The Consumer Matters is the blog of Leslie Grandy, aka Gearhead Gal.  My passion is creating and delivering compelling products that delight customers through simple and elegant user experience design.

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My Philosophy of New Product Development

"We should cultivate the ability to say no to activities for which we have no time, no talent, and which we have no interest or real concern. If we learn to say no to many things, then we will be able to say yes to things that matter most." Roy Blauss via Compendium


The Dbar is opening in Seattle!

We are entering a time in the digital landscape when most product information is already known and readily available to all potential consumers. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and other peer-to-peer communication networks have created dynamic communities of interest which inform customers about product options and influence their purchasing decisions.  The content that is created through these communities, the people that publish into them and the places where these interchanges occur are all now connected. That's why I am looking forward to this event - The Networked Consumer - How Content and Community Are Driving Commerce.

The panel brings together local digital thought leaders to discuss the conversations and innovations that are impacting consumer buying behavior and brand engagement. There will also be an interactive lab for hands-on product experiences. 

Here's the 411 for you all to come. And here is the RSVP link to the Eventbrite. Sign up now because seating is limited and it's almost 50% full already!

Where: Founders’ Co-op, South Lake Union, 511 Boren N., Seattle, WA 98109 

When: April 28th, 2011 5:30-8:00 PM

Event Moderator: Tricia Duryee, eMoney columnist,

Event Participants: James Lively, COO DIY Media, Scott Blanksteen, CEO AppStoreHQ, and Kathy Savitt, CEO Lockerz, and Jordan Williams, Digital Engagement Lead, REI.



A Cartoon History of Social Networking


Favorite Tweets Of The Day

@dannysullivan can we agree? it's not an NYT paywall, it's an idiotwall. designed by idiots to get money from idiots, the idioci. Prob will work a bit, too

@gary_hustwit "You have to systematically create confusion, it sets creativity free." Jasper Johns

The importance of storytelling RT@PeterGuber How to Make Your Career A Hollywood Blockbuster


4 Ways Verizon Can Benefit From an AT&T/T-Mobile Deal


Originally published on

The recently announced acquisition of T-Mobile USA by AT&T, if approved, potentially vaults the second and fourth place wireless carriers into first place, with their combined subscribers tallying more than Verizon’s total subscriber number. Verizon will spend a lot to convince the government that a combined AT&T/ T-Mobile is bad for consumers and to ensure closing that deal will be no small distraction for its two competitors.

T-Mobile can’t exhale in relief just yet, as the agreement, including the billion dollar fees they’ll likely get if the deal does not go through, could be challenged in court by everyone from Nokia to Google to Comcast to Apple.

Surely, there will be a lot of time, money and effort spent on selling this deal in to the federal government, generating a lot of work for PR agencies, lobbyists, hardware vendors and consumer advocates. While AT&T and T-Mobile fight the battle on Capitol Hill, Verizon could be claiming victory on the front lines with consumers.

Here are 4 ways Verizon might capitalize on the announcement:

  1. Stay on message: Verizon’s clarity of message—it's about the network—has clearly positioned them as the most reliable consumer choice. Both AT&T and T-Mobile have suffered from the strength of Verizon’s network message in light of their own network evolution challenges (not the least of which were T-Mobile’s late arrival with 3G and AT&T’s call handling problems with the iPhone.) Staying the course with their current, well established network position will continue to serve Verizon well.
  2. Comfort confused consumers: If consumers aren’t sure who’ll own their contract two years from now, they may be loathe to sign a new agreement with ATT TMoT-Mobile. In addition, T-Mobile’s television commercials have specifically poked fun at AT&T’s network. A well-positioned message by Verizon could capitalize on customer’s sense of confusion or betrayal.
  3. Be the anti-corporate brand: Verizon has focused heavily on consumer messaging, and with its successful launch of the Envy, Chocolate and Droid brands, has shown it can build and maintain a franchise line-up of consumer focused devices. (Okay so I’m choosing to forget about the Kin because it was practically stillborn.) AT&T built a strong enterprise customer base, not just through the sale of a large portfolio of smartphone devices early in the category’s development, but also through volume pricing deals for corporate buyers. T-Mobile has a heavy consumer and Android base, and a very strong family focus, especially with its MyTouch and Sidekick brands. Verizon should continue to focus on super-messaging phones that appeal to the young and social, 'Gen C' customers, who are Droidalways  connected and communicating.
  4. Deliver service innovation: In today’s economy, it’s typical for an industry with few providers (like the airline industry, for instance) to provide much less service for more money than a few years ago. As sales automation and cloud services technology begin to drive down operational costs, Verizon can seize the opportunity to support customers in new and efficient ways, like bundling FiOS home broadband services, or packaging Gogo Inflight wireless data services on your iPad, or securely enabling physical purchases through a personal cell phone account as if it were a credit card. Given all the infrastructure and systems work AT&T and T-Mobile will be pre-occupied with to support the acquisition, Verizon, and its customers may be best served by a focus on service innovation.


New Places To Go, Things To See

My friend, Holly, talks about how much she enjoys the "social serendipity" of discovering new websites or fresh ideas from her Facebook feed.  

Here are a few of my recent favorite discoveries, the home of interesting curators assembling original ideas. Add these to your app readers, your real time feeds, or like their Facebook pages.

Notcot offers Ideas + Aesthetics + Amusement

Design Milk and its sister site Dog Milk are online magazines dedicated to modern design

Doodlers Anonymous is the permanent home of spontaneous doodle art.



Who Really Has Influence?

There are a million ways to measure your influence across the social web. But it seems that being the Mayor of something or having a big Klout score really doesn't define us when we want something we can't have. 


How Not To Do The Social Network How Not To Social Network by Gearheadgal

Like it? Create your own at It's free and fun!


Understanding The "Media" Part of Social Media

If you put up a website a few years ago, and thought that's all you needed to do because you don't sell direct or don't expect much more from your website than to serve as digital collateral, you are probably one of the many marketers who has also yet to develop a social strategy for driving customers to your branded online destination.

The truth is, however, that once you posted the digital assets associated with your branded URL, you became a publisher. As a publisher, you need an editorial calendar, and a distribution plan for your content that goes beyond the HTML pages associated with your domain. The plan, which extends your own properties and connects with the communities of interest where your customers congregate, must thoughtfully design and inject digestible content bits into the social web which place your brand, products and services into the sometimes temporal but influential conversations that occur before someone considers making a purchase.



5 ways social media will change your marketing plan

First published in iMedia Connection

Article Highlights:

  • Campaign ideas will be deconstructed into smaller, more digestible messages
  • Applications will continue to adapt to user behavior, leading to hyper-personalization
  • User-generated content will influence marketing strategy

Reputation and relationship management skills are foundational to architecting an effective customer development strategy for both B2B and B2C enterprises; this will be acutely true in 2011. No longer just the responsibility of a community manager, social communication will be integrated into service and support experiences, product, point of sale, and commerce solutions. Because official spokespeople are no longer the sole purveyors of your company's message, social channels can be counted on to accelerate and amplify the conversation between customers and brands. Look for the following trends to drive changes to integrated marketing plans in the year ahead... read more here


Favorite Tweets of the Day

@businessinsider iOS Is Half Of New Enterprise Mobile Activations

@greatestquotes "You just can't beat the person who won't give up." - Babe Ruth

Blogging is the democratization of publishing via @jeffbullas 

Fascinating piece by @: Identity and The Independent Web via @

Marketing in the Age of Social Media

I enjoyed this presentation by Edward Boches (@edwardboches), Chief Creative Officer at Mullen, recently named #3 in Ad Age's A List. So, naturally, I thought I'd share it.


CES 2011 Video Moments

I hope you enjoy these two video montages of the sites and sounds of CES. It's a visual and auditory mashup, but so is walking around the show floor.

And, just in case you think it's all glam and glitter at CES, please see my post on Technorati, Ten Things I Hate About CES.


Can America Become The Comeback Kid?

If you ask the CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association what America needs to do to become as great as it used to be, he'll tell you the answer lies in two words - support innovation.

Gary ShapiroGary Shapiro, head of the organization that annually mounts the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, believes America's position as a global superpower has been diminished by the federal government's immigration, education, broadband and tax policies which have dimmed our entrepreneurial spirit.

Shapiro feels so passionate that the country needed a strategic turnaround plan, he says he almost named his new book simply "The Plan." In an interview on the verge of opening the 2011 trade show to tout his short treatise "The Comeback, How Innovation Will Restore The American Dream," Shapiro said, "I created a SWOT analysis for the country, and evaluated our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats."

The CEO of the CEA was steadfast in his interest in speaking about long range vision, and was committed to the perspective that his job is to focus on federal policy. Downplaying the impact of the state government's role in fostering innovation, maintaining employment levels or managing immigration at our borders, Shapiro suggested that the economic situation California has gotten itself into is a local business issue that gets sorted out through competition among states for jobs and business. "Other states win when California makes bad decisions," Shapiro remarked. Despite insistence that innovation starts with federal policy, in his book, Shapiro compares the financial woes of California to the economic implosion of Greece.

Read more:


Twitter CEO Dick Costolo On His "Technical Debt"

In this interview at the mini All Things Digital conference at CES, the Twitter CEO euphemistcally describes the "fail whale" and his plan to have us see it less.


Favorite Tweets Of The Holiday Weekend

@kenradio Why Bing "Likes" Facebook, Facebook should give Microsoft an edge against search rival Google -

@bgershon Ad Execs Gaze Into 2011 Crystal Ball - Great overview.... 

Social Media in 2011: Expect a Big Dose of STFU from my pal @

Great article from @ to start the new year, Design Thinking and the courage to do things 

RT@quirkyinc The NY Times Pogies celebrates product features which are "clever twists that make life just a little bit better" 


Can You Define What Makes An Influencer?


A Socially Syndicated Dessert Idea

On my first day in my new office, one of my R2Integrated colleagues brought in a freshly baked batch of phenomenal cake pops.  When I asked her how she managed to poise such a quaintly designed, icing covered ping pong ball sized piece of moist cake on the end of a stick, she proceeded to give me detailed multi-step process which I instantly knew I’d never have the patience or skills to execute.

Undaunted, I remained fascinated by the incredible portability and convenience of the dessert-on-a-stick concept, and set out to execute something decidedly simpler to conquer at a recent dinner party.  I began with the most child-friendly of recipes, a Rice Krispies treat, and melted a bunch of chocolate chips. Inserting the sticks into chunks of the treats, I coated them in thick layer of chocolate one at a time. It maybe took half the number of steps as those yummy cake pops, but they looked pretty darn good.

Standing at attention on the serving plate before my guests, the Rice Krispies lollipops screamed both neat and gooey all at the same time. It was then I realized that the essence of that original ball of red velvet cake on a paper stick lived on, at least in a small way through how I re-packaged the value I got from the initial idea.  Someone else who was more of a cake fan than me might have immediately thought of other interesting ways to serve cake after seeing a cake pop and extended the idea further (perhaps cake in a cone?); I only thought of what else I could serve on a stick that’d be less effort than that cake recipe seemed to be?

Great ideas, re-packaged, are still great ideas.  The idea, re-presented, still has merit but it is amplified by its extension.  In putting my own spin on the novelty and utility of the dessert poised on a stick, I added the simplicity of the new recipe, as well as the nostalgia of a favorite childhood treat, and broadened the opportunity to pass it on.  In advancing what was important to me, I syndicated those features which my own capabilities could carry forward.

New media marketers need to recognize that re-packaging is a natural part of sharing.  When ideas are syndicated, they don't always get re-transmitted in their original form or with the same emphasis.  What's perceived as the most important meta-message by a marketer may not be the "thing" that the audience hears and carries with them.




Gearhead Gal's Favorite Things Giveaway

If it is good enough for Oprah, it's good enough for us. Here at The Consumer Matters, we just love books and giveaways like the Big O does. (Okay, to be clear, we're not giving away an iPad or taking everyone to Australia like Gayle's best friend.) Sure we love our Kindle and iPad to read ebooks, but we also love to own the real pulp and glue smelling thing. To thank everyone for following us over this past year, and in honor of the season of giving, we're offering our readers a chance to get a fresh, shiny new copy of some of our favorite business bibles. And, if this goes well, we might move from gifts to gadgets.

All you have to do is "Like" The Consumer Matters on Facebook, and add a comment on that page telling us why you are interested in a specific book listed below. If you want more than one, you'll have to work for it - provide three separate posts to plead your case. We'll give you some time to write a pithy, compelling, or needy post on our Facebook wall.  And we'll even give you a few days to be creative.  Next Friday, aka Black Friday, we'll pick the lucky winner, and then as an added bonus, you'll also be able to tell all of your friends that you nailed your first holiday gift without having to get up early and wait in line.

Our first book is Cynthia Rabe's "The Innovation Killer."

Next up, we're offering Jeffrey Hayzlett's "The Mirror Test."

And finally, our last selection is "Customer-centric Product Definition" by Sheila Mello.


So start the Like-fest and check back here and on Facebook next week for the lucky winners.

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