I don't need a menu

This is my standard Sunday brunch item:

Breakfast Pizza from Timeless Cafe.

Breakfast Pizza from Timeless Cafe.

For the past four or five Sundays, my wife and I have been going to this wonderful cafe for brunch. It has become a lovely little routine we follow. This past Sunday, I went alone because my wife is away making the world a better place.

When I arrived, I was greeted by a new waitress and when she presented me with a menu ... I simply said, "I don't need a menu ... " Then I proceeded to give her my usual order.

Call me a regular, a loyal customer, a fan, the mayor on Foursquare ... any label you wish really, but you get the idea. I know this place and I love this place. Now let's take me and this specific restaurant out of the equation and look at the concept of someone who walks into a restaurant/cafe/bar and does not ask for a menu.

Here are some facts about this person:

  1. He or she has built this act into part of routine that he or she wakes up and looks forward to that day.
  2. To this person, the place (restaurant/cafe/bar) is more than an establishment, it's a place of rest. A place of peace. A place where you know exactly what you're going to get and you know you will like it, so it allows you to mentally relax and think of some other things. Entering this place is similar to the feeling of coming home after a long trip away.
  3. If asked, this person can talk someone's ear off about this place and can easily convince a group of people to go there.
  4. This person's love for this place will be exponentially enhanced if the employees of this establishment get to know this person on a first-name basis.
  5. If this person ever brings someone with him or her to this place, that new person should be treated with the same if not even greater admiration because this new person has entered a guarded sanctuary and must fall equally in love with it.

Knowing these facts, what can a restaurant/cafe/bar do to keep this relationship strong or attempt to make it even stronger? Here are some ideas, feel free to add your own in the comments:

  1. Get to know the person, ask them for a story, know something that you can ask them about each time you see them.
  2. Make sure that everyone on your staff knows who this person is and what they usually order. This should be easy because they probably come in at the same time on the same day.
  3. Treat them occasionally, give them something for free.
  4. Ask them to try something new that you think they may like. Take their feedback seriously.
  5. Ask them about how you could improve one thing you're doing.
  6. If they bring a friend (or more than one), definitely offer something on the house. You must impress the friends.

Relationship building is everything in the service industry (well, in every industry really), if you run a service business that offers a menu and you have a customer that doesn't ask for one ... it basically means this customer is offering you his or her hand in marriage ...

Take it.


I have always been drawn to brands that act human

Whether it be through design, writing or any other element, acting human is a very easy way for brands to connect with consumers; however, it is sometimes not easy for an inanimate object to act human.

For a while, I've wanted a new pair of headphones. The other day, I decided to start researching some potential options. After some time, I stumbled upon a brand called Urbanears. I was immediately drawn to their simplicity and was able to connect with them on a level that was very different to other headphone brands.

I ended up purchasing a pair of Urbanears and upon opening up the box, I realized why I was so drawn to this brand ...

This is the first page. The brochure is speaking to me.

This is the first page. The brochure is speaking to me.

A family of headphones sitting down to dinner.

A family of headphones sitting down to dinner.

A couple of headphones playing cards.

A couple of headphones playing cards.

Thank you for buying me, Shum.

Thank you for buying me, Shum.

You're welcome Urbanears.

Humans connect most easily with other humans.

How can you make your brand more human?

The New Platform

I am constantly impressed by Rovio's ability to innovate. A long time ago, I wrote a post about what your brand can learn from Angry Birds. Today, Rovio continues to give us reasons to admire them. Most recently the Company announced the launch of a new cartoon series. However, unlike most cartoons, this one won't debut the traditional way ... it will instead debut on the app itself... and wherever that app can be found.



Fast Company has some good coverage of this news, you should give it a quick glance. In the article, there is a quote from the CMO of Rovio that really struck me ..

"If we want to distribute cartoons on Saturday mornings globally, we can do that. We don’t have to talk to 100 broadcasters--we can stick it on our own channels, and it’s there."

Take a second to re-read that.

This quote illustrates the future of both content distribution and content consumption. It may even go so far as to hint at the future of content creation. 

Content needs to add value to a consumer's life. Even if that value just comes in the form of mindless entertainment, it still has to be entertaining enough to be considered valuable by the consumer. Rovio's consumers are already receiving value. By downloading Angry Birds, they have given permission to Rovio to deliver valuable experiences to them. Rovio is now planning on adding even more value to that relationship. The genius of it all is that Rovio is using its own platform to deliver this new value.

How can you create a platform for your brand? What value will you offer on that platform?

Angry Birds is no longer just a game.

It's a platform.

Moment Hacking

During the Superbowl this past weekend, something occurred that caused a real disruption. A disruption to the way the game is played.

Of course, this had nothing to do with Football ... and everything to do with advertising.

Before we get into that, I would like to bring up a concept I came across a long time ago called, 'newsjacking.' I first read about it through the brilliance of Joe Chernov and began to understand how easily it could work into an organization's SEO strategy. If your organization has an active blog, newsjacking is an especially useful tactic. Here's how it's defined:

It’s [newsjacking] the act of redirecting the momentum from breaking news into your company’s favor by injecting a fresh perspective … in real time.

Now, let's return to the Superbowl this past weekend. By now, you have probably heard of and seen these (Warning: They are brilliant): 

A Tide Moment Hack.

A Tide Moment Hack.

An Oero Moment Hack.

An Oero Moment Hack.

These are examples of what I am calling: Moment Hacks.

A Moment Hack occurs when a brand uses a trending topic as its basis to ship a piece of creative work which reinforces a brand's message. 

In order to do this well, brands need to be agile. They need to be willing to take a risk. Let go of the red tape because in this game, speed is absolutely everything. Tide, Oero and even some others seized a very opportune moment and produced something remarkable.

Newsjacking and Moment Hacking are very similar concepts. In my view, Moment Hacking deals with the production specifically of a creative piece of work, it needs to be visual so that it can be easily shared. Moment Hacking can also occur in a much shorter time-frame and even has a shorter life-span because moments/trending topics sometimes don't last long.

In the coming year I am sure we are going to witness many more moments. Let's see how they get hacked.

Dear Trevor

Direct marketing campaigns have always fascinated me. They are very expensive and can be very expansive, yet sometimes I fail to see how they bring value to a customer.

Occasionally, one will stand out.

photo 1.JPG

A colleague of mine named Trevor received this neat package in the mail a couple of days ago. As a curious marketer himself, he was very intrigued by the simplicity of the package and decided to see it through ...

photo 2.JPG
Upon sticking the USB dongle into his computer, a little program was executed which brought up an Internet Explorer window with the screen shown above. Trevor was also given a promo code as part of the direct mail package and after entering it in, he was taken to the screen below .. 
photo 3.JPG

Customized, clean and convincing.

What I really like about this piece of marketing is that it turned the usually passive act of consuming a marketing message into an active one. Some people may revolt at that statement because you may argue that we shouldn't spend our days actively consuming marketing messages; however, in this case ... there was actual value in the message.

Notice the box that says 'Trevor's offer' on the top right corner. Trevor actually showed me what this offer was and although it wasn't totally enticing to him at this time, it was still of some value.

Turn passive consumers into active ones by bringing value into their lives - this is what direct marketing should be about.

Actually, that's what all marketing should be about.

6 seconds or less

To share an experience.

On Thursday of last week, Twitter launched a new mobile service called Vine. It is an app for iOS devices at the moment; however, Twitter does have plans to expand it further.

Vine is simple, it allows you to capture and share video footage that lasts 6 seconds or less and then plays it in a continuous loop.

Although the app is only meant for iOS devices, people with other Twitter clients (including the web version) can still be exposed to 'Vines.'

As always, I'm curious about what this means for marketers:

Twitter has forced marketers to think creatively in the space of 140 characters. 120 if you include any kind of link to content. The really interesting thing that Vine has introduced is video. A picture is worth a thousand words. Marketers now have 6 one second pictures strung together with the opportunity to add a caption that can be up to 119-120 characters in length (a Vine link is about 21 characters).

I hope this will result in more storytelling. I hope it will allow brands to become even more human. Share things that allow consumers to relate to brands in new ways.

Time will tell how brands will take to this but for now I'm sure we can expect to feel a little more emotion when looking through our Twitter feeds.

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Continuing the story

The other day ... I came across this in my Facebook mobile feed:

photo 1.PNG

I always keep an eye on the ads in my Facebook mobile newsfeed because for the most part, they are not relevant.

This one was slightly different. It also has some well written copy and a compelling enough image so ... out of curiosity ... I clicked it (sorry for costing you money Digisocial).

Then I came upon this lovely screen:

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Notice the cat.

Did you see the cat anywhere in the first ad? I just thought it was interesting to see the cat as opposed to the image of the mic that was actually in the ad.

Anyway, the point of this post is not to talk about that cat. It's actually about storytelling.

Look at the first image again and read the first line of copy, "Still texting? You're losing life's exciting moments." Now look quickly at the copy on the app page. For some reason this copy doesn't seem quite as compelling as the original ad.

My question is, why not choose to continue the story? Continue the story through the copy on the app page too. Make someone curious. The app is free so don't bore me with the nitty gritty, tell me a story and make me want to download it for free.

Once I get there, the nitty gritty should make me want to keep it.

A lesson in hype building

Dispatch is one of my favourite bands.

They made a lot of music in the late 90's and early 2000's but then took a break until 2011. Now they are back with a new album and have decided to announce a summer tour. Except, unlike any other tour announcement I have seen ... Dispatch decided to do things a little differently ...


Based on the picture, I am sure you can tell how this worked. It initially started with 1000 shares to reveal the first location and then it moved up by small increments to reveal each subsequent location.

Users who visited their website dispatchmusic.com were redirected to a landing page: unlock.dispatch.com where they saw the screen above and could start sharing Dispatch's news.

Here's why I love this idea:

  1. It utilizes fans - If you're the band, you have your locations already set so instead of revealing them all at once, why not utilize your existing fan base to spread your news for you!
  2. Valuable content - Fans who share this are inherently benefiting from it because there is a chance that their city could be on the list. If revealed, they can use this valuable information to start planning to see the show.
  3. Landing page design - The page layout is simple, fans of Dispatch just have to use either Twitter or Facebook and just share content from a band that they already love. Let's be honest, they are probably already logged-in to one of those two services already so that makes the sharing even easier.

A great hype building lesson by a great band.