Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Students as Customers

My course CRM is offered in the Spring and we will begin classes this week.  I always do an evaluation of how the course was received and then modify as necessary.  Luckily some elements stand the test year after year as really connecting the material in a practical way to what the students will need now and moving forward.

One of the first classes I always play a substitution game with the students.  What is a customer called in different scenarios.  In a future blog, I will share the results of that session.  But the obvious is first, the students in the class are the customers of the school.  As students of the education systems around the world are.  Some may disagree and think they are products of the system.  Enter in the voice of the customer via Dave Brown from Boy in a Band.  He has composed a harsh criticism of his education through the verses of the song above.  Take a listen.  What reaction do you have? Leave in the comments below? One of his goals was starting a conversation.  Let's help him fulfill that.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Idea Journal - Entry#9 Cookie package Prototype

I am using this post to show examples of both the storyboard technique and the prototype which will be displayed in class.  The storyboard technique is shown here with actual photos instead of the usual hand drawn sketches.  They are easily interchangeable and provide the visual references needed in the storyboard exercise.  The other component is a certain flow of progression and text to guide the viewer to understand how the story unfolds.  In this case, its a how to create a prototype of a Cookie box.  At the same time, the prototype is an often skipped or misunderstood in the pitch process.  But its actual not difficult to do and help to show how a customer would interact with the potential product, how it compares to other products already available by competitors or through alternatives and generally can open up a discussion for improvements and modifications with members of the entrepreneur's team and or investors.

Idea Journal - Entry#8 Mindmap of Cookie Idea Journal using SCAMPER

The mindmap above depicts the use of SCAMPER to create an idea journal on Cookie related business concepts.  This will serve as a visual summary of tasks already performed which shows the mindmaps can be used as a planning tool or as in this case as a tool to reflect on progress.  The image in the center is a cookie that has been bitten into to reflect that we sunk our teeth into the subject matter of Cookie biz.  Then you can see that Ideas and Journal are also imagined using a light bulb and an open book, respectively.  Going clockwise, each of the letters in SCAMPER is addressed as in each of the blog entries as follows:

Where a pretzel represents substituting traditional flavors for crazy flavors; substituting traditional ingredients like milk, eggs and wheat for others to make them more accessible to people with dietary restrictions.

Here we identified how to combine cookies and airlines.  We found the company who has filled this particular niche by becoming a supplier of cookies individually wrapped an perfect for consumption with coffee during a flight.

In 2007, I found a trend emerging of cookies for those in the military.  It seems it was not a fad as I was able to find many companies who are adapting soldier care packages for those serving their country at home and abroad.

To modify, magnify or minimize cookies I found a company who tried to outsize their competition by constructing the world's largest cookie and an oven to cook it in which equated to taking up a football field.  The added modification was it was packaged in $10 portion to promote sale for fundraising purposes.

Cookie decoration has beeen elevated to an art form.  We built on this to see business concepts where the decoration and art part were the basis of generating value for customers.

A core assumption of a cookie is that it is baked.  If we remove the baking, then cookie dough is what remains.  This is a clear trend as well as many offer cookie dough businesses for both cooking later or eating as a gourmet treat as is.

To explore how to innovate the cookie we looked at popular food items like pizza, fantasy solutions for eating in space, added protein concepts that use ground bugs instead of more common flours and also how inputs like kitchen tools, the not so humble cookie cutter could spin out as a new specialized niche.

All this covered in one hand drawn mind map. 

Idea Journal - Entry#7 Reverse or Rearrange Cookies

Coming to the end of SCAMPER. I also want to rearrange the leading question to "what are the World's most unusual (bizarre, weirdest, etc.) cookies?"  Based on this question I certainly uncovered some ways the Cookie business is being rearranged to create unique selling propositions such as:

Forced Relationship between Cookies and Pizza that two leading brands collaborated on creating the Oreo Dessert Pizza available at Pizza Hut locations.

 and another variety 
Hershey's Chocolate and Pizza

A Webshop called Think Geek offers up strange treats like Evil Misfortune Cookes (with mean messages inside, not nice but I guess theirs a niche) which certainly would not be my choice but does fit the weird category.  They also fill the sweet and crunchy cravings of Geeks and Astronauts alike with Astronaut Ice Cream which is freeze dried in single serve packs.

A Company called Bitty

Bugs and Cookies....say what!&%!???... Yes the Bitty Company slogan is "We make delicions, high- protein baked goods flour!"  The subtle hint can be seen in the dot over the "i" in their logo below.

One of their products can be seen below which is called Chocolate Cardumum Cookies with the (hidden extra C for Crickets)

Here is an entry that focuses on the those who actually do enjoy the process of baking their own cookies.  The business of The Cookie Cutter Shop is to provide a wide variety of accessories to the home and professional bakers to perfect the shape of their creations.  Some of their unusual cookie cutters include
Mystical and Medieval Cookie Cutters in shapes of dragons, castles, mermaids, fairies, wands and beyond.
Girls will be Girls Cookie Cutters in shapes of hairbrush, nailpolish, mirror, blowdryer, dresses and crowns.
Men at Work Cookie Cutters in shapes of drills, screwdrivers, ties and suits to appeal to both the blue collar and white collar male.

Many others too.

For a new business idea a Cookie World concept might features some of these recipes like the Anzac, national Cooke of Australia, the Panellet from Spain or even the pepper Cookie, Paprenjaci of Croatia..

Too weird not to mention include:

The Savory Cookie Trend where you the feature is the saltiness instead of the sweetness.

These odd cookie creations were the brainchild of photographer who is described as a women with the look of the perfect 1940's model housewife and baking skills of Tim Burton.

The wacky and wonderful world of Cookies leaves me with many ideas to reflect on which I will do in my next blog featuring a hand-drawn mindmap of my Idea Journal Journey on Cookies for Entry#8, coming soon.

Idea Journal - Entry#6 Eliminate What? from Cookies to Get....

While many people love Cookies, they often are willing to just simply purchase them from someone else because of the time it takes to buy the ingredients, set up the equipment, pre-heat the oven, bake cookies a dozen at a time and clean up afterwards.  However, there are businesses that could offer ways to reduce these steps to save both time and effort for different types of customers, both consumers and re-sellers.

One such company is FatBoy's Outrageous Cookie Dough catering to those who seek "No Messy recipes to slave over for hours" (problem) --- solution "All you have to do is open the box, break apart the cookies and bake to unlock the magic within."  They offer sales through health food stores like Whole Foods and Garden of Eden Gourment as well as through regular grocery stores like FoodTown.  Directly the product can be bought online and for individual household consumption or for fundraising purposes.

Other models of cookie companies trying to Eliminate to innovate include:

How about not having to cook at all...The Cooke Dough Cafe focuses on edible, gourmet cookie dough you eat as is.  

Cookie dough sales may seem odd to those new to this industry segment this article featured on Bloomberg Business Week way back in 2001 even refers to it as "One Tough Cookie of a Market"

In the article it highlights top competitors including... Pillsbury and Otis Spunkmeyer

Friday, October 3, 2014

Idea Journal - Entry#5 Put to Another Use ways to use an art form...

A step by step guide to creating Pop Art Cookies like Semi Sweet Blogger Mike

Or building on a skill set in cookie baking and decorating, the website Crafty offers online classes with confectionery artists like Autumn Carpenter.

The website has a transparency feature which shows how many students have signed up for various art courses. The cookie decorating one had over 5000 people sign up for the course which costs $34.99.  The facebook pictures of many of the customers are also present so its easier to create a profile of this segment interested in this niche.

Idea Journal - Entry#4 Modifying Cookies

What business bakes the biggest cookies....

I can change the cookie to be as big as a football field may have been the inspiration for the Immaculate Cookie Company in Flat Rock, NC, USA....

This is just a series of a long list of adventure seeking spirit of the entrepreneur behind the brand and his team who keep imaging what magic they can work with the skills and ingredients they have.  With an ever expanding arrays of ways to modify their own products and service to the community. The record breaking cookie was sold in special boxes in slices and raised $20,000 for the Folk Artist's Foundation which fused talent and special interests.