Category Archive for Partner Campaigns

The Clean and Green Club, September, 2015

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Shel Horowitz’s Clean and Green Marketing Tip, September 2015
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Can a Book Launch Change the World?
Only if…
1. The book contains powerful new ways of looking at the world, powerful solutions to make and spread change
2. Enough people read the book and start discussing those ideas

Books have often changed the world. Think about The Tipping Point, In Search of Excellence, or even way back to Silent Spring, Tom Paine’s Common Sense and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. I could list hundreds more examples.

My forthcoming 10th book, Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World, can change the business world—with your help. It scores well on #1, showing how businesses can not just go green, but actually make a difference AND a profit turning hunger and poverty into sufficiency, war into peace, and catastrophic climate change into planetary balance.

I’d love your help with #2! And there are several incentives to participate. Please visit http://goingbeyondsustainability.com/will-you-help-business-transform-the-world/ for all the details.

A bit more about the book: Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World, my second collaboration with the legendary Jay Conrad Levinson (Father of Guerrilla Marketing), comes out in March, with endorsements by Jack Canfield of Chicken Soup, Seth Godin, the founders of BNI and GreenBiz.com, the author of The New Rules of Green Marketing (among others), and essays from the authors of Unstoppable/Unstoppable Women and Diet for a Small Planet as well as marketing superstars Yanik Silver and Ken McArthur.

This Month’s Tip: Types of Partnerships
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Every entrepreneur wants new sources of revenue with almost no risk, yet only a small portion understand how the magic of a good partnership can bring this about. As an example, many partnerships are built around payment for results; rather than paying thousands of dollars to advertise in the media with no guarantee of results, you only pay your partners commissions for the sales they actually achieve for you.

Open your mind to infinite possibilities! Last month we talked about who makes a good partner. Now, let’s look at the myriad ways to structure a partnership.

Partnerships can be extremely simple, or very complex. Either way, they typically fall into three main categories, with thousands of subgroupings. So obviously, this is not a comprehensive list ;-):

Marketing, Branding, and Fundraising

  • Referral, with no commission (see the example from my own early days in last month’s newsletter)
  • Referral, with commission
  • Affiliate (where software tracks commissions for you)
  • Package stuffers: you include an offer from another business when you mail out your orders or bag them at a retail counter (with or without a tracking code)
  • Co-marketing multiple products and services from multiple vendors, as individual offerings
  • Co-marketing multiple products and services from multiple vendors, as a single value-added and/or discounted package (as the separate companies with a word processor, spreadsheet, and database did years ago when they created a suite to compete with Microsoft Office)
  • Partnering with a charity/NGO to donate a percentage of sales, time-limited (“dine with us Tuesday and we’ll donate 10% to the food pantry”) or otherwise conditional (“every 50th caller raises another $100 for United Way”)
  • Partnering with a charity/NGO to donate a percentage of sales, ongoing (“portion of the proceeds will be donated to Rainforest Action”)
  • Producing the same product under multiple brand labels (supermarket private-label brands, car companies)
  • Organizing events with a charity partner and bringing in media partners (radio and TV stations, newspapers, popular Internet sites) to publicize the event at no charge
  • Joining forces to create and promote theme-based events, geographical groupings, or other promotions that benefit all participants (maps showing groups of artisanal food businesses or antique shops, themed festivals for craft beer or renewable energy, Taste of the City/Neighborhood restaurant fairs
  • Similar efforts for geography-based communities, neighborhoods, or even individual streets without an overriding theme, such as this example of a street in St. Augustine, Florida: https://www.facebook.com/AvilesStreet

Operations and R&D

  • Joining forces to address different parts of a complex project (the massive energy efficiency retrofit of the Empire State Building involved companies with expertise in window remanufacturing, temperature controls, insulation, and overall green building design)
  • Co-creating new products and technologies (the PowerPC computer chip that ran many computers in the 1990s was a joint project of Apple, IBM, and Motorola)
  • Engaging corporate and NGO leaders in a joint visioning/revisioning process to develop much greener, more socially conscious approaches in business (this month’s recommended book has dozens of examples; I also consult on this)
  • Presenting a unified front to address big problems (as European car manufacturers did when they agreed on strategies and processes to take back used up vehicles at the end of their useful life and reuse the parts, pointing out to the government that having their cooperation would work better than an adversarial relationship)
  • Mergers and acquisitions

Financial

  • Cooperative ownership
  • Pay-upfront memberships such as CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farms
  • Stock options/employee ownership plans
  • Traditional financial partnerships, such as silent partners, angels/VCs, and IPOs—and the more consumer-oriented models such as mutual funds that create partnerships with thousands of members
  • Issuing scrip; your customers and neighbors can buy “currency” usable only at your business, typically for 10 to 20 percent less than the face value
  • Local currency networks, such as Ithaca Hours (Ithaca, NY and vicinity) and BerkShares (Berkshire County, MA)
  • Computerized barter networks
  • Time trade networks, where an hour of a doctor’s labor is worth the same as an hour of a babysitter’s

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About Shel & This Newsletter

As a green and social change business profitability/marketing consultant and copywriteraward-winning author of ten booksinternational speaker and trainer, blogger, syndicated columnist – Shel Horowitz shows how green, ethical, and socially conscious businesses can actually be *more* profitable than your less-green, less-socially-aware competitors. His award-winning 8th book Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green: Winning Strategies to Improve Your Profits and Your Planet was a category bestseller for at least 34 months (and is now available exclusively through Shel). Shel also helps authors/ publishers, small businesses, and organizations to market effectively, and turns unpublished writers into well-published authors.

Shel Horowitz’s consulting firm, Green And Profitable, is the first business ever to earn Green America’s rigorous Gold Certification as a leading green company. He was inducted into the National Environmental Hall of Fame in 2011.

He began publishing his monthly newsletter all the way back in 1997, making it one of the oldest marketing e-zines (it’s changed names a few times along the way).

“As always, some of the links in this newsletter earn commissions—because I believe in the products and services enough to promote them (I get asked to endorse lots of other programs I don’t share with you, because I don’t find them worthy).”

Friends Who Want to Help

30-minute no-charge session with a master business and life coach
Posting this on behalf of my friend, colleague, and masterful coach Oshana Himot. I have benefitted enormously working with her. She’s really helped me crystalize the idea that I can shift my focus to turn hunger and poverty into sufficiency, war into peace, and catastrophic climate change into planetary balance—through the profit motive. Without her, I wouldn’t have done my TEDx talk, “Impossible is a Dare” (hear the talk and see the slides at http://www.business-for-a-better-world.com/tedtalks/ )
nor would I have written the new book.

She writes: “If you work to change society in positive waysI’m a skilled coach who can help you work through the stuck places and go forward… With a mix of both business and life coaching skills, and MBA, and a diversified set of tools, I work with you as the unique and wonderful person you are–and the amazing, powerful person you’d like to become. What you would like to achieve.

“How can this work can benefit you? Schedule a complimentary 30-minute session and find out. You can reach me at 602-463-6797 or through email at: oshana@oshanasjoywork.com.

Debbie Allen’s new book on Positioning—Yours at NO Cost
I’ve got an exciting gift for you! Download my friend Debbie Allen’s brand new book, EXPERT POSITIONING: How to Dominate Your Competition and Gain High Paying Clients at no cost. Expert Positioning is a great way to stand out and market your business; I’ve personally built my business with it. Debbie’s been in the expert space for decades. Her new book walks you through the process to setting up your expert business so you can easily gain higher paying clients and make more sales. Get your free copy now at www.ExpertDomination.com 

Hear and Meet Shel
I’ve been so busy getting the book done that I haven’t been booking talks lately. But that’s about to change! As the book launch draws closer, I expect to have several engagements. And remember—if you connect me with a paid speaking gig (OR a sponsor who will fund no-pay engagements), you can earn a very nice commission. Please write to me if you would like to help.


Just announced: a stellar looking Guerrilla Marketing Reunion with a lineup that includes Seth Godin, Jay Conrad Levinson’s widow Jeannie Levinson, Joel Comm, Loral Langemeier, and several other luminaries, November 2-4 in Orlando. Price is very reasonable. I’m going; how about you? http://guerrillamarketingfamilyreunion.com/ (Oh, and let me know if you’re a nonsmoker who’s interested in sharing a hotel room.)
Another Recommended Book: The Necessary Revolution
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The Necessary Revolution: How Individuals and Organizations Are Working Together to Create A Sustainable World, by Peter Senge, Nina Kruschwitz, Joe Laur, and Sara Schley

Most of the books I’ve been reviewing the last several years have been published relatively recently, often within three years. With a 2008 copyright, this book is outside of that pattern. And while there are pieces of it that are a bit dated—for instance, evaluating and praising BP’s actions on behalf of the environment pre-Deepwater, and of course the dramatic shifts in the fossil fuel climate due to new (and very invasive/destructive) technology and the concurrent shifts in the economy following the recession.

Yet about 90 percent of this book is still intensely relevant, and the orientation toward holistic approaches and working together from different sectors on common goals (e.g., corporate and NGOs or corporate and major government regulators) yields terrific examples and remarkable insights. I like the way it pays attention to both results and process, and demonstrates repeatedly that inclusivity —when combined with holistic thinking and powerful visioning—creates better, longer-lasting, more future-focused results. In other words, it’s not about being less bad, but about rethinking an entire way of doing things to create a greater good in the first place; they see the solution as based in innovation, not coercion—something Buckminster Fuller, who suggested that we humans learn to live on our energy income (i.e., renewables) rather than energy capital (fossil fuels), would agree with (p. 8). By working backward from the world we want to achieve, rather than patching the failures of today’s world, we can leapfrog the incremental small gains and totally rethink and reshape the business world, and heal the planet. So give it a whirl, even if you think 2007 data is too old.

Some of what you’ll learn will be about the changes brought about by the 20th century industrial model—like the shocking statistics that the number of cars in the world leapt from 50 million in 1950 to 800 million less than 60 years later (six times the growth in population), or that (as of 2007) 90 percent of all raw materials ended up as waste (p. 16).

But that second statistic is cause for hope, because it opens up the possibility to use resources far more effectively. If we can bring that 90 percent down to, say, 10 percent, that means we need far less mining, fewer landfills, less energy and water in manufacturing, use, and disposal, and many other benefits.

You’ll also learn powerful stories about individuals who led their organizations not just to a new understanding of how business can profit while serving a higher social and environmental good, but to new products and services—as well as new corporate structures and partnerships (with competitors, trade associations, NGOs/nonprofits, and government agencies), new tools for inclusive decision making and product creation, and new ways of doing business—based in that understanding. If you’ve followed what I’ve written about practical visionaries like Amory Lovins and Dean Cycon (both cited) over the years, or what I’ve written about partnership success strategies, it will not come as news.

Let’s make that hope much more concrete, by sharing just a few of the numerous case studies in the book:

  • After a bunch of folks from Xerox went on a guided wilderness retreat, they saw a Xerox copier rusting in a landfill. This caused an epiphany: they could design copiers that sent nothing to the landfill. Putting this into action meant addressing such issues as product lifecycle and energized the group to reinvent copier technology. While the defunct copier they saw had more than 2000 parts and was not easily disassembled, the Lakes Project model this team developed had just 200 parts and came apart easily for reuse and recycling, and kept 122,000,000 pounds of material out of landfills in a single year (pp. 288-289).
  • BMW, which had been developing plans to collect and recycle worn-out cars, expanded to create a consortium of all car manufacturers in the European Union, developed practical methods to design cars for eventual disassembly and reuse, and then went to the EU government as a united front, with workable plans for the makers to take end-of-life responsibility for their products. The EU adopted their recommendations, which avoided certain regulations the manufacturers felt were unrealistic or too restrictive while accomplishing the agreement to collect and recycle with essentially no pushback from industry—because industry designed the program (pp. 230-232, 248). 
  • Alcoa piloted a massive water reuse project in one plant, and saw an 85 percent reduction in water consumption (p. 182).
  • Meanwhile, Coca-Cola partnered with the global environmental group WWF to examine its total water footprint—including, for instance, the huge amount of water needed to grow its sugarcane. (It turns out that other beverages, including coffee and milk, also have enormous water footprints, once we factor in inputs like the amount a cow drinks.) This initiative got urban corporate executives, environmentalists, residents of environmentally sensitive areas, bottlers, and farmers talking to each other in new ways. (pp. 77-95; the case study doesn’t really address the results of the initiative, which was pretty new at the time).

Senge et al tell us it’s crucial to dream big, and to work from a primarily positive vision—that falling a few points short of a massive, world-changing goal is a much greater success than meeting a goal that’s too easy and doesn’t build change (pp. 293, 325-326).

A key point is that innovations, and movements, typically don’t originate at the centers of organizational power—there are exceptions, of course—but at the periphery, with production workers, managers of small units, etc. (p. 364), developing “creative tension” (pp. 294-296). Often, meaningful change happens when one employee champions the cause and makes it happen. Thus, the book features multiple Toolkit sections, which provide an illustrated overview of specific tools that help organizations grapple with these issues—including companies unaccustomed to giving line workers or unit managers a meaningful say in policy. One example is the five pages about understanding when participants are taking on any of four different roles in a meeting (pp. 276-280).

The authors include a zinger at the very end that could be its own book: a brief section (pp. 374-377) on the need to take these group process skills out beyond the human experience, and to not just take the needs of other species into account, but to design processes that include non-human partners. Reading about Amory Lovins’ active collaboration with apes who had learned to communicate with humans, co-designing an ape-friendly living environment, made me jump out of my chair and yell “Wow!”

There’s much more in this book. Go out and get it, read it carefully, and take lots of notes (I took five pages, and I have tiny handwriting).

The Clean and Green Club, August 2015

Having trouble reading this as e-mail? Please visit www.thecleanandgreenclub.com to read it comfortably online.
Shel Horowitz’s Clean and Green Marketing Tip, August 2015
Discounts on My Two Best Marketing Books—Yours for Just $15 each

Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green was published originally by Wiley. It was named a Groundbreaking Indie Book by Independent Publisher Magazine, republished in Italy and Turkey, and on the Amazon category bestseller lists at least 33 different months). 236 pages of great information on marketing green businesses, plus a bonus package worth hundreds of dollars. Originally priced at $21.95.
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Order: http://shelhorowitz.com/shels-green-products-and-services/
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This Month’s Tip: How to Select Partners
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It’s been two years since we’ve visited one of my very favorite marketing strategies: forming partnerships with others who already reach the market you desire to reach.

Let’s talk today about how to select partners. You’ll find the best results when you and your marketing or operational partners both have a common understanding of how the partnership will help every partner. And your chances of that increase if at least one of these criteria is true:


1. Your products or services complement each other: You appeal to the same demographic/psychographic, but with products and services that work well in tandem (or in groups–like a one-stop wedding shop with florist, caterer, photographer, band, etc.).

2. You have similar offerings but join together to “make the pie higher” for all of you: cooperative advertising with several partners in one big ad that none of you could afford on your own, a big restaurant festival with 50 participants.

3. Similar customer/fan base with not too much overlap. This is the success secret of many Internet marketers. They promote each other’s products and each gain new fans.

4. Complementary operational expertise–like the partnership between FedEx and the United States Postal Service. FedEx is really good at logistics, and the PO is really good at last-mile delivery. So FedEx does the intercity air transport for Express Mail (and I think Priority as well) and the PO finishes the job. 

5. Charity/for-profit partnerships with organizations whose mission is aligned with your brand identity. A construction firm can partner with Habitat for Humanity, a restaurant with a food pantry. I’m using this strategy myself. I partnered with Green America for the release of my 8th book, Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green, and we’re doing it again for my forthcoming Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World. I get in front of their 100,000 or so members multiple times, and they get a portion of the first royalty check.

In short, the possibilities are limitless, and make the most sense when they’re carefully thought out and advance the interests of all parties.

Note that for option 1, you don’t have to work only with people who only offer services and products that you don’t. can even have overlap. Here’s an example the very early days of my business—1981-85, when it was primarily a typing service. I had referral partnerships with several other typing services. Any of us would be glad to type a college term paper or a business letter, but there were other areas that some of us liked and others couldn’t stand. The services I referred clients to happened to like transcribing tapes, which was a task I loathed. And they in turn hated working with resume clients who wanted more than straight typing.

Eventually, once I got my first computer in 1984, I was able to make resume writing my primary offering. From 1985-95, writing resumes while-you-wait was the largest profit center in my business, until I began to supplant it with writing marketing materials for businesses and authors/publishers, and later with the green and social change marketing I’m known for today.

Side note: I actually still offer all the things I used to concentrate on except straight typing. I don’t go out of my way to chase the business, but I still write resumes, press releases, book covers, and web pages when I’m asked. But while I’m glad to have had a “second college education” by typing those thousands of pages, I don’t miss that piece at all, and haven’t typed a term paper or thesis since around 1990.

Next month, we’ll look at the wide range of possible partnerships.


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About Shel & This Newsletter

As a green and social change business profitability/marketing consultant and copywriteraward-winning author of ten booksinternational speaker and trainer, blogger, syndicated columnist – Shel Horowitz shows how green, ethical, and socially conscious businesses can actually be *more* profitable than your less-green, less-socially-aware competitors. His award-winning 8th book Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green: Winning Strategies to Improve Your Profits and Your Planet was a category bestseller for at least 34 months (and is now available exclusively through Shel). Shel also helps authors/ publishers, small businesses, and organizations to market effectively, and turns unpublished writers into well-published authors.

Shel Horowitz’s consulting firm, Green And Profitable, is the first business ever to earn Green America’s rigorous Gold Certification as a leading green company. He was inducted into the National Environmental Hall of Fame in 2011.

He began publishing his monthly newsletter all the way back in 1997, making it one of the oldest marketing e-zines (it’s changed names a few times along the way).

“As always, some of the links in this newsletter earn commissions—because I believe in the products and services enough to promote them (I get asked to endorse lots of other programs I don’t share with you, because I don’t find them worthy).”
A Book I Recommend Only to Know Your Enemy
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The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels by Alex Epstein

In the 13 years I’ve been reviewing a book per month, this is my first negative review. Normally, if a book I’m reading is not good enough to share with you, I move on to one that is. There have been months it’s taken three tries to find a book worthy of reviewing.

But there’s been a lot of buzz about this book, and I felt it important to dispel some of the blatant falsehoods he’s spreading.

Epstein is a master at framing—and, if you’ve followed me for a while, you know that I also pay a lot of attention to framing. It’s a key marketing tool for ideas, especially—but also for products and services. I also give credit to Epstein for creating a well-written book that’s enjoyable to read. And I even agree with some of his arguments:

  • Humans live better because we’ve been able to harness energy—which has led to major improvements in shelter, agriculture, flood control, disaster response, etc.
  • Thus, cheap, plentiful energy has saved millions of lives and improved the quality of life for billions more.
  • Climate activists need to be careful of our science and not make outlandish claims. He points out that the 97 percent climate-scientist consensus that climate change is real and that human behavior is a factor in climate change is not the same as claiming that the same 97 percent feel an immediate need to act. The number is undoubtedly high, but there are some scientists who recognize that humans have increased CO2 levels but don’t see that as a problem.
  • CO2, which plants breathe and turn back into oxygen for us to breathe, is good for plants
  • Most energy company communications grant environmentalists the moral upper hand and don’t try to counteract the public’s image of these technologies as something that should be phased down. Epstein, a master at framing, says this is because the fossil and nuclear companies have failed to present the compelling moral case for their use. I say it’s because, in the face of better, cleaner alternatives, there is no such case for the moral superiority of a dirty technology; we have better ways of achieving our very real energy needs.
  • Humans can have a positive impact on climate change.

But Epstein ignores “inconvenient” facts that don’t fit his worldview, and makes assumptions I don’t agree with:

  • We can’t rely on clean renewables to meet the power demand. Solar and wind are too intermittent, and hydro requires flooding too large an area. Actually, we can. While, historically, solar, wind, geothermal, etc., have only generated a small sliver of our energy, they’re growing exponentially, and new technologies make them more affordable and more efficient. Amazing new developments in battery technology—as well as using the electrical grid itself to store power—solves the intermittence problem. And in-line hydro can capture the power of water without the need to build dams and flood farmland. Many experts believe we can meet 50 to 80 percent of our power society with clean energy within a fairly short time, when we reduce demand through deep conservation.
  • We must examine everything from the point of view of its effects on humans. I prefer to look at the effects on entire ecosystems, of which humans are a part. Other members of the ecosystem are entitled to life and health, too—and this helps humans as well. We don’t know what cures for diseases might be lost if the wrong plant goes extinct. And we do know that removing one predator from the food chain can sometimes have disastrous consequences.
  • Government meddling has kept nuclear from playing a major role. Actually, government subsidies and incentives (such as the Price-Anderson Act, which artificially lowers both the cost and the liability of nuclear insurance—switching financial responsibility for catastrophic accidents to property owners and taxpayers) are the only thing that keeps this extremely dangerous industry afloat.
  • The steep increase CO2 levels has not caused major problems. But the steep rise in CO2 levels is exponential, and the planet responds in geologic time. The 65 years between hitting 300 and 400 PPM is a microsecond in the earth’s time—and far shorter than the time from 200 to 300. We don’t know yet what the consequences are, because the earth is still reacting. And if that exponential curve continues to shoot up (800 PPM in another 65 years?), atmospheric carbon will continue to shoot up.
  • Major environmentalists including Amory Lovins, Bill McKibben, and others are a bunch of Luddite anti-progress know-nothings full of contempt for human beings and an evil agenda of undermining any impact technology could have. Absolute nonsense. Environmental leaders have for decades promoted the positive use of technology. Lovins in particular has built his entire career around using technology to reduce the need for fossil and nuclear by not just transitioning to safe, clean renewables, but designing more efficiently so that we can get the same or better results with dramatically reduced energy input. Many of these practical visionaries embrace a holistic world view that sees the importance of ecosystems, recognizes that humans have often been ecosystem disruptors, and sees human progress as key to helping get the world back in balance.

February 2011: Lessons from the Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco

Shel Horowitz’s Clean and Green Newsletter, February 2011

In This Issue…
  • Marketing Tip: Lessons from the Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco
  • Clean & Green Spotlight: Pepsi: $20 MM to Community, Instead of Super Bowl Ad
  • Another Recommended Book: Bye-Bye Boring Bio
  • Hear & Meet
  • Friends Who Want to Help

A full issue this time, with a tip, a spotlight on a company doing the right thing (a company I don’t often praise, I might add), AND a book review. Enjoy!

PS–Remember that I pay commissions if you find me new corporate/organizational (non-media) markets for my columns, a full-price speaking gig, or a marketing or publishing consulting client. Write for details: mailto:shel@principledprofit.com?subject=NewClientReferralForYou

Lessons from the Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco

Ritz-Carlton has a reputation for blow-your-socks-off customer service, including the widely reported mantra that any employee is empowered to do anything to make a customer happy, as long as implementation will cost less than $200. I’ve even heard a story about a Ritz restaurant employee overhearing a mother telling her non-dairy-eating daughter that there was no soy ice cream on the menu—and going to a nearby store to purchase some.

This was the first time I got to check it out first-hand.

The gleaming white Ritz-Carlton San Francisco sits on a hilltop overlooking the confluence of Chinatown, Nob Hill, and the financial district. Looking like a 1930s-era Washington DC government administrative edifice, with its pillared entrance and huge windows in massive wooden frames, the building exterior is nicely decorated with green bas-relief. It was originally built in 1909 for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company and was later Cogswell College (this information conveniently printed on the room key packet). Because of the hill, the lobby entrance is actually on the fourth floor, which is confusing if you don’t realize it. Bellmen in top hats handle the pull-through driveway, but I arrived on foot.

Staff was universally courteous and informative, yet not obsequious—and totally willing to engage as one human being to another. Maybe because this was relaxed and mellow San Francisco; I found them a lot less reserved than many other corporate hotel employees of my experience—more like what you’d expect to find at a single-location boutique hotel or bed-and-breakfast. (I was told by another guest that the staff here is in fact a lot friendlier than staff she’s experienced at other Ritz locations.)

The lobby is pleasant but not enchanting, with rather fewer plush chairs than many upscale hotels, and those mostly scattered around the periphery. The front desk was surprisingly small. I think every time I passed by, there were only one (usually) or two clerks on duty, but I never saw a line build up. The interior public spaces are well-decorated: curio cabinets at the ends of hallways featuring tasteful Asian pottery and the like, and the halls lined with paintings and photographs of San Francisco street scenes and landmarks.

My room was refreshingly uncorporate. The furnishings are simple but not sparse; my guess is that they’re relatively new but designed to look old and comfortable. (I did see a reference to a recent $12 million renovation.) The décor is anchored by round mirrors with sun’s-rays frames above each bed (too high to be usable as a mirror, but quite effective in anchoring the eye and setting the tone). The feeling, once again, was not of a corporate chain but a small and homey hotel. And since I personally relate much better to cozy than to cold or edgy, I was pleased. A classical radio station was playing softly as a walked in—nice touch.

In fact, “nice touch” was something I found myself thinking a lot. When I opened my room key packet, I didn’t notice it at first, but there was a business card saying

The Ritz-Carlton

Shel Horowitz

In Residence

with the hotel’s full contact information. Very classy, and something I don’t think I’ve ever experienced at any other hotel. I actually brought it back with me at the end of my trip.

At home, I answer my work phone line (if I don’t recognize the caller ID info) “How may I make your day special?” That business card made me feel special.

Another nice touch was the choice of both dark and milk chocolates on the room tray.

The next morning, my conference started, and here was the nicest touch of all: two concierges assigned to the conference, available for any type of assistance. Roy and Lauren were extremely facilitative. Unasked, Lauren brought my box of books to the exhibit table, and at the end of the conference, Roy took it away to reseal and ship back to me—so their suits got sweaty instead of mine. They rang the chimes at the end of every break to signal time to regather, and were there to handle any logistics issues not just for the organizers but also for all of us attenders. Their presence (for the most part, one of them at a time, but sometimes both were on duty) was beyond the expected staff who brought and removed food and beverages, etc., and made it easy to establish a personal connection between the conference and the hotel. Roy, in particular, also seemed quite interested in the subject of the conference (sustainable foods).

That evening, I called the front desk with a question about the iron, which used icons instead of labels for the controls. I’m a word guy, and I found the interface unintuitive. Rather than trying to explain over the phone, the desk clerk said he’d send someone up from housekeeping to show me—very cool. However, after 20 or 30 minutes when the staffer hadn’t arrived, and as I was fading out for the night, I figured it out on my own and canceled the staffer.

Housekeeping redeemed itself on my final morning, I reported a problem with the toilet and a staffer was at my door in less than three minutes. That’s even better than my experience at a Disney hotel a few years back.

Catering was quite good, with a lot of locally grown fresh vegetables and well-prepared desserts. Another nice touch was having the staff bring the dessert carts from our lunch spot in the courtyard tent (nice and sunny after a morning in the basement conference room) down to the exhibit area so we could continue to feast as the sessions restarted.

One thing that does need to be modernized, however, is the electricity. In this era of multiple devices each with its own charger, there was only one open outlet in my room, and it was nowhere near the desk. In order to type this on my laptop while plugged in, I’m sitting in an armchair and balancing the laptop on a tiny nightstand.

Outlets were also in short supply in our conference room, although there were a decent number along the back wall of the exhibit and food area just outside. Inside, there were none along the side walls, a few (in high demand) at the back and front.

And the elevators had minds of their own. Whether they chose to bring you to your floor without first going in the opposite direction and either opening and closing the doors or just hanging on the wrong floor for a moment with the doors closed seemed quite arbitrary.  At least twice a day, I was taken up when I wanted down, or vice versa, without anyone waiting to board at the opposite location.

And another thing that would be easy to rectify is the signage. One elevator bank doesn’t go to the rooms, but to a large and unnavigable staff work area. It took me fifteen minutes to undo the confusion and get back to my room. It would have been easy to put up a small sign saying, “If you wish to go to the guest rooms, please use the elevators on the opposite side of the building.”

These, however, are minor quibbles. In all, I found my first experience of a Ritz-Carlton quite charming, and am better prepared to believe the legends. It certainly rates as my most positive experience in a large corporate hotel chain.

So…what lessons can marketers and customer service people take away from this experience?

Lessons From Things the Ritz Did Right:

  • Exceed your customer’s expectations for the experience
  • Provide ongoing and consistent human points of contact (Roy and Lauren) who are not only very helpful but also genuinely interested in the customer and the agenda
  • Make customers feel special with several “nice touch” flourishes
  • Create a superbly pleasant ambience, including high quality fresh, interesting, and well-prepared food along with excellent service

Lessons From Things the Ritz Could Have Done Better

  • Never promise more than you deliver; after thrilling me by promising to send someone up to demonstrate the iron, the no-show from housekeeping (with no call explaining the delay) was a definite downer
  • Make sure the basics work. Infrastructure issues like bad signage, elevators overriding human instruction, and inadequate electrical outlets need to be addressed, because they can form the core of a customer’s experience, and undermine a lot of the good stuff if the customer chooses to focuses on them (I didn’t—but I certainly noticed).

Shel Horowitz’s latest book is Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green. He also writes the monthly columns, Green And Profitable and Green And Practical.

Pepsi: $20 MM to Community, Instead of Super Bowl Ad

It’s pretty rare that I shine the Clean and Green Spotlight on a huge corporation that’s a household name around the world. It’s a nervous-making proposition, especially since the only time I had to rescind the honor was a company in that category (BP).

However…I have learned that if I bestow the honor for a particular achievement or stance, I’m less likely to smear egg all over my face. And I like to “catch companies doing something right” and highlight them. After all, even Walmart  (a company I don’t do business with) was named, because of its amazing reaction to the Katrina flooding of 2005, and may get named again down the road because of its powerful sustainability initiatives at every level and every stakeholder interaction. Yes, I could criticize Walmart for many things—but the company earns my respect in those two areas.

This month, it’s another corporate giant: Pepsi. I am not endorsing Pepsi’s products, many of which are nutritionally dubious or worse. But I do wholeheartedly endorse the company’s decision to stay out of Super Bowl advertising this year, and instead donate the $20 million  it would have spent—an obscene amount to spend on an ad—on community fundraisng projects.

Here are a few lines from the New York Times story about the campaign:

More than $20 million in grants, ranging from $5,000 to $250,000, has been distributed to about 400 winners so far, including $25,000 for new uniforms for the Cedar Park High School band in Cedar Park, Tex., which took its campaign to win votes to Friday night football games. In Las Vegas, a new playground opened last week with a $25,000 grant won in September.

The idea is nicely interactive, involving a lot of voting mechanisms, including heavy use of social media—and spreading the wealth around many projects that could benefit from mid-range grants. It’s a cool bit of community building that also does an excellent job of brand building. And I love win-wins like that.

(My thanks to Chris MacDonald, @ethicsblogger on Twitter, for steering me to this story.)

Another Recommended Book: Bye-Bye Boring Bio by Nancy Juetten

What’s the kiss of death at a party? It’s answering the “what do you do” question the wrong way–some deadly response like “I sell life insurance.” While people will be stampeding away for anyone who answers like that, they’ll flock to someone who does the same thing, but knows how to express it creatively. To keep the same example, wouldn’t you be willing to spend a few minutes finding out about the person who responds, “I help your hard-earned money pass to your children without stopping to drop half of it at the tax offices.”

Many websites and marketing materials make the same kind of mistake. You’ve seen “about us” pages that just blah blah blah about the boring facts, or drown their unique focus in “corporatese.”

If your marketing materials suffer for that disease, Nancy Juetten has the cure. I’ve been an admirer of hers for quite some time, and have incorporated some of her thinking into the work I do with my own marketing clients.

Nancy’s the author of a wonderful book, Bye-Bye Boring Bio, that shows you how to turn on the excitement in everything from Twitter profiles to books, and then convert that excitement into monetization. Highly recommended for speakers, authors, entrepreneurs, and nonprofits–anyone, in short, who wants to convince anyone else that their product, service, or idea is exactly what the prospect needs. Your choice of e-book or spiral-bound.

http://www.byebyeboringbio.com

Hear & Meet Shel

February
  • I’ve really enjoyed Ryan Eliason’s Social Entrepreneurship teleseminar series. In fact, I’ve really made a point of listening to the replays on the calls I couldn’t attend live, and have listened to far more than I do of most series.  Speakers include tree activist Julia Butterfly Hill, former Obama green jobs czar Van Jones, brain researcher/philosopher Dr. Bruce Lipton, the writer Marianne Williamson, Green America head Alisa Gravitz, Bioneers co-founder Nina Simons, and my eco-biz friends George Kao and Tad Hargrave. My session with Ryan airs tomorrow, February 16, 2011, 1 pm ET/10 am PST.
    –>If you want to gain access to the replays, visit http://shelhorowitz.com/go/RyanEliason to register for the no-cost live calls. Once you’ve signed up, you’ll get the information about how to buy the entire set of this excellent series.
  • Yes, it’s short notice. I did mention it last month, though–I’ll be a panelist (not the same thing as a speaker, in this case) at Ken McArthur’s next JV Alert, Orlando, February 18-20. I’ve heard amazing things about these conferences, including some legendary and very profitable deals and partnerships. I’m eager to experience it.  If you’d like to go too, click here for the very impressive speaker lineup and registration link http://shelhorowitz.com/go/JVAlert
March
  • Social Media for Terrified Authors: How to Turn Scary Into Success: Wednesday, March 30, 2 pm ET/11 a.m. PT, with Shel Horowitz and book coach/social media maven Judy Cullins.
    * Have an impact on the three major social media networks in just minutes a day: control social media and keep it from controlling you
    * Understand how to spread your content around the Internet with just a couple of clicks: more ROI for less work
    * Turn social media connections into website traffic, book sales, and client gigs without spending any money to do it.
    *Increase your credibility as a savvy expert.
    *Define and find your book’s target audience on the big 3 social media marketing sites–and market directly to the exact people who can benefit from your book.
    * Get your website or blog pages highly ranked on Google and other search engines.
    Just $19.95, and includes several valuable bonuses. Click http://www.bookcoaching.com/shel-judy-teleseminar.php to get all the details (this is not an affiliate link, but I do benefit financially from your registration).
April
  • April 8-10 I plan to attend the National Conference on Media Reform, in Boston. I’ve attended two previous conferences and am always blown away. If you’re interested in the impact of corporate media on our culture, progressive politics, or exploring the diversified world of D-I-Y (do-it-yourself) independent media—everything from setting up a blog to running your own TV station), this is a must. And if you happen to be in the Amherst/Northampton, MA area, let’s talk about carpooling. I’m thrilled to attend one that won’t require getting on a plane!
  • Saturday, April 23rd, 2011 10 AM-4 PM, my wife D. Dina Friedman and I will exhibit again at Amherst Sustainability Festival in downtown Amherst, MA
  • Thursday, April 28, 1 pm ET/10 a.m. PT: Becky Cortino interviews me on Green Marketing for Biz Buzz: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/bizbuzz Becky is a master networker who has reached out consistently over time, and I’ll bet she does a terrific interview.
May
  • Once again, I’ll be attending Book Expo America, May 24-26 in New York City, and probably IBPA University May 22- 23

Friends Who Want to Help

  • Next to marriage, a business partnership is the most intense and collaborative-dependent and interdependent relationship you can have.  And like marriage over 50% of them fail. That’s a staggering statistic by any measurement.  Finding the Fork in the Road is all about business partnerships.  To buy the book, to see all the people Linda is partnering with to give you *more than 80 goodies* goodies during the launch, or to learn more, go to:  http://www.findingtheforkintheroad.com/book (scroll down to see the gifts).
  • Dr. Mani presents ‘A DAY FOR HEARTS: CHD Awareness Day’ on February 14th – a re-launch of his ebook, “47 Hearts” at http://EzineMarketingCenter.com/47hearts You can read the book in Kindle or PDF format for just $2.99, but he’s hoping you then choose to buy a few copies as a donation to his beloved children’s heart surgery program in India. I bet he’ll still let you in the door even though it was yesterday.

Great Resources: Friends Who Want to Help

Market Me Tweet
If you follow me on Twitter, you might notice that for the last couple of weeks, most of my Tweets don’t come from TweetDeck anymore. Instead, they’re from an application called “ShelHorowitzGreen&EthicalMarketing.” What magic strings did I pull to set that up? None whatsoever, and I can’t program anything more complicated than a QuicKeys macro so you can bet I didn’t write the code for this.

The secret is Market Me Tweet, a nifty little program that lets you create an application, in Twitter’s eyes, just by copying a few lines of code once. It takes maybe ten minutes to set up, and after that, all your Tweets carry your own brand. You just post them, using an implication interface for both Twitter and Facebook very similar to TweetDeck (though, I confess, not quite as elegant). In my case, with my goal of becoming nationally and internationally known as a go-to commentator for green business issues, the ability to reinforce that with every Tweet is very powerful—especially now that Google is indexing Tweets. If you figure you might use Twitter for the next ten years,a lifetime membership will cost you twelve bucks a year. If you purchase any advertising at all, you’ know how ridiculously cheap that is. But if that’s too much to convince you, go get the first month for $15 and see how you like it. Tammy Fennel, head of the company, offers a 30-day money-back guarantee anyhow, so you have nothing to lose.

GoShort URL

You might also notice that some of the URLs I use in this newsletter and on my various social media sites point back to one of my own domains, ShelHorowitz.com. As an example, if you hover your cursor over the link for Market Me Tweet, you’ll see that the actual link is http://shelhorowitz.com/go/MktMTweet. This has a number of advantages: First of all, it provides “link juice” to me instead of some other site, and makes my site a good deal more important in Google’s eyes. Especially if my posts get retweeted or copied to a resource blog, or one of my social media pages—but probably even if they get harvested by a yucky spammy splogger site.

Second, it’s a built in URL shortener, much more convenient to use than monstrosities like blog post URLs. As an example, my most recent blog post as I write this has this lovely and convenient URL (NOT!): http://principledprofit.com/good-business-blog/faked-photos-no-end-to-bps-stupidity/2010/08/02/

And third, it makes it much harder for anyone to hijack any affiliate URLs I happen to use (and yes, both of these resources are affiliate links). Yes, it’s a common practice for unscrupulous marketers to knock out someone else’s affiliate code and substitute their own. (Can you say Eeeeeew?)

Finally, it’s written by Will Bontrager, whom I’ve known online for about 15 years and always found to be a person of great integrity as well as a skilled programmer. He’s done a ton of great utilities over the years.

Want to get your own? Conveniently enough, it’s at http://shelhorowitz.com/go/GoShort

Help Dr. Mani Help Child Heart Patients in India

My Indian friend Dr. Mani is not only a successful Internet marketer, but also a famous pediatric heart surgeon. A large percentage of his Internet income goes to fund surgery for kids who wouldn’t otherwise be able to get this life-saving surgery. He’s just released a new version of his Think, Write, Retire, a very nice guide to infoproduct marketing online. His official launch starts August 15, but I’m jumping the gun since I won’t have an issue then–and you don’t have to wait to get the $123.85in incentives.

Turning Birthday Guests Into World Citizens: Clean and Green Spotlight, March 2010

If the consumer pressure directed to kids is an issue for you…if you’re disgusted by over-the-top parties for 6- or 10-year-olds that cost thousands of dollars…if you want to raise your children with an awareness of how they can make a difference in the wider world—here’s something I found remarkable and inspiring.

A mom-run Canadian company, EchoAge.com, has completely turned traditional birthday parties inside out. Instead of the usual model of everyone bringing a little present, Read the rest of this entry »