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From the same industry that once bragged about saving $1 million by removing stale lettuce from pre-packed sandwiches, comes this startling new discovery:


Airlines are shifting their focus from fees as penalties to fees for enhancements, reports Scott Mayerowitz in an Associated Press dispatch (9/30/13). Where “the first generation of charges … dinged fliers for once-free services like checking a bag, these new fees promise a taste of the good life, or at least a more civil flight.” For example, airlines “are now renting Apple iPads preloaded with movies, selling hot first-class meals in coach … Once on the ground, they can skip baggage claim, having their luggage delivered directly to their home or office.”

The airlines also “will soon be able to use past behavior to target fliers.” For the moment, such data is mainly “used to win back passengers after their flight is delayed or luggage is lost,” but this is changing. “We have massive amounts of data,” says Delta CEO Richard Anderson. “We know who you are. We know what your history has been on the airline. We can customize our offerings.” In addition, airlines increasingly can “sell products directly to passengers at booking, in follow-up emails as trips approach, at check-in and on mobile phones minutes before boarding.” – Cool News.




I’m always on the look-out for smart brands. Brands that bring something new to the table or brands that do an amazing job engaging their Zealots. When I first stumbled upon Warby Parker I knew they were someone to take note of.

What’s Warby Parker?
HTOWP is a vintage-inspired eyeglass company based in New York City, known for their online sales program. While selling eyeglasses online doesn’t seem like the smartest business model, WP has thought it through. As a potential costumer, you simply pick out 5 of your favorite frames and WP ships them to your home for free. Your instructions? Wear one pair each day so the people who see you the most can give you feedback. Then, pack all 5 frames in the box and mail them back – shipping covered by WP. If you found a pair you like, simply order that frame with your prescription and the glasses will be custom-made for you. Sounds like a pretty pricey product, right? Not at all. Each complete pair of glasses costs $95. Plus, for each pair purchased, one is donated to someone in-need. Talk about making your customers feel good!

Get Social
Warby Parker has a strong social presence – both on and offline. When WP sends your Home Try-On kit, you’re encouraged to share pictures on the Warby Parker Eyewear Facebook Page. So not only can you to get feedback from your friends, but you can get feedback from the WP community as well.

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For those of you addicted to 140 characters, give WP a Tweet. Even with an average of 3592 Tweets to @WarbyParker each week, they do an amazing job of interacting with their followers. Here’s my friend’s interaction with WP. In fact, it was her posting on Twitter/Facebook that first introduced me to the company. See? Engaging your Zealots truly pays off.

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WP has also thought about their more traditional customers, making their frames available in 12 showrooms across the US as well as on the traveling Warby Parker Class Trip. Visiting 9 cities over six months, this school bus full of frames is touring the US, with members of the WP team posting pictures of their journey along the way. Simply put, this campaign it’s buzz-worthy and fun.

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After all this research about Warby Parker, I think it’s about time to get a new pair of glasses. Stay tuned.

Social_Marketing_See_Behind_Curtain_TransparencyConsider five key factors in understanding how to develop marketing that indeed “engages” with your core constituents.

1. Your product, service, or brand should have a standout quality in its class. The days of faking performance or relying on promotional copy to cover an inferior product are long gone. It is fundamental to deliver, even exceed what you offer.

2. Creative should be an innovative element. If the product is not innovative (then see point above). Most products or brands have some element that excites your Zealots. So why would you employ boring creative execution to tell that story? Creative should match the passion of your product.

3. Your Zealots are key. Key to gaining core insights to the passion of your products. Key to how to influence and persuade others. And key to spreading the word (referral).

4. Offer your core target – best customers and your Zealots – a peek behind the curtain. Share your category insights, invite their opinion on product development offerings, give them promotional opportunities in advance, arm them with specific offers to share with their friends. Understand this group is predisposed to loving your brand. They are feverishly looking for confirmation and experiences that allow them to reinforce their selection. And, share with others.

5. Integrate. Yes, a well-overused marketing term. But, it’s true. Establish what your brand is about – what it stands for. Then, line up every detail, every tactic. Does each detail and each touchpoint reinforce the brand or not? The world-class brands think through every detail from personal greeting to in-store signage to packaging to follow-up response. As an example, consider the St. Regis Lifestyle Butler Service.   Among the touches – escorting guests to private artist or museum showings.

We’ve lobbied that organizations should have a Chief Brand Officer, but perhaps the better title would be Chief Integration Officer.

If your business is not doing the above you are missing fundamental steps in maximizing the value of your brand. If you are unsure about some of the points made, well that is good reason to call us.

Reveries tells the story of Ellen Heberer, an American Airlines gate agent. The airline industry is notorious for treating customers as a number, removing people with technology and otherwise commoditizing services. Then there is Ellen.  “You’ll always have status with me,” Ellen recently told a flier who had lost frequent-flier standing, but whom Ellen remembered and rewarded with a better seat in the front of the plane.
Among other customer-centric acts: Ellen knows repeat customers by name; juggles seat assignments to keep families together; provides passes to get customers into the airport club; doesn’t lie about delays; and is straightforward about what can (or cannot) be done.

American Airline’s response to the reporter: “It shouldn’t have to be that it only happens with a great agent,” says Maya Leibman, American’s chief information officer.

American Airline’s response to the reporter: “It shouldn’t have to be that it only happens with a great agent,” says Maya Leibman, American’s chief information officer.

Well, no it shouldn’t. But for too many companies, the bean-counters have measured the short-term cost of staffing people and training versus automation, Internet tools, self-service scanners and the like. Marketing has been silent on the long-term impact of such moves. Who is voice of the customer in your company?

Ellen is building Zealots for American Airlines. Technology can also help, but it is almost never a substitute for great personal service.

American Airlines can learn a thing or two from Waffle House. All employees are required to spend at least one day a month in restaurants. The CEO doesn’t want his management to get too far from the roots of serving customers. The financial (and CIOs) of American Airlines should spend a few days in Ellen’s role. They might learn the value and costs of service.



We’ll be the first to admit – we love to talk. Bring up one of our clients and we can go on for hours. Their products, their services, their engagement… we’re our clients’ biggest advocates. We’re their Zealots.

But when it comes to sharing a brand’s story with its customers, long-winded body copy is rarely the most effective method of communication. A well-shot visual, however, will instantly bring that story to life.

Let’s look at Atlantic Capital Bank. These bankers don’t simply sit behind a desk. They bring their services to their clients in their place of business. So when we decided to photograph the bank employees at work – we took the camera to the construction field. To the law firm. To the front porch.

This photo shoot has turned into a continuing series with real Atlantic Capital Bank employees and real Atlantic Capital Bank clients. And has also resulted in a good-spirited argument over who will get to be featured in the next photo shoot. Like we said, we love to talk. But more importantly, we love telling a good story. And in this instance, we do it without uttering a word.

Click here to check out the images for yourself.


From Seth Godin – a fitting rally cry to all for 2012:

“The thing is, we still live in a world that’s filled with opportunity. In fact, we have more than an opportunity — we have an obligation. An obligation to spend our time doing great things. To find ideas that matter and to share them. To push ourselves and the people around us to demonstrate gratitude, insight, and inspiration. To take risks and to make the world better by being amazing.

That’s why there has never been a better time for the new. Your competitors are too afraid to spend money on new productivity tools. Your bankers have no idea where they can safely invest. Your potential employees are desperately looking for something exciting, something they feel passionate about, something they can genuinely engage in and engage with. You get to make a choice. You can remake that choice every day, in fact. It’s never too late to choose optimism, to choose action, to choose excellence.”

More on this terrific treatise here.


All too often, marketing and ad agencies believe they have a monopoly on creativity and ideas for their clients. In reality, the best ideas often are “discovered” through a more collaborative process. Those in the trenches often “spark” the idea that can transform a business.

From Cool News:

More companies are creating “innovation management programs,” reports Rachel Emma Silverman in the Wall Street Journal (10/17/11). For example, Bruce Power, an Ontario nuclear-energy company, encourages employees to “submit ideas through 10 special-purpose kiosks” at its plant. The kiosks, which “look like ATMs” have been in place for three years and give the plant’s workers, many of whom don’t have desks, a way to make suggestions. Other employees then vote on the ideas.

“It’s like the American Idol of ideas,” says Duncan Hawthorne, the company’s chief executive officer. So far, about “11,000 ideas have been submitted” that Duncan says have saved “millions” of dollars. The ideas “have ranged widely from improving efficiency by increasing stocks of tools to creating a dedicated facility for forklift maintenance.” Two years ago, PricewaterhouseCoopers launched iPlace, an ideas-management website that has so far generated some 3,300 new ideas, of which 140 have been implemented. Approximately “60 percent of the firm’s 32,000 US employees have either submitted, commented or voted on ideas.

Are ideas central to your business? Do you have marketing people (and agencies) that embrace ideas or prefer to “control” the process?


Clearly, everyone wants “zealots” – those unashamedly, passionate fans.
They are immediately receptive and initial adopters to new products, they go out of their way to talk your brand up, they introduce friends and family to “share” why they are so excited.

Simply, behind every great brand is a core group of zealots.

What defines a zealot?  Who are your zealots?   How do you cultivate them?   Do you know what truly drives them to become a passionate loyalist?

In 2010, we will devote one segment in each newsletter to “What Creates Zealots?” and how you can incorporate that into your brand.  Of course, you can get the accelerated solutions by calling Guest Relations Marketing for a Zealotry Analysis of your brand.


Susan Bixler, a leadership training expert, has drafted a very well-written article on how we should manage ourselves in this “new” economy.

She offered up 5 new rules on how to prosper. Interestingly, those same five rules are good fundamentals for addressing your Zealots in any marketing program:

Read her article


People naturally cheer on the local team.   It’s hard to get excited and support the global headquarters in Duluth, Minnesota, if you are living in Texas.   Which is why many manufacturers are trying to go “local.”   For instance, Frito Lay is now promoting that it sources its potatoes and processes them into chips in Florida.  “This is celebrating the notion of community,” says Dave Sekena, Frito Lay’s VP of Marketing.

Give your zealots something to connect to .., either in their local community or through a personal contact point.   And, if you can’t come to them, then send the tour to them.  Zealots love behind-the-scenes events.   And, the value to a company is these experiences provide fodder for new conversations from Zealots to their community.


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