Selling MINI’s without a store

This is a great example of innovative thinking. Not just “out of the box”… they shredded the box and flushed the pieces.

Opening a new MINI store in Paris was too expensive, so the agency figured that the only thing you really need to sell a MINI is the car itself. Complete with a salesman, brochures and opening hours, the stores could be taken for a ride. Ten MINIs were transformed into stores all over Paris, and the places they were parked was branded as a MINI location.

Apple taking over mobile?

The first iOS gadget shipped in 2007 and just a whole bunch of folks scoffed at the notion anyone would pay $400 for a mobile phone. What’s happened since then?

  • Nokia’s smartphone handstet market share dropped from 24% to 16% in one year.
  • 97% of all tablet traffic in the United States comes from iPads. The number is 100% in Japan and 99% in the UK. (The global average is 89%.)
  • last year Google earned about $102 million from apps sales, while Apple raked in $1.7 billion.
  • Apple has ordered two manufacturers to build enough iPhone 5 handsets to sell 15 million in the first month of sales (August or September).
  • 40% of all smartphone buyers in Europe say they intend to buy an iPhone next time they buy a phone.
  • There are 910 million mobile phone subscribers in China (where the iPhone is very popular)
  • Apple has sold 25 million iPads to date and one analyst believes Apple will sell a billion of them.

iPad stories

The company I work for has been giving iPads to our sellers as incentives for meeting sales goals. The iPads are theirs to use any way they choose. Here’s some of the feedback to date:

“I use it at home more than anything for web browsing etc.  But also bring it in the office everyday, just in case I made need it for meetings, etc”

“I never see it, but my family loves it!”

“My family and I have been enjoying the iPad since receiving it back in early August. I tend to use it more as an informational resource, especially to view daily newspapers and other on-line publications. My kids love the game apps and we have started to explore some of the educational programs. Much like the Wii and the Flip Video Cam previously, the iPad was a very popular gift this year for my gang.”

“Using it at home right now for personal use.  I am sure when sales season picks up I will use on some presentations.”

“Yes I use my iPad all the time at home…my laptop is collecting dust. I use it some at work for taking notes in a meeting. I can’t really use it beyond that because it’s not 3G. We have bad WiFi in the stadium where our offices are.”

“Using the iPad a lot at home actually. Funny enough, other than iTunes, we use it most with our 2 year old son. There are flash card apps on there that he LOVES, he asks to play on it almost every night. Pretty cool. Also really nice to have a second device with good internet access when either Stacie or I am on the MacBook at night. For work, not much lately just because there haven’t been the fact findings and presentations like we will have staring back again in January.”

“My 15 month old little boy is loving the iPad.  We have downloaded several Pixar movies to keep him entertained in the car as well as when we are dining out.  My wife has also downloaded several kid friendly apps that she uses as teaching/learning tools for him.  It has been awesome!  My mother-in-law has had an iPad for a while now, so (our son) knows his way around it much better than I.”

What do you think? Is the iPad a transformative (new) device? Will this (and similar) devices replace laptops one day? I expect our company to take the initiative in showing our sellers (and others) how to use the iPad as a communication tool in all kinds of settings. I find these stories very exciting.

Like me, the iPad turns on instantly

I haven’t posted on the iPad for a while because we’re transitioning the little slab of magic from a Steve Device to a Barb Device. I’m sure it will still by lying around the house and I’ll pick it up as needed, but it’ll have her stuff on it.

I was pleased to see that Scott Adams appreciates the iPad for some of the same reasons we do:

“By far, the iPad’s most wonderful feature, compared to laptops, is the fact that it turns on instantly. There’s no boot-up sequence. That one advantage makes the iPad an entirely different product from a laptop. Once powered on, the iPad doesn’t start begging me to update things nor force me to make decisions. It doesn’t remind me of all the ways it is protecting me. It doesn’t tell me to order printer ink or ask me to fill out a survey. A regular laptop is like your boss: always making you wait before giving you busy-work assignments. The iPad is more like a punctual lover. It’s always ready for fun. And if you are tempted to do some work on the iPad, its non-keyboard quickly changes your mind. You wouldn’t say a lover is a crippled version of a boss. (Insert your own inappropriate humor here.) So any comparison of an iPad to a laptop simply doesn’t work.”

“Another interesting phenomenon of the iPhone and iPad era is that we are being transformed from producers of content into consumers. With my BlackBerry, I probably created as much data as I consumed. It was easy to thumb-type long explanations, directions, and even jokes and observations. With my iPhone, I try to avoid creating any message that are over one sentence long. But I use the iPhone browser to consume information a hundred times more than I did with the BlackBerry. I wonder if this will change people over time, in some subtle way that isn’t predictable. What happens when people become trained to think of information and entertainment as something they receive and not something they create?”

I believe iPads are among the prizes being offered as incentives in one of the sales contests underway at our company. And our company chairman placed an order after watching some of the Mac heads playing with theirs at the Coffee Zone.

Frankly, I’m a little releived to be handing off our iPad to Barb. I LIKE creating informaiton and with the iPad it was so easy to just lean back in a big stuffed chair and graze.

“A business model in decay”

“…the creation of content that will be supported by ads is a business model in decay. Abundance isn’t the problem; it’s that the advertisers are now in the content business themselves, and this is a rapidly-growing sector of the advertising world. Advertising is in a full-blown revolution, as company after company discovers they don’t need media the way they used to, because they’ve become media companies themselves.”

Terry Heaton says there is no “content business” anymore and that’s not the business we (his clients) were in anyway.

“We’ve always been in the advertising business, although it sure looked and felt like we were in the content business. Our bottom lines were/are determined by advertising, and that’s the real business we’re in. Media companies need to accept that and move on to finding creative ways to enable commerce in our markets.”

Since posting the excerpts above, I’ve been remembering my days in small-market radio during the ’70s and early ’80s. I was an announcer and program director, but never in sales. We thought of ourselves as “talent.”

It was clearly understood by us that the advertising was the means to the end of creating the information and entertainment (mostly recorded music). We had to pay for all this wonderful stuff we were doing.

What the sales people believed –an management knew– was the news and music and all the rest was merely a way to attract ears for the commercials we sold to advertisers. We were not in the music business or news business… we were in the advertising business.

If you doubt that, go back and listen to this interview with Congressman Paul C. Jones to built the radio station. Or read the recollections of Joe Bankhead, who was one of the stations first salesmen. It was clearly about serving the businesses in the area. They were more than willing to put on any kind of programming that would attact enough listeners to satisfy a sponsor.

Week One impressions of the iPad

It’s been a week since we got our hands on the iPad and I must say I am very impressed with the device. I use the term “device” becuse it doesn’t feel like a computer. Or a PDA. Or anything else I’ve used. I honestly believe this is a new… thing.

One of the more interesting things I observed this week is how people physically relate to the the iPad. Let me see if I can explain by describing something that almost never happens.

Woman A is sitting in a coffe shop with her laptop computer in front of her and Man B comes over and says, “Is that the new (insert name of computer here)?”

“Why yes, it is. Would you like to try it out?”

“If you don’t mind…”

(She gets up, the man sits and begins to open her programs and files and poke around)

Never happens. But a common occurance this week with the iPad. Part of this is just the size and shape. Like a book or magazine, small enough to pass back and forth.

And part is the intuitive user interface. Even if you’re not an iPhone user, most folks find the one button that turns the iPad on (instantly!). Then it’s just tapping the icons and off they go.

And I found myself demo’ing the iPad while standing. Again, something that never (rarely) happens with even the smallest net book.

I encountered the normal sort of anti-Apple resistance from techies:

“So what does that thing do that I can’t do on my laptop?” (Arms folded in convince me defiance)

Non-techies were more inclinded to say, “Ooh. I want one. How much?” …after playing with it for 5 minutes.

I ran in to a couple of closeted OCD’s that couldn’t bring themselves to touch to screen because they could see the fingerprints of those that had touched it before them. Explaining that everything-has-fingerprints-you-just-don’t-see-them did not help.

It was a fun –if less productive– week. And each new app brings fun and discovery. And I have no doubt we will quickly find ways to use the iPad on the job. Seems to me it could easily replace a lot of the laptops our sales staff and reporters are lugging around. Time will tell.

iPad might get very Harry Potter-ish

David points us to this very nifty example of how people will be using the iPad (and why we have to have one).

VIV Mag Interactive Feature Spread – iPad Demo from Alexx Henry on Vimeo.

I can easily imagine one of our sales people putting this (different content!) in front of a prospective client to show the advertising and promotional opportunities associated with one of our sports or news properties.

Top Ten Mistakes Managers Make With Email

A very useful list by Tim Flood. I found this on but it might be behind pay wall now.

1. Using vague subject lines. “Meeting,” “Update,” or “Question” provide no value as subject lines. Maximize the subject line’s message. PDA users will get the message quickly; everyone will appreciate the clear summary. You can communicate plenty in a five to 10 word subject line: “Your Action Items and Minutes from Last Week’s Meeting” or “Sam: See You at 10:00 Tuesday with Report In-Hand?”

2. Burying the news. Convey the important points first: put dates, deadlines and deliverables in the first one to three lines of the message (if not also in the subject line). PDA limitations, time pressures, cultural distinctions and value judgments keep many readers from reading further.

3. Hiding Behind the “BCC” field. At best, the ‘blind copy’ field is sneaky and risky. At worst, it’s deceitful or unethical. Plus, blind recipients sometimes hit “reply all,” revealing the deception. Instead, post the initial message and BCC no one. Then forward your sent message to others with a brief explanation.

4. Failing to clean up the mess of earlier replies/forwards. Few readers will wade through strings of previous messages. State your position clearly, even if context follows below in the email string. “Yes” helps less than “Yes, you can have the extra funding to hire 5 temporary workers.”

  • Summarize the discussion to date: “See below: R&D is looking for more time but Sales risks losing customers if we don’t act now.”
  • Force focus when necessary: “Let’s focus on cost now and revisit the morale and equity issues at our staff meeting next week.” Change subject lines cautiously.
  • Tighter, more relevant subject lines work best, but even one letter’s difference upsets inbox sorting mechanisms.
  • Cut extraneous or repetitive information.

5. Ignoring grammar and mechanics. PDAs have granted us certain sloppy flexibility, which means you’ll impress readers even more when you write precisely.

  • Follow standard punctuation, capitalization and spelling rules.
  • Think carefully about the tone different punctuation conveys. “Dear Betty,” is standard, neutral; “Dear Betty:” is professional, perhaps distant; “Dear Betty!” is personable, perhaps excessively so; “Dear Betty.” prefaces bad news.
  • Avoid over-stylizing with high-priority marks, disorienting color or complex backgrounds.
  • Avoid all-caps and excessives (like “!!!!” or other strings of punctuation).

6. Avoiding necessarily long emails. Longer messages sometimes work best; they can help avoid attachments’ hassle and security fuss. Don’t fear long emails but outline your structure and motivate reading up top.

  • Provide a ‘mapping statement’ to allow readers to skim for key information: “I’ve included information, below, on the background, costs, implementation schedule and possible problems.”
  • Emphasize the specific response you seek: “Please let me know, before Monday, how this project will impact your team.”
  • Indicate an attachment’s presence and value: “I’ve attached slides that I need you to review before our meeting; those slides identify total costs and break down the budget.

7. Mashing everything together into bulky, imposing inaccessible paragraphs. Length does not discourage reading; bulk does.

  • Keep your paragraphs short, ideally no more than three to five lines of type.
  • Open each paragraph with a bottom-line sentence.
  • Use section headings (in all-caps) to facilitate skimming.
  • Include blank lines between paragraphs and section headings.
  • Avoid italics, boldface and other typeface changes which do not reliably carry across email systems.

8. Neglecting the human beings at the other end. Email travels between actual people, even though we don’t see or hear each other directly.

  • Praise, precisely. “Great job” takes little time and space but can work wonders. Quickly wishing someone a good weekend, at the end of an email, might perk someone up without cluttering your message.
  • Avoid conveying blame or delivering negative feedback over email. Talk to the person instead.
  • Avoid sarcasm, caustic wit, off-color humor and potentially inappropriate remarks —all of these elements tend to confuse, disorient or fall flat over email.
  • Consider using emoticons and exclamations (“!” but also “ha, ha” or “just kidding”) when they convey useful emotional context.
  • Adjust your style to suit your audience. For people who don’t know you, a terse style might seem rude; a wordy style might seem unfocused.

9. Thinking email works best. Email is not always the best way to communicate.

  • Need a quick answer from someone nearby? Stop by for a visit.
  • Want a reply to several unanswered emails? Pick up the phone.
  • Looking for more gravitas? Mail a letter.
  • Need to explain a complex or sensitive situation? Arrange a meeting.

10. Forgetting that email last forever. Most of us read, send and discard emails at lightning speeds. But don’t forget that emails remain on a server somewhere as easy-to-forward proof of any error, offense or obfuscation we made.

    How flat is your organization?

    This interview with Cristobal Conde, the president and CEO of SunGard, is a good example of why I’ll be willing to pay for the New York Times, when that day comes (couple of weeks?). The Q & A covers several very basic and interesting areas and I encourage you to read the entire piece. Here are a few bits to whet your appetite:

    “You have to work on the structure of collaboration. How do people get recognized? How do you establish a meritocracy in a highly dispersed environment?

    The answer is to allow employees to develop a name for themselves that is irrespective of their organizational ranking or where they sit in the org chart. And it actually is not a question about monetary incentives. They do it because recognition from their peers is, I think, an extremely strong motivating factor, and something that is broadly unused in modern management.

    On leadership:

    “I think too many bosses think that their job is to be the leader, and I don’t. By creating an atmosphere of collaboration, the people who are consistently right get a huge following, and their work product is talked about by people they’ve never met. It’s fascinating.

    On micromanagement:

    “If you start micromanaging people, then the very best ones leave. If the very best people leave, then the people you’ve got left actually require more micromanagement. Eventually, they get chased away, and then you’ve got to invest in a whole apparatus of micromanagement. Pretty soon, you’re running a police state. So micromanagement doesn’t scale because it spirals down, and you end up with below-average employees in terms of motivation and ability.

    Instead, the trick is to get truly world-class people working directly for you so you don’t have to spend a lot of time managing them. I think there’s very little value I can add to my direct reports. So I try to spend time with people two and three levels below because I think I can add value to them.


    “I actively despise how people use PowerPoint as a crutch. I think PowerPoint can be a way to cover up sloppy thinking, which makes it hard to differentiate between good ideas and bad ideas. I would much rather have somebody write something longhand, send it in ahead of the meeting and then assume everybody’s read it, and then you start talking, and let them defend it.

    Advice to young people:

    “My advice to young people is always, along the way, have a sales job. You could be selling sweaters. You could be selling ice cream on the street. It doesn’t matter. Selling something to somebody who doesn’t want to buy it is a lifelong skill. I can tell when somebody comes in for an interview and they’ve never had any responsibility for sales.”

    Print this interview and slide it under the bosses door. Wear gloves and don’t get caught.

    Newspaper ads: Bought or sold?

    I don’t think I’ve ever met a newspaper advertising salesperson. Given that (until recently?) newspapers are jammed with ads, doesn’t that seem odd? During my Radio Years, I wrote countless commericals and it was common to start from an ad torn from the local newspaper.

    My sense back then was that businesses “bought” newspaper ads rather than having to be “sold.” A grocery store HAD to have the weekly specials in the local paper.

    I suspect far more time an effort went into the layout of the ad than the selling.

    If we have any current or former newspaper sales people reading this, leave us a comment. I’d love to know more about the sales process and how it has changed or is changing.