Category Archives: Common Sense

Say It

Say “sorry,” that is.

Magnosticism points out how Tweeter is handling their most recent bad news. I love it.

Sometimes saying, “sorry – we’ve screwed up” is the best marketing action you can take. Good luck to Tweeter.

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Here’s Feedback on Feedback

We often hear business gurus singing the praises of receiving feedback. How it leads to the best ideas. How it fosters the most profitable customer relations. How it makes for the best office environment.

I don’t deny any of that. But . . .

What’s not talked about enough is how to receive feedback, and when to respectfully ignore it.

Stories I’ve heard from other offices as well as my own experiences leads me to think that we all lean toward pleasing as many people as possible. Because of that, lots of feedback often leads to lots of confusion, frustration and distilling. Especially for workers not on the executive leve. Especially when executives are likely to try to please the masses just like everyone else.

But a glowing sign as to your level of expertise is your ability to diplomatically yet emphatically sift through feedback, marking the good, the bad and the insane. In your area of expertise, you are the expert. And while feedback is most important, you should have experiences, knowledge and instincts that should not be tossed aside. That’s what you’re paid to have. Don’t deny at – act on it.

Many of us crumble under a barrage of feedback. We let it cripple us, weaken us, even depress us. We stop thinking of ourselves as complex human beings who can systematically analyze all the feedback and then synthesize it together into the right decision. More times than not, we receive the feedback, find the common ground that will please everyone (or the common ground that won’t displease anyone) and we just go after it. Straight down the path of least resistance.

And it always produces mundane results that don’t really get anyone excited.

Then there’s the issue of having too many cooks in the kitchen. Unless you’re really, really, really good at leading a meeting, too many people almost always results in chaos and more confusion. And obviously lots of feedback. Lots of people wanting to throw their two cents in. Lots of people wanting to share opinions. Lots of people forgetting that, in most cases, they probably aren’t the target market, but you should go ahead and try to meat their wants, nonetheless.

If you’re not confident in or aware of your skills in the issue at hand, this avalanche of opinion will overwhelm you.

Finally, there’s customer feedback. The holy grail, right? The customer is always right. Unless, of course, they’re wrong.

Admittedly, giving your customers what they want is usually a good thing. But sometimes, you need to be the parent in the relationship, shielding your child (your customer) from consequences they simply cannot comprehend. Holding your ground when little Johnny wants to pet the pretty porcupine. Showing some tough love when Susie Customer demands you don’t discontinue a product, even though you can’t pay anyone else to buy it.

Feedback is a beautiful thing, but it is not the authority. It is always biased, always opinionated and very rarely objective. So knowing how to deal with it (and when to completely ignore it) becomes one of the most important attributes we can develop as marketers, as leaders, as spouses, as people.

You Can Run . . . .

Head in the sandSeth Godin has a great post here that speaks to our nature as business people (and humans) to stick our heads in the sand and hope that if we don’t bring it up, they won’t notice it.

Your customers will always, ALWAYS appreciate you being upfront. They will never, NEVER like finding out from someone other than you. So if you have bad news, don’t hide it. And if there’s something about your product that isn’t optimal (like lots of calories or poor gas mileage), definitely don’t hide it. Either fix it or accept it, but don’t hide it.

I mean, if you’re choosing to hide something about the product that you think is great, isn’t there something very wrong and confusing about that?

Weekend Reading, March 2 – March 4

Some cool articles and posts I dug this weekend:

  1. Nice post here at WebWorkerDaily on new ways to make money online. I thought the notes on Lulu.com were extremely interesting.
  2. Todd And points us to this really cool billboard ad.
  3. Michael has a great “Note from Boss to Employee.” First, this post is awesome. Second, some idiot decided to leave a real cocky comment under an anonymous name. I commented and expressed how I feel about that, so be sure to read it.
  4. Scott Burns, a Dallas Morning News columnist, had this to say about Home Depot in Sunday’s paper. Interesting to see how Home Depot has fallen from grace.


Treating the Who

Here’s a great post on how doctors seem to be following a new trend on upping their customer service. Go figure.

The more I work, the more I do marketing stuff, the more I interact with people, the more I buy stuff, the more I live, it becomes increasingly obvious that personal attention and great customer service is what makes the difference. It is what makes the brand, ultimately. More than the colors, the fonts, the products, the processes – it’s the people that make the company, and how they treat the people who are buying from them.

And now doctors get it, too.

7 Reasons Not to be Risky

Here are some, sadly, tried and true reasons to NOT take risks with your business (or life, for that matter). I hope you can sense the sarcasm:

  1. Doing something risky might offend someone. Lord knows, if you offend someone, you must be doing something wrong, right? Try to please everyone – that has always worked.
  2. Doing something risky might lead to failure. What business can afford failure? Don’t believe all the success stories you’ve heard about people who failed and failed and failed, and then finally did something that made people say “holy crap!” Do the sure thing, something another company did last year that worked. Copying others always works.
  3. Doing something risky might cost money. Especially if your budget is tight, now is no time to invest more money in marketing initiatives. Make cut-backs. Figure out the problems with your supply chain. Don’t spend anything on design. Put off those new e-commerce initiatives. It’s the penny-pinchers who, throughout history, have really made things happen, don’t you know? It always works.
  4. Doing something risky means change. Nobody likes change. Keep doing what you’ve been doing – just because it hasn’t worked yet doesn’t mean it won’t. Be loyal to the plan. See the strategy all the way through, even if it’s not working. Don’t ruffle the feathers. Let your customers stay comfortable and familiar with what you’re doing. That always works.
  5. Doing something risky might get me fired. Nobody wants to be fired. Fall in line. Let someone else make the calls, so if it goes wrong, they’ll take the blame. Get everything in writing. Get everything signed off. Lean on the timid side of moving forward. Cautious. Careful. Don’t cause a scene, and don’t speak too much of your mind. That always works.
  6. Doing something risky might require more work. Don’t put in the extra time. Put in your 40 hours, and move on. Settle for good enough. It’s usually all you need. If it can’t be done in an 8-hour workday, either you’re not organized, or it can be done. At least right now. Get done what you can, and take your time. That always works.
  7. Doing something risky might screw up the process. Processes are there for a reason. Let them dictate what you can and can’t do. Don’t even try to squeeze in a great, last-minute idea if it’s past the deadline. Make sure you’ve got all the right approvals before you do anything. “Risky” usually lacks process, and that’s just not good business. Stick to the process. That always works.

Sound like anything you’re interested in? Which reasons are missing?

Update 2.12 = Here’s a similar article from MarketingProfs that speaks to this in a completely different way.

Get Grumpy and Get Stuff Done

Higher Ground pointed me to this article, Grumpy workers are the best workers.

This is interesting, with lots of good talking points, but nothing substantial when it’s all said and done.  But it does prompt a few observations:

  1. “Happy people” are also often “Head in the Clouds” or “Head in the Sand” people. There is definitely some truth to those folks not getting anything done when it matters.
  2. Where you draw the line is between the people who do something about their work when they’re mad about it, and those that don’t. Lots of people complain – few people fix.
  3. Disgust is probably the best impetus of all. If there’s not at least potential to get pissed about something, you have to question your passion about it.

For the record, I am regularly guilty of all three above. So, I’ll try to get a little angrier, and we’ll see if we can’t make something happen.