6

Editor’s note: The following article was published in the June 2015 issue of Out N’ About magazine. June 26 is National Take Your Dog to Work Day. We set out to find local dog owners who take their dogs to work on a regular basis. Here’s the “tale” of one such pup.

Jake as a puppy

Jake as a puppy

Is taking a pet to work more likely found in Hollywood Hills than the Blue Ridge Mountains? Actually, we found plenty of four legged friends making their way into the hearts and offices of workers right here in Northeast Tennessee.

One such pet is Jake, a 6 ½ year old, 80 pound Golden Retriever with a soft, well-groomed coat. Jake is the self-appointed doorman and greeter for Stowaway Storage on Browns Mill Road in North Johnson City. As this writer entered, Jake approached carrying a soft, red child’s toy in his mouth and wagging his tail. By all appearances he is both welcoming committee and chief public relations officer.

“From the very beginning when my youngest son pushed me to get another puppy (after the family’s previous Golden passed away), I said, ‘OK he has to learn to ride in the car, he has to learn to jump in and out of the car, and he has to go to work with me every day,’” said Jake’s owner and person, Barbara Allen. “I picked him up on a Monday and he was just about 10-12 pounds. Tuesday morning at 8 AM he was in the office and Friday of that week he shot a TV commercial for the Dogwood and Cattails Ball.” Jake has been the mascot for Stowaway ever since.

“There are a lot of people who want to do business with somebody that is a dog lover,” says Allen. “Some people bring their kids and time their visit to be sure that Jake’s here.”

Barbara and Jake the puppy

Barbara and Jake the puppy

Allen says Jake considers his co-workers an extension of his family and when the tenant, who lives in an on-promise apartment, stops home for lunch, Jake believes it’s his lunch break too. “Jake rushes over to greet him and keep him company through lunch and then the tenant leaves and Jake comes back to work,” says Allen. Jake knows the UPS and FedEx truck drivers and is excited to see them because they are regular visitors at Stowaway. (Note: The well-mannered Jake does not bark at these uniformed guests.)

Allen says that taking a canine to work involves a lot of prior planning. “You always have to be thinking ahead. You can’t run errands after work and you have to adjust your timing,” she says. Thankfully, Jake feels so at home at Stowaway that he is completely at ease when Allen says “I’ll be back,” during work hours.

“He is featured in all our advertising and believe it or not, he is responsible for lots of rentals,” adds Charles Allen. “Although Barbara didn’t take him to work for that reason, it (taking a dog to work) is probably one of the better marketing moves we have made.”

Now age 6 1/2, Jake guards the front door before taking his daily nap.

Now age 6 1/2, Jake guards the front door before taking his daily nap.

Just like a small child, Jake’s regular nap time rolls around each afternoon between 3 and 5 pm. That’s when people know to step over the sleeping pooch who’s generally sprawled out in front of the door. His rest routine; look outside for a few minutes and then nod off to doggie dreamland.

“Dogs have to be at the right place at the right time and Jake’s perfect for here because he gets to interact with lots of different people,” says Barbara Allen.

Mary Ellen Miller writes, walks and works with her dog Lucky, a nearly five year old Jack Russell Terrier mix. Do you have any working dog stories to share with us?

Continue Reading

0

“People don’t want to buy a quarter inch drill they want a quarter inch hole.”  Professor Theodore Levitt

SnickersTake a healthy dose of sociology, psychology and marketing, mix them liberally and serve up a marketing presentation to the Northeast Tennessee ADFED.  That’s exactly what Bite Interactive’s Chief Technology Officer, Brant DeBow, did recently in talking about his company’s “Jobs to be Done Theory.” He used the professor’s quote above to introduce the concept of discovering what consumers really want. Focus groups are not always the answer. Neither is blanket targeting of demographics. Instead his team uses a system of in-depth interviews to determine the functional, social and emotional reasons for purchasing a product. “When you purchase a product you change your behavior,” he says.

“People are bad at knowing the future,” he said. “But they are good at telling you what’s going on now and about the past,” he said. “Correlation is not causation.” His example was the Motorola 2007 Razor phone. SMS was barely on the scene and that slim, little phone did its job as a telephone extremely well. Who would want something bulky with a large screen back then? (Little could they imagine the iPhone!)

Netflix vs. Blockbuster was another example. Blockbuster mowed down the Mom and Pop video stores offering a better in-store experience. Netflix however offered a completely different model; what the customer really wanted — entertainment in his/her own home.

DeBow said four forces are involved in purchase decision making: push, pull, anxiety and habit.  The first two move us toward the new product and the second two keep us maintaining the status quo.

4Forces

DeBow’s team launched a clever campaign for Snickers after determining that Snickers, unlike Milky Way, was used to curb hunger. They deliberately mis-spelled words related to Snickers in their online ad campaign and then purchased associated mis-spelled keywords, attempting to gain the hungry and tired 3 PM-need-a-candy-bar crowd. “Snickers is now the most successful candy bar as a result of the Jobs to be Done reorganization of the brand,” said DeBow. “Who do you compete with? For Snickers it was hunger, so it was actually other snack foods. It was not Milky Way, as they originally thought, because Milky Way was perceived as a guilty pleasure, a reward and something people didn’t want to share.”

What examples have you experienced where a company has completely met your needs as a consumer? When did someone serve you the “quarter inch hole?” instead of making you buy the “quarter inch drill”? Please comment below.

Continue Reading

6

The following is a guest blog post by Curt Henry, an executive coach and friend who’s supported me in my business since I started MarketingMel over five years ago.

As business owners, we often fall into the trap of doing tasks ourselves rather than delegating to our team. What I hear most often from my clients is “I can do it faster myself” or “no one can do it as well as I can.” Though perhaps both may be true, you are missing an opportunity to grow your business and empower your team members.

CurtHenryReview the pie chart above which shows an average work week for a sample business owner or manager. Now fill in your own information. Most owners for example would be working much more than the 54 hour work week shown. If this is your life today what would it look like if you had a 20% increase in sales? What would that do to your pie chart of activities? You may not have to increase all items in proportion to the increase in sales but let’s say you go from 54 to 60 hours.(less than a 20% increase)

Add hours to our pie chart. (OK, but how long can you keep this up?)We really have three choices when faced with the enviable increase in our business:

  1. Don’t add hours but continue to “do it” ourselves. This means we will short change our customers, employees or others. (Also not a good idea.)
  2. Take a section of your pie chart and give it to someone else. (Put it into their pie chart of responsibilities.)

This really gets back to the question from Mr. Stanley’s wife but which I will rephrase;

As you increase your business what will you NOT do?

The business will have to do more; more invoicing, more shipping/delivering, more lots of things. But, what will you now delegate to others? At what point in the growth of the business will you recognize the need to get help from the folks you hired to provide services?

Consider the impact of rebalancing your role in the business. Planning or working “on” vs. “in” the business will multiply how quickly the business expands and improves. Sean Covey in his book The Four Disciplines of Execution talks about the conflict between the “whirlwind” and the “Wildly Important Goals (WIGs)”. He defines the whirlwind as those many urgent activities that demand our immediate attention. All things being equal, the whirlwind will win against the goals every time. As the business owner, we need to maintain our focus on the goals which move the business to new and higher levels or we stagnate. Even worse, if we are so focused on the immediate we may be passed by our competition and end up losing market share or profit potential. (More on goal setting and execution in a future BSF Update.)

I was the Vice President and General Manager for a manufacturing firm. While understanding the need to delegate, I always tried to make myself available for the workers on the production floor. My willingness to “get my hands dirty” by getting in and helping them made them feel more important. It was not that I was doing their job, but rather that I was willing to do what was needed to help them.

You may be able to do whatever “it” is faster and better than team members now. However, with a little training, the team may be able to do it just as well and allow you to focus on expanding the business or even getting to take a day off with the family every now and then. Do you remember back when you were able to take a vacation and really enjoy it?

Curt Henry Curt Henry is a seasoned business executive with seven years general management       experience and over 20 years in domestic and international marketing and sales. In 2000, Curt was chosen to lead the turnaround of a local manufacturing company with struggling product lines. Over the next six years, Curt and his team increased revenues from $9.3 to $16.2 million, improved both profit margins and cashflow significantly, and increased both productivity and product quality. Curt’s leadership resulted in improved employee morale and a significant reduction in personnel turnover.

 

Continue Reading

14
MarketingMel talks with Carl and Bob on WJCW's Thinking Out Loud

MarketingMel talks with Carl and Bob on WJCW’s Thinking Out Loud

What are some examples of customer service you’ve seen in connection with social media that have worked well and worked effectively? That’s one of the topics we address on this  WJCW AM910 podcast of “Thinking Out Loud” with Carl and Bob (normally Carl N’ Dave but Dave was on vacation.)

I share a story of twitter being used to effectively manage customer service and a story of Facebook being used effectively on a political campaign.

Dave mentions Referral Key connecting him with potential voice talent work. We also discuss my “Three Ways to be a Shoo-in in Business and Politics.”

Enjoy this 12 minute podcast and please share with us some of your favorite customer service via social media stories.

Continue Reading