Friday, June 30, 2006


Does Size Matter?

BusinessWeek just posted an article about how small restaurants are competing with the big fast-food chains:

http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/content/jun2006/sb20060629_796149.htm

I remember independent stores complaining, in the 1980s, about competing against giants like Sears, Montgomery Ward, and JCPenney. Now Ward's is long gone, Sears is struggling, JCPenney has reinvented itself more than a few times, and Wal-Mart reigns as retailing royalty.

All along, the savvy independents have been doing what BusinessWeek describes--connecting with customers, building relationships, and cost-effectively differentiating themselves in unique ways. Although technology is giving small businesses a big boost, they're essentially competing on their smarts--as always.

Friday, June 23, 2006


Metrics and More

I'm impressed by the new book Marketing Metrics: 50+ Metrics Every Executive Should Master, by Paul Farris, Neil Bendle, Phillip Pfeifer, and David Reibstein. Here's a link to an excerpt on the Wharton School Publishing site:

http://www.whartonsp.com/articles/article.asp?p=463942

The authors suggest metrics for many important marketing outcomes that aren't necessarily measured as accurately or as carefully as they should be. Willingness to recommend, cannibalization rate, out of stock percentage, direct product profitability,cost per customer acquired, return on marketing investment--it's all here. Definitely worth a look!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Branding and the Umbrella

So what if Citigroup ditches the red Travelers umbrella? Citigroup is not sure it will keep even the red eyebrow version of the umbrella that graces the Citibank blue logo.

"Our branding initiative is an ongoing process and we don't expect to see an outcome for months," says a Citigroup spokesperson quoted in the Hartford Courant's story:

http://www.courant.com/business/hc-umbrella0621.artjun21,0,4035762.story?coll=hc-headlines-business

IMHO, who needs the red umbrella? Citibank's blue logo is distinctive enough to be recognized on its own--the umbrella is just another doodad. Let the umbrella go--and don't spend years and millions of dollars agonizing over a new doodad.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Does Green Lead to Green?

The clamor for green products grows louder each day--but it turns out that environmental friendliness is not the only (or even the main) benefit that buyers want. That's one of the excellent points that Ernest Beck makes in his Business Week article, "Do you need to be green?" which you can read here:

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_25/b3989601.htm

Customers want more than green products . . . they want products that solve a problem, satisfy a need, are priced right, are available when/where needed, etc. Being green can be a competitive advantage and can even command a premium, if customers understand the extra value. I'm willing to open my wallet if you show me how your product will help me AND how it will help the planet. What about you?

Friday, June 9, 2006


Down with Adware

Writing in PC Magazine, Robert Lemos notes that legal action against adware companies and advertisers is a minor deterrent because "the money is just too good." Read his article here:

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,1971927,00.asp

Ever hear anybody (marketer or consumer) singing the praises of adware? I didn't think so. The Center for Democracy and Technology has been trying something new: listing the names of companies whose ads have been disseminated by adware. Its full report is here:

http://www.cdt.org/privacy/20060320adware.pdf

So what else is there to say except: Thumbs down on adware!

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

So many marketing blogs, so little time!


I've discovered many informative, timely, and well-written blogs out in the big blogosphere.

Below are just a few of my favorites, in no particular order.

Which marketing blogs do you check regularly? Inquiring minds want to know!

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Easier on the Wallet, Easier on the Environment

A movement to make low-priced PCs for world markets is gaining momentum. Although price is a key factor, it's not the only consideration. According to one executive, this new generation of PCs must be "smaller, cooler, quieter, and greener."

Business Week reports on the latest developments here:

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_24/b3988068.htm?chan=innovation_innovation+%2B+design_top+stories

In the U.S., the availability of very low-priced PCs could lead to many homes having a PC in every room, the way we now have a TV or radio in every room.

Do you agree?

Monday, June 5, 2006


The New Spirit of Pricing?

Ben Baldanza, CEO of Spirit Airlines, was quoted in today's Wall Street Journal as saying his company was "traditionally an irrational low-price player" but now it's "trying to be smart about pricing."

Like so many other carriers, Spirit is being squeezed by skyrocketing fuel costs. When it raised prices a few months ago, passenger traffic dipped--but profitability apparently improved. Here's a recent article (from Boca Raton News) about Spirit's new spirit of profitability:

http://www.bocaratonnews.com/index.php?src=news&prid=15438&category=BUSINESS%20NEWS

Having been involved in pricing a variety of offerings, I think this is the trickiest of all marketing decisions. Among other things, you must consider your costs--which are often the floor for pricing--and your objectives, such as profitability or market share (short-term and long-term, product-by-product as well as for the overall product line or company). You also have to factor in competitive offerings and prices plus the environment in which the purchase will be made.

The bottom line for the bottom line, however, is to know who you're targeting and how those customers perceive value. Is Spirit targeting family vacationers or business travelers? How do these customers behave? Why do they fly and what benefits do they seek? How price-sensitive are they? What are their alternatives and priorities? What costs are associated with delivering the offering(s) customers are willing to buy?

As a customer, I don't just look for the lowest price. Any airline that thinks I'd be willing to save $200 by flying from Boston to Calgary by way of Atlanta and Dallas (with 2 layovers in 11 hours) is sadly mistaken. As a marketer, I need to approach pricing decisions by starting with my customers, not focusing only on my costs. What do you think?

Friday, June 2, 2006

Quick, what comes to mind when you think of General Motors vehicles? Do you think of Cadillac (big) or GMC (bigger)? What about the Ford brand--does the venerable Explorer SUV flash in front of your mind's eye?

My associations may not be the same as yours, of course, but with gas over 3 bucks a gallon, I don't link GM or Ford with the increasingly compelling benefit of fuel efficiency. In fact, my strongest connections are with the (many) recent price promotions.

Business Week reports that sales of U.S. auto brands were down in May and the immediate future might be "a summer selldown of 2006 models that could force cutthroat discounting, especially to move increasingly unfashionable and impractical SUVs and trucks." Exactly. See the whole story at:

http://www.businessweek.com/autos/content/jun2006/bw20060602_694040.htm

So what does your brand stand for? If you're an automaker, fuel efficiency is much more important than ever. (I don't know anybody who wants to relive the 1970s nightmare of block-long gas lines and even/odd fill-up days.) The brand must give me what I value: not just good gas mileage but also high quality, a bit of style, and a lot of safety. Not all customers define value in the same way, but the brand has to promise and deliver what the market wants. It's a brand, brand, brand, brand world.

Thursday, June 1, 2006

The future, according to Boeing and Airbus

Calling all marketers: which future vision of the airline business do you think will become reality? Airbus and Boeing disagree on what airlines and passengers will want in the coming years--and I sure hope Boeing has it right.

Airbus thinks I'll want to be one of 500 (maybe even 800!) passengers squeezed onto a gigantic super-jet, flying from one hub-city bottleneck to another before finally boarding a regional jet to my actual destination.

Boeing believes the market is moving toward smaller, lighter jets for long-distance point-to-point flights. These planes won't be tiny by any means; I suspect I'll be with some 300 other passengers but at least I'm less likely to be flying from New York to Atlanta with a stop or so in, say, Detroit or Chicago.


Clearly fuel efficiency plays a major role in which jets an airline decides to buy. Boeing seems to have thought of that, too, by using more lightweight composite materials.

What does this have to do with marketing? When writing a marketing plan, it's important to keep the customer experience in mind. And on customer experience alone, the winner is . . . Boeing. I don't know about you, but I'd even pay a bit more to bypass those crowded hubs and fly non-stop to my destination, if Boeing's vision becomes reality.

Here's what the BBC News says about Boeing vs. Airbus:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/5004380.stm

As a customer, would you want to live Boeing's or Airbus's vision of the future? If you were writing or approving a marketing plan, which would you include?
Please let me know!