Getting Gas in NJ – Bad to Worse

Governor Chris Christie has had a busy week.  Sandy has pummeled his state and his residents cannot get gasoline.  Gov. Christie gave an executive order regarding gas rationing – “If your vehicle’s license plate ends in a letter (A,B,C…), you are only permitted to fuel the vehicle on odd-numbered days.” Numbers are allowed on even-numbered days.

The problem: All license plates in New Jersey end in letters, except for vanity plates. So on Saturday, most everyone in the state could buy gas. On Sunday, no one can. Or so it seems.

At an Exxon station on Route 40 in Bayonne, N.J., police officers and people waiting in line for gasoline argued over the meaning of Gov. Chris Christie’s order regarding gas rationing. “It’s an executive order from the governor’s office. We have to follow it,” said Drew Niekrasz, the Bayonne deputy police chief. “Even though it makes no sense.”

Janet Tysh, a Bayonne resident, was waiting in line for fuel for her generator and had planned to get gas for her car on Sunday. When she asked a police officer to explain the new policy, he pulled the governor’s order from his pocket.

“What do you mean?” said Ms. Tysh, 61, who is retired. “Look at all these cars! Every one of their license plates ends in a letter! So the only way I can get gas is if I have vanity plates?”

Just when you think it cannot get worse.

Webman

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Multiscreening

So many devices, so little time.  So guess what we now do; we use multiple devices at one time.  Yes even men with trouble multi-tasking (At least that is what the ladies think) are utilizing more than one device simultaneously.  Watching/listening to the TV while checking their fantasy teams on their tablets or smartphones while also on the web, social and texting channels.

Digressing for a moment, heard the first song ever played on MTV the other day.  The Bugles – Video Killed the Radio Star – this was when MTV actually played music videos – Enjoy!

Last week, Google published some interesting data based on research into how consumers are using different devices together, called The New Multi-screen World: Understanding Cross-Platform Consumer Behavior.Headline for you90% of people move between devices to accomplish a goal. In other words, people may start reading an email on their phone,but finish reading it at home on their tablet.

Here are some really interesting statistics from the study:

Given these options, behavior has changed given the task at hand and has introduced the concept of sequential device engagement.  Here is one example.

Nuggets:

  • 90% use multiple screens sequentially to accomplish a task over time.
  • 98% move between devices that same day.
  • Browsing the internet (81%), social networking (72%), and shopping online (67%) are the top activities performed when sequentially screening between devices.
  • PCs/laptops are most often a starting point for more complex activities.
  • Tablets are most often a starting point for shopping and trip planning.
  • Consumers rely on search to move between devices.
  • We use an average of 3 different screen combinations each day.
  • Smartphones are the most frequent companion devices during simultaneous usage.
  • Emailing (60%), internet browsing (44%), and social networking (42%) are the top 3 activities performed during simultaneous screen usage.
  • 78% of simultaneous usage is multi-tasking, while 22% of simultaneous usage is complementary.
  • 77% of TV viewers use another device at the same time in a typical day.
  • TV is a major catalyst for search.
  • All information was sourced directly from the Google study.

What should a marketer do?

Optimize content for multiple devices. Consumers are increasingly accessing multiple screens in their day-to-day lives. It’s no longer enough to optimize your content for PCs/laptops. Mobile optimization on tablets and smartphones needs to be a priority. Furthermore, considering the popularity of sequential and simultaneous screen usage, it’s important for marketers to make their presence across multiple devices as cohesive and user-friendly as possible.

Context is critical.  Users will choose a particular device based on contextual triggers such as location, timing, goals, and attitude. Therefore it’s critical to understand how your audience accesses your content so you can cater your marketing strategy to accommodate those specific use cases and behaviors.

Getting more and more complicated as it relates to engaging your customers to purchase your product, engage with you socially, have a two-way dialogue with your customer segments and find new prospects that will respond to your brand.  To get great at this, think like your customers – walk through the device messaging sequentially and out of sequence.  What do you see?  Do you see a brand that is coordinated or fragmented?  Did you have an experience that engaged you with the brand/product?  If so, you are doing great.  If not, you need to figure this out.

Webman

QR Code E-mail Marketing

QR codes have become quite pervasive over the last few years and have been used in many ways to help consumers connect to an application, event, marketing program, sweepstakes and many other interactive ways.  So what is a QR code and when did this begin you ask?

From the contributing editors at Wikipedia, www.wikipedia.org, QR codes have actually been around for almost 30 years.  A QR code (abbreviated from Quick Response Code) is the trademark for a type of matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code) first designed for the automotive industry. More recently, the system has become popular outside the industry due to its fast readability and large storage capacity compared to standard UPC barcodes. The code consists of black modules (square dots) arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded can be made up of four standardized kinds (“modes”) of data (numeric, alphanumeric, byte/binary, Kanji), or through supported extensions, virtually any kind of data.  It was invented in Japan by the Toyota subsidiary Denso Wave in 1994 to track vehicles during the manufacturing process.

You know what they look like, but here are some ways they are being used!

Today QR codes are used for much more than their original purpose in the vehicle industry. They are used all over the world in retail, entertainment, and a variety of other commercial markets. With smartphone technology, QR codes can be easily placed on products to allow a potential customer to learn additional information in order to make a purchase. A picture of the QR code is taken with a smartphone and converted into data using a QR decoder application. QR readers can be found in all of the app stores.  This provides the smartphone user with additional information, such as different options for a product, where they can be purchased, a link to a company website, etc. Similarly, QR codes can also be placed on advertisements, whether they be in a magazine or newspaper, on a poster, or in a mailing, to encourage a possible patron to learn more.

E-mail continues to be a powerful force in generating sales and branding for businesses.  Traditionally, email marketers embed hotlinks to customers who are automatically rewarded with a discount or some other benefits by clicking the link.  This became pervasive because most consumers were interacting with e-mail on their PC’s.  With the rapidly growing smartphone and mobile market technologies, marketers are looking for new ways to bridge the gap between the PC and mobile devices to keep up with this changing consumer behavior.

Embedding QR codes that launch interactive mobile experiences within traditional email messages enables marketers to not only add an interactive element to relatively static email content but also create new touch points to communicate with their audience. The process is quite simple, intuitive and seamless.  The recipient views the email on his or her PC screen and, intrigued by the call to action to scan the QR code, picks up his or her phone and snaps it, which immediately launches a specific microsite, video, or other interactive content.

Not only is the recipient rewarded with this rich and engaging content and perhaps a coupon, but the marketer can now engage the prospect or existing customer to open a line of communication to create another touch-point for ongoing interaction.

And the revenue will follow………….

Webman

What I Like About You?

We live in a world that is consumed with collecting personal information about us.  Many companies have compiled profiles on our attitudes, behaviors, shopping habits, viewing habits, financial history, family history and the like.  Some of this information is used in ways that can benefit us, such as targeted promotional offers, loyalty programs, pre-populated shopping lists, preference centers to receive what we want and so on.

As you are aware, the internet and now mobile and social applications have also created a new sea of information about our behaviors; what we read, what we click on, what sites we visit, how we navigate when on these sites, etc.  So what information are these social sites collecting about us.  Well the answer is much more than you think.

Before proceeding with the statistics, here is a great song to start your day.  One of my favorites by The Romantics.

The information below has been sourced from Mashablewww.mashable.com

Some collect information you expressly give them, like your credit card and telephone numbers. Others gather data based on how and where you use their services. This might include anything from device and browser information to location intel. And some of it gets really specific — think about your last search query or ad click. It’s probably all “fair” game.

Depending on the type gathered, social networks use data to enhance location services and target advertising (now you know why that sunglasses website you visited three months ago follows you all over the web). A few social sites even share certain information with marketers and/or third-party partners — in that case, you are responsible for familiarizing yourself with those other companies’ policies as they apply to you and your information.

Here is an excerpt from an infographic put together by Baynotewww.baynote.com.

There is a lot of learning going on about you!

View the complete infographic at http://mashable.com/2012/07/20/social-network-data/

Enjoy the weekend.
Webman

Money Ball 2

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game is a book by Michael Lewis, published in 2003, about the Oakland Athletics baseball team and its general manager Billy Beane. Its focus is the team’s analytical, evidence-based, sabermetric approach to assembling a competitive baseball team, despite Oakland’s disadvantaged revenue situation. Sabermetrics is defined as “the search for objective knowledge about baseball.”

The central premise of Moneyball is that the collected wisdom of baseball insiders (including players, managers, coaches, scouts, and the front office) over the past century is subjective and often flawed. Statistics such as stolen bases, runs batted in, and batting average, typically used to gauge players, are relics of a 19th century view of the game and the statistics that were available at the time. The Oakland A’s’ front office took advantage of more analytical gauges of player performance to field a team that could compete successfully against richer competitors in Major League Baseball.  Big city teams such as the NY Yankees, Boston Red Sox and the NY Mets have consistently outspent small market teams over the years.  Oakland has been quite successful with this new strategy and many other teams have now adopted this analytical approach to measuring the impact a player can have on the team.

Major League Baseball (MLB) measures the average cost of attending a game as something called FCI, the Family Cost Index.  The Fan Cost Index™ comprises the prices of four (4) adult average-price tickets, two (2) small draft beers, four (4) small soft drinks, four (4) regular-size hot dogs, parking for one (1) car, two (2) game programs and two (2) least expensive, adult-size adjustable caps.

It is quite expensive for a family of 4 to attend a game.  The MLB average Family Cost Index in 2011 was $197.35.  The most expensive FCI’s in the league are the Boston Red Sox at $339.01, the NY Yankees at $338.32 and the Chicago Cubs at $305.60.  The least expensive FCI’s are the Arizona Diamondbacks at $120.96, the San Diego Padres at $125.81 and the Pittsburgh Pirates at $127.71.

With the exception of the Boston Red Sox, all other teams have plenty of seat supply that they are trying to sell.  The Red Sox have a major league record of 712 consecutive sellouts, with no empty seats dating back to May 15, 2003.  Red Sox Nation is alive and well.  Today the ticket prices are essentially the same for all games with the exception of promotional programs run by the teams.  But this is about to change.

I have recently been doing some analysis of sports marketing and came across a trend that will forever change how a ticket is priced for a major league game. New technology enables MLB teams to offer “demand based pricing” for available tickets.  We have seen this approach for many years with airline tickets and hotel rooms but now it is coming to a stadium near you.  Two companies are leading this revolution for sporting events – Qcuewww.qcue.net and Digonex – www.digonex.com.

The Oakland A’s applied advanced analytic capabilities to find the “diamonds in the rough” and out maneuver other teams for lower priced talent, enabling them to be more competitive with the big market teams.  Qcue and Digonex provide very sophisticated algorithms to analyze real-time sales data and other external factors to generate sales and revenue forecasts based on various pricing strategies. Once approved, price changes are pushed to ticketing systems which process the changes at the point of sale and across all channels.

How does this impact you?  For example, seats for the Milwaukee Brewers three-day stand against the Kansas City Royals in mid-June are all selling for about the same price right now — $12 to $51 apiece. But as those games draw near, the Royals will bump prices up for the contest that will feature Brewers ace pitcher Zack Greinke, who won a Cy Young Award while hurling for Kansas City in 2009.  As you can imagine their will be many “attributes” that will impact ticket pricing, either up or down.  These include former players returning to face their former teams, think Albert Pujols playing in St. Louis again, or a marquee pitching match-up, such as Roy Halladay against Tim Lincecum in San Francisco or a game that is critical to winning a division or wild card late in the season.  The flip side of this is that pricing for games without this type of hype will be priced more cost effectively.

Here are just a few of the MLB teams that will be utilizing Qcue’s service this season:

  • Arizona Diamondbacks
  • Chicago White Sox
  • New York Mets
  • Oakland A’s
  • San Diego Padres
  • San Francisco Giants
  • Seattle Mariners
  • St. Louis Cardinals

Get your tickets early baseball fans – Play Ball!

Webman

And It Makes Me Wonder………

Third in a series about why businesses fail.

If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow, don’t be alarmed now,
It’s just a spring clean for the May queen.
Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run
There’s still time to change the road you’re on.
And it makes me wonder.

As my old friend “Da Coacha” would say, classic rock and roll from Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’.  So what the heck does this mean for you small business.  Everything!

Growing up I had no idea what “a bustle in your hedgerow’ meant and after doing research there are a variety of “thoughts” around the meaning, some that are just not suitable for this blog.  So here are your options:

1. It does not mean anything

2. It means something really deep

3. It means whatever you want it to mean

Take the poll and let me know what you think.

For business owners and employees the question is what road are you on and is there time to change the road you are on.  You are the only one that knows what road you are on but you still have plenty of time to make the change.

Many employees are stuck in jobs, happy to have the work, collecting a paycheck and wondering is this all there is to work.  They go to work everyday wondering if today is the day; the day when management walks in and says “I am sorry, we have to let you go.”  You did a good job, but management is judge and jury.  Others have a job but wonder everyday, “what else can I be doing to make an impact?”  “What can I do to change the monotony of this job, my life?”

Many small business employers wonder the same thing.  “Is this what running my own business means?”  All I want to really do is what I love to do, the real reason why I started the business and not have to worry about marketing, advertising, social, Facebook, Linked In etc..  And they ask, “what can I do to change the monotony of this job, my life?”

Well tomorrow when you wake up, ask yourself this question.  “Is this what I want to do?” “Is this the company I want to do it for?” “Am I living up to my potential and making a difference in my professional and personal life?”  “Am I giving back and helping others be successful?”

Is the company that you work for providing you what you need to succeed?  As a small business owner, are you providing your employees with the training, challenge and ability to grow everyday so that they are not asking themselves these questions?”

Hey this stuff is hard.  That is why they call is work.  And it makes me wonder……..

Webman

Ignorance is…….

First of a series of articles about why businesses fail.

According to Dictionary.com, ignorance is defined as a lack of knowledge, learning and information.  The truest characters of ignorance are vanity, pride and arrogance. The recipe for perpetual ignorance is: Be satisfied with your opinions and content with your knowledge.

Ok swebman, you say this is a business blog, what does this have to do with business?  It has everything to do with your business being successful.  But why?

Great businesses like Apple, Google, Walmart, Intel and so many others that we admire continue to forge ahead and not only embrace the future but  define it.  They have no fear of the future; they require that their employees stay ahead of the market trends, try new ideas, embrace social media, test new technologies and disrupt their own businesses for the benefits of future growth.

Then of course there are many companies that are trapped in old business models, putting their toes in the water on new ideas, just to say that they are doing it, trying to convince their employees that there is a future, even though they already know there is not one, except for the owners and their cronies who will continue to bask in the glow of their former glory and continue to make money, be satisfied with their own opinions and content with their own knowledge.  They will sit around and convince themselves that they are still relevant and meaningful.  Now that is ignorance.

You know that they have no clue about what you are talking about and they are too lazy to actually learn.  They ask questions like “What does that company do” or ‘how does that align to our strategy”?  Not only do they not know but when you explain it to them they still do not understand; you know why, they don’t care to understand.

These same companies monitor employees e-mails, interpret them out of context, and then sit there, comfortable in their own smugness and arrogance, and determine if you or another employee are a threat to their relevance because you challenge their opinions and their knowledge.  And then when they feel threatened, they can concoct any story they want and find a reason to move an employee out of the company, you know why, because they can.

They do this to make sure that you do not disrupt their safe havens; do not challenge their self-indulged superiority, nor have to work any harder to explain to their equally self-absorbed superior what you were trying to do.  They just dismiss it and move on.

What type of business leader are you?  One that embraces the future and can lead people that know things you do not know or do you just squash innovation and beg for the good old days.  Headline for you; those days are not coming back.

Whether you are running a small business or a large business, it is time to wake up and embrace the current and future changes.  If you do not, your ignorance will make you irrelevant.