Start Up Blog

How not to run a promotion – the Chef’s Hat

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on June 4, 2010

I had a discussion with Luke Waldren who had a very poor customer service experience from the Chef’s Hat in Melbourne. For those who don’t know, the Chef’s Hat is regardred as the premier retailer in our city for restraunters, cafe owners and hard core Foodies. They sell a range of appliances and all things related to food retailing – except for the actual food.

Luke went down to buy a a Kitchen Aid appliance, for which he knew there was a promotion at the Chef’s Hat retail store. The offer was pretty simple: Buy a Kitchen Aid blender and recieve a free Kicthen Aid knife worth $49.95. A nice bonus offer for consumers. The offer is below – which mind you is on the front page of their website.

So when Luke arrives at the cash register to pay, there is no mention of the free knife. He then proceeds to ask and says. “Hey, isn’t there a free knife that comes with the blender.” The retail assistant claims no knowledge of the promotion. But luke brings out the iPhone and shows the bonus offer straight from their website as proof. The retail assistant then asks for the manager over the load speaker to come and help. When the manager arrives this is the conversation that transpired:

Retail assistant: “Are we giving away knives with these blenders?”

Manager: “if we have to…”

The manager then leans over to a draw filled with said knives, grabs one and throws it across the table to give to Luke. As though he got caught out. As though he lost one of his precious inventory to god forbid, a customer who entered the store because of the promotion.

If you are going to run a promotion. You have to mean it.

We have to advise those who didn’t know about it. We need to share the benefit with delight. We have to share the message that we go the extra mile and create more value than our competitors. If we are going to act like we don’t really want to participate, then we shouldn’t. Or worse, if we are going to treat our customers with disdain, then we’ll end up on blogs like this spreading the bad word.

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Stripped back

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on February 25, 2010

If you live in a western urban environs you’ve seen lots of bicycles of the ilk displayed below:

The single speed, fixed gear, mono color racer with white wall tires. Very hip, very now. But why?

It’s classic one downsmanship. In a world where people strive to have more, where increasing wealth has given many of us everything, the trend of tomorrow is diametrically opposed. The more of tomorrow, isn’t stuff, or consumption, rather experience, artistry and simplicity – the luxury of a stripped back existence. We often see these trends early in what may be considered the trivial, like bicycles. The trend will run much deeper than this.

Leading edge urbanites riding such bicycles (they are too cool for me) are showing the world they are more, but publicly displaying they can live with less. It’s a classic display of confidence.  By wanting less, they are showing the world that they are more. Conspicuous consumption has been a preferred method for people displaying self worth for most of the Post world war 2 era. But I really think that this is another example we’ve turned the corner.

The question for entrepreneurs is this: What category or business is waiting to be striped back by you?

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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.

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A great moment in advertising

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on January 11, 2010

There is a Nike commercial that was shot in Kenya with Samburu tribesman speaking in their native language Maa. The slogan “Just Do It” appears when the tribesman is talking. In reality he was saying, “I don’t want these. Give me big shoes.

What they don’t tell you

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on January 4, 2010

It’s easy to get caught up in the brilliant stories of startups going viral to gain awareness, and the simplicity and usability of certain websites turning into large revenue streams. How cool the actual product is, the fact that the founders just built it and the rest just happened. This is the veritable entrepreneurial myth.

Here’s a few things to think about:

How many sales and business development people do you think Google has? Answer = around 5000. And we all thought their non human automated adwords system did it all.

What investment has Twitter made in Public Relations? You think Oprah and Obama just happened upon it? No they were pitched to heavily with a large investment in leading PR firms.

How many Youtube videos were posted by company created accounts? Answer = Hundreds of thousands.

Who seeds the quirky auction items on ebay? Answer = ebay started the game very early on and let the media know.

Everything is not as it seems. Push marketing is alive wand well, just the tactics have changed. It feels very organic and community driven, but the often the community is created by it’s founders and leaders. Nothing wrong with that, it is the job of entrepreneurs to invent said communities. But it makes for better business articles to talk of such things occurring naturally, so the real story is rarely told.

The question for startups is – what tactics can we employ to garner the same momentum?

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You’re in good company

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on January 2, 2010

This blog is an example of compound effort. Yes, just like interest, effort compounds too. In the 4 years I’ve been writing it every month the readership has increased. With no real marketing of the blog. Just good solid writing, be open and honest, sharing insights, and letting the wondrous SEO of wordpress do the rest on Google for me. A few things worth considering if you’re into blogging and want to build an audience.

  • I have written 1 blog entry for every day this blog has been live. Consistency and frequency matter.
  • Every entry is on the same topic. Startups and Entrepreneurship. I stay focused by having one of these two words in every entry.
  • I love the topic my blog is about. I find it fascinating and would still write it if nobody was reading.
  • 70% of my traffic is Long Tail, which means that every entry increases my total traffic flow.
  • It taught me more about digital media and the internet that anything else I have done.

Of all things I have done in my career writing this blog has generated the most value. It has documented my thoughts, improved my thinking, built discipline, created a reputation, generated media coverage for rentoid, launched me as a business journalist in other business magazines, it places me number 1 in Google searches for the term startup blog in every country in the world and has built friendships and helped others.

If you read this blog regularly you are among 70,000 other people every month. So you’re in good company. Thanks for reading.

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beware of averages

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on December 26, 2009

If we added up all the men, and all the women on our planet, we’d find that, on average, the typical adult human being had exactly one breast and one testicle. Yet how many people actually fit that description?

Statistics are used the create meaning. Yet, very often they create the opposite. In a world for of numbers, statistics and analytics (yes, even the Google kind) we are better off deciding what we want to find out, than we are looking at the available statistics and asking what they mean.

Startup Blog says: First decide what you want to find out, then devise a way to measure it.

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Your friends & family don’t care

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on December 15, 2009

Seriously, your friends and family don’t care about your startup. They don’t have to. Sure they might pretend to care, but mostly they’ll wish you luck and get on with their lives.

Of all of my family members, only one has ever listed an item for rent on my website rentoid.com At first this surprised me.  I thought that having a very broad target audience, they’d like it and get involved. They didn’t. So why we feel the need to seed our new startup with family and friends is beyond me. It’s really a waste of time. If they don’t like what we do, we’ll be offended. If they don’t buy what we sell, we’ll be offended. The feedback is less like to be honest than from a stranger. And most of all we are not going to get rich selling to our family and friends.

Startup blog advice is this: Go direct to your real market. Family and friends rarely, if ever, hold they key to startup success. So why delay the start of said success by launching to them?

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The art of innovation leadership

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on December 14, 2009

I was speaking with my brother today when he nailed the topic of innovation leadership in a few words.

He said; You can’t ask the market what they want, you need to invent it, build it and tell them why the future as you conceive it is better.

I really liked his sentiments.

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Incentives

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on December 11, 2009

Financial incentives are only useful insofar as they help people fulfill their physical and emotional needs.

Great marketers and entrepreneurs are able to circumvent the financial bridge and help people with these deep seeded human needs directly.

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