Sharpening the saw on your leadership and personal branding efforts

April 30, 2010

Shutterstock_50393068 Two good friends and smart cookies have just released some great content available to you for free!

Terry Starbucker has been blogging about leadership and life for many years now over at Ramblings from a Glass Half Full.  He's captured some of his best thinking and insights in a free e-book called Leadership from a Glass Half Full:  What you Need to Learn Before You Jump into the Pool.

You can download it by clicking here.  

Dan Schwabel, personal branding expert and blogger has been teaching people how to stand out in the crowd over at Personal Branding Blog for quite some time.  Dan produces a fascinating magazine, chock full of interviews and helpful tips to build a powerful personal brand.

Dan's generously offering a free sample issue to you.  All you have to do is click here.

Now that you've identified your weekend reading…. what's next on your To Do list?

Image courtesy of ShutterStock

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

What I’m reading (4/26/10)

April 27, 2010


I've always loved to read…so many books, so little free time.  Every few weeks, I'm going to give you the skinny on the books that have caught my fancy.  Most will be new ones (I am trying to whittle down the pile) but every once in awhile it will include a classic too.

Here's what I've been reading this week or so and my take on each.

Recession Proof Business by Victor Cheng (click on title to buy)

Victor Cheng, a former McKinsey consultant and marketing expert for the Fox Business Television Network, led a major research project to find the answer to discover why some companies survive a recession.

After analyzing 12 US recessions spanning 136 years, this research uncovered how, in the midst of a major recession, Federal Express, Disney, Hewlett-Packard, UPS, Coors, and others opened their doors as one- and two-person businesses-and grew to become Fortune 500 giants.

Why did these businesses prosper, while thousands of others failed? Unintentionally, they all followed the same winning formula – four simple rules that allowed them to survive and thrive, while others died. Discover these timeless rules in The Recession-Proof Business and follow in the footsteps of the greatest recession success stories of all time.

This was a pretty quick and interesting read.  Cheng takes the data and makes it relevant. Worth your time.

And….if you are part of a business with 100 or fewer employees, Cheng is offering a PDF of his book for free.  Just visit:

I Hate People by Jonathan Littman and Marc Hershon (click on title to buy)

Designed for navigating pitfalls and stop signs in the workplace, I HATE PEOPLE! helps you identify the top drains on your time and resources and teaches office jujitsu tactics to help wrest back your time.

The book identifies and classifies each of The Ten Least Wanted who pose the greatest threat to getting your work done in the office:

  • Stop Sign (like the Kodak executive who predicted digital cameras had no future)
  • Flimflam (proficient at identifying people to do their bidding)
  • Bulldozer (a bad decision is better than indecision)
  • Smiley Face (sneaky – constantly smiling with something up his sleeve)
  • Liar Liar (obvious)
  • Switchblade (two faced…don't turn your back)
  • Minute Man (Do you have a minute, I just have one thing…)
  • Know-It-None (full of facts, most of which are useless or wrong)
  • Spreadsheet (Micro manager)
  • Sheeple (can't make a decision, blind follower)

And then naturally — it then tells you how to deal with these time suckers and get back your day. 

This was a fun book to read but I'm not sure I'm better off.  Maybe that's because I work in a small office.  Or because I'm the boss.  If you're stuck in an office where you can't be successful, this book might help.  So would quitting.

Why Loyalty Matters by Timothy Keiningham & Lerzan Aksoy (click on title to buy)

In Why Loyalty Matters, loyalty experts Timothy Keiningham and Lerzan Aksoy draw from the most comprehensive study of loyalty ever conducted, the landmark Ipsos Loyalty Study, to show why loyalty is critical to our happiness as individuals and our success as a society.

Readers learn:

  • How to leverage 10 relationship building blocks to shape your interactions at home and work
  • How organizations can gauge and strengthen employees' loyalty–and why they should
  • How to boost your company's profits by finding and developing loyal customers
  • How to achieve career fulfillment through loyalty to your job and coworkers
  • How to develop more loyalty in your friendships, family, and community

This book reaches beyond business and talks about loyalty in a much broader sense.  The authors deal with both the intangible and tangible values (emotions, behaviors and dollars) that come with earning someone's loyalty.

I found this book really intriguing.  The use of the Ipsos Loyalty Study data really fleshed out their suppositions and examples.  It was just the right amount of left brained facts mixed with some good stories and analogies.

There you have it — some new reads if you're iPad or Kindle is running dry!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Do your customers think you’re a “10”?

April 26, 2010

In the drive up windows of one of the country's largest banks — there is a sign.  "Please honk if we've delivered a "10" customer service experience."

I've never heard anyone honk or honked myself.  Now…I want to honk.  I feel bad about not honking.  I can see that the tellers are being very friendly.  They use my first name.  They enclose a pen in the little tube so I don't have to ask to borrow one.  But here's the thing.  That's not being a 10.  That's just being good.  Being a 10 isn't about being good — it's about being spectacular.

For those of you over 40, you will remember the movie 10 with Bo Derek.  The premise of the entire movie is that Bo Derek is so extraordinary that Dudley Moore makes a complete and utter fool of himself.

Check out the trailer (e-mail subscribers, click here) and then we'll talk about how Bo relates to marketing and our customers.

According to the movie, Bo wasn't just pretty.  She wasn't satisfactory.  She was stunning.  She was so remarkable — she made everyone stop and notice.

That's what I want the bank tellers to be.  Not friendly.  Not doing their job.  But remarkable.  Do something that I can't help but tell others about.  (Who is going to say…"boy, the bank teller called me Drew today.")  Dare to be remarkable. 

What does that look like?  It looks like a small gesture that says you know who I am and appreciate me and my business enough to do something that most would never even think of doing.

Include a dog treat with my receipt because my dog is with me?  Nice but not remarkable.  Include a dog treat because you remember that I have a black lab, even when she isn't with me… remarkable.

Send me your newsletter, chock full of helpful hints?  Nice but not remarkable.  Drop off a book you think I will enjoy because you know that I grew up owning horses… remarkable.

Include a free sample when you ship my order to me?  Nice but not remarkable.  Include a packet of flower seeds that will grow perfectly in my climate with a note saying you can imagine how happy we are to see Spring after a miserable winter… remarkable.

Then, I will honk my heart out.  I will tell everyone about your business.  And, I will love you enough to never leave…no matter how much your competitors woo me.

That's a 10. And that's why we rarely (figuratively or literally) honk our horns for the companies that serve us.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

6 steps to take if your company is criticized in a blog post

April 23, 2010

Dunkin My last blog post recounted a less than desirable experience a colleague and I had at a New York Dunkin' Donuts store.  The manager was an amazing example of what not to do.

When I write about specific brands or experiences I've had, I try very hard to be respectful of the brand and to only call someone out when there's a lesson to be learned.  I never do it out of spite or to cause anyone any trouble.

If the specific name of the company isn't relevant — I might not even mention it.  But when a donut shop that tops the 2010 Customer Loyalty Index delivers abismal service, I'm going to talk about it.

Within 24 hours of my blog post going live, I had a voice mail message from the Director of Customer Relations, Kathy Murphy.  Naturally, I called her back.  We had a very pleasant conversation and I was suitably impressed.

Let's look at all the things Kathy did right…on behalf of her brand.

She was monitoring:  There's no way she could have found out about my blog post without some sort of monitoring tool, like Google Alerts.

She talked to me like a human being, not a corporate drone:  There was no jargon or convoluted language.  She wasn't reading from a script.  She was just very human.

She apologized.  Several times:  She wasn't at the store, so it wasn't her fault.  And I wasn't mad.  To me it was a marketing lesson.  But to her it was a customer who had been exposed to lousy service.  And she genuinely felt badly about that.  If I had been mad, it would have been completely disarming.

She told me what she was going to do with the information:  She made it clear that she was going to share the story with the franchise owner, so he could explore additional training for his manager.

She never chastised me for writing about Dunkin' Donuts or asked me to alter or remove the blog post:  Let's be honest here — no one wants their company to appear in a blog post that calls them out for bad service.  And my blog post really called them out.  So I'm sure it was tempting to ask me to take down the post…or amend it in some way.  But she never even hinted at it.  

She dealt with the issue completely, before offering the goodwill gesture:  Kathy made sure we'd covered it all and that I was content that she'd followed up before she offered to send me some free coffee to apologize.  (There are no Dunkin' Donuts in Iowa, so she couldn't send a gift card).  I didn't need the coffee to feel better about the experience.  Kathy had already accomplished that.  But I am sure that the MMG crew will enjoy the gesture!

The only additional step I would have added is — I would have suggested to Kathy that she jump into the comments on the original post.  She could have started the conversation with me there so the other commenters would have seen it as well.  After all, if I hadn't written this post — you wouldn't have known she had reached out.

But overall, there you have it…an almost picture perfect example of how to respond if your company gets sideways with a blogger, reporter, customer or critic.  Kathy handled the situation with sincerity, a desire to learn from the experience and incredible grace.  Bookmark this post — so you can follow her model if you find yourself in the same boat!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

The bar is set pretty low

April 16, 2010

Ummm, YummImage by Thomas Hawk via Flickr

In marketing, we talk a lot about being remarkable.  We want to delight our customers.  We want to create moments that they can't help talking about.  In short — we want to stand above our competition in a way that we become the brand of choice.

I'm here to tell you — we don't have to be on all too high a step stool do just that.

Earlier this week I was in Mt. Kisko, New York conducting a social media workshop for an advertising agency.  After we were done, the agency owner and I decided we needed some caffeine, so we swung through the local Dunkin' Donuts.

What I witnessed in those next 15 minutes could be a half day case course on customer care and employee relations.  I'll try to sum it up.

It's around 5:00 in the afternoon, so most of the people in line (and there was a significant line) were just buying some form of coffee.  There were two guys behind the counter and a manager who flies in with supplies (milk, syrups etc) and then flies out.

It's taking them forever to fill anyone's order or advance the line.  People seem pretty frustrated with the two clerks — neither of whom seem to actually know how to make many of the coffee drinks.  Worse…as they are getting it wrong, they're sort of giggling about it — clearly uncomfortable.  But they're not asking the manager for help, which I observe and think is a bit odd.

Finally, it's my turn to order.  I order the two coffees and the guy has to ask me 3 times what I ordered.  Meanwhile, the other clerk is taking an order from an old man who is clearly agitated.  The manager walks by (carrying more milk) and the old man says to him in a very loud voice, "this is the worst Dunkin' Donuts I have ever been in!"  (Now before you keep reading…stop and ask yourself if a customer said that to you in front of a room full of customers…how would you react?)

The manager looks at the old man and in a very sarcastic voice replies, "thanks for the compliment."  The old man shakes his head and then commences to shout at the clerk because he's making the wrong coffee.  I'm thinking to myself two things:  First…blog post heaven and second, this can't get any worse. 

I was wrong.

After the old man leaves, muttering under his breath, the manager says to the two clerks — "if that old guy ever comes in here again — you tell him to go someplace else."  In the next breath, he adds, "and if you two would stop talking to each other and listen (and then he shouts for some emphasis) LISTEN to the customers — you wouldn't be getting all of these orders wrong."  He continues to berate his clerks for a couple more minutes and then storms into the back of the store. 

As you might imagine, the two clerks gave him a look that pretty much substituted for the finger and get back to trying to fill the order.  Now I get why they didn't ask him for help.

Meanwhile, I am holding up a $10 bill because we got our coffees (mine was wrong but it wasn't worth the drama of saying so) but no one has taken my money.  Both clerks nod at the other guy when I ask who I should pay.  I practically have to insist that someone take my money. Finally, the kid who filled our order starts to ring us up.  I remind him of what we ordered.  My coffee alone should have been $3.95 but somehow he ends up charging me $4.20.

The point of this incredibly long tale?  Here are some of my takeaways:

  • Without training and setting a good example — no employee can be successful
  • Secret shopping is a vital investment if you own a retail establishment
  • The manager/leader of an organization sets the tone for everything that happens
  • As customers, our standards and expectations are incredibly low (which means it should be easy to exceed them.)
  • Some people just should not have "front of the house" jobs
  • It only takes one bad experience can taint the consumer's impression about the entire brand (I see and think about Dunkin' Donuts in a totally different way now)

The whole experience was a train wreck.  Are you so sure that your management team and front line employees would fare better?  Are you really sure?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

How to get more Facebook fans

April 13, 2010

I saw this promotion late last night as I logged onto Facebook and I thought it was worthy of sharing it with you. 

Everyone seems to want more Facebook fans…but really you actually want Facebook fans who know a little bit about you or are willing to try what you've got to offer.

That's what makes this Kraft Macaroni and Cheese promotion so smart.

Screen shot 2010-04-12 at 11.39.31 PM 

On my NewsFeed page, I noticed this ad to the right.  It offered me a free box of Mac and Cheese (hello…cheesy explosion to boot!) if I'd become their fan. 

Now I will confess two things.  1) I really love Kraft's Mac and Cheese.  2)  I would have never even thought to fan their page without this free offer.  If the ad had simply said..please be our fan, I would have ignored it.

Lesson:  If there's not a very apparent "something in it for me" we don't go around fanning pages.

Screen shot 2010-04-12 at 11.40.55 PM So, I clicked on the become a fan button and was taken to their fan page. 

I almost left because I could not see how to get my free coupon.

Lesson:  Be blatantly obvious and then some.  We are only going to look for about 5 seconds.

Fortunately, others had either been smarter or more persistent, so as I scanned the messages, someone had said – go to the third tab (wall, info and cheesy)

So I stuck with it long enough to click on the Get The Coupon button.

Screen shot 2010-04-12 at 11.41.43 PM From there, I was taken to this capture screen where Kraft got the goods on me… my name, address (so they could mail me the coupon) and the holy grail — my e-mail address.

They also snagged a bit of demographics in the check boxes below.

Lesson:  If you're offering something of value, don't be afraid to ask for something of value in return.

I'm betting they scored a huge number of new fans.  And now for about the cost of a click, they are actually putting product in the new fan's hands.  Think of what most businesses pay to get a consumer to give their product a try.

Compare and contrast this effort — where Kraft not only gets you to sample their product but also gets your contact information and some demographics to the lady standing in the grocery store, handing you a little cup of the mac and cheese.

How would you rate the relative value?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Stop trying to be a liger brand!

April 11, 2010

Liger_drewmclellan I've had this conversation about 6 times this past week, so it seems timely to write about it as well.

For some reason — many companies and brands are not content to be who they are.  They feel the need to create some artificial hybrid of themselves…. no doubt because they're afraid they're leaving money on the table, they are missing out on some customers or their revenue is down, so they're going to fish outside of their own pond.

Here's the truth about your brand.  If you are a lion — then be a lion.  Be the boldest, loudest, most confident lion you can be.

The minute you decide to become half lion and half tiger… you compromise your own brand.  You become less of who you truly are. 

I've seen this too many times to think it is a coincidence or fluke.  While you are out prowling as a liger…here are the results:

  1. You chase after business that is outside of your sweet spot — so it takes up more resources (time, talent, money) for you to deliver what you sold.  In other words — lower (if any) profit.
  2. You end up working with customers who value something other than what you are best at selling, so in many cases, you are satisfying them but not delighting them.
  3. Because you are a little (or a lot) outside of your usual scope — you price your offerings badly — either giving it away (what did we say about net profits?) or trying to charge a ridiculous amount, just proving that you aren't really an expert in that particular arena.
  4. While you are working extra hard (see #1 above) to deliver on business you really aren't superior in, you're so busy that you can't chase or win sweet spot business.

In short….you are working harder, delivering less spectacular results and making less money. 

I get the short term temptation of trying to be that hybrid — it's money in the pocket. 

But, in the long run, you simply diminish your own ability to be remarkable.  To be the brand that goes way beyond delivering satisfaction — but instead, your customers LOVE you.  Those are the companies that are surviving this recession.  Those are the companies who enjoy incredible word of mouth business.

If you are a lion — be the biggest, baddest, boldest lion you can be.  You don't (and shouldn't) be anything else.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Be a game changer like Keurig and the iPad

April 4, 2010

Keurig_drewmclellan Every once in awhile, someone comes along and instead of just adding to the existing industry or category — they literally change it.

In fact, they change the entire game.  They re-invent the way we think.  They create a want or need where we hadn't even imagined one to be.  They spark spin off products and offerings — from their own company or others.

Let's look at a of couple game changers and see what makes them so revolutionary. 

Keurig's Coffee Maker:  This amazing little device has completely shaken up the in home/office coffee making experience.  Let's look at the problems it solves:

  • I make a pot of coffee but have to keep reheating it throughout the day so I can have a hot cup when I want it
  • I make a pot of coffee but almost always end of throwing away most of it
  • I want to enjoy a variety of coffee flavors but I don't want to buy a full bag or can of each flavor
  • Sometimes I want hot tea or hot chocolate and can't make either in my coffee maker

Now… this little device has not only answered all of those concerns but it's also launched all kinds of new products (K-cups, display holders for the cups, a carrying case for traveling with your keurig coffee maker, water filters, etc. )

Ipad_drewmclellan Apple's iPad:  Like about half a million other people, I spent a fair amount of time this weekend playing with my new iPad.  I'm not going blather on about the coolness factor (although it is incredibly cool) but instead let's look at how this product is going to change our worlds.

The iPad is a computer, for all intents and purposes. And it's going to change the fundamentals of how we expect to interact with our computers from this point forward.

  • Kiss your mouse goodbye.  We're all going to want to be able to just intuitively touch our screen and move files, re-size photos, click on items and scroll through multiple pages.
  • Want to see that PDF in landscape mode?  Prefer to look at that photo vertically?  Just grab your "computer" and turn it and watch what's on your screen rotate to accommodate you.
  • Want all of your entertainment completely mobile, with high resolution, great sound and full functionality?  Now you can carry your movies (buy or rent), music, books and games.  With lightening fast speed and impressive graphic capabilities — you're all set.

The iPad has been out for less than 48 hours and the accessories are already starting to fly off the shelves.  Cases, keyboards, cords that connect cameras, screen protectors etc.  I can't even imagine the apps that will  be developed in the next few weeks and months.

Companies like Netflix, Amazon and many others are already re-tooling their offerings for the iPad, just like they did for the iPod.

But what about us?  Of course…this needs to loop back around to you and me.  Our companies aren't Apple.  We probably don't have a huge development team working in the lab.  So how can we be game changers?

If you look at the lists generated by the two game changers above, you'll see some common themes.

  • Both identified "annoyances" that everyone else dismissed as being "just the way it is"
  • Both looked at shifts in our daily life patterns and recognized a before non-existent opportunity
  • Both took time to observe and hear "I wish I could…" wants and figured out how to make them so convenient that they quickly became needs

What if you surveyed your best customers and asked these questions:

  • What are the three most annoying aspects of selling your house? (substitute your business appropriately)
  • Complete this sentence: When it comes to selling my house, I wish I could…. (again, substitute accordingly)

While you're waiting for their answers, ask yourself how your customers' lives have changed in the past 5 years.  What do they do differently?  What doesn't they do anymore?  What are they doing now that they never used to do?

Take your thoughts….and combine them with your survey results. I'm betting in the jumble of truths are some ideas worth pursuing.  Ideas that could be your game changer!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

David Meerman Scott’s sequel is better than the original!

April 2, 2010

Meerman_drewmclellanDavid Meerman Scott wrote an excellent book a few years ago called The New Rules of Marketing and PR.  I have been recommending it to people for a long time. 

Of course, the very use of the word new meant that David was in "trouble."  After all, things can't be new forever.  And when we're talking about the blur of change that viral marketing brings — new is a very fleeting concept.

Fortunately for all of us, David just released a 2nd edition.  (check it out or buy it here) Even better news, this edition is not just a refresh of the old book.  There's a huge amount of new content for the generalists and marketing pros alike.

Many of the "new media" books written today cover the same material and the same case studies.  If you've read about Zappos once, you've read about them a million times. 

The case studies in this book are varied and cover just about every type and size of business you can imagine.  David's clearly searched high and low…and come up with plenty of variety to not only help illuminate his points but to trigger "hey, we could do something like that" sort of thinking.

This book is part high level examination of the dramatic shifts we're all experiencing in communicating for business today, but it is also equally   a practical workbook — walking readers through very applicable steps so they can quickly leap from theory to action.

Are you a newbie — wondering how/where to dip your toe into the social media waters?  This book will ease your concerns and help you evaluate the best tactics to help you achieve your goals.

Are you a seasoned marketing pro  — wondering how to take your efforts to a higher plane?  This book will show you how some incremental shifts in your strategies can be a game changer. 

Smart, practical and very hands on.  This is a rare case of when the sequel is in fact, better than the original.

[Note:  David sent me a copy of his book so I could read it and review it if I chose to.  Hopefully you know me well enough to be confident…the review above is because I mean it, not because I got a $15 book in the mail.]

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]