communications Posts

BREAKING: Two Conference Handouts that won’t end up in the Trash Can.

If you’ve been to a trade show lately, you’ve seen the ‘material’ that fills most booths. The white papers and collateral hope to gain attention, while giveaways, such as Frisbees and hacky sacks, aim to attract even the most skeptical conference goer.

But what’s a vendor to do when he’s up against hundreds of vendors and attendees who’ve seen everything before?

Create something different.


Create something that will get people talking.

Our company @VersionOne hosted an agile learning event recently called #AgilePalooza; it featured some of the sharpest agile minds in the business. Two of our partners spoke at the show and set out a free ‘giveaway’ or informational handout at the registration table that stirred conversation.

David Hussman (@davidhussman) of DevJam brought CardBoard to the marketplace recently as a strong, yet simple entrant into the world of sometimes overly complex agile and productivity tools. And is there a better way to get attention to the CardBoard product than handing out pieces of cardboard saying, “If Google Docs and Post It Notes had a kid, it would look like CardBoard.” Who wouldn’t want to see that product?

Dave Sharrock (@davesharrock) from Agile42 was also in the spotlight at this particular event with some keen promotion. His Agile booklet, complete with ring for easy transport, was full of metrics, stories and arguments to sway even the most jaded software development executive. Seeing this in the bottom of your conference bag causes you to take a 2nd look, not throw it in the trash like most conference giveaways, handouts, collateral.

I am a firm proponent of the power of live events. You must, however, think and execute at a high level to get noticed. Don’t settle for predictable, lifeless collateral and giveaways. Keep eyes open and minds alert to see what the best are doing to stand out from the competition. You just might be able to develop something similar to CardBoard or Agile42.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

Share Button

A Little Slice of Heaven at a Record Store

I surely hope physical music stores never die.

I know they are living on borrowed time, but I am holding out faith that they find a way to survive.

There’s something about sensing the records and discs in your hand. Flipping through U as you hunt for an older U2 record, or rifling through V to see if any Vampire Weekend music is in stock is a tactile, fun, alive experience.

I am no technophobe, yet sadly these experiences are going digital. Yes, it’s convenient to download anything, anywhere, at anytime, but aren’t we losing something in the process?

It's easy to get evocative when your scouring through discs.

It’s easy to get evocative when your scouring through discs.

This music shop has it all: posters, instruments, a deep rare collection of hard-to-find music, knowledgeable, helpful staff.

The challenge is great for brick and mortal retailers. How do you prevent your shop from becoming just a place to price compare? It’s become common to see people comparing prices of an in store item versus what can be found on

If you own a retail store or business, this isn’t time to think of better days in your past. It’s the time to think that now is your time to create an in-store experience that gets your customers talking.

So what might you do to create an in-store experience that’s remarkably memorable?

  1. Build packages that paint the picture: Don’t just place products in isolation. Package together complementary products that transform one random purchase into a transformation of a room or space. Think IKEA building fully-featured rooms of furniture or a music store showcasing Tom Petty’s music since Full Moon Fever.
  2. Show an appreciation for each visitor: Yes, the selection and convenience in the digital world can’t be beat, but what if you have a question? Using the chat function via a Web site is a lame replacement compared to getting questions answered directly from a store associate. Hire and groom employees to be the most helpful customer-centric stewards for your business.
  3. Use the online to drive the offline: Just because your store dwells in the physical world doesn’t mean you should neglect digital. If you do, you are making a big mistake. Use your site, social media, e-mail to promote in-store events and discounts; establish a presence online that’s different, friendly, fun.

Music stores, clothing retailers, convenience stores: use these tips to stay relevant in this ultra-competitive climate. There’s no reason why the smallest, coolest Mom and Pop can’t try its best to stand out and give the digital world a real run for its money.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

Share Button

eBook: How Do Brands Win Business

Friends, Product marketers, business owners, customer service reps, product managers, marketers:

It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to publish a book. I am thrilled to announce: I did it!!

Here’s my first of what will hopefully be many e-books and books.

The journey is just beginning.

The journey is just beginning. Let’s get there together.

This book is titled: How Do Brands Win Business

In this book, you’ll learn what brands such as Subway, Walt Disney, Hertz, Cirque Du Soleil, CBS did and didn’t do to connect with their customers.

I’ve collected some of my stories and lessons in hopes that you can do more of the good things and fewer of the less desirable things that push us further from our goals.

Enjoy this book and help spread the word.

Note: The book can be yours for only $2.99. That’s less than the price of your extra caffeinated treat this morning.

Until next time,

Dan Naden
Naden’s Corner
How Do Brands Win Business’ – eBook

Share Button

Are you ready for the biggest presentation of your life?

The crowd gathers in the conference hall; the buzz about your presentation is so alive you can feel electricity in the air. Every noteworthy blog, Twitter feed, LinkedIn discussion group and e-mail list has been hyping your presentation as the next big thing.

The front seats fill up within minutes. With five minutes until your presentation, there’s not an empty seat in the hall.

You review the key talking points in your head, while wiping a faint bead of sweat from your head. A last sip of water and a nervous press of your pants steadies you. You are ready for this big moment.

The Master of Ceremonies’ resonant voice fills the room:

“Thank you for coming to this conference. It is wonderful to see a sellout crowd gathered for such an historic occasion. I have heard our keynote speak a number of times, and your life is ready to be changed. Please help me welcome our keynote speaker.”

If you were given this complimentary introduction for your big speech would you be ready? Would you exceed the expectations of an audience already buzzing with excitement?

When it's your big chance to take the mic, what will you do?

When it’s your big chance to take the mic, what will you do?

Here are a few tips to keep your audience talking long after the lights dim:

  1. Talk with your audience, not at them: If your goal is to show how smart or funny you are, you’ll fail miserably. Ask the audience some questions. Get their hands in the air. Make them stand up, sit down, jump around. Make them repeat the key points of your presentation.
  2. Tell stories: Stories make you seem more real, more authentic, more reachable. It’s perfectly fine to add some quotes and facts to help make a point, but stories (the more vivid, the better) are the pieces of your presentation that will be remembered.
  3. Speak from the seats, not the podium: If you’ve done your homework, you intimately know the hopes, dreams, fears of your audience. You know what keeps them up at night. You are well aware of how they are motivated. Being a thought leader means knowing the questions and answers that are always on your audience’s mind.

When you are passed the microphone for the biggest presentation of your life, will you be ready? Follow these tips and you’ll hear that pre-presentation buzz; you’ll feel that electricity and seize the moment.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

Share Button

Coffee Bean: Customer Focused every day

I have high expectations for new businesses.

I have an expectation when entering a new store that I’ll be treated like royalty. I want that business to do everything they can to show me that I am a valued customer.

Frequently, this lofty ideal is crushed, leaving me departing the venue dejected, despondent; a new business’ worst nightmare.

I’ll tell my friends about my miserable experience, enlightening them about all that went wrong.

Coffee Bean's not just serving coffee, but memories.

Coffee Bean’s not just serving coffee, but memories.

On a sunny Monday morning in Austin, Texas, a shining, triumphant new business star was born. Nothing went wrong.

A new Coffee Bean Tea & Leaf store opened in our neighborhood, and my wife and I were eager to give the store a try.

Opening the door for my wife, we were serenaded with welcomes from the staff: “Hello, how are you today? Welcome, it is great to see you.”
We may have come in strangers, but we felt welcomed within an instant.

What store makes this a common practice? In most in-store experiences, it’s tough to get eye contact with an employee. This interaction, though, was authentic, engaging, breathtaking, refreshing.

After ordering our drinks, we relaxed in soft, cushiony chairs; the sunlight threw long shadows across the spotless floor.

Nearby, a young woman looked frustrated at her laptop. Within seconds, a Coffee Bean employee appeared: “Are you having trouble connecting to the WIFI? Let me help you.” The woman’s scowl disappeared; a fresh, surprised smile grew across her face.

Was this really happening? Employees that appeared happy to work there, and happy to please – there is hope for customers.

Our drinks arrived quickly. My wife couldn’t stop commenting on the flavor in her Latte. My coffee tasted fresh, not burnt. A few minutes passed, and a friendly employee asked: “Would you like a glass of ice water?”

If this is the new standard for service, I am a believer. Don’t just give me what I expect; blow me away with kindness; go out of the way to show you care.

Sadly, the day was too nice to stay at the Coffee Bean. The calendar said January, but the weather shouted April. As we left, the manager stopped by our chairs, thanked us for coming, picked up our glasses, and gave a hug to a young woman with her children.

“It’s great to see you again. Thanks for coming back,” he told the young woman.

“It’s great to be here. What a nice day it is today, “ the woman responded.

Another customer dazzled by attention, care, diligence, friendliness.

Give Coffee Bean a try. I hope your experience is a pleasant one. If it’s anything like our recent experience, you’ll come back for more.

Idea for Coffee Bean: Not sure of the return on investment for those loyalty clubs, but how about starting a Coffee Bean rewards club called the Beaners? Personally, I don’t need a program such as this to come back again, but it could help the skeptics.

Check Coffee Bean on Twitter: @TheCoffeeBean

Until next time,

Dan Naden

Share Button

Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: