Spanning the globe for insights into human behavior and persuasion.



Marketers Everywhere

Wearing work blinders almost made me miss this one--Kathy says we're all marketers.
The word "marketing" (and by extension, "marketers") has a bad rep for sure, as does "advertising" and "PR". But they all share a common goal--connecting buyers and sellers. Isn't that what we're doing?
Sounds a bit like my conversation with Michael defending marketers. And before anyone gets in a hissy, I am in no way inferring that I started this meme. I doubt Kathy has walked the lonely halls of GrokMart.



Slim Postin's

In case you've been wondering why my blog volume has been low the past few weeks, I have a few reasons. One: work has been busy, so I've been using my blogging time--riding the bus on the way home--to keep up with work. Another: my &@#*! wireless keyboard isn't working. If my post ends up being more than a few paragraphs,using my Treo's thumbboard is a painstaking experience.

Posting will continue to be slim for the next few weeks. In the meantime, I'm still here.



Getting GTD

Today was my first try at David Allen's Getting Things Done--GTD in blog speak. I read about this method of staying on top of projects through Lifehacker and Steve Rubel. With work piling up after a week off and the new job getting more demanding, I thought it was time to see if GTD could help me.

I haven't read (or even purchased) the book, but took the recommendation of GTD evangelist Merlin Mann (43 Folders blog) to check out this PDF and this wiki. They were enough to inspire me to get started with GTD right away.

Even after one day, it's helped a lot. GTD's first step--getting stuff outside of your head and off your mind--was liberating. No, invigorating. Could it be that I won't have to deal again with that helpless, overwhelmed feeling when deadlines are crashing all around me? Maybe not, but today I felt more in control than I have in months.

I took an hour to just clear out everything I had been thinking about--commitments at home, work, church--and I wrote them all down in an MS Outlook note (which I sync with my Treo; no, I will not use Merlin's hipster PDA).

The stuff that I could do quickly--GTD's guideline says 2 minutes--I did right away. Again, that feeling of control was fantastic. Then I created tasks for everything in Outlook, which, again, I sync religiously.

GTD says to differentiate between projects and one-off tasks. Here's how I did that in Outlook: I created a task for each project, using ALL CAPS to show that it wasn't just a one-off task. Then, I created tasks for all the project steps, beginning each task entry with a one- to two-word label like "Newsletter:" or "White Paper:"

Empowerment feels good.



The Differentiator

Just got back from a vacation where I enjoyed live conversation so much that I forgot about online conversation. Didn't even read blogs much less write one. But I had some experiences on the drive home that struck me as mktg blog-worthy.

Being in a terrific hurry (I didn't want to be in a van with three kids and a week's worth of laundry for any longer than necessary), we stopped for a quick bite at an Arby's just outside Butte, Montana. We ordered their 5 for $5.95 deal and waited. And waited. And waited. The restaurant wasn't real busy--there was no one in the drive-through behind me--but the employees, who looked to me to be in their late 20s/early 30s, wore don't-bug-me expressions. Ten minutes and several glares from me later, we got our sandwiches.

Contrast that with a stop we made three-and-a-half hours later in Pocatello, Idaho. Pocatello, BTW, is not the place to find fast food off the freeway. Everything is on theIr main drag, which isn't readily accessible from the north/south interstate. So I'm driving down residential streets and navigating one-way thoroughfares and cursing the city planners under my breath all in the hopes of finding a place where my kids can stretch their cramped muscles and give their vocal cords and my eardrums a rest. We finally find a McDonald's with a Playland, order the obligatory Happy Meals for the kids and some chicken strips for the adults. Small snag: the chicken, said the teenaged girl behind the counter, would be a few minutes, but she would bring them out to us. No problem. Two minutes later, as promised, the girl had the meals in hand, with some extra strips to compensate us for the wait.

Now, I'm not a fast food fiend, or one who likes to eat out a lot. But I'm much less inclined to visit an Arby's than I am a McDonald's now. Didn't used to be that way. But to my non-discerning palette, the food is all the same, and, all else being equal, I'll go where I'm treated better.

My experience was not unique, but it underscores a trend I've noticed in marketing: it's getting harder to distinguish companies by quality or price. But customers notice the difference in the way they're treated, in the way they feel when they're interacting with our companies. Service is the big differentiator.


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