Lessons from the Cruise IndustryJanuary 8th, 2016

cruiseI just got back from a cruise, and I have some thoughts on the industry and how it relates to customer service for small businesses. I know, I get a million comments on how I relate everything to my website business. I am guilty as charged, hey it is what I know.

But hear me out, a lot of things that make a cruise line successful (or not successful as the case may be) are what can make a small business succeed.

  1. Cater to your every need: Cruise lines know that people come on a cruise for vacations and want to be pampered.  From your room steward to the waiters, to the entertainment staff, everyone is friendly and at your beckon call.  They insure you are happy and have a good time and yes, spend your money.  This is the same with small businesses, especially if you are in a service industry. People want to know that you will take good care of them. The better the service, the more people remember and will refer you to their friends and business associates.
  2. Job is important: One thing is sure, everyone on the cruise ship seems to appreciate their job. They take pride in every thing they do and you never get the sense that they feel like they are doing anything menial. You never get the sense that this is just a temporary job until they get something better. This is a career and they are happy to do these jobs.  This makes everyone feel important and appreciate it. This is true with small businesses too. You never want to give off a sense that an account is too small for you. You need to appreciate every client/customer and every project should be important to you. No one wants to feel like they are unimportant. Treat everyone with respect and that their business is crucial.  Remember, a lot of companies start off small and grow into successful entities.
  3. A good value get you in the door: Cruises are typically very good deals, usually the cost of a cruise is even less than airfare in many cases. The reason is simple, cruises know that when they get you in the door you will spend money. You will buy drinks, you will go on excursions, and you will even buy things at their stores. You may even hit the casino a time (or 10). This is a mistake that many businesses made. They try and overcharge you initially, which makes you go elsewhere the next time around. They don’t realize that a long-term customer outweighs that quick score they may make on an initial sale. For instance, in my business I want clients that stay with me for years, and hopefully decades. So my price upfront to build sites may not be as high as other companies just wanting to design sites and then move on to the next project.

 Bottom line: Cruise lines, like any successful business have learned their lessons over the years and know what works. The first cruise was in the year 1900, so they have quite a bit of experience to draw from.  From that experience, you can take these lessons and improve the way you conduct business.

New business branding originalityJanuary 22nd, 2014

be-original I was watching an episode of Bar Rescue this week. I find the show thoroughly entertaining as the host John Taffer goes in and rips apart failing bar businesses.   As I often do, I find parallels with my business, web design, development and management.  (I know, I find parallels everywhere to the web world. Hey I am a web guy 🙂 )

Why you ask? Well, first they send in a spy to check out the bar and to sample the food and drinks.  In my case I look at the website and evaluate. They figure out why the bar is losing money, re-design the space and fix the deficiencies.  Very similar process for me but I don’t get as angry as the host of Bar Rescue. (Most of the time)

I was watching an episode the other day. The bar owner had sold his previous bar. He then opened a new place across the street. This particular bar was in New Orleans which means it is one of the few places in the US where you sell drinks to go.  Instead of coming up with a new concept, he copied the plastic to-go cup in color and looks.  (the old bar had a green hand grenade shape at the bottom, the new one had a turtle motif on the bottom, but both looked identical) The result? They got sued for copyright infringement and spent $100,000 defending the suit. His bar ended up a cheap copy of his old place and the result was a cheap imitation that was easy to miss. So easy in fact, that the spies which were sent in actually walked by the place!

So, this made me think in terms of new websites and new business branding. Often times clients will look at their competitors and want to copy what they see. Now competitive analysis is a great first start when you are in the process of getting a new business venture going. But copying what they’re doing is never a good idea. You want your own original branding strategy. Readers to my blog will remember I spoke about names in my last post. You also want to think very carefully before you name your new business. If you choose a name which there are already five or six other companies with the same name, chances are you will not get a great domain. And even worse, you actually drive traffic to those sites.

Bottom line: Be original in your name, your design and everything you do so that you establish your own brand and company identity. You want to differentiate yourself, not copy others. Do your competitive analysis, but think of ways you can be better than the existing competition. As the web world is ever changing, chances are your website is a good place to outdo your competition as you can have the most up to date website with the latest technology.

Update: 7/14/23

Being original in branding, business name, design, and everything you do is crucial for several reasons:

1. Differentiation: In a crowded marketplace, originality helps you stand out from the competition. It enables you to establish a unique identity and create a distinct brand image that sets you apart. Originality helps consumers remember and recognize your business, leading to better brand recall and differentiation from competitors.

2. Brand Identity: Originality allows you to develop a strong brand identity that aligns with your values, mission, and target audience. It gives you the opportunity to craft a narrative and personality that resonates with your customers. By being original, you can communicate your brand story effectively and build an emotional connection with your audience.

3. Authenticity: Originality promotes authenticity, which is crucial for building trust with your customers. People are drawn to genuine and original brands that have a clear purpose and offer unique value. By being true to your vision and expressing it through your branding, you can establish credibility and foster long-term relationships with your audience.

4. Memorable and Impactful: Originality helps create memorable experiences for your customers. When your branding, business name, and design are original, they have a higher chance of leaving a lasting impression on people’s minds. Memorable branding leads to word-of-mouth referrals, increased customer loyalty, and a positive brand reputation.

5. Competitive Advantage: Originality gives you a competitive edge by allowing you to offer something different and innovative. By introducing fresh ideas and unique approaches, you can attract customers who are seeking novel experiences or solutions. Originality can help you disrupt traditional markets, capture attention, and gain a competitive advantage over rivals.

6. Intellectual Property Protection: Being original helps you protect your intellectual property, such as trademarks, copyrights, and patents. By creating original designs, logos, and names, you reduce the risk of infringing on existing intellectual property rights. Protecting your original assets ensures that your business remains distinct and legally safeguarded.

In summary, originality in branding, business name, design, and all aspects of your business is vital for differentiation, brand identity, authenticity, memorability, competitive advantage, and intellectual property protection. By being original, you can create a strong foundation for your business and attract the attention and loyalty of your target audience.