Crystallizing a Future U.S. Auto Market: Brave New World

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A guest-post by Brian Tolle.

May 2017

Well, I finally did it. I bought a new car. Not that I needed one – my old 2007 Chrysler 300 was holding up fine (it helps that it only has 80,000 miles on it after 10 years) but the new model at Target looked so great with great gas mileage and the usual reliability, that I couldn’t pass it up. Of course I’m keeping my Chrysler since it is a collector’s item but now I’ve got an updated car that’s fun to drive and didn’t cost a fortune to buy.

I know I could have gone to Wal-Mart and gotten the same car for less. Even Nordstrom’s sells cars now but they have the Cadillacs from the old GM operations. Not quite sure about the quality. Compare that to the Target and Wal-Mart models. Magna of Canada makes both cars. Three years after the collapse of GM and Chrysler, they came out with a private label business model for cars. So I knew from my research that 80% of the Target and Wal-Mart cars are exactly identical – but it was that 20% that made all the difference to me. The Target car is fun to look at and drive (and it was 20% cheaper than the price I paid for my Chrysler ten years ago – with much better quality). Compare that to the Wal-Mart version, the Wally, and I was more than happy to pay more to get the same car, theoretically, but a completely different car in my eyes. There’s something about the look of the Target car – classic but not stuffy, serious but with a certain irreverence – just like me. And I think it’s great that Target didn’t brand the car – no nameplate. There was an article in Wired magazine where the Target marketing guy said,
From the very beginning, we felt the design of the car should “say” Target but the buyer’s reaction should be “that’s me.”
Of course the way Target displays its cars is fun. Their in-store display with their station wagon model and all the stuff for a picnic out in the country really stood out…almost like you could step right into that life and all of it could be yours. Those Target merchandising folks know what they’re doing. And just the other day I saw in my local Meijer their car version. And wouldn’t you know, these cars scream Midwest.

It couldn’t have been easier to actually buy the car. About two years ago I saw that Target was offering a premium Target charge card for a higher interest rate but the deal was that up to 1/3 of the price of a Target car could be financed through shopper rewards points. Since I always pay my monthly bill in full, it was a no-brainer. It took me two years to save up enough points for the sedan model I had been eyeing. The rest of the cost of the car I paid out of savings that I had put aside through the ING Direct promotion with Target. So I had my “financing” ready to go even before I showed up at the store.

Checking on the Target website, I knew which models were in the store and I could put a 24 hour hold on any model. I chose the blue metallic sedan that morning online and showed up ready to pick it up. I also set up the car insurance online through one of Target’s insurance partners so that when I arrived at the store and swiped my Target charge card, the insurance coverage was instantly activated. The only thing that slowed me down was talking with the Target employee. They hire local community college students who are in the auto mechanics program so they clearly love cars and talking about them to the customers. Otherwise, all I needed to do at the store was sign a few documents and drive away.

What’s also very cool is the plug-in diagnostics feature of the car. Part of the package I bought with this car was unlimited diagnostics. So I can pull up to any Target store, plug in the online diagnostics to the outside port on my car and it will give me a reading of what needs work and how serious the issue is. It also gives me the option of scheduling a service appointment with one of their partners (I think it’s Jiffy Lube) for an exact day and time. A friend of mine did this and noticed Jiffy Lube has an optical scanner when you pull into the lot that tells the mechanics who you are and what you need. In and out fast -- sweet.

And just think…I used to dread going to buy a car.

What would you add to this picture of a future U.S. auto market to make it even more real?

About Brian Tolle
Brian Tolle is President of The Tolle Group and also authors Corporate X-Ray, a blog that looks at the impact of corporate culture in the business world. He has a Masters of Science degree in Organization Development from Loyola University of Chicago and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from The Catholic University of America.

Selling Walkmans in an iPod World

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Selling Walkmans in an iPod World

Posted by Bob Moesta @ The ReWired Group

John Jantsch | April 16th, 2009 - 07:07 AM

WalkmanYou want to sell what you’ve got to sell, but what if that’s no longer what the market wants to buy. The Sony Walkman (for those of you under 30) was once the thing. Rich kids and cool kids had them and then everyone had them. But, that was yesterday, now it’s an iPod world.

So, the question is, are you still trying to peddle you industry’s version of the Walkman or are you willing to take a look at every aspect of your business, your products, your services, and your processes in an effort to give the market what it demands.

When times are good, people will spend their money on things they don’t really need, but right now, consumers are businesses are pretty darn focused on getting the most bang for every penny spent. Now is the time to make sure that your products align with that kind of thinking.

Let me give you an example of Walkman vs. iPod business models.

Traditional medical practice

Walkman - you make an appointment through your insurance company, mountain of paperwork, doctor makes you wait 30 minutes past appointment time, doctor pretends to listen, discounts treatment options you’ve found on Internet as a hoax, prescribes several medications to treat symptoms without any discussion about prevention diet or exercise.

Neighborhood clinic

iPod - same day appointment, paperwork online, massage therapy and green tea while you wait, appointment on time, discussion about overall health, encouraged to explore combination of traditional medicine and alternative therapies.

So, you’re not in the medical business - whatever industry you are in, I assure you there are standard practices that no longer mirror what the ideal customer is looking for - find out what they tolerate and blow it up.

No matter what you make, fix, ship or sell in this day and age, what you really have to offer to differentiate is the customer experience. You are in the customer exciting business and that comes about only when you can put away everything that you assume about your business and products and focus 100% of your strategic attention on understanding just exactly what the market wants today.

Diagnosing Non-Consumption

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A post by guest-blogger Brian Tolle.

Bob Moesta and I took some time recently to digest an article (Recent Shifts in Place of Service for Noninvasive Diagnostic Imaging: Have Hospitals Missed an Opportunity?) which appeared in the Journal of the American College of Radiology this past month.

The article talks about how from 1996 to 2006, private physician offices saw a 63% jump in Medicare noninvasive diagnostic imaging (NDI), emergency departments a 77% increase, while hospital inpatient facilities saw only a 15% increase and outpatient facilities a 25% increase. As the title implies, the authors took the approach that hospitals dropped the ball in keeping this market share and now need to scramble to regain some of it.

The more Bob and I analyzed this, the more we suspected this may not be a story of market share being stolen away but the market expanding by tapping into the non-consumption demographic – those folks who don’t follow up with prescribed diagnostic imagings because it’s inconvenient to get to the hospital after the appointment with their doctor. We suspect that the convenience of getting the procedure done right then and there in the physician’s office is driving a good percentage of the increase in the physician office.

If this is the case, should hospitals spend limited resources on playing this game with little or no chance of winning? Do they “jump in” to the outpatient NDI market or “jump out” by partnering with physician practices?

Tell us what you think…where we may be off base or on target.

About Brian Tolle
Brian Tolle is President of The Tolle Group and also authors Corporate X-Ray, a blog that looks at the impact of corporate culture in the business world. He has a Masters of Science degree in Organization Development from Loyola University of Chicago and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from The Catholic University of America.

Treehouse Video: An Intro to Jobs-To-Be-Done

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Jobs-To-Be-Done | An Introduction on Vimeo.

This video will give you a brief introduction to the marketing and innovation framework called Jobs-To-Be-Done.

It provides some insight about how situational context will lead a person to add certain products or services to a consideration set based on the Technical Job Requirements. We also explore how anxiety plays a roll in how a decision to consume is made. We wrap up by talking about how to gather the data that is needed to evaluate the Job that a product does.

Let us know what you think! If you have questions or ideas about how people are hiring your product, we'd love to hear them!.

Clay Christensen on Bank Innovation

Thursday, February 12, 2009

In this video on, Clay Christensen discusses how looking to emerging markets could help the banks' current situation.

He points out how credit scoring has had an impact on the banking situation and how larger banks were disrupted with the widespread use of automated credit scoring by non-bank companies.

He concludes by exploring an interesting and unique solution to the banks' problem.

Jobs-To-Be-Done: Pretzel Rods

Monday, January 26, 2009

It all started with a Tweet.

Annie and I had never actually met, but we had eaten lunch at opposite sides of the same table at a conference, and then connected and introduced ourselves on Twitter shortly after.

Months later, when she announced to the world on Twitter that she had an addiction to pretzel rods, I jumped at the opportunity to introduce her to jobs and see how much we could both learn about the jobs that pretzel rods do.

What's the Job?

In a few short paragraphs I explained the role that situational context plays in what we choose to consume (hire). I talked about the Snickers bar (help me make it through the next few hours without crashing; give me something that feels like food when I'm eating it), and the new home, (help me live the life I should be living; help me get out of this bad neighborhood).

Then we started talking about the containers of pretzel rods that she keeps on her desk.

Why not potato chips? - "Pretzel rods don't contain fat or any real calories."

If it's a health consideration, why not an apple or orange - "They're not as accessible and they make my hands sticky."

We know there is a lot of motion involved with jobs and why people hire things. So when you reach for a pretzel rod, is it because of something that just happened, something that's happening now, or something that's about to happen? - "Usually because my stomach is grumbling, but sometimes my mouth just gets bored!"

What People Don't Say

This is where it becomes important to really listen to people. During our email exchange, Annie started describing the recent changes that had occurred in her working environment. Her workstation was recently moved into a part of the building filled with software engineers. The engineers were more introverted than her other marketing colleagues and she started feeling disconnected; turning to Twitter for interaction with other people.

Another aspect of the job became apparent when she began talking about the fact that engineers would visit her desk throughout the day to grab a pretzel rod.

This was much more than just free food!

So What's the Job?

So how do you market to Annie? The job that the pretzel rod does for Annie is made up of the Technology Independent Job Requirements.
  • Help me fight my appetite throughout the day while staying healthy (my stomach is grumbling).
  • Occupy my attention for a few moments and give me a quick break (my mouth just gets bored).
  • Provide me with short periods of human interaction (my co-workers will visit m
    y desk to get a pretzel rod).
These requirements form the framework that Annie will use to make a decision at the time of purchase (what we see when we magnify the hire moment).

What Does The Pretzel Rod Compete With?

Because of how Annie may prioritize her job requirements, many items that seem like acceptable substitutions will not actually be considered:
  • Pretzel knots will still occupy my attention, and will help curb my appetite, but aren't as shareable (the person's entire hand goes into the bowl; not sanitary).
Also, because of the combination of job requirements, some items that marketers wouldn't consider as competition may be added to the consideration set:
  • Twizzlers may not completely satisfy Annie's need to stay healthy, but they are designed to be shared.
Think About Your Products

Do the people that market pretzels understand the jobs of pretzel rods and pretzel knots, and why they don't compete with each other? What else could Annie substitute that would fulfill her job requirements (leave your comments!)?

What are the jobs of your product? What falls into the consideration set when you magnify the hire moment?

CrowdVine is Rewired

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Help me meet someone.

I recently attended a conference on the topic of online marketing. I was traveling by myself, and besides a few people I suspected that I may run into, I didn't formally know anyone else that was attending or speaking at the event.

I'm not incredibly introverted, but I'm not also someone to walk up to strangers in a big crowded room and start conversations. I knew that it would be nice to start some online conversations leading up to the conference so I would have some people to meet, and probably learn some things from. Help me not eat lunch alone wihle I'm there, or end up without any after-hours plans each night!

Turning to my go-to social media site, Facebook, started me down a path. There was a Facebook group setup for the event which had a number of members. Scanning the list of names didn't turn up anyone familiar. There were no discussions going on in the group, and really no activity. My first path was a dead-end. LinkedIn's Groups feature is a little too formal for something like this, so I doubted that someone had created one just for this one-time event. I skipped them completely as an option.

Then I scanned over the email I had received when I registered for the event. The email prompted me to setup an account on CrowdVine, and that it would be used as the social media platform to communicate about the event. I had never heard of CrowdVine, but it was free, so I had nothing to lose.

Creating an account took less than ten minutes. I entered my interests, professional information, links to profiles (LinkedIn, etc), and uploaded my photo. When I logged in I knew I was on the way to accomplishing my goal.

I still didn't know anyone, but the discussions that were happening on the site led me to believe that other conference goers were hiring the site for the same reason that I was. Discussion topics included, "Who Is Arriving Early And Attending the Sunday Cocktail Party," and "Who Wants to Find a Good Manhattan Wine Bar on Monday Night?"

I joined in on a few of the conversations, and accomplished my goal. Then CrowdVine took it a step further. I received an email a few hours later telling me that someone wanted to meet me while I was at the conference. I clicked the link, and it was another online marketing professional with similar interests. Until then I hadn't noticed the "+ Someone I Want to Meet." link under the photo on people's profiles.

After scanning the profiles of a number of people on the site, I began clicking the link and letting people know that I'd like to meet them. This one tiny link was no great programming feat, but it's inclusion in the software enabled it to accomplish the job that I needed to have done. Help me meet someone.