Thursday, April 30, 2009

Fig Tree Provides Marketing Lesson

I just watched the company president unwrap his fig tree from a long winter's nap. For over an hour he took off bungee cords, rope, a tarp, and what looked like roofing paper. The tree's top shows evidence of pruning with a sharp knife prior to hibernation. Textbook gardening in my opinion.

Come September and October the tree will burst with plump, delicious figs, and soon family and friends, many of whom I only see around this time, will tip-toe into the backyard to snatch the juicy fruit for it's Vitamin A, C, and from what I understand, laxative properties.

The boss's actions over eight months ago allow him to reap a bountiful harvest. His preparation is a great example of effective marketing. Research, plan, implement, and as I saw him inspecting the tree after removal of its protective cover, to possibly adjust his future actions to improve his results.

My dad also has a fig tree that receives no pruning, no winter blanket, nothing. He does the complete opposite of my boss. The result? The fig tree produces small fruit and about a third of the yield. If dad was a marketing guy, he would fail miserably - no research, no planning, no implementation, and obviously, no results.

What to learn from this "Better Homes and Garden" moment? If you have planted the seed for a great marketing idea for your company or start-up, don't go in blindly. Do your homework, read some books, talk to the experts, budget, and most important, do something. Many marketing endeavors languish on the vine, never reaching their full potential and sometimes never having the opportunity to grow.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Magic Kingdom Still Does It Right

This year we're celebrating 3o years in business. To mark the occasion, the president took the staff and their families to Disney World in Florida. The vacation was spectacular. Not only was the weather beautiful but the Disney brand never let me down.

The parks were immaculately clean, the food in Epcot was delicious, and the Tower of Terror was awesome. The Magic Kingdom was the only property that showed a little wear and tear, but you had to look really, really close.

Spending four years in Florida I've been lucky enough to visit Disney many, many times. And with each trip I come to realize how successful companies build powerful brands. Like the McDonald's franchise, where you can expect your burger to taste EXACTLY the same no matter what joint you walk into, Disney has perfected the "magic" that delights children and adults alike so that when ever you visit, you know you're going to have one heck of a time - Ride the Jungle Cruise and you hear the same funny jokes. Get an autograph from Goofy and he signs it the same silly way. Have breakfast at the Polynesian Resort and you'll be greeted by the waitress with a boisterous, "Hey, cousin, it's good to see you again!" It's like your favorite sitcom where you can repeat the lines even before they're spoken. My eight year old son was amazed how I predicted what the cast of characters were about to do at the Hoop Dee Doo Review. "How did you know that?" he blurted out numerous times while BBQ sauce continuously dripped from his lips. I knew the routine all too well and envisioned me asking my dad the same question 36 years ago.

Businesses can learn some valuable lessons from Walt Disney. Specialize - do one thing extremely well. Systematize - make your business work for you even if you were away for an extended period of time. Systematization will also guarantee that your product or service will result in the same end-product each and every time your client makes a purchase. Have Fun - If you're not having fun, you're probably in the wrong business.

It's amazing how much you can learn from a little old mouse. It's a small world after all!