Friday, 27 November 2009

Sir Alan in The Sunday Times (if you missed it)

If you have the patience then this Sunday Times interview (from a few weeks ago) Alan Sugar: I'll fire myself - that'll learn you gives a slightly skewed but interesting insight into the man (if you believe what the papers say).

Monday, 23 November 2009

An Experiment In Successful Sales Copy

Why does everyone use totally effusive, exuberant, effervescent language to sell their products?

All it does is make you question the trustworthiness of the seller.

You ask yourself, “Why are they trying so hard? Why are they treating me like a moron? Are they desperate?”

80% of people don’t believe what advertisers say to them. Yet advertisers end up trying even harder to separate us from our money. Surely it is all counter-productive. Or maybe it does work otherwise why should so many people do it?

I have been involved in more than several product launches over the last few years. We always look at how similar businesses promote and sell their products and services. Competitors nearly always run the effusive copy:

  • “Only 147 seats left – almost sold out”

  • “Special Bonus valued at £500”

  • “Buy now before it is too late”

  • “Free… Free…. ”

  • “Special discount price”
Is this the most effective way to get people to buy from you?

If you run two parallel campaigns, one effusive/moronic and one talking to people like they are human beings, then you start to see interesting results.

The results and feedback are consistent:

  • Most folk distrust over-hyped claims

  • With higher ticket prices, trust and reputation become more important than outrageous benefit statements.

In fact, the hyperbole is often counter-productive. It turns people off.

So look at how you are selling your products and services. (As an example, we have done this with our new Business Club.) By talking straight and honestly, most readers will recognise that you haven’t fallen into the trap of writing marketing nonsense, will trust you more and buy more from you. Try it. It works.

Unless you only want morons for customers, in which case…

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Customers Fight Back (on YouTube) - a guitar (or anti-airline) anorak special

Here is a wonderful example of the customer fighting back (over 6 million views of the original video).

I am a bit of a guitar geek. Good guitars cost several thousand pounds and have tremendous sentimental value. So if they are mishandled you get a little up tight.

United (and many other companies) just don't seem to get how poor customer service can make us wild with anger. And then they respond 'with too little too late'.
(And the song's not bad either.

see the video below

and of course there's a public statement from Dave Carroll

who got some kind of 'result' because United did make a reply.

and then the next video, Song #2


Customer Is King - the book

Friday, 20 November 2009

Fed Up With Your Job?

Here's some random thoughts if you feel trapped in your job and want to jazz it up. Some variations on a theme.

  1. Redesign where you do the job – disappear to the internet cafe

    Show the company how you can give them what they want faster or cheaper but doing it your way,
    eg working from home or an internet cafe or getting someone else to do the paperwork.
    Keep the company’s best interests at heart. Create a business case for doing it your way. Demonstrate the upside and minimal downside for the company. You work when you want to. The company gets better value for money.

  2. Redesign Your Life – Become the Outsource – disappear to Thailand

    Create a proposal to automate your job (using Virtual PAs, better computer systems and email autoresponders) so that you don’t have to physically be present. Move to somewhere cheap,
    eg Thailand, and work UK hours via Skype phone and conferencing, email and the web to deliver the same service.
    You get to live like a millionaire, sit by the sea and go scuba diving. They get the same if not better service from you.

  3. Go freelance – jump ship

    Make yourself indispensable. Create a niche or centre of expertise. Offer to go freelance and deliver the same product/service (in half the time at twice the hourly rate). You end up getting all that free time; they still get your expertise. Spend the other half of your time doing other work or practicing your golf swing.

  4. Mini-Retirement – you won’t get it unless you ask for it…

    Propose that you were thinking of leaving but would like to suggest an alternative: a mini-retirement with a return to work guaranteed. Take, say, 12 or 16 weeks to do that trip you always wanted to do.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Getting Gold Star Service For A Bronze Price - little things...

Thursday 09:00:
see the computer I want on the Misco website and phone
up to get a RAM upgrade added to the pack.

“No problem” the man says, "but it will take up to three days to be fitted and tested what with the weekend on the way etc”. Fair enough I say to myself.

The next discussion is about delivery. Do I want ‘standard’ which is 4-5 days or ‘super express’ for the extra ten pounds? Not being in a rush I was happy to wait the extra few days.

“Fine” says Andy, “in which case your computer should be with you in 8 working days, maybe less, maybe more”.

I hand over my credit card details and pop a note in my diary to chase up the machine if it hasn’t arrived in the next fortnight. Because I am a past customer they have all the correct delivery details already. Excellent. It is now 10.00am.

Friday 08:45:
The doorbell rings and there’s the postman standing there with
my new computer in his hands!

How did that happen? It is a tad under 23 hours since I put the phone down
in which time they have found the obscure Toshiba model I had ordered, fitted and tested the extra RAM, reboxed it and sent it off so that it was with me for breakfast the next day.

Talk about under-promise and over-deliver. Talk about exceeding customer expectations. Talk about blowing the customer away. So, Misco, to quote Eminem, “I’m your biggest fan!”

How to play your own game and ignore the big dogs!

Here's a lovely 12 minute video (below) about John Nese at Galco in LA - a soda store. Yes 12 minutes! It covers so many key themes:

  • working a niche
  • playing your own game
  • passion about your product (he sells 500 varieties)
  • passion about customers
  • passion about your suppliers
  • sticking your fingers up at the big dogs (Pepsi Cola in this instance)
  • focusing on the people who want your product and ignoring the rest
  • becoming the expert in your field
  • selling the product and the benefits and not selling on price

I wonder, how much soda can you sell?

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

HOW DO I... ensure my supply chain is flexible...?

Jerry mentioned the
Director article which is not available online so here it is (my piece) in a nutshell:

HOW DO I... ensure my supply chain is flexible enough to cope with changes in demand?

Wine merchant Edward Parker says margins in his sector are not generous and so 'cash flow management is absolutely key'. So too is seamless operations strategy. Parker sources wine for private individuals from producers globally and delivers across the UK...

Robert Craven, founder,
The Directors' Centre

You are right to be sensitive to the situation. Your long-term financial performance will be related to your ability to get the right product to the right person at the right time.

To manage the unforeseeable is a contradiction. You must keep involved and engaged in every stage of the supply chain. To manage customer expectations, you need to know what is happening.

One option would be to offer gold, silver and bronze guaranteed delivery dates to accommodate different customer expectations with prices to match.

Clients will tolerate late delivery if they are kept in the loop or offered alternatives. Ironically, the ambiguous delivery time could be used to his advantage and built into the story. You say “most of your suppliers are in France”. You could state: “Our wines are sourced from small family businesses so our delivery schedules may appear a little erratic”. This adds to the mystique, builds in some slippage and early delivery will be an extra surprise.

The full article can be read at this scanned pdf.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Robert Craven - Entrepreneur Guru - What would you do if you were in his shoes?

This was posted at the Business Support blog and I have taken a few lines from it.

"....Finally, I come to the aspect of what I would do if I were Robert Craven.

What could Craven do, occupying as he does the position of a leader in his marketplace (Consultancy).

Anyone involved in assisting SMEs wishes to help raise the standards and expertise of small business management.

As a market leader in UK Business advice and assistance Craven also needs to protect himself from business consultants trying to use or cheapen his business material.

So what’s my suggestion?

It is simple. Robert Craven (RC) already does a fantastic business presentation for UK SMEs in his business series: “Lets talk, More profit”. Market himself/rebrand himself as a business guru ‘celebrity’, increasing his ‘reach’.

He is already known as an author but he would benefit from raising of his profile. Creating top quality DVDs of his material (e.g. More Profit and Bright Marketing) and, with the help of the best PR in the business, he can try to -reposition himself as the celebrity business guru, such as the like of Alan Sugar.

Does this need TV to achieve it? I suspect it does, but that is where professionals come in.

The point is to rebrand Craven as a celebrity (i) is achievable and (ii) which bring him all the rewards he deserves (increased prominence, respect for his materials, financial return etc)."

Your thoughts?