Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Seamless in the Summer

"No more pencils.... no more books...No more teacher's dirty looks! Out for summer!out till fall,We might not come back at all"

Since its inception in August of 2008, The Seamless Brand has set out to publish fresh material each and every business day.

With the exception of two days in January (handicapped by technical issues in Mexico) TSB has succeeded on no fewer than 225 occasions.

And now, just like you, we're ready to kick back with our flip flops, enjoy a few cold ones and slow down for the summer.

Beginning on Thursday, July 2nd, TSB launches its summer format for July/August. Regular visitors will notice the same Monday-to-Friday posting schedule with a twist. On at least three days of each week this summer, we will dig into the TSB vault and re-post material that may be worthy of a second look. We will continue to post at least one original item this summer as "Motorvationally Speaking" remains in its regular mid-week slot with a lineup of guests we're confident you will enjoy.

But, it is summer.

When the right kind of day is welcome relief for winter-weary spirits.Summer not only changes the way we approach our work, it also has a way of making the music we enjoy more vivid.

Summer songs are unlike any other.

Once "Schools Out", reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic give way to racing, romance, rowdiness.

It is only fitting that today on TSB, we unveil our 2009 list for the Top Five "Songs of Summer".

Our choices are based on three general criteria:

- The song needs to be a Top Ten single on Billboard.
- Reflects summertime values of fun in the sun.
- Comes with a kickass video.

So here it goes ... TSB's Top Five "Songs of Summer":

#5. "Summer in the City" - The Lovin' Spoonful

#4. "California Girls" - David Lee Roth

#3. "Summer Lovin'-John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John

#2. "Surfin' USA" - The Beach Boys

#1. "Walking on Sunshine" - Katrina & The Waves

Close, but no cigar honors go to several artists including:

- ''Summertime Blues'' - Eddie Cochrane
- ''In the Summertime'' - Mungo Jerry
- ''Cruel Summer'' - Bananarama
- "Heat Wave" - Martha and the Vandellas
- "Summer of 69" - Bryan Adams
- "Margaritaville" - Jimmy Buffett

Hope you enjoy many perfect days through July/August when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, the music is rocking, and the lawn mower is broken.

"Money can't buy you happiness, but it can buy you a yacht big enough to pull up right alongside it" DAVID LEE ROTH


Monday, June 29, 2009

Speaking to Personas

Customers drive marketing, not the other way around.

You may have noticed customers expect and demand products to be molded to their wants, needs and schedules. You also may have noticed it's impossible to get a conditioned response from a cat, and thanks to media saturation, your customer is behaving the same way.

Just like you can’t turn a cat into a dog; you can't turn a prospect into a paying customer by throwing her dry marketing bones peppered with boring "adspeak", or chest-thumping hype.

Today’s customers are in charge–much like cats and that's why Bryan Eisenberg is considered a very smart marketer.

His book, "Waiting For Your Cat to Bark", written with brother, Jeffrey Eisenberg can be compared in some respects to Paco Underhill's classic "Why We Buy".

In the book, the Eisenboys zero in on how buying decisions are made in the on-line world how those decisions can be influenced through persona-based language. Persona-based writing focuses on people’s preferences in the way they gather information and make decisions and help persuasion architects best identify the needs and expectations of each potential target customer group.

Wikipedia says:
"Personas or personae are fictitious characters that are created to represent the different user types within a targeted demographic that might use a site or product. Personas are given characteristics and are assumed to be in particular environments based on known users’ requirements so that these elements can be taken into consideration when creating scenarios for conceptualizing a site."

Since the time of Hippocrates people have been classified as 4 basic types; logical or emotional and those who pull the trigger on making decisions as opposed to those who are more cautious and deliberate.

And few grasp this subject as well as Bryan Eisenberg.

Before launching any serious marketing effort, the Eisenbergs recommend asking three questions:

1. Who is it you want to persuade?
2. What action do we want them to take?
3. What information is needed to motivate them to take that action?

Your customers view your company as a single entity. They don’t know or care that you have eight divisions and that your web department doesn’t talk to your locations in the field . Your customer is no different than you. Craving a seamless brand experience from beginning to end.

Are you in a position to begin using “persuasion architecture", to seamlessly craft that experience? All the way from the first front-line or on-line contact, through the buying process all the way to post-sales support?

Or are you still hoping to command your customer to bark when your advertising says so?

"Cats don't bark - and consumers today don't "salivate on command" like they seemed to a couple of decades ago. Consumers today behave more like cats than Pavlov's pooch. Times have changed - and so must we"

p.s... We have a hunch that the persona of the regular TSB reader will enjoy this angle of approach from an Aussie bacon producer.


Friday, June 26, 2009

Rockin' the Maritimes

Maritime Canada is about to experience a summer of rock like never before.

It all starts tomorrow night at the Magnetic Hill concert site in Moncton, NB with Bon Jovi bringing the "Lost Highway" tour to eastern Canada.

In making their latest record, the New Jersey-based rockers proved they weren't afraid to take some chances with their sound and see where it would lead them.

Here is a sneak preview of what might be goin on tomorrow night in Moncton ...

The rest of the 2009 Maritime summer concert schedule looks like this:

July 4: Virgin Festival w/ Tragically Hip & The Offspring - Halifax, NS

July 10-12: Cavendish Beach Music Festival w/ Tim McGraw & Reba McEntire - Cavendish, PEI

July 11: Paul McCartney - Halifax, NS

July 18: KISS - Halifax, NS

August 2: Chickenfoot, Halifax, NS

August 6: AC/DC, Moncton, NB

Ever since the Stones rolled through the Maritimes in September of 2005, the concert market has expanded dramatically through Canada's smallest provinces. Aerosmith walked their way through Charlottetown and the Eagles successfully landed in Moncton causing promoters open their wallets and roll their tumbling dice on no fewer than a half-dozen major shows this summer.

Which show will be THE show of Maritime Canada's Summer of Rock?

"When we were starting off as kids, just the idea of maybe going to do this as a living instead of getting what we thought was going to be a boring job, was exciting"


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Brand in a Brilliant Disguise

Sitting and waiting in a McDonald’s drive-thru, Brian was stuck in more ways than one.

It was 1989 and Brian had dropped out of his Vancouver-area high school.

One course short of graduation.

According to some of his teachers, he was also two bricks shy of a load with more than a few loose screws. Easily bored, Brian couldn't see the point learning about subjects he would never use in real life. He was different than most students. When a neighbourhood kid across the street set up a $2 car wash, Brian responded by copying the idea and charging $1.50.

Waiting in line that day for a cheeseburger and fries, listening to Springsteen, Brian was struck by a vision.

Straight between his disbelieving eyes.

From that moment, Brian was ready to sweat it out in the streets of a runaway Canadian dream.

"I knew I needed to find a way to pay for college. In the drive-thru there was a beat-up pickup in front of me that said Mark’s Hauling. I thought the hauling business was a great idea and with my last $700, I bought a truck and got started. I drove around town and when I saw someone with a pile of junk I knocked on their door and offered to take it away for a fee. That helped fund my college education. I actually dropped out one year before graduation because I was learning more from my business than from school. One year shy of a degree and here I am, a full-time JUNKMAN! My father, a liver transplant surgeon, was not impressed, to say the least."

From the moment his business was born to run, Brian was a risk-taker and a vision-maker. Able to see a brilliant future in a grungy disguise.

And do something about it.

Christening his new company as "The Rubbish Boys", Brian translated his dreams and vision into action. In two short years, the new Boss and his Boys were hauling trash to the tune of about $800,000 in annual revenues, with about a dozen employees serving the Vancouver and Victoria markets.

Then one day, an entrepreneurial friend named Norm, suggested he pick up a business book.

The "E-Myth Revisited".

Brian retreated to Rathtrevor Beach on Vancouver Island and voraciously consumed its contents cover-to-cover.

Then he read it again.

And strapped his dreams across its engines.

Finishing a book is a rare accomplishment for a hyperactive dreamer like Brian, let alone reading one twice. But there was something in Michael Gerber's masterpiece that spoke volumes about his junk business - and where it would end up if he didn't do certain things.

The next day, 26-year old Brian marched into his weekly meeting with seven or eight other young entrepreneurs and dropped his copy of the E-Myth on the boardroom table.

His words exploded like a hand grenade tossed into a flower bed.

"This is, by far and without question, the best business book I've ever read"!


Looking back, Brian says nothing has changed from what he learned on the beach that day and he still refers to E-Myth Revisited as his business "bible".

"I was blown away by the fact that nobody in this group of Young Entrepreneurs I was associated with had read the book or even heard of it. I told them that day it was going to have a great impact on the future of my business and theirs as well. More than anything, the E-Myth taught me to build your business like a franchise - even if you don't want to franchise it. Because franchising is a way to take best practices and recreate them in such a way that they easily become repeatable and scalable. And it applies to all aspects of the business; recruiting, training, marketing, operations, finance, etc.

This is interesting Brian ... tell us more.

"If you want to grow your business beyond being the person who does all of the day-to-day work, the E-Myth is the easiest way. It's about stepping back and taking a look at ways to build repeatable and profitable business systems that everyday people can operate. Thanks to what we learned from the book, we created a no-blame environment at 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, with an entire team fanatically focused on fixing systems. That's because people don't fail - systems do. On a daily basis we huddle at our headquarters, the JUNKTION and identify the systems in our company that need fixing".

Having had his eyes and imagination opened with E-Myth thinking, Brian realized he needed to develop a clear vision. While sitting on the dock at his parents’ summer cottage on Bowen Island, British Columbia, he scribbled his “painted picture”. Two pages outlining the company’s future mansion of glory. He also established a lofty goal: In five years, he wanted the 1-800-GOT-JUNK? brand to be found in all 30 U.S. and Canadian cities larger than Vancouver. As Brian explains,"I wanted to create the 'FedEx' of junk removal".

Franchise Number One was launched in 1999 in Toronto.

The 5-year goal was achieved 16 days ahead of schedule.

Brian Scudamore's recipe for success has been simple.

Take a fragmented, mom-and-pop business model and give it a branding makeover with clean shiny trucks that act as mobile billboards, uniformed drivers, on-time service and up-front rates. Mix in a hip culture of cool that is young, fun and completely focused on healthy, profitable growth. Ensure a foundation for the future by retaining 100% ownership and bootstrapping the business solely out of cash flow.

Although 1-800-GOT-JUNK? is a simple business, it could not have enjoyed rapid growth without technology-driven systems. All calls come into a central 1-800-GOT-JUNK? call centre where they do all the booking and dispatch for their franchise partners. Franchise partners then assess their real-time reports, schedules, customer info, etc., on JUNKNET, their corporate intranet. This allows franchise partners to get into business quickly, and to focus solely on growth — working on the business as opposed to working in the business.

So Brian ... why aren't more entrepreneurs rushing out, grabbing a copy of E-Myth Revisited and applying its principles?

"I think it comes down to the difference between being a doer or a thinker. Especially in the start-up phase, a business owner has to be a hard-core doer - but eventually, you've got to get other people around you to do the doing. Otherwise, you need to question if you are truly serious about building a business. Essentially you need to be able to systematize your business to the point where you can take ten weeks vacation and not have to check in".

1-800-GOT-JUNK? is now established in every major city in North America with a population exceeding one million people. That translates into more than a thousand trucks, serving more than 250 locations, generating more than $100 million in revenue.

Upwards of a thousand people now make a living through Brian's brand, 25 of which have become millionaires.

“With this company, I made the future happen in my mind. Once I became very centred in that picture, it was clear we would get there. We believe 100 percent that we will get to a billion in total sales. Any entrepreneur, or any leader, for that matter—in religion, in athletics— needs a clear vision.”

The 1-800-GOT-JUNK? story has been told on Oprah and Dr. Phil, written about in USA Today, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and the Associated Press and has attracted recognition with numerous business and humanitarian awards including, the Fortune Small Business: Best Boss Award, Entrepreneur Magazine's: Franchise 500, and The Best Company To Work for award by BC Business Magazine.

But Brian would be the first to tell you that it was power of another story that allowed 1-800-GOT-JUNK? to break out of a trap that leaves many business highways jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive.

A story that will steady the madness in your entrepreneurial soul.

And guide you to that place in the sun where you want your business to go.

"I can honestly say that if I hadn't read the E-Myth, our business wouldn't be half of what it is today."

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Motorvationally Speaking: "The Caring Councillor"

"We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give"

David has been elected to serve as a city councillor in four consecutive elections.

It doesn't take long to figure out why.

Few will rally support for community initiatives the way David does. One of his latest projects is the Canadian Tire “JumpStart” program from that helps children financially participate in organized sport and recreational activities. Since the program was launched in February 2005, over 130,000 Canadian kids have been given a sporting chance.

Thanks in in no small part to the grassroots support from people like the caring Ward 12 Councillor from Fredericton, NB ... David Kelly.

Details on the Canadian Tire "JumpStart" program are available through Fredericton region Chairperson David Kelly at (506) 458-8518 or david.kelly@fredericton.ca. You may also check out our website at www.canadiantire.ca.

"Motorvationally Speaking", on CHCD TV, is a weekly, internet-based show focused on people who embrace the power of positive thinking. The guests may not always be famous, but they are always enlightening, and each one of them has an interesting story to tell. Your comments and suggestions are always welcome as we do what we can to inspire, educate and motivate.

"Volunteers aren't unpaid because they're worthless, volunteers are unpaid because they are priceless"


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Way Rick Rolls

Rick started his first successful business at the age of 16.

He had few other choices, since he was finished with formal schooling at the age of 15. His poor academic performance compounded by dyslexia.

But, Rick discovered he could connect with others.

And while that skill set was of little use as far as test results and exams were concerned, his ability to connect has had a dramatic impact on other metrics such as revenues and profits.

With zero financial backing, he started by publishing his own magazine and selling records out of his car to London retailers, before entering the mail order business in 1970. Eventually, Rick opened his own shop and launched a record label, featuring a diverse mix of artists including Mike Oldfield, Culture Club and the Sex Pistols.

These turned out to be chart-toppers other "established" companies had been reluctant to sign.

It would not be the first time Rick would dare do things the "establishment" would frown upon.

He has since grown successful businesses that range from mobile phones, to transportation, travel, financial services, soft drinks, music, publishing and retailing. All told, there are more than 200 branded companies in his global organization, employing approximately 50,000 people, in 29 countries with revenues exceeding $20 billion dollars. Ironically, his goal was never to be the biggest or the most profitable. Rick likes being a disruptor; taking on industries that charge too much (music) or hold consumers hostage (cellular) or treat them badly and bore them to tears (airlines).

Along the way, he makes money.

In 2008, Forbes Magazine named Rick as the 236th richest person in the world with an estimated net worth of approximately $2.4 billion American greenbacks.

He was knighted in 1999. He’s married with two grown children. Besides being an indisputable great businessman, he’s made several world record-breaking attempts. He has managed to set a few world records which include crossing the Pacific from Japan to Arctic Canada, 6,700 miles (10,800 km), in a balloon of 2,600,000 cubic feet (74,000 m3). This broke the record, with a speed of 245 miles per hour (394 km/h).

Richard once stated, "I want Virgin to be as well-known around the world as Coca-Cola."

It would appear his vision is coming to fruition.

Research has shown Virgin is the most admired brand in the U.K. Two thousand were surveyed and asked ‘which brands or companies can you think of that you really admire?” - Virgin received more votes than any other brand with 23% of votes. Sony came second with 21%. And Richard does what he can to keep Virgin on top with his "Business Stripped Bare" website and blog located at http://entrepreneur.virgin.com/

Branson also freely admits that he has smoked cannabis with his 21-year old son, Sam, while the two were on a surfing holiday in Australia. The way Richard sees it, "I don't think smoking the occasional spliff is all that wrong. I'd rather my son did it in front of me than behind closed doors." Branson adds Rolling Stone guitarist Keith Richards was the "first person to teach me to roll a joint".

Branson has no shortage of critics, who question his way of doing business and raising kids.

But who is a critic if not someone who claims to know the way but can't drive the car?

When was the last time they erected a statue or made a movie to honor a critic?

How many critics become masters of their own universe, create their own Camelot with a multi-billion dollar empire built from scratch as a teenager?

Do you know any second-guessing, know-it-all critics who are rolling like Rick?

"The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by obvious realities. We need men and women who can dream of things that never were..."


Monday, June 22, 2009


Nothing is DIFFERENT about business as usual.

Nothing is DIFFERENT about your brand looking and sounding like everyone else.

Change signifies a shift to something DIFFERENT.

Anyone who tries to bring about change is a DESIGNER.

The question is whether you truly want your brand to become something DIFFERENT?


But, doing something DIFFERENT requires courage.

Courage to venture away from well-worn paths and instead blaze a new and DIFFERENT trail.

You can't outsource courage.

It has to come from within.

There is nothing DIFFERENT about a company narrowly focused on costs at the expense of the bigger picture.

But, there is something remarkably DIFFERENT about a company DESIGNED around the desires of the customers it serves.

Businesses without a clear sense of purpose in how they serve a customer are led by short-term thinkers and/or greedy, self-absorbed, money-hungry bastards.

That alone is what makes great brands DIFFERENT.


How is your brand DIFFERENT?


"Be different. Think different. Better be a pirate than to join the navy"

p.s... From the beginning, Yvon decided that his business and brand would be DIFFERENT.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Blue Collar Comedy

Danny Whitney learned his lessons the hard way.

The son of a Nebraska preacher, Daniel Lawrence Whitney dreamed of finding his own pulpit while toiling in the trenches as a fast food cook at Wendy's in the early 80's. His friends and co-workers called him "naturally funny" and on a dare, he began doing stand-up comedy at local nightclubs. On some amateur nights, Daniel Lawrence was, well, an amateur. Nights when he would have felt like checking into the 4077 M*A*S*H*. But, there were enough nights when his innate talent shone through and he began learning how to connect with an audience. When the 90's rolled around Danny started calling radio stations as fictional characters, one of which was born on "The Ron and Ron Show" on 95YNF in Tampa, Florida.

That was the day when Danny was asked to call in as a cable installer named "Larry".

And he has been Gitting R' Done ever since.

As we head into the weekend, enjoy these Top Ten pearls of wisdom from "Larry the Cable Guy".

1. A day without sunshine is like night.

2. On the other hand, you have different fingers.

3. 99 percent of lawyers give the rest a bad name.

4. Remember, half the people you know are below average.

5. He who laughs last, thinks slowest.

6. OK, so what's the speed of dark?

7. When everything is coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.

8. Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.

9. Why do psychics have to ask you your name?

10. Inside every older person is a younger person wondering, 'What the heck happened?'

"When people are laughing, they're generally not killing each other"

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Hugging Your People

Jack's message is so simple, it's easy to miss.

Earlier this week, we profiled haberdasher extraordinaire Jack Mitchell and the concepts he has applied to his three successful, upscale clothing stores from his book "Hug Your Customer".

But, Jack has written another book, one that should make business owners and brand builders stand up and take notice.

Studies have shown that 83% of brand loyalty is largely dictated by what happens between your people on the frontline and your customer. In other words, the best brands rest on the strong shoulders of the troops in the trenches.

More and more leaders in a number of business categories are applying Jack's wisdom in ways you can't imagine.

Management guru Tom Peters once said, "The magic formula that successful businesses have discovered is to treat customers like guests and employees like people".

Mediocre companies generally get the employees they deserve. Meanwhile, the top brands never stop doing what it takes to attract and retain top talent.

Is there a business case to be made for hugging your people?

Could it be that simple?

"Start with good people, lay out the rules, communicate with your employees, motivate them and reward them. If you do all those things effectively, you can't miss"

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Motorvationally Speaking: "The Potential Awakener"

“Ever since I was a child I have had this instinctive urge for expansion and growth. To me, the function and duty of a quality human being is the sincere and honest development of one's potential"

It has been said that a good leader is one who can tell another how to reach his or her potential.

A great leader is one who can help another discover this potential for him or herself.

That's one of the many qualities that makes Martin a top notch leader and one of New Brunswick's most energizing resources and exports.

A self-made inspirational speaker, Martin transitioned from being a university calibre hockey player to becoming an internationally-acclaimed keynoter. He has wowed audiences all over Canada, the U.S., France, Belgium and Africa and has touched the hearts of tens of thousands in his adopted province with his work on "Ten Needles", the story of 10-year old cancer patient Sean Collins and his legacy of courage and wisdom.

Today on TSB, we focus on a former Team Canada captain who became a four-time author, now sharing his insights on awakening the potential that sleeps inside all of us ...

Let's welcome ... "The Potential Awakener", Martin Latulippe!

You can learn more about Martin's amazing story and what he does to alchemize potential by visiting http://www.martinlatulippe.ca/

"Motorvationally Speaking", on CHCD TV, is a weekly, internet-based show focused on people who embrace the power of positive thinking. The guests may not always be famous, but they are always enlightening, and each one of them has an interesting story to tell. Your comments and suggestions are always welcome as we do what we can to inspire, educate and motivate.

"Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don't know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!"


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hugging Your Customers

Jack might know the true purpose of a business better than anyone in North America.

On an emotional, intuitive level, you would be hard-pressed to find a more knowledgeable, experienced expert on this subject.

Jack is the CEO of three of the finest men’s and women’s specialty stores in the U.S.:Mitchells in Westport, CT, Richards in Greenwich, CT and Marshs in Huntington Village, NY.

Strolling along the polished wood main floor of one of his luxury emporiums, he cuts an impressive figure. Typically, Jack is dressed impeccably in a Ermenegildo Zegna two-button suit with a bright yellow tailor’s measuring tape draped around his neck. Six days a week, he can be seen smiling, waving hello and hugging customers when he is not organizing, rearranging and straightening out the merchandise.

Did you say hugging the customers?

Since the true purpose of a business is to create & keep a customer, Jack and his team go out of their way to ensure no one ever wants to leave his three stores.

There are hugs all around at Mitchells, Richards and Marshs.

From everyone.

They are haberdashers with a heart.

Much of what Jack knows about business went into his first book, Hug Your Customer: The Proven Way to Personalize Sales and Achieve Astounding Results. It has sold more than 150,000 copies worldwide. It is now in its eight printing and has been translated into nine languages. Stuffed with anecdotal tales from the fashion retailing ranks, Hug Your Customer offers solid, practical advice on how to attract, retain and expand a larger customer base. Those little extra touches that make customers gasp with delight - what some call the "Wow Factor" - Jack Mitchell calls them "Hugs."

"A hug is a metaphor for any tiny caring gesture, deed or act that touches the customer, and the customer says 'wow, these folks really care about me as a person. I think I’ll come back and shop here again. We try to know their kids’ names, their grandchildren’s names, where they went to college; we want to get to know them as people in a way that makes them feel good.", explains Mitchell.

And true to his optimistic nature, Jack and his team see mistakes as an opportunity to wow their customers.

Jack Mitchell has figured out that giving out hugs in business has a boomerang effect.

Customer love keeps coming back.

Jack would agree that hugs make a perfect gift - one size fits all, and it's easy to exchange. Hugging has no unpleasant side effects. Hugs are all natural. There are no batteries to replace. They are inflation-proof, non-fattening, non-taxable, non-polluting with zero money down, no monthly payments and fully refundable.

Could a few more "hugs" make a difference for your business?

Starting today, what "hugs" could you start giving your customers?

"No matter how hard you hug your money, it never hugs back"
JIM GILBERT, "Canada's Huggable Car Dealer"


Monday, June 15, 2009

Measuring R.O.L.

Ask any group of 100 North American adults, "What is the Purpose of a Business?" and you will predictably hear one response more than any other.

Typically, more than 80% of any audience will respond on cue by saying, "the purpose of a business is to make money". And if you are like the majority, this response has also crossed your mind at one time or another.

But, this autopilot, knee-jerk response may not be the answer that provides the uncommon level of clarity required to own, operate and help build a sustainable business and remarkable brand.

The holes in the "make money" argument begin to appear when you ask, "Is making money really the purpose of a business, or is it the RESULT of a business fulfilling its purpose?"


Slowly, an awkward silence engulfs the room.

Invariably, one chatterbox will open up and offer a series of "ya buts", however, the smart people in the room will pause to reflect on the question that was just asked.

Making money.

Is it the Purpose or is it a Result?

It can't be both.

And what is a result, if not a form of measurement?

In the early 1960's Harvard business professor Theodore Levitt argued that identifying "making money" as a business purpose was the same as saying the purpose of life is to consume food and breathe oxygen. Eating and breathing are requisites to exist - not a purpose. Ted viewed "making money" and "profit" in much the same manner - as necessities. Let's face it, without a positive cash flow, any business will grind to a halt and collapse.

Levitt also maintained that pinning labels like "making money" and "profit" on the purpose donkey was morally shallow, since dollars can be made in so many devious ways. If no greater purpose can be identified, than how does a business and a brand morally justify its existence? The deeper you contemplate this issue, the more you realize that the "making money" answer is a reflection of the blind leading the blind.

Professor Levitt brought unusual clarity to this debate when he stated:

"The purpose of a business is to create & keep a customer.

That's it.

In order to accomplish that, you have to determine products and services that customers really want and value as well as say and do the right things that will make them eager to do business with you. If you don't give your customers some good reasons to stay, your competitors will give them plenty of reasons to leave. A business and a brand with the horsepower create and keep enough customers will win the "making money" race many times over.

Using "create & keep" as a compass for business purpose allows a brand to generate long-term loyalty from its customers. Many marketing experts concur the cost to acquire a new customer is 5-10 times greater than retaining an existing one. Typically, a 5% increase in customer retention can boost profits by as much as 25-t0-100%. (see the graph above.)

By holding on to your most profitable customers, your brand can reduce the cost of acquiring new ones and start to measure R.O.L. (Return on Loyalty).

Some repeat business or short-term behavior fixes can be bought, but long-term loyalty has to be earned. Long-term loyal customers buy more often, spend more money at higher prices, provide more referrals, are less expensive to serve, stay longer and have a higher lifetime value.

How much of your business energy and branding efforts are focused on keeping your existing customers?

While the road ahead is unclear, the winners will be the brands that remain focused on the long term. There may be no better way or time to build your businesses than by investing in a strategy that places loyalty at the finish line.

Where is your focus right now?

Is it fixated on "making money" and the daily, weekly, quarterly pursuit of cold, hard cash?

Or is it directed towards the person responsible for your profit in the first place and the one who is willing to stay with you for years on end?

Your customer.

"You don't earn loyalty in a day. You earn loyalty day-by-day"


Friday, June 12, 2009

Hardest Working Couple in Show Business

The girl was a beautiful, promising professional ballerina when her world came crashing down at the tender age of 19.

The ballerina lost her right arm in a car accident. Shortly thereafter, a handsome boyfriend walked out of her life.

The ballerina survived a suicide attempt and eventually learned how to live independently and do many things including combing her hair, which she trimmed from waist-length to shoulder-length.

She also learned to cook and wash clothes.

But, deep in her heart, she still yearned to dance.

In September 2005, the ballerina ran into a 21-year-old young man who was training to be a national level cyclist. The cyclist had fallen off a tractor at the age of 4, losing his left leg. Despite his handicap, the young man grew up as an optimistic and athletic kid, attempting high-jumping, long-jumping, diving and swimming before settling on cycling.

But, he did not dance.

He was dumbfounded when the ballerina extended the invitation.

"Dance with one leg .... are you joking with me? No way!"

Nevertheless, the cyclist agreed to give it a try and began rehearsals with the perfection-seeking ballerina. The partners broke up a few times when she would lose patience and the young man would walk out. Eventually, they came back together and started training seriously, often from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., working on a single movement. For more than a year, they perfected a routine that has become known as "Hand in Hand".

"I often failed to keep balance when holding her, so we fell down a lot," the young man recalled, including one spill in which he dislocated his shoulder.

In April, 2007 the hard-working couple were one of the finalists among 7000 competitors in China's 4th CCTV national dance competition. They won the Silver medal with the 99.17 high score and scored # 1 with popular votes from the audience.

It would appear Ma Li and Zhai Xiaowei were moved by a spirit that now moves others.

Dance has been described as "a minimum of explanation, a minimum of anecdotes and a maximum of sensations". It has the power to move us in so many ways beyond the physical realm.

If life is a dance from from one stage to the next, the ballerina and the young man have showed us that dancing with our bodies is one thing, but dancing with our hearts is another.

The next time when you hear yourself or someone else say, “I can’t”, feel free to draw from the spirit of this dance.

"The one thing that can solve most of our problems is dancing"

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Three "Secret" Thoughts

"It might work for other people, but it doesn't work for me, no matter what I try"

"It only works sometimes, and other times it doesn't. What am I doing wrong"?

"Why is this so damn difficult"?

"I give it everything I've got, but don't see any results"!

Would it surprise you to know you are not alone.

You are not the only one who has had difficulty applying "The Secret".

About 97% of people that have experimented with the Law of Attraction have struggled to achieve what they define as success. And after the early rush of excitement from discovery dies off, most revert to familiar patterns of thinking.

Trapped on a terminal treadmill marked "Rat Race".

Manacled by a mindless hamster wheel labelled "Mediocrity".

But is it possible a forgotten element of "The Secret" is a steady diet of application and implementation? Like tennis, golf or tournament-level Monopoly could the real "secret" be a skill requiring plenty of repetition?

Easier said than done when you are feeling frustrated and drowning in what appears to be negative circumstances. By now you have noticed whenever we get sucked into the vortex of those distractions we tend to attract more negativity. But why do others seem to rise above those things and keep attracting good things into their life? What is the difference in their approach?

As with any other skill, manifesting abundance is no different from playing the piano or flipping pancakes. How good you are depends on how proficient you become at performing that specific skill. People who are efficient in attracting have learned the skill so well they often don't realize how they do it. Abundance just flows naturally.

Earlier this week, we shared some of the scientific community's latest findings regarding "The Secret" and how research is validating the hypothesis that thoughts become things. Today on TSB, we explore three essential (and not so secret) ingredients of applying this skill, often missed the first time around.

1. ASK

Do you even know what is it you want to attract and do you possess the courage to ask for it. As the saying goes, "if you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there". The universe can't deliver without first knowing what it is that you want to have manifested. How clearly have you defined what you want? With more, here is "Chicken Soup" co-author, Jack Canfield.


How deep is your belief in what you are asking for? You need to truly believe that what you are asking for will become yours. Doubts need to be summarily dismissed and pushed away. Any notion that failure is a possibility screws up the delivery.

One of the challenges with "believing" is that we are not conscious of much of what we believe. Conventional wisdom dictates we are aware of approximately 10% of our beliefs, leaving a whopping 90% submerged in the dark undercurrents of the subconscious. Our ability to consciously manifest is powerfully influenced by our less than conscious selves that conceal limiting beliefs, conflicting values and suppressed fears.

Is what you are manifesting supported by a foundation of belief ready to be followed by rock solid commitment and action? Or is it a passing thought, a wishful, wistful dream, flipping and flopping like a remote control commandeering couch potato? Author Gregg Braden offers an interesting perspective on this subject.


How open are you to receiving what you want to manifest? And how will you deal with the inevitable distractions that come your way? With thoughts on that subject, here is "Law of Attraction" expert Michael Losier.

Science is revealing that each one of us can literally create the universe of our dreams with our minds. But it all begins with being clear about what we ask for, the courage to believe it and being open enough to receive. Asking, believing and receiving is a supreme test of self-confidence, but as I heard from an old friend (his initials are Troy Tait) remark on C-103 Radio the other day, "Confidence is a decision".

Once you have made a decision, it also wouldn't hurt to draw up a plan of action.

List your goals, specify how you are going to measure success and if you can't achieve your goals without help from others, surround yourself with the best people possible to assist you.

The universe is a powerful orchestrator and will re-arrange itself accordingly, but you are the musician in the orchestra.

You get to choose which instrument you will play.

And how beautifully you want to play it.

"Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions"

p.s... The TSB blog was initiated in the summer of 2008 with the intention of sharing ideas and stories that would spark readers to take their game to the next level either personally or professionally. Never would have imagined back then that readers in more than 40 countries would be following these posts and from time to time those readers will post comments on this blog that tell us we're on the right track, offer feedback or they will drop us an e-mail to share their thoughts on specific stories and subject matter. But sometimes (as in this case) its just a voicemail message that needs to be shared in the spirit of gratitude.

Here is the message from Tuesday.

"Had trouble logging on to issue a comment so I am leaving this on voice-mail. Last few postings you have put out, there seems to be a general theme. Just wanted to let you know it's hitting me and maybe its because I am reading the "Power of Now" and "A New Earth" by Eckhart Tolle right now and really trying to apply some of those principles into my life. I can only tell you first hand that the level of happiness from living today has been huge...I can;t even explain how much it's impacted my life. The fact that you have been writing about how these things and how you have to forget about the past because it's already happened. Just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your writings and hope you are having a great day"

Thank you for the kind words and hope you are having a good one as well my friend.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

"Motorvationally Speaking" - Musical Education

“Music is the universal language of mankind"

What could a small Canadian province learn from the barrios of poverty-stricken Venezuela about social change?

You are about to find out.

Venzuela is home to a music program so extraordinary it has being touted as the future of classical music itself.

And, New Brunswick is eager to learn how they do it.

Over 250,000 underprivileged kids are now part of El Sistema (the System) and the deal is simple. Any child who comes through the door showing enough enthusiasm and commitment to learn gets the instrument of their choice and free instruction every weekday afternoon and Saturday mornings.

The kids wind up working hard at their craft.

And their hard work is being noticed.

The New Brunswick Youth Orchestra (NBYO) is now in the process of aligning itself with “El Sistema”. NBYO officials have just completed a fact-finding tour of the South American country, with the intention of bringing the concept back to Canada.

Today on TSB, we focus on the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra and its visionary president Ken MacLeod who has made a habit out of dreaming big - and seeing those dreams come true.

El Sistema is funded by private sponsors and government and has become a flagship of national achievement. It is based on the premise that it is not just the lack of a roof, bread or literacy skills that hold children back, it is also a spiritual lack – a loneliness, a lack of recognition and achievement. It is also based on the belief that children are born into the world as assets – not liabilities, and that poor people deserve to see beauty.

The El Sistema spirit:

• Music is taught as play rather than a chore;
• The objective is discipline, respect and achievement through work;
• The goal is excellence: not to be the best, but the best you can be;
• Everything is communal. Everything is about the team. The culture is one of mutual support.

Ken MacLeod dreams of an “El Sistema New Brunswick" as a way to tackle illiteracy and social alienation for at-risk kids. He is now compiling his findings from his tour of Venezueala and hopes to have a final report and recommendations delivered to the NBYO’s board of directors by September.

You can learn more about the NBYO learning tour in Venezuela at www.nbyo-ojnb.ca. Click on the Facebook group page amd discover YouTube footage of the team engaging with members of El Sistema.

"Motorvationally Speaking", on CHCD TV, is a weekly, internet-based show focused on people who embrace the power of positive thinking. The guests may not always be famous, but they are always enlightening, and each one of them has an interesting story to tell. Your comments and suggestions are always welcome as we do what we can to inspire, educate and motivate.

"I have my own particular sorrows, loves, delights; and you have yours. But sorrow, gladness, yearning, hope, love, belong to all of us, in all times and in all places. Music is the only means whereby we feel these emotions in their universality"


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Ronnie and "Big Red"

“It was like the Lord was holding the reins, ..Secretariat was one of His creatures and maybe whispered to him a “Go” and that horse really went. It was really an almost supernatural experience...it really was”
PAT LYNCH, NY Racing Association, on the 1973 Belmont Stakes

There are precious few times in our life when we witness perfection or experience it ourselves.

But, that is precisely what happened on this day, thirty-six years ago, when Secretariat and a New Brunswick-born jockey took a ride into eternity.

June 9, 1973 dawned bright and clear, perfect weather for horse racing.

A capacity crowd of 67,605 was buzzing with excitement by the time the horses were at the post.

Secretariat was attempting to become the first horse in 25 years to capture the prestigious Triple Crown, considered the greatest accomplishment in Thoroughbred racing. As Secretariat prepared for the Belmont Stakes, his image was splashed on the covers of TIME, Newsweek, and Sports Illustrated. "Big Red" was a global celebrity.

And as Dick Enberg narrates in this retrospective, he more than lived up to the hype.

Ron Turcotte was one of twelve children raised on a farm near Drummond, New Brunswick. As a boy, Ronnie loved to sneak off and race the family work horses, but never imagined it was possible to make a living on the back of a horse. When he was 14, Ronnie quit school to work as a lumberjack and applied his school of hard knocks lessons in riding 3,032 winners in his Hall of Fame career. He was North America's leading stakes-winning jockey in 1972 and 1973. He became the first jockey to win back-to-back Kentucky Derbys since Jimmy Winkfield in 1902 and is the only jockey to ever have won five of the six consecutive Triple Crown races.

ESPN has listed Secretariat 35th of the 100 greatest athletes of the 20th century, the highest of three non-humans on the list (the other two were also racehorses: Man o' War at 84th and Citation at 97th ). In 2005, Secretariat appeared on ESPN's list of "Greatest Sports Performances", with his run at the Belmont ranking second behind Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game. Secretariat had a stamp commissioned by the U.S. Postal Service in 1999 and his statue looms at the Belmont paddock to this day.

In thoroughbred racing, only one extraordinary horse and rider, perhaps a couple of times per century, can outrun, outmaneuver, outstrategize the rest of the pack. Entire generations are born, grow up—and some die—without ever seeing a Triple Crown Champion. No horse has won the Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978.

And there has never been a total package in the sport of kings that compares to Ronnie and "Big Red".

"One-hundred years from now, no one will remember who played tight end for the 1973 Miami Dolphins. But they will know the legend of Secretariat—because a true Thoroughbred Champion, while being saddled, bridled and reigned in—is not confined to time and space; marketing fads or 21st Century human impatience"
MARION ALTIERI, Daily Racing News


Monday, June 8, 2009

Brain Salad Surgeon

The makers of "The Secret" taught the world that thoughts are things.

In other words, whatever we toss around in our mental melons eventually manifests in the fruit bowl of reality. These thoughts determine whether our lives are comparable to a circular container of the juiciest cherries ... or the leftover pits.

However, the power of positive thinking is easily dismissed by those who believe it lacks scientific credibility.

Until now.

The centuries old Law of Attraction is being scientifically validated in a number of research projects, including several uncovered by a Canadian doctor.

Norman Doidge MD, is shedding light on how our brightest or darkest thoughts influence the neural pathways in our brains. Some herald Dr. Doidge's findings in his book "The Brain That Changes Itself" as the most significant breakthrough in this field in over 400 years.

Dr. Doidge contends our brains are less like computers or machines and more like bendable, malleable pieces of plastic that can be re-shaped, re-formed and re-wired.

Regardless of age, ability or life experiences.

The connections between his research, the Law of Attraction and how it impacts you will begin to emerge at the 2:08 mark of this video.

Our brain plays a crucial role in determining what we want to attract.

The brain wave activity we engage in determines the results we currently enjoy (or not). The Law of Attraction says that like attracts like at a vibrational level - so if we send out the right waves, we tend to attract the right things and vice versa.

However, that is easier said than done, considering how the average person tends to cling to “truths”, (often learned in school) and only reluctantly will exchange old “truths” for new “truths”. It doesn't help when much of the current educational systems tend to promote regurgitation of “facts”, reinforcing rigid, fixed thinking. With rigidity, our brains travel over the same ruts again and again, rarely accepting new or differing points of view.

Are the ruts in your neural pathways becoming deeper and deeper?

Or can you leverage the neuroplasticity of your brain to break from past limitations and form new connections?

If your brain is “like a living creature with an appetite” are you careful in terms of what you feed it?

"You are the most powerful magnet in the universe! You contain a magnetic power within you that is more powerful than anything in this world, and this unfathomable magnetic power is emitted through your thoughts"

p.s... If your neural pathways need bending on a regular basis, there are few sources better than a weekly visit to the Monday Morning Memo. TSB doesn't always eat right, exercise enough or go to church, but has been religious about always reading Roy's memo every Monday for the last 9+ years. On this particular Monday, 42, 711 other readers are learning about the 12 Languages of the Mind and how they might help elevate perception of your brand.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Longest Day of Destiny

"Beyond that peaceful horizon... a monster waits. A coiled spring of men, ships, and planes... straining to be released against us. But, gentlemen, not a single Allied soldier shall reach the shore. Whenever and wherever this invasion may come, gentlemen... I shall destroy the enemy there, at the water's edge. Believe me, gentlemen, the first 24 hours of the invasion will be decisive. For the Allies as well as the Germans, it will be the longest day"

65 years.

Seems like an eternity in a world rapidly moving from one tweet to the next.

65 years ago today, 25,000 Canadian forces were making final preparations for a date with destiny.

65 years ago, these Canucks were packing gear, whispering prayers and steeling nerves, getting ready for the greatest seaborne invasion of all time.

They were part of an Allied contingent of over 100,000 otherwise ordinary men; wondering how long it would be, on this extraordinarily longest day, until they finally made it through.

"The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead or on the next. It was the deep knowledge--and pray God we have not lost it--that there is a profound, moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest"
RONALD REAGAN, June 6, 1984


Thursday, June 4, 2009

BackPocket Culture

Cameron is crazy about culture.

And the impact it has on profitability and performance.

Just so you know, Cameron is not one of those high falutin' academic types who sits around and theorizes about this stuff. He has been there, done that. Got several t-shirts from the trenches to prove it.

He is a brainiac with bootstraps.

As one of Canada's leading business minds, 42-year old Cameron has:

- Helped boost revenues from $2 Million to $105 Million in 6 years (incurring zero debt or taking on outside shareholders).
- Created a PR team that generated 5,000+ stories in those same 6 years.
- Hired 220 people in 4 months.
- Spearheaded the sale, branding, and integration of 450+ franchise locations.
- Taught his psychological theories at MIT's Entrepreneurial Masters Program.

Now branded as the "BackPocket COO", Cameron helps entrepreneurs make their dreams happen by putting systems in place that move a vision forward. After 7 years as Chief Operating Officer of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, Cameron developed key insights on how a winning culture can be systematized, wisdom he now shares some of North America's hottest companies. During his tenure with 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, this hard working, hammock-loving Vancouverite helped founder Brian Scudamore engineer an internal culture that is the envy of many; seamlessly connecting to an external marketing message that makes a habit of getting noticed.

In exactly 1:08 you will get a sense of what Cameron Herold has helped create.

Canadian Business Magazine ranked 1-800-GOT-JUNK? as the “2nd Best Company to Work for in Canada”. BC Business Magazine rated them “the #1 Company in BC to Work for” - twice. Also during Cameron's reign, numerous MBA programs studied the company, including Harvard and Queen’s University.

Want to know how they did it?

Here is Cameron Herold at a recent workshop, explaining some of the nuts & bolts in creating a world class culture; an integral component for any brand, aspiring to become "seamless".

In short, Cameron recommends:

1. Paint the Picture

Visualize what the business will look like in a few years time. Areas such as Brand Presence, Culture, Leadership, Profitability, Service and Image. Share it with everyone in the company so there is common understanding on direction.

2. Recruit for Cultural Fit

Get the “right people on the bus”. Cameron shares the views of “Good to Great” author Jim Collins that it is essential to get the right people in the right roles. Get rid of those who don’t fit in. Interview over and over again until you are absolutely sure the right person is recruited.

3. Huddle

It's a high energy, seven-minute daily meeting.

The agenda looks like this:

- Good news (corporate and personal)
- Numbers (achievement against goals)
- What does it all mean? (financial achievement)
- Update the news. (what’s happening in each department, what's next)
- Challenges/Frustrations/Systems/opportunities
- Cheer

Cameron readily confesses many of his concepts are influenced by the internal branding strategy adopted by highly profitable, non-unionized WestJet, which earned honors as Canada's Most Admired Corporate Culture from 2005-08. He firmly believes there is no better way to combat a labour shortage than to develop a culture that sticks. As he explains, "If you have that cult-like culture, the company just attracts people like a magnet. You have to create "slightly more than a business and slightly less than a religion".

You might already be thinking how your business and brand could benefit from some of Cameron's crazy ideas.

But, are you crazy enough to actually put them in place?

"It's difficult for people to get rid of junk. They get attached to things and let them define who they are. If there's one thing I've learned in this business, it's that you are what you can't let go of"


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

"Motorvationally Speaking" - Soap Star

“Les remords sur le passé et la crainte des lendemains tuent l’espoir”
“Remorse over the past and fear of tomorrow kills hope.”

Samuel is the kind of guy who is always bubbling with enthusiasm about the life of business and the business of life.

Still in his early thirties, he has already played a key role in the rapid growth of many Canadian start-up companies.

Armed with a degree in Business Administration from UNB, specializing in International Business , Samuel joined a handful of entrepreneurs to launch Canada¹s premier pet insurance company in 2000 in Oakville Ontario. As a publicly traded company, it was recognized by PROFIT Magazine as being Canada's 2nd fastest growing company based on Sales for the fiscal years between 2000 to 2005.

His mandate completed, Samuel entered the industrial and commercial real estate business in Montreal before moving back to New Brunswick to assist a number of start ups such as Heritage Elevator, Focal Track Solutions and more notably Olivier Soapery in Ste Anne de Kent. As Director of Business Development, Samuel's primary focus is growing the Olivier distribution networks around the world, promoting a brand that aims to save the cultural heritage of soap crafting.

Samuel has also been a Parliamentary Page in Ottawa, a founding member of MASA (Men Against Sexual Aggression), founding President of SOAR-K (Student Organizing Aid and Relief for Kosovars). Lately, he has been volunteering as a Peer mentor for high risk boys in the Kent County area and helping the Moncton Womens Progress club raise money for Crossroad for Women.

Today on TSB, we get up close and personal with a Business Development star trying to change the world one soap at a time ... Samuel Saintonge!

"Motorvationally Speaking", on CHCD TV, is a weekly, internet-based show focused on people who embrace the power of positive thinking. The guests may not always be famous, but they are always enlightening, and each one of them has an interesting story to tell. Your comments and suggestions are always welcome as we do what we can to inspire, educate and motivate.

"I want to work for a company that contributes to and is part of the community. I want something not just to invest in. I want something to believe in"


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Adapting Your "Brand". Seamlessly.

Do I have an original thought in my head? Life is short. I need to make the most of it. Today is the first day of the rest of my life. I'm a walking cliché. If I stop putting things off, I would be happier. All I do is sit on my fat ass. If my ass wasn't fat, I would be happier. I should start jogging again. Five miles a day. I need to turn my life around. What do I need to do? I need to fall in love. I need to have a girlfriend. I need to read more and prove myself"

What if you approached brand building the same way a Hollywood screenwriter approaches a movie project?

Would it surprise you to know the process is remarkably similar?

RHETT BUTLER: No, I don't think I will kiss you, although you need kissing, badly. That's what's wrong with you. You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how.

Instinctively it makes sense that your brand should be dynamic and evolve over time to continually surprise the people you want to engage, much like a film. But, how do you apply this principle to crafting your brand?

TSB was introduced to this concept several years ago by Hollywood script guru David Freeman. He is also the creator of Beyond Structure, a seminar that helps writers create emotionally riveting characters and dialog through a concept called the "Character Diamond". The way David teaches it, each point on the diamond (at least three, maybe four) represents a distinct trait that together defines the essence of the character. Those unique traits determine a character's words and actions. Is he a roguish sort of Southern gentleman? Then his words should reflect it. Is she a spoiled, manipulative drama queen? Then, perhaps, she finally gets what's coming to her.

SCARLETT: Rhett, Rhett... Rhett, if you go, where shall I go? What shall I do?

While David intended his Character Diamond as a tool for screenwriters, some branding experts recognize the connection it has with branding. In particular, this technique helps define the sharper edges that separate your brand from bland.

To help you understand the impact a sharp edge can have on your brand, let's seize this moment and imagine you are the leading man in a Hollywood production.

For the next 1:26, you are a slightly neurotic, socially phobic screenwriter named Charlie, struggling with writers block. But, instead of being a screenwriter, picture Charlie as someone who owns his own business. Instead of sitting in on a screenwriting workshop, imagine Charlie attending a branding seminar.

Instead of the speaker (based on screenwriting legend Robert McKee) talking about a movie or screenplay, pretend he is referring to your business or career.

How much would your brand benefit from what Hollywood can teach us about drama, conflict, plot, story arc, narrative and character development?

Are there scripts you can study and adapt for your own business?

After all, for your brand ... tomorrow is another day.

In 1996, a small Calgary airline with three planes and 200 people studied and learned from a Texas-based upstart, who dared to challenge the status quo. Following a "David and Goliath" story arc, Southwest Airlines posted more than 30 consecutive years of profitability, thanks to a branding strategy that had the courage to embrace "irreverence" as part of its character. From the CEO, to senior management, external marketing, all the way down to the front line.

Calgary-based WestJet paid close attention to the script being written at Southwest. It helps explain why their consumer experience is seamlessly connected from the moment you check in, to what you feel from WestJetters in the cabin, to what you watch on TV with the language CEO Sean Durfy uses in a recent Microsoft commercial.

A brand is a "story" embedded in the mind of the market.

But, what makes your "story" better than the next guy?

What are the sharp edges that define the character of your brand?

Does your brand possess a character - revealed through actions - which clearly defines what it stands for and stands against?

And, frankly, why should your customer give a damn?

“The things a man has to have are hope and confidence in himself against odds, and sometimes he needs somebody, his pal or his mother or his wife or God, to give him that confidence. He's got to have some inner standards worth fighting for or there won't be any way to bring him into conflict. And he must be ready to choose death before dishonor without making too much song and dance about it. That's all there is to it"

p.s... "Gone With The Wind" is often considered the most beloved, enduring and popular film of all time. Released in 1939, it received ten Academy Awards and is considered a prototype of a Hollywood blockbuster. When adjusted for inflation, "Gone With The Wind" is the highest-ticket selling film of all time in North America.

Sidney Howard's script was derived from Margaret Mitchell's first and only published novel, which took her more than a decade to write.


Monday, June 1, 2009

What Is Your "Brand"?

You are attending a business seminar.

Sitting in your chair and surrounded by highly trained, professional colleagues, each of them with at least two if not three designations that follow their name.

You have come to learn how the concept of "brand" and "branding" applies to your business, but as the presentation unfolds, you quickly recognize nothing has prepared you to answer a fundamental question' "What is a brand"?

You quickly scan the room and realize, none of your colleagues know how to answer the question either.

A sense of relief washes over.

You are not alone.

The speaker goes on to share a story about searching for THE answer to this question; one that can be applied in real life situations that will impact your business from now until the end of time. He explains how Google offers hundreds of different definitions from hundreds of different marketing "experts", however these definitions - often wrapped in marketing mumbo jumbo - fall short of what you need to make sense of it all.

Finally, the speaker relates how the quest for clarity on this subject revealed a definition able to stand the test of your time and the depth of your marketing budget.

"A brand is a story, embedded in the mind of the market".

That's simple enough.

Your brand is a "story" and for it to be effective, your "story" needs to be planted firmly in the minds of the people you are trying to share it with.

Branding is how you do it.

The "ing" makes all the difference in the world as you learn that if "brand" equates to the intangible element called "story" then, "branding" represents the tangible elements such as logo, design, taglines, advertising messages etc.

One of the "experts" who gets it is Daryl Travis.

He has been described as a professor, detective, journalist, anthropologist and writer all rolled into one. After three decades of working in the advertising racket, Daryl has learned success in business rarely depends on advertising. Success will always hinge on how a brand emotionally connects with its customers.

Daryl's book, "Emotional Branding: How Successful Brands Gain the Irrational Edge", explores how the power of story has elevated some of the world's most powerful brand, including Easter Seals, FedEx, Harley-Davidson and Honda. He believes marketing data can only tell you so much. Daryl maintains the key to "Emotional Branding" lies in digging deeper to understand what would really motivate someone to want to buy from you or join your team.

As Daryl explains, "When a campaign is not effective it is usually because it doesn’t touch the right emotional motivations. There is no emotional connection with “Just say no.” Think of the difference between, “Just say no” and “Just do it,” from Nike. “Just do it” is hugely successful, maybe the most successful tagline in history. There is just a different connection level".

Each one of us is branded, whether we like it or not.

Your brand represents the promise of the business, and will always be based more on feelings than facts. Buying decisions are made on believing a promise, and promises are rooted in our human emotions. Quite simply, brands are built on trust. Making and keeping promises builds trust which is among the most basic of human emotions. And no matter the size and scope of your enterprise, how your customers feel about your brand isn’t a casual question. It is THE crucial question.

Strong brands are those with strong stories to tell. The more compelling your brand saga, the more it fuels the success of your business. Conversations that unfold at coffee shops and backyard barbecues; on blogs and on Facebook are just as important or more, than the ads you purchased on the radio or other traditional forms of media.

How do you tell your "story"?

Have you determined the "story" you want to tell?

Every great story features interesting characters and personalities. Does your brand actually have a personality? And if so, how would you describe it? Is it more Jerry Maguire or Seinfeld? Jennifer Aniston or Lopez? Tom Hanks or Petty? Marilyn Monroe or Manson? George Clooney or Costanza?

Have you stopped to notice how other brands leverage the power of personality when it comes to sharing their story. PC or Mac? Tim Hortons or Starbucks? Air Canada or WestJet?

Are there other brands you could emulate that have touched you on an emotional level with the power of their "story"?

"Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind" WALTER LANDOR