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I ordered a coat from Bloomingdale’s last week to take advantage of their huge winter reductions (thank you, Scarlett DeBease!). When I opened the package I was delightedly surprised to see the enclosed card tucked inside my well-wrapped garment.
Of course I had to think, “How did they know?” Followed by, “They must say that to all their shoppers!” And then considered how well-crafted the message was, because it was indeed true.
Notice how much of my attention Bloomingdale’s received (and is now the beneficiary of with this posting) by coming up with this flattering, well thought out campaign.
Below you can read what was printed on the reverse side. How likely do you think they are to receive an increased response rate to their survey? What are you taking away from this? How to capture your customer’s attention is a tried, true and evergreen–flattery. Have you tried it lately?
Here’s one way I can measure my growth in business. I received this IMPORTANT envelope from the United States Trademark Registration Office in Saturday’s mail. Whenever I get something government related, I have to admit, I feel a bit intimidated. Did I do something wrong? Do I owe money? Right there at the post office, I felt vulnerable.
I waited till I got home to open the envelope, then read the contents which suggested that I owed a $375 fee on a trademark I’d taken out six years ago. One I had already paid hefty sums for. There was a lot of legal looking language in the text, so I had a moment of panic. Do I still owe money on that thing?
Then, I looked at the envelope again and thought, “A government agency in Los Angeles? Wha’?”
I immediately went to google, inserted ‘trademark registration office Los Angeles’ and saw an article in Ripoff Report explaining the scam being run.
The whole process lasted under 30 minutes as I went from fear-based entrepreneur to slightly annoyed, wiser seasoned business owner. And that’s what 30 plus years in business can do for you. You learn what to pay attention to and what to investigate before taking action. Years ago I may have simply sent in the check and been sadder, poorer and not much wiser. Today, I take the pause that refreshes and took action on my own behalf.
Any other scams you’ve been subjected to that you’d care to share?
When Meredith Gray, a good friend and Artsy Girl, recommends a video I take it seriously. She’s a former magazine editor and fashion stylist. I find her taste level and aesthetic impeccable. She responded to my cry for help from my sickbed last week asking for interesting things to watch while laid up. She promptly sent me a link to the Charles and Ray Eames PBS documentary and I just as promptly watched it.
As it said in the film, everyone is familiar with the famous Eames chair designs, but I was not aware of their influence and innovation in so many other areas of the design world. I wasn’t even aware that there was a THEY and that Ray was Charles’ wife, not a brother or son. She had an extraordinary role to play in the output from their studio, but took up less space publicly because of the decades in which they worked. Women were often behind the scenes fame-wise, even though she was clearly an equal contributor.
You’ll have to watch the video for the complete story, but one piece I will share here is about the IBM Pavilion at the 1964 New York Worlds Fair conceived and designed by Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen. You get to see the pen and ink drawings of their concepts. They were the first to use a multi-screen theatre. They invented it. Although we take that elaborate technology for granted these days, they told how perfect the timing had to be so that each image — thousands of photographs were taken worldwide to convey how IBM impacted our lives–would appear at precisely the right time to match the words from the announcer. The announcer, they said, had a nervous breakdown before the event because of the demands and pressure to pull off this breakthrough performance.
You meet many of the designers from their office in the film. In one interview I heard about the ‘plunger’ concept–how Eames envisioned the patrons of the pavilion rising into the domed structure. The employee asked Charles Eames how to implement the elevator concept in this most unusual fashion. “Figure it out,” he was told. Reminded me of Steve Jobs’ innovations and ‘reality distortion field.’ Somehow the impossible gets created when great minds have a vision and others support it.
I’m thrilled by these amazing inventors. Any other recommendations?
I know I’m late to the party, but I’ve arrived. In one of my webinar modules I quoted David Pogue talking about his conversion to twitter three years ago. After hearing all the fuss, he still didn’t ‘get’ what was so great. Until he was on a selection committee for the MacArthur grant and one of the proposed projects had a vaguely familiar ring to it. Committee members looked at each other blankly. Had this been done before? Then one committed tweeter in their group posted the question to his followers and had a response and a link within 30 seconds. The proposed project had been done, and Pogue saw the brilliance of the medium in real time.
That happened for me via Facebook this weekend. I was flattened by the stomach bug. All I could do was lie in bed and suck ice chips. With all that down time, it occurred to me to reach out via Facebook as a possible source of sympathy and help. I entered my status and asked for advice on how others got through the virus and what I might do to entertain myself in the interim.
Very quickly I had all the help I needed. Good help too. I got food recommendations as well as a link to an inspiring documentary (tomorrow’s post) on Charles and Ray Eames.
Facebook didn’t make my sickness go away, but I believe that following my friends’ advice and feeling so heartened by their love and concern made me better.
Please, someone, anyone, remind me that I’m a smart person. Because I’m surely not feeling it lately. There’s something about tax time that raises my self-doubt to the tipping point. (Or maybe it was the addition of a rough stomach virus that had me considering retirement yesterday…)
I just called Lauren at my payroll company because I received something from the Department of Labor declaring 1.90% as the minimum contribution rate for 2012 followed by the number 73. Huh? I brought this sheet to my accountant yesterday who referred me to the payroll people. I have no idea what this means. But when I called my payroll processor, she said, “Oh, no problem. Fax it over and we’ll make that change.”
There’s a high level of trust here, because I’m truly in the dark and don’t even want to ask the first question. Do you EVER feel like that?
My meeting with my accountant went well. Until I got tripped up on the part where he said that the charitable contributions I’d made aren’t business expenses, but are deductible in another way. What’s the difference?
If you’re reading this and thinking, “But, Jane, everyone knows this stuff,” please give me a call and really dumb it down for me.
What I’m really curious to hear about from you is: what puts you over the edge? We’re all operating at such a high level in so many areas of our lives. When I’m tripped up by my lack of knowledge, I don’t want to minimize my brilliance, as I am wont to do. I’ve got good recovery skills, but would love to prevent the deep dive.
What I’m truly grateful for is that there are professionals out there who can guide me through…and not judge me. I don’t have to understand it all, so long as I have good people in place who do.
I saw Marc at the New York Times Crossword Puzzle Contest at the Westport Library on February 3. I actually knew that he’d be there because of his LinkedIn tongue-in-cheek bragging about how well he was going to do at the event. I teased him about that, which started a conversation, which led to his bringing up Geri.
The next day he sent both Geri, a colleague of his he thought I should meet, and me a detailed email about each others strengths and what we had in common. From there, Geri and I communicated back and forth and set a date for coffee and a brainstorming session.
We clicked immediately and found common ground in presenting webinars and contributing critical information to small business owners. Sparks were flying in the back of the cafe where we sat over capuccino and tea.
It’s so much easier to connect and find a pathway when someone else plays matchmaker to your talents. I’m grateful to Marc for paving the way for what I believe will be a valuable joint venture relationship with Geri. That’s how networking thrives–when an interested third party identifies your skill sets and goes through his/her mental Rolodex to make the match. It’s basic networking which, when done well, benefits all involved. I’m now extra grateful to Marc for being so forthcoming with his contacts. I’d like to return the favor. And so it grows…
I recently bumped into a friend I hadn’t seen in a few years. We had a lot in common when we first met–young kids, young businesses. We were close friends during those early decades, but life, moves and different industries took us in different directions.
It’s always interesting to hear what comes up when you see someone from the past. What I wasn’t expecting was to hear about her financial woes during our less than 5 minute conversation. And a request to spend time with me, ostensibly for my advice. I left feeling icky. Would she even listen to my advice, or would she just continue to vent her upset? Do I turn down a friend? I have a hunch she won’t call.
I remember meeting a young woman at a networking event who had her infant on her shoulder–an unusual enough sight at a business meeting. But our brief conversation had me backing away quickly from her negativity. “What a beautiful baby,” I said admiringly. “Thank you,” she replied, “but she should be with her deadbeat father who left me high and dry tonight.” Speaking of too much information.
My big takeaway, and my nugget to pass onto you, is to notice what’s bubbling up in your conversations and be sure that it’s what you want to be talking about. If your personal pain is spilling out uncontrollably, it’s time to go for help. But a random meeting in a parking lot is not the place to begin.