How High is Up

True nobility is not about being better than anyone else, it’s about being better than you used to be.”

The halfway point of the 2011, was at noon on July 1st, exactly 182 1/2 days left before we ring in 2012.

So how are you doing on your New Year resolutions?

Personally, did you lose the weight you were trying to lose?

Professionally, are you hitting your sales goals?

Have you taken a hard look at your results to date and put a plan in place to finish what you started or are your goals out of whack, meaningless and unimportant?

It’s never too late to late, to improve, to succeed.

You have plenty of time, it’s just that you’re not using it properly and majoring in minor things.

Think (and do) about setting clearer goals for the rest of your year and think about (and do) easier ways to achieve them.

For example, if you’re like me and don’t always have time to go to a gym to workout, do you just give up?

Or, do you find an easier way to accomplish your fitness goals by working out at home using your own body weight, doing pushups, situps, skipping rope etc.?

If you’re not hitting your sales goals, do you know why? Do you know your sales ratios (e.g., how many calls/communiques lead to appointments to contracts)? Is it a simple matter of just making more contacts?

My goals are quite simple and they’re based on improving my own situation and being better than I used to be, not better than someone else.

“IT” should always be about you!

In short, my overarching simple goal is to improve my states of peace, love and happiness and I look at making plans for each many roles as a small business owner, marketing professional, husband, son, brother, uncle, friend, community member and most important ME (spirit, soul, being) and craft simple strategies, objectives and tactics to follow to improve my states of peace, love and happiness.

And, how to I get there?

I work on ‘getting there’ via several ways such as:

  1. Being in the moment and focusing on being fully engaged
  2. Delegating to great people
  3. Working in process improvement (checklists – group similar activities together)
  4. Waking up early (not watching much TV etc.)
  5. Saying ‘no’ to things that don’t help me achieve my goals (like lots of meetings when a phone call would do)

And lots more, because this is a journey!

And, hey I don’t always get there, but my batting average has increased over time with practice.

Focus on your being better than YOU used to be and your happiness because when you’re happy you’ll find that it’s contagious.

Don’t waste your time.

Learn to let go of – and don’t sweat – the minor things and focus on what’s really important to you, to your business etc., and see your happiness soar!

How high is up? As high as YOU want to make it! It’s always been about YOU and no one else.

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Best Amusement Park for Kids and Families

Idlewild and SoakZone Best Park for Kids & Families

All of us at BrandMill are happy to report that one of our super clients – Idlewild & Soak Zone in Ligonier, PA (about an hour drive from Pittsburgh) – is now open and operating its 134th season of summer fun and has made a huge splash with its new water park attraction, “Wowabunga” Family Wave Pool.

New Wowabunga Family Wave Pool

 

Wowabunga features intermittent waves suitable for both younger and older guests as well as a “beach” area perfect for guests looking to soak up the summer sun. See awe-inspiring cirque entertainment all summer long at Cirque Extreme – Under the Big Top and enjoy the following special events – all included with the price of admission – and with free picnicking too:

  • June 13 – 17 & June 20 – 24 – BOGO Days
  • June 19 – Firefighter/EMS Family Appreciation Day
  • June 27 – July 3 – Showcase of Stars
  • July 4 – Fireworks
  • July 5 -8 – Antique & Classic Car Show and Parade
  • July 11 – 15 – Mister Rogers’ Neighbor Days
  • July 18 – 22 – Meet the Marvel Comic Super Heroes (Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America)
  • July 25 -29 – Christmas In July
  • July 31 – Cheerleading Competition
  • August 12 – Italian Day Festa
  • August 22 – 26 – Car Load Days
  • October – Hallowboo!

For more details, check out this recent video on KDKA-TV’s Pittsburgh Today LIVE featuring Park Spokesperson Jeff Croushore.

About Idlewild & ZoakZone

Founded in 1878 as a simple picnic ground along the Ligonier Valley Rail Road, Idlewild & SoakZone is the oldest amusement park in Pennsylvania and third-oldest in America. In addition, it is rated the best kid’s park in the world by Amusement Today magazine and the best park for families by the National Amusement Park Historical Association. Idlewild features seven fun theme areas such as SoakZone Waterpark, Story Book Forest and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood of Make-Believe.  Seasonal operations run through Labor Day and “Hallowboo,” a Halloween-themed event, takes place in October. Idlewild is part of the Palace Entertainment family which hosts over 13 million visitors annually at 40 locations across the country.  With 8 theme parks, 11 water parks and 21 family entertainment centers, Palace is the largest operator of water parks and family entertainment centers in the nation. For more information, call 724.238.3666 or visit http://www.idlewild.com and http://www.palaceentertainment.com.

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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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Priory is SBA family-owned small business of the year

L-R - Priory co-owners Suzanne and John Graf and GM Tim McGlothlin. (Photo/Kelly Thomas)

Congratulations to a great client and family – the Graf family, owners of the Priory Hospitality Group in Pittsburgh, PA – for being recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) as the Family Owned Business of the Year!

See story here.

All of us at BrandMill are proud to serve as a marketing partner of the Priory Hospitality Group.

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Justin Bieber is No Michael Jackson

He’s simply Justin Bieber.

I caught this Hollywood Reporter story announcing that, “Justin Bieber Tops Michael Jackson for U.S. Box Office Crown.”

Now, I like Justin Bieber and certainly this story is newsworthy, but stories like this lead people to think that he’s on his way to being a better performer than Michael Jackson.

Justin Bieber is NO Michael Jackson and I confidently doubt he ever will come even close to achieving the success of MJ.

In late 2010, Forbes reported in its article, The Rich Afterlife of Michael Jackson, that Beyonce, Jay-Z, Lady Gaga and Madonna each raked in over $50 million, but the late, great Michael Jackson made over $275 million – more than all four artists combined! WOW!

Michael Jackson is the Richest Dead Celebrity

In addition, Forbes ranked Michael Jackson the richest dead celebrity in 2010 because Brand MJ earned more money than all of the artists on the list combined and more than any living artist or group.

Again, not to take anything away from the “Biebs,” but when he makes that kind of loot when he’s dead and buried, then maybe you’ll have an argument.

Similarly, before and throughout the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, comparisons between BYU’s Jimmer Fredette and LSU’s Pistol Pete Maravich were constantly being discussed. And, similar to my statement above, Jimmer  Fredette is no Pistol Pete Maravich.

Don’t take my word for it, read ESPN’s Rick Reilly’s story here.

The point of my Blog post is not to slam or hate on Justin or Jimmer – I like and respect them both a ton – my rant is more about people and brands being obsessed with comparisons to each other and to competitors.

You need to enjoy your own success and respect others too. And, to achieve long lasting success you can’t rest on your laurels and you should simply work hard at being better than YOU used to be – not how someone ELSE is/or used to be!

Focus your BRAND YOU efforts on improving YOU and maybe read this book too.

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You Need a Marketing Invention Factory

A little over a year ago, I toured the Fort Myers, FL winter estates of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford two of my favorite business heroes.

Edison and Ford’s fascinating friendship is a story of mutual admiration and a story of curiosity, experimentation, persistence, inventions, failures, achievements and brand legacies.

Both had little formal education – Edison left school at age 8 and Ford had about 3 years – however, both achieved great success through radical life improving innovations that we continue to enjoy to this day.

In my business engagements, regardless of brand size, I’m discouraged by the lack of courage and innovation by most brand leaders.  And, it’s sad.

It’s sad, because innovation can be achieved when you desire, demand and plan for it.

Both Edison and Ford believed in dreaming big and visualizing the impossible and making it possible.  The had invention factories and labs (at work and at their vacation homes) and they believed in open collaboration and getting things done – acting on things – and fast failing.

So, my question is, “Where’s your invention factory?”

“What’s your process and how do you plan for it?

Are you a trailblazer, an industry leader or a simple follower?

For some time, I’ve felt that Americans have lost their innovation edge and others do agree, but brands such as Apple and Starbucks offer hope and guideposts (just wish I saw more American manufacturing innovators).

Much like Edison and Ford who believed in collaborative innovation work, Starbucks’ modern spin is its highly successful “My Starbucks Idea” which is an online crowdsourcing initiative that enables its raving fans to offer new ideas for products, brand experiences and involvement improvements.

My Starbucks Idea is celebrating its 3rd anniversary this month – and it’s Starbucks 40th anniversary too (read about their four new products)!

MSI is an awesome crowdsourced innovation tool.  To date, it has generated (as of a few minutes ago) 107,450 ideas and launched 130 new ideas.  In addition, people get to view ideas in action and see which ones are under review have been reviewed are in the works, and have been launched and demonstrates that Starbucks is a listening and caring brand.

In fact, customer input on My Starbucks Idea led to the development of the Starbucks Card Mobile App for select BlackBerry smartphones last September and the “Give a Gift” feature – the 100th MSI.

I love the MSI concept and I’ll bet there is an crowdsourcing idea here worth exploring for you.

Think about ways to create your own invention or innovation factory be it online (Starbucks uses Salesforce.Com) or offline or a combination of both.

For example, you could simply start with having bi-weekly meetings with your staff to brainstorm innovative cost saving or revenue producing ideas.

However, if you don’t plan for ‘it,’ I guarantee you ‘it’ won’t happen for you!

P.S.: For more about Edison, check out Time Magazine’s feature, The Making of America: Thomas Edison. I found it ironic that there was a Starbucks banner ad when I first clicked on the link.

P.P.S: A great source of innovative companies to research and model is provided by Fast Company Magazine every year. Check out Fast Company’s 2011 Most Innovative Companies.

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Speak for Yourself

I’ve always been amazed (OK and maybe a little bit jealous) at the amount of money that brands dish out to celebrities to be their spokesperson/s. I’ve yet to see a demonstrative ROI case proving that a celebrity spokesperson contributed to a brand’s success.

Don’t get me wrong, if a celebrity truly uses the product and is successful, a brand can reap huge awards (e.g., Michael Jordan and Air Jordans). However, if a celebrity is not a visible user and is used as mere off the shelf talent, why bother with the added expense? Instead, use someone far less expensive – and just as effective – and make your product the hero.

I bring this up because the Aflac duck lost its voice yesterday after it fired comedian Gilbert Gottfried – the voice of the quacking duck (not in Japan though) for tweeting jokes about the earthquake and tsunami that has rocked Japan and its poor people. God bless them.

Here’s a brief statement from Aflac’s news release. “Gilbert’s recent comments about the crisis in Japan were lacking in humor and certainly do not represent the thoughts and feelings of anyone at Aflac,” Michael Zunda, the company’s senior vice president and chief marketing officer, said in a statement.

What a jerk – Gottfried that is!

I feel for Zunda, but he should know better. There are thousands of voiceover talents that could nail that Aflac quack for far less dough.

How would you like to have a ‘spokesduck’ voice like Gottfried making jokes about a cataclysmic event that killed nearly 2,500 people to date and projections are that possibly 10,000 are feared dead.  And, tens of thousands are homeless.

Again, what a jerk!

And, how about this fact? Aflac, does 75% of its business in Japan!!

Gottfried (the coward) hasn’t apologized or responded yet for his classless tweeted jokes such as:
  1. “I just split up with my girlfriend, but like the Japanese say, ‘They’ll be another one floating by any minute now.’”
  2. “Japan called me. They said ‘maybe those jokes are a hit in the U.S., but over here, they’re all sinking.'”
  3. “I was talking to my Japanese real estate agent. I said ‘is there a school in this area.’ She said ‘not now, but just wait.'”

I’m sure Aflac is a class act company.  In fact, they’re giving the International Red Cross 100 million yen (U.S. $1.2 million) to aid in disaster relief. However, this ‘brand stain’ could have/should have been avoided because Gottfried has a history of classless behavior.

For example (per the New York Times), three weeks after 9/11 at a Friars Club roast for Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, Gottfried said that he had tried to catch a plane but couldn’t get a direct flight because “they said they have to stop off at the Empire State Building.”

Again, what a jerk!

Any parent will tell you that no one can babysit their kids like them. No matter how terrific their parents or neighbors are to their kids, parents do it better.

Similarly, no one can babysit your brand like you can – remember that.

For me, when it comes to spokespeople, give me a Frank Perdue of Perdue Chicken – or someone like him – any old day! Silent mascots like Mickey Mouse work wonders too!

P.S.: Hey, if you’re looking for a job and can quack like the Aflac duck, there is nationwide casting call to find a new voice of the iconic spokesbird! True.
P.S.S.: See interesting slideshow of top Celebrity Spokesperson Fiascos.

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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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