Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Where are You Supposed to Be Now?

No – not about time management.

If you have published a book – you would be nuts not to have it listed on Amazon. Similarly  an audio book or song just has to be on iTunes.

So where should your product or service hang out?

In the middle ages people with similar trades grouped together in the same location. Some professions such as car sales continued the practice through the industrial era – its rare to find one set up completely separate from all other car yards.

So be conscious of this …….new world – where should you be located in the virtual world – separate or together? Which one and why?

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You type “Auckland Personal Development Seminars” into Google and watch every man-and-his-dog shout ‘pick me – pick me’ at you – everything from Yoga to Yoda. – How do you decide which link to follow?

About three down on my list – this sort of leapt out at me:

Seminars – Seminar Insiders
Auckland, New Zealand Seminar Details Overview: Do you Dream of Being Wealthy?
….Compilation of great Professional Development Books to Help You on Your 
www.seminarinsiders.com/ – Cached – Similar

Have a closer look at this site. Open this link and have a look – why does this site work?:

It works because it satisfies key requirements of a good website:

1)     There is emotion conveyed in the pictures.

2)     There is all the normal buttons and confirmation of where you are in the site

3)     Looks dynamic, like a lot is going on – and you are missing out

4)     There are clear things to do with the off-red “read full Story” and “Submit” buttons. (The latter is a horrible word, but defacto std)

5)     The panel in the top makes you associate this gentleman with others – including Jack Canfield of ‘The Secret’ fame – and there’s Anthony Robbins – you get a sense the site is Kosher – or if you have landed on the wrong page – they are doing everything to avoid loosing you back to Google.

6)     The darker colour scheme focuses your attention to where they want to focus it. This could easily be another pallete – say light light blue background and a more orange colour for the action buttons – but the purpose of the background is exactly that – be a supporting background – don’t upstage the content with a “LOOK AT ME” extra-bright colour – unless you know all the rules and make that choice very very carefully for very very good reasons! (If i see another purple Self-help site I will scream!)

7)    Most of all the site is very clear on what it’s purpose is, and every element of the design works towards this goal. There is no fat – no ad-agency creative like beautiful banner taking up half the screen and contributing nothing – no engineering-level boring product specifications that only confuse people.

8)    I’ll repeat point four for emphasis – there are suggested things to do – (“Read Full Story” ) so many websites get the eyeballs to vist – then don’t tell them what they want them to do next!  ever caught yourself on an unfamiliar website saying, “Okay – this looks interesting – now what do i do? – Worse – caught yourself on a familiar website saying this?

Or worst of all – caught yourself on your own website saying this?

In the 80’s proving you could move data across town would have cinched the deal. If you tried to prove that now – your customer would be calling the guys with the little white jackets

Nobody doubts you can coobble together existing technology in some unique way that suits a very specific and useful business need.

Everyone is skeptical about translating that usefulness into value – and into money.

I have seen many people learn this the hard way – including me. Spend time and money getting something working, only to find that wasn’t the roadblock to success.

Imagine how dumb I felt standing there with a technical marvel, focussing for months to get it right and not once thinking about how I was going to get to that first paycheck. Like many others I felt the world would beat a path to my door. The money would happen like ‘magic’.

So next time you have a brainwave, and are about to hock the family car to build a proof of concept / prototype/ demo unit. STOP. Figure out how to sell the concept as-is to someone.

Even a “If I demonstrate my design will do xxxxxxx then you promise to pay $$$$$” is a big way forward.

And if you can’t – you saved time and money that would otherwise be wasted.

And if you are worried that if you tell someone they will take the idea and copy it – then your idea needs more work. Because that is exactly what WILL happen sooner or later

And if you find the idea is not quite what people want – relax – you are doing market research for the real world-changing idea!

So follow the money honey – how do you get from right here right now to that first sale?

Want to know if an idea passes the cool test – or sucks? Ask your teenagers. Chances are – if you can explain it before you loose their attention span – AND get a reply – its a good-un. If they switch the iPod back on – well – you already knew the answer.

Not got a teenager – borrow one. Most parents will gladly lend you one of theirs if you’ll just feed them for an hour – or better yet – play taxi driver and take them wherever they want to get.

I should know – I am one (well a reformed one perhaps).

Reading Alan Cooper’s excellent book “The inmates are running the asylum”. Pure music to my ears. Alan writes with clarity about a subject I have been passionate about for years: Good design beats technical features.

If your income is even remotely connected to technology you should rush out an buy this book before anything else (well – get dressed first!).

I would agree with the sentiment behind ‘you get what you pay for’. But once in a while an exception to the rule rolls along:

i was called in to advise the owners of a start up company recently. Their IT project was going awry and they wanted my opinion on what to do about it – normal enough sort of request I get too frequently. The answer however was not the normal ‘You tried to cut corners…..get what you pay for’ one.

In this case the client had done the inital requirements steps well, and accepted a fairly expensive quote. The quote was not the most expensive, but an order of magnitude larger than the cheapest one.

Turns out they bought into a slick sales pitch with little technical competency under the hood, cost and time overruns and the rest. Yes there are obvious lessons to learn here.

Now they are looking at their options including adopting an alternative vendor. The vendor that most fits the bill – was the cheapest in the first round. A well established international vendor with a solid track record – who sells themselves too cheap in this market. The result – they gather suspicion rather than orders. Again – nothing new here – heard all about price-positioning before.

This story is interesting becuase it shows how wisdom on both the vendor or the customers part could actually help mitigate the follies of the other – that ignorance on both sides is needed before such a tragedy can occur.

So next time you find yourself wishing the customer or the vendor had more – whatever – look at yourself and think about what you must also be lacking in order to manifest the situation that troubles you so.

Dominoes is an oft quoted business case of a beautiful business strategy shouted as a  byline

“Fresh Pizza delivered in 20mins or its free”

Great strategy – and they changed the rules of the market.

But it is not always smart to tell the world what your strategy is – ask any General….

Google will tell you their mission anytime – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”

Google doesn’t tell anyone its strategy. It keeps a whole industry full of commentators employed trying to second guess the significance of a given purchase or announcement.

You can bet it is as clear and clever as Dominoes, but like the Generals, Google has reasons for not revealing it. Maybe the reason is just to keep people guessing – and talking about Google? Who knows.

So what about your company strategy – what advantage can you gain by shouting it – or keeping it close to your chest?