Category Archives: Uncategorized

Inside Candidate URL Guerrilla Warfare!

Recently Donald Trump’s campaign acquired the domain for jebbush.com* and directed it to donaldjtrump.com.

This raises the question, what sort of campaign is Jeb! running when his staff hasn’t even registered his own name?

Classic domain warfare dictates scooping up all likely (as well as expected negative) URLs so you can control the message.

As it turns out, Jeb! is not the only one who has missed this rather basic tactic.  (the screen shots below can be clicked through to the actual sites).  In fact, depending on whether the middle initial ‘J’ is involved, The Donald missed a few himself.

—> http://www.tedcruz.com was taken over by a group promoting immigration reform, forcing Ted’s people to base operations on tedcruz.org (wouldn’t have been his first choice).

—> http://www.carlyfiorina.org was hijacked by someone with an axe to grind.  (spoiler alert: the last screen tells us it was 30,000 people – – all of whom had families)

…and Donald himself was caught flat-footed when he allowed http://www.trumpsucks.com to be directed to none other than Fox News’s Megyn Kelly!  Megyn punks Donald!

By the measure of controlling the URL landscape, overall, aside from the Megyn Kelly thing, Trump does pretty well.  He grabbed Jeb’s site (probably paid a squatter for it), and got ahead of a few ‘Ihate***.com’ sites, including some of his competitors. (see chart below)

Ted Cruz and Jeb! fare worst.  They don’t have their name.com URL and both need a less obvious URL for their base of operations.  Jeb particularly has been rumored as a presidential candidate for at least 30 years.  You would think he would have been savvy enough to get ahead of the game and grab his own name domain.

John Kasich, Bernie Sanders, Ben Carson, and Hillary Clinton have decided to invest in only one URL.  The others are somewhere in between.

Is URL control a huge deal?  Probably not – – someone who gets redirected is likely not going to be automatically swayed just by landing on an unexpected site.

But still, there’s something to be said for controlling access to your message.  Maybe it’s time for each of us to look at www.(your name)sucks.com and see what comes up!

URLMatrix

*in WordPress, jebbush auto-corrects to nebbish.  hmmm.

4 Simple Innovation Approaches for 2016

Year-end innovation reviews often focus on the past year’s cool new things. But coolness doesn’t guarantee big success (see: Apple Watch).   And innovation doesn’t always mean new things.

True innovation is successfully meeting your target audience’s needs in a new way.

2015 saw its share of new ways to connect with the audience.
In some cases, marketers successfully grew their businesses by figuring out new ways to connect with consumers with the same products.

So in an effort to suck the fun out of this simple post, The Armchair MBA has created a handy Innovation Quadrant Chart, with examples, to illustrate his point.

Quadrant 1

 

  • One axis is whether the product is existing or new, the other is whether the use or market is existing or new

The point is that while cool stuff is, well, cool — creative marketers can find meaningful growth with existing products or existing markets.

Existing product/Existing market

Geico-gecko

  • GEICO has had the same marketing strategy for over 200 years, and its ads are so ubiquitous that breaking through the clutter and maintaining awareness is a big challenge.  GEICO knows that no one will voluntarily sit through another GEICO ad, given the option.  What to do?

To address this issue, GEICO co-opted the annoying and often ignored pre-roll (the ads shown before the video content you are waiting to see). The viewer is thus ambushed with the main message within the first few seconds (“You can’t skip this GEICO ad – because it’s already over”), and the rest of the spot is essentially wasted (but still amusing) airtime.

  • GEICO gets in a quick reminder and the rest of the spot is engineered for viral use.

Watching these actors keep straight faces while the dog destroys their dinner table (after the first 5 seconds) is worth the wait.

Existing product/New market

McDonalds_all-day

  • McDonald’s has endured years of lackluster growth in the face of fast casual and burger competitors (e.g. Panera, Chipotle, Shake Shack).
  • To drive growth, they’ve streamlined their menu, added promotions, experimented with new products (revamped Quarter Pounder, Premium Sirloin Burger), and even tweaked their positioning (removing antibiotics from chicken, going to cage-free eggs).

But the most successful move so far has been Breakfast All Day, started nationally in October 2015. Apparently 1/3 of the later-day breakfast customer had not visited McDonald’s in the prior month, leading to McDonald’s first quarterly year-on-year growth in 2 years.

  • The jury is out as to how durable this growth is, but by leveraging tried-and-true products to compete in new markets (lunch), McDonald’s has reenergized the business.

New Product/Existing Market

bragi_the_dash_front_2x_1_2

  • A company called Bragi recently introduced “the world’s first wireless smart earphones”, called The Dash.
  • By eliminating wires they’ve solved a significant consumer issue, and by integrating a music player, tracking and communications features, The Dash is a formidable (and at $299, costly) new alternative on the landscape.
  • These earphones are unlikely to bring in new users, but these features are very likely to steal market share – – again, by identifying and solving an existing consumer need in a new way.

New Product/New Market

trackr-bravo-key-7b15fafca0f9abb0bc1dbd4579935a53

  • Finally, a company called TrackR Inc. introduced a product called Bravo, which is a coin-sized device that attaches to things like keys, and by using an associated app, allows the user to find these often-misplaced items. It costs around $30.
  • By applying technology to an increasing annoyance for an aging population, TrackR has essentially created a market of small, inexpensive ‘memory helpers’.

These examples are a very small slice of lots of creative approaches that were taken in 2015 to grow business.

The key for marketers is to understand unaddressed consumer needs (even if the consumers don’t know they have a need yet), understand what assets and barriers are at work, and offer a better way.

Quadrant 2

It is unclear whether anyone has yet solved the problem of helping you remember what you were going to get when you went down to the basement.

A Note To My Subscribers re: Links

To those who have subscribed to The Armchair MBA blog:  Thank you!  I continue to work hard to keep your eyeballs.

I’ve just learned that in some browsers the links I embed in my posts don’t show up.  Today’s post, for example, was all about some rather shameful WalMart TV commercials but for some people the links didn’t appear at all.

For future posts, I encourage you to go to http://www.thearmchairmba.com (bookmark it if you feel particularly tech-savvy) – –  I typically put several links in each post.  This way you’ll get every last drop of goodness from each post.  In the meantime, I’ll try to figure out a workaround.

www.thearmchairmba.com

Thanks.

Dave

Little League Whiffs on a Golden Opportunity

For most people in Chicago, and many across the U.S., this year’s Little League World Series rivaled any other sport in excitement and inspiration. This was in no small measure due to a few unexpected subplots.

Yet Little League, with a chance to embrace a unique opportunity to broaden its appeal, missed a golden opportunity in its TV marketing effort.

For those who didn’t follow the LLWS (which ended yesterday), two story lines completely dominated the coverage, and for good reason:

chi-jackie-robinson-west-fans-20140823-004 jrwcoverDJButler

1) A team of kids from Chicago’s South Side, Jackie Robinson West, overcame significant odds to reach (and win!) the U.S. Little League Championship game (falling short in the World title game to a very strong South Korean team). These kids, all African-American, are generally from less privileged backgrounds, yet showed how far a person can go, through preparation, determination, poise and pluck. It was a joy to watch these kids play, and they truly united the city of Chicago across all socioeconomic and demographic strata, a particularly welcome shift from Chicago’s more typical tragic stories of violence.  They are true role models for everyone, not least those for whom organized sports may be less accessible.

Mo'Ne 2) Mo’ne Davis, from Philadelphia’s Taney Dragons team, became the first girl to pitch a complete game shut-out in the LLWS, with pitches over 70 mph. For opposing batters, that would equal a major league pitch of over 90 mph (due to the shorter distance to the plate). Mo’ne’s heroics helped her team to third place overall, and created significant publicity for her, including the cover of Sports Illustrated.  For girls everywhere, Mo’ne is a fantastic role model.

These two stories elevated Little League to a meaningful place in cultural significance, with stories about opportunity, teamwork, dedication and perhaps above all, inclusion.

Unfortunately, during the broadcast Little League, in a continuation of its ‘I am Little League’ campaign, showed a PSA that completely missed an opportunity.  The faces in the otherwise well-done spots were for the most part straight out of Norman Rockwell circa 1950: charming kids but not a person of color, and certainly not a girl, in sight.  (I saw this spot but was unable to locate it online.)   

Here’s a fairly typical PSA from earlier in 2014; based on this past week, ‘I am Little League’ is now quite inaccurate:

In a world where organized sports for kids are increasingly specialized and expensive, there are too few examples of kids participating for the sheer love of the game (as opposed to a stepping stone to a pro career), or examples of girls competing effectively with boys on equal terms.  

This year’s LLWS was a tremendous chance to say “We’re Little League – – we don’t care where you’re from – – if you want to play, we want you!”.

So perhaps this year’s LLWC was two big steps forward, and one back, but at least it’s headed in the right direction.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to make plans to attend Chicago’s parade Wednesday for the Jackie Robinson West team.

Mr. Selfridge’s Philosophy is Timeless – And Still Valuable

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Originally posted on StratGo Marketing. Plug-in marketing department services.:
Photo: PBS.org Thanks to the PBS Masterpiece series Mr. Selfridge, viewers on both sides of the pond have been introduced to the world of retail marketing and merchandising innovator Harry Selfridge. In 1909, Harry Gordon Selfridge launched his eponymous London department store Selfridges, which today is…

The Final Mile is The Toughest

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One of the great things about online shopping has been the free shipping, often via retailer promotions (‘free shipping over $50’) or programs like Amazon Prime.

Isn’t it terrific?  You can be prancing around doing whatever one does when one prances, and should a random thought pop into your head like “man, I really need a Teflon fly-swatter”, you can just go online, order it, and before you know it, like Bugs Bunny waiting at the mailbox for his order from Acme, a Teflon fly-swatter arrives at your doorstep, typically in a box big enough to hold a microwave oven.

Screen Shot 2014-05-13 at 11.25.58 AM

Long Haired Hare (1949)

Well, you may want to get your impulse shopping Jones satisfied now, because the sad news is that free shipping as we know it is likely to be changing.  Reality bites.

This past week FedEx announced it was changing its freight policy to include not only weight, but also the dimensions of the shipped product.  This will result in increased shipping costs on about 1/3 of items, particularly large but lightweight products (e.g. toilet paper) that fill up trucks or planes but don’t represent as much revenue (or profit).

Similarly, Groupon, which also sells a few things from time to time, has increased its free shipping threshold from $20 to $25.

Why the changes?  Well, the short answer is that you can’t download stuff you order online.

Amazon might have the most amazing distribution centers, but stuff still has to be shipped with pre-internet technology like TRUCKS and AIRPLANES and HUMANS.  And the cost of fuel of all of these mechanisms is going up, as are fees, taxes and everything else.  Like a bridge that goes 99% across a river, that final 1% really makes or breaks the whole program.
– there are related impacts as well:  retailers will likely now need to stock more box sizes (to reduce over-sizing), which carries inventory costs.

overpackaging

SO – someone has to pay for these increased costs.  And ultimately you know who that is:  you and me.

It’s well known that there’s a high rate of cart abandonment – by one measure about 65% – -and that 44% of these are due to high shipping costs. (cool infographic here).  So retailers are loathe to add or increase shipping charges.

Shopping Cart

What is likely to happen is that costs will be increased throughout the system, for example:
– Shippers like FedEx incorporating package dimensions to increase fees (and UPS likely to follow)
– Retailers raising thresholds for free shipping (like Groupon)
– Retailers increasing prices in other ways (Amazon Prime going from $79 to $99)
– And plain old increased costs of merchandise to cover shipping

There will very likely be increased use of shipping as a promotional tool, but over time costs will inevitably need to increase.  There’s just not enough profit in the system right now.

Until some equilibrium is reached, however, you may still notice overt signs of covering costs – – like $50 for a $2.50 order of screws (actual cart total – – and yes, it was abandoned).  So keep your eye on the ‘shipping cost’ line for the time being.

Screwed!

Why I don’t discuss politics on Facebook

Well, why would I?

Recently started getting this request from friends on Facebook to make comments private.

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You may have also noticed stories like this about friends (and relatives!) unfriending each other because of something that was posted that chafed their backside (most likely involving politics).  I’ve seen posts recently from friends that made me think a lot less of them, and frankly encouraged me to stay away from them.

We’ve reached a point where we can broadcast pretty much indiscriminately, but haven’t seemed to figure out that this also requires a comparable amount of discretion.  In the days where we knew where our messages were going, we also realized that any consequences would affect us directly, so we acted accordingly.  If I insult your wife, I get a punch in the nose.  Social media has created the ability to spew behind the protection of a computer screen with no apparent immediate personal danger – – so people often assume no accountability.  But these people fail to realize that the implications have taken a different shape, and that consequences now shift well beyond ourselves.  Because of the ability to also share on a mass scale, the potential impact of any message rises exponentially.  In some cases it can introduce negatives that didn’t need to be there – – and as we’ve recently seen, social media provides a platform for any nutjob to express their personal far-out positions, but whose rants become convenient cover for other extremists’ real, violent agendas.

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So why don’t I share political views on Facebook?  Well, what’s the point?

– I probably already know who you’re going to vote for (and vice versa) – and in most cases I really don’t care, so there’s no need for any more reminders

– I’m not going to change anyone’s mind

– Something that seems funny to me can be truly offensive to someone else.  The amount of juvenile and insulting commentary posted by supposedly educated people is staggering.

– I don’t even usually have original content – – attaching someone else’s rant does not show how clever I am (usually quite the opposite)

– I have some dear friends who have different points of view – – sometimes really dramatically different.  But I’d like to keep them as friends.  If and when it feels appropriate to discuss politics or religion or this season’s hem lengths, I’ll take it on with them personally.  Where they know where I stand, where I speak for myself, and where what I say considers the audience and the potential consequences.

As for puppies and sports and catching up with friends and lots of other things, I’m still all-in.