Posted on May 6, 2013 by Keith
I read something a few days ago that has stuck with me. I was going to write about it at the time but I couldn’t really figure out how not to make it a political issue because as you know we don’t do politics here on the screed. Over the weekend as I was thinking about it some more, I realized why I can’t get it out of my head.
In a word: Stupidity.
But there’s a business point in here too. Here is one article from USAToday about what’s been going on in the state of Virginia. In a nutshell, as the article reports,
Virginia passed… a new law last month that lowers the gas tax for everyone, but slaps a $64-per-year fee on hybrid and electric car owners to help make up for what those drivers aren’t paying at the pump….Legislation that would levy a fee or tax on greener wheels is now pending in Texas, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Arizona.
Pure genius at work here. Encourage people to buy fuel-efficient vehicles to curtail gasoline consumption (as well as to help the environment) but penalize them because they’re not paying enough gasoline tax. We could spend a lot of time here on the politics but let’s discuss the optics instead. This seems stupid. Is that a shallow, uniformed take on the matter? Maybe, but I think it’s dumb, and that’s all that matters. In fact, everyone to whom I’ve mentioned it concurs and many of them are not at all shallow people. In fact, they’re almost universally well-informed and can take a broader view of issues than their own opinions. Which is the business point.
From time to time we all need to take a step back and get to the place where our customers and potential customers are. They don’t have all the facts you do nor do they share the same perspective as you. Even if they do, they just might not care. You need to be in that “outside” place and ask yourself if what you’re doing – a price change, a package modification, a marketing campaign, whatever – seems stupid. For example, cutting a 12 ounce package to 11 ounces with a label that says “great new package, same great price” is stupid.
Maybe there’s a good reason to encourage a behavior and then to penalize it but I can’t figure it out. There’s no good reason to ignore the optics of something as a businessperson. If it appears stupid, it probably is. You agree?
Filed under: Consulting, Reality checks, Thinking Aloud | Tagged: business thinking, management, marketing, Marketing and Advertising, Reality checks, Strategic management | 1 Comment »
Posted on April 26, 2013 by Keith
For our Foodie Friday Fun this week, I want to talk about MSG. No, not the World’s Most Famous Arena, Madison Square Garden, but the stuff many people ask not be added to their food in Chinese restaurants. MSG is Monosodium Glutamate and the reason many folks avoid it is something called Chinese Food Syndrome. You may know someone who believes it affects them when they eat MSG. They tell you that they get flushed, they develop a headache, they might even experience numbness.
(Photo credit: dltq)
All of these symptoms were reported in a letter to the editor of the New England Journal of Medicine. A doctor noticed his friends had complained of similar symptoms after going for Chinese food – flushing, headaches, and numbness. Over the years, his letter turned into reports of a big study that demonstrated how MSG caused these effects and so people avoid it. Here’s the problem: scientists have been unable to replicate any of these physical manifestations in tests. Chinese Food Syndrome has never been demonstrated under rigorously controlled conditions, even in studies with people who were convinced that they were sensitive to the compound. People hear the myth and don’t want to take the chance they will be similarly affected.
It’s not really surprising. MSG is a substance that naturally occurs in tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, and aged steaks among other foods and people who avoid it in Chinese food probably eat it like crazy all the time. Yet the myth goes on and people ask that it be left out of their food. Which is, of course, the business point.
Many businesses labor under the burden of myth. These myths generally surface when someone, probably a new employee, asks about a business practice they’ve encountered elsewhere or a missed opportunity they’ve figured out. They’re often told some myth at that point about why the business just can’t go in that direction which is not based on fact but on some urban legend.
Maybe it’s the myth about “we don’t need to hire an expert to do social media – it’s free and everyone here uses it.” Then there’s the one I get told to me a lot: you don’t need to get paid to consult for start-ups since taking equity will be worth a lot more. Or maybe it’s the one about how working for yourself solves all your business problems…
What myths go on in your business or in your office? What “truths” are told without being based in fact? Just as MSG makes food taste better, whether it’s natural or added, adding facts to your business life makes it a lot more palatable as well.
Filed under: food, Reality checks | Tagged: business, Food, Foodie, Monosodium Glutamate, Reality checks | Leave a Comment »
Posted on April 25, 2013 by Keith
I know – you were thinking about Coleridge when you woke up this morning. Hey – me too! In particular, the line from the Rime Of The Ancient Mariner about “water, water everywhere but nary a drop to drink.”
Image via CrunchBase
OK, I didn’t wake up thinking that but I was reminded of it when I read some data put out by the folks at Outrigger Media. They measure how brands use YouTube. The top 500 brands generate 442 million views every month – a bit less than a million each on average, which is pretty good. But there are some other data which are a little concerning that I thought you might find interesting.
If you’ve spent any time on YouTube (go ahead, admit it!) you’ve probably noticed that much of the branded material is just repurposed TV ads. In fact, in some brands’ categories (food & beverage), 15% of the videos are just that. The technology, automotive, and apparel brands (who seem to do a lot of original content – demos, mini-movies, etc.) on YouTube are attracting the largest audience, more than half of the Top 500 brands’ monthly views. However, the top brands channels are averaging just 35,000 subscribers, which is way less than their number of Twitter followers (more than 200,000).
Many clients have mentioned “going viral” as a goal with some video content. I caution them that it’s a lot easier to capture lightning in a bottle. Basically, there’s research that shows you’ve got about three days to make that happen, and if the content hasn’t been shared a lot by then it’s probably not going to happen (even though it can keep growing for a few months). That said, the Outrigger data shows that we have a fertile field – YouTube – that’s one of the biggest audience areas on the internet and yet brands can’t seem to make anything grow there on a consistent basis. If consumers had a strong interest in what the brands were planting, why wouldn’t they be asking to be updated regularly by subscribing? Apparently, not enough fear of missing out in this case.
YouTube is the ocean – there’s water everywhere in the form of consumers from which thirsty brands are trying to drink. Look like Coleridge was right.
Filed under: digital media, Reality checks | Tagged: Brand, Internet marketing, media, Outrigger Media, Reality checks, YouTube | Leave a Comment »