Take a Stand Against Discounting

Today’s Indianapolis Groupon is a half off $25 for food options at one of my favorite places in town, Ball & Biscuit. You’d think I’d be pumped and stock up on these Groupon’s to get half off my food order for eternity (I’m sure there is a limit to 5 or something). But, I HATE DISCOUNTING.

The Only Vote That Matters is Where You Spend Your Dollar

Today’s Groupon isn’t necessarily a bad set up, as chances are if you were planning to buy only one drink, you will now buy two. (We can get into the debate on whether or not a Free Lunch exists or not…) But as far as attracting a brand new regular customer, I think that chance is slim. So, what’s the point?

Where did this idea of discounting start? When did discounting begin by way of a manipulation tactic to the American consumer? Do you think about this? The American consumer is trained to spend, spend and spend some more. I challenge you to go against your must have it right now impulses. Spend what you can afford and spend on quality. It’s quality over quantity, no?

I want to pay a fair price for a good or service, well… for exactly what it is worth. Do you think about all that goes into your good or service? A restaurant is a good place to start because we all know how important food is by now. How are you supporting our food system? I want quality food at a fair price. If we as consumers buy into constant discounting what suffers? The quality of our food. Or what about the hands that go into preparing this food from crop to your plate? Will your neighbor earn a fair wage? I believe when we are going after the deals and constant discounting our neighbors are now no longer making a fair wage, they are making way less. Have you thought about this? We are shooting ourselves in the foot by way of our wages when we are so bargain hungry.

I’m not only speaking of Restaurants. Let’s take handbags for example. A question for the ladies, how many handbags do you purchase…in a year?? In a quick Google search, Cha Cha answered that the average woman buys 3 handbags a year. How much are these bags on average (just looking at target.com looks like the average price may be $35 per) So $105 per year spent on purses. I have been walking around with a simple black, all leather Coach purse since December 2003. That’s 8 years. Probably, $300. It’s still in great shape and see myself with it for at least another 2 years.

Number of Purses            Money Spent on Purses

1 year                  3                                          $105

5 years               15                                         $525

8 years              24                                         $840

10 years            30                                         $1050

Man, I could go into a Reduce, Reuse, Recycle diatribe here, but I won’t ; ) I only write this post in hope that you reading will think about your purchases and how you are making your dollar count!

*I should side note that I have purchased one Groupon, the Climb Time deal, 3 sessions, for what, $20? I remember that day, someone forwarded it to me knowing I would be interested in it. I contemplated making the purchase until the deadline.

If I had one cause in this lifetime, this would be it. How are you making your dollar count?


The Authentic Influencer

As I’m looking through my twitter feed waiting for ‘the social network’ to begin, I found a tweet that read ‘the nation could care less about #thesocialnetwork’. I was intrigued for more…CLICK: the full statement read, ‘the social network is doing really well on the east coast, the west coast and a little blip in Chicago, the rest of the nation could care less.’ facebook is used by 500 million people now, this is the business story that will be told for generations. Why is it not capturing more interest? This is something most use daily checking in as often as email.

The movie inspired me, as most others, to think, which I was really excited about. When I think about facebook, I see it’s success broken down to three areas:

Audience : In the beginning, College Students, a mass population of inquisitive people eager to learn and socially influenced.

Labor : User Generated Content, and guess what? It’s Free.

Distribution: Viral Sharing, spreading messages like disease.

The University

Young Bobby goes to school, he’s influenced by leaders in the classes he’s in, clubs he joins, ads he sees with people that look exactly like him, doing cool things. Is he a social influencer? Or a follower? The social influencers are those who may be looked at as ‘cool’ and popular within their own crowd or interest group. Some brands are even paying students to wear/use their brands on campus. If a college student is driven enough (and of course with an authentic social personality) they could probably sell themselves out to pay their entire tuition. But would you consider this authentic?

I’m not speaking that all social influencing going on on campus is bad. Here locally, let’s use Indiana University in Bloomington, IN as an example. I used to work for Upland Brewing Company. Great organization, great beer and a step up from the light beers on other universities reach. Pitcher night is apparently on Tuesday, never been. Do you know how I learned this? Down in Louisville, KY when I was wearing an Upland shirt. The gentleman that approached me at the local coffee shop had went to school there and of course had an emotional connection with the brand as it defined the best experience of his life. College Days! His emotional connection to this time in his life was so strong he wanted to tell me about it and not only that offer to help me expand Upland’s brand presence in Louisville. He gave me a good list of accounts he thought Upland would be a good fit at. (I sure followed up on that list and of course was grateful for his help.) This was only one experience of many with Upland. College grads are now an authentic street team as they leave campus and plant their roots in other communities.

How do you leverage these relationships? How does a company maintain a relationship with these fresh college grads? The answer will more than likely include facebook. Are you an influencer or a follower?

I’m noticing more and more business starting up around The University. Well, it works. What brands or examples can you think of with Authentic Street Team opportunities centered around brand loyalty?

Trade Shows: Walk Away with the Best Results

It is trade show season.  You have made a significant investment in booth space at a trade show.  What can you do to maximize your investment.

#1 People First.  Never let your booth sit empty.  Hire great people, you need personalities that will engage traffic walking by and not just when you are standing there watching them. Make sure to write out your expectations so your employees understand what the expectations are.

#2 Educate your people and visitors, keep you message simple whether it verbal or on your marketing materials.  If you need more than a one-liner to describe your product, turn your simple message into a list, easy to read.  Do not overwhelm someone with too much information, you are the specialist.  Understand the clients need and address that.

#3 Collect email addresses!!  Either make a nice list template on your computer or have contact sheets labeled with important information, perhaps if you are engaging someone with an enter to win program.

#4 Observe from the customer’s perception.  Of course you are excited about your product and want to share everything you know and bring everything you have to showcase at your booth.  Take a step back and literally, walk by your booth as if you are a customer, what is it that will draw that customer in, make sure to get rid of anything that may turn them away…i.e. too many people working your booth? too much paperwork at your booth, and make sure to stand up, sit up straight, look like you want to be there!

#5 How will you measure success?  Are you looking to sell X amount of product? Make X amount of appointments?  Put this in writing and hold yourself accountable.

#6 Relax and have fun!!  It will show!

What I learned from Oprah


Mom invited me to go with her to the Oprah show!  It was a great time and of course I was analyzing the entire experience.  First off, the audience department is amazing.  Not sure how many times they called mom.  But that they know 133 audience members (266 total, each invite gets to bring a guest).  They knew why each one was there and where they needed to be at any point.  It was just amazed all the logistics involved here.  And when we all entered the studio, getting us seated, noticing color mismatches and repositioning people, quite the attention to detail.

Then, the show airs and you watch how the studio department including set designers and all interact.  The show was nearly flawless (except some trouble with Skype).  I realized what type of manager Oprah is in this sitting.  She acknowledged her audience during commercial breaks, making eye contact with several members of the audience as she waved up into the upper seating.  I know this seems dismal and not important, but sometimes we all walk down the sidewalk without making eye contact with someone in passing, shoot we email our co-workers who are sitting right next to us.  It’s great to witness something different about this space, it’s not all corporate, business as usual, well the stereotype, perhaps based on my experiences.  It’s more of a way of life.

Oprah did not seem to be a micro-manager in our short time in the same room.  It is clear that everyone knew what’s expected of them.  Everyone has their responsibilities and everyone understood what brand they were representing in performing them.  Every aspect bled Oprah.  Even in our shopping experience at the Oprah store.  You know that this woman is busy and doesn’t have time to decide which bag our purchases will be placed in or even what imports to bring in from Africa.  I found it amazing at how seemingly well this company operates.  Kudos to Oprah and I hope your business practices bleed on all of us as well.

Dear Pistachio

I have supported you during your salmonella scare.  Today was the first day I looked at you on the shelf and moved on to continue my shopping.  With the announcement that Levi Johnston is one of your spokespeople has left me in shock and got me to thinking.  When do people start to acquire a taste for pistachio’s?  Well, here in the midwest it seems we start with pistachios in our ice creams at a younger age.  The pistachio is a nut you don’t start out with, you grow into it.  With Mr. Johnston as your spokesperson, it appears you are reaching a 13-17 year old consumer.  I would have picked cheap spokespeople from The Apprentice Season 1.  Targeting the 26-34 year old female.  One who is making educated grocery shopping decisions and is looking to eat healthier and move on to the sophisticated nut.  This young professionals group most likely watched The Apprentice when it first came out as they were imagining who they would become, but be careful we are not talking the celebrity version that we see today.  Good Luck to you Pistachio, I am sure our paths will cross again.

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