Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Difference

Of all the lines made famous by Clint Eastwood's "Dirty Harry" Callahan, perhaps my favorite comes from the second movie in the series:

"A man's got to know his limitations."


Those of us who are used to having many irons in the fire are continually confronted by our limitations. We wish to do it all, we think we can do it all...but we can't.

At our best, we are finite, fallible, dependent human beings.

Martin Luther is said to have cultivated the habit of spending two or three hours a day in prayer, rising early in the morning for this purpose. Now there was a man who recognized his limitations, and to compensate for them became a regular visitor at the throne of grace, where he knew he could obtain the help he so desperately needed.

Several years ago, I ran into a poem that impressed me deeply. In fact, a copy of it stands at arm's length on the shelf to my right, an ever-present reminder of one of the secrets to success in life. May I share it with you?

I got up early one morning
and rushed right into the day;
I had so much to accomplish,
I didn't have time to pray.

Problems just tumbled about me,
and heavier came each task.
Why doesn't God help me? I wondered,
He answered, "You didn't ask."

I wanted to see joy and beauty,
but the day toiled on, gray and bleak.
I wondered why God didn't show me,
He said, "But you didn't seek."

I tried to come into God's presence,
I used all my keys at the lock.
God gently and lovingly chided,
"My child, you didn't knock."

I woke up early this morning,
and paused before entering the day.
I had so much to accomplish
That I had to take time to pray.

(The Difference, by Grace L. Naessens)

It's worth noting that the author has seen fit to place this poem in the public domain (asking only that proper attribution be given), so that anyone is free to pass it along and share it with others.

That would make it a gift of Grace, wouldn't it?

Have a great week!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Politically Correct Advertising - Update

"One year from now, you'll have a chance to evaluate my performance and either hire me for a full 4-year term or send me packing." - Susan Fagan, candidate for Washington State Representative, from a 11/2009 radio commercial.

November 1, 2010 - I caught a break this election season. State Representative Susan Fagan did such an outstanding job of serving her constituents during her first (one-year) term of office, that she is running unopposed for a full four-year term in tomorrow's election.

The fact that nobody from either party filed to run against Susan is a testimony to the effectiveness of her efforts as a state legislator, including her fine use of emails and social media to interact with her constituents on a frequent basis before, during, and after a difficult and frustrating (for a minority party representative) legislative session.

Though she was fighting a bad cold last week, Susan came to the studio last week to record a message encouraging citizens to vote. (Listen to the spot here.) She'd been given a campaign donation for this election cycle, and this is how she chose to use it.

During our brief visit, Susan shared with me her belief, shared by her campaign strategists, that it was her radio advertising, more than any other single factor, that helped clinch the election for her.

The result? Susan Fagan won a chance to prove herself.

And because she's kept her campaign promises, she continues to win the hearts and minds of her constituents.

Truth is better than creativity, David Ogilvy famously said. So, Susan's story may contain a valuable lesson for any advertiser, not only those aspiring to public office:

Effective advertising goes only so far. At best, it gives the advertiser (business, product, or service) an opportunity to win or lose a customer.

Whether you will seize or squander that opportunity ultimately depends on how you (your business, product, or service) come through for your customer!

Cabela's, Customer-focused and Classy to the Core

I often advise my advertising clients to look for opportunities to "surprise and delight" their customers. This advice is as much the product of experience as it is of education and training.

Recently I received a letter and package from Cabela's. The letter read, in part: "Thank you! This is your 10-year anniversary as a Cabela's CLUB Visa member, and we feel fortunate to have you as a customer. ... As a token of our appreciation for your loyalty, we'd like to give you the enclosed Cabela's Folding Lockback Knife commemorating our partnership..."

Accompanying the letter was an attractively boxed wood-handled pocket knife.

This little gesture on their part is the most recent illustration of how Cabela's has consistently, unfailingly impressed me with their customer-focused approach to business.

It's an approach that has taken them from a couple of brothers tying flies at the kitchen table and selling them via classified ads in OUTDOOR LIFE to their current undisputed reign as "The World's Foremost Outfitter."

What are you doing to surprise and delight your customers?

When News and Advertising Collide

The unfortunate juxtaposition of antithetical messages can and does happen in all media, of course.

Still, one wonders how this one got past the page editor.

More to the point, did the advertiser notice?