Jeff Bezos’s initial focus on books constitutes the greatest execution of a beachhead marketing strategy ever – Bill Aulet

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Bill Aulet

MIT Sloan’s Bill Aulet

From Entrepreneur

Jeff Bezos recently briefly overtook Bill Gates to become the richest man in America. It’s a reminder, much like Amazon’s most recent $13.7-billion acquisition of Whole Foods, of the remarkable power of the company that Bezos has created and the straightforward strategy he used to create his empire. Now, with each new click and each new transaction, Amazon grows its war chest of consumer and market data and the company’s growth appears — at least for the moment –unstoppable.

But it was not always so. Once upon a time, Amazon sold only books. Bezos’s initial focus on books constitutes the greatest execution of a beachhead marketing strategy ever. By creating a narrow and winnable focus for his first product, Bezos was able to build the fundamentals of his company, and create a launching pad for Amazon to grow into different markets over time.

Today, when I want to buy audiobooks, gardening tools or a Spike Lee Brooklyn bicycle cap, I shop through Amazon and know it will all be delivered, courtesy of Amazon Prime, to my front door in Boston in two days. I have come to depend on Amazon’s recommendations and customer feedback to guide my purchases. I now have an Amazon TV system and have installed Alexa systems at both home and at work. My publisher directs me to the Amazon author section to see how many copies of my book have been sold each week, and in what regions. And when I relax at the end of the day, I read the Washington Post on my iPad, which is free with Amazon Prime. And it all started with books.

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Are online news aggregators vampires? – Catherine Tucker

MIT Sloan Professor Catherine Tucker

MIT Sloan Professor Catherine Tucker

It isn’t often that an MIT Professor studies “vampire” like entities. However, that is exactly how news aggregators such as Huffington Post and Google News have been described by Mark Cuban of Shark Tank fame.

The reason that Mr. Cuban thinks that aggregators deserve dracula-like appelations is that as he expresses – “Don’t let them suck your blood. Vampires take, but don’t give anything back.” In other words if you produce content the work of such news aggregators is viewed as been purely parasitic.

However, in a recent study I have shown that aggregators are not the blood suckers of the media industry that some have thought they were.

The study focuses on the 2010 showdown between Google News and the Associated Press over digital aggregation of news content by the Google platform. In January 2010, after a breakdown in licensing negotiations, Google News removed from its platform all news articles by the Associated Press, a media consortium that produces and shares news stories among its media members, including both large and small newspapers in the U.S.

The dispute lasted only a few months, but it provided a terrific opportunity to gauge how online traffic is impacted by the inclusion, then exclusion, of aggregated online content on a platform.

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Join the #MITSloanExperts “Breaking Through Gridlock” Twitter chat, June 5

Breaking Through Gridlock, by Jason J. Jay

Breaking Through Gridlock, by Jason J. Jay

Professor Jason J. Jay, author of Breaking Through Gridlock, will discuss the power of conversation in overcoming polarization via effective and positive conversation during the #MITSloanExperts Twitter chat on Monday, June 5th at 12 p.m. EDT. Jason will join his co-author, Gabriel Grant, to discuss how we can fuel healthy dialogues and innovation to enrich relationships and create powerful pathways forward. You can search the #MITSloanExperts and #BreakingGridlock hashtags to join the conversation in real time.

Professor Jason J. Jay is a Senior Lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management and the director of the Sustainability Initiative at MIT Sloan. He holds a bachelor’s in psychology and a master’s in education from Harvard and a doctorate in management from MIT.

Gabriel Grant is the CEO of Human Partners and cofounder of the Byron Fellowship Education Foundation. He holds a master’s in leadership and sustainability from Yale and a master’s in ecological systems engineering and a bachelor’s in physics from Purdue.

Do you think fake news can be killed with the truth? Think again–Sharon Pian Chan, Andre Alfred

Andre Alfred, Executive MBA Student at MIT Sloan

Andre Alfred, Executive MBA Student at MIT Sloan

Sharon Pian Chan, Executive MBA Student at MIT Sloan

Sharon Pian Chan, Executive MBA Student at MIT Sloan

From Art + marketing

The presidential election exposed deep divisions in the country, among our families, friends, in the workplace and in the classroom.

Buzzfeed’s recent findings about the power of fake news is particularly troubling. The 20-most read fake stories got more traffic than the top 20 stories reported by credible news organizations that verify facts and validate stories.

In fact, people writing fake news are making more money than journalists committed to reporting the truth, according to Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat, who talked to a fake news site in Seattle called Bipartisan Report.

Fake news sent a man with an assault rifle to a pizza shop in Washington, D.C., searching for a fictional child sex ring connected to Hillary Clinton. (Check out The Washington Post’s story.)

What are the forces behind the creation and, let’s face it, widespread consumption of lies?

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How companies like United and Wells Fargo can win back consumer trust–John Hauser

MIT Sloan Professor John Hauser

MIT Sloan Professor John Hauser

From The Conversation 

It’s every CEO’s worst nightmare: For whatever reason, the CEO’s company is engulfed in negative publicity that threatens to damage its brand name, harm sales and alienate customers for months or even years to come.

The negative publicity can hit suddenly, seemingly out of the blue, or it can come in relentless waves, over a prolonged period of time, like a series of storms battering a coastal area, one after another. Wells Fargo and United Airlines have both been facing such an onslaught in recent weeks and months.

How does a company respond? How does it go about repairing a damaged brand name and winning back customers?

While I know very little about these particular situations apart from what I’ve read, seen, and heard via various media outlets, I know how difficult it is to change consumers’ minds about a company and its products – and how winning back “trust” is easier said than done.

Five years ago, my colleagues – Gui Liberali of the Erasmus School of Economics in Rotterdam and Glen L. Urban at the MIT Sloan School of Management – and I jointly published a study, “Competitive information, trust, brand consideration and sales: Two field experiments.” Here’s what we learned.

Regaining customer trust

Over two years, we closely tracked four marketing field experiments by an American automaker whose brand had suffered from decades of negative publicity over the quality of its products. The experiments focused on company actions to earn back trust.

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