Marketing


1
Jan 12

Considering Authority vs.Influence in Online Outreach

To start the post off, the basis for my thinking comes from a presentation and resulting conversation by Jesse Hirsh from Metaviews regarding “The Future of Authority” given at the Academy of the Impossible. This presentation consisted of brief look at how we as a society currently view authority and how this affected the events of the past year. As part of this discussion a comparison of the current thinking of online influence against the idea of authority caught my attention because it was directly relevant to what is currently being done in terms of marketing products online through social channels as well as to the whole idea of individual influence and its measurement (example: Klout).

What I took away from the presentation is that the concept of being influential vs. being authoritative is the difference between generating awareness of a specific topic vs. generating action on it. When you are ‘influential’ the information you share has a larger reach than the average person. This is in comparison to being considered an authority where a person’s audience is likely to place trust into and act upon the information they distribute. To put it even more simply you can say that one person is really good at sharing a message but the other is trusted enough to have their message actually listened to.

After considering the difference between influencer vs. authority the question then becomes why do marketers place so much emphasis on influence? When the supposed promise of social media is to reach the most targeted audience as possible why is the focus still on the more traditional ‘pay and spray’ approach? My inference is that the focus is still very much on being able to see how many eyeballs an effort can generate (something tangible) vs. reaching someone with authority and the change in opinion/potential for future sales generated by those that trust them (something not as easily measured). To not be active in reaching those with authority though is something I find puzzling as isn’t the end goal of marketing to generate sales rather than have users simply know about your product?

To conclude I’m not saying that marketers should do away with influencer outreach as awareness generation is still important. When considering where marketing dollars are going though it is also important to consider if you can use your limited resources to positively change people’s minds about your product than simply having people exposed to it. To keep this post from going overboard I’m completely disregarding the implementation aspect of taking such actions for now (I’m thinking about it!). Watch for a post on that topic to come up very soon!  I’m interested in what others have to think about this  topic though. If you have an opinion feel free to share it in the comments or by sending a tweet to @kevrichard.


26
May 11

Facebook May Own Your Social Graph But Google Is Going For Your Wallet!

Announced today in a joint press conference with Citi, Mastercard, First Data and Sprint was the launch of Google Wallet a Near Field communication (NFC) payment  system which is about to be  test launched in New York City and San Francisco. This mobile application and hardware will allow consumers to use their mobile phones as a payment device (tapping it on a PIN reader) as well as potentially use it to hold their loyalty cards and product coupons which they can immediately redeem in store.

Its all about the data…

Why would Google want to get into the mobile payment industry? Think about the purchases you make on a daily basis and what they say about you. By compiling a list of a person’s purchases you can tell their geography (where they live and hang out), approximate their demographic and financial data and get a deeper look at their spending habits (what stores do they frequent, what sort of products do they buy etc). Like any other initiative that Google does they will be using your data to target advertisements in the form of offers and loyalty programs.

Further implications:

Without knowing the governance of this type of consumer data (and not knowing Google’s future plans) through the help of Google, companies could potentially have a wealth of data at their fingertips as a result of this initiative. First through the use of loyalty programs companies can link offline user accounts to their online accounts and compare their purchases. This could help them see the recency and frequency of purchases ( good ol’ RFM) but also see how consumer behaviour differs between the two outlets. By having this data they can make a wide variety of changes to what consumers experience either in store or online.

Again if privacy regulations allow it, companies can also get a better view of their customers and the general public on a more macro view. Having access to this wealth of purchase data companies can see what segments of customers are purchasing their products, what other products they are likely to buy and in some instances get a better sense of the purchase cycle. In terms of a supply chain view companies could also see at what times in the year consumers are more likely to purchase products and as a result they could work harder to move customers into their stores at these peak times.

Looking at this from a marketing and CRM point of view this development from Google has a lot of potential for companies to better reach customers and optimize efforts. On the consumer side of things it could get a little scary. Essentially through the use of this app  you could potentially be  giving away all of your purchase data for Google to sell to companies.In the past this hasn’t gone that well in the realm of public opinion ( remember Facebook beacon?). With more companies looking to move into the mobile advertising and payment field this will definitely be a development to watch for as to whether it works for the better or worse.

 


12
Dec 10

Game Downloads: The Next Step in Console Gaming?

Preface: I just wanted to put some thoughts out on Edge Magazine’s article “Thinking Outside The Box” (found in their December issue) talking about how console game creators  are developing  more down-loadable  games vs. going through traditional channels. It’s been a topic that’s been on my mind for the past few weeks and now that I have the chance I’d like to put some thoughts on paper.  So here goes!

Like creating the next big blockbuster movie console based  video games take a lot of time and resources to make and have no guarantees in being successful. With consoles being more wired to the Internet the opportunity to sell down-loadable games has both large and small studios looking into ditching the disc and selling their content through the console itself.

Cutting out the “middle man”

The largest blockbuster games today (those that sell 1 million +copies) take years to make and millions of dollars to develop and market. For a long time, the success of these games  has shut smaller development studios out as publishers (those who package, distribute and do the marketing for games) look to sell high volume selling titles to see higher margins on their investments. Ever notice that much like the movie industry, the gaming industry is getting sequelitis?  This is the primary reason!

With game downloads, the publisher isn’t needed to distribute or package the game. Console download systems such as XBLA and PSN essentially cut out the middle man putting game studios in closer contact with gamers. This is great in that it allows more industry players to join in and sell smaller and less costly games. It could help to spur further innovation and creativity with creators trying to do more with less. Looking at the other side have you also seen Apple app store lately?  If gamers get more choice, this also means that games are competing for their spot on the list, perhaps fighting the same small studio vs. Big studio battle again (with exception of breakout hits which I may discuss this later).

The future?

Developing game media technology ( cartridges, game discs etc.) presents a cost to console developers, one that if they could do away with could let them focus on developing new ways for you to interact with your console and  to create more effective console hardware. Could this happen in the next generation of gaming? My (while amateurish) call would be no. Things like Internet bandwidth caps and the issue of piracy are still two big issues that need to be grappled with. Changing an industry model doesn’t necessarily happen overnight as well.  Big studios still enjoy a big lead and  currently have a strong formula of getting  games out to the masses through traditional retail outlets. Changing how these games are sold and packaged will definitely be a big step, one that’s going to need a lot more work.


19
Aug 09

How I didn't get 100's of twitter followers!

Having a  traditional marketing background,  for promotional actions I always consider the end result or goal. In terms of twitter and social media  though there are a lot of unknowns and what ifs . Overall its untested territory for most people. Steming from a conversation I had recently I decided to do a bit of testing of the twitter platform and see if I can build a bit of test case.  This is part 1 of 2 twitter experiments I completed, stay tuned for the second one to come soon! * Note these  experiments are definitely not experimental and would probably not be replicated if redone, take my conclusions with your own judgement.

Experiment #1:

I think a lot of twitter users have come across the messages “Get more followers now” or ” Get X amount of followers today” and despite the general sentiment of  quality of followers over quantity I’m sure everyone even for a moment  where slightly tempted by this thinking that that more followers equals more people to get their messaging out to.  This is especially relevant  to  traditional marketing mediums as  more eyes =more marketing awareness= more customer action = money!  So I decided to put this to the test, can someone get tons of followers overnight using these follower programs.

The Scenario:

Starting off with an empty account ( @socialmediabot1) I joined the following  social media following programs:

Initially I started following 19 people and I noticed with all 3 of these programs that there were paid for premium options ( so basically paying for followers)  I also noticed that I almost immediately started sending out auto posts from these programs.  From there I left the account completely alone to let the followers come in, opting not to send out anything to not influence the result based on my content.

Result:

#FAIL

#FAIL

I started @socialmediabot1 on a Friday night, deciding to leave it  over the weekend. Checking it once I noticed that I was following over 100 people and had just 19 followers, no where close to the promised massive amounts of followers.  At the end of this experiment I come to above picture, no followers and 12 auto tweets and a suspended account.  I wasn’t completely surprised.

Conclusion:

I am by no means a great twitter user but my account certainly didn’t popup over night and I certainly didn’t expect this one to. A major marketing/branding implication of this is communities need to be built and  its not a matter of massively following people or hoping that  people  run to your brand. Relationships need to be formed  and this takes a lot of time and effort.

Often times I feel that platforms like twitter are advertised as a panacea for marketing and that suddenly you’ll see huge results. FALSE! Like all marketing efforts hard work needs to be invested and careful planning and organizing should be done.  Social Media is just another touch point to your customers, the only ‘magic’ there is the opportunity to have further communications with customers and the general public.


I’d like to hear  what you  think about twitter and  any of your thoughts on  best cases or usage scenarios for companies and organizations so please feel free to leave a comment, send me a twitter message or email me at kevin@kevrichard.com .


17
Aug 09

Toronto takes SXSW!

With such a large tech community in Toronto there has been a  lot of growth this year in Toronto applicants to the  2010 SXSW convention ( held in Austin Texas, more info can be found here) as so many have now made it to the voting stages I thought it would make things a lot easier to have all the sessions in one place for everyone to vote and show your support .  I hope to see everyone there!

SXSW

The Sessions:

  1. F#$% Keeping it Simple presented by Dave Coleman, Saul Colt and Jeremy Wright
  2. Community Management : Future Skills You’ll Need to Know presented by Saul Colt
  3. Tweet Your Way to Your Next Job presented by Saul Colt
  4. Putting a Fork in The 30 Second Spot with panelist  Andrew Lane
  5. Life After Wii Fit: Geeks On Fitness presented by Wesley Hodgson
  6. Make Me a Damn Good Manager! presented by Andre Gaulin
  7. Millionaire or Artist? How About Both? with panelist  Amrita Chandra
  8. Distributed Micro-Patronage: The Future of Getting Paid: presented by Josh Newman
  9. Building Blocks of a New Economy For Music: presented by David Dufresne
  10. Colour Trends -Palettes to Pick for 2010 presented by Paige Dzenis
  11. Brilliant Second Acts You Must Steal Tricks From presented by Jaime Woo
  12. How to Recover From  a Brand Collapse panelist  Jeremy Wright
  13. Twitter and Dating in 140 Characters or Less presented by Jeremy Wright and special guest!
  14. Ditch the Old to Build Your Dream Life with panelist Jeremy Wright
  15. Gaming’s Final Frontier- Moving Towards Monetization & Improving Experience presented by Troy Ross
  16. Passionate People: The Key Ingredient to Social Media Success: with panelists  Meghan Warby ,  James Topham and Ryan Taylor
  17. A Different Documentary : Online Story Telling and Social Change presented by Boyd Niel
  18. Documentary Games: Playing with the Truth presented by Tony Walsh
  19. Multi-Platform Storytelling with panelist Andrew Lane
  20. SXSW SARS with panelist Jay Goldman
  21. We are Family: Web Applications Band Together Now! presented by Sunir Shah
  22. How to be  a Customer Support Rockstar presented by Grace Antonio
  23. Experimental Design:Your User Interface is Your Laboratory presented by Mike McDerment
  24. Exploiting Chaos– How to Spark Innovation During Times of Change presented by Jeremy Gutsche
  25. News 2.0 – How Old Media Companies Are Inventing New Models presented by Maggie Fox with panelists Laura Conway, Mathew Ingram,  and Candice Faktor.

Have any questions/comments ? Contact me at kevin@kevrichard.com or send me a twitter message .


24
May 09

Della: A Missed Opportunity

As reported by Engadget Dell has decided to dramatically change its recently posted Della Micro site after only 10 days of being online.  Designed as a site  to communicate with women offering them user tips and product suggestions Dell looked to create an environment that was welcoming and knowledgeable to the computing needs of this customer segment.

Interesting thinking but instead the project almost immediately blew up in their face. The initial content such as the tips and tricks can be found here and here but to give a brief discussion it spoke about things such as finding recipes on the net, counting calories and as we know every woman’s favorite color PINK (LIKE OMG!) . Instead of attracting women they were feeling put off and they were letting their voices heard online:

From their facebook page:

Um, some of us ladies were checking out Dells new Della computer section and we think it is condescending of you to make a different one for women as though we are not as smart as men when it comes to computers??” - Wynter Gentry Nash

….if it wasn’t for the tech tips section of the site, I wouldn’t be offended, but all it seems to imply is that women don’t care for anything but cooking and gossiping and looking fashionable with their computer.” Caily Jones as well as on the

On Della site itself:

“..This is  a load of fluff that only serves to provide insight into how Dell perceives my demographic. Essentially, we women will buy anything if it comes in pink and fits in our purse.” User UmmmWhat

Overall Dell took a huge grilling from this audience they wanted to pursue and very smartly made some changes to the site such as updating the tips section and changing the Della name to ” Dell Lifestyle”. In my opinion the site is still a bit fashiony/ultra feminine but its passable.

Now the question is ,isn’t segmenting your market important in marketing?? Absolutely, and if Dell executed the site right it could have been successful but here are a few things that it seems they did wrong:

Stereotyping/Over Segmentation: My initial impression of the Della website was that it targeted women concerned about  fashion and things that are ‘cute’ ( I’m thinking Paris hilton types) it didn’t delve into anything technical and rather focused on the smaller netbooks and that you can have colors on your laptops. Mistake: The majority of women haven’t been locked away and want more from a laptop than just email and facebook.They use it day to day at their work and they blog, make movies etc. They want to know which machine is going to suit the reasons they use their computer.

Women using computers

There are many women who know computers,advertising a pink computer isn't going to work anymore- Photo Via Flickr from TheSeafarer

Created a Man/Woman separation: looking again at the sites lack of any technical topics it didn’t acknowledge that there are  women in the high tech industries. This was definitely an opportunity missed! There are many smart women out there who do tech ( I personally know a few ) but very often anything dealing with computers and things technical like that is seen as an area for men. Highlighting the  successes of women in computers could have not only welcomed women into buying a dell  but it could also left viewers of the site with a feeling of empowerment and wanting to go out and do the same. This also could have been a great opportunity to expand into  mentioning Dell’s other business of computer accessories and products.

I think it was very smart of Dell to have listened to the negative feedback and react as soon as they did, it will definitely cut any negative coverage or drop in sales they would have suffered if it were online any longer. Unfortunately I think they lost out on a great opportunity , and had they been more careful with the execution they could have had a site for audiences to talk about . A website that embraced the needs of women in computing and helped  women be successful with laptops and computers.  In the end of it all  when it comes down to segmentation I think  it comes down to doing the research  but also importantly when you’re online acknowledging all of the audiences that will be viewing your website and not making anyone feel inferior.

Have any questions/comments? Contact me at kevin.richard@ryerson.ca or send me a twitter message .


11
May 09

The High Cost of Product Giveaways

Recently two major American restaurant chains, Popeye’s and KFC ran large promotions of their product.  Starting off with Popeye’s who in a nation wide promotion slashed the price of their regular 8 piece bucket in half from $9.99 to $4.99 for a single day and most recently KFC with their even larger new product promotion through Oprah giving viewers the opportunity to receive a 2 piece roasted chicken meal and biscuit for free.  From a short term consumer stand point this sounds  amazing, the idea that  there’s a recession going on and these companies are giving a little to help people out.  From a corporation point of view not only is this a flash pan promotion,  but as witnessed on media outlets  this promotion is actually becoming a frustration  for customers.

While this promotion was made with the best intentions, it seems that they didn’t consider the larger consequences. In this post  I’d like to play devils advocate  demonstrating why mass free campaigns  should not be on a companies radar for selling their product ,  after demonstrating a case that did the  the idea of free samples right.

So what are some of the problems with these large campaigns? :

1. Large Costs: Both of these companies will be taking a major hit when it comes to their bottom line with this promotion. To start off,  they face major promotional costs with a national campaign but there are also the significant costs of giving away product and reimbursing their franchisees.  Also an unforeseen cost is the temporary loss of regular paying customers as a result of this promotion, with long lines filled with people looking to get their free product paying customers with limited time and attention levels are more likely to avoid these restaurants till the promotion ends.

2. Lack of Relationship Building: Everyone enjoys a free product,  it doesn’t matter what it is , if its placed in front of them  they will want it because there is no cost.  The downside of this is that the consumer has little to no interest in anything else. In my personal experience volunteering  with the Canadian Liver Foundation, during  a promotion with the Women’s health convention the CLF  gave  away mesh shopping bags  which were a big success, people completely crowded the booth wanted to have these bags.

THE PROBLEM: the booth’s informational materials went completely ignored, people just grabbed the bag and left.  The giveaway defeated the purpose of  being there which was informing the public on liver diseases and the resources available to those who have them. Much like the Liver foundation , KFC and Popeyes wanted to expand their company awareness. KFC wanted to position itself as a place of healthy eating and Popeye’s wanted to increase its market position.  While both companies allowed  people to sample their product it created  little to no change in perceptions or connections overall with the company.

Giving something away for free doesn’t inform anyone or build long term loyalty to a firm, it may build some short term good will  but the bigger problem is that people are more interested in the free and not on considering the company on a deeper level.

3. Service Failure: Last and probably the longest lasting negative factor in giving away your product for free experienced through these campaign is when the promotion fails to meet expectations.  Within the examples of KFC and Popeye’s  deal seekers became angry and upset  when they didn’t receive the promised product (as shown in the following You tube clips):

Service failure like this not only builds negative feelings among coupon users, but negative word of mouth among those that they interact with as they describe their negative experience. A promotion like this  also effects the relationship held with current customers and franchises who’s regular habits are disrupted resulting in a loss of good will towards the firms.

Giveaway’s done right! : In a previous post of mine I discussed the case of Whopper Sacrifice, a promotion where consumers could get a coupon for a free Whopper by defriending 10 people they knew on Facebook. Yes it gives away a free product but here is what I felt they did right:

1.The Consumer was active in the process: instead of mindlessly printing off a coupon participants had an opportunity cost in receiving the product which was making the decision of which 10 friends they should  sacrifice. This was more than just getting a product, the person was actually forced to think and have a memorable experience.

2.It was limited: This campaign was not made open to everyone as it only ran for a short period and had a limited run of coupons. This decreased the costs and  demand on Burger King’s restaurants meaning there was very little opportunity for service failure for all parties involved . Also by creating  exclusivity this  also created a topic for discussion creating word of mouth for the brand.

3.Involved others: this promotion involved more than just the participant ,  those who were defriended were sent a notification that they were taken off someones’ friend list with a branded notice creating further discussion ( I’m worth 1/10 of a whopper wtf?!)  and expanding into a larger audience.

Many people equate free with being a good  idea , but  without a well managed campaign and a way to build stronger attachment to the firm what the campaign really works out to is taking on a large cost with little reward. While KFC and Popeyes got a lot of attention for these large campaigns they will probably fail to see any long lasting effect.

Have any questions/comments? Contact me at kevin.richard@ryerson.ca or send me a twitter message .


4
May 09

New Products and Social Media: Nissan Hypercube

As I’ve learned through reading cases and witnessing first hand, word of mouth is HUGE when you’re looking to get a message across or a product sold. If you can get people talking positively about your company  your message carries much further than any ad or commercial would. Interestingly enough, marketing agency Capital C has decided to do a full product launch using this idea but by primarily using social networks and social media tools.

The Campaign:

Coming in Spring of this year Nissan Canada is looking to release the Nissan Cube, an entry level vehicle positioned to compete with the likes of the Scion xB and the Kia Soul among others. These cars are targeted towards a younger audience  but follow along the same shape,size and price so a large portion of how these cars will be competing is on personality and emotional connection with the car( personalization options, community etc).

Rather than go for the traditional route of placing advertisements which have little interaction and communication with the customer, Nissan through agency Capital C has opted to release the Cube differently and has decided to rely entirely on Social media to get its message out. The campaign called Hypercube which started in March relies on users of  social media sites such as Facebook, Myspace and Twitter  to get people talking about Nissan’s new product  before it launches and build connection and strong interest among a potential customer base.

The Hypercube portal

The Hypercube portal

How did they do this?

By setting up landing pages on Twitter, Facebook, and Myspace a competition was started where Canada’s creative  population (considered influencers in this car’s segment) compete for the opportunity of owning one of 50 Nissan Cubes. Starting as a  free for all ‘audition’ people would register through a main portal (hypercube.ca)  where they are then whittled down through the use of audition profiles to 500 users who then must vie not only for the daily votes of their peers through whichever creative means possible, but impress a panel of judges who will in turn give away 50 of the little Cubes. Each of the 500 participants are provided with a ‘canvas’ where  they may direct votes and be as creative as possible with. After the cars have been awarded winners are then obligated to post online about how they  use and customize their newly won cars to demonstrate the usability and personality of this product.

Canvas of Hypercube contestan Michelle Savoie

Canvas of Hypercube contestant Michel Savoie

Outside of this contest Hypercube’s fans are not forgotten. People still interested in this contest/car still  remain engaged in this campaign. Not only are the encouraged to check out each participants canvas and vote but  through the social network Twitter  they are interacted with and encouraged to build community. With posts in French and English @thehypercube interacts and gives mention to people who create content  or ask questions about the  Hypercube  and the campaign, and more recently has even directly interacted with  fans through the formation of Hypercube meetups.

Hypercubist Rannie Turingan :

Having consistently received Twitter messages, group requests and hearing about it in my interactions with him I figured by mentioning him in this blog post he might leave me alone! I kid! I feel he’s done a very good job in interacting with and building upon his social networks and with his success deserves the mention.

Using his Twitter nickname @photojunkie Rannie posses the question: ” Where should PhotoJunkie go in his Nissan Hyper Cube in Toronto?” Within his canvas Rannie uses his talents as a freelance photographer and takes panorama photographs at  many known and unknown locales in Toronto demonstrating to people a new side of where they live ( many of his followers reside in Toronto).

Rannie's HyperCube Canvas

Rannie's HyperCube Canvas

But I think this is only half of why he is currently at #18 of 500 participants. A very important part of his run for the car is the fact that he engages his network and makes them feel that they play a direct role in his success.  Yes there is the constant posts and messages received by him asking “have you voted for me today”  but its also  like he’s bringing fans with him on these Panorama’s (in some cases actually doing so). Including a counter of photos’ distance traveled and total campaign stats he lets people know of his progress.

Roy Thompson Hall Panorama

Roy Thompson Hall Panorama

Another important aspect of his Hypercube campaign is that he also directly involves his fans in the creation of these pictures, on a consistent basis  he asks for suggestions of new photo locations as well as encourages people to tag along and be part of the locale itself.  In this regard Rannie has harnessed what social media and word of mouth marketing aims to do and that is having people feel like they are part of the story and an active participant  rather than having a message blasted in their face. By voting for him participants feel like they are part of his winning, almost like they are winning themselves.


12
Apr 09

MeshU 2009

So I had an insanely busy past few weeks, and this last one was pretty much the end of it. Big highlight was taking in MeshU 2009 at the MaRs Discovery District this past Monday. After attending Refresh Events on March 23rd ( watch out for these events, they fill up insanely fast!)  I won a ticket to attend MeshU (thanks!).  The first convention I attended in 2009 , I walked away with some great learning and experience. Although there were 3 streams (Design,Programing, Management) as a marketer I’m more experienced in the organizational portions of business so I opted to stick with the management stream for the day. Here is a brief run down of all the sessions I attended and a few of the key learning points I gained:Mesh U

1. Finding and Keeping Startup People, Daniel Debow (Rypple) :

For anyone not involved in HR the first knee jerk reaction to this is to zone out, but the key insight from this session  is in a start up EVERYONE needs to be involved in getting great people on board. Looking at my notebook I have a lot of little points written down but the key things are that everyone should be actively seeking great people to bring into the organization ( the idea that great people bring more great people) and that firms should build a company culture where people will want to be ‘friends’ with the company. Through this they may take an active role in seeing how the company is progressing and eventually feel passionate about signing on with them if asked.

As well, getting great people doesn’t happen overnight. The process needs to be as transparent as possible clearly stating the risks of joining the company. In the end both you and the candidate are investing a lot into this relationship and it needs to be developed not smashed together.

2. Selling Agile Development , Dominic Bortulussi (The Working Group):

For someone who isn’t a web developer/programmer I had a bit of difficult time getting my head around this but by applying the topic in a more general business/client sense it became a lot more understandable. To think about a regular client/business relationship you have one side who has a task that needs to be done and specifies a price that they are willing to pay. Then on the other side there is a company who approaches the  client and provides the service for them.Very simple. But thinking deeper its not.

Like all things in life not all projects go out with out experiencing problems or delays.There can also be the case where a client suddenly wants additional specifications added. Very often either the company or the client suffers having to take a loss on the project or not getting everything they wanted.  That’s where the flexible project practice the “Target/Scope Model” comes in:

  • The client sits down with the company to determine a set price and key project needs. Additional optional features are discussed and priced out.
  • As the project continues the client removes and adds scope to the project  depending on how ahead/behind progress the project is.
  • Any scope added/removed from the project is discounted at 50% of the price ( ex: a new feature is added because the project is running ahead of schedule, an optional feature is added for half its price)

There are some criticisms in terms of it being very meeting heavy (between 15%-30% of the project is spent in client/provider meetings) but especially in the consulting field the idea of flexible pricing and  having a project be more realistic to the needs of both the client and producer is a really interesting idea.

For more info check out the powerpoint from the presentation

http://docs.google.com/Present?docid=dn7623p_7pdc5b7cd

3.Lessons learned: How I founded, bootstrapped, grew and sold my web startup,Carl Mercier ( Defensio) :

Very often startups feel that they can’t survive without having venture capital funding. Attending this session I learned that you can go it on your own and perhaps be even more likely to walk away profitable. Rather than having an investor who will have first go at your profits you control the revenues and can sell at lower thresholds in comparison.

In part Carl Mercier spoke about having an effective marketing plan (Digg doesn’t work!) and a strong business strategy from the start(neither does an advertising revenue model!). Compared to a funded start up,  a bootstrapped start up needs to be making money fast and  must also do away with all of the niceties they could have had being funded (must have  cheaper offices, used equipment, less flash). Important to all companies but especially to bootstrapped startups is the connection the firm has with their customers especially the early adopters.  These are the people who will be selling your company to their friends,family and everyone else around them. Treat them right!

4.Segmentation, Positioning and Storytelling: How a Smart Market Strategy Can Drive Growth, April Dunford ( Rocket Launch Marketing)

As someone studying marketing I was really excited for this session, and I wasn’t disappointed. While there was a lot of no brainer marketing things (for me anyways) like segmenting your market (you can’t target everyone!)  there were some good points made in terms of selling your company/product:

  • Creating a strong value proposition: Tell up front why your customer should buy your product and what makes you different from your competition ( customers don’t want to think!)
  • Create a personal story of your company to tell to customers, it builds a stronger connection and is more effective than listing off facts. They come in 3 forms: Customer Success ( how has the product/service positively affected a customers business) , Competitive Win ( how did you one up your competitor) and Company creation ( such as how Youtube was supposedly started in someones garage *Wrong*) .
  • Communications is VERY important. For whatever initiative you do be it a website, using social media , all the way down to your corporate culture , companies need to have a clear and targeted message. Don’t make it too formal or generic , every piece of messaging should be targeted towards the customer and leave an impression. Another key to this is to remain consistent, everyone should be on board saying the exact same thing even when it may seem repetitive as this is how your company is being portrayed to the public.

5. Boiling the frog: how to get everyone else as excited about your idea as you are, Jason Oke

( Juniper Park) :

I think this presentation complimented well with April Dunford’s presentation.  This presentation furthered the idea of effectively communicating yourself to clients. Lets face it when faced with change most people try to resist it ( interesting enough I learned from this presentation that the ipod was at first rejected)   but by being passionate and targeted with your presentations you can defeat objections and win over people.

Again the idea of telling a story was presented. People need to be sold on the process as well as the product. Often times we are too modest or self defeating of ourselves , we need to stop this as sometimes we can actually kill good ideas. While a strong business case is always important, demonstrating your passion to others and how this came about is  important as well. Jason Oke presented the idea of going beyond the old powerpoint or boring report for the idea of being  multimodal : present some of the tools or inspirations that your team worked off of, bring in a customer to use and demonstrate this product and tell your customer what they think, or go a completely different route  and give them something like  a book  describing the story of your product. To get your customer on board you need to make them part of the process, allow them to give input and take an active part of your presentation  so they feel a stronger connection with your company and what you’re trying to sell!

Have any Questions/Comments? Contact me at kevin.richard@ryerson.ca or send me a twitter message.




11
Apr 09

SURPRISE!!

One of the quickest but most intense emotions we can feel, it catches hold of us and puts us completely off guard.POW Title Doing something completely out of the ordinary  is something we all know will get a reaction from people. So  its interesting that companies and organizations don’t try to SURPRISE us more often, especially in a market place where the fight for mind share is becoming more and more intense.

I just finished reading POW! Right Between The Eyes! by Andy Nulman a book I had registered to recieve for free a few months back (and it was well worth the effort!). Having the time now to sit down and read the book I have to say I’m surprised I don’t think about the power of surprise more often but also notice that “DUH!” its so obvious  some of the companies I’ve always been a fan of use surprise and IT WORKS!

As for the book itself, its not a stuffy business book presenting you with a lot of institutionalized information but its also not completely dumbed down. Andy Nulman builds a strong business case for the use of surprise tactics  in organizations drawing from his own personal experience in the many companies he’s worked with( Just for Laughs, Airborne Entertainment etc)  but also drawing from real world examples from something as small as exceptional service delivery to full marketing campaigns. Best of all he doesn’t leave it at that, he leaves the reader with thought processes and differerent tactics ( very tempted to try time bombing)  that anyone with a bit of creativity can put into practice.

Overall very enjoyable book, worth every penny I spent ( ie: $0! Go and get the book anyways!) . After spending the last 3 months with my nose in very theoretical and cut and dry textbooks  it was a great mental break that actually got my mind going and has me seeking out ideas. Thanks Mr.Nulman for sending me out a copy of your book , expect me to contact you sometime in the near future ;)

Have any Questions/Comments? Contact me at kevin.richard@ryerson.ca or send me a twitter message.