More evidence of how far journalism school graduates will go for a job: One of my former students is camping out on the sidewalk in front of the Santa Monica Apple store with four of her co-workers from Poynt. The app company won't get the first five iPhone 4's released Thursday. Instead it is giving the five spots away and promoting the heck out of the effort on Facebook.
The video of Mizzou alum Brittany Darwell shows here in good -- make that frenetic -- spirits. I hope she is as energetic Thursday night.
Nielsen Research this week predicted that the common grocery list will soon go the way of Mr. Hooper, the kindly corner grocer in Sesame Street. Smartphones are quickly becoming the shopping aid of choice. That doesn't just mean shoppers can check their email from the frozen food section. Grocery shoppers are moving quickly toward the "personalized shopping experience." Smartphones allow consumers to check prices for the best deal, find the location of that deal, read product reviews and manage both the content of their pantries and their balance of their bank accounts.
Sound familiar? Just keep in mind, however, that this is in an industry that would jump for joy if it could get profit margins "killing" current newspapers. When you have to dream of a 2% margin, you pay close attention to changes in the market. So the analysts at Nielsen gave the grocers an eight-point do-0r-die list of recommendations that are, for the most part, as appropriate for newspapers as they are for supermarkets:
- Develop or buy online/digital/social marketing expertise. My thoughts, exactly.
- Plan for diminishing returns from traditional media. Ouch. But that doesn't mean traditional media that provides non-traditional products will be any less valuable to the retail sector.
- Nurture retailer/supplier relationships. Nielsen tells grocers to prepare for consolidation. We call that convergence.
- Get more flexible with format planning. Exactly. There is little gained by simply dumping one format for another. Like modern consumers we must be flexible and mobile. Nielsen said to start thinking of your next one to three generations of formats.
- Demand forecasting by category and consumer segment. That means watching reader and advertiser demand, not getting tough with you marketing department. To survive, we have to respond quickly to the needs -- and even the whims -- of a fickle public.
- Expand via regional or global opportunities. Readers are not just mobile near home. The wander in and out of the traditional circulation zones of various newspapers. Capture the opportunity.
- Make future management a company strength. Tradition is wonderful, but focus on the future is vital for longterm success. Planning ahead is more than marking something on your calendar.
- Understand the new faces of opportunity. Like grocers, newspapers face an increasingly aging and ethnic population. But those old readers won't die off tomorrow. Multi-generational and multi-cultural are the key terms for success. And never, never forget the Golden Fleece our grocery friends seek: Customer loyalty.
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