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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.”


Making the Customer “Top Dog” May 21, 2012

Posted by Jack Macholl in Brand personality, Uncategorized.
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After literally wearing my current walking shoes to threadbare level I visited Road Runner Sports in Wilmette Illinois, one of 26 U.S. locations of this predominately online marketer.

The customer experience is truly personal with the Shoe Dog computer analysis of your gait, balance and impact points on the feet. Their sales staff was comprised of energetic, articulate 20 something’s who exceeded my customer expectations by yards.

They are on to something that many businesses can learn from in this self-service efficiency model era. This is a true 1:1 experience backed by a 90- day guarantee.

Are you making your customer or constituent feel like “top dog?”

Connecting with “My Local Guys” April 18, 2012

Posted by Jack Macholl in Uncategorized.
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A quick tip of the hat to Chris Brogan as the idea spark for today’s post. In February Chris did a post on his blog about on-line purchasing and the need for local (human) service. In recent years more people are purchasing cars Image

on-line which works very well and has become part of “the norm.”

Fast forward to the day when your iPod and Ford Synch are no longer on friendly terms and the Synch chat room assistant says “reset the system” only to find your iPhone no longer works and must be reconnected. Enter Scott a real-live human being at Napelton Lincoln Mercury in Park Ridge Illinois (the local dealer where I purchased my car). With calm resolve and a few clicks on the dashboard and iPhone, synchronized, back in business.

I’d say there has to be a way to connect “local guys” real people with the useful online tools we have before us.  I don’t know about you but burning time on technology glitches is a major irritant with me.

Brick and mortar may be fading, but in the interim “reality” served a big, time-saving purpose in my day.

Now it’s your turn- please weigh-in when you can.