Being Different Makes the Difference

I work with a lot of companies and get to see how business owners think about their businesses. Probably the hardest thing for most, is finding their core difference.

You know how it goes. Ask 10 business owners how they are different and 9 out of 10 will tell you, “It’s our service”. Sorry but unless you can be more specific and prove how your service is better, it really doesn’t help.

Think about it. When you are looking to hire a CPA, an IT company or a plumber (we needed one this week — $95 an hour. Ouch) how do you pick? For most people it is hard to know which one to chose. For sure, Angies List and other ranking services help but it shouldn’t be that hard.

I think for many businesses, when forced to pick a competitive difference there is a fear that they will be excluding some prospects.For example if I am a window installation company and I say I only do skylights that will exclude some potential customers.But if there are plenty of people with skylight needs, try to create a point of focus. If you specialize in sky lights you can out compete the generalists.

So what is your competitive difference?

New Client Website Up and Running

I am happy to announce that one of our clients who is a plastic injection molding company has their website up and running. Many companies in the plastic’s business tend to present themselves in a very technical way but we wanted to focus on the benefits offered by the company and not just how many presses they have. The site was constructed in WordPress which gives the client a lot of control including the ability to add and change content as they wish.

If your company is in need of a new website, give us a call on 360-448-7474. We work with clients across the country in addition to the Portland area.

Heppner Molds Plastic Injection Mold Company

New Website

I have just moved the website to a new one based on the WordPress platform. It makes things a little easier from a maintenance point of view. I have a few new pages to be created and I’d like to add a few more graphics to break up the text so will be experimenting over the next few weeks.

Of course with anything new there are going to be some kinks to be ironed out so if you come across any links which are not working properly or have any comments about the new site please let me know!

Thanks!

Marketing in Japan

I was recently in Japan on business and observed something interesting while looking for something to quench my thirst. There are drink vending machines all over the place and I quickly found one that dispensed my beverage of choice. Both a small and a large size were available but to my surprise both were the same price – 130 yen.

I wondered if it was a mistake but not according to one of my colleagues. When asked why they were both the same price he told me that you buy the small one of you are not so thirsty!

And so it is with a lot of marketing in Japan. The motivations for buying can be quite different even though on the surface, Japanese people seem very similar to other places in the world.

How to Move a WordPress Blog or Website

I know this might seem a little “techie” but I though it would be hugely helpful for those of you that use WordPress as a platform for a blog or a website.

In the last few years WordPress has become increasingly popular for many good reasons. It is excellent as a website because it allows the owner of the site to easily update content without a lot of programming.

One of the biggest problems I have seen however is that ideally you want to develop the site in a separate location while you add content and work out the bugs. Unfortunately if you have a website with many page links, images, downloads, etc. it is a very time consuming process to move a WordPress site from one location / domain to another.

I had this problem just recently with a WordPress site that is quite sophisticated (check out www.micobusinesssystems.com) . It uses a lot of direct links that were coded to the location where the site was developed. Enter WP Twin to the rescue.

WP Twin is a program that makes a FULL copy of the website, changes ALL the links and enables you to move the site to the new location or domain. Including the time to read the instructions and put it to work took perhaps 15 minutes. The most time consuming part was uploading the backup/cloned site to the new location! Moving a WordPress site  that can often take hours.

Its also a useful tool for creating backups. Sure you can use the various backup plug-ins but you still have to do a bunch of reconstruction should the site be damaged for some reason. With WP Twin you keep the full backup on your local PC and reloaded it if needed. The only downside is that it can be a large file. The last site I did was 70 MB.

Disclaimer — WP Twin does provide an affiliate commission to me if you do buy using the links above. It doesn’t cost you anything more however. Please know too that I am genuinely impressed by this software and would recommend it even if there wasn’t a commission!

Oh, I forgot to mention, their instructions are excellent. They provide a video as well as a written explanation. Their site is a bit salesy and that did put me off slightly but their product is excellent.

ITunes Library Sharing Not Working? iPhone Printing a Problem?

I know this is not strictly business but it was driving me nuts so I thought I’d quickly blog about it.

Recently I was trying to use the new iPhone/iPad printing feature but the new HP printer (HP PhotoSmart D110) could not be found on my iPhone or iPad. Frustrating.

Around the same time I noticed that the iTunes library sharing feature was no longer working. Frustrating.

Turns out the cause was that I had at some point checked the Multicast box in my DLink DIR-825. I was thinking it would improve the multimedia experience across the network but in fact it made no difference and seemed to break Apple’s networking protocols. When I unchecked the box everything worked fine.

Lesson learned (again). If it ‘ain’t broke don’t fix it.

Audio Fox – New Client Website

I’m pleased to announce that we have just helped one of my clients upgrade their website. The company makes TV hearing aid devices and is called Audio Fox. If you or someone you know has trouble hearing the TV they should take a look at this helpful product. Even better; it is made right here in the US.

The price is going up on May 21st so if you want one, now is the time to order. Visit www.audiofox.com

Note that another local company made the nice promotional video on the site: www.spykermedia.com

How Does Your Company Handle Conflict?

I’m sitting on a Horizon flight from Portland Oregon to Seattle and we are an hour and a half late. Well actually it is less of a flight and more of a metallic immovable tube since we are still sitting on the tarmac.

The originating flight was late in arriving but now it seems we are over weight. They have asked for 4 passengers to volunteer to stay behind for a $300 compensation.

I notice that all the volunteers are as thin as rails. How come they didn’t ask for chubby people like myself to catch the later flight? It should be noted that like the aircraft, I am in the process of successfully shedding weight. Anyway, asking 4 random people (and do they have luggage?) to heave ho does not seem very scientific. Here’s hoping or this might be my last post – ever!

The real reason for this post is because frankly the flight attendants have not handled the delay very well. The guy next to me is a Gold MVP who flies multiple times a month to Houston on Alaska / Horizon. He is going to miss his connecting flight and, understandably is not a happy camper. And yet instead of trying to assure him that the airline will rebook him to minimize his inconvenience he is getting platitudes and condescension. This has not served to enhance his mood.

So how do you train your staff to handle situations like this? Obviously the problem of our late departure cannot be fixed but the way we, the paying customer, are handled can make a huge difference to whether they decide to fly with this airline again. And let’s not forget the handful of people like me who witness and then blog about it!

I don’t expect that airlines can provide 100% perfect service every time. There are many things outside their control but I do expect that they would practice and prepare for unexpected delays.

Oddly enough every time I watch airline staff handle this kind of situation it is as if the situation is somehow brand new!

How do you train your staff to handle mistakes and unhappy customers?

LED’s in Carpets!

I love the way some companies innovate and take an old, perhaps staid product and innovate. Starbucks did it with coffee, Cirque Du Soleil did it with Circuses and now this company has done it by embedding LEDs into their carpets. You can read more about it on the Fast Company Blog: http://www.fastcodesign.com/1662978/dutch-company-integrates-led-wayfinding-into-its-carpets

Mind Mapping on an iPad

A few months ago I bought an iPad. Just like it’s smaller brother the iPhone it changed the way I do computing. I now do as much email on the iPad as I do on my desktop or laptop computer.

In addition I use it more for news than a newspaper or TV. I think the reason for this is the instant on and the quality of the display. With an iPad there is no waiting for the computer to load. Because it is instant, even if I only have a couple of minutes I can turn it on and see what is going on in the world.

For reading, the screen is really super and I can read BBC news, CNN, USA Today and others quickly and pleasantly. Remind me to talk more about some of the news apps in a future post.

Over the next few weeks I will comment on the iPad apps that I really like and that are useful for small business. There are an amazing number.

My big-time favorite at the moment is iThoughtsHD (www.ipadmindmap.com). At $9.99 it is an excellent and easy to use mind mapping application.

If you aren’t familiar with mind mapping, here is an example:

image of a mind map

Source: iThoughts

Mind maps are a great way to sort out your thoughts and communicate your thinking to others. With iThoughtsHD you can also export the map into an outline format which can easily be used as the basis for a PowerPoint slides (each outline level is a slide).

To create a mind map it is simplicity itself. You just type in your ideas into boxes in whatever order you happen to think of them. Using your fingers you can then move the boxes around and create groupings that make logical sense. You can also add notes, and chose from dozens of icons for each item. Each category of thoughts can be color coded and shaded as desired.

When I first used the product I had some questions about how to move a sub-item from one parent to another. I emailed Craig Scott the owner and he replied quickly with the answer so I can say support is good too.

For a small business, this is a must have tool in my opinion. It is a great for organizing your marketing plan and getting your thoughts together — practical, effective and inexpensive. Can’t beat that.