Archive for April, 2006

Greed short-lived and possibly damaging

Tuesday, April 25th, 2006

Speaking of companies taking advantage of consumers, here comes AT&T in Ohio announcing it has graciously agreed to give existing (Yahoo DSL) customers access to its limited network of WiFi spots for a reduced price of $3.95 for 2 hours. Seems a shame they can’t act like true leaders and forge the way with free wifi (which is coming anyway–there’s no way they can stop it).

I’m wondering how many people still pay for wifi access when there are so many free spots already. AT&T charges at Caribou coffee houses, while almost every Panera Bread location has free wifi. Here’s a cool site that lets you find free wifi hotspots using Google maps (sadly, it’s only for New Jersey so far). Google is offering the whole city of San Francisco free wifi.

And here’s another example–Sun Microsystems is dying because its executives refused to see the tide–and disregarded advice to give their SunOS away as a way to stave off the encroachment of open-source FREE Linux systems. They were greedy, too, AT&T. Seller, beware.

Gas price whine

Monday, April 24th, 2006

I don’t know about you, but I’m a huge skeptic when it comes to watching the price of gas spike all over the place–seemingly by the hour. The Washington Post does a workmanlike job of explaining it all here: The Battle Over the Blame for Gas Prices.

Do you get to raise your prices every time your overhead goes up? I haven’t tried it, but I suspect my customers might be disinclined to honor any such attempt. We, on the other hand, are free only to spend the extra 10 cents a gallon driving somewhere else to try to find gas for a few pennies less.

I hope you’re not one of the folks who went out and bought a big SUV recently. I already take the train to the airport (what a savings in time and hassle), but the first time my pump rang up over $30 I went home and downloaded–again–the latest schedules for all the local bus and train routes.

A new corporate title: Chief Customer Officer

Monday, April 17th, 2006

Marketing is all about respecting the customer. And that means respecting his time, her needs, their mission. These days that can extend far beyond traditional marketing activities.

Today the total customer experience is important–people have a hundred choices for every single thing they want to buy so you’d better make ‘em happy all the way. And a lot of companies are focusing on individual customer profitability. Though on that one, I have a little hesitation. It’s alright to think like that when you’re building strategy, but you really need to go gently into that arena.

Here’s where you have to think doubly hard about what constitutes value for your customer–you can’t just go offering them any old thing to drive up their total purchase dollars. For heavens sake, this morning the U.S. Post Office clerks were asking harried tax filers if they wanted to buy one of those cute keychains on the wall back there! No, no, no. That’s an example of how NOT to maximize customer profitability–and probably annoy people while you’re at it.

If you’re familiar with the e-newsletter MarketingProfs, you know they offer good stuff. Here’s a 99-buck online seminar of theirs you might consider attending: Marketing’s Role as Chief Customer Officer.

Walkin' the walk

Monday, April 3rd, 2006

You know, there’s a brewery…a little local brewery…in Cleveland, Ohio that does some pretty cool things. Besides brewing their beer right there in the middle of the city–and taking people on tours of the place, and giving their meeting space to environmentally friendly and other nonprofit organizations for nothing–they’ve now undertaken to outfit their delivery truck to run on the oil they use to cook their restaurant’s french fries.

How cool is that? Kind to the environment, sensible re-use of their must-have supplies of oil, and a huge coup for their advertising. Some very smart people at the Great Lakes Brewing Company. Smart and savvy combination of being concerned for the world and offering a great product to help folks get through life’s challenges. Happily, some of their brews make the best-dressed lists in cities across the U.S. (just saw a couple of them among the 200 on the board at Quenchers in the Logan Square area of Chicago).

Amen, GLBC. Read more about the used-oil-fuel-driven delivery truck here.

Do it…or don't

Saturday, April 1st, 2006

Following the 7 habits of highly effective people has always been a major challenge for me. It requires that I focus sharply on one thing at a time–a thing I’ve found nearly impossible to do without some external aid. In these days of constant electronic communication, it’s become even harder for me.

So when I read that this guy who teaches people how to be successful in the Digital Age ALSO has to get on a train or go somewhere with no Internet access in order to work concentratedly on a project, I felt vindicated. We all love to know we’re not the only ones who can’t meet some standard. There are a few good tips in here: 5 rules to make your work day sane – Mar. 9, 2006. Now all we have to do is figure out how we’re going to make ourselves do them.

Always loved the 3D advice: Do it (which in the case of email may include answering the person to say you’ll get back to them at XX time). Delegate it. Or Dump it. Also heard of an executive who used to have 3 inboxes. He’d have his assistant put the oldest mail into the one he looked at each day–apparently you can eliminate a lot of to-dos by simply letting deadlines pass. After all, you know that if it’s truly important, somebody’s going to come and tug on your sleeve, right?

And another good piece of advice from a young woman who worked for me for a while before she went off to grad school: Try actually using your scheduling software.

Boy, some smart-aleck young people…

Blog about business blogs

Saturday, April 1st, 2006

I’ve been talking about the power of blogs for building business for several years. And I’m gratified to see that the mainstream media has finally caught up in a big way (nearly every major publication editor–and a lot of reporters, too–have blogs these days).

But even more gratifying is that more and more business owners and marketing people are beginning to understand what an important tool a blog is for engaging with your customers and creating a long-term, pre-sale relationship with your prospects. Literally, there’s never been a tool to match it. Newsletters, of course, are still essential tools–people like to be reminded that you’re there and you’re offering valuable information, tips, insights, and so on. So send out your e-newsletter and tell ‘em about your blog!

Now here’s a new blog about business blogs– He gives you hints on why a blog works and hints on the approaches you should take–whatever industry you’re in. Good stuff. In fact, it’s so good I decided to link to it in my sidebar.