CRN From the Coal Face

CRN From the Coal Face

29.10.2012 Retailers, fight back!


How bricks and mortar outfits can hold their own against online. It is all about the experience. Retailers are seemingly fighting a losing battle to the internet but all hope is not lost. I have just returned from a trip through the US, Mexico and Fiji and I noticed a number of different ways retailers are fighting off the challenge of the internet. Some stores proudly displayed signs that said “we will match any internet price”. This is a sure-fire way to go broke. The co ..

10.10.2012 The thing about China


What works elsewhere may not do the trick. Many of you will have expanded your business outside its original location or made a move into an area that you weren’t totally familiar with. In general, it’s quite easy to work out the nuances of a new area and slightly tweak your marketing and sales model to suit the new area. If you’re based in Sydney and you open an office in Melbourne, for example, you just need to learn to carry an umbrella and hate Collingwood. Subtl ..

03.10.2012 Marketing must have a clear target in sight


Machine gun campaigns too pricey for SMBs. From a marketing perspective, one of the most important components is to understand the demographics of your clients. You can’t be all things to all people so don’t try to be. I often see businesses take a shotgun approach to their marketing and they spray their marketing efforts everywhere. This is ineffective and costly. Small businesses simply can’t afford to throw money away with wasted marketing efforts. If you cre ..

29.8.2012 Doctors must heed vITal signs


Resisting change will encourage a wave of DIY quackery. I went to my doctor recently and it struck me for the umpteenth time that the profession hasn’t embraced technology. Doctors are typically intelligent people. To study medicine at university you normally need to be in the top 1 percent at the end of your school exams and some universities now make it a post-graduate degree with a high weighted average mark to allow you to qualify. I do worry about the fact that doctors ..

31.7.2012 Raise your prices to stay ahead


Never mind that the economy is feeling rather flat. If you don’t raise your prices you’re dudding yourself. Well the carbon tax is here and Australia, as we know it, still seems to exist. The feedback I have received from businesses around Australia is that the last quarter for last financial year was particularly quiet as clients were apprehensive about the impact of the carbon tax. Add to that the generally depressed state of the economy (apart from mining areas) an ..

30.4.2012 How to take your own pulse


It’s hard for a business to get solid feedback. One way to get a clear picture is to appoint an advisory board. Two years ago I was asked for suggestions to improve a medium-sized IT business. I went through and looked at all the normal components I would look at in improving a business. It seemed to me they were doing most things very well. I could really only see that I was going to play around with the edges. I started to look further and I stole an idea from big business and ..

13.4.2012 At the coalface: It's all about the relationship


Clients stick with their accountant for years. So be like an accountant and keep your customers. Many IT business owners ask me what’s the best form of advertising to boost their business. One avenue I very rarely see explored is one I believe can deliver excellent results – in particular in the IT industry. First, consider that a typical IT firm is not trying to sell a product – it’s trying to sell a relationship. From a marketing perspective I often see IT f ..

20.9.2011 Resistance is futile, change is inevitable


Uncertain times demand a process to handle the little steps that lift your profitability Former US president John F. Kennedy said, “Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future”. In business, we must continually change. The Dow Jones was launched in 1896. Of all the companies on the original Dow, only one still exists. It is GE and, by their own admission, GE is a completely different company to what it was all those ye ..

11.8.2011 Being too careful costs you money


Many businesses are so uptight about customer risk that the processes to manage the odd instance drive business away Richard Branson famously said, “I never get the accountants in before I start up a business.” His logic is that accountants, by their nature, are typically risk averse, and would have shut down many of his businesses before they even started as they were too “risky”. Unfortunately, in business, you see so many examples of businesses that are tryi ..

04.7.2011 Dickerson: Motorcycle diaries clue to beat e-tailers


A trip to a motorbike store convinced CRN's Coalface columnist there was life after the internet. Some retailers feel that trying to combat online shopping is like trying to stop a tsunami with an umbrella. I actually have a different view. The internet has changed how consumers shop around the world. Does that mean that every business that has a physical presence should just shut their doors and put their tail between their legs? That is an option – but not a good one. Som ..