We’re not fans of hitting someone when they’re down – but we have no trouble hitting them when they’re already out. In the case of Borders, their Going Out of Business sale is emblematic of everything they’ve done wrong all along. Their latest “40% Off” sale is anything but. It’s a come-on to bring you into the store, but the discounts are more like 20% and that’s off RETAIL price, not the normal discount price. It’s just another example of not pleasing the customer, which goes a long way to explaining why they’re going out of business.
July 2011 - PS Insights
We were in Chicago recently to lead a marketing session and were called out in a power restaurant as being from New York. When we asked how they knew, they said “Jacket and jeans.” We had no idea that outfit was such a New York giveaway. What’s your “uniform?”
Our friend, Shepard Kramer, quizzed us on the three tastes people most savor: potatoes, salt & sugar. These are the three ingredients that make up McDonalds french fries, the menu item for which McDonalds is most renowned. Combining the things people like best is a winning proposition. What combinations of wonderfulness do you deliver?
Some recipes are carefully guarded secrets. The formula for Coca-Cola. The spices in KFC. The flavor of Heinz ketchup. Each of these brands is thought to be the taste pinnacle in their categories. Part of their cachet is the special recipe, the “secret sauce.” What “secret sauce” do you build into your brand or business that makes it so specially desireable?
Salespeople have been noticing this phenomenon for years – and now it’s prevalent across the entire business landscape: different generations want to be communicated to in different ways. Boomers in business will still check their voice mail. Gen X’ers look for the email. For Millenials it’s all about texting. Speak to your customers in their language and on their preferred platform, if you want to achieve a meaningful connection with them.
We’re sick and tired of good meetings. Most of the time they’re the result of a bad agenda. Or no agenda. Everyone gets a chance to speak; there’s general good camaraderie; and generally no meaningful conclusion or action step. One good meeting leads to another good meeting. What a collosal waste of time. Don’t schedule a meeting unless you’ve outlined an action agenda that will move the topic forward instead of just moving it around the table and on to another meeting.
Steve has a general rule when it comes to creative revisions. If a client goes into a fifth revision of the copy, Steve brings back (without telling them) the first revision (in other words, the second draft). By that time, it sort of sounds familiar and it usually sounds exactly like what they want to say. Nine times out of ten, they approve this “sixth” revision which is really their first. Original or first instincts are virtually always the best!
Ten years ago, about the safest thing you could do was put all your passwords on a password-protected computer. Today we read news about security breaches and the latest and growing hacking scandal from across the pond. Seems these days, the safest thing you can do is remove all your passwords from your computer and keep them on a piece of paper in your drawer. What’s old again is new again.
Yesterday’s lead story in Ad Age was a piece called “Justin Bieber is So Yesterday.” Trend trackers are all about being provocative – they spot the trends but if they don’t hit, they’re a lot like weathermen, never referencing their incorrect forecasts from yesterday. See which trends you agree with.
It’s a lesson we learned from a friend of ours years ago. Too many of us want to write the first draft perfectly. So we start editing ourselves in our heads before we even put anything down on paper. The result is paralysis. If you want to write well – and effortlessly – don’t edit your first draft. Just put down whatever comes to mind; you can fix it afterwards. In other words, “write drunk. Edit sober.”