Friday, March 26, 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. 

A shot in the dark
I was so enamored with the Carbon police car I had to take a shot a creating an ad based on the strategy of positioning it against the Crown Vic and the Caprice.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The blinding flash of the obvious

Sometimes innovation is just looking at what everyone else sees in just a slightly different way. Witness the Carbon E7, the world's first purpose-built law enforcement vehicle.

As the story goes, Dallas police officer Stacy Dean Stephens kept notes about everything that was wrong with his Crown Victoria Police cruiser. To everyone else, it was the cop car. But to him it was just a passenger car with accessories bolted onto it, so it was rife with compromise.

It soon became clear to him that the only way to really satisfy the needs of officers in the field was to design a car from the ground up. So he found a partner and by 2012 will start selling a cruiser that's designed to do exactly what officers need, more easily, more quickly and more efficiently. You can get a detailed look at the features and functions here.

So what does opportunity look like? If this example is any indication, there's a pretty good chance you're looking at it right now.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Middle mismanagement

In this week's New Yorker, there's a great article about a topic that I've already talked about. In it they demonstrate how people are willing to pay a premium for exceptional quality (i.e. Apple, Mercedes-Benz, and Hermes) or very little for, as they put it, "well-priced adequacy" (i.e. Acer, Hyundai, and H&M)

This isn't a new phenomenon. In fact it's how the market has always acted. The true innovators come into a market, set the standard, and once the demand starts to build a slew of new companies rush in to provide the minimum amount of features and quality necessary at a very low price. It's what Clay Christensen wrote about in his book "The Innovators Solution."

Basically, what this means is you can be priced at the top of the market if you're constantly innovating to stay ahead of the imitators offering new features, experiences, benefits that justify your price premium. Or you can offer acceptable quality at the lowest possible price as long as you have something that makes you interesting.

What you can't be, is in the middle, which is why classic American brands designed to serve the middle class like GM, Sears, Holiday Inn continue to struggle.

Funny it's so hard for them to see the light. Gerry Rafferty gave them this warning back in '72.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A new brand takes flight

Midwest Airlines has been my favorite brand of air travel thanks to their two-wide leather seats and the warm chocolate chip cookies they serve on every flight. But based on this Denver Business Journal article, it seems that soon they will be no more.

Republic Airlines, the company that bought Midwest last year is merging them with Frontier Airlines.

The big question, of course, is what to call the new entity.

Here's a suggestion.

Since whatever made both airlines special will probably soon be lost as the organizations are merged and the planes reconfigured to maximize efficiency, they should make it easy on themselves and call the new airline what it will undoubtedly become...


Monday, March 22, 2010

Ratings Busted?

Thanks to Northern Iowa, I won't be winning my NCAA tournament bracket pool this year. But if history holds true, CBS lost even more.

In 2008, the last time there were a lot of early round upsets, ratings were way down for the second weekend of the tournament. Apparently even though the upsets make for exciting television, if they kill your bracket then you check out.

It's not surprising. How many people are going to turn in for a Northern Iowa v Purdue final if they don't have a chance to win any money? My guess is fewer than would watch Duke v Syracuse.

As parity becomes more of a reality in college basketball, CBS is going to have to figure out a way to keep people tuned in when the favorites fall early in the tournament. Otherwise they're going to continue to see ratings and revenue decline.