Simplify your marketing, make it real

November 29th, 2010 by Scott Farrell

Marketing is the make or break of most businesses. Don’t think about it as an activity, an action, a thing-to-do, a campaign.

Think about your new clients, what are they doing, thinking about, talking about. How can you help those people ? What is the conversation you would have with them ?

Understand where your new clients are at mentally, physically, emotionally. Understand their needs, wants, desires. Take your business TO THEM, fit in with them, include them, reach out to them, welcome them, talk to them.

Work out where you can intersect their lives. What message will you bring to them at what time.

Even if every day you just journal those types of thoughts, experiences, ideas. Talk to existing clients, and potential clients, not to sell or market, just to understand them.

After a time your better understanding will lead to better marketing.

Listening to the WordPress guy

November 24th, 2009 by Scott Farrell

You’ll see the video interview embedded below

It covers a bunch of favourite topics of mine:
– open source
– entrepreneurs – including himself, Jeff Bezos, google, ipod, cloud computing, they even give my old darling IBM a few seconds
– social network software, facebook, twitter, budypress
– plugins
– startup captial
– they have only about 12 employees to start with, now 50.
– about that they have 1200 servers, and 3 low cost data centres (and they expect them to fail, and failover fast)
– caching – they say its easy to cache high volume sites, but the low volume sites cant be cache

I found it very insightful.

Warning : its long – I think like an hour

How to get my money that is in your wallet

November 24th, 2009 by Scott Farrell

The Guy Kawasaki  video reminded me of something I was talking about recently.

You need to make a machine, that starts at the customer’s wallet, and goes all the way to your bank account. Starts with the customer, via marketing, sales, delivery and support.

It start with giving value to the customer, and having a meshed organisation, so the customer/marketing/sales/product all works together to extract the sale. This may seem obvious but hard to do. Poor sales performance doesn’t require better sales training, or better/new sales people, it needs more cohesion between sales & marketing, and marketing & the customer. If this all meshes, then each piece is easy and natural.

A good example of poor meshing is software development. Customer asks:
“what do you do?”
“software development, using xcf method with agile computing and cloud components”  …. this means NOTHING to the customer.
customer asks : “can you program CRMs for my website”
“yes we can”
customer asks : “can you help with our monthly budget reporting ?”
“yes we can”
customer asks : “would I be able to get monthly sales ROI month on month for website sales ?”
“yes, I’ll get back to you on that in a proposal”

Given you do everything, sales and marketing aren’t able to be specific about anything. This is the real swiss army knife approach, we do everything, which might even be true. But you can’t effectively market or sell ‘everything’.

Art of The Start Video

November 24th, 2009 by Scott Farrell

I read Guy Kawasaki’s book some time ago. It was an easy read, and seemed quite useful.

Here is a video where he talks about all the points in the book. So if you want a quick overview, start with the video.

He throws a bunch of comedy into the speech, and some background , like I didn’t he worked for apple.

He made a few great points:
he had a 2×2 matrix, be different, be valuable, don’t be dog food.
“work out how to get your money out of the customers purse.

Permission is the key

October 30th, 2009 by Scott Farrell

A viral campaign has a few necessary ingredients to get a viral social success.

One is that it needs to have some value in passing it to my friends. I don’t want to look like I am abusing my friends. I want to be the first one to post the new link and idea. So being cool, or for the social good (like cancer research), will probably get you there.

Then you need permission. Don’t spam or interrupt. Ask permission.

Some smart guy tweeted me this link about 3 successful viral campaigns in social media. 1 & 3 show that permission was important. They all had value to pass on.

I think the asking is an important part. “Please send this to your friends”. Value. Permission.

New Innovation leveraging web2 ideas

October 27th, 2009 by Scott Farrell

Just listening to Aneesh Chopra (the CTO of US government). He talked about ‘know your farmer’ – so when you buy eggs, you know how local they are.

It made me think of an iphone app that reads bar codes, and helps manage your diet, or gives recipe ideas.

I thought about selling a spare table and chairs I have. I should go put it on the notice board. But what if there was a way I could list it socially, to people in the immediate area.

I am thinking more local, my friends is obvious, how about my building i live in, connect to local people and local businesses
Is there a geo capability in facebook/twitter ? I guess it could be abused though
I am thinking of something around local supply and demand, sort of like local barter. A matching system of local demand and supply.

A Value adding analysis

October 26th, 2009 by Scott Farrell

A colleague of mine Kevin tweeted a URL about Agile Software Development.

Whilst agile software is smart, I realised there is broadly 2 types of activities in your company. 2 sorts of activities that you can spend your time on.

The first, is those things you activities think you need to do. Like write software documentation (in the case of agile software). But the documentation costs time and money, and is generally costly, and if you think about the value its delivering is small.

The manifesto says ‘working software’ is better than documentation. So perhaps if you spend more time on better software, you can waste less on other support costs. Like, did you ever read a manual to using google search ? How about picking up a manual to Microsoft excel ? enough said.

I think this idea can be extended to many areas of business. A bit more time spent on design, planning. And less time spent on running the business.

A better product, or a more streamlined business practices, means spending less time and money on more wasteful activities.

Do you need a plan for revenue ?

October 25th, 2009 by Scott Farrell

After listening to a client of mine, she asserts a few common points :

1. If we build a community, and get traffic to the site, how are we going to make money from it ?

2. The younger people, gen Y, that will come, don’t have money.

I must say, the above are pretty common comments. I am not saying they are wrong, but they seem conservative, and perhaps short sighted. It is easy for corporates to be short sighted, given fiscal year and shareholder challenges.

After listening to Marc Andreessen, it was clear that the big guys, build the community and business model first. They stick to their guns and don’t sell out to revenue. I guess they are trying to tie up the market, and then build revenue once they are self sustainable and big enough barriers to competitors.

I have written other article talks about Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point, Seth Godin idea’s about marketing, and web2. It talks about if you get it right, you get unlimited free marketing.

I think if you get the eye balls on your content, then the money follows. Its like if you could get free TV airtime – you don’t ask how do you make money out of free TV spots.

I also have another post about eyeballs.   I quoted Donald Trump:
He does make an interesting point :
“sustainable traffic is THE source of competitive advantage on the web.”

It seems planning for traffic and communites would be sufficient in most cases.

I believe Gen Y are more likely to be single, have more disposable income, and more likely to spend online. I’d say they might be the best target in a lot cases anyway.

Marc Andreessen – netscape and ning – talks about innovation on the web

October 25th, 2009 by Scott Farrell

This  video is a great interview with Marc Andreessen.

He talks about his companies,  his joint ventures and investments.

He is on the board of facebook, ebay.

He talks about his company ning, twitter, facebook and their monetization, and fall of newspapers.

Any tech entrepreneur already knows this, but ‘how to do micro innovation’. You write your apps, and run them on cloud computing up on amazon.

I heard about one model, using adwords to research ahead of building a product. See the demand, for a small cost, BEFORE you build.

backup to the cloud

October 23rd, 2009 by Scott Farrell

These guys have a smart idea – backupify.com- backup your life on the cloud, into the cloud.

We’ve actually seen a few of these cloud services fall over. Ma.gnolia comes to mind. Their mysql went down, and no backup, and then they never came back. There is probably lots of other examples.

I am always worried about my itunes and original photos. But these are so big, its too hard to upload to the web. I have them all copied to a second hard disk, and also use the mac os time machine. But its all at one site (home).

I think they are more thinking blogs, facebook etc.

I have some of my business data backed up to amazon s3. PDF scans of business documents, wedding photos, and a few other things.

path to web2 deployment

October 23rd, 2009 by Scott Farrell

Business won’t invest in something they don’t understand. So why would they invest in web2, if they are currently doing a poor job of web2.

There is a huge gap in understanding of web2 capabilities and tools.

There is really no use talking about web2, without making to relevent to business.

A current client and I are working together, to better understand relevance of web2 for their business.

So far our business strategy is going to use web2 to:
– leverage existing assets
– those assets are : your projects, your current users,  your volunteers, any marketing efforts, including offline and google adbuys
– web2 is going to be the big bucket to catch all the interest we generate. instead of catching individual drips in our hands, we are going to use a big bucket.

So a large part of the strategy is to engage more visitors, and do something with the warm leads. If they aren’t ready to buy, lets offer other avenues to stay in touch.

now what we do with the interest we collect in the web2 bucket
– think of it like having a big paddle to swirl the water in the bucket, to generate more activity in there
– the ideas are limitless in web2, as to what tools to use, and what can be achieved
– you need to first dream the dream

So bringing it back to leveraging existing business, and capturing more value, brings the relevance back to business.

1 comment - Latest by:
  • Kevin Leversee

    This goes with making the value leap for the client. Brilliant work.

web2 and relevance to current businesses

September 25th, 2009 by Scott Farrell

Had dinner with a friend and her CEO.

The idea was to discuss web 2.0

Now the CEO was only vaguely interested, and she noted her board was less interested.

Their current site is a poor web 1 site , about 8 pages, most of the good content crammed onto 1 page (so poor SEO).

They do bi yearly PDF newsletter.

They aren’t a mega organisation.

The value of web2 to them, is difficult. I came down to a few reasons :

1. it needs to fit your company. web1 fits traditional business with large budgets for marketing and media buys

2. web2 fits better where you have time to grow, and community fits better

They keep asking on how they control the whole web2, and how they sell to the web2 people.

So I guess they want the web2 traffic, and just abuse them the old and traditional methods.

The marketing manager, my friend, started to get on board. I don’t think the CEO gives 2 hoots.

We also discussed how web2 dis intermediates a lot of groups , including:

– ad agencies
– media buys
– web site builders, and content maintainers
– marketers in general

the idea is you get closer to your customer, spend more of your focus on your customers, and less time/money/effort on marketing/advertising/interupting.

I guess long term, its about building trust, respect and value, as opposed to spending money and abusing.

This article has similar ideas acidlabs

Top australian marketing blogs

September 25th, 2009 by Scott Farrell

woohoo – I am in the top 164, in the charts with a bullet – up to number 160.

Atleast I a made it into the charts.

I now have to climb a little harder.

http://adspace-pioneers.blogspot.com/2009/06/top-164-australian-marketing-pioneer.html

competitive advantage on the web

September 7th, 2009 by Scott Farrell

I am just reading ‘entrenpreneurship 101′ , trump-university (Michael E. Gordon).

The book is simple, has simple concepts, and is a reasonable read for those that are starting their first business. Lots of motherhood statements, and bleeding obvious, but we all need to learn the simple lessons some how.

He does make an interesting point :
“sustainable traffic is THE source of competitive advantage on the web.”

Whilst I don’t truly believe its the only advantage, it might well be the most powerful.

Lots of the web 2.0 community success supports the focus on traffic.

I also believe reduced internal cost (and I dont mean price) is also another way to compete. Basically do something similar, but do it cheaper (sort of basic Michael Porter analysis).

I also like his ideas to opportunity models. The pictorial of a lot of ideas into a funnel, a matching criteria, and only a few opportunities out is simple, but well presented. The book positions an idea that fits as an opportunity, some of the fit characteristics included:
– personal fit
– capabilities
– interest/passion
– profitability
– scale

Whist an obvious idea, its simply over looked by many starting their first business. My advice to all new projects/business’/products is simply, if we do reasonably well – how much can we make ? The answer needs to be huge, at least some multiple of a salary.

The book also talks about a ‘money making machine’ – with strategy/operations/revenue. This is how I tend to focus new business ideas, can I mechanise large parts of the business, what are the business systems that need to support the business. I go back to strategy changes to ensure before I start, that the margins are high, and you are building a core business system. This was heavily influenced from my reading of  ‘rich dad, poor dad’ books.

I start with the idea, work out margins, what business systems are needed to support the operations, mechanise, strategy to increase margins and increase automation. Then I work out how to capture the customers, and then go back to strategy, to make sure that there is a fit between margins/strategy/customer capture. Customer capture is clearly the number 1 business system. The rest is your money making machine.

Being more valuable

July 10th, 2009 by Scott Farrell

I see value not as a personal thing “how valuable am I” , but more about opportunity, margin, and possibility.

Traditional small business services selling  puts flexibility and being vendor agnostic at the forefront. This helps show you as flexible and credible. You stand behind your consulting skills and ethics, and say we are good craftsman. This indeed wins deals.

The flip side to this is you are underselling yourself.

Review your most recent good sale, and ask yourself  “did we get maximum value”.

There is something to be said for being flexible, and getting the maximum squeak out of the pig. Which is probably where your last good sale was. And its a real credit to your team, to beat out stiff competition. Its quite likely that there was no more value to be had in this project, no matter how well organised you were.

You need to evaluate the ‘art of the possible’.  You need to learn, model, adapt, and be stronger/smarter/swifter for the next series of deals.

We want to sell value, which is a stack of value with different layers, I see it as ‘wallet share’.  How much of the budget can we command ?  If the client is holding a fist full of fifties, lets grab most of them, and not let too many fall to the floor, and don’t let them spend too many on pokies. We want most of the money to be in our pockets. This is similar to value chain analysis, or vertical integration. Can you take on some of the value of your suppliers, or can you do more of the project that your client commonly does. Basically you are trying to make your slice of the pie bigger and bigger.  “greed is good” (Gordon Gecko).

We might well win the deal, but at lesser value. So I am trying to find a lesson in value, how can we command more value next client ?

If we only do consulting gigs, with using are brightest people, in an initial project, we win the deal, but loose value now, and throughout the life of the project. Its likely if you stay with this revenue model, the company will never sky rocket. We need to break the mould, find more value, price differently, be aggressive, be relentless in delivering more value.

I think you are onto a winner with:
– a brand/niche/focus , this is our ‘why us’
– get products out that sell on value, are repeatable, and can be sold by sales folk – so this is our scalability via a business system
– get the new value product also (see vertical integration above), this is our value accelerator to capture more value on every deal

I challenge you, how could you deliver more value for our clients ? Bigger pie, more of the fifties in our pockets instead of spread around the place.

1 comment - Latest by:
  • Kevin Leversee

    I liked this. Well written Scott, and I can see that in the future you would make a very good Guy Kawasaki type for Australia.

Be focussed. Be specific.

April 16th, 2009 by Scott Farrell

get focussed

Don’t have a generic product, that can do lots of things.

This is especially important if you are a services company.

Ok so you can do lots of things, for lots of customers.

You are good at custom made products, or customized services.

But that is HARD to sell, pitch, understand, communicated, comprehend, remember.

MBAs teach mass customization, and a market of one. But the marketing for that is difficult.

The worst of it is – if the customer doesn’t understand all your inherent flexibility, and market of one, he might be embarrased that he doesn’t understand. Emabarrased customers just dont call you back.

You need to tell a story. That starts with your brand, the dicussions you have, and continues with brochures/websites. The story needs to be beleivable, and simple.  This, at a minimum, gives you credibility. I say simple, so it can be remembered, referenced, recalled and acted upon.

get specific

be that what your customer NEEDS

to do that ….. you need to be a cheese knife when your customer have just bought a block of cheese …. no sense in being a swiss army knife …. that makes a mess of cheese, mess of the knife, and no-one would think to use it for cheese

I  am a cheese knife

i am a    cheese   knife

customer thinks : who cares …. what is that guy smoking ?

i am a cheese knife ….

now when he buys some cheese ….. he will think …. i need a cheese knife guy …. wait I know one …..

now if you were your normal, I can do everything, swiss army knife guy ….. the customer just would have used a kitchen knife on his cheese – he’s just isnt going to ring swiss-army-knife guy.

be that cheese knife guy

1 comment - Latest by:

Checking on your customer focus

March 2nd, 2009 by Scott Farrell

Discussing business with a mate today – we discussed ‘justifying your own existance’.

More people need to understand that long term they need to justify their existance.

You need to understand the value your provide your customer.

If that value is only in the one transaction, then you have a flawed business model, and probably not enough value for your customer longer term.

If you are merely selling someone elses product, and providing a match making service – then you need to be clear about that. You also need to be careful that the value you are providing is probably small.

Understanding the value chain you work within can help. You need to look at the whole transaction as viewed by your customer. What other purchases were part of the transactions. What other influences were there,  or what other people or channels lead to the transaction.

Once you understand the value chain of the transaction – you can go beyond, and look at the lifecycle of the transaction. How does the product get consumed, ans disposed of. Is there any support needed, or implementation, or does it drag other products ?

Understanding the transaction lifecycle and the value chain, you might find another way to package your transaction. You may be able to add value to the chain or the lifecycle. This might be as difficult as vertication integration, or via partnering, reselling, or simply referalls. Not only might your pie get bigger, but you may transition from a single transaction to a long term client relationship.

Remember, look from the customer point of view, what value are you providing? can you provide more value ?

Change is accelerating – what are your plans to keep pace

February 4th, 2009 by Scott Farrell

Its easy to sit back, and let the world change outside.

Within your walls of your company and family – your world isn’t changing.

But perhaps your customer’s world is changing.

Very definately your kids world is changing.

You need to be fired up about change, as change is the new mandate.

You should hear what Obama is saying … He’s tearing down virtual walls by appearing on arab TV. Obama is getting rid of Guantonomo Bay. Both of these are symbols of integration and peace. A big change from the US stance of scare and hate.

Change – what change …..

Get fired up about change, its impact, and the opportunity it allows. This youtube video should really get you fired.

more honours students in india – than the US has kids

I can’t help but feel the move to everything digital and online. I need to grab my piece of online.

I also previously blogged about change – more about business and business models than people.

What are your views on change ?

What are you doing about change ?

The velocity of business

February 2nd, 2009 by Scott Farrell

Its important to not only achieve profit, its the time period in which you can achieve it in.

For small business – this doesn’t seem obvious at first.

You need to become successful and profitable NOW, not next year, and definately not ‘one-day’.

You need to make the hard decisions, make the big changes, and have your success now.

If you wait, and go slow, your life will dribble away, and your business will just be wasting your time.

So when you are planning – move the horizon to something closer, make it immediate.

A lot of this depends on the owner of the business to implement, and its the old “work in the business, versus working on the business’. I think you need 30%-60% of your time spent working ‘on the business’ – being planning strategy, marketing, and working with partners etc.

If you are a public company, you have shareholders demanding profit this year, so generally there is a mandate to get things done. If you are privately owned, you can just wonder around, with little or no growth if you don’t get stuck into the changes now.

Google talks about velocity of business.

If its worth doing, is worth planning,
if its worth planning its worth doing,
if its worth doing its worth doing NOW.

Bring those plans sooner and faster. Bring the profit NOW.

In order to achieve sooner and faster you need:
– time – reorganise your time to work on the business (see above)
– skills – for planning growth, marketing, branding, sales – perhaps outsource some of this
– motivation / inspiration

If you need motivation / inspiration, read these :

Think Big – Donald Trump

Think 10x – Michael Hewitt-Gleeson

Be passionate – Charles Kovess

Two of these guys above I wrote about here

4 stages in technology lifecycle – and how to profit from it

February 1st, 2009 by Scott Farrell

It will help you if you can better predict innovation.

You will be able to take advantage of trends before and as they occur.

Just listening to Wired Magazine editor – Chris Anderson, he notes 4 stages:
– critical price
– critical mass
– displacement of other technology
– price approaches zero

At each stage, there is opportunities for smart entrepreneurs. These opportunities are both with that product, and with adjacent products and services.

You should identify where you and your products are. If they are about to go through some of these inflection points.

I really believe there are opportunity if you are first to commoditize a product. You dont want to be a competitor in a commoditized market. But if you take someone else’s market, and commoditize it on them …. now that has some profit potential.

Some of this parallels what I have observed from open source software, and how it competes with commercial software.  Open source software cant compete with all of the features, or all of the support of commercial software. So when the price is high, and the market smallish, open source doesn’t have a chance. It when the market expands, and features are less important, and support is less important, then open source can more easily compete. Clearly the commercial software guys can’t compete once price approaches zero, but open source, and SaaS can compete at those levels.

I see lots of opportunity for SaaS and commoditing products/markets. So long at there is already wide adoption, its a product that is well understood, you can help push the price towards zero and make some money on the way.

getting ideas to spread – an intro to Seth Godin

January 31st, 2009 by Scott Farrell

Seth is someone you ought to listen to.

Here is an easy and fun to watch video as an intro to his ideas.

This video introduces you to:
– old companies sell average products to average people, and use a lot of TV advertising. Seth says this is dead
– we are in an economy of idea spreading, or idea diffusion. Make something remarkable, and get WOM (word of mouth) to spread the idea
– be remarkable. Good or very good isn’t enough – be remarkable

Seth is listed in the top 50 business thinkers, runs a blog, and authored a lot of books.

You will find Seth slowly moves you along in your ability to innovate.

He has a quality that slowly convinces you of news ways to think/look/understand Before you know it, you will be innovating too.

My Take

Idea Diffusion for me brings together a few concepts:
– Malcolm Gladwell’s tipping point – talks about different sorts of people – connector/maven/salesman. Whilst Seth doesn’t differentiate between these types of people, he still makes the point – ‘telling the right person, and hopefully that person will tell/convince their friends’.
– word of mouth (WOM) advertising is a cheap and effective marketing strategy – when done well. Seth says – be remarkable – you will get WOM.
– web 2.0 and social networking on the internet has changed a lot of people’s lives. This can be explained similarly to WOM and idea diffusion.

I like the juncture between remarkable, WOM marketing, web 2.0 communities, and an ecommerce site. If you can get this happening, then you have unlimited free marketing. You have also dramaticly reduce your costs, as you no longer pay for advertising, or sales or channel commissions. You effectively disintermediate all sales/marketing costs from your business, and have unlimited scaling of your marketing for free.

The Value Leap

January 29th, 2009 by Scott Farrell

You do good work for your clients.

You want growth and to do this, generally you need more clients.

You need marketing to find the new clients.

So OK – you know about being customer focused (you read my last post).

You understand your company, but don’t describe your company to new prospects, be customer focused. The customer doesn’t really care about your company, they care about what you can do for them.

Think back to the value you give to your existing clients.

Don’t just tell your prospects about what you do, tell them the value you can give them.

This is similar to describing features and benefits. Features being things you do, and benefits being what the customer receives.

Take the conversation to the next logical step. And tell them the value, don’t make them guess, or leave it for them to interpret.

Some examples:
‘Your new furniture is great quality and unique. You’ll be very happy with it, you’ll be proud of it. Its natural timbers will make it a talking point with your friends and family.’
‘Your project will be delivered on time, and on budget. This will make your job easier. You will look good in front of your boss.’
‘With your marketing on track – you’ll get the growth you are after. You’ll get the rewards from your company that you wanted. You will feel much better about yourself. You might be able to afford some new staff, to give you more time at home with your family.’

When you are more explicit about the value, and use customer focused language, you then getting much closer to your customer. You have a shared language, and a shared view point, and often shared goals.

So take your customer focused conversation to the next step – YOU take the ‘value leap’ so that your client doesn’t have to.

Customer focus – build it into your strategy

January 29th, 2009 by Scott Farrell

Are you focused on your customer ?

You should think / write / experience everything from your customer’s perspective.

Don’t write on your website ‘We are an advertising agency’. That is focused on your self. Instead try ‘helping you to get more bang for your advertising dollar’.

Your customer focus needs to be right back at the roots of your company – in your mission /vision / brand.

This is a great post by Jay Ehret about a case study.

Here is the original focus in the case study  :

Mission: To provide our customers a great value with our lines of furniture and to provide tailored furniture and services to meet their needs, striving for 100% customer satisfaction.

Vision: To be the number one destination point for furniture in the region.

Brand Promise: To provide tailored (customized) furniture and services to meet your needs.

Can you recognize above – how its inward focused ? how it’s talking about you and your company ?

Does that sound like your own mission/vision statements ?

And here is the updated version – adapted from Jay’s work:

Mission: To deliver furniture that tells stories. To alter competition from price to experience.

Vision: delivering lifestyle to customers through furniture.

Brand Promise: Come home with pride.

We are now talking about customers and experience.

We’re taking the game from furniture to experience. Customer’s will enjoy the lifestyle benefits associated with our furniture. Customers will talk to other customers about the experience at our store.

Learn more about customer experience.

Imagine the word of mouth, from a proud owner of new ‘lifestyle furtiture’. When they next have guests over – you’ll be sure they mention your store.

1 comment - Latest by:
  • kevin leversee

    Thanks for this. Right on the money. Our Clients money,

Litmus Test – how does your brand stack up ?

January 28th, 2009 by Scott Farrell

Does your brand stack up ?

Michael Wagner has 2 compelling challenges for you:

– would your customers miss you if you went out of business ? more

– when your clients think about your company do they say ‘OMG – these people really understand me’ more

Are you delivering a service the same as the next guy ? If so, you need to make some changes.

NY Times review on tech

January 28th, 2009 by Scott Farrell

NY Times discuss smaller is better in a lot of cases (smaller PCs, smaller CPUs). This has some serious effects, which I’ll dig into later.

Virtualisation is also on the move :
The number of virtualized new servers has doubled over the last three years, which has driven the revenue of VMware, one of the leaders in this cost-saving technology, to an estimated $1.88 billion last year from $387 million in 2005.

Open source and linux seem also to be making in roads. If you are an innovator in the IT space, you can’t ignore these gems.

the article

The world is changed – are you ?

January 27th, 2009 by Scott Farrell

Did you know much of the difference between the 3rd world and developing nations has closed ? Hans has a riverting presentation – showing health and income gaps closing. He even shows how the china’s income distribution is catching the US – ‘like a ghost’.

Everyone knows that the US no longer leads manufacturing, its all going to china.

I recently heard from Phil McKinney at killerinnovations – that the ‘knowledge economy’ is over. This can be quickly seen:
– most of IT projects get outsourced to India
– almost any job that can be taught an university can be outsource – legal/accounting/engineering

CK Prahalad also discusses outsourcing IT to India. But he draws upon the reduced costs of IT, and how it effects other close industries (see the podcast in my last post).

So if your organisation relies on:
– manufacturing
– knowledge or skills that can be learned

you are in HUGE trouble if you are fighting against this outsourcing.

You NEED to embrace these world changes – or you will be very soon out of business.

Most manufacturing should be through the first wave of changed competition. If they still have high cost IT, legal, accounting – then they need to take stock of the current wave of skills outsourcing.

If you are in a services industry now, you have to wonder how much longer you can survive.

The future is innovation – or an ‘ideas economy’ (Phil McKinney).

So we have progressed through industrial revolution to manufacturing in china, to services outsourcing to India, and now we need to compete globally in the ‘ideas economy’.

CK Prahalad talks a lot about the reduced cost of innovation.

So how long are you going to wait, given:
– more outsourcing pressure
– reduced cost of innovation
– the need to compete in a global ‘ideas economy’

Now how do we get on this ladder – top 50 thinkers

January 27th, 2009 by Scott Farrell

I know this link isn’t all the new – but I believe its revealing

top 50 thinkers

I have never heard of the the first guy – but they have a podcast listed for him – guess where I am heading :)

The business leader types are always in the press etc.

The top 12 – I either know a reasonable amount about, or have read their books, or studied them in my Masters of Management (MGSM crica 1998).

Even if you don’t agree with what they say, or the texts are dated, its still very important as manny people are still running on those older models.

I think everyone should understand what Michael Porter has to say, here is an overview. Not that I would start a business based on that – but lots of older companies are purely based on it, with MBA types running those companies. You can then use that knowledge to contrast ideas like ‘blue ocean strategy’ and Seth’s ‘purple cow’.

I might do some more work on:
– referencing which are old/new world thinkers
– which ones I don’t know enough about.

1. C. K. Prahalad Indian management guru
2. Bill Gates Geek-turned-philanthropist
3. Alan Greenspan Ex-Federal Reserve chairman
4. Michael Porter Competitive strategy author
5. Gary Hamel Business strategist
6. W. Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne INSEAD professors and authors of Blue Ocean Strategy
7. Tom Peters In Search of Excellence author
8. Jack Welch Former GE CEO-turned-columnist
9. Richard Branson Iconic British entrepreneur
10. Jim Collins Good to Great author

11. Philip Kotler Kellogg’s marketing guru
12. Robert Kaplan & David Norton The creators of the balanced scorecard
13. Kjell Nordstrom & Jonas Ridderstralle Funky Business duo from Sweden
14. Charles Handy The original portfolio worker
15. Stephen Covey The man with seven successful and highly effective habits
16. Henry Mintzberg Controverisal Canadian management expert
17. Thomas Stewart Editor of Harvard Business Review
18. Malcolm Gladwell Author of The Tipping Point and Blink
19. Lynda Gratton London Business School professor and author of Hot Spots
20. Donald Trump US Apprentice host

21. Scott Adams Creator of Dilbert
22. Ram Charan Co-author of Execution
23. Vijay Govindarajan A Tuck professor and GE’s new chief innovation consultant
24. Warren Bennis Veteran on leadership
25. Clayton Christensen Innovation expert
26. Thomas Friedman Author of The World is Flat
27. Kenichi Ohmae Globalisation guru
28. Rosabeth Moss Kanter Renowned Harvard academic and author
29. Steve Jobs Apple’s iconic business leader
30. John Kotter Leadership and change guru

31. Jeff Immelt Jack Welch’s successor at GE
32. Rob Goffee & Gareth Jones Authentic leaders at London Business School
33. Adrian Slywotsky Heavyweight modern strategist
34. Marshall Goldsmith Coach to the top executives
35. Bill George Another fan of authentic leadership
36. Larry Bossidy Co-author of Execution with Charan (22)
37. Daniel Goleman The father of social and emotional intelligence
38. Marcus Buckingham Top self-help guru
39. Howard Gardner Harvard’s creator of the multiple intelligence concept
40. Edward de Bono Supreme lateral thinker
41. Al Gore
Climate change campaigner
42. David Ulrich Human resources expert
43. Seth Godin An insightful marketer
44. Costas Markides Charismatic strategist
45. Rakesh Khurana Harvard thinker
46. Richard D’Aveni Hyper-competition expert
47. Peter Senge Learning organisation guru
48. Chris Argyris The originator of the learning organisation concept
49. Jeffrey Pfeffer Stanford intellectual
50. Chris Zook Bain consultant-turned-author

Worst Ever Small Business

January 27th, 2009 by Scott Farrell

Did you start a small business in a field where you have corporate experience ?

Did you start a small business on the back of a hobby ?

Where is your business plan, and more importantly business model ?

If you setup a small business that is similar to other competitors – you are dead !

How are you going to do signficantly better in order to compete ?

You need to be remarkable (Seth Godin on remarkable) , and Seth’s book (Free Prize Inside).

I see a few people advocating ‘learn your craft’ – and whilst being knowledgeable is good, I think its very DANGEROUS.
– Christopher says in 10 secrets for 10 years – but again – I think a lot of his thoughts take you perilously too close to competing head-to-head
– this is also echoed by Malcolm Gladwell
– the worst advice I have ever heard – is to be a ‘challenger brand’ – which means you are competing head-to-head

Don’t start a business the same as someone else ….. life is just too short to spend competing doing the same thing as someone else.

Do you have the worst ever small business ?

When Its Wrong to Innovate

January 26th, 2009 by Scott Farrell

You need more profit, growth , and product changes. You know you need to differentiate , niche, position , brand and develop loyalty.

This is all innovation.

Seth Godin says you need to be remarkable. This helps reinforce – small changes, or bandaids, are generally not enough.

Surely you can’t make or review all these changes at once. You need a structure to help you reduce clutter and focus.

You can make innovation at several distrinct places in your company:
– business model
– marketing strategy
– branding innovation
– product changes
– pricing changes
– sales techniques
– customer service changes
– customer retention plans
– customer referral

Changes towards the top of the list generally cost more, requires more vision, and generally is a bigger risk.

The bigger changes (towards the top of the list) clearly require more buyin – from higher levels of management, the CEO, and even the board.

You will also have the potention to make much more profit from the innovative changes that are more aggressive. You can literally blow open a market, and make competitors irrelevant by business model changes.

Having said bigger is better, many innovations might be WRONG for you:
– you might like smaller changes – so you can manage the risk
– you might not have senior enough buyin
– you might not be able to find the right ideas
– you may not require big changes to meet your goals

As you get more comfortable with innovation, you will find the real value is innovation at more than one level at the same time, like:
– branding and pricing changes
– business model and changes in marketing channels

But again, starting with smaller changes, with one dimension is easier, and less risk to start with.

My suggestion would be for you to work out:
– what are your goals for the company
– do you need small incremental change, or do you need more significant change
– what sort of senior buyin do you have ?
– how much risk can you stomach ?

Targeting your effort to where innovation will best fit your organisation’s needs should now be the obvious answer.

So when you hear – “we need product or price changes” – ask yourself – is that the WRONG place to innovate ?

Being competitive in the Experience Economy

January 25th, 2009 by Scott Farrell

Just listened to podcast from Phil McKinney. He spoke about the ‘experience economy’. Roughly its like why is going to DisneyLand a premium over the local ride park. How does Harely generate such an emotional response ? You pay a premium to get an experience, as opposed just to a fun night out.

Obviously much of this is just strong branding over a long period of time.

It also occured to me, you need to understand where the experience is in your industry. Then you need to go and own that experience.

I’ll reference ‘Circ de Soleil’ and the book Blue Ocean Strategy. BlueOcean talked about Circ-de-Soleil beat out circuses, by making the acts faceless, and removing the expensive actors (both animals and invididual stars). BlueOcean was able to control costs, focus on a better paying market charging a premium price. Less costs and premium prices – now that’s profit.

Here I am saying Circ-de-Soleil owned the experience. Its like running an art gallery perhaps, you dont want to be at the beck-and-call of the art industry, as to who will show in your gallery.

You need to own the experience – not the artists. You need to still make the same money, if you change artists, someone else signs your star. This also stops a star leveraging their value for more pay.

Another good example is say – ‘Kaos Comedy Restaurants’. Having the waiters be funny, tell jokes, and be rude – all part of the night. They owned the experience, and not the artists.

RedBubble seems to be generating lots of attention, and recently won a cool-company award. They own the platform and the community in which the art is shown. RedBubble aren’t in trouble if a single artist goes. You dont go to redbubble to get to just one artist.

I guess this is ultimately what will put Hoyts out of business. They don’t own the movies. No-one is loyal to Hoyts – we’ll go where the movies (the art) goes. OK – they still have some experience going to the cinema.

Hoyts whole ‘only at the movies’ campaign is rediculous. For the life of me – I cant understand why Hoyts dont market ‘better at the movies’ – ‘or more fun at the movies’, or do lifestyle marketing. The only edge/value they have left is the experience – yet they market about the movie itself.

I can even see a time, when a huge star disintermediates the whole movie industry, and sells direct over the web, DRM protected movies. Like the next star wars movie – ‘only on the web’. But that’s another story.

Don’t let your company be the next circus or the next Hoyts.

Marketing activity = Danger Will Robinson !

January 25th, 2009 by Scott Farrell

How to know when your company is in danger from poor marketing planning.

“we need a new website, we need a CRM. Our last 3 web sites didn’t work – we need a better one.”

If you are thinking about marketing tactics – then that is the mistake.

If you don’t have a bigger vision, and an understanding of why you are investing in each marketing tactic, then you WILL fail.

If you can’t clearly and distrinctly describe the aims of your website, the branding it needs to promote, what interactions you want to promote. Then your screwed.

You need to take a step make, and to some marketing strategy, as opposed to planning/investing in marketing tactics.

Lots of small business owners want to see action, and don’t value sitting around talking, and strategizing. The only problem, that’s exactly what you need to be doing.

Now I know these sound contrite – but here is a starter of documents you need to consider.

Mission Statement
Vision Statement
Benefit Statement
Positioning Statement
Value Proposition
Unique Sales Proposition
Strategic Differentiation Statement
Brand
Brand Promise
Brand Identity

Now imagine you went to your web developer, or marketing planner, and said please read through these. We need your input on a new website that better supports our vision/brand/value to the market. We want to website to help us better interact with new prospects.

You and the website developer now have a shared understanding of what you are attempting to achieve. You can at least converse based on this understanding.

And when they do come up with website concepts, and ask you about the AI. All you have to do is judge it on how it meets your stated goals – not does it look cool.

So the next time someone is talking about redoing a website, or new brochures, or change the tele marketing tacticts. And the DONT give you some idea of the vision/branding/value – then DANGER WILL ROBINSON !

When Bundling Goes Wrong

January 23rd, 2009 by Scott Farrell

OK – one of the most brilliant marketing strategies is bundling …. or ‘meal deals’.

Think about what they did for Macca’s. Instead of selling burgers for say $3, chips for $2, and drinks for $2 – they sell a ‘meal deal’ for $5.50. You essentially get chips OR the drink for nearly free.

Instead of sometimes only selling a burger($3), or sometimes a burger + drink ($5), they more often sell a ‘meal deal’ for $5.50. Macca’s ends up with a higher average sale price. On average they sell more to each customer.

So what if you have ‘bundled services’ or ‘bundled products’ in your company? Perhaps you’ll increase the average sale. GREAT – we are getting more profit.

WRONG. What if the customer say doesn’t want or doesn’t respect part of your bundle.
– at best you will have increased your cost to deliver that sale (lowering your profit).
– at worst, they wont buy from you, as there is part of the offer they are not interested in
– overtime, you have increased your costs, and will disincent customers to buy from you …. not good

‘Blue Ocean Strategy’  clearly says you can attack a market by ripping out unloved features, and reducing costs. (I’ll write up a full review of Blue Ocean Strategy at some stage).

A simple solution would be to offer the components of your service seperately. And be proud of each component, talk highly of each of them. And ask the customer what components THEY want.

Its easy for sales people to think ‘if I put MORE value into the deal’ the customer might be more likely to buy.

Don’t sell them anything they dont want, or dont value. It will just end up a cost to you, and disincenting your customers.

Eventually bad deals, with too much cost, will destroy your company.

If you were smart, and to push the envelope, you have a bundle on offer, that is MORE than the some of the parts.

Free Prize Inside by Seth Godin

January 22nd, 2009 by Scott Farrell

This was a fantastic book.

You should read this if you :

– are launching a new product

– are reviewing your marketing of a product – especially on a crowded industry

The basics are:

– differentiation through marketing alone is not enough

– your product must genuinely be different to your competitors. And it needs to STAND OUT

– brainstorming is rubbish – its all about edge thinking

– you need to champion your ideas – although this is less relevant if you own your own business

The book details an innovation system about edges

– take your thinking and product to the extreme edge

– make it invisible, or outrageous, or obscene, or quiet. It has a very useful list of starting ideas.

CEO Institute presentation

January 22nd, 2009 by Scott Farrell

I heard from a range of speakers today.

Charles Kovess provided an inspirational speech on passion. He started provocatively :
“I am a laxative for thinking”

He was larger than life – used an interesting term:
“are you SI or SH ”
– SH being SHitty … you get out of bed … “what do I have to do today?”
– SI being Steve Irwin …. “crikey, who can I help today!”

Focus on helping others invigorates us. For sales people, think of ‘who can we help today’ instead of ‘who can we take money from’.

He discussed a balance of work/fitness/spirit.

I was lucky enough to get his 2 books signed as a souvenir for the day:
“passionate people produce – rekindle your passion and creativity – a blueprint for business people” (possibly the longest title I have seen)
“passionate performance – your key to mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing in business”
When I read them – I’ll let you know what i think.

Peter Switzer - a journalist of note – and runs his own business.

Also publish a book ‘350 ways to improve your business’ – it a review of lots of successful business – and he distills it down to 350 things to do in business (seems odd, why couldnt get it down to a manageable size).

He seems to have interviewed lots of interesting folk.

Michael Hewitt-Gleeson

He is Australia’s best-selling business author of Software For Your Brain, NewSell and his new
book The X10 Memeplex: Multiply Your Business By Ten! He is the Founder of the School of
Thinking with Edward De Bono in New York in 1979. School of Thinking lessons are exported to
over 40 countries every day and have already reached over 50 million people worldwide since
1979.

I am definately going after these books.

He pushed ‘ CVS to BVS’
– for every Current View of the Situation, there is a Better View of the Situation.
– CVS is about how we perceive what is now – through our past learning, influences, truths
– BVS is about breaking down the past, and seeing a better future

I read it as redefining the now, not through your old well worn comfortable safe frame, but through a different frame that allows interest/challenge/change/risk.

Your Take Out

New ideas are from reframing the current and mundane, and allowing in risk and change.

Instead of seeing a glass half empty – you see a glass that could be altered, contents that could be replaced, or simply a nice drink.

My mum always said I preferred to alter the rules … here Michael is giving me permission to bend the glass. (the Matrix anybody?)

1 comment - Latest by:
  • kevin leversee

    I like this quote:

    Focus on helping others invigorates us. For sales people, think of ‘who can we help today’ instead of ‘who can we take money from’.

    I agree-Always Focus on the Business Objective- Enable that Objective for your Client and you move from Selling them something to Solving…

    Brilliant…

Start here

January 22nd, 2009 by Scott Farrell

You will make more profit from your business through knowledge, ideas and discovery.

You will find inspiration, gather learning, and derive more profit for your company.

Armed with knowledge you will have killer weapons to deliver innovation and change for your business.

You will learn to turn the mundane into success.

You will see opportunity instead of obstacles.

See through my eyes – the experiences of my small business’s.

You’ll learn from snipets of my own reading. I read lots of management and marketing, books/magazines/blogs. You’ll get an abridged version, and references to read more.

I hope to setup a forum service, that will allow to post details about your business, and allow me and others to colloborate on your business.

You’ll either already own your own business, or thinking about starting out. You’ll find references and material for both