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I’m speaking to a group of marketers today in the DC area. Just for fun, last night I Googled some of them to look at their calling cards – their website. It’s 2010. The world wide web just celebrated it’s 20th birthday – I expect great things.

I am not kidding when I say that the first 8 sites I pulled had the SAME look, tone and feel….and more importantly they all used SHINY HAPPY PEOPLE stock art. All of them.

Isn’t the marketer’s goal to differentiate? Especially in a crowded, noisy, over communicated market like DC? Can we find no better way to tell our story than with pictures of paid models appearing to love us?

Oh, it’s gonna be a fun day. Stay tuned……

Don’t judge me but I love Dancing With the Stars.  I’m not sure if it’s the discipline, the diversity of dancers or the dance moves, but I can’t get enough of it. So tonight, as I watch the three hour season finale’ I’m trying to find meaning. What can we glean from this show? I’m never gonna get these hours back, so what are the lessons learned?

Here goes:

1. If you have a bad reputation, people won’t vote for you. It’s that simple. Even if you can sort of dance, nobody can forget your past.

2. If you’re an icon (astronaut), and you’ve done something significant, no matter how many years ago that was-  you’re allowed to stay too long. We will honor you.

3. If you put yourself out there, and are genuine, work hard, and super nice. You’ll gain a ton of votes, respect, and stay on the show for a long time.

4. Sex sells. Period.

5. But in the end – dancers make the best dancers.

Yesterday I was in the O’Hare Airport. I used the restroom. As I was leaving I came upon this sign with accompanying phone.

I got to thinking about best practices and bathrooms.

# 1 : Tom Peters says in his 100 Way to Succeed and Make Money top of the list best practice – is clean. As in, there’s no excuse whatsoever for sloppiness, unitidiness, less than s-p-a-r-k-l-i-n-g restrooms. And that applies to lobbies, offices, etc.

#2 – Protecto toilet seat covers. Midwesterners, I love ya. But why don’t you have these? I have to make my own, which never quite works out like I want and those auto flushers mistake the movement  for “being done” and – whooosh – all my hard work – gone.

#3 – The “wave your hand in front of it” towel dispenser. Swine flu brought us signage on the proper way to wash hands – like a surgeon would  – and then you have to grab onto some skanky handle and crank away for a towel? Nope. Good on ya whoever invented the auto towel.

#4 – The Purell dispenser on your way out – as an extra coating of clean.

Those are the basics. But where’s the wow?

#1 – Fresh flowers. Cuz let’s face it, what would you rather smell?

#2 – On your honor tampon basket. I was in a restaurant restroom once that made these things look like art.

#3 – Full length mirror on your way out that makes you look thin.

What are you bathroom best practices? Wait, that sounded weird.

For all those folks that were so nice to ask if I was going to continue blogging….here’s your answer. Of course I will – but a little less industry specific and a little more “Things that make you say…Hmmmmmmm.”

I have big news.

After 10 years of self-employment as a credit union culture consultant and only 3 weeks shy of the 30th anniversary of my first day in credit unions, I am excited to announce that I have accepted the position of Vice President, Association Services for the Credit Union Association of New Mexico!

This has been a dream of mine for years – to live and work in the Land of Enchantment.

I first visited Santa Fe, New Mexico 20 years ago and I fell in love. Of all the places I’ve lived, visited, frequented in the US – this is the only place I feel homesick when I leave.

I knew I had to live there – eventually.

Two weeks ago I heard that Brent Dixon was speaking at their Annual Meeting. As I was cruising around their beautiful newly designed website, I saw that the VP Association Services position was open.

As I was reading the job description, I knew, this was the job for me. Working for the trade association in the State I love with credit unions during the toughest economic times in years. So I threw my hat in the ring.

And then the day I interviewed it was announced that Bill Cheney was the be the new CUNA CEO.  I’m so excited for the future of credit unions. It was meant to be.

The best part about this move – I technically don’t have to move. Mark and I bought a second home in Cochiti Lake, NM 2 1/2 years ago. Mark loves his job at LaCamas Community Credit Union and my family is in Portland so of course we’re keeping our house there. We have the best of both worlds now and we’re no strangers to the long distance commuter relationship.

The day before my interview I was walking around The Plaza in Santa Fe. I came upon a guy selling desert sage he picked on the banks of the Rio Grande. He asked where I was visiting from (I must’ve looked like a tourist). I told him quite proudly that I had a home in Cochiti Lake, and okay, I am visiting from our other home in Portland, Oregon. He smiled, put his hand on his heart and said “Oh, you are twice blessed.”

Yes I am.

It’s no secret. CFOs and Marketers are know to butt heads over budget. Why is this? Because they are not speaking the same language. Here’s a great example.

What a Marketer says: “I need to increase my marketing budget by 25% this year.”

What a CFO hears: “I need to ruin your ROA projection for 2010.”

Speaking CFO is essential to the success of marketing, especially in these tough economic times. On Monday, May 17th, at 10am PST the Liquid Lunch will feature two amazing CFOs. Two guys that get it because they have fully functioning right brains and left brains.

Kelley Parks, creator of gira{ph} will be the host, as George Kite, CFO of Call Federal CU and Mark Sadowski, CFO of LaCamas Community CU share their secrets to charts & graphs and unlock the mysteries of ROA.

You won’t want to miss it.

Heard this morning from someone I admire:

“Meetings for the most part are completely unproductive, mind numbing and do nothing to foster teamwork.”

As a consultant, I am the maker of meetings. When I come to town, we’re gonna meet. I see it in their eyes when I enter the board room. Oh gawd, what is SHE going to make us do?

I pride myself on having productive meetings. Here are a few things I’ve found that help to turn your meeting from a time waster to a treasure.

1. Don’t have a meeting in the basement. You cannot be creative with fluorescent light. In fact studies have shown that artificial light sucks about 1.5 pounds of your soul from your body each hour.

2. Have an agenda. This sounds like a no-brainer but many people come to meetings because they are “on the calendar” not because they have a purpose or a goal.

3. Calculate the value of the attendees time when the meeting starts and the value of the outcome. Once the time expense has exceeded the value, someone is instructed to signal the meeting’s end with a blow horn.

4. Cut your meeting time in half. Seldom do meetings end early. This always puzzles me. They almost always end on time – because people have to get to their next meeting. Hmmmm……

5. Good coffee with real cream. Powdered cream says “We hate you and don’t value your opinion.”

6. Ban all Crackberries, iPhones, Droids, distractions. If the meeting is not important enough for you to turn off your email – you don’t need to have the meeting.

I’m just sayin’

Now, I gotta go. I have a meeting at 7:30.

Recently I’ve been lamenting how hard it is being a grown up. Being a responsible, lawn mowing, car washing, tax paying, registered voter, insured motorist, credit worthy, law abiding citizen is a drag.

I long for the days when the most complicated decision was what kind of pizza topping you and your friends could agree on.

So last night our friend Loretta came by. Originally for cocktail hour. But after a fabulous Ketel One martini we decided we needed to order pizza. Delivery pizza because we’d been drinking. Now that we are adults with disposable income and sophisticated palettes, we had no idea who delivered. Mark suggested I Google it.  Two popped up. Domino’s (of course) and some local place called Bellagios.

It’s been so long since I’ve done this I had no idea that you can now order online! We loved it. We decided to go with Bellagio. Thinking globally and acting locally and all.

Their website was gorgeous and pretty easy to navigate, I entered my debit card number…done. They said I would get an email confirmation. Oh, and if I didn’t I had to call. What? That defeats the purpose of the online order. So we waited….while starting our second batch of martinis and queueing up the TiVo’d 30 Rock from Thursday night. No email. Dang.

We’ll go Domino’s then. Okay – their website kicks Bellagio’s crust. Not only does Domino’s tell you right then and there that you are good as gold, it has a pizza tracker. It shows you when it is being prepped, baked, quality checked and when the driver has left the building. And it was scary accurate.

In less than 30 minutes we had a piping hot pepperoni on our porch. Domino’s wins! And it wasn’t as bad as I remember.

But wait, just as we were mopping up the grease from the first piece, here comes the Bellagio car. And this is how we know we’re old responsible people. We felt like we should hide the Domino’s box. There was a moment of panic and nervous laughter, so I grabbed too much tip money and meet her on the porch. Guilt money.

Friday Night Pizza Wars Scorecard: Using the Net Promoter Score (of course) question:

On a scale of 0 – 10, How likely am I to recommend Domino’s to a friend, family member or colleague?

I’d give it a 9.


The website was so easy, the pizza came when promised, it was cheap and it did the job.

How likely am I to recommend Bellagios? The pizza was better, but the process was confusing. The pizza cost $7.00 more than Dominos – so you have to ask if it was $7.00 better. Not really. I’d give it a 5 for overall experience.

It’s Saturday morning and I have tons of leftover pizza in my fridge, all individually wrapped for freshness, pizza boxes properly placed in the recycle bin. I’m such an adult. Sigh……..

My oldest sister is living what I would consider “off the grid.” She does not have a land line, the internet or cable television. She doesn’t even own a car. She does have an iPhone and a MacBookPro however. She has a Netflix account and watches DVDs. She uses her iPhone to connect to Pandora and hooks it up to portable speakers. She checks email on the phone. I guess you could say she’s AT&T’s beeotch which is hardly off the grid,  but you get the idea.

It’s been fun to watch her make this transition. She’s saving a ton of money (which was her original driver) and has improved greatly the quality of her life. It’s very vogue in Portland, Oregon to live simply.

Last night I was having dinner with a dear friend and when the bill came he insisted on paying for the wine. How many times has this happened to you? You’re with a group of people, enjoying a wonderful meal and the bill comes and chaos ensues. Math is hard people and then there’s the tip and do they have cash, and who has change for a twenty and let’s just have the waiter split is two ways…..ugh. Instead, he asks if he can just “bump” us the money.

Sounds like fun! What the hell does that mean? It’s an iPhone app that accesses your PayPal account and let’s you easily send money immediately to your dining partner. It even does math for you by calculating tax and tip.

Granted, your PayPal account has to be attached to a checking account which means you’re still on the grid – BUT, this could completely eliminate the need for a debit card and certainly kill off the paper check for good if the technology is widely adopted.

I guess my point is this. Credit unions move people’s money. Period. For the most part we still rely on old school methods for achieving this. Bumping money with your iPhone is like toasting with a glass of champagne. It’s fun, it’s hip, it’s the future. We need to be a part of that future.

I’m in New Mexico this week getting some much needed sunshine. Yesterday I decided to Yelp restaurants in Albuquerque. Yep, Yelp is now a verb like Google.

Currently ranked number four in the city of Albuquerque by locals and tourists alike is Pho #1. A vietnamese restaurant. I love Pho (which is pronounced Fuh as in WTF this is the best soup in the world!)

If you’ve never had Pho, you have not lived. It’s medicinal and aromatic and gorgeous healthy goodness.  Since moving back to Portland, I’ve been on the quest for the best. My buddy Paul and my sister Daedre and I discovered a blog the Pho King. We too intend to invade this gastronimical world with fervor.

The Pho at Pho #1 is truly the best I’ve had so far. The reviews were spot on.

My point of this post, this could never have happened with traditional marketing. Not in Albuquerque, New Mexico where people travel for hundreds of miles to eat Hatch green chile and see the hot air balloons. Pho #1 couldn’t buy enough TV, radio or  billboards to drive traffic to their place. But now that the people have spoken, on a Friday night, prepare to wait.

If you’re still campaigning (begging) for business by screaming on the radio about how good you are, or buying bus wraps and full page ads in the local rag, why not take a page from Pho #1. Be the best and let your customers market for you.

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May 2010