Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thank you, IKEA, for my new West Elm Table

In, what I hope is the final chapter of acquiring a table for my home office, I wanted to thank IKEA for being so impossible to deal with, for such a long time, that I found a much better table at a very reasonable price. My objective has been met.

As you can see, here are some pictures of the dining room table I bought from
West Elm, which serves as my second work space in my home office. West Elm was having a close out sale on this model, for a mere $300. Including shipping and white glove delivery (people assembled it, set it up and took away all the containers), the table cost me $500.

Actually, when I discovered this deal in a West Elm catalog, while eating breakfast and reviewing the previous day's mail, I first called IKEA one last time. It was about 9:30 am on a weekday and I got through all the pushbutton calisthenics required to get to the specialty group in charge of the table in question and then
I got an answering machine!!! I couldn't believe it!!!

The message said something crazy about being busy and that I should leave a name and number. In the way that a deer at night is caught in the headlights of an oncoming car, I left my information in a stunned monotone and hung up. And then I went to my computer, looked up the West Elm web site, clicked the picture of the table, entered my information and AMEX card number and wha-la, I had a very nice table on the way.

If only it had been so easy to buy the IKEA table, I would have had it two months ago - but then I would never have gotten such a good deal on the West Elm table. Thank you IKEA! I love my new table!!

P.S. The people from IKEA
never returned my phone call. As one Marketing Strategy participant pointed out, "They're self service. Maybe they wanted you to call yourself back."

Dialing for Dollars and Other Idiotic Sales Actions

Carol Osborne, one of my USF Marketing colleagues, showed me some interesting books on selling from Jeffrey Gitomer the other day. Jeffrey Gitomer has quite a little collection of books on selling and whatnot, some of which have been best sellers. (Those of you familiar with Cialdini's Social Proof know that just because "everyone's" buying the book, doesn't mean the book is good - just that more people keep buying it because they think it must be good, because other people bought it....)

Anyway, I was curious about Jeffrey Gitomer and Carol mentioned he had a
web page. Cruising around, I stumbled across a wonderful article about "Dialing for dollars, and other idiotic sales actions." (Note that this is a weekly column, so it will have likely changed if you read this more than a week after I posted it.)

The column is/was brilliant! Gitomer goes on about how absurd it is to outsource your prospecting, questioning what kind of impression you make when someone who knows nothing about your product/company calls random (or not so random) people to get a lead. What a charming first impression. Good luck to the sales force trying to follow up on the mess the telemarketers left behind! He also points out that any information about your customers that doesn't conform to your
a priori script writing is most likely lost.

Although I have some issues with some of his recommendations for making prospecting calls, as I think they are a bit presumptuous, his main point is spot on!! Nice job!!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Pick a Position, Any Position. But Please, Just Pick One!

Following the movie last night, Victoria, Lou, Bryant and I went over to Timpano Italian Chophouse, in Old Hyde Park Village. This bar/restaurant/raw bar/club has incredibly good food and often has exceptionally good live music...and two large flat screen TVs hanging from the ceiling, visible from anywhere in the place.

What's so puzzling about this place is they appear to be trying to have something for everyone - and it doesn't really work very well. It reminds me of Hairy Buffalo Parties we used to have when I was (very) young. The concept is everyone brings whatever liquor they have and you mix it all together with some punch and whatever to have some Hairy Buffalo Punch. I stopped participating when I realized that the color of the punch going down was freakishly similar to the color coming back up - which was usually the end of the party.

Victoria and I had eaten at this place one other time, sitting in the "dining room," where we could hear a Sinatra-esque piano player and singer perform, watch a football game, look out the glass wall and see people eating at the outdoor cafe, watch the 20-something Goth kids come in for a drink next to Sinatra-lite, watch people eat at the raw bar, watch an older couple out on a date or three
Sex in the City impresarios eating the smallest deserts ever seen outside of a doll house.

What struck me as odd both times is this place has some really awesome potential - but it's trying too hard to be all things to all people, and I don't think that's working out too well. Of all the places in Tampa that have large screen TVs - why at a Sinatra bar? Why have live jazz music AND a game, all inside a
chop house with a raw bar? OK, the chop house and raw bar can be together, and even combined with live music/jazz/big band motif - but what the hell is with the large screen TVs? Isn't Whiskey Park about 2 blocks away?

This reminds me of the final act of insanity at
Harbour Island Athletic Club, before I quit to join a real gym, when Harbour Island installed three similarly garish flat screen TVs in the weight room. Here's an idea, I don't want to be bench pressing 275 lbs in the same room that people are transfixed by Oprah...

Pick a value proposition and stick with it.
Pick a position and stick with it.

The best way to win and keep customers is to identify a segment of the market that has unique needs, target them with an attractive value proposition and then implement like it's no one's business, making sure everything you do is consistent with and supports that value proposition.

Big screen TVs are
not unique or a compelling differentiator in Tampa.

However, I would love to meet the person who's managed to sell every business in Tampa gigantic flat screen televisions...

Good Night, and Good Luck

Last night, Victoria, Lou, Bryant and I went to see "Good Night, and Good Luck," a fascinating movie about how Edward R. Murrow, Fred Friendly and others at CBS television turned a bright, shining light on the "anti-communist" activities of Senator Eugene P. McCarthy. The movie is incredible and, in today's environment of "for us or against us," provides a sobering reminder that efforts to limit the freedoms and rights of people are not consistent with the American ideals such efforts are espoused to protect. It's easily one of the best movies I have ever seen.