So, like usual I am writing this email on Monday evening. That means – technically – I’m working. Since it’s Labor Day, if I were working at a “normal” job I would be paid time-and-a-half for working on a holiday.
As a valued self-employed person, that means tonight I get two beers once this email is done.
Here are this week’s top stories.
1. Starbucks Gets Money for Noth’in and the Chai for Free
Gift cards aren’t for every business. If it fits your business model, you can get some customer loyalty and maybe a bit of an increase in average sale. But if you’re Starbucks, you can also leverage gift cards and the trusting nature of hipster coffee-drinkers to redefine what “truckloads of free money” means.
Turns out that the company that charges $4 for a cup of coffee – albeit, pretty good coffee – well, they have a $1.6 billion float loan that they get for free ... from you. That’s the amount of “stored value card liabilities” that they carry on their balance sheet.
“Stored value cards” are those prepaid gift cards that millions of Starbucks customers carry around in their wallets.
So, at any given moment, Starbucks has an extra $1.6 billion in tax-free money earning interest in what they call “cash equivalent accounts” (easy to liquidate). They do not have to pay tax on it until a customer spends it, and then they only pay tax on the profit. And because customers recycle and refill those cards, there is always a +/- $1.6 billion balance hanging out there.
And in case you were wondering, at the current FED Funds Rate of 2.25% (low end), that’s $40 million per year just falling out of the sky for noth’in. Not to mention all the cards that get lost, expire with unused balances, etc.
2. The Force is Strong With This One – Facebook Lead-Gen Added to Messenger
When the Sith Lords at Facebook are not plotting the end of the Jedi, they like to think of new and inventive ways to suck all of us into dark realms of imperial domination through data harvesting. And this one might work.
Back in May, Facebook announced an integration for their Messenger App to allow businesses to automate bot-like text-message replies to prospects and customers that click the “Contact” link in posts and ads. And even more, that data can be imported directly into CRM apps like Salesforce. This could be a game-changer for certain users and markets. Heaven help us all when we find out what Emperor Zuckerberg will be doing with all of that dark data.
3. The Tide is Nigh … the YULE Tide, that is
Holy freak’in guacamole ... can you even believe it? It is SEPTEMBER people! We are just a few scant months away from [cue dramatic music] THE CHRISTMAS SEASON!
Anywho … you can darn-well bet that we are going to combing the interwebs to find cool stuff to bring to this newsletter to keep you in the know. Like this guy, who made three predictions before last season and makes three more for this season.
4. What If You’re “Planning” On Starting Another Side Gig?
This kind of surprised me. We live is the age of the smartphone for goodness sake. We got apps for just about everything. But, turns out that the physical paper planning books and journals business is growing at nearly 9% year/year, accounting for annual sales in the hundreds of millions per year. Who … the heck … knew, right?
Anyway, this article reviews six online stores that focus on this segment, shares insights from each one, and then discusses products worth selling. It’s a great article whether you are looking for a new opportunity or can apply the lessons learned to your existing business.
5. Nobody Knows Anything (and we can prove it)
Today I get to introduce you to a few guys. Well, maybe you already know them, but pretend you don’t.
The first guy is Hugh McLeod – the advertising guy-turned-cartoonist. His work adorns the offices of bug-wigs everywhere … from Microsoft HQ to Rackspace to Children’s Hospitals to Seth Godin. I love his work – we share a similar sense of humor and wonder. The next guy is Bob Hoffman – international man of mysterious marketing and best-selling author on the topic of advertising.
I have this conversation all the time with folks … I’m talking about the parts of advertising and marketing that are darn near faith-based. You see, we like to think that we have analytics on everything. But the truth is that we don’t. The only thing we only really know for sure is when that last click happened. Well, Bob wrote a guest blog on Hugh’s site and poked a lofty stick in the great unknown. It reads a bit light and ethereal, but when you understand who wrote it and why Hugh liked it, then it might speak to you too.
Seriously ... I just can’t believe that August is gone already and summer is over. But you can spread the sunshine far beyond the confines of a calendar by sharing the love and sharing this email with a friendly fellow-traveler on this giant spaceship of eCommerce togetherness we call planet Earth.
So, forward this email now or I will break-out my tie-dye T-shirt and use more hippy-dippy clichés.