“Who Moved My Cheese?” Review

If you haven’t read the short fable “Who Moved My Cheese?” please do. Though Dr. Spencer Johnson first published this in 1998, it is particularly salient right now as society is determined to make 2021 a better year than 2020.  In a Nutshell The short story is based on four different approaches to finding cheese in a maze, which is an analogy for pursuing success. The maze can represent business or personal pursuits. The approaches are reduced to simple actions that are mirrored in the characters’ names.  Sniff and Scurry are mice and don’t rest when their first-found cheese supply starts to dwindle. They sniff it out and scurry toward it. Hem and Haw are little people who are fairly complacent. Haw realizes the error of their folly and goes to hunt for new cheese after they completely depleted their first store of cheese. Hem waits. Hem gets left behind.  The fable is a very accurate portrayal of how people operate on a regular basis without the metaphorical maze. The Sniffs and Scurrys of the world seek new ways to do business. They look for new technology, new products and they hurry to adapt. Haws are late adopters of the new, but they pull through and wonder why they were ever scared. “Haw! Why was I afraid?” Hems, slow to react, stay in denial of the situation obliviously risking obsolescence. A New Vision Last year almost everyone had their cheese moved. The only people who remained in a normal or heightened state of success were the literal suppliers of cheese! Businesses that sell food, liquor, home improvement materials, technology, and those who loan or manage money. Cheese!  Even with a COVID-19 vaccine and a new administration coming into the White House, the world is different and normal has been reinvented. There are jobs out there, but not the same jobs as before the pandemic travelled around the globe. Most revolve around supplying cheese or creating a new cheese. This book is a perfect reminder that success comes to the proactive and the persistent. That is what this decade will take! Opportunities look different and require a great deal of innovation. Right now, the word “pivot” is in conversations and social media posts more often than “Happy New Year” is used in January. Even in the worst situations, people have been pivoting to new careers, creating new businesses from their...
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The First P = PRODUCT

For nonprofits, your product is a service in the form of a program, education, or other resources. The first P of the marketing mix is PRODUCT, regardless if you produce widgets or offer a service. This confuses people often, especially nonprofit marketers. “We don’t sell a product,” they insist.  Yes, you do. It’s your program, your services, your expertise. Even if you offer a free service, there is a value (a price tag) attached to that service. It is what you produce and therefore your PRODUCT. You might have a grant or donors covering the costs of the “free” services you offer but the recipients still have to “purchase” it. They do so by signing-up, enrolling, or simply participating.  In the same way that an attorney, a CPA, even a physician offers a service as their PRODUCT, nonprofits offer a service as support, education, guidance or other resources.  Some are hybrid. You might offer cancer support services and sell products that make cancer treatments more comfortable or aid in post-operation recovery. In this example, the organization offers a service that is intangible and also offers tangible products that the same customer might need.  Usually, services offer a result. They offer peace of mind, better physical health, a better outlook, informed decisions. In the case of the arts, the product is the enjoyment of a shared experience. All great products to market! Leslie A.M. Smith founded McCormick L.A. in 1994 offering public relations and marketing consulting to nonprofits and small businesses. She recently published Laws of Promotion. The 50-page promotional guide for small businesses and local nonprofits is available now on...
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Addressing a Concern

In a digital climate we rely heavily on URLs and email addresses than on postal codes and street locations. It’s no surprise that many organizations (businesses and nonprofits) have left their street address off their websites completely. I’m going to tell you why, in my experience, that is a mistake.  Be Accessible As long as it is safe for you to share your address, then add your address to your home page. An exception would be running a domestic abuse shelter that needs to remain address anonymous. This is especially important if you rely on customers visiting you at some point. For most others having the address on the contact page is adequate. If you run a nonprofit, then you know that some people are reticent to donate online and would prefer to write a check. If you did not already supply them with addressed remittance envelopes, make it easy for them to send you a check by posting your mailing address right on the home page.   Journalists Care You are most likely to earn news coverage from locally based newspapers, TV channels, or radio stations over national news sources. Editors and reporters want to know that you are within their readership/viewership area. For community channels and weekly news sources, that might be the first question they ask to make sure you meet the criteria of their content.  It is also evidence that you are legitimate. Anyone can create a website without an actual business behind it. A journalist needs to verify they aren’t being catfished into a story for an entity that doesn’t exist.  Sharpen Your Branding “Place” is one quarter of the marketing mix and your location could very well be the differentiating factor that sharpens your brand. If you are the first, only, or best of your industry in your city, that’s a big deal! The first sushi restaurant in Tulsa, OK stands out more than the 20th barbecue restaurant in the same city.  Admittedly, most restaurants have their address and a map on their website, but many other businesses and nonprofits do not and that may be something you can improve easily. Maybe I should say address it easily! Leslie A.M. Smith founded McCormick L.A. in 1994 offering public relations and marketing consulting to nonprofits and small businesses. She is the author of “Laws of Promotion,” a 50-page promotional guide directed specifically to small businesses and local nonprofits available now on...
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How Did You Hear About Us?

A large part––arguably the most important part––of evaluating your promotional activities is knowing what’s working amid all of your promotional efforts.  The most obvious and easiest way to know is by asking your prospects and new customers how they heard about you.  This is not complicated. Do not overthink this but be thorough. You’ll see what I mean as you keep reading.  5 Ways to Ask Here are some ways to aid your evaluation. Your IT person will be very familiar with many of these and can probably install them quickly.  An online pop-up form on your website. When a visitor logs on, a pop-up screen immediately (or after a few seconds) asks them how they knew to visit your site. This is totally optional, considered an opt-in technique. Ask on the intake on registration forms. Once they’ve decided to commit to your services, asking people to identify how they heard about you is a natural question and people are forthcoming in offering this information if they remember. Show of hands. If you invited people to attend an event of any kind, you take an impromptu poll to find out which of your efforts brought them to you. News story, social media post, ad, a friend, etc. This is not scientific, but it’s better than now knowing. Conduct a survey with an incentive. Sometimes people need motivation to give you any information. When encouraged to earn a small reward or free PDF download, they might give you many details including demographic data, opinions, and definitely how they heard about you. Pair the question with another opt-in. When people sign-up for your e-newsletter or rewards program, slip in a question about how they heard about you.  In addition, here are two ways to track the results without specifically asking.  Promo codes. Use a promo code that tells you what ad or promotion moved them to action. Create a simple suffix that the customer hardly notices but means a great deal to you. If you sell pizza, your buy one get one (BOGO) promo code might be listed as BOGO2020-N for News in the press release, BOGO2020-F for a Facebook post, etc. Even if they catch on to this very sophisticated encryption (LOL), they don’t care and are happy to supply the code for free food. Create unique emails for different activities. Many communications end with the statement “for more information, contact us at name@your.com/org.” Your IT professional...
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Titles – CEO to Vizier

  As the US Postal Service finds itself in the news quite often lately, I was pondering the title Postmaster General. What a weird title! Silly, really. When you Google it, the information assures the reader that the postmaster general is the CEO of the USPS. Why don’t we just call it that? The first postmaster general was Benjamin Franklin. I have to assume the witty Almanac writer was great at parties making him a Toastmaster Postmaster–now that’s quite a title! An even stranger (dumber) title is Grand Wizard. That’s what a certain white supremacist organization (which doesn’t deserve to be named) calls their leader. It’s stupid enough to suit that group just fine—good branding! I can think of some other suitable titles, but I digress.   The U.S. Government is Not a Great Model for Titles The United States government is full of titles that perhaps don’t mean what they once did and don’t seem to follow the terms of just one organizational chart. President, vice president–those are fine. The term ‘secretary’ was especially confusing to me when I was learning about the Cabinet (the what? Like a cupboard?) in elementary school. My mom was a secretary. She knew shorthand and typed. Is that what the Secretary of the Interior does? By Interior, we mean outside (what?)—national parks and such. She worked at a bank, does that make her a Treasury Secretary? Hmm. Then we have a whole tier of ‘deputies’ under the ‘chief of staff’ (a normal title). Deputies? Where are the sheriffs? Did they all get shot by Eric Clapton? Is the chief of staff the sheriff? In the interest of parallelism, if that person isn’t called the sheriff, shouldn’t those under him or her on the organization chart be called ‘assistant chiefs’? Or ‘sous chefs,’ like in a kitchen?   Russian Influence Sidelining sheik and vizier, the US Presidents somehow embraced the title of ‘czar’ as the title for those who are essentially task force managers, the term for Russian emperors before 1917. How did this Russian title make it into our government structure? Aren’t we opposed to Russian influence? What’s Russian for ‘task force manager’? That might have been better. Czar was largely used as a nickname for the person in charge of a department, however the title was given out by presidential appointment starting with Franklin D. Roosevelt who named 11 czars. Topping...
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