Archive for September 2010
Depending on what time of year it is this question can be answered differently. When I wrote this on September 24th, the day’s high temperature was expected to hit 90 degrees. However, the season is changing and fall weather will soon be upon us. Since autumn has officially begun, let’s explore answers in that context. Many men would answer this question with college football at the top of the list. I enjoy college football but it ranks well below number one in my ways to enjoy a Saturday afternoon.
Below is a list of other activities that came to mind (in no particular order).
- Go for a bike ride
- Take a walk in the woods
- Take a nap
- Take a drive in the country to enjoy the fall colors
- Play the last round of golf for the year
- Pick apples, eat an apple pie or drink some mulled cider
- Put away outdoor patio furniture and get ready for old man winter
- Go to the local high school football game (do they still play on Saturday afternoons?)
- Go over the river and through the woods to visit family (and eat apple pie especially if you are visiting your mother)
- Surf the web for things to do on a Saturday afternoon in autumn
- Watch a movie on TV
- Go to the Saturday matinée (at $7.50 per ticket!)
- Wash and wax the car
- Get a jump on Christmas and put up the outdoor lights while the weather is still nice
- Catch up with an out-of-town friend over the phone
- Make and eat a pumpkin pie
- Go to the pumpkin patch and get some pumpkins for fall, harvest-themed decorations
- Go on a hay ride with your sweetie
- Got to your college homecoming game
- Rake leaves
- Soak in a hot tub after raking leaves to soothe your achy muscles
Have a great week, Autumn has arrived in Ohio with cool temperatures and grey skies.
Last week I identified some ways the NFL has made their business more successful. This week I will try to take their strategies and apply it to your business.
The NFL responded to the needs of their customers by creating a more entertaining game that allowed for more scoring and gave the offense the upper hand by tweaking the rules of the game. The lesson learned here is to know what your customer wants and react to what they are telling you. Ask for and respond to customer feedback about your product or service. What are you doing right and what are you doing wrong? Do more of what your customers like and eliminate what you are doing wrong.
The NFL realized they have a very popular product and that it was popular overseas as well. They have responded to that customer by taking the games to their soil with live contests. Television can provide a good opportunity to expand but the NFL felt they had to give the fans abroad of the live product. To follow the example of the NFL in this regard will require you to take your product or service to a new market. Maybe it is not overseas but in the next town, county, state or perhaps country such as Canada or Mexico. Take advantage of technology like the internet to broaden your market area. Make your website work for you by adding the capability to take an order and to accept payments on-line. Having a static site is not enough. At a minimum, provide a way for potential customers to contact you for order requests or other inquiries through your web site.
Find a way to create a premium for your product. The NFL discovered this with adding Monday night and other nationally televised games. It is the same product but a higher price for advertising. Yes, they typically show a matchup of higher caliber teams but not always. Last week they had the San Diego Chargers against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs were one of the worst team in the league last year. Think about ways you can add value to your product and get a premium price for it (and higher margins).
The NFL vertically integrated a part of their business by adding the NFL network to distribute their product for Thursday night games. What can you do in this regard? Can you add a fleet of trucks to deliver your product? Can you acquire a raw material supplier? Perhaps now is the time to do this when the price to acquire may be at its lowest and cost of financing at all time lows as well.
Is there a segment of your customer base that is buying your product despite the fact you are ignoring it? Do some digging to see who is buying your product and you might be surprised to find you are missing out on an opportunity. This is what the NFL did when they were essentially ignoring half of their potential customers by not marketing to women. They have corrected this and are aggressively promoting their business to them now. Whom are you missing in your marketing efforts?
I hope I got you to think about your business in a different way today. Have a great week. I am going to watch some Monday Night Football. The Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints are playing the San Francisco 49ers tonight.
This past weekend the NFL kicked off another season. Despite labor unrest anticipated in 2011, the NFL is a very successful and profitable sport. Today, I will begin a 2 part series on what we can learn from the NFL and apply to our businesses.
The NFL has done several things over the years to grow their revenues. Starting in the late 70’s they created more revenue from thin air – they added two games to the schedule from fourteen to sixteen. They were correct when they thought they had enough demand to support the two extra games to fill stadiums and to sell advertising revenue. There is serious talk that the season will be expanded again to 18 games. Years ago they added a bye week to the schedule. They did this not for the health of the players but it gave them an extra week to the season.
Another thing they have done over the years has been to tweak the rules of the game to meet the demands of the football consuming public. They made the games more exciting to sell more tickets and garner larger television contracts. The rules were slanted towards the offense and scoring and ratings went up.
Throughout the years they have played games in Mexico City, London and in Japan. The games in London were regular season games while the others were preseason. They also added a new product – NFL Europe which began in 1991 and ended in 2007.
There was a time that football was played on Sundays. That ended long ago when Monday Night Football began in 1970. Now, there is Sunday night football, Thursday night football and Saturday night football. They have recently added a third game on Thanksgiving. I suppose if they could do it, every game would be a nationally televised special event. Why have a full slate of regional games with smaller audiences and lower advertising revenues if you can have a national showcase game. They have also gotten creative with the opening of the season by having a marquee match-up on Thursday night to kickoff the season. The first Monday night of the season has had a double-header with a Seven PM and Ten PM game to maximize prime time coverage across the nation.
As I mentioned above the NFL added a third game on Thanksgiving. This third game is now televised on the NFL network. The NFL has discovered vertical integration for a part of their business. How long before they televise most or perhaps all their product through their own distribution network? They already televise late season Thursday night games on their network. Of course they can cherry pick any match up they want for those games.
In its quest to maximize total customer revenue they began to actively market to women some years ago. It was a good step but somewhat rudimentary. Their concept was called “pink it and shrink it” by some since they used pink color schemes and simply took the existing templates for apparel and reduced the size. They are now becoming more sophisticated in their approach to marketing to the female fan. The clothing is now more form-fitting and designed for the female figure. They are also rolling out products designed specifically for women such as purses, intimate apparel, maternity clothes and jewelry. I suppose if you offer intimate apparel it makes sense you would have to offer maternity clothes – very sneaky indeed!
As you can see, the NFL has been very active in their business responding to customer needs as well as looking for ways to increase sales. Next week we will see how we can apply some of these concepts to our businesses.
Have a great week.
A few weeks ago I promised a report on my vacation in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. As we wrap up summer 2010 on this Labor Day I hope you were able to enjoy some time off from the daily rat race. My report is below.
We stayed at a small cottage near Keuka Lake and after my morning bike ride around the lake we spent our day one going to the Corning Museum of Glass which was about a 30 minute drive. We were at the museum for about 3 hours and the museum had art work from glass and glass products throughout the years going back over 2,000 years as well as a lot of technology related to glass. I was surprised how much I enjoyed our time at the museum in Corning. In Corning there is also a Norman Rockwell Museum and if you buy a ticket for both museums the price is something like $20. The ticket price for an adult to the Glass Museum is about $14 with a 10 or 15% discount if you belong to AAA. We did not go to the Rockwell Museum.
Day 2 began with a bicycle ride and then trip over to the Seneca Lake area via Watkins Glen which sits at the bottom of Seneca Lake. We had lunch in a picnic area of the Finger Lakes National Forest. We then drove to a winery on the Seneca Lake Wine Trail and began a bike riding tour of some wineries on the East side of Seneca Lake. We hit about 5 wineries in 7 miles of riding south and had some tastings, all of which were very nice. On the way back we decided to go without stopping for any tastings as there is a winery about every mile or so on each side of the road. On both sides of Seneca Lake there are over 40 wineries as well as several breweries. Seneca Lake is 38 miles long and is the second longest of the Finger Lakes. Cayuga Lake is the largest at just under 40 miles.
Day 3 was our trip to Cooperstown to the National Baseball Hall Of Fame and Museum. It was about a 3 hour drive through the hills of rural New York and it rained most of the day. We arrived in Cooperstown around 1 PM and spent 4 hours at the Hall of Fame and thoroughly enjoyed the day. The only bad thing about Cooperstown is its location. By car, there is no real easy way to get there. At some point you have to travel on back roads which are hilly and winding. 90% of our trip there was on those types of roads. Despite, the difficulty at getting there I am glad I went there and would recommend it to any baseball fan.
After my morning bike ride, day 4 was spent in Rochester visiting my wife’s Great Aunt which was about a 75 minute drive from our cottage. When we got back to the Keuka Lake area we hit a few more wineries for tastings and then a nice Italian Restaurant for dinner in Hammondsport. We had a glass of red wine from a local winery that we were visiting the next day. The food was good and the wine was superb. The wine was a proprietary blend from Dr. Konstantin Frank’s Winery. This winery is probably the most well-respected winery in the region and has made a name for itself for its wine made from the Riesling grape.
Day 5 was Saturday and our last full day of vacation and it began with my morning bike ride and then we were off to Herron Hill winery and Dr. Konstantin Frank’s. Herron Hill was a very nice winery that had a delightful selection of wines and a great view. Dr Frank’s winery was established in 1962 and has made a name by growing European grape varieties rather than native grapes such as Concord or French Hybrids. We then went back to our cottage, had lunch and went to an outdoor flea market. After a while at the flea market we went back to our cottage and sampled some wines we bought over the past few days. Below is a list of wineries we visited:
- Caywood Vineyards
- Dr. Frank’s Vinifera Wine Cellars
- Herron Hill Winery
- Keuka Lake Vineyards
- King’s Garden Vineyard
- Lamoreaux Landing
- Penguin Bay Winery
- Stever Hill Vineyards
- Wagner Vineyards
Next week I will return to alternating business and non-business topics. Have a great week and enjoy what is left of our summer.