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Re invent an industry

Goal: make it viral. Springwise: Group dating.

The lawyer in the marketing department

Actually, all your lawyers are in your marketing department.

Most lawyers view their job as a defensive one. They use phrases like, "keeping you out of trouble."

Unfortunately, when they interact with the public or with a partner or even a landlord, they are marketing your organization, whether they want to or not.

Consider the case of a drugstore chain that accidentally sent out a second rebate check (for $4) to hundreds or thousands of customers. The lawyer drafted a note telling customers (remember, these are the valuable ones, the ones that take action) to discard the second check. Included this line:

We are informing you of this error so you do not incur returned check fees
from your bank, since the check is not valid. Please destroy the duplicate

So, in other words, if you cash the second check by mistake, you’re going to have to pay your bank a $25 bounced check fee on a $4 check because of an error the drugstore made.

One of my favorite lawyers has come to understand that she can do better for her company, negotiate better deals and build better, more profitable customers by acting like a marketer first, a lawyer second.

Scratch that.

Acting like a marketer first is being a good lawyer.

Don’t take this advice

Robert Bruce just figured out how to advertise his poetry. The First Official Advertisement On This Site.

It works, of course, because it’s obviously authentic. Because it piques your curiousity. Because he’s a real person. Because it hasn’t been done this way before, or at least not that you’ve seen.

And then, when everyone does it, it won’t work any more.

The paradox of pictures

I got busted at the Stop and Shop this morning.

It turns out that there are now even more than 19 flavors of Oreos. So I needed a photo of the new flavor for my presentation. The manager saw the flash and ran over. He made it clear that I needed permission from corporate headquarters to take pictures, and followed me around the store to make sure I didn’t take any more illicit photos.

Compare this to the easiest way in the world to attract a crowd at a trade show–hire some folks to film your booth, preferably with bright lights, Bauer battery packs and a big-ass camera. Sure enough, people will show up, like moths to a candle.

The irony of the Stop & Shop approach is that the people who you don’t want taking pictures–snoopy journalists or competitors–can easily conceal their cameras and you’ll never know. But the raving fans, the bloggers, the folks twisted enough to want to take and flickrize their supermarket experiences are your friends.

Of course, Ahold (owner of S&S) has every right to discourage shoppers from photography. So does Disney. But Disney learned a long time ago that flipping the funnel and letting tourists become your salesforce is a great idea. In an experience economy, where a bear workshop or furniture superstore is a form of tourism, photography is part of the deal. (Thanks to Rob Clark for the illustration).

Dial 300 for Harry

You should go mattress shopping.

I did, today.

I admit, I don’t think I’ve ever been mattress shopping before. What an astonishing experience. If you don’t believe the "storytelling" riffs in Liars, this will convert you. It’s an entire room filled with virtually identical objects, varying in price by as much as 2,000%. And while you can lie down on any of them, lying down on a mattress is totally different from sleeping on one over a decade.

All you can buy is the story.

However, this isn’t a post about the story. It’s a post about the phone on the Sleepy’s salesman’s desk. Our sales guy, who was outstanding by the way, explained that all 400 stores in the chain are owned by one guy, and that the instructions are clear: if there’s anything in the store, anything important, that’s broken and not fixed within 72 hours (including policies, prices, inventory, whatever), his job is to pick up the phone and dial 300.

And Harry Acker, the owner, the billionaire, answers. "This is Harry." And you tell him and he fixes it.

I love that.

Even better… every once in a while, the phone rings. It’s Harry. "What’s up?" he asks. And if you tell him good news, he hangs up on you.

I think I’m glad I don’t have Harry’s job. But I was (amazingly, surprisingly, shockingly) glad I shopped there today.

More on stories

Zahor sends us to: Tribewanted: Adventure Island – Chief’s Blog.

It may be a gimmick, but it is very definitely a story.

“No” to average

One of my favorite conversations goes like this.

"Oh, by the way, I read your book Purple Cow. I liked it a lot. I even underlined some paragraphs."

"Thanks!" I say. Underlining is the goal of people in my line of work.

"I can imagine that it’s really helpful to a lot of people. Unfortunately, in my [business/organization/line of work], most of what you write about doesn’t really work."

The reason it’s such a good conversation is that people in every possible line of work have managed to tell me that the ideas don’t apply to them… and that gives me a chance to ask them more details about what they do–and within a minute or two, we’re both jumping up and down, excited with the possibilities of how it does work in their line of work. Ministers, freelance photographers, real estate agents, middle managers, web site marketers–doesn’t matter, it always seems to come down to one thing:

Say no to being average.

This morning, Bradley was explaining to me that it couldn’t work in his profession as a freelance writer. It seems that almost all the clients want average stuff. Which no surprise, since average is, by definition, the stuff most people want. I asked, "Are there any writers in your field who you hate because they get paid way too much compared to your perception of the effort they put in and the talent they have?"

"Sure," he said, feeling a little sheepish about being annoyed by their success.

"And how do they get those gigs?"

It’s because they stand for something. Because they are at the edges. Because if an editor wants a ‘Bob-Jones-type’ article, she has to call Bob Jones for it… and pay Bob’s fees. Bob would fail if he did average work for average editors just to make a living. But by turning down the average stuff and insisting on standing for something on the edge, he profits. By challenging his clients to run stuff that makes them nervous (and then having them discover that it’s great), he profits.

This is scary. It’s really scary to turn down most (the average) of what comes your way and hold out for the remarkable opportunities. Scary to quit your job at an average company doing average work just because you know that if you stay, you’ll end up just like them. Scary to go way out on an edge and intentionally make what you do unattractive to some.

Which is why it’s such a great opportunity.

Creativity and Fear

Cynthia reminds me of something I said to her at a seminar a while ago:

"The enemy of creativity is fear…In the long run, the enemy of fear is creativity. I’m sure of it."

Very straightforward thinking about landing pages

Razors and blades

If you buy an inkjet printer, odds are the manufacturer lost money on your purchase. HP sells the deskjets for as cheap as they can… because they know they’ll make a killing on the cartridges.

So, if you were HP, it would seem like the best thing to do is to be sure that people are using your printers, and keep using them for as long as possible.

Not so. I just called HP for help with a driver for my 18 month old printer. They won’t help me on the phone… it’s out of warranty.

Of course, if I buy a new one, the driver will still need help, and they will have lost money on my purchase of the machine that replaces the perfectly good machine on my desk.

Lesson 1: careful with those policies.
Lesson 2: razors should last a long time and be extremely well supported if you hope to sell more blades.

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