“We have so many products. Choice, eh!”

Too many products can cause confusion and make it more difficult for potential customers to buy.

The problem is that too much choice can be confusing!  Those not familiar with New Zealand English may miss the pun. “Choice” in this context means “great”, “fantastic”.

Which bag of chips should I buy?
Which bag of chips should I buy?

Professor Sheena S. Iyengar of Columbia University was interviewed by Kim Hill on Radio NZ National a few months ago about here book “The Art of Choosing”.    She argues very coherently about too much choice being confusing and more likely to lead to indecision and worse still, no sale.

This applies as much to when you do your weekly grocery shopping, as to when you are trying to get someone to buy your products or services.

Rather than lots of products with small differences, consider fewer products with optional extras.  With some products you may also be able to offer a limited degree of user settings but beware of the “video recorder” trap. This is lots of very clever features that few really want and even fewer can get to work!

Optional extras and consumables can be very attractive to the manufacturer as well as distributor and/or retailer. This can mean higher margins and repeat purchases in the case of consumables.

Simon Fawkes
Business to Markets Ltd

“I blog, therefore I am.”

The blog is an important form of self-expression.

The French philosopher, mathematician, and physicist,  René Descartes, is best known for his  philosophical statement “I think, therefore I am”, from two of  his writings in the mid-seventeen century.  The original Latin is “cogito ergo sum”  and the French is “je pense, donc je suis”.

Descartes argued that thought exists, but cannot be separated from the person.  I think, therefore I know I exist.

The modern twist on this is:  “I blog, therefore I am”.   I blog so that others know I exist and can share my thoughts.

The invention of the printing press by Gutenberg in Germany some two centuries earlier had a major impact on the spreading of knowledge, which was no longer the preserve of a small élite. Much has been written about the impact of the Internet and growth in social media.  The reach and speed of the Internet is truly amazing.

A blog can be a very effective means of sharing information, as well as facilitating discussions with people close to home and as far away as the other side of the globe.  It can also let people communicate freely and not rely on formal media channels, which are often subject to commercial or political pressures.

So “blog away” and see what impact you can make and what you can learn as well.  My blog went silent for a while, as I was in Europe and South America in June 2010 and then fell sick when I got back to New Zealand. I am now back to full health and aim to meet my target of two blogs per month.


Simon Fawkes CaricatureSimon Fawkes
Accredited Mindshop Facilitator
Business to Markets Ltd

Business cards: the good, the bad and the ugly.

An alternative title is “effective and ineffective business cards”. How effective is your business card?

b2m business cards
How my business card has changed

How often have you been at a networking meeting, collected business cards from the people at you table and then tried to figure out which card belonged to whom?

If you cannot even make this connection when the person is still near you, what will happen when you get back to the office?  If you are organised you might sort through your cards at the end of the week.  “Now which one was Fred”?, you might ask yourself. Weeks or months later, you probably have no idea who the person is or what you talked about.
You could always write a few comments on the business card : even date and the event can be quite helpful.  It can seem rude to write on the face of the business card, so what about the reverse side?
This is where graphic designers and brands can hinder if not block communication. In the old days, business cards often had a blank reverse, which was ideal for jotting down a few notes.  Now we see fancier designs with the reverse taken up with a strong “brand image”.  This can be a great way to convey your brand, but it can come at a high cost!
So what should you do?
  • Firstly, be very clear why you have a business card and what impression you want to give.
  • Secondly, don’t let the graphic designer take control.
  • Work out how you would like the person who receives your card to respond.
  • What impression would you like to give?

I have always had my photo on my business card. This is a great way to stand out and be remembered. You do not have to be a good-looking as me for this to be effective!  The big change was late last year , when I was running out of cards. It was time to refresh the brand and also go for a more practical business card.   The front just has the contact details, my photo and new look.  See the image above, which does not do the card justice.  The reverse says what I do but more importantly, allows, indeed actively encourages further contact:

  • We met at:
  • Let’s work on:

I copied this idea from the business card of a guy from Singapore, who I met in New Zealand after an introduction from an Indian, who was now back in Singapore.

So next time you are at a networking function, look more closely at the business cards you receive. Observe too how others react when they get your business card.  You might even want to get a new business card!

Simon Fawkes
Business to Markets Ltd



“Taking a hi-tech company international”, Sir Ken Stevens

Auckland ICT is honoured to have Sir Kenneth Stevens KNZM, Chairman / Managing Director of Glidepath as the main speaker at the next monthly networking event on 29 July 2010. He will share some of his experiences in overcoming the challenges of growing a hi-tech company in New Zealand and international markets.

The networking event runs from 5.00pm to 7.30pm and will be held at Raffles College of Design & Commerce, 317-319 New North Road, Eden Terrace, Auckland.

Sir Ken is one of New Zealand’s leading exporters and an inspirational entrepreneur.  Read his bio on the Auckland Events page, where you can also RSVP to attend the event.

I first met Ken in 1995, when he led a delegation of exporters for the first New Zealand stand at the Hannover Fair.  This was an initiative that I championed when I was New Zealand Trade Commissioner to Germany and Switzerland.

Just how innovative are you?

Innovation is Key!

Innovation may be the only competitive advantage in a crowded market. The iPhone is a great example of a new technology having a major impact on seemingly invincible multi-nationals.

The challenge is to turn good ideas into successful innovation.  This requires a tolerance for risk and a willingness to accept failure as part of the process.  If you are too averse to risk, you could end up enjoying the “harmony of the graveyard”.  Read “Dangerous Minds“, BOSS Financial Review, February 2010. www.arfboss.com.au.

According to a six-year study of 3,500 CEO’s by the  Harvard Business School, BYU and INSEAD in December 2009, innovative CEO’s spent 50% more time on  five key skills than less creative counterparts. These skills are:

  • Question – ask a lot more questions
  • Observe – watch how customers experience a product
  • Experiment – take apart a process / product to see how it works
  • Network – connect with others to find and test ideas
  • Associate – connecting ideas generated by all four above

There is an on-line assessment and free 24-page report on your level of innovation, created by the authors of the study.