December 30, 2008

What’s in a name?

Filed under: Marketing,Uncategorized — aimee @ 12:28 am
Tags: ,

What does the name Kinko’s evoke for you? The name transports me nostalgically to an age of term papers and dissertations. I recall the weary camaraderie at 2 am in Cambridge Square, after the campus printing labs closed, the young staff behind the counter, and the smell of coffee with a hint of desperation. After murmurings in June, FedEx Kinkos confirmed in early December that it was retiring the Kinkos brand for a new name “FedEx Office.” Citing a strategy to serve as an office for traveling professionals and branch office for medium and large companies, and a desire to part with associations of poor customer service and analog technology, the new branding will rollout across the chain in the next 2 years.

FedEx purchased Kinkos in 2004 to take a bite of UPS’s ground shipping business. As Daniel Gross wrote in an article in Slate at the time:

“Putting together a company that derives most of its revenues from sending documents and small packages overnight with a chain of stores where people go to create the sort of documents that need to be sent overnight—résumés, business plans, papers, reports—seems like a brilliant idea. For 1990.”

Revenue from services provided through the Kinkos stores represents roughly 5% of FedEx total, and with no mention of an improved service model or expansion, one wonders if FedEx has shown their true strategy: more convenient shipping centers without the expense of dual branding? And as for the dog-eared but beloved Kinkos brand? Time will tell if retirement benefits FedEx’s office services business. When I think of FedEx I think of shipping, logistics, and reliability. Computerized mechanization that removes any prospect of human error. None of the hand-holding involved in graphic production or small business services…yet. No friendly undergrad behind the counter who knows how to sweet-talk the hulking copier into printing double-sided. I wish the best of luck to FedEx, but admit part of me hopes that Kinkos will return triumphantly like Brett Favre.

This week’s MVP:
The TSA at Hartford-Springfield airport, who greeted me by name and smiled while checking my ID prior to security and throughout the security line. Despite my experience in the airline industry, I almost fell over with surprise. Isn’t it interesting how the use of your name creates a welcoming feeling? While research has shown using a customer’s name and smiling are two drivers of service satisfaction, it was particularly powerful when I was least expecting it- at an airport during the busy holiday season. It cast a warm glow over my entire journey, and I will definitely fly out of Hartford again.

Thoughts and comments? Do you think dropping the Kinkos brand is wise?


December 19, 2008

One small voice in the marketing revolution

Filed under: Marketing — aimee @ 6:46 pm
Tags: , , ,

Forgive the macabre title. Perhaps it is a bit dreary to have death in your url?

The concept for this blog was born last summer when I came across an article in one of the trades (not mentioning any names) extolling the revolutionary trend of “in-person viral marketing.” What is in-person viral marketing? Let’s say you and I are friends, having dinner at a local restaurant. I mention how much I love my new Shaklee organic cleaners. You, in turn, buy those cleaners, love them, and recommend them to a friend. Voila! “In-person viral marketing.”

To borrow a phrase from a popular SNL skit: Seriously? Must we invent new jargon to describe the age-old practice of recommending a product or service to someone we know? Why are we surprised that word-of-mouth is more trusted and powerful than a TV spot? The old model of marketing: top down, you’ll believe what we tell you in our expensive national television campaign, is dead. There is no better example than Chrysler and GM, for whom no amount of spending could convince customers to buy their sub-par, more expensive vehicles.

The purpose of this blog is to study what is emerging. To share examples of companies that win by delivering products and services that delight customers and treat them as human beings. We’ll watch technology, not for technology’s sake, but to note how it enables people to use their networks in new ways. And we’ll keep an eye on trends in how people think, behave, and consume in these interesting times.

Let’s kick off with something fun: what marketing buzzwords/jargon would you most like to see disappear in 2009? Take the online poll: Click here to take survey

And watch the infamous “Really?” skit on SNL courtesy of Hulu here.

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