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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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.

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.

There are Two “C’s” in Success

Line outside Mack & Mancos

If you’ve ever been to the Ocean City Boardwalk on the New Jersey Shore (and no, not that “Jersey Shore”)then you’ve heard of Mack & Manco, the most famous pizza shop around. There is always a line to get in and the wait is always worth it.

This past Sunday our family made our annual early Spring trek to “the boards” to grab some quality time away from the madness and to have lunch at our favorite sea shore eatery. As I sat and waited for our large pie to be delivered I began to wonder why this place, out of the hundreds along the Jersey coast, remained so popular and successful. Was it the pizza? Sure, but why this particular pizza shop. The two things that stood out to me were clarity and consistency.

Clarity: This is the one place where you won’t be confused by what’s in front of you. On the table there will be a napkin dispenser, crushed red peppers, salt, pepper and garlic powder. The menu, which is on the wall, contains two things – five or so pizzas and drinks. That’s it. No appetizers, desserts, coffee, spaghetti, or anything to complicate the decision making process. It’s that clear.

Consistency: The pizza is made the same way every time and its delicious. Beyond the great pizza there are other consistencies that lead to the success and unforgettable experience at Mack and Manco’s (and this goes for each one of their many locations.)

There is always a line to either grab a table or take it home. Always. You will always be sat in the order you arrive. You can always count on the entire staff being dressed in white. White shoes, white pants, and white shirts.

The process is also consistent: they drop straws in front of each person at the table and take your drink order first. Once everyone has a drink then they’ll take your dinner order. I’ve never seen anyone write anything down and they only take cash (clarity). I don’t think I’ve ever seen a check or bill and think it’s a requirement for the staff to tell you what you owe. The food and experience are always consistent, and consistently good.

Mack & Manco’s has great pizza but their success is also be due in large part to a focus on consistency and clarity. They make it easy and clear for their customers and their customers reward them by remaining loyal.