Category Archives: Strategy

Customer Service in the downturn

During an economic downturn, just about everybody is in the same boat. Every day you can’t escape media of all types reporting the impending doom resulting from the economic crisis.

So when you hear of some great customer  service in these times, it’s like a beacon from a lighthouse.

A friend of mine is a victim of this downturn, and was contracted to pay large fees at a Toronto gym. Hat in hand, my friend went to the gym asking for any kind of leeway in paying the fees. The gym actually bent over backwards to help. They not only instantly waived the monthly fees, they also waived the expensive personal trainer fees without any penalty at all. They even encouraged my friend to keep using the gym, at quiet times of the day, to get the most out of the gym and to keep you motivated as you search for a new job.

And if 3 months go by and you haven’t got another job? No problems. Just let us know and we’ll hold the payments for another 3 months.

This takes no effort on the gym’s behalf. And absolutely made my friend’s day / week / month!

What kind of response would your business offer to a customer in good standing that might be struggling?

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Filed under Strategy

Google exits newspaper industry

As fast as they were in it. They’re gone. As mentioned by Zac at Blogging Stocks, you do have to wonder how much money Google burnt through trying out print advertising. 

Google exits newspaper industry – BloggingStocks.

Personally, I would have like to see Google pursue the print ad arena. Afterall, newspapers are only going to need more ads and will be willing to sell them at cheaper prices. Why depart the scene already? Why not stick with it, promote it a little more, and see where it takes you?

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QR codes make it to Google Adwords

Google are dipping their toes into the print ad arena, with the aptly named Google Print Ads. On the surface, this seems like a complete sideways shift for the search giant. Though as with all Google strategic moves, this one is no human error

For Google, this is an excellent time to branch sideways, and capitalise on not just a struggling newspaper, but a struggling industry. Google has already signed over 800 US newspapers. And counting. (caveat: newspapers must be paid circulation, though with the recent launch and expected boom of The Printed Blog, rules could be bent.)

It works the same as Google Adwords, in that users can create a line ad or a small display ad for a particular paper, or a particular audience. Google handles the media buy, placement, trafficking, and invoicing. This technology was already built and honed for years on the Adwords platform. Thus, the total cost of ownership is instantly shared among business units, reducing the ROI goal for the search giant. 



QR code




As an added bonus, advertisers are given the opportunity to try their hand at a 2d barcode, or a QR code to most punters. Why is it that the cheapest form of advertising, line ads and classifieds, are the ones about to embrace this latest technology? It’s taken someone like Google to endorse the technology, and to make it cool. Of course, this serves a huge blow to Microsoft’s Tags and High Capacity Colour Barcodes research. (Is playing catchup their mantra?)

I have yet to find a North American, European or Australian brand willing to dive into QR codes. Have you found any examples?

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Filed under New marketing, Strategy

First moves

The city of Toronto is currently putting plans together that should see a significant reduction in the number of paper coffee cups ending up in the City’s landfill sites. Canadians drink, on average, 10 times more coffee than most other developed nations. This is largely due to the Tim Horton’s franchise. Incidentally Canadian’s also eat 3 times more donuts per capita than US citizens. Again, all thanks to Timmy Ho’s. 


The way I see it, coffee houses like Tim Horton’s, Starbuck’s, Second Cup and Timothy’s are in a standoff. The smart company will win the PR competition here, and no doubt win a few new customers on the way too.

There are probably a few options to meet the new regulations:

  1. Give a discount to consumers with their own re-usable cup
  2. Increase prices for those wanting a take-away cup
  3. Find a greener packaging alternative

Even if the City imposes a discount for refillable cups, complying will be seen as just that. 

The Forward Thinking Coffee House (FTCH) should provide a discount, a greater discount than the City stipulates. This pushes the other coffee houses into a corner. If they meet the City’s discount limit then they haven’t matched the FTCH.  If the match the discount then they’re an Also-Ran. This still leaves the greener packaging. Which will take time. And money. 

To all the FTCH’s out there: Give the discount. And buy yourself some time to make greener packaging. By moving first you break ahead of the pack, you get some good PR. And you get to sleep better at night knowing your Coffee House is ahead of the CSR curve.

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Filed under Coffee, Franchise, Strategy