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

The Upsell

The upsell should be an assumption.

Getting someones attention is hard enough (super hard in fact) but once you’ve got it you have one opportunity to do it.

Otherwise you miss out.

How much you’re missing out on, I’m not sure, as chances are you don’t notice it.

Just remember the Upsell has to increase value dramatically, should be a no-brainer but also be very focused around improving the value you are delivering anyway.

February 14th, 2010

Would you pay to participate?

Just earlier this afternoon I was talking to some great guys from Otago University around content and monetisation.

My position (clearly) has been around freemium, providing a basic or standard edition for free then you pay for the delivery of that in a premium format (ie audiobook, physical copy, pdf etc). That’s exactly what I did with The Best Ideas are Free.

The question put back to me was – would you pay to participate?

I think I would to be honest – if you asked me to contribute a chapter or even a paragraph to a book I probably would (Update this doesn’t help with my point please ignore)..

Do you think you guys could help me out? Would you pay to contribute participate in the creation of my next book (or more importantly any other book?) (hey it’s not finished yet so you could easily) if so what would you pay?

Update: I just need to clarify I’m focusing on participation, not guaranteed inclusion so you might pay to go through the creative process, or research or key points or brainstorming – become part of the experience.  Writing a chapter was just an example.

Just curious.  Answer the poll below… I’ll share the results and if you vote, leave your name in the comments I’ll randomly pick someone to send a copy of The Best Ideas are Free (open worldwide).

If you could please retweet, email to your friends or post to Facebook that would be great – I am more intrigued/curious at this stage than actually serious about implementing.

February 11th, 2010



Enter some of your customers pains, see what kind of results you get, engage.


Now download TweetDeck, load those searches as columns, check in once a day.

You’ve just opened yourself to a world of opportunities.

February 10th, 2010

Jumping ship, only to climb back aboard

I think we’ve all done it before.  Forseen some fundamental shift so jumped ship.

However once we jumped ship we realised no one else had.  Or that it looked like anyone would.

It suddenly gets quite lonely as Leadership typically is.

So what do you do? You climb back aboard…. only to find everyone is preparing to jump ship!

If only you’d stuck with your gut and held your position. It’s ironic huh?

When charging  trust your gut, others are likely to come around soon enough, especially when you realise you’re leading them.

February 9th, 2010

Emotional Purchasing vs Rational Purchasing

All purchases are emotional but the rationale behind it can dictate which way it swings the most.

In selling to small businesses where the owners are the operators – they tend towards emotional purchasing. Boosting their ego, enhancing their image, doing something cool.

Larger business can be so segmented that it’s completely rational. Is this the guaranteed safe option. Will this keep my butt covered. It’s rational purchasing.

Once you realise the difference, you’ll be vastly better at understanding your market but also how you should sell to them.

February 8th, 2010

What are you doing all the way down here? You could:
- View my about page
- Or for first timers the New Here? page
- Or maybe email this to a friend
- Or subscribe to get blog updates