Search DC to White Light

Friday, September 28, 2012

Trying to Pay a Compliment - When Marketing Blows up in your Face

I’m not sure how on-topic this is but, from my standpoint, it’s spot on.
Seems Seven Eleven created what I think is a pretty neat traffic generator.  This morning, they offered free coffee for coming in to “vote”.  Voting was done by selecting either an “Obama” (blue) cup or a “Romney” (red) cup.  
I tried it.  I have to tell you, at this particular outlet, it was a terrific customer experience.  Greeted when I entered, seven or eight different types of coffee brewed, hot, and waiting, lids and every associated item in place and available.
Then, politely asking what the charge was, I was told, “No. No. No.  It’s free.  Thanks for coming in.”  Then one of the folks asked if I wanted a sample of their breakfast sandwich.   I passed, but there was a blueberry muffin on the counter that seemed to have an aura around it.  I, of course, bought it.
Ate the muffin, drank the coffee while walking home.  I have to say both were great.  All around, one fine, well-built promotion.
At home, finishing the coffee, I looked at the side of the cup.  “Satisfaction Guaranteed! 1-800-255-0711.”
Cool!  I thought, “I’m gonna give them a call and tell them what a neat promotion they’re onto.”
It was at that point that all of the good will generated during my visit went down the tubes.  I mean from, “Wow!” to “Yuck!” in less than thirty seconds.  Here’s the Cliff’s Notes version:
·     They put you through the “our menu options have changed…” lie.
·     They use the same number for employees and customers…you have to press 1 to tell them you’re a customer.  Are you kidding?
·     The first prompt as a customer is, “If you are calling in regard to funds being held by your bank…”  Are you kidding me?  I understand that this could be important.  But it’s an important negative that needs to be tucked somewhere else.  Is that the first thing you want every customer calling to think about - that Seven Eleven could bring about an issue with funds being held by their bank?
·     When you finally tree your way through to info about leaving a comment, you hope for a live person.  But, just in case, you start rehearsing your message in case there’s a beep.  Surprise!  After you get through the tree and listen to the message, you’re sent to the website for any comments.  The same is true for complaints
·     As you would guess – it doesn’t mention that on the cup.  In fact, the web address isn’t even given on the cup
Ah!  More smart marketing and ops guys/women (or a combination thereof) who don’t talk to one another.
Now, somewhere out there is/are the brains behind this.  So to you, let me just say, kudos for the promotion.  Now – take a hike!  You blew it.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Hey, Guys, the Record's Stuck

Seems Julius Genachowski's FCC is playing the same song and now the record's stuck.  [The CD's skipping; the file's stuck in a nested loop.]
The title is broadband and the commission continues to yodel about the lack of penetration.  They're claiming less than 30 percent of Americans have access to their definition of broadband, 100Mbps.
In their 706 Report to Congress they presented this number as the goal and then lamented (is that a legal term?) that we're not there.
Interesting, though, that the report is totally out of date.  Current estimates put availability at approximately 80 percent of households.  That doesn't mean that 80 percent want/will sign up for such data rates.  If we look at growth of other technologies - television set penetration, color TV, CD, cable, and so on, we'll see that the growth curve for home data connections is much steeper than preceding technologies. 
It's important to remember that use of the Internet builds on many of these other technologies.  The integration of DOCSIS 3.0 by cable contributes immensely to the ability to deliver 100Mbps - or more - and that penetration continues to grow, approaching maturity.
Add to that the number of wireless user and you can get blown away by total usage, regardless of speed.
But back to that 100Mbps, a few comments:
  • Who decided that 100Mbps is the goal? 
  • How many people want it?
  • If 100Mbps is the Chevy Volt of data, why is the commission working so hard to secure this level of access for everyone?
  • What part does diversification play in the commission's goal?  By that I mean, 100Mbps can replace over-the-air television and, consequently, dilute the value of companies like Disney, Comcast/NBC Universal, and similar organizations?
  • On the coattails of the comment directly above, how hard is the commission looking at the vertical and horizontal integration of existing operations, e.g., Comcast/NBC/Universal
  • Is it reasonable for the commission to be able to divert funds - on their own, with no oversight from congress - to support the buildout of 100Mbps? 
  • We're all paying into the fund on every telephone bill.  What do we have to show for it?
  • The marketplace was responsible for most of the growth of every other technological advance.  Why does the government need to be involved?  Demand trumps technology every time.
  • US prices for data rates are, on the whole, from 25% to 100% higher than those in other countries.  Competition will help.  Government builds will not.
Here's an excerpt from the home page of the FCC's "Connecting America" portion of  Broadband has gone from being a luxury to a necessity for full participation in our economy and society – for all Americans. For that reason, the FCC has adopted comprehensive reforms of its Universal Service Fund (USF) and Intercarrier Compensation (ICC) systems to accelerate broadband build-out to the 18 million Americans living in rural areas who currently have no access to robust broadband infrastructure. This reform will expand the benefits of high-speed Internet to millions of consumers in every part of the country by transforming the existing USF into a new Connect America Fund (CAF) focused on broadband.
Consumers everywhere – both urban and rural – will benefit. Reform will not only drive economic growth in rural America, but will expand the online marketplace nationwide, creating jobs and businesses opportunities across the country.
Commissioner Ajit Pai summed it up well:  “If we are willing to set an objective with no intent of reaching it, then I suppose that this is not a problem, but if we believe instead that data should drive our decisions - not vice versa - then section 706(b) can never be a reliable authority for implementing good policy since we will eventually be forced to concede once again that broadband is being deployed in a timely and reasonable fashion.”  A little gobbledegoop but you get it.
So, I ask the commission - and congress - to get the facts straight.  Then, give a second thought to spending more money, money which really should have congress' approval, for expansion of this level of broadband.
Pick up the tone arm and move the stylus, flick the CD player with your finger, or move farther down the file...but stop trying to provide something ahead of the marketplace.  You'll save time, unintended consequences, money and angst.  And there's nothing better than saved angst.