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Friday, May 01, 2009
Volume 14 | # 335
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The things we fear most in organizations - fluctuations, disturbances, imbalances - are the primary sources of creativity. » Margaret J. Wheatley

Signs of Effectiveness

We swim in a sea of advertising each day. Most of us are pretty numb to it. As a society, we’ve become quite adept at ignoring or avoiding commercials and advertising altogether.

It’s for that reason that I’m always impressed when any piece of marketing gets my attention and makes me smile, or think, or remember something.

I had two such instances in two very diverse retailers recently. And their marketing tool of choice was distinctively low-tech. One was the new coffee house in town. The other was a Super Wal-Mart.

The new local coffee shop is called Minuti Coffee. Upon my first visit, I found it nice enough. It was modern and hip. It had that coffee-house “vibe.” Hip furniture. Hip people on laptops. Hip tattooed and pierced employees behind the counter.

After I paid for my order, I instinctively looked down in front of the cash register for the obligatory “tip jar.” Instead, I found a funny coffee cup-shaped chalk sign. It had a drawing of two cows on it and the message, “Leave the tipping for the cows.”

It was not a message I’m accustomed to seeing in a coffee house. And it struck a nerve.

We’re programmed to pay extra to the people who fix us already overpriced cups of coffee, whether or not they seem happy about it.  That simple sign made me chuckle and got me thinking that it was nice not having the stress of evaluating whether or not a “gratuity” was warranted.

The other sign that stuck a nerve this week was in our local Wal-Mart. Upon entering, you see a huge, attractive sign hanging from the ceiling. The thing has to be 12 feet across. It’s a nice shot of a young mom with her two kids opening a card and a reminder that Mother’s Day is May 10th. 

The “Oh, yeah” factor of that sign is huge. It’s eye-catching, timely, and delivers a quick message. I have no doubt that they are generating extra sales from it. What else can you ask of any marketing?

In our high-tech world, the most basic and inexpensive marketing tools can still hold sway. It’s not always about shouting louder than the competition but getting the right message through the clutter. 


Explore different areas around your branch (parking lots, vestibules, sidewalk chalk signs, etc.) to deliver your own timely messages this week. Big signs or small, it’s the message that matters. Are you getting yours out there?

Drafting Your Future

I remain fascinated that the NFL draft has become a big-time event in itself. More folks follow and watch the NFL draft than watch most playoff games of the other major sports.


I, too, get caught up in the hoopla. There’s real entertainment value in the drama that builds up before each pick and the immediate analysis by ex-jocks and journalist-geniuses afterward. (And Mel Kiper’s hair never fails to amaze and impress.)

It’s inspiring to watch the first couple of rounds and see young men (and their families) realize the dream of joining a pretty elite (and high-paying) profession. These are the young men who can pretty much count on making a significant, guaranteed amount of money right away.

But each year, I find myself reading the draft lists and wondering which players will prove the experts wrong. Because as exhaustive and scientific as NFL talent analysis has become, they still always misjudge some players’ abilities and capacities.

First round picks sometimes turn out to be total busts. I’ll avoid examples to save folks the pain of remembering their favorite team’s mistakes.

As often, players who were taken in the “afterthought” portion of the draft, or go un-drafted altogether, become stars. Tom Brady was the 199th pick in his draft. Joe Montana had three quarterbacks chosen before him, and Dan Marino had five. Guys like Tony Romo, James Harrison, Jake Delhomme, Adam Vinatieri, Wes Welker, Antonio Gates, and Kurt Warner weren’t drafted.

Peter King of Sports Illustrated explained it nicely. He said that with all of the analysis, and as scientific as teams try to get with their evaluations, they still have no way of knowing just how badly a person “wants it”. They still can’t measure heart.

We should all keep that in mind. The NFL has the most exhaustive talent evaluation process of any industry. They also have more “objective” data to analyze than practically anyone. When they predict who will be top performers, they’ve done their homework. And then even they can’t be sure.

Remember that throughout your life and career(s), there are always going to be folks more than happy to tell you who you are, what you are, what you are capable of, and especially what you are not capable of. But nobody but you can know how much you “want it.”

 You are the only expert on you.

Men are made stronger upon realization that the helping hand they need is at the end of their own arm. » Sidney J. Phillips

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