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Average

Okay, it’s true. In every category, in every profession, half the people are below average.

This matters to marketers.

It matters because if you expect your customers to be smarter than average, you’ve just lost half the potential market. It matters because if succeeding in a project requires exceptional effort, you better realize that not just any team member is going to make it work–actually less than half of the pool might.

Same with the consultants, designers and yes, lawyers that you hire.

Mass marketing works best when it assumes that everybody in the entire chain is just plain average. Or even a little bit less. Sorry to lower your expectations.

Niche marketing, on the other hand, can thrive if it starts with the assumption that average products by average people for average people is just not your thing. Remember, though, that your sales expectations have to be in line with your niche mantra. Be picky. Make great stuff. Work with amazing people. Just don’t expect everyone to love what you do.

Closed, for your convenience

Office_hours
Bill S. sends us this great example of misguided customer "service."

Heal thyself

Save the date: upcoming seminars

I’ll announce all the details next week, but I wanted to give you some advance notice. I’ll be doing a very small group whiteboard session in my office outside of NY on June 1, and a session for a slightly larger group in NYC on June 15th. Thanks to everyone who has written to cajole me into doing these. More soon.

Indispensable

Michael Dell could leave tomorrow and his company would do just fine.

Lee Raymond, retiring from ExxonMobil with $400 million, won’t affect the company much at all by leaving. (They might not even notice the missing cash…)

If Jeff Jarvis quit, though, all his readers and clients would notice. Immediately. He’s indispensable.

Before Tom Peters wrote The Brand Called You with Alan Webber at Fast Company, the idea that a single person would be much more than a convenient public face was considered a little nutty. Successful companies were big companies, big companies had assets and people were cogs.

Sure, there were the Lee Iacoccas and Victor Kiams and Frank Perdues, but generally, successful marketing and entrepreneurship was defined as building an enterprise bigger than you, an organization which made money while you slept, a company where you were, ahem, dispensable.

Five years later, it seems to have sort of snuck up on us. Now, there are tens of thousands of people out there where being "that" person is the career, is the business, is the next job. Not just micropreneurs and freelancers… but employees and experts and programmers as well.

What would it take to make yourself indispensable? Do you even want to be?

Tech issues

Apologies, but we’ve got some IE issues with the blog. Our fault, sorry. We’re working on it.

For those ready to switch, I can vouch for the improvement Firefox will give you. Quick and easy.

Please go away (angry)

If you’ve got more than one person in your organization, you probably have a policy or two.

And those policies have certainly made someone angry. Now what?

Yesterday, I ran into one of those policies at the cell phone store. Try as I might, I couldn’t get the clerk or his manager to see how ridiculous the policy was, or get them to show any ability to work with me on it.

So, the company gave me the following choices:
a. admit that you are wrong and we are right and do business with us on our terms no matter how much it annoys you.

b. decide that compromising your principles or the way you want to do business isn’t worth it, decide that we are pathetic morons and leave angry.

Why would you only give your team these two options when dealing with prospects and customers?

The obvious answer is a lot more flexibility in the front line. But of course, that’s tricky and expensive and sometimes impossible. I think, though, that there’s an easier piece of first aid that every organization ought to install. It costs very little and it gives you another chance.

Give the team one more form. And here are the instructions:

When a customer is really upset about a policy or a procedure or something we did, and the only alternative appears to be telling them to go away angry, pull out this form. Explain (only if it’s true) that you are disappointed that they’re upset. Explain (if it’s true) that you agree that the policy is stupid and doesn’t make sense in their case.

Then, working as a team, write up the situation. Work WITH them, egging them on. Get all the details on this form, let them explain to you and to themselves what the problem is. Get their contact info.

When you’re done, thank them for helping you (it’s true, they are helping you!), then fax the form to the CEOs direct fax number.

No, the person won’t get satisfied that minute. But they won’t leave angry, either.

That and you just might get rid of a few policies and save a few customers.

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