Saturday, 28 July 2012

Make £millions by changing customer habits

Make £millions by changing customer habits: by Jason Li 2012 ©

It’s one of the secrets of business success...

Changing customer habits to do what you want...

Just like brands such as Google, facebook and Kit Kat...

Who earn millions from you changing your habits.

(Creepy alert: Please don’t use these powerful methods to do creepy things.)

In the last few years, everywhere I go I see people with a smart phone. It’s unbelievable. I stand on the train platform and people are either texting or on the internet. I’m in the restaurant and people are sharing photos. I’m walking down the street and tourists take pictures on their phone; there’s no such thing as the instant camera anymore. And then I go on facebook out of habit and see people’s new pictures that are uploaded.

Is it any wonder that people involved in smart phones from the manufacturer of the chips, the phones, and even facebook are making all the money at the moment? People are habitually using these gadgets and tools. Go back ten years and hardly anyone did these things. Young people today will not understand when you tell them people socially sat at restaurants without anyone bringing out a phone.

These companies are doing two magical things to make millions by changing customer habits:

1.       Creating value

2.       Changing customer habits

Replacing customer habits

Now you might not be able to go out and create and mass manufacture a smart phone to challenge Nokia. However, you can use training to work on replacing customer habits in your industry.

You may be able to help your customer by training them to use your product in a way that is better than the way they do tasks with their existing product. So let’s say you have an electronics kit that a sound engineer uses, you can train the engineer to get better results with your kit than a competitors. Once the engineer gets used to it, the engineer will continue to use yours out of habit.

Imagine that, just a bit of training will cause someone to start using your product instead of a competitor. (Just don’t show the dog how to beg for steak!)

Adding customer habits

Work with customers to find out new ways they can use your product by adding customer habits. Customers will always want to get the best use out of products and services they have paid for. So if they can do more tasks then they originally bought the product for, they will naturally use it of other tasks. To do this, keep in contact and offer bits of training for additional features.

The best thing about adding customer habits is that the more uses your customer has for your product and service, the less likely they are likely to change to another supplier. Even if your business makes mistakes or does something wrong. The fact that your product or service is relied on for so many tasks makes it really hard for a customer to change to another vendor.

All you need to do now is turn your coffee machine into a toasty maker too!

Removing customer habits

Sometimes you will have a customer or prospect that has been used to doing a task in a certain way for months or even many years, so your focus is training them by removing customer habits.

Imagine you have a customer that already uses your sophisticated software system and only use it at the moment for storing documents. When they create company notices it is normally sent by email or they pin up messages on a company board. If people read the email then they see the message, if not, it’s just one out of 100 emails a day they get.

If you want them to use your intranet system then you might train the administrator to post on the intranet system, and following this, train the administrator how to train department managers to train staff how to access the intranet. You could even train the administrator how to put a link on the emails to the intranet too for new notices and to access all sorts of company information. Now the intranet will be habitually accessed and no-one ever misses a company notice.

So is it really possible for your business to create a way for customers to change their habit so they cannot live without your product? Well, here is an example to show it happens all the time. When you want to know something, have you ever heard people say: “Google it.” Noticed how this has replaced the encyclopaedia. (Another one where young people may never know what it’s like to see a book shelf of A-Z encyclopaedia to research subjects; because our habits have changed.)

If not, can you find a way to train customers to habitually use your product? Think of Kit Kat: their advertising is trying to train you in the habit of having a Kit Kat on your break if you are hungry.

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Thursday, 26 July 2012

How buyers use ‘Prisoner’s dilemma' game theory to negotiate

How buyers use ‘Prisoner’s dilemma' game theory to negotiate: by Jason Li 2012 ©

In the middle of the sales cycle professional buyers want to gain control and put the sales person under pressure; enough pressure so that the sales person will concede and give away profit or freebies: and there is no better way than for buyers to use the ‘Prisoner’s dilemma’ game theory to negotiate in their favour.

Game theory

Economics is a brilliant way for academics to analyse the world in a logical way; and game theory is one of these economic theories that helps you understand the world.

Game theory is a way for economists to draw up situations and see what the outcomes are. Economists can replay a situation as a game and get an expected outcome. Let’s say for example if there is a game where three people try to get a slice of cake, and the cake is sliced into 3 pieces, then all three will equally have a slice.

Zero sum game

However, economists know that not all players in a game play fair: you might get one player that wants to eat all the slices of cake, or get their hands on at least two slices – just because they always want more. If one player eats more than one cake, then one other player loses out. If the player eats three pieces, then two other players lose out.

Usually when there is a limited number of cake and you get one player in the game who is greedy for more than a fair even split, at least one other player will get zero consumption – or what economists call utility (utility is a way to measure use or satisfaction).

So one player gets extra utility by having more than one slice of cake: but at the expense of another player who gets nothing.

If we said sellers and buyers were taking part in a game, then we know that sellers try to win the game by selling more than buyers are looking to buy and by making as much profit as possible. As long as sellers keep selling to buyers, the outcome will be more sales revenue for sellers. Most professional solution sales people try to provide fair value and a fair offer. But some sales people will try to be greedy, so the value and offer is nowhere worth what the buyer should pay.

So how do buyers use game theory to try to get a better deal?

Prisoner’s dilemma

This is an economist game based on betrayal and making the prisoner concede. Here is how it works:

Just think of the cop movies where there are two criminals under arrest. When interviewed, both are interviewed in different rooms. The police offer the criminals the chance for one to walk away free if they are the first prisoner to tell all, before the other prisoner gives in.

Now both criminals before entering the interview process swore to each other that they will give nothing away in terms of names or information. They also agreed before being arrested that they would both be ready to go to jail for the full term.

The problem in this scenario is that each criminal cannot listen to the other person’s interview and only rely on feedback from the police. Oh, and don’t forget, the first to concede the information that the police wants can walk away free. That’s really important in this game when you are sat in the interview room; because you don’t know in the real situation how close the other prisoner is to breaking.

In this game, how much can you believe what the police are telling you is absolutely correct, or that the information you get from them is exactly how you interpret it? And if the other prisoner concedes, would you feel stupid for believing the other prisoner that they said they would not give any information away?

Buyers control the process

In the business world professional buyers take the sellers offer and will say:  “Thank you, we will think about it,” or will have a meeting next month... and so on. What they are doing is pumping you for information, then stalling you, then going to the other seller to see what they offer.

While the buyer is doing this, the power is on their side. They can now scaremonger each seller as they gain more information while interviewing each seller. From time-to-time, a seller will reveal new information which can put pressure on the other sellers.

The other sellers don’t get to sit in on the other interviews with other sellers, so have to rely on the buyer for feedback. Sometimes, a seller will also make a big concession such as a special introductory price or favourable terms which the buyer then informs other sellers.

So why is this happening? There are two economic games running at the same time is the answer.

You have sellers playing a zero sum game against each other seller. In this game there is one buyer and at least two sellers. There could be ten or more sellers in a government tender or for business with a big company for a big long term contract. And in this game: the one seller who is the winner takes all.

The second prisoner’s dilema game is where the buyer wants to gain more from the deal then the seller who wins the deal with them. In this game the buyer gets educated on what is the money they have to pay for the product or service they want to procure. The buyer is willing to play each seller off against-each-other in order to maximise gain by getting the lowest quote, rather than say we think x amount is a fair price and we will pay it to the right company. Simply put, if a product is worth £10, the buyer will play to beat this fair value by paying a lot less in order to maximise their gain.

In the prisoner’s dilemma the buyer is separately interviewing each seller to help them win the game by finding a winning low cost seller offer. This is the tool to ensure each seller concedes to lower margin and better terms. The seller that wins the deal may end up with close to no profit on the deal with barely serviceable terms. If that is the case, then the buyer is the winner in this game.

The next time you have a buyer that won’t make that decision today no matter what you offer, don’t think: “I can’t believe it, what more can I offer them! They must be STUPID!” - you now know that is absolutely not the case. Remember, in a game of poker, if you don’t know who the sucker is, it’s usually you!

Buyer’s tools

So beware, buyers are very well trained and very good at handling sellers. When you hear some words like these on your call backs or emails then you are dealing with a well trained buyer:

·         Positive sounds – we are interested, it’s one on the agenda, we just haven’t got round to it (and not give any reasons why)

·         We’re still looking at the proposal (and then they hang up the phone)

·         Another seller says they can do x for us which was interesting

·         Yours is pretty expensive we found

·         We’ve been loyal to our supplier for years, or it’s not easy to change things here.

·         Send me your best quote (and not willing to have a consultation or invest any time with you)

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Saturday, 21 July 2012

Charlie Sheen sex tweets: Why you must appeal to psychological control

Charlie Sheen sex tweets: Why you must appeal to psychological control: by Jason Li 2012 ©

Have you ever wanted to be in psychological control of something?...

Like your income for the year?...

Or how to keep bored kids relentlessly entertained on vacation?...

Or have power and control over your partner in the bedroom like Charlie? (or any other room)...

Then you need to understand this little-known secret: you can use marketing psychology to help people who need to be in psychological control to achieve their dreams, to get you more customers. (And if you want an improved way for easy relationships then keep reading.)

Control of Destiny

Think back to the day when you started your business, whether it was part-time or freelance. Can you remember; it probably seemed so long ago, when you were so naive and raw, back when you were young, dumb, and full-of-ideas. You woke up in the morning, peeled back the blanket and jumped out of bed; because the world was ready for your high-octane blood-pumping winner’s energy. You felt like Bud Fox in Wall Street and the only way was up; right?

This was your business; you’re the boss: outright. You could decide whatever you want. In fact, to prove it, you could even crawl back into bed. Ha. No boss ever allowed you to do that. But you knew better than your last boss, and you can do whatever you want. You are in control.

This is what every living thing on the planet be in control.

Charlie boy wanted sex, so he paid for it. He wanted sex his way, so he paid for services to suit his needs. Charlie wants to go on to Tweet while he is having sex, and boy does he fulfil every need. Message received. Charlie Sheen sex Tweets are so-o-o his way of feeling in psychological control of his needs, his environment, his life.

Alternatively, people may argue that in fact it’s the contrary, Charlie is getting out of control. But then, can the argument be that most people’s lives are out of control, and apply to everyone. Let me explain.

I like to work on keeping trim with an emphasis on building my arms and keeping my stomach flat. I have an athletic build so don’t want to look beefy. But if I stop working out for just a few weeks I just look slim with a beer gut. If I see the beer gut in the mirror, the thoughts in my head are of me seeing the man who used to play football regularly and work out now giving up to the world of work and middle age. Anyone with me on this so far? And so, I work out like a machine with no feeling or sensation with free weights while watching TV, just to numb the pain of working out; because working out is just dead boring and it is such a chore.

So for me, working out is a way for me to keep psychological control of my image; my youth, to delay the transition of turning into come-home-from-work-and-crack-open-a-can-of-beer man. Of course, I buy weights to build my arms, but that’s only part of the reason I bought my free weights.

Beauty industry

How many adverts on TV show a female proclaiming to using a certain face cream? There must be hundreds on TV daily. Have you also noticed that the models are all pretty, whatever the age of the model?

The appeal to you as a face cream user is not just that it’s a favourite brand of yours, or that the cream feels nice on the skin, or that it keeps your skin soft. It’s likely to be for you to be in psychological control of a number of needs such as: keeping a youthful appearance, maintaining that you are still pretty so that you will not lose your pretty features, maintaining a superior pretty face like the model in the ad so that you are prettier than other female friends or family and keep your place as the attractive one; but ultimately, so you control how pretty you can be.

Think of face cream this way: if face cream did not give users the feeling of power and control over how pretty they feel, would females still buy it; even if felt good on the skin?

Living near schools

I’ve heard of parents who have advised other parents that the best way for a child to go to a certain school which allows their child to get a good education is to live in close proximity to the school. (Funny that because as a child teachers used to say homework determined how successful you are. Why-oh-why did I work so hard while the European football was on telly?)

Now there are plenty of schools in every town and city. But some schools just seem to get more applicants than others. But it never stops parents wanting to take control and find a way for their child to go to a certain school. So what do parents do if it’s in their control?

Parents with the money can buy near to the school they want their child to get into. A real estate agent can show these parents better houses in better locations around the town, but if the real want is the psychological control of where their child goes to school as their priority, so they can control the chances of their child getting a good education, then these parents will only buy in a certain area.

More relationships

I can’t directly promise you have more control in relationships, or get more relationships. But if you can master marketing to people’s psychological control, then you are likely to be more successful and richer.

According to the tongue-in-cheek band Good Charlotte, ‘Girls Don’t like boys, girls like cars and money.’ So you see, in a kind-of-way, I can help you get what you really want. So if you desire a higher percentage chance of more relationships, control your success.
Read more ...

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

How a counsellor like Oprah Winfrey will outsell a sales person

How a counsellor like Oprah Winfrey will outsell a sales person: by Jason Li 2012 ©

I once met a counsellor and told her that a counsellor will outsell a sales person with the right training...

It wasn’t that I just blurted this out at this networking event I went to...

It was just that she was trying to sell me Freedom if I was interested, I just had to go to this entrepreneurs’ event that she was selling for other people.

Telling is not selling

The funny thing is, the people she was lead generating on behalf of for this entrepreneur event had trained her to feature dump me with lots of information.

When I first started in sales I was a blurter, and thankfully I’ve now change. But to help you think of this: Does Oprah Winfrey just speak at people none stop when she is counselling people?

As you know, say too much of the wrong thing and you can lose a sale; and this makes sales scary for many people new to sales as it creates a fear of rejection. It hurts like hell to be made to feel like a snake oil sales person, but being taught bad technique will focus prospective customers attention on your sales skills rather than the value of your offer to benefit their lives.

When selling keep this in mind:

‘Does what you say or do move you closer or away from a deal?’

This is really important in every deal you are involved in. If the prospect has no interest in this, stop trying to feature dump them what you think is right in your mind.

Socratic selling

Then she even employed these shocking Socratic selling tactics on me. Here is an example of Socratic selling, and why some sales people think they have someone right at the end of the sales funnel but are kidding themselves most of the time.

You: “So you know that looking at the sun can ruin your eyes?”

Prospect: “Yes”

You: “You also agree that sun glasses protect your eyes from the harmful sun rays?”

Prospect: “I suppose yes again”

You: “To spend £10 on protecting your eyes must be worth it?”

Prospect:”You’re right it’s not much to spend.”

You:”So it’s sunny today and my £9 glasses will be what you want?” (This is where you think you have an order.)

Prospect: “Let me have a look and think about it.”

What, the prospect said yes to everything. What happened there? Maybe you did not get enough yes’s out of the prospect?

Or maybe the truth is that your glasses are really tacky and cheap looking and a pair of £9 sunglasses do not fit the needs of this prospect? Or it could be that it was impossible for the prospect to not say yes to your questions? And so you fooled yourself because your questions took her down a certain line of answering, and now you believe the prospect is difficult because they said yes all the time but did not buy. How wrong you are in this instance.

Be the prospect now and re-read the dialogue. Is it really possibly not to say yes straight away? Once you said yes, did you feel like you want to buy sun glasses – really?

Now at the same time think of other criteria that you would need to make you buy sun glasses, such as a certain brand or to look good for a first date. If you look back at the questions above, it doesn’t seem possible that getting people to yes works all the time in getting people to tell you what they want to buy.

Done that. So you see, it shocked me when this lady used this method to try to get me to go to this conference. I told her I had done lots of business development already for businesses and her methods were obviously taught by some amateur snake oil sales person.

Now I am going to tell you what shocked me the most. Then I will explain why it shocked me so much: she is a therapeutic aroma therapist. Why is this shocking? These people know how to do a proper consultation. Medical people need to know the problem before the prescribe a remedy.

She kicked all her knowledge and skills out of the window to hard sell and feature dump me, with some Socratic selling added in.

I gave her a few tips to use her counselling skills to find out if what she had on offer met the needs of what her prospects were looking for - which she liked. No one likes obvious trickery used by sales people, and she certainly had a bad introduction to sales.

So why are medical people so able to sell?

Admit a problem

When you are with a doctor, they are trained to ask you a series of questions to found out where you have a problem, while figuring out the best solution for you. At no point do they start off with giving you the answer before you even speak. Even if you have a heart attack and someone was there. The doctor will ask the witness questions while doing their own diagnosis.

The amazing thing about a doctor is that they are taught to have counselling skills too. They have to learn how to and put in practice skills in keeping patients calm and help them to be able to work through their problems.

I once had a friend who liked a drink, we all do. This one was drinking a bit more than most and after some persuasion went to the AA and admitted he needed some help. Now the counsellors there don’t force you to admit anything. People at the AA just keep turning up and are counselled by people they meet, and one day the person just admits they are an alcoholic. Now it has been known that getting an addict to admit they need to change and take action is one of the hardest things to do in the world. I reckon not many great sales people can get an addict of any problem to admit they have a problem and take steps to change. Yet a counsellor can. I’m sure you are getting my line of thought here. That’s why I believe a counsellor has the potential to outsell a sales person.

Black box

All living beings have what marketing people call a black box. It’s the thought centre where all sorts of reasons, stimulus, responses, belief, values et cetera are processed. The job of a counsellor is to get into the black box (inception) or draw information out (extraction) just like the agents in the film Inception.

Now even more impressive is that a counsellor can affect the way a person thinks without the patient feeling any pressure too. How many times has a sales person put pressure on you, or you felt they over stepped the mark trying to “close” a deal, or you’ve heard a colleague saying things like: “this offer ends today. Are you buying or not?” kind of pressure?

Consumer decision making theory

If you have a rush of customers constantly waving money at you, then just ignore everything on this page. However, if you have to compete against other products or services for the same customer then you will need to take on board the information on this page.

If you want a better sales performance, you will need to use a bit more counselling skills to understand your customer. You will have to draw out their objections, beliefs, values, reasons to move closer to a sale or away from a sale.

Open questions

By learning more open questions rather than closed questions, you will help you use your new counselling techniques. As clients feel less threatened and trust you, when their guard drops you will start to know the truth about their thoughts, and where you both go from here.


Facilitation and change management experts also use counselling skills to help management and directors in big companies sit around a board table. I’ve done this often. I might have an end bit of information I want to come away with. But I like to get each person to admit what they want, or what they worry about in working with my company too.


If the decision maker/s don’t trust you then you won’t get the sale. If they don’t trust you then they won’t trust your product, service, company, or what others in their own company think of them for choosing you.

Post purchase dissonance

In marketing, this is the feeling of regret once a product is bought and consumed. The main regret is that the consumption does not equal the expectation at the front pre-sale end. Your job is to ensure that if it is between you and a competitor tendering to a prospect, yours is the one that provides the least regret or downside, as well as most satisfaction.

However, once you ask more open questions and less of a pushy Socratic hard-selling sales junkie, you will get more trust, get more prospects telling you what they want to buy, all their worries, hopes and dreams, and more orders. Think of Oprah Winfrey, trusted by millions and bought by millions.
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Saturday, 14 July 2012

Build sales pipeline and you will build an empire like Julius Caesar

Build sales pipeline and you will build an empire like Julius Caesar: by Jason Li 2012 ©

All empires started small...

Whether it was the Romans or Darth Vader...

Empire builders saw a target region to attack and went for it...

Even after so many victories.

It’s a formula that’s worked so many times over the centuries so why change a winning formula. Although you don’t need to wear a warriors helmut like a Roman or breath funny like Darth Vader to succeed; however, I did come across someone who explained his security services and then pulled out a balaclava to give prospects the shock of what it is like to meet a masked robber and this prop worked really well.

The balaclava chap, just like Caesar never stops prospecting to build sales pipeline. It’s very easy to bag some orders and stop. Some businesses have a scheme incentive where if you hit your target for the day you can go home early. That’s great in the short run. But why not build up a sales pipeline for the week so that you over achieve for the whole week. Or meaningfully incentivise the sales person when they bring in more business, or just leave an hour early. This is a danger for businesses when they have a good day: taking the foot off the gas.

Fill the Ferris wheel

The worst thing that can happen is having a good week and then finding the week after your sales pipeline is small. One way to keep you motivated is to imagine a Ferris wheel.

As you know, a Ferris wheel is always turning. People get on and if you have a queue then you will continue filling the carriages until all the people in the queue are on the wheel. But a problem for the business is that people are continuously getting off once it goes full circle. So if the sales pipeline is small the business needs to keep finding new people to fill the Ferris wheel.

Although it is hard to imagine your business like this when you get orders, a Ferris wheel will show you how easy it is to have empty carriages if you let off the gas.

You’ve got to put in the wood to keep the fire going

Of course, a Ferris wheel is limited by the number of carriages you have on the wheel. (Think of the carriages as the number of orders your business can handle.)

However, if you build a fire, it can be up to you how big the fire is. If you think of the fire as your business, you control the fire; and if you want, it will go on to be a big roaring one at that. The only ingredient you need is more wood. Looking at your business this way will help you look at pipeline sales leads as feeding the fire; without it the fire will shrink. If you want a bigger business, keep thinking of putting in the wood to keep the fire going.

Marketing and selling

When I was a business advisor, I found that many small businesses were very comfortable with their skill set such as being an accountant or fixing computers, but not so comfortable in trying to win new business. In fact, when I asked many said they did things like put an ad in Yell and will do leaflet drops to get in clients.

Unfortunately business doesn’t work like that. Many successful business owners tell me that you can’t make much money by advertising on Yell, and if you do you have to know how to do Yell advertising effectively in the same way an expert uses AdWords keyword advertising.

There are good ways to bring in incoming leads using effective marketing techniques. But it takes a lot of trial and error as any digital marketing or print advertising professional will tell you to test ads that get good response rates, so don’t take it personally if your response rate is low or even none existent. But you do need for people to fill your Ferris wheel so you should also consider face-to-face sales to fill your carriages too.

In fact, the businesses who struggled were the ones who knew internally how good their product or service was but were not willing to step out of their comfort zone to meet people face-to-face. Personally I found initially it is not natural to be good at meeting people, it is a learned process. All the great networkers, public speakers, sales people are highly trained and practice for hours on end on their new craft.

Selling face-to-face to strangers is not really natural but a learned process. But it is the necessary change that transitions a person from say the employed computer administrator to fully fledged business person. I can’t blame you if you hate sales or hate being asked if you are a sales person, but business is really commission only sales. Without wood you have no fire, and no fire means no commission or money. (On the flip side lots of wood means a huge fire and big money: the nice car and holidays await you. Oh yes, the rewards are unlimited!)

So just being good at what you do when you were employed won’t get you a sales pipeline. Also response led advertising or waiting for a flood of referrals don’t always work. You really have to get out there and learn how to meet people face-to-face and win orders.

Easy way to start selling comfortably

However, the good news is that sales can be learned, and you don’t have to be a slick snake oil sales person. In fact, if you are an accountant or can fix computers, just chat and consult your prospective customer rather than start selling, and if they ask for help then you might have an order. Keep doing this to people you meet as an initial step change to face-to-face sales. By just chatting to people you are building a sales pipeline and it will be a more comfortable experience.

Make it fun, talk about the experience you’ve had from changing from an employee to being a business owner. Talk about funny things you notice in your field such as how PCs might take 5 minutes to load up so it gives you time to make a cup of tea. Little things like this allow prospective customers to know about you and know you are an expert and not a typical snake oil sales person. I’m sure you can do this pretty well once you get the hang of it.

You don’t really have to beat people into submission like Julius Caesar to win orders, but you might have to learn how to effectively win work by building up your sales pipeline.
Read more ...

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Use FREE business services to gain new customers within 30 days

Use FREE business services to gain new customers within 30 days: by Jason Li 2012 ©

Giants like Google offer free business services...

And within a few years the owners are billionaires...

Just by offering free business services...

It’s really ironic that companies can do this to make money...

There is nothing to stop your business doing it too!

Free business services company

By offering free services company resources can be invested in providing a sample to attract new leads. Now, you might be thinking that you set up a business to make money, so free means no money. Hey, I did the same a long time ago, and I even thought free was not possible for most industries, but I was wrong.

Let’s take some examples. In the music industry, many musicians will offer free samples to DJ’s to play at nightclubs and radio stations to get free publicity for their tracks. A friend of mine in a band called Cinemawave played at gigs around the country to create a following. Now they have just launched an album. They play after work and weekends and entertain people for free, or at gigs where you get charged £1 entrance fee and there are a few bands on; so virtually free too. They have also posted tracks on YouTube too so you can sample before buying.

I like to learn off different sales coaches and read sales books from time-to-time to improve my sales. Yes it can be boring to read a 300 page sales book. (But then you find a nugget of information to use in your job and it works which gives you more money and that allows you to buy entertainment as a reward for reading boring sales books.) Take Gitomer as an example. He is a sales person who writes and provides coaching seminars to sales people and businesses. Gitomer even provides free business services where you can watch YouTube videos for free to learn sales techniques. Once you are engaged, you will visit his website to learn more. When you do this, you have generated yourself as a lead for his business.


We all love free. Even billionaires love free. You must have seen articles in the newspapers where a wealthy person has used someone’s yacht or holiday pad like Richard Branson’s for free. Famous people always get free entry to the best nightclubs and restaurants because it helps keep the prices and exclusivity valid for the venues.

Free is possibly the biggest attraction in marketing. People stop to look at the offer if it is free. Your aim is to make sure that the offer creates value for the customer; it’s not something that’s a gimmick with no-use as many marketing people have done in the past. This is your chance to prove of value to the prospect, whether it is now or six months down the line.

What free business services can your company offer

Let’s say you are a cleaner and want to get more new leads. You may have never offered anything free before, so start small with low cost minimal time investments. You might want to focus say on winning business contracts by using free business services get you in the door to more lucrative jobs, so it’s worth offering free services to places where you can earn more money. An example maybe to help with a free health and safety assessment of the premises in terms of cleaning products. Or an environmental audit in terms of a cleaning viewpoint. (Make sure you get a decision maker to take part in this.)You could create a Word document which has interesting information on keeping the premises clean, computers clean, carpets clean and regular health related issues preventable by good cleaning processes. Or a document on which products are regularly used which are bad for the environment, or bad for skin rashes or allergies, and don’t forget to throw in a few pictures too.

If you are a shoe store, how about a free service such as leaflets on buying the correct footwear for comfort. Leaflets on keeping and maintaining footwear. How to choose footwear for different occasions such as sportswear for running or basketball or football, where the foot normally lands in each sport, preventing sports injury with footwear and so on.

Successful companies using free business services

facebook: The world’s most widely used social networking site used by individuals and businesses with fan pages. They make money from sponsored facebook ads.

Ning: An online community software site for creating your own social network that allows you to trial for free for a month. After the free period you can continue using the software by paying a monthly subscription.

Blockbuster: You can rent films for free when you first join as a member. Thereafter you pay depending on which service you choose.

Tesco’s: On every shop you can collect club card points. Every month you can redeem depending on how many points you've collected which equate to vouchers. Each voucher is basically free money to spend at Tesco’s. It’s hard to resist going back if you have free money!

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Saturday, 7 July 2012

4 genius marketing tricks the Stone Roses used to sell out their tours

4 genius marketing tricks the Stone Roses used to sell out their tours: by Jason Li 2012 ©

They sold out their tours in minutes...

How did they do it when?...

They’ve not made a product for years...

Or placed any ads in newspapers or magazines to promote their gigs?

Last weekend I had the privilege of attending the Stone Roses reunion concert at Heaton Park in Manchester. It was amazing and to be fair, I was not sure what to expect when I got there.

All Stone Roses fans know that the lead singer Ian Brown is not famed for his vocals, and the band had fallen out quite badly in the past; so they had not played as a band for years. So was it going to work out was, I suppose, part of the anticipation and thrill of being there.

On top of all this, there were some marketing tactics employed which were pure the band!

1.       Create your own event to capture the market

If any of you have been to a big festival in a field in the middle of no-where, then you know that you’re expecting a different experience from that of seeing a concert in a theatre. So when I got there and saw the set up was more like a festival rather than inside a theatre or big tent I knew they had done something a bit different.

Let’s say the big festivals in the UK are Glastonbury or the V Festival as two examples, what they do is have a big stage with a few different bands playing until the main act comes on around 9pm or so. And guess what, the Stone Roses gig had a few acts playing all day on a big stage, with themselves as the headline act later at 9pm.

Now I went to the Sunday night showing. The Stone Roses also had back-to-back shows on the Friday and Saturday before I went, and the acts leading up to the Stone Roses were different to the ones I saw on Sunday. So in effect, they created their own weekend festival with them as the main act every night.

‘The Stone Roses made more money by holding their own weekend festival rather than being one act playing at a festival’

Genius idea: Now let’s see how you could do the same. Could you hold your own event which your business can profit? It could be anything like a networking event or a business event with your business as the main headline act?

2.       Karaoke singing with the masses

When the Stone Roses were playing there was a sea of people singing the words, a bit like a huge karaoke gathering. You could just make out the voice of the lead singer Ian Brown singing; but hey, even Ian knows not everyone is there to hear his angelic singing.

It doesn’t matter though. These are a hard core of fans that have travelled from all four corners of the earth to be there. So only dedicated fans would know the words and enjoy this event.

Genius idea: Can you create a dedicated following, your own herd or tribe. It doesn’t have to involve everyone. It just has to suit your target market.

3.       Use PR buzz first before paid for advertising

When a lot of the big acts like Coldplay or Madonna launch a tour they spend thousands on advertising. In London I have seen ads on posters at many tube stations. It must cost a heck of a lot of money. But hey, it suits me to look at their posters rather than trying to avoid eye contact with a meaty stranger.

For the Stone Roses, because it was such a big story, all they did was launch a story to the press when they reformed and were announcing the tour. Instantly this hit all the social media and journalists were announcing the information everywhere. The costs were minimal, the impact enormous.

Genius idea: Create a story that creates a huge buzz so that your business is the centre of attention.

4.       Bring out new album

Now you have all your fans actively back on board again. What’s the likely-hood of the fans getting friends on board to listen to the music and listen to how great they are? Yep, very much so; I can’t stop talking about them, I feel like a big kid. The only times I get this excited are when the big Champions League games with Barcelona football club are on ITV1.

As the Stone Roses are now signed up to create a third album, there is a ready market with existing fans. Additionally, as suggested above, the existing fans will convert new fans to start getting into them, and so add to their fan base. And most important of all, a new generation of music fans who never experienced the effect of the Stone Roses the first time around can now get a chance 20 or so years later.

Genius idea: Create more products to sell to your existing client base who will also sell your product with enthusiasm to prospects for you.

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Wednesday, 4 July 2012

The problem of creating new products and services

The problem of creating new products and services: by Jason Li 2012 ©

I was part of an inventor network...

With some genius’s like the Doc in Back To the Future...

Where enthusiastic inventors created lots of brilliant ideas (and gadgets which even Batman would like)...

And we also brain stormed workable new ideas and work-arounds. In the main, the message I always heard was create an invention to solve problems.

Invention to solve problems

I heard the best way to find that eureka moment for inventors and know which new product or service to create was when they started finding new problems which they thought other people would want solving too. Most projects started this way.

But me being me, I used to add:

“How much would people really pay to use your product to solve that problem?”

This is really crucial and may look like a very trivial question. But believe me, I have seen enough people spending years of their lives either close up or on television programmes creating products that just solve problems.

Unfortunately, just solving problems does not work.

So what’s wrong with this? Well we all have problems and I’m sure we’ve all said if only someone could make this widget do this then I’d use it. Sure, who wouldn’t use if it made your life better. If you ask people if they would use it, you will get a yes answer 9 or 10 times out of 10.

But ask people how much they will pay, and that is a completely different question, a different curve ball, not even in the same ball park. It’s not even asking: “Would you use it?” or “Would you pay for it?” which is a better question.

“How much will you pay?” will tell you the truth.

Sometimes, the truth will hurt. You will get a hesitant: “possibly £5-£6”, or someone may flip your widget around and um and err not sure. This is what you need to hear. If you give it to someone and they say: “I will give you £10 now if you have one,” and hear this quite a few times, you know what that means, no need for me to say anymore.

Which project

By knowing which projects people will definitely pay for, you will narrow down from really good potential projects to commercially viable projects.

As an example, you might have a great new product for hair removal without having to use hair laser treatment. Hair removal pays good money, and lots of people may have hair in places they want to tidy up. But many people in reality get by without it. If they don’t then they will pay for a good proven method to remove hair. So by asking someone if they will use your product you might get a yes. But ask how much they will pay today and you will get real feedback. This will save you years of time working on something that might not get payback. Now I’m not saying don’t create on the first rejection if no-one says they will pay as it maybe that your product needs some fine tuning.

Letting the customer decide what you make rather than your big idea deciding on commercialisation will give you a better chance of making a commercial success. Any ideas that get rejected might need fine tuning. But at least in the short run you are focusing in the projects that have the highest possible chance of being profitable.

Outside in/ inside out

So what is a better way to create a product that the market is more likely to want to pay for?

Most people start to think of a product and service and say this will sell well, which is all well and good. This is called inside out – a bit like an inventor that creates hit-or-miss products showcased on the TV programme Dragons Den. The inventor loves it but none of the dragons see why anyone else would buy it.

But try this exercise by being the customer called outside in. Take one of your products or services and create idealistically what your target market would want to use. Remember, it’s not what you want to use, although some of the features are likely to be used by you too. Think of everything from the product, the components, how to use it, service aspects, expected results, packaging, and lastly pricing.

Brain balancing for sprucing those creative juices

For years I just used my right hand for virtually everything. So according to scientists I used just one side of my brain. One day I forced myself to learn to touch type and can use both hands and fingers equally; and both sides of my brain, a bit like a pianist when I type.

Scientists have said that using one hand means you regularly only use one side of your brain. So you are only using 50% of your potential. Recently, I have tried to use my left hand to do other things to work my other side. This means that creatively I might come across an idea and be able to run with it better as my whole brain can consider the thoughts. Soon enough, I will be able to understand Einstein’s theories. Although I cannot prove it works: yet. Why not try it, you have nothing to lose. Here are ways I have tried to use my other side of my brain:

Left hand brushing teeth

Writing letters and numbers on a pad

Holding a cold drink with my other hand

Opening the door with my left hand

Moving the cursor with your left hand when reading the internet

Juggles some balls at the pub quiz (I dare you)

Disrupting the market

I have heard this phrase from time-to-time. It’s a phrase entrepreneurs have for mission statements to say they have a new or better offer for the current market that customers will prefer, and that their business is the only one that is introducing the idea to a steady market. In fact, many businesses that are disrupting the market are very successful. Here is some proof:

McDonalds – standardised food in every town which cafes once dominated

Apple – hardware and consumer gadgets which Sony, HP and Nokia once dominated

Zopa – get eloans provided by people and not banks.

Google – a way of searching for results which Info seek, Ask Jeeves once dominated

So you should be able to take some ideas here and create some new products and services which people will pay for. The best thing about the methods above is that it’s so simple to do; by just focusing on creating things that people are willing to pay for. So what can you create this week that people will pay for?
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