What Marketing Genius Thought of This?

 

It was 11:30 AM in Paris last Wednesday and Beth (my wife) and I had a lunch meeting that was set for 12 noon with a couple business associates. As we headed out to the curb to get into a taxi in order to drive to the restaurant, we noticed something odd. There were no taxis in the taxi stand in front of our building!

Unbeknown to us, the taxi drivers in Paris, were all on a two-day work stoppage (yes, a strike) in protest of the “Uber” App, (a personal sedan service that can be requested via an app) which has been cutting into their profits, according to the taxi drivers.  Apparently, they are hoping that the French government will ban the use of Uber in France!

We have used Uber with great success in the United States, and had not thought about using the app while here in Paris. It has been so easy, frankly, to just step outside and into one of any number of waiting taxis, that we didn’t need Uber.

But standing on the curb in the quickly intensifying sunshine with little time to spare to get to our appointment, we wondered if there was any chance of using the app now to book a car for our lunch. Beth tapped the app on her iPhone and within seconds we received confirmation that our Uber sedan would be with us in 15 minutes. After only six minutes, the car pulled up on the curb in front of our building.

Anyone who knows me at all, knows that I put a high premium on a company’s ability to under promise and over deliver. They definitely did just that in the humid Paris heat!

As we headed to our lunch meeting, we began talking about the irony of the taxi drivers’ strike actually driving us (pun intended!) into the waiting arms of the very competitor they were protesting! What marketing genius thought of this blunder-head idea!? To me this is the perfect example of something I call the “unintended consequences of a ‘seemingly’ good idea.” Did no one have a conversation about how this would actually play out? Maybe something like – “let’s see, why don’t we go on strike to protest an online application that will – oh, actually force people to use that online application while we’re all sitting at the brasserie enjoying croissants.” Yea, really smart.

Because of their actions, we have now been reminded of how easy and pleasant using Uber is. There is no money to change hands – all payment arrangements are done through the app. We can enter the request for a car while finishing up whatever it is we are doing and then head straight out into the car once we receive the text notification that it has arrived. We can actually watch the progress of the car as a GPS tracker shows an icon for it en route on our Uber app’s map. Even better – the vehicle is very clean and professional (we drove in a Peugeot to the restaurant and in a Mercedes on the way back – AND it was less than a taxi ride!).

I really like the emailed receipt after being dropped off at our destination. It shows what the average speed of the drive was, the duration of the drive and the final amount. Even better is that Uber ROUNDS DOWN to the nearest dollar! I mean, who actually does THAT?

So, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the taxi drivers who held this work stoppage for reminding me how amazing their competitor really is. Talk about the law of unintended consequences! I wonder how many other people took advantage of this strike to become new Uber customers. I can tell you that I will be requesting an Uber car more frequently on this trip now as a result of the strike.

Epilogue – Note to the Paris Taxi Driver’s Association:

Dear Paris Taxi Driver’s Association, the year is 2014. The internet actually exists and will most likely not disappear no matter how often you go on strike. The Genie cannot be put back into the bottle. Rather than try to “ban” a competitor who actually had a good idea – why not create your own app (as some taxi companies around the world have!) and join the rest of us in the 21st century.

Just a thought.

 

 

Unsolicited Advice is Rarely Appreciated

I recently received an unsolicited e-mail message from a man named Chris.  The message stated:

I watched the “video for International Networking Week and… I found it personally offensive and amateurish.  I just thought you would like some feedback.  Consider that when you make your presentation on the Today Show [next week].”

OK, so I should begin by saying – I don’t know Chris.  I’ve never met him and have never talked to him.  Why he would feel compelled to send me such a ‘pleasant’ communication, I can’t fathom.

However, I am thankful to Chris.  I’m thankful because his e-mail message gives me an opportunity to talk a little bit about relationship networking.

Every time you communicate with someone (especially the first time) it is a chance to construct or deconstruct a relationship. This is the first time I’ve ever heard from Chris.  I’d have to say that “first contact” wasn’t very constructive.

I’m not sure what possesses people to send unsolicited criticism to someone they don’t know.  But it seems to be happening more and more in this digital world.  I can’t imagine that Chris would have the chutzpa to say this to someone if he were face-to-face with them.  However, the digital world is ripe with cyber critics who can say what they want and feel more removed from the situation via the internet (it’s possible that being outside striking distance may have something to do with that).

I went back and looked at the “offending” video.  Since Chris didn’t specify what “offended” him, I have no idea what was said that was so offensive to him.  As for “amateurish,” well, I understand that opinions are like noses, everyone has one (that’s the G-Rated version of this saying).  Despite knowing the opinion thing, I thought I should look at the video again closely.  It was shot by a professional videographer.  It had multiple camera angles, professional lighting, and even makeup (maybe that was offensive to Chris?).  I’ve had people say that this video was a bit “artsy” with the cutaways being a little distracting.  Some people didn’t like the switching between black & white and color.  At least those comments were specific and constructive.   But, amateurish – really?  I thought maybe this guy had some amazing website that would put my video to shame so I checked it out.  Ahh, rather than go to the dark side, let’s just say I wouldn’t refer him based on his website.

Here’s the bottom line:  if you want to succeed in life, make your own business better and be sparing in the way you criticize others.

I know, I know, some people just can’t help themselves.  So, if you just can’t hold back and you feel compelled to vent on some other poor unsuspecting soul, consider these four things before you press “send” on your nasty-gram:

  1. Is your criticism unsolicited?  Unsolicited advice (especially from people you don’t know – is rarely appreciated).
  2. Do you know the person to whom you’re sending the criticism?  If not, why are you really sending it (other than to get something off YOUR chest and put it onto their shoulders)?
  3. Whether you know them or not – is your intention to give ‘constructive’ suggestions (otherwise known as meaningful, specific, positive ideas) or just to vent?  If it’s to vent – tell a friend who loves you instead and leave the person you don’t know alone.
  4. If you send this communication – will it help construct a relationship or deconstruct a relationship?  If it’s the latter – remember Mom’s advice: if you don’t have anything good to say, say nothing at all!

No one has ever built a statue to a critic.  It’s easy to tell other people what they are doing wrong.  It’s hard to do the right thing yourself.

Have you ever had this type of experience?  If so, what did you do?  What would you add to my list above?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on this matter.

 

Dumbest Online Comments

I recently read an article in FORTUNE magazine entitled “OMG!!! The End of Online Stupidity?”

The article was written a few years ago but it stated that “internet veterans have long complained about the steady erosion of civility — and worse, intelligence — in online discourse.”  I couldn’t help but think that things haven’t gotten much better in the last few years.

It never ceases to amaze me how some people behave online (especially if it is anonymous)!  For example, as I was reviewing survey responses to an online survey at BNIBusinessIndex.com, I read two comments that were almost hysterical in their stupidity.

The first response was in relation to the question “Where Do You Reside?”–a question which was accompanied by a list of answer options (including all the populated continents) from which the respondent was asked to select the continent they live in.  In an optional “additional comments” section attached to this question, one respondent felt the need to empatically state, “I’m located in AMERICA not North America!!!”  OK genius.  For the record, America is in North America!

My other . . . ahem . . . “favorite” response was from a person who went on a passionate rant about how “the survey is clearly just a form of ‘pull marketing.'”  He proceeded to ‘scream’ these instructions in all capital letters: “DO NOT USE MY E-MAIL FOR MARKETING PURPOSES!” 

Fair enough, that’s a reasonable ‘request’ . . . the only thing that puts a hitch in the logic of including these instructions is this: not once in any area of the survey are respondents asked to include their e-mail address (the survey is completely anonymous unless a respondent voluntarily offers their name or other info in one of the optional “additional comments” sections).  This respondent’s e-mail address was never once requested, nor was it recorded!  How exactly could we, the survey sponsors, possibly spam people effectively without ever actually trying to collect an e-mail addresses from anyone???

Suffice it to say that people are funny (euphemism for something else I’m thinking . . . I’ll leave it up to your imagination what that may be). 😉

I know I’m not the only one who has seen some whoppers as far as senseless online comments go and I’d love to add some more examples to my list (What?–They make GREAT stories! ) . . . what are some of the dumbest online comments you’ve seen on the internet lately?  Keep it clean though, please–my Mom reads my blog too and, trust me, according to her I’ll never be too old to get in trouble. 😉

 

 

 

Businesses Say Networking Helps Them Succeed; Professors Have to Look up the Term Networking!

My recently completed Referral Institute study of more than 12,000 business professionals from all around the world has ended, and I’ve been going through mountains of statistics and data (oh joy).  I thought I might share an important one with my readers.  This statistic will not surprise anyone in the real world (yes professors, I’m saying you live in a fantasy world):  91.4 percent of all respondents claimed that networking played a role in their success.  Only 6 percent said it did not, and I’m guessing that the 2.7 percent that said networking wasn’t applicable were the professors I just outed as being clueless about the real world.  If you think I’m being harsh, read my blog about my experience with the dean of a local California University who said that networking would never be taught in his school!

OK, so the rest of us aren’t surprised about this result, but here’s why I posted it: Finally, we have some empirical data as to how important business networking is to the success of a business! Maybe now that we are starting to have something boring–like  hard data– more professors in business schools will start to teach this content.  Oh well, it’s good to have goals.

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