Thursday, December 28, 2006

How Can You Show Auxiliary Benefits of Being a Customer? “Way Station” Gives AmEx Members a Second Wind

Christmas shoppers dragging their feet in the throes of holiday shopping were given an upgrade by American Express, which has introduced an upgrade to the shopping experience, according to The New York Times article, “For Card-Carrying Members, Lounging at the Mall.”

A 3,400 sqft lounge for weary, thirsty customers at the Mall at Short Hills is a variation on the airport lounge; it includes Internet access, cell phone charging areas, coat checks, a bathroom and gift-wrapping service.

“This is a test our way of demonstrating why it’s important to keep that card in your wallet,” said senior vice president and general manager of membership rewards for American Express.

Nothing like a little brand reinforcement through generous rewards to help you build a stronger business.

Abracadabra Paper Under Development

The Philadelphia Inquirer article, “Putting It on Paper — Temporarily,” reveals that company security and paper management issues may be significantly reduced if Xerox’s latest invention is green-lighted.

The document management company has developed a paper technology in which ink will disappear after 16 to 24 hours. A spokesman for the company said the paper could be reused 20 to 50 times. The paper relies on chemicals that alter color when exposed to a printer’s light and then fade.

“What people really want is an enhanced paper product…The idea is you can do all the things you normally do like organizing in piles and putting the high priority stuff on top,…while feeling good about not killing trees,” said Eric Shrader Xerox principal researcher for the project at Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center.

A paper that reduces your storage needs and helps the environment; sounds like a good tool to help build a stronger business.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Build a Stronger Business Through Ethical Behavior

In the Parade article “World’s Top Bribe-Payers,” the most corrupt places for doing business are revealed.

Transparency International questioned more then 11,000 businessmen to discover which nation’s businessmen are the most likely to take bribes. The least likely bribe-takers live in Sweden and Switzerland. Here are the worst offenders:
  1. India
  2. China
  3. Russia
  4. Turkey
  5. Taiwan
  6. Malaysia
  7. South Africa
  8. Brazil
  9. Saudi Arabia
  10. South Korea

Be on your guard and tread carefully if your quest to build a stronger business takes you to these countries.

Best of 2006 from Scientific American

In the Offline section of The New York Times the article “Best of 2006” insurance company Swiss Re was singled out for praise by Scientific American in its 50 best of 2006 for its “history of sensitivity to climate change concerns”.

Three years ago the company established a 10-year plan to become greenhouse neutral to “reduce or offset the net carbon emissions of its employees to zero.”

Having a positive environmental policy can help you build a stronger business.

Monday, December 18, 2006

What Does It Say When the Boss Yearns for Competitors Products?

The New York Times article “The Power of Heresy,” from the What’s Online section reveals that leaked emails may be embarrassing, but they offer a revealing glimpse of a company executive’s mindset.

When Microsoft Windows Development Chief Jim Allchin opined in 2004 in a message to Microsoft Windows chief exec Steven Ballmer and chairman Bill Gates that he would buy an Apple if he didn’t work for Microsoft, it was no exception.

“In my view we’ve lost our way,” decried Allchin.

Almost three years after his email was leaked, Allchin acknowledged that his dramatic email message was intended to raise the alarm that things must change or else the future will be grim. It attempts to jerk the upper management awake by acknowledging it can no longer afford to stick to the script of the status quo.

While there’s nothing wrong with keeping an eye on the competition, it’s your own product that should be your primary focus. It bares thinking about as you work to build a stronger business.

Weak Links in Your Chain?

You can be one of the best companies around, but one of the best ways to distinguish yourself is how you handle complaints as revealed in The New York Times article “You Got Served,” from the What’s Online section.

So many companies get it wrong, particularly large companies. There are just so many layers of bureaucracy that individuals can get lost in the shuffle.

Look at Dell. They are a large, profitable company. Yet Pat Dori of Hackensack, NJ could not get the corporation to fix her broken laptop. So she sued. But instead of filing the suit with corporate headquarters in Plano, TX, she filed the court papers with a Dell shopping mall kiosk.

“Quite unsurprisingly, no one from Dell turned up in court on the stipulated date,” wrote Conrad Quilty-Harper on a personal technology blog. Dori took home $3,000 for a default judgment It can be difficult for customers to find their way around a large, unwieldy company, especially if they want to file a complaint.

If you want to build a stronger business, always address your customer complaints, no matter how large or small they may be.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Savvy Buyers Look at Total Cost of Ownership, Not Just Purchase Price

While there may be nothing new about sourcing low-cost merchandise overseas and reselling it for higher prices in another market, the Internet has accelerated gray market growth, according to USA Today article, “Some See Red Over Gray-market Goods”.

The surge in online shopping in recent years has spurred the development of lots of e-tailers that resell goods sourced from abroad. The Alliance for Gray Market and Counterfeit Abatement values the tech product gray market at $40 billion

Not surprisingly, technology companies such as Sony despise the practice. Many companies such as Nikon have initiated policies to discourage consumers from turning to them with their gray market gadget woes.

Here are some strategies you can adopt to protect your business.
  • Shop only with reputable merchants
  • Be aware
  • Ask questions
  • Be wary of pricey extras
  • Use a credit card
  • Check your product carefully once it arrives

If you source your products wisely and consider these pointers you can build a stronger, more secure business.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Changing Your Name is Easier than Changing What’s Associated by your Business Name

The article, “Final Take” from the What’s Offline section of The New York Times, calls attention to KFC’s branding strategy.

Sometimes the bigger the brand, the bigger the sign needs to be in order to be viewed from space. Still, when people see KFC as they orbit the earth, at least there’s a good chance they won’t associate it with trans fats. That’s how the people behind KFC’s 87,000sqft sign in the Nevada desert might see it, in any case.

The sign shows the company’s new logo in all its Colonel Sanders glory. For the terrestrials among us who send snail mail, KFC is also lobbying for a postage stamp of founder Harland Sanders.

Whatever the associations of its fried goods, the company has worked plenty hard to shift the media focus from fried food and health to branding exercises, generating lots of publicity for the company. It will be interesting to see if KFC’s branding strategy helps it build a stronger business.

Know These Costs – May Be Easier than You Think

The article, “What’s in a Name” from the What’s Offline section of The New York Times gives some useful peek behind the scenes of the data brokerage sector.

Like most industries, data brokers see people as valuable commodity for their businesses. But would you care to know the price tag?

Quick and Simple’s Dave Ramsey has done the math and this is the per head value:

  • Bankruptcy details run $26.50.
  • Workers Comp history runs $18.
  • Unpublished phone number is $17.50.
  • Date of birth fetches $2.

If you know the exact value of getting database information, it can provide vital tools for helping you build a stronger business.