Posts Tagged ‘John Murphy’

Marketing Legend

November 13, 2013

Last week the Puget Sound Chapter of the American Marketing Association paid me the honor of naming me “Marketing Legend”.  From the podium I said what I’d like to repeat here to a much wider audience.


I felt awkward receiving such an award for a couple of reasons.  The first is that I was just an entrepreneur doing what I needed to do to build and grow a successful business.  Never did I expect to one day be known as a “Legend”.

The second reason is the most important.  I didn’t come to earn this recognition alone.  A number of very talented, creative people deserve to have their names on the trophy.  In fact, the trophy couldn’t be big enough to hold all the names.

While I did not attempt to name them all that evening and I know this list will be woefully incomplete there are a few creative geniuses that deserve a public shout out.


Jim Bright (left) Sunny Kobe Cook (center) John Murphy (right)

The first is my longtime friend, Jim Bright who was responsible for our iconic tag line” Why buy a mattress anywhere else?”.

Next is undoubtedly Dan Voetmann of Destination Marketing.  He helped steered my business to “Legend” status.  He also accurately noted that together we set a new standard for my industry as evidenced by the imitations that can be found in countless other markets in North America.

There were production geniuses too.  People like Michael Kostov, Glenn Lorbecki of Glenn Sound, Dave Raynor and dozens of others.

Our representatives from the various media outlets such as Kerin Brasch , Catherine McConnell and Phil Mark all helped spread the message and make my name well known in our market.


I want to publicly thank everyone who helped create “the legend”.  The true honor is not in the award, but in the privilege of working with each of you.

Little Phrases – Big Payoffs

December 19, 2012

Mc Donald's Fries“Would you like fries with that?”  This phrase, now often parodied, made a ton of additional revenue for McDonald’s.  It allowed them to add on to a sale by using the power of suggestion, a popular selling technique.  What was unique was not suggestive selling – it was who was doing the selling.  With the introduction of this “phrase that pays” to the cashiers at McDonald’s, these front line employees began to act like what they truly are – salespeople – rather than just order takers.

My husband, John Murphy is very creative and has worked ViewRoomas part of the selling process most of his business career.  When his youngest son was hired for the front desk of a major hotel chain, John shared a couple of “little phrases” to help up-sell rooms.  He suggested when a room is prepaid by a company to offer the person checking in an upgrade this way “I see your room is prepaid by your company, would you like to treat yourself to a higher floor or a water view for only X dollars more?”  The key phrase “treat yourself” is powerful and effective – his son leads the team in room upgrades.

Pampering, treats and luxury sell!  To encourage more loyalty program sign ups, John suggested to his son to use the phrase “Would you like to stay in luxury properties for free on your next vacation?” as part of the program description.  Again, very effective.

Lettuce WrapsLoyalty programs exist for many businesses and typically rely on front line employees to enlist new customers.  Arming your staff with “little phrases” can have big payoffs.  The secret, capturing the benefit in a few words.  Free meals, priority boarding, luxury properties, exclusive discounts, premium seating – all phrases to entice consumers.

Which would you respond better to?  “Do you want to sign up for our loyalty reward program?” or “Would you like to enjoy a free meal?”

At Sleep Country there was usually some sort of promotion going on in our stores.  Rather than greet customers with “May I help you?” our staff were trained to ask “Did you come in on our big sale today?”  People who hadn’t seen or heard an ad were pleasantly surprised and would ask “What’s on sale?”

Up-selling is an important contributor to a healthy bottom line.  Incremental increases of even one or two percent can make a big impact.

If you are responsible for a team of front line employees, craft a few “little phrases” of your own and teach them to your staff.  Don’t just tell them to offer upgrades, loyalty programs or “anything else” – give them the key phrases that will touch on pampering, treats and luxury – little phrases with BIG payoffs!

Marketing in Code

December 7, 2011

Did you have a top-secret decoder ring as a kid?  One of those pens that wrote in invisible ink?  Have a special handshake required to enter the neighborhood clubhouse?

QR codes are the 2011 version of secret messages and savvy businesses are using them in all sorts of clever ways to communicate with their customers.  You’ve likely seen them all sorts of places but may not have noticed…but you will after reading this!

Here is the QR code I generated to take you to my business page on Facebook.  Use the QR code reader on your smart phone and try it.

So why use a fancy QR code rather than just give you the web address of my Facebook business page?  Have you tried typing in a long address into your smart phone?  Did you end up with typos?  How many times did you scribble down a web address or info you meant to look up later and then never got around to it?

Generate your own with your contact information and print it on the back of your business cards or use it in a large printed format at trade shows.

QR stands for “Quick Response” and it allows you to communicate information to customers and potential customers quickly, easily and accurately!  Here’s the link I used to generate my QR code and yes, it’s FREE and super easy to use!

Other innovative ways I’ve recently seen them used:  A Korean subway platform has a wall mural of grocery items.  Commuters scan their “purchases” and they are delivered to their home.

My husband, John Murphy, just finished a Science Fiction novel , “Mission Veritas” to be published as an ebook.   On the back cover, as well as at the end of several chapters, there is a QR code.  The code takes the reader to “bonus content” not unlike the bonus material provided with most DVDs you purchase.

The codes and bonus content take this from just a SciFi novel to more of a game and engages the reader.

While in Best Buy last week, I was browsing the row of DVDs for sale.  There I noticed a few random DVDs with after-market stickers on the front with QR codes saying “Scan the code, Watch the Trailer”.

Yes, codes essentially are embedded web addresses so whatever is on the page it takes them to is what they see, a video, a photo, a coupon or special offer – whatever you can put on a webpage – you can use a QR code to allow customers to access.

Then I noticed something even MORE INTERESTING.  There were a LOT of movies I had never heard of and they were MORE MONEY than the blockbusters but they were the ones with the QR code stickers!  What better way to sell a movie?  I scanned the QR codes and watched trailers right there in the store aisle on my phone and yes, it encouraged me to actually buy a movie I had never heard of and would not have given a second glance to at any price without the intrigue of the QR code.

At lunch at BJ’s restaurant, I noticed the Heinz 57 ketchup bottle had a special label.  The front of the distinctive bottle says “Our turn to serve” and the back explains the program and offers a QR code.  Heinz has partnered with the USO to send digital cards to service members AND when you use the QR code (which takes you to their Facebook page) and “Like” them, they donate .57 to the Wounded Warrior Project.

Start looking more closely as you go about your daily life and you will no doubt begin to notice QR codes lots of places.  Get a QR code reader (free app) on your smart phone and start scanning.  See what other companies – large and small – are doing with these codes and then generate your own.

Sure, some of your customers won’t know what they are, others may not even notice, but to the tech savvy and younger customer, it’s the language of the future and you need to learn to speak the code!

Off Duty, Spot On Service

August 24, 2011

Friday night I was at the Pike Place Market Foundation annual Sunset Supper.  It was a wonderful evening, amazing food from 45 of Seattle’s best restaurants.  Add in wines from 30 of Washington’s boutique wineries,beer, specialty cocktails and the fact that the weather actually cooperated and you can imagine this was a great evening.

Regular readers of this blog already know I’m actually an addict…an iced-tea addict that is.  Awesome food, wine and other adult beverages only go so far with me – then I NEED an iced-tea.

Conveniently, the table I was seated at was a mere steps from the “original” Starbucks in Pike’s Market which was “closed” to normal business for the evening.

They were  participating in the Sunset Supper with “tall sized” hot or iced coffee drinks and had a sidewalk table set up to serve those beverages.

I, however, don’t drink coffee…I drink iced-tea.  I approached the smiling team member and explained my “need”.

Even though they did not have any tea already made (if you have ever gotten an iced-tea at Starbucks, you know what I mean) she did not send me away.  She did not tell me they were only set up to do coffee drinks.  Instead, Karrie Johnson told me they’d be happy to make me a hot tea and pour it over ice.  

  When she brought up the “venti sized” cup with a freshly brewed iced-tea complete with Sweet ‘n Low already added, I hugged her!  

Back at my table, all my friends commented on the refreshing cup of tea I was sipping.  Everyone was impressed – especially when I mentioned that it had been made “special”.

The photo of my hubby, John Murphy and I from the evening posted on Facebook clearly featured my iced-tea in the foreground.

Of course I had to have a 2nd one before the evening was done and my request was met the same “can do” attitude that is the hallmark of Starbucks.

Anyone can make a glass of iced-tea…what is it really?  Just brewed hot tea and ice.  Training a team to make a beverage is easy – creating a culture when they do not only serve, but actually befriend customers – is the recipe for success!

That is what the Starbucks team does consistently and as a result, the line at their stores is also consistent.

How do you get customers to routinely stand in line to do business with you?  Deliver an exceptional customer experience, not just a great product.  Make them feel special. People do business with people they like, do your customers like YOU????

Any Way You Slice It

August 17, 2011

I can’t walk by a window displaying beautiful and tempting dipped apples without stopping to drool – yet I have never actually purchased one!

My reasons have always been logical, too big and too hard to eat.   This week, while changing planes at Chicago O’Hare Airport, my path took me by the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.

What I saw there stopped me in my tracks, caused me to actually go in the store, snap some pictures on my phone AND inspired this blog post.  No, it wasn’t the delictable treats prominently displayed in the front windows…it was the SIGNAGE that addressed BOTH of the reasons I have never actually made a purchase.

There it was!  “We can slice it – You can share it”.  WOW!  So simple and yet so compelling. 

I went in to ask when they started offering the slicing service option.  The answer?  “We always have.”  Until the new signage, I never knew and as a result, I never considered a purchase.

I am changing planes again today in the Chicago airport on my way home.  I’ll be stopping into the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Company in the terminal to BUY an apple – coconut covered – and I’ll have it sliced.  I will use it as a snack on the plane and maybe there will even be a few slices to share with my hubby when he meets me when I land at SeaTac Airport  later this evening.

What are the obstacles to buying in YOUR business?  Do you have a simple solution you offer to customers who ask?  Is there a way to advertise the option, in signage, on your website, printed materials or other media?  By addressing the objections with compelling solutions, you will no doubt entice more customers.

Under promise, Over deliver

August 10, 2011

New sales people are often taught to “under promise and over deliver”.  In fact, that’s good advice for all of us in every aspect of your life and career.  During the current economic times, as customers are scrutinizing every dollar they spend to be sure they are getting value, it’s more important than ever to under promise and over deliver.

Two contrasting examples:  My husband, John Murphy and I recently spent our annual honeymoon (wedding anniversary trip) at the Hard Rock Hotel in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.  

Here is their exact website description of the accommodations:

” We’ve thrown everything you know about all-inclusive Caribbean rooms out the window at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana, and created a luxurious, unapologetic room experience to fit even the most discriminating tastes.

Spacious. Indulgent. Decadent. From the moment you enter, you’ll immediately notice rock star touches like private balconies, double Jacuzzi tubs, dual showers, plush bathrobes and slippers, and even your own liquor dispenser.

From the music playing when you arrive to the evening turn-down service before you call it a night, we’ve put major attention into every minor detail to ensure your Hard Rock vacation is worthy of a superstar.”

In fact, the room was nice.  The shower was huge and the bed was comfy.  However, luxury is really hard to do on a large scale and this is a HUGE resort.

There was no “music playing” when we arrived and in place of the “plush bathrobes” we found empty hangers with tags stating if we took the robes home, we would be charged $75 each.  No slippers either.  Even after reporting the missing robes to 2 people and pantomiming with the non-English speaking housekeeper, we still only managed to get 1 robe for the 2 of us.

No robes and slippers would not have mattered if they had not promised them on all their materials including their website.  

They also liberally use the words “luxurious” and “decadent” which creates a certain expectation.   Daily annoyances such as not getting any hand towels one day or no wash cloths another coupled with just average food and you get the idea.

We had a great time anyway, but largely because we had already adjusted our expectations before we arrived.  Reviews posted on and emails directly with some of the posters gave us more realistic expectations.

Contrast this with our stay this past weekend at Paradise Inn at Mount Rainier.  This is what their website says about the accommodations:

“The guestrooms, although small by today’s standards and without the modern amenities of televisions, telephones, and internet, invite our guests to imagine a time past when life was simple without the distractions of today’s modern world.”

Other printed materials clearly states,  “there is no cellphone service”, “the hall floors creak” and the “decor is dated” but they “strive to provide a clean, comfortable room” steps away from one of nature’s wonders.

Just try getting a room there on the weekend in the summer!  You can do great business being truthful!  In fact, everything they said about the rooms proved true.  The room was clean, comfortable and we had a private – though small – bath.  Because we knew what to expect – and NOT to expect – we brought our own hairdryer and DVD player and we had a GREAT time!

A large part of a customers satisfaction or dissatisfaction ties to how closely reality matches their expectations.  Are you promising something you don’t consistently deliver?  Are you setting unrealistic expectations in the minds of your customers?  If you can discipline yourself to “under promise” and “over deliver” you will WOW your customers every time!


Location, Location, Location

April 6, 2011

I love a bargain, especially on brand-name, quality merchandise.  As a result, I’m a frequent patron of discount chains such as Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Loehmann’s, DSW and more.

Before leaving on a recent trip, my hubby, John Murphy mentioned he needed something and I knew just where to get it.  I pulled into the shopping center at Southcenter where the Marshalls store was located and found….an EMPTY STORE!!!!

I drove around the center and the one across the street to be sure they hadn’t moved to a more visible spot nearby but did not find them.  Then I called directory assistance and was given the number for the store which is now vacant.  The number rang, rang and rang.

There was NO sign on the front of the store telling where they had moved or encouraging me to visit another location.  Same was true for the phone; no answer, no recording, no forwarding to the next nearest location.

Lamenting the situation to friends, they mentioned a NEW Marshalls had just opened at the Landing in Renton, less than 5 miles away from the now empty location.

Marshalls is owned by TJ Maxx and collectively, they have some 2,000 stores so I’m sure they have very good reasons for moving this location.

However, wouldn’t you expect to see a “We’ve Moved – Visit our New Location” sign on the front window for a period of time?  Even if the landlord didn’t allow it, certainly a recording on the phone number or having the call forwarded to the new location would have made sense.

If big. successful retailers can make such a basic error – so can any of us. I often find out of date information on websites.  Directions sometimes have to be modified to redirect customers around construction projects or to reflect changes in street names.

Take this opportunity to call your phones – all your phone numbers. Listen carefully to the outgoing message.  Is it accurate?  I once forgot to remove an extended absence greeting for nearly a week after my return!

Check your website too. If you have multiple locations, check each of them to insure the information you are giving customers is clear and accurate.

Customers can’t do business with us if they don’t know where to find us!

Are You Ready?

March 16, 2011

The recent tragedy in Japan should be a wake-up call to all of us who live in earthquake regions.  The Federal Emergency Management Office (FEMA) campaign “3 Days, 3 Ways“, reminds us the first 3 days are our responsibility because it takes at least that long to mobilize resources to be of assistance.

So the question is, are you ready? One of the tips on the FEMA website is to “Get a Kit”.  They list the items that should be in an emergency kit.  The list can be daunting.  We’re busy, it doesn’t seem urgent – at least not as urgent as getting to our emails or calling customers.

To make it easier, companies have put together kits you can purchase and keep in your home, office and car.  My personal favorite is made by Relief Pod International. The color coded sections keep everything organized and easily accessible in case of an emergency.  The durable, compact cases fit perfectly in the trunk of a car, in the supply closet or in the pantry at home.

Whether you use the government list and make your own kits or purchase one of the Relief Pod kits on line, be sure you have enough for all the people you are responsible for.  If you have employees, a kit per person is a good idea.  You may all be trapped at your workplace.

My husband, John Murphy,  put a kit in each of our car trunks.  He added a pair of broken-in athletic shoes and socks as well in case circumstances require us to walk  home noting that I am frequently out in stylish – rather than practical – footwear.

In addition to your personal vehicles, if you have company cars, vans or trucks, a kit for each of those vehicles is prudent as well.

What about your family? Supplies for each member of your family – even the furry ones – is essential.  Don’t forget, young adults away at college should also have kits both in their cars and their dorm rooms.

As we celebrate the return of our friend Rich Gray from Tokyo where he experienced the earthquake and aftermath first hand, let the tragedy of others be the motivation for each of us to act.  Are you ready?

Cash Isn’t Always King

March 11, 2011

What do you think motivates employees? If your first answer was money, you are not alone.  It’s a common – but incorrect – response.  The primary motivation of people is recognition – not money.

Motivating employees without money is one of the topics I speak on regularly.  It’s also a major focus in my book “Common Things Uncommon Ways”.  As a result, when my husband, John Murphy was at a trade show in Chicago this week and learned about the Motivation Show, he emailed me the link.

Why would companies like Starwood, Honey Baked Foods, Wilson Sporting Goods, Vera Bradley and Sharp Electronics be exhibitors at the Motivation Show?  Because items like hotel getaways, a Honey Baked ham for Easter, new golf clubs, a designer laptop case or the latest electronic gadget all make great employee incentives.

Employees may think they are working for a paycheck, but in reality, they are working to improve their quality of life.  If you, as an employer, can offer other ways to provide an improved quality of life, that is usually more valuable than money.

Experiences and gifts, particularly those shared with loved ones, are remembered while cash is quickly spent and forgotten.  As families watch their budgets more carefully than ever, experiences from a dinner out to a family movie night to a weekend getaway become even more precious.

Tangible items such as golf clubs, a colorful laptop case or an electronic gadget serve as reminders of the recognition they represent each time they are earned.  Suddenly the below par game becomes the result of the new clubs the company gave you and the company gets some of the credit in the bragging on Monday morning.

If you want to learn more about engaging your employees, your customer and even your vendors to improve your bottom line, check out the Motivation Show.  All types of companies from Abbott Laboratories to Allstate Insurance to S & C Electric Company to Southwest Airlines to Target are already registered to attend.  What about you?

Effective motivation is about tying rewards to results.    Understanding motivation and making it an integral part of your business plan makes bottom line sense for your business.

Google Yourself Today…and Often

February 23, 2011

Have you “Googled” your name and the name of your business lately? Years ago, when Google was just getting popular and I was busy building and running Sleep Country USA, Robert Olsen, a lifelong friend did an internet search for my name and it came back with over a million hits! He called me to tell me which prompted me to do my own search just to confirm it.  He was right!

It wasn’t just the number that shocked me; it was the variety of sources, comments and mentions there were – and that was just for my name, not even my business name!

The search as I sat down to compose this blog yielded slightly over 180,000 hits and most of them relate to the projects I am currently involved in; my book and speaking events.  However, there are still plenty of mentions of me connected to the business I founded in 1990 and sold in 2000 – yes, over a decade ago!

The point is, the internet is a wonderful tool but it is also a huge repository for all sorts of information – some accurate, some not.  Some flattering, some not. As a business person you cannot afford to be unaware of what others see when they Google your name and/or the name of your business.  Be sure to Google common misspellings!

Even if you don’t own a business, as an employee, your personal reputation is influenced by the reputation of the company where you work so you need to know what is being said out in the marketplace.

This information can influence future customers, employers, landlords, business associates or even friends!

My husband, John Murphy and I host dinner parties in our home every month and have done so for years.  Last month I was running late and did not get out the usual mailed invitations so I did an “evite instead.  Using the evite list, EVERY person in attendance had done both a Google and Facebook search of every other guest.


Do an internet search on yourself and your business today, then make a note on your calendar to do it again every 3 months. When you find erroneous information, contact the source and ask for them to correct it or at least comment back in reply if there is an option.

If you find a lot of unrelated information, particularly negative information on someone with a similar name, you may want to help others find the right search words to locate you.  Something like “Now if you search the internet for my business, be sure to include XYZ in quotes or you will find a lot of unrelated data on a business with a similar name in Florida”.   This can help you not get tarred with someone else’s bad reputation.

Is monitoring your reputation on the web time-consuming?  Not really.  If you feel it is, you can always utilize a web service such as Reputation Defender.  Is it really important?  Absolutely!  All you have in this world really is your good name!

%d bloggers like this: