The Wrong Way — and the Right Way — to use Social Media in a Crisis.

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The Wrong Way to use Social Media in a Crisis

From The New York Times, 09/13/17:

“HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — The first patient was rushed into the emergency room of Memorial Regional Hospital around 3 a.m. on Wednesday, escaping a nursing home that had lost air-conditioning in the muggy days after Hurricane Irma splintered power lines across the state.

Four were so ill that they died soon after arriving. In the afternoon, the authorities learned that another had died early in the morning, and was initially uncounted because the person had been taken directly to a funeral home.

In all, eight were dead…

The 152-bed nursing home was acquired in 2015 by Larkin Community Hospital, a growing Miami-area network that includes hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities…

Dr. Jack Michel, the health-care network’s current chairman, did not respond to requests for comment.”

Instead, Michel went on Facebook where he wrote:

“@FLGovScott The best way to honor the memories of those who lost their lives in Hollywood Tragedy is identifying root causes and making sure this doesn’t happen again in FL, not finding scapegoats. Due process is a constitutional right.”

Since that September 18 post, 140 of Michel’s followers have posted likes and frowny face emoticons and some 30 or so sycophants have posted comments blaming the power company, politics, and the unfairness of pointing fingers. Virtually everyone’s been blamed, in fact, but the people responsible for the tragedy.

At best, Dr. Michel’s Facebook bleats make him and Larkin Community Hospital look insensitive and self-serving. And even though only one respondent has criticized his actions online so far, that response is inevitable.

Because as we’ve said so many times before, “When you’re explaining, you’re losing.”

The Right Way to use Social Media in a Crisis

Jim Fried is the senior vice president of Spectrum Mortgage Group, a company that provides commercial property financing. Fried uses his robust social media presence, plus his weekly radio program, Fried on Business, to promote himself and his company.

After the storm Fried posted a five-word message that said simply, “We Are Here to Help!”

Below the headline he wrote: “Hurricane Irma has brought us many challenges, from property damage to cash-flow issues. If you’re in need of cash right now, we can help you turn your real estate property into quick cash with a private loan. Even if your home or property has been damaged, we can lend based on the land value.

Call today! One person makes the decision. We can commit today and close next week.

Let us help you in this special situation.”

Positive, inclusive, and aspirational, Fried made his online post immediately relevant to his readers. He told them precisely what he can do to make their lives better. Then, after making his point, Fried followed up with the Reasons To Believe (RTBs) showing that their property has value, and that they can close on a loan quickly because only “one person makes the decision.”

Simple, direct, and to the point. Jim Fried understands the concepts behind an All About Them marketing strategy.

Defensive, insensitive, callous. Jack Michel clearly does not.

Business Advice From Hurricane Irma.

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Hurricane Irma Lessons

The computer I’m writing this blog post on is powered by a generator.

That’s because I’m writing this post hours after Hurricane Irma cut its cruel swath through Florida and the Caribbean.

First a quick update: we are fine, thanks. Our house is a bunker and held up to the winds. We have significant tree damage but everyone here is happy and healthy. My mother, sister, and brother and their families all stayed at our house and despite the storm howling outside, we enjoyed a safe and secure few days together.

Natural disasters, hell, disasters of any kind, have an interesting way of clarifying what’s important. After all, when you’re surrounded by 100+ MPH winds, it’s hard to worry about your golf score, your neighbor’s new Lexus or whatever petty foolishness has been cluttering up your mind. Instead, the necessities of life come into sharp focus. It’s almost like Maslow’s Hierarchy popped off the page of your college sociology book in crystal clear relief.

First comes safety, solid shelter, having something to eat, and clean water.

Next comes comfort – electricity, air conditioning, refrigeration.

Only with the cleanup after the storm do more things start to intrude on your consciousness – things like damage to possessions, ability to get to work, clean up.

From all this I’ve determined that the four most important things for both weathering a storm and returning to some degree of normalcy afterwards are:
1. Preparation
2. Friends and family
3. Water, and
4. Cash

Preparation matters because the more you do to prepare for the disaster, the easier it will be afterwards. In the case of a hurricane, having shutters, a working generator, plenty of fuel, etc. significantly increase your odds of surviving the storm and being able to pick up the pieces afterwards.

Friends and family matters on so many levels, from having people to huddle with during the deluge to working together to clear the shared roadways of debris afterwards.

Water is a metaphor for all necessities. After all, life does not exist without water.

And finally, cash. After a storm, the credit cards and ATM cards we mindlessly depend on most days are just worthless plastic playing cards taking up space in our pockets. But cash is king – at The Home Depot, the grocery store, or to pay the lawn guys who help clear debris.

Of course, this blog is not about my personal life or musings. Instead it’s a business blog devoted to brand building, innovation, and leadership.

So why the hurricane story?

Because the four requirements for surviving a storm are the same necessities you need to grow your business.

1. Preparation.
If nothing succeeds like success, then nothing gets you as ready for success as being prepared. Education, planning, dreaming, visualization, and thinking things through are all critical to being ready for whatever happens in your business. It’s hackneyed and corny, but failing to prepare is preparing to fail.

2. Friends and family
At home there’s nothing as comforting and helpful as friends and family. In business the same can be said for relationships. The banker who knows you and trusts you and extends credit and services. The distributor who knows they can count on you and is available when you need them. The clients and past clients who are thrilled with your products and services and continue to buy from you and provide you with referrals for new business. The knowledgeable friends and professionals who arm you with advice, contacts, and skill sets to deal with the things you don’t know enough about. Again, it’s corny but people who need people are the luckiest people in the world.

3. Water
Of course water is essential. But in this case it serves as a metaphor for your brand. Warren Buffet says that a strong brand is the most valuable thing Berkshire Hathaway buys when it makes an acquisition. In the wake of a storm, and after a business setback, buildings can be rebuilt and cars can be replaced but a damaged brand and reputation are not so easily repaired.

4. Finally, cash.
Most business that fail – especially new businesses – do so because they are undercapitalized. Just like revenue provides a company with the people and materials it needs to thrive and prosper, revenue also overcomes a lot of sins. Mistakes are less fatal when you have the financial wherewithal to deal with them.

Got cash in your pocket after a storm? You can buy food, gas, chainsaws, and anything else you need. Have money in the bank after a business setback?

Likewise you can pay your taxes, cover payroll, restock your inventory, and continue to operate.

When a hurricane is thundering down on you and you haven’t prepared and don’t have friends and family, water or cash, you can go to a community shelter. It may not be pleasant and it certainly won’t be comfortable but it will be safe.

When your business experiences a setback and you don’t have those necessities – preparation, relationships, necessities and cash, there’s often nowhere to turn. But with a little planning and discipline, you can learn from Hurricane Irma and be ready for whatever comes next.

Make Business Simple – My Four-Word Rules For Success. #10 in a Series.

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We’ve spent the last few weeks talking about my four-word rules for business success.  My goal remains simple: I want to give you easy to implement tools, tactics, and techniques to make your business better.

Each rule is only four words long because often that’s all it takes to make a huge difference when you build your brand and your business.

If you missed any of the rules, just click on each link: Rule #1 is HERE. Rule #2 is HERE. Rule #3 is HERE. Rule #4 is HERE. Rule #5 is right HERE. Rule #6 is right HERE. Rule #7 is HERE. Rule #8 is HERE, Rule #9 is HERE.

Four-word rule for success

Listen to enough writers and sooner or later it’ll dawn on you that the act of writing is thought of lots of different ways, few of them pleasant.

Ernest Hemingway found looking for the muse torturous. According to legend, Papa described it like this: “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.”

Jack London said, “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”

And W. Somerset Maugham believed that, “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”

Having spent the last ten years hammering out this blog week after week while also writing new books, countless speeches, articles and TV commentary, and keeping up with my client assignments, I’ve learned a little bit about just how hard maintaining consistent good writing can be.

But of all the things I’ve learned, regular writing reminds me about two universal truths which assert themselves time and time again:

  1. The key to good writing is not just writing, it’s rewriting, and
  2. The muse is a jealous taskmaster.

I’m not the first one to discover these two points, by the way. When I was researching quotes for this article, I’d already determined my two truths but wasn’t aware that others had explained them already.

Vladimir Nabokov said that, “I have rewritten — often several times — every word I have ever published. My pencils outlast their erasers.” And Hemingway was pretty clear on this point when he wrote, “The first draft of anything is shit.”

Because I sincerely believe that the most important part of good writing is rewriting, I try to write my posts with enough lead-time to read them over and over and over, crafting them a bit tighter on each pass.

As far as the jealousy of the Muse goes, this point is unassailable. If you want to write – books, ads, blogs, whatever – besides putting in lots and lots of hard work the other thing to always do is stop and write whenever an idea strikes you. Because if you wait until it’s more convenient, your good ideas vaporize.

To benefit from the thinking time I get when I run I keep a miniature Sharpie tangled in my sneaker laces so I can write my inspirations down on the palm of my hand as they pop into my head. When I sleep I keep a pad and pen on my bed stand to capture those 3:15 a.m. brainstorms before they disappear. And during the day I always try to have my laptop, iPad or a simple notebook within quick reach so I don’t risk missing good ideas whenever and wherever the Muse shows itself.

Turns out Steven Pressfield, the author of The Legend of Bagger Vance and The War of Art, already knew about the Muse’s demands. Pressfield explained it this way:

“This is the other secret that real artists know and wannabe writers don’t. When we sit down each day and do our work, power concentrates around us. The Muse takes note of our dedication. She approves. We have earned favor in her sight. When we sit down and work, we become like a magnetized rod that attracts iron filings. Ideas come. Insights accrete.”

Saul Bellow said it like this, “You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.”

But just because the words and ideas might appear when you pay attention and work at it doesn’t make it easy. Why? Because we writers are always our own worst critics. After all, as Thomas Mann said, “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”

Which is why my four-word rule for business success #10 is Never Ignore Your Muse.

Make Business Simple – My Four-Word Rules For Success. #9 in a Series.

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Make Business Simple – My Four-Word Rules For Success. #9 in a Series.

We’ve spent the last few weeks talking about my four-word rules for business success.  My goal remains simple: I want to give you easy to implement tools, tactics, and techniques to make your business better.

Each rule is only four words long because often that’s all it takes to make a huge difference when you build your brand and your business.

If you missed any of the rules, just click on each link: Rule #1 is HERE. Rule #2 is HERE. Rule #3 is HERE. Rule #4 is HERE. Rule #5 is right HERE. Rule #6 is right HERE. Rule #7 is HERE. Rule #8 is HERE.

Hidden In Plain Sight

It was my college roommate’s anniversary and he wanted to take his girlfriend somewhere special to celebrate.

When he asked her where she wanted to go, she didn’t hesitate for a second. “Benihana” she said with a big smile.

But there was a problem. My college roommate had never been to Benihana, had never eaten Japanese food, and didn’t know how to eat with chopsticks.

He was scared he’d do something stupid, so he asked me if I would find a date and go with them.

“We’ll tell her it’s an anniversary party,” he said. “And while we’re there you can show me how the place works.”

When the day arrived the four of us showed up at the restaurant. We were ushered to the teppanyaki table and sat with the two other couples already there. Besides us, there were another eight strangers on the other side of the big table.

My roommate looked at me with raised eyebrows.

“Don’t worry,” I whispered, “they always put you with others. It’s fun.”

A moment later the waitress showed up and offered each of us a steaming hot rolled-up washcloth from a bamboo tray.

As my roommate looked over at me, I whispered: “Take one, wipe your hands, and put it back. DO NOT wash your face.”

He smiled with relief and did as he was told.

After that, things progressed nicely. My roommate chose a drink and found things on the menu to order all by himself. It wasn’t until the waitress handed out the bowls of miso soup that he looked at me with panic in his eyes.

“What’s with the funny spoon?” he said under his breath. “Why is it shaped like this?”

I couldn’t resist.

“It’s because the soup is always so hot. What you do is scoop the soup up in the spoon and then put the other end in your mouth. Just tilt the spoon up and let the soup run down the channel to cool off.”

“Wow!! No way!! I love that. Let me try it.”

He scooped up some soup, turned the spoon around, and let it run down the handle into his mouth. He was so intrigued and excited that he did it again and again, never noticing that everyone at our table —and then everyone in our corner of the restaurant — was watching him.

Finally, my roommate looked up in mid-slurp. He froze when he noticed the whole room staring at him.

He put down his spoon.

“You are such a jackass.” he said quietly.

(Years later my friend and virtuoso drummer Allen Lynch was chaperoning a trip to Washington DC with his son’s sixth grade glass. When they went to lunch at Tony Chen’s, they were served wonton soup with the same little plastic spoons. Because I had told Allen the story about my roommate and Benihana, he sent me this photograph after lunch was over. It was accompanied by three laughing emojis 😂 😂 😂).

Have you ever noticed the arrow in the FedEx logo? If you have, you can’t look at the logo without seeing it. But if you haven’t, you’ll be stunned that the arrow has been there all along.

How about the “31” (the number that represents their selection of flavors) in Baskin Robbins’ logo?

Can you recall how wonderful it smells when you walk into a Four Seasons Hotel anywhere in the world?

Have you ever gotten off a long flight at Las Vegas’ McCarran airport and seen the directional sign for the bathrooms? They’re posters of the bald blue guys from Blue Man Group pointing the way. The only difference is that now the bald blue guys are yellow.

Just like the spoon’s OTHER function, some of the most delightful surprises are Hidden in Plain Sight.

Tesla adds little delightful surprises into their cars’ computer screens. My favorite is a diagram for turning the car into a submarine resembling James Bond’s Lotus Esprit in The Spy Who Loved Me.

Apple sets the pace of the flashing “on” light on their laptops to match a human heartbeat.

To make your brand All About Them, and to make your business a success, remember that my Four-Word Rule for Success #9 is Hidden in Plain Sight.

Make Business Simple. My Four-Word Rules for Success. #8 in a Series.

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Make Business Simple – My Four-Word Rules For Success. #8 in a Series.

We’ve spent the last few weeks talking about my four-word rules for business success.  My goal remains simple: I want to give you easy to implement tools, tactics, and techniques to make your business better.

Each rule is only four words long because often that’s all it takes to make a huge difference when you build your brand and your business.

If you missed any of the rules, just click on each link: Rule #1 is HERE. Rule #2 is HERE. Rule #3 is HERE. Rule #4 is HERE. Rule #5 is right HERE. Rule #6 is right HERE. Rule #7 is HERE.

Understand Why You Matter

A few years ago, I was invited to make a presentation on the TEDx stage. I was very excited about this opportunity and spent a lot of time writing my speech, editing my speech and — most of all — rehearsing my speech.

I left nothing to chance. I timed myself over and over to make sure I wouldn’t speak for too long. I worked with a wonderful speaking coach (Hayley Foster) to make sure that my stories, points, and jokes were as good as possible. I selected what I was going to wear, scheduled a haircut a week before, and did everything I could think of to make the best impression possible. I even got to the location a day early and walked the route to the stage to make sure nothing could keep me from being there.

The night before the event the organizers held an organizational briefing. They told us that one of the videographers wasn’t able to attend so they were going to use a locked-down camera. They told us that when we walked on stage we should take the four steps to the white tape X on the ground and stand there without moving. Otherwise, we would wander out of the camera’s range. A small problem for someone who moves as much as I do, perhaps, but not insurmountable.

Finally, it was the morning of the event. I got up early for my run, showered, got dressed, and went down to have a cup of coffee and a quick bite of breakfast before I walked across the street to the venue. I was bending over to grab my bread from the toaster when I felt a little click in my lower back. Instantly I knew I had thrown my back out.

Two hours later, when it was my turn to speak, my lower back had locked up in total spasm. I could barely move. But because the organizers had told us to stay on the white tape X, I knew that all I had to do was take the four steps to the mark and then I could give my speech.

And that’s what I did. I slowly counted to four as I painfully walked onto the stage. Then I turned, smiled at the audience, and began my speech. You can watch it HERE if you’d like. And now that you know what was going on, you’ll realize that throughout the full eight minutes I was talking I did not move a muscle from the waist down.

About this time, I was lucky enough to meet Julie Donnelly. Julie is a massage therapist who specializes in eliminating back pain. In fact, Julie has written a number of books on the subject. Her most recent is titled The 15 Minute Back Pain Solution. Julie’s book is only $4.99, an incredible bargain for anyone who has pain in their low back, hip, groin, knee, or suffers from sciatica.

Needless to say, I was in so much pain that I would have paid any amount Julie asked me to pay. And I would have done anything Julie told me to do. Lucky for me, what she told me actually worked.

But this post is not about my TED talk and it’s not about Julie’s book. It’s about how you can find the perfect moment when you matter the most to your prospect. That’s when your brand value intersects with your potential consumer’s aspirations. Because that’s when the magic happens. Case in point? There was no better time for me to meet Julie than at the very moment when I needed what she’s so very good at.

That’s why my Four-Word Rule for Success #8 is to Understand Why You Matter.

There are a lot of ways you can set you and your business apart: You can be cheaper, you can be faster, you can be better looking, you can be closer, you can be smarter, you can be better, you can be higher quality, you can be better known. You can be all of the above.

But the best way to build you brand value and demonstrate why you matter to your customers and your potential customers is to Understand Why You Matter TO THEM!

Julie Donnelly did it. You can too.

Make Business Simple – My Four-Word Rules For Success. #7 In A Series.

One response.

Make Business Simple – My Four-Word Rules For Success. #7 in a series.

We’ve spent the last few weeks talking about my four-word rules for business success.  My goal remains simple: I want to give you easy to implement tools, tactics, and techniques to make your business better.

Each rule is only four words long because often that’s all it takes to make a huge difference when you build your brand and your business.

If you missed any of the rules, you can find them easily. Rule #1 is HERE. Rule #2 is HERE. Rule #3 is HERE. Rule #4 is HERE. Rule #5 is right HERE. Rule #6 is right HERE.

Old Things. New Combinations.

I have a few friends who are comedians. One of the problems they deal with is that people constantly expect them to be funny.  

It’s a problem I understand. 

One of the problems with being known as “creative” is that people always expect me to be a constant source of new ideas.  

At the same time, people who do not see themselves as “creative” somehow feel the need to explain that to me — “I don’t have a creative bone in my body,” they’ll tell me. “I can’t even draw a straight line.” 

Of course there’s nothing inherently creative about drawing a straight line — all you need is a ruler and a pen and a bit of coordination and you’ve got as straight a line as you can imagine. 

But if you spend time looking at great creative concepts you’ll find that most of them are not the big, new, never-before-heard-of idea you might think they are. Instead, many creative breakthroughs are really just interesting new combinations of old things or even revolutionary combinations of new and old things. 

EBay? Despite its incredible success, EBay is simply a combination of old and new (auctions and bazaars + the Internet). 

Facebook? If you went to high school in the seventies or eighties, you’ll realize that Facebook is also a simple combination of old and new (slambooks + the Internet). 

Besides maybe reducing some of the intimidation that creating new ideas might cause, understanding this redefinition can also show you real opportunities for your entrepreneurial self. After all, if you looked at creativity like this, maybe you would have come up with EBay, Facebook, or Twitter (the notes we used to pass in elementary school + the Internet) yourself. 

All you need to do is look at new and emerging technologies and figure out ways to incorporate them into old proven situations. Seen this way, confusing new concepts such as BitCoin, consumer genetic testing, Bluetooth, et al can now be seen as the next opportunity just waiting to be discovered. 

For example, take a look at a traditional industry such as commercial real estate. You already know that lots of the requirements of the trade include studying and examining buildings to confirm things like zoning compliance, accuracy of measurements, leak testing, checking for structural integrity, etc. As you might imagine, doing these things requires lots of people on lots of ladders — especially as buildings get even bigger and even taller. Needless to say, these activities can be both expensive and dangerous (which can make them even more expensive). 

But what if you used my theory and combined something old with something new? Looking at it that way might make you realize that the commercial real estate industry could be well-served with drones. We hear about drones being used for military applications, sporting events, crop dusting, and recreation.  But what if you equipped them with cameras, thermometers, density meters, and other sensors and sent them up to gather the information people used to climb ladders to find? Bam!! Creativity at work and a damn good opportunity to boot. 

By the way, the idea of employing drones in the commercial real estate industry has already been put to impressively good use. Take a moment and check out Volaero Drones ( if you want to see how Volaero did it. And talk about monetizing — the people at Volaero are so confident about their new combination that not only does their home page present information and ways to hire them, it even includes a link to invest in the company!

This way of monetizing new technology and creating opportunities is why my four-word rule for business success #7 is Old Things. New Combinations. All you need to do to take advantage of this is to look at all the exciting new whiz-bang technologies and figure out ways they can fix old problems. 

You do this with Old Things. New Combinations.

The Power of The Mastermind. And You.

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The Power of The Mastermind.

Do you have a business idea or career move or life change that you think about incessantly?

Do you noodle it around until you’ve looked at it from every possible angle?

Do you obsess over every detail, agonize over every possible eventuality?

Or maybe you already run a business or a division or a department and that’s what jerks your eyes open at 3 AM – wondering and worrying about what to do, what to do next, and what to do about what you’ve already done.

Believe it or not you’re not alone. Every single ambitious person who wants to accomplish something special goes through this every single day.


If you spend too much time in your personal echo chamber you start marching in lockstep to your own voice. You start believing your own hype, and you start getting high on your own supply. And while it’s great to have a singular vision and to follow it despite all evidence to the contrary, sometimes it’s a great comfort – and a wonderful asset – to be able to discuss your ideas and concerns with others who will both tell you the truth and hold you accountable to what you decide to do about it.

If any of these scenarios ring true, you need a group of people who have your back, care about your success, and are both honest and concerned enough to tell you the truth when you want to hear it.

And especially when you don’t.

A team like that – whether assembled casually or formally, from friends and business associates or simply like-minded professionals is called a Mastermind Group.

According to Forbes Magazine, Mastermind Groups are relatively new to most people, even though they were first created about 75 years ago. A Mastermind Group is designed to help you navigate through challenges using the collective intelligence of others.

Mastermind Groups can provide new ideas, help vet concepts, provide accountability, and expose you to the honest support that can help you and the people around you achieve success.

Do I practice what I preach?

I participate in three established groups and also put together ad hoc Mastermind Groups when I have a particularly vexing problem or potentially powerful opportunity to deal with. The strength of their collective thought and concern, together with the varied experiences of the participants, helps me benefit from thinking out loud and exploring different what-if scenarios. I am so enamored of the concept it dawned on me to create a series of moving masterminds as a business. I would invite the best minds around to get together and work with one another to challenge new ideas, expand concepts, strengthen suppositions, and test theories. Space is limited, as we cap the two daylong sessions at 16 people for a personal, one-on-one experience.

If you think you’d learn and grow by being part of a Mastermind Group, and even more importantly, if you think you can make a great contribution to others, we’d love to have you!

If you haven’t explored a Mastermind Group, you really don’t know what a great opportunity you’re missing. Once you get involved with the right group I know you’ll be thrilled by the meeting and the results. I know you’ll have a wonderful experience. And besides being so powerful, Mastermind Groups are also a lot of fun.

We’re planning our next program on September 6th and 7th and we’d love for you to join us.

To find out more, and decide if this exciting new concept is for you or someone you know, just drop a line to me or Jeff Shavitz at or or call Jeff at 561-988-8300.

Make Business Simple – My Four-Word Rules For Success. #6 in a series.

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Make Business Simple – My Four-Word Rules For Success. #6 in a series.

We͛ve spent the last few weeks talking about my four-word rules for business success. My goal remains simple: I want to give you easy to implement tools, tactics, and techniques to make your business – and your brand – better.

Each rule is only four words long because often that͛’s all it takes to make a huge difference when you build your brand and your business.

In case you missed any of the other rules, you can find them easily. Rule #1 is HERE. Rule #2 is HERE. Rule #3 is HERE. Rule #4 is HERE. And Rule #5 is right HERE.

Customers know best
Throughout his career, Frank Lloyd Wright designed enough breakthrough buildings to not only become one of America’s most famous architects but to also be the subject of a song by Simon & Garfunkel.

Besides residences, Wright also designed a corporate headquarters for S.C. Johnson and a school campus – Florida Southern University. In fact, the Lakeland Florida campus holds the largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright structures in one place.

Wright not only designed the buildings, but also created the site plan and dictated the land usage for Florida Southern. Legend has it the world-renowned architect left only one thing out:


When Wright presented his site plan there were no sidewalks. Instead, he told his patrons, “I’ll come back in a year and build the sidewalks AFTER I see where the kids walk.”

Wright knew that despite his best efforts to plan the traffic patterns for the campus, it was the users who would ultimately decide the best ways to get around.

Years ago, my parents’ restaurants sold a frozen orange juice dessert called an OJoy (OJ for Orange Juice. Get it?). After a few years they introduced a new dessert that swirled the orange OJoy with vanilla soft serve ice cream. It tasted just like a delicious Creamsicle and should have been a big success. The marketing geniuses named this new treat the “Son of OJoy.”

Only trouble was, consumers were embarrassed to order a “Son of OJoy.” Instead they’d ask for “one of those orange and vanilla things,” or “an OJoy with vanilla ice cream,” or some other clumsy made-up name. It wasn’t until we changed the name to the easy-to-say “SnoJoy” that sales picked up.

Avon created Skin So Soft to be a hand and body moisturizer. Skin So Soft users decided the lotion was more effective as a mosquito repellent.

Viagra was fomulated to treat high blood pressure and chest pain. Users discovered the drug was a little more effective a little further down the body.

My four-word rules for success #6? Your Customer Knows Best.

The smartest start-ups understand that no new business plan survives five minutes with the customer. Instead, they put a team together that is ready to zig and zag – to improvise and innovate – until they figure out where their products – and their customers’ desires – intersect.

As you build your company and your brand, always pay attention to what your customers buying habits are telling you.

Because Your Customer Knows Best.


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