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Competition and the Consumer’s Mind


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Formulas, Goals, and the Battlefield

I usually agree with Seth Godin on most things, but this one is a bit too far out for me.  I’ve included the entire post on his blog below, it short, and also a link to his blog if you want to read any of the comments there.  So take a quick read and I’ll continue below:

Compared to magical

The easiest way to sell yourself short is to compare your work to the competition. To say that you are 5% cheaper or have one or two features that stand out–this is a formula for slightly better mediocrity.

The goal ought to be to compare yourself not to the best your peers or the competition has managed to get through a committee or down on paper, but to an unattainable, magical unicorn.

Compared to that, how are you doing?

- Seth Godin

Formula: Short Sale

I do agree with Godin that many companies sell themselves short.  Always trying to lower the bar in the hope of gaining a few customers.    Where I disagree with Godin on this is that it’s not because of the comparison to competitors, but rather a poor strategy for taking consumers away from those competitors based on the tactics that are short sighted.

Goal: Long Term Relationship

The tactics you use should be based on the principle that your company is seen as the better choice.  There are many areas a consumer could focus to answer this question.  It is your job to make the answer self-evident when it come to comparing your company to your competitors.

The Battlefield

We fight on the battlefield of the consumer’s mind.  It’s one of the smallest battlefield you will ever find yourself on, about 6 inches.   You should create campaigns that, hopefully, take up territory.  And if you do it well, you should hold more ground then your competitors.  The strategy is different for each company.  It is based on the position of your product in the market place and how our competitors currently stand.  We recommend following the “Marketing Warfare” strategies laid out by Ries and Trout.  So make sure your strategy fits your goals.

Because the last time I checked … your consumers aren’t looking to buy Magical Unicorns … and I’m fairly certain you haven’t hired anyone with unicorn making skills recently.

Good Hunting and would love to read your comments on this topic.

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Photo Booth: Icebreaker for All Day Events


Have you ever been to an all day, or all weekend, event and just dreaded the beginning of each day’s start.  The awkwardness of getting to know new people, or people you don’t see often.  The desire of some to just keep their distance and slide into a chair and coast into the event,  hoping their social boundaries aren’t broadened.

Answer: Add a Photo Both

At our last family new year’s eve party, Outa-Tha-Box DJ service came to show off their stuff.  One of the items they brought was their Photo Booth.  After talk with Outa-Tha-Box owner, Paul Compton, about how he handles the Photo Booth Rental.  I learned that the photo booth can be rented by itself, and this got me to thinking.

Have a photo booth at your event to start off each morning.  This is a great item to break the ice.  The photo booth often comes with props.  The printer can print two strips, one for the participants, the second for event host / coordinator.  I have not seen a person come out of the booth without smiling.

Starting Ideas

Here are some contest ideas on what to do with the photo booth at your event.

  1. Most funny face – event attendees get to vote
  2. Most Faces – unique photos without repeating partners
  3. Best Costume - event attendees get to vote
  4. New Friend Game – you must take a picture with someone you don’t know

Just think … you too could have countless memories, like this one with my brother at our New Years Eve Party … at your next event!

Yes that's me on the right!

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6 of Apples Greatest Mistakes


With all the ‘Steve Jobs‘ posts flooding the internet, this one caught my eye.  It is not a Apple bash piece but rather a great object lesson for those that get caught up in the “Aim, Aim, Aim, Ready, Aim, Aim, Fire” mode.

6 of Apples Greatest Mistakes

By Scott M. Fulton, III / October 6, 2011 2:03 PM

Apple III+ computer.

Image via Wikipedia

This is not an Apple-bashing piece. It is also not an attempt to cut an American icon down to size at a time when were remembering the magnificent contributions of its fallen founder. This is about how failure makes us better.Ive lost count of the number of times Ive heard, seen, or read comparisons of Steve Jobs to Thomas Edison since early yesterday evening. Jobs did not invent anything – not the personal computer, not the MP3 player, not the tablet. But besides that fact, there are certain other stark similarities. One: Jobs, like Edison, was a fierce competitor who sought to control not only the delivery channel for his products, but the market surrounding those products. Two: Like the finest scientist, Jobs studied his failures and Apples very carefully, and unlike Microsoft, built his next success upon the smoking ruins of his failures.More Steve Jobs Stories6 of Apples Greatest MistakesSteve Jobs Legacy In the Pantheon of Great American InnovatorsFrom Silicon Valley to Bahrain, the Web Mourns Steve JobsA Great User Experience: The Web Legacy of Steve JobsWhat Steve Meant Back ThenReaders will likely remind me that certain of the

via 6 of Apples Greatest Mistakes.

Marathon Not Sprint

As I mention in my “Failure is not a Title” post, we need to look at things as a long process that we learn from, a Marathon if you will, not a 100 yard dash.  Yes, the above mentioned items are on the bottom of some outhouse of ideas, but the industry learned from then and evolved into what we have today.

Good Hunting

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Customer Service Excellence Examples


My family took the typical last summer vacation before the beginning of school sports seasons and school. My wife planned a surprise two day trip that , which in theory, would keep our four boys, 14 year olds to 5 years old, entertained and exhausted. The location was Gurnee Illinois and the Six Flags Great America theme park with an overnight stay at KeyLime Cove, a new indoor water resort.

On this trip, three examples of customer service excellence surfaced.

Excellent Customer Service Example #1KeyLime Cove

Let me set the stage. It’s 9:45PM and the KeyLime Cove water park closes at 10PM. The tube slide lifeguard, a 6 foot something lean athletic looking young man, has been given the all clear that no other patrons will be coming down the tubes and he can begin his duties of stacking the double and single inner tubes that have just traversed hundreds of water park miles today. But first, he must deal with a small object, a third his size, our 5 year old son, Justin. The noise in the cavernous indoor water park is deafening and causes even people sitting next to each other to speak rather loudly so as to overcome the constant white noise of splashing and falling water.

Our Justin walked over and began a conversation with this end-of-day lifeguard. This young man spent 5 minutes (mind you that’s like 1 hour in adult time) face to face, sometimes only two inches apart, never losing eye contact, always smiling, asking for the occasional high-five when he thought it was appropriate. The young lifeguard probably couldn’t understand or hear the young boys declarations of how this day was just simply awesome and 5-year-old’s attempt to share it with someone. Somehow this young man knew (and maybe has seen this played out several times at KeyLime Cove) the significance of this little person’s desire to share, so he patiently waited while the little man continued expanding on his wonderful day.

We finally took pity on the young worker and asked Justin to return to our sides. I gave the young man a thumbs up and smiled. He also smiled and nodded his head, understanding fully that this was just as much of his job as making sure the patrons were safe while having fun.

Excellent Customer Service Example #2

No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service. We’ve all read this sign. It’s a typical health code requirement in all restaurants. In this case the “No Service” portion was replace with “Exceed your Customer’s Expectations” by the restaurant manager.

The above mentioned Justin had broken his cheap flip-flops during the day’s adventure. Our car was parked about a mile away from the front entrance of KeyLime Cove. I’m tired and I thought that since this was a water park that they would let us slide (no water park pun intended) on the rule. NOPE! They explained that we would have to come back with the correct attire. Something on our son’s face caused the manager to jump into action. She said we should go sit down and she would check if they had any extra flip-flops. EXTRAS?????? Well, I guess it was a water park.

A few minutes later, the manager returned after visiting the upstairs gift shop and placed on my son’s feet a new pair. We offered to pay but she refused, She explained that she noticed how disappointed my son was that we might not be able to eat at her establishment, so she couldn’t allow that to happen.

Excellent Customer Service Example #3KeyLime Cove

At the end of the long day, we still had one special event planned. Our traditional “Un-Birthday” celebration. This is simply a necessity because our families can not attend all the birthday parties of all the different families, so when we do get together, we celebrate one “Un-Birthday” to make up for it.

My sister-in-law brought a sheet of brownies and we wanted to eat it at the restaurant. You can image the typical response from most eateries. Not at this one. The same above mentioned restaurant manager focusing on customer satisfaction jumped in again and took the sheet over to the ice cream parlor area of the restaurant and had it decorated. Not just adding a word or two, but on the borders, and added fruit as well to give it some color. This was really over the top and just capped the end of this two day adventure with a sense of true customer service excellence.

In fact, on the 3 hour ride home, I began to form my thoughts for this post. This small family vacation trip, and the customer service examples forever etched in my mind. And I declared to my wife, “We will be going back there again!”

See also:

Customer Experience Investment Opportunities

Great Customer Service and Peer Recognition

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