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Here’s a commercial that I loved! It really showcases how organizations should exist not to just make products or provide services, but to enrich lives! Every organization should clearly define its purpose. It’s purpose should identify exactly WHO it serves and HOW. Every subsequent decision should be derived from that purpose. Granted, there are a lot more little decisions to be made along the way that will sometimes make this simple to relate to concept seem very difficult to enact, but I think anyone would find it hard to argue with the power of a good, solid, empowering purpose.

If you look at the comments made by some of the YouTube viewers you’ll see that not everybody loves this commercial, and I have to admit that I’m not as big a fan of GE overall as I once was, but this commercial gets a definite thumbs-up.

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The obvious yet surprisingly often overlooked reason repeat business is so important is that having a happy customer return means not having to spend money attracting a new one. Customers that come back are already coming back at a premium because there are no acquisition costs associated with that business. Costs we would have ordinarily had to expend to attract those customers are foregone and can go right into the gross margin of the sale.

And it can even get better! Customers that happily return will likely spend MORE with us over time. As such, that additional revenue comes to us as a premium.

And if that wasn’t enough, when those satisfied customers refer others to us, there are zero acquisition costs associated with getting the new customers! It’s like having an unpaid marketing team working for us around the clock!

And all we really have to do to make that happen is to treat the customer right when they do business with us. The best way to get MORE business is to do GOOD business. It may not be easy, but it really is that simple.

Profit in business comes from repeat customers, customers who boast about your project or service, and that bring friends with them.” – W. Edwards Deming

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My dear wife, Terri, and I celebrated the 10th anniversary of the day we met by doing the same thing we were doing the day we met, which is fighting for a CURE for muscular dystrophy. Terri was a district director way back then and the Summer Sizzler Car Show was one of her many big events. I was her auctioneer as part of my tour as the newly crowned 2002 Oklahoma State Champion Auctioneer. It was love at first sight, and we’ve continued to make a point of helping with the event every year.

What was extra-cool this year was that our five year old son, Dalton, got to play a role in the tradition! Each year I open up the auction by thanking the crowd, some of whom have been at the auction for as long as I’ve been doing it, for everything THEY are doing to help find a cure for this disease. I always make a point of letting them know that every bid they make at the auction helps move us that much closer to a cure, and that getting to take home some neat items at a price they want to pay is just an added bonus. This year, I handed the microphone to Dalton, who made his old dad proud by saying clearly and distinctly, “Good luck on your bidding!”

As I said that day, I am convinced that by the time Dalton is a parent, muscular dystrophy will be something that you can only read about in the history books because of the help of good folks like YOU.

Thanks to all of you who were there to support the event and THANK YOU for all you’re doing to find a cure.


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The other day a colleague of mine had a problem with a computer program he was working with. I was able to offer him a quick solution which impressed the heck out of him, which was great, until he asked me how I was able to do that, and I had forgotten! He quickly became less impressed. I spent the rest of the day obsessed with trying to remember how I did learn to do whatever it was I did.

I got to thinking about it, and I recalled that I knew how to solve it because I HAD to! In fact, it got me to pondering how over the years, as a sole practitioner, I’d often find myself up against a deadline. Right about that time Murphy’s Law would show up. I had an unscheduled problem and a deadline to meet, which meant that I had to get that problem solved and get on with it! So I’d stay after it and experiment and tinker until I found the answer. It was frustrating at the time, but in the end it was quite a feeling to know I could solve my own dilemma. Downright empowering, in fact!

One important characteristic shared by entrepreneurs is a can-do, refuse-to-quit attitude. As Tom Peters said years ago as he urged larger organizations to think like small businesses,  small businesses succeed because they have to! Rarely easy, often nerve-wracking, but when it all comes together there’s a sense of satisfaction that’s hard to describe. The next time you find yourself up against a challenge, remember that solving it will be rewarding in more ways than one.

Fall down seven times. Get up eight.” – Japanese Proverb


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Especially in the digital age, sending a hand-written correspondence to someone is a way to distinguish your brand. As I wrote in The Great Game of Networking, customers appreciate not only the attention, but the time it took you to send the note. My friend Rachel Wagner is an expert in business etiquette and she has some excellent thoughts on why personal correspondence is a good idea, and she offers some well-mannered how-to’s with regard to the subject as well.

P.S. – Look closely at the samples she features and see if you spot one of your favorite logos


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Mad about YOU?

By Dr. Burt Smith July 10th, 2012

Mad Men has made all kinds of television history, including being named best drama for four years in a row, and there are legions of loyal fans who revere the show. It even inspired the theme for the monstrously successful Marketini event held by the AMAOKC this year. For a marketer, it’s a blast to watch because they interweave so much advertising history into the story lines. For a person who grew up in a house of the 70s, which was decorated with stuff from the 50s and 60s, just the scenery alone is a draw.

There are a lot of reasons why Mad Men deserves all the success is is enjoying, but I think the number one reason was summed up by series creator Josh Weiner himself, when he said, “We make Mad Men for the fans. My goal is to tell a compelling story and entertain people, and it thrills me that people keep watching.”

I think the passion he obviously has for the show is also a key reason for its success. He loves making the show because he’s a fan of it too. He’s his own customer, in other words!

The CUSTOMER is the answer to every marketing question. Give them value and continue to do so and you’re well on your way to success. It may not be easy, but it is that simple.

Inspiration does exist, but it must find you working.” — Pablo Picasso


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No, I’m not changing my tune. I still say, “Don’t cut the price, build the brand!” I still advocate competing on value rather than price simply because there is always some short-sighted competitor out there who is willing to give away the store. Just as I believe an undeniable truth is that quality is always cheaper in the long run, I believe building a quality brand experience will yield far more long-term benefits for the organization.

I propose another undeniable truth is that marketing requires an investment of resources.That may mean a huge budget if you’re a huge company or a lot of sweat equity if you’re a small business or startup. An investment in marketing has to be made in order to ultimately yield a return and get you results, which is where a “discount” can be considered less a discount and more of  reallocation of your marketing investment. If you have reason to believe offering a lower price than you’d optimally like to command will yield future benefits significant enough to warrant it, then it may not be such a bad idea.

For example, you might offer your discount in the form of an introductory offer. By taking away some of the perceived risk the customer has, you earn their business sooner. Once you show them value, they should see why your offer is worth the original price and offer less resistance to paying it. Trust is hard to earn, but worth its weight in gold once we have it. If you really have your act together, you’ll build a relationship the customer won’t sever without a very good reason.

Because it’s far more efficient to grow an existing relationship than to build a new one, even if we aren’t able to raise the discounted price right away we stand to benefit from the ongoing cash flow and from the opportunities to gain more of their business on other offers. We may make less than we’d like on a particular product, but if we can count on that discounted cash flow over time, that alone may be worth considering. And if we can grow share-of-customer by involving them with other products, that’s how we can really maximize the profits of the relationship.

A discount isn’t a discount if it ultimately pays for itself!

Why pay a dollar for a bookmark? Why not use the dollar for the bookmark?” – Steven Spielberg


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Independence day message: THANK YOU!

We live in, and reap the benefits of, the free market because our men and women in the armed forces, throughout the history of this great nation, took an oath to defend that freedom with their own lives if necessary.

I know several of you who are readers here have military service to your credit and I am embarrassed to say that I am often so selfishly enjoying the freedom you helped provide, I don’t take time to appreciate it.

No freedom, no free market. Thank you for making Independence Day possible!

Happy 4th of July!


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