Sales Premiums


One of the many sales reps that called upon us was the sales premium rep with his catalog of hundreds of sales incentives….from calendars to ball point pens.

The primary reason for these premiums is to keep the business name and brand in front of the customer. Some were effective others were a waste of marketing dollars.

However one that has been effective at least to us….is the small desk top calendar from our former insurance agency (Nolan Insurance Agency in Muskegon). In one way or another, we were clients of the Nolan agency as well as personal acquaintances for over 50 years

The little desk calendar is simple yet effective….an excellent sales premium. Everytime one looks at the calandar….the agency name is right in front of them.

What more can you ask of this marketing tool?


Thanksgiving Day Inserts


The N&O was packed with Thanksgiving Day sales inserts. In fact the paper was delivered in two separate bundles….there were that many inserts.

The Christmas buying season (or panic) seems to be even more important than it was years ago. Certainly there were promotions to generate sales. However, the seasonal sale was not a strategy for long term sales goals.

If businesses have to rely on a very short (five-week) period to generate a significant amount of sales dollars….than that is not a well-thought out business strategy.

I would suspect that many of these sales inserts wound up in the recycle bin.


Loyal Customers


Good ideas come from anywhere. In this case from Motorcyclist magazine.

“All businesses have their loyal customers….but it’s getting harder and harder to find them and keep them.” Three primary reasons for this:

  • The Internet – “As soon as customers discovered they could order parts and accessories from anywhere with free shipping and possibly without paying taxes….the game changed.”
  • Competition – “Competition has always been a part of business….but earning and keeping good customers is easier (and more profitable) than doing anything to make a sale.”
  • Lack of focus – “A business that loses focus on its customers will find that miscue expensive to correct….not impossible to fix – just costly.”



We (my neighbor and I ) want to buy a better fertilizer spreader….not the ordinary ones from Home Depot or Lowe’s. Exploring on-line we found just what we wanted from Home Depot On-Line…. that is until we read the reviews.

While most liked the product….several reviewers mentioned some flimsy plastic parts (wingnut) that easily broke. One addressed a plastic control lever that also broke.

We will probably buy the spreader….we can also get better wing nuts and fix anything else. Yet for a few pennies more….Agrifab (the manufacturer) could make an even better quality product….and receive positive reviews.

Front End

Service: Inconsistent


A new boutique hotel has opened in Cary along with its restaurant. The N&O restaurant critic gave a 3 star (out of 5 ) review to the restaurant.

Restaurants have dual operations….the backend is the kitchen where the chef is in charge. The frontend is where the service and interaction with the customer occurs.

The critic wrote: “As is often the case, it isn’t the kitchen but the front of the house that’s the weak link. The dining room appears under-staffed at times and the servers are widely varied in experience.” “For some restaurants finding and keeping good servers is a challenge.”

From a business perspective, it’s the people who make the business a success. If a business owner wants to provide an upscale hotel and restaurant….it’s also necessary to recruit and train a first class staff.

While the food may be very good….inconsistent service should not be the last impression of the customer.  




The magic formula that successful businesses have discovered is to treat customers like guests and employees like people. – Tom Peters

“When I met James Hogan, the Etihad CEO, in Los Angeles earlier this year, he said “We don’t carry passengers; we carry guests. Our benchmark is not set against other airlines, but with the best hotels and restaurants in the world.” – Richard Bangs

All businesses should treat customers like guests….unfortunately some don’t….it seems that they set a minimum standard and expect that to be satisfactory. In fact, there are some businesses that see the customer as an intrusion. In that case, should they really be in business?

We did see the customer as a guest. Where we good hosts….yes….though we did slip from time-to-time. The important thing was that the next customer was our guest. We did not set the bar lower.

Better Story

Really Good


Seth Godin wrote:

“Get really good at what you do.”

“You have nearly unlimited strategic choices and options about your career and what your organization does.”

“Which means you can focus on doing things you are truly good at.”

“But it makes no sense at all to grumble and do something poorly. To insist that the competition is playing unfairly. To try to persuade your market that their standards make no sense…”

“The market is selfish. It doesn’t care a whit about how hard you’re working or how difficult the task is. If someone else is consistently telling a better story (and delivering on it), the market will find them.”

The market is the ultimate decider….be better and be different. It’s easy to be average….the challenge is to raise the bar and set the standard.