Start Up Blog

The marketing flip

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on February 8, 2012

Once upon a time brands made stuff and told people why they should want it.

Then: Tell and sell.

Now we need to remember that our people need to be involved from the start of the project to create mutual ownership.

Now: Share the process.

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Have a drink on me!

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on August 31, 2011

I was at lunch today and got to talking to the owner of this restaurant seen below:

He mentioned that looking after regulars was important to generate return custom. One of his tricks was to provide a free glass or bottle of wine at the end of a meal. He empowered his staff to do the same. He said as reward and ‘thank you’ tell said customers this:

‘That last bottle / glass of wine is on the house!’

Problem was that some of his staff got the language ever so slightly wrong. Instead they would often say:

‘The next bottle / glass of wine is on the house!’

As you can imagine this changes their view on what to order (Hint: it comes from the top shelf). Instead of where they would normally focus their purchase. The strange thing is that the benefit to the consumer is essentially the same:

A free drink you didn’t expect to pay for.

The problem with getting it wrong is a cost to the business that could be many times higher.

Startup blog lesson: Our words to our audience matter. Small changes can have a huge impact.

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The truth about confidence

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on April 15, 2011

Some one said these words to me the other day:

“It’s easy for you. You are confident being in front of people and speaking in public…”

I thought for a second and then told him the truth about confidence. Which isn’t verbatim, but it went something like this.

Confidence isn’t something people are born with. In fact, it doesn’t really exist. Confident people are those who are prepared to make themselves ‘uncomfortable’. People who are prepared to risk pain and or embarrassment to get something done. They embrace the risk of failure and get so used to failure, that people believe it comes easily for them. They assume it is ‘confidence’. But it’s just that these people accept the tension of being uncomfortable, as well as the potential for failure. And this is the truth about being confident.

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Invest 5 minutes in glass

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on March 7, 2011

This is an amazing piece from Dow Corning on the future of glass in our lives. It really sets the tone on how they will through their products make our lives better. It makes me wonder why more startups and large brands are not creating films about the future, and how they will shape it in a positive sense.

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An advertising lullaby

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on December 29, 2010

Some more brilliance from George Carlin. For marketers and entrepreneurs alike it’s a great reminder of the value of language and how that can be used to create a benefit perception in peoples minds. Although, I’d recommend the picture we create is one of authenticity. Enjoy!

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Email is a not a compass

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on November 9, 2010

The problem with email is that far too many people let it be the compass of their day. They refer to it religiously, checking it with every spare moment they have at their desk.

Maybe some new information has arrived?

Maybe they should use it to justify a change in direction?

Email tricks us into believing that we should stop on the path we are heading down and change direction, react to micro pieces of data. We often know it is a detour from the desired destination, yet we follow it anyway. When we do this email becomes a self multiplying tool. The more we attend to it, the more it demands. Entrepreneurs time is better invested talking to people.

Email is not a compass, it  is more like a shadow. It reflects blockages that other people are creating, and what we need to do is move out of the shadows emails create so we can see our own path, and not theirs.

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Kulula Air – Eyeball worthy

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on September 10, 2010

I was recently email some pics of Kulula Airlines livery. I’d describe it as eyeball worthy. Because it’s worth looking at, it’s worth talking about. There is no shortage of in cabin jokes from cabin crew while talking to passengers, but few have the courage to paint their personality on the fuselage like Kalula have. In an era of media proliferation, the trick any startup needs to master is the ability to be talked about. Nice work Kulula.

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How to win a debate

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on July 2, 2010

Winning a debate isn’t about proving the other party is wrong. It’s about proving you are right. In fact it’s about proving that you are more correct, even a little bit.

Then, by inference the other party must be wrong.

Although that’s a nice tip, debating is hardly the approach we need in any part of a startup business. The best advice we can give here is to never enter a debate, and let the other party believe they are right. Startups are about building relationships, not sabotaging them.

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Kevin Rudd & getting stuff done

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on June 24, 2010

As most of you will know former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was ousted this morning by his deputy Ms Julia Gillard.

It was a whirlwind event that seemed to start and finish within 24 hours. Though, upon deeper consideration the evidence of such an event was mounting. During the media frenzy last night I made a tweet which is full of relevance for this blog and every entrepreneur. I thought I’d share it below.

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Rebranding – how not to do it

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on June 10, 2010

Recently the Victorian metropolitan train system has not been working very well. So much so that the incumbent Connex trains was sacked and replaced recently.

It’s created an interesting example of how not to re-brand something. And before I rant further, I’ll remind you of the startupblog definition of a brand:

Brand: A cognitive shortcut from which informed decisions can be made.

The brand is always the acummulation of the many interactions consumers have with the product or service. So with Connex, the brand was the overcrowded, delayed, cancelled, crime ridden, dirty train service. In fact much of the bad experience can be attributed to the inherited infrastrcutre. And it’s here that the key lesson lies. Whenever a re-branding event occurs, the brand custodians can’t wait to tell everyone how it will be different this time. They go off and implment a shiny new logo, make an advertisment, and paste the new brand, word or design on all the physical elements that represent the brand.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

The reason the brand sucks, is because of the experience people are having with it. A new word or logo will never fix this. Re-branding should go all the way back to the start. A total product / service re-design, or maybe even an infrastructure update is needed – as in the case of Melbourne trains and Connex. If we want to re-brand anything with success, first we have to prove it’s better with real evidence. Slapping a Metro logo on the broken Melbourne train system will only damage the brand before it even begins. They should have fixed everything first. Even if it means not branding anything for a year or two. Having no name trains running on the tracks. Radical, maybe. Correct, no doubt. Fix the experience first, create cognitive associations later.

For entrepreneurs the idea is simple. Our brand will only ever be the memory of the experience our people had when interacting with us. If we want a new meaning, we need to create new experiences.

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