business, Costco, movie, retail

Reaching consumers where they are

“Build it and they will come” is a business mantra that I wish would die a quick death. I am amazed by how often retailers and service providers believe that the customer needs to seek them out. With so many choices and so little time, companies need to be proactively tracking their customers to find out where they are, and then doing whatever they can to get their products and services in front of them in compelling ways.

I read a post on one of the Amazon.com blogs today that was written by Rich Sloan, of the founders of StartUpNation. http://www.amazon.com/gp/blog/post/PLNK2ZPLRZB2ZOBQG. In the post, he describes a recent outing to Costco where he found AMC movie tickets available at a slight discount. He and his wife weren’t even considering seeing a movie, but it was clearly saving a bit of money for them and would provide them with an experience later on that they’d both enjoy. If not for that display, the couple would have had to decide to see a movie, then look up the times, dates, location, etc. of the closest movie showing a movie they were interested in. With a slight discount in a store where the couple was already shopping, AMC reached out to them and gave them an idea for a night out.

Well played, AMC. And a lesson for all of us in business. The rules of the game have changed: we must do everything we can to offer differentiated, timely benefits to consumers in a convenient package.

health, insomnia, sleep, time

Smoothing ruffled minds

Last night, I went to listen to my friend, Dan’s, DJ mix at the Time Out New York Lounge at New World Stages. His show, Lush & Lively, features a fabulous mix of groovy re-creations of old standards. The music really just makes me smile. I hadn’t seen Dan in over a month – a travesty as I am used to seeing about once a week. Times gets away from us too easily. This started me down the road to thinking about how much our busy lives actually effect the state of our minds.

I came across a quote today by Charlotte Bronte that could be the mantra for all of us that suffer from time to time, or all the time as the case may be, from insomnia. “A ruffled mind makes a restless pillow.” A large part of my sleeping problems are self-induced. My mind is working so fast so often that it has a hard time going to sleep. It is stubborn about turning off.

Meditation helps. Yoga helps even more because it pairs meditation with physical activity. I’ve been known to run simply to exhaust myself as much as possible. What really helps is slowing down and I am growing more conscious of my ability to slow down my life despite the world’s efforts to continuously speed it up.

Yesterday, I was meeting Dan at 6, precisely, so that way I could get somewhere else by 7:30, and be home by exactly 10 to finish up some work before going to bed. Fine to do on occasion. Ludicrous to think that kind of rigid planning in my social life is sustainable. So I moved my 7:30 back half an hour, and lengthened by then-8:00 by half an hour. I gave myself some room to breathe, and I was able to get a better night’s sleep because I hadn’t felt rushed all evening long to get here, there, and everywhere.

To be sure, valuing your time as the most precious resource on the planet is a difficult task because demands are placed upon you by external sources. However, giving myself the permission to control the impact of those outside sources, even if just for one evening, yields such good results that I’m having difficulty valuing my time as anything less than precious. Could that one decision be the key to calming down our ruffled minds?

The image above can be found at: http://startupblog.files.wordpress.com/2007/09/salvador-dali-clock.jpg