A few weeks ago NPR did a weekend edition story on how Americans don’t fall for hype during a crisis.  The story highlighted that a President’s approval ratings can be greatly impacted by actual behavior – what exactly is being done to solve the crisis at hand NOT the message being spun by the handlers.  In particular, it delved into Obama’s approval ratings as he deals with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and the NY Times Square terrorism plot.

 This is NOT a new concept nor is it one solely owned by politicians.  It’s what evidence-based marketing is all about.  No one can argue the importance of a concrete, well-thought out positioning statement and subsequent messages to your key audience, but if your constituents can’t find the beef you’re dead in the water.

 You have to support the ‘spin’ or the messaging through substantiated actions.  No huge fluffy bun is going to hide a bad/ineffective product, service or behavior that falls short of its promise.  We want – no, we demand that claims (by companies, politicians, public figures) be supported by actions that we can measure.

Way back when – 1984 to be exact-, Wendy’s did just that with their iconic “Where’s the Beef” commercial.  They validated their ‘spin’ by letting us know that their one beef patty was bigger than McDonald’s and Burger King’s.  Measureable?  Tangible?  Absolutely.  Did any of us actually measure it?  Probably not.  But we BELIEVED it and got a fun message to proliferate to boot.

Don’t under-estimate the importance of the marriage between message and proof. If something exists but no one knows about it, does it matter? Or, can you just get by on telling people what you want them to believe? Each side of that equation is critical to the outcome. 

Clara Pellar, the elderly actress who famously uttered the gutteral roar “Where’s the Beef?”, has been gone a long time…. and not to pick on Obama – (because the article includes the likes of Bush and Carter as examples of the behavior-does-not-equal-the-message equation)…, but I think her ‘prescient-twitter-ready’ line is an invaluable and timeless reminder to us all.

Always a fanatical data collector – sometimes to the chagrin of others – I am a big believer in evidence.  What’s worse is that I expect consistency as well.  Ever in the pursuit of holding my MarketingSmack to those same standards – hoping my effort is graded on a curve.

Where is it?  Where is life’s Pause button? 

Maybe I should skip the blog writing this week.  I have no productive ‘insight’ to impart, no top 5 ways to improve or gain or establish better customer relationships, business practices, or social media strategy.

What I do have is one of those weeks where the gerbil wheel seems fast, furious and suffocating.  Then I see several status bars on Face Book in search of some elusive life pause button.  Clearly fellow gerbil wheel inhabitants cry for help.

What is it that is causing each year to seem shorter and shorter?  Why is it that Christmas turns into the summer beach trip turns into Thanksgiving before you have finished your last load of laundry?  Oh, wait…you NEVER finish the last load of laundry, do you?

Maybe it’s as simple as having school-aged children – maybe this feeling of time slippage is a curse for that particular demographic?  I know it feels incredibly wrong to be booking summer camp options during a snow day in February.  Somehow, ‘knowing’ how those three months are scheduled in the middle of winter makes it feel like it’s time to start the next school year.  Eeek.

At the risk of being accused of an existential fit, where are we all going so quickly?  In part, it feels like life has become one large check-list….  

I have no illusions that this post will be read by many – just the few MarketingSmack or Jack ‘loyalists’ and it’s probably better that way.  Those of you who do spend the five minutes reading my existential dribble words of wisdom are greatly appreciated.  Especially if you have a ‘stop-time’ watch available for purchase.

Those of you who follow my blog and/or my monthly articles on LinkingRaleighNC  know that I am a big, big fan of social media.  All types – I text, instant message, FaceBook, Tweet, LinkIn, blog, comment on blogs AND yes I do a fair amount of it in the horizontal position.  I am one of those that ‘checks in’ if I wake up in the middle of the night – often times finding like-minded insomniacs to IM with on Yahoo or chat with on FaceBook.  My Android gets picked up before even my glasses (a testament to being in my 40s) upon waking to see what happened during the night.

 So, one would think that this week’s AdAge article stating that 10% of the under 25 category will respond to a text during sex wouldn’t phase me.

 Well, I guess I found my line….or at least one of them.  And, it’s not dotted….it’s thick, bold and drawn out in Sharpie-black ink.

 This got me thinking.  When/where else do I believe social media is not welcome? 

 What follows are my pet peeves – an arbitrary list of additional situations or scenarios where I believe a big NO SOCIAL MEDIA sign needs to be posted.

  1. Providing customer service.  This is a big one for me.  Not too long ago I was trying to share my displeasure about a service at my gym – O2 Fitness and the ‘service provider’ continued texting.  I felt unheard, not cared for and angry. 
  2. Operating heavy machinery.  This warning is not just for over the counter medications.  It never fails, it’s the middle of the day and I am driving behind someone who appears drunk – weaving ever so slightly, running over the little white bumps that separate the lanes.  I speed up around to pass them and glance over to discover that they are definitely intoxicated – mesmerized by the little keyboard on their smart phone.
  3. At the dinner table.  So, is this one way too obvious?  If out at a restaurant with someone, you wouldn’t consider staring and gawking at everyone that walks by, right?  Well, then what makes it seem ok to engage in a conversation via text or to push out Twitter updates in-between mouthfuls?
  4. Post two martinis.  Since social media platforms and cell phones don’t come with breathalyzers (a feature that I think should be added to cameras as well) it is probably in our own best interest to stay away from them if inebriated.  In my opinion, no good can come from those posts and once out there they are very hard to take back.
  5. Angry.  It’s bad enough if we say something in anger to someone but when we take the time to have it permanently captured digitally and then give it viral wings, one has to question IQ.  Once you hit ‘send’ or ‘share’ you are committed – for better or worse.  Bite your lip, throw a plate, punch a wall….all ways to express yourself and preserve your reputation – albeit there may be some blood or broken bones involved.

I am sure there are many other situations where participating in social media is not in our best interest or rude to others.  I would love your thoughts and comments.  I invite you to help me build on the list.  If it is robust enough, I’ll re-post the summary.  Just so that I’m clear, I write MarketingSmack alone, sober and not while driving.

My last blog about the life of a ‘Connector’ prompted some great discussions amongst my LinkedIn groups and raised a good question/point.  Everyone seems to agree that it is more important to know the ‘right’ people rather than ‘a lot’ of people.  The mystery seems to lie in how do you go about identifying, meeting, developing and nurturing a networking relationship with them?

To quote a classic movie icon – “Life is a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.”

 

That being said, you can choose the drug store Whitman Sampler OR Swiss-made, The Ecstasy of Gold from DeLafée.  But, how do you even get to the point where the box in front of you is certainly filled with quality, unique, compelling – worth the calories – chocolate?

Ready for the answer? 

It’s not universal, some people can and do get around the natural order of things, but the reality is that for most it STARTS with the Whitman Sampler and evolves into Ecstasy. 

 I’ll be more specific – what follows here is my suggested path to the ‘gold’.

  1. Gather – At the beginning of your networking career you will be served well by meeting a lot of people.  And, this is by no means an easy feat.  When I say ‘meet’ I mean – schedule time, have coffee, ask questions – professional and personal. Get to know the person, make a point to keep in touch and add value.
  2. Research – LinkedIn is a fantastic tool by which to sample the goods.  You can tell a great deal about someone by their profile and better yet, by their recommendations should they have them.  If you’ve done #1 for a while and well, you’ll be lucky enough to know someone who knows the individual you are interested in and can get an introduction.
  3. Leverage – As you keep in touch with your growing network remind those that you find impressive that you are always open to meeting interesting and compelling people.  Never sell your services during these opportunities – you’ll have a higher likelihood of getting that coveted introduction.
  4. Reciprocate – You start to get requests – if you’ve done your groundwork, consistently and have added value along the way the phone will ring.  The word will get around that you are someone worth knowing – worth the investment. I firmly believe the greatest gift we give one another is our time – make it worthwhile; for both of you.

As you stumble-upon high quality people, they will in turn suggest others  – let’s face it, good people know good people.  Before you know it your network will resemble The Ecstasy box of chocolates where you know no matter which one you choose you’ll be certain of the quality.

Hoping this week’s MarketingSmack’s filling is rich and worthy of your time.  http://www.marketingsmack.wordpress.com

I was looking for a lost email yesterday when I stumbled upon an online introduction I made in August of 2006.  I chuckled while reading it – in it I state:

Given my conversations with each of you, I think the two of you would benefit from knowing one another.  Consider yourselves introduced.  Would love to hear how it turns out.”

Fast forward three and a half years and I find myself in the midst of re-branding their co-founded company, Innovalyst.

I wish I could say all my connections end up in such a lucrative way – both financially and personally – as my relationship with these two individuals has grown and flourished over the years.

But alas, being a “connector” as defined by Gladwell in his Tipping Point book has not always proved so.  Case in point, a couple of years back I had a client who provides a shipping software solution for 3PLs, shippers, brokers and carriers.  We had a great working relationship and to this day I can call on Geoff to be a reference on my behalf – or at least I hope so, after this blog.  Well, at some point I met someone over coffee who gave me a sixth-sense type feeling and within days of that coffee I sent one of my ‘Consider yourselves introduced’ emails to both of them.

Fast forward again – this time about a year or so and my coffee networking buddy became Geoff’s CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) and within his first week had the pleasure of firing me.  Ouch.  Not personal – but not fun.

I can’t stop connecting people – it would be like asking me to stop eating Oreo’s dunked in milk.  It doesn’t even seem to be a frontal lobe activity anymore – sometimes I just know two people need to meet.  The real question is can you monetize your gift or is it a loss leader – so to speak?

If Hugh and Paul had not met would there be an Innovalyst?  And, even though Les fired me and I have not subsequently seen revenue from Transite  – is it money in the karmic bank so to speak? 

Or as my friend Janet, reminded me just now on the phone – sometimes you’re the windshield; sometimes you’re the bug. 

Like a moth to a flame – my hopes are you will rush right out and get SMACKED, weekly.  www.marketingsmack.wordpress.com

As an aside: My friend Janet is the President of KJAS, parent company of  Ethical Advocate,  who also has developed a long-term business relationship via one of my connections.  See, I told you I can’t stop.

I am sure by now most of us have seen the new Nike commercial with Tiger Woods – 30 seconds of Tiger looking somewhat contrite into the camera while his deceased father’s words pipe down from somewhere – heaven? 

Earl’s voice reassuringly speaks to his son; “I want to find out what your thinking was….. I want to find out what your feelings are and did you learn anything”

I don’t know about everyone else but I keep waiting for Tiger to respond – “Yeah, I learned it sucks to get caught!” 

Aside from being tacky, I don’t believe the message – it’s not authentic.  Is this what big bucks with Wieden + Kennedy buys you?  Are they really trying to re-brand Tiger as someone who is sorry for being a philanderer and that somehow has “learned his lesson” and won’t do it again?  Please, do we look that stupid?

I have written about Tiger before – back in December when he posted his “I want privacy” plea on his website.  My contention then was that he would need to re-brand but that he didn’t get to do it in private.  I still believe Tiger needs re-branding.  But in my humble opinion he needs a NEW brand – I don’t want to be asked to believe that a double-digit mistress count was a tiny life hiccup and that he is restored to his family-man golf-deity status.

So, I can trash the new Nike creative ‘til the cows come home but what good is that if I don’t offer up a solution?  What brand would we believe?  I hearken back to a much more believable Nike re-branding of Charles Barkley, “I am not a role model”.  In thirty odd seconds Charles reminds us that he is paid to ‘wreak havoc’ on the basketball court NOT to raise our children.  I respect that brand– it’s authentic, sustainable and powerful.  Nicely done, W+K. 

And, while Nike hasn’t come knocking on my door for creative in the Tiger Woods’ re-branding mission, I will kindly offer up my idea, gratis: Tiger = golf and Nike sells golf balls, right?  So, why not take a fun ‘in your face, Tiger accepts who he is and many wish they could have the talent, fame, money and let’s face it, women he had’ approach.

I suggest to you and Nike, the following:

Maybe this is EXACTLY what keeps Nike from calling, who knows?  At least I get to share my absurd, ballsy thoughts in my MarketingSmack.  More Smack can be found on www.marketingsmack.wordpress.com or visit us at www.summitstrategypartners.com.

Note: This ad creation is a Jack Perez only special – neither approval nor endorsement was received from either Tiger Woods or Nike.  

I’ve been watching Nestle’s social media nightmare play out on FaceBook and Twitter over the last month.  For those of you who somehow have missed this – in a nutshell – Greenpeace Trojan-horsed Nestle’s FaceBook Fan page and slammed the company for its role in the illegal deforestation of rainforests and the killing of orangutans.  All in the name of bringing us more yummy Kit Kat bars.  This type of tree-hugging and criticism happens all the time – however the MAGNITUDE and VELOCITY now enabled by social media channels is unprecedented. 

 I have been keeping my fingers crossed that the powers that be within Nestle would hurry-up and realize that being defensive, dismissive, or arrogant wasn’t in their best interest.  I have used the early 80’s Tylenol Chicago death crisis as an example before and it applies yet again.  That said, Tylenol had much more control over the actual response and the delivery of it.  Nestle, not so much.  It was and is happening REAL TIME and very publicly.

 There are a variety of pieces written on how Nestle should have responded – how they should show-up now and how businesses need to be prepared for their eventual ‘turn’ so to speak – so I won’t go into those here.  What I do want to share is the notion that even if you DO respond in a timely fashion, with humility and an offer of restitution that sometimes the recipient just isn’t ready to hear it  – or isn’t willing – or is too hurt.  Sometimes you can’t undo the mistake, no matter how hard you try. And, sometimes you have to be patient and persistent about being transparent and ‘doing the right thing’.

A few days ago I recklessly made a somewhat ‘unfeeling’ comment on Twitter.  In hindsight, I am not sure what possessed me – I cavalierly took one person’s misfortune and used it as an example of how a new trend in location based services may have a huge downside.

Well, I received a direct message (DM) back letting me know that my comment was not appreciated.  I quickly posted a public apology taking full responsibility for my stupidity and making a reference to the fact that there are times when I behave like the back-end of a donkey.  I followed up with a private email – groveling a bit more and offering lunch as an olive branch. 

Two days of radio silence and I was beside myself.  I made a mistake and wanted to be forgiven immediately.  Life doesn’t work that way, does it?  Finally today, in the middle of writing this blog, the long-awaited DM accepting my apology beeped through.

The lesson I was reminded of – the lesson Nestle and others need to remember….is that avoiding making mistakes is impossible – not a viable option –  however, taking accountability for them and being genuine in our willingness to make things whole, is. At the end of the day – as seen from our collective trust in Tylenol, we have a grand capacity to forgive and regain faith.  So, my advice to Nestle and everyone else – whether their faux pas is being played out to millions of just a few – accept responsibility for your actions and figure out a way to make it right.  Oh, and most importantly accept the fact that it may be on someone else’s timeline.

Seeing if I can get through one day without a blunder – how much trouble can I get in by writing the Smack?  www.marketingsmack.wordpress.com or visit us at www.summitstrategypartners.com.

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