How REI & #OptOutside is Getting it Right

REI Closes Stores on Black Friday OptOutside

In October REI shocked the retail world by announcing that it would be closing all its stores on Black Friday (one of the most lucrative shopping days of the year) so that employees could opt instead to go outside.

Not only is it closing all its stores on the busiest shopping day of the year but it is paying all its employees to go play.

REI Closes for Black Friday

And they are encouraging other retailers to take a stand against the madness that has become Black Friday.

Make no mistake about it.  This is a costly move. Closing 143 stores on such a high volume day and paying all its employees.

But to me? It is music to my ears and balm to my heart.

To me Black Friday is an iconic day that singularly represents so much of what causes the most pain, dissatisfaction, and suffering in our lives. The rush to consume, get “more”, and keep up with what we think others are doing.  So the fact that a major retailer is taking such a strong stand against the material and for the beauty of experience in nature does the world a bit of good.

While REI is a member run co-op and does not have the same pressures of public companies mired in the short-term reward and perception game of the financial markets, that doesn’t make it immune to the need to be profitable.

Here’s why this move will ultimately work for not against REI in the long run and what you can learn from them to apply to your own business. [Read more…]

How Do I Find Clients?

This is perhaps the #1 question I get asked.

  • How do I find clients?
  • Where can I find them?

I often laugh in my lighthearted way and want to say –

“Here’s the secret no one told you…”

“There they are! Over there! Right behind the potted plant!”

And then there would be a mad rush…

Except it doesn’t work that way.

How Do I Find Clients?

So many methods teach that you need to go find clients, like you are on some treasure hunt and if you just look hard and long enough a windfall will be bestowed upon you. Unfortunately this is not a hunter-gatherer mission.

Neither is it a sit back and wait for ideal clients to magically manifest like a genie in a bottle. Poof! There they are!!

The truth is that it is more organic than either of these frequently taught approaches. [Read more…]

Is Your Marketing Copy Turning Customers Away? Business Lessons from the Cat

Copywriting & Marketing Lessons from the Cat  Whether your marketing copy is sitting on a website, in a blog post, an email, or a brochure, it is speaking volumes about you in your absence.

Is what you’re saying or the way you’re saying it turning away business?

I call this piece Business Lessons from the Cat because as we were searching for and adopting our now three loving kittens, I learned an awful lot about marketing from a feline perspective.  After all, cats waiting for adoption must be marketing masters if they want to find that purrfect forever home (aka land the ideal customer).  This article is the first in a series.

As we sat on our couch pouring over Petfinder looking for local cats available for adoption, we spent many hours reading the descriptions and pondering who we might like to meet.  Once you get past the demographics (age, breed type, and sex), the rest is pure sales copy.  As such I expect it to be informative, accurate, and give me insight into what I might expect should I choose to “do business with” (aka meet) the cat.

I realize that cat foster organizations are volunteer run and overstretched.  They do amazing work in the world and I am grateful for that as a cat lover. That said, some of the copy I read made me shake my head and scream “You’re doing it all wrong!”

Here are the top 5 mistakes I saw the cats make while marketing themselves via copywriting:

No Copy

If you tell me nothing about you, how compelled will I be to meet you?  There’s zero know, like, and trust factor happening and you haven’t even given yourself a fighting chance beyond your photo.

No Photo

What sells cuteness better than a photo? Whether you’re a cat looking to be adopted or a service provider, pictures engage, tell a story, and make you instantly more appealing and approachable. [Read more…]

7 Surefire Ways to Lose Someone’s Trust (and Business)

Losing Someone's TrustRecently I was on the receiving end of an incredibly poor bit of customer service from someone I know and trust.  I am an incredibly local customer and a pretty reasonable person (hey, I know stuff happens and can roll with it) and yet there are some things that are simply deal breakers.

I’ll be the first to say that it pains me when I have to say goodbye to a service provider or company I love. Yet what I’ve learned the hard way is that hanging on or trying to sweep your concerns under the carpet because you don’t want anyone to feel badly is a fast path to compromising your own values, ignoring your own needs and deteriorating a relationship until it sours irrevocably.

I’d invite you to read the rest of this article through two lenses: The first lens: that of a business owner serving customers and the second lens: that of a customer partaking in someone else’s service.   Why?

If you’re a business owner you can’t possibly make these mistakes and expect to have positive customer relationships and a thriving business.  If you’re a customer (and we are all customers), you deserve to be respected and valued.  Your choice of where you spend your money and energy speaks volumes and is a direct reflection of the priorities in your life and your own self-esteem.

  1. Not Doing What You Say
    Nothing breeds distrust and unreliability like saying one thing and doing another.  It’s not hard to do what you say. Don’t promise what you can’t deliver.  And by all means don’t say something if you don’t mean it.
  2. Not Showing Up
    Just as destructive as not doing what you say, blowing people off feels even worse.  It sends the message to them that they don’t matter and that you don’t respect them. If something out of the ordinary happens and you need to miss an appointment/connection with a customer you absolutely need to make things right by communicating swiftly and fully.
  3. Lack of Communication
    Mistakes happen. Deadlines get missed.  Emergencies and life moments intervene into even the best-laid plans and intentions.  People understand this. That said, you must communicate. Nothing puts the nail in the coffin and fuels an exodus like nonexistent or questionable communication.
  4. Not Listening to What Your Customers Say
    Do you actually listen to what your customers tell you?  Or do you let it go in one ear and out the other while nodding politely?  I can think of one service provider I worked with who never ever listened to what I said.  I felt ignored and after repeated attempts at making my concerns known (and subsequently ignored), I simply gave up and took my business elsewhere.
  5. Inconsistent/Nonexistent Follow Up and Follow Through
    Do you vanish into the mist after you promise something? Very similar to not doing what you say, not following through just screams unreliable.  Who wants to work with someone that is unreliable? No one I know.  You can put on a great show and network like crazy but if you don’t follow through you may as well stay home on the couch.
  6. Ignoring Customer Needs and Requests
    No one is better at ignoring requests than my local gym.  Like a suave politician, the owner pretends he cares, but then answers you in a way that lets you know he doesn’t care and isn’t doing anything about it.  While you certainly cannot bend to every customer whim and desire (that’s a recipe for failure) you do want to honestly acknowledge and respond to the needs and requests of those you serve.  If you keep hearing the same request over and over, see if there is a way you can meet that need in a way that feels good to you (new offering, service, referral, etc.).
  7. Doing a Half-Baked Job
    A quality job and a job done right is crucial.  Performance is a reflection of attitude. In today’s world with so many instances of slipshod work and poor customer service, you can set yourself apart with attention to detail and high quality service.


It’s not hard to avoid these 7 deadly sins…it just takes a conscious mindset and a willingness to be present with those you serve (and are served by).  And it makes all the difference in the world to your business and those you serve.  Go above and beyond and appreciate those you work with.  A simple note of gratitude warms the heart on both sides.


Credit Image: llreadll on Flickr

How to Prioritize When Everything is a Priority

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