Category Archives: Economy

Chrysler 200

Pricing In The Automotive World Is All Wrong

Chrysler 200

The Chrysler 200 at the New England International Auto Show

This weekend the New England International Auto Show came to Boston, which if you haven’t attended, make a note of it for next year because it’s great for the entire family and well worth the experience. Auto shows give the consumer access to cars from an array of different brands so they can compare them in terms of price, comfort, and options in real time and in person instead of comparing them online. As a student of business and marketing, and also being financially aware, I took notes on the prices of some of the cars and their brands. Needless to say I was stunned at the findings.

When it comes to buying a Hi-Definition television, you’re already aware of the fact that you’ll be spending more when you look at bigger screens. With furniture, you know that leather seats will cost more than other materials. You also know that if you want a powerful gaming computer or laptop, you’ll be spending top dollar as opposed to the typical laptop that comes with standard specifications and options. So then why can’t the auto industry be like the rest of the product related markets?

High quality brands sell, that’s just fact. People are going to buy cars from Mercedes Benz, Audi, and BMW before others. So why is a fully loaded Chrysler 200 the same price as Mercedes Benz CLA or well equipped Audi A3? We can argue that some consumers have certain preferences and tastes, but to buy a car that’s priced as a luxury car that really isn’t will undercut sales for these companies in the long run. I’m sorry, but Chrysler and Buick are just not going to compete with the Germans, they can’t. The sales figures are overwhelmingly pointing to consumers choosing foreign cars over domestics, but still American brands continue to fight an uphill battle.

While there are companies like Chrysler and Buick who are trying to be something they’re not, Infiniti and Lexus are paving their own path that separate themselves from the Mercedes Benz’s of the world and continue to march to the beat of their own drum. While their prices are in the range of Audi and BMW, their cars don’t resemble what’s coming out of Germany.

In the hatchback market, Volkswagen continues to thrive off their Golf and GTI line, but consumers have other choices that are more affordable and practical. A fully equipped GTI will set you back close to $32,000, while a fully loaded Kia Forte Hatchback is priced at $25,000. Most consumers will buy based off horsepower and performance, but when it comes to legroom and comfort, the Forte gets the point.

The last observation from the car show is GM’s brands competing against each other, which is something Buick is trying to end by introducing cars made by the German automaker Opel. Chevrolet always seems to take a model from Buick or had taken similar concepts from other GM’s subsidiaries and sold them cheaper, undercutting Buick’s, Pontiac’s, GMC’s and Saturn’s sales. Cadillac is moving in their own direction, and by moving headquarters to New York they’ve separated themselves from Detroit and GM.

In the final analysis, all the car companies are manufacturing top quality cars for every type of consumer. Unfortunately because of that, most car brands are all competing for the same market instead of dominating a market that they’re good at and can sell many cars without much competition.

Walkman

It May Be A Great Product, But What Do The Sales Figures Say?

Walkman
muadib.ar / Foter / CC BY-SA

Whether you’re selling candy, clothes, automobiles, tech gadgets, or any other products you can think of, everything you do behind the scenes and in your marketing strategy mean nothing unless the sales figures reflect the day-to-day operations and processes. The product may be great, it may look cool, and you may think it sells, but if there are no buyers and sales figures are down, changes have to be made to create a desire and want for the product you’re trying to sell. When it comes to products, there is so much to selling and marketing than what you, or your friends think, and what may seem popular in one clique, could be completely irrelevant to a broader customer base and bigger target markets.

At the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Sony unveiled their new Walkman (I know, we’ve suddenly taken a trip to the past). It will be on sale for a mere $1200 this Spring. While Generation X can have their flashbacks down memory lane, the issue comes down to what we should expect in terms of sales figures. Taking on Apple where they’ve dominated since the beginning of the millennium is a very bold strategy. Most MP3 players have failed against the iPod, why should the Walkman expect to steal market share away from Apple?

At $1200, are consumers really going to buy that over the traditional iPod? As a consumer and student of business, these questions have to be raised. We’ll find out soon enough, but let’s move our attention to automobiles that are selling, and in particular Cadillac.

Over the past 6 months all you’ve heard from Cadillac is how they’re going to take on BMW, Audi, and Mercedes Benz. ‘The reign of the German Big Three is coming to a close because they’re not making cars like Cadillac’, is essentially what the leaders of the American luxury brand has bragged. Well, the annual sales figures have been released, and it’s time to see who has ended up with egg on their face.

According to goodcarbadcar.net here are the statistics.

Audi: Sales up 15.2% in 2014 from the previous year.
BMW: Sales up 9.8% in 2014 from the previous year.
Mercedes Benz: Sales up 6.5% in 2014 from the previous year

And then there’s Cadillac.

Sales figures down 6.5% in 2015 from the previous year.

Cadillac is improving from what they’ve produced over the past few years, the problem however is the very strong perception that Cadillacs are still owned by older folks, and even worse they’re still a branch of GM. Once again, the product can look great and may be a better option, but the sales figures don’t show that.

Another example is coming from a different side of the business spectrum, the branding, marketing, and advertising branch of business. Entrepreneur Magazine shared an article discussing 10 of the worst new logos for big companies in 2014. While a few are clearly bad, others were an improvement and further developed the brand and direction the company is moving in. Whether these logos were bad or not, what do the sales figures have to say?

Personal opinion is what blinds us all from seeing the truth, and in this instance I’m talking about business, and this can be from the owner or the consumer. Sales figures show no bias, they have no favorites, they reflect the changes that really matter, positive or negative. Sony’s Walkman could be a huge bust or a success, but at $1200 let’s see how long that price lasts when consumers can buy an iPod for much less. Cadillac is being aggressive, attacking the German auto brands and trying to compete against the most popular car companies in the world. In 2014 they failed to live up to the hype. Lastly, personal opinion that fails to see what the sales figures really say, loses all credibility.

In business there are two things you must be aware of, listen to, and learn from. Sales figures and the consumer. These two aspects tell the truth. The customer is always right, and sales figures are never wrong.

Golf Course: West Virginia

Is Social Media Becoming The Digital Golf Course For Business?

Golf Course: West Virginia

Golf Course: West Virginia

The Internet and social media have changed how we do business, connect with other professionals, and communicate within the digital world that has been created and continues to evolve today. Prior to Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin’s existences, business was conducted through multiple avenues that required one to either travel, visit an office, play on a golf course, or have lengthy discussions on the phone or in person. Today, business decisions can be made with a click of a button, instant messaging, talking back and forth on social media platforms, and video conference calls. While many still do business as if it was 2003, heading into 2015 there are more time and cost efficient ways that can close deals within minutes.

Marketing isn’t what it used to be. What was once a “push and sell” philosophy has become more personalized and down to earth where both sides of a deal need to be familiar with each other and create a business relationship. That wasn’t completely necessary in years past. We live in the social media age where everything has become “social”. You can connect and follow a CEO who runs a business a few blocks down the street from where you live, and almost instantly create some form of a friendship through mutual interests if communication takes place.

Yes, this seems like something out of elementary school, but as Gary Vaynerchuk, who is the founder of Vayner Media and turned his father’s $3 mil wine business into $60 mil, has said repeatedly over the years that we’re seeing a youth movement in our society. A 40 year old man twenty or thirty years ago acted much older than a 40 year old in 2014. When adults are texting “LOL” and “OMG”, using hashtags, and talking about their favorite athlete or sports team on social media, you realize that how we socialize today can also shift how we market to multiple generations tomorrow.

The beginning stages of conducting business have been made on social media in the past, whether that’s B2C or B2B. When a 21 year old can talk to a 35-40 year old business owner on Twitter or Facebook, the foundation for a virtual interview is there. When that 21 year old who is an aspiring or current business owner starts talking with that experienced entrepreneur, a business connection can be made and it could lead to business transactions or a possible interview for an internship or job.

We are living in an amazing time. While you’ll say, “That doesn’t happen in business” it already has and will continue. Even in B2C marketing, Twitter has become the platform for businesses to offer their services to customers who might need it. I’ve seen business card offers, web design, SEO, advertising, and marketing pitches on social media, not just Twitter. Thinking that business can only be conducted the way it’s been for the past 100+ years in backwards thinking; we’re now heading into 2015.

The sooner we see the endless possibilities social media has, the sooner we can start advancing ahead in our careers, begin to build business relationships with people we may never have met, and grow strong business connections that not only benefit those your business’ services can help, but also get you loyal and lifelong customers and clients.

Ferrari 458 Italia

Content Marketing: Necessity vs Want

Ferrari 458 Italia
Philipp L├╝cke / Foter / CC BY-NC

In any retail industry, marketers and advertisers can go one of two ways; market necessity or market want and desire. The two strategies can either lead to the same outcome or have drastic endings depending on the industry and product. Sears can promote a more expensive washer and dryer that goes above and beyond the call of duty, but if the average consumer only needs the basic models that cleans and dries the clothes and the price tag is within their means, they’ll pick that 9 out of 10 times. This is where businesses, informative blogs that help consumers make buying decisions, and magazines can either lose their customers or have an entire readership of clients of window shoppers who can’t buy the eye candy.

The automotive industry has this same problem, and with no help from car magazines and blogs, the dealership and consumer lose out. When you read your favorite car magazine, what are the cars they usually test drive? BMW’s, Mercedes Benz, Maserati’s, Ferrari’s and Porsche’s. While the magazine is creating eye appeal similar to the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, it’s not being much help to the reader in the long run. Yes, for a moment in time they’ll be dreaming of driving that car, but there is no long-term value for the consumer, and instead of making the transition of reading to buying, they just read and dream.

I’ve always held Cars.com to a high standard as they promoted cars you can actually drive and buy, but even they fell into the trap of showing off the eye candy. It was interesting to see the features the BMW i8 comes with. But with a starting price of $135,000, how many of the thousands of readers will actually visit their local BMW dealer, test drive it, and buy it? Maybe 1-2% at best.

This has become the growing problem in the retail world since the early 2000’s. Some companies promote want over necessity. But if a majority of consumers live within their means, they’ll buy necessity products that are usually cheaper, but the number of sales will be drastically increased. It’s the same argument as going basic or premium. Most consumers will lean more towards basic models of a product more than the premium, unless they see long-term value.

In the summertime, people are more apt to buy an air conditioner with more features because they believe it will bring them more value and a cooler house. If you decide to promote want over necessity, you have to distinguish the difference in products. Unlike candy or tickets to a concert or sporting event, cars, washers and driers, air conditioners, TV’s, and laptops are products you have to live with for a while, they’re not just a one-time, one day event.

Always market value. The consumer will make the purchasing decision that best fits what they need, but if you persuade them to go premium, you have to complete the sale and be prepared for the multitude of possible questions they may ask. Long-term value is what it all comes down to, and as marketers and advertisers, you must show them that they do just that. Car salesmen try this tactic, but if the buyer sees that the basic car meets the demand and need while also giving them value, they’ll not pay extra for the car with leather and heated seats. There is no question that they want it, but do they need it? When it comes to cars, most consumers will stick within their means, smaller items and products on the other hand that are much more affordable and don’t require monthly payments could entice the buyer to go with want over necessity.

At the end of the day, if you promote and advertise premium and want, make sure they provide the best value for the consumer. Of course, your target market will certainly decide what route you take. But if your target audience is broad with different income levels, be prepared to sell hard on both, while also making sure each individual buyer is satisfied, whether they buy necessity or want.

Reddit logo

Reddit: Are You Willing To Take A Journey Into Uncharted Waters?

Reddit logo
Kinologik / Foter / CC BY

Recently I’ve been experimenting with Reddit, which I will now refer to as the site where SEO gets a dose of steroids. What is a combination of social media, and as Reddit describes themselves “The front page of the Internet”, I’m a little leery of using this site on a daily basis until I fully understand the ins and outs. However, if you’re willing to take the plunge into uncharted waters, at least prepare yourselves for what could either be the greatest thing you’ve ever done, or something you wish you never experimented with.

Reddit frowns upon self-promotion by posting content that you’re directly related to, and for good reason due to the possibility of spamming. But there is another good reason for this that may not have been the initial intent by the site’s creators. When you post your own content, you’re fully exposing yourself to the elements and the community that Reddit has. This isn’t Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, this site is everything your parents or elders told you about the real world, it can get very cold and hostile. You risk the chance of being eaten alive, and it’s not because of the content you post, but because Reddit reaches 10 million people a day, there’s the possibility that you get viewers and readers who are not part of your niche market.

As a blogger of another site, I posted a few older articles for testing purposes to see what the response would be, and whether I’d gain more traffic. I got traffic alright, a few hundred views within an hour, but unfortunately it didn’t reach the people I really wanted. When you post a link, you have to submit it to a Subreddit, which is similar to a category, Google Adword, or hashtag, but these Subreddits are communities. There’s no way around them, you have to send your content to one of them. And this is where the problem lies.

Despite what I had read before signing up, it’s not as easy to curate your content to niche markets depending on what you write. Business, marketing, and economy related content works great, however these Subreddits have strict policies on self-promotional links. Other topics such as hobbies can easily be placed in the wrong categories and Subreddits that reach people who are not in your target audience or niche market. Unlike Twitter and Facebook, the Reddit community is a completely different group that can either be your best friend or worst enemy.

From a business standpoint, I’d stick with SEO and social media marketing, excluding Reddit, unless you’re going there to be part of a community. I’d be very careful as to what I’d post when it comes to your specific business. Back when MySpace first came out, parents were very concerned about kids exposing themselves to the Internet to a bunch of strangers, and while we can all laugh about it now, I as a millennial am concerned about Reddit because it’s so different from Facebook and Twitter.

I’m not writing this to completely discourage you from joining or giving you a false impression of Reddit, but there does need to be a warning label that comes with it when you’re trying to grow a following or sharing your own content. For some of you, it might be the best experience and decision you’ve ever made and some people are thriving off it, but if you’re trying to target a specific group of consumers or audience, there is nothing wrong with sticking to Facebook, Twitter, and SEO.

In conclusion, if you’re a blogger who is trying to reach a big audience, you can see exponential growth and notoriety within a day, but if you’re a niche blogger you risk having your content being read by people who you have no interest in reaching. It all depends on what your objective is when using Reddit. Personally, I will stick with more conventional forms of marketing and content sharing until I fully grasp Reddit and it’s community. Again, I’m not saying it’s bad, but just be careful if you are interested in joining. It’s powerful and I saw an increase in exposure, but not all of the results were positive.

The Apple Iphone 3GS gets a Phone.

What Are Your Thoughts On SEO and Social Media Marketing?

The Apple Iphone 3GS gets a Phone.
Ninja M. / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

There are plenty of discussions out there that you’ll find on the Internet and on social media platforms discussing SEO, social media marketing, and what would be better for marketing. But rarely, if ever, do people who start the discussions ask the audience, group members, or loyal readers what they prefer, or what’s working best for them. Self-proclaimed social media gurus live and die by social media marketing, but they never ask marketers, business owners, or even the individual blogger what social media platform is bringing in the most traffic. SEO has proved to be effective for businesses, but how effective?

As we all know and have heard, what works for one business, might not work for the other. Some industries thrive off of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, while other, more traditional industries still get their best results through SEO and websites. Bloggers can also be part of the discussion as the topic they write about greatly affects how their marketing approach will be. When it comes to talking about products, web based content would be most preferred with social media reinforcing the content that is being shared. Law offices, doctors offices, and other services that can’t be explained through pictures and 140 character tweets would fair better by using SEO and websites filled with content to ensure the potential customer that they’re making the right decision.

So what are your thoughts on SEO and SMM? Which do you prefer and why? Do you incorporate both into your marketing strategy? Which is seeing better results? It’s one thing to say social media marketing is better than SEO, but it’s quite another to hear what’s really being the more effective strategy for small and big businesses alike. Understanding what’s working best is how everyone can profit in the end. At the end of the day, both SEO and SMM are taking up your time and money, but which one is worth the investment? Finding out what works best will save you a lot in terms of money and time, and with marketing being an integral part of a business strategy, it’s every important to learn what is working best in your industry and what isn’t.

Value Unused = Waste

Your Specialty Is What Creates Value For Others

Value Unused = Waste
Kevin Krejci / Foter / CC BY

It’s safe to say that one point in your life you’ve asked yourself “Where do I fit in?” This question can pertain to a sports team, group project, or the business strategy you put in place before acquiring clients. It might also be safe to say that you’ve tried mirroring either a peer or other business to try fitting in and replicating what they do because they’re successful in that particular area. Usually the results weren’t what you had hoped, and that’s because you weren’t utilizing your own strengths, skills, or that one intangible asset your friend or business across town didn’t have.

By not using your strengths, you’re not only hurting yourself, but others around you who could have benefitted from your skills and specialty. Your strengths are what creates value for your clients, co-workers, and friends around you.

Having been in the sports journalism industry, it can be very hard to outshine other writers and get noticed by a wide range of viewers. By trying to be like other writers, posting the same type of content, writing a post-game article that fans could read from a number of different writers, and not putting your own informative input out on the web, will surely make your content invisible. You must find your specialty or niche that not many, if any are writing about, but you know there is a target audience that will benefit and enjoy reading your unique content that they can’t get anywhere else. Whether it’s discussing player performance, what different sets of plays a team runs throughout the game, what worked or didn’t work for the team, are just a few ways to enter into what appears as a saturated sports journalism market.

In business, you’ll find yourself dealing with the same scenario. What can you do that gets you noticed, acquire clients, and provide value to your customers? Is there a market in the industry that your business is a part of that rival companies aren’t serving to a target group that you can be successful in? With laptops and iPads making home computers and desktops obsolete, there are still many small businesses that use desktop computers in the office. If you have a computer repair business, you have a niche market that still needs servicing but is slowly being forgotten about. Or, if your a software and technology consultant, you have a market where your can help these small businesses move to a more efficient way of getting work done.

Your specialty is what brings value, and that can’t be emphasized enough. Don’t ever feel that you’re inferior, or question your skills because no one else is doing what you’re trying to do. The truth is, businesses need people who can provide value in some way, shape, or form. If your skills can save businesses time, money, and resources, go out there and market your business and the services you provide. Thinking outside the box is sometimes frowned upon throughout our lives, but the reality is, the world we see around us was created by those who didn’t think like everyone else.

This can be applied in every aspect of life, whether it’s school, starting a blog or business, to even friendships and relationships. Providing value through your skills, experience, and knowledge is how you’ll become successful in anything you attempt to do. Don’t be conventional when there is a more efficient way of doing things. By being an individual and honing your skills, you’ll outshine everyone and they’ll see just how much you’re worth.