Saturday, July 31, 2010

Simplicity Sells

David Pogue (2006) New York Times Columnist on technology speaks about the fact that simplicity sells.


Business to Business

B2B online


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

We are all in this together

Seven deadly sins of managerial communication

Communication Sin #1: Lack of Specificity

This causes people on the receiving end of a communication to have to mind-read or guess as to what is being requested of them. Details are left out or are at best, vague. The recipient for many reasons fails to ask follow up questions to get specifics and have to figure it out on their own.

Communication Sin #2: Lack of Focus on Desirable Behaviors

People are great at saying what they don’t want or what they don’t want others to do, but have challenges identifying the behaviors they want instead. Where your focus goes, grows. As such, people are getting more of what they don’t want because they continue to focus on it.

Communication Sin #3: Lack of Directness

This is where people in organizations go behind the backs of their co-workers, peers, bosses and subordinates with water cooler gossip. Another example is the leader who tries to fix a problem that should be addressed to one person but calls a team meeting to offer a blanket directive. A third is when co-workers tell managers the mistakes co-workers make hoping to make themselves look good at the expense of someone else.

Communication Sin #4: Lack of Immediacy

This is procrastination. This is when communication is avoided because the conversations are difficult and leaders don’t know how to approach the offending party, so they choose not to.

Communication Sin #5: Lack of Appropriate Tone

Ever had someone in a professional setting raise his or her voice at you in a condescending or threatening manner? How about responding in a sarcastic manner? These are just two of the ways inappropriate tone ruin relationships and trust in company cultures.

Communication Sin #6: Lack of Focused

Attention In this day of technology and multi-tasking too many office conversations occur passing in the hallway, while one person is checking/responding to e-mails on their smart phone, or talking to us while on hold waiting for someone they will likely deem more important once they come on the phone. This fosters disrespect and low trust in organizations.

Communication Sin #7: Lack of Respectful Rebuttals

This may be the most common, yet subconscious of all seven leadership communication sins. It’s the conversations when someone agrees or provides positive feedback in the first part of their sentence, only to be followed by “but.” After the “but” comes the other shoe and you end up feeling misled and unfulfilled.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Marketplace – complaints department

Addressing complaints properly can prevent a Marketing nightmare like this Youtube posted song.

United breaks guitars

The Key: Affordable dreams

But I, being poor,

have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

Yeats

Monday, July 26, 2010

The End of the Free Market?

A Righteous Rap- Marketers are you listening?

New Issues in the Marketer's Domain

As the future progresses and the internet is more and more ubiqutious issues like the one in the following video will be major problems for marketers. If the public grasps that a company is prepared to treat their own employees with such unfairness and violate the spirit of the laws of equality, the public will turn away from the company's products. It will be vital for marketers to have their fingers on the pulse of the company and its actions so they do not undo the good will and revenue stream.

Metrics in Advertising on the internet

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Free? How does that work?

Life long relationship in Advertising

The modern goal of advertising/ marketing should be to create a lifelong relationship and a bond with a product because it meets the need, emotional and phsyical of the consumer so well that they never wish to consider another product. That only arises out of a product or service that delights and surpasses expectations. To the manufacturer or supplier of the product this means an unending stream of revenue- A life long relationship. What marketing has put together let no glitch or error separate!


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Al Roth – Harvard Business School

Al Roth Al Roth is the George Gund Professor of Economics and Business Administration in the Department of Economics at Harvard University, and in the Harvard Business School. His research, teaching, and consulting interests are in game theory, experimental economics, and market design. The best known of the markets he has designed (or, in this case, redesigned) is the National Resident Matching Program, through which approximately twenty thousand doctors a year find their first employment as residents at American hospitals He helped design the high school matching system used in New York City to match approximately ninety thousand students to high schools each year, starting with students entering high school in the Fall of 2004. He helped design the high school matching system used in New York City to match approximately ninety thousand students to high schools each year, starting with students entering high school in the Fall of 2004. He is one of the founders and designers of the New England Program for Kidney Exchange, for incompatible patient-donor pairs. He is the chair of the American Economic Association's Ad Hoc Committee on the Job Market, which has designed a number of recent changes in the market for new Ph.D. economists. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Econometric Society, and has been a Guggenheim and Sloan fellow. He received his Ph.D at Stanford University, and came to Harvard from the University of Pittsburgh, where he was the Andrew Mellon Professor of Economics.«

Friday, July 23, 2010

Dan Gilbert – Errors in Estimation

Pricing Helping Marketers understand how many People make Errors in Estimation

Ray Anderson – Recovering Plunder

Ray Anderson is the founder of Interface, the company that makes  Flor carpet tiles and  flooring and fabric. He was focused on building his company and then he read Paul Hawken's book The Ecology of Commerce. Something clicked: with his company's global reach and manufacturing footprint, he was in a position to do something very real, very important, in building a sustainable world. Anderson focused the company's attention on sustainable decisionmaking, taking a hard look at suppliers, manufacturing processes, and the beginning-to-end life cycle of all its products. (For example: If you can't find a place to recycle a worn or damaged Flor tile, Interface invites you to send it back to them and they'll do it for you.) They call this drive Mission Zero: "our promise to eliminate any negative impact our company may have on the environment by the year 2020."

At his carpet company, Ray Anderson has increased sales and doubled profits while turning the traditional "take / make / waste" industrial system on its head. In a gentle, understated way, he shares a powerful vision for sustainable commerce

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Future with Pete Alcorn

Pete Alcorn has been in the forefront of several head-snapping changes in media over the past two decades. Starting as a computer-textbook writer in the late '80s, Alcorn became fascinated with the new electronic side of print. He founded NetRead in the early '90s to help book publishers work with metadata and understand the next world of e-publishing.


Since 2005, he has led the podcasting operation at iTunes, bulking up the iTunes Music Store's podcast library with thousands of free (and very findable) titles. Before Apple, he led the sale of ebooks and electronic documents at Amazon.com. In his spare time, he thinks big thoughts.

"Land nobody owns. The twenty-second-century enlightenment."

Public sector interactive ad

This public sector interactive ad is a wonderful example of teaching the population at large how to respond to a situation in which they are unsure if they can make a difference. Please watch.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Power of a Story and a logo (?)

"All Marketers are Liars" - Seth Godin speaks at Google

4 years ago

Seth Godin is the author of six bestsellers, including Permission Marketing, an Amazon Top 100 bestseller for a year and a Fortune Best Business Book. His newest book, All Marketers are Liars , has already made the Amazon Top 100 and has inspired its own blog. Seth is also a renowned speaker, and was recently chosen as one of "21 Speakers for the Next Century" by Successful Meetings Magazine and is consistently rated among the best speakers by the audiences he addresses. Seth was founder and CEO of Yoyodyne, an interactive direct marketing company, which Yahoo! acquired in late 1998. He holds an MBA from Stanford, is a contributing editor to Fast Company magazine, and was called "the Ultimate Entrepreneur for the Information Age" by Business Week. This video is part of the Authors@Google series.



Rise of the Prosumer

Prosumer


Friday, July 16, 2010

I am still a huge fan of Google. I love its business model and its social conscience. I do detect an escalating Apple Google controversy. Will it benefit or disadvantage the consumer?

Lays Potatoes on the Ceiling?

This certainly gains attention but will it sell potato chips?

Shiller- Important Economist gives his perspective of our times

Shiller Part 1






Part 2









Part 3

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Logos

Logo Fail: 10 Ways to Avoid Making a Creative Logofrom WebUrbanist by Steph


A well-designed logo is timeless, simple, memorable, versatile and appropriate. But then there are the hideous, the bizarre, the unreadable and the offensive (whether due to unintended double entendres or Comic Sans). The things that make a logo truly awful aren’t easy to define, but you know a bad one when you see it – clip art, raster graphics, unrelated imagery and poor choices in typeface. Except in the hands of a truly exceptional designer, these 10 mistakes will cripple any corporate branding strategy.

Uninspired Fonts
For the love of good design, please don’t ever use Papyrus, Curlz MT or – heaven forbid – Comic Sans in a logo. Ever. These fonts have earned the vitriol of designers around the world with good reason; while they may have their place in personal communication between schoolteachers, they don’t belong in graphic design of any kind, let alone the most visible piece of branding your company has. Overused and cutesy fonts, especially of the widely available ‘free’ variety, do absolutely nothing to add to a brand’s identity. They scream ‘amateur designer’ and make companies look unprofessional.

Stock Art
On a similar note, stock clip art that can be acquired for free on the internet or on very cheap CD-ROMs can’t possibly set your company apart. It’s not just that the designs themselves aren’t usually great quality; if potential customers note the same little sketch of a house on your company letterhead that they saw earlier on an informational poster in their dentist’s office, they’re not going to take you seriously.

Photoshop Filters & Effects

Outer glow, inner glow, drop shadow, highlights, gradients, bevels – all of these effects have their place. Used sparingly by a good designer – as in the latest Apple logo – they add a bit of visual interest. Piled on, they make logos messy and harder to read. Technically, Photoshop and other image editing programs shouldn’t really be involved in logo design at all (more on that later), but things like ‘lens flare’ just don’t translate well in what is supposed to be bold, graphic imagery.

Inappropriate Imagery

Graphics that are vague or totally disconnected from what a company is all about can kill a logo’s memorability. What, for example, does a dolphin have to do with a security firm? How is an abstract art piece that sort of almost barely resembles a computer going to remind people of your software company? The graphics, color and mood associated with a logo should have some association what the company does – i.e., don’t use primary colors and a goofy typeface for a legal firm. But don’t take that too literally – a car company doesn’t need to have a car shape in its logo, for instance.

Really, Really Inappropriate Imagery
Not everyone looks at images like those above and immediately sees phallic symbols, sexual innuendo or four-letter words. But in the interest of not becoming a tired Beavis and Butthead joke, it might be best to take a good look at the graphics in your logo to ensure that they don’t resemble anything offensive or inappropriate.

Fuzzy Graphics
Being good at fine art does not make one good at logo design; an image from, say, a watercolor painting or pencil sketch will more than likely look muddy, complicated and unmemorable when used in a logo. The same typically goes for photography. Does that mean effective logos all have to be spare, bold and modern? No. But it certainly helps.

The bigger mistake, in this case, is using raster rather than vector images. Raster images are made up of tiny pixels, and get extremely fuzzy when blown up. Vector images, on the other hand, are scalable, so they look good at any size. Programs that don’t deal with vector images – like Photoshop – shouldn’t be used to create logos.

Reliance on Color for Effect
One of the best tests for logo design is to put it in black and white. If it’s still crisp and readable, even on a small scale or printed in reverse (i.e. a white design on a black background), it’s a good logo – if not, try again. For optimal results, many designers recommend creating a logo in grayscale first, then translating it to color.

The Corporate Swoosh

After over a century of ineffective, constantly changing logos, Pepsi has finally resorted to the corporate swoosh – the bland, meaningless decorative flourish that says “I give up”. The corporate swoosh is safe yet completely disconnected from brand identity, except in the case of Nike, who truly made it theirs. In Pepsi’s case, the uninspired swoosh-in-a-circle even takes on a rather unfortunate connotation (as illustrated by a graphic designer). A swoosh doesn’t make it good design. It’s just lazy.

Unnecessary Complexity

For every corporate swoosh there’s a logo that goes way too far in the other direction, with way too much going on. Not only do overly complex logos tend to look terrible on signage and other places that logos are commonly used, but they are simply too muddy to make much of an impact. And when they’re reproduced on a small scale, they become illegible. The original Starbucks logo, the new Sunkist logo, and far too many sports-related logos fall into this category.

Unreadable Jumbles

If reading your logo requires squinting and head scratching, it needs some work. Take, for example, the controversial London 2012 logo for the Olympic Games. It takes a moment or two to realize that those big blocky shapes are supposed to say ‘2012′, and there’s absolutely nothing clever about them despite a bunch of hyperbole from the designers about nuances in what the logo means. Luckily, the Olympics don’t need too much help getting publicity, but if this logo were for a company, they’d be in trouble.

15 Creative Custom Company & Business Logo Designs

The logo designs that really stand out manage to combine memorable branding with super-simple text & basic graphics that say so much in such a small package.

(Found on Google Reader from the weburbanist.com)

read more at the actual website:  http://weburbanist.com/

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Power of Photography

John Quelch on CSR

This article was written by John Quelch of the Harvard Business Review in his blog in September of 2009. It argues for continued CSR during the recession.

How Corporate Responsibility Can Survive the Recession


8:31 AM Tuesday September 22, 2009

Corporations engaged in recession-driven cost-cutting are trimming or eliminating corporate responsibility initiatives. Though corporate survival is key and consumer skepticism of business CR initiatives at an all-time high, such actions are short-sighted. Now more than ever, businesses need to be saying "yes" rather than "no" to their social responsibilities.There are five key reasons:

1. Critical cross-border global issues require multinational corporations and their CEOs to lead in the search for solutions, recession or not.
2. Recession results in more poverty and exacerbates problems that national governments and NGOs alone cannot solve.
3. The global economic crisis has increased distrust of business. Corporations with a strong commitment to CR are better able to withstand the downdraft and put the brakes on increased regulation.
4. Employees are attracted to and motivated to stay with socially responsible companies, and want to see commitment to CR initiatives continue through tough times.
5. An increasing proportion of consumers are willing to pay price premiums for products and services marketed by companies with proven and sustained track records of doing good.

Despite these arguments, the pressure for CR cost cuts in the face of recession is often inescapable. But the companies most vulnerable to cuts are those that have not embraced and embedded CR in their corporate DNA. There are four progressive levels of CR commitment:

First, there are companies that see CR only in terms of corporate philanthropy. They find it relatively easy to cut their annual donations.
Second, there are companies that have integrated support for a social cause into their marketing programs. They are less likely to let go, as their brand equities have become entwined with particular causes. For example, the American Express Red card donates a percentage of the value of card member purchases to the fight against AIDS.
A third level of engagement finds CR considerations embedded in a company's daily operations. Qualifying suppliers, for example, might be required to comply with environmental and labor practice standards. Starbucks has long purchased more fair trade coffee than any other company in the world, while Wal-Mart has moved rapidly in recent years to catch up in its operational commitment to CR.
Fourth and finally, there are companies that have internalized CR values into their corporate cultures, mission statements and daily decision-making. The Johnson & Johnson credo puts the interests of customers, employees and community ahead of those of shareholders. In the words of former CEO James Burke, doing so "insures that the interests of all stakeholders are maximized."

The further along this CR continuum a company is, the less likely it is to trim its CR commitment in the face of an economic downturn. In fact, some companies are finding that pursuing environmental CR initiatives during this recession is helping them to cut costs and increase their CR budget without changing prices. Cadbury, for example, has lowered its energy input costs and invested the savings in a commitment to buying only fair trade cocoa.
A growing segment of consumers worldwide considers CR evaluations important in selecting among brands across a wide range of categories. In previous recessions, this segment typically shrank rapidly in size as price considerations became paramount. But, thanks to heightened public awareness of issues like global warming, CR concerns are now more deeply and broadly embedded in the consumer psyche. CR is increasingly a mainstream consumer concern, no longer the province of a wealthy niche.
Regardless of recession, some cutting-edge companies are capitalizing on the growing consumer interest in CR to both do good and differentiate themselves at the same time. The UK-based global retailer, Tesco PLC, has taken the lead in promoting its Sustainable Consumption Initiative, now being copied by Wal-Mart. Tesco plans to require carbon footprint information to be placed on the label of every product sold in its stores. Terry Leahy, Tesco's CEO, wants to make it easy for consumers to incorporate environmental impact criteria in their purchasing. As he says: "To achieve a mass movement in green consumption is to empower everyone, not just the enlightened or the affluent." Corporations cannot change the world on their own. They need to empower their customers to help change the world for themselves.
CEO leadership, such as Terry Leahy is providing, is essential for corporate CR commitments not merely to survive but to advance during the economic downturn. As David Gergen has stated: "More CEOs need to sign up as reformers."

This post is adapted from John A. Quelch and Katherine E. Jocz, "Can Corporate Social Responsibility Survive Recession?" Leader to Leader, Summer 2009, pp. 37-43.

An ad with visceral excitement

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Market Knows the Answer

AMD- The market knows the answer


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Friday, July 2, 2010

Sony demonstates and Explains its Advertising concepts

This wonderful ad is followed by an explanation of Sony's rationale for its marketing approach. The ad is quite delightful and experiential and the talk afterward is enlightening. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Vaughan Beal's IQ

In order for great company comebacks to take place many factors are necessary. The list would include: getting back to the basics of producing a quality product that people truly wanted, reviving a mystique, recognizing the stage of growth the company was in, understanding how to diversify, defending a core market niche, and modernizing technology and logistics. These are all important ingredients in the recipe but the key in every case appears to me to be a leader with distinctive characteristics.

Every time I review what I have learned, it distils to something that I was surprised to see in spite of my training in psychology. Every leader in had the qualities that add up to emotional intelligence. They did not just have the pedigree or the education to understand the events, the components and the business. They had the ability to understand people in a profoundly productive manner.

Beals was hired by AMF Harley-Davidson in 1975. He had a Masters degree in aeronautical engineering from MIT and he had several years of experience before he led a leveraged buyout of the company and became CEO. Thus he had both education and experience that could partially account for his success with the company.

By the late 1960s Harley-Davidson was producing only 16,000 motorcycles a year and their quality was poor. In a move to gain capital to build new manufacturing facilities they sold the company to AMF in 1969. While production increased relationships with dealers and customers declined further and the Japanese manufacturers were stealing market share without much effort. By the late 1970s it seems like only the company’s management and employees still believed in the brand. In June of 1981, a group of 13 managers led by Beals purchased the company from AMF and Beals became CEO. Together they resurrected Harley-Davidson.

But why do I think EQ was the magic ingredient when he had all of the other ingredients already in his mix? Let’s observe his pattern of actions.

The first indicator was that he was able to lead and inspire a group of people to follow him and put their own money, reputations and futures on the line to follow his vision of a gloriously different future for the company. People believed in him and somehow he also made them believe in themselves to attempt this daring manoeuvre when market share in North America was only 3%. He was able to identify people within the company like Jeff Bleustein who was expert in engineering and knew what needed to change and Willie G. Davidson who was a creative genius who would design the Harleys of the future.

In his first major coup, Harley-Davidson’s lobbying convinced congress to impose a huge tariff on Japanese motorcycles in 1983. This was a brilliant move to limit competition to ensure survival. The next move was to restore the faithful core to belief in the company. This was done with the grandson of the founder. His name was Willie G. Davidson and his role in the company focused on design. Talk about EQ! To bring in the founder’s grandson, give him a role in design at a time when design was not front and center in American business ideology and then to get him into contact with the customers themselves! It was a brilliant humane move. People love a story where the company’s founder is still at least partially at the helm. Beals wisely never tried to change Willie either. His appearance as a middle aged hippie was just right for the task at hand. The faithful love to hob knob with the ‘real McCoy’. Getting the designer and the CEO in contact with the common people at rallies where they were not just on display but actually listening to the customers who wanted to believe in the product and who loved the mystique was exceptionally insightful. Restoring confidence in the product and its quality was crucial. They drove Harley-Davidsons to rallies and met Harley owners and evangelists. They learned about concerns and complaints and even their ideas and promised to implement what they learned. Part of what they learned was what people were willing to buy. Slowly they rebuilt their base and encouraged their employees to contact the base as often as possible.

In order to make quality a reality, Beals showed EQ in another way. He and his executives went to the competition and found out how they did it. They did not alienate the competition, they were humble enough to go and learn in Japan and in Ohio. From what they learned they reduced inventory by 67%, reduced scrap and reworking by 2/3, reduced defects by 70% and increased production by 50% between 1981 and 1988. They also made product innovations to reduce vibration and improve the quality of the riding experience.

At a time when the big three auto companies were struggling with the same labour issues, Harley-Davidson again used EQ to change its relationship with its employees. They improved incentive plans, they added better employee assistance programs and benefits, they also increased the amount of autonomy that employees had over their own tasks and the quality. It worked well. When others were outsourcing, laying off and selling out, Harley-Davidson’s actions stabilized the security of their work force and reaped amazing rewards from it. This is clearly EQ when you swim against a current of accepted business practice to humanize the relationship you have with employees.

Business people who are high in EQ understand the need for savvy marketing. Beal seems to have understood this as well. Beyond the initial reference to his collaboration with Willie G., he led Harley-Davidson to branding the company logo on all sorts of products. Noting that the faithful even tattooed the logo on their bodies and realizing what an endorsement that represented, an entire line of licensed and logoed products emerged.

“One big hurdle was convincing potential buyers that Harley had truly solved its quality problems. To bring home the message, the company in 1984 committed $3 million to an unprecedented demonstration program it called SuperRide. A series of TV commercials invited bikers to come to any of the company's 600- plus dealers for a ride on a new Harley. Over three weekends, the company gave 90,000 rides to 40,000 people, half of whom owned other brands. The venture didn't sell enough bikes to cover its cost, but it made the point nonetheless. Many who rode the demonstrators came back to buy a year or two later when they were ready for new motorcyles. Today SuperRide is the only such consistent program in the industry, and so successful as a sales generator that Harley has a fleet of demo bikes that it takes to motorcycle rallies.” (Reid, 1989)

This led to an understanding of the “Rubbies” market of middle aged dreamers who wanted to be included in the Harley mythology. They came to buy one in three Harleys by the end of the 1980s when Beal stepped down. In that time he took the company from a deficit when he took over to over $39 million in profit when he stepped down.

So I have pointed out Beal’s EQ with government, competitors, customers, employees, marketing and peers. While EQ is controversial, it appears to me to be the key ingredient in the Harley-Davidson comeback and I can see it in the turn around of McDonalds, Continental and Proctor and Gamble. Not bad for a concept that has been considered a pseudo science! One person with the ability to understand the business and truly understand the people involved in the business can make a comeback happen. As demonstrated by all of the less successful leaders that came before them, no amount of technical expertise without the true understanding of the people quotient can make a great comeback happen.