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What Bathrooms can Teach You About Marketing.

Years ago, when I was the chief
marketing officer for a large bowling chain I was sitting in a management
meeting when the subject of business building ideas came up. As we took our
turns around the table to discuss and offer our ideas, I made the statement
that “Everything Is Marketing!”

Needless to say, the other department heads, in typical corporate man
style, put on their defensive shield and interpreted this statement as a
“power grab.”

I was shocked, and no doubt naive, about how they took that statement.  I
could have cared less about a power grab or becoming the President of the
company. I was doing what I loved and whatever would come of that, well;
my merits would speak for themselves. So I did what I could to first
explain my statement and then to calm their inherent insecurities.

What I said went something like this:

“Hey guys, if you will sit back and give me a few minutes to discuss this
with you, I think you will understand what I was saying is the present and
future not only of our business, but all businesses.”

I watched as they stared at me with arms folded across their chests and
hands over their mouths.  Their collective body language could have
stopped, the great orator, Daniel Webster, in his tracks.

“You see the customer votes with his feet. If we put out a bowling product
where the lanes are not consistent or the pinsetter has too many stops or
the food is cold and the beer is warm or the house balls are all cracked
or the roof leaks or the parking lot is not well lit or our people have no
customer sensitivity skills or the bathrooms have old and cracked urinals,
sinks and graffiti riddled stalls, THE CUSTOMER IS NOT COMING BACK…EVER.
Because all of the items (and probably more) that I just mentioned are the
components of our product.”


No one said anything and I watched as their arms started to unfold and the
hands over their mouths came down and one manager (of our facilities)
said,  “So that makes me a marketing guy right?” I said “No, you’re still
an A1 facilities manager, but if you look at what you do as being a vital
part of what the customer buys, the experience, the time or whatever you
want to call it, I hope you see why I said everything is marketing. He
kind of leaned in, smiled at me and started nodding his head and I saw the
light go on. I think he got it.

Years later, after the company was sold and I started my own kaploe
marketing group, I was pretty much able to tell which new clients and
potential clients were successful just by going into their bathrooms.

If it sparkled, if the corners were clean, if the flushes worked
automatically and the tiles and sinks and toilet seats were first rate and
spotless and the hand drier was NOT broken and the bathroom stalls were
clean and the toilet paper was easy to get out and full and the ceiling
tiles were clean, I knew that this new client or potential client had a
passion for making sure he was delivering a great experience.

And whether he consciously knew it or not, he was able to demonstrate that
the total experience was his product. And all of the elements of the
experience which comprised the product were the result of his marketing.
Marketing being "the understanding of what the consumer wants, expects and
is paying for and then giving it to him in an exciting, entertaining and
“WOW” way.

18 years later, the tell tale sign of clean bathrooms still tells me what
kind of a marketing mindset a proprietor has and how strong her passion is
for continually developing and marketing new and improved products.

And that is why to this day, I still say, “Marketing Is Everything.”

What do you think?

   Fred Kaplowitz can be reached @ 516 359 4874 or

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