Dollar Shave Club ad screenshot

Dollar Shave Club: Definitely Standing Out

Gee Ranasinha Business

You may have already seen this. It’s a few weeks old already. If you haven’t, then take a look at this (real) video ad for Dollar Shave Club, a subscription-based razor blade delivery service (if you can’t see the video above, then click here). Not only does the ad feature the actual company CEO, Michael Dubin, as its central character. The video – which cost just $4,500 to make – was used to help secure venture capital financing from big-name companies such as Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Andreessen Horowitz! The results so far have been staggering. In the first ten days of launch, Dollar Shave Club signed-up 20,000 subscribers. In less than a month, their off-the-wall, built-to-be-shared video has been seen 4 million times. The company is on target to secure more than $50 million in sales in the first twelve months of trading. This is in what most people would agree is a mature industry, dominated by just 2 or 3 major players. They’ve done this in a commodity market space with zero marketing budget, sales staff, distributors, resellers, print or TV advertising. Regardless of how well (or otherwise) Dollar Shave Club does in the coming months and years, what …

customer experience vs selling

Customer Experience: The Difference Between Marketing & Selling

Gee Ranasinha Business

You can talk about what your product or service does. Or you can talk about how the product/service makes the buyer feel. Most companies talk objectively. “This is what we’re selling. It does X, Y and Z. It costs this much. It comes in these sizes/colors/whatever. How many do you want?” Other companies, in contrast, talk about the feeling of owning said product or service – and they back it up in their communication. They’re as much – if not more – focused on the experience the customer may have after buying the product. They spend so much time and effort on customer experience because they know that’s how people buy. Take a look at the image below (you can click on it to make it open larger in a new window, if you like). It’s a screenshot from Apple’s website. It’s the way that Apple want you to see their MacBook Air laptop computer. If you can’t see the image below, you can click here. Now, take a look at the image below – again, you can click on it to enlarge it. As a comparison, this is a screenshot from HP’s website. It’s how you go about configuring …

shredded paper is gibberish

Customer Communication: Stop Talking Gibberish

Gee Ranasinha Business

Customers today are more demanding than ever before. They’re smarter than ever before. Because they have more knowledge – and therefore more POWER, than they have ever had. So why should they buy from you, as opposed to the company down the street, or the next town – or half way across the world?

audience based marketing 21st Century

21st Century Sales and Marketing

Gee Ranasinha Business

The turkey leftovers been consigned to the cat, or the bin. The Christmas tree has dropped more needles than you’ll find at a Kurt Cobain tribute concert. Now it’s time to dig your company’s marketing out of the dark ages and into the 21st Century. Your customers expect it. Albert Einstein is quoted as once saying the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Yet that’s exactly what a gazillion small businesses are doing right now with regards to how they approach branding, marketing, sales, lead generation, and communications. If you didn’t make your sales / marketing goals last year, what makes you think that you’re going to make them this year if your plans are to do the same things? A 21st century marketing plan isn’t a “copy-paste” of what you did last year. Dear business leader, please wake up and smell the arabica. You cannot continue to sell your company’s products or services in ways that Don Draper would applaud. Today’s consumer (and whether you’re B2B or B2C, your customer is always a consumer) is smarter, more knowledgeable, more demanding and more attractive than ever before (OK, maybe I …

Less Shouting, More Communicating: Advertising Grows Up

Gee Ranasinha Business

There are many who’ll say that today’s TV advertising is crass, blatant and bereft of creativity. Then an ad such as this comes along (click here if you can’t see the ad below): I’ve only just been made aware of the piece, which was launched back in October 2011. Instead of doing the usual thing of boring the viewer with hyped rhetoric about how great / affordable / whatever their holiday packages are, Thomson Holidays turn the message around to it being about you, the viewer, with a simple voiceover from a young boy: “It’s time you stopped, put down your phone, and hold your loved one’s hand. Nice, isn’t it? Those close to you: share with them a week or two, and they’ll cherish it forever.” They could have shouted about how great / interesting / value for money / whatever their holidays are, as pretty much every holiday company does in their advertising. They could have packed the spot with bright colors, loud music and flashing images and shoved their message down the viewer’s throat. Instead, we have calm, relaxing visuals, with a soundtrack featuring a orchestral reworking of The Pixies’ 1988 track “Where Is My Mind?” (the piano solo was apparently recorded …

exit, not an entrance

Business Value Can Be Stating The Obvious

Gee Ranasinha Business

It’s easy for small business owners to assume their audience knows more about what’s on offer than they actually do. Because you’re living and breathing your business every day, it’s easy to overlook that fact that everyone else doesn’t necessarily see all the nuts and bolts of your value offering in the same way. Let me give you an example. In your industry, would it be common practice for suppliers to provide: A complimentary 30 day trial, without customers needing to give a credit card number? Discounts for nurses / teachers / students? Free delivery and training? A 5% discount on invoices if they’re paid within 30 days? Perhaps you offer something that’s part of the deal because “that’s the way everyone does it” in your industry. And because it’s commonplace, you don’t think it’s worth mentioning. Just because you know, doesn’t mean that your customers know. It’s not their job to guess, speculate, or presume. It may be obvious to you that prices don’t include sales tax, or that installation and training is free. But perhaps your customers are unaware of such things. Moreover by not explicitly mentioning it, your customers may think that you don’t offer it. Communicating …

The Greatest Customer Service Strategy

The Greatest Customer Service Strategy

Gee Ranasinha Business

It been an absolute age since I published a guest post here, so I’m going to remedy that straight away. This week’s post is from Jon Gordon, speaker and author of a number of books including The No Complaining Rule. Over to you, Jon… Smiling is important. Eye contact matters. Patience is essential. Being warm and friendly is a must. And providing a positive emotional experience for your customers is a priority. But these are not the greatest of customer service strategies. Ironically the greatest of all strategies has nothing to do with customers and everything to do with employees. The Greatest Strategy is this: Great customer service beings with being employee focused first and customer focused second. If you treat your employees well, they will treat their customers well. Too often businesses, hospitals, restaurants and organizations focus all their energy on the customer while ignoring the very employees that serve their customers. This may work in the short run but eventually employees become tired, burned out, negative and resentful. Just the other day I was speaking at a hospital and was told that they were doing patient satisfaction surveys as a way to improve nurse performance. “What about nurse …

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, …

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, …