Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Want an eco-friendly car without the hassle of plugging in? Check out the Charging Wireless Pad for the Nissan Leaf

Fast Company just wrote about the new charging wireless pad for the Nissan Leaf.  I like the innovative progress in finding alternative methods of energy to run a car.  I grew up in the Jetson's era, and as a kid we were told that by the time we were adults, we would be in flying cars.  I guess that's not going to happen any time soon.  But at least as a consumer I have choices for transportation that can eliminate spending hundreds of dollars every month on gas.  I like where Nissan is headed.  Wireless charging pads make a lot of sense.  The car still only has a driving range of approximately 100 miles on a single charge, however if charging pads are available at convenient places such as parking garages, malls, grocery stores, etc., it  can eliminate the fear of running out of juice.

CNN reports that it's a neck and neck race between the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf.
A quick comparison:

  • The Volt is a gas/electric hybrid. The Leaf is purely electric.
  • The Volt requires 10-12 hours to charge.  The Leaf requires 8 hours.
  • The Volt costs $43,000 vs The Leaf at $34,500.
  • Both cars have elite buyers with an annual household income of $150k.  By comparison, the Toyota Prius has an annual household income of $100k.
  • 56% of Volt owners would pick the Leaf if they had a second choice.

It definitely feels like progress and time will tell if the Nissan Leaf will be a winner, along with the wireless charging pad.

A quick look at their media launch plan informed me that I'm in their primary target market to buy the product.  White women, ages 35-54 with annual household incomes of >$100k, married with kids, well educated and professional employment.  Concerned about the environment, early adopters, pay a premium for environmentally friendly products, more concerned about safety and functionality than engine displacement and horsepower.

I live in Denver, CO which was not one of the test market cities.  I guess it remains to be seen if eventually they will promote the car to women in Colorado.  So far, I haven't seen anything other than the Fast Company article.  Perhaps sometime in 2012 I'll update this post about trading in my Acura RDX for a Nissan Leaf.  We will see!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mobile Payments are Soaring for Holiday 2011 Sales

PayPal reported that Black Friday showed a 6-fold increase over 2010 sales, 516% increase year-to-year.     Cyber Monday had a 552% increase.  Mobile payments are the big winner this holiday season since consumers opted to take advantage of online sales and made purchases via their smartphones and tablets. There was nearly a 400% increase in the number of consumers utilizing PayPal mobile on Cyber Monday.  This is good news for the mobile payments industry.  Consumer confidence has definitely increased with regard to security of their payment information and/or using PayPal.

SMBs should be thinking about how their consumers access their website via smartphone and tablet, if they haven't already done so.  Mobile-rendered websites seem to be a trend, separate websites created specifically for access on mobile devices is another way (, as well as Apps.  It would be interesting to see numbers pertaining to the average number of apps a consumer downloads, and the usage of those apps.  Personally, I have about 3 dozen apps on my Android phone.  I religiously use my Starbucks app, which is a combination stored value card/gift card and loyalty so I can hit a button on my app and the cashier scans the barcode and my payment is made.  I love that my "stars" for my rewards update nearly instantly, as does my remaining balance.

The other app I use religiously is Key Ring.  All of my plastic loyalty cards have been scanned into this handy, dandy app so whenever I head to the grocery store, favorite shoe store or even the movie theater, I open my Key Ring app, click on the retailer name and voila - my loyalty # and barcode are right there for a quick scan or data entry into the register.

I would use my "mobile wallet" (aka my smartphone) more often if retailers had the means for me to do so.  Starbucks seems to be leading the pack right now.  This Holiday season is very promising, and shows that the industry is moving in that direction.  I am excited about that.  Who needs cash and plastic credit cards if you can do everything via your smartphone or other device?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

NY Times reports Salvation Army Bell Ringers now accept mobile payments via Square

I heard about some very entrepreneurial Girl Scout Troops in California taking credit cards for payment when they go door-to-door or sell at the grocery stores.  They "charge it!" simply using a smartphone and Square, a small device that attaches to a smartphone.  Simply swipe - and that's it!  Yesterday, The New York Times reported that the Salvation Army has also jumped on the mobile payment bandwagon.  Since fewer consumers actually carry cash these days, it made sense for the non-profit to bridge that gap.  So don't be surprised if you go to your favorite retail stores this holiday season and the bell ringer says they now accept credit cards.  Everyone has the ability to accept credit cards, from anywhere.  Think of all the home-based businesses that would enjoy the ease and convenience of taking credit cards for payment.  Mobile payment just keeps getting better and better!
Photo source

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Redbox increases prices by 20%

Photo from The Christian Science Monitor

It is interesting times that we live in.  I teach "Introduction to Marketing" for Columbia University's School of Continuing Education.  For the past two semesters, I have included the Netflix case study in the course syllabus.  It was fortuitous for my students that the company made major corporate decisions while we were studying the case.    It is a great learning tool for understanding the importance of keeping a pulse on your customers and understanding the true value you provide them.

Now it's time to pay attention to Redbox' s response to the marketplace.  According the Christian Science Monitor article yesterday, Coinstar (parent company of Redbox), released a report that their quarterly earnings have nearly doubled, primarily due to the revenue increases at the 34,000+ rental kioks.  That's not surprising since consumers are still reeling from the Netflix price increase. Nearly 800,000 Netflix customers have jumped ship.  It appears that Redbox is a viable substitute for many of those consumers.

However, companies can't count on doubling earnings every quarter.  It's no doubt that the number crunchers at Redbox have run financial models that show they can earn even more by increasing their price by 20 percent, despite losing some customers in the process.  All 34,000+ kiosks will now have to change their $1 signage to $1.20 or simply remove pricing signage all together.  Twenty cents may not sound like a big increase to consumers but the leap is significant.  Repeat customers may be disenchanted with this decision and cut back on their rentals.  First time customers may not even notice or care about the price increase.  My hunch is that there will be some backlash but it may only slightly impact the growth rate of Redbox.

According to The Christian Science Monitor, "Coinstar said it ended September with a U.S. market share of nearly 35 percent compared to 33 percent for Netflix and other DVD-by-mail services. A year ago, Coinstar pegged its market share at 24 percent with Netflix and other DVD-by-mail services at nearly 36 percent."

Double digit growth in this economy is impressive.  Redbox can thank Netflix faux pas' for their increase.  I think Redbox should be more mindful to their loyal customers moving forward.  Let's hope they have a sound marketing strategy in place to develop long-term profitable relationships with those customers, and turn them into influencers to continue their double digit growth.  If I were the CMO of Redbox, I'd make sure I had an excellent referral program in place to keep Redbox fans in it for the long haul.   I would also make sure I anticipate my competitor's moves so I'm not sitting with egg on my face like many of the folks at Netflix right now.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Brad Feld is interviewed by Larry McKeogh of Rocky Mountain Product Camp

The 2nd Annual Rocky Mountain Product Camp will be held on Saturday, October 29, 2011.  It's 8am-4pm at Auraria Campus Tivoli Turnhalle.  It's FREE to attendees - thanks to the generous support of sponsors, such as Pragmatic Marketing. Learn more at

Brad and Larry have an interesting dialogue about the product management role within an organization and how difficult it is to find talent that is truly effective in their role.  Watch the interview!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Jonathan Stark's Mobile and Social Experiment for a Free Cup of Coffee

The Los Angeles Times ran an article yesterday that I found fascinating.  It is about a social and mobile experiment created by Jonathan Stark.  He decided to give the world a cup of coffee.  How?  By taking a picture of his Starbucks card and putting it on the Internet.  A bold thing to do right?  He decided to take the "pay it forward" concept of paying for someone's cup of coffee to a whole new level.  I was so intrigued by this experiment, I decided to load some cash on his card since he ran out of money just so we could keep this thing going.  
What's interesting is that more people tend to load money on the card than not.  And the minority actually spend more than the price of a cup of coffee.  They perhaps load up on bags of coffee or mugs.  There will always givers and takers out there right?  But the good news is that most people do the right thing.  If you don't want to read the article, check out his website to learn all about the experiment.
Follow him on twitter - @jonathanscard to see his balance.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Walgreens Mobile App Makes it a Snap to Refill your Prescriptions

I just downloaded the Walgreens Mobile App for my phone today.   It's available for the iPhone, Droid and Blackberry phones.  What I like is the simplicity to get the app itself.  Once you go to their mobile page, it provides the information you need about the app and provides instructions on how to download the app, based on the type of phone you have.  I took the easy path.  I sent a text to APP to 21525 and immediately received a text back with the short URLs to access the iPhone, Droid or Blackberry app.  I clicked on the Droid link - was brought to the download page within the Droid Market and within seconds, had the app on my phone.  That was pretty easy.  So now it was time to refill my prescription.  This is the best part!  You click on the Refill icon in your app and it brings up the  barcode reader on your phone so you simply scan the barcode on your prescription bottle.  Voila!  It instantly knows that it's me, what my prescription is, and puts in a default pick-up time for the next day.  I clicked "Done" and immediately received a text confirming my order.  It's the best way to avoid that tedious phone call to the automated system to refill your prescription.

This app just made my interaction with them a snap - the snap of my barcode reader so my order can be completed in literally a few seconds.  Love that!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011 Labs Says You Are What You Tweet. So how do I compare to Guy Kawasaki?

Do you ever wonder what your tweets actually say about you?  Or how they compare to a celebrity's tweets, or one of your favorite business book authors?  Well now you can with!

I became an even bigger fan of Guy Kawasaki after I read his latest book, "Enchantment."
I was so enamored with his simple and thoughtful approach to not just delighting customers, but to truly enchant them, I made the book required reading for my Columbia University class, Intro to Marketing/Marketing Management.  Our class was enchanted by him last night, when he was a guest speaker in our class.  

As a business legend, I often wonder why other leaders in the C-Suite don't try to adopt his principles and philosophies.  Heck, just do the right thing by their employees and their customers.  Yet in today's global marketplace, that is not our norm.  

When a colleague showed me's Infographics for Twitter today, I just had to create one for myself.  So who did I pick to compare myself with?  Guy of course!

I think it's a pretty good comparison - and will prove to be insightful to companies who choose to go brand vs brand.  I challenge you to compare your company's twitter handle versus one of your top competitors.  What does it show you? 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

US Postal Service provides 3% discount on letters with a mobile bar code

Great news for the mobile barcode industry.  Mobile Marketer reported today that the USPS provides business a three percent discount on Standard Mail and First-Class Mail letters and flats that include a mobile bar code, between July 1 and August 31.  They have partnered with ScanBuy on this initiative.  It's an ideal partnership to speed up adoption for QR codes/2D barcodes in general.  

Now mail recipients can interact with the business by scanning the code and obtain coupons, watch videos, or receive other information.  Direct Marketing Association (DMA) must be thrilled about this initiative since mailing pieces are even more trackable and measurable than ever before.  

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Take your 4G Internet with you Anywhere with CLEAR

A colleague showed me this nifty little product that allows him to have 4G internet access where ever he goes.  It used to be called Rover, but as of July 1st, the name changed to CLEAR

Looking for a free Wi-Fi hot spot sometimes is difficult to do.  Whether you need 4G speed at home, or when you're out and about on business, CLEAR has the ideal way for you to access it, at an affordable price.  Plus you can have up to 8 devices connected with the Rover Puck!  

They have various types of wireless devices to utilize such as Clear Spots (the Rover Puck shown below), USB drives and Home Modems.

Data plans start at $20/month and they have unlimited data for $49.95.  Now that's a bargain for 4G access!

You don't have to search for that coffee shop, McDonald's or Taco Bell to find your hot spot.  
Check out their coverage plans to be sure they can provide service in your neck of the woods.

Juniper Research forecasts Mobile Payments to reach $670B by 2015

 Mobile Commerce Daily posted the latest Juniper Research data regarding mobile payments.  There will be 2x-3x growth over the next 5 years, and will reach $670B, which isn't surprising.  There are many retailers leading the mobile payment trend, such as Starbucks.  NFC services are driving consumer adoption.  For example, I recently downloaded the new Droid app to make payments with my smartphone at Starbucks.  I was impressed by the real-time sync up of my gold card balance and the ease at which I could pay at the register, simply by holding my phone screen up to their barcode reader beside the register, with the app open.  It was very fast, and definitely has the cool factor.  I noticed that my card balance updated again within 1-2 minutes.  That's slick!

I might just be a sucker for cool technology, and for earning free Starbucks drinks, but the fact is I'm spending twice as much as I used to by using my smartphone for payments.  I used to reload my gold card every other month or so with about $35-$50 each time.  Now, I'm reloading it in 3-4 weeks.  By providing an app for my Droid phone, Starbucks caused me to increase my purchasing.   I think that would be applicable to other brands I'm loyal to if they created an app as well.  There's plenty of money to be made by leveraging mobile payments.  The method is quickly becoming the new normal for consumers as we see more and more retailers create their mobile strategies.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

QR code creation using Sharpies? Try it!

I'm not a graphic designer at all - but I thought I would experiment a little bit using Sharpie Stained markers to see if it could work making a QR code that links directly to the Sharpie Squad blog.  The paper version of this works fine.  Depending upon which reader you use on your smartphone, it's questionable whether it will work for you when you scan it.  Try it!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Guy Kawasaki reminds us that we all need to work at "Enchantment"

I've been hearing a lot of positive reviews about Guy Kawasaki's latest book, "Enchantment."  It's been on my reading list for the past couple of weeks.  I was hoping to download it to my Mac Kindle, but it wasn't an option so I finally ran out to Barnes & Noble to purchase it.  Since I'm in the middle of writing an online course "Intro to Marketing/Marketing Management," which I will be teaching at Columbia University this Summer, Fall and Spring 2012, I wanted to see if this book should be added to the reading list in the course syllabus.  As it turns out, I will definitely add it for a number a reasons.  It's ideal for students learning about marketing a business.  But it's also ideal because we are human beings interacting inside and outside of the workplace.

The book's title "Enchantment:  The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions" sums up the essence of this book.  It's not rocket science, yet it is a concept that has been difficult for many to grasp.  Whether you are in the board room, or family room, this book provides a check list and plenty of anecdotes to highlight the do's and don'ts for enchanting people - customers, employees, family members, etc.  Treat others the way you want them to treat you.  Sounds simple.  But do we emulate that ourselves?  Not particularly well given the state of the world.

Throw the term "customer service" out the window and replace it with "enchanting customers."  At the end of the day, that's what you need to do to create influence by everyone.  It used to be about focusing on "key influencers".  However today's tools allow us to reach anyone and everyone.  Suzie NoOneHasEverHeardOf may be the best evangelist for your business.  But you won't know about it until you live and breathe enchantment at your place of business and (as Guy quickly reminds us) at home too!

We all need to hear these reminders over and over again so we start to embody the essence of enchantment. That's when it becomes part of our DNA.  

Friday, April 8, 2011

Companies still try to figure out "their one thing"

I was at a workshop earlier this week and the speaker, Tom Doyle, brought up a scene from the movie "City Slickers" with Jack Palance and Billy Crystal.  "The secret of life is finding the one thing."  When Billy Crystal asks how would he know what the one thing is, Jack says "that's for you to figure out."
Here's that scene from YouTube:

Even today, with all the sophisticated tools and techniques, all the "Web 2.0" savvy people using more ways to get the company's message out there, there is still confusion around what to that message should be.

It's not about throwing the whole bowl of spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks. It's about one single message that your customer can wrap their head around.  Sure your business might do everything, but what are you really good at?  What drives the most revenue for your company?

I was behind a truck today on the way to the office and it was for a local Upholstery business.  They highlighted "upholstery" and "furniture repair" - and then went on to say "free initial consultation," "references available" and there wasn't even a URL or phone # on the sign.  Really?  I was behind this truck for 30 minutes and although I could have looked up the company name on my computer once I got to the office (if I was able to remember the name), why would you put all these messages on the back of a track and have no call to action?  Why distract me with with sales messages?  Focus on Upholstery - why is your business the one for me to call?

I challenge your business to highlight and focus on the 1 thing you do very well.  Can you articulate it? Or does it have to be in the one paragraph, 30 second elevator speech?

Nail what it is that you do best and continue to drive your revenues.   You will be able to upsell or cross-sell your other products and services.  Just get them in the door first.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Hooked on Apps? Join the Club. The Loyalty Club with KeyRing App.

I mentioned in a previous post that I have a Samsung Epic smartphone.  I can't live without it.  I'm more productive and more connected than ever before.  (If I don't want to be connected, I simply shut it off.)

One of my favorite app's (other than My Coffee Card by Starbucks), is the Key Ring app.  It has changed how I manage my Loyalty cards with 20+ retailers.  I used to have a wallet dedicated to just Loyalty cards.  You name it, I had it.  
  • Grocery stores such as King Soopers, Safeway and Albertson's (just in case)
  • Movie theaters:  Regal and AMC
  • Coffee shops:  Peaberry and Starbucks (I love my Gold card actually!)
  • Restaurants:  Garbanzo, Panera Bread, Macaroni Grill, etc.
  • Gen'l Retail shops:  DSW, Blockbuster, Office Depot, Office Max, Staples, PetsMart
  • Plus alot more believe it or not
I actually would take the wallet out and tell the cashier "Just a 'sec while I get my card" and I'd hear the groans from the people behind me in line.  It was a little annoying, but worth it to get my rewards perks.

The Samsung Epic runs on the Droid operating system and the sky is the limit for apps.  I recently read that Droid apps just surpassed iPhone apps in volume.

I heard there were some cool loyalty management apps and I did a search in the App Market and found "Key Ring".  I installed it and quickly started scanning the barcodes from my loyalty cards.  If the card didn't have a bardcode, no problem.  You enter the loyalty ID number and it stores that.

Now when I'm at the retail store I pull out my phone, click on the Key Ring App and look for the logo of the store that I'm in.  There's a "card view" button and when you click it - it displays your card info.  The cashier either scans the barcode or enters the loyalty ID number.  It's that simple.  What did I do with my old wallet that was overstuffed with Loyalty cards?  Threw it in my desk drawer.  I hope I never have to use it again!

Got your QR Code? It's easy to do with PingTags

Check out my LinkedIn profile!

QR codes are popping up everywhere.  Retailers are using them to entice consumers to check out special offers.  The City of New York is requiring that by 2013 every building in NYC will have a building permit with a QR code to provide information about that permit.

It seems like a fad.  But I think it's going to be more than that. allows you to create a QR Code for free - that will link to any URL would like.  I picked the URL for my LinkedIn profile since I use this on the back of my business card.  People say "hey you're geeking out on technology".  I say - why not check it out and see the value in what it can do for your business!

I seem QR codes on buses and on the back of trucks.  I'm thinking - hmmm - how the heck am I going to use my BarCode reader to capture that code?  Thus far, I've been unsuccessful.  But on stationery objects like buildings, brochures, websites, business cards, signs, etc., it makes sense.

And if you want, you can get a designer QR code made that has a graphic or logo in it.  There are creative agencies that specialize in "designer codes."

How do you read them?  If you have a smartphone you can download a free barcode reader from your App store.  I use the Samsung Epic, which is a Droid, so I go to the Market to download my apps.  My choice was I-nigma.  It's one of the most popular ones out there.  It's awesome.

The rival to QR codes is MS Tags.  They have a completely different look - and so people will get start to recognize that they need the Microsoft reader in order to get the information from the Tag.  I haven't crossed that bridge yet.  I've mostly encountered QR codes on restaurant receipts.  But since it's Microsoft, I'm sure MS Tags will start gaining popularity.

You'll see more industry stats posted about QR codes as we move along.  It's a rapidly growing area.

I've waited a long time to do this, but I'm jumping in

I've blogged for clients, I blog in my personal life, but I've never officially blogged as a marketer.  Now that's going to change.

I'm a marketer with a focus on Internet technology.  I'm an early adopter that likes to keep up on the latest and greatest tools and techniques that help me do my job better.  I launched and back in the mid-90's and dozens of companies since.  I've been consulting for tech start-up's since 2000.  I teach for Columbia University in their new online program.  I love to learn - which is why I teach.  I'm held accountable.  So I research ALOT.  I subscribe to a zillion email newsletters and I take the highlights from them all and either blog or tweet about them.  Either way, you can now skip sifting through all the information overload and look for the key takeaways here.  That's my goal.  Snippets.  Key points.  I'm data driven and finding the articles that share industry data is like finding gold nuggets.

So welcome aboard.  I hope you find this blog informative and time-saving for you!