PAUL AND SARAH EDWARDS: LIFESTYLES FOR THE MILLENNIUM
Certainly, piquing curiosity, as this sign did, is vital
Paul & Sarah for any marketing effort, but few folks are going to
www.call a number just to find out what a company offers.
middleclasslifeboat. However, as we began perusing the Web and looking
com) are the authors of for vehicle signs on the road, we noticed they often
Middle Class Lifeboat exhibit this same mistake: fancy, colorful graphics
16 other small- that tend to overshadow or bury their message.
business books. There are striking exceptions. One is a white
Austin Ice Cream Festival van with a fabricated
Signs of success strawberry ice cream cone on the roof that appears
to be melting over the sides, with key info that
“DINGO JUMPER,” read the brightly colorful sign leads us to a great Web site. Another is an old-
on the side of car inching by us in the service line. fashioned truck that belongs to Masseys Integrated
It caught our attention. Landscape Design of Middleton, Wisconsin, with
In a tight or contracting economy, what better a small living garden planted on each side of the
way than a vehicle sign to get wooden truck bed.
new business while lowering A winning vehicle sign
your marketing costs. You can doesn’t have to be elaborate or
get business coming to you “What better
highly unusual. The vehicle sign
without any extra effort every- way than a ... used by Dayton, Ohio’s Around
where you go in the course of Town Errand Service is simple
your daily life. sign to get but has all the needed elements
But Dingo Jumper? What of a good sign: company name;
did that mean? Was it a busi- new business.” an engaging, explanatory tag
ness? If so, what kind? Were line, “Not enough time in the
they breeding wild Australian day? Call us for list of services”;
jumping dogs, offering bungee-jumping sessions, the phone number; and, most important these
jumping dead batteries, selling a line of dresses, days, the Web site URL. All on a three-color,
providing parachuting adventures, training horses 12-by-24-inch magnet sign.
for competition or advertising a suicide help line? So, keep it simple and attractive, send a clear
There was a phone number over the flashy graph- message about what you offer, include a phone
ics, but no Web site. By the time we got through number and Web site, and a vehicle sign can be a
wondering what it was, the car had passed great way to get business with little cost in either
through the line. time or money. C
WHEN COSTCO member Steven S. Little travels—
and, as a noted speaker, consultant and writer on
business growth, he does so frequently—he maintains a positive attitude, despite the frustratio ns of
modern travel. The reward: a vanilla milkshake
when he reaches his destination. It was on
one of those trips that Little discovered
what he would write about in The
Milkshake Moment: Overcoming Stupid
Systems, Pointless Policies, and Muddled
Management to Realize Real Growth
(available on costco.com).
Calling hotel room service to claim
his “prize,” Little learned they did not have
a milkshake on the menu. He could order a
bowl of ice cream and a half glass of milk to
make his own, but the “system” did not
enable the employee to put the two together.
Stupid system, milkshake moment.
The book offers practical advice in an
engaging, humorous style to break down barriers to growth. Little points out five key
Stupid is as stupid does
1. Foster “grow” versus status quo. The drive for
organizational conformity can cause the loss of a
moral compass or an ability to think rationally about
achieving real, sustainable growth.
2. Put purpose before profit. The
purpose of any organization is to
identify and fill the relevant needs
of those it serves.
3. Solve the “people problem” problem. Focus on creating an environment where employees can thrive.
4. “Insource” crucial judgment. Outsourcing might work
for certain routine tasks, such
as payroll, but keep the most
important functions inside the
organization to tap the collective
5. Care for customers. Focus
on growth by removing self-imposed
barriers that keep employees from
truly delivering. C
THE IMPORTANCE of customer service cannot be overstated. Doing something
distinctive can establish an
identity and trust. Here and in
coming issues, The Connection
will highlight unique ideas
that might work for you.
When Marc Hedlund and
Jason Knight founded Wesabe.
com, an online social networking site for managing finances
and pooling information to help
members make better financial
decisions, they knew there
would be concerns about security and other issues. Hedlund
might help if
to the CEO to
company”s firs t
CEO, jumped at the suggestion. From day one in November 2006, he took calls from
noon to 4 p.m. daily, seven
days a week.
Hedlund is now the CEO
and continues the practice,
saying, “How could you learn
better how to lead a company
than by talking to people who
come to the site and want to
He admits that some people call just to see if someone
will answer. “It’s still important for me to do it just to say,
‘Yes, this is real. We really
The practice has paid off.
According to Hedlund, “We
have over 100,000 users on
the site, with a healthy number coming back. It’s a
strong community.” C
Got a unique approach
to customer service? See
Dialogue on page 7 on
how to get your story in