How to Turn a Brand Around and How to Retain Customers

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Where we go from here. At the New York Times, former Inc. staff writer Darren Dahl has an interesting Q&A with growth consultant and management guru Doug Tatum. (For more on Tatum, see Bo Burlingham's story). The subject, as you might imagine, is the economy, and Tatum outlines various legislative remedies he favors. But, he's also got some practical advice for entrepreneurs. Tatum, the author No Man's Land: What to Do When Your Company is Too Big to Be Small but Too Small to Be Big, suggests that entrepreneurs should simply stop trying to borrow money from banks. Tatum says: "Entrepreneurs have a limited amount of bandwidth, and they have to quit wasting their time chasing the impossible. They need to think about how they can change their business model to become profitable. That's where the capital to grow will come from."

Selling with self-flagellation. Here's a novel advertising campaign: London's Evening Standard newspaper is running billboards that tell the world how bad it is. According to today's Wall Street Journal, the campaign apologizes to customers for "being negative," "losing touch," "being predictable," and "being complacent." The paper was recently bought by a new owner, a former KGB agent, which may partly explain the unconventional strategy. Now that it has beat itself up, the company is launching a second phase of positive advertisements this week with sentiments like, "We promise to listen."

Moving into a haunted office. Is it a smart decision to move into an office space that a previous business quit? The Wall Street Journal suggests asking whether new competition played a role or if customer traffic has declined for some reason. The article also recommends that small business owners consider redefining the space to avoid inheriting memories of the previous business. For more on choosing a location, read on at Inc.com here.

Valleywag.com editor departs, with some choice words for Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. Valleywag editor Owen Thomas will soon leave the gossip site--known for its use of tipsters, leaked memos, and disgruntled employees--for NBC. He talked to Bloggasm, likening the takedown mentality of the Gawker Media site to 90's era Suck.com, which skewered industry insiders until it folded in the bust. Thomas had some insight for CEOs who want to avoid the harsher aspects of the limelight, "They think they're above the fray. They want to be famous, but only in ways they can control--probably like anyone else in the public eye. But there's sort of this delusion in the valley that you can work on a product that touches hundreds of millions of people's lives and then remain completely detached from their interest in you."

Thirty second spot comes to the Web. You may have to get used to watching television-style commercials in between web pages as you read the news or check the weather. Adweek has news of a new advertising format that seems to gaining traction among web publishers, who hope that longer, more intrusive ads will allow them to generate more revenue online. The company behind the format is ShortTail Media, whose founder, David Payne, says that it could replace standard banner ads. (Via Business Insider)

Obama to get tough on antitrust laws Just as the European Union is poised to hit Intel with an antitrust fine this Wednesday, Obama announces that his administration will restore a Clinton-era enforcement policy against corporations that use their market dominance to keep competitors from gaining market share. The New York Times says it's a return to the landmark antitrust suits against Microsoft and Intel in the 90's. The Justice Department is hoping smaller companies from all industries will bring them complaints about larger rivals. The case against Intel was launched in 2000 as a result of complaints from rival semiconductor firm AMD about Intel's use of rebates to computer manufacturers and retailers.

A bird in the hand. The last thing anyone needs right now is to lose ground, so customer retention is more important than ever. And given the cost of acquiring new customers, it's also just a smarter use of your money to focus on the ones you've already got. OPEN Forum has some smart strategies for keeping your current customers loyal, from adding value to soliciting success stories. If you play your cards right, you'll drum up new business through referrals.

Our fourteen favorite inventors. They include the inventors of the Web, the geodesic dome, and bubble wrap. Inc.com has the entire list here.

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Last updated: May 11, 2009




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