Three Gazillionaires Share Wisdom with ISPA Audience
By Susie Ellis, SpaFinder Insider
Am in Austin, Texas, at the annual International Spa Association (ISPA) event. While there are fewer attendees this year, the mood is very congenial and people seem to be enjoying a more intimate setting.
This year there are two especially outstanding sessions. Along with Lance Armstrong, who will be speaking later this morning, yesterday’s afternoon general session was inspiring and included a lot of laughs. Titled “The Power Panel, Trends, Marketing and Branding,” it included:
1. Guy Kawasaki, previous Apple big-wig and current venture capitalist
2. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, which was just bought by Amazon for 1 Billion!
3. Jeremy Gutsche, founder of www.trendhunter.com, known for being “at the forefront of cool”
I took some notes as the guys bounced ideas back-and-forth and answered questions submitted prior to the session and am sharing some of the tidbits I found particularly interesting. Comments in italics are my added thoughts.
What would a spa look like that was created by your brand?
Something that would really serve the consumer. Perhaps helping simplify their life in some way. For example, get a massage while your car is being detailed.
Something unique. What makes something so interesting that it spreads like crazy, both online and offline. Something where people say, “I have to tell someone about this!” For example, take your pet to the spa with you and each get services.
Combine some things. Maybe a pedicure and Twitter and call it TwaSpa. Or Twitter and tanning and call it Twans. Or Twitter and sauna and call it Twauna.
Discussion about brands, marketing, books.
- Sometimes you need to create your own new category. For example, instead of a regular circus or even an “advanced” circus, we got Cirque de Soleil. Imagine your offering in a new way.
- “Nobodies are the new somebodies.”
- Recommended Books: How Brands Become Icons: The Principles of Cultural Branding by Holt (Think Harley Davidson); Peak by Chip Conley; Tribal Leadership by Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-Wright
- Don’t speak to the consumer, speak with them. For example, the campaign for anti-littering in Texas found that young men who drove trucks and had a very macho self-image littered the most. Instead of traditionally addressing those who litter, the advertisement that worked had the line “Don’t Mess with Texas.”
- Try talking with your audience in their language.
- Endeavor to embrace a set of emotions that move people toward the positive or away from the negative. Ask yourself, what emotions do you want to own?
- Think on three levels (from Chip Conley, who owns a unique hotel chain)
Basic Level: Give them a bed, safety, etc.
Second Level: Give good customer service
Third Level: Give that extra feeling (leave my hotel and you will feel like a rock
star, or an Olympian, etc)
- Be careful about how you define yourself. For example, Zappos isn’t about shoes. It is about customer service.
- Perhaps spas aren’t just about massages and facials. They are about relaxation, or about touching people’s lives, or possibly about transformation.
- If spas are about helping people relax, that’s probably why the idea of a bar with spa treatments, where you have a sense of community, resonates with people. This reminds me of “The Chill House” concept presented by the students at the Global Spa Summit 2009.
Question: Should our industry be using the term luxury in our spas and in our advertising and communications today?
- “Trying to hide the word luxury makes you look more guilty.”
- If you position spa as “luxury,” then people will do it less often. It is wise to move in the direction of making spas more of a necessity.
- For now, see what people are saying about you on Twitter. While it gives you some good feedback, you also have to develop thicker skin because there will be some blistering criticism. Don’t pay too much attention to major critics or let them get you down.
- In a period of financial turbulence, some companies make their move. During the depression Kellog’s doubled their advertising budget and became the market leader, and remain so today.
Question: How can you predict the next big thing?
- Although it’s impossible to have a formula for doing so, think about making a list of things “that will never work.” Some ideas on that list might be contenders.
- A suggestion: On Twitter, post “In one hour ABC spa has an opening for a free manicure.” or “A 50% massage at XYZ. ”
- Think about giving something away for free every day. Or give something away for free, if you know a code.
- At Zappos they have an intense training program and after people complete the program, they are offered $2,000 to not work at Zappos. This way they weed out the people who aren’t really passionate about Zappos. About 3% take the money.
- Zappos isn’t about shoes. It is about customer service. Therefore he can foresee a Zappos Airline (with the best customer service), or a Zappos Car Dealership (cool customer service). Similar to the way Virgin developed as a brand.
Question: Looking back, what would you do differently?
- Zappos: I should have established core values with my company sooner. That way I could have hired and fired on the basis of whether or not people are living up to those values. If employees understand your core values, then they can make better decisions. There is a difference between managing and leading.
To be a better leader, train people regarding your core values, so you can rely on them to make wise decisions.
- Example: Someone suggested to the head of Southwest that they should offer fresh salads on board. The head of Southwest just said these three words: “Low Cost Airline.” That pretty much answered the question about whether this was a good idea.
- Luck is about being open to new ideas.
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