Blog

April 2015 - PS Insights

COURTESY DISCONNECT

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Now that April 15 has come and gone, we learned of a new way the IRS has been handling call overload. The caller gets a message that the line is going to “courtesy disconnect” and then the line hangs up. (Pictured: Commissioner John Koskinen explaining to Congress the consequences of budget cutting.) What outrageous spin have you been victimized by as an excuse for unacceptable service?

“SNOW” GO

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Several years ago we wrote about the popular misconception that the Inuit have dozens of words for “snow” (they don’t). Recently, we’ve identified a much bigger group who use one word with a thousand variations: Parents and the word “no.” Are you consistent in your communication or do you leave wiggle room that creates confusion and hysterics?

CHOOSE BEAUTIFUL

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Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign has a new spot. Two doorways are presented to women around the world: Over one is the word “Average” and the other says “Beautiful.” No instructions—but a dividing lane so every woman approaching has to choose which door they want to walk through. We salute the Ogilvy and Dove teams for their continuing commitment to present situations that challenge women about their self perceptions in an effort to raise their self-esteem. How do you marry prosocial communication with business momentum?

YOU GOT OUR ATTENTION

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Steve recently received a photo ticket in LA for running a red light. If the ticket was $100 or so, he’d have paid it, shrugged, and been more cautious at intersections at 2am. But the ticket was for $525! (Yes, folks, that’s not a typo.) Not only won’t Steve ever run a red light in LA, he’ll never again go through a yellow and might even stop at green if he thinks it might change. It’s a price that certainly gets your attention. But in this age of Ferguson injustice, what about a poor person? Someone for whom $525 represents 3% or 4% of their entire annual income? One man’s deterrence is another man’s cruel and unusual punishment. How do we balance law, revenue and justice?

FIXING McDONALD’S

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America’s food tastes are changing—and the impact is being felt on the bottom line of the world’s largest Quick Serve food purveyor. Every day we read another business, food or feature article about how to “fix” McDonalds. So many, in fact, that if each of those pundits would actually eat one meal in a McDonalds, the company wouldn’t be in trouble. In our next life, we want to come back as pundits: having opinions without having to deliver any results. Which are you expert at? Stating the problems or activating the solutions?

NEWSPEAK vs ERUDITION

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We recently commented on the Orwellian use of the phrase “Religious Freedom” to mean “Religious Intolerance.” A story about the ouster of the University of Mississippi prexy Daniel Jones shows the power of great rhetoric. Dr. Jones rejected Ole Miss’s backpedaled request for him to stay, saying, “I feel strongly, as do most of my advisors, that serving two years….would make it difficult to…continue our momentum.” What a delicious, gravitas-laden phrase “most of my advisors” is. Much more credible than “My lawyer and my wife think…” From now on, we no longer have attorneys or spouses. We now have an Advisory Council. How do you use language to enhance your credibility?

PURPOSE

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Ferrari had a dreadful racing season last year, failing to win or even take second place in any of the races. It was no surprise that the chairman of Ferrari, Sergio Marchionne, summarily dismissed the team principal and appointed Maurizio Arrivabene (pictured) to revive the marque’s fortunes. At the press conference announcing his appointment, Arrivabene was asked what his goals were for the team in 2015. He laid to rest any question of his objectives when he said, simply, “A Ferrari that isn’t winning isn’t a Ferrari.” Do your team leaders have that level of brand clarity and focus?

SET IT AND FORGET IT

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The days of set-it-and-forget-it marketing are long gone. It seems no sooner have you finished a major marketing project than it’s time to do it over. We were reminded of this as we are deep in the redesign of our (now outdated) website (for the fifth time in six years). Do you revisit work you think is “finished,” or do you just cross it off your ToDo list and hope for the best?

CHOICES, CHOICES

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Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather finally agreed to face off in the ring. A boxing match that’s been much requested and much demanded by boxing fans. The date is May 2nd. The same day (and time) as the wedding of Steve’s son, Max. Steve called Max to explain why he wasn’t going to be able to make the reception, and Max just laughed: “You’re the third call I’ve gotten today. Looks like closed-circuit TV at the Chuppah is now part of the ceremony.” How do you accommodate your customers’ needs?