Apple and its iconic leader Steve Jobs rank near the top of any list of great innovators. Dating back to the introduction of the Macintosh on Super Bowl Sunday 1984 – and the Orwellian ad directed by Ridley Scott – continuing through the iPod, iMac and now iPad… Apple keeps churning out the hits and changing industries.
After Amazon shook the publishing world with its Kindle electronic reader, most pundits felt it was a matter of time before Apple would introduce a better device. It took two years before last week’s announcement of a “truly magical product” that comes in full color, allows Internet access, works with all 140,000 Apps – and this is just version 1.0.
Of course, there’s a ‘dark side’ of any great story… and this one impacts consumers. Kindle pricing on new releases is $10 – a tremendous savings compared to buying the hardback; however, within days of the iPads’ introduction, Macmillan said it will increase e-book prices to $13-$15.
Amazon reacted by pulling Macmillan titles: “We have expressed our strong disagreement and the seriousness of our disagreement by temporarily ceasing the sale of all Macmillan titles. Ultimately, however, we will have to capitulate and accept Macmillan’s terms.”
So going forward, Macmillan will set prices and pay Amazon a 30 percent commission. Not surprisingly, that’s the agreement Apple made with major publishers. (And you thought all of the mystery and drama only happens inside the pages!)
Many smaller communities – even those in the suburbs of a big city like Houston – have weekly newspapers that cover the local scene…from new business openings, to city council updates, to high school sports. As major dailies across the country struggle for survival, local weeklies continue to arrive in mailboxes with pictures of the latest Rotary luncheon speakers or features on the latest resident to turn 100.
One reason the local angle resonates with readers is there’s something special about seeing a story on a restaurant you frequent or recognizing the photo of your fifth grader’s friend who finished as runner-up in the spelling bee. That’s much more personable than traveling on business and picking up the Omaha World-Herald or Memphis Commercial Appeal – or even reading about the politics of your nearest metropolitan area.
Residents of a community share a bond – a oneness – that’s somewhat like supporting a high school football team. All week long kids separate into smaller social groups and pursue individual interests, but starting with the Friday afternoon pep rally, they join together in a unified front aimed squarely at defeating their archrivals on the other side of the field.
There is an opportunity in your business to capitalize on that same camaraderie. Becoming the local expert positions you in a unique way to stand out from competitors. Identifying the bullet points of your unique knowledge base and communicating it in written pieces and speaking platforms positions you for success. When people think, “Wow, she really knows her stuff,” you’re building a relationship of trust that exceeds even a glowing front page article. (If your company is global, you would do well to think of situations where you can act local!)
Some say how you act as an adult is determined when you are a child. If that’s the case, I’m amazed many leaders have forgotten one of the best lessons they learned at a young age. It’s something one of my business mentors convinced me to adopt as a habit long ago: send a hand-written thank you note whenever you have the opportunity.
Of course, in this instantaneous world, it’s easier to type an e-mail, leave a voice mail or key in a text. Do you even remember the last time someone sent you a hand-written thank you note? Do you have any idea the last time you sent one to an acquaintance? I receive them so rarely that I keep them in a shoebox.
Rick Baker is the president of the AT&T Cotton Bowl. Following every meeting with him during my previous career more than a decade ago – whether for a casual lunch or a formal business session – I received a personalized thank you note in the mail. One time I asked about the process. He carries the notes in his car, he told me, and as soon as the meeting ends he writes them. When he returns to the office, his assistant hands him the address, which he writes on the envelope. She adds a stamp and sticks them in the outgoing mail. Three minutes of his time made great impressions on me…and likely everyone else he meets.