untitledOn Saturday I was with a fellow business owner whose business has, after a very profitable and productive lifetime, reached the proverbial end of the road.  

Out of human decency, I’m not going to identify this business.  That’s not why I’m posting this.  

The owners are a husband and wife.  The business was started by her parents.  Then it was passed on the to next generation.  The wife recognized my wife and me when we came in the store.  She had tears in her eyes. The recent economy has hit their target market pretty hard.  They offer an upscale service.  Apparently, even the ‘deep pockets’ out there are holding on to their money.  That’s killed the business.  The market crash and credit tightening has caused this situation to become untenable.

I feel badly for this couple.  They’re really wonderful people.  

Tonight on the evening news, Brian Williams had a story about the people in Elkhart, IN who, as a town, have had their financial legs cut out from under them due to economic changes.

Signs of the times we’re living in.  It’s not nice.  Not easy.  

My argument . . . ALWAYS be asking, “What business am I in?”  and be ready to adapt!

If you’re a parent, you know about McDonalds.  And, the Happy Meal.

I’ll bet you’ve bought your fair share of them.  Maybe more.





But have you ever considered what a Happy Meal really is?  Or, why parents buy them for their kids?

There’s an excellent lesson here . . .

McDonald’s UNDERSTANDS . . . what their customers want.

The customer is, of course, not the kid.  It’s the PARENT of a child.

So if the parent is buying the Happy Meal . . . what is it that they’re buying?

This question comes up at McDonald’s “Hamburger University” — the training center for new McDonald’s franchises.  

Allegedly, the McDonald’s trainer asks the new franchisees, “What is a Happy Meal?”  The new recruits usually described it accurately. “A burger, fries, soda and toy in a playful container”.  The instuctor says, “Technically . . . correct.  BUT . . . what are people hoping to get when they ask for a Happy Meal?”  The recruits fidget.  Even they know it’s not what they just said. It’s not just a box with a burger, fries, soda and a toy?  Nope.  That would be too easy!

After some discussion, the McDonald’s instructor reveals the secret: “What the parent is buying isn’t the Happy Meal.  It’s what they hope to gain by buying it”.  “OK,”  the franchisee’s are thinking, “Which means . . . what?”

The instructor obliges them.  “The parent who buys our Happy Meals . . . isn’t buying what you described”  The room of new franchhisees are getting really confused, now.  “Nope.  What they’re buying is . . . :::::drum roll:::::: . . . 7 minutes . . . to wolf down their own food before their kids drag them out onto the playscape!”.  

The McDonald’s Happy Meal is a package.  And a packages ALWAYS produces a valued outcome.  And THAT . . . is what people buy when they’re buying your package or bundle of services that you offer.  

McDonald’s understands this.  I hope you do, too!

marketing-chatIf you were with us for the 03/26/09 Marketing Chat and would like to download a PDF of the slides, complete the form below:

In sales and marketing, “YOU GET . . .”  is a great phrase to use.

This is a banner . . . from Biznik — a popular online business networking website:




“You Get . . .” 

  • addresses the un-asked question your prospect is always asking
  • forces you to focus on the BENEFICIAL DIFFERENCE you make in a client’s life
  • makes you less ego-centric and more client-centric in your marketing message

In my training as a writer, I was admonished to always seek to communicate what my reader / listener / viewer would gain IF. . . they bought whatever I was selling.

“You Get . . .” is a key concept to keep in mind if you want to create marketing messages that get response from a qualified prospect for whatever you’re selling.

This week I attended a meeting where the importance of TRUST in business relationships was (again!) hammered home.

The speaker, a delightful lady named Peaches Quinn (her real name!), described 3 levels of relationships that you can enjoy with other people in your business activities:

  1. Unknown Commodity
  2. Known Commodity
  3. Trusted Advisor

Every relationship that produces value for you, your business or practice . . .  must go through these three levels of trust.  And the higher the trust, the greater the value you’ll see from it!

skeptical1The Unknown Commodity
This is where we all start with another person.  Unless and until they get to know you and begin to appreciate you, you’re just like every other ____________.  In effect, you’re a commodity.  UN-differentiated.  And certainly not to be given free access to the valuable relationships the other person has developed in their ‘network of influence’ that you might like to meet and develop relationships with, as well.

knownbutThe Known Commodity
This is where someone knows of you . . . but not very well.  “Yeah, I think I’ve heard about her, but I don’t know her personally . . .” is what someone is likely to say about you at this point in the relationship-building process.  At least you’re on their ‘radar screen’.  (But you’re still a UFO!)

Further, while you may be known . . . you haven’t established your trustworthiness.  As a result, the ability of this other person to endorse you to the people in her network . . . will be limited.  And, understandably, so!


The Trusted Advisor
This is where someone knows, likes and trusts you both personally and professionally.  This takes time to develop. Because you’re now seen as a unique and valuable (which is the definition of ‘differentiate’, by the way!) to someone, you’re no longer “Like all the other ___________s”.  You’re special.  Like the Little Prince and the Fox (you did read that as a child, I hope!).

Achieving this status with someone makes it easier for them to open the doors to their kingdom . . . to their network of influence . . . of people who have come to know, like and trust . . . them.

The ‘Real Life’ Example:
I just sent a note to someone I saw on an online social network I belong to . . . inviting them to have a discussion with me about an opportunity to collaborate that I felt, based on their profile and posts, would be appropriate and potentially of interest and value to both of us.

I indicated that I was not seeking to sell this person anything.  I just wanted to have a conversation about a topic that might prove to be of mutual interest.  A short time later, this person called me on the phone.  It was, no fault of this person, an awkward call at best. It didn’t go well.  Why?  Because despite the disclaimer that I wasn’t connecting to sell this person anything, that’s all this person could focus on . . . .”Look, what are you selling? (to him, nothing) “I don’t know what you’re asking me to buy” (again, nothing!) What’s this going to cost me? (NOTHING!).  Long story short, I had to end the call because the other person began spewing out a litany of protestations to issues that weren’t being brought up in our conversation . . . yet they were real . . . in his mind.

The ironic — and sad — thing was . . . I was authorized, by a separate client, to give this person $600 . . . with ‘no strings attached’ . . . if he met two (2) simple criteria — and buying something wasn’t one of them!  But I never got the chance to make offer that because the ‘ghosts’ of past encounters with other people made him see me in a way that clouded his perception of what was truly ‘real’.

Absent a level of TRUST . . . of DIFFERENTIATION . . . of PREFERENCE over others . . . the reality I offered this person was being obscured by the reality of past encounters with many others who had lied about their reason for calling, misrepresented themselves or did other things to make this person highly suspicious and skeptical of anyone they didn’t already know, like and . . . TRUST!

The Take Away
In your dealings with other people . . . you want to establish TRUST . . . as quickly and completely as possible. If you don’t, the potential value of that relationship for you will be diminished accordingly.  Please, don’t let this happen.  Learn how to develop trust with others . . . and then leverage that trust . . . to open up new opportunities for your problem-solving skills and abilities to be used on behalf of your clients and . . . of benefit to yourself.

If you’d like to learn more about how to build trust . . . in your business relationships . . . check out our weekly telecall: Marketing Made SIMPLE!


OK . . . if you know me, I just LOVE creative ideas.  I’m totally ENAMORED of creative ideas that work.  And I’m just NUTS AS A BUNNY about creative ideas that work and are FUN for the people involved.

That’s how I feel about a very creative (and, effective!) promotion that is being run by a coffee company (similar to Starbucks) that is located in the Netherlands.

Here’s what’s happening . . . 

The Coffee Company serves (no pun intended I assure you!) the younger audience of students who attend university or technical schools in the city of Amsterdam, Holland.  In order to generate ‘Buzz’ (oh, I see this is going to get ugly fast — my apologies in advance) about the Coffee Company, they’ve developed a series of PowerPoint slides that are, well . . . FUN.  Here’s an example of one:


The business made a number of these tongue-in-cheek images, posted them on their website and urge their target audience — University students in Amsterdam — to download them and insert them into their PowerPoint presentations at school.

The Coffee Company then asks their target market members who do this to take a picture (digital, of course) of their using these slides in a classroom setting and then upload the image to the company website or, better yet . . . make a video and upload that to YouTube!  

Check out this example:

What’s in it for me?  Excellent question!

We know from psychological studies with white rats (or, college sophomores — it doesn’t really matter!) that what you REWARD will get noticed and if you continue to reward a given behavior (like using a Coffee Company slide in your PowerPoint and posting that online) then you’ll get a COFFEE REWARD in the form of a COFFEESTRIPPENKAART — worth about 21 Euros and good for about 10 ‘Free’ coffees.

Apparently, the promotion is working quite well and EVERYONE in the local university community — and likely beyond — knows about The Coffee Company.

The Beauty in This Promotion
What I find is really commendable about this campaign . . . apart from the fact that it’s working nicely (the brand is being promoted by — and to — the very market segment this company wants as customers) is this . . . it’s ‘cost’ of acquiring all this publicity and promotion is being generated for PENNIES ON THE DOLLAR (OK, so maybe on their Dutch Guilder but you get the idea).  

Think about it . . . this company is getting students to carry out their promotion for 10 cups of coffee!!  And what is the Coffee Company’s true ‘cost’ to provide those 10 cups?  No where near 21 Euros, I know that!

The Take-Away
What I urge you to do is think about what this Coffee Company in The Netherlands has done and ask yourself, ‘How can we do the same KIND of thing for our business?”  If you do, I’ll bet you’ll find that being creative, successful and cost-effective is not only very possible, it’s entirely probable, too.

Implicit in any relationship that’s going to be productive is a high level of TRUST.

But what creates trust?  Try HONESTY.

Not the self-serving kind that’s designed to malign or hurt someone.  The kind of candor that, without prejudice, seeks purely to build trust by communicating that you are being honest and open with another person.

Here’s a brief clip that features Sydney Pollack, the famous director who’s on a panel addressing this very topic.


I just discovered a business called Snip-Its.


It’s a childrens hair salon designed to make getting your child’s hair cut a truly fun adventure.

It began when Joanna Meiseles, (the granddaughter of the famous Hollywood comedy star, Jack benny!) wanted to find a way to make getting a child’s hair cut something that won’t make you want to pull your hair out at the same time.

In The Marketing Club, we constantly seek to help you align the way you do business with the expectations of the market segment/s you want to attract as clients.  That’s ALIGNMENT.

In Joanna’s case, her target demographic is a child. And what do kids love more than anything else?  Yep.  Having fun!

So Joanna has created a themed environment that, from the moment you walk into it, screams ‘FUN’!

Her staff are trained specifically to be able to understand and respond to the unique needs of younger children.  Joanna also created a cast of characters who make getting your hair cut a truly fun experience.

Does this cause Snip-Its to stand out . . . to be differentiated . . . from any plain old hair salon?

What do you think?  (Of course it does!)

Click here . . . and see for yourself what a great example of ALIGNMENT looks like when it’s done well and with a passion!

My dear friend JoAnna Brandi — The Customer Care Lady™ just shared this . . . 



It’s a brief talk on the power of appreciation.  Sincere.  Heart-felt appreciation.  And, of course, the immense power of expressing your appreciation in the form of “Thank You”.

I must express my appreciation to JoAnna . . . so, here goes:  “JoAnna, my dear friend, “Thank You” for sharing this . . . you make the world better for being in it!”

On Tuesday, March 31 at 9 AM PDT or NOON EDT there is an online panel discussion that is #2 in a 5 part series sponsored by HP.

Tomorrow’s topic:

Creating Marketing Materials That Educate

The panelists include my good friend, John Jantsch, Founder of Duct Tape Marketing, Cliff Atkinson, Author of Beyond Bullet Points, Amy Nelson of LogoWorks, and Chanpory Rith, Publisher of Lifeclever.


The panel maintains that now, more than ever, creating marketing materials that attract interest and build trust builds business!

CLICK HERE . . . so you can register online!