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Archive for the category “Ideas”

You Don’t Make Connections at the Drive-Thru—(Joe Pesci was right)

drivethruYou love coffee, I love coffee, we all love coffee.  As we all know, it tastes a whole lot better when someone else makes it and you sip it as you walk into the office.  But, you must also get your kids to school and be at work by 8:30am.  So, you rush around and get that morning coffee at the Drive-Thru. Oh, the stories and connections you are missing out on.  Joe Pesci had it right in Lethal Weapon 2, but for different reasons.  I promise if you take the extra five minutes and walk into Dunkin Donuts/Starbucks each morning (…and maybe even throw a buck into the tip jar occasionally) you will start your day off on such a higher level.

There is something about “The Law of Familiarity” that makes people friendlier, and like you more each time they see you.  We tend to be attracted to things we are familiar with.  But, here’s the catch.  The key word is “see” you.  Not Facebook…Not a Tweet….And DEFINITELY NOT an Email.  Engage in even a little conversation, and your coffee server can open all kinds of doors for you.  Maybe even an extra espresso shot here and there.

Be seen, be present, make someone smile.  As hard as Facebook tries, they haven’t figured out a way to capture a real smile and a warm “good morning.” (Or an extra shot of espresso)

The Company That Will Bring It To You…..

captain-kirk-communicatorAs I type this my daughter is on Face Time with her friend on her IPOD Touch.  My ten year old has been using Face Time for about a week and a half. In that time she has become more proficient than Capt Kirk with his communicator. Who could have ever imagined us getting to the point where kids could communicate with their friends in HD quality on a device smaller than a deck of cards—-Wireless! When I was ten I had to share a party line with 5 other families at my grandmother’s house in Maine (I’ll save this for another story). My pointer finger is now about five sizes bigger than the rest of my hand from using the giant rotary dial phone…Tough times.

The funny thing is, growing up we were always told of flying cars and Dick Tracy video wristwatches. It just never seemed to happen, until it did..Slowly but surely most of the Sy-Fy predictions have caught up to us. (Well, except the flying car thing). I remember back in the early 90’s Tom Selleck used to talk about all the great things AT & T was going to do for us. Sending a fax from the beach, attending a meeting in your pajamas, borrowing a book from around the world. As Tom was pontificating about all the futuristic wonders AT& T was about to lay on us, I was still getting used to the AOL guy saying “You’ve got Mail.”   Apparently Steve Jobs watched those commercials too, and he became the guy who brought us a bunch of it. I’m sure AT & T is the infrastructure behind much of the technology, but Apple has a better marketing department

So I hopped on YouTube (the Irony of using Google to look up a commercial about A T & T technology was not lost on me) and went on a quest to find those commercials from the early 90’s. I found them, and they were even more accurate than I remembered..Scary precise. Check out the touch screen on the EBook. This was 1993 when people didn’t know what an EBook, or an Email even was..

So like a crystal ball peering into the future, I present to you a montage of those commercials telling us how great life would be for us very soon. Listening to my daughter giggle with her friends on her $100 IPOD makes me realize we haven’t seen anything yet….Kirk out!

 

 

 

The Confidence of Preparation

You’ve heard it so many times that it’s become a cliché–Be prepared! Normally we think in these terms when it comes to a disaster, much like the east coast did as it prepared for Hurricane Sandy. Generators…water… batteries….those sorts of things. When you have time to prepare for something in advance it builds a sense of confidence. You can take a deep breath and say “come what may, I’ve did all I can.” You can’t put a price tag on that kind of confidence.

Today as certain neighborhoods are humming with the sounds of generators, others bask in sunlight unaffected by the ravages of the storm. You never know when all the preparation will pay off, but that’s the point. Don’t take that generator back to Home Depot because you didn’t use it–Have it ready for next time. Plan out the next step before you have to take it.

What if you  prepared like a storm was coming in all areas of your life? Retirement, a promotion at work, your relationship with your friends and family, your health? Don’t wait until your broke to start saving, don’t wait until you have a heart attack before you start getting healthy. Don’t wait until the storm hits, besides being too late, you lose twice…All the worry about the storm, and the actual storm itself.

Mr. Sunshine

Rainy days are the best time to see clients. People seem to be a little less jubliant when mother nature turns on the waterworks. So if the sun won’t shine, you need to.

Stop by Dunkin Donuts, grab a dozen of the fancies and a few coffees, and drop them off at your best clients. For less than $10 you just lit up a room. Those are the things that separate the good reps from the great ones.  Don’t ask your company to reimburse you.  Just do it. Invest in your own growth

Do these type things  a few times and you will become someone people look forward to seeing. A rainmaker who brings the sunshine.

Pie Are Round!

From the moment I heard my 6th grade teacher say “Pie r Squared” I knew numbers could lie because everyone knows “Pie r Round”.   Flash forward a few years and I’m in first place for a major sales contest.  The top prize will go to the biggest percentage gain.  I was at $50,000 up 10%.  The person who beat me was at $10,000–up 50%.  Drats!  Numbers lied once again, (and now it’s costing me money!)  It didn’t matter that I brought in 5 times more money, what mattered to management  was the percentage increase. 

My latest round of being bullied by the figures?  In the past week I went to a local sporting event.  A three year old on a Casio could have counted up  1,500 people in attendance  in about 30 seconds.  The official number that was released by the team?  3,600…Absolutely crazy…  Numbers can be made to say anything.  I now question everything.  Do four out of five dentists really recommend Colgate?

I know many accountant types will read this and argue that numbers are pure and there is always a right and a wrong.  No arbitrary teacher to give you a C minus on your explanation of WWII.  No sir, right or wrong..No gray area.  The beauty of life by the numbers.   I get all that, and some things in life do come down to right or wrong.  However, when you can make statistics basically say anything,  you come to realize the world has many shades of gray.  The person who knows the facts the best, and can clearly articulate  them, usually gets their way on which shade.

Don’t just take every stat you hear as fact.  Do your own research. Ask your own questions.  The history books are usually written by the victors, and sometimes you need to dig a little deeper.

 

 

 

The Sounds Of Brilliance

All great ideas start out as nothing more than a thought of a dreamer.  Sometimes the dream stays trapped in the cerebral confines of the visionary,  never to  flourish.   Other times the dream is mixed in with the one ingredient that makes it all come together…action.  Without action and forward momentum, ideas just shrivel up on the vine, never to produce any fruits of brilliance.

The world is always looking for something different, something better, something out of the ordinary.  Tim Westergren had a better idea.  Tim was a musician who couldn’t get his songs played on the radio. That scenario probably sums up 99.9% of every musician who ever lived.  Did Tim whine,  complain and say how unfair life is?  No, Tim did the one thing that mediocre minds can’t comprehend—He reinvented the very industry that didn’t want him.  Much Like Mark Zuckerberg did with Facebook when no fraternity would pledge him. 

Tim Westergren started Pandora Radio based on an idea to change the music industry…forever.  The real irony is now terrestrial radio is killing itself to have an online presence to rival Pandora.  It would have taken forward thinking  to embrace Pandora when they were still in the idea stage.  That would have required risk, and many times  the fear of loss is much stronger than the hope of gain.

I am  a huge fan of live, local radio.  It is one of my true loves.  However, I’m not so closed minded to think Pandora doesn’t offer another incredible entertainment experience.  Like a big stack of  your  favorite cd’s. ….and that’s the real point.  People embrace  more ways of entertaining themselves.  Radio listenership is actually  up, even in the era of Pandora. When several restaurants open up next to each other, most of the time they all do better because that area has become a destination… If you watch TV, you can still go to the movies. The world wants choices.

So what’s the next great idea that the purveyors of the status quo think is a joke right now?  I’m sure it’s out there, and it’s probably right under our nose.  Never underestimate a dreamer with a plan to take action, and has something to prove.

Selling A Better Mousetrap–(Or Butter Spray)

In the late 1800’s Ralph Waldo Emerson is given credit for the metaphor that has proceeded every great idea…”Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door”.    The first problem is Mr. Emerson didn’t actually say that quote.  The phrase is actually a misquotation of:

If a man has good corn or wood, or boards, or pigs, to sell, or can make better chairs or knives, crucibles or church organs, than anybody else, you will find a broad hard-beaten road to his house, though it be in the woods.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

The second, and even more important problem with the mousetrap quote, is that it’s just not true.  It’s not enough to have a great idea.  That great idea has to be sold. There is no greater frustration than having a terrific idea shot down.

  In 1987 I had this idea for spray butter.  I was in the Air force at a base picnic and watched as Airman from every walk of life put butter on their ears of corn.  It was painful to watch. ..And kind of gross when they rolled an already bitten piece of corn back onto a stick of butter.  So pecking away at my 1965 Smith and Corona I fired off a bunch of letters to the leading  manufacturers of margarine and butter….My idea?  “Mista” Butter.  (Yes, a ridiculous play on “Mr. Butter”–but my original thought was the butter would spray in a cool mist–Hence, Mista Butter)  I received one letter back, and it politely  told me that they would  hand my letter off to their marketing department.  No grand rewards, no earth-shaking discovery. My little idea just shriveled up and died without the power of persuasion.

When I arrived back in the states several years later, every margarine company in the world had a spray butter.  Go check your refrigerator–I bet you have one in there right now–well, thank me! 

America  knows how to generate ideas.  What the average creative doesn’t know is how to sell them.  Everything has to be sold.  Apple computer’s first ideas came from Steve Wozniak, a brilliant programmer.  The name Apple would have never been a household name  if  the sales guy, Steve Jobs, didn’t pour in his marketing magic. 

Sales, advertising, and marketing are all skills that need to be honed like any other profession.  It takes years of mastery before a salesperson really knows how to motivate the person with the checkbook.  That is why just about every product or service has the sales side and the research/production side.  It takes both left and right brain thinking to get the public to embrace something new.  The number one thing for a company to realize is decision makers aren’t interested in you..They really aren’t.  All they are interested in is solving their own problems.

Even when you do find a way to solve their problems, they still have to be shown and told.  Trust needs to be established.  If your incredible new product scratches the itch and makes your prospects pain go away, you need to prove it.  Over and over again. 

The world doesn’t have an idea problems.  It has selling problems.  If everyone was put on some type of commission plan, the human race would advance 20 years overnight—-And  have plenty of “spray” options–maybe ketchup and mustard would work!?

 
 
 

You Are Supposed To Move On Moving Walkways!

 Sometimes I think technological advances designed to bring people closer together, and make life easier, actually have the opposite effect.  Have you ever been in an airport and watched people just stand on the moving walkways?  They were designed to make everyone move more quickly through the airport, and make the overall flow more efficient.  That is what they were designed to do, but what really happens?  People just stand on them and actually go slower than if they just walked.   I usually just walk along side at a faster pace because I lose patience with the idleness of my fellow travelers.

Same with texting and social media.  The very term “Social” media is actually an oxymoron.  You sit at home “liking” your friend’s status and you feel like you made a connection with them….  But did you? A deeper, richer relationship requires eyeball to eyeball conversation.  So now you don’t have your weekly coffee with your friend because you’re all up to date with each other through social media.  So, in fact, you have become less social with your friends. You used to pick up the phone and talk to someone…Now a text will suffice. 

I’m not saying technology is bad.  I embrace it wholeheartedly.  I just think occasionally we should stop and think if the convenience we experience is actually taking us further from the original goal. I’m sure someone else had the same arguments when the calculator was invented–“Kids won’t know how to add”, was probably uttered by countless people over fifty.

I just think everyone should know the basics…How to write a real letter and mail it…How to have an intelligent conversation with someone without the use of text…How to walk up the stairs without the use of an escalator.  Maybe someday we will all just be giant heads floating around… But until that time,  for all that is holy, when you are using the moving walkways at the airport bend your knees a little!  Or get out of my way–I have a plane to catch!

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