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The Jingle

by Adam Zack — March 16, 2022

Adam

Is your advertising distinctive or does it look and sound like any other vanilla market that’s out there?

1-877-CARS-FOR-KIDS, 1-877-CARS-FOR-KIDS. K-A-R-S CARS FOR KIDS, DONATE YOUR CAR TODAY…Is there a more irritating and abrasive jingle on the radio. It gets into your head, and for me at least, activates my reflex to immediately change the radio station. I remember being in another city across the country in a rental car and on came the jingle.. 1-877-CARS-4… Aaagh! It’s not just in Southern California! I don’t know anyone who likes it or has donated their car because of it, but I sure do know a lot of people who can remember the number because of that stupid radio ad. Various versions of the ad have been on for nearly 20 years. As much as it makes most of us want to punch the radio, they must be effective. Radio airtime is not cheap, and it’s got to be paid by these donated cars. So who donates their car? And how does that come up? I imagine something like “Grandpa died and his piece of crap old car is in the garage and won’t start. How do we get rid of it? Who should we call? [Thought bubble pops up] 1-877-kars….” So the point is, is your marketin...
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Start From Where You Are

by Adam Zack — March 8, 2022

“Agh! I’m human Wagyu!!”

I was watching The Simpsons last night and Homer said one of the funniest lines I’ve ever heard in a while as he was being chased in the forest by a wolverine. “Agh! I’m human Wagyu!!” referring to the ultimate Japanese steak, which is so richly marbled with fat. But that has absolutely nothing to do with this week’s blog, I just thought of it when I was trying to remember what I was watching when I heard the line “You only get to start from where you are.” It was so impactful I made note of it right away. Throughout the pandemic, how many times have you heard the phrase “When things get back to normal.” Projects and initiatives have been delayed or cancelled. Action has halted. Progress has stalled. I thought of it in the bigger, longer picture of waiting to take action because “the time is not quite right”, or “I’m not ready yet”, or “When I’m in a better place.” Wait for sometime in the future, and you’ll still be starting from where you are. You don’t get to start from a better position, place, or time. You only get to start from where you are, so get going.

Read More – Pleasure Can...
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It is what it is

by Adam Zack — March 2, 2022

Adam

“You just lost a customer due to consistent mediocrity.”

Several years back I worked with a guy who frequently said “It is what it is.” It always kind of bugged me the way he said it, as it implied “Those idiots running the company are going to do what they want, and there’s nothing I can do about it, so I am resigned to just passively make generalized, broad comments about my inability to affect any type of positive change.” And since I was one of those idiots running the company, I took some offense to it. It’s a pretty stupid comment anyway. Of course it is what it is. That’s the definition of it. It IS what IT is. It’s NOT what IT is not.” Duh. It made me think of a much more meaningful, actionable and thoughtful saying: “If we keep on doing what we’re doing, we’re going to keep on getting what we’re getting.” Yes there is the need for consistency in most of our procedures, services and operations. Consistency in producing uniform quality. Consistency on operations that positively differentiate you from competition. Consistency of marketing and conveying your brand message. But consistency of mediocre quality and so-so operations and products results in consistent mediocrity. And y...
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The Best Investment

by Adam Zack — February 23, 2022

Adam

It’s harder than ever to attract and retain quality employees.

The surge in grocery buying as we have slogged through the pandemic for the last two years has helped the grocery industry financially. We have paid for it with stress, added expense and higher labor costs. Nonetheless, many stores that were marginally profitable, or even losers who were on the cusp of closing, have been able to maintain good profitability and stay in business. It was predicted in 2018 that 30% of independent, conventional grocery stores would close within 5-10 years. 30%!!! So what are the stores doing with their new abundant cash? Some owners are keeping it for themselves, justifying that they have lost money or been barely profitable for the last several years. Some with a longer vision see the opportunity to retain the new customers by remodeling and updating their tired stores with new offerings and fixtures. Some paid off debt. The smartest ones see the new profits as an opportunity to invest, and the really smart ones are investing it in their employees. New bonus program incentives, and what I think is more important, education and training. It’s harder than ever to attract and retain quality employees, but when they see that ...
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What I like

by Adam Zack — February 16, 2022

Adam

“Those wines are terrible!” whines the wine clerk snob.

I was talking to this guy who is a grocery manager today and I told him that I found a distributor who would supply him with these tortilla chips that I thought would really sell. He said “But I thought you didn’t like those chips. They changed the type of tortilla they use for them.” I said “Hey guy, it’s true that I don’t like them.” (and I really used to until they changed recipes), “But it’s not about what I like, it’s what the customer wants.” Sounds pretty damn wise and insightful, doesn’t it? Nothing to make you feel old like being wise. Anyway, it struck me that so many of our business decisions are based on what we like, and not what might best suit the needs of the customer. Wine guys are notorious for it. “I don’t like buttery chardonnays.” So no displays are built around buttery Chardonnays, even though it’s the most popular style, and most consumers are not into the “no-oak, minerally” chardonnays. They want something that is like the profile of their Kendall Jackson or Rombauer. It’s good business. But “Those wines are terrible!” whines the wine clerk snob. “I want to educate them on something better!...
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Regret

by Adam Zack — February 9, 2022

True regret is a negative emotion.

“I hate regrets more than apologies”― Fat Mike, NOFX I was standing at the airport last night waiting for my wife to come out of the bathroom and was looking at the books at the airport store – you know the one that sells magazines, books, candy, snacks, etc. – and on display was a book that caught my attention called The Power of Regret by Daniel Pink. My first thought was how much a guy with the last name Pink got teased in school. My second thought was that my philosophy has always been the opposite of thinking of regret as a power. To me, regret was always “shoulda, coulda, woulda”. It spoke of action (or inaction). It put the focus on the past, which was something you can never change. Dwelling in the past distracts you from the present, and the future. Yeah, it was something you could learn from and not make the same mistakes again, but true regret is a negative emotion. It’s like saying “I wish I would have bought land out here back in 1990 because it’s worth a fortune today” or “I wish I ...
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When To Say When

by Adam Zack — February 2, 2022

Adam

As leaders, we need to embrace failure like we do success.

New items, campaigns, programs and initiatives are the keys to growth in our grocery business. To be successful they need great planning, thorough communication, coordinated execution and the patience for it to get established and grow some roots. It’s not easy and it’s not inexpensive. Too often a great product is just put on the shelf or in the case with little or no signage, story telling or promotion. No one is surprised when 30 days later very few have sold, or it goes out of code and like that, it’s buh-bye, never to be seen again. If only someone had loved and nurtured it, it could have been rookie of the year, or at least been an alternate on the all-star team. But that’s not what this is about. Let’s assume that we do all the right things. We like the product, promote it, tell it’s story and to our surprise it still just sits there. It doesn’t resonate with the customer and we start feeling bad for it. It’s a failure. The shame. As leaders, we need to embrace failure like we do success. Well over 50% of the new items and programs we try won’t be around next year. And that’s OK, because failure, when executed well, is the result of...
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Embrace Weird

by Adam Zack — January 26, 2022

Good weird isn’t creepy or gross.

Weird: of strange or extraordinary character: ODD, FANTASTICI love weird. Weird is unique, interesting, funny, quirky, different. I have two daughters that have pretty much called me weird from the time they could talk. I think it was in the top 10 first words. I’m sure that when I was feeding Holly as an infant, and gave the dog a taste of her baby food, then back to her, she was thinking “This is weird. I share food with the dog?” Being a weirdo is a badge of pride to me. I don’t want to be the boring old dad that just acts like every other dad. I don’t want to be the brother, son or husband that is predictable, with no spikes on the radar. Weird is fun, and I search out products (like our new Bacon Flavor Lip Balm, and Mac & Cheese flavored Candy Canes) that will leave an impression on people. It’s a great opportunity for independent retailers to do something that will get people talkin...
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Do It

by Adam Zack — January 19, 2022

Adam

“Good idea” is kind of a reflective response.

“Never save a good idea. Do it!”
– Denis O’Dell
Denis O’Dell was a film producer who worked on The Beatles “A Hard Day’s Night”, Magical Mystery Tour and the footage for what eventually became the new Beatles documentary release “Get Back”. The footage he captured showing the collaborative process between the four band members is mesmerizing when you reflect on how many great songs they produced and how they just stem from an idea that one of them had. (It also shows just how close Yoko Ono sat to John Lennon always. Ever hear of personal space, Yoko?!)
So as I watched the creative process for what became the album Let It Be, the quote from Denis telling them not to sit on a good idea made an impact. The dialogue went something like one of the Beatles saying “That’s a good idea, we should save it.” How many times do we say to people (or people say to us): Good idea! And how many times does the good idea get saved, eventually never seeing the light of day? So here’s one of my 2022 goals: Say “good idea” only when it’s actually a good idea that makes sense and is achievable. Then make a plan to act on it. “Good idea” is kind of a reflective respon
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Generosity

by Adam Zack — January 12, 2022

Adam

Listening is another word for giving your attention to someone.

“Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.”― Simone WeilI saw this quote this week and it grabbed my attention and got me thinking. We talk constantly (although not incessantly, as that term seems tedious and nagging) about how important and difficult it is to really listen. To listen closely, pay attention and not jump forward to your anticipated response or conclusion of what the person is telling you. So when I saw this quote (in the movie The Lost Daughter) I was moved enough to think that listening is another word for giving your attention to someone. Your full attention without distractions, without multitasking and with full eye contact. People are constantly seeking your attention. Kids, employees, salespeople, advertisers – pretty much everyone wants your attention. It’s coveted and valuable. Giving that attention, especially since it is a limited commodity, is a gift you give others. Not that any of us are some almighty important ruler that doles out our attention by the spoonful as if we are some kind of aristocrat. Our attention is...
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