A few nice ideas to attract customers images I found:
Giant Tuna Head
This was a fresh (well, dead) Tuna head that was placed outside a sushi restaurant to attract customers. The idea is that these guys got a great deal on a massive chunk of tuna and want to pass the savings on to you!! Come in for some unbelievably cheap tuna!!
Of course it stank.
Yori Nelken – game theory for meetings
TimeBridge is pre-alpha… it’s all a matter of timing! (Put it in your calendar for next quarter.)
Back in 1997, Yori Nelken (above) founded Banter, a company that used AI in the form of statistical modeling, natural language processing and machine learning to help automate call-center response and improve agents’ productivity. Now as the Banter technology is doing well as part of IBM, Nelken is tackling the wider and much more common productivity problem of scheduling meetings. His new company, TimeBridge, is still under wraps, but he’s prepared to talk about the problems without disclosing the solutions. After seven years at Banter, including two stints as CEO and two as CTO, he took some time off to think about other interesting problems and settled on the challenge of scheduling; it intrigued him that this common problem attracted so little attention and that no technology seemed to be available to support the process of getting a group of busy people together.
Take the simple problem of us arranging our two initial meetings with him: Should it be in Palo Alto or San Francisco? The first meeting was in San Francisco; the second in Palo Alto. Should/could co-founder and VP marketing Bill Glazier, formerly of PlaceWare (now Microsoft), join us? Yes the first time and no the second. We don’t know what alternatives Nelken had, but we were trying to meet with a number of calendar-oriented companies over the course of several days – some in San Francisco and some on the Peninsula. Were we busy at the times suggested? He opted for a time slot we proposed, but by the time we confirmed, that slot was not available. Back to square one.
Yes, we already had lunch plans the first time – but we changed them. And the second time, we picked 2 pm out of the noon to 4 pm window Nelken offered, but then he came back with 3 pm – for his own reasons.
The lessons: most scheduling involves other people and external constraints – the schedules of people more important, external events such as conference time tables, financial quarters and customers’ activities, availability of resources. Some of these constraints are visible; some aren’t. More important, there’s an invisible hierarchy to the constraints, and it is all very, very dynamic.
In fact, says Nelken, “People frequently make scheduling decisions on the basis of who’s asking and who else will be there…and only then do they look at their own schedule to see whether they are busy. For the right meeting, they’ll cancel what they’re already scheduled to do.” So for everyone except for the inviter, the schedule is only one consideration – and not the first one.
“The computer has provided essentially no improvement over the last several years in making meetings easier to schedule,” adds Glazier. “There are few standards for scheduling, sharing any form of calendar or schedule information outside of a company is extremely difficult, and e-mail and meeting requests suffer from a very inefficient and incomplete workflow. People basically revert to phone calls and e-mails to schedule meetings.”
Scheduling meetings is a negotiation, not an invitation, says Nelken. However, adds company advisor Mark Drummond, founder of Timedance (circa 2001), “Playing calendrical battleship is a bad idea. You have to expose something – just not necessarily your entire free-busy schedule.”
The challenge for TimeBridge is to figure out what to expose, and how to handle the responses, creating a de-facto ad-hoc workflow. A two-way negotiation is easy enough, but suppose you want to have lunch with four people and you are free next Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. Should you ask Juan first, because he matters most? But then he’ll pick a day, even though he may be available all three days so far as you know. You could invite all four of them in a single message, but then the danger is that someone else will pick a day that Juan, the most important person, can’t do it… and get there first. and so on….