John Caddell

A Wide-ranging (and Free) E-book on Narrative

Kathy Hansen of the A Storied Career blog has been conducting interviews of storytelling figures large and small for nearly two years now, and has collected these into an e-book, available via this link.

I’ve been following the interview series with interest and, as mentioned in the title of this post, it’s a very wide-ranging look at storytelling and its uses. As such, there’s some of it that doesn’t speak to me very much. On the other hand, there are parts that I find extremely valuable. Like this…

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Customers Are Talking: Why Do Companies Continue to Do Such Dumb Stuff?

Two blog posts struck a chord with me this week. First, Bob Sutton posted on Wal-Mart’s decision to stock Girl-Scout-cookie knockoffs (the delightfully-named “Thin Mint-y Gate“). Then David Pogue provided an update on “Take Back the Beep,” his campaign to get wireless companies to stop playing lengthy introductory messages to callers trying to leave voice mail.

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To Motivate Front-line Employees: Don't Just Thank Them, Use Their Insights

Sylvia Ann Hewlett blogged at Harvard Business Review that leaders need to inspire lower-level employees. She writes:


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Be Aware of Using Weird Business Metaphors

The word “tsunami” was used a lot in the past to describe a trend or momentum in a market.

Then a real tsunami hit in December 2004. Hundreds of thousands died and more than 1 million people lost their homes. Suddenly we didn’t throw that term around as much anymore (well, except for some people: “[Jim] Cramer…called the latest baseball tech breakthrough a ‘tsunami’ and the ’single best example of the Mobile Internet.’”)

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Customers Are Talking: Retailer Zara Relies on Ground-level 'Specific Knowledge' to Forecast Sales

Andrew McAfee’s blog is a great place to learn about how businesses can gain competitive advantage by their use of IT. But yesterday he took a left turn and discussed business situations where data crunching is not helpful to decisionmaking, and I loved it.

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The Invaluable Stories inside Customer-service Calls

Much of the story work I’m familiar with involves asking people to tell stories about their experiences on a particular topic. I do some of this myself. But I’ve also done work with a completely different class of story. This story is created out of the spontaneous meeting of two people - a customer and a customer-service rep - over the telephone.

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Customers Are Talking: The Hot Line

Have you ever filled in a survey card in a hotel room? I haven’t either. But more times than I could count I have wanted to let a hotel know about something I liked about my stay or wasn’t happy about.

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Follow ups - Netflix & 'Harry Potter Marketing'

Both the above topics, subjects of recent posts, were discussed today in separate articles in the Wall Street Journal.

This article recounts the history of Netflix’s move into on-demand video, with a nice behind-the-scenes view into the thinking of CEO Reed Hastings, and the senior team’s discussions as they pondered trying to make their old business model, delivering DVDs by mail, obsolete. (Here’s our earlier post on the subject.)

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Prepaid Ain't Nothing but a Payment Method

In the US wireless marketplace, carriers covet postpaid customers above all, as do their investors. Carriers have focused their businesses on a subscription model comprising subsidized handsets, locked phones and multi-year contracts. They use this approach to limit churn, keep ARPU high, and… well, because they’ve always done it.

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Selling Today: Casting a Wide Net and 'Going for the No'

by: John Caddell

Market segmentation is a very attractive concept. Analyzing a group of customers, comparing it to the capabilities of your product set, and deciding who are the highest-probability targets. Salespeople then focus their efforts on this narrower set of prospects. Sales then follow.

At its worst, though, segmentation allows you to fall in love with a small pipeline. After all, if the prospects are in the target segments, they should be easier to close than an undifferentiated mass.

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