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April 2006
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June 2006

Never piss off a journalist

After all, they're just trying to do their jobs.   But who is a journalist?   In today's upside down world there is a simple answer.  Everyone is.   Journalist

Marketing is a conversation and everyone is listening and everyone is talking or writing about it.   It is imperative that you treat everyone as if they are going to write about you on the front page of [insert favorite media here].   

Magic Numbers

How much?   That is a challenging marketing question.   Given enough resources, we can use some precise mathematical models to figure this out.   Elasticityofdemand_1 But many times, we just do not have those resources to conduct extensive quantitative analysis.   

Enter magic numbers.   By asking questions of many different groups of people, patterns emerge.   And repeat.  And those are the magic numbers.  Pay attention to them and you can make sound decisions about demand and pricing for your product or service.   As you get moving into the market they can always be fine tuned.  But many times it is better to get into the game imprecisely than precisely miss the market window.

Blogging Basics

Today sat on a panel with Phil and Charley talking about blogging.   There were about 100 people from two organizations (with lots of letters).  Hotel_monaco_1 Basically there were two groups; pr people  and marketing people.  Of them about 10 were blogging, about 12 wanted to start a corporate blog and another 12 a personal blog.   A good start.    Phil has a great page talking about this.

The key message was being honest and speaking with a human voice.   There was some confusion about knowing if it was correct to start a corporate blog.  My point being if your company was interested in packaging and promoting a product and selling it to consumers, you shouldn't blog.  If you were interested in establishing a relationship with your customers and building loyalty between you and them, then yes, start a blog.  It's a great tool.

Another question about taking *so* much time blogging when you have other things to do.  Turns out this individual spends 1 1/2 hours doing email every day.  And some of it is informational in content.  That time could be spent blogging with greater leverage.

And finally Phil right away set up some tags for the group. 

The way I view it, blogging is a never ending cocktail party on the Internet with the most interesting people you will ever meet.

Transparency and Gas Prices

In our marketing conversation, transparency is a good thing.   Sometimes it's just a matter of telling the facts and letting people make their own decisions.

Which brings me to our latest "energy crisis" (which we've know since the 70's).   Prices are based upon supply, demand and profits.   With $3.00 gas, not much we can do about profits or supply.  But we can control our own demand.    Back in the 70's the EPA came out with a procedure to compare different vehicles based on their standard assumptions to typical usage.   Usage has changed over 30 years but the model has not.   Why?   Pick your theory.   Rather than offering a $100 rebate, perhaps customers would solve the problem themselves, had they the correct numbers.

Customer Triage

Interesting post on "Marketers Out of Touch With Customers", "Over one third don't have a model of their "best" customer or opportunity".  Wow!   With all the good analytics out there, there just is no excuse for this.

I like to break down customers into three groups -
1) Best Customers - Why are they happy?  Keep them happy!  Give them more.
2) O.K. Customers - Why aren't they best customers?  Change yourself.  Give them more.
3) Bad Customers - Help them find your best competitor.

Good Enough, Bloating and Semantics

I take exception with Tom's post on good enough where he qoutes Debbi Fields "Good enough, never is."  It's a matter of semantics.   Good enough does *not* mean average.   That's a common mistake.   So the knee jerk reaction is to figure out what the customer wants and needs and to differentiate, we throw in tons of not-needed features to be different (thinking we are now "better").  And then we have bloated products.    And no one buys them.  So management comes back and says make average products at a lower cost.  De-feature the good product.  And maybe we increase the ad budget.  And the death spiral begins.

Wrong, wrong, wrong!

The road to success is a combination of innovation (I agree on that) *and* elegance of design and function.   But, you need to bind the problem set.  Segment.  You don't want an 70% solution of 100% of all known needs, instead you want a 100% solution of the 70% of needs.  Which is "good enough".  And that 70% changes for each segment.   

But for that 70%, you need to innovate and deliver it in a new way to gain 100% of what that segment wants.

Let's use cell phones as an example.   Some of us (a lot of us) use cell phone to make phone calls.  That's what we want.  Business class.   Good voice quality.  Good talk time. Durability.  Image.

But just try to find a good, elegant cell phone which does this.  Not possible.   Some genius decided that only cheap phones should do this.  Business people need to run Windows on their cell phone and have a computer substitute.    And they crash.  There are no elegant, get the job done, cell phones available anymore.   Which is why I'm hanging on to an old Motorola CDMA flip phone with a metal case, hoping Cingular keeps running the old ATT -Wireless CDMA network and not forcing me into GSM.    Same with the old Nokia candy bar business phones.  They were the work horses.  And you can no longer buy them

Look at Scion.  Toyota understands this concept.   Mazda gets it too.   

Maybe we should too.   

The Killer Conference Product

I'm here at the identity conference.  One more day.  There are a lot of notebook computer here, and Apple outnumbers the Windows type.  (That means something, but not sure what).   Iiw2006 While in a session, I heard "excuse me, I need to put my arms around you." 

Turns out I got between her and a power strip.

Now if someone could come up with a mini power strip and a 20' extension cord, you could write your own ticket at any conference anywhere.