Saturday, February 26, 2005

Winning against WalMart ..............................

Seth Godin's recent post got me thinking (which is always a dangerous thing!)

WalMart is often portrayed as the evil empire... selling at such low cost that it hurts suppliers as well as the local retailers that try to compete with WalMart. So, in my most humble fashion, I will now provide the answer to each of these problems (and maybe shine some light on the "WalMart experience" that consumers everywhere have made number 1).

WalMart Suppliers:
Don't become a supplier to WalMart and assume that you will operate "business as usual". WalMart will require you to cut your costs, improve your quality and delivery your products in a manner that suits their distribution system (e.g. RFID labels and inkjet barcodes). In exchange, you will get unit volumes beyond your wildest dreams! Of course, this sounds like the classic "deal with the devil", but it doesn't have to be. You can use the volume to drive a more cost effective organization which will help you deliver other products, perhaps to WalMart, but certainly to other retailers and grow your business. Get out of the mindset that you must get 20%, 30% or 40% margin to be successful. Focus on providing value while controlling costs and you will have a stronger business at 10% margin. This takes courage, but if you want to play the "WalMart game", you are going to have to "suck it up"!

WalMart Competitors / Retailers:
WalMart sells the mass market, high volume products. There are few companies that are going to be able to compete with them directly simply because of their incredible distribution reach and buying power. It is more important to be DIFFFERENT than to be less expensive.

Target is a good example of this. Compared to WalMart, Target offers (some) products that are more stylish and unique while still providing products at a reasonably low price. They have sidestepped the WalMart express and are doing well for their customers.

What about the small retailers, who can't even come close on price? You have to be even MORE DIFFERENT! What can you do that WalMart can't? Can you find new products that particularly suit your customers? How about taking your strongest niche (i.e. different and unique) products and extend your reach to the rest of the world via the internet?

I recently read that the number of books that you must sell to be considered a "best seller" is going down due to the wide selection of books. offers so many books that they have become a completely different entity than the "online version of a local bookstore" that everyone originally thought it would be. And, in the process, they have made it possible for niche books to be sold around the world!

In addition, Amazon is expanding beyond books into almost anything that you can imagine. (I exaggerated a bit, but you get the idea.) Clearly there are more opportunities out there ... if you are willing to find them and go after them!

You might ask, "How does this relate to your note card business?"
Well, I am not going to be selling to WalMart, or any other "mass merchant". I have made the conscious decision to sell my limited edition note cards only via the web and specialty retailers. This is not exactly unproven territory. Ty sold BeanieBabies through small shops with legendary success and if I can grow to even 1/10th of that size I will probably be happy.

Well, maybe not completely happy. There always needs to be another challenge !

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Seth Godin's Edgecraft process ... in a VISUAL format !

I thoroughly enjoy Seth's work and have followed the development of his marketing insights from Permission Marketing to the IdeaVirus to the Purple Cow and then Free Prize Inside. It is in the last book, Free Prize Inside, that Seth lays out the process he calls "Edgecraft", or "How to Make a Purple Cow". If you have not read these books, I highly recommend them!

Since I am very visually oriented (as are alot of people), I find it helpful to lay things out in diagrams so as I began thinking about the Edgecraft process for my company I tried to figure out how it would "look".

The linked file below is the result !

Dave Wheeler's Visual Presentation Model - based on Seth Godin's Edgecraft

It is a very simple model, based on an Excel spreadsheet and a "Radar" graph, but I find that is "shows the edges" (literally). The process of "finding the edges" is also useful since it helps you see what is important and where you need to improve (to show more "edge" than your competition).

If anyone has any questions or comments, please let me know. There is probably more explanation needed, but I will wait to see what you think.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Why should we BREAK ALL THE RULES ?

Have you ever wondered "Why should we BREAK ALL THE RULES ?"

What is the point?

Kathy Sierra brings up some good points about "Rules" in her blog (see link below):

Inspired by her comments, I put together the attached diagrams: (link to PDF file below) Cycle of Rules

I find it an interesting analogy to think of rules as signposts or trees in the forest that help keep you on the right path. Of course if there are too many trees or the signposts turn into fences, then you will lose sight of new opportunities!

Don't lose sight of the forest for the trees ... especially if your goal is no longer on your current path through the woods!

d.Mark "Dave" Wheeler

Also check out ...

Monday, February 07, 2005

What makes a good BLOG? Part 2

Hugh Macleod's blog adds the following on the topic:

The reason Jeff Jarvis' blog is one of the most widely read in the world is exactly for those reasons:
-He's been doing it longer than most.

-The quality of his writing is better than most.
-The quantity of his output is greater than most.

Hugh definitely "gets it" when it comes to blogging and his reputation in the blogsphere shows it. The key is writing about what you feel is important, writing it well and, as they say, "the world will beat a path to your door" ... in 5-10 years or so. (It is not an overnight process!)

Keep up the good work Hugh !

Friday, February 04, 2005

If you are at all interested in what one of the largest, most highly regarded marketing firms is doing, you might want to check out the following article about P&G's acquisition of Gillette. (see link below)

It has lots of background and industry information as well as the following paragraph:

Meanwhile, the complexity of advertising, marketing and distributing branded consumer goods has soared, further pushing up costs. P&G is the world's biggest advertiser, with a budget of around $3 billion last year. A decade ago, 90% of its global advertising spending went on television. Today, for some products only about a quarter of the budget is spent on television. The audience for traditional media is fragmenting, making consumers harder and more expensive to reach. So, along with other consumer-goods companies, P&G is finding that so-called "below-the-line" forms of marketing, such as in-store promotions, posters, coupons and sponsorship, are often more effective.

Clearly there are many more "below-the-line" forms of marketing than are listed here... Word-of-Mouth, Internet and others... but the really interesting point of all this is that as P&G is finding their market more and more fragmented (and expensive to serve), that same fragmentation is boosting internet companies like Amazon as well as all the authors of books with limit sales (which would never have been picked up by a book chain).

How does this tie into P&G? And if they are on the "book chain" side with an old business model, what is the corresponding "Amazon" entity for their markets? How do they deal with the changes in marketing that are happening?

Stay tuned. (I might not have all the answers, but hopefully someone who reads this WILL!)

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Another GREAT Idea from Seth Godin ....

If you are currently in the job market, in any way, shape or form, you owe it to yourself to check out Seth's comments (in 3 parts, links below).

Now that Seth has thrown down the challenge for you .... how are you going to make yourself "Purple" (as in "Purple Cow", the title of Seth's book, which I assume you have read). He has some hints (in a general business sense) in his followup book, "Free Prize Inside" which I also highly recommend!

Happy Groundhog Day ! ! ! !