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Newsletter #779: The “Get Ahead of the Game” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I 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.]

Great companies seize opportunities to be nimble and stay ahead of the game and their competition. A few examples of things smart marketers are staying ahead of:

1> Legislation
2> Controversy
3> Lawyers
4> Check it out: Wired Reread

1> Legislation

You can fight and whine about impending legislation, or you can get ahead of everyone else by being an early mover. Panera realizes that as more and more cities are demanding restaurants post health information, state and federal regulations are likely to follow. Instead of waiting and fighting, they’re getting a ton of press and positive buzz for being the first national fast-casual restaurant chain to make the move.

The lesson: Adopting customer-friendly policies even when you’re not required to can make you a hero in the eyes of your customers.

Learn more: Chicago Sun-Times

2> Controversy

Don’t let a controversial issue distract your organization or your employees. Sometimes it’s best to get ahead of unnecessary drama by talking about it, by apologizing and moving on, or by using a little humor to laugh it off. After Vice President Joe Biden was overhead cursing while introducing the President at the health care bill’s signing, the press and blogosphere made an issue of it. But rather than release some hollow apology, the White House turned the gaffe into a T-shirt. For $25, supporters of the bill can buy their own “Health Reform is a BFD” shirt (but due to high demand, they’re asking everyone to allow 6-8 weeks for delivery).

The lesson: Stay ahead of controversy by killing it with a little humor.

Learn more: BarackObama.com

3> Lawyers

It’s never a good thing when your policies are getting the lawyers involved. Theft is a big problem with retailers, but figuring out how to check a customer’s merchandise against their receipts before they leave the store is a sensitive issue — often involving laws that vary by state. Retailer Guitar Center uses a simple solution: They hand out receipts as they exit the store. It allows staffers to confirm purchases without making customers feel like criminals and without involving lawyers and legal policies.

The lesson: Adding more policies is rarely the answer. Instead, look for simple solutions to stay ahead of the lawyers and legal issues.

Learn more: Consumerist

4> Check it out: Wired Reread

Billed as “a trip down 128 MB memory lane,” Wired Reread is a fantastic — and often hilarious — look at the iconic magazine that’s covered the technology industry for the last 15 years.

Check it out: Wired Reread

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