Category Archives: Business

The marketing of electric cars and the lessons for new products

Sometimes we forget that to be able to sell a product, requires a customer – or potential customer – to know a lot about the product itself. Technology moves at such a rapid pace, we forget that almost completely new technology will arise and, yet, somehow we need to sell it to new people who have never had any experience with it.

Consider, for example, the landscape of cars. In this difficult, conflicting land, every major company is vying for attention and the cash of potential customers. Yet, how would their marketing strategies work on a completely alien group, on those who had never even seen a car before? If Mercedes-Benz ran advertisements for their new models showing off upgrades to the engine, steering, handling and so on, how could this convince people who don’t know what a car is in the first place? How could you market second hand cars if people had never even driven in a car?

To this a good real-world example for considering is the electric car.

First, people are of course buying cars constantly – but there is an acceptance of what that means in terms of fuel and energy. With electric cars, things are completely different. Here, we need to charge cars, have charging stations and operate on different standards of speed.

Second, these differences mean that people will drive and own in different ways. For example, people who need to drive greater distances without stopping, living in poorer countries, will be using gasoline cars and not electric.

But that doesn’t mean things aren’t changing – so even in these areas, it’s necessary for manufacturers to recognize the future is electric cars. For example, the British transport minister is convinced that by 2040 every car in the United Kingdom will be electric.

This trajectory is so obvious people are already seeing the tide change forever. The Guardian’s Debbie Klein writes:

the arrival of serious premium players like BMW has changed the game. For the first time we have cars which are great to drive, aesthetically pleasing, cost-effective and aspirational. The barriers that were once there for owning an electric car have all but gone.

What’s happening

There’s a two fold story happening that dovetail, when you examine it closer.

First is the recognition that the future just is electric cars – just as the future of the telephone was mobile. Second, more appealing brands designing more appealing models are pushing that change along, by making it no longer the domain of large, “Mommy cars”. The reason places like BMW are pushing is because of the first reason; but the first reason is happening because of the second!

This cycle keeps the momentum going and thus gives us new innovation and changed tastes. This marketing tells us that we need to be aware of how it changes – of how we ourselves must change what is marketed and how. Now more people know and will buy an electric car. What does that mean? How will that alter our campaigns and strategies?

All these kinds of interesting considerations should be at the forefront of anyone’s mind who is even vaguely interested in the ongoing dynamics of sales and marketing.

 

Managers and employee – What is the best grounding for a relationship?

Everyone is an employee, but not everyone is a manager. What exactly a manager does differs, much like the broad category employee, and is dependent on career and business. However, there are many common properties that all managers and employees should have in a relationship that will make it fruitful. And a fruitful relationship in this sense benefits in many other, often important areas.

Paychecks aren’t the point: respect matters

Shoving money at someone while you mistreat them won’t make them like you. Money might be able to feed and clothe, but it is not a guarantee that you’ll get respect. Respect, after all, works both ways. It doesn’t matter that a manager is of a higher rank than the employee; if he wants respect from his employee, he needs to show it, too. You don’t become a magically more important person overall just because you are more senior.

However, the employee must also recognize that the manager is – well – managing many tasks simultaneously. He is in that position, ideally, because he is more experienced and knows what needs to be done. Questioning too often, criticizing unnecessarily, or being difficult is detrimental to the projects that help sustain a business – projects the manager must maintain. So, employee’s should trust that the managers know what they doing, while at the same time not allowing themselves to be doormats.

Both care about the business

Aside from some dodgier elements, everyone in a business wants that business to do well. This means having projects completed on time; it means making customers happy. It means not upsetting investors.

As many business management courses teach, managers often straddle the big picture and must get their hands dirty down below. Since employees, or those being managed, are not as qualified to assess and judge, it’s safe to say managers should be able to convey what is needed and have it met.

Of course it helps for them to issue orders and commands in a way that actually makes it memorable: research suggests this is a combination of written and verbal requests.

By having these met, the business does better.

This is why employees should accede to manager requests: it benefits the business. Often managers don’t want it for themselves, directly, but to meet client demands or what will benefit the business. Basically, if you want to keep your job, you should do what is told. This is not via threat of being fired – though that is always there – but rather that you won’t have a business at all!

Conclusion

The job or career doesn’t matter, when it comes to these fundamentals. Whether it’s the assistant to some CEO in New York or any one of the minor jobs in Cape Town, we should learn and educate ourselves about what makes good business relationships.

 

 

Tax Freedom Day 2014

Tax Freedom Day is the first day of the year that the nation as a whole has hypothetically earned enough money to cover its total tax bill for the year.

By looking at what date Tax Freedom Day falls on every year, you can really put your taxes into perspective. For instance, you can get an idea of how much of your personal income is really yours to do with what you want, and how much belongs to the government. It also lets you easily see how much South Africans spend on tax compared to other countries.

This year, Tax Freedom Day fell on 22 May 2014 – the 142nd day of the year. In other words, it would take 141 days for the nation to pay its tax burden, assuming everyone worked every day and spent nothing.

Click on the infographic below to take a closer look at Tax Freedom Day:

 

Tax Freedom Day

Now that Nigeria Surpassed SA’s GDP – What Does this Mean for Investors?

It used to be the case that if investors wanted to explore African pastures, they’d automatically turn to South Africa – long touted as the most developed country in Africa. Lately, African investment has become more diversified, but South Africa has always remained the favourite choice as an economic gateway into the continent.

However, Nigeria has recently surpassed South Africa in terms of GDP, overthrowing South Africa’s claim as Africa’s strongest economy.

Does this mean we’re going to see investment rather going to Nigeria instead of its southern cousin? Well, as is usually the case, the situation is more complex than a set of statistics can indicate.

How did Nigeria come out on top?

There are a few strong contributors to Nigeria’s GDP, most notably oil. However, Nigeria’s seemingly sudden rise in national earnings is as simple as tweaking the parameters for calculating the GDP. Nigeria’s gross domestic product data was finally overhauled by the National Bureau of Statistics for the first time in two decades, so as to reflect modern industries like telecommunications and Nollywood, the Nigerian film industry.

Therefore, Nigeria suddenly being seen as Africa’s top earner has more to do with improved measurement than the country’s economy improving drastically from one year to the next.

This isn’t to demean Nigeria or take anything away from the country’s progress. It is after all a sign of Africa’s economic development taking strides in the right direction. However, investors need to take caution that this rise in figures doesn’t necessarily mean a sudden improvement in Nigeria’s economic landscape.

The West African country is still not without its obstacles.

Nigerian economy versus South African

Bear in mind that there’s a difference between a strong economy and a stable economy. While Nigeria may have overtaken South Africa in the GDP numbers game, South Africa is arguably still the more stable economy, with a far more sophisticated and mature market.

The World Bank’s most recent Ease of Doing Business survey in June ranked South Africa 41 (out of 189 countries in total). By contrast, Nigeria only came in at 147, just slightly better than Iraq and Sudan.

What’s more, there may be substantial money in Nigeria, but that isn’t reflected in the majority’s living conditions. While one set of statistics show that the nation is certainly making money, it isn’t necessarily indicative of the economy as a whole.

A poverty survey by the Nigerian National Bureau of Statistics from 2012 shows that 61% of Nigerians were living on less than a dollar a day in 2010, which is worse than the 52% in 2004. What’s more, nearly 24% of the working population is unemployed.

While South Africa is not without its problems, it is a more stable economy, with development on the side of an upswing. For instance, the biggest township in South Africa is Soweto, which is home to almost a third of Johannesburg’s population. Once a dreaded destination, marred by extreme poverty and violence, the district has been cleaning up its image to become the most metropolitan township in the country, a commercial hub in the Gauteng area, and the site of massive development projects. Even comparing the houses for sale in Soweto shows a marked rise in living conditions.

Informal settlements aren’t unique to Africa, but are found the world over. Whether they’re called slums, the ghetto, or townships, they’re a measuring stick of the bottom line of a country’s population.

If the bottom level of a nation’s population isn’t enjoying the wealth of a nation, that’s generally an indication that the health of the economy could be better, no matter what the stats say. So while Nigeria deserves praise for being an economic powerhouse, it doesn’t do away with the fundamental issues it’s still dealing with.

 

 

 

Cost-effective ways to make your business more visible

For a business to be successful, it needs to be visible. Not to just a few people either, but to as many people as possible.

It’s very easy, however, for a small business to get lost. But it is possible to stand out, no matter the size of your business or your budget.

Raise your online profile

Online is where everything is happening. It’s changing the way people interact, shop and live, on a daily basis. To compete in this space, your first step is establishing a website. No business can be without one, really.

Building is a website is not a task you want to tackle yourself. It’s best to enlist the services of an SEO agency to assist you with such a project. A reputable company would be able to design an effective website and get your website, and thus business, ranking on Google with carefully selected keywords.

You should also create profiles for your business on social media channels, like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Keep in mind that the channels you use should suit your business. A plumbing business, for instance, might not get much value from Facebook. Your SEO agency should be able to advise you on this too.

Once your website is up and running, add the URL to business cards and marketing material. The next step would be an electronic newsletter. Add a ‘share’ function, so that your customers can easily forward it to friends. This is an affordable and effective way to introduce your business to people.

The final bit of strategy would be to start a blog on your website. Articles should be relevant, insightful, and/or helpful. Content that provides all three has the best chance of getting shared.

Don’t forget offline

There is definitely still value in offline strategies, or efforts in the ‘real world’. And they could in fact be even more affordable than online strategies.

Here are some strategies you can consider:

Become an exhibitor. Research upcoming exhibits and expos in your area and get involved. You can set up a stall and man it yourself to meet new and potential customers in person. Exhibiting is also a great way to network with others in your industry.

Sponsor a community event. This will put your business front-and-centre in the area it serves. More than this, it will establish your company as a business that cares. This will do wonders for your brand.

Signage. Your business should have at least one sign, but how visible is it? And could you perhaps add more commercial signage to make your business more visible? Don’t forget moving signage in the form of vehicle branding. If you drive a lot, this is an excellent advertising option.

Be sure to keep your customer and their needs and preferences in mind, no matter which effort you decide on. It’s vital to contact them, and thus become visible, in ways that resonate with them.