Why Business Owners Should Watch the #XMass Jammies Video

By now you have probably heard of the Holderness family and if not we suggest you Google them after reading this post. They are the creators (and stars) of the now famous #Xmass Jammies video and founders of The Green Room, a digital marketing company located in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The #Xmass Jammies  video is a holiday sensation, putting a new spin on an old idea. Much like Shutterfly did for (or to) the traditional photo album (read this article on Shutterfly’s innovative approach), the Holderness family has done to the traditional holiday card, holiday family photo card and the even more detailed ‘year-in-review’ letter.

In 3:38 minutes of time, they sing and dance their way through an engaging review of their accomplishments as a family in 2013. They also manage to promote their digital marketing services in a tasteful and engaging manner while creating an unforgettable product. But above all else here are five reasons why our team loved the #Xmass Jammies video and why we believe other companies should adopt a similar approach to their marketing.

They Tell a Story

The rise of social media provides the best opportunity for companies to take a fresh look at how they market their brands. New platforms emerge each and every day while the big ones (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) still provide ample opportunities for companies to get their messages out and logos in front of millions.  These platforms also provide an opportunity for individuals and companies alike to become storytellers and according to a recent Forbes article, this is the here and now of marketing.

Demonstrate Their Expertise

Team Holderness did a wonderful job telling their story through video which, oh by the way, just-so-happens to be what they do for a living. While not everyone will be able to tell their story through their product offering, demonstrating an expertise in a creative way (hosting a seminar at an unusual event and recording it) not only demonstrates an ability to think outside-the-box, it also demonstrates a willingness to be different and to reach people through different methods.

Get Rid of the Fear

Just how many husband and wife duos would actually rap their way through a video in their jammies for the entire world to see?  We’ll bet that not too many would be that comfortable. However, there’s an authenticity to the Holderness video that pulls the viewer in, as if they can totally relate with what they’re saying. This has more to do with their ability to overcome the fear of being authentic in the eyes of their peers, than it does in their ability to create a video. Any company can hire a marketing firm to record a video but it is up to the company and their employees to figure out how to promote the business and its culture through an authentic story.

As today’s marketplace continues to evolve so must our efforts to reach our consumers. Experimentation, getting personal, shedding fear and being bold in our efforts are fast becoming today’s norms so if your run a business don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.

 

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Three Tips When Speaking in Public

Today I received an email from my mom informing me that she was giving a speech today in Princeton, New Jersey. Her email got me thinking about public speaking, something I enjoy doing, and what I try to focus on when speaking in front of an audience. Here are three:

1. Speak slowly – Your nerves may drive you to speak fast but try to keep them in check. Normally if you speak fast people will tune you out and by speaking slowly you will calm yourself down.

2. You are the expert – no matter how nervous you are the people in the audience respect you for actually getting up there and doing what you’re doing. Public speaking ranks second as everybody’s worst fear; deat is first. Trust yourself that what you say matters and that your knowledge and experience is relevant.

3. Engage the audience – chances are if you are up there then you are a people person. Don’t put that talent on the shelf. Engage your audience.

Utilizing New Channels to Create Unforgettable Experiences

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Dinner’s on Joe.
Illustrated by H.P.Riggs, JR.

In today’s ever changing environment it is important for companies to separate themselves from their competition by creating unforgettable experiences for members of their community (customers, vendors, friends, etc.).  The Disney empire was built on creating “wow” moments and every company strives to do the same. Wow’s are what keeps them coming back and are the cornerstone of customer loyalty. This month, while working with a local insurance agency, we came up with a unique “wow” moment for his company that we believe we should share.

The agent, we’ll call him Joe, works for a large and reputable insurance company. His agency, franchise of sorts, is located in the suburbs of Philadelphia on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River and his target market are the more than 20,000 residents residing in the three towns close to his office.

His agency is relatively new so Joe and his three employees continually seek unique ways to separate his firm from his competitors. We meet monthly to discuss his approach and to brainstorm on how he can improve his business without breaking the bank. Among the many ideas we discussed the following stood out as the most creative.

During our conversation Joe mentioned that he wanted to figure out how to work more closely with a local and very popular cheesesteak / pizza shop in order to gain exposure. The shop is located within walking distance of his agency and the owners recently gave Joe their business. Up until this point he has considered trying the traditional tactics including the ever so  popular “place your card in the bowl and win a lunch” contest. But today, a new idea emerged.

From now through the end of summer Joe will sponsor two pizzas per weekend to be delivered to anonymous customers within his target area. He will pre-pay the pizza shop and allow them to randomly select which customers (delivery only) will receive the surprise pie. Here’s how it will work and why it is a great idea.

Customer A calls on a friday night for a pizza to be delivered to his/her home. When the food arrives the driver simply tells the customer that the pizza is complementary of Joe, a local local insurance agent, who wants to build his reputation throughout the community. A pre-printed “thank you” card will be placed on the top of the box inviting the recipient to “thank Joe” on his company’s Facebook page and telling them to enjoy their meal. A simple yet powerful gesture.

Here’s why it will work.

  •  People love surprises, especially ones that save them money.
  • Eating is intimate and so is insurance. A natural yet subtle connection.
  • It screams community. Isn’t that what it’s all about.
  • The pizza shop also looks good so they will begin to sing his praises.
  • If he can successfully encourage people to talk about it online and thank him on his Facebook page then he will begin to reach people in those places every company wants to be.
  • It’s out-of-the-box, inexpensive, emotional, an experience, and fun. In other words, a homerun.
  • It’s nice.
  • It employees a new channel in the B2C relationship. Engaging the pizza shop to creates a new and unexpected carrier (literally) of his message.

There are few details to be worked out, including debriefing the staff at the pizza shop so they are clear in their message and making sure we get the responses we need, but nothing too challenging. The best part about it is the cost – we estimate an annual investment of $1,200 – $1,500.

It will be interesting to see how this unfolds and we will certainly keep you posted.

Clarity is Power

Tonight I watched my first Anthony Robbins presentation. It appeared at the top of one of my feeds and the title struck me as something that would be worth checking out, if only for a minute.

His message is good but the part I enjoyed most begins at around the fifth minute where he discusses the importance of clarity. Simply put, being clear about goals (both personal and professional) and the power that comes with clarity, can change your life.

Here’s hoping that we find clarity and work hard toward our goals.

A Key to Customer Service is Keeping Your Promise

This evening our team participated in a group exercise about how we can improve customer service. We discussed the following four characteristics associated with delivering exceptional customer service: keeping promises, active listening, attitude and the power of persuasion.

Although each area drew an equal amount of participation it was the discussion around keeping promises that interested me most.  I discovered three basic elements that every person in sales should know – (1) As a member of the company, you are the expert and the curator of the customer experience (2) that the most important thing any member of any company can do is to deliver proper expectations (3) and that every effort should be made to keep any promise made to the customer.

In order to drive home the point of keeping the promise to the customer we used the following clip from a Seinfeld episode which proved to be a great way to convey the message.

Although obvious when thinking about it, keeping the promises made to your customer will differentiate your company from the rest.

Culture and the Importance of “Wow” Withinin Your Company

Many companies are beginning to realize the power and benefit of developing a “wow” campaign within the culture of the organization. These campaigns are designed to inspire teams, develop a positive culture within (and outside of) the organization, and create an unforgettable experience for team members, clients (customers) and partners (vendors).

Lately, our executive team read The Value in Wowing Your Customers , in the Harvard Business Review. As a result of discussions around this article we decided it was time to elevate our commitment to developing our “wow” culture. I was asked to develop a brief overview of this phenomenon and here are two things I discovered.

Developing a “wow” moment for a customer can create a community of committed customers and ambassadors of your brand.

While putting together my research for our team I stumbled across a thread on Facebook (very timely) by a friend who’s husband was recently deployed to Iraq. He’s in the Navy and will serve a one-year term. Here’s what she posted:

A local company heard from one of my neighbors that [my husband] was deployed this year. Within a few hours, I had offers from them to do all of the lawn fertilization for the year, spring clean-up, mulching, and they also plan to mow the lawn until [he] gets back. They’ve done great work for us in the past, but this just goes above and beyond my wildest dreams.

Within a few hours she had several “likes” and then the comments began to emerge including:

– Their e-mails seriously brought tears to my eyes…what a relief to have those things off my master “to do” list during the upcoming months. They will have our support & business for years to come.

Walt got the chills when I just told him. He thinks that is so cool. He is gonna pass along their name to guys he plays hockey with that lives down that way.

The story was eventually covered by the local news, which happens to be a major market, and her post received a total of 77 “likes” and 16 comments. Not bad exposure for a local landscaping company that thought about their customer and inserted themselves as a solution to her challenge. My guess is that she will be a customer for life.

“Wow” moments also happen within the workplace and can transform the way staff feels about the company and its brand.

At the Holcomb Bus Company, one of the owners became concerned f his foreman when left a meeting to take a call from his mother. Upon returning to the meeting the team learned that the foreman’s mother needed to replace a portion of her sidewalk or face citation by the municipality. She received a quote from a local company but it exceeded her budget and she didn’t know what to do.

Immediately following the meeting the owner, who is also involved in the construction business, called his “concrete guy” and sent him to the house to fix the sidewalk. Needless to say the foreman and his mother were forever grateful for this act and I got the sense that the owner also felt pretty good about being able to help.

In both examples there was a financial investment on the part of each company. However, one can easily surmise that the investments have paid huge dividends for each company, and not necessarily to the bottom line.

The following presentation was delivered for the presentation noted above and touches on some of the topics discussed here.

Wow

View more PowerPoint from brianjohnriggs

The hope is that more and more companies will develop “wow” campaigns and that this movement becomes contagious because in the end everyone is happy and everyone wins. If consumers are talking about your brand over breakfast (or on Facebook) then your company will succeed, your staff will be happy and the world will be a better place.

Additional Resources:

From How to Wow – http://www.successwithcrm.com/blog/bid/53427/From-How-to-WOW-Create-a-Culture-of-Buzz

Creating a Wow Culture at Work – http://www.thehumanracehorses.com/2009/07/15/creating-a-wow-culture-at-work/

Run Your Own Race

Image Courtesy of Time.com

Last week I wrote  Creative (and other) Problems, a look at the point at which we become paralyzed in our  own work, often unable to move forward due to a lack of inspiration, vision, creativity or whatever other distraction comes up. In many ways it’s like “writers block” for the everyday professional. Over the past several days I couldn’t help but think of a comment on that post by left by Mike Dwyer who said “don’t stress about it and your natural creativity won’t fail you!”

Fast forward one week. In the midst of the high winds and driving rain brought on by Hurricane Irene, I  watched Secretariat, the Disney movie about Kentucky’s Triple Crown winner of the early 1970’s. In the movie the phrase “run your own race” pops up  frequently and is used as a connector throughout the film. At one point Penny Tweedy, the owner of the horse, used it to try to convince her husband and brother that her decision to leverage everything they had on the future of the horse (described here in “drew’s marketing minute); and again, perhaps most dramatically, when she’s talking one-on-one with  Secretariat (the horse) shortly before an important race.  It didn’t take long before I “got it” and when I did it resonated loudly with me.  This is why.

Rules and Distraction
In our professional and personal lives  rules and distractions play prominent roles in defining how we spend our hours.  At times we are forced to address projects directly in front of us, you know,  the everyday tasks and responsibilities that we need to accomplish just to stay afloat.  Then enter the rules which govern our behavior, those set about by home, work, culture, routine, our laziness to…well,  run our own race.

Too often we forget that what got us where we are today is a belief in our own abilities but perhaps more importantly how those abilities can carry us forward. When we’re empowered to follow our “natural instincts,”  then we quickly realize we have enough drive to execute our goals, to embrace own success, and to run our own race.