Here’s a Market Researcher

One of the persistent themes of this blog has been the need to do market research before you launch a new product with your existing customers, or the new customers that you hope to have.

Well, a guy named Richard Decker called me last night, as he does about once a quarter to catch up, and I thought it would be a good idea to publicize his background in the blog, because it reaches a far wider audience than just our clients here in Arizona and elsewhere.

Richard is a quant jock as we used to call them, which means he’s data driven to his conclusions. He will design the questionnaires that will get objective answers (possibly not the answers you want to hear) and are essential to moving forward with product or service decisions. He has done both B2C and B2B research. They can also do international research. His background is on his website, www.globalfieldresearch.

Richard’s email is rdecker@globalfieldresearch, and his phone number is 801-224-3994.

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View From The Top

The Wall Street Journal recently devoted an entire section, called C-Suite Strategies, to what leaders of corporations were thinking.

Frankly, it was a little underwhelming.

I expected to see great thoughts on gaining market share, pricing philosophy or people strategy and other worthy topics that bedevil CEOs, but that wasn’t present.

Instead, we get Joe Ripp, CEO of Time Magazine saying that People magazine allowed competitors to get a digital foothold, meaning somebody screwed up. No mention of what he’s going to do to fix it.

Or we have Susan Cameron CEO of Reynolds American saying a decade from now, people could be ‘vaping’ or smoking e-cigarettes. News flash Susan: they already are. What’s your plan beyond ecigs?

One we have someone named Melissa Ben-Ishay talking about how she apparently turned down venture capital to keep her bakery ‘true to itself’. Maybe the wrong v.c.’s were talking to her, maybe she’s afraid of growth. Either way, it looks odd. Why not have a smaller part of something much larger.

So, at least WSJ is covering some business strategy; the bad news is that they’re not probing very deeply, and the CEOs come off as looking rather shallow.

And, they missed a few topics: customer service is a major omission. How are they using social media, if they are?

Time for a follow-on article, guys. Let’s get a more positive outlook on things, not just how we screwed up.

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4 Keys to Finding Hidden Leaders in Your Organization

This is an excellent article in the Leadership Blog that rather had the punch line of the title buried in the body of the article.

My experience has been that leaders will assert themselves in meetings or in how they manage their groups, but the article makes the case that there are hidden leaders in your organization that you might not be aware of.

The point of the article was that hidden leaders demonstrate leadership through four key attributes:

1. They lead through relationships. They get along with others and value others, interacting well with others.

2. Focus on results. The hidden leader maintains a wide perspective and acts with independent initiative. They use the end to define the means, which can mean working outside strict procedures and processes to get results. Unorthodox comes to mind.

3. Remains Customer Purposed. This is different than customer service; it is an awareness of how an action in a specific job affects the customer.

4. Demonstrate Integrity. This was actually the first one listed, but you can see from the others that hidden leaders would act with integrity. They will be focused on the welfare of everyone, not just themselves and/or their team.

The article goes on to say that flatter organizations are more likely to have hidden leaders, but I should think, based on my own experience and that of our larger clients, that larger organizations are more likely to have them, but recognition might be more problematic.

So, here’s a little thinking for you over the weekend or this afternoon: who in your organization fits these characteristics.

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Mind the Mindfulness

Harvard Business Review had an article last week about how leaders should be mindful, which in their parlance meant that they should be aware of more things, rather than just the growth of their business, but to our way of thinking, they’re a little shortshighted. We thought there could be more facets to mindfulness.

1. Owners should be mindful of customers and what they’re telling you about your product or service, your staff or anything else. This is especially important as you grow, because you and maybe some associates birthed this puppy, and you’re inclined to think you know best. As you grow, you and your other founders may NOT know best.

2. Not knowing what’s best is where leadership comes in. You have to marshall efforts among your staff, customers and everyone else to figure out what is best for the business. Maybe new products, maybe new services on existing products.

3. If anything, you should become more mindful, at least in the dictionary definition, as you grow, because you’ll have more external and internal influences, and you have to be aware of all of them.

So, I think the point of the article was really that you should curb your own impulses to think everything you do or want to do is right, and go solicit opinions from anyone who might have some input on the matter before you.


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R.I.P. Radio Shack

If all the people mourning the death of Radio Shack had started a year or two ago, maybe management might have awakened from its slumber.

First of all, RS is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which means that someone could acquire them for next to nothing. I’ve seen numbers of $65 million for 7,000 stores. That’s dirt cheap.

But, RS seems to have a problem with what to put in the stores. They haven’t moved into the digital age, which is sad, because there was some Marketing Myopia going on. I can remember buying a TRS-80 for my kids to play on, which they loved, and later upgraded to a Mac. This should have been a clue to roll with the digital age. RS would have been a natural haven for software and digital geeks to congregate, an early precurson of Apple stores.

But, that was then; what about now? There are rumors that Google might buy them, and create a store concept to rival Apple stores; a rebranding as ‘Google Store’ is in order. The RS name is a little past its prime.

Radio Shack also has a cadre of about 1,000 hardcore franchisees, and they should be listened to; franchisees, because their money is at stake, usually have good ideas.

There’s another company here in Phoenix called MicroAge which could buy RS (which a little creative financing); the name is right, and the MicroAge stores have been a success. McKeever, give me a call.

Bottom line, it seems to me that a lot of non-techies would like to go into a physical storefront and touch what they’re buying. I think that’s the central concept behind Apple Stores, and it works.

So, maybe Radio Shack will live on.

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No War Words in the Workplace

Smart Brief on Leadership published an interesting article from the Sydney Morning Herald about the language of leaders (or anyone else for that matter) being too warlike.

It may be that since both countries are involved in wars, that language in the workplace suffers (open to questions on that one).

‘Killing it’ is to my mind the most often used, and most ridiculous. OK, so you’re doing well; no harm in just saying so, but it might strike some as boastful. I think younger workers are more guilty, as are those hot young entrepreneurs who just raised millions of dollars in the venture capital market.

It could also be that there’s just a surfeit of good words that people are used to using in public, so they fall back on war words.

So, think about your language and that of your employees.

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On Revenue: It’s Ready vs. Not

The Wall Street Journal had an interesting article this morning about a change in accounting rules on revenue recognition.

Big yawn, right?

What the article says is that the FASB, the rule making body for accountants, is thinking about (emphasis thinking about) making  a change to the way companies recognize revenue on long-term contracts, to bring it more into compliance with international norms.

As I recall from my accounting classes, there are already a variety of ways you can recognize revenue, but this change in rules might change all of them, if the FASB issues it. I would guess that they’re in the comment phase now, so have your accountants get in touch with the FASB if it affects you.

If we have any readers who are involved with public companies, the change will definitely affect you if it becomes official guidance. Ford, Verizon, Microsoft and several software companies have asked for a two year delay in issuing the guidance, because they’ve got to change electronic accounting systems.

So, talk to your accountant about what’s going on.



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Don’t Kill the Golden Goose

Well, Obama’s SOTU speech last night was a recycling of all the old liberal hoo-hah that they’ve been peddling for the last 20 years, aside from Clinton, who, after he got clobbered, veered to center right in his second term and was, to my thinking, and effective president.

We know that Obama is a narcissist, and they can’t ever be wrong, but this was just silly.

How someone can be that out of touch with his fellow citizens after six years is mind-boggling.

Why the networks did any more than promote it a little bit until after the speech was done is beyond me. Even the Foxies fell into the liberal trap.

I thought Joni Ernst, the new senator from Iowa, for having been on the job two weeks, did a very credible job in supplying the Republication response. Much better than Rubio and Jindal in their turns.

Anyway, spending has got to come down about 10% to balance the budget, and some more funds have to go to defense to fund the fig leaf force in Iraq and the ISIL fighters that no one wants to talk about. The smart play would have been to acknowledge this and say so in the speech.

Forget new spending and taxes for anything. Make do. Community colleges, at least here in Arizona, are self funding, and do a pretty good job, even on vo-ed.

Lower corporate taxes, especially on international divisions so we’re competitive, and do the same for small businesses. Tax revenues should actually come up, as they did under Regan.

The business of the USA is business, Barry, not income redistribution, and you should have that tattooed on your forehead, since that appears the only way that it’s going to get into your head.

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Je Suis Charlie: US Edition

This is a rather unusual post, in that I’m wondering if there is a market for a Charlie Hebdo-style publication in the U.S.

Certainly we’ve got lots of targets satirize: Obama, government in general, etc.

The Charlie tradition is Europe is long and honored; when I lived in Italy, I recall reading an Italian magazine that did the same thing as Charlie.

In this country, we have The Onion, based in Boulder, Colorado, but I think that’s about it.  The Week magazine runs a center section on good political cartoons, but these two are about it. Pretty sorry.

Anyway, we have publishing capability here in Phoenix, and I imagine that all the editorial cartoonists working for major newspapers would like to have another outlet for their work, or would do special stuff.

As the Marketing Doctor, we’ve consulted for a number of magazines, too, on circulation, distribution and even some editorial. Do we have money resources? There’s always crowdfunding.

So, let me know. I’m curious.

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Catering to the Hispanic Market

One of the Smart Briefs recently ran an article on catering to the Hispanic market which was mostly nonsense.

The editor should have edited.

Anyway, over the years in our Marketing Doctor subsidiary, we’ve had several clients who want to cater to the Hispanic market and we’ve learned a few things, which we’ll share with you:

1. 90% of the Hispanics are just like you and me, but there is a segment, which we will call the ‘recently arrived’ which are still wedded to the mores of Mexico or Spain.

2. In sociological terms, most Hispanics are regarded as ‘strivers’, probably moreso than the rest of our population…..that’s why they emigrated. You can get this idea if you read Hispanic periodicals.

2. The article was oriented towards strictly retail, consumer companies, but there’s a b2b market out there of some size. We’ve had Hispanic Solutions Forum members, but by and large, they’re no different from you and me. In fact, until it closed, we held meetings in a Hispanic oriented market in downtown Phoenix. Some of our clients employ bilingual inside or outside salespeople, which is good in Phoenix.

3. If you want to cater to the newly arrived, go wander around a Hispanic market. We’ve done that, and it’s very informative. You might have to alter product characteristics, packaging, and maybe even pricing. If you already sell in Mexico or Spain, consider adopting those product externals.

This is an interesting topic…..we’d love to hear of some success stories (or horror tales) on marketing to the Hispanic community.

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