Archive for the ‘Digital Economy’ Category

More on Establishing Your Value

Friday, February 6th, 2009

I recently read a post by one of my Facebook friends regarding establishing value:

What is a good way to guarantee high price services (such as graphic design) besides guaranteeing a membership fee?

We agonize over this. A great way to start is to make a list of how many things you do that add value, whether you are currently charging or not. When you are done, put a $$ amount next to each value item. My list has 24 items.

I used to think I worked primarily in a commodity driven industry (printed t shirts.) When all is said and done, our clients will have a much better idea of exactly what we do, how it will benefit them, and what to expect. It also acts to level the field between you and your competition because I guarantee none of your competitors are doing this. If your customers are shopping, you have now given them a comprehensive list for comparison of apples to apples.

Here are some of the things you use to separate yourself from your competition:

    All aspects of your product or service.
    Associated services related to your product or service.
    Payment terms.
    Your Guarantee or Risk Reversal.
    Quality practices (list the steps.)
    Material handling and check-in procedures.
    Your vendor resources.
    Overall resources (machines, building, space, etc.)
    Reputation.
    Association with your other customers and clients.
    Service policies.
    Client education.
    Bundles/bonuses

You get the idea. The list can be huge once you sit down and really start to think about the REAL value you provide to your customers/clients.

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Where Do You Get Your Information?

Friday, January 9th, 2009

Knowledge expansion is one of my favorite areas of interest. We live in times of accelerated knowledge expansion unlike any in the history of man. What I find very interesting and challenging is, how do we deal with it? We are on information overload. Everyday we are bombarded with thousands of advertising messages, personal messages, and specific emails and announcements of interest to us.

With the advent of mobile computing, Twitter, and FaceBook updates, the avalanche of relevant and irrelevant information is overwhelming. And it’s only going to get worse. For someone like myself that loves to read, research, learn, and apply, it is becoming overwhelming.

To combat this, we need to rethink how we learn and who we get our information from. Malcom Gladwell has written extensively on this. He talks of Mavens and Connectors. It’s ironic that the more technical we get, the more we tend to withdraw into our own social networks where we are comfortable and trusted.

Your ability to function effectively is going to depend on how you systematically build your network of contacts. You want to be one or no more than 2 generations or levels away from the true thought leaders in your areas of interest. You need to have complete trust in these connections to provide you with the leading edge information and knowledge, along with insights and application strategies, that will benefit you.

Gone are the days where we can learn it and keep it to ourselves. Eban Pagan coined the term “Moving the Free Line” that advances the theory of giving away the most relevant, actionable information as soon as you get it.

This flies in the face of old school “knowledge is power” and “trade secrets.” I will address these two issues in another blog post. When knowledge is doubling every 3-6 years and collected information is doubling every 11 hours, knowledge acquisition and application take on all new rules, and many of these new rules are 180° opposite of everything we know.

For now, consider who can help you most? Who are the people doing the things you want to do? Who is writing and publishing what you need to do? How are you going to get to them and get them to share this information with you? These are huge questions that are crucial to your future success. Think about it and start putting those names down on paper.
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The Power of Social Marketing

Thursday, January 8th, 2009

One of the most exciting opportunities to grow our business lies in the area of Social Marketing. This collectively falls under the umbrella of Web 2.0. Most of you will know this as blogging, FaceBook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter, and so forth. If you’re not familiar with this, don’t dismiss it. It’s not just for high school and college kids. It’s super powerful and can be used to almost instantly certify your validity and credibility. It will also get you ranked on Google and in the search engines very, very quickly.

I have been using LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter for a few months now. Combined with the blogs (mainly this one), the number of pages referencing me and what I do have more than doubled in the last month. Before the use of these methods, if you typed Mark Coudray into Google, it would return somewhere between 85,000 and 95,000 pages. After using these methods, the same search delivers 190,000 - 230,000 pages on any given day. If I release a new video, it goes way up. I don’t know how it all works, but I’m stunned at how well it works.

Besides the increase in search results, it is a powerful way of building credibility. I use Facebook and LinkedIn mainly, but I’m also rapidly building my friends list of followers on Twitter. I’ll be writing a whole lot more about this in coming weeks and how you can use it to benefit you.

In the meantime, if you would like to connect to me on LinkedIn, add me as a friend on FaceBook, or follow me on Twitter, I would be honored to return the favor.

Pay particular attention to who are in my friends and connections lists and to the recommendations on LinkedIn. They have been HUGELY powerful in getting introductions and connections to people who can make a difference in my life and business. They can for you too.
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Crowdsourcing: Letting the Market Guide Your Direction

Saturday, December 6th, 2008

Many of you are familiar with the concept of t-shirt competitions. Such sites at Threadless, DesignByHumans, Teetonic, Shirt.Woot and so on host competitions where you can submit designs and the community as a whole votes on them. The ones with the most votes go into limited production and are sold out before you know it.

This is part of  a much bigger trend in society today of actually listening to the market and letting the market make their choice. The term is crowdsourcing and it is part of the Web 2.0 approach of doing business. It’s connecting you to your audience and allowing them to participate and become part of the overall experience.

So how does this apply to us? Past posts have talked a little bit about price sensitivity and how the market is driven by commodity behavior. Anytime we can elevate the end user to actually participate in an activity, we move toward experiential marketing. This is exactly what Walt Disney did with Disneyland in the ’50’s and Cirque du Solei in the 90’s with the circus.

These companies changed the perception of their product or service. They went well beyond the accepted norm for their respective industries and redefined the offering. You can do exactly the same thing by involving your customers and the end users of your decorated apparel. This is already a common practice with schools (especially elementary) where they have a class contest and then vote on the best design. But there is one major difference.

The difference is the designs are being done by amateur designers. They are coming up with primitive images that capture some, but not all of the emotional elements of the group, organization, or class. Your opportunity is to go beyond this by incorporating trained graphic designers into the equation.

Going beyond the classroom, a perfect example of this would be to team local designers or design students with the group and have the designers compete for the approval of the group. If you’re wise, you’ll find some way of compensating the winning designer from the price you charge the group for the shirt. This will make it appear the group is getting the design for free AND they’ll get a much better image than they would without trained involvement.

The possibilities are endless. The more you can access the end users in the design and selection of the graphic, the more connected they’ll be to you and the more they’ll talk about you to others. This is one of the most powerful leverage strategies you can use to get and hold the attention of your target market. For more on how to actually implement this approach, visit the TShirtSuccess website and look at the TShirt 2.0 section for more ideas and strategies.
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Obama’s T Shirt Success and Web 2.0

Friday, November 7th, 2008

Now the election is finally over, a few things are worth noting. I was particularly impressed with how the Obama campaign used printed t shirts along with their use of Web 2.0 in their campaign. It’s no secret the Dems have used social media very effectively in the last two presidential elections with a high degree of success. Howard Dean used it to mobilize his grass roots campaign four years ago and Obama absolutely killed it this time around. When combined with a targeted age group (young first time voters) it was a most effective one-two punch.

Not only did they raise almost $200 Million in donations through websites and blogs, they were equally effective using t shirts as premium items when soliciting $12 - $20 donations.  I traveled around the country quite a bit in the last three months and Obama shirts were noticeable everywhere I went. I don’t know how many shirts they printed, but I do know that a lot of printers took part by printing the official Obama logo and there were tons of other “unofficial” shirts printed as well.

The Obama campaign also took advantage of designer created images ala Threadless.com and Shirt.woot.com. This was especially effective as the images were created by peers in those demographic groups. A perfect match for a perfect delivery.

For the last two days I’ve been listening to the talking heads analyzing the Obama campaign. Everyone, including the Right, has been pretty much in awe of how effective and error free their campaign was. I’ve yet to hear anyone mention the role the “Media of Personal Expression” played. The shirts looked great and they acted as a conversation starter and as a viral word-of-mouth  vehicle. I would love to know exactly how many shirts were printed, but I would bet it was well over a million.Share/Save/Bookmark

See You at SGIA Atlanta Oct 15-18

Monday, October 13th, 2008

Hopefully I’ll see many of you at the SGIA Atlanta Show this week. I will be presenting two different programs at the PolyOne/Wilflex booth. The first is:

TShirt Generation 2.0

The old ways of the industry aren’t working anymore and it isn’t clear what will replace them. TShirt Generation 2.0 introduces the forces and factors that will drive the next generation of sales and profits. If you’re worried about differentiating yourself, increasing profits, remaining competitive, and growing your business, you need to learn about the NINE areas that will change the way we do our business. The factors are powerful and can lead to new sales in as little as seven days.

The Secret To Profitable Growth in a Tough Economy

Sales for most printers have been flat to declining for sometime. The economic conditions today aren’t favorable. Using the secret of Leverage you’ll learn exactly what you can do to rapidly grow your business, regardless of what is happening around you. The techniques you’ll learn are easy to implement and the results can be dramatic.

Stop by the PolyOne/Wilflex Booth and get a schedule of the presentations. I will be doing two per day starting Wednesday.

I’ll also be doing a live T TV interview with Scott Fresner at the USScreen Booth on Thursday morning at 10 am.