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I grabbed this article from BizJournals.com. It originally appeared last year, and here’s a direct link if you’d like to read the original post. Good article and a good site!

Harvey Mackay: 10 valuable business lessons from Santa

Santa brings merriment to the season, but he also teaches us many valuable business lessons.

No matter how you celebrate the holidays, or even which holidays you celebrate, chances are you know about Santa Claus.

The jolly old elf brings merriment to the season, but he also teaches us many valuable lessons.

Here are 10 worth considering:

1. The value of giving

Aside from milk and cookies, Santa doesn’t get anything in return for all the gifts he shares with others. That is the real spirit of giving: not expecting anything in return. The joy of giving is reward enough.

2. Marketing and public relations

Santa’s image is everywhere, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t pay a dime for the exposure. He attracts crowds wherever he goes. Businesses put him front and center in ads, decorations, even in big comfy chairs in prime locations in shopping malls. They practically beg him to show up!

3. He hasn’t changed his basic look

More people can identify Santa than the president. His distinctive style of dress will never get him on a best-dressed list. But he doesn’t concern himself with that. His message has remained the same: a simple “Ho, ho, ho.” He doesn’t drive the latest model car. He is who he is and is content with that. What he does is more important than fad or fashion.

4. His attitude is contagious

He is always positive, reminding young and old alike to be good for goodness’ sake. How he keeps track of who is naughty or nice doesn’t really matter — he encourages people to be their best. He rewards good behavior. And who doesn’t like to be recognized for trying?

5. Santa respects deadlines

He knows from one December 25th to the next that he has customers to satisfy. He is beholden to the calendar. It wouldn’t work to try to stretch it into January or February. Reliability is an important trait.

6. Santa understands the value of tradition

Most of us have family or cultural traditions that bind us together. Businesses have traditions that customers anticipate. But have you ever noticed what happens when someone tries to change a long-held tradition? Santa knows better.

7. Customer service is high on his priority list

He aims to please, and he rarely disappoints. I’m guessing he reads every letter written in a childish scrawl before he makes his list. If you happen to overhear a conversation between Santa and a child asking for the hottest toy of the year, you will likely hear a promise to do his best, but he has some other great ideas, too. He won’t promise what he can’t deliver.

8. Teamwork is central to his operation

The demands on him are enormous. He understands that he can’t do it alone. A workshop full of elves and a team of nine little reindeer help him accomplish an impossible task year after year. I’ve heard there is magic involved, but I have no evidence to support it.

9. He epitomizes leadership

He leads his team, but he also guides the rest of believers toward the right path. He is consistent with his values. He is patient. He works hard. He is forgiving of mistakes and loves what he does. And that brings me to my next point.

10. He lives the wisdom of “love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life”

There can be no question that this guy wouldn’t want to do anything else. Santa couldn’t do what he has done for centuries without real enthusiasm for his efforts. Santa takes his work very seriously, but he doesn’t take himself seriously. He loves to laugh, make people happy, bring surprises, and spread good cheer. Santa understands that fun is good. a world full of serious problems, bringing a little happiness is a welcome relief. We can all do something to brighten someone else’s day.

Here is a shameless plug for getting on Santa’s “nice” list: This month, I will once again be donning a Santa hat and taking a shift ringing bells for the Salvation Army. For 12 years I have had this pleasure, and I hope to continue this tradition for many more holiday seasons. I encourage you to toss a few coins or dollars into the red kettle, or help whatever charity you can. Even if Santa doesn’t see you, you can be sure you have embodied his spirit.

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Yes, I run this this story every year. I love this story more and more every year. I have yet to research whether or not it is true, because I really don’t care whether or not it is true! Enjoy! – Dr. Burt

A guy named Bob May, depressed and brokenhearted, stared out his drafty apartment window into the chilling December night. His 4-year-old daughter, Barbara, sat on his lap quietly sobbing. Bob’s wife, Evelyn, was dying of cancer. Little Barbara couldn’t understand why her mommy could never come home. Barbara looked up into her dads eyes and asked, “Why isn’t Mommy just like everybody else’s Mommy?” Bob’s jaw tightened and his eyes welled with tears. Her question brought waves of grief, but also of anger. It had been the story of Bob’s life. Life always had to be different for Bob. Being small when he was a kid, Bob was often bullied by other boys. He was too little at the time to compete in sports. He was often called names he’d rather not remember.

From childhood, Bob was different and never seemed to fit in. Bob did complete college, married his loving wife and was grateful to get his job as a copywriter at Montgomery Ward during the Great Depression. Then he was blessed with his little girl.

But it was all short-lived. Evelyn’s bout with cancer stripped them of all their savings and now Bob and his daughter were forced to live in a two-room apartment in the Chicago slums. Evelyn died just days before Christmas in 1938. Bob struggled to give hope to his child, for whom he couldn’t even afford to buy a Christmas gift. But if he couldn’t buy a gift, he was determined a make one – a storybook!

Bob had created an animal character in his own mind and told the animal’s story to little Barbara to give her comfort and hope. Again and again Bob told the story, embellishing it more with each telling. Who was the character? What was the story all about? The story Bob May created was his own autobiography in fable form. The character he created was a misfit outcast like he was. The name of the character? A little reindeer named Rudolph, with a big shiny nose.

Bob finished the book just in time to give it to his little girl on Christmas Day. But the story doesn’t end there. The general manager of Montgomery Ward caught wind of the little storybook and offered Bob May a nominal fee to purchase the rights to print the book. Wards went on to print Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and distribute it to children visiting Santa Claus in their stores. By 1946 Wards had printed and distributed more than six million copies of Rudolph. That same year, a major publisher wanted to purchase the rights from Wards to print an updated version of the book. In an unprecedented gesture of kindness, the CEO of Wards returned all rights back to Bob May. The book became a best seller. Many toy and marketing deals followed and Bob May, now remarried with a growing family, became wealthy from the story he created to comfort his grieving daughter.

But the story doesn’t end there either. Bob’s brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, made a song adaptation to Rudolph. Though the song was turned down by such popular vocalists as Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore , it was recorded by the singing cowboy, Gene Autry.

“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was released in 1949 and became a phenomenal success, selling more records than any other Christmas song, with the exception of “White Christmas.” The gift of love that Bob May created for his daughter so long ago kept on returning to bless him again and again. And Bob May learned the lesson, just like his dear friend Rudolph, that being different isn’t so bad. In fact, being different can be a blessing!

It’s choice–not chance–that determines your destiny.” – Jean Nidetch, entrepreneur & founder of Weight Watchers”


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Good copy, Home Depot!

By Dr. Burt Smith December 14th, 2015

2015-12-11 11.20.38Pop quiz: Is this good marketing? The answer in a moment (like you didn’t already know what the answer is!). (Psst… you can find a hint here if need be.

Anyhow, on with the story.

I spied this display right outside the main entrance to Home Depot. They had an immaculately trimmed Christmas tree with a sign that read “Visit our Garden Center for your fresh cut tree,” and an arrow directed prospects to the entrance to the Garden Center.

Loved it! I thought the copy was well done. “Visit” is always a pleasant word, and the “for your fresh cut tree” verbiage really resonated with me. Just very well done.

So back to the to the original question:”Is this good marketing?” The answer is, “Does it get results?” Here’s where I have to say, in my case it didn’t.

I thought it was clever, well placed, well done, and so forth, it just didn’t move me to want to purchase a live tree. We’re an artificial, pre-lit tree kind of family.

To be fair, though, am I really their target market? If we’re not a live tree kind of family, my answer may not count. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if this message did in fact resonate with its intended target market, that prospect who actually wants a fresh-cut tree. For that matter, it might even spur a purchase from someone who has thought about trying a fresh cut tree but just hadn’t yet made the plunge.  Were those things to occur, then indeed it would have to be considered “good marketing” because it did indeed get results!

All that aside, I still just really liked it, doggone it! Someone once said that advertising is “Art for the masses,” and I’d have to agree. A worthwhile attempt needs to be appreciated!

I know half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, but I can never find out which half.” – John Wanamaker


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text mobile phoneI know a lot of today’s generation tends to communicate via text. Many have said that’s their preferred means of receiving messages, which has led a lot of marketers to adopt this as the next big way to disseminate information. To be fair, usually such information is requested via subscription or something, so it is indeed something the customer did ask for.

But I wonder if the possible brand damage that tactic could inflict has really been considered.

Here’s what I mean…

Let’s imagine you’ve subscribed to receive short little Burtisms, similar to these blog entries, via text here and there. One would hope we’d have the same great experience we have here, me sharing ideas from time to time and you getting a little something useful. Once a week a little Burtism text pops up in your text inbox, you read it at your convenience, it brightens your day, you happily go on about your life.

But what if my happy little Burtism text pops up right in the middle of an important conversation you’re trying to have? What if I’m interrupting good news? Wouldn’t that be rather an aggravation? What if my happy little Burtism pops up during bad/sad news? In addition to being an aggravation, might that be  considered inappropriate, even it it’s not intentionally so? Even if you could forgive such an intrusion, might my brand then carry that negative association with it from then on?

As my friend –  and quite the marketer himself – Nic Bittle said, “What we sign up for today might be a nuisance tomorrow.”

Indeed, and that’s not the kind of brand association you want.

The answer remains to be seen, but a it’s not a bad idea to ask these kinds of “then what” questions as you go.



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