Say No To Black Friday

say no to black friday

Across North America everybody wants more for less – plus a lifetime guarantee. To satisfy this insane and insatiable desire for more cheap food, goods and services, we’ve sent millions of jobs to Asia and India. We’ve also done a wonderful job of teaching our kids that many jobs are not worth doing or having. This mentality has shut down industries and laid waste to cities, towns and individuals all across America and Canada. Where will this end?

When companies do not earn decent profit margins their foundations crumble.

  • They no longer can afford to do research and development.
  • Without leading edge research and development their managers blindly follow the “best practices” of their competitors, and fail.
  • They cut back on staff training and development.
  • They cut back on benefits.
  • Full time staff is rehired as part-time staff with no benefits.
  • Part time staff juggles two, sometimes three, jobs to make ends meet.
  • Because they are just making ends meet, time and money to support the arts and those who are less fortunate are also affected.
  • It impacts time at home with family + friends.
  • And on and on it goes.

Last week a friend of mine had his website built in the Philippines to save money. The money he paid has left Canada and will not be used to buy any of his products and services on Black Friday - or on any other day of the year.

Why not charge a fair price and invest the profits in our people, our communities, industries and Canada?


Halloween + Branding


Halloween is a unique opportunity to experiment with branding since it appeals to so many different demographics and psychographics. Just Google™ “Halloween Pictures” or “Halloween Events” and I bet you’ll find a wider variety of Halloween ideas and associations than you and your in-house team would have conceived of. There are many obvious ways to capitalize on Halloween: dressing your staff, your places of business as well as your products and services. I trust you and your team can figure that out.

While direct participation may make sense for your brand and give you a fun & profit spike for a few days each year, there is another path that can pay long term dividends.

White box products and services.

For more reasons than you care to read in a blog post, your products and services have appeal limitations because of what your brand has come to represent to prospects in its primary marketplace.

Selling your products or services to other distributors under terms you define and enforce can help you understand what happens:

  • When you go local, domestic, ethnic or global.
  • When you sell into a premium, typical or discount market.
  • When you appeal to one two or more genders.
  • When you appeal to different age groups.

I think you get the picture.

Halloween lets you reimage yourself and your brand for fun and profit a few days a year.

White Box strategies let you do it all year long.


Common Ground

When I worked with Midas Canada in the late 90’s, Al Martin in Newmarket was the top franchisee in Canada. His business thrived because he was great at asking for the business, asking customers how he could improve their service experience and making sure that all team members shared his vision, passion and commitment to customers care. 

Another franchisee that did very well was Dave Tichowsky in Lloydminster. He was a tough guy to work for and had neither the time nor the inclination to deal with anyone associated with head office. (Un) fortunately that was my job: address local dealer and co-op advertising needs, and assure all franchise that the national advertising program will make more dollars for them and more sense to customers. At regional meetings Dave tended to be loud, gruff and uncooperative. So when it came time to call Dave and tell him I needed to come for a visit Dave told me “stay where you are and don’t waste my f - - - time!” Not one to pass up an opportunity to see the country, I went anyway, telling Dave’s assistant what day I would fly in and at what hour I expected to arrive. Because of a local ice storm I arrived by bus, instead of by plane – over six hours late, tired and embarrassed, thinking that this is just what a guy like Dave expects from a stupid easterner like me.

The first thing Dave Tichowsky did is hand me the keys to one of his courtesy vehicles and direct me to a good restaurant where I could rest up, eat up & warm up.

When I got back to Dave’s shop he and his team were busy – so I went into the service bays, picked up a broom and swept each one clean.

Maybe because Dave showed me a side I didn’t expect to see, and I showed him gratitude in a manner he didn’t expect to see in me, Dave and I mentally “moved a common ground”: one that was neither his, mine or some contrived compromise.

We spent the balance of our time together talking about how he had built his business one customer at a time – calling everyone in the Lloydminster phone book and asking if he could care for his or her vehicles. He also explained to me why he believed that the new national advertising campaign would ruin his market. I agreed with him, went back and convinced Midas Canada to allow me to “buy around” Lloydminster TV and give Dave a local radio buy instead. Dave was delighted. Midas Canada was delighted and Ogilvy had another shining example of how well we knew and could manage their business.

What I re-learned then and am reminded of now is that the ‘common ground’ that Dave Tichowsky entered into with me enabled us to address issues and opportunities with clarity and integrity. And that encouraged me to come up with creative, yet practical solutions that made sense to all stakeholders – especially the customers.

My experience with people like Dave has taught me to do my homework in order to ensure that my solution works short and long term. That involves finding a common, objective ground where I can work objectively with all stakeholders.


Home Alone


On most days Charlie and I go for a long walk with Toby, my neighbor’s poodle, return for a quick breakfast and head off to my office – 15 feet away. What began as an experiment has become my preferred way of life. My days start just before nine and end around six. I support two ad agencies and a few direct clients with a few tools that help me eliminate the distance between myself and those I support. He’s my tool-box for success:

  1. A Jabra™ GN2100 headset + USB link that optimizes skype or G-talk fidelity. About $200.00
  2. A Panasonic™ KXTCA400 headset (about $40.00) that plugs into my four cordless handsets ( about (about 180.00)
  3. A Large format PC laptop + a desktop monitor as well as a Mac with all the popular programs.
  4. Black and White as well as Colour printers.
  5. A three-way redundant file backup: Hard-drive, thumb-drives and cloud.

I have more productivity tools per square meter in my current (home) office than I would if I worked for the companies I support. And since I spend more time at my desk (and less time walking around) I also invested in top of the line ergonomics including:

  • A state-of-the art chair by Ergohuman™
  • A 1960’s era Steelcase™ (height and tray-depth adjustable) computer table with new surfaces.
  • Gel pads for my Logitech™ K120 keyboard, and Microsoft™ mouse.

I’ve worked with these tools about two years now and they enable me to attend production meetings, direct and manage account and creative teams, direct radio recording sessions, manage multi-location clients meetings. Importantly, I do it all with the confidence that comes from knowing that my 1st class thinking is being supported with 1st class communication tools and accessories that help my clients experience my presentations and my recommendations as if I were there.

When my father, a Cabinet Maker by training, taught me to invest in and care for my tools, he was referring to the tools I used to repair my apartment and then later my house. I’ve applied the same lesson to the tools I use in my vocation.

Home alone, there for you, and loving it.


I’ve lost that loving feeling

aw logo

A long time ago we were in Kenora and my son asked to go to the local A&W. That day we started a unique ritual. We’d order their Root-Beer Milkshakes with French Fries. Then we’d grab a booth and watch the world go by while we dipped each fry into the thick root-beer flavoured milkshakes.

That ritual created a bond between Ian and me, A&W and Kenora.

The experience contributed to the intangible brand essence that makes it more durable & desirable.

When traveling alone or with my wife I’d be drawn to A&W – looking for that root-beer milkshake – looking to stoke the flames of my memories and my ritual with Ian.

Last Saturday Ian, Michelle and I dropped in to the A&W in Kenora looking for Root-Beer Milkshakes with French Fries. A cheery little CSR advised us that they didn’t have any milk-shakes. “The machines been broken for a few years now”.

In that moment I lost that loving feeling and A&W lost my loyalty and a bunch of future business.

But I’m just one customer. Right?


Brands build market share one relationship at a time.

Brands lose share one relationship at a time.