Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Don't Just Drive on Through!!

I was driving through McDonalds the other day – not my healthiest choice of the week, but whatever – and I was a bit bored. I personally don’t think it was in an ADD kinda way…maybe more that I realized that there wasn’t any advertising in the drive thru. On one hand, I’m sure McDonalds is like “He’s already ordered his food and I don’t really want him to get to the first window and change his order so I can’t really sell him anything while he’s waiting.” But I’m sitting there thinking ...they know exactly how long the average customer sits in line…from ordering to paying to picking up food…so they know exactly how much time they have to hit me with targeted advertising …they know exactly what I ordered...so they know what I like and what other food I might like for next time …they know how much food I ordered…so they can guesstimate how many people are probably in the car…so if I order 2 extra value meals and 2 happy meals with a side of dog biscuits…they know I’m probably in a mini van with some kids Basically, they have enough…maybe more than enough…info to target some advertising at me and meet 2 needs – they can entertain me, which give me value and for families, they can entertain the kids which is of immense value…and they can build their brands or the brands of their partners. Think about it…you’re at McDonalds and their drive through can hold 4 cars from the order area up to the window where you get your food. McDonalds knows that it takes them an average of 3 minutes to get your food ready. Break the drive through up into intentional slots for cars – put lines where you want each car to stop – and put 2 flatscreens at each spot – one on either side. Based on their profile of the customer, they can target content at you. For instance – that family that picked up tons of food – show them the trailer for the next Disney movie – you know, the one that has the toy in the happy meal they just bought…co branding. The trailer would play on the screen where they are sitting and increment as they drive forward…using either sensors or timers…or even easier, trigger it to play on the next screen when any order is fulfilled at the order fulfillment window. BAM. That’s easy to do…not super expensive…delivers value to the customers by entertaining them in otherwise unused time, provides value to McD’s partners by advertising and is a win for McD’s because they now have an edge over the competition because their drive through is fun…building their brand as well. It’s probably also cheaper for them to have people go through the drive thru vs come in to the store…so driving traffic through the more profitable drive thru is also a bonus. That’s interesting…and kind of obvious. I think it should be done…and it will make some news which is always good…but it’s not breakthrough. That’s something that any brand manager who has gone through a drive thru has probably realized/pitched. I want more…we are high tech…let’s do this. What if on each TV, there was a Kinect device which is basically a series of high tech web cams that can track body and eye movements to allow users to interact with the video content. Now customers can interact with the content…they can flip through different “applications” – movie trailers – upcoming happy meal toys – angry birds space (a quick round of asteroid smashing anyone?) – feedback (allow customers to record video feedback while in the drive thru “can’t wait to nom on the new doritos taco…aaahhh!!”) – social media (allow customers to take crazy pics that you can post directly to your facebook) etc etc… Then let customers create an account…so when THEY come through the drive through (maybe by registering the vehicle license plate #?) their favorite app comes right up…they are right back in the middle of level 5 of angry birds…they can post immediately to facebook. It’s like a frequent buyer program…but incentivized by social media and apps vs free cheeseburgerz. Mobile Apps would also complement this experience…then when a customer drives through the drive through, you can recognize them as a frequent customer based on the location services on their phone (a la Square Card Case) and say “Hey Kyle, do you want to order another #4 with extra large fries, super size diet coke and a brownie?” They can track loyalty points earned on the mobile app…”check in” at different locations (make it competitive!) register a gift card (like starbucks – btw…their card-on-the-iphone is brilliant!), post updates to social media, play embedded games etc. All of this could be piloted relatively inexpensively by installing a few monitors and associated hardware, developing a quick app or two and really exploring the potential social integration points that build the brand in a desired way. There are many ways this effort could be customized to meet a brand’s specific needs by digging in with probing questions such as… “are we trying to advertise our brand directly in the drive thru?” “are we trying to make McD’s a fun experience and thus increase the frequency of visits by leveraging social?” “are we trying to build our partner’s brands by advertising for them (movies, cartoons, etc)?” “is this a part of a larger rebranding effort for our chain?” “are we trying to shift volume from in-store to drive thru?” etc etc…

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Go Fly a Plane

I was on the way back home after completing my California Motorcycle Safety Basic Rider Course which included the test for my license (I passed!) and I saw several planes flying overhead...presumably on their way to the Camarillo Airport when it hit me (no, not the plane)...that guy/gal flying that plane probably wasn't born knowing how to fly a plane. They learned how to fly it. One day...they said "I want to fly planes" and took steps to make it happen. Sounds basic but it really applies to anything in life. Do you enjoy watching people race cars on TV and think it would be a blast? Go learn how and do it. I'm not saying that you should just drive fast on the freeway and call it a day. I'm saying get off your duff and go be a racer. Maybe you like watching hunting or really get pumped reading about the latest team to win the national paintball league tourney...you can do it! yes you. yes, in this life. Nobody was born knowing how to do much of anything more than how to suck on their mom to get some milk and maybe a few other things. But they sure as heck didn't pop out knowing how to SCUBA dive, I can assure you of that. Just a few minutes ago, I finished reading "Into Thin Air" by John Krakauer which details a tragic Everest Expedition where 5 lives were lost. I realized several years ago that Summits of mountains + my fear of heights = not a fun experience as proved on a Mt Whitney attempt and a Full Day Half Dome hike. I pressed my limits and found that it was just not pleasurable nor did it provide for meaningful personal growth...it's just not my bag and I'm ok with that BUT! Everest and the details of the adventure...where John dug into the minutiae of why people take on the mountain was relevant. I found it interesting to read about how some men save up somewhere around $70k to pay for a spot on a guided trip, then head out there for somewhere around 2 months to take on the beast of a mountain that is Everest. It's a bit nutty. you can die. 1 out of 7 died in '96 which was below average compared to other years. It's not logical...but people do it. I guess what stuck...the lesson that I want to walk away with from the plane flying overhead and this book is that if you want to do something - anything on this earth...just set your mind to it then take actionable steps towards it and keep on doing that and you'll eventually get there. The converse is also true - that if you dont take actionable steps towards your goals...you wont get there. there isnt a magic elevator or even an escalator around the corner that will take you there if you somehow dont do it on your own (how un-american, right?)...you actually have to take steps towards your goals to get there. But I challenge you (and me) to remember your dreams first. Dig up those things you thought you could never do - the "I want to be an astronaut" or the "I want to SCUBA dive the great barrier reef" or maybe the "I want to hitchhike across Europe"...the things you thought you had to grow out of - dust that shit off...then pick one and start taking steps towards it. Start walking towards it...for we must walk before we run and God built you to dream big :D

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Stay passionate. Stay focused. (Stay foolish)

Such catchy words...so easy to say. What's crazy about life is that it's so easy to just live life. In the great Amurica, it oftentimes feels as though we are alive and living with the sole purpose of getting through life. Like it's one big race and we are all trying to pile on as much "stuff" - whether it be experiences, money, gadgets or otherwise - and just run. Ok, so stop and smell the roses, right? NO. I vehemently disagree.
I personally believe that we are all here for a reason. We go through the thing that we do which help to make us the people that we are for a reason. A purpose-built tool. But we are more than tools in that tools just sit on the tool board or in the tool box until someone else pulls them out. We have identity. We are here to live lives of intention...to make a conscious decision to stay passionate...stay focused...and especially to stay foolish. Those things don't happen by accident. Passion...to me, this is when I'm "playing" and I'm not talking about video games or soccer. I read an article the other day that defined play -
Play is a state of mind. I've heard it described as a visceral form of learning. It really doesn't matter what the activity is, it's the way you approach the activity that makes it play.
Yeah...that's play. That's living a life of passion. It's foreign to us. I often use the word play when talking about work scenarios. Earlier today, I talked about how a 20% contingency budget for a project I'm working on is "money for the project team to play with". I'm misunderstood but I'm ok with that. In fact, I think it actually trips me up when people understand what I'm saying the first time. Passion is being who you are and seeking to find the place in the world/web/whatever where YOU fit. Where you plug in. That's one of the great things about "the valley" to me. It's filled with tons of kids who took something they were passionate about and made it a reality. It started with the apps/sites/tools/devices and carried on all the way through the way they built their teams - "dude, I'm totally going to hire you when I make a million on this!" - to the way they design their offices and on and on.
Living a life of passion is when we don't accept compromise. Staying relentlessly focused on finding the best fit for you in this world means that you may actually get there. It's a tough haul but better than the alternative of accepting what the world has to offer and just grinding it out. Focused...obvious...but not in the traditional sense. When I think focused, I think about drive...about someone who can sort through the BS in this world and find the nuggets that reflect the reality that "should" be. Reading through news articles to find things of worth...sifting through people and finding people who are genuine and truly worth investing in. It goes beyond just a filter though. Focus is to stay sighted in on that ever elusive ideal state and continually seeking to refine it as more data is added to your filter. What? Yeah, so imagine that at age 5, you wanted to be an astronaut. Who didnt, right? As you went to school, you learned that you really weren't so hot at that math thing which as it turns out is pretty darn important for astronauts. So you refine your goal - you want to be a pilot. Still flying up in the air...still need to know math...but more your speed. That works for you until you get into college...when you realize that you are actually more interested in running a skydiving school and flying those planes. So the cone of uncertainty narrows as you continue to refine your goal...staying focused not on "getting a job" or "making lots of money"...but on relentlessly pursuing and focusing on what you are passionate about.
Filter through the junk in life...and in the world to find what you want. To find out where you fit. Foolish...my favorite. Foolish is that element of you that I have trouble putting my finger on. Foolish is doing that thing that you feel is right even though everyone else thinks it's crazy. You have something unique inside that only you can see. You dream things that dont make sense to everyone. Which is where this gets difficult. If it only makes sense to you, it's not going to be popular. Not everyone is going to like it. They may even hate it and laugh at you for spending so much time/money/effort doing it. I have always wanted to fiberglass body panels for a car as a project and just create something from scratch. I have an artistic side that I dont frequently tap but I want to. This urge doesnt make sense to the mere mortals that walk this earth...just to me. I dont have a goal of starting a company creating custom body panels or fixing cars or even making something that I'll eventually be able to drive down the street. This urge doesnt make sense in most ways...but I have decided that it truly is something I'm passionate about so I'm going to do it. Baby steps...starting to research resins and fabrics...trying to reconcile those things with my experiments with fiberglassing in the past...and just doing it. Foolish is being true to yourself in the face of the world laughing. I step back and give the world a big F-U and remind myself that I'm not doing this for them...I'm doing it because this is what I truly feel I'm built for. Why I'm built this way? I'll have to save that for another rant on life...