publicly available – either way, the combination should be used as a model for future festivals or in neighborhoods.

I hope that Coca-Cola brings its recycling campaign to the U.S. – and that other beverage makers contribute to the effort. Just think of what the Clydesdales could do with this!

Until they join in, make your own fun signs to direct the cans and bottles toward reclamation instead of the landfill. Art contest anyone?


Thanks, Meg!

leadership dot #2648: referral

Sometimes it makes good business sense to refer your customers to another, similar business. I was recently in a boutique market that sells coffee in beans and she sent customers looking for brewed coffee across the street. But rarely do you see one business advertise for another offering a very similar service.

Such is the case at the Celebrity Car Wash in Oakville, MO. At the end of their wash bay, they have a sign advertising another car wash less than a mile away. At their core, they are the same business providing the same service, but Celebrity uses this advertisement to highlight the distinctions between the two operations. Those seeing the sign should register that if they want a normal outside wash, Celebrity is the right place; if they want the inside down or detailing, then AutoSpa down the street should be their choice.

Celebrity uses the sign to gain advertising revenue and differentiate themselves from others. It owns its traditional express service model and is happy to refer those who want more than just an outside wash to go elsewhere. How may you be as confident about who you are – and aren’t?

Thanks, Brian!