Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Marketing money well spent

OK, the Super Bowl is over, and much of the conversation about the best tv spots, costs, impressions, etc. has subsided. (Writer's Note: THANK GOD!).

So, the cost in 2011 to air a 30-second spot was about $3 million. And remember folks, that does NOT include the production or any other ancillary costs. What did Eminem cost Chrysler for the much-talked-about Detroit/Motor City piece?

Why would U. Blogger care about such things?

Well, I stopped in the local Dunkin Donuts this week for a bagel and coffee. Nothing unusual. The normal cast of characters from the United Nations working behind the counter. No biggee. But, then it all hit me...

I had to stand and wait while the employees finished their animated conversation in some derivative of Pig Latin, or Swahili, or whatever the hell it was. And then, when they did me a favor and returned to speaking English, it was abundantly clear that they were annoyed with my entering the store and interrupting them. Now, I know that a $4.02 sale will not make or break the Kingdom of Dunkin Donuts, but as the old business school adage goes, multiply that number by a lot of pissed off people, and that business is going elsewhere, and someone in an expensive suit at Dunkin Donuts World Headquarters is going to notice. Where was all that money spent before Starbuck's came along? They ate someone's lunch when they came on the scene, that's for sure.

OK, so if you are still with me, you must be thinking... Where the hell is this going?

Here's my point... Do mega million dollar ad campaigns during the Super Bowl really drive your purchasing decisions? What about the way you are treated when you drop $3 on a cup of coffee? I bet you are going with Door #2. Me too.

So, why does business regularly forget about the front line (the idiots at my local Dunkin Donuts) who act like they are doing me a favor when they grab the money out of my hand? For some reason, I say thank you, when they hand me my order, and recently, I have been put off when the reply is "You are welcome." Wait a minute! Isn't that backwards? Don't I, the customer, deserve a thank you? I understand that "America Runs on Dunkin" (I remember the ads), but when I stop and think, it is they that owe me the sincere thank you!

You know, I would much rather be treated well, then see a cute, funny commercial with a monkey or a rap star, which, by the way, the cost for which comes out of the prices charged for the products I buy, to help them attract MORE customers. Is something wrong with this picture? Yep, I think so too.

Dear Mr. Business... please remember that customer service matters. Think about this.... when was the last time you saw a tv spot for the Marriott/Ritz Carlton hotel chain? Never? That's right and why do you think that is? Because, for the most part, their employees UNDERSTAND customer service. They spend their money training people to take care of the customers they have, so they will WANT TO COME BACK.

Which would you rather see? Yeah, me too.

Monday, January 24, 2011

2011 vs 2010

I know it sounds so trite, but new years tend to signify new chapters, clean slates and opportunities for us as individuals to say, ok, do over. I will admit that as 2010 turned into 2011, I fell into the habit of doing just that. 2010 stunk. Plain and simple. So, when looking to leave that behind, one will look anywhere for a new start. I was no exception.

The funny thing is that what I thought 2011 would represent has just recently gone from a new start to a second chance.

Hindsight can certainly be clearer than a crystal ball. So, in looking back at 2010, I have to acknowledge the lessons learned that I plan to carry into 2011 and beyond.

Listen. Talk. Stop. Pay Attention. Recognize. Be sincerely thankful and love with everything you've got.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Oh the difference a year makes

Hell, where to begin...

I could try to think of clever song lyrics or some other cliche that might fit the bill, but this is my journey, and I don't think even Sinatra has the words in his catalog.

I've seen a lot, and I have missed a lot. I've learned a lot about myself and others, and realize that the more I learn, the less I know. The more people I meet, the more I love my dog. And the more places I go, I wish I could show those things to my kids.

Ah, but they are not really my kids.

Funny, that topic, and how it was not supposed to be a chapter in my life. Ever. And yet it was. Maybe still is. I'd like to think that it still is, if only in memory.

Two little people who met me when they were 7 and 9 and their world was getting turned upside down. I had no idea what I was getting into, and neither did they, but what an impact they had on me, and hopefully I am not leaving them with a staggering therapy bill in their future.

They taught me how to look at the world differently, and they made me see the impact that love has, when all else is going to hell. I may have taught them how to behave at a 5-star restaurant, but that's nothing compared to what they taught me. From these two little people, I learned that love is really all that matters. They showed me how to go out into the world on days when it was the last thing I felt like doing. They taught me what it feels like to want to protect someone at all costs, because man, if anyone crossed them, I would have killed them.

They taught me the power of a hug, and I don't think hearing the words "I love you" ever mattered more than hearing them say it to me.

So, that chapter is over. It's not the same as it once was, but that does not mean that I am not still learning from them. And if I am the slightest bit lucky, they will someday remember that time together and hopefully the therapist will accept their health insurance.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

power point

This has ruined the business community. I love power point and admit that I have relied on it too heavily in the past as a teacher and presenter but man o man, how many hours have some of you wasted sitting through presentations that were just plain painful? I'm in one now and I am looking at the tip of my pencil and wondering what would be more painful... More of this or that in my ear.

Why are most seminars or presntations led by people that just aren't qualified to do it?

Let me postulate on why. They think it's easy. How many times have you heard the phrase "those that can do and those that can't, teach". Baloney. What about the life long professionals that say things like, "well, when I retire from being a lawyer/engineer/cpa/clown I think I will go into teaching." The thought process here is that anyone can do it and knoweldge in some area of expertise easily translates to a smooth transition into teaching and instruction. Good Lord that is so wrong. I have sat through enough of these seminars to have the necessary proof. Everyone thinks they are an expert and armed with a laptop, portable projector and some software, they think they can empower the masses.
There is a reason they always offer unlimited coffee at these things. Think about it.
Oh, and it feels good to be back. I've been a little busy and uninspired lately but the blogging bug is biting again.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I'm glad my desk is no where near the front of the building

I am a pretty lucky person. Not only am I gainfully employed when friends have already been let go, had hours cut, or are expecting the axe. In fact, I have several jobs. I have "options" as some people would say, and I do not forget my good fortune in that respect.

But, one of the things I do is work in a municipality. Public service. Local government. The bottom rung on the political food chain. It's a great place though. The community is quite affluent, and the landscape is very beautiful. My co-workers are really an enjoyable group. I get to spend time outside. I like coming into the office.

However, I must speak about some things I observe. And I have to say that watching and listening to some of the residents is real cause to stop, and reflect, about myself.

You should be careful what you wish for, but my-o-my, if I had the problems of some of these people. And it never ceases to amaze me how self-indulgent, self-absorbed and narrow-minded they can be.

I overhear phone conversations, and people coming into the front counter to ask questions. People complain about things that their neighbors do to their own property, qualifying their complaint with the over worn phrase "I didn't pay 2 million dollars for my house so I would have to look at that!" "Well, ma'am, perhaps you should have bought that piece of land too, so you could do with it what you want. My guess is they kinda feel that paying 2 million dollars for THEIR property gives them the same rights that you feel you have." Simple math.

They want amenities, but they don't want them near their house. They spy on each other and call the office to file complaints. Of course, this is far from everyone, but it's just enough to keep the entertainment level high enough to enjoy coming to work. They complain that the trash trucks make too much noise and come down the street too early: 430 or 5am. I'm not sure about you (my loyal 3 readers), but I think it's pretty cool that I can lug lots of crap to the end of my driveway and people will come take it away. I really don't care WHEN they do it or how much noise it makes. It's a pretty temporary inconvenience, but think of the problem I would have if every week I had to figure out where to put all of that stuff.

These people want to see the building permits of their neighbors, but they don't understand why they need one themselves, for the same job. They want what they want, but have no comprehension that other people's desires and opinions are equally valid. Some people really can't get their head around that concept. I see it in their eyes when I try and explain it. It's remarkable.

And I just think to myself... how do you have this much time and energy for such frivolity? I don't live anywhere near here. Frankly, I could not afford it. I try to worry a little more about my own issues: kids doing well in school, building some self-esteem in them, checking in on friends, staying in touch with family that is far too spread out around the country and nurturing my relationship with my partner.

And yet, some days I think it might be nice to have the time to call my local municipality office building and bitch about the color of my neighbor's shed. Oh, if that was my biggest concern..

Friday, April 3, 2009

In the still of the night...

Hard to believe this is the first blatant reference to Sinatra by UBlogger... You may not know it, but under that bag from Trader Joe's, there is a lot of sing-alonging with the Chairman of the Board...

Night time is still my favorite time of the day, when I am not so exhausted that I cannot enjoy it. I'm home, in my small cozy office, UBlogger's dog at my feet. Sinatra in the background, but still loud enough to be noticed. It's peaceful, yet with a sense of energy. I think that is what I love about the night, the juxtaposition of the two. Parts of the world are winding down, and others gearing up. One could say that for the morning hours as well (Frank also recorded the Wee Small Hours of the Morning, so he really had them both covered). But the morning is different. To me, it is brief, the silence is broken, the day starts, and we are off. But nighttime seems to have a more elongated time to it. It can last an hour or two, or 10. It ends with rest. It is the punctuation at the end of the day.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Where did decorum go?

For my 2 faithful readers, you must by now be aware that some things really get to me. Was I born WAY after my time? Am I just too serious and uptight? All things for debate, but I have to bring something up that really gets to me: a lack of appreciation for manners and education, behaving well, and being respectful toward others, and displaying some degree of sophistication and intelligence.

I realize I could be taken to task for such a topic, but please let me assure you, this has nothing to do with being a snob, having more financial means than others, or a closet full of Cole Haan shoes and a drawer full of Prada socks.

What happened to good manners? What happened to respect? What happened to wanting to LEARN?

A few weeks ago, I dined at Morton's with my partner and 2 kids. At the table next to us was a group of peple that were loud, rude and one guy was so disrespectfully dressed for a restaurant where the maitre'd wears a tuxedo that I was close to saying something to them.

I'm sorry, but this is NOT appropriate attire for a 5-star restaurant:

We also took the kids downtown to a sophisticated restaurant for same partner's birthday. In doing so, I expect the kids to not only turn their manners up to "high" but I also expect them to dress a certain way. It's respectful. It says that you have some self-discipline and pride. I want them to UNDERSTAND that. Good taste is never out of style, but God-willing, wearing your pants with the crotch at your knees will be some day!

Our society has become lazy. Complacent. Did you know that China will soon become the #1 English speaking nation in the world? Why? Because they are smarter, more energized, more focused on the value of education.

And what are we becoming?

This is what we are becoming:

We devalue education in this country. We are producing generations of short-sighted, self-indulgent children, who feel entitled to everything without doing anything.

President Obama, just last week had this to say:

"We have let our grades slip, our schools crumble, our teacher quality fall short, and other nations outpace us ... In 8th grade math, we've fallen to 9th place. Singapore's middle-schoolers outperform ours three to one. Just a third of our thirteen and fourteen-year olds can read as well as they should. And year after year, a stubborn gap persists between how well white students are doing compared to their African American and Latino classmates."
He added: "It is time to give all Americans a complete and competitive education from the cradle up through a career."

Kudos, Mr. President!

America is not a top-performing country any longer. We are not the standard.

We are a laughing stock in many ways, and it is deplorable.

You are what you wear. And it does not take name brands and lots of money to do it. It takes self-respect.

Are these guys off to a job interview? Doubtful.

What does the first glance impression say about these two? Fair or not, it is what it is.

Take some pride, people. It matters.