It happens here: Consumer-centric Innovation in Charlotte and beyond


Local reporter traces that text donation to Haiti by Nheeda Enriquez

At this point, everyone’s heard about the new text-message way to support disaster relief in Haiti.  By making donations so quick and easy (literally 8 taps on my phone “Haiti” and “Yes”  It’s 10, if you count hitting “send”) wireless providers have raised record amounts for the Red Cross at unprecedented speed.

Local grocer Harris Teeter has also been using its lower-tech way to raise money at the register for the cause.

What these both have in common is that donations occur at the point of thought, removing the consumer’s barriers of inconvenience.  No need to sit down to write (and mail) a check or enter in a bunch of credit card information.

And today, local WFAE reporter Julie Rose told us how those donations actually make it to relief teams on the ground, disputing the myth that the money is taking 90 days to be useful.

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Reverse Engineering a Fantasy Football draft party by Nheeda Enriquez

In honor of the NFL season kicking off this week, I highlight Scott Graf’s amusing story on WFAE about local bars that host groups who conduct their fantasy football drafts.  Though I’m not an active fantasy sports fan myself, I know plenty of people who are, and I’ve always found this market and the tons of products that target them fascinating.

I do, however, like to fantasize about the conversations that marketing and development groups have when they’re trying to decide whether or not to try something a little more innovative and counter to what’s commonly done.  Can you imagine what that Jetblue meeting was like when they were deciding if they should try its “All-you-can-Jet ” unlimited travel pass?

It probably wasn’t quite as hard to convince the management of Midtown Sundries or Hickory Tavern to create special packages for fantasy football leagues, it’s still fun to reverse engineer what they might have been thinking, and then use that to inspire other ideas.

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Boy, what would the package for a celebrity funeral at an amusement park look like?



Tapping into an emotional need: a revenue-generating example in Charlotte Transit by Nheeda Enriquez
flickr photo credit: james willamor

flickr photo credit: james willamor

I attended a live taping of Charlotte Talks/WFAE Public Conversation and the topic, “Charlotte: On the way to Becoming…” stirred up wonderful dialogue about Charlotte’s future and quality of life through real estate, the environment, industry, and diversity.

The panelists shared rich, colorful examples to illustrate how a few short-sighted decisions can negatively affect the shape of the feel of a city.  But Mayor Pat McCrory also told a positive story about the brave effort to ensure the transit system (CATS and LYNX,) was always clean and free of advertising.  In doing so, they sacrificed a big revenue stream, but knew that people would feel safer if buses and light rail cars were clean and clearly branded.

The need “to feel safe” is emotional, and it’s not always obvious how that that manifests itself in a brand or solution.  And it was probably difficult to calculate the ROI for developing (or in this case, not developing) that feature.  In hindsight, however, it’s easy to see how the choice positively affects ridership in the long run.

Listen to the whole taping here.