Posts tagged ‘NETT magazine’

28 July 2011

Target those who need you most

From my NETT blog:

Our politicians have shown they could learn a thing or two from small business when it comes to marketing their wares.

You can be the best at something, but if people don’t know about it, that fact won’t get you anywhere.

The federal election brought home for me the importance of positioning and promotion when you’re marketing your business. The shambolic campaign and aftermath showed that you can be running the only western economy to emerge unscathed from the global financial crisis, which should be enough to get you elected a saint, but if you can’t sell your accomplishments – and you let your competitors dictate the agenda – you will be severely spanked.

Policy waffling, backstabbing and leaks didn’t help, but history tells us that Australians give a neophyte government a second chance, even if it’s made mistakes. For the government to have so many runs on the board, the election should have been a walkover. To my mind, Labor’s biggest problems were a lack of firm positioning and an inability to sell itself to its customer base – uh, I mean the electorate.

These principles also apply to running a small business. It’s not enough to be the best-in-class for service, delivery, reliability, range or innovation; if your customers and potential customers don’t know it, you won’t survive.

The first step in this process is positioning. You need to work out what you’re best at; what your salient attribute or point of difference is, and why it’s meaningful to your customers. It’s only worth focusing on a defining attribute if:

  • It’s important and valued by your target market;
  • It’s distinctive and can’t be easily copied;
  • It’s superior – you do a better job of it than your competition;
  • It’s communicable – you can make it obvious to consumers.

That last point leads into the importance of promotion.

You need to be able to use both modern and traditional communication tools to let your customer base know exactly what your points of difference are, and this starts with making it easy for your customers to find you on the internet.

Read the full article.

24 July 2011

You can’t do it all

From my NETT blog:

Technology can help you accomplish a wide range of business tasks without needing to engage other people to get them done. But that doesn’t mean that it’s the way you should use it.

In a past life, I worked for the 2000 Sydney Olympics writing speeches for the CEO of the Paralympic Games. Most of the speeches I wrote back then revolved around the same theme: interdependence.

The CEO would often explain to audiences that when you’re a child, you’re dependent upon your parents for all your needs. As you grow up, you learn to take control of your own life and become independent.

Most people believe independence is the end game. However, as the CEO would point out, independence is only a step along the journey of interdependence. Working with other people and developing relationships of mutual co-operation is a higher form of psychological and social development, she would say.

This philosophy was an eye-opener to me at the time. It’s what the idea of community is all about – people working together to enrich their lives and accomplish more than they each could on their own.

Despite this epiphany, when I started my small business several years later, I forgot what she’d taught me. While I engaged contractors to perform some of the work, I focused on doing as much as possible myself – client liaison, project management, invoicing, marketing and sales, even bookkeeping.

Read the rest of the article

14 January 2011

The more things change…

From my NETT blog:

When the iPad was released last year, there was a cacophony of ooohs and aaahs as geeks, early adopters and visionaries welcomed Apple’s shiny new thing. But if you listened carefully, you could also hear sighs and mumbles. That was from the people who were saying under their breath, “Oh s@!?# – another new technology to try and master – I give up!”

As a small business operator, it can be frustrating to try and stay on top of all of the technologies that may or may not be relevant to your business. It’s easy to question the justification for learning new things that may turn out to be a flash in the pan. Why get immersed in Facebook when it might turn out to be the next MySpace? So tablets are buzzing at the moment – didn’t the Palm Pilot have its day in the sun, to end up on a shelf gathering dust next to my Ipaq Pocket PC? Has Twitter peaked? Should I hitch my star to Foursquare, or Facebook Places – or neither? And I just signed up for a long contract with my iPhone 4 – don’t tell me that Android is the next big thing!

No one has a crystal ball that can tell you which technologies and platforms are going to be winners, or how things will evolve in the future.

Classic examples I use with my marketing students include the VHS vs. Beta wars of the 1980s, or the Blu-Ray vs. HD-DVD stoush this past decade. Many people – and retailers – who invested in Betamax players and tapes or HD-DVD collections were left with expensive but useless equipment when they lost the marketing battle with their technologically inferior rivals.

It’s an understandable human reaction to say “Enough!” and refuse to adopt a technology until they work out the bugs, or until the winning format becomes clear. When I was a kid, my older brother installed a state-of-the-art 8-track player in his first car. When that technology collapsed soon after, he was so annoyed that he refused to buy a cassette player in case that technology became superceded, too. It did eventually get replaced by CDs, but in the meantime he spent more than 10 years in the music wilderness.

Read the rest of the article

- Ray Welling

17 November 2010

Target those who need you most – NETT blog

Our politicians have shown they could learn a thing or two from small business when it comes to marketing their wares.
You can be the best at something, but if people don’t know about it, that fact won’t get you anywhere.
The federal election brought home for me the importance of positioning and promotion when you’re marketing your business. The shambolic campaign and aftermath showed that you can be running the only western economy to emerge unscathed from the global financial crisis, which should be enough to get you elected a saint, but if you can’t sell your accomplishments – and you let your competitors dictate the agenda – you will be severely spanked.

Policy waffling, backstabbing and leaks didn’t help, but history tells us that Australians give a neophyte government a second chance, even if it’s made mistakes. For the government to have so many runs on the board, the election should have been a walkover. To my mind, Labor’s biggest problems were a lack of firm positioning and an inability to sell itself to its customer base – uh, I mean the electorate.

These principles also apply to running a small business. It’s not enough to be the best-in-class for service, delivery, reliability, range or innovation; if your customers and potential customers don’t know it, you won’t survive.

The first step in this process is positioning. You need to work out what you’re best at; what your salient attribute or point of difference is, and why it’s meaningful to your customers. It’s only worth focusing on a defining attribute if:

Read the rest of Ray’s column here: http://nett.com.au/blogs/target-those-who-need-you-most/162.html

18 August 2010

Online technology and the 8th P of marketing

(Excerpted from this month’s column in Nett magazine)

We all know that online technology has irrevocably changed the way we do business. It’s high time that it changed marketing theory, too.

If you’ve read up on marketing theory, you’ve no doubt heard of the four Ps: product, price, place, and promotion. They form the elements you need to consider when planning your marketing strategy, and were recently joined by three more Ps: people, process and physical evidence.

I’d argue that because of technology changes of the past 40 years, particularly the rise of online, an eighth P needs to be added: partnership.

The technology-fuelled exponential increase in information sharing has fundamentally changed the relationship between businesses and their customers. Ever since the Industrial Revolution, businesses have been firmly at the centre of the universe, with information from the business (advertising, product information, product development, etc.) travelling in one direction to customers, with little or no information travelling back.

But the net changed all that. Businesses are no longer at the centre of the universe; the customer is now firmly at the centre, with the power to choose from a huge number of businesses and information sources. This has been described as a Copernican shift, because in business terms it’s as radical as the shift in thinking from believing the Earth was at the centre of the universe to the realisation that it was just another planet revolving around a huge and powerful sun.

There has also been a shift from one-way communication flow (business to customer) to two-way flow. Customers can and do tell you what they think of you, your products and your customer service.
As a businessperson, the simplest way to understand this new situation is that it’s not about you, it’s about them. The master-servant style of relationship doesn’t work any more.

Read the rest of the column here: http://nett.com.au/blogs/online-tech-and-the-8th-p-of-marketing/152.html

Ray Welling

8 July 2010

Now in NETT magazine – monthly

I’m now writing a monthly column for NETT magazine. Here’s a preview of the first column - click through to read the whole piece:

What’s the secret to financial success for small businesses? It turns out that Dr Seuss could hold the key.

Everyone has an idea for their dream job. Mine is to be the Australian Stieg Larsson.

Am I doing my dream job? Not yet, but like many small business owners, I’m working towards it by channelling my passion for words and ideas into a more tangible commercial enterprise.

Follow your passion and the money will follow. Opinion is strongly divided on the truth of this aphorism. Is it a good idea commercially to follow your dream? Plenty of passionate people without the requisite business skills have gone broke following their passion. I think the reverse is true: if you don’t have that passion, you can almost guarantee mediocre results.

In his latest book Linchpin, marketing guru Seth Godin talks about emotional labour, some essential part of yourself that can’t be automated or outsourced. This emotional labour, he argues, spells the difference between ‘just a job’ and ‘work’.

Sonia Simone, writing for the Copyblogger blog, says: “When you’re starting out, it’s tempting to look for a paint-by-numbers solution. Something that works a lot like a franchise, with a three-ring binder that explains what buttons to push.

‘The problem with push-button systems is that you can train a robot, or an ultra low-wage worker offshore, to push that button for you.
“What happens when someone comes along who can push the button 104% more efficiently than you can? Or who can push it at 97% of your cost?”

Small business success, she writes, lies with the emotional labour you bring to the task at hand. “It’s about the part that wants your creativity, your strange ideas, your ADHD, your intersection of interests, your passion, your giving a damn, your hard thinking. Simply put, it’s the love that you put into it.”

Read the whole column here: http://nett.com.au/blogs/do-it-for-love-and-money/135.html

Ray Welling

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