jared has lots of stamps

Read this consumer review of a Subway in Ohio.

Just as demanding as the Seinfeldian Soup Nazi, I’ve dealt with many Subway Nazi “sandwich artists”. And it’s always about the minor things like a drink refill, a few extra olives, or like the guy in the link — arguing the finer points of a free sub card.

A Subway franchisee will argue that giving a free sandwich that comes out of his pocket/profit to a customer that may have never been in his store is not good business.

I would argue that keeping core Subway customers who are willing to eat 6 (or 12) sandwiches happy and content is good business. And if all the franchisees were willing (or forced) to participate, the money would all equal out in the end.

But here’s the bigger point for everybody. If a marketing promotion makes you irritate your customers and generates negative brand images and kills goodwill — maybe you shouldn’t do the promotion.

someone tried to proposition me in a hotel lobby

Last week, I was in Chicago speaking to a group. The hotel had an afternoon social time that I stopped at one afternoon to grab a snack. While I was sitting there, a young guy came in and started talking to me. He said he was from the area and had an appointment with someone staying at the hotel.

He was unusually chatty and a little cheesy in our conversation. But he was a young guy and I figured he was awkwardly trying to “network”. He said he had his own business and wanted to know what I did. I explained I was there to speak to the group. He said he might have a need for sales/business speaker in his new business. I gave him a card, said goodbye, and went to my room to crash.

A few days later, I get a call from the guy. He wants to know if I’m keeping my options open for “business opportunities”. And he goes into a pitch about his “system”.

It then dawns on me that the dude cruises business hotel lobbies to pick up leads. He has now taken the title of “most pathetic schemer” from the guy who tried to do the same thing to me in an aisle at Staples a few years ago.

I broke into his pitch and tried to politely tell him I wasn’t interested. He responded testily – “Does that mean you don’t want to keep your options open?”

I told him my options are pretty much closed. And I hung up.

But I wish I had stayed on the phone a bit longer and told him some simple truths:

  • The reason that my “options” are closed is that I’ve already been through that stage of life without getting sucked in. I’m now (much?) older and wiser. When I was in college and immediately afterwards, I wasted several hours going to “job interviews” that turned out to be MLM schemes like Primerica or worse.
    (Advice to the marketing kids — never respond to a job listing that refers to “sports marketing” or sports-minded marketing”)
  • If you’re hanging out in office supply stores or hotel lobbies trying to bottomfeed, you really need to reexamine your sales strategy. (and reexamine your life)
  • If you have to trick people into a meeting, you’re probably selling crap.

I’ve said it before. Sure, stuff like this works in the short term. But for long term success (in sales, marketing, or whatever), you HAVE to have honest conversations and relationships with your targets.

come check my wiring harness

I’m a Southwest person. If they don’t go where I’m going, I’m a US Airways person. With US Airways alliances, sometimes they stick me on a United flight.

I haven’t flown on American in about 10 years — until a speaking client’s travel agency put me on an American flight this week.

On Wednesday, when I saw the lines, I thought there would be a bloggable customer service disaster. But BNA did well. They were handling the crisis very well (at least, they were on Wednesday morning). The only trouble I had was that I didn’t have any AA miles clout in achieving standby status. Luckily, I had plenty of time to get where I was going with relative little trouble.

The thing I kept thinking was that just a few years ago, people would have been incensed at the whole situation. All through the airport, there were just dead eyed accepting blank stares from passengers. The entire air travel industry has lowered the bar so much in the last few years that people are accepting of situations like this. I suppose if you mistreat customers enough, they eventually are satisified with subpar experiences.

wanna see me?

A brief blogging pit stop to announce some public events I’ll be speaking at in the next few months.

April 11 (Chicago) — Inland Press Interactive Media Seminars
A big day for newspapers with lots of discussion on multimedia in journalism and what newspapers need to be doing on the web. I will be doing a session at 1030am about newspaper blogs.
(More info) (Register)

May 7 (Chicago) — Inland Press Small Newspaper Workshops
Smaller circulation newspapers need to be online too. I’ll be doing a session at 1:15 that will focus on using video, audio, rich media, and social networking to grow a newspaper site.
(Info) (Register)

May 30 (Las Vegas) — World Tea Expo
I think one of the nicest compliments I get is being asked back to an event. And this one is a great one to go back to. If you missed my marketing spiel at the World Tea Expo in Atlanta last year, please try to make it to my session in Las Vegas this year. I will be talking about Winning Brand Strategies. While I will focus on the beverage industry, any industry can apply the branding principles I will be talking about.
(Get info) (Register)

June 7 (Atlanta) — American Advertising Federation National Conference
I’m actually doing a private daylong session for the Executive Directors prior to the conference, but I will be floating around the AAF meeting. I’d love to meet you if you’re there.
(Details)

I will be off the speaking market from mid-July to mid-August, but I have a few tentatitve bookings for this fall and next year. I will post the open public ones when they are confirmed.

As always, if you would like to bring me in for a conference or a private corporate event, I’d love to work with you. Click here for possible topics, video demo, testimonials, and more.