Best-Selling Author & Retailer Team Up (Want a signed copy of Lift?)

Monday, 8 March 2010 10:21 by kpotvin

While we didn’t make it to the Oscars this weekend, my friend Robin and I did hear author Kelly Corrigan read from her new book, Lift.  A benefit for the American Cancer Society, it was an intimate group and Kelly had us laughing and crying as she told personal stories and read excerpts from her original best-seller, The Middle Place,  and her likely soon-to-be hit, Lift.

You may have read my blog post back in December 2008 -- I had just seen a very moving video on YouTube, a reading by Kelly from The Middle Place and had a feeling this video would take off.  I tracked the “hit” progress.  In less than 24 hours, the video climbed from 4,000 views to 16,000.  Today, more than 4.5 million people have watched it and The Middle Place is a New York Times best-seller.  From the connection Kelly had with her audience – and what I’ve read so far (the book is in the form of a letter to her young daughters) -- it looks like Lift will also soar.

One marketing strategy I find extremely interesting is her partnership with retailer Talbots.  Kelly was featured along with nine other women in a spread in the recent catalogue showcasing how ordinary women integrate one great piece (from Talbots) into their wardrobe for a signature look.  Additionally, on her book tour, Kelly is giving a number of readings in Talbots stores.  It seems like a win-win for both:  driving traffic to the stores and selling books.  They pegged the demo -- I know for a fact there were at least a few Talbots shoppers at the reading we attended.  And, a little fun fact:  Kelly revealed she has a small but “tasteful” tattoo on her ankle which, by intent, you will not see in the Talbot’s catalogue. 

What cross-marketing initiatives are working for you?

P.S.  I have a signed copy of Lift I’d love to share.  Interested?  Post a comment here with your favorite method for firing up your creative side (some of mine:  scanning a paper/magazine, talking to a stranger, taking a walk).  Tomorrow morning, we’ll randomly pick a winner from those who posted comments here or on the Splash Facebook Fan page (we welcome you to join if you haven’t).  Good luck!

Here's a shot of Kelly and Kyle at the reading.

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Simple Leadership Lessons from The Senator

Thursday, 3 September 2009 04:20 by kpotvin

In a recent blog post, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, author of SuperCorp: How Vanguard Companies Create Innovation, Profits, Growth, and Social Good, draws four important leadership lessons from her observations and time with the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy:

·         Remember that performance is everything

·         Find a higher purpose

·         Keep going (resilience)

·         Never forget family

The beauty of these four lessons is their simplicity.  Life -- and business -- doesn’t have to be complicated.  I encourage you to read Professor Kanter’s entire piece.

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When Is The Last Time You Surprised Your Customers?

Friday, 31 July 2009 13:49 by kpotvin

Earlier this week, I posted a story from The New York Times about new research showing that Americans appreciate free stuff, like a surprise cup of coffee.

Well, yesterday, I got surprise brownies (last post about brownies for awhile, I promise) and they made my day.  The package came from one of my favorite places:  Dancing Deer Baking Company as a thank you for filling out a survey for them.  Now I am a long-time admirer and customer of Dancing Deer.  Not only do they offer delicious all-natural goodies but they know how to build a brand.  I love their products, philanthropy and personality so when the recent survey came across my desk, I was happy to oblige for no other reason than that I want to see them prosper.

They didn’t have to do a thing as follow up.  In fact, I forgot I even filled out the survey.  Yet they used this simple gesture to solidify a relationship with a good customer.  Thanks Sarah Nichols and all The Deers for a sweet treat!

What are surprising ways that you can share the love with your customers? 

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News Splash Interview: How To Write A Book When You Have A Full Time Job

Wednesday, 17 June 2009 11:38 by kpotvin
 

 

This News Splash interview is with Tim McIntyre, Vice President, Communications, Domino’s Pizza, and co-author with Dave Melton of “Hire The American Dream, How to Build Your Minimum-Wage Workforce into a High-Performance, Customer-Focused Team.” Not only is Tim an exceptional writer but he is also one of the best PR professionals and corporate spokespeople out there.  By the way, I’ve seen Dave Melton’s teams in action and they are phenomenal – learn his secrets by reading “Hire the American Dream” – it’s relevant for anyone who manages teams.

News Splash (NS):  Tell us about “Hire the American Dream.”

Tim: Dave Melton [Domino’s Franchisee] has built a culture in his four Manhattan Domino’s stores seldom found in the quick serve industry. This is an industry where 150% turnover is typical and managers are replaced yearly in many restaurants. In Dave’s case, his average employee stays 8 years and managers average 6 years. When there has been turnover of managers, it was because the manager went on to become a store owner like Dave. Dave creates this culture by sharing his business philosophy and successes, and reinforcing that everyone wins when the store succeeds. This is a how-to book which shows that anyone can build this type of culture.

NS:  Dave asked you several times to help him write this book and you turned him down at first.  How come?

Tim: An editor from John Wiley & Sons saw an article about Dave in The New York Times and called him to say, “I think you have a book here for managers of entry-level, minimum wage employees.”  Dave came to me, said he had a book deal and asked me if I wanted to help write it.  I turned him down. I have a day job and it’s a pretty busy one. Besides, Dave lives in New York City – swing a pizza bag and you’ll hit a writer. I thought he could easily find a writing partner there. Dave approached me a second and then a third time, and said, “You know who I am. You know Domino’s. Let’s do this together.” I proposed the idea to my boss, Lynn Liddle, and Dave Brandon, Domino’s CEO, and said that if I participate, we will have an accurate portrayal of Domino’s Pizza and be involved in the final outcome. It can also help with recruiting and franchising as well as improve internal operations. I also outlined how I’d do it along with my job. They gave their full support.

NS:  How did you find time to write a book while working full time?

Tim: We had 12 weeks to turn in 60,000 words. We started in June 2008 and the full manuscript was due the day after Labor Day. I did a lot of writing at night, on weekends, on airplanes and on vacation. Dave provided me with a constant stream of ideas and insights into his business philosophies, how he manages people and how he’s built a culture for his stores. It was a matter of taking those gems and turning them into a manuscript. I came in to the office by 7 am before it opened, at lunch I’d pick up the project and then again at the end of the day. I had a supportive boss and family. I have the benefit of having older kids so I didn’t have to attend events like Little League games. I literally looked at the calendar and found chunks of time for writing. I never want to do that again. If I have another book in me, I’d write most of it before approaching a publisher. Then I would spend that time polishing instead of writing.

NS:  What did you learn about publishing during the process that could help others interested in writing a business book?

Tim: First, publishers like Wiley are looking for books that others can learn from. They like lesson books, not biographies. We always had to keep in mind: Will this help anyone? Is this useable stuff? That’s why we focused so much on offering practical tips on exactly what to do and how to do it. That was also the driving force behind the profiles of people who started as minimum wage employees but are now incredibly successful. For instance, Emir Lopez from East Harlem who worked for Dave had an opportunity to “escape” from his upbringing but he chose to go back and bring Domino’s to the neighborhood he grew up in. He saw opportunity that others didn’t – he knew the neighborhood and that people were hungry for a company to provide the same services that other communities enjoy. He was the first to bring food delivery to the neighborhood and the store has thrived. Our goal was to write a book with value on every page and tell inspiring stories like this.

I also learned the importance of Chapter 1. When someone is in a bookstore with their latte, they look at the front cover, the back cover, and then flip to Chapter 1. We wrote and rewrote that chapter four times because we were constantly pushed by Wiley on that first piece. It makes or breaks the sale.

NS:  There is nothing like a trip to gain perspective.  You just got back from an amazing trip to Machu Picchu.  Any epiphanies?

Tim:  Four days hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu was the most physically exhausting – and the most exhilarating – thing I’ve ever done. On day two, we walked (and walked!) up and over “Dead Woman’s Pass,” more than 13,000 feet above sea level, carrying packs on our backs. It felt like cinder blocks had been attached to our hiking boots. The air is thin and the trail is steep. At the same time, we were reveling in the incredible beauty of Peru and were marveling at the technological advances of the Inca people; it distracted us from the physical struggle of the trek. Traveling like this opens you up to the world, to new points of view and to different perspectives on history.  But if there was an epiphany, it was this:  you can overcome challenges if you’ve got the passion, the will and the tools to do so…whether those challenges are hiking the Inca Trail, writing a book in three months or something even more meaningful. You really can do things you didn’t think were possible.  All you have to do is try.

 

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I love hoops&yoyo

Friday, 5 June 2009 11:50 by kpotvin

Anyone else find Hallmark's line of hoops&yoyo cards hilarious?  If you aren't familiar with the line, there are two characters -- a pink kitty and a green bunny who offer spirited back and forth on a variety of subjects.  Listen to some of their banter here.  My first job out of college was with a division of American Greetings and there weren't too many variations on the traditional greeting card back then.  At that point, sending a HUUUGE card was a novelty (oops, did I date myself?).  The card world has come a long way with innovations like e-cards, voice recording and sound technology to keep customers coming.  And the marketing has come a long way too.  hoops&yoyo not only have their own web site but they have a blog.  Guess we'll see them on Twitter soon.

 

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Sweat the Details

Monday, 18 May 2009 18:43 by kpotvin

This weekend, we visited Patriot Place, the new shopping and entertainment center next to Gillette Stadium (home of the New England Patriots) in Foxborough, Mass.  Our friend, Graham Silliman, just opened a new restaurant there called Tavolino Pizza Gourmet.  We love his first restaurant, Siena, on the Cape and were anxious to try this one.   

To start, let me say this isn’t a restaurant review (although the food and service were impeccable); this is a post about the importance of paying attention to detail.  Every single element of the room was well thought out and beautiful: the layered window treatments, the distinctive chandeliers, the flat screen TVs (unobtrusive yet everywhere) and even the chartreuse tile work in the bathrooms. 

I asked Graham about this and he said, “I sweated the details.  We wanted it to feel like a finished space, not a stage set.”  He added that a comfortable place needs to have dimension provided by color and texture.  “While no one may articulate it that way,” he said, “dimension is what drives people to say, ‘I feel good coming here.’” 

Branding is all about detail – packaging, web site, stationery, retail displays, customer service and so much more.  Whether you are opening a restaurant or selling a product, “sweating the details” will help your brand stand out and attract your target audience.

If you want some first-hand inspiration, don’t miss Tavolino’s Grand Opening party and ribbon cutting ceremony on Wed., May 20, 4pm-6pm.  You can sample menu items and all proceeds from the bar will be donated to The Foxborough Touchdown Club.

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What's In A Name?

Tuesday, 5 May 2009 14:52 by kpotvin

This is the tale of a cracker and a new name.  I am a Triscuit® fan.  This simple whole wheat cracker has gotten me through early morning flights, afternoon hunger pangs and two pregnancies.  My favorite variety is low sodium – not because of any health mandate but because a hint of salt seems just right.  But alas!  My crackers disappeared from the supermarket shelf.  I looked and I asked, but all I heard from my grocer was that they were discontinued.  I tried other flavors but they were too salty or flavorful for a quick snack.  I gave up hope (well, not really, I still checked the shelf every week).  Then a few weeks ago I spotted a new Triscuit box in the lineup:  Hint of Salt. 

Brilliant!  Instead of a clinical moniker – low sodium – that smacks of reductionism, my favorite cracker relaunched with a name that enticingly offers something extra.  Instead of losing something (salt), I am receiving (a hint of salt).  Time will tell if this tweak bolsters sales but Nabisco has one happy customer right here.

The right name can transform a product…or focus a marketing campaign…or help raise the odds on a horse (but that’s another story).  

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April Fool's Day: Next Google Prank?

Wednesday, 1 April 2009 06:34 by kpotvin
Google's one big prankster.  For years, the company has come up with clever pranks that build their brand - with a chuckle.  (Think G-mail Custom Time!) What's on for today?  Get ready for Cognitive Autoheuristic Distributed-Intelligence Entity (CADIE) -- darn, outed by cnet.  Think April Fool's Day can bolster your brand?  Fast Company highlights ten recent classics.  Check them out. 

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Old is the New New (huh?)

Thursday, 26 March 2009 12:46 by kpotvin

In my BODYPUMP™ class (weight training to music), our instructor informed us she would be using "old music" so I was ready for rockin' 70s or 80s tunes.  Until she added, "These songs were popular about six months ago."  Wow.  That's a new definition for old.  That made me think of what that means in terms of new products.  A marketing piece in The New York Times earlier this week by Stuart Elliott was headlined, "A Strategy When Times Are Tough:  It's New!"  Contrary to what you might think, a recession can be a good time to announce a new product.  "One reason to stay the course on new products is that they can offer marketers new reasons to reach out to consumers when the impulse may be to pull back," writes Mr. Elliott.  Not to mention new products can bring in important revenue.  This strategy is echoed in Harvard Business Review's article, "How to Market in a Downturn" by John A. Quelch and Katherine E. Jocz.  They advise marketers to "contain costs" but say, "Companies that put customer needs under the microscope, take a scalpel rather than a cleaver to the marketing budget, and nimbly adjust strategies, tactics, and product offerings in response to shifting demand are more likely than others to flourish both during and after a recession."  So when "old is the new new" (or is it "new is the new old?"), now is the time to keep the new product pipeline full and marketing efforts engaged so your brand stays top-of-mind with consumers now and when the economy rebounds. 

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Word of Mouth - A Test

Wednesday, 10 December 2008 09:15 by kpotvin

We've all seen it happen -- the video that travels around the world, gathering viewers as it is passed from person to person.  This can happen with an inspiring call to action like Randy Pausch's "The Last Lecture" or a tongue-in-cheek battle cry like Sarah Silverman's "The Great Schlep."  A friend sent me a video yesterday that moved me enough to forward it to five other friends (an action typically banned by this group!) and I started to wonder if others felt the urge to pass it along too.  So I did a little test and here's what I found:  After just 19 hours, viewership of the video on YouTube grew from 4,000 to 16,000.  In less than half an hour this morning, more than 1,000 people viewed the piece.  Here are the stats:

Dec. 9, 2008, 4:15pm - 4,070 viewers on YouTube

Dec. 9, 5:04pm - 6,004 viewers

Dec. 9, 8:54pm - 8,110 viewers

Dec. 10, 7:41am - 14,514 viewers

Dec. 10, 10:31am-15,535 viewers

Dec. 10, 10:57am - 16,692 viewers

So how does this apply to marketers?  It shows once again that you need to create an emotional attachment with your audience and you don't do this by just talking about your product.  In this case, author Kelly Corrigan doesn't mention her book in the video clip but you can bet sales for "The Middle Place" will shoot up.  In your own business, what is the greater connection to your product?  How can you help busy mothers provide nutrition to their kids?  How can you educate consumers about gasoline so that they see it as more than a commodity?  So, talk about more than your product's specs.  Offer information that educates or entertains and you just might have the next viral video.

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