Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence by Max Tegmark

I have an interest in Artificial Intelligence for 4 reasons:

  1. I’m interested in when the first AI might be created
    • Expert opinion ranges from years, to decades, to a century from now
  2. What impact it will have on human jobs
    • You may have noticed that every few months you’ll see the headline in the media “The robots are taking our jobs!”
    • Some jobs we welcome robots to take (dangerous, menial, physical), and others we think are ours to keep
  3. How an AI will treat humanity once it becomes self-aware
    • Will it remove us from the surface of the earth (a popular idea in many movies)?
    • Or usher us into a period of leisure and prosperity?
  4. I’m fascinated with the idea of the AI rebuilding itself by re-writing it’s own code
    • Perhaps releasing a new improved version of itself every day, or every minute
    • Very quickly we will have no idea what it’s thinking and no understanding of its code

We humans have a fear of the unknown and we simply don’t know what the future will bring when it comes to computers being smarter than humans.

The authors purpose for this book is to acknowledge this uncertainty and prompts us to collectively make some choices now. Choices like:

  • Do we want A.I. to serve all of humanity and provide peace and prosperity for everyone?
  • Or build autonomous weapons for a select few to allow us to fight more efficiently with each other?
  • Or, is there a chance that, if we do not prepare, that the AI will squash us like ants because we are an inferior lifeform?

The beginning

The book begins with a prelude which is a story of a possible near-future. I found it so fascinating that I have copied it out in full (it’s just over 6000 words so its a 20 minute read).

Read the prelude now. Download 190Kb .pdf

Have you seen Netflix’s “Black Mirror”? The prelude reminds me of an episode of that show which explores possible technological futures which are frighteningly plausible.

The end

The book ends with a epilogue which tells the story of how the author founded the Future Of Life (FLI) foundation which held a conference where every notable AI researcher on the planet came together and co-wrote the “Asilomar AI principles” which I have included at the end of this article.

The middle

And in the middle, the author, Tegmark, provides a comprehensive discussion of the benefits and dangers of AI.

At the end of each chapter, Tegmark provides useful chapter summaries. I have provided most of those below, plus a few of my other favourite passages.

Before we get into it, I have a confession to make. I found Chapter 6 unfathomable. It got really deep into physics and I understood it not at all.  I encourage you to buy Life 3.0 and read it yourself (but don’t be afraid of just skim reading Chapter 6!).

Here are my notes on “Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence” by Max Tegmark.

 

CHAPTER 1 Welcome to the Most Important Conversation of Our Time

  • Life, defined as a process that can retain its complexity and replicate, can develop through three stages: a biological stage (1.0), where its hardware and software are evolved, a cultural stage (2.0), where it can design its software (through learning) and a technological stage (3.0), where it can design its hardware as well, becoming the master of its own destiny.
  • Artificial intelligence may enable us to launch Life 3.0 this century, and a fascinating conversation has sprung up regarding what future we should aim for and how this can be accomplished. There are three main camps in the controversy: techno-skeptics, digital utopians and the beneficial-AI movement.
  • Techno-skeptics view building superhuman AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) as so hard that it won’t happen for hundreds of years, making it silly to worry about it (and Life 3.0) now.
    • AGI is when the system can apply itself to a wide range variety of tasks, more like a human brain, instead of having narrow expertise, such as only being good at Chess or Jeopardy – Sheldon
  • Digital utopians view it as likely this century and wholeheartedly welcome Life 3.0, viewing it as the natural and desirable next step in the cosmic evolution.
  • The beneficial-AI movement also views it as likely this century, but views a good outcome not as guaranteed, but as something that needs to be ensured by hard work in the form of AI-safety research.
  • Beyond such legitimate controversies where world-leading experts disagree, there are also boring pseudo-controversies caused by misunderstandings. For example, never waste time arguing about “life,” “intelligence,” or “consciousness” before ensuring that you and your protagonist are using these words to mean the same thing! This book uses the definitions in table 1.1.
  • Also beware the common misconceptions in figure 1.5: “Superintelligence by 2100 is inevitable/impossible.” “Only Luddites worry about AI.” “The concern is about AI turning evil and/or conscious, and it’s just years away.” “Robots are the main concern.” “AI can’t control humans and can’t have goals.”
  • In chapters 2 through 6, we’ll explore the story of intelligence from its humble beginning billions of years ago to possible cosmic futures billions of years from now. We’ll first investigate near-term challenges such as jobs, AI weapons and the quest for human-level AGI, then explore possibilities for a fascinating spectrum of possible futures with intelligent machines and/or humans. I wonder which options you’ll prefer!
  • In chapters 7 through 9, we’ll switch from cold factual descriptions to an exploration of goals, consciousness and meaning, and investigate what we can do right now to help create the future we want.
  • I view this conversation about the future of life with AI as the most important one of our time—please join it!

CHAPTER 2 Matter Turns Intelligent

What is Intelligence?

Intelligence = ability to accomplish complex goals

This is broad enough to include all above-mentioned definitions, since understanding, self-awareness, problem solving, learning, etc. are all examples of complex goals that one might have.

It’s also broad enough to subsume the Oxford Dictionary definition—“the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills”—since one can have as a goal to apply knowledge and skills.

  • Intelligence, defined as ability to accomplish complex goals, can’t be measured by a single IQ, only by an ability spectrum across all goals.
  • Today’s artificial intelligence tends to be narrow, with each system able to accomplish only very specific goals, while human intelligence is remarkably broad.
  • Memory, computation, learning and intelligence have an abstract, intangible and ethereal feel to them because they’re substrate-independent: able to take on a life of their own that doesn’t depend on or reflect the details of their underlying material substrate.
  • Any chunk of matter can be the substrate for memory as long as it has many different stable states.
  • Any matter can be computronium, the substrate for computation, as long as it contains certain universal building blocks that can be combined to implement any function. NAND gates and neurons are two important examples of such universal “computational atoms.”
  • A neural network is a powerful substrate for learning because, simply by obeying the laws of physics, it can rearrange itself to get better and better at implementing desired computations.
  • Because of the striking simplicity of the laws of physics, we humans only care about a tiny fraction of all imaginable computational problems, and neural networks tend to be remarkably good at solving precisely this tiny fraction.
  • Once technology gets twice as powerful, it can often be used to design and build technology that’s twice as powerful in turn, triggering repeated capability doubling in the spirit of Moore’s law. The cost of information technology has now halved roughly every two years for about a century, enabling the information age.
  • If AI progress continues, then long before AI reaches human level for all skills, it will give us fascinating opportunities and challenges involving issues such as bugs, laws, weapons and jobs—which we’ll explore in the next chapter.

CHAPTER 3 The Near Future: Breakthroughs, Bugs, Laws, Weapons and Jobs

Key questions

  • How can we make future AI systems more robust than today’s, so that they do what we want without crashing, malfunctioning or getting hacked?
  • How can we update our legal systems to be more fair and efficient and to keep pace with the rapidly changing digital landscape?
  • How can we make weapons smarter and less prone to killing innocent civilians without triggering an out-of-control arms race in lethal autonomous weapons?
  • How can we grow our prosperity through automation without leaving people lacking income or purpose?

AI Applications

  • AI for space exploration
  • AI for finance
  • AI for manufacturing
  • AI for transportation
    • Elon Musk envisions that future self-driving cars will not only be safer, but will also earn money for their owners while they’re not needed, by competing with Uber and Lyft.
  • AI for energy
  • AI for Healthcare
  • AI for Communication
  • Laws
  • Robojudges
    • All pending cases to be processed in parallel rather than in series, each case getting its own robojudge for as long as it takes
    • They could make it dramatically cheaper to get justice through the courts
  • Legal controversies
    • fMRI scanners to determine what a person is thinking about and, in particular, whether they’re telling the truth or lying
    • AI becomes able to generate fully realistic fake videos of you committing crimes
    • So if a self-driving car causes an accident, who should be liable—its occupants, its owner or its manufacturer? Legal scholar David Vladeck has proposed a fourth answer: the car itself! Specifically, he proposes that self-driving cars be allowed (and required) to hold car insurance.
  • Weapons
    • The Next Arms Race?
    • Should There Be an International Treaty?
    • Cyberwar
  • Jobs and Wages
  • Technology and Inequality
  • Career Advice for Kids
    • Does it require interacting with people and using social intelligence?
    • Does it involve creativity and coming up with clever solutions?
    • Does it require working in an unpredictable environment?
    • The more of these questions you can answer with a yes, the better your career choice is likely to be.
    • This means that relatively safe bets include becoming a teacher, nurse, doctor, dentist, scientist, entrepreneur, programmer, engineer, lawyer, social worker, clergy member, artist, hairdresser or massage therapist.
  • Will Humans Eventually Become Unemployable?
    • The vast majority of today’s occupations are ones that already existed a century ago, and when we sort them by the number of jobs they provide, we have to go all the way down to twenty-first place in the list until we encounter a new occupation: software developers, who make up less than 1% of the U.S. job market.
    • The main trend on the job market isn’t that we’re moving into entirely new professions. Rather, we’re crowding into those pieces of terrain in figure 2.2 that haven’t yet been submerged by the rising tide of technology!
  • Giving People Income Without Jobs
    • Technological progress can end up providing many valuable products and services for free even without government intervention.
    • For example, people used to pay for encyclopedias, atlases, sending letters and making phone calls, but now anyone with an internet connection gets access to all these things at no cost—together with free videoconferencing, photo sharing, social media, online courses and countless other new services.
  • Human-Level Intelligence?

Chapter Summary

  • Near-term AI progress has the potential to greatly improve our lives in myriad ways, from making our personal lives, power grids and financial markets more efficient to saving lives with self-driving cars, surgical bots and AI diagnosis systems.
  • When we allow real-world systems to be controlled by AI, it’s crucial that we learn to make AI more robust, doing what we want it to do. This boils down to solving tough technical problems related to verification, validation, security and control.
  • This need for improved robustness is particularly pressing for AI-controlled weapon systems, where the stakes can be huge.
  • Many leading AI researchers and roboticists have called for an international treaty banning certain kinds of autonomous weapons, to avoid an out-of-control arms race that could end up making convenient assassination machines available to everybody with a full wallet and an axe to grind.
  • AI can make our legal systems more fair and efficient if we can figure out how to make robojudges transparent and unbiased.
  • Our laws need rapid updating to keep up with AI, which poses tough legal questions involving privacy, liability and regulation.
  • Long before we need to worry about intelligent machines replacing us altogether, they may increasingly replace us on the job market.
  • This need not be a bad thing, as long as society redistributes a fraction of the AI-created wealth to make everyone better off.
  • Otherwise, many economists argue, inequality will greatly increase.
  • With advance planning, a low-employment society should be able to flourish not only financially, with people getting their sense of purpose from activities other than jobs.
  • Career advice for today’s kids: Go into professions that machines are bad at—those involving people, unpredictability and creativity.
  • There’s a non-negligible possibility that AGI progress will proceed to human levels and beyond—we’ll explore that in the next chapter!

CHAPTER 4 Intelligence Explosion?

  • If we one day succeed in building human-level AGI, this may trigger an intelligence explosion, leaving us far behind.
  • If a group of humans manage to control an intelligence explosion, they may be able to take over the world in a matter of years.
  • If humans fail to control an intelligence explosion, the AI itself may take over the world even faster.
  • Whereas a rapid intelligence explosion is likely to lead to a single world power, a slow one dragging on for years or decades may be more likely to lead to a multipolar scenario with a balance of power between a large number of rather independent entities.
  • The history of life shows it self-organizing into an ever more complex hierarchy shaped by collaboration, competition and control. Superintelligence is likely to enable coordination on ever-larger cosmic scales, but it’s unclear whether it will ultimately lead to more totalitarian top-down control or more individual empowerment.
  • Cyborgs and uploads are plausible, but arguably not the fastest route to advanced machine intelligence.
  • The climax of our current race toward AI may be either the best or the worst thing ever to happen to humanity, with a fascinating spectrum of possible outcomes that we’ll explore in the next chapter.
  • We need to start thinking hard about which outcome we prefer and how to steer in that direction, because if we don’t know what we want, we’re unlikely to get it.

CHAPTER 5 Aftermath: The Next 10,000 Years

  • The current race toward AGI can end in a fascinatingly broad range of aftermath scenarios for upcoming millennia.
  • Superintelligence can peacefully coexist with humans either because it’s forced to (enslaved-god scenario) or because it’s “friendly AI” that wants to (libertarian-utopia, protector-god, benevolent-dictator and zookeeper scenarios).
  • Superintelligence can be prevented by an AI (gatekeeper scenario) or by humans (1984 scenario), by deliberately forgetting the technology (reversion scenario) or by lack of incentives to build it (egalitarian-utopia scenario).
  • Humanity can go extinct and get replaced by AIs (conqueror and descendant scenarios) or by nothing (self-destruction scenario).
  • There’s absolutely no consensus on which, if any, of these scenarios are desirable, and all involve objectionable elements. This makes it all the more important to continue and deepen the conversation around our future goals, so that we don’t inadvertently drift or steer in an unfortunate direction.

CHAPTER 6 Our Cosmic Endowment: The Next Billion Years and Beyond

Here’s where the book got deep into physics. I understood very little of this chapter so no notes from me – Sheldon.

CHAPTER 7 Goals

Figuring out how to align the goals of a superintelligent AI with our goals isn’t just important, but also hard. In fact, it’s currently an unsolved problem. It splits into three tough subproblems, each of which is the subject of active research by computer scientists and other thinkers:

  1. Making AI learn our goals
  2. Making AI adopt our goals
  3. Making AI retain our goals

To learn our goals, an AI must figure out not what we do, but why we do it. We humans accomplish this so effortlessly that it’s easy to forget how hard the task is for a computer, and how easy it is to misunderstand. If you ask a future self-driving car to take you to the airport as fast as possible and it takes you literally, you’ll get there chased by helicopters and covered in vomit. If you exclaim, “That’s not what I wanted!,” it can justifiably answer, “That’s what you asked for.”

For example, suppose a bunch of ants create you to be a recursively self-improving robot, much smarter than them, who shares their goals and helps them build bigger and better anthills, and that you eventually attain the human-level intelligence and understanding that you have now.

Do you think you’ll spend the rest of your days just optimizing anthills, or do you think you might develop a taste for more sophisticated questions and pursuits that the ants have no ability to comprehend?

If so, do you think you’ll find a way to override the ant-protection urge that your formicine creators endowed you with in much the same way that the real you overrides some of the urges your genes have given you? And in that case, might a superintelligent friendly AI find our current human goals as uninspiring and vapid as you find those of the ants, and evolve new goals different from those it learned and adopted from us?

CHAPTER 8 Consciousness

  • There’s no undisputed definition of “consciousness.” I use the broad and non-anthropocentric definition consciousness = subjective experience.
  • Whether AIs are conscious in that sense is what matters for the thorniest ethical and philosophical problems posed by the rise of AI: Can AIs suffer? Should they have rights? Is uploading a subjective suicide? Could a future cosmos teeming with AIs be the ultimate zombie apocalypse?
  • The problem of understanding intelligence shouldn’t be conflated with three separate problems of consciousness: the “pretty hard problem” of predicting which physical systems are conscious, the “even harder problem” of predicting qualia, and the “ really hard problem” of why anything at all is conscious.
  • The “pretty hard problem” of consciousness is scientific, since a theory that predicts which of your brain processes are conscious is experimentally testable and falsifiable, while it’s currently unclear how science could fully resolve the two harder problems.
  • Neuroscience experiments suggest that many behaviors and brain regions are unconscious, with much of our conscious experience representing an after-the-fact summary of vastly larger amounts of unconscious information.
  • Generalizing consciousness predictions from brains to machines requires a theory. Consciousness appears to require not a particular kind of particle or field, but a particular kind of information processing that’s fairly autonomous and integrated, so that the whole system is rather autonomous but its parts aren’t.
  • Consciousness might feel so non-physical because it’s doubly substrate-independent: if consciousness is the way information feels when being processed in certain complex ways, then it’s merely the structure of the information processing that matters, not the structure of the matter doing the information processing.
  • If artificial consciousness is possible, then the space of possible AI experiences is likely to be huge compared to what we humans can experience, spanning a vast spectrum of qualia and timescales—all sharing a feeling of having free will.
  • Since there can be no meaning without consciousness, it’s not our Universe giving meaning to conscious beings, but conscious beings giving meaning to our Universe.
  • This suggests that as we humans prepare to be humbled by ever smarter machines, we take comfort mainly in being Homo sentiens, not Homo sapiens.

Epilogue: The Tale of the FLI Team

The book finishes with the authors creation of the foundation “FutureOfLife.org” which began with a conference where every notable AI researcher on the planet came together and co-wrote the “Asilomar AI principles”.

Artificial intelligence has already provided beneficial tools that are used every day by people around the world. Its continued development, guided by the following principles, will offer amazing opportunities to help and empower people in the decades and centuries ahead.

Research Issues

1) Research Goal: The goal of AI research should be to create not undirected intelligence, but beneficial intelligence.

2) Research Funding: Investments in AI should be accompanied by funding for research on ensuring its beneficial use, including thorny questions in computer science, economics, law, ethics, and social studies, such as:

  • How can we make future AI systems highly robust, so that they do what we want without malfunctioning or getting hacked?
  • How can we grow our prosperity through automation while maintaining people’s resources and purpose?
  • How can we update our legal systems to be more fair and efficient, to keep pace with AI, and to manage the risks associated with AI?
  • What set of values should AI be aligned with, and what legal and ethical status should it have?

3) Science-Policy Link: There should be constructive and healthy exchange between AI researchers and policy-makers.

4) Research Culture: A culture of cooperation, trust, and transparency should be fostered among researchers and developers of AI.

5) Race Avoidance: Teams developing AI systems should actively cooperate to avoid corner-cutting on safety standards.

Ethics and Values

6) Safety: AI systems should be safe and secure throughout their operational lifetime, and verifiably so where applicable and feasible.

7) Failure Transparency: If an AI system causes harm, it should be possible to ascertain why.

8) Judicial Transparency: Any involvement by an autonomous system in judicial decision-making should provide a satisfactory explanation auditable by a competent human authority.

9) Responsibility: Designers and builders of advanced AI systems are stakeholders in the moral implications of their use, misuse, and actions, with a responsibility and opportunity to shape those implications.

10) Value Alignment: Highly autonomous AI systems should be designed so that their goals and behaviors can be assured to align with human values throughout their operation.

11) Human Values: AI systems should be designed and operated so as to be compatible with ideals of human dignity, rights, freedoms, and cultural diversity.

12) Personal Privacy: People should have the right to access, manage and control the data they generate, given AI systems’ power to analyze and utilize that data.

13) Liberty and Privacy: The application of AI to personal data must not unreasonably curtail people’s real or perceived liberty.

14) Shared Benefit: AI technologies should benefit and empower as many people as possible.

15) Shared Prosperity: The economic prosperity created by AI should be shared broadly, to benefit all of humanity.

16) Human Control: Humans should choose how and whether to delegate decisions to AI systems, to accomplish human-chosen objectives.

17) Non-subversion: The power conferred by control of highly advanced AI systems should respect and improve, rather than subvert, the social and civic processes on which the health of society depends.

18) AI Arms Race: An arms race in lethal autonomous weapons should be avoided.

Longer-term Issues

19) Capability Caution: There being no consensus, we should avoid strong assumptions regarding upper limits on future AI capabilities.

20) Importance: Advanced AI could represent a profound change in the history of life on Earth, and should be planned for and managed with commensurate care and resources.

21) Risks: Risks posed by AI systems, especially catastrophic or existential risks, must be subject to planning and mitigation efforts commensurate with their expected impact.

22) Recursive Self-Improvement: AI systems designed to recursively self-improve or self-replicate in a manner that could lead to rapidly increasing quality or quantity must be subject to strict safety and control measures.

23) Common Good: Superintelligence should only be developed in the service of widely shared ethical ideals, and for the benefit of all humanity rather than one state or organization.

To date, the Principles have been signed by 1273 AI/Robotics researchers and 2541 others.

Your Thoughts?

Do you have an interest in AI? Have you read this book? Have your say in the comment section below.

What 87 of the Best Business Books in the World Have to Teach You

I read a lot of business books.

It all started when I had an interest in doing an MBA course.

I came across a website by Josh Kaufman who said “don’t bother spending $100k+ on an MBA, you can learn everything you need to know from my list of 99 business books”.

I read through his list (at a rate of 1.5 business books per week) and just kept going!

I’ve now read over 200 business books since August 2008.

For a few dollars we get to reach into the minds of the greatest business people and steal their ideas, what a privilege!

I highlight my favourite parts from these books and turn these business book summaries into articles for my website.

A few years ago I compiled 67 summaries from my favourite business books into an ebook, and just this week I updated this ebook with an additional 20 summaries, bringing the total to 87.

I’ve called it “What 87 of the Best Business Books in the World Have to Teach You”.

Can you answer “YES!” to the following questions?:

  1. Do you like the idea of feeding your mind with high quality business books but have trouble finding the time?
  2. Would you like some of the best business books on the planet summarised into easily digestible chunks?
  3. Would you like to have the important lessons highlighted for you and for it to be easy for you to identify the best books that you’d like to read in their entirety?

If you answered “YES!” to those questions, then my ebook “What 87 of the Best Business Books in the World Have to Teach You” is for you.

Buy this ebook now for US$7

  • You get a pdf version, plus .epub and .mobi versions for reading on your favourite mobile device
  • 100% money back guarantee. If you are not happy with your purchase, just email me and I’ll refund you within 24 hours.

Your 458 page ebook includes these 87 chapters:

  1. Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built, by Duncan Clark
  2. Tools of Titans by Timothy Ferriss
  3. The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future by Kevin Kelly
  4. Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is Shaping our Future by Ashlee Vance
  5. Exponential Organizations by Salim Ismail
  6. Ask by Ryan Levesque
  7. Launch by Jeff Walker
  8. The 4-Hour Work Week (Timothy Ferris): What I Learned The Second Time Through
  9. Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World by Peter H. Diamandis, Steven Kotler
  10. Money, Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom by Tony Robbins
  11. Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek
  12. Less Doing, More Living: Make Everything in Life Easier by Ari Meisel
  13. Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh
  14. Flash Foresight: See The Invisible To Do The Impossible by Daniel Burrus
  15. How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life by Scott Adams
  16. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World by Gary Vaynerchuk
  17. The Power of Less: The 6 Essential Productivity Principles That Will Change Your Life by Leo Babauta
  18. Value-Based Fees: How to Charge, and Get, What You’re Worth by Alan Weiss
  19. Remote: Office Not Required by Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson
  20. The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout
  21. The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout
  22. Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think by Peter H. Diamandis, Steven Kotler
  23. Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal by Oren Klaff
  24. Startup Communities – Building An Entrepreneurial Ecosystem In Your City by Brad Feld
  25. Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
  26. The Lean Startup: How Constant Innovation Creates Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries
  27. The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur by Mike Michalowicz
  28. Rework by Jason Fried
  29. The Brain Audit by Sean D’Souza
  30. Made to Stick by Chip & Dan Heath
  31. Getting Things Done by David Allen
  32. How To Make Millions With Your Ideas by Dan S. Kennedy
  33. The Unwritten Laws of Business by J. King and James G. Skakoon
  34. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  35. Purple Cow by Seth Godin
  36. Anything You Want by Derek Sivers
  37. Game-based Marketing by Gabe Zichermann
  38. Real-Time Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott
  39. Hit The Ground Running: A Manual For New Leaders by Jason Jennings
  40. Why Now Is The Time To Crush It! Cash In On Your Passion by Gary Vaynerchuk
  41. Poke The Box by Seth Godin
  42. Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation by Sally Hogshead
  43. Socialnomics: How social media transforms the way we live and do business by Erik Qualman
  44. Social Media 101 by Chris Brogan
  45. Social Media Marketing for Dummies by Shiv Singh
  46. The Zen of Social Media Marketing by Shama Hyder Kabani
  47. Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days by Jay Conrad Levinson and Al Lautenslager
  48. Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? How to drive your career and create a remarkable future By Seth Godin
  49. Marketing Without Money – How 20 Top Australian Entrepreneurs Crack Markets With Their Minds by John C Lyons and Edward de Bono
  50. Rules of Thumb: 52 Truths For Winning At Business Without Losing Your Self by Alan M. Webber
  51. The Knack – How Street-Smart Entrepreneurs Learn To Handle Whatever Comes Up by Norm Brodsky and Bo Burlingham
  52. Getting Real: The Smarter, Faster, Easier Way to Build a Successful Web Application by 37Signals
  53. Crowdsourcing: How the Power of the Crowd is Driving the Future of Business by Jeff Howe
  54. 1001 Ways To Make More Money As A Speaker, Consultant or Trainer by Lilly Walters
  55. How To Succeed As An Independent Consultant by Timothy R V Foster
  56. How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer
  57. Ready, Fire, Aim by Michael Masterson
  58. Outrageous Advertising That’s Outrageously Successful by Bill Glazer
  59. The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J Stanley and William D Danko
  60. Toughen Up by Michael Hill
  61. Permission Marketing by Seth Godin – Have your customers given YOU permission?
  62. The Myths of Innovation by Scott Berkun
  63. Making Things Happen – Mastering Project Management by Scott Berkun
  64. Driven – How Human Nature Shapes Our Choices by Paul R. Lawrence & Nitin Nohria
  65. The five most important questions you will ever ask about your organisation by Peter F. Drucker, Jim Collins, Philip Kotler
  66. Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim & Renee Mauborgne
  67. Brain Rules by John Medina
  68. Tribes – We Need You To Lead Us by Seth Godin
  69. The Secrets of Consulting by Gerald M. Weinberg
  70. All Marketers are Liars by Seth Godin
  71. Getting Started in Consulting by Alan Weiss
  72. SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham
  73. The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes
  74. The 80/20 Principle: The Secret of Achieving More With Less by Richard Koch
  75. The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris
  76. The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber
  77. Indispensable by Joe Calloway
  78. The Sales Bible – The Ultimate Sales Resource by Jeffrey Gitomer
  79. The Complete Idiots Guide to Consulting by Robert Bacal
  80. Getting Everything You Can Out Of All You’ve Got by Jay Abraham
  81. 12: The Elements of Great Managing by Rodd Wagner and James K. Harter
  82. Influence – The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini
  83. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith
  84. Crucial Conversations, Tools For Talking When The Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson
  85. Bargaining for Advantage by G. Richard Shell
  86. Meatball Sundae by Seth Godin
  87. 10 Days To Faster Reading by Abby Marks-Beale

Buy this ebook now for US$7

  • You get a pdf version, plus .epub and .mobi versions for reading on your favourite mobile device
  • 100% money back guarantee. If you are not happy with your purchase, just email me and I’ll refund you within 24 hours.

What should I read next?

I’m always on the look out for business books to add to my reading queue, so let me know what I should read next.

Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built, by Duncan Clark

I am somewhat addicted to AliExpress app on my phone. Just about every week we’ll have a tiny package arrive all the way from China. It feels like receiving a mystery gift every time because it’s been 4 weeks since I ordered the item so I’m not sure what’s inside.

The items are of such high quality, so cheap and the free shipping is irresistible.

I’ve known about Alibaba for a few years but hadn’t made a purchase until AliExpress.

There were 3 big surprises in the book:

  1. Alibaba wasn’t the “overnight success” that I thought it was
    • In fact, it’s 20 years old
  2. China is big. Really big.
    • Yes, we all know that China has more than 1.2 Billion people but I little human brains have trouble processing the shear scale of a number that big
    • Alibaba sends out 30 million packages per day
  3. Jack Ma built one of the first websites for China, and co-founded one of the first China-based companies that built websites for clients in 1995

My notes on “Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built” by Duncan Clark.

Chapter One

Jack likes to say that his company’s success was an accident: “Alibaba might as well be known as ‘one thousand and one mistakes.’”

In its early years, he gave three explanations as to why the company survived: “We didn’t have any money, we didn’t have any technology, and we didn’t have a plan.”

But let’s look at the three real factors that underpin Alibaba’s success today: the company’s competitive edge in e-commerce, logistics, and finance, what Jack describes as Alibaba’s “iron triangle”.

The E-commerce Edge

Unlike Amazon, Alibaba’s consumer websites Taobao and Tmall carry no inventory. They serve as platforms for other merchants to sell their wares.

Taobao consists of nine million storefronts run by small traders or individuals.

Attracted by the site’s huge user base, these “micro merchants” choose to set up their stalls on Taobao in part because it costs them nothing to do so.

Alibaba charges them no fees. But Taobao makes money—a lot of it—from selling advertising space, helping promote those merchants who want to stand out from the crowd.

The Logistics Edge

On Singles’ Day 2015, orders placed on Alibaba’s websites generated 467 million packages, requiring more than 1.7 million couriers and four hundred thousand vehicles to deliver the goods.

China today has a veritable army of couriers. On foot, bicycles, electronic bikes, trucks, and trains they are the unsung heroes of the country’s e-commerce revolution.

Chinese consumers spent more than $32 billion on package deliveries in 2014. The number increased by more than 40 percent in a year.

Without the low-cost delivery that the courier services provide, Alibaba would not be the giant it is today. To survive in a cutthroat industry, some of the courier firms have adopted clever methods to keep costs at rock bottom. In Shanghai, for instance, couriers shuttle back and forth on the subway, passing packages over the barriers to one another to avoid buying multiple tickets.

In response to the inefficiency of what was then the United States Post Office. In China, the e-commerce gold rush has stimulated the rise of more than eight thousand private courier firms, of which twenty major companies stand out.

Together they handle more than 30 million packages a day and employ more than 1.5 million people across six hundred cities.

Cainiao is building a propriety information platform that knits together logistics providers, warehouses, and distribution centers across the country. Alibaba owns 48 percent of Cainiao,

Yet with Cainiao Alibaba has shored up the most important asset of all: trust. Customers and merchants know they can count on the products getting where they need to be, on time.

The Finance Edge

In financial services, Alibaba’s most important asset is Alipay, its answer to PayPal.

Alipay handles more than three-quarters of a trillion dollars a year in online transactions, three times the volume of PayPal and one-third of the $2.5 trillion global online payments market.

As a form of escrow, Alipay diffuses trust throughout Alibaba’s e-commerce empire.

Twenty percent of all Alipay transactions involve paying for utilities, such as water, electricity , and gas bills. Customers can also buy train tickets, pay traffic fines, or purchase insurance using Alipay, making it the de facto currency of an increasingly digital China.

Chapter Two Jack Magic

Jack once explained that he loves the lead character of the movie Forrest Gump because “people think he is dumb, but he knows what he is doing.”

Jack’s speaking style is so effective because his message is so easy to agree with, remember, and digest.

Jack always speaks without notes.

A close inspection of all of his speeches reveals he has essentially been giving the same speech for the last seventeen years. Yet by subtly tweaking his message to match the mood and expectations of the crowd, he somehow manages to make each speech sound fresh.

Jack is a master at appealing to people’s emotions, Humor is a big part of it.

Jack’s set pieces, his one-liners and anecdotes, and the way he combines them are essentially the same as the “bits” that comedians use to make up their routines.

With his tales of overcoming challenges and defying the odds, Jack regularly drives some in his audience to tears, even hardened business executives.

Jack’s Mantra: “Customers first, employees second, and shareholders third.” Jack describes this as Alibaba’s philosophy.

Employees are discouraged from ever complaining—a pet peeve of Jack’s—and encouraged instead to shoulder personal responsibility, carrying out or delegating tasks rather than waiting for orders from on high.

The “Six Veins” of Alibaba’s “Spirit Sword” are “customer first, teamwork, embrace change, integrity, passion, and commitment.”

Chapter Four Hope and Coming to America

These single-product towns can represent 80 percent or more of the production of individual commodities—not just in China but worldwide. Shaoxing is “textile city” and Yongkang is “hardware city,” churning out 30,000 steel doors and 150,000 motor scooters every day.

Taizhou is known as “sewing machine city” and Shenzhou as “necktie city.” Haining calls itself “leather city.” There is even a “toothbrush city”.

Yiwu itself claims to be China’s “sock city,” producing annually more than three billion pairs of socks for companies like Walmart and Disney, although Datang, near Hangzhou, also claims to be “sock city,” producing more than eight billion pairs each year.

Jack recalled his first online session: “My friend Stuart . . . said, ‘Jack, this is Internet. You can find whatever you can find through the Internet.’ I say really? So I searched the word beer. Very simple word. I don’t know why I searched for beer. But I found American beer, Germany [sic] beer and no Chinese beer. . . . I was curious, so I searched ‘China,’ and no ‘China,’ no data.”

Intrigued, Jack asked Stuart for help. “I talked to my friend, ‘Why don’t I make something about China?’ So we made a small, very ugly-looking page . . . [for the] translation agency I listed on there.”

The site for Hope Translation was just text, without any images, plus a telephone number and the price for translation work.

Jack later recalled to the journalist Charlie Rose: “It was so shocking, we launched it nine forty in the morning, twelve thirty I got a phone call from my friend. ‘Jack, you’ve got five emails.’ I said, ‘What is email?’” Three emails came from the United States, one from Japan, and one from Germany.

Jack set about formulating the idea for a new business—helping Chinese companies find export channels online—and pitched the idea of a partnership with VBN.

Chapter Five China Is Coming On

China Pages

As sales pitches go, asking people who had never heard of the Internet to fork over 20,000 renminbi ($2,400) up front to create, design, and host a website they could never see was a challenging one. Jack worried that people thought he was defrauding them. “I was treated like a con man for three years,” he said.

“It took three and a half hours to download the front page. . . . I was so excited.”

“From then on, I have held a firm belief: When I start businesses in future, I will never hold the controlling stake of a company, making those controlled by me suffer. I will give plenty of understanding and support to lower levels. I have never once had a controlling stake at Alibaba. I am proud of this. I am the CEO of the company, because I lead it with [my] wisdom, courage, and resourcefulness, not capital.”

Chapter Six Bubble and Birth

After his struggles with Hope Translation and China Pages and an uncomfortable period working for the government in Beijing, Jack went on to found Alibaba at the beginning of 1999.

Jack decided to call his new venture Alibaba, a curious name for a Chinese company.

Jack has been asked many times why he chose an Arabic name for his company rather than something derived from his passion for Chinese martial arts or folklore. Jack was attracted, he said, by the “open sesame” imagery, since he hoped to achieve an opening for the small and medium-size enterprises he was targeting.

He was also looking for a name that traveled well, and Alibaba is a name that is easy to pronounce in many languages. He liked the name since it came at the beginning of the alphabet: “Whatever you talk about, Alibaba is always on top.”

Jack says the idea came to him for the website on a trip to San Francisco: “I was having lunch, and a waitress came. I asked her: ‘Do you know about Alibaba?’ She said, ‘Yes!’ ‘What is Alibaba?’ And she said, ‘Open Sesame.’ So I went down to the street and asked about ten to twenty people. They all [knew] about Alibaba, Forty Thieves, and Open Sesame.

Chapter Seven Backers: Goldman and SoftBank

Jack has always been dismissive of business schools: “It is not necessary to study an MBA. Most MBA graduates are not useful. . . . Unless they come back from their MBA studies and forget what they’ve learned at school, then they will be useful. Because schools teach knowledge, while starting businesses requires wisdom. Wisdom is acquired through experience. Knowledge can be acquired through hard work.”

“Masters of negotiation always listen, don’t talk. Those who talk a lot only have second-rate negotiation skills. A true master listens, and as soon as he moves his sword, you pretty much collapse.”

Chapter Eight Burst and Back to China

“If you can’t tolerate your opponents, you will be definitely beaten by your opponent. . . . If you treat your opponents as enemies, you have already lost at the beginning of the game. If you hang your opponent as a target, and practice throwing darts at him every day, you are only able to fight this one enemy, not others. . . . Competition is the greatest joy. When you compete with others, and find that it brings you more and more agony, there must be something wrong with your competition strategy.”

Chapter Nine Born Again: Taobao and the Humiliation of eBay

“The pioneers take the arrows, settlers take the land”

The SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) virus outbreak started in southern China in 2002,

Although it sickened thousands and killed almost eight hundred people, the outbreak had a curiously beneficial impact on the Chinese Internet sector, including Alibaba. SARS validated digital mobile telephony and the Internet, and so came to represent the turning point when the Internet emerged as a truly mass medium in China.

Millions of people, confined to their homes or dormitories for days or weeks on end, looked to the Internet for information or entertainment.

Crucially for Alibaba, SARS convinced millions of people, afraid to go outside, to try shopping online instead.

“One of the greatest investments of our lifetime has been New York City real estate,” she said, “and investors made the highest returns when they bought stuff during the 1970s and 1980s when people were getting mugged. . . . The lesson is that you make the most money when you buy stuff that’s out of consensus.”

By starting with C2C, it made the price factor very appealing. Individuals can be happy to make even five mao (less than 1 U.S. cent) on a sale.”

Taobao’s decision to forgo charging fees was not without risk, since it forced it to look to other ways of generating revenues, especially if the site became popular and drove up operating costs. But making the site free for both shoppers and merchants turned out to be the key factor in ensuring Taobao’s triumph over eBay. A research paper that analyzed more than a decade’s worth of transaction data on Taobao concludes that in the early phase of the company’s history, attracting merchants, who in China are especially allergic to paying fees, was more important than attracting shoppers. Taobao’s popularity was fueled by a “virtuous circle”: More merchants and product listings meant more shoppers were attracted to the site, which meant more merchants and products, etc.

As predicted, as soon as the China site was migrated and integrated into the global site, the impact on EachNet’s traffic was disastrous: It dropped off precipitously. Customers in China started to experience long delays and time-outs on the site. Why would they bother to wait for eBay in China—a site that charged fees—when Taobao was available instantly and for free?

Changing one word on the site would take nine weeks. Changing one feature would take one year.

Although Taobao had its merits, Alibaba could hardly believe its luck as the ineptness of this supposedly world-renowned company became apparent.

“You’ve got to have a set of products uniquely designed for this market by Chinese. It is not a market where you can take a product or a system that works in Europe or the United States and export to China.”

“We made one big mistake. We should have left EachNet on their own platform in China. Instead what we did was put EachNet onto the global eBay platform because it had worked everywhere. It had worked in Western Europe, it had worked all over. . . . We had bought all these baby eBays and basically migrated them to one common platform, which had a lot of advantages. One is cost. Second is speed to market, because when you roll ‘buy it now’ you could roll it to thirty countries as opposed to do it incrementally. But we made a mistake in China.” She gives credit to Alibaba’s achievements in designing Taobao to suit the local market:

“eBay may be a shark in the ocean, but I am a crocodile in the Yangtze River. If we fight in the ocean, we lose, but if we fight in the river, we win.”

Chapter Ten Yahoo’s Billion-Dollar Bet

On April 12, 1996, Yahoo went public on the Nasdaq,

Only a year after incorporating the company, Jerry Yang and David Filo were each worth more than $165 million on paper. Within three years they were billionaires.

Google announced its withdrawal from China.

eBay, Yahoo, and Google had all recognized that China’s Internet market would become massive. But as the market grew, so did regulatory barriers and the competitive challenge from entrepreneurial and well-financed companies like Alibaba, Baidu, and Tencent.

Chapter Eleven Growing Pains

Tencent, with more than 740 million QQ instant messaging users

Although its share price took a beating, Alibaba would survive the global financial crisis. And as with SARS five years earlier, the crisis created some unexpected dividends for the company. First, Jack realized that the downturn gave him a way to increase the loyalty of his paying customers. He initiated a dramatic reduction in the cost of thier subscriptions, tellin David, “Let’s be responsible to our customers. They are paying fifty thousand yuan; we can give them thirty thousand yuan back.”

“The stock market went crazy,” David recalled, as investors called him up to complain, “What? You’re losing sixty percent of your revenue.” But there was a method to Jack’s madness. Jack was serious about putting the customer first. Jack was “always trying to understand how to get the money back later. He’s just not greedy about getting the money first.” Looking back on the price cut, David concluded that the move was well timed. “Revenues didn’t drop at all. Customer volume growth offset the price drop completely. And after the financial crisis was over we didn’t raise the prices. We created an opportunity to sell them more value-added services, more of an Internet-style model. Jack actually told me he wanted to change it anyway. The crisis gave him the opportunity.”

Chapter Twelve Icon or Icarus?

So, Alibaba found itself in New York. Selling 12 percent of the company, it raised $25 billion, the largest IPO in history.

Demand for BABA shares outstripped supply by over fourteen times.

BABA closed the day 25 percent higher than the initial price, valuing the company at over $230 billion, more than Coca-Cola. Among Internet companies, Alibaba was second only to Google, higher even than Amazon and Facebook.

CEO David Wei instructed his team to look at countries with the lowest efficiency in their retail sector.

Without AliExpress even opening offices there, but with Russian and Portuguese language capabilities added to the AliExpress website, Russia and Brazil became early success stories. Demand from Alibaba’s customers in Brazil at one point exceeded over three hundred thousand packages a day, before a slowing economy and the weakening real hit the company’s business there. Demand in Russia, especially for clothing and consumer electronics, was so strong that AliExpress reportedly even broke the Russian postal service, leading to the dismissal of its boss. Today Russia accounts for a fifth of AliExpress’s sales.

Your Thoughts?

Have you read the book? What did you get out of it? Have these notes inspired you to read it?

Have your say in the comments section below.

How Robotics In NZ’s Primary Industries Could Double Productivity By 2025

Last night I attended a University of Waikato lecture entitled “Robotics in primary industries – the revolution begins!” presented by Professor Mike Duke.

Professor Mike Duke

It was fascinating!

Here are my notes on the talk:

The Goal

The NZ Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has set the goal of doubling primary industry exports by 2025.

7 Key Challenges Slowing Growth In The Primary Industry

  1. Labour shortage
    • Very difficult to find locals interested in low-skill work so having to bring in immigrants
  2. Labour cost
    • Often have to pay agencies to source workers which adds to labour cost
  3. Labour legislation
    • Rules and regulations around working hours, conditions etc
  4. Quality control
    • Work often needs to be checked 2 or 3 times, lots of wastage, lack of care
  5. Labour reliability
    • Workers often don’t turn up
  6. Health and Safety
    • Increasing burden for compliance
  7. Obsolete machinery
    • Produces lower quality results

Can Robotics and Smart Automation Help Solve Some of these Issues?

A major component of primary industries is grading. Grading fruit for blemishes,  grading seedlings for suitability.

“Grading is not good use of human brainpower”.

We’ve been using robots in factories for years (eg the vehicle manufacturing industry)

But how do we move robots from factories to the fields?

Some of the challenges unique to outdoor robots dealing with plants:

  • Zero light control: Night and day, and dappled light in overhead canopies is problematic for light sensors and cameras
  • Rain
  • Huge variation in foliage structure
  • Slopping ground, difficult terrain

4 Examples of Primary Industry Robots

Here are 4 examples of robots built, or in development, by the university and it’s partners.

Robotic Example #1: The robot that punches precision holes for seedlings

The problem:

  • In a nursery, an antiquated machine with a spiked wheel was being used to punch holes in the soil
  • The problem is that the spike makes a ragged hole, and when the seedling starts to grow it adapts to the shape of the whole and often grows crooked

The robotic solution:

  • The team created a robot that rolls along and punches precision holes

The result:

  • The robot (based in Tokoroa), has created 20 million precision holes in the last 4 years

Robotic Example #2: The robot that picks and grades seedlings

The problem:

  • Once the seedlings are ready for picking and sending to the clients, the process is tedious, and time consuming

The robotic solution:

  • The team created a robot that rolls along and picks out the seedlings, knocks off the dirt, trims off some of the longer roots, and passes the roots under a camera to assess it’s quality and suitability for the client, and packs the seedling into a box

The result:

  • The robot can lift 100,000 trees a day

Robotic Example #3: The robot that hunts down Asparagus stalks

The problem:

  • Asparagus is only ready to be picked when it has reached a certain height
  • The fields are large and would require 100’s of kilometres of walking per day for a single person so often need teams of dozens or up to 80 people
  • Picking asparagus is a back-breaking job that harvests one stalk at a time

The robotic solution:

  • The team is working on a robot that uses LIDAR to detect asparagus in the field that has reached the right height, navigate to these stalks, cut them and place them in a tray
  • 10 robots like this could move around night and day

Robotic Example #4: The robot that picks Kiwifruit and pollinates flowers

The problem:

  • Harvesting kiwifruit is time sensitive and labour intensive. It’s hard work reaching up into the canopy
  • Bee’s don’t like kiwifruit flowers much so they often need to be pollinated by hand with a spray bottle of very expensive pollen

The robotic solution:

  • The team has developed a robot car with a platform that can host a wide range of robotic devices on top of it
  • One such robotic device is a system of 4 robot arms that can pick a kiwifruit every second
  • Another such robotic device is a pollination machine that can pollinate 20,000 flowers in a single row of kiwifruit in a few minutes
The robotic, self-driving platform
This RoboticsPlus kiwifruit picking robot can pick a kiwifruit every second

Additional applications include:

  • The identification, and targeted eradication, of individual pest insects
  • The pollination of just the flowers that the harvesting robot can reach easily in a few months (instead of 20% of the crop being out of reach for the harvesting robot)
  • Counting pests or diseases (stink bugs, murtle rust) and tag their location or eradicate them
  • The identification and eradication of individual weeds

A New Export For New Zealand

Exporting our produce is one thing, but exporting robots like these is a whole new service category for New Zealand.

Watch The Presentation Yourself

You can watch the 45 minute presentation yourself on YouTube, which was recorded a few weeks earlier for a different audience but with almost identical content:

Your Thoughts?

Do you think the goal is achievable with the help of robots like these?

Are we doing enough to prepare our children for working in industries like these in the near future?

Have your say in the comments section below.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

Have you ever read a book and felt it rewiring your brain?

This is one of those books.

(This is actually the first of a pair of books. The sequel is called Homo Deus which looks at the future).

My whole adult life I’ve had a conflict between my Christian beliefs and my interest in science when it comes to the origin of humanity (and all life on this planet). This book nudged me one step closer to the explanations provided by science.

This book tackles the big questions:

  • Was the universe and humanity created by God?
  • Or, have humans, and all life on this planet, evolved over millions/billions of years? And if so, what is the evidence?
  • What is the purpose of humanity?
  • Why is all life driven to survive and thrive?
  • Were religions created by people to help us co-operate better?

I found a summary much better than one I could have written by James Clear on his blog: Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, summary written by James Clear.

So I have copied James Clear’s notes below, but first, here are 5 ideas that really stood out to me.

My 5 Favourite Ideas From Sapiens

  1. That instead of domesticating wheat, wheat domesticated us, and has become one of the most successful plants in the history of the planet
  2. That our human ability to share “myths” has helped us take over the planet.
    • The most important of those myth’s is money. We all agree to believe that pieces of paper or numbers in an account have value. Using money as a basis, complete strangers can exchange value with each-other and grow the economy
    • Another myth are nations. Nation’s don’t physically exist like a mountain or a lake does, but we name countries and believe they exist
    • Another example is companies. They are legal fictions but they have the power to influence everything that physically exists in the world
  3. I was fascinated by the story of how Australia’s ancient giant mammals (eg 3 ton wombat, the 3m tall kangaroo, the 3m tall flightless thunder bird) were all wiped out within a short time of the first humans arriving on that landmass. They didn’t have a chance to evolve a fear of humans so that was the end of them
  4. Humanity became increasingly dependent on the agricultural revolution and even though it fed more and more people, nutrition levels actually dropped
  5. A review of history has shown that humanity is moving relentlessly toward unity (despite what the media might make you think). The whole planet is moving toward one world culture.

Want to read it yourself? Buy it from Amazon.

Yuval Noah Harari’s 2015 TED Talk

Yuval’s TED Talk provides a very brief 15 minute summary of Sapiens (and a 2 minute intro to the sequel: Homo Deus).

Jame’s Clear’s Notes on Sapiens

The Book in Three Sentences

Human history has been shaped by three major revolutions: the Cognitive Revolution (70,000 years ago), the Agricultural Revolution (10,000 years ago), and the Scientific Revolution (500 years ago).

These revolutions have empowered humans to do something no other form of life has done, which is to create and connect around ideas that do not physically exist (think religion, capitalism, and politics).

These shared “myths” have enabled humans to take over the globe and have put humankind on the verge of overcoming the forces of natural selection.

Sapiens summary

This is my book summary of Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. My notes are informal and often contain quotes from the book as well as my own thoughts. This summary also includes key lessons and important passages from the book.

  • Human cultures began to take shape about 70,000 years ago.
  • There have been three major revolutions in human history: the cognitive revolution, the agricultural revolution, and the scientific revolution.
  • Prehistoric humans (2 million years old or so) were no more important and impressive than other mammals.
  • Homo Sapiens means “wise man.”
  • Humans first evolved in Africa about 2.5 million years ago.
  • The author believes it is unlikely Homo sapiens will survive for another 1,000 years.
  • From about 2 million years ago until 10,000 years ago, multiple human species roamed the earth together. The depiction of man evolving from hunched over to upright incorrectly displays human evolution as a linear trajectory. In fact, the species lived simultaneously.
  • Humans have huge brains for their body size.
  • Human brains account for 2-3 percent of body size, but use 25 percent of energy.
  • Human kind was very much in the middle of the food chain until 400,000 years ago and didn’t leap to the top of the food chain until 100,000 years ago.
  • Most animals at the top of the food chain made it there gradually over millions of years. Humans, however, jumped to the top relatively rapidly. This means that the rest of the food chain wasn’t ready and neither were we. Hence we feel anxious and stressed because we aren’t used to being at the top.
  • The advent of fire and cooking food may have opened the way for the evolution of a smaller intestinal track and a larger brain.
  • There are two theories of how Homo sapiens evolved: Interbreeding theory and Replacement theory. The reality is probably a combination of both theories.
  • Perhaps this is why Homo sapiens wiped out the Neanderthals: “They were too familiar to ignore, but too different to tolerate.”
  • The last dwarf species of humans died out 12,000 years ago.
  • Homo sapiens conquered the world because of its unique language.
  • The Cognitive Revolution occurred between 70,000 to 30,000 years ago. It allowed Homo sapiens to communicate at a level never seen before in language.
  • As far as we know, only Homo sapiens can talk about things we have never seen, touched, or smelled. Think religions, myths, legends, and fantasies.
  • The telling of myths and stories allow Homo sapiens to collaborate in large numbers in extremely flexible ways.
  • This separates us from all other animals.
  • Chimps can’t form groups of more than 50 or so. For humans, the group size is usually 150 or so. Beyond that, you can’t rely on gossip and personal communication. You need something more to get large numbers of people working together.
  • Large numbers of people can collaborate by sharing common myths and beliefs.
  • In academic circles, stories are known as fictions, social constructs, or imagined realities.
  • An imagined reality is not a lie because the entire group believes it.
  • Ever since the Cognitive Revolution, humans have been living in a dual reality: the physical reality and the imagined reality.
  • The way people cooperate can be changed by changing the stories as myths we tell.
  • Because Homo sapiens shared myths were not genetically based, they could adapt and change their behavior as soon as they adapted their new belief. They didn’t have to wait millions of years for a genetic change.
  • Homo sapiens are the only animals that conduct trade.
    As far as we know, the humans of 30,000 years ago had the same physical, emotional, and intellectual capabilities that we have today.
  • Evolutionary psychology claims that most of our psychology was developed during the period before the
  • Agricultural Revolution about 10,000 years ago.
  • The instinct to gorge on high calorie food is wired into our DNA.
  • Ever since the Agricultural Revolution, there hasn’t been one predominant way of life for all humans. There have only been options from a variety of cultures.
  • The dog was the first animal domesticated by humans around 15,000 years ago.
  • In ancient human groups (over 10,000 years ago) there was very little privacy, but also very little loneliness.
  • Most of our ancient ancestors had much wider and deeper knowledge of their physical surroundings than we do. They were not unintelligent at all.
  • The human collective today knows far more overall than the whole population of 15,000 years ago. However, at the individual level we are much more specialized today. Ancient foragers were the most knowledgable and skillful people in history.
  • It is far easier to pass “unremarkable” genes along today than it was 10,000 years ago.
  • Our lack of knowledge about prehistoric religions and beliefs is one of the biggest holes in our understanding of human history.
  • Humans traveling across the sea and landing in Australia was one of the most important expeditions in history.
  • It marked the moment humans cemented themselves at the top of the food chain.
  • Homo sapiens first made it to America about 16,000 years ago.
  • The settling of America – across the Siberian peninsula through Alaska into Canada and the United States down through Mexico and Central America into the Andes and the Amazon and all the way to the tip of South America – was one of the most rapid and incredible invasions by a single species the world had ever seen.
  • Incredibly, the Agricultural Revolution sprang up independently in many different parts of the world.
  • There is no evidence modern humans have become more intelligent with time.
    The Agricultural Revolution actually didn’t make the life of the average human better at first. It did, however, allow humans to collect more food per unit area and thus the overall population multiplied exponentially.
  • Fascinatingly, the first few thousand years of the Agricultural Revolution actually made life harder for humans by creating more work, less leisure, and a ballooning population that created more mouths to feed. Each individual generation didn’t see how their life was becoming worse because the small changes were so tiny.
  • One of history’s few iron laws is that luxuries tend to become necessities and to spawn new obligations. Once people begin to enjoy new luxuries they tend to become expected and then count on them.
  • The evolutionary success of the Agricultural Revolution (greater population) was actually cause for much suffering on the individual level. Not just for humans, but for domesticated animals like cows, sheep, and chickens as well.
  • The advent of the Agricultural Revolution marked the time when worries of the future became prevalent: the weather, the crop yield this year, etc.
  • The myths that surround us and make up our lives dictate so much of what we believe and what we do.
  • Like the ancient Egyptians, most people dedicate their lives to building pyramids. It’s just that the names, shapes, and sizes of the pyramids change from one culture to another.
  • In order to change the imagined order, you must first find a group that believes in a current imagined order.
  • New myths must build upon or evolve from previous myths.
  • The main purpose of writing is to record numbers, which our brains did not evolve to manage well. Our brains are much better at remembering biological, zoological, and social information.
  • There is an ancient writing system used by the Incas known as a quipu. They are not written words at all, but a series of knots of different colors and strings that represent words and numbers.
  • Writing has actually changed the way humans think. We can use writing and record keeping to think far more categorically than ever before.
  • Numbers are the world’s most prevalent language.
  • Social hierarchies, inequality, and so on are human inventions.
  • Most rich people are rich because they were born into rich families. Most poor people are poor because they were born into poor families.
  • Unjust discrimination often gets worse, not better, with time.
  • As of 2006, there were still 53 countries where a husband could not be legally prosecuted for raping his wife.
  • When it comes to gender inequality: biology enables, culture forbids. The idea of “unnatural” behaviors is actually a result of Christian theology, not biology.
  • If it is possible biologically, then it is natural. From a scientific perspective, two men having sex is natural.
  • Traveling at the speed of light is not natural.
  • Why are men valued in many cultures more than women?
  • All human cultures are filled with inconsistencies. For example, America currently values individual freedom and equality. But these two ideals don’t always play nicely. It is part of the human experience to reconcile them.
  • These inconsistencies aren’t necessarily bad. They force us to think critically. Consistency is the playground of dull minds.
  • History is moving relentlessly toward unity. The whole planet is moving toward one world culture.
  • The creation of money was purely an intellectual revolution. It doesn’t exist except in our minds.
  • More than 90 percent of all money is just electronic data, not physical money.
  • Everyone always wants money precisely because everyone else always wants money.
  • Empires have been the world’s most common form of political organization for the last 2,500 years.
  • In general, empires do not fall because of uprisings. They almost always succumb to outside invasion or splits from within the empower class.
  • Most of what we firmly believe is part of “our culture” was actually forced upon us by other empires who conquered our ancestors.
  • Despite the obvious negatives of empires taking over a culture, there are many benefits too. Art, music, governance, and more are the result of empires forming. Often, they blended new together with the conquered people to create a new culture.
  • It seems obvious that we are moving fast toward a singe global empire. Global markets, global warming, and commonly accepted concepts like human rights make it clear we all need one collective entity, not man states and countries.
  • Religion is the third great unifier of humankind, alongside money and empires.
  • The Agricultural Revolution was accompanied by a Religious Revolution.
  • Interestingly, polytheism is more open and accepting of multiple beliefs even though we often look at it as more barbarian and uneducated than our current beliefs.
  • Monotheism seems to push away polytheism, but actually is very similar to polytheistic gods with the use of patron saints. Praying to the patron saints of farmers isn’t much different than praying to the god of rain.
  • The central tension with monotheism is how to deal with the fact that there is evil in the world while the omnipoten God is believed to be good and caring. If God is good why would he allow evil things to happen?
  • Even the rich and famous are rarely satisfied.
  • According to Buddhist tradition: the mind naturally craves more in all situations. And all suffering arrives from craving.
  • There are a variety of “natural law religions” that are popular today like communism, capitalism, and liberalism.
  • Over the last 200 years, science has increasingly revealed that human behavior is determined by hormones, genes, and neurological synapses. If this is true, then for how much longer will we ignore that biology does not agree with the concept of free will?
  • To describe how something happened means to reconstruct the series of specific events that led from one point to another.
  • To describe why something happened means to find causal connections that led to this particular series of events to the exclusion of all others.
  • The deeper your knowledge of a particular area of history, the harder it becomes to explain why one particular outcome occurred and not another.
  • It is an inevitable rule of history that what seems obvious in hindsight is impossible to predict beforehand.
  • The are level one and level two Chaotic Systems. Level one does not respond to predictions about it, like the weather and weather forecasts. Level two does respond to predictions about it, like the stock market and analyst reports about rising oil prices.
  • There is no proof that history is working for the benefit of humans or that human well being increases overtime. It’s good for the victors, but is it good for us all?
  • The Scientific Revolution started in Europe around 500 years ago. The last 500 years have witnessed an unprecedented growth of human impact.
  • One difference between religion and science is that science assumes humankind does not know the answers to many of life’s biggest questions. Religion, however, assumes that the important stuff is already known. Science assumes human ignorance.
  • Modern culture has been able to admit ignorance more than any previous culture.
  • Previous cultures and belief systems compiled their theories using stories. Science compiles its theories using mathematics.
  • The story of how Scottish Widows was founded is an awesome example of the power of probability.
  • Scientists generally agree that no theory is 100 percent correct. Thus, the real test of knowledge is not truth, but utility. Science gives us power. The more useful that power, the better the science.
  • The military arms race drives science forward in rapid fashion. The truth is war prompts many scientific discoveries.
  • In the past, the best minds of the day worked on finding ways to give meaning to death. Today, our best minds work on preventing death through biological, hormonal, and genetic means. Science does not take death as an inevitability.
  • The economic, religious, and political interests that impact the flow of money into scientific and technological research have a huge impact on the output of science.
  • It is not enough to consider science in a vacuum. Economic and capitalistic interests, for example, determine what we research and what to do with the research findings.
  • Why did Europeans discover and conquer the Americas? Why not the Chinese or those from India or the Middle East who possessed just as much knowledge and technology as the Europeans? The European ideology to explore the world was the primary difference.
  • For most of human history, per capita production remained the same. Since the launch of capitalism, however, per capita production has skyrocketed.
  • Modern capitalism has exploded the growth of humankind thanks to the creation of credit, which allows you to borrow money now because we collectively trust that the future will be better than the present.
  • Adam Smith’s brilliant insight about capitalism in The Wealth of Nations was that increasing private profits is the basis for increasing collective wealth and prosperity. In other words, by becoming richer you benefit everyone, not just yourself. Both parties get a bigger slice of pie. (Note: this only works if profits get reinvested, not hoarded.)
  • For capitalism to work, profits must be reinvested in new production.
  • The “religion” of capitalism says economic growth is the supreme because justice, freedom, and happiness requires economic growth.
  • All credit is based on the idea that science and technology will advance. Scientists ultimately foot the bill of capitalism.
  • The annual sugar intake of the average Englishman rose from nearly zero in the early 17th century to 18 pounds in the early 19th century.
  • The life expectancy, child mortality, and calorie intake are significantly improved for the average person in 2014 compared to 1914, despite exponential population growth.
  • Until the industrial revolution, human behavior was largely dictated by solar energy and plant growth. Day and night. Summer and winter. Everything was determined by man power and animal power, which were determined by food, which is determined by photosynthesis.
  • “This is the basic lesson of evolutionary psychology: a need shaped in the wild continues to be felt subjectively even if it is no longer really necessary for survival and reproduction.”
  • Harlow’s infant monkey studies from the 1950s (and a variety of followup studies) have shown that animals have strong psychological needs as well as purgative physical needs. Note to self: never disregard your psychological needs.
  • Each year the United States population spends more money on diets than the amount needed to feed all the hungry in the rest of the world.
  • Most people don’t realize just how peaceful of the times are we live in.
  • In recent years, more people die from suicide each year than from war and violent crime. The same can said for car accidents.
  • Live a safe community, drive as little as possible, and love yourself. Violent local crime, car accidents, and suicide are some of the biggest killers of humans.
  • War is at an all time low because the costs of war have increased because of nuclear weapons, the benefits of war have decreased because physical resources drive less of the economy and international trade is more lucrative than conquest, and the tightening of international connections because a worldwide culture is less likely to battle itself.
  • Our view of the past is heavily influenced by recent events.
  • Researchers have investigated nearly all aspects of history, but have rarely have asked whether historical changes have made humans happier.
  • Nietzsche: “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”
  • If happiness is based on pleasurable feelings, then increasing our happiness is a matter of increases biochemical release. If happiness is based on meaning, then increasing our happiness is a matter of deluding ourselves about the meaning of our lives.
  • One uncommonly cited benefit of religion: belief in the afterlife gives meaning to your life in the present.
  • Buddhism has studied happiness for over 2,000 years. Interestingly, Buddhism shares many viewpoints on happiness with science. Most notably, that happiness results from processes within the body and not from the outside world.
  • The Buddhist philosophy of happiness centers around the idea that you are not the events that happen to you, but you are also not the feelings you have. You are not your feelings. They are just feelings. Thus, if you understand this, you can release the needs to keep chasing the need to feel happy or to not feel angry or to not feel sad. In other words, you have to understand yourself.
  • For close to 4 billion years, every organism developed according to evolution. But in recent decades, humans have begun to evolve according to intelligent design. In other words, there are people who would have been selected out of the gene pool millennia ago, but not today.
  • Genetic engineering is allowing humans to break the laws of natural selection.
  • The next stage of human history will not only involve biological and technological changes, but also changes in human consciousness and identity. Changes that are this fundamental will call the very term “human” into question.
  • Many people think the question we should ask to guide our scientific pursuits is, “What do we want to become?” However, because we seem to be on the path to genetically engineering and programming nearly every facets of our wants, desires, and consciousness, the real question we should ask is, “What do we want to want?”
  • In the past 1000 years, humans have evolved to take over the world and are on the verge of overcoming natural selection and becoming gods. Yet, we still seem unhappy in many ways and we are unsure of what we want. Is there anything more dangerous that dissatisfied and irresponsible gods who don’t know what they want?

The Sequel: Homo Deus

I actually read the sequel to this book, Homo Deus first. Sapiens looks back at the past, Homo Deus looks at the future and I found the ideas fascinating.

Your Thoughts?

Have you read the book? What did you get out of it? Have these notes inspired you to read it?

Have your say in the comments section below.

Tools of Titans by Timothy Ferriss

I’ve been a fan of Tim Ferris since the beginning when his first book 4-Hour Work Week caused me to quit my job. I own every book he’s written.

This book is a collection of his favourite moments from the 100’s of pod-cast interviews he’s done with “Billionaires, Icons and World-Class Performers”.

It’s also crammed full of recommendations for documentries and books, so after reading this book instead of my reading list being reduced by one, it has increased by 10.

The book is in 3 parts: Healthy, Wealthy and Wise.

Here are my favourite bits of “Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers” by Timothy Ferriss.

Part 1: HEALTHY

A very simple 10-second exercise. I tell the audience members to each identify two human beings in the room and just think, “I wish for this person to be happy, and I wish for that person to be happy.

Everybody emerges from this exercise smiling, happier than 10 seconds before. This is the joy of loving-kindness.

During working hours or school hours, randomly identify two people who walk past you or who are standing or sitting around you. Secretly wish for them to be happy. Just think to yourself, “I wish for this person to be happy, and I wish for that person to be happy.

I found myself wondering throughout the day, “Why am I so happy?” Part of the reason I think it’s so effective is that meditation is normally a very “me”-focused activity,

Part 2 WEALTHY

CHRIS SACCA

GO TO AS MANY HIGHER-LEVEL MEETINGS AS POSSIBLE

“Go to all the meetings you can, even if you’re not invited to them, and figure out how to be helpful. If people wonder why you’re there, just start taking notes.”

Chris was well known at Google for showing up to meetings with anyone, including the co-founders. Even if attendees looked at each other puzzled, Chris would sit down and let them know he’d be taking notes for them.

GOOD STORIES ALWAYS BEAT GOOD SPREADSHEETS

“Whether you are raising money, pitching your product to customers, selling the company, or recruiting employees, never forget that underneath all the math and the MBA bullshit talk, we are all still emotionally driven human beings. We want to attach ourselves to narratives. We don’t act because of equations. We follow our beliefs. We get behind leaders who stir our feelings.”

MARC ANDREESSEN

RAISE PRICES

It has become conventional wisdom in Silicon Valley that the way to succeed is to price your product as low as possible, under the theory that if it’s low-priced, everybody can buy it, and that’s how you get to volume,” he said. “And we just see over and over and over again people failing with that, because they get into a problem called ‘too hungry to eat.’ They don’t charge enough for their product to be able to afford the sales and marketing required to actually get anybody to buy it. Is your product any good if people won’t pay more for it?

DEREK SIVERS

HOW TO THRIVE IN AN UNKNOWABLE FUTURE? CHOOSE THE PLAN WITH THE MOST OPTIONS. THE BEST PLAN IS THE ONE THAT LETS YOU CHANGE YOUR PLANS.

THE STANDARD PACE IS FOR CHUMPS

“I think you can graduate Berklee School of Music in two years instead of four. The standard pace is for chumps. The school has to organize its curricula around the lowest common denominator, so that almost no one is left out. They have to slow down, so everybody can catch up. But,’ he said, ‘you’re smarter than that.’ He said, ‘I think you could just buy the books for those, [skip the classes] and then contact the department head to take the final exam to get credit.”

TF: Lack of time is lack of priorities. If I’m “busy,” it is because I’ve made choices that put me in that position, so I’ve forbidden myself to reply to “How are you?” with “Busy.” I have no right to complain. Instead, if I’m too busy, it’s a cue to reexamine my systems and rules.

TAKE 45 MINUTES INSTEAD OF 43—IS YOUR RED FACE WORTH IT?

Why don’t I just chill? For once, I’m gonna go on the same bike ride, and I’m not going to be a complete snail, but I’ll go at half of my normal pace.’ I got on my bike, and it was just pleasant.

I was like, ‘Hey, a pelican!’ and he shit in my mouth.

I looked at my watch, and it said 45 minutes. I thought, ‘How the hell could that have been 45 minutes, as opposed to my usual 43? There’s no way.’ But it was right: 45 minutes. That was a profound lesson that changed the way I’ve approached my life ever since…. “We could do the math, [but] whatever, 93-something-percent of my huffing and puffing, and all that red face and all that stress was only for an extra 2 minutes. It was basically for nothing…. [So,] for life, I think of all of this maximization—getting the maximum dollar out of everything, the maximum out of every second, the maximum out of every minute—you don’t need to stress about any of this stuff.

What’s something you believe that other people think is crazy? “Oh, that’s easy. I’ve got a lot of unpopular opinions. I believe alcohol tastes bad, and so do olives. I’ve never tried coffee, but I don’t like the smell.

Ben Franklin’s excellent advice: “If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth writing.

is the ultimate quantification of success? For me, it’s not how much time you spend doing what you love. It’s how little time you spend doing what you hate. And this woman spent all day, every day doing what she loved.

REID HOFFMAN

QuestBridge supplies more exceptional low-in-come talent (i.e., kids) to top universities than all other nonprofits combined. QuestBridge has created a single standardized college application that’s accepted by more than 30 top universities like Stanford, MIT, Amherst, and Yale. This allows them to do some very innovative things, such as give away laptops and have the giveaway forms double as college applications. They then offer scholarships to many kids who could otherwise not even think of college. Did you know that roughly $3 billion available for scholarships goes wasted each year? It’s not a funding problem: It’s a sourcing problem.

“I have come to learn that part of the business strategy is to solve the simplest, easiest, and most valuable problem. And actually, in fact, part of doing strategy is to solve the easiest problem, so part of the reason why you work on software and bits is that atoms [physical products] are actually very difficult.

“Never go to sleep without a request to your subconscious.”—Thomas Edison

PETER THIEL

How important is failure in business? “I think failure is massively overrated. Most businesses fail for more than one reason. So when a business fails, you often don’t learn anything at all because the failure was overdetermined.

“I think people actually do not learn very much from failure. I think it ends up being quite damaging and demoralizing to people in the long run, and my sense is that the death of every business is a tragedy.

What I prefer over trends is a sense of mission. That you are working on a unique problem that people are not solving elsewhere. “When Elon Musk started SpaceX, they set out the mission to go to Mars. You may agree or disagree with that as a mission statement, but it was a problem that was not going to be solved outside of SpaceX. All of the people working there knew that, and it motivated them tremendously.

So if I said that nobody should go to college, that might be hypocritical. But what I have said is that not everybody should do the same thing.

SETH GODIN

So the goal isn’t to get good ideas; the goal is to get bad ideas. Because once you get enough bad ideas, then some good ones have to show up.”

Seth has no comments on his blog, he doesn’t pay attention to analytics, and he doesn’t use Twitter or Facebook (except to rebroadcast his daily blog posts, which is automated). In a world of tool obsession and FOMO (fear of missing out) on the next social platform, Seth doesn’t appear to care. He simply focuses on putting out good and short daily posts, he ignores the rest, and he continues to thrive. There are no real rules, so make rules that work for you.

“I think we need to teach kids two things: 1) how to lead, and 2) how to solve interesting problems. Because the fact is, there are plenty of countries on Earth where there are people who are willing to be obedient and work harder for less money than us. So we cannot out-obedience the competition.

James recommends the habit of writing down 10 ideas each morning in a waiter’s pad or tiny notebook. This exercise is for developing your “idea muscle” and confidence for creativity on demand, so regular practice is more important than the topics:

“I [then] divide my paper into two columns. On one column is the list of ideas. On the other column is the list of FIRST STEPS.

  • 10 old ideas I can make new
  • 10 ridiculous things I would invent (e.g., the smart toilet)
  • 10 books I can write (The Choose Yourself Guide to an Alternative Education, etc).
  • 10 business ideas for Google/Amazon/Twitter/etc.
  • 10 people I can send ideas to
  • 10 podcast ideas or videos I can shoot (e.g., Lunch with James, a video podcast where I just have lunch with people over Skype and we chat)
  • 10 industries where I can remove the middleman
  • 10 things I disagree with that everyone else assumes is religion (college, home ownership, voting, doctors, etc.)
  • 10 ways to take old posts of mine and make books out of them
  • 10 people I want to be friends with (then figure out the first step to contact them)
  • 10 things I learned yesterday
  • 10 things I can do differently today
  • 10 ways I can save time
  • 10 things I learned from X, where X is someone I’ve recently spoken with or read a book by or about. I’ve written posts on this about the Beatles, Mick Jagger, Steve Jobs, Charles Bukowski, the Dalai Lama, Superman, Freakonomics, etc.
  • 10 things I’m interested in getting better at (and then 10 ways I can get better at each one)
  • 10 things I was interested in as a kid that might be fun to explore now (Like, maybe I can write that “Son of Dr. Strange” comic I’ve always been planning. And now I need 10 plot ideas.)
  • 10 ways I might try to solve a problem I have This has saved me with the IRS countless times. Unfortunately, the Department of Motor Vehicles is impervious to my superpowers.

SCOTT ADAMS

Everyone has at least a few areas in which they could be in the top 25% with some effort.

It could be as simple as learning how to sell more effectively than 75% of the world. That’s one. Now add to that whatever your passion is, and you have two, because that’s the thing you’ll easily put enough energy into to reach the top 25%. If you have an aptitude for a third skill, perhaps business or public speaking. develop that too.

You’d be hard-pressed to find any successful person who didn’t have about three skills in the top 25%.

SHAUN WHITE

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout, The Law of the Category. When you’re the first in a new category, promote the category.

ALEX BLUMBERG

Prompts to Elicit Stories (Most Interviewers Are Weak at This)

  • “Tell me about a time when …”
  • “Tell me about the day [or moment or time] when …”
  • “Tell me the story of … [how you came to major in X, how you met so-and-so, etc.]”
  • “Tell me about the day you realized ___ …”
  • “What were the steps that got you to ___ ?”
  • “Describe the conversation when …

Follow-Up Questions When Something Interesting Comes Up, Perhaps in Passing

  • “How did that make you feel?”
  • “What do you make of that?

ED CATMULL

IF YOU CAN’T READ IT, TRY LISTENING TO IT

“My brain works differently. It turns out I am unable to read poetry…. Reading poetry, within a few seconds, shuts my brain down.

So this woman at a dinner said: ‘Don’t read it, listen to it.’ I bought the tape and I listened to it, and I found I was completely enthralled.

TRACY DINUNZIO

‘When you complain, nobody wants to help you,’ and it’s the simplest thing and so plainly spoken. Only he could really say that brutal, honest truth, but it’s true, right? If you spend your time focusing on the things that are wrong, and that’s what you express and project to people you know, you don’t become a source of growth for people, you become a source of destruction for people. That draws more destructiveness.

Book your A list for after your first 10 pitches.

PHIL LIBIN

And Bezos looks at me and goes, ‘Mars is stupid.’ And I say, ‘What?’ He says, ‘Once we get off of the planet, the last thing we want to do is go to another gravity.’ “Bezos said, ‘The whole point, the reason this is so hard to get off the earth, is to defeat gravity the first time. Once we do that, why would you want to go to Mars? We should just live on space stations and mine asteroids and everything is much better than being on Mars.

“Every single thing in your company breaks every time you roughly triple in size.”

“His hypothesis is that everything breaks at roughly these points of 3 and 10 [multiples of 3 and powers of 10]. And by ‘everything,’ it means everything: how you handle payroll, how you schedule meetings, what kind of communications you use, how you do budgeting, who actually makes decisions. Every implicit and explicit part of the company just changes significantly when it triples.

CHRIS YOUNG

His dad, a very successful entrepreneur, gave Chris advice when he was a freshman or sophomore in high school: “I distinctly remember him saying not to worry about what I was going to do because the job I was going to do hadn’t even been invented yet…. The interesting jobs are the ones that you make up

Don’t worry about what your job is going to be…. Do things that you’re interested in, and if you do them really well, you’re going to find a way to temper them with some good business opportunity.

One of the top 10 venture capitalists I know uses a variant of this litmus test as his measurement of “disruptive”: For each $1 of revenue you generate, can you cost an incumbent $5 to $10? If so, he’ll invest.

one of my favorite business-related PDFs floating around the Internet is “Valve: Handbook for New Employees

DAYMOND JOHN

“If you go out there and start making noise and making sales, people will find you. Sales cure all. You can talk about how great your business plan is and how well you are going to do. You can make up your own opinions, but you cannot make up your own facts. Sales cure all.

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World.

That last Genghis Khan book has been recommended to me by several billionaires.

NOAH KAGAN

The book Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! by Richard P. Feynman: “If you ever meet me in person, I have an extra copy because it’s just that amazing.

LUIS VON AHN

‘I don’t understand what you’re saying,’ and then I would try to find another way of saying it, and a whole hour would pass and I could not get past the first sentence.

This is basically just an act. Essentially, I was being unclear about what I was saying, and I did not fully understand what I was trying to explain to him. He was just drilling deeper and deeper and deeper until I realized, every time, that there was actually something I didn’t have clear in my mind. He really taught me to think deeply about things, and I think that’s something I have not forgotten.

Try experimenting with saying “I don’t understand. Can you explain that to me?” more often.

THE CANVAS STRATEGY

“Great men have almost always shown themselves as ready to obey as they afterwards proved able to command.” —Lord Mahon

Imagine if for every person you met, you thought of some way to help them, something you could do for them? And you looked at it in a way that entirely benefited them and not you? The cumulative effect this would have over time would be profound: You’d learn a great deal by solving diverse problems. You’d develop a reputation for being indispensable. You’d have countless new relationships. You’d have an enormous bank of favors to call upon down the road.

That’s what the canvas strategy is about—helping yourself by helping others. Making a concerted effort to trade your short-term gratification for a longer-term payoff. Whereas everyone else wants to get credit and be “respected,” you can forget credit. You can forget it so hard that you’re glad when others get it instead of you—that was your aim, after all. Let the others take their credit on credit, while you defer and earn interest on the principal.

  • Maybe it’s coming up with ideas to hand over to your boss.
  • Find people, thinkers, up-and-comers to introduce to each other. Cross wires to create new sparks.
  • Find what nobody else wants to do and do it.
  • Find inefficiencies and waste and redundancies. Identify leaks and patches to free up resources for new areas.
  • Produce more than everyone else and give your ideas away.

SCOTT BELSKY

What do you believe that others think is insane? “It is essential to get lost and jam up your plans every now and then. It’s a source of creativity and perspective. The danger of maps, capable assistants, and planning is that you may end up living your life as planned. If you do, your potential cannot possibly exceed your expectations.

How has a “failure” set you up for later success? “The hardest decisions to make in business are those that disappoint people you care about.

“From this experience I learned what legendary writers call ‘killing your darlings’—the plot points and characters that detract from a novel. Sometimes you need to stop doing things you love in order to nurture the one thing that matters most.”

“… young creative minds don’t need more ideas, they need to take more responsibility with the ideas they’ve already got.”

PETER DIAMANDIS

“THE BEST WAY TO BECOME A BILLIONAIRE IS TO HELP A BILLION PEOPLE.”

‘When you go after a moonshot—something that’s 10 times bigger, not 10% bigger—a number of things happen….’ “First of all, when you’re going 10% bigger, you’re competing against everybody. Everybody’s trying to go 10% bigger. When you’re trying to go 10 times bigger, you’re there by yourself.

when you are trying to go 10 times bigger, you have to start with a clean sheet of paper, and you approach the problem completely differently. I’ll give you my favorite example: Tesla. How did Elon start Tesla and build from scratch the safest, most extraordinary car, not even in America, but I think in the world? It’s by not having a legacy from the past to drag into the present. That’s important.

“Three to five billion new consumers are coming online in the next 6 years. Holy cow, that’s extraordinary. What do they need? What could you provide for them, because they represent tens of trillions of dollars coming into the global economy, and they also represent an amazing resource of innovation.

PETER’S LAWS

Peter has a set of rules that guide his life.

His 28 Peter’s Laws have been collected over decades.

Here are some of my favorites:

  • Law 2: When given a choice … take both.
  • Law 3: Multiple projects lead to multiple successes.
  • Law 6: When forced to compromise, ask for more.
  • Law 7: If you can’t win, change the rules.
  • Law 8: If you can’t change the rules, then ignore them.
  • Law 11: “No” simply means begin again at one level higher.
  • Law 13: When in doubt: THINK.
  • Law 16: The faster you move, the slower time passes, the longer you live.
  • Law 17: The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself. (adopted from Alan Kay)
  • Law 19: You get what you incentivize.
  • Law 22: The day before something is a breakthrough, it’s a crazy idea.
  • Law 26: If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.

Money can always be regenerated. Time and reputation cannot.

GET THE LONG-TERM GOAL ON THE CALENDAR BEFORE THE SHORT-TERM PAIN HITS

Make commitments in a high-energy state so that you can’t back out when you’re in a low-energy state.

The Oxford Book of Aphorisms by John Gross because it contains the most brilliant one-liners in history.

Favorite documentaries

  • Catfish—“It’s a cliché, but it’s a brilliant, generation-defining documentary.”
  • To Be and to Have—“This is a beautiful and simple film about a one-room school in France, and what happens over the course of one year.”
  • The Overnighters—“This covers oil exploration in North Dakota, which has become perhaps bigger than the Gold Rush in the 1800s

The Road to No

  • If I’m not saying “HELL YEAH!” about something, then I say no. Meaning: When deciding whether to commit to something, if I feel anything less than “Wow! That would be amazing! Absolutely! Hell yeah!”—then my answer is no.
  • My agenda became a list of everyone else’s agendas.
  • great creative work isn’t possible if you’re trying to piece together 30 minutes here and 45 minutes there. Large, uninterrupted blocks of time—3 to 5 hours
  • Life favors the specific ask and punishes the vague wish.
  • If I sleep poorly and have an early morning meeting, I’ll cancel the meeting
  • Making health #1 50% of the time doesn’t work. It’s absolutely all-or-nothing.

Are You Having a Breakdown or a Breakthrough? A Short How-To Guide

  • If you’re suffering from a feeling of overwhelm, it might be useful to ask yourself two questions: In the midst of overwhelm, is life not showing me exactly what I should subtract? Am I having a breakdown or a breakthrough?
  • For me, step one is always the same: Write down the 20% of activities and people causing 80% or more of your negative emotions. My step two is doing a “fear-setting” exercise on paper (here), in which I ask and answer, “What is really the worst that could happen if I stopped doing what I’m considering? And so what? How could I undo any damage?

To “fix” someone’s problem, you very often just need to empathically listen to them.

Part 3: WISE

MARIA POPOVA

SOMETIMES, THE BEST “NO” IS NO REPLY

“Why put in the effort to explain why it isn’t a fit, if they haven’t done the homework to determine if it is a fit?” Maria could spend all day replying to bad pitches with polite declines.

‘Those who work much, do not work hard.

“When Kurt Vonnegut wrote ‘Write to please just one person,’ what he was really saying was write for yourself. Don’t try to please anyone but yourself…. The second you start doing it for an audience, you’ve lost the long game because creating something that is rewarding and sustainable over the long run requires, most of all, keeping yourself excited about it

Book recommendations:

  • “The Shortness of Life: Seneca on Busyness and the Art of Living Wide Rather Than Living Long”
  • “How to Find Your Purpose and Do What You Love”
  • “9 Learnings from 9 Years of Brain Pickings”
  • Anything about Alan Watts: “Alan Watts has changed my life. I’ve written about him quite a bit.

JOCKO WILLINK

Freeform days might seem idyllic, but they are paralyzing due to continual paradox of choice (e.g., “What should I do now?”) and decision fatigue (e.g., “What should I have for breakfast?

“You can’t blame your boss for not giving you the support you need. Plenty of people will say, ‘It’s my boss’s fault.’ No, it’s actually your fault because you haven’t educated him, you haven’t influenced him, you haven’t explained to him in a manner he understands why you need this support that you need. That’s extreme ownership. Own it all.

MARC GOODMAN

Book recommendation: Kevin Kelly, The Inevitable

SHAY CARL

HOW SHAY CURRENTLY SHOOTS VIDEO

Canon PowerShot G7 X camera

It’s about the relationship you build, not the production quality. The effects of “acting” more upbeat seemed to last at least 2 to 3 hours.

KEVIN KELLY

Cooking everything using a Kelly Kettle. This is a camping device that can generate heat from nearly anything found in your backyard or on a roadside (e.g., twigs, leaves, paper)

Fasting, consuming nothing but water.

Oddly, you might observe that you are happier after this experiment in bare-bones simplicity. I often find this to be the case. Once you’ve realized—and it requires a monthly or quarterly reminder—how independent your well-being is from having an excess of money, it becomes easier to take “risks” and say “no” to things that seem too lucrative to pass up. There is more freedom to be gained from practicing poverty than chasing wealth. Suffer a little regularly and you often cease to suffer.

WHITNEY CUMMINGS

My trauma therapist said every time you meet someone, just in your head say, ‘I love you’ before you have a conversation with them, and that conversation is going to go a lot better.

“Happiness is wanting what you have.”

BRYAN CALLEN

“The difference between the people you admire and everybody else [is that the former are] the people who read.”

Book recommendation: The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin

ALAIN DE BOTTON

Favorite documentary The Up series.

Planshopping. That is, deferring committing to any one plan for an evening until you know what all your options are, and then picking the one that’s most likely to be fun/advance your career/have the most girls at it—in other words, treating people like menu options or products in a catalog.

When you’re not drinking, you can see drunkenness more clearly than those actually experiencing it.

I did make a conscious decision, a long time ago, to choose time over money, since you can always make more money. And I’ve always understood that the best investment of my limited time on earth is to spend it with people I love.

CAL FUSSMAN

Book recommendations:

  • Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude
  • The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe

PAULO COELHO

What are the most common mistakes or weaknesses of first-time novelists? “Keep it simple. Trust your reader. He or she has a lot of imagination. Don’t try to describe things. Give a hint, and they will fulfill this hint with their own imagination.

  • Write about a time when you realized you were mistaken.
  • Write about a lesson you learned the hard way.
  • Write about a time you were inappropriately dressed for the occasion.
  • Write about something you lost that you’ll never get back.
  • Write about a time when you knew you’d done the right thing.
  • Write about something you don’t remember.
  • Write about your darkest teacher.
  • Write about a memory of a physical injury.
  • Write about when you knew it was over.
  • Write about being loved.
  • Write about what you were really thinking.
  • Write about how you found your way back.
  • Write about the kindness of strangers.
  • Write about why you could not do it.
  • Write about why you did.

AMANDA PALMER

Book recommendation: Dropping Ashes on the Buddha. It’s by Zen Master Seung Sahn.

ERIC WEINSTEIN

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect.”—Mark Twain.

SETH ROGEN & EVAN GOLDBERG

8 TACTICS FOR DEALING WITH HATERS

  1. It doesn’t matter how many people don’t get it. What matters is how many people do.
  2. 10% of people will find a way to take anything personally. Expect it and treat it as math.
  3. When in doubt, starve it of oxygen.
  4. If you respond, don’t over-apologize. Some version of “I see you” will diffuse at least 80% of people who appear to be haters or would-be haters.
  5. You can’t reason someone out of something they didn’t reason themselves into.
  6. “Trying to get everyone to like you is a sign of mediocrity. You’ll avoid the tough decisions, and you’ll avoid confronting the people who need to be confronted.”—Colin Powell
  7. “If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid.”—Epictetus
  8. “Living well is the best revenge.”—George Herbert

NAVAL RAVIKANT

“Desire is a contract you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want.

“Free education is abundant, all over the Internet. It’s the desire to learn that’s scarce.

“You get paid for being right first, and to be first, you can’t wait for consensus.

GLENN BECK

People are starving for something authentic. They’ll accept you, warts and all, if that’s who you really are.

TARA BRACH

Radical Acceptance

…actively recognizing anger and other types of what we consider “negative” emotions. Rather than trying to suppress something or swat it away, we say to the emotion/ourselves, “I see you.” This counterintuitively helps to dissolve or resolve the issue.

MIKE BIRBIGLIA

…whenever we meet someone who we know doesn’t care about meeting us, my wife and I always try and come up with a trick question that throws them off. They kind of have to answer, or have to think about it.

THE JAR OF AWESOME

Anytime something really cool happens in a day, something that made me excited or joyful, doctor’s orders are to write it down on a slip of paper and put it in this mason jar. When something great happens, you think you’ll remember it 3 months later, but you won’t. The Jar of Awesome creates a record of great things that actually happened, all of which are easy to forget if you’re depressed or seeing the world through gray-colored glasses. I tend to celebrate very briefly, if at all, so this pays dividends for weeks, months, or years.

STEPHEN J. DUBNER

What’s the worst advice you hear often? “‘Write what you know.’ Why would I want to write about what little I know? Don’t I want to use writing to learn more?

JOSH WAITZKIN

Josh has no social media, does no interviews (except my podcast, for which he often says to me, “You fuck!”), and avoids nearly all meetings and phone calls. He minimizes input to maximize output, much like Rick Rubin. Josh says: “I cultivate empty space as a way of life for the creative process.

…when Josh gave me a beginner’s tutorial on chess, he didn’t start with opening moves. Memorizing openings is natural, and nearly everyone does it, but Josh likens it to stealing the test answers from a teacher. You’re not learning principles or strategies—you’re merely learning a few tricks that will help you beat your novice friends. Instead, Josh took me in reverse, just as his first teacher, Bruce Pandolfini, did with him. The board was empty, except for three pieces in an endgame scenario: king and pawn against king. Through the micro, positions of reduced complexity, he was able to focus me on the macro: principles like the power of empty space, opposition, and setting an opponent up for zugzwang (a situation where any move he makes will destroy his position). By limiting me to a few simple pieces, he hoped I would learn something limitless: high-level concepts I could apply anytime against anyone.

Whereas most competitors are secretive about their competition prep, Marcelo routinely records and uploads his sparring sessions, his exact training for major events. Josh explains the rationale: “[Marcelo] was visually showing these competitors what he was about to use against them at 2 weeks, 3 weeks, 4 weeks [away from competition], and his attitude about this was just completely unique: ‘If you’re studying my game, you’re entering my game, and I’ll be better at it than you.’” TF: I often share exact under-the-hood details of how I’ve built the podcast, put together Kickstarter campaigns, etc. I do this because of two core beliefs.

Belief #1—It’s rarely a zero-sum game (if someone wins, someone else must lose), and the more I help people with details, the more detailed help I receive.

Belief #2—If it is competitive, I’m simply offering people the details of my game. My attention to detail will scare off half of the people who would have tried; 40% will try it and be worse than me; 10% will try it and be better than me, but … see Belief #1. That 10% will often reach out to teach me what they’ve learned, as they’re grateful for my own transparency.

“One of the biggest mistakes that I observed in the first year of Jack’s life was parents who have unproductive language around weather being good or bad. Whenever it was raining, you’d hear moms, babysitters, dads say, ‘It’s bad weather. We can’t go out,’ or if it wasn’t, ‘It’s good weather. We can go out.’ That means that, somehow, we’re externally reliant on conditions being perfect in order to be able to go out and have a good time. So, Jack and I never missed a single storm, rain or snow, to go outside and romp in it. Maybe we missed one when he was sick. We’ve developed this language around how beautiful it is. Now, whenever it’s a rainy day, Jack says, ‘Look, Dada, it’s such a beautiful rainy day,’ and we go out and we play in it. I wanted him to have this internal locus of control—to not be reliant on external conditions being just so.”

JON FAVREAU

  1. To get huge, good things done, you need to be okay with letting the small, bad things happen.
  2. People’s IQs seem to double as soon as you give them responsibility and indicate that you trust them.

Most media rightly don’t give a rat’s ass about book launches. They care about stories, not announcements,

JAMIE FOXX

It’s never been easier to be a “creator,” and it’s never been harder to stand out. Good isn’t good enough.

BRYAN JOHNSON

“What can you do that will be remembered in 200 to 400 years?

BRIAN KOPPELMAN

“Is that a dream or a goal?” If it isn’t on the calendar, it isn’t real.

ROBERT RODRIGUEZ

Robert takes copious notes. He sets an alarm for midnight every night to input the day’s notes into a Word document. He dates everything and stores them by year, so he can find whatever he might want later:

I would go back and review the journals and realize how many life-changing things happened within a weekend. Things that you thought were spread out over 2 years were actually Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and that Monday. So many occurrences happened in chunks that could blow you away, things that kind of define you…. “For anyone who is a parent, it’s a must. It’s a must because your children—and you—forget everything. Within a few years, they’ll forget things that you think they should remember for the rest of their lives. They’ll only remember it if it’s reinforced.

MY RAPID-FIRE QUESTIONS

  • When you think of the word “successful,” who’s the first person who comes to mind and why?
  • What is something you believe that other people think is insane?
  • What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift?
  • What is your favorite documentary or movie?
  • What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last 6 months?
  • What are your morning rituals? What do the first 60 minutes of your day look like?
  • What obsessions do you explore on the evenings or weekends?
  • What topic would you speak about if you were asked to give a TED talk on something outside of your main area of expertise?
  • What is the best or most worthwhile investment you’ve made? Could be an investment of money, time, energy, or other resource. How did you decide to make the investment?
  • Do you have a quote you live your life by or think of often?
  • What is the worst advice you see or hear being dispensed in your world?
  • If you could have one gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it, what would it say?
  • What advice would you give to your 20-, 25-, or 30-year-old self? And please place where you were at the time, and what you were doing.
  • How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Or, do you have a favorite failure of yours?
  • What is something really weird or unsettling that happens to you on a regular basis?
  • What have you changed your mind about in the last few years? Why?
  • What do you believe is true, even though you can’t prove it?
  • Any ask or request for my audience? Last parting words?

THE MOST-GIFTED AND RECOMMENDED BOOKS OF ALL GUESTS

  • Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu (5 mentions)
  • Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (4)
  • Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari (4)
  • Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse (4)
  • The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss (4)
  • The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande (4)
  • Dune by Frank Herbert (3)
  • Influence by Robert Cialdini (3)
  • Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert (3)
  • Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom (3)
  • Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! by Richard P. Feynman (3)
  • The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferriss (3)
  • The Bible (3)
  • The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz (3)
  • The War of Art by Steven Pressfield (3)
  • Watchmen by Alan Moore (3)
  • Zero to One by Peter Thiel with Blake Masters (3)

Your Thoughts?

Have you read this book? What were your favourite parts? Are you going to read it thanks to this summary? Have your say in the comments below.

10 Techniques To Improve Your Ability To Remember Peoples Names

Source: https://xkcd.com/302/

I’m envious of people with photographic memories. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to remember peoples names effortlessly!

But it doesn’t come naturally to me.

However, I do have a reputation for remembering peoples names.

What you don’t know is how hard I work at it.

Why do I work so hard?

2 reasons.

  1. First, because it’s so important! A persons name is the “sweetest sound in the world to them, in any language” (Dale Carnegie).
  2. Second, because I like people remembering my name. And the first step to achieve that is to remember their name first.

Over the years I’ve picked up a range of techniques from a number of books, articles, conversations that I’ve used to improve my ability to remember names.

That’s what I’m sharing with you today.

What you need to do is find a combination of a handful of techniques that suit you in particular.

The combination I use might be different to the combination you use because our brains are wired a little differently.

But first, here are 3 rules you need to agree to:

3 Rules That Will Make You Better At Remembering Peoples Names

Rule #1: Stop telling people that you are bad at remembering names

Is this something you do?

Eliminating this negative self-talk is the first step.

Everytime you say the sentence “I’m so bad at remembering names” to yourself, or out loud as an apology, you are reinforcing that perception of yourself and preventing yourself from improving.

That ends today.

I want you to promise me you won’t say that sentence again.

Read this out loud:

“I will not tell people, or myself, that I’m bad at remembering names again”.

Good.

From now on use this sentence instead: “I’m getting better at remembering peoples names”.

After a few days of using this technique and the ones below, you can then switch to this sentence:

“I am good at remembering people’s names”.

Done? Good.

Rule #2: Decide to make an effort to remember peoples names

Let’s be honest, you’ve been a bit lazy until now.

You’ve blamed your “bad memory” and haven’t really applied yourself, have you?

That changes today too.

Make this commitment with me:

From now on, just before you walk into a room of new people you are about to meet, say this to yourself:

“I will make my best effort to remember names of the people I meet”.

Done? Good.

Rule #3: Concentrate

If you are distracted or if you aren’t paying attention, you won’t register the person’s name so you that will make it hard to remember.

Concentrate on paying attention to the person’s name when you first hear it.

Say this with me:

“I’m going to concentrate because remembering people’s names is important and valuable”

Done? Good.

Next, here are the 10 ways to memorise a persons name.

10 Ways To Memorise A Persons Name

(Hint: Repetition is a key part).

You’ve just walked into a room.

There is someone you haven’t met before. Yay!

You walk up to them and hold out your hand.

You say “Hi, I’m your_name, what’s your name?”

Here are 10 ways to burn their name into your memory:

#1. Ask them to repeat their name immediately

  • They say “John.”
  • You say “John?”
  • They nod and say “John, yes.”
  • You say “John!”
  • They say “Yes!”

#2. Ask them to spell their name if it’s tricky

  • Ask them to repeat it if it’s tricky, or in another language until you get the pronunciation perfect
  • They won’t mind, they like helping people get it right, they are proud that their name is unusual

#3. Use their name immediately with your first question

  • “So what’s your story John?” is how I start every conversation

#4. As they speak, repeat their name silently to yourself

  • Tag their name onto everything they are telling you (not out loud): “Is that right John?”, “Interesting John”, “You live in this city John”…

#5. Use their name occasionally in the conversation (without overdoing it)

  • Every time you do, their mind will light up like a Christmas tree (one day I’ll hire an MRI scanner and prove it to you)
  • You become very important to them because they feel important and valuable
  • They become determined to remember your name and they value you too

#6. If you suddenly forget their name half-way through the conversation speak up immediately

  • Sure, it’s a little bit embarrassing, but it’s perfectly fine to ask
  • “I’m sorry, your name has just popped out of my head, what is it again?”

#7. If you forget their name again, then ask for their full-name

  • That’s a sneaky way to ask them without looking forgetful
  • This way, you are asking for their surname, but you get to hear their first name as a bonus. I use this trick all the time 🙂

#8. Do you want to keep in contact with them?

  • Awww you made a new friend, I’m so proud of you!
  • If you’ve forgotten their name again, ask them to type their details into your phone (another trick!)
  • If you do remember, input their contact details into your phone yourself
  • Next, send them a text message with your name in it
  • That gives you a timestamp so if you forget their name later, you can look through your txt’s for that day and see their name
  • If you don’t save their contact details into your phone, at least write down their name into the notes app on your phone or into your notebook

#9. Use their name as you say goodbye

  • “Great to meet you John!”

#10. When you get back to your desk, connect with them on LinkedIn and Facebook

  • Searching for them gets you to use their name again and seeing their profile photo associates their name with their face

Beware Of Asking For Their Business Card As A Shortcut

Human brains are lazy.

Did you know your brain uses 20% of your bodies energy?

Your brain is always looking for ways to conserve energy.

  • With a business card your brain will not work so hard to remember their name
  • Your brain will say to you “don’t worry about it, we can just look at the card later!”
  • But at that moment in the future when you need the card, it will be miles away in a drawer

Avoid the most common mistake: Don’t give out your business card without taking one back

  • If you make this mistake they will have your contact details in their pocket but you’ll have nothing!
  • Most often they won’t take any action with the card so you won’t hear from them again and you’ve lost your chance to keep in touch

Having said that, taking their business card can be useful because if you are about to bump into them at the same venue later, you can fish it out of your pocket and remind yourself of their name.

What About Meeting People One-After-Another In Rapid-Fire?

The good news is that expectations are much lower, no-one expects you to remember their name if they are just one of many people that you are meeting at once.

You might get a chance to meet several of them one-on-one later on, so in those cases you can just start the process above as normal.

A sit down meeting is easier. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Once you’ve met everyone, take your seat and write down as many of the names as you can remember
  2. During the meeting, people often use each others names, so write down the news ones as you hear them
  3. If you’re lucky, the meeting starts with introductions, so that’s your chance to write everybodies name down
  4. I often draw the shape of the table and write the name of everyone in order from left to right
  5. As each person talks during the meeting, say their name to yourself like in tip #4 above

If I’m running the meeting I like to amaze everyone (and challenge myself) by saying thank you to everyone at the meeting from left to right saying everyone’s name (only possible because I’ve been working so hard on their names the whole way through the meeting).

I might pause on 1 person but they always come to the rescue by saying their name, but it’s pretty impressive and no-one at the meeting can forget my name after that stunt (which is 1 of my objectives in the first place).

A Technique That Has Never Worked For Me: Name Association

That’s when you look at their face and think about who they remind you of, like a famous actor, and you try and match their name with the famous actor somehow. Or they might have arched eyebrows and their name is Archie so you mash those together in your head.

I’ve tried this technique a few times but it doesn’t work for me.

It uses too much processing power when I’m trying to listen to what they are saying to me, and the associations just don’t seem to stick for me.

Your Thoughts?

How did you find this list? Useful? Any tips missing that you use? Have your say in the comments section below.

Surely You’re Joking Mr Feynman: Adventures of a Curious Character by Richard P. Feynman

I absolutely loved this book.

I had a smile on my face the whole time I was reading it.

My Feynman was so full of mischief and curiosity about the world.

He saw the world as a series of puzzles and he felt driven to solving them.

When he became curious about something or wanted to learn about something, or how to do something, he dove straight in and became an expert via experimentation.

This book was recommended several times inside a collection of interview transcripts with many of the worlds greatest minds. It just kept popping up again and again.

It’s not normally a book I would choose. It’s a collection of reminiscences by the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman who was born in 1918 and died in 1988.

I found this list of about 200 Feynman stories in the book useful for finding my 11 favourites.

My 11 favourite Feynman stories

From “Surely You’re Joking Mr Feynman: Adventures of a Curious Character” by Richard P. Feynman:

  1. Science Lab: He built a science lab at home (11 years old) to work out how electricity and radios worked
  2. Safe-Cracking: He enjoyed safe-cracking. He loved to open the locked filing cabinets full of nuclear bomb secrets
  3. Japan: In preparation for a trip to Japan he was advised to learn some Japanese by the tour leader, which he did, but the tour leader didn’t even bother. He refused to stay in a Western Hotel because he wanted an authentic Japanese experience
  4. Samba: He learnt how to play samba drums and became good enough to perform in a street parade
  5. Drawing: He learned how to draw portraits by taking classes and even sold a few pieces
  6. Brazilian University: He was a guest lecturer in Brazil and discovered that everyone was learning physics by rote instead of truly understanding. If they wanted to develop leading physics scientists, this was not the right path, and he told the university such during his final speed. He was taken seriously. He doubted his own conclusion because he did find 2 gifted students, but during his speech, both of these students revealed that they were from other countries
  7. Text Books: He was asked to review dozens of text books for high schools and read them all in detail (unlike any of the others on the review panel) and supported his approvals/disapproval’s with his detailed notes
  8. Ants: He spent hours and hours studying how ants leave trails and experimenting with how to move them around on bridges of paper without them noticing
  9. Understanding: He became quite famous for explaining complex theories (and anything really) because of how deeply he understood them himself, and his method of coming up with examples in his head of how things worked
  10. Smell: Discovered that human smell can be almost as good as a bloodhound’s by sniffing books and bottles that were recently handled
  11. Atomic Bomb: Played a role in building the first atomic bomb

And here are just 4 passages I highlighted:

Page: 120
“The trouble with playing a trick on a highly intelligent man like Mr. Teller is that the time it takes him to figure out from the moment that he sees there is something wrong till he understands exactly what happened is too damn small to give you any pleasure!”

Page: 295
“This question of trying to figure out whether a book is good or bad by looking at it carefully or by taking the reports of a lot of people who looked at it carelessly is like this famous old problem: Nobody was permitted to see the Emperor of China, and the question was, What is the length of the Emperor of China’s nose? To find out, you go all over the country asking people what they think the length of the Emperor of China’s nose is, and you average it. And that would be very “accurate” because you averaged so many people. But it’s no way to find anything out; when you have a very wide range of people who contribute without looking carefully at it, you don’t improve your knowledge of the situation by averaging.”

Page: 298
I couldn’t claim that I was smarter than sixty-five other guys—but the average of sixty-five other guys, certainly!

Page: 310
“Oh. Well, nobody knows anything about that, so I guess we can’t talk about it.” “On the contrary,” I answered. “It’s because somebody knows something about it that we can’t talk about physics. It’s the things that nobody knows anything about that we can discuss. We can talk about the weather; we can talk about social problems; we can talk about psychology; we can talk about international finance—gold transfers we can’t talk about, because those are understood—so it’s the subject that nobody knows anything about that we can all talk about!”

If you have an interest in science at all, or you are curious by nature, I think you’ll enjoy this book.

Find it on Amazon: “Surely You’re Joking Mr Feynman: Adventures of a Curious Character

 

3 Businesses Shrunk To The Size Of A Shipping Container

The bigger the footprint of your business, the more you have to pay for rent/lease, right?

What if you could downsize your business to the size of a shipping container?

In the last 3 days I’ve come across 3 businesses that have done just that.

#1: A drum school in the back of a small truck

I had just dropped my boys off at their primary school and came across a small truck in the staff parking lot.

I peeked inside and met Phil Upton.

Phil teaches school kids the drums out of his truck which is set up with 3 electric drum kits.

He can teach up to 3 students at a time.

He serves schools throughout Tauranga for weekly lessons.

He bought the business off the previous owner, rebranded, got the truck signwritten, did some promotion, and tripled his business in a few months.

The kids love it because they get out of class sometimes to practice.

The parents love it because they don’t have to drive their kids anywhere outside of school hours.

And Phil loves it because he’s doing what he does best – teaching kids how to play.

Everybody wins.

#2. A e-bike hire business in a shipping container

I was in Wellington for the weekend and found a notice on the board at the YHA that offered e-bike hire down at Shed One beside the water.

Switched On Bikes was easy to find and the price was excellent, just $20 for an hour.

They told me “Take as long as you like, if you are over an hour we’ll just work something out when you get back”.

I was another hour over time and he said “$10?” and I said “Yes!”.

I zipped up Mount Victoria easily (I left the e-bike power at max).

The photo isn’t very flattering, but what I thought was remarkable is that their whole business packs down into their shipping container.

The bikes hang up on hooks when packed away, and every morning they unpack the container to set up their sales desk, workshop and a rack of supplies, and line up their rental bikes and bikes for sale outside.

They love it because their rent is cheap and their location is great.

Renters like me love it because their location is easy to get to, and their prices are cheap.

Everybody wins.

#3. A restaurant run from a truck

What if you could run a restaurant from a truck?

Of course, you know I’m talking about food trucks.

I love food trucks for 4 reasons:

  1. They are delicious and gourmet
    • You just can’t get their food anywhere else
    • You know their food is amazing and unique because the un-tasty, un-original ones go out of business quick because word gets around
  2. They are great value for money
    • They are not “cheap” but they are certainly cheaper than a restaurant or cafe
    • They do save money not paying for a building, but they only make their money in short bursts a few times a week when they have a crowd of people
  3. They are mobile
    • You might see your favourites at the next event you go to, or a new food truck to try
  4. They are fun! They often have:
    • A really fun attitude
    • Excellent service
    • Bold colours and designs in their signage
    • Creative names of their dishes
    • It’s even fun queuing up for one because they have such a buzz about them

(I love them so much I actually created a website about them and now have 140 NZ food trucks in my list.)

A local example is Tia’s Tacos is run by Erica Morales-Neville here in Tauranga. Her food is delicious, her branding is cool, and her prices are great.

Erica loves it because she has the lifestyle she wants.

We love it because we get to eat her delicious food for cheap.

Everybody wins.

Your Thoughts?

Could you shrink your business to the size of a shipping container?

Could it fit in the back of a truck?

The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future by Kevin Kelly

Such a great book!

I enjoyed this book for 3 reasons:

  1. Lists are awesome
    • And in this book, Kevin Kelly made a lot. I’ve included my favourites below
  2. Stories about the future are awesome
    • 2 or 3 times in this book, Kevin Kelly would paint this picture of a typical day-in-his-life set in the future. What happened on that day seems amazing, but realistic. They were a bit too long to include in my notes, so you’ll have to read the book yourself
  3. I’m excited about robots taking our jobs!
    • Some people are not. Some people are scared of their jobs being taken by robots. Not just mechanical jobs, but jobs that until only recently, we thought were safe from robots: doctors and lawyers and accountants for example

But you don’t have to be afraid. All you need to do is remember that technology is additive. Email hasn’t replaced the postal service. Internet news hasn’t replaced physical newspapers. Digital hasn’t replaced paper.

Those industries have changed and adapted but they haven’t gone.

It’s the same with robots and artificial intelligence. They can augment and supplement our experience, our work, our contribution, our lives. Not replace.

If you read nothing else from my summary, just read the “Here are the Seven Stages of Robot Replacement“.

Anyway, as always, I urge you to get your own copy because my favourite parts may be different to your own.

In the meantime, here are my notes on “The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future” by Kevin Kelly. Continue reading “The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future by Kevin Kelly”

What If You Could Write Faster, Read Faster, Listen Faster, Watch Faster, and Think Faster?

Please don’t abuse the knowledge I’m about to bestow on you.

I don’t want to increase your stress levels.

I don’t want you to cram more in to your life just because you can.

Sometimes it’s important to slow down instead of speed up.

  • Slow down when you are spending time with your family.
  • Slow down when you’re enjoying a sunset or a sunrise.
  • Slow down when you are making an important decision, or pondering the meaning of life.

That said, the benefits of doing things faster are many.

For me, I’ve found that doing things faster is a real time saver.

  • I can put more of the things I enjoy into every day.
  • I can get the boring but necessary bits out of the way faster.
  • I can work through my to-do list faster to make more time for breaks and fun.

So here’s my list of 5 ways to do things faster. Continue reading “What If You Could Write Faster, Read Faster, Listen Faster, Watch Faster, and Think Faster?”

9 Ways To Increase Your Volume Of New Business Enquiries

1. Take a fresh look at what you say

  • Review (and improve) what you say about your business and your services
  • On The Phone:
    • Who answers the phone?
    • What do they say?
    • How are calls transferred?
    • How are messages recorded?
    • What’s the hold music?
    • How could the menu options be improved?
  • In Person:
    • How do you record interactions with prospects and clients?
    • What do you and your team wear?
    • How do you follow up?
    • What action do you ask them to take next?
    • How does your team answer the question “what do you do?”
  • On Your Website
  • In Advertising
    • What is the secret sauce of your business?
    • Why does it exist?
    • Why is it important?
    • Do you lead with your logo, or a headline that states the benefits of your service?

Continue reading “9 Ways To Increase Your Volume Of New Business Enquiries”

Life Reimagined: The Science, Art, and Opportunity of Midlife by Barbara Bradley Hagerty

“Maybe you’re having a mid-life crisis?” my wife said to me one day. “Yes, I think you’re right” I replied.

In a very short time my life had started to spin down the plug hole.

  • I had just turned 40
  • I had missed out on a change of career
  • I lost several major clients, income had dried up
  • I moved from the city to a home office to save money
  • I became increasingly isolated from friends and work colleagues
  • I had stopped exercising
  • I lost energy, I woke up later, and still felt tired, felt exhausted in the afternooon, and fell into bed at night
  • I found little pleasure in activities I used to enjoy

On the verge of seeking professional help and medication, I searched Amazon for a book to help me.
Continue reading “Life Reimagined: The Science, Art, and Opportunity of Midlife by Barbara Bradley Hagerty”

How the isolation of a 3 day storm spured me to truly connect with the city I love: Tauranga

When I ran for Tauranga City Council in 2016, I was invited to talk to several groups about how I had managed to lead a team of 24 volunteers to deliver TEDxTauranga to an audience of 1010 people.

That story began with an epiphany I had during a 3 day storm several years previous.

During that storm I was connected to the whole world through various technologies. But without face-to-face contact I felt isolated and alone.

I emerged from that storm with a list of 4 events to connect people together.

I knew this is what Tauranga (and I) needed.

After a brief period of waiting for them to happen, I realised that someone had to stand up and get started.

And that someone was me.

Here’s the 23 minute version of my story recorded at a breakfast event for 40 people in Sep 2016:

If you are desperately short on time today, here’s the 5 minute version which I told during the 2015 Priority One AGM:

 

Look Who’s Back Beyond The Orange Door At 64 Devonport Rd, Tauranga

I’m back in town! Once again you can find my office beyond the orange door at 64 Devonport Rd, Tauranga.

Up the stairs and turn right into the co-working space called 64Bit run by Sam Kidd and Phil Waylen.

For the last 5 months I’ve been working from home and, although cheap, was distracting, isolating, unmotivating and noisy (especially at 3pm when the kids came home).

Plus, even though my wife Shantelle loved me making her lunch everyday, she wanted me out so she could have the space to herself. Fair enough.

Continue reading “Look Who’s Back Beyond The Orange Door At 64 Devonport Rd, Tauranga”

Email Marketing Essentials Workshop: Wed 15 March 2017 in Tauranga, NZ

Join me for my workshop entitled: “How to create emails that get opened, get read, and get acted on”.

  • When?: 8.30am to 10.00am Wednesday 15 Mar 2017
  • Where?: Tauranga Chamber of Commerce, Bay Central, 65 Chapel Street, Tauranga
  • Cost?: $25 for chamber members, or $35 for non-chamber members
  • Register

Email gives you the most direct way of communicating with your customers, and for converting prospects to sales … which is why the most savvy content marketers have no intention of giving it up any time soon.

It’s also amazingly cost-effective. With an ROI of around 3,800% (that’s $38 return for every $1 spent), email more than pays for itself. It’s what you use when you want to move from “conversation to commerce.”

Join me for this fast-paced 90 minute session which includes: Continue reading “Email Marketing Essentials Workshop: Wed 15 March 2017 in Tauranga, NZ”

Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is Shaping our Future by Ashlee Vance

This is one of the best business books I’ve ever read (and I’ve read a lot)!

There are 3 reasons why I liked it so much:

  1. It mashes together several interests of mine:
    • Technology
    • Entrepreneuriship/start-up companies
    • The future of our planet
    • Electric cars, autonomous vehicles, and the future of transportation
    • Solar power
    • and space travel
  2. It is superbly written
    • (by Ashlee Vance, a business columnist who has written for many major publications)
    • Vance steps back and forth between present day and the past with flashbacks that bring real depth and understanding of Elon Musk’s story, his background, his motivations and his relentless drive
  3. It fills me with hope
    • It’s the same reason I love TED videos too, because they fill me with hope about the future of the human race
    • Musk has found a way to make things the planet needs (electric cars powered with solar power as an alternative to burning fosil fuels, a plan for colonising another planet incase we screw this one up), and making billions of dollars in the process that he feeds into his next idea
    • That a person can have several epic ideas as a kid and see them come real in his own lifetime thanks to his own hard work (I hope my kids have the same experience)

Continue reading “Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is Shaping our Future by Ashlee Vance”

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt

It was only recently that I developed an an interest in politics. It was during my 2016 campaign in which I sought election onto the Tauranga City Council. I was not elected but that has not extinguished my new found fascination with politics, both local, national and international.

I came across a TED Talk in which Chris Anderson interviewed Jonathan Haidt on why Trump was elected into office. I found what he had to say very interesting and I sought out this book to find out more.

I loved the book. It really does do a great job at explaining why people vote the way they do.

One section that really stood out to me was in Chapter Four which talked about how being accountable to an audience increases “evenhanded consideration of alternative points of view”. I saw myself in this because I’ve found that having my audience on my mind when I read business books helps me concentrate, and again when I read through a large volume of council documents during my election campaign, I read them with an open mind because I intended to share my summaries of them with the public.

Another thing I’ll say about Haidt is that he writes amazing chapter summaries. Continue reading “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt”

Google Maps: 4 Ways To Increase Your New Business Enquiries From Google Maps

Does your business already appear on Google Maps?

If not, it’s easy to do. Here’s how to add your business to Google Maps.

If so, great start, but you’re not finished yet!

As a general rule, the more quality content you can provide Google with (in the form of text, images and videos), the more traffic Google will send you. More so if those platforms are also owned by Google (for example, Google loves to send Google searchers to Google+ instead of Facebook).

So here’s your 4 point checklist to ensure you’re making the most of your Google Maps listing: Continue reading “Google Maps: 4 Ways To Increase Your New Business Enquiries From Google Maps”

Three Cities: Seeking Hope in the Anthropocene by Rod Oram

rod-oram-three-cities“Orthodox is obsolete; conventional is kaput. We thought we knew how we make economics, politics, technology and nature work for us. But increasingly, they are failing to run by the rules and systems we’ve honed over recent decades. Boom-bust economies, fractured and destructive politics and a deeply degraded ecosystem are just some of the symptoms.”

“Pioneers around the world are seeking new values, systems and technologies. Thus equipped we might achieve the unprecedented, speed, scale and complexity of change we need to meet the immense challenges of the twenty-first century.”

“In this BWB Text acclaimed business journalist Rod Oram travels to Beijing, London and Chicago to meet some of these pioneers and report on their setbacks and progress. Because if 10 billion people are going to live well on this planet in 2050, we’re going to have to fundamentally change the way we do things.” Continue reading “Three Cities: Seeking Hope in the Anthropocene by Rod Oram”

The 5 Questions Your Website Has 60 Seconds To Answer

It’s likely that today you will get a few visitors to your website. Congratulations!

Did you know you have 60 seconds or less to deliver answers to their questions or they will wander off to your competitors?

Here are the top 5 questions your website visitors are wondering.

Does your website answer these 5 questions? How quickly? What improvements could you make?

5-questions-60-seconds-video-thumb

1. “What do you do?”

Your website has 5 seconds to answer this question.

Do you have a single sentence in a large font near the top of the page? Continue reading “The 5 Questions Your Website Has 60 Seconds To Answer”

Vanilla Essence or Vanilla Extract? Which One Has Actual Vanilla In It?

I found out the answer to this question last night at BayCourt Tauranga, from Jennifer Boggiss who is the CE of Heilala Vanilla. She told her story for an audience of about 200 of us.

jennifer-bogis-tonga
Jennifer Boggiss pictured on right with one of her Tongan-based team members

She spoke very well with just the right amount of humour and stories.

Here are my notes on what I learned from her talk.

Firstly, Heilala is the name of the national flower of Tonga. It is pronounced “hey-la-la”. Continue reading “Vanilla Essence or Vanilla Extract? Which One Has Actual Vanilla In It?”

Making Money Online Failure #1: Making A Commission on Selling Chicken Coops Nationwide

I always liked the idea of fresh eggs every morning from my own hens.

When I was researching what chicken coop to buy, the restrictions that the council bylaw’s imposed, how much the grain costs etc, I found that very few chicken coop builders sold their chicken coops online. A few sold via TradeMe but, at the time, only one had their own website.

I saw an opportunity there, so I made deals with 8 suppliers through-out NZ.

I created a website that showcased their chicken coops with details and photos and an order form.

With almost zero competition, I dominated the search engine results in a short time. I got great website traffic, I got a high rate of conversions.

Every few months I called each supplier and asked them which of the enquiries/orders I had passed through from my website had converted to sales. And then I invoiced them for a 4% commission (that’s all they could afford).

After 18 months I had sold $25,000 worth of chicken coops.

Sounds pretty good, right?

But you are forgetting that my commission was only 4%, so I had made just $1000!

The project had been 100 hours of work so I was making $10 an hour!

I was disgusted and sold the website to one of my suppliers for a few hundred dollars.

Lesson #1: Don’t Work With Low Profit Margin Items

  • The profit margins were so small that there was very little money to share with me for a commission
  • Instead: Ensure there is a healthy profit margin in the items

Lesson #2: Don’t Sell (Or Resell) Physical Products

  • The logistics of moving a physical product around make it so complicated
  • Physical products are more susceptible to competition which decreases prices and reduces profit margin
  • Instead: Consider digital products, subscriptions, advertising programs etc.

Lesson #3: Don’t Rely On Honesty Or Memory For Commissions

  • My honesty system for collecting commissions was time consuming and open to dishonesty (or forgetfulness)
  • Instead: If an automated system can’t be easily and cheaply created, forget about it

Exponential Organizations by Salim Ismail

exponential-organizationsOne day I stumbled came across Ismail’s 45 minute talk at Singularity University about Exponential Organizations and was fascinated by everything I heard. I just had to read the book.

And wow, this book was awesome.

Not only is it crammed full of optimism about the future, it gives us tips on how to position our businesses (large and small), to take advantage of the opportunities.

And it carries a warning.


Those businesses that do not evolve, will not survive.

I encourage you to buy this book and read it in full, but in the meantime, here are my notes on Exponential Organizations: Why new organizations are ten times better, faster, and cheaper than yours (and what to do about it) by Salim Ismail, Michael S. Malone, Yuri van Geest.

Introduction

  • An Exponential Organization is one whose impact (or output) is disproportionally large – at least 10 x larger – compared to it’s peers because of the use of new organizational techniques that leverage accelerating technologies.

Continue reading “Exponential Organizations by Salim Ismail”

Ask by Ryan Levesque

Ask-by-Ryan-Levesque
The basic idea of this book is very simple: You are just guessing what your customers actually want, right now and in the future. So perhaps it’s time you asked them what they want.

According to Levesque, the way to check is to put them through a series of surveys.

Their answers to these survey questions will enable you to put your customers into groups.

When you have those groups, you can better tailor your product/service packages to these groups.

Sounds pretty reasonable? Pretty simple?

That’s because it is.

Levesque does describe these surveys in moderate-to-light detail, and does provide a few examples of the emails that you can adapt for your own purpose.

But, I’m sorry to say, it doesn’t provide the formula that I expected from reading the title of the book. And worse, it pushes you to buy Levesque’s survey software. It’s just not easy to set up the system he proposes without it. Continue reading “Ask by Ryan Levesque”

Launch by Jeff Walker

launch-jeff-walkerI’ve been reading about, and experimenting with, selling digital products for a couple of years (ebooks, e-courses, video courses etc), so when I came across this book I was pretty excited!

I expected this book to teach me how to:

  • Create and build up an email list
  • Generate ideas of what digital products I could create to sell to them
  • Test those ideas on small samples of my email list to find which one gets traction
  • Create a digital product
  • Write a series of emails that builds anticipation and trust
  • Make millions


But I was wrong.

It didn’t teach me those things. Continue reading “Launch by Jeff Walker”

The 4-Hour Work Week (Timothy Ferris): What I Learned The Second Time Through

Lately, at times, I’ve been feeling that I’m running on a hamster wheel.

Do you know that feeling?

hamster-on-wheel

Almost 7 years ago I read the 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss and quit my job almost immediately. I’ve been running my own business ever since.

The problem is, I thought I was on a hamster wheel when I had a job working for someone else, but now I realise that I’m just running on a different hamster wheel by running my own business!

Recently, I was nudged by a friend of mine to re-read the book, which I did.

Much of it was very familiar because so many of the principles I put into action at the time, but here’s a section on goals that stood out to me this time. Continue reading “The 4-Hour Work Week (Timothy Ferris): What I Learned The Second Time Through”

Need To Motivate Someone To Take Action? Will You Email, Phone, or Meet Them Face-to-Face?

Have you noticed that there are only 2 ways to get things done in this world?

There Are Only 2 Ways To Get Things Done

  1. Do it yourself
    • But you have just 24 hours in a day just like everyone else, it’s hard to leverage your time
  2. Get someone to do it for you
    • You might be asking them to buy something from you
    • You might be asking them for help on something small/big
    • You might be asking them to make a small/big change to their normal behaviour, the way they normally do things

Imagine if you could motivate 10 people to do 10 hours of work for you everyday? That’s 100 hours of productivity every day.

So how do you motivate someone?

Money works. Sometimes.

But I think the biggest motivator is attention.

Could Attention Be The Biggest Motivator?

Attention is the new currency of the world.

Actually, this hasn’t changed from when you were 1 year old.

You craved attention then, you crave attention now.

For you, attention could be:

  • Recognition for a job well done
  • Respect for your skills and knowledge
  • The knowledge that people hold you in high esteem
  • Someone wondering how you are
  • Getting lots of emails from people who need your advice or decision making skill

It’s the same for the people you are trying to motivate to get something done for you.

You have 3 primary ways to make your request:

pleading-duckling1. Email: The Lowest Persuasion Power

  • Most people get lots of email so it’s easy to miss your super important message. Or easy to ignore it and leave it for later. Or easy to say they didn’t get a chance to get around to it
  • Even though some emails can take a lot of effort to write, then they are received they feel cheap
  • You can’t help but wonder if part of the message (or the whole thing) was copy/pasted from emails to other people, or sent in bulk with your name automatically swapped out
  • If you want to get someone to take action via email you have to pack in high value and answer the question “What’s in it for me if I take action on this right now?”

pleading-puppy2. Phone Call: Medium Persuasion Power

  • When you ask for what you want in a phone call, the other person has to make a choice: Yes or No.
  • It’s hard to say no straight away because it sounds rude.
  • And it’s hard to say “I’ll think about it and get back to you”
  • You’ve got their attention while they are on the phone with you so that counts for a lot
  • But there could be a few distractions going on in front of them. You are only providing audio but the human brain crazes the visual so we are open to a myriad of distractions

pleading-otter3. Face-to-Face: Highest Persuasion Power

  • There is something about the 2 of you being in the same place, at the same time, that is special
  • You and they could have been anywhere in the world, but instead you have both chosen to share a few precious moments together one-on-one
  • When another person is across the table from you it is human nature to want to help them with whatever they need

Which Method Will You Choose?

The next time you are about to email someone to ask them for something, wonder to yourself “would a phonecall be more persuasive?”.

And then wonder to yourself “would a face-to-face meeting be even better?”.

Your Thoughts?

Have your say in the comments below.

How I Added An Extra Hour To Every Day, And How You Can Too

Wouldn’t it be great if you had an extra hour every day?

What would you do with that extra time?

A few years back I used to get up at 5.30am every morning (even weekends) to read business books for 90 minutes before I started to get ready for work.

I got through 1.5 books a week that way. Here are the summaries of my favourite 81 business books.

But then I had my first kid. And then another. And then another.

kids

And the best I could do was get up at 7am. And even then I was bleary eyed and grumpy.

I’ve only been able to get back into that pattern for brief periods of time. (That sweet spot when all the kids are not sick and none of them walk into our room in the middle of the night).

But I think I might have just cracked the recipe.

Even with 1 sick kid who wakes us up a few times every night this week, my eyes have popped open at 5.00am or 5.30am and I’m feeling good! I’ve been able to start reading business books again with consistency.

It’s been 6 mornings in a row now.

Want to know how I’ve been able to add an extra hour to every morning?

The secret is M&M’s.

m&ms

Yes, those delicious candy coated chocolate treats.

But I don’t mean adding them to my mouth. Removing them.

For about 3 months, every night I’d turn on a movie or a TV show and munch through half a bag.

Every night.

And then, one of those movies that I watched was called “That Sugar Film”.

that-sugar-film

I have a pretty good awareness of the high level of sugar in foods and I eat pretty healthy so I thought I deserved half a packet of M&M’s every night.

(In fact, I ate M&M’s all the way through the first half of the movie).

I didn’t think there was any harm.

But the movie made me wonder if I was actually addicted to M&M’s.

The way to test that is to break the habit, so the next night I didn’t eat any M&M’s.

It was hard! It was all I could think about!

And the next morning I woke happy at 5.30am and started reading a business book.

5.30am

The next day and night the cravings were intense, but I refused to give in to them.

And the next morning, I woke at 5.30am and read some more.

That’s when I started to wonder if abstaining from M&M’s in the evenings was related to me waking up so early and easily.

Now it’s been 6 mornings in a row and I’m convinced.

I think that either the food colouring, or the sugar in the shell or chocolate was sending me on a sugar high and sugar low while I slept!

As my body worked hard to pump insulin around my system all night, I woke up feeling tired still and not knowing why.

No sugar at night, and now my sleep is restoring and rejuvenating my body and mind.

And on 3 of those nights our sick middle child has woken us 2 – 4 times a night, and still I wake at 5.30am feeling good.

Hooray!

So if you’re as addicted to sugar as I am/was, try this experiment: Do without it for 7 days and try to be aware of how you feel.

Check-in with yourself on judging your energy levels in the morning, during the day, and at night.

100-percent-battery

And if breaking your habit works for you like it worked for me, what are you going to do with the extra hour you’ve now got every day?

12 Questions To Help You Organise Your Next Event

We live in a digital age.

There are more ways to communicate than ever before, but perhaps we are in danger of shallowing out our relationships with people if we rely on digital tools to replace our face-to-face interactions.

That’s why I love organising events.

Bringing people together in the same room, helping strangers meet each other and become friends, that’s one of the reasons I’m here on this earth.

1010 people enjoying TEDxTauranga on 25 July 2015

If you’d like to organise a gathering for 10 people, you probably won’t need this checklist.

But if it’s for 100 people, or 1000, then this checklist is a great starting point.

Rather than answer these questions solo, it’s better to get 1 or 2 others who are keen to run the event with you.

Have a sit down for a couple of hours and work through this list.

I hope it helps.

12 Questions To Help You Organise Your Next Event

  1. On what date/time will the event be?
    • You can change this later, but it needs to be the very first decision you make. It gets everything moving
  2. What’s the purpose of the event?
    • To create relationships?
    • To inform?
    • To ensure we all share the same vision of the future?
  3. What does success look like?
    • It’s about making memorable moments
    • How are you going to measure success?
      • General vibe on the day?
      • Short online survey?
      • Gather testimonials?
      • Monitor how long people talk about it in the weeks/months that follow?
  4. What’s your budget?
    • For how many people?
    • Selling tickets?
    • Taking donations?
    • Finding sponsors?
    • What’s the $$ value of a successful event and the flow-on effects?
      • Staff retention?
      • Client loyalty?
      • Stakeholders with a deeper understanding of the organisations purpose and long-term objectives?
  5. How will you structure the content?
    • Blocks
    • Breaks
    • Fluff
    • Memorable bits
  6. Have you built in moments for appreciation for honouring individuals for their contribution?
    • Might some of those moments cause a tear or 2 to be shed?
  7. What will the attendees remember about your venue?
    • How do you make an impact when they first walk in?
    • Or when they walk out at the end?
    • Other considerations:
      • Size
      • Atmosphere
      • Seated/Standing
  8. What will the attendees remember about your catering?
    • Have you chosen quality beverages and catering that add to the mood?
    • How often will we hear “Mmmm this is nice”?
  9. How can you make it memorable?
    • Are there elements of emotional connection?
    • Have you allowed room for semi-structured spontaneity?
    • Who’s taking photos/videos?
    • How will we report on the event afterward?
      • Report/Newsletter/Email?
      • Facebook photo album?
  10. Who’s running the show?
    • An internal or external MC?
  11. What would you improve next time?
    • Schedule in a debrief just a few days after the event
    • Collect ideas for improvement for next time
    • Create a wrap-up to-do list
  12. How will you report on the event?
    • Doing so, makes “selling” future events so much easier
    • Collect written testimonials & video testimonials on the day (or shortly after)
    • Include lots of photos of people having a great time
    • Send it out 1 or 2 weeks later to everyone who came (so they can re-live their favourite moments)

Your Thoughts?

What do you think?

Have your say in the comments below.

The 6 Steps in The Creative Process: This will be awesome, This is hard, This is shit, I’m shit, This might be ok, This is awesome!

An artist friend of mine Murray Clode told me about the “The Creative Process” this morning at the Breakfast Club that I run.

The 6 Steps in The Creative Process

  1. This will be awesome
  2. This is hard
  3. This is shit
  4. I’m shit
  5. This might be ok!
  6. This is awesome!

This doesn’t just apply to creating art, it’s when we create anything:

  • You might have an idea for a new start-up business
  • You might launch into a d-i-y project at home
  • You might decide to learn a new language
  • You might decide to read a challenging book
  • You might decide to write a blog article like this one

Can you recognise yourself working through this process when you are doing something worthwhile?

For me, one of the most interesting parts of this list is how many opportunities there are to quit before you get something done!

The 4 Main Opportunities To Quit During The Creative Process

  1. Not getting started at all.
    • Having an awesome idea, but not taking the first step, not taking action. Most of us quit before we start
  2. When the initial optimism and excitement wears off and it gets hard, most of us quit
  3. If we work hard and then look with disappointment at what we’ve created, most of us quit
  4. When we see what we’ve created as a reflection of ourselves and blame ourselves for the dismal quality of the project, most of us quit

What Power Do You Have On Others Going Through The Process?

The second most interesting part of this is the power we have over people in the middle of creating something.

If you attack someones ideas you might send them into phase #3 (the “This is shit” phase) too early, so they quit!

If you encourage and uplift someone it might send them into phase #5 (the “This might be ok” phase) just before they quit!

When we are exposed to peoples ideas, we can’t help but have a reaction.

Those ideas might be art, they might be a plan for the future, they might be an idea for an event, an idea for a new product or service or business.

What Do They Need To Hear?

You have 3 choices when someone shares their ideas with you:

  1. Most often they need you to pat them on the back and say “good on you” and for you to keep any reservations you have to yourself so they can learn the lesson that awaits them
  2. Sometimes they might need some constructive criticism to send them in a new direction that will save them a bit of time & effort
  3. And sometimes they need someone brave to say “it looks like you’ve given this your best shot, have you thought about ending this project and taking what you’ve learned, and applying that to a new project? What project might that be?”

Is Ending A Project A Total Loss?

Most of the time we think failed projects are a complete waste of time and money/resources.

It’s this kind of thinking that stops most of us from starting a new project in the first place.

But all projects (whether they were failures or successes) are great learning, aren’t they?

In fact, perhaps up to 80% of your new skills and knowledge could be applied to your next project, couldn’t they?

Where To From Here? My 3 Hopes For You

  1. I hope that the next time you are in the middle of a creative project and feel like quitting, you remember that you’re in the middle of this 6 phase process and to not give up too early!
  2. I hope that the next time someone tells you their idea, that you choose right when you decide if they need a pat on the back, some constructive criticism, or for someone brave to prompt them to end it.
  3. But most of all, I hope you start a new creative project today, because the world always needs cool people working on cool creations.

(P.S. I was able to trace the origins of this list back to a tweet by Marcus Romer in Oct 2013).

Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World by Peter H. Diamandis, Steven Kotler

bold-how-to-go-bigHere are my notes on the book “Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World” by Peter H. Diamandis, Steven Kotler.

(This is a kind of sequel to another book by these authors called Abundance. Here’s my summary of Abundance)

Fueling my brain with a daily TED talk for 5 years now (and watching/reading no main-stream news) has meant I’ve got a very positive view of the future and supreme confidence in the potential for humanity to band together to solve our planets biggest problems.

This book has that same positivity but puts an entrepreneurial spin on it. What opportunities does the future hold for entrepreneurs who can see these changes coming and prepare for them?

As one of the first headlines in this book states: “The world’s biggest problems = biggest business opportunities”.

Here’s a collection of my favourite bits from this book. Continue reading “Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World by Peter H. Diamandis, Steven Kotler”

Money, Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom by Tony Robbins

money-master-the-gameHere are my notes on the book “Money Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom” by Tony Robbins.

There are 3 things you need to know about this book:

  1. This book is huge
    • Most business books take me 4 hours to get through, this one took me 12
    • I read it on my Kindle, so at times I thought it would never end (whereas, with a hardcopy book, you can feel with your fingers how far through you are)

  1. Tony repeats points over and over
    • This can be a bit annoying at times. But that’s just his teaching style. He knows that for the important bits to stick in your head, he needs to repeat them.
  2. His writing style is not crisp and concise like most business authors
    • His writing is like a conversation in your head between you and him. It’s like he’s talking to you personally

Having said that, this was a very good book. I’ve broken it into 4 parts: Continue reading “Money, Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom by Tony Robbins”

Heard About The NZ Cafe Owners Network?

The NZ Cafe Owners network is where cafe owners in a particular city are matched to a cafe owner in a neighbouring city.

They call each other once a fortnight (8pm on a Thursday night) to share marketing ideas to grow their businesses.

  • There is no competition because they are in different cities, so they are free to share any, and all, ideas
  • They are more likely to take action on the new ideas because they hear about how other owners have implemented them and what results the changes generated
  • If the pair run short on ideas to share, they are simply re-matched with a new cafe owner (this is encouraged)
  • They work such long hours, they can never find the time to read marketing books or search Google for marketing ideas
  • They work so hard inside their business they sorely need an outsiders perspective to identify weaknesses and opportunities and ask challenging questions
  • They realise that just providing “great food and great service” isn’t enough these days. That’s just the new baseline minimum that people expect

Sounds pretty awesome, right?

Well, it doesn’t exist, sorry.

It’s just an idea I had the other day.

If you’d like to start providing this service, I suggest the following steps:

  1. Pitch the idea to 3 cafe’s near you and 3 more in a neighbouring city
  2. Set appointments for the phonecalls for them and share the phone numbers
  3. Briefly interview them the next day to see how it went (write down their testimonials)
  4. Ask them if they are prepared to pay $10/month for the service. And if so, send them an invoice for the first month immediately

All the best!

coffee-queue-out-the-door
Is it every cafe owners dream to be so popular that there is a queue out the door and down the street, but no-body minds waiting because waiting is part of the experience and it’s just the cost of being a super-fan?

Simple Advice For Co-Working Spaces: Have Lunch Together

I moved into the Basestation Co-working space mid-January 2015 after being at Studio64 for 2 years.

A few weeks into it I got the feeling that something wasn’t quite right. There was something missing, but I couldn’t figure out what it was.

It wasn’t until I visited Studio64 during lunchtime and we poked fun at each others lunches, had a few laughs, bounced around a few ideas…

That was it!

At Basestation I’d pop into the lunch room at 12pm and sometimes see someone whilst I wolfed down my lunch in silence, sometimes not, sometimes eat alone, sometimes one person would join me.

I’d had enough of that.

I knew that lunchtimes can be the most fun of the day, so I sent out this email to everyone at 9am the next morning:


Subject Line: New lunch time protocol starts today at 12noon

Hiya team, I’ve got great news!

We work in a co-working space so that means that, starting today, we are going to start having lunch together at 12noon. Yay!

We’ll talk a bit of business, a bit of family, have a few laughs, tease each other about our lunch choices, brainstorm new ideas, get a different perspective on things, get to know each other better.

See you at 12noon today and every day from now on!

And the best thing is you don’t have to set an alarm or put it in your calendar because I will come to your work station at 12noon everyday to remind you about your duty as a co-worker.

Cheers,
Sheldon.

How did it go? Very well indeed. Here’s a couple of photos:

2015-02-26 12.23.44
2015-02-26 12.23.52
2015-02-26 12.24.44
I rounded up everyone for about 3 weeks until the habit formed, and now, even on days when I can’t get there myself, we all have lunch together. Yay!

If you’d like to find out more about life in a co-working space come to this information evening:

Sheldon Nesdale
Co-working Expert, Basestation, Tauranga, New Zealand.

Want To Make More Money? How To Maximise The Worker, The Seller, The Investor, In All Of Us

20-dollar-note-securityMy 5 year old son asked me about money last night before bed.

His basic question was “How do we get more of it?”

Good question!

We spent a few minutes closely examining a 5 dollar note and I pointed out some of the security features like clear windows, watermarks and micro-printing that make it so hard to simply print out more for ourselves.

And then I told him the 3 basic ways to make money:

  1. Work for someone
  2. Sell something
  3. Invest in something

In a moment we’ll take a closer look at each one, and consider the marketing implications of each.

But first, are you more likely to ask the question “how do you earn money” or “how do you make money”?

The most common, is the latter. We use the phrase “make money” as if the stuff comes out of thin air.

Most monetary transactions these days are in fact in the thin air.

They are electronic transactions flying through the internet and phone lines. Rarely are they passed over from one human hand to another.

Anyway, the first way to make money is…

#1 Work For Someone

  • Exchanging an hour of your time for an hours pay. You are selling your time
  • If you live until your 80, that’s 700,800 hours you’ve got to sell
  • But you might keep a third of those for yourself for sleeping, and another third for family time, resting and playing, leaving just 233,600 to sell
  • This method does not scale. If you create enormous value for a business with a 60 minute phonecall with a new customer, you get paid the same as you did for that hour you spent on Facebook

How To Maximise Working For Someone

  • Have you noticed that when you are job hunting, it feels like you are selling yourself to a potential employer? That’s exactly what you are doing
  • Your potential future boss is estimating your capacity to create value for their business
  • They know you’ll take holidays, you’ll get sick sometimes, you’ll lose focus or get distracted, but at the end of the day, they hope that you’ve created products or services that are of value to the customers of their business. They use that value to contribute to overheads, pay for the costs of doing business (including your wages/salary), and to compensate them for taking the risk on you
  • When that value calculation is upsidedown, that’s when redundancies are made. Redundancy really means “for the foreseeable future we can’t sell the value that you create, so the business can’t afford to pay you to stay here”
  • So if you are working for someone and you’re worried about redundancy, ask your boss what the most valuable outputs of your work are, and just focus on those
  • Go beyond KPI’s and keep asking the question “why is that important? But why is that important?” Until you find out what is truely valuable

#2 Sell Something

  • Eg Buy items in bulk and resell them to customers in smaller quantities (eg supermarkets do this all day)
  • Eg Assemble an item that people want from components (eg a mobile phone is made of thousands of components)
  • Eg Provide a service that people pay for (eg the delivery of packages to your home or office)
  • Evening begging is a form of selling. You are selling the good feeling that comes from helping someone less fortunate

How To Maximise Selling Something

  • In this scenario it’s about asking questions that uncover peoples wants and needs (often, they are problems that they want to solve)
  • But better than that, it’s finding out what they are willing to pay to solve that problem
  • But better than that, it’s asking them to pay in advance of you delivering that solution

#3 Invest In Something

  • Eg Give your funds to a bank and earn interest
  • Eg Buy or build a machine that makes widgets
  • Eg Buy or build an asset that generates cashflow (eg a rental property)
  • Eg Hire an employee that creates value for your customers
  • Even playing the lottery or gambling is a form of investment. You are exchanging time and money for the chance to profit

How To Maximise Investing in Something

  • The first 2 questions in this scenario are “What is the return on investment?” and “What is the risk of losing my entire investment?”
  • The next question is “What are my investment alternatives and how do they compare?”
  • Even with just 2 factors: return/reward and risk, evaluating your options can be enormously complicated
  • The marketing questions are “what are you really selling?” and “who will pay for it?”
  • For example, putting your money in a bank account is giving the bank permission to use your money for their own investments (such as issuing mortgages on property). In return you get a small fraction of their profits but with very little risk of losing your investment

In your lifetime you will dip in and out of all 3 categories all the time.

Your Thoughts?

What are your thoughts on this?

Have I missed a method of making money?

Have your say in the comments section below.

Start, Stop, Steal, Stick: What I’ve Learnt From 6 StartUp Weekends

tauranga-startup-weekendImagine walking into a room on a Friday night with an idea scribbled on a napkin, and walking out at the end of the weekend with a company, a team and even revenue!

That’s a typical StartUp Weekend.

“Startup Weekend works by delivering the opportunity to learn how to start a business and promoting entrepreneurship in local communities . This is an event that brings together developers, designers, marketers, product managers, startup enthusiasts and members of the community who can support them. Together they  share ideas, form teams, build products and launch startups- all in a 54 hour week-end.”

I lead a team to bring  to StartUp Weekend to Tauranga in 2012 and 2013, but I couldn’t spare the time in 2014. But instead of cancelling the event, 2 friends of mine offered to take it over and they did an amazing job.

They invited me to do an opening talk at the beginning of the 2014 event and I thought you might get some benefit of what I had to say.

Start

Be bold and start something new (not just this weekend).

What do we need?

  • We need more opportunities for awesome people to meet other awesome people face to face
  • More regular business breakfasts/lunches
  • More events like StartUp Weekend or TEDx or Pechacucha
  • Steal event formats from Auckland or New York or Beijing and bring them here

How?

  • With a team. Just like tonight, to attract a team around you, you need to share your vision of a better tomorrow

Own several domain names?

  • It’s great to get excited about that a domain name that is available and to buy it, but build something immediately while you’re excited

Stop

When somethings not working out for you anymore, don’t be afraid to stop.

It creates space for others to get involved and benefit from the experience.

I have 2 failures & 1 success to tell you about:

Example #1: Failure with ChickenCoops.co.nz

  • It was a network of chicken coop builders around New Zealand
  • In 12 months I sold $25,000 worth of chicken coops, yay! 🙂
  • But my commission was only 5%, boo! 🙁
  • So I earned just over $1000 for 250 hours of website building and admin which equals $5/hour, boo! 🙁
  • So I stopped (and sold the website to one of my suppliers for a few hundred dollars)

Example #2: Failure with RestaurantMarketing.co.nz

  • It was a series of articles about how Cafe’s, Restaurants and Bars could use the internet to get new customers and look after existing ones
  • The problem was the owners of these businesses are so busy, they don’t have time to spare to do a Google search for solutions like this
  • So I stopped (and let the domain name expire)

Example #3: Success with Tauranga StartUp Weekend

  • For the first time in my life I’ve left a legacy behind. I started something, but when I stopped, the event lived on. Yay!

Steal

Steal ideas whenever you see one and adapt it for your own use.

Spread your ideas to who-ever will listen.

Make your idea easy for others to spread.

Never ask anyone to sign a Non-Disclosure-Agreement before you’ll share with them – be thankful they are giving you 60 seconds.

They might turn into

  • a customer,
  • an investor,
  • a co-founder,
  • an advocate

Don’t put any barriers in the way of that chance.

An idea is just the very first step in a long and awesome journey.

Stick

Heard of “Mentor Whiplash”?

It’s when one mentor walks in and gives you great advice, but then the next mentor walks in and says the opposite!

It’s your project, so you make the decisions: stick to your vision, stick up a note that says “Mentors, we are deep in it, please come back at 2pm”

Stick with what your customers tell you is valuable.

Embrace mentors that just ask questions instead of give opinions.

Your Thoughts?

Agree? Disagree? Have your say in the comments below.

Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek

read_newI’m a big fan of Simon Sinek’s TED talks. (In fact, I watched the rehearsal for his latest one live on stage in Vancouver in March of this year).

I was surprised to find that this book was about drugs.

Not the ones that might come to mind when I use that word, but the kind of drugs that our own brains secrete into our nervous system.

One of the big lessons for me was about how large corporations think that internal competition is healthy and necessary for innovation. They are wrong. That kind of competition is damaging and disrupts the “Circle of Safety” that Simon talks about in this book.

Another one nicely reinforced the direction my life is going in at the moment – that is, my mission is to bring people together at inspiring events.

His thoughts on how video conferencing can never replace a business trip was very interesting.

Let’s take a look. Continue reading “Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek”

Less Doing, More Living: Make Everything in Life Easier by Ari Meisel

Here are my notes on “Less Doing, More Living: Make Everything in Life Easier” by Ari Meisel.Screen-Shot-2015-04-18-at-3.15.28-PM-533x423

I thought I knew a lot about productivity and efficiency, so I haven’t picked up books like this lately.

I’m glad I did though, because even a few tips can make a big difference on your time management and impact.

The biggest lesson for me about this book was about email.

I’ve felt guilty about how addicted I am to email, but this book gave me tips about how I continue to use my email inbox as my to-do list, but with some cunning twists on how to improve the timing of what appears in there.

You’ll find out more about that shortly.

In the meantime, here’s a collection of my favourite bits from this book. Continue reading “Less Doing, More Living: Make Everything in Life Easier by Ari Meisel”

Facebook Basics Workshop (Tauranga): Fri 26th September 1pm – 3pm

I’m running a “Facebook Basics Workshop” with Likeable Social Marketing (Dan Necklen).

Know a business owner that might need our help?

This Facebook workshop is for you if:

  • You need help setting up your Facebook business page
  • You’ve got an existing Facebook business page, but don’t know how to use it effectively
  • You have Facebook marketing questions you need answers too

Details:

  • When? Fri 26th Sept from 1pm–3pm
  • Where? Ignition Co-Working Space (29 Grey Street, Tauranga)
  • Cost? $180+gst per person
  • Fruit platter + Tea/Coffee provided from Robert Harris

What to bring:

  • Your laptop (and power cord)
  • Your Facebook-related questions
  • Your business cards (don’t miss the networking opportunity!)

It’s limited to 10, and as of today there are just 4 spots left.

RSVP to Dan: dan@likeable.co.nz

Top TV Advertising Tips For Better TV Ads

tv-advertising

You may think that a television commercial is unreasonably expensive for a small business, but the actual cost might surprise you.

The price will vary depending on:

  1. The size of the television market (depending on the area)
  2. The time slot
  3. The popularity of the show you choose

However, as a general guide, TV advertising costs:

  • Big cities: probably run between $5,000 and $10,000 a month
  • Smaller cities might charge around $1,000 – 2,000 a month
  • Smaller towns, you might be able to run an advertising campaign for as little as $500 a month

This is still  a significant amount, but TV commercials will allow you to reach a larger and more engaged audience than most other forms of advertising.

How to Buy TV Commercials

First, you’ll need to decide if you want to advertise through:

  • Cable/Satellite
  • Local broadcasting

Local broadcasting means buying advertisements through your local versions of the big networks. In USA: Fox, ABC, CBS, and NBC.

Cable/satellite advertising is generally cheaper but will reach a smaller audience.

Network broadcasting will be more expensive but will allow you to advertise during popular programs such as American Idol and NFL football and therefore reach a bigger audience.

Target the Right Audience

To make sure your commercial is effective, you need to make sure the right people are watching it.

Television stations will allow you to choose the show and time slot you advertise during, although they may come with different price tags.

Think about when and what your potential customers will be watching to make an informed choice.

If you’re not sure, you can share some demographic information such as the age, gender, and income of your average customer with the television station.

They should be able to help you choose a show and time slot that matches your target group’s preferences.

Factor in Production Costs

Remember that the price of airtime is not the only cost for your commercial; you will also have to produce it.

Depending on your approach, this can be fairly cheap, but if you want a complex commercial, you will have to buy or rent equipment, pay actors, and probably buy some things for set design and costumes.

This can add thousands of dollars to your expenses.

Some local broadcasters, however, may be able to make the commercial for you if you are running the advertisement for long enough.

They may still charge you for this service, even if you are advertising with them.

Ask an account executive if they can offer you a deal on a package of advertising and commercial production.

What do you think?

Have your say in the comments below.

Email Newsletters: 6 Tips To Get Your Email Newsletters Opened, Read, And Acted On

Having a list of email address of people who want to hear from you is gold.

The secret to effective email newsletters is to mimic a one-to-one email conversation as closely as possible.

Any elements that make the recipient suspect that your message is one-to-many will reduce the impact of your message.

There are 6 questions you can ask yourself.

1. Is your “from” address a real person?

You probably have a full email box right now, right?

How do you prioritise what to read first?

Does the following order look familiar?

  1. Email from people you know
  2. Email from people you don’t know yet
  3. Email newsletters
  4. Spam

Almost all email newsletters sit at priority #3 and so they never get read.

The secret is to move your newsletter into priority #1.

The first step to doing that is to ensure your “from” address for your email newsletters is a real person.

  • Not “office@xyzcompany.co.nz”
  • Not “admin@”
  • Not “info@”
  • And definitely never “noreply@” (that is the worst of all)

Make it a real person.

Preferably you.

2. Will your Subject Line attract a click?

Have you ever received an email newsletters with the subject line “November 2014 Update from xyz company”.

Did you feel the pressure to open it up immediately?

No, of course you didn’t.

A subject line like that just screams non-urgent. It can be safely archived or delayed until later (or never opened).

Pick one item from the things you want to say and use the benefits of that item in your subject line.

Just like the headline for this post: “Email Newsletters: 6 Tips To Get Your Automated Emails Opened, Read, And Acted On” you know what you’re going to get before you click on it, and your curiosity is peaqued.

Much better than “November 2014 Newsletter” don’t you think?

3. Which is better: designed or plain text?

Commonly, email newsletters are designed with these elements:

  • A colour scheme
  • A graphic header with your logo
  • 1 or 2 columns of content
  • Imagery/photos etc

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Using these elements screams “this is not urgent, read it later!”.

To move your newsletters into priority #1 in your recipients inbox you need to mimic a one-to-one email conversation and that means you need to use plain text.

So stick to one item of news per email, or if you must say more, use sub-headings and numbered lists and bullet points to make it easy to skim read.

Personalise the emails too with the persons first name (my record is 7 times in one email).

All email clients like MailChimp, Aweber, iContact let you personalise the body in this way.

4. What action do you want them to take?

If you can’t answer this question, don’t even bother starting to write your next newsletter.

The action you choose has a huge impact on what you write.

For example, if you want old clients to call you with new business, then end your email with a question like “What do you think Jim? Shall we sit down next week to figure it out together?”

Then, if you know that’s your goal, you know your challenge is to write content that is persuasive and valuable and keeps them reading right until the end.

If you approach it from the angle “what do I have to say?” then you’re bound to go in the wrong direction.

Sometimes a softer approach is better than a hard-sell. I often use “what do you think?” as my last sentence.  In that case, the action I want is for them to click “reply” and write a few sentences back to me answering a question I’ve posed.

5. Does your email signature make it easy?

Your regular emails have an email signature, so your newsletters should to.

Include all your phone numbers and details so it’s easy for them to contact you.

They can hit “reply” and email you straight back, or pick up the phone and call, or walk down the road and visit you.

Make yourself seem approachable.

6. Can they unsubscribe easily?

Ensure you make the unsubscribe link easy to find.

If you make it hard for them to unsubscribe:

  • They will resent you for sending information to them they don’t get value from
  • They will mark your messages as SPAM to get them out of their way (which ruins your email deliverability over time)
  • You will waste money sending your messages to people who don’t want them
  • You will falsely inflate the number of subscribers you have (A lower number motivates you to increase it. A higher number makes you lazy)

Video Of These Email Tips

I presented this list of email tips at a seminar recently. Here’s the video of that session.

What do you think?

Have your say in the comments below.

Cold Calling: 3 Tips To Generate New Business With A Cold Call

Cold calling can be intimidating to do, but it can be an effective way to reach new clients and increase business.

Cold calling is the process of contacting prospective customers who do not expect to be hearing from you.

You can use this call to explain what your business offers and how it can help the person or business on the other end of the line.

You are looking for a win-win. They win because they get what they need. You win because you make your sale.

happy-call

1. Do Your Homework

  • When calling businesses or people you think might be interested in your services, take the time to find out some information about them before calling.
  • Try a simple Google search or looking on Linkedin.
  • If the company you’re getting in touch with has a website, looking through their “about us” section will give you a lot of helpful information.
  • This research will really help you target your pitch to the individual you’re reaching, making your call much more effective.
  • This process will take time, but in the end you’ll have more success making a smaller number of well-planned calls than many identical calls to people you know nothing about.

2. Relate to Their Needs

  • The best way to get people to listen to you receptively is to start out by relating to their needs.
  • Instead of beginning your call with a long description of your company and its services, start with a question.
  • If you run a recruiting business, for example, you could ask a company if they need help finding good, reliable employees.
  • If you run advertisements, you could ask a company if they would like to increase their sales.
  • Then you can introduce how your business can help to meet their needs.
  • Throughout the conversation, keep the focus on their needs and on helping them.
  • This will be easier if you’ve done your research on the company and what their goals are.

3. Don’t Give Up

  • Cold calling can be tough.
  • You’re likely to contact many people who are not interested in listening to you.
  • Stay patient, and keep trying.
  • It may take dozens of calls to find one new client, but at the end of the day you’ll still be generating new business.
  • And remember to always stay polite and friendly.
  • An upbeat tone and good manners will go a long way to keeping people on the other end engaged in the conversation.

Your Thoughts?

Have your say in the comments below.

Radio Interviews: Getting One And How To Prepare

radio-interviewRadio interviews can be a fantastic way to spread awareness of your business to a wider audience.

And perhaps best of all, they’re free!

They will, however, require some effort to organize and prepare for.

1. How to get the interview in the first place

This is the hardest part.

Remember not to approach the interview as an advertisement, but rather as something that will interest and benefit radio listeners. As a business owner, you are in a position to comment on your industry.

Think about what kind of audience will be interested in your business.

Look into local radio and whether they have any segments relevant to what you have to say.

Many radio shows will have talk sections on business or local news.

Once you have a radio show in mind, you need to get in touch with the host or producers.

Look at the station’s website for contact details. You can try calling or emailing.

Radio hosts are busy people, so you may need to politely follow up to ensure that they notice your pitch.

Whatever mode of contact you choose, include a description of yourself and your business. Then convey why talking to you will be interesting for their listeners.

What new ideas do you have to talk about?

Or how can you help their listeners find better deals or services?

You may also want to include a list of questions they can ask you, making the potential interview even easier for them.

2. How to prepare and make the most of your radio interview

Make sure to prepare for your interview.

Think of answers to the questions you provided, but don’t assume the radio host will stick to the list.

Think if there are any tricky questions the host might ask and how you might answer.

A good idea is to have a friend or family member do a practice interview with you, so you’ll have polished answers ready.

Remember that the appearance of confidence and a sense of humor will get you far.

You should also think about the key message you want to send.

What do you want listeners to remember about you and your business?

Then make sure that you refer back to this key point more than once, and your audience will certainly remember it and you.

3. Ensure you thank the radio host afterward

After your interview, make sure to send a thank-you note or email to the host.

Radio shows have a lot of time to fill, and they may ask you to come back again one day!

Your Thoughts?

Have your say in the comments below.

The Power of Posters: 3 Key Principles For Advertising Your Business Services With Posters

posters-to-advertise-businessPosters can be a great form of advertising for 4 main reasons:

  1. They are cheap to reproduce in high volumes
  2. Easy to produce (lots of printers/copy shops to choose from, or print on your own printer)
  3. Highly visible, they make an impact
  4. You choose the location, so you can target your customers

Here’s a quick guide to help you get the most out of poster advertisements:

1. Be Bold

  • To draw people’s attention, the focal point of your poster should be a large image. Think about the services you offer and what best represents those services.
  • If you run a restaurant, a picture of your signature dish would be great.
  • Alternatively, you can think of representing a need your potential customer will relate to.
  • If you are a massage therapist, you might choose a picture that shows stress or soreness, then state that your business will help with that need.
  • A bold headline can also draw attention. Keep it relatively short so that people can read it easily.
  • If you can, have the poster printed in color

2. Keep It Simple

  • A poster is not the place to list all the details of your business and services.
  • Your goal should be to attract the attention of people walking by and enable them to find your business later.
  • Keep the text limited to a simple, attention-grabbing headline, a small blurb or catchphrase, and your website and phone number.
  • Adding too much text will make your poster cluttered and difficult to read.
  • Less information in a larger font will draw the eye and be easier to remember.

3. Location, Location, Location

  • The great thing about posters is that you can hang them anywhere.
  • Think about your target customers and what locations they might frequent.
  • If you run a dog walking business, you could hang posters at local veterinarians and pet stores.
  • If you offer tutoring services, you could try posting at schools or at cafes that draw in students.
  • If you’d like to hang your poster at another business, make sure you ask first.
  • Many small businesses will allow you to post advertisements on a bulletin board.
  • Post offices also usually have bulletin boards where you could pin your poster.
  • And look out for community bulletin boards in commercial areas.
  • Of course, you can also tape your poster around telephone poles in the neighborhood around your business.
  • As you hang more posters, more and more people will recognize your name.

What do you think?

Have your say in the comment below.

Direct Mail Tips: What To Consider Before Sending Addressed Mail

Are the following statements true for you?

  • You have a message you want to send out to 50 – 500 potential clients/customers
  • You have a contact name and postal address
  • Timeliness is not an issue. If it takes your audience a few days, or weeks or even months before they take action, that’s ok

If you answered yes to the above statements, perhaps direct mail is a good choice for you.

I just want to be clear, when I talk about “direct mail”, I’m talking about a letter (maybe just a few pages) in an envelope with the recipients name and address printed on the front.

I’m not talking about glossy/colourful items that have been commercially printed.

mail-man

There are 3 reasons why sending a direct mail might be a better choice than alternatives such as a calling a meeting, making a phone call or sending an email:

  1. Scale
  2. Tangibility
  3. Attention

1. Scale

With direct mail you can communicate with a huge audience. 100 people. 1000 people. 10,000 people. It’ll only cost you about $1-$2 each. If you can make an average of $5 per letter you send out, you are making money.

2. Attention

Seeing an envelope in your in-tray with your name on it, ripping open the envelope and seeing your name at the top, and reading a message written for you, that’s personal. That gets your attention.

It has almost zero chance of not being opened. Can you say that about any other form of advertising?

3. Tangibility

You get to feel the paper in your hands. It exists. A whole lot of complicated logistics got it to you. You can throw it on your desk, and it’ll be there waiting for you later. If you delete an email, however, it’s gone. Out of sight, out of mind. Email is cheap. A letter has much more value.

3 More Direct Mail Tips:

  • Personalise the letter heavily with the receipients first name. Not just the envelope and internal address, put it in your headings and subheadings and 5 or 6 times in the body, and in the call to action at the end
  • Don’t use window envelopes. They look like bills and they don’t build up anticipation of something good. Also, they might not get opened until later in the month
  • Print your return address on the back. The letters that get returned can be removed from your database

Your thoughts?

Have your say in the comments below.

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh

Here are my notes on the book “Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose” by Tony Hsieh51oR41Z4zoL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Tony Hsieh is the CEO of Zappos, which is now wholly owned by Amazon and sells a wide range of items online, but made it’s start selling shoes online.

It’s the classic start-up story many of us dream of: a couple of friends get together and quit their jobs on the back on a single idea, they make it through the good times and bad times and desperate times to somehow scale it up to a billion dollar company within 10 years.

Here’s a collection of my favourite quotes from the book: Continue reading “Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh”

Billboard Advertising Tips: 3 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Your First Billboard Ad

Billboards can be fun. Billboard can be boring. Billboards can be noticeable. Billboards can be easy to ignore. Billboards can really get your message out there. Billboards can be a waste of money.

hmmm, it really can go either way.

billboard-advertising-example

Here are 3 questions to ask yourself if you are considering a billboard ad for your business

1. “Is broadcasting with outdoor advertising to the general public really the best way to get my message to my target client?”

If you know the profile of your target clients pretty well, then crunch some numbers and work out how much wastage there is.

For example if you’re selling insurance, then you could guess that:

  • 20% don’t care
  • 30% have enough cover and are not interested
  • 30% are loyal to their current provider
  • but the timing is right for 1%

Then you can estimate the size of the audience:

  • If the traffic is 20,000 cars per day
  • Your audience is 200 people per day (1%)
  • But only 25% of them might notice and read your billboard
  • So that leaves you with 50 people

Now let’s estimate the cost:

  • Your cost is $100/day for the billboard ($3k/month is about right)
  • So you are paying $2 per impression ($100/50 people)
  • 1% of those might take action and give you a call (industry average)
  • Bringing your cost-per-enquiry to $200 ($2/1%)
  • Your conversion from enquiry to sale is 20% (industry average)
  • Giving you a cost-per-sale of $1000

So, is the lifetime value of your customer more than $1000?

If so, congratulations, give billboard advertising a try!

If not, try something else.

2. “What state of mind is my audience in?”

Here’s what we know about public on the move in cars/trucks/bikes:

  • They are on the way to somewhere
  • They are busy, stressed in traffic, not in the mood to be sold to
  • They don’t have a pen or a free hand to write down a phone number or website address
  • They aren’t allowed to make a phone call whilst driving

Wow, this is seriously an unreceptive auidence. Can you see how the odds are stacked against you here?

One small positive is that we are creatures of habit. Those same people will probably be past your billboard tomorrow, and the day after and the day after that.

So at least you’ve got frequency on your side. A chance for your message to sink in a bit.

So, how can you get them to take action in this situation?

3. “What are the essential elements that my billboard must have?”

Your billboard should have these 4 components and these 4 components only:

  1. Headline
    • A huge headline (5 to 9 words) that asks a question, or
    • States the primary benefit of what you’re selling
    • (No crazy fonts. Make it super easy to read)
  2. Photo
    • One huge photo that has impact
    • Human faces are good
    • Something a bit unusual is good
    • Avoid stock photography if you can
  3. Your business name/logo
    • Small
    • Don’t take up room that the headline and photo might need to increase their impact
  4. State the action you want them to take
    • Either a phone number and/or website address

Your thoughts?

Have your say in the comments below.

Flash Foresight: See The Invisible To Do The Impossible by Daniel Burrus

Here are my notes on “Flash Foresight: See the Invisible to Do the Impossible” by Daniel Burrus.Flash-Foresight-Book

I learnt a lot from this book. The 2 biggest lessons for me were:

  1. I’ve heard about the aging population a million times, but this book made me think about it in 2 different ways:
    • It will create an enormous part-time, low-cost workforce with huge business experience
    • There is enormous business opportunity as that generation requires more health care, more medical technology (hearing aids for example)
  2. Technology-driven change doesn’t kill off the old ways of getting things done, it adds on
    • Eg e-news hasn’t killed newspapers, email and digital storage hasn’t killed paperwork

Here’s a collection of my other favourite bits from this book. Continue reading “Flash Foresight: See The Invisible To Do The Impossible by Daniel Burrus”

Could An Infomercial Make You Serious Money? How To Create One For Your Business

The king of infomercials: Billy Mays
Billy Mays: Has sold millions of dollars of product via infomercial

Infomercials can be hilariously bad and can make you cringe but don’t forget about how they have the ability to turn people into millionaires.

If you didn’t know already, the world “infomercial” is a combination of the words “information” and “commercial”. Pretty clever huh? 🙂

In the industry they are also called “television direct response advertising”. I think “infomercial” is much better though, don’t you?

Imagine for a moment that you had an infomercial to sell your product or service…

You’ve got an overly-enthusiastic man with a beard and/or an equally enthusiastic middle-aged woman speaking straight into the camera and highlighting exactly why the people watching from home will change their lives with your product in your hands.

Examples of the best performing infomercials in the world

Billy Mays was the king of infomercials, here’s a compilation video of his best comercials:

What do you need to do to make your own infomercial?

To make that happen you need to know that infomercials are very expensive to produce in the first place. We are talking tens of thousands of dollars (even hundreds of thousands of dollars).

On your to-do list to make your infomercial happen you need to:

  • Hire a studio
  • Hire actors
  • Hire a director and script writer
  • Build a set
  • Hire videographers, editors and special effects masters
  • Buy a toll-free number
  • Hire logistics people to distribute

Or, just hire a specialist infomercial company to put this project together for you. They will take upfront fees plus a commission on every item they sell for you.

But once that’s all done and your infomercial video is created, non-prime time TV advertising is pretty cheap, and people with money to burn are up at all those strange hours of the night watching.

If your product solves a problem they have (or better yet, a problem they didn’t know they have until they see your product), then you could be laughing all the way to the bank!

Are Infomercials Better For Products or Services?

Definitely products. Products scale better (you can fill a warehouse), and they are non-perishable (if you don’t sell it today, you can sell it tomorrow).

What do you think?

Have your say in the comments below

In-Movie Product Placement: Could Your Brand Be Used Popular Movie Characters?

One of my favourites movies comes to mind when I think about in-movie product placement: iRobot with Will Smith.

You’ll see him personally use:

  • Converse’s Chuck Taylor All-Stars
  • Audi RSQ
  • FedEx
  • Tecate
  • JVC

irobot-product-placement-cons

For me, the product placements didn’t detract from the movie at all. Some of the zoom-ins were a bit cheesy I spose, but not too bad.

The challenge for you would be coming up with millions of dollars to make this happen for your product or service.

Some directors take a hard line and won’t compromise the art of their movie at all, others might be a bit more willing to have you decrease their budget.

You could try with TV dramas that are made near you, or documentaries or reality TV shows too.

8 Tips To Get Better Results From Your Trade Show or Expo Stand

1. All the best Trade Show booths gone? Only a few right at the back to choose from? Fine!

Don’t worry too much about your location.

You instinctively think that a high traffic area would be better, but don’t make that assumption.

Most visitors will walk around the entire trade show/expo. You’ll get a chance at making a connection wherever you are. So don’t stress about it. (And if you wait until the last minute you can get some really good discounts from the organisers!)

2. Say hi to everyone who walks past. Everyone. (And every time they walk past)

There’s a fine line between looking desperate, and being friendly and approachable.

But the simple act of saying hi has a profound psychological effect.

It taps in to a basic human need – the need for connection.   In response, most will turn and give your posters and branding a chance to speak to them.

3. Bring your hottest employees

Everyone likes a bit of eye candy at trade shows and expos. If they know your product inside out, all the better.

4. Minimise your branding, maximise the benefits you are offering

This may be hard to hear, but no-one really cares about your brand.  They only care about themselves and if you can help them.

So don’t make the classic mistake of branding the background of your booth with huge logos. The trick is to write benefit driven headlines and bullet points.

The purpose is to give walkers-by a snapshot of what you do so they can decide if they need your services.  This way, you get  the visitors who want the benefits you state in your headline and bullet points, to stop and talk to you, and everyone else walks away.

Good! That’s what you want!

5. Write notes on business cards as you collect them

Write a few notes on the back of prospects business cards to remind you who they are later.

You could record your impressions about how likely they are to become clients.

And for bonus points, write a note about what they told you about their business to jog your memory later, so you can personalise your follow up email to them.

6. Don’t just require a business card for the prize draw, have an entry form

This is a common mistake.

You think that just asking people to pop a business card into the fish bowl or entry box is easy right?

Yes, it’s easy for them, but it’s hard for you.

It’s hard for you to determine if those prospects are real candidates for new business.

It’s hard for you to avoid wasting time on those that aren’t.

So on your entry form (A6 size, in pads bound with plastic coils work really well) have space to staple their business card to the form (and provide a stapler), and ask them filtering questions about their needs.

For example “what brand of accounting software are you currently using?” (if you sell accounting software), “how many employees to you have” (if you are selling HR services), “what’s the #1 annoying thing about xyz?”

There is nothing worse than drawing the winner to find someone completely unsuited to being a client of yours.  What a waste!

In fact, I suggest you go through the entries and throw the unsuitable entries in the bin before you do the draw.

7. What should the prize for the prize draw be?

You could go with a voucher for discounts on your services, or you could go with something with a much wider appeal like an iphone.

I say cast the net wide by offering the later, and let your entry form do the filtering for you.

8. Follow up super-fast

Of all these tips, this one is the most important.

Have a follow-up plan in place before you go.

For example if it’s a 3 day trade show or expo, that night from your hotel, email the new contacts you made, just to say hi (you can sell to them later, this time you just want to stand out from the hundreds of people they met that day).  Or you might email the contact details to a staff member for sending out the next morning (using your email address).

One time I got a text message from an business banking rep just to say he enjoyed meeting me – within 5 minutes of leaving his booth! That made a huge impression.

What tips do you have to add?

Have you been to trade shows and expo’s? As an exhibitor? As a visitor? What have you seen or done that worked?  Write your thoughts in the comments below.

Need a Better Radio Ad? 4 Tips To Improve Your Radio Advertising

In a moment I will share with you 4 tips on how to write a radio ad that actually works. But first, I want you to think about radio advertising from your point of view as a member of the audience.

Q: Why do you listen to the radio?

  • Music?
  • Witty Commentary?
  • Advertising?
  • Because you like hearing the same weather report and news headlines every 15 minutes?

Q: Where are you when you listen to the radio?

  • In the car?
  • On your morning run or bike ride?
  • In the office?
  • On the toilet?

Q: What do you do when the ads come on?

  • Change the radio station?
  • “Zone out” while you wait for the music or chat to start again?
  • Listen carefully for the latest sales and bargains?

You can see that there are a million potential distractions that can prevent your advertising message getting through to your radio audience.

And radio is a mass-media form of advertising after-all, so there is a huge amount of wastage (I hate wastage!).

Your potential audience could be 10,000 people, but how many of those people are:

  1. Listening attentively…
  2. at that precise moment in time…
  3. that need what you are selling…
  4. and are motivated enough to take action?

Probably none.

If you ask a radio advertising sales person what it takes to generate business for you using radio advertising, they will tell you there are 2 things you need:

  1. High repetition/frequency
  2. Say your brand name heaps

That is complete bullocks!

They say “repetition” because they want you to buy more ads.

They say “brand name” because that’s what your boss is more likely to approve the ad because he loves to hear his brand name again and again.

As you can probably tell by now, I am not a fan of radio advertising and haven’t recommended it to any of my clients for years.  I’ve tried it several times, but it didn’t generate any results.

And if you’re not getting results from your advertising (or you don’t know how to measure them), then what’s the point? You might as well flush your advertising dollars down the toilet!

But this morning, whilst running, I heard a radio ad that had all the elements of success going for it.

I heard this radio ad once and I remembered these 4 important facts:

  1. The name of the business owner
  2. What he is offering
  3. How he distinguishes himself from the competition
  4. What should you do next if you want to contact him or find out more

Do you realise how amazing that is?  After a single exposure?

So what can we learn from this?

What do you have to do to write a radio ad like this that at least has a chance at generating results for you?

Here is your lesson for the day:

4 Essential Components of a Radio Ad

1. Target your audience with your opening sentence

The opening sentence is exactly like a headline in a newspaper. If you don’t like the headline you don’t read the article.  It’s the same with radio ads.  If the opening sentence doesn’t speak to you, you “zone out” and don’t listen to the rest of the ad.  At first, you might think that’s bad, but that’s great!  It means you speaking to your target audience directly, and people who aren’t interested are being filtered out.

2. Use the word “you” through-out your ad

This is just like speed dating.  You only have 30 seconds, so do you talk about yourself or do you talk about them?

You talk about them of course!

Don’t make the mistake of talking about you and your business “we do this, and we do that”. Borrrr-ring!

What do people care about more: themselves or what you are trying to sell them?

Themselves!

So talk about the listener, what they want, what they need, and use “you” and “your” constantly.

3. Distinguish yourself with a single fact

You’ve only got time to state 1 fact.

The amazing thing about this is that is the fact doesn’t have to be overly impressive, it just has to be distinctive.

In this example, Aaron said he was “one of NZ’s youngest celebrants”.  Amazing? No. Distinctive? Yes!

4. Make the call to action a website address

The #1 most common mistake in radio ads is stating a phone number as the call-to-action.

Phone numbers are too hard to remember! (Even word numbers eg 0800 CALL ME NOW). They might rattle around in your brain for a few seconds, but you know that by the time you find a piece of paper and a pen (or your cellphone), they will be gone. So you don’t bother.

A website address works because is probably uses the same brand name that was mentioned in the ad with a “.com” on the end of it. Easy to remember. Easy for your audience to type in when they next get to a computer (or remember days or weeks later!)

What do you think?

Have your say in the comments below.

Miniature Billboard Advertising: Give It A Try With These 4 Tips

Whilst driving downtown yesterday I spotted tiny billboards strapped to street light polls and road signage opposite a High School.

4 Lessons You Can Learn From These Guerilla Miniature Billboards

What can you learn from this clever “guerilla” method of advertising? Could you replicate this strategy for your business?

1. Do it cheap.

  • They are made of the core-flute just like real estate signs.
  • There is no graphics.
  • You could get them made for about $10 each.
  • Budget looking can be very effective. When you get junk mail in your letterbox at home do the crappy hand-written flyers get your attention first before the sleek professional KFC flyers? For sure.

2. Keep your message simple.

  • Mountain bikers know what “MTB” means so this headline captures the target audiences attention.
  • On a full size 6m x 3m billboard your word limit is about 11. So in this case you have about 5 words.
  • What simple 4 or 5 word headline can you use to cut through to your target audience?

3. Choose a single call-to-action.

  • In this case, you just visit the website if the headline “MTB Downhill Racing” appeals to you.
  • The website address is related to the headline so it’s reasonably easy to remember.
  • On a website you can state 5 or 6 different ways to contact you, on a miniature billboard you must choose just one.
  • A website address is very good. A phone number could work but many people prefer to check you out anonymously via a website rather than call a number and get “sold to”.

4. Repeat your message.

  • Normally you don’t get the chance to repeat a standard 6m x 3m billboard 20 metres down the road, because it’ll double your costs.  So you are only giving your billboard one chance to be read as your potential customers zoom past at 50 kph or 100 kph.
  • In this case there were 3 miniature billboards about 20 metres apart.
  • I didn’t really notice the first, but I quickly read the second, and I read the third carefully.
  • It made an impression that a single exposure would not have.
  • In fact, I turned my car around and stopped on the side of the road, took some photos, wrote this article and visited the website mentioned. That’s the magic of repetition.

“Great, but are these billboards legal?”

Probably not. Your local Council probably has a bylaw which prohibits this sort of guerilla advertising.

If they get a complaint from the public (or your competition!), the council will take them down for sure (you probably won’t even get fined!).

But until then, you’ve got yourself some very cheap and effective advertising, so go for it!

What do you think?

Have your say in the comments below.

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life by Scott Adams

Here are my notes on “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life” by Scott Adamsg-and-Still-Win-Big-Scott-Adams

Scott Adams is the author of the world famous Dilbert comic strip that make fun of life in an office cubicle.

Like his comic strip, this book is certainly amusing. He is a great story teller in super-short-form comics in which he has only a few panels, and in this long-form book in which he has hundreds of pages.

He has led an interesting life, and tells those stories and the lessons he learnt, but even more interestingly, he shares several counter-intuitive ideas that I’d like to share with you today. Continue reading “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life by Scott Adams”

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World by Gary Vaynerchuk

Here are my notes on the book “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World” by Gary Vaynerchuk1002029_10151895114248227_228094411_n-1

For me, I got 3 things out of this book:

  1. I got a simple introduction into the major social media platforms all in one place
  2. I got a simple explanation of how they all work and, more importantly, how they are different from each other
  3. I got dozens of examples of best practice and many examples of poor usage

    • To be honest, I found this part a bit confusing at times – it was hard to tell the difference between examples Gary liked and those he didn’t!

Continue reading “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World by Gary Vaynerchuk”

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

power-of-less-e1394503989145I’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 Continue reading “The Power of Less: The 6 Essential Productivity Principles That Will Change Your Life by Leo Babauta”

Time To Threaten Debt Collection or Court Action?

Does this sound familiar?

  • You’ve been demanding payment via email/phone/txt for months now and you’re sick of asking?
  • Is the money not important to you anymore, you just want to teach this scumbag a lesson?
  • On the odd occasion they do respond to your messages they say “the money is on the way” but it never arrives?
  • You have been thinking about threatening debt collection and maybe even court action?

squeaky-wheelYou’ve heard the saying “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”?

In this case, it means that being persistent and annoying gets attention and action.

But have you heard the saying “the angry wheel gets replaced”?

You must keep all your contact with the person who owes you money either neutral or friendly. You can whinge and moan about them all you like to your friends (if they can stand it), but don’t let any anger show through in your messages to your client.

Humans are very receptive to other peoples emotions.

  • The best way to cheer up a glum friend is to have fun with them and be happy around them
  • The best way to make a sitcom audience think the show is funny is to play canned laughter after every joke
  • The best way to ensure you never get paid is to let the person who owes you money just how angry you are.

It makes them angry, indignant, prideful and attacks their self-esteem.

It hurts.

And the way to hurt you back is to continue to withhold your money from you.

So keep your cool, and just ask for your money in a civil, friendly tone.

Being annoying and persistent is absolutely fine. Be that squeaky wheel. They will be motivated to get rid of an annoyance by paying you what you’re owed.

Being angry, will only hurt their feelings and make them angry. They’ll hurt you back by not paying.

“Should I Hire A Debt Collection Agency?”

old-lady-collection-agencyAre you wondering if you should hire a debt collection agency to collect an overdue payment on your behalf?

Don’t bother.

You may like to think they have magical abilities to reach into your x-clients bank account and withdraw funds, but not even the government has the power to do that.

Collection Agencies use the same techniques you can use yourself:

  • Emails
  • Phonecalls
  • Official looking letters
  • Persistence

So save yourself the fees (often 25% – 50% of what they will collect for you), and follow this simple process for getting overdue invoices paid.

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

517VifzS24L._SX396_BO1,204,203,200_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 the book yourself in your entirety because you are bound to find different sections more relevant to you.

My notes on Value-Based Fees: How to Charge – and Get – What You’re Worth by Alan Weiss Continue reading “Value-Based Fees: How to Charge, and Get, What You’re Worth by Alan Weiss”

Remote: Office Not Required by Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson

remote-officeFrom this book I’ve just pulled out sections that were of particular interest to me.

I don’t have a huge amount of notes because I worked from home for 3.5 years and in a co-working space for the last 14 months so I’m very much aware of the pros and cons of not working in a traditional office.

For the bigger picture on the office vs remote worker movement, I encourage you to read the book in it’s entirety.

My notes on Remote: Office Not Required by Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson Continue reading “Remote: Office Not Required by Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson”

Tauranga City: The First Truly Digital City of New Zealand?

  • What does digital mean to you?
  • What does a digital city look and feel like?
  • Do we want this for Tauranga? Why?
  • Is a digital city attractive to work, live and play in?
  • What is the councils role?
  • What is the citizens role?

These are some of the questions that a small group of passionate Taurangians discussed last week.

The Tauranga City Council council has gone through massive leadership change in the last few months:

  1. A vastly different elected council
  2. Completely different managers appointed to the council departments

There is a perception that councils are:

  • Slow to progress and evolve
  • Bureaurcratic, policy driven and paperwork generating
  • Where innovation and entrepreneurial thinking is discouraged

But after the discussion last week I now see the council differently.

(15 of us attended, about a third of us were TCC employees/managers from a variety of departments, and the remainder was made up of entrepreneurs/small business owners/employees.)

One major take-away for me was that I don’t see a bureaucratic, nameless, faceless blob anymore.

Instead, I see a large team of individuals that care deeply about Tauranga and it’s future. Many of whom are open to new ideas, have an “open door policy”, and want to see new projects and initiatives get off the ground.

So, can we just hold out our hands and make demands?

No.

That’s what a baby/child does who is totally dependent on others.

We are adults, we are citizens.

Either join team Tauranga, or pack up and go live elsewhere.

What is the Citizens Role In A Digital City?

  • We can bring new ideas to the table and they’ll get to the right people in council to look at
  • We can debate the use of council funds and it’s prioritisation of projects
  • We can start new events, new projects, new initiatives and ask the council for help by donating people for committees, or getting the word out, or by donating public space, or even by bending ancient rules

What Does A Digital Savvy City Look/Feel Like?

1. Where Dialogue is Many-to-Many

  • Where its easy to dialogue between council to citizen, citizen to citizen
  • Where council blogs have comments turned on instead of turned off for fear of unpleasant/difficult discussions
  • It doesn’t have to be top-down communication that adds admin overhead. Many citizens would be quick to defend against attacks from trolls

2. Where A Strong Brand Forces Ancient Connotations Out

  • We have these out-of-date associations that we need to shake off: “retirement village”, “fruit growers”, “$10 Tauranga”
  • A new, strong brand can drive these associations out, so that’s our opportunity
  • Should the brand development be outsourced to an agency or crowd-sourced from it’s citizens (or both?)

3. Where Technology Makes Meeting Face-to-Face Even Easier

  • Would it be attractive to Auckland based employers to have remote-workers living/working from Tauranga if we had frictionless booking of offices/meeting rooms?
  • Free, high speed wifi / mobile broadband seems an obvious starting point
  • Interesting meeting spaces such as “maker-spaces” with 3D printers, robotics, gene sequencing

What Are We Waiting For?

  • Hardware?
    • No. It’s cheap, or it’s high-powered and in your pocket
  • Software?
    • No. It’s free or cheap per month, and it’s everywhere you have an internet connection
  • People?
    • No. All we need are passionate people that are curious and inquisitive, that have a collaborative mindset, not a competitive one

So let’s get started.

What’s Next?

This is new territory for all of us, and this meeting was just the first step.

The next step is to meet again in the new year and bounce more ideas around.

None of us are happy with discussion that goes round and round in circles and fails to deliver action, so expect the next meeting to be about determining what actions councils and citizens need to take next to have the future we want.

To join the invitation list email pip.loader@tauranga.govt.nz or sheldon@marketingfirst.co.nz.

Our notes were captured on a whiteboard and collated into this 2 page document: Download it now (97Kb .pdf)

 

Marketing Ebooks: All 4 Of My Marketing Ebooks Are Now Free

The most important thing for every author is that their work will be read and appreciated.

Every sale, every download, every note of appreciation, is exciting and fulfilling.

At first I thought writing books was about making money too, but now I realise it isn’t.

It’s about spreading ideas, and having an opinion, and being useful to people.

That’s why my books are now free.

I’m not even going to ask for your email address before you can download them.

I just want the ideas in these books to be useful to you.

Sheldon Nesdale’s 4 Marketing eBooks (Now Free)

  1. “What 67 of the Best Business Books in the World Have to Teach You”
  2. “How Smart Marketing Can Turn Your One-Man-Band Business Into A Cash Machine”
  3. “How New Zealand’s Cafe’s, Restaurant’s & Bar’s Can Best Use The Internet To Attract New Customers And Encourage Existing Customers To Return”
  4. “How to Optimise Your New Zealand Website for Search Engines”

Chasing Unpaid Invoices? Don’t Make These 3 Mistakes

3-mistakesChasing unpaid invoices is a delicate business.

Do it the right way, and you get paid what you’re owed. Yay!

Do it the wrong way and you’ll ruin opportunities for future business. Boo!

Consequences Of Demanding Payment For Overdue Invoices The Wrong Way

  1. You might annoy customers enough that they switch to one of your competitors. That’s lost future income for you.
  2. A client that is a huge fan of yours right now may stop singing your praises if they were forgetful once and you racked them through the coals with your angry demands for payment.

3 Mistakes Not To Make When Chasing Unpaid Invoices

1. Never stamp your statements with an OVERDUE! stamp before you send them out.

2. Never assume they have received any of your reminders so far.

  • If you do assume they have seen your payment reminders you will get angry and your resentment will build up and up with every message you send.
  • Bad idea.
  • Consider the slate clear with every communication.
  • That way, your tone will be light and cheerful instead of dark and sinister

3. Never let 30 days or 60 days go by without you taking any action at all.

  • Train your clients on your expectations by acting fast when invoices are overdue only by a few days.
  • If you let it slide 30 or 60 days you are teaching them (and yourself) bad habits
  • As soon as you notice an overdue invoice, take action that instant

What Do You Think?

What other mistakes have you made in the past, or heard about, that you can share in the comments below?

Should You Threaten To Charge Interest On Overdue Invoices?

Who do you think you are? A bank?

Leave the interest charging game to the banks.

Charging interest on overdue invoices gives your clients 2 choices:

  1. Pay the invoice
  2. Not pay the invoice (and start accumulating interest which they are pretty sure they can weasel out of with a phone call I they can be bothered)

Why give them 2 choices when you really want them to only take option 1 to save you (and them) all the extra hassle?

Focus on your goal: To get paid.

Charging interest on overdue invoices is a distraction from that goal.

Automated Payment Reminders: Useful For Getting Late Invoices Paid?

Take a moment to picture your email inbox in your mind and imagine 10 or so unopened emails.

Now take a moment to consider the order in which you will open them.

Does the following order look about right?:

  1. Emails from people you know
  2. Emails from people you don’t know
  3. Emails from robots (email newsletters, automated emails)

The problem with automated payment reminders is that they are easy to identify as belonging in the 3rd category. And since it’s clear that there isn’t another person on the other end awaiting a response, they are also easy to ignore and/or trash.

friendly-robotTell-tale signs of an automated email:

  • The “from” field is not a persons name but a department or brand instead
  • The “via” field is routed through a 3rd party email provider
  • The language and tone of the body of the email is more formal than normal emails written by people
  • There is no email signature from a real person at the bottom of the email

To increase the chances of getting those late invoices paid, all you have to do is dump the automated reminders in favour of the personal touch.

 

Issue Invoices Sooner To Get Paid Sooner. Obvious?

Do you invoice at the end of the month?

Yes?

So you’re telling me that work you do on the 1st of the month gets invoiced on the 30th of the month and you ask for payment by the 20th of the following month?

That’s 50 days that money you are owed is in someone elses bank account.

And longer if that invoice is paid late of course.

It’s no wonder you have cash flow problems.

How about invoicing as you complete the work and have the invoice due within 7 days?

That would be 7 days before getting paid instead of 50.

Sound good?

Own An Overdue Stamp? Throw It Away Today You Silly Goose

overdue-stamp

If you own an overdue stamp then I have good news for you because today you are going to free up that drawer space or deskspace for something else.

By the end of this short article you are going to throw it in the trash because you won’t need it anymore.

First, imagine yourself as an accounts payable clerk sitting quietly at your desk with a pile of email or mail in front of you.

You open the first envelope/email and the document has a big red “OVERDUE” stamp that is shouting at you.

You feel like you were just slapped in the face with a wet fish.

Is that anyway to treat the person who is going to pay you?

It is a deep insult. It is shouting out “You are crap at your job! Paying invoices is easy but somehow you screwed it up! Wow, you really suck!”

That’s a great way to get your invoice shoved to the bottom of the pile because that’s their way of asserting their control over you after you insulted them. They don’t expect to hear from you for another 30 days anyway.

What you really want is for that invoice to be paid, right?

Using an overdue stamp will not help you achieve that goal.

So throw away your “OVERDUE” stamp now and find out how to get late invoices paid.

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout

51b7BzdnqLL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_This book is very old now: 1994, but much of the advice is still pretty good.

It’s a very easy read – each of the 22 chapters are only a couple of pages each. It’s not available on Kindle which is annoying but there are a few pdf versions floating around.

I found the notes of Chris Anuman which were better than mine so that’s what you’ll see below.

I also came across a very interesting series of articles arguing that these laws are overturned in the present day that’s worth a look at.

My notes (Chris Anuman’s notes actually) on The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout Continue reading “The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout”

Overdue Invoices? Simple Tips To Ensure Your Clients Pay On Time, Every Time. No More Overdue Invoices

  • Did you know that poor cashflow is the #1 killer of small businesses world-wide?
  • 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?
  • Are your invoices due on the 20th of the month but sometimes they don’t get paid until much later? Sometimes 60 days or 90 days?

Well you’re in luck, because today I’m going to tell you how I get the following results:

  • 89.6% of my clients pay on time (within 7 days)
  • 9.4% of my clients pay within 7 days past due
  • 1% don’t pay at all, but only because they go bankrupt (no fault of mine, I assure you)
  • I’ve never needed to use a collection agency

Here’s how you can get results like that:

4 Ways to Ensure Your Customers/Clients Pay On Time, Every Time

1. Change your terms to 7 days

Do it.

Right now.

Send out an email to warn everyone that it starts this week.

When your terms are 7 days your clients will file your invoices right under their accounts-payable-clerks nose for immediate attention.

Invoices that are due 20th of the month are so easy to ignore, or postpone, or forget about, or get lost.

“But my client’s accounting system can’t handle paying within 7 days!

Bullshit!

Ask nicely for an exception.

I’ve been paid within 7 days from Government Departments, City Councils and District Health Boards. Their policy is to pay 20th of the following month but they all made an exception for me because I asked for it.

2. Email your invoices instead of posting them

Ask for the accounts-payable-clerks email address and email them directly (and cc your contact at the company too).

No more posting. This slows things down far too much. And with 7 day terms, 3 of those days are used up in printing/delivery.

Don’t know how to convert your invoices to PDF? You don’t need Adobe Acrobat Professional (NZ$600!), just download 1 of hundreds of free/cheap PDF writers (they install as “virtual printers”).

3. Stop sending statements with OVERDUE stamps on them

Receiving a statement with a big red overdue stamps on it is like slapping your client in the face with a wet fish.

Acutally, it’s like slapping the accounts-payable-clerk in the face with a wet fish because your contact at the company will probably not even see this document.

Why would you treat the person who is going to pay you like this?

It is a deep insult. It is shouting out “You are crap at your job! Paying invoices is easy but somehow you screwed it up! Wow, you really suck!”

If you sent me a statement with a big red, angry overdue stamp on it, I would purposely not pay you just to piss you off.

4. Within a few days of the invoice being overdue, email a reminder

Send the following reminder to the accounts-payable-clerk and copy in your contact at the company too.

With these exact words: “Hi Bob, I just noticed invoice #1234 is a few days overdue. Would you like an extension?”.

That’s it.

Short.

To the point.

No waffle.

Notice the first part “I just noticed”? This lets them know that you know it’s overdue. It lets them know you are watching. Now they know that you know.

And notice how it ends with an open ended question?

I could have said “Let me know if you need an extension.” But this isn’t as powerful, because it isn’t a question. It’s weak. Don’t use it.

The magic of asking a yes/no question like “Would you like an extension?” is that people instantly form a response in their heads once they’ve read it.

There are two possible answers. Yes, and No.

Most of the time they are too proud to email you back and say “yes, could we have until the end of the month please?” (although some do, and that’s perfect fine, now you have a new due date to work with).

So they will think “no” in their head. “No, I don’t need an extension, I’m going to pay this today to show them how in control I am of my finances!”. You might not get an email response from these people but the payment will turn up in your bank account the next day.

Why this method works so well

You must stick to this schedule because this is how you train your clients. It lets them know what your expectations of them are, and they quickly learn what to expect from you next time.

If you ease up, that’s when it slips away and you’ll spend more time chasing overdue invoices and less time serving clients.

What if you still don’t get paid?

Wait another 7 days and send this email (and attach the invoice): “Hi Bob, could you check on invoice #1234 for me please? It is now a few weeks overdue. Would you like a further extension?”

What if you still don’t get paid?

Wait another 7 days and send this email (and attach the invoice): “Hi Bob, Invoice #1234 is now 4 weeks overdue. May I have payment today please or would you like a further extension?”

What if you still don’t get paid?

Wait 30 days and then email them every day with a variation like this:

  • “Hi Bob, just checking on invoice #1234, may I have payment today please, or would you like a further extension?”
  • “Hi Bob, could you have another look at invoice #1234 please. Could you arrange payment today please, or would you like a further extension?”
  • “Hi Bob, I just wanted to check on your payment for invoice #1234. Could you make that payment today please, or would you like a further extension?”
  • “Hi Bob, I was hoping to hear from you by now. May I have payment on invoice #1234 today please, or would you like a further extension?”

The key is to not get angry. Keep your tone respectful and calm. Don’t acknowledge that you are being ignored.

“Why not just pick up the phone and call them?”

Because emailing saves face. It’s embarrassing to make a call to ask someone to pay, and its even more embarrassing to receive one. Email creates a comfort zone.

“What if they do ask for an extension?”

Fantastic! That is a great outcome. It’s not as good as getting paid, but it is pretty close.

Remember, they have chosen the new due date, you didn’t choose it for them. So reset your reminders and as soon as that new due date lapses without payment, repeat the process outlined above.

“This seems like a lot of work, is it really worth it?”

Once you have set expectations using the suggestions above, very few clients will progress to the daily harassment stage.

“How about I just use a collection agency instead?”

No. It’s your problem. It’s your fault for not training your clients properly. You deal with it.

What do you think about this advice?

What tips do you have for dealing with late invoices? Tell your story in the comments below.

Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think by Peter H. Diamandis, Steven Kotler

This book was pretty darn amazing.51wCZoVxdSL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

I’m already a pretty optimistic guy but this book backed up that optimism with facts and reasoning. Fantastic stuff.

My favourite quote was “In today’s hyperlinked world, solving problems anywhere, solves problems everywhere.”

Let’s start with the table of contents because you might spot areas that interest you that you might like to know more about (I do encourage you to get this book, it’s only $15 on Kindle).

After that I’m just going to share my favourite parts of the book.

My notes on Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think by Peter H. Diamandis, Steven Kotler. Continue reading “Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think by Peter H. Diamandis, Steven Kotler”

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

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

Buy this book now from Amazon

Chapter 1: The Method

The process using the acronym STRONG:

  • Setting the frame
  • Telling the story
  • Revealing the intrigue
  • Offering the prize
  • Nailing the hookpoint
  • Getting a decision

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

Advertising: “But What Advertising Methods Will Work For MY Business?”

You might have read my list of 62 ways to advertise, but are these 2 questions on your mind right now?:

  1. Am I wasting money on the advertising I’m doing now?
  2. Which advertising methods will work for my business?

The advice you get when you ask this question will change depending on the incentives of the person you are asking.

Have you noticed that?

If you ask a Yellow Pages Sales Rep for their opinion they’ll say “Yellow Pages advertising”.

If you ask a website designer they’ll say “a new website”.

Those are just opinions and they don’t matter. The only opinion that matters is your clients.

The best way to find out is to ask new clients the question “how did you hear about us?”. (You might choose to tuck their answer away in your brain, or a more formal way of recording their response).

But how do you choose advertising to try in the first place?

“Try” is the keyword there. It’s an experiment. Your mission is to try a variety of methods and test and measure the results. Discard the methods that don’t produce results and raise the investments in the methods that do, with more refinement as you go.

I’ll give you a few examples in a moment, but first, are you trying hard enough to measure the effectiveness of advertising you do?

Perhaps not. Here’s a list of advertising methods and some ways of measuring the results they generate.

5 Advertising Methods and How to Measure The Results They Generate

  • TV Advertising: Purchase a new 0800 number unique to that advertisement. Count the calls, and multiple your conversion rate with your average sale price
  • Newspaper Advertising: Add a “how did you hear about us” field to your enquiry form on your website
  • Google Adwords: Install the tracking code onto your “Thank You” page after customers download a document, or subscribe, or purchase, or fill in a contact form
  • Yellow Pages: Purchase a new website address unique to that advertisement. Count the clicks
  • Radio Advertising: Purchase a unique local phone number and count the calls

What works for you will be completely different to other business and perhaps even your competitors.

Your business is unique so your “marketing mix” should be unique too.

It’s up to you to find the right combination of message and medium that works for your business. Don’t leave those decisions to smooth talking sales reps.

3 Examples of Business And What Advertising Works For Them

Example 1: What works for a client that runs a Business Management Course:

  • 173 word text-based ads in community newspapers
  • Google Adwords
  • A website that converts visitors into enquiries

Example 2: What works for a client that sells custom branded water bottles:

  • Generating lists of business owners to call and picking up the phone and calling them
  • 1400 word plain-text email proposals
  • Google search traffic for certain phrases
  • A website that converts visitors into enquiries

Example 3: What works for a marketing coach (me):

  • Writing 200+ blog articles that ask marketing related questions and provide answers that establish credibility and trust

But before you write a short list of advertising you’d like to try next, re-examine your content and your message.

Answering these 5 questions will help.

6 Questions To Ask Yourself To Help You Write Better Advertising

  1. What goals do you have for your career?
  2. What goals do you have for your business?
  3. If you could waive a magic wand, what 10 clients would you like have?
  4. For these clients, what problems are you solving for them?
  5. Why did they choose you?
  6. How can you feed their problems (and your solutions) back into your advertising?

What’s Next?

Google Calendar: How To Duplicate An Appointment

I’ve been using Google Calendar for many years, but I only recently found this function, and now I couldn’t live without it.

How to duplicate an appointment in Google Calendar

  1. Go into the details of the appointment you want to copy
  2. Along the top buttons there is a dropdown labelled “More Actions”
  3. Choose “Duplicate Event” from this list

Here’s a screenshot:

duplicate

This function is especially handy when you need to repeat an appointment with a large number of invited guests.

Useful?

A surprise to you?

Let me know in the comments below.

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

I’m a huge fan of Google Calendar.

I even switched my reluctant wife over to it rather than her diary book, and now she loves it too.

If you use Google Calendar and you use it to invite people to appointments and events, you need to occasionally cancel appointments, right?

Well, you’ll know that you get two options when you hit the delete button:

  1. Delete and Notify guests
  2. Delete but do not notify guests

And my question was, “if I do not notify guests, does the calendar appointment get sneakily removed from their calendar without them knowing?”.

And after an experiment today, I can confirm this is true.

Steps in the Google Calendar experiment:

  1. I invited a friend to an appointment next week
  2. He accepted the invitation which added the appointment to his calendar
  3. I deleted the appointment and selected “do not notify guests”
  4. He did not receive any messages at all, but when he checked that time slot, the appointment had magically disappeared!

I wouldn’t use this technique for one-off appointments because it’s good to give guests a heads-up, but this could be useful in a series of re-occurring appointments when you need to cherry pick certain ones to cancel well ahead of time.

Imagine you have a series of weekly appointments and you need to cancel appointment number 10. If you choose to notify them of the cancellation, they receive the cancellation email, and they assume it is the very next appointment that is being cancelled (i.e. appointment number 1), which causes a lot of confusion.

That’s happened to me several times, has that happened to you?

Well now we both know how to handle it. 🙂

Useful?

Interesting?

Let me know in the comments below.

TEDx Auckland 2013: 17 Hours of Awesomeness

TEDxAuckland ran from 10am to 5.30pm on 3 Aug 2013: 7.5 hours of awesomeness.

the-edge-hero-438x242

But my day started at 6am because I drove up from Tauranga for it, and got back home at 11pm.

I’m still counting the 8.5 hours of waiting and driving because those were all awesome too. I was either talking to my car buddies Michelle Herrick and Lisa Martin-Payne about our businesses, family, lives, dreams and aspirations. Or,  chatting to new people we met during the day and catching up with friends.

I’ve been watching TED videos for a few years now (3-5 a week), but to have the speakers right in front of you, really engages your other senses and drives the content and their message into you.

This was not an accident. It’s my philosophy that 50% of the value of any event/seminar/conference/expo you go to is the content you are exposed to, and 50% the people you meet before, after, and during the breaks.

Also, having just run my own TEDxTauranga event in the same week, I made a point of spending some time with the TEDxTeAro (DK) and TEDxChCh (Kimberley) organisers comparing notes.

On to the TED talks.

I have broken the 17 speakers into 3 sections:

  1. Freakin’ Awesome
  2. Awesome
  3. Somewhat Awesome

Don’t take my rankings too seriously. The magic of a TEDx event is that there is variety built-in so that the person next to you can enjoy the exact opposite talks that you enjoy.

5 Freakin’ Awesome Speakers at TEDx Auckland

1. Jimi Hunt

  • Jimi Hunt is an inspiration. This guy built the world longest waterslide in a field near Auckland this year. Epic
  • “Doing amazing stuff alone can’t be done – ask for help”
  • “Bite off more than you can chew (and then chew like hell)” – Peter Brock
  • “People are inherently good & want to help each other out”
  • “We are not alone in this world, we are a team, so start acting like it, ask for help”
  • When his first waterslide test failed miserably: “I cried. Not big soppy sissy tears, just manly ones”
  • Lesson for me: Dream big. Set a date. Ask for help.
  • Jimi Hunt is founder of the depression charity Live More Awesome, author of A Bit Mental and the only person silly enough to lilo the Waikato River. A sufferer of depression, Jimi aims to inspire people by doing the ridiculous – like building the world’s biggest waterslide – using these initiatives to help others with depression and raise awareness of New Zealand’s massive problem of depression, all while keeping himself sane.
  • Web: www.WorldsBiggestWaterSlide.com

2. Malcolm Rands

  • Malcolm Rands is a freakin genius.
  • Malcolm shared his strategy for getting awesome stuff done (like filling the mainstreet of Whangarei with snow from Mount Ruapehu for the kids to play in, most of whom had never seen snow)
  • His formula: Establish an organisation >> raise your own salary with funding/grants/sponsors >> Do epic stuff >> Repeat
  • He believes that ethical business is the future of the world, but for his Eco-store brand, products that help the environment isn’t enough, it’s also got to cost the same and work the same as the mainstream alternatives
  • He spoke briefly about “The Futureproof Neighbourhood” which is where “bump spaces” are planned in so you meet your neighbours
  • Lesson for me: I am happy to continue to donate hundreds of hours per year to the events I organise, but I should also watch for ways to get paid
  • Malcolm Rands is co-founder of ecostore, New Zealand’s leading range of eco-friendly household products. While initially sold by mail order, ecostore now has over 100 products in its range with products stocked in supermarkets in New Zealand, Australia, the United States and in outlets in parts of Asia. Malcolm has been active in the sustainable scene for over 25 years, co-founding New Zealand’s first permaculture eco-village in 1986 and was a foundation member of the New Zealand Sustainable Business Network.

3. Brian Sweeney

  • Brian has created an excellent summary of his TEDxAuckland talk on his website, but here are my notes.
  • There were 3 parts of his talk that really stood out to me:
    1. “Punctuated Equlibrium”
    2. List of NZ Heros
    3. How to re-frame negative phrases about NZ
  • “Punctuated Equilibrium” is an evolutionary theory which suggests that human advancement happens on the edge of the species in small populations. He identified New Zealand as being on the edge of the earth, and we do have a small population so that explains why we are so awesome! That made sense to me because my observation that our level of awesomeness per capita is the highest in the world.
  • He has an amazing list of NZ Heroes on his website NZEdge.com. Some I had heard of, many others I had not. I want to be on that list one day! Perhaps my way in is to displace Harold Williams who was fluent in 58 languages. I could simply learn 59 and replace him on the list!
  • How to re-frame negative phrases about NZ. This was excellent stuff. 3 quick examples:
    1. “From a Brain Drain, to a Network. We’ve mapped New Zealanders who live in over a thousand locations internationally. A thousand points of lights.”
    2. “From Tall Poppies to New Zealand Legends. The anthropologist Margaret Mead said that ‘It is New Zealand’s role to send out its bright young men and women to help run the world.'”
    3. “From New Zealanders as Consumers to New Zealanders as Exporters. Economically we have an Export or Die paradigm.

  • Lesson for me: NZ’s awesomeness is not just a shared perception, it’s a reality, and my obligation as part of this community is to help the awesomeness along
  • Brian Sweeney is the New York-based Chairman of SweeneyVesty, a global corporate communications company founded in Wellington in 1987 with Jane Vesty. He is dedicated to the idea of New Zealand exporting its services, innovation and creativity, and to the related positioning and communications New Zealand must undertake to be competitive globally.
  • Webwww.nzedge.com

4. Dale Williams

  • Dale is the Mayor of Otorohanga (which means “food for a long journey”) with a population of 2700
  • This town has zero grafiti, zero vandalism, and zero unemployed aged 25 years old since 2006
  • These amazing results were possible because Dale asked the towns people the right questions. Questions like:
    • What are our towns problems and how can the community work together to solve them?
    • What do local employers want in apprentices/employees?
    • How do we teach students those skills to those standards?
    • How can we guide students into work and ensure they keep those jobs?
    • How should we celebrate achievement?
  • For example, they call high school leavers every 14 days until they have a plan in place
  • They call those who have gone to other cities for university every 6 months and remind them “we’ve got your back whereever you are”
  • What great questions. What amazing results. What a freaken legend. A true inspiration.
  • Lesson for me: Ask great questions. Identify problems. Hunt down solutions together
  • Dale Williams is Mayor of Otorohanga and Chair of the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs. A certified motorcycle engineer by trade, Dale has first-hand experience launching and growing successful motorcycle dealerships and training young people through apprenticeship programs. Passionate about helping young people achieve the best career outcomes for their personal circumstances, Dale is an advocate of non-academic vocational pathways, realising that not all young people are suited to tertiary education.
  • Webwww.Otorohanga.co.nz

5. Helen Clark: “Yes We Can: Women & Leadership”

  • I’m just so darn proud of Helen Clark. The first woman Prime Minister of NZ who held the position for 9 years / 3 terms from 1999 to 2008 and now the #3 spot in the UN as Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). What a woman!
  • She went through an impressive list of achievements in her time as PM that we take for granted now but that she fought hard for:
    • Foundation of Kiwibank
    • Foundation of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund
    • Foundation of KiwiSaver
    • Introduction of Working for Families and 14 weeks paid parental leave
    • Introduction of tax credits
    • Increasing the minimum wage 5% a year
    • Introduction of interest-free student loans
    • Creation of District Health Boards
    • Introduction of NCEA
  • Lesson for me: What legacy am I leaving behind me? What could I put in place that lasts when I’m gone?
  • Helen Clark is Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) – the first woman to lead the organization – and Chair of the United Nations Development Group. Prior to joining the UNDP Helen served as Prime Minister of New Zealand for three terms, during which time she was widely engaged in policy development and advocacy across international, economic, social and cultural spheres. Now living in New York, Helen is a passionate supporter of the arts as evidenced by her promotion of the arts, culture and heritage portfolio during her time as Prime Minister.

5 Awesome Speakers at TEDx Auckland

1. Richard Faull

  • One thing that stuck with me about Richard’s talk is his debunking of the myth that you stop growing new brain cells from the age of 18
  • It’s not true
  • In fact our brains continuously create new braincells from it’s own batch of stemcells. If you don’t use it, you lose it.
  • Lesson for me: The secret to mental fitness is mental exercise and challenges. Retirement is deadly.
  • Richard Faull is professor and director of the Centre for Brain Research at the University of Auckland. Raised in a small Taranaki farming community, Richard discovered his passion for the human brain as a young medical student and has spent his life pursuing exciting, innovative and groundbreaking research in this field at the University of Auckland. Richard’s work has been widely recognised internationally and through appointments as Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, Officer of the NZ Order of Merit, and receiving of many awards including New Zealand’s highest scientific award, the Royal Society Rutherford Medal.

2. Robert Oliver

  • During visits to the Pacific Island’s Robert was saddened to see the menus full of Western Food choices instead of Polynesian/Melanesian choices
  • There seemed to be a general feeling amongst the locals that the dishes they enjoyed at home “weren’t good enough for the menu”
  • Robert was determined to change all that
  • He connect 3 elements together:
    1. Authentic, local Polynesian/Melanesian recipes
    2. Local ingredients
    3. Tourism
  • The result was winning the Gourmand International World Cookbook award in 2011. Which in turn got local dishes into hotel menus. Mission achieved.
  • Robert Oliver is an accomplished New Zealand chef and author of the Gourmand World Cookbook award-winning book, Me’a Kai: The Food and Flavours of the South Pacific. Raised in Fiji and Samoa, Robert’s passion for the South Pacific was the driver behind Me’a Kai, which was written in an effort to connect the Pacific’s agricultural and tourism sectors. Robert has developed restaurants in major cities around the world and now holds ambassador positions for Le Cordon Bleu and True Pacific.
  • Webwww.RobertOliverOnline.com

3. Lillian Grace

  • Lillian takes boring tables of data and adds style, colour, graphs, maps and infographics that brings the data alive.
  • Her philosophy is data >> information >> knowledge >> wisdom
  • Lillian Grace is the founder and chief of Wiki New Zealand, a collaborative website making data about New Zealand visually accessible for everyone.  Through Wiki New Zealand, Lillian aims to make it normal to know your country.  In her previous role at The New Zealand Institute, Lillian became aware of some of the challenges we face as a country.  She believes that to get the best outcomes we need to make informed decisions in all areas and at all levels, and that the process needs to start with understanding the facts before we connect them to our values.
  • Web: wikinewzealand.org

4. Pete Russell: Ooooby; Hacking the Supply Chain

  • The traditional supply chain for our food is: grower >> wholesaler >> retailer >> consumer pick-up
  • Pete explained that 70% – 80% of the cost is supply chain cost
  • His business model “hacks the supply chain” and provides an online farmers market to revive local food supply. The supply chain becomes: local grower >> local distribution hub >> local consumer
  • He actively encourages copying of his business model
  • Pete Russell is a local food advocate, social entrepreneur and founder of Ooooby. After seeing first hand the destructive nature of globalized food and the accelerating demand for local alternatives during his time at a multi-million dollar food business, Pete became committed to working in the local food space. Driven by a passion for developing smart systems for food sales and logistics, Out of our own backyards (Ooooby) is the result of his work – a local food operation delivering to hundreds of Auckland doorsteps each week.
  • Webwww.ooooby.org

5. Joseph Michael

  • Joseph shared a 24 hour timelapse video of a mountain scene (and there were more in the lobby, and some in 3D with 3D glasses supplied)
  • To be honest I found the timelapse footage quite dull
  • But what I found amazing was his photos of his hike up into the mountains to set up the timelapse camera with his 2 friends. The photos were absolutely amazing. Close-ups of tree bark and lichen, shots of the tiny tent they shared, all in such vivid detail that I found myself desperate to purchase a $5,000 DSLR camera and try and take such photos myself
  • Joseph Michael is a freelance film technician, new media artist and photographer. Joseph’s latest work is a New Media Arts exhibition entitled “Dark Cloud : White Light” which involves filming 3D time-lapses of New Zealand landscapes and starscapes. This project saw him braving the elements for periods of 24 hours or more to create an experience of audio and visual splendour, revealing the hidden wonders of the New Zealand landscape.
  • WebJoeMichael.net

7 Somewhat Awesome Speakers at TEDx Auckland

1. Grace Taylor: The Power of Words

  • Grace is a very talented young lady: a poet, an artist, a youth development worker
  • She brought 2 of her students to the stage and they shared their poetry too
  • The poem she selected was a very raw and sometimes angry story of how her duel-ethnicity made her feel unwelcome in either culture at times. Very emotional, very honest, very vulnerable stuff.
  • Grace Taylor is a spoken word poet, teaching artist and youth development worker. She believes in the empowerment of words, in particular through creative manifestations and providing spaces for people to tell their own stories. Grace’s poetry ciphers strongly around dialogues about identity, with her believing that the exploration of a sense of belonging is underestimated in many facets of society.  Grace is co-founder of the South Auckland Poets Collective and the Rising Voices Youth Poetry Movement. 
  • Video of one of her poems on YouTube

2. Richard Nunns: Buried Treasure, Rediscovering Lost Maori Instruments

  • Richard Nunns was quite a character. The Maori instruments  he played had such haunting, mournful, depressing sounds. But he balanced that out by make the audience laugh often
  • On a few occasions I thought he’d fallen asleep, but he was just thoughtful
  • My favourite bit was when he attempted to play a note on his Putorino and after several failed attempts realised it was upside down (actually what is remarkeable about the Putorino is that it’s 7 instruments in one so it’s easy to forget how to get all those sounds out of it)
  • Richard Nunns is a Māori traditional instrumentalist and is regarded as the world’s foremost authority on Māori instruments. Having been described as one of New Zealand’s most remarkable musicians, Richard has developed an amazing international profile, both with the diversity of his recorded work and performing with a wide variety of people in differing settings and circumstances. A highly awarded musician, Richard’s accomplishments include receiving an honorary doctorate of music from Victoria University and being inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame with Hirini Melbourne in 2009. 
  • Webwww.RichardNunns.net.nz

3. Mark Sagar: BabyX

  • Mark presented “BabyX” which is software that mimicks a baby’s reaction to sensory input that you provide with your facial expressions and noises you make
  • His question was “Wha’ts the most interesting thing in the universe?” And his answer “The human brain”. And so this project to create software that resembles the human brain and it’s infant development was started
  • Watch this video from 3News to find out more

4. David Trubridge

  • I didn’t retain a lot from David’s talk. He talked about the difference between the left and right hemispheres of the human brain and how the hemisphere’s work together by passing information back and forth to analyse situations and make decisions.
  • David Trubridge is an internationally renowned furniture and lighting designer. After settling on New Zealand following a five year yacht voyage with his family, David began designing furniture and lighting words inspired by his rich life experience. His Hawkes Bay manufactured works are sold all around the world and regularly feature in influential publications such as the Financial Times. David has won many awards both nationally and internationally including New Zealand’s most prestigious design award, the John Britten Award. 

5. Robyn Paterson

  • Robyn talked about growing up in Zimbabwe as a white girl. Many years later she had reconnected with many of her childhood friends but not with one called Mercy. She has created a documentary about her search for Mercy.
  • One quote that stood out to me was a conversation between her and her mother one day:
    • “Mum, I made a new friend, her name is Vanilla”
    • “What colour is she?”
    • “I don’t know, I’ll ask her tomorrow”
  • Robyn Paterson is a highly respected director in the New Zealand film and television industry. She has worked across a wide range of projects and includes writing, producing, directing and presenting in her screen credits. Robyn’s debut feature documentary Finding Mercy followed her personal search for a lost friend in Zimbabwe’s political turmoil. It was selected for the prestigious International Documentary Festival Amsterdam and won Best Cinematography & Best Emerging Filmmaker at DocEdge Film Festival.
  • Webwww.FindingMercy.net

6. Sophie Tamati

  • Sophie told us about the app she has created for helping people learn Maori called “Hika: Rapid Language Learning Programme”
  • The design and usability of the app was very impressive: http://hikagroup.com/Hika-App-Preview/
  • Sophie Tamati is an award-winning educational entrepreneur and senior lecturer at the University of Auckland. Passionate about education, Sophie worked through many cultural and technological barriers to achieve her dream of making it easier, faster and more enjoyable for students to learn other languages and connect with those around them. Sophie launched the Hika programs – Hika EXPLORER and Hika LITE – designed to support students and teachers achieve their language goals.
  • WebHikaGroup.com

7. Welby Ings

  • Welby’s talk was about creativity. His definition was “disobedient thought” and told us that questioning is at the start of creative thought
  • He observed that his schooling did not encourage creativity, dreaming, questions or ideas (but he turned out alright)
  • He quoted a chilling predication from Heinrich Heine in 1802, more than 140 years before WW2:  “Where they burn books, they will eventually burn people”
  • Welby Ings is an award winning designer, filmmaker and playwright, with his short film ‘Boy’ short listed for the 2006 Academy Awards. An elected Fellow of the British Royal Society of Arts and consultant to many international organisations on issues of creativity and learning, Welby is now a Professor in Design at Auckland University of Technology. Having taught at all levels of the New Zealand education system, he has remained an outspoken critic of dehumanised systems of learning. In 2001 he was awarded the Prime Minister’s inaugural Supreme Award for Tertiary Teaching Excellence.

There were also 2 music sets:

1. Five Mile Town: The Lucky Ones

  • Five Mile Town are an up and coming Auckland-based Indie Folk band made up of Louis McDonald, Adam Quiqley, Levi Heeringa and Ryan Wilson.
  • Web: www.fivemiletownband.com

2. Seth Haapu: Pull No Punches

  • Seth is a singer-songwriter whose self-produced debut album saw him work alongside musicians such as Godfrey De Grut (Che Fu) and Nick Gaff aney (Golden Horse).
  • Web: www.sethhaapu.com

And the emcee Vaughan was awesome:

  • A special shout out to Vaughan who did a fantastic job at injecting humour in between talks. I especially liked his heckling of the cheap seats above, the expensive seats below and the free seats in the front.

Only Prospects In Pain Will Buy: 6 Questions To Ask To Uncover Your Prospects Pain

Did you know that only a prospect in pain will buy a solution from you?

It’s true.

The more pain they feel, the higher the price they will pay, and the more they crave your solution if you can show them that you understand their pain.

If you have a warehouse full of widgets to sell, or a professional service that is hard to change, then the following advice is not going to work for you.

You need a clean slate for the following to work.

So, have you just been made redundant? Or maybe you’re considering a career change?

Great!

Congratulations!

You have the blank slate you need. The world is full of opportunities and you have everything you need to take advantage.

The following 6 steps will show you how to build a software business for yourself, from scratch.

Don’t worry, you don’t even have to know any code. All you need to know is how to ask questions.

Can you do that? Can you ask questions?

Step #1: Identify An Industry

It doesn’t matter which one! You don’t have to have experience in that industry, or a passion for it. Every industry has unmet needs that you can serve. Eg:

  1. Real estate
  2. Property development
  3. Cafe’s
  4. Lawyers
  5. Accountants
  6. Forestry
  7. Farming
  8. Banking
  9. Logistics
  10. Dentists
  11. Doctors
  12. Tourism
  13. Transportation
  14. Logistics
  15. Entertainment
  16. Vets

Step #2: Interview People In Your Chosen Industry

Interview 3 or 4 or 5 (or 10) managers in businesses in this industry.

For an introduction just say “Hey, I’m just doing some research into your industry, I just want to understand some of your painful problems, and find a way to improve your life”

In your interview include the following questions:

  1. What’s the most important activity in your business? Is there pain associated with that activity?
  2. What problems are costing you the most money in your business right now?
  3. What are the tasks that you do on a day-to-day basis? For each, how do you feel when you do that task? If you could wave a magic wand over that task what would you change?
  4. What are some pieces of software that you use that make you want to punch your computer?
  5. If you need to, focus their attention on different stages in the sales process: Pre-sale, during sale and post-sale. What are all the tasks at each stage?
  6. Keep asking “What else?” and “Tell me more!” until they are exhausted 🙂

Your goal here is to understand the problem better than the customer, better than the competition, better than anyone else.

Once you have narrowed it down to a couple of problems, ask “Have you tried to solve this problem in the past?”. Their response may give you price point ideas.

Step #3: Calculate How Much The Problem Costs

Once your identified the pain/problem, calculate specifically how much the problem costs them every year

For example, if a mundane task takes 15 minutes a day and your time is worth $50/hour then automating or eliminating that task is worth $3,062.50 per annum (0.25 hours x 5 days a week x 49 months a year x 50 an hour)

Another example, if you are a pool cleaner and 5% of customers are disputing their bills then that problem could be costing you $5,000 a year (0.05 of customers x 500 customers a year x $200 disputed).

Step #4: Pitch Your Solution

Once you have defined the problem clearly and accurately, the solution becomes obvious.

“If I had an hour to save the world I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute finding solutions” – Albert Einstein

And, even better, they’ll trust you to solve it: “If you can define the problem better than your target customer, then they will assume you have the solution.” – Dane Maxwell

Your prospective customers might think they need an all-inclusive solution but actually they don’t. Firstly, it’s impossible to build anyway. Secondly, they won’t buy it if you build it because it will cost them too much to implement and create too much change in their organisation. Your solution must not require them to change their behaviour too much.

Just deal with one problem and it’s one solution.

Next you ask them “So if I could create software that could solve problem x for you and it cost you $200/month, would you sign up?”.

Get pre-orders and pre-payment.

If you can’t get money from them in advance, then you haven’t discovered a painful enough problem so you’re going to have to ask more questions or interview someone else.

Step #5: Keep Selling. Don’t Build Yet

Don’t be tempted to start building the software yet.

Keep building up your pre-orders, keep selling. Keep building interest until you are getting emails every day from customers begging you to finish the software.

If you can get 100 customers signed up at $200/month that’s $20,000 per month ($240,000 per annum) you have to pay for sales calls and software development (and your salary).

Step #6: Build

Now it’s time to start building the software.

Build it lean. No bells and whistles. Make it solve a single problem.

To find a developer try elance.com.

3 Things You Can Do Next

  1. Pick an industry and book in your first interview tomorrow
  2. Attend a StartUp Weekend in NZ
  3. Sign up for more articles like this one:

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

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

I love purchasing a new website address, don’t you?

(A website address is also known as a “domain name”, or a “url”)

I’ve purchased about 60 website addresses over the last few years. For clients, friends, and for myself.

I get the same rush of adrenaline every time I do it.

It’s so exciting because it’s much an amazing opportunity.

The opportunity is that you can write a message and expose that message to the whole world!

Wow!

Your vision for your amazing website content starts to form in your head even before your purchased the website address.

And when you’ve made the purchase things start to get real.

You realise that it’s quite a big job to translate your vision into a website with images, text and code.

Here’s where you slow down a bit and think to yourself “Well, we better get something up there!”

How about a “coming soon” sign to start with?

Sound good?

NO!

3 Reasons Not To Put “Coming Soon” Anywhere On Your Website

1. Because Visitors Assume You’re Lying

  • When you say “coming soon”, visitors to your website think “liar!”
  • It’s not your fault. They have been burnt many times by that promise so that’s why they don’t believe you this time
  • In fact, that’s why spelling mistakes, small errors, and stale blog content can be so damaging to your brand – all these things remove credibility and trust
  • What chance have you got of making a sale later if you start by destroying your credibility and your audiences trust right at the start of the relationship?

2. Because You’ve Missed An Opportunity To Say Something Useful

  • Imagine if you spent one hour and wrote a short list of bullet points to explain what you do and how you can help your audience
  • Imagine if you included your phone numbers and email address
  • Imagine if the design of your website was quite rough, and certainly not even close to your vision for it in the near future
  • Do you think that visitors would appreciate this instead of a site with zero content and just a cheesy “coming soon” or “under construction” sign?
  • Yes. Yes they would. So make that. Do it yourself, or spend a couple of hundred bucks getting a half decent one-page website as your starting point

3. Because Google Won’t Send You Free Visitors

  • Did you know that Google isn’t a search engine? It’s actually a connector.
  • Google connects people who are searching for answers to questions, with website that have those answers
  • All you need to get free visitors from Google is a one page website that answers a few simple questions, and has a few links pointing to this website from other websites
  • A page with “coming soon” isn’t going to do it. But a website with the elements I described above will.

Need Help?

Talk to a friend of mine, Steve Turner, he builds websites. Call him on (07) 575 8799.

9 Companies, 90 Days, Worth $9 Million

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 they are worth about $1 Million dollars each.

How cool is that?

The 6 Elements That The Best Presentations Had In Common

  1. Each company was introduced by a passionate and experienced business person who had been a mentor
  2. The presentations were presented by passionate and energetic CEO’s
  3. The slides were simple, clear and did not distract, they kept the focus on the presenter
  4. First, they identified the problem/the pain and therefore, the opportunity
  5. Next, they presented their solution
  6. Last, they established credibility and made us sure they were the right team, with the right connections to make this happen

The 9 Companies From Lightning Labs

(In order of my favourite to least favourite)

1. Publons.com

“Publons is a platform for crowd-sourced peer-review of academic articles, where academics build reputation for their contributions.  It provides an alternative to the extremely slow, expensive, and closed status quo that hasn’t changed in 300 years.”

My Notes:

  • Amazing that they’ve taken on a system that has been in place for 300 years, broken it in half, and re-invented it for today
  • Nice they already have agreement for trials with a few major US based journal companies
  • Very promising. This was my favourite business idea of the day

2. eXpander.co.nz

“A cloud-based tracking and analytics platform that gives manufacturers a weapon to fight back against counterfeits, while connecting them to consumers and procuring valuable data in emerging markets.”

My Notes:

  • By 2015 there will be US$2 Trillion worth of counterfeit products on the streets. Wow.
  • The plan is to issue a unique QR code for every single individual product on every shelf in the world with for 10-15c each
  • Imagine a product being copied, and that duplicated QR code being scanned 10 times on the same day, the manufacturer would get GPS location of where these counterfeit goods are!
  • Certainly a huge global problem they are tackling here, and a interesting solution they are proposing

3. LearnKo.com

“LearnKo delivers online learning programs to English language organisations in Asia. We do this by harnessing the talent of Australasian tutors and delivering this via an online classroom to English language organisations.”

My Notes:

  • They really hammered the problem home by explaining that there are a billion people in Asian wanting to learn English and that the vast majority of english tutors have very poor english skills themselves!

4. WipVideos.com

“WIP is a beautifully simple video workflow platform that lets you watch, share and comment on your work-in-progress videos, so you get better feedback faster.”

My Notes:

  • They’ve already built the software and they already have clients!

5. KidsGoMobile.com

“KidsGoMobile are developing a software service to help parents teach their children to become responsible users of their first smartphone. This tool will notify parents if their child engages in potentially risky activity on their phone and gives them tips on how to resolve it.”

My Notes:

  • Interesting that a parent can’t hope to screen 1800 monthly text messages so it’s clear they need help
  • + I’m a bit shocked that it’s common for 8 year olds to get their first smart phone these days

6. questo.co.nz

“Questo is using game mechanics in real world activities to increase family engagement for organisations.”

My Notes:

  • For example, an Aquarium could use this service to create a treasure hunt for family’s who bring their ipads with them

7. promoki.com

“Promoki is a a social media gaming platform for photo and video contests.”

My Notes:

  • “The best advertising doesn’t feel like advertising”
  • It’s interesting that the act of asking and collecting responses is where the benefits to the brand are, not in the chosen winner, or the use of that winner in promotions, it’s those brand fans that are immersing themselves into the brand to create a piece of work

8. adeez.co

“Adeez provides a specialist mobile marketing solution which enables brands and marketing agencies to improve their ROI with mobile campaigns.”

My Notes:

  • It’s seems they are setting up themselves as a middleman between brands and advertising networks like Google Adwords… doesn’t that make them just another agency?

9. Teamisto.com

“Teamisto is changing the way sports clubs raise money by generating new streams of sponsorship revenue.”

My Notes:

  • … actually, I didn’t really understand this one

How to Create Start Up Companies Worth A Million Dollars Each In Just 90 Days

Did you meet Laura Rietel (and Nick Churchouse from Lightning Labs) on Thursday 2 May 2013?

If not, you missed a great night!

Laura shared her experience with Business Accelerators.

I loved her presentation style. No slides. Just a few notes, lots of stories, and lots of questions.

Casual and friendly, it felt less like a seminar and more like a chat with an wise friend.

If you didn’t already know, Business Accelerators like Lightning Labs in Wellington have 90 days to turn ideas worth zero into companies worth millions!

So if these accelerators take 90 days, what does everyone do for the other 275 days of the year?

Recover!

90 day business acceleration programmes are a very intense period for everybody:

  1. The participants who give up their lives, jobs, and family time for 90 days to be there
  2. The organisers who put in 12 hour, or 18 hour, or 20 hour days to ensure the teams have everything they need
  3. The mentors who pour in their expertise and knowledge (for free)
  4. The investors who pour in the money before day zero (when the companies are worth zero), on the hope that on day 90 they’ll be worth millions

It was interesting to hear how the top business accelerator in the world, TechStars, tried to cram 2 programmes into a single year and burnt out every stakeholder group involved.

If they can’t do it, no one can, so don’t even try.

Why Are Business Accelerators So Awesome?

  • Because you compress 2 years of business growth and learning into 90 days
  • Because a fast failure is a good thing
  • Pivots make you stronger (75% of teams pivot), but “spivots”, when you spin around and around make you dizzy
  • The value comes from the mentors advice and how you react to “mentor whiplash”, when you get conflicting advice. It’s up to you to extract what you can and make your decision
  • Mentors sometimes become investors, and sometimes the CEO!
  • The 5 most important factors: Team, Team, Team, Market, Idea
  • The best team have worked together for years
  • Teams are either 2 or 3 co-founders. Solo entrepreneurs don’t get in (unless they can find a co-founder before all the fun starts)
  • You can’t be the coder/tech and run the startup too. You can only wear one of those hats
  • You must be coachable. Don’t be precious. Don’t be defensive
  • It’s bloody hard work. You need support from your family
  • The hottest categories at the moment: Mobile, Cloud, Fashion, Education, Middleware

Who Pays? Who Gets Paid?

  • 50% funded by the Government for writing programmes, salaries for operations team, fixed costs and infrastructure
  • 50% funded by an Angel Investor Fund. In return the Angels get:
    • 6% stake in each accelerated company
    • Due diligence
    • The fast tracked, pressure cooker startup phase
  • Each participant gets $6000 to help them survive the 90 day period financially

Before You Create An Entrepreneurial Ecosystem In Your City…

  1. It must be led by entrepreneurs
  2. Take a long term view (20 years)
  3. Be inclusive. Embrace weirdness. Attract creativeness

Want to come to seminars like this?

You can subscribe to my email list and I’ll let you know about the next one: http://eepurl.com/pCoPX

Worried Someone Will Steal Your Awesome Idea? 7 Possible Reactions When You Share Your Idea

New ideas are exciting!

Sometimes great ideas wake you in the middle of the night (and at the time you are sure you’ll remember them so you don’t bother writing them down… oops).

Sometimes great ideas happen to you when you are alone (like in the shower, or in the car), and it’s so annoying that there isn’t someone right there you can tell it to.

Your new idea might be an invention, a solution to a problem, a decision, or an idea for a new business.

Do you ever find yourself hesitating before you share the idea with someone, because you are worried that they will steal it?

Well, let’s check how often that actually happens.

7 Possible Reactions When You Share Your Awesome Idea

  1. 43% of people you tell will be bored or just don’t care
    • Don’t be offended, they still love you, just not this idea
  2. 24% of people will see something you don’t see in the idea, and provide you with another idea to help you shape your one
    • This is the best possible reaction because now you’ve got something better than your initial idea
  3. 12% of people will point out that your idea is not new and where to find it already in existence
    • This is a great outcome, because you can either decide what your point of difference will be or put it aside and dream up a new idea
  4. 9% of people will spread your idea to more people
    • This is also a great outcome because you’ll benefit from this list of possible responses being repeated
  5. 7% of people will tell you why your idea sucks
    • That’s ok, because it’s good to get a reality check. You can ignore their criticism and plow on, or dump the idea and move on
  6. 5% of people will be inspired and offer their help to get you started
    • That’s a great result because 2 heads are better than 1
  7. 0% of people will steal it and set up in competition to you
    • Yes, that’s right, zero. The worry that someone will steal your idea is an illusion. And even if they do steal it, that’s the biggest compliment in the world

So, what do you think about this?

Have your say in the comments below.

(As always, these statistics are made up for dramatic purposes 🙂

Startup Communities – Building An Entrepreneurial Ecosystem In Your City by Brad Feld

My notes on “Startup Communities – Building An Entrepreneurial Ecosystem In Your City” by Brad Feld15822571

Give Before You Get

  • Boulder is an incredibly inclusive community. Although there is some competition between companies, especially over talent, the community is defined by a strong sense of collaboration and philosophy of “giving before you get.”
  • If you contribute, you are rewarded, often in unexpected ways.
  • At the same time especially since it’s a small community it’s particularly intolerant of bad actors. If you aren’t sincere, constructive, and collaborative, the community behaves accordingly


Continue reading “Startup Communities – Building An Entrepreneurial Ecosystem In Your City by Brad Feld”

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

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 you’re selling.

So you are going to create a “business model” instead.

A business model has some elements of a “business plan” and some elements of a “marketing plan” but it’s better because it starts with your customers. And their opinion is the only opinion that matters really.

4 Initial Questions You May Be Thinking Right Now:

Q: “What the heck is a ‘business model’?” 

  • A business model is simply an understanding of how a business works. How it adds value, how it makes money
  • You can achieve that level of understanding by answering the 9 questions coming up soon.

Q: “Will doing this business model first help me win?”

  • Yes. Because if you sit down and work on this right now you get the first version of this business model finished in a couple of hours, then you’ll know what to build in Version 1.0 of your product
  • Then you can test Version 1.0 on real customers and use that feedback to build Version 2.0. If you have Version 3.0 and your competitors have Version 1.0, who will win? You will.

Q: “How long should it be?”

  • 3-5 pages is about right

Q: “Do we write it once and forget it? Or, do we rewrite it several times?”

  • It can (and must) change and evolve
  • You might rewrite it once or twice or three times (or 10 times). It will keep improving every time you try and sell to real customers.

Let’s get started!

It’s as easy as answering the following 9 questions.

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

1. “Who is our ideal customer?”

We’ve already got our product/service in mind, but we need to forget that for a moment because we need to think about our customers first. So our first question is “who is our ideal customer?”.

 

Describe them here using bullet points or a short paragraphs.

 

“Our ideal customer is…

 

 

2. “What problems do our ideal customers have?”

Customers will buy from us to solve a problem they have. What is that problem (or problems)? What is their pain?

 

List the top 1-3 problems they have.

 

 

2b How do they solve that problem without us at the moment? What are their alternatives until we’re ready to serve them?

 

 

3. “What’s the solution?”

For each problem we listed, we will outline a possible solutions here.

 

 

4. “What’s our sales pitch?”

Now we have a picture of our ideal customer, we have identified their problems, we’ve outlined a solution, now it’s time to craft our sales pitch.

 

Imagine we have just 30 seconds to turn a stranger into someone interested in buying from us. What would we say? What story would we tell? What are we offering? How are we different? What’s in it for them? If we’re offering something brand new we might need to use existing products to help people understand what it is we do. Eg “We are Flickr which is like YouTube for photos”

 

 

4b. “What headlines could use on our landing page?”

Now that you’ve got your sales pitch, write a shorter version of it that could be a headline on the landing page of your website. For example, if you want to capture their email address, what headline and bullet points are going to convince them they want what you’ve got?

Write several alternatives here.

 

 

5. “How do we get our message to our customers?”

What advertising will we do? Will we need to hire salespeople? How would they find customers? How will we build in viral elements to help our service spread to new customers? How will we incentivise our customers to get their friends/family to buy from us in a way that makes our product/service even better and more social?

 

 

6. “How will we make money?”

Will we charge per month? Per year? For life? Per use? Per user? Will we offer a “Freemium” version? A “Premium” version? Sell to corporates? Sell to the end user? Get sponsorship? Sell advertising space? Sell for $1.29 in the App store?

 

 

7. “What are our costs?”

What will it cost to stay in business? What are our “fixed” costs like building, salaries etc? What are our “variable” costs that increase as our sales increase? List them here and make guesses at the amounts. How much cash do we need to start for our start-up? How long will that cash last?

 

 

8. “What ‘key metrics’ will we use to measure success?”

What are the most importants numbers to us? Eg: How many subscribers we have? New users per month? Amount of data being processed per week? Web visitors? Web-visitor-to-Customer conversion rate?

 

 

9. “What’s our advantage?”

What is our “secret sauce”? What do we have that can’t be easily copied or bought? What will stop or slow down new competitors from taking customers from us?

 

 

What’s Next?

Once you’ve gone through these questions for the first time, it’s time to start building version 1.0 of your product so you can get it infront of customers as quick as you can and get that feedback that you need.

 

Constantly revisit your answers to these questions and change your responses according to what real customers are telling you they will pay for.

 

Where did these questions come from?

These questions are based on the work of Ash Maurya who created a business model generator called “The Lean Canvas”. You can work through “The Lean Canvas” for free on his website http://leancanvas.com/. Ash Maurya’s model is actually an adaption of another model called “The Business Model Canvas” first created by Alex Osterwalder.

“Tauranga University Enrolls First 99 Students, 4 Years Ahead Of Schedule” – Proposed Headline for BOP Times, Fri 26 July 2013

Dear universe, I would like the following headline appear in the Bay of Plenty Times on Fri 26 July 2013: “Tauranga University Enrolls First 99 Students, 4 Years Ahead Of Schedule”.

Impossible?

No.

Not impossible.

I’m going to tell you how.

tga-uni-campus
Artists impression of future campus. Source: BOP Times article

You can probably think of at least 5 reasons why a university here would be great for Tauranga?

5 Reasons Why A University Would Be Great For Tauranga

  1. It would keep school leavers around instead of sending them off to Hamilton, Auckland, Dunedin, Wellington or overseas
  2. Once the students finish uni, they’d be looking for jobs, or even better, creating their own jobs here
  3. Having smart young people around is good for the city
  4. University research can be turned into business opportunities and startups
  5. Uni students are cheap (or free) labour for startups. Lot’s of startups are good for a city (confession: this is my secret agenda)

Lot’s of people and groups complain about the lack of a university in the media, and there is lots of blaming going on for who’s fault it is for not getting started already.

It’s easy to forget the 3 biggest reasons that it hasn’t been built yet:

3 Reasons Why Tauranga Still Doesn’t Have A University

  1. Universities are really really expensive to build (something like $200 Million for the first building)
  2. Universities take a really really long time to build (something like 4 years). They are huge. They need lots of buildings and lots of land. Actually, you never stop adding on to them
  3. There is no university vacuum, because the Bay of Plenty Polytech & Waikato University partnership works quite well there isn’t a hurry to fix this problem

Did you know there has been just ONE new university in New Zealand built since 1965?

5 out of 8 were built between 1869 – 1897. That’s 140 to 116 years ago.

List of NZ University’s And When They Were Built

Year EstablishedUniversityLocationFull Time Students
1869University of OtagoDunedin19,179
1873University of CanterburyChristchurch15,624
1878Lincoln UniversityLincoln2,668
1883University of AucklandCBD, Auckland31,688
1897Victoria University of WellingtonWellington17,785
1927Massey UniversityPalmerston North19,424
1964University of WaikatoHamilton10,606
2000Auckland University of TechnologyCBD, Auckland17,821

3 Options Left

There are just 3 options to choose from:

  1. Ask each and every man, woman and child in Tauranga to contribute $2,000 each so we can build a couple of university buildings
  2. Just forget about it. Write off the idea as too hard. Quitting is a valid decision. Don’t be embarrassed.
    • So let’s just work with what we have. My question for the Bay of Plenty Tertiary Education Partnership is this “What do you need?”
  3. Put a virtual university together

What is a Virtual University?

Is it true that, today, if you choose a subject to master, that within 3 months from now, you could be the most knowledgeable person in your city (or country, or in the world) on that subject, and that all you need is internet access?

I think it is true.

Have a look at Khan Academy for example.

Via Khan Academy you can learn about Math, Science, Economics, Computer Science and Humanities for free via a database of over 4000 videos.

In fact, there are schools without text books or teachers who just use these videos to teach children (and adults).

You don’t even need a classroom actually. Just a computer in a hole in a wall will do.

Watch this TED Talk by Sugata Mitra who shows how he enabled illiterate children in a remote village teach themselves Biology and English in 3 months with a single computer in a wall.

So the ice has been broken.

Do we really need huge buildings and desks and chairs and schedules and lecturers and tutors and fees and loans to pay for it all?

Sometimes we do.

But sometimes we don’t.

Imagine if we had both!

Imagine if people could choose!

In fact, we don’t have to imagine, because those are our choices already.

But sitting at home watching video after video is lonely.

Wouldn’t it be great if all the people in your area who were about to watch that video or learn that topic could come together and watch it together, and explain it to teach each other, and argue about it together?

Do you think you’d learn the content better if you could do that?

All we need is a courtyard in the middle of town that can hold about 100 people.

Tauranga’s got one. It’s called Red Square. (Which we could rename “TED Square” after TED.com).

Turn up there at lunchtime with your lunch and with your smart phone or tablet or laptop.

(Free high-speed WiFi would be handy too but 3G data is getting cheaper, so that will do for now.)

Choose a Khan video or TED video or any other YouTube video you want to watch and tweet your intention using the hashtag #RedSquareVideo and start a 2 minute countdown.

People can subscribe to be notified when that hashtag is used and they would have 2 minutes to come and join you.

They can load the video themselves (or cosy up next to you to watch it), and when it’s done you can have a chat about it so that knowledge really sinks in.

Or, if they want to watch another video, that can do so and others could join them.

The first day for this is 12noon Thursday 18 April 2013.

Join me in Red Square (1 Spring St, Tauranga)?

Imagine if 5 people turned up every day to do this.

And then 10.

And then 50.

And then 99.

That’s the goal: For 99 people to turn up on the 99th day after the start on 18 April 2013.

And this will be the headline on the Bay of Plenty Times website on Fri 26 July 2013 (99 days later): “Tauranga University Enrolls First 99 Students, 4 Years Ahead Of Schedule”.

Will you be one of them?

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

I had the honour of spending 60 seconds with John Key this morning.

john-key-and-me
MP Simon Bridges, PM John Key, Sheldon Nesdale

I was 1 of 10 young professionals invited to tell him about what we’re up to here in Tauranga, the city I love.

Here’s my 60 second speech:

Hi, I’m Sheldon Nesdale and I’m helping to build a eco-system of entrepreneurship and innovation here in Tauranga. One of 6 ways I’m doing that is by organising an event that people can go to and learn about entrepreneurship and innovation in a hands on way. It’s called Tauranga StartUp Weekend and it’s happening July 5,6,7 this year. It’s like a cake. You throw in ingredients like mentors, prizes, judges, strangers, structure, and chaos, and you eat whatever you cook.

This guy runs a whole country so his perspective is mostly a macro sized one. (Although he has this talent of zooming down to the individual level too).

This means he sees the big picture, the big system and the big moving parts.

When he was talking about Fonterra and exports, 2 pictures formed in my head that I want to tell you about.

The first picture was one of a giant machine which needed cogs to work.

cogs-in-a-machine
Do you feel like a cog in a machine sometimes?

What are the cogs in this machine? People.

You and me.

You might be a big cog or you might be a small cog, but the machine wants to be able to replace you easily or work without you if it needs too.

For example your job might be to sit in a cubicle and answer phones. The machine wants you to stay there.

But even if you leave, it’ll very quickly fill that spot with someone else.

The second picture was one of a nanobot swarm.

nanobot-swarm
Do you want the freedom to swarm to problems you are passionate about solving?

What’s a nanobot?

It’s a tiny machine. So tiny a million of them can fit on the head of a pin.

This time the people are individual nanobots.

They are separate. They are autonomous. They make their own decisions. But the supercool thing is that they can swarm to problems that need solving.

For example, poverty needs solving.  The people/nanobots that care about poverty will swarm to that problem and solve it together.

That’s the future of work I think.

So, are you a cog or a nanobot?

And if you want to change, when are you going to start?

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

Firstly, Sean D’Souza in his book “The Brain Audit”, has this to say about Testimonials:

Why We Are All Sceptical About Testimonials

  • Testimonials are like resumes; they’re not entirely believable.  Which is why most customers tend to view testimonials sceptically. Even if we don’t say it out loud, we view testimonials as one-sided.
  • It’s the seeming lack of reality in a testimonial that makes us doubt its genuineness.  So the way to pump back the reality is to give a testimonial a before/after effect. And voilà, we get the ‘reverse testimonial’.
  • The ‘reverse testimonial’ is nothing but a testimonial that brings to the fore how the customer was feeling before they made the purchase.  The doubts; the slight discomfort; the pain; the frustration. These all run through a customer’s mind right before they buy a product/service. These doubts need to be brought up front, because they bring a massive dose of reality to the testimonial.
  • To get this factor of reality, we need to ‘construct’ our testimonials, instead of just ‘getting’ testimonials.  Construction doesn’t mean you’re faking a testimonial. Construction means you’re using parameters to build a structurally sound testimonial.

The 6 Questions You Need To Ask To Get A Powerful Testimonial

  1. What was the obstacle that would have prevented you from buying this service?
  2. What did you find as a result of buying this service?
  3. What specific part did you like most about this service?
  4. What would be three other benefits about this service?
  5. Would you recommend our service? If so, why?
  6. Is there anything you’d like to add?

Why Are Testimonials So Important? Because They Remove Objections

It’s not just a matter of asking the questions to construct a testimonial.  Testimonials play an important role in removing objections. Therefore the objections must be listed. And it’s important to then get testimonials that defuse the core 98% of objections that stop your customer from buying your product/service.

This of course, doesn’t mean that you don’t accept a testimonial that’s given by a customer. Hey, a testimonial is a gift. And sometimes you get the most incredibly powerful testimonials from customers. Sure they may not have the awesome structure you’re hoping for, but these testimonials still work. So don’t go about being uppity and rejecting testimonials that don’t fit the structure of the ‘reverse testimonial’.

Testimonials tell stories. Stories rich in colour and detail. Stories that you could not have dreamed up in a squillion years. And yet, these stories are totally believable, because they come from the customer. And more importantly, because they have a solid dose of reality at their very core.

3 More Things You Need To Know About Testimonials

In addition to this I have found the following to work very well:

  1. Full name and the city they are from
  2. A small head and shoulders photo (no glamour shots, no model shots, just real NZ people). A good size is 75px x 75px
  3. A huge list. The longer the better. Eg I have over 100 on http://www.management.org.nz/student-testimonials/. When the list of happy customers is that long what else do you need to know before you’ll buy?

Every client I’ve ever worked with knows that they need testimonials on their website, but many of them haven’t gotten round to it yet.

The most common reason is that it seems like it’s a big job (that and maybe they’re a little shy).

They picture asking their customers for an A4 letter printed on letterhead. No, no, no.

3 Different Ways To Ask For A Testimonial

You have 3 options:

  1. Ask customers via a short email like this:
    • Hi first_name, I have a favour to ask. If you found my product/service useful, could you write a short testimonial for my website? Just a few sentences would be fine. I’ll put it here: link_to_your_testimonials_page. Include your full name and city and your website address so I can link back to your website. Thanks first_name, I’d really appreciate it.”
  2. Create a feedback form and send it out via email to customers they day after they have visited you which says “May we have a testimonial from you that we could display on our website and other marketing material? If you get stuck, you could use these 6 questions to help you write it…” and copy in the 6 questions above
  3. Call them up and ask them questions like the 6 above and scribble down notes. At the end of the 5 minute conversation tell them “I’ve been writing notes while we’ve been talking, can I turn them into a short testimonial and email it for you to check and approve before I put it on my website?”

What’s Next?

What do you have to do to get 3 new testimonials on to your website in the next 24 hours?

Well, stop reading and go and do it!

A Collection of 7 Bob Clarkson Thoughts

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 he’s been prevented from starting).

I’ve been told that “you either love him or hate him”. Well, put me in the love-him category then. For the simple reason that he get’s things done. I respect an action man.

Sure, there’s a time for talk, but when the talking’s done, start building. Life is short.

Tauranga needs people like that.

How did I end up at his house?

I’m planning an event called TEDx Tauranga 2013 and I wanted to talk to him about being one of my guest speakers. I Googled his contact details and couldn’t find them anywhere. So via Facebook I asked my network to help. One of my friends pointed out that a quick search for “Bob Clarkson” in the online WhitePages does the job. I found his home number there and talked to him one evening last week.

During that phonecall he invited me to his house to pick up a DVD, a compilation of news footage for the building of Bay Park Speedway 2000/2001.

(Which I have since put on YouTube with his permission).

So what can I tell you about Bob?

Here are 3 quick facts about Bob Clarkson to start with.

3 Quick Facts About Bob Clarkson You Might Not Know:

  1. He doesn’t have an email address (but he tells me his P.A. does, but he doesn’t know what it is)
  2. He drew the plans for the roof for BayPark stadium himself with a pencil and ruler
  3. He wears pants part-time on hot weekends (don’t we all!) – The first thing he said when he opened the door for me was “Sorry I took so long to get to the door, I had to go and put some pants on.  It’s hot today!”.

You might already know about his industrial land projects:

  • BayPark Speedway 2000/2001
  • McDonald St + Aviation Ave (Mount Maunganui) industrial area
  • Melame St, Greerton industrial area

But you may not know about projects he’s planned that haven’t gone ahead yet.

Bob Clarkson Projects That Haven’t Gone Ahead

#1: 1000 Affordable homes in Tauriko West

  • Premise: “Why make it so hard for first time home buyers to afford their own home?”
  • Solution: He owns Tauriko West, and plans to build 1000 affordable homes (+1000 fancy homes) there but can’t go ahead because it’s outside city limits (he’s working hard to change this)

#2: Full day tourist excursion up the Wairoa river

  • Premise: “Why drop off 2000 cruise ship passengers straight into shuttles that drive to Rotorua?”
  • Solution: Create a Maori based cultural Tourist Attraction which involves a paddle up the Wairoa river in Waka, lunch at a new facility on a historic site, and a Waka trip back down the river

#3: Cycling track along the Wairoa river

  • Premise: “Need to build a network of cycle ways? Why not along the Wairoa river?”
  • Solution: He offered to donate the land and build his section of the track at no cost

And you might not have heard his ideas on the following topics.

A Collection of 7 Bob Clarkson Thoughts

#1: Bob Clarkson on the Route K toll road:

“Instead of installing several round-abouts along Cameron Road to slow down traffic and increase demand for the Route K toll out of frustration with congestion, just remove the toll!”

#2: Bob Clarkson on the high-rises at Mount Maunganui

“Instead of concentrating the high-rises all in the corner where the newest buildings create shadows for the older ones, allow high-rises right along the coast to Papamoa strictly at 300m intervals”

#3: Bob Clarkson on consultants fees

“I hate it when tax-payers money is wasted. There is always a way to build it 1.5 times the size for less. It’s consultants fees that you’ve got to watch the most carefully. Their input is important, but you’ve got to control them rather than the other way around”

“Don’t let consultants take control. If they warn you about something with a remote possibility that will cost millions to mitigate, be brave enough to accept that small risk, ignore the advice and move on with the plan”

#4: Bob Clarkson on the secret of life

“The secret to life is asking questions. Beauracrats hate it when people ask questions because they’re scared of exposing how little they know”

#5: Bob Clarkson on decision making

“If I’m going to do something I ask 50 people questions about it. I decide if what they say is helpful or unhelpful. Then I make the decision”

#6: Bob Clarkson on investing your heart and sole into a project

“When you invest in a building project with your heart (not just your wallet), when you get attacked it’s easy to get a broken heart. Those attacks really hurt”

#7: Bob Clarkson on industry

“We need more industrial buildings to give young people jobs and keep them off the streets – then you wouldn’t need to build a new police station”

All-in-all I think he’s awesome.

He tells me that people hassle him that his building projects benefit the community and make money for him.

Well you work for a living (either for an employer or for yourself), and you draw down money (in salary/wages or drawings) to compensate you for your time, right? This is exactly the same but just at a much larger scale.

What’s Next?

At this stage Bob won’t be able to speak at TEDx Tauranga because of health issues.

My vision for TEDx Tauranga is to inspire people to stand up and get out of their comfort zones and make their own dent in the universe.

So at least he inspired one person this weekend (me), and perhaps by reading this article you are inspired too?

So what are you going to build?

Tell me in the comments below.

Disclaimer

I’m no court reporter. I wrote my notes by hand, and today I’m here interpreting those notes. When I quote Bob Clarkson I’m actually just telling you my interpretation of what I think he said. You’ll have to give him a call if you want to clarify anything.

 

What To Say When You Are Asked “What’s Your Hourly Rate?”

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:

  1. “That’s too cheap!”
  2. “ooo, that’s too expensive and way out of my budget!”
  3. “ok, sign me up!”

If they say “that’s too cheap!” that’s a disaster because:

  • You’ve set off an alarm in the prospects head. You’ve signalled to them that your quality is low, or you don’t have enough experience, or enough training. If you did have those things you would have said the rate they wanted to hear

If they say “ooo, that’s too expensive and way out of my budget!” that’s a disaster because:

  • You’ve scored a black cross on their list of criteria and if you try and justify it now by jumping in and defending yourself with a list of your previous clients, experience, training you’ve had, years on the job, results you’ve got, whatever, it’s too late, you are on the back foot.

Even if they say “ok, sign me up!” that’s a disaster too because:

  • You could have doubled it and they might have said yes! You’ve just cut yourself off from a huge pay day. Gutted.

So what can you do?

First, watch this 37 second video of how I answer the question “what’s your hourly rate?”, and then keep reading below:

My point is, there is no way to answer the question with the right number.

So don’t do it.

Never say your hourly rate.

Instead, quote for a result or a package.

Here’s how to respond to the question “What’s your hourly rate?” in 4 steps:

  1. Dodge the question completely and say:
    • “I want to check I understand what you need first…”
  2. Then read back to them a summary of their problem/goals and check you’ve got it right:
    • “As I understand it, you want to… [their-problem/goals]”. Is that right?”
  3. Did they say “yes” or “no”?
    • If they say “yes”, move to the step 4
    • If they say “no” then ask them to clarify and read back a new summary
  4. Then you say “I can help you achieve [their-goal]. My price is [your-package-price]”

It’s best to deliver step 4 via email when you’ve had some time to digest the project and crunch some numbers. So you could say:

4. “I can help you achieve [their-goal]. Can I have your email address so I can crunch some numbers and get back to you?”

If they push and push for your hourly rate you can respond with:

  • “I don’t have an hourly rate. I work on a results basis. Tell me what you need to achieve and I’ll tell you what it’ll take”

What do you think?

Agree? Disagree? Say so in the comments below.

Should I Renew My Yellow Pages Listing For My Small Business?

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 every year?

Snap out of it sucker.

The free one-liner with your phone number is all you need.

(Except if you’re a plumber. If you’re a plumber then buy a huge expensive ad because when older people have a plumbing emergency they panic, dig out a 3 year old copy of the Yellow Pages out of a drawer, and call number after number to find someone that can come right now.)

How To Find Out For Sure If Your Yellow Pages Advertising Is Not Working

Measure it.

  1. Ask every new customer how they heard about you
  2. Add up all the mentions of “Yellow Pages” in a year (or in a month and then multiply by 12)
  3. Divide that number by 4 (I’m assuming your conversion rate is 25%)
  4. Multiply that number by your average revenue per customer over a year
  5. Divide that number by 4 (I’m assuming your Net Profit is 25%)
  6. That’s how much Yellow Pages is worth to you to break even. Don’t spend a cent more than that. If the customer buys from you again next year, that’s your gravy to keep.

Eg For XYZ & Co:

  • 12 mentions per year
  • 12 / 4 (a conversion rate of 25%) = 3
  • $100 revenue x 3 = $300
  • $300 / 4 = $75 ad to break even in the first year

Eg for ABC & Co:

  • 120 mentions per year
  • 120 / 4 (a conversion rate of 25%) = 30
  • $1,000 revenue x 30 = $30,000
  • $30,000 / 4 = $7,500 ad to break even in the first year

So, if you’re not a plumber:

5 Reasons Why You Should Quit Advertising In The Yellow Pages (hardcopy)

  1. Just because you’ve been doing it for 10 years doesn’t mean that you should keep the momentum up. That momentum is in the wrong direction!
  2. Just because your competitors are doing it is not proof it works, it only means they are suckers too!
  3. Because 12 month contracts suck so bad. They put a huge amount of high pressure sales tactics into getting you to sign up because they know that you won’t bother measuring the effectiveness of the ads over the coming months because you fear that if you did, you will actually find out you wasted your money and you’ll feel like a fool, so you don’t bother, because you want to save yourself the embarrassment. No one likes to realise they made a huge financial mistake. And you can’t cancel anyway because it’s in print. And you don’t have to worry about it until next year anyway, so you forget about it.
  4. Because the amazing discounts that the sales reps offer you at the last minute when you just told them you want to cancel aren’t actually amazing, they are just a clever sales pitch. A 70% discount on advertising that doesn’t work isn’t going to make it work!
  5. Because you shouldn’t support an industry that prints millions of books with thousands of pages and dumps them on the doorsteps of millions of New Zealanders every year that didn’t ask for the books in the first place. It’s junk mail on an enormous ecologically-damaging scale

What about online Yellow Pages?

Why You Should Not Advertise In Online Yellow Pages

Because it’s a rip-off.

And it’s so easy to test and measure for yourself:

  1. Open up your webstats for the month and find any click throughs to your website from Yellow
  2. Divide that number by 10 (I’m assuming your visit to enquiry rate is 10%)
  3. Divide that number by 4 (I’m assuming your enquiry to sale conversion rate is 25%)
  4. Multiply that number by your average revenue per customer over a year
  5. Divide that number by 4 (I’m assuming your Net Profit is 25%)

Eg For XYZ & Co:

  • Cost: $60/month
  • 10 clicks per month
  • 10 / 10 (a visit to enquiry rate of 10%) = 1
  • 1 / 4 (a conversion rate of 25%) = 0.25
  • $100 revenue x 0.25 = $25
  • $25 / 4 = $6.25 is what the advertising is worth to you a month just to break even but you’re spending $60…

Eg for ABC & Co:

  • Cost: $80/month
  • 50 clicks per month
  • 50 / 10 (a visit to enquiry rate of 10%) = 5
  • 5 / 4 (a conversion rate of 25%) = 1.25
  • $1000 revenue x 1.25 = $1250
  • $1250 / 4 = $312.50 is what the ad is worth to you to break even and you’re spending $80… hooray! That is actually worth it in this example

You probably don’t need another reason, but I will share one theory with you.

I think that people are suspicious of ads or “promoted listings” on the Yellow Pages website.

They think to themselves “don’t get up in my face, I will decide who is best to serve me. My list of decision criteria does not include the item ‘whoever pays the most to be up in my face’ “.

There isn’t that level of distrust with a Google search because the ads are actually helpful. They are relevant. They are in context.

And just like Google Adwords, a fairer way for Yellow to offer you online ads would be to offer you the Cost-Per-Click model too. You could set your bid price and an algorithim could calculate who’s ad will show.

But you won’t see such an offer for Yellow because it makes it too easy for you to quit. You could run it for 1 day, or 1 week and spend $20 and you’d have enough information to decide to quit or not.

Yellow doesn’t like that. Yellow likes to lock you in for 12 months and works really hard at making sure you don’t measure effectiveness.

What do you think?

Have you recently quit and now feel good/bad about that decision?

Are you struggling with the decision right now?

Have your say in the comments below.

Is Your Blog Stale? How Not Updating Your Blog Can Damage Your Business

“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 are all the same thing.

You were probably told one, or all, of these reasons.

3 Reasons Why Writing New Articles For Your Blog Is Good For Your Business

  1. “Your blog will get you better Google rankings for your website. Better rankings = more traffic = more sales”
  2. “Your blog will establish your credibility, expertise and leadership in your industry”
  3. “Your blog will keep content flowing to your customers and potential customers and remind them to buy from you”

They are all great reasons.

So why don’t you keep it updated?

How long has it been since your last article?

  • A month?
  • 3 months?
  • A year?
  • More than a year?

The longer it’s been, the worse you look.

In fact, a stale blog can actually damage your business.

4 Reasons Why A Stale Blog Can Damage Your Business

  1. Gives a bad impression: It looks like you start things but don’t finish them. Potential customers might assume you’ll treat them like that too
  2. Lowers trust: Customers might assume that if your articles/news/blog is out of date then other info on your website might be out of date too – this lowers trust
  3. Less Google love: Google loves fresh content, without fresh content, Google will visit your site less often
  4. You are easy to forget: Subscribers will forget about you. It might have taken just one more article to tip a potential customer over the edge to make a sale, but you didn’t write one today, so you’ll never know

If I’m considering purchasing a product or service and I see a blog on their website, I’ll click on it to check when the last article was written.

If it was written months ago, or even years ago, that’s a bad sign, and a huge red mark against them.

So why did you stop updating it?

3 Reasons Why You Stopped Updating Your Blog

  1. Because you are too busy fighting fires every day, you have no time to spend 1 hour, or 2 hours or longer, just sitting there and writing
  2. Because you forgot. You didn’t schedule it in your calendar so it doesn’t exist in your list of work to do
  3. Because the longer it’s been since your last article, the harder it is to write a new article today because it feels like you have the burden of writing all the future articles on your shoulders too

How You Can Have Fresh Blog Articles Written In Just 15 minutes

Wouldn’t it be great if you could have a new article on your blog every 2 weeks and it only took you 15 minutes?

You can!

It’s a new service I’m offering and here is how it works:

1. Dan Necklen or I will call you and interview you for 15 minutes

2. From this interview we’ll write a 200 – 400 word article that has the following 4 components:

  • A headline that contains phrases that customers may be searching Google for (this is sooooo important)
  • With content that is interesting and puts concepts in layman’s terms (no jargon allowed!)
  • With content that demonstrates your leadership in the industry and quality of your service/products (hooray!)
  • A call to action (we’ll let your customers know what they must do next)

3. We put the article live once it’s written (crediting you as the author because we interviewed you)

And the coolest thing is, you’ll feel like a rock star being interviewed for e-news!

This is your 15 minutes of fame. Take it.

Awesome! How Much Does It Cost?

The price for this service is $240+gst every 2 weeks. Every 2 weeks you get an new article for your blog.

Imagine if each article could contribute even just one sale worth $2000 sometime over the next 12 months. Imagine getting to the end of a 12 month period with 26 articles that can do that… (that’s like $52k)

Call (07) 575 8799 and we can get started with a 4 session trial.

Cheers,

Sheldon Nesdale
Email: sheldon@marketingfirst.co.nz

P.S. Here are 3 examples of articles we’re written:

Job Hunting? Clever, But Simple Marketing Advice For Job Hunters

Looking for a new job?

Does your job hunting plan look like this?

  1. job-applicationsTrawl through job ads on Seek, TradeMe Jobs and a couple of other sites
  2. Find jobs that look interesting and throw your CV at them
  3. Wait
  4. And wait some more
  5. And apply for some more (on the assumption that it takes 100 applications to get an interview)
  6. And wait some more

Does it feel like an enormous waste of time?

That’s because it is!

Try this 5 step approach instead.

5 Steps To You Finding The Job Of Your Dreams

1. Who do you want to work for?

Write a list of the top 3 places you want to work for.

Ignore the fact that they are not hiring right now. That doesn’t matter. Just do it.

Dream big.

Life’s too short to rely on job ads to tell you where you can work.

If you don’t know the company’s very well yet, research them thoroughly through their websites.

You might realise they’re not as awesome as you hoped. Fine, choose another for your top 3 list.

You might find a particular department which you think will feel like home, and you are confident you can make a real difference there and learn lots too. Great! This will give you the passion and energy to do what it takes to end up there.

2. Who’s the boss?

Your mission is to get a 45min meeting with the boss.

Your first reaction might be to contact the HR manager. Wrong! The HR manager can’t help you. They have an ancient recruitment process to follow. They are trained to say no to you.

Bypass them completely.

That’s why you’re going to talk to the boss.

You’ll need to get some background info so, using Google News searches, LinkedIn, his organisations website, and a search on the companies office, find out as much as you can about the boss.

3. How do you get a meeting with the boss?

There are 2 major barriers in your way to achieving this goal:

  1. Gate keepers blocking your access to the boss
  2. The bosses busy schedule

You are going to leap over these barriers.

Here’s how.

First, the receptionist is the gate keeper. They take their role seriously. They are trained to not forward calls that will waste their bosses time. If they sniff out that you are job hunting they will just stop you cold with “we’re not hiring right now” if they get the chance.

Here’s how to get past all that.

Call the receptionist and ask for the boss by their first name, say “Hello there receptionist_name,  is Bob in this morning?”.

When the receptionist asks “who’s calling?” say only your first name. This creates the impression you are on a first name basis.

If you get asked “may I ask what this call is regarding?”, reply with “I’m just starting out in this industry and need career advice and I think Bob can help”.

Get through to their voicemail?

Leave a message like this: “Hi Bob, my name is John Doe, I need some advice on my career and I’m hoping you can help, I’ll call you back later”. Do not leave your phone number. Ever.

Get through to them?

Say this: “Hi Bob, I need some advice on my career and I’m hoping you can help. Can I buy you lunch on Thursday at name_of_the_best_cafe_nearby?”

This works for 4 reasons:

  1. You’re not asking for a job (very hard to give)
  2. You are asking for their advice (easy to give, and they are flattered to be asked, they want to “give back” to the next generation and this is their chance)
  3. Everyone eats lunch so it’s hard to say no to you
  4. You are inviting them to a Cafe they know is good (because you have already asked the receptionist for the name of a cafe nearby that is a favourite for most of the staff)

If Thursday doesn’t work for them, keep suggesting other days until they say yes.

Be persistent.

4. What do you talk about during the lunch appointment?

Your objectives are as follows:

  1. To appear interested, attentive, thoughtful, knowledgeable, and appreciative of their time
  2. To get them to generate a few names of who you should talk too next

The pretence is getting career advice, so briefly tell them what you’ve done so far, where you want to get to in your career (eg a job like theirs) and then ask them how to climb that ladder.

They’ll love to tell you their story.

Probe deeper with more questions during the telling of this story.

Take notes throughout. It shows that you value what they have to say.

Do not launch into a monologue all about you. Everything out of your mouth must be a question.

Towards the end, say “Thank you so much for your time today, who do you think I should talk too next?”

Ask them who they know who might be hiring now (or soon), or might have more career advice, or have another career story to tell you.

Write those contact details down. Ask them for a mobile number.

Each time they give you a name, ask “anyone else?” again and again until they say “No. That’s about it.”

5. What do you do with the names they give you?

For each name they give you you can take a huge shortcut in this process.

Ring them up, ask for them by their first name and when you get through say this: “I was having lunch with Bob from ABC Corp earlier today and he suggested I give you a call. I need some advice on my career. May I buy you lunch on Wednesday…”

6. How do you follow up?

Write a note in your diary to send a email in 2 weeks time.

In that email tell them how the meetings went with the people they recommended you talk to.

Give them an update on what you’ve learnt since you had a meeting with them.

4 weeks after that, find something you disagree with in a news article they have been mentioned in in the last 6 months and send another email stating your reasons why you disagree with their point of view.

Don’t ask (or beg) for a job.

Let them come up with the idea of offering you one.

Why you are doing all this?

Instead of spending your time trawling through job vacancies, and filling in applications, you are choosing to meet the key people in the industry you want to work in.

You will impress them with your get-out-there attitude, your ambition and your drive.

They’ll like you because these are qualities they have themselves.

You’ll remind them of a younger version of themselves and they’ll feel compelled to help you however they can.

If you impress them, they have the power to offer you a job on the spot. They have the power to tell the HR manager “I need this person, I don’t care if there are no vacancies, make one, and make it happen”.

Let’s pretend there are 6 major players in your industry that you would seriously like to work for.

Imagine that you’ve worked through the process above and made efforts to meet every boss.

Let’s recap what you’ve got:

  1. All 6 bosses know your name
  2. You’ve had lunch time meetings with 2 or 3 of these bosses
  3. You have a rare insight into career progression in this industry

Do you think that provides you with an advantage if a vacancy does pop up in the next few weeks?

5 Co-Working Spaces in Auckland, The 6 Lessons I Learnt

Last week I visited all 5 of the co-working spaces in Auckland:

  1. Movers & Shakers, Auckland Central, Dion Bettjeman
  2. Loft503, Auckland Central, Matt Knight 
  3. Generator, Auckland Central, Ryan Wilson
  4. The Kitchen, Grey Lynn, Auckland, Murray Sheard
  5. Bizdojo, Auckland Central, Nick Shewring

I am honoured that every single one of the founders/owners made time for me and my questions. I loved hearing their stories.

6 Lessons I Learnt About Setting Up A Co-Working Space in New Zealand:

1. Set The Stage

  • Set the style
  • Set the theme
  • Set the scene
  • Set the culture
  • Set the values
  • and you will attract those that want to belong

2. Have Wow Factor

  • Have wow factor when people walk in the door
  • Eg 1 Movers And Shakers has a giant inflatable brain-shaped meeting room, all lit up with LED’s + the desks made with old pallets and ply wood + globes of light hang down at irregular heights
  • Eg 2 Loft503 has sleek modern high-end glossy black furniture
  • Eg 3 Generator has a bar in the lounge with a full time barman/barista
  • Eg 4 The Kitchen has a lunchroom kitchen where they all get around the dinning room table for lunch every day
  • Eg 5 The Bizdojo has set up a creative space (across the road, called a “co.space”) which has high-end business machines, a photography studio,  3D printing, and industrial sewing machines. Their attitude is “we have built it so come and use it and create something awesome”

3. Party Lots

  • I’m not talking about boozing, I’m talking about making a place for people to come and talk with each other
  • If you’re huge, host weekly get-togethers for the co-workers to ensure they mingle
  • At least every month host a get-together for the co-workers, their networks, and other connected people you know (and want to know) in your city
  • This is just about the only marketing you need. People experience the space and tell others about it, and these messages filter through the eco-system to potential co-workers

4. Hot-Deskers Are Not A Gold Mine

  • If you think providing desks for hot deskers is a gold mine, think again
  • Their commitment is low, the terms are short, your income from them is small, and worst of all, the disruption to permanent co-workers is high
  • To make money on them you have to oversell the space (just like gyms do), and hope they don’t all turn up on the same day (don’t worry, the chances are low)
  • The lesson for me is: Have 1 or 2 hot desks that people can use to trial the space for a few days or a week and then sell them on a permanent spot

5. You Are A Connector

  • As the founder, it’s your job to help your co-workers succeed. Do lots of one-on-one sessions. If they don’t succeed, it’s your fault
  • Help them discover what they need, and then help them get it
  • Help them out grow you
  • Connect them with who and what they need to connect with
  • Delegate and share jobs amongst the co-workers. This eases the burden on you and helps them give back to the community

6. Co-Working Is Living The Future, Today

  • Over a hundred years ago factories were invented. Thanks to the internet now you don’t have to work in a factory, you can work for yourself, in your bedroom, wearing your pj’s and work for clients that you choose
  • The problem is, even with all this awesome hardware (Smart Phones, Laptops, Tablets, PC’s – which are so cheap you can have all 4) and communication software (Email, cheap mobile calls, SMS, Facebook, Skype), you can be “connected” but lonely and isolated at the same time
  • That’s were co-working is awesome because it brings the face-to-face back into your life that so many of us crave. Here are 14 more reasons why co-working is awesome.
  • (If you are going to continue wearing pj’s to your co-working space, at least get ones with a very secure button at the front)

Photos of Auckland’s Co-Working Spaces:

IMG_4585
The inflatable brain (meeting room) in the centre of Movers & Shakers, Britomart

 

Crates and Desks at Movers and Shakers
Workspaces made from pallets and plywood at Movers and Shakers

 

The sleek modern high-end glossy black furniture at Loft503
The sleek modern high-end glossy black furniture at Loft503 (in this case, the kitchen)

 

IMG_4596
Sleek, shiny, classy furniture at Loft503 (in this case, the 90secondsTV corner)

 

The fulltime barista/bar tender at Generator
The fulltime barista/bar tender at Generator

 

IMG_4600
The “Plaque of Legends” at Generator. Who is the pie eating champion this month?

 

IMG_4617
The “maker-space” at Biz Dojo

 

How Many Co-working Spaces in Hamilton?

Good news for you if you can answer “YES!” to these 3 questions:

  1. Are you are freelancer in Hamilton?
  2. Do you work from a home office?
  3. 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 all the complications of lease terms and becoming a landlord).

But now SODA Inc (Hamiltons business incubator), has just pushed 2 companies out of the nest (they have grown so fast and big, they had to go out into the big wide world and get their own office), which has made room for 7 freelancers to join the space.

You’ll get most of the perks of living in the middle of a business incubator in terms of connections and networking.

They have an ad on TradeMe right now: http://www.trademe.co.nz/property/commercial-property-for-lease/auction-550939857.htm

Thinking of starting your own co-working space in Hamilton anyway? Let me know and I’ll help you spread the word.

Will You Join the 2013 Marketing Bootcamp in Tauranga?

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 by in a blink of an eye and you want to be more proactive and in control of your business this year
  • YES! If you want to set new goals for your business and for yourself personally for 2013, and see them achieved
  • YES! If you are sick to death of wasting time and money on marketing and advertising that doesn’t work
  • YES! If you want to learn new-age sales and marketing techniques, tips and tricks to help your business thrive and can be implemented straight away
  • YES! If you think it would be valuable to work with a small group of marketing pro’s and other small business operators who you can bounce ideas around with and who can keep you accountable to the actions you will take toward your goals

If you answered “YES” to those questions then the 2012 Marketing Bootcamp IS for you. (If it’s not for you, can you think of someone who needs this sort of help? Yes? Well, get this content to them today.)

During this 12-month bootcamp you’ll learn how to:

  1. Define your point of difference and shout it from the rooftops
  2. Create and perfect your own, memorable ‘elevator pitch’
  3. Develop and implement a sales process that’s tailored to your business
  4. Structure your pricing to suit your business (and your goals)
  5. Write proposals that make saying ‘yes’ easy for your prospects
  6. Collect the perfect customer testimonial and put it to best use
  7. Extract the most value from networking events
  8. Write articles and copy that inspire action (perfect for websites or blogs)
  9. Use social media as a marketing tool for your business
  10. Deliver outstanding presentations with confidence

Each month you’ll attend

  • A 1-hour workshop delivered by Dan Necklen and Sheldon Nesdale
  • A coffee catchup in between sessions, to report back on your progress to the group

Our commitment

  • Our sessions will be fast, focused, and tailored to suit your needs and your business
  • You’ll have the opportunity to put forward any topics you’d like us to cover
  • We’re so sure you’ll get value from the bootcamp, we’re offering a 110% money back guarantee (that’s right, there’s no risk)

About Sheldon & Dan

  • “Hi, I’m Sheldon. My mission on this earth is to help turn your business into a goal achieving machine for you as the owner. To find out more about me read through https://www.marketingfirst.co.nz/about-me/
  • “Hi, I’m Dan. My purpose in life is help small businesses realise their potential and become (even more) awesome. To find out more about me read through http://likeable.co.nz/about-me/

Included within the marketing bootcamp:

  • Twelve 1-hour bootcamp workshops (one per month)
  • Twelve 1-page guides (one for each topic) + any other materials or guest speakers we need to pull in
  • Twelve group coffee catchup’s in between sessions (including the coffee itself!)

Cost:

  • This is a 12 month commitment for those who are serious about dedicating sustained effort to their sales and marketing in 2013
  • The cost is 562.50 per quarter (this is a $44 per week investment in yourself and your business)
  • There’s no risk to you thanks to our 110% money back guarantee (yes, we’re serious!)

Bootcamp Schedule

Define your point of difference and shout it from the rooftops
10.30am Tuesday 22nd January

Create and perfect your own, memorable ‘elevator pitch’
10.30am Tuesday 19th February

Develop your own sales process that’s tailored to your business
10.30am Tuesday 19th March

Structure your pricing to suit your business (and your goals)
10.30am Tuesday 23rd April

Write proposals that make saying ‘yes’ easy for your prospects
10.30am Tuesday 21st May

Collect the perfect customer testimony and put it to best use
10.30am Tuesday 18th June

Mid year re-cap and skills review
10.30am Tuesday 23rd July

Extract the most value from networking events
10.30am Tuesday 20th August

Write copy that inspires action (perfect for websites or blogs)
10.30am Tuesday 17th September

Use social media as a marketing tool for your business
10.30am Tuesday 22nd October

Deliver outstanding presentations with confidence
10.30am Tuesday 19th November

End of year re-cap and skills review
10.30am Tuesday 17th December

Will you let this year slip by faster than last year or will you take control of it?

Imagine getting to December 2013 and looking back on your year and thinking “This year was the best year of my life! I set aggressive goals for my business and for myself and I bloody-well achieved them!”

Or will you just think like everyone else “Oh… 2013 is over already. Wow, that sure went quick. I hope next year goes slower.”

You can have the first scenario.

The first step is to secure your place in the 2013 Marketing Bootcamp.

Contact me before 5pm Friday 18th January (either by phone, email, or by filling in the form below). Spaces are limited to 6 business owners so be quick.

[contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]

15 Reasons Why Co-Working In The City Centre Is Awesome

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 from home for 3.5 years.  I have now been in a co-working space for 10 weeks, and now I realise what I was missing out on.

15 Good Reasons Why Co-Working In The City Centre Is Awesome

1. Growing your business is good

In a co-working space you can network without even trying. You don’t have to go out in the evenings for networking when you can network with your co-workers and the people they bring in everyday.

It’s easy to generate new business when you are in a co-working space because you quickly become comfortable sharing your clients around, sticking to your strengths, and outsourcing the jobs you don’t like to make room for the jobs you do like.

2. Collaborating is good

Imagine being a few metres away from 2 marketing guys, a designer/web/seo guy, an architect, a film guy, and a programmer guy.

Imagine being able to dream up start-up businesses on a Monday and have it generating it’s first customers on Friday.

Imagine being able to tell a client “what you need next is high quality video for your website, that’s Jono’s speciality actually and we share an office together”.

3. Commuting is good

Use the commute for exercise (ride your bike), or for listening to audio-business-books, or if you bus, you can engage with your family and friends via Facebook.

Don’t listen to music or to the radio because you’ll get *37% angrier in traffic jams.

4. Casual chats around the water-cooler are good

Heard of cross-polination of ideas? It’s amazing how often ideas and concepts in one field can apply to a seemingly unrelated field. It’s those casual chats around the water cooler on breaks that can provide the breakthrough moments with projects you are stuck on.

5. Getting distracted is good

You might think that working in a co-working space would be distracting.

It is.

But it’s a good thing.

A good distraction is one that creates a mental break so when you return to your task you feel refreshed.

*73% of distractions in a c0-work context can actually be applied to your work in some way. But only *18% of distractions in your home office are useful.

The policy in our office is: If my headphones are on, please don’t disturb me. If they’re off, let’s chat, unless it looks like I might be ‘in the zone’.

6. Celebrating successes is good

We have a bicycle bell that we ring when anyone makes a sale. It’s good to celebrate your successes, big and small, with others.

7. Being invited to things is good

A co-working space is like a family and so you inherit brothers and sisters who work near you everyday. You’ll get invitations for events and gatherings during lunch or in the evenings. You might say no to some, but you’ll say yes to lots.

You’ll get more invitations than you would have from your home office.

You’ll make new friends, grow your network, find clients, and most importantly tell your story and make mental notes to change your story the next time you tell it. You’ll be inspired by other peoples stories.

8. Being watched is good

Just having people near you that might catch you wasting time surfing the web creates a pressure to not waste your time.

This is different from a office cubicle as a employee where you often have privacy on your screen and can get away with it. In a co-working space you often have your screen in an open plan environment in view of others.

9. Feedback is good

Did you know that you are an awesome decision making machine? Some decisions are big, others a small. Obviously feedback on your big decisions is good, but feedback on little decisions is good too. This isn’t about changing your mind based on every little bit of feedback, it’s about simply taking it into account and being informed. This helps you make better decisions.

Feedback via phone, email or text message is cold. Face to face feedback is rich and full. You’ll be able to read facial expressions, body language, gauge their interest with their level of eye contact, and use your  internal lie detector to discard some of the things they say.

10. Corporate meeting space for clients is good

You didn’t want clients in your home so you never invited them, so you were left with cafes which are often too noisy and busy.

You look like a pro with several meeting rooms to choose from, and your clients pick up the creative vibe from the space too.

11. Different scenery is good

What’s on your computer screen may change everyday but what’s on your wall, floor, desk, and outside the window doesn’t change much.

In a co-working space in town, you’ll see different things every day – interesting looking people on the street (and in the office), funny accidents, serious accidents, emergency vehicles zooming past that make you wonder where they are going, street parades, protest marches, day time stag and hen parties.

Some will make you smile, some will make you laugh, some might make you sad, some might make you angry, sometimes you’ll care, sometimes you won’t.

The point is, you’ll have a emotional reaction and we are emotional beings and we need to flex our emotions like we flex our muscles to be healthy.

12. Having work stories is good

When you get home from the office you might have a story or 2 to tell your family about your day.

Working from home you won’t.

The best you’ll do is “I got this email from this guy and his punctuation was all over the place!”

13. Home baking is good

Every week we have one of our spouses cook up some home baking for us to bring in and share. Yum!

14. Time away from your family is good

It’s good to get home and having the kids say they missed you. It makes you appreciate your time together in the mornings, evenings and weekends.

And you get the freedom to linger at home for half a morning or half a day anytime you want.

15. Being asked what you do again and again is good

Being more social means that you’ll get asked “so, what do you do?” a lot.

You can use this opportunity to refine your “elevator pitch” everytime you say it (or just say something weird and see how people react).

Either way you get to listen to yourself. If you don’t actually like what you’re saying you get to come to the co-working space and re-invent yourself with the help of your work mates.

What Do You Think?

Disagree? Agree? Got more to add to the list? Let me know in the comments below.

Join Us?

I work in a co-working space in Tauranga city called Studio64. Would you like to join us?

Call me on (07) 575 8799 and you can come for a visit. Check out our Facebook group to see what’s happening.

Elsewhere in New Zealand? Have a look at NZStartUps.co.nz and find one near you.

*All statistics used in this article were made up.

This is part 2 of 2. Read part one: 5 Reasons Why Working From Home Sucks

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 Awesome.

I worked from home for 3.5 years.  I have now been in a co-working space for 10 weeks, and now I realise what I was missing out on.

5 Reasons Why Working From Home Sucks

1. You get lonely and depressed

Are you the type of person who has the need for face to face time with other humans built into you? I think most of us do.

A day full of phone calls, emails, Twitter, Facebook – all these interactions don’t satisfy this need.

Ever wonder why you feel glum or depressed when you’ve spent long periods alone? It’s because interacting with other people releases endorphines into your brain and make you feel good.

Solitary confinement is the worst punishment that prisons have in their arsenal for a reason. It breaks even the most solitary of people. So why imprison yourself?

2. Your ideas are smaller

Let’s face it, are your best ideas the ones that you come up with on your own, or the ones that you refine again and again after you bounce them other other people?

3. You get distracted

No one might be walking behind you and bust you for watching porn or pointless YouTube videos or reading the news.

4. You a turning weird

Without frequent social interaction you’ll develop weird personality traits.

And the worst thing is that you won’t know that you’re turning weird.

 5. You work too much (or not enough)

Working at home you’ll either work too much (eg checking your email as soon as you wake at 5.30am, or at 10pm at night), or at the weekends at the expense of family or social time.

Or you’ll work too little and give in to distractions or procrastination.

What Do You Think?

Disagree? Agree? Let me know in the comments below.

*All statistics used in this article were made up.

This is part 1 of 2. Read part two: 15 Reasons Why Co-Working In The City Centre Is Awesome.

Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

My notes on Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner.Blank white book w/path

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 was more than ten minutes late picking up their kids.

The number of late pick-ups doubled.

The incentive had plainly backfired.

Continue reading “Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner”

In the retail business? Waiting for the world to change back to the way it was?

Can you answer yes to any of these questions?:

  1. Are you in the retail business?
  2. Are you waiting for the good-old-days to come back in terms of the economy and retail sales?
  3. Do you want the world to change back to the way it was before the recession?

If so, I have good news.

The good news is: You can stop waiting!

Those days are never coming back.

Sorry.

So you have no choice but to do the following:

  1. Double the amount of value you deliver through your service
  2. Halve the number of products (and services) you offer so it’s obvious you are a specialist in your chosen area
  3. Choose a single target market and declare that you are actively excluding everyone else
  4. Double your prices to signal to your customers (and competitors) that the improvements you just made with #1, #2, #3 position you as the best in your category

For each of the retail business on the following list, think about how you’d apply these actions to each one:

  • A music store
  • A sports foot wear store
  • A jeweller
  • A cafe
  • A restaurant

2 things for you to do in the comments below:

  1. Either add your retail business below and we’ll analyse it for you
  2. Or analyse a business on the list add your notes below

Own A Cafe, Restaurant, Bar But Have No Website? Get One Before 2013

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 asked why they don’t have a website, owners typically come up with one or more of the following objections.

(Have similar thoughts gone through your head? If so, it’s time to update your thinking.)

1. “I don’t know how, I’m not good with computers”

  • Then learn. Or at least find a family member or staff member to take care of the basics.

2. “Websites cost too much”

7 Simple TradeMe Tips: Turn Your Trash Into Treasure

sales-funnel

Ahh TradeMe, we all love it 🙂

(And the recent copy-cat auction sites are hilarious. They have no chance!)

You’ve heard the phrase “one mans trash is another mans treasure”?

On TradeMe, that old saying is certainly true.

Do you want to squeeze every last dollar out of each TradeMe sale?

You are about to find out how.

Think of the process of selling on TradeMe as a funnel

Above the funnel is the entire TradeMe audience. Your task is to push a volume of prospective buyers down your funnel.

You have 4 Goals:

  1. Get as many page views as you can
  2. Get as many people on the watchlist as you can
  3. Get as many bidders as you can
  4. Get a bidding frenzy going in the closing minutes

How do you achieve these goals?

Here are 7 simple but cunning tips about how to turn your junk to gold using TradeMe.

1. Research how your other sellers are selling the item

Spend 10 – 60 mins checking out the competition before you list your item.

What headline are they using? How can you improve on it? What extra keywords are they missing?

What photos have they taken? How can you improve the angles and detail?

What questions have bidders asked?  Avoid annoying your bidders by answering these questions ahead of time in your description.

What do they say in their description? What extra details are they missing? Can you tell a story (about the reasons your selling) or write an interesting story about the item?

You task is to learn from their mistakes.

2. Set the auction close to 9pm Sunday night

What you want is a bidding frenzy in the closing minutes of your auction.

To get this, an auction close at Sunday night will mean all your auction watchers will get an email that morning reminding them to come back that night for the closing minutes.

If your auction ends on a weekday, or too early in the morning, or too late at night, you will miss out on that bidding frenzy.

3. Run your auction for 10 days

Did you know it costs only 25c to run your auction for an extra 3 days? You’ll make that money back many times over.

All you have to do is start your auction after 9pm on Thursday night (or first thing on Friday morning).

(Don’t forget to set the end date manually to 9pm the following Sunday as per the tip above).

4. Be ridiculously honest in the description

I mean over-the-top honest.

When you describe the defects and imperfections in detail, buyers get giddy with trust and bid more and more.

Your natural tendency is to not mention these defects. You think it will scare some people off.  Sure, some people will be scared off. Let them go.  Lot’s more people will be attracted like seagulls to fish n chips. So fight your instinct to hide the defects. This tip will make you money.

It works because on TradeMe we are all strangers. We are strangers buying from each other for the first (and last) time, so we are looking for reasons to trust each other.

We trust shop keepers that we can look in the eye. We trust online ecommerce sites that look professional and legitimate. But it’s hard to trust a stranger.

Do I trust you will pay? Do you trust me that the goods will turn up in the condition you expect?

Revealing defects and imperfections generates trust.

Trust is highly valuable.

People pay more when they trust you.

5. Always sell at $1 No Reserve

What is the number one reason people flock to TradeMe in their millions every day?

To find a bargain.

And nothing screams “BARGAIN!!” more than “$1 No Reserve”.

Put “**$1 NO RES**” at the end of your title and at the top of your description.

This works because it gets bids very early – within minutes or a few hours of listing you should have a few.

And most important of all, each person who places a bid is automatically adding your auction to their watchlist, so they will get emailed next week to say your auction is about to close. That gives them another chance to make another bid, and that’s when you get a last minute bidding frenzy.

I know, I know, it’s a little bit scary selling at $1 No Reserve.  But trust me, this works. (TradeMe will charge you a $3 withdrawal fee if you get scared and cancel the auction).

I do $1 No Reserve on everything I sell on TradeMe.

My biggest success was when I did $1 NO Reserve for my car. (My wife and my dad were freaking out and thought I was crazy).

I’d been offered $2000 cash from Turners Auctions but got $4500 in my TradeMe auction. Probably $1000 above what I thought it was worth.

This works. Do $1 No Reserve.

Let the market decide what your item is worth. It might be worth more than you think (especially when that buying frenzy kicks in).

Another bonus is that your item will sell. You don’t have to muck around re-listing your items and waiting even longer to convert your junk to gold and get that gold in your pocket where it belongs.

6. Pay for extra photos

Yes, yes, it is a bit cheeky that TradeMe charges you an extra 10c for photos these days, but its worth it.

Upload about 5 photos of your item from a variety of angles. Include a few photos of all the items laid out nicely on a table, photos of the packing/box, and most importantly: close-ups of any defects or damage.

This is less about being honest and fair and doing the right thing (although that’s important), and more about boosting your credibility so the bidders trust you more and bid more.

7. Pay the extra $3.95 for Feature Combo

This adds a photo beside your listing, TradeMe says its “twice as likely to sell” (and I believe this claim), the title is bold, and it features your auction first in the categories.

This is a classic Return on Investment decision: ask yourself the question “will I get more than $4.00 extra for my auction with this extra exposure?”

The answer is Yes, yes you will.

What’s Next?

Try these tips for yourself. Come back and write your success story below.

Interview with Cheryl Reynolds, CEO of SODA Inc, Hamilton’s Business Incubator and Accelerator

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 so much time for me guys!).

As a bonus I brought my good friend Alistair McMahon with me who shares my passion for start-ups and marketing.

Wow. What an incubator. They have achieved so much in just 3 short years and 3 days (their birthday was last Monday).

Here are my notes about SODA Inc.

What is SODA Inc?

  • SODA Inc is a fusion of incubator/accelerator + cluster
  • The cluster is a fusion of StartUps and Existing Industry
  • Lesson for me: I think that sometimes existing industry can see StartUp’s as nimble, agile threat’s that are determined to steal business from them, so I love to see that SODA is working at bridging the gap between startups and existing industry and pointing out the opportunity for both

Empowering story’s everywhere

  • The SODA Inc identity is fused to the building and it’s rich history as a soda bottling plant in the 1900
  • Each company which has been carefully selected to be included in the incubator has a story: a history, a present, and a future
  • One tenant of note is Alistair Grigg, COO of Xero. Alastair oversees all aspects of Xero product development and service delivery, from design to customer support, but from Hamilton where he chooses to live with his family. How 2012 is that??
  • Lesson for me: Make sure I have a story to tell. People love stories, they identify with stories, they believe stories.

There is a empowered women component:

  • It starts with in the 1870’s when Mary Jane Innes seized control of the brewery business, from her inept husband and made it a roaring success
  • Cheryl herself her started planning SODA 8 years ago and now runs it
  • And now Rachel Wark as the communication’s manager
  • Many of the incubated businesses are either women run and women led
  • Lesson for me: About damn time. Hooray for the end of the male dominated business sector

A beautifully designed and modern space

  • The design of the space is a fusion of open plan but partitions/cubicles to provide a workspace you can call your own
  • No doors, but doorways for a distinct feeling of territory (good for minimising distractions)
  • Lesson for me: The “wow” factor is so important. It’s essential to create a space that has form and function and design so the residents feel good, but also it needs to impress the daily visitors

It’s hard to get in. It’s harder to stay in

  • Cheryl: “We are not for profit, not for loss”
  • The entry criteria is very strict, and must be so. All incubated companies must have exceptional stories, exceptional growth potential, and with a global expansion focus
  • If an incubated company doesn’t double it’s key metric every 6 months they are out
  • Lesson for me: I love that! It keeps the residents motivated to push forward and the SODA team/mentors to push forward too 

Who funded it to get it off the ground?

  • Once the company was formed, the Hamilton Council donated the space
  • Wintec provided initial funding for the fit out
  • NZTE approached SODA and now the programmes are NZTE accredited
  • Lesson for me: An interesting hybrid between public funding grants and private investment

Opened in 2009 but when did the work really begin?

  • pre-2004: Cheryl’s series of successes, failures and exits
  • 2004: Cheryl started planning SODA
  • 2008: Board formed and corporate sponsors in
  • 2009: Open for business
  • Lesson for me: The public only sees the 3 year history when the doors opened, but so much work had to happen to lead up to that point

Building an ecosystem

  • SODA is growing not just a StartUp ecosystem for Hamilton, but for New Zealand.
  • Alongside it’s day to day activities they have a number of initiatives in place that don’t directly contribute to their own key metrics but are happening because they contribute to strengthening and growing the eco-system
  • One such initiative is “SODA Labs”: The CEO’s of 3 external, well established companies (plus 1 wildcard from the incubator) are invited into the room for 90 mins. Often those CEO’s walk out with a long standing competitive dispute resolved or a joint venture. SODA provides the neutral venue
  • Lesson for me: I love the idea of building an ecosystem that benefits everyone

What’s Next?

A visit to Bizdojo in Auckland.

Business Facebook Pages: 6 Simple Tips For Your Business Page on Facebook

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 the business

  • You can always tell when people do this because under the business name it says “Add as Friend” instead of just clicking “Like”
  • This introduces strange elements like “Date of Birth” and “Hometown” and “Marriage Status” that just don’t fit. This is because Facebook Personal profiles are for people, not businesses
  • The “Add as Friend” process is odd and cumbersome for your Fans. It creates a barrier that you just don’t need
  • Also, this is a violation of Facebooks Terms of Service that state that everybody on the planet can have one login only and that each personal profile must be a real person not a business.
  • Anyone with a personal Facebook account can set up a business page. If you’re an employee, that’s fine, you won’t be personally identified on the business page, and you can set up additional admins so that when you leave, you can remove your own access and everything still runs smoothly
  • If you’ve made this mistake you can convert your Personal Profile to a Facebook Business Page

#2. Ensure your Cover Photo is the right size

  • Set your cover photo to exactly 851px by 315px
  • If you don’t, then Facebook will do a really bad job of resizing it for you and introduce graininess and “artifacts” around parts of the image (especially any text)

#3. Add a Facebook widget or “Like Box” to your website

  • Don’t be tempted to just add a Facebook icon and link, add a whole widget! Facebook calls it the “Like Box
  • Set the widget to show 20+ fans (the more the better)
  • The genius of this is that Facebook will automatically show the friends of the person looking at the webpage which will encourage them to “Like” you too. That is “social proof” that makes people think “if my friends have liked these guys, I will too!”
  • Turn off the other junk like a stream of message
  • This is the easiest way to get Facebook followers

#4. Get a Vanity Url as soon as you can

#5. Consider Facebook Advertising/Promotion

  • Consider Facebook text-ad advertising. It’s ability to target specific groups of people in your target market is unmatched on the planet. However, people are on Facebook to socialise, not to click on ads so Click-Through-Rates are poor
  • Consider promoting one or two of your posts using the $5/$10 promotion button. This can expose your messages to a huge audience

#6. Use Polls for creating engaging content

  • Polls work really well for getting people talking about 3 or more choices you set
  • Everybody who votes automatically tells all their friends what they’ve done so the word spreads virally

What do you need to make your Facebook Business Page really work for you?

  • Do you need help with the initial set up of each your Facebook Business Page?
  • Do you need someone who can provide you with advice, strategy, techniques, know-how, shortcuts, tips and tricks on how to use various social media platforms to generate results for your business?
  • Do you need training so you can control it all yourself so you don’t need to pay anyone to do it for you?

I know some people who can help with this, so let me know if you’d like to talk to them.

Customer Survey Package

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 partake in a market research survey.

Do you leap at the chance?

2. Imagine you are out and about and get asked to fill in a satisfaction survey…

You get half way through, does it suddenly occur to you how pointless the questions are?

Maybe it occurs to you “surely they will get so little usable information back they really shouldn’t have bothered!”

3. Imagine you get emailed a link to a survey with a free prize at the end…

So you start it, expecting it to take 2 or 3 minutes, but it turns into a 25 minute marathon, so you rush blindly through the rest of the answers just to qualify for the prize.

And then you get to the end and you realise it’s not a free prize, it’s the chance to win a free prize, so you get angry because you’ve wasted your time for no reward.

And just as bad, you’ve provided them with a useless response anyway because you didn’t even read most of the questions.

Sound familiar? (I’m looking at you Subway).

There are 2 major problems with Customer Survey’s these days:

  1. The customers experience is horrible. Most survey’s are boring and feel pointless
  2. The whole point of them is to provide actionable information to aid business decisions, right? Well, they they fail dismally at that

Well, I have good news for you, there is a better way.

There is a way to generate satisfaction with a survey rather than just measuring satisfaction.

  • Do you want to know more about what turns on your customers?
  • Do you want to explore opportunities to grow your customer base, or sell more to your existing customers?
  • Do you want to identify defects in your service that you can fix immediately?
  • Do you want to be customer-led and pro-active rather than fall behind your competitors?
  • Do you want to take action from the results rather than just file them on a shelf somewhere to get dusty?
  • Do you want to craft questions that won’t bore your clients to tears?
  • Do you want to ask only the most important questions because you know people will get bored if there are more than 10?
  • Do you want to motivate your customers to provide you with full answers rather than tick-the-box responses?
  • Do you want to communicate to your customers that you really care about their responses?

If you answered “Yes” to these questions, then this is for you.

This Customer Survey Package Is Not For You If…

If you already have a good feeling for what your results will be and just want the data to back up your hunch, walk away now.

I have zero tolerance for that crap.

I’ll strip back your questions to the bare basics and give your customers every chance to answer in the way they want to rather than how you or your boss wants them to answer.

This way you’ll actually get results you can take action on, rather than ones that can immediately start to accumulate dust on a shelf somewhere.

Do you need to pretty much copy the questions from previous years so you can show statistical improvement?

Too bad. I don’t care about the past. I just care about how your customers today can help you adapt to the customers in your future.

So leave your past behind and let’s tap into your customers minds and future-proof your business today.

Q: “How Much Does it Cost?”

  • $1800.00
  • No hosting fees

Q: “What’s involved?”

We will start with a short meeting. I will ask you questions such as:

  • What do you want to achieve?
  • What action will you take if the results show x, or y?
  • What questions do you think we should ask?
  • How will you invite customers to fill it in? (eg by email invitation, hyperlink on your website, or advertising)
  • What incentive will you provide for them to fill it in? What’s in it for them? (“Out of the goodness of their heart” will only get you so far)

Geeky Technical Stuff

  • I use open source software. My favourite is Lime Survey (check out the demo) or Google Forms or Survey Monkey
  • If your website is on an Apache server running php and MySQL, I can host the survey on one of your sub-domains eg http://survey.yourwebsite.co.nz
  • Otherwise, I will host the survey on one of my subdomains eg http://yoursurvey.marketingfirst.co.nz, or we could purchase a new domain for your survey if you are really serious

Want to Find Out More?

Your Name: *
Your Email: *
Your Phone: *
Your Website: http://
Message:
Write this code in the box provided: * captcha

Market Research Package

  • 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 Market Research Package For Me?”

  • Are you thinking about launching a new product or service a little bit outside of your domain?
  • Is the growth curve flat in your industry and you know you need to innovate now to survive/thrive?
  • Thinking of buying out an existing business and want to know what you’re really in for in that market?

If you answered “Yes” to these questions, then this package is for you.

Q: “How Much Does it Cost?”

  • $3600.00

Q: “What’s involved?”

We would start with a short meeting. I will ask you questions such as:

  • What core competencies are you bringing that make you think you’ll succeed?
  • What drives you?
  • Why are you changing the status quo?
  • Who’s on the team?
  • What human resources do we have?
  • What missing skills do we need to find?
  • What does success look like?
  • Where do you want the business to be in 12 months/24 months from now?

Want to Find Out More?

[contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]

Tauranga 2013: A Business Incubator, A Business Accelerator, And 3 Co-Working Spaces

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 accelerator and 3 co-working spaces here in Tauranga. That’s my vision.

But one step at a time. The first step for me on this journey is research.

Research into what has worked well and what hasn’t.

I don’t want to re-invent the wheel. I want to learn from the mistakes of the past. I want to learn from the best.

First up is Grind in New York.

8 quick facts about Grind co-working space in New York:

  1. Open plan floor + hot desks + lockers + bookable meeting rooms
  2. Free, high quality coffee
  3. “Frictionless” membership and entry into the building
  4. A “wall of awesome” that celebrates and showcases successes that Grind members have had
  5. Existing members invite new members
  6. Furniture chosen for its sustainability and low-environmental impact
  7. Coming soon: “the agora. In the future we’ll be rolling out tools that encourage Grindists to tap into the skills of other Grindists.”
  8. Cost: US$500/month membership (of US$35/day)

Lessons for me:

  • A very cool name. A combination of “the daily grind” in an ironic sense + a reference to coffee that black liquid that wakes us up and we meet over
  • It’s simple/spartan and uncluttered: A big open plan floor with desks, office chairs and couches. But…
  • It doesn’t feel like a temporary place with a short lease. It feels permanent. I thought I could start with a cheap 12 month lease somewhere but now I’m thinking that might be a mistake

More co-working spaces for me to check out

Want to Help?

  • I’ve started a list of people who share my vision and want to help. Want to join this list? Say so in the comments below

The Lean Startup: How Constant Innovation Creates Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries

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 Continue reading “The Lean Startup: How Constant Innovation Creates Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries”

Have A Great Idea For A Start-Up Company But Worried Someone Will Steal It?

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 great and could potentially be turned into Start-Up company’s, but we hesitate getting started or even sharing the idea with people because we are worried the idea will quickly be stolen and we will end up with nothing.

Sound familiar?

I bet it does.

You and I both have this fear I’m sure.

Here’s what Eric Ries has to say on the issue:

The most common objection I have heard over the years to building an Minimal Viable Product is fear of competitors – especially large established companies – stealing a startup’s ideas.

If only it were so easy to have a good idea stolen!

Part of the special challenge of being a startup is the near impossibility of having your idea, company, or product be noticed by anyone, let alone a competitor.

In fact, I have often given entrepreneurs fearful of this issue the following assignment: take one of your ideas (one of your lesser insights, perhaps), find the name of the relevant product manager at an established company who has responsibility for that area, and try to get that company to steal your idea. Call them up, write them a memo, send them a press release—go ahead, try it.

The truth is that most managers in most companies are already overwhelmed with good ideas. Their challenge lies in prioritization and execution, and it is those challenges that give a startup hope of surviving.

If a competitor can out execute a startup once the idea is known, the startup is doomed anyway.

The reason to build a new team to pursue an idea is that you believe you can accelerate through the Build-Measure-Learn feedback loop faster than anyone else can.

If that’s true, it makes no difference what the competition knows.

If it’s not true, a startup has much bigger problems, and secrecy won’t fix them.

Sooner or later, a successful startup will face competition from fast followers.

A head start is rarely large enough to matter, and time spent in stealth mode – away from customers – is unlikely to provide a head start.

The only way to win is to learn faster than anyone else.

What do you think about this? Does this allay some of your fears? Useful? Not useful?

Let me know in the comments below.

Quickguide to LinkedIn Part 2: How To Milk LinkedIn – The 8 Most Important Cows

(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 (or “Cows”) of LinkedIn For You To Milk

1. Customise your profile address url

2. Join at least 10 groups

  • Join a set of groups that paint a picture of your interests
  • Include several dedicated to your city, several to your country, and a few international ones
  • Don’t bother reading the discussions in those groups. Don’t bother starting discussions yourself.  Just join to get the “badges” on your profile

3. Be creative with your job titles

  • Have some fun with them
  • Poke fun at yourself
  • Be a little outrageous
  • I’ve created a website that lists all of New Zealand hot pools so my job title for that is “Head Hot Hydro Honcho”.
  • Stupid? Yes. Silly? Yes. Entertaining and different that might brighten someones day even for a moment? Yes.

4. Be creative with your job descriptions

  • Use numbers to made things concrete Eg “Developed 47 business plans, created 53 advertising plans, wrote 54,327 words for newspaper ads”
  • Take a guess at the numbers rather than painstakingly count, and don’t round them off
  • The longer ago a role was for you, the more you should simplify your experience there to a single project, or the biggest impact you made, or a long lasting improvement you made. Tell a story
  • Say something controversial
  • Take a stand on an issue
  • Wake people up
  • For example, in one of my roles I say “When clients come to me for a new website, I don’t give a damn about what they want, I only care about what THEIR customers want.”
  • The worst you can do is be boring. The world is full of boring. Don’t add to it.

5. Write your summary last

  • Weave together elements of your past, your attitude in the present, and your plans and ambitions for your future

6. Be the first to connect

  • Every time you meet someone face-to-face (or talk to them for a reasonable time over the phone), find them on LinkedIn and request a connection
  • Do not use the default message which is “I’d like to connect with you”. It requires zero effort and everyone knows it, so it cheapens your effort to connect and looks like spam
  • You could make a reference to how you met, repeat something they said to you, or thank them for a specific piece of advice or an idea they had, or simply say “Hi firstname!

7. Don’t add people you don’t know

  • If you get requests from people you don’t know, don’t add them
  • They are just playing a game to get more connections than other people
  • And worse than that, by adding them you are “vouching for them” and they may use your endorsement to get to others in your network. Not cool

8. Write recommendations for people you want recommendations from

  • Testimonials/recommendations are powerful stuff. They help people trust you and get to know you
  • It’s easy to get them, just write them for others and that creates pressure to reciprocate without you even asking
  • I’m not a big fan of pushing the “ask for a recommendation” button, but do it if things are moving too slow for you in this area

For bonus points (or bonus milk)

There are a few bonus sections that are a little hidden in the navigation that you could try. Like “Projects” and endorsing “Skills”.

For bonus points you could start discussions in the Groups you join (I might write a whole blog article just on that one day). A few ideas to start with:

  • Write an engaging headline. Headlines that ask questions are the best
  • Make it short. Articles on LinkedIn are more about generating discussion than you sharing your wisdom
  • Finish the article by asking people to add their opinion or share their point of view

Do You Use LinkedIn?

  • Did you find this article useful? Say so in the comments below
  • Got value out of other sections I haven’t mentioned? Like the jobs section? Write your ideas in the comments below

Quickguide to LinkedIn Part 1: What Types of People Are Looking At Your LinkedIn Profile Today?

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.

They will have these kinds of questions on their mind:

  • Might it be useful to connect with this person?
  • Would connecting with them be consistent with the image I’m trying to project? Do they fit smoothly into my network?
  • Can I connect them to other people I know to make me look good?

2. Employers both past, present and future

They will have these kinds of questions on their mind:

  • Past: What have they done since leaving here?
  • All: Who are they connected to?
  • All: What do they say about themselves?
  • Future: Are there gaps in their employment history?
  • Future: Do they bad-mouth x-bosses or workmates or workplaces?
  • Future: Are they worth poaching?

3. Potential clients getting a feel for your experience and skills

They will have these kinds of questions on their mind:

  • Can I be confident this person will get the job done?
  • What else are they capable of that could be useful?
  • How diluted is their range of services/experience?
  • Do they specialise in what I need them for?

4. Salespeople who just want to sell you something

  • They may be just trying to collect 500+ connections (this is called “vanity metrics”) in the hope that this huge number will engender trust in them and their services

5. Uber-networkers who just want to connect with the entire world if they can

  • They are driven to feel important and like to see themselves in the middle of a giant virtual hub

What Next?

Tomorrow in Part 2 I’ll share with you tips on how to milk LinkedIn, and I’ll detail 8 cows.

In the meantime, start to think about how each of these audience groups have different information needs, and which groups are more important to you right now.

TEDx Auckland 2012: 16 Hours of Awesomeness

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 to my car buddy Rachel Tabb from Bubble Interiors about our businesses, family, lives, dreams and aspirations. Or,  chatting to new people we met during the day and catching up with friends.

I’ve been watching TED videos for a few years now (3-5 a week), but to have the speakers right in front of you, really engages your other senses and drives the content and their message into you.

We turned up at the event an hour early, which was good because I had left my tickets at home.

Oops.

I explained this to one of the key organisers: Elliot Blade and he gave me a ViP ticket.

Yay!

This turned out to be awesome because I grabbed a seat in the centre on the front row. Probably the best seat out of the 2075 people there that day.  I was 3 metres from every speaker.

I met some awesome people sitting in that row: Matthew Bosher, Don Bisset, Johnathan Custance, Lara Custance, and Ben Irving, and caught up with Matty Blomfield.

This was not an accident. It’s my philosophy that 50% of the value of any event/seminar/conference/expo you go to is the content you are exposed to, and 50% the people you meet before, after, and during the breaks.

Also, I made a point of spending some time with the organisers because I intend running TEDx Tauranga in 2013 and wanted to make those connections so I can benefit from their experience, resources and connections later.

On to the TED talks.

I have broken the 17 speakers into 3 sections:

  1. Freakin’ Awesome
  2. Awesome
  3. Somewhat Awesome

5 Freakin’ Awesome Speakers at TEDx Auckland

1. Michelle Dickinson: Nanogirl – My Quest to Become a Superhero

  • Michelle talked about how she likes to break stuff ever since she was a kid to find out how stuff worked. Much to the annoyance of her Dad.
  • She told her story about how she found her dream job – a place where she gets to break stuff all day and never have to put it back together.
  • She told us how technology has given her superhero powers. 2 examples: fly like a super hero with super conductors, and wear an invisible cloak of nano particles to be waterproof.
  • Such a passionate, memorable and entertaining story straight from the heart. Really inspiring stuff.
  • Lesson for me: The most impactful stories are the personal ones delivered with unbridled passion and energy
  • Michelle is a specialist in biomedical materials engineering and head of New Zealand’s only nanomechanical testing laboratory at the University of Auckland.
  • Web: www.medickinson.com | Twitter: @medickinson
2. Dr. Paul Wood: What’s Your Prison?

  • Paul talked about how he did a 10 year stretch in jail (often in solitary refinement), but his real prison was his self limiting beliefs. He changed his attitude and rose up beyond his confinement, and with the help of some friends, got a degree, got a masters degree and then started his doctorate before he was freed.
  • Wow. What a personal story. It’s people like this that inspire me to be a better person.
  • Lesson for me: If there is something that truly needs to be done, there is no excuse I can come up that is good enough. Break through confinements and constraints.
  • Paul is a change specialist and founder of Switch Coaching & Consulting. He specialises in industrial, organisational and workplace psychology.
  • Web: www.whatsyourprison.com

3. Pip HallWet Hot Beauties

  • Pip walked out on stage in a dressing gown and a few minutes stripped that off down to her togs and bathing cap. She stood there bravely in her middle aged body
  • She told her story how she “found joy” in organising amateur synchronised swimming in the kiddies pool for women between 14 and 70 years old. Any fitness level, any coordination level, all are welcome. There are now 250 in the group
  • Joy is when you feel alive, you celebrate life, when life “clicks”. She encouraged us to all find our own joy and to “lean into joy”.
  • Fantastic stuff. So passionate, so brave.
  • Lesson for me: Start something fun, and a tribe of people who also think it’s fun will form around you. Be vulnerable. Take the risk
  • Pip is a playwright, actor and co-creator / producer of the Wet Hot Beauties. She is a recipient of the prestigious theatre honour, the Bruce Mason Playwriting Award.
  • Web:www.whbs.co.nz

4. Emma Rogan: Inspiration Wherever You Are – The 100 Days Project

  • The idea here is for everyday people to commit to creating something new every day for 100 days along a theme. In 2012 almost 100 people did so, and took photos of what they made everyday.
  • One guy took a video of his son every day.
  • One mother took a photo with her tweenage daughter doing something new everyday (including dressing up as mummies)
  • A 7 year old girl drew a dress every day
  • An 11 year old drew a monster every day
  • Many other charming examples were shared: www.100daysproject.co.nz
  • Endearingly, Emma made no secret that she stole this idea from Michael Bierut. When she asked for retro-active permission he was very happy that his idea had spread
  • Lesson for me: You don’t need a business agenda for everything you do. Starting something just for the hell of it is good for the world
  • Emma is a partner at Auckland design company Apropos and founder of New Zealand’s 100 Days Project.
  • Web: www.emmarogan.co.nz

5. Paul Cameron: Reinventing Reading

  • Paul has found a way to reverse the disturbing trend of falling book reading rates. Half of of high school graduates in the US don’t read a book again in their entire lives.
  • He has developed a way to add a sound track to stories, this extra dimension improves:
    • Access to inner imagination
    • Brings more emotional engagement
    • Provides immersion not distraction
  • The sound tracks include ambient noise, mood music and sound effects
  • Lesson for me: There is always a way to fix something that’s broken. Find the pain first, then create the solution. Don’t give up.
  • Paul is the CEO of Booktrack, which is his answer to addressing the decline in reading and literacy rates that will help make reading relevant again to a new generation of readers.
  • Web:www.booktrack.com | Twitter:@pccameron

8 Awesome Speakers at TEDx Auckland

1. Philip Patston: The Label Libel – A New Look at Diversity

  • Philip talked about how we all so readily jump to labelling people and just how unfair that can be. He himself being a disabled, gay, white, comedian
  • What amused me is how me handled the “next slide” button better than all the other abled-bodied presenters (they often skipped 2 slides ahead and then had to click back)
  • Lesson for me: If creativity comes from constraints then disabled people must be the most creative of all of us
  • Philip is best recognised for his ten-year career as a comedian and entertainer. He is an alumni of the New Zealand Social Entrepreneur Fellowship.
  • Web:www.philippatston.com

2. Aakash Polra and Jade Tan Swea Phin: The Mind Leading the Blind

  • This team is working on a way that Smart Phones can be used as seeing-eye dogs for the blind.
  • In a survey, the blind stated their top 3 needs as: The colour of things, reading text and brightness level of rooms
  • The AI software can recognise many objects so the user can determine “of the 2 cans in front of me, which is spaghetti, and which is cat food?”.
  • As the AI continues to learn, there is also an crowd-sourced human layer of people who receive the photo on their own smart devices and they can text back what they see.
  • Lesson for me: We’ve only begun to see the tip of the iceberg about how Smart Phones will change our world, and for the minorities especially, there are special opportunities for them
  • Aakash and Jade are members of MobileEye, a software start-up team from Auckland University of Technology.
  • Web:www.mobileeye.org

3. Sam Hunt

  • I knew of Sam Hunt of course and enjoy the uniqueness of his poem reading style, but I’d never taken the time to really listen to what he had to say
  • He had the entire crowd laughing. The stories in between poems where hilarious, and the poems themselves… well, I only understood half of it, but I came away with a new appreciation of him as an artist and the style he has created for himself
  • Lesson for me: Be unique. Even in an antiquated commodity (like poetry), there is always room for you to define your own style.
  • Sam is New Zealand’s preeminent poet and author. His recent work includes Doubtless and the semi-autobiographical Backroads: Charting a Poet’s Life.
  • Web:www.samhunt.co.nz

4. Victoria Spackman: The Wall – Making History Social

  • Victoria has developed a mobile museum with giant touch screens in a 40 foot shipping container that enables people to find out more about the history and significance of their city
  • Victoria is the Chief Executive of the Gibson Group. Her recent projects include an award-winning immersive museum outreach project in Copenhagen.
  • Web: www.gibson.co.nz

5. Dr. Assil Russell: ICARE – Changing Lives in Iraq

  • Assil encourages people to donate time and/or money to Iraqi orphans and other disadvantaged children
  • One powerful quote she read out that her Dad told her once: “If you see something that needs changing, change it with your own hands. If not with your hands, then with your voice. If not with your voice, then with your heart”
  • Assil is a dental surgeon and founder of ICARE, New Zealand’s first and only registered medical and dental charity for Iraqi orphans and disadvantaged children.
  • Web:www.iraqicare.org

6. Professor John Windsor: Fighting Organ Failure

  • John’s theory on Multiple Organ Failure “the plague of modern medicine” is that the lymphatic system is to blame for spilling toxins sequentially into the Heart, Lungs, and Kidneys
  • John is a surgeon who holds a personal chair in surgery at the University of Auckland. He is also co-founder and a director of the start-up SIMTICS Ltd.
  • Web: www.fmhs.auckland.ac.nz

7. Matthew Simmons: The Lowdown on Infrasound

  • Matthew really really really likes loud speakers. The bigger the better. The louder the better.
  • He sold hundreds of the “Bladder Buster” speakers which are 3m high. He sold the first one before he’d even built a prototype.
  • He is interested in things that have never been done, or “impossible”.
  • To him, “impossible” means you just don’t have enough info yet
  • Lesson for me: You can sell something that doesn’t exist yet if it is so outrageous that people fall in love with it as soon as it starts to take form in their minds
  • Matthew is the CEO of Arvus Group International and currently part of the NZ Clean Energy Centre’s Enterprise Great Lake Taupo (EGLT) team.
  • Web: www.arvusgroup.com

8. Dr. David Krofcheck: Higgs boson – The Kiwi Connection

  • David did his best to explain to me what is happening in the particle accelerator in Cern, Switzerland
  • Basically they smash streams of Protons together and detect the various particles that come flying out of these collisions.
  • I appreciated his sense of humour about it all, because it was quite complicated in parts.
  • David is one of New Zealand’s leading physics researchers and a specialist in experimental high energy nuclear physics and environmental radiation.
  • Web: www.physics.auckland.ac.nz

4 Somewhat Awesome Speakers at TEDx Auckland

1. Alistair Knott: Teaching Computers to Talk

  • Alistair is an Associate Professor at University of Otago with a background in cognitive science and artificial intelligence.
  • Web: www.cs.otago.ac.nz
2. Sean Gourley: Big Data and the Rise of Augmented Intelligence

  • Sean is a physicist, decathlete, political advisor and TED fellow. He is also the co-founder and CTO of Quid, which is building a global intelligence platform.
  • Web: www.seangourley.com | Twitter: @sgourley

3. Peter Young: The Last Ocean

  • Peter is one of New Zealand’s most accomplished documentary fi lmmakers and the founder of Fisheye Films.
  • Web: www.lastocean.org

4. Andrew Patterson: Rebuilding Architecture From the Ground Up

  • Andrew is the Design Director of Patterson Associates Ltd, and arguably New Zealand’s most internationally recognised and published architect.
  • Web: www.pattersons.com

There were also 2 music sets:

1. Five Mile Town: The Lucky Ones

  • Five Mile Town are an up and coming Auckland-based Indie Folk band made up of Louis McDonald, Adam Quiqley, Levi Heeringa and Ryan Wilson.
  • Web: www.fivemiletownband.com

2. Seth Haapu: Pull No Punches

  • Seth is a singer-songwriter whose self-produced debut album saw him work alongside musicians such as Godfrey De Grut (Che Fu) and Nick Gaff aney (Golden Horse).
  • Web: www.sethhaapu.com

And the MC Andrew Patterson was awesome:

  • A special shout out to Andrew who did a fantastic job at making the speakers feel welcome and keeping all the transitions smooth.

“I Think It’s Too Long, Can You Make It Shorter?” A Phrase I Dread

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: A headline dripping with benefits that leaves the reader hungry to read the rest
  • Highly personalised: In email newsletters I like to mention the recipients first name 7 times. In direct mail my record is mentioning their first name 16 times
  • Chatty and friendly: Written in a one-on-one style as if the two of us were sitting down over a coffee and having a chat. This decreases the distance between you and I
  • Compelling content: That tells a story and focuses on what you get out of the deal. It even addresses your objections before they form in your mind
  • A limited time offer: “Respond before 5pm Friday”, and/or a limited number of customers “Only 10 positions available”
  • A call to action: Eg choose between 3 packages with ascending prices and value. “Call 0800 123 123 to secure your position”

I put my heart and soul into this work.

I work on it like it’s a piece of art. It just has to be perfect before I’m happy to release it on the world.

And time and time again this work pays off, because it generates the responses/action/sales goals that I set for those pieces.

But sometimes, a client comes back and says that dreaded phrase “I think it’s too long, can you make it shorter?”

arrrrgghh

There are 2 reasons why clients say “I think it’s too long”:

  1. Because they are not in the target audience (I’m not trying to sell your services back to you, I’m selling them to your prospects. It’s no wonder you aren’t captivated)
  2. They are bored of simple explanations of what they do. This is what prospects that have never heard of you need, but you might be bored of simplifying your story

Because the fact is, if something is interesting to an individual, they will keep reading and keep reading and keep reading.

They are thirsty for the content, and they can’t stop because it tastes like cool water as they read.

Most novels take 4, 6, 8, 10 hours to read, right?

If you had just started a novel by your favourite author that you’d been waiting months to get hold of, and I told you that I had a one page summary in a sealed envelope and I tried to give it to you would you yell at me “Keep that away from me!! Leave me to read my book in peace!”

Sure you would.

Length isn’t important.

It’s the journey.

It’s the story.

So the next time you read an article in a newspaper, or an email newsletter, or draft copy from someone who is helping you write an email newsletter, and your first thought is “I think it’s too long”. Check yourself.

Are you in the target audience?

If not, keep your opinion to yourself.

5 Questions For Small Business Owners to Think About Today

  1. 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
  2. Why you?
    • What are the top 3 reasons customers should choose you?
    • Put those 3 reasons in all your customer touch points
    • Can’t think of any? Pack it in and go home
  3. Your website:
    • Don’t have a website yet? Build yourself a website today for $141.50
    • Got a website? What 3 improvements should you make today?
    • Every business on the planet should have it’s own website. Even a crap one beats not having one at all
  4. Radio Ads:
  5. Yellow Pages:
    • Do you advertise in the Yellow Pages hardcopy and/or online?
    • Cancel it today.
    • You know you are wasting money so why do you renew every year? Snap out of it sucker
    • The free one-liner with your phone number is all you need

Small Business Website: Do It Yourself For Only $141.50

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, owners typically come up with one or more of the following objections.

(Have similar thoughts gone through your head? If so, it’s time to update your thinking.)

1. “I don’t know how, I’m not good with computers”

  • Then learn. Or at least find a family member or staff member to take care of the basics.

2. “Websites cost too much”

  • Wrong. They can cost as little as $141.50+gst/year. I’ll tell you how in a moment.

3. “I don’t think I’ll get a return on the investment”

  • Wrong. A simple website is the best return on investment you can get. It beats all other advertising options. And the payback gets better and better the longer you’ve got a website

4. “That’s not how customers choose a business”

  • Wrong. It may not be how you choose a business but it is the way that hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders do it. Plus more every day

5. “I’m too busy, I don’t have time to keep it updated”

  • Keep the content simple. Don’t do anything fancy. Delegate to family or staff.

The 4 Best Reasons To Have An Official Website:

Ask owners who do have a website why they do, you might hear things like…

1. “Our website is the official place where I own and control the content”

  • That’s right. No longer are you at the mercy of business directories like Finda who display your brand however they like

2. “Our website is the official place where the public can be confident and trust the info because they know we wrote it”

  • That’s right. Otherwise you are annoying potential customers by forcing them to use a business directory like Finda that has missing, incomplete or just plain wrong details. Wouldn’t it be better if they went to your official website instead?

3. “We noticed that the public are increasingly using the internet at home, at work and even on their phones wherever they are, to choose a business”

  • That’s right. Having your own website means you get to appear in search results and get a chance at being chosen. Isn’t that better than no chance at all?

4. “We’d prefer to have an upset customer contact us via our website rather than complain publicly on Facebook or a business directory”

  • That’s right. Not having an official website effectively forces upset customers to vent their frustration on platforms like Facebook where you have zero control and you won’t hear about the complaint until it’s too late to fix it, or never hear about it at all.

What You Should Do Next:

If you are a small business owner and you don’t have a website yet, here’s the 5 steps you should take next:

The 5 Simple Steps To Take If You Want An Official Website

1. Go to 1stdomains.co.nz and purchase your website address for $21.50+gst/year

  • Get a .co.nz (not a .net, or .net.nz or anything else!)
  • Set the DNS settings to ns1.ramsu.co.nz and ns2.ramsu.co.nz

2. Go to the website hosting company Ramsu.co.nz and purchase hosting for $120+gst/year

  • Type in the domain name you purchased
  • Create a database using the admin panel and write down the username and password

3. The next day, go to WordPress.org and download the latest version of their free website building software

  • WordPress is high quality Content Management System that is easy to use. If you get stuck, any problem can be solved with a Google search
  • Follow the set up instructions written on WordPress.org called “the famous 5 minute install

4. Login for the first time and start writing content

  • Keep it simple. No fancy stuff. Just the basics that prospective customers want to know
  • Phone number + address + Google Map + your products and services + testimonials. That’s it.
  • If you check your email once a week, don’t you dare put your email address on your website

5. Register your new website address with Finda.co.nz (and a few other free business directories too)

  • This just gives Google a kick to announce that your website is up and running

Still Too Hard?

Then ask a family member or staff member to help.

They teach this stuff in primary school now, so find a 10 year old and get on with it.

Email Marketing: 7 Reasons Why It’s Cool, 3 Reasons It Sucks, 7 Tips To Make It Work

Why are you attracted to the idea of “email marketing”?

7 Reasons Why Email Marketing Seems Cool

  1. Because sending emails is cheap (or free). It’s a cheap way to keep in contact with your customers
  2. It’s scalable – if you double or triple the number of customers on your email database there is no extra effort for you
  3. Because it reminds your customers about what you can do for them – it keeps your brand in their minds, it builds familiarity, relationship, trust
  4. Because you could sell something directly
  5. Because it’s fast. You can get your first response within minutes
  6. Because it’s measurable. You can test various headlines and offers
  7. Because it’s easy. You can do it yourself

3 Reasons Why Email Marketing Actually Sucks

  1. Because most email software is actually hard to use (despite what they claim!)
  2. Because it’s hard coming up with ideas for new content every week/month (exhausting!)
  3. Because building up your list of subscribers is slow (and why do people keep unsubscribing anyway? Annoying!)

7 Components to Make Your Email Marketing Work For You

My philosophy with email marketing is very simple:

  1. Make it obvious why someone should subscribe
    • Don’t expect sign-ups just because your email newsletter exists!
    • Provide at least 3 reasons why they should subscribe. If you can’t think of 3 good reasons, pack up and go home, email marketing is not for you
  2. Make your emails really plain
    • Which types of emails do spend most attention to: Ones with fancy graphics and big logos, or ones that are plain text? Plain text! You always read those first and leave the fancy newsletters for last, if you have time
    • No header graphics. No logo. You have your “from” address and your email signature to remind them of your brand. That’s enough. (Remember, this email is about them, not about you!)
  3. Make your emails really personal
    • Make the email a 1 on 1 conversation between you and your customer/client
    • Use the recipients first name at least 5 times. Not just “Hi Bob” at the beginning!
  4. Make your emails as long as they need to be
    • State your point in the subject line, expand on the point in the body, close with a call to action
    • Tell a story that can be read from start to finish
    • Use subheadings and bullet points so readers can scan for things that interest them
    • Include a photo or 2 if you can. Even better, a short 30 second video summarising your message
  5. Make it really easy to subscribe. Make it even easier to unsubscribe
    • Create links to your sign-up form everywhere: on your website, in your email signature etc
    • Put your unsubscribe link clearly at the bottom, or even better, as the very first sentence of your email – you only want people who are really interested in what you have to say so let the others go
  6. Brainstorm 12 months worth of content ideas before you send your first email
    • Get your friends, family and existing customers to help you generate a huge list of ideas
  7. Make your emails really cheap
    • My favourite email marketing software is MailChimp. It’s not super-easy to use but it is super cheap: completely free up to 1000 subscribers and 6000 emails per month

Your Thoughts?

So have you tried email marketing yet? If not, why not?

If so, are you getting the results you want?

What do you think of these tips?

Share your thoughts below.

The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur by Mike Michalowicz

téléchargerMy 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 still my thirst would not be quenched. It took me a few years to figure out what was sitting right under my nose the entire time: That I loved launching businesses.
  • Once I came to the realization that it is the birthing and maturing of a business that I love, I knew the path my future would follow.

Continue reading “The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur by Mike Michalowicz”

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 and use it to contact you?

No. Of course not. Because it’s your job, not theirs.

If you want something from someone you have to take it or ask for it.

So the next time you talk to someone that you might find useful later, instead of giving them one of your business cards, take theirs instead.

And then, when you get home tonight, send them a “hello!” email with your huge-mungus email signature.

A standard, boring email signature looks like this:

John Thomas
Boring Company Name 
Phone number 
Mobile number
Fax number

That is so lame.

This is your chance to make an awesome email signature.

An awesome, huge-mungus email signature has the following 11 extras:

  1. Your tag line:
    • A phrase under your name that summarises how you make the company you work for awesome (that leans towards how your company helps clients)
    • Or, at the very least, a sentence that explains what your company does
  2. Your tertiary qualifications
    • If you are proud of them
  3. Your Skype username
  4. Not your fax number
    • Because fax machines are lame and having the number makes you look like a fossil
  5. Repeat your email address
    • Restate it here so it’s easy for them to share it with other people
    • Don’t rely on people checking up in the email header for it
  6. Your physical address
    • Especially if you run a home based business
    • Stating it makes you credible and real
    • People like to know they can come round to your office and punch you in the face if you annoy them… Or pat you on the back for a job well done too I spose…
  7. Link to your LinkedIn profile
    • Which is a prompt for you to ensure it is up to date because LinkedIn is awesome
  8. Link to your blog
    • So people can read your thoughts and you get the chance to establish your credibility, oh… you don’t have one? Lame.
  9. Link to your business Facebook page
    • So you look 21st century, oh… you don’t have one? Lame.
  10. Link to your Twitter
    • oh… you don’t have one? Fair enough actually, it’s not for everyone
  11. Link to your websites
    • oh… you’ve only got one website? Lame. Add a link to your favourite charity then

My email signature is 21 lines (excluding spacing). I dare you to make yours bigger!

(And before you include the text “think about the environment before you print this email” just stop. It’s not 1999 anymore. Just stop.)

My huge-mungus email signature:

Cheers,
Sheldon Nesdale
www.MarketingFirst.co.nz

Digital Marketing for Small NZ BusinessesMBA.Waikato.(2011). BECom.(Hons.Mktg).Waikato

c/o Marketing First 2009 Ltd
13 The Green, Bayfair, Mount Maunganui 3116, New Zealand
Email: sheldon@marketingfirst.co.nz
Phone: (07) 575 8799
Mobile: 021 128 5046
Skype: sheldon.nesdale
Web: www.MarketingFirst.co.nz

* Blog – http://www.MarketingFirst.co.nz/blog/

* Head Organiser of Tauranga.StartUpWeekend.orgFirstbyte Websites | www.FirstByte.co.nz
Search Engine Guide | www.SearchEngineGuide.co.nz

Donate $4-$32/month to a worthy NZ charity with www.4good.org.nz

Twitter: You Suspect It Would Waste Your Time, Are You Right?

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:

  1. For introducing your brand to a new, tech-savvy segment of the population
    • When you “Follow” someone they are notified via email (unless they opt out of this notification) and they may be curious enough to find out more about you by reading your profile, reading your recent tweets or clicking a link to your website
    • A Korean BBQ truck in Los Angeles became famous for using Twitter to update their customers about what street corner they were parked on every night (this was back in March 2009)
  2. For monitoring what is said about your brand online
    • Telecom New Zealand is especially good at this. They have a small team who respond to every negative or positive comment about them, usually within minutes.
    • One of the most famous Twitter users in New Zealand in the food service category is the manager of an Italian Gelato shop in Auckland called Giapo: http://twitter.com/giapo

What did owners of NZ cafe’s, restaurant’s and bar’s have to say about Twitter?

I interviewed 7 owners one-on-one in April 2011. None of the owners interviewed had used Twitter for personal or business use.

Owners had this to say:

  • “I don’t know if my staff use Twitter, they haven’t talked about that much. I did hear about it from the news in a story about how a celebrity was using it. From a business point of view I don’t really understand what it is, so I wouldn’t know how to apply it”
  • “I’ve never gone on it. Facebook is enough for me”
  • “I don’t know what that is”
  • “I’m sceptical that it will bring in more customers. I’m concerned it will just suck up even more time”
  • “I don’t think it is really a kiwi thing”
  • “We intend to start using Twitter soon. We will work on developing a formula over time by trying different kinds of content such as announcements about the freshness and taste of our dishes, and questions about their last visit”

What did customers say?

105 members of the public answered a questionnaire as part of my research which had several questions about Twitter specifically.

15% of these respondents reported “Sometimes”, “Often”, or “Always” seeing people they follow talk about their experiences at cafes/restaurants/bars on Twitter.

Perhaps this result is more an indication of the low levels of adoption of Twitter amongst New Zealanders than anything else.

The implication for owners is that it is easy to set up alerts to monitor any mention of their brand names on Twitter. If they get one, they have an opportunity to communicate directly to the person praising/complaining and solve the issue.

6% of respondents indicated they “Sometimes”, “Often”, “Always” ask friends via Twitter to recommend a new place to visit.

7% of respondents indicated they “Sometimes”, “Often”, “Always” tried a new place after seeing a Twitter message about it.

Should Cafe/Restaurant/Bar owners get a Twitter account?

Based on the results of these 3 questions about Twitter, it would seem that Twitter should be low down the list of priorities in terms of online marketing methods.

Having said that, there may be some first-mover-advantage of getting involved now rather than waiting to see if critical mass is reached.

Speaking from 3 years of personal experience with Twitter (I recently mothballed 4 of 6 Twitter accounts I have) I would summarise by saying that Twitter is for individuals who follow like-minded individuals who share information and links about topics they are interested in. Those with an explicit business agenda are shunned or worse, ignored.

In short, there is very little opportunity for explicitly converting followers into patrons of your cafe/restaurant/bar. But many people enjoy this medium as a way of keeping up to date on issues and topics in industries that interest them.

How can you get started with Twitter?

The steps are as follows:

  1. Go to http://Twitter.com and signup for a free account
  2. Fill in your details; a short biography, your location, a link to your website, and upload a photo
  3. Find interesting people/brands to follow:
    • Eg celebrities, media personalities, a guru in a topic you are interested in, influential people or brands in your industry, friends, journalists etc
    • You can search by name, location, words in their profile, or search their latest tweets for a certain keyword
    • By “Following” them you begin to feed their Tweets into your timeline for you to read at a time of your choosing
    • For example you might follow Richard Branson because you find his “just do it” attitude inspiring
  4. Write tweets of your own for your followers (and for people considering following you):
    • Write some wise words
    • Or “ReTweet” something interesting you’ve seen another Twitter user say
    • Or you can post a link to a photo or video
    • Or ask the universe a question
    • Do NOT tell people what you’ve had for lunch!
  5. Reply to other peoples Tweets
    • Reply to other peoples tweets to show your interest, provide feedback, or start a conversation

You don’t need to be infront of a computer to use Twitter. You can post messages to your Twitter page by txt message from any mobile phone. All Smart Phones also have Twitter applications with full functionality.

In What Type Of Business Is The CEO Also The Receptionist?

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 constantly (sometimes while a customer is in front of her)
  • She will put in minimum effort to earn her minimum wage

Susan Summer

  • Susan loves her job
  • She feels important, she feels valued, she knows she’s contributing to the success of the company
  • She conducts her business with the elegance and finesse of a orchestra conductor

If your receptionist is most often the first point of contact with new or existing clients/customers, then surely you want the very best person for the job?

Actually, the survival of your business depends on your receptionist, and a great one could be the secret sauce that could help your business thrive.

If it’s such an essential function, why is it so often delegated to someone on minimum wage who doesn’t really want to be there?

Maybe the CEO should be the receptionist instead.

Imagine the CEO’s of all the 9-5pm businesses near you cancelling all their meetings for the year and settling into the reception area and putting on a headset ready for walk-ins and phone calls.

Would you get better service the next time you walked in there or called?

Could this be the difference between surviving and thriving?

There is one industry that has got it right: The Food Service industry. I’m talking about Cafe’s, Restaurant’s & Bars.

Have you noticed that in the best Cafe’s, Restaurant’s & Bars near you, the front-of-house person is most often the owner?

So these guys have figured out at the CEO must be the receptionist.

Your thoughts in the comments below please.

9 Reasons Why Outsourcing Your Sales Role Would be a Disaster

Can you answer “yes” to one or more of these questions?:

  1. Is your business a one-man-band or husband-and-wife type of business?
  2. Are you a bit shy and find the prospect of networking and meeting people face to face a bit daunting?
  3. Are you thinking about outsourcing the sales role to a sales rep, either hiring him/her as an employee or as a contractor (for a retainer plus commission)?

If you answered “yes” to one or more of those questions, then read the following list before you hire.

9 Reasons Why Outsourcing Your Sales Role Would be a Disaster and Why You Must Be Your Own Salesperson

  1. When that salesperson leaves, you have nothing, and you’ll have to start again
    • A drawer full of business cards of people they met have zero value because they met those people, not you
  2. It is a skill you must develop or you don’t have a business at all, you have a very expensive hobby
  3. If you can’t learn how to sell yourself then you should be an employee in someone elses business, and not have your own
    • Fire yourself today and go and get a “real job”
  4. A hired salesperson will never be as passionate about your business as you are
    • It’s passion and enthusiasm that gets sales
  5. Salespeople don’t stick around. They get bored easily and move on quickly
    • So you’ll be taking the risk on someone new all over again in about 6 months
  6. Realise that you are an interesting person and people are curious about you as soon as you open your mouth
    • Your personality and manner is actually a great advantage and point of difference (compared to a hired salesperson)
    • Your enthusiasm and passion for what you do is contagious and generates sales
  7. Managing employees is a huge undertaking in itself
    • Contracts, PAYE, holiday pay, sick days…
    • And worst of all, they get paid every week and you might not. And they get to switch off at 5pm every day and go home at night, but you stress 24/7 and have sleepless nights
  8. Learning to sell is a skill for life
  9. Talking to customers directly is where you get the most valuable feedback about your business
    • You can’t delegate the collection of feedback to anyone but you
    • This is the fastest way to find out if what your offering is actually of no interest to the marketplace and you need to change what you’re offering (this is called a “pivot”)

So instead of putting your hard earned money into a salespersons pocket in the hope that they’re going to make sales for you one day, invest in yourself and learn how to sell.

3 Ways to Learn How to be a Better Salesperson

  1. You can do it for free by reading every book on sales at your local library
  2. Hire me for coaching sessions in-person if you live in Tauranga, or over the phone if you are elsewhere in NZ (call me on 07 575 8799)
  3. Hire a friend of mine who also does sales coaching (in-person or over the phone): Dan Necklen

Made to Stick by Chip & Dan Heath

My notes on “Made to Stick” by Chip & Dan Heath

S.U.C.C.E.S.s: Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible Stories41hMTwhl6IL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

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 use flags – “tap the existing terrain of your audience”
  • Schema’s are a collection of generic properties of a concept or category
  • Higher level schemas are composed of other schemas. Analogies are great
  • The goal is to write a proverb

Should You Quit Your Job And Start A Home Based Business? 8 Pros and 12 Cons To Help You Decide

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

  1. I’m ready. I’ve had my 3 years of experience. I’m learning more in my own time than at work
    [for a few months I had been getting up at 6am and reading business books at a rate of 1.5 per week]
  2. I’ll learn more, I’ll be more productive, I’ll get things done in shorter time frames because I’ll be working for myself & my clients rather than half heartedly working for someone else for about $20/hour
  3. I’ll accelerate my growth and learning whether I succeed or fail just by trying
  4. This recession could mean that what I’m selling [website design and marketing advice] is more valuable, and businesses may want to outsource more
  5. If I survive the recession, when the boom comes I’ll have it made
  6. With zero income we could still survive for 10 months by drawing on our revolving home loan overdraft
  7. I’ll have the freedom to take time off for myself or for my family any time I choose
  8. I don’t have to spend another cent to get started. I have my computer and my brain.

CONS

  1. It is scarey giving up steady $46k/annum income
    [It turned out I earned that in my first year anyway, and doubled in the year after]
  2. The risk of failure. If it doesn’t work, my self esteem will be crushed
  3. I’ve always thought of working alone at home would be lonely but now I know it won’t be because communication and interaction will be a big part of what I do every day
  4. Risk of less income (or no income) for my little family
    [my wife was 6 months pregnant with our first child at the time]
  5. It would scare the hell out of my wife
  6. Spending too much time with my wife might be hard on our marriage
  7. I’ll be putting enormous pressure and stress on myself, marriage and my wife
  8. The recession could mean hard times for me, harder to sell what I’m offering
  9. We are in a recession, I should be greatfull that I have a job at all… Shall I wait 2 or 3 more years and then give it a go? Hell no!
  10. I might have to work longer & harder hours, not less (especially at the start)
    [It turned out that working on my own projects was actually fun and didn’t feel like work]
  11. Very stressful for my Dad because he’ll have to pay the mortgage if I fail
  12. No paid sick days. No paid holidays.

I went for it, and it’s been great!

What’s Your Favourite?

My favourite is Pro #8. 🙂

What’s your favourite?

Are you facing this decision now? Or do you think you might in the future? Tell your story.

How To Make Millions With Your Ideas by Dan S. Kennedy

My notes on “How To Make Millions With Your Ideas” by Dan S. Kennedy5188mtDB8rL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_
  • 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 out a market leader position from the start – define a new niche
  • Break even on the first sale / product to get a mailing list together. Sell to that group long term
  • Repackage the same core product / service in heaps of different ways, different formats, different prices, to different target markets

The Unwritten Laws of Business by J. King and James G. Skakoon

My notes on “The Unwritten Laws of Business” by J. King & James G. Skakoon. 2007511pX2EDVHL._AC_UL320_SR214,320_

Good advice for employees who want to get the most out of their current role.

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

My notes on “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie

3 Fundamental Techniques in Handling People51RWA6BmIWL._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_

  1. 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
  2. Give honest and sincere appreciation
    • Find out their good points
    • Try to see everything from the other person point of view
  3. Arouse in the other person on eager want

Purple Cow by Seth Godin

My notes on “Purple Cow” by Seth GodinpurpleCow

  • 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

Confession: I Only Have 4 Skills

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 60-70% to 80-90% and increased my reading speed from 300wpm (already quite good) to 600-900wpm.

I can consume a regular sized business book in 2 to 3 hours. And when I studying for my Masters over the last 2 years I read hefty text books in 4 – 6 hours.

The pay off for my reading skill is that I get to steal ideas from the best minds on the planet and rework those ideas into my own. Continue reading “Confession: I Only Have 4 Skills”

The Award For The Worst Toll Free Number Goes To 0800 MELANOMA

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 must have thought “we deal with melanoma every day, it’s what we do, so if 0800 MELANOMA is available, it’s the right number for us”.

Meanwhile, the customer is thinking “I don’t like the look of this mole on my arm. I think I’ll be ok, but I better get it checked by a professional just to be sure”.

And then you want them to dial 0800 MELANOMA?

No thanks. I don’t want melanoma.

If you had two take-a-way pizza joints to choose from would you call: Continue reading “The Award For The Worst Toll Free Number Goes To 0800 MELANOMA”

A Facebook Page For Your Business? Should You Bother?

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 is increasingly expensive to shout at your target audience.

The future is about getting permission to talk to your audience.

Facebook is all about building a permission asset.

People of all ages are using it. It’s free. It’s easy. It’s a way to get feedback from your customers.

Continue reading “A Facebook Page For Your Business? Should You Bother?”

How To Handle Negative Reviews About Your Business

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 a negative review on a motel directory written by someone who expected a 5 star experience when you sign clearly says 3 star and now they a complaining loudly?

You wish they had come to you first so you’d have the chance to put things right before they flamed you in public like that, right?

Well, for whatever reason, they didn’t. And now there is a negative comment out there poisoning your online reputation and scaring away potential customers.

It is a frightening experience for a business owner.

Did you know that there is a way to turn negative reviews left online by disappointed customers, into a positive force that is 10 times more powerful?

All you have to do is follow this guide:

Step #1: Don’t Make Excuses Continue reading “How To Handle Negative Reviews About Your Business”

The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki

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:

Anything You Want by Derek Sivers

My notes on “Anything You Want” by Derek SiversDerekSivers-AnythingYouWant-318x450

My personal philosophy’s

  1. Business is not about money. It’s about making dreams come true for others and for yourself
  2. Making a company is a great way to improve the world while improving yourself
  3. When you make a company, you make a utopia. It’s where you design your perfect world
  4. Never do anything just for the money
  5. Don’t purse business just for your own gain. Only answer the calls for help
  6. Success comes from persistently improving and inventing, not from persistently promoting what’s not working

  1. Your business plan is moot. You don’t know what people really want until you start doing it
  2. Starting with no money is an advantage. You don’t need money to start helping people
  3. You can’t please everyone, so proudly exclude people
  4. Make yourself unnecessary to the running of your business
  5. The real point of doing anything is to be happy, so do only what makes you happy Continue reading “Anything You Want by Derek Sivers”

How Are You Going To Change Your World in 2012?

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:

  1. Your country
  2. Your city
  3. People with an interest in common to you
  4. Your network
  5. Your family, your friends
  6. You

I’m confident you can change #6, and by starting there, you can change all the others.

What Are The 4 Things You Need Before You Can Change Your World?

  1. You just need to find you are passionate about (passion keeps you going when everyone else quits)
  2. Find people equally passionate about it and get them to help you (doing it yourself can work too)
  3. Take the action you need to (taking action moves good ideas into great ideas)
  4. Never give up. Let nothing stand in your way.

How Can We Change The City of Tauranga Together in 2012?

I’m passionate about:

And in the last 6 months I have met dozens of people that are passionate about these same things!

But until now, no one person has held all the piece of the puzzle at once.

So in 2012 I’m going to bring all these people and elements together somehow…

Some initial ideas:

  1. Run a Tauranga version of Start-Up Weekend (perhaps twice)
  2. Be a mentor at “The Idea Shed” (high school students)
  3. Help create a Business Incubator in Tauranga
  4. And help these entrepreneurs from these 3 sources to either:
    • bootstrap their business (get it going with zero capital)
    • or help them pitch their ideas to local investors

Keen to help?

Then let’s talk: Phone (07) 575 8799.

Game-based Marketing by Gabe Zichermann

My notes on “Game-based Marketing: Inspire Customer Loyalty Through Rewards, Challenges and Contests” by Gabe Zichermann & Joselin Linder.51yFzzNljwL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_

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 for a seat. Breaking the rules using aggression is not allowed.
  • Variations: The Bar Game – get to the bar and order drinks for your friends the fastest. The Supermarket Game – identify which queue is likely to move the quickest
  • They are big business. Games such as Frequent Flier Miles earn more revenue for airlines than flying people around


Continue reading “Game-based Marketing by Gabe Zichermann”

Real- Meerman ScottTime Marketing and PR by David

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.”8157405

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 long-term “new product launch” mentality
  • Organise around multi-month marketing and communications campaigns
  • Ger permission from your superior
  • Run decision by your staff
  • Bring in the experts, the agencies, and the lawyers
  • Conduct extensive research
  • Carefully evaluate all the alternatives
  • Aim for perfection before public release
  • Respond to customers on your time frame
  • Engage with media, analysts, and commentators only when convenient and comfortable for you


Continue reading “Real- Meerman ScottTime Marketing and PR by David”

I Earn 540 Dollars Per Month From A Blog About Hot Pools, Could You Do The Same With A Topic You Are Passionate About?

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 a month in advertising revenue at the cost of distracting your customers.

Blogs are a different story however.

7 Steps to Earning Income From A Passion

  1. Find a topic you are deeply passionate about (this will give you the energy to keep going)
  2. Be determined to write at least one short blog article per month
  3. Your articles should contain useful information for other people interested in your niche. Eg lists, your findings on micro research projects, reviews and comparisons, interviews etc
  4. Build up your audience by sticking to your niche and becoming a valuable resource
  5. Find similar blogs/articles and write useful comments on them that contain a link back to your blog
  6. Grow your audience to about 300 visits per day
  7. Monetise

I create 2 or 3 new blogs like this every year. I’ve had some real duds (like ChickenCoops.co.nz) but I’ve had some big winners (like www.LoveOneDaySales.co.nz and www.NZHotPools.co.nz).

Today I want to tell you the story about NZHotPools.co.nz (which simply lists all the thermal hot pools around New Zealand) and tell you exactly how much advertising revenue I generate from it every year/month/day, so you can figure out if you could do the same with your idea for a blog.

NZHotPools.co.nz Monthly Webstats:

  • 15,000 Visits per month (12,000 absolute unique visitors)
    • 500 visits per day
  • 48,000 PageViews per month
    • 1600 Visits per day
  • $540 per month revenue
    • $18 per day
    • Which is $36 revenue per 1000 visits
    • Which is 28 visits to earn $1

In this game, it is mainly about PageViews. Visits are important too but “Absolute Unique Visitors” are not.

There is a lot of confusion out there around these terms, so if you need a refresher on the definitions read: Difference Between Unique Visitors, Visitors, Visits, Page Views, Hits. And Why You Should Care

 

The hard part is getting an audience. Once you have an audience, monetising that audience is easy.

The 4 Ways to Sell Advertising Space On Your Website/Blog:

1. Direct Sales

  • Direct Sales to businesses in your niche is the most lucrative but takes the most time
  • It involves writing a list of prospects and making lots of phone calls to find out who the decision maker is to establish a relationship and to get permission to email them with your advertising rates from time to time
  • Be creative with what you are selling: Eg banner ads, access to your email newsletter, sponsored blog articles, special mentions, featured businesses
  • You can charge $5/$10/$20 CPM (Cost-Per-1000-Impressions) so for NZHotPools this is about $300/month
  • If you use WordPress for your blog there are plugins that let you schedule the ads, or you can use http://www.google.com/doubleclick/

2. Google Adsense

  • This is the easiest to manage. Decide where you will setup your advertising panels, and just generate the Adsense code and copy/paste it in. You’re done.
  • Google Adsense calculate the best text-based ads to show your audience depending on the content of the webpage, the advertisers bids, and more recently, the visitors online behaviour and profile. Every bit of data they can use to generate more clicks which earns more revenue for you and for them
  • On average you can expect to earn $1 per 300 visits, so for NZHotPools this is about about $50/month

3. TPN “The Performance Network” www.tpn.co.nz

  • They require you to have 20,000 unique visitors per month though, so they might not want to work with you until you’ve grown your blog to that level (they bent the rules for me a little bit because I already had an account with them)
  • They do display ads for big NZ brands like Kiwibank, NZPost, ASB etc
  • They don’t have sophisticated technology to calculate the optimum ads to show, it’s just mass advertising rather than targeted advertising
  • You can expect $1 per 300 visits so for NZHotPools this is about about $50/month

4. Affiliate Income

  • An affiliate programme is where you earn a commission on every sale you make for the advertiser. Eg you could install an Amazon book widget for your topic and you’ll earn a dollar or two everytime someone purchases that book from Amazon thanks to your link
  • Unfortunately, it is vary rare to find New Zealand businesses with Affiliate Programmes and your New Zealand audience is uncomfortable when they click on a link and find themselves on a USA based website so they are unlikely to whip out their credit card
  • NZHotPools.co.nz doesn’t generate any affiliate income, but www.LoveOneDaySales.co.nz does generate a little

How Much Advertising Should You Switch On As Your Website/Blog Grows?

As your website/blog grows, you gradually switch on more advertising. For example, my rules are:

  • 0 – 300 visits per day:
    • Either no advertising at all or just 1 or 2 Google Adsense panels to break the ice
    • Start collecting email addresses from your audience
    • Monthly Revenue: $0 – $30
  • 300 – 500 visits per day:
    • Looking promising
    • Start Selling ads Directly to businesses in your niche
    • Monthly Revenue: $300 – $500
  • 500 – 1000 visits per day:
    • You’re on to a winner
    • Modify Google Adsense positioning to maximise revenue
    • Get more aggressive with your Direct Sales
    • Monthly Revenue: $500 – $1000
  • 1000+ visits per day:
    • Re-evaluate positioning of everything
    • Turn on TPN & investigate Affiliate opportunities (if any)
    • Monthly Revenue: $1000+

Hit The Ground Running: A Manual For New Leaders by Jason Jennings

My notes on “Hit The Ground Running: A Manual For New Leaders” by Jason Jenningsihwx.9f22449c-7a23-4641-a068-194083827ab9.200.175

  •  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 St
  • “Profit is not the reason for the existence of a company, profit is a well deserved by-product of doing what’s right. Looking for profit? Do more good things”
  • When you are the new CEO: unless people are presented powerful and undeniable evidence to believe that you are different (better) than your predecessors, they’ll either wink and whisper “here we go again” or adopt a deadly wait-and-see attitude
  • Productivity: it’s not the hours you put in or your level of effort, it’s about achieving what you set out to do. “Activities are not the same as Results”
  • “If you do a good job, people want you. Not for what you were trained to do but for your ability to get the job done.”
  • “People don’t quit companies, they quit bosses. The best boss is a mentor, one you trust.”
  • “Don’t confuse a decision made after listening to lots of people with a compromise decision. Usually when you get to a compromise you’ve lost something. Seek input, carefully consider everything you’ve heard and then make a call. Don’t try to please everyone.”
  • The new CEO of a private hospital started by giving a flower, newspaper and his business card out every morning with a note to call him on his extension for a quick resolution to any problem during their stay
  • “If you’re trying to climb one mountain and you find you can’t reach the summit, you don’t abandon mountain climbing, you change the goal and go for another summit. Who cares which mountain you climb? The view is great from every mountain top.”
  • “The plan isn’t nearly as important as the planning” – Keith Rattie
  • “One boss I had didn’t have thirty years of experience he had five years experience”

Continue reading “Hit The Ground Running: A Manual For New Leaders by Jason Jennings”

In New Zealand Is Facebook Just For Kids? No.

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 over 65 using Facebook?

What questions would you like answered?

Let’s take a look at the data:

Age

NZ Facebook Users*

% of total Facebook users

NZ Population**

% of age bracket on Facebook

13-15

161,709

8%

181,850

89%

16-17

141,495

7%

127,220

^111%

18-24

505,340

25%

448,210

^113%

25-34

464,913

23%

557,750

83%

35-44

343,631

17%

613,030

56%

45-54

 222,350

11%

614,160

36%

55-64

 121,282

6%

481,640

25%

65+

        60,641

3%

569,160

11%

Totals:

 2,021,360

100%

4,367,800

56%

*Source: SocialBakers.com

**Source: Stats.Govt.nz

^How is it possible that more than 100% of that age group use Facebook? I don’t know.

What do you think? Do these results surprise you?

Write your comments below

Poke The Box by Seth Godin

My notes on “Poke The Box” by Seth Godinsethpokethebox copy

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 into
  • Intellectual capital – Smarts. Software systems, Access to people with insight
  • Physical capital – Plant and machinery and tools and trucks
  • Prestige capital – Your reputation
  • Instigation capital – The desire to move forward. The ability and guts to say yes. This is the most important capital of our new economy


Continue reading “Poke The Box by Seth Godin”

Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation by Sally Hogshead

My notes on “Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation” by Sally Hogsheadfascinate

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 steps to avoid it, or to watch it
  • Mild Affinity

    • If a commercial happens to pique your curiosity, you’ll watch. Otherwise, eh, whatever
  • Interest
    • Commercials entertain, at least the good ones
  • Engagement
    • You actively enjoy commercials. During Super Bowl, you pay more attention to the commercials than the game
  • Immersion
    • You go out of your way to watch commercials, even going online to search them out
  • Preoccupation
  • Obsession
  • Compulsion

Continue reading “Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation by Sally Hogshead”

Overdue Invoices: 4 Simple Tips To Ensure Your Clients Pay On Time, Every Time. No More Overdue Invoices

  • 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?
  • Are your invoices due on the 20th of the month but sometimes they don’t get paid until much later? Sometimes 60 days or 90 days?

Well you’re in luck, because today I’m going to tell you how I get the following results:

  • 89.6% of my clients pay on time (within 7 days)
  • 9.4% of my clients pay within 7 days past due
  • 1% don’t pay at all, but only because they go bankrupt (no fault of mine, I assure you)
  • I’ve never needed to use a collection agency

Here’s how you can get results like that:

4 Ways to Ensure Your Customers/Clients Pay On Time, Every Time

1. Change your terms to 7 days

Do it.

Right now.

Send out an email to warn everyone that it starts this week.

When your terms are 7 days your clients will file your invoices right under their accounts-payable-clerks nose for immediate attention.

Invoices that are due 20th of the month are so easy to ignore, or postpone, or forget about, or get lost.

“But my client’s accounting system can’t handle paying within 7 days!

Bullshit!

Ask nicely for an exception.

I’ve been paid within 7 days from Government Departments, City Councils and District Health Boards. Their policy is to pay 20th of the following month but they all made an exception for me because I asked for it.

2. Email your invoices instead of posting them

Ask for the accounts-payable-clerks email address and email them directly (and cc your contact at the company too).

No more posting. This slows things down far too much. And with 7 day terms, 3 of those days are used up in printing/delivery.

Don’t know how to convert your invoices to PDF? You don’t need Adobe Acrobat Professional (NZ$600!), just download 1 of hundreds of free/cheap PDF writers (they install as “virtual printers”).

3. Stop sending statements with OVERDUE stamps on them

Receiving a statement with a big red overdue stamps on it is like slapping your client in the face with a wet fish.

Acutally, it’s like slapping the accounts-payable-clerk in the face with a wet fish because your contact at the company will probably not even see this document.

Why would you treat the person who is going to pay you like this?

It is a deep insult. It is shouting out “You are crap at your job! Paying invoices is easy but somehow you screwed it up! Wow, you really suck!”

If you sent me a statement with a big red, angry overdue stamp on it, I would purposely not pay you just to piss you off.

4. Within a few days of the invoice being overdue, email a reminder

Send the following reminder to the accounts-payable-clerk and copy in your contact at the company too.

With these exact words: “Hi Bob, I just noticed invoice #1234 is a few days overdue. Would you like an extension?”.

That’s it.

Short.

To the point.

No waffle.

Notice the first part “I just noticed”? This lets them know that you know it’s overdue. It lets them know you are watching. Now they know that you know.

And notice how it ends with an open ended question?

I could have said “Let me know if you need an extension.” But this isn’t as powerful, because it isn’t a question. It’s weak. Don’t use it.

The magic of asking a yes/no question like “Would you like an extension?” is that people instantly form a response in their heads once they’ve read it.

There are two possible answers. Yes, and No.

Most of the time they are too proud to email you back and say “yes, could we have until the end of the month please?” (although some do, and that’s perfect fine, now you have a new due date to work with).

So they will think “no” in their head. “No, I don’t need an extension, I’m going to pay this today to show them how in control I am of my finances!”. You might not get an email response from these people but the payment will turn up in your bank account the next day.

Why this method works so well

You must stick to this schedule because this is how you train your clients. It lets them know what your expectations of them are, and they quickly learn what to expect from you next time.

If you ease up, that’s when it slips away and you’ll spend more time chasing overdue invoices and less time serving clients.

What if you still don’t get paid?

Wait another 7 days and send this email (and attach the invoice): “Hi Bob, could you check on invoice #1234 for me please? It is now a few weeks overdue.”

What if you still don’t get paid?

Wait another 7 days and send this email (and attach the invoice): “Hi Bob, Invoice #1234 is now 4 weeks overdue. May I have payment today please?”

What if you still don’t get paid?

Wait 30 days and then email them every day with a variation like this:

  • “Hi Bob, just checking on invoice #1234, may I have payment today please?”
  • “Hi Bob, could you have another look at invoice #1234 please. Could you arrange payment today please?”
  • “Hi Bob, I just wanted to check on your payment for invoice #1234. Could you make that payment today please?”
  • “Hi Bob, I was hoping to hear from you by now. May I have payment on invoice #1234 today please?”

The key is to not get angry. Keep your tone respectful and calm. Don’t acknowledge that you are being ignored.

“Why not just pick up the phone and call them?”

Because emailing saves face. It’s embarrassing to make a call to ask someone to pay, and its even more embarrassing to receive one. Email creates a comfort zone.

“What if they do ask for an extension?”

Fantastic! That is a great outcome. It’s not as good as getting paid, but it is pretty close.

Remember, they have chosen the new due date, you didn’t choose it for them. So reset your reminders and as soon as that new due date lapses without payment, repeat the process outlined above.

“This seems like a lot of work, is it really worth it?”

Once you have set expectations using the suggestions above, very few clients will progress to the daily harassment stage.

“How about I just use a collection agency instead?”

No. It’s your problem. It’s your fault for not training your clients properly. You deal with it.

What do you think about this advice?

What tips do you have for dealing with late invoices? Tell your story in the comments below.

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 none at all because the main two things that customers care about is:

  1. Price
  2. Risk

And a money back guarantee helps with both.

A money back guarantee reduces risk for the customer because:

  • It signals that you are confident about the quality of your product
  • It reduces their nervousness about making a bad purchasing decision
  • It goes beyond the normal offer of replacing the item if something goes wrong, because they can get their money back

A money back guarantee reduces the price for the customer because:

  • There is a cost for returning something for a refund: time. Knowing that you are able to get cash back for your trouble is better compensation than a replacement
  • Customers perception is: Price + money-back-guarantee = Free Trial. Free is a customers favourite price

These are all “up-front” factors that persuade a customer to buy in the first place. Which is great.

In fact, let’s just slap a number on it and say that offering a money back guarantee will generate 20% more sales for you.

But the real magic happens in the “tail-end”, a long time after the sale.

Let’s say you purchased the Ginsu 2000 never-needs-sharpening-can-cut-through-a-can knife with a 30 year money back guarantee.

And it’s year number 29 and you decide it’s crap. Do you ask for your money back? Hell no. For 4 reasons:

  1. You forgot about the 30 year money back guarantee anyway
  2. You can’t be bothered
  3. You feel you got your moneys worth any way
  4. You don’t want to impose or be a nuisance
  5. You’ve had it so long it feels like yours, you feel like the owner. This reduces the obligation of the people you bought it from

Yes, it’s an extreme example but you get the idea. Let’s look at another:

Let’s say you purchased an ebook about Search Engine Optimisation for $19 with a 3 month money back guarantee.

It’s the 2nd month, and you only just got around to reading it and you decide it’s crap. Do you ask for your money back? Hell no. For 3 reasons:

  1. You forgot about the 3 month money back guarantee anyway
  2. You can’t be bothered
  3. You don’t want to impose or be a nuisance
  4. It’s in your possession and so you feel like the owner. This reduces the obligation of the author

Let’s just slap a number on it and say that you get 5% of customers that actually do go ahead and ask for their money back.

So to summarise, you are getting 20% more sales to get out 5% refunds… Ummm, that’s really good isn’t it?

Yes. Yes it is.

4 Ways to Make A Great Money Back Guarantee:

  1. Make the expiry really really long. The longer it is the more chance of the customer forgetting about it, or feeling like they are imposing by asking for their money back
  2. If a customer asks for their money back, provide it the same day. Don’t drag your feet and make them wait. You will impress them with your customer service, and this experience may trigger Word-of-Mouth so you might get new sales from people they talk too!
  3. Tell them up-front how to get one eg “To get your money back, just call us on 0800 xyz xyz and you’ll have your money back within 24 hours”. You could just provide an email form for them to request their money-back, but in this case, I advise putting up a small barrier for them and getting them to talk directly to you
  4. Arrange their refund over the phone, and when it’s finished and approved, at the last minute ask them why they asked for one. Their feedback might be valuable. Don’t ask this question upfront because it will make them feel more uncomfortable than they already are

What about services?

Money back guarantees can also work for services but you’ll have to go overboard with your offer Eg “If you are not happy with our car washing service we’ll redo it for free + give your money back”

What do you think about money back guarantees now?

What do you have to add to this? Will you give it a try for your business? What’s the most outrageous money-back guarantee you’ve ever seen?

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.

I gave it a shot, and I failed many times, but I’m not afraid because that’s when I learnt my biggest lessons.

I have had a few successes and many failures.

3 Ways I’ve Tried (and failed) To Make Money Online:


1. Make Money Online Simply By Purchasing A Domain Name?

  • If you are holding on to your domain names hoping for the day you get a big offer for it, don’t hold your breath.
  • Ever been shocked that a particular domain name is still for sale? Ever been amazed that it hadn’t been purchased already by someone else? Don’t be. There are thousands of domain names like that
  • No matter how exclusive a domain name you think you have, there are a million ways someone with real content will beat you in the search engines and sidestep you by merely adding a dash or another word to the domain name they buy for $25 to avoid purchasing yours for thousands of dollars

2. Make Money Online With Affiliate Marketing?

  • There are lots of variations on this, one common example is that you are promised $1 every time you sell a digital product. Your task is to get your hyperlink in front of a large audience so you buy advertising space on big websites such as TradeMe, NZHerald, YouTube, Facebook etc using an ad network such as Google Adsense, AdBrite etc.
  • Unfortunately the click-through rates are never as good as you thought they would be (the mega affiliates have already saturated the market and made all their money before you got your affiliate code) so if you ever make a sale, it’ll cost you $1.10 to make it (oops, you only made $1 on that sale so you just made a loss of 10c…)
  • Another variation is starting a small blog and featuring your affiliate links in the sidebar (or in the articles themselves). Sorry, your web traffic levels probably won’t reach critical mass, and the poorer quality your content, the worse the future looks for you if you rely on free traffic from Google

3. Make Money Online By Blogging?

  • Could you quit your day job and start writing full time and earn an income by selling advertising on your amazing articles? Probably not.
  • It seems that the only people making money by blogging are those that teach others how to make money from blogging…
  • I’ve written some pretty awesome articles over the years (if I do say so myself) and I actually have been able to turn one popular article into a small business, but I’m not going to give up my day job to write full time, are you?

My Slow-Cook Recipe For Making Money Online

I have had a small number of success at earning money online, so here is my recipe if you want to do the same:

  1. Find a niche that lots of people are interested in (and ideally only a few people are servicing)
  2. Do a better job than your competition at writing interesting, engaging content (eg articles, reviews, start discussions)
  3. Attract the people that are interested in this niche (eg with organic search engine traffic, direct marketing, advertising, Facebook, Twitter)
  4. Monetise the web traffic (with Adsense, or direct ad selling, or hold out for a buy-out of your business)
    • Sidenote: On average you need 100 visits to earn $1 with Adsense. Getting 30 visits per day? Hooray, you’ll earn $2/week!

There is no magic bullet.

And if you see a magic bullet for sale then that get-rich-quick gun fired a long time ago and you are too late to rake in a huge pile of cash.

What about you?

If you have tried and failed, or tried and succeeded at making money online, add your comments below.

2 Vital Elements The “About Us” Page on Your Website May Be Missing

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 to give them what they came for.

So, what are they looking for?

When prospective customers visit your About Us page they are looking for 2 things:

  1. Credibility cues
  2. A story

3 Ways how you can build credibility on your About Us page

  1. They want to know you are legit, with a real physical address (preferably nearby to them, and at least in the same country)
  2. Use real names (not “us” and “we”). Certainly name everybody the customer may be in contact with, and it’s good to name all the support people too. Plus name the founders/managers.
  3. Use official company names (not just your trading-as name) so they know they can check you out with the Companies Office if they wanted to

3 Tips for how you can tell a story on your About Us page

  1. Lots of detail. On most web pages you need to be quite brief and get to your point quickly, but on the About Us page the rules are relaxed a bit because the web visitor is asking for a story so you can write as much detail as you like. Divide your “About Us” content into sub-pages if you need them eg “History”, “Founders”
  2. Define your target customer (don’t try and be all things to all people). The idea is to be specific so your target customer sees themselves in your description and has confidence you will serve them well. And those outside your target will still see elements that match them so you win both ways
  3. Convey your passion for helping people like them, perhaps you have an interesting story of why and how you got into this business that communicates that passion?

What more tips can you suggest for About Us pages? Add them to the comments below.

Socialnomics: How social media transforms the way we live and do business by Erik Qualman

My notes on “Socialnomics: How social media transforms the way we live and do business” by Erik Qualmantélécharger (1)

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 it be great if there was a powder that made everything taste like bacon?”
  • They found over 35,000 people that mentioned bacon in their MySpace profile. They began reaching out to these people to gauge their interest in Bacon Salt, and not only did they find interest, they started receiving orders when they didn’t even have a product yet.
  • It went viral.
  • The spice that made everything taste like bacon incredibly sold 600,000 bottles in 18 months. “We didn’t even have a product at the beginning; instead, we bought cheap spice bottles, printed out Bacon Salt logos and scotch them onto the bottles.”
  • Lesson: People are passionate about what they like. Each passion is a niche that can turn into a business.


Continue reading “Socialnomics: How social media transforms the way we live and do business by Erik Qualman”

Online Advertising In NZ: A Crash Course On How You Can Get Started Advertising Your Business Online in New Zealand

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 online advertising is what you need

“What are the major formats of online advertising?”

There are 2 main formats:

  1. Text based ads
    • Very easy to setup
    • Very easy to change
  2. Display ads
    • Traditionally just “Banner Ads” but now includes rich media/interactive ads and video ads
    • Usually expensive to get graphic design and difficult and expensive to change
    • But, your best performing text-based ads can be converted to display ads very cheaply! (They look absolutely hideous, but they work really well)

“Where can we place our ads?”

In New Zealand there are 4 main places where it would be appropriate to put your ads:

1. Beside Google NZ Search results (“Google Adwords”)

  • Format: Text-based ads
  • In the right hand column, and sometime above search results
  • Very easy to set up
  • $1 per click would be average (highly competitive industry’s like finance or tourism will cost more)
  • Good targeting: You can specify a geographic target and your ads are displayed when people in those cities are searching for something related to your offer
  • Provides excellent data so you can just copy/paste your best performing ads to the next 3 ad networks

2. Websites that use Google Adsense

  • Format: Text-based ads and display ads
  • That have dedicated space on their website to earn revenue (like mine: LoveOneDaySales.co.nz)
  • Very easy to set up
  • Display Ads:
    • Very cheap CPM (Cost-Per-Thousand Impressions) because most people don’t bother creating display ads because it’s too hard = less competition for ad space = cheaper cost of advertising
    • Good reach – your ads would be popping up on random NZ websites all over the place – good for cheap brand recognition

3. Facebook

  • Format: Text-based ads with a single small image
  • Excellent targeting: you can specify exactly who your demographic is Eg Female 25-35 who live in the Tauranga area
  • But Facebook users are not there to click on ads, they are there to have fun and share their lives. Therefore effectiveness can be very poor
  • Cost-Per-Click varies greatly eg $1-$3

4. Huge NZ Websites that have their own advertising systems

  • Format: display ads (interactive costs extra & video is not usually available)
  • Eg TradeMe, NZHerald etc
  • The CPM (Cost-Per-Thousand Impressions) is usually very high and uncompetitive to a discerning advertiser (because they put a very high value on their own audience and there is large overhead to pay for)
  • No targeting at all

“Great! How do we get started?”

  1. Be very clear what your objective is
    • If it’s new customers: What are you offering them? Why should they join? What’s in it for them? What should your landing page say?
  2. Set a value on that new customer
    • Eg if you can expect every new customer to stick with you for 5 years and you will earn $100 from that relationship, then the value of a new customer is $100. If 50% of them will stick with you, the value is $50
    • This is your maximum allowable “Cost of Acquisition”
  3. Set a target
    • Eg “1000 new customers”
    • And decide upfront how you will measure the results (eg install tracking code on the website)
  4. Set a budget
    • Multiple your target by your Cost of Acquisition
    • If the number is unacceptable, re-adjust any of the numbers accordingly
  5. Hand over the project to someone who knows what they are doing

“Great! Sheldon, can you help us with this?”

I’m booked up until March 2011. If you’d like to join the queue, email me your details and I’ll make a note in my diary to contact you then.

Cheers,
– Sheldon

Phone: (07) 575 8799, Email: sheldon@marketingfirst.co.nz

P.S. What I’ve left out:

  • Mobile advertising
    • Google Adwords offers you the ability to show your ads on mobile devices. There is huge growth in this area and definitely worth keeping an eye on and considering later
  • Google Search Partners
    • This is a network of search engines that use Google to serve ads, but these alternatives are not popular in New Zealand so ignore them for now
  • Other Search Engines like Bing
    • Perhaps there are bargains to be had with Bing’s text-based ads but their market share is very small in NZ

The Squeaky Window Gets The Lube

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 at Anything Auto Electrical, 32 Waihi Road”.

Just what I wanted! To get the squeak fixed and it’s for free!

I pulled over, and whipped out my new iPhone and found their contact details on yellowpages.co.nz. I called the number and Greg the manager answered. I said “I just heard your radio ad for a free lube, I’ll be there in 10 mins, ok?” “Sure!” said Greg.

I love to talk to small business owners about their marketing, and that’s exactly what I did with Greg as he worked on my windows.

What Greg Reminded Me About The Yellow Pages

And even though I don’t think much of the Yellow Pages, Greg made me remember that for some industries it is essential and can be effective.

For his Yellow Pages online listing, the “Bronze” level was enough to get him ahead of all the auto-electricians in the area for an extra $20/month.  (I guess Yellow Pages hope that to get ahead of him, a competitor will go for the Silver level?).

Greg liked the Yellow Pages statistics he is provided with every month of the people who “click-to-reveal” his phone number. He monitors his phone call stats and tells me a very high percentage of those that click, go ahead and make the phone call.

How Greg Can Get Maximum Mileage Out of His Free Lube Offer

Greg tells me that the idea behind the “free lube for electric windows” offer was to get people in so they find out a bit about the kind of services they offer, where they are, and take a business card away with them so the next time they have an auto-electrical problem, they know who to call.

Finally I had a useful piece of advice for Greg (have you noticed that so far in this article, he has been teaching me?)

I suggested that Greg starts taking an email address and that the admin/receptionist sends out a short “thank you” email later today or tomorrow which has the following components:

  • Thanks: eg “Thanks for coming in for a free electric window lube today, we think it is important to help you to prolong the life of your window motor and switches”
  • Provide a list of 5 most common symptoms that would indicate an electrical problem “if you notice any of those changes/noises, bring your car in and we’ll do a no-obligation diagnostic for you”

Greg explained to me that he hasn’t bothered creating an emailing list in the past because auto-electrical work happens when something breaks, and whereas mechanics can send out 6 monthly reminders for oil changes and WOF’s, there is very little you can do in terms of preventative maintenance when it comes to auto-electrics.

I suggested, that now that he has the customers permission to email then, that he schedule an email for 3 or 4 or 6 months from now anyway.  The content of that email could simply repeat the list of “5 most common symptoms” or provide a new list, or helpful article, or free advice.

It’s an opportunity to get his brand name in-front of that customer again, and is sure to increase the chances of that customer choosing Greg if something happens to their car around that time that they receive that email.

How Greg Depends Heavily On Online Directory Websites

Even though I am a Marketing generalist and profess to be a “Marketing Consultant” or “Marketing Advisor” I must confess that I don’t do much of that kind of work for clients. Most of the time a client doesn’t even know they need help with their marketing, they just know they need a website. So that’s what I build for them – a website. Luckily for them all my marketing knowledge goes into that process for free!

Anyway, Greg told me his website lists products but doesn’t have ecommerce.

That is perfectly fine in my opinion.

Sometimes it is right to show samples of your product range, indications of pricing, and then drive people to the phone so you can help them in greater depth, provide them with a more accurate diagnosis of their problem, and propose the appropriate solution.

You don’t get that with an ecommerce website – most ecommerce websites are just about the lowest price. It’s no fun discounting all the time just to give yourself the chance of making a sale.

Since getting back to the office, I have tried to find Greg’s website, but I have failed.

I searched for “Anything Auto Electrical Tauranga” but the search engine results pages are dominated by directory listings of his business (Yellow, iLook, UBD, Finda etc), so there is no problem finding his contact details, location and phone number, but it concerns me that his “official” website is nowhere to be seen.

To me, this is a reminder that every business should have a website even if it is a single page with only your contact details and a summary of how you can help customers.

Did you know it is very very easy to rank at the top of search engine results for your brand name?

Why send everyone who searches for you to those directory websites? Do you see there is more risk of them finding one of your competitors while they are there?

If your official website is the first, that risk is removed and you have control over what they read (whereas online directories control how your info is presented).

Can I Help You?

I’d love to chat with you to find out about your business and I might have an idea or two for you to improve. But to be honest, mostly I’ll be listening to what I can learn from you 🙂

If you’d like some free advice about your marketing and advertising, give me a call (07) 575 8799.

Cheers,

Sheldon Nesdale

Social Media 101 by Chris Brogan

My notes on “Social Media 101” by Chris BroganScreen-Shot-2015-04-29-at-10.43.45-AM

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 for yourself).

1. Chris’s Advice About Writing

What is the customer, consumer, user and/or partner thinking?

  • What’s in it for me?
  • How does this impact me?
  • Do I have to do something?
  • What’s this going to cost me?


Continue reading “Social Media 101 by Chris Brogan”

Social Media Marketing for Dummies by Shiv Singh

My notes on “Social Media Marketing for Dummies” by Shiv Singh.51xOpIA89AL._SX397_BO1,204,203,200_

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 Disney’s Pinocchio movie in March 2008 to coincide with its Disney anniversary release. She tweeted about t themes in the movie, often in question form, encouraging others to respond. Her 8000 followers on Twitter knew that she was doing this for Disney (every tweet about Pinocchio had a special tag), but because the tweets were appropriate for the audience, entertaining, and authentic, the campaign was a success.

Continue reading “Social Media Marketing for Dummies by Shiv Singh”

The Zen of Social Media Marketing by Shama Hyder Kabani

the-zen-of-socialMy 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 are there, first and foremost, to express themselves. After self-expression comes their need to connect with others.

Expired Domains: Picking Fruit From A Graveyard Of Failed Ideas?

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!

Every single time I look at this list of Expired Domains, I have these same three reactions:

Reaction #1:

“oooo, I can’t believe that xyz.co.nz is available! And it’s only $24.50! What a freakin bargain, I’ll set up a website and make millions! I simply can’t lose!”

Reaction #2:

I do a double-take.

“wait a second… they are on this list of expired domains because someone, like me, thought they had potential.  But that person failed to make any money from it at all, and let it expire rather than waste another $24.50 on it to renew it… hmmmm”

**Warning Bells!!**

“calm down Sheldon, calm down, I don’t have to whip out my credit card right now and buy it before someone else gets a chance…”

Reaction #3:

“Oh, in all that excitement I forgot that it doesn’t matter what your domain name is. What is most important is your content!”

What do you think?

The next time you are tempted by an expired domain, pause, and remember that you are picking fruit from a graveyard of failed ideas.

Add your comments below:

7 Ways To Get Your Website Working Harder For You

  1. Is your website search engine friendly? Find out with a free review
  2. Is your website listed in the best, free NZ directories? Check the list
  3. Have you completed the 8 essential steps for getting a website working for you?
  4. Have you tried advertising using Google Adwords? Here’s how its done
  5. Have you got a copy of the 2009 ebook “How to Optimise Your New Zealand Website For Search Engines” which is now free?
  6. Does your website need a complete overhaul? Get it done for only $1800
  7. Does your business need fresh eyes and fresh ideas? 45 minutes of advice with a marketing professional is yours, for free

Cheers,

Sheldon Nesdale
Phone: (07) 575 8799

Twitter/Facebook: How To Update Your Business Facebook Page Wall With Twitter

I am assuming you already have the following:

  1. Business Twitter Account
  2. 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 favourite movies or what you had for lunch appearing on your Facebook business page do you?

So, what do you want?

  • Do you want to be able to write a Tweet and for that Tweet to appear on your Business Facebook Page Wall (not on your personal profile)?
  • Do you want Retweets to be ignored so only your messages appear?
  • Do you want hashtags to be ignored because they wouldn’t work on Facebook anyway?
  • Do you want to save time by not having to update 2 platforms every time you have something to say?
  • Do you want your Facebook Business Page to look active without extra effort?

Then I have good news. Here’s how I achieved this yesterday.

How to Automatically Update Your Business Facebook Page Wall From Your Business Twitter Account:

  1. Go to the “Smart Twitter for Pages” Facebook application
  2. Click “Add to my page” (at the top of the left column)
  3. Choose the business page you want to add this feature to
  4. Login to your Business Twitter Account
  5. Authorise the application to access your Twitter account
  6. You’re done!

Need more help?

Business Facebook Pages: Simple Tips For Your Business Page on Facebook

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, that’s fine, you won’t be personally identified on the business page, and you can set up additional admins so that when you leave, you can remove your own access and everything still runs smoothly
  • Don’t make the mistake of setting up new Facebook login just for the business. This is a violation of Facebooks Terms (and people would have to “Add as Friend” instead of just clicking “Like” which is a barrier you don’t need)

#2. Ensure your logo is the right size

  • Set your logo to 180px by 180px. If you set the width bigger than that Facebook will do a really bad job of resizing it for you.
  • You can also increase the height to add some photos or text (but keep the top 180px x 180px just for your logo because this portion will be cropped and resized for the little 50×50 icon that appears beside all your wall posts). Eg: http://www.facebook.com/juicyfruit have done a great job

#3. Add a Facebook widget or “Like Box” to your website

  • Not just the Facebook icon and link to your Facebook page, add a whole widget! Facebook calls it the “Like Box
  • Set the widget to show 9 or more followers (randomised)
  • Facebook will automatically show the friends of the person looking at the webpage which will encourage them to “Like” you too
  • Turn off the other junk like a stream of message
  • This is the easiest way to get Facebook followers

#4. Get a Vanity Url as soon as you can

#5. Change the order of your tabs

  • If you are logged in, you can just drag the tabs into the order you want (you can’t change the position of “Wall” or “Info”)

#6. Delete the tabs you don’t want to use

  • In your settings you can delete the tabs. If you decide you need them later, you can add them back
  • Eg delete the “Discussion” tab. Nobody seems to use it and it looks lame being empty

#7. ADVANCED: Add a custom HTML page

  • If you want to create a simple “About Us” page, or add a email newsletter signup form, or show other complex content, you’ll need to install an iFrame app like Static Iframe Tab
  • You have 3 choices, you can either:
    1. Show a single large image (lots of brands have a few pictures, text + a big arrow pointing to their like button)
    2. Type your content into the box provided using the Rich Text Editor or HTML view (if you need images you’ll have to host them on your own website and link to them with absolute references which is a bit annoying)
    3. Or, even better, setup a hidden webpage on your website and have it load within an iFrame (which gives you the ability to create any content at all)
  • Then you can rename the tab to whatever you like and choose a cool little icon for it

What else?

  • Do you use Facebook Business Pages? Share your tips in the comments below
  • Have I made a mistake in my list of tips? Correct me by leaving a message in the comments below

See updated version: October 2012

Should I Give My Ebook Away For Free Or Require An Email Address?

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:

  1. Ask for a name and email address and email the ebook
  2. Hyperlink directly to a downloadable Pdf

I chose option #2: Hyperlink.

The pros and cons were as follows:

  • Con: I would have no idea who is reading it because I wasn’t collecting names or email addresses
  • Pro: I was setting my content free with the potential to go viral
  • Con: I had no way of contacting the people that downloaded it to tell them about my next version, or to make them a special offer on my other services
  • Pro: It removed a barrier to trialling my products & services

The pro’s were great but the con’s are very heavy.

And 4 months later I have buckled under their weight.

So 5 days ago I put the sign-up form back in place.

It just asks for first name and email address. That’s it. Pretty easy.

And I already have 7 email addresses in my list that I can work with!

What will I do next time: link directly to the ebook, or require an email address?

I’ll ask for the email address and first name.

And in the ebook itself I’ll encourage these people to pass the ebook on to whoever else they think would be interested.

That way, I get the viral thing happening but I still get to keep in contact to these influencers with my offers!

5 Ways Your Potential Clients May Be Reacting To Your Contact Form (And What You Can Do About It)

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 turning them away.

5 Ways Your Potential Clients May Be Reacting To Your Contact Form (And What You Can Do About It):

1. “That contact form is sooooo long! I feel tired just looking at it!”

  • Does everyone type at 60 Words/Minute like you? No. Most people I know type with one finger. A long form looks like half an hour of work to them
  • It doesn’t matter if some fields are “not required”. Visitors don’t notice the little asterix, and they feel obliged to fill in every field because of “form momentum”

What you can do:

  • Trim back your fields to the absolute bare minimum. Do you really need their postal address, physical address, all their phone numbers and date of birth? No you don’t.

2. “Bah! Another error message: ‘Syntax of field 624 is invald’? WTF?”

  • If prospects take the time filling in your form, click submit and they get an error box in their face they will get angry and hate you
  • It’s worse if your form validation script doesn’t highlight the field in red and provide helpful guidance so the prospect knows exactly what to do next. They will feel lost and confused
  • They will subconsciously ascribe these negative feelings to you. Is that the right way to start a business relationship?

What you can do:

  • Keep the form super short. Less fields = less potential error messages
  • Lighten up on the validation

3. “Does this contact form even work?”

  • This is a fear of the message not being delivered at all
  • Sometimes when you click the “submit” button does it feel like you are launching your message into space and you’ll never see it again? That’s because experience tells us that is exactly what we are doing. Sometimes the contact form is broken and no-one find out for months

What you can do:

  • Regularly test that the contact form is working

4. “How long will I have to wait before I hear back?”

  • Closely related to the fear of the message not being delivered at all is waiting an age for a response
  • Perhaps part of the problem is that most contact forms go to generic email addresses like “info@yourdomain.co.nz”. How motivated is the recipient of emails sent to this generic address to respond fast when the message isn’t even addressed to them? If Bob gets these messages, which will he reply to first: Emails addressed to Bob, or emails addressed to “info”?

What you can do:

  • Send your contact form messages to a real person not just “info” (yes, it may need updating when your staff change)
  • Make a promise in your email receipt “we will respond within 1 normal business day. If you don’t hear from us, please call our tollfree hotline”

5. “What did I say? When? To Who? I can’t remember!”

  • When you send a message from your own email system you can always check your “sent” box later to check:
    • That it was actually sent
    • Who it was sent to
    • The date/time
    • and most importantly: what you said
  • With a contact form you get nothing. Sometimes you might get an email receipt that says “thanks for your message, we’ll contact you soon” – yeah right.

What you can do:

  • Send the prospect a copy of their own message “here’s a copy of your message for your reference”
  • Let them just click on your mailto hyperlink so they can send their message from their own email system

What Else You Can Do To Improve Your Contact Form

Double check that you provide a clear “mailto” link for your email address like this: “sheldon@marketingfirst.co.nz“.

If you don’t, you may be forcing your web visitors to use your contact form and face all the problems listed above, or they may just give up and leave, and take their business to your competitors.

Got A NZ Business But Using A .com Website Address?

20% of google searchers see your .com result & think “how did that American website get into my search results? Google must have screwed up. Oh well, I’ll click on the next one”.

Use a .co.nz website address if you have a NZ business.

Even if your target customers are overseas, being a .co.nz adds to your brand story.

*The statistics in this article were made up for dramatic purposes 🙂

What Are You Offering Your Clients? Junk, Rip-off, Bargain, Boring, or Quality?

Choose one (and only one) from the following list:

  1. Low Price + Low Service = Junk
  2. High Price + Low Service = Rip-off
  3. Low Price + High Service = Bargain
  4. Medium Price + Medium Service = Boring as hell
  5. High Price + High Service = Quality

It’s time to get real and decide what you want from your business. There are 2 choices:

  1. Retire early with a steady stream of passive income?
  2. or Word hard until the day you die, a slave to your own business?

Which of the 5 choices will get you there?

#1 Providing junk?

Maybe.

It worked for The Warehouse for a long time, but even they are growing tired of the junk image and they’re trying hard to shake it off and move into #3 Bargain.

It works pretty well for $2 Shop and all the copy-cats.

But will it work for you?

Probably not.

You need huge economies of scale and you’re too lazy to set that up, right? I don’t blame you.

#2 Ripping people off?

Nope.

It might work for 10 minutes and then you’ll be found out.

Think of the shame!

Think of FairGo knocking on your door!

That’s not you.

#3 Providing Bargains?

No.

Surprised?

Customers love bargains, right?

Sure they do but the margins are too slim and providing such a high level of service for little in return will wear you out (and your staff).

#4 Being Boring As Hell?

That’s what happens when you choose the middle of the road.

Your customers are disloyal. If your competitor has a special on they’ll queue up outside his shop.

Does being boring promote Word of Mouth advertising from your most loyal customers to their friends and family and whoever they meet?

No.

#5 Providing Quality?

This is what business is all about.

Raise your prices so that each transaction provides you with the funds for improving your products and services even more.

Will you lose customers?

Sure you will. You’ll lose the disloyal ones (let them go) and retain the ones that buy from you for the quality.

A few more ideas about how you can provide quality:

  • Create a story around your brand (we all love a good story, and we love spreading good stories)
  • Take a stand for what you believe in (differentiate yourself, add to your story and uniqueness)
  • Be a leader in your industry (declare “We’re heading in this direction, have you got the balls to follow or are you going to be left behind?”)
  • Communicate your passion for your business (it’s infectious)

What next?

It’s really hard to move from one category to the next.

But you can do it.

You must do it.

I can help.

Call me: (07) 575 8799

Cheers,
Sheldon.

Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days by Jay Conrad Levinson and Al Lautenslager

My notes on “Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days” by Jay Conrad Levinson and Al Lautenslager

What is your competitive advantage? Is it enough?61o1gFxYuZL._AC_UL320_SR256,320_

  • Write down every reason you can think of to do business with your company. Now do the same for your top competitors. Scratch off the common ones. Are the remaining reasons good enough to be your competitive advantage? Do you need more?
  • Asking your customers why they do business with you will provide you with your competitive advantages


Continue reading “Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days by Jay Conrad Levinson and Al Lautenslager”

How To Modify Your Advertising Depending On The Customers Usage Level And Loyalty

The next time you are writing an advertisement, or an article, or updating your website, choose your audience along the following grid of “usage” vs “loyalty”.

Choose just one and ask yourself “how can I modify my message to speak just to them?”.

Usage vs Loyalty: Where Are The Opportunities For Your Business?

Let’s look at each sector in more detail:

1. High/Med/Low User + High Loyalty To You = Your Best Customers

  • This is where you are making all your profit.
  • What else can you do today to keep them fiercely loyal? 2 ideas:
    • Keep adding value, keep improving
    • and keep putting your prices up (the best way to maintain or grow your profitability and signal to them that you are working hard to improve the value of your products and services)
  • Don’t waste your money communicating to this bunch with mass-media. Surely you have their email addresses or phone numbers? But more important than a cheesy Christmas card every year is to keep delivering the top quality products and services they have come to expect. Keep up the good work. Nice job.
  • High Volume:
    • If we all had lots of high volume / high loyalty customers we’d all be rich! But unfortunately they are hard to get, hard to keep and there are few of them.  So don’t retire yet
    • It’s a double edged sword: Does having just a few major contracts make your business secure and stable, or does it make you weak and vulnerable?
  • Med/Low Volume:
    • Don’t neglect the little guy. They might never turn into high volume, but they are your bread and butter today. But you already knew that I’m sure.

2. High User + Low Loyalty To You = Your Competitors Best Customers

  • Do you think you can win the most loyal customers of your competitors? You’re dreaming! They’re out of your reach
  • Can you turn a Holden fan into a Ford fan? No, you can’t. So give up and pick a fight you can win
  • But, be ready – wait for the competition to make a huge screw-up and be there with a smile on your face welcoming them home
  • This group is completely blind to your advertisements. They have made their choice of supplier for this category/industry/niche. Life is easy and peaceful for them. Let them be at peace.

3. High User + No Loyalty = Attractive But Deadly

  • This group is super attractive, because there are so many of them
  • Your boss will put enormous pressure on you to do whatever it takes to make this group buy from you this week. Most of the time the only tactic that will work is a super special price (maybe at break-even point!)
  • Sure, you might make the sale this week, but next week you’re playing the same game again and next time they’ll choose a different supplier
  • These guys suck up your advertising budget and contribute little to your profitability
  • They don’t care about the brand you’ve worked so hard to build. They don’t see distinction or differentiation between your brand and your competitors. “Who is cheaper this week? That’s the one for me!”

4. Non-Users + No Loyalty = Untapped Markets

  • This group has never made a purchase
  • They have the same problems and issues that all the other customers are facing, but not know that a solution exists!
  • For example, one of the most popular websites in NZ is called 1-day.co.nz with half a million visits a day, but it seems that 80% of the people I tell about it, have never heard of it! Could the same be true for your business? What are they reading/watching/listening to that you don’t normally advertise in?
  • The only bummer with speaking to the members of this new market is that you are breaking the ice for your whole industry and they may not choose you!

5. Med/Low Users + Low Loyalty To You = Your Competitors Bread and Butter

  • This is where your growth can come from
  • It’s about maintaining your high quality, providing remarkable service (even if only occasionally) and trying to activate Word-of-Mouth
  • What can you do to turn your customers into ambassadors for your brand?

Need Help?

Need help analysing the opportunities for your business?

I’d loooove to help!  Call (07) 575 8799 or email sheldon@marketingfirst.co.nz.

Cheers,
Sheldon.

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? How to drive your career and create a remarkable future By Seth Godin

My notes on “Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? How to drive your career and create a remarkable future” by Seth Godintélécharger (2)

The law of the Mechanical Turk

  • The law: “Any project, if broken down into sufficiently small, predictable parts, can be accomplished for awfully close to free.”
  • Eg Jimmy Wales led the tiny team at Wikipedia that destroyed the greatest reference book of all time. And almost all of them worked for free.
  • The Encyclopaedia Britannica was started in 1770 and is maintained by a staff of more than a hundred full-time editors. Over the last 250 years, it has probably cost more than a hundred million dollars to build and edit.

  • Wikipedia, on the other hand, is many times bigger, far more popular, and significantly more up-to-date, and it was built for almost free. No single person could have done this. No team of a thousand, in fact. But by breaking the development or articles into millions of one-sentence or one-paragraph projects, Wikipedia too advantage of the law of the Mechanical Turk. Instead of relying on a handful of well-paid people calling themselves professionals. Wikipedia thrives by using the loosely coordinated work of millions of knowledgeable people, each happy to contribute a tiny slice of the whole.
  • The internet has turned white-collar work into something akin to building a pyramid in Egypt. No one could build the entire thing, but anyone can haul one brick into place.

Continue reading “Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? How to drive your career and create a remarkable future By Seth Godin”

B2B Marketing Plans: How To Create A One Page Marketing Plan – Just Answer These 7 Questions

Does your marketing plan need to be 10 pages?

20 pages?

200 pages?

No.

1 page is fine.

And all you need is the answers to these 7 questions.

7 Essential Questions For Your Business-to-Business Marketing Plan

1. What is your objective?

  • Do you want to retire young? Do you want a million dollars? Do you want to solve the worlds problems? Do you want to improve peoples lives?
  • It all starts with your answer to this question

2. Who is your target client?

  • Describe your perfect client(s)
  • Is it “every NZ business”? That’s a mistake. Look up the definition of the word “target” if this was your first impulse
  • Start by staking out a geographical territory and communicate the ownership of that territory fiercely (be proud that you live in Tauranga or Rotorua or Hamilton or Invercargil!)
  • What kind of business are they in? What industry? How many employees do they have? What problem are they facing everyday that they are struggling to solve? Who are their customers?
  • If you target your clients correctly, would it be physically possible to write a list of every potential client? I’m sure it would! Can you see, that if you do that, you’ll never consider using mass media such as Radio or TV advertising again?

3. What do they need?

  • Notice that I’m not asking you to list your products/services?
  • First, identify groups of clients
  • Second, identify what they need (don’t think in terms of what you’ve got. Focus on what they need from your industry)
  • Third, decide if you can deliver what they need
    • If so, repackage/rebundle your current products/services to appeal to them
    • If not, either ignore the need or set up someone to refer them to

4. How do your prospective clients make their buying decisions?

  • What is the process they go through?
  • How long does the “information collection” stage take?
  • Where do they look when gathering that information?
  • Do they make decisions by committee? Or alone? (Hint, decisions are never made alone)
  • Who do they ask for advice?

5. Why should they choose you?

  • If you don’t know the answer to this question make something up. Now.
  • Why do they currently choose your competitors?

6. What is the most efficient way to deliver your message to your audience?

  • Please leave the mass media advertising like radio and TV to Harvey Norman. It’s not for you.
  • Please don’t waste air time or paper or the time of people who have no interest in what you’re selling (that’s called SPAM)
  • Will you use face to face visits? Phone calls? Your website? Direct mail? Networking?

7. What headlines would capture their attention?

  • What benefit driven headlines would compel them to read more?
  • This is how to start generating your ideas for your marketing/advertising methods
  • Writing headlines first forces you to focus on the client and what’s in it for them
  • Writing great headlines is a science in itself, and the part of my job I love the most

Need help?

I’d loooooove to work on this stuff with you.

Give me a call (07) 575 8799 or email sheldon@marketingfirst.co.nz

Cheers,

Sheldon.

What Email Address Does The IRD Student Loan Newsletter Come From? MajorDomo@ird.govt.nz Of Course!

That is so weird.

IRD has just stopped publishing their Student Loan info newsletter.  I got the last ever hard-copy today.

From now on, if you want to know what’s going on with your student loan you have to sign up to the e-newsletter.

So that’s what I did.

And I just got an automated confirmation email to welcome me to the newsletter list.

The email address it came from was MajorDomo@ird.govt.nz.

Can you make any sense of that?

Is it the name of a famous student war hero?

Is DOMO an acronym for something like “Dunk Oreo’s Monthly Ok”?

Is it the IT departments little joke?

Marketing Without Money – How 20 Top Australian Entrepreneurs Crack Markets With Their Minds by John C Lyons and Edward de Bono

My notes on “Marketing Without Money – How 20 Top Australian Entrepreneurs Crack Markets With Their Minds” by John C Lyons and Edward de Bono:BUSMAR3

How narrow is your product offering?

  • “Don’t try to be all things. Be famous for just one thing. We are doing a very simple thing. We are facilitator only, taking people to the top of the bridge. Our job is to enable our customers to make heroes of themselves. – Paul Cave, BridgeClimb

How narrow is your target market?

  • Frequently it is better to define what you do in terms of what you do not do, being quite harsh on your choice of markets and the products and services you deliver. Seldom is failure attributable to too narrow a focus.


Continue reading “Marketing Without Money – How 20 Top Australian Entrepreneurs Crack Markets With Their Minds by John C Lyons and Edward de Bono”

Tauranga Website Design: List of ALL The Tauranga Website Designers

I heard a rumour that Tauranga has a disproportionately high number of web designers.

It turns out that this rumour may be true.

List of ALL Tauranga Website Designers

  1. www.Firstbyte.co.nz
    [Portfolio | Pricing]
  2. www.GoodWebsites.co.nz
  3. www.WebsiteResults.co.nz
  4. www.Totali.co.nz
  5. www.Cohesion.co.nz
  6. www.ReserveGroup.co.nz
  7. www.BoldHorizon.co.nz
  8. www.CucumberSoftware.com
  9. www.IconAdvertising.co.nz
  10. www.Xeno.co.nz
  11. www.Markos.co.nz
  12. www.InboxDesign.co.nz
  13. www.VoltMedia.co.nz
  14. www.Moca.co.nz
  15. www.Reverb.co.nz
  16. www.aDesignWeb.co.nz
  17. www.DigitalEffects.co.nz
  18. www.e-Koncept.co.nz
  19. www.Enform.co.nz
  20. www.iLook.co.nz
  21. www.1stWeb.co.nz
  22. www.TaurangaWeb.co.nz
  23. www.DataDog.co.nz
  24. www.rbWebWorks.com
  25. www.Pixelar.co.nz
  26. www.MediaInteractive.co.nz
  27. www.Martian.co.nz
  28. www.WickedEye.co.nz
  29. www.GoldFishInteractive.co.nz
  30. www.StudioFour.co.nz
  31. www.Spotya.co.nz
  32. www.WakaDigital.co.nz
  33. www.2Qik.co.nz
  34. www.i360.co.nz
  35. www.xsv.co.nz
  36. www.WebDesignPeople.net
  37. www.SmartRange.co.nz
  38. www.WaveDesign.co.nz
  39. www.WoodsCreative.co.nz
  40. www.Sparx.co.nz
  41. www.DesignJuice.co.nz
  42. www.SellNet.co.nz
  43. www.itMatrix.co.nz
  44. www.DuneWeb.co.nz
  45. www.FishBone.co.nz
  46. www.Wild-Designz.co.nz
  47. www.WebDesign-nz.com
  48. www.Dzina.co.nz
  49. www.FriendlyWeb.co.nz
  50. www.pcAlert.co.nz
  51. www.Smoother.co.nz
  52. www.NewMedia.co.nz
  53. www.PulseCreative.co.nz
  54. www.Forge.org.nz
  55. www.Emagine.co.nz
  56. www.nzdh.co.nz
  57. www.PixelPilots.com
  58. www.eimage.co.nz
  59. www.TopshelfDesign.com
  60. www.AardvarkWeb.co.nz
  61. www.Devcich.co.nz
  62. www.BlueFlame.co.nz
  63. www.ComputerEnterprises.co.nz
  64. www.AcrePC.co.nz
  65. www.IgniteGraphicDesign.co.nz
  66. SavantCreative.pro
  67. www.ComputerHelpGirl.co.nz
  68. www.DubDot.co.nz
  69. www.Communique.co.nz
  70. www.NotionLab.co.nz
  71. www.Jero.co.nz
  72. www.PrintAndWeb.co.nz
  73. www.DevFX.co.nz
  74. www.MatthewHattie.com
  75. www.WebEngage.co.nz
  76. www.Inspyre.co.nz
  77. www.ClarityWeb.co.nz
  78. www.ReidDesign.co.nz
  79. www.FreeDIYWebsites.co.nz
  80. www.DotPerformance.com
  81. www.TheGalaxy.com
  82. www.EquinoxDev.co.nz
  83. www.GoLoud.co.nz
  84. www.CreativeQ.co.nz
  85. www.WildFlare.co.nz
  86. Alcantelado.com.br
  87. www.RocketBug.com
  88. www.AppThat.co.nz

Is there a Tauranga Website Designer missing from the list?

If there is a Tauranga website designer missing from the list, please add it to the comments below.

Rules of Thumb: 52 Truths For Winning At Business Without Losing Your Self by Alan M. Webber

My notes on “Rules of Thumb: 52 Truths For Winning At Business Without Losing Your Self” – by Alan M. Webber.51Ei+GQ7PnL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_

What business are you in?

  • If you’re a journalist and you think you’re in the news business, chances are good you’re going to go out of business. News today is a commodity. But there’s a good market for the opinion business or event he funny business (eg Jon Stewart whom recently finished forth in the voting for America’s most trusted source of… news). None of them are in the news business; they’re successful because they are in the ideas-behind-the-news business.
  • Learn to see with fresh eyes so you can differentiate your business from the competition.

  • Change the way your business sees the market and the way your customers see your business.
  • How? Start by asking a different question. Not “what is our product or service?” but “What does our product or service stand for?”
  • Eg a supermarket chain could stand for healthier life for customers who are willing to pay more for organic food.
  • Eg2 a coffee shop could stand for neighbourliness for the people in its surrounding community who use it as an informal gathering place

Continue reading “Rules of Thumb: 52 Truths For Winning At Business Without Losing Your Self by Alan M. Webber”

The Knack – How Street-Smart Entrepreneurs Learn To Handle Whatever Comes Up by Norm Brodsky and Bo Burlingham

My notes on “The Knack – How Street-Smart Entrepreneurs Learn To Handle Whatever Comes Up” by Norm Brodsky and Bo Burlingham4891811

Why are you better off starting a business from scratch rather than buying one?

  • It’s harder to learn a business if you haven’t been with it from the start
  • You miss out on all the trial-and-error education that happens in the early stages
  • You don’t understand key relationships in the business
  • You don’t know what to do in emergencies
  • You make mistakes that are much costlier than they would have been back when the company was smaller and struggling to get off the ground


Continue reading “The Knack – How Street-Smart Entrepreneurs Learn To Handle Whatever Comes Up by Norm Brodsky and Bo Burlingham”

Crowdsourcing: How the Power of the Crowd is Driving the Future of Business by Jeff Howe

31Ab-eLDZAL._AC_UL320_SR208,320_My notes on “Crowdsourcing: How the Power of the Crowd is Driving the Future of Business” by Jeff Howe

8 Very Successful Crowdsourcing Examples

1. Threadless

  • Threadless receives thousands of designs each week
  • The Threadless community of millions votes
  • The company selects nine from the top hundred to print
  • Each design sells out
  • Hardly surprising given the fact Threadless has a fine-tuned sense of consumer demand before they ever send the design to the printer
  • Threadless isn’t really in the T-shirt business. It sells community


Continue reading “Crowdsourcing: How the Power of the Crowd is Driving the Future of Business by Jeff Howe”

Demographic Segmentation: Are You Still Segmenting Your Customers With Demographics Like Age, Gender, Address Etc? Stop.

If you’ve looking into buying mailing lists you’ll know that those lists are all about demographics.

Typical demographic are:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Address
  • Job Title
  • Income
  • Education

Do you like being put in these boxes and having assumptions made about you regarding your buying preferences?

No?

Neither do I.

Let’s pretend for a moment that you and I are exactly the same on the 6 attributes listed above. (33 years old, men, live in Tauranga New Zealand, work in Marketing, earn $200k/year, have a Bachelor Degree, a Post Grad Cert, and will both finish our MBA in May 2011).

Does that mean we are likely to choose the same toothpaste? Same car? Same restaurants? Same insurance policy?

Hell no!

Because there are more choices in the market place you and I are more different than each other than ever before.

For this reason, demographics are out.

Behaviour is in.

This year it’s about segmenting based on the action that people take.

As an example let’s use a web hosting company.  For all the people that sign up for your free trial you can put these people in your “only-want-free-trial” segment.

For all those who upgrade to your basic paid plan because your welcome email was particularly persuasive, you can call this segment the “responded-to-upsell-in-welcome-email-within-a-week” segment.

Do you see how demographics mean nothing in this context? But you can definately make sound business decisions when you have action-segments like the 2 examples I’ve just provided.

Decisions like “what changes can we make to our offer to convert more people from group #1 to group #2?”

This post was inspired by “For Your Eyes Only – the three levels of customer behavior based data

Who Owns The Tauranga Domain Names?

I love lists.

(And Google loves lists – there’s a free SEO tip for you!)

So here is my list of Tauranga domain names, who owns them, and which ones are still for sale:

New Zealand (.nz) Domain Names

  1. www.Tauranga.govt.nz – Official website of Tauranga City Council
  2. www.Tauranga.org.nz – Official website of Tauranga Chamber of Commerce
  3. www.Tauranga.school.nz – Official website of Tauranga Primary School
  4. www.Tauranga.co.nz – Privately owned directory of Tauranga businesses
  5. www.Tauranga.net.nz – Owned by EOL, redirects to EOL website
  6. www.Tauranga.geek.nz – Available
  7. www.Tauranga.gen.nz – Available
  8. www.Tauranga.maori.nz – Available
  9. www.Tauranga.iwi.nz – Available

International Domain Names

  1. www.Tauranga.net – Owned by local man Glen Cooney who likes fishing
  2. www.Tauranga.org – Official website of a local Korean church (thanks to Justin for clearing that up)
  3. www.Tauranga.com – No website, just ads
  4. www.Tauranga.tv – No website, just ads
  5. www.Tauranga.biz – Available
  6. www.Tauranga.info – Available
  7. www.Tauranga.cc – Available
  8. www.Tauranga.mobi – Available
  9. www.Tauranga.ws – Available

More People Play Farmville Than Are On Twitter? The Future of Gaming

Did you know the video game industry pulls in US$14 BILLION a year?

It’s huge.

And it will get bigger.

Questions addressed in this video:

  • Why are corny games like Farmville & Mafia Wars  so popular?
  • How do games like that generate millions of dollars in revenue when it’s free to play?
  • Does technology converge or diverge?
  • Why is the Ipad retarded?

While you watch the following 28 minute video, ask yourself “what can I learn from the psychology behind these successes to apply to my business?”

The First 4 Questions You Must Always Ask When Planning A New Website

  1. Who are the audience groups?
  2. What information do they want?
  3. What action do we want each audience group to take?
  4. How do we arrange the main navigation to give them access to that information and to take that action? (this is where we plan the sitemap)

Need More Help To Plan Your Website?

The task of planning a new website is one of my favourites, call me on (07) 575 8799 and we can brainstorm together.

– Sheldon.

1001 Ways To Make More Money As A Speaker, Consultant or Trainer by Lilly Walters

My notes on “1001 Ways To Make More Money As A Speaker, Consultant or Trainer” by Lilly Walters:51SDqSEjmEL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

    1. Have business cards sized versions of flyers. They are easier for prospects to keep (flyers get binned)
    2. Goals are dreams with a deadline. Set goals with deadlines today.
    3. Freebies: Add to the bottom of articles, a freebie that people will get if they contact you Eg “To obtain a free copy of “How to xyz”, just [state action here]”
    4. Presentations: Don’t include everything in your presentation handouts. Refer to an item eg “the 10 rules of…”, and ask audience members to pass their business cards up to get a copy, and invite them to write a big “S” on the back if they speaker for a future date

  1. Feedback surveys: Don’t provide a ratings scale, ask questions like:
    • What basic message did you hear that you could use tomorrow? (Purpose)
    • How will you use what you heard today increase your profits and/or productivity? (Practical application)
    • Is there something else about my subject that you would like to know that I did not have time to touch on in this presentation? (New topics)
    • Do you know of others (businesses, associations, etc) that would benefit from the material presented today? Who are they? (Referrals)
    • What is your opinion of my presentation?  (Testimonials – make sure there is a permission check box so you can use the comments)
  2. Discounting: When a client tells you “cut your fee on this talk, and when we might use you in a series”, reply “this programme will cost full price, but I will be glad to add a clause stating ‘If a series contract is signed within one year of this date $xyz will be deducted from the series price’”
  3. Press Releases: Ask “would your viewers like to learn how to…?” or “would your listeners like to know the answer to…?”. Or ask these questions in the follow up phone call
  4. Self Publishing: “The self-publishing manual” by Dan Poynter
  5. Let the market lead: “Find a problem, then look for a solution. Don’t develop a solution, then spend your life searching for a problem for it. Pull through an idea from the market place, don’t push it through from inception towards some intangible market” – Jack Ryan

List of Rental Cars Needing Relocation – How You Can Hire A Rental For Free

Rental Car companies are always needing to move their vehicles between branches around the country.

You can return one of these rental cars for them for free (sometimes the rental is free and you pay petrol, sometimes they give you 50% off the rental, sometimes it’s totally free)

If I’ve missed any on the following list, let me know in the comments below.

List of Rental Cars Needing Relocation

  1. www.Thrifty.co.nz
    Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Picton, Blenheim, Nelson, Christchurch, Dunedin, Invercargil, Greymouth
  2. www.QualityRental.co.nz
    Auckland, Wellington, Picton, Christchurch
  3. www.RoadTripRentals.co.nz
    Christchurch, Greymouth
  4. www.NZRentalCar.co.nz
    Christchurch, Greymouth, Wellington, Auckland, Queenstown
  5. www.OmegaRentalCars.co.nz
    Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Picton, Queenstown
  6. www.AceRentals.co.nz
    Auckland, Picton, Christchurch, Queenstown, Greymouth, Dunedin
  7. www.Maui.co.nz [Campervans]
    Join the database and they’ll email you when they need you
  8. www.Avis.co.nz
    Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Picton
  9. www.Budget.co.nz
    Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Picton, Queenstown
  10. www.RentalCar.co.nz
    Christchurch, Greymouth

Websites that list many rental cars from many brands needing relocation

If you are thinking of creating a aggregator website to list all rental cars needing returning from lots of different rental car companies, think again.  You won’t get rich.

There are only 2 in New Zealand, and one has been abandoned.

  1. www.TransferCar.co.nz
    Aggregates lots of rental car companies on one website. According to this 2008 article they had 300 a month, today there are 5, so it looks like business has slowed a bit.
  2. www.RelocationCarHire.co.nz
    Also suppose to aggregate lots of rental car companies but it’s been abandoned. Totally empty.

Need to go one way from the North Island to the South Island in a rental car? Bad luck

Did you know you can’t hire a rental car one-way across the inter island ferries?

For example, if you are traveling from the South Island to the North Island you have to leave your rental car in Picton, jump on the ferry with all your gear and pick up another rental car in Wellington! Stink.

It must be because carrying a car across on the ferry is so expensive, so most people would rather save the $400 and go on the ferry as foot traffic.

The 80 Best Guerrilla Marketing Ideas I’ve Ever Seen

Here is the first in this list:

I didn’t get it at first – but the “fleas” are people walking accross the foyer of an office building or mall, so this is the view for people looking down from the 3rd or 4th floor.

Pretty clever huh?

Here are 79 more: The 80 Best Guerrilla Marketing Ideas I’ve Ever Seen

I’d looooove to brainstorm with you and come up with clever ideas like this for your business. Call me today (07) 575 8799 or email me

– Sheldon.

Which one is your favourite?

Tell me in the comments below.

Have You Tried Guerilla Miniature Billboard Advertising?

Whilst driving to Mount Maunganui yesterday I spotted these tiny billboards strapped to street light polls and road signage opposite Mount Maunganui High School:

4 Lessons You Can Learn From These Guerilla Miniature Billboards

What can you learn from this clever “guerilla” method of advertising? Could you replicate this strategy for your business?

1. Do it cheap.

  • They are made of the core-flute just like real estate signs.
  • There is no graphics.
  • You could get them made for about $10 each.
  • Budget looking can be very effective. When you get junk mail in your letterbox at home do the crappy hand-written flyers get your attention first before the sleek professional Warehouse/Dick Smith/KFC flyers? For sure.

2. Keep your message simple.

  • Mountain bikers know what “MTB” means so this headline captures the target audiences attention.
  • On a full size 6m x 3m billboard your word limit is about 11. So in this case you have about 5 words.
  • What simple 4 or 5 word headline can you use to cut through to your target audience?

3. Choose a single call-to-action.

  • In this case, you just visit the website if the headline “MTB Downhill Racing” appeals to you.
  • The website address is related to the headline so it’s reasonably easy to remember.
  • On a website you can state 5 or 6 different ways to contact you, on a miniature billboard you must choose just one.
  • A website address is very good. A phone number could work but many people prefer to check you out anonymously via a website rather than call a number and get “sold to”.

4. Repeat your message.

  • Normally you don’t get the chance to repeat a standard 6m x 3m billboard 20 metres down the road, because it’ll double your costs.  So you are only giving your billboard one chance to be read as your potential customers zoom past at 50 kph or 100 kph.
  • In this case there were 3 miniature billboards about 20 metres apart.
  • I didn’t really notice the first, but I quickly read the second, and I read the third carefully.
  • It made an impression that a single exposure would not have.
  • In fact, I turned my car around and stopped on the side of the road, took some photos, wrote this article and visited www.mtbtauranga.co.nz.  That’s the magic of repetition.

“Great, but are these billboards legal?”

Probably not. The Tauranga City Council probably has a bylaw which prohibits this sort of guerilla advertising, and other councils around the country do too I bet.

If they get a complaint from the public (or your competition!), the council will take them down for sure (you probably won’t even get fined!).

But until then, you’ve got yourself some very cheap and effective advertising, so go for it!

Like this idea?

I have a million more.  Give me a call on (07) 575 8799 to tell me about your business and we can think up some clever ideas about how to generate more sales for you. At the very least sign up to this blog using the form on the right!

– Sheldon.

64 Ways to Advertise: Advertising You Can Try Next

advertising-to-try-icons
With so many options, where do you start?

Just need a list of advertising to try for your business?

Cinema Advertising

1. Pre-movie Advertisements
2. In-Movie Product Placement

TV Advertising

3. 15/30 second Television Advertisements
4. Infomercials
5. TV Programme Sponsorship
6. Television Interviews

Newspaper Advertising

7. Regional Community Newspaper – freely distributed
8. Regional Daily Newspaper
9. National Daily Newspaper

Radio Advertising

10. 15/30 second Radio Advertisements
11. Radio Interviews

Outdoor Advertising

12. Billboards
13. Video Billboard
14. Bus shelters
15. Bus backs
16. Truck sides
17. Car signage
18. Outdoor signage on your building
19. Miniature Billboards: Core-flute signage stabbed into grass verges
20. Posters around town
21. Free standing displays in shopping malls
22. Hot air balloons / blimps
23. Paint a sports field with your logo
24. Burn your logo onto the side of a mountain (check with the local council for permission first)

Mail

25. Direct Mail / Addressed Mail
26. Un-addressed PO Box Mail Drop – Flyers/Postcards
27. Un-addressed Residential Mail Drop – Flyers/Postcards

One-On-One

28. In-person cold calling (unannounced)
29. Telemarketing
30. Participate in Networking groups (eg Chamber of Commerce, BNI)

Online Advertising

31. Text Ads (eg Google Adwords)
32. Display advertising (banner, skyscraper, video, applications/software eg msn messenger)
33. Organic Search Engine Optimisation
34. Email Marketing / Newsletters
35. SPAM
36. Online Directories (eg YellowPages online and country-wide business directories)
37. White papers / e-books
38. Blogging
39. Social Networking sites (eg Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest)
40. Contribute to Special interest forums (eg Google Groups)

Magazine Advertising

41. Gossip style Magazines (eg Woman’s Day)
42. Industry Specific Magazines (eg Needles and Pins weekly)

Printed Directories

43. YellowPages
44. Local Directory

Website

45. Your website
43. Campaign specific mini-websites

Sponsorship

46. Sponsor a sports teams T-shirts
47. Sponsor a community event or non-profit organisation

Branded Objects

48. Branded Pens, Coffee cups, T-shirts, bags, clocks etc

Public Demonstrations

49. Set up in shopping malls (or in the supermarket)

Guerrilla Advertising / Alternative Advertising / Stealth Marketing

50. PR stunts
51. Word of mouth
52. Viral (video, email, postcards, CD’s)
53. Legal graphitti
54. Chalk on the sidewalk
55. Logos in the snow/sand
56. Flyers under car windscreen wipers
57. Video projection onto side of building
58. Night-time shop window video or laser light show
59. Sponsored humans (to tattoo your brand on their forehead, or, a not quite as exciting, wear a branded t-shirt)

SMS text messaging

60. SMS text messaging

Public Relations

61. Distribute press releases (for print & online publication)
62. Or Contact Journalists/Reporters directly with something newsworthy

Trade shows & Expos

63. Exhibiting at Trade shows and Expos

Seminars

64. Seminars

Have I Missed Any?

Please add them to the comments below.

Q: “Where do I start?”

Don’t know where to start?

I can help.

Find out more about my marketing services and pricing or call me on 021 128 5046.

Cheers,

Sheldon Nesdale
Mobile: 021 128 5046
Phone: (07) 575 8799
Email: sheldon@marketingfirst.co.nz

Marketing First 2009 Ltd
64b Devonport Rd, Tauranga 3110, New Zealand

Linkedin – http://www.linkedin.com/in/sheldonnesdale

 

New Features From FeedMyInbox – More Than Just Converting RSS (News Feeds) Into Emails

Do any of the following apply to you?

  1. Have you heard about RSS but can’t really be bothered with it?
  2. Do you have a few favourite blogs or news sites, but it’s up to you to remember to check them for new content?
  3. Do you have a News Feed (RSS) Reader like Google Reader but it’s a pain keeping up with it?
  4. Are there newsletters you’d like to sign up for but you don’t like giving away your email address?

If you answered “YES!” to either of those, then I have good news.

First, a quick definition of RSS:  It stands for “Real Simple Syndication”, and it just converts blog articles and news articles into a file format (XML) that can be understood and distributed using any RSS reader.

4 Reasons Why I Use The FeedMyInbox Method For Converting RSS Into Email

  1. I can keep up to date with the latest content of 50+ blogs effortlessly
  2. If I’m one of the first to comment on these blogs, hundreds of people will read my comment and that is good branding for me (and they have a link back to my website in my comment)
  3. I can avoid getting distracted by filtering these messages automatically into a folder that I can look in when I’ve finished with the task at hand
  4. If I get sick of a blog, I can unsubscribe with one click. Simple. Clean. Efficient. (And I never have to email the author “please take me off your list”!)

A few months ago I wrote about www.FeedMyInbox.com: How to receive News Feeds (RSS) via email

Well, they have just added more features.

How FeedMyInbox Worked Last Year

Last year you could simply:

  1. Paste in the feed url of the website you want to subscribe to
  2. Type in your email address

And you would start recieving those feeds as emails.

Easy.

New Features Added To FeedMyInbox This Year

With an account, now you can:

  1. Customise the subject line of incoming emails (really handy, because most bloggers don’t name their blogs very well)
  2. Opt to receive those feeds in real-time, or choose another time of day you’d like to receive them (I like to have them in real time so the freshest are always on top)
  3. Opt to receive the entire article in the feed as an email, or just the title and a hyperlink
  4. Download a “Bookmarklet” to your web browser, so subscribing to a new feed is only 1 click away

They are offering a free trial of up to 5 feeds (I’d like to see them extend this to 10 so people get a chance to get addicted).

Give it a try yourself, see the “Get Notified By Email About New Articles” widget on the right of this page? Just add your email address there and you’ll get notification about new articles on this blog.

Email Newsletters: 10 Tips For Designing & Building Your Email Newsletters

Great advice from Smashing Magazine about how to design and build your email newsletters:

  1. Respect your reader. Don’t waste their time or attention.
  2. Ask nicely first.
  3. Focus on relevance.
  4. Design with a goal in mind, so that you’ll know if it worked.
  5. Make unsubscribing easy.
  6. Code like it’s 1999 (literally) and use inline CSS.
  7. Always include a plain text version.
  8. Don’t assume that images will be viewed.
  9. Follow the law.
  10. Test everything before sending, because you can’t take it back.

Read the entire article: Design and Build Email Newsletters Without Losing Your Mind (and Soul)

Is PayPal The Easiest, Cheapest Way For Your Non-NZ Customers To Pay You Into Your New Zealand Bank Account?

I’m hoping that this article will save you the 45 minutes of research I just had to do.

  • Do you have clients or customers based outside of New Zealand?
  • Do you want to know the easiest, cheapest way for those non-NZ customers to pay you into your New Zealand bank account?

That’s exactly what I wanted to find out.

I found many options, most of which I’d never heard of.  But one brand kept coming up again and again: PayPal.

I found lots of criticisms, but it is probably the #1 payment service in the world, so let’s just go with that.

But I’m worried my profit will be whittled away with fees.

My next mission was to find out what fees will I be charged:

  1. For the transaction?
  2. For currency conversion from US dollars to NZ dollars?
  3. For withdrawing the funds from my PayPal account into my New Zealand bank account?
  4. For receiving the funds into my New Zealand bank account? Will my NZ bank charge me?

You’d think I’d easily find the answers to these questions on PayPal’s website. Sadly, no, that is not the case.

1. What fees will I be charged for the transaction?

  • 3.4% + $0.30 USD

Source: PayPal Website

2. What fees will I be charged for currency conversion from US dollars to NZ dollars?

  • 2.5%

Source: PayPal Website

3. What fees will I be charged for withdrawing the funds from my PayPal account into my New Zealand bank account?

  • $1.00 for amounts below NZ$150
  • Free for amounts above NZ$150

Source: Helium.com

4. What fees will my bank charge me for receiving the funds into my New Zealand bank account?

  • Zero. (I’m guessing. If I’m wrong, please correct me in the comments below)
  • But it can take 6 – 8 days to arrive

Example #1: US$100 transaction

  1. Transaction Fee: 3.4% x US$100 = US$3.40 + US$0.30
  2. Currency Conversion: 2.5 % x US$100 = US$2.50
  3. Withdrawal Fee: US$1.00 because US$100 = NZ$135 which is below the NZ$150 threshold
  4. Total PayPal Fees: US$7.20 = NZ$9.80 (which is a whopping 10% of the clients invoice!)

Example #2: US$200 transaction

  1. Transaction Fee: 3.4% x US$200 = US$6.80 + US$0.30
  2. Currency Conversion: 2.5 % x US$200 = US$5.00
  3. Withdrawal Fee: Free because US$200 = NZ$270 which is over the NZ$150 threshold
  4. Total PayPal Fees: US$12.10 = NZ$16.47 (which is 8.2% of the clients invoice)

Here’s a cool world currency calculator if you want to do your own calculations.

Recommendations:

  • Wait until you have more than NZ$150 in your PayPal account before you withdraw the funds into your New Zealand bank account

Difference Between Unique Visitors, Visitors, Visits, Page Views, Hits. And Why You Should Care

First, the definitions:

  • Unique Visitors – The number of individuals who have visited your website. But, if a person on a dial-up connection disconnects and reconnects, they will be assigned a different IP address and therefore be counted as another unique visitor if they return to your website.
  • Visits or Visitors – The number of visits to your website. A single unique visitor could be responsible for many if about an hour passes between them taking action (eg they leave your website open on a tab in their browser and forget about it until they click on it an hour later).
  • Page Views – The number of web pages your website serves. So a single visitor may go back to your home page several times, or refresh a page, each instance counts as another page view.
  • Hits – The number of files your website serves. Every time your CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) loads, every time each image on your website loads, each time your php or html files load, all these count as 1 hit. So if a website has a lot of these items on its home page, a single page view of that home page may generate 40 hits. And if a website has very few items, a single view may only generate 20 hits.

Why should you care?

You should care because the method that you choose to measure your websites success is important.

You should care because there is a lot of confusion out there about which one to use, and especially when selling advertising space people will brag about how many “hits” they get, so now you know to ask them “what about unique visitors, or page views?”

Which one should you use? Unique Visitors? Visits? Visitors? Page Views? Hits?

Unique Visitors.

  • Hits is no good because you could double it overnight just by adding a few images.
  • Page Views is no good because you could have pages that need lots of refreshing (F5 on your keyboard).
  • Vists/Visitors is ok, but if one particular person comes back several times in one day because they keep getting interrupted, you really only want to count them once.
  • Unique Visitors is the best choice (and most webstats software reports that statistic accurately)

So the next time someone says to you “my website is so cool, I get 1000 hits a day”, you can say, “Whatever! I could put 100 tiny images on my pages and generate 1000 hits an hour! How many Unique Visitors do you get a day? That’s the only number that really matters!”.

And then they say “Wow, I’ve been such a dumb arse, how did you get so smart?”, and then you say “I learnt about it at Sheldon Nesdale at Firstbyte Websites in Tauranga, New Zealand, you should get his help with your website, he’s so skilled and very handsome!”.

Has Telecom New Zealand Finally Got Their Shit Together? Perhaps So.

Everyone likes to beat-up the big brands.

They are an easy target.

There is always something to complain about.

And its comforting that your complaint is just one of many because you know there are hundreds or thousands of customers who feel the same way you do.

You don’t expect to get an official response. You just want to get your feelings off your chest.

Telecom NZ is one of those brands.

You hate Telecom.

I hate Telecom.

Everyone hates Telecom.

Don’t you just dread the prospect of being forced to give them a call to report a fault, or deal with a billing issue, or set up a new service, or anything?

For the next couple of days you probably tell everyone you meet about how an hour or two of your precious time was wasted on hold to Telecom’s call centre in India/Phillipines for an issue that should take 2 minutes to fix (or should never have occured in the first place).

You are not alone. I’m just like you.

So when Vodafone started offering home lines a few years ago I switched over. It felt good to support the underdog.

It’s been 3 years now since I’ve had to deal with Telecom.  But last week I switched back because I had heard good things about Telecoms new broadband plan “Big Time“, and I was tired of my broadband provider Xnet.

I watched Telecom change their logo a few months ago, and noticed they have updated their website too, but I thought that was the end of it – just cosmetic changes, nothing too serious.

But I was wrong.

They have upgraded their service too.

Here’s my experience over the last 10 days:

Contact #1:

  • Called to signup with Telecom.
  • They took my account numbers for Vodafone and Xnet (my broadband provider at the time), and promised to close those accounts for me.
  • We chose a switchover date of 31 Dec 09 to avoid any double billing.  [WIN!]
  • I demanded that the connection fee be waived. They agreed. [WIN!]

Contact #2:

  • On the 4th of January, after 4 days of smooth operation, there hadn’t been any improvement with my broadband speed (0.7Mbit/sec). I was disappointed. This was the primary reason I changed.  I called the Telecom help desk.
  • My call went through to the Phillipines which worried me. I gritted my teeth. But the lady on the other end of the phone knew her shit inside-out!  [WIN!]
  • She ran through some tests including a check on the distance to the nearest Telecom exchange, and among other things, suggested I turn off my modem for 60 seconds. By the end of the call my download speed had increased 50% (to 1.5Mbit/sec).  [WIN!]
  • She also detected that my modem was only ADSL, not ADSL2, so she suggested that was another reason for slow speeds.  She asked if I had received my free modem from Telecom yet. I had not, so she transferred me to dispatch in New Zealand and stayed on the line to introduce us “Sheldon, I’ll now have Frank on the line ‘Hi Sheldon!’, he’ll take you through the next steps”. [WIN!]
  • Frank said the modem hadn’t been sent out yet (perhaps with all the public holidays over the last few days), but he’d send it out now and it should arrive either next day or the following day.  It arrived this morning at 7am – just 14 hours after the phone call [WIN!]

Contact #3:

  • I plugged in the new modem (Thomson SpeedTouch ST536v6) and it installed itself (no installation CD required). The download speed is 6 times faster than my old modem (4MBit/sec). [WIN!]
  • But I wanted to set a password on the modem to reduce the chance of it getting hacked. I couldn’t find the IP address to get access to the Control Panel anywhere! Spent 60 minutes searching online before I finally found it on page 135 of the manual for the modem on the official website [FAIL!]
  • I was pretty annoyed and thought I better complain. I decided to try Telecom NZ’s Twitter account @TelecomNZ (which had auto-followed me when I mentioned the word “Telecom” in a tweet yesterday).
  • Jennie replied to my tweet within 4 minutes. I told her a few more details in another tweet and she promised to look into it [WIN!]
  • I just wanted to save the next person some trouble, but even just having my complaint acknowledged is huge. [WIN!]

So far so good.

Have you had a pleasant experience with Telecom since the rebrand?

I’d like to hear it. Share your story below.

A Successful Business Owner Told Me “No I Don’t Have A Website, In Fact I Don’t Do Any Advertising”

Earlier this week I needed to find a catery for my cat because we are going away for a few days in January.  A friend of mine is a vet and she recommended both Te Puna Cat Resort, and Top Katz Boarding Cattery (also in Te Puna).

I searched Google for each, and both times the Finda business directory delivered their phone numbers.  Neither business seemed to have a website of their own.

I called Te Puna Cat Resort first and because my call was outside normal hours (it is not unusual for catteries to operate only between 8am and 10am, and 4pm to 6pm), I left a message (which they still haven’t returned, now 3 days later).

I called Top Katz next and Kathy, the owner, answered. I told her the dates I needed and she said she had to go and check her appointment book in her office and would call back in 5 minutes. She called back in 3.  She did have room. I asked if she had a website (in the hope that I could build a website for her) she said:

“no, I don’t have a website, in fact I don’t do any advertising at all, and I’m always full.  I have clients who drive down from Auckland (more than a 2 hour drive each way) to drop off their cat, and then return to Auckland to fly out for their holiday.  This business started as a hobby for me and now it’s full time for me plus I had to get my husband to quit his job so he could help too.”

Wow.

(I booked on the spot. I didn’t want my cat to miss out on this experience)

  • Imagine having so many regular clients you have to turn most new clients away.
  • Imagine having the freedom to choose how busy you want to be, how much business you want to handle
  • Imagine being so sort after that your clients feel like they are in an exclusive club that’s not taking on new members

You must be thinking: “Top Katz must be expensive”.

Nope.

$10 a night.

The same price or cheaper than other catteries.

I have some ideas about how you can build your business into a customer magnet like this. Call me on (07) 575 8799, or email me.

– Sheldon.

Want Free Media Exposure? What The News Media Values & How You Can Get Your Business In The News

Yes, you can buy air time for your TV ads or radio ads.

Yes, you can buy space for your newspaper ads.

But you can also get mentioned in all of these media for free if you can create a newsworthy story.

The first step is to ask the question “What do news editors look for in a news story?”

Step 1: What Do News Editors Look For In A News Story?

Source: “News Values”, Wikipedia

  • Frequency: Events that occur suddenly and fit well with the news organization’s schedule are more likely to be reported than those that occur gradually or at inconvenient times of day or night. Long-term trends are not likely to receive much coverage.
  • Negativity: Bad news is more newsworthy than good news.
  • Unexpectedness: If an event is out of the ordinary it will have a greater effect than something that is an everyday occurrence.
  • Unambiguity: Events whose implications are clear make for better copy than those that are open to more than one interpretation, or where any understanding of the implications depends on first understanding the complex background in which the events take place.
  • Personalisation: Events that can be portrayed as the actions of individuals will be more attractive than one in which there is no such “human interest.”
  • Meaningfulness: This relates to the sense of identification the audience has with the topic. “Cultural proximity” is a factor here — stories concerned with people who speak the same language, look the same, and share the preoccupations as the audience receive more coverage than those concerned with people who speak different languages, look different and have different preoccupations.
  • Reference to elite nations: Stories concerned with global powers receive more attention than those concerned with less influential nations.
  • Reference to elite persons: Stories concerned with the rich, powerful, famous and infamous get more coverage.
  • Conflict: Opposition of people or forces resulting in a dramatic effect. Stories with conflict are often quite newsworthy.
  • Consonance: Stories that fit with the media’s expectations receive more coverage than those that defy them (and for which they are thus unprepared). Note this appears to conflict with unexpectedness above. However, consonance really refers to the media’s readiness to report an item.
  • Continuity: A story that is already in the news gathers a kind of inertia. This is partly because the media organizations are already in place to report the story, and partly because previous reportage may have made the story more accessible to the public (making it less ambiguous).
  • Composition: Stories must compete with one another for space in the media. For instance, editors may seek to provide a balance of different types of coverage, so that if there is an excess of foreign news for instance, the least important foreign story may have to make way for an item concerned with the domestic news. In this way the prominence given to a story depends not only on its own news values but also on those of competing stories. (Galtung and Ruge, 1965)
  • Competition: Commercial or professional competition between media may lead journalists to endorse the news value given to a story by a rival.
  • Co-optation: A story that is only marginally newsworthy in its own right may be covered if it is related to a major running story.
  • Prefabrication: A story that is marginal in news terms but written and available may be selected ahead of a much more newsworthy story that must be researched and written from the ground up.
  • Predictability: An event is more likely to be covered if it has been pre-scheduled. (Bell, 1991)
  • Time constraints: Traditional news media such as radio, television and daily newspapers have strict deadlines and a short production cycle, which selects for items that can be researched and covered quickly.
  • Logistics: Although eased by the availability of global communications even from remote regions, the ability to deploy and control production and reporting staff, and functionality of technical resources can determine whether a story is covered. (Schlesinger, 1987)

– Retrieved from Wikipedia 24 December 2009

Step 2: Which Of These Newsworthy Indicators Can You Influence?

Many of the news values listed above are out of your control, but some are within your control.

An example is Prefabrication. If your Press Release is written so well the editor barely needs to modify it, they may be able to fill a space when one becomes available.

Need help to get free media exposure for your business?

I’m here for you. Call (07) 575 8799

– Sheldon.

Contacting a WebSite Owner Via Email? An Easy Way to Get Your Email Message Noticed

I’ve just made a discovery that I’d like to share with you.

Firstly, I’m a big fan of email.

5 Reasons Why Email is my Preferred Method of Communication:

  1. It provides me with a permanent record of what was said to who and when
  2. It’s more reliable than my memory for recording facts
  3. It doesn’t interrupt the person I’m sending it to, they can read it in their own time
  4. I can write it at my leisure and send it off anytime day or night when it’s ready
  5. It’s free

But the biggest disadvantage is:

Incoming emails are easy to ignore.

And it’s even easier not take the action that the email message asks for eg “email me back if this of interest to you”.

How often has your response been “Nope! Delete!”?

How to Get Your Email Message Noticed:

If you are contacting a website owner for whatever reason (at the moment I’m contacting a bunch of American website to ask for advertising space), here’s a trick that will get your email message noticed:

If you see something broken on their website, mention it in the email.

Even better, write a second email 5 minutes after the first (forwarding your first email so it’s attached to the bottom), and mention the bug then.

Just about every website has something broken like a spelling mistake or a link that doesn’t work.  The website owners are always keen to hear from someone that took the time to notify them of the bug.

For Extra Impact:

Pick up the phone and call the person you sent the message to (only costs 4c per minute anywhere in the world with a calling card such as Kiaora Card).

You could say “hi, just wanted to check that you received my email, my email system has been acting strangely lately”.

That’s the way to get noticed.

Need More Help?

If you own a small to medium sized business in Tauranga, I love to help you improve your sales, marketing and advertising. Call: (07) 575 8799 or email me.

– Sheldon.

How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer

My notes on “How We Decide” by Jonah Lehrer:télécharger (3)

Which of the following 2 sentences of praise encourages kids to challenge themselves?

  1. “You must be smart at this” (intelligence)
  2. “You must have worked really hard” (effort)

The research revealed that the kids praised for their intelligence chose a puzzle of equal difficulty. Of the kids praised for their effort 90% chose a more difficult puzzle.  When praising intelligence, the kids hear “look smart, don’t risk making mistakes”. The fear of failure actually inhibits learning. Continue reading “How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer”

Generating Revenue By Subscription – Free To Start With And Then Start Charging? Does It Work?

Are you tempted to start charging for access to your website?

Maybe it’s a blog, maybe it’s news, maybe its whitepapers in your area of expertise.

If the revenue model for your website is by subscription you have 3 primary choices:

  1. Free content
    • You ask for email addresses, but you don’t demand them for access
    • The incentive for providing the email address could be a weekly digest of new content, special offers/promotions etc, and a sense of belonging to a club
    • Advertising would be necessary to cover costs
  2. “Freemium” content
    • Most of the content is free but access to certain articles (perhaps the archive) is accessible only with a Premium subscription
    • Example: NZ’s Consumer Magazine (some articles are free, most reports are behind the PayWall)
  3. The “PayWall”
    • Erect a paywall right from the start. If visitors want to see your content, they have to pay
    • Example: NZ’s National Business Review

The question is: Can you use the “Free” model to generate a huge database of subscribers and transition them to “Freemium” or “PayWall”?

This is of course what many newspapers are trying to do with their news websites, but I don’t care about them, I care about you – could it work for your website?

I don’t envy you if you are facing that decision right now. When deciding when to flip the switch you must to worried that you’ll cut off your growth rate.

Have you been on the receiving end of one of these changes? Your favourite website suddenly flips the switch and demands you pay them for access?  Did you start paying or did you search and find that info from another source?

Meet Your Local Cybersquatter: Dave Burghardt Who Owns TaurangaAirport.co.nz and Tauranga-Airport.co.nz

Screenshot of the abomination that is TaurangaAirport.co.nz

I was looking for flights from Tauranga to Dunedin yesterday, I searched for “Tauranga Airport” and came across www.TaurangaAirport.co.nz.

It is a hideous 1 page website that talked about car rental. Not what I was expecting at all!

I was suspicious so dug a little deeper using a “whois lookup” to find out who the owner was.

Sure enough, it’s not owned by the Tauranga Airport, but by a guy called Dave Burghardt:

REGISTRANT
Name      : dave burghardt
Address   : PO Box 2397
City      : Tauranga
Post code : 3015
Country   : NZ (NEW ZEALAND)
Phone     : +64 7 5784210
E-mail    : burghardt@xtra.co.nz

(If you are ever curious about who owns a domain name, use a whois lookup such as: www.dnc.org.nz)

I dug deeper still and found a complaint made by Auckland Airport against this guy in 2008 for owning Auckland-Airport.co.nz (note the dash: “-“) which pointed to yet another car rental business owned by Dave Burghardt. Oddly, the complaint fell through which means that the Domain Name Commissioner of New Zealand did not order that the ownership of the domain be transfered to Auckland International Airport Ltd.

Today, the domain name Auckland-Airport.co.nz is owned by Auckland International Airport Ltd therefore it looks like that Dave got the big bucks when they bought it from him.

So it got me thinking, “I wonder if Dave owned AucklandAirport.co.nz too?” (without the dash)

Using the “WayBack Machine“, I found the answer to my question, here’s what AucklandAirport.co.nz looked like in February 2008:

screenshot-of-aucklandairport.co.nz

Look familiar?

Yep, that’s Dave’s handiwork alright.

So it looks like Dave got paid the big bucks for selling Auckland-Airport.co.nz and AucklandAirport.co.nz to Auckland International Airport Limited!

I bet Dave is hoping for a repeat of that outcome by selling TaurangaAirport.co.nz and Tauranga-Airport.co.nz to Tauranga Airport Ltd, which is owned by the Tauranga City Council.

Half of me congratulates the guy for his entrepreneurial spirit, the other half of me curses him for being a dirty squatter who confuses people (because people are searching for information about Tauranga Airport and find his hideous website instead).

What do you think?

Another issue is – why are New Zealand airport’s so slow to get into the 21st century and get a website for themselves?

I still can’t find an official website for Tauranga Airport.

The Most Direct Direct Mail I’ve Ever Directed

The Story

The client owns a website that lists all the 100+ thermal hot pools around New Zealand. They wanted to upgrade the 36 commercial hot pools from the free listing (every hot pools was entitled to one of these), to the Premium listing which provided greater detail and made the hot pool more attractive to prospective customers.

The first step was to call all 36 commercial hot pools around the country to:

  1. Determine who the decision maker was
  2. To confirm contact details
  3. To tell them to expect the letter in the mail soon

All the letters were sent out at once, and the following week follow-up calls were made to close the sale.

Download Direct Mail Sample (43Kb .pdf)The Solution

I wrote a 11 page document (3000 words) with the following features:

  1. Attention grabbing image on 1st page: “Imagine this sign out on your driveway: We’re Sorry, due to unprecedented demand, “name-of-their-pool” is full to overflowing. Please try again tomorrow.”
  2. Highly personalised: 43 instances of personalisation including their first name mentioned 16 times!
  3. Sent in an A4 envelope (flat) but with handwritten address so it looked official and important
  4. Content that told an compelling story that focused on what the hot pool owner gets out of the deal
  5. A limited time offer: “Respond before 5pm Friday”, + a limited number of customers “Only 10 positions available”
  6. 3 packages to choose from with ascending prices and value

The Result

  • 9 of the 10 available spots were filled

Old News is Bad News – Is The “Latest News” On Your Website Ancient?

Have you ever heard this from a web developer?

  1. “You need a news page so you can keep your content fresh.  Google and users love fresh content!”
  2. “You need a blog, because Google loves blogs and you’ll look professional to users too!”
  3. “You need to get on Twitter, Facebook and Linked-In, because social media is hot right now!”

Think twice before you give your web developer the green light to build these modules for you.

Because they can make you look bad, and damage your brand

Why having a news page, blog, and Twitter/Facebook/Linked-In profiles can make you look bad:

  1. You’ll never get around to updating them, because you’re too busy running your business
  2. The older your latest news/blog post gets, the more it looks like your website has been abandoned
  3. The older your latest Twitter message or Facebook update or Linked-In update gets, the more it looks like you don’t care
  4. If you look careless with your news, visitors will suspect that your other content is equally out of date

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. When I see the 2007 date I immediately lose confidence in the brand.  Is it the same for you?

Ready, Fire, Aim by Michael Masterson

My Notes on “Ready, Fire, Aim” by Michael Masterson:41XjfgOsASL._SX317_BO1,204,203,200_

When Launching A New Business, What Should Consume Your Time?

  • In launching new businesses, many entrepreneurs do the opposite of spending 80% of their time of their time on selling.
  • They spend most of their time, attention, energy and capital on things such as setting up an office, designing logos, printing business cards, filing forms, writing contracts, and refining the product.

  • They have the impression that they are doing things in a logical order – getting everything just right before they open their doors.
  • In fact, they are wasting valuable resources on secondary and tertiary endeavours.
  • It is enough to have the product and customer service just okay at the outset. Perfecting them can be done a little later, after you have gotten feedback from your customers.
  • Sell as soon as you can – if possible before you have spent a lot of time and money making it perfect.

Continue reading “Ready, Fire, Aim by Michael Masterson”

If The Business Model Works, Clone It

The single most visited webpage on this blog is my article about “One Day Sale” Websites.

It gets 700 unique visitors a day (growing by 5% every week) and is #2 on Google.co.nz for the search for “one day deal“.

Why is the webpage so popular? For 3 reasons:

  1. Because people are getting tired of the market leader: 1-day.co.nz and are looking for alternatives
  2. Because my webpage lists all the alternatives
  3. Because the 1 day deal business model works so well, so clones are popping up all the time to try and cash-in, so the list of alternatives grows every month

I have just been exposed to what I believe will be the next business model to be cloned. It’s called “BidRivals“.

A $2800 digital camera sells for $331.85

Here’s how Bid Rivals works:

  • It costs $1 to place a bid. The price increases by 2c each time someone bids
  • If no-one else makes a bid within 14 seconds, the auction is over. If someone does make a bid the auction extends for another 14 seconds
  • If a $2000 digital camera sells for $300, BidRivals gets $15,000 for the bids ($300 / 0.02 x $1), and $300 for the camera!!
    • I just watched this happen. Screenshot on right
  • And the lucky last bidder gets a $2000 camera for $300 (+ $1 for every bid they placed)

Bid Rivals only loses money if the item sells for less than 1/50th of it’s RRP.

In this example, the $2800 camera would have to sell for $56 ($2800 / 50) for Bid Rivals to break even.

There are 3 barriers to this business model going mainstream and being cloned extensively:

  1. It hasn’t got a name.
  2. It is difficult to explain how it works.
  3. People who try it and burn through $20 making 20 bids and get nothing to show for it, will leave and never come back

Have you tried it? Did you snag a bargain?

Let us know in the comments below.

Essential Steps for Building a Website That Generates Business For You

8 Essential Steps:

  1. Define the most important action that you want the audience to take. Is it filling in an enquiry form? Call your toll free number? Download an information pack?
  2. Make it dead easy for them to take that action. 1 click or 2 clicks. Not 5 clicks
  3. Make your forms super short. Ask for essential information only. Not their age, not their gender, not even their address (if you aren’t posting them something, don’t ask for it). And it doesn’t matter if some of your form field aren’t compulsory, if it looks too long it will turn people away
  4. Ensure your code is search engine friendly:
    • Clean urls like “this-is-a-page-about-how-to-do-stuff.html” rather than “index.php?ss=2&s=abc”
    • Clean html code, eg use H1, H2, H3 tags instead of heavily formatted paragraph tags
  5. A stripped down CMS for commonly updated content (like blog entries, articles, products). Lock down other pages so you’re not tempted to wreck them with crazy fonts and colours
  6. Write for the web” by formatting all your content with headings, sub-headings, short paragraphs (none more than 3 sentences), bullet points, numbered lists, and internal hyperlinks
  7. Follow usability guidelines, such as:
    • Hyperlinks that look link hyperlinks. Buttons that look like buttons
    • Breadcrumbs so when the users deep-link they can quickly figure out where they are
    • Disable the hyperlink in the navigation if the user is already on that page
    • And just about everything else website usability guru Jacob Nielsen recommends
  8. Choose a web site developer who knows about all this stuff

Other Important Things

  1. Ensure all your navigation is in one place (preferably displayed vertically on the left so it can scale as your website grows)
  2. Don’t have any animation or moving images at all. It distracts the user from completing their task

How To Write For The Web

Writing for the web is pretty simple on the surface, but the switch from writing for print to writing for the web is a difficult one for many people.

Here are some writing-for-the-web techniques to get you started:

1. Use long descriptive headlines, sub headings and sub-sub headings

  • People commonly skim read web content very quickly, and they are attracted to headlines to get the gist of the pages content

2. Use bullet points and numbered lists

  • Short, punchy bullet points are easy to digest, and divides content into easily managed chunks
  • There is nothing more boring to a user than a long paragraph of text, it screams “I’m too long to read!”

3. Use very short paragraphs

  • 1 sentence paragraphs on the web are fine (they are frowned upon in print)
  • 2 sentence, and 3 sentence paragraphs are good
  • 4 or more sentences in a paragraph is no good

4. Use internal hyperlinks

  • If you have another webpage that explains a phrase or idea in more detail, link to it
  • It’s good for the user because they know where they can go next, and its good for search engines

5. Use occasional bolding and italics to emphasise

  • But don’t over do it!

“Everyone is Clueless” – Article by Seth Godin

Particularly enjoyed this blog article by Seth Godin entitled “Everyone is clueless“:

The problem with “everyone” is that in order to reach everyone or teach everyone or sell to everyone, you need to so water down what you’ve got you end up with almost nothing.

Everyone doesn’t go to the chiropractor, everyone doesn’t give to charity, everyone has never been to Starbucks. Everyone, in fact, lives a decade behind the times and needs hundreds of impressions and lots of direct experience before they realize something is going on.

You don’t want everyone. You want the right someone.

Someone who cares about what you do. Someone who will make a contribution that matters. Someone who will spread the word.

As soon as you start focusing on finding the right someone, things get better, fast. That’s because you can ignore everyone and settle in and focus on the people you actually want.

Here’s a video that David sent over. I am thrilled at how much this guy loves his job, and I’m inspired by his story of how he turned down Pepsi as a vendor. He turned them down. But everyone wants Pepsi! Exactly. Once he decided he wanted someone, not everyone, his life got a lot better.

How I Almost Got Fired Because My Direct Mail Worked Too Well

The Story

A recruitment company I was working for wanted to reach out to Human Resources managers to tell them about their online recruitment solution.

We had purchased a list of 560 HR manager names and addresses from Veda Advantage, and needed a letter that would “cut through the clutter”, because this would be the first time that any of these people would have been exposed to our brand.

We were also conscious that this group of people are very busy, and probably suffering from information overload, so anything that wasn’t personalised or interesting would be thrown in the trash immediately.

The Objective

  • To write a letter to “cut through the clutter” and gets to the decision makers desk

The Solution

I wrote a 2 page document (660 words) with the following features:

  1. Attention grabing headline: “Internal Memo: Re: Congratulations to <<recipients first name>> who just got a huge payrise!”
  2. Highly personalised: 39 instances of personalisation including their first name mentioned 21 times!
  3. Easy and fast for admin to stuff envelopes: Name and Address positioned to fit a pre-paid window envelope so no cheap-and-nasty looking self-adhesive address labels were required
  4. Designed for low-cost in-house printing: Using simple colours and classic letter design
  5. Content that told an interesting story (it was all about the recipient after all!)

The Result:

3 phone calls from some very angry executives. They complained that their secretaries had passed these letters directly to them to read because they hadn’t realised it was advertising.

(Secretaries are well trained to ensure promotional material of this type doesn’t make it to their bosses in-tray, so it is no surprise that the executives were very annoyed that their system had failed on this occassion, and were blaming us for being too clever.)

1 stated that they had “black listed” us and would never use our services. And another threatened to get their lawyers involved! (Thankfully, they didn’t carry out their threat).

Wow…

My boss wasn’t very happy, and had to make several apologies to these companies.

And I thought I was in danger of getting fired for a while.

But at the end of the day, the campaign achieved its objective: Get the attention of these time-starved professionals, and give our product a chance.

So I thought it was a huge success!

If your product or service doesn’t get noticed at all, you’ve got no chance. After all, as Oscar Wilde said: “There is only one thing worse than being talked about and that is NOT being talked about.”

And for the record, we did get lots of positive feedback saying from other HR pro’s, saying that they appreciated the cleverness of the campaign (and yeah, it generated new business for us too).

Why Is Harvey Norman Stuck In The 1990’s?

Yes, yes, Harvey Norman does sell the latest technology: Plasma TVs, Laptops, Macbooks, Printers, Digital Cameras etc (at awesome prices), but why oh why do they contradict this image with the following:

  1. Dot matrix printers for printing out your receipt
  2. A 1990’s website
    • With a “splash” page (the home page just has a big photo and link to the rest of the website)
    • The navigation is located in 4 different locations (very hard to figure out where you are. Totally unintuitive)
    • No open hours (forces you to pick up the phone and ask – that is so 1990’s!)
    • No E-commerce (unlike ALL of their competitors: Dick Smith Electronics, Noel Leemings, Bond and Bond)
  3. No social networking activity at all
    • No Facebook page
    • No Twitter account
    • No Linked-in profile

Perhaps Harvey Norman has people in the marketing department (either here in New Zealand or in head office in Australia) fighting for these changes, but because it is a private company run by an old fuddy-duddy family, they are probably very happy with the way they doing their mass media advertising (radio, TV, flyers every day).

What have I missed?

Write your comments below.

The Sad, Sad Story Of The Man With The Worthless US$50 Million Music Collection

Have you heard about this guy, Paul Mawhinney?

He owns The Worlds Greatest Music Collection.

  • 3 Million Records
  • 300,000 Compact Discs
  • More Than 6 Million Song Titles

It’s a sad story (with no happy ending… yet).

He’s trying to sell his collection so he can retire. But no-one will buy it.

What is Paul Mawhinney doing wrong?

On the surface it seems like a reasonable deal. You pay $3M, you sell off the good bits for $3M+ (maybe even US$50!) and you get the profit and throw the rest in the rubbish.

Here’s his story:

So why isn’t it working?

I think there are 3 main reasons:

1. No-one can afford the price tag

Who has $3M to spare? (He refuses to sell the most valuable items separately)

2. He has forgotten the purpose of music

It’s for listening to. Not for archiving on a dusty shelf somewhere.

3. He has miscalculated the value of the collection

The collection isn’t worth US$50M. And US$3M isn’t a bargain either.

It’s only worth what people will pay for it.

And so far, all we know is that that price is less than US$3M.

What is he really selling?

He’s not selling music.  He’s not even selling vinyl records.

He’s selling his problem.

His problem is clutter.

I’m pretty sure he doesn’t want to sell the most valuable items separately because once they are gone he’ll still be left with thousands of vinyl records sitting on his shelf that no-one wants.

He’s spent his life collecting them.

He couldn’t bare to see them end up in a rubbish bin.  It would kill him. Literally.

And even a museum wouldn’t want them because the floor space the collection would take up has value.

What should he do?

He only has 2 options:

  1. Nothing. He could continue to sit and wait for a day that might never come.  Everyday the disappointment that no-one will buy his life’s work will eat away at him
  2. Sell the most valuable items on eBay, and call it quits. Let go, and enjoy the rest of his life.

I think he should go with #2.  He could sell the most valuable items one at a time to start with.

He will quickly get an idea of the true value of the collection.

I fear that it will be far, far less than he is hoping for.

Poor bastard.

I really feel sorry for him.

What do you think?

Write your comments below.

Dear Universe: Thank You For All The Free Software I Use Daily

It is time I thanked the universe for all the software I use everyday for free.

I make money out of using these tools (because they help me do my job) and it doesn’t cost me anything.

So here’s a list of my top 6 (in order of “most thankful”):

1. Gmail

What is it? Email/Webmail

Who made it? Google

What am I thankful for?

  • That it’s free
  • Cutting edge spam filtering
  • Accessing my 6 email accounts in a single place (POP3, SMTP, IMAP)
  • 7GB of online storage space so I never have to delete an email or get stupid “your email account is full” and having to save stupid Outlook archive files to my computer
  • Email search that is just as clever and easy to use as Google Web Search
  • Filters that keep my inbox clean and tidy
  • Labels instead of folders (so a single email can be in more than one place at once)

2. WordPress

What is it? Blogging & Website Content Management System

Who made it? Matt and the world (open source, collaborative)

What am I thankful for?

  • That it’s free
  • Powerful CMS software that means I can build super-cool websites for clients (all it costs me is time)
  • Powerful plugins that extend the capabilities and functions of my clients websites
  • A community of theme developers that make it easy to make the website look great with just a click

3. Apache / PHP / MySQL

What is it? The 3 components you need for a website server. Apache: the software that runs on the web server.  PHP: the programming language. MySQL: the database software

Who made it? Nerds.

What am I thankful for?

  • That it’s free (for web hosting companies)
  • And super-cheap for me because the web hosting companies have low costs
  • Since it’s open source, it’s super popular, so there is thousands of people contributing to forums which makes any question easy to answer, every technical difficulty easy to solve

4. Picasa

What is it? Photo organising software

Who made it? Originally by IdeaLab, now by Google

What am I thankful for?

  • That it’s free
  • An easy way to store and access all my digital photos and videos
  • Easy upload and sharing to Picasa Web Albums (1GB of storage free)
  • One-click email (resizes on the fly, interfaces with Gmail)
  • One click back-up to DVD for peace of mind (and next time it remembers which files have already been backed up)

5. Skype

What is it? Instant Messaging/Web Chat, Phone Calling, Video Calling, Screen Sharing

Who made it? A bunch of Sweedish/Estonian entrepreneurs

What am I thankful for?

  • That it’s free
  • Free international phone calls
  • Free video calls with my dad to show him his grandson

6. AVG

What is it? Anti-virus software

Who made it? AVG Technologies (formerly known as Grisoft)

What am I thankful for?

  • That it’s free
  • It just does its job and doesn’t get in my way
  • So I don’t have to pay Norton

More Free Software That I Am Thankful For:

  1. Firefox (My window to the world, with truck loads of useful plugins available)
  2. Google Analytics (Website statistics)
  3. Open Office (Just as good as Microsoft Office, and completely free)
  4. Google Calendar (Keeps me organised)
  5. Google Docs (Online document storage, excellent for collaborating on documents with others)
  6. LimeSurvey (Powerful survey software, and completely free)

I’d be completely rooted if these companies started to charge (especially Google).

More Free Software That My Twitter Friends Are Thankful For:

  1. Gimp (Photo editor similar to Photoshop) @AudaciousGloop
  2. Zoho CRM (Customer Relationship Management) @AudaciousGloop
  3. Seesmic Desktop (Desktop client) @ShotByRobins
  4. Faststone Screen Capture @ShotByRobins
  5. uTorrent (Torrent client) @ShotByRobins
  6. Copernic (Desktop Search) @ShotByRobins
  7. VNC (Virtual Network Computing) @ShotByRobins
  8. Hootsuite (Twitter client) @WebSam
  9. Sylpheed (Email client) @WebSam
  10. Thunderbird (Email client) @DeepWebDesign
  11. Tweetdeck (Twitter client) @DeepWebDesign
  12. Oolite (Addictive online game) @DeepWebDesign
  13. Faststone Image Resizer @DeepWebDesign

What Software Are You Thankful For?

Add your thoughts to the comments below.

Evidence That The Whole Vegemite “iSnack 2.0” Fiasco Was A Genuine Mistake

iSnack2.0 Brand that lasted 5 minutes

The old way of launching a new FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Good) product:

  1. Marketing team comes up with alternative names (using focus groups, brainstorming etc)
  2. Present the shortlist of their favourites to management for them to choose
  3. The product is launched with the new name with a huge amount of expensive mass advertising

The new way of launching a new FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Good) product:

  1. Put the product on the shelf without a name with the promotion “Name Me” on the front inviting suggestions from the public
  2. Marketing team chooses their favourite 10 names
  3. Let the public choose their favourite name from the list
  4. Announce the winner
  5. Launch the product with the new name

5 Reasons Why “The New Way” Is A Superior Method of Product Naming:

  1. At each step you are adding thousands of potential customers email addresses into your database,
  2. and you get their permission to communicate with them
  3. You are telling your customers that you want their input – so they feel special
  4. The promotions are potentially viral
  5. The promotions are potentially newsworthy

But why did Kraft skip Step #3 (“Let the public choose their favourite name from the list”) the first time around?

There are 3 possible reasons:

  1. They forgot
  2. Management actually thought that their own opinions were more important than their customers
  3. They skipped it on purpose to cause an outrage

In a recent poll, 75% of respondents did indeed think the the whole debacle was on purpose.

Recap of the Kraft Timeline:

  1. Launch promotion to name the new “Vegemite + Cream Cheese” spread using the hugely popular strategy of “let our fans decide what the name should be”
  2. 40,000 suggestions come in from Australia and New Zealand
  3. A junior marketing team creates a shortlist for the Kraft board of directors to choose from
  4. They choose “iSnack 2.0”, and hand out the prize
  5. The public goes mental. They hate the new name (but more than that, they hate that they weren’t asked what the name should be)
  6. Kraft releases a short list of 7 names for the public to choose from
  7. The most popular is Cheesybite with 36% of the 30,000 votes (winning by a 13% margin)

What’s on the shelf?

3 jars of the Vegemite + Cream Cheese spread, each with different labels:

  1. The first “Name Me” jar
  2. The second “iSnack 2.0” jar (which are now collectors items)
  3. The third “Cheesybite” jar

How many of those would you recognise and probably even talk to a friend about if you saw one on the shelf, or in your friend’s pantry or fridge?

All of them.

What did Kraft get out of the experience?

They looked like fools for a while, but were compensated by millions of dollars of free publicity, nationwide brand recognition, and thousands of product trials.

Their new brand is off to the best possible start.

Did they screw up on purpose?

Whether they did it on purpose is an interesting question.

Would you willingly look like a fool in exchange for the chance to make truck loads of cash?

Just as many people would as those that wouldn’t.

If you don’t have pride you have little to lose when you’re humiliated. If you are a business executive who wears a suit everyday, I suggest you would be proud and you wouldn’t take that chance.

So I conclude it was a genuine mistake.

But it doesn’t really matter if it was a mistake or if it was on purpose, what matters is results!

And they certainly got results.

Who in Australia and New Zealand hasn’t heard about Kraft’s new vegemite spread?

Very few haven’t heard about it.

Think about it. It’s vegemite. It’s not remarkable. It’s not a mainstream spread like peanut butter or jam. It has a unique peculiar and only appeals to a certain proportion of the population (popular with pregnant women including my wife and sister-in-law).

So they need to expose the taste to the largest population possible so out of the 10’s of thousands that try it, they can lock in the few that like it.

So what they have done is amazing.

What “mistakes” can you make “on purpose” to get this kind of attention?

Let’s have a brainstorm you and I, email me or phone (07) 575 8799

– Sheldon.

Is Your Target Market Small to Medium Sized NZ Businesses? How to Choose Advertising That Reaches Them

This article answers 2 questions:

  1. Where can you find stats about your target market (if you are B2B)?
  2. How effective is your advertising at reaching this target market?

1. Where can you find stats about your target market (if you are B2B)?

The ministry of Economic Development released the following report in July 09:

Small – Medium Sized Enterprises (SME’s) in New Zealand: Structure and Dynamics – July 09 (1.48Mb .pdf)

Essentially it is a very pretty version of what has been available from the Stats.govt.nz website for about 6 months.

A Quick Summary of My Favourite Statistics From the Report:

  • An SME (Small – Medium Sized Enterprise) is defined as 0-19 employees (97% of all NZ enterprises)
  • 67.8% of New Zealand businesses have zero employees
  • How can an enterprise have zero employees?
    • “could be working proprietor-only, or self-employed, businesses or of enterprises that may require no labour input, such as asset and property investment”
  • How many SME’s in the top 5 major centres?
    1. Auckland 147,622
    2. Canterbury 58,457
    3. Waikato 48,427
    4. Wellington 46,606
    5. Bay of Plenty 31,115

What can we do with these statistics?

Actually not much.  We have to dig a bit deeper using the “Table Viewer” on the stats.govt.nz website to really find out what’s going on.  (It’s a bit tricky at first, but you’ll get used to it, and then it becomes very powerful)

If your business is B2B (Business to Business), we can determine the size of your target market.

For example, the target market for my business (Marketing Consulting) is Tauranga businesses with 1-19 employees.

  • Total number of NZ businesses: 507,800 (with 1,970,000 employees)
  • Total Tauranga businesses: 13,600 (with 51,200 employees)
  • Proportion of NZ businesses with 1-19 employees: 29.3%
  • Estimated SME’s in Tauranga (0.293 x 13,600) = 3,985

So there are 4,000 local businesses in my target market.  More than I could reach one at a time with phone calls or knocking on doors, so perhaps some advertising could serve to filter these business and determine which ones are in need of my services.

But what types of advertising can reach this target market?

This brings us to the next question:

2. How effective is your advertising at reaching this target market?

What are your favourite methods of advertising?

  • Community newspapers?
  • Daily Newspapers?
  • PO Box Drops?
  • Direct Mail? (i.e. using purchased mailing lists)

Let’s look at the Business PO Box Drops as an example.  I am asking “How many of the businesses in my Tauranga target market can a Business PO Box drop reach?”.

The first step is to ask Reach Media how many business PO Boxes they have in Tauranga: 2500.

They can’t tell me which of those are owned by SME’s, so that number includes all size businesses, so:

  • Total business PO Boxes in Tauranga: 2500
  • Guess of the % of those with 1-19 employees: 50%
  • Reach: (0.5 x 2500) = 1250
  • % of target market reached by PO Box: (1250/4000) = 31%

So 31% of my target market can be reached by PO Box drop.

This indicates that using this method of advertising in isolation will only reach a third of my target market.  Therefore, to reach more of my target market I would need to build in other forms of advertising into my campaign.

Would you like me to crunch the numbers on your business?

Are you wondering about the answers to some of the questions listed above?

I can help. Call me on (07) 575 8799 today or email me.