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This Blog Is Signing Off

08/05/2014

endThat’s all folks, I’m shutting down this blog.

Don’t know exactly when it happened but I began losing interest in it some time ago.

And then it hit me like a brick…if I’m bored with it, I can only imagine you are too.

875 posts since February 22, 2010. Best day was September 22, 2010 with 1,222 readers of the post ‘iPad With A Cup Holder’ – about the airline industry’s dreadful customer service and desire to shrink seating size.

Fortunately I’ve been blessed with much to do of late and that may play a role – whatever.

I intend to use LinkedIn where I have over 1,000 connections to share my point of view.

If we’re not connected, reach out, tell me you’re a former blog follower…and presto! We’ll be connected!

My email address is rick.rusch@thought-tech.com

Enjoy the rest of summer. I noticed the sky darkened a little after 8 last night. But I love fall – so bring it Mother Nature!

Thanks for listening. Stay inquisitive.

Happy Trails!

Qwick Stand Is Simply Brilliant

08/04/2014

IMG_1295If you play outdoors, like I do, its likely you’ve changed shoes or boots in dirt, mud, water, sand or snow.

And while the elements are why you’re outdoors you really don’t want them in your boots or car.

For years I’ve kept a simple door mat in the back of my SUV to stand on while getting into waders and boots, change out of hiking boots or put on ski boots in the parking lot. The mat worked pretty well but it brought dirt into the vehicle and was virtually impossible to clean.

Yesterday I threw that old door mat in the trash.

Now I have a Qwick Stand.

Qwick Stand is a brilliant invention. Perhaps in its utter simplicity. Qwick Stand is a tough-as-all get-out water-resistant closed cell foam mat. What’s truly unique about it is that’s if foldable – so if you want to keep the top clean fold it up and it stays clean. Or if you’d prefer Mother Nature’s crud stay out of your vehicle…fold it the other way before stowing it away.

I bought the Qwick Stand off their website. Since then I’ve used it as a foot cleaning platform after fording a snow-melt full stream near Crested Butte and getting in and out of waders at one of my secret holes.

The Qwick Stand comes with a carabiner (not for climbing) that can be fed through the mats grommets in the four corners, which makes for easy carrying or drying.

So if you love Mother Nature, just not the mud and slush and dirt and sand that comes with her – I’d encourage you to look into Qwick Stand.

Thriving Brands Think Circular

07/15/2014

 

Great_Recovery_systems2The traditional relationship between brands and consumers is being tested on multiple fronts.

Built on the assumption of unlimited and cheap natural resources, the ‘take, make and dump’ mindset predominant today  has begun to change. The circular economy is the most innovative approach to business consumer relationships seen in decades. While more established in Europe it is gaining traction in the US as well.

JWT’s recent trend report on the circular economy highlights five ways that some businesses are reshaping their operations and relationships with customers.

Selling Temporary Ownership

Dutch denim brand, Mud Jeans, began a scheme last year in which customers pay a monthly fee for jeans, returning them at the end of the lease period (a year is the minimum). Mud then cleans the jeans and makes any necessary repairs before re-leasing them or, if the jeans are beyond repair, recycling them through its denim manufacturer. This way, Mud retains ownership of the raw material, helping to protect the company from volatile cotton prices, while customers can update their wardrobe annually without the sizeable upfront cost.

Second Hand Sales

One of the easiest ways for brands to eliminate waste and participate in the circular economy is to give goods new life in the second-hand market. Patagonia, the outdoor-gear brand, set up the first multi-seller branded store on eBay, enabling customers to list their used Patagonia items. In four US Patagonia stores (Seattle, Palo Alto, Portland and Chicago) customers can trade in old Patagonia goods for store credit. These items are then sold in a Worn Wear section of the shop.

Collecting and Recycling Goods

In the apparel category, European retailers including Puma, H&M and American Eagle Outfitters are partnering with I:CO, a Swiss reuse and recycling firm that sets up collection points in stores for worn textiles and shoes. Customers who contribute get discounts on future purchases.

Product Repair

In a circular economy, broken goods are upgraded or repaired and used for as long as possible rather than tossed out. Handles on Patagonia’s Freewheeler luggage, for instance, have four red screws holding them in place, making it simple for customers trying to repair jammed or broken handles to see which parts to unscrew. Dell and Lenovo design certain computer components for easy removal and replacement, shipping them to customers along with instructions. While these brands lose out in the short-term on a potential new sale, by making repair easier they foster longer-lasting relationships with consumers.

Designing For Endurance

While seemingly a logical concept, it’s likely we’ve all experienced the demise of product endurance replaced by planned obsolescence. Levi Strauss men’s brand Dockers is selling Wellthread, a small capsule collection that’s built to last and to be recycled. Trousers, for example, feature reinforced buttonholes and pockets.

All of this should be good news to consumers who are weary of product that just doesn’t hold up. For retailers and brands the circular economy represents a new path to customer connection and profit.

Social Media Is Not For Selling

06/30/2014

041012_socialmonkey_lgFor the past several years I’ve tolerated social media as a marketing tool. Social media is for being social – not for being sold.

I’ve told numerous clients they should probably be in social media, but unlike other marketing there is not measurable return on investment to evaluate its worth.

Turns out I’m right… #IToldYouSo

In a report released by Gallup last week showed that people say they use social media to be … social … with friends and family and don’t believe that messages from brands and businesses are affecting their buying habits.

A solid 62% of the 18,000 survey respondents claimed that social media had no influence at all on their purchasing decisions. A meager 5% said social media exerted “a great deal of influence.”

Even when considering brands that consumers “like” or follow on social networks, the reported correlation still remains relatively weak, with 34% saying that social media had no influence and 53% saying it had some influence.

According to Gallup, 94% of respondents said they are on social media to connect with friends and family, while 29% follow trends and find product reviews and information, and 20% to comment on what’s hot or new or to review products.

What’s a marketer to do?

Be Real – Engage your audience by having a personality that’s consistent with your brand position

Be Clear – Know yourself (your brand) inside and out, so consumers can know you/your brand in the same way

Don’t Be A Homer – Share content created by others…avoid using 100% of your own content

Focus On Other Channels – Marketing, especially online, continues to evolve – stay ahead of the pack

The Ultimate Last Minute Father’s Day Gift

06/13/2014

0d1edd666382c54f851619f9e4b40a49Father’s Day is right around the corner. But most Dad’s don’t expect much in terms of gifts…in fact many Dad’s are lucky to get a card. 61% of consumers will get Dad a card compared to 84% who bought cards for Mom on Mother’s Day.

The National Retail Federation is expecting that total spending for Father’s Day will be $12.5 billion this year, compared with an estimated $19.9 billion for Mother’s Day last month.

Do we spend less on Dad because we like him less? Not really. Dad’s are more difficult to buy gifts for. Nothing says cook me dinner like a new grill. And now that few men wear neckties – even that go-to option has fallen off. Instead gift cards have become the preferred gift for Dad.

If the Father’s Day gift quandary has you stumped – here’s a simple but profound gift for Dad. And it’s free!

Commit to stop texting while driving. Consider this…5 seconds is the minimal amount of time your attention is taken away from the road when texting and driving. If you’re traveling at 55 miles per hour this equals 100 yards, or the length of a football field, without looking at the road.

German car maker Volkswagen tested a brutally simple public service announcement in a Hong Kong theater. It’s interesting to watch – and has had over 4 million views on YouTube.

The scene opens with the theater packed, patrons presumably settled in to enjoy the previews ahead of their movie. A car starts and heads out down the road. Then everyone in the audience gets a text message. While they’re looking down at their phones, the car that had been routinely motoring along suddenly veers off the road into a tree. A few seconds of inattention – that’s all it takes to cause a deadly accident.

As a Dad I simply want the members of my family to be healthy, happy and safe. Telling me there’s no texting while driving in my family’s fleet is the ultimate Father’s Day gift.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHixeIr_6BM

Mobile Advertising Is A Wrap

06/10/2014

dars-day-13

Today’s consumers are what I call ‘multi-screeners’. We view the world through the screens of our TV’s, computers, tablets and phones. In spite of the massive amount of time we spend staring into all these screens – marketers are still trying to figure out how to advertise online and on our phones. It’s safe to say they’ve not cracked the code.

Of all channels television remains the most favored means of communicating with consumers with nearly 58% of advertising dollars spent on TV. This is interesting because the definition of live TV is changing. More often than not ‘live’ TV has been recorded on a DVR and viewed at a more convenient time. This usually is accompanied by zooming past commercials in order to reduce viewing time. It’s possible TV’s reign as top advertising channel will erode rapidly over the next five years.

I’m bullish on one of the smallest and perhaps most under used non-screen mediums is outdoor mobile. By that I mean vehicles. Cars and trucks are always on the move and can be seen by thousands every day. Using vehicles to advertise your brand or product is smart. Even if your brand does not have its own fleet of vehicles.

Vehicle wraps are essentially temporary tattoo’s for cars and trucks. Outdoor mobile is a great way to stand out 24/7. Take the FedEx truck above. No words. Just an image – that speaks volumes!

I will make two predictions about vehicle wrapping:

- It’s about to explode – now about a $200 million plus business will triple in five years

- It’s about to become a fashion statement for drivers…not advertising, but patterns, ‘textures’ and graphical effects that are next to impossible to obtain with paint.

If you want to make an impression for your brand or yourself – wrap it.

Bandaid for Brand Obama

06/04/2014

fastcompany2001In April 2008 Fast Company ran the article, ‘A Brand Called Obama‘.

The article is long, waxing about Obama’s star-power. It quotes Keith Reinhard of ad agency DDB Worldwide, “Barack Obama is three things you want in a brand: New, different, and attractive. That’s as good as it gets.”

This is not an opinion editorial – but brand Obama is tailspinning faster than that of Blackberry or JCPenney.

Slightly over six years later it’s easy to go back and read this article with a different perspective than when it was written. Just the same there’s no shortage of irony within the words written.

Of particular note are:

  • “There is a new, authoritative consumer empowered by the Web. And they can smell a fake.” A quote by Karen Scholl, Resource Interactive, a digital ad agency.
  • ‘Obama has deftly embraced — and been embraced by — the Internet.’
  • ‘The campaign’s Web site is “far more dynamic than any of the others,” says Bentley College professor Christine Williams, who has been studying Web sites and social media in campaigns.’

Today Brand Obama is reeling from the repercussions of trading deserter Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban thugs. Last week it was the Veteran’s Administration. The Affordable Health Care Act rollout has not been pretty.

If a corporate CEO had a run of missteps remotely close to that of Mr. Obama – they’d be shown the door faster than you can say pink slip.

Mr. Obama, take some advice from a brand guy, bring in the smart folks that ran your brand before you were elected. They might be the bandaid needed to help us all get through the next two plus years.

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