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A Marketing Rule- Carved in Stone September 23, 2014

Posted by Jack Macholl in Uncategorized.
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On a recent vacation trip to Maine I felt compelled to visit Freeport Maine, the world headquarters of L.L. Bean, the infamous outdoor gear, clothing and home goods store.

Part of my need to visit Bean was the long-term connection to their catalog. Growing up in the pre-Internet world of 1960’s and 70’s permitted me to experience the power of catalog marketing. When the L.L. Bean book arrived in the mailbox it was a big deal. My Dad enjoyed the outdoors, owned hunting and fishing gear, and often ordered their “old school” chamois shirts that literally lasted decades-or your money back. Years later, while teaching integrated marketing communications at Roosevelt University, I often brought L.L. Bean marketing materials in to my lectures (particularly the catalogs) to illustrate direct marketing best practices in use at that time.

Like many catalogs of the era, marketers, graphic designers, writers, proofreaders, photographers and printers created literal art. They captured the notion an “experience” long before modern use of the term “brand experience.” This was a different type of connection, in days when people did not travel as frequently by air due to the great expense, these catalogs provided a “travelogue;” using paintings, line drawings, copy, typography and graphic arts in combination to transport you to far away hunting and fishing destinations you could almost feel when you perused the book.

After spending hours looking at their advertising and product museum, and of course, shopping in their 100,000 square foot plus store, I was struck by an engraving on a stone outside the main entrance. The inscription read:

Sell good merchandise at a reasonable profit, treat your customers like human beings, and they’ll always come back for more.”

Leon Leonwood Bean’s

“Golden Rule,” 1912

This is a common sense business principle or “code” that L.L. Bean obviously lived by. The mere fact the town of Freeport was literally built around his company, one that has survived the Great Depression, two world wars, recessions and other challenges is a testimony to the long-term soundness of this very simple business foundation.

IMG_1665 IMG_1666If more of today’s businesses installed a similar stone by the employee door, we’d all spend less time on the telephone and online having people “apologize for the inconvenience.”

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Forget the lists-just focus January 1, 2012

Posted by Jack Macholl in Corporate Social Responsibility, Freedom, Referral marketing, Uncategorized, Veterans.
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The past few days I’ve read numerous Twitter posts and some blog articles about the “top 5 or top 12” things you need to do for success in the New Year. Although these are informative I feel that real progress or “success” in 2012 will come from focus. I’m not even talking about a formal written plan, for me it will be about self-discipline and remaining focused on the things that will move my personal and business lives forward with a lean toward balance (the thing virtually all humans struggle with today).

If it helps here are some of the things on my agenda :

  • Balance– pressure often comes from within prioritizing work/personal tasks, dividing up the day in segments is what I plan to try. Working in some exercise, music, pleasure reading and family time is on the radar.
  • Doing the Work– scheduling  client assignments, meetings, writing tasks, phone calls, blog posts and other small business owner tasks even on days when I don’t feel like it.
  • Helping– waiting for the corporate hand puppets in D.C. or  the State government level to help make this world a better place is a fantasy. The elderly, developmentally challenged and veterans are largely disenfranchised and that needs to change. These are amongst the causes I plan to help in 2012.
  • Tuning negativity out– this includes much of the election year lunacy, divisiveness , lies and mud-slinging. I’ll tune in enough to be informed and then it’s off. This includes main stream news, “gloom and doom” market reports and pundits. People who want to moan and sap energy, the voicemail goes on; period. Sanity will come from interacting  with positive people that want to make a difference. Other diversions from the madness will include Sirius XM radio, my iPod and portable HD radio (a Christmas gift which is really nice).

Small business people have been hurt by Wall Street, State, County and local level governing bodies-they are clueless and don’t give a damn about you or your future. It’s time to build our own networks and move things ahead with self-reliance and old-fashioned grit.  Networking, referrals and opportunities through involvement are the key to success from my point of view.

Focus and self-help begins in 3,2,1…