Dollar General goes after higher earners – Nashville Business Journal


Dollar General goes after higher earners – Nashville Business Journal.

Targeting those making $75,000 a year and who want consumables…

The question is, will this be a brilliant move to expand market share or will it lead to a diluting of Dollar General’s brand by moving away from its core mission of selling cheap goods to super-discount shoppers?

via Dollar General goes after higher earners – Nashville Business Journal.

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Four key senators abandon online piracy bills amid web protests – The Hill’s Hillicon Valley


Four key senators abandon online piracy bills amid web protests – The Hill’s Hillicon Valley.

 

This is good news for the First Amendment, but it’ll be interesting to see what happens in 2013 once the elections are over.

The Whopper on wheels


USA Today reports Burger King is doing a test drive of home delivery.

That’s right, the Whopper has its own set of wheels.

But what about cold fries, you ask?

The burger restaurateur has invented a proprietary thermal packaging unit, USA Today reports, to ensure the order stays hot.

If you live in the boonies (as my papaw used to say) and love the Whopper but hate driving to town, don’t start counting your fries before they’re out of the deep-fryer. This is only a test, and Burger King may decide the concept does not work. The test is being conducted in a limited area. And deliveries are limited to within a 10-minute drive from a restaurant.

But hopefully, this test drive will translate into a success. This is a smart business move by Burger King to capture more business from a culture that loves convenience and home delivery of everything from pizzas to videos.

Customer DISsatisfaction — when surveys create disgruntled clients


Recently I wrote a blog about people taking time off from all things digital (Facebook, mobile phones, etc. Read the blog here).

I have also been reading about people complaining about customer satisfaction surveys. Common complaints include the surveys taking too long to complete, asking generic questions, and phrasing questions to lead the participant into saying positive things about the company. I read an interesting blog here about internal surveys that are impersonal, and the writer says, impersonal.

I believe there is another problem with surveys — there are too many of them.

I began thinking about the glut of surveys when I received an email request to fill out a survey for a writing group meeting I attended. I already was getting bombarded with emails regarding meeting dates for other area writing groups, and I got upset to receive yet another email, this one asking me to rate my experience from the meeting. Writing groups are voluntary events. You go if you want to go, and you don’t go if you do not want to go. If you’re going to ask someone to rate a writing group experience, what’s next, creating a survey for a Little League game?

Thinking of the absurdity of being asked to comment on this experience led me to remember another absurd survey experience. About a month ago I received a phone call from a company doing a survey on behalf of a hospital where I was treated for a medical emergency. The caller said the survey would take five minutes; I agreed to take the survey because I was very satisfied with my hospital stay. While I did not time the length of the call, the survey dragged on and on to the point where I was tempted to just end the call (I believe it took longer than the promised time). Many of the questions were repetitive, and some were worded to lead the respondent into saying what a great place the hospital was (can you say cheesy PR campaign?).

Barbie and Ken – the couple that accessorizes together, stays together


It’s official – Barbie and Ken are back together!

(Cue: Falling balloons and champagne corks popping).

I had no idea America’s favorite plastic couple had previously split. But this report on CNN/Money says the pair went their separate ways in 2004. Maybe I was too caught up in life back then to have caught the news. Or maybe Ken and Barbie’s PR firm worked diligently to keep the news under wrap then.

All kidding aside, this “announcement” today, on Valentine’s Day, is a brilliant move by Mattel. Barbie Inc. has been battling Bratz dolls for some time, and Barbie had been on the decline until recently. So, while this announcement is a gimmick, it also could build great buzz for the brand. Certainly, a couple that has had a rocky relationship reflects reality more readily than a picture-perfect relationship like Barbie and Ken previously had.

As the saying goes, “Any publicity is good publicity.” That’s not always true, but in this case, it works.

By the way: Happy birthday to Jason’s Marketing Primer! I launched this blog one year ago today. I plan for 2011 to be an even more prolific year than 2010!

Is Apple all that?


This report by Douglas A. McIntyre with 24/7 Wall St makes a case for Apple (AAPL) as the second-most valuable corporation in America, after Exxon Mobil, in terms of market value.

Apple posted record revenue of $20.34 billion in the third quarter of 2009. Revenue was up 66 percent from the same quarter a year ago. The total value of Exxon Mobil’s shares creates a market cap of $362 billion, while Apple’s is $284 billion. That’s ahead of such giants as Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer.

McIntyre cites analysts, who point to Apple’s rapid growth, which he says is unmatched by any other major American corporation. With hot-selling iPhones, iPads and Mac computers, the analysts may be right.

 

But I can’t help thinking of the changing taste of consumers. Exxon deals with oil, perhaps the world’s most valuable commodity, while Wal-Mart of course sells such a large diversity of products and has a reputation of selling for less. Apple has done well to move beyond simply selling computers. Yes, Apple’s products are fashionable. But they are only into one segment of the economy: consumer electronics. Changing consumer preferences or bad publicity (such as the iPhone antenna problem) or the eventual loss of magnate Steve Jobs could upset the Apple cart. So I would urge caution when looking at Apple as an investment. What goes up can — and often will — go down.

 

Starfish-style challenges


What do you do when you’ve always charged for delivering a service or product and some Web site comes along and offers something much like it for free?

That’s been the question plaguing the music recording, news and software companies for some time.

I recently came across a book published in 2006 that takes a fascinating look at this phenomenon: “The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations,” by Ori Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom. The authors take a look at movements/organizations that defy the traditional leadership model of “Who’s in charge?” Sometimes, no one is in charge. The Aztecs had Montezuma and a capital city, and were easily wiped out by the Spanish who killed the leader. The Apache had no centralized leader and no capital, and thus were better equipped to fight off attacks by armies from developed nations who looked for traditional targets to strike. But the book’s authors say that also describes the recording music industry’s attempts to fight off Napster: They effectively killed that one Web site, but their efforts antagonized people and spawned lots of imitators.

The authors write that Craigslist provided an unexpected challenge to the newspaper industry. Why pay for a newspaper classified when you can advertise a product for free all over the world? Likewise, why subscribe to a newspaper when you can read it for free online?

Newspapers learned to combine ad sales for print and online editions, as well as partnering with sites like CareerBuilder. After many newspapers dropped their attempts to subscriptions for stories, some organizations are taking a second look. My newspaper, The Daily Post-Athenian, already has returned to the online subscription model.

Platforms like the Kindle and the iPad hold out some hope of helping newspapers get digital media users accustomed to paying for content (the Wall Street Journal costs only $14.99 a month on the Kindle, and slightly more on the iPad).

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