Category Archives: Marketing

Open letter to Europcar

In the year through November 2014 I had rented cars 24 times with Europcar. I don’t have the exact figure for the last 4 years but it must have exceeded ~60 times.

A few days ago I received the email below from Europcar Loyalty Programs announcing me that I had been granted the Privilege Elite VIP card (the highest in the scale, see below).

Europcar's email

Europcar’s email with the news of being granted the Privilege Elite VIP card.

See below the different cards in the Loyalty Program:

Europcar's fidelity program cards.

Europcar’s fidelity program cards.

See my response to that offer:

My response to Europcar's email.

My response to Europcar’s email.

I am pretty sure this letter will not trigger any change in Europcar’s commercial policy. But I wanted to show them how much I value their commercial policy.

Side note: since November I moved houses. I have not cared about notifying Europcar about the change. That card will be lost somewhere. I don’t care. That is my fidelity and loyalty to Europcar.

On the other hand, I am also fairly sure that at some point Sixt will charge me a similar stupid concept, I will then move to another company, no problem.

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Advertising in this blog

I started this blog in February 2010 as theblogbyjavier.wordpress.com . Sometime later I purchased an upgrade from WordPress acquiring the domain theblogbyjavier.com (initially for 25 $ per year, a bit expensive, though comfortable), that is why you don’t see the wordpress even if the blog is hosted in WordPress.com .

Among the conditions of WordPress to provide free hosting is that no advertising shall be included in the blog. However, you might have seen some advertisements at the bottom of the posts along these years. “How can that be?” When WordPress mentions no advertising, that means no ads included by the blogger (i.e. me), but WordPress has been indeed including ads from time to time. This is made if the blogger is not purchasing the option “No Ads“, for 30$ per year. I did not purchase it.

Some weeks ago I received an inquiry from a British advertising agency asking whether I would be interested in selling some advertising space. I knew it was against WordPress conditions and this blog is not aimed at being a profitable operation, thus I would not accept the offer. Nevertheless, I exchanged a couple of emails with the agent to know more about the proposal.

The offer consisted of including a link behind a word in one of my blog posts (a single word in a single post). The link would direct the reader to the advertised company. This is what they call unobtrusive advertising (it is funny that at the same time, a Spanish leading blogger, Enrique Dans, also wrote a post criticizing this kind of advertising practices in ¿En pleno 2012 y aún con estas tonterías? – in Spanish).

The proposal for that single link exceeded 100 $. This surprised me. I had previously researched how much one could expect to earn via Google AdSense depending on the traffic of a website, and the order of magnitude for a blog with the traffic of this one was below 100 $ per year.

Once I had left the offer aside, I took a look again about advertising possibilities within WordPress conditions, and I found out about a new program: WordAds.

This beta program had been running for over a year. Bloggers could apply for it and they would be accepted into it if the blog met some conditions. I applied. Few days later I got the confirmation that theblogbyjavier.com was accepted into the program as I announced it in Twitter:

The reader, you, will find some ads at the end of some posts. The same that happened beforehand, as I had not purchased the “No Ads” option. The only difference: now, I will earn some cash out of them. I don’t expect (nor intend) that sum to be big, but it will hopefully pay for the 26$ a year that the domain costs now. I will further comment when I start to see revenues.

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Why do I prefer Coke

Some weeks ago I read an article about why do we prefer Coke over Pepsi by the blogger Farnamstreet (1). It mentioned a marketing initiative by Pepsi some years ago, “The Pepsi Challenge”, in which blind test were organized to see whether consumers preferred one or the other. Pepsi consistently advantaged Coke in the tests.

The article mentions other studies in which it is explained why nevertheless Coke still outsells Pepsi. In the end it seems to be due to the powerful brand Coca Cola has created along history and its association with happiness and satisfaction. This is an extreme case of what Warren Buffett describes as moat:

Definition of ‘Economic Moat’

The competitive advantage that one company has over other companies in the same industry. This term was coined by renowned investor Warren Buffett.

Investopedia explains ‘Economic Moat’

The wider the moat, the larger and more sustainable the competitive advantage. By having a well-known brand name, pricing power and a large portion of market demand, a company with a wide moat possesses characteristics that act as barriers against other companies wanting to enter into the industry.

My preference for Coke

Luca and I did this kind of blind test about 4 years ago when we lived in Madrid. We had heard of these tests and I was sure I could distinguish one from the other.

Normally, I never buy Pepsi (except when you order a “cola” at some place where there is no Coke). For the test we purchased both Pepsi and Coke, and placed them in the fridge for a while. Then I got blinded. Luca took them out of the fridge and poured each in a different glass (same kind of glass) with ice cubes. Then she offered me one glass. I tasted it.

“Ok, I don’t even need to test the other one, this is Pepsi”, I said. Then, I thought “well let’s try the other to confirm my choice”. I tasted the other glass… then I tasted again the first one. I ended up completely lost. I couldn’t tell one from the other. I finally changed my initial decision.

I was wrong in the test. Since then, I have told some friends about the experiment. Most of these friends claim they would indeed distinguish one from the other. They would probably even state that they prefer Coke due to its flavour (of course, I have no friend who prefers Pepsi! Who does?)…

After having done the test, no doubt I continue to buy Coke, but now I am aware that it is partly due to some behavioural trick being played within my mind, the kind of trick explained in the article.

(1) Farnam Street being the street in Omaha where Berkshire Hathaway HQ are located.

NOTE: You may want to read this case by Charlie T. Munger, Berkshire Hathaway vice chairman, about the compounding effects that led to the tremendous success of this carbonated water drink. The essay was part of a lesson he gave at USC Business School in 1994 and appears in his book “Poor Charlie’s Almanack”.

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Filed under Economy, Marketing, Miscellanea

Airbus vs. Boeing, comparison of market forecasts (2011)

Some days ago, John Leahy, Airbus COO Customers, unveiled at a press conference in London the new figures of 2011-30 Airbus’ Global Market Forecast (GMF, PDF 28.8MB).

Last year, I already published a comparison of both Airbus’ and Boeing’s forecasts (Current Market Outlook, CMO, PDF 3.2MB). You can find below the update of such comparison with the latest released figures from both companies.

Comparison of Airbus GMF and Boeing CMO 2011-2030.

Some of last years’ comments still apply:

  • Boeing sees demand for 15% more aircraft with a 21% more value (excluding regional a/c).
  • Boeing continues to play down A380 niche potential (57% less a/c than Airbus’ GMF), though it has increased its Very Large market forecast by 40 a/c, or 7.5% (Did Emirates new order at ILA change their minds?)
  • On the other hand, Boeing forecasts about 600 twin-aisle and 4,000 single-aisle more than Airbus, clearly pointing to its point-to-point strategy.
  • In terms of RPKs (“revenue passenger kilometer”), that is, the number of paying passenger by the distance they are transported, they see a similar future: Airbus forecasts for 2030 12.3 RPKs while Boeing forecasts 13.3 (in trillion).

The main changes from last year’s forecasts are:

  • Both manufacturers have drastically increased their single-aisle forecast: +1,300 a/c in the case of Airbus and +2,200 in the case of Boeing.
  • In general all numbers have been increased: single-aisle (as mentioned above), twin-aisle (between 50-150 more), large aircraft (between 40-80 more), value of aircraft and RPKs… it seems that for commercial aircraft manufacturers not only the crisis is passed but they see a rosy future lying ahead.

Again, I strongly recommend both documents (GMF and CMO) which, differences apart, provide a wealth of information of market dynamics. I am especially happy to have encountered this year again full version of Airbus GMF, not only a short one [PDF, 4.7MB].

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Filed under Aerospace & Defence, Marketing

Modelo de servicio al cliente

Hace unos meses escribí un post comentando los pasos que seguí para cerrar una cuenta bancaria en Ibercaja.

Desde hace unos 3 años empecé a usar ING. Al principio solo una cuenta Naranja, luego una cuenta nómina, otra naranja, bróker naranja, depósitos, etc.

Hoy al contrario que en el post sobre Ibercaja quería comentar algunos de los aspectos que me encantan del servicio de ING.

Comisiones: no hay. Por hacer transferencias, ingresos, por la tarjeta, etc. Nada. Los únicos costes que hay son los de operar en bolsa.

A alguna gente le da miedo el no poder ir a una oficina a quejarse, a solucionar un problema. En primer lugar, decir que en determinados sitios sí hay oficinas de ING. En segundo lugar vendría una pregunta ¿acaso en una oficina de un banco uno recibe un buen trato o te solucionan un problema de forma adecuada? Sin embargo, ejemplos de excelente servicio con ING he tenido varios.

Hubo una vez que quise comprar acciones de determinada compañía de la bolsa de Nueva York, y no estaba disponible en el interfaz de la web del banco. Llamé, tomaron nota, se aseguraron de que la compañía cotizaba en el NYSE y en unas horas estaba dada de alta en su sistema. Incluso se disculpan de antemano por si pasa un día hasta que se encuentre disponible en el sistema. Esta operación la he repetido en numerosas ocasiones.

Con ING eso de llegar tarde al trabajo porque “he pasado por el banco”, o salir entre horas, no existe. Para operaciones normales uno puede llamar a cualquier hora. Bueno casi cualquiera. Recuerdo otra ocasión en que llegué a casa sobre las 20h y tenía varias cosas que hacer. Y las fui haciendo una a una y dejé la llamada a ING para el final. Creo que debí llamar sobre las 22:30. Me atendieron y entonces pedí hacer una operación en bolsa, a lo que la comercial me respondió “lo sentimos, desde hace dos semanas los compañeros de bróker naranja dan servicio solo hasta las 22:00”… solo. Ya me había acostumbrado a eso, a que estuviesen 24/7.

Gratuitamente envían un SMS o email con cada operación que hagas, pagos, transferencias, dividendos recibidos, nóminas recibidas, etc. En una ocasión después de recibir tal SMS con un cargo de una operación que yo no había hecho por 60€ en Brasil, semanas después de después de haber vuelto de las vacaciones. Me dio tiempo a rechazar el cargo antes de que me lo pasaran por la cuenta. Cancelé la tarjeta y nunca tuve que pagar ese dinero.

Cuando debo tomar alguna decisión al respecto de si recibir dividendos en cash o en acciones de una compañía me escriben un SMS o me llaman por teléfono… a Francia si es necesario.

A día de hoy la única vez que no quedé muy satisfecho fue cuando intenté comprar acciones de una compañía del NASDAQ y no pude porque no era del NASDAQ 100. Pero aquello era un problema del producto bróker naranja, no del servicio. De hecho estuve hablando un rato con un comercial sobre ello hasta que dejó la sugerencia por escrito (por supuesto, luego me llegó un email diciendo que habían recogido la sugerencia). A día de hoy, creo que todavía no se puede operar en el NASDAQ, solo en NASDAQ 100.

Una pega que se le puede poner es que ofrezcan un teléfono 901… pero bueno, sabiendo que se puede llamar con la tarifa plana a un teléfono fijo de Las Rozas no hay mayor problema (el mismo teléfono que aparece en el dorso de las tarjetas para el caso de que necesites llamar desde el extranjero).

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Disclaimer: no soy accionista de ING (todavía 😉 ), solo un cliente satisfecho.

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A380, a game-changer

Probably you remember having seen in some magazines ads paid by airlines showing their luxury A380 cabins. Singapore Airlines was the first one in launching this kind of branding campaigns.

According to the definition by the Business Dictionary: Branding aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers.”

Few days ago, I received an email with publicity from a company that operates the A380. As you can see, they go a step beyond: they now use the A380 not only for branding but for advertising a concrete product, a specific flight. In one of the destinations offered you may see a label indicating that the flight is served by an A380.

Ad: flight served by an A380.

From the Wikipedia: Advertising is a form of communication intended to persuade an audience to purchase or take some action upon products, ideas, or services.”

If they use it there must be a reason behind. I have heard from colleagues that, in fact, the companies already operating it in some of their routes are noticing that repeatedly the connections offered by an A380 show higher passenger load factor or occupancy rates than the same connections when offered by a different aircraft.

I have never seen anything like this before. It could have happened when the B-747 entered into service in the 70’s, but I was not here then; I didn’t witness it. It doesn’t happen now; not with the 747 nor with other aircraft. I certainly do not base my buying decisions, when I have to flight within Europe, on whether the airline operates a B-737 or an A320 (maybe I should!). But exactly this is happening in the case of the A380. And airlines are profiting from it.

In a previous post I wrote about the difference in current forecasts for the A380 that Airbus and Boeing report (Boeing has steeply reduced its reported forecast in the past decade). If the appeal of the aircraft continues to bring customers in, we could have a reason to believe that in end the orders figure of A380 maybe rather high. Only time and the market will let us know.

In its website, Airbus dubs the A380 as game-changer. One could expect this when a company is talking about one of its products, however when others are basing its branding and advertising on it, we seem to be really facing a game-changer.

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Impact of an AdWords campaign (cont.)

After my previous post was published, I had a conversation about it and received some comments. These made me think that it could be interesting to comment on the other 2 campaigns to gain more insight about how AdWords works and how useful it can or cannot be. First, let me share some data of the 3 campaigns:

  • Al Andalus club (Rota, Cadiz): had a cost of 29.68€ for 250 clicks, thus 0.12€ per click (CPC). It appeared in the screens 208,520 times. It used 72 words or combination of words, restricted to a circular area about 90km around Rota.
  • Standing Ovation club (Madrid): had a cost of 16.56€ for 59 clicks, thus 0.28€ per click (CPC). It appeared in the screens 166,291 times. It used 49 words or combination of words and was restricted to Madrid region.
  • Blog: had a cost of 51.96€ for 1,410 clicks, thus 0.04€ per click (CPC). It appeared in the screens 3,685,521 times. It used 41 words or combination of words and was not geographically restricted.

Even though I am not an expert in AdWords, from what I have experienced and as you can see above:

  • The more clicks it has the lower the price per click will be.
  • You may set a maximum amount of money you want to spend per day (I normally didn’t spend more than 1.5€ euro per day per campaign), this means that once that amount is reached your campaign is de-activated until the next day (ads won’t appear for some hours).
  • Using more words does not necessarily translate into more clicks. You need to find adequate words, related to the website, so it appears and appears high enough in the web. Also, some words are more expensive than others, though the price varies with the number of clicks.
  • The ads themselves need to be attractive, as it may appear many times but still needs to make people click on it. In that sense, the most successful one was that of Al Andalus (people clicked on it 0.12% of the times it appeared; 3 times more effective than the other 2 campaigns).
  • You need to focus the campaign in the segment you want to target. E.g., I first centered the area for Al Andalus campaign, until I found out that some clicks (consuming campaign money) came from Tanger and other Moroccan cities… I had to move the target area, as no one from Morocco would go to the club on a weekly basis.

I didn’t measure any kind of conversion rate as I am not selling anything through my blog nor could I check how many guests went to Al Andalus or Standing Ovation meetings thanks to ads (I was not attending those clubs); and that would be an extremely interesting indicator for any business.

Finally, my friend got the 75€ from a special offer from Google. In the Iberia in-flight magazine (“Ronda”), I have also seen some months ago codes for 50€ to be used in AdWords campaigns. So, be aware of possible next opportunities and give it a try (and you can always spend some little money as a learning experience – everything is very well explained inside AdWords tool).

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