Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Earlybird parking - selling a perishable product

I sometime work in the city and can often vary my hours as I like. If I am prepared to park a car by 9.30am and leave after 3.30pm I can get my parking for $12. If I park during the day it costs me about $5.50 an hour, up to about $21.

So, the carpark owners are managing the vagaries of having a product that is perishable - if the carpark sits empty on a day you'll never get that day back. So it seems they set an earlybird price so that they get at least some cash through for those spaces.

But the process encourages people to commute via car, to some degree. If I caught a bus at the same hours it'd probably cost me $8. The $4 gap is not really worth it, given the inconvenience.

It's probably time I start on my bike again anyway.

A touch less resentment for Target

After buying a $290 microcamera I was asked if I wanted a bag for it. I answered yes and resignedly offered to pay for it.

Very chirpy, the sales girl answered "no, we have plastic ones now". Target has obviously decided it's worth paying for the bag so as not to become a picture of resentment in their customers' homes.

Sure Target can afford it when they're making $290 sales, but I still don't think Coles and Woolies can really afford to be reminding me that they've cost shifted onto me in the name of the environment.

MBA whiteboard

We were talking about segmentation and I was arguing that the best way to go is to consider the needs of different customers and how those needs translate to differing importance ratings on a range of attributes.

So we thought up the segments and some attributes. Next week we'll talk about the decision process.

SMS texts are a 6500% markup

This is not a news flash. The articles I just found are all over a couple of years old.

But it doesn't surprise me. The idea of pricing, from a marketing perspective, is to charge for the value you provide, not what it costs you. It's why the only use for cost plus analysis of prices is to gain some idea of if you are slowly going out of business.

And, in most cases the 15c price for a text is only notional these days. Texts are bundled with voice minutes, data and in many cases a cool new handset.

All very straightforward.

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

"Good Service" is sometimes as simple as "doing what you say you will"

I've been thinking about the marketing of services a bit lately.

Strangely, almost all products have a substantial services component. Sometimes it's really obvious - like when a punter calls the RAA from the road (without a membership) and realising the extra work involved, the call centre person mutters "I knew I shouldn't have taken this call, I was due to knock off at 4".

Or when a resident call SA Power Networks with a question they'd researched very closely, and getting clearly incorrect advice ask for someone further up. After they tried to shout me down I was begrudgingly told to email customer relations, who gave me this response a day later:

"I would presume SA Power Networks would be responsible for maintaining clearance around them. Customers are generally only required to maintain clearance around the ‘private supply line’ within the bounds of their property."

Independently a tree clearing team advised me three week later that they were to clear my lines, soon.

They're all very obvious service problems. But I'm the most impressed with Domino's Pizza. Simply in that they "Say what they're gonna do, and they do what they say they're gonna do". Hence the fact that I have ordered on their (easy to use) website about a dozen times, and always been able to rely on their "Live Pizza Tracker"

Every time I've turned up for a pickup I've walk past ten people who simply turned up and ordered. The pizzas have always been sitting there, waiting for me. Great service.

The mechanism of persistence

In some ways, persistence is paramount.

Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

Calvin Coolidge
30th president of US (1872 - 1933)

The competing thought is Seth Godin's "The Dip", get out quickly and do something you're better at (aka, "Fail often, fail forward"). I quite like that too.

But if you're wondering about the mechanism of pushing through the pain barrier to eventual success, you could do way worse than:

"If You’re Not Good Enough, Just Do This One Thing Over and Over and Over… and Over Again."

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I love what the Adelaide Fringe does

I don't think I've ever been to a Fringe show. Not deliberate, I just haven't. I've been to the Garden a few times and around town when the celebrations are on. It's pretty fun.

But what I love is that the Fringe celebrates freedom. Freedom of thought, freedom of speech and freedom of action - within sensible boundaries.

So - come heckle Christ, get your gear off in a burlesque show, read naked in the garden. It's cool. I love that the Fringe celebrates this freedom. We must protect it.

So put the security on for the Christ show. As a taxpayer I'm happy to see the money spent that way. I'm happy to see that the show goes on, and I'm happy enough to see others protesting the show - within sensible boundaries. It's a free country. God bless that freedom.

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Honesty: Slipper and Thomson reinforced it for me

Perhaps I'm a slow learner. But this dishonesty thing really seems to be a shit deal.

I recall when I stayed at a motel in Ballarat twenty five years ago. We had left before anyone woke up and had checked out (paid) the night before. In wonderment I'd told a friend that it's amazing - we could have skipped out without paying. And this friend was laughing as he brought me to reality:

"Sure, or you could have gone in there with a gun and asked them to empty the till"

So a long time ago I'd got the message that just because you can get away with a thing doesn't mean it's right to.

Another challenge is the nature of games we play in convincing ourselves that we're OK. You work an 18 hour shift in hospitality, paid for eight, and then take a bottle of wine as you leave at 4am. OK, right? No, not OK. The old "two wrongs not making a right". Just two lawbreakers.

I see two downsides to getting away with sneaky stuff, even if you can justify it to yourself:

1/ You cheapen yourself
2/ You can never not have done it.

I see two pollies who wish they could go back in time and not have charged hookers to their company credit card, or not have taken personal tours of the winery district on company Cabcharge cards. I know this is a purely rational reasoning and makes me seem Machiavellian. But regret lives with you forever and the time to go back and fix it is now, for all those potential regrets in the future.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Unfriended: It's not always personal

Let's not take the word "friend" too literally. I have 530 people on FB. Unfriending is not always a personal thing. Even when it is, it's often no big deal.

In the same way I will delete a comment of my own if the stream that follows degenerates into a flame war. I won't delete individual comments - that's not fair - but I will delete the post if it gets a little trolly. If you want a soapbox then start a blog, don't hijack other people's walls.

Similarly if I'm seeing lots of posts from people I hardly know making comments I consider dopey, or forcing issues I'm not interested in, I'll probably defriend that person. It won't be a late night "they make me so angry" action more like a cocktail party "sidling away". If I'm at a social function and have had enough of the conversation I'll discreetly drift away. That's what I'm trying to do on FB.

Back to defriending. I can recall at least two - Portia Morgan (Roy Morgan Research) and Michael Strickland (Skydiving). I think my streams were irrelevant to them at the time, and Cullen got culled. No biggie, I've seen Stricko a half dozen times recently and the point didn't even come up.

So, if you all of a sudden see me on the "people you may know" list and think "the bastard" don't worry. I probably don't feel that way about you.

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Monday, February 10, 2014

Worry About Being ‘Employable’ not ‘Employed’

This is an email I just received from Ken Phillips, of Independent Contractors of Australia. I'm coming up to two years since I've been on anybody's payroll. Sure, I have major (anchor) clients and it'd be no fun if they went out of business or stopped using me but it's better to have some businesses as major clients than as employers.

As an employee I was often desperately nervous that the business would fold (or lose volume) and employing me wouldn't make sense to them. Keeping another person's business strong was something that I was never invited to do, except from within my narrow job role. I was simply sitting in the back of a truck that someone else was driving. Anybody who watched me sit in the cabin of a Cessna 206 the other day as the pilot landed our plane knows that a lack of control (over my own destiny) drives me mad.

So, Ken's email was a timely reminder. It's printed here in full - I hope Ken is cool with that. I like all my clients and don't want to lose a single one of them, but it pays to remember to:

Worry About Being ‘Employable’ not ‘Employed’

In the quickly changing world of work we claim that being ‘independent’ is a great social and economic step forward. But there are still those who see what we do as a curse, suppressing incomes and increasing inequality.

Read this and you’ll discover how ‘we’ are bad. However, you should also check the comments at the end of the article from independent contractors who offer a different perspective.

The ‘eLabour’ trend
The change to independent work is not going to stop, however. Our friends in Massachusetts have alerted us to how ‘eLabour’ is changing the face of ‘employment’ across the globe. The Wall St Journal says that it’s necessary to focus on being ‘employable’ rather than ‘employed’. More comment from ‘New Jobs for Massachusetts’.

The thing is, clarity is needed about independent status. In New York, they are working in this direction. The Governor has signed a new law ensuring independent status for owner-drivers. Significantly, even if truckies work for one client, they retain their independent status. This is a commonsense recognition of commercial reality.

Becoming organized to defend our rights!
The New York development is a sign of a push-back against the damaging US ‘misclassification’ laws. It’s also good to see a new organization in the USA has been set up to defend independent contractors: In the UK, a new group has been formed to defend ‘entrepreneurs’:  It’s groups like these that we’re looking to work with internationally to improve protections for the right of people to be self-employed entrepreneurs.

In Australia we’re also seeing some good developments. Robert Gottliebsen in Business Spectator describes important reforms brewing on tax administration for self-employed people. This is the agenda being driven by Small Business Minister Bruce Billson.
Ken Phillips and the
Team at Independent Contractors Australia

‘Be proud of yourself’

PS: Focusing on the ‘personal’ is essential for success in being your own boss. Eve Pearce has supplied us a good ‘thinking’ article on being self-employed and the pressures and the temptations of drugs!

Friday, February 7, 2014

11 dwellings across the road

Further to my "here's the concrete" post.

They're moving on it, which is good. I'm looking forward to having it all fully developed. It can't hurt land values.

Monday, February 3, 2014

A new course to teach: Advanced Wine Marketing

My PhD supervisor - one of them - is a professor of wine marketing. The first academic paper I wrote was in 2002 for what is now the "Academy of Wine Business Research" and have never been too far from it.

I did wine choice surveys in 2008, and customer satisfaction surveys for a wine festival in 2008/9/10. I spent a year or so doing some shelf experiments for a colleague around 2010, but that came and went. I've recently collected, analysed and reanalysed some data for a different colleague's funded research into wine supply chain decision making, and we're both chief investigators on a GWRDC funded grant into the practical use of Facebook and other social media for wineries that has run for two of its three years.

I've taught almost every marketing course there is, from Consumer Behaviour through Market Research to Marketing Communications and Brand Management. I'm delighted to have now been asked to develop and deliver a course in Advanced Wine Marketing. Bring it.

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Lee Kerneghan flying with the King

A story of a kid's chance meeting with his hero. Makes me proud to be Australian - a truly inspiring song.

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Happy song: Wagon wheel

How nice is this? I like bluegrass music anyway and this is close. I heard it on the radio and looked it up, and found a captivating music clip. I just didn't want it to end. And unfortunately the clip does end, before the song is finished. Never mind, I'll go buy the song on a Google play.

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