Monday, December 15, 2008

Brand Consolidation

It's apparent that one of GM's many issues has to do with the wide variety of brands they present in the marketplace, that are in many ways very similar. Please participate in the poll, and let's have some dialogue about this.

IDB Project by Brand Autopsy

If you haven't done so, please visit the Brand Autopsy blog to witness a good analysis of Peter Drucker.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

High Museum

If you think these guys look good, you should see the real thing - High Museum.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Countdown with Ken Lovett



It's countdown to graduation. I have several pages left to complete my final project. In the weeks following, I will begin addressing local marketing issues by making use of the things I've learned in my M.B.A. program. Overall, it has been a positive experience. I now see the world in a much different light. I see ways to validate creativity in business, and I have an understanding of how marketing should apply to new ideas.

Supply Chain Management is normally perceived as a production or manufacturing profession. However, it has more to do with marketing than most would suspect. As I begin my new direction with this blog, I will try to develop more comprehensive entries that look deeply into local, and sometimes global, brands from the eyes of a marketing/supply-chain professional. I think you will find this to be an interesting perspective, and I look forward to having dialogue with those who respond.

Happy Birthday Kyle!!!




Best Wishes Nephew!!!

Cars and Competition

The recent talk about bailing out the Big Three automobile manufacturers has many people voicing their opinion about how their current misfortune should be handled financially. The bailout concept has brought about many questions when it comes to our economy and capitalism. Responsibility only applies to crisis, and rules should never apply to times of growth.

The average American is trying to conceptualize the recent downturn in the economy in their own way, and it's hard to see how any middle or lower class citizen could have anything to do with it. However, our movement as a nation is no different than the movement of any vehicle. There must be a cohesive arrangement of mechanisms to guide and propel the vehicle. Likewise, there must be a functional element to make the vehicle stop, or at least slow down. Without something to propel us, we can go nowhere. Without something to guide us, we will never get there. Without something to stop us, we risk the safety of all onboard.

I believe that whatever the decision, with regard to the Big Three car companies, the direction will dictate the overall business climate for this nation. It is not our democracy that is at stake these days. Rather, it is our professional value and validity in the global economy. All the social issues that plagued our nation for so long are now irrelevant, because we need our best and our brightest, regardless of background, to create and develop new ideas to help this nation compete. It is through cars and competition that we now see what can happen when we fail to make use of the brake pedal.

What to do about Detroit

Seth Godin gives his diagnosis for Detroit; Let the big 3 go to the wall and encourage hundreds of smaller car companies to emerge in their place; Scrub the dealer network and allow car shops to emerge that sell cars from all makes. Vive la revolution.

read more | digg story

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Starbucks/Teavana Acquisition Idea

Can someone tell me why a Starbucks/Teavana merger would be a bad idea?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Creating A Logo Is Only The First Step In Branding



Seth's famous blog addresses the continued misconception about branding, with respect to creating logos. The packaging web site DieLine also makes an attempt at addressing the perception among corporations about the impact of renovating their visual presence in the marketplace.

New logos don't create new revenue - only new products.

Marketing's Future: Another Article Take On It

John of the American Marketing Association has a very interesting take on the future of marketing, with respect to the current economic situation.

Let me know your thoughts.

Rethinking or Reacting

Before I begin, please read the abstract for this story from the Wall Street Journal.


Marketers Rethink Promotions to Accent Value
Holiday Inn Offers Flight Vouchers, and TiVo Tees Up Freebies, but Figuring Out What Will Resonate With Consumers Isn't Easy
By ANDREW LAVALLEE

Marketers are working overtime to overhaul their promotions, trying to snag customers who are increasingly in penny-pinching mode.

Holiday Inn recently considered the idea of offering guests a $50 credit they could use to play videogames. Instead, the hotel chain decided to attract travelers with print and online ads that offer a $99 flight voucher.
The ads, part of the "Stay Here, Fly There" campaign, began running last month.

The hotel chain was interested in the videogame pitch as a way to reel in tech-savvy business travelers, but it decided instead that the current economic turmoil argued for a more ...



There are many things that frustrate me about the discipline of marketing and advertising. One of the most annoying things about the industry is the inability to understand the essential role in business - MARKETS. At what point was this economic downturn truly a surprise to everyone, when the money ran out, or when CNN talked about it? It's my opinion that we as marketers should be able to truly understand how and when to shift strategies.

In a lot of ways, it is the fault of the expectations placed on businesses to generate quarterly successes. There were some fundamentals within the economy that gave clues to this new age of deflation and devaluation. The signs were all there, but it seems that it wasn't worth leaving the party - even when the music stopped. The tragedy in all of this is the successful companies that made the necessary transitions to remain profitable in today's turbulent times. Even in the midst of good management, their successes are somewhat affected by the damaging fear in the stock market.

All said, I think we as marketers should begin to move from account seekers to account-creators in everything we do.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Economy

What's your take on it?

Kenyatta Lovett,

This message was sent from a mobile device.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

PRIVATE REGULATION: An Economic Control

In the wake of what may be the most damaging economic blunder of our time, the concept of regulation has changed the positions of both political parties, as well as the general public. Upon the first impression in the eyes of a true capitalist, regulation is a way for “Big Brother” to mess up the party, and keep true growth from realizing it’s ultimate potential. From the perspective of the common man, regulation is a necessary governor for a vehicle that could have the potential of getting out of control. Where one calls for nature taking its rightful place, the other recognizes that anything man-made is not natural - including business.

Who would have thought that we would be in a time where both sides would be arguing the other side’s position on the issue? It’s like I was telling my friend the other day, regulation on the lower end of the economy (welfare) has a purpose, just as regulation on the upper end of the economy (Wall Street Welfare program). Here’s the difference, if you left those closest to poverty to their own devices, you could risk getting robbed for your wallet on any given day. On the other end of the spectrum, leaving those closest to the wealth ceiling to their own devices may result in you losing your retirement and you overall livelihood on any given day. Yet, the punishment and the criticism have been much greater for those in the poverty ranks. Meanwhile, the rewards and the praises have been saved only for those who mess up on a big scale. It is a reality that we should always consider in governing this country – a man will do his best to eat, and a man will do even more to ensure he eats forever. This survival/selfishness position speaks to the heart of mankind, and in no way can we ever expect true balance from it, much less responsibility. But, that’s not what this discussion is about.

In a parking lot conversation I had with a co-worker on Friday, he began talking about corporate giants, and the will they enforce on the world. Unless there is a justifiable economy of scale associated with such enormous growth, the concept of a global giant is, in his eyes, counter to the true goal of capitalism. In his opinion, certain types of businesses can only maintain a high level of quality and economy of scale through a local operation, especially when the business is driven by a high percentage of human knowledge-capital.

I introduced the issue I was having with advertising agencies in Nashville, which related to the limited number of mid and small agencies that could handle a very modest account. I mentioned how the barriers of entry were so great that it required an upcoming agency to quickly increase their rates to generate a contribution margin that could address the increase in fixed cost (swanky building, high-priced professionals, etc.). His response pointed to the fact that because the big guys have created an enormous barrier in the industry to keep new entrants from coming into the marketplace, the mere act of doing so is essentially the same thing as regulation. Maybe you already knew this, but this was a mind-blowing statement. Truly, how different is government regulation from an industry using its power to lobby for laws that would deny substitutes and alternatives from entering into the market?

Based on his valid point, I view regulation now as a necessary force in the marketplace. Is it better to be regulated by a few wealthy guys who don’t want things to change, or be regulated by a few wealthy guys who have to answer to the people and make this regulation be known to all who are affected by it? Let me know your thoughts.

Monday, September 29, 2008

What's The Deal?



After all of this time, there is still no deal for the "Bailout", a.k.a. "The Wall Street Welfare Program". It's amazing how things are getting out of whack. We've watched the prices get out of hand, and in the midst of just plain old living, we as a people have been taken for a ride. So, how does this effect the world of marketing?

As Slim Charles said, the cool character in the HBO series The Wire, "The game just got more fierce" - for whatever that means. The game will eventually take a transition from a growth strategy to a core competency/sustainable competitive advantage strategy - working on margins rather than market-share. The new marketing professional will yet again make another organizational movement from the creative world to the practical/problem-solving world. It's up to the marketing professionals, with the potential issues of credit contraction, to search for the new landing place for value.

Although it totally sucks to be graduating in such a debacle as this, I''m glad about my choice to concentrate my M.B.A. in Supply Chain Management. Coming from the creative world, I watched an entire industry get slaughtered by the sword of reality. Much like company politics, there's little room these days for things that don't really pertain to business. Truly, do you want to be the company slapped on the hand these days for discrimination? No, there's bigger fish to fry. Likewise, there's very little time for creative expression that isn't tied directly related to a monumental strategy.

By transitioning from creative professional to an idea strategist, I believe there is a newfound appreciation for professionals who can deliver the two worlds in a realistic balance. Similar to third-party logistics and extended enterprises, marketing will be tied even closer to the data that drives an organization. When this economy was flying high, marketing professionals could navigate the aircraft by looking out the window. Hell, it didn't matter if you dropped a few thousand feet, you were still 40,000 feet in the air. Now, the window is merely a reference for verification, because the decisions must be made by the instruments below. If the instruments say you are climbing at an enormous rate, you only need to briefly look out the window for blue skies.

One thing's for sure, Adobe Photoshop, a good jingle, or even viral marketing can't save you now. Tool up guys, it's game time.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

What I Like

I'm hanging out at Smoothie King with my two beautiful daughters. My dream for them is to have a few growing years in an urban setting. Although it's what I like, I thinks it provides the setting for family learning and quality time.

Kenyatta Lovett,

This message was sent from a mobile device.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Bill Gates: The Salesman and Opinion Leader

The latest ad with Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld shows both a new side of Bill Gates, as well as a new approach to advertising. First, the "common" light that Mr. Gates is portrayed in shows how it's actually okay to be a wealthy intellect. In these days and times, it's a stark contrast from the typical "Bling-Bling". Second, the ad is not product-specific, which lays the framework for, hopefully, an new approach to product advertising. The saturation and aggressiveness of advertising leaves a great deal to be desired in the advancement of marketing, with respect to advertising. This non-intrusive approach lays the possible foundation for product re-introduction or segment clustering, if phased through properly.

Either way, please let me know your thoughts.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

RuSan's Restaurant Japanese Cuisine

For a restaurant with good food and unique character, the brand presence of the establishment leaves a great deal to be desired. However, the restaurant has mastered one of the marketing "P's" to perfection. Nestled right in the heart of the Gulch, RuSan's price, promotion, and product are all supported by perfect placement. It maintains a nice crowd, in spite of limited branding and being located next to one of Nashville's hottest restaurants. For now, the restaurant should be able to sustain a strong following. However the lack of good branding may limit any possibilities for growth in the area. Only time will tell.

Kenyatta Lovett,

This message was sent from a mobile device.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Gas, Balance, and the Local Economy

This will mark my official live-remote blog from my cell phone. I have the opportunity of free time, an idea, and a need to express myself. If you combine this with the preparation of a cell phone, the equation is right for me to get "lucky".

Anyway, as I am attending a new local event that has been somewhat successful, an interesting article ran across my eyes. According to an article in InTech, a publication produced for the Institute of Standards and Automation, there is a new trend of reverse outsourcing by European and US companies. The dramatic increase in fuel cost has narrowed the advantage gap between local manufacturing and outsourcing. In many cases, the cost of transporting goods from overseas has tripled for businesses - forcing an adjustment in their supply-chain strategy. Therefore, many companies are bringing work back to the homefront.

As I stated before in a previous blog, the economic situation in this nation may present some positive byproducts for our society - only if we are ready for it.

The question presented to those who scream, "they stole our jobs!", is are you ready for the work? Better yet, what have you been doing to improve the efficiency of the US manufacturing sector to sustain this new advantage in a meaningful way?

This message was sent from a mobile device.

E-Marketing Video

This is not a bad video - seeing how it only lasts 2:30. It can provide many business and people interested in getting more e-aggressive a starting path.

Either way, let me know your thoughts.

Diatect's Performance Through New Marketing Strategy


In yesterday's Market Watch, Diatect was highlighted for their second quarter increase (51%), which was attributed to their new marketing strategy. By expanding their marketing channels in retail, internet, and agriculture, Diatect has found "new gold" by becoming more proactive in the marketplace. The significant factor related to their success has to do with the right product in the right economic environment (eco-friendly products). It shows how even a good product needs a strong marketing push to maximize the revenue potential of the effort.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Phelps Brand

Kudos to a man who reached the mark, and stayed on the mark. It's the story of perfection, and the requirements for it.

Kenyatta Lovett,

This message was sent from a mobile device.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Marketing Video

Let me know what you think.

AdLife

This is an interesting new discovery that apparently infuses social media into online advertising. It sounds interesting, but very unclear to me. Let me know you thoughts. - click here

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Test with image

Test with photo.

Smartphones and Blogging

This is a test to see if I can blog from my phone. If it works, I see new possibilities.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

What Happens To Blockbuster?


I'm interested to know, what actually happens to Blockbuster in the long run? Their current issue is a common issue for many companies and organizations. They see the physical realm and the virtual realm (internet) as two separate environments. In many ways they are, but the core model and platform of an organization should apply to both realms.

Blockbuster can't simply try to get in the middle of the game. They have to figure a way to position the organization where the market will be in two or three years. This means embracing new technology, and acquiring new online concepts - possibly even partnerships with current online powerhouses. For instance, it's not too late for Blockbuster to enter the mobile gaming sector by offering a component service for current mobile service providers.

It's amazing to see the video rental game transition into an on-demand market, but it's necessary for a healthy market. For any organization, especially technology or entertainment, the window for a competitive advantage is five years at best. What does this mean for a workforce that craves stability? Will this add dimensions project management? How will this change the portfolio structure of a conglomerate like Time Warner or Disney?

The 20% Off Coupon?

I'd like to make use or your services for let's say, uhmm, $100 million. Oh by the way, I have a 20% off coupon.

Should we question the nerve of GM, or the margin of these agencies?

Check it out!

The New Local Economy

This is yet another supporting item about how this new economy will change society. - click here

When In China......

This is an interesting article about how China has handled the Olympics from a PR perspective. I'm not sure what effect, if any, this pressure will have on this powerhouse nation.

http://www.marketingprofs.com/8/beijing-operation-olympics-patient-lindstrom.asp

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Fort Lauderdale: A Different Story



This past weekend, I went to Fort Lauderdale for a quick "meditation vacation". The trip was truly worth it. I had plenty of time to relax and drop anchor for a second in my life. The one thing that helped me relax was a morning run/walk through the city. The island breeze and the scent of the ocean gave me something I don't normally experience in my daily life. As I would travel through unknown areas, I began to notice the impact the housing market truly had on the South Florida area. Long story short, there is no sign of growth - only survival. I'm not saying it is the next Rust Belt, but it made me appreciate the situation we have here in Nashville.

Nashville traditionally is a conservative town - slow to take on change, and when change does happen, it's done the "Nashville" way. In good economies, the growth is modest, and the same rule applies for bad economies. For a risk-taker such as myself, it makes for a frustrating experience, but my visit to South Florida helped me understand the downside of "riding the wave". Although I would like things to move faster in this town, I have a new appreciation for the caution I've developed as a result of being a product of this strange city.

Oh yes, I concluded from my trip that disappointment and expectation have an positive relationship when you truly analyze it.

Peace and Blessings

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Opportunity Unrecognized







It seems apparent this summer the country will be facing gas prices that may hit $5 per gallon. Even if this doesn't happen, $4 per gallon sucks just as well. What does this mean for our economy? Well seeing how gas was only $1 per gallon nearly eight years ago, probably not much. Translation - "if they don't revolt at $3 per gallon, why not charge $4?" But, this is not what this conversation is about. This has much more to do with the responsiveness of business to address the societal changes that will result from limited travel and disposable income.

Yesterday, I went to TicketMaster's website to look up some jazz concerts in Nashville, as well as around the country. The result listing was pathetic at best. Nashville only had 3 events (compared to the 40 Country and Western Concerts for the summer), and other larger cities have only a few more. I looked up festivals in the area, and they were limited as well. It's extremely likely that most people will not travel far this summer for vacation. Based on this likelihood, it would seem that local promoters and business-owners would begin taking advantage of a market that normally alludes them during the summer.

In the midst of the digital age, and $6 cups of coffee, I believe we've lost our essential creativity to address a local market situation as we are facing today. I find it amazing that the music industry is crying "Uncle" because sales are down on CD's, but they won't take the talent to the streets to generate a grass roots following.

If I had to make a bet this summer, I would bet on local attractions thriving in this economy, and local entertainment finding a new renaissance in their patronage. It won't be the "bling-bling" situation we have been used to in the recent past, but a traditional success where every ticket sale makes sense - not only to the business, but to the consumer.

If you read this, and you have a local business, as Gordon Gecko said in "Wall Street", "LET'S GO TO WORK!"

Thursday, May 08, 2008

It's Been A While

It's been a month since my last entry. In that time, a great deal has happened in a compressed amount of time and space.

I'll share more with you during this month.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Gibson Goes After Guitar Hero

If you haven't done so already, check out the latest with Gibson Guitar and their case against Electronic Arts and many others for a video game that has now exceeded the $1 Billion mark.

I'm not clear on the case, but it sounds interesting.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Bridgestone - Branding Evolution



Bridgestone Leverages Brand Through Sports Sponsorships

The Nashville Business Journal reported on March 14th that Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire LLC recently received approval from the NHL to become one of their official sponsors. In recent years, Bridgestone has increased its presence in the sports arena, as well as its product offering for certain sports, life golf.



The Bridgestone brand has improved in many ways by (1) countering the premium-brand position of Michelin, and (2) producing sports products that challenge the definition of quality and excellence. When Bridgestone first launched their golf ball line, many golfers, including myself, equated the product to the sub-par Dunlop (another tire manufacturer) golf ball. In the end, the Bridgestone ball sits among the industry’s best balls. In fact, once-considered premium brands, like Slazenger, have shifted their market position to a younger crowd, interested in a power game – a transition from their previous performance game target.

It’s a natural progression for any established company to begin expanding their product offering, and transitioning their identity from a product company to a concept company. When you think of Sony, Apple, or even Coca-Cola, you more than likely no longer think about the specific product that made them famous, but you relate the name more to the concept of quality, with respect to electronics, personal computing, or even beverages. In this same respect, Bridgestone, in my opinion, is making the attempt to become known for making premium products with some derivative of rubber in them. It possibly may not be as clear as the previous three examples, but I don’t think the attempt will hurt their plans for growth and diversification of revenue sources.

This topic serves as an example to small businesses on how a brand develops. Too often, business owners offer a wide array of products or services to either not miss a buck or to support their main product that doesn’t truly “pay the bills”. In either case, chasing every possible buck often consumes more resources than it generates useful revenue, and supplementing a failing product/service with more profitable products/services often means the failing product/service eventually needs to be revamped or eliminated. Please note the word, “often”, because many people will say that the failing product/service has some necessary need that is exempt for ROI justification. For this argument, I have no retort.

Anyway, please keep Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire LLC on your radar for more significant branding moves in the market. They are a Nashville-based company, with a commitment to many local community initiatives, including education and diversity.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Starbucks News - The Response to Stagnation

Today, Starbucks announced their response to the recent decline in retail sales. They are taking several steps to improve sales and enhance the customer experience. Aside from the new espresso machine, the coffee giant is venturing into the social medial realm by launching My Starbucks Idea – attempting to form a virtual community in the world of coffee.


Brand Autopsy, a well-known marketing blog, has a wonderful assessment of the recent moves by Starbucks. John Moore, a marketing guru with experience creating ideas for Whole Foods and Starbucks, has spent some considerable time analyzing the issues related to Starbucks’ sales challenges. In his most recent blog entry, Moore breaks down the key moves from this new initiative, and provides some insight to the likely outcomes for this fast-growing company. Before you visit either of the links above, please read the article presented on MSNBC’s website.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Prince's Hot Chicken Shack

As I said before, I will begin focusing the content for this blog on things related to the Nashville and Tennessee area. There are some any things to discuss when it comes to marketing and branding in this area - some good and some bad. Honestly, I don't know where to begin. I've set up Google Alerts to receive mail related to this topic, and not much has come up so far. So, I will take it on my own to begin talking about a brand that has always amazed me in many ways.

In the city of Nashville, there's a restaurant called, Prince's Hot Chicken Shack, which serves up some of the best spicy chicken in town, and more importantly the country. Nowhere in the world can you find this taste, which has an appeal to almost anyone in the world. In fact before I began writing this entry, I Googled the restaurant, and received several results that were extremely positive. However, there is one amazing thing about this restaurant that breaks all the rules of the traditional brand, yet satisfies the core foundation of what a brand is all about.

To be brief, Prince's Hot Chicken operates on a stove that can manage two to three cast-iron skillets. On top of that, the main phone is a pay phone inside the store. I don't need to go into more detail for you to understand how this impact customer service and supply chain management. In summary, there's no question why everyone is in line - the chicken.

Anyway, over the years I've complained about how they would never survive on this business practice, and as you can see I'm extremely wrong about their business model. With their success, I've learned truly about the meaning of a brand. A brand is all about sticking to your guns, and keeping the lights on - whether it be neon or 60-watt bulb. In all these years, not much has changed about Prince's Chicken Shack, and because of this consistency the demand remains in constant growth. The moral to the story is that good branding and growth are not necessarily synonymous.

Here's to Prince's Hot Chicken Shack, and their example of good branding.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Decisiveness of a Decision

This past Tuesday, Nissan unveiled the 2009 Infiniti FX, both in the Geneva Motor Show and in the basement parking garage of their temporary headquarters. If you don’t know by now, I’m a huge fan of the Infiniti product. After owning two of them, I grew a serious affection for their unique customer service as well as the performance of the vehicle. It seems like just yesterday when there was a buzz around town about these three Japanese luxury lines. During those times, the commercial was about all the differentiation you could get among the three. But now, the commercials in a lot of ways are somewhat irrelevant.

All three brands have settled in to their chosen positions. In many ways, it’s a wonderful case on brand evolution. For Nissan, and its Infiniti brand, their ultimate appeal is power and performance – luxury obviously being the common component of all three brands. Take for instance the new FX, it can be equipped with a 5.0-liter V-8 engine with 390 horsepower. For the ego-driven person, this appeals to needs of power and impact. For the average person reading the business section of any major paper, it brings up thoughts of $100 plus barrels of oil.

Does this mean Nissan, and its Infiniti brand, are heading in the wrong direction? Who’s to say? For me, it shows a commitment to a decision to emphasize power and performance. The rest will be settled in the cost controls and supply-demand mix. In the end, you have to stick to your guns. Otherwise, people won’t know who the hell you are, much less what you want from them.

Although I would like to see the Infiniti product begin to address alternative fuels and lead the way for energy efficiency, apparently that’s not on their immediate radar. I guess its like pulling a u-turn in a 79 Deville in a tight alley, very little will be happening, but a whole lot will be hurting.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

A CHANGE IN FOCUS

A Blog About Local Relevance and Realism

It dawned on me the other day, while contemplating a potential overseas project, that I’m truly not ready to play the global game – mainly because I’ve yet to master the local game. After reading the article about Sheryl Sandberg’s transition to FaceBook from Google, I thought to myself, “how do you get your arms around something as complex as social networking on a grand scale?” And it dawned on me, in many ways the industry superstars simply the big picture compared to the thoughts the average professional, but in many ways they see the simple things in much more detail.

As of now, or for a little while at least, I will shift the focus of this blog to a more local concentration – to establish more relevancy and realism to a region that needs to improve the way they go about the business of business. It looks as if I will be here for a few more years, so I’ll make the best of this by analyzing and interpreting the marketing strategies of companies and institutions known across the globe or across town that operate out of Tennessee.

I look forward to your responses and comments as I begin to make entries about the state of Tennessee, and how it goes about the business of marketing. I invite everyone to send me questions and suggestions regarding this in-depth observation of a truly unique marketplace.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

SOCIAL NETWORKING

A Reality For Some. A Threat For Many.

If you haven’t read today’s headlines, Sheryl Sandberg, a 38 year-old business superstar has left her VP position at Google to join forces with Facebook. In the grand scheme of things, I’m not really sure how this news will impact the GDP or even the World Wide Web. But, it does create an interesting point about social networking.

I don’t have an overall message to this entry – only to encourage everyone to read the article by Ari Levy of Bloomberg. As a business leader, or even a marketing professional, if you are having trouble fully understanding your e-mail or Office 2007, it’s only going to get worse for you. You must be able to think both physically and virtually, with respect to your target market. This thing is far beyond IT.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Starbucks Closing Stunt





Not really knowing the financial impact (positive or negative) of yesterday's Starbucks closing stunt, I find a few positive brand reinforcements established from the effort. First, the public sacrifice of revenue to improve service is a great way to differentiate their commitment to quality from new emerging competitors. Although many competitors seized the moment by offering discounts to their coffee products, the gesture may have lessened their value as a product and as a brand.

Second, the unusual amount of growth probably has created some human resource issues. When things are moving fast, employees often forget the reason behind the urgency to perform better than yesterday. This "drop anchor" approach presents a way for management and employees to reconnect and regroup on fulfilling the essentials of the Starbucks brand.

Finally, the claim for most of the down-time was espresso. I guess it would have been difficult to claim to be working on a better cup of coffee. Espresso, on the other hand, is not a mainstream product in comparison to their other offerings. However, there is some room for improvement, due to the process. I know what you're thinking, "I've never had espresso, but I want to see what the fuss is all about". I won't call you a sucker, but, well, you know.

For now, the store closing stunt has presented some great possibilities for Starbucks. They've shown a commitment to service, and a value for their employees skills and development. They've also highlighted an area of improvement, which can only be recognized by a small fraction of their customer base. The true measure of their success will happen today, when you walk in to get your usual latte or grande cup of coffee. Will you notice a difference - a difference that says, "I get it"? I hope the marketing and PR folks at Starbucks have planned this exercise to produce something tangible for customers for the next few weeks. If so, the battle will have been won for the day. If not, the competitors have an opportunity to make up some much-needed ground.

REALLY?

In the past few days, BusinessWeek has released two articles about their concern for the economy. The first article, by the Standard & Poor's, and Action Economics staff, talks about inflation and consumer sentiment. The other article, by Chris Farrell, highlights "Stagflation", which is a term to suggest we're going back to the economy of the late 1970's. Well, I have a brief response. REALLY?

I may be one of the few citizens who remembers $1 per gallon gas in this decade, and housing prices below $200,000. All along, during the pricing increases, I said to myself, "Where is all the money coming from?". I even wrote a few school papers on predatory lending and inflation calculations, but no one seemed to be alarmed by the financial path of this nation.

If you get a chance, please read both articles. There's nothing new in them, if you have been a skeptic all along, but it is interesting. I truly don't get it. Our economy seems to be built on one scam after another.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

VALENTINE’S DAY

It’s amazing how ceremonial we have become in this world. I get totally confused during Christmas when someone who wouldn’t speak to me all year suddenly wants a hug and conversation, because it’s time to give and share. Valentine’s Day is not much different from the rest of the holidays. “EVERYONE AT THE COUNT OF THREE WE ARE GOING TO SHOW APPRECIATION TO OUR LOVED ONE, OR FIND THE CLOSEST PERSON TO SHOW APPRECIATION, BECAUSE IT’S VALENTINE’S DAY!!!!”, is what it translates into for this world.

When did we become so mechanical, so typical?

Everyday you wake up is the opportunity to exercise the very things you celebrate and execute on those famed holidays. If anything, the holidays should be times of reflection to review how you’ve loved, and how you’ve given to others during the entire year. We’ve grown into a practice of following and not being led.

I hope this day sparks a new initiative in all of us to get in the practice of practicing everyday. Me personally, I could care less about flowers, gifts and kisses on one insignificant day. I’d rather share a book or share a beautiful thought with someone on a day that really doesn’t matter, which in my life is more significant than any holiday.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you all. May the day bring you a new respect and understanding for love. May love encourage you to want to do better and be better. May that encouragement move you to make it happen for yourself and your love for God. May the act of “making it happen” allow for a closer walk with God.

- Gift 4 of 4

CAN WE GET A TRANSLATER IN HERE!!!?????

A matter of understanding scope, time, and impact
The role of the cutting edge marketing professional, regardless of institution or organization, is to make relevant translations between all parties to influence performance and progress. The consumer wants a need to be fulfilled, and so does the company who sells the product or service. How do you translate between the two parties to meet those needs? It’s easy when you have a company culture of totally valuing the customer, or when the customer totally understands the company. But what if there’s a communication barrier – with no fault to point out? Who then translates the message to both parties?

It’s far beyond spin, especially when neither party knows what they want.

Today, I came to understand the value of translating. It will become one of the most valuable commodities in the marketplace. The professional who can listen, and match those keywords with solutions from another language will make the biggest difference in the organization. Technology, in many ways, has forced all professions and disciplines to lose contact with other aspects of the business. Therefore, it is the role and responsibility of the marketing professional to make those connections, and create a platform where understanding (if not dialogue) can take place.

I don’t have a point to make. I’m just rambling to feel better. Never underestimate the value of listening.

- Peace

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

A New Day

Stuart Elliott’s recent article in the New York Times titled, “For Marketing, the Most Valuable Player Might Be YouTube”, acknowledges the impact of online and access-on-demand video, with respect to marketing. More than ever, commercials now have the ability to have a more dynamic impact on how consumers understand their brand. For me, it’s a refreshing alternative to the ambiguous creative work done during the web boom.

With the emergence of accessible video, and a considerable demand for it, advertising has the ability to have a closer relation to the quantitative objectives set by the corporation. This also places pressure on traditional forms of media, such as billboards and magazine ads, to find their position in the world of advertising.

I really don’t have a point with this entry. I simply would like to introduce the concept that Mr. Elliott has exposed, which is helpful to all walks of marketing professionals.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?

In reality, marketing can be a scary endeavor for most professionals. We always revel over the great ideas and success stories in marketing and advertising. However, we fail to realize that for every success story, there are the others – for what it’s worth.

Last week, I made a long-overdue trip to visit a good friend in the retail business. He’s paid his dues through hard work with some our nation’s finest corporations. In spite of his battle scars and war stories, he still believes in success, and he never walks away from a good business challenge. My career hasn’t been noteworthy thus far, but to know him and work with this guy always gives me hope that maybe one day I can get on the right corporate track.

During my visit, we began talking about an old friend, and we both agreed that one of his biggest faults was his strategy to make a million decisions for what actually only required one decision – a sort of high-powered machine gun approach to solving a business problem. The upside of this approach is that you discover the answer to take the company to new heights. The downside to this strategy is that you also discover the bomb that puts the company in the tank. Eventually, you hope for a wash, which sums up failure in the world of profit and growth.

As for my friend and mentor, I admire the fact that he never hesitates to execute a strategy, and he sticks to the decision. I wouldn’t call him a marketing sniper, but more of an efficient commander, who uses the appropriate weapons for the war at hand. As marketing professionals, we are called to “pull the trigger”, because no one else will do it. If you can’t do it, you may hurt more than just yourself.

Here’s to those who think first, but not too long, and pull the trigger at the right time with the right amount of bullets.

Monday, January 21, 2008

2008 Is Here!

Okay, I've been slacking, and two weeks is really too much time in between for my blogs. Anyway, I hope 2008 has brought you all joy, happiness, and STACKS OF CASH. As for me, nothing exciting on the business end has happened. However, I am looking forward to this year being my year of completion - a graduation in many respects.

Earlier this past week, I was invited to be part of BisonRoundUp.com, a social networking site for Howard University alumni. Although I chickened out, I think the site is wonderful, because it allows fellow alum, such as myself, to reconnect with past close friends in an context that helps me remember "THE GLORY DAYS". Which leads me to my topic of discussion on this blog, The Inverted Business Development Flow.

In past times, all big things (music, products, etc.) started off small, and with enough interest, evolved into huge successes. It was the responsibility of the large corporations to be able to seek and develop modest solutions, and surround it with financial and managerial support to enable it to serve a larger population. It seems now, in many respects, that there is opportunity for the small business to apply this same development process to the creations of the big guys. BisonRoundUp.com is a prime example of this process. MySpace and FaceBook, in a physical analogy, seem like a house party in the Biltmore. No matter how many candles and couches you place in each room, it will never be as intimate as the house party at your friend's condo.

In 2008, I hope all you small business guys begin to make use of your power to personalize the many experiences established by the corporate giants. No matter how small the world becomes, people still have a need to be identified with a small faction of society.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Above All


This past Holiday season, I had the pleasure of racing back to Nashville to see some life-long friends. It was truly a special time for all of us. Although life has happened to us, our care and concern for one another has remained as sincere as glory days of the past. All of us, and I mean all of us, are consumed with the daily challenges of life - trying to make sense of a world that seems to be allusive on many facets. However, to see the smiles and laughter made this struggle all worth while for me.

Above all the dreams of money, power and fame, friendship is the most valuable jewel on Earth. Happy New Year brothers, and my prayers are with you Sean and Ben.

5000.