risk vs reward see-saw

Risk & Assumption: Making An Ass Out Of U and Me

Gee Ranasinha Sales

“Assumption” and “risk” often go hand-in-hand. It’s like yin and yang, or whether the glass is half full or half empty. Salespeople are taught of the dangers of assuming something in business. To “assume” something, they’re told, makes an “ass” out of “u” and “me”. By assuming a particular intent, outcome, situation or interaction you are creating an illusion for yourself that you regard as fact. As a result, you are ignoring the potential risks associated with such a decision. I talk with many business owners who think that they have a handle on their customers’ wants. Not from research, mind you. Not from from actually talking with customers and prospects, or from observing how changes in the industry and technology may influence buying behavioral trends. But from what they would call their “gut instinct” – and what I call “risk-prone assumption”. These companies rely on assumption to build their business. “My customers liked it when I made a red version of my widget – surely they’re going to love it if I make a blue one, right?” Products or services get designed and launched. Expenditure is made – directly or indirectly – on marketing, promotion, human resources, service, support, …

American Express card

The Price Of Value: When A Gold Card Loses Its Shine

Gee Ranasinha Marketing

This morning I received a circular in the post from American Express. In it Amex are informing me that, as a customer, my American Express Gold Card will be taken away as from January 2012, to be replaced by something called the Preferred Rewards Gold Card. The new card has a few new twinkles. Complimentary airport lounge access, more points whenever I use the card to buy something, stuff like that. In return, Amex are jacking-up the cost of the customer ownership by increasing the card’s annual fee by more than 30%. Yes, 30%. Businesses such as credit card companies, as well as airlines and telecommunications firms, are having to constantly reinvent themselves in the face of growing competition. At the same time the costs of acquiring – and retaining – customers has risen. The customer has more choice – and both sides know it. What Amex has chosen to do is to give their customer a sense of maintained or increased product value by adding more bang for a much-increased buck. They’ve created a ‘bundle’ of services that, they believe, result in a product of increased value that more than offsets it’s increased price. Yeah, right. That may have …

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Gee Ranasinha Communications

The year was 1992. I was working for a central-London based supplier of professional photographic equipment, and we’d just taken on UK distribution of an innovative high-resolution digital capture system made in the US. The scanning back attached to a Sinar large format studio camera, and could capture images at a resolution of 6,000 x 7,520 pixels. That equates to a digital image of 129MB. This was in 1992, don’t forget. We needed a computer to tether the equipment to. The manufacturer of the camera back only had software for the Apple System 7 operating system. Our company had to buy an Apple computer. My love affair with the Mac was about to begin. The company purchased an Apple Macintosh Quadra 950 – the most powerful machine from Apple available at the time. The processor ran at a blistering 33Mhz. We ordered it with 256MB of RAM – the maximum amount of RAM the machine could take. In those days RAM was very expensive. 256MB cost almost as much as the Mac itself. No-one in our company would go near the new arrival, delivered as a number of large boxes and piled-up neatly in the corner of the office. It …

Lucky Strike ad

There Are Lies, Damn Lies – And Social Media Marketing

Gee Ranasinha Marketing

OK, so hopefully you’re on board with the notion that social media marketing has changed business, that the popularity of social networking sites has changed customer relationships, so that companies can no longer promote their wares in the same way that they did a few years ago. You get that the customer is now in control, and that by the time they contact you they’ve already done their homework. You understand that your marketing department, your sales team – in fact your entire organization – needs to realign itself to fit the expectations of an increasingly more-demanding, more fickle customer base. So you’ve read a few books, subscribed to a few blogs, maybe even forked-out your hard-earned cash to attend a social media marketing conference or three. You get back to work, itching to put into practice all that you’ve heard, with your head full of “customer engagement” this, and “remarkable content” that. You start a company blog, set-up a couple of social media accounts, and start “listening”, start “engaging” and start contributing to the “conversation”. You’ve well and truly drunk every drop of the Inbound Marketing KoolAid. Six months down the line you see that actually, contrary to what …

Illustration from "We Are All Weird"

Review: “We Are All Weird” by Seth Godin

Gee Ranasinha Marketing

As regular visitors to this blog will know, I’m a big fan of Seth Godin. There are a million online descriptions about Seth, so if you don’t know much about him I’d suggest that you spend a few minutes on Google to find out more. Suffice to say that I find Seth’s words very inspirational, poignant and philosophical. So when I heard that Seth had published a new book, We Are All Weird, it didn’t take much for me to hit the ‘Buy” button on Amazon. We Are All Weird expounds on Seth’s premise that the age of one-size-fits-all mass marketing is dead – or dying. In the “old days”, manufacturing (and therefore marketing) was more concerned with producing goods and services that the ‘vast majority’ could use (and buy).  No-one was concerned with the peripheral market sectors that existed around the ‘sweet-spot.’ Today, thanks to a number of social, technological and cultural factors, we as consumers have the luxury to think of ourselves as “different” from the norm. Special, eccentric, kooky, atypical: Weird, to use Seth’s description. We like to have choice, to associate with people that have similar tastes and values that we do. Thanks to technology, it’s …

Best of the best!

Fame at Last: KEXINO blog now featured on Alltop!

Gee Ranasinha Marketing

I don’t know about you, but I seem to be getting more and more news and information from blogs than from the more ‘traditional’ sources such as newspapers, magazines – and even TV. I’ve written about the importance of content curation before.  With so many blogs out there, and (unfortunately) so many of them being useless, services such as Alltop have become invaluable. If you don’t already know it, Alltop is a blog aggregation site that aims to provide All the top web stories and content from a huge range of subjects. The site started in 2008 by that serial entrepreneur (and all-round good egg) Guy Kawasaki. Well, dear reader. I’m very proud to announce that this very blog has been selected to feature in the “Marketing” category of Alltop. Having Alltop feature this blog means a great deal. In the same way as when readers leave comments here,  reTweet content, +1 a post, or “Like” something on Facebook. It’s a virtual “Attaboy” – a pat on the back that’s greatly appreciated.

Sri Lankan Curry

Cold Calling Over a Ruby Murray

Gee Ranasinha Marketing, Sales

Every couple of months or so I get together with a couple of ex-colleagues for what’s become known as a “Ruby Night” “Ruby”, short for “Ruby Murray”, is Cockney rhyming-slang for “curry”. After much research we’ve now found a fantastic Indian restaurant in the centre of Strasbourg that is happy to serve us what we all agree to be the absolutely hottest Lamb Curry this side of Mumbai. It’s magma-level, mouth-numbingly, sweat and tear-inducingly hot. In other words, it’s just how we like it. No pain, no gain… At the last Ruby Night the three of us got into a particularly heated discussion. I’m not talking about the meal (even though the chef on that particular night seemed to have a mission to defeat us in terms of how hot he could make the curry. Boy, was it a scorcher). I’m talking about Cold Calling. Cold calling, for those who’ve never been in Sales, is the soul-destroying process of calling-up people that you think could be sales prospects for whatever it is that you’re selling. I suppose you could think of it as the pre-internet version of spam. Every once in a while you’d get someone who’d take the call, …

social media killed the blog

Social Media Hasn’t Killed Company Blogs

Gee Ranasinha Marketing

Is the corporate blog dead, thanks to social media channels? With all the current hubbub and mindshare about social media, such as the current darling Google Plus, you could be forgiven for thinking that the importance of a company having an interesting, regularly-updated blog has diminished. Well, according to inbound marketing software developers HubSpot, a corporate blog still plays an important (and growing) part in an organization’s online lead-generation strategy. What’s perhaps the least surprising thing about their State Of Inbound Marketing report is the growth in using social media channels as part of a company’s online marketing efforts. But what’s interesting to note is that companies still see blogs as being a key component. You can download the report here (it’s free, so you have no excuse not to read it). Here are a few interesting findings: If your company doesn’t have a blog, you are now in the minority: 65% of the surveyed companies had a blog (up from 48% two years ago). Most of the companies surveyed (71%) blog at least once every week – and there’s a clear reason for that: The report shows a direct relationship between frequency of blog posts and acquiring new customers. …

Product brochures are obsolete

Have Product Brochures Become Obsolete?

Gee Ranasinha Communications

The role of a marketer has changed, to now include the curation of user-generated content and use the company’s visibility to push this content to the their audience. So do we still need product brochures?

importance of relevant content in business marketing

Content Isn’t Everything. It’s The Only Thing.

Gee Ranasinha Advertising, Business, Communications, Marketing, Social Media

A quick question for you: For most businesses, where would you say is the first contact point between the company and a prospective customer? Before they see your ad, read your postcard mailer or receive the sales cold call, the first engagement point with your company is most probably your website. So why don’t more companies take their website seriously? I don’t (just) mean the design and having up-to-date information on your business value offering – i.e. your product or service: whatever it is that you’re selling. I mean having content on there that existing and prospective customers want to read. I mean having a ongoing and regular program of delivering new content designed and researched in such as way for your audience to find interesting. So interesting that they’ll come back again, to consume even more of it. So interesting that they’ll talk about it with their friends. Today, before a customer ever buys your product or service, they “buy” into your company. They listen to your story, the narrative of why you do what you do. Why you sell, as much as what you sell. I’ll bet you, just as with our company, that if you checked your website …