Thursday, April 28, 2005

Receipt of Seven Service Basics

originally uploaded by wily.

Empowering employees is good.

Giving them understanding of their work is good.

Communicating to employees how their work affects the customer is good.

But timing is everything.

I want to experience the "Seven Service basics (whatever)" before. Not after. And I sure hope Ashlee isn't charged with getting that across after I've transacted my order.

"Hey Ashlee...I know there are fifteen people waiting to check out, but could you take a moment and describe these 7 steps as indicated on the receipt?"

Hmmmm. Marketing people. (sigh).

Sunday, April 24, 2005

The wonderous Quickee Dawg™!

The wonderous Quickee Dawgâ„¢
The wonderous Quickee Dawgâ„¢,
originally uploaded by wily.
Now, lousy hotdogs, ANY TIME!


Can you believe it?! That unique, unsatisfying taste of a meat-like hotdog heated on metal rollers for 72 hours - ANY TIME!

You don't have to go to a convenience store or a high school basketball game, ANY MORE!

Awful idea. Awful, awful, awful idea.

In case you're from the class that's wondering what's going on, here's the scoop -

Sometimes - and I swear this is true - convenience stores buy these "rotisserie" machines to cook hotdogs. Drunk college kids buy them.

Anyway, the rollers are super-heated, and raw (are the ever REALLY raw?) hotdogs are placed on the rollers and - over time - the hotdawgs are heated to a kind of warmth.

It's disturbing - brown, shriveled meat tubes rolling and rolling (forever rolling!), the bzzwhooozzzbzzwhooozbzzwhooz of the electric motor...sometimes, a wiff of hickory smoke. Sometimes the "zzhat!" of a drop of grease hitting a heating element.

No one buys them, so they just roll and roll and roll...until...well, 3am Friday night rolls around or, well...Armagedon, I guess.

Ok. I'm exagerating. Ok, let's call it...96 hours. Give or take.

But, that's not all - this ad promises to "Grill the perfect hotdog every time without greasy frying pans."

Uh...psst. Grills are grills. Frying pans are frying pans. If yer fryin', ya'ain't grillin.'

These hotdogs aren't fried OR grilled. They're HEAT ROLLED!

But then again, this was thunk-up by people who actually like this kind of hotdog.

"Hey Gary (the head engineer). You got any gum?"

"Sure" (digs a pencil eraser out of front pocket)

"Uh. That's not gum. It's a pencil eraser."

"Gee! You're picky!"

Hmmmm. That was a little mean. Alright, Gary's not THAT obtuse.

Gary - could you put that ol'thinkin'noggin' to work on figer'in how I can have Squirrel on a Skewer like me'n Chig used to get at the County Fair?

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Fear - abridged

This is the abridged version of the last post.

Try this yourself - go to any of the major internet news sites - CNN, Foxnews, MSNBC, CBS, etc., and count the headlines and messages that are purient, deviant, negative, controversial or tragic.

You know what you'll find, but give it a try to really see for yourself how negative our culture is.

Ever wonder what the cume effect of such a huge portion of negativity is on us?

So, so, so much of our culture is built around the urgent, the important, the critical.

Negativity has become so loud, that we can't scarcely hear it.

Life is transacted out of fear rather than opportunity.

Does it do any good at all to know how a little girl spent her last few moments of life at the hands of a demonic predator?

Does it do any good to hear that gas prices "could" reach a bancrupting level?

Does it do any good to know how a dead soldier's mother feels after her son's funeral is interupted by war protesters?

Does it do any good to know that a finger was found in a bowl of chili? Does it do any good to know that it was all made up? Does it do any good to know that the perpetrator is a habitual liar?

What do we really need to know here?

Is there a major difference between what you WANT to know?

Inquiring minds want to know.

And if our culture is going to survive, thrive - inquiring minds must know.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Pay a lot of attention to the man behind the curtain.

When you're done reading this, click on the title of this blog - It'll take you to

But don't do it yet. Wait until the end of the blog; an interesting experience awaits.

Until then...

In the movie, "The Wizard of Oz," Dorothy, the Tin Man, The Lion and the Scarecrow wanted to see the Wizard. The Wizard was supposed to hold the knowledge for Dorothy to leave the wierd world of Oz and return to her farm home in Kansas.

After a harrowing journey, the four finally get to meet the Wizard. This keeper of wisdom and knowledge turns out to be a terrifying mint-green head that scowls and yells - those who meet with the wizard are bullied into cowering submission.

Thunder, smoke and lightning - "WHO DARES TO SEEK THE MIGHTY WIZARD?!"

People shaking, quaking, biting their nails..."Wh'wh..why, it is...I, m-m-mister wwww-wizard..."

While Dorothy, the Tin Man, The Lion and The Scarecrow wet themselves in awe, Dorothy's little dog toto walks over to a benign curtain and, curious about the strange activity that seems to be going on from behind, innocently opens the curtain to reveal that The Wizard is actually just a quirky old man who's manipulating the entire experience.

There is no mint-green, scowling wizard.

It's just a guy with a machine.

Suddenly, Dorothy & Co. are no longer afraid. In fact, they get rather mad at the "wizard" and rightly so.

Fear is a big business.

Fear is effective business, that's for sure.

One of advertising's most effective tools is "fear." Fear you won't be liked. Fear you won't succeed. Fear you won't have the right knowledge. Fear you will end up in danger.

As a motivational tool, Fear is a prime driver. Fear puts a promise - a tangible face - the unknown.

In some cases, fear can be helpful - Cancer Insurance, for example, might be good if the evil "Big C" ever shows up. But, if one never gets cancer, Cancer Insurance is a waste of money. Sure, the peace-of-mind has a benefit, but would the money spent on Cancer Insurance buy just as much "peace of mind" if it were spent on a trip to Fiji?

You could die in a car wreck tomorrow and all that thought, worry - FEAR - about cancer were for naught. You should have been worrying about a CAR WRECK!

Did you buy a Lexus because their reliability wouldn't leave you on a stranded road?

Did you buy a Bentley because a Lexus was sort of, common?

Did you take the promotion because it may be the only chance to get to the 'next level'?

You get where this is going...and chances are good you're coming up with a hundred arguements against the hidden logic that fear is ruling your, our lives. And if you're coming into acceptance of this prime-driver 'fear', you might be tempted to think that "a little bit of fear" is good.

"It's good to fear rattlesnakes."


"I should be afraid of serial killers."

Make no mistake about it - there are threats to peace, health and happiness out there.

However, fear is just one motivator. The other - as often stated - is a word that's less-often understood; Opportunity.

One word controls.

The other word empowers.

Yet one or the other is going to be the prime driver in decisions - individually, corporately.

The marketers of information know this and frankly, "Fear" is the easiest tool to use.

Fear dictates the terms of its own engagement. Fear puts someone, something else in the position of authority.

Opportunity, on the other hand, is self-driven. It puts the owner in the position of authority.

"If you die tomorrow, will you have enough money to feed your family?" (fear)


"What can I do to increase my wealth?" (opportunity)

"If I wear Brand X shirts instead of Wal-Mart shirts, I will look better." (fear)


"It is cold. I need a shirt to keep me warm. I personally prefer green shirts." (opportunity)

This seems all-too basic. All-too common-sense. All-too easy to circumvent.

But this fear-based motivation is so pervasive, you may not be aware of the man in the curtain.

Click on the headline - it will take you to It could take you to,,, The New York

It could take you to your local news.

It could take you to the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine.

It could take you anywhere messages are peddled.

(no offense, CNN!)

But when you get there, count the number of headlines that are negative. Count the number of headlines that feature some kind of controversy or conspiracy.

Do it today. Do it tomorrow. Do it next week.

You'll get the same result - there are a lot of negative, fearsome messages out there and they're coming at you day after day after day after day...

Joseph Goebels, the infamous Minister of Propaganda for Hitler's "3rd Reich" practiced the philosophy of, (paraphrased) "If you tell someone something enough times, they will believe a lie."

Now, it's very useful to know when there are serial killers about. But do we need to know the details of their victim's awful deaths?

It's assuring to know that unethical CEOs are going to prison. But do we need to analyze their wrong behaviour?

It's important to understand the plight of our soldiers while they are away at war. But do we need to see a soldier's mom crying in front a protester?

What good - real good - does it do?

Are people really more attractive because they wear X?

Will people really spend more time with their family if they use Quick-ee meals?

Are all-you-can eat buffet's really a good deal?

The result of this exersize is simply to pull the curtain away - to reveal the quaking, the shaking, behind the curtain as well as that which goes on in front of the smoking phantom...

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Forgive them. They know not what they're saying.

The Sunday Paper.

In our neighborhood, it's 2, maybe 3 pounds of dead tree.

Killing trees for paper isn't all bad.

Dead trees revolutionized the world. (The printing press).

Dead trees keep the world informed (Good newspapers).

Dead trees provide interesting diversions (model airplane instructions).

Dead trees keep our hands clean (towlettes).

Dead trees make wealth portable (checks, paper money).

Dead trees can be good.

Again, our Sunday paper is 2-3 pounds of dead tree.

Coupons make up about half a pound.

Half a pound of coupons.

Multiplied across the world, there are a lot of trees dying to be coupons.

If you're going to die for something - it'd better be important.

Today - like any other Sunday paper - the half-pound of coupons were trying hard to be important.


Buy one, get one free...

Buy one, get one for half price...

Two for one...

Any large for...

First-time customer offer...

Oil change for...

They're all saying the same thing.

"I'm not worth regular price."

Long John Silvers™ gave no reason to buy their battered fish/chicken other than a "deal."

Pizza Hut™ gave no reason to buy their pizzas other than a "deal."

Vitamin World® (Gotta' hand it to them for clarity in naming) gave no reason to buy their world of vitamins other than 50% off.

Pearl Vision® gave no clear insight (pun!) into why their glasses were worth anything other than 50% off.


Just a "deal."

It's like the Koi Pond (expensive, huge goldfish) at the Omaha Zoo - hundreds of bloated fish gulp $.25 handfuls of pelletized fish food thrown from entertainment-hungry visitors.

Kind of like coupons, only it's hard to tell who's the fish - the merchant or the consumer.

But the message is clear.

Feed me.

Feed me.

Feed me.

Merchants take note - are your products worth more than a discount?

Customers take note - are your values worth more than an cheap price?

The price of advertising is not cheap, even at $.0275 per insert. In case you're curious, franchise systems can take as much as 15% in advertising and promotion dollars and give back out the same - if not more - in discounts. And all the while, very little useful information is provided other than the visual noise of prices, offers and calls-to-urgency that expire in 30 days.

Very little information, indeed.

Would you like to know why Long John Silvers™ is a good place to eat?

Would you like to know why Pizza Hut™ deserves to be included in the entertainment budget?

Would you like to know why Pearl Vision® is a good place to get glasses?

Would you like to know...?

Merchants who rely on a heavy coupon strategy would do well to search deeply about the integrity of their business.

Consumers who base their choices on coupon strategies would do well to question their value systems - Price, Quality, Service; pick 2.

Two weeks ago, a friend of mine brought a concept called "Peak Oil." It's the idea that oil consumption will reach a point where the supply is no longer sustainable at low prices, resulting in ever-escalating oil costs and a crash of the world economy.

In the discussion, we wondered what businesses would survive and which ones would fail.

Interestingly, the ones that we figured would survive were businesses we valued for their service, their quality, their value.

But never their cheapness.

Never the discount.

I'm not much of a "Peak Oil" apocalyptic. I fell asleep at 10:30pm on the night the Millenium Bug was supposed to destroy civilization. But if Pizza Rodeo® can't make it without a $9.99 blahblahblah now, how will they survive when delivery-car gas is $10 a gallon?

Our Sunday paper is 2-3 pounds; half of a pound are coupons.

A lot of trees died for those coupons.

What they had to say wasn't worth much.