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Every time you get lousy service, you should jump for joy!

You should then put on your entrepreneurial hat and go about capitalizing on this amazing opportunity! You have just discovered an under-served market! A gap in the market that you may be able to fill! So be excited! Be very excited!

The great thing about a free market economy is that opportunities abound. Having an experience as a customer that is below your expectations probably means your peers have had a similarly unfortunate experience. Which means you have, at the very least, an indicator that there’s an opportunity to capitalize upon AND the exact market segment you should target!

Think about Kemmons Wilson, founder of Holiday Inn. As he traveled across the country in the 1950s, he was extremely put off by the lack of consistency and quality of his family’s experiences with roadside motels of that era, particularly the fact that he was charged for his kids’ stay, even though they shared the same room. He thought about it, and wisely recognized that there were undoubtedly other families who had the same issue. After doing a little research on his own he brought his vision of a better solution for families on vacation to life by creating Holiday Inn, where “Kids stay free!”

Though “Kids stay free” is now pretty much the standard, at the time that revolutionary concept created a whole market niche for Holiday Inn. Customers immediately saw “Kids stay free” as not just a way to save money, but as a value proposition suggesting that the entire Holiday Inn experience would be built around their wants and needs.

History is full of sweeping, exciting, and beneficial changes that resulted all because a visionary like YOU asked “Why does it have to be this way?” then went about proving, through your delivery of a better solution, that in fact it does NOT have to be this way!

So smile really big the next time you are the victim of lackluster service. You may have just discovered a gold mine!

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According to Advertising Super-Giant J. Walter Thompson, 2008 may officially mark the end of the ability to segment, categorize, or otherwise label customers on a broad scale.

“Demographic ‘pigeonholing’ will become less useful to marketers, as consumers change their behaviors -such as when they marry or attend school and for how long – in less predictable ways. Marketers and others will focus on behavioral segmentation, rather than age, when targeting their campaigns.” (www.jwt.com)

This is really not a huge surprise, especially for those of us who for many years have been skeptical of the kind of “pigeonholing” advocated by such instruments as the VALS II.

This great nation of ours was built on rugged individualism! American consumers have always used their purchasing ability as an empowerment tool, and as the number of consumer choices grows, so do the number of possible combinations of items a consumer can buy, and how they can buy. I think Harry Beckwith said it best in Selling the Invisible, when he discussed how even two best friends, who are best friends because they have so much in common, won’t have exactly the same posessions, or even the same attitudes & ideals about their posessions. Labeling and categorizing consumers has been problematic from day one, but has become increasingly so due to the changes in consumer lifestyle afforded us by the amazing number of choices American consumers have.

That’s not to say that customer profiling isn’t useful. What we have to do is learn as much as possible about our own customers, and, if possible, each individual customer and then customize our offerings accordingly. Once you delve into your customer information, you may even see some similarities that lead you to some logical groupings, leading you to develop your own customer categorizations. That is altogether different from trying to take someone else’s template and overlay it with your customer information, and far more useful. In other words, your customer database is now more valuable than ever if you use it to its potential!

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Where’s The Shark?

By Dr. Burt Smith January 8th, 2008

Remember that eery scene from the first Jaws movie where the woman is swimming at night in the ocean? She first feels something bump into her, then something tugs her down a couple of times, then she’s seen being dragged violently through the water, then she’s seen no more! And the scary Jaws da-dum, da-dum, da-dum da-dum da-dum theme is accompanying this terrifying depiction!

It’s a brilliant piece of suspense filmaking, but it happened that way by accident! Now don’t get me wrong, Steven Spielberg is a brilliant and highly accomplished director who had impressive credits before Jaws and has since earned himself icon status many times over in motion picture history. And it was indeed his idea to write the scenes for the opening of Jaws as is now historically known, but that opening wasn’t his first choice.

Spielberg had originally decided to introduce the shark in the very first frame. However, technical difficulties delayed the availablilty of the mechanical shark that was to be used in the movie well into the production schedule, calling for rewrites. Spielberg brilliantly rolled with these setbacks and ended up with a better product as a result. This story and many more interesting ones are told in the Hollywood documentary, Boffo! Tinseltown’s Bombs & Blockbusters

As business professionals, we need to remember that every opportunity may first come to us disguised as a threat! If we’ll take command of the situation and see what possibilities exist, we may create for ourselves a set of successful circumstances that exceed anything we originally imagined. So the next time you face a challenge or threat, get excited and then go about working to turn it into an opportunity!