Morgo Diary Note: Price – higher or lower but not the same…

#MORGO 2011 kicked off with an opera signer – Darryl Lovegrove founder of threewaiters , sharing his inspiring and entertaining story of taking corporate entertainment global.  His shared winning formula:

  • Price leadershiplead with an aggressive price strategy either: price well above your competition or well below not the same.
  • Quality
  • Mass Appeal: adapt known concepts to a broad set of people
  • Focus: on what you can control. Do not get distracted with too many product variants do something and do it well.  Stick with your winning formula and make it better.

The pricing strategy makes sense – why be just the same as every one else. Either you have been able to package your offering with lower costs and can hit the market with a new price point, or what you have is so good it demands a special place above every one else.

Lovegrove also explained how speaking in a Kermit frog voice – was great training to become an opera singer.

MORGO is  a entrepreneurs conference / networking event hosted each year by Jenny Morel. Now in its 9th year, this event has become a “must attend event” for both inspiration in the technology business space and building networks.  In this post I share a few notes that I scribbled down on day one.

Speaker 2: Scott Yara CO founder  Greenplum, his lessons for success:

  • Timing: Being ahead of time is a bad idea.
  • Have Passion: “Earn the right”  – to be heard by customers and  staff alike.
  • Solve Real World Problems

Jades’s Craig Richardson  gave us all an update on  JADE’s reinvention.  I remember JADE in the 80’s with their unique and superior software platform. Unfortunately it became another example of a great product that failed to break into the mass market despite its superior performance.

Great Companies defined:

  • Good products
  • Know the audience
  • Talk to heart and head
  • Reinvent themselves
  • Stay close
  • Preoccupied with growth
  • Culture and capability to manage complexity

Rules for Development:

  • Only go where the category is well defined
  • Look for growing markets (20%+ growth)
  • Go where 2 or 3 trends clash
  • Concept to market in less than 12 months

Building on Yara’s comments of being ahead of time is a bad thing, the concept of attempting to create a category is bold move. Hence Jades new approach of only going where the category is defined.

Too often I see businesses attempting to educate customers of a problem they are not aware off. Typically all this means is very long sales cycles,  slow growth resulting in a slow death.

Altitude’s Michael Pervan gave us a fascinating insight into airline interiors and luxury jet fit-outs.  Some customers spending $60M for a jet then spending another $60M to fit it out. Altitudes strategy was to hit a small niche on a mega market that was to small for the big guys to bother with.

Like wise they have applied the IT outsourcing model to a market that has traditionally focused on in-house manufacture. Instead Altitude have taken the high ground of owning IP, Brand and process.

Michael Pervan gave a great endorsement to the NZTE better by design process, with their key change being around improved team collaboration.

Chris Mardon Energy Mad – gave us some hope for affordable LED like lighting. They are introducing a new technology LES “Light Emitting Snakes” which will be available next year at a great price point.  Ye ha..perhaps Hils and I can ditch those pesky halogen down lights in our living area that keep going on the blink.

Next we jumped into the world of AI and robots with an David Hanson from Hanson Robotics. It was a little freaky, but in the same way fascinating. There is a cool geek like toy coming out soon “RoboKind” that uses some of this great new technology. The prediction I took away – was simulating brain power of humans by 2050. All the same amazing use of computing power and robotics.

 

Quid.com’s Sean Gourley gave us an update on his mission to solve world war & peace with his mathematical genius. Although his keyword analysis tool looking at web activity on search gave a great insight into tools that will be of great use for predicting market interest.

Unfortunately I had to miss Day Two due to a speaking engagement in Wellington.

But I will be back for year ten in 2012 to catch up with many friends old and ones I haven’t meet yet.

For more on MORGO check out twitter hash tag #MORGO or the Morgo website

Thanks all a great event as always…


Advertisements

Differentiation for Services Coy’s

My twin and I are different…

So we all know we need to have a USP (unique selling proposition)  – Elevator Pitch. But what about when you are in the services business ? …”we are the best” or a derivative of it “we are the leaders” fails miserably on the unique test.

Unfortunately unless the output of your service is significant – it is useless at differentiating you, in fact doing a great job is what I call a hygiene factor – something any decent professional will give.

Very seldom, if at all, it is the firm that differentiates the service provider. There is always someone else that has the “expert team” or “boutique personal service”. We need to hunt further than that.

Think about how you choose your last: Dentist, lawyer, architectural designer or business adviser?

Differentiating in the services game is hard, as the string of poor web sites  are testimony too.

My guess it came down to one of these:

  • Referral from a trusted source – the great thing here is price is often eliminated with a great referral. So make sure all your endorsements are succinct and powerful and not hidden away,
  • They stood out from the pack in some way. This could be from:
    • Making a stand eg Being thought leaders or just different
    • You just liked them, because they are “like you”.

Notice I am not talking about a logo or fancy tag line. It is more about your approach, attitude or way you are. Once you are conscious of what your customers like, give them more of it. Make sure that this “way” is consistent across your entire organisation. Have you ever fired someone because they did not adhere to your company values – brand attitude?

It still blows me away when I see people referring to their craft rather than a measure of success from the client’s perspective. Here is classic from a web site “Accounting is our passion,” If accounting is your passion, enjoy yourself. But what can you do for me?

For something completely different check out this law firm www.valoremlaw.com/ (see the tease below)

They are making a stand:  “the billable hour is dead”

 

Check your web site out,  how much of relevance do you offer your clients?

Some more ideas on standing out from the crowd:

  • Share customer stories, highlighting what your customers got beyond your basic service
  • Make sure all your headline stories on your promotional material talk the language of your customers need and success – not yours
  • On referrals, make sure you make it easy for people to refer you:
  • Be clear on what you do and don’t do. give them a simple sound bite to pass on…
    Particularly if there is some overlap of your services with them.
  • Be clear on what market segment you are after.
  • Make sure you have a LinkedIn profile and its up to date (google is great at finding you here)
  • Reciprocate – people you give referrals, will give you ones in retutn
  • Your existing and past customers will give you the best referrals, they know you. Always ask for an endorsement and highlight rather than hide them on your web site. Third party endorsements have an 80% probability of closing a sale.
  • Google yourself and see what people see of you. Do it on an I-pad and see how your web site looks – influencer’s are generally busy people and they steal time by using these portable devices

More GMC articles on Networking or Pitching , or if you want more information specific to  selling professional services I found a great resource here  http://www.marcusletter.com/Differentiation.htm

Breaking the owner – employee attitude gap

How do you get employees to operate as though they own the business?

This is an ongoing dilemma for all business owners.

I have just finished an enlightening book on creating performing teams in this modern age by Paul Marciano – “Carrots and Sticks Don’t Work”

 This book should be compulsory reading for anyone who has staff.

It’s amazing what people managing people, claim to know about leadership – but seldom practice.
Paul has a way of bringing this point home with some simple questions in each of the early chapters, clearly illustrating this point.

When was the last time you said an individual “thank you” to your staff?

I cringe when I hear executives say “people our most important asset” yet there is no evidence in their actions.

Paul like others, I have recently reviewed take an axe to reward and recognition programmes (carrots and sticks), stating that these only stimulate short-term change and never influence culture.  He gives numerous  (20) examples of the harm these programmes can bring into companies. In many cases all that happens is a culture of entitlement is formed.

Paul separates motivation from engagement.  “Employees who are motivated will work hard when there is something in it for them, engaged employees work hard for the sake of the organization and because it gives them fulfillment”

Another differentiation between engagement and not: When I feel highly engaged with a project, I find myself thinking of it all the time-inside and outside work.; when I’m not engaged , I think about the project only when I am on the clock”

Engaged employees do things like: bring ideas to work, when did you last get an email in the weekend from an employee saying …”I’ve been thinking…”, or an employee informs you of problems solved, rather than bringing you dead bodies.

The interesting point he does make is that “it is all to do with the organization and manager and less to do with the employee”.

Motivation is what gets you started; habits are what keep you going.

Habits are persistent and resistant to change and do not go away because we are motivated.

Culture derives behavior and behavior reinforces culture

So given we accept carrots and sticks don’t work, what do we do about it. Paul’s model is based on an acronym RESPECT.

  • Recognition (& acknowledgement)
  • Empowerment (do your staff have the tools to succeed)
  • Supportive feedback
  • Partnering
  • Expectations
  • Considerations
  • Trust

Building on Pink’s Drive purpose, Paul emphasizes the importance of people understanding the context of their role in the organisation and knowing that their efforts make a difference to others and the business.

Some other quick notes I made give you a taste of Paul’s approach:

  • Giving effective Praise:  The winning formula Timing, specificity, proximity, enthusiasm.
  • Lack of training and advancement are the 2 leading reasons for staff turnover
  • “Your Job gives you authority, your behavior gives you respect”

This book is going on my top 10 list to recommend to owner managers who want break the employee – owner attitude gap.

Read more on Paul’s respect model on his web site:  http://www.paulmarciano.com/respect-model/

Paul was looking at coming to NZ in 2012, so keep an eye out for his name on the speaking circuit.