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Something McDonald’s is considering as part of it’s retooling in order to reboot profitable growth is serving breakfast all day. I think this is a good idea for a couple of reasons.

The most important is that it’s in response to what customers want. McDonald’s does a tremendous breakfast business, and there have been ongoing requests from customers for the availability of a breakfast menu all day. When you get multiple requests for something you know you can profitably offer, that’s really all the market research you need.

The second reason is that it looks to me like a lower-risk, lower-maintenance way to grow. They’re not gambling on the introduction of a new product, but are instead growing share-of-customer by getting more business from those customers who are already fans and want to consume more. There is also the possibility that there are potential customers who aren’t crazy about McDonald’s’ other menu items but might be attracted to the breakfast offerings, or that there are customers who would prefer breakfast foods during different times of the day. It’s business they are currently missing because it’s simply not offered.

My informal conversations with McDonald’s managers tells me this may not be such a great idea, though, simply because they say each store location lacks the space to accommodate the extra inventory that would be required to stock an “all day” breakfast menu. Good to know, and also a good lesson in how as we’re “cooking up” (yeah, thanks, I thought that one was clever too!) a strategy at the corporate levels, it’s a good idea to think about how they will be implemented at the business-unit and operational levels of the business.

Anyhow, I like how McDonald’s is thinking, in that regard, and I’m overall optimistic about what the future holds for them despite the number of obstacles they face. That’s not to say I don’t have some very big concerns, including something inexcusable McDonald’s needs to fix, and fix pronto, and that’ll be the discussion of next week’s entry.

But here’s a hint: “If you’ve got time to lean, you’ve got time to clean.” – Ray Kroc


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Many of the frustrations in marketing come from focusing on the wrong things. We ask the wrong questions, which in turn makes the problem we’re trying to solve seem that much more difficult. In fact, we often end up trying to solve the wrong problem in the first place!

Consider a typical Restaurant owner. She may think her goal is to reach the 15,000 people in her overall market area, or a, but that’s really not the “goal” at all. That’s just a means to an end. The real goal is to fill the 75 tables in her restaurant every night she’s open.

Accomplishing that may not involve a campaign that reaches out to 15,000 people or costs a fortune, but instead might be as simple as  reaching out to the restaurant’s immediate market area (a customer could be as close as next door!). Or it might be as simple as trying to get more repeat/frequent business from its existing customers or in getting existing customers to tell others about their positive experience so they become brand ambassadors for the restaurant. She might find that if she makes her goal filling the 75 tables repeatedly, it’s as simple, and attainable, as satisfying one customer at a time.

Remember, sometimes getting MORE business is as simple as doing GOOD business!

Often we waste too much time and energy trying to solve the wrong problems. And the flip side to that, of course, is that once we accurately define the problem, solving it becomes a whole lot easier!

There are no failures, only outcomes! – Tony Robbins



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Two marketing terms you hear thrown around a lot are “market segmentation” and “share of customer”.

Market segmentation basically means taking this thing called “the market” and recognizing that there really is no “the market,” but instead multiple markets of prospects with similar characteristics, wants, needs, etc. So what you do is to take “the market” and break it into relevant groups called segments. Your marketing strategy then becomes going about targeting a segment or multiple segments with value-based messages aimed at differentiating yourself from your competitors who are trying their best to win those same customers (which is where positioning comes in).

Share of customer simply means getting more business from your existing customers. Often the term is used to describe how to get your existing customers to buy what they are currently buying, or plan to buy, from your competition to buy from you instead.

Here’s an example of how DeBeers Diamonds has done a sparkling job of using market segmentation to grow share of customer. For one thing, they have taken “the market” and divided potential customers into like groups based on stages in the customer’s life or life style. For those who are just friends, they offer friendship rings. For those who promise to maybe offer a deeper commitment one of these days they offer promise rings. For the  about-to-be marrieds, they market engagement rings. For those who are married there are anniversary rings, motherhood rings, eternity rings, etc., all of which help commemorate various stages the customers go through in their lives.

They are segmenting the market by these stages, and simultaneously gain the opportunity of growing share of customer by having something to offer the same customers  as they progress through these different stages of life.

Smart way to mix and match!

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust




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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 with something, 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


Comments Off on Thanks for a timeless branding lesson, B.C Clark!

cell phone - pdaA few days ago I purchased a new Samsung Galaxy S4 for my wife. Now, before you Apple Devotees show up at my website with torches and pitchforks, go check that phone out. It’s a powerhouse! Anyhow, I’ve been a mostly-happy SPRINT customer for nearly two decades now. I say “mostly-happy” because there were a couple of easily-avoidable, hard-to-excuse bobbles on SPRINT’s part in the last few years. I won’t bore you with the details here because I almost wore you slick with BLOG posts about it a couple of years ago when it happened. Plus, I like to write mostly positive stuff, and to SPRINT’s credit, they finally did get the problem resolved and I was once again a happy customer.

When I bought this phone and got a text from SPRINT telling me I had to go and “verify” my discount. As I went from one SPRINT web page to another, failing to have my discount code recognized, I started getting that same “alone in a dark alley and about to get mugged” feeling I’d had a couple of years ago. Fortunately, this time, SPRINT had Sara taking care of it for me.

I called in to get help and Sara not only patiently helped me figure out a simple way to navigate the site, but on her own initiative, she reviewed my account helped me locate an even better discount that is going to save me another 4%.

Are you listening, SPRINT? I hope so, because THAT is how you keep a customer for life. Sara just saved your brand! Sara IS your brand as far I, your CUSTOMER, am concerned.

Good business means providing a quality product and being there to answer the questions of your customers. It means doing what you can to make sure theirs experience with you is indeed a good EXPERIENCE.  It means owning up to, and fixing, a problem when it occurs. And if you can give your customers a little MORE than they expected, that’s an investment that’ll come back to you, too, because they’ll tell others. If you want MORE business, do GOOD business!

Someday when Sara is the president of SPRINT, I hope she’ll remember this post in her acceptance speech!

We figure our best salesman is our customer. Treat that person right, he’ll walk out the door and sell for you.” – Jerry Murrell, Founder, Five Guys Burgers



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Want more business?

Here’s how you can get it: Do GOOD business! Yep, it’s just that simple. Just commit to consistently doing GOOD business in every aspect of your business.

Granted, that’s a lot easier said than done. Simple yes, but easy, well, not so much…

But worth it? You betcha.

Let advertisers spend the same amount of money improving their product that they do on advertising and they wouldn’t have to advertise.” Will Rogers

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That an organization tends to get less efficient as it grows probably doesn’t come as a great, earth-shattering, revolutionary piece of news to you. But what may sometimes elude our understanding is exactly why it seems to be that as an organization gets larger, growth sometimes comes at the price of efficiency, which in turn causes us to question if the net gain is really worth it.

I ran across this quote by Al Ries in The 22 Immutable Laws of Internet Marketing and I thought it really hit the nail on the head:

As a company gets bigger, it also becomes internally less efficient. Too many layers of management, too many channels of communication, too much time spent just keeping track of what others in the organization are doing.”


Now we know! He goes on to praise the addition of computers to the systems of the organization as a way of helping manage some of these inefficiencies, but I think the big lesson for us is to be careful how we grow! Bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. Bigger almost always means that complexity goes up, which also increases the number of opportunities for error (thank you for that lesson, Six Sigma!).

So growth is good, just be careful how you grow! Is a bigger but less efficient organization really what you want?

Growth that results only in volume and does not produce higher overall productivities is fat – it should be sweated.” – Peter F. Drucker


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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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