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From Uber to Turntables, A Few of My Favorite Things

BAP's favorite thingsWith the start of a new year, I often reflect on the previous 12 months and those items that really made a difference in my day-to-day life – recognizing that with the amount of travel I do, there’s no constant to the idea of “day-to-day.” So in the spirit of sharing and inspiring everyone to explore how these items can be useful or why they make a difference in everyday life, I have listed my favorite products and services.

In no particular order, here’s the list:

1. Uber: This probably would hit the list of many frequent travellers and I use it in many of the cities I visit. It’s like the McDonald’s of car service. You know what to expect, it’s reliable and dependable and the technology is so simple and frankly reassuring for those of us who are data-driven, Type A personalities who constantly wonder when our vehicle will arrive. It’s such an elegant concept – I ask myself, how could we look at existing technologies and use them to foundationally change the way an industry operates? Are there things we are not seeing as game changers in the customer engagement/loyalty space?

2. NextIssue: The ultimate guilt management system if you love magazines but worry that keeping up with traditional subscriptions means contributing to deforestation. It also doesn’t hurt if you travel a lot, love to read a variety of magazines and want to only use carry-on. I love this application. Not only can I read my core magazines, but I can also expand my repertoire without guilt to include some of the fringe magazines I usually only buy on holidays. For marketers, NextIssue presents the opportunity to change the form of service in a way that creates advantages for all parties. Can we extend the amount of goods or services we sell to our customers by reducing or eliminating traditional barriers to purchase? Is there a way to work with partners that changes the rules of the game in a way that creates a new paradigm that works for everyone involved?

3. Coravin: Yes, this is a real, physical product and it has no digital components! But what a winner. It allows you to have a glass of wine from a bottle without needing to open the bottle. By inserting a needle through the cork, and injecting neutral argon gas, it pressurizes the wine bottle so you can pour that glass or sample and leave the rest of the bottle for later consumption – even years later! Self-confession – I love wine and have a relatively large cellar. Now I can have a number of bottles “on the go” at the same time and drink the wine that really matches up well with what I am eating or my mood. The gas cartridges need to come down a bit in price but the system is brilliant. Another example of helping customers change the way they consume in a category.

4. Instagram: When you have kids, you are in a constant state of change when it comes to the social media platform that will keep you up on what is going on. Mine have moved from Facebook to Snapchat to Instagram, and am I happy for the final shift. I love the fact that Instagram is photography based. It highlights the creative side of individuals, while the social norm of only posting once a day creates a more thoughtful approach to what one does on the site. I feel better connected with my family and friends and at the same time more reflective about each and every day. And it creates an interesting timeline when you look back on the photos you have posted. As a marketer, Instagram makes me think about how I can create an emotional connection through the way I interact with customers. Not everyone will be in a position to do this, but enabling that moment of contemplation creates the opportunity for a deeper connection with the customer.

5. Fitbit: The wearable-device industry is exploding and I have tried many fitness related bands. They are all pretty good at doing the basics and they all have their own drawbacks, but they are also all improving with further adoption. I have used the Fitbit band for the last year and it’s brought a new awareness to how active I am. You recognize how sedentary you are on those long travel days and how easy it is to walk 10,000 steps if you simply put your mind to being active in some way, each day. For me, the lesson here is about whether metrics can play a role in how we  engage our customers. Are there measures in your relationships with customers that if shared, could elicit a change in behavior?

6. Rain Alarm or My Radar: Call me a pessimist but I have both of these apps on my phone. As an avid golfer and outdoor enthusiast, I am always looking for that extra level of insight into weather patterns. The only way to get this in the past was by digging through our national weather service website, but now this data is both accessible and easy to use. The ability to predict how the weather will develop means I am that much more confident about my plans for the day (and I can decide whether to take my rain suit on the golf course). It also raises the question of how an organization’s information and its predictive qualities could establish greater confidence in the business. We know a lot more about consumer dynamics today than we did 10 years ago but is everyone taking advantage of the customer data that is available in their business to change the way they look at their everyday actions?

7. GoPro: Again, tapping into my creative gene, I finally broke down and purchased one of these cameras this year. I have always been a photography fan but video has eluded me as a medium of choice. My GoPro may change that. It’s easy to use in active situations and works magic right out of the box. I was able to put together a couple of video segments that really gave an impression of recent holiday experiences. My conclusion is simple … finding a niche opportunity where your product can fulfill the specific needs of a target segment is a great way to build a valuable brand proposition. Do we really understand our target segment(s) or are we trying to be all things to all people? Maybe some focus can create real market differentiation?

8. Ski Tracks (available for Apple and Android): If you like to ski, then this is a simple and fun app to use – especially if you are skiing as a group. I have always been a fan of the EpicMix App that is provided by the folks at Vail Resorts but this is a generic app that can be used at any location. It tracks your vertical, the total distance you ski and probably most important (dangerous) of all, your top speed. It has a number of other fun features but for those of us who love data and like to strive for goals, this is a great way to enhance the ski experience. It uses GPS data to create all this good information and, like Uber, capitalizes on the functionality of your phone. I have always said that spatial relevance is a key to creating customer engagement. The folks at Ski Tracks and Vail have the right idea – but are we all considering how GPS and mobile technology can enhance the way our customers experience our services?

9. Nespresso VertuoLine: Created for North American consumers, this is the big brother to the capsule coffee system Nespresso originally launched. Indeed, for me, the system is more reliable and provides a more North American coffee experience (read that as larger mugs of coffee). Further, it’s just cool to think that my coffee is spinning around at 7,000 rpms, blending coffee grounds and water to create the perfect crema for my coffee. Simply put, the team at Nespresso must have recognized that there were geographic differences in how pod systems needed to work and they brought out a new product to recognize that need. Are there geographic or cultural differences that could provide opportunities to enhance relevance in your business?

10. Pro-Ject Turntable: Not only does it have a carbon fiber arm but it comes in lots of funky colors. Not your father’s turntable for sure but after years of looking at my vinyl gathering dust, it’s great to be listening to my albums again. While my kids were a bit shocked at needing to actually flip a record, everyone has gotten into the spirit of things and now that vinyl is hot again, my kids are actually purchasing some of their own music in that format as well. It’s an interesting concept that something old can be made “hot” again and it makes me wonder what wonderful marketing techniques that have been mothballed can be resurrected to great effect?

That’s it. I could go on but decided to stop at the magic 10. Perhaps these will inspire you to reflect on your own activities of last year and share with us your own spotted opportunities for reinvigorating your businesses.

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