The pink-stucco and red-tile building, once home to a Red Lobster, blends easily into the urban sprawl of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. A truck dealership is on one side, a nail salon across the street. But there's something different going on here at California Fresh Buffet.
When companies offer us, of all people, something for nothing, we wonder: What's the catch -- or, for that matter, the business plan? So we asked actual experts -- Ben McConnell, author of Creating Customer Evangelists (Dearborn, 2002) and Jennifer Rice of Mantra Brand Consulting -- to assess a few high-profile giveaways. How do we know they're working?
Driving my 4-year-old daughter home from school one day, it crystallized: Innovating for her generation will have to be faster, more personalized, more hyperconnected, more integrated, and more diverse. She couldn't understand why she couldn't make the radio replay a song at will. "Where's the remote, mama? Skip the commercials." I lament that she and her classmates won't know the freedom of wandering home from school on their own, discovering all those things you only discover when adults aren't around.