Get Ready for Google Air Force. Strategy Makes Sense Even if Planes Don’t Fly.

Self-driving cars. Computer glasses. And now, solar-powered, jet-sized drones.

Photo: Titan Aerospace.

Photo: Titan Aerospace.

Last week, Google acquired two-year-old start-up Titan Aerospace, apparently outbidding Facebook for the company.  What the heck is Google doing?

For starters, Google’s management team hasn’t lost its marbles or fallen down the Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole.  The Titan purchase is part of a smart, sophisticated business and marketing strategy that has technology as a key enabler. Continue reading

At One Stadium, Rookie Zevia Pushes Pepsi From Starting Lineup

It’s fun to watch the marketing underdog in action.

Starting this season, the Oakland Athletics will sell the first-ever naturally sweetened, zero calorie soda in Major League Baseball.  That’s because California-based Zevia Zero Calorie Soda is now the team’s official soda sponsor.

Photo: Zevia.

Photo: Zevia.

It’s quite the accomplishment for underdog Zevia, which produced $60 million in 2013 sales.  Pepsi held the soda sponsorship in previous years, and will still be available at the stadium, though.

The Zero Calorie Soda of the Oakland Athletics partnership includes: Continue reading

Fun Test at School: Get Your Healthy Lunch from the Food Truck

You might think it’s a mission impossible marketing challenge to get high school students excited about, and actually eating, healthier school lunches.

Perhaps not.  A Colorado high school nutrition team, facing an 80% non-dining rate, has come up with a creative, disruptive action plan.  

Photo: iStock.

Photo: iStock.

Last week,  the Boulder Valley School District agreed to accept a $75,000 donation from Whole Foods to acquire a used food truck and create their own healthy eating food truck program.

It’s smart marketing for two, key reasons: Continue reading

Swedish Flooring Company Gives Away Flip-flops To Sell New Product

iStockphoto.com

Photo: iStock.

A Swedish flooring company demonstrates you can breathe new life into an old marketing tactic: sampling.

No, I’m not talking about carpet squares mounted on a board or a child’s toy-sized piece of wood floor.

Forbo Flooring Systems, working with agency Valentin&Byhr, figured out how to break-through to the architects who spec their products.  They created flip-flops made from the floor material, and packed it up in a gift box: Continue reading

Nuclear Sub Commander Transforms Leadership, Gets Winning Performance

TurnTheShipAround Book CoverA nuclear submarine commander has written a must-read book about how to achieve great performance at every level of your organization.

David Marquet’s  Turn The Ship Around! A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders is terrific for all team players in your company.  It’s especially powerful for those entrusted with leading direct reports.  

I loved the book.  Marquet has distilled his philosophy into a concise, attention-keeping,  easy read filled with examples of how he and his crew turned the worst performing nuclear sub into the best.

You, too, can apply this philosophy, but first you’ll have to adopt a new mindset that will lead to different actions.  Marquet’s thesis is that we need to transform leadership from a “leader-follower” mode to one of “leader-leader.”  That’s how he transformed the USS Santa Fe from a dysfunctional “one captain and 134 crewmen” into a high-octane operation of “135 thinkers.” Continue reading

Razor Battle is On! 800Razors.com Challenges Dollar Shave Club and Gillette.

Photo:  800Razors Facebook.

Photo: 800Razors.com Facebook.

At first glance, it would be easy to conclude that 800Razors.com is just a Dollar Shave Club copycat in the nearly $2 billion razor cartridge category.

But that would be wrong.

Let’s quickly set the stage for this discussion.

Category leader Gillette built a strong business via a decades-long, continuing series of product innovations that support a premium-price strategy.  They kept some of the older models as part of a tiered product/pricing assortment for consumers.

An opening existed for a competitor to deliver a high-quality blade at much lower cost, and it came via a new business model.  Dollar Shave Club (DSC) emerged as a disruptive player in 2011/2012, getting wide notice with a wacky video featuring its founder.  Its online, recurring monthly sales model (“club”) took dead aim at the category giants selling through traditional retail channels.

Photo:  Dollar Shave Club website.

Photo: Dollar Shave Club website.

Then, in 2013, 800Razors.com joined the fray, building off the DSC approach while incorporating significant go-to-market differences:

Photo:  800Razors.com Facebook.

Photo: 800Razors.com Facebook.

  1. Buy Only When You Want.  800Razors allows single purchase. Dollar Shave Club does not.  It’s an important difference because it removes a potential obstacle to trial.  For example, I’ve thought about trying DSC but didn’t want to sign-up for regular monthly deliveries. Continue reading

Great Customer Relations Means More than Just Saying “Sorry”

So many companies talk about the importance of their customer relationships, but, in reality, what do they really do when something goes wrong?

Image – Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield Facebook.

Insurance provider Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey decided that just saying sorry wasn’t good enough..

In a December 6th letter, Horizon notified 839,000+ customers that their sensitive private information might be at risk including name, social security number, address, date of birth, and insurance identification number.  The reason?  Two company laptops, which were “cable-locked to employee workstations,” were stolen from the headquarters office.

Horizon informed customers “we are not certain that all of this information is accessible,” explaining that the computers were password-protected but unencrypted.  Nevertheless, the company decided to take action, beyond the standard mea culpa and you’re on your own communication: Continue reading