Thursday, September 22, 2011

Roach Baiting 2.0

Blink:
Social media is all about the conversation/engagement thanks to collaborative Web 2.0 tools. Consequently, social media gurus now advise us to find key individuals that have influence over potential buyers. They call it Influence Marketing. I call it Roach Baiting 2.0.

Read On:
I first learned about roach bait marketing back in 2003 when I read Buzz: Harness the Power of Influence and Create Demand – Salzman, Matathia and O’Reilly. They provided numerous case studies where agencies implemented undercover marketing movements by hiring actors/actresses, models or socially adept people to hype their clients’ products in targeted locations. Clever? Only if you do not get busted! A classic example was when Sony Ericsson hired actors/actresses in major cities to launch their new T68i cell phone that had the capability to take, send and receive pictures. In NYC, posed as tourists, they approached people in Times Square and asked them to take their pictures. Unfortunately Sony Ericsson went public with their campaign. The press had a field day bashing their strategy. One publication even reminded Sony Ericsson that Che Guevara once wrote: “A guerrilla campaign can only be effective if it is a clandestine operation and has the support of the people where it is being conducted.”

Fast forward to 2011. A great story staring Peter Shankman. His Twitter profile reads: My life: Consulting, angel investing, advising, speaking. Founded HARO. Ironman. I'm told I'm knowledgeable about social media.

Last month Peter boards an early morning flight from Newark to Tampa for a lunch meeting. On his return flight, Peter, a steak lover, fan of Morton’s steakhouse jokingly tweets: Hey @Mortons – can you meet me at Newark airport with a porterhouse when I land in two hours? K, thanks :-) Morton’s Hackensack (23.5 miles away from the Newark airport) answered the challenge and showed up with his order. Peter was shocked and started a tweeting tsunami. He got home and posted the story on his blog complete with pictures of his meal and his cat enjoying some small bites of porterhouse steak. How many cat lovers retweeted Peter’s picture of NASA the Wonder Cat? A great move by Morton’s? Absolutely! Especially since they were online listening and realized that Peter and NASA the Wonder Cat had a huge following on Twitter (100,000 plus followers). Welcome to the new world of Roach Baiting 2.0.

In closing, Morton’s if you are listening, I will be celebrating a special anniversary on October 23rd here in Philadelphia.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Big Idea

Blink:
LinkedIn has afforded me the opportunity to expand the scope of my network. Consequently, I have met and connected with people who are refreshingly entrepreneurial in their thinking. One individual is the Founder of Beer2Buds.com, Libby Tucker.

Read On:
“If I had to guess, social commerce is the next area to really blow up.”
– Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook).

I am not sure when the founder of Facebook made this comment, but after a quick review of the numbers, I realize social commerce is in the midst of a boom. Analysts are projecting social couponing will reach $3.5 billion by 2012, virtual goods $2.5 billion by 2013 and mobile couponing spending $6.5 billion by 2103. A unique social commerce business in the foodservice industry is Beer2Buds.com which is now active in 21 US cities. Beer2Buds.com is even available in three European cities as well as three South American locations. It is real simple, you select an amount of beer money by using a credit card or PayPal, load up your friend’s contact information complete with a note. Your friend then receives a message via email or text linked to a Drink Your Beer page where they receive their drink card which they can either print or save on their smartphone to redeem at a participating restaurant or bar. Oh yes, don’t forget your ID.

I recently caught up with Libby Tucker, the founder of this innovative concept.

How did you conceive the idea of Beer2Buds?
Back in 2001 when I was working in Milwaukee, I received an email from my Swedish friend Mattias whom I met when I studied abroad. It was a short note to say he missed our time together with a picture of a beer. Instantly I had a very powerful memory of all the great times and laughs Mattias and I shared, usually over a few beers. I thought, wouldn’t it be cool if we recaptured those memories even if we were thousands of miles apart! What if, for his birthday or his wedding later in the year, I could send him a beer to say congratulations or just to say remember when. That’s how the concept for Beer2Buds was born.

What have been some of the biggest challenges you have faced as you grow your company?
Great question! Too many! Regulations come to the top of the list, since alcohol laws vary by state. It is even more complicated overseas since there are additional currency and money laundering regulations. Funding is always a challenge. We have operated over the years on a bootstrap budget which sometimes impedes our progress of scaling up. We also have some well funded competitors which always make life interesting. There have been some technical challenges too, but I do not want to bore you.

Who were big influences for you?
My grandfather was a huge influence. Even though he passed away when I was only six months old, his legacy has pushed me to both adventure and entrepreneurship. In business it has been two technology pioneers,
Paul Graham and Steve Blank.

Switching reels – I know you like to travel. When did you first catch the travel bug?
When I was 20 years old I went to study abroad in Spain. I immediately felt I had found my true calling, travel. I fell in love with learning new languages, new cultures and realized that real learning came from experiencing life. Less influential and less of an impact are books and classrooms. Then I came back to the States, worked in International Marketing before making the transition into the computer world. That is when I realized with the advent of the Internet, specifically eCommerce, I could begin to travel again, experience more languages and cultures, visit my friends and build a business at the same time. My passion is to evolve into The Anywhere Professional, the title of my blog.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Luxury Plus

Blink:
The summer is behind us. The good news is our government avoided default. The bad news is the stock market continues its rollercoaster ride. Today’s query: Are we still in an economic funk? Evidently not for the privileged affluent.

Read On:
High end shoppers are spending again. The luxury category has posted 10 consecutive months of sales increases versus a year ago. Analysts indicate that the rich are not spending at the same level as they were before the recession, but close. This group could lead our economic recovery – the top five percent of income earners account for close to one-third spending, the top twenty close to sixty percent of spending. July was an exceptionally good month for luxury spending, consequently exhibiting the largest gain in a year, +11.6%. It helped that Mercedes-Benz reported they sold more cars in the U.S. in the month than it had in any previous July in five years.

What is driving luxury sales? The leader of one luxury retailer labeled it the “snob factor.” Higher prices are considered a mark of quality. SpendingPulse also reported recently that there has been a significant decline in the number of promotions in the luxury sector. People are paying full price again versus at the peak of the recession. Luxury consumers also are willing to pay for something that exhibits individualism, one-of-a-kind and rare.

So what vogue items are the privileged affluent buying besides a new S-Class Mercedes-Benz sedan?

Christian Louboutin “Bianca” pumps @ $775 a pair. Neiman Marcus reported they sold out almost every size. A bargain given Jimmy Choo is advertising in their back to Autumn/Winter 11 collection Enfield, leopard print pony boots for $1,495.

How about a Gucci coat selling for approximately $12,000 at Bergdorf Goodman. While you are at Bergdorf Goodman, why not pick up a 16 ounce container of Crème da la Mer (facial cream) for $1,650.

A Louis Vuitton Nomade leather work bag for your laptop @ $3,825.

$250 Ermenegildo Zenga ties.

Top off your shopping spree by stopping at New York’s Wall Street Burger Shop for chef Kevin O’Connell’s 10 ounces of Kobe beef, foie gras, exotic mushrooms, cave-aged Gruyère cheese, with truffle mayonnaise (mixed with some gold flakes) on a brioche bun with a sprinkle of gold on top. $175. Tasty. Priceless.

My last query of the day: Does a dribble of mayonnaise spot a $250 tie any differently than a $10 tie bought on sale at Macy’s?

Friday, September 2, 2011

The New Classroom

Blink:
Summer is rapidly coming to a close. Students are heading back to their classrooms armed. That is correct, armed as in surgically attached to their mobile devices, tablets and laptops. Welcome to the New Classroom where digital literacy will enhance education.

Read On:
At first educators were skeptical about allowing students to use their gizmos in class – a multi-tasking distraction where they could check text messages, emails, shop online, etc. Now, a new breed of educators is beginning to recognize that if utilized properly, technology can enhance their students’ overall educational experience. Smart move given some of the statistics that have been gathered:

• 98% of college students own a digital device; 38% indicate they cannot go 10 minutes without using a digital device.

• 75% of students claim they wouldn’t be able to study without technology.

• 91% use email to connect with their teachers; 8% use social sites.

So what are some of the different ways technology will be utilized this fall in the New Classroom, specifically as it relates to social media?

For starters, teachers from K-12 (primary and secondary schools) to universities are establishing classroom “backchannels” – real-time digital streams that enhance student engagement. By utilizing Twitter or other microblogging platforms, teachers have found a greater level of participation (e.g., information sharing, questions, etc.) among students, especially those that are normally reticent. Some universities have developed their own backchannel system. One example is Purdue University’s Hotseat which has proven very effective for large lecture halls.

Some schools this year will be replacing their static websites with a Facebook page or are encouraging students to use YouTube to publish their work. Teachers have learned that with careful planning and by encouraging students to post material online, they are witnessing a higher caliber of work. In addition, student/peer collaboration has been enhanced. Unfortunately numerous federal regulations still keep social networking sites off-limits. The American Library Association believes long-term, social media restrictions will constrain education. They advocate librarians and teachers need to educate minors digital literacy, how best to participate online responsibly, ethically and safely.

Welcome to the New Classroom. I am confident that the U.S. Department of Education will sort out all the pros and cons of digital education and reach a middle ground. However, I am beginning to wonder that as we experience the continual evolution of technology, are we going to witness the demise of brick and mortar classrooms.

What do you think?