Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Of a Marketing Masterclass

I attended a Grant Leboff seminar yesterday in Kensington London. Boy was he good. One of his pearls of wisdom is to share as much as you can. So now that I'm a Leboff follower here's what I took from the masterclass. Here's my sharing  :
* Marketing is about getting attention nowadays - we spend much of our day screening due to amount of choice. Familiarity breeds success not contempt.
* The battle in marketing now is for attention and to engaged customers
* What we must ask is are we montarising the right thing? Convenience, security etc are commodities we will pay for. He gave example of the music industry. Madonna could give her next album  out for free. But we would pay perhaps £2 to receive it a month before anyone else. We might buy a bonus track. We might go to her exclusive "webcast" and buy a t-shirt that says we were there etc
* HE ARGUES the growth of the world wide web has led us to a long term customer engagement model
* In order to engage people our marketing has to provide VALUE. VALUE he  argues is not produced through a company's products or services. Rather it is created by relating a business's offering to what the customer is looking to achieve.
* Social media 3 questions 1. Where is the value?, 2, Why would people share it? 3. How will they share it?
* Marketing is no longer about brand and image but the reputation a company earns (what others say). Today, everyone is a marketeer. More marketing messages are created by the public than by marketing departments
* The co-founder of Facebook says we have moved from "The Wisdom of Crowds" to the "Wisdom of Friends"
* The power of marketing today is that others will market for you but companies must Listen, Monitor, Identify Influencers use Radian6 to monitor online profile and that of competitors.
* Leboff argues there's no such thing as a unique selling proposition and I think he's right. We must talk about special differentiators  
* For most purchases you have both practical and emotional stuff going on. IF YOU UNDERSTAND the problems your customers have you begin to understand why customers buy from you. 
* It's essential to work out when people buy as well as why - you can change your web site accordingly. E.g nightclub Friday night front page should contain voucher to show on mobile for free drink. Monday morning it should show normal corporate site.
* Marketing/Information Stickiness for customer engagement should go for :
- Facts - go for interesting facts famous one is "Ten things you didn't know about last week"  combined relevance is good e.g What Xfactor can teach lawyers, What olympians can teach businessmen. 

Monday, 27 February 2012

Of Early Starts

Errrrr. Early starts who needs them? Today started at 4.30a.m. as I climbed out my pit in an attempt to make the first plane out of Northern Ireland for a seminar in West Kensington.

Waiting in the queue through airport security I plugged in to "Bohemian Like You" by the Dandy Warhols in an attempt to pump some energy into myself and some enthusiasm for life in general. Too early I thought. Still way too early.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Of Musing Around for the Weekend

It's truly amazing what you can do on the web nowadays.You see I've been "musing" today. By that I mean I've been trying out a business idea the format of which has been strongly shaped by Tim Ferris's book "The Four Hour Work Week".
Regular readers of this blog (and why haven't you got yourself something better to do yet?) will know that I have formed "The Four Hour Work Week" club consisting of 15 business minds all meeting to critique and help each other build muses.This meets again next week and I know that they'll be loads of ideas and suggestions coming forward to help everyone muse more effectively.
So far this week musing I have come across Elance which is a fabulous site if you what to find a service provider to do just about anything relevant to the world of publication. I'm about to engage a gentleman in Pakistan to DTP a word document for me. This morning I found Problogger a directory of people all over the world who will blog and  write material for you. Yesterday a friend threw me in the direction of Payloadz a site which allows you to automate the process of sending a customer a document whilst also taking payment too.
The friend in question is Julian Wagstaff. I sent him the book a couple of weeks ago. Yesterday he was on the blower to me for a good couple of hours. Clearly he's gripped by it (the book not the phone..) and is already on his way to create his first muse which I think is going to sell and well if he gets it right. His track record to date suggests firmly that he will But will I? Therein lies the excitement of musing....

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Of Ballycraigy Primary and Their New Guests

Yesterday I attended our local primary school for the official launch of their new hen house paid for by Legal-Island. It's made out of recycled furniture and includes a washing machine door for a window. It's the grand work of a man called Robert, a neighbour newly retired, who is clearly putting his mind to creative and imaginative projects.
The kids loved the four new hens and barely contained themselves when they discovered two freshly laid eggs in the hens "bedroom" on the first floor of this wonderful contraption.
One boy so small he struggled to reach in and pick up the egg asked me if there was a chicken inside. Another asked if they were always this colour like he was expecting the odd gold one from time time time. Top stuff!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Of Wine Quaffing Part 1

I was a a wine quaffing course last night; the first class or a series of six. As I was driving, most of the wine ended up in a spittoon but note I said most, not all. For some wine tasted that good that I felt I had no option but to employ what the lecturer called "The Irish Spit" and swallow it and commit it to the body (and brain for that matter).
I'm learning a new language for this course and lots of new vocabulary. I now know that a good wine has both balance and length. It may be "off dry" or taste oaky or even vegetal. I've learnt a few new tricks too. Put your hand over the top of the glass, shake it furiously and it's much easier to smell the wine. Uncork a red a good 24 hours before you drink it and it will taste very different (and many would say very much better) than the same red just uncorked. The size of a cork can also determine the taste of a wine. Something to do with the amount of air that gets into the bottle.
It's amazing what the mind can hold when having to decide whether a wine merits swallowing or projecting outwards.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Of Our Man in Malawi

Occasionally, not often, something happens in life that makes you feel quite good about yourself and the things you do.
For the past 3 years or so Legal-Island has been donating £1 every time a delegate completes an evaluation form after attending one of our events. The £1 has gone into our Malawi fund and a good friend of ours, Peter, every now and then takes a whole lot of wonga out to spend it where it's really needed. 
Our latest joint effort is above. This is Rose who now has a tin room. One that doesn't leek. One that doesn't
blow off. One that has no risk of fire.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Of Me n Red Bush Tea

For a long time now I've been trying to find a herbal tea I like. It hasn't proved easy. Tesco do a fine range of herbal teas but their green tea tastes like and their fruit berry tea just doesn't work for me. For a good while I've been drinking peppermint tea trying to persuade myself that I like it. But I don't. Not really. It's neither refreshing nor thirst quenching.

But then last weekend Eureka! I tried some red bush and I really really liked it. It was soothing on the pallet, refreshing and left a lovely taste in your mouth. It smells glorious too like distilled pot pourri or something. I've tried a number of red bush teas before or "Rooi bush" as the South Africans call it but not thought much of it. But this tea is different. At last!

However, there's a problem. The only shop ever to sell this stuff that I can see is one I visited on Friday night run by a couple of Afghanies in Stratford East London.

Cuppa of red bush anyone?

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Of the Four Hour Work Week Part II

Last night's meeting was a massive hit. Everyone invited turned up -eventually. One guy had to be retrieved from the Red Panda Restaurant - the original meeting place. Everyone chucked in loads of great contributions.
It's amazing how many different views and interpretations you'll get when 12 people read the same book. One thing I have learnt is that if you go round the group asking for views in just 2 minutes then you time and monitor it for some people's interpretation of 2 minutes is quite different to others.
All we need now is a bit more structure and a few more members. The group is really diverse but it could be better. We need more women and a representative or two from the minority communities would be good too. Onwards.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Of the Four Hour Work Week

I have an interesting meeting this evening. 15 of the finest business heads I could find are meeting to discuss the book "The Four Hour Work Week" or perhaps more accurately are meeting to discuss developing a "muse" as described in the book.
It's a fine collection of people. There's a corporate trouble shooter, two small business consultants, a mother of three, a teckie, a finance consultant, a salesman and an Internet guru. I've a feeling this is either going to work wonderfully well or crash and burn. Let's hope it's the former.
My own muse is now up and running but it needs a lot more work. Watch this space as they say.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Of a Tale of Two Tour Guides

I've just spent a great weekend in London.
On Saturday I visited High Gate Cemetery and the grave amongst others of Karl Marx. The person taking the cash for the tour was the most grumpy/rude customer service person I've ever met and I've met a good few grumpy ones in my time. I've been to Russia four times don't forget. After she had barked at me she threw us onto a tour guide who was, well, ok but who wants a tour guide who is just ok? Doesn't everyone want a tourguide who conveys passion, humour and interest for their subject? Someone who can't wait to tell you all the stats, the rarely know facts and a whole lot in between.Well this lady didn't as she carted us around various graves with about as much energy as those who inhabit them.

Our second guide was different. Oh so very much different and so very much better too.John took us round the East End of London on "The Jack the Ripper Tour". He was amusing, irreverent, whitty, ghoulish when the occassion demanded, dressed for the part and threw everything he had at it. There must have been 50 in our group and everyone heard what he had to say and everyone wanted to too.

What amazed me was just how few people were around Whitechapel Saturday at 9p.m. Granted it was cold but we passed almost no-one except those in Jack The Ripper tours going in the other direction.And there were enough of them. I must have counted 5 in the hour or so I was out listening to our guide.There's obviously money in death be that cemeteries or how an unfortunate few end up there..

Friday, 10 February 2012

Of What Makes Me Grumpy

I see to be in a strange mood this week. It's something to do with my space and what invades it. I complained again at the swimming pool this morning about the announcements they make first thing. At 7.15a.m. a woman's voice comes at you over the tannoy saying "Attention, attention staff call all pool attendants proceed to poolside immediately". Once is ok but five more times and you feel like your ears have been mugged. They replied it has be like this for health & safety reasons but I'm not convinced.
I'm also down on companies that send me unwanted email. Before I just deleted it. Now I'm either reporting the email as spam by clicking a fancy button on my software (though where these reports go and what happens to them I don't quite know) or demanding to be unsubscribed.
It's interesting the lengths some companies go to to stop you unsubscribing despite the fact that by law they must allow you to do it. Some require you to confirm your email address. Others get you to fill in certain letters to prove they've sent their email to a human. One or two tell you that you have unsubscribed but it will take about 12 weeks for your request to take complete effect (yeah right...) and you may get emails meantime. One called Plaxo, allows you to unsubscribe from all categories you care to deselect but then inform you that you'll still be kept on their main mailing list for occasional emails. They have been informed that I'll report them to the Information Commissioner if they don't unsubscribe me immediately. Oh I am in a grumpy mood this week aren't I?

Monday, 6 February 2012

Of Cheery Thoughts for a Monday

I was back in the pool today after a break on account of man flu of a good 4 weeks. I managed 20 lengths only. It was pretty unimpressive. It was cold and I felt miserable. As I went up and down I couldn't help but think of the radio report I heard first thing this morning. It reminded me that you should be grateful for your lot. The first part of the report was from Greece. The reporter was interviewing the many newly homeless in Athens. Two standing in a queue for soup were former teachers made redundant just before Christmas. The second part of the report came from Syria. It started with the awful whistle of bombs dropping then exploding over Homms a heavily populated city in Northern Syria. Economic collapse and political disintegration problems not confined to just two countries either. One might think that by now after all this time we would have developed systems sophisticated enough to avoid such catastrophes but no I can't help but think they'll always feature in modern life for both are run by us - human beings and we are deeply, deeply flawed.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Of Protests in Russia

They're marching in Moscow today protesting against the unfairness of recent elections.Putin has clearly learnt one thing when President then Prime Minister of Russia that as Stalin once said it's not the number of votes that count but who's counting the number of votes.
I've never liked Putin that much and his poodle Medvedev I've liked even less. I'm always suspicious of little men for as Noel Coward once said "Their brains are far too close to their bottoms for comfort".

Friday, 3 February 2012

Of Wine Tasting

I've just applied to start a wine tasting course in Belfast next week. I guess I'll learn how to sniff wine, how to twirl it in the glass and how to talk grapes with anyone and everyone.
I'm wondering if you get provided with a bucket into which you have to expel everything you get to try. It seems an awful waste but then if you're driving home I suppose you've no choice. I could always take the train I suppose.
The only bottle of wine I am vaguely familiar with is "Blue Nun". We used to sell loads of this stuff in the pub I used to work at in Govan, Glasgow. Unkindly it became known as the "Winos' drink" being probably one of the cheapest ways for someone living on the streets to get drunk. And then something quite remarkable happened.
The makers of Blue Nun realised they had a perception problem. They began to do some blind tasting exercises with Blue Nun and other wines which when known many would have ranked as far superior in terms of quality and reputation. Blue Nun outscored its rivals every time.
If we're invited to bring a guest bottle of wine one evening perhaps I should bring a bottle of the old faithful Blue Nun. It fooled just about everyone... except the park winos it seems.