The Funniest Brand Blunder?

January 26, 2010

Does your organization make sense or does it incense? There I was with a flat tire, pulled into the darkened grocery store parking lot.  Right in front of me, lights aglow was an emergency roadside vehicle.  I slowly whop…whop…whop alongside the pristine white truck with its engine purring. Oh goodie,  CA…

I knock on the tinted window, no answer. Knock on the window again, no answer. (For a second I think what if he’s  jumping someone’s battery in the back?). I call the emergency roadside assistance number. I’ve got a flat tire, you’ve got a truck right beside me. Can you wake him up and get him to help me?

No, that truck is not assigned to changing tires.

What about the man inside the truck? Can he change my tire?


I would have to wait for 40 minutes for the ‘official’ flat tire repair vehicle. Did I say I was in Canada, ccccold Canada?  The guy in the ‘I might look like a knight in shining white armour ’cause my truck is so  pretty’ wakes up (alone), won’t make eye contact and drives away.

Roadside assistance or road side asinine?  The brand forgot its mission which is to give customers’ peace of mind. I felt like giving them a piece of my mind.  When a brand focuses on doing things right instead of doing the right thing – efficiency over effectiveness – they are bound to have brand blunders.

If you have a brand wow or ow, let me know.

PS.  Yes my dad taught me how to change a tire and no I didn’t have a warm enough coat or mitts and yes I started to empty my trunk and get the Honda Barbie wheel and Ken doll jack out and do it myself anyway and no I didn’t finish because I love my fingers. Typing is after all my fall back career.

(c) Louise Karch,

Haiti Blink

January 21, 2010

Moments. A bus painted like a party, colourful as Crayola, unmoving as a headstone. Haiti. You were poor before the quake; you are poorer now. As the world rushes in to help and criticize I see that bus, cheerful amongst the ruins. Poor, Black, fought over and ignored in equal measure, I wonder about the photographer who wanted us to see your true spirit, hope in jewel tones, bright, bold, and unmistakably resilient.

Doctors without Borders ( told The Globe and Mail they bought saws in the market for amputations because a plane full of medical supplies was thrice thwarted from landing. Say that three times without painkillers. I take comfort knowing the doctors are there. When I donate to them I am doing it because I want the men and women cutting through bone to know they aren’t alone. I would be as useless as Paris Hilton in their O.R. but I can pick up a phone.

I saw a picture of Craig Keilburger founder of sitting, head tilted forward surrounded by and listening to Haitian children. I am glad he is there. Everyone pulls on heartstrings hoping to open wallets. That’s not what got me. It was a bus, a saw and a Canadian kid who has grown into a compassionate leader. It was good people doing what they do, painting buses, taking pictures, amputating limbs. I haven’t slept all night. Sure it is jet leg but it’s also my heart. I am away from the one I love and that makes me sappily grateful and in moments lost.  If money speaks let mine say thanks.

Fast or Last? 4 Ways to Stop Losing Fans Online

January 12, 2010

Most of the clients you want have money but not time. In the comedic drama Jerry Maquire, the 90s found one of its most iconic lines ‘Show me the money.” In the 2010 ‘now economy’ people are more apt to scream ‘Don’t waste my time’.

Let’s re-think e-experiences to show our fans, clients, customers, or donors that we care about what matters to them – their time.

1. Make It Easy. Friend and client Susan Jacobs, an Image Consultant who runs, is part of a makeover contest hosted in part by a radio station. Susan sent out an email inviting people to vote for the best makeover – and they are fabulous.  I happily clicked onto the radio station’s site, clicked again then faced a daunting page full of fill in the blanks. Name, email, street address, sex, and had I slept with Tiger Woods? (He might be the Player of 2009 but no). The station is data mining which is time consuming and annoying. By asking for everything they got nothing.

2. Make It Fast. A savvy financial advisor with a stellar reputation, and for good reason, sent an e-invitation to a great networking lunch. In the past I called in to register. This time I thought, I’ll save time and do it online. Isn’t that what the web is all about? Need purple pottery made by dwarves? Google and in a tenth of second you can order a teacup direct from Dumpy. Fabulous, except I couldn’t find the registration so emailed to find out what to do. A response quickly came back, which explained the three click throughs to register.

3. Make It Strategic Forgetting that 2010 is the year I resigned from General Manager of the Universe, I sent a reply email  saying here’s my website designer in case you want an email with an embedded registration. ‘No thank you’ said the gracious advisor’s email.  Site click throughs were a strategical tool to encourage people to view her services. This is an admirable concept except I noticed I didn’t notice anything except I couldn’t find what I was looking for.

4. Make it One Click and That’s It. I went back to the site to register and, out of curiosity, timed how long it took: 57 seconds, which was fast but it felt long and that’s the point. The Internet has changed our felt experience of time. When Goggle did a study and offered people twice the hits per search, people reported ‘extreme unhappiness’ when they took half a second longer to load (from Vince Poscente’s The Age of Speed).

The savvy financial advisor has such a good event and reputation that a few clicks are forgiven but what she is inadvertently doing is saying working with her requires a bit of effort.  Because she hasn’t proven to the new visitor that she is worth it, she might be creating doubt.  Time is scare so value your clients’ seconds and they’ll give you their precious minutes.

Cheers, L

P.S.  Resign from General Manager of the Universe and save yourself embarrassment (oh how I regret sending the advisor a ‘helpful’ email, and …time.

WOMBAT selling could save you.

January 10, 2010

WOMBAT, Michael Hewitt-Gleeson’s savvy book on ‘How to Sell by Word of Mouth’ published by Hordie Grant Books is my first favourite read of 2010. I love writers who slay cherished assumptions with social science. Hewitt-Gleeson leverages a PhD of credibility and 20 years of international experience in leadership, creativity and sales to decree closing the sale is dead.

I agree with this Melbournian and half way around the world, California authors Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg in Waiting for Your Cat to Bark?: Persuading Customers When They Ignore Marketing concur.  Let me add, no one wants to be told and sold. Sales pressure is a total turn off, making buying a pleasure is a turn on. Remember, the client who feels manipulated will be your next social media headache.

I have heard Sales Directors say a staff member was a terrible ‘closer’ and knew they were wrong because I’d witnessed day after day of  exceptional customer care. While I tried to encourage the manager to change their focus from the salesperson’s  ‘close problem’ to eliminating the myriad of road blocks experienced on the buyer’s journey (thank you Eisenberg brothers) it was a hard sell.  Not surprising, it is easier blame a character flaw than face organizational failings.  I also didn’t have a strong enough rationale to make my case. Now I do.

Hewitt-Gleeson gives us sound strategies to be effective rainmakers. Sample WOMBAT (Word of Mouth Buy and Tell) approaches include focusing more on the sales start because that is what you can control, leveraging your client database, and using the power of 10 to multiply your efforts. It all sounds like I’ll need a better multi-vitamin but I’m game because old sell is dead.

If managers keep pushing people to do the wrong thing well, crazy has a whole new definition. Outdated sales rhetoric only makes revenue generators feel inadequate because the manager’s advice doesn’t work. No organization can afford to disengage the very people needed to keep them viable.

Wombat Selling and Waiting For Your Cat To Bark – odd that it’s animal metaphors that are reminding us of what people really want. No sales pressure just buying pleasure so delightful that it generates word omouth buyers and tellers.  Sounds like 2010 is the year of the WOMBAT. Dig that.

Happy New Year, L

Good is no longer good enough. The goal is perfection and the path that takes us there leads to excellence.
Louise B. Karch