Dare to Explore

Resting on a long weekend Monday for me means letting my mind explore.

A business idea has been brewing in my mind for a few months now and so far I have prototyped it, did some initial interviews with vested parties (groups that would use the service) and gotten back some great questions, feedback and support. Of course there are opinions from the consumer end as well, and not all were approving.

Some comments:

  • This isn’t for me
  • This isn’t for the XYZ market
  • I could see value for this for ABC market, but not the mass market
  • How long will this last, the market won’t be hot forever

All these points are well taken, but here’s the positive spin on it.

  • Great – it means it’s not for you but for somebody else.
  • Great – not for XYZ market means it could be for ABC market – a product/service should have its lovers and haters or else you would be sadly, nothing.
  • Great – as long as there is a way to make the service profitable for a niche market, it’s still a win.
  • Sure – but when is it hot forever? I can apply this comment to every single business out there but hey, we’re all still working every day right? Might as well work to earn all that we can so that when the market isn’t hot anymore we can feel safe from all that we have saved, earned from NOW until then.

So – if you have an idea, at least explore it. Talk to parties about it, do your research, and commit to a small investment that would tell you whether the market would respond to your proposed product/service. A small pilot would do, but it still takes time and effort. The point is, don’t stop at the first negative comments that are thrown at you, get the service out there and see what the market says to a tangible product/service.

If they hate it – move on. If they love it – keep at it. You might have hit something big!

Beware Overpromising

We have all heard it a millions times. Seriously.

One of the rules of marketing is to underpromise and overdeliver, and it is always amazing to me how some salespeople overpromise in order to close the deal or inflate the value of their “network”.

I have an acquaintance who would inflate details and overpromise what they can deliver in order to close deals or give the perception that they are more connected than they are.

For example, an angel investor in their words might become a venture capital investor. $10 million in capital might become $100 million with their framing.

This is setting yourself up for no repeat business, because you will always underdeliver, leaving customers disappointed and wanting to look elsewhere. It is people like these who give marketers and salespeople a bad name of overpromising.

If you are currently utilizing this practice, I urge you to rethink whether this will bring you sustainable wealth and revenue streams in the long-term; my speculation is that it will not.

Who’s Going to Stop YOU? 

The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who’s going to stop me.

There are many things that once seemed impossible until you did it. Yes – YOU did it. 

A 6-hour hike, a promotion, negotiating a raise, lose 10 pounds, start and grow a company…whatever it is, the only thing stopping you from getting it done is you. 

 

Loyalty Programs – Does Yours Actually Retain Customers? 

Look. We all know it’s tough to attract new customers, and it’s even harder to keep them. With the large amount of new brands popping up each year in every industry imaginable, it’s more important than ever to maintain customer relations.

  
Who does a great job to keep wallets open? Hudson’s Bay. 

  • Daily contact through email notifying customers of the latest deals. 
  • Daily deals with steep discounts like 50%-70% off an exclusive item. 
  • Direct mailers with exclusive deals for VIPs.
  • Money spent in store collects points that can be used as cash to purchase additional items in store. Just keep shopping!

What happens when you take these steps? 

  1. Customers receive news regarding in-store promotions and exclusive deals through multiple channels – email, direct mail, social media. 
  2. The deals are real. We’ve all been there, the fake sales. A large SALE sign decorates the storefront, but when you go in it’s the last rack at the very back that’s on sale and each item is only $5 off the original price of $90. At Hudson’s Bay you actually get the 50% off and the additional 30%. Crazy but real.
  3. What? The money I spent here earns 4x points and I can redeem them to use as cash in store towards that new Kate Spade bag I really want? Fantastic. 

Who could use some improvment? Sephora. 

  
Though Sephora also follows the key points of keeping multiple communication channels open, offering gifts/free samples in exchange for points collected, they could use some help in event planning. 

As part of the Sephora customer loyalty program they offer exclusive events to what they call VIB (Beauty Insider) and VIB Rouge members.

Though VIB members spend over $1000 per year in stores and online, exclusive events tailored to these VIB Rouge members often hit “capacity”. So if these VIPs are slow to RSVP they actually don’t get to enjoy the benefits as promised. 

As experienced event planners, our suggestion to Sephora to improve their customer loyalty program would be to plan ahead. If you know there are 500 VIB Rouge members in your immediate store area, prepare for that amount of attendance and more. Setting an arbitrary capacity and turning away your VIPs for events that are supposed to be exclusive to them is bad business. It shows the customer how it’s more important to make it convenient for your staff to organize the event than to ensure all your loyal customers stay happy. 

The problem is resolved quite easily. Too many members in the area? Host the event for 2 days to ensure they can all attend. Not enough VIPs to justify the cost of extending your store hours for both days and paying extra for additional staff? First, let me call BS on that because your customers will come to spend way more money than the cost of having your staff there for extended hours. Second, you can just start the event earlier or end later to accommodate more attendees. 

This is just laziness on the brand’s part. So what happens when every year they accumulate more VIPs? More VIPs will be turned away from these exclusive events that were meant as a benefit for them. How counter intuitive. It’s a problem they should address if they want to keep growing their customers’ spending with their stores. 

So ask yourself. Is your customer loyalty program actually keeping customers? Does every component of the program show the customer that they are valued? Do you deliver on your stated membership benefits? 

What Happens When Your Company is Fueled by Sheer Laziness

A lot of times as your company grows, it’s impossible to micro manage and see what happens at every branch of your company, and the bigger the company gets, the majority of them move slower.

Even more unfortunate is the layer of staff who try to get by without doing much; even worse is when that energy and experience is passed on and delivered to your end customers.

Case in point: I am traveling back from Brussels to Vancouver via Montreal. The connection time is tight with a one-hour window. During this one hour connection time we have to pick up our checked luggage, clear customs, and go through security again in Montreal to board our domestic flight.

Concerned that we would not catch our connection, I asked the counter staff at Air Canada (it is a miracle they are still operating as they seem to be in the business of coordinating delays rather than flights) whether they could assist by switching us to the next flight out of Montreal to Vancouver as I am 99% sure we won’t make the connection. At this point our flight leaving Brussels had already been delayed by close to an hour.

My conversation with the staff:
“Will we be able to make the connection and if not can you switch us to the next flight?”
[converses with each other in French]
“We think you may have to hurry but it should be OK.”
“Ummm..Ok.”

Needless to say as our plane touched down in Montreal, it was the same time our flight to Vancouver departed. We then had to make an extra visit to the counter to get arranged on the next flight which meant an additional 4 hours of lost productivity.

Luckily for me I am able to work somewhat remotely, but how about for others who actually depend on airlines to be “on time”? In an industry plagued by delays and cancellations, it has become the norm for travellers to expect the worse.

The staff in Brussels could have done something for us instead of acting out of sheer laziness and passing the responsibility onto their colleagues in Montreal.

Little details such as this translates into poor customer experience and the culture of procrastination permeates throughout the organization. So far it’s evident Air Canada suffers from this “disease”.

The takeaway is to manage your company’s culture as it grows to avoid the slow-moving, lazy tendency of a corporate giant. I will close with a quote on the topic:

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Yesterday You Said Tomorrow.

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We have all done it. Procrastinate. Yesterday you said tomorrow. Tomorrow you will say the day after. Why do you procrastinate? Because you are afraid of failing? Or maybe even… afraid of succeeding?

Whatever it is, own it. If you don’t do it. Somebody else will.

It’s Your Attitude That’s The Problem

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We have all encountered those people who are debbie-downers and to succeed in life we need to surround ourselves with positive energy. It’s important to do a self-check as well to see what type of energy you are bringing into your workplace and/or personal life. Needless to say, we all prefer working with positive, energetic people so wouldn’t you want to be one of them?

I recently encountered an individual that had the skills, but their attitude was negative when faced with (even) small issues throughout the project. My brain made the obvious conclusion that I should avoid working with this individual again as it dampens my own energy for the project. The problem wasn’t the problem, it was the person’s attitude towards the problem that’s the problem – and clearly they didn’t understand their attitude just cost them future contracts.

Do a reality check on your own attitude now before it hinders your work or personal progress!