I’ve almost got to the end of Seth Godin‘s “Tribes“. I had tried buying this on Amazon some time back, but my order had got cancelled. So it was quite lucky that I came across an audio book version that Seth is giving away for free. I downloaded the player a couple of weeks ago and had it on my phone, but I’ve been away on holiday and had the opportunity to get to listen to it.
It’s a pretty inspirational text that’s really brilliant in its simplicity. I love the fact that after you read some of Seth’s texts you end up thinking how simple the ideas are and marvelling about how you didn’t think of them yourself. It’s all down to framing the ideas and Seth has a great way of decorating his ideas with memorable anecdotes and examples from real life. It’s also great how he covers a range of different topics; from marketing down to shiny new copper kitchen sinks; well, so the metaphor goes. Seriously I started following Seth as a marketing guru, but this book is much more than that; it’s an essential management and change text that can help you both in your career and your personal life.
Anyway; if you haven’t had a chance to get your hands on the book you can download the Tribes audio book here.
It’s been said time and again that communication is the root of a successful relationship and that certainly applies for the business world too. It’s imperative to maintain contact with your clients, colleagues and even prospectives. It’s cheap to do nowadays, especially with technologies like VOIP and Skype; but it’s also important to keep in touch in multiple ways. For example, sending cards at Christmas is a great way to remind your clients about your services.
Again, this doesn’t have to cost the earth. You can get your greeting cards online for a fraction of the cost it used to cost in the past; and you can also get them on recycled card, if the environment is a concern of yours. In the meantime, it’s a way to ensure you’re always in touch with your clients and they always know who you are.
I found an interesting message in my HSBC Malta online banking mail box this morning. Here’s what it said:
We are pleased to advise that until further notice, all Term Deposits opened in EURO through Internet Banking will automatically benefit from a special bonus of 0.05% p.a. loading above prevailing interest rates.
Their current interest rate on a Term Deposit is 2.00% p.a. which means that if I do this online I’ll get a 2.05% interest rate. While I applaud their initiative in trying to drive benefit to online customers (and minimise their cost of servicing customers) I stopped to think about what this could mean to me in real terms. If I decided to invest £1000 in a 1 year Term Deposit I would normally earn £20; but if I did it online, I would earn £20.50. The question is, would people change their banking patterns and move online to make that extra 50p ?
At the end of the day, the answer to that question boils down to individual’s weighing up the cost of their behaviour change against the perceived benefit of their action. And this varies from one person to another. I have a friend who once shopped around for hours to buy Sylvania light bulbs because he believed they were what he wanted to light up his garden and wouldn’t accept any compromise. Personally, I think the time he invested in his quest far outweighed the outcome; but it wasn’t really about the light bulbs, but his pursuing an idea. Finding the right lighting was the end goal, but there was pleasure in the chase too. Personally, I’m not into lightbulbs, but if my son saw some John Deere toys he really wanted, I’d go out of my way to look for them. (p.s. I’ve never seen any of those in the UK, maybe a service like US Unlocked could go a long way there)
Still, offering your customers a 50p carrot seems a bit cheap …
It’s was with great relief that the tax authorities in the Isle of Man found out last night that they weren’t on the OECD tax haven list. There’s been work over the last couple of years to make sure we don’t get blacklisted and the announcement was the culmination of all their efforts.
These are the countries that were given the all clear:
- Czech Republic
- Isle of Man
- New Zealand
- Russian Federation
- Slovak Republic
- South Africa
- United Arab Emirates
- United Kingdom
- United States
- US Virgin Islands
Some were expected but there are some interesting development there; what I find particularly interesting is that countries like Luxenbourg and Switzerland just didn’t make the list. So what does the result really mean? Well, the good news is that the Isle of Man can keep enjoying the fruits of hosting the segment of financial services it currently does and may even get some new business. If however we haven’t made the list, it could have proved disastrous to the Island’s financial sector; a bit like getting a truck rental and driving through a field of poppies; there wouldn’t be much left by the time you came out the other end.
It’s hard to underestimate how hard the correct targeting can be. Some products are intended for the mass market, so targeting isn’t such an issue, but the small the niche you operate in, the more important targeting can be. For example, if you sell trade show exhibits, then it’s useless advertising them on TV, and your market is quite small; and you can get a better response if you can attract the attention of your prospective customers, maybe by advertising in trade journals. Let’s take another example, the main buyers of bathroom safety products would tend to be elderly people, or people who buy things for them (retirement homes maybe); so once again, broad spectrum advertising will not be as effective as establishing criteria for targeting your advertising and pushing that ahead.
Targeting can be more expensive than blanket advertising, but the response rate is going to be much higher. And new technologies like the Web, have introduced a new ways of identifying and selecting recipients for your campaigns. So think and target before firing out your message.
An interesting article caught my eye this morning about how Twitter is running the danger of turning into MySpace. The interesting thing about the article was how it outlined how the service was evolving in ways that it’s founders never imagined. There’s a 3rd party market in services evolving, celebrities are jumping on board; and more and more people are using the service for new and fascinating services.
Now, here’s one big difference from traditional companies. Companies have always needed to evolve to cater for changing demands and to remain current with the times. Take IBM for example, they started out as a company that produced punched card readers, evolved into one of the biggest computer manufacturers in the world, and today are a force in the consultancy market. They would benowhere today if they stuck to selling punched card readers. Example of this abound, from the company that produced weight loss products who is now in the nutrition market; from the company that used to sell surplus goods in a market stall who is now one of the biggest retail forces in the UK; you can see this evolution happen over and again.
But traditionally that evolution was driven from within; the directors of the company were influenced by their employees about a change in direction and they backed it up. Twitter’s evolution is different. The evolution is being driven by people all around the globe, with developers building add-on services, users requesting features and industry peers correcting perceived flaws. I personally think that change driven by your users is the best way forward; community-driven improvements I guess you could call them.