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Here are my notes on the book “Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America One Step At A Time” by Jeff Speck.

On the surface this book is about urban planning, but really, it’s about marketing the downtown area of the city in which you live.

Don’t let the word “America” put you off. These principals apply to every city in the world.

So how do you make inner-cities more desirable for people? How do you encourage shoppers, visitors, tourists, residents, cyclists?

How do you make pedestrians feel welcome and safe?

You make it walkable.

I love a book that challenges the way you think and the assumptions you’ve built up over time.

This is one of those books.

First, let’s take a look at Jeff Specks’ 10 steps and then I’ll tell you how he changed my ideas.

The Ten Steps of Walkability

The Useful Walk

Step 1: Put Cars in Their Place.

  • The automobile is a servant that has become a master. for sixty years, it has been the single dominant factor in the shaping of our cities.
  • Relegating the car to its proper role is essential to reclaiming our cities for pedestrians, and doing so requires a fuller understanding of how the car and its minions have unnecessarily distorted the ways that design decisions are made in American communities.

Step 2: Mix the Uses.

  • For people to choose to walk, the walk must serve some purpose.
  • In planning terms, that goal is achieved through mixed use, or, more accurately, placing the proper balance of the greatest number of uses all within walking distance of each other.
  • While there are exceptions, most downtowns have an imbalance of uses that can be overcome only through a concerted effort to increase housing supply.

Step 3: Get Parking Right.

  • As Andres Duany puts it, “parking is destiny.”
  • It is the not-so-hidden force determining the life or death of many a downtown.
  • Parking requirements and pricing determine the disposition of more urban land nationwide than any other factor, yet, until recently, there was not even any theory on how to use parking to a city’s benefit.
  • That theory now exists, and is just beginning to effect policy nationwide.

Step 4: Let Transit Work.

  • Walkable neighborhoods can thrive in the absence of transit, but walkable cities rely on it utterly.
  • Communities that hope to become the latter must make transit-planning decisions based upon a number of factors that are routinely neglected.
  • These include the often surprising public support for transit investment, the role of transit in the creation of real-estate value, and the importance of design in the success or failure of transit systems.

The Safe Walk

Step 5: Protect the Pedestrian.

  • This is perhaps the most straightforward of the ten steps, but it also has the most moving parts, including block size, lane width, parking provision, turning motions, curb cuts, direction of flow, signalization, roadway geometry, and a number of other factors that all determine a car’s speed and a pedestrian’s likelihood of getting hit.
  • Most streets in most American cities get at least half of these things wrong.

Step 6: Welcome Bikes.

  • Walkable cities are also bikeable cities, because bicycles thrive in environments that support pedestrians, and also because bikeability makes driving less necessary.
  • More and more American cities are making big investments in bicycling, with impressive results.

The Comfortable Walk

Step 7: Shape the Spaces.

  • Perhaps the most counterintuitive discussion in planning, this may be the step that is most often gotten wrong. People enjoy open spaces, long views, and the great outdoors.
  • But people also enjoy, and need, a sense of enclosure to feel comfortable as pedestrians. for this reason, too much green or grey—parks or parking—can cause a would-be walker to stay home.
  • Public spaces are only as good as their edges.

Step 8: Plant Trees.

  • Like transit, most cities know that trees are good, but few are willing to pay properly for them.
  • This Step attempts to communicate the full value of trees and justify the greater investment that they deserve in almost all American cities.

The Interesting Walk 

Step 9: Make Friendly and Unique Faces.

  • If recent evidence is to be believed, lively inviting streetscapes have three main enemies: parking lots, drug stores, and star architects.
  • All three seem to favor blank walls, repetition, and a disregard for the need of pedestrians to be entertained.
  • City design codes, typically focused on use, bulk, and parking, have only begun to concern themselves with creating active facades that invite walking.

Step 10: Pick your Winners.

  • With the possible exception of Venice, even the most walkable cities are not universally walkable: there are only so many interesting street edges to go around.
  • As a result, however well designed the streets, certain among them will remain principally automotive.
  • This is as it should be, but cities must make a conscious choice about the size and location of their walkable cores, to avoid squandering walkability resources in areas that will never invite pedestrians.
  • This task may be the most physically simple and politically complex challenge in planning.

7 Ways In Which This Book Changed My Thinking

#1: I thought congestion was a bad thing. I was wrong.

For 3 reasons:

  1. The obvious reaction to congestion is wider roads and more lanes, right? Well, it turns out that works for about 6 months and then the increase in traffic brings the congestion straight back!
  2. Congestion slows down traffic which is safer for pedestrians/cyclists
  3. Congestion makes public transport more attractive

#2: I thought downtown was an unnatural place to live. I was wrong.

For 1 reason:

  1. A downtown of just offices and restaurants is boring and unbalanced. Include residents and all the services they need nearby and you have yourself a much more interesting environment. Spec calls this “mixed use”

#3: I thought cycle ways on every street was a good idea. I was wrong.

For 1 reason:

  1. Dedicated cycle lanes everywhere speed up car traffic and lower drivers mindfulness of cyclists. They rely on the strip of white paint rather than watch individual cyclists

#4: I thought one-way streets were a good idea. I was wrong.

For 3 reasons:

  1. They speed up traffic (which is bad for pedestrians)
  2. They are confusing (and annoying) to navigate for drivers/cyclists
  3. They encourage jay-walking (dangerous on a higher speed road)

#5: I thought longer term kerb side parking was a good idea. I was wrong.

For 1 reason:

  1. The sweet spot for occupation is apparently 85% so the right price for parking is whatever gets you that percentage of usage. Short term parking creates turnover which is much better for shop revenue.  1 hour is about right.

#6: I thought public transport is always inconvenient, expensive and slow. I was wrong.

For 1 reason:

  1. If there was a bus stop within 10m of your driveway that ran every 15mins and cost $1 each way and went directly to where you want to be, would you use it? Of course you would. Councils can’t use current demand to determine the level of service, frequency, price. They just need to put it in place because it’s the right thing to do.

#7: I thought permanent, large, car-free zones was a good idea. I was wrong.

For 2 reasons:

  1. A better idea is smaller, temporary setups with removable elements seating/bollards/paint to test different areas
  2. Pedestrians actually like a sense of enclosure in a smaller space to feel comfortable

Marketing Lessons

From a marketing point of view this is a reminder of 2 basic marketing principles.

1. Who makes the buying decisions?

  • Often called a “target market”, in this case the buyer is the pedestrian
  • Drivers don’t consumer inner city products and services
  • Neither do cyclists
  • Pedestrians do

2. What comes first?

  • City planning is complex. So is your business. Lot’s of moving parts. Some inside your control, most not
  • The key then is to prioritise your action list in terms of your biggest bang for your buck
  • And then take action

Your Thoughts?

Have your say in the comments below.

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I’m no stranger to productivity books, this is about the 7th one I’ve read over the last 5 years.

It’s amazing how the little tips and changes you pick-up from books like this one, become so important and valuable, but just slip away over time, one by one.

So this was a fantastic refresher.

Here, I’ve recorded the parts of the book that were particularly useful to me. I encourage you to read the book yourself in your entirety because you are bound to find different sections more relevant to you.

My notes on The Power of Less: The 6 Essential Productivity Principles That Will Change Your Life by Leo Babauta

The Six Principles of Simple Productivity

  1. Set limitations
  2. Choose the essential
  3. Simplify
  4. Focus
  5. Create habits
  6. Start small

Chapter One: Why Less Is Powerful

  • Doing more things means you’re likely to do a lot of unimportant things, and you’ll be overworked and stressed at the same time.

Chapter Three: Choosing the Essential, and Simplifying

Choosing the Essential: A Series of Questions

  1. What are your values?
  2. What are your goals? What do you want to achieve in life? How about over the next year? How about this month? And today?
  3. What do you love? Think about what you love, who you love to spend time with, what you love doing.
  4. What is important to you?
  5. What has the biggest impact?
  6. What has the most long-term impact?
  7. Needs vs. wants.
  8. Eliminate the nonessential.
  9. Continual editing process.

Chapter Four: Simple Focus

Focusing on One Task (Single-tasking)

  1. Multitasking is less efficient, due to the need to switch gears for each new task and then switch back again.
  2. Multitasking is more complicated, and thus leaves you more prone to stress and errors.
  3. Multitasking can be crazy-making, and in this already chaotic world, we need to rein in the terror and find a little oasis of sanity and calm.

Here’s how to single-task instead:

  1. First thing in the morning, work on your Most Important Task. Don’t do anything else until this is done. Give yourself a short break, then start on your next Most Important Task.
  2. When you are working on a task in a time block, turn off all other distractions.
  3. If you feel the urge to check your e-mail or switch to another task, stop yourself. Breathe deeply. Refocus yourself. Get back to the task at hand.
  4. If other things come in while you’re working, put them in your in-box, or take note of them in a small notebook or on a text file on your computer. Get back to the task at hand.
  5. Every now and then, when you’ve completed the task at hand, process your notes and in-box, adding the tasks to your to-do lists and refiguring your schedule if necessary. Process your e-mail and other in-boxes at regular and predetermined intervals.
  6. There are times when an interruption is so urgent that you cannot put it off make a note of where you are
  7. Take deep breaths, stretch, and take breaks now and then. Enjoy life. Go outside, and appreciate nature. Keep yourself sane.

Chapter Seven: Simple Goals and Projects

The One Goal System

  1. Choose a goal. Make a list of things you’d like to accomplish over the next few years.
  2. Break it down to a sub-goal. Focus on a smaller sub-goal that you can accomplish in the next month or two.
  3. Weekly goal.
  4. Daily action.

The Simple Projects List

  • List all the projects you have going on in your life, including all your work projects, any personal and home projects, projects with civic organizations, and so on.
  • Choose just the top three projects on your list. Don’t choose three from each area of your life—just choose three altogether.
  • You don’t move a project from the On Deck List to the Simple Projects List until you finish all three projects on your Simple Projects List. Not just one, but all three.
  • Almost every project is held up as you wait for information, for other people to get back to you, for others to complete tasks, for vendors or clients to do something.
  • So we multitask, but not on the task level—we multitask only on the project level.
  • Break long-term projects into smaller projects that can be completed in a month or less.

Chapter Ten: Simple E-mail

Limit Your Time in E-mail

  • Number of times per day.
  • The best times.
    • I’ve found that if you check twice a day—10 a.m. and 4 p.m. are good times
  • Not first thing in the morning.
  • Turn off e-mail notifications.

Reduce Your Incoming Stream

  1. Junk.
    • I recommend using Gmail, as it has the best spam filter possible. I get zero spam in my in-box.
  2. Notifications.
    • I often get notifications from the many online services I use, from Amazon to WordPress to PayPal and many more. As soon as I notice those types of notifications filling up my in-box, I create a filter (or “rule” if you use Mail.app or Outlook) that will automatically put these into a folder and mark them as read, or trash them, as appropriate.
  3. Batch work.
  4. Stupid joke e-mails.
    • If you have friends and family who send you chain e-mails and joke e-mails and the like, e-mail them and let them know that you are trying to lessen the huge amount of e-mail you have to deal with, and while you appreciate them thinking of you, you’d rather not receive those kinds of messages.
  5. Set expectations and publish policies.
    • Creating a Frequently Asked Questions page for more common questions and issues.

Process to Empty

  1. Temporary folder.
    • If you have a very full in-box (hundreds or thousands of messages), you should create a temporary folder (“to be filed”) and get to them later, processing them perhaps thirty minutes at a time until they’ve all been taken care of.
  2. Have an external to-do system.
  3. Process quickly.
    • Open each e-mail and dispose of it immediately. Your choices: delete, archive (for later reference), reply quickly (and archive or delete the message), put on your to-do list (and archive or delete), do the task immediately (if it requires two minutes or less—then archive
  4. Be liberal with the delete key.
    • Too often we feel like we need to reply to every e-mail. But we don’t. Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that will happen if I delete this?” If the answer isn’t too bad, just delete it and move on.
  5. Process to done.
    • When you open your in-box, process it until you’re done. Don’t just look at an e-mail and leave it sitting in your in-box.

When you get an urge to go on the Internet, let it pass. Every urge is like a wave—it builds up, then it goes away. Another wave will come, but just ride that one out too. Every urge will pass if you just wait a few minutes.

Chapter Thirteen: Simple Commitments

Take Inventory of Your Commitments

  • Work
  • Side work
  • Family
  • Kids
  • Civic (We may volunteer for different organizations, or be a board member or officer)
  • Religious
  • Hobbies
  • Home
  • Online (We may be a regular on a forum or mailing list or Google group)

Then make a “Short List” of your four to five most important commitments.

Begin Eliminating the Nonessential

  • Start with something small.
  • Call or e-mail to send your regrets.
  • Eliminate the commitment from your appointment, and instead fill that time with something from your Short List. Don’t just use that time to watch TV
  • Repeat this process with the other nonessential commitments, one at a time, until you’re done. Strive to eliminate all nonessential commitments from your list.

Each time you cut a commitment, it may give you a feeling of guilt, because others want you to keep that commitment.

But it’s also a huge relief, not having to keep that commitment each day or week or month.

It frees up a lot of your time, and while others may be disappointed, you have to keep what’s important to you in mind, not what’s important to everyone else.

If we committed to what everyone else wanted all the time, we would never have any time left for ourselves.

Learn to Say “No”

Your list of commitments didn’t become overloaded by itself. Those commitments were added to your life, one by one, because you accepted them. Someone made a request and you said “yes,” one commitment at a time.

If you have difficulty saying “no” to requests, here are some tips:

  1. First, be aware. Learn to recognize requests for what they are demands on your time.
  2. Consider your Short List. Is the request in line with the four to five priorities you wrote out in your Short List?
  3. Be honest. Tell the person that you’re trying to cut back on your commitments because you’ve been overloaded.
  4. Be firm. Say, “I just can’t right now” and make it clear that you’re not open to negotiation or persuasion.
  5. I wish I could. Often I will honestly tell the person, “I really wish I could. It sounds great. But I just don’t have the time right now.”
  6. Don’t be sorry. Nothing in this world has failed because one person said “no” to a request—if the need was great enough, another person filled it.

Chapter Sixteen: Slow Down

Slow Attention

  • The projects we focus on are the projects that get completed.
  • with the hectic pace of our lives, our attention is pulled in a million different directions all the time.

Slow Working

  • If you can focus on the important tasks and projects, and keep your focus on those tasks, you will accomplish important things.
  • In contrast, someone can work frantically for twelve hours a day, doing as many tasks as possible, and yet not accomplish anything important.

Slow Eating

Take smaller bites, you chew each bite slower and longer, and you enjoy your meal longer.

Good reasons you should consider the simple act:

  • Lose weight.
  • Enjoy your food.
  • Better digestion.
  • Less stress.
  • Rebel against fast food and fast life.

Slow Driving

Driving is a much more calm, serene experience, and I enjoy it much more. Driving for me has become a time of contemplation.

Here are just five reasons to drive slower:

  1. Save gas.
  2. Save lives.
  3. Save time? Start out a few minutes early and you’ll arrive at the same time as someone who drove faster but started later—and you’ll arrive much happier than that person, to boot.
  4. Save your sanity. Huge drop in my stress level
  5. Simplify your life. Reduce many other complications—the headache of accidents and speeding tickets, for one; going to the gas station too often, for another. It can also improve the hectic pace of life.

Here are some of the slow-driving tips that have worked for me:

  • Play relaxing music.
  • Ignore other drivers.
  • Leave early.
  • Brainstorm.
  • Keep to the right
  • Enjoy the drive.

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Value-Based Fees: How to Charge, and Get, What You’re Worth by Alan Weiss

January 23, 2014
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This book has changed the way I do business. It’s that good. I also know much more about value-based pricing and I am able to provide advice to friends/clients/acquaintences who still stuck in the work-for-an-hour-get-paid-for-an-hour trap. Here, I’ve recorded the parts of the book that were particularly useful to me. I encourage you to read […]
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Remote: Office Not Required by Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson

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Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal by Oren Klaff

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Google Calendar: How To Duplicate An Appointment

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Google Calendar: How To Silently Rip An Appointment From An Invited Guests Calendar

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My Transition From Employee To Home Based Business To Co-Working

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Your New Website Says “Under Construction” or “Coming Soon”? 3 Reasons That’s A Disaster

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9 Companies, 90 Days, Worth $9 Million

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Last week I went down to Wellington to the Lightning Labs demo day. Lightning Labs is New Zealands first (and only) business accelerator. For a bit of background, read my article about Lighting Labs that I wrote a couple of weeks ago. 90 days ago these 9 companies were worth zip, nada, nothing. And now […]
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May 1, 2013
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Startup Communities – Building An Entrepreneurial Ecosystem In Your City by Brad Feld

April 18, 2013
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9 Questions To Get You Started When You’ve Got An Idea For A StartUp Business

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Heard of “a business plan”? It’s how you plan your business, right? Well, the bad news is that “business plans never survive first contact with customers” – Steve Blank. This means that you can plan all you like, but real customers with real money in their pockets will buy what they want to, not what […]
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“Tauranga University Enrolls First 99 Students, 4 Years Ahead Of Schedule” – Proposed Headline for BOP Times, Fri 26 July 2013

April 15, 2013

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The Future of “Work”: Are You A Cog In a Machine Or A Nanobot In A Swarm?

April 4, 2013

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Testimonials: Tips About How You Can Get Powerful Testimonials For Your Website

March 27, 2013
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A Collection of 7 Bob Clarkson Thoughts

March 4, 2013
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Bob Clarkson (72 years old) invited me into his home on the weekend. For 90 minutes he told me his story. I can summarise it in 3 words: He loves building. We talked about many of his building projects. Past (those still standing today), Present (what he’s working on right now), and Future (those that […]
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What To Say When You Are Asked “What’s Your Hourly Rate?”

February 28, 2013
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Do you get asked the question “What’s Your Hourly Rate?” by potential clients? How do you respond? Do you just throw in one of these number into your response?: $10/hour $20/hour $50/hour $100/hour $200/hour $500/hour Potential clients often respond in one of these ways: “That’s too cheap!” “ooo, that’s too expensive and way out of my […]
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Should I Renew My Yellow Pages Listing For My Small Business?

February 18, 2013
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Is that a questions you are struggling with right now? Have you been advertising in the Yellow Pages hardcopy and/or online for years but now you’re thinking of cancelling? Do you suspect you are wasting your money, but you are shit-scared that your business will completely dry up if you stop paying them thousands of dollars […]
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Is Your Blog Stale? How Not Updating Your Blog Can Damage Your Business

February 11, 2013
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“When I look at your blog I can almost see the tumbleweed rolling through…” Are visitors to your website thinking that? If you have a blog section on your website, at some point you thought it was a good idea to get one. You might call it your “news section” or your “article section”, they […]
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Job Hunting? Clever, But Simple Marketing Advice For Job Hunters

February 8, 2013

Looking for a new job? Does your job hunting plan look like this? Trawl through job ads on Seek, TradeMe Jobs and a couple of other sites Find jobs that look interesting and throw your CV at them Wait And wait some more And apply for some more (on the assumption that it takes 100 applications […]
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5 Co-Working Spaces in Auckland, The 6 Lessons I Learnt

January 29, 2013

Last week I visited all 5 of the co-working spaces in Auckland: Movers & Shakers, Auckland Central, Dion Bettjeman Loft503, Auckland Central, Matt Knight  Generator, Auckland Central, Ryan Wilson The Kitchen, Grey Lynn, Auckland, Murray Sheard Bizdojo, Auckland Central, Nick Shewring I am honoured that every single one of the founders/owners made time for me and my questions. I […]
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How Many Co-working Spaces in Hamilton?

January 25, 2013

Good news for you if you can answer “YES!” to these 3 questions: Are you are freelancer in Hamilton? Do you work from a home office? Do you want to move into a co-working space in Hamilton city? Up until now you would have had no option but to start your own space (which has […]
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Will You Join the 2013 Marketing Bootcamp in Tauranga?

January 8, 2013

The 2013 Marketing Bootcamp is a series of 12 workshops (one per month) which will improve both you and your business. Is the “2013 Marketing Bootcamp” for you? YES! If you own a Tauranga-based Small Business and you are either a solo operator, a husband-and-wife team or have a business partner YES! If last year went […]
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Selling services? Find out how to set your prices, and if you should put them on your website

December 17, 2012

Are you selling services? Are you quoting your hourly rate or using “value based pricing”? Should you put these prices on your website or not? Find out the answer to these questions with this short 2.5 minute discussion with Sheldon Nesdale from www.MarketingFirst.co.nz and Dan Necklen from www.Likeable.co.nz
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15 Reasons Why Co-Working In The City Centre Is Awesome

December 13, 2012
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This article is for those of you who are working from home right now, and it’s purpose is to show you what you could gain from moving out of home into a co-working space in the city centre. This is part 2 of 2. Read part one: 5 Reasons Why Working From Home Sucks I worked […]
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5 Reasons Why Working From Home Sucks

December 13, 2012
Thumbnail image for 5 Reasons Why Working From Home Sucks

This article is for those of you who are working from home right now, and it’s purpose is to show you what you could gain from moving out of home into a co-working space in the city centre. This is part 1 of 2. Read part two: 15 Reasons Why Co-Working In The City Centre Is […]
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Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

November 20, 2012

My notes on Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. Lots of interesting stories in this book, but I’m just going to talk about 2 that really struck a chord with me. The Cost To Avoid Guilt? Just $3 Economists in an Israeli study in day care centres started imposing a fine of $3 if any parent […]
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In the retail business? Waiting for the world to change back to the way it was?

November 13, 2012

Can you answer yes to any of these questions?: Are you in the retail business? Are you waiting for the good-old-days to come back in terms of the economy and retail sales? Do you want the world to change back to the way it was before the recession? If so, I have good news. The […]
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Own A Cafe, Restaurant, Bar But Have No Website? Get One Before 2013

November 5, 2012

If you don’t have a website for your Cafe, Restaurant or Bar, then take some comfort in the fact that you are not alone. Did you know that only about one third (to one half) of New Zealand’s Cafe’s, Restaurant’s and Bar’s have a website? The 5 Most Common Objections I Hear From Owners: When […]
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How to Turn Your Junk To Gold – 7 Simple Tips for Selling on TradeMe

November 1, 2012

This is an update on my original article in Jul 2009 Ahh TradeMe, we all love it (And the recent copy-cat auction sites are hilarious. They have no chance!) Don’t you think it’s amazing how much gold people will pay for your junk? Do you want to squeeze every last dollar out of each TradeMe […]
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Interview with Cheryl Reynolds, CEO of SODA Inc, Hamilton’s Business Incubator and Accelerator

October 31, 2012

I’m on a mission to establish a Business Incubator in Tauranga next year. Part 1 of this mission is to learn from people who have already succeeded. So last week I spent an amazing, inspiring, uplifting 3 hours with Cheryl Reynolds the CEO of SODA Inc and Rachel Wark, the Communications Manager (thanks for making […]
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Business Facebook Pages: 6 Simple Tips For Your Business Page on Facebook

October 29, 2012

Are you just about to set up a Business Page on Facebook? Or have you set one up already but it’s just not generating business for you? Then this short list of tips will save you some time and help you generate some results. #1. Don’t sign up for a new Facebook Personal Profile just for […]
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Customer Survey Package

Thumbnail image for Customer Survey Package October 29, 2012

I’m about to show you that with your next customer survey, it is possible to generate satisfaction rather than just measure satisfaction. Let’s consider the customer’s perspective first. Do any of the following 3 scenario’s sound familiar? 1. Imagine you have just started dinner and the phone rings… You pick up and it’s someone asking you to […]
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Market Research Package

Thumbnail image for Market Research Package October 26, 2012

Do you have your eye on a target market and want to find out what those customers want? Do you want to find out more about the competition (if any) in that space? Do you want to evaluate the risk and determine your chance of success? Then consider this Market Research Package. Q: “Is this […]
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Tauranga 2013: A Business Incubator, A Business Accelerator, And 3 Co-Working Spaces

October 15, 2012

Have I shared with you my plan for 2013? I want to establish a business incubator/accelerator/co-working space here in Tauranga. Tauranga’s first co-working space starts this week in the Priority One building, hooray! I’ll be doing my best to help them succeed. But that is only the beginning. Imagine there was one business incubator, one […]
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The Lean Startup: How Constant Innovation Creates Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries

October 15, 2012

My notes on “The Lean Startup: How Constant Innovation Creates Radically Successful Businesses” by Eric Ries I’ve only made notes on the sections I found most interesting, so to get the full benefit of this book I urge you to read a copy for yourself The Five Principles Of The Lean Startup Entrepreneurs are everywhere […]
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Have A Great Idea For A Start-Up Company But Worried Someone Will Steal It?

October 12, 2012

On Monday you’ll see my notes on the book by Eric Ries called “The Lean Startup: How Constant Innovation Creates Radically Successful Businesses”. Amaaaaazing book. But I couldn’t wait until then to share this with you. There is one section in there that talks about how many of us have ideas that we think are […]
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Quickguide to LinkedIn Part 2: How To Milk LinkedIn – The 8 Most Important Cows

October 11, 2012

(Missed part 1? Read it first) Firstly, it’s important to note that “100% completion” is your starting point. That’s right, spend a few hours and just get all the basics done and out of the way until you score 100% completion. Then come back here and read the rest of this article. The 8 Most Important Components […]
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Quickguide to LinkedIn Part 1: What Types of People Are Looking At Your LinkedIn Profile Today?

October 10, 2012

Think you should be doing more with your LinkedIn profile? First let’s consider your audience. Who’s actually going to look at your profile? The 5 types of people looking at your LinkedIn profile today: 1. People you meet who are curious about you You might hunt them down first, or they might find you first. […]
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TEDx Auckland 2012: 16 Hours of Awesomeness

October 9, 2012

TEDx Auckland ran from 10am to 5.30pm on 6 Oct 2012: 7.5 hours of awesomeness. But my day started at 6am because I drove up from Tauranga for it, and got back home at 10pm. I’m still counting the 8.5 hours of waiting and driving because those were all awesome too. I was either talking […]
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“I Think It’s Too Long, Can You Make It Shorter?” A Phrase I Dread

October 4, 2012

I do quite a bit of copywriting: email proposals email newsletters sales pages on websites blog articles direct response letters and the occasional fax (I’m joking about the fax, it’s not the nineties anymore) The pieces of work I create are as long as they need to be and often include all of the following components: Headline: […]
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5 Questions For Small Business Owners to Think About Today

August 8, 2012

Compete against yourself Pretend there is a brand new competitor opening next door to you, what product and service bundles should he start selling? To who? Don’t wait for this to happen, create those bundles and target those customers yourself today Why you? What are the top 3 reasons customers should choose you? Put those […]
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Small Business Website: Do It Yourself For Only $141.50

August 7, 2012

If you don’t have a website for your small business, then take some comfort in the fact that you are not alone. Did you know that only about one third (to one half) of New Zealand businesses have a website? The 5 Most Common Objections I Hear From Owners: When asked why they don’t have a website, […]
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Email Marketing: 7 Reasons Why It’s Cool, 3 Reasons It Sucks, 7 Tips To Make It Work

August 6, 2012

Why are you attracted to the idea of “email marketing”? 7 Reasons Why Email Marketing Seems Cool Because sending emails is cheap (or free). It’s a cheap way to keep in contact with your customers It’s scalable – if you double or triple the number of customers on your email database there is no extra […]
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The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur by Mike Michalowicz

August 3, 2012

My notes on “The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur” by Mike Michalowicz This book had excellent structure, but I’ve only made notes on the sections I found most interesting, so you might find these notes jump around a bit. Launching Businesses I loved entrepreneurialism. I could talk about business all day, read every magazine, attend every seminar, and […]
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Business Cards: Don’t Waste Money Printing Business Cards

July 5, 2012
Thumbnail image for Business Cards: Don’t  Waste Money Printing Business Cards

When people first start their own business, the first thing they do is get 1000 business cards printed. Don’t bother! Don’t print business cards because only people who want to sell you something (that you don’t need) will take them from you and use them. Do people that you need something from ever take your business card […]
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Twitter: You Suspect It Would Waste Your Time, Are You Right?

July 1, 2012
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What is it? Twitter is a micro-blogging platform which enables 160 character text messages (called “Tweets”) to be broadcast to “Followers”. From a business perspective, Twitter can be useful in 2 ways: For introducing your brand to a new, tech-savvy segment of the population When you “Follow” someone they are notified via email (unless they […]
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Rework by Jason Fried

June 20, 2012

My notes on “Rework” by Jason Fried TAKEDOWNS Ignore the real world “That would never work in the real world”. Dont’ believe them. That world may be real for them, but it doesn’t mean you will live in it Learning from mistakes is overrated You hear that failure build character. People advise, “Fail early and […]
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In What Type Of Business Is The CEO Also The Receptionist?

June 11, 2012
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You’ve probably noticed that there are often 2 types of receptionists in 9-5pm business offices: The first type I’ll call Wendy Winter and the second I’ll call Susan Summer. Wendy Winter Wendy doesn’t really want to be there She’ll be on Facebook most of the time if it hasn’t been blocked, and txt msg friends […]
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9 Reasons Why Outsourcing Your Sales Role Would be a Disaster

May 7, 2012
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Can you answer “yes” to one or more of these questions?: Is your business a one-man-band or husband-and-wife type of business? Are you a bit shy and find the prospect of networking and meeting people face to face a bit daunting? Are you thinking about outsourcing the sales role to a sales rep, either hiring […]
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The Brain Audit by Sean D’Souza

May 2, 2012

My notes on The Brain Audit by Sean D’Souza The following is just a copy/paste of the summary’s at the end of every chapter. I couldn’t do better myself because they are so well written. The most interesting parts for me was “how to construct a testimonial” and “how to determine what is unique about […]
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Made to Stick by Chip & Dan Heath

April 30, 2012

My notes on “Made to Stick” by Chip & Dan Heath S.U.C.C.E.S.s: Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible Stories Simplicity Not dumbed down or sound bites Find the core fo the idea “The curse of knowledge” if you say 3 things you say nothing Simple = core + compact, forced prioritisation To make a profund idea compact […]
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Should You Quit Your Job And Start A Home Based Business? 8 Pros and 12 Cons To Help You Decide

April 27, 2012

Yesterday I was reading through one of my old journals from 3 years ago when I faced exactly this decision. In the journal I found my list of Pros and Cons that I had written to help me decide. Maybe they could help you to? PROS I’m ready. I’ve had my 3 years of experience. […]
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Getting Things Done by David Allen

April 23, 2012

My notes on “Getting Things Done” by David Allen [Borrowed heavily from Josh Kaufmans notes] 1. Define what being “done” looks like Most of the tasks people keep on their to-do lists are “amorphous blobs of undoability” – commitments without any clear vision of what being “done” looks like What does the end point look like? […]
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How To Make Millions With Your Ideas by Dan S. Kennedy

April 16, 2012

My notes on “How To Make Millions With Your Ideas” by Dan S. Kennedy To win with premium prices, clobber competitors with service Call every customer after the job is completed to verify satisfaction Offer strong guarantees Get crazy publicity & word of mouth with free product to local companies (works if you own a cafe anyway) Stake […]
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The Unwritten Laws of Business by J. King and James G. Skakoon

April 9, 2012

My notes on “The Unwritten Laws of Business” by J. King & James G. Skakoon. 2007 Good advice for employees who want to get the most out of their current role. However menial and trivial your early assignments may appear, give them your best efforts Demonstrate the ability to get things done Show Initiative. Start […]
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How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

April 2, 2012

My notes on “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie 3 Fundamental Techniques in Handling People Don’t crisicise, condemn or complain Instead, try to understand them, why they do what they do The most important human desire: A feeling of importance Give honest and sincere appreciation Find out their good points Try […]
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Purple Cow by Seth Godin

March 26, 2012

My notes on “Purple Cow” by Seth Godin Remarkable marketing is the art of building things worth noticing right into your product. If it isn’t remarkable, its invisible The Advertising Age Before: Word-of-Mouth During: Ever increasing consumer prosperity, and endless consumer desire. Simple formula: Advertise on TV & mass media = increased sales After: Word-of-Mouth with new networks at rocket speed Being first […]
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Confession: I Only Have 4 Skills

March 14, 2012

It’s true. My confession to you today is that I only have 4 skills. Skill #1: I Can Read Being able to read is my first skill. I read a speed reading book 4 years ago and it changed my life: 10 Days to Faster Reading by Abby Marks Beale It increased my comprehension from […]
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The Award For The Worst Toll Free Number Goes To 0800 MELANOMA

March 12, 2012

There’s an ad playing on the radio at the moment about a local skin cancer specialist. I have a problem with their choice of phone number: 0800 MELANOMA To me, this is a classic case of being unable to consider the customers perspective, who is looking into the business from the outside. The business owner […]
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A Facebook Page For Your Business? Should You Bother?

March 5, 2012
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Word of Mouth is how a business dies, survives or thrives, right? Well, social media platforms such as Facebook are Word-of-Mouth with a megaphone. Traditional, mass-media, or “broadcast” forms of advertising are becoming less effective because they are based on interruption. Media is continuing to fragment (more websites, more TV channels, more magazines) so it […]
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How To Handle Negative Reviews About Your Business

February 21, 2012

Have you ever looked up your own business online and found a negative review somewhere? Maybe you own a restaurant and you’ve just found a negative review on a restaurant directory written by someone who was grumpy that night and they have lashed out at you? Maybe you own a motel and you’ve just found […]
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The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki

February 17, 2012

My notes on “The Art of the Start” by Guy Kawasaki Complete This Sentence If your organisation never existed, the world would be worse off because… Take Notes To Impress When you are doing a pitch to an investor and they speak, take notes. The visible act of taking notes says: I think you’re smart […]
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Anything You Want by Derek Sivers

January 20, 2012

My notes on “Anything You Want” by Derek Sivers My personal philosophy’s Business is not about money. It’s about making dreams come true for others and for yourself Making a company is a great way to improve the world while improving yourself When you make a company, you make a utopia. It’s where you design […]
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How Are You Going To Change Your World in 2012?

December 9, 2011

Notice how I said “your world” rather than “the world”. Can one person change the world? Well, I do think one person can change 10 people. And those people can change 10 people each. And so on. And perhaps, in that fashion, you can change the world. But I’m talking about “your world”. Your world could be: […]
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Game-based Marketing by Gabe Zichermann

December 1, 2011

My notes on “Game-based Marketing: Inspire Customer Loyalty Through Rewards, Challenges and Contests” by Gabe Zichermann & Joselin Linder. Games are all around us “The Subway Game” is passive – most people don’t realise there is a game on, the players stand close to the train doors, block other players with their body language and compete […]
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Real-Time Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott

October 20, 2011

My notes on “Real-Time Marketing and PR” by David Meerman Scott. “How to instantly engage your market, connect with customers and create products that grow your business now.” What’s Expected In The Corporate World: Wait, to make certain Work from checklists dictated by one-year and even five-year business plans Measure results quarterly Execute based on a […]
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I Earn 540 Dollars Per Month From A Blog About Hot Pools, Could You Do The Same With A Topic You Are Passionate About?

September 22, 2011

Almost 2 years ago I wrote an article called “Should You Sell Space On Your NZ Website For Banner Advertising?” in which I suggested you shouldn’t. 2 years later I haven’t change my mind. If it’s your core business then your website should focused on attracting new customers, and making sales, not earning a few dollars […]
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Hit The Ground Running: A Manual For New Leaders by Jason Jennings

September 16, 2011

My notes on “Hit The Ground Running: A Manual For New Leaders” by Jason Jennings  The number one cause of business failure isn’t poor cash-flow or pricing it’s copying a competitors strategy Shareholders are best served by looking after consumers, retailers, employees, suppliers and community first. A different perspective from what you’d hear from Wall […]
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Why Now Is The Time To Crush It! Cash In On Your Passion by Gary Vaynerchuk

August 4, 2011

My notes on “Why Now Is The Time To Crush It! Cash In On Your Passion” by Gary Vaynerchuk Gary’s checklist for creating your personal brand: Identify your passion Make sure you can think of at least 50 awesome blog topics to ensure stickiness Answer the following questions: Am I sure my passion is what I […]
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In New Zealand Is Facebook Just For Kids? No.

July 28, 2011

I thought it would be interesting to combine age group data from Facebook with age group data from Statistics New Zealand to see what proportion of each age group is using Facebook. In particular, I was interested in answers to questions like: Is Facebook mainly for teenagers? Are people over 50 using Facebook? Are people […]
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Poke The Box by Seth Godin

July 12, 2011

My notes on “Poke The Box” by Seth Godin Kinds of capital What can you invest? What can your company invest? Financial capital – Money in the bank that can be put to work on a project or investment Network capital – People you know, connections you can make, retailers and systems you can plug […]
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Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation by Sally Hogshead

July 4, 2011

My notes on “Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation” by Sally Hogshead Fascination Scale Avoidance You’ll take steps to avoid TV commercials Disinterest You might leave the room during a commercial break to grab a bite Neutrality You don’t really care if you watch the commercial or not. You’re not going to take […]
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Overdue Invoices: 4 Simple Tips To Ensure Your Clients Pay On Time, Every Time. No More Overdue Invoices

June 3, 2011

Did you know that poor cashflow is the #1 killer of small New Zealand businesses? Do you have clients with overdue invoices right now? Do you grit your teeth when you check your bank account on the 20th of the month and find the deposits you were expecting, missing? Are your customers/clients slow to pay? […]
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Money Back Guarantees: Should You Offer None, 30 Days, or 30 Years?

May 23, 2011
Thumbnail image for Money Back Guarantees: Should You Offer None, 30 Days, or 30 Years?

You may have heard that money-back guarantees are a good idea but you are not sure if they are right for your business? Perhaps you are holding back because you are worried it’s going to cost you money handing out dozens of refunds, right? Offering any kind of money back guarantee is better than offering […]
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The No-Bullshit Way To Make Money Online: Slow Cook, Not Get-Rich-Quick

January 24, 2011
Thumbnail image for The No-Bullshit Way To Make Money Online: Slow Cook, Not Get-Rich-Quick

Over the last few years I have tried several ways of making money online. I wanted to get rich quick. Don’t we all? I fell for the hype and got out my credit card, but I’m not ashamed. I’m human, and the sales copy was brilliantly written and tapped into my psyche and convinced me. […]
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2 Vital Elements The “About Us” Page on Your Website May Be Missing

December 21, 2010

If you pay any attention to your webstats, you may have noticed that your About Us page is one of the least visited webpages on your website. This doesn’t mean it is unimportant. It is vitally important. The low traffic means that each prospective customer will visit it only once, so you’ve got one chance […]
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Socialnomics: How social media transforms the way we live and do business by Erik Qualman

December 6, 2010

My notes on “Socialnomics: How social media transforms the way we live and do business” by Erik Qualman The story about bacon salt Bacon Salt was an idea that was born out of the minds of two Seattle buddies, Justin Esch and Dave Lefkow, who over a few beers jokingly posed the question – “Wouldn’t […]
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Online Advertising In NZ: A Crash Course On How You Can Get Started Advertising Your Business Online in New Zealand

November 17, 2010

Have you noticed how much publicity the growth of online advertising has been getting lately? If you are wondering: “Am I missing out because I haven’t tried online advertising yet?” and “How can I dip my toe in the water to see if online advertising is right for my business?”, then this crash course on […]
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The Squeaky Window Gets The Lube

November 10, 2010

For about a week I have noticed an extremely squeaky rear electric window in my car. It is like 5 teenagers scratching on a chalk board – a really horrendous sound. I hadn’t thought too deeply about what I should do about it when I heard a radio ad this afternoon “Free electric window lube […]
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Social Media 101 by Chris Brogan

November 5, 2010

My notes on “Social Media 101″ by Chris Brogan In this book Chris talks about how he doesn’t use the word “expert” but uses the word “advisor” instead. So I extracted 4 pieces of advice from what I read. Here they are: (Should you read the book yourself you are sure to extract different advice […]
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Social Media Marketing for Dummies by Shiv Singh

November 5, 2010

My notes on “Social Media Marketing for Dummies” by Shiv Singh. My additions are in italics. Can sponsored conversations in social media be authentic? Yes, the trick is to be completely transparent that they are sponsored Disney partnered with SavvyAuntie, an online community focused on aunts without kids. Melanie Notkin, who runs SavvyAuntie, tweeted about […]
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The Zen of Social Media Marketing by Shama Hyder Kabani

November 2, 2010

My notes on “The Zen of Social Media Marketing” by Shama Hyder Kabani Facebook Facebook is like a coffee shop. Everyone is there for his or her own reasons, but it is a great place to strike up a conversation. People from all walks of life use Facebook. They aren’t there to buy stuff. They […]
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Expired Domains: Picking Fruit From A Graveyard Of Failed Ideas?

September 7, 2010

Occasionally, just for fun, I spend a few minutes browsing www.ExpiredDomains.co.nz. Expired Domains lists all .nz domain names which have expired and are in the .nz registry’s official 90 day pending release period. But what I find most interesting about this list is that at first glance, many of them look like really good names! […]
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7 Ways To Get Your Website Working Harder For You

August 23, 2010

Is your website search engine friendly? Find out with a free review Is your website listed in the best, free NZ directories? Check the list Have you completed the 8 essential steps for getting a website working for you? Have you tried advertising using Google Adwords? Here’s how its done Have you got a copy […]
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Twitter/Facebook: How To Update Your Business Facebook Page Wall With Twitter

August 13, 2010

I am assuming you already have the following: Business Twitter Account Business Facebook Page (If you don’t, I can help you set up Twitter and Facebook for your business) You may be already aware how easy it is to update your personal Facebook Wall from Twitter.  But you don’t really want your tweets about your […]
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Business Facebook Pages: Simple Tips For Your Business Page on Facebook

August 12, 2010

See updated version: October 2012 If you are just about to set up a Business Page on Facebook this short list of tips will save you some time. #1. How to set a Facebook Business Page up You need a personal Facebook account before you can set up a business page. If you’re an employee, […]
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Move Out of the Way Little Kitten So I Can See The Brand Name!

July 13, 2010

If you run an icecream shop, you MUST copy this idea. Will it work for any other business? Probably not. You should have at least some sort of business connection otherwise all you’re doing is slapping scantily clad women on your ad for no good reason.
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Should I Give My Ebook Away For Free Or Require An Email Address?

June 14, 2010

I faced this decision 4 months ago over on my www.SearchEngineGuide.co.nz website (where I focus on SEO and Google Adwords). I had just decided to give away the 2009 version of my ebook “How To Optimise Your New Zealand Website For Search Engines” for free. My choices were to: Ask for a name and email […]
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Is The Contact Form On Your Website Making Your Prospective Clients Angry?

June 3, 2010

I just wrote this article on another one of my Website blog. I like it, so I will republish it here. Do you use a contact form on the “Contact Us” page on your website? If so, check this list of common mistakes to see if you are making your prospective clients angry or just […]
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