Archive for the 'Blog' Category

Using Adwords for Market Research (a startup use case)

I have dozens of Adwords hacks but here’s one that’s hugely valuable for startups that helps you identify very quickly which markets you should be targeting.

  • Set up a Google Adwords campaign using keywords that describe your customers pain points
  • Break it up into regions, measure which get the highest impressions & click throughs, also note the level of competition (important in a crowded market)
  • Run it for a month

You can then narrow it down by region after collecting some data to find the market with the most potential.

I’ve done this numerous times but most recently for a client in an ultra niche market.  Their product is very innovative and only some segments of the market are worth talking to in the early days (the rest require education).  Thus we ran the campaign for a month, found very quickly (for under $200) where the main interest was – a specific country.

We also found out, that there was no competition in the market but also the level of interest which was approximately four times the next highest in the world.

Great – now our client can target an area where there is the absolute most interest.  Thus making growth a bit easier.

February 28th, 2010

Marginal value on Commodity Items

If I gave you $40,000 to go buy a new car, you’d probably go away, scan the car yards and come back with a few options.

You can pretty much guarantee a certain level of safety standards, fuel economy and performance.

Unless you’re looking at Luxury Cars the car itself is a commodity.  You buy it for the brand; experience, status…

This is the exact play that firms are using once their product slips into the commodity category.

You see when everything else is the same firms need to focus on the marginal value, the base value is assumed (safety, fuel economy, performance) – but what is the secret sauce? It may seem trivial but it’s the little things which can swing consumer preference.

You need to focus on that marginal value and stretch it, reposition it, make it meaningful to your consumer base.

Clearly the experience is a start, is being your customer a real experience worth sharing?

Photo Credit: Alex4981

February 25th, 2010

How I stopped losing Pens

How often do you find yourself without a pen and having to then ask to borrow one?

You think you have a pen on you but you really don’t, or you’ve absentmindedly left it at your last meeting.

This used to bug me, however it doesn’t anymore, and hasn’t for the last 5 years.

So what did I do?

Simple I created two rules.

Rule #1: I am only allowed to write with a Blue Bic Pen.

Rule#2: I am only allowed one pen per quarter.  When it runs out of ink, I break it in half, throw it out (so I don’t pick up a pen that doesn’t work).

I picked up a box of blue bic pens (and do so every couple of years now).  In 5 years I’ve lost my pen twice (first time as I was quite sick and second time travelling).

Once you put the constraint that you only have one pen, if you loan a pen you expect it back, also if you pick up another kind of pen you realise immediately (hey this isn’t my pen) so put it down.

Also you actually keep a track of your one pen (ideally keeping on you most of the time).

That’s how I stopped losing Pens.  Slightly irrelevant but a nice little life hack.

February 24th, 2010


If you’re not making mistakes you’re probably not doing something worth your time.

February 23rd, 2010

Mobile Business Models

How mobile is your business?

Can it be run off a mobile phone?

Should it be able to?

What’s stopping you?

February 22nd, 2010

Why do we indicate?

Why do we indicate when we drive? Some infer the person in front of me indicating means I don’t need to; it’s a short turn no need, or there are lots of cars I’d better indicate.

The interesting thing is indicators aren’t for us.  They’re for others, we know where we’re going.

Except when we perceive a high risk, we will definitely indicate.  This is where I’m going.  Please don’t hit me.

That’s like a lot of things, if we think things are high risk (or stressful) we will panic a bit, make sure people know what we’re doing.  If it’s low risk we’ll let things slide. However it’s when things are carefree that you probably need to indicate.

February 21st, 2010

Using Google as a testing ground for copy

I did a bit of an article over at the NZHerald about it.  Go have a read.

February 18th, 2010

Going out on your own: Pursuing the Passion 41, 42 & 43

#41: Sell products with low (or no) variable cost
Aim to build products that you can sell with no extra cost per unit, if you can write some ultra niche ebooks, provide some training materials, videos, the cost of selling an extra copy is nill. It is so refreshing to wake up and find you have supplemented your income with no additional effort.

#42: Implement Investing Ethos
Take a portfolio approach to your clients, have some casual month to month steady income clients, some mid risk clients (risk as in non consistent cashflow) and high risk. My magic number is 7, I can have 7 projects total being worked on, in the works, or wrapping up. Often it is 2 steady income, 2 ‘projects’ or semi risk and 3 in the works. (My rough rule of thumb) Depending on your type of business you may need to have less.

#43: Upskill
Upskill yourself constantly and share your new skills (hint heres where a blog comes in handy).

February 17th, 2010

Do you have Variability?

Variability in delivery

Day to day life

In success and failure?

Variability is what makes the ebbs and flows interesting but also meaningful.

You can fight variability or go with it and learn on the way.

February 16th, 2010

The ridiculousness of reducing causes to simple variables

Or using opinion to deduce causes for an outcome.

Have to be honest, the world doesn’t revolve on empirical studies, it revolves around irrational people which make irrational decisions every minute of the day.

When there is empirical research chances are it’s wrong anyway (see You’re Always Wrong).

Maybe it is ridiculous to reduce complex problems into simple causes or maybe it’s these ridiculous opinions or nagging gut feelings which help us find a better solution… and be less wrong than we are today.

February 15th, 2010

What are you doing all the way down here? You could:
- View my about page
- Or for first timers the New Here? page
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