Archive by Author

Becoming a “Benchwarmer”

5 Mar

Catching a whiff of a money-making idea doesn’t just “happen.” A group can sit down for days and not come up with anything of value. It’s a multi-step process typically starting with a brainstorm session (or multiple sessions) to which births a possible gem. Our group believes to have found that gem – or fragment of gem.

While brainstorming, a pattern seemed to occur. Today’s coffee-shop culture can be broken into specific target groups or characters if you will. According to thefw.com, 10 characters can be identified in every coffee shop. The character who had the most potential of becoming lucrative was the “benchwarmer.” The BW is described as the following: “…that one guy who sits on the bench right outside our favorite coffee spot each morning…” Presumably known to most of us as the “regular.” Every coffee shop has regulars. At times, they are simply the friendly faces sitting in their corner booth. At other times, they are the lifeblood of the shop. Why not target the folks who bring in a steady flow of income to your business?

We’re not suggesting we squeeze the BWs dry because that would be counterproductive. We suggest giving incentives to regulars, thus gaining total loyalty. Also, our services would attract customers who weren’t totally smitten until knowing our business caters to those who frequent most. A win-win situation that few businesses cultivate.

Our conglomerate competitor Starbucks does a great job of creating regulars. Those who love their local coffee shops may feel dejected by the little recognition they receive currently though they patronize the shop religiously, or maybe their wallets have shrunk due to our poor economy. Regardless, Starbucks absorbs other shops’ caffeine-addicts easily. Why? Because there are things like the Gold Membership card, which I proudly own, that gives incentives to those who come in more than once a year. It’s almost as if it’s a game. The more stars or points you receive, the more “loyal” you are to the company. This is the way a business should cater to its customers.

To compete with other local shops, or even Starbucks with its over-concentration retail strategy, our group has “created” the regular ringup program. Upon downloading the app we created, a regular to our shop could have his or her normal order preset so that once s/he crosses through the shop’s doorway his/her order will be processed. The regular is happy. The coffee shop appreciates the shortening of the line, and the shop’s knowledge of what people want is expanded by the use of this app.

The coffee-shop culture has become such a strong trend within our society that Neil Pasricha’s book “The Book of Awesome” projects the yearning many people have to become a regular. His blog, which is a live extension of his book, is quoted saying, “There’s something special about becoming a regular and feeling that human connection in your human heart. When you visit your favorite joint it’s like welcome back to your corner stool, welcome back to your favorite table, welcome back to your perfect order.” It may not be a coffee shop, but it’s a concept strongly connected to such.

People want to belong. People want to have a purpose. That’s why our business should give them one and make money doing it.

Author: Matt Mazick
Contributing members: Brooke Simmons and Min Soo Suh

Works cited:
http://1000awesomethings.com/2012/03/30/15-becoming-a-regular-somewhere/
http://www.presspublications.com/entertainment/1726-oregons-new-coffee-shop-is-welcoming-regulars
http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20120420/upper-east-side/coffee-bean-tea-leaf-offers-mug-lockers-for-regulars-on-upper-east-side
http://thefw.com/people-in-coffee-shop/

The Curious Case of the Seattle Times

16 Feb

An underlying tone of most journalism classes is that the newspaper industry is dying. In most cases, it’s true. But in the instance of The Seattle Times, it seems the biggest can be the strongest. With a relatively large staff and a multitude of talent, the Times is on track to survive the financial stress the Great Recession placed on it.

What I appreciated most about the paper wasn’t its sheer numbers in subscriptions but its recognition of the importance of research. Curtis Huber, single copy operations manager of the Times, and his team of researchers focused on the reach and demographics of the Times’ audience. After pairing up with researchers from the University of Missouri School of Journalism, they were able to break down their viewers into specific marketable groups. Each group was expanded by income, technology use and niche. I found this analytical information interesting and very pertinent to the industry. And eventually, this information will be put to use once the Times creates a pay wall of content. They’ll know more about who’ll leave and who’ll stay.

There’s a reason the PI has faced financial instability. When its competitor (The Seattle Times) does extensive research and knows its audience, it’s easy for them to develop a gap in loyalty from its members. Give your readers what they want faster than your competitor and expect to see a disparity in followers. The Times did just that, and the PI is now stuck sweeping in the fanatical sports fans and more digitally savvy consumers as their main support, which we all know is hard to handle.

Seeing what goes on behind the scenes in the Times’ newsroom and what the editors had to offer in terms of advice about their future, it shows that the company isn’t looking to go out of business any time soon. Their focus on a sound digital presence was the topic of our conversation. No reporter is OBLIGATED to have a twitter account, but it seems that the Times’ content received more traffic if a report maintained an account. Specifically anyone reporting on sports. Seattle really seems to like its sports.

Overall, the insight from The Seattle Times was appreciated. Having seen a near-failing newspaper and then a sound newspaper gave me a better opinion about where things are going in the future for the industry.

Author: Matt Mazick

From Lakota to Starbucks, Microsoft to Amazon

12 Feb

Kris Peterson might be the most genuine and over-qualified person I’ve met. Since her graduating from MU, Peterson has worked for The Seattle Times, Starbucks, Microsoft and Amazon. To me, this seems almost unreal considering that she was a very humble person. Luckily, I was blessed in hearing her speak about her experiences and about her advice for the next generation of Mizzou graduates.

Peterson simply stated that the key to progressing in one’s career was to become flexible. The business world can be cutthroat and harsh, but she accused that sort of atmosphere as self-creating. Journalism graduates of my generation have become increasingly competitive and dedicated to their work. Not saying that is a bad thing, but it makes the industry dissolute and intimidating. Peterson believes that we’re able to control that environment and even turn it around.

I found her story enthralling because I easily can put myself in her place. Admittedly, I’m not one to understand the workings of technology very well, but I do see myself as someone who has many interests and a variety of skills to offer. Peterson is a prime example of someone who’s had a long journey and has learned a lot. I found that sincere and encouraging.

As for her latest work on the Kindle, she broke down the business of targeting and developing the market for the device. Competition with Apple and Barnes and Noble has made her job challenging. Who would purchase a Kindle over an iPad? Well, someone who values reading over browsing the web while television. It seems like a simple target, but finding that audience can be an issue. As for developing the Kindle app, Peterson mentioned that IT and creatives don’t always see eye-to-eye, which is an easy story to tell in any technical-oriented industries.

Author: Matt Mazick

Advertising With An Altruistic Outlook

12 Feb

Since arriving at Mizzou, I’ve always wanted a career that focused on helping others. My career choices ranged from Social Work to Veterinary Medicine. But ultimately, I chose Journalism. I still question that decision. Not because I don’t see its importance, but because I was never involved in anything journalism-related before coming to college. Actually, I was big into volunteering, which helped me develop my newest career choice: becoming a PR professional for a Non-Profit agency.

Going to Seattle and visiting Aggregate gave me something to look forward to after graduation. Considering Aggregate’s altruistic spin on advertising, I thought it was a great fit for me.

Amy Rainey, who was an alum of MU, works as a strategy specialist for Aggregate. She heads campaigns for clients like Pioneer and other foundations who need her assistance in developing strong strategic communication plans. Her focus on growing awareness of these companies inspired me to look deeper into my what interests me and how I want to help.

Author: Matt Mazick

Rumor Has It That MSN’s Got Something New To Offer

12 Feb

As a teenager, I was addicted to using MSN messenger. Since I was late to getting Internet access, I didn’t have an AOL account. I only used MSN. And interesting, it hasn’t changed much since its creation. The only real news to me was that MSN and NBC News were splitting, thus dismantling MSN has a legitimate news outlet in most people’s book. However, MSN has taken initiative and started its own news branch, MSN News.

Besides its ties with Microsoft, MSN News has had little support since few people rely on it for their aggregated news source  In combating that issue, the department has focused on making the site more visually pleasing – by integrating Windows 8 features – and more scandalous. By “scandalous,” I mean that they added a “Rumors” section to their news website.

As simple as it sounds, the “Rumors” section announces unconfirmed and/or confirmed surprising facts about celebrities, politicians and national icons. The premise is to be the FIRST news source to break the news, thus channeling more traffic to the site. The use of trend analytic applications zone in on topics tweeted and searched for in search engines. It’s interesting, for sure, but I don’t see much merit in the idea.

Newspapers/trusted news sources do not rely on rumors to increase their business, which I believe added to the credibility of the source. MSN News now believes that having a “Rumors” section is justifiable and is giving viewers what they want to see. I mean, that’s true. I was very intrigued when I saw an orange-colored block filled with an ugly face made by Beyonce at the Super Bowl, but I still don’t think it’s admirable to promote such a lifestyle.

In conclusion, I was disappointed to see MSN focus on such a petty part of society that most deem superfluous and cheap. I’m interested in seeing where this trend leads this “news” source.

Author: Matt Mazick

Two Men And A Business Plan

12 Feb

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer seemed to be a good starting place for some folks. John Cook and Todd Bishop were reporters and long-time bloggers for the PI. Before its switch to a fully digital publication, Cook and Bishop pushed for a bigger presence in blogging, specifically focusing on start-up technical companies in the Seattle area. Interestingly enough, the PI shut down the idea. Thus began the severing of ties between the paper and its two most popular bloggers, Cook and Bishop.

The break gave birth to the newly popular, tech-oriented site GeekWire. Geek Wire focuses specifically on startups within the tech industry to which Seattle is a great place. Cook and Bishop run their company out of a shared office space in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, which has a GREAT view of Salmon Bay. Today, the techie duo focuses on giving positive publicity to startups who have brought interesting ideas to their respective industries. Zillow, for instance, is a real estate app that provides user-friendly features and advanced search options in which few realtors can offer.

GeekWire also provides a way for the unemployed to get connected to employers by hosting topical events. Typically high-profile speakers, such as CEOs, will give a TED-talk-like lecture or agree to a meet-up. GeekWire members are able to purchase tickets to these events in hopes of meeting a tech employer. Cook explained this to be a win-win situation since GeekWire benefits monetarily while its members find jobs.

Cook gave a tiny bit of advice to those who do not know what they should do with their lives. He believed that any good idea can grow and flourish if one’s willing to put the effort into it, which might seem a bit corny. But I found it more believable since he was a prime example of the advice.

Author: Matt Mazick

Few Bloggers Get Paid to Do What Tom Fucoloro Does

12 Feb

One of the most intriguing visits in Seattle was to Tom Fucoloro, who is a hyper blogger for the Capitol Hill neighborhood as well as a bike blogger. What made talking to him so interesting was that he was getting paid – and had a partnership with The Seattle Times – to blog about news in his area. How can someone make a living off of blogging? Well, Seattle is a special place when it comes to aggregating news. There are traditional newsreaders, who tend to be more wealthy and old, but there seems to be a growing population of readers who get their news online, on their phones/tablets and tend to prefer news outlets that are EXTREMELY localized. This gave great insight as to why the Seattle PI is slowly dying.

Fucoloro did, however, give a lot of negatives to the news culture of Seattle. He currently spends 60 hours a week managing his blog. With an average of five posts a day and constant on-the-scene coverage, Fucoloro has a lot invested in his work. And, of course, this is done purely to appease his audience. Lastly, the most negative aspect of the job is the lack of benefits. Tom said that if he were to get sick, he would have to quit his job. That, to me, seems like a pretty volatile position.

Author: Matt Mazick