Mother’s Day

Those of us in any kind of business tend to think in demographic terms.  We talk about various age/gender groups and how we can approach the right ones to sell more stuff.  Nothing wrong with that.  That’s what we do.

But today, I’d like to look at a particular demographic—Mothers.  This may be the one group that rarely, if ever, does things for their own benefit.  Dads buy things for more utilitarian purposes.  We buy tools and toys that either make us happy or more productive.

On the other hand, moms often buy things just because they make someone else happy.  They pass up the new dress in favor of a Barbie doll house.  They skip the trip to the beauty shop to pay for the dance lesson.  Moms are….well, they’re just moms.  Self-sacrifice is part of the job description.

And it’s a job they do willingfully, even gratefully from the time we’re conceived until the day they draw their last breath.  They’re the model for unselfishness.

Of course, we pay them back by giving them one day a year, a day called Mother’s Day, when we buy them a card and maybe take them out to dinner (or expect them to fix dinner for us).  Somehow it seems like we should do more.

But they don’t mind.  Their reward is to see their kids to grow up to be fine upstanding men and women.  The thing is, though, that whether you’re the Pope or a prisoner on death row, you mom loves you just the same.  In their eyes we can do no wrong.

So, for all you moms, have a Happy Mother’s Day.  Spend it with your kids (and grandkids) if you can.  But even if you can’t, know that we appreciate you and love you for all that you do for us.  I guess I’d better head for the Hallmark store.

It’s All About the Image

My wife and I belong to a local winery’s “club” which gives us a number of priveleges including an automatic quarterly shipment of wine and invitations to special events.  Over the weekend we attended a “release party” for their new line of upscale wines.

According to the owner, people were having a hard time justifying the spread of prices between the vintner’s low price and high priced product.  So, they’ve re-branded the more expensive wines with a more exclusive-sounding name and a new label.  While the original line is sold in grocery stores in the area, the new brand will only be available at the winery.

Guests at the party were the first to taste the new wines (remember, the only thing that’s changed is the label) and, of course, to be the first to purchase said wines.  It looked like everyone in attendance did leave with one or more bottles.

This is brilliant strategy!  A simple label change has added exclusivity to the winery’s high-end product which will allow them to charge a higher price.  Differentiating their winery-only items from the ones sold in supermarkets gives them a lot of flexibility in marketing through both channels.  The “release party” gave them a chance to stroke their best customers and to make sales that they wouldn’t have made otherwise.

Give this some thought.  What can you learn from this that you can apply to your own business?  Rebranding and event marketing are two excellent ways to keep your margins up, generate extra sales, and turn customers into advocates.

Watch Where You Put Your Paw!

There’s been a lot written recently on the web about an incident involving Domino’s Pizza.  It seems that two employees (now former employees) posted a video on YouTube of themselves doing nasty things to the foodl before serving it to customers.  The video was seen  by more than one million people before YouTube took it down.  Domino’s demanded that the video be removed because it violated their copyrights.  Even though the video has been removed from YouTube, it’s still out there and if you’re you interested, I’m sure you can find it.

Patrick Doyle, President of Domino’s has responded with an apology, also posted on YouTube.  I’ve linked to this video because I think we can all learn something from it.  Critics have complained that Doyle took too long to respond, but otherwise, it looks like the pizza chain has taken positive steps to limit the damage.

Here in Saint Louis, another food chain is facing a PR problem that hasn’t gotten the national attention that Domino’s has received, probably because there’s no YouTube video.  But as reported in the local newspaper,  a woman is suing Chuck E Cheese, claiming that she was groped by the mouse.  According to the suit, the chain’s mascot, a human-sized mouse, put his paw where he shouldn’t have.

Interestingly, the incident took place on August 8, 2008, nearly a year ago.  The suit is seeking punitive damages and court costs and claims that the plaintiff has suffered “emotional damage.”

I don’t mean to make light of sexual harrassment.  It’s a serious issue.  But both these incidents point out an unpleasant fact of 21st century life in the USA.  Your employees have the potential to do serious damage to your reputation. As long as they’re working for you, you’re responsible for their actions.  And with online sites like YouTube the damage can be far reaching.

Domino’s has promised to tighten up their hiring processes and to do more inspections of its restaurants.  Aparantly Chuck E Cheese is still deciding what they’re going to do.  In any case, we have to be constantly on our toes to make sure our staffs conduct themselves professionally or we could be in big trouble.

“Special” Precautions for Small Businesses?

I posted the other day on the swine flue but I thought I’d go ahead and give you a link to an article in USA Today called “Small Businesses Can Take Special Precautions Against the Flu.”  Even though the piece offers nothing especially new on the subject whether you’re a small business or a multi-national corporation,  there are several links to other useful items that you might find interesting.

We may see some drop in traffic depending on where our customers are getting their information.  There doesn’t seem to be a reason to panic (regardless of what the vice-president says) but it’s only prudent to take proper precautions.  Common sense, which isn’t so common nowadays, should be your best guide.