Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Main problems when training people to use online software

Main problems when training people to use online software: by Jason Li 2012 ©

Trainers find many problems when training people to use online software as it is a lot different from traditional blackboard, books or PowerPoint. You will find also find that students are not always sure what to expect from online training, and the following reasons will show you why.


When using traditional methods such as PowerPoint or books, training is more in a Linear method. So you will get a PowerPoint slide and follow sentences starting from the top as they arrive on the slide one-by-one until the slide is filled with sentences. And then onto the next slide and the next sentence starts again at the top.

Linear training by explaining key words and short sentences can be quite hypnotic and you will have to use a lot of conceptual skills to help the students visualise what you are explaining.

In order to keep the concentration of the classroom; firstly you have to have explained a concept and managed to get the students to understand; then you have to drag them back from the images that make sense in their heads back to concentrating on the slides; then you need to provide some interaction so that the students don’t fall asleep due to the sequential telling by the trainer. If you just explain sentence-after-sentence one slide-after-another, you will very quickly lose the concentration of the students.

As you can see from the way I have written the five paragraphs so far about linear training, there has been minimal interaction so you might be bored at this point. Imagine putting students through this for an hour of reading slide-after-slide?

So if you are still using old school technology and methods, then at every 5 minute intervals you will need to provide interaction or the information will not sink in. By the way, could you see the word linear is spelt out in the paragraphs above. Just thought I would wake you up. It was boring what I had to write above, but necessary, so the big letters would have given you some intrigue. You might even re-read the above again now and let it sink in.

Problems with online training

The problem with online training is different. It is usually training of a software programme or package. It is hardly ever linear in terms of starting at page/slide one and ending at the final page/slide at the final sentence. So you if you are the trainer that likes to just start at A and just go through the motions to Z you will need to adapt.

With online training, you will need to create a script to make sure you have your own linear training method. So you start in the programme where you want, and take them through the screens in a sequence that best allows the students to absorb the information.

Needless to say, most online training will involve a lot of jumping around, so you must go slow and thoroughly through a section at a time. Miss any steps and your students will not understand what has happened or how they ended up at a certain screen in the software.

In a classroom

Training online in a classroom is different in comparison to using traditional tools, as you would expect. If the students are just watching you: clicking different areas of the screen, typing, amending and jumping into new screens, it can be hard for them to follow.

Also, just watching can be very hard on the concentration. After following you make 10 clicks and 5 amendments or passwords, this can mean the student has to remember 15 different actions in a linear process, but through different areas and different screens; this can also involve flicking between two or more software packages too.

To let you know what this is like, play 15 moves in chess or monopoly and then walk away for an hour and then try to exactly replicate every move and option available chosen. It’s very hard to do and hard to expect any student to remember and put into action later.

So break each section into bite size chunks so that students can master each chunk. So wherever the student is in the software package, they know what to do in that section and can piece together sections they do know well; which will help them know which sections they need to master.

Over the telephone

In most cases when teaching on the phone or a conference call, you cannot see what they see on the screen; so make sure you are more descriptive in your directions.

Here is a way to practise. Describe step-by-step how you would make a drink or pour a drink. Then list all the steps. Then an hour later follow the steps and see if you complete the task without any problems. You might do it well and have a perfect drink. Or you might miss a step such as ‘twist the milk cap clockwise until the cap comes off, then pour the equivalent of three tea spoons of milk gently into your tea making sure it does not splash everywhere’. Forget this step and you have tea or coffee with no milk. Your training will need broken down steps to help students in pretty much the same manner.

If you jump a step, the student will panic naturally as they want to keep up and follow you. They may not even say anything and click around in silence and then before you know it be on a completely different screen to you. Then you will need to stop and reverse the clicks, which means you will be wasting valuable time.

Click and follow

By far the best way is for students to click and follow you on their screen.

I have done this both in a classroom and on the phone with a board room of directors. If a few people are sat around a screen, make sure you have a dedicated person clicking the mouse, and one person on the phone on their side as the main speaker for their group; with yourself on the speaker phone as the sole voice so everyone can hear you giving directions and answering their queries.

Go through each section one-at-a-time, and then give the other side on the phone a chance to ask questions. If you get asked a question, just show small simple things to questions if you know it won’t lead to more questions. If you think it will lead to more questions or take a long time to answer, say you will note it down and come back to it later as it will break up the training sequence.


Just like any job, you need to practise a lot. Training online is not natural, you have to re-train yourself and quickly get students adapted at the beginning of the session to training in an online way.

So set the rules for the students to follow what you say and how you will give them opportunity to speak and ask questions as you go along.


Finally, make sure you have a script that you can test until it works. I have done this many times to ensure it flows smoothly and students can follow you seamlessly. It’s not easy to do. You just have to do it over-and-over again until you get it right.
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80-20 Pareto Principle for more profit

80-20 Pareto Principle for more profit: by Jason Li 2012 ©

What is the 80-20 Pareto Principle and what’s this got to do with business. It is based on an idea by the Italian economist Pareto and has been quoted and written about in many text books. Added to this, many modern writers and business people have also used the 80-20 rule to help their business. For anyone new to this then please read on. For those of you who are already familiar, I hope I can bring some new ideas which make the 80-20 law principle improve your business.

Main idea of the Pareto Analysis

To explain Pareto’s law in a nutshell: the 80-20 principle is where 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts. You could also interpret this as: 80% of your profits come from 20% of your customers or 80% of your wasted time is with 20% of bad customers/profits/admin jobs.

There is a small core in all sorts of categories where that core 20% affects the most results. It is a reoccurring theme. With this in mind, the principle can help you improve with your profits; less wasted time, have a more productive business, and can even improve your life. (See Wikipedia)


So how can you analyse and improve your business with the 80-20 rule? Let’s take some examples.

Referrals – who do you get referrals from? Which source gives you the most referrals, and which are the least? Why? How do you find more people providing referrals like the source who provide a lot of your referrals?

High profit customers – select the top 20% and work out who are these? What’s their profile? How did they know your business? What is it that makes them use your product and service? Why did they use you and not a competitor? Where can you do to get more of the same type of customers?

Bad customers – select the worse 20% and work out who are these? What are their profiles? How much time/cost do they impact on your business? What are the effects on your business if you did not service the worst clients? Can you use the energy/costs saved to find more profitable customers?

Which non profitable admin job takes up a lot of your time during the week? What can you do instead that is profitable in the same time? If you paid another person or paid for technology to do this none profitable task, would you improve the business if you could use the time instead to do profitable tasks?

Now these are questions which you should work through. I urge you to sit down with a pad and go through each question and take your time to review your business. If you are serious about making more profit, a life of less stress, possibly less working hours and free time to spend more of your profit, then you must do the above exercise properly to the best of your ability.

Imagine if a good customer who spends a lot of money with you had a problem and you had to spend time to fix it. And it would take you an hour to do it. You would do it. Now think of your bank balance as your business’s best customer (it really is). You would make sure your bank balance is very happy by doing a thorough review of your business with the above questions and see where you can make it better to get good results. If you don’t, then your bank balance might just disappear. By using the Pareto Principle over the next few weeks, you will see results that will make you feel much richer, more free and happier.

Major improvement

I have read much Brian Tracey material who is a major student and trainer of sales and goal setting. He suggests that we should find the one thing that will improve your sales skills and work on it. Then work on the next.

In terms of selling for me, it was an opening statement to get the owner or director of a business engaged enough to talk about the product or service I was offering. Then it became asking questions to know about their business and how to help with their problems. After that it was dealing with objections.

As I analysed which skill set needed the biggest improvement, and then worked getting better at them, so did my results as I improved. How can you do this for your selling skills, your marketing results or your business overall?
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Solving problems with the sales funnel

Solving problems with the sales funnel: by Jason Li 2012 ©

There’s nothing worse than having a lot of prospective customers but nothing is progressing. Have you ever look down your prospective customer list and thought well I should have X amount of business coming in? Or I should definitely have such an amount of orders either this week, if not next week or the week after at the latest. Or I have a load of hot prospects and just waiting for them to place an order.

Without having a method to work out realistically who is likely to place an order, you will only have a ‘pipeline full of dreams’. We all like to dream what if or what could, but dreams don’t always turn into reality, hence they are called dreams.

Sales funnel

Most people are familiar with a sales funnel. But what puzzles me is working with businesses and sales colleagues who say they have so many hot leads – especially when only a small amount of the hot leads turn into orders.

In my time I have trained a few sales people: some by colleagues just listening to me and what I do, and others by me just giving a few useful pointers or when people ask me how to deal with a certain objection or scenario. Either way, they all know from me that you need to know where people are in the sales funnel and there really isn’t a hot lead.

What is funny is that some sales manager also asks: “What is hot?” It’s not specific enough. It also teaches sales people to think about just what is hot and what is not. Hot is really a subjective qualification.

Sales qualification

To work out where your prospect is, you need to go back to basics. Yes you can qualify them at the beginning to see if they are firstly the right type of prospect. But most people just do this initial sales qualification and think that is job done, hot or not. That’s not really the case.

Let’s do an example of a funnel with different levels of sales qualification:

So you have spoken to the decision maker(DM) or one of the DM’s and there is interest. This is just level one.

If after further consultation you find what your business can offer can help your prospect, then you could say that is level two qualified.

Level three is when all the DM’s say they will be taking action to get a product or service like yours

Now the DM’s say your product or service is the match for them is level four.

Price and contract details are workable to suit both sides are level five.

Order placed, payment and implementation is the final level six

Lead generation

As you can see, just saying you have a hot lead is not right for the sales professional. Truly hot would surely be level five or six. How can you be at level five without a prospect knowing your prices or if every DM says your offer fits what their business requires best? Anything less than this is a tyre kicker; not very hot then, you must agree.

Why not try to work out where each prospect is in the sales funnel by working through each step in your sales process. Every business is different, so tailor your own sales funnel to realistically match the way your business runs. Then allocate all your prospects into each pot. Now you will know exactly how your flow or prospects are doing in your sales funnel.

So now you know how your sales funnel is, you can work out which types of customers are progressing through your sales funnel, and which ones qualify as good for you. You can see more by using the 80/20 Pareto’s law principle together with the sales funnel method too.

By using the sales funnel, your lead generation will be more focused on knowing which prospective leads will suit your business. Imagine knowing that when you come across a prospect you can tell straight away how they will typically move through your sales funnel, what per cent of this type of lead profile will go on to be a customer, and even if you should carry on trying to work with this prospect depending on past success or failure? Sounds pretty much more scientific doesn’t it. Now you can even find out which prospective lead types gives you a conversion average of 2 out of 10 or 8 out of 10... And so on.                                                                                                                                                                                  

Daily Money Actions

At each touch with a prospect you must find a subtle way to know if they have moved to the next level in your sales funnel. Hard selling doesn’t work; I hate it be used on me.

Every time a prospect moves to another level it’s called a money action. Eg, a director gets the board in a room for a meeting or they start to talk about a quote and give you information in exchange. Work out each day at each level in the sales funnel how many you are moving along and tally them up.

Now you can work out how many money actions you need at each level in your sales funnel as an average to do decent business. This is not to criticise your performance. It is to give you a realistic measure of where you want to be to gain a satisfactory amount of regular orders.

Where you are over achieving then you can learn what you did well, and which skills helped this. Where you are underachieving you can spend time working out what needs to improve the outcomes. As an example for me, I had a period where I was good at educating a prospect on the initial call about how a product would help their business and the DM would then go on to view the whole of the market. It’s just what these professional buyers did. To improve my odds, I emailed over our best testimonials about other DM’s using our product to give me a better call back ratio to speak to the DM again.

Buying Commitment

The end game is to get the DM to buy the concept of what your offer can do to help their business. Hard selling won’t work on someone who you think is a hot lead because you will just get pushed back.

So work on the sales funnel and money actions above. Get commitments to each level from the DM. No buying commitment to the next level will mean ultimately no buying at all and no money coming in. On the positive side, if you are good at understanding your sales funnel, money actions, and work with the right type of prospective leads to buy commitment to each level - then your sales will increase significantly. You can scientifically prove this if you go and do it!
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Saturday, 26 May 2012

Quality, Price, Delivery – What type of customer

Quality, Price, Delivery – What type of customer: by Jason Li 2012 ©

When you have a product or service on offer for your customer, there is a high chance there will be resistance. How can this be when you have an offer which the customer cannot refuse? You’re thinking it’s a no brainer. You would definitely snap it up if you were in their position.

Quality, Price, Delivery (QPD)

So let’s check the offer is right. We’ll use a customer with a shop assistant in a smart phone shop as an example.

When you go to buy a smart phone, what type of person are you. Do you buy based on quality and will choose on the best, no matter the price? Here is a guide to working a customer out quickly:

Quality – functions, benefits, the range of value created: from minimum to maximum a product or service can do.

Price – from the lowest price to most expensive in your range

Delivery – now or in two weeks

Only on the odd occasion does delivery guide the decision. Such as if you have a plumber who needs new taps for a job he is doing and needs it doing by the end of this afternoon – “what taps do you have in that I can take now?”

If there is no urgency, then it is down to quality and price now.

So here you will need to find out what is most important to the customer. You might ask:

“So what are the key features you are looking for?”

“What are the main things you want the phone to do?”

If you get: “not bothered really it’s down to cost”, then this is a cost person.

However, you might get someone giving you a long list of features they want – so you’re confused and wondering if they are really here to buy an item with the most beneficial features, and are in fact a quality person. So to double check you can ask after they have listed the features they want:

“So what budget range is ideal for you?”

“What’s a comfortable amount for you to pay each month?”


Funnelling is choosing a funnel to dig deeper with more questions to understand your customer better. Better let me explain.

Let’s say each criteria of quality or price or delivery is a funnel. What you can do is ask a series of questions on each subject to hear if the customer is willing to talk about it or finds it important – so that you understand a bit more about what suits their needs and wants. Here is an example of a quality funnel:

“If you spend a lot of time on the internet, what do you mainly do? For example reading lots of text/like online newspapers or watch videos?”

“Some customers do a lot of social networking and email and do lots of typing, how about yourself?”

“Let’s say the standard screen is 3.5 inches, tell me what screen size is suitable for you?”

QPD – putting it together

If the customer rambles on about: “as long as the phone does all the features listed and it’s not silly prices”, then they are a quality person, and cost not too sensitive.

If the customer says they only have a certain budget. Then this is potentially more a mix of quality and price person.

If the customer says ideally they want the best phone at £5 a month, then really they are a cost person. You might want to ask a further question to double check which features they would pay for and what they would stretch to. If they want a feature but won’t pay, you know the answer.

Hey, we all want to live for free. There is no point advising a cost person that spending a bit more will get them a feature they want, just leave them be.

QPD Profile

So you can create a profile of a customer each time now. In your head, you can mark each funnel out of ten to work out what type of customer you are dealing with here.

Let’s say out of ten, you can ask a few questions and know that a customer is maybe 6/10 quality, 3/10 price and 1/10 delivery – this is mostly quality. Or the next one is 2/10 quality, 8/10 price and 0/10 delivery – in fact they will walk 20 minutes to the next shop if they can save 50 pence.

You might have three directors in a room and they cannot agree, and are “Still thinking about it.” Well now you can build up a profile for each, then quote so that all three are happy as you make an offer that suits each individually.

Know your customer, tailor an offer

So you see, you might think you have a product or a service that is a no brainer and thousands will pay on the spot – but they don’t.  We are all different, different circumstances, tastes, values, stages in our life, and customers can be just pure baffling to you.

Now you have a way to work out what your customer wants and to offer them what they want to buy. After this, if they buy or don’t buy is up to them. If they don’t there will be possibly ten reasons that you would never have thought of.

The more you can understand your customer and tailor your offers, the better your products and services will be in meeting your customers buying requirements. This will lead to more people accepting your offers and buying from you, which means more profits.

Test the theory

Let’s take McDonalds. They are definitely not the best tasting burgers in the world. But I still go from time-to-time. Why? Well the quality of food is possibly 6/10. I have been to some cafes and spent ages pulling out grizzle and tiny flecks of bone cartilage out of my cheap beef burger. So now I must have decent quality beef due to these chilling experiences. It was just short of chasing down a cow and taking a bit at the knee. Back to McDonalds. The service is a decent 6/10, the restaurant itself is pleasant and better than some cafes so 7/10, and the toilets are always useful at 8/10. Then onto the cost, well it’s easily an 8/10. There are cheaper but then I can never go back to super cheap burgers again. As for delivery, it’s pretty much instant for popular products so 9/10.

So who generally doesn’t go to McDonalds, but would like to eat a burger and have no problems with McDonalds?. It’s likely to be people who want a great quality tasting burger at a nice restaurant, and can afford to spend more. They want more quality value and go elsewhere.

Is McDonalds successfully generating a lot of revenue? Is McDonalds profitable? Does McDonalds create value for a large part of the population? Can you look at your business to see how you create value that is irresistible to your customers?
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When your marketing is not working

When your marketing is not working: by Jason Li 2012 ©

I have heard different reasons why marketing is not working. These include people trying marketing promotion tactics such as: newspaper advertising, radio ads, leaflets, cards in newsagent windows, networking groups, word-of-mouth through friends, telesales, and so-on and so-on. But don’t blame the graphic designer. He or she is running a business and will help you spend and create any fancy artwork you want. They might not understand marketing strategy, but are amazingly good at design.

If your marketing promotions do not work, it’s normally because you asked the designer to create the wrong thing which you signed off. But now here is a way that you can reduce the chances of getting it wrong so that you are more successful and the graphic designer does not get their reputation tarnished.

All the above are really classified as promotions and part of marketing communications. It’s still part of marketing, but if you generally have a problem with your promotions then it is usually more to do with not doing marketing strategy properly. What you say in your communications is down to what you have strategically offered. If this is wrong, then people who see or hear your message have not found your offer irresistible.

Promotions and marketing communications are really just the message and how you communicate the message. Eg. Buy one apple get one free written on a leaflet. Sometimes, businesses can jump the gun and start communicating offers without working out what is enticing to a prospective customer.

Marketing is the finding out what your target market needs or wants so that you can create a product or service of value that meets the customer needs. Once you have done this, then let people know about it.

Let’s get back to basics

There are two general strategies: low cost supplier or high margin differentiated.

A low cost supplier is offering the very basic version at lowest cost to undercut competitors. Obviously, if you can add in some quality in your offer, for example if you make a cheap biro pen and add a nice smooth pen nib, and can still be cheaper, then do it. Your offer here is to the cheap biro pen market with a nice smooth pen nib so that it is not the same as other cheap biro pens.

A high margin differentiated is an offer of where you create better quality and maximum value than your competitors. But it will cost more due to quality components or expertise. Examples include Mercedes Benz, iPads, or a top lawyer.

Market research

A mix of theoretical and practical research will help.

Let’s say you are a landlord. You can ask at the estate agent questions to get an idea of who is your tenant type, or how to change your property to suit tenant types.

Ask good questions such as:

“From your experience ‘Miss estate agent’, what three things would a doctor want to feel comfortable living here?” You could directly ask a friend who is a doctor or a doctor who is looking at your property.

“When do students normally look for accommodation?”

“How many professionals would you say rent in the city?”

For more on working out your customer see quality, price, delivery.

Niche and market segments.

Yes there is a large market out there. You could say you are a landlord and want to rent out a four bedroom house with garden in the city. At first logic you would think there’s a million people in this city and they all need to live so we are in business. But then you do see houses that do not fully rent out, so the million people in the city means it’s a certainty guarantee does not wash.

You might notice that certain properties suit a certain type of tenant. Let’s say that the typical tenant for your property is a female in 20s with an office job earning £20k plus. This is your niche, your segment of the market, your target market. The whole market are all the tenant market types, and particular types are segments such as 20s office professionals, or 40s office professionals, or students, or doctors.

Work out which segment would suit your property and be the most attractive in this niche.


This is where you can create and highlight where you are blindingly obviously different from competitor offers.

Let’s take a landlord trying to put on a house for rent. There’s no point just putting a four bedroom house and garden for rent on the market. The garden might suit 40s+ office professionals. So find out what 40s+ people like to do in the garden. Make the garden a place where they can sit on a bench and read a book, or an area to grow their own plants etc. If you have doctors then have book shelf furniture and a nice office desk if you are a furnished property. If you are renting to university students then point out how you are close to student bars, the library, local supermarket, cheap shops, playing fields, condom machine (even students can afford a romantic meal at the local cafeteria with a partner and more).

Another example is offering to manufacturers a unique service where you are the only intellectual property lawyers in the city.

Unique Selling Point (USPs)

What is unique that you have that attracts customers to your products and services.

From the above differentiation, there will be features or benefits that your property has that others in the city cannot offer, or only a few can. Such as a flat with a balcony that overlooks a beautiful park.

Value chain

The value chain are other parts of your business that adds value, not just the product or service that the customer can only see or feel. So you can create more value for the tenant too. Not just based on property. Here are some examples.

The estate agent provides 24/7 service, so if the tenant has problems such as boiler not working, then a property manager will come around within 3 hours.

The finance team take monthly direct debits so the tenant does not have to go to a bank to withdraw hundreds of pounds rent.

For £20 an hour a maintenance man can come round to help on lifting or fixing things like cabinets.

The house has wireless so tenants can be on the internet in their own rooms.

Promotions and Marketing Communications

Now we know what our target market wants and we are clear what our offer is. Now we can start working on promoting the product to potential tenants.

So we have gone from just plain spending lots of money on leaflets and newspaper ads saying four bedroom house with garden looking for tenants to a targeted marketing communications at prospective customers who will find great value in the offer.

Execution and Implementation

There is a lot of theory and ideas here. But this is essential to providing a structure in how to provide the right kind of value to the right target market.

The hard part is now for you to do it. Doing it is the part that makes all the difference. I am happy to give you the ideas that have worked and for you to fill your cup with knowledge. Now you have to put aside a couple of hours and work on the above ideas to make a difference to your business.
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How to increase profit by creating value

How to increase profit by creating value: by Jason Li 2012 ©

Many times in the past I come across businesses owners who say I just need to find a way to increase profits. This is a natural thing for all businesses, because let’s face it, who’s working 12 hours a day or more for free (unless you don’t need the money)? The thing is, most of the people saying this really do need more profit to survive. But you can’t create money without creating value.
I have heard all sorts of ways people try to earn more profit. Here are a few snippets. Cut the cost of the materials/service/producing the product/service for customers. Many have gone down the route of reducing the quantity of expensive/quality ingredients involved in making the product/service and substituted with cheaper/lower quality. Examples include a web company using a less skilled web site designer to create the web site, or a cafe substituting good bread for cheaper low quality budget bread for customers.
Who earns profit in your market
In the short run, if you cut costs, then, yes you might see an increase in profit because it’s obvious - same turnover but less cost equals more profit.
But what is the impact on profit in the long run? Usually less profits. Why is that? As the quality of your product or service declines, you become more of an undifferentiated product.
In other words, you become a low budget low cost commodity like any other. This moves your business from the quality market to the minimal quality market. By doing this, the consumer just goes for the lowest price in the minimal quality or commodity market; and in this market, there is always someone out there willing to work for virtually no profit who will take your customers. Meanwhile, your quality competitors will also take your customers who pay for quality too.
So we can clearly see, yes cost is important to both the business and customer. But more importantly, quality makes a difference to the customer when they choose. More quality in most cases means more customers. More customers leads to more profit in the long run.
Business Link, Chamber of Commerce or Federation of Small Business (fsb)
Let’s look at the three leading business advice agencies. All three offer a service for businesses. fsb is more towards the smaller end. Business Link is a free government funded services. The Chamber of Commerce is a membership service like the Federation of Small Business but caters for all size of business.
Which is the one that your business would use regularly? The answer will likely be the only the one that provides your business the most value. In the UK, Business Link is generally free, and the biggest government business service. So why pay for business advice? The answer is that it’s likely that the other business advisory services have something of value that contributes to businesses enough that’s worth paying for.
Creating value
Possibly the number one way to immediately increase profit which also is lasting is by creating value. Creating value is both creating something unique, or better, and of a maximum benefit to the consumer.
Imagine a restaurant on a street with ten other restaurants. Each is different in food styles such as Chinese, Italian, French, Indian, English. They all operate the same in that they have the usual tables, chairs, menus and a waiter. They all want more profit and insist they are doing all the right things. So how does one restaurant create maximum value for the customer to increase profit?
 Think like a customer. A customer is waiting to spend their money on a benefit. Most average restaurants will stick to the trusted formula of good food and a warm safe environment as sufficient. “But what else can you offer me to make me spend?” is what the customer is thinking. Why not pause yourself here and write somethings down on a note pad on what you would do to create more value.
Okay, well here is an example. I went to a restaurant in London which had tables on a balcony so you can see over the restaurant floor in your own little booths. The reason for this is that every evening there is a fun performance on at night. People queue out of the door to get a table. To increase value further, the prices were only slightly more than other restaurants in the area for a three course meal.
Now imagine one of these restaurants on the street of ten creating a new way to eat, be entertained, with possibly even prices at an extra two pounds per person for a meal. Could this restaurant make more profit? Or should it stick to the formula used by many businesses to just take the easy route by doing what everyone else does, or just do the usual cut quality and cut costs?
Value is not budget
Value is not budget, or own brand, like you see in the supermarkets such as Tesco’s. Supermarkets are experts at confusion marketing. Using the word value is taking the above marketing version of value and putting a slant on it to associate with cost in accounting terms, such as the value or the valuation is £10 or £1. This is not creating value.
How to create value
In marketing, there are tools to make your business of more value such as unique selling propositions (USP’s), differentiation, competitive advantage, value chain and more.
Focus on value
In order to create value, you must look at what you do without considering profit first. Yes it’s a strange thing to do, something a university professor might say to a business person. But in this case, just thinking about profit will stop you being able to create maximum value.
You have to have a vision; a new way to do things that you can feel will make customers really take notice about what you can offer. You have to think like Steve Jobs or Richard Branson by creating a new vision that disrupts your industry. Then with your new offering which has more value, start to look at what it will be priced at for the customer – even if it is a little bit more, and how you can achieve this at whatever cost you figure. Without the vision of maximum benefit, you won’t know what customer pricing to work to, or costings to create your offering.
As an example, let’s say you can create a part of your pub a VIP football lounge. It’s a section that has the best view of a big screen, rows of seats with leg room like a terrace, good food served in trays, bar maid/waiters on hand all the time, no big queue at the bar, copies of football magazines to read, and is by far the best place in your town for watching the big game, but the entry is £3 per person. On non football days, it’s open business as usual. I’m not saying this is the formula for pubs which works. But I have walked past enough bars where they can hold possibly 100 people and there are only about ten people in watching a big game. Then there is another bar in the area with a bit more added value which is pretty full.
Is it the bar that’s got it wrong, or the people who have gone to the wrong bar?
But what if people have no money
If you are in a market that is in genuine decline, or people have no money, or you cannot add value then there are two real alternatives:
Firstly, can you create more value and reinvent the market? If you can then there is a chance of making more profit.
Secondly, if not then you must consider the cost/benefit of leaving the market. An example would be if you are a distributor of video tapes or video recorders. You can cut costs/quality of components, or even repackage or add value, but there is no market for this. It’s not money that’s the problem, as there’s plenty of people with a budget for watching and recording TV programmes. Sky, DVDs, online saas have created more value than video and video cannot compete.
Examples of businesses creating value and winning
Apple and Samsung – nice looking premium gadgets, lots of functionality, easy to use. Who lost out – Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Sagem.
Facebook, LinkedIn – nicely organised social websites with more functionality. Who lost out – MySpace and Friends Reunited.
Nike, Adidas and Puma – Create premium clothing, technology, products and brands which worldwide consumers enjoy using. Who lost out – Slazenger, Dunlop, British Knights.
Not everyone wants maximum value
Believe it or not, possibly 99% of people want better value and a better life – so they will pay more if you can offer it. But you will come across the odd customer who will take sitting outside in the rain in the cold at the restaurant next door if it saves 50p. We all have our reasons for doing things, so please don’t judge. Below is how to work out which type of customer you have with QPD.
As mentioned above, people just looking for lowest costs will find a lower cost supplier; it is not an easy game to win. But create better value than your competitors for your customers, and they will come to you as their supplier.

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About: by Jason Li 2012 ©

Small businesses need as much help with sales and marketing as possible to grow. This website is for all you entrepreneurs out there that have taken the journey to grow your business.

Today, there is not much help out there to help business; grants are drying up, government funded advisors are rarely accessible, and many business agencies and consultants want high fees. That’s not to say the fees aren’t worth it as I’m sure lots of businesses go on to benefit from the advice given. But it sure is hard to pay for advice and coaching when you are not collecting thousands of pounds in cash flow every month. So what do you do when you need answers to your business problems right now?

Interest in small business origins

When I was a young boy, before I heard of concepts like Business Link or the Federation of Small Business (fsb), I saw this great business entrepreneur Richard Branson on television growing his empire and having fun. I even read his book. Did you know he started virtually with just a few pounds?

I too wanted to create a decent small business that offered something useful to people. One day, I visualised I would be a success with my Mercedes and membership with the Chamber of Commerce. I wanted to find a way to get there.

So in my early twenties I graduated university with a BA in Economic and Social History, and then an MA in Marketing Communications to work in the commercial world.

I have also been involved in entrepreneurial activities such as running a take away and creating a football board game with a business partner as a free lancer that Marks and Spencer sold in over 200 stores in the UK. This was a mixed success; very high when you see your products on the shelves of Marks and Spencer, and lows were due to inexperience as we were young and were not wise to very subtle contract clauses that the procurement director and team put in.

Additionally, I worked as a funded business advisor to start ups too at Enterprise4all, an offshoot of Business Link. Lately, I have worked in sales and business development in businesses. So some experiences are my own, some from observing business owners, and some working for other people at the money making end of their business.

Learning about business

On my journey I learnt a lot of practical ideas and techniques used by all sorts of businesses from sole traders to large corporate money hungry businesses. Plus I have worked as a business advisor (as mentioned earlier) and watched other seasoned business advisors in action; and the odd business consultant who would charge thousands of pounds an hour for their lectures.

So with this in mind, this blog is a way for me to pass on experiences that are both mine and from other people that have had either a good or bad impact on the business. Plus you won’t have to pay for all the thousands of pounds for hiring a consultant – simply by reading the ideas on this web site. Best of all, you won’t have to spend years reading Business Week or the Financial Times for that little bit of practical knowledge that will make a difference for you.

The issue of finding business solutions

Like you there will a time in the day where you want practical business answers. Often, I tried reading books, searched on the internet, and could not get the answers.

When the football board game was created, we approached other business people and even asked “smart” people I knew to hear their answers, because I thought I was smart by doing this, all to no avail. I also joined the Chamber of Commerce (yes I got in) and spoke to the Federation of Small Businesses (fsb). I needed help in how to sell a mass produced board game in the top retailers. But no one could offer any solid advice (eventually it got into Marks and Spencer and featured in the local Lancashire Telegraph newspaper - click here to see the game).

My main issues included: how do I launch a new product, how do I get into a big company with my product/service with a small unknown brand (like Marks and Spencer), how do I know decision makers are really interested in what our business can offer, how do I put our business ahead of strong competition, how do I increase revenue; and ultimately, how do I become more profitable.

In order to find solutions to my issues I had to proactively find the answer like reading a book which is 300 pages thick, or listen to the odd YouTube video on my phone while washing up, because you never know what you might learn.

How do you benefit?

So after taking all this information in I wanted to provide a way for other entrepreneurs to have the information I was looking for that would have helped me. I hope some of the subjects you find here answer at least some of the questions and saves you years of searching and possible eases some of the pains you have with your business. So in essence, this web site is here for you as an instant resource – for you to get answers now.

I won’t charge you to access the web site, but I will be really flattered if you donate to let me know what I am writing here is of use to your business. This keeps me writing and running this website on my old laptop. I’m doing this in my leisure time in hope that this is of high value to one or two businesses out there.

I really hope that an idea or two you find on this web site helps you enough to make a difference. If this leads to improving your business or more profit, then that’s great. And then you use this extra profit to do something meaningful like book that holiday you wanted or to buy that present you want for someone.

Many readers will know much more than me, or have a great idea that works well in business; so please share it by dropping me an email at: I will look at it and give you full recognition if it is posted. Let me know the article your feedback is relating to and I will post the comments.

Even more help for your business

I’m still as desperate as the day I first saw Richard Branson on television to know how to get there as a very successful entrepreneur like him, and we all need your help and feedback. That’s so I can post as much value as possible for readers.

Oh, and one day I plan to provide some eBooks too for you to download to help your business further. But only when I have written eBooks of high value. I’m sure you’re getting to know how I want the information on this site to be positioned on the web by now. Did I mention value? So that’s the introduction. The web site is now yours to browse through. All the best for now.

To get going, click on START HERE in the top left corner.

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