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Product Development – Today’s Lesson Is From McDonald’s

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By Brendan Moore

You are probably aware that McDonald’s is not just an American experience anymore; the company has retail stores all over the world, and like other American fast-food corporations (KFC, etc.) has found great success in the international marketplace. 

The company didn’t achieve that success by ignoring local tastes, and if you’ve even been in a McDonald’s inJapanorGermanyor some other country, some of the menu will be unrecognizable. Even the food that looks familiar may have a very different name on it (for those Pulp Fiction fans, this is your cue to recite those lines about a “Royale with Cheese”). 

There’s a reason I’m bringing this up. According to article published in various newspapers, McDonald’s in France has just rolled out a new product named the McBaguette for a six-week market trial, and it’s a perfect example of great product development. I have no idea what it actually tastes like, but it is a superb product development concept. 

The New McBaguette

The new sandwich exploits the fact that the French love their bread (their fromage, too, but we’ll get to that in moment) with an admirable passion. In fact, 98% of all French people eat bread every day. And one of the most popular types of pain is the baguette, a cylindrical loaf baked with a hard crust. The French love bread; they really love baguettes, and this emotional attachment runs deep. Around 65% of the two billion sandwiches sold in France every year are built with a baguette as their underpinning. 

What better thing to put a couple of hamburger patties on, then? For the next six weeks, customers in France can plunk down four and a half euros on the counter at McDonalds, and get a burger on a baguette (albeit a square one), covered with melted Emmental cheese (from France, naturellement!) and spicy mustard. 

As I said, I have no idea how it tastes, or how it will taste to the average French man, woman or child, but it’s simple, yet brilliant product development and execution. 

And that concludes today’s lesson, mon amis.

Brendan Moore is a Principal Consultant with Cedar Point Consulting, a management consulting practice based in the Washington, DC area, where he advises businesses in marketing, sales, front-end operations, and strategy. Cedar Point Consulting can be found at http://www.cedarpointconsulting.com.

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In Bank Wars, the Customer Strikes Back

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As a long-time observer of the financial services industry, I was wondering how long Bank of America could hold onto plans for a new $5 monthly fee on debit accounts, starting in 2012.  The answer: About a month.  Earlier today, B of A announced that they are ending plans for the new fee roughly 32 days after it was announced, according to the Huffington Post. (Some wise senior manager at the bank probably had a monthly report dropped on their desk today showing high customer abandonment rates, shot through the roof, and called off the fee.)

In the past, banks have had the wiggle room to both add and increase fees, nudging them up to increase profits or stave off losses.  That, of course, was in the era before the Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street and a myriad of other similar populist uprisings.

Last quarter, NetFlix CEO Reed Hastings learned what it means to draw the ire of the American consumer during tough economic times, when Hastings was forced to apologize for a planned product spin-off that amounted to a 60% price increase by the company.  Nearly 600,000 Netflix customers dropped the service after the price increase was initially announced and before his apology.

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What is Your Social Media Content Strategy?

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Yes, "Pick Any Two" generally applies to content as well

A common complaint from businesses, large and small, is that they have a Twitter feed, a Facebook page, a website, a blog, they’re on LinkedIn and YouTube, etc. and they’re doing everything right in terms of being present in social media, but nothing is happening. 

Upon inspection of their customer source data and other metrics, it turns out that they called that pretty accurately; there is nothing happening as a result of their presence in the digital online world. 

Then you look at what is on their Facebook page, or their blog, or their Twitter feed, and it becomes obvious why nothing is happening. They have little or no content, and/or the content is awful and boring. 

As we mentioned in this piece titled, Business Blog Primer, having smart or funny or informative or engaging or thought-provoking content is key to making social media work for your company, whether that’s on a blog, or on YouTube, or on Facebook, or even if you’re simply participating in a discussion on LinkedIn. And it needs to be consistent, as we mentioned in that same piece from a few months ago. There is nothing more pathetic than a business blog that has three posts in the past 12 months. 

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What Is Social CRM?

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There is a very long definition, and then there is the one I’m going to give you: 

Social CRM is the enterprise version of Web 2.0; it enables businesses to share organizational knowledge easily, it gathers information from various sources on the internet, it allows companies to become more social in terms of how information flows back and forth across the organization, and, is specifically designed to help sales teams and developmental teams. 

That was pretty painless, right? 

But, why Social CRM? Don’t businesses already have CRM systems out the wazoo? What’s wrong with those systems? 

Having led some large sales teams, I can answer that question. 

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The Real Scoop on “Authenticity” and What It Means to Your Customers

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By Red Slice on May 4, 2011Reprinted here by express permission of Red SliceType “authentic branding” into Bing and you’ll pull up 581,000 results. The advice to “be authentic” hits business owners and entrepreneurs more than gray skies hit Seattle from October to May. And, yes, I give this advice to my clients.

But what does being “authentic” really mean?

This term has been bastardized a bit in the intersection between entrepreneurship and personal development. Many coaches and consultants are advising people to “live their passion” and “live an authentic life” and to find careers and businesses that “authentically” play to their strengths. This is all great advice.

But some business owners confuse “authenticity” with “only the stuff I care about.” And that’s not really what we’re talking about from a branding perspective.

Having an authentic brand means that you deliver what you promise. Period. You do what you say, You walk your talk. When I go to Walmart, I don’t expect great service or quality fashion. I expect what they promise: low prices. That is authenticity. It has more to do with company values, service quality, product line and image. It means that if you advertise your brand as hip, sexy and cool, then your products, your company – heck, maybe even your people – need to walk that talk. It means if you are going to tout “Customer Service is our #1 Priority” that you authentically take care of your customers, go above and beyond, and empower your call center employees to do whatever it takes to solve their problems quickly and painlessly. It means that if you claim to be cheap and disposable, that you ARE cheap and disposable, because that what people want from you if you are promising that.

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In A Surprise Move, Radio Gained Listeners Last Year

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The “Statistical Abstract of the United States”, a weighty, riveting (that’s veiled sarcasm, its dry as dust) tome produced by the United States Census Bureau, states that the number of hours America spends with radio has fallen from 836 hours per year per person in 2003 (about 16 per week) to a projected 716 hours in 2009 per person (about 13.7 hours per week).

However, Arbitron, the media and marketing research company that tracks radio listening, among other things, released a study Monday (3/22/11) that states that listenership among people 12 years of age and older actually rose in 2010. Arbitron’s numbers say that an average of 241.6 million people in this group listened to conventional radio stations each week last year, an increase of 2.1 million over 2009.

Carol Hanley, Arbitron’s executive VP of Sales and Marketing, commented, “Radio is much stronger than the general perception of it has been”.

My response is: “Maybe”.

If you’re in charge of marketing somewhere, and you’re thinking about spending some money on radio spots, here are some things to consider:

The renewed vigor of radio listenership numbers is due in no small part to the increase in Hispanic radio stations and the Hispanic listeners that come with them. Radio added 1.1 million Hispanic listeners in the United States last year. As an industry analyst (not with Arbitron) pointed out recently, the state of Texas alone went from 25 Spanish-language stations in 2000 to 154 Spanish-language stations in 2009, and at least a few more were added in 2010, although those numbers are not yet out. That’s great if Hispanics is one of your target markets, but not so meaningful if this group is not in your target demographics.

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Interest In Blogs Among Teens and Young Adults Fades

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If your organization or business has young people as a target audience or target customers, here’s hoping that you are reaching them through your Facebook site or your Twitter feed.

Surprising no one that follows social media, the most recent data available shows that fewer young people are keeping blogs, and more importantly for businesses, fewer young people are visiting blogs.

The sentiment driving this behavior seems to be a combination of:

  • A feeling that writing a blog takes too long
  • Low readership of small blogs
  • Facebook and Twitter are meeting whatever needs they have for self-expression

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