[Updated 30/04/12: Full details of Day 2 social event announced - read more and register at: http://www.prettypollution.com.au/business-catalyst-partner-event]

We're hosting the first official Australian BC Partner conference on 4th June 2012 in Sydney, with a full day of Partner presentations lined up. If you weren't able to make it across to Adobe MAX last year, don't miss out on this great opportunity!

The Adobe-sponsored full day event is free to attend for all Partners and is bound to be a great community building event.

To attend, simply book your spot below. We ask that each staff member from your team who'll be attending fill out the form, so we can best cater and manage the event. Once registered, we'll send you through location details and keep you updated.

 

We'll have special guests Jason Tinnin and Cesar Keller from Simpleflame, plus Brent Weaver from BC Gurus from the US presenting, who in co-operation with leading Australian Partners Brett Stockley from Pretty Pollution and Brendon O'Sullivan from Bosweb Systems will also be organizing a full 2nd day of community building activities.

4 June, 2012 (Day 1) Schedule:

Time

Presenter(s)

Topic

8:30 Jackson Palmer
Welcome and schedule outline
9:00 Liam Dilley Getting started with Liquid markup
9:45 Jason Tinnin  Taking Business Catalyst to the next level - case studies and examples
10:30
Morning tea break
11:00 Brett Stockley + Matt O'Malley Best practices with Business Catalyst
11:45 Jeff Perlman Application smorgasbord - integrate with 30 plus applications via a single portal
12:30
Lunch break
13:30 Mark Barrett Going up the food chain - using sales strategies and internal systems to increase projects value and lock in on-going revenue
14:15 Brent Weaver Positioning and selling your Business Catalyst services
15:00   Afternoon tea break
15:15 Declan Reynolds Effectively outsourcing your Business Catalyst projects
16:00 Tim Gentle Expand your reach - setting up an educated BC sales channel 
16:45 Brendon O'Sullivan Customer care and support best practices
17:30 Jackson Palmer
Thanks and closing
17:45
End of day

5 June, 2012 (Day 2) Schedule:

Join your fellow Partners for a day of fun and networking. We'll have barefoot lawn bowling and open-mic presentations throughout the day at the Balmain Bowling Club, then an after party not-to-be-missed at the CBD Hotel, Sydney.

A big thanks to our Master Partners, Simpleflame, BC Gurus, Pretty Pollution and Bosweb Systems for organizing and sponsoring Day 2. It's free to attend and bound to be a great day of community building.

 

Register your spot at: http://www.prettypollution.com.au/business-catalyst-partner-event

Time

Presenter(s)

Topic

11:00AM - 5:00PM
Balmain Bowling Club
Barefoot bowling, networking, open mic, and a sausage sizzle
6:00PM - 9:30PM
CBD Hotel, Sydney Partner after-party, fully catered, buy your own drinks
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If you want to turn off a potential client, talk about HTML, CSS, Javascript and technology features. 

BC Partner Fraser McCulloch shares his thoughts on plain talking and owning the deal.

Read on over at Adam Broadway's BC Evangelist blog.

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Brett Welch | BC

Never Too Expensive: A Guide To Selling True Value.

"You're too expensive."

Sound familiar? I'd bet that every business owner has heard a customer say this, be it true or not.

Before we dismiss this and start justifying that our price is just right - or even worse, discounting - let's think about the last customer who told you that you were too expensive. What were they thinking? Why? How could you have changed their minds?

This is a question that gnaws at the mind of many business owners, and, when confronted, the natural reaction is to make arguments as to why you aren't overpriced. You'll make comparisons. You'll draw analogies. You'll give discounts. And maybe you'll ultimately win the customer over. Hooray, and well done. You've got the sale.

But here's the not-so-obvious bit: your customer made a decision about the price your product should be... before they actually learned your price.

In other words, their price was set before your price was revealed. They made a decision about what they were willing to pay before you told them what you wanted them to pay.

And that means that you could have changed their minds before they even saw the price.

A Traveler's Expectations

A couple of years back I lived in Beijing for about 6 months while studying. As with most travelers who find themselves in country where they have a currency advantage, I found that many everyday things were much more affordable. Catching a taxi cost around a tenth of what I'd usually pay; eating out was similarly inexpensive. With less walking and more luxurious eating habits, my waistline started expanding pretty quickly!

My perception of what was expensive and what was cheap was set by my expectations of what I'd be paying at home - what I was used to paying for the same service or product.

It wasn't long before my perception began to change. I began to evaluate things more natively, and Chinese prices became their own benchmarks. My thinking became: "this restaurant is expensive compared to the one around the corner" rather than "this meal is so cheap compared to my local noodle joint back in Sydney".

This set up me up for a terrible shock when I got back home, since everything was suddenly insanely expensive! Over time this feeling fades and a $10 meal is no longer highway robbery. But the point remains - my price expectations changed because of my environment. How much I was willing to pay went up, then down, then up again... all based on my perception of value and worth set by my environment.

So - what are your customer's perceptions of value? What are they comparing your product to, and what experiences might they be drawing on?

Welcome to Wal-Mart

When you go to Wal-Mart, you expect low prices. Everyday low prices is their mantra; their advertising emphasises this endlessly, or once did. Walk into one of their cavernous stores and the endless aisles with their intentionally not-yet-unpacked pallets of goods on sale scream to you that you're in a warehouse. You're one step closer to the supplier. You're cutting out the plush middle man. You're saving money.

This is a well crafted image that gives you the feeling that you're being frugal. Doing battle with the crowds and walking half a kilometer back to your car translates to saving money. Your expectation at Wal-Mart is that prices will be low because of the environment you're in, the experience you have and because their branding and marketing tells you that they will be.

Luxury stores are the exact opposite - spacious and clean, with neatly spaced merchandise and wide racks made of sturdy materials. Each bag perches on a pedestal arranged just-so. The store looks and feels pricey, the staff are insanely fashionable... you already know that the products here aren't cheap.

How is your marketing and your store's look and feel conditioning your customer's expectations of price?

What's that?

You point at a strange looking wheeled object in your friend's loungeroom. You ask your friend:
"What's that?"
And they respond:
"That, my friend, is the most advanced vacuum cleaner in the world; completely automatic and cleans the house itself. It's a Roomba."

Now you're already wondering how much it costs; you want one. And who wouldn't want a Roomba, they're freaking cool.

But what if your friend answered differently, saying:
"That's some vacuum cleaner my mum got me for my birthday. It's a little spooky and doesn't work properly. Who wants a little robot running around their house pretending to vacuum things?"

You might disagree with your friend's statement about robots, because robots are awesome. But the lack of a testimonial or recommendation in that statement devalues the product. The way that you as a marketer or you as a user talks and presents your product makes a significant impact on perceived value.

How are you talking about your products? In your marketing materials, on your website, on the phone... are you actively using words that convey the value?

Your Checklist: Expectations, Images, Words.

My three stories above illustrated these three core points. Let me recap.

Expectations. Your expectations about a product and it's price or quality are shaped by your experiences with comparable things.

Image. The look and surroundings of a product affect the perceived value of the product.

Words. The words and attitude you and your customers take when describing the product affect the perceived value of the products.

That's it. If people are saying you're too expensive, then you've messed up on one (or all) of the above three.

A Note on Expectations

You'll notice that expectations can be a sticky one; what if my customers have paid $2 for an apple all their life, but I want to charge them $10?

This is almost another topic entirely, but this is where good old marketing wisdom kicks in: think about positioning. This isn't a $10 apple. It's an organic, GMO free, fresh-from-the-farm-picked-by-my-mate-joe $10 delicacy. And you're displaying them on a nice wooden table, in a moulded recycled carton, shining from the fine mist you've just sprayed on them... now that's a $10 apple.

A Final Word: Be Honest.

If you set the wrong expectations, or build the wrong Image, or wield the wrong words, it will come back to bite you. After your customers buy, they'll be disappointed. And that ultimately means you lose.

Which is why I'm truly not - and wouldn't ever - advocate building the wrong expectations so that you can charge more. That sort of strategy may yield a short term gain, but using good marketing to cover up a less glamorous reality is not a business strategy - it's a con. And that's not what I'm suggesting you do at all! :)

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Brett Welch | BC

Marketing vs. Money & The Brain vs. The Brawn

I was thinking today about the uphill battle that many small business owners face. They're fighting for business against larger, better funded competitors. How can you win?

In war, you can amass the biggest army and throw your soldiers at the enemy. The bigger the enemy is, the more soldiers you'll need - but hey, it works. Mostly.

In business, if you want to solve a problem, you can throw money at it. The bigger the problem, the more money you'll need to throw - but hey, it works. Mostly.

Big companies tend to throw money at problems, just like big guys are more likely to muscle their way through conflict. Little guys prefer to talk their way out of conflicts, like little companies attack their competitors with smart and efficient marketing.

When I say "marketing" I'm not talking about advertising and spending money on billboards. I'm talking about having a conversation with your customers; about making deals with like minded companies; about letting your customers spread the word for you; about making your product that much better than anyone elses; about making your service shine and delight.

History shows us that the biggest armies can fall to superior strategy and tactics; think Henry V and the battle of Agincourt. History also shows us that diplomacy and negotiation can achieve better outcomes than any war, and hence the saying that "the pen is mightier than the sword."

Well, I say Marketing is mightier than Money.

Right now, times are tough. And I've heard many business owners wish that they had more funding, or the resources of their larger competitors, so that they could weather the storm more comfortably.

That's fair. But the true winners out of this are going to be the smart, little companies who figure out that this a storm that they can talk themselves out of.

In this climate, smart marketing is a thousand times better than deep pockets.
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Brett Welch | BC

2 Cream Cheese Customer Service Lessons

Friday is "Coffee and Bagel" day for me. A white toasted bagel with cream cheese to be exact. See, I figure after a working week it's nice to treat myself to an easy, simple and delicious breakfast, right?

I really look forward to that bagel and its creamy cream cheesy cheese goodness. It's sorta like a mini-christmas day on friday - it makes me get up a little earlier and walk to work with a spring in my step.

And so it was that I bounced down the hill and into my coffee shop (they have the best bagels in North Sydney), rolled up to the counter and stopped. I ordered.

The lady took my order cheerily, then turned to her colleague. "Hey, are we still out of cream cheese?"

My mind entered a state of panic. No cream cheese was almost a deal breaker for me. So I waited anxiously for an answer.

"Yeah we are. Would you like butter instead?" She happily asks me.

My brain snapped back: "No-i-don't-want-butter-butter-sucks-on-a-bagel-you-silly-person-i-want-cream-cheese!!!!" But those words didn't make it to my mouth.

"Ummm..." I replied. I'm sure I looked pretty upset. "Ummmmmmm...." I looked down and resigned myself to butter on my bagel. "Ok."

The counter lady continued to serve me, taking my change and passing my order along. I was distracted, wistfully thinking about how much better my day would be with some cream cheese in it.

Just as I took my change, she says "Hey, we're sorry about the cream cheese. Next time have a drink on us, ok?" She passes me a free drink voucher. Now while  this may be pretty standard, I was surprised and thanked her.

I was suddenly a lot happier. I still missed my cream cheese, and my Bagel wasn't quite as good. But a simple gesture like that turned me from a disgruntled customer into a happy one. And more importantly, I will go back there next friday, in the hope that they have cream cheese once more.

Two important things to note:
  1. She made the decision to give me that voucher herself.
  2. The gesture didn't give me cream cheese, but it did improve my mood.
Which makes me wonder: in your business are you:
  1. Giving your front-line team the power to make decisions that make a difference?
  2. Giving your customers something extra when you disappoint them?
And finally, the most important lesson: A token gesture and saying "sorry" really does get you a long way.

Sometimes, human beings are incredibly simple animals. When we're upset or angry, we're usually in our basest, simplest state. And that means that it only takes simple gestures to start making it just that little bit better.
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I've been writing for the past few weeks on a problem I've called the Broccoli Problem. Broccoli problems are everywhere, and if you want to grow your business, you need to find them and remove them. The classic Broccoli Problem is embodied by my aunt and her son's objection to eating Broccoli:
Broccoli may be good for me BUT it tastes terrible.

Last week I wrote about Removing the Negative - how to remove the problem altogether. This week I'm going to discuss my third strategy: how you can simply embrace the problem and move on.

Embracing Your Broccoli Problem

This is probably my favorite strategy. It's super simple: that guy doesn't like the taste of broccoli, no problems. Just go and find someone who does! This strategy is about finding a better target market - the possibility is that you've just landed in the wrong market, and your product is better suited to another market. 

This one's rather interesting, because sometimes you don't necessarily need to embrace the problem itself, but rather you need to find people who at least  don't care.

Unfortunately though, it doesn't always work; my aunt couldn't exactly go and swap her son. That said, there are many Broccoli problems that can be solved this way.

Think about Diet Cola.

Diet Cola may have less sugar HOWEVER it doesn't taste as good as regular Cola.

You can fix this Broccoli problem by simply finding people who care more about the health benefits and less about the taste. Most broccoli problems can be solved this way, although sometimes it's not optimal to do so. 

Consider every single statement I've written about in the past few weeks - all of them could be solved by embracing the problem. You just need to find the niche of people who care more about the positive side and much less about the negative side. Problem solved.

Fixing your Broccoli Problem

So, what's your broccoli problem? Chances are you have a whole bunch of them and they all sound and look different. The key is to pick out the most commonly repeated ones, the ones that you think are holding your business back the most, and address those issues with the appropriate strategy.

Good luck broccoli hunting. Next week I'm going to end my affair with Broccoli with my final post on the subject - how to choose the right strategy for YOUR broccoli problem. 

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Brett Welch | BC

Your Business and The Broccoli Problem (II)

Last week I wrote about how you can grow your business by identifying the "Broccoli Problems" in your business. To quickly recap, a "Broccoli Problem" comes about when you're selling your product - the product has an obvious benefit that the prospect accepts. But the prospect also has an objection, which you need to overcome. So for my aunt and her son, the Broccoli Problem is:

Broccoli may be good for you, BUT it tastes terrible.

Now, onto the second strategy for dealing with a Broccoli Problem...

Removing the Negative.

Sometimes you can entirely remove the objection after the "however". This is impossible with Broccoli -my aunt couldn't exactly genetically engineer a broccoli plant to taste like french fries. Generally, you should always consider removing the negativer first, before any other strategy.

Think about this Broccoli Problem:

ABC software will help you grow your business HOWEVER it's difficult to use.

The best way to tackle this one is to remove the "However" factor altogether; fix your software so it's not difficult to use. This requires effort and is difficult and costly, but it's the honest-to-god best solution as well. There is a caveat here however. What about this Broccoli Problem:

ABC software will help you grow your business BUT it's too expensive.

"Ah ha!" one might say, "I can remove that one!" 

Whoa. Slow down Tiger.

Pricing is part of a larger picture, with positioning implications and cashflow impact. Maybe you SHOULD make it cheaper, but be careful - perhaps Repackaging the Negative is more suitable.

Overall, Removing the Negative factor should be considered. These factors (the removable ones) are often the hardest to fix and the hardest to even identify, but they also carry the most rewards.

Next week, I'll move on to the third strategy: Embracing It.

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Brett Welch | BC

Your Business and The Broccoli Problem

My Aunt Susan, being a good mother, wants her son to eat Broccoli because it's healthy.

My cousin Ben, being a typical boy, doesn't want to eat Broccoli because it tastes bad. 

This gave me an idea, which I'm going to call "The Broccoli Problem". My aunt has very valid reasons to give her son broccoli - it's for his health. But her son resists - also for valid reasons that are relevant to him. The son will say:

Broccoli may be  good for you BUT it tastes terrible. 

Now Broccoli problems are everywhere, always contain a 'However' or a 'But' and are nearly always subjective (you complete the sentences) :

Lower taxes may stimulate a stagnant economy, HOWEVER ...

Your girlfriend may have a wonderful personality, BUT ...

George W. Bush may be a great leader, HOWEVER ...

I'll remain silent on how I'd complete those sentences, but here's where I'm going with this: The Broccoli Problem is a marketing problem that you probably need to think about. Complete this sentence:

Your product/service may be of great benefit to the market, HOWEVER ...

That's why I'm writing this post. Every business has, or once had, a Broccoli Problem that they have to solve. So, how did my Aunt solve hers?

Easy: she diced the broccoli up and baked it into a tasty Lasagne. To this very day, her son still doesn't realize he's eating a plateful of Broccoli Lasagne. 

This is one strategy of dealing with a Broccoli Problem - repackaging the broccoli to counteract the negative after the HOWEVER. I can think of two more strategies and I'm sure there's more:
  1. Repackaging the Negative.
  2. Removing the Negative.
  3. Embracing the Negative.

Repackaging The Negative

This is what my Aunt did - she put the broccoli in a tasty Lasagne, which negated the broccoli's taste while still passing on the health benefit. That's repackaging the negative. In business, a classic case of a repackaging the negative is the age-old payment plan. Think about this Broccoli problem:

The Prius is an eco-friendly, stylish car, BUT I can't afford it right now.

Imagine you're on the car lot saying this to the saleswoman. She'll shoot back "Ah, but have you heard of our payment plans?" By doing this, she's effectively negated your 'however' factor by repackaging the car in an easy to digest payment plan. 

When you repackage something, you're not changing the product itself. You're not changing the broccoli - you're changing the way it's presented, the nature of the deal or how the product is sold. Repackaging strategies nearly always revolve around ideas like:
  • Cost amortization (payment plans)
  • Bundling (selling X + Y + Z together)
  • Splitting (Selling X + Y separately instead of as one)
So you can see we're not changing the product. We're changing the way it's sold. That's repackaging. 

Repackaging a Broccoli problem isn't always the best solution, but sometimes it's the only solution you can feasibly implement. That's where the other two strategies, Removing the Negative and Embracing the Negative, come in.

I'll cover the other two strategies in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.

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Brett Welch | BC

Street Cred is for Rappers, Net Cred is ...

Rappers Need Street Cred. So you need... Net Cred?

What's street cred? The urban dictionary of slang gives us this definition:

Street Cred
Short for street credibility (n) -
repsect(sic) from urban communities. usually something essential for making it big in the rap world.

Now if I may offer a definition of Net Cred:

Net Cred
Short for internet credibility (n) -
Respect from the online community, with tacit acknowledgement that the information or propositions you present online are real and somewhat trustworthy. Usually something essential for making it big online.

Unfortunately, Net Cred isn't really measurable - it's more a feeling people will get when they land on your website.

Think about this: when you're surfing the web, you're often looking for something. It might be a gift for your sister, some information for a project, or news on your favorite singer.

Sometimes you'll find something suitable, but then ask yourself: "Can I trust this website?"

That's when the website's Net Cred comes into play; the more apparent the site's Net Cred is the more likely you will buy the product, use the information or believe the news.

Zooming in on Online Businesses for a moment - for every business, there are some basic building blocks of Net Cred that can be (and should be) used pretty easily. If you are a business owner, here are some things you can add or do to your website to lend a basic level of Net Cred in the eyes of your visitors.

  • Your physical office address. Real companies have real postal addresses - so tell people about it!
  • A phone number. Your customers might not call it, but at least they know they can, if they want to.
  • Watch your spelling and grammar. It's simple, but important. If someone has too many spelling mistakes and poor grammar it's too easy to be dismissed as amateur.
  • Think about presentation. Your website should look good. It doesn't need to be a work of art, but spend some time, effort or money to ensure your site is well laid out and easy on the eyes. Either use a professionally designed template (as our online business builder does) or get a designer to put something together.
  • Make sure your site displays nicely on all browsers. Too many sites only work on Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE), and not Firefox or Safari. Websites need to work across IE, Firefox and Safari for mac users - if your site doesn't display correctly to your potential customer, they will not buy from you.
  • Add an About Us page. About us pages are commonly read by people trying to work out if they should trust a company. Make sure you have one! It should tell the prospect 5 important things about your company: who you are, where you are, what you do, why you do it and how you do it.

That's 6 things - and there's loads more, no doubt.

The point is simple: credibility is a huge question when your customers land on your website. You've got to make sure you are communicating your credibility effectively - or you'll lose them lickity split.

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bardia housman

Upcoming Book: Website Breakthrough 10 Easy Steps

Recently I was honored to be asked by Luke Hayes to participate in an advanced reading of his upcoming book "Website breakthrough 10 Easy Steps". Luke is an extremely successful internet marketer and has been in the game for a long time. I respect his mission (and drive) to help business owners succeed online. I found his book to be an easy read. He cleverly breaks down all the concepts so that those new to the game can grasp them quickly. More importantly it covered everything a business owner needs to know to start-up and begin to run a successful online business. 

You may have read about my 4C's of online success (Content->Credibility->Conversion->Customer). In his book, Luke sets the foundations for a perfect lead-in to the critical 4th C (the Customer) where Business Catalyst plays such a vital role. Our approach to see the customer (rather than content) as the centre of an online business enables business owners to understand their customers so they can increase their profits. After all it's cheaper to market to existing customers rather than pursue new ones.

Make sure you read Luke's book when it's published, as to get to the 4th C, you need to have covered the first three.
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