Email is more popular than social media. It also provides the most direct and personal digital line of communication for turning leads into sales, which is why the savviest entrepreneurs tend to use it. Quite a bit.
Car Magazine is one of my favourite magazines. (Britain’s oldest monthly motoring magazine.)
The magazine is renowned for its photography and innovative design.
But for me it was their writing that won me over.
A couple of months ago I read an article in Car Magazine by Ben Oliver about his test drive of two Chinese domestic car brands: the Great Wall Haval H5 and Geely. The verdict? Here’s Ben: “To the relief of those in the West and the fury of the Chinese Government, most Chinese car makers have learnt little from the established car makers that have been forced to partner with them to get access to the Chinese market, and most are still at least a decade away from producing a globally competitive car.”
While staying on the same topic (i.e. why are some things poorly designed in China), let me tell you about a fantastic book written by Paul Midler titled “Poorly Made in China.” It won a number of important prizes since it came out (e.g. The Economist’s book of the year in 2009), and it has been called a must read for anyone doing or wanting to do business in China today.
One of the most interesting observations in Paul’s book, for me, was this: “It was somewhat telling that, even at the height of the export boom, China did not have a single school of product design worth mentioning.”
So what are the common threads between Ben Oliver’s article and Paul Midler’s book? How much time do you have? Not much? Ok, here’s three things:
a. caring is hard;
b. caring “taste buds” are not universal;
c. caring requires a commitment to resisting the very things that often seem to drive the culture of success—things like haste, greed, and deception.
Quality and design alone may not always translate into business success. But they do tend to deliver something even more scarce: a good night’s sleep. Especially in the long run. If you’re selling something, anything really, can you avoid thinking about quality and design? There is nothing wrong with selling products and/or services, or even with making tons of money while doing so. There is something terribly wrong, however, with selling products and/or services that you know are not even remotely worth their price.
Nov 12, 2013
P.S. I’m not including the link to the website of Car Magazine simply because it does the magazine little justice.
Shortly after I published the story titled Can a great offer be summed up into a single sentence?, I received an email from a reader in Denmark asking me to cite an example of a business that has used this marketing strategy. Here’s one: “Netflix DVD – we’re going to send you movies through the mail and never charge late fees.”
Nov 10, 2013
I spread stories of my fellow storytellers simply because I’m in awe of their art and the only way I can repay them is to share their art with others.
One perfect sentence, by Steve Cone
The ongoing fight for market share in the erectile dysfunction drug category is a great example of excitement, news, and a compelling call to action compressed into a few well-chosen words. As male Baby Boomers entered their 50s and 60s, they created a huge new market for a product designed to guarantee sexual performance. Pftizer was the first pharmaceutical company to capitalize on this need with the launch of Viagra, a purple miracle pill that would never let men down.
Viagra became an instant hot worldwide, quickly captured 75 percent of the market, and generated billions in annual sales. Products from rival companies soon appeared, but none were able to capture significant market share. Lilly Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of Cialis, was particularly vexed because they believed Cialis to be a superior picker- upper. They ran a continuos series of ads for months, with little impact on the market.
Then, much like this miracle product, a marketing phenomenon occurred. Embedded in the fine print required by the FDA for any and all erectile dysfunction drugs was this line: “If an erection lasts more than four hours, you must seek immediate medical attention.” Eureka. With this discovery by a clever copywriter, Cialis changed its television and print advertising and made this line the hero. In print, it was the headline copy you couldn’t miss, and on television, the voice-over ended each spot with the line as it simultaneously appeared on the screen.
Within three months, Cialis gained over 30 percent of the market and later climbed to parity in sales with Viagra. One sentence made the difference. Just one.
_ _ _
How can you be creative? Ask “What would people love?”
More often than not, people will respond well to offers that can be summed up into just one sentence.
Yep, a single sentence.
Break is the important part of breakthrough.
A breakthrough often demands that one simply makes a conscious break from something.
“Having a great product is not the only thing that ultimately makes a company successful.” This is one of the statements the people behind Everpix made as they were involuntarily shutting down one of the world’s best solutions for managing a large library of photos.
If you have time, please read this article by The Verge on the shutdown of Everpix. If not, here’s the main takeaway: the biggest problem with product-oriented entrepreneurs is that they often have only one tool in their toolbox: making a product. That’s both praiseworthy and perilous — as in existence threatening. But don’t take my word for it, just look at what the people behind Everpix said on the topic. (Go ahead, re-read the first sentence of this story.)
Even before the product starts working, the company has to invest time, money, and energy into marketing, which requires a different set of skills. Consider Apple: the lesson a lot of people suggest you take from Apple is that you should focus only on product. But that’s only half the story, at best. When you zoom into Apple, you notice that the company’s heavily focused on marketing.
Lastly, I want to wish the Everpix team good luck. They designed something beautiful and world-class that thousands of people around the globe enjoyed. That’s very, very hard. Divorcing a business idea can be an extremely difficult and emotional thing to do in the short-run. But in the long-run, divorcing a business idea can be just an event in the life of an entrepreneur — it does not need to define it.
Nov 6, 2013
Online is these days often the first place people look for solutions. Said differently, people check online before they check their own brains. So, when was the last time you reviewed your online presence and asked yourself: “Is this the best we can do?“