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Oklahoma City Jeweler, BC Clark, used the same jingle for their Christmas promotion year after year. Then a few years ago, they got to thinking that maybe the market was tired of this jingle, because they were getting tired of it, so they decided to change it. They quickly learned it was a big mistake because their customers let them know! They very quickly changed it right back. You can get the whole story here.

While some might consider this a “strategic hiccup,” it’s actually quite a story in the power of their brand, and a profitable lesson for us all. If a customer is so attached to any aspect of your business they’d miss it if you changed it, you know you’ve got a loyal following. Any time your customers will take time to speak up and let you know they’re unhappy, that’s a golden opportunity to fix it. You’ll likely keep and grow a customer relationship, and you may even impress them so much with your handling of the situation that they’ll tell all their friends about it and your net result will be even MORE customers and more profit!

Keep in mind that customers you get from referrals have no acquisition costs attached to them, so the margins are that much better! Strong customer service is a critical component of effective branding!

It also reminds us precisely When We Should Change A Strategy.

The wise person isn’t the one who makes the fewest mistakes. It’s the one who learns the most from them.” – Harvey Mackay

Rudolph!

By Dr. Burt Smith December 4th, 2018

Yep, I run this this story every year. I grow to love this story more and more every year! – 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”

 

Thanksgiving 2018

By Dr. Burt Smith November 21st, 2018

This is one of my favorite times of the year and this post is always one of my favorite to write as you might recall if you’ve been a reader here through the decade-plus I’ve been doing this. It’s always my great pleasure to just say “Thank you” for your support and for your welcoming me onto your device now and then with my BLOG thoughts.

This Thanksgiving is a totally different than any other I’ve celebrated in my life.

That’s because this is my first Thanksgiving as an orphan.

What I mean is, my father passed away 30 years ago, and this last September, after a long battle with dementia, my dear mother left this earth for a much better place.

I have to be honest, that’s been a lot greater punch to the gut than I had imagined it would be.

On the other hand, our whole family has a lot to be thankful for when it comes to how my mother touched our lives and in the legacy she leaves behind that is what I find myself reflecting on this holiday season. And don’t be surprised if you find me working to pass along some of her wisdom here in the coming months.

The Bible says to be thankful in all circumstances. My mom always did that, and I hope to follow her example.

So this year, when I say thank you for your support, I hope you know it comes with extra special meaning.

So, sincerely, thank you!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

I’m gonna go all “grouchy old man” on you and predict early that the new Magnum, P.I. series could fail.

For one thing, the original show was really good because it was, well, original! It was a cool action show yet the characters were believable and likeable, they grew and developed over the show’s 8 seasons, on and on goes the list of things we loved about that 1980s classic.

This is a remake, a redo, a re-imagine, whatever. Because it’s not the original, there will be constant comparisons to the original which could really hold it back. Yeah, I know, there are shows like the rebooted Hawaii Five-O which are actually pretty good, I have to admit, but I really think this one is destined for a very short run, and for any number of reasons, but I’ll share just one for you to think about.

In his autobiography, The Garner Files, James Garner told a story about how the initial imagining of the Thomas Magnum character was that of a near superhero who was flawless in his execution, never lost at love, etc. Tom Selleck, who had guest starred repeatedly on Garner’s hit show The Rockford Files, knew one of the reasons for Rockford’s success was that the Jim Rockford character was very fallible, wasn’t afraid to show fear, and so forth. So he suggested a rewrite of the Thomas Magnum character and one of the most iconic TV characters was born.

The trailer for the new show suggests this new Thomas Magnum will be that superhero type who can leap from a speeding truck onto a helicopter and do all kinds of other impossible stunts. Fearlessly. How is that any different from any other modern, cookie-cutter TV or movie action hero? Plus, the previews suggest we’ll be bombarded with special effects since that technology is so cheap it’s affordable for even the smallest TV series budget. The effects and the splashy editing will likely be the real star of the show, completely counter to the character-driven storytelling that worked so well for the original Magnum, P.I.

To be fair, I’ll give it a shot, but I don’t plan on getting my hopes up.

You gotta be first, better, or different.” – Loretta Lynn

 

 

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If you’ve been to the movies lately (and my family has been a bunch this summer ’cause there have been some great ones!) you notice there’s a trend going on that kind of seems to come and go. You’ll see ads  and commercials for local organizations run before the previews of coming attractions start.

You’ll also notice that in addition to ads for local organizations, there are ads for the ads. That is, you’ll see a message of some sort that says you, too, can purchase advertising that runs before the previews of coming attractions.

What struck me the other day is their value proposition: Your message can run in a “distraction free environment.” And that’s pretty much true! No other messaging is competing for the audiences’ attention at that time. True, the ubituitous cell phone is a potential distraction, but my observations have been that most people are enjoying their $11 soft drink and $20 bucket of popcorn and are at least observing what’s going on before them on the screen. And if the message before them is compelling and is something for which they are a target customer, then using such a tactic might make good sense.

So good for them for making the most of that valuable digital real estate!

If you want to catch fish, fish where the fish are.” – Unknown

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You’ve probably heard the saying, “70% of success is showing up.” You may have heard different statistics associated with it and/or you may have heard the quote attributed to different people. Regardless of who originated it, like a lot of sayings that have been passed down through the ages, there’s a lot of truth in it.

The majority of success in many things in life is indeed directly correlated with simply “showing up.” Simply taking actions that can move you toward your goal will help you get there. No great surprise. “Showing up” is certainly VERY important when it comes to being a successful networker, but the MOST importatant thing you do in networking may be following up.

Yes, it’s essential that you stay in the habit of regularly networking, especially when you may not feel like it. But even more essential is that you make sure that as you meet new contacts, you follow up with them so you can keep yourself top of mind when it comes to ways you may be able to help them. Or for ways you may be able to help those they know so they can eagerly refer you to them.

Show up, follow-up, repeat. Keep after it and you’ll be happy with the results you see.

Some days there won’t be a song in your heart. Sing anyway.” – Emory Austin

 

 

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Seth Godin is a brilliant marketer.

He often posts a blog entry of only one sentence or a few sentences.

And people think it’s amazing.

And when he does it, it is.

If I were to do that, it’d just look like I was trying to imitate Mr. Godin.

Or just lazy.

Or both.

Which is lousy branding.

So I will think long and hard before I ever do that.

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Thank you…

By Dr. Burt Smith May 24th, 2018

 

 

 

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One of the saddest things you’ll ever see is a leader who doesn’t lead.

They want the title, they want the position, they want the power, they want whatever it is they want, but they don’t want to serve.

They don’t want to make tough decisions, they don’t want to take responsibility, they don’t really want to “do” much of anything except occupy the role of the “leader.”

Sad.

Just sad.

Lead, follow, or get outta the way!” – Someone who understood leadership.

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Off and on over the years I’ve taken a few jabs at Wal-Mart. You might think it’s because I grew up in a family owned business and that family-owned business was a little grocery store and that I have such dislike because Wal-Mart is often accused of running the “little guy” out of business.

Nope, what set me off at Wal-Mart was the lousy service I was getting, particularly at the Neighborhood Market near where we live. I mean it was pathetic. Complaining didn’t do a lot of good so I decided to boycott them and drive a couple more miles to CVS and pay a few dollars more where I knew my business would be appreciated.

But I happened to be in my Neighborhood Market some time ago – sorry, I can’t recall exactly why I decided to give them another chance – and it was, literally, a different place. It was a different place because all those grouchy, loafing sour pusses had been replaced with a whole new customer-oriented leadership team that would make ole Sam Walton proud.

But I’m still not a Wal-Mart customer…

I consider myself a customer of Tyrone, Glenn, Zach, Carol, Tim, George, Shea, and Barb and all the other nice folks on the team at the Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market who now take care of me.

I could give you all kinds of stories from my recent experiences to back up my renewed endorsement and why they’re now referral-worthy, but the common denominator is SERVICE!

Incidentally, the lesson is that no matter what size your business is or what sector you’re in, service is how you differentiate yourself. Service is how you get and keep customers for life. And that lifetime customer value is the cash flow that keeps you in business…And ahead of your competition!

 

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