Blog Archives: Marketing


Mobile-Optimised Websites, and where they fail at AirNewZealand

Recently I used AirNZ’s iPhone App GrabASeat. It’s a great app by the way.

But, where the app is great, it fails at achieving its purpose.

Grabaseat is an app that notifies the app holder when flight deals (auctions) become available and it sends push notifications to your phone to alert you.

Now when you decide to buy the deal this is what you get taken to.

This makes no sense to me at all. The only place I am using this app is on my mobile, and yet I am sent to this joey of a website to make a booking. I have to admit, I have deliberately not booked twice because of this flaw.

AirNZ, I know a web developer that is craving to build your mobile-optimised sites for you. You just have to email me for the intro.

But, get onto it quick!

How important do you think mobile-optimisation is right now?

.@telecomnz “Please pay your bill. But, really, we don’t care about you.”

I have always been a great fan of the blogging style of Graeme Russell of AdageBusiness. He says it like it is; he makes a complaint (otherwise known as an “observation” ;) then he critiques it, and offers a suggestion.

Today, I am taking a page out of his book and making an observation about Telecom. So, let’s tell the story first:


I recently upgraded my phone from a Galaxy S to an iPhone 4S and in that move I switched from Vodafone to Telecom. I was very impressed with the Sales guy who I spoke to and I felt like a valued customer. Telecom has been a very valuable upgrade to me — fast 3G internet, great plan and so on.

But, today, I receive the ominous call “You need to pay your bill, or we will take further action.” Fair enough. But I haven’t been notified about the bill at all; no text message, no email, no letter in the mail. Nothing! I don’t even know how much to pay at this point. Great work Telecom for keeping in touch with your customers.

So, I call *123 to enquire how much I need to pay. Yay, it’s an automated answering service…but apparently it “doesn’t understand” me, and “can I repeat myself”. There is no option to speak direct with a customer service rep. So I try and fail multiple times to get through to a rep. Four calls later, finally I achieve success. Then I proceed to ask the rep what I want to know — what is my bill payment, and, how do I ensure I am notified in the future?

HE HANGS UP…WTF!? Seriously?!?!?!?!

I couldn’t believe it, I was fuming. So, I left work and walked 10 minutes to the nearest Telecom store to sort this out. Now, anyone who knows me, knows that I don’t walk anywhere for 10 minutes to deal with this crap — I write a blog post (see?).

And, there I finally encounter a decent human being that gives a crap! Thanks Misan. He gives me the info I need and deals with thing in 3 minutes…despite my inherent anger.


And, herein lies the tragedy. When I signed up to Telecom I was stoked with them. Now, I am not happy. So, Telecom, if you really care about your customers I suggest you sort this crap out — get rid of the “automated answering service” (which feels like talking to an idiot) and the poor customer service reps. And, we might have something in common: we care about each other.

Yesterday I was touting Telecom to everyone. Today, forget about it.

Yesterday I was a customer who cared about paying my bills on time. Today, forget about it.

Now, readers, what advice do you have for Telecom?


Fun Marketing Idea for Sphero

I first came across Sphero when I watched Tech Stars TV a few months back. Yesterday, I watched an interview of their founders on This Week in TechStars.

If you don’t know what Sphero is “it is a Robotic Ball controlled with your smart phone!” Check it out here.

Now, this ball can do anything you want it to, and you can program any app to make it do anything you want it to. Ah…possibility…

So, I had an idea…

Wouldn’t it be cool if you set up a room with a Sphero in it, set up some obstacles (a maze or something). And then run a social campaign (using a live feed cam) that gets people all around the world to contribute one small action in order to get the sphero to do some thing or complete some objective?

I see Viral.

What else would you do with the Sphero?

Alternatively, for anyone with a cat. Completing the above setup and then creating random actions using tweets or something else, might be a great way to keep the cat entertained.

Pursuit of Perfection Prolongs our Pain

I am one of those people who really hates advertisements on TV. And, I am sure I am not part of a minority.

I, for example, will deliberately record TV programs and watch them at a later date, fast-forwarding through the ad breaks and enjoying the TV show in ad-free comfort. (Btw, who else does this?)

After yesterdays blog post about a World of Perfectionists, I had a thought: How do we hear about “new” products?
1. Through word-of-mouth.
2. Through advertising (in some form).

Almost all of the products I hear about from friends or through WOM are completely new, solve a problem and INNOVATIVE. In fact, the better something is at solving my problem through simplicity, the sooner I hear about it (it’s just more viral).

All the products I find out about through advertisements are either modifications of existing products or the same old (un-modified) product as always. These are products that I have come across, know about and don’t need more information about. I just don’t want to hear about them any more.

I wonder…if the world is full of perfectionists wanting ever more perfect products at every expense, and these products are the ones filling our advertisements, who can we blame for our misfortunes?

Perhaps, it is our own selves we have to look at in the mirror? After all, if we demand perfection and we hear about these improvements through advertising, we can only expect to have more advertising, the more we demand…

But, I hate advertising…and – I bet – so do you!

So, let’s stop demanding perfection at our own expense. And, maybe we will see less crap advertised on television.

You never know;  in a perfect world perhaps there will no longer be advertising where we don’t want it; we will hear everything we need to know through word-of-mouth.

Maybe, just maybe, we might be so lucky.

The Boron Letters by Gary Halbert

Gary Halbert is known as the Godfather of Copywriting, and someone I have just recently discovered. He wrote a series of letters to his son during his life. This series is called “The Boron Letters” and they catalogue many of the life lessons Gary had learned. Here, I try to capture the core message I take from each of those letters:

Chapter 1 – Exercise one hour every morning, 6 days per week, right after waking.

Chapter 2 - Eat Fruit. Eat high-fibre cereal. (Fast one day of every week. Treat this as your rest day; physically and mentally.)

Chapter 3 - Eat vegetables. Cut them up each night and store them in a plastic container which you will take with you the following day. Drink a glass of milk for protein and calcium. Eat at least one serving of meat. Eggs contain a lot of cholesterol.

Chapter 4 - Be lean. Strengthen your arms. Be self-reliant.

Chapter 5 - Money is where your enthusiasm is. Understand what people want by observing what they already buy. Look at the numbers and find the reality.

Chapter 6 - Find the “starving crowd” – people who desperately want something. Use precision for targeting your customers…not en masse. Your best customers are…already your customers.

Chapter 7 - Recency (how recently did they make a similar purchase?), Frequency (How often to they mae a similar purchase?)  and Units of Sale (How much do they spend on similar purchases?): all good measures of a good potential customer. Sell people what they want to buy.

Chapter 8 - Read everything there is available in your industry. Make insights and find opportunities.

Chapter 9 - Personalise your marketing to the audience “Doctors” or “16 year old kids” and <Name>

Chapter 10 - Tailor marketing right down to the finest detail. Use resources already available to create new “composite knowledge” of value.

Chapter 11 - Make sure your marketing is read (opened, seen etc). Grab the viewers attention – do something out-of-the-ordinary that demands them to enquire further (attach a bag of dirt to a letter).

Chapter 12 - Lead the reader by the hand. Make things personal. Cover all the stops to enable low-barrier to action.

Chapter 13 - Test to see if adding a barrier to make marketing more personal will have a net gain of more sales.

Chapter 14 - Don’t bait-and-switch. Use a mysterious object and tie back the message to the mystery.

Chapter 15 - When writing copy, make sure you get all the materials you need and familiarise yourself with them.

Chapter 16 - Use AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action). Use a relevant attention grabber. Secure interest by providing facts or information of value to the recipient of the message. What benefits does the recipient get that excite his desire? Give very clear, very specific actions to complete – as much detail as possible – and apply urgency.

Chapter 17 - To become a better writer. Write good writing. Find good writers and copy their work in your own writing…

Chapter 18 – Pay close attention to the way you format your marketing. Make it look good, but don’t make it look like it’s meant to look good (noticeable). Make it fit in with what the reader is there for; don’t make it look like an ad. Don’t “sell”

Chapter 19 - Make your reader salivate at the sight of your ad. Clean, crisp, high-contrast works best for first impressions. Invite the reader to feel good (a “lift”).

Chapter 20 - Never make a decision when you are HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired). It is the act itself that counts, not how far you go in doing it. Get and and go; regularly.

Chapter 21 - Have a good explanation for the deal you are giving! (This makes it believable) Use visual imagery.

Chapter 22 – Read your content out loud. Make it smooth! Find the market first, then design the product.

Chapter 23 - Be well-read, well up-to-date on the area of your life you are passionate about and make money from. Know where you want to go and work towards that.

Chapter 24 - Attach some mysterious oddity to your advertising. Tie that to the ad. Don’t use cheap tricks!

Chapter 25 - Be self-aware. Know when you are having a good patch or a bad patch. When it’s bad, take time to re-strengthen and recover your resolve.

That’s the summary of what I took from this set of letters. I intend to read many of the others too: here.

I hope you enjoyed reading and learning with me. What did you learn? Let’s talk in the comments below.

A great advertisement from Telecom – “Abstain for the Game”

There’s a lot of noise happening about Telecom’s controversial campaign for the Rugby World Cup.

The campaign is called “Abstain for the Game” and promotes the idea that kiwis should give up sex during the RWC to show their support for the All Blacks.

Here was a Close Up interview with Kieren Cooney (Chief Marketing Officer, Telecom) that was very insightful.

I think this raises a question about good advertising. In fact, one of the public mentioned that there was “good advertising, and outrageous advertising. Both you remember.”

What is the purpose of advertising, running a campaign?

It’s to build hype, raise awareness, incite debate and get people talking.

What has the Telecom Ad done?   Exactly that.

Yes, the advert creates a polarisation of the audience – stingey, serious kiwis vs fun-loving, humourous kiwis.

The result of this advert is that the serious kiwis are outraged with the campaign. They tell lots of people that they are angry, the word gets spread.

And, the fun-loving, humourous kiwis see the ad and tell their friends how tongue-in-cheek it is and outrageous to suggest. The word gets spread.

After the rugby world cup, we won’t even remember this campaign. So, for this week and the near future all we hear is: Telecom. Telecom. Telecom. Telecom. Telecom. Telecom. Telecom. Telecom.

Good work Telecom!

A final comment about kiwi supporters…have some fun! It is possible that the All Blacks don’t win World Cups because they have so much pressure on them. Pressure is the killer of creativity and innovation – which our All Blacks are known for. I find it sad that a country only supports its team when they win – the All Blacks are not indomitable – they do lose. And it is unacceptable for you to cut them down when they do. Celebrate success. Revolt in defeat and I promise the All Blacks will win RWC2011!

Anyway, let me know what you think of the controversial “Abstain from the Game” campaign below…

My passion for storytelling

I love people. I think you are interesting. But, for some reason, you are terrible at telling your story! Why is that?

My interactions with kiwis (New Zealanders) has shown me that they aren’t very good at selling themselves. Is it that you are too humble? Is it that you lack in self-confidence? Or is it a systemic problem in the country that we sell ourselves short, for fear that we will be shot down by the Tall-Poppyists? It’s a problem that I have no trouble with and want to help kiwis be better at.

You are wonderful, interesting, unique and valuable people. Believe in yourself!

Telling your story allows people to know who you are, how you tick, what gets your blood curdling and what makes you go crazy enough to take action. It doesn’t mean you have to brag, manufacture stories to look better. It just means being genuine, being true to yourself, showing yourself to others.

I’m really good at telling my story. As a result, lots of people know me for my passions. They know me well. They like me. I also have amazing business partners, friends, mentors and fellow world-changers all around me.

None of this could have happened if I didn’t tell my story.

So, I have seen storytelling in action, working.

I hope to hear your story in the future coming from you, or someone you have told. If you have trouble telling your story, please let me know. I want to help.

But, the first step is to tell me something about you in the comments below. 

What’s your D.I.D.?

The world’s businesses are jumping wholeheartedly into Social Media. This is undeniable.

Many of these businesses, however, are ill-equipped to do their promotion through this channel effectively or correctly. This means, that as users of social networks, we are in for a hell of a ride in the upcoming year.

My advice to businesses: learn a little before taking the dive.

There are a few key concepts and practices that will set you a part from the millions of other businesses seeking attention from “customers”. Find out what these are, they will make it work for you, and for your customers.

Businesses, as I see it, have two options:

  1. Hire a full time Social Media person. This person exhibits your company brand, attitude and personality. They are fully focused on growing your “community”, they don’t care about customers, they care about passionate fans.
  2. Outsource your Social Media activities to an experienced professional. They will be passionate about your brand identity, your attitudes and personality. They want to know your business, your customers, your fans, YOU. They want to grow your community and be part of it.

Option 1, is almost always the best alternative. It keeps everything in-house, in your control and the person working for you “feels” like you. Option 2, is the lazy alternative. However, this alternative could be the best option for you. Why?

Outsourcing to a professional: doesn’t require training an internal staff member, ensures an experienced professional, allows you to focus on your core business, while growing a brand presence and building a community.

When outsourcing, I recommend that you do the following:

  • Do your research on the individual or the firm. Many people purport to be “Social Media Guru’s”, there is no such thing. Social Media is a dynamic and ever-changing environment. No one can ever be a guru, but they can be experienced and show that they are keeping tabs with new trends. Find out what experience your potential outsourcer has, are they respected, have they grown communities, what is their focus?
  • Train, educate and ensure your brand is passed onto the outsourcer. The person handling your Social Media accounts is “representing” you and your brand, make sure they fit the part. Train them on your product, your attitudes, your personality and culture. If they aren’t interested in this, find someone else!
  • Watch over their efforts, and give them feedback once they get started. Give them some freedom and free stuff (to be given to your customers, of course) is always a good idea.

For a lot of businesses jumping in right now, I ask you to ensure one thing: Your brand must be a “living, breathing” person, have a personality, have an identity, have an attitude, have an opinion. This is your Digital Identity (D.I.D.)

My question, today, is quite specific, and I really want your opinion on it. It is best practice to ensure that your Twitter account is personal, and often a person identifies themselves as the Twitter person. An example tweet:

“It is really cool that Bill Gates is completely eradicating polio worldwide What can you do to help? ^JS”

The ^JS indicates that Justin Scott, I, was the one who tweeted this. This helps followers feel a connection to the brand, to the person tweeting.

If you are outsourcing, however, this may differ.

Would you want your outsourcer to identify their identity? Would you want your fans to know that “Justin Scott” was tweeting for your brand? Let’s continue this discussion in the comments.

If you like what you see, hear, read about Justin, email him today. Justin can help you formulate your Digital Media Strategy and if necessary he can execute this for you too.

Amazon setting a standard with WikiLeaks

Where do we draw the line with ethics? We have billions of people in poverty, starving around the world. We have climate issues to learn about and act on.

The reason I ask this question is because of the recent acts of Amazon against Wiki Leaks. For those of you that don’t know Wiki Leaks is a political nightmare; they are an organisation and website that publicises all sorts of sensitive information. They recently leaked 400,000 secret documents from the US government. You can read more about that here. So, Amazon have decided to remove Wiki Leaks from their servers in an attempt to silence them and stop their ever-growing momentum. Now, this is what I don’t understand…

In a world where so much more can be done by companies to end poverty and address resource constraints, why are we banning a political website that has a lot of support from the public? If Amazon, as a company, want to take an ethical stand point, why on something so fickle? Have they drawn the ‘ethical line’, for all to see, with Wiki Leaks? Or, are they starting to take action as a company.

If it’s the latter, then I would love to see coca cola or any ‘obesity-encouraging’ company banned too. But why stop there, let’s ban any banks that finance companies with unethical initiatives. You see where I am going with this?

If Amazon wants to take a stand and leave a legacy – a positive mark on the world – then why not start by doing something big…something inspirational?

What are your thoughts? I want to know what you think, please comment below.

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Social Media: Connect with your customers

This is a re-post of a column I write for the Albany Buzz, helping businesses get in touch with customers by using the web tools at their disposal.

Have you jumped off the bridge yet?

A mass pandemic has started: with businesses jumping online and trying to create a presence using social media. Are you one of them?  Have you created a Facebook page, or a twitter account?  How much success have you had from it?

If you haven’t already, that’s great. Now you can get involved with your customers, and start off on the right foot.

If you have, don’t worry, but maybe it’s time to re-evaluate.

Over the next few months, I hope I can give you a little bit of insight to set you in good stead on the diverse world called the internet.

So what is this “social media” buzz all about?

Social media, in a word, is “engagement”. It is a channel to communicate with your customers, create a relationship and ask them to do something. There are a few ways you can engage with your customers, the most popular ones are:

  1. Blogging; a website where you write short articles that would interest your target market. If you want to create value for your customers, and get them coming back to you, you need to solve their problems. A great strategy is to post regularly about your customers problems and how you can solve them, talk about issues and news in the industry and post updates about your company’s progress, products, customers or employees.
  2. Facebook; a website where friends and family connect with each other, share their news, information and maintain contact. A user is on Facebook to connect with friends, catch up on news and to socialise. A successful approach for Facebook, promotes this behaviour and focuses, not on sales but, community.
  3. Twitter; a website for people to connect with strangers, businesses and acquaintances. The main use for Twitter is for connecting with interesting people, networking or sharing and reading information. A successful approach for twitter is to create content (information) that will be shared because it is valuable, or to share information that is already valuable.
  4. Youtube; a website for sharing and watching videos that are fun, interesting or engaging; a hugely popular resource for your customers. If you want to create a face-to-face relationship with your customers, this is a great tool to do so. A successful approach for Youtube is to create interesting or valuable videos to educate customers, or even to solve their problems.
  5. LinkedIn; a website for professional networking, often used to hire staff and showcase your curriculum vitae. This is a great resource for B2B businesses, because it is a professional network, it helps you share information about your business, customers and industry in a credible and sincere manner. A successful approach for LinkedIn is to share information about your business, add valuable resources and ask customers to “recommend” your company or product.

To connect with your current and potential customers, these are the tools at your disposal.

Next time we will discuss why you should connect with your customers and how best to do so.

What forms of social media are you using as a business? Have you had much success from your efforts? What ways have you used social media that have worked really well?

Please post your comments below.