Start Up Blog

Loving your customers – celebrity style

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on July 8, 2014

At Tomcar we seriously love our customers. It’s a highly personal interaction at this early stage in the business, so we both take it personally, and make it personal. We care about how our cars perform for them, and how they make their working lives better. We’ve recently been documenting the delivery of our vehicles and making some short films about it.

Yes, we know it doesn’t really scale as a business model.

Yes, we know that major car manufacturers would never do this.

Yes, we know that it makes us seem like small fry.

But here’s something else we know: Doing things which do not scale in the short term, is what gives startups a chance at scale later.

Here’s a little video of one such unscalable activity. Oh, and if you buy a Tomcar, you’ll get your personal movie made too.

- – -

So a question you might want to ask is this – How can you treat your customers like micro celebrities of your brand?

Why geolocating is huge

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on March 22, 2011

Geo locating is getting big. Real big. Let’s take Four Square as an example; last year over 6 million people checked into over 380 million retail locations. Something is really happening here, yet the doubters are strong with their voices of incredulousness. They can’t understand why anyone cares where they are, or why they’d want to share such personal information publicly, or with their on-line friends.  Rather than argue, I thought it was worth posing some of the human reasons why geolocating might be so appealing, an anthropological journey if you like.

The web wants to replicate life – Because it is a form of life. It loves to get physical, real and human… because it’s made by humans for humans.

The 3 ‘human’ reasons why geo-locating will only get bigger are:

1. Who’s here?

People want to see who else is where they are. Are their friends here to? it’s a great way for us to cross the virtual chasm into a physical reality.

2. My life is cool – I’m cool.

See how cool I am being at this particular place. it’s so cool you don’t even know where it is, and here I am…. proven via my smart phone GPS. I’m so cool, I’m teaching you the cool places to be. And I’m showing you how mobile I am and all the cool places to go to – like SXSW.

3. Reward me.

Heck, If I’m going to get a takeaway coffee everyday, I might as well go to the place that gives their Four Square mayor a free espresso on Friday or rewards you after X check ins. You want me to be loyal? You better reward me.

E

I feel like we are only just starting to see the potential of geo-locating in terms of startup and marketing. It really does feel like the missing link between the virtual and the physical. And for those who are concerned about privacy, like all technology, our choice is a simple one:

Embrace it, or miss out on the benefits.

twitter-follow-me13

Famous to the family

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on January 13, 2011

Seth Godin has an interesting idea of being Famous to the Family. Which is similar to my definition of cool: the stuff that matters, to the people who care.

This short interview is a 5 minute investment worth making.

Next steps:

  1. Decide who your family is.
  2. Build them stuff they really care about.
  3. Enjoy doing it enough, to be able to continue without riches.
  4. Be patient.

twitter-follow-me13

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.

twitter-follow-me

How hard you worked is irrelevant

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on June 21, 2010

It’s what we create for the people who care. The truth is we never know how hard it was to deliver the right product, at the right place at the right time. We only care that it was.

What we (the entrepreneurs, producers, marketers) had to go through is not part of the consideration set. It isn’t charity, it’s about them. So if we nail it and deliver the project quickly, we needn’t feel guilty or less deserving. Likewise, if it took us 5 years of hard working weekends and nights, that’s also no reason to feel a level of entitlement. We need to feel what they feel – underwhelmed or overwhelmed with what we deliver, how we got there is far less important.

twitter-follow-me

Know what you’re selling

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on May 27, 2010

It was Friday night and I was having a drinks with colleagues who were discussing the relative taste profiles of various beers. I went on challenge the crowd that they wouldn’t know which beers was which in a blind taste test. None of them believed me.

Turns out it’s true. I once worked in a marketing role at Fosters, and 90% of beer drinkers cannot pick any brand within the same type (eg lager, pillsner, bitter ale). Beer is not bought on taste, it’s bought by brand. Sure, there are other factors which come into the decision like availability and price. But both trail and subsequent loyalty is never about taste.

So we have to know what we are selling. Not in the primary sense (the physical product) but in the secondary sense, the real motivation which makes us choose brand A over brand B. And in most categories it’s not what it seems

Beer = fashion

Electricity = company interactions

Coffee = socialisation

Cameras = memory library

For entrepreneurs the message is simple, we must know what we are selling. It’s most often how we market the secondary benefit which will drive our brand over the competitor.

twitter-follow-me

Convention busting – retail

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on April 11, 2010

Long held wisdom in the retail industry is that items must be displayed on shelves by category. Idea being that we know what thing we are looking when we shop. But what if we’re just browsing? What if we don’t want anything in particular? Bring on Smiggle – stationary retailer who display their range by color.

Eyeball worthy…. I better go check out what they have in purple.

They aren’t the only ones moving towards it, as  on line retailer etsy also display their range on line by color, with an amazing interface – check it out. It just works.

What other conventions need to be busted in your startup category?

Startups and Standups

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on March 16, 2010

Listening to an interview with Jerry Seinfeld he said something which sounded like good advice for Startup Entrepreneurs.

Here is what he said verbatim:

“Your write and you write, and you don’t know if it is any good. You have to get up in front of an audience to find out if this is any good. You always have to try things, and the audience kind of writes the act for you in a way. They say, keep this, get rid of that. And you use them as a judge. They are the judge.”

It seems success in most enterprising professions are about being guided by your audience or customers. Testing, refining and constantly iterating.

Startup blog says: Real market feedback, is the only way to test any written plan. It beats research every time.

twitter-follow-me

Good Guys, Smart Guys

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on January 29, 2010

♫ Come in and see the good, good good guys. Pay cash and we’ll slash the prices… ♫

If you live in Australia, you’ve seen the TV advertisement and heard the jingle. It’s a pretty simple proposition. It encourages customers to negotiate a price. I went to the Good Guys to buy a fridge and negotiate like everyone else does.

After we cut the deal and agreed on a price, I proceeded to pay in cash, when the sales guy said; ‘Credit card is fine. We are not that strict on cash payments these days.’ So I paid using my card.

It got me thinking about the truth of the Pay Cash and we’ll slash the prices tagline / tactic. It is a simple point of difference and traffic generator. The idea of the cash payment is really something that can only work on a micro level. A large retailer couldn’t dodge the tax man through taking cash payments and justify provide an unusually large discount. The supply chain has too many parties involved.  Rather, it is used to appeal the the customer who thinks they are getting a better deal by paying cash. It’s perception marketing. The insight for startups is this: if this works for the customer, that’s all that really matters.

twitter-follow-me

Be needed

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on December 23, 2009

Our job as entrepreneurs is really to build a business in which people depend on. The best we can possibly hope for is having a group of people at both ends of the value chain who really need us. Not just customers, but suppliers as well.

Suppliers who need us to succeed so they can feed off our success. Customers who need our stuff to get through their months, weeks or days. When we are needed, we are on our way to have a solid business.

Do your people in your supply chain need you to exist?

twitter-follow-me

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,205 other followers