What’s a Book, Anyway?

Phones, TVs, now books …the form and capacities of all are forever changed, in our digital age. Usage habits, functions, and portability are re-writing the rules on how to convey channel management information for Hanson Marketing’s clients who are channel leaders in consumer and trade sectors.

Now comes a Wall Street Journal survey that reveals an increase in reading and in the purchase of new books. 40% of the 1200 respondents say that they read more books since owning an e-reader (Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader, iPad).

E-Screen Interface Changes Work and Play Habits


The norms of digital interface and its effect on work and leisure patterns are established in the consumer world, but as always there are implications for business-to-business channel management. At Hanson Marketing, we advise current and prospective clients that securing and maintaining face time with their channel partners is priority one, whether they be consumer retailers or trade wholesalers. Using personal e-screens is a natural next step.

For instance: as head of channels in the b-2-b space, you can push daily dashboard readouts on sales performance to your partners’ e-screens, for real-time assessment and on-the-go corrective action. The value you provide your partners trumps your competitors — as you shape your partners’ daily management styles, you take on the role as preferred provider.

Reading the WSJ survey results, I noted that about half of all Americans ages 18 to 24 read no books for pleasure. I had one of those “we’re not like the others” moments. Reading for pleasure in my family is a reflex action, like channel surfing or texting. We’ve seamlessly cut over to e-reading and e-viewing, too, with a collection of Kindles and iPads strewn about.

Read more: A Look at the Reading Habits of E-Reader Owners

Accelerate ROI with Channel Strategies

No matter the size or age of your company, nor the stage of your product’s life cycle, a focused, right-funded channel strategy accelerates revenue growth through preferred partners. Do nothing, and your product and company are pushed to the side.

The prospect of up-front funding for channel building costs can be daunting when there are no clear ROI figures. A successful channel leader is one who puts a 90-Day Action Plan to work right away, with realistic, conservative budget amounts and time lines attached to each line item. It’s focused on partner-building (recruitment, education, negotiation, co-selling) and integrated marketing (creation of sales tools, live sales events, branding campaign) programs. As long as there are tight controls on schedules and cash outlay, the results will pay out.

For instance: to find a network of qualified resellers within the European Union, Hanson Marketing set up sponsorship and attendance at a major industry trade show for its client. The cash outlay related to this event sponsorship was between $30-40k, disbursed over the course of three months. Within six months, the company was collecting new revenue from resellers that we signed up, or re-engaged through face time during and after the show, that far exceeded the initial payout.

Stay focused on the fact that channel partnerships bring in the majority of revenue for companies of all sizes, in all sectors. A company like Cisco Systems, as giant as they are, realizes nearly 80% of their annual revenues from partner sales.

What’s a TV, Anyway?

TV viewers now dictate when and what to watch, and where. There’s a sublime feeling of freedom when you select from a list of pre-recorded favorites, when you want.

Comcast just surveyed 1,000 watchers, and learned that 62% now Time-Shift programming to suit themselves.

If I sold advertising for a living, rather than let my head explode at the thought of “Fast Forward” fever, I’d take a closer look at how to capitalize on DVR technology to place ads with more laser precision than ever.

Scheduling and placement of ads can still be dictated by when the show is actually accessed and viewed, not on its first on-air date. Late night viewing on the family room big screen by tired parents, post-beddy bye time? Or pre-work viewing on mobile devices by 20-something commuters?

If you were an advertiser, wouldn’t you want to cozy up next to the viewer and whisper just the right thing, at the right time?

Read more at the Boston Globe.

Lithium: A Power Play for Bolivia

At last, the nation of Bolivia is poised for its turn at economic influence, as it explores how to capitalize on its share of the Andean region’s rich deposits of Lithium.

I’m cheering for the nation’s efforts to play the long game: rather than mine and export raw forms, Bolivia must parlay their underground fortune as the basis on which to manufacture and export finished goods: rechargeable lithium-iron batteries, both large and small. And, to sustain majority interests all the while. We see forward momentum with South Korea and several other electronics-manufacturing nations, though Bolivia has yet to export a single ounce of the goods. And, surprisingly, lithium is not yet traded on any commodity exchange.

Salt on Your Lithium Cocktail? Double Happiness for Bolivia's GDP

The nation’s reserves rest beneath Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat. So, there you see a double-decker mineral bank for the nation. Having built sales and marketing strategies for Hawaii-based salt farmers, I know there are broad applications in heavy industry, transportation, and consumables for good old salt.

Prosperity for the nation, fair and equatable ownership, improved transportation infrastructure, and raised status as a global trading partner are all at stake for Bolivia, and I hope its leaders take the long view on how to proceed.

Read more at The Weekly Standard.

What’s a Phone, Anyway?

POTS (plain old telephone service) and our dearly beloved landline telephones are being eclipsed by smart phones worldwide, fast. So are cell phones, for that matter.

And, by the end of 2011, The Nielsen Company predicts smartphones will also overtake feature phones (that is, plain old cell phones) in the U.S. market. Google’s Android OS has shown the most significant expansion in market share among current subscribers. Android’s rise is even more noticeable among new smartphone subscribers in the last six months where Android has nosed past Apple’s iOS in the last quarter to grab a 27% share of those recent smartphone subscribers.

Expect to see more households setting up only wireless/broadband/cable packages, while the landline outlets will be painted over in homes around the world.

Working from a home office, I observe landline phone usage habits among by family of four. 90% of inbound calls are of the automated telemarketing sort. Our handy in-line gizmo, Telezapper answers the call, sends a signal to remove and delete my number from the caller’s list, and hangs up before the caller even hears my voice. The remaining 10% of calls are from family members — parents — who are used to dialing our home number. Rarely do my two children make or take calls.

Location-based, GPS functions on smart phones will make advertising and promotional contacts more focused and local than ever, which is sort of valuable to phone users. And, for business and call center applications, the smartphone technology will enable myriad services that lower cost, increase worker mobility and make transactions more efficient.

Read more at nielsenwire, The Nielsen Company’s excellent blog site.

DIY Renewable Energy: At Home & On the Go

“Renewable energy is geared toward community development.” Architect Porfirio Sanchez runs a program in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico that combines abundant wind and sunshine to create a substitute for network electricity for rural families who are, and will remain, off the grid. His center for sustainable development gives away kits of windmills, solar panels and dynamos, allowing them to build and maintain their own electrical plant.

Until the state and federal governments develop the means and system for connecting the entire nation to the power grid, such DIY power plants as those developed by Sanchez’ program not only save families money on candles and batteries, it allows productivity and comfort. “Now, we can see at night”, says one resident, “and my kids can do homework.” View an excellent video, courtesy of globalpost.com; and click through to learn more about the program that’s sponsored in part by Shell Oil.

Solio™, part of the ECOMobility™ product movement

Mobile entrepreneurs and outdoor enthusiasts alike can harness the sun to power their phone and computing devices, as well. Just as a DIY power plant brings productivity and comfort to home and property, devices such as the Solio allow people to stay connected and in business, wherever they go.

Solio’s website informs and inspires with case studies of how an affordable source of power “empowers” entrepreneurs and enthusiasts alike to take their power wherever they go.

Learn more about DIY alternative energy at Build-It-Solar.

Commerce’s EDA Grants & Awards Boost Global Exports

The Economic Development Administration (EDA), an arm of the US Department of Commerce, is accepting applications for its 2010 Innovation in Economic Development Awards to spotlight projects of national significance that advance innovation, boost competitiveness and create jobs.

Among the four categories, of special interest is one for Innovation in Global Export Promotion, in which the winning entry successfully promotes American goods overseas and manufacturing revitalization, bolstering competitiveness abroad and creating higher-skill, higher-wage jobs.

If you think your organization has a winning solution that brings success in exporting within your circle of influence , then hurry up and apply … deadlines for the Innovation award are due on 27 August. Download the program brochure here. The award goes to any non-profit institution; local, state, or regional government; and college or university. For-profits and individuals are not eligible.

The EDA also supports a national network of 11 Trade Adjustment Assistance Centers. I met with the head of my region’s TAAC office recently, and he told me how non-profit community institutions such as economic development councils can be eligible for grants to help businesses form global competitiveness strategies that will retain and create jobs.

Hanson Marketing, as a registered contractor for the U.S. Federal Government, assists non-profits and businesses with forming successful export activities (i.e., export fundamentals workshops). Contact me (tom@hansonmarketing.net) to learn how EDA grants can strengthen your community and add quality jobs.

With practical, relevant assistance to US businesses, and to the organizations that nurture their growth, the US Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) has the right combination of timing and tools to contribute to our nation’s successful export expansion.

Latin American Baby Boomers Drive Market Growth

Here’s another plug for pursuing business in Latin America: the Nielsen Company recently analyzed the demographics of Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Puerto Rico, and estimates that people age 50+ currently make up 19% of the population. But that number will rise to 26% by 2025 and 38% by 2050.

The aging population, when combined with overall larger households in South America, and growing middle classes in these democratic societies signal healthy growth for US manufacturers and retailers.

A recent Nitty Gritty Marketing blog post noted that the rate of recovery from the global recession in these and other Latin American nations is outpacing that of the European Union.

Brazil’s 7% GDP growth rate expected in 2010-2011 is on a par with China and India. These BRIC nations contain the world’s fastest-growing and largest middle classes.

Read more at nielsenwire, The Nielsen Company’s blog site. Go South!

Affinity Marketing, Texas-Style

If you can co-brand mobile phone service, bank cards, and vacation cruises, why not power? An innovative energy company in Texas has teamed up with the state’s universities to offer co-branded energy – electricity and natural gas.

As reported in Advertising Age, in return for subscribing to the affinity program, those power consumers get to accumulate points for school merchandise, tickets to athletic events and more.

Diehard Longhorns, Aggies and loyal Texans statewide can also contribute to the state’s growing renewable energy economy. The power company who’s behind this novel branding campaign, Champion Energy Services is supposedly providing branded power companies with renewable energy. In this case, it’s Dallas-based Branded Retail Energy who’s driving the affinity deal, and every Texas fan that opens an account contributes to a sustainability initiative for either Texas A&M or UT.

Affinity branding succeeds in a very narrow but loyal channel — be it alumni, members, enthusiasts, or employees of a large organization. (Costco started out as a discount warehouse for students and staff at area colleges in San Diego) Affinity buyers grab the chance to give back or get an inside track on deals while consuming something they’d be buying anyway. They’re concentrated, easy to find, and often have high household disposable incomes. Sound like shooting fish in a barrel to you?

With 14 states across the country having deregulated the power industry, including well-populated states such as New York, New Jersey, Illinois and Ohio, expect this affinity branding concept to catch on quickly, via those states’ university systems.

See also Fast Company.

Economic Recovery in The Americas; Mexico Evolves

Last Thursday, I attended a briefing by Doctor Federico Rubli, Director of External Relations for Banco de Mexico, hosted by San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. Since Banco de Mexico is Mexico’s Central Bank, the equivalent to the US Federal Reserve, it was a privilege for me to hear him speak in such a casual, friendly setting.

Dr. Rubli shared Banco de Mexico and other global economic forecasts indicating that Latin America shows signs of more rapid and thorough market recovery than do the US and the EU. As our nation plots its course to economic recovery through export growth, exporting companies would do well to focus on Latin America.

Highlights
The International Monetary Fund estimates the worldwide constriction of trade of around 9-10% is far worse than the drop in 1974 of 4%. The IMF notes a 2.4% constriction of United States GDP in 2009, while expecting an expansion 3.3%. by close of 2010. As Dr. Rubli noted, that’s remarkable, given the construction crash and housing financing implosion.

Things have been bad all over Latin America, too. Mexico is coming out of its worst recession in about 40 years. But, growth trends for 2010 are set at 4-5% in Mexico — on a par with the US — and as high as 7% in Brazil.

EU
By comparison, the EU’s situation is grave. Unemployment, while at about 10% in the US, ranges from 7 to 20% (Spain) Among EU nations, the so-called PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain) have swamped the European Central Bank’s debt-to-GDP ratios.

Central banks in Germany and France, even while struggling with their own nations’ downturn, are holding the bag on about 50% of PIIGS-based debt exposure … totaling $3 trillion. To say “it’s the EU’s problem” is a mammoth understatement.

The Maastricht Criteria defines acceptable levels of debt as no more than 60% of GDP and of Deficit as no more than 3% of GDP. By comparison, Greece’s current ratio of Debt-to-GDP stands at 140%.

In fact, well under ten nations in the world can quality at this date… and the list certainly does not include the US. Even though our nation’s ratio will likely stand at 100%, at least it’s the third-lowest measure among all G8 member nations (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, United Kingdom and USA) Latin America as a region averages 35%. Another reason to watch it for fast economic recovery and opening markets.

Mexico
As noted, Banco de Mexico projects a 4-5% increase (also verified by independent polls), as initially forecast last December.

During 2010, retail sales are trending upward ~4.5% January-to-June 2010, and total family remittances sent from guest workers in the US are recovering from the US construction sector slump. Despite Mexico’s well-capitalized banking system (with rates above the international norm of 8%), consumer and private industry credit remains scarce, which, as in the US, is a main growth limiter.

Petroleum revenues still comprise a third of the nation’s public sector, therefore Banco de Mexico advocates privatization of key infrastructure sectors, as part of overall growth by external (private) sectors.

Our session was shifted to a very small conference room, due to the last-minute appearance by Governor Schwarzenegger, in town to rally the troops toward California’s economic recovery. Judging from the long faces of the Governor’s audience as they emerged from their larger, more spacious room, I think we heard far better news from Dr. Rubli and the Bank of Mexico! Go figure…

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