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    Calling Out Seth

    If you have never had the chance to check out Seth Godin’s blog, you should.  I really enjoy reading it because of the variety of the topics he covers.  They are usually very interesting and definitive.  He tends not to postulate but rather state things as a fact.  It can be refreshing to read something with such a firm and decisive stance.

    All of that said, his most recent post titled How To Lose lacked the quintessential reference that would have given credit where credit is due.  The post is about customers who are looking for something that you don’t have.  Seth has this to say about it:

    Instead of feigning ignorance about the whereabouts of your competitors (you really don’t know where other shoe stores are?) and instead of pretending you don’t have a phone book, what would happen if you actually spent that spare minute being incredibly helpful. “Ask for Jimmy! Tell him Sal sent you…”

    I totally agree with this.  If you don’t have what they are looking for then tell them where they can find the exact product they are looking for first and then suggest that you also have some fine similar products – if in fact you do.

    The reason that I called this post “Calling Out Seth” is because this very principle is illustrated to the extreme in the holiday classic “A Miracle On 34th St”.  In case you don’t remember here is a quick summary from Wikipedia:

    Ignoring instructions to steer parents to goods that Macy’s wants to sell, Kris tells one woman shopper to go to another store, Schoenfeld’s, for a fire engine for her son that Macys doesn’t have. She is so impressed, she tells Julian Shellhammer, head of the toy department, that she will become a loyal Macy’s customer. Kris later informs another mother that Macy’s arch-rival, Gimbles, has better skates for her daughter.

    The store expands on the marketing concept. Anxious to avoid looking greedy by comparison, Gimbels implements the same referral policy throughout its entire chain, forcing Macy’s and other stores to respond in kind. Eventually, Kris accomplishes the impossible: Mr. Macy shakes hands with Mr. Gimbel.

    It is a great concept -if taken to an extreme in the movie – and certainly it can be considered a ‘statesmanly’ thing to do, but not giving credit to such a prominent reference is a small, but important, shortfall of the post.  Moreover, including it would speak so much more directly with the reader because they can instantly relate.

    This has been a Thought From The Cake Scraps.

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