Technological Innovation vs. Budget

As Xerox CEO Ursula Burns puts it, we have a few ways in which we can gain more from a process. We can consolidate like processes to specialists, which we may consider a cornerstone of all business. Secondly, we can move these processes to lower-cost areas, out-sourcing. Thirdly, we can use technology to perform the process better. To me, the first is common sense, the second is unethical but practical, and the third is brilliant.

Brilliant as new technologies may be, businesses will only bite if the technology will save time, money, peace of mind, or some other resource. It must be a value greater than the cost itself, plus the cost of implementation.

I’d like to again use Xerox as an example here. A few years ago, there was talk of a IT proximity-based solution. The fraction 1/2 has been thrown around the healthcare industry with respect to the amount of time spent on recording data and communicating the information to other healthcare workers. Xerox has the bright idea (I’m unsure if it’s still being tested or implemented) to cut down on time waste with wireless devices.

Imagine you are a nurse before this technology is available to you. You stop by the front desk, getting word of a new patients arrival, pull out the proper paper work, and walk into a room to greet a patient. You take the data, return to a workstation, log in, pull up the record, find the proper forms to fill out, enter the data and move on.

Now, with the technology. You walk into a room to greet a patient, and your tablet pulls up their exact record, ready for new information. You take the data, done.

In layman’s terms, the technology would require a wireless device attached to each employee and room in the facility.The front desk would enter upcoming patient data to match the rooms data. The data would pull up on tablets, accordingly.

Now, which hospital wouldn’t jump on this? Back to the business side.

Let’s look at some factors that will determine whether or not a decision maker will jump.

  1. How will it look to their peers and superiors?
  2. Will it save time, money or other resources?
  3. Do they care more about the short-term or long-term implementations?
  4. Do they have cheaper alternatives?
  5. How soon will this technology become obsolete, thus ruining the investment?

These questions are important to ask before spending immensely on R&D or manufacturing.

Technological Innovation vs. Budget ♠

How Louis Vuitton Rocks Sky-High Prices

This article takes a marketing practitioners applicable approach to recent research posted in the Journal of Retailing, of which I rarely cover. The original piece is Consumer Perceptions of How Luxury Brand Stores Become Art Institutions. 

To simplify what we can use from the research, we need to understand three things.

1.There is an abundance of rich people willing to make purchases right now.

2. Rich people dislike over-commercialization.

3. Rich people appreciate art.

Let’s face it, once a brand conforms to the usual and begins blasting promotions in your face, it’s no longer as special. Thus, the value of a premium consumer brand judged on prestige and aesthetics inherently drops in the eyes of the elite. We have seen in recent times a growth in high income spenders, and Louis Vuitton has been reaping the benefits.

Now we can comfortably say, Louis Vuitton’s competition is likely not blasting promotions at consumers understanding the principle stated above. So how is it that they are further distinguishing themselves? Have you walked into their store lately?

They don’t have stores they have galleries. Shelled in a story of its more than century old heritage and hand-made dedication, Vuitton makes an effort to distinguish their pieces from others’ products. Their stores look like art institutions, are designed by world renowned artists, and contain their products literally among-st fine art decor.

The point to take away here: Art can be valued however high you like. Because Loius Vuitton can be commoditized, it’s value does not have to drop with the flubbers of the economy like other commercial items.


Segmenting Your Market

Segmenting Your Market Properly

This is too often overlooked. How do you go about segmenting your market? Is there more than one way? How many segments do you have? Are they capable of being broken done further? If you did segment them further, would it improve or worsen your efforts? How so?

Let’s take an example, let’s say we sell… mmm… surfboards, surf equipment and other surf-related things. The first thought is “Troy, you only have one market! Surfers!” Well, if we try to target everyone that might potentially buy our stuff with the same message (while easy) we will likely be ignored by most.

We want to send them contextual and relevant messages to gain their attention.

Potential Market Segment Strategy:

  • Surfers
    • Leisure Surfers
      • Long Boarders
      • Short Boarders
    • Professional Surfers
      • Further breakdown by style?
      • Further breakdown geographically
      • Further breakdown by price points
  • Organizations
    • Surf Clubs
    • Schools
    • Beach-front hotels
    • Beach-front churches
  • Beach Enthusiasts
    • Near the beach
    • Inland

This is a rough demonstration, but you can see how many different messages may actually need to be developed. Each of those segments has its own set of needs. Its up to you to decide how deep to segment, technically you could go infinitely deep to the individual, but I’d doubt its worth the time and effort. For example, depending on your business, you may or may not want to target the above “Organizations” individually or as a conglomerate. Doing them individually might make you more relevant to them, but that means extra time and effort on your part.



Online vs. offline marketing

I’ve been hearing quite a bit about combining online and offline efforts to achieve the greatest presence. Having both the quick online elements of being instantaneously responsive and perfectly targeted as well as the offline element of community. As John points out in his book “The Referral Engine”, most businesses are heavily one or the other.

Every business is different, but it seems to me each has it’s own unique situation in which to attempt the consolidation of these two very different efforts into one conglomerate machine. What is your situation?

  • Small business,one location, few employees?
  • Mid-level business, three locations, many employees?
  • Sole proprietor?
  • Very large business, global locations?

If your product is worth enough weight per customer, maybe it’s a matter of flying more frequently to meet customers. Maybe your product is dollars per sale, what then? Perhaps you could design a system of incentive-based pulleys or triggers amongst customers, partners, or employees. I’ll have to address this topic more pragmatically in my next post…

Guerrilla Marketing like Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Arcade Fire, & Lil’ Wayne

Pink Floyd performed a concert in 1971 for ghosts Live at Pompeii. The recorded footage of the performance has become a landmark of classic rock concerts. Radiohead released their album “In Rainbows” as a pay-as-you-want download in a time where piracy had virtually destroyed common record sales. The stunt sat well with their loyal fan base and generated what appeared to be more revenue than if they had released it at normal cost. Arcade Fire recorded their song Neon Bible with all seven members crammed inside of an elevator. The performance went viral. Perhaps you haven’t heard of these artists? Hell, even Lil’ Wayne managed to turn a prison sentence into a brilliant Free Weezy merchandise opportunity.

There are 100’s of creative ways artists have managed to market their products. Would it be foolish to think some of these concepts may be transferable to the broader B2C business world?