Friday, September 28, 2007

Dual Benefits

Sandy in Connecticut asked Amy, a stay at home mom, wrote in to "Ask Amy" in The Washington Post to see if it was wrong of her friend to buy "armloads" of items from the Salvation Army and then sell them for about five times the purchase price in order to make extra money for the family. Sandy feels that those items are for the needy, not for her friend to profit from.

Amy asked Maj. Dennis Gensler, general secretary of the Adult Rehabilitation Centers Command for the Eastern Territories, who responded by explaining that the money raised from these "armload" purchases goes to fund programs at the 115 Salvation Army adult rehabilitation centers throughout the country. The stores have a dual purpose of offering low-cost goods for sale to anyone (not just the needy) and they use the profit from the sale of your donated goods to fund their operations. The money raised from a donation to the Salvation Army funds vital programs for needy people and fund's Sandy's friends stay-at-home lifestyle.

Savvy business people like Maj. Gensler understand that indirect benefits as well as direct benefits build a stronger business.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Competitive Forecasting Provides Better Results Than Surveys

Competitive forecasting, a new trend discussed in James Surowiecki’s book, “The Wisdom the Crowds”, has become a popular method of surveying the public, and the Sloan Center has jumped on the bandwagon. The first to broadly study Internet sales, The Sloan Center will launch a new Web site that will take the public’s predictions about internet-related trends and online sales.

In The New York Times article, “The Wisdom of Sales Trend Predictions”, Bob Tedeschi calls attention to the advantages competitive forecasting provides over traditional surveys. According to analysts, this method brings more accurate results because participants care more about their answers. One of the best known examples is The Hollywood Stock Exchange (, which has correctly predicted 92% of the major-category Oscar winners.

Competitive forecasting is also more appealing to participants than typical phone surveys.

Donna Hoffman and Thomas P. Novak, directors of the Sloan Center, will offer cash rewards like $25 and $500 gift certificates to the top-ranked participants of their site. The most prescient users also have an opportunity to gain an admirable online reputation.

An Online Prank Goes Too Far

In The New York Times article, “Don’t Marry Our Daughters After All” Brad Stone discusses, a prank Web Site pretending to sell underage girls for marriage to older men for large sums of money. Science fiction editor John Ordover created the site to poke fun at the inconsistencies in state marriage laws.

Unfortunately not everyone is in on the joke. The site has receives thousands of angry emails a day and Mr. Ordover has had to explain himself to angry listeners on several radio shows.

Online pranks carry risks. Be aware of this when building a stronger business.

Creative Ideas Don't Always Work

When Brian P. Tierney, the new chief executive of Philadelphia Media Holdings proposed to place two giant billboards and an inflatable giant bee by the newspaper’s landmark building to advertise the upcoming new “Bee Movie”, the neighbors strongly objected.

In The New York Times article, “No Bees on the Inquirer”, Pradnya Joshi notes that the new CEO received no complaints from staff.

Since his start with the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News, Tierney has been encouraging his staff to be more creative with promotions. He has proposed to sponsor the first national sudoku championship and has raised the marketing budget from $300,000 to $14 million.

But his proposal for the movie promotion really offended neighbors who believe in respecting the historical landmark.

Innovation is not always embraced when you’re building a stronger business.

Shopper Calculations Often Wrong

According to The New York Times article by Alex Mindlin, “A Math Test for Bargain Hunters”, 59% of bargain hunters incorrectly compute sales percentages.

In a study by Florida researchers, shoppers were more likely to buy an item on sale for the second time, than the same item on sale for a higher, but equivalent amount.

A product on sale for 33% of a 25% discount would attract more shoppers than a product with a 50% discount. Although they are both offer half off, shoppers incorrectly added the first sale to be a 58% discount!

Taking advantage of customer perceptions help you build a stronger business.

25 Year Later USA Today Continues to Stay Relevant

On September 15, 1982 despite much skepticism, USA Today launched as the first national newspaper. Today, 25 years later, it has the largest weekday circulation of any American newspaper and attracts 9 to 10 million readers to its Web Site every month.

Richard Perez-Pena reveals USA Today’s rocky start and controversial image in The New York Times article, “At 25 ‘McPaper’ Is All Grown Up' " Neuhart, creator of USA Today acknowledges that the paper, which distinguishes itself from its competitors with large graphics, color photos and short, light articles, borrowed much of its structure from television.

From day one, USA Today received heavy criticism from newspapers like the Washington Post and The New York Times, who condemned the paper for not being committed to serious journalism.

After a change of leadership in the 1990s, the paper has incorporated more serious, in-depth articles into its glitzy, lightweight image.

Finding a niche helps you build a stronger business.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Subway vs. McDonalds marketing techniques

According to The New York Times article, "Eating Up Calories and Propoganda", Subway customers underestimate the number of calories they are consuming, due to the restaurant marketing itself as healthy.

For a meal with 911 calories, Subway customers believed they had consumed 205 less calories then McDonalds customers believed they had eaten.

When Building a Stronger Business, remember that perception influences buying decisions, but net calories are the after effect.