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Archive for December, 2010

Christmas, Clients & Business Strategy

Saturday, December 25th, 2010

Do you have a Christmas strategy? Or do you either ignore the opportunity to touch your clients or flippantly send them an email on Christmas Eve to confirm that you just don’t care?

Rule 1 of Business: Know your Clients

Any business is only as good as its client list [because that’s where the money comes from that pays to keep the lights on all year]. Knowing your clients allows for the development of strong relationships, it creates opportunity through the ability to preempt and read between the lines of their wants and needs… and it underpins your ability to retain clients in a hostile competitive landscape.

Not to mention their invaluable assistance through both formal and informal endorsement in the market.

Knowing Clients informs Touching Clients

The term touching is a marketing phrase that represents those moments in real life when you quietly touch someone on their arm or shoulder. It’s not bullying or shouting. These are the moments you get to speak quietly into their ear for no other purpose than to genuinely inform or consolidate your relationship.

Obviously, knowing clients and how they tick (their religion, marital status, political beliefs, affiliations and cultural values) informs the act of touching. You’re going to want to touch them on appropriate occasions in the appropriate ways. In other words, you don’t send a bottle of Malt Whiskey to a Mormon or a special Bible to an Atheist. And you don’t send any client that apron the guys thought might be funny at the office after party.

Maximising your Christmas Business Strategy

You have a number of options to maximise the effectiveness of your Christmas strategy but here’s some food for thought.

First, I’d see if there might be any obvious compartmentalisation in my client list – clients who spent under $5,000 may not require the same attention as the client’s who brought in more than $10,000 or over $50,000. I’d look at making at least three levels of client appreciation that I’d be interested in passing on.

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You Need an Online Value Proposition

Friday, December 10th, 2010

Let me ask a simple question: why should customers use your online store over a competitor’s online store… and why online rather than shopping at a bricks and mortar retail outlet? In other words, what is your online value proposition?

If you build it they won’t come

I remember standing in a friend’s office when his phone rang… “Yes,” he said to the person over the phone… “what you need is a Content Management System. I can make that website for you, it will be six pages.” Within less than one minute they’d loosely agreed on the price.

Standing at the end of my friend’s desk I recall that I was aghast… no, slightly horrified. How the hell could this one stop web shop know that the person who had just telephoned needed a six page website built with a Content Management System?

That’s what I mean when I talk about making Internet beach towels. Where is the strategy? Where are the measurable outcomes? The only thing I saw in that interaction was a confused and desperate business being held victim to somebody they’d approached as an expert. They needed an answer… he gave them an Internet beach towel.

My friend, at that time, was operating under a naive assumption that if he built them a website – any six page website – the customers would come.

Your Online Value Proposition

One of the main things any online commercial business needs to work out is their online value proposition – often just called their OVP. What is the reason someone would go to their website for goods or services… why don’t they shop on a competitor’s website or drive to the analogue wasteland of their own city’s business district?

Amazon’s OVP is that customers get up to 40 per cent cheaper books from their large stock list. That’s the reason customers think of Amazon and type in that Amazon URL and why they bother to go through the Amazon purchase process. It’s not simply because Amazon sell books. It’s because Amazon have a strong OVP.

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Legal Precendent for Charging US Corporations with Murder

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

Corporations are funny creatures invented some time ago to facilitate the expansion of trade. At the time, the United States Government (and I assume other governments) had fears about the abuse of power that an unconscionable pseudo-person under the law might bring down onto society.

The PhD who argued with the MBA Student

In the September/October 1977 issue of Mother Jones Magazine a journalist named Mark Dowie penned an inflamatory article titled Pinto Madness. Dowie’s article gained a lot of traction because it accused Ford of costing the loss of life in a deliberately dangerous sub-compact car to the extent that it was cheaper to pay the victims than to modify the vehicle. Dowie’s feature article on the Ford Pinto was an excellent example of crappy journalism because he manipulated the evidence to fit his story. He fudged, smudged and plain misrepresented to prove his case.

Myth of the Ford Pinto Case is from Rutger’s Law Review, 1991 volume 43:1013. You can download the Myth of the Ford Pinto Case from PointofLaw (link on the right side of their page) to read the extent of Dowie’s wrongdoing. You can also read Grimshaw v Ford Motor Company (1981).

So that drew a path to conflict with the PhD lecturing a Management Ethics course I took last year. He, like many business PhDs, had long used the Pinto case as an extreme example of unethical behaviour. My hole was dug all the deeper when I mentioned the capacity for the Corporation, or the Management Team, to be charged with murder if the Pinto case were factual. He immediately emailed a categorical rebuffing of that idea saying that a United States corporation could not be held responsible for criminal charges in the 1970s and dismissed my argument out of hand. He said that idea of corporate accountability was a very modern concept.

So I put forward this tidbit of US legal history – which only proves that having a PhD floppy hat doesn’t mean you are an expert on every aspect of a subject. The following research revealed the precedent.

US Corporations can be Charged with Murder

If you look in the HeinOnLine legal database through the university library website (or if you can get hold of the journal article privately somewhere) there is a Law Journal called International Legal Practitioner… If you select the 1987 edition scroll in the sidepane until you see the article on page 66 (September 1987) titled Criminal Prosecution of Corporations for Defective Products.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark (aka nortypig) and I live in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a photographer making pictures with film. A web developer for money. A business consultant for fun. A journalist on paper. Dreams of owning the World. Idea champion. Paradox. Life partner to Megan.

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