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Deeper Weekend 2014

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Marketing and Branding

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  • Adrian Simmons
    Adrian Simmons
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    Bryan Coleman
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    Greg Kyte
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    Ian Crook
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    Jason Blumer
  • Jennifer Blumer
    Jennifer Blumer
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    Scott Kregel

Greg Kyte 2I have some regrets in life. One regret is that I never bought a Herman Cain for president t-shirt.
Not that I ever supported Herman Cain. I just thought it would be funny to wear a shirt supporting a goofy dude who said some weird stuff, who was leading the polls and whose campaign suddenly and comically self destructed.

 Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 12.02.43 PM

So this campaign season I was determined to not make the same mistake. Because like they say: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on Trump. Read more

Greg Kyte 2Dress codes are simultaneously infuriating and amusing, like presidential candidates.

 

They were the topic for Jason, Caleb, and me on our last #WhatsNext in the Accounting Profession Blab. I thought it would be a fun, light topic, easy to make fun of, but not too deep. Turns out, dress codes are a quick path to the seventh circle of HR.

 

This week, I asked some friends who work at two different mid-size CPA firms to send me their company’s dress codes. And it turns out they are awesome.

 

For one company, under ‚ÄúExamples of Not Acceptable Attire‚ÄĚ they listed ‚Äústirrup pants,‚ÄĚ ‚Äúbolo ties,‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúbathing suits.‚ÄĚ Bathing Suits?! How the hell do bathing suits get explicitly banned on the dress code?

 

Audit Manager: ‚ÄúHey, Rebecca, are you ready to head to the client‚Äôs office for ‚Ķ what the f**k?! Are you wearing a swimsuit?‚ÄĚ Read more

REFM -  Adrian Photo Square - CATOBOver the years, I‚Äôve developed a skepticism of brands, a healthy one I hope. And I would venture to say you have too. One ad after another, all making claims to be the best thing ever. Common sense tells us it can‚Äôt actually be ‚ÄĒ we all want to believe that particular cologne/perfume is going to make us instantly magnetic, but we know better. And then there‚Äôs one purchase after another; many don‚Äôt live up to the hype, some do, some do to begin with, but don‚Äôt last. Each of these experiences eats away at our ability to believe, to trust.

Brands can be so impersonal ‚ÄĒ marketing messages connect us to the brand, and humans become merely the means to get to the brand. Ads create a desire for Cheerios, and supermarkets and checkout registers are just a delivery mechanism to acquire Cheerios for ourselves. The quicker and easier, the better. Products, not humans, are the end. (Or perhaps more accurately, the emotional state promised by the products.)

But brands are real, right? I mean, after all, there‚Äôs Coca-Cola, Apple, Southwest, and Rolls Royce. They must truly exist. Or do they? Maybe they‚Äôre just made up. Maybe they only exist simply because we all agree they exist. Sorta like language ‚ÄĒ we all agree this scrawled shape on a piece of paper constitutes a letter, ‚Äúd‚ÄĚ we‚Äôll call it. And we agree that it makes a particular, recognizable sound formed by our mouths and tongues. And when combined with the two other scrawled shapes ‚Äúo‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúg,‚ÄĚ signifies those panting, four-legged furry creatures in our homes. Read more

Category:
Marketing and Branding
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Greg Kyte 2I suck at cars.

 

When I was a sophomore in college, I surprised myself by changing my own brakes on my 1991¬†Ford F150. My mechanic quoted $300. I spent $100 on a Chilton’s Manual and parts, changed¬†the brakes, then drove from Seattle to Provo the very next day and didn’t die. I had so little¬†confidence in my brake repair abilities that my brake pedal appeared to be working my sphincter¬†muscle.

 

Since I was a poor college student, I was stoked that I saved $200, but my limbic brain didn’t¬†get a rush from fixing the brakes. Auto repair doesn’t fit with my “why,‚ÄĚ so I prefer to have¬†somebody else take care of it. As a result, I haven’t developed my mechanical skills, and I’m¬†automotively illiterate. (Another result is that I don’t have hardly any tools. Feel free to attack my¬†masculinity in order to augment your own.¬Ļ)

 

As a CPA, I’m grateful that lots of people’s limbic brain doesn’t get a rush from doing accounting¬†and that they need to pay somebody else to do it. ‘Cause that’s how I gets my skrilla¬≤ to afford my dope ride. Currently my dope ride is a 2007 Honda Civic. Why a 2007 Honda Civic?¬†Because at 40 mpg, my limbic brain gets a huge rush when I calculate my mileage deduction.

 

My 2007 Honda Civic is fully loaded. Oh yeah. It’s got seat belts, a dash board, and brake squealer tabs. Just looked that last one up on Google. Pretty high tech car crap. Brake squealer¬†tabs make a bad sound when it’s time to get your brakes changed. Very helpful if you suck at¬†cars.

 

Not too long ago, my squealers were squealing, so I called my usual mechanic. It went to voice¬†mail. I didn’t leave a message.

 

Lesson #1: Answer your damn phone.

 

I’ve never been too excited about my usual mechanic. He’s the uncle of a close family friend, but¬†for some reason I always felt like I was getting screwed. Maybe because I suck at cars.

 

Lesson #2: Your clients might worry that they’re getting screwed because they suck at¬†accounting. A fixed price agreement plus a scope document goes a long way.

 

I work with a guy who’s a great resource when it comes to everything I suck at. He’s a total¬†car guy, motorcycle guy, tool guy, fix it guy. If I need something done, he always has a good¬†recommendation. So I asked him where to take my 2007 Honda Civic. He recommended Mike &¬†The Mechanics.¬≥ Didn’t hesitate. Said that was the place to go.

 

Lesson #3: Read The Tipping Point, ¬†then make sure that you’ve got customers who are mavens. Mavens are “people we rely upon to connect us to new information.” If someone asks¬†a maven to recommend a CPA firm, two things need to be in place: you have to be a great CPA¬†firm, and the maven has to know about you.

 

I took my Civic into Mike’s. He did the work. I picked up the car. The price was reasonable. He told me that my rear tires were balder than Patrick Stewart, James Carville, and Joey Brannon¬†combined. He recommended that I get them replaced ASAFP.

 

As I was driving away, I thought I heard my car making a noise, but it was so faint I figured I was just imagining things. Over the course of the morning, that faint sound turned into a disturbing grinding noise which turned into a horrible clanking. I pulled over multiple times to try to see what was wrong, as if I had the kind of skills where I could pull over and just see what was wrong.

 

I hate being the guy to complain, but my car sounded like the bastard child of a rock polisher and¬†a roto hammer4. When I got there I explained to Mike the various noises that¬†my car had made. He¬†suggested we take a quick ride together so he could hear what I was talking about. We got in the¬†car, and the damn thing didn’t make the noise! Nothing! The car sounded perfect. It was making¬†the noise when I pulled up right in front of the door to the office of the shop. Now nothing! My¬†2007 Honda Civic was making the sounds of silence like Simon and Carfunkle which pissed me¬†off and made me feel stupid5.

 

After explaining that I’m not a liar and that just moments earlier the car sounded like someone¬†shoved an unopened can of tomato paste into a garbage disposal, Mike said, “I believe you. You¬†wouldn’t have come down here if you weren’t hearing something weird. Let me clear a bay, take¬†it back, and see what’s going on.”

 

Lesson #4: When a customer complains, he already feels stupid. Give him the benefit of the¬†doubt that – at bare minimum – his expectations were not met. Maybe you made a mistake,¬†or maybe his expectations were wrong – either way your job is to get expectations to match the¬†deliverable. Regardless, Mike earned big points by simply saying, “I believe you.”

 

It took him just a few minutes to clear a bay and get my car back there.

 

Lesson #5: Start fixing the problem immediately.

 

Just a few more minutes passed when Mike came back in and told me that something was indeed wrong. A bolt was missing from the brake apparatus, and he was mortified. He took me back to the shop to show me. It was cute that he thought I would know what he was pointing at.

 

Mike assured me that they would get it fixed as quickly as possible at no charge to me.¬†Unfortunately it would take about an hour because they had to get a new bolt from Honda. I¬†didn’t have an hour; I had to get back to work. So Mike insisted that I take his Jeep for the rest of¬†the work day – not a car that belonged to the shop, but his personal vehicle. He insisted.

 

Lesson #6: If at all possible, when a customer complains, do something that will blow his damn mind. Mike letting me drive his personal car was an unexpected, over-the-top demonstration of customer service.

 

So I took his Jeep, he fixed my Honda, and I won’t ever go back to my old mechanic.

 

Lesson #7: Customer complaints are an opportunity to create incredibly loyal customers.

 

Studies show that customers who complain Рand whose complaints are dealt with to their satisfaction in a timely manner Рare more loyal than customers who never complain.

 

I never complained to my old mechanic; I never wrote a blog post about him, either.

 

¬ĻAttack it, you wussie! I knew you didn’t have it in you.
¬≤Skrilla is slang for “money, esp. paper currency.” Use it with your clients.
³Not the real name of the shop, but an amazing idea for the name of a real shop.
4Like I know what a roto hammer is.
5Stupider.

 

Greg¬†was born in Akron, Ohio, in the shadow of the Firestone tire factory. He began to swim competitively when he was eight, swimming for the Mountlake Terrace Lemmings. He graduated in 1995 from the University of Washington with a math degree. He chose math for the ladies. After serving ten-years as an 8th grade math teacher, he decided it was time for a career change, mainly because he ‚Äúcouldn‚Äôt stand those little bastards.‚ÄĚ He began his accounting career with a local CPA firm in Orem, Utah, where he consistently failed the QuickBooks ProAdvisor advanced certification exam. Greg currently works as the Controller for the Utah Valley Physicians Plaza. He lives in Provo, Utah, with his wife and two kids. He enjoys eating maple bars, drinking Diet Pepsi, and swearing.

Jason BlumerMaybe you don’t personally know Dolly Parton, but you do know of her, right?  I believe almost everyone in the world does.  She is a living definition of a brand.  Seth Godin defined a brand, and I believe Dolly Parton fits his definition exactly.  He said:

-a brand involves a set of expectations, memories and stories.  There are definitely certain things you expect when you are talking about Dolly Parton (some I would blush to mention in this blog post), as well as the memories of her songs and the stories you’ve heard about her.
-you will pay a premium for the brand.  You will pay a premium to see and hear Dolly’s music live.
-you will choose a brand over something else.  Obviously, Dolly Parton is not for everyone, but you have to admit that she has a cult following.

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Category:
Marketing and Branding
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Jennifer BlumerThe idea of serving a niche is so counterintuitive. By choosing to focus on one segment of a market, you are saying no to others. This idea came up a few years ago in a conversation between Jason and me. (I remember where I was standing.) It scared me. Money was tight, and he was suggesting we focus ONLY on serving people in creative professions (web design and development mostly). At that point, we had only a handful of customers in that field, but they were Jason’s favorites and he wanted to serve more of them. But what about the construction companies, lawyers, dentists, veterinarians, and manufacturing customers we had at the time?

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Category:
Marketing and Branding
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