Monday, April 27, 2009

Are You Selling iPods or MP3 Players

Apparently our country is in, what experts call, "a recession." "Times are tough out there," is the message I continue to hear over and over. Whether it's a $5 footlong, a coupon frenzy, a "sale," or, God forbid, a going out a business closeout, we're constantly reminded, as consumers, that people are hurting. The conversation seems very price heavy out there. My question is, is that the message companies should be communicating?

I recently had a conversation with an associate I work with about our prices. This person brought up the recession, people losing jobs, the competition offering discounts, etc., etc. as reasons we were unable to achieve more sales. As I reflected on the comments, I admitted that our product needed to have a "competitive" price. That was the only thing I conceded when it came to discussing price. However, what does competitive really mean anyway? Is the price of a Toyota Camry competitive to a Ford Taurus? Is the price of an Apple iPod competitive to a Sansa? I believe we could make an argument that the prices are relatively competitive. Many understand why a premium is associated with Toyota or Apple, but they still may compare their products to other brands. When I was in the car business people would compare all sorts of brands to Lexus. One time a guy compared a Hyundai Santa Fe to a Lexus RX 300. Seriously.

My point is, your price is competitive or relevant to the individual customer. They will buy at a price they can justify a value for. If your product or service is not achieving the price you or your sales team believes it should, then is it a price issue or a product and experience value issue in the customer's eyes? That's where I'm going with this. I don't see Apple reducing the prices of iPods, and I still see Toyota getting a premium over Ford. Why is this, and why don't more businesses choose to differentiate themselves enough from their competition to achieve this? Even small businesses like dry cleaners and restaurants have opportunities to differentiate and really stand out from their competition. And having a better coupon or price is rarely that differentiator.

The next time your marketing team sits down to discuss the next big coupon or discount program, I encourage you to ask yourself why. Why must you feel compelled to offer a coupon or discount? Are you selling iPods or MP3 Players? Are you just a box with a price, or do you offer something more? Coupons and discounts are knee jerk reactions in an attempt to increase sales, do it enough and those knees might just give out.

Just another one of my opinion rants. Enjoy your day.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Twitter is for Nerds & Some Other Stuff

I've been harping lately about how lame it is for people to syndicate their tweets to their facebook status. Doesn't everyone realize that facebook is for your friends, and Twitter is for all the people that are as nerdy as you are about whatever it is you're nerdy about. This post will be my last word on the matter as I think I have now done my best to explain why everyone should just cease with this malarkey. Please enjoy this Powerpoint presentation explaining why you shouldn't do it, and how to remove the application from your facebook account. Enjoy your day.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

You Must Think of Yourself as a Musician

I was inspired tonight, and when I am inspired I tend to write blog posts. So here's the deal. I'm a Dave Matthews Band (DMB) fan. I've been to 9 live shows and appreciate what he (the band) does to entertain. Below I've embedded a teaser video he's posted to YouTube with a snippet off his upcoming new album. Whether you are a DMB fan or not, watch the video and then I'll expand on how he's inspired me in marketing/business.

After watching that bit I'm excited as a fan to hear the new album, but that's not what inspired me to write this post. Before I'm a DMB fan, I'm a marketer/business man. In watching this and thinking about how many songs and how much success DMB has had, I feel we all need to look at our businesses like GREAT musicians do their business.

Here's a band that has been making new music and remained popular for nearly 20 years. I'm sure many of you can think of plenty of other examples of bands that have been doing the same for even longer, but let's use Dave Matthews as an example. So what's the secret for these GREAT bands? It's really no different than a GREAT business. Outstanding passion, integrity, teamwork, innovation, and development (learning).

They obviously still have the passion for what they do, the fans continue to trust the message they are sending, they've been working together creating music for nearly 20 years, and I think it's the last 2 values that really make the difference. You must have the first 3 just to be in business, but you grow your business by innovating and learning.

With each album DMB innovates, but does not steer too far away from the core that made them successful. The fans love it, and they continue to gain new fans with the evolution of the music. When innovating your business, marketing, etc. remember your core. Most definitely strive to innovate, but remember what got you there.

With each year that goes by DMB pushes their music skill level and they also learn more and more about who their fans are. This video is an example of DMB wanting to learn from their fans. It's the interaction, it's the conversation, it's listening, it's learning. Get to know your fans/customers, intimately.

So the questions I pose to today are what are you doing today to innovate, and what are you learning from your fans (customers)? DMB has proven continuous improvement and innovation to their product/services (their music) has been a great success. They also have learned in order to improve they must challenge themselves to learn more about their craft, and more importantly, more about their listeners/fans.

How can you think of yourself/business as a musician? Do you think this way? Why not?

Thanks for stopping by and enjoy your day.