“Dumb and Dumber, FOX and Warner and how they are Planning on Delaying Deliveries to Red Box

dumb and dumber

                                                                                  Lloyd and Harry reach Aspen on Scooter in Dumb and Dumber

 

FOX and Warner Bros delaying new movie releases to Red Box and other kiosk vendors is like watching a new release of Dumb and Dumber.

In the Wall Street Journal article: Warner Bros. aims to lift DVD sales, will delay arrival at rental kiosks. They discuss how they plan to delay new releases to DVD rental kiosks.

The movie studios are concerned about their DVD revenues.

The market is not only speaking, but screaming how they are raving fans of DVD rentals Kiosks like Red Box.

The current big customers like Blockbuster and others are posting over 22% losses in revenues when kiosks like Red Box are showing consistent and impressive gains. Call me crazy… but your market is speaking guys…can you hear me now? Red Box Kiosks are described as; “The hottest thing in movie rentals is as old as the Coke machine — and just as red.”Their CEO Gregg Kaplan said “We are incredibly proud to achieve 200 million rentals and 10,000 locations nationwide.”

The studios have a choice, they can try to “control” the market, the buyers, or they need to intimately understand the market, buyers and needs and not only embrace the new ways consumers wish to consume content but enable it.

Thirteen years of my work experience was serving the movie distribution, rental and mass retail. How Warner and Fox are behaving is no different than how they all were behaving worried that this new thing called “movie rental stores “would erode their box office revenues in the mid 1980”s.

Market losers try to control the market and they protected their current cash cows while ignoring the consumer’s voice. They ignore the bright lights of growth and change trying to tightly hold on to past business models their markets no longer value.

Market leaders spend time getting to know their market and they quickly understand consumers who rent movies also go to movie theaters and some even buy movies and collect them.

When we rent content it is about wanting entertainment in a convenient and cost effective way for me as a consumer. You can try to control us, however when you do we find other ways to solve our needs and often they are much more severe to your bottom line. Besides, how long will it be before one of your competing studios blinks? Didn’t we live this same scenario “back in the day” And what happened…aggressive smaller studios emerged understanding the needs of consumers and and one of you big guys blinked. Some of you held your ground (more stubborn and stupid, driven by your own needs and egos instead of being strategic marketers) and how did that work for you back then? I remember, do you?

I can remember the 28,000 independent video stores and large movie distributors placing pressure on the studios to not ship new video releases directly to this 14 store chain in Texas called Blockbuster. At the time they were buying through distributors like Big State, Commtron, Ingram, and others. Well that little chain of 14 video rental stores quickly became a market leader.

I am a huge fan of Red Box.

They solve problems for me;

· I want to rent a DVD fast, I like the experience

· I want to rent a DVD and do my grocery shopping in one trip, in one location, one stop ( I am already late for dinner)

· I do not want to pay what Blockbuster charges , no late fees …but still a lot more than $1.00

· I only want the movie for one night

· I don’t want to have to join Net flicks or others and pre plan my month of movie viewing

· At a $1.00 rental, I feel like I receive a value , if I like it I go to Wal Mart and buy it

· I do not want to have to “shop” at a movie rental store only to find out they have all the new releases checked out

· I do not want to pay more for a new release than an older movie

· I do not want to buy movies through my cable provider as they are already raping me with what they charge

· The box office theaters are increasing their prices ( again, feels like they are thinking about their own needs and not mine)

So what are you going to do Dumb and Dumber? Are you going to repeat the past and focus on your needs or are you going to understand the market, it’s consumers and our changing needs and not only enable us to enjoy movie entertainment, but who knows you may even find new products and serves that solve our unresolved problems that Red Box fails to solve?

When I wrote my post : Attention leaders: Don’t look now but your lack of market knowledge is showing… I was talking about companies like you that have lost touch with their markets and they guess , assume, and use their gut and intuitions as their way of hitting their goals. They make inside-out versus market -in decisions and their shareholder values decline rapidly.

Your choice…focus on your internal needs and try to control the market… Or gain an intimate knowledge of your market today and it’s consumers like me and build products and service delivery systems that serve me and solve my unresolved problems.

Oh I can hear the movie exec’s now…”easy for you to say, we have billions at stake here.” Well you are right, you do. But you will eventually supply the kiosk companies with new releases at the same time as others. While you figure it out, Red Box will go to a mass retail store on the day of the new release and buy them. While you figure this out you will remove profit from your movie distributors.

So the question is how long do you want to be a “buggy whip” manufacturer saying this horseless carriage is a fad? Or, do you embrace your market, its changes and evolve into a new company that meets our needs today and into the future?

Maybe you develop a “imovies” since my kids seem to download their favorite DVD’s onto Apple laptops? The only hassle is the download from the disc. Not a big deal, but maybe you take the time to understand why they are doing this, the problem it solves for them and solve it brillantly?

We are all watching…

How about your company….

Are you trying to control your market? How’s that working for you?

Are you trying to control your vendors trying to slow down a new service model in your industry?

Are you the buggy whip manufacturer saying this new horseless carriage is a fad and will never last?

Or are you studying your market, your consumers and intimately understanding what and why they do what they do?

All is not lost by the way as some forward thinking buggy whip manufactures found as they learned to make leather seating for these horseless carriages.

Trying to control a market is foolish and expensive. Understand and embrace your market and become a market leader, not a market loser.

Is your Email Marketing sending business to your Competitors?

 

If you feel a poorly executed email marketing campaign is better than no email marketing at all; you are wrong!

Email marketing if properly executed helps buyers buy and can reinforce your message with prospective buyers for future purchases. If poorly executed you will also make an impression, a negative one that will not only last, but spread.

I can tell when the end of the month is approaching by the amount of email spam I receive. Below is an email I received today that illustrates a number of mistakes you must avoid in email marketing.

Dear Customer,

We are dominant player in the Business List Industry with over 40 Million B2B contacts and 200 Million B2C contacts. We have all varieties of business records that come with complete contact details including working business email addresses.

We can assist you in reaching out to your target audience in multiple ways. We can provide you with updated information such as contact name, email address, phone number, fax number, mailing address, job title, etc…

Job Title Scope: Reach top-level executives like CEOs, CFOs, CTOs, COOs, CIOs, Presidents, Chairman’s, GMs, Mid level Managers, Sales and Marketing Managers, HR, Managers, Finance Managers. 

Our products and services are:
Email Appending, Email List Acquisition, Email Blast, Email Lead Generation, Data Appending etc.

If the in-house database that you has information that has gone bad or is incomplete, we can update it with the above mentioned fields. Let us know the criteria for your target audience and a sample file will be mailed. Can you give me some specifics regarding your target audience? 

Example: In business, are you interested in only a certain type of business?  Are the gross revenues of the company important? Do you prefer to target companies with a particular employee size? Do you need the contact name and title of someone at the business you wish to target?  If consumers, do you want to target people with a certain income level, occupation, children at home, etc.

If you would prefer to advise me of your requirements via email, my email address is XXXXXX

Please let me know of a convenient time for a quick call, looking to talking to you soon.

Regards,

[I removed the name]

Business Development Manager

We respect your privacy. If you want to stop receiving emails from us, please send a reply with the email subject line as “Leave out”.

 

My thoughts;

· First, I am not your “customer”, I do not know you and to use a generic “Dear Customer” quite frankly is insulting. What it means is you have no clue who I am and you have already lost me. You do not know me, care about me or my needs.

· Next, as I read through your message you provide, sell; email contact information, and you go on to say you have a core competency in reaching top executives…Really? If your product is so good, why didn’t you use it when trying to engage with me?

· “Email Appending, Email List Acquisition, Email Blast, Email Lead Generation, Data Appending etc.” …OK you have explained “what” you do, but what problem do you solve for me? Oh I get it; I am supposed to figure that out on my own…

· “Are you interested in only a certain type of business? “ OK, yes, I am interested in certain types of businesses, again if you have a competency in this area why didn’t you demonstrate your knowledge in my type of business?

· “Are the gross revenues of the company important?” Are you kidding me? Now you are insulting me again. I also reflect; what if I asked the CEO of one of the companies I would like to help this question, it would be a disqualifier.

· You did provide your email that I X’d out in case the CEO of your company is reading this post, but you failed to provide your phone number?

· Good job you did do one thing right that I will use; “We respect your privacy. If you want to stop receiving emails from us, please send a reply with the email subject line as “Leave out”.´

· And to add insult to injury when I try to close this message I am prompted that you want to know if I read this? NO! Shame on you!

After receiving this message I will never buy from this company, never! Not only will I not buy, I am so shocked by this poorly executed message I will tell a number of those in my network this story and I am sure they too will not want to partner with you.

If you are using email marketing, learn from the mistakes in the above and;

· If you do not know a contact name, title, do not send

· “eat your own dog food”, in this example, if you sell contact names for email marketing you had best demonstrate a competency in the space you play

· Give me an opportunity to opt out

· Know something about your customer, their industry, and more importantly know your market and it’s most pervasive problems.

· Once you know those problems, share how your product or service solves them

· Don’t ask questions that insult my intelligence

· Provide your phone number, what if I did want to call you?

 

How about your company?

Are you participating in email marketing? If so share best practices.

Would you buy from this vendor?

Are interruptions “transforming “your customers into shoppers again?

TF2SteelPoster

I am a big fan of action movies and the more Sci-Fi the better. I really enjoyed the first Transformers movie and I was anxiously awaiting the second: Revenge of the Fallen…how will they top the first? New villains, maybe 3-D special effects, and so on? I was convinced, based on the first movie I would be captivated again. They helped me establish a brand for the Transformer experience from the cartoons I would watch with my son years ago to their recent special effects of their last release. They set an expectation of a story line that flowed. I expected a great deal of action and special effects and some humor to give me a chance to catch my breath.

However what I experienced was a painful interruption. Unlike the first movie, this one threw in characters that did not support the story line and were actually a painful interruption for me. Interruptions are those elements thrown in to cause a response that add no value other than shock. They create a momentary interruption to grab your attention like a bikini clad model in an ad for spark plugs. Yes, your attention is momentarily grabbed, but for the wrong reason. At one point when one of the transformers were “humping” Megan Fox’s leg they lost me. They lost me because they did not live up to the brand they so carefully established in their cartoons and the first movie when I became a customer, and a fan. They lost me when they tried to get too cute, too funny,” because they could and not because they should”. They lost me when they added adult humor in a movie theater full of young children holding their favorite transformer toys.

 

How about your company…has the desperation to make your numbers caused you to compromise who you are?

 

Can you think of other examples of companies that strayed and could make a comeback?…not made a comeback?

 

What brand broke its promise to you?

 

What are the best ways to find out if you are transforming your loyal customers now shopping for another partner?

 

If you find out your interruptions are transforming your customer base to shoppers, what can you do, if anything to bounce back?

Do you need to “Detox “your business before it can hit your goals?

detox_diet_toatl_diet

About twelve weeks ago I had a wakeup call. I had my regular check up with my doctor and he informed me I needed to have a prescription for high blood pressure. It seems my blood pressure was dangerously high and if not addressed could lead to a stroke or heart attack. I am not a big fan of taking medication that addresses the symptom and not the cause, so I asked the doctor what I should do. He reviewed my folder and looked me square in the eye and said “you need to lose weight, I don’t know if you realize it but over the last seven years you have gained over 50 lbs…loosing this weight would be a great start.” What the doctor did not know was that I was working out three times per week but just couldn’t lose the weight this time.

A friend had a noticeable weight loss (70lbs) recently so I asked Dave what was his secret? Without hesitation he said “Medifast” and he gave me the phone number of their local office. When I met the counselor she started by asking me a number of questions, taking my blood pressure and handing me a prescription for blood work I needed to have done at a local clinic. The counselor then explained the weight loss process will begin with a week of “detox” .

Instantly my mind raced and I became apprehensive and anxious. I thought of the infomercials from television about detox programs and how John Wayne was supposed to have had over 20lbs of undigested toxins in his system when he died. I started to worry about the process and how uncomfortable it probably would be.

The counselor obviously has seen the look I now had on my face before, so she started to educate me about how our bodies work. Our bodies were designed to be amazing efficient machines. We are designed to consume food that contains essential vitamins and minerals to keep us alive and full of energy. What happens through poor food choices, stress, and bad lifestyle choices is we accumulate toxins over time. Toxins significantly impair the efficiency our bodies were meant to operate in. Toxins surround fat cells and if left unchecked, prevent our bodies from metabolizing stored fat for energy. One result is we consume more food and do not burn the stored energy reserves as we were designed, and coupled with inactivity we gain weight.

When we detox our bodies we help clean out accumulated toxins and bring our bodies back to the efficiency we were designed for. In addition to now accessing fat cells for energy, your body will absorb vitamins and nutrients as is was designed and need to eat less.

Since starting the program with the m’lis suppliments eight weeks ago, I have lost just over 30 lbs and I have noticeably more energy, I’m wearing clothes I have not worn in years, and most importantly I no longer need to have a prescription for high blood pressure. The detox process prepared me, my body, to achieve my desired goals.

As I went through the week of detox it made me reflect how a number of the businesses I have helped over the years needed to detox before I could truly help them. Businesses accumulate toxins and by not actively participating in their markets they lose their effectiveness and become sluggish. They find their gut and intuition is not producing desired results. As I reflect about the process I have used to help companies over the years I noticed they often followed a predictable series of steps;

1. They ask for help, something is off; a missed goal, poor performance of key indicators…, they learn what it would take in commitment, time, cost, and they postpone or choose not to change…live with it hoping the problem, the pain, goes away on its own

2. Wake up call, something happens; having to use their line of credit to make payroll, they lose a key account (or two), a competitor launches an amazing new product that obsoletes their cash cow, poor EBITDA, or the board gives the leaders a timeline for improvement.

3. They commit to change

4. We go into their market, find out why people do business with them, find out why others do not, and gain the markets’ perception of what this company does and does not do.

5. Discover market problems no one is solving

6. If the business has a solution that solves unresolved problems, reposition it in the markets’ voice based on the problems this product or solution solves

 

7. Identify roadblocks, how easy or hard is it for your clients to do business with you? Identify the “flaming hoops “customers need to jump through, and tear them down

8. Detox- the entire team, flush all the old , dated , beliefs and clean the business from within of all the roadblocks preventing the efficient absorption of revenues and profits. One area that grows fat and becomes less effective is often marketing. I discussed this in my post; “Skubala” Marketing. Sometimes it is actually team members we need to deter as Art Petty identified in his blog post Detoxing Your Team.

9. Create new product solutions if your current offering does not solve the unresolved problems you discover

10. Collect testimonials of clients, in their words ( do not “marcom” their words) that describe the problem they had and how your product solved it

11. Tell, tell everyone in the market the problems you solve

12. Start absorbing the new revenues of a healthy business

13. Plan to detox your business frequently as markets change

If your business is not healthy today, you are not alone. The current economic condition was a wakeup call for a number of businesses. As Kristen Zhivago identifies in her blog post Bravery and your Revenue, it takes a brave CEO to operate in the “beyond the call” mode. For a number of teams they learned their business was not as healthy as it outwardly appeared in good economic times, times when the phone just seemed to ring and they were in call mode. Good economic times do not push us, stress us, and test the overall health of our business. Just as a stress test or a blood pressure cuff can provide an early warning to a potentially fatal problem in the future, tough economic conditions show us the weak points, the kinks in our corporate armor that must be improved.

The majority of the teams I have worked with needed to detox, flush their old beliefs, and inside out perceptions ,processes, and their “company speak” prior to being positioned for explosive growth. The most common way of detoxing your business is to seek the truth. You find truth in your market asking questions , not sitting around board tables starting sentences with; “I think” or my personal favorite “ when I ran _____( you fill in the blank) 10 years ago we …..” That probably worked great 10 years ago and that is why you now hold a leadership role. But guess what, the market has changed! Once the business completes the detox process they are positioned to become healthy, and ultimately a market leader in their space.

If you cheat and try to cut corners, not flush all the toxins from your business you will only postpone your future profits and shareholder value. If you don’t flush the dated perceptions, non contributing team members, policies and procedures that serve your team, but feel like flaming hoops to jump through for your customers, your business will remain inefficient, ineffective and could, if left untreated …die.

So do me a favor, start detoxing your business today and your team will become more efficient, effective and ultimately a market leader. Market leaders have higher gross profits, grow 2X that of competitors, have higher morale, and valued higher.

Most competitors will choose to be lazy and keep carrying around the dead weight of old assumptions that suck the life out of their growth, profitability, and their market value as an organization.

A couple of questions for you:

What Toxins has your business accumulated over the years?

What symptoms have you seen over the last nine months that were a wakeup call for you and your team?

If you choose not to detox, what is the reason? What are you afraid of?

Do you have team members that need to be detoxed?

How healthy is your bottom line?

Don’t let “FUD” cause you to “soft launch” your next product

images fearOver the years I have experienced two types of product launches; a “Hard Launch” and what some people have referred to as a “Soft Launch”.

Hard Launch

A hard launch is when you set a specific date based on your market opportunity window, the ability of your team, resources, and market conditions. In a hard launch you have done your homework, you have market based data, and you have beta tested your product or service and received qualitative and quantitative feedback from the market. In a hard launch you have cross functional groups within your organization aligned and communicating regularly. If something unplanned occurs your team learns about it within days and has time to adapt verse finding out hours before the targeted launch that it will be late.

I believe in hard launches for four main reasons;

1. Sales can pre-sell based on your known buyer process and cycle

2. Execution, when hard launch dates are made, and communicated to internal and external customers…teams deliver

3. Buyers like vendor partners who do what they say they will do

4. Team members who hard launch products believe in their solution

Back when I sold big box retailers like Wal-Mart and others, if we  missed a launch date you would lose more than the revenue your product would have generated. To miss a key launch date violates your trust with that buyer and you had little if any likelihood of placing other new products in the future.

Hard launch dates create a “make it happen ” environment within high performance teams. In addition hard launch plans also quickly identify weaknesses holding teams back from becoming market leaders.

In most cases in my past I led sales and marketing teams and our goals were established based on a hard launch date. In the last 25 years I have never had my sales goals reduced because a product failed to launch on time. If your known buyer’s buying cycle is six months, you need to pre-sell to insure you meet the revenue projections that product management provided senior management to get funding for the product.

Soft Launch

If a member of one of my teams said we “need” to soft launch a product it would make my skin crawl. A soft launch means you did not thoroughly conduct market research, you are not sure you totally understand the problem you are solving and your solution may not completely solve the need. When someone says soft launch I hear them saying this product is an incremental improvement to a current solutions and is not a breakthrough product. I also hear them saying we will throw this product over the wall, into  our market and see if it sticks.Team members describe a soft launch as if it were some safe and effective way to launch new products. Their approach is like someone wanting to join the polar bear club and just putting their big toe in the frozen lake to check it out, and saying; I will ease myself in. It simply does not work. I hear some discuss how a soft launch is more cost effective. Again, I have experienced the opposite in actual real as well as the opportunity costs.

So I asked some senior leaders recently why they would or would not use a soft launch and what I heard in summary in favor of a soft launch was “FUD”…

 

Fear

Uncertainty

Doubt

 

 

 

 

 

Fear

· Fear the market may not accept nor embrace your new product

· Fear if you did a hard launch and you announced a future date your competitor would beat your team to market with your idea

· Personal fear, if this draws a great deal of attention, and it does not work I may be out of a job ( particularly in these economic times)

 

Uncertainty

· Not sure if their solution completely solves the unresolved problem you discovered

· Uncertainty in your teams ability to execute

· Uncertainty to the validation of the market justification data and process used to justify the ROI

 

Doubt (the what if’s)

· What if raw material costs go up?

· What if the market projection numbers and how we assigned goals was wrong?

· What if this new product in some way caused a negative feeling in our buyers that hurts our base business?

· What if the product turns out to be an incremental improvement and not a breakthrough product?

· What if by the time we go to market we missed the window of opportunity?

 

Market leaders do not wait for the perfect conditions and they lack “FUD”. Market leading organizations spend considerably more time in upfront research, doing their research in their markets and clearly understanding the unresolved market problems. The crystal clarity they gain insures the requirements for the new product or service are thorough, complete, and nail it the first time. Market leading teams have a launch strategy and plan that includes multiple steps and representatives from other cross functional areas within the team.

 

The next time someone recommends a “soft launch” what I want you to hear is “FUD” .Before you or your team spend any more time or money on this project you must identify what did not occur that should have. I have lived through soft launches and they never achieve targeted goals and thus ROI’s are missed. Soft launches , that put your toe in the water not only create doubt within your sales team, but customers have a 6th sense about products that are launched and just do not “feel right” so they wait. As buyers wait, your sales and marketing teams miss their key indicators and morale suffers. Soft launches are a sign you lack confidence in your product, product management, and marketing’s ability. With a soft launch sales does not pre-sell so even if your team totally nailed the solution, you now have the buying cycle before you generate the revenues and more importantly profits that meet ROI targets.

 

If you can’t have a hard launch plan, don’t launch it at all!

 

 

 

How about you, what experience have you had with “soft launches”?

 

How does your company launch products?

 

If you miss launch dates do you reduce the sales and profit key indicators?

 

Have you ever soft launched a product and exceeded your ROI targets? If so tell me about it.

 

Is there a case in which a soft launch is the best way to launch a new product or solution?

Is your business bleeding?… Three back to basics triage steps to stop the bleeding

 triage

If your revenues are off as of late you are not alone. However knowing others are struggling does not help you know where to make adjustments to achieve your corporate objectives, or for smaller companies to help you make payroll. I call this looking for the real “why.” Once you determine the true “why(s)” you can make strategic corrections and adjustments to correct your business.So what should you do if your business is bleeding today? It may feel like death by a thousand cuts, but I can assure you it is always one of three ailments.

Over the years, when your business was booming you really did not need to be that good. I know that disturbs some people, but the tendency for some is to have taken a position of; “do I know where the business is coming from and why people buy from me? ..Why should I care as long as it keeps coming in?” (as described by one of my customers years ago.) Well, now is the time they are caring.

There are three back to basics business triage reviews I  always asses. If you are not achieving your revenue targets your business is bleeding in one, or a combination of the below;

 

1. Product

 

2. The market

 

3. Your team

 

 

Product

Do you have a product problem? What problem does your product solve? How well does it solve this problem? What have your customers been saying lately? Is your product the perfect solution for an unresolved market problem?

 

Market

Do you have a market problem? Do you have a market or solution for one customer? How pervasive is the problem you solve in your market? What new conditions has your market experienced? Has your market experienced any new market dynamics like new competitors, government regulations, environmental factors, technology changes? Does your market feel the problem you solve is urgent? Does your market have the ability to pay for your solution? ( a word of caution, too quickly leaders determine they are bleeding due to a market problem, be careful)

 

Your team

If your product is a perfect solution (determined by the market) and the market is urgently looking for someone to solve their problem with cash in hand, then your problem is your team. This is one of the most difficult areas to adjust. The quickest indicator I look for is how market driven your team is overall. How focused and passionate are they to serving the market? Does your team possess the skill set required for the market of today? As is often the case some team members provided tremendous value in the past, but now lack the experience or training to meet the market needs of today. In a Fortune article recently it discussed how market leading companies are always training their team members in good times and bad.

Here’s a shocker for some CEO’s …you are a part of the team too!

If you have a product that perfectly solves and unresolved market problem, and a market that desires to pay someone to solve the problem your product solves, and you have an amazing team….then the problem may be you. Ouch!..that hurts , how do you know if you are the problem? You need to ask yourself some tough questions;

How well does your experience and training match the needs of your team and your market?

What area do you feel is your strength?

What area is your weakness?

What skill does your business need today?

What steps have you taken, and or are you taking to offset your weakness and or the needs of your business?

leaders know their strengths and humbly admit their weaknesses. Top leaders are committed to continuously improving their abilities to better serve their internal and external customers. This is accomplished through growing our abilities and balancing our teams with leaders who compliment our weaknesses.

It’s time you go back to basics and perform honest triage if you find your business bleeding.