Archive for the ‘business’ Category

Newspapers, Customer Service and Product Delivery

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

So here’s a good one. I emailed my local (large) newspaper yesterday, The Seattle Times, and asked when the paper was supposed to be delivered to my home in the morning. They gave me the times for weekday and weekend. I then emailed back and asked that my paper arrive by those times. They responded “We will notify your carrier”.

Two issues in one. First, Customer Service. Shouldn’t they have said “We will ensure that your paper arrives on time”? The principle here is that customer service should take the problem from the customer and resolve it – not bounce it to some other part of the organization as if they were somehow different. In the eyes of the customer they are all the same.

Second, we have the issue of Product Delivery. What other large organizations rely on independent contractors to leave their product on your driveway (or in the bushes, out in the rain, etc.), hopefully in time to be of use?

Is this a useful business model for the 21st century?


Behind the Scenes: The Marketing of “Fortune and Freedom”

Thursday, January 29th, 2009
Fortune and Freedom

Fortune and Freedom

Hi, I’m Steve O’Keefe, and I’m helping The Old Guy with his online marketing. I promised Jim Hirshfield I would add a post here once a week to talk about how we are approaching online marketing for his new book, Fortune & Freedom.

Jim hired me to do a Blog Outreach Campaign. During the campaign, my team will reach out to three blogs each day and ask them to tell their readers about this book. We did a few things in advance to increase the chances of success.

First, I read the book. You would be surprised how many publicists and marketers never read the books they are promoting. Even editors and publishers often don’t read the books they are publishing. In some cases, the authors have not read their own books! This happens with ghost-written books. Several times I have found authors completely unaware of what is in their own books!

The best ideas for marketing come from a deep understanding of the product and a deep understanding of the target audience. When you do your research on both sides of that equation, you can “find the lightning” that links your product and the target audience. For Jim’s book, time is the lightning.

“Time is the one nonreplaceable asset,” says Jim Hirshfield. If you’re not convinced of that already, his book will do the job. In marketing the book, we are focusing on saving journalists and bloggers time. We wrote a really short news release and a really short pitch, hoping journalists would reward us for our brevity by asking to see the book.

So far, so good. About a dozen journalists have asked to see the book already. Here’s what one top business publication said about our pitch: “The reason we said yes instead of no (like we have to every similar request we’ve ever had in the past) is because you kept it short. We like to support this sort of behavior.”

Besides a short pitch, we also save time for journalists and bloggers by providing a well-chosen excerpt in multiple formats: text, Word, PDF, and HTML. The excerpt, along with high-res and low-res artwork, is readily available through the Media Room on Jim’s web site or by request.

You can’t tell by this post, but we’ve learned the hard way that we get better results when we say less. Think of ways you can reduce your pitches, news releases, and business plans to the bare minimum. You’ll find people appreciate it and reward you with their full attention.

Executive Director, Patron Saint Productions, Inc.
Author, “Complete Guide to Internet Publicity” (WILEY)


Monday, December 1st, 2008

Jim’s Post on the National Association of Realtors Leadership Lab Blog:

Volunteerism Builds Leadership Skills
Jim Hirshfield, author of Fortune & Freedom: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Success and the now-retired founder of cable company Summit Communications, shares his ideas on how to become a better leader.

Q. What makes a good leader?
Hirshfield: I define leadership as the ability to accomplish things through others. Those others can be employees, or they can also be peers or vendors. Getting vendors to cooperate is a better indicator of leadership than getting employees to do so. If people work for you, they’re supposed to do what you say, but getting vendors to go out of their way to help you, I think that demonstrates leadership.
Q. Can you learn to be a leader?
Hirshfield: I believe leadership is a skill you develop. And you should start at an early age. You don’t want to start to open a business when you’re 45 years old and have never worked on your leadership skills.
Q. How can you practice your skills?
Hirshfield: If you want to hone your leadership skills, my advice is work on getting a group of people who aren’t always that motivated to get a job done. You might want to managing a shift at a fast food restaurant, or volunteer to lead a committee at a charity or an association. All these positions give you a chance to try out and improve your leadership abilities.
Q. What does it take to lead others in a volunteer situation?
Hirshfield: To lead and motivate volunteers, you have to give them a well-defined task and set a time limit on both the number of hours of work you expect and when that work has to be completed. People want control of their lives, but they’ll give you a little piece of those lives if you define specifically what’s expected. What doesn’t work is just calling a meeting and then asking for ideas and input. Volunteers know then that they are going to be sucked in. You have to give them a specific timetable.

See the posting at