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May 2006
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July 2006

Customer Rights & Responsibilities

We all have dual roles in our business.  While we're focused on our customers, we also are customers for other companies.   We want to treat all our customers with respect - big or small, and we should treat our vendors the same way (and hope they do the same for us).

I've had the pleasure to work with Avnet as a new customer over the past couple of months.  Even though they're an $11+B company, and we're a startup, they have been very helpful and responsive.   We've even had 5 face to face meeting already.    They've been helping us spec hardware configurations and we just ordered our first configurations to test.   Their initial setup fee is $250.   That's all.   For this we get countless hours of consulting, component sourcing, integration and testing.  Yet other companies complain about the fee.   

Get real.

The best saying I've heard about this is:
We love to see all of our customers:
Some we love to see coming;
Some we love to see going.

Business is a community.   Make sure everyone likes to see you coming.


Physician, Heal Thyself

Marketing Sherpa is devoted to helping marketing folks use the web and other tools in an effective manner.   Too bad they don't test their own web site.   Site works great in Internet Explorer, but blows up in Firefox.   For instance, this article has a link to a case study (at the bottom).  Doesn't work in Firefox.  Turns out there are other links just like it.

Time to change your web tools Marketing Sherpa?


Ignore Competion, Maybe They'll Go Away

If it wasn't so sad, it would be funny.   I've written about working with the Launch Pad program at the University of Utah.  This program gave business school graduate students Jack hands on experience evaluating new business concepts.   They worked with the University's researchers first, and when there just weren't enough commercial applications, they worked with the community.

What a concept!  The students learn hands on skills; the community benefits.  Utah gets more tax dollars! 

But they made a fatal mistake.   The University's research on the whole was not of interest to the business community.   The students turned their attention to concepts outside of the University. 

So rather than have the researchers focus on becoming more desirable to the business community, they shut the program down.Sand_1

This is a pretty severe case of ignoring the market environment.   In the face of adverse conditions, rather than sticking to the original plan, maybe it's time to go back and re-evaluate those plans.

And maybe state run Universities should focus on programs to educate their students, rather than using students to drive revenue for the University.


Working Meetings are Fun

I'm not a big fan of meetings.   They tend to drift and we get to see office politics in action.   But meetings with a clear agenda and a task master can be fun.   Meeting I spent two days this week in an engineering meeting, synching up marketing requirements with engineering requirements.   There was a long punch list of items to discuss, and we started at the top and worked our way to the bottom.

Most items were routine and quickly checked off.   And yes there were quite a few spirited discussions on other items.   Those were my favorite times (and the breaks to get vanilla bean gelato).

The key to a good meeting is a clear agenda; attendees who contribute or need to learn (otherwise, please leave);  someone staying on task.   And when things get stale, go for gelato.


There's $5 in your case

Many times we ask people to invest a lot of time in training, planning and installation for our products.   For some future payoff.   Case Which may or may not occur.  And we wonder why we have long sales cycles.

I like to look at the Time to Value (TTV).   How long does it take your customer to start getting results and value from the time you get the purchase order?   The best products have a quick TTV and as the customer invests their time, the value grows geometrically greater.  That's  a win for everyone.

Short TTV = short sales cycles.