Posts tagged Brand

Les Schwab Does Good Business

I know that we all have different experiences with companies – sometimes good, sometimes bad. In fact, good brands want to make that experience as consistent as possible from person to person. On this post, I’d like to compliment Les Schwab for the experiences I’ve had with their company. For about five years now, I’ve been visiting Les Schwab for all of my tire needs (although, I recently discovered they do much more than tires well). They’ve earned my trust – and I believe that is paramount in any successful relationship (be it personal life or professional life). Les Schwab is one of the few companies I’ve encountered that I trust to not rip me off. I have a long history of sales experience – I understand how it works, how up-selling works and pushing goals to increase the average transaction price per customer. Businesses can get carried away with this sales mentality, and forget to value the relationship with the customer. But that doesn’t seem to be the case with Les Schwab.

I can’t tell you how many times my wife or I have taken our cars to Les Schwab only to have them find ways to save us money, tell us that something would be unnecessary, or simply give us a service for free, thank us, and send us on our way. Are you kidding me? This from someone in the automotive industry – an industry notorious for ripping you off (come in to get a filter changed, and end up replacing your transmission). Now, Les Schwab could easily tell me I need to replace all my tires with the top-of-the-line performance tires. But, instead, they’ll let me know I only need to replace two tires, and then suggest a model that will perfect for my car and find a way to give me a 10% discount on them. Thanks. Just last week, I brought my car in because my brakes had been squealing. I asked them to inspect the brakes and replace them. They inspected the brakes, cleaned them up a little bit and then informed me that they looked great and I was good to go – free of charge. Many other automotive companies would have replaced my brakes anyway, even if they were perfectly fine – and they would at least charge me for the brake inspection.

So, kudos to you, Les Schwab. You value my trust, and you have earned it – and along with it, my continued business. You need to be recognized for that.

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More on RSCVA Tagline

Hey all. Just a quick link to an article from the Reno Gazette Journal that talks about the RSCVA tagline that I wrote about last month. It shares some decent quotes/perspectives about the challenges of coming up with a good tagline, and a reminder that the tagline is only a small part of the branding. I also couldn’t agree more with the idea presented in the RGJ article that approval by a committee often leads to a watered-down, lame tagline, logo, brochure, TV ad, brand, whatever. Try to avoid making eye contact with the comments on the article – they’re not overly impressive.

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Personal Branding. Brought to you by American Idol

They each have a distinct brand.

Idol contestants. They each have a distinct brand.

Guilty pleasure admission – I watch American Idol. There, I’ve got that out in the open. I feel better (with flashes of shame). But I’ve learned a few things by watching that show, other than how to hit that high C. American Idol gives us a couple of important lessons on personal branding.

The One Who…

When talking about American Idol contestants, we typically don’t remember their names, so we describe them in other ways: She’s the hippie girl; he’s the one that sounds like Sinatra; she’s the homeless girl; she’s the cute single mother; he’s the funny one. We’re defining the contestants by a certain set of characteristics – some physical, some behavioral. But, we are defining their brand. They are capturing a distinct position in our minds and hearts. This is a brand. How do people describe you when they talk about you? “He’s the one who is really focused on ROI, with a super-fun approach.” “She’s the mobile phone expert.” “She’s an over-bearing know-it-all.” 

And, you can’t have two cute, young, country singers. We only want one. You can’t have three hippie dudes. Our minds only want one brand to occupy that position. So it is with your personal brand. For example, you simply can’t be that guy who knows a lot about websites. Too many other people can occupy that same brand. Specialize the hell out of it. Be the guy who knows everything about SEO. Or even more, be the guy that knows everything about linking strategy for SEO. Or even better, be the guy who knows everything about SEO, and does instructional podcasts weekly, and always incorporates images of 80s TV stars. I don’t know – that’s a goofy example – but you occupy a clear brand position, at least. Be unique. Stand out. Just know that you will be described as something – what will it be? How will you be described?

Embracing Your Brand…

The other major lesson learned from American Idol is embracing your own brand. Ultimately, the contestants that succeed are the ones who decide who they are, and embrace it, whole-heartedly, in everything they do. You must embrace your brand. You simply cannot occupy more than one brand position. So, embrace what you are and pump it up. If you are the nerdy one – embrace that. If you are a bleeding heart, embrace that. Being true to your brand will ultimately be more powerful than trying to occupy a brand position that you could never own. Again – stand out and be unique. But don’t deny your brand – embrace it. 

And I’ll accept that the only place I’m a star singer is in my shower.

American Idol Cheerleaders

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Verizon Caught Saving Customer Money. WTF?

 

photo by Thomas Hawk

photo by Thomas Hawk

I stumbled upon an article on The Consumerist about Verizon calling a customer to tell him he could save money on his plan. Yeah, yeah, yeah – I’ve heard that a million times… “can we look at your account to try to save you money?” Then they up-sell you and you end up with a 5-year contract or some other ridiculous commitment.

BUT, that wasn’t the case here. It seems as though they actually wanted to save this customer money (and they DID). It seems like they actually cared that he had a good experience. It seems like they actually wanted him to be a satisfied customer. ((Check out the full story at the end of this post))

This is weird. I don’t know how to deal with this. Companies aren’t supposed to do that. Companies are supposed to extort you and squeeze every last dime out of you and then move on to the next poor sap. So, big kudos are in order for Verizon. THIS is exactly the way a company should treat it’s customers. This is exactly the way to keep a customer – do right for them. Hmm – that’s a pretty good idea.

(FULL STORY):

“…another call. This time it was from Rosanne. I am pretty sure that was her real name too. I was talking to somebody in Verizon’s customer service department whom is apparently tasked with reviewing new accounts and making sure everything is okay (kudos to you for having QA/QC on your plans Verizon!). She asks if my phone is for corporate use. “No”. But you have a corporate plan. “Yes I know, it is for the discount program at work”.

It turns out that she wanted to save me money, and she did to the tune of $40 per month! Basically for somebody who is not a corporate user, doesn’t need to get email from an exchange server or have access to the intranet at work, the $45 per month Blackberry plan (hence forth, VZW BES) was not required. Instead, I should have the $30 per month plan (hence forth, VZW BIS). Now, the VZW BES is labeled on Verizon’s website as “Unlimited Data” while the BIS is just “Internet and Email”. I confirmed with the CSR at least 3, maybe 4 times that both plans included unlimited data (that is, until I suck down 5 gigs worth to my Storm!). She told me that they were (she did go and confirm some things either with a supervisor or the computer, and I was on hold for the 2 or 3 instances for no more than 45 seconds).

So BAM, right there switching the Blackberry plans saves me $30 a month over both lines with zero change in services I am actually going to be using. I am not paying for things I won’t use now. This is awesome. Further more the CSR decides to check our minutes usage. We have a 700 minute share plan at this point, the smallest / cheapest they offer. We barely use 300-350 total peak minutes between the two of us on a busy month. Turns out, there is an unadvertised “loyalty” plan that is used for “loyal customers” (and probably also for those threatening to leave VZW) that is a share plan of 550 minutes and is $10 per month less. As a bonus we were given 500 additional minutes that is a “reserve” of sorts. If we do go over rather than getting billed the minutes come out of that reserve first. Cool eh?

So after 14 minutes and 3 seconds on the call, I am not saving $40 per month. How cool is that?”

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You’ve Got to Treat Her Like a Lady

I was prepared to write about brands on Twitter. I was going to argue that brands definitely should be on Twitter (based on a recent discussion that I read on MashableExhibit A, Exhibit B). While I still support brands on Twitter and other social media, I have seen so many bad examples, that I need to air my grievances about fellow marketers who are rushing to use this shiny new toy they heard about (for fear of being left behind) called social media. And, in doing so, are treating it like advertising, and tainting the landscape for everybody. 

Ahh – Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose – you were so wise when you wrote “Treat Her Like a Lady.” You and many other romantics truly understand social media. We marketers should pay attention to those beautiful songs to have an equal understanding of how to interact in social media.  

Some marketers are like that guy who is verbally or physically abusive to his girlfriend. Sure, she trusted him at first – she may have even believed she could change him. But, what he did was jade her toward other men; perfectly good and well-intentioned men who just want to talk or listen. But she has every right to be jaded. Why should she trust you, or me, or any other guy (brand) from here on out? Why welcome them with open trusting arms, only to be blasted with abusive, one-sided messages, and unwanted garbage? 

Do you see what you did, jerk-faced marketer? You’re ruining it for the rest of us! We could be good for her. We could give her what she wants and needs out of a relationship. But you ruined it! Here’s what you did wrong.

YOU ACTED LIKE AN ADVERTISEMENT.

Yes, that is shameful in the social media arena. The one thing that SO MANY marketers (be they agencies or independent) forget is that social media is really quite simple. Lean in closely as I tell you the secret to unlock the true power of social media…

TREAT SOCIAL MEDIA LIKE A GENUINE, TRUTHFUL, CARING RELATIONSHIP. (sorry for the all-caps again, I’m getting irritated)

I know that for many of you, maintaining a relationship is one of the most difficult endeavors you’ve ever encountered. If that’s the case, you can use this blog post to improve your success in social media, and in your love life. You’re welcome. 

Treat her like a lady

Treat her like a lady

1. Offer some value to the relationship. What do you offer her? Seriously, think about that question. Don’t tell me periodic discounts and links to your blog, Casanova. What does she get out of the relationship? Is the relationship all about you – all about what you can get out of her? For shame! Do something for her without concern of how it benefits you.

2. You must listen to your lady. This is HUGE! Would you want to stay in a relationship with somebody who just talks and talks and talks about themselves? Hell no. Nobody does. You aren’t that interesting – admit it. This is another example of a one-sided relationship. Listen to her talk about her day. And don’t listen with an eagerness for her to finish her sentence so you can talk about yourself again. Listen with genuine concern, because you care about her and you care about what’s important to her. Then talk to her about the things that are important to her. 

3. Let her get to know you. Be a person, not a character. Open up – let her know what makes you tick. Let her know what makes you happy and sad. Share your life with her. Be vulnerable. Be sincere. It’s easy to act like you care for somebody when you actually care for them. She will love you for it. She will be loyal to you.

4. Do something nice for her, just because. Unexpectedly, do something nice for your lady. The pre-requisite here is that you’ve listened to her, and you know what she wants. Trust me, this gets you a long way for a long time. But you can’t give some thoughtless gift, like that little stuffed teddy bear holding a heart that you grabbed at the gas station 5 minutes before you got home. 

5. Never think you’re better than her. Do you really think she should be grateful to simply be with you? You’re God’s gift to her, huh? Nope. A relationship is about mutual respect and understanding. A relationship is about love, trust and openness. If you want her to think you’re special, treat her like she’s special to you.

6. Continue to court her. Once she says she’ll date you doesn’t mean you’ve locked her in, and can do what you want. It will be much harder to try to get her back once you’ve lost her. So don’t lose her – keep showing her how much you want her. 

7. There is no blueprint for romance. Romance is about knowing the other person, knowing what is important and special to them, and knowing what will excite them. If you don’t know that, you’re not in a strong relationship.

So, remember, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and the like are not new billboards for you to place your ad. You don’t have a right to be with the people here. But, you can be here. Be a person first (brands can be people with attitudes, feelings, convictions, etc), then seek relationships. If you can prove that you’re here to foster relationships, rather that extort them, you will be welcomed with open arms, and you will be loved. But don’t you dare make the mistake of thinking you can keep a relationship here without putting in the time, effort and care that any real-life relationship require. That’s right, a real relationship. And this time, make sure you treat her like a lady.

Good example of a BAD BRAND on Twitter

Good example of a BAD BRAND on Twitter

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