Wednesday, June 29, 2016

ASSUME Makes an ASS out of U and ME!

If we aren’t careful, being in the event business can lead to a life of “gotchas.” Never mind that we have tons of expertise. Murphy’s Law rules. I was reminded the other day of one of my gotchas. It was one of the most valuable lessons that I learned in the earlier years at Extraordinary Events. However, like all lessons learned, it can also be a lesson forgotten… until reminded… and therein lies the rub.

Lesson One: We had been hired to come up with an innovative method for Los Angeles to present its bid to The Democratic National Committee to host the convention (which incidentally L.A. won). So, here’s our presentation at the South Hall Lobby of the Los Angeles Convention Center.

The DNC arrived by limo into an empty convention hall. Committee members walked a red carpet which led them to a loooong balloon wall that spelled out Los Angeles. Where were they supposed to go?

With a rousing fanfare of unseen herald trumpets, the balloon wall burst open in one magical explosion and revealed the entry to the South Hall Lobby where a long line of faux paparazzi applauded them into the hall. Down an escalator they went to join the executives and VIPs of the Los Angeles Visitors and Convention Bureau and the city. Music. Morning fare. Very nice. And angels, lots of them. And then… from 400 feet overhead, accompanied by a beautiful piece of ethereal music, an angel descended and performed an aerial ballet until she landed at the feet of the DNC members and handed them Los Angeles’ bid. Magically, she arose again to disappear 400 feet above. It was a moment that the press wrote about and photographed for print and live television.

But, that’s not all they wrote! They also wrote about the angels that were already in the room, and herein is our story.

We had specified to our talent coordinator that we wanted a room of angels to circulate. I had great faith in his judgment. But I should have said, “Describe every person and every costume,” but I didn’t. So here’s what I got. One angel was in scarlet red lingerie and sequined wings. Another wore a Frederick’s of Hollywood black bustier with black feather wings (think whips and chains angel), and it went on from there. Yep, there was plenty about which to write!

Lesson Two: Years had passed since Lesson One. We were hired to produce a major, no holds barred, community event for what turned out to be hundreds of thousands of people, and at the last minute the client requested dancers to accompany the D.J.

I guess my interpretation of “dancer” and the local talent producer’s definition were polar opposites. His was “bump and grind” and mine was what would be appropriate for a family audience. All that the dancers were missing was a pole, and oh yes, a lot of costume. I had asked to preview the costumes, and they showed me a sample of one, which though sexy, was relatively covered up. My mistake was in not asking if all the dancers would be wearing that same costume. They were not. The others were bare…. very bare… as a matter of fact, too bare.

They had not been performing for more than a minute before my client on radio was shouting “get them off the stage!” and as the music was pulsating loudly there was no way for them to hear me until I had to physically climb onto eight different platforms and pull them off one at a time, with all of them resisting since they had never before met me and couldn’t hear me.

The Lesson
Never make an assumption. NEVER! Check every detail. Repeatedly. Ask for write-ups and descriptions. Ask for photos. And in the case of entertainment, check them out BEFORE they go on stage, while they are in the dressing rooms. Ask them to bring a variety of costumes so you can see what you are getting. Define what you need. What do YOU mean by “dancer”? Don’t ever feel too secure. Don’t assume! You know what that makes out of you and me!

Andrea Michaels is founder and president of Extraordinary Events, a multi-award-winning international event agency based in Los Angeles. Andrea is the author of  Reflectionsof a Successful Wallflower: Lessons in Business; Lessons in Life and an in-demand speaker and leading voice in the special events industry. She may be reached via

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Brand Promise... What's Yours?

Shep Hyken's words always educate me. Wiser folks than me have said that to find out what your brand is, ask your customers. I invite you to share your perception of EE's brand with me. -Andrea Michaels

-By Shep Hyken
What does your company or brand stand for? When you advertise or market your company and your products, what is the image that you’re trying to create? What is your brand promise?
I Googled the definition of the term brand promise and here is what came up first:
A brand promise is the statement that you make to customers that identifies what they should expect for all interactions with your people, products, services and company. It is often associated with the company name and/or logo.
After further searches, I found a few brand promises that we can use as examples.
Walmart promises “Save money. Live Better.”
Geico is the insurance company that promises “15 minutes or less can save you 15% or more on car insurance.”
BMW promises “The Ultimate Driving Machine.”
Some may say these are advertising slogans, but I think they are more. They are promises that the companies want to deliver. So, do these brands deliver on their promises?
There is little doubt that shopping at Walmart will save you money on the large selection of merchandise they have to offer. This is what they are known for, and I don’t think anyone could argue with that. The “Live Better” part of the promise is open to interpretation, but it would be hard to argue that saving a few dollars wouldn’t make life a little better.
Geico’s promise is very specific. It’s a brand promise that can be kept, because it’s measurable. You don’t hear a lot of people saying that they spent 15 minutes with Geico and only saved 5%.
BMW promises something a little more abstract. Can they really deliver the ultimate driving machine? There’s plenty of other car manufactures that feel they provide the best in class. Tesla is combining performance with an electric card. Mercedes promises performance and luxury, as do many other brands. It’s subjective.
And, subjectivity is what brings us to the point that no matter what you promise, you can’t control what customers think. It is their perception – their reality. You can only hope that what you want them to think syncs up with how they perceive you to be. You can’t argue with measurable promises, unless they don’t measure up. You can argue with abstract and subjective promises like providing the ultimate of anything.
In the end, it doesn’t matter what the company believes its perception to be. For example, we can tell everyone we’re friendly, but if the customer has a different opinion, what you believe doesn’t matter. It’s only the customer’s perception that counts. So, make a promise that intrigues the customer, makes them want to do business with you, and is a promise that you can keep.
Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker and New York Times bestselling business author. For information contact For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs go to Follow on Twitter: @Hyken

Andrea Michaels is founder and president of Extraordinary Events, a multi-award-winning international event agency based in Los Angeles. Andrea is the author of Reflectionsof a Successful Wallflower: Lessons in Business; Lessons in Life and an in-demand speaker and leading voice in the special events industry. She may be reached