Friday, January 29, 2010

Free Idea Friday

Ideas are easy. Execution is hard. Every Friday I will share an idea that's been rolling around in my head that I have neither the time nor the where-with-all to execute. Remember, it's free, so take it for what it's worth.

The Name's The Thing
This week Apple unveiled their new tablet computer with the unfortunate name, iPad. Unfortunate for two reasons. Reason number one, this video from 2007...

Reason number two, it's already owned by Fujitsu for this device.

Here are 10 name options that Apple could use for this device that based on a quick search of the USPTO database and google seem to be available. I tried to make sure they capture some feature or benefit of the device and avoid some of the problems of the current name.
  1. iLeaf
  2. iLight
  3. iLap
  4. iTab
  5. iVue/iView
  6. iFeather
  7. iLink
  8. iRun
  9. iCore
  10. iPeel
Okay, the last two are there just to make sure I have 10, but I only spent an hour on this task. If anyone else has ideas to add to the list, feel free.

A few names from Ron, Van, John and others. Let the fun begin!
  1. iWant
  2. iRad
  3. iMoses
  4. iPatch
  5. iSore

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ugh, What A Feeling...

Yesterday Toyota issued yet another recall bringing the total over the last six months to 6.5 million vehicles. It also stopped selling eight of its most popular models while they try to figure our why a hundred or so of them have taken off like rockets and refused to stop. Unlike Audi, whose bout with unintended acceleration was caused by people who couldn't tell the gas pedal from the brake, this is clearly the result of a faulty part.

After initially blaming floor mats, Toyota is now trying to shift the focus onto the American subcontractor, CTS Corp., who manufactured the pedals to their specifications. This smokescreen is an attempt to cover up the real problem that began in 2002, when Toyota set their goal to become the world's largest auto maker.

In their drive to become bigger, Toyota's relentless focus on quality, the core tenet of their brand, fell to the wayside as they built factories in America, China, and widened their network of parts suppliers in order to meet the demands of their new vision. Clearly corners were cut, quality suffered and most unfortunately people died.

Toyota was the epitome of the automotive appliance. They were never very exciting, but they always did the job expected of them with little complaint or fanfare. So now that their quality is suspect, what's left?

Can they recover from this? Of course, but it's not going to be easy. It will take a massive effort by the corporation and their dealers, and begins by taking responsibility for the problem. Once they have fixed all the pedals, they must go back to the basics, focus on quality and try to earn back all the equity they've thrown away in the past two years.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Are you aimed at the right target?

Recently, I was asking a potential client who he thought his target was and he said, "anyone who wants to buy my product."

No, he wasn't being facetious. He was just coming at it from a little different perspective than I normally do. So I asked him who he had in mind when he created his product. He went into great detail about a woman in her mid 30s who had two children, worked, loved to cook, read cookbooks for fun, and whose ideal vacation was a trip to a city like New York, Chicago or San Francisco to try a lot of different restaurants.

That's the difference between a sales target and a marketing target. And knowing this is at the foundation of building a great brand. Sure, you'll sell to anyone who wants to buy, but having a well defined marketing target helps you develop products, craft messages and select media in a way that allows you to differentiate your products from your competition. You have to be aimed at the right target before you can hit the bull's-eye.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tomorrow The World As We Know It Will Cease To Exist. Maybe.

It seems that at least half the world – mostly publishers of books, newspapers and magazines – are holding their collective breath awaiting Apple's announcement of their long-rumored tablet tomorrow. And if those publishers follow the path of the music industry, they have plenty to be worried about.

When Apple introduced iTunes, they gave people what they wanted: access to music at realistic prices. The suits at the record labels fought tooth and nail trying to find ways to protect their phony boloney jobs and keep the money they'd been making at the expense of those who created real value. Rather than trying to find ways to add value in the new system, the labels fought against the flow and for the most part have been tossed out of the revenue stream. iTunes has democratized the music industry making more music available to more people, while putting more money where it belongs, in the artists pockets.

Ben Sidran, an internationally known Jazz pianist, struggled to get distribution for his music under the traditional system and earned pennies for each song sold. Under the iTunes model everyone with the internet has access to his music and he earns at least 10 times more per song.

If Apple really does launch the tablet tomorrow, publishers have a choice. They can try to hold back the tide by fighting to sell packaged content that over-delivers for most consumers (who reads every word printed in the New York Times or Wall Street Journal everyday?) and maintain all control over consumer information. Or they can open their minds to the new opportunities that will exist thanks to increased access and reduced distribution costs. It's their choice.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Manual For Change

I've been a big fan of Seth Godin ever since I first read his book Purple Cow. He always seems to have a way to cut through the B.S. and get right to the point with insights that are both inspiring and feasable. Linchpin is no exception.

Subtitled Are You Indispensable?, Godin's latest book which will be available tomorrow, is not so much a how to, as a call to arms. It's a guide to finding satisfaction and security in today's struggling economy and in the process make yourself a linchpin.

A linchpin is someone who does more than just work hard, but adds value to the work through creativity, innovation, action and connection. His argument is that all important work is art, and that all of us have the potential to be artists. For some of us the canvas for our art is sales, for others, engineering, medicine, marketing, etc. Linchpins do not allow themselves to become cogs in the machine. They find ways to make the machine better.

One of the more important sections of the book is the chapter on the obstacles we create for ourselves that prevent us from becoming linchpins. As I read, I saw several of the self-destructive thoughts and behaviors that have crept into my mind from time to time that have kept me from speaking up or presenting an idea.

Linchpin is an easy read and important for anyone who wants to make a difference in their current situation or find the courage to create a better situation for themselves. It now occupies a place on my bookshelf along with books like Orbiting the Giant Hairball, Eating the Big Fish, and A Whack on the Side of the Head as a book that I can turn to again and again for insight and inspiration.