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    Published on: February 3, 2015

    by Michael Sansolo

    Okay, you may be totally over discussions of the Super Bowl. But I'd like to take advantage of your good nature and talk about the final moments of the game that sealed the New England Patriots’ victory over the Seattle Seahawks.

    I want to identify some great management lessons in those moments, but not from the interception that got everybody's attention. There were two plays - one before it and one afterwards - that actually are a lot more important and worth discussing inside your organizations. They demonstrate what happens when people do their jobs and maintain focus, and what happens when they don't.

    The first play is one you have seen repeatedly, but it’s the part of the play that draws the least attention. The play was the incredible catch by Seattle’s Jermaine Kearse in the final minute of the game. In what seemed to be slow motion, we watched the ball bounce off nearly every part of Kearse’s body before he cradled it in his hands for a successful catch.

    Kearse was actually able to get back on his feet and could have walked five yards for the winning touchdown. But he didn’t do that because Malcolm Butler of New England also got back on his feet and pushed Kearse out of bounds. There is no overlooking what he did on this one play - Butler fell and saw an opposing player make a ridiculous catch, and yet he kept his wits about him and finished the play. He was focused. He did his job.

    Butler gained much more fame two plays later with the interception that iced the victory for the Patriots. But think about what happened immediately after Butler’s interception. The Patriots had the ball and no room for error, lining up within inches of their own goal line and peril. (For you non-football fans, it was entirely likely that New England could be pushed back one yard. That would have given Seattle two points and a chance to score again to win the game.)

    Only before the next play took place, a Seattle player moved too quickly, drawing a penalty that gave New England breathing room and an easy end to the game. That Seattle player lost focus. He didn't do his job.

    Think about that: in Butler’s case focus and persistence resulted in a game-saving play. The penalty was the opposite: a self-inflicted mistake or mental lapse that ensured his team’s defeat.

    And that’s why both need be discussed with your teams. Both plays are such great examples of the importance of focus and of every individual completing their tasks. In one case the lesson is positive and the other a complete mistake. There’s no doubt which path you want your team to follow so that customer service or any other task is done to its fullest and best every time out.

    Often we hear that culture is what people do when no one is watching and we could say the same about execution and performance. So it’s interesting that in the single event more Americans watch than anything else, we see two such stark examples (occurring within seconds of each other) that demonstrate so clearly the importance of doing a job properly and completely.

    It’s a lesson we all need to learn because the line between victory and defeat can be that small. For your business it could be every bit as important.

    Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available on Amazon by clicking here. And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon by clicking here.
    KC's View:

    Published on: February 3, 2015

    by Kevin Coupe

    Mobile Marketer has a startling statistic from a new Forrester "shows that, on average, consumers in the United States and Britain use 24 apps per month but spend more than 80 percent of the time on just five apps, which in the U.S. are Facebook, YouTube, Maps, Pandora and Gmail."

    The story continues: "With the top five most consumed apps in the U.S. representing 28 percent of time spent on all apps, many branded apps will not be used or even discovered, according to Forrester.  For this reason, the research firm urges marketers to rethink their app strategy with a stronger focus on engaging users on frequently used third-party apps while not abandoning their branded apps."

    It sounds like the old truism - 80 percent of the business is done by 20 percent of the customer base - on Eye-Opening steroids.
    KC's View:

    Published on: February 3, 2015

    Burger Business reports that fast feeder Jack in the Box last week "quietly moved its menu and its dining experience a notch more upscale, small shifts that will result in the repositioning of the brand up and away from many QSR competitors ... The new Buttery Jack burgers are quarter-pound beef patties puddled with melted garlic-herb butter like a fine steak and served on a new bakery-style signature bun.

    "Two varieties - both at top-tier prices - are available: The $4.49 Classic Buttery Jack has creamy tomato sauce, green leaf lettuce, fresh tomatoes and Provolone cheese; the $4.79 Bacon & Swiss Buttery Jack has creamy bacon mayo, hickory-smoked bacon and Swiss cheese."

    The story notes that Jack in the Box’s plans "to refine its food and the experience of eating it. Later this year, food will start being served in baskets by crew in new uniforms, for example."

    CEO Len Comma suggested to analysts late last year that this is just the beginning:

    “I think what you can expect to see over the next couple of years is that we will focus holistically on executing the brand in a way to drive more consumer loyalty or affinity to the brand. And that will have to be done through a combination of things,” he said. “One, I think we really have to look at our menu very carefully to decide how we can generate a greater consumer value proposition. And I think when you look at the equities that we have on our existing menu and look at the innovation that we have been able to achieve over the last handful of years, I think we have a golden opportunity to up the ante with our menu and really take both taste and quality to a new level.”
    KC's View:
    I have to be honest here. I don't have a Jack in the Box anywhere near me, so I can't sample the new products anytime soon. And it's been a while since I've been to a Jack in the Box; it's probably been since college, and I have a vague memory of the milkshakes there being an inexpensive hangover cure.

    That said ... I have to wonder if this is the kind of move that McDonald's needs to make. Under five bucks may be a top-tier price in the fast food business, but it seems reasonably affordable as an upscale option ... and a focus on taste strikes me as the best way to go in such a competitive marketplace.

    I also think it is notable that the folks at Jack in the Box seem to understand that this is not an overnight transformation. it is going to take years. That's going to be McDonald's other problem ... because there are a lot of folks out there who will expect changes to take place overnight. That ain't gonna happen.

    Published on: February 3, 2015

    The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon has made a deal with three major universities - Purdue University, the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the University of California Davis - "to operate co-branded websites selling textbooks, fan shirts, ramen noodles and most other items available on While the deals aren’t exclusive, officials at the colleges say the arrangements acknowledge a reality: Their students already shop on Amazon."

    The story says that "as part of its campus initiative, Amazon is offering unlimited next-day delivery on campus to Amazon Student Prime members, faster than the two-day guarantee for Amazon’s regular Prime customers. It plans distribution centers on each campus where students can collect packages from code-activated lockers or from Amazon employees."

    And the move represents, the Journal writes, "Amazon’s opening salvo in a bid to capture some of the $10.3 billion spent annually in college bookstores, according to the National Association of College Stores. Today, that market is dominated by Barnes & Noble Inc. and closely held companies including Follett Corp."
    KC's View:
    In a lot of ways, I think Amazon already is there. I checked with my 20-year-old daughter, who is a junior at Quinnipiac university (studying criminal justice, getting on the dean's list every semester, doing some amazing internships and making her old man proud), and she agreed that in her six semesters of college, we've purchased perhaps two textbooks from the college bookstore. The rest have been from Amazon ... and generally a little bit less expensive than in the bookstores. We've also begun renting e-textbooks for her iPad, which is even better.

    Here are a couple of things we know for sure. One is that most of these kids, and their parents, already are shopping on Amazon. Another is that Amazon knows far more about these kids and parents than pretty much any other retailer. I think it is a pretty good bet that Amazon can take those two things and make them add up pretty quickly to an even more sizable percentage of the college market than it already has.

    The only question I have is, does Jeff Bezos know how to do a Triple Lindy?

    Published on: February 3, 2015

    Bloomberg reports that RadioShack Corp. "is preparing to shut down the almost-century-old retail chain in a bankruptcy deal that would sell about half its store leases to Sprint Corp. and close the rest, according to people with knowledge of the discussions."

    The result would be that RadioShack will stop existing as a stand-alone entity.

    According to the story, "The negotiations could still break down without a deal being reached, or the terms could change. Sprint and RadioShack also have discussed co-branding the stores, two of the people said. It's also possible that another bidder could emerge that would buy RadioShack and keep it operating, the people said."

    There also is a report that hedge fund Standard General, which loaned RadioShack enough money to stay in business and became its largest shareholder, could serve as a "stalking horse" bidder for assets that would allow it to recoup some of the $535 million it loaned the retailer.
    KC's View:
    This is so over. While management had a vision for how it wanted to bring these stores into the 21st century, there wasn't the time or the money to make it happen and to transcend the mismanagement and lack of vision that plagued the company for so many years.

    Published on: February 3, 2015

    Variety reports that Amazon spent a whopping $1.3 billion last year on original and exclusive programming made available on its Prime Instant Video, which essentially is its version of private label content designed to set it apart and give it a differential advantage. Which seems like a lot of money...until the same story reports that Netflix - which has a similar strategy - spent an even more whopping $3.8 billion.

    "The total content-spending figures from Amazon and Netflix illustrate that — while they are using original content to generate buzz, aimed at attracting and retaining subs — the bulk of their budgets go toward licensing TV shows and movies from Hollywood," the story says. "Netflix execs have said they expect to continue to spend 10% of the company’s overall content outlay on original programming."
    KC's View:
    In the broadest sense, this points out something incredibly important - the need to differentiate by any means possible. Amazon and Netflix are just two of the companies that are gambling on the premise that it isn't just enough to be a conduit for content ... they have to be unique at every turn and in every possible way. I think it shows in the kinds of programming they are choosing, and in what I think is really sophisticated taste. (I'll have some more thoughts about this on Friday in "OffBeat.")

    The lesson should be learned by every retailer, every marketer - "me, too" simply isn't acceptable. You gotta find your unique value proposition and work it, work it, work it....and then work it some more.

    Published on: February 3, 2015

    • Salt Lake City-based Associated Food Stores (AFS) announced a partnership with Rosie, described as "an integrated software company," to provide online/mobile shopping opportunities to its retailers.

    The announcement says that Saveway Market in Salmon, Idaho, will be the first AFS member retailer to launch the service. with a pick-up option; delivery will be added shortly. The company said that "several other member retailers will launch Rosie during the next month, including Lee’s Marketplace in Logan, Utah, Winegars Supermarkets in Roy and Bountiful, Utah and Clark’s Market in Snowmass, Colorado. AFS expects more retailers to follow in the coming months."
    KC's View:

    Published on: February 3, 2015

    • reports that Haggen Pacific Southwest has hired a Los Angeles-based advertising agency, Pitch, that "will launch a strategic positioning of the long-standing Pacific Northwest grocery chain as it moves into new markets in Southern California, Arizona and Nevada ... Pitch will bring the Haggen brand to life in these new markets with a campaign launching in the first half of the year across a wide range of media including television, radio, outdoor, print, in-store, digital media, direct, experiential and social."

    Haggen, which until recently had just 18 stores in the Pacific Northwest, has grown from 18 to 164 stores with the acquisition of stores that needed to be divested for competitive reasons with the purchase of Safeway by Albertsons.

    • The Milwaukee Business Journal reports that "grocery chain Roundy's Inc. will open its newest Mariano's location Tuesday in Evergreen Park, Ill., to serve nearby south Chicago neighborhoods, the company announced Monday." It will be the 30th Mariano's location for the company.
    KC's View:

    Published on: February 3, 2015

    • The BBC reports that Tesco has reinstated Matt Simister as group food sourcing director. Simister had been suspended while the retailer conducted an internal investigation into profit and cost misstatements, but Tesco CEO Dave Lewis said in an email that Simister had been cleared of all culpability.

    Lewis said, "During our work it became clear that Matt, in fact, worked tirelessly to resolve the issues we faced. Matt is one of our most capable leaders, and I am confident his leadership will support our agenda in commercial going forward. Finally, Matt's conduct and contribution during our investigation was exemplary and I'd like to personally thank him for that."

    Meanwhile Tesco also announced management changes. The BBC writes that "Jill Easterbrook, who had been chief customer officer, will now lead the business transformation programme. Robin Terrell, the former multichannel director who was acting head of UK, is now head of customer, while clothing boss Jason Tarry has been appointed as the head of commercial for the UK and the group."
    KC's View:

    Published on: February 3, 2015

    ...will return.
    KC's View: