Check out “The Art of Packaging” on the “Morning Would” with Patty Dominguez and Pamela Herrmann.

For Valentine’s Day I purchased a gift card from Pandora for my wife. Excited, she wanted to go the same day so we drove to the store in Ala Moana and picked out the items she wanted to purchase. This is where it went downhill.

After completing the transaction, the sales associate proceeds to box her shiny new bangle and charms. My wife asked, “Don’t I get a pouch?” The Sales Associates responds, “You can have a box or a bag.” My wife stands there disappointed and a little upset. She tells the sales associate, “Your Pearlridge Store gives a pouch when you buy a bangle.” The associate responds, “We don’t.” I tell her, “Let’s go to the Pearlridge Pandora and I’ll see if I can buy you a pouch.” As we leave, she says we are never coming back to this store again and pulls her phone out and jumps on to Yelp.

pandora
Cream or White?

At the Pearlridge store, we are told its policy to give a pouch when a bangle is bought. They apologize and offer a pouch free of charge however; my wife decided she did not want the bangle. She asked, “Can I exchange it for something else?” The associate responds, “Of course you can.” In the end, we spend more money and my wife tells me to buy my Pandora gift cards from Pearlridge.

The pouch at the center of this controversy is small (fits the bangle perfectly), cream colored, has the Pandora logo, with a drawstring. It protects the bangle from getting scratched or possibly losing charms. A small price to pay given most Pandora bangles with charms cost the same as a dinner for two at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. If you know what I mean 🙂

Packaging is an extension of your brand. It speaks for your brand once the customer leaves the confines of your store. How many times have you bumped into friends in the mall, and after the initial greeting, the focus turns to the bags you are holding. In the case of mail order, it stirs excitement for those receiving a branded package or box. And in the case of my wife, it makes her feel special.

As I been telling many of you for the last month and a half, as of June 1, 2015, the integration of ByteWare Computers into my consulting firm, Up2Eleven Consulting LLC will be complete. You ask why?

Image generated by ESP Ghostscript (device=pnmraw)Walk-in customers for parts has been on the decline, 95% of the revenue for ByteWare Computers in the past year has come from new builds and computer repairs. When I resurrected ByteWare in late 2009, I knew it was going to be an uphill battle. We closed ByteWare Inc. in November 2004 because of declining margins in the computer market and our plans to add TV and Audio to our product mix to reverse the trend, this became Pure Digital in December 2004. However, with Todd’s passing in March 2007, and declining margins overall in the consumer electronics market the company was no more by July 2008. In retrospect, don’t know if the company was sold or taken-over. This is a whole different story, but all I know is the company that took over is no longer in business.

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From Jason Scott’s Flickr

Back to ByteWare Computers. When I opened in January 2010, I stocked a lot of inventory, but over the years I began to cut back because inventory was just sitting on the shelves. The problem is diversity. This was never a problem back in 1995 when ByteWare Inc. was founded. We carried one brand and model motherboard, two CPU speeds, Generic EDO Memory, one style of computer case, etc…you get the picture. They bought what we had. You had the Computer Shopper (remember when it was as fat as a phone book) but mail order was a pain in the butt.

10259834_10152064501677775_4973472800703422517_nFast forward to 2010, I stocked Intel, Asus, and Gigabyte motherboards but in some cases did not have the models that people were looking for. This is where the Internet is misunderstood and contrary to popular belief it is diversity I am up against, not price. If I have the item they are looking for at a higher but reasonable price they will buy. If they MUST have the model I don’t have they will go to the Internet. The more experienced you are, the more likely you will buy from the Internet due to diversity. With that said, if you have a few million laying around that you can sit on and want to open a computer parts store let me know.

So, what is happening:

  1. Just to clarify, ByteWare Computers is be integrated into Up2Eleven Consulting. I own both so I will continue to serve you.
  2. All active warranties for ByteWare Computers custom-built systems will be honoured by Up2Eleven Consulting.
  3. Up2Eleven will continue to work out of Bella Beads (1111 Dillingham Blvd., E-2) performing computer repair and custom system builds.
  4. All inventory left over after May 31. 2015 will be posted on eBay for sell. The only parts I intend on stocking going forth is hard drives and power supplies for repairs. From time-to-time I may have MB, CPU, and Memory, you can call, but in most cases these will be for active builds.
  5. After May 31, the 841-6228 will be answered, “Up2Eleven” and sales@bytewarecomputers.com will be monitored.

The only real change is company name and no more parts.  If you have any questions or concerns you can call me at 841-6228 or email sales@bytewarecomputers.com.

Let’s be honest, being First-to-Market with a product or service is thought to be a competitive advantage, however, is it?

2-faqs-what-is-a-first-to-market-product-alicia-hankins-copy
Interested in Network Marketing check out Alicia’s Blog

A colleague, Alicia DR Hankins recently blogged that a First-to-Market product gives the the Home Based Business “leverage”.  I thought “leverage”, sounds too certain, almost like guaranteeing success.  I have seen many Home Based Businesses fail with “leverage” due to lack of effort; thinking the product will sell itself or more important patience.  Remember, the term “profit” is relative.  What’s profitable to me might be a waste of time for you.   And let’s not forget that ever important, “demand” for your product or service.  So I like the term “advantage”, because if you do not take “advantage” of your situation you will fail…..

Back to competitive advantage, this morning in The Verge.com, Vlad Savov writes,B_wsC-sWwAEfpi0.0.0 (1)

“The problem stems from the need to be first in order to stand out. It’s a necessary but not sufficient precondition for a great product. To be the only one doing something, you also have to be the first one.”

His piece, “First doesn’t matter: The new MacBook has elicited a predictable spec-measuring response” discuss that there is nothing new about Apple’s new MacBook and Watch that was announced on March 9 at Apple’s “Spring Forward” Event in San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center.  Other manufactures have already been “first-to-market” with many of the features and specs that Apple has so skillfully crafted together.  If you ask me, their price points are delusional, but they still pull it off so well. That’s what makes them Forbe’s “World’s Most Valuable Brand” .

Apple has prospered due to two (2) first-to-market disadvantages.  The “free-rider effect” and “Incumbent inertia”.  The free-rider effect is simply taking advantage of the investments that the first-mover has made without incurring any significant cost such as R&D, market research, and infrastructure. Incumbent inertia, in terms of a competitive landscape, refers to the inability to react to disruptive change due to organizational rigidity.  They may become complacent or unable to take advantage of the opportunity due to financial or lack of knowledge.

In other words,  Apple knows how to take what has already has been done, make it better and more attractive with the least investment, and justify the high price they charge their consumers.  Clients are amazed when they discover I can fix MacBooks, I tell them, “It is just a PC.”  They say, “No, It’s an Apple!”  Years of Apple marketing have taught them well, but really, it’s a PC.

So, back to the question, “Is being first-to-market a competitive advantage.”  Sure it is, however, just remember when to let it go.  Reap the benefits and when the time comes, start work on your next first-to-market product or service. Businesses  are constantly reinventing themselves,  but we’ll leave that for another time.

Works Cited

Badenhausen, K. (2014, November 5). Tech Brands Dominate the Top 25. Retrieved from Forbes.com: http://www.forbes.com/powerful-brands/

Hankins, A. D. (2015, February 23). FAQs What is a First to Market Product? Retrieved from Alicia DR Hankins.com: The Art of Network Marketing – Recruit More Reps, Get More Leads, and Build Buisiness: http://aliciadrhankins.com/faqs-what-is-a-first-to-market-product/

Savov, V. (2015, March 13). First doesn’t matter: The new MacBook has elicited a predictable spec-measuring response. Retrieved from The Verge.com: http://www.theverge.com/2015/3/13/8202873/first-doesnt-matter

Greg Kumparak wrote a story on Techcrunch  that Facebook will be changing the way they count “likes”.  Why mention it here? I have a handful of clients that I consult with on Facebook.  Greg writes,

“The short version: Facebook is changing the way it’s counting likes, subtracting any accounts that have been either manually deactivated or “memorialized” after its owner passed. It’s something that probably should have been done since the beginning — but since it wasn’t, it’d be easy to think your Likes had dropped because of something you’d done.”

So if your “likes” go down in the next few weeks don’t panic, it’s nothing personal.  Besides, we still “like” you!

Tindell at his company headquarters.
Photographer: Harry Gould Harvey IV for Bloomberg Businessweek

A client recently asked me, “Do you prefer to own a Private or Public company?”  Well, that depends on your overall strategic goal for the company and more important for yourself.  Looking at me puzzled I clarified  for him.  If the company is in good financial and organizational health and the strategic goal is expansion, then taking the company public would make sense since doing so would give you access to capital markets.  You could sell stock to raise the money for expansion.  However, their is a drawback, you now become accountable to your shareholders.  For someone not accustom to answering to others, this can be very stressful,  as Kip Tindell founder and CEO of The Container Store said recently,

“It’s a little more emotional than I thought it would be. It’s like they’re talking about your daughter. For the first time in my life, I have people saying, ‘I don’t like this.’ If we were private, it would be fun to work on getting sales up. It’s less fun because investors want you to do it in one quarter.”

That brings us to the issue of alignment.  If the vision of the founder and that of the shareholders are not aligned, the founder could find themselves voted out of the company; if he or she has not leveraged their interest. An example of this was Steve Jobs’s ouster from Apple Computers in the spring of 1985.  Not many can return later to achieve the greatness he did. However, I believe the 12 years away prepared him.

There are also reporting requirements which are not levied on private companies and a whole lot of other stuff which I really did not want to go into with the client.  So, I told him, “I would remain private as long as I had the passion for the business and go public when I want the big buyout, because knowing me, I’d get voted out of my own company……..”

Works Cited
Berfield, S. (2015, February 19). Will Investors Put the Lid on the Container Store’s Generous Wages? Retrieved February 28, 2015, from BloombergBusiness:http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-19/container-store-conscious-capitalism-and-the-perils-of-going-public

Official WordPress LogoSince the beginning, I have been hand coding HTML websites resisting the assistance of the latest and greatest platforms out there.  However, it’s time I follow the same advice I give my clients, “Work smarter, not harder.”, so I am here on WordPress getting accustom to the ecosystem.  So for now I am going to settle on the Syntax Theme, simple yet elegant.

You ask what am I going to do here?  The simple answer is write.  To be quite honest, I don’t like writing, it takes up too much time.  I am a face-to-face person, interaction in-person is my specialty.  Not saying I don’t write, as a consultant I must write proposals and much more, but as technology pushes on, we are losing this personal interactivity.  Case in point, I have a client that uses text messaging to communicate with her associates about important task that need to be completed; instead of creating a To-do list for clarity, over-communicating its importance in-person, and holding associates accountable for its completion. She complains to me that her associates say, “I never got it.”  I wonder why?

Wish me luck!