Monday, December 12, 2016

Watching Your Dolllars (Walk Out the Door)

Specialty Retailers Shrug and Wait to See What Goes Down

Brick and mortar retailers remain under pressure from online retailers, of course, especially as Amazon continues to hone their game: products offered at little or no margin and an almost perfect delivery channel, your gift of instant gratification arriving the day after you hit the order button. Indeed, recent reporting on their Prime service also indicates that Amazon is willing to lose revenue on this service in order to establish that recurring and impulse related relationship with the customers. What amazes me most, though, is that so many brick and mortar stores – many that consumers still like and trust – let these dollars walk out their door in light of this challenge from Amazon, conceding the opportunity for a repeat order or the chance to establish a longer-term relationship that might yield additional revenue.

In 2015 Radio Shack closed almost 1800 stores. Think about that for a second. A store and brand and signage that had economically and visually anchored strip malls in communities across the country, sunk. The demise of these stores, no doubt, was a confluence of events – they certainly weren’t helped by the recession, for example – but also an opportunity for other brick and mortar stores to do an honest assessment of their own customer relationships in a retail landscape being rapidly redefined by perfect experience after perfect experience at Amazon. Why bother to stop by a Radio Shack? They couldn’t answer that simple question. More pointedly, why hadn't management called for the obvious: a simple, dedicated initiative to bring consumers across to I’ve bought a thing or two at RadioShack in the past but, like you, can’t say I ever received a single email communication from them asking or incentivizing another order. What planet where these guys livin’ on? This was 2015, not 2005.

Over the next few years, Amazon's investment in an array of distribution centers dotted across the country – just check the local news or ask your favorite commercial real estate agent – are sure to make brick and mortar a terrible challenge for those retailers who just shrug and wait to see what happens rather than making simple technology enhancements to engage the omni-channel expectations of consumers. They’ll shoulder the burden of rent, real estate, taxes, and staffing headaches while trying to entice modest foot traffic that may never arrive. They'll learn the lessons of Radio Shack as consumers walk away, just like Amazon was hoping.

– Jon Roketenetz

Jon is the CEO of GimmeAnother and founder of 3VERB.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Making Your Life a Bit Easier

Save to Mobile Makes Common Sense for Retailers

It's been a while since my last blog post, but I've got a few new topics on deck and, as always, I'm eager to re-start the conversation, share some ideas, and have a chance to stretch out my writing. Below, find a bit of inspiration for me, a successful 'Save to Mobile' implementation caught in action at, a super-smart online retailer who won't let Amazon take away their orders.

Stay tuned for an upcoming post on how Amazon, other technology companies, and food delivery start-ups are gonna put a terrible hurt on the grocery industry in the next few years.

– Jon Roketenetz

Jon is the CEO of GimmeAnother and founder of 3VERB.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Flashback: Inspiration

From September 2015:

"I wanted to keep that moment and word – inspired – in my pocket as a memento of the feeling that I'm occasionally lucky enough to encounter."

Read the full blog post, featuring Thos. Moser, Joe Henry, and Tom Dowd, here.

– Jon Roketenetz

Jon is the CEO of GimmeAnother and founder of 3VERB.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Right Image: California

Riding Across a Sea of Tall Grass in Solana Beach

In mid-April I had the chance to spend a few days in beautiful, sunny California with the good folks at Walz Caps who make the best cycling caps money can buy. Photo by the incomparable Hannah Stonehouse Hudson. We lopped off the aerobars in Photoshop because that's how we roll at 3VERB: Laurent Fignon-style.

– Jon Roketenetz

Jon is the CEO of GimmeAnother and founder of 3VERB.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Consumer Context

Allow Your Customers Clarity Across Models and Styles

It's incredibly easy for manufacturers to get so caught up in the (important!) minutia of technical specs and brand message that they forget about the obvious. A few years ago, working for a cycling company, we had an epiphany at 3VERB: consumers might just gravitate to a web page that showed all available models, easily compared, side-by-side (or stacked) on a single page along with MSRP. It quickly become the most visited page on the website. That should've been obvious, but it wasn't initially.

Late last year – and I've been wanted to write about it since – I noticed that Boston Acoustics, the renowned speaker company, had fallen into a similar trap so often encouraged by the priority given to dedicated yet segmented product pages in many e-commerce cart systems. Side-tracked also, perhaps, by perfect pictures of their products, they'd lost sight of the obvious: given the 'bookshelf' designation of their A-Series product, consumers might just want to know how the product might actually fit on a bookshelf.

Instead, Exhibit A shows three very different Boston Acoustics speaker models as displayed on the B&H Photo/Audio/Video website without clear definition between each. And, though quite different in physical size and technical characteristics, each was displayed independently at almost the exact same size, pixel to pixel.
Exhibit B shows the speakers again but, this time, redesigned into a single image by 3VERB with just a hint of helpful context to help a consumer understand the differences of size, sound, and price between the models in a simple glance. This is what Boston Acoustics meant me to understand about these product and a real sense of how they might fit into the physical space I have available.
The Point? Boston Acoustics would do well to make this second image (Exhibit B) of all three models – along with the grill/no-grill images they've already supplied – available to their retailers for display on all of the model-specific pages so the consumer has a clear visual distinction and understanding of each model within the context of the others.

What is the obvious image, distinction, or simple story line missing for your products?

– Jon Roketenetz

Jon is the CEO of GimmeAnother and founder of 3VERB.

N.B. Thanks to my pal, JCK, at Anthem Marketing in Chicago for the 'Consumer Context' title; acknowledged.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Right Image: Blurry

Finding Texture and Impression in Culled Photos

I'm always glad to find an image like this in the stack after a shoot where every move has been pre-planned and thoughtfully considered. This is from a shoot we did in Chicago for the menswear/cycling brand DannyShane. For sure, the logo is out of focus and it features little of the product, but it does well to show the product idea and the outer-space quality of the fabric against those green trees. Let's go for a bike ride.

– Jon Roketenetz

Jon is the CEO of GimmeAnother and founder of 3VERB.

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Auburnaire

Tittel Turns out an Ardent, Important Second Effort

In 1988 the Cincinnati band The Auburnaires released Bedtime Stories, on the French label, New Rose. I didn't understand then and don't understand now how, pre-internet, a label based in France and a singular post-punk, funk mash-up from Cincinnati found each other but I'm more and more convinced these days that good art – even rock music – seeks its own path, like water telegraphing across a rafter before it finds its way down your interior wall on the other side of the real leak.

If you search eBay for that Auburnaires vinyl record today, you'll find that most copies are available from England. So, it was an import in its day – out of my price range at Everybody's Records in Cincinnati when I was a kid – and it's an import today, further away from Cincinnati as it ever was and right at home there, I suspect.

I bring this up as I had the good fortune to work on the liner notes for the latest New Sincerity Works record, Nowadays, this past summer and hearing it played back now – all lively and compressed and perfectly mixed by Mike Landis and, especially, as a counterpoint to their first record – I'm certain it's destined for and deserving of a bigger home outside of Ohio, too.

Mike Tittel, the songwriter behind New Sincerity Works, spent time as the touring drummer for the legendary underground outfit The Loud Family in the 1990s, built a studio and a home and a family in the Queen City, then got divorced, tied himself up in personal and career knots, tried to figure himself out, and still managed to assemble a dream team for V2.0 of his band: Bob Nyswonger on bass, Roger Klug and Tom White on guitar, Greg Tudor on drums, to say the very least. By 2014, he had issued the critically acclaimed 44 which chronicled a particularly difficult time in his life, falling apart in real time while a crowd of a friends inched him forward at turns, congratulating him either for the honesty of the emotions at the surface or for simply surviving the crash landing.

His new record, though, catches Tittel at an absolute creative peak, confident in his forward direction and having sharpened his songwriting craftsmanship to a fine point. It brims with a cautious hope from start to finish that edges the listener from one track to the next in a way only really great albums can. From "Dreams Worth Keeping" to "Champion" to "Learning to Walk, " Tittel walks the listener through something that feels a lot like redemption yet is careful to swap out any high-minded preachiness for an influx of urgent, perfect drumming, an unmistakable ‘72 Telecaster, and beautifully washy keyboards.

Before you know it, just five or six songs in, you’ve wandered through the best Side A of any record from a Cincinnati-based band since The Afghan Whigs' 1998 masterwork Gentlemen. Trust me on this, I know my shit.

To wit: The first video from the record (for the title track) starts in the expansive, stark black and white landscape of Iceland before landing back in Cincinnati and falling away at the end with "Don't Walk" countdown timer of a downtown street sign. It’s a perfectly executed window into the rest of the album: half-home, half-away-from home, mid-step, hope mashed with resignation.

With 2014’s 44, Tittel covered the first two stages of grief: attack and decay. Nowadays, it’s clear, is his effort to sustain. In the course of assembling the songs and band that make up this record, Tittel has made an album for the ages, no matter if it ends up in a cut-out-bin in France, in your dreams, erased over on a cassette, or spinning around on your turntable. Don’t miss out.

– Jon Roketenetz

Jon is the CEO of GimmeAnother, founder of 3VERB, and occasional musician.