Sign up for Quarterly-Awesomeness

Do you want a newsletter of condensed coolness delivered direct to your inbox every three months? Sign up here!

It’s a fire hose of information nowadays; Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook. All this information from all over the world can be a bit overwhelming. What’s the best of the best?

To help solve for this I now publish a quarterly newsletter (sign up link) to help us stay in touch, connect more deeply and share with you the 7 things I’ve loved most in the past three months.

You are guaranteed to get ONE awesome quote from an epic person of history and SIX items of content, people, apps, book reviews, blog or photography recommendations. It’s based on the things I’ve stumbled across or published and have loved the most.

I hope you will sing up for this distilled awesome sauce and enjoy reading it once a quarter. Sign up now!

You are irrational

(We all are) I just wrote about the book “Predictably Irrational” by Dan Ariely over on LinkedIn (here is my review). I loved how Ariely led into the book with his own personal story having been badly hurt and disfigured as a young man. I’m a sucker for good storytelling.

I’ve been a fan of the importance of emotions in decisions making for some time and Ariely lays out some pretty clear arguments for why this is more important than ever. Especially for those of us in business, in particular for marketers.

What do Green Eggs and Ham have to do with modern business?

This photo was taken at New Belgium Brewing HQ in Fort Collins Colorado. It’s the journal written by now ex-owner and founder Jeff Lebesch. In his travels across Europe where he gained inspiration for his nascent brewing business and captured those stories within. When you visit New Belgium you are struck by the pervasive use of storytelling and story making employed to communicate the businesses history, growth and modern incarnation.

On Friday I published a LinkedIN article “How to hire a Chief Storyteller” in it I use the example of the message “hidden” inside Dr. Seuss’ children’s classic Green Eggs & Ham.

Stories are the language of human communication. From the camp fire to the modern advertisement the best persuasive communication are stories.

That doesn’t mean we communicate in stories 100% of the time. There is a time and a place for cold hard facts, strategic messaging and even debate.

That being said storytelling is a critical part of our communications tool box and every company needs a Chief Storyteller to be responsible for forging, wielding and maintaining this important tool.

Growth Hacker Marketing

If you are over the age of 27 and want to feel like an underachiever read this book. Ryan Holiday takes you on a journey from being VP of Mrketing at American Apparel,where apparently his days started quite leisurely and involved a steam room, to the bleeding edge of business growth.

The book is more about the mindset of Growth Hacking than anything else. And there is where it shines. Whilst many of it’s explicit examples are squarely targeted at the world of start ups the lessons are universal.

Holiday cracks open marketing with an analytical bent, challenges traditional thinking, mixes in an accelerated view of product development, product market fit and how to do so with a questioning, scientific mindset.

At it’s crux growth hacking is about using all tools at your disposal to grow a business. Marketing traditionally has been about generating future demand. And gets hung up on intangibles like awareness and branding. Growth Hacker Marketing brings the demand generation into the now and the modern technology platform of the web and social help facilitate that in ways that don’t look or feel like traditional marketing. But they still grow the business.

It’s a fun read, packed full of good references and examples. Additionally Ryan goes to the additional mile to share his recommendations for other great reads and next steps to get you on your way.

So you are about to become a mother*

*Father’s too… but, well you didn’t have to deal with the pregnancy. No, shut up, you didn’t.

Read this post as if Jim Gaffigan were reading it. Specifically as if he were reading it like he was reading his book; Dad is Fat. Which my beautiful wife and best friend gave me for Xmas. If you don’t know who Jim Gaffigan is (most people in England for example) he’s an American comedian and is rather funny.

Every time a friend or colleague is in the run up to becoming a parent I share a few quips with them about the journey they are about to embark on. Both to impart my vast and seasoned experience as a parent which I can leverage to make me look important but also, and mainly, to pass on good advice I received pre-fatherhood. All advice which I can report back from the battle field that… yup… it’s all true.

On to the quips.

Pregnancy is fraught with concern and worry. The good news is it doesn’t last forever. The Pregnancy that is. The bad news is that it’s just preparing you for the concern and worry of parenthood. This will only last for for approximately the rest of your life.

Parenthood is one of life’s most unique experiences. It is in fact the original, unique experience. Net to finding a good cave to have the baby in.

Parenthood is one of the hardest things to do. Trumped only by pregnancy and giving birth. It is by far the most amazing, rewarding, delightful, love filled, “I feel like my heart can’t get any bigger” thing any human can do. Your life is about to change FOREVER in the most amazing ways.

Also you won’t get any sleep any more. But luckily pregnancy has been getting you ready for that.

Make the most of your life now. It will be gone come the arrival of your little one. It’ll be amazing and different, of course. It’s just that your old life will be a closed chapter. Get out, go on some dates, see a movie or two in the cinema for the last time in the next five years. Enjoy the end of this chapter so you are ready to throw yourself head long into the next one.

Get ready for the adventure!

Why you should buy a Keurig

Edit: Imagine my horror today when I discovered one of the main reasons we hated the Vue was *still a problem* with the product Keurig sent to replace. The problem**: they added DRM to their 2.0 coffee machines! Not to fear, you can get around the problem http://www.keurighack.com/ Plus coffee + starwars, let’s just say the video is a fun watch regardless. And here is some CNN Money coverage of the topic.

**Not being in the market I hadn’t researched the product offered to me by Keurig. I still can’t fault their stellar customer service.

AKA how Keurig just made me a customer for life.

Put simply: they know how to turn frustration into an amazing customer experience.

In more detail;

We had purchased a Keurig about 6 months ago. My wife saw a “great deal” on Groupon for a fancy new “Vue”. We had loved our original Keurig machine. We discovered it via a friend. He loved his and when we visited we enjoyed it for the whole weekend. We *had* to get one. So we did. The K-cups were reasonably priced and there was a whole ecosystem around them. Third party brands, different types of coffee. You name it.

The “Vue” was none of that. Oh, yeah, it had the same benefits as far as automation is concerned, and some fancy new features. However within a few minutes of opening the box we discovered to our horror, the cups were different. Wait. What? Different? Why would they do this*. We had been conditioned by Keurig to think the K-cups were Keurig. We never expected a different cup. An incompatible cup. Cups that are hard to come by, are quite a lot more expensive, and in our case Costco never seemed to sell.

*to differentiate, add value and innovate and to their credit try be more ‘green’. Unfortunately in this case it seems to have back fired. The Vue doesn’t appear to have been well received, or successful and never really got great reviews.

This mornings caffeine related needs were the straw that broke the camels back. I decided to tweet my frustration, as I sipped a cup of English breakfast tea. Don’t be fooled, I was enjoying my tea. I love my tea. I love my coffee too.

The tweets;

coffee

They replied. Then DM’d. Seven hours later I had a phone call. With a very kind offer. 60% of a “Keurig 2.0” system <reels of list of features>. When pressed he offered to throw in two free boxes of coffee. I expressed my appreciation but that frankly at $70 added to the $70+ I spent on the “Vue” that I wasn’t really a happy customer still. It was ‘ok’ but I didn’t want to spend any more money on a company and products I didn’t feel great about, at that time. I suggested that I would continue sharing my experiences and that I’d be more than happy to return the old unit to Keurig in exchange for a replacement, a “2.0” if you will. I’m not out to scam any one. I just want an awesome automated coffee maker. And to do business with great companies.

After asking for the serial number the nice chap on the phone asked if I minded being put on hold. Several minutes later he returned, and, voila. Keurig agreed that for the return of the ‘brew head’ from our “Vue” they would send me a “2.0” which is now on it’s way to us and should be here in 5-7 business days.

And that leads us to this post.

The reason why this matters is, put simply, as follows; In today’s customer centric economy there are simply too many options for you to afford losing any customers. Let alone treating customers in a way that will result in them bashing them to their friends, and quite frankly their thousands of twitter followers, LinkedIn contacts and Facebook friends. You have to aim for AMAZING. “Good” is just that, it’s OK, it’s good, it’s as our friends in the valley so like to say “table stakes”. It doesn’t retain you, it certainly doesn’t make you loyal and you as a customer are primed to jump ship at a moments notice… Good isn’t good enough, not any more.

If you want to be REMARKable, to be REMARKED upon in a positive manner in this highly connected over saturated world where opinions matter and spread like wild fire then you have to aim to create AMAZING customer experiences.

Kudos to Keurig. They just won a customer for life. And I’m happy to share this experience with you.

What was your best recent customer service experience? Or worst? What did it leave you feeling? What was the outcome? What was the company involved?

Knock knock. Who’s there? Crappy Marketing. Crappy Marketing who? Just crappy marketing.

I just waxed lyrical on this subject over on LinkedIn in “Creating marketing that doesn’t suck”.

What I’m driving at is that marketing that just served brands has a limited shelf life, and much of it is festering. Marketing that also has value in and of itself, for the customer, is what modern marketing is increasingly looking like.

Do you ever feel sold to, even by the shorter, cutesy, more entertaining advertisements? We all do and that is the crux of the issue. The best marketing and advertising crops up for you when it is most relevant and helpful to you. The challenge for all marketers is creating the right content and finding the best places to put it so that can happen.

When marketers do that, marketing doesn’t suck.

I go into more detail here.