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9 07, 2012

If I Can’t Find You I Can’t Buy From You

By |2017-03-03T12:07:05-05:00July 9th, 2012|Categories: Advertising, Blog, Customer Satisfaction, Customer Service|Tags: , , , , , |2 Comments

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The other day I  was driving on a major highway  and noticed a billboard on my right. I don’t slow down for billboards, unless I’m planning on being the accident of the day, but this one made me laugh. I decided to get off at the exit and make a second pass at it.

The billboard was simple: lots of white space and a one-line address; no city name, just a street number.

As I whizzed past the billboard and the exit I thought, “Where is 700 Central Avenue?” I know my way around, but I don’t think about the business numbers as I drive the highway.

Is it more of a women’s thing? Would a man automatically know the address? I was wondering what it was near and where should I exit. By the way if you Google “700 Central Avenue” it brings up about a dozen addresses in different states.

The number is meaningless to me; maybe it’s just me . I remember places by locations and landmarks not by numbers.

To check out my theory,  I reached in my book case for a copy of what I call my “gender marketing bible.” The book is called, Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps by Allan and Barbara Pease.

If you’re interested in gender differences, Barbara and Allan Pease are the best  and the funniest.  According to the book, I was on the right track; women are more likely to find places by their locations rather than their addresses. For instance, “next to Marshals on Central Avenue” makes more sense than  700 Central Avenue. Having both of the above is even better. How about including the city name so I can put it in my GPS tracking system?

To a man, it’s 700 Central Avenue and that’s good enough.  Okay so here’s the disclaimer, this is stereotypical and not everyone thinks this way. But if it’s true, to a woman 700 Central Avenue is just “out there.”

This prompted me to research billboards in general. What are the tips for building an effective billboard? I have never researched billboards and know very little about them. This article, Ads on Your Digital Billboard: You Are Your Customers’ Salesman, Not an Artist had three tips that seem very useful.

    • Advertising messages should be created for, and directed at, the Heavy Using Customers in your category. I would think in this case women although men seem to be doing lots of the supermarket shopping.
    • Women make (almost all of) the financial decisions and they buy (almost) everything—commercial as well as consumer goods. That doesn’t seem surprising.
    • People over 50 comprise 29% of the population and they control 77% of financial assets (and they are the target for 10% of all advertising!!!) It’s interesting that more advertising dollars aren’t  spent on the over 50 crowd; I was beginning to think it was personal.

A billboard is a way to market your customer service. Directions to your business are part of customer service, and not everyone thinks the same way.  I thought maybe the billboard was a teaser; it was so exciting that everyone will get to the exit and go back and read it again—I wonder.

In order to get known a business has to market itself and its customer service to the target consumer. Customer service is a prevailing attitude that permeates the company—it is “the company” and defines your business.

If businesses defined it this way, they wouldn’t  be cryptic about their directions. Maybe I don’t have a sense of humor. I know I don’t have much time to shop or do anything other than work.

How about his; “We just came to town and to find us get off at the next exit, exit 5. You’ll find us at 700 Central Avenue.

Oh and by the way, when I get to the intersection do I turn right or left?

Lisbeth Calandrino helps businesses build loyal relationships with their target customers through customer service seminars. To have her speak at your next event, call 518.495.5380.

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11 01, 2012

Is There A Woman I Can Talk To?

By |2017-03-03T12:07:07-05:00January 11th, 2012|Categories: Blog, Customer Service, Sales|Tags: , , , , , , , , |3 Comments

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Woman talking to the Progresso Soup chefSeveral months ago I wrote a blog on how women were no different than men; it was sort of tongue-in-cheek and it caused quite a stir which is always fun. I’m always on the alert for gender related commercials; there’s a fine line between funny and insulting and it’s not always obvious. I recently read there are three parts to an advertisement,  the surface meaning, what you see immediately and your first impression, the advertising intention, what are they selling and the cultural part of the ad–how we really get connected. ( By the  way, this information is taken from and  included in an interesting blog, the Gender Ad Project Blog which shows you how to analyze advertisements and their meanings.  

And then I noticed  the  Progresso Soup commercials. The one I like the best is the one where the woman is excitingly telling the chef about her weight loss. Since he doesn’t quite get it she asks if there’s a woman she can talk to. In the photo above, this woman is talking about her weight loss and her engagement.

The commercials are charming and very clever and give us insight into this particular woman; she believes a woman would be more interested in talking with  her about her weight loss. 

 I went to YouTube and checked out the Progresso Soup commercials and found several more involving women , as well as some home grown  “copy cat commercials” that are really funny. The commercials show  grown ups having fun talking about their grandmothers and one of our favorite childhood foods–soup. My own grandmother, Christine,  used to make a mean lentil soup. The key to all these commercials is the personalization and the connection to the family.

The commercials are just funny and nostalgic and involve happy customers. How does this fit for your business? Do your commercials involve nostalgia  and personalization? After watching one of your commercial do customers feel delighted and connected? Many business don’t realize that anything that anything that them to their customers is a form of  great customer service.

 Here are 6 ways to stay involved with your customers whether they’re men or women.

1. Vow to have fun with your business and your customers ; the world is far too serious so lighten  up. Go ahead and make fun of yourself and your business. As a salesperson, you need to to ask  your customers what they think about your commercials. This way you will have a way to connect and you will know what works.  Your customers know better than anyone if your advertising connects. Fun and humor are a great way to connect with your customers.

2. Involve your customers in your commercials; Progresso has a cute contest where you can make your own commercial and write a 300 word essay about your “soup” experience.

3. Post your commercials and ideas to your YouTube channel and invite your customers to do the same.

4. Invite your customers to share their ideas about the use of your product; give a prize for the most original idea or several prizes.

5. Don’t forget to feature everything on Facebook and invite comments. Who knows what you’ll discover about your products.

6. Whenever possible, build connections with your customers, personal connections. Get to know them, their likes and dislikes and become friends. 

I read through the comments on one of the Progresso videos  and someone wanted to know who made the tile backsplash–they wanted it!  It just shows, business can come from anywhere.

Lisbeth Calandrino is a small business consulting providing sales and customer service training. Her book, Red Hot Customer Service can be ordered from her web site.

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2 10, 2010

Funnier Than Funny, But Does It Sell?

By |2017-03-03T12:07:12-05:00October 2nd, 2010|Categories: Blog, Competitive Advantage, Customer Service, fun, Reaching the Consumer, Sales|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |8 Comments

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image of Stanley Steamer commercial with alpaca

This makes me laugh!

I have been intrigued with “Have you ever cleaned an alpaca?” a commercial from Stanley Steamer. The two cleaning guys are in the truck and one is explaining how exciting it is to clean up after an Alpaca. It is cute, funny and definitely different. I went to Youtube to  view the video and look at the comments. The comments are interesting, what they say is ,  “I want and Alpaca, they’re so cute.” So much for Stanley Steamer, the cleaning company  being cute.

It would be interesting for the franchise people to ask their customers how they came into the store. Was it a friend’s recommendation or a past experience with the company.  They may have seen the commercial but  seeing the commercial might not be connected to their coming into the store. How many commercials have you seen, and liked, but didn’t drive you to the store or buy the product?

Maybe it would have been more relevant if they went to the local Humane Society and put their products in the animal cages or used their product to clean the cages. It would mean something to me and thousands of pet owners. As my friend Godzilla said, if you have an Alpaca in your house you have more problems than most of us that won’t be solved by either cleaning or special carpet.  It would have hit home and many of us would have gone to the shelter to adopt some pets. This is another important connection to the customer.

Another commercial similar to this was when Mohawk Carpet went to the Birmingham Zoo and featured Ricko the Black Rhinoceros as the featured mess maker to see if SmartStrand carpet with built-in stain resistance would do its job. Included in this was a Save the Rhino pairing with the Birmingham Zoo. This can be watched at

I love the Geico commercials and the latest being the “little Piggy cried all the way home.” The parody at Saturday Night Live,  are even funnier.


Remember “where’s the beef?” Did it change your mind about Burger King.

Both are darling commercials, bringing in the customer  through their love of animals as well as their carpet and carpet cleaning concerns.  Differentiation is what businesses need to build a competitive advantage but not all differentiation is considered a competitive advantage. When you have a competitive advantage it’s easy to build Red Hot Customer Service.

How do you know? You may not but you should try by asking your customers.

Ask customers about your commercial, in their mind how does it connect with their problems?  Most customers probably don’t have Rhinoceros or Alpaca stains. Does the customer get the part that both of these products will solve their most difficult problems? Does the customer think they have stains as awesome as the Alpaca? Do they think this is over kill? Do they think they need a product that will prevent staining like Ricko or do they find all of these stains disgusting?

There is a commercial for Schweppes that was a take off on the old James Bond movies. this commercial starred John Cleese. It was slapstick funny, didn’t seem to fit with Schweppes and wound up on the cutting floor. Maybe too funny or just too stupid. Frankly I didn’t really get it but love John Cleese.

Fun will sell if you use it to lighten up your customer and still use it to  reinforce your important message and  the promise to your customer.

It should be funny but not too funny so the customer forgets what you’re selling–and so do you.

Funny is a way to produce emotion in your customer and emotion is one way to build rapport. Humor is a grand way to build a connection with your customer but if it’s  so funny that you can’t connect it with your product or don’t  connect it’s a problem.

Suggestion: use humor it to add a light moment for your customer rather than an out-of-this-world funny. Save the funny for the comedians.

The key to funny, the commercial should make the product unforgettable and make the customer want to buy it.

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