October 19, 2017

Decatur Arts Festival – Location, Location, Location

Decatur, GA held their arts festival last weekend and did a good job.

Around Atlanta, there are a ton of festivals in the spring – Dogwood Festival, Inman Park Festival, Sweetwater 420 Festival and tons more. They’re great. People are happy, the weather is gorgeous, the art is good, and there are funnel cakes! Decatur, however, does something that the others really don’t – they intertwine the festival with their town center.

Decatur Arts Festival

Decatur Arts Festival

Decatur has a distinctively awesome layout for the Atlanta area. There is a town square full of retail stores, restaurants, music venues, and offices. What’s more, underneath the middle of the area is the most perfectly placed MARTA stop – imagine, a stop where you emerge into an area of bustling activity … stuff you actually want to do. My running comment about the rail system is, “MARTA would be great if the trains went to where people wanted to go” – MARTA and Decatur got this stop right.

So we have a great town square combined with the perfect MARTA stop on top of which the city overlays an arts festival. People were enjoying lunch just steps from vendors. Bands were playing on the central gazebo (man that’s cute). There was a great synergy of the permanent and transient that highlighted the area. Bravo!

So how do they do on the CC: Scorecard? Big points for Enticement. There is something for everyone with the added bonus of a fun and social atmosphere. Because of the multi-faceted aspect of the events, I’ll go ahead and give them good points for Audience as well. The message is simple and obvious to each audience member it reaches… Art Festival in downtown Decatur. Good stuff.

However, Promotions and Connecting weren’t that good as far as I can tell. I found out about the festival initially because I saw a big banner close to Decatur – it was just luck that I was in the area. Although I don’t think they intended it, there was some success through Leveraging. I saw a couple of posts on Facebook from people that were attending and received one phone call abut the event. This was organic viral leveraging – imagine what they could do if they made a concerted effort to harness that.

Success and Simplification are hard things for any festival to address and there were no innovations that I noted in regards to this. It would be interesting to know if they polled businesses afterward to see how much their sales increased, but I’m guessing they didn’t.

The Decatur Arts festival drew me to the town center where I realized all of the restaurants I need to try there. That kind of enticement has long term economic impact and helps to enforce the idea that their town square has a lot of value with and without a festival.

Did anyone else go? What did you think?

McDonald’s McCafe Coffee

McDonald’s McCafe – specifically the Iced Mocha and Iced Latte – are not so bad.

Latte's and Mocha's

Latte's and Mocha's

I am a self proclaimed food snob. When it comes to coffee, my preferences are:

1) Freshly ground Ethiopian Harrar in my cone filter coffee maker
2) The local coffee shop
3) A fancy chain like Starbuck’s
4) Other, just give me something that resembles that delicious nectar of the Gods

That is why, when caffeine deprived and driving back to Atlanta from Florida, I was looking for a Starbuck’s to fuel the journey. Unfortunately, there were none to be found. I finally broke down and went to McDonald’s for Other. I had the chance to try the Iced Mocha and the Iced Latte and they were surprisingly good.

Sure it took 5 times to get the person at the register to understand what I wanted to order (an Iced Mocha and Iced Latte… no half foam, non-fat, blah, blah, blah … just the thing on their menu). I also felt a little guilty ordering after the 8 year old, rural Alabama boy in front of me had just asked his mom, “Why would anyone order coffee in the afternoon? That would be weird.” And, it took 2 employees about 10 minutes at the magic Mcdonald’s one push coffee barista to make the drink – apparently the 4-stirs is a critical part of the process. But the drink was good. An much less expensive than Starbuck’s.

So how does this fit into Community Cultivation? Well, first, McDonald’s is everywhere so they are part of most communities. But let’s get more specific with the CC: Scorecard.

  • Promotions – McDonald’s is promoting the hell out of it, as they do with everything, but with a little tongue and cheek advertising. They know people are gaining a taste for fancy coffee drinks and that the public’s view of them is as a low cost purveyor of fast food. They bridge this gap with delicious shots of their beverages combined with jabs at the “fancy” drink names, discussing how party changes to parte’ and debate transforms into debate’ with this added elegance.
  • Leveraging – not so much in this metric.
  • Audience – Here is the huge one. Companies like Starbuck’s made coffee drinking a widespread part of American culture. Coffee shops and these national chains were capturing the top dollar tiers of the market, but that leaves a lot of room to grow. Not wanting to leave money on the table, companies like McDonald’s and Dunkin Donuts introduced premium coffee to improve their footing on lower dollar tiers and began a push to the middle. Starbuck’s countered with reduced price coffee (Pike Place). So here we are, a battle is brewing (come on, that’s funny) … and McDonald’s is ubiquitous. Who will get the middle?
  • Connect – McDonald’s has a huge budget to promote and they are using all of their channels to try to connect with patrons about their new offering.
  • Entice – good coffee that is cheap and easily found. Enough said.
  • Success – POS data on sales provides great feedback on the effectiveness on the new product line.
  • Simplify – Well, this is not great yet – as witnessed in the 10 minutes it took to get my beverage. They do have the one button magic barista machine which should make this easy, but they need more training. Their inventory already includes coffee, milk, ice, chocolate and caramel so they didn’t increase the number of SKU’s, they just added a new piece of equipment. Not too bad if it adds to the bottom line.

Overall, I think Mcdonald’s might have a winner. Especially considering, with the state of the economy, they are one of the few companies that has increased revenue. In economic-speak, McDonald’s would be considered an inferior good (no offense Ronald, it’s an academic term) where demand increases as patrons’ incomes fall, but if their McCafe’ is viewed as a substitute good that is considered comparable to more expensive offerings by competitors, well that just captures market share. Holla!

Domino’s Pizza Tracker

Domino’s Pizza let’s you not only order online, but track where your order is in the process using their Pizza Tracker. From order placement, prep, bake, box to delivery – patrons can watch as their creation comes to life and is delivered to their door.

Pizza tracker

Let’s face it, online ordering rocks! You get to leisurely peruse the organization’s offering and construct your order then, in the case of food, verify with everyone that you got everything. From the organization’s standpoint, it helps to insure that you don’t forget anything and maximizes their sales dollars. Plus, there it is less likely that your order will get messed up – all of these things score high on the CC: Scorecard for Enticement. Also, by getting your patron to enter the order, you reduce overhead which scores well on Simplifying. Finally, there are easy to track metrics on who is using the solution, how long it takes them to place the order, what pages they linger on, etc., which racks up points for measuring Success.

The pizza tracker adds even more value. It extends the Connection to patrons and improves their experience, giving them a reason to stay on Domino’s website for approximately 30 minutes (or maybe less) while improving their overall experience and – as weird as this is to say about a national chain – helps to form a more intimate bond with the organization.

In my case, I had not ordered from Domino’s in about 5 years, but the commercials advertising their new sandwiches and finally their pasta bowls was too much. I had to give them another shot. After configuring my order, the Pizza Tracker popped up and I was informed that Christopher was personally overseeing my dining enjoyment. The tracker updates automatically without refreshing the screen and I watched Christoper’s progress for about 15 minutes until I was informed that Michael was bringing my meal to me. When the knock came at my door, I opened it and immediately asked, “What’s your name?” The surprised delivery person replied, “Uhhhh, Michael.” Wow.

“Michael, who prepared my order?”

“Ummmm, I think it was Christopher.”

Cool. A confirmation that Domino’s deserve some more Enticement and Connection points. Hell, throw in some Leverage points too because I told about half a dozen people about it.

Now there is some discussion about whether the tracker is legit (link 1 and 2). For all I know, Domino’s determined the average time each step takes and the tracker automatically updates at set increments. It does get employee names right, so there is some kind of interaction. If it isn’t valid, they are at least persistent with the sham, even offering an iPhone app.

What I am interested in is how it really works.  Ideally, when an order comes in, it would generate a tracking number and as the employee goes from stage to stage, they would toggle the status – old school would be a bar code tracker that gets scanned as the food moves along, new school would be a touch screen task list that employees use for each stage. This information would be phenomenal for Success and allow for Domino’s to track employee performance and process speed.

Any Domino’s employees on the prep line want to shed some light on this?