Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Posted on March 17, 2011. Filed under: Stories |

An Irish Blessing for You…

May love and laughter light your days,and warm your heart and home.May good and faithful friends be yours,wherever you may roam.May peace and plenty bless your worldwith joy that long endures.May all life’s passing seasonsbring the best to you and yours!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


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The Dog Biscuit Miracle

Posted on December 6, 2010. Filed under: Customer Experience, Practical Branding, Stories | Tags: , , |

The following article is from David Bond, the creator of The Wallace Street Journal. It’s a great testament that a stellar customer experience can be delivered in even the most unexpected circumstances. Read on…and thanks, David, for allowing me to share this!

Wallace, Idaho – To those in search of miracles, I give you this:

Without fail, every morning, give or take 5 minutes depending on the weather, at 0530 our newspaper appears on the front porch. Not in the weeds or the snow. On the front porch, right by the door, so a be-slippered old geezer can reach out for it without embarrassing his neighbours or getting frostbite on his toes, even in the dark.

The impeccable and predictable timing would be enough to remark upon. Except that, winter or summer, tucked into the newspaper is a dog biscuit. Whoever throws the paper on our porch has never met Chase, our dog, because he is inside the house at this dark hour. But Robert has heard a grump or a woof and figures somebody inside would like a treat.

Comes out of his own pocket, this newspaper-carrier’s milk bone. Now, milk bones are not the most expensive of things, unless you buy them 365 days a year for the hundreds of dogs who live along his route. And I know that our paper-guy does this, because at 3:30 a.m., throwing papers way up in Mullan, he is doing the same thing for the dog-people there. I have witnesses.

Now, come to find out, this individual lives in Smelterville. Smelterville is 30 miles west of Mullan. So in the damned cold and dark (winter or summer, take your pick) he departs the comfort of his feathers, picks up his newspapers in Kellogg, and by 0300 is in Mullan, throwing the day’s news and doggie goodies, and by 0530 or so is tossing the newspaper and the milk bone onto our front porch. This round-trip is about the distance between Seattle and Olympia.

And to top all of that, a couple of days ago, he dropped a Christmas card into the mix, strapped into the same rubber band as the newspaper and the milk bone. It was there on the front porch, at 0 Dark 30. The return address was, simply: The Newspaper Guy. Chase ate the milk bone and spared the card. Who says dogs are unsentimental?

I’ve caught the newspaper guy two or three times on the front porch, his beater breathing exhaust, thanked him for the good work he does every day. He respects my thanks, but he has a route to deliver, he is on his way. By looks he is an old hippie, like me, like most of my orbit. Just doing what he needs to do, except with a flair. I wonder, was he growing pot in California in 1965, or maybe just bugging out of the orange smoke at LZ Crystal on the last Huey before Charlie shot guys out from under him. Maybe, like me during those turbulent times, he was just passing through. I don’t know and I don’t care. Sacrifice is sacrifice and redemption is redemption. We all muddle through.

What I do know is that a guy gets up in the misery of the night, and goes beyond the minimum. He makes Chase, our dog, happy. And once a year thanks me for his business with a Christmas card.

If there is an America to be saved, it will not be trillions to U.S. and foreign banks. It will not be the Fed. It will not be a hideously powerful military steaming through the Straits of Formosa into the maw of an Exocet missile. Salvation will come from a guy waking up 20 miles to my West in the middle of the night, driving 30 miles to his east in a blizzard and, in addition to doing his job, caring about my dog. Without complaint, and with a great deal of grace.

Visit David’s website at

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Stories that Capture your Audience

Posted on November 10, 2010. Filed under: Differentiated Messaging, Stories |

Last time, I wrote about telling your value story and how to create a consistent story…one that can be repeated by your entire sales force or, better yet, by everyone in your company.

And maybe you remember me saying, “Telling a consistent story about your company is critical. Telling the right story is equally important. Weaving the elements of your story together is an art, but it has to be a process as well.”

In the case of the story of Little Red Riding Hood, everyone knows the story because someone by the name of Charles Perrault took the time to weave the elements of the story together in a particular way. And if you take the time to weave the elements (aka products and services) of your story together you, too, create a consistent story that can be retold by anyone in your company.

But don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating a “one size fits all” approach in customer messaging. You’re not done once you’ve written the story. Your next step is to tailor the story to your audience.

Let’s go back to Little Red Riding Hood. Think about how you might tailor that story when telling it to a 2-year old versus an 8-year old. The 2-year-olds will keep you up all night if you spend too much time on the wolf, so you downplay how awful he is and spend time on the sweet little grandmother. But 8-year-olds live for scary stuff, so you go into great detail about the wolf’s long, yellow fangs, sharp, nasty claws, and dark, evil eyes. In both instances, you’re telling the same basic story, but you’re tailoring it to your audience. Your business value story is no different. Tell a consistent baseline story, but tailor it to be relevant to your audience.

How do you do that? Ask questions so you know how to make your story relevant to your prospects. What challenges is the organization facing? What goals need to be achieved this next year – and beyond? How will success be measured? Now think of how your offering can help your prospect achieve those things and tell your story in that manner. This approach changes the entire dynamic of “sales.” Your sales team is more consultative, your proposals are more relevant, and prospects are more receptive. Why? Because your story captures them. And this approach isn’t just for sales…every customer-facing employee should be able to tell and tailor the story.

Create your story. Test it out and make changes as necessary. Then once you get it, let your employees know how to tell it consistently and how to tailor it for their particular audiences. May Little Red Riding Hood be your guide.


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What’s Your Story?

Posted on November 8, 2010. Filed under: Differentiated Messaging, Stories |


We hear them, from The Three Little Pigs to Little Red Riding Hood to Charlotte’s Web to Lord of the Rings.

We watch them in the form of movies. In fact, some movies even remind us that we’re watching a story with the word right smack dab in the title: Love Story, Toy Story, The Story of Us, and Bedtime Stories.

We tell them. “Do you know what happened to me today?” “You’ll never believe me when I tell you this!” “Boy, do I have something to tell you!”

Yep, we’re all about stories. You and me…we like our stories.

So here’s a question for you. What’s the story you tell about your company? Do you have a story? Do your employees all tell the same story?  It is a strong story…is it the story you want told?

Telling a consistent story about your company is critical. Telling the right story is equally important. Weaving the elements of your story together is an art, but it has to be a process as well.

Let’s go back to Little Red Riding Hood. The basic elements of the story are a little girl, a red cape, a wolf, a basket, and a grandmother. We all know how the story goes. But suppose you gave those five elements to ten people who didn’t know the story and asked them to create a story. How many different stories do you think you’d get? I bet you’d get at least ten!  Each person would combine those elements differently according to their imagination, background, and knowledge.

Little Red Riding Hood is a great testimonial of why managing your company story is so important. If you simply provide the elements of your value story – your products, your services – to your sales team, you’re asking them to create their own story. And they’ll do that based on their background, knowledge, and, most likely, their imagination! You’ll end up with each salesperson telling a different story and each prospect hearing a different value proposition.

So take the time to create your story, one that tells the value you bring to your customers. Weave the elements together and end with value…the value they have because of your partnership with them. Test your value statement with the “so what” factor. Pretend you’re the prospect and ask, “So what?” after the value statement. If there’s an answer to that question, you’re not at the bottom line value yet. Keep going. Keep asking “So what?” until you can’t answer the question anymore. Then there’s a good chance you’re at bottom-line value.

I’ll talk more about telling your story in my next blog. Until then, think about what you want to tell.What’s your story?




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