I’ve spent the better part of the past 30 years (as well as the worse part) in sales and marketing. One thing that has always impressed me in perusing the web sites of the industry leaders is how I have absolutely no idea what they actually do. Smart marketers learned a long time ago that when it comes to beating the competition, you don’t have to build a better mousetrap. You just have to sound like you build a better mouse. trap. That starts with the words you use to describe what your mousetrap does.
No industry has mastered this technique more than high tech. Ever heard of a little company called Computer Associates? Here’s what they do, in their own words: “CA Technologies provides robust management solutions utilizing closed loop orchestration of provisioning and configuration across physical and virtual resources.” It’s just that simple.
Or how about the 800-pound gorilla in the world of routers, switches and network systems, our buddies over at Cisco Systems. I wonder what they do. Here’s a description any seven year-old (with a graduate degree in Linux computer programming) could understand: “Cisco’s Borderless Network Architecture is implemented as a five-phase plan that moves from baseline services to advanced policy management and integration that ultimately delivers the borderless experience for users.”
If there’s one thing nearly every American can agree on it’s that having aerial surveillance cameras capable of eavesdropping on our every move from outer space is a wonderful thing. Oh, sure, sometimes surveillance cameras can be used for evil, like the time they caught me doing 45 in a 35 mph zone. But video technology can also be used for good – say, to observe remotely whether employees are wasting time at work playing video games, when they should be wasting time pretending to make sales calls.
That at least appears to be the thinking behind a new, state-of-the art mobile video robot called the Ava 500, a name most experts consider a far better selection than the original idea: the Self-Navigational Operations Observational Prototype (SNOOP for short). The Ava 500 is the world’s “first self-driving business collaboration robot,” according to the manufacturer’s cheery marketing brochure. Now, business executives can collaborate with employees without leaving their corner office, using a mobile robot with a two-way video camera that lets them roam the halls or join in on team meetings remotely. Employees will love it.
Want to check in on your crew of illegal Mexican factory workers to see if they are keeping pace with their production quota of 1,500 sneakers per hour? No problem. With the press of a button, you can remotely walk along the assembly line floor to inspect the quality of their work, without leaving your yacht in the Caymans. Hey, looks like it’s already been ten minutes and Pedro’s still not back from his five-minute lunch break. Uh oh. Looks like Pedro’s got some ‘splaining to do.
Periodically in this column, I don my business consultant hat (a stylish Italian grey fedora) to share innovative business strategies to grow your business and improve your employees’ productivity. As a sought-after business process improvement expert and author of the popular business handbook, Stop Tasering Your Team – and 50 Other Strategies to Improve Employee Morale, I can help businesses prosper – if only they’d stop and listen to me for once.
I have frequently been approached by executives from Microsoft to Amazon.com to Ninja Ned’s Car Stereo & Hot Tub Emporium on South Aurora Avenue – all asking me the same question: How did you get past security? But as soon as they discover who I am, they are often surprised to learn about my out-of-the-box business strategies (usually as they are escorting me out-of-the-premises).
In this installment, I share the thought-provoking conclusions of a recent Dutch study published in the scholarly journal, Psychological Science. The study tested people’s decision-making ability when their bladders were full and found that people with full bladders tended to make better decisions and were better able to control and hold off making impulsive, costly decisions, leading to better judgment. (I swear I’m not making this up.) Other findings included that Dutch researchers appear to have way too much time on their hands.
It’s hard to believe I have been at this humor blog for more than 25 years. That may be in part because it’s actually been less than three. See what I just did? I made a joke. Didn’t find it funny? Join the club. That’s been the reaction so far from just about every newspaper, magazine and online news site in response to my submissions of humor articles over the past year.
I have reached out to publications ranging from The Huffington Post to Field and Stream, and have pretty much received the same response: Who are you and how did you get my email address?
Over the past couple of years in this weekly humor blog, I have commented on everything from how to become a Tiger Mother parent to my fleeting friendship with an internet scammer; from my recent colonoscopy to my solution for the US debt crisis; from how the iPad compares to Jesus Christ to my exploration of why the state of Montana hates me. And there is one thing all of these brilliant pieces of satire have in common: NO PUBLICATION WANTS MY MATERIAL.
I’ve been collecting a list of reasons publications have given for rejecting my humor submissions. Below is just a sampling of some of the more common responses:
As a successful entrepreneur and highly sought-after business guru, I am constantly being asked by people trying to climb the latter of success “How can I ever become as successful as you?” Well the short answer, of course, is “You can’t. Don’t waste your time trying.” That said, there are still several things you can do to ignite your career, including offering to have sex with your company’s president or blackmailing the CFO with photos from last December’s Holiday Office party. But these strategies are best reserved for the experienced career climber. For someone with your more modest level of talent and ambition, how about we start with something a bit more basic, shall we?
One of the most important things every business professional can do to improve their chances of getting promoted is this: Awlays proffread yoru wrok.
How we communincate in righting can leaf lunglasting impassions about us. Weather its an emale massage, a business mammo or a for mall propostal, it is criticial to revue your work for accuratecy. By making egreekious grammer and spoiling misteaks, it can from in the mind of the reader a severally negative impersonation abort you. They may persleeve you too bee someone who is lazey, careles, disogranized or somewon who simply can’t finnish their
I can’t stress how pearamount it is to careflee skan your work for posse ball tie pose. Remember, how you communionate in rightwing may be the differents between getting a raze and getting fried. I could knot be moor serialous about this then I are.
In this tumultuous economy, America’s leading consumer brands have come up with a bold new strategy to replace sagging revenues: Filing multi-million dollar lawsuits for brand infringement.
Recently it was reported that America’s leading cereal manufacturer, Kellogg’s is suing a Californian non-profit organization, the Maya Archeology Initiative, claiming the nonprofit’s use of a toucan in its logo (left) too closely resembles Kellogg’s famous Fruit Loops cereal icon, Toucan Sam. Apparently Kellogg’s is trying to corner the market on both high-fructose breakfast cereals and cartoon toucan characters.
Kellogg’s is no stranger to filing lawsuits for brand infringement. In 1998, they sued Exxon over the oil company’s use of a tiger for a long-running ad campaign to “put a tiger in your tank.” Kellogg’s claimed that Exxon’s tiger bore too close a resemblance to their own famous icon, Tony the Tiger. Apparently, Kellogg’s is also trying to corner the market on cartoon tigers – perhaps with an eye to opening America’s first cartoon zoo.
As most of you know, over the past 25 years, I have been a highly sought-after lecturer / motivational speaker on business success strategies (gleaned largely from lessons I learned by making boneheaded business mistakes over the past 25 years). Every organization’s success is built on (brutally beating down) the backs of its frontline employees.
Business experts like myself – and even experts not like myself – have long known that employee recognition programs are a powerful way to reward your employees for their efforts. These programs build loyalty and reduce turnover, while at the same time improving systems, reducing waste, increasing customer satisfaction levels and keeping trophy companies in business.
Thanks to innovative employee recognition programs, every year motivated employees find creative ways to eliminate redundancies, cut costs, improve efficiencies, and leapfrog over obnoxious rival suck-ups competing with you for that next promotion.
There are a variety of highly effective employee recognition incentives, from nifty restaurant gift certificates to prime location parking spaces to those popular Employee of the Month plaques in the lobby that list the name of the same employee, Lin Chong (left), every month from January 2003 through October 2010 except for two months in 2008 when she was briefly out for chemotherapy for a life-threatening illness. In each case, these highly motivating incentives cost their employer roughly the cost of one cartridge of black inkjet printer toner.
Last week, we talked about how to handle situations when your customers complain about a product defect, such as, “How come when I use your curling iron, it causes my hair to evaporate?” Of course, the best policy is to blame the problem on the customer or someone else – when in doubt blame it on al Qaeda terrorists … or Congress. You can read last week’s brilliant business advice here.
When all else fails you may have no choice but to eat crow and admit some eensy weensy tiny bit of responsibility for the problem, such as “in rare cases, some inconclusive studies have suggested that there could be a remote chance – and by remote we mean almost less than 50% – that our artificial sweetener could cause an eensy weensy tiny bit of permanent blindness and complete hearing loss in Hispanics and Pacific Islanders under the age of 70.”
In these situations, you need to craft a very carefully worded, corporate earnest and sincere apology letter – one that comes from the heart, with sincerity and earnestness – preferably ghostwritten by a professional apology letter writer in a high-priced Manhattan PR firm, who knows just the right caring words to say in order to avoid a costly class action lawsuit.
When crafting your company’s sincere official apology letter to customers, make sure it contains all of the following six elements:
Corporations do a lot of things well, but one thing that some of them could use a little help with is how to say I’m sorry when they screw up. Historically, like George Bush, most companies are not very good at saying “I’m sorry. I screwed up.” Recently some very familiar names have been getting a lot of practice in the fine art of the apology: Toyota, BP, Goldman Sachs, Apple Computers, anyone who has ever held public office in the state of Louisiana, and for my friends in Seattle who follow baseball, the 2010 Seattle Mariners. You see, corporations aren’t perfect. They’re human, just like you and me (at least according to the U.S. Supreme Court).
As most of you know by now, I am an award-winning business expert. (And by award-winning, I’m referring to the time I won a white ribbon – fourth place – in my tenth grade business project for my idea of starting a company that sold over-priced coffee with fancy names in stores with dim lighting, smooth jazz and wireless Internet. Curse you, Howard Shultz.) I want to help those entrepreneurs who are planning to make a bone-headed business decision by offering you my expert counsel on the steps required to effectively apologize for your future mistakes.
Corporations don’t intentionally set out to anger and alienate their customers – unless they’re a healthcare insurance provider, that is. Usually it’s just that a good idea gets implemented poorly. Or some unintended consequences occur which nobody in the marketing department could have possibly anticipated. Like when that cereal company – whose name will be withheld so they won’t sue me – decided to do a promotion with a national hardware chain – whose name will be withheld so they sue me either – and they decided it would be a neat idea to include a packet of one-inch nails in every box of say, Fruit Loops cereal. Who knew that the folks in production would forget to actually put the nails in a pouch to keep them from separate from the actual cereal contents?
Introductory Note from Tim Jones:
Below is the conclusion of our two-part series of Superstar Strategies for Super Sales Success, from the renowned Sales Coach to the Stars, Biff Biven, motivational speaker and author of the not quite best-selling sales primer Everything I learned about Sales I learned in Prison. In Part two, Biff reveals the remainder of his A to Z Secrets for Sales Superstardom, starting with the letter P.
If you missed last week’s Part One, or you just need a refresher on the letters of the alphabet, you can read it here.
Now back to the Biff Biven’s guest post, Part Two.
Welcome back, evurbahdy. I’ve saved my best sales tips for the second half of the alphabet. So let’s get ‘er started.