What I did today (marketing is where you find it)

Homedepotline_1It’s Sunday, and the local (good) hardware store was closed and there was a spray paint emergency, so off to Home Depot we went.

This is a photo of the line.

No, there’s no impending natural disaster. No one boarding up windows. It’s just 9:30 on a Sunday morning.

There’s more than 40 people waiting!

And then, (sorry it’s shaky) I see that half of the automated checkout machines are broken.Homedepotautocheck

If the machines are productive (and they appear to be, though they aren’t particularly well designed) why not have ten or twenty or fifty not just four (with two broken ones).

It worked with ATM machines… the lesson to anyone visiting Home Depot is: we don’t care, if you want low prices, suck it up and get in line.

Then, I headed over to the local synagogue. My neighbor Michael Brecker, the famous jazz musician, is quite ill (details: Susan Brecker Letter.) The community pitched in and offered a way for us to volunteer for bone marrow transplants, a process that involves giving a swab from inside your cheeks to be scanned, and then, if you are a match, they contact you for the more serious stuff.

Frankly, I was expecting to wait for several hours as I negotiated a tired, volunteer-based system.

What an amazing surprise. The system was cheerful, rational, swfit and beautifully thought out. I worked with three different volunteers (two on forms, one with the swabs) and was done in less than six minutes. Today, this dedicated team is going to process more than 1,000 volunteers in less than four hours.

I left feeling like I had helped out, but I also left feeling impressed with the organization and ready to spread the word to others that might be thinking of volunteering.

I couldn’t help comparing the two processes. Couldn’t help wondering about the difference between people who care and people who don’t, about processes designed to serve all concerned and those designed to stamp out shoplifting…

This is marketing. Advertising, on the other hand, is fun and expensive but very far removed from the real thing.