Monthly Archives: December 2010

Patience, Young Jedi. Force Leads to Resistance.

Also crossposted at

As we jump into the the fury of the Holidays, I’ve been asked about New Year’s Resolutions.  I don’t have any.  If I want to make changes, I’ll make them now.  There’s no reason for me to wait symbolism of something new.  Over the course of 2010, I’ve become much more independent in my career leaving a very unhappy situation and starting my own firm.  Since I started taking on clients, I’ve learned to say “No.”  And for anyone who knows me, saying “No” is probably more painful than smashing a batch of perfect macarons (the horror!).  I’ll be trying to say, “No” more often in 2011.

This blog post isn’t really a resolution for me, but rather a two part lesson that I’d like to share.  Patience, Young Jedi: force may lead to resistance.

I can be very impatient, especially when I am hungry.  That, I openly disclose.  However, outside of hunger, I try to practice patience.  My 2011 challenge to businesses is to practice more patience with social media.  My approach to social media is that it is simply relationships that communicate online.  Many businesses that I’ve encountered are impatient with social media.  They want results, and they want them now.  On the first day of launching a Twitter campaign, someone asked me “Why isn’t anyone retweeting me?” “How come I didn’t make more sales?”  Patience.

Businesses aren’t the only ones who are perpetrators of this attitude.  On occasion, I’ll have new bloggers or tweeters contact me with questions. “How do I get to 1000 followers?”  “How do I get people to read my blog posts?”  “How do you get people to talk to you on Twitter?”

The problem I have with that attitude is that it is impatient with the relationships.  Relationships take time and effort.  People aren’t machines where if put in X number of tweets, you’ll make a friend.  People experience emotions, people can be cautious with others, people don’t always (or shouldn’t always) disclose everything online, and people need time to develop trust.  When you meet someone in a romantic context, you will rarely fully mutually disclose your deepest and darkest secrets on the first date.  You also wouldn’t likely get married to that person in the first few weeks of dating.  My quick poll of my Twitter followers showed that most married couples dated for 3.36 years before tying the knot (n=14, max = 8 years).

So why is it that our culture finds it commonplace to date and to be engaged for long periods of time before marriage, but our businesses get so pushy and antsy in other types of relationships?  Why do businesses get worried if I don’t I retweet their promotions after only a few tweet exchanges?  Why do businesses think I should be loyal to them just because I mentioned them in a Facebook post?

I don’t have be pushed into a relationship.  As a consumer, I should be able to decide which brands I want to have a relationships with and which ones I don’t.  So if you’re using Twitter for a business, have a little patience.  Nurture the relationship.  Quit worrying about your numbers on the first day you roll out with your social media campaign.  Instead, evaluate them every 60 to 90 days.

For the second part of this lesson, we’ll discuss force and resistance.  It seems like some of the best lessons in life come from dog training.  If you didn’t catch it before, I train, handle, and judge dogs in various activities.  I call my type of training “motivational training.”  My trainers are Debby Quigley and Judy Ramsey at Dogwood Training in Houston, TX.  With this type of training, we teach motivation first.  Everything that I ask my dog to do, I first train my dog to be motivated to do it.  If my dog is NOT motivated to do it, then as a handler, I’m doing something wrong.  While there are methods to force a dog to engage in a certain behaviors, motivational training gets more enthusiastic and reliable performances.  And the dogs also enjoy it.

You can watch dogs in the obedience ring and see which ones were trained with force and which ones were trained with enthusiasm.  Force leads to resistance.  Sometimes trainers use it to their advantage.  The next time you see a televised dog show, watch the handler closely as the cameras zoom in.  You might notice that the handler will pull back on the dog’s leash ever so slightly when the judge approaches.  The goal of this is not to get the dog to step back by pulling back, rather this slight pull (force) leads to the dog leaning forward (resistance).  When the dog leans forward in a stacked stance, the dog’s muscles flex and look better toned.  Try it next time you take your dog for a walk.  For a large majority of dogs, the more you pull back, the more your dog will pull forward.  I won’t get much into it, but I don’t recommend that as a way of controlling your dog.  I’d recommend that you motivate your dog to stay with you, as opposed to investigating something else much more interesting than you.

The next time you think about your social media campaign, ask yourself why anyone would be motivated to follow you, tweet you, or show up to your events.  If you can’t think of a good reason why, it is probably time to revamp your game plan.  If people follow you only because you give away free prizes, you might want to also revamp your game plan.  Giving stuff away free isn’t building a relationship.  That’s just bribing them into following you.  With tactics like that, you’ll gather more variable and less loyal followers.  Getting followers through bribes isn’t much of a community.  Please note: That tactic is very different from playing online or social games within your community that involves a free prize.  These are two very different concepts.  Motivate them to want to build a relationship with you.

Happy New Year, and Patience, Young Jedi.  Force leads to resistance.

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Where’s your face? Walnut Cafe cultivates a community.

Crossposted at

Saturday morning, @hopsafari/@windaddict and I took a little stroll down to Walnut Cafe.  He read on Yelp that they had a blueberry cornbead, and that was enough to get us moving.  Needless to say, there were many other interesting aspects of Walnut Cafe.  One of the first things that I noticed were all the photos of faces.  There were faces everywhere.

On the walls, on the menus, on their car out back were photos of customers. All of their materials were printed with photos of their customers.  I absolutely love, love, love this community building strategy.  There’s no website for people to sign up and to post there comments.  This was a community of loyal customers.

Check out all those smiling faces.  I happened to meet the owners of Walnut Cafe.  They have a photo day in which customers can come in to get their photo taken.  You joined the community “board” by showing up and getting your photo taken.  The photos are later used on the menu and other advertising.  Apparently, customers really want to be on the menu, and they are annoyed when their photo doesn’t make it.  That is a pretty awesome situation for a restaurant.  When you have people who want to be the face of your brand, you’re doing a pretty damn good job.

Oh, and @hopsafari had a Walnut Latte.  Yum.

The quiche was pretty fantastic.  Tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, green peppers, and cheese melted together into a hearty and tasty breakfast.  The breakfast potatoes were wonderfully seasoned and spicy.

@Hopsafari had the eggs marcos (eggs, bacon, cheddar cheese, and cream cheese) with breakfast potatoes and blueberry cornbread.  I loved the eggs marcos.  It reminded me of putting cream cheese on eggs when I was in undergrad.  The cornbread was also wonderfully tasty.  It was solid in structure, simple in flavor, and comforting.

Really appreciating your customer.  This one comes to Walnut Cafe every single day.  He gets to be the face of their restaurant.

Another shot of the customer heavy menu.  I want to be on the menu.

Not only are the customers on the menus, they are the vehicles.  I’m starting to feel that this restaurant isn’t for the food (however, tasty), but really for the community.

And the pies are award winning.  I love this concept.

More happy customers on the car.

In addition to the two Walnut Cafe locations, they also have a brand new food truck.

Here I am, in the Walnut Cafe truck.

In addition to having an awesome customer community, the food truck community in Boulder is unique.  All the food trucks have a name and identity separate from the food.  Walnut Creek truck’s name is Dinah.  The StrEat’s truck name is Tina.  Hear that, Austin?  Name your food trucks.  They need to have an identity, and their own community.  I love to anthorphomize objects, and giving a food truck a name and identity is perfect.

Another shot of the brand spanking new truck.

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Word of Mouth Sans Technology: Village Virgins

Also crossposted at

If the brunch spots @HopSafari (also @windaddict) and I visited are any indication of the food community in Boulder, this place is hopping.  Village Coffee was an awesome experience for us, but more than that, the word of mouth strategy was new, fun, and refreshing.  I checked into Village Coffee on Gowalla, and I saw a little tag that said to make sure to tell the staff that it is our first visit.  So I did.  First time Village Coffee visitors are called Village Virgins.  The restaurant calls out the Virgins, literally.  The staff yells “EXCUSE ME, EVERYONE! WE HAVE A VILLAGE VIRGIN!”  Everyone in the restaurant cheers, and then resumes their meal.  The virgins aren’t scoffed at or picked on.  They are applauded with a warm welcome.  What a better way to welcome newbies?

Whoever brought the Village Virgins gets a stamp on their Village V-card.  Bring in three virgins and you get a free half order of French toast.  After six virgins, you get a free pancake.  After eight virgins, you get any free breakfast.  After ten virgins, you get a free shirt.  This is a genius plan.  This isn’t just rewarding customers who visit frequently, but it rewards customers who bring in new customers.  This is word of mouth, offline, and I absolutely love it.  I’ll also note that there is a sign up at Village Coffee with a sign saying that they had a Facebook.  The sign also says that they are crawling into the 21st century.  That just goes to show that you don’t need a fancy social media strategy to use word of mouth.

I love the unpretentiousness and simple, down to Earth atmosphere.

One of the staff at Village Coffee snaps a photo for us.

The chicken fried steak, eggs, and hash browns.

The egg burrito with green chile pork stew.  Delicious!

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