Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Amazon Aims for Third Place

Third place is not where a brand wants to be found but unfortunately, I think it's the best Amazon can hope for in the tablet category.  They are not going to catch Apple and Samsung.  Mircosoft's $900 million dollar write-down of unsold Surface tablets could be a glimpse into the future of Amazon's new Kindle lineup.

Although it sounds logical to have one device for everything, that's often not reality.  For Amazon, they'll wind up going from marketing the number one e-reader to selling (at best) the third place tablet with an e-reading function.  Fighting for tablet sales removes a big competitive advantage they had.   

The way to win is to be the best and not to be all things to all people.  Unfortunately, that hasn't been Amazon's approach.

Furthermore, I also have serious questions about Amazon's long-term strategy of creating and marketing an array of devices with the hopes that customers will become intoxicated on free shipping and will simply buy everything online.

Amazon's should focus on delivering something of value to the customer other than making it easier to spend more with Amazon.

As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic and any other interesting marketing-related musings.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Yikes If This Is True About Yelp

One San Francisco restauranteur is fed up with customer review site Yelp.  According to Davide Cerretini, co-owner of Botto Bistro, the restaurant caved into advertising on the review site after being bombared with sales calls.  But after a six month term, Cerretini decided stop advertising through Yelp.  Suddenly, he noticed that positive reviews turned negative and one positive review was removed.

While this raises serious questions about the integrity of online review business, Cerretini's response is simply fantastic - offering a 25% discount on pizza to every reviewer who submits a one star rating on the site.  This move has prompted the restaurants loyal customers to come to its defense, writing sarcastic one-star reviews of the bistro, such as "I mean it tastes nothing like Domino’s or Little Caesar’s.

According to Cerretini, the word-of-mouth is spreading. "I think this is the best business move I have made in years."  The genius of Botto Bistro's "Hate Us On Yelp" campaign is that it's giving their customers something to talk about - rallying them against the practices of Yelp and people who leave negative reviews of the bistro. 

The ironic lesson to learn from this whole saga is that word-of-mouth cannot be purchased.  The mockery of offering a discount for a one-star reviews is really a Botto Bistro's way of pointing out that this is essentially the same principle as business paying Yelp to enhance their listings. The authenticity of the reviews has to be questioned

As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic and any other interesting marketing-related musings.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Verizon Does What Apple Used To

On the heels of the Apple's announcement that they're are replicating Samsung with larger phones and gadgety watches, Verizon quietly announced a development they're working on that's so good that it would make Steve Jobs jealous - an internet-based broadcast content service (television) with al la carte programing

According to Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam, “no one wants to have 300 channels on your wireless. Everyone understands it will go to a la carte. The question is what does that transition look like."

It's baffling how Apple seems to have missed this considering one of it's greatest achievements was unbundling music on its iTunes platform.  Similarly, offering consumers the option to only pay for the channels they watch is the exactly the brand of common sense, consumer-oriented innovation that was uniquely Apple's territory under Job's leadership.

Today, they're way off of that trajectory.  While Apple is busy figiting with line extensions and "wearable tech" gadgets that are more of the same, it appears that Verizon might be knocking on the door of the next great consumer tech-revolution.

As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic and any other interesting marketing-related musings.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Auto Club Utilizes Used Car Sales Tactics

You never want bad marketing to ruin a good product.  

The American Auto Club (or AAA) has a pretty solid reputation.  After all, they lend a hand to motorists who find themselves needing one; goodwill is built right into their business.

But I wonder if their marketing isn't tarnishing the goodwill earned along highway.  I received the direct mail piece in the photo a few days ago and it's deceptive tactics looks like the handiwork of a sleezy used car salesmen.

The postcard is designed to get the recipient to upgrade their membership.  Including the front and back sides, the word "free" is used ten times and the words "no money" are also included once.  However, the offer to opt-in to AAA plus discreetly states that at renewal, there will be an additional fee of "$37 for me and $23 for each Associate member in my household."  On the back side, it mentions that you must opt-out to return to their classic membership.  These important details are hidden among the various big, bold "frees" plastered across on the card.

AAA is obviously trying to hide what the recipient is actually signing up for if they return the postcard by making it appear to be a no lose proposition.  Naturally, deceiving customers this isn't good practice for any business; however, I find it remarkable that a client-based organization would use sleeze-ball marketing practices. 

As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic and any other interesting marketing-related musings.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Conversation Starters

When a company does something unexpected, expect people will talk about it.  This week I came across a couple companies that are doing this.

The first was Discover Card.  They mailed me a $5 gift card to Starbucks just because I'm a card holder.  So for only $5 plus a few cents postage, I feel appreciated and I have a story to tell my family and friends.

A company called Austin Beerworks has a lot of people talking this week too.  They did so by doing something a little outrageous that no brewer has ever done and started selling a 99-pack of beer.  They call this beer Peacemaker Anytime Ale and the package is over 7 feet long, weighs over 82 pounds and retails for a (relatively) reasonable $99.  Simply by doing something a out of the norm, making a really really big case of beer, Austin Beerworks earned a ton of publicity and now people everywhere are learning about them.

As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic and any other interesting marketing-related musings.