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Focus on the Customer, Not the KPI

Should a business focus on its customers, or the ROI of the strategies it implements and the KPIs their employees are responsible for monitoring and exceeding? I’m sure this is overly simplistic, and perhaps these need not be mutually exclusive, but I gravitate towards the former. An obsessive focus on those you serve often results in delighted customers, positive word of mouth (still the most powerful form of advertising), and bottom line results.

I was reading this short post about Apple, and found a passage that resonated with me and aligned well with my work past.

Focusing on the customer/consumer resolves all the horrid debates people from different departments have, especially when the people around the table have to meet their own individual KPIs, quarterly results, or agendas etc. If not properly managed, these debates often result in compromises in strategy and watered down solutions.

That says it all for me. When departments fight over territory and compromise so it’s a win-win for everyone, that often results in a vanilla solution. Which is totally awesome if your company makes vanilla! Not so good otherwise.

You can’t give away the farm, but taking really good care of your customers should trump the findings of a committee. If I go over and above for a customer and therefore blow a KPI because I spent too much time with said customer, I believe I’m measuring the wrong things. Data is great and more power to you if you want to measure everything, but I’m just not wired that way. Delighting one’s customers is still the most important strategy in my tool kit (yes, way more so than social media).

Which Steve Would You Rather Be?

This is NOT a trick question. Yes, one is unfortunately no longer with us – that’s not the crux of the question. Which Steve is best representing his brand? Dumbing it down even further, which Steve can you tolerate?

Samsung advertises on #iPhone5 Twitter stories, trying to make back that $1bn


When Have You Reached Your Communication Objectives?

Answer? When you’ve said enough.

I’ve always thought this video was pure genius – a perfect example of how differently these two companies think. One has an incredibly strong brand and trusts its customers. The other… well, just watch the video.

You might argue that the piece, while humorous, is unfair to Microsoft. Interestingly enough, they created the video! It’s now over six years old, and by my estimation, not much has changed. Microsoft continues to make profits and muddle along (R.I.P. Zune), while Apple holds news conferences to announce what they’re going to do with their $100 billion in cash.

I try to think more like Apple, not because I love Apple or think that Apple is always right, but because I believe in the way they communicate (not withstanding their absence on social media). You are buying something for yourself when you adhere to brevity: the attention spans of others. Say what needs to be said, and nothing more. Allow the customer to insert themselves into your brand’s story, and you give yourself the best chance of them inserting your brand into their lives. Let the human imagination take over. I am trying.

Apple Computers Used to Make Unique Art

My friend Mike Tomko used to have an alert on his phone that would remind him to “Do Something Awesome” every day. Clearly, these fellas are thinking the same way.

People have always done unique things, expressed themselves… but the Internet makes it easier for all of us to enjoy their expression.

In this video below, all the guy is doing is maximizing windows from his OS X dock – in perfect choreographed order. Brilliant.

How I Got My iPad 2 And The Lesson Learned

iPad 2

image courtesy of and Apple

The Green Light.

That’s what I got from my wife after a somewhat lengthy discussion about the reasons I wanted to purchase an iPad 2. “Do you need this?” she asked. “Need?” I responded. “No, I don’t need this. I would survive without it. It seems like something that someone in my profession should have, and I want it. But no, need is not the right word.” To quote Jim Morrison, perhaps it was with that bit of honesty that I broke on through to the other side!

However, in the case of one of the most hyped and successful launches in the history of consumer products, the Green Light doesn’t mean you get an iPad 2! As is the Apple norm, the lines outside Apple stores and electronics retailers were long and sustained. Apple sold everything they had on debut day. Reports had the first day numbers at anywhere from 500,000 to 1 million.

And it didn’t end there. Lines started forming at stores on the second day. And the third day. And the fourth day. Supplies were limited, and any time an Apple store received a shipment, there was already a line of people waiting outside the store with line tickets in hand, ready to buy. Best Buy in Brentwood, MO was accepting reservations for iPad 2’s. You tell Best Buy personnel which particular iPad 2 you want, put $100 down (which they provide you in the form of a Best Buy gift card), and then they call you when the iPad comes in. They are selling new shipments of iPads exclusively to people on the list. Walk-in traffic will not be able to buy iPads until all names on the list get theirs. I was at Best Buy the other night and almost threw my name on the list, but hesitated. I was already spending $230 on two portable DVD players, so I chickened out and left.

I went to Target. None. Micro Center. Nope. Apple stores? “We had ’em, but we’re sold out.” Honestly, I was OK with waiting. I didn’t have the Apple Shakes. But my iPad 2 seemed so far away. How long would I have to wait?

Enter my friend Muljadi. Actually he’s not my “friend.” He’s a Twitter friend. Actually, I’m not sure we’ve ever spoken on Twitter until a few days ago. And obviously we had never met in person. I can tell you this – he’s my friend now!

After a few @RizzoTees tweets about how every place was sold out, here’s Muljadi’s first tweet to me:

@rizzotees I’m at the Apple store Galleria and they have Verizon 3G iPad 2s; I can pick one up for you if you’d like – tweet me backless than a minute ago via web

His tweet came in around 8am Wednesday, so I asked him if the store was even open yet. His response:

@RizzoTees Store’s open for training, won’t open for sale until 10. Not trying to mark up, just remembered you’re looking for oneless than a minute ago via web

So he’s telling me he’s not trying to profit from doing this for me. However, at this point I declined his offer. I wasn’t sure if I wanted a 3G iPad or a wifi one. Muljadi must not have found the unit he wanted, because next day, he’s back at it!

@rizzotees They have wifi iPads @ Galleria & West County – if you’re quick you may be able to get a ticket.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck

I thought that was very nice of him to alert me to the stock they had at the West County store. I did not go to the store. Something told me I should probably go to Falk Harrison and work. :-) Then, on Friday morning, Muljadi is on the hunt again, and repeats his offer to grab one for me:

@RizzoTees About 40+ people standing in line @ West County Apple store – want one?less than a minute ago via web

I was about to have coffee with my bud Greg Bussmann, and gave it some quick thought. Damn, I wanted this thing. OK, why the hell not? I’m going to have a total stranger, my Good Samaritan, buy an iPad for me. I told him which one I preferred, gave him my cell phone number, and wished him luck.

By 9am, my mobile rings. Muljadi was in possession of my new iPad 2. Wonders never cease, and Twitter never ceases to amaze.

Why did Muljadi do this? He saw my tweet, asking if anyone knew of a store with iPad 2’s in stock, and thought he could help me. Why did I do this? My reasons were two-fold: I really wanted that iPad, and I wanted to take part in yet another social media experiment. I can assure you, this was way more fun than standing in line with strangers for four hours. I got to meet a really cool dude. We met up at the St. Louis Bread Company on Ballas (Panera for the rest of the country) and chatted for maybe 30 minutes before we parted ways. I could have easily talked with him for another hour, but we both wanted to get home and play with our new iPads!

Rizzo Tees and Muljadi

THANK YOU MULJADI! I’ll see you online….

POSTSCRIPT: Muljadi was and is a really stand-up guy, and he assumed I was too. Nevertheless, I told him I didn’t expect him to accept a personal check from me, and that I’d bring cash. He sent me this DM:

“cash will be fine with me; you’re pretty well known, so I’m pretty sure you don’t want to be harassed if your check bounced :)

Guys, that is what social media is all about. Yes, you can have fun, you can learn, and you can sell stuff. But it all comes back to letting people get to know you – the Personal Brand. I tell any individual or company that will listen to me that this is exactly how you want friends, bosses, husbands, wives, customers and prospects to feel about you. There is no way whatsoever that I would or could do Muljadi wrong. All I have is a few case studies, my reputation, and my personal brand. I figuratively could not afford to screw Muljadi over, and he understood that. Therefore, he explicitly trusted me before we had ever met. CEO’s and CMO’s, that’s how you want a prospect to feel when you are introducing them to your company! That’s what this is all about. ROI? You tell me what the ROI is of making life easier for your salespeople.

POSTSCRIPT 2: Buying an iPad with cash… this might be the only time I’ve ever pulled $560 in cash out of an ATM at once. It just felt a little weird.

POSTSCRIPT 3: Assuming neither of us have ever been drug dealers, I’m not sure either of us have experienced such an exchange. I sit down at the table. He pushes a white iPad 2 box across the table. I tell him, “OK Mul, here comes the awkward part!” I whip out $560 in cash and hand it to him. The lady sitting next to us thought we were nuts!

Travel The World And Follow A Current Event Using Twitter

Here’s a fun tip for following a current event on Twitter.

1. Boot up

2. Do a search for your current event AND a Twitter pic sharing service. For instance, today is iPad 2 release day. There are people all around the country and world waiting in ridiculously long lines. Using Search.Twitter, here are a few sample searches I did:

ipad 2

3. These searches and more like them yield the following amazing set of image results from people all over the world:




A pile at Wal-Mart

TONS of people, but it looks sunny

Store about to open?


Traveling the world with my body… actually boarding planes and going places… is superior to looking at pictures. But this is still fun. You can also use Twitter to keep up with less fortunate events like the earthquake in Japan, or the uprisings in Egypt.

This real-time set of search results is one big reason why I prefer Twitter to Facebook.