Category Archives: Outside:In Mindset

How L.L. Bean Creates Employee Brand Ambassadors

Wouldn’t it be financially advantageous if employees throughout the organization could regularly think like their customers?

There are creative ways to encourage the development of passionate customer-focused champions/ambassadors for products and services.

L.L. Bean store in Freeport, ME. Credit: L.L. Bean.

L.L. Bean store in Freeport, ME. Credit: L.L. Bean.

Iconic brand L.L. Bean offers and implements a suite of programs to create raging fans inside the company, which ultimately help Bean outside the company.

Consider Bean’s “Team Days” and “Outdoor Experience Days:”

“From hikes to paddling trips, we provide opportunities for employees to develop their outdoor interests, enjoy L.L.Bean products and build stronger relationships with coworkers.”

These are paid days out-of-the-office.  Depending on seniority, salaried employees receive 3-5  per year for such activities.  That’s money well-spent. Continue reading

How To Take a Fresh Look, Get New Ideas & Tackle A Challenging New Job

Let’s say you’re a new business unit leader or CMO.

You want to get an unvarnished, 360-degree view of the situation and challenge at-hand.  You have to get prepared to give your boss an action plan.

What do you do and how do you do it?

To demonstrate, let’s use a high-profile, global example that just happened.  I’ll tell you who it is at the end of the post.

Blackboard with words Look Listen Learn

Image: iStock

Here are some of the steps taken by the new leader:

* Invited a range of outside industry experts to a private dinner.  They represented views both consistent with, and alternate to, the company’s strategic direction.

* The guests had to earn their meal by commenting on the most pressing problems facing the company.  Specifically, they were asked:  “Tell me something I don’t know;” and “Give me a new way of thinking about things.”

Continue reading

Joe Pulizzi Knows Content Marketing. You Can Too.

Do you want to get smarter about using content marketing to grow your business?

Then read Epic Content Marketing by Joe Pulizzi. Recognized as a content marketing evangelist, Pulizzi is the author of three books and the founder of the Content Marketing Institute.

His third book is full of practical tips that are integrated with solid marketing discipline.  It’s easy-to-read, has lots of examples, and contains “how to” implementation steps.

Whether you’re an up-and-comer marketer or a skilled practitioner, there’s something to strengthen your marketing tool kit in this book.

4 NUGGETS PLUS 5TH BONUS TO GET YOU STARTED

1.  Content Marketing Definition.  “Your customers don’t care about you, your products, or your services.  They care about themselves. their wants, and their needs.  Content marketing is about creating interesting information your customers are passionate about so they actually pay attention to you.Continue reading

Fun Test at School: Get Your Healthy Lunch from the Food Truck

You might think it’s a mission impossible marketing challenge to get high school students excited about, and actually eating, healthier school lunches.

Perhaps not.  A Colorado high school nutrition team, facing an 80% non-dining rate, has come up with a creative, disruptive action plan.  

Photo: iStock.

Photo: iStock.

Last week,  the Boulder Valley School District agreed to accept a $75,000 donation from Whole Foods to acquire a used food truck and create their own healthy eating food truck program.

It’s smart marketing for two, key reasons: Continue reading

Master of Disguise – Texas Roadhouse CEO Goes Incognito for External Learning

“It’s important that I not be recognized when scouting. I have Bubba teeth to dive to another level. The goofier you are, the more folks don’t care about telling you stuff.”  Kent Taylor, Texas Roadhouse CEO

Photo: Texas Roadhouse Facebook.

Photo: Texas Roadhouse Facebook.

Getting closer to your business operations, employees and even competitors doesn’t require a trip to your local pop-up costume store.  Save that for this year’s Halloween shopping.

Kent Taylor, the founder and CEO of Texas Roadhouse provides a funny reminder that business leaders need to avoid the ivory tower syndrome and get out into the market for real learning. Continue reading

Ask Your Customer – Part 3 of a Continuing Series

Don’t be afraid to ask your customers how you’re doing.

The alternative is that maybe one day you won’t have the same number of customers to ask.

I’ve written about the importance of customer learning and market research before, including posts titled A Cure for We-know-it-itis and Ask Your Customer.

ShopRite SurveyMy latest “Ask Your Customer” example comes from the retail grocery industry.

ShopRite is a leading northeast supermarket retailer with 250 stores in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware.  It’s the primary consumer brand for Wakefern Corporation, “the largest retailer-owned cooperative in the United States,” per the company.

Wakefern has a sophisticated marketing and merchandising operation.

At the same time, they deploy this simple customer learning tool (picked-up in a NJ store):

Dear ShopRite

I especially like the following two questions because (1) it’s about time good people get credit; and (2) it’s an opportunity to learn something about the product assortment selection: Continue reading

For Growth & Success, Get Out of the Office

There’s only so much you can do sitting at your desk.

Let’s face it.  If you’re not engaging off-site with everyone and everything that makes your company tick, that’s a problem – and lost opportunity.

That’s why you and your business team colleagues need to periodically get out of the office and, for example:

•  Listen to your customers;

•  Get direct feedback from your ultimate end-users;

•  Work with sales colleagues;

•  Investigate and learn about important marketing geography;

•  Talk with manufacturing colleagues in the plant.

Photo: Company Facebook.

I was reminded of this critical factor for success by Starwood Hotels & Resorts.

Twice in the last two years, Starwood has temporarily moved corporate HQ to another country for month-long immersions:

“To get to the heart of two of Starwood’s key markets — China and the Middle East, which account for 75% of its growth — the hotel group’s leadership team, including Mr. [Phil] McAveety [Executive VP-Chief Brand Officer at Starwood], the CEO, chief financial officer and others, took a month to immerse themselves in each location. The team spent March in Dubai and visited China in 2011.”

(Emma Hall, Advertising Age, A Peek Into Starwood Hotels’ Marketer Immersion Program)

Starwood does this to learn.  Here’s what they said in a company statement: Continue reading