Archive for February, 2011

Blackout Dates Suck

Monday, February 21st, 2011

I just booked a roundtrip flight through Southwest from SLC to BWI and was expecting to be able to use my recent “award,” aka free ticket.

This is an overly-whiny post, and I debated on even not writing it, but I decided to write it to remind me to NOT COUNT ON awards to save some money.

What I thought would have been NO COST turned out to be $600.  Ugh.

The first frustration was when I was trying to book – on the checkout page there is no place to apply any awards, even if you are logged in.  Extremely frustrating, as I would expect one of the payment options to be “use award.”

The second frustration was when I called the SWA 800 number to get someone to help me.  Usually I wait for all of 60 seconds, but this time I had to wait “20 – 40 minutes.” I got cut off twice during the automated “dial this for that or that for this” message… extremely frustrating, and not what I typically expect from southwest.

Finally I opted to just have them call me, which took about 40 minutes.  The person on the other end walked me through the process of using an award (you have to find flights a completely different way… not the normal way, so I basically had to start over).

She offered to do it for me, and I took her up on the offer… until she had to break the news to me that I wanted to fly in and out on blackout dates… which meant I really can’t use my tickets for this trip. I need to be in Baltimore/Boston on the dates below… if I used my tickets I’d be gone almost 2 full weeks (I could fly out on the 9th and fly home on the 22nd), which means time away from family (not going to do that), and hotel expenses.

Free just became a $600 spend.  Thanks a lot southwest.  I really hate blackout dates.  And now I feel my award is useless.

Sure, I’ll use it, but I was hoping to save the money from this trip.  Ugh.

Lesson?  Don’t count on using your awards/mileage when you want it.

Pill vs. Vitamin

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

A few months ago I was talking with someone about business and marketing and they introduced a concept new to me, but I got the impression that everyone else had already heard of it.

When you are selling/marketing something to someone, do they percieve it as a PILL or a VITAMIN?

The purpose of a PILL is to alleviate a pain (for example, a very bad headache).  The effects should be somewhat immediate. The value of the PILL, at the moment of pain, is really, really high.  I have a PROBLEM and a PILL is an immediate SOLUTION.  You know the perceived value can skyrocket, especially as the problem, or pain, is higher and immediate.

A VITAMIN, on the other hand, is more of a preventative measure.  You don’t take a VITAMIN to get results within 30 minutes…. VITAMINS are a subtle solution to a long-term, non-immediate problem.  The pain is not there, and you might wonder if it will ever come.  It’s easy to feel like it’s a non-essential solution to a problem you might not (or, likely won’t) have.

When I heard this I was perplexed, and I asked, are my offerings (products+services) perceived as PILLs (high value, immediate need) or VITAMINS (nominal value, not sure if really needed)???

Figuring this out, and perhaps even repackaging and repositioning, can help you sell more, make more, and become more valuable.

Or, you can keep trying to sell a solution for a non-problem.

OF COURSE, if you look at Covey’s four quadrants, you know you should spend time in the Important/NotUrgent box… which seems to me to be the VITAMIN mindset… but how many of us (or, our customers) are in the Urgent/____ box?  That’s where the PILL comes in.

How are you positioning YOUR offering?

CRM in the news

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Many of you know JibberJobber is a relationship management tool, designed off of traditional CRM, but stripped down to focus on RELATIONSHIPS instead of sales processes and jargon.

In the last almost-5-years I haven’t seen much news on the CRM front as far as aquisitions or anything.  Salesforce is the 8 billion pound guerrilla in the space, but I continue to hear they are way to complex and way too expensive (I’m sure they have their sweet spot in big companies, doing huge, huge deals).

Today I just read about two deals, though, which are pretty exciting.

The first is for GIST. I was actually on the phone with a GIST person a few months ago… I had tried to get in touch with them through their Contact Us methods but none of that worked. The phone call was okay.  The announcement of their acquisition by RIM (the company that puts out the Blackberry device) just came out yesterday.  No disclosure of how much the acquisition was for but according to TechCrunch they have taken in over $10M of funding… it’s said investors want a 10x return, which means they would have had to sold for $100M, but I’m guessing this deal was between $30M – $60M.  I have NOTHING to base that on, just a guess :)  No news on TechCrunch on this yet :)

The second is for Bantam, acquired by Constant Contact for $15M in cash. This is on TechCrunch here.  This is very interesting to me because it is a low purchase point, imo (even though, if they really did raise less than 2M, investors got about a 10x return (less what other owners got)), and because it was by Constant Contact.  My thoughts about CC doing this?  IT IS ABOUT TIME!  CRM is a great add-on for them.  iContact should follow suit and acquire their own CRM package, because this is so, so, so critical to their clientele.

As for me, I’m still plugging along, doing cool stuff with my CRM :)