Monday, July 28, 2014

Finding Bigfoot teaches marketers . . .

Finding Bigfoot is a program that airs on Animal Planet, with four individuals covering the country searching for the elusive creature (whether Bigfoot actually exists, I will leave that up for others to debate).

If you watch it, even one episode, you will find that it can teach us the critical element about marketing. I gave in and watched an episode with my boys the other evening and it occurred to me as to why it has achieved success.

It's about the tribe.

Author, blogger and speaker Seth Godin has written an entire book on this concept of tribes (naturally titled Tribes), and it is in full display with Finding Bigfoot.

The four Squatchers, as they are called, travel to various states in their quest to find further evidence for Bigfoot. One of the four is a self-proclaimed skeptic which adds nicely to the narrative. Part of what they do though, and in my opinion the main part, is they hold town-hall meeting with locals in the area who come out to share their Bigfoot encounters.

Why is this so critical? It's building the tribe, connecting the tribe, and the four Squatchers are, by default, becoming the leaders of this tribe.

As Seth would argue, Finding Bigfoot did not create this tribe. They merely tapped into it, and set up four individuals to lead it. This tribe already existed in large numbers. There are some who are the die-hard believers, some who are not sure, and even some who are just plain curious. Together though they form a tribe large enough to support a television show -- leading Animal Planet to record performances in ratings. It was a tribe ready for a leader, and now they have one.

The episode I watched drove this home because it was a behind-the-scenes look that showed what goes on at the town-hall meetings prior to filming. The Squatchers posed for autographs, photos and simply spent time visiting with those that had come out to share their personal stories.

Then, it followed the Squatchers as they visited Comic-Con in New York City where again they were greeted with autograph-seekers and posed for photos with fans of the show.

The executive producers understood early on, it is not about finding the creature, it is about building the tribe. And, they do this effectively -- in person, online, etc.

The question for us is "Are we spending our time, money and energy trying to create a tribe or find one to lead?" A tribe in existence, waiting for someone to lead them might be the more effective path to success.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Two ways to build customer loyalty

1. Continuously exceed customer expectations and delight them consistently.

2. Recover beyond their expectations when something goes wrong with #1.

Most companies focus on #1 but tend to ignore the opportunity that exists with #2.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Test your brain

Deception specialist Apollo Robbins demonstrates how easily we deceive ourselves by allowing misdirection to occur. 

Learn from this video then see how it applies to the next group of television commercials you see.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Think outside the box.

Think outside the box has come to symbolize the point in the conversation when people are going to think creatively. As if prior to that point everyone has been thinking inside the box.

Who brought the box to the meeting? Whose box is it? Do we each have our own box? Is my box different than yours?

What if we threw the box away? What if we never had the box in the first place?

Let's quit placing parameters on ourselves and embrace the concept that if you can think, then you can think creatively.

Open your mind to the possibilities and understand that you don't have to come up with a great idea, just come up with any idea. Ideas tend to breed other ideas. Once they start growing then you have the potential to develop one, or two, or three, that can be great.

Don't look for a "Eureka!" moment. Be on the lookout for the "Wow, that's interesting." moment.

As for the box, let it serve as a container of supplies, not ideas.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tuition-free, online public school

It's a conundrum for virtual schools. They know the word "free" will attract interest and bring in more leads. Nothing wrong with that, especially if you believe any lead is a good lead.

However, when virtual schools are losing 30-40% of their students each year, one has to wonder if the problem begins with the students being attracted to the school?

"Tuition-free" is a lead-capture phrase, and last time I checked all online public schools are "tuition-free" so I am not sure how that sets one apart from the others. It would be similar to the colas touting themselves as liquids.

However, virtual schools are stuck on features and benefits -- and "tuition-free" is one they just can't get away from because the word free supposedly drives leads.

The question then becomes, is it driving the right kind of lead? Do you want a student to enroll in your virtual school primarily because you are free?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Disney's quinoa customer service

It was four years ago and we had just landed as a family in Orlando, caught the Disney Magic Express, and headed straight to one of our favorite restaurants after checking in at our resort -- Whispering Canyon Cafe. If you have never been to this restaurant, I encourage you to try it out next time you are in Lake Buena Vista -- just be ready if you ask for ketchup.

All was going well, our kids were excited (it was the first trip for our youngest), and we were hungry. One item on the menu had caught my eye: Quinoa Cakes.

Now, keep in mind this was four years ago and quinoa had yet to be "discovered" as the superfood that it is today -- meaning, I had never seen the word before.

The server, dressed in his themed attire, took our orders, and when it was my turn, I proceeded to ask him, "Can you tell me more about the Quinoa Cakes?" -- the only problem, I pronounced it as "kwi noah" cakes.

Without missing a beat and sliding in the correct pronunciation (it is pronounced "keen-wa"), he simply replied, "The quinoa cakes are new to our menu but one of the best we have offered in a long time. They are especially great if you are going into the parks later this afternoon because you will not have a drop off in energy after eating them. So, I highly recommend them to you."

In other words, he corrected my pronunciation and at the same time made me "feel" ok about it.

As marketers, entrepreneurs, and business owners, spend time thinking about how you make your customer feel each time you interact with them. Every time you have a "touch point" with your customer, do they come away feeling better about it? If not, you may be focused on the wrong thing.

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Power of the ENO Story

It was fascinating to watch. No, not the fireworks display though that was our primary reason for being there among the thousands.

What was really fascinating to witness was the number of people who came up and asked my kids what they were hanging out in. You see, when we arrived for the holiday festivities, we did not bring lawn chairs, instead my kids brought their Eagle’s Nest Outfitters -- otherwise known as ENOs for those already in the tribe.

ENOs are basically hammocks on steroids, and the younger generation has claimed them as their own.

So, instead of sitting on the beach, our kids found trees to hang their ENOs, climbed up in them, and enjoyed the evening while several feet in the air.

What was fun though was to see the line of people stop, look, and ask our kids what they were. Clearly they looked like hammocks but everyone knew there was something different about these.

And, as each person asked, the story of the ENO spread. One-by-one they each asked them where they could get one like that. Kids wanted to swing in them, and each went away asking their parents if they could have one.

No marketing dollars were spent yet something remarkable was happening -- an experience was being shared. It was a reminder to me that in order for a story to be shared, it first must be worth sharing.

Spend your time building a product, a service, a school, a business that is worth talking about, worth sharing. Then, build a marketing plan that shares the story already being told to those who want to hear it.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Playing not to lose in the World Cup

Mexico, Chile, and many other countries have found themselves in unfamiliar territory during this World Cup. They took leads on teams they were not supposed to beat. Then, they each forgot what it took to get that lead, and they began to play "not to lose." The aggressiveness went away. The daring went away. The calculated risk taking went away. Instead, they focused on running out the clock.

The end result: the very outcome they tried to avoid became a reality and they have all gone home after losing their games.

It's funny how businesses tend to follow a similar pattern. Start-ups are aggressive, edgy, willing to risk, and willing to try something different. Then, they find a measure of success and fear of loss sets in, and they begin playing not to lose.

The problem? They miss out on the opportunities in front of them -- the ones they were willing to take on, the ones that brought them the first measure of success.

Success can be paralyzing. Take time to determine if you are playing to win, or playing not to lose. Your next opportunity may be passing you by right now.