Stop thinking about technology

We need to stop thinking about technology. Actually we need to stop using the word technology. A chair made from timber is a form of technology. Digital does not equal technology. There is no technology. Only evolution and an increasing rate of change. People just lives their lives with the things around them. If the things are good and useful (new or old) they will embrace them. Lots of these things happen to have micro chips in them. So what. Lots of things have timber and metal in them too.

What we need to be is anthropologists. If we truly want to understand we need to listen and observe without interrupting. If we interrupt, there’s a chance we’ll influence the flow of the previously reality – and change it. So we wont know the truth as it would have been before we arrived. The truth and flow of human life is technology agnostic and there is much much more to it than ‘things’ we use to live.


What FMCG marketers should do

Known as the most innovative industry for much of the commercial world from the 1950’s, consumer goods have got caught napping.

Retailers are cutting their lunch through some classic backwards vertical integration – that is, making the products their suppliers make.

So my question is this, why aren’t the global fast moving consumer goods companies taking on the retailers at their own game? What they should do is simple. Develop a consortium of supermarket suppliers and buy a supermarket chain. The missing link in their marketing mix – distribution control. They need to get back some control at the retail level or the long term picture is one of reduced shelf space, and more retailer erosion of their business. Consumer goods companies need to compete with their retailers in the same way the retailers compete with them.

Why Masterchef works

Masterchef has truly been a phenomenon in Australia over the past 2 seasons. A ratings boon which is rare in our fragmented media environment. In fact it was watched by an average 3.54 million, up from 3.29 million last year. This makes it the most watched non sporting event in Australian history. It’s not hard to find a Masterchef fan, but not being one I was curious what all the fuss was about so I endured a few episodes. I didn’t catch the bug and so asked some colleagues why they believe (from an advertising, marketing and media perspective) it did so well. The best description I got was from Paul Gardner who summarised it as follows:

He said there has been three distinct phases in the evolution of reality TV.

1. Hoons & Havoc. Lock up a group of  highly charged youths in a house filled with alcohol and sexualy energy and see what happens. Think Big Brother.
2. The Challenge. Take a group of normal people outside of their comfort zone to compete in a Spartan like fashion.  See what behaviour humans will stoop to in order to win and prove superiority. An observation of social interaction at a draconian level. Think Survivor.
3. Denied Talent. Take a group of people who have some genuine flair for something, who have not been given the chance (for whatever reason) to display their talent. Give the competitors potential for a new start, to chance become entrepreneurs. Make the show inclusive, yet competitive. Add a sense of collaboration and educational good for all. Build a result into the show which isn’t purely financial but provides recognition and a new direction. Overall, make it represent the values of a modern civilised society. This is what Masterchef has done.

The thing that’s really impressive about Masterchef from a marketing perspective is that they took the well worn genre of ‘cooking’ understood the important nuances of human behaviour and made it something much bigger than anyone ever expected.


You’re in good company

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.


Selling – breaking down barriers

I’ve been out selling rentoid to major Australian rental companies and I’ve come to the following conclusion:

In personal selling being liked is more important than our product, price or offer.

Unless they like us, we wont really get the chance to explain the benefits of doing business with us. We might be saying it, telling them all the good reasons why we should be doing business, but they a probably not really listening.

What I’ve been doing is looking for relationship links. Things which we have in common. I know it sounds quite obvious, but when we have something in common we are essentially paying them a subtle compliment. We are saying “Oh, me too, your smart, you have good taste.”

Here’s some of the simple things of been using to find said common ground:

– Geography – Living in the same area, having an office close to theirs. People like dealing with locals. Geagraphy matters.

– Sport – Footy finals, if I see an interest in football or see some physical evidence then I get straight into it.( a bit blokey this one, but it works a treat)

– Industry Love – if we show you really care about the industry they are making their living from it’s a good thing. It means we are supporting what puts bread on their table. They like us if our objective is the help the industry we are both working in grow.

There is physical evidence all around us in sales calls from which we can find a link to develop a micro yet ‘instant relationship’. We just need to be perceptive while we are out there. It isn’t about being deceptive either. We’ve got to find a common interest. Something we actually believe. If we fake it they’ll smell it and we’ll blow the sale.

Creating rituals

Greg Borrowman, the editor of Australian Hi-Fi magazine, has another one. He thinks we’re yearning for what was lost when analog music yielded to digital.

“CDs have no personality; they’re set and forget,” he says. “With vinyl, it’s ritual. You slide the LP out of its sleeve, then deftly remove it from the inner dust jacket, making sure not to touch the playing surface. You place it on the platter with both hands, like an offering. You clean the record’s surface and perhaps the stylus. Only then do you lower the tonearm to be rewarded with the music.”


What rituals are you creating for your startup?


Radvertising – James Boag

Here’s some more radvertising from local Tasmanian beer brand James Boag. Watch it, then I’ll tell you why it is radvertising:


Sure, it’s very entertaining, even funny. But as I’ve said many times before this isn’t why is ‘radvertising’, it’s because the creative idea is inextricably linked to the product…

  • Brand Heritage evident in the visuals and story
  • The core idea of ‘special water’ relates strongly to the brand and it’s Point of Difference
  • It’s conversation worthy, which means it’ll spread digitally, like it is right here on startup blog
  • And yes, it’s a joy to watch

The only negative, if there is one, is the potential for it to do a ‘category job’ for all beers Tasmanian, but that is inherent in their proposition and difficult to avoid.

The lessons for startups trying to create ‘radvertising’ is simple, make sure your ‘creative idea’ is linked the actual product.