How would you position a search engine against Google?

Let’s say you want to positionpositioning a new search engine against Google. How would you do it? What we mean by positioning is that, from a prospective customer’s perspective, how would they compare your new search engine against Google.
You see this in marketing all time. It’s the simplest way to get to the prospect’s mind, and possibly the most effective in getting them to switch brands (or stay loyal), depending on how effective the product is positioned.
Positioning

Positioning: 3 mistakes to avoid

So, where do we start? The mistake would be to do as follows:

  1. Criticize Google – that makes you look small. It signals to prospective customers that you feel the need to denigrate the competition to assert yourself. Not a winning strategy.
  2. Go Head On – in other words, don’t say we’re better than Google, Apple, Nike or whoever and give a laundry list of reasons. This fails as you’re blowing your own trumpet. That’s yesterday’s (failed) tactic.
  3. Promote Features – engineers and developers love features. Because that’s what they focus on. Customers don’t. They’re interested in the benefits,  coolness of the product, or its association with a celebrity. Features do work if you’re selling to other engineers, of course. For example, selling hardware or micro chips.

Positioning: new search engine

Instead, side-step the google issue and look for a different angle. Actually, you should stop competing with Google in your own head first, and then develop a series of tactics that allows you to convince others why your search engine is the best choice.

  1. Define the market segment – don’t target everyone. Focus on one group, for example, parents. Then develop a trustworthy search engine that resonates with them. In many ways, this makes your life easier. By focussing on one segment, you can tailor your product,  brand, and business model. Compare this to trying to please everyone.
  2. Focus on one benefit – instead of trying to be the best search engine, which is a huge task, zero in on one area, for example, security, family friendly, or that supports the environment. I’d say the family friendly search engine would do the best. This reduces a lot of the fears in parents, and also reduces the costs and hassle of child monitoring software.
  3. Develop a community  – think of Wikipedia. Imagine if you could harness the goodwill of a community and get them to develop a search engine, for the people by the people…

Positioning is about how others perceive you. It helps to be the first as you can write the ‘script’ for the customer. Saying that, if you can find a legitimate angle, where there is a demand, then you can own this space, ie as you’re the first one to identify it.
This is very different than trying to undercut someone on price, creating more features (many of which will rarely be used or valued), and running (expensive) advertising campaigns.
The book that helped me understand Positioning is by Al Ries. You can pick up a copy here.
PS – how would you position a new search engine?

Case Study: How Copyblogger Shifted From Blog Publishing To Product Development

Have you noticed how Copyblogger is moving from a ‘traditional’ blog to a solutions provider offering web marketing tools? Some people feel that Copyblogger should have stuck to its roots and built a better blog, but I’m not so sure.
As they say, “To stay in business, you need to be in business.”
What Copyblogger’s currently doing allows it to scale, integrate, and increases its capital value.
How many blogs can you say that about?

Web Business Models: Which work best?

Let’s back up a second. Most ‘blogs’ struggle to make money.
Why?
Their business model relies on revenue streams that are often beyond its control.
The three most common forms of revenue generation on the web are:

  • Advertising
  • Services
  • Products

Advertising is the one most start with.
It’s very easy to add Google Adsense to your site. However, you need a phenomenal amount of traffic to make a genuine living from it. Trust me, you really do. And anyone telling you otherwise is telling a porky.

  • Services are fine but they’re hard to scale. There are only so many hours in the day. You can’t service clients in your sleep. Try it!
  • Products are the most difficult to develop. But the most lucrative… if you get it right.

 
What’s interesting for me is how Copyblogger developed a path that allowed it to escape from the blogging thread-mill and create something more substantial, with more value, and less dependency on web traffic.

Using your blog as a platform

If you go back to when Copyblogger started, it was like most blogs except that it identified, isolated and owned its niche very quickly. It grew incredibly fast.
This allowed it developed educational tools, such as Teaching Sells, which appealed to its readers.
However, the problem was scale.
Teaching Sells was/is limited to a number of subscribers. My understanding is that it’s run every year, sells out, and then re-runs the next year.
But wouldn’t something the sells 24×7 make more money?

Developing Complementary Solutions

Copyblogger moved into product development a few years ago with the Thesis Theme. This is probably the top-selling premium WordPress theme.
For different reasons, Copyblogger separated from the Thesis Theme developer and created their own offering – The Genesis Framework.
What’s interesting here is that what started as a copywriting site began to offer products that complemented their readers’ needs.
Copyblogger started to develop web products, built upon a strong brand name, that helped bloggers, ie their army of loyal readers, to be more successful.
At the moment, it offers three main products:

  • StudioPress for Blog Design
  • Scribe for Web Traffic
  • Premise for creating Landing Pages

Scaling

The advantage of having this suite of products is obvious:

  • Affiliates help spread the word and create more sales.
  • It’s less dependent on weaker business models, such as advertising which has taken a huge hit in the recession.
  • It can integrate these products with other partners
  •  Upsell opportunities can be realized by selling premium and enterprise versions

Conclusion
Here’s another way of looking at it. Take a look at the AdAdge Power 150 and see which of the sites in the top twenty you’d like to own.

  • Which sites have the best opportunities for revenue generation and licensing?
  • Which sites can be scaled, i.e. build other products upon what’s already there?
  • Which sites can expand into other verticals and industries?

Most sites cannot scale, have few independent revenue streams, and are vulnerable to competition.
What’s interesting about Copyblogger is how it’s building for the future. Instead of building a better blog, it’s building a better business.
What do you think? Is Copyblogger making the right move? Has it abandoned its roots? What do you think it will do next?

10 Mistakes to Avoid When Submitting your First iPhone App

If creating iPhone apps is part of your online business plans, or if you plan to create iPhone apps for the iPhone, iPad, or iTouch, then understanding how to submit your app will save you a lot of hassle and ensure that your app get into the marketplace as soon as possible.

If creating iPhone apps is part of your online business plans, or if you plan to create iPhone apps for the iPhone, iPad, or iTouch, then understanding how to submit your app will save you a lot of hassle and ensure that your app get into the marketplace as soon as possible.
apple-logo

10 Mistakes to Avoid When Submitting your First iPhone App

I’ve just been through the process of submitting an iPhone app to the iTunes store. It wasn’t that difficult but the next time it will be faster. Here are a few things I learnt.

  1. Release Date – understand how Apple reviews iPhone App and learn what the terminology means when you’re submitting an app. For example, when Apples you that the app is being reviewed, this usually means it will be approx 8-15 days for the review to be completed. Once this is completed, then it’s scheduled for release.
  1. Updates – when you want to update an app, for example, you’ve added new screenshots or changed the pricing structure, you need to submit an update. This process should not take very long, especially if you have a track record (i.e. are in good standing account wise with Apple) and allow you to get the revised app online. But… double-check that the app has been updated and that the new features, text or prices are updated correctly on the iTunes store.
  1. Resubmitting an App – let’s say you want to change or add a new feature. This means Apple will have to test the app again. It does this to ensure its customers are getting a quality, working product and the only way to check that it works it to test it.
  1. Quality – Apple usually tests the app for the first 5 minutes max. After all, it has 1000s of apps to test every day so it can’t test all aspects of your app. What it looks for most is whether your app will crash the iPhone or iPad. Every time your app needs to be retested it goes to the back of the waiting list. So, make sure it works the first time you submit or you will have to go through the whole process again.
  1. Tags – You can add tags (aka keywords) when submitting your app. Should you add a few or hundreds? What works best for me is to select five keywords (ie the same keywords you use in your SEO, marketing, PPC and advertising) rather than taking a ‘long tail’ approach.
  1. Description – Look at how the best-sellers write this text for their apps and adapt their copy. Don’t copy and paste what you have on your website or blog. Refine the description so that it works for the iTunes store. If necessary, hire a copywriter (see oDesk) and get them to do the text. Don’t be ‘penny wise and pound foolish’.
  1. Forms For Overseas Developers – Non-US Developers must submit a “Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding” form (W-8BEN).
  1. Forms for Australian Developers – Upload their ABN and GST certificates in iTunes Connect.
  1. Selling Apps for Japan – Developers living outside of Japan, must submit a Japanese tax treaty form if you want to sell your apps in Japan.
  1. Connecting with Marketing Plans – Until you know how the app submission process works, you need to be careful when committing to dates on your marketing plan. In other words, if you’re expecting the app to be live on March 1 – to link into a PPC or Adwords campaign – then work backwards and submit the app in early Feb.

How the iPhone App Submission Works

With this in mind, here are the steps you need to complete to develop, test, and submit your iPhone app.

  1. Learning how to program with Xcode. This is the software programming language for the iPhone, iPad, iTouch.
  2. Apply for the Standard Program $99. It takes 5 days approx to be approved. You have to pay this fee is you want to submit your app to the iTunes store.
  3. Develop your app or get it outsourced. I’d recommend to get it outsourced so you can concentrate on other marketing activities.
  4. Design the icon and write the descriptions text for the app store.
  5. Set up provisioning profile for Ad Hoc distribution and testing.
  6. Prepare files for submission. This includes screenshots, support website details etc. This took me the most time.
  7. Complete tax info, contact and bank details so you get paid.
  8. Submit the app and wait!

Next Steps

One of the mistakes most everyone makes with their first app is expecting it to be quicker or getting frustrated when Applerequest that you re-test the app. The more you understand the submission and review cycle, the more you can align with marketing activities and ensure that your campaigns kick in at the right time. It will also save you the hassle of explaining to your manager, partners, or customers why there is a delay.
One last suggestion is to note what errors or issues caused Apple to reject or query your app. Capture these points and refer to them the next time you submit your app.
Have you submitted an app to iTunes store? What happened?

Ten Steps To Benchmark Your Marketing Plans

One way to address this is to use a set of benchmarks. I use benchmarks in different ways to judge my performance and also how my products are selling. I sell digital products on the web and look for ways to judge my performance (not only sales) against my competitors. Why? Benchmarks help me see things with greater clarity.


How to take your ego out of the business? Tricky at the best of times. For me, benchmarks are one of the most reliable ways to judge my true abilities against someone else’s.
You see this in sports all the time.
Maybe you have a friend that thinks they are pretty handy on the golf course. And maybe they are. Compared against those they know they can beat, of course.
But what happens when someone new joins the club?
Ever notice the way these loudmouths slink away and make their excuses. Suddenly the bravado is gone.
They adopt a ‘wait and see’ policy.
If the guy (or girl?) is really good, they’ll steer clear. If they know they have a chance, they’ll come bouncing back. You know the type, I’m sure.
This is fine on the golf course.
But, in business, you don’t have the same luxury. The pressure is on. You need to gauge how successful your product, service, or customer satisfaction is and adjust accordingly.
You can’t afford a ‘wait and see’ policy. Time lost is money lost.

Ten Step Benchmarking Model

One way to address this is to use a set of benchmarks. I use benchmarks in different ways to judge my performance and also how my products are selling. I sell digital products on the web and look for ways to judge my performance (not only sales) against my competitors.
Why? Benchmarks help me see things with greater clarity.
Instead of leading with my heart, which most small business owners do, the benchmarks allow me to assess things objectively.
It takes me out of the picture.
Here are ten steps to benchmarking your business.

Plan

1.  Identify the benchmark target – highlight the product, service or activity you want to improve. Start with one benchmark and learn from this. Don’t complicate things by defining multiple benchmarks at once.

2. Identify benchmark partners – look at competitors you want to compare yourself against, for example, similar size SMEs or startups with a similar market presence. Be realistic.
3. Collect data using a combination of web tools and excel spreadsheets. Google provides some excellent tools for monitoring firms and brands. You can compliment this by developing surveys, questionnaires, and focus groups to glean more information.

Analyze

4. Determine the gap – look at the market research findings, clean the data, and look at the difference in performance, sales, or customer satisfaction  between you and the benchmark you’re working against.

5. Project future performance – set a target of what you want to achieve and timeframes for getting there. Again, be realistic and allow some leeway if this is the first time you’ve benchmarked your products.

Integrate

6.  Share results – one way to keep the team motivated (and in unison) is to share this information. This also helps set the standard and show the team what’s expected of them from here on.

7.  Establish goals for each person – be specific about each person’s targets. The more you refine the targets, the greater the chance of them reaching their goals.
Action
8.  Develop Action Plans – armed with the information from the market research, develop an Action Plan that works with the goals and timelines you’ve established for your team. Use the Action Plan to clarify to each member of the team what’s expected of them and the critical success factors associated with these targets.
9.  Implement plans and monitor results – hold a workshop or team meeting and kick off the project. Assign a project manager to lead the activity and agree on how status reports should be delivered. Reduce misunderstandings by sharing examples of status reports, action plans and other deliverables. Monitor the results as per the action plan.
10.  Recalibrate benchmarks – look at the feedback and tweak the benchmarks where necessary. Don’t change things just to keep your team on their toes. Instead, encourage them on their work to progress and show how their contributions help the company move forward. Celebrate major milestones to boast morale.

Do benchmarks work?

I’ve used benchmarks in companies for different reasons.
Sometimes we’ve wanted to see how our customer service compared with another firm.That makes sense.
Other times it was to take people’s ego out of the equation. Benchmarks are neutral. They don’t take sides.
If your department or project is struggling and you can’t get a handle on where to move next, let’s say you can’t reduce the number of customer complaints:

  • Work with the team to setup benchmarks.
  • Show them that you have nothing personal against under-performing team members. These are the industry averages and we need to get there.
  • Then examine why we (we’re all in this together right?) have not hit this target yet.
  • Build consensus. Show that this is the best way forward. Take other suggestions but be careful with those who are trying to undermine you.
  • Create a Project Plan, assign tasks, and deadlines.
  • Create an Action Plan and walk each person through what’s expected of them.

Revise, revise and repeat.
That’s one way to do it.
How can we improve upon this?
Pic credit:°Florian

How Going To Church Can Make You Rich

One of the occupation hazards of running your own business, it that you see everything else through the lens of starting, running and developing a business. Even when your neighbors are lining up to receive the Eucharist.

Here’s an experiment you can do next Sunday.
Every week, millions of folks head to Mass on a Sunday. We go most weeks too, though we’re not hardcore fans in the traditional sense. Continue reading “How Going To Church Can Make You Rich”

How to Get Started on Your First Business Plan

Writing a Business Plan can be intimidating at first. There is so much to cover and it’s difficult to know where to start. One suggestion is to prepare yourself to go forward. What do I mean?

What I mean is to study how others write Business Plan first. Look at how they

  • Create the Business plan outline and see what goes into it
  • Develop a format for the Business Plan that you can repeat across all future Business Plans
  • Understand how the Business Plan model really works.
  • Design an attractive Business Plan layout that is easy to read and gives your document a nice professional look. While there are many free Business Plans on the web, invest in a nice template or suite of business documents. In the long run, it’s money well spent.

How To Find A 'Second' Reason To Do Something Important

When should I start my business? When will I have all the information I need to begin? Answer? Never. You have to start with what you have. In this video, I share a very smart observation that Rajesh Setty made about getting started in business. You don’t always need to have 4 legs to make a table; sometimes 3 will do. Confused? Watch the video.

When should I start my business? When will I have all the information I need to begin? Answer? Never. You have to start with what you have. In this video, I share a very smart observation that Rajesh Setty made about getting started in business. You don’t always need to have 4 legs to make a table; sometimes 3 will do. Confused? Watch the video.

Getting Things Done Now: How To Find A Second Reason To Do Anything Important

Getting Things Done: How To Find A Second Reason To Do Anything Important

Rajesh Setty gets it. To find a second reason to do anything important:
1. Remove the legs (reasons) for NOT pursuing your dreams. The more legs (reasons) you remove, easier it is to break the resistance (topple the table) to pursue the dream.
2. Start finding legs (reasons) for pursuing your passion. The more legs (reasons) you find, the stronger the conviction (table) to pursue the dream.
Taking up his point, my religious teacher once said to us, ‘it’s not the hand you’ve been dealt that matters, but how you play your hand.’
It’s your attitude towards setbacks, circumstances, friction and conflicts that matters. Approach these in the right way and you can see how to overcome these obstacles and get closer to your true goals.
Taking up his point, my religious teacher once said to us, ‘it’s not the hand you’ve been dealt that matters, but how you play your hand.’
It’s your attitude towards setbacks, circumstances, friction and conflicts that matters. Approach these in the right way and you can see how to overcome these obstacles and get closer to your true goals.
What do you think?
How do you work past your obstacles? What reasons do you use? What justifications do you see in your own thinking? Please share below.

STC Adopts New Pay-As-You-Go Pricing Structure

Cindy Curry, the STC President, explains how the new STC pricing structure works.
STC spends, on average, just under $250 to provide services to a member, yet dues rates have been well below that amount. She adds that “for several years the revenue generated by the annual conference and our earnings from invested reserves have covered the difference—until now. We need to change our business model and adopt a pay-as-you-go approach.” Continue reading “STC Adopts New Pay-As-You-Go Pricing Structure”

Game design as marketing: How game mechanics create demand for virtual goods

Hamari, J. & Lehdonvirta, V. have published a very interesting paper on how online game mechanics create demand for virtual goods. Continue reading “Game design as marketing: How game mechanics create demand for virtual goods”