Who doesn’t like a red convertible?

Porsche 356 Speedster replica
A great weekend driver

What kid (or adult) doesn’t want to drive this?

There’s something about red cars (or red convertibles) or Porsches that takes my breath away. Specifically, I think it’s the promise of being able to drive fast with the wind blowing in your hair, wearing sunglasses, and looking like James Dean. (Ok, not the James Dean who wrecked his Porsche, but more like the idea of James Dean: cool, classic, and timeless.)

So what makes the brand (and the experience) great?

Start with the color: red. It makes you want to go faster, do more things, and generally just rock. Psychologists have studies the effects of colors and have found that red can inspire dominance, winning, accuracy, and other positive effects. (It also has some negative aggressive connotation as well.) Combine the color red with racing heritage, movie star association, and German engineering and you’ve got a winner.

How can you make your customer experience more like a red convertible?

Customers want to feel great. Make them feel great, and they will come back. So here are a few ideas for how you can steal from the great experience of seeing a fast, classic car on the street and deliver that feeling to your customers:

  1. Send a hand-written note, “just because.” I guarantee you will get an excellent response if you sit down right now, find someone you haven’t spoken to in a while (or ever), and write them a hand-written note and send it. Bonus points if you speak from the heart.
  2. Find something that’s great about what your customer does, and shout it to the world. The people you know are doing great things. But sometimes, the rest of the world doesn’t know. When you shout it out (it could be in a blog post, a twitter shout, or just a banner being towed in the sky by a plane over a beach, or just a word-of-mouth recommendation of someone who is being awesome) it makes you feel good and the recipient feel good – so do it more often.
  3. Tell them in person. There is no good substitute for saying to someone, “I think what you’re doing is cool and I wanted to tell you in person.” Skype, phone calls, and the like are good. And telling them in person is even better.

Find your “Red Convertible” in your experience and drive it today.

The message for your experience? Find the things that make it great and shout about them. And find the things your customers do that are great and shout about them. And make sure you can spend some time outside, sunglasses on, with the wind blowing in your hair.

(Oh yeah – and even if it’s a replica, it can still be a lot of fun!)

(inspired by Becky Carroll of Customers Rock! and Rita Ashley, friend and sports car aficionada – p.s. Becky and Rita, you rock!)


Ice Cream is about Nothing – should we ban Ice Cream?

photo by http://flickr.com/preppybyday

When you start a business, how do you know it will succeed? Clearly, you don’t – you can do as much market research as you want, write business plans, and try things – and ultimately, you don’t control the end result.  You can direct what you hope will happen, and then respond to the feedback that you get. And you need to believe in what you’re doing before anyone else (ever) does.

I listened to Biz Stone‘s interview with Terry Gross on starting Twitter today, and I was struck by his description of the early days of Twitter and how no one thought they could succeed. For about a year, the founders of Twitter built what was essentially a labor of love while their friends and family wondered if they were simply nuts.  Hindsight is 20-20, so it’s easy to declare them an overnight success now, but we should really remember that their overnight success happened over a period of 5+ years.

Ideas are a dime a dozen (or maybe a dollar with inflation.)

One key takeaway I have from the Twitter experience is to acknowledge that ideas are cheap – whatever idea I or you have is probably being duplicated by 10-15 other people even in the same city where we live right now. That doesn’t mean you should give up on your ideas (I have a mental list, and then a physical list of ideas that I keep for my next inspiration) but it does mean that you shouldn’t treat them as truly your own until you act on them.

Twitter didn’t start out as a world-changing information service – it started as a podcasting service, then evolved as a side project.

You won’t get it right the first time, so try to do that part as quickly as possible.

A developer friend of mine once told me that when he develops software, he assumes it’s a “1.0” version, and then throws away his code at the end of the first try. At first I thought this was very wasteful, and then realized that it was brilliant – he freed himself to make many of the mistakes that a “finished” product wouldn’t have.  And then did it again.

Twitter is evolving constantly, and engaging its users to define many of the features and functions that will make it successful.

Business should be about combining fun with profit – too much of either and it’s tough to make a business.

Biz mentioned in his interview about Twitter that initially people were confused and didn’t know what to make of the idea of thousands or tens of thousands or millions of people telling each other about “nothing.” And he hit on a brilliant way to describe it, saying that “ice cream is about nothing – should we ban ice cream?” There are many things in life that are simply fun, even if the operational underpinnings behind the businesses that deliver that product or service are all about the traditional goals in business of making money. So here’s the takeaway – business should be a little of both – depending upon where you fall in the spectrum, you might think that your business should have more fun or more profit, but it’s extremely hard to have a successful business without either of those things.

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