Saturday Journal section cracks up!

October 25th, 2010

Instead of one leisure section in the Saturday Wall Street Journal, we now have two sections.

Is it possible to ask for the old leisure section to come back?

“Off Duty” strikes me as a number of outcasts from shelter and fashion magazines holding the Journal hostage.

Yes, the carnation article was lovely on the cover.  Who knew?

But, I think the article on “Containers of Joy” suggesting the decanting of various groceries into lovely jugs was really over the top.  People have time for that?

I’m sorry, house guests, but you will see milk in the refrigerator in the original vessels.

Am I in a time warp?

September 28th, 2010

I know we have different customer segments with different technology profiles.  I know there are early adopters and laggards.  But this service from The Denver Post is a mystery to me.

I guess this isn't for the wireless generation?

If you have a cell phone, you have the time……and penetration is pretty high.  (Not to mention watches which are still worn by some boomers.)

Those with advanced phones like the Android or the iPhone often have a weather app downloaded.

And if you are home, you can easily glance at your favorite site on the web.

So, there is a decent segment looking to call and get the time and the weather?

What do you think?

Durability – delivering vs. claiming!

September 27th, 2010

Jeep now tells us that “The Things We Make, Make Us” with a fairly large brand claim to durability and overall quality.  See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mi0SbrrGaiw.  I truly hope they can deliver on asserting that they are of the quality of some of the finest American inventions of all time.

But to my ears, this is risky.  You are setting a very high bar.

Let me share two products that met that claim.  My 16 year-old Krups coffee pot which failed this morning.  Not that’s durability.

And my adorable tee shirt bought in Hong Kong 20 years ago which finally ripped.  Look at those colors after enumerable washings.

Two delivered quality and durability

Now that’s quality that I can vouch for.

Linkedin Here We Come!

September 13th, 2010

Attention all stray business cards:  you are heading into Linkedin or the circular file!

Hassles, puzzles and joy!

August 30th, 2010

My most recent paper copy of Fortune alerted me that I can now read Fortune on the iPad so off I go to check this out.

Which way to enjoy Fortune?

  1. Hassles:  As I have experienced before, big files like a magazine are quirky downloading.  You get download errors.  I never did get that Sports Illustrated issue downloaded and it took 3 or 4 shots to get the Fortune downloaded.  I have plenty of memory so I don’t understand the nature of the problem.
  2. Puzzles:  As I began the process of downloading the Fortune issue, I saw no mention of what my “deal” was going to be since I am a paper subscriber to the magazine.  Copy price on the iPad is $4.99.  But what is my “deal” since I am already a subscriber?  I emailed Customer Service with this very question.  And the answer came back that there is no deal for me.  I am one of the stupid people who is getting Fortune magazine and that’s my tough luck when it comes to the iPad version.
  3. Joy! As I have predicted in the past,  the iPad can be the making of magazines – showcasing more pix and video, keeping the issue current, making feedback easy etc.  And so it was, I:
    1. Enjoyed seeing the celebrity pix of shoppers at Trader Joe’s
    2. Found the video clip most interesting of Flipboard.  Brought the idea home in a more compelling manner than just the story.  (I’ll be exploring Flipboard further in later blog posts.)
    3. Relished seeing the actual examples of Salman Khan’s tutorials which really brought home the article, “Bill Gates’ Favorite Teacher”.  (Ooops, slight pause in composing this blog while I listen to the post about the French revolution.)
    4. Reflected on how times change when I looked over the pictures and timeline for Lehman Brothers over 100 years, including their assistance “some time ago” to a small retailer named Sears!

I’m looking forward to more magazines online and the offers they make to their print subscribers to make it a true multimedia experience.

Bus schedule – promising mobile app, but needs work

August 26th, 2010

Cruising around town on the bus this week.

Got the bus schedule mobile site to check times on the Droid.

You’re able to press a button, engage your GPS and find the nearest bus stop.

I did this standing under the bus stop sign and it replied no bus stop within a 1/4 mile.

Hmmm.

But I liked the functionality that tells you the time of the next three buses.

A B2C marketing vignette

August 21st, 2010

As our readers know, we’ve been commenting on the iPad and key strategic events at industrial giants like Apple, GM, Tribune and others.

But, this morning we turn our attention to how marketing applies to small businesses right here near the office.

The Crock Spot at the Farmers’ Market.

I happened to try this at a food fair recently and thought the food was delicious.

Why are there no people?

They have a booth at our busiest Farmers Market and are the nicest folks….but I wonder how long they will last as they don’t seem to do the business that other food booths do.

First, I thought it was the brand name – Crock Spot.  I guess the food is cooked in crock pots, but what you see if a conventional set-up with pans sitting over hot water.  No crock pots.  And then, as a marketer, I take issue with a brand name that is about “what we do” vs. “the benefit we deliver”.

However, I am now more convinced that this is a product design problem.  You, the customer, assemble a custom lunch from them.  There are signs that tell you what to do in steps.  (See them pasted to the case.)  So, you have to make lots of choices to get your lunch.  Which grain?  Which meat?  It doesn’t seem like a menu so much as a science project.

I hope they can make it.

I’m not alone in thinking their food is quite yummy.  Our local magazine, 5280, gave them a sweet review, which the folks in the booth told me about but, of course, they had no mention of in the booth.  (See http://www.5280.com/blog/?cat=5)

Marketing in terms of brand identity, product composition and promotion is key in every business, from small to large.

Off to the Saturday Farmers Market!

The iPad at home

August 20th, 2010

When Forrester doubled its forecast for iPads for 2010 and one of Apple’s key manufacturers announced a massive hire of new workers, I knew it was time to share more of my thoughts on the iPad.

When I have both the paper and the iPad option right in front of me, I am moving to doing my business reading on the iPad.  Easier form factor and the video clips are right there as well as color pictures.

Which form factor to use?

Now, you can’t really be completely spontaneous in that decision since when you reach for the iPad, you have to wait for The Journal to download.

Speaking of downloads, keep checking for Updates.  They pile up and they take a little bit of time to get downloaded.

So, if you impulsively grab the iPad, it slows you down while it gets ready for you.

But the Updates are worth it.  Love where The Weather Channel is going, for example!

Thanks to all who pointed out in my last post that I can get speakers for the iPad.  Apple just recommended a set but some buyer comments were mixed on sound quality.  Hmmm.   More to follow.

I suppose I could get going on researching this but I have to allow time for Solitaire on the iPad.

And to those of you who followed my guidance to download Angry Birds, it is not my fault that this is addictive.

Do they know too much or just enough?

August 9th, 2010

Is it a benefit or a threat?  That’s the point of The Wall Street Journal’s recent series on Internet privacy.  (See http://wsj.com/WhatTheyKnow.)

I’ve always felt that targeted advertising was the next big opportunity for cable TV.  I’m ready to sign up right now to change the ad mix on The Golf Channel from Viagara, luxury cars and insurance to travel, clothes and cooking!

However, the web is increasingly able to deliver this targeting, which I think is great….but like the Journal’s Nicholas Carr article where he points to danger, I’d like these providers to try to be careful with my information and maybe show me an ad for something that isn’t exactly matching my profile so it’s not all endless trips, fashion and recipes!  I’d like to stay part of the general conversation of American life, not just buried in my micro-segment.

What do you think?

45 Days+ with the iPad

July 21st, 2010

First, I was writing about 15 days with the iPad, then 30 days, then 45 days, then…..

I’m so busy playing Angry Birds that I just can’t step away from my luscious iPad.

A complete addiction

But coming back to pluses and minuses.

  1. It’s a great device to travel with and leave the laptop at home if you are only consuming media vs. creating spreadsheets, documents etc.
  2. I’m glad to have the 3G as I know I will have signal without looking for wi-fi.  (Except in Montana and Wyoming – see my earlier post on that.)  In fact, I’ve found it very convenient at client sites to just bring the iPad.
  3. It’s a nice device for leaving on the kitchen counter and grabbing anytime.

    Waiting to be used!

    You might think that the laptop can perform the same function but it’s just bigger and has a higher profile.  Compare below:

    The laptop seems bulky and in the way....

  4. The iPad is great on the plane.  The form factor lets you sit with it in your lap without the guy ahead of you crushing your laptop when he puts the seat back.  (Flying tip:  get stuff downloaded before you go into Plane mode!)
  5. The iPad is so nice when sharing info with someone else.  Easy to tilt the iPad in any direction so your viewer can have a good look.  Great to grab to look up a location and both look at the route there.
  6. Now, this will make you laugh.  My two top applications are both major enhancements over the radio – an invention more than 100 years old.

    Wow - I've found a superior radio!!!

  7. I’m a huge user of Pandora and love that I can use the iPad wherever.  But my absolute favorite is using the NPR application and time-shifting various shows like Car Talk and putting individual reports into my playlist to hear them while I cook or tackle other tasks.

    This brings me to my top minus on the iPad.  The top sound level is TOO LOW.  If I am banging pots and pans, I can’t hear NPR.  The Sony gadget above (aka a radio) would produce more volume but not any on-demand programming.

  8. Netflix is very nice on the iPad for spontaneous entertainment.

So, overall, I come out that this is a superior media consumption device with great sharing features.  I could probably go on but I’ve got to get back to Plants vs. Zombies.