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Newsletter #873: The “Stop the Insanity” 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.]

Here’s to the companies who fix what’s broken, remove the headaches, and do their part to end the insanity that is bad marketing, awful customer service, and lousy products. A few examples of how smart marketers are doing it:

1. For the holidays
2. For paperwork
3. For bread
4. Check it out: Internet memes as movie posters

1. For the holidays

Every year it seems the tinsel, lights, and ornaments come out a little earlier in the Christmas season. We’re not imagining it — the retail industry even uses the term “Christmas creep” to describe it. That’s why Nordstrom’s long-standing policy of holding back the decorations and marketing until after Thanksgiving is so refreshing. And this policy has helped them make a powerful connection with their fans. It’s even gone viral online, with signs like: “At Nordstrom, we won’t be decking our halls until Friday, November 27. Why? Well, we just like the idea of celebrating one holiday at a time. From our family to yours, happy Thanksgiving.”

The lesson: Don’t miss the chance to be human, be remarkable, and be buzzworthy by taking a stand against something all your competitors are doing.

Learn more: BuzzFeed

2. For paperwork

Here’s something nobody has said after doing business with someone: “Hey, that was nice, but I was hoping for more paperwork.” If you’re making it hard for customers to do business with you, you’re losing money. But Avis is on to something. When a company rents a car from them, they let co-workers share it without any extra paperwork, signatures, or fees. The whole policy just makes a lot of sense. Everyone wins. The car is still insured and covered, the co-workers can share it at their convenience, and there is less work for both Avis and their customers.

The lesson: Nobody likes paperwork. Not you, not your customers, nobody. How many pointless forms, files, and documents can you kill today?

3. For bread

Fans love to share their ideas on how companies could improve their stuff. But few companies listen, and some (usually for legal reasons) actually refuse ideas and warn people not to submit them. This means slower product innovation, more frustrated customers, and, ultimately, lost sales. But at least one grocery chain in Britain is paying attention. After a 3-year-old submitted a note saying their Tiger Bread should be called Giraffe Bread (and their great response going all over the internet), Sainsbury’s has officially made the name change — and all the delighted fans following the story for the past year are telling everyone about it.

The lesson: Hey, so maybe we could have all lived with Tiger Bread. But it sure is silly that more companies don’t use customer feedback like this.

Learn more: AdWeek

4. Check it out: Internet memes as movie posters

Wouldn’t it be cool if you had a preview of the next online meme? Well, if it was in the form of a minimalist movie poster, it’d probably look like these.

Check it out: Meme Movie Posters

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