January 2014

Top Posts of 2013

2014-01-22T16:52:40-04:00 Categories: SandBlog|Tags: , , , , , , |

Happy New Year!

As we look forward to creating new content in 2014, it’s fun and helpful to look back and see which posts from 2013 you found most interesting.

Check out the top 8 most-read posts below!

1. Branding vs. Marketing: What’s the Difference?

This “Point-Counterpoint” article from our Crackerjack Marketing Series touches on the key differences (and similarities) between marketing and branding.

2. Tips to Drive Sales At Your Location With In-Store Events

One of the best ways to build awareness, excitement and traffic to a new location is through a grand opening event. Check out this article for our top tips on how to succeed.

3. 275 Most Common Marketing & Communication Venues

This extensive list will help you think outside the box in your next strategy and brainstorming meeting. There are more ways to reach people than eMail or an ad in the newspaper!

4. How Valuable Are Loyalty Programs?

If you’re thinking about launching a customer loyalty program this year, this article is a must-read.

5. What Are The Key Components to Include in a Brand Style Guide?

Depending on the size of your business, your Brand Style Guide might be a few pages or heavy textbook. Regardless of the guide’s size, make sure to include these key components!

6. Why is a Brand Style Guide Important?

Amongst other things, a Brand Style Guide ensures that each employee (from the CEO to the new intern) knows the proper way to represent the brand via various communication channels. It’s the “voice” and look and feel of your brand.

7. Take Your Audience On a Hero’s Journey

After reading Nancy Duarte’s Resonate: Present Visual Stories That Transform Audiences, Paul shares his tips on how to make your next presentation more like a great story.

8. 3 Simple Decision-Making Tools

Have some big (or small) decisions to make in the near future? Consider consulting one of our handy dandy decision making tools to make your life a little easier!

In 2014, we’ll continue to provide you with relevant, helpful and interesting articles to help you succeed and stay inspired. Stay tuned!

October 2013

“The Passion Conversation” Podcast “with” John Moore

2013-10-24T19:50:43-04:00 Categories: SandBlog|Tags: , , , , , |

Passion_ConversationToday is the day John Moore, author of The Passion Conversation, was supposed to record an audio podcast for Idea Sandbox.

After going back and forth on timing we finally booked an hour to talk. But, John couldn’t “make the call.” When I called his office at Brains on Fire, they said he was out at some beer place.

After some ANGRY conversation our plan to talk about The Passion Conversation fell apart.

But, I promised you – visitors to Idea Sandbox – an interview. So, from our interview notes, I was able to simulate our interview.

[link to audio]

Transcript from Interview

opening music

Paul: Hello, welcome to Idea Sandbox. This is Paul Williams and we are here today to speak with John Moore about his book

John: Well, thank you Paul. It is great to be with you at Idea Sandbox today to talk about our new book “The Passion Conversation.”

Paul: So, let’s jump in with the questions, shall we?

John: Great!

Question 1:


What if a company offers a product that people don’t want to tell others about? A product that does not lend itself to word of mouth?

Preparation H users aren’t posting about the cooling effects in their Twitter feeds.


Yes, products used behind closed doors for very personal reasons are more difficult to spark word of mouth. In the book we share academic research that explains how more visible products, like a can of Red Bull or a Whole Foods Market shopping bag, lend themselves to be talked about because they are highly visible.

While privately used products, like toilet paper or Preparation H, aren’t talked about as much because you’d never use those products in a socially visible setting.

That said, it doesn’t mean word of mouth can’t be sparked for toilet paper or Preparation H.

My advice is to play the humor card because anytime a brand can trigger a strong emotion such as laughter, then word of mouth is easier to happen.

The marketing for One Wipe Charlies from the folks at Dollar Shave Club, plays the humor card to perfection and thus, their “buttwipes” (er, toilet paper) are word of mouth worthy.

For Preparation H, I’d definitely play the humor card to spark word of mouth. For example, Preparation H could run a marketing campaign asking people to tell them “how cool” Preparation H makes them feel. I can envision a whole campaign with people chiming in with something like… “Preparation H makes me feel cooler than the other side of a pillow.”

Question 2:


Thanks, great answer. So, I was also wondering about…

[interruption by unexpected visitor, you’ll have to listen to the podcast…]


John, you write in the book about how you can’t pick who will love you. That we’ve got to be really realistic on who are customers are, versus who you want them to be. Could you tell us more?


Absolutely, Paul. I once worked on a project with Brains on Fire where the CMO of a very large brand chose a specific customer target he wanted to reach.

He wanted to target a very glamorous and sexy audience to evangelize his company’s products, because that’s who he thought were his best customers.

However, his products were sold at downscale retailers and the most enthusiastic customers of this brand we found were not near as glamorous and sexy as the CMO had thought. The customer ambassador program we designed for this brand never took off because the CMO had a different idea of whom the target customer is. Brains on Fire resigned from the account because this CMO failed to be realistic for who his customers truly are.

Question 3:


John, can you please elaborate on the idea of products having a “soul.” A soul for a product is an interesting idea.

You mention that on page 25. But, I also have a second request.

Will you also please use the words “consortium” and “palette” somewhere in your answer?


Hmmm…. okay… let me see what I can do.

Products that are much more than merely palatable have a seemingly broad combination, or consortium, of attributes that lends itself to making people feel better about themselves. The other day at Brains on Fire, Geno Church went around our offices sharing with us how much he enjoys using Ursa Major’s face tonic. Clearly, using this product makes Geno feel better and the ladies here would chime in that his skin looks more supple than ever.

Question 4:


On page 143 you have an exercise that helps companies assess if they went away – meaning went out of business – would they be missed?

You write that if the answer is you would NOT be missed, that you have some work to do. What do you mean? What should a company do or think about to fix that? How does a company get themselves in a place to be missed?


I recommend you re-read pages 1 through 142 of The Passion Conversation. Seriously.

[Paul begins reading the book]


Wait. Not right now.

Question 5:


In your bio summary on the flap of the book you mentioned loving musical tracks that are – and I quote – “on the one.” What does that mean, John?


I’ll let Bootsy Collins answer that question on my behalf…

[shoot, sorry… again… you’ll have to listen for this information, at 5 minute 3 second mark]


Thank you, Bootsy. Back to you, John.

Question 6:


What question do you wish someone asked you about the book that you have a smart answer for?

It’s not a question but rather a person I wish people would ask me about. As we were writing the book we came across Ernest Dichter, an Austrian-born psychologist who spent a lifetime studying human motivations and applying it to marketing brands.

Dichter wrote an absolutely spot-on article for the Harvard Business Review in 1966 titled, “How Word-of-Mouth Advertising Works.” The gist of the article says that when consumers feel as though the advertising speaks them as a friend, then word of mouth recommendations are more likely to be shared. That’s a super-simplistic take on the article. I broke down the article in a long blog post that’s worth reading if you’re intrigued enough to want to know more about Ernest Dichter’s smart thinking on word of mouth marketing.


Well that concludes this interview. If you haven’t already, pick up the book today – The Passion Conversation – at your local bookstore or online.

Thank you again for being here, John.


Thank YOU, Paul. This was a lot of fun.

closing music

Other stops in this tour included:

Check them all out!

June 2013

How Should a Retail Brand Best Use Social Media?

2013-06-11T10:07:06-04:00 Categories: Crackerjack Marketer, SandBlog, think|Tags: , , , , , |

POINT: Paul Williams

First, it is most important to remember that social media tools are tactics that support a word of mouth marketing strategy. So much excitement lately, how easily companies and customers can directly connect to each other, we forget that social media is a tactic, not an objective. (more…)

August 2011

Creating Marketing Plans that Get Buy-In from Bosses and Create Buyers from Consumers

2014-08-24T15:33:41-04:00 Categories: SandBlog|Tags: , , , |

CrackerJack Marketers, John Moore and I, will be sharing secrets, tips, and techniques we’ve learned as retail marketers in creating the most effective marketing plans.

Crafting a CrackerJack marketing plan isn’t easy. Your boss wants a plan that’s going to meet or exceed business objectives AND be embraced by internal departments within your organization. Your boss’s boss demands a plan that drives higher sales and increases traffic. And your customers desire better products and experiences at lower prices. In this webinar you will learn how to accomplish all of that and more.

In our Creating Marketing Plans that Get Buy-In from Bosses and Create Buyers from Consumers webinar – among other lessons – you’ll learn how to:

  • Get Built-In Buy-In from within your company.
  • Weave your plan out of “Kevlar,” making it bullet proof to departmental critiques.
  • Convey “overt benefits” to customers and potential customers.
  • Use “backcasting” to develop short-term tactics leading to long-term impact.
  • Use a CrackerJack Marketer approved Marketing Plan Template
Cost: $4,000* (MEGA discount available. Read below.)
Date: Wednesday, August 31
Time: 12 noon – 1:00 PM (EST)
Registration: Click To Register!
* Use the discount code: CRACKERJACK and receive a 99% discount and pay only $40.00

All attendees will receive a battled-tested CrackerJack Marketing Plan template, a detailed PDF summary of the webinar, and an overall boost in confidence.

October 2010

July 2010

Gain Out-Of-This-World Marketing Advice From Galaxy Coffee

2017-03-01T11:56:10-04:00 Categories: grow, think|Tags: , , , , , , |

John Moore, the marketing medic at Brand Autopsy, has written another book that offers succinct marketing and branding advice inspired by working at Starbucks Coffee Company.

It is called: Tough Love: Scripting the Drive, Drama, and Decline Of Galaxy Coffee.”

Although… I’m wrong to call it a book… It is a screenplay disguised as a book. It wasn’t written to be turned into a movie, rather it is John’s remarkable way of offering a novel novel. It works.

TOUGH LOVE… is actually a screenplay masquerading as a business book. It reads just like a Hollywood screenplay with standard script format, seven main characters, and two plot lines that tell the story of how a rags-to-riches entrepreneur finds success building a company (Galaxy Coffee) to be bigger only to realize, the hard way, that smaller is better.

Inserted throughout the TOUGH LOVE script are breakout business lessons and thought-provoking business advice geared towards entrepreneurs and small business owners.

In addition to loads of valuable, bite-sized, actionable marketing lessons, it tells an interesting story pretty close to what it was like working within the Starbucks marketing department at the turn of the century.

Starbucks lovers and haters will find the read equally interesting.

Behind the scenes

Many of the character names are amalgamations of Starbucks marketers… Including (I’m honored to write) me! I’m disguised as Denny Williams. (That’s a combination of Paul Williams and Lisa Denny. Lisa was one of our favorite, and smartest bosses at Starbucks). John’s use of similarity to actual people make the read more realistic.

I highly recommend downloading a copy of John’s marketing screenplay At $9.99 it is a steal! While you’re at it, check out John’s first book…Tribal Knowledge: Business Wisdom Brewed From The Grounds Of Starbucks Corporate Culture. too!

February 2010

Debunking Word Of Mouth, (and Social Media) Bunk

2017-03-01T11:56:17-04:00 Categories: grow, SandBlog|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

John Moore (from Brand Autopsy) and I were invited to talk with Jay Ehret of The Marketing Spot. As part of his work to help small businesses, Jay asked John and I questions surrounding all the hubbub regarding Word of Mouth (WOM) and Social Media.


You’ll find some helpful stuff. John is the WOM expert who speaks and writes for the official Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA).

Oh, and I toss a few ideas in there as well…

Here’s the podcast audio link:

Power To the Small Business #48
“Debunking Word-of-Mouth Bunk”

Getting “word of mouth” simply means your brand, company, products/services are worth talking about… that you’re worth remarking about… that you’re literally remarkable.

And, creating word of mouth means doing things that make you remarkable, make you different than the competition.

You should also check out the series of articles I wrote on how to be different. The lessons from these great writers will help you be remarkable and create word of mouth.

Thank you Jay for asking for my thoughts!

Finally, in preparation for the interview I prepared notes. I’ll share those thoughts this week in a series of articles. I welcome you to stop by tomorrow.

January 2007

New Year’s Resolution That’ll Stick – Inbox Sand, Jan. ’07

2010-05-24T13:45:45-04:00 Categories: SandBlog|Tags: , , , |

Happy New Year!

Looking for a New Year’s Resolution you may be able to sustain for the year… or for at least a few months?

upward graphThis month I offer a practical and stick-to-able New Year’s Resolution that you just may adopt as a life philosophy.

Read this year’s first installment of Sand for Your Inbox titled “Comp Yourself.”

If you’d like to receive monthly Sand for Your Inbox directly to your inbox, join the exclusive Idea Sandbox mailing list by -> clicking here.

Thanks for your comments and discussion this past year… Here is to another year of great ideas and problem solving techniques.

I hope you’ve got a good start on a happy and healthy new year!

p.s. Author/blogger John Moore, documents how we practiced this philosophy at Starbucks in a chapter of his book “Tribal Knowledge:.” In fact, he and I must be on the same wavelength… John recently provided the entire chapter Always Measure Your Comparable Job Performance on his blog for free.

April 2006

Mazagran Toast

2017-08-19T18:56:06-04:00 Categories: SandBlog|Tags: , , |

In a previous post about Coke BlaK and coffee soda, I mentioned that johnmoore (from Brand Autopsy) and I split a bottle of Starbucks Mazagran coffee soda in January of 2003. This was just before John left Starbucks to go work for Whole Foods Market.

Little did I know the moment was captured by a photographer.

Paul and John sipping Starbucks Mazagran coffee soda. This bottle
expired in 1996. (John, always the marketer, is doing a great job
making sure we’ve got good product visibility).

Ahhh! Refreshing. A bit flat. John said, “it tastes like a flat Pepsi with a hint of coffee.”

Why did we do this? A dare? A bet? Nope. We both just wondered (as
did everyone in the marketing department) what it would taste like
after all those years. We were the only ones stupid bold enough to try it.

p.s. That the marketing department’s Big Fat Greek Windex in the background.