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Showing posts from January, 2016

Waiters who interrupt - sod off!

I know you've been trained to ask us " is everything OK ?". But if you really must, please choose your moment when we're not mid-conversation. Didn't your parents tell you it's rude to interrupt? Actually (don't get me started) parents these days seem to prioritise their obnoxious little darlings' interruptions: "Yes of course sweetheart [how hugely clever of you to even be able to speak. I'm so so proud and I'm sure the adult I'm talking to will understand my child always comes first]. Sorry, I'll continue with our conversation after I've given Prunella another doughnut"... or maybe they've trained Prunella to always interrupt conversations with me. Hmm. But back to the waiter, the answer is always  " Yes it's fine [now please go away] " . We're not going to tell you it tastes like shit in case you tell the kitchen and they piss in our dessert. We'll post what it was like in TripAdviser later

New Product Challenges

I've spent most of the past thirty years trying to invent, develop, launch and sell new products. There's an anarchic side to my character that can't be bothered trying to sell something that someone else already sells. Or perhaps it's not about searching for challenges, but satisfying my insecurities. Maybe I just don't want to be beaten. If I'm selling something that nobody else sells, then if I fail it's not because somebody else is better than me at selling, it's because I didn't get the pitch right in some way, or that the market is simply not ready for my vision - like the company I co-founded which developed intelligent search engines in the mid-80s for example, or the social networks idea in the early 90s. Well they always say that timing is everything. But in the case of New Products there are other factors at play. Now I'm in the twilight of my career, I've amassed plenty of experience in trying to make business successes out of n

Introducing Product Relationship Management - it's what customers want.

Most businesses these days have Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems which store and process vasts amounts of information about us. They use this information to generate communications, amongst other things, which target us to buy their products and services. CRM is all about how a business relates to its customers: Past (keeping them loyal through aftersales and service), Present (helping them buy through bricks and clicks channels) and Future (prospecting). Most businesses will at some stage have declared themselves 'customer-centric'. They will probably have drawn diagrams on whiteboards that look something like these: But there's a problem with this whole approach of keeping the customer at the centre of your world and the focal point for everything you do. Is it what the customer wants ? Of course companies who ignore their customers eventually go out of business. And those who treat their customers well, tend to thrive. But is it really in the best inte

Vehicle Relationship Management (written in 2001)

The following is an article I wrote in 2001, just before the Dot Com crash.  In our headlong charge to become ‘customer-centric’, aren’t we risking being presumptive about what customers might really want? I examine how the car industry might use the product itself to offer a meaningful Vehicle Relationship Marketing (VRM) opportunity for relationship management.     “The more you know about your customers, the more you can relate to their needs, and the more they will want to buy from you”, or so the CRM mantra urges us to believe. Well I don’t have a problem with that, but I don’t believe it goes far enough into the relationship opportunities. My first concern is one of definition for the word ‘customer’. Customers are people who have already adopted your brand. People who are considering buying something are prospects , who might indeed already be customers. We need to distinguish very carefully between the two since the strategy required to persuade someone to adopt a

"Kill their Families" says Trump. That'll work... Not!

In a recent interview, loudmouth Trump made headlines again by calling for the USA to "kill their families" in reference to Islamic terrorists. Whilst we're all naturally incensed by senseless horrors on our streets, this is clearly evil thinking. Such vile threats would have been worthy of the likes of Pol Pot and Hitler, not a candidate to become the 'leader of the land of the free'. But it's not just evil, it also demonstrates appallingly bad judgement if he believes that killing jihadist loved ones will stop them committing acts of revenge or prevent more enraged people from joining their ranks. But whether we agree with Trump or not, the dreadful reality is that killing their families is precisely what we are doing by bombing their towns and homes. And the problem is that it makes terror attacks more likely, not less. By destroying whatever stability used to exist in the middle east, we've created dozens of desperate crazed jihadist groups all eager

Help Children (and their parents) to Value Education

A couple of years ago I wrote a post about Malala's surprise when she began school in the UK. She was shot by deluded madmen because she insisted on going to school in Pakistan where it's recognised by children and parents alike not only as a privilege, but also as an enjoyable experience that kids universally want to do. They don't here and that amazed her. I suspect the way kids in Pakistan and the UK are taught differ relatively little bar the technology we might use in British classrooms these days (and the flavour of religious dogma of course). A cynic might suggest that Pakistani kids prefer school because it's less onerous than doing chores at home or slaving in factories. They also spend the day with all their friends and they get fed (I presume). So it might be an exaggeration to suggest that Pakistani kids understand the value of school whereas British kids on the whole don't, but there's an important issue here surrounding the way we sell, or don