by Gary Mintchell | Oct 10, 2022 | Business, Marketing
A few random thoughts about sales, marketing, and communication.
Starbucks has been an off-site workplace for me for more than 20 years. This despite having perhaps the worst tasting coffee (since I do not load it up with sugary flavors). The company has changed its marketing direction this year. News reports say it’s in response to market changes due to Covid. I think that is only part of the answer.
The new Starbucks theme is not providing a cozy place to meet and work. It promotes ordering on the app, running in, picking up, and getting out quickly. Maybe with no human interaction. You order and pay online, run in, look at the extended counter, see your name on a cup, pick it up, and leave without a thanks, or hi, or whatever. The surfaces are hard, the seats hard and barely comfortable, and not many, and the music amplifies off the surfaces.
They are not alone. McDonalds has been long known for designing uncomfortable furniture to encourage a quick turnover. Over the past 15 years (in my memory), the company has changed coffee roasts three times. Where once the coffee was excellent, now it is a wimpy ghost of its former self. Buy the coffee and move along.
One of my German professors at university was from Vienna. He lamented the end of the Zehn Uhr Pause—the 10.00 break where gentlemen would congregate in coffee houses to discuss news or philosophy or whatever. Even in the 60s Viennese coffee houses were encouraging patrons to get the coffee and move along.
Presidents and marketing managers of software companies have been coming to me for years with PowerPoint presentations about hot new software. I ask, “What does it do?” They respond something akin to this press release recently received (that I hope is sanitized to protect the guilty).
To put it plainly, no one does exactly what we do. Our breadth of capability is unmatched, positioning us as the best partner to help your organization make its systems, equipment and people work to their highest potential. We start adding value day one with our unique approach to engagements: unlike our competition, we provide solutions instead of just asking questions. While others may offer generic pathway improvements, our team possesses the ability and willingness to get into the nitty gritty of your challenges and provide the solutions that work for you.
by Gary Mintchell | Aug 17, 2022 | Business, Design, Marketing, Technology
Riffing on Benedict Evans’ latest podcast called Another Podcast. He is a long time technology analyst whom I’ve followed for perhaps 20 years.
He was at an upscale restaurant in Italy recently and noticed the lights on the table. Not traditional candles, these were LED lights, with a battery and USB port for charging.
LEDs are now everywhere. Not long ago, LED screens were prohibitively expensive. Lights were rare. This isn’t a Silicon Valley phenomenon. People who make interior decorative lighting saw the possibility, hired an engineer or two, and developed the product. They had the channel to market and relationships with customers.
Some 40 years ago while I was Quality Manager at a manufacturing plant for juvenile furniture, the general manager had a vision of lights (LED would have been perfect) on a high chair tray. There would be several. Perhaps they illuminated randomly and the child could slap at them. Maybe turn them on and off. We could have hired an electronics engineer (or I could have switched roles?) and done that back then.
It wouldn’t have taken Silicon Valley.
Think also of the company who makes Tasers. It has relationships with almost all police organizations. They thought about products. Noticed they could combine small cameras that were now ubiquitous packaged with networking, audio, rugged packaging, and sell body cameras to those same police customers.
I’ve had jobs like that in my career where I scanned the environment for ideas from other places that we could use in our market.
We have had process and manufacturing engineers in our industry for years who absorbed technology in order to solve a problem. We needed “Silicon Valley” perhaps to design and manufacture components and provide foundational software. I’ve known many chemical engineers who became also computer engineers who then became also networking engineers all in order to solve process problems.
Yet, media reports would have us thinking that it’s all about Silicon Valley. It’s not.
So often it is not about the technology. It’s all about the problem we’re trying to solve.
by Gary Mintchell | Aug 15, 2022 | Business, Leadership, Marketing
Om Malik’s writing has inspired and influenced me for decades. He’s a thoughtful observer of the technology scene and a good photographer. He recently posted a piece about Mark Zuckerberg’s vision for the new Meta–his replacement for Facebook when it finally fades. After quoting from Zuckerberg’s talk about where Meta is going, Om points out that it’s all about what Meta can get from its customers. Nothing about serving customers and society.
During this morning’s workout, my podcast picked up Andy Stanley’s Leadership Podcast. His theme began with a story from a management meeting at Chick-fil-A many years ago. A new restaurant chain had popped onto the radar. Executives viewed it as a threat. The discussion centered on growth. Like a race, they wanted to grow faster than the opponent.
Founder and chairman Truett Cathy pounded on the table to obtain attention. The room quieted. He looked around the room and said, “First, we work on improving quality. If we are always improving quality, then our customers will tell us to grow.”
Two polar opposite views of the market.
Do customers serve us? Do we serve customers?
I am weaning off Facebook. It truly is evil making money by trying to entice us toward posting ever more extreme (and stupid) stuff to capture attention. I have never been in a Chick-fil-A. That’s because I don’t eat chicken. But if I did, I’d patronize the place that is trying its best to serve me. I’d shun the place that is cynically using me to make more billions.
Now–you are going to glance at this brief essay and return to work. What are you going to do? Figure out how to improve quality in order to better serve customers? I hope you choose wisely.
by Gary Mintchell | Aug 10, 2022 | Business, Marketing, Wireless
5G has potential for industrial and manufacturing applications, but when have we heard that much about it? Analyst firm Global Data’s recent study says mobile operators are failing to come up with a strong marketing story.
The study by GlobalData Technology, which involved a July 2022 audit of around 30 standalone 5G commercial deployments worldwide, concluded that although operators are keen to flag the adoption of standalone 5G in general marketing messages—largely focusing on the improved network quality and capabilities for enterprises—the number of standalone 5G references within consumer 5G service portfolios are few and far between.
Emma Mohr-McClune, Service Director at GlobalData, comments: “The lack of effective standalone 5G promotion is a real problem for the future of 5G monetization. Standalone 5G will be a vital requirement for a lot of the more exciting 5G use cases, from autonomous devices to commercial augmented and virtual reality.”
Mohr-McClune continues: “The few exceptional cases—in Singapore, but also in Germany and elsewhere—make for fascinating study. In the future, we could see more operators position standalone 5G as greener, safer, and more reliable than future generations of wireless technology, but the current industry is still waiting for signature use cases to give the upgrade meaning to consumers. In the meantime, we believe that most operators will focus on marketing the technology to the business sector, where there are more immediate and distinctive use cases emerging.
“In the Enterprise sector, it’s an entirely different story. Standalone 5G enables enterprises to set up their own, closed Private 5G networks, to better manage connectivity in ultra-connected working set-ups, such as ports and mines–or even ‘slice’ the network for prioritized levels of service for mission-critical operations. The benefits, use cases, and return on investment (ROI) are far clearer. However, in selling standalone 5G to consumers, operators are going to have to make sure they don’t repeat the same promises they spun out for non-standalone 5G, or risk appearing to contradict themselves.”
by Gary Mintchell | Jun 29, 2022 | Business, Commentary, Marketing, News, Technology
This was a strange press release that I almost just trashed. The lede, the news, was about a PR agency getting work. PR is never the news. PR executives and agents do not want to be quoted. Their job is to help people like me get to the news. They help point out new things and help us get interviews with the right people.
However, the real news concerns battery technology for electric vehicles. That news is timely and relevant. Batter technology constrains the utility of all electric vehicles from automobiles we drive to autonomous guided vehicles in warehouse and factory settings.
In brief (and in the words of the new PR agency):
- Nevada-based NexTech holds the patents in process and materials for groundbreaking lithium-sulfur battery technology
- The semi-solid-state technology is set to revolutionize EVs, renewable energy, aircraft, personal electronics and more with unprecedented energy density, overall power and safety
- DRIVEN360 will spearhead global launch – driving strategic communications and brand – emphasizing superior performance, push for U.S.-sourced materials and no reliance on expensive and/or foreign commodities
NexTech Batteries, the global leader in proprietary lithium-sulfur battery technology, has selected DRIVEN360 – a world-class integrated communications and brand marketing house – as its global public relations agency of record (AOR). With deep expertise across mobility, technology and a wide range of industries, the DRIVEN360 team will oversee NexTech’s disruptive entry into multiple markets, championing the most powerful, patent-protected semi-solid-state battery technology to date. Strategic communications efforts will also spotlight the company’s goal to maximize U.S.-sourced materials.
Lithium-sulfur called “the most powerful semi-solid-state battery with unprecedented energy density. Emphasize US-sourcing.
From its research facility in Carson City, Nevada, NexTech will focus on creating a domestic supply chain prioritizing U.S.-sourced materials, reducing the use of foreign suppliers and without the need to source unethically mined or rare materials used in current generation batteries. The company has already inked deals with North American-based lithium suppliers.
NexTech Batteries was founded in early 2016 and initially was the result of the exclusive license to the rights and patents to the lithium-sulfur battery technology developed at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
by Gary Mintchell | Nov 5, 2021 | Marketing, Software
I wondered how long it would take for someone to ask. What happens when an independent software developer who has a widely adopted product sells out to a particular supplier? The supplier proclaims independence, but will it really not absorb it into their proprietary product?
Then GE Digital sent an email to me at a very old address that I still have forwarded (note to self: delete that old address). Get Proficy Historian for up to 90% less than OSI—or swap your current OSI or eDNA license at no cost.
Wow. This sounded a bit like a late-night cable TV ad. “But wait, if you act now you can get two for this amazing low price of $19.99.”
Sorry to poke a little fun at GE Digital. The question is, does this ad reflect a real marketplace concern? Or, is it a weak marketing gimmick? I don’t know. But I have been curious. What do you think?
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