Archive for category Uncategorized
Greg Boyle’s Tatoos on the Heart: This is a favorite of mine because it’s really about the hope of an entrepreneur. Boyle is a Catholic priest in LA devoted to helping hundreds of gang members find jobs. Instead of “job hunting”, he builds businesses and employs gang members. He’s likely the largest employer of gang members in the country! His businesses range from silkscreening to tattoo removal, though not surprisingly, plumbing didn’t succeed! He shares very real stories on our culture and poignant views of the gang culture. You will be moved to rethink your judgements on gang members and what one person can do to solve a huge social issue.
Jim Wallis’ On God’s Side: Wallis advocates for Washington to capture the best from each side of the political aisle. He advocates for the positive value of personal responsibility from Republicans and the positive value of social responsibility from Democrats. I read the chapter on economic system reform with skepticism, but then was inspired by some new thinking on how to help young people navigate this system and get better jobs. More to come on that front!
Reza Aslan is an Iranian-American writer and professed “scholar of religions,” though he is an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at the UC Riverside. Zealot explores the historical Jesus, sharing the political, social and religious systems in place at the time of Jesus. One comment from our group: do all Jesus’ biographies portray a Jesus that is similar to the author? It’s a quick read though not necessarily an easy one.
My next reads include Switch by the Heath brothers and Alex Osterwalder’s Business Model Generation. Let me know what you are reading!
I’ve always believed businesses are built on repeat. All the businesses I ever worked on needed at least a 40% repeat rate to be viable. And when you do the math – which I just love to model – you see just how much of the volume is due to repeat. That 80/20 rule (80% of the volume comes from 20% of the users) really does come true.
So the new trend of subscription services is very intriguing. Of course, insurance premiums and financial products have known how to do this for decades. But now hard goods has an easy way to drive repeat with their best customers using these services. Here are some new ideas on the market:
- Birchbox for Men - monthly subscription service that’s like getting a goody box in the mail. The men’s Birchbox contains a menagerie of lifestyle and grooming products plus snacks. The subscription is $20 per month. See more men’s services in this article from November in Mashable. (FYI..there is Birchbox for women too.)
- Amazon Prime – As Jeff Bezos says, “…Prime is now the best value in the history of shopping.” For an annual subscription of $79 you get free unlimited two-day shipping for 15 million items. This service drives repeat of Amazon in our household! There’s no official number of subscribers, but Piper Jaffrey estimates it at 10 million at the end of 2011.
- Member.ly – To run your own subscription service is as easy as using member.ly. You can be your own curator!
- Executive clothing shopping services: There are many to choose from but my favorite is Corset Styling. It’s a local Edina store but stylist Jodi Montgomery Mayers has customers all over the country. This group is high service and wonderful style!
On a side note, I guess I inherently have an interest in “repeat” given I’m an identical twin. My twin sister Lynda and I were called “Pete” and “RePete” in high school (my maiden name is Peterson.) There’s a lot to love in repeat!!
Thanksgiving/Black Friday Weekend:
Total Sales: $59.1 billion, +13% vs. last year
Top five categories (based on what shoppers said they bought): clothing, electronics, toys, movies/DVDs, and for the first time ever – footwear.
Fun fact: 22% of shoppers shopped on Thursday with the busiest times from 5-8pm.
Fun fact: 36% of shoppers used smartphones to help shop while in stores on Black Friday.
Online fun fact: Spending online on Black Friday alone topped $1 billion for the first time (comScore, National Retail Federation.)
Small Business Saturday:
Total Sales: U.S. supporters of local businesses spent $5.5 billion or 9% of total weekend sales. Note: this spending is only shoppers who were aware of Small Business Saturday and not how much was actually spent at small businesses on Nov. 24.
Fun fact: Small Business Friday is in its third year. My niece Ali Chapin leads the Social media effort for Small Business Saturday at Amex.
Fun fact: American Express reported a 21% increase in card-member transactions on Small Business Saturday. (National Federation of Independent Business and American Express.)
Total Sales: $1.46 billion spent online, +17% vs. last year.
Fun fact: 11/26/12 was the busiest day for online commerce in history.
Fun fact: Online sales for all of November were $16.4 billion.
Not so fun fact: Online shoppers loaded up on more items but spent less per visit on Cyber Monday.
This should be a strong holiday for retailers, based on one fact alone. This is the longest shopping period between thanksgiving and Christmas that is possible. In my days running seasonal businesses at Pillsbury, we counted these days carefully as the number of shopping days and weekends for parties directly impacted sales.
So here’s to a great holiday for all, not just our nation’s retailers!
This seasonality wheel has been in my tool it, thanks to Dugan Valva Contess. While it’s over ten years old, it continues to be relevant today. (As Harry Balzer of NPD would say, things don’t change that fast!) While we live in a world of minute-by-minute marketing, it’s crucial to know the overarching emotional and activity states of our culture throughout the year. The insights from this wheel have helped me answer the following questions:
- For a consumer shipping business, how can we address a summer slowdown and continue to grow our business with the most loyal users?
- How should we approach the holiday season on a daily basis?
- When should we target events in the blood donation field?
Interestingly enough, my colleague and social media guru Robin Neifield (CEO of NetPlus) recently wrote on the same subject for ClickZ, thought she focused on the timing of social interactions. She reminded us that “the biggest mistake you can make with a seasonal business in social media is to assume that seasonal high months are the only ones you need to plan for and to ignore all of the adjacent opportunities for good interactions and good content.”
I want to update this wheel with the new digital mindset (i.e. adding Black Friday.) Let me know what you would add. And watch out this month…you may finally have that urge to organize your office…it’s the season!