- The big guns of the start-up world analysed really well.
- Celemi Web App to crunch some ‘what if’ scenarios on your business performance.
- The fragilista (as floated by NN Taleb originally) covered nicely here: For those who think they can know everything.
- Honest Slogans – What people really think when they hear your brand slogan.
- Toastmaster Speech of the Year (a few years ago): Good to watch the craft of public speaking – and an inspiring topic
- Here is a great Quora thread on eCommerce innovation.
We all fall in live with our own ideas and we all think we are good.
This is an image from my blog folder for recent times. I like the blogs. I think they add something to someone somewhere.
(They are not written with SEO in mind, they are written for a reader.)
But you can never know how you are really doing. The blog is certainly not a 'name' blog. (It did have a Top 150 Marketing badge a few years ago when rankings were introduced, but I reckon that the unique weekly ACTUAL readers would count in the hundreds, even if the distribution would be thousands.
Why not the thousands or tens of thousands?
Why is this blog not a hit - like say Seth Godin's blog.
Maybe people don't agree with my message. Maybe it is not targeted well enough at a particular audience. Maybe my writing style is difficult. There are numerous reasons why this blog is not even more popular than it is,
YET - ultimately I write for myself. I write what I like and what I would like to read about. I find the topics interesting.
That approach can be seen as authenticity or as stupidity.
In the meantime, NEXT WEEK'S posts have been lined up and are ready to go...
I know that title is not optimised for SEO, but there really can be no other; trust me...
Example #1 (Those who shall remain nameless)
This is a summary of the findings of a major research project
(that shall remain nameless) that cost (in all probability) well north of
$100K. Read first, and see what you get out of it.
- Technology has empowered the customer and given him/her another channel to shop
- Consumers are now empowered
- It all comes back to the in-store experience
- Understanding the customer allows you to build trust and sell more to them
- Gen Y is different to the Boomers
- Big Data means we have lots of information at our disposal
- Shopping centres have the opportunity to practice place making
- In densely populated areas retailers can have higher trading stores
- We must combine the best of the digital and analogue world
- You need a mobile-responsive website for mobile world
- We must provide world-class customer experience
- Great customer service has always worked and will always work and must be retained
- To remain competitive we must compete with the international competitors
- It is important to understand customers because you can’t only compete on price
- Australia is becoming more urbanised
- Retail is the third space for consumers where they seek a compelling experience
- Domestic retailers in US/Europe are looking at expanding to Aus because they are seeking expansion in emerging markets
- The customer is king
[Disclaimer: This is paraphrased from the ‘Executive Summary’. I did not download the full report; for obvious reasons.]
This is what passes for research? Wow. I suppose we get fed the stuff that we deserve. I am certain the research leader was Captain Obvious. It turns out that this research is made available publicly as an exercise in ‘content marketing’. If there was any real value in the research and the insights were actionable, the organisation would have kept that IP confidential.
Example #2 (If it looks like research, it is research…right?)
The current buzzword du jour is ‘neuromarketing’. It is a discipline I claim some expertise in. Our retail sales training program was created some 7 years ago based on those principles, and I have formal qualifications in Consumer Behaviour and have been working in the field for over 20 years. Even so, I would not classify myself as an expert– but merely that I am an avid student of neuroscience.
Yet, the internet is awash with people who claim expertise, often based on one reading of Cialdini’s book – or more likely, based on following a few bloggers who have all read Ciadini’s book. Not to get into a slanging match with the newly converted about this, but suffice to say that 90% of those so-called ‘research projects’ were conducted by US professors who are driven to achieve tenure at university by being a mass publisher of ‘scholarly’ articles, and the research is conducted on (that very representative sample of the world population) of 20-25 year old America College kids.
Example #3 (Student or Master?)
- A 28 year old student debunks long-held economic theory of two Harvard Professors.
- And again: Another part–time student debunks the corner stone of the Positive Psychology discipline. (See notes about Neuromarketing above.)
The conclusions that I draw from this is that:
- Real experts cannot be relied upon to provide real insights, reliably.
- Many people profess to be exerts when they are not even remotely qualified.
- You deserve whatever consequences, when you suspend your critical thinking in favour of following a flavour of the month.
The advice I can offer (ironically but sincerely):
- Treat all unsolicited advice and all unsubstantiated content as opinion that holds no more value than your own thoughts. (I write either to explain a useful skill or a piece of knowledge, or to provoke thought. This post is in the latter category.)
- Almost every piece of ‘content’ that is freely given out on the internet has an unseen agenda – there really isn’t anything that is free. (I write here so that you can know of me, and think of me in a certain way, and that is my agenda.)
- Apply the common sense test and trust your judgment when confronted with ‘research’ or ‘expert’ advice.
- Google is a tool, not a solution. (Nicholas Car wrote smartly about it some five years ago and asked the question: Is Google making us dumb? Don’t fall into the trap.)
Ganador: Learn to perform: for the 21st century retailer dealing with the 21st century consumer.
In case you missed the post earlier this week on powerful
presentation, read it now… and here is a reminder from Dilbert.
The first comment on this clip is:
The hardest part of this jump was getting his balls to fit into the suit.
It will make sense if you watch it..
Australians will be familiar with the ‘that’s not a knife, THIS is a knife’ quip by Crocodile Dundee.
Well – ‘you don’t have a CV, THIS is a CV…’
I did not know this.
Not sure whether I found it funny or a bit creepy.
Logging on to my Google Homepage, I was created with the customised Happy Birthday Doodle. (I hovered the mouse over the image - see below).
Clicking on the image takes me to... my Google + Profile.
Food for thought.
I read some interesting
- 96% of cancer patients in a hospital claim to be in better health than the average cancer patient.
- 93% of motorists consider themselves to be safer-than-average drivers.
- 90% students see themselves as more intelligent than the average student.
- 94% of college professors said they are better-than-average teachers.
- Ironically, 92% said they are less biased than average, too.
The psychology term for this is illusory superiority. (Delusions of grandeur is the less kind way to look at it.)
I can write a long post about that. Or I can ask you to think about it.
Instead, I will ask you to do (as the author did) to:
- Imagine that you are not as smart as you think you are
- Imagine you are not as experienced as you think you are
- Imagine that people don’t care as much about you as you think they do
- Imagine that your brand is not as strong as you think it is
What comes next?
Thank you to all who participated in the short survey. Do you want to know what you think of me? Have a look below for the feedback and summary. The sample size was 43. For the sake of clarity and emphasis I will round the ratios. (NOTE: A few late entries came in, but did not alter the substance.)
WHY DID I NEED TO KNOW?
In a business like this, constant reinvention is required. As a rule of thumb, a good consultant will earn 50% of revenue from products/services that did not exist 3 years ago. (Some would argue.) That suits me fine - I like change and mixing things up and I have created several successful and unsuccessful products/services over the last 7 years.
Secondly, business has been quieter in the last six months, and I could not put my finger on why. that might be so. (Given that we do a lot of work in retail turnarounds, the GFC worked to our advantage somewhat.) I wondered if people understood what I offered as much as understood what my brand stood for.
Thirdly, and most importantly, I have found two polar opposite responses when I engaged with people:
Response 1: Some people had an expectation of getting free/cheap services work and did not seem to value what we do as a business. (One recent example is where we changed a retailer's sales trend from -31% to +8%. After completion of the engagement, we did not even get a thank you. (The supplier paid for the intervention.) One of the consultants we sometime work with was offered $20 cash-in-hand.
Response 2: On the other hand, some people may write to me and say things that seem to suggest that we are on some pedestal and even unapproachable - and sometimes even say that we only work for the big end of town. (We do focus on working with the supply chain (landlords/brands/wholesalers,) but not exclusively. I would hate to think that we are perceived as too high-end or too expensive etc. Worst of all, we very much believe we are approachable -- to anyone.
So we wanted to find out what you really think.
The audience is almost evenly split 55% Retailers and 45%
View of the Brand (Dennis Price/ Ganador)
I have summarised the range of responses into three broad categories: edgy, expert and informative. Those three categories form a natural hierarchy from most exciting to somewhat bland. That is, the majority of respondents described Dennis/Ganador using words like ‘interesting, provocative, makes you think, different’ etc. I have used the label EDGY to capture those responses.
Another 30% used words like expert/ specialist/ consultant/ adviser. These are also positive associations but from my point-of-view, do not discriminate my brand sufficiently. (It is rather generic.)
The rest are what I would consider fairly dull associations such as provide information, provide news etc. And of course there were two respondents who had negative brand perceptions. (‘Ignorant’ and ‘self-serving’.)
I would have been happy with more negative perceptions because it at least it demonstrates some cut-through; but of course ‘not knowing your stuff’ has no positive value. One thing to note is that many people who would hold negative perceptions of Dennis/Ganador brand would NOT bother to complete the survey.
Digging deeper into these differences, an interesting fact emerges. Within each category (retailer, brand, service provider etc) around 75% of the responses would be classified as ‘edgy’. However, amongst the independent retailer group (about 40% of the respondents) only 39% used the same type of descriptors.
This means that a minority of this cohort (independents) used those same descriptors. I find this particularly interesting. (With a bigger sample it may smooth out a little, but probably not much.) The independents either described my brand using words like ‘expert’ (27%) or informative and both negative responses were within this group.
There are two explanations: Either more than half the Independent Retailer cohort does not recognise/appreciate the essence of my brand correctly and almost everybody on the outside does; OR I am fooling the suppliers/brands etc and more than half the Independents are 'seeing through me.'
Your biggest business need
I have classified the range of responses as per this image below. Upon closer reflection there are really only two categories of needs.
- Growing the Business 63%
- Running the Business 37%
What surprised me was what was NOT there. Only one person mentioned online and another mentioned online marketing. I would have expected a greater emphasis/issue around the adoption of technology and going multi-channel.
What does all this mean?
The reason I did this exercise are explained above: I was curious to see if my branding efforts have paid off over the years. I have certainly wanted to position the business as leading-edge in terms of thinking, but contrarian and different – not the same old, same old.
My reasoning is that:
(a) most businesses will be familiar with ‘same old same old’ and that in time when you need change or assistance you will need someone who is at the forefront and thinks differently about the challenges and,
(b) it suits my personality. Because we always intended to trade to as a ‘boutique’ consultancy, our brand had to be authentic and could only be so if it aligned closely with the individuals in the business. (And it is safe enough because I do have a business partner that can pull me in line when I am too close to the edge…)
So I can be assured that my brand perceptions are at least on the right track: who do you go to when you need new/fresh/different strategies/solutions/skills?
If I want to do business with you, then I must focus on how you can grow/develop your business. For instance; we have not renewed our RTO license because we found that demand for training was declining and that the way in which the government curriculum was focused on compliance and not performance. It makes sense that this type of training is not valued as it does not clearly contribute towards growth. (Training programs focused on new selling and persuasion techniques on the other hand are more popular.)
THE GOOD NEWS
You need strategies, skills, systems = SOLUTIONS to help you grow your business. (Or jump the curve as we like to call it.) That is what we do and that is more or less what you need.
THE BAD NEWS
We seem to be positioned more as an information provider (albeit interesting, different & provocative). Information is not a solution - so we have to work harder at clarifying our offer.
Thanks again for taking your precious time to contribute.
If you have any comments about the interpretation and findings - please comment below.
I was going to start this list and keep going until I got to 100. I then realised I might piss off too many people, so I have limited it to a random selection:
- Networking for introverts or three ways to be a better networker
- How to be a better leader
- How to be more productive
- Any number of marketing lessons you can learn from <insert celebrity>
- Any number of leadership lessons you can learn from <insert favourite movie hero>
- Ten ways in which Apple will rule the world
- Anything about Apple (OK, that is just me)
But feel free to add your own to the list...
I am hoping that as a subscriber to our blog/ newsletter you might consider this request. Just like a retailer reviews their stock regularly, so do we. It is that time of the year we are doing a strategic review - and YOUR ASSISTANCE is a critical part.
There are only 3 questions and I require two words and a tick - if that is not too much to ask.
Thank you in advance.
1. There is no substitute for action. Not strategy, not luck not money, not connections or skill or even passion. Action is the King of Achievement Hill.
2. Bias, prejudice and fear may be disguised as experience. What is required for future success is not the same as what made you successful. As soon as you find yourself relying on your experience, consider that a warning bell.
3. Being focussed and specialised and better than anyone else at something (even very small) means you have to rely on partners, alliances and consultants to support your business objectives. The ability to get along with people and communicate effectively is paramount.
4. Honesty is a very expensive gift; do not expect it from cheap people. (Neil Patel). Advisors, even trusted ones, are inclined to tell the person on the receiving end of the advice what they want to hear. It is hard to be honest if you anticipate the honesty might lead to your downfall. (Imagine all the debates in the Labor caucus.) When you do receive advice, consider the source very carefully. When you receive unsolicited advice, ignore it freely.
5. It is a lot easier to say NO than it is to say YES. Parents do that all the time. The teenager wants to go out somewhere and parents say no because they think they keep their kids safe when they really just could not be bothered to do what is necessary to make it possible. Companies do the same by saying NO to projects that are risky because not doing it will get no one fired when doing it might. That is why all companies eventually fail.
6. Resilience is not the opposite of fragility – but being antifragile is. And the aim of a business is to become antifragile in the face of risks and stressors. Learning how to benefit (not just cope) from turbulence is the aim.
7. Familiarity breeds ignorance. Consulting is an easy thing to do - simply because the distance from the problem gives a clear perspective. The people in the room struggling with the problem are breathing their own exhaust fumes and are disorientated easily. You can see when a friend is trying to reconcile with his ex that it would be a mistake because you are not involved. Distance gives perspective.
8. The hardest thing to open is a closed mind. (Neil Patel).
9. Your routine is your destiny. This applies on a personal level as well as on the business level. The things that are systematised in your business are the things that will build the foundation of a successful business. Those routines allow you the freedom and the opportunity to experiment and innovate.
10. Success comes most swiftly and completely not to the greatest or perhaps even to the ablest men, but to those whose gifts are most completely in harmony with the taste of their times. (Vox Popoli). Success is not about luck or about hard work alone. Timing is crucial. Some ideas are ahead of their time but mostly they are too late. People more readily will claim “I know that” or “I thought of that” than they would lament “I never knew”. Timing is more about action than it is about luck.
GANADOR: Future-proof your business with new strategies, systems and skills.
PS: Two great examples of must watch videos:
- Place making for a town centre (using the internet of things)
- Target’s curated commerce strategy, including smart use of social media etc. (Read this for some background.)
- And your FREE offer here.
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