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Dan Kennedy: Being About Something More Than Chicken

Dan Kennedy

Dan Kennedy, The Millionaire Maker

Each year, the Chick-Fil-A restaurant chain, famous for its tongue-in-cheek ads featuring cows urging folks to “eat more chicken”, has a Cow Appreciation Day. Customers who come in dressed up as cows eat and drink for free. Anybody wearing anything with a cow pattern – hat, cap, shirt – gets a sandwich free. Last year, 400,000 people came in dressed up as cows.

The guy who started this chain was a bona-fide Renegade Millionaire. Even though many of their shops are in malls, they’re all closed on Sundays nationwide, because he believes in rest and time with family on the Sabbath. If a mall won’t let them close, they don’t go in the mall at all. Hasn’t hurt them. In 2011, at mid-year, they were up system-wide by about 12% in same store sales vs. prior year, the chain is growing, the company profitable. I believe it’s the founder’s son running the show now. I saw him on Fox-Financial, cheerfully and goofily dressed up as a cow, pitching Cow Appreciation Day.

A lot of people let ego, often undeserved ego, stand in the way of achievement. They envy others their wealth, but aren’t willing to totally put themselves out there to get it for themselves. On the other hand, a lot of people operate without underlying principles and a strong navigational system, so they are easily blown off course. The folks running this particular company have clear, firm values. One is that customers have fun. That’s something missing from too many businesses: nobody’s having any fun. The experience of being a customer is, at best, ordinary; at worst, terrible.

I like to ask business owners what their business is about. What they’re doing. Small-thinking shopkeepers always answer in terms of core deliverables. We clean carpets, we cut hair, we sell insurance. Slightly more sophisticated students of marketing tend to give boilerplate marketing message answers: we help people protect their financial futures. Executives at big dumb companies usually quote the vaguest of mission statements. But there’s little juice in any of that. At one point, Trump set out to change the skyline of New York City. Well, that’s something. When you tell people that’s what we’re all about here, you can capture their imagination. That has juice.

I set out in 1975 to introduce more people to ‘success education’ than any other person or company ever had, and I believe I’ve done that, although I’m not quitting just yet. That has juice. And it’s navigational; you can ask about everything you might do, is it fulfilling that purpose? It’s good to be about something significant and inspirational. Then, when somebody asks you what you do, and you tell them, they get that you’re about something interesting and will want to know more about it, may be interested in helping you, or being a part of it somehow, if only as a customer.

One of the essential ingredients of the Magnetic Marketing® that I’ve taught is creating something that is magnetic. Most businesspeople are thinking too much about how to sell their stuff – not enough about to make it and themselves magnetically attractive, so the selling of stuff occurs naturally.

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