Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Want to Fly Free with Frontier Airlines? There's a Catch!

Frontier Airlines aims to become America’s Greenest Airline. Its fleet is 39% more fuel-efficient than its competitors, and it has been named the industry's most fuel-efficient airline by The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT). While Frontier may be known as the green airline, the company's mission goes beyond the green logo and the menagerie of animals on its airplane tails.

Frontier's mission is evident in August 2019, with the launch of a memorable promotion. Frontier encourages everyone to live greener lives and invites everyone with the last name “Green” to fly for free on Tuesday, August 13, 2019.

According to Frontier's website (www.flyfrontier.com/deals/green): here's how to get a free flight on August 13, 2019:
(1) Confirm that your last name is Green or Greene
(2) Book a flight that departs on August 13, 2019
(3) Frontier will refund your trip!

There was small print, and it read as follows:

Individuals with the last name Green or Greene will be eligible to receive refunds for one way or round trip nonstop domestic travel on August 13, 2019. Flights must be booked on flyfrontier.com. Individuals who are eligible for this promotion will be refunded for round trip flights if both segments of travel are purchased on one PNR, the first segment departs between 12:00AM and 11:59PM on August 13, 2019, and the return segment arrives by 11:59PM on August 20, 2019. Eligible participants will receive a full refund, up to $400. Refunds will be rewarded to to the original booking contact person by September 15, 2019. (In the airline and travel industries, a passenger name record (PNR) is a record in the database of a computer reservation system that consists of the personal information for a passenger and his/her itinerary.)
Eligible participants in this promotion must have documentation that Green or Greene is legally their last name. Promotion is applicable only to individuals with the last name Green or Greene. Their immediate families (spouses, parents, children, siblings, and their respective spouses) are not eligible for this promotion if their last name is not Green or Greene.

Barry Biffle, President and CEO of Frontier Airlines, explained, “Our fleet’s fuel efficiency is unmatched by other U.S. airlines and allows Frontier to deliver not only the lowest fares but the most sustainable approach to flying. We are proud to serve communities across the U.S. and understand the importance of being good stewards of the environment. We’re focused on lessening Frontier’s impact on the environment and continually search for innovative solutions and technology to achieve that.”

Now the catch...upon hearing about this promotion last week, I sent a Tweet to Frontier Airlines and also tagged the brand on an Instagram post asking if my great-grandfather's name of "Green" would allow me to get a free ticket. Seven days after the Tweet and Instagram post, I still have not received any response from Frontier. The promotional campaign was well-executed and certainly memorable. But, what if I had not visited Frontier's website and read the small print? As those of us who understand social media and promote its benefits when it comes to customer service and customer experiences, this silence speaks volumes. At the very least, someone who monitors Frontier's digital footprint should have responded. Would your brand have responded to me?

Image Credit: Frontier Airlines and Instagram.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Leadership Is a Marathon, Not a 100-Yard Dash

Doug Dickerson, a leadership expert, trainer, and author first appeared on my Blog back in 2010, after I read his inspiring book, Leaders Without Borders: 9 Essentials for Everyday Leaders. Doug has more than 30 years of experience in various leadership positions, and he strives to inspire others to become better equipped as leaders. You can find Doug on Twitter, on his Blog, and on his author page on Amazon. He appeared again on my Blog in 2018 when we discussed leadership priorities and leaders' legacies. With leadership always a hot topic, it's always a good time for another Q&A with Doug, and highlights follow below.

QUESTION: According to your bio on Amazon, one of your claims to fame is "to challenge one's traditional ways of thinking about leadership." Can you please elaborate with a few examples?
DOUG DICKERSON: Over the years, I've always tried to look at things from a different perspective rather than just traditional ways. For example, not long ago I wrote an article entitled "Sacred Cows and Breaking Rules." I wrote this article to challenge the traditional ways of looking at leadership. In the article, I make the case that we cannot hold onto our sacred cows in leadership if they are no longer relevant or when it hinders progress. There's no reason to hold onto sacred cows and traditions at the expense of progress just because our traditions mandate it. It's not about being contrary just for the sake of stirring things up, but rather in all things leadership, we need to constantly evaluate what we do, why we do it, and is it the best course of action for today. I like to challenge my own points of view, and I try to do the same for my readers.

QUESTION: What are three ways that modern-day leaders do not understand their employees?
DOUG DICKERSON: Possible reasons include:
(1) They are out of touch with their people. The point here is that relationships are essential to the connection between leaders and employees. If a leader is out of touch with his or her people, is not invested in the lives of his or her people, they will never fully understand him or her.
(2) They don't communicate. The modern-day leader needs to create and welcome an environment in which open, honest, and regular communication takes place.
(3) They don't understand that their employees want to feel that they are contributing and making a difference. They want to be recognized and appreciated for their contributions.

QUESTION: What three ways can modern-day leaders improve the overall employee experience?
DOUG DICKERSON: Here are my three ways:
(1) Regularly communicate values and vision and the importance of their role in fulfilling them.
(2) Be loyal and have their backs.
(3) Be approachable and stay humble.

QUESTION: What's your favorite leadership quote, and why?
DOUG DICKERSON: Actually it comes from a verse of Scripture found in James 1:19. The Message translation reads this way: "Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear." I like it because of how it speaks to the temperament of a leader in the following three ways: Listen more than you talk. Choose your words carefully. Be even-tempered. That's just good leadership advice.

QUESTION: If you could have dinner with any leader from history, who would it be and why?
DOUG DICKERSON: Winston Churchill. He was a remarkable leader during one of the most consequential times in history. He rallied the people to believe they could win (never, never, never give up!). He was inspiring. He was determined. He had his flaws. But it was his leadership and grit that changed the course of history and life as we know it today.

TWEET THIS: Leadership is a marathon, not a 100-yard dash. ~@DougDickersonSC

QUESTION: You wrote a recent blog post entitled, "Thriving Leadership in a Calloused World," and my favorite quote was "Leadership is a marathon, not a 100-yard dash." Can you please elaborate?
DOUG DICKERSON: Leadership growth and development is a lifelong journey. It's not one to be rushed. I also recently wrote that in leadership, especially among younger leaders, there’s a tendency or temptation to want to rush the process. They want to be at a place in leadership in two or three years that has taken 30 years for others. And while the motivation and desire are commendable, there are no shortcuts on the road to maturity.

As leaders, we are always growing (or should be) and always learning. If there ever comes a time when we think we know it all or have learned it all, then we have embraced that "100-yard dash" mentality. And in leadership, that's a dangerous place to be. With a "marathon" mentality, we understand that it truly is a journey. A journey of learning, growing, maturing, successes, failures, bumps, and bruises. The 100-yard dash is over quick. The marathon takes a while - and in leadership, we need to remember, it's a marathon.

My gratitude and appreciation to Doug for appearing again on my Blog and for sharing his inspiring leadership insights.

Articles referenced in this post:
A Review of “Leaders Without Borders: 9 Essentials for Everyday Leaders” by Debbie Laskey

Tips to Develop Your Leadership Legacy by Debbie Laskey

Sacred Cows and Breaking Rules by Doug Dickerson

Thriving Leadership in a Calloused World by Doug Dickerson

Image Credit: Doug Dickerson.

Monday, July 22, 2019

How Closely Aligned Are Branding, Customer Experience, and Employee Experience?

Twitter serves as an amazing water cooler in today’s social media era, and thanks to Twitter, I met Don Shapiro because we share a passion for marketing and also see the value of introducing a Chief Employee Experience role into the C-Suite. We recently discussed a variety of branding, leadership, and employee experience topics, and highlights follow below Don's bio.

Meet Don Shapiro. Don is the President of First Concepts Consultants, Inc., advisors on leadership, strategy, marketing, sales, culture, and alignment. He is a co-author of The Character-Based Leader and is currently writing a book on customer value entitled, Stealth Value. Don’s high energy, fun, and interactive way of speaking has thrilled thousands of audiences about his discoveries. Learn more about him on Linkedin (www.linkedin.com/in/donshapiro), on Twitter (www.twitter.com/donshapiro1), and his First Concepts website (www.firstconcepts.com).

QUESTION: Please explain the following statement: Your culture is your brand.
DON SHAPIRO: What makes a brand memorable and helps drive growth? That takes branding. But, branding and brand awareness are two different things. Branding is where the customer experience is married to the brand. Only your people can make that happen. It is through the culture of your organization that you deliver the customer experience, which shapes what the brand means to the customer.

QUESTION: You recently Tweeted, "Managers hire the past. Leaders hire potential." Can you please elaborate the experience or experiences that resulted in that excellent commentary?
DON SHAPIRO: I had the good fortune to start my career with Lawry’s Restaurants, a brand that’s still going strong after 96 years. Lawry’s has historically achieved the highest employee retention rate in the restaurant industry due to their way of hiring, training, and leading their people. After leaving Lawry's, I discovered that managers and executives in other businesses didn’t do things like they did. That comparison over many decades led to this Tweet.

TWEET THIS: Managers hire the past. Leaders hire potential. -@DonShapiro1 #EmployeeExperience #EmployerBranding #BrandExperience

QUESTION: You have expertise in a variety of areas, so what three pieces of advice can you share for sales and marketing departments to work in tandem rather than at odds?
DON SHAPIRO: And you don’t want me to write a book?! Here’s how you build a bridge of understanding.
1. Get involved with the other departments on a regular basis. Walk in their shoes. When your marketing efforts grow out of a deep understanding of what other functions do, they will appreciate and respect you and your team.
2.  See all the other departments in your organization as your customer. Focus on how you can serve them better. Yes, even the finance department!
3. Invite individuals from other departments to spend time with your sales and marketing team. Make them feel a part of your team.

QUESTION: How can a President/CEO become an organization's number one brand ambassador?
DON SHAPIRO: Walk the talk with enthusiasm. The CEO has to become an organization’s best salesperson and PR person. CEO's have to learn how to sell the brand and message everywhere they go. And internally, they have to do the same to show their people how much they believe in the brand and believe in the employees who make the brand what it is. That inspires employees to follow the CEO’s model.

QUESTION: There is much buzz today about organizations adding a new C-Suite position, the Chief Customer Officer. This demonstrates that organizations want all employees to create an excellent customer experience. However, there should be another C-Suite position called the Employee Experience Officer. Based on your expertise in these areas, what are your thoughts?
DON SHAPIRO: I’ve been a huge fan of the Chief Customer Officer position for decades. With my deep experience on the people side and C-Suite, I believe that the employee experience is the role of the Chief People Officer. Most organizations don’t have one yet because they haven’t made the leap from human resources to people as a strategy. The key to this is that the CPO must report directly to the CEO. That would make the employee experience a top priority.

QUESTION: One of my favorite leadership quotes is from author and consultant Mark Herbert (@NewParadigmer on Twitter): "Leadership doesn't require you to be the smartest person in the room. It requires you to block and tackle for others." What does this quote mean to you?
DON SHAPIRO: Everything! Leaders help their people to win at work, at home, and in the community. Leaders serve their people with humility. Our role as a leader is to serve the people we lead so that they can realize their full potential and do their best. We walk beside and behind them. When we’re out front, we’re driving a bulldozer to clear a path for them. When we do this, our people produce great results.

TWEET THIS: When (leaders) are out front, we're driving a bulldozer to clear a path (for our employees). When we do this, our people produce great results. -@DonShapiro1 #LeadershipTip #EmployeeExperience

My gratitude and appreciation to Don for sharing his inspiring insights on my Blog.

Image Credit: Don Shapiro and Hubspot.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Don't Ignore Unhappy Customers - Part 2

Following completion of my blog post shared on July 12, 2019, (link provided at the end of this post if you missed it or want a refresher), that detailed three incredibly negative experiences entitled, "Ignore Unhappy Customers at Your Own Peril," I shared the link in several Tweets on Twitter to Lowe's Customer Care (@LowesCares).

Days went by as I wondered if the brand monitors its social media accounts with costly tools or free Google Alerts.

Two weeks passed, and I still had not received any response. When a manager of the local store called me, he left a voicemail. I returned the call five minutes later and was transferred three times because the manager could not be found, and I was finally placed on hold. After waiting about five minutes, I hung up.

The manager called me again the next day, and after trying to convince me that the delivery company THAT LOWE'S HIRED AND PAID to deliver my gazebo was at fault rather than Lowe's, I told him that I did not want to file a claim against the delivery company since I was Lowe's customer - not the delivery company's customer. He hung up on me.

Another week passed. I couldn't believe that senior leadership at Lowe's would teach this kind of customer service and endorse this type of customer experience. I was unable to locate an email address for Lowe's Chief Marketing Officer - you would think that someone in that role would want to maintain a pulse on customer comments. Heck, the CMO for IBM has an active Twitter account (@michelleapeluso), as does the CMO of General Electric (@LindaBoff), and the CMO of Cadillac (@DeborahWahl), to name just a few.

But I did learn that the CEO of Lowe's has a Twitter account, so I sent him a link to my blog post that detailed my three #servicefails. In less than 24 hours, I received two responses on Twitter, and later that day, I received a phone call from a different manager at the local store. This different manager again tried to place blame on the delivery company hired by Lowe's, but I quickly put an end to that discussion.

I explained, "Thank you for calling. Since I don't want to waste your time or mine, and I am tired of hearing that everything is the fault of the delivery company, and I do not want to file a claim against the delivery company, you need to make this right some other way. I suggest that you offer me a gift card for a future purchase."

After a few seconds of silence, the manager offered to deduct $250 from the price of my nearly $1,600 gazebo that started this chain of events. While the offer was not a free BBQ, at least, this way, I did not have to visit the store. But, will I be a repeat Lowe's customer again? Time will tell.

According to Stefan Thomke, the William Barclay Harding Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, "When it comes to providing the type of experience we gush about to friends, many companies are falling down on the job. A survey found that 65 percent of customers are likely to speak negatively about their experience, and 48 percent who had negative experiences shared them with 10 or more other people, according to a study in a 2010 Harvard Business Review article. Only 25 percent were likely to say positive things, and only 23 percent with positive experiences told 10 or more others."

“When a negative experience gets management’s attention, they immediately get nervous and move in and want to shut everything down by tightening controls, focusing on process, and taking autonomy away from their people,” Thomke said. “Because they’re worried about the negative experience, they make sure customers get what they expect. But when you get exactly what you expect at a restaurant, you won’t remember a week later that you were at that restaurant.”

Thomke further explained, "In contrast, exceptionally great experiences stand out, create memories for years, increase loyalty, and lead to a massive multiplier effect when one customer shares the details with others in today’s super-connected consumer world. We forget that the things that really stick, the things people talk about years later, are not the average experiences, but the outliers on the other end of the spectrum."

What if I had not Tweeted my blog post to Lowe's CEO? Would there have been any answer to my outreach? What can your brand learn from this series of experiences?

Image Credit: Twitter.

Articles referenced in this post:

Ignore Unhappy Customers at Your Own Peril

Lessons from the Classroom: How to Design a Better Customer Experience

Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers

The World’s Most Influential CMOs 2019

Friday, July 12, 2019

Ignore Unhappy Customers at Your Own Peril

I read a Gartner Research article* recently that began, "Many marketing leaders today are responsible for customer experience and customer retention in addition to traditional marketing activities oriented to awareness, consideration, and acquisition. As a result, they're not only asking what makes customers buy products in the first place, but also why customers leave."

This quote has stuck with me since I recently had the third and final customer experience at a major home improvement retail chain (you would recognize the name instantly), and as a result, I have left this particular retailer for good. The sad thing is, no one at that retail chain - not senior leadership, not the marketing team, and not the customer service department - cares that it lost a repeat long-term customer. Here's what happened.

Last December, I purchased a new refrigerator/freezer, washing machine, and dryer. When these three items were delivered to my home, the freezer was missing two shelves, which, if the only problem, would have been a minor matter. I returned to the local store and requested two replacement shelves. A salesperson took two shelves from the floor model and gave them to me. Strike One.

The next day, I smelled something odd in my laundry room. Apparently, there was a gas leak as a result of the incorrect installation of the dryer, so I had to call Southern California Gas. The installer had not put a seal between the valve and the hose, so the So Cal Gas repairman had to visit my home and install one immediately. Strike Two.

This summer, I returned to the home improvement store to purchase a gazebo for my backyard. When the 750-pound box was delivered, the deliveryman used a forklift to attempt to put the large box in my garage, but he scraped my driveway with the forklift. Had he said there could have been damage to the driveway from the forklift, I would have instructed him to place the large box in front of my house, but I did not get the chance. Now, because I want to repair the driveway as soon as possible, I have to hire a contractor to visit my home and repair the driveway. Strike Three.

I looked up the email address for Customer Service on the retailer's website and sent a detailed email. Within a day, I received a response that said, "(Store name) will be happy to help you." The email continued by saying that I needed to speak to the store manager where I purchased the items. I was told that I could not speak to anyone in the corporate customer service department. Strike Four.

A week after my email, I spoke with the local store manager on the phone. He again stated that he wanted to make things right, but when I explained that I resolved both the missing shelves issue and the gas leak issue back in December, and the only remaining issue was the damaged driveway, he said that he would have to file a claim with the delivery company. He explained that the store hired a company to deliver items, so the store was not responsible for any issues resulting from the delivery company. Strike Five.

I said that I did not want to wait for a claim to be filed, an investigator to visit my house to personally assess the damage, and then wait for a decision if a repair would be approved. Guess what happened? The manager hung up the phone on me. Strike Six. If you're a baseball fan, you know that there are too many strikes in this story.

On their own, these instances were disappointing. But taken together, they represent a lack of understanding of customer service and even worse, a total disregard for customers. At any point during my interactions - email, phone, in-person visits - anyone who represented this retail store could have taken ownership for my series of bad experiences and attempted to make things right.

They could have offered:
*A $250 gift certificate
*A free BBQ since it's summertime
*A $250 gift certificate to be used in the garden center

I am reminded of Bill Gates' timeless quote about the value of unhappy customers, and even if nothing had been offered to me, I would have remained a customer if someone from the store had simply acknowledged my concerns and agreed that changes had to be made so that these actions were not repeated for other customers.

Since no one did anything, I have no choice. I'm no longer a customer of this home improvement store - but will now only go to the competitor (whose name you'd also immediately recognize). What would you have done if you had been in my shoes?

*Here's the article that inspired this post:
"Why Customers Leave - and What to Do" by Frances Russell of Gartner Research

Image Credit: Quote from Bill Gates.

Monday, July 8, 2019

True Leaders Are the Best Brand Ambassadors

Twitter serves as an amazing water cooler in today’s social media era, and thanks to Twitter, I met Bob Burg due to our passion for leadership. We recently discussed a number of aspects of leadership, and highlights follow below Bob’s bio.

Meet Bob Burg. He is a Hall-of-Fame speaker and coauthor (with John David Mann) of the “Go-Giver” series of business parables including The Go-Giver, The Go-Giver Leader, and The Go-Giver Influencer. Total sales of all of Bob's books are well over a million copies. You can follow Bob on Twitter @BobBurg, learn more about him on his website at https://burg.com, and check out his books on his Amazon page at https://www.amazon.com/Bob-Burg/e/B001IGSYSK.

QUESTION: You recently Tweeted "For a true leader, getting results is more important than getting credit" That reminded me of a sign that President Ronald Reagan kept on his desk in the Oval Office, "There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit." Do you have a work experience that resulted in your inspiring quote?
BOB BURG: Everything *about* my work experience has resulted in that quote because without the people I’ve had on my team throughout the years, I simply wouldn’t have been able to accomplish near what I have accomplished. Of course, I’ve also had a lot of failures, but those have been due to my not utilizing the strengths of those around me. But the successes? Indeed, it’s been with the support, ideas, help, suggestions, and actions of those around me. And not only is giving credit where it’s due the *right* thing to do (which is the most important aspect), it's also what continues to keep people on your side. After all, can there be anything more discouraging than putting your heart and soul into a team effort and then having the one in the public eye accepting all the credit. GROSS!

TWEET THIS: Not only is giving credit where it’s due the right thing to do, it's also what continues to keep people on your side. -@BobBurg #LeadershipTip

QUESTION: How can a President/CEO become an organization's number one brand ambassador?
BOB BURG: For the answer to this question, I consulted my great friend, Gary Campbell (@Impact2Lead on Twitter), an amazing (and award-winning!) leader and CEO of Lynchburg, Virginia-based Johnson Health Center. I believe that his response truly says it all: 

"In order for a President/CEO to become an organization’s number one brand ambassador, she/he must be 100% committed and passionate about the products/services offered and lives that are touched throughout the process. This includes employees, customers, vendors, business partners, shareholders, stakeholders, etc. For example, when Tim Cook of Apple stands in front of the world to talk about the latest release in the Apple product line (and before him, Steve Jobs), you can sense the passion - and this connects people not only to the offering but to the CEO as well.
For me at Johnson Health Center and when I speak nationally in the federally qualified health center circles, there is no confusion of the brand that our health center promotes – an exceptional place to work that has promoted unprecedented growth while providing great care as shown from year over year improved outcomes. I believe in the purpose and my ‘why' drives the passion around our brand. In my community, people see me, they also see Johnson Health Center, and when they see Johnson Health Center, they see me."

QUESTION: What are three things a President/CEO can do to establish a corporate culture that all employees will enthusiastically follow?
BOB BURG: Here are my three.
1. Create/Cast the vision. While that is two things, please allow me to include both because I believe that in order to effectively cast that vision, it must be created with help and buy-in from as many people as possible. How many will somewhat depend on the timing, the context, and the unique situation itself. Is the President/CEO starting from scratch or having to turn around an unhealthy and dysfunctional culture, etc.?
2. Hold the vision. Really, anyone can come up with a vision. That’s  the easy part. The hard part is the *holding.* Keep seeing in your mind’s eye where it is that you (and your entire team) are going, even when nobody else does. Make that, *especially* when nobody else does.
3. Live it. (See Gary Campbell’s response in previous question.) Before people will totally buy into your vision, they must first buy into *you.* And they’ll only buy into you to the degree that everything about you is congruent with that vision. They realize that the very embodiment of that culture is *who you are* and because it’s who you are, it’s what you do. And *that* they’ll enthusiastically follow.

QUESTION: I noticed that you include "Animal Lover" in your bio on Twitter. What do you think about "bring your pet to work" days, and how can they improve the overall employee experience?
BOB BURG: I’m all for it! LOL! Seriously, it can improve the overall employee experience because our pets are part of us, and to know they are welcome says…*you* are welcome.

QUESTION: What is your favorite book, and why?
BOB BURG: Ahhh, so many books - so little time. Very difficult to answer that question as there are lots of books that have added to my life in significant and positive ways. Perhaps the most important one (in my opinion) in terms of overall success (personal and business) is The Secret of Selling Anything by Harry Browne. Written in the mid-1960’s and published posthumously (originally in a paperback edition) in 2008 after his widow found the two small manuscripts, it was sold to an independent publisher who titled it and introduced it to the public. And those who’ve read it are much better off as a result. Much more than just a book on sales, it’s really a book on understanding human nature and working effectively within that context in order to obtain success both for yourself and for everyone whose lives you touch. To read a review on the book I published on my blog, here's the link: https://burg.com/2013/07/the-secret-of-selling-need-not-be-a-secret.

QUESTION: What book should every leader read, and why?
BOB BURG: Again, so many that choosing one for me is almost an exercise in futility. If I can only recommend one, it will be Everybody Matters by Bob Chapman & Raj Sisodia. The Chair & CEO of Barry Wehmiller, a large St. Louis, Missouri-based manufacturing company, Mr. Chapman embodies everything great about what a leader should be. And he’s created a culture like few other leaders have. Most importantly, his book illustrates that when you treat people right and genuinely create a sense of family and belonging, your company’s profitability will soar.

QUESTION: One of my favorite leadership quotes is from author and consultant Mark Herbert (@NewParadigmer on Twitter): "Leadership doesn't require you to be the smartest person in the room. It requires you to block and tackle for others." What does that quote mean to you?
BOB BURG: That’s a fantastic quote by Mark! It highlights, really, what leadership is actually all about. Once the vision/mission/culture/ has been established, now the leader is there strictly to serve their team members. Sometimes that means simply getting the heck out of the way and letting them do what they do best. Other times, it means (as Mark so aptly put it) blocking and tackling, clearing the field for them. And, of course, other times coaching them through an issue. In a sense, great leadership is about creating the environment where those on your team can thrive. Because when they thrive…the sky’s the limit! Oh, and regarding the part about being “the smartest person in the room” I love what my friend, Dan Rockwell (a/k/a @LeadershipFreak on Twitter) says about this: “As a leader, if you’re the smartest person in the room, then you’re in the wrong room.”

TWEET THIS: As a leader, if you’re the smartest person in the room, then you’re in the wrong room. -@LeadershipFreak via @BobBurg #LeadershipTip

My gratitude and appreciation to Bob for appearing on my Blog and sharing his inspirational leadership insights. And don
t forget to add the Twitter voices mentioned in this Q&A to your Twitter stream: @BobBurg, @Impact2Lead, @LeadershipFreak, and @NewParadigmer.

Image Credit: Twitter and Bob Burg.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Some Brands Can Score Monumentally During July

July Fourth is the American celebration of independence from England in 1776. But many retail stores have “Independence Day” sales that last more than just one day. And how many car sales are advertised on TV and radio that are called “Independence Day Sales” but start in June and last throughout the entire summer?

The reason behind this advertising extension can be explained by a simple fact. Businesses want to capitalize on the buzz of the moment. In the case of June and July in the United States, that buzz is Independence Day.

Consider these well-known brands. During the months of June and July, they can take advantage of the “America” or “American” portion of their brand names for a myriad of advertising and promotional opportunities:

  • American Airlines
  • American Apparel
  • American Broadcasting Company (ABC)
  • American Express
  • American Greetings Corp.
  • Bank of America

If your brand had “America” or “American” in its name, what would you do during June and July to capitalize on Independence Day or the entire month of July? Certainly, product or service discounts are an option, or maybe, the launch of a new product or service, or perhaps, the implementation of a new loyalty or referral program. But whatever announcement your business makes, you will definitely have an audience.

Another spin on this topic is if a portion of your brand name is tied to a national park, national monument, theme park, hotel resort, etc. There is no doubt that your brand has a head start on brand awareness if the name of your business is Mt. Rushmore Cement Company or Yellowstone Coffee or Liberty Bell Music Store. In all of these scenarios, the first goal of all marketing campaigns has been achieved. There is immediate brand recognition.

However, don’t lose sight of the strengths of your individual brand and the competitive positioning that you’ve worked hard to achieve.

Image Credit: Chevrolet.

Monday, June 10, 2019

How Inviting Are Your Brand's Surveys?

Most brands conduct market research and send surveys to customers, fans, and other stakeholders on a regular basis. There is a simple reason why. We all want a pulse on our products and services. Are we hitting the right target audiences? Do they like what we offer? Do they want to make either minor or major changes? Do they want us to introduce sub-brands? There is something, though, that most brands forget when they distribute survey requests: How do you inform someone that they don't qualify after you already asked?

In today's online and social world, most survey requests are distributed by email or text and contain a link to the actual survey. This is because it's very easy to create a survey using a free or competitively priced online tool, such as, SurveyMonkey, Google Forms, SurveyPlanet, etc.

The initial request may even offer something of value to the recipient which makes taking the survey attractive. There may be a guarantee of something of value, or in most cases, there is the possibility of winning a gift card, an Apple product, etc.

The offer of something of value may entice a recipient to spend the time taking the survey, but the likelihood of completing the survey depends on the number of questions, the level of detail, and the amount of time necessary. The likelihood of having a survey of five or fewer questions completed is much higher than a survey of 20 questions and multiple screens.

Anyhow, most brands don't spend the time to consider what happens when a possible survey taker does not qualify to take the survey. This recipient of the "ask" email or text receives the ask and responds with a click to the actual survey. He/she is then asked to answer one qualifier. That question could be "What is your occupation?" or "What is your age?" or "Where do you live?"

If the recipient does not answer the qualifier question correctly, then he/she does not fit into the demographic group that is desired for the survey. So, what happens at this point? Most brands may have a screen that says, "Thank you, but you're not part of the demographic we want to answer our survey." Or, even worse, since the initial ask may have indicated, "Your Opinion Matters," apparently that is not the truth - and your brand may lose a customer or annoy the stakeholder.

This situation presents an amazing opportunity for the brand to talk directly to a customer, fan, or stakeholder BECAUSE YOU ALREADY HAVE SOMEONE'S ATTENTION:
1. The brand could introduce a new product or service
2. The brand could share a testimonial
3. The brand could share an interview with the President/CEO
4. The brand launch a new loyalty program
5. The brand could promote a partnership with a community nonprofit

So, remember, surveys should be considered another element of your overall customer experience, and important touchpoint in your customer journey. What did your brand do with its last survey? Chime in and share.

Image Credit: Touchpoints Research.

Friday, June 7, 2019

What's in a Name? Everything!

You've probably seen or heard the latest marketing news about a brand's name change. To be honest, the brand simply shortened its name. No, this news is not about Dunkin, which dropped the word "Donuts" from its name back in September of 2018 (read my blog post by clicking here). The latest news is about a beverage brand: Jamba Juice has become Jamba.

According to the company's press release:

Jamba Juice started out in San Luis Obispo, CA in 1990, as a little juice shop with a big idea: that eating better should be easy. For nearly 30 years, Jamba Juice has led the way in creating and defining the smoothie and juice category as we know it. Now, as the category continues to mature and grow, Jamba Juice is ready to evolve to stay one step ahead.
Starting June 6, Jamba Juice is simplifying its name to ‘Jamba’ with the tagline ‘Smoothies, Juices and Bowls’ to reflect its wider array of offerings. It’s one of many steps to support the brand’s renewed commitment to more balanced ingredients that will include expanded plant-based options and reduced sugar selections among other innovations. The brand is also launching new store designs, improved digital platforms, and upgrading the in-store experience to delight guests, all while offering the convenience of delicious goodness in a cup at an everyday value.

“We’ve been offering balanced ingredients on the go for almost 30 years and must continue to evolve to meet our guests’ ever-changing definition of wellness,” explained Jamba’s President Geoff Henry. “We’re staying true to our heritage as an innovator in the space and refreshing the brand to stay focused on how we can make it easier, better, and faster for guests to live a more active lifestyle. We’re proud to have launched the smoothie and juice category three decades ago and can’t wait to join our guests’ wellness journey for decades to come.”

The press release continued, "Loyal fans have been calling us Jamba for years, but the name change officially kicks off today with updates to our website and menus. Guests can expect to see new packaging and store signage beginning later this summer...The new logo and whirl is a modern interpretation of our classic Jamba logo and features clean, handwritten script, new emerald green brand color and our evolved “Whirl” that draws from the beautiful hues of the fruits and vegetables we use every day."

And to improve the brand's digital footprint, "Jamba is revamping its e-commerce platform to be more responsive, easier to access, and faster than ever. Jamba is releasing an all new mobile-friendly website and mobile app geared to the on-the-go guest who is looking to access Jamba anywhere. The new app, available for iOS and Android, has been built from the ground up to include the customization and personalization features that our guests have been asking for, including order ahead capabilities, nutritional preferences, integrated gift cards, and an all new loyalty program powered by the Punchh platform. Jamba is making our guests’ on-the-go wellness journey even more rewarding than ever before."

What are some key take-aways of this brand transformation? The name emphasis on juice and beverages may be gone, but the possibility for new products looms on the horizon. And it is clear from everything the top leadership team has said that the brand values its fan base and understands its passion for its products. But a name change is still a name change - just think back to the surprise name change by IHOP last year, when it changed its name to IHOB to shift its emphasis from pancakes to hamburgers.

So, what branding lessons can your brand learn from the Jamba name change?

Image Credit: Jamba

Monday, May 13, 2019

Does Your Brand Walk in Your Customer's Shoes?

Call me a little old-fashioned because I may be one of the last remaining people on the planet who still use a printer, and specifically, a color printer. The reason is simple: sometimes, I encounter documents that I want to keep or re-read at a later date. But to do that, I need a printer. For those of you who may be concerned, I support the environment and always use recycled paper. Recently, I had an in-store experience at office superstore Staples that was not worthy of clicking the brands “easy button.”

I wanted to purchase new ink cartridges for my printer, and I needed four: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. Unfortunately, the store only had the individual cartridges for my printer. Normally, the four cartridges come in one single package at a lower price than each individual cartridge. Each cartridge costs about $20 for a total of $80. But when the four cartridges are sold as a set, the cost is somewhere between $60 to $70. So, there was a difference of $10 to $20, that I was now going to have to pay.

At the check-out counter, I explained the price difference to the salesperson and mentioned that there were no sets on display. So, I asked if Staples could match the price of the set and charge me the lower price – instead of charging me the total of four individual cartridges.

The salesperson adamantly shook his head and told me that my request could not be honored. He did not even attempt to find a manager or ask any other employees. He made the decision immediately.

So, since I had items to print and didn’t really have time to waste, my hands were tied. I purchased the four individual ink cartridges and left the store, but as I walked to my car, I wondered about the amount of customer service training provided at this particular Staples store. Was the Staples mantra of every customer interaction being easy, or a click of the Staples “easy button,” merely words? Do the stores only carry limited products to force customers to spend more? Would the salesperson have treated members of Staples
leadership team the same way if they had been customers and secret shoppers? And finally, did the salesperson realize that he was providing a lousy customer experience?

Had I been the salesperson and not been able to match the lower price item, I would have responded in one of the following ways:

  • “I’m really sorry that we don’t have the set you want to purchase in stock. How about if I order it online for you and expedite shipping to you at no cost?”
  • “I’m so sorry that we don’t have the exact item you want in our store. I’d like to make your next visit a better one, so here’s a ten-dollar gift card with no expiration date.”
  • “I’m so sorry, but I’m unable to price match. But here’s a free ream of paper for you.”

If you had been the salesperson, what would you have done to avoid alienating me – and making sure I go to Office Depot the next time I need ink cartridges or any other office supplies?

Finally, a reminder from Shep Hyken (@Hyken on Twitter), “When I refer to amazing customer service, I’m not suggesting that every interaction you and your company has with a customer has to be an “over the top” experience. The key is that they are always at least a little better than average. (Always is not easy). ”

Image Credit: Jenn David Design (www.jenndavid.com).

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Five #BrandTips from New @SussexRoyal on Instagram

With the focus on user privacy in social media circles and in Washington, there is rarely good news in this arena. But this past week, there was the launch of a new account on Instagram, and based on its popularity in record-breaking time, there are five brand tips all brands can learn from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and their new Instagram account.

Pick One Social Media Account
There are many social platforms where you can build your digital brand's presence. But do you have the personnel to handle updates and responses? Do you have a marketing plan for each platform, and how does each platform align with your overall marketing strategy? This past week, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, launched a new Instagram account, their sole social presence. According to their first post, "Welcome to our official Instagram; we look forward to sharing the work that drives us, the causes we support, important announcements, and the opportunity to shine a light on key issues." The first post was liked by nearly 1.3 million viewers; and the account has attracted 4.6 million followers.

Create a Memorable Name
Is your brand name the name for all your social sites? If not, what did you choose for your name? Do your customers and fans easily remember it? The Duke and Duchess of Sussex followed the naming pattern of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who chose @KensingtonRoyal for their Twitter and Instagram account names. The new account is called @SussexRoyal, not a name for their new home 25 miles outside of London, but a nod to their title, which has been synonymous with Prince Harry since he wed the former Meghan Markle. After their wedding, Queen Elizabeth gave them the titles of Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

Create a Memorable Logo
Does your logo match your brand? Are the colors easy to understand? The Duke and Duchess of Sussex created a memorable logo for their Instagram account that is fun and youthful. Their initials of H and M are intertwined, and a crown sits on top of the initials. The color matches the same shade of blue that appears on the main Royal website (www.royal.uk).

State Your Social Guidelines

As with all other Royal Family social media sites, there are guidelines. Does your brand have guidelines that are prominently displayed on your website or elsewhere on your social platforms? These are different than terms of use, terms of service, and privacy policies. If you don't have any, read the Royal Family's Social Media Community Guidelines in full at https://www.royal.uk/social-media-community-guidelines.

Launch When You Have Something Important to Announce
With the baby Sussex planned to arrive sometime during the next month, the timing for the launch of this new Instagram account was clear: The couple wanted an easy-to-use social platform where they could share their news on their own terms. How does your brand use Instagram?

What other brand tips did you notice from the @SussexRoyal's new Instagram account and early posts? Chime in and share.

Image Credits: @Instagram, @SussexRoyal and @TheRoyal Family.

Monday, April 1, 2019

It’s the Little Things that Create Memorable #BrandExperiences – A Conversation with Jake Poore

Twitter serves as an amazing water cooler in today’s social media era, and thanks to Twitter, I met Jake Poore due to two things we share in common: work experience with Disney and a passion for excellent customer service. We recently discussed why the brands that provide positive customer experiences will surpass their competition, and highlights follow below Jake’s brief bio.

Meet Jake Poore. As President and Chief Experience Officer of Integrated Loyalty Systems in Orlando, Florida, Jake’s on a mission to elevate the human side of healthcare. For more than two decades, he has worked with healthcare leaders sharing the blueprints needed to create a culture that delivers exceptional patient and customer experiences. For 18 years, Jake worked for the Walt Disney World Company, where he helped launch the Disney Institute. Nearly 80 percent of the people who attended the Institute were from healthcare, and that’s where his passion for improving healthcare began. He is the author of the forthcoming book, “99 Lessons Learned from Disney to Improve the Patient Experience.” You can follow Jake on Twitter @JakePoore and read more about him on his website at www.wecreateloyalty.com.

QUESTION: As a big fan of the Disney Institute (and I’d definitely attend all of its training seminars if I lived in Florida!), and as an alum of the Walt Disney Company (I worked in the Consumer Marketing Department at Disneyland Paris in France for my summer internship during graduate school in 1995), I wonder if most companies would benefit from having something similar to Disney University to train all employees about a brand's core beliefs or something similar to Disney Institute to help train a brand’s leaders. What are your thoughts?

JAKE POORE: There are two types of employees in every organization: those who are making brand promises and those who are delivering on the promise of the brand. Both groups would benefit from understanding the brand’s core purpose and strategy. So, the answer, of course, is yes. Who we are, why we do what we do, our story, how we got here...all of those things are foundational. Everyone has to know these things.

It’s also important for every employee to know and fully understand what we stand for and what we won’t stand for as an organization. And, to know what adds value to the brand and what unintentionally distracts or detracts from the brand.

In the end, you either have brand owners, protectors, or proponents. Or, you have brand poachers. People in the organization who are tarnishing the branding (intentionally or unintentionally) by doing their own thing in silos focused solely on their job tasks. These are the folks who are not delivering on the promise of the brand.

Organizations like Southwest Airlines, Zappos, Ritz Carlton, and Disney know that the Net Promoter Score of their brand is determined by how well every one of their employees knows, understands, and can behavioralize the brand in actions and words. (The Net Promoter Score, NPS, is a marketing measurement used to determine the percentage of customers who would recommend your brand to family and friends, based on a series of questions including, “On a scale of one to ten, how likely are you to recommend us?”)

Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do.” This is true for healthcare and every business or organization. There must be a consistency, a continuity, — where every employee is working under the same set of operational priorities and toward the same end in mind: delivering a world-class experience.

QUESTION: In my blog post entitled, “Want Your Brand to Soar Above the Competition?,” I shared six amazing #BrandExperiences (link follows below). Could you share some of YOUR favorite brand experiences and your reasons why?

Blog post link: http://debbielaskey.blogspot.com/2018/04/want-your-brand-to-soar-above.html

JAKE POORE: One of my absolute favorite brands is Apple. The online Apple helpline is fantastic, but the service at their brick and mortar Apple stores is second-to-none. If I need a repair or service on my laptop or iPhone, I try to get to the store just prior to opening. Of course, the whole store is glass, so I get to watch them have their team meeting about 15 minutes before the store opens. The employees end the meeting with applause as they walk toward the front door (nonverbal communication) to open up for the day. This builds excitement and makes the customers feel welcomed. Once the doors open, you meet a greeter who “triages” you, plugs your information into their iPad, and makes note of the clothing you’re wearing or some other identifiable feature (glasses, business suit, etc.) so that an Apple associate can find you with ease. I’m familiar with Apple products and have used them for many years, but I still appreciate that they talk to me in a language I understand. I travel frequently for work and if I walk in to the Apple store and tell them I’ve got a problem, but I have to get on a plane in an hour, they jump all over it. A great brand experience is when your organizational culture meets your customer where THEY ARE – not the other way around. Apple does this exceptionally well.

Southwest Airlines is another brand experience done well. Their waiting area is exceptionally well done. Their check-in processes are always friendly, always relaxed. And their terminals are always decorated or themed for holidays or sporting events. And notably, their employees seem to be having fun. And while in flight, it’s the only airline where I take off my headset because I can’t wait to hear what they’re going to say or do next. It’s an organization that is continuously improving and elevating the experience by using the people closest to the experience.

TWEET THIS: Every employee needs to know and fully understand what adds value to the brand and what unintentionally distracts or detracts from the brand. -@JakePoore

QUESTION: You’ve written on your blog that, "Creating great experiences doesn’t require lots of money or huge effort. Instead, focus on the little things, the little wows, the little ways you can exceed your customers’ or patients’ expectations. When you add them all up, these little moments that delight your customers and patients are what define a world-class experience.” Can you provide some examples?

JAKE POORE: I think that before we can delight, we must first remove the emotional hot spots in healthcare. Hospitals are notorious for creating lots of self-inflicted wounds in the patient experience, daily! Florence Nightingale, the mother of modern-day nursing said it best, “Apprehension, uncertainty, waiting, expectation, fear of surprise, do a patient more harm than any exertion.” In every patient or customer interaction, we are either elevating their fear and anxiety or unintentionally adding to it.

So, a good place to start is to list the anxiety hot spots that put anxiety chips on patient’s shoulders before they ever get to see a provider and seek simple, low, or no cost ideas to solve them. For instance, can we answer these questions: Where do I park? Which of the four entrances is the right one? Is there a wheelchair there for me? Where do I check-in? How long will I have to wait? How much will this cost? Will they speak my language, or will I need a need a healthcare jargon translator? Will they call me by my preferred name or am I just a clinic ID number, procedure or “the hip” in room 103? What is that smell? Will there be something to do if I have to wait a long time? Is there any art or music to enjoy? Who is who on the care team? Who is who in the operating room behind those surgical masks? Will they respect me and treat with dignity (even down to the patient belongings bags)? Will I remember where I parked in three days when I leave? Most of the answers to these questions can be answered creatively and with a keen eye toward stewardship, but they must be answered through the patient’s eyes.

Customers tell us that world-class experiences don’t happen because of one big thing; they happen because of lots of attention to the small things, the little wows. One way to create these little wows is to identify and proactively anticipate a patient or customer’s “pain points” or “friction points.” What things do people see or encounter that might leave a bad impression? Once you identify these things, you can take steps to proactively address them by removing the pain and friction and adding more little wows.

A good starting point is perhaps someplace you might not even think about: the hospital parking garage or parking lot. Consider the perspective of an elderly patient arriving at the hospital for scheduled knee surgery. We know she is coming, she is scheduled after all. But does she feel like we’re expecting her? Her first point of anxiety shouldn’t be entering the hospital from the parking lot or parking garage, but too often, it is. Where should she park? How does she feel when she has to drive past 35 parking spots reserved “ONLY for medical personnel” and then she has to compete with other hospital employees arriving in their scrubs for the remaining spots? She’ll need a wheelchair. Is there one close by? Will someone push her? All of this causes her blood pressure to rise.

But, lucky for her, we have anticipated this and have volunteers in golf carts to pick her up and take her to her appointment. Along the way, they chat, and the volunteer hands the patient, “Margo”, a slip of paper with her parking spot number and floor and his phone number to call for a ride back to her car. He then texts the surgical front desk with a heads up: “Margaret ‘Margo’ Jones on her way. From volunteer Bill.”

When she arrives to the pre-surgery check in, she is immediately greeted by her preferred name and a hand shake from the front desk personnel, “Hello Margo, welcome, my name is Joanne, we’ve been expecting you! Heard you got a limo ride from our Bill, isn’t he GREAT! Now, let’s get you checked-in.” Margo is very impressed. After checking in, she sits in a crowded waiting area. Minutes later, a medical assistant walks right up to her and quietly says to her, “You must be Margo. Hi, my name is John, I work with Dr. Williams. I can take you back now and get prepped for your knee surgery.” Margo suddenly remembers her doctor’s office experience and how they just shout out people’s names to the whole waiting area. She liked it here at the hospital much better!

During surgery, every one of the surgical team members have their names printed on the skull caps and their role (Dr. Williams/Surgeon, Dr. Smith/Anesthesiology, Jennifer/Nurse), and they all introduced themselves before she went to sleep. She liked that!

And after surgery, on the way out, she noticed that her patient belongings bag was opaque white with a nice message of thank you from the hospital – not the clear plastic bag used last time (revealing all of her undergarments to the world)! She called the number on the piece of paper, and then a volunteer named Betty arrived, picked her up, and dropped her at her parked car. How much money did that all that cost? And what impact did that make on Margo? How did it make her feel? Priceless, right?

QUESTION: You’ve stated on Twitter that you believe “how employees treat each other should MIRROR how everyone treats patients, customers, fans, etc.” While that is a noble goal, how can leaders create a culture where everyone practices kindness, fairness, inclusiveness, etc.?

JAKE POORE: Like the old adage says, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Leaders must lead by example. In our patient example earlier, Margo did not know how technically or clinically competent her caregivers were, but she will surely tell you how caring they were, right? The question is, how can we expect our employees to continue to do that with patients if we (leaders) don’t do that with them as well?

One simple technique we teach our clients is a powerful, yet simple tool called Human-Business-Human, or HBH. The premise is simple: Human first, Business second, Human third. Start every interaction or meeting on the human side, conduct your business, and then end every interaction on the human side, seeking to make some kind of human connection in the process.

When we scheduled Mrs. Margaret Jones for her surgery, we simply asked her (on the human side) what name she would prefer to be called by the care team members, and she said, “Please call me Margo.” That answer went into HER (electronic health record), on the medical chart, and the many patient dry erase boards, and the happy result was that everyone called her, “Margo.”

If this one simple thing made her feel special and engendered her trust, why don’t we do the same simple thing for every new employee when they are hired as well? When new employees or doctors arrive to their work location, there should be a “welcome to the team” card (signed by all the team members) with their preferred name that they want to be called featured on it. Their name and business cards should all follow suit and include the preferred name. (How often has this NOT been the case at your new job?)

Leaders can also practice HBH in the way they answer the phone, respond to text messages, or conduct team meetings. For example, you can start team meetings “on the human” by sharing an inspirational quote or by asking, “Who has a celebration (work related or personal)?” Celebrations include work recertifications, birthdays, graduations, vacation plans, new baby announcements, etc. Then, we conduct our team meeting and get down to business. Finally, we end the meeting “on the human” by sharing appreciation for employees’ time, input, and each another.

TWEET THIS: Look for the things the organization is doing well so they become business as usual and not random acts of kindness. -@JakePoore

QUESTION: Do you think every business should have a Chief Customer Officer? What should the person’s role be? And is this a necessary C-level position?

JAKE POORE: The short answer is absolutely yes! It doesn’t have to be a C-Suite level position, but I absolutely believe that this person must report directly to the CEO. Why? Because it’s THAT important. While customer service is everybody’s job, someone has to be working on it 100% of the time. That person cannot and, quite frankly, should not have skin in anything else (COO, CNO, CMO, etc.). If they do have other responsibilities, and anything happens in their department, they’re more likely to protect their own specialty area than find out what really happened. That hurts the whole process and does nothing to advance the patient or customer experience.

Someone needs to collect the research by interviewing patients, walking the entire guest experience every day and looking for the things the organization is doing well so they can share and hardwire them – so they become business as usual and not random acts of kindness. Someone needs to help build the processes, not remain stuck in the trenches battling the day-to-day complaints.

And when things go wrong, and their team is handling customer service concerns or complaints, this officer can gather stories of what is happening and find the solutions that were offered and then build what I call a “Play” for the “Always Playbook”— just like in sports — to prevent the problem or issue from happening again. This Always Playbook is shared with every team member so that everyone knows what to do, should a similar situation arise again.

The key question here is: Who is advocating for the customer every day? A Chief Customer Officer should also be doing the research and following up. Because if you spend some time walking the customer experience, you can spot the things that need to be fixed or changed. A dedicated Chief Customer Experience officer needs to be looking through the lens of the customer — not SOME of the time, but ALL of the time. Always. Because if they’re not focused on it 100 percent of the time, then they’re not advocating for the customer. All they’re doing is dancing between random acts of kindness and complaints.

TWEET THIS: Walt Disney said, “Sometimes I think of myself as a little bee. I go from one area of the studio to another and gather pollen to stimulate everybody.” This is a great way to describe the role of a #ChiefCustomerOfficer. -@JakePoore

My gratitude and appreciation to Jake for appearing on my Blog and sharing his amazing and inspiring business insights.

Image Credit: Jake Poore via Kim Court.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Super Bowl 53 Summary: Boring Game, No Apple Ad and No Oreo Tweet

Super Bowl 53 will go down in the history books as a low scoring game, and as far as the accompanying ads go, well, no ad rivaled the pomp and circumstance of Apple’s 1984 ad, and no Tweet made as much of an impression as Oreo did during the 2013 big game's power outage.

However, with a staggering cost of “$5.2 million for 30 incredibly short seconds,” is it possible for a brand to tell its story effectively and memorably? Can YOU recall any of the ads?

While noted in my post last year, this quote from Landor Associates is worth repeating:

"Here are three tips to help you, your dad, or even your football-crazed grandma decide which brands scored a touchdown with their commercials: Is the ad on-brand? Will you remember the brand tomorrow? And, does the ad speak to the times?"

During the game, Jim Joseph (@JimJosephExp) hosted his annual #SuperBowlExp party on Twitter (minus chips and guacamole). Although it's always fun to see what fellow branding and marketing pros say about the ads in real time, there are a couple of challenges. First, some ads run in regional or local markets, so there were some instances that Tweets referenced ads I didn’t see. Second, there are so many hashtags that draw attention to the ads that it’s sometimes a challenge to keep up – for instance, #BrandBowl, #AdBowl, #SuperBowlAds, and #KelloggBowl led by Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

This year, many brands and brand icons were noticeably absent, including Oreo, Coca-Cola’s polar bears, Chrysler, and Tide. And according to Tim Calkins (@TimothyCalkins), Professor of Marketing at Kellogg, "Brands generally stuck to a lighter tone than in previous years, avoiding political messages and focused on either humor or uplifting themes."

Without further ado, here were my five favorite ads:

MICROSOFT: This ad focused on inclusion with its tagline, "When everybody plays, we all win." Nothing more need be said as to the power of this ad’s message. However, one thing to note, with Microsoft’s domination of the tech industry, was this ad off brand?

BUDWEISER: As a fan of this brand’s Clydesdales and Dalmatian, I am always thrilled when they appear in the big game’s advertising. (Who can forget the ad following September 11 featuring the Clydesdales that only ran once? You can watch the ad here: https://youtu.be/LyP0JsyvYnA.) This year’s ad focused on clean energy and wind turbines – and how they can be used to produce beer.

WEATHERTECH: This brand is known for its American-made mats for cars and trucks, but now, it has entered the pet product arena. This ad announced its pet care line, and while a possibly strange line extension, remember that many customers are truck owners. Who doesn’t recall that ad of long ago "Dogs love trucks?" (You can watch the ad here: https://youtu.be/_aYZrvG5BkY.)

BUBLY: This ad provided some humor to a slow-moving game. The name of the product was similar to the celebrity pitch man, Michael BublĂ©. He happily changed the spelling on the packaging – but he should have added his signature singing voice to the ad.

WASHINGTON POST: Politics finally appeared in the ad from this brand, but despite anyone’s political opinion, the message was something everyone can agree on, "Because knowing empowers us. Knowing helps us decide. Knowing keeps us free. Democracy dies in darkness."

And lastly, Jacques de Cock, a faculty member at the London School of Marketing, said the game will have been watched in half of US households.

"The Super Bowl is a phenomenon unsurpassed in the world. It is one of the few national social events, which is also why social media traffic during the game is so high...What is also remarkable is that advertising is not viewed as something to skip, but is seen by 77 percent of viewers as part of the entertainment and therefore more watched and engaged with than any other television advertising during the year."

So, are you counting the days to Super Bowl 54, scheduled on February 2, 2020, in Miami Gardens, Florida? Or will you simply tune in to watch and critique the ads either on TV or on your mobile device?

Image Credits: Bubly Water, WeatherTech, and Washington Post.