Uniforms and Rules

I listened to a great interview this morning with Seth Godin on Episode 45 of the Catalyst Podcast. This episode was release on March 10, 2008, so it has taken me a little while to get to it. You may have already heard it.

For a large part of the interview, Godin speaks about concepts from his two latest books The Dip and Meatball Sundae, and applies those concepts to the way that modern church or religious organizations try to market themselves.

I thought the most important thing Godin said in the interview was in his response to host Ken Coleman’s following question:

What are your observations about the shortcomings, challenges or problems that the religious community as a whole faces?

I think that there is a really big difference between faith and religion.  And I think faith is the most important thing human beings have, and I think faith is beyond reproach, and faith should never be criticized.

I think that religion is a tool human beings use to amplify faith. And I think sometimes it’s easy to fall in love with the process and the rules and the modularities of “this is the techniques of my religion,” and suddenly we stop talking about faith.

It happens in every organization, not just religious organizations. The fact is, if you show up at McDonald’s without your uniform on, and it doesn’t matter that you have a great attitude or really support the mission of the company, you didn’t wear your uniform. You are in trouble.

Uniforms are sometimes overrated. I think that it’s important to remind ourselves everyday about why we set out to do this. I don’t think we are living in 1492 where defending the rules is as important as amplyfying the faith.

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Good Thoughts on Pricing

I just finished a marketing management MBA course last week.  Before taking the course, I really had no clue about the importance of marketing to the life of a firm.  I could not decipher between marketing and advertising.

This weekend I read a post by Paul Williams on the Marketing Profs Daily Fix Blog called “Discounting Prices Discounts Your Brand.”

Williams makes a lot of the same points that my marketing professor hammered in our brains this past semester.  He argues that a company should never resort to discounting its prices to drive up sales.  By doing this you are “eroding your long-term margins and your long-term sales.”  While the company may see this discount as a short-term tool to drive up sales, it has effectively change the “perceived value” that the customer has regarding the company’s brand.

Williams’ recommendation

  1. If customers are complaining about your prices, make sure you aren’t charging too much for your product.
  2. Instead of giving away money through discounts, “strategically provide add-on services or products.”  You won’t erode the base price of your product, and you may offer your customers items of value they have never tried before.

Williams ends the post with the following paragraph:

Once you start offering discounts, the only way to get that rush the next time, is to discount more. If this cycle continues, your margin is gone, your prices are bargain basement, and your brand has reduced value.