Wednesday, April 23, 2008

3 double cheeseburgers - what does it mean?

Yesterday, the large fellow next to me in line at McDonalds ordered three double cheeseburgers off the dollar menu (sign of the economic times?) and a Diet Coke. I couldn't help wondering about the Diet Coke the rest of the day. Did he like the taste better? Was it a self defense mechanism - given you fill up your own drink, there's no need to call out a brand, so he was saying to himself - hey, I'm careful about what I eat?


Monday, April 14, 2008

Silver Spring post office

Always nice to encounter unexpectedly good service. Last week, I needed to send some tax information in. Turns out there's a small post office in Silver Spring, right across from the office here. I assumed I'd be lucky to be in and out in under an hour - it was just a couple of days before tax day. Instead, in and out in 5 minutes - including time for instruction from a cheerful counter person on how to appropriately fill out a return receipt requested form.

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Monday, April 07, 2008

A tale of two conference sessions

I recently returned from Channel Advisor's Catalyst Conference. Two sessions stood out, one memorably bad, one memorably good.

First, the bad. Staying Ahead of the Pack – How to Evolve Your Brand in a Multi-Faceted Arena by: Chris Shimojima, Nike. Chris had been a CMO at three or four companies, so I was very curious to hear him speak. However, he may have violated one of the cardinal rules of speaking, "know your audience." From the people I talked to, most folks in attendance were merchants, at a different variety of sizes, ranging from basement operations to Internet Retailer 500. No one I talked to was doing much in the way of "brand advertising" and one of the nicest parts of the conference is the high ratio of merchants to vendors. The presentation could easily have been subtitled "We're Nike, and here are some things you should buy". It focused on their Nike Plus (running shoes + Ipod = mileage tracking) and their Nike ID product (unique, customized shoes). It tried to show how these products evolve community - but it was also clear that they had a huge budget for experimentation. And, there never was a message that tied into the audience, beyond "try, listen and learn", which was up on a slide for a minute.

Second, the good. Old School vs. New School – Defining the Life Cycle for a Successful Small Business. Scott Wingo, the CEO of Channel Advisor hosted. This was fantastic - it had different businesses talking about parts of the Internet Merchant lifecycle they'd gone through. There was a fascinating chart that Scott had, that showed the typical level of revenue at different sizes, and the different types of advertising that merchants were doing. It showed where paid search and comparison engines entered the mix. I talked to a number of people who loved the session, and felt it was very inspiring as they could see where it was possible to go.

Overall, the conference had a great mix of attendees, and useful sessions. Hopefully, next year they'll have additional sessions with merchants talking about the mechanics of their businesses.

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