Back in 1980, this man urged me to apply for a college student honors competition working at his facility for the summer. I had good grades. Sure, why not? Bingo! I won one of the elite slots.
While deciding on my first day office outfit, he delivered my uniform: long-sleeved safety gear with cinder block-heavy steel-tipped boots. Surprise! I wasn't working in the "office." I was the fill-in summer janitor for the oil refinery warehouse production line, bathrooms, and get this - my favorite job - picking up the dead pigeons along the locomotive tracks around the plant!
After a grueling sizzling hot summer in long sleeves mopping up oil spills, bathroom overflows, bird feathers and carcasses, this same man asked me on my final ride home... "So, how were you treated all summer?"
I answered, "Fine. Everyone was very nice to me."
He said, "Good. Don't ever forget that you had the lowest job in the plant - cleaning up after everyone else - and people were kind to you. You're going to be a great leader someday. Just remember that everyone deserves kindness, to feel special. Learn their names. Get to know them. Treat them well, just like you were treated, always with a smile. You'll go far, sweetie," with that proud wink I always craved as the ultimate badge of honor.
That man was my father, Bob Pahlka... with a lesson that has stayed with me through the years, and I hope to pass to my own children. Thank you, Dad, for all your little lessons and stories I'd do anything to hear again. Happy Father's Day in heaven. (No pigeon-watching for you... flounder fishing, of course.) And to all you wonderful fathers.
While driving home this past weekend through a neighboring town, we passed this sign along the highway, "Free lunch buffet." I was even more intrigued when I saw the business offering it... an adult "dance" club, where - so I'm told - most patrons park in the back so you can't see their cars parked there.
Wow. A strip club having to offer a free LUNCH to drive traffic.
Now let me just say I have never been inside a strip club. Nor am I making any judgment nor comments about them either way. But as a marketer, this incentive was intriguing. They're offering free food to win customers during their lunch hours.
I don't think Taco Bell, Chick-fil-A or your favorite local deli can compete with that. (Unless you consider the Chick-fil-A live cow appearance as prime Grade-A entertainment.)
My point is... every business needs to provide incentives to entice business. I don't know a business out there that doesn't need lures to secure customers, develop a buzz. But it takes real creativity and know-how to tap into the minds of your key prospects to uncover what makes them tick. And then deliver an affordable and memorable incentive to welcome them in that ties into the benefit of their product or service.
I'm speaking next week in Atlantic City at a conference of thousands of Promotional Products professionals -- ExpoEast -- hosted by Promotional Products Association International, as well as all of its local affiliate associations in the Northeast US. Thousands of branding and motivation pros will be there to experience the latest and greatest products that entice, and more importantly WHY they work to change behavior.
I can't wait to see the tons of great promotional ideas that beat a free lunch... because they perform long after. (Fully clothed. <WINK>) Stay tuned for my next blog about what I find.
Mary Ellen Sokalski
Diva of Direct Marketing.