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Newsletter #1048: The “Lessons from Drybar” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.]

We were inspired by this conversation between Inc. writer Liz Welch and Alli Webb, founder of Drybar, a mobile salon that only offers wash and blow-dry services. She told Liz that while a lot of competitors are starting to copy her model, staying true to the business has helped Drybar stay ahead.

Here are three lessons to learn from their persistence:

1. Do less, better
2. Think about every detail of the customer experience
3. Train employees to get real feedback
4. Check it out: Gravity points

1. Do less, better

Drybar does one thing: wash and blow-dry services. And it’s inspired a lot of competition to do the same, and it’s put the pressure on them to offer other things to stay ahead. But instead of adding on more beauty services, Drybar just doubles down on doing what they do really well: washing and blowdrying hair in a luxury environment. They chose to stick to their niche instead of becoming just another salon.

The lesson: Doing one thing really well is what makes the idea work. What makes it fail is letting more creep in.

2. Think about every detail of the customer experience

Drybar works hard to make a great environment for their customers. Their salons are made to look like a chic bar, they put iPhone chargers at each station, and fresh flowers are everywhere. In fact, they could fit about ten more chairs in their typical-sized salon, but instead, they choose to leave extra space around their limited stations.

The lesson: Take the money and resources you would spend on expanding your services and invest it in making your existing product the best it can be.

3. Train employees to get real feedback

Alli tells Inc. one of the worst things that can happen is for a client to leave unhappy. So their cashiers ask every customer about their experience. But they don’t stop there. Drybar also trains employees to read customers’ body language and facial expressions to pick up on upset customers who aren’t sharing their disappointment.

The lesson: Not everyone will tell you when they’re unhappy. And while most places don’t even want to know, how much better could you make your business if every unsatisfied customer was heard?

4. Check it out: Gravity points

Click anywhere to add a gravity point and watch as the dots interact and with one another. Open the controls to change the interference and number of particles on the page.

Check it out: Gravity points

It could have been so great

We were staying in a beautiful seaside resort. It was nice.

But it fell just short of great. We probably won’t be back.

It would have been so easy to be impressive — fix the toilet paper holder and loose doorknob, a little WD-40, a few towel hooks. 

The difference between OK and GREAT is caring for the details. Not strategic wizardry, not tech innovation — lots of companies do things similar to the best companies.

But the ones who care most about the tiniest customer-facing details win every time.

Doebay

It’s not the critic who counts

Fascinating how many Deadheads found a reason to criticize the Grateful Dead’s farewell concert tour (example).

Folks, it’s a concert by a band that played more than 2,500 concerts over the years. And this time you can watch a live stream for 20 bucks. About as uncontroversial as you can get.

But here’s the real lesson: No matter how good you do, someone will find a reason to complain about it. Sometimes those people look and sound like fans, but they’re not.

Ignore the noisy critics — they are a distraction and a trap.

The secret to success: Dedicate your energy to finding your happy-but-quiet fans, and find out how you can make them happier. 

Newsletter #1047: The “Lessons from Pets” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.]

People have a lot of passion for the animals they consider family members. And that’s why whether you’re running a dog grooming business or your stuff has nothing to do with animals, you can still learn a lot from pets.

Here’s how three businesses have done it:

1. Embrace your quirks
2. Low tech is just fine
3. Make it more fun
4. Check it out: Color vision game

1. Embrace your quirks

Famous battle ground and Texas landmark, the Alamo, is a pretty solemn place. But that doesn’t mean the Alamo’s staff can’t have any fun. In fact, The Texas General Land Office recently announced the official cat of the Alamo: a calico named Miss Isabella Francisca Veramendi de Valero. She’s preceded by other Alamo cats that have roamed the grounds, greeted visitors, and hunted for rodents throughout the years.

The lesson: It’s one thing to have a cat that hangs out where you work, its another to have that cat named “The Official Cat” of where you work. By making a big deal of a small internal joke, the Alamo’s staff made the news and showed an approachable, fun side of the well known attraction.

Learn more: San Antonio Express-News

2. Low tech is just fine

You don’t need a lot to get started with making your customers feel special. Ruffners, a pet boarding and dog daycare facility near Chicago, does it with a simple whiteboard. Each month, they tape a photo of a boarding dog of the month and a daycare dog of the month and write a short description of why they love them on the whiteboard. It’s easy, affordable, and gives their customers something to brag about. To amplify it even more, they tweet a photo of the board from their Twitter handle.

The lesson: Don’t overthink it. Sharing your love for your customers can be this easy.

Learn more: Twitter

3. Make it more fun

A lot of Major League Baseball teams have caught on that dog owners love taking their pets wherever they can. So teams like the Royals, Mets, Rangers, and White Sox have opened up their stadiums for “Dog Days” where fans can bring their pets along to the game. This makes watching the game a completely different experience — one that more audiences are willing to leave behind their big screens for. Plus, since everyone loves taking pictures of their dogs (even players), it also creates a ton of cute photo opportunities.

The lesson: How are you making your customers’ experiences unique, fun, and photo-worthy? Sometimes it can be as simple as letting them bring their dog.

Learn more: Go Pet Friendly

4. Check it out: Color vision game

How well can you spot different colors? As well as a bat? A tiger? A hawk? Take this color vision test to see what animal’s eyesight your’s align with.

Check it out: iGame

Newsletter #1046: The “Hitting Close to Home” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.]

How well do you know your customers? Do you know what they cook in their kitchens? If they run a small business out of their homes? Do you know if they’re lonely? These three companies made it their business to get inside the homes of their customers, understand them more deeply, and find a way to help.

Here’s how they did it:

1. Help them advertise their business
2. Connect them with other people
3. Recreate their experience
4. Check it out: Winning Solitaire

1. Help them advertise their business

In rural Costa Rica, telecommunications company Claro is helping families generate income by painting signs onto satellite dishes for the products sold out of that customer’s home. Turns out that a lot of rural Costa Rican housewives do some kind of business out of their homes, and many of them also have satellite TV. So in place of Claro’s logo, they painted satellite dishes to advertise salons, tamales, ice cream, sewing services, and other businesses. That way, their customers’ products and services are more visible to neighbors and other people passing by.

The lesson: Who’s going to notice a company logo on a satellite dish? By giving up their ad space to their customers, Claro made a much more remarkable story.

Learn more: Springwise

2. Connect them with other people

Vodafone in Romania partnered with two widowed grandmothers to create a cooking show in which they invite hungry nearby students to their homes for lunch each Sunday on Facebook. They called the campaign “Sunday Grannies,” and it took off, earning the two grandmothers fame as cooking show stars. Even better, after Vodafone opened up the experiment to other seniors looking for some company, it tripled the adoption of social media for Romanians over 65, according to McCann.

The lesson: Vodafone saw the needs of two completely different customer demographics and found a way to help them help each other. That’s two audiences with built in networks of friends, peers, and colleagues to help spread the word even further.

Learn more: Creativity

3. Recreate their experience

Kraft recognizes that their customers aren’t working with fully stocked gourmet kitchens to get dinner on the table for their families — so their food testers aren’t either. Each of Kraft’s test kitchens have the stuff you’d find in the average family kitchen. To try out new recipes and products, their kitchens aren’t tricked out with the newest appliances or tools. Instead, they use small gas or electric stoves, microwaves at varying wattages, and household mixing bowls and utensils.

The lesson: It’s not always about surveys and focus groups. Even the biggest corporations look for unique ways to put themselves in their customers’ shoes.

Learn more: Ad Age

4. Check it out: Winning Solitaire

Everyone knows the best part of playing Solitaire is the graphic that plays when you win. Well, artist Mr. Doob created this Javascript effect to help us get to the good part.

Check it out: Winning Solitaire

Newsletter #1045: The “Human to Human” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.] Let’s take a break from automated responses, digital customer service, and self-checkouts for a second. Let’s focus on some of the […]

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The most important July 4 video …

(Yes, I post this every year. You can’t enough of Rhett & Link.)

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Newsletter #1044: The “Lessons from Borrowing” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.] Borrowing creates an interesting relationship between a consumer and a business. Unlike a sample, it gives you a better opportunity to […]

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Newsletter #1043: The “(Not Really) NSFW” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.] Readers have told me before that they’d love to share my posts and newsletters if the word “damn” wasn’t in my […]

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