Saving Your Business is Worth $20

Julie's phone went haywire last month. After visiting a local Verizon kiosk, a young employee diagnosed the issue and promised a new purple replacement within one week.

Four weeks later, the package finally arrived.

In this cavern:

And in gray.

Since the original battery, which was purple, needed to be transferred to the new phone, she decided to make a second trip to Verizon. You know what? That same employee offered to mail the cavern on his own and at his expense, ordered the purple replacement to be Fed-Ex'd by today (It arrived this morning, less than 24 hours later), and, to top it off, gave her twenty bucks.

I should clarify: Julie didn't cause a scene or enter the store with mascara-lined cheeks. This kid just recognized a customer in need of frustration diffusion. (Or else he was flirting, in which case I'm sending Julie to Customer Service from now on.)

The amount of money seemed arbitrary to me, but that's what left the biggest impression on her. Sometimes saving your business is worth $20.

Related Verizon posts:
Verizon and World Vision: Marketing Partners
"Is My Map in the Way?"


March of the Pilgrims

Our move a few weeks back makes 18 for me. Eighteen moves, and they don't include college room changes. I'd like to believe I'm done with this nomadic life, but who knows? I could have an address or two (or three) to go. I hope not.

As the culture editor at The High Calling Blogs, I had the privilege of hosting four writers for a late summer series on pilgrimage. We finished the series last week, though none of us is actually done moving, of course. It's in our dreams to stop, but it's human to move.

Cumberland Island, GA. Photo by Jeff Houser.
We're homebodies, all of us, especially (if not ironically) the wanderers and idolaters and dreamers. I might even throw creatives and entrepreneurs in that mix. Home is magnetic to us and we can't seem to find enough of it to satisfy. The craving to roam, to chase, signifies a deep, deep longing for what isn't in this moment. We have faith, yet it's so hard to wait.

I appreciated the series because the writers drew from personal experience to demonstrate the myriad ways - both good and bad - that we search for home.

Bob Gorinski addressed our infatuation with physical fitness and the perfect body:
"I play bio-mechanical detective, attempting to solve problems in the function of muscle, nerve, and bone. Most of my clients are on a serious journey toward change in their physical form and function....
[But t]he truth is that whole people are far beyond PTs, nutritionists, doctors, and the guy in the Facebook ad selling Acai Berry." (Read more...)
Claire Burge captured our use of pictures as tools that give memories a place in history:
"I live in Ireland and [my mother] lives in South Africa. I want to remember her when longing comes knocking on my door later this year; when her laughter no longer rings in my passageway....
Life is a pilgrimage with sacred value and photography helps us to freeze frame the significant landmarks along the way." (Read more...)   
Kami Rice moved us beyond the loneliness of pilgrimage and into a shared experience:
"I’m not sure I’ll put myself through Eat, Pray, Love again by queuing up for the Julia Roberts’ helmed movie version. Though Gilbert’s story has been offered out to an audience, I still don’t really sense that it includes an invitation to enter into the story....
Pilgrimage, for all its solitary-traveler glory, must hold [a]community element." (Read more...
And Margie Haack welcomed us into her living room for tea and a place to say that wandering is hard:
"When I finally began admitting that journeys back home didn’t reveal it as a place where both parents welcomed me – a place to stand soul-naked yet loved – I was nearly wrecked by the revelation....
Some of this is another story, but the gift (I use the word purposely) of this life experience was the desire to make our own home a resting place and solace for people passing through – rather like the inn by the way that gave Christian, John Bunyan’s famous pilgrim, enough hope and rest to continue his journey toward the Celestial City." (Read more...)
We could have continued this series for months. In fact, if I had an article for every idol we chase and every aspect of home that beckons, it might become my full-time job. However, this was a good start.

Enjoy meeting these folks if you haven't already. And keep walking. And keep resting.


Rad! And other responses to chaos reduction and self-promotion

My online life is splintered. The debris isn't as widespread as it is for many, but I sense the chaos factor increasing with each new application, community membership and task. Do you know the feeling? It's like having too many kids and always wondering if you left one of them at church.

I need to do some gathering. Case in point: I've had an off-the-beaten-path and very under-promoted promotional website for the past few years. It doesn't help that I never really liked the design, but it's still mine and I can't leave it behind.

Thanks to new tools here at Blogger, I'm finally doing something about it.

Irresistible self-promotion
This week I added two new pages to New Breed of Advertisers. They say more about what I do and how I might help you do what you do. You'll find the tabs at the top of the page. Pass them along to a professor, student, chaplain, copywriter.... Those are all folks I work with.

In case you're hesitating on whether or not to click on Talk and Write, I'll tempt you with this:

 See what I mean? Irresistible. That's me in the hat, chillin'.


Beer, Intihuatana and Frustrations

"The Intihuatana stone was damaged in September 2000 when a 450 kg (1,000-pound) crane fell onto it, breaking off a piece of stone the size of a ballpoint pen. The crane was being used by a crew hired by J. Walter Thompson advertising agency to film an advertisement for a beer brand."

- Wikipedia

Here I was reading about this most iconic Incan symbol, the ruins of Machu Picchu, one of the new seven wonders of the world, and I learn that commercialism broke it. Just one more reason to believe that advertising and alcohol are a bad combination.

That’s only partly tongue and cheek. Admonished by childhood memories of alcoholism and Jean Kilbourne’s treatise on the dangers of beer in advertising, I do think they are a bad combination. I’m also a fan of old things. If you’re going to break something old, at least have a worthwhile story behind it. Co-opting the historic site to move refreshments off the shelf is not one of them. This goes in the same consternating category as, “Why did you let your two-year-old play with my bone china teacups?!”

If you were paying attention to goings on in the advertising world ten years ago, you would remember this beer/crane/Intihuatana story. I missed it. But I discovered it today because I may be heading to Peru next spring. After pages of drool-inducing photos and captivating stories, and a two-hour meeting with CCO wilderness colleagues about piloting this new adventure, I was sadly reminded of our quest to exploit the pristine.

Even as a Leave No Trace card-holder, I don’t stick to a no-touch policy. Give me a chance and I’ll clamber all over those ancient walls (carefully). But I won’t cheapen them. It’s an interesting human predicament: the most sacred and marvelous and amazing sights we treat like Monopoly properties. Buy ‘em up and profit. Like Niagara Falls, which is now Mall of America with an attractive water feature in the center.

I’d better stop. Without TV for most of this summer due to our move, I’m a bit more sensitized to media misbehavior. I appreciate many aspects of advertising and haven’t been frustrated with it in a while, but today set me back.

Photo taken from a travel site.


EcoMarketing Subway-style

After a month and a half of long days and as many short nights, we finally finished the heavy work at our new place and moved in. The girls are happy for more floor space and we're excited to have something with fewer cracks in the walls. All of this prep, of course, meant physical labor, which meant - as I learned at a recent doctor's visit - that I lost five pounds.

That's not as much as Jared Fogle lost from eating Subway sandwiches, but then, I'm not trying to shed a 62-inch pair of pants either.

I came across a creatively written article this morning about the green movement based on Jared's marketing success for Subway. Jeff Dubin is the "founder of Green Meridian, a marketing research firm dedicated to helping marketers of green products succeed with both core green and mainstream consumers." In Paging Jared Fogle, he asks:

"I know Subway still keeps you busy traveling 200 days a year but if you have some spare time, it would be great if you could help the environment, too.

Why you? 'I'm the obesity guy, not the green guy,' you might protest. No, Jared you're Every Guy. We relate to you. If you committed to a green lifestyle, think of the possibilities. Maybe we'd get off our fossil fuel-burning butts like when you made us put down our boxes of Krispy Kremes and get out of our Barcaloungers a decade ago."
Regardless of whether you oppose this movement or embrace it, consume its products or advertise them, you have to admit that the creativity and success of ecomarketing has been tremendous. Dubin is being playful here, but so far, much of the movement has grown without a Jared.

Imagine what might happen with him.


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