Archives For Purpose

People are dissatisfied with banking. A recent study from the Rassmussen Report reveals that American Consumers hold a grudge against banks who they hold responsible for the great recession. Many consumers believe that banks don’t have their best interests at heart. Bank fees are often confusing and hit your checking account when you can least afford them. People feel like idiots when they are hit with a bank fee. Most people, at one time or another, have had a nightmare customer service experience with a large bank. Large banks have some of the lowest customer experience and customer service ratings. People feel powerless to change things. Banks talk about being customer focused but very few of them empathize with the needs of their customers. Banks make money by keeping people confused. 

Like many people, Josh Reich got fed up with his bank after it charged him overdraft fees and he lived through a painful customer service experience. This motivated Reich, a software engineer from Australia, to come up with a better more human way to bank. 

Reich created Simple, an online banking company that was founded in Brooklyn and relocated to Portland, Oregon. Simple offers customers free checking and data analysis of their transactions and spending habits. The company, which began signing up customers in 2012 now has more than 80,000 accounts and has processed transactions worth more than $200 million. Simple does not have retail branches.
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The Simple Bank Brand was developed to help people better control their finances. All employees in the company are unified in support of this common purpose. Their goal is to make banking more human by putting customer service at the core of everything they do. Simple is targeted to people who are dissatisfied with their current banking relationship. A Simple account empowers customers with powerful budgeting and savings tools built right into their account. These tools show customers how much money they have to spend and help people save for specific goals like vacations. Their website and mobile apps are clean, simple and easy to use. Simple gives people tools to help themselves, while still making sure knowledgeable, friendly people are there to help when you need them.

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The company’s biggest challenge is customer acquisition. Despite their current dissatisfaction, it is difficult to get customers to change and leave their current bank. Changing banks is a lot of work.

Would you leave your current bank if a better more human option was available?


 
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Ten years ago Dove set out to widen the definition of beauty. In 2004 Dove commissioned a research study called “The Real Truth About Beauty” to more deeply understand the relationship of women, beauty and well-being. The results of the study were very surprising. Only two percent of women interviewed considered themselves to be beautiful, while the majority placed themselves in the average or below average category. The study found that women felt disconnected from the way culture describes beauty. The study found that women held different criteria for beauty than popular culture. Women see emotional qualities, character and individuality as equally expressive of beauty as the narrow physical aspects of beauty that currently dominate popular culture.

In 2004, Dove launched the “Campaign For Real Beauty”. The campaign was designed to change the conversation about the need for a wider definition of beauty. This campaign has had a positive impact on women, changed the conversation and generated strong sales increases. Dove produced one of the best ads of 2013 in “Real Beauty Sketches”. 

Last week Dove premiered “Selfie” an eight minute film that challenges young women through social media to take an honest selfie and to encourage their mothers to do so, too. “Selfie” premiered at the Sundance Institute in Park City, Utah. This marked the 10th anniversary of Dove’s “Campaign For Real Beauty”.

Selfie is directed by Oscar Winning Documentarian Cynthia Wade and produced by Sharon Liese. “Selfie” captures the journey of multiple generations of girls and their mothers in the western Massachusetts town of Great Barrington as they create a new type of selfie that celebrates their unique beauty. In the film, the girls admit that they adopted many of the insecurities that their mothers also felt. The girls are seen getting together with their moms to create a new type of selfie that features what they perceive as their least desirable physical features.  

A decade later, Dove has uncovered through a major study in the U.S. that 62% of women feel they are responsible for influencing their own definition of beauty, nearly triple the number from ten years ago. Women believe the definition of beauty has evolved to become more inclusive and have taken on the role of defining the standard for themselves and each other.

Social media has emerged as one of the most powerful influencing factors in how women define beauty. Social media offers women the opportunity to create their own media, personalize beauty and influence the conversation. More than half (55%) of women believe social media is playing a larger role in influencing the beauty conversation than traditional media.

“Selfie” is an excellent short film. Dove has done a great job promoting self esteem. As a father of teen age girls and a husband, I applaud what Dove has done. Once again they have redefined the notion of beauty. Dove has stayed true to their brand purpose of celebrating women’s unique beauty.

What do you think of Dove’s short film “Selfie”?

Marriott was founded by J. Willard Marriott and his wife Alice in 1927. They originally opened a nine stool A&W Root Beer Shop in Washington D.C. as a place to get a cool drink during the hot and humid summers. As the first summer drew to a close, the Marriott’s looked for additional ways to attract customers. Bill secured permission from A&W to serve food items and Alice learned to make tamales and chili con carne from the cook at the Mexican Embassy. The “Hot Shoppes” concept was born. Local residents flocked to “Hot Shoppes” for its combination of good food, low prices and great service. The Marriott’s quickly opened additional locations. In 1957, they opened the first Marriott Hotel “Twin Bridges” in Arlington, Virginia.

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Today Marriott operates more than 3,500 hotel properties worldwide under a portfolio of brands. In many ways, they are the Proctor and Gamble of the hospitality industry. They have grown organically and through strategic acquisitions. Their portfolio of brands target different segments of the market. They target the following tiers:

  • Luxury – The Ritz Carlton, JW Marriott, BVLGARI
  • Lifestyle – Edition, Autograph Collection Hotels, Renaissance, AC Hotels
  • Signature – Marriott Hotels and Resorts
  • Select Service – Courtyard by Marriott, Springhill Suites Marriott, Fairfield Inn and Suites Marriott, Moxy Hotels
  • Extended Stay – Residence Inn Marriott, Towne Place Suites Marriott, Marriott Executive Apartments
  • Destination Entertainment – Gaylord Hotels

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Marriott has always focused on being a great place to work, delivering an excellent customer experience and building unique brands. There philosophy is summed up by the following quote. “Take care of your associates, and they will take care of your customers, who will keep coming back.”

I believe that Marriott has done an excellent of staying true to their purpose, vision and values and serving the needs of multiple stakeholders. These elements are critical to building a successful brand and ensuring a great customer experience. Listed below are their purpose, vision and values.

Purpose: We open doors to a world of opportunity for:

  • People – personal and professional growth
  • Customers – rewarding travel experiences
  • Communities – a more sustainable future in the places where we live and work
  • Owners and Franchisees – profitable investments
  • Investors – Financial Achievement
  • Business Alliances – Collaboration with suppliers and other key relationships

Vision: To be the number one consumer hospitality company in the world.

Values:

  • Put people first
  • Pursue excellence
  • Embrace change
  • Act with integrity
  • Serve our world

Marriott has received many awards. Marriott has been recognized by Fortune Magazine as one of the top 100 companies to work for. Ethisphere recognized Marriott as one of the most ethical companies in the world.

Marriott Rewards is the best loyalty program in the hospitality industry. Membership is a must for frequent business ravelers. I have been a member for many years. It has helped fund many of my family vacations. The program started in 1983 as a grassroots program by hotel employees to recognize their loyal customers. This was a significant innovation at the time. In 2013, US News and World Reports named Marriott the number one hotel loyalty program.

I am currently staying at Residence Inn. While not, perfect I have always enjoyed my experiences at Marriott properties. A line from their recent advertising campaign hit home. “It’s not only about where you’re staying, it’s about where you’re going.

 

Are you a member of the Marriott Rewards Program?

 
 

On Friday, The Container Store went public on the New York Stock Exchange. Its first day share price doubled from $18 to $36. The Container Store is a great example of the long-term financial value of investing in your brand and your people. Many people mistakenly view brand investments as a short-term expense rather than a long-term investment in future value. Great brands are created by people focused on delivering great customer experiences.

The retailer of containers and other household items generated $828 million from the stock sale. At a current store count of 62, it believes it can expand to 300 stores. It would appear that The Container Store’s long term investments in branding and training were wise decisions.

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The Container Store is a great example of a brand that has a customer focused purpose and strong core values. Their core values are called The Foundation Principles. The Container Store opened in 1978 in Dallas, Texas with a mix of product designed to simplify people’s lives. They started a new category in retail, that of storage and organization. The Texas-based retailer has been on the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work FOR list for 13 consecutive years. The company has demonstrated a strong commitment to putting its employees first. This commitment to employees helps make the stores exciting places to shop. People enjoy shopping there and employees are excited to be working there.

The brand’s core purpose centers on customer service and employee relations. They believe that happy well trained employees help make customer’s experiences positive. Their Foundation Principles are great and well worth reading. I bring them to you courtesy of their website http://www.containerstore.com. Brands and companies need to take the time to develop their purpose and core values. They need to ensure that their values are lived and practiced every day throughout the organization.

The Container Store’s Seven Foundation Principles are listed below:

1 Great person = 3 good people

We hire only about 3% of all who apply. If you indeed believe that with one great employee, you get three times the productivity of a good employee, you can afford to extensively train them and communicate to them, empower them and pay them 50 to 100% more than what other retailers might pay them.

Communication is Leadership

The Container Store knows the importance of executing every day, consistent, reliable, predictable, effective, thoughtful, compassionate and yes even courteous communication.

Fill the other guy’s basket to the brim. Making money then becomes an easy proposition.

With this guiding sentiment , The Container Store has been successful in creatively crafting mutually beneficial relationships with vendors by doing everything possible to truly “fill their baskets to the brim.” We know that in return, our business and our bottom line will benefit as well.

The Best Selection, Service and Price

Conventional wisdom says that price is mutually exclusive of service and selection. It’s hard for most retailers to offer low pricing and provide exceptional service. A few great retailers have achieved a combination of the best selection and the best service. To add the best price to that equation is generally unheard of, but The Container Store diligently achieves all three simultaneously with this philosophy.

Intuition Does Not Come to An Unprepared Mind

We want our employees to use their intuition — to anticipate the needs of our customers and recommend product solutions… But we know that in order to help employees do this, we have to provide them with the information — the training — to know how best to apply their intuition.

Man in the Desert Selling

We don’t just stop with the obvious. Providing our customers with a complete solution through our Man in the Desert selling philosophy has been key to achieving one of our main goals of having our customers dancing in their organized closet, pantry, home office, etc., because they are so delighted and thrilled with the complete solution we provided them.

Air of Excitement

Three steps in the door and you can tell whether or not a retail store has it. And we know that The Container Store has it! “Air of Excitement” is our employees’ smiling faces and genuine concern for customers’ needs. It’s the bright, visual, innovative and conversation-provoking products we sell. It’s our clean, well-organized shelves. It’s music that is pleasant and speaks to our customers.

Great brands are built by employees inspired by a shared purpose to deliver memorable customers experiences. Wall Street is investing in brands that deliver great customer experiences.

Can you think of another brand or company that puts employees first?

Levi’s has one of the best stories of any brand in the United States, if not the world. It is an iconic brand. Levi’s is the original blue jean. It has an incredible heritage and is a symbol of youthful rebellion. Levi’s always worked hard to balance making profits with doing the right thing. Strong core values informed how business was conducted. The company gives back to the community and supports many charitable causes. Levi’s is a leader in sustainable manufacturing and responsible sourcing.

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This week, the Levi’s Brand announced that it was parting ways with its advertising agency Weiden and Kennedy after a five-year-stint. The brand has struggled in recent years and stopped growing. It has had a series of leadership changes. The brand has lost touch with its core purpose. Levi’s has failed to engage and inspire consumers with meaningful stories. As a result, Levi’s has struggled to stay relevant with consumers.

In recent years, the brand has tried hard to regain relevance with younger consumers. Many of their recent marketing campaigns have tried too hard to be cool and often seemed very exclusive. Much of their recent advertising feels dark, somber and not for me. The classic Levi’s 501 Blues Campaign from the 1980’s connected emotionally with a diverse audience of consumers on multiple levels. More than anything it was an inclusive campaign that made people feel good about the brand.

Twenty years ago if you visited a high school or college campus, you would see Levi’s Jean everywhere. Levi’s was clearly the blue jean brand of choice. Today if you visit a high school or college campus you see very few pairs of Levi’s being worn.

Rather than hire an advertising agency, I recommend that Levi’s hire a Brand Journalist to help them connect the stories of their past with the stories of their current users. The brand’s loyal followers have great stories. Its time Levi’s told the stories of its most passionate customers and stopped trying to be cool. It is a great story, tell it in a simple inclusive way.

I worked for Levi’s in marketing for nine years. I am passionate about the brand. I hope they turn it around.

What is your favorite brand of blue jeans?

Brand Marketing is undergoing a fundamental change as new media channels emerge. Bombarding consumers with “sell, sell, sell” advertising and direct mail no longer works like it used. Response rates continue to decline. The same old same old doesn’t work anymore. Consumers are tuning out blatant sell messages. They no longer buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Consumers want to understand your story. People want to support companies with a purpose beyond just selling me stuff and making money.

Today, consumers have a wide variety of media channels where they can research products and services. More and more brands are engaging consumers with authentic stories that matter. These stories inspire and inform consumers. Brands like Zappos, Dove and Chipotle are excellent storytellers with a customer focused purpose. They understand that brands today are in the publishing business. Owning your own media channels is important for success. Storytelling is the essence of Content Marketing.

This morning, I had the opportunity to hear John Robinson speak at a New York Capital Region AMA event in Clifton Park. John is a master storyteller. John’s stories are engaging and inspiring. He also has a great sense of humor. I don’t remember many of the commercials I saw on television last night but I will never forget John’s stories and inspirational message.

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John Robinson overcame countless obstacles to become a successful entrepreneur, family man and inspirational keynote speaker. John is a congenital amputee born without full arms and legs. John stressed how important it was to be comfortable with who you are.

John told the inspiring story of his bicycle ride across New York State which he called the “Journey Along the Erie Canal”. John, his family and Doug Hamlin completed a 17 day bike ride from Buffalo to Albany in July of 2013. Their purpose was to raise awareness of the ability inside all People with Disabilities and to raise funds to support Adaptive Sports, Accessibility, Education and Employment for New Yorker’s with Disabilities. Through his organization, Our Ability, Robinson mentors, connects, and inspires people with disabilities toward education and employment. They were greeted by local politicians and enthusiastic supporters along the way. They overcame many obstacles including rough trails, extreme heat, rain and sore muscles. As Doug Hamlin, John’s partner and guest speaker Doug Hamlin so aptly stated, “Things that look like a disadvantage are an advantage”.

The audience was inspired and engaged by John and Doug’s story, their sense of purpose and how they used Social Media and Content Marketing to distribute their story. They will likely remember the inspirational stories John and Doug told for years to come.

Can you share a story that inspired you to overcome an obstacle?

Yesterday I attended a Social Media Tech Valley Breakfast event at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall in Troy, New York. It was an excellent event. It was my first visit to the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, which is a wonderful venue with a great story and heritage. It is notable for having a music hall constructed on the second floor above the bank itself. The Troy Savings Bank Music Hall is world renowned for its near perfect acoustics. In another post, I will tell the story of the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, one of the gems of the capital region.

I was impressed by the presentation given by FarmieMarket founder Sarah Gordon. Sarah had a great story to share about the founding and growth of FarmieMarket, an online farmers market.

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Sarah is a third generation farmer who grew up on the family farm in Knox, New York. She lived first hand the struggles and simple pleasures that come with a family farm. After college she knew that she wanted to do something that promoted sustainability and paid tribute to the knowledge she picked up on the farm. Living in downtown Burlington, Vermont, she was inspired by the prevalence of active farmers’ markets, local foods restaurants, and the agricultural community in the urban environment. Burlington was the first place she had ever been where the small farmer was King, and she knew she wanted to replicate feeling back home.

Sarah had two unique insights that has helped build her business. Consumer’s were hungry for fresh, local food but often too busy to visit the farmer’s market every week. Most families with active children fall into that segment. Sarah also understood that small local farmers were time constrained. Local farmers were too taxed by the day-to-day challenges of farming to market themselves.

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In January 2010, she began marketing her family farm’s products online, using social networking tools. The concept caught on. From there, she began talking to other farmers she knew and offered to help them to market their products by building synergy amongst local farmers in a central, internet-based market place.

In June 2010, Gordon founded FarmieMarket, an online farmers market where Capital Region consumers could order fresh produce, eggs, meat and more from local farms and have them delivered directly to their door. Catering to the needs of time-strapped consumer and farmer has proven to be a good business model.

The goal was to help family farms make their businesses viable by expanding their access to a broader customer base. The small farms she works with have limited resources and often cannot take the time away from the farm to go sit at a booth at a farmers market (especially not knowing how much they may actually sell).  By marketing on behalf of family farms online, farmers save time and money and reach a broader customer base than may be at a traditional farmers’ market.

The concept is simple and convenient. Local farmers list what items they have in stock on the FarmieMarket website, where shoppers can order online. Once a week, Farmie Market makes deliveries to consumers, while also marketing products on the website to help farms attract more business. Farmers set their own prices and Gordon adds her own operating costs on top of that. Shoppers only have to place a minimum delivery order of $25, plus a $5 delivery charge.

FarmieMarket’s mission is easy to identify with and support:

  • Improve small family farms profitability and economic sustainability.
  • Provide naturally grown, organic and local food to families and individuals.
  • Offer local customers a modern, convenient service.
  • Improve rural and regional economies by recycling customers’ food dollars with local farms and small businesses.
  • Create and maintain jobs on farms, in small businesses and amongst entrepreneurial local food leaders.

FarmieMarket is a great example of an entrepreneur following a passion who understood the jobs that consumers and farmers are trying to get done. Sarah has done a great spreading the word about FarmieMarket through content marketing and social media. I wish her continued success.

Have you purchased farm fresh vegetables online?