Are You at Risk of Being “Uberized”?

If you’re like many Business Owners and Leaders you probably feel pretty good about the position you hold in your market… so did the taxi cab companies and drivers before Uber became a reality. Now they are scrambling and trying to find a way to survive… even to the point of trying to get political help in different cities to stay afloat.

Disruption and Commoditization have impacted virtually every industry today. There probably isn’t a single industry that hasn’t been impacted by a disruptive organization entering their market and stealing some of their market share. Uber is an excellent example but there are many others that have been equally disruptive. Companies such as LegalZoom have taken billions of dollars away from attorneys over the past several years. They captured and disrupted a document and transaction-based business and turned it into a commodity by substantially lowering the pricing of document preparation… impacting attorneys all over the country.

Amazon was an early disruptor to the entire book business… taking significant market share away from Barnes and Noble and Borders who were recognized giants in the book industry. And we certainly can’t forget about Blockbuster’s demise when Netflix entered the market. They were the unquestioned dominant leader in video rental and were virtually replaced overnight by an unknown company with a new disruptive business model that matched the needs of customers at substantial savings.

Even though these examples are in completely different industries there is one common thread that runs through all of them… they didn’t believe anyone could disrupt their dominance in their market. While it’s awesome to believe in your product or service, it’s dangerous to think there isn’t someone waiting in the wings to take away your position. Unlike any other time in history, we are now seeing new companies coming into traditional industries from many unrelated areas and establishing a disruptive model and capturing significant market share. This trend is only going to continue now that it has shown massive success over the past few years. So what can you do, as the leader of your business, to either avoid or minimize the impact of this potential disruption?

While commoditization is difficult to combat with products and services over a long period of time, there is at least one alternative that appears to withstand the test of time and delivers differentiation in the market… your CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE.

It is difficult to continually come up with new products and services to satisfy the ravenous appetite customers have today. Just when you think you have the best and leading edge product or newest service, someone comes in and “one-ups” you and takes away the leading spot. While you might remain there for some period of time, it is difficult to remain at the top for extended periods of time. Apple is one of the few that has been successful at this… but it took them many years of living in the shadow of Microsoft and others before they became the dominant leader. Today, Microsoft is in this unenviable position and trying to fight their way back to the top… especially in the race for the Cloud.

But these are behemoth companies… not the SMB market. They can throw billions of dollars at innovation and products and hope they find a winner. The small and mid-sized business (SMB) can’t be this frivolous with their cash and making too many product/service mistakes can wipe out a business before anything comes to fruition. The proven alternative to this madness is to focus on the ONE THING that is completely in their control to design and deliver… their CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE.

Customer Experience has both short and long term advantages. It is something that can be created and implemented within the year but last for many decades to come when implemented properly. And by properly I’m not talking about telling all your employees they need to be nicer to the customer… that never works for the long term… every company can be nice to their customers if they try. This isn’t the answer… this isn’t the differentiator… but it’s on the right track.

Creating a customized CUSTOMER JOURNEY that is built upon a very well defined Customer Experience Process (something we call Customer Experience Mapping) is what allows companies to reap these rewards for many years into the future. Think Disney… they created “the happiest place on earth” and continue to deliver this experience year after year after year. This didn’t happen by holding a meeting and telling all their employees and characters to be nicer to their guests… it happened because they have a very well defined Customer Journey that is built on a foundation of a well-designed and executed Customer Experience.

Nordstrom did the same thing many decades ago. They started selling shoes… then clothing… all at high prices. But they started with a very distinct process inside the organization for delivering an incredible customer experience day in and day out. Zappos followed this same model… sold shoes… one of the ultimate commodities in the clothing industry… and they dominate today. They don’t give discounts and silly things like “one day only” sales (every day)… they simply deliver a remarkable Customer Experience to every customer every day… and their customers love to buy from Zappos. And it has worked out pretty well when you consider they went from zero to over $1 Billion in revenues in less than 10 years and were sold to Amazon for more than a billion dollars. Not a bad model if you ask me.

One way to avoid being COMMODITIZED and losing customers is to design something even new entrants can’t copy… the experience you offer. If your Customer Experience is so incredibly amazing and remarkable… WOW… every single day with every interaction, this creates immediate differentiation and a long tail of success. It is the ultimate weapon against commoditization or even new entrants into a market. For a new disruptive entrant to take away market share they would need to be so much better and cheaper than anything you offered… which is difficult to do today. And for those of you that are saying to yourself right now, “Yea but we’re different, we do a good quality job and treat our customers well so we aren’t at risk,” I would offer you some instant advice… take the blinders off and get real with looking at your business. This is living in a fantasy world… this isn’t looking at your company from the eyes of your customer… they are seeing something very different. And if someone came into your market today and offered a completely different (and awesome) experience to your customers at or below your price they would be gone in a heartbeat.

Achieving long-term dominance doesn’t happen by “being nicer to your customers” and thinking you have created differentiation… you haven’t. Being CUSTOMER OBSESSED and creating a process based CUSTOMER JOURNEY that has a well laid out and documented CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE PROCESS at the heart of it is what will help you avoid being “Uberized.” This strategy gives you differentiation, uniqueness, and a special place in your customers heart and mind… it gives you the “long tail” of success.

I would strongly and passionately encourage you to learn more about why and how this is completely different than what you are probably doing today. If there was ONE THING TO FOCUS ON IN 2017 it would be to create a strategy based around a well-planned Customer Journey which incorporated an incredibly awesome Customer Experience by Mapping out all the experiences your customer will receive when they interact with your business (there are usually over 20 for most companies in the SMB market). If this is of interest and you want to learn more, let’s grab coffee and I can share how some of the best companies in the world have followed this path… for decades… and still dominate in their industries. I think you will find it a fascinating discussion…

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Tips for Developing Astute Investing Skills

Learn to discern conflicting analyses, reports, and data as you research investing opportunities

As an investor, you must make decisions based on your study, research, and personal opinions and beliefs. You should not depend solely on the research and opinions of others. There is much good advice and information available to you.

However, there’s also a lot of differing information that you must cut through to make informed investing decisions. Here’s what you can start doing now:

Understand decisions made by entities independent of publicly traded companies

General Electric (NYSE:GE), through its Power & Water division, GE Hitachi, offers advanced and sophisticated technology for the nuclear energy industry. The GE Hitachi nuclear alliance unites GE’s design expertise and history supplying reactors, fuels, and services worldwide with Hitachi’s proven experience in advanced modular construction. This is all well and good.

Nonetheless, previously, the Canadian Press noted that, “A Federal Court ruling has thrown out the preliminary approvals for a series of new nuclear power reactors in Ontario.” Therefore, this is a case of weighing company initiatives against the landscape and mindset of the jurisdiction in which they operate, or may wish to operate with new projects. You must be aware of this when you invest.Understand the difference between company outlooks and what’s going on in the marketplace

Cameco (TSX:CCO) (NYSE:CCJ), regarding its long-term prospects was very positive about its outlook and the outlook for the uranium industry in general. The company did say in its 2013 annual report that any development or expansion of its remaining projects would depend on how market conditions develop. Cameco’s intention is to build up Cigar Lake and to expand the McArthur River/Key Lake operation.

Commercial production commenced in May 2015 at Cigar Lake with a total of 11.3 million pounds (100% basis) produced by the end of the year. The expectation is that the build up to licensed capacity of 18 million pounds per year will be in 2017.

What’s’ happening in the marketplace? In 2014, Mining.com reported that poor markets caused Cameco to put its Millennium uranium mine on hold. The highly prospective Millennium deposit is on the shores of Slush Lake in Saskatchewan. Cameco had asked the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) to postpone a hearing scheduled in June 2014 into a licence application for the Millennium Mine project. The estimation is that this project has in excess of 50 million pounds of uranium.

Consider company strategies and the new economy

Sears Canada (TSX:SCC) Sears Holdings (NASDAQ:SHLD) never seemed to transform its operations as other retailers. Sears Canada dispensed some of its best stores and raised hundreds of millions of dollars in the process. Sears Canada was a mainstay in Canadian downtowns and major shopping malls.

The Company’s Toronto Eaton Centre flagship store became a Nordstrom (NYSE:JWN) store. Sears Canada has seen its target consumers taken away by bulk stores and higher-end retailers, not competing with them effectively.

Consider government reports

These are reports prepared by any level of government: federal, provincial/state, or regional or municipal. Oftentimes, federal government pronouncements paint a rosier picture than what is really happening in the economy. This is especially true at election time. You must look at what other government agencies are saying, not just the political figureheads of parties. Consider what U.S Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen said in the past. She told the Joint Economic Committee of Congress that under present policies, the federal government’s deficits, “will rise to unsustainable levels.”

As an investor, you must consider what that will do to the U.S economy, the business environment, and businesses. By extension, what will this do in the coming years to Canada’s? When the U.S. rolls over, it typically nudges Canada who’s napping on its shoulder.

Due diligence means more than just studying the latest quarterly results of companies. It means studying and discerning between different government, economic, as well as marketplace reports that often are contradictory. It’s your responsibility to discern between the wheat and the chaff. If this means taking longer to make an investment decision, so be it. In the end, you will make a better investment decision.

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Science Research Funding Under A Trump Administration – What Will Happen?

Right after Donald Trump won the presidency, scientists and researchers got together to stage a large protest with signs and marched on Washington DC to make their case for research funding fearing that academia would be cut off from those 10s of billions of dollars in money flows to themselves and their institutions. Apparently, academia is worried their gravy train will end, and maybe they are right – but protesting won’t work. Academia is already in serious challenges due to the outstanding college loan debt default rates. Is this a perfect storm for science? Let’s look at this a little closer shall we?

There was an interesting article in Scientific American in the January/February 2017 issue titled; “Ending the Crisis of Complacency in Science – To survive the Trump administration, scientists need to invest in a strategic vision that mobilizes social change,” by Matthew Nisbet which stated:

“As newly elected president Donald Trump takes office, the scientific community faces the likelihood not only of unprecedented cuts in government funding for research, but also of bold new attacks on scientific expertise as a basis for policy making and decisions. Trump campaigned on a pledge to eliminate as much as $100 million in ‘wasteful climate change spending’ and there have been reports of plans to severely cut funding for NASA and other agencies.” The article also talked about the NIH funding of Stem Cells and how they might turn back to the Bush years on that type of science funding. There was a point in the piece about the need for scientists to do better with PR and media so the tax paying public would be more supportive. In fact the author of the article suggested better cooperation with journalists was important to change the narrative to continue climate research funding.

Interestingly enough, the NIH and NSF and other big research funders are under the executive branch of our Federal Government. Academia is worried because they chose the wrong political side and academia had brain-washed our kids towards a leftist, socialist skew – they are in fear now, but they’ve allowed that academic bubble to build – academia has caused their own demise, with their High IQ’s they still don’t see it. What do I think of this as the founder of a Think Tank?

Well, here is my assessment; My gosh, that article was so out-of-touch with the new political landscape. In fact, Donald Trump’s Administration is a breath of fresh air for science, and he’s about the only one who can save scientific research and academia from their current path towards a cliff.

Sure there will be cuts in all the ‘politically correct research’ that many in academia are now calling “science” and yes there will be cuts in Global Warming research – after all, it is academia that continues to go with that IPCC globalist narrative that climate science; it’s “settled” by consensus (what?). The climate scientists hypocrisy is epic – you see, if it is settled then there doesn’t need to be anymore science research there, we already know right? Now then, we have to determine if we should act on that research or not to cut human emissions of CO2 (which by the way is only 3% of the total CO2 output of this trace gas). Academia can’t have it both ways and say it is settled, because if it is then there is no need to keep funding their incredible PhD level academic salaries then. Let them find something else to study or get a new line of work.

Sure there will cuts to BS science and waste – there is a ton of it, admit it. I see the grants being awarded by the NSF, NIH, and some of that crap is a waste. With the Trump Administration – the good science stays and the crap goes – there will be plenty of money and research for GOOD science. Academia will have to adapt, just like businesses do. Remember it was one of theirs who said; “Change is the only constant” so they will have to deal with it. No more sniveling.

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Social Media Marketing Strategies To Improve Your Efforts

We all know about Social Media that either makes you a hero or a devil of someone’s life in just a few seconds. It is not only used for the personal communication but also has countless benefits to offer for the growth of your business. Their platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr and many more are popular for their own reasons, therefore you have to be very attentive while working on them. For this, you just need full proof Social Media Marketing Strategies that accelerate your efforts and give refreshing results. So, take a look at some strategies you can try to improve your efforts in the upcoming year 2017. Create A Plan And Stick To It: If you want to get results from your strategies so the first and foremost thing you need to do is create a plan and stick to it. This is because a plan is a must to execute otherwise things get unorganized and you will never get the results what you actually look for. For this, you don’t need to climb the mountain, just think what your customers want, explore the new opportunities and plan accordingly.

Don’t Get Confused Between It’s Different Channels: Another important thing you need to do is to treat every social media channel as a separate entity and don’t mix match them with each other. This is because every channel has its own features and way of working. Likewise, Facebook is for people you used to know, LinkedIn is for you already know, Twitter is for you want to know and many more to define. The list of its different platform and their hidden objective is limitless and can help you to achieve new heights in your business.

Stay Active: The key to your success depends upon your engagement with your customers. It lets you connect with your target audience and give you the outcomes only if you stay active and update them timely. Your regular post gives your visitors a reason to follow you and stay tuned for you. Always keep in mind creating an account and leave it for months and then suddenly come and post will never give you the results, it only works if you constantly update it. Track And Talk: Last but not the least way to improve your Social Media Marketing Strategies in 2017 is by tracking the record of your customer, their taste, and preference and their feedback. You can even talk with them about all such topics, this may help you to improve yourself and make your customer feel that they actually value for your business.

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3 Content Marketing Trends to Watch

“Content marketing is a success defining element for today’s businesses. Better the content marketing better is the business.”

Content marketing in a right way can give your business a right exposure. In this fast paced world of internet, you cannot neglect it, otherwise your business might extinguish in the end. You have to pay equal attention to content creation and promotion.

With each passing day, we see new trends emerging in almost every aspect of online marketing. Content marketing is no different. From Facebook, Twitter to Snapchat, new platforms are being emerged, promising to deliver better value for content marketing.

To stay competitive, companies have to stay updated with the emerging trends. That’s why today I aim to shed light on major trends that you should watch closely in 2017.

Content Marketing Through Videos

Video is visual description of your story.

Being in trend from quite some time, videos will continue to lead the content marketing in 2017. The effectiveness of videos is obvious as indicated by the following statistics on HubSpot.com.

  • Videos increase click-through rate by 200-300%
  • Videos increase conversion by 80%
  • 64% of customers make buying decisions after watching the video
  • YouTube reports 100% increase in mobile video views every year.

No doubt, marketing through videos is really effective but that does not mean you start doing it haphazardly. You should do strategic video marketing to squeeze maximum juice out of it. Make purposeful videos and align with your long-term strategy. Through videos, you can:

  • Deliver your brand message
  • Communicate your brand story
  • Explain your value proposition
  • Build relations with your customers and prospects.

However, you also need to be careful while creating videos. A boring video or a video that does not have any value for customers will go in vain.

Keep following do’s and don’ts in mind:

Do’s:

  • Videos should be purposeful and carry value for your customers.
  • Videos should be attention grabbing.
  • Videos should be bit emotional or sentimental.

Don’ts:

  • Videos should not be too long or too short
  • Videos should not be boring
  • Videos should not be offensive by any mean.

So heads up for 2017 and aim to interact and convert your customers through strategic video marketing.

Content Marketing Through Snapchat

As reported on Bloomberg, every month Snapchat gets about 10 billion views and 100 million active users. Imagine the wider audience you can reach by using Snapchat.

Snapchat is on scene since 2012. Earlier, it was considered mainly as a sexting app. But with the passage of time, Snapchat added features that make it a really attractive marketing medium for businesses. 2017 is expected to see exponential growth in Snapchat use for content marketing.

Snapchat allows 10 second snapshots. That means nothing useless, only the message that you really want to convey. Not only it is highly engaging, it also allows easy interaction with customers. Through a 10-second snapshot, you can

  • Introduce your business
  • Convey your inspiring story
  • Create a teaser
  • Offer a discount or promotion
  • Find the talent
  • Promote your product

And the options are unlimited.

So keep your fingers crossed in 2017 to explore thousands of ways you can use Snapchat to reach a wider audience.

Use Data-Backed Content

Whatever medium you are using for content marketing, make sure that the content you are marketing is valuable. It should be informative, educative and interesting. Back it with important statistics, facts and figures to build a high level of trust with your audience. Include case studies, expert opinions and empirical evidences to support your information.

So keep these points in mind while you are planning a content marketing strategy for 2017. Focus on these areas and you will have a brilliant year ahead.

Best of Luck!

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