Friday, September 30, 2011

Get your audience involved

If you want more followers.... get your audience involved.
If you want more customers... get your audience involved.
If you want more results......... get your audience involved.

I could go on, but I won't. You get the point. Contests, interesting content, discussion... GET YOUR AUDIENCE INVOLVED.

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying has done a good job of this. The Broadway show held a contest for its fans. See the winner in the video below:

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Amazon announces new color touch Kindle Fire

Amazon is releasing a series of new Kindles, including the color touch Kindle Fire, which is a cross between a Nook and an iPad. It includes the size and convenience of the Nook Color, but also the video and music capabilities of the iPad. It will certainly drive a lot of traffic to Amazon's non-book products such as its film streaming Prime service. And it has this Nook user wishing she could trade in her Nook Color for the Kindle Fire (not that I'm not grateful and satisfied with what I have). Plus it's cheaper ($199). And so are the other three new Kindles (as cheap as $79). Watch the video below for details.

What do you think? Is there a market for the Kindle Fire? Will it make things difficult for Nook Color? Will you be switching to Kindle now?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Where to draw the line with benefits: Audience is number one

We all know that fundraisers are important parts of keeping businesses alive, but what about benefits for outside causes?

A few months ago, Whoopi Goldberg gave away all the money from one performance of Sister Act the Musical to President Obama's reelection campaign. For me, this felt a bit off the right track. If I were a patron, I wouldn't want to give my money to a political cause. I'd be going to the show for pure entertainment. But then again, it is Goldberg's money to be giving away. But considering where that money came from, she had better be sure all her patrons that night and her cast actually support Obama. And if you bring politics into a show, that may affect what patrons are willing to give you their business in the future.

Next month, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying is doing a similar benefit for the non-profit Trevor Project, which "saves the lives' of LGBT youth considering suicide. It's a little less political of a cause, it has a good front of saving lives, and How to Succeed star Daniel Radcliffe has been supporting the project for some time, but it's still controversial.

Then there's Broadway Cares - Equity Fights AIDS. A yearly time during which stars collect donations from patrons after each show to go toward fighting AIDS.

These are all causes that could have a negative or positive spin depending on your political and moral beliefs. Is there a line you cross that could affect your business more negatively than positively? Obviously, you can't please everyone. A newspaper will choose to front one political candidate, but not all of the newspaper staff will support that candidate.

From a business perspective, the number one thing you can do is consider who your audience is and how they will respond to the cause you are collecting money for. If you're doing a benefit for personal reasons, then I suppose you have to stand up for what you have to stand up for, but if you're going to consider how it will affect your business, look for the benefits and causes that will give you a positive spin with your audiences.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Instant is Golden

Despite Netflix's recent mistakes, Instant is still in style. Many Netflix customers are now switching to Amazon Prime or Hulu Plus. And now the Metropolitan Opera is offering instant operas and concerts, streamed over the internet for one of several price options.

The basic truth is - people like things to be delivered instantly. It's all about convenience, today. Even if you're not a streaming service, you can think about ways to make your information, to make what you have to offer more accessible and instant.

The Met is also capitalizing on being the first to offer a unique kind of streaming - streaming of operas. So, think about how what you can be first in.

How have you made your organization more accessible?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sometimes the "Star" is the Key

Choosing the right person to represent your product is everything. Honda recently switched from a cartoon man to using the humor an charm of Patrick Warburton. Right choice? I don't know. But it made me laugh.

In the Broadway world, a star often carries a show. Take "How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying." They've gone from Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe to Glee star Darren Criss to the coming pop star Nick Jonas. All these stars keeps the not-so-amazing show going.

Who are you getting to speak for your organization or business? Is it better to have a famous spokesperson? Or to have your employees and customers be your spokespeople?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Netflix redeems itself... sort of

Back in July I wrote about Netflix's decision to split the prices and charge separately for instant viewing and delivery by mail. I felt satisfied, as I am sure many other Netflix customers did, when I recently saw an article on the extreme drop in Netflix customers after its announcement on the price changes, which went into effect this month.

Now, Netflix co-founder, Read Hastings, has sent out an apology letter to all members and opened a forum for discussion on a similar blog post. Watch the video announcement at the end of this post. Here's an excerpt:
It is clear from the feedback over the past two months that many members felt we lacked respect and humility in the way we announced the separation of DVD and streaming and the price changes. That was certainly not our intent, and I offer my sincere apology. Let me explain what we are doing.
Turns out, Netflix is renaming its direct mail service Quixster and keeping the name Netflix for streaming.
We realized that streaming and DVD by mail are really becoming two different businesses, with very different cost structures, that need to be marketed differently, and we need to let each grow and operate independently.
Personally, I don't like the new Quickster logo, but I understand their reasoning, branding-wise. They would have been smart to hold off changing prices until the announcement about the new brand, though. It might have saved them a lot of complaints.

The problem remains, however, that people like things simple. Netflix was the original "have movies sent to your home" service, and it was one of the first to offer streaming of movies online. I think a lot of people liked Netflix because it combined the two and made it simple. If Netflix wanted its new branding to work, it would have kept the Netflix name for both streaming and direct mail, but started a new streaming/instant brand and worked that up separately without the Netflix association. Then they could have slowly weaned out the instant on Netflix and referred people to the new brand.

So, while this new announcement and apology has redeemed Netflix in some ways, it has made things worse for them in other ways.

What do you think? Where did Netflix go wrong? Did they have the right idea for all these changes?
Please retweet and share.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hollywood Bowl Part 2: How Open Should We Be With Social Media vs. Copyright

My recent troubles with the Hollywood Bowl (which I wrote about yesterday) have led me to wonder how relevant and important copyright rules are these days. They're greatly needed in a lot of ways, but when it comes to allowing photos and video at, say, the Hollywood Bowl, or allowing people to tweet and Facebook from their phones at a performance (like Broadway/L.A. recently did for a performance of Shrek the musical), should we allow it or should we say no no? Or maybe we could just beat them to it?

The way things are so open today, it's probably a good idea to have some leniency. And if you beat the customer to it by providing your own media (i.e. videos, photos, etc), maybe people won't be as inclined to break the rules. So point number 3 from yesterday's post is Get Involved and Be Modern!

There's a similar controversy over whether fans should be able to write fan fiction because fan fiction infringes on copyright.

Thoughts? What is your opinion on the great copyright versus social media "war"?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Lessons from Hollywood Bowl Part 1

On a recent visit to Southern California I decided to go with a friend to the Hollywood Bowl. I was excited because I had never been to the SoCal landmark. I was just as excited to take pictures of the place. One problem: No professional cameras allowed. I don't know why I thought it'd be any different than an indoor concert at... say... the Walt Disney Concert Hall where photography of any kind is not allowed. Maybe I thought it would be OK because it was outdoor.

Turns out, I had to check my camera in with Security. This worried me because I was not sure if I would have enough time after the concert to pick up my camera and get to the park-and-ride bus before it left. I was also irritated because there were plenty of point and shoot and iPhone cameras allowed in that could take just as good of pictures as my SLR depending on how close you are to the stage.

A few take-aways:

  1. Make your policies as clear as possible - don't save them for the fine print, and organize them clearly on your website. On this point, the Hollywood Bowl fails.
  2. Follow the example of Hollywood Bowl: If you have customers complaining, handle them calmly, refer them to a customer service line, and offer a secure place for them to take their things.
  3. Read tomorrow's post for point number 3 on social media and multimedia.
What customer service issues have you had and how have you dealt with them?