1) Part of what makes a joke funny is that surprise we call a punchline. When you warn us it’s coming, it’s not a surprise anymore.
2) If the joke doesn’t pertain, you’re not breaking the ice; you’re delaying. (If it does pertain, skip the intro and make sure the first line of the joke is a grabber.)
3) You’ll tell it badly. (I know this because the only people who open with “I’d like to start off by telling a little joke” are people who can’t tell jokes.)
4) 47.3% of your audience have heard that one before.
5) If you don’t know how to engage your audience, no joke will save you. Step slowly away from the podium with your hands up.
The mindless wielding of colorful terms does little to enhance communication beyond illuminating the character of the wielder.
But in the right hands, the well-wielded colorful term conveys meaning in ways that so-called acceptable words are powerless to effect.
No one explains this better than my friend Jeff Wagg, founder and curator of the College of Curiosity. So click here, dammit.
Click above for a new, enlightening
look at four-letter words
- Addressing them as “Valued Customer” when you have their name in front of you
- Failing to read what they wrote
- Responding with form letters demonstrating that you haven’t read what they wrote
- Lapsing into silence when your form letters make things worse
in Customer Relations
I tried. Really I did. I gave it 2½ months. I’ve cooked burgers, hotdogs, sausage, and pork chops. But I just don’t like my Griddler Grill & Panini Press GR11.
I expected to love it, because I love my other Cuisinart products … the blender/food processor, the coffee grinder, and the egg cooker.
I have two specific complaints.
First, grease drips out of the back. The trough underneath doesn’t begin to trap it. Grease drips like mad if you turn the little legs in front to tilt it. I tried leaving it level, but that doen’t help. When I lift the top, grease drips from it to the counter. Call me slow, but I haven’t figured out how to place meat on it or remove it with opening the top.
(On a positive note, I like that the grills are removable and dishwasher safe.)
Second, it burns too hot. By the time a burger, hotdog or chop is cooked through, it’s burned on the outside. Sorry, but I had a better experience with your competitor’s product. It died after 15 years of faithful service, which is why I gave yours a try.
I attach photos of my receipts, the GR11, and my counter after a pair of burgers. Anything you can do for me?
Thank you for your inquiry. We are sorry to hear about the issue you are having with the unit. In order to properly assist you, we are in need of the 5 digit serial number from the bottom of the unit. We will also need to know whether or not this unit has been replaced previously. Please reply, with history, to this email, along with the color of the unit, and your complete shipping address. We invite you to call our Customer Service Department at 1-800-726-0190. Please keep in mind the Customer Service Agent will not have access to your e-mail information. The hours of operation are 7 AM -11 PM EST Monday through Friday and 9 AM - 5:30 PM on Saturdays and Sundays, excluding major holidays.
Cuisinart Customer Service Representative
The serial number is 41030. Its color is silver, with black plastic trim. The unit has never been replaced. I purchased it new from Spoons ’N Spice in Sandy, Utah, on the date shown on the receipt in my prior email. Thanks for looking into this.
Thank you for your inquiry. Based on the information you have provided, your (GR-11/41030) is within the limited warranty period and can be set up for replacement. However, our warranty does not include shipping and processing fees either way. Based on your specific product, your shipping and processing fees for us mailing out your new unit will be $10. We ask that you also cover the cost of shipping the defective unit to Cuisinart. We recommend that you use a traceable insured delivery service. If you are a California resident, a different procedure will be applied. Please reply with history to this email providing us your complete shipping information and contact phone number in the event UPS needs to contact you. Once we have received your mailing information a Service Notification number will be created and an e-mail will be sent back to you with instruction on how to proceed on returning your defective unit. Please make sure to include whether the address the unit is being shipped to is a house, apartment, business, suite, or lot. We will need to know this as UPS will be requesting it for delivery. If you prefer, we welcome you to call our Customer Service Department at 1-800-726-0190 with this information. Please keep in mind the Customer Service Agent will not have access to your e-mail information. The hours of operation are 7 AM -11 PM EST Monday through Friday and 9 AM - 5:30 PM on Saturdays and Sundays, excluding major holidays.
Cuisinart Customer Service Representative
Thanks for your note. Sorry for the confusion, but I don’t want a replacement. The unit is not defective as far as I can tell.
As a side note, I must point out that if the unit were defective and if I wanted a replacement, I would be displeased to have to shell out to ship it to Cuisinart plus fork over $10 to Cuisinart for shipping a replacement back to me. “Sorry the device is defective, our bad, so give us $10 plus spend another $10 on your own and we’ll take care of it.” Really, Cuisinart? I realize that you, [Name withheld], do not make policy, but I urge you to pass this message up the ladder on my behalf: That’s no way to treat a “valued” customer.
But since I don’t want a replacement, that’s moot. I want to be rid of the darned thing for good.
The problem is that I dislike the device with a passion. I dislike its design because it drips fat out the back and onto my counter. I dislike the temperature at which it cooks food, or, rather, at which it burns food. These appear not to be product defects, but design defects. So, would you advise that I just toss the darned thing in the trash, or is there anything Cuisinart might be willing to do for me?
Since each of the prior emails from Cuisinart opened with “Valued Customer” and not “Dear Steve,” I bet they’re form letters. I invested time in composing this and my prior emails. I would really appreciate it if someone would actually read them and, dare I suggest, actually respond to what I have written.
We apologize for any inconvenience you may have experienced. Based on the information you have provided, there is a limited warranty on your unit. Under that type of warranty, we cover the replacement of the unit; however the shipping is paid by the customer. We apologize for any misunderstanding concerning the warranty. What we can do as a ***One Time Only Courtesy***, is we can waive the $10 fee. If this is agreeable, please reply, with all previous correspondences attached, to this email. We invite you to call our Customer Service Department at 1-800-726-0190. Please keep in mind the Customer Service Agent will not have access to your e-mail information. The hours of operation are 7 AM -11 PM EST Monday through Friday and 9 AM - 5:30 PM on Saturdays and Sundays, excluding major holidays.
Cuisinart Customer Service Representative
Thanks for writing. I DO NOT WANT, NOR DID I EVER AT ANY TIME REQUEST, A REPLACEMENT. Sorry about resorting to all caps. I felt it needful because no one seems to have troubled to have read my emails before replying. Please have a look at them, and then let me know what you can do for me. Thank you.
Alas, I never heard back. That’s okay. I now have a new brand preference for products that don’t have the Cuisinart logo.
Enough with the R word.
Get rid of it.
Since I am neither a football fan nor Native American, some have asked what right I have to weigh in. What an odd question. I am a human being.
Here’s one way never
to say “my mistake”
This was before desktop publishing. You made rough layouts by sketching photos, hand-lettering headlines, and drawing horizontal lines to represent body copy. You submitted actual copy on a separate, typewritten sheet. The idea was to make changes before incurring the expenses of taking photos, setting type, and pasting everything onto an art board.
Clearly, this was her first rodeo, so I wasn’t even tempted to adopt a you’re-an-idiot tone. I simply explained that this was the industry standard and why.
Embarrassed at her naïveté—she needn’t have been—she apologized profusely for having screamed at me. Ha ha, just kidding. With enough frigidity to leave a layer of frost on my phone’s handset, she said, “It’s not very professional.”
She went on to a great career.
The Big, Bogus Business of Marketing
Vitamins and Supplements
Making people mad is regrettable collateral damage. My goal is to reach people who are open to facts so they can quit wasting money on not improving and possibly worsening their health.
The vitamin and supplement industry is one of our nation’s oldest and most successful scams. It is immensely profitable, not because the products are needful or deliver the promised benefit, but because the public has been duped into believing they are and do.
An instance of great information shared via comedy
No need for me to go on when you can just as well click the PLAY arrow on the video (above, right). Don’t be put off by the fact that it’s from Comedy Central. The information is solid.
Want to dig deeper? Click on these links to the highly readable,
Science-Based Medicine blog:
“Should I Take a Multivitamin?
Harriett Hall, MD: “You can find all sorts of studies and speculations suggesting that various supplements are good for you, but when you stick to rigorous science, the evidence just isn’t there ...” Read Dr. Hall’s post by clicking here.
Another Negative Study of Vitamins
Steven Novella, MD: “It’s difficult for people to come to a bottom-line conclusion – should they take vitamin supplements or not ... Well – it’s complicated. But there is large body of research to help inform our decisions about vitamins. Now, the largest study to date has been published ...” Read Dr. Novella’s post by clicking here.
“Safe” Dietary Supplements Can Land You in the Emergency Room
David Gorsky, MD, PhD: “When the analysis was done, on the basis of 3,667 cases identified in the database, Geller et al. calculated an average of 23,005 emergency room visits for adverse events related to supplements and further estimated a 2,154 yearly hospitalizations ...” Read Dr. Gorsky’s post by clicking here.
“Prenatal Multivitamins and Iron: Not Evidence-Based
Harriet Hall, MD: When I was pregnant, I obediently took the iron pills and prenatal vitamins prescribed by my obstetrician. And I prescribed them for every pregnant patient I took care of as a family physician. I never questioned the practice. It seemed intuitively obvious … I have long since learned that even the most reasonable assumptions can be wrong … Read Dr. Hall’s post by clicking here.
The One Thing You Need to Know Before You Detox
Scott Gravura, BScPhm, MBA, RPh: “Detox” is a legitimate medical term that has been co-opted to sell useless products and services. It is a fake treatment for a fake condition. Real detoxification isn’t ordered from a menu at a juice bar, or assembled from supplies in your pantry. Real detoxification is provided ...” Read Dr. Graruva’s post by clicking here.
If had I known a little less, I would have enjoyed the flyer more
INSATIABLE CURIOSITY is a must to be a good ad writer. Or, for that matter, a good writer of any sort. Uninformed writers, who abound, are doomed to spin trivialities and clichés.
Still, even I admit that there are times when insatiable curiosity can spoil all the fun.
Take, for instance, a flyer I received today from the American Advertising Federation-Utah (that’s the flyer on the right), inviting me to view Gold Pencil award-winning work. The flyer is a delightful parody of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s well-known Five Stages of Grief.
I enjoyed the flyer, but I would have enjoyed it a good deal more were it not for damned, insatiable curiosity. You see, some years ago said curiosity led me to stumble upon the fact that the whole Five Stages of Grief thing was pure speculation on Kubler-Ross’s part, and is not at all supported by evidence.
Lucky thing it wasn’t my job to write the flyer. I’d have felt compelled to reject the idea. Or to add a joy-killing footnote.
The One Club touts the Gold Pencil as “the ultimate symbol of creative excellence.” I suppose that relegates the Clio, Cannes Lion, Communication Arts Annual, and ADDY to no better than penultimate. Tough luck if one of those is all that graces your shelf.
Marketing the candidate
But now that we’re grownups voting in national elections, we aren’t dealing with popularity contests anymore.
That is, if we use our heads.
We humans tend to like black-and-white. We have little patience for mottled hues, nuances, contingencies, histories, ins and outs, underlying factors, and agendas. We don’t like being told that economies and international relations are chaotic and not perfectly predictable. We want decisive policies that can be summed up in sound bites.
In a world where nuanced, informed, thought-out answers do not fare well, one can hardly blame the candidates for oversimplifying issues — and focusing on their brand.
“Focusing on their brand” is another way of saying “trying to get us to like them.” Welcome back to high school.
This has been driven home to me when I have said, “I suspect that I would personally dislike So-and-so, however, I support the greater part of So-and-so’s platform, and I believe that So-and-so is a skillful politician and is likely to be effective.” The statement is usually met with horror. How can you vote for someone you personally dislike? Never mind, apparently, the part about platform and effectiveness.
Much as I would love to rid politics of brand marketing, it cannot be done. Slick commercials, flatulent slogans, silly buttons, and obnoxious hats are but part of it. Platform planks, speaking style, well-honed sound bites, speeches, appearance, grooming, dress, TV appearances, where to and not to stump, and more—all of these are elements of brand marketing, too.
If we’re not careful, and often we are not, we risk choosing a candidate the way we choose peanut butter, that is, by unthinkingly favoring a candidate only because we respond favorably to that candidate’s image. We can do better. With an open mind and a bit of work, we can begin to look past the brand, get a better handle on the nuances, and cast better informed votes.
I have ended up with the wrong peanut butter based on brand advertising. Ending up with the wrong candidate is worse.
If you call it a loyalty program, it isn’t.
(Plus: How really to create loyalty)
For one thing, competent marketers know better than to focus messaging on what they want to say or sell, but rather to focus on what their customers want to hear or buy. I can assure you that nowhere on the Things Customers Want to Hear or Buy List will you find, “To give you my loyalty.”
For another, I bet that your program gives customers points toward freebies in return for buying from you. The idea is that they’ll spend more dollars more often in order to build up points.1 I admit to pedantry here, but that’s not a loyalty program. It’s a frequency and rewards program.2
Increased frequency and spend are not the same thing as loyalty.
Come on. You’re not building loyalty. You’re bribing customers to return. No need to take exception at my invoking the B word. Bribing customers is a perfectly legitimate marketing tactic when we’re not talking about politicians. American Express Rewards, Marriott Rewards, Delta SkyMiles and others make an art of it. But if you think a bribed customer is a loyal customer, just wait until a competitor comes along and offers a richer bribe.
Truly loyal customers are loath to leave you. It’s more emotional than rational. That makes it hard to measure, but not hard to spot. Look no further than the number of Apple customers who steadfastly resist opportunities to save money on arguably equally capable, non-Apple products.3 Or the number of Harley riders who would rather die than be seen perched atop anything other than a Hog.4 Apple, I might point out, has no loyalty or rewards program. Harley-Davidson offers rewards for online purchases and through a cobranded Visa Rewards credit card. These may increase spend on gifts and accessories, but in no way do they lie at the root of Harley’s fierce biker loyalty.
Apple-esque, Harley-esque, and Garcia-esque loyalty does not flow from any sort of program. It flows from delivering a consistent, uncommonly positive experience.
Want loyal customers? First try being loyal to them.
2 Don’t call it that, either. At least, not just that. “Rewards” has become generic. Come up with a name that will make real customers (not the customers you fantasize that you have) want to take a closer look.
3 I number among them.
4 Someday I hope to number among them, too.