Want to be the Supreme Bean?

September 27, 2006

A couple posts from the always insightful Phil Gerbyshak and the beautiful and passionate Kammie Kobyleski (sorry Phil, you just don’t quite make it to beautiful!) have me thinking about how critical it is to bring our passion and positive attitude to work every day.  How you celebrate doing that says a great deal about your organization’s culture…and your brand.

At McLellan Marketing Group, we embrace our sense of teamwork with a bit of proverbial tongue in cheek.  Everyone is assigned a different kind of bean.  Because of my habitual kidney stones, yes…you guessed it, I got kidney beans.  There are lima, coffee, pinto and a variety of others.


We also printed up index sized cards that say "You’ve been beaned" and have some room to write a note.  The premise is simple.  When one of your teammates goes out of their way to be helpful or supportive — you bean them.  You write a little note, thanking them for what they did and leave the note and one of your beans on their desk.

At the end of every month, we tally the beans.  Whoever received the most beans is declared the "Supreme Bean" and heralded by everyone. They also receive a $10 gift card.

Over the years, many of the employees have created quite a collection of beans that they proudly display on their desks in a variety of creative containers.

Easy.  Cheap.  Fun.  And a great way to declare our absolute intent to be passionate about the work we do, our clients and perhaps most of all, each other.  Do you suppose when we add a team member and explain the whole bean thing, they get a sense that team focused is one of our core values?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Don’t let your technology embarrass you!

September 26, 2006

As a blogger on TypePad, I access my account by going to their home page and entering my userID and password.  Simple and efficient.  The TypePad home page is clean and well organized.  It has plenty of links and concise bits of information.  All what you would expect from people who use technology to make a living.


Here’s the odd thing.  Every time I go to their home page, the exact same quote appears.  Now, wouldn’t you think someone as sophisticated as the TypePad folks would use the power of their own technology and have quotes rotate?  If that was the case, I probably wouldn’t have even noticed.

Although it isn’t really fair, we consumers tend to notice things that seem deficient or out of place.  Don’t let your use of technology suggest that perhaps you haven’t thought it through, or even worse yet, don’t quite have a handle on it.

What does your technology say about you?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Put me in coach, I’m ready to play!

September 24, 2006

Even if you don’t like baseball (which, btw is sick and wrong) you have to like the song Centerfield by John Fogerty.  Great melody and a great message.

The song is about passion for the game and a hunger to play it.  That’s sort of how I’ve been feeling about blogging of late.

Once my blog coach, Mike Sansone, turned me onto the power of blogging, I’ve been hooked.  Images_1

Mike’s an amazing combination of coach, cheerleader, and play coordinator.  He’s helped me with the technology, the culture and the nuts and bolts of blogging.  The generosity of his spirit is only eclipsed by his vast knowledge on the subject.  That’s what makes a player or a coach great.  Anyone can understand the rules of the game or even the mechanics of it.  But, when something ignites your passion and you can’t wait to step up to the plate again — that’s what makes a champion.  And in the world of blogging, Mike is just that — a champion.

So, if in the infancy of my blog I am doing anything right — clearly it is a credit to Mike.  I am pretty darn sure that any of the mistakes I have or will make along the way are all mine!

Thanks coach for helping me get into the game!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Be bold or go home!

September 22, 2006

Yesterday I talked a little about apathy and that I believe it is the #1 killer in business today.  I believe employees are apathetic today because they have no idea what their company stands for.  Either the company has not made a brand promise or even worse yet — they have made a "safe" brand promise.  You know the ones I mean:

~ The difference is our people
~ Your success is our success
~ Quality is job #1

My translation of those kinds of brand promises is:  We have no idea why or how we’re different from our competitors so we’re going to say something safe.  Who can argue with good service or quality?  The problem is the business owner or marketing manager’s flawed assumption that either the competition has only hired morons and boobs or that the potential customer can actually tell the difference between an A- product/service and an A product or service.

At my shop we call those types of taglines or brand statements — weasel words.  Why?  Because they are so vague that they mean absolutely nothing to the consumer.  So why bother?

Branding is for the bold.  If you aren’t willing to stand for something concrete and make a substantial promise that makes you a little nervous — then don’t bother.  Be bold or go home.

How’s that for being direct?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Could you possibly show more apathy?

September 22, 2006

United Airlines Caravelle PhiladelphiaImage by j3net via Flickr

I hate to pound on the airlines.  They’ve been bloodied and beaten up enough.  But man, they make it easy to shake your head and mutter under your breath.

I flew United today from Des Moines to Denver to Jackson Hole, WY.  (You don’t get anywhere direct from DSM!)  When we landed in Denver, everyone waited like Pavlov’s dogs for the seat belt bell to ring and then leapt from their seat.  Only to stand there.  And stand there.  And stand there.

Finally, the flight attendant got on the PA and announced that the gate agent couldn’t figure out how to get the jetway to move towards the plane so they’d called in back up.

No apology.  No "we know you have connections, we’ll call them and explain" or even a "I know this is absurd but…"  Nothing.  She did however, go to the galley and grab herself a can of soda.  The only thing she could have done that would have been more insulting is if she’d started to file her nails.

I’m not ranting because I missed my connection (I didn’t) or because we had to wait 30 minutes (we didn’t) or that in the grand scheme of things it ruined anyone’s day (I doubt it did) but simply because if there is anything that will kill your business — it is apathy.

If you don’t have a passion for the work you do, the people you serve and the product/service you deliver — then stop doing it.  If you can’t get worked up over your work — find different work.

What does this have to do with marketing?  Everything.  But this things long enough today, so let’s cover that tomorrow, okay?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Could you get to Cooperstown without a map?

September 19, 2006

Sure, you probably could.  But you’d make a few wrong turns along the way.  You’d waste time and resources (gas) and with today’s prices, that could cost a pretty penny.

The same is true of marketing plans.  Can you be successful without one?  You bet.  Will you get there as quickly or with a full tank of gas?  Nope.  95 business owners out of 100 do not have a marketing plan.  They have no written map that will show them how they plan on getting to their goals.  So guess what?  Most of them never get there.  Of the 5% that actually have a written plan — less than 3% actually refer to it or use it as an action plan.

Do you have a written marketing plan?  If you do — is it gathering dust or propelling you towards your success?

Why not hop on the highway and beeline for your company’s version of Cooperstown?  (BTW…for those of you who didn’t recognize it, Cooperstown is the home to the baseball hall of fame.)  If you’re headed that way, don’t forget your map!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

The Mall of America offers marketing insight

September 17, 2006

I brought my daughter and one of her best friends up to Minneapolis and the Mall of America.  I know, I know.  I keep telling you — I am dumber than I look!


For those of you who have not visited the nation’s largest mall, it has an amusement park of sorts right in the middle.  So while the girls were in line to go on a contraption designed to lodge their stomach in their throats, I was doing one of my favorite things, observing life as it meandered by. 

I found a bench where I could see the girls and do some people watching.  The bench happened to be right next to one of those "smash a penny" and imbed some picture on it for a souvenir.  I glanced and noticed that the penny memento would cost you 51 cents.  I shook my head, thinking they probably never have to empty out the cash box on that machine.  Who in the world would spend 50 cents to mutilate a penny, only to toss it into their underwear drawer when they got home?

I sat there for about 15 minutes.  In that span of time, 5 different sets of people gleefully got their penny souvenirs.  Shows you what I know!

What a great marketing reminder.  Just because we do or don’t like something does not mean our target audience feels the same way.  We must resist putting ourselves into the potential customers’ shoes.  Or, we can imagine that everyone is just like us AND accept the fact that we’re going to miss out on selling a lot of pennies!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Sex or money?

September 15, 2006

Depending on the specifics, both can be pretty motivating, can’t they?

Actually, sex and money are two of the eight key benefits that trigger us to buy something.  Heck, they trigger us to buy just about everything.  Want to know the other six?

Drew’s Eight Emotional Buying Triggers

1. Time/convenience

2. Money

3. Recovering something lost (like your youth)

4. Sex

5. Knowledge/self improvement

6. Security/safety

7. Comfort

8. Care of loved ones

Marketers love to list features.  That’s because they are too lazy or too egocentric and can’t stop thinking from their own point of view.  When a marketer is smart and thinks from the buyers’ shoes, they talk benefits.  Help your customers achieve one of the above motivators and you have a sale.

Want to read more about the subject of emotional buying?  Check out Daniel Goleman’s "Working With Emotional Intelligence."  It’s a fascinating read.

Don’t make your potential customers figure it out for themselves.  Whether you are offering them an hour to spend with their kids, sex appeal, or an extra $20 in their pocket — tell them!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Beware of the duh factor

September 2, 2006

I recently saw an ad with the tagline "the difference is our people!"  It doesn’t matter what business it was for because many businesses claim this as their unique point of difference.  No offense to all of the businesses that think this is what makes them stand out from their competition — but duh. Everyone claims that they have great peopler, ergo great customer service. And the truth is…most of them do.  To break through the marketingplace, we need to be about more than good customer service.

Why?  Don’t people want good service.  Sure.  But they also expect it.  It’s a duh.  A given.  If you don’t provide good customer service, you’re not going to keep their business.  Don’t you think most businesses are hustling to serve their customer?  That’s not a brand — it is a cost of doing business.  An expectation.

Another popular duh is competency.  Companies will tout their expertise as though their competitors are completely incompetent.  The reality is that’s just not true.  To create marketing materials or ads that claim "we’re good at what we do" is a waste of resources. Again, your consumer assumes you’re qualified to do your job.  If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be even under consideration. Skill-level or competency is a show me message, not a tell me.  It’s a little like honesty. If someone has to keep telling you that they’re honest, pretty soon you wonder why they are making such a big deal about it.

So why do companies rely on "duh" level taglines or promises?  Because it’s easy. It doesn’t require digging deeper to find out what really does set them apart from their competition.  Double-check yourself. Are you taking the easy way out and making a duh promise?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


September 1, 2006

Welcome to the blog of Drew McLellan, author of 99.3 Random Acts of Marketing and owner of McLellan Marketing Group, where strategy and passion collide!

My goals for this blog are simple — to have a dialogue.  To share my thoughts and expertise.  And to learn from yours.  I’m open to using this forum to answer questions, to explore possibilities or just to rant a little!

I hope you’ll come back often.  Invite your friends.  Make a few new ones here.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]