Thoughts on Digital Identities

I am blessed to be part of an institution which truly values independent thought about how to use modern technologies.  Most of us take the internet for granted, a testament to human adaptability considering that the sites we depend upon didn’t exist 20 years ago.  For instance, I access Google multiple times a day from work, home, and even my phone.  Yet, how often do we take time to consider these modern tools and the implications of this usage?  As part of their Domain of One’s Own Initiative, UMW provides interested students and faculty with the tools and training to better express themselves online.

As part of this training, I had to read several articles about digital identity this week.  One of the authors (Gardner Campbell) proposed that universities provide all students with their own web servers and domain names.  Since it was an assigned reading, I suspect it served as a foundation piece for the Domain of One’s Own project which has many similarities to Campbell’s proposal.  The articles were interesting, but most assumed that everyone would be using the internet and posting information about themselves online.

Is this assumption true?  Would it be a good thing?  Along with the authors of the assigned reading, I enjoy high technology.  I am thoroughly sold on the benefits of the technology for some, but I am not convinced everyone needs an individual digital presence or would benefit from such.  Did the authors consider that over 70% of Americans do not have a bachelor’s degree?

Does a digital presence make sense for those whose life path does not require computer expertise?  I know a fair number of adults who do not own a computer, let alone have the technological skills to manage their own domain.  The internet makes it easy for everyone to publish, but what about those who lack basic proofing skills?  Is it better to have no presence on the web or to have a well-established presence under one’s control that is full of typos, grammatical mistakes, and misspellings?

For those with the skills to maintain a professional web presence, should they write under their own name or under a pseudonym?  While there are many advantages to the freedom to publish on the internet – today’s bloggers tackle many issues the corporate press ignore – publishing one’s opinion may come at a cost.  In today’s environment, there are often many viable applicants for every job opening.  If a potential employer with a differing opinion finds an article while researching the candidate, will this influence which applicants are interviewed?

I certainly do not have the answers to all of these questions.  However, while I see great benefits in controlling one’s social presence for those with the proper skills, I have yet to be convinced this will be a benefit to all.  I still have several years before my own children start posting, but I may recommend that they do so under a pseudonym until they have enough experience to make their own informed decision.

Global Alarmists Predict Meltdown, Get Stuck in Ice

When I was growing up, alarmists were talking about the coming global ice age.  Obviously that never came to pass and the experience has left me skeptical about dramatic claims.  Over the last two decades, some people have been claiming global warming is imminent and that Antarctica will melt away.  I’ve paid attention to their claims and look for articles that provide evidence that either supports or refutes their theories.  A recent example inadvertently epitomizes the risks of publicity.

Some climate change researchers were so convinced their global warming theories were correct, they  chartered a ship to measure the predicted melting ice in Antarctica.  Not only did they find evidence that ice was increasing – the opposite result forecast by their theories – but their ship got stuck in the ice.  From a marketing perspective, that is the worse possible outcome for their cause.  Not only did it provide visible evidence against their theories, but it made them international laughingstocks.

This is a great example of why publicity is risky.  You cannot always control the outcome and you certainly cannot control what others will write.  Good marketers will consider both what could go right and what could go wrong before engaging in risky behavior.

Watch Out Walmart!

Pretend you are a marketing executive at WalMart.  Amazon has been growing very rapidly, in large part because they don’t have to collect sales tax and you do.  However, as Amazon added more distribution centers to more states, they had to start collecting sales tax from many states.  So the competitive playing field is becoming level.  Then you see this:

Amazon is working on drone delivery.  If you live close to one of their distribution centers – and if you live in an urban area the odds are high that you do – Amazon is working on being able to deliver small packages to your house by drone within 30 minutes of your order.  Amazon thinks this is probably 4-5 years away.  Once the bugs are worked out, I expect people will order from Amazon just to have a drone visit.

Once drone delivery is established, I expect their capabilities will improve rapidly.  Between drone delivery and self-driving cars – expected to be available about the same times as the drones – our world is going to change rapidly.  Smart marketers should already be thinking about how these changes will disrupt business.

Promises Matter – Humorous Comparative Advertising

Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield is using humor to make a serious point amongst those shopping for health care insurance in their territory.  Many families have a vital need for health insurance.  This market has always existed, but the size has dramatically increased recently.  The market growth is a direct result of Obamacare’s regulations which caused the cancellation of many existing policies.  At the same time, the government’s mismanagement of their new program has made it very difficult – and often prohibitively expensive – to obtain a health care policy from the government site.

Thus, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield developed a series of ads in their territory pointing out that people can buy health insurance from their working website.  While the ads themselves gently poke fun at Obamacare, there are several not-so-subtle digs at the government.  Wellmark’s ads invite potential customers to go to, clearly differentiating themselves from Obamacare’s not so simple site.  Also, as the ads close, the words “Promises Matter” prominently appear.  This is another way Wellmark is trying to differentiate themselves from Obamacare given President Obama’s false promise that people could keep the insurance that they previously held if they wanted to do so.

All in all, the ads are a creative form of competitive advertising and a good example of how a nimble firm can compete against an bureaucratic organization.

A Mother’s Perspective on Marketing Innovation

Good marketers come up with products that meet consumer needs they don’t even realize they have.  Tide Pods are a great example of how innovation can revolutionize and disrupt a mature industry with a simple, but innovative change that adds value to the consumer.  After discussing this in class, one of my students (Thanks Simone!) sent me a great article showing a mother’s perspective on marketing innovation.

Quotes on Logistics

I wanted to use the quote Amateurs talk about tactics, but professionals study logistics in class today, but couldn’t remember who said it.  I did a quick internet search and found that it was US Marine General Robert Barrow.  The link also turned up a host of other military quotes concerning the value of logistics.  Thanks to Jarhead0321 for putting these together.

“Clearly, logistics is the hard part of fighting a war.”
– Lt. Gen. E. T. Cook, USMC, November 1990

“Gentlemen, the officer who doesn’t know his communications and supply as well as his tactics is totally useless.”
– Gen. George S. Patton, USA

“Bitter experience in war has taught the maxim that the art of war is the art of the logistically feasible.”
– ADM Hyman Rickover, USN

“Forget logistics, you lose.”
– Lt. Gen. Fredrick Franks, USA, 7th Corps Commander, Desert Storm

“Amateurs talk about tactics, but professionals study logistics.”
– Gen. Robert H. Barrow, USMC (Commandant of the Marine Corps) noted in 1980

“I am tempted to make a slightly exaggerated statement: that logistics is all of war-making, except shooting the guns, releasing the bombs, and firing the torpedoes.”
– ADM Lynde D. McCormick, USN

“Because of my wartime experience, I am insistent on the point that logistics know-how must be maintained, that logistic is second to nothing in importance in warfare, that logistic training must be widespread and thorough…”
– VADM Robert B. Carney, USN

“Logistic considerations belong not only in the highest echelons of military planning during the process of preparation for war and for specific wartime operations, but may well become the controlling element with relation to timing and successful operation.”
– VADM Oscar C. Badger, USN

“… in its relationship to strategy, logistics assumes the character of a dynamic force, without which the strategic conception is simply a paper plan.”
– CDR C. Theo Vogelsang, USN

“Logistics is the stuff that if you don’t have enough of, the war will not be won as soon as.”
– General Nathaniel Green, Quartermaster, American Revolutionary Army

“Strategy and tactics provide the scheme for the conduct of military operations, logistics the means therefore.”
– Lt. Col. George C. Thorpe, USMC

“Only a commander who understand logistics can push the military machine to the limits without risking total breakdown.”
– Maj.Gen. Julian Thompson, Royal Marines

“There is nothing more common than to find considerations of supply affecting the strategic lines of a campaign and a war.”
– Carl von Clausevitz

“In modern time it is a poorly qualified strategist or naval commander who is not equipped by training and experience to evaluate logistic factors or to superintend logistic operations.”
– Duncan S. Ballantine, 1947

“The war has been variously termed a war of production and a war of machines. Whatever else it is, so far as the United States is concerned, it is a war of logistics.”
– Fleet ADM Ernest J. King, in a 1946 report to the Secretary of the Navy

“A sound logistics plan is the foundation upon which a war operation should be based. If the necessary minimum of logistics support cannot be given to the combatant forces involved, the operation may fail, or at best be only partially successful.”
– ADM Raymond A. Spruance

“The line between disorder and order lies in logistics…”
– Sun Tzu

“Leaders win through logistics. Vision, sure. Strategy, yes. But when you go to war, you need to have both toilet paper and bullets at the right place at the right time. In other words, you must win through superior logistics.”
– Tom Peters – Rule #3: Leadership Is Confusing As Hell, Fast Company, March 2001

“Logistics sets the campaign’s operational limits.”
– Joint Pub 1: Joint Warfare of the Armed Forces of the United States

“Logistics comprises the means and arrangements which work out the plans of strategy and tactics. Strategy decides where to act; logistics brings the troops to this point.”
– Jomini: Precis de l’ Art de la Guerre. (1838)

“Behind every great leader there was an even greater logistician.”
– M. Cox

“Logistics … as vital to military success as daily food is to daily work.”
– Capt. Alfred Thayer Mahan, Armaments and Arbitration, 1912

“The essence of flexibility is in the mind of the commander; the substance of flexibility is in logistics.”
– RADM Henry Eccles, U.S. Navy

“My logisticians are a humorless lot … they know if my campaign fails, they are the first ones I will slay.”
– Alexander

Origin of Long Island Iced Tea

We were discussing the impact of Prohibition in my Consumer Behavior class Monday.  One of my students (Clara) mentioned that she had heard Long Island Ice Tea was invented during Prohibition to disguise the fact people were transporting and consuming alcohol. I looked it up online and this may be true. It was one of the two origin stories for the drink.  According to legend it was created by “Old Man Bishop” in Kingsport, Tennessee in the 1920s and later refined by his son, Ransom Bishop.

The drink tasted similar to tea, so that part of the name is obvious.  But why would it have been called a Long Island Iced Tea?  Old Man Bishop lived in a  Kingsport community called Long Island.