Customer Service Posts

My Daughter’s Take on Marketing

Coders code and salespeople sell. HR people recruit and IT pros keep the servers and networks performing optimally.

But what about marketing? What do marketers do? Ask five people about the role of marketing and you’ll get five different, sometimes widely-divergent answers.

My daughter asked me the other day about marketing.

“Dad, what do you do?” she said with a giggle.

“I am a marketer,” I responded with the confidence of Roman soldier on the offensive.

“What is marketing? Why would you want to do that? Do you go to the supermarket?” she asked while fidgeting with her latest Rainbow Loom creation.

“Well, I do go to the supermarket on occasion, but that is not marketing,” I said while sitting down next to my daughter for one of many interesting, impromptu discussions that life unveils.

My daughter finally knows what I do because of Rainbow Loom.

My daughter finally knows what I do because of Rainbow Loom.

“Marketing helps companies sell their products or services to the people most likely to buy them. Let’s take your Rainbow Loom, for example.”

“Years ago, some eager, creative person saw an opportunity to develop a product for young girls and boys. That person researched existing entertainment options and determined that children might not like to just play video games all day, but might have an interest in creating something with their hands,” I said while quickly realizing that this might be a lengthy conversation.

“But I like video games! You play video games with your hands,” my daughter roared like a Bengal Tiger. “I am bored. Are you done yet? Let’s talk about this later.”

“Hold on, I am almost finished. I know you like video games, but this person saw an opportunity to build a product that was different than video games. Video games are great, but parents sometimes like their children to engage in something a little more tactile, creative, engaging.”

“While this product was being built, the real ‘marketing’ began. The product needed to be made available in stores and online. Which stores should carry the product? Which Websites attracted visitors most likely to buy Rainbow Loom? This is marketing.”

“Why not just make it available everywhere? Every little girl and boy wants a Rainbow Loom!!” my daughter said gleefully.

“Good point, but there are some places – both stores and Websites – that are probably more likely to cater to the most likely buyers of Rainbow Loom. Most of the time, the kids aren’t buying the Rainbow Loom kits; it’s the parents doing the purchasing.”

“Additionally, the product needs to be priced appropriately to make it affordable for families everywhere. This is also marketing.”

“I am beginning to understand what you do,” said my daughter. “But when do you sleep? You must be busy all the time.”

“If you plan things right, there is some time for sleep.” I responded. “Don’t forget that the product and its message needs to be clearly articulated to retailers, stores, schools, organizations – anyone planning to sell Rainbow Loom. This is marketing,” I concluded, taking a deep breath.

“Dad, you are so cool. You did all that for Rainbow Loom. Wait until I tell my friends at school. My Dad created Rainbow Loom!!” my daughter replied with zeal.

“Wouldn’t that be something? I am just using Rainbow Loom as an example. I had nothing to do with the creation of that fantastic product idea,” I said, hoping my daughter was connecting the dots.

“I have, however, done all of the work I mentioned for other products. In addition to what I’ve already shared, there’s a large amount of work involved in talking to customers who’ve bought Rainbow Loom and those who chose not to buy the product.”

“That is crazy, Dad. Why would someone NOT want to buy Rainbow Loom? It’s awesome! It’s the best! Look at all the animals I created. I even created Taylor Swift!!” shrieked my daughter with the conviction of a politician trying to win votes.

“Well, there could be many reasons why someone would not want to buy a Rainbow Loom. You can’t, though, guess at those reasons. This is why those conversations are important. Was it priced too high? Was the Mom or Dad thinking it would be difficult for their child? Maybe the packaging is confusing? This is marketing, my dearest daughter.”

“Honey, without marketing, you wouldn’t be sitting here today, jazzed about Rainbow Loom!” I remarked, smiling from ear to ear. “Think of all the boys and girls that would miss out on the joy of Rainbow Loom.”

“Thanks Dad. Now go do some marketing. I’ve things to do; I want to build a pink and orange giraffe for my best friend at school,” said my daughter.

With no marketing, the coders would question if what they are coding is what the market wants. HR wouldn’t have a compelling story to help sell the company to potential new hires. Sales wouldn’t know how to compare a company’s product to the competition.

Through the magic and engagement of Rainbow Loom, my daughter now has a better sense of marketing, and I have a compelling drive to start conceptualizing the next Rainbow Loom creation. Wish me luck.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

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Stop telling me your greatness; Start showing me how you can help me.

The press release boldly claims that the latest product release will revolutionize the software industry.

EXTRA! EXTRA! Your customers don't care how great you are.

EXTRA! EXTRA! Your customers don’t care how great you are.


The commercial shouts that a new shampoo will give you the most radiantly glamorous hair. 

The company’s Web page puffs out its chest by boasting about the numerous awards the company’s collected throughout its existence. 

Most companies are so consumed with telling the world how great they are that they never actually attempt to communicate with their target customers. 

The stressed, worried, frustrated, tired masses don’t want to read another boring press release about your company’s meteoric growth or the city’s most compelling workplace culture.

The stressed and worried have problems they want solved, and they desire for someone to solve them. Are you showing your market that you can be this company through the videos you produce, content you write, helpful information you share?

We are in the sharing age. Provide me with some insight into how you’ve solved my problem with others and you’ve me listening. And that’s half the battle in this noisy world.

Don’t tell me how great you are; I really don’t care.

Until next time,
Dan Naden

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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

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That’s not my department.

Responsibility; ownership; accountability; these themes sound weighty, and they are; being responsible, accountable, with an ‘owner’s mindset’ is tough to achieve.

A few weeks ago I witnessed firsthand an employee lacking the drive or interest in being responsible and accountable when I was ready with an open wallet to buy his store’s products.

It was Sunday afternoon and the family and I were finishing some ‘before school’ shopping. The store wasn’t insanely crowded, so I believed that I could get some help if I needed it from one of the store clerks.

When a customer arrives at your storefront, act as if you want them there.

When a customer arrives at your storefront, act as if you want them there.

After meandering through the store in search of running shorts, I was at the end of my rope; I needed some help. A few minutes passed before I was able to locate an associate, sporting a bright blue shirt. The clock read 1pm, but he appeared as if he had just awakened from a nap.

“Excuse me, sir,” I said, hopeful that I’d soon find some shorts.

“Can you help me find the running shorts?”

“Uh. Hmm. Not sure. That’s not my department,” a pimple-faced clerk announced.

He pointed towards the back wall of the gargantuan store and reluctantly shared: “I think it is “kinda” that way. I would just walk over there and find someone wearing a blue shirt.”

I faked a thank you (what was I thanking him for exactly?), mumbled something under my breath and walked away. I must have displayed a troubling, confused, bewildered look as I glanced at my wife.

Eventually, I found a few pairs of nice running shorts, but let’s rewind and see how the sales associates could have played this one better.

  1. Take ownership: Walk me over and introduce me to a sales associate who knows the department a little better. Pointing in a vague direction isn’t leadership.
  2. Be a servant leader: Instruct me to wait where I am for a few minutes while the clueless associate finds someone to help me.
  3. Apologize: This person had to know he could have done better, but his lack of an apology had me convinced that this wasn’t the case.

Responsibility, accountability and ownership aren’t just pie in the sky, ethereal concepts. When present, these themes empower employees and shoppers, creating memorable transactions that will make a difference.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

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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

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