Posts Tagged ‘American Express’

BURGER KING ADS

April 21, 2010

It is hard to write if you have nothing to say.  That’s why it has been so long since the last LiveWorks Newsletter. 

Today I was again reminded of creative and memorable advertising that we could easily create in Live and Branded Live Entertainment but somehow seem to always fall short.  Well if imitation really is the greatest form of flattery, why not just steal others ideas?

“It’s not that original but it’s super affordable…” is the line at the end of the new Burger King TV commercial for its sausage breakfast sandwich that’s a dead ringer for McDonald’s Sausage McMuffin.  In fact, the ad shows Bk’s character, “The King” breaking into McDonald’s headquarters and stealing the secret recipe for the mega-brand’s Sausage McMuffin with Egg.  Funny, smart, daring.

Will these spots end up selling more breakfast sandwiches for Burger King?  I’m betting yes.  Why, because the marketing message is extremely clear and simple.  We have exactly what they have, for less.  Most fast food consumers are also aware that Burger King’s are usually not as busy as McDonald’s restaurants so if the drive-thru looks crowded @ Mickie D’s, you just go down a few restaurants on fast food row to BK and try their new sausage sandwich. 

Now cut to one of our spots.  Are we selling American Express, the acts new record, Coors Light, one of three pre-sales, or tickets to the show?  Hopefully, none of the above.  If you aren’t creating an experience for your consumers, you will continue to get beat by companies out entertaining the entertainment business.  My friend Mike from Yes Dear Entertainment sent me an article stating that Apple is thinking about entering the ticketing business.  Hopefully they will create an iPod type device or some kind of tech gadget that holds paperless tickets, photos you can take and email to your friends of you at the show and other entertainment apps…just to continue to show us how to do our jobs and improve the guest experience. 

Just look at products like Flip Video.  This is the future and we are somehow missing it.  There are young people ready to change our business and we aren’t embracing them.   Entrepreneurs like Alex White from Next Big SoundBrent Smith from WME was talking with me about him today…about what his company is compiling and how that data is a gold mine for predicting future consumer spending, etc.  Plug in!

I’m more hopeful than ever that we can make a difference.  Of course it starts with a product…but for our shows out this spring and summer, let’s makes sure we spread the right message.  It is about the experience our guests will have if they come to our shows!  It isn’t the new single no one has heard, the sponsor no one cares about, or the promoter of the show… how long you’ve been in business, or anything else.  What’s the show, and how is your guest going to have a great time.  That’s your message!  Go spread the word!

Look forward to hearing from all of you as usual!  It is great to see our subscription list grow so much even when I’m not writing.

Thank you for reading and writing back!

Jim

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THANK YOU NOTES

March 10, 2009

While at CAA, I had the pleasure of working with Equinox Fitness.  The company’s employees are very loyal, close, and fiercely protective of their brand (with maybe the exception of their Fallon ad campaign…sorry just my opinion).  They are always looking for new ways to set themselves apart from their competitors and service is a part of that mix.  One of the inside jokes with executives in the office is the “Amex Cookie Story”. 

You see, the company’s chairman Harvey Spevak had gone to an American Express event for executives years ago.  He has never forgotten all the little things they did to make him feel welcome… and brings them up from time-to-time as examples for his staff.  The most popular of those stories; the milk and cookies Harvey found on the night stand in his hotel room before he went to bed.  Funny thing is, he even told me the story.  It meant that much.

Yesterday I came home and went through the stack of mail.  There in an invitation size envelope was something from American Express (shit, too thin to be cookies).  Because “The Card” was embossed on the front, I opened it.  Inside was this…

Dear Mr. Lewi,

As a Card member, you are one of  our most valued customers.  We truly appreciate your business and thank you for being a Card member since 1989. 

As always, but especially during these challenging economic times, our pledge is to remain true to our heritage of providing outstanding customer service and product offerings.  For assistance, or to learn more about your Card, you can always call Customer Service at 1-800….

Best wishes for a safe, healthy and succesful 2009.

Sincerely,

Jud Linville

They didn’t send an email.  To be honest, although better for the environment, it wouldn’t have made the same impact.  Fact is, it would have probably been ignored even if I signed-up for an email alert.  American Express used recycled materials to print on, which shows they did give some thought to the environment.  Props for them on that level too. 

My point to this, send your customers a Thank You Note.  Make sure you make each person feel like you are speaking directly to them vs. sending a form letter (thank you for being a member since 1989).  By going the extra step, you may become Harvey’s next “Amex Cookie Story”.

Speak with you soon…

Jim

CUSTOMER SERVICE CHAMPS

February 24, 2009

First, did you all catch the Senate hearings today on the Live Nation / Ticketmaster merger?  It was weird seeing people you have known well for 20-years testifying on Capital Hill.  Thought Irving was…well Irving and handled himself well.  Seth Hurwitz did a really good job.  Well spoken, facts at the top of his head, he represented the independent promoters well.  Although most senators present seemed to be negative towards the merger, it will probably still pass scrutiny, so everyone keep moving forward. 

My friend Scott Perry who writes The New Music Tipsheet http://www.newmusictipsheet.com/ sent a note about the March 2nd issue of Business Week.  The cover has SPECIAL REPORT printed on the top.  The topic, “Extreme Customer Service, In A Tough Year, 25 Companies That Get It Right”.  So what can we learn from these companies?  Just looking through the list will probably give you some ideas.  I’ve added some fun facts from the Business Week article to help.

  1. Amazon –“Some 30 % of sales come from outside retailers who sell goods on Amazon.”  Although there is more to that paragraph, you can take a lot just from that one sentence. 
  2. USAA Insurance –“Financial services firm for military families handled 150,000 catastrophe claims in 2008, double its average, as events such as Hurricane Ike destroyed customers’ homes and autos.  Still, USAA retained 96% of customers”
  3. Jaguar – “…Jaguar’s field teams for customer service were recently ranked best in the auto industry by the Nation Automobile Dealers Assn.”
  4. Lexus “…awards cash each year – as much as $50,000 – to dealers who have the best new service ideas.”
  5. The Ritz-Carlton – “To lure corporate event planners worried about high-end confabs amid the recession, Ritz will donate 10% of corporate meeting fees to charity.”
  6. Publix Super Markets – “To ensure customers always find what they come looking for, upscale Florida-based grocer Publix adopted an “automated replenishment” system in 2008 for fresh items.  Scanners indicate when inventory levels are low, and software automatically orders replacements.”
  7. Zappos.com – “With no monitoring of call times and no scripts, call centers have so much power it’s critical to make sure they’re a cultural fit.  To do that, CEO Tony Hsieh offers new customer service agents $2000 to leave the company after an initial training period if the new hires don’t think they mesh with Zappos’ zany culture.”
  8. Hewlett-Packard – “In 2008, Hewlett-Packard opened eight new customer service centers worldwide, including two in the U.S.”
  9. T. Rowe Price – To meet the customer service questions that flooded the company following the start of the financial crisis, “the company tapped 300 employees who formerly worked the phones to help meet call demand.”
  10. Ace Hardware – “…rolled out new technology that analyzes past shopping patterns to tell store managers what time of day is quietest for tasks like shelving products and cleaning rest rooms.”
  11. Key Bank – “In the past year, the bank unveiled new online tools that give entrepreneurs many of the cash-management services long reserved for large companies…”
  12. Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts – “…is outsourcing laundry to third parties at some properties and combining some hotel management roles to help save labor costs.”
  13. Norstrom – “Nordsrom’s famous return policy lets customers return any item at any store…”
  14. Cadillac – “Despite General Motors’ cash crunch, Cadillac has not scalled back on guaranteeing loaner cars to customers while their cars are in the shop.”
  15. Amica Insurance – “…CEO Bob DiMuccio says what sets the company apart is decades of investment in the staff, which has a turnover rate of less than 7%.”
  16. Enterprise Rent-A-Car – “…management pay and promotion are directly related to a store’s service performance.”
  17. American Express – New compensation model for call center agents…”offer them incentives tied to satisfaction scores and the flexibility to trade shifts.”
  18. Trader Joe’s Supermarket – “Some 99% of employees work in the stores, and even CEO Dan Bane doesn’t have an assistant.”
  19. Jetblue Airways – “…Jetblue created the industry’s first Customer Bill of Right – which includes providing compensation for passengers affected by problems caused by the carrier.”
  20. Apple – “Last year the company posted the largest one-year increase ever in the University of Michigan’s closely watched American Customer Satisfaction Index.”  Can you say Genius Bar?
  21. Charles Schwab – “A push to reduce the number of steps it takes to open new accounts has helped to shorten some call times, freeing up reps to answer calls faster.”
  22. BMW – “Now BMW ties rewards to how well dealers look after dissatisfied customers.”
  23. True Value – The company is expanding its online survey capabilities.
  24. L.L. Bean – “A simplified software system for entering orders has greatly reduced the training time for new hires.” 
  25. JW Marriott – “… tried to improve service by cross-training employees such as administrative assistants, who have been taught to serve food at banquets.  That keeps service leves high without having to hire more staff.”

Here is the short list of what I took from the top 25.  Some are the same old themes you always hear from me… I’m sorry, but it’s what I see above.

  • Use technology to serve customers, employees and save money
  • Hire the right people
  • Train your employees properly
  • Provide generous compensation packages for employees tied to customer satisfaction, not just sales
  • Have a philanthropic side that matches your customers’ concerns
  • Don’t keep customers holding!  Have a person answer the phone, not a machine
  • Treat your customers like gold…because these days they are worth a lot more

Talk with you soon…

Jim

IMPULSE BUYERS NEEDED

December 27, 2008

When you go to Las Vegas, there are a ton of live entertainment options laid out in front of you.  There’s probably a lot in your town too.  Should there be a bricks & mortar option for ticket shopping for live events?  One where you can see everything (like Ticketmaster) but have the option to purchase at a discount?

People love to shop.  Although retails sales numbers from the holidays are horrible, the fact is the malls and stores felt just as crowded as ever.  A good guess would be that like my family, Christmas didn’t go away Santa just had to tighten his belt from losing half his weight in the stock market.  Even cashed-in some American Express Membership Rewards points to get the toys for the girls (this Santa doesn’t have boys) this year.  So now Christmas is over and we are looking for things to do.  Go to ticketmaster.com and you can find things, but if you are a normal family, this is not something you can do on the fly due to cost.  With live entertainment promoters of all kinds looking for ways to sell “remnant tickets”, we should have at least one business dedicated to selling tickets to IMPULSE BUYERS.

There are probably millions that still don’t know what they are doing on New Year’s Eve, 2008.  Many will end up staying home.  Some because they want to, but others because they just can’t afford any of the options available to them…and the free ones are just not that appealing (crowds, cold, drunken people, etc).  How many live performances on New Year’s Eve do you think still have tickets available?  From the little research project we just did at our house, it is over 90%.

There is one event my family really wanted to go to this New Year’s.  The cheapest ticket is $75 plus “applicable charges”.  $75 ends-up being $89.50 per ticket to not see or hear the show very well.  In these times (or any times), that is just too much.  In a recent Reuters story on Live Nation and CEO Michael Rapino, writer Yinka Adegoke pointed out that “Rapino argues that his business will be able to weather the worst because consumers only visit one or two big shows a year, and they will always save up to see their favorite artists even in a downturn”.  Yikes, is that what the concert business has come to?  We need to attract new fans to live.  A business setup to sell tickets to any live show at any venue from any agency just might do well.

Yes, with a majority of ticket purchases happening online, there would have to be a user friendly web store with everything in it that the bricks and mortar shops have.  But if there was a well designed, laid-out ticketing store in your local up-scale mall where consumers could shop for tickets to live performances at every price, you can bet we would see more impulse buyers and thus less remnant tickets.  It is certainly worth an experiment for any one with the budget and relationships to try.  The Westfield mall in Century City, CA, a few blocks from the Agency Group Events & Entertainment offices would be a good place to start.  Las Vegas would be another.  New York City has the beginnings of this concept already working with the Theatre Development Fund’s TKTS ticket store in the middle of Times Square.

There are almost always lines at this place, and they only sell theatre tickets.  Imagine what we could do with a little effort!  Love to hear your thoughts on this.

Happy New Year!

Jim