What’s in a Word?

I’ve been thinking about this post for a while, trying to come up with some insightful reason as to why the words “homemade, hand-made, and hand-crafted” aren’t interchangeable. I haven’t come up with a reason why, so I’ll just ponder and maybe one of you can give me some insight.

It appears that you can use the words “hand-made” and “hand-crafted” for artistic-type items, like furniture, cards, scarves, etc. These items tend to sell at a premium because they are not mass-produced. It’s interesting, because one would tend to assume that humans make more mistakes than machines, and thus, these items should have more flaws.

“Homemade” seems to be the word of choice for baked goods like pies and cakes. These items also sell at a premium, and come with premium respect when brought to a party.

So why can’t scarves be “homemade” and pies be “hand-made”? Why are “homemade” gifts less desireable than “hand-crafted” or “hand-made” gifts, but “homemade” pies and cookies are impressive? The words have the exact same meaning, but seem to significantly affect the value of the items they describe. Any thoughts on these synonyms?

The P & G Vancouver 2010 Commercial

I caught some of the winter Olympics this year, with amazing athletes, a luge tragedy, and one commercial that really struck me. I love the Proctor and Gamble “To Their Moms, They’ll Always Be Kids” commercial! 

I think this commercial completely holds true to their brand identity. They’ve positioned themselves as a company that is present in your everyday life, with products that you’ll use for a lifetime. Remember when I talked about making your product a habit, and ensuring that it is passed through the generations? Proctor and Gamble achieves and exemplefies this thought in the commercial. When they cut to the Mom’s face and then flash several of their well-known brands, they remind us that Olympians or not, everyone needs and uses P & G products.

In addition to being spot-on in the brand identity department, this commercial does “emotional” the right way. Even my parents say that no matter how old I am, I’ll always be their little girl.  This commercial continues the sentiment that no matter how high you fly as an athlete, you’ll always be your parents’ baby. And, for this reason, parents always want to give their kids the best. How do they do it? By giving them P & G products! This commercial tells you that P & G wants to help you help your kids be their best, and what better way than to feature Olympians? On another “emotional” note, who can’t appreciate a bunch of cute, aspiring kids? 🙂

Finally, I love the subtlety in this commercial. They don’t mention a specific product or brand until the last 5-10 seconds of the commercial. I don’t feel “sold” or “advertised” to, and I don’t have the desire to change the channel, because I’m interested in finding out who made this wonderful commercial. Just like their products, they don’t have to be invasive and in-your-face trying to get you to buy. After they connect with you by showing a proud and loyal moment, they gently remind you that this connection includes many different products from P & G, and that just as their Moms were there, P & G will be there.

I’m not generally one to enjoy commercials, but I applaud this one from Proctor and Gamble. I think they made a brilliant use of their time and sponsorship of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. Congrats to the athletes too 🙂

REALLY Making the Customer Feel Valued

While working in a retail store, I was responsible for taking the deposit to our bank. I generally worked regular hours, so I took the deposit Monday-Friday, usually around the same time, to the exact same location. It never ceased to amaze me, but when I walked in, some “greeter” would ask if I had a cash transaction, and informed me that someone would be with me in just one moment. Now, I realize that they were trying to make me feel welcome and valued, etc. etc., but let’s look at a few reasons why I saw through their “sincere” welcome.

They followed a script. Almost to the letter, every greeter said the exact same thing! I came into the bank every single day of the week, so if you REALLY want to make me feel valued, quit giving me the spiel. The person who made me feel the most valued and welcomed was the teller who called me by name, asked about my weekend, and didn’t talk from a classroom assignment.

They didn’t recognize me. Clearly, if I’m in the bank every day, I know the routine. Why don’t they know the routine? I don’t need to be directed where to go, told that my wait time will be “just one moment” every 5 seconds, and asked if there’s any other services that I need. If you REALLY value me, you’ll know me, and treat me like we’re old hands at this whole make-a-deposit game. Again, the teller who made me feel most valued never had to ask about how to handle the transaction, she just remembered what she did the day before.

They were over-compensating. Apparently, the perceived wait time in banks is a huge problem, so they attempt to mitigate this problem by giving you an update about the wait time every few seconds. I understand what they’re trying to do, but I can clearly see how long the line is, how fast the tellers are moving, and when the next teller is available. You can be sincere about giving an update, but don’t over-compensate to the point that it is annoying.

Do we see a trend here? The person at the bank that I feel values me the most is the person who remembers me, and treats me like she knows me. She gets me in and out in a timely manner, and mitigates my perceptions by ACTUALLY doing her job effectively. If you really want to making the customer feel valued, REALLY value them! You can’t fake it, and you shouldn’t have to. Customers make you or break you, so find ways to make your interactions sincere.