Dine Brands / IHOP Announces Name Change to IHOb

Dine Brands / IHOP recently announced that they will be changing their name to IHOb, and we have two theories for this recent announcement. The first being that this could all be a marketing gimmick that will be followed by a change in their menu or business model which, depending on the change, might be beneficial to the brand. The other could be more serious—where they are actually moving forward with the name change. IHOP, owned by Dine Brands which also owns Applebee’s, has been relatively flat from a revenue perspective over the past years…. Recently, Dine Brands attempted a bold marketing strategy with Millennials, and ended up failing greatly due to their misunderstanding of the age group. The name change could be a very similar attempt by Dine to break from the struggling numbers they have been seeing over the past few years to satisfy investors.

Unfortunately, if Dine moves forward with a permanent name change of IHOP to IHOb, we believe it will be a truly wasted effort on their part. Anyone that has been to either establishment owned by Dine lately has noticed a drop in overall quality of the restaurants—a direct result of focusing more on cost cutting metrics instead of finding ways to truly be innovative to increase revenue.  Regardless of what you call IHOP, at the end of the day, they are still going to have an overall brand perception issue with the general public, and they will continue to see flat or declining numbers in the upcoming years. For their sake, let’s hope it is just a marketing gimmick. Again, this all sums up another educational lesson at someone else’s expense: to not rely on gimmicks, such as name changes, without a true fundamental change to the business model. A name change is just that—a name change—and it doesn’t fix a true underlying issue.

Target Uses Local Retail Stores As Virtual Warehouses

Over the past few years, Target has become increasingly more innovative to compete against other local brick and mortar stores and Amazon alike… As an example, back in December, they announced a new mobile payments system called “Wallet” that allows customers to quickly pay for items via the mobile application, skipping lines and speeding up the checkout process. Yesterday, Target announced Restock, a nationwide next-day delivery service targeted directly at Amazon Prime Pantry—this is pretty interesting, but not innovative in itself (more of a copycat). What is innovative is that they are essentially using their local stores as a warehouse, and choosing to ship items directly from the store vs. a main warehouse… This method should allow for faster and more cost-effective shipping to consumers, along with taking advantage of millions of dollars of inventory sitting on retail store shelves. As consumers are increasingly shifting to online and more convenient shopping, this shift from Target will allow them to continue to maintain and open new local retail settings while not worrying as much about the impact of in-store food traffic that is causing major retailers such as Sears and JC Penney to close doors at an alarming rate.

This also poses an opportunity for small businesses to think about the way they conduct business as well. Many small businesses struggle with keeping warehouses and retail stores open, as they both typically come with high overhead cost. A strategy similar to what Target has launched, shifting ecommerce delivery from your traditional warehouses to retail shops, may be a more cost-effective path for small businesses that are struggling to keep warehouses open and costs down.

Bertucci’s Files For Bankruptcy

The restaurant industry has faced another blow with Bertucci’s filing for bankruptcy, citing changing climate along with cheaper and faster alternatives as the main reasons for the failing business. But is that really the case? We recently published on strategic innovation and the changing retail environments as organizations focus more on cost reduction vs innovation; this, unfortunately, is another case to add to the long list of failures. Bertucci’s has self-identified faster and less expensive competition as the primary drivers of revenue loss; however, their only noted attempt at remedying the situation was to add a 15-minute lunch option. Is that really innovation, or is it just adding a band aid to cover up the root issue? Both retail and the restaurant industries have been crying foul and claiming new competition and millennial behaviors as the primary drivers of revenue loss. 3SixtySMB believes that it really comes down to true lack of strategic innovation, cost-cutting, and mismanagement at an executive level as the true drivers of revenue loss for both of these industries… With all of this said, it presents a clear advantage for smaller and more nimble startup organizations to break into markets where, for once, giants are failing to serve consumers. However, it has become apparent that it cannot be business as usual, and once a core value proposition is defined, strategic innovation needs a top strategy in order to continuously move the business forward.

https://www.pymnts.com/news/retail/2018/bertuccis-brick-and-mortar-bankruptcy/

The Importance Of Strategic Innovation

Why are icons of yesteryear failing at alarming rates? Some say that it is the introduction of Amazon and Netflix, or Millennial’s becoming more predominant consumers; others say it’s old leadership or old business models. Sure, you can easily point to those as a cause for the decline, but is that really the reason? We believe that there is a fundamental underlying reason these organizations are failing: Strategic Innovations. We wrote not too long ago about how the retail organization has become so calculator driven, and cutting as much cost as possible while completely losing sight of innovation. Looking across some of the most successful organizations today such as, Amazon, Google, Apple, Tesla and others, what they all have in common is that they are all constantly innovating and pushing the ball forward.

Tony Robbins says it best in this great Podcast on strategic innovation: https://open.spotify.com/episode/71sqZXDJQF2C8Wjz7Ec2rN?si=nOCB3pHOS_C9vuKoxzKTWw

Digital Age Of Personal Information

There is a huge debate going on around personal data and how organizations such as Facebook, Apple, and Google use that data…. Let us first say, for better or for worse, that when you agree to the terms and services to use these sites, you agree that they can virtually do anything they want with your data. Furthermore, because most of these services are free, the real cost of admission is your data and your ability to be marketed. We do not necessarily agree with the way organizations use this data, and they absolutely need to do more to protect improper use of it. However, what people forget is that we are still in the infancy of the digital age, and it is almost impossible to predict how one may improperly use personal digital data. Organizations like Facebook, Apple, and Google are all trying harder to protect people’s personal data, but they can never be absolute. Furthermore, let’s not forget that regardless of how organizations “properly” use this data, there are always hackers trying to gain access to this information as well. With all of that said, it is critically important to take your data protection into your own hands and be cautious of how and what data you share with any digital organization (not just Facebook, Apple, and Google). Unfortunately, if you use social media, have a cellphone, or use the internet for that matter, your data will always be at risk the less personal information you share on/with digital entities, the less likely you will have issues in the end.

https://gizmodo.com/these-giant-scrolls-are-the-hellish-user-agreements-you-1825822690

Following The “Sales Taught” Process Isn’t Always A Good Thing

Sales processes are fantastic guidelines to ensure that you are doing the proper things to be successful in your sales career. However, it is important to pay attention to the customer and make on-the-fly modifications to your process as the situation changes. As an example, the other day we had a consultation for some work to be completed around our house, and it was a very uncomfortable process. The sales rep was a 30-year industry professional that at some point in time made the switch to sales… It was clear during this consultation that this rep was using the Sandler Sales Process, taking me down the Sandler Pain Funnel. He was following the process to a tee, which wasn’t the problem. The problem was that he was so focused on the process and the questions within the process, he forgot the most critical item in sales or any customer-facing role: listening. While he was asking questions, he would look to his notebook and scribble notes as I was answering them. But, it became apparent that although he was taking notes, he wasn’t really listening. Instead, he was focusing on the next question in the process. As a result, we found ourselves giving him the exact same information multiple times—information that was shared as part of an answer to a previous question. This grew frustrating overtime because it didn’t just happen once or twice; it got to a point where we were repeating ourselves after every other question.

AOTMP Acquires Blue Hill Research

AOTMP Blue Hill Research

On Wednesday, January 10, 2018, AOTMP entered into an agreement to purchase Blue Hill Research and all of its assets, including existing employees: https://aotmp.com/aotmp-acquires-blue-hill-research. This is an interesting acquisition as AOTMP historically has been 100% focused on the Telecom Expense Management industry practitioners. In contrast, Blue Hill Research has a much wider focus on additional markets and the vendor community. The firm’s coverage includes areas beyond Telecom Expense Management, such as the Internet of Things, Mobility, Enterprise Analytics, Financial Operations, Governance Risk & Compliance, and Legal Technologies; Blue Hill Research clearly has a wider industry focus.  Along with this wider industrial focus, Blue Hill Research also has a strong focus on marketers within the vendor community as a key buyer with a product set to match in areas like marketing content, infographics, Pod and Webcast.

Where Blue Hill Research has a strong vendor focus, AOTMP has a focus on industry practitioners (end-users). There are several ways that AOTMP can approach this acquisition as they merge the two organizations. As an example, over the years, the Telecom Expense Management industry has seen drastic changes and a push to move beyond data & telecommunications expense management. Telecom Expense Management originally started when organizations needed to get a grip on the rising cost of their overall landline communications expenses; they later shifted into data, wireless, and then wireless management. However, massive industry consolidation and fierce competition has essentially commoditized the market, and forced industry players to find the next frontier of industry growth. As part of this dynamic change, some have gone deeper into management, oversight, and procurement of mobile devices. Others have ventured into expanding deeper into IT departments looking to manage overall network assets and expense. As an example, the major industry organization TEMIA recently changed their names from “Telecom” Expense Management Industry Association to “Technology” Expense Management Industry Association. However, the jury is still out on whether this is the right direction or not for the industry as a whole. Some have even questioned the viability of the industry in future years for growth. With all of that said, the Blue Hill Research acquisition now gives AOTMP the flexibility to grow beyond the Telecom Expense Management industry into higher demand, faster paced industries.

Beyond the question of industry, the next area of focus is where to now draw their attention and business model. Again, AOTMP has historically had a focus on educating practitioners, where Blue Hill has been focusing on the vendor community with emphasis on marketers educating around the changing decision-making process in technology. In 2009, the IT industry went through a dramatic change in the way they purchased technology. Before the economic downturn of 2009, most IT departments were given their budget, and they made the decisions on what they thought was best for the overall organization. However, since then, power has shifted to the office of the CFO to make the final overall decisions, forcing the need for stronger ROI and business use-cases as part of the sales process. With this change, even with better business cases, you still ended up with financial decision-makers making decisions on items they have limited knowledge on. Furthermore, line of business who previously were not part of the decision process are now coming to the table with solutions of their own, bringing in IT to the decision-making process last minute. With this now complicated purchasing process, technology providers are struggling with this new buying process, and it’s leading to increased decision-making times and a growing list of lost opportunities. Blue Hill Research directed its attention on creating a research methodology focusing on these key decision-making groups, and helping to educate on the overall technological and financial benefits of a solution, along with guidance on the decision-making process. Integrating Blue Hill’s research methodology gives AOTMP a key advantage to move beyond the practitioners and further into vendor communities. They can do this while widening their focus to issues around the technology decision-making process—an area where traditional research firms seem to struggle in.

In summary, with the Telecom Expense Management industry struggling, the acquisition of Blue Hill Research may prove to be timely. This will ultimately allow AOTMP to expand beyond TEM, while widening its research portfolio and incorporating Blue Hill’s vendor and decision-making education methodology. The question is: what will they really do with the acquired assets?