Arby’s: Changing the Mood of Fast Food

When I think of fast food, the last thing that I usually connect with it is a personal experience. Usually I feel like a herded animal: after waiting in line for what seems like years, I am “greeted” by a grouchy employee who takes my order as fast as he can, gives me my number and shoos me off in order to “help” the next person in line. This seems to be pretty consistent no matter what fast food chain I visit (with the exception of Chick-fil-A of course).

You can imagine my surprise one day a few months ago when I got to the front of the line at Arby’s and was greeted by an employee who was more polite than usual. After placing my order, I was asked the following question that caught my attention:  Read more of this post

How to Save the US Postal Service

USPS Trucks lined up at sunset

The United States Postal Service is in trouble. At a critical point in its history, what will it do to stamp out its debt and continue to deliver mail? I have a few suggestions, but first let’s take a look at how the US Postal Service got to this point.  Read more of this post

Four Ways Twitter Can Improve

Twitter

I like Twitter. A lot. It has become my favorite social network to interact with people, share my thoughts, stay up-to-date on news, and stay entertained.

However, Twitter has some catching up to do. With Facebook announcing its new Timeline feature (as well as emphasizing Lists again) and Google+ going public, it is time for Twitter to consider some minor changes that will greatly improve the experience of its users. The social media site, which has faced periodical criticism for seeming lack of long-term vision, has over 200 million users and is handling approximately 200 million tweets per day. The company underwent one major site design overhaul referred to as “New Twitter” that began rolling out to users in October 2010.

Here are just a few changes that I think Twitter should make in order to enhance the user experience and stay competitive (feel free to add your own in the “Comments” below):  Read more of this post

Social Media and the Classroom

With the start of the school year right around the corner (at least for those who still have to go to school), I thought it would be appropriate to write a post about how social media can be used by teachers in the classroom to enhance learning. A recent study by Ofcom showed that 47% of teenagers in the UK  now own a smartphone, compared to just 27% of adults (I imagine that the percentage is almost the same, maybe higher, here in the US). Before I go into detail, let me announce some breaking news from Siloam Springs, where I currently reside.

Siloam Springs High School students can now use their phones at school! Siloam recently finished construction of a brand new high school. Along with the new building, the school district is making some modifications to their technology policy. For the first time in Siloam history, students are allowed to use their cell phones in-between classes (as long as they don’t make calls). That means tweets, texts, status updates, etc. Additionally several of the floors in the building have an extra outlet plugs in them to prepare for the day when most students have all their books on electronic devices.

Now that Siloam Springs High (and I presume other schools) are allowing students to use their cell phones (and laptops for some, especially colleges) at school without any reprecussions, how can schools integrate social media into the classroom environment to enhance the learning experience? Here are just a few suggestions:

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Social Media and the Church

Social media is a big deal. In case you’ve been wandering in the Sinai Desert for forty years, you have probably heard of social media and probably have an account on at least one of the major social networking sites. Speaking of the Sinai Desert, imagine if the Israelites had Twitter accounts (“Still wandering in circles…getting tired of quail and manna. Wish there was a @TacoBell nearby… #ineedChacos) or, better yet, if Moses was on Foursquare (Moses just became the Mayor of Mount Sinai!).

Anyway, there are a vast multitude of applications for social media in almost every setting, even the local church. In fact, integrating social media into your church could be one of the smartest moves you make for spreading the Gospel, marketing the church, and promoting congregational growth and interaction. Though social media will never substitute for personal contact, discipleship, and evangelism, it is a very helpful tool in bolstering the effectiveness of the local church. It allows the church staff and members to extend the reach of the local body beyond the walls of the building (itself a tool in church ministry). Below are a few ways the different social networks can be used in the ministry of the local church, but first some recent statistics about the “Social Media Revolution:”

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Marketing Alchemy: Turning Lead into Platinum

Graduated cylinders and beaker filled with chemical compounds

Alchemy.

For many of us, this word brings to mind images of crazy madmen in the Middle Ages in dingy basements trying to turn base metals into gold. While this may not be too far from the truth, marketers can learn a lesson from the alchemists of old.

In marketing, there is a common rule that says 20% of a company’s customers contribute 80% of the company’s revenue. Marketers often refer to these individuals as “platinum customers.” Platinum customers have a high lifetime value for a company and are relatively cheap to retain. Not only do these customers contribute a significant sum of money to a company, but they also tend to serve as brand advocates. In other words, they are the type of customers that a company wants to attract and multiply. The most profitable 20% of customers can contribute anywhere between 150-300% of a company’s profits! Alas, not everyone can be platinum, despite what their mothers tell them. Marketers also categorize consumers into “gold,” “iron,” and “lead” groups. Customers in the least profitable 10-20% (primarily lead and some iron) can actually reduce profits somewhere between 50-200%! One of the primary jobs of marketers is to convert as many customers as possible into gold and platinum while “firing” the majority of lead customers. So, how can a marketer do this? Below are just a few ways:

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You. The Brand.

Fingerprint

Taco Bell. Jeep. Walmart. Apple. Dell.

What do all of those names have in common? They are all brands (and well-known ones at that). Each of these companies have built a strong and unique brand image through their products, services, advertisements, social media presence, and other communications with the public.

Did you know that you are brand too? Whether you know it or not, the way that you interact with others is similar to how companies express themselves. Your statuses on Facebook, tweets on Twitter, videos on YouTube, and posts on your blog provide potential friends and employers a wealth of information about you, without them ever having to meet you. Once they do meet you, you can refer them to your personal sites so that they can learn more about you and your passions, skills, and abilities.

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Think Outside the Bun

Think Outside the Bun.

Not only does this motto describe Taco Bell‘s product mix of fast food that comes wrapped in flour tortillas rather than sesame seed buns, it can also be applied to Taco Bell’s marketing strategy. Taco Bell has done an exceptional job of adapting its strategy to the evolving social media sphere. In his book The New Rules of Marketing and PR, David Meerman Scott outlines what he refers to as the “new rules” for companies in a culture that seeks engagement and conversation with companies rather than being interrupted during their favorite TV show to be told to go buy something. Mr. Scott wants marketers to realize that, in today’s business environment, “marketing is more than just advertising” and that marketing is “about delivering content just at the precise moment your audience needs it.” The majority of his book is dedicated to explaining how various social media sites and tools can be used to accomplish organizational goals.

I believe that Taco Bell does an exceptional job of using new social media sites, especially Facebook and Twitter, to build brand loyalty, engage in conversation, and drive traffic to their stores. On Taco Bell’s Facebook page, users express their love for the fast food franchise and it’s products despite the recent allegations made by an Alabama law firm regarding Taco Bell’s meat content.  Several of the page’s 5 million fans have also posted over 500 pictures of Taco Bell food, locations, and sauce packets. Facebook isn’t the only social media outlet where people express their love for the restaurant chain: they also have over 55,000 people following the company’s Twitter account. Taco Bell has a smart strategy that it uses with its Twitter account that has as much to do with when the company tweets as what it tweets. Like other companies on Twitter, Taco Bell responds to customers and lets people know about their special menu items from time to time; what is unique about Taco Bell is that they tweet during the times that are considered peak hours for them: lunch and FourthMeal. This strategy not only gets people tweeting about Taco Bell on Twitter in the hopes of being retweeted (a goal I have yet to accomplish on Twitter myself…), but it also bombards the feeds of all the users who follow Taco Bell with how people are enjoying Taco Bell at that moment. This helps to keep Taco Bell in the all important “consideration set” of consumers as they decide where to spend their money on a fast food meal.

Taco Bell is truly “thinking outside the bun” when it comes to utilizing the new tools available to marketers. The company compliments its traditional advertising by engaging its highly loyal fan base on popular social media sites. I can’t wait to see what Taco Bell will do next with its marketing strategy in this exciting time in the progression of marketing thought.

-Lawson

Learn It. Love It. Live It.

Business Up Front, Party in the Back: The Two Sides of Twitter

 

Multiple Tweets Plain

Twit·ter [Twit-er] (v.)- “a short burst of inconsequential information or chirps from birds”

That is the definition that inspired Jack Dorsey and several others to create a 140-character messaging service that eventually became popular social media website we know today as Twitter. Since it’s launch on July 15, 2006, Twitter has grown to over 180 million users who create over 65 million tweets a day! (Thank you Wikipedia) As a marketing student and social media enthusiast, I have enjoyed using Twitter for the past year and a half or so to find and share information about the things that I am passionate about (like #marketing, #socialmedia, #theology, #business) as well as be entertained by tweets from @ochocinco and several others. Aside from my personal profile (@LawsonHembree), I have also managed the Twitter account for the Arkansas World Trade Center (@ARWTC).
From my experience with these two accounts, I’ve always gotten to see more of the “business side” of Twitter. However, like a mullet haircut, while Twitter is all “business up front,” there is also a “party in the back.” This post will take a brief look at both sides.

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