Bicycles and Branding

freeimage-5884049-webI think it’s safe to say we won’t be getting any more snow for a while in Minnesota (I say that with 51% certainty). Since I’ve finally thawed out after the nastiest winter I’ve had in years, I decided to make the most out of the good weather and bought a bike. There’s a bike path near my house that goes all the way to downtown Minneapolis.

It’s been a long time since I rode, and I’ve disliked cyclists for quite a while. They’re always hogging the road, wearing outfits more suited for the Tour de France than for the path to the local grocery store. I just didn’t understand it.

But then I had to stop at Erik’s for a new tire, and saw all the jerseys on the wall. I realized those cyclists in a group, like all other hobbies, have brands that customers are loyal to, and those customers are willing to wear their loyalty on their sleeves.

Or chests. Or backs. Basically anywhere they can put a logo, it’ll be there.

Wearing specific clothing starts as a form of self-expression, but can turn into brand loyalty the more you wear that clothing. Brands capitalize on this and provide clothing for any weather condition, and whatever you’re doing, allowing it to become a necessary part of that consumer’s life.

In the end, I understand why those group cyclists, and other groups in a sport or hobby, readily advertise for brands that fill a need for them. I recognize It’s free advertising for a company, and see how effective it could be in helping consumers make purchase decisions, but You won’t see me in one of those skintight biking suits anytime soon.

I’ll stick with my light and comfortable Nike ‘Dri-fit’ shirt and shorts, complete with a huge swoosh logo on them.

Will Michaelson

Business Development Manager

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You’re not on Facebook? You probably don’t like your friends.


Facebook has changed my life. As strange as it sounds (and I understand how most will take this), the fact is, it has. Chances are, whether you admit it or not, you’re in the same boat as me.

You could make every argument that I’m a strange bird, I’ve been accused of worse things in the last week, but the facts are undeniable. Friendships that I’ve made over the last 5 years are due, at least in part, if not completely, to the connection I have to these people through Facebook. Sad? You be the judge, but because of the information readily available on my phone, TV, computer, and tablet, I can, at a glance see how everything is going with people’s kids, parents, friends. I’ve celebrated, albeit minimally, in people’s marriages that I barely have contact with. I’ve mourned with people who have lost loved ones. When my mother passed away, Facebook allowed me to see support beyond what I would have had without it. I maintain relationships better, because I share in things. I can keep up with people who mean a lot to me, because if you’re like me, I have very little time in the day to call my friends, but I can still share in their experiences; and I have little outside of work – I can’t imagine if you have those things called “families”. I’d probably never be heard from again.

Sure, I hear pretentious arguments against it. How “I don’t need to read what you had for breakfast”. These are arguments from people who don’t experience what it’s like to have true connections with people. No one’s going to share what they had for breakfast, unless it’s an amazing brunch; in which case yes – let me see that. I hear things like it’s removing the intimacy of face-to-face relationships – how? It’s a tool to stay connected. If you’re not visiting people, maybe you should free up your schedule and go do it. That’s not a problem with a social tool, that’s a scheduling issue.

Sam Biddle of Gizmodo says, “If you don’t believe me, believe history. Remember those self righteous morons who took such groundless pride in not having a cell phone? Ten years ago, those people were left behind. Sure, we liked them. But they became annoying to get a hold of, forcing you to go out of your way to be friends with them because they labelled some new technology as beneath them without even taking the time to understand it. They didn’t want to learn how modern friendship had evolved. They choose to look at a brand new social tool as a hindrance rather than a convenience. This is all happening again, but with Facebook.” I love what Sam says here. It’s true. This is the evolving course of friendship – embrace it, or reject it; but reject it at your own peril.

Sure, there’s a lot that sucks about Facebook, but the fact of the matter is, it’s the way we connect these days. I hear arguments like, “I’d rather have a face-to-face relationship with someone” right before this person sends a text to someone. It’s probably similar arguments that farmers had when the first telephones were coming to town.

Sure there’s people who post those overly-dramatic or cryptic status updates that bothers everyone, there’s plenty that make me roll my eyes; but the fact is, I like my friends, despite their flaws. I want to share what’s going on in my life with them, and I want to see what’s going on with them. Make the argument that I should do that in person, but I’d argue back that Facebook is now where we’re going when it comes to sharing birthdays, weddings, get together’s, etc. You’re missing out a whole lot by not sharing in these things.

You’re not on Facebook? You probably don’t like your friends. I recommend getting some new ones.

Are You Playing Telephone With Your Customers?

We all know at least one person, (maybe you) that has played the children’s game, Telephone.  The rules are as follows: a group sits in a line and the first person starts out by whispering something in the next person’s ear.  Then they whisper what they heard to the next person and so on. What happens at the end?  The message that was started usually comes out completely different when it gets to the last person.

Everywhere you look, people are getting the wrong message across.  Coming from the customer service world, a lot of what people think is “he said, she said”.  How do you stop your customers from getting your intentions confused?  Well, you stop playing the game of telephone.

How do you do that? Start with being there for all your customer’s needs.  Never use the phrase, “I don’t know.”  That makes it seem like nobody knows what they are talking about. A better sentence would be, “Let me go get so and so to answer that for you.”  Always make sure your employees have the correct information that you are trying to get across.

How else to get the customers thinking what you’re thinking? Get creative, have a brainstorm or a picnic.  However you want to do it, get you and your employees thinking more about the importance of unity when it comes to information.

If everyone is conveying the same message and getting the point across clearly, then the customer understands more clearly.  If we all follow basic rules of communication, the game of Telephone can almost be completely avoided.


What Have You Done For Me Lately?

We live in a society where we always hear sayings like: “black and white”, “cut and dry” and my personal favorite, “either you’re in or you’re out”.

Another popular one is “what have you done for me lately?”. Whether it is at work, school, home or whatever you are in to, you are usually judged or managed based on the most recent action or development. At work, you get a pay check based on your sales for that week. At school, you get a report card for that last semester. At home, you get in the doghouse for not taking out the garbage or leaving your pizza box out by the TV. In marketing, there are differences in how we judge consumers that has really thrown me into a tizzy.

In a typical rewards program, the customer gets rewarded for their most recent transaction. Whether it is points for a hotel stay, or a gift card for spending $100 dollars- you are rewarded for your loyalty and usually directed back to the brand in one way shape or form.

But, you also commonly see programs offer even MORE to get you in the door. What does that say? To me it says, “Hey we want to give you free stuff to come in and do business with us, even though you haven’t before” as opposed to what I mentioned earlier, where you get rewarded for actually DOING business.

So I sit and think (I really don’t, but I definitely could)…should I sit and wait for a “we haven’t seen you for a while” bonus offer? Or continue to do business with the companies I know, love and trust-expecting to get my rewards and benefits? In this chess game we call life, this is a move I have yet to stop and think about. But I most definitely still am playing to win (or whatever that means).

Please, economists and marketers alike…Give me direction!

NHL Lockouts and Raving Fans of your Business

nhllockoutThe NHL is back, and my office doesn’t care.

You probably don’t either, but I’m going to talk about it anyway. Deal with it.

At this time of the year, I should be talking about how exciting the last 40 games have been, and how awesome the Winter Classic was on New Years Day. I should be glowing about how the Minnesota Wild are a top contender for the Stanley Cup, and they’re playing with the best record of the season.

But I’m not. The NHL was locked out in October, and as of this writing hasn’t had a game yet this season. This made me a very angry fan, and I spent much of the time griping about the players and owners acting like greedy babies. I decided to boycott the NHL when it was locked out, and didn’t buy anything NHL-branded. I followed other types of hockey, and even got into basketball a bit. That was rough.

The players and owners finally agreed to a deal, and the season’s back. I’m excited, and it seems a lot of other people are too. But how amazing is it that these fans, these customers of a product, are so willing to come back.

Would you go back to do business with a company that has shut down three times in the last 15 years?

That kind of loyalty amazes me, but I realized something amazing during this lockout: These teams are brands, and some people have been customers of this brand for all of their lives. There are customers out there who will do business with brands regardless of issues surrounding that brand.

There are many people who have said they’ll boycott this season, and won’t buy tickets to games. That’s fine with me. I’m sticking with my solution, and won’t be buying any NHL stuff this year, but I’ll be making purchases next season. What can I say? I’m a sucker for pro hockey.

Sports leagues are a totally different monster in terms of loyalty. I know that. But are you doing all you can to have raving fans like your favorite sports teams? I know there’s a message here. Let me know what you think.

Will Michaelson

Sales Associate

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re:member group at Digital Dealer Virtual Expo!

If you weren’t able to make it out to the 13th Digital Dealer Conference, you’re in luck! The Digital Dealer Conference & Exposition is going virtual December 5-11. In that time, you can check out the vendor programs and services as seen in the 13th Digital Dealer Exhibit Hall, and also experience the top ten educational sessions on demand 24/7 anywhere with Internet access.

We at the re:member group will have a virtual exhibit there – just click on us in the Exhibitors list! From there, you can check out Nate Sieveking’s session from DD13, ‘Treat Your Customers Like Dogs’, and you can even take a look at ‘The Great Differentiator’, the loyalty platform we’ve built to help our clients reward and keep their most valuable customers.

Every day of the seven day event a dealership attendee will win a free registration to the 14th Digital Dealer Conference & Exposition May 7-9, 2013 in Orlando, FL. It’s free to register, so check it out at! I’m available for live chat from 9am – 6pm EST on December 6th and 7th, as well as on the 10th and 11th. Come say hi when you have a chance!



(952) 224-8002

Loyalty Gone Wrong


I recently visited a local food establishment (I will let it remain nameless), which has been a consistent leader in its genre for many years. It has been a stalwart, rarely have I had anything negative to say about it. The restaurant industry is far from perfect, and I usually let minor issues go.

But this time, they pinched a nerve that has been tough for me to get over.

Loyalty is based upon the trust between a business and customer. Businesses know that their loyal customers will be there, time and time again, with the customer expecting to receive their accustomed experience. This time, my loyalty was questioned by an employee. This had me feeling a lack of trust, and that’s not what customer loyalty is about.

To sum up my story, this restaurant has a tablet located at the cashier, that customers simply type in their phone number to receive free items, and other rewards. I was asked by the employee if I was a loyalty program member (which I was). I replied “Yes”, and continued to head to the tablet to get credit for my visit. The employee then came out from behind the register, stood with my at the tablet and said “Well, let me just make sure about that”. His tone suggested that I was either a. lying, b. incapable of knowing my own phone number, or c. trying to somehow cheat the system. Either way, I took offense to this and have not gone back since.

Loyal customers should not leave a store feeling uncomfortable in any situations. When boasting your loyalty program, have trust that your customers tell you the truth. In the fact that they deceive you, that proves they aren’t loyal at all and not worthy of your business.

End note: People with killer mustaches can be trusted. #movember

Keep Your Fans Excited from Beginning to End

This summer has been a series of ups and downs for the hockey fan in me. On July 4th, I got to see my hometown Minnesota Wild pick up the 2 best free agents on the market, along with a few solid core players. In the weeks that have passed, I’ve gone from figuring out where the championship parade would begin, to accepting that the NHL may be cancelled this year.

That’s classic Minnesota sports luck for you: Fans get hopeful and excited about a great team, then something gums up the works and the excitement quickly fades. What a buzzkill.

Think about your last vehicle purchase, and the lengthy process you had to go through, even after you made the purchase. For me, it was quite like the high-and-crash I saw with the Wild.

I went with a friend and test drove a car. I was in love on the spot, and my logical friend saw the benefits in the car, as well as how well it was taken care of. The price was right, and I wanted to buy it then and there. My friend tells me to this day I was so giddy about the car in the salesman’s office he nearly had to slap me to bring me back to earth.

That was true excitement. Like ‘2 free agents to my team’ excited.

Then came the post-purchase discussions. Paperwork and F&I offerings. Excitement turned to impatience. I certainly understand the paperwork and after-sell is required, but I couldn’t believe how much fun I wasn’t having.

I know instant gratification isn’t always the best, and that you have to wait for some things. But why not make it fun in the meantime? While discussing paperwork, go over the great features of the car again. Get the customer even more fired up to be driving off the lot. My overall emotion after the purchase was relief after it was done. I was excited, sure, but also a little exhausted in the process.

Now, obviously this is just one experience at one dealership. How about you? Are your dealerships ‘fans’ fired up about buying a car from you, or are they just fatigued by your sales process?


Will Michaelson

Sales Associate



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