Author Archives: Small Business Planned

About Small Business Planned

*** DO NOT DELETE THIS PROFILE *** This is the profile of David Moloney, web designer from smallbusinessplanned.com. This profile allows smallbusinessplanned to continually deliver your hosting bonuses. If you delete this profile, your hosting bonuses will also cease. If you have any questions, please email me at david@smallbusinessplanned.com

black-friday-market1

Is Black Friday Really Good For Business?

Well, another Black Friday has come and gone to cheers within the media. Maybe you yourself picked up a bargain on electronic goods, music or perhaps a fancy shirt. But are Black Friday sales events really a big win for business?

Black Friday Market

Black Friday Brings Bargains. At Cost to Businesses

If you listen to the media, YES! But I’m not so sure. I agree that Black Friday contributes billions of dollars ($11.2 billion in 2012) to the retail bottom line. But my question is, at what cost? Retailers shouldn’t be focusing on the total value of sales but whether the gross margin that they receive on their sales makes the whole campaign worthwhile. Because at the end of the day, sellers need to be selling things for a profit rather than just selling things to achieve a revenue target.  And looking at some items like solid state drives and other equipment – I’m not sure many sellers are making much money at all.

In order to survive, a business needs to make a profit. Anytime a business discounts goods, they’re making less profit. They’re making less margin and reducing the growth prospects for the business.  In this way, discounts should always be used sparingly with sales rather than regularly. My top line view of discounting is that it should only be used to run up old stock which is significantly different from the new stock coming in. Unfortunately many business as revenue targets, which makes it easy to sacrifice profit by slashing away at prices.

Sure, this approach to discounting helps move inventory off the floor to make way for the new inventory. And it can help to attract new customers. But the downside is that it sets a new perceived anchored price point. For example, if I have a stereo system on the floor that I’m trying to sell at my store and its usual retail price is $1,000 and I then discount it to $750. The new perceived price of that stereo category is $750 – for future stereos.

So, if I bring a new stereo into the store with hopes to sell it at $1,000 – it’s going to be an uphill battle. Prospective buyers have seen my previous stereo discounted to $750 have the $750 price point in their mind. This, therefore, makes it very difficult to re-establish your price as the $1,000 stereo. You can avoid this situation by only discounting lines that are being discontinued or far removed from your other business.

So, in summary, don’t use gross revenue as a measure of success. Use gross margin as a measure of your success and only discount on products and services that you are looking to discontinue and that are far removed from your continuing business lines.

Growing your small business,

David Moloney
Small Business Planned

aami-app

AAMI’s New App. Waste of Money?

When I mention AAMI car insurance, the first thing you’d probably think of is Rhonda and Ketut. They’re the stars of a popular AAMI ad campaign that has been running for over a year now. Now whether or not Rhonda and Ketut have overshadowed AAMI brand or complemented it isn’t something that I’ll be examining. I want to assess whether the current AAMI ad promoting the Claim Assist app. Was this ad a good idea, or a wasted opportunity to strengthen the brand? Open the window, let the breeze in and let’s find out.

AAMI App

AAMI Claim Assist App. Worth Promoting?

Now in the car insurance industry, pretty much all insurers offer the same product (sorry, I’ve worked in the industry). So there’s very little differentiation. Therefore, car insurance companies really only compete on awareness and price.

With the release of this new app, it seems that AAMI is trying to create a differentiator that will help give them something to shout about rather than price. Personally, I think that this is a mistake (although not the biggest mistake) for a few reasons. Although, I don’t have the market shares statistics I’m guessing that AAMI car insurance is probably the number car insurance company in Australia. Therefore, to defend this title, it should constantly be talking about how it provides the best quality cover at the cheapest price… because that’s what people care about.

This new commercial deviates from this strategy and instead starts talking about an app which I don’t think really offers much value besides contributing to the epic Rhonda & Ketut love story. And the app doesn’t even work well in the first place. So it’s puzzling why AAMI are investing millions of dollars to talk about an app rather than use the duo to continually reinforce that AAMI provides the best quality car insurance at a cheap price.

Anyways, here’s the AAMI app commercial:

YouTube Preview Image

AAMI Claim Assist App

Apart from being promoted on this television commercial, the app is also promoted on the homepage of the AAMI website. If you listen again to the commercial, AAMI tell you to download the app. But is this really realistic? Let’s just say you’re an AAMI customer and you’re going along having a nice Sunday drive. Then suddenly the next thing some crazy cardigan smashes into you. What’s the first thing you’re going to do?

It certainly won’t be visiting the app store to download the AAMI app. Instead, you’re going to get out of your car, have a conversation with the driver, exchange details, take some photos  and go on your merry way. Assuming all parties are civil.

Now, AAMI may argue “but you’ll download the app before you have an accident” but c’mon, that’s rubbish. People don’t expect to have a car accident. If they don’t expect an accident, they aren’t going to download the app. It doesn’t make sense.

What’s more, if you actually visit the AAMI claim assist download page, you’ll see that there are only 6 people have gone there and left reviews (at the time of publishing). The app gets 3 out of 5 stars. So, the damn app isn’t even getting any glowing reviews – which must be disappointing considering its being heavily promoted by AAMI.

Going further into the reviews, the app is getting quite a few lackluster responses saying that it’s either ho-hum or that there are other apps out there that actually do a better job. This is not a good sign for AAMI.

So, in summary, AAMI has chosen to invest, dare I say, millions of dollars promoting an app that no one’s downloading. Yes, the Rhonda and Ketut are minor celebrities – but this is a wasted creative that does not strengthen the core message. The smarter thing to do was to continue the Rhonda & Ketut story and invest those millions in positioning AAMI as a good quality car insurer at an affordable price. It’ll be interesting to see how long commercial lasts for.

Growing your small business,

David Moloney
Small Business Planned

1

We No Longer Feel Better On Swisse?

After a huge blitz earlier in the year, Advertisements by Vitamin company Swisse seem to have largely dropped off our screen. I’ve previously discussed multivitamin endorsements before. This article is about the battle to embed a perception into your target audiences mind. Because if you’ve embedded a perception, it lives on for quite a long time. Even without watering. It’s about how Swisse extracted full value from their tagline, before the strong tagline suddenly disappeared.

Swisse Logo Without Tagline

No Tagline: Swisse No Longer Pledges That You’ll Feel Better

Firstly, businesses aren’t stupid. They know that this perception is key to a brands success. If you can win the battle of the mind, then you can always count on your assumptions prevailing and encouraging sales.

In 2011, Swisse increased its  total revenue by 60%, and an increase in profit of 131%. In 2012, I have no doubt that it’ll realise another healthy growth number at the end of this year.

This healthy growth number will largely be driven from a huge media spend in the first half of 2012. Wind your mind back a few months… Swiss had plenty of TV ads on high rotation to embed its tagline ‘Tired? Stressed? You’ll feel better on Swisse’. Heck I even went along to a corporate event and was handed a bunch of Swisse Multivitamins as I legged out the door. “No Thanks”.

This media and sponsorship saturation no doubt worked wonders in embedding the key brand message. Again, brands know that if you win the battle of the mind, then you can always count on your assumptions prevailing in the future.

…Anyways, the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Complaint Resolution Panel started playing bad cop and asked Swisse to cease promoting that some of its products were “clinically proven” or “independently tested”, as well as its tagline “Tired? Stressed? You’ll feel better on Swisse”. This went to the Federal court. Unfortunately the ultimate findings were suppressed. Don’t you love it when that happens.

But guess what happened before a judgement was even handed down? Yup, Swisse stopped using its ‘Tired? Stressed? You’ll feel better on Swisse’ message. Was this just a coincidence? I’ll leave that up to you.

I bet Swisse won’t be game to roll out its you’ll feel better on Swisse’ tagline given the court case, but it doesn’t matter. Swisse has already conquered the battle of the mind. It has already embedded its brand message. And this halo effect will live on in the minds of the public for at least the medium term. While, barely a few thousand will be aware of the behind the scenes court case.

And that is a great example of a brand nailing its brand message, while skirting (largely) unharmed on the edge of regulation. If I was a competitor like Blackmore’s, I’d be quite annoyed.

Growing your small business,

David Moloney
Small Business Planned

2

Why You Shouldn’t Buy Fake Reviews

No. No. Naw. No. Don’t buy fake reviews for your business. You’re playing in dangerous waters. Yes, reviews are huge endorsements of your products and can help sway people to purchase your products that would otherwise be non-committal. But it’s dangerous – hugely dangerous to pay someone a few bucks from Fiverr to smudge out a rosey review. Here’s why:

Reveal & Backlash: If it’s uncovered that someone wrote a fake review about your business, your reputation would instantly take a hit. And the reputation of your brand is your most important asset. Once it’s broken, you can only glue it back together piece by piece – with the cracks forever remaining

IP Address  / User Tracking: Google ain’t stupid. It knows that people write fake reviews. They also know that reviews drive purchases. To maintain an ethical environment, Google may (or may have already) choose to track the IP addresses of people offering fake reviews. If sites are found to be harbouring fake reviews from these people and Google finds a way to sift between fake/legitimate reviews, I bet these sites will be hit with a penalty.

Shouldn't Buy Fake Reviews

Don’t Buy Fake Reviews. They Will Hurt You Eventually

The New York Times recently wrote that one company was even offering full rebates on products in exchange for reviews (hint… hint… please be positive). Perhaps scarier, a comment following the article stated:

“My employer creates software applications for websites that allow companies to automatically generate fake reviews. We are one of the top WCM companies world-wide.  The “reviews” generated are unique and seem quite real but, in fact, are not. Surprisingly many of our customers use our products to generate comments and reviews for news articles (especially political news articles concerning the upcoming election). The U.S. Army uses our product to add positive comments to articles associated with the war in Afghanistan.”

Language Tracking: We are creatures of habit. We write in a similar style, using very similar phrasing. No doubt the people writing reviews have their own time honoured phrases that they inject into their fake reviews. Google could combine an algorithm that seeks out the IP/username of known fake reviewers and combines this with known fake language. This would be a powerful tool and stripping out those devious reviews.

And that’s not mentioning that you could cop a fine from regulators for being misleading.

Want to Check if You’ve Been Hit With a Fake Review?

Review Skeptic uses an algorithm based on research. It’s claimed to be 90% accurate in determining whether a review is fake or real. Feel free to try it out yourself to see how nasty deceptive you are.

Growing your small business,

David Moloney
Small Business Planned

Lockwood-Poor-Ad

Here’s A Very Bad Magazine Ad. Grrr…

I often see bad ads. Usually I just skim over them or shake my head wondering whether the client knows they are wasting money. But occasionally - very occassionally – I come across an ad that is so bad it makes me stop, stand up and walk over the nearest person chanting “have you seen this ad?”

I’ve done a few ad reviews on this site (Tom Waterhouse and Nikon) – and to be fair, I wouldn’t go after ‘Mum & Dad’ operators, because chances are they are behind the 8-ball in terms of marketing knowledge. But big institutions should know better. They should have the tools and knowledge to make effective ads. Or at least know how to avoid making lackluster ads.

Below is perhaps the most confusing printed/magazine ad I have come across in a long time. It’s by Lockwood. Although I stared at it for a few minutes, it took me a while to figure it out. Let’s examine the ad and find out what went wrong.

To see a larger version of the ad, click the image below:

Lockwood-Poor-Ad

Ineffective Lockwood Ad. Click to See a Larger Version

Why Did This Ad Suck?

Taking a step back, I think this ad suffered from too many people trying to say too many things. This was probably driven by an internal political decision within Lockwood to keep a bunch of people from different departments happy. Unfortunately it doesn’t keep the reader happy.

The ad tried to mix a sponsorship experience message and product offering. Given there’s not enough room to achieve both these objectives, this decision was poor. The ad comes across as a mish-mash that totally kills its purpose. A good ad is always single minded and has a clear headline and call to action. This Lockwood ad is multi-faceted, containing multiple call to actions, spread across the whole ad. And confusing imagery. After reading it I needed to lay down.

To really experience the ad, you need to imagine a spruiker on outside a Lockwood store, bringing the ad to life. He would take a deep breath and say:

“Win a Bathurst experience at $7,000 – come ask me about it. And you’ll never have to carry keys again. And we’ve got V8 Super Car driver Fabes Couthard riding a bike here. Oh and don’t forget our $50 cash back offer that closes soon. I’m from Lockwood by the way. And we have a product called 001Touch. It’s a touchscreen that you put in your home, so you don’t need keys. Give us a call.”

…That’s literally how the ad presents itself. A zillion thoughts without any cohesiveness.

Parts of the Ad That Failed

  • No clear headline: Where does the reader start?
  • Multiple images: Making the piece too complicated and confusing
  • Person on the bike: It’s not clear who this is. If it’s the V8 Super Car driver, what has cycling got to do with V8 driving?
  • Logo position: Bottom middle. Perhaps the worst location possible
  • Ill positioned headline: The headlines aren’t being positioned with the relevant pictures, causing confusion
  • Multiple call to actions: The ad has three separate call to action boxes.

“Ninety-nine percent of advertising doesn’t sell much of anything.” David Ogilvy

(Also, Darren Rowse has a good post about David Ogilvy quotes)

Elements to a Good Ad

Although ads have many different objectives, which are either highly emotional based (e.g pure car brand messages) or highly rational based (e.g supermarket specials for the week), there is often a middle ground that most ads play in. In general a good printed ad will have the following elements:

  • Headline (stating problem or solution)
  • Image
  • Body copy (the more copy you have, the less people will read your ad)
  • Brand
  • Call to action (call us, visit our website or store)

By following the above formula, there’s a good chance that your ad will be on the right track to being engaging.

Helping grow your small business,
David Moloney
Small Business Planned

stupid-decision1

The Stupidest Online Decision I’ve Seen

I’ve seen some stupid decisions. And I’m not talking those online text formatting mistakes I see every day. I mean, something big. There’s one recent decision I witnessed that one made me physically stand up and declare ‘this is the stupidest decision I’ve seen all year’. Perhaps it was a bit melodramatic. But I think it was on the money. In the deepening webby world, your website address is your key physical online asset. It’s where people go to check you out, to interact with you and to link to you (Yay Google Juice).

Anyway – here’s the stupid decision in all its detail:

I’m a member of a financial institution that’s been around for probably about 30 years. Let’s call it Dcredit. It’s been known as the same brand throughout all of those 30 years. So there’s a lot of history. And there’s a heap of members spread around the country. About 12 months ago it decided to rebrand – as in – change its name to Dbank. I actually agreed with the rationale and supported the change. So all is going well so far.

A word to the wise ain’t necessary – it’s the stupid ones that need the advice – Bill Cosby

It’s important to note that the existing company domain name and website were one in the same  – Dcredit.com. Given the rebrand, the primary website address needed to change from Dcredit.com to Dbank.com. That’s fine. It needs to be carefully managed, but it’s fine.

So anyway, after changing the brand the company moves all its content to Dbank.com and everything is functioning fine. They then make a class A dimwit decision – they just turn off the previous domain name Dcredit.com. No redirect, no message. No nothing. If you typed the old website name into the browser you will be met with a ‘not found’ error. What the?

That’s what made me stand up and exhale, exclaiming that this was the stupidest decision I’ve seen all year.

 

stupid online decision

Man, Even I Would Not Be That Stupid and Stuff

 

Why Was it a Stupid Decision?

  • Existing customer lag: You’ve got a brand that’s been around for 30 years. That means that the company has people on its books that are used to referring to it as ‘Dcredit’. This behaviour doesn’t change overnight, or in a few months. It can in fact take years for people to start to call a rebranded brand by its new name. Think about it – how many older people refer to the radio as ‘the wireless’. Or when sports stadiums change names – people still call them by the old name. Even my Dad calls the TV channel ‘SBS’, ‘028’ – and it hasn’t been 028 since the 1980’s!
  • Existing customer visits: We’re creatures of habit. If we’ve typed in a business’ domain name dozens of times, it becomes  a learned behaviour that’s engrained into our muscle memory. We automatically type the url without thinking. By failing to redirect or manage this behaviour, the customer experience significantly suffers. Members may wonder if the business has gone bust (and taken their money), or if there’s a problem with their computer. It’s only after they conduct an online search of Dcredit that they learn that the website address has changed. Ouchies. That customer experience sucks big time.And what’s more, Dbank aren’t even measuring how many hits are pinging to Dcredit, so they can’t understand the extent of the issue.
  • Google Juice: Given the business has been online for about 10 years, there would be plenty of third party links that direct to Dcredit.com. Because this site has been shut down, the new site Dbank.com doesn’t benefit from any of this Google juice. A simple permanent redirect would pass this benefit on.

…But it doesn’t end there.

I like to think that I’m a helpful kind of fellow. So I contacted Dbank and let them know that they really should add a redirect from their previous website, for the reasons outlined. They gave me a stock standard response of ‘passing it to the appropriate department’. Thankfully, they came to their senses and implemented a redirect over the next day or so.

I rejoiced. I applauded. Rather than send them an invoice, I celebrated with a slice of rhubarb pie.

The redirect lasted for five days. Then guess what?

They took the redirect down. I’m not sure why. It had me stumped again. Don’t make the same mistake if you are faced with the same situation. Always include a redirect from your previous website to your new website.

Growing your small business,

David Moloney
Small Business Planned

guaranteed-google-ranking

Guaranteed Google Ranking Claims Are BS

Let’s put it simply – no one can guarantee you a top Google ranking. Because… they can’t control how Google ranks websites. Anyone that says they can guarantee a Google website ranking is either:

  1. Talking about listing you among the paid ads section
  2.  Lying
  3.  Guaranteeing that you rank for either your company name or some obscure search term. This is easy and nothing to brag about

 

Guaranteed Google Ranking is a Scam

Guaranteed Google Rankings Are a Lie

So let’s take a closer look. If you shmooze on to Google and search for something, you will be met with a screen that’s peppered with paid and free search results. Here’s how it looks:

Google Free vs Paid Listing Image

Google Paid vs Organic Listings


Paid Listings – Google Adwords (Section A)

These are ads that businesses buy through Google to promote their products and services. Every time a user clicks on these ads, they are taken to a the website of the business owner. And the business owner pays Google for this transfer. This form of advertising is known as ‘pay per click’. It can cost the advertising business anything from 20 cents, right up to $50 and beyond (for insurance), depending on how competitve the industry is. This and similar advertising scores Google 97% of its revenues.

As a business, it can be expensive to play in this space especially if you in a high competition industry. But if you’re smart and generate positive ROI, adwords can be a good lead generator.

The order of ads in this section is determined by another Google algorithm. It’s based on the amount a business is willing to pay for their ad and the ‘quality score’ of their website. In this way good websites can effectively pay less to show ads than poor websites.

Organic Listings or Natural Search Listings (Section B)

Here are the natural unpaid search results. This is what your long term focus should be. Google uses algorithms to determine the quality of a site for a given search result. The higher your website quality ranking, the higher your ranking in this section. Naturally, if you’re a highly ranked website, you are put at a competitive advantage.

It usually takes some hard yards to convince Google that you have a quality website. And naturally, the more competition in an industry, the more difficult it is to compete.

Can You Rank Me Highly For This Search Term?

To rank highly in Google’s natural listings, Google must deem you an authority on your target search term. The more general the search term, the more difficult it will be to rank. E.g ‘Hairdresser Malvern’ is a lot easier to rank for than simply ‘Hairdresser’. When naming your website and your business, you should consider the best website name as that can assist your Google ranking.

Although Google’s exact ranking algorithm is a secret, the world’s internet marketing industry invests millions to test and retest ranking assumptions. They have found that the following things have a positive effect on your website ranking:

  • The number of good quality websites that link to you
  • Your website title and headings
  • How old your content is
  • How fast your website loads
  • Social media mentions and clicks

Naturally, the above factors all require a bit of elbow grease to ensure success.

No Guaranteed Rankings. You Need a Good Foundation

No, you can’t guarantee Google rankings, but you can build your website so it has the best chance of success. For instance, my small business website design service understands the principles of search engine optimisation. I craft all my sites so they sing to Google’s latest tune. I’ve lay the strong foundations that the site owner can build upon to achieve website success.

Some other web designers either focus too much on design or text. Although these are important – they should always work in harmony with search engine optimisation and branding to ensure a positive user experience. After all – you can optimise your website to high water, but at the end of the day people aren’t going to buy from a site that looks like a dry turnip.

Growing your small business,

David Moloney
Small Business Planned

do-multivitamins-work

Do Multivitamins Work? Endorse It

Credibility and trust. It takes a lifetime to build and an instant to shatter. You need to understand that your credibility is one of your strongest assets in business. People will back you if you’re credible. People will disown you if you’re not.

Before a I jump into assessing whether multivitamins work, it’s important to understand the crux of credibility. As this is the real underlying business lesson.

Do Multivitamins Work

Do Multivitamins Work? Would You Endorse Them?

You can lend your credibility to a causes to help boost its profile. The Royal Family are geniuses at this approach. When assessing a cause, some issues are easy to get behind (child abuse, saving orangutans). Others require a bit more risk (admiration for a political party or coming out). But all in all, these causes exchange your profile and brand image for more publicity for the cause.

Enter the grey area of celebrity endorsements. When done well and appropriately, celebrity endorsements do work. The product gets a celebrity halo effect and more sales hit the bottom line. The celebrity is paid. Smiles all round.

But the celebrity endorser needs to recognise they just can’t walk away once their pay cheque clears. If they endorse a product and something goes a bit smelly with that product, that reflects badly on the celebrity. People wonder whether the celebrity was lying, just in it for the money or didn’t care.

A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.

Jeff Bezos (Amazon founder)

Take the multivitamin industry – which seems to be all the rage at the moment. Type – ‘do multi vitamins work?’ into Google. You’ll see plenty of content, even from trusted health websites that have health professionals. Most of this content is negative or at least indicative that multi-vitamins aren’t needed if you have a balanced diet.

The efficacy of multivitamins ‘for all’ is therefore not clear cut.  Which is why I’m so surprised that celebrities with a well credentialed health backgrounds have put their hand up to endorse multivitamins, when the science isn’t black and white.

Swisse for instance, market their multivitamins with the definitive statement: ‘You’ll feel better on Swisse.’ So Swisse is effectively saying that everyone will feel better on Swisse, regardless of their health situation. If I was a medical professional, I would be uncomfortable attaching my name and reputation to this water tight statement. Some may discount this tagline as being ‘puffery’. But I think it’s dangerous to do so. No study has found that multivitamins reap benefits everyone. So why are multivitamin companies able to infer that they do?

Interestingly, the Therapeutic Goods Council put the heat on Swisse recently, forcing them to remove the slogan ‘You’ll feel better on Swisse’. And to ditch a few ads. In response, Swisse moved that they weren’t given enough time to answer the allegations  before this ruling was made. Swisse won the right to be given more time (and for the ruling to be struck out in the interim).

It’s important to note that the win for Swisse didn’t counter the Therapeutic Good Council’s claims. Instead it provided Swisse with more time to argue against them. It will be interesting to see how this pans out. And it will be interesting to see who remains a celebrity endorser once this saga ends.

In answer to the question, do multivitamins work? There are two answers, both revolving around perception and reality. The current perception is set by the industry advertising (Swisse reportedly has a $50 million marketing budget this year). They are telling us that multivitamins do work. Other sources indicate the reality is a bit more grey.

If a future judgement finds that multivitamins have limited health benefits – or at least benefits that only apply to a subset of people, this perception could change. Especially if the story was picked up by general PR. This would have the potential of changing public perception which in turn could alienate those celebrities who have endorsed the product.

Beware who you endorse. Beware the organisations that your business endorses. Conduct due diligence and if in doubt say no. You can’t afford to have your brand image tarnished.

Growing your small business,

David Moloney
Small Business Planned

tomwaterhouse-ad-review

Ads I Love: Tom Waterhouse Review

Have you seen the Tom Waterhouse ad? Just like the Nikon ad, there’s an X factor about it that appeals to me. Let’s take a closer look…
First of all, I must say that I am against betting agencies being able to advertise on mass media (TV, radio and print). I think this normalises gambling and will have long term negative effects on the next generation. To be clear – I’m not against gambling – just its wide spread promotion. Having said the above disclosure, Tom Waterhouse is doing what any other business would do – leveraging available media to achieve a favourable return on investment.
I really do like the Tom Waterhouse ad. He gained my trust. If I was a gambling man I would consider parking my cash at his place. So after catching the ad a few times on TV, I took a moment to examine why the ad is ticking the right boxes. Because, by knowing the techniques the ad uses, we are all better placed to learn and implement them for our own businesses.
Tom Waterhouse Ad Review

The Tom Waterhouse Ad is Well Executed

But before we jump into understanding why the ad is a success, we must first understand the market that the ad is talking to. For any chance of success, an ad must understand the fears and motivations of its market.
Obviously, the ad is talking to the betting punters – primarily in the horse racing market. The people in this market are motivated by not losing their money and by getting hot tips / good advice to give them edge over the odds. Tom Waterhouse knows this and does a great job at allaying those fears and building those motivations. Here’s the original ad:
YouTube Preview Image
Looking at the above ad and his associated website, you can’t help but nod that Tom has done a good job at positioning himself as a leader in horse racing betting placement and advice. Let’s look at the factors that contribute to the success of his communications:

Image & Reputation


Betting is an environment with a high level of uncertainty. People gravitate to those that show confidence and appear to have the answers. Take a look at the ad and how it’s shot:
  • Tom’s actions are slowed down and measured. There’s no surprises. People betting don’t want surprises. They want firm confidence. The way that Tom’s filmed, along with his expressions has confidence and control stamped all over it
  • Tom’s filmed in black and white. This is both a nostalgic hat tip to the history of bookies and his family lineage. This helps crystallize Tom’s agency’s link with the past. The introduction of the ‘almost’ ‘Tiffany blue‘ also introduces a feeling of contemporary elegance… without sounding too pompous
  • Tom is talking. There’s no voice over.  Tom is talking to you one on one in a direct yet inviting tone
  • Tom’s a Waterhouse: Which is horse racing royalty in Australia. Tom’s the son of Robbie and Gai Waterhouse (and grandson to Bill Waterhouse). This gives Tom instant credibility as he knows the game and is probably close to the horse trainers who have the key information.

Reaching Out to the Market


Going back to the motivations of the betting punter, Tom knows he must manage the uncertainties the market has. He does this by:

  • It’s Tom. Tom is the face of his betting agency. Other betting agencies are faceless corporates. By having a face, people are better able to relate to the agency and in turn trust it
  • Posting ‘to camera’ videos giving his betting advice. These are well done and are a great value ad the differentiates. In a way Tom seems to be mirroring the business model of subscription based share traders. Two quick improvements could be the addition of a lapel mic (to reduce echo) and better positioned branding that isn’t obscured
  • Increase your betting IQ is the Tom Waterhouse tagline. Again, this talks directly to the inherent uncertainties that the betting market has. Tom releases regular videos and newsletters aimed at giving people info (and realistically prompting them to bet). This constant communication progressively strengthens the ties between Tom Waterhouse and the punter
  • First Past the Post. This is Tom Waterhouse’s point of difference. He will pay out instantly on whichever horse pasts the post first – regardless if any protests are lodged. And if a lodged protest is upheld, he will pay out on that horse too. Now I don’t have the statistics on how may horse races protests are successfully upheld, but I’m guessing it would be minimal. But regardless, this point of difference does give the punter two benefits – instant cash payout and a better chance of winning. Great benefits.

Potential Future Brand Dangers

So all in all the Tom Waterhouse agency has positioned and executed a great ad. He also looks to have a strong brand on his hands. But while we’re talking about Tom Waterhouse, it would be remiss of me to mention the possible brand dangers the agency faces in the future. These include:
Stretching to other Sports Betting: Although Tom Waterhouse launched with a definitive ad on horse racing, he has recently released another Tom Waterhouse ad that further expands his expertise to other sports betting. It will be interesting to see how this business picks up, as I’m not he’s positioned as well in this market. As per perception – people know you are good at one thing. And people will know that Waterhouse is good at horse betting. To move this perception to other areas will require loads of cash and patience. And my knee jerk reaction would be for Tom to stay out of this market and instead just focus and own the horse racing market. His ‘betting’ brand doesn’t (yet) have the strength to stretch into other markets. And efforts to push forward into these markets may waver his focus and dilute his strong niche betting brand.
Weak Call to Action: When I first went to visit his website, I thought the url was firstpastthepost.com. Because those were the key words on at the end of the ad – and also his key differentiator. Having visited this website, it’s clear that it has nothing to do with Tom Waterhouse. This is a lesson in driving home a clear call to action and having this visible to every idiot watching. Relying on the url in his logo isn’t enough.
To be fair, Tom does verbally say the call to action. but this needs to be backed up on screen.
Whadif a Scandal? Yes having Tom as the face of the brand is a plus. But with every plus, there’s also a downside. Tom Waterhouse and Tom Waterhouse betting are 100% linked. All positive and negative PR will effect the other. If there’s a scandal, like it or not either the Tom Waterhouse persona or the Tom Waterhouse agency will be tarred with the same brush. Tom therefore has to ensure that all his dealings are squeaky clean.
Whadif Changing Business Direction? The business is clearly labelled under Tom’s name. But what if Tom wanted to sell out, or add another heavyweight to the brand. Would the Tom Waterhouse brand live on unmodified? I think not. Personally I would have named the business with a brand name, and added Tom’s name as an endorsement. E.g Tom Waterhouse’s First Past the Post. This endorsement could then be dropped or modified when needed – with the core brand – First Past the Post – remaining as is.
Sure, there’s a precedent for selling out of businesses that carry your own name (like Dick Smith), but Tom’s business model relies too much on specialist knowledge rather than full proof procedures.
Have you seen the Tom Waterhouse ad? What do you think?
Growing your small business,
David Moloney
Small Business Planned
domainregister_letter

Domainregister.com.au & Domainnamegroup.com.au Scam?

Have you got a letter in the mail from domainregister.com.au or perhaps domainnamegroup.com.au? If you have you’re probably wondering what it’s all about? Well to put it simply they are trying to sell you an available domain name at a hefty price. The going rate they quoted me was $249.00 for two years. Ouch.

domainregister.com.au letter

domainregister.com.au offers domains at prices 938% above retail

Turns out these folks are well known to Australian overseeing bodies. Many have already issued consumer alerts. And that’s not to mention that there are forums abuzz with other souls trying to get the good oil.
Firstly, it’s crucial to understand that the typical market rate for a com.au domain is about $24 for two years. This means that the ‘offer’ that domainregister.com.au is putting forward is $225 over and above the regular retail price. Or for dramatic effect 938% above regular retail price.
Now it’s important to note that I don’t think domainregister.com.au is not doing anything illegal. But I do believe that they are taking advantage of people’s knowledge. Just like I noted in perception vs reality – people can be taken advantage of when they have a knowledge gap between what they think is right and what is actually right. In this case, if you had no knowledge of domain prices, but generally assumed that anything technological comes with a high price tag – you might believe – and be happy to pay $249 for a two year domain name. Domainregister.com.au is relying on this ignorance to convert sales.

Domainregister.com.au Letter is Persuasive

Let’s take a closer look at the other elements used to try and influence you to take up their offer:
  • Good business name. Domain Register sounds legit and credible doesn’t it. Like a company that you would trust
  • Letter looks like an invoice. If it looks like an invoice, you’re more likely to be persuaded to pay it
  • In addition to the domain name, they offer ‘free email and web formatting’ plus a ‘free gift’ (never disclosed)
  • The letter quotes the phone number of a support centre, again indicating that the company is large and legitimate
  • Visa and MasterCard logos are shown, which again act to legitimise the whole operation
  • The company office is noted as Collins Street Melbourne, a prestigious Melbourne address – again offering credibility (although many business seem to be registered at the same address).
So I must hand it to them, they have done quite a good job at including persuasive elements to encourage people to fork out the $249. I could name one or two more that they could use to improve the letter, but I wouldn’t want to assist them.
A final point. If you receive this letter. I recommend that you throw it in the bin. Caveat emptor – buyer beware.
Growing your small business,
David Moloney
Small Business Planned