Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Chipotle Model

Let me commend to your attention the business model developed by the chain of Mexican restaurants called Chipotle, if you have not already considered the brilliant simplicity of it for yourself. Of course, not every great business concept results in a successful company; many beautiful ideas are destroyed before they ever get off the ground by bad planning, incompetent management, poor economic conditions, bad timing, and simple human greed and stupidity, but this one has been remarkably successful so far. I think it’s worth taking a closer look at how they do things.

For those of you not familiar with the chain, it’s a high-volume, medium-to-low price restaurant intended to be a step above fast-food Mexican chains like Taco Bell or Del Taco. You can visit their website here, if you’d like to take a look at their menu, locations, or restaurant designs. They go in for simple furnishings and decorations, a sort of post-industrial look in corrugated iron and concrete, no attempt to suppress the ambient noise, Mexican popular music (usually just barely audible over the din of ambient noise), and so on. There’s generally as much seating, indoor and outdoor, as they can manage, and it’s almost never enough to handle the volume that a Chipotle generates.

What makes these operations unique in my experience is the simplicity of the menu. They offer six basic products: a burrito, soft tacos, crunchy tacos, a burrito bowl (the contents of a burrito in a bowl, for a low carbohydrate option), a taco salad, and a fajita-style burrito (just like a regular burrito but with the addition of grilled vegetables). The customer can choose one of five fillings for any of these products: chicken, steak, the broiled pork dish called carnitas, the Mexican-style shredded and braised beef dish called barbacoa, and grilled onions and peppers (for the vegetarian customer). In addition, the customer can choose one of four types of fresh salsa, and can elect to have cheese, sour cream, guacamole or lettuce added to their meal as they see fit.

Sounds simple enough, right? Except that if you multiply six products by five fillings by four salsas you have 120 menu choices; the four optional menu choices add 16 (2x2x2x2) additional possibilities, for a total of 1,920 menu items. This does not even consider “special” items, like a quesadilla (with or without any of the meat fillings) or nachos (ditto), which don’t appear on the menu boards but are available if you ask for them. With all of the various options included the Chipotle menu offers well over 2,000 possible meals, but the restaurant only needs to cook the 5 fillings and the beans and rice, and mix up additional salsa and/or guacamole if they run out during the day. All of the various combinations are assembled on the production line right in front of you once you place your order. As a side effect, it takes almost no time to get your food.

The resulting efficiency allows a Chipotle to generate a preposterous number of meals in a relatively small retail space, while at the same time using a better quality of food ingredients for a relatively small mark-up over the competition. The upshot is that while a meal at Chipotle may cost $7 compared to $5 for its Taco Bell equivalent (a 40% markup – but only $2 in absolute terms, which isn’t really significant), it’s much better food, including all natural ingredients, beef and pork without steroids, cheese and sour cream without growth hormones, tender chicken, steak that actually tastes like high-quality steak (because it is), and so on. Most people have no problem paying the extra couple of dollars for the superior food, and in fact, many people who would never consider eating Taco Bell or Del Taco food will happily eat at Chipotle. The chain has grown explosively over the past few years, as a result, and may be coming to a strip mall near you soon…

Now I’m not suggesting that every type of business could be operated this way; the Chipotle model is brilliant in its simplicity and remarkable in its operational success, but not every company would be able to duplicate this sort of thinking. Still, it might be worth your time to consider how 6 basic products turn into 2,000 plus menu choices, and think about how your business could multiply its impact in this fashion…

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Ethics of Cheating

“Now just a minute!” I hear some of you saying. “How can you possibly have an Ethics post about cheating? It’s the most unethical thing anybody could ever do! What can you possibly say about it other than ‘Don’t’!”

Unfortunately, like most destructive behaviors, cheating tends to impact everyone associated with whatever is being cheated on; the grade curve in the case of an exam; the profession as a whole in the case of a professional examination; the lives of the other people involved in the case of a relationship, and the lives of the other players, other team owners, fans, agents, merchandisers, broadcasters and the families of all of the above in the case of professional sports. The sad fact is that even if you have never cheated on anything in your entire life, and never will, you can still be affected by the ethics of such an event – which makes it worth taking a closer look at.

Consider, for example, if you were the Commissioner of a major professional sport, and one of your teams (one of your best teams, in fact; one highly touted to win that year’s championship) was caught cheating on the first game of the season. Blatant cheating, in fact; not just something that is banned under the rules of your game and the regulations of your league, but the sort of thing that any six-year-old child would recognize as cheating. If you don’t take swift and decisive action, not only do you run the risk of other teams trying the same dirty tactics, but the confidence of your fans will erode, and your organization may even be called in front of Congress and investigated in order to divert attention from more important issues facing the country. What do you do?

You could, of course, suspend the entire team for the entire season, or at least some part of it. But this would have the effect of punishing not only the guilty parties (in this case the Head Coach, the video operators involved, and possibly the Owner of the team) but also the members of the team who were blameless (and even unaware of the offense), the members of the other teams whose games will be cancelled because their opponent is on suspension, and all of the people who make their living off of those games. It hardly seems fair, and it may not actually punish the guilty parties involved (if their contacts do not specify a penalty for forfeited games).

You could ban the team from post-season play, the way they do in college sports. If the team wins its division, the second-place team goes instead, and if they win a wild card berth, the next best team goes instead. It’s still a bit harsh to some of the players, but there’s no guarantee that your team is going to get to the post-season in any given year anyway. Still, this will probably be bad for the sport in general, since many otherwise exciting games will now be rendered meaningless.

You could require that the cheating team terminate their Head Coach and any members of his staff who were involved in the cheating, and void their contracts. Actually, you could probably require a clause in all coach’s contacts that specify that if their team is caught cheating they will be fired, and their annual salary will be forfeited. But in that case I can almost guarantee lengthy civil trials about what the team owners knew and when they knew it, and Congressional investigations are almost a certainty.

Or, you could apply some completely meaningless penalty, such as making the cheating team give up one or more of its draft picks in the next draft following the affected season, when they’ve already got plenty of good players and can always buy more on the free agent market anyway. I’ll give you three guesses which one of these choices the NFL decided to hit the New England Patriots with after they were caught cheating on the first game of the just-completed season, and the first two don’t count…

That should be the end of it, of course, but now get ready for a new twist. It seems that some of the players from the 2002 St. Louis Rams team that was defeated by the Patriots in the Super Bowl are suing for the differential in pay that they would have received if their team had won, claiming that the Patriots cheated in that game, too, and if the NFL had stopped them (followed its own rules, in fact), the Rams would have won the game. The Rams players are claiming they have evidence…

So if you were the Commissioner of Football, what would you do about the situation? Despite the fact that you personally have never cheated on anything in your life, you have a cheating scandal that may affect your entire sport, and even your own bank account, if you are named as a party to the lawsuit (which you will be), and you need to take some action – but what? It’s worth thinking about…

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Retail and Training

“How come nobody in this store ever knows where anything is?” my wife asked, with some exasperation. We had come to the local Target store looking for a small household item, only to find that no one in the place would admit to ever having heard of the product we wanted to buy. If we had been looking for an obscure electronic device, an exclusive item of clothing, rare gems or precious metals, or even exotic food or drink items, I could understand the confusion on the faces of the various clerks. Unfortunately, the item we were looking for was a set of bookends…

Of course, the fact that no one reads anymore could be a factor. What do people who don’t own any books know from bookends? Another factor is the size of the store, in which you could probably park at least two or three jumbo jets comfortably; it’s a lot of ground to cover. Still another factor is the huge range of merchandise this chain carries; everything from food items to home electronics to prescription drugs (if we count the pharmacy operation) to lawn and garden products. In fact, I can’t really say I’d be all that surprised to find out that they did, in fact, carry obscure electronic devices, exclusive items of clothing, rare gems or precious metals…

All kidding aside, however, the real cause of this sort of problem is simply money. Specifically, the costs involved in training retail personnel in the variety of goods carried by a specific facility, teaching them where in their particular store each of the (quite literally hundreds of thousands) items can be located, and giving them any reason to remember all of this information or provide it to the customers in the first place. The sad fact is that most sales associates on the low end of retail are working for not much better than minimum wage, and are likely to quit their jobs and move on to something better as soon as they possibly can. Training for personnel at this level is expensive, both in the sense that the company will have to pay them for time in which they are not working, and also in the sense that with normal turnover, the company will have to repeat this training several times each year.

As you move up the retail industry’s food chain, this begins to change. Customers entering a more upscale establishment will be less willing to waste time wandering around the store search for what they want, and more likely to expect a higher level of customer service in return for the higher prices they are paying. Of course, since each sale made at these higher levels is for more money, it is both critical not to lose as many (by annoying the customer) and possible to spend more money per sale on customer service. Where the real problems occur is where management’s idea of the correct level of customer service and the level the customers are expected are no longer in sync. A major factor in the failure of several traditional department store chains is a lack of customer satisfaction with the level of service provided. If you’re going to wander around a large store for hours looking in vain for someone who can answer your questions, find you a larger size, or ring up a sale, you might as well be shopping at Target, and consequently a lot of consumers did.

By the same token, however, it makes no sense to have sales associates waiting in every aisle to provide assistance when all your customers want is to put huge packages of consumer goods in a shopping cart and check out as quickly as possible. If you are providing too high a level of customer service for your segment of the industry, you’re probably offering a very pleasant shopping experience, but you’re almost certainly losing money because your sales can’t keep up with expenses…

Of course, it’s possible that your business has the ideal balance of customer service: just enough people with just enough training to keep most of your customers happy. But you should probably spend some time on the sales floor now and then; looking around, talking with your customers, and making sure everything is still in balance. Because if you don’t watch it closely, it won’t stay that way for long…

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Comfort Level

In my posts about the Valentine’s Day dilemma, I mentioned that purchasing gifts for their significant other takes most men outside of their comfort zone – into stores in which they do not feel comfortable. It’s possible to avoid this by shopping over the Internet, of course, but many people are still not comfortable with e-commerce, and even those of us who use it have invariably had issues with the shipping companies involved. I personally have had items purchased online arrive only after being immersed in stagnant pond water, dropped from at least 10 feet up onto a concrete floor, thrown off the back of a truck (or possibly an airplane), delayed by a National Day of Mourning (it’s a long story) or simply stolen, either by one of my neighbors or by the delivery person him/her self (the police never did find out).

For matters of convenience, scheduling, and being sure that the item purchased is still in one piece and actually in your hand on the day you need it, most people will still end up shopping in person, at least occasionally. This will, of necessity, eventually require them to enter a retail store that sells merchandise they know nothing about, are intimidated by, or simply feel uncomfortable being around. As a result, most people will eventually be faced with having to work outside of their comfort level, even if they are exceptionally good shoppers and even if they have never experienced this situation in any other aspect of their lives. The question I have to ask is, why?

In the workplace, being forced outside of your comfort level is almost inevitable, if you intend to receive promotion, learn a new skill set, master a new work function, or change jobs at any time in your career. One of the most important aspects of the manager’s role will always be training and developing the personnel assigned to them, and one of the key parts of this function is helping those trainees overcome their insecurities in learning the new duties. This is why a good training manager traditionally uses the five-step method of instruction (tell, show, try, correct, try again), repeating the last two steps as many times as necessary until the trainee is able to complete the task without assistance or prompting.

Obviously, one of the traits of a good manager is the ability to help new personnel overcome their discomfort with new tasks – and part of the definition of a good employee is the ability to overcome their own discomfort and find a new comfort level. The question is, given the nearly universal nature of the problem, why do so many businesses ignore this issue? Some retailers (notably the Lowe’s Home Improvement and Home Depot chains) will make a special effort to provide knowledgeable sales associates who can assist the customer in finding their desired merchandise. This can be extremely helpful to homeowners attempting to find the right tools and/or materials to complete a repair job, but even these services are going to be of minimal utility in attempting to match a gift to the skill levels or needs of the recipient, and most retailers do not make even this basic level of effort.

One can easily imagine retail stores adapting their personal shopper programs to assist inept male customers find gifts during the major holidays; one can also imagine certain other stores ( Sharper Image or any store selling sports memorabilia, for example) creating a similar service to assist the (admittedly much smaller) sub-group of women who experience similar comfort zone issues in shopping for their significant others. It’s unclear if such services would really provide a significant competitive advantage for retailers; the majority of the companies that claim to offer such conveniences to their customers generally do not live up to their advertising claims, and in many cases (lingerie stores assisting male customers, for example) there is going to be very little that the on-site personnel are going to be able to do to help anyway. Still, I have to ask: are you doing everything you can to help your customers find their comfort zone? And if not, why not? It’s worth thinking about…

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Rule Reversal

Curiously enough, women also experience difficulty in shopping for their significant others for Valentine’s Day. Or, more accurately, they experience difficulty in finding gift items that their significant other finds as exceptional as they think he ought to. It seems counter-intuitive, given that most women (in Western cultures) are socialized to enjoy shopping, and even those who do not are generally fairly good at, particularly when compared to their male counterparts. Shopping in general should not be difficult for these women, and men in particular are not all that difficult to shop for (some combination of food, drink, sports-related materials, gadgets, or in extreme cases, sex, will almost always be acceptable). Perhaps even more to the point, most men do not have a strong emotional investment in the holiday, and are thus unlikely to attach much importance to receiving the perfect gift – or the perfectly romantic one.

Therein lies the true nature of the problem. As noted in my last post, the often-heard female complaint that “this just isn’t important to you” is surprisingly accurate: V-Day is not actually important to the majority of males in most Western cultures. Even highly intelligent males who are capable of understanding that the holiday is important to their significant other and taking appropriate action BECAUSE it matters to their partner are unlikely to muster any strong emotional need to receive anything. Thus, in many cases, female efforts to find gifts for their significant others are unlikely to create the desired emotional reaction. The males in question may be pleased (in rare cases even delighted) with the gifts they have received, but they have almost certainly not spent days/weeks anticipating the event and wondering what their significant other was planning for them.

Compounding the problem, many women persist in their own traditional form of denial: seeing their significant other as the man they would like him to be, rather than the person he actually is. This may result in tragic events, such as women who enter and remain in abusive relationships because they believe they can “change” the man they have into the one the want, but it does also result in comic events, such as a man looking at something intended to be The Ultimate Valentine’s Gift and being unable to determine what it is, let along why he would want one. As a public service, I would like to offer the following “reversed” (e.g. female to male) rules:

Rule One: Don’t assume that your significant other cares as much about V-Day as you do, or has spent as much time/emotion anticipating it as you have.
Rule Two: Never purchase things he doesn’t use but you think he ought to. If he doesn’t moisturize already, a V-Day gift is not likely to get him to start.
Rule Three: Never purchase lifestyle or wardrobe accessories that conform to your ideal of him. For example, if doesn’t already carry a “man-purse” you probably shouldn’t get him his first one. If he already does, there’s nothing wrong with getting him a new one, but otherwise…
Rule Four: You can figure out the difference between tan, taupe, nude, suntan, ecru and light brown; you can remember the difference between football and baseball.
Rule Five: You can explain the difference between three hundred different styles of black shoes; you can remember which sports team out of thirty he actually likes. If he’s a Dodgers fan (for example), don’t get him Giants or Yankees paraphernalia.
Rule Six: If you find yourself arguing with Rule Five because baseball teams (or football teams or even rugby teams) are not important to you, listen to yourself for a minute. Who do you sound like?

In his classic book Nice Guys Sleep Alone, the legendary humor writer and screenwriter Bruce Feirstein writes that when somebody is trying to change the way you dress, cut your hair, wear your beard, and so on, “what they really want is someone else.” I’m not saying that any woman who keeps being frustrated by her significant other’s reactions to V-Day gifts (and most likely birthday and anniversary gifts, too) really wants someone else; I’m simply suggesting that if your partner enjoys beer, steak, baseball and sex it makes more sense to buy him a case of microbrew, a gift pack from Omaha Steaks, a replica jersey from his favorite team with his name on it, or just wrap yourself up in a ribbon than it does to get upset with him for not being thrilled to receive a day at the spa, a tie that you liked, or a “murse”…

The Rules, Part Two

As noted in my last post, the requirements of Valentine’s Day shopping take most men completely outside of their comfort zone – and this, in fact, is one of the primary reasons cited for failure to get an acceptable gift for this event. However, this excuse has lost most of its relevance in recent years because of the very invention that is enabling you to read the maunderings of this writer: the Internet itself. Consider that a quick visit to FTD.com will enable you to obtain almost any imaginable type of flowers or plants, in almost any price range, and have them sent to any address in North America. If your significant other doesn’t like flowers they have food items, gift baskets and other choices, and if she’s allergic to flowers, they also sell silk ones. With this service available, comfort level and convenience level (e.g. “I didn’t have time to shop”) are unworkable unless you are flat broke and/or don’t have Internet access.

Even worse, there are a literally unimaginable number of other web sites with suitable gifts, all of which ship and most of which will accept any reasonable form of payment. The FTD site is just a good example because of the huge array of gift items, food items, collectables, home and garden items, and even pet and child-appropriate gifts available. Well, that and the fact that they offer same-day delivery and International delivery. But with the exception of unique art/craft items, e-commerce has completely changed the way we do business – and it has had the unintended consequence of making Valentine’s presents just as easy to obtain as “adult” movies.

Of course, some people (primary males, but some women as well) will attempt to dismiss the holiday altogether, reasoning that with no “real” religious, historical or cultural basis, V-Day is simply a “Hallmark Holiday” created for the sole purpose of moving product. I could refute this by pointing out that St. Valentine was a 3rd Century Christian martyr (died in 269 AD), or that the tradition of associating the Feast Day of Saint Valentine with romantic love goes back to the 14th Century in Europe, and is also associated with Geoffrey Chaucer, who is widely credited for creating much of the mythology associated with the holiday. However, these points are not actually relevant to the discussion.

Some people, particularly males, will argue that they were not socialized to think of the holiday in a positive light; that being required to bring Valentines for every member of their primary school class (even those classmates they detested) and the crushing pressure of trying to go through with giving the object of their affections a Valentine in high school have led to their disliking the holiday and blocking it out of their memory. This argument is also ill-founded, given that the demands of business require most of us to take part in social events that we may not care for, and to remember dates far more random and arbitrary than 14 February of each year. With the introduction of Microsoft Outlook, even attempting to use this excuse has become dangerous folly.

The simple truth is, anyone with the slightest familiarity with the profession and practice of management (even the simple hints you can get from reading blogs about the topic) should be able to cope with the practical aspects of Valentine’s Day if their significant other finds importance in the event, especially in this 21st Century. That many people, and many men in particular, fail to do so can not reasonably be taken as an indication of incompetence, and it should not (despite frequent accusations of such conduct) be taken to mean that the offenders do not value or have emotional attachments for the significant others they are disappointing, however. The most probable explanation is, in fact, found in a less common but far more cutting female complaint: the event is simply not important enough to these people…

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Rules: Part One

I thought with Valentine’s Day coming up this week that it might be interesting to present some of the unwritten rules regarding this holiday. I’m confident that all of you will recognize the business applications when they come around…

Valentine’s Day (hereinafter “V-Day”) is one of those “cultural” phenomena that are viewed very differently based on the observer’s age, social class, income level, religious convictions, and above all, gender. While some holidays have traditional consumer products associated with them (e.g. turkeys for Thanksgiving, fireworks for Independence Day, or coniferous trees for Christmas), V-Day is a bit more nebulous. Heart-shaped items are traditional, as is the color red, both of which are intended to reflect the holiday’s origins as a festival for lovers, but what exactly can be colored red and/or shaped like a heart and then successfully marketed for V-Day is much harder to say for certain.

Compounding the problem is the tendency (often parodied in the media) of women in Western cultures to use the holiday as a “test” of how well their significant other can satisfy their desires. Though this behavior is not nearly as universal as generally depicted, the potential for spectacular failure is every bit as great as popular culture would have you believe, as male consumers are often faced with attempting to locate the idea present without having been given any useful information as to what that might entail. This will often result in men purchasing gifts which are useful, valuable, or even objects they believe are coveted by their partners, only to discover that, in the event, the items selected are not sufficiently “romantic” – most often simply meaning that they do not conform to the expectations of the recipient.

These efforts are complicated by the fact that most retailers will attempt to cash in on the commercial bonanza represented by the holiday (often the only one in the entire season) by offering all manner of merchandise as V-Day specials. While the average male consumer is unlikely to accept that “V-Day paper towels” or “V-Day suppositories” would be appropriate gifts under normal circumstances, the pressure, confusion and downright bewilderment of the occasion results in many of these unfortunate sales. Even worse, the general drawdown in retail sales associates means that even those shoppers willing to ask for help will generally not find any.

Some of the rules are fairly simple to understand:
Rule 1: You can remember when the World Series is, when the Super Bowl is, and when the baseball, basketball and hockey All-Star Games are. You can remember when Valentine’s Day is (it’s the SAME DATE every year!).
Rule 2: Never purchase anything that is actually for you. It’s rude. Especially if it’s something you know she does not want, and will just give back to you.
Rule 3: Don’t assume that just because you want something, your significant other does too. This goes double for home entertainment equipment that you will also get to use.
Rule 4: Never purchase exercise equipment. Not even if she specifically asks for it. Sends the wrong message (e.g. “you need to work out more”).
Rule 5: Never purchase kitchen equipment. Again, not even if specifically requested; it sends the message that you see her in a purely domestic role.
Rule 6: Never purchase anything with a cord. No matter what your significant other thinks of as romantic, this isn’t it.
Rule 7: Never purchase anything because your mother, your sister, your ex-girlfriend or some hot saleswoman at the store where you were shopping liked it.
Rule 8: If you are dumb enough to violate Rule 7, make sure you don’t tell your significant other you did this. Especially if an ex-girlfriend was involved!
Rule 9: Never purchase a gift card. It’s as impersonal as you can get…

In fact, these same rules probably apply to your significant other’s birthday and your anniversary (particularly your wedding anniversary, if you have one). Note that this eliminates practically everything from home improvement stores, sporting goods stores, hardware stores and electronics stores – or 90% plus of all of the places men are actually comfortable shopping. The sight of a grown man slinking into a Victoria’s Secret in the hopes of finding something for his significant other before dying of embarrassment, or trying to pick out something from the drug store’s “Seasonal” aisle that is red, heart-shaped and not too tacky while on his way home from work on the 14th are truly sad.

Of course, women have difficulties of their own shopping for this holiday – but that’s a column for another day…

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Use of Funds

I suppose there ought to be at least one post on here about the Super Bowl this year, and the legendary advertising bonanza associated with it. Every year, it seems, the cost per second of television advertising during the big game rises, until you have a situation where each second of each ad is costing tens of thousands of dollars – before we even consider the cost of the ads themselves. This leads to an equally traditional question about whether this is really the best use of those funds. Which brings it into my area of expertise…

The first thing to keep in mind about any kind of television advertising is that, unless you are a very large company with an ad budget going well into 8 or 9 figures, it’s going to suck down a huge amount of your available funds. The cost of the airtime is often prohibitive all by itself, and if the ad you plan to show isn’t good enough (e.g. up to professional production standards), the results are likely to be counterproductive (e.g. something that will drive away business instead of attracting it). To combat this, a lot of small businesses will attempt to make their own ads using personal video equipment or hiring family and friends to help generate the content. Unless your friends and relatives include professional filmmakers or animators, however, this is unlikely to help.

Many small businesses will elect to purchase airtime on local television stations only, as opposed to national broadcasts, reasoning that since their operations are purely local, there is no need to display their ads outside of their local area. Some companies will take this strategy to its logical conclusion, and purchase airtime only on cable television systems in neighborhoods where their operations are located. This is generally even cheaper than local broadcast airtime, and has the added advantage of allowing the advertising company to select channels that appeal to the same demographic that contains most of their customers. For example, here in the South Bay our local cooking store, called “Cookin’ Stuff” runs frequent ads on the Food Network. Another good example was a local pizza company that ran its ads only on local cable sports networks, and only at times when people watching sports might be hungry (e.g. lunchtime, dinnertime, and late in the evening).

Of course, the fact that these ads are run in a small broadcast area during specific times of day does not eliminate the need for good content. The Cookin’ Stuff ad is a fairly simple collection of footage of the store and the intriguing gear available for sale, but it features a good professional voice-over and good camera work. The pizza place mostly ran shots of their menu items, but they also produced an amusing ad showing a man watching sports television while his girlfriend tries to get his attention; talking to him, standing in front of him, even performing as a belly dancer, all to no avail. Then she has a pizza delivered from the company in the ad, and the man immediately abandons the television and falls to eating. I’m not sure how well that would have played with a female demographic, but since the ad was targeted at men (18 to 36), it wasn’t much of an issue.

So when will your company be ready to advertise during the Super Bowl? When the amount of business you can reasonably expect to gain because of the ad exceeds the amount you will spend on the content and the airtime, of course – the same as any other form of advertising. Anything else is simply a very flashy way of spending money you do not have available. However impressive and prestigious a Super Bowl ad might be, the fact is that even the very largest advertisers don’t make back the cost of such ads, and for a small business, a short spot on right after the local news might be a better use of funds…