Comsumer Electronics As A Marketing Tool. Why It Sucks!

Since starting The Investment Network in 2013 I have had a large number of conversations with start up businesses that are looking for additional assistance with their business or who are looking for funding. This is an interesting part of my work. I am always especially interested to hear of the marketing ideas for these businesses. Or am I? I am beginning to get very irked by business owners who suggest giving away iPad’s, iPhone’s, games consoles and the such like. These devices are ten-a-penny and everyone has them. If you need to give away an iPad then in my opinion you have two problems with your business model. Firstly in my opinion you do not have a product or service that will sell well enough without an incentive that probably costs more than the sale price to the customer. Why would I want an iPad in return for buying what you have to sell when I have three already!? Secondly on the basis of my first point you are probably attracting customers who cannot afford an iPad in the first place, so how are you going to reach your target market if your targets already own three iPad’s and the only people who are interested in your product cannot afford one! If they need to buy your product or service to gain an iPad, how on earth can they afford to become a repeat customer? I have been in and out of the mobile phone business since 2004. In the early years, consumer electronics along with cash back were a massive lure in the sale of mobile phone contracts. PlayStation’s, Laptops, iPods and flat screen televisions as an incentive to sign a contract were all the rage, until Christmas 2007. This is where it all went wrong. You see parents were signing up to mobile contracts in order to get the expensive toys and games consoles for their kids to give to them as presents. That Christmas I saw some of the largest number of rejections for mobile contracts ever in a one month period. Its clear they wanted an expensive gadget but could not afford it. My mobile phone business was without its knowledge or desire becoming a sub-prime games console and iPod shop! My advice to the small businesses I speak to now is to not bother with consumer electronics as a gimmick but to think of your target market and think of something unique that your competitors will have difficulty copying and that your target market will enjoy and appreciate. Remember your target customer already owns three iPads, a flat screen TV, a games console and an iPhone! Dial in a relevant product or service with a good ongoing sales and marketing plan and for God’s sake do not forget magnificent customer service and the mathematics says you have a good, viable business on your hands. However if I hear another business wanting give away consumer electronics as a gimmick I will probably scream so loudly that the residents of Munich will probably hear me 🙂 Anyway that’s all for now folks, please enjoy the rest of the festive season!

The IT Industry, What has happened to it?

I spent a great number of years in the IT trade and occasionally get called back in as a consultant. I now run a small business brokerage and small business consultancy. I am amazed by the way things have changed and the way customer and the trade itself has changed. In the mid to late 90’s. IT departments were treated with general disdain by the colleagues for example in finance or sales. Fast forward some what and things have changed immensely. The younger entrants to the trade from university are now coming in as junior project managers taking a “do as I say, not as I do” attitude to experienced hires and bringing with them buckled shoes and a seriously bad hair gel addiction. Younger IT managers are also created in the same mode. Suppliers are over selling to their clients and the sales managers will not listen to experienced consultants for love nor money. It gets even worse. The industry is now taking a F*** Y** stance to everything in its path in my opinion. Some critical examples: 2 years ago. IT director says “I googled it”. Me:Trust me it won’t work. Him: Do it the way Google says. Me:Ok, have it your way! Him: Why hasn’t it worked? Me: I told you it would not work! Last year I was in a meeting with an IT Director and a sales director for a large IT provider. When asked a question about pricing the sales director told the IT director, quite openly to “go f*** himself”. Early this year. An account manager told me he wanted 5 days work delivered in two, because he told the client it was achievable without consulting a technical authority! And now for the worst one. A video clip came into my possession yesterday that showed three IT engineers from a large London NHS trust who were supposed to be on call, getting drunk at a Christmas party and ignoring an emergency call bleeper 3 times! You cannot take an emergency call whilst under the influence. These systems are there to save peoples lives and those on call are responsible for those systems whilst they are on call. I not alone in having left the IT industry. I have a number of good friends who I worked with in the trade who have also left. I am saddened that this is the legacy we left behind after years of delivering experience and professional expertise in tricky and demanding situations. The industry has damaged itself not just internally bit externally as well and those who cared enough for it not to happen have tried, failed, and become so disheartened they have either left or are considering leaving. Many who are leaving or have left including myself have also left because the industry has taken a toll on their health. Every experienced hire I speak to who has left the trade tells me they have no regrets about leaving and say “they should have done it years ago”. An industry cannot improve when all of the experience is jumping ship at an alarming rate. Bringing in new young blood will not fix the situation. It is a sad day when I feel compelled to write a blog like this. It had to happen I for one wish that the trade will in time repair itself both internally and externally.  

Annual Awards 2014

Following on from last year, I have decided to do the same again and dish out my own annual awards. At this point I apologise for the fact that this post is more of an essay than a blog. Outstanding Excellence of the year award Derek the cabbie wins this one, to be fair he was in with a shout last year as well. The amount of scrapes and tight situations Derek has got me out of make him the most worthy recipient. Car of the year Range Rover Evoque. I have developed quite a sweet spot for the cars, they can handle well and go quick. A very good piece of kit. A well deserved award. A special mention goes to the Mercedes E-Class a from the point of view of being driven in one at high speed while highly stressed. A second special mention in a row! Airline of the year I never thought this would happen but EasyJet win airline of the year! They do actually deserve it 24 flights with them 20 were early. 2 bang on time and 2 late. These have seriously got their act together. Hotel of the year Hotel Angelo, Prague are the winners, a great designer hotel with competitive rates in a good part of Prague. I spent 2 months living out of this hotel at the start of this year. I also like the way I can roll out of a taxi after the late flight from London and into the check in queue at about 10pm, the barman catches the fact that I have arrived and immediately sets about pouring me a late beer which is ready once I have finished checking in! Very well deserved! A special mention does go to Hotel Seattle in Brighton for the second year in a row. Car hire Hertz win this one, again. I can’t believe it award! This one goes to Tesco. How could they screw it all up?? I cried into my coffee award The collapse and fall of Motor Boats Monthly gets this. Another nail in the coffin for those of us who are passionate about boats. Tech Kit Awards No change from Last year really Biggest Surprise: Microsoft Surface Pro Tablet Customer Service, Lenovo. They are beating everyone else hands down at the moment. Software: Owncloud. A great private cloud alternative to the usual freemium services. Biggest disappointment: Apple. Going down the pan fast. Old values seem to be failing fast now. Hack: Cyanogen Mod: How to breathe new life into an old android tablet device! Pub of the year award The Hand and Racket pub in Wimbledon are this years very worthy winners. This is a great pub run by a very good team. Corporate idiots award For the second year in a row. The Child Support Agency. When will you ever learn to talk properly, answer questions properly and honestly and stop talking to a script that makes you looks like a corporate version of the Goonies?! Plonkers of the year Kingston Hospital. Incompetent staff, who tell lies and fabricate the truth and are generally clueless led by an incompetent and inept chief executive, who clearly is out of her depth and should not be in post.. Laugh of the year Manchester United FC. I never wet my self laughing so much in the course of a football season! Lifetime award for utter incompetence and complete spastication I have had to issue another of these this year. The winner is Kingston Police Station. Inept and incompetent. Never seen so much incompetence within the Metropolitan Police or any other police force for that matter. The Metropolitan police have a department for professional standards. They need to sort Kingston out because there are no professionalism and no standards at this police station. A waste of taxpayers money and a shoddy understanding of law complete the mix. They are therefore the most worthy winners of this award.