Most people that go to a Disney theme park have a good, sometimes great story to tell. In reading the book “Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions” by Guy Kawasaki, I read a personal story in which the individual tells of a situation in which a Disney employee “enchanted him for life.” This prompted me to tell my little story from our very first trip to Disneyland. First, a little background. Our daughter had been wearing braces. The Orthodontist said she could have them off in time for the trip but had to promise to wear her retainer for two hours every day.
The big wow came about from a moment of panic. It was late in the day. As many families did, we grabbed a spot on the curb, to have a good spot for the “Main Street Electrical Parade.” We had dinner, which was probably hot dogs and drinks. Our daughter was dropping her retainer into the ice at the bottom of her mostly empty drink cup, getting it cold and putting it into her mouth. Street cleaners go up and down the street while the pre-parade show is happening. During they day they have brooms and small covered dust pans. Prior to the parade they have a garbage can on wheels. Near the beginning of the parade we gathered up all of our garbage and deposited it in one of these trash containers and off it went.
Of course you know where this is going. When we realize what has happened, the street cleaner is out of sight. My daughter and I race down the street to catch him. We meet a street cleaner but he’s not the right one. He says there is another just down the street and goes with us to catch him. Hurrah, it’s the one that took our trash.
I’m ready to start digging through the trash barrel right there on the street. The two fellows calmly say no we’ll go “back stage.” They take us into a staff only area and they go through the garbage and find the drink cup.
I have since learned that the strteet cleaners in Disney’s theme parks are asked more questions than any other cast member. For this reason they get a great deal of training on dealing with guests. One told me that he has met people from all over the world that he has helped, and he sometimes gets to visit them when he travels. Disney is a company that is a benchmark in terms of customer service. People work for Disney just to learn everything they can about how it’s done. You can of now go to the Disney Institute or just read their book “Be Our Guest: Perfecting the Art of Customer Service.”
Let’s go shopping at the “Wort & Must Co.”? Can you imagine what you might find in this store? If you are a beer or wine making enthusiast you might know that “wort” is the big pot of fermenting liquid in the initial stage of beer making and “must” is that infusion of fermenting wine. This is a very strong name for a local business. It does take a level of understanding to appreciate the significance but once you know, you never forget. Wort & Must Co. is an evocative name. More about that in a minute. Unfortunately when the initial owners sold, the new owner renamed the business Winecrafters. I always remember the original name but never remember the new name, I have to look it up every time I write or talk about it. Winecrafters is very much like Wine Makers and Winekitz but there is little distinction. The name is much closer to a generic name.
In my previous posts on business names I’ve discussed mistakes business owners make. Today’s post looks at what I consider to be great advice on business names from Harry Beckwith. In his book “What Clients Love: a Filed Guide to Growing Your Business” Beckwith groups business names into six categories. He says with rare exception only two of the categories work. The first category is the descriptive name. This is a name that describes what your company does, such as Quick Print. Beckwith says these are ordinary and hard to remember. The second category is an acronym. Names like ADT imply nothing and are forgotten quickly. The third category is the neologism. These are words that are made up, usually from exiting prefixes and suffixes. Names like Sentra and Acura are neologisms. Beckwith says these names often sound contrived. Category four is the geographic name. Here Beckwith says these may work especially if there is an solid connection with the place. One example he uses in the book is Boston Consulting. He says the name works because the city is associated with Harvard and other colleges. However, these too are forgettable.
Category five is the personal name. These names work well for many services. This is especially true for law, accounting and executive search firms. Some caution should be exercised if someone with a similar name has a bad reputation. There is also a concern with very common names like Smith. You must also be cautious that the name not be too long. Partners with three syllable last names end up with a business name that is just too long. Beckwith says you should have four syllables maximum. The sixth category is the evocative name. These names resonate emotionally, they evoke feelings. These names are the easiest to remember. They are not ideal for traditional professional firms such as lawyers but for other businesses these are the best choice. Try to choose an evocative name for your business.
In a previous post I gave my insight into a mistake business owners make when naming their business. Today’s post looks at another mistake; choosing a business name which will be first in an alphabetical listing. Think of a number between one and five, write that many “A”s followed by the work Aardvark. The more “A”s you have the closer to the beginning you will be. This is something that is done to be listed first in a telephone directory. Choosing to name you business after this creature only works if you want to be listed first. Is this the right symbol for your business?
People don’t choose a business because it’s first on an alphabetical list. If a consumer is looking for laser eye surgery what criteria do they use to choose? This is their eye sight so at the very least they are looking for a competent surgeon. Will they choose AAA Aardvark Eye Clinic? Let’s choose another category where safety is not as much of an issue. If a person needs new glasses they may be looking for fashion, selection, speed (glasses in an hour), price. These are four different reasons behind the choice of store the consumer will contact. Does AAA Aardvark Optical speak to any of these issues?
Last century, telephone directory advertising became the staple for many service businesses. We are going to see less of this going forward as telephone directories decline in importance (see “Phone Directory Advertising“). I have always maintained that this is a poor way of choosing a business name, even in a directory world. Now in this era of online search few people refer to a paper directory. An alphabetical business name does evern less for you.
If your business is established and successful with a name chosen to be a first listing, what do you do? Having an alphabetical name doesn’t prevent you from being successful, it just doesn’t offer much help. If you have been in business and are established and successful you much decide if the equity you have in the name outweighs renaming. More on this issue in future posts.
I started a post a while ago planning to discuss naming your business with a thought of making suggestions about things I think work well and some that just don’t. That post is still in draft status but one thought I want to tackle now.
One of the biggest mistakes a small business owner can make when naming their business is to name it after the category. For example, a plumber calls his or her company “The Plumbers” or “The Plumbing Company.” The temptation to do this is because the business owner believes that every time someone talks about their category they are saying the business name. Unfortunately that’s not how this works. There you are, excited because someone says to their partner “Better call the plumbers.” Ah ha, they just said your name! Wrong! In fact what is happening is the consumer just said the generic name of an entire category. Having this type of name actually hurts more than it helps. We’ll get to that thought later.
In the ecology of big business, one of the fundamental rules of marketing is that the number one business in a category can advertise the category, and they will get more business. Think personal water craft (PWC) for example. This is a category with a small number of large competitors. One of the pioneers in this category, Kawasaki, is the maker of the Jet Ski. Many people use the brand name to refer to any product in the category. Kawasaki benefits from this.
A key point to keep in mind here is that the category is named after a branded product. This reality does not apply to service businesses like plumbing, roofing, painting, and moving companies. These are categories with a large number of small competitors. The category name already exists and has been in use by consumers for many years. If you now name your company after the category you basically have no name. I maintain that you are actually behind the competitors with better names. People could be talking about your business and the person they are talking to doesn’t know of your business and think their friend is actually talking about everybody (the category) and not you.
This caution against naming your business in this way is actually more important today than ever before. People no longer look for services in a yellow directory they search online. If people search your business name they end up with a category search with everyone in the category ranked perhaps higher than you. Another concern is when a person sees search results with just the category name there might be a reluctance to click because they feel it will just take them to one of the listing sites. Resist the urge to name your business after the category. Using your personal name is better, and in future I will have another post on other ideas with respect to business names.
The Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle, WA is famous for WOWing people. This is the fish market that is famous for throwing fish. It’s a little bit of theatre and a must do on most Seattle visitors’ itineraries. This is a company worth emulating and it is easy to learn from John Yokoyama’s great company. He and long time business coach Jim Bergquist have created a business training division. There is a training video and a book both called simply “Fish.” The two men also speak to businesses large and small and at industry conferences.
There are four simple lessons: 1. Play, have fun in your job, it makes a difference for you and for those around you. 2. Be There, be present, be engaged. 3. Choose Your Attitude, you choose what your mood will be, it’s no one’s responsibility but yours. 4. Make Their Day, staff at the fish market entertain and engage the customers. They take them behind the counter and have them try to catch a fish. It’s an experience, and many a visitor walks away having had a fishmonger make their day.
Google, Pike Place Fish Market images. People catching flying fish, kissing fish, and smiling. Do you have those kinds of smiles in your business? What can you do this week that will make a difference?
A century ago, in small towns around North America, everyone in a community knew everyone else. You also knew all of the merchants and they knew you. Merchants were responsive to the needs and wants of their community. Customers could offer feedback and merchants listened.
Fast forward to today and in many ways we find ourselves in a very similar environment. With the Internet it is much easier to know about a business and if they make a mistake the community finds out about it, not just within a 50 kilometer radius but globally.
This is a story that has been unfolding in the last couple of weeks, it’s over the top, and it’s a textbook case in what not to do. First some background. The fiasco all started when a customer, Dave, that had ordered two game controllers from a company called Avenger Controls sent an email to find out the status of his order. Avenger Controller is a very small company and had contracted out their PR and social media to Ocean Marketing a company owned by Paul Christoforo.
Chistoforo’s handling of the customer relationship is shocking. He’s arrogant, abusive and drops names of people he doesn’t know. The online community has become involved and turned on Christoforo. I’ve read a number of accounts and feel the best coverage is on Games Beat by writer Sebastian Haley. The article is titled: “Ocean Marketing: How to self-destruct your company with just a few measly emails [update]” There is an update link to the press release from Avenger and of course the Games Beat readers weighing in on the topic.