Archive for the 'Blog' Category

Hire Good Writers

My favourite page in 37Signals latest book Rework.

Give it a read, at least once, if not twice.

March 31st, 2010

Three skills we can all work on




March 30th, 2010

Should you listen to your customers or ignore them?

Do you do a Microsoft and ask what customers want? Or do you do an Apple and tell them what they want?

These are two sides of the equation that people often flip between or have difficulty deciding on what’s right.

The thing you need to take into account is the market state.

What is the state of the market?

If you’re the big player you want to listen to your customers, keep them happy, you have a lot to cater for.

If you’re the small guy you can’t compete on that basis, you need to figure out tangents which you can take the customer that help make you big.

March 29th, 2010

The completely biased unwritten (but now written) rules of ecommerce

And they are as follows:

  • Do not make me register before purchasing. This is like me going into a store, picking up a t-shirt, trying it on, showing it to my fiance, deciding to purchase it, then you ask me to fill out a form before I can buy the dam thing. By the time people want to buy products let them buy it! Use some special magic to turn their first order into an account but do not ever make me register to give you dollars.
  • Show me what I’m buying! Tiny pictures are useless. What if I want to show my grandma? She will just say go to the store buy it there. Give users all the media you can (without overwhelming them).
  • Don’t show me stuff that I’m not interested in. Set a cookie on the visitors computer and show me stuff I’m interested in when I return. Show related items. Upsells. Things that improve my life (or the product I’m buying). That leads to the next one
  • ALWAYS HAVE A MOST POPULAR SECTION. People like to be reassured, why do we buy fashionable clothes? It’s what everyone else has. Make it easy for someone who needs reassurance, oh that’s the most popular speakers maybe I should look at them. Not rocket science.
  • Make it interesting! Give categorisations, tags and lists that are meaningful. Girlfriend Gifts, Valentines, Ways to say your sorry, Keep your guy happy, Nieces, Difficult Teenagers lists. You get the idea – don’t make me question whether my little sister will need this. Tell me, show me and then convince me she needs it (difficult teenage girl list).
  • Provide diverse (and easy) payment options. Credit Cards #1. Paypal.
  • SSL. Tired argument, but protect my data! Even 8 year olds can tell a website isn’t secure.
  • Do not show dollar signs (where you don’t have to), stick to digits, $50.00 looks more painful than 50.00 (restaurants do this all the time).
  • Also ALWAYS indicate currency. Even if you assume USD do not give anyone nasty surprises.
  • Keep shipping to an absolute minimum, set expectations, free shipping with x spend. People don’t like to be surprised, the last thing you want is them to leave because shipping is unexpectedly high. Give FREE shipping wherever you can.
  • Return Policies. Like the informercials widely offered never used. Return policies allow people to overcome the ‘I don’t know if that hoodie is nice in real life’. If it isn’t I can send it back. Works a dream for Zappos will work a dream for you.
  • Tell me when you ship! And give a tracking code. It keeps you honest and me in the loop.
  • ALWAYS SEND YOUR PRODUCTS IN UNIQUELY YOU PACKAGING. Let me say that again, when I receive my products from you (unless this is a discrete industry) everyone in the office or who walks by my desk should be able to identify it was sent by you. If they don’t, they will ask, this gives me the opportunity to share my story. Who doesn’t like showing off what they just bought? Each and every shipment is the opportunity for your best sales people (your existing customers) to sell to new customers. Facebook is built on this and it’s been a backbone of Amazon since the start.
  • Newsletters. Newsletters are a must – how do I know when you get the new product in? Or there is a line extension? Or hey Ben you have the t-shirt why not get the hoodie? Remember my sizes. Follow up. Remember your customers are a club, a family, respect them and you will grow with them.
  • Ask for permission. Don’t have anything in stock, let me tick a box or get an email when it’s back in stock. I will give you my permission – if only you asked. If in doubt ask permission.
  • Engaging copy. I don’t want the stock standard copy. Let me know what it is, why I should buy it and how to do so. If this product is useless without another component, say so, and give me a link to buy that too (or better yet sell as a pack). Do not ever copy/paste the suppliers descriptions. That sells to people price comparing not to those who don’t understand what a 32gb ssd is.
  • Avoid jargon wherever possible. Using intimidating words like ‘rephrase’ and ‘synonyms’ severely hurt MSN search engines early uptake. Use language that a 12 year old can understand and you’ll be fine. Expecting all your users to have degree level English is insanity.
  • Remember what I looked at before! Amazon does this. I might have forgotten that last time I was looking at a surprise gift for my fiance. If you remind me I’ll probably grab it now that I’ve had time to think it over. It also engages your users very very quickly.
  • Ship everywhere. Even if it’s extremely expensive. For the right product to the right place people will spend more on the shipping than the product (I know I’m from New Zealand and everything is expensive to be shipped here).
  • Have less in your catalogs. Yes the cost of adding a new product is zero. But the cost of clutter is everything. If something is a dog don’t sell it. Sell less, sell the best.
  • Have a blog. Take products, trial them yourselves, unbox them, make videos. Break them, construct them, deconstruct them. Whatever. Give me an angle on the products which I haven’t seen before or which answer my initial fears about the product. Be honest.
  • Allow product feedback. People will buy (or be convinced to buy) just off the feedback. Don’t fret if it’s bad, your customers can read between the lines if that bad review was biased or unbalanced.
  • Do not, I repeat not, ever have adverts to other websites. You’re wasting real estate. If you think you can make more money pushing visitors to others websites where they then purchase, close down your shop, you’re doing it wrong. The google ads tells me you don’t know what you’re doing.
  • Do something unexpected. Give me a nice little surpise. Maybe a thank you note in the order, a gift voucher or some free stickers. I’ll probably talk more about that than what you actually sent!
  • Exclusives! Have exclusive members areas, maybe people pay for them (ie $50 for 10% discount on everything) or newsletter only specials. Make me feel like I’m special (aka status). I might not order but I’ll buy for someone else. #1 Rule in sales is the easiest sales are to your existing customers.
  • Finally most of all obsess about your customers. Give them a call if there are any hick ups, let them know, the last thing people expect from ecommerce is a real life transaction (other than the end product) but when it happens it means the world. They’re really there and they really care.

Track, measure, slice/dice data every which way. Analyse, interpret, make changes. Measure again.  Learn to adapt from what your users tell you through their actions. the answers are already there you just need to find them.

March 28th, 2010

[On] Extremists

The reality is, no matter your beliefs, chances are you can find and connect with other people who share the same views.

That’s great, now you can have a club.

A place for all the extremists to hang out.  Being at the edge is good.  However when you realise that you can always find someone to reinforce existing beliefs… not so good.

You’d be better off chatting to other crazies.  Those that will debate and push back.  For they will ground you, keep you in check but also challenge.  Rather than reinforce.

Just a thought.

March 25th, 2010

Back in action

And celebrating! Esther and I are officially engaged!!

I proposed on the beaches of Waikiki in Hawaii last week and we made the announcement to our families last night (just got home yesterday).  So a bit of celebrations going on over here!

(Will organise a photo and upload it to my Facebook page)

Have lots of stories to tell and share from my trip, and a tonne of new writing to release so stay tuned.


March 24th, 2010

I'm off

Off on an adventure! An adventure indeed. Thanks to Grabaseat and some quick draw purchasing I’m off to Hawaii for 8 days.

As such the blog will be taking a break. Bare with me. Feel free to read any of the archives below.  Did you know there are now over 450 posts on the blog?

I could autopost new blog posts whilst I’m away but hey that’s no fun, oh also I set up with all my videos from radiowammo, feel free to tune in (I have lots more video content coming this year)

Till next week, chow!


Thanks to Kubina for the photo.

March 15th, 2010

Building a company to make money

There are three main models (when looking at the founders point of view):

  1. Build it as big as possible, expand the infrastructure/distribution/value factory, aim to make a little bit on each part in the factory.  Whole aim is around making it bigger than the founders.
  2. Keep it as lean as possible, focus on the small, deliver maximum value.  Aim here deliver tremendous value to make excessive profits.
  3. Build it fast to exit.  Little worries on profitability, reinvest to make profit (for founders) via exit.

Bonus Option
You are so remarkable you create a monopoly.  This adds extra profit in any option (probably mostly in the first option).

Just a few different thoughts/models on how to frame it in your mind.

March 14th, 2010

Going out on your own: Pursuing the Passion 47 & 48

#47: Listen (and really listen)
Listen to your clients, be proactive, give them a call, find out their issues, problems, even if it’s not related to you. This is where your networking can pay off you may know someone that could help them, or a blog post you have read that could.

#48: Don’t pretend
Be yourself, let your business reflect that, you are attractive, maybe not to everyone, but to a big enough group to build a business off.

And that’s it! Well from me anyway.

I wrote this about a year ago one night, when I thought what would I tell someone starting where I started, I hope it’s been of value to you.  If you’d like to read the full thread go here.

Starting out is always tough, it’s not hard though (as millions of other people have gone through exactly the same process) so most of all be prepared to listen, swallow your pride and learn.  I’d rather you became a stellar success than quitting as you weren’t prepared to adapt.

I may turn this into an ebook or short book at some stage (who knows) but if you’ve anything to add or wanted to ask me a question about any of it just send me an email to [email protected] – let me know how I can help.

March 11th, 2010

McDonalds sucker punches Weight Watchers

Interesting announcement made late last week week, McDonalds (only in New Zealand as far as I know) has added Weight Watchers approved food items to the menu.

Copy/Paste from the NZHerald:

“It seems like an unlikely alliance, but Weight Watchers has backed three items on McDonald’s menu.

From today, New Zealand McDonald’s branches are offering three meals that each add up to 6.5 Weight Watchers’ points.

The meals, the Filet-O-Fish, the Chicken McNuggets and the Sweet Chilli Seared Chicken Wrap, are the same meals McDonald’s customers are used to. But 9000 staff in 150 restaurants around the country have had training to make the meals more consistently, with the same amount of sauce each time, so they fall within the points system.

The system allows those on the Weight Watchers’ programme between 18 and 40 points each day, which they must stay within to obtain and retain their goal weight.

The meals are served with salads and water or diet soft drinks.”

I know why McDonalds did this, easy:

  • Help steer image to healthier products
  • Lend some of Weight Watchers brand values (clearly at a price)
  • Generate word of mouth (hey I’m talking about it)

But mostly provide an excuse for people to go into McDonalds (hey I’m getting the healthy option), really though once people are in there they will grab their regular meal.  McDonalds knows that.  That’s why they run new specials, cheap burgers because they know the biggest challenge is getting people to McDonalds – once there they can sell to them.

If you jump over to Weight Watchers Worldwide the first item on their approach is “learn to handle hunger and beat temptation” – dare I say if you are on Weight Watchers giving McDonalds the tick is totally in no way coherent with your mission.  Weight Watchers endorsing McDonalds…fail.

I don’t really need to explain this any more do I?

McDonalds: 1 Weight Watchers: -1,000,000

Give us your thoughts in the comments below…

March 10th, 2010

If it works first time

Great… but what can you learn from that?

Maybe next step is to try stretch or break it.

That’s where the real learning is.

March 9th, 2010

I have never found this to be false

“The temptation to quit will be greatest just before you are about to succeed” ~Chinese Proverb

March 8th, 2010

Risk Homeostasis [please read now]

Risk Homeostasis is a theory that humans have a certain level of acceptable risk and we will seek to keep that in equilibrium.

If we take high risk in one part of our life we will seek to minimise it in another part.

For example, in a Munich Case Study two groups of taxis were monitored for accidents.  One group had ABS brakes installed, the others stayed with the regular breaks.  You would think then that the ABS guys had less accidents right?

Wrong.  What they found was the accident rate was about the same, the group with ABS having gained better braking would take other risks (ie braking late).

Have a read over at WikiPedia.  Watch my video below on RadioWammo discussing it:


It has interesting implications for all change, innovation and risk when you think about it.

Thanks to Malcolm Gladwell for the inspiration in his latest book What the Dog Saw.

March 7th, 2010

Running Theory

I have a bit of a theory around running

The first run is completely all about what you think you can do.  It doesn’t matter how you fit you are – it’s more about how far you go till your brain says hey buddy it’s time to stop.

The second run (and this can be the very next day) you can magically run up to 1/3 even further.

It’s not that you got more fit overnight – it’s that you realise what you can do and are able to push through it.

Each run for the first week or so is just about stretching ‘what you can do’.

Then you hit your actual limit.  You run at that limit for a few runs.  Take a break.  Come back and own it.

Apply this to most things.  Your performance undoubtedly is what you think you can do rather than what you’re actually capable of.

Never, ever underestimate your potential.

March 4th, 2010

Reflection Day

Please read about the Crazies, they will surely change your perspective (and grow yourself) very rapidly.

Start a blog – even if you don’t share it (although you are missing out) it’ll improve everything you do. Significantly.

What’s happening in the Long Term? The bigger picture? Are your moves of the chess pieces this month helping improve the playing field for your next move?

Rethink your networking ability.

Have you thought about your sales copy? Have you brought it back to the basics? Copy 101.

Thinking about going out on your own? Or plan to one day.  Read my Going out on your own: Pursuing the passion blog post series (hey it’s been going 8 months now) there are some real gems there.

Do not quash the clever guy.

Finally (and most importantly) turn up.  And keep turning up.

March 3rd, 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