Love / Hate relationship with Technology

It started back in high school I believe – the first time I was creating some program in Computer Science 10 class.  Using good old Basic programming language.  Some bug in the code was driving me absolutely nuts – and I HATED it.  Then finally I managed to solve it – and I LOVED it.

It happened again and again in my graduating year of high school when my best friend Aqeel and I were putting together a project for the Canada Wide Science Fair – a computer learning project. Many nights I was locked in this Love/Hate euphoria.

It was almost enough for me to decided to go into Computer programming – but not quite.  I liked other things a bit too much at the time.

Today it happened again – this time when dealing with a clients Email problem on my VPS server. Round and round I went testing, tweaking, tracing – then finally – it Worked!!

At 2 PM today I was absolutely hating everything to do with computers, the internet and in particular – email.

And at 4 pm I was Loving Life!!!

Couple Social Media Concepts

Two quick ideas related to Social Media that I want to talk about today.

First is the concept of ‘Likes’ – in particular Facebook Page Likes.

You see all the advertisements to get more likes, get 10,000 likes, how I got 5000 likes, etc.

Many people judge a businesses Facebook page by the number of Likes.

Well – my question is does every business want to be Walmart??

Walmart needs lots and lots of people – since they are a LOW-Cost provider.

Do you want to be a LOW-Cost provider.

Think of other Low-Cost providers – Mcdonalds, SuperStore, etc.

If that is your business concept – then go for the ‘lotsa Likes’ strategy.

But I challenge my clients to go for targeted Likes. Get Likes from potential and existing clients.

Gather the right Facebook Page fans and you will have better success with your social media marketing.

Second concept is about using your personal Facebook account for your business.

I do tell my clients that they should have a Facebook Business Page for their business and use that for all business promotion. At the same time, many people use their personal page for sharing (respectfully) business ideas. That is one of the nice things about Social Media – it merges personal and business – just like real business relationships do (people do business with people they like and trust – not just the business).

But if you are using your personal account for promoting things DO NOT duplicate posting the same things on your business page. The proper way to do this is to post the item to your business page – then if you want your personal friends to get that message as well – then share it on your wall.

Basics of Marketing

Many people I talk to struggle with the concept of marketing.

They understand many of the different strategies included within marketing – such as advertising, creating a website, building customer relationships, but they don’t know how this all intertwines into a marketing plan.

Let’s start off with a very simple marketing definition:

‘Marketing is EVERYTHING related to (that affects) the sale and transfer of Your Product to Your Client

. . and remember

The Customer Experience is EVERYTHING!

Let’s delve a little deeper into the Customer Experience.

First – what do we mean by Customer Satisfaction?

The first criteria is did our product or service meet their basic needs. This is the lowest requirement to get in the game.

Next – did our product or service meet their wants, their desires? Did it put a smile on their face? Did it trigger some kind of positive emotion?

Another key to customer satisfaction is to meet their expectations. I should say meet or exceed their expectations.

Now that we are beginning to look at wants, at customer expecations, we need to start examining the customer – and there perception of value.

This all builds into the Customer Experience.

Calamities of Harvest

As with every operation, nothing goes completely right.

We had our share of breakdowns this harvest.

We started out with two combines running and a third one getting ready.

A little background – we run older machinery and I spend time fixing to keep it going.  That also means having a wrench ready during harvest to keep them going.  Over the years I have spent more than one late night session from 11 PM until 1 AM fixing a bearing to have the combine rolling the next day.

The third combine – an IH 1460 was one we picked up last year – at a bargain basement price – as it was a fixer-upper.

It needed a new hydro-static cable, needed a couple grain pan augers changed, and the blocks that the grain pan augers ran in needed replacing.

Luckily we have a 1460 parts combine sitting in the yard.

Logan had started on the repairs earlier in the summer, so it was just left for the both of us to finish putting the pieces together. We had it running soon after we were there.

But unfortunately the fan belt fell apart shortly after.  Then the fan belt pulley needed changing, and finally when it was running smoothly – maybe too smoothly – the back axle snapped going through a rut in a draw in the field (maybe a bit too fast).  Good thing is that we have it all back up and running and ready to hit the field next year.

The main combine – a Case-IH 1680 did quite well with only two related breakdowns.  The grain pan behind the grain augers fell off one evening, so a trip to the salvage and a little brazing had that one back running the next day.  Those combines run great when working, but they are built a little light and are prone to the tin tearing and breaking at times.

The 1680 did break an shaker arm – probably due to me not timing the shaker arms properly on the previous fix – sometimes at harvest you take short cuts and it bites you in the butt.

The other IH 1460 had very little problems.  The hydraulic header reverser motor had to be changed half-way through – but that is understandable as it got very very heavy use with all the piles from the hard swathing and the wind-blown canola.

Half-way through Dad made a deal on a combine he had been looking at over the last month.  Sometimes those late harvest deals can be great as prices drop as harvest progress.  We bought this one late one night – and possibly should have waited until the daylight – as there was a few small things wrong that we didn’t spot in the dark.  But the combine actually worked out very well – Jackson was glad to have a combine to run.  This was a John Deer 7720 (another fixer-upper to be) and he was grinning to be driving something green.

The only real issue was about  10 PM one night Jackson all of a sudden couldn’t go anywhere.  The combine would not drive in any direction.  Thoughts of a yellow lemon, instead of a fancy green deer went through my mind as I drove out to check on it.  Transmission gone? Variable Speed shot? Belts broke?

I got looking it over and all looked fine, transmission seemed to be shifting ok, variable speed working well, belts looked great.

Then I crawled underneath and spotted the problem.  A hammer and some fancy green duct tape and Jackson was back in business.  Duct Tape really can fix anything (with the right hammer).

Strategy vs. Tactic

When communicating – it is important that some of the simple words and concepts be understood by all parties.

One area that I strive to get my clients or students to understand is the difference between a strategy vs. a tactic.

A tactic is a single action that a business can do as part of their marketing.  A tactic has no criteria around it.  Thus sending an email is a tactic.  Networking is a tactic. Placing an advertisement in a newspaper is a tactic.

A strategy is more complex.  It is taking a tactic and putting specific criteria around that tactic to make it effective for your business.

Collecting emails from your website and sending them an email about your upcoming product launch is a strategy.

Joining the local chamber of commerce and attending their events to connect and meet with possible B2B clients is a strategy.

Researching the demographics of a newspaper, picking a target demographic, designing a compelling advertisement with a definitive call to action and placing the advertisement in the paper and monitoring the results is a strategy.