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Sunday, February 05, 2012

Beyond Pay to Play: Pay or we Leave:

(Ed.note: In honor of the move of Spectrum Brands or Rayovac of Madison, I have republished the story of the "Cookies." ) Thursday, September 6, 2007 "The Cookies"---- a true story Tuesday, September 18, 2007 "The Cookies"----- a true story Years ago, one of my friends was the savings manager of the downtown Minneapolis Minnesota Federal. Minnesota Federal was a very staid old line savings institution. The two benefits of this job were the Athletic Club membership he was given to entertain depositors and woo new deposits. The other duty was to manage the depositors on "cookie day" each week. I think it was Tuesday. All customers were treated to cookies and coffee. It was great to stop off while switching busses and get a cup of coffee and one of those great chocolate chip cookies. I suppose I could have felt uncomfortable standing around chatting with the older folks about stuff----actually I loved it cause they always had some great stories, and besides....the cookies were great. Depositors who created a new account for $5000 or more, or added $5000 to an existing account got a wonderful set of stainless steel silverware. I can see it now in the classic wooden case. How elegant. Someday I thought. Someday I will get some of that silverware. One day I stopped in and there was NOTHING. What a shock. What a letdown feeling!! It had been a terrible winter day battling traffic on 35W and ...well...I really was in the mood for some coffee....and the cookies. What a blow!! I went right over to my friend, Mike, and asked, "What the heck is the deal, Mike? How could you destroy such a sacred tradition like the cookies?" Mike just smiled. Then he went on: "The stainless steel silverware was a reward for those folks that deposited NEW money. The plain truth is that we had a large number of present customers that threatened to take their $5000 out of the bank if they did not get the silverware. It became a blackmail game. The incentive just did not work. So---we discontinued it, along with the coffee and cookies." Over the years I have thought a lot about that incident. Things have changed. Yes I have learned how to make my own coffee. Mike taught me a wonderful lesson that morning. A lesson about Economic Development. A lesson about sales. Economic Development is about going out and getting the NEW money---not about being blackmailed by the old. The stainless silver cookware goes to the NEW. Thanks, Mike.

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