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Why only 7?!?

Recently, my wife and I picked up some new Brita filters from Sam’s club. Now, while 7 filters for $30 is an amazing deal, what I couldn’t help but think is why are there only 7 filters?

You see, when you open up the package, you’ll find a very commercial looking box which looks like it could be sold as it’s own separate unit containing 4 filters, and another box with the same amount of detail, but only containing 3 filters.

…and then you’ll find the plain white “filler” box, which you can see in the picture.

This plain, white box does more than just serve as a placeholder so the 3-filter box doesn’t slide around, it also serves to be quite an eyesore and a reminder that, while you could have had two fancy looking boxes with 4 filters each, you get  one less filter.

Brita, why would you not just put 8 filters in the package and raise the price a tiny bit?

If you’ve optimized your price point with 7 filters, why do you not do something more crafty or creative with your “filler”? Make the package a different shape, or at least decorate the filler box in some way instead of including this eyesore in the package!


The Circles of Marketing

Another awesome reminder form Seth Godin that there is more to Marketing than advertising!

There is so much more depth, art, and skill required, which is honestly why I love it so much.

It is certainly a great though-provoking read!


My wife and I were walking through Sam’s Club, and we came across an AWESOME salesman. How do I know that he was awesome? Because he was annoying and pushy as heck!

In all seriousness though, I think we can analyze his approach and tactics to improve our ability to influence others and make ourselves more persuasive.

Let’s start from the top…

  1. “How are you doing today, folks?” – You have to get people’s attention. It seems like the part of sales that most people dread: You just plain have to get people’s attention. I’ve seen so many “sales people” who seem like they’re afraid to stand out or get your attention. Plain and simple: if you don’t get my attention, I don’t buy from you.
  2. “Would you like to try a sample?” – You have to be proud of and/or stand behind what you’re selling (or at least give that appearance). I’m actually on the fence about free samples because I’ve seen them misused quite frequently (for example: the farmer offering free samples of blueberries in front of his  stand at the farmer’s market…everyone knows what a blueberry tastes like, and your blueberry isn’t going to draw hordes of customers away from your competitors). What I like about his free sample approach is that he waited for the “That IS good” that follows tasting the free sample, and then he promptly presented the bag “Yeah, and can you believe that it’s frozen?”
  3. “Just heat it up and you’re ready to eat!” – Explain how your product/service is beneficial to your customer and/or makes their life easier. I know, I know, this is the usual salesman stuff, but he wasn’t just saying this as an ‘end all’ statement to close the sale; he was using this to lay the groundwork:
  4. “Ma’am, how would you prepare this for dinner?” – Get your customer to start dreaming of using your product. Oh man…we’re working with a master here… By asking this question, he’s putting you on the spot to start visualizing, start daydreaming, and start responding and taking an active role in the sales pitch. “I’d probably put it in stir fry” my wife said, and I could instantly taste it. Audience participation is a powerful thing.
  5. “Are you ready to pick up a bag?” – Give a ‘call to action’ statement. This part of the pitch is so often overlooked, but it is what actually puts the pressure on and closes the sale! You cannot leave off the call to action statement!!!
  6. “We’re only here for a limited time! – Give a sense of urgency. This deflects the ‘I’ll just pick it up next time’ response and activates the natural human response to act on something when we only have a small window of opportunity.
  7. “Most people are picking up at least two bags!” – Use the crowd mentality to gain credibility and make the customer feel justified. He peer pressured us…with what was most likely a slight un-truth. Well, if everyone else is getting a couple bags, I suppose I’m justified to get two bags too! People draw credibility from what the crowd is doing, and he knew this and played it well. Of course, you can do this differently (through statistics, etc), but playing the numbers is a pretty effective approach/tactic.

We only ended up getting one bag (I have willpower like an ox!), but I felt that his sales approach and style was worth some analysis.

Some frozen Asian food company got their money’s worth out of that sales guy!

Stuck on you

70% Better No-Stick?

First of all, I don’t know if that’s correct grammar or not (but I’m guessing that it’s not…).

Secondly, how the heck did you determine that you’re 70% better at no-stickability? (My best guess: “Hey Earl! Only 3 of my 10 chicken nuggets stuck to the pan!!!”)

Thirdly, I don’t know if this makes your current product look awesome, or if it just makes your old product look like it was really, really bad…

70% is quite a jump in quality…How does that even happen?


Did I get one awesome captcha today?


Nowadays it seems like more and more retailers are being pushed to create mobile friendly sites (and it certainly makes sense with the use of smart phones on the rise), but it seems that one feature which is often overlooked is the search box…which is a shame because it’s probably one of the most used features of the site.

An easy example is Target’s mobile site: you click in the “search” box, and the text remains there. You have to backspace out the text in order to actually search for anything.

This, in and of itself, takes some unnecessary time and clicks, but, to add to the frustration, sometimes my phone reads the “backspace” command as a “go back to the last page” command, and then I have to go forward just to get back to the site to try the same dang thing again.

This seems like another one of those cases where the usability wasn’t checked by actual, oxygen-breathing humans.

The functionality is all there, but the user-friendliness is sadly lacking.


The Placebo Effect

Numerous studies have validated the ‘Placebo Effect’.

Simply stated, if you have a symptom which you’re trying to get rid of, and you’re given a placebo, even if you know that it’s a placebo, studies have shown that you are pretty likely to show improvement in your symptoms (and you tend to have way  less side effects!).

It’s similar to how you feel instant relief after taking a Tylenol (even though, naturally, it takes time to take effect).

I personally believe that we don’t use this to our advantage nearly enough.

As an example, I’ll let you in on one of my darkest secrets: I love playing Ultimate Frisbee, but, unfortunately, I’m not a very fast runner, so I will keep a pack of Sweet Tarts  in my pocket and pop a Sweet Tart in between games or before the game point. I tell myself its an energy pill, and BAM! I’m a running machine!

So, do you tend to be nervous at big meetings? First dates? Take a ‘smartie’ as a confidence pill! Do you get writer’s block frequently? Take a ‘smartie’ as an intelligence or focus pill!

Our minds are so powerful…let’s put them to work for us!

(Disclaimer: this post was, in no way, funded or supported by Nestlé or the Smarties Candy Company.)

Lost in translation…

I own a couple of these style of cups.

They’re great…in concept, but something got lost between concept and design.

First of all, mine cannot be microwaved, or put in the dishwasher. You aren’t even supposed to put hot beverages in it. Therefore, this cup is an inconvenience.

Secondly, the straw is hard, rigid plastic. I almost chipped a tooth on it the first time I drank out of it, and, if you were to trip or fall while taking a sip, I’m fairly confident that you would inadvertently administer your own tracheotomy.

Thirdly, again with the straw, how the heck are you supposed to clean the inside of it? You’d almost have to buy a set of pipe cleaners to get in there, since you can’t drop it in the dishwasher.

Sometimes I wonder how products like this made it to the market and are being accepted so widely.

That’ll buff out…

Often times, it is very important to momentarily “forget” existing technology in order to create something new (so that we do not carry forward any of the existing inefficiencies from the existing tools/products and we approach problems from a fresh perspective). This is an amazing skill (one that I really wish I was gifted with), but it must be used with a pinch of caution…

Today’s example, the staple gun:

I have many awful childhood memories of trying to use this horrid contraption when helping my dad work on our basement. It surely wasn’t built for children’s hands (or anyone else’s hands, for that matter).

When you push on the bottom of the lever (to get the most leverage), the top of the gun (from which the staple exists) may shift in position or get tilted, and the staple may miss its mark.

If only there were some way to overcome this issue and make a staple gun more ergonomic…but wait, there is!

Enter this little bad boy:

The way that this staple gun is designed, you get the most leverage where you have the most power (between your thumb and first finger), and the staple exits right where the most pressure is being applied (at the top of the gun [the bottom left of the picture]).

This design really is much better from an ergonomic/design perspective, but there is one major issue: People who are used to the non-ergonomic model are prone to holding the ergonomic model upside down and shooting a staple into their hands!

I know several folks who have had this happen to them. Since the ergonomic model is held ‘upside-down’ (with ‘upside-down’ only being defined by the pre-existing, non-ergonomic model), some folks, unsuccessfully, try to hold it ‘right-side up’.

It is for this reason that we must continue to evaluate our designs with regard to previously established perceptions to ensure that we do not defy or overwrite any assumptions that could lead to user injury (and putting a million warning labels on the product is not going to solve the issue).

What about the Sprouts?!?

So, Jimmy John’s…I heard about your ‘sprouts’ issue; the only issue is how I came to find out about it.

The article which I linked to above clearly states that Jimmy John’s is dropping sprouts from the menu, but, as you can tell from their own website, sprouts are still very much on the menu.

Yes, in its current state, Jimmy John’s has sprouts on the menu, but, when you order, you do not get sprouts on your sandwich. This would lead the average consumer to say “Where are the sprouts?”, which then leads to a very awkward situation.

Jimmy John’s is currently living in a state of false promises: what you see on the menu is not what you get, and they’re also flaunting the fact that they’ve had several salmonella outbreaks linked back to their food.

To put this issue behind them, Jimmy John’s needs to simply remove the sprouts from the list of ingredients on their menu items! It’s not that hard!

Yes, there will be some costs associated with updating all of the menus in every franchise, but how have they not even updated the website yet?!? The article I linked to was from February for goodness sake!