Monthly Archives: June 2008

Experiences This Week

I have had 3 bad experiences this week:

  • Elance - My Vendor is giving me a load of crap about some software I contracted them for. In essence they are not doing what they signed up to do.
  • Amazon 3rd Party – They sent me something that does not work, and now will not accept a refund, load of crap.
  • WOW Cable Down – The internet was down for 2 days at the house, I went so far as to order new service only to later cancel it after dealing with Time Warner and ATT customer service.

All of these experiences I am/was the customer. All of these experiences I was the payee paying for a service. All of these experiences I was expecting something good to happen and just the opposite happened.

What do you sell?

I heard something interesting today. You don’t sell a product or a service, you sell a feeling to someone.

Yes, so that iPhone, new gadget, website, robot, part, TV, etc. is nothing more than a means to an end, a feeling.

Depending on how well you sell that feeling, how well you sell that consistent experience, you will get repeat customers and make lots of money, which usually reciprocates with… feelings…

Updated: If you tie this in with my previous post, of the value/time relationship, it seems like there’s also a relationship between free time and good feelings.

The Value Scale == Time

When thinking about pricing for a product/service, I often start with what other things cost to determine the value offered per dollar.

In robots for example, you can get a basic sumo robot kit for about $100 or you can get a RoboNova for about $1000. The value spread on this is a little disproportionate to actual robot per dollar, but the RoboNova looks really really cool and has a bunch of features and is harder to reproduce.

In software for example, you can get some really useful software for free and you can even use most websites for free. But if you want proffesional design software like Photoshop CS3 it cost $650. What’s the value add for $650? People know it, ease of use, features are more usable? Same with Microsoft Office, even though most people can get by with Open Office, or Google docs.

In both of these cases it seems like value/cost equates to time. Value it seems equates to time to create/replicate or time saved, thought cycles saved. But it seems like the cost of things increase with their perception of the time saved vs real time saved which to me seems counter intuative to the 80-20 rule (Pareto’s Principle), but then again it’s perceived time saved.

So it’s my thought that there exist a value scale unique to each individual or business that equates dollars per hour to their time. Something that would save a week’s worth of time, would cost more than something that saves a days worth, and there are something that if they only save 5 minutes worth of time, might just be done vs. paid for. Thus people with less time spend more on time savers than those with more time.

E-Myth Revisited – A Review

I enjoyed reading this book, though after about a few chapters I started to get the feeling I was listening to a therapist rather than a business coach.

This book is heavy into the psychology of starting and running a business. It’s about the way you think and how you mindset changes from someone that’s conditioned as a “worker/employee/technician” to someone that’s an “owner/employer/entrepreneur”.

It changes your mindset from thinking about a product/service business to thinking of a business as the product/service. For some people this might be the shift they need to make it work. But fundamentally the definition of business does not change, no matter how you say it. Though changing how you say it, might make a difference to people.

The definition of a business used in the book is about a system/process of solving problems for people/customers in such a way that it’s repeatable and systematized so that it can function without any single person of talent and it can be automated to the point that the system of solving problems for people can function on it’s own. The key is that the problem, the product, the solution does not matter, it’s the system that’s important, then you switch out the product/service accordingly.

But even though I enjoyed the book, the over emphasis on psychology was kind of a distraction since I don’t like social science all that much, but I suppose that when dealing with people/business employing this branch of “science” is a requirement.

The other thing about the book that sort of get’s me, it’s a sales pitch for franchises.

J2EE Makes Programming Harder…

After a year off of working with J2EE (WebSphere) I started again this spring, but this time with Java 1.5, JSF and BEA. To my dismay, nothing has changed. For the most part the IDE, the frameworks, the amount of XML and inconsistent behavior all remain. Instead of making you more productive as a programmer, it makes you less productive. I literally spend less than 50% of the time coding, and most of the time, either waiting for things to compile, build, or chasing something that should not behave a certain way, only to find later it resolves itself for no apparent reason.

I enjoy PHP because of consistent behavior, and no build/deploy crap. I enjoy solving problems and building solutions, not waiting for a tool or a language or a framework to work the way it’s suppose to.

Don't Need Microsoft Any More…

This week-end I decided enough, was enough. I did not want to endure XP anymore, and did not want to struggle with Vista. I was tired of the 6-month computer rebuild and the drivers, and the crashes, yada, yada, yada…

Today I purchased a new MSI board with a Duo Core E8400 chip with 4GB of RAM and I reused my old video cards. It took 45 minutes from build to install, WOW!

After a day of using UBUNTU, I am really surprised at how easy things have been to install and use. I have had no problems doing things but my mind is still adjusting.

5 things I have learned about marketing.

Over the past few years of trying to sell robots, websites, etc. I have learned a few things about marketing I thought I would share:

1. It’s not all marketing, but at first it is

Probably the best and worst movie of all time, Field of Dreams (If you build it they will come). This has probably been the single worst piece of advice I ever took. I use to think that if you built things, good things, people would flock to them and you would make millions. Wrong.

Eventually, the quality of your product makes a difference, but not at first, first it’s all marketing and getting product shipped, second it’s about refining your product and making it better.

2. Websites are all marketing

I use to think that the web was about product, but it’s not really, there’s so much product out there and so many similar sites or software that the product/service you offer is a commodity. What you are really doing is just marketing, marketing better than the other people. What you build will be copied cheap, and if you already don’t have a bunch of marketing behind you, your doomed to the dead pool. Of course see #1.

3. New products require something visual and need to be intuitive

In order to sell something “new” to people you need to let them see it and they need to understand what it does. For example: a sports supplement is much easier to explain in a three line adword ad than a power distribution module for a robot. The later, should really be targeted in a trade magazine, which a photo of your power distribution module, and a link to your website detailing all the specifications. The sports supplement on the other hand, just needs to explain how much faster/stronger you will be by taking it, then cite a few studies.

4. Micro-testing is a must

Try to sell before you make a product. Ignore focus groups because people will want to be liked, get data from people actually willing to purchase something; it’s funny how many people in your focus group will pull out their wallets and purchase your product as soon as you tell them you have 10 units in the trunk of your car.

Either acution some product on eBay, or run an adwords campaign sending people to a page where they give their email address in exchange for some information. Usually people willing to give email addresses in exchange for some information are also people willing to purchase your product or service. If you use eBay, you can use this to test the price of your product and the number of bids is definitely an indication of how many people will purchase something.

5. Be careful of micro-testing

Be sure not to give up too fast on your micro-testing. Adwords or eBay is a fine indicator, but it’s difficult to introduce a new product or service without something visual or something non-intuitive. Take time, tweak your micro-testing to ensure you are getting accurate results, you might even try some targeted ads on industry specific websites or magazines, but don’t discount your idea until your are sure your micro-testing is reaching your targeted customer.