Good service? Prove it

Yesterday I went to a well known cafe in Melbourne for breakfast. Yes, it had a amazing the decor of a restored warehouse and exotic free range egg combinations, but that wasn’t what impressed me. It was the way they served their ‘non-customers’.

By the time we where half way through our second java a line had started to build for people waiting for a table, which is pretty rare in a cafe centric city like Melbourne. Up until that time the thriving restaurant still had amazingly quick service. But the service I was most impressed with was the service they gave those who weren’t even customers. People waiting patiently outside were treated to complimentary cafe lattes and flat whites. I’m sure they were surprised and delighted at the good will gesture. The tone of the staff there also told me that they gave them coffee because they were genuinely sorry they couldn’t seat them immediately. They meant it, and it wasn’t a promotional ploy. Something we’d never see from a chains store or large corporate. They’d be more concerned with wooing ‘non-customers’ that rewarding their ‘sure bets’. I say they’ve got it back to front.

The reality of the complimentary coffee is that it sent out a good vibe, and cost very little to do. And the benefits? Well I’m already blogging about it and put it on my twitter stream which goes to many thousands. I’d also say that rewarding those you’ve already got, is a far better investment than investing in those who’ve never helped your business. Something all startups should take note of.


Car smash marketing – Rebecca Black

I’m not about to make any comment on the song Friday, or about Rebecca Black. She seems like a nice enough kid having a crack at the music industry.

It is interesting how anything has a chance in a zero cost media world. Sure, not everything will cut through, but in 1991 Rebecca didn’t stand a chance. She had no where to put her song (Youtube), nowhere to sell it (iTunes) and no one to spread it (Twitter / Facebook ). The invention of all this infrastructure made it possible. The thing that is different about the infrastructure versus 20 years ago is that cost of entry has been removed. Extremely good and bad start in the same place. And occasionally something unusual makes it through – so long as it is extreme in nature. No-one has placed multi-million dollar media bets on selling Rebecca’s song, so the cost of promotion has been reduced to taking 3.48 minutes from our day, or typing 140 characters. It’s like a car smash, we can’t help but slow down and take a look.

The question it makes me wonder, is if there is a valid strategy in being the ‘worst’? And if there is, how do we make sure we qualify? And if we qualify, how do we then transform?

Love or or hate her, right now Rebecca has 100% share of voice.What that turns into is entirely up to her.



The Jesus moment

One thing we need to build into our startups is the Jesus moment. We have to have one.

Startup blog definition:

Jesus moment: One thing which makes our people come back another time.

it’s got to be so compelling, that can’t refuse to check us out again. it’s not usually a whole bunch of things, rather a single thing we do better which makes us worthy. It’s why they’ll switch to us. it’s what we are focused on.

Brand which have the Jesus moment built it, invariably do better and live longer. It may not be there when we launch, but it must be what we are striving for.


Web Success = Populate & Promote

I recently saw a job posted on a web developer recruiting website. It involved some people looking for coders to make a copy of my web business and livelihood What was interesting was the lack decorum shown in the coder recruiting process where the person said – build me a replica of this website. Here’s a screen print of it below.

I was a bit annoyed at first. and sent out a tweet to assess the mood of my army of advisers on twitter. I tweeted the following:

Not sure what to think of this? A compliment or IP rip off with me and @rentoid as the victims? Help! Thoughts?

The responses were varied, but all were within the theme of this person clearly does not get what it takes. Here’s some verbatim of the tweet responses:

xshay don’t worry about it – we saw a guy offering to build redbubble for < $1000 once. A) not going to happen, B) not about the tech

shandsaker same thing happened to us. Just be confident that $750 and a 2 line project brief is $750 better spent on beer :-)

TimBull if they can only spend $750 to build it, quality won’t be there and they won’t stick it – betcha the coding was trivial part

BLKMGK01 Congrats man. Business must be huge if other people want to start ripping off ur ideas. U should apply to design the site! haha.

BrentHodgson Don’t let it worry you. You know that @Rentoid is more than the sum of its tech parts – & that it wasn’t a $750 job to create.

lukerides precisely…all about execution, so I would not worry…if they do a better job than you, they were always going to anyway!

I pretty much knew this before I tweeted the issue, but it did force me to think about web marketing success, and the success of rentoid to date and I came to the following conclusion. It’s not about the tech. In fact, the tech is pretty low down on the list of things needed for any website to succeed. And if i had to give my nemesis some advice on how to succeed in copying me it would be to do these two things:

Populate and Promote.

This is what needs to be done with any classified style website to succeed, and it takes a lot of time and investment. Investment in  financial and human capital. The problem with being 2nd, 3rd or later is that all the easy promotional opportunities like this are taken by the market innovator. And populating your website to make it meaningful takes a lot of boot leather, which is something many web entrepreneurs are afraid of.


Nice idea, but what’s in it for us?

I took this photo while shopping at Australian supermarket giant Coles yesterday.

I’ll start by saying not returning supermarket trolleys, or worse stealing them is not cool. It probably adds some cost to our grocery bills, albeit small.

But when I saw this poster up in my local Coles, I tweeted it and made the comment that it was reasonably amusing. Then Cameron Reilly, made what I thought was an insightful comment from a marketing perspective:

then I responded with this….

and Cameron finished it off with this 140 characters…

Which to be honest is probably the sentiments of most of Coles’ customers.

I’ll say it again – ‘Incentives shape behaviour’ – on this occasion there is no incentive for customers to care. How hard would it be for Coles to offer a shopping voucher for lost trolley returns? Or some other small incentive? In fact, it’s an insult to their customers to ask for help in a such a one sided manner. It’s very 1970’s marketing.

Startup blog says: respect your customers and reward the right behaviour.

Pro Bono marketing

This is the first of my crowd sourced blog entry ideas as suggested by Christopher Hewitt. Chris wanted to know whether providing services Pro Bono was a good idea for startups.

In a word Yes.

More important than the answer are the reasons. It says something about us as people or an organisation. It starts the brand personification process.

It says we give before we expect.

It says we have confidence in our knowledge and our skills.

It says we trust you not to take advantage of us.

It says we are prepared to a resource before we expect you to become one.

In all it creates an environment where reciprocity is likely. Reciprocity is part of the human condition. In addition, it’s the best way of providing a sample, when providing a small bottle of shampoo or a taste test isn’t possible.

Startup Blog says: Pro Bono is rad.


Update: Viral marketing – literally

I’m not sure if this is viral marketing but it is certainly cruelty to insects.

How else could your startup be promoted by living things other than humans?

Would you want your startup to be associated with cruelty – I wouldn’t.

Also a solid viewpoint here from Xavier Shay

Startup School