Do Your Customers Give You the Time of Day?

Did you know there is a “National Take Back Your Time Day?” And, according to one business pundit, Time Deficit Disorder (TDD) keeps potential customers from having time to read their direct mail or try new products.

Breaking through the clutter in the marketplace has always been an issue. Potential customers are inundated with new products, new services and new ideas all vying for their time and dollars. This however is the first time I have heard a marketer blame the customer for not participating.

This perspective certainly explains a number of tv ads running these days. Watching television sometimes feels like I am in a room with 20 5-year olds all trying to get my attention by screaming loudest or acting silliest.

Marketers you need to remember that potential customers probably aren’t responding because they don’t feel like you are talking to them. It is about meeting a need in the most beneficial way.

This isn’t as easy as being funny or loud — but it will go a long way toward having customers without TDD!

Friday Afternoons

Now that summer hours are over and the snow has started to fly (at least here in Chicago) I think it is time for marketing departments to try to infuse Friday with excitement and creativity. (Actually all departments should but I will talk to the marketing team for now.)

Plan regular “events” to help keep ideas flowing and to go into the weekend with seeds planted in the mind of your team. Keep them fun and high-energy. They shouldn’t be “problem-solving sessions” but stretching out to new and interesting thoughts. How about spending an hour with a spread of Jumbo Shrimp, Oven-Fried Chicken, and a 12-oz pound cake and see how many oxymorons your team can identify. Then take 10 randomly and see if you can figure out how each one applies to your business. Every great idea starts somewhere, maybe they have been hiding in the quiet of the last afternoon of the week!

Have a great weekend.

p.s. for some help on the oxymorons you can go to or

Are You Working Your ‘That’s Stupid’ List

Best new job advice I ever received: Write down everything you are asked to do that appears to be stupid, inefficient, or unproductive. Check the list in 6 months. Are you now mindlessly repeating those stupid, inefficient and unproductive tasks with gusto?

Why do such tasks live on? Momentum is built into your company’s reward system and human nature. The following three rules demonstrate what I mean.

Rule 1: Do it the way it’s always been done and it will get done while causing X amount of frustration over and over again. (You get rewarded for getting it done, over and over again)

Rule 2: Change the way it’s always been done and you will cause 10 times X frustration once, while reducing or eliminating the repetitive problem long term. (You get rewarded for innovating – Once.)

Rule 3: People rapidly adapt to small frustrations, forgetting they are even there.

If you have fallen into the ‘that’s just the way it is’ mindset, it is more difficult to ferret out innovations that improve delivery of your brand promise. AThat’s Stupid List helps remind you of the little things that seemed frustrating, and if fixed could add up to a big competitive advantage.

And Innovation and Creativity Will Follow…

 stopped by Dr. Ellen Weber’s blog yesterday ( and joined her discussion on “rewarding the high-performance mind.” A quote from her blog caught my attention as I realized she nailed one of the key challenges of today’s business world:

“Most organizations knock out exuberance and annihilate curiosity, which is the heartbeat of talent.” (Dr. Ellen Weber,

Innovation and creativity follow from “exuberance and…curiosity.” You cannot create new revenue streams, new products, new businesses, new processes (you get the idea) from the same old, same old. And, if the company culture (also known as senior management) is not willing to reward high-performance thinking, eventually mediocrity takes over.

I know that it is easier to not upset the apple cart by encouraging employees to be innovative. I have actually had managers say to me that the cost of a bad idea is too high to encourage “out of the box” thinking.

Many who say they want innovative programs don’t really. As I said in my response to Dr. Weber, some clients say they “want” innovative programs but the true statement should be “we want innovative and creative as long as it doesn’t change the way we do business because it would be too much to change and you (the consultant) can do it without any internal resources.”
It is a challenge to help a motivated senior management team to change…it is impossible to change a team that isn’t willing to “do the work” required to help the organization really change.

To be a great business, you need great people. And to have great people, they have to feel like they can make a difference. They have to feel valued and rewarded; and they have to feel safe in order to step beyond the known into “what could be.”

I encourage all of us in management to ask ourselves if we have created the kind of environment our staff is excited to be a part of and, if not, why not.

Be a Marketing Persuader Not A Marketing Tyrant

Effective marketing influences every aspect of your business, not just communication or awareness. However, this is not a command relationship — as in, “We the marketing gods declare the focus group shows we must deliver X.” Marketing tyranny ends with the communication of compelling, yet undeliverable promises that damage brand equity.

To avoid tyranny (and its opposite – weeniedom), marketing must act as the gas to energize your company’s efforts to build competitive advantage. From the marketers viewpoint, this energizing creative environment is driven by three initiatives:

  1. Drive Interconnected Measurement: As corporate objectives are broken down into department and individual objectives they are reinterpreted within the confines of a given process. Usually this means that across interdependent departments it is difficult to match goal to goal, creating difficulties in communication and support.
  2. Facilitate Meaningful Dialog: Communication is no longer a push vehicle driven by traditional collateral, advertising and PR. Marketing must facilitate clear, consistent, meaningful dialog between all levels of your organization and your market.
  3. Establish Strategies For Competitive Advantage: Marketing is often asked to translate a product attribute into a meaningful communication point. This needs to be a two-way street. Establish clear strategies that pressure all corporate processes to meet, exceed and reinforce your brand image and promise.

Each of these initiatives requires a closer relationship between marketing professionals and other departments within your organization. With coordinated effort these initiatives revitalize competitive thinking — helping drive communications, as well as your product and process development, towards distinct competitive advantage.