Thursday, August 7, 2014

Chipotle Marketing: A lesson in increasing Qdoba sales

Marketing isn't rocket science, but it does require some thought and basic rules, such as:

1. Know your audience.
In this takeout bag, one of many to highlight quotes as part of their new campaign, Chipotle told their paying customers they should hope for the day when they no longer pay Chipotle.

2. Never devalue your product.
Money is how we value our products and services. Until we start using Gummy Bears, we're stuck with money. By saying you want your product to be free, you are telling everyone you don't value your product and neither should they.

3. Support your mission.
If you're in the mood to publicly espouse personal philosophies, write a manifesto. Your products should promote your mission. For Chipotle, that's selling food. Don't talk about how much you hate working to provide that product or service, i.e. food. At least not on your takeout bags.

4. Live in the real world.
Chipotle wants Communism. That's their prerogative. But, until they decide to close up shop in a democratic republic, money is required for their company to exist.

5. Focus on your purpose.
In this quote, Chipotle has not only forgotten their own purpose, they want everyone else to live without one, too.

And here's my last point, but this is exclusively for Chipotle:
6. Get a better marketing person. I'm available, but I'm very, very expensive.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Island Syndrome: Not A Good Place to Get Stranded

The thing that's funny when a single person gets sick, and I say "funny" but mean "dangerous," is that we can be quite ill, even delusional, and think we're fine.

Who's to tell us differently?

Fevers, for instance, can go unnoticed until a curb jumps out at you in a Walgreens parking lot when you've gone to restock your Kleenex supply. That's when you finally realize: 1) Curbs are harder to avoid than previously thought. 2) I'm quite feverish.

When I got home, instead of calling someone, instead of asking for help, I stared into space for awhile and then decided sleep could be the answer to all of life's biggest problems, including why my eyeballs were on fire.

An object in isolation will stay in isolation unless an external force acts upon it.

The oddesh thing about this whole scenario was that a coworker had just warned me about my tendency to go it alone only days earlier. A warning he's given me before. This time, however, he wasn't talking about an illness, he was talking about my scheduled move in a week and his offer to help.

"Don't be an Island Tara," he said.

For the record, there isn't an Island Tara. There is the Hill of Tara in Ireland, which is an island, and now we've come full circle. My guess? He meant that with a lower case "i" and a comma after.

The point, of course, is that I tend to do things on my own. Mostly it's because my life requires it. Sometimes it's because I prefer it. All the time it's because I fear dependence. Relying on anyone but myself usually ends in disappointment and me doing it myself anyway. So, who needs that? Not me. I'll take care of everything. I'll handle my responsibilities. I'll solve my problems. I'll move my belongings, right after I've purchased more tissues and nursed myself back to lucidity.

Except when I can't. And that, Houston, is when we have a problem.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
II Corinthians 12:9-11 
Delight in weakness? Other than the fact I can currently hit Karen Carpenter's low D in "A Song for You," I'm not feeling all that delighted. Weakness does not thrill me. It doesn't send tingles up, or down, my leg. It does not draw me toward it like the proverbial moth always panting for that proverbial flame. It is what I wish to shed like a thick orange peel so I can get to the juicy pulp inside. 

Weakness is my enemy. Or so I would have me believe. 

The thing I keep being surprised about by God, and I often wonder if He's ever surprised by me still being surprised, is how often knowing Him better means being the opposite of me, doing the opposite of my instincts. 

Survival tells me to handle things on my own. Survival tells me this is the wise choice. Survival says to pay better attention when driving in a Walgreens parking lot. 

God, however, tells me to unclench my fists, to ungrit my teeth, to ease myself right into the midst of pain, defeat, weakness, and failure and rest there. Without fighting it. Without struggling to the surface. To simply be there. Floating to the bottom. And trust Him to bring me out of the mire, to the shore, with fresh clothes and a hearty meal of grilled fish with a slice of lemon.

He says to be weak. And to delight in it. To be where I am when where I am has failed, and joy in it. To see the insurmountable and to acknowledge it as such. And then, in childlike trust, to ask for help. Specifically, to ask Him. 

My dad recently reminded me of a story from his youth, one where he very nearly drowned. He was age 13 or thereabouts, splashing about in a river with other friends, diving in with gusto, and only then realizing he was over his head and unable to swim. So he went down. Once. Then again. And again. The third time he succumbed, sucking in water and gasping for breath, he knew he could not reverse the inevitable. With the only thing he had left within him, he threw up one arm in a desperate plea for someone to grasp it. 

Like a child. Reaching out his hand in complete need. That caught the attention of an adult nearby who dove in and pulled him to shore. 

He could have kept fighting it himself. He could have decided he would overcome his circumstances on his own. He could have continued with the misguided belief he could handle it, but that's the moment he would have drowned. 

Instead, he reached for help and help reached back. My friends, whether we believe it or not, whether our circumstances appear that way or not, anytime we reach toward God for help, He will always reach back. 

In fact, God dives in to come to us because, I can assure you, our arms are never long enough. 

So about that weakness? As much as it pains me, my throat, my sinuses, and my feverish eyeballs to say, delight in it. Be grateful for it. Joy in the opportunity to be that dependent child. Even sing that weakness a song.

I know a Carpenter tune that would work great here.

Monday, March 10, 2014

I Want It Now: When You're That Bratty Willy Wonka Character

Satan rushes. God leads.

That's how the email started, which made me want to shut it. Instead, I read the entire thing because my first urges are rarely right.

It was a newsletter from Dave Jewitt, founder of Your One Degree, an incredible life coaching program that I have yet to finish. Your One Degree takes you step by micro step through a process, supported by your personal life coach, to discover why the bloody blue blazes you exist.

That's not exactly how their marketing materials read, but I'm close.

Jewitt, who I've had the privilege to meet on several occasions, designed his scripturally-based program to help people discover what God uniquely created them to do, who God uniquely created them to be.

When you can go in any of the 360-degrees around you, Jewitt's program helps you discover that one degree you were uniquely crafted to go.

And I really need to finish it.

When I opened the email, the first words caught me off guard. You see, in the last week, around 2ish in the afternoonish last Thursday, in fact, I decided to move. Literally and figuratively. I began mentally packing up my things. I had decided to forget this whole waiting business, I'm changing things and I'm changing them now.

And, don't misunderstand me, I'm not exactly changing my mind here. In fact, my mind already ordered a U-Haul.

But Jewitt's words reminded me of something that, in my haste, I had really wanted to ignore: I'm not the one ordering my steps.

Here's what he went on to say, "It is essential to 'give God space to work' in your life. In other words, take time to pray, listen, seek wise counsel, get in the Word, and evaluate the opportunity in light of your DESIGN."

My first thought was, "crap."
My second thought was, "I'll think about it."

photo courtesy of
When I want something, I generally want it now, much like Veruca Salt in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Any patience I show following the moment I want whatever I want feels like righteous bonus points.

Hello. I waited.

And if I have to wait a long time, as in YEARS, or even DECADES, well, heck, I imagine Job himself is up in heaven nodding and applauding my effort.

Ah, shucks. Thanks Job.

I want movement. I want things to change. And I want it now. Is that so wrong? And maybe "wrong" is one of those words subject to interpretation. Yes?

Patience isn't one of my better virtues. In fact, growing up my girlfriends and I often used the phrase "patience has ceased to be a virtue" whenever what we wanted didn't happen when we wanted it. Or in the days, weeks, months, or years following.

Not that what we wanted was bad. It was usually good things: health, direction, a job, a husband, a family, all things God imprinted in our DNA to want. But how we want them is where the journey gets stuck to the bottom of our shoe.

Like gum. Like really annoying gum.

What I want right now isn't bad, either. It's purpose. It's direction. It's settling the upheaval of my life into a neatly organized, alphabetically filed, corners folded in precise 90-degree angled structure. (I also want my name on an encyclopedic-like series of hardback fiction books lining every shelf in America.) In other words, the "what" of what I want isn't bad, but the "how" of what I want might be a twinge murky.

I'm not going to tell you to stop wanting what you want. If you've prayed about it, if you've sought direction, if you've wholeheartedly committed your life to glorifying God, then God Himself probably imbedded that "want" into your very marrow.

So want it. Don't ever stop wanting it, in fact. Don't let anything or anyone convince you that wanting isn't exactly what God wants.

But want it right.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to cancel a certain U-Haul truck. Or, at the very least, reschedule.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Jeff Gordon and The Ride of Your Life. Part Deux.

The first time.

The doubter.

First lesson: This is what they mean when they say "content is King." And the King drives like a bat out of hell.

Second lesson: Don't doubt Jeff Gordon.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Love's a Fighter Not a Lover

"Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance." 1 Corinthians 13:7

Love, I've wondered, may be made out of mohair.

It's warm, fuzzy, cute, and when you're wearing it, everyone around you and everything you touch is sprinkled with a little piece. Strands of mohair also stick to your lip gloss and love might do that, too.

That's the cutesy side to love. The flowers and candy and such. The fat, diapered baby with arrows. The rom-coms and date nights. And there's not a bloody thing wrong with any of it.

So it's cheesy. So what. Revel in it, my friends. Enjoy the ridiculousness. Life has lots of serious moments so never discount the lighthearted ones you're given. They are gifts, hand-wrapped by that same diapered baby, in fact. That kid really gets around.

The soft stuff, however, isn't what I'm thinking about today. Today of ALL days I'm thinking about fighting. Real left hook/right hook kind of fighting. No holds barred style. The kind that hurts and usually draws blood.

In other words, today I'm thinking about love.

This song by Switchfoot found me months ago on a day too heavy to live underneath. A day I was driving myself to the hospital, yet again, to get more bad news, yet again, and all I could think about was how I didn't have any fight left in me. I was tapped out. Truth was, at that moment I'm not sure I loved anything enough to throw a punch for it. Not even my own life. It was a day after a long siege of days where pain and struggle and uncertainty were the only thing on my horizon and the only thing scheduled to rise again tomorrow.

I drove, but I drove without hope. And that's when this song came on.

Life at that moment wasn't worth the fight. Neither was my future, my dreams, my faith, or my hopes, which had faded like draperies in east-facing windows. But I had no options but to keep moving forward because, in life, there's no such thing as reverse.

So I drove. And I listened to this song.

In the middle of nothingness, when I'd lost all purpose and heart to take one more hit or go one more round, God was showing up to tell me He, alone, was worth the fight. Not the life I had wanted but didn't have. Not the plans I had designed but couldn't complete. Just God. Just love. That's all I needed. If He was the only thing left about my life, then it was still worth fighting for. And He would be its Savior.

Again. Over and over, in fact.

During recovery, this song became my anthem. I played it quite a lot, actually. Still do. And on days when all I can do is put one foot in front of the other, I still put on my headphones, turn on this song, and put one foot in front of the other.

If this finds you in that kind of a moment, or that kind of a month, year, or decade, then all I have is one piece of advice: Love, all by itself, is worth fighting for.

It's worth pushing yourself forward. It's worth battling back all the obstacles ahead. It's worth facing fear. It's worth getting up and going through the motions, even when you've done it thousands upon thousands of times before. It's worth not giving up, not walking away, not growing cold or hardened or detached from the hope that things can and will improve, that God will answer you one way - one day - or another, that whatever in your life has died, you have a Savior who specializes in resurrection.

When you have nothing left to fight for, that's okay. Just do it for love because love will never stop fighting for you.

Happy Valentine's Day.