How to Ensure Flawless Execution

Effective strategy and flawless execution are inseparable. You cannot have a great strategy without great execution, and in my experience I’m sad to report that brands tend to place more effort and time to developing a strategy and less is given to execution. To avoid failure people must understand what they are responsible for (clear job descriptions with measurable expectations), know the key decision makers, and have access to the information, training and tools they need to complete their tasks. They must practice, practice and then practice some more.  And, they must be tested, tested and tested some more. These systems need to be in place.

ferrari-pit-stopTake a close look at this amazing video of a nearly 20 person Ferrari team changing a tire in a pitstop.  You can be sure that the prep time is longer and that they’ve practiced this effort many, many times to make it flawless.

Each is trained for a specific role and teams take their preparation as seriously as drivers’, managing crewmen’s fitness and diet. They practice hundreds of pitstops until the process is instinctive. Everyone focuses on their own job. In a 2-second pitstop, there is no time to see what everyone else is doing

In the Harvard Business review article, the “Secrets to Successful Execution,” Neilson, Martin and Powers discuss their survey research of more than 26,000 people in 31 companies.

Surprisingly, even in these top companies just two-thirds of their employees agree that important strategic and operational decisions are quickly translated into action. That, is nearly 70% of employees say that their execution efforts are nowhere near flawless.

If you pay as much attention to your execution phase as you do with strategy, I’m sure your profits will rise along with customer satisfaction.

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A Great Demo of How to Wow

In our client strategy sessions, we always discuss “How to deliver a ‘WOW'” because most brands don’t take the time to think how they can create brand buzz – or, believe they can!

Every brand has a ‘WOW” within them – cost effective ones to be nurtured with thought and care – that will effectively separate themselves from their competitors and carve out a unique branded value proposition, awareness etc.

For example, here’s a ‘WOW’ case study right in our own backyard by a small family owned window cleaning company based in Pittsburgh.

Their idea is a cool and commendable story. The idea was a simple lift of one that a firm executed  in another country.

This simple ‘WOW’ paid off big time too. The brand made a more favorable impression with clients, prospects, employees and for its potential little customers that will last a lifetime. In addition, this ‘WOW’ landed the company and its owners on the front page of Pittsburgh’s major daily papers, 6PM and 11PM TV news and more. Do you have a ‘WOW’ cooking NOW?  If not, why not? You can do it and get people buzzing about your brand!
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Have a Happy Father’s Day Every Day

My father died in 1999 and not a day passes by without me thinking of him – he was the best – a good man – and he was my best friend.

He might not be living, but he’s not dead to me.

He knew full well how much he meant to me and how much I loved him. I knew he loved me deeply too.

I was sad when he died, but not devastated because we had nothing left unsaid between us – we had no arguments – just pure love, joy and respect between us – he prepared me well.

When he was living, we talked often, we hugged often, we told each other we loved each other often – we were always connected.

We always knew where we stood together – for we always stood together in the light, in trust, in promise, in hope – in good times and not so good times.

Every day with my Dad was Father’s Day – a day of celebration – and I still celebrate him in many ways each and every day – in prayer, reflection, conversation and more.

If you’re not taking time to thank your Dad (living or in heaven) every day you’re missing a great opportunity to lift his spirit and yours by staying close, staying connected and being happy with your blessings.

It’s OK to have a process – once a day, week etc. – card, email, prayer etc. – just do it – and do it now and again and again. – make it a goal to ‘Have a Happy Father’s Day Every Day.’

This outlook and process is easily transferable to business as well.

For example, how often do you thank your clients, employees, partners, vendors in a meaningful way?

Do they know you care?

Do it now – put a process in place – keep it going – before it’s too late.

You don’t want to be ‘that guy/gal’ who says, if I only would have taken the time to…

Here’s a Father’s Day Gift for you.

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Show and Tell More to Sell More

Just got back in town to Pittsburgh, from two glorious weeks throughout Italy and Switzerland.

Ugh!  What a state of depression I’ve been in since! Can’t wait to go back!

We saw some amazing, breathtaking sights such as the Sistine Chapel, The David (I’m a big Michelangelo fan), The Vatican, Pompeii , the Amalfi Coast, Capri, and much more.

However, one man/woman made creation that simply took my breath away as a marketer was the Gelateria (gelato) stands and stores throughout the various Italian cities we visited. They seemed to be on every street corner!

And, what a merchandiser’s dream of flawless execution.

Believe me, even if you were a severe lactose intolerant individual, you’d cave in to any one of these Italian gelato taste bud blowing experiences.

You would not be able to resist it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

As these pictures show, the merchandising of these Italian Gelateria’s are without peer. And, the taste delivers on the merchandising promise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My question then is, “What are you doing with your merchandising to create a brand experience such as these Gelaterias?”

P.S.: For a great tour guide for Italy, the Holy Land and more, check out Fr. Anthony Nachef’s Proximo Travel. And, tell him Steve Wayhart sent you!

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A WOW Marketing Procedure

Throughout my days as a professional marketer, I could never understand why doctors write with such poor penmanship when giving prescriptions. In fact, the sloppy practice has always annoyed me.

When I’d get a prescription and attempt to decipher it myself, a flurry of questions would race through my mind such as:

Would the pharmacist get my prescription right?
Doesn’t it slow things down and add to unnecessary increases in human errors.
For a profession in which errors can lead to death, shouldn’t processes be handled with more care?
And, who do these elitist doctors think they are?

Well, after struggling with a bronchitis condition for the past 3 months, I finally decided to see my doctor and was amazed, excited, happy and extremely pleased to get my prescription via a computer printout – WOW!

Such a simple procedure, easily taken to the next level and is now REMARKABLE to me. And, I’m sure it’s remarkable to others too.

‘Remark’able I say because I’ve told over 10 people in 2 days about this seemingly small, but most gratifying experience.

With this simple procedural improvement, I’m more jacked about my doctor than ever before. They’re more professional, state-of-the-art etc.

Are there simple practices that you can review and through a few easy steps surprise and delight your customers?

Can you improve your invoices, meeting minutes and more to make them WOW documents and procedures.

I’ll bet you can.  And, if you spruce things up a bit I promise you that your customers will bet on you in the future!

P.S.: Now, I’m sure my doctor isn’t the only one with computerized prescriptions. Which begs the question, “Why didn’t they do this 10 years ago?” Be first, be daring, be different! Why wait for others? Do the right things…right now.

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30 Ways to Wow Now

When was the last time you were truly ‘WOWED?”

I bet you remember the moment because it probably doesn’t happen to you often. And, I’ll bet you’ll agree with me that there’s a depressing lack of “WOW” in the world today!

Merely doing satisfactory things for satisfied customers, friends or family is a ‘greens fee’ today.

However, to make a long lasting impact in your relationships – personal or professional – you have to really ‘bring it” these days. It’s the best way to get others to remember you and to spread your good word to others.

And sadly, the majority of us do not.

We do the least required to get along and wake up wondering why our relationships ended. I suggest that a lot of relationships break up because of a lack of wow and mutual appreciation.

How do you wow?

I find that it’s best for me to practice and plan to wow. What works best for me, is to bake a little wow into my marketing processes so I don’t forget about how to wow.  That is, I work hard to review my tasks in front of and behind me, to see if I have any wow opportunities and then take steps to take advantage of them.

Here are 30 ways to you can wow people now and get ahead in your life.
  1. Say “yes” often
  2. Guarantee results
  3. Be quick to respond
  4. Inspire others to action
  5. Be kind, nice and courteous
  6. Add value to someone’s life
  7. Smile and maintain eye contact
  8. Find ways to surprise and delight
  9. Send handwritten thank you cards
  10. Offer options instead of mandatories
  11. Anticipate others needs and satisfy them
  12. Provide individualized customer service
  13. Be in the moment, focused and actively listen
  14. Write notes when taking input and directions
  15. Have manners – say ‘’please” and “thank you’
  16. Be enthusiastic, optimistic, happy and pleasant
  17. Be sincerely grateful and humble with your successes
  18. Prove your concern with an exacting attention to detail
  19. Be welcoming, approachable, reachable and hospitable
  20. Follow-up regularly to build relationships – reach out first
  21. Be organized, clean and stress free – a welcome, caring refuge
  22. Reward friendship and loyalty with unexpected acts of added value
  23. Get feedback after your actions and provide service “after the sale”
  24. Find out what’s been bothering someone and customize your solution
  25. Be calm, understanding and accept responsibility when you fail or lose
  26. Do ‘remark’able signature work with the basics and in any encounter
  27. Be trustworthy – keep your promises and respect others in their absence
  28. Keep your promises – in fact, underpromise and overdeliver
  29. Freely share insight and knowledge
  30. Always follow the “Golden Rule

Do you have any to add?

I’m far from perfect, that’s why lists like these help me.  Try just 2 or 3 this week and I’ll bet you’ll see an immediate positive impact in your relationships.

Sure, these wow tips might be common, but like most common things they work and they’re easily overlooked, forgotten and opportunities become lost.

Remember…“To do a common thing, uncommonly well, brings success.” – Henry John Heinz – yeah…that Heinz!

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10 Ways to Build Brand Trust

If you’re looking for a way to truly build your business in a uniquely profitable way, put a plan in place to build customer trust in your brand.

I say unique, because when you consider this chart, you’ll see that many industries are not highly trusted. This online U.S. Harris Poll was conducted on November 8 and 15, 2010 among 2,151 adults 18+.

Trust in a brand (personal or business) is the keystone of all relationships. By doing the right thing/s, you an earn a person’s trust, but it’s easy to lose it – and you can lose it quickly – practically overnight regardless of your past reputation.

Here my 10 ways to build trust:

  1. Be authentic – be real
  2. Lead with integrity and humility
  3. Be honest, don’t lie and always tell the truth
  4. Be objective, fair and consistent in your actions
  5. Don’t gossip – respect people in their absence
  6. Keep your promises by doing what you say you’re going to do
  7. Don’t take people for granted – anticipate needs, don’t just react
  8. Be open and transparent on your dealings and provide clear information
  9. Always do your best and give your engagements everything you’ve got
  10. Be a Servant Leader by putting others best interest ahead of your own

If you follow these 10 ways to build trust in your brand, “they (your customers)” will come again and again.  Trust me.

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Take it Easy on Your Customers

Two things happened to me over the past two days that made me question how easy we all are in conducting our business and how ridiculously absurd retailer practices are at times.

Yesterday, I had dinner with some old friends at a quaint family owned and operated Italian restaurant. The restaurant menu, had seven specials listed with no descriptions – just the entree name – and no prices. However, the rest of the menu had full menu descriptions and prices.

The server simply passed out the menus and offered no detail or prices. I wondered why the owner (and others too) refused to put more detail on the ‘special menu.’ So, when we asked for the pricing and description of some of the entrees, it certainly slowed down our order and sped up our frustration.

There is no benefit to the guest by not including feature prices or menu descriptions.  In fact, there are several potential customer negatives such as:

  • ‘Sticker Shock’ when you get the bill
  • Shame/embarrassment for having to ask

Now, there should be no shame in asking about prices, but you could find it embarrassing to ask if/when you’re on that first date, with important clients, well-to-do friends etc.

Why restaurants follow this practice is way off base to me and has no upside except to trick customers into paying more. It’s a bush league practice and should stop.

My second experience involves my soon to be ex wireless carrier Sprint.  I’ve been a Sprint customer for nearly 10 years when the company first started in the PCS business. In fact, I helped launch the brand in Western PA and Western NY.

Yesterday, I had a contract with Sprint through May (5 more months), but this morning I accidentally dropped my phone into a toilet – yes, but a clean one! Needless to say, Blackberries don’t float and do not work after such a dunking!

So off to the Sprint store to get a replacement. After spending a few unplanned hundreds of dollars on a new phone, I was required to sign 2 year extended contract because it’s a new phone – my service plan did not change! What insanity! I question the legality of such a practice – and you can count on the fact that I’ll pursue a challenge starting tomorrow.

Is it any wonder why Sprint’s stock has been in the toilet like my Blackberry was this morning? Note: I loved my Blackberry – just don’t care for my Sprint service. And, I care less about it a lot more today than I did yesterday.

So the easy lesson to learn today is that you need to work harder on being easier to do business with your colleagues, vendors and clients.  When you consider the success of many of today’s superstar brands such as:

  • Apple
  • L.L. Bean
  • McDonald’s
  • Starbucks
  • Zappos

..being “Nice & EASY” is definitely a key reason for their success – so remember…easy does it!

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10 Profitable Groupon Marketing Tips

I’ve been a fan of Groupon since one of our Pittsburgh restaurant clients launched the city’s first promotional campaign. And, I’ve become a bigger fan since other hospitality clients have achieved success and after discovering that Groupon founder Andrew Mason is a Pittsburgh (Mt. Lebanon) native – you go guy!

If you read the marketing trades you’ll find some complaints about the lack of profitability of using Groupon as a marketing tactic, but I’d bet that those complainers were not prepared to take advantage of the popular loss leader strategy.

Here are ten profitable Groupon marketing tips.

1. Say “NO” if you’re below. Below average that is. In short, you do not want to feature your brand in a Groupon campaign if you don’t “bring it.” That is, if you sell lousy food (even marginally or mediocre OK), have poor service etc., you do not want to do Groupon! If you do not “deliver the goods”, Grouponers may simply put you out of business earlier than you would normally through negative reviews online etc.!

2. Get buy-in to prevent crying. Far in advance of your scheduled launch, talk through the campaign pros/cons of Groupon with your staff. Get their buy-in early on and clearly explain why everyone needs to be engaged in this huge loss leader effort and why you’ll need all hands and minds on deck to flawlessly execute the campaign. Tell them, “what’s in it for them!”

3. Map your cap. Cap the total number of deals you provide to Grouponers. This creates urgency and protects margins since the offer deadlines are long. Plus, you need to make sure you can handle the traffic.  Sure you want to make short term money – you always do – but your eyes need to be on the prize of repeat business!

4. Don’t wreck your average check. Make sure your deal/offer does not match you average check/purchase to allow for upsell and add-on sales opportunities. And, a lower price tag protects you as well on total customer acquisition costs. Keep in mind that you’re earning around 1/4th of what you’d usually make in an average sale which means you’re losing 3/4ths on virtually every sale.

5. Don’t laugh – add staff. Trust me – make sure you add staff to handle increases in store traffic, phone calls and web hits during and after the sale. You’ll need it!

6. Right your Website. It’s highly likely that your Web site has never seen the kind of traffic it will see on your Groupon day. Make certain your brand’s value proposition is clear, meaningful and relevant throughout your Website and especially on your home page because it’s going to get pounded. And, fix your typos, broken links etc., – net, clean it up! Also, monitor your Groupon comments on your “game day” and answer questions there as well on your social media channels.

7. Up-sell, cross sell and do well. Train your customer facing personnel to up-sell and cross-sell and guide all Grouponers to more profitable add-ons. However, make sure you have lots of exciting ones to offer too.

8. Train to explain. Carefully review (and test their knowledge) your Groupon procedures and rules of the game with all team members so they in turn can explain the campaign to customers, friends and family. You need to do this crucial step to ensure viral communications and no surprised/unhappy customer experiences. Make certain everyone is happy to take Groupon customers and consider putting someone in charge to answer escalated questions and make on the spot decisions to satisfy customer concerns.

9. Retain and gain. Since Groupon does not give up its email database and/or the contact information of customers who take advantage of your offer, it’s critical you have a system (recording system and/or additional incentive for customers/staff) in place to capture valuable new customer contact information (e.g., email addresses, mailing addresses, cell phone numbers, birthdays etc.,). You’ll also want to track your success with regard to add-ons, average check/transaction, redemption rates,  repeat business and more to determine your success and key learnings should you do it again – consider a customer survey too!

10. Show how to WOW now. A ton of your Grouponers will be new customers (and might be bringing other new customers in with them) and may be unfamiliar with your unique value proposition, but you have a great – maybe once in a lifetime – opportunity to WOW them, make them repeat customers and spread your good word. Make sure you take advantage of this opportunity. Be a servant leader and SERVE lights out!

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Marketing a Homecoming Experience

Kent State football players celebrate with the Wagon Wheel trophy following a 28-17 victory over the visiting Akron Zips

I had a great time Saturday in Kent, Ohio visiting come great old college friends, going to the homecoming football game against Akron with my buddy Don and hitting Ray’s Place – one of my favorite old haunts – it’s truly a time machine!

A lot of things have changed about Kent since I graduated in 1983 – some good and some not so good – but mostly good. Time may move on, but fond memories – experiences – last a lifetime.

Three of the “places that are no longer there” are:

Kent Ohio's Jerry's Diner

Jerry’s Diner – an old diner that was open for 23 hours a day (one hour to clean) 7 days a week where I had many a late night meal and will always remember my friend Ron’s favorite order...”I’ll have a cheeseburger without.” The waitress would say, “Without what?” And he’d reply, “Without hair!” The memory (and so many others) still makes me laugh.

Jerry’s motto was, “Give grease a chance” and its final words were, “Rest in grease.” I still love it.

Kent Motor Inn

Another place that hit the wrecking ball, was the Kent Motor Inn where I lived my senior year. It was a close walk to town and to classes. I lived in an efficiency in the back away from the normal rentals. I’d often joke to my friends that I always felt like I was on vacation, because my TV was mounted high up in the corner of the room, had a bar sink, a fold out couch…what a life…it didn’t get much better.

And sadly, the final place no longer around is the Stuffed Mushroom tavern where I tended bar and bounced. We had the best Happy Hour around – 3 drinks for $1.00 from 4-6 p.m.; 2 for 1 from 6-8 p.m. and 25 cent Kamikazi’s all night long. Owner Terry Mormile was an awesome, giving, smart  guy and Ed Logan was a terrific manager who taught me a ton about customer service.

What a great 4 year Experience!

Experiential marketing is all the rage in today’s marketing, but so much of what I learned about experiential marketing – if I truly give pause to think about it – I learned during my days at Kent State.

My big takeaway about experiential marketing is helping your customers immerse themselves in your brand – help them to be part of the fabric of it. Most of us who went away to college had a great time and retain fond memories because of our interactive, fun, humorous, engaging, educational, experiential, immersive experiences.

That’s what experiential marketing is all about.

Present your brand in a framework of engaging entertainment and education and forget the traditional sales spiel. By helping your customers truly immerse themselves in your brand experience today, you just might make them customers for life.

Hey, I graduated from Kent State in 1983 and I’m still a BIG FAN nearly 30 years later!

Thanks Kent State and thanks to all my college friends for the great experience!

P.S.: For more information, check out the International Experiential Marketing Association and their manifesto.

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