Unless Your Last Name Is Zuckerberg…

A few weeks ago news outlets and blogs were up-in-arms over an experiment Facebook performed without telling everyone they were doing it. The Telegraph reported, “Facebook altered the tone of the users’ news feed to highlight either positive or negative posts from their friends, which were seen on their news feed. They then monitored the users’ response, to see whether their friends’ attitude had an impact on their own.” If you are a Facebook user you agreed, when you signed up to use this free service, to terms that give permission to Facebook to do things like this.

I’m always amazed at how many people scream and seem so surprised, offended and violated by something like this. The bottom line is that unless your name is Mark Zuckerberg then you have very little privacy when using his free service. And I do think the key word is free. I don’t own Facebook, I don’t even rent Facebook – they let me use their service, software, platform, servers and technology at no charge.

If you don’t like Facebook (or Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Google+) knowing your business then don’t use the service. If you don’t want friends, family, co-workers and the rest of the world knowing your business either learn to use the privacy settings social media services provide or don’t use social media.

I have been involved with providing interviews to the media over the years. There is one thing that I learned early on and that is that NOTHING IS EVER off-the-record. You can apply that same philosophy to your online activity – very rarely is your online activity every totally private.

Unless you are paying for a service or have established a business relationship with an online organization you really can’t get too upset with how they handle your information.

If you don’t want social media services to experiment on you and your information here’s what you can do.

  1. Don’t use social media
  2. Become Amish

So what do you think?

And in the immortal words of Daryl Hall and John Oates, “Private Eyes – they’re watching you…”




Smart Brands Tell The Best Stories

Seth Godin says, “Great marketers don’t make stuff. They make meaning.”

Image courtesy of http://video-commerce.org

Image courtesy of http://video-commerce.org

It doesn’t matter if we are selling a product or service, promoting a service or brand…if we aren’t telling a meaningful story about who we are and what we do we shouldn’t plan on having a long relationship with our customers or constituents.

There’s a good piece on The Content Strategist that does a great job unpacking this entire idea. Here’s a snip from the article:

You’ve probably heard the big commandment of content marketing: Don’t talk about the brand. If you do, the theory goes, you’ll drive consumers away. After all, they want to read about the things they love, not about you.

But what about the people who are interested in your brand? What about the investors and potential investors? What about the employees and vendors with a stake in your success? Or, for that matter, what about the super-users who just can’t get enough? Shouldn’t you talk about the brand to them?

The answer, undoubtedly, is yes.

Do you think there’s a balance to how much you talk about your brand? Is there a line that you need to be aware of?

Is Social Media the Center of Your Online Presence?

The Internet freaked out today as Twitter experienced multiple outages throughout the day. Mashable reported that it was Twitter’s biggest outage in the last 18 months. People were frantic because of the outage. No one knows how many scheduled tweets never made it, how many retweets were missed or the number of customers who didn’t get a reply to their questions tweeted to a company.

Image courtesy of TechCrunch

The lesson to be learned from today’s outage is that no one can afford to put all or even most of their eggs in one basket. If you are totally relying on an embassy (a place you don’t own, but where you have a registered profile) as Michael Hyatt defines it, you put yourself at significant risk.

Having a home base whether its a traditional website or blog is a must have for anyone doing business. This is your home online, its the place you own and control. You don’t rely on a third party, you own your customer information and if a social media network goes down or disappears you aren’t left out in the cold without a connection to your customers.

Did Twitter impact you or your business in a major way today?

This Week on the Rainey Radar

If you aren’t familiar with an agile marketing approach here’s a great place to start. The agile approach was created years ago in relation to software development but the principles have been applied to marketing and should be considered by any marketer looking to see quicker and greater impact of their efforts.

Content marketing is only as good as the copywriter behind the words. Earlier this week I came across a great post that is a great resource for anyone responsible for hiring copywriters.

This actually happened almost two weeks but it should still be on everyone’s radar. It’s the release of Michael Hyatt’s new book Platform. For anyone involved in sales, marketing or leadership of any kind this is a must read. Check out Michael’s podcast where he introduces the book as well.

Disconnect The Autopilot Switch and Engage

Do you remember the famous 80’s song Mr. Roboto?Mr. Roboto

Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto,
(Thank you very much oh Mr. Roboto
For doing the jobs that nobody wants to)

The video for the song was a classic on MTV (when MTV played music videos) and featured the lead singer battling and resisting becoming a robot. The premise of the song was that technology was taking over and de-humanizing people. That tune and message of the song hasn’t changed much over the past 30 years as technology has developed at the speed of light. Today, more than ever, it’s easy to let “technology” become the face and sometimes, the heart, of our business.

Have you ever caught yourself in robot mode? Have you found yourself on autopilot when it comes to engaging with and serving your customers? It’s so easy to let the “tasks at hand” consume our thoughts and actions that we forget the most important thing we can and should be doing —providing a wow experience to our customers.

Action Items:

Build an emotional connection by talking about the shared values and mission you have with your customers. Use social media, email and direct mail to tell your story and make the connection.

  1. Social media isn’t just another fad, it’s not fading away and if you haven’t embraced it yet there’s no better time than the present.  Your most satisfied and loyal customers are following you on Facebook and Twitter so make sure the conversation is happening every day. Keep your social media channels loaded with fresh, relevant and fun content. Add pictures, videos and check-in rewards that keep your customers “looking” for “what’s next” from you. Give your customers a reason to like, follow, connect and share.
  2. Email marketing is still a workhorse that produces results. Don’t stop collecting email addresses and building your email list. And don’t just make your emails about promotions. Include testimonies from your customers about how your stores products and service has helped them. Telling the story of changes lives and wow experiences build a stronger and ongoing emotional connection with your customers.
  3. Direct mail is by no means dead. Connected customers respond to direct mail twice as much as customers who are just familiar and satisfied with a retailer.

Don’t succumb to the temptation of putting things on autopilot. Resist Mr. Roboto and let your humanness rise by establishing and maintaining emotional connections with your customer.

The time has come at last, (Secret secret, I’ve got a secret)
To throw away this mask, (Secret secret, I’ve got a secret)
Now everyone can see, (Secret secret, I’ve got a secret)
My true identity

Branding From the Inside Out: Chick-Fil-A

Chick-Fil-A is a great story of a brand that has been building itself from the inside out since it began. Truett Cathy opened “The Dwarf Grill” just outside of Atlanta in 1946 which has now grown to be the wildly popular and fast-growing chain that millions have come to know and love as Chick-Fil-A.

They have never strayed from their core values and beliefs which can be found from the top of the organization, to the owner/operators of the franchise stores to the friendly face taking your order at the drive-thru window. Rarely, if ever, will you find a Chick-Fil-A team member who doesn’t end their customer conversations with “My Pleasure”.  It’s their pleasure to have you visit their restaurant and to serve you quickly. Here’s a great interview that ABC News conducted with Dan Cathy, President and Chief Operation Officer that will give you great insight into how they have become who they are.

Not only does Chick-Fil-A put a tremendous amount of time, effort and resource into building their own brand from the inside out but they have a mission of helping our businesses. Each year, through the Chick-Fil-A Leadercast they equip and inspire leaders from around the world.Chick-Fil-A From the Chick-Fil-A Leadercast website they say, “The choices you make define the leader you become.  And the choices you make are not just about you. They’re about the positive impact you can have on your organization, your community, and beyond. Our world needs everyday leaders who will choose to make it a better place. That’s what Chick-fil-A Leadercast 2012 is all about.”

What’s been your observations of Chick-Fil-A? Have you experienced their brand?

Branding From the Inside Out: Whole Foods

Whole Foods is a great example of branding from the inside out. They are a $4.7 billion Fortune 500 company and one of the top 12 supermarket companies in America and the world’s largest natural foods retail chain. A couple of weeks ago they were named the National Retail Federation’s Retail Innovator of the Year which is further evidence as to why their efforts of branding from the inside out has worked so well. Whole Foods - Winston Salem location

A simple way to understand what it means to brand from the inside out is to look at it from the perspective of “the employees of the company practice what they preach.” The brand which is the vision, mission, purpose and core values of the company need to be found or built/trained into the DNA of those who are part of the company. From the top down everyone lives and breathes the brand.

Whole Foods brand starts at the top with John P. Mackey the Co-founder and CEO. As noted by the NRF, Mr. Mackey and his wife, Deborah, both practice meditation and yoga, and spend as much time as they can on their 720-acre ranch west of Austin. Mackey is a voracious book reader and participates in two monthly book clubs.

Each time you walk into a Whole Foods you experience a little bit of John Mackey through the employees that follow in his footsteps. But this doesn’t just happen automatically, building the brand from the inside out must be intentional and Whole Foods has a great program for helping instill their brand DNA into everyone. Check out their Declaration of Interdependence and Core Values for some great inspiration.

How do you or your company help develop your brand from the inside out?



Branding From the Inside Out

Colors, logos, fonts, packaging, sounds, smells – the list goes on when it comes to building a memorable brand. But for too long the most important part of the brand, the part that will literally make or break a company, has been overlooked. It has been an area tagged as a “resource” or even an “expense” instead of the lifeblood and energy of a brand. And what is this “part”? It’s the people who we work for and with.

From the top of the organization to those on the front lines each and everyone is an ambassador of the brand. And if the brand isn’t a part of each person, if the brand isn’t a part of who they are, it will come through to our customers. When our customers don’t see and feel the passion we have for the brand we represent we are on shaky ground.

Think about the brands you love and identify with. Then think about the people who work there and represent the company. Most likely your favorite brands are made up of people who love the brand, company and product as much if not more than you do.

This week I’m going to provide some examples of brands and company’s that I believe are setting the standard for what it means to “Be the brand” from the inside out.

Valuable or Just Loud?

Seth Godin had a great post the other day about struggling to be heard – see it here. His bottom line was that we can either make noise or make a difference.

Just because someone can grab the attention of others by their volume doesn’t mean what they have to say will make a difference. After the noise disappears and the dust settles what’s left behind from our message is what people follow and believe in. There are other times that not saying anything, that our silence, can speak louder than any words we could have shouted. That’s where, as communicator’s, we must know our audience and what will connect with them in the most relevant way – both in delivery and content.

When our product or service provides value and makes a difference (or doesn’t) in someone’s life that person will be the one who turns up the volume and becomes the loudest spokesperson for the company.

Value is where it’s at.

Create A Happy Retail Experience

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.

I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.

For many of your customers and many of the people in your community this song from Louis Armstrong is probably not something they seem to be humming these days. So, why not take the opportunity and engage in a guerilla marketing tactic I’m calling – “ROTRFL – Rolling On The Retail Floor Laughing”. Make you store a destination for fun, joy, laughter and smiles.

Over the past few months I’ve seen some great examples of simple, fun and engaging tactics used by retailers in the Christian Retail industry. Earlier this year the crew at Lighthouse Christian Supply in Dublin, CA created an event called the Ultimate Chicken Dance Off. They invited customers to get their “Chicken Dance” on IN THE STORE for a chance to win prizes and have some fun. Not only did the grand prize winner sna an iPad but event engaged customers, created buzz but it brought a lot of fun and laughter to the store. They integrated offline and online marketing to create a very interactive experience for their customers. You can visit Lighthouse Christian Supply on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dublinlighthouse and scroll down to their updates in May of this year to see how everything unfolded.

Another fun example that I observed earlier this year was a retailer who invited customers, via their Facebook page, to bring in jokes and receive a discount on their purchase. They promoted the event in store, on their website and through their Facebook page. It cost them very little time and virtually no money to pull off the event.

Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing and put you on the road to bringing a smile to your customers face.

Comedy Night – Leverage the rise of Christian comedians like Chonda Pierce, Jeff Allen, Anita Renfroe and others and host a comedy day or night in your store. Play the latest comedy DVD’s and offer special discounts on all of your comedy or family friendly DVD’s. Take this idea to the next level by inviting local Christian comedians to perform in your story on a Friday or Saturday night.

Carnival day – Everyone loves a party and games. Partner with local churches and youth groups to host a carnival in your store. For a list of great carnival game ideas check out http://www.kidspartyfun.com.

Make the staff laugh – Invite your customers to tell you a joke, humorous story or perform a funny act and then give them a small discount on their purchase. Add a little more fun by marking off an area around your cash register area where they can “perform” – set up a camera (video or still) and catch them in the act – then post their performance on your Facebook page to add some viral marketing potential.

Press release Let the local media know about your store spreading joy. Invite them to come out to one of your event and interview you and your customers about how your are helping encourage people in your community.

Pick a month and promote it as “Happy Month At Your Store”. Post jokes and funny stories to your Facebook page during “Happy Month”. Encourage your customers to post their jokes and stories to your page as well and pick a winner each week. Hand out smiley stickers to everyone who comes through your doors.

Happy banners – hang a sign over your front door or right inside your entry way that announces to your customers that they are now entering an “Encouragement or Happy Zone”.

Roadside clowns – Go old school sandwich board marketing by positioning clowns at the road in front of your store holding signs with big smiles on them, directing them to your store. Don’t rule this tactic out too quickly. In my local town of Kernersville, NC we have a gold, cash and antique store who employs a guy named Kenny who dances while holding a sign that points people to the store. In a recent interview the owners of the store said that 1 in 3 people who come into the store do so as a result of seeing Kenny.

Answer the phone with a smile and fun salutation – We have all heard it before but it’s always worth a reminder. People can hear you smiling or frowning on the other end of the line. When you smile and talk your spreading a good mood to the person you are talking too. Try a salutation like, “Thank you for calling (insert your store name) – how can we add some happiness to your day?”

So…how can you use the “punch line” to impact your “bottom line”?

Have you created or been a part of creating an event like this?