Business Advice From A Great Industrialist

Here is a “One Minute Wisdom” piece of advice from American industrialist Henry Ford.

A Market is never saturated with a good product, but it is very quickly saturated with a bad one!”

henry-fordThis little bit of wisdom has been forgotten as greed has overtaken and passed intregrity in just about every industry in the world, including our own.  Bad mortgage deals, homes that are beyond one’s affordability, and greedy bank CEO’s and regulators have toppled the banking world.  Failure to remember this industrailist’s advice has permitted foreign automobiles to be preferred over ones made in the US.  But they are not alone.

How about the greed of a peanut processor that destroyed many businesses who had to recall millions of dollars of products?  Even our own gift industry has seen the internet overrun with unscrupulous websites created that provide inferior products, poor or non-existent customer service, and a poor shopping experience.

The gift industry is a valuable one but we must remember Henry Ford’s words if we want to be a long-term industry rather than a flash in the pan.

Not Your Traditional Gift Basket

With all the competition in the gift basket industry, customers are looking for value and something different when making  a purchase more than ever before.  Sending a gift is still an accepted way to express feelings–regardless the occasion.  But that gift has to be more than just an ordinary gift.  That gift has to be special.  It has to speak louder than words.

Our customers have all sorts of options for gifts.  They don’t have to send a gift basket.  They can send flowers, a gift card, a book, a cake, cookies, or any number of other things instead of a gift basket.  If all you offer is a traditional gift basket, you may be left behind.

I can hear you now.  “But I don’t want to have to carry a lot of gift inventory.  This box of cookies that I bought can be used in any gift basket that I create.  Buying more stuff just isn’t practical with today’s economic downturn.”

All of that is true.  But you are a CREATIVE ENTREPRENEUR, aren’t you?  If not, stay in touch with this blog.  Follow its suggestions, and you will become one.

Creative Entrepreneurs think outside the box–and even outside the container.

Let’s start with the box.  We use lots of themed gift boxes in this business.  It’s how you use them that can make all the difference.  You’ll find the Boxco Doctor’s Bag box on just about every gift basket website.  But look at how it’s used.  Some people theme it with Dr. Feelgood.  Others fill it with cookies.  There are those who incorporate a teddy bear.  It can be used for a Get Well gift, a gift to welcome a new doctor to the hospital, a gift to say “Thank You for Being a Great Doctor and Taking Such Good Care Of Me”.   But really thinking outside of the box, it could be used as a housewarming gift filled with move-in necessities and called “Doctor Welcome to the Rescue.”

capTake a look at all those Boxco gift boxes that you have on your shelves.  Put on that Creative Entrepreneur thinking cap and think of other new and exciting uses for them.  In other words, think outside the box!”

Now, let’s take that box of cookies that you bought because it could fit in any gift basket.  Is your Creative Entrepreneur thinking cap still on?  What can you do differently with it?  How can you make it an inexpensive gift of it’s own?  There’s wrapping paper, labels, gift containers and more that can be used.

I could give you suggestions but I’m not the only Creative Entrepreneur online.  You have to be one too!  My purpose is to guide you to the new sparkling, clear water.  Now it’s up to you whether you drink or go back to that comfortable, familiar old watering hole.

So think outside that box and suggest some ideas that you came up with when you put on your Creative Entrepreneur Thinking Cap!  Share your thoughts by adding a comment.

Before You Sell or Recycle Your Computer

Greg Lamb wrote an interesting article in the Christian Science Monitor that should make all of us stop and think before selling or recycling a computer.  In a recent research project, the research team bought 300 used machines from several sources including ebay.  They found that about one-third of them still contained personal or business data on the hard drives.  This was even true of computers recycled by large corporations, hospitals, anhd government service providers. 

The biggest mistake that we can make is to assume that all the files are gone on the hard drive once they’re put in the trash bin and deleted.  The truth is that the “actual data remains intact on the hard drive. There are programs designed to find this data and easily recreate the original information.”

To really erase all the data from a hard drive, you have two choices

  • Totally destroy the hard rvie with a hammer
  • Using software

Two things that don’t work are formatting or partitioning the hard drive which just moves the data around even though Windows warns you that it will be erased.  “There are several free programs that will do a good job of erasing a hard drive,” the article continues. One is an open-source program at www.dban.org.  Two programs that can be purchased are DriveScrubber and Lavasoft’s FileShredder.

Identity thief is more prevalent than ever.  You can help prevent theft of your information by taking the necessary precautions before you sell or recycle that old computer.

Using Psychology to Guide Customer Choices

giftbasketdecoyHave you ever had trouble trying to decide between two different products?   Your customers may be having the same problem.  Using a bit of psychology can help them make up their mind.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota have used brain scans to prove that adding another product, that is very similar but less attractive and priced about the same, will increase the orders for the more attractive of the three products.  A choice between three products seems to increase sales figures more than a choice between two products.  The less appealing product works as a “decoy” makes the choice easier.

In a Journal of Marketing Research article “Trade-off Aversion as an Explanation for the Attraction Effect: A functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study,” Rao (University of Minesota) and co-author William Hedgcock (University of Iowa) explain the reasons for this decoy effect. Volunteers had their brains scanned while they made choices between several sets of equally appealing options as well as choice sets that included a third, somewhat less attractive option. Overall, the presence of the extra, “just okay” possibility systematically increased preference for the better options. The fMRI scans showed that when making a choice between only two, equally preferred options; subjects tended to display irritation because of the difficulty of the choice process. The presence of the third option made the choice process easier and relatively more pleasurable.

How can we use this information in our sales and marketing?

If you have a retail store and want to increase sales for a particular product, you can always offer the product “as is”, offer it beautifully wrapped, and perhaps offer it wrapped along with an add-on.  For example, you have a tea cup.  Display the tea cup alone.   Add a few teabags and wrap in cello with a beautiful bow as a second choice.  Then add tea cookies to the mix for a little higher price.

You can use the same techniques with product offerings on your website as well.

How have you used decoys to increase sales of a higher priced product or gift basket?  If you are receiving this post via email, you can click on the title and go directly to our blog to share your comments.