Sunday, March 30, 2008

Allowed - Not Allowed

Women only gyms
Flying with 25kg of excess fat around your body

Not Allowed
Men only golf courses
Checking in bags with a few extra kgs in it

Friday, March 28, 2008

Collage of Steve does the Job

I must once again expose my nerdy side by proclaiming my admiration of this collage of Steve "Mr. Apple" Jobs, who is one of my business related "heroes". The collage is surprisingly life like considering it is constructed entirely of Apple products/logos. I like it, I like it alot. Click it to enlarge, go on... I dare ya

Originally published in Fortune Magazine, brought to my attention by way of


When I was working at the recent Work Matters conference I saw on one of the slideshows being presented the tagline for Lulea University in Sweden, get ready for it folks...

"Lulea University: The northernmost University of Technology in Scandinavia"

I just like the way that rather than refer to the college as being high achieving or forward thinking, they promote the extent of its northerliness... True outside the box thinking

Sunday, March 23, 2008 - Amazingly funny

This wonderful site is a brilliant collection of cover letters, rejection letters and other job related materials that resulted in not getting the job. Below is a perfect example of the gold to be found on the site. click for bigger imageH/T to Evilhr lady & Execupundit

Friday, March 21, 2008

Starbucks Fined $100m

...For the most ridiculous corporate lawsuit I have ever seen. It seems that because shift supervisors, who are glorified regular staff (and not exactly as well paid as execs), were taking an equal share of the tip pool at the end of the day, Starbucks are guilty of a crime under US law.
Just silly stuff really.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Academically disrespectful

I have been spending the last few days "working" at the Work Matters Conference in the UCD business school, which has essentially entailed me sitting in on quite a few interesting talks about research done about various work areas ranging from the aspirations of migrant workers to the uncovering of rebel activity in a luxury hotel.

Although I have found these talks very enjoyable, I have been a slight bit disappointed to observe the degree of what I would class as disrespect (although more subtle than the term might suggest) between the Academics attending the conference.

There are 3 main things I have noticed that I found slightly amiss:

  1. Punctuality - People continually strolling into talks ten minutes late as if there were nothing wrong with it at all. It is obvious to see that this does have an impact on the presenter and acts as a distraction for the next minute or so as they try and get all their bits and pieces in order. I find this quite surprising as they are all lecturers themselves and I'm sure wouldn't be to tolerant of such a casual attitude towards punctuality from their students.
  2. Q&A Time - I remember when I was in 1st year in college, that at the end of presentations I would always make a point of asking an intentionally tricky questions... just because I was mean. When I saw this happening at the conference, and on a regular basis, I was shocked. Some of these guys ask questions such as "OH.... you didn't think of studying x,y,z etc..." questions that seem to serve no other point but to make the presenter squirm.
  3. The Presentation Itself - I have sat through 15 presentations in the last 2 days, with the exception of literally one, they have been appalling. Poor/no slides, poor/no preparation, poor/no timekeeping and often going over the allotted time... pretty unbelievable I thought. People have travelled from the 4 corners of the world to attend this conference and what do they see when they get here? The crappiest bunch of presentations I have seen in a long time, and content that adds no further value than if they had just read the damn paper at home with a nice cup of coffee in hand! I'm sure that the presenters lack of practice and preparation was as annoyingly obvious to everyone else too, and to be honest it even peeved me off a bit, and I'm just a lowly student.

With all that said though, I have very much enjoyed the content and theories discussed over the past few days, but I just think that a little more respect between attendees would make the whole thing even better.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Merchandising "Proper" books

Just a quick follow up to the piece on book merchandising at Borders.
I was chatting online recently to my friend Ben who studies English in college. It was his opinion that this merchandising would only work on "novelty" books that were gimmicky, and no-one who was looking for a "proper" book (by which I presume he meant art/literature etc) would be swayed by such techniques. I did a little research on this because I had a pretty strong feeling that he was right to a certain extent, BUT that sales of "proper" books was so minimal that not being able to sway those intending to buy these books wouldn't be a huge issue.

Unfortunately the latest figures I could get were book sales in the US from all those years ago in 2000, but I would imagine that trends in booksales do not shift in a dramatic fashion.
In descending order, the most bought categories are...
  1. Cooking - 10% of sales

  2. Religion - 9.3%

  3. General Non-fiction - 7.8%

  4. Business - 6.2%

  5. Scientific - 5.8%

  6. Psychology - 5.2%

  7. Biographies - 3.7%

  8. Art/Literature/Poetry - 3.3%

  9. Reference - 2.2%

  10. Travel - 1.3%

So out of the top 10 categories, I would be of the opinion that attractive merchandising, as in ANY shop that regular customers shop in, would influence peoples likihood to purchase.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Bear Found Guilty

This breaking "news" from Sky "news"

A bear has been found guilty by a court of stealing honey from a beekeeper. Fancy some honey perhaps?The animal was convicted of theft by the court in Bitola, in Macedonia, following a year-long case.

However, he was excused from attending court.
The case came after a beekeeper reported the bear for stealing his honey. He told the court he had to protect his hives by playing thumping folk music. Beekeeper Zoran Kiseloski told the court: "I tried to distract the bear with lights and music because I heard bears are afraid of that."

He said he bought a generator, lit up the area and played songs by the Serbian turbo-folk star Ceca. The court heard the bear stayed away for a few weeks but returned when the generator ran out of power and the music stopped.
Mr Kiseloski added: "It attacked the beehives again."

The court found the bear guilty but since it had no owner and is a protected species it ordered the state to pay for the 140,000 denars (£1,700) damage it caused to the hives
There is no information on the bear's whereabouts.

This is very possibly the most rediculous outcome of a lawsuit I have ever heard of, I wish this was a joke, I really do.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Google Madness 2

I do love to look through my sitemeter account every so often and look at the traffic that Google sends me from searches. I especially like when they seem to give me an absurdly high ranking on very popular searches. My favorites from the last week are:

Ford Pinto - 8th of 142,000
For what I wrote about the "barbeque that seats four"

Aer Lingus Marketing - 10th of 461,000
For my views on the lack of strategic vision at the company

Lunch is for wimps - 5th of 370,000
For what I said about Gordon Gecko-esque attitudes towards the lunch break

And last but not least...

Good vs Bad - 12th of 14,300,000 !!!!
For what I had to say about good lecturers vs bad ones

Selling a book by its cover

I read about this on Brandautopsy just now and thought it was a great example of making a very simple change how you market your goods that ends up resulting in unusually high gains.

As you have probably noticed, most book stores tend to stock most of their books in a "spine out" manner, with only the best sellers and heavily promoted titles being shown front on. This is of course perfectly logical and allows them to fit in more of the lesser known/demanded titles, while displaying the big sellers in the best possible way.

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article about the worldwide bookstore chain "Borders" who have recently launched a new merchandising initiative that has seen more of the books be exposed "front out", with a reduction in the overall number of titles available on the shelves by between 5-10%. Although reduction of titles may appear bad it is not all that illogical considering some books will only be purchased once or twice a year.

Over the trial period of this new merchandising strategy sales rose by 9%, and as a result Borders are planning continuing this strategy in order to further increase sales levels. Borders undertook marketing research in the trial stores, and interestingly enough consumers believed that there were in fact MORE books in the store under the new configuration... Looks like they are onto a winner!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Learning from Gates

As much as I dislike Microsoft, I do like the quote

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Case Study v2.0 the Vancouver/Seattle Connection

So this April will see my return across the (large) pond to the US for another case study competition, this time in Seattle. I have the feeling that its going to be pretty damn good, and the fact that the competition is sponsored in part by everyones favorite Seattle-based coffee chain, Starbucks, is a good start.

On April 4th we will be arriving in Vancouver for a spot of pre-competition relaxation. Most of my friends (damn you all and your FUN time) went there last summer while I toiled away at work, and I have heard nothing but good reviews. Judging by the pic on the left its a pretty nice place!

Then on the 7th we will be heading down the the Michael Foster school of business to take care of business (competition). On my list of things to see in Seattle, all I can think of is the "Space needle" see pic, and of course Starbucks numero uno in Pike Place market.
If you have ever been to either city please do let me know where are the best places to go!

I am a big fan of Google Earth, and one of the things that amazes me most about the trip will be the distance I will be covering. I mapped out the route I will be taking there and back, and according to the good folks at Google it will be just a slight shade under 11,000 miles... thats some distance... Take that O-Zone layer

FEMA and the chart of DISASTER

I really really reaaaaallllly hate when people make completely crappy charts and use them in presentations or even worse on TV or websites. The Federal Emergency Response Agency (FEMA), one would imagine, would be immune to such crapulence, it seems they aren't.

I missed the boat on this one because it was discussed way back in 2005, and I only stumbled across it last night on the presentation zen blog archives, but the FEMA chart above is one of the funnier charts I have ever seen. The informative graphic was featured in their "what we do" section, and it seems that the stages include: response, recovery, mitigation, risk reduction, prevention, preparedness and then.... BACK to disaster, 'cus that's just what the good folks at FEMA do for the people, CREATE DISASTERS.

It is excusable when an 18 year old student comes up with something like this, but such an example of design crapulence from a US government agency is unbelievable!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Guy Kawasaki on Venture Capitalism

This was Guy's response when a member of the audience asked how it was that VC's could make such brilliant investment choices. He also mentioned that out of every 20 investments they only ever really expect one to go big, if ever quizzed about the other 19 investments... "they were made by my... partners...

Friday, March 7, 2008

Emotional Attachment

We recently undertook an assignment that asked us to identify our most liked and disliked brands, and I found it very interesting to see the reasons why people chose the brand they did. Some people liked the brand for functional reasons such as high performance, whereas others felt a real emotional connection to the brand and it’s products.

One of the girls in the class discussed her favourite perfume and described how the fragrance and the brand gave her “the confidence I need”. Another student said that Apple computer was their favourite brand both for emotional reasons such as fashionable, unique design, and also functional reasons such as ease of use. In terms of brands that were disliked, some were targeted for reasons such as unhealthy products, however again emotional reasons constituted the bulk of the rationale behind the choices made. One group highlighted Ryanair as the brand they disliked, citing it’s “in your face image” and general brashness to be factors that they did not like.

One of the more interesting examples was the naming of Google as being a favourite brand, which most of the class agreed with. It seemed that most of the class also exhibited a rather strong emotional connection to the brand, claiming they “trust” Google, and would not consider swapping to another search engine. This reminded me of a video of a talk I watched on the internet recently, where renowned marketing author Seth Godin talked about an experience he had in New York. He was walking through a market in New York wearing a Google t-shirt he had been given and a woman approached him, “do you work for Google!” she asked, “Google is my friend”. It is interesting to note that through its reliability and trustworthiness, Google, whose search engine is in reality just a mathematical algorithm, can evoke high emotional responses.

Creation of an emotional link with the customer is one of the most important things that a brand must seek to do, as it gives the company one of the strongest competitive advantages possible, a strong emotional tie with a customer can deem your product to be "irreplaceable". I think that the academic, Cowley, explains it better than I ever could in saying that...

“a brand with price advantage can be simply undercut, a brand with performance advantage can be outflanked by technological development, but a brand with an emotional difference can potentially command a premium forever”

Monday, March 3, 2008