February 2013 - PS Insights


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Paul recently had his eyes examined. The medication to dilate his eyes was annoying and long-lasting. At the follow-up, he questioned whether it had to be so extreme? It didn’t, it wasn’t and both discomfort and recovery were much relieved. Do you question the experts on your best care, their diagnosis or next steps? In marketing and in life, it could lead to a happier, better result.


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Steve lost a bet the other day when he mispronounced “dour.” He rhymed it with “sour” (as most of us do). Turns out the correct pronunciation rhymes with “newer.” Paul’s bet is that people won’t understand Steve if he uses the correct pronunciation and will think he’s a “doer.”  An interesting case of right is wrong and wrong is right. What “correct mistakes” have you noticed out there? (Oh – and Microsoft SpellCheck accepts both “Mispronunciation” and “Mispronounciation” as acceptable. But let’s not get started on spelling…)


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Steve’s mentor used to break up pointless meeting discussions by calculating the cost of the meeting (participants’ hourly salaries times the number of minutes the meeting was running). Well, there are now a number of free “meeting calculator APPs” which will let you do that automatically. We think it’s a fun—but valuable—tool. When was the last time you calculated how much each of your meetings costs?


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We’ve been working with some Millennials and marveling at their approach to new business ideas. We were taught to have the idea, evaluate it, determine its viability, test it, etc., etc. Their approach is have the idea, do it and then figure out all that other stuff later on. It’s a really interesting way to go because it’s easier and cheaper to put ideas into the marketplace than ever before. So, sure – fire! (not surefire). If you take enough shots, one of them may hit and hit big. What are you doing to challenge your “old think” to go with the flow?


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Steve recently took his Scottish terrier, Huxley, with him to an advertising competition he was judging. Hux was perfectly well behaved until at one point he walked up to a piece of print advertising that was on the floor waiting to be judged. He sniffed at it, lifted his leg and peed on it. Turns out the judges agreed with his assessment. Just a coincidence or should we trust the instincts of man’s best friend?


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Leave it to the Japanese to invent the Haiku form of PowerPoint: Pecha Kucha. The rules are: make a 20-slide presentation with each slide on the screen for exactly 20 seconds and no copy on the slides. The slides are all driven by the visual as your voiceover carries the narration. It’s an interesting and fun exercise to deliver compelling content in a little over 6 ½ minutes. We don’t recommend Pecha Kucha as your new way of presenting. But we certainly endorse better content, better delivered in shorter increments of time.


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While marketers talk about moving the customer to the center of the conversation, there’s another customer trend taking place: Customer, Serve Thyself. This can play two ways: customer convenience or customer rip-off. Where it makes the customer’s life easier, we’re in favor. But when it asks the customer to do the store employee’s job, we’ve got a problem. So where do retail “self check-out” machines fit in your definition?


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We’re both big fans of Subway’s $5 foot-long initiative from the customer’s point of view (Steve actually eats there occasionally. Steve’s actually losing weight). It was an inspired marketing idea and it has revolutionized economy lunch. But recently they were called out for the foot-long measuring 11”. Another example of “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.” Do all your marketing initiatives measure up?


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We went through a big snowstorm in the East last week. And we noticed a classic pattern. Everyone runs out before the storm to buy bread, milk and eggs – even if they don’t eat bread, milk and eggs. Who would have thought that fear of storms is a great opportunity to sell people on home made breakfast — french toast, eggs and omelettes, toast and jam, whatever? What occasions can you capitalize upon to put your products center stage?


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Our blog about “Best in Class” generated a number of comments. We shared one reader’s observation that the phrase is meaningless and should be abolished. Another reader sent us his definition of what “quality” is:

  1. Fulfills its purpose
  2. Meets or exceeds expectations
  3. Initial perceived value
  4. Continued value over time
  5. Value is transferrable

Sounds like a good set of criteria to us. What’s your definition of Quality?