Australian Coat of Arms (adopted 1912)

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Updating my earlier Standing-out-from-the-crowd post here

After ELEVEN MILLION votes have been counted one party is only 800 ahead of the other. I can’t even recall which party it is – probably just as well one has a female leader and the other a male otherwise how could we tell them apart?

I am sure many of my Australian friends can tell you in detail how the two parties differ, but to an outsider – what gives?

And that is my point – be very aware you know the difference between your business and the competition – but as a prospective customer – do I care?

In a previous life I did work for several of the big trading banks all at the same time and we used to joke the only difference between them seemed to be their colours. “So – are you going to the blue, green or red bank today?” sort of thing.

Try this – next time a brand new customer turns up on your doorstep – ask them to explain what they perceive is different about you. And the rules are – you are not allowed to believe their kind words – listen for factual differences. Can you do that? I’d love to hear your thoughts

Cover art from America's 1998 album, Human Nature

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Why being an Accountant Sucks

It amazes me that this is one of the most popular posts on this blog. It was never intended as a slight on accountants – more about how they stand to lose when they do their job very well.

This post still rates views every day and I suspect it is the headline. Which just goes to show this is why newspapers spend so much time crafting negative headlines

It also says something about human nature that is ‘sub-optimal’ IMHO. Why are we attracted by ‘bad’ sounding titles?

I’ve gone to remove this post or change its headline several times, but I want to see just how long it continues to be picked up – that makes me human I guess…..


Image by rofanator via Flickr

If customer service is truly about caring for your customer, and you and your team are deeply passionate about what you do…

Would not the best measure be Gratefulness?

If you client is truly grateful you see it in their eyes on the day you complete your delivery, a week later, and a year later.

If your client is truly grateful – they will recount their story to others – for years.

That is true customer loyalty and the highest honour for your efforts and honest to goodness word of mouth marketing.

Its happened to me only a handful of times – but they are the best of career highlights.

New Zealand national rugby union team

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Meeting your legal obligations with safety warnings and such does no have to be boring

In fact if customers are involved – you should really try hard to make it fun – make it a point of difference.

If memory serves – Southwestern Airlines in the USA was the first to inject a little humour into the safety briefing such as, “There are 50 ways to leave your lover, but only 6 ways to leave this aircraft” and many more.

Seems many airlines from around the world including our own Air New Zealand has picked up on this and made it their own. I recently saw their new video safety briefing that features several All Blacks, (New Zealand‘s National Rugby Team), and Graham Henry, their coach. My favorite line was “If  you need to smoke on this flight – consider yourself dropped” (from the team)

This appeals hugely to any red blooded Kiwi. And if you don’t know how significant the All Blacks are to New Zealand – try asking one of us – we’ll be only too happy to tell you just how significant and how good they are.

So the question for today becomes – How can you turn something you HAVE to do in your business into something fun? And not only for your clients – what about the staff (” Oh no – not the Monday meeting again”)

Oh – and if you want to see Air NZ’s video – go here:

And with this sort of attitude I don’t think its a coincidence Air NZ continues to be profitable while many other airlines are stumbling along.

$11,000 Car Wash Follow Up

Posted: August 30, 2010 in Marketing

Well here is a business that seems to be listening to my advice about doing something different – but hasn’t quite got the hang of it yet… How would you turn this into a winner?

Unique service, but not quite what I meant

Not Another Boring Coffee Shop

Posted: August 30, 2010 in Marketing
Tags: , ,
Back to the Future

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Gizmodo is one of my favorite tech sites and they feature a coffee shop that stands apart from it’s boring competition.

The Wormhole, a coffee shop in Chicago, celebrates geek culture with a DeLorean parked right inside the shop. How could you not walk in if you see this on the street? You are a human with a heart, right?

Read the rest and see the photos here:

Great targeting an audience (Geeks) – to the point it might even turn other market segments off.

But it got this shop world-wide publicity. I’ll bet if any of you are going to Chicago soon that its tempting to check this place out?

So – What can you do that makes as strong a statement about your business, while being completely consistent with your vision, goals and targets?

What would get you global publicity – simply because it’s on message AND different?

Longer maceration at high temperature can brin...

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This post has come about by two seemingly unrelated events and a nice glass of wine…

Event One: Seth Godin gave a fascinating speech recently to a skeptical book publishing industry – virtually pleading with them to wake up and avoid the mistakes the music industry made when addressing the change online digital media forced upon their industry. Seth outlined how they MUST gather a tribe – that leading an audience is more important that owning products and patents. (And he is right!)

Event One-and-a-half: Magazine industry heavyweights are in a battle with Apple. They want to sell their product via iTunes – but they also want to own the information about the subscribers – after all the magazine business understands the value of the subscriber data better than the book, music and movie industries appear to. Apple believes its customers are its own and that data is private between Apple and its iTunes subscribers. The media continue to blast Apple for ‘knowing whats best’ and not be more open.

In effect – they have a Seth ‘Tribe’ and continue to pick and choose the products they wish to offer ‘their’ followers. Magazine owners have lost their biggest asset and didn’t see it coming. They have no choice but to compromise and work with Apple, Amazon and any other platform that represents a tribe.

Event Two: Facebook‘s recently got a lot of negative press about opting you in by default to public sharing of information. Whether you were OK with this or not – a lot of debate centered around Facebook making decisions on your behalf – and not making them conscious opt-in choices for you.

The Glass of Wine: My initial reaction was in line with old-think: “Boo Apple – let me choose” – but then i thought that through a bit more. As Facebook user – I do not want the rules changed without my approval – I now do not trust Facebook as much as I trust Apple and Amazon. I am comfortable giving these two organisations my credit card number and address details to make future purchases easier. I would not give this sort of information to Facebook in a million years. And there is the key insight for you:

If your customers give YOU information – treat it as you would a rare and precious gift. Don’t on-sell it. Don’t rent your customer list out. Don’t contact your customers using invented reasons to thinly disguise a naked sales drive.

Do this – and your customers will reward you with trust – and that is the most precious gift that Seth and some companies get – while the rest seem stuck in a 1930’s version of the catalog business.

So – what information do you have about your customers? How can you increase their trust in you by demonstrating to them your respect for their privacy (actions – not words)

HINT: Think of the quintessential English butler – the one that sees you at your best, worst and everything in between, knows your habits, anticipates your needs, but always acts with utmost discretion to the point you completely trust them with your life.

Forearmed is forewarned so the old saying goes – and I hope this is true for you and your business.