Wednesday, March 5, 2014

An honest, pleasant, old-fashioned, relationship-oriented car dealer?

Following our horrendous experience at Brigham and Gill Motors, we found another similar Jeep Wrangler listed online at O'Hara Motors down in Falmouth. The car was a year newer, and had less miles than Ali's.

A bit far away, but Pam's Dad lives there so I emailed the dealer.  He was up front about the doc fee - and other aspects of the car.  I sent Pam's dad over to look at, and he reported it was in good shape, hadn't been smoked in, etc.  So far, so good.

When I connected with Paul Matsas, he immediately mentioned he had grown up in Wayland.  (He knew from the zip code on my lead form that we live there now.  The usual, "where did you live, who do you know" thing started (HISTORY - Chapter 8).

Turns out his brother, Steve, is our autobody guy.  Four teenagers later, we know Steve as well as we know the nurses at the Newton-Wellesley Hospital ER.  And, that also means that Paul's niece cuts all our boy's hair at Sommerby's Salon.  And he has a connection to their elementary school teacher, and, and, and...well, hell, we are practically family.

Talk about understanding and building on relationships!  Paul used digital technology to find me, learn about my needs, to figure out that he better be up front with me, and to convince himself that I was ready to buy a car if he could win me over with trust, authenticity, and helpfulness. Then he bridged digital to human interaction and won me over in 10 minutes.  I felt comfortable enough to push him on the doc fee thing - calling him out that it was nothing more than added dealer profit.  He laughed and said, "Hey, call it what you want, we charge it, so add it on to the price you expect to pay me for the car."  Then he surprised me, and gave me a price over the phone (including the damn doc fee) that was irrefutable.  It was fair. (And only slightly higher than what I agree to pay our old pal, Ali for an older, smoked in car with more miles!)

Shoot, what was I supposed to do?

What I did do is give Paul my credit card over the phone, put down a hefty down payment, and arranged to wire him the balance.  All sight unseen.  All because I had finally found the one thing I really wanted more than the car.  I wanted to do business with - no, I was on a mission to find - an honest car salesman.  Paul seemed to get that from the get-go.  He won not only my business, but this column and a heap of online recommendations to follow.  And, of course, he gets a signed copy of Recommend This!

Well played, O'Hara's. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Dishonest and Rude is No Way to Go Through Life, Son

My mom used to play bridge with a nice lady named Peggy Brigham. Every couple of weeks, I got the call to drag up the card tables from the basement and help mom set up the living room.  I still remember the chocolate covered nuts mom would put on the table. A living room full of bridge playing AAUW members was a loud room, but I remember Peggy was really bubbly and really loud. She was also a bit of a celebrity because her husband owned Brigham and Gill Motors out on Rte 9, where everyone bought their cars.  I remember also that she lived up on Livingston Road - in one of the BIG houses in town.

Like my mom, I'm sure Peggy is long gone, but Brigham and Gill still exists.  And I went there yesterday to try and buy a car.  The taste they left in my mouth...well, it was anything but chocolate covered.

I talked to a seeming decent guy named Ali. He refused to budge off his "non-negotiable" Internet-only price (which wasn't actually unfair), but as a concession, he did offer to give us a set of rubber floor mats, after a 20 minute fake argument in the back room with his sales manager.  Wow - we were lucky to have such a tiger on our side in the negotiation!

Don't you just HATE the car buying process?  Wait it gets worse.

After agreeing to pay the full listed "Internet" price, I handed Ali my AMEX for a $2500 deposit. As soon as the card processed, he asked me to sign an invoice containing a $200+ doc fee, and a $179 glass etching fee.  Wha...?

When I balked, he became visibly angry, and then he began spinning a web of lies. The glass etching fee wasn't actually a glass etching fee - it was part of the 'non-negotiable' documentation fee.  (Red flags flying)

When I asked what the doc fee was for, he mumbled some crap that it was for the registration process, and was required by law. When I called BS on that he got really heated, stating that the dealer would be open to a class-action lawsuit if they did not charge everyone the same fee. (Warning lights flashing).

Then he stated that I absolutely would have paid this fee for every car I ever bought in Massachusetts. (So he's calling me a liar now?)

Note that NONE of those statements is even remotely true.

See this consumer warning from the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Protection:  http://www.mass.gov/ocabr/press-releases/20120217-carbuyers.html

Turns out the State called 300 dealers and asked them about the "non-negotiable" documentation fee.  For a good laugh - read the lies other car salesman told the state investigators here: http://www.mass.gov/ocabr/docs/doc-fees-survey-2011.xls

If that wasn't bad enough - when I called Ali on his BS and asked for my deposit back, he literally balled the contract up, and said, "I'm through with you!"  He stomped away, left me standing in the middle of the dealership (with Pam virtually in tears she was so mortified that I would 'buck' the guy). Ali returned five minutes later with my refund in hand and practically threw it at me.  (and of course Pam yelled at me all the way home for not just paying the stupid $400, but that's a story for another blog...)

Keep in mind - I had agreed to pay FULL ASKING PRICE for the car.

Just inexcusable behavior - both in committing consumer fraud by lying to me, and doing it in an insulting and pejorative manner.  Pretty amazing really.

I reached out to Richard Gill on Linkedin.  Have not heard back.  I hope Peggy's ghost pays him a call - and very loudly reminds him of the importance of trust, credibility, and consistency in doing business today - where all business is about relationships and all business is online..

Even car dealers will benefit from reading Recommend This!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Happy Umpteenth Anniversary


We’ve both worked hard, probably too hard, to raise a great family. Our kids are awesome, each different and special, reflecting the love and hard work we both poured into them. You are a wonderful mother.

We’re both feeling proud and sad and happy and scared as each of our babies now steps out on their own, but we can both also share a deep sense of satisfaction knowing we raised them well, and knowing we are there for them unconditionally and always.

These past few years have been hard on you, and watching them be hard on you, has been hard on me. I’m a fixer, a problem solver, a Band-Aid it, kiss it and make it better guy. I would give anything to swoop you up and kiss away the monsters under your bed, or punch your name-calling bullies in the nose for you, but these are not bugaboos and name-calling burdens you’ve been handed.

These are problems I cannot solve. But they will pass, and I will be here with you while they do.

I am very proud of the way you have grown and matured in the face of the losses, hurts, and fears life has thrown at you. You have refused to let others define you. You have refused to stop being yourself. You have refused to stop putting others first despite the personal cost. All this is more than only a very few would be capable of doing. Throughout the worst, you remain strong and kind and good. I am proud to stand at your side as the storm passes.

I know you are anxious about the looming changes in our lives.  I’m nervous, too. I believe we are entering a wonderful and exciting new phase of ‘us’ that may prove to be the best times of our lives. We had only a brief (but wonderful and very exciting) time alone together before the whirlwind of parenting hit. Make no mistake. I love our family, but through almost three wonderful and exciting ‘kid’ decades, I have selfishly dreamed about having you to myself again. Now it’s my turn. 

I loved you at first sight, have loved you every second since, and I will love you with my last breath, but not yet…until then…

Let’s dance.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Another Awesomely Awful Airline Customer Service Experience

Ah, Noreen.  You’re a rising star in the pantheon of nasty, foul-tempered, airline employees that ruin your employer’s brands, and destroy the value of their relationship networks every day. 

Bless the hardworking, smiling, go out of their way folks at JetBlue.  How do they do it?

Somewhere at Delta Airlines headquarters in Atlanta, a team of marketing experts are beating their MBA’s against the wall, trying to figure out how to improve customer service, increase NPS scores, and build valuable long-term relationships with uber-profitable customers (like me).  They know that the success of the airline lies in convincing me, and the rest of my last-minute purchasing, frequent-flying peers to choose Delta. 

And Noreen – you do realize we have a choice, right?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Implement a digital marketing plan that works with the modern consumer

Recommend This! Delivering Digital Experiences that People Want to Share is a comprehensive guide to effectively engaging online audiences by leveraging the fundamental nature of human relations. By reframing the expectations of digital consumers as a drive to make connections, the book enables digital marketers and communicators to harness the power of the Internet by rethinking traditional methods of audience interaction and engagement. Marketing has become less about trumpeting a product, and more about creating a niche within the community.
Invasive, assertive advertising is falling by the wayside as the digital age provides consumers with more choices than ever before. While the medium has changed, the central principle of marketing – building relationships – has not. Recommend This! Delivering Digital Experiences that People Want to Share guides communications professionals through the new digital reality of marketing to the online audience, and provides the information companies need to build a brand that attracts customers instead of chasing them. The book examines the needs of the digital consumer, and provides a roadmap toward fulfilling those needs as a brand. Topics include:
  • Why storytelling engages more than broadcast messaging
  • Shaping digital content to receive attention
  • Nurturing online communities and delivering on promises
  •  Being authentic and maintaining credibility


Thursday, January 9, 2014

My Friend, Paul

I lost a friend a couple of days before Christmas.  Hell of a guy.  Solid as a rock.

The kind of guy who was so competent that if you thought about it you’d feel  like a dolt in comparison, except he made you feel like the coolest, smartest guy on earth when you were with him.

Hell of a guy.

Calling him a friend seems sort of selfish and cheap.  We didn’t exchange Christmas cards or anything.  I had a few beers with him once in a while.  We argued about football, gave each other a bunch of crap when we could.  I didn’t bother to learn his wife’s name until I got the call that they found him dead in his bed the day before Christmas.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Recommend This!

So, by now fellow readers know that I've co-authored a legit business book with Jason Thibeault called, Recommend This!

Personally, I think you'll enjoy reading it, and you'll find it valuable. I hope so.  It was a lot of work to write it, and we have no motivation other than to help you.

JT and I won't see a dime from the project, but that was never the point.  We wrote it because we had to, we had something to say, which we thought was valuable.  Its like an itch in the middle of your back that you can't quite reach. It drives you crazy until you find a tree to rub up against.  Well, for us, the book was our tree.

Now that the book is done, that itch is better, but another one has crept up between our shoulder blades - this one is a little harder to reach, and only you can scratch it.  We want people to read the damn thing - argue about it - curse us out, or shout our praises. Doesn't matter. The only way to scratch this is not be ignored.


Sunday, August 25, 2013

"Stop Right There!"


She's pointing a finger at me, and when she catches my eye she flips her palm up into a stop sign.

Way to make customers feel welcome, Belle.

She's concerned that a first class passenger needs to get back to his seat, and wants me to hold up in the galley and wait for him to get settled.  I got no problem with that. As readers know, I am about the most compliant, and thoughtful, passenger an airline crew could hope to have on board. If you haven't read it, check out my earlier blog post "Sit Down, Shut up, and Fly".

What I do have a problem with is Belle.  She's a first class you-know-what-that-rhymes-with-hitch. Every inch of her body language screams, "I'm sick to death of dealing with you idiot passengers."


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Why We Are Patriots


Boston is a tough little town – always has been.

We face down Mother Nature’s worst - blizzards, hurricanes, fire, and floods (both water and molasses).

And human nature’s worst - unjust rulers, criminals, bigots, and downright scoundrels. 

A decade ago, we faced the devil incarnate. 

Every time we walk through American Airlines Gate B32, we get a shiver up our spine knowing the bastard himself was right there at 7am on September 11, 2001.  Walking down the same jet way.  Breathing the same air.

Yesterday, we faced him again. 


Monday, February 4, 2013

A storytelling masterwork

I'm really excited about the new focus on storytelling in marketing - Coke is doing amazing stuff - loved the race in the desert idea-and they're online storytelling presence is awesome.

We've been talking a lot lately as an industry about storytelling.  I am a big fan of stories as marketing tools.  It's so much more interesting and engaging experience a story rather than a pitch.  Yesterday we saw a dozen great storytelling adverts on the Super Bowl.

None more powerful emotionally than The Farmer

Everyone - including Gary Sinese loved it.  But I say, it's a lousy commercial, and a poor use of storytelling.  Why?  Quick, what product was it pushing?  A pickup truck, good.  Which one?  Chevy? Ford?  No wait...Ram Pickups? hmmm...doesn't Fiat own that brand now?

The commercial was well executed. Paul Harvey, great.  But the connection of the brand to the story?  Not so much.  Chrysler could have woven in all the great stuff they have done for farmers over the years...it must be more than trucks, right?  Well, a quick search doesn't show that much actually. Chrysler doesn't appear to have a farm equipment focus. In fact the only tractor related Chrysler connection was an old news story about Chrysler strong-arming a tiny mid-west tractor manufacturer into giving up its Plymouth Tractor brand.

Bottom line, great execution, but no brand hook other than repetition, equals lousy marketing storytelling.

Monday, January 28, 2013

One lousy touch point destroys the entire customer experience

One unsmiling flight attendant, one lonely french fry on the floor, one hair left in the hotel bathtub…

one lousy little snag in an otherwise perfectly planned and carefully choreographed system is all it takes to collapse the entire enterprise into mediocrity.  Whether you are paying millions of dollars in advertising to attract frequent flyers, or staffing the cash register at your own boutique, the experience you provide customers is a layered house of cards.  One little puff of ill wind sends your entire creation crashing down on itself

Thursday, October 18, 2012

99 and 1/2 Days

Alaskan crab fishing may well be the most dangerous job in the world, but being CMO is the most dangerous in the enterprise. The average tenure of a CMO is 40 months, or 1200 days.  You'd be nuts to give a CMO a mortgage.

Today in my 99th day at Limelight.  I only have 1100 days left – to fix the marketing operations plumbing, fill the pipeline with a steady stream of opportunities, increase brand awareness, improve analyst relations, build a user community, build out international marketing, and develop ‘thought-leadership’ whatever the heck that means. 

Maybe I should just jump overboard now and get it over with…

Nah.  Having too much fun.  And, I don’t get seasick. Much.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Why Marketing is So Damn Hard Nowadays....

Talk about a Limelight bulb going off in your head...

Take a (close) look at this infograph compiled by our friend and colleague Daniel Webster:




Thursday, August 16, 2012

Are You Awesome?

Well...not you yourself...of course, you are awesome...

But is your marketing awesome?  

Are you engaging your online audience with sizzling, relevant content?

Are you consistently presenting them with an awesome digital experience on every type of screen and device they want to use?

Are you leveraging video and multimedia to improve engagement, lengthen sessions, and tell more compelling stories?

Today - buyers are making 80% of their decisions before they ever talk to a salesperson.  And they keep searching, chatting, testing, and exploring at every stage of the buying cycle.  With a tablet or smartphone in hand,
your customers are constantly comparing you to every other option and competitor in the market - right up to signing a purchase order, clicking the buy button, or stepping up to a cashier - and then forever after. 


Yikes...

To win in today's markets, you must present an awesome digital presence on every
channel, on every screen, on every site - ALL THE TIME. 


And you can't control what others say, write, pod, vblog, or rate you on

Presenting a comprehensive, consistent, effective digital presence is hard...

So are you?  


Awesome, that is?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Putting Digital First - A guest post from Jason Thibeault


Putting Digital First 

A Brilliant Guest Post by Jason Thibeault on August 10, 2012 in BusinessHypothesisPhilosophy

In my role at Limelight Networks as the Sr. Director of Marketing Strategy, I have been deeply involved recently in the company’s significant market pivot around digital presence management. As I participated in an internal assessment of our own digital presence (which I have been blogging about on the Limelight website) and had conversations with smart people, I came to realize what makes a successful digital presence.
And it might not be what you think.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Who’s Side Are You On?


How does your customer service process approach a problem? 

On the side of the customer, or your company? 

If you start on the side of your customer, you seek to quickly understand and appreciate the concern, put yourselves in their shoes, empathize with the impact on your customer, and empower your employees to do what’s necessary to make things right.

If you start on the side of the company, you defend your processes, systems, and employees.  You attempt to convince the customer that they are wrong to be concerned. You try to push the problem customer aside. You attempt to baffle or frustrate them with complex rules of engagement. You blame the system. You tell them you are sorry, but there is nothing you can do.


Monday, June 25, 2012

Digital Presence?

Frankly, content delivery seems pretty far outside my wheelhouse.  

I am, after all, an infrastructure marketing guy.  Sure, I have created or helped to create my share of new market categories – managed storage services, continuous data protection, file virtualization, application delivery networking, and even multi-vendor storage itself, way back in the early days.  But, my forte’ has always been selling infrastructure to IT-heads.  What the heck do I know about content delivery?

Ah Ha!

As marketing leader, my job is to ensure my companies excel in two critical areas – demand generation and brand awareness. 

I know a hundred CMOs and VPMs who share similar objectives. 

In order to achieve those two objectives, I push my teams to ensure that our online presence – our website, mobile, social, community, email, every touch-point we have with the market – is the coolest.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Eight Arms and a Smile


“Spiderman, Spiderman, Does whatever a spider can.”

From day one, David, we described you as “Eight Arms and a Smile”, a whirling dervish of cheerful activity.  

And that’s certainly as true today as it was 18 years, 5 months, and 30 days ago when you made your first splash into our collective laps.

Literally…a splash.


Monday, February 20, 2012

Adam Ezra - Get out of my head!



I just asked Pandora to set up an Adam Ezra Group station – the first song it played was by Rob Thomas, which made me smile in an ironic sort of way. I guess it works – similar vocal textures – but if Thomas is a star, and that fact is hard to argue -- then Ezra should have his own private constellation.

Monday, November 7, 2011

IT!! - Johnny Angel Wendell

Damn IT!! – Carmen's Right, Again.

Back in 6th grade, John Carmen taught me a hard lesson. Out on the playground of the Katherine Lee Bates School, John learned me some pain. No, he didn’t beat me up. I had 30 pounds on him, and stood a head taller. It wasn’t noses that got bloodied that bright cold September morning. The intended target of his punch was guts, hearts, maybe something deeper. The weapons weren’t fists or sticks.