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!


Banned for Bad Tipping

When I caught this headline, “Banned for Bad Tipping” on CNN.com today, I just had to check it out since we do so much work for restaurants and the hospitality industry.

View the story here:

I’m not sure who is right here, but my gut says the customer.

Even if the owner is correct when he says that his customer is not a good tipper, she still paid her bill for the basic food and service she received.

Now, I consider myself a pretty good tipper, but more and more I’ve been working to get back to tipping based on the quality of service I receive. There are far too many people and businesses in my life (and I’m sure yours too) where they feel entitled to a reward for doing basic or even sub par work.

It’s got to stop.

I’m not sure where or when this entitlement gig got started, but my guess is that it started sometime about 35 years ago in kids sports – especially baseball – where “Tee-ballers” started to hit baseballs off of tees (instead of having the ball pitched to them) and everyone started to get trophies regardless of where their team finished.

Oh yeah, I’m blaming it all on Tee-ball!

In the hospitality business, you’re supposed to be “hospitable” it’s the basic greens fee part of the gig. Tipping is supposed to be based on what someone does over and above the call of duty.

I mean my hot food should be hot and my cold food should be cold. Servers are supposed to deliver my food to me in a reasonable time with no foreign objects in, on or around it right? I’m supposed to tip you for that? C’mon people.

I checked out Magellan’s Worldwide Tipping Guide to see where we American’s rank and right there, I  confirmed my suspicion that we American’s are one crazy bunch of people. We tip more than just about every country in the world, and I’ll bet you agree that for the most part your customer satisfaction level with the majority of business and people is average to below average!

The interesting thing about my argument is that the majority of customer satisfaction scores in industries have statistically improved (see American Customer Satisfaction Index here).

Yeah, but my gut and head says that what people say and what people actually do and feel aren’t always coordinated. I believe most people have internalized their customer satisfaction expectations (read – lowered their bar) because for the most part, they’ve been let down so many times that they simply learn to accept and deal with sub par performance.

Here are a few of “Marketing Tips” for you today to help your Brand excel.

  1. Get away from assumptions and entitlements – cast them aside
  2. List your Brand’s basic greens fees of performance
  3. From that list, work up a few cool ideas to “surprise, delight and impress (read – WOW)” your customers> Make sure these ideas are ones that your core customer base considers valuable and are not offered by your competitors.
  4. Implement these new cool ideas.

Now – watch your tip jar explode!

P.S.: Years ago in a performance review session, one of my team members thought she should get a bonus (read tip) because, “I always come to work on time.” She was wrong to assume, but I was more wrong because I wasn’t clear in my expectations of performance training.  I never made that mistake again.  Big lesson.


Make a Rule to Break Stupid Rules

breaking rulesI recently went on a golf vacation with my two brothers – both celebrating a 50 and 53 birthday. Not really on a hard and fast budget, we were looking to play as many fun, attractive and challenging courses as we could in our limited time together.

In the pro shop of our second round, two elderly gentlemen casually approached us as we were about to pay.

My 50 year old brother asked to walk with a pull-cart and was told, “You can’t, it’s against the rules at this time of day.” My brother who is an ex-college football player, marathoner and in great health and just walked a course the previous day with no challenges was ticked off as was I.

Then, as we boarded our golf carts, the same guy hurriedly ran out to us as we were about to tee off on the first hole and said, “I’m adding a single golfer to your foursome.” And, when we explained again that we were on vacation together and just wanted to play by ourselves he sternly said, “Well, that’s the rules, I don’t make them, the Board does and I have to follow them.”

So, we asked for and got a refund of over $150. That day the golf course lost more than $250 because of lost food, beverage and souvenir revenue. Plus, they’ll lose more in the future, because my brother vacations in the area a few times each year and will never go back – let alone refer anyone to play there.

Our rule? You tick us off and we don’t pay you or use your services and talk badly about you to lots of people. I’m sure a lot of folks follow that rule too.

We then took off and went to another golf course a few miles away – a far better course – and walked away with better memories to boot.

Now, I’m all for rules – without them you have total chaos – however people need to be trained to offer solutions when rules don’t make sense.

The course was not crowded, it was short and flat and was an easy walk in the park. Plus, we would have paid a little extra to play by ourselves.

Also, if the golf course attendant would have been friendly to begin with (a basic greens fee these days) and took a little time getting to understand our situation – vacation, special birthdays – his common sense might have prevailed because there are always special circumstances to bend said rules.

I’d bet that if our situation was presented to the “Board” – which I’m sure will not be the case – they would have let us play as a three some and let one of us walked.

I wonder if the Board has a process on place for employees to bring improvement suggestions to the table based on customer feedback?

What crazy old rules do you still follow that prevent your front line employees from making a sale, saving a sale and creating a happy customer?

Make a new rule in 2010 to break all stupid rules!

P.S.: Here are two cool quotes to keep in mind.

“Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.” Dalai Lama

“If you obey all the rules, you’ll miss all the fun.”
Katherine Hepburn

P.P.S.: Next time you’re in Florida near Bonita Springs, Naples, Ft. Myers area, play golf at Stoneybrook Golf Course. Not only is it a great Florida golf course (it’s Ft. Myers best golf course and facility), the people are super nice!


The Fast Eat the Slow

cheetah-gazelleAs a follow-up to my recent “Darwinian Marketing” post, I want to emphasize that successful people will not only be the ones who can most easily adapt to change, but they will most likely be faster than their competitors. That’s right.  In today’s economy and for as far as I can see into the future, it’s not about the strong beating or eating the weak, it’s all about the fast eating the slow for lunch!

At the top of my 2010 goals is to streamline processes, work smarter and faster and enjoy life more.  We’re all being tasked to do more with less, but there are ways to do it, make money and enjoy your life.

So, how can you become faster in business today? Here is my list to 25 ways you can work faster and position yourself to survive and thrive!

  1. Read and embrace Stephen Covey’s best-seller, The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People” and work to excel in Quadrant II living
  2. Be flexible and adaptable to new ideas and processes (think Darwin)
  3. Work to rid yourself of distractions such as email, instant messaging, turn of the TV, turn your phone/s off and turn your music off (although I work quickly and calmly listening to classical and piano instrumental music)
  4. Get rid of things that slow you down (clients, employees, suppliers)
  5. Set up power hours of work blocks and prioritize on job at a time
  6. In your email inbox, tag all emails with a project ID so you can resort your emails by subject or client and stay focused and fly through them.  For example, for a book I’m working on, I simply tag these emails “Book” first followed by related copy
  7. Batch your email work – only respond at specific intervals 2-3 times per day
  8. Batch your phone calls too – never answer unidentified calls
  9. Get the fastest computer set-up you can afford
  10. Set earlier deadlines – if a client’s expectation is 7 days, deliver it in 6.
  11. Get up earlier and take good care of yourself to stay sharp
  12. Outsource most anything that costs you below your hourly rate
  13. Focus on the 20% of activities that reap 80% of the most rewards for you
  14. Cut things to the core bare necessities and essentials and key features
  15. Keep features, processes simple
  16. Focus on those things that help you gain or keep a customer
  17. Anticipate trends and act on them.  For example, mobile marketing is starting to smoke. Are you studying it, using it, putting together a skunkworks operation, looking into strategic alliances etc.?
  18. Phase things in to keep customers happy and moving business forward
  19. Create processing rules (see Tim Ferris’ stuff here – awesome read – love virtual assistant idea too – actually all of his stuff is brilliant – great book)
  20. Create templates of your work to easily repeat efforts
  21. Create processes
  22. Create life and decision-based rules (see Marcus Aerilius’ Meditations)
  23. Begin with and end goal in mind and then focus on all of the processes of everything you do to achieve the end, list all the steps and key critical path and look for ways to take wasted steps and time out of the process.  Rinse and repeat.
  24. Look to eliminate all busy work that takes time away from building your business
  25. Take one information day off per week – no phone, Blackberry, email etc. – rest and recharge your battery

I’m sure there are a ton more ideas – feel free to add!


Do Better by Doing Good

veteransday2009Check out what restaurant’s like Applebee’s, Golden Corral and McCormick & Schmicks, Outback Steakhouse and others are doing to honor our awesome Veterans on Veterans Day.

A few weeks ago, one of my clients, The Priory Hospitality Group honored veterans of the Afghan and Iraqi wars a FREE Winter White Wedding! And, another one, 1902 Tavern in Pittsburgh’s Market Square is doing its part too.

There are a ton of examples of brands who give back to the communities in which it does its business such as Campbell’s Labels for Education and McDonald’s  Ronald McDonald House and more. In fact, U.S sponsorship spending on cause marketing is estimated to reach $1.57 billion in 2009, per the IEG Sponsorship Report, Chicago.

But can you do better by doing good? Absolutely.

While I first believe that everyone should do his part in helping others without expecting anything in return – pure charity – it’s best to strategically think of your cause marketing in terms of how it best connects with your brand’s cause and concerns of your constituents.

For example, a local restaurant may provide a benefit to Veterans today because everyone at that restaurant benefits from the freedom our Vets have protected for them.  Digging deeper, providing for a local school, emergency workers in the restaurant’s local trade area makes just as much sense because those people are likely current and potential customers and everyone is part of the same community.

As you’re planning for 2010 put a cause marketing initiative (make it part of your corporate DNA) on your calendar and you’ll find that you’ll do better in business when you’re doing good things and being a good corporate citizen.

You’ll also discover that:

  • Your staff will feel better working for you – corporate pride will rise
  • You’ll attract people because most prefer to work for caring companies
  • You’ll be more welcome and respected in your community
  • People will more readily recommend your company’s products and services to friends and family
  • People’s trust and favorability ratings for you will rise

Being a better corporate citizen is a key business strategy today and it will set your brand apart from your competitors. However, keep in mind that doing good doesn’t simply begin and end with promotional tie-ins. You also need to focus on:

  • Demonstrating how you value and care for your employees
  • Following ethical, open, honest and responsible business practices
  • Delivering over and above required safety and industry performance standards
  • Ensuring that your advertising is accurate and true
  • Treating your environment well
  • Having open channels of communication
  • Being an active member in your community
  • Embracing diversity
  • And more…

Certainly, one cause may not be enough of a rallying cry for all of your employees since everyone has personal pet charities that are only special to them. So, get your folks to contribute their thoughts in the planning stages. One end solution could be a corporate matching fund initiative.

In the same way, a single cause cannot possibly impact all customers equally (i.e., improve their emotional experience).

Also, you’ll find differences between public and private companies.  For example, some people do not believe that publicly traded companies should be using corporate profits for social causes, but you can stll be a good corporate citizen by being ethical, environmentally responsible, honest etc.

When you first undergo a cause marketing planning process it can seem daunting and you’ll have difficulty figuring out where to start with so many worthwhile charitable causes.

When this happens, remember these words from Mother Theresa, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”

Just get started and do something.

Believe me, you do reap what you sow in life.

When you do good, others will do good by and for you too.


Sorry, I Don’t Eat Meat


For years, I’ve done my share of restaurant and hospitality marketing. Time and again where I always start with my consulting approach is to conduct and marketing audit questioning the core brand message and sales and service issues within the restaurant’s four walls.

I’ve been in many restaurants – as I’m sure you have as well – that do virtually no paid advertising, the food and service is spectacular, it’s always packed, they’re happy to see you, remember your name (or that you’re a regular) the place will never grace the pages of Better Homes & Gardens, but the rest rooms are clean!

While light and bright treatments do help a restaurant’s sales – all other things being equal – you don’t have to be the place with the prettiest and latest creature comforts, but service is KEY – and you need to “control your controllable!”

I have no personal vendetta against Vegans, animal rights activists, PETA or any other similar organization.  However, they should not be servers in restaurants that serve meat!

A few days ago, I asked my server who was about to take my order, “How is your prime rib?” She smiled and said, “Sorry, I don’t eat meat, but I hear it’s good!”


Not only should ALL servers eat meat, but they should have tasted everything on the restaurant’s menu so they can help its guests make good decisions and help build the restaurant build sales.

Do you have a training system in place for new and veteran staff to experience your products and services?
Do the people selling your stuff own or use your stuff?
Have your people tried your products or services?
Do they know what you do?
Do they know how you do it?
Do they know, “Why you?”


Radical Green Marketing

Last week, I attended a Green Marketing Summit given by the Pittsburgh American Marketing Association and learned some interesting new trends and developments in Green Marketing from:

  • Jacquelyn Ottman, Founder, J. Ottman Consulting
    who has a great book on Green Marketing and discussed her, "Five Simple Rules of Green Marketing," the "Triple Bottom Line" of sustainable development and how to use credible green marketing strategies to turn its risks into genuine business opportunities. Ottman is a Green Marketing expert and gave a super presentation.
  • Gary Saulson, Director of Corporate Real Estate, PNC Financial Services Group and their industry leading and trademarked "Green Branch." Gary discussed the positive economic and productivity impact of Green (Sustainable) Buildings and why building green makes sense for corporate America. He provided details on the design and construction of PNC's Firstside Center, one of the largest certified green buildings in the world, and the collaborated efforts to obtain a LEED Silver Certification.
  • James Bogdan, QEP, LEED-AP Manager, Sustainable Design & Green Building Initiatives for PPG Construction
    who discussed, "Beyond Environmental Claims: Driving Transparency from Product Manufacturers." James talked about some of PPG's Green initiatives and how several company's eforts and/or products claiming environmental benefits are being scrutinized. Such claims are requiring manufacturers to invest in research that qualify or quantify their benefits.

I'm certainly going to dive deeper into Green Marketing for several of my hospitality clients because it's the right thing to do and people are becoming more interested these days in how the firms they interact with interact with the environment.

However, don't you think this company is taking Green Marketing a bit too far?


Marketing Black Friday Stupidity

As a marketer, I've never quite been able to get my head around Black Friday.

This is supposedly the day that most retailers finally make it into the "black" or profitability.

First of all, if you have a Brand – any Brand – that traditionally doesn't make a profit until 11 months into a calendar year, then there is something seriously wrong with your market offering, value proposition and more.

Why anyone would invest in that business model makes no sense to me.

Secondly, to totally prostitute your Brand for a few hours of one morning for one day offering ridiculous loss leaders which bastardizes your Brand, taxes your employees and has now turned deadly as it did for a Walmart in Long Island, should send you a clear message that you need to step back and re-evaluate things.

On a personal level, it saddens me to think about the state of people's greed and reckless consumption habits during a special time we should be giving thanks. In fact, the only thing we should be spending is our time with family, friends and those less fortunate than ourselves.


Warren Buffet

I’ve admired Warren Buffet for many years and here’s a great clip of him speaking to an MBA class at the University of Florida (one of several  – enjoy them all).

He’s been in the media a lot in recent years by choice and it appears he does it more so out of love and concern for our country and others and as a way of giving something back.

And, his recent book, Snowball will be on my bookshelf and read by year-end.

Buffet’s brand is a successful one for many reasons such as his intelligence, and energy, but more importantly his INTEGRITY – great qualities to have in a successful brand.

Brand Integrity is so rarely provided, but so very much respected, admired and desperately needed.

Certainly you can tell he love’s what he does too.  Surely, you may think it’s because he’s so incredibly wealthy, but my bet is that he’s always loved what he’s done and he’s honest to the core.


10 Steps for Success in a Down Economy

I know times are tough, but tough people succeed in tough times.

And, I assure you that despite the times, Millionaires are being made – many self-made – every day!

You can’t control things that are out of your control, so let’s work to control the things within your circle of influence.

Here are a 10 things you can do to succeed in a down economy.

  1. Don’t accept that a recession is a good reason for you not to increase business.  There are people buying your stuff every day, you just have to work harder and smarter to get their business.
  2. Begin with an end in mind and plan proactively – first things first – get out and sell, follow-up etc.
  3. Work to prove your value (ROI) by increasing your client’s value
  4. Tailor your goods/services to meet today’s market climate
  5. Work to re-sign your current, profitable and most valuable clients
  6. Fire clients that you’re not making a significant profit or are slow to pay
  7. Focus on the basics of your business
  8. Worry about what you’re doing or need to do, NOT your competitors
  9. Solve client’s problems – offer unsolicited solutions – communicate
  10. COMMUNICATE – Share your pain with your team, bring them into the fold and explain the situation. Ask for their input, but demonstrate grace, passion and enthusiasm

    There are certainly more than 10 things you can do, but this is a good list to start working from.  Plus, I don’t have the time to add more – got to keep moving!