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Excerpt from my new book

(actually, it’s not really an excerpt. It’s a short, puffy one page promotional come on.)

While my new blog gets the kinks out, here’s the pdf I promised on my new Liar’s blog (below).

Download Liarsexcerpt.pdf

Thanks for your patience.

My new book, my new blog

My new book is out in eight weeks.

For the next 56 days, a brand new blog, free excerpts, provocative pieces sure to be misunderstood and even more to read for free:

Seth Godin – Liar’s Blog.

Go ahead, be the first on your block.

Brand loyalty

via Sanj:

Yahoo! News – Japanese woman tackles burglar to save designer wallet.

"I was scared, but I was desperate because he was trying to steal my bag with my precious Louis Vuitton wallet inside,"

All Marketers...

Visa Trickery (one of many)


Perhaps because there’s so much money at stake, but credit card companies do far more than their share of lying.

Eric Myers points out this nefarious fraud. The catch? Even though it seems embossed, there is no credit card inside. It’s designed to trick you into opening a solicitation for a new card, even though there’s no card inside.

Of course, even though envelopes with cards get opened more, I wonder what the rate of success is with consumers who say, “Oh, they tricked me! There was no card. i guess I should sign up for whatever they’re selling… they seem trustworthy.”

ICE – Improving Customer Experience

Expectations Matter (Part 1 of my visit to Apple)

My Mac is fried (long story).

[if you sent me email in the last two weeks, it’s gone. I hope to have it back soon, but it couldn’t hurt to write again if you’re waiting to hear from me!]

anyway, at noon I headed over to the Mac store in the Palisades Mall north of NYC. My expectations were very low. I had no appointment, figured there’d be a huge line and a not very well trained person.

It turns out I waited one minute. One. The person who helped me, Daniel Cilmi, was terrific. He removed my drive, enabling me to send it out for data recovery. He charged me nothing and promised to have a new drive installed by Wednesday.

I’ll tell this story to 20 people in person and to all of you right now. This is worth WAY more than a superbowl ad, that’s for sure.

Then, pushing my luck, Saturday night I headed out to get the missing "h" key fixed on my other laptop. This time, I even had a reservation. Headed to a different Mac store in a different mall.

Yikes

The place is swarming with iPodders. There is only one genius there (one other guy flits in and out) and he’s surly. The other staff in the store are no help. The atmosphere in the room is tense and close and the staff is clearly projecting a "two more hours on the shift" vibe.

I didn’t get any help Saturday night… we left an hour after the appointment with no help.

Suddenly, what seemed like a spectacular bonus, an expectation-busting new way of delighting customers has turned into an annoying tax, a fake, a wished-for mirage that didn’t materialize.

All Apple had to do was change my expectations before the second visit. They could underschedule the genius bar, putting fewer people through per hour, but delighting those they helped. They could follow some of the steps in the next posting. They could staff it with happy people instead of surly ones.

Most of all, they could realize this, "Don’t bother engaging with customers unless you are prepared to invest enough to exceed expectations and delight them. It’s better to do nothing at all."

Treat different customers differently (part 2 of my visit to Apple)

My friends Jackie and Ben (church of the customer)  will probably agree with me– here goes:

Apple forgets that all customers are not the same. They make the common mistake of believing that every pair of feet that walks in the door is worth just the same as the feet before and the feet after.

My negative Apple store experience last night was the sort of thing that any of my esteemed readers could troubleshoot in less than six minutes.

Problem 1: The geniuses at the Apple bar treat ipod owners like g5 owners. The guy in front of me in line had not one, not two, but three machines with him. He was shlepping $10,000 worth of hardware. That doesn’t include the fact that a heavy Mac user buys a new machine every year or two, and if she runs a company, buys 20 or 200 at a time. An iPod owner, on the other hand, has an expensive toy that he can certainly live without for a day or two.

Why is a genius spending his time wisely when he futzes with an ipod for fifteen minutes while the guy with three Macs just sits there?

The trivial solution: Envelopes! Give anyone with a broken iPod a postage-paid padded envelope. Have them fill out a form online (see my idea below) and drop it in a mailbox. The mail takes the broken ipods to cheap locations where they are quickly triaged and replaced.

Problem 2: For a computer company, Apple is doing a lousy job of using a database to track their very best customers. In order to get on line to meet a genius, you need to type in your first name into a queuing system running on all the machines in the store. Shouldn’t the system where you reserve your slot with the genius be able to figure out who you are and treat you accordingly?

Aside: As long as we’re talking about consumers and treating people with respect, it’s essential to remember this: people don’t remember how long it took them to get service. They remember what the wait was like.

If i were running the genius bar, I’d keep the people waiting superbusy. First, I’d use one (or more) of the many Macs in the store to have people type in their serial number, name, problem, etc. This is all currently done by the genius, which wastes everyone’s time. More important, it would make the customer an active part of the repair process, which would make everyone more engaged and happier.

For iPods, I’d go a lot further. It turns out that there are only three or four things that are wrong with 99% of all the iPods. So why not have a computer-assisted diagnostic station that people could use to reboot or diagnose their iPods with no help at all? Sort of like self serve gas. If, at the end of the process, the machine agrees that the thing is dead, it would print out a receipt and boom, you get a new one.

Apple’s going 90% of the way but more often than not, alienating the very people they were hoping would become engines of postive word of mouth. Matt, the aggressive guy with the iPod, said this when he found out his player was dead, "What! I have to wait a week? Can’t i just pay the difference in the price and upgrade right here to a new model?" The answer, "We’re not affiliated with the retail people. You have to wait until we mail you one."

Huh?

Not affiliated?

Have to wait?

Won’t take more money?

The Genius Bar is genius. But it needs a whole bunch of tweaking. Sort of like the way you treat your customers?

Moral: Every customer touchpoint needs to be actively reavaluated.

"Could we treat our best customers better?"

"Can we change the story people tell themselves in between the time trouble starts and the time it’s gone?"

"What are we doing that we’ve always done, instead of what we should do?"

Don’t Shave That Yak!

The single best term I’ve learned this year.

Apparently turned into a computer term by the MIT media lab five years ago, yak shaving was recently referenced by my pal Joi Ito. (Link: Joi Ito’s Web: Yak Shaving)

I want to give you the non-technical definition, and as is my wont, broaden it a bit.

Yak Shaving is the last step of a series of steps that occurs when you find something you need to do. “I want to wax the car today.”

“Oops, the hose is still broken from the winter. I’ll need to buy a new one at Home Depot.”

“But Home Depot is on the other side of the Tappan Zee bridge and getting there without my EZPass is miserable because of the tolls.”

“But, wait! I could borrow my neighbor’s EZPass…”

“Bob won’t lend me his EZPass until I return the mooshi pillow my son borrowed, though.”

“And we haven’t returned it because some of the stuffing fell out and we need to get some yak hair to restuff it.”

And the next thing you know, you’re at the zoo, shaving a yak, all so you can wax your car.

This yak shaving phenomenon tends to hit some people more than others, but what makes it particularly perverse is when groups of people get involved. It’s bad enough when one person gets all up in arms yak shaving, but when you try to get a group of people together, you’re just as likely to end up giving the yak a manicure.

Which is why solo entrepreneurs and small organizations are so much more likely to get stuff done. They have fewer yaks to shave.

So, what to do?

Don’t go to Home Depot for the hose.

The minute you start walking down a path toward a yak shaving party, it’s worth making a compromise. Doing it well now is much better than doing it perfectly later.

All Marketers...

Milton Glaser is a Liar

Milton Glaser is a world-famous designer. Here is a list (some are lies he and his clients participate in) (from an old speech):

  1. Designing a package to look bigger on the shelf.
  2. Doing an ad for a slow, boring film to make it seem like a light-hearted comedy.
  3. Designing a crest for a new vineyard to suggest that it has been in business for a long time.
  4. Designing a jacket for a book whose sexual content that you find personally repellent.
  5. Designing a medal using steel from the World Trade Center to be sold as a profit-making souvenir of September 11th.
  6. Designing an advertising campaign for a company with a history of known discrimination in minority hiring.
  7. Designing a package for children whose contents you know are low in nutrition value and high in sugar content.
  8. Designing a line of t-shirts for a manufacture that employs child labour.
  9. Designing a promotion for a diet product that you know doesn’t work.
  10. Designing an ad for a political candidate whose policies you believe would be harmful to the general public.
  11. Designing a brochure for an SUV that turned over frequently in emergency conditions known to have killed 150 people.
  12. Designing an ad for a product whose frequent use could result in the user’s death.

Thanks to Billy Sobczyk for the pointer.

All Marketers...

The value of style

I took this photo last summer at a hotel in the Hamptons where i attended a meeting.

When you buy a hotel, the only thing you need is a dark, quiet room and a decent bed. But that’s pretty cheap. What you’re paying for is the story–all the little things that make you believe you’re getting way more than just a room.

This sign is certainly functional, but it adds no value. It has no flair, no excitement, no promise of wonder or quality.

If you asked your customers, “would you like better signs?” the answer would be, “of course not! We want lower rates or bigger portions at breakfast!” But a walk down the beach to a hotel that charges three times as much wouldn’t find pancakes that are three times better. It would, instead, reveal a sense of style that’s worth paying for.

All Marketers...

Was it the tools that made Ernest…

Hemingway?

It’s just a little notebook. Paper. A rubber strap.

Yet the story, the story that says it was the key tool of the great European writers gives me pause every time I pick it up. Maybe this time, maybe, just maybe, some of the magic will rub off on me.

The same thing happens when you use Tiger’s golf clubs or Bob Vilas’ jigsaw.

Thanks to Jason Berberich for the pointer to the story.

Moleskine

berbs.us: The Moleskine Story