Paid online marketing options – Are they all the same?

Australia has 13.7 million internet subscribers who spend on average 10 hrs per week online and one of the top four activities they do is research and/or purchase goods or services online.

CC-BY Image from
CC-BY Image from

This means that paid online marketing is a sensible choice, but with so many paid online marketing options, what should you consider when investigating these for your business? And, are they all the same?

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)  

SEM is made possible through the data collected by search engines such as Google about people’s online search activities.  This data is then analysed by special software to ‘predict’ the type of information people are seeking when they use different search terms.  

Online marketing companies, such as Google Adwords, then rank these search terms or keywords according to their frequency of use.  Businesses then ‘bid’ for these keywords so they can linked them to their online adverts so their online ads rank higher when someone uses these keywords in an organic search.

SEM through Google Ads

Google Ads uses sophisticated SEM algorithms to place a paide online business ad in a way which is not too dissimilar to placing a traditional newspaper ad, in that the content of the ad needs to be right to capture an audience’s attention.

What makes Google Ads more powerful than traditional newspaper ads is the use of ‘keywords’ to narrow down where and when the online business advertisement is placed.  These keywords are then matched to the search terms (or keywords) which a person puts into an organic Google search.  

For example, when someone type ‘Sydney accommodation’ into Google, the search results not only bring up the most popular Sydney accommodation websites. The search results also show ‘paid’ online ads from businesses which have bid for the keywords ‘Sydney accommodation’.  

While this process sounds simple, the skill of writing an effective Google Ad and knowing how much to bid on the keywords which will place this ad in the right spot is quite technical.  These types of paid online ads are also very limiting in how information is presented as you can only use a certain amount of text and no images.  

SEM is also something which takes time before the ranking of the online ad can be verified to ensure it is linked to the keywords appropriately eg when someone types in ‘red shoes’ into Google, then only online ads selling ‘red shoes’ comes up.

You should either outsource this paid online marketing to an experienced and successful SEM company, or be willing to do the leg work of learning the art of SEM, and then spend the time testing your approach.  If you select the DIY method, then you also need to stay on top of any changes of how search engines rank keywords for online ads.

Marketing through third party websites via Google Adsense

Some websites, such as blogs and eNewspapers etc, allow third parties to advertise on their website to help generate an income. Placement of online advertisements on third party websites is usually done through an online ad network who offers financial incentives to third party website owners.

The most popular ad network is Google Adsense.  The initial setup process for Google Adsense is usually quite simple however Google Adsense offers limited one-on-one support for small business advertisers.   With these types of paid online ads you can create visual ads containing images and different font types/styles or have text-only online ads.

The majority of Google Adsense ads are CPC (Cost/Pay per click) ads so a business is only charged when a website visitor clicks on an online ad. Creating a Google Adsense advertisement is very similar to creating a Google Ad, as it can be done through your Google Adword account.  However, like Google Adwords, this type of advertising is best outsourced to the professionals unless you are willing to do the legwork to get the success you are aiming for.

Marketing through social media sites like Facebook

All of the big social media sites such as Facebook now offer targeted online ad campaigns.  Although these sites are not search engines per se, they do collect information or “data analytics” about their users like a search engine would. This data then allows these sites to place targeted paid online ads on their users’ Facebook page or in their stream according to their users’ demographics and/or previous activity.  

Social media marketing provides a much simpler option for businesses to market online then SEM via Google Adwords or Adsense due to the increased number of people who spend their time connecting and keeping up to date with what their social network is doing.  This activity allows sites like Facebook to have a captured online audience to market to.  

Instead of having to bid for keywords, Facebook Ads work on ‘impressions’. That is, the number of people Facebook can show a business advert to in their Facebook stream based on demographics such as gender, region or interest. This is much easier to determine than how people are ‘searching’ for things. Social media marketing has a lot more opportunity to be creative and visual compared to a search engine online ad.

Marketing through targeted emails

Done well, traditional online marketing such as email campaigns are still a very effective digital marketing strategy. This is because effective targeted email campaigns are sent to people who have subscribed to and want to receive this type of information through their email, as opposed to relying on a software algorithm trying to predict and match ‘keywords’ or through ‘filters’ which match people’s interests.

Targeted email marketing campaigns can be managed through your existing email account, however, online email campaign services, such as Mailchimp and Constant Contact, offer additional benefits like providing more professional formatting and layout through customisable templates.  

You can also then send more than 500 email address per day (this is usually the limit placed by email services such as Gmail and Hotmail to send in one day to help reduce spam).  Email marketing services also allow you to track how many people open the email, and which links they click on.  They can also act as a quasi-customer relationship management (CRM) tool as they can keep all of your subscribers’ contact details in them.

Targeted email campaigns do require a database of subscribers which you can create from your existing customer details.  It is important not to add people’s email addresses that you haven’t dealt with before or who haven’t subscribed to your list to avoid being reported as ‘spam’.  For more information read about the key elements of the Spam Act here –

Marketing through specialised directories

Before the world wide web enabled us to search for a business online, people used telephone and magazine directories to advertise their business. Luckily the function of a hard copy business directory like the Yellow Pages has now been replicated online through sites like True Local, MenuLog, Wotif etc.

Online directories are great for businesses which don’t have a web presence and/or are on a tight budget, as they offer a great way of getting leads due to their large online presence and marketing budget of the specialised directory site.  Specialised directories will often come up higher on an organic web search due to this.  Specialised directories are inexpensive and an easy way to set up paid online marketing compared to the above options if your business is in an industry which has a specialised directory available.


As you can see, there are a number of options for marketing your business online, however, each option has many advantages and will cost you time or money to set up.  Whether you decide to outsource the work, employ someone with the skills to do it, or do the work yourself, consider this as an investment in your business and not an expense.  Without effectively marketing your business to the right people at the right time, you will not be able to generate the revenue you need for your business to be successful.


Contact us now (email or [+61] 0400 732 270) to discuss how we can help you market your business online.

Stay up to date with the latest in being successful online by subscribing to our Digital Capability eUpdate or connecting with us online through Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Be no 1 by getting to know your competitors

It is important that you know why your customers think your business is better than your competitors as this will help you to understand what is your competitive advantage, and this will improve your business’s chances of success.

You can determine your business’s competitive advantage by undertaking a competitive analysis.  A competitive analysis allows you to determine what your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses are so you can improve your business’s own competitive advantage based on these.

CC-BY Wikimedia Commons -
CC-BY Wikimedia Commons –

Researching your business’s competitive advantage

To undertake this competitive analysis, you can use both primary and secondary data sources, however, the most cost effective way is by accessing and analysing readily available online information.  

While this means that you are only doing a surface level comparison, that some data may be dated, and that some online data sources are not as reliable or fit for purpose as undertaking primary research methods, such as focus groups and surveys, you can undertake the competitive analysis quickly and cheaply.  It can also determine whether you need to do more targeted analysis.

In this post, a case study of TripAdvisor’s possible competitive advantage as an online travel accommodation booking site will be used to demonstrate the competitive analysis process.

Step 1: Determine who your competitors are

The first stage of the competitive analysis is to determine your direct and indirect competitors.  A direct competitor is a business that provides a similar product in your region, while an indirect competitor is a business that provides a substitute product.  For example: TripAdvisor’s direct and indirect competitors:

Direct competitors Indirect Competitors

·        Wotif

·        Expedia


·        Trivago

·        Travel store or agent

·        Google Maps and Wotif will be considered as TripAdvisor’s top two competitors to do the competitive analysis.

Step 2: Conduct the research

There are 7 key areas of competitive advantage which should be used to compare your business against your top competitors.  

Here is how TripAdvisor compares to their competitors (together with the data source in italics and brackets):

TripAdvisor Wotif
Services they provide (Own websites) Online travel accommodation booking Online travel accommodation booking Online booking site for flights, accommodation, car hire, package deals and holiday activities
Target market (Own websites) Leisure travellers Leisure travellers Families
Profitability (Various news reports) Yes Yes Yes
Expanding or scaling down (Various news reports) Expanding Expanding Expanding
Length of time in business (Wikipedia) 2000 1991 2000
Positive reputation (Own websites) Independent ‘reviewers’ Find the lowest price Whole travel experience booked on one site
Negative reputation (Various review websites) Poor customer service,

Potential conflict of interest between reviewers and those hotels being promoted on the site,

Fake reviews

Poor customer service,

False claims of ‘best rates’ or using reward points

Poor customer service,

Bookings not being correct when people arrive at their destination

Step 3: Compare features and benefits

You can either use what you know are the key criteria to evaluate the features and benefits of your products and services against those of your competitors, or you can use the key criteria used by ‘Review Sites’ for your industry to do this.

In the online accommodation booking industry, review sites such as TopTenReviews, use a number of key criteria when evaluating accommodation booking services eg pricing, sorting of information, the amount of detail about the accommodation sites, the reservation process and booking help.  

TripAdvisor and Wotif did not make the 2017 Top 10 Hotel Booking Services, whereas was ranked no 8 in the world.  This gives a huge competitive advantage, and provides information to TripAdvisor about what they could be doing to improve their services.

Step 4: Undertake an operational (internal) analysis

The effective operations of a business can provide competitive advantage.  

This is how these 3 companies compared against one another (together with the data source in italics and brackets):

TripAdvisor Wotif
Financial resources (Wikipedia) Independent Owned by Expedia Owned by Expedia
Operational effectiveness (McCarter, 2017) Did not make the 2017 top 10 Hotel Booking Services Website ranked no 8 in 2017 TopTenReview for Hotel Booking Services Did not make the 2017 top 10 Hotel Booking Services
Product range (Own websites) Hotel bookings, reviewing and ranking Hotel bookings, reviewing Offers widest range of online travel booking products
Strategic partnerships (Wikipedia) Independent Owned by Expedia Owned by Expedia
Employees / Culture (Various review sites) Many employee incentives eg paid PD, dogs allowed at work, extra time off in summer, travel discounts, gym, free food Some employee incentives eg reimbursed/discounted travel, gym credits, health schemes Innovative entrepreneurial culture but poor people culture eg gossiping, highly competitive

Step 5: Determine market share

Business statistics websites like IBIS World and business review websites offer easily accessible online market share information.  These can be found (and sometimes purchased) by doing web searches such as:

  • Online travel accommodation website market share in Australia
  • Who leads the market in Australian online travel accommodation bookings?

According to IBIS World, in 2017 in Australia TripAdvisor was not even in the top four market share leaders in online travel accommodation websites, as these were:, Expedia, Luxury Escapes and Webjet. TripAdvisor needs to understand what these four businesses are doing to give them more market share in Australia.

Step 6: Determine competitive objectives and strategies

The competitive objectives and strategies of your business can provide a competitive advantage so comparing your competitive objective, and the strategies you will use to achieve this objective, against your competitors is very important.  

This is how these 3 companies compared against one another (together with the data source in italics and brackets):

TripAdvisor Wotif
Competitive objective (Various media reports) Grow market share in Australia Grow market share in Australia Protect/Maintain share in Australia
Strategy to achieve objective (Various media reports) Advertising Advertising and price Was bought out by Expedia

Step 7: Identify competitors’ strengths and weaknesses

By examining your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses you can put strategies in place to overcome or counteract their strengths as well as work out ways you can take advantage of their weaknesses.

Here are the strengths and weaknesses of and Wotif: strengths weaknesses
·        Ranked in Top 10 online hotel accommodation booking sites

·        Backed by Expedia, one of the largest online booking sites in the world

·        False claims on offers

·        Poor customer service

Wotif strengths Wotif weaknesses
·        Broad range of services which allows them to offer discounts

·        Strong Australian brand

·        Backed by Expedia, one of the largest online booking sites in the world

·        Poor customer service

·        Poor culture

Step 8: Determine your business’s competitive position and strategies to exploit

After reviewing these your competitors’ competitive objectives and strategies, as well as their strengths and weaknesses, it is now time to determine where your business’s competitive position should be, and how you business will achieve this.

Here are some suggestions that TripAdvisor could focus on so they have a clear point of difference to their competitors:

  • Competitive position: TripAdvisor is an independent online travel accommodation website which has a reputation for independent reviewing and ranking of travel locations and services
  • Competitive strategies: TripAdvisor could improve their competitive position by improving their website functionality and their customer service.

Final considerations

While doing a competitive analysis using a ‘desktop’ analysis via secondary sources of data only provides a surface level understanding of your competitors, it can help you better understand not only your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, it can also help you discover possible competitive strengths and weaknesses for your own business.  This insight will help you better plan and deliver your business’s competitive advantage.

It is also important to understand that undertaking a competitive analysis is not a one-off event, and it should be done regularly, either quarterly, half yearly or annually.  This is because your competitors, the economy as well as political and social attitudes change frequently, thereby impacting your business’s competitive advantage.  Regularly undertaking a competitive analysis will provide your business with strategies to counter any changes which may impact its competitive advantage in the marketplace.


Note: This post was based on the work of the Edward Lowe Foundation – How to Conduct and Prepare a Competitive Analysis.


Contact us now (email or [+61] 0400 732 270) to discuss how we can help you get to know your competitors better so your business can be no 1.

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Where do profitable business ideas come from?

Business growth is possible either through the acquisition of other businesses or through unique and innovative ideas which have a market which is willing to pay the price for the product or service to make it a profitable venture.  

For most businesses, acquiring another business is either not high on their business objectives or it is not financially viable.  This means they need to be looking for new business ideas to grow their business.

New business ideas are all around you

CC-BY Image - Environment Economy Society from Wikimedia Commons -
CC-BY Image – Environment Economy Society from Wikimedia Commons –

New business ideas are all around you, but developing innovative ideas requires a number of personal aspects, such as:

  • Having a ‘new’ mindset which is continuously seeking out new ways of doing things
  • Personal interests that present ideas which you are motivated to pursue
  • Skills and knowledge in an area, either through experience or training, which you can tap into for new ideas
  • Experience to draw upon to seek out opportunities
  • Resources, including physical, intellectual and personnel, which present new ideas or opportunities
  • Personal investment of time, perception, intuition, personal energy and drive which provide the headspace to be receptive to new ideas
  • Personal risk preference which determines the level of risk you are willing to take to follow through with an innovative idea

Drawing upon these personal aspects opens a whole new world of new business ideas.

PACE your business

Free image from Pixabay -
Free image from Pixabay –

One way to do this is by PACE-ing your business. That is, brainstorming potential ideas based on your area of expertise, experience or interest by considering the prompts under each of the key starting words of problems, analysis, changes and extensions.  

Problems Analysis
Related to:

  • Industry
  • Organisational/Operational
  • Product
  • Customers
  • Regulation/Compliance
  • Break down processes into parts – what can be done better?
  • What trends can be exploited?
  • Niches?
  • Internal – Skills? Talents? Resources? Networks?
Changes Extensions
Related to:

  • Legislation / Regulation
  • Social attitudes/structure
  • Technology
  • Add something before or after an existing product or service

For example:  

Area of expertise, experience or interest =

Helping businesses use technology

Problems Analysis
  • My clients understand the benefits of digital marketing and social media but don’t know how to get started
  • Opportunity – Offer one on one digital marketing/social media coaching and mentoring
  • Most businesses see an increase in their profit when they invest in their digital presence
  • Opportunity – Offer ‘digital first’ health check services which analyse where a business could profit more from their digital presence
Changes Extensions
  • More people are buying online or using the internet to research their purchases
  • Opportunity – Offer ‘how do your customers behave online’ consultancy services
  • My clients don’t know where to source a full range of the services they need to use digital marketing and social media
  • Opportunity – Partner with other businesses in my value chain and offer loyalty discounts to my clients, and cross promote our services on each other’s websites   

Download a PACE template and brainstorm the problems, analysis, changes and extensions for your area of expertise.  

You can do this yourself or with a group of people or get input from others. Also,  allow yourself 1-3 attempts to do this activity eg start the brainstorm, and then leave it for a while, then go back and so if you can add more information and suggestions.

Evaluating these opportunities

CC-BY Image Performance-Evaluation-Process-z from Wikimedia Commons -
CC-BY Image Performance-Evaluation-Process-z from Wikimedia Commons –

In order to determine whether these opportunities can become a viable business idea, you then need to analyse the critical success factors:

  1. How unique is the business opportunity? – what special characteristics does the business opportunity have that will draw customers to it, and away from competitors eg what is it the business opportunity’s unique value proposition?
  2. What up-front capital will you need? – what capital will be required to get the business idea up and running eg what human and financial capital will be required?  This will vary depending on the business opportunity.
  3. What is the anticipated growth pattern for the business? – will the risk of investing time and money to launch the opportunity be financially rewarded through low or high profit gains? How quickly can you make it happen and the make a profit?
  4. How readily available is the product or service now? – How long will it take you to get the product and service ready for sale / delivery?
  5. Are there customers willing to pay for the product or service? – Is there a market which needs this product or service, and will these customers be willing to pay the price needed to make the opportunity a profitable idea?

Analysing the critical success factors will help you determine whether any or all of these opportunities have enough potential to be viable and profitable business ideas.  

If you do identify a potential opportunity worth pursuing, then further investigation of this opportunity through a business ideas evaluation is the next step in determining whether this product would be worth investing in and pursuing.


Contact us now (email or [+61] 0400 732 270) to discuss how we can help you find your next profitable business idea.

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Do it in the Cloud: cheaply, safely and cleverly

For more than a decade, people have been taking advantage of doing it in “the Cloud” by accessing computer programs and online services through the internet rather than solely from the device they are working on.  

‘Cloud’ based services allow you to create and edit files from any device, such as Google’s G Suite or Microsoft’s Office 365, or use software as a service (SAAS) from any device, such as online accounting services Xero, MYOB Essentials or QuickBooks.

A number of these Cloud based services are also easily accessed through apps on your mobile phone or tablet, making it easy to do anything, anywhere.

Learn how you can do it in the Cloud: cheaply, safely and cleverly:

Do it cheaply

CC-BY image from Wikimedia Commons -
CC-BY image from Wikimedia Commons –

A number of Cloud based services are either free or inexpensive, and easy to use.  Often the business model for Cloud based services is to provide you with the service for free up to a certain limit (eg free for a limited number of users, days, storage space etc), however, once you discover what a great service it provides, you are willing to pay the often low-cost monthly subscription costs.

Services such as Gmail (Google) open a whole new world of freely available Cloud-based services such as Google Calendar and Google Hangouts (online meeting room).  It also has Google Drive which not only allows you to store your files in the Cloud, but also to do online word processing and spreadsheets through GDocs/GSpreadsheets, and collect online information through GForms.  

Other cheap or free Cloud based services or SAAS include:

  • Dropbox or iCloud – automatically sync and backup your files to the Cloud
  • Hootsuite – manage your social media posts and interactions
  • Endnote – make digital notes, and set actions and reminders

Do it safely

CC-BY Image from Wikimedia Commons -
CC-BY Image from Wikimedia Commons –

There has been a lot of media coverage lately about computer viruses hacking into the computer systems and making file and system access impossible.  To avoid this ensure you:

  • Have up-to-date anti-virus software on your computer
  • Ensure that you allow system and web browser updates to happen when prompted
  • Never open an attachment or click on a link in an email or in social media from someone you do not know or have not heard from in awhile (this means they may have been hacked, and the virus is sending out bogus but infected emails/posts)
  • Watch out for ‘fake’ emails where it looks like they are from your bank, credit card company or PayPal – none of these companies will ask you to open a document or click on a link in an email but rather ask you to log into their secure online site to communicate with them regarding your money
  • If you are not sure, check it on your mobile phone as there is a much lower chance that the virus will attach this device
  • Have strong passwords which have a minimum of 8 characters made up of letters, numbers and symbols
  • Do not use the same password across multiple Cloud-based services

A great way to stay up to date with doing it safely online is through the Australian Government’s Stay Smart Online Website, email alerts and Facebook page.

Do it cleverly

CC0 Public Domain image by OpenIcons -
CC0 Public Domain image by OpenIcons –

While there are many benefits to doing it in the Cloud, it does require good digital literacy.  Deakin University describes three elements of digital literacy:

  1. Finding information online by searching and navigating around the internet by using key search terms
  2. Using information found online by critically assessing whether the information which you find is useful to your needs, as well as accurate
  3. Disseminating information online by communicating and connecting with others without breaching copyright or intellectual property rights, or spreading ‘fake news’ or offending others

In business, other elements of digital literacy include:

  • sourcing and selecting the right Cloud based service which meets your business needs
  • legally and ethically managing information collected about your staff, suppliers and customers to ensure you correctly maintain people’s privacy
  • managing your business’s intellectual property and copyright

Here are some ways to improve your digital literacy:

  • Attending computing workshops at your local business enterprise centre or community centre, library or educational organisation, or
  • Doing an online course (free or paid) such as Microsoft’s The Internet, Cloud Services and the World Wide Web online course which covers topics like computer security and privacy

Cloud based services will continue to grow as their ease of use offer many benefits so make sure you are making the most of these services to manage your life and your business – cheaply, safely, cleverly.


Contact us now (email or [+61] 0400 732 270) to discuss how we can help you do it in the Cloud: cheaply, safely, cleverly.

Stay up to date with the latest in being successful online by subscribing to our Digital Capability eUpdate or connecting with us online through Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

New knowledge = new ideas = new business

Knowledge is key to the on-going success of your business because knowledge is embedded in everything that you do, and how you use that knowledge can clearly differentiate you from your competitors.

Knowledge was once considered ‘power’ because it was scarce and expensive to obtain. However, the internet, globalisation and mass migration is seeing knowledge becoming more and more dispersed, and easier to access. This means that you can quickly and easily access new knowledge which can lead to new ideas which gives you an advantage in your industry to grow your business.

In order to remain competitive, your organisation must be able to continually seek out and absorb three types of organisational knowledge in new and innovative ways to improve your products/services and processes (Wilson & Doz, 2011).

These include:

  • Explicit knowledge – this is knowledge which is easily transferred from one person to another, eg procedures on how to effectively service customers
  • Embedded knowledgethis is knowledge learned by observing how other people apply their knowledge in a given context, eg the explicit body language used when servicing customers
  • Existential knowledge – this is knowledge which exists in the behaviour and norms of people, and is only learned by doing eg the culture of an organisation which dictates how customers are attracted, serviced and looked after

In order to be proactive about accessing new knowledge, it is important to have processes in place which allow you to cost-effectively stay informed about how your sector, and the economy in general, is functioning and changing.  Accessing knowledge from a variety of locations then needs to be filtered and absorbed into your existing systems and processes of your organisation.

Three ways to do this are:

  1. Attracting: being a knowledge magnet

    CC0 Public Domain image from Pixabay -
    CC0 Public Domain image from Pixabay –

The most cost effective way to access new knowledge is to encourage people to actively seek you out and share it with you.  This requires that you let people know that you are interested in new ways of doing things.

Some of the ways to do this is:

  • Provide ways for customers to easily provide you feedback eg customer surveys or through having a ‘feedback’ or Q&A page on your website,
  • Be open and transparent and let your customers know what you don’t know yet but you would like to improve on to give them a better customer experience eg write a blog/social media post or a white paper which highlights where there are gaps in your marketplace which you are looking for help to solve

Knowledge holders will only be attracted to provide your organisation with their knowledge if they respect and trust your brand, so being professional in everything you do is very important.  Being a knowledge magnet often attracts explicit knowledge, so it is easy to filter useful knowledge and then absorb it by building an ongoing relationship with the knowledge holder. However, this relationship may involve licensing or contracting the knowledge, and it may receive some resistance from your existing staff in using it as they feel that they have little ownership over this new knowledge.

  1. Foraging: going on field trips 

    CC-BY image from Pexel -
    CC-BY image from Pexel –

Some knowledge can only be obtained by just being there to see how the knowledge is used in its original setting, and to then having the time to consider how it can then be reused in a different situation or location.

Some of the ways to do this is:

  • Plan holidays and conferences which allow you to observe and interact with others in different locations to discover new business models
  • Join a business mission to an overseas country – these are usually organised by a government department looking to grow exports

This methods helps to uncover embedded knowledge through explicit observation and questioning, so interacting with local knowledge holders is needed help determine the factors which enable the innovative activity to take place in the first place.  Strategies to enable ongoing contact with local knowledge holders and your team will be needed so to enable them to appreciate the context of the original setting when applying the new knowledge.

  1. Experiencing: living like a local

    CC0 Public Domain -
    CC0 Public Domain –

Some new knowledge can only be discovered by actually being immersed over a longer period of time in the daily activity of an environment to see the norms, social networks and culture which only exists through longer term relationship building.  This type of knowledge gathering also allows you to discover the legal and ethical aspects of how things are done.

Some of the ways to do this is:

  • Strategically partnering with another organisation in a different location which you can visit for extended periods of time
  • Working in another location for an extended period of time

This method of knowledge gathering helps to discover existential knowledge which is harder to replicate by your competitors, however, it is the most expensive method to obtain so it requires a clear strategic direction, possibly discovered through the attracting and foraging knowledge gathering methods mentioned above. Integrating this type of knowledge will require an appreciation of cultural differences by those staff still located in home base who are trying to apply this new knowledge.


Note, that these methods are not mutually exclusive and do require carefully thought out goals and reasons for doing any or all of them, however, in a fast paced and changing world, the need to implement new knowledge gathering strategies cannot be overlooked to remain competitive and attract new business.


This post was based on the work of Wilson & Doz (2011) called Agile Innovation: A Footprint Balancing Distance and Immersion.


Contact us now (email or [+61] 0400 732 270) to discuss how we can help you discover new knowledge to inspire new ideas to grow your business.

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5 ways to think and work like an entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs are driven by the possibility of starting a new venture or business to create something new or novel from an innovative idea with the likelihood of making a lot of money or helping others.  

CC0 Public domain by geralt -
CC0 Public domain by geralt –

There are many examples of entrepreneurs, from Bill Gates to Oprah Winfrey, who have recognised when an opportunity existed which allowed them to harvest substantial financial or personal rewards.  However, the harvesting only comes through having the right attitude, attributes, research and resources.

Here are 5 ways you can think and work like an entrepreneur:

  1. Think “outside the square” and have a “can do” attitude

Entrepreneur are opportunity obsessed.  This means that they have an “always on” radar for good opportunities to enter into new markets or industries. Their “can do” attitude provides them with the will power to build something from nothing.  This attitude also enables them to think “outside the square” when steering their new venture through ever present threats by planning, be prepared and being able to mitigate risk in unpredictable circumstances.

  1. Work hard and watch the pennies

Entrepreneurs are renowned for being passionate, hard-working individuals. These traits ensure that their new venture gets off the ground, often with limited resources.  This means that entrepreneurs are very resourceful by doing more with less, usually by using other people’s resources, and with little external financial support.  This means being frugal with cash and other resources even when they get early wins, as they need to remain self-disciplined by remaining focussed on the long term value of their venture.

  1. Think quick but think smart

At the start of the opportunity, the entrepreneur needs to make a quick assessment to determine whether the potential opportunity is worth investing their time and money. The characteristics of a good opportunity include determining whether the opportunity has a high return with good cash flow, and that it can be established with limited resources.  The assessment also needs to also take into account whether the opportunity is happening at a window of time where change or discontinuity is ripe or chaos is happening, or where there are inconsistencies or gaps in the existing level of service or quality of the product which can be capitalised.

  1. Work with others and share the success

Entrepreneurs knows they cannot realise an opportunity of their own.  They need to form and lead a team which is results focussed.  Entrepreneurs are also willing to reward success by sharing the wealth that the venture brings and promises with the team who has helped them to create this success, usually through share allocation or recognition.  They also need to support honest failure and help their team learn quickly from that failure.  This process comes through effective leadership skills and new business concepts such as creating a flat organisation built on a culture of change and chaos, and which is managed by semi-autonomous teams.  The entrepreneur also builds heroes within their team to help them realise their vision.

  1. Think organised, sustainably and be iterative

Entrepreneurs mitigates risk and communicate their mission or opportunity through a well researched business plan which explains the fits and gaps of the opportunity. The entrepreneur always ensures that their new venture is sustainable in terms of the environment, their community and societal impacts to ensure the long term sustainability of their venture. While described in a linear way, an entrepreneur’s actions are actually iterative in nature, where they are constantly and quickly learning and improving from mistakes and failures to ensure not too many resources are used if the opportunity does not work out.  

Work and think like entrepreneur, Elon Musk of Space X, Tesla, SolarCity and OpenAI:

CC-BY image from JA.Wikipedia - https://ja.wikipedia.or
CC-BY image from JA.Wikipedia – https://ja.wikipedia.or

Elon Musk is a well-known entrepreneur who has accumulated US$14 Billion as a business magnate, investor, engineer and inventor.  Elon is currently the CEO and CTO of SpaceX, CEO and product architect of Tesla, Inc, Chairman of SolarCity and Co-chairman of OpenAI.

Towards the start of the accumulation of Elon’s wealth, Elon co-founded in 1999, an online financial services and e-mail payment company.  In partnership with his brother, Elon recognised that there was a window of opportunity to provide these types of services as the internet has growing exponentially. then merged with Confinity which had the money transfer service, Paypal. Elon and his brother then spent their time and resources building a team to grow the PayPal service using viral marketing.  To ensure they used limited resources, Elon rewarded his team through PayPal shares.  Elon and his brother were able to communicate their vision for PayPal to their team and shareholders through their business plan.  Elon and his brother also took into account PayPal’s impact on the environment, their community and society in general.

When eBay acquired PayPal in 2002 for US$1.5 billion in stock. Elon’s 10% share in PayPal netted him US$165 million.  Throughout this entrepreneurial process, Elon was faced with many risks, including being ousted of his CEO role (but remained on the Board) when the PayPal Board did not want Elon to take the risk of moving PayPal’s Unix-based infrastructure to Microsoft Windows (Wikipedia, 2017).


Contact us now (email or [+61] 0400 732 270) to discuss how we can help you think and work more like an entrepreneur.

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Make your social media marketing a screaming success

Social media marketing is by far the most cost effective way that any business can promote their products/services.  Social media numbers continue to grow steadily each year, with Facebook still being the most popular site in Australia, and newer social media sites like Snapchat growing exponentially (Australian Social Media Stats – February 2017).

Here’s how you can make your social media marketing a screaming success:

The first step to successfully using social media to promote your products/services is to:

  1. Know why your customers hire your business to get their job done
  2. Own that point of difference, and make it your business’s mission for success
  3. Communicate this point of difference effectively via social media
  4. Ensure you have a ‘call to action’ on your social media profile eg buy now, call now, click now

The next step is to determine why you will be using social media to market your business, such as:

  • To be front of mind when people need the type of product/service you offer
  • To build a loyal fan base who love what you do and become your brand advocates
  • To educate your marketplace to improve their lives or businesses
  • To be known as an industry expert who people flock to

There are a number of Australian businesses who are very successfully making their social media marketing a screaming success with millions of followers and improved revenue generation.  They do this by using one or more of the following four ways to use social media effectively:  

1. Share your own original content

CC-BY image from Wikimedia Commons - Mine is yours -
CC-BY image from Wikimedia Commons – Mine is yours –

There was a time before the internet when information was scarce and only large organisations were able to effectively distribute this information. Nowadays, information is everywhere and available anytime, so holding onto what you know doesn’t make sense anymore as it has little value on its own.

By sharing what you know via your social media profiles, however, helps to attract people’s attention.  It also helps them understand what you can do and how effectively you can do it.  These perceptions are important when people are in the research and decision making stages of their buying journey.

When you understand what your business’s point of difference is, you will then realise that you have lots of content that others will find useful. You can then share this information through:

  • blog, video or audio posts
  • photo and infographics
  • reports and research papers
  • checklist and how tos etc

Case study 1:

Consider Australian fitness instructor Emily Skye.  She regularly educates her market and creates loyal fans via social media by freely sharing her fitness videos which people love.  Emily’s loyal fans then share these videos via their own networks.  This activity has attracted her:

  • 10.5 million likes on her Facebook page
  • 1.9 million Instagram followers
  • 114,000 Twitter followers
  • 57,300 YouTube Subscribers

Emily’s social media exposure has also attracted her a contract with Reebok. Emily’s call to action is for followers to ‘buy now’ – that is, buy into her fitness programs.  

2. Share other people’s content

CC-BY image from Wikimedia Commons - We Me Co -
CC-BY image from Wikimedia Commons – We Me Co –

As mentioned above, the internet is chock full of content.  While this can create a lot of white noise, it also presents a fantastic opportunity for you to curate and share content related to your point of difference via your social media profiles.

Doing this allows busy people to access useful information or readily have content to share on their own social media profiles.  The curation of this content is also very simple to do by gathering information from Google Alerts and by subscribing to email updates related to your point of difference.

Use your business’s point of difference to determine the type of information you should be sourcing and curating, for example:

  • Being front of mind – heart warming or thought provoking stories similar to your business
  • Creating loyal fans – fun or sophisticated information which links to your business
  • Educating your market – how tos or research related to your industry
  • Being an industry expert – cutting edge information from your industry which is hard to find elsewhere

Case study 2:

Consider Australian business, Street FX Motorsports & Graphics, who share other people’s motor sport videos which are either funny or dare-devilish. This activity has attracted them:

  • 9.9 million likes on their Facebook page
  • 400,000 Instagram followers

Street FX’s call is action is for these followers to “Shop now” – ie encouraging people to either buy their racing graphics, parts and accessories or a combination of all three.  These loyal fans are not just Australians, as Street FX’s has USA customers and beyond.

3. Interact with others in social media

CC0 Public Domain image by Clker Free Vectorly Images
CC0 Public Domain image by Clker Free Vectorly Images

People use social media more for the social than the media so it is important that you interact with others using your business social media profile.  This includes:

  • Liking or reacting (smile, shock, anger etc) to other people’s posts and comments
  • Tagging or @people in posts so your posts come up in their stream, and/or they are alerted to the interactivity and interact back with you
  • Replying to, sharing and retweeting other people’s posts and comments
  • Using #hashtags related to trending terms which link you to others in your field

This activity demonstrates that you are not just in social media to ‘push’ your business and its products/services but that you are interested in what others are doing.  This activity is particularly important if you are using social media to build a loyal fan base.  Powerful collaborative partnerships can also be formed by interacting with others in social media.

Case study 3:

Consider Australian strategic advisor and mentor of other leaders, Holly Ransome, from Emergent Solutions.  Holly interacts with others around things she is passionate about such as being on the Board of the Port Adelaide Football Club, meeting other inspiring leaders and sharing her political views.  This activity has seen her attract:

  • 92,000 Twitter followers
  • 7,700 Instagram followers
  • 3,800 Likes on her Facebook page

Holly’s call to action is to visit her website which showcases her services and the blue chip clients who utilise them.  Holly’s activity also helps to educate her marketplace while being seen as an expert in her industry.

4. Show you care about your customers

CC0 Public Domain image by OpenClipArt Vectors -
CC0 Public Domain image by OpenClipArt Vectors –

The best way to improve your business and its products/services or to determine whether a new idea is viable is to ask other people for their opinion about this.  Social media is the perfect platform to do this, and this activity makes customers feel like you care about what they have to say.

Others ways of showing you care about your customers is by asking them to share their content with you or creating / being involved in memes or trending themes which people find funny or entertaining.  Encouraging people to tag others into their comments to win a prize or get a discount also helps to builds excitement among your customers.

Responding to your customers’ social media comments about your business, whether they are positive or constructive, also shows your transparent customer-focussed approach to your business.  However, do not get into a rant with a customer online.  If you need to reply more than once to a comment, then take the conversation offline and communicate with the person via direct messaging, or acknowledge that the person is right.

All of these activities show the ‘human side’ of your business which helps your customers feel they know you and can trust you.

Case study 4:

Consider Australian family-run business, Appliances Online, who sell top-brand appliances.   Appliances Online post great ‘win’ offers by asking customers to interact with these posts.  They also have their loyal fans who share their personal experiences and reasons why they buy certain products that Appliances Online sell as comments on Appliance Online’s posts.  This activity has attracted them:

  • 385,000 likes on their Facebook page
  • 24,600 Twitter followers
  • 9,600 YouTube Subscribers
  • 1,600 Instagram followers

Appliances Online’s call to action is to ‘buy now’ by directing people to their online website.  They also use social media to be front of mind when people need appliances, as well as, to build loyal brand advocates. This interactivity with brand advocates then pushes Appliance Online’s posts into the social media streams of these fans so all of their network sees them.  This earned marketing is very powerful and cannot be bought.

Making your social media marketing a screaming success

Remember, social media marketing is not the “silver bullet” to your business’s success.  This come with:

  • Having a killer product/service which is in demand
  • Being customer focussed and providing a great customer experience, then
  • Effectively communicating the first two points with a strong call to action

Consistency in your approach to social media marketing is also very important as this creates the impression in people’s minds that your business is reliable.  Reliability instills trust.  

To ensure you are not spending all of your time in social media, use a tool like Hootsuite to regularly schedule posts which are then released over a period of time.


Contact us now (email or [+61] 0400 732 270) to discuss how we can help you succeed online by making your social media marketing a screaming success.

Stay up to date with the latest in being successful online by subscribing to our Digital Capability eUpdate or connecting with us online through FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter.

It’s not selling, it providing the right solutions

Lots of people go into business because they are passionate about something. They soon discover, however, that simply starting a business doesn’t guarantee people will flock to it and love it as much as they do.  They then struggle with the idea that they have to ‘sell’ their goods/services. This is something they are often not comfortable about.  Sound familiar?

Well, if you are one of these people who doesn’t like ‘selling’ you need to realise is that you cannot sell something to someone who doesn’t need or desire what you have to offer regardless of how fancy your marketing is.  Knowing this fact helps shift your mind from the fact that you are not selling but rather providing the right solutions to right people who need your type of goods and services.  

Review the following steps to find out how your business can really benefit from this different way of thinking:

  1. Get a solution mindset 

    CC-BY photo by Reedz Malik -
    CC-BY photo by Reedz Malik –

This all happens when you know and understand how your goods/services provide the right solution to your customers’ pain or gain point.  Then you make it easy for people to find and use your solution to rectify this pain or gain point.

The first step is adopting a solutions mindset is moving from a “We sell x” to “We help people do Y”, for example:

Selling mindset Solutions mindset
We provide aged care services We help people get the most
out of their twilight years
We sell specialist gift ideas We help people spoil other people
We provide accounting services We give people back their time
and their peace of mind
We sell clothes and accessories We make people look and feel great

Publicly stating your solutions mindset statement on your website and social media profiles as part of your branding is really important, as it helps to highlight your business’s point of difference.  Also use this statement as a way of filtering every business decision related to your customers eg how does this help our customers solve their pain/gain point.

  1. Determine what solutions your business offers

    CC0 Public Domain image by geralt -
    CC0 Public Domain image by geralt –

You can do this by really understanding why people use your product/service. Answer the question: “What job is that customer trying get done when they buy that product or hire that service?” If you’re not sure, ask your customers or potential customers.  

To entice people to give you this information to you can offer them ‘freebies’ or incentive prizes.  Do this by making it easy for them to give you their opinion through using an online and free survey tool like Google Forms.

Then post the link to this survey into your social media profile or you could set up a tablet at your front counter which existing customers can complete while they are onsite. Alternatively, you could add the survey link to the receipt or invoice you give your customers, and through an email campaign.

  1. Create the right solution driven customer experience

    CC-BY image from Blue Diamond Gallery
    CC-BY image from Blue Diamond Gallery

Research shows that customers are more attracted and are much more loyal to those businesses which offer a great customer experience.  A great customer experience happens when a customer’s experience with your business matches their expectations to have their pain/gain point solved.

A great customer experience occurs when your product or service is:

  • Easy to learn to use,
  • Efficient to use as it takes the least amount of time to accomplish the job they need to get done, and
  • More satisfying to use compared to other similar products and services.

Consider how your the product or service meets this criteria.  Ask existing customers whether they feel your product or service meets this criteria, and how you can improve on achieving this criteria.

  1. More is less in solution provision

    CC-BY image by SevenSeventyFive -
    CC-BY image by SevenSeventyFive –

Research also shows that reducing the touch points that a customer has to do to access your goods/services to get their job done, the happier the customer is.  Automating processes and services so the customer can get their job done quicker is the way to go. This also helps to reduce any chances of human error from the business perspective.

For example, consider the airline industry where you can book your flights online, print your own tickets, and do your own ‘bag drop’. This saves the customer lots of time and it also makes it more cost effective for the airline as well.

Without customers, your business won’t survive so placing customers and their needs at the centre is paramount. To ensure that you are achieving what you are setting out to do with your solutions mindset, measure what you say you are going to do against how well you are doing it.


Contact us now (email or [+61] 0400 732 270) to discuss how we can help you get the right solutions mindset so you can help your customers get their job done.

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Secure your competitive advantage in 2017

Really successful businesses don’t just happen.  They come about because they know why their customers hire them to get a job done well. This deep understanding of their customers’ ‘jobs to be done’ provides the business with an competitive advantage which is difficult to copy by their competitors. Businesses like Amazon, Ikea and Google are testament to this approach.

Successful businesses do this by understanding what their customer needs doing and then putting processes in place that allows the customer to get the job done beyond what the customer expected

So instead of focussing on the products/services their business offers, they focus on the job their customer needs doing.  This job centric approach is then used to devise systems and processes, marketing approaches, as well as their company mission statement and messages, and base all of their their business decisions, around this approach. They then measure the success of their business by the success of their customers’ jobs being done.

Follow these steps to develop a job-centric approach in your business and secure your competitive advantage in 2017:

Know the job your customer is hiring you to do

Free image from Pixabay
Free image from Pixabay

Instead of thinking of your business from the perspective of the products/services that it offers, consider what job your customer is hiring you to do to solve their pain or gain point. 

Let’s use a bookkeeper to illustrate this.  A bookkeeper is not just getting a business’s finances ready for monthly, quarterly or annual tax reporting.  The job they are doing for their clients is:

  • Giving their clients’ lives back by allowing them to spend more time with their family (or on their business)
  • Providing their clients peace of mind as they clients know that they are only paying the tax they have to pay, and on time, and/or
  • Improving their clients’ business by increasing their cash flow by invoicing promptly and only paying bills when they are due

Know what stops your customers from hiring your products/services

Getting the right message out to your potential customers about why they should hire your products/services will be driven by your understanding of what stops your potential customers hiring your products/services in the first place.  

CC0 Public Domain image by geralt -
CC0 Public Domain image by geralt –

Take our bookkeeper.  They need to know that potential clients may not ‘hire’ their bookkeeping services because:

  • They are embarrassed to let another person know they don’t understand business financials
  • They they don’t know whether they can trust another person with their business financials
  • They would need to expose their business performance to a stranger who may judge them
  • They would become accountable to another person about how they send their business’s money

Capturing testimonials from existing customers about how your business provides the perfect solution for the job they need done, as well as asking existing customers to write a ‘review’ on your business’s “Google my business” listing, will help your potential customers more easily make the final ‘hire’ decision.

Know who and what you are really competing against

Understanding what other options your potential customers have when making a decision to hire something to get their job done, or if they are compensating in some other way as a ‘quick fix’ to get their job done, is really important. Also, if the potential client already hires a product/service to get the job done, what are your competing against so the potential client will fire this product/service so they can hire your product/service?

CC0 Public Domain image by 3dman_eu -
CC0 Public Domain image by 3dman_eu –

For our bookkeeper, they need to know that they are not only competing with other bookkeepers, but they are also competing with the following as alternative options for getting the clients’ job done:

  • Accountants or Tax agents
  • Casual/in-house employees or family members who will do their finances
  • Accounting software with automated services such as matching bank entries to cash in / cash out entries
  • Organisations which allow automated direct debiting of bills

Potential customers may also have obstacles which makes the buying process difficult.  For our bookkeeper potential clients, this could be:

  • The anxiety of knowing which bookkeeper to ‘hire’
  • The thought of having to change what their already do now, or taking the time to set up new processes
  • Knowing what to do with their old systems or knowing how to fire other solutions
  • Finding the money to pay a bookkeeper

Establish the processes which will secure your competitive advantage

Once you really understand the job that your customers is hiring you to do, as well as the obstacles and other competing options which are available, you can now establish your competitive advantage through end to end job centric processes.  

CC0 Public Domain image by 3dman_eu -
CC0 Public Domain image by 3dman_eu –

You do this be determining what your business offers (or should be offering):

  • that is different to these competing/compensating options
  • which helps overcome any obstacles your potential customer faces in hiring your product/service (as well as maybe having to ‘fire’ something else), and
  • which will mean your potential customer will be more successful or will find it easier to get their job done.

For our bookkeeper these could be providing an ‘enquire to hiresolution:

  • Providing easy to customise template business finance policies and processes
  • Setting up ‘I have my life back’ or ‘Money saving’ folder or shared Dropbox folder for their client to easily share and file documentation
  • Setting up a mobile app on their client’s mobile phone which allows the clients to:
    • collect payment or invoice for products/services on the go
    • photograph all their receipts as they receive them and then share them through Showboxed
  • Providing easy to understand and action financial reports
  • Sending regular (and automated) SMS/email reminders about key dates / actions

To help the potential client make the transition, the bookkeeper should offer a one month Acquire before you hire trial period.  During this time, the bookkeeper calculates how much money/time they have saved their client by hiring them to get their job done, and done really well.

These end to end processes then become the ‘job you are solving’ blueprint for the bookkeeper to follow and keep improving on, and which is very difficult for your competitors to copy.

Acknowledgement: This post was based on the concept of ‘Jobs to be done’ or ‘Jobs theory’, a theory developed by Clayton M. Christensen, Taddy Hall, Karen Dillon, David S. Duncan.  For more information about this theory read Competing against Luck.


Contact us now (email or [+61] 0400 732 270) to discuss how we can help you secure your competitive advantage in 2017 through establishing a job centric approach in your business.

Stay up to date with the latest in being successful online by subscribing to our Digital Capability eUpdate or connecting with us online through FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter.