Saturday, January 31, 2015

Study is like a walking trail

I will be working with a lot of students this year. The students I have will range from 17 year old school leavers to 40+ year old senior managers. From undergraduate studies to Masters of Business administration. It's a great way to earn a buck - for four years now I've been a "freelance academic" and I hope there can be many more.

I walked the Waterfall Gully to Mount Lofty trail yesterday. I've done a lot of walks but yesterday I got to thinking about the parallels between doing a course of study and regularly walking a trail.

The trail is not your friend or your enemy
You might think of your study course - even your lecturers and tutors - as a friend or otherwise but within the boundaries of the course of study we're acting out roles. I have many ex student friends but we have always conducted the business professionally.

The trail doesn't love you or hate you
Just because it's going toughor well - the trail is not trying to create your experience. The trail is just there. Similarly, the lecturers are just trying to get through a week, month, semester. They care, but they care about you in much the same way as the other 200 students.

The trail is (practically) much the same for everyone
The same hills, rocks, trees, hazards. If your experience is different to that of other people it'll mostly be about you, or minor random differences.

The trail has an immense range of people walking on it
Seen the right way, the huge range of people you meet on a trail can be a joy.

The trail can be executed with a minimum of effort if you're prepared to pay the price
You can race up an down the trail and be back in your car withing 90 minutes. But you won't have seen the plants, noticed the yellow tail black cockatoo or learnt much. During undergrad I blasted through a few courses and some I wished I had engaged with more closely.

The trail offers some amazing views and experiences
Because if you're there to get something from it you can take a lot away, rather than just stamping your ticket.

The trail spreads people out but isn't the perfect judge of a person
You'll be towards the front or near the back, and all it says is how good you are on that day, on that track, at that activity. You area valuable person, and the trail only sees a small part of what you are.

The trail has hard parts and easier parts
Where sometimes all you can do is just put your head down and keep going.

On the trail the only way to fail is to give up
Turning around halfway has crystallized a failure. Until then it's just a success in the making. But in both bush walking and study it can be good to step onto a new track now that's what I call "failing better" and do it often.

On the trail a tiny step forward is still a step in the right direction
When I walked Kokoda, some of my steps were only four inches long. But I was still going forward.

The trail will always be there for you if it beats you today.
If you turn around early or fail a subject, the course of study will be there for you tomorrow, just like the trail will be.

On the trail everyone has their own view of what success is
Some people run the trail, others amble. We're there for our own reasons and we each have our own idea of what we think is a good day.

On the trail other people may help, or they may hinder, but mostly they're just there
Mostly, it's about you. You might make a lifelong friend on the track but you might just nod and carry on.

Study, walking a trail. Many parallels.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Dianetics and the IKEA effect

I remember once in Waymouth Street I was approached by a sales guy who asked me a few questions.

What would you like more of?
In the morning how would you like to feel at the end of each day?
What do you want from your personal relationships?

And after I'd answered those questions I got:

"So I will show you a way to get all these, come with me"

And he walked into the building. I think he expected me to follow him.

I think the sales guy was counting on "the IKEA  effect".

When you put some energy into an activity, you value the result of that activity more.

If you spend an hour assembling a bookshelf, you'll value it more than one that just turned up.


Thursday, January 29, 2015

IKEA does it again

Entertainment and leveraging someone else's mental cues. Brilliant marketing mind games.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Boomerang social media

"Aww, guys. I'm just trying to get a bit of positivity (for my brand) here"

But when you let the public play, it's a "warts and all" game.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Co-creation: A strong topic in marketing

The concept has been around for quite a while, but it's still a big topic in marketing.

People who know me are familiar with how I feel about the use of jargon - throwing a current word into a conversation with little clarity about what they mean by it. It's a little embarrassing to know of a training organisation that praises its students on their "use of industry jargon" but none that I associate myself with.

I do like clarity when people use words in marketing. A key rookie mistake is when someone says that "one of the great things about product x is convenience". You can expect a very quick "and what do you mean by that?".

So "Co-creation: what do you mean by that?".
In a very general sense it's when the customer and the person selling to them work together to make something. It's best that I point out some specifics:

Co-creation of customer value
If the customer is very clear about what they need and make it easy for the company to provide it. A person who customises their order on a website is particpating in the creation of value for themself.

Co-creation of user experience
Especially in services when customers know how to keep the wheels rolling to make the system work well. My experience at an airport is always better when the other customers don't dither - they have their documents ready, they move to the counter quickly, they all their gear into the trays before they get in the scanner queue, and that's before they even get to the gate.

Don't get me started on "amateur travellers" I'm sure that's why airlines have business class - to reduce the number of seat bumps, tray slams and early recliners in the section.

Co-creation of brand meaning
When a brand accumulates a community of users who feel a sense of ownership. For instance, Apple computers help define what the "personality" of the Apple brand is.

Content Co-creation
Social media has allowed eveyone to become a reporter. My kids probably get 50% of their screen viewing from other users - video grabs of other people's game play, people putting Mentos into bottles of Coke, their entire Facebook feed. My buddies who run a skydiving centre benefit from the uploaded photos that tag them - each week.

Retail is about being current

As a store manager selling shoes in 1991 my boss told me that I needed to keep the displays fresh. "If this was your store and you wanted to excite people into buying, you'd be onto everything".
I remember Gary Parsons' advice well.

So it's cool how on a marketing level, Krispy Kreme has managed it well. It takes planning to have a product all planned and priced out with suitable promotional material. Just a little clever.

The "total product" of a budget hotel

I've stayed in lovely hotels and I've also stayed in budget hotels. Hey - that alone is an example of why marketers shouldn't get too caught up on strictly profiling "our" customer. I suppose that's why Accor has a brand for each occasion.

Two days ago I was sleeping in a tent, three days ago a packing room floor. It's been that type of trip. So for some luxury and a hot shower I checked into a budget airport hotel.

And it's been a good example of the "total product" concept. The core benefit is "a bed for the night". People start to live in "actual product" when they say "at least it's clean" because there are no roaches.

Interestingly to me it was the "expected product" that surprised me. The lack of soft furnishings and design meant that the noise of other guests reverberated all around the floor I was staying on.

The Canadian girl's phone conversation in the hallway, the guy next door with his triple m top 100.

Oh and my pet hate of a shower rose I have to bend down for - taken to (literally) a new low.

Augmentations were few but hey - it's an $89 room. And all things considered, great value.

A miserable Australia day. Jumping got clouded out, some personal stuff back home, noisy hotel room. But an upside - fresh content for a blog post.

Monday, January 26, 2015

The best ads are not about telling big stories

Look at this. 15 seconds to do a simple job, while it has you..

If I was talking to my students, my question would be "what is the advertising objective?"

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Paint repairs: Getting to the true cost of a rental car.


This weekend away it made sense to hire a rental car. A current model Kia Rio - it's been great. And a good price - too - on the face of it. $150 for three and a half days booked when I bought my flights and picked up at the airport.

So I grazed the paint just then.


I know they're gonna charge me. The important question is how much, and how does it compare to their nearest competitor. As Ray Ramone's dad said - "that's where they getcha"

It's a marketing point. The price P is an important part of the marketing mix. I'd hate to have to change my preferred car rental company.

"Back in five minutes" is amateur hour

No matter how good the people are in the shop, there is no way a business is giving good service if it tries this crap.

The "back in 5 minutes" note is amatuer hour becuase certain customers will tap their watch and say "that wasn't five minutes" and secondly - you're a major retailer!

When the you guy came back because he had to move pallets of new stock to the shop he was lovely but the business (Campbelltown - NSW - BWS Liquor store) had essentially failed.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Aerogard sells benefits not features

Just as well Areogard talks about how good it is the have flies staying away. Only a fool would sell the feature - "this contains so much of the active ingredient that a fly wouldn't dare come near you".

Still to some customers it might sell. I remember when I went to New Guinea. The repellent I used there was almost enough to melt my face off.

I can't find the Aerogard "have a good weekend" ad. This is suitably cheesy.

Aerogard "Summer Lovin" TVC - AdNews:

Friday, January 23, 2015

Airlines and Car Rental Companies have Packaging too

When I teach intro to marketing I deal with the "product" element of the marketing mix. As a sub component of that we talk about packaging.

Don't get me wrong - my best ever sales job was seven years selling very expensive plastic bags - but packaging can include a whole bunch of other things. I'm tempted to suggest that etickets and electronic boarding passes, and sms reminders are packaging.

But they are probably more like support services. Lovelock's "Flower of Service" is a great way to break these things down and improve how clearly we see it.

But the overall message: to me this stuff is all marketing.

Old Rivals: Old Friends

I love this quick passage where John Nash comes back to meet his old rival after a form of mental breakdown. A most telling point is where Martin intimates that "Nobody wins" - and I love the warmth you can feel between these two men.

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Ice is all about selling the value

I am teaching a lot of Intro to Marketing this year. I have thought that "ice" as a product is a great way to think about customer value. It is a product you don't really need. With a tiny bit of planning, the ice companies would never sell a thing. Yet we still pay up to $5 a bag for ice, which is basically water + electricity + time.

What makes a bag of ice cause us to be willing to part with up to $5?

Hardware Wars: Masters is the same but different

I cut out a voucher I the last week of last year. I'd heard of a new entry to the hardware market here in little old Adelaide. In 2011 Woolworths had paid $430m for Masters Hardware and now we have one at the airport, next to Ikea. 

hardware is a pretty mature category. When I walk into Bunnings, Stratco or Mitre 10 I can find my way around.

So, to get me to try this new one, Woolies simply had to offer me cold hard cash.

I can spend $100 in one of those places without blinking. So it was worth the trip, to save a few bucks and check out the new player. And it was just like Stratco.

But they did have a better range of LED lighting. The same but better, I suppose. Still same enough that I'll not make the special trip too much.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

A simple research project on wine merchandising

I just saw this and thought of an interesting research question. Exactly the same bottle side by side although one is gift wrapped. Which one is preferred by the shopper?

It could be tested using two similar sites and the same label. Compare sales.

If it was an academic project there would be more front end on buyer's motivation etc - but all up, an interesting project for an honours student in marketing.

Nobody asks me to supervise these things these days so the universities (and their students) miss out but from time to time these research ideas cross my mind.

Never mind.