Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Week 52 - Say + Look + Do = Reputation, Farewell

This is the 52nd and final installment of a program of change for your small business. Throughout the year I have shown how an organized approach to assessing “where am I” through to figuring out what you want and finally how to get it is the key to your freedom; freedom to choose, be that to sell your business for a great price, franchise, or simply not have to turn up seven days per week.

Along the way there are soft things (how do you treat your employees) through to hard programs (number of leads x your conversion rate x average sale for example) that need to be worked into your on-going review process to ensure you are constantly improving.

If there is one secret to improving your lot in this small business life it’s this commitment to constant improvement. As I have said the Japanese call this Kaizen and it has helped propel many of their firms into market leading positions worldwide. Let’s face it, you don’t have to be the smartest, or the fastest, or the cheapest. You simply have to thrill your customers and this thrill is relative to their expectations. How do you know what they expect if you are not looking outside your business?

In this world where many businesses are commoditized by a Google search we can’t forget the basics – they are probably more important than ever. THRILL YOUR CUSTOMERS, have your friendly, engaged staff selling as many prospects as much as they need helping them to achieve their own goals. Work with experts on your Google ranking and your PR efforts but never assume these in isolation will fix anything. Sure you could get a spike in orders from a great Internet campaign but if you don’t thrill the shoppers, you have wasted your money. The same goes for a newspaper article on your company. What have you really achieved unless you attract more qualified prospects and convert them into lifetime customers?

It would be right if I didn’t end with my favorite business mantra from OOCL Chairman C.C. Tung.


Say = how you and your employees project your policies and procedures
Look = how your business appears or is perceived by the public
Do = how you and your employees carry out your policies and procedures, thrilling the customer in a profitable manner.

As I’ve just said above, it all adds up to Reputation which is more important than ever. Whether being reflected on-line via customer reviews or spread around the local pub, it’s your lifeblood, pay attention.

I wish you the very best and hope I have helped to Change your Business, Change Your Life. I’ll be posting almost every week from here on but the posts will be focused on marketing things great (and not so great). You can always find the weekly small business program stuff in the archive, it’s up here forever.

Marketing Musings: Batteries and Cooking Measurements...

Innovation and design are quietly emerging as the powerhouse differentiators of the early 21st century. Without great products that change the way we look at the functions they perform, you are treading water. “Me too” is perhaps a more dangerous positioning that ever given you are just a mouse click away from being overlooked.

Two recent innovations caught my eye. The first is the Black and Decker battery charger, you plug it into the lighter socket if you ever have a flat battery and it will provide the power to get you started – why didn’t I think of that comes to mind.

Seriously, every now and then a company’s willingness to solve a problem intersects with the latest technical know how and constraints resulting in a change in how we view such issues. In ten years I expect auto makers will include this thing somewhere in the chassis and it will seem weird to ever have a flat battery situation again.

The second is this Oxo Measuring Jug. Notice anything different? Rather than bend down to look at the level, it shows you from above. This is market leading, patentable innovation at its best. I love it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Marketing Musings: Engage, engage, engage

Very cool - engagement and word of mouth, two key cornerstones of any marketing these days...

Billboard Whispers into Pedestrians’ Ears for A&E’s ‘Paranormal State’

An ad for A&E ghost-themed series Paranormal State uses technology to transmit an “audio spotlight” from a rooftop speaker in New York’s SoHo directly to the ears of passersby.
Pedestrians on Prince Street might hear a voice asking, directly in their ears, “Who’s there? Who’s there?” a few seconds later, the voice says, “It’s not your imagination,” writes AdAge.

The technology, created for museums and libraries and other environments that require quiet, is manufactured by Holosonics, which provides sound in a narrow beam, just like light.
A&E is using other unusual tactics in its $3 million to $5 million campaign to promote Paranormal State. In Los Angeles, a mechanical face emerges from a billboard as people walk by.

In print ads, AM New York flipped its gossip section upside down for Paranormal State, while this week’s Parade included a checkerboard of ads for the series.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Marketing Musings: Marketing's Dead - Work With It

Where in the world is marketing going? I fast forward or mute all TV ads, listen to satellite radio in the car and generally ignore everything that shows up in the mailbox. What about online? When is the last time you eve clicked on a banner ad? What about a text link next to a search result. Obvioulsy people do it (look at Google’s earnings) but I am not sure how sustainable it is.

I recently read a Forrester report “Marketings New Key Metric: Engagement” which I can finally relate to. First they show the traditional marketing funnel:

But then they show what it has become:

What’s interesting is how 3 of the 4 “disrupters” they have shown in the second diagram are “word of mouth” related. As media continues to fragment further I suggest that marketing in general is dead in the water and that all businesses small or large should get back to basics. That is:
  1. Provide a fantastic, memorable product or service
  2. Back it up with fantastic programs to turn your customers into fans

If you can achieve this, ALL of your marketing dollars should be funneled into word of mouth enhancements. Capitalize on your success as a business. Generate awareness through your loyal network of satisfied customers. Don’t waste money chasing the general public who are almost impossible to reach these days and even if you do, there is no personal context so they will cast aside your message.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Marketing Musings: Some Vacuum Cleaners Suck

Just how important is it to move with the times? In my opinion change is everything and ignoring what’s going on in your industry because you are in love with your product or service seals your long term fate. I talked about this in more depth back in Week 27 and previously I also mentioned James Dyson and his approach to winning in business. Disclaimer: Dyson is one of my heroes. He is the very essence of what it means to compete on the basis of innovation and design as opposed to price and spin.

With that out of the way let’s have cold hard look at Dyson versus Oreck. I wouldn’t normally just pick on a competitor for the sake of it but lately I have seen an increased number of Oreck ads and I also happened by a store of theirs in Manhattan over the weekend. They sell on history, price and “free steak knife” promotions. Let’s have a look at some pictures:

Oh my, notice anything? Don’t judge a book by its cover I hear you say. Well the fact is that Dyson changed the playing field when he removed bags from the vacuuming equation simply because they clog. Nothing else to it, they clog; sometimes rapidly, and therefore diminish your ability to clean your house effectively. Dyson went so much further than solving this problem. He also has a passion for design and how that intersects with the practicality of a vacuum cleaner – all those odds and ends to snap on and keep neat. The result is a stunning example of being so far ahead of your competition that they literally cannot touch you.

For a great Christmas present buy your favorite friend in small business “Against the Odds”. It’s a fantastic read and will get you deep inside Dyson’s mind. Happy cleaning.