Monthly Archives: February 2016

We’re All Termites

This Foodie Friday, let’s talk about eating wood.  There have been a whole host of articles written about it.  We all do it,  unknowingly most of the time.  Oh, you’ll not find “wood” on any label, but you will for sure find “cellulose” or some variant thereof.  As The Street explained it:

Cellulose is virgin wood pulp that has been processed and manufactured to different lengths for functionality, though the use of it and its variant forms (cellulose gum, powdered cellulose, microcrystalline cellulose, etc.) is deemed safe for human consumption, according to the FDA.

Don’t we all need a little more fiber in our diets?  It’s in shredded cheeses, ice cream, and pretty much any “low fat” version of your favorite food.  To my knowledge, it doesn’t lead to an insatiable urge to gnaw on a table leg.  I think the real issue is one from which all of us can learn, and it’s our old friend transparency.
Sure, it says cellulose on the label, but when it also says “natural” or even “organic”, I think that there is an expectation that the product is made from the same sort of stuff that you might find laying around your kitchen.  It’s disappointing (or worse) when people hear that wood fiber is being used as a filler to make the product cheaper to produce among other things. Of course, that’s one of the trade-offs that consumers never think about.  Do you want a less expensive, potentially better for you product or do you want it to cost more but be made from the same ingredients you’d buy at the market to make it yourself?

There are tradeoffs like that one in a number of areas.  Do you want a secure phone, safe from hackers, or do you want terrorists to be able to plot without governmental monitoring? Any trade-off involves a sacrifice that must be made to get a certain product or experience. To me, it isn’t so much about what’s being sacrificed as much as consumers aren’t helped to understand how these conscious choices affect them. I think we can all do better in helping them to do so.

I don’t suspect any of us is going to sit down with a nice bowl of wood fiber anytime soon, but I bet you might read the label a little more carefully on your next bowl of whatever.

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Filed under food, Thinking Aloud

Retention And Acquisition

Where do you come out on the retention vs. acquisition question? What I mean is do you think it’s more of an imperative to keep your current customers happy (retention) or to keep filling the revenue pipeline with new customers (acquisition)? A study from the Forbes Insights folks says that: 

42% of respondents said that expanding their customer base was an important strategic priority for their company. And, nearly one-third of executives worldwide said that retaining their existing customer base was a priority.

This is from a study called “Mastering Revenue Lifecycle Management: Customer Engagement Leads to Competitive Advantage,” which talks about a systemic approach to maximizing revenue throughout the lifetime of the customer relationship. On the surface, this struck me as strange since I’ve always felt it was more cost effective and easier to keep an existing customer than to acquire a new one. The Ipsos folks say that I’m off base – the whole “it costs 5x more to find a new customer” is a myth.

Maybe it has to do with how “old” a company is.  The study found that more than 70 percent of respondents from mature companies believe that enhancing customer loyalty is their organization’s primary goal, as opposed 39 percent of less mature companies.  That would make sense since one would expect that the longer a company has been in business, the larger a customer base it has.

Maybe I’m just partial to the “fewer but deeper” relationships thinking, but I fall into the retention school with respect to priorities.  Let me repeat the question with which we began: where do you come out on the retention vs. acquisition question?

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Filed under Consulting, Thinking Aloud

Standards And Practices

After selling a schedule of TV ads to a sponsor, there always came a moment during which you held your breath.  It was the time when the sponsor’s commercial was reviewed by the Standards And Practices folks.  They reviewed the commercial to be sure that it complied with governmental and network rules about such areas as comparisons to competitors or “taste.”  Any claims about a product’s efficacy had to be supported by actual research. We weren’t even allowed to present avails (the beginning of a negotiation) unless a new advertiser could pass a background (read Dun and Bradstreet) check by the finance folks. 

I have no idea if those processes are still in place at my old network homes (I suspect they are), but I know that they’re not in the digital world.  Marketers often wonder about the ad blocking phenomenon but one aspect of it might just be the tremendous number of scams and consumers’ wariness of all ads as a result.  As a former web publisher, I always had a concern about the ads that came to our site via an ad network and I felt incredibly bad when we accidentally ran some banners that installed malware.  In retrospect, there were a number of red flags on the order that we should have caught, but the desire for the cash outweighed our wariness.

It’s much worse today, given the number of “imported” pieces of advertising and advertising disguised as content most sites run.  Even the best of publishers have revenue pressures that can blind them to the dirtbags to which they routinely direct their readers.  One solution?  Maybe the industry – publishers and advertisers – need to set up and pay for a central review board through which all ads need to pass.  Call it the digital advertising Standards and Practices department.  No sign off from them, no seal of approval, and the ad won’t run.  Maybe not every site will take that on, but promoting it to your readers as a scam-free site might just help both readership and ad blocking.

Worth a try?

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Filed under digital media, Huh?