Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Re-inventing new business models - not only in high tech

Yesterday Cisco announced that it was closing the Flip video business which it had bought in 2009. Only founded in 2007, it apparently grew, matured, and died in the space of four years. Many other businesses have been obsoleted - the Walkman by the iPod, film by digital cameras. Yet, we also see new business models which re-invigorate the category much as broadband re-invented cable. One of the most interesting is how the curb-side pick up bus is displacing the old point to point bus companies such as Greyhound
I remember in 1969 traveling around America by Greyhound on a 99 day for $99 ticket. Greyhound gradually declined to bankruptcy, but never thought of this. It took entrepreneurs to think of the idea, and then a large company with no vested prestige in the old way to make it successful.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The danger of overpromising - BMW does it

There is nothing so dangerous as advertising which over-promises. As the saying goes, "nothing kills a bad product faster than good advertising." For example, BMW advertising implies that a BMW Certified pre-owned car is as good as a new one. Imagine the disappointment if this is not true. When a car company relies on a dealer to represent the company, disappointment can soon follow. My son recently bought a 3 year old Certified pre-owned car - his third BMW and the first to be bought from a dealer. His previous ones were older and purchased from private owners, yet he had fewer initial problems than with this one. Yet, all dealers stack the deck by strongly asking customers to only give them a top grade when the car company sends a survey to the customer. This is completely counter-productive, and should not be allowed by the car company. Apple retail stores do not allow it and if they discover it, a firing offense. Yet car companies must be aware of it and therefore are conspiring to invalidate their own research. Even when the customer does give excellent ratings, they are usually resentful about the pressure.
However, as a result of this over-claim, BMW has disappointed and since word of mouth is so powerful the company probably will lose sales, even of new cars. Interestingly, while many companies now track online comments, I have found that the least effective companies do not. I would be intrigued to see if BMW does - I know that Kia pays close attention to online comment.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Why do people talk too much?

I know a number of people who talk too much. They do not realize that it is very counter-productive. When you are talking you are not listening and cannot learn. You also encourage the other person to drift off and think of something else. They also do not have the chance to ask questions and often instead of persuading them to your opinion, it actually dissuades them. Many of us have the tendency to talk to much, but it is a good habit to deliberately pause and allow the other person to talk or ask questions. In fact it is a good idea to encourage the other person to talk.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Are "independents" in the US really independent, or merely undecided?

The term "independent," those who are not registered with either major party, is usually used as synonymous with those in the center. This is not necessarily correct. It may be more true that they are simply less interested, or that they have more esoteric views. It is a virtually meaningless term in countries other than the US. In the UK, perhaps the analogous term is "undecided." it would probably be more precise to use a different set of terms in the US.