Thursday, October 04, 2007

Not Just Small, But Tiny

A few days ago I mentioned I haven't gone to the gym for two months. Last night, something dawned on me. No, it wasn't the possibility that I'll turn into a pile of mush if I continue to avoid exercise. What struck me was the fact that my gym doesn't seem to care.

No one working there takes a look at the membership roster to see if any members have been chronically absent. Or if they do, they file the info somewhere in the back of their mind, and take no action.

It's not that I require attention from my gym in order to go back. But I think they're missing an opportunity to market their members. With today's connectivity and the easy use of their database, my gym could send me an email asking about my well-being. We're talking a few minutes of somebody's time here, time that could be used to foster a connection.

If you think about it for a few minutes, you'll find that there are just a few reasons why gym members might miss a month or two of workouts. It could be:

Work demanding more time;
Injury or illness laying a member up;
A job change forcing the member to a new location;
Loss of interest in exercise or that particular gym.

Whatever the reason, my gym is missing out on an opportunity to engage me more fully as a member. Of course, the real reason gyms don't consider this an opportunity because they can't see a direct line from their email message to money in their pocket.

As traditional "mass media" ways of thinking are undercut and forced to evolve through our massive online connectivity options, businesses are being called on the carpet because they continue to think BIG. I see my gym's opportunity, noted above, as a way of acting tiny, rather parallel to the thinking I read this morning in an interesting post at Brand Autopsy titled How Tiffany Saved Michael’s Life. Thanks to John Moore for helping me frame my thinking in this way.

For my gym, and many others, marketing these days really reduces down to small, miniscule, seemingly-unimportant actions that could combine to create huge results.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

How Many Marketers Does It Take To...

A movie crew is filming a commercial on my block today. They've got the street blocked off, and although today's a bright, blue-sky kind of day in DC, they've also got fill lights and giant reflectors aimed on the actors. It's a familiar sight to anyone who's ever stumbled upon this kind of setup. But what struck me today as I walked past, was how many people it took just to film an SUV parallel parking in front of a restaurant!

There had to be about 15 crew members (including directors, etc.) wearing headsets, focused on video screens, and holding those puffy boom mics. All for a car.

As I walked past, I heard the director (I'm guessing who that was) say "OK, cue the background!" What he meant were the actors, the performers sitting at the cafe tables. Subservient to the car. Add another 9 people involved in the whole setup.

But I can't forget the crowd of people who stopped and watched. When I found out there wasn't a celebrity involved, I really wondered why anyone would take time out of their day just to watch a camera crew setup a shot over, and over, and over again.

P.S. Hank's Oyster Bar at 17th and Q was the restaurant. I thought it was odd that their Web site hasn't got a single picture of the establishment. Evidently, it's picturesque enough for a boring car commercial, but not enough for the proprietor's site!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

11 Tips on How To Meet the Famous (and/or the Very Well-Known)

Chris Brogan has been discussing how he works with a large crowd of people who want to meet him. And he's also come up with a bunch of tips and tricks to help us all when we meet the famous, or Very Well Known (VWKs). It's fascinating to me that, even in this democratized world of blogging and social networking, our "celebritendency" takes over, and no matter what group we're involved with, we feel the need to hoist up a few members into a rarified realm.

Still, it's exciting to meet someone you only know from "mass" and/or "social" media. I've met quite a large number of celebrities, and I've had VWKs involved in some of my endeavors. The following are tips I have used - they work for me (which means I haven't caused any incidents or made a total fool of myself during any encounters.)

1. Get clear in your mind your exact purpose in meeting the VWK.
If it's to shake their hand, tell them how much you like something that's tied into him or her, and get a picture of the two of you, then full steam ahead. You'll probably be successful - I have been in the past. If it's to have a big conversation, get seated at their dinner table, sell them something, or suddenly become their best buddy in the world, it's probably better if you don't approach.

2. Wait your turn.
There will probably be a small crowd around the celeb. Don't barge in. It's ok to wait in line.

3. Realize that you're going to get maybe 30 seconds with the person, and be satisfied with that.
If you've got an idea that you think the celeb will love, don't pitch it there. Work through the people coordinating the event. They can hook you up with that well-known person's staff or assistants.

4. Watch their body language while you're chatting - especially their eyes.
I've notice that people "in the public eye" use a subtle method of moving the crowd that wants to meet them. As they finish chatting with you, their eyes will land on the next person. Don't take this as an insult. Think about how you would act (probably the same) if you had 200 people waiting in line to see you!

5. Have a closing line ready to avoid awkwardness.
The celeb might be tired, and stop talking after answering your question. If you don't have anything to say at that point, it can be disconcerting to stand there with nothing to say, as the crickets chirp in the background. This is a great point to say "You've been so nice, I'm glad to have met you. So long!" and then move off.

6. It's ok to extend your hand first for a handshake.
By all means extend your hand. With a smile. It shows confidence, and allows you to control the encounter (see above).

7. It's not ok to grab that person.
Do not grab. I repeat. Do not grab. I have never done so, and it's amazing that I have to mention this. But it does happen. If you grab you'll be viewed as a psycho, and you might be wrestled to the ground by large assistants. Or worse - that VWK may ask you to leave them alone!

8. Avoid (at all costs) trying to get their attention by calling out their name, loudly.
They are trained not to respond. And if they do respond, think: is that how you want to be remembered? By yelling their name?

9. Keep the encounter short.
Just as it's not ok to stand in Costco and snarf up all the samples, it's not ok to monopolize a celeb's time. Especially if there are people waiting behind you.

10. Try not to blubber.

Compose yourself beforehand, if you feel you're going to get too excited during the actual meeting. However, if you find yourself tongue-tied, and mess up what you say, and stammer a bit, try not to get upset. It might come across as endearing. If you can laugh at yourself, the celeb might just laugh along with you. After all, you probably won't be the first person who's gone all idiotic during the encounter. (Earlier this year, I experienced brain freeze when I was introduced to Isaac Hayes. We both survived the encounter quite well.)

11. Meet other people.

That's what you're there for, isn't it? And everyone's got a story. Somebody might even be able to partner with you. Remember that, first and foremost.
That's Charo who's got me in a headlock. She's quite delightful!