Business


While driving down the N1 last week I opened my Mail app, as you do, and my Wi-Fi pop-up came up with this, which I thought was genius:

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It got me thinking: If this guy got my attention while speeding down a national highway, would it not make sense to make more effective use of this free advertising model if you owned or marketed a business?

I happens everywhere. Every Wi-Fi-rich area has pop-ups like this when you open your laptop or switch your phone on to go online:

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This really is free advertising for your business, yet we don’t take advantage. Most are boring with the company name, or some, like us, have some fun with the name.

Either way, no-one has ownership of this, yet.

Use it, don’t use it.

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Planning to do absolutely nothing over the holiday period and catch up on some reading proved to be extremely fruitful. Yay me. Here’s a very brief lowdown on what I read, and how awesome they were.

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The Tunnel Rats – Stephen Leather (@stephenleather)

This book really hit home for me as the core of it is based around a team of ‘Nam-vets who were stationed in and around the tunnels during the Vietnam war. I’m very fortunate enough to have visited a section of the tunnels in Cu Chi, even crawled through one, so having that as a base (I imagine) really helped me fully understand the extent of what they were going through.

The story follows a series of murders around the world, investigated by British Transport Police initially and followed by FBI, fake-FBI, Thai authorities and more, ending up with a BTP sergeant, a hired assassin, the ‘Nam vets and the killer navigating their way through the tunnels in search of the truth. An awesome book for anyone who loves a good crime thriller.

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American Assassin – Vince Flynn (Website)

I’m a big fan of spy books, like Stephen Leather’s “Dan Shepherd” or Barry Eisler’s “John Rain” series’, so when Rich bought me American Assassin for Christmas, I knew it would be a goodie. This is my first “Mitch Rapp” book, which is great, ‘cos American Assassin has been written as a prequel to Vince Flynn’s 11 other books, with one more being launched in a few weeks. Excellent.

Mitch Rapp fans haven’t given it the greatest reviews, but with no history of his antics through the series this was a phenomenal start. It covers his initial draft to becoming an agent, and through his first missions. With a thirst for revenge after terrorists gunned down an airplane with his girlfriend on board, killing bad guys is his first priority, and he’s phenomenal at it. A superb spy book that has started my drive to finish them all. Can’t wait.

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The Whipping Boy – Ben Trovato (@btrovato)

Ben Trovato is one mad cat. Smart, funny, crazy, he manages to make you think on a whole new level regarding current affairs, while also shaking your head in disbelief as to how he actually got to that conclusion. I think it may have to do with the drinking, or perhaps a few very hefty drags of fine cannabis, as he takes you on several journeys through articles he wrote for the Sunday Times (which brought back some great memories of ridiculous happenings in our lovely little country) and bizarre letters of employment to random organisations.

It’s a particularly easy read, as each letter or article is short and punchy enough to get the message across with ease, simplicity and big kick to whoever’s balls he’s targeting (Helen Zille’s included). I thoroughly enjoyed it, even though I felt a little dirty after reading it. I do, however, wish I knew how he came up with some of the content he creates. He’s one smart mo’fo’.

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Empire – Brendan Jack (@brendanjack)

“Empire: How to Succeed with Nothing but Passion, Great Ideas and a Wealthy Family” is, as you can imagine, a hilarious tongue-in-cheek review from a spoilt rich kid’s perspective of making it big in life. I filed it under “Business” on my Kindle because (and I was as surprised as you may be) there were honestly some great lessons in it that made me think. I know, crazy.

I’ve always enjoyed Brendan’s humour, and it’s followed through with a tornado in Empire. If Richard Branson, Bono, The Queen and Barack Obama all shared a god-child, Lucien Dunlop Fantasia would be him. Able to buy anything (and I mean anything) at a whim, or brunching with celebrities you’ve forgotten about (but are still super famous), mixed with a penchant for hover boards and scented reading pillows, he’s done it. Lucien goes through life learning lessons from investing in ridiculous businesses to spending time in jail to drug-binges beyond compare, finally ending up in the great world of advertising, successfully selling denim fridge jackets, dildo alarm clocks and Ouma rusks. Okay I lied about the rusks, but I’m sure he had a hand in that too.

An absolutely hilarious and engaging book about the utmost extreme edge of where life could be, with a few great gems hidden inside. My favourite: Water always picks the shortest route to flow downhill. Water may be lazy, but it’s also powerful. Find this balance.

Overall, a fantastic holiday spent working my way through four phenomenal books. If you think like me, act like me and like the things I like, you’ll love all of them.

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Not even!

I think the title of this post should actually be “Why Cell C’s marketing team should consider a career in sales”. Now, I’d imagine Trevor Noah (tw) to be a pretty smart guy, but to be sold into becoming the face of a widely considered struggling brand, they must have sold him the world. Not just in payment, but in the overall strategy going forward. And well done to them.

I don’t recall Cell C (tw) getting as much exposure as they have over the past few weeks, ever. It started off with praise and applause, then the ‘it was all a scam‘ fiasco when everyone (particularly journos who felt like their little feelings were hurt for being betrayed) slated the campaign at every opportunity. Now the logo story. When will it end? It probably has. And all Cell C can do from here is improve, because they are, essentially, starting from the bottom. And I have a feeling that they will.

Why? Because what the’ve done is completely polarise themselves to the market. You get the people who love what they’ve done, and the people who absolutely hate it. Both sides have the same amount of interest in waiting for what they’ll do next, and both sides are so passionate about their standpoints that they will vehemently argue over any platform, live or online, to try and prove their point. The result: A conversation about the brand. Awesome. So now Cell C has the whole country focussing on their next move, and when you have that much pressure to perform, you work your ass off to make it happen.

On the other side though, what if they don’t? What if this all came too suddenly, they’re not prepared for it, and Cell C loses everything? What does this mean for their new CEO?

Trevor has become the face, the captain of this huge faceless ship. It’s a lot easier for us to blame individuals when things go wrong, because shouting at a large cold building never helped anydoby. It’s exactly what they wanted to achieve with the new campaign: Speak to an individual (Trevor) and he’ll sort you out. People buy in to that. But it has it’s disadvantages too.

Bottom line: If the brand you advocate goes down, you’re going down with them. It’s the captain’s duty. Let’s just hope the powers that be (unfortunately I don’t think Trevor is one of them) can steer this ship past the iceberg and sail it to greener pastures.

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On a flight to Cape Town recently, I met a guy who is almost as passionate about South Africa as my mate Nic. This guy, Steve English, is a true believer in South Africans being good samaritans. He’s developed a system to show it off, and in the process, hopefully help people.

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Reward-if-foundthe honesty incentive – is a simple concept: Place a sticker on your worthy possessions, and if one of them ever gets lost, the person who finds it SMSs the number on the sticker to 33105. The back-end system then notifies the owner via SMS and email, the owner and finder are connected and make arrangements to do the swap. The name obviously implies that a reward will be given for finding, which is a small price to pay for data retrieval, buying another device, the hassle of claiming from insurance, etc.

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I challenged him on a few things though:

Me: “This can’t obviously replace insurance, ‘cos not everyone is a good person.”

Steve: “It’s not an insurance replacement, it’s relying on the goodwill of your fellow South Africans. Insurance companies are interested in this because they see their customers’ claims being reduced significantly.”

Me: “So can’t I just stick something I made myself on my possessions and hope people will phone me?”

Steve: “Of course you could, people do already (like on their luggage), but the service which is easy to use by sending one SMS or logging on to the site is a guarantee to get the original owner in contact with you, and the name suggests you’ll be rewarded, which is only fair.”

Me: “But what if someone holds my laptop ransom and demands a lot more than the reward I want to offer them?”

Steve: “RICA enforces all cellphone numbers to be attached to a specific person with all of their details. Should someone want to take a chance like that, the owner can contact us and we will go the legal route, bringing in lawyers and the Police, because we have their details and they can be found.”

So they’ve done their homework. But what I want to know is:

1. Would you use it?

2. If yes, would you pay a monthly fee relying on the honesty of others?

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I managed to get (read: wangled my way in) an open seat at Nokia’s The Way We Live Next 3.0 gig this morning, partly to give Rich…! some man-love should the media/blogger attendees not like what he had to say (this of course did not happen – he rocked out), and partly to see what Nokia has in store for the world.

I started writing a recap of the event, but Paul Jacobson beat me to it, and probably did a better job of it anyway. Overall, I’m lank excited about the Nokia Maps Player, and the Nokia Booklet 3G, which is one sexy little piece of equipment.

Read Paul’s post here. Awesome.


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While trying to make a name for herself in the South African social media space, Nadia van der Merwe found herself on the wrong side of the critics’ good books. She created a digital resumé that she, to my understanding, wanted to use to get her name out there, displaying her knowledge and love for the industry.

Some people liked it, most thought it was a bad move. But…

The objective was to make a name for herself in the South African social media space. Whether it started out well, or not so well, today not many people are unfamiliar with the name Nadia van der Merwe. I can almost guarantee that going this particular route (the bad press) wasn’t her plan all along, but Nadia really did make a name for herself.

Did it play out how I would imagine she envisioned it? No. Did she fulfill the primary objective? Absolutely. How she capitalises on this now, however, remains to be seen.

The boys at Jo’blog were kinda jealous that we didn’t have any online social media resumé of sorts, and thought Nadia’s video was great fodder for a vid of our own too. We don’t look this good in lingerie, but we make out alright.


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Tattoos and stand-up comedy. These are primarily the two biggest conversations I have with people nowadays on a personal level.

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What comes up more often than not are people’s longing to either do comedy or get a tattoo, but they just never had the guts to go through with it, almost always blaming the ‘too scared to get on stage’, or the ‘permanence’ or ‘soon-to-be-boredom’ with tattoos. It’s like a broken record.

I’ve been creating and writing comedy for as long as I can remember. I was fortunate enough to have a group of friends, including my family, who could see humour in everything, which led me to begin writing things down so that I could one day use it, either on stage, TV or in film.

A few years ago when I was doing video production I did some work with Riaad Moosa. On the last day of shooting, we were leaving the set and he shouted across the parking lot “Get on stage Don!”, after our earlier conversation about open comedy spots at Cool Runnings in Melville. It was an awesome thing to hear from someone like him. So I continued to write comedy, but never really considered getting on stage to actually use it.

Then last year we were invited to Missing Link for a talk by John Vlismas about creativity, and obviously used comedy as an example. One of the guys asked him how people can get into it and he mentioned the open spots on Sunday nights at Cool Runnings. At that stage of my life I needed something to occupy my mind and free time, so after the talk I asked John how to book a spot, and got the number. Three days later, while driving to a meeting, I phoned Whacked Management and booked myself a spot. I put the phone down and felt like vomiting. It was honestly one of the scariest things I had to do. Taking that first step was huge, but now it was done, and all I had to do was show up and perform.

Long story short, I performed my first gig (which very few people have seen) and even though I look back on it now and think it wasn’t even close to what I’d expect to be a good set, I walked off stage feeling like I’d wrestled a lion, and tamed the bastard. No-one can ever explain that feeling of total bliss. Too rad.

The thing is, the big step wasn’t actually getting on stage, it was taking that first step and getting booked in. Once I knew I had to do it, I knuckled down and made it happen. I wrote a set, I consulted friends, I perfected it so that I could deliver as effective a show as possible. Now I just can’t get enough.

This doesn’t only apply to comedy or getting a tattoo. What, in business, are you thinking about doing but are too scared to implement? Do you have an idea that could possibly help your business? The worst that can happen is you fail, but at least you can say you tried.

This post (although old, but definitely still relevant) explains how, while few CEOs are as candid about the potential for failure as Isdell, many are wrestling with the same problem, trying to get their organisations to cosy up to the risk-taking that innovation requires. “Everyone fears failure. But breakthroughs depend on it. The best companies embrace their mistakes and learn from them.”

It goes back to that saying “You always regret the things you didn’t do.” You’ll never know unless you’ve tried.

Just do it.

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244484908_f4aff0dd02_o.jpgTelana Simpson is one amazing woman. She started a project over 2 years ago to try trade office space, for one matchstick.

Eh? You may be asking yourself. Yup, that’s right, but not a direct trade. She’s trading up incrementally to finally get the offices she dreams of for her company, as well as contributing some space to mentoring a start-up entrepreneurial enterprise.

Her trades so far: One matchstick for a green ballpoint pen for a fluffy frog for 3 business books for 18 bottles of wine for a holiday in Utopia for 3 grand cash for a balloon safari with champagne breakfast for two.

If I’m not mistaken, right now she’s looking for an iPhone to trade for the balloon safari.

Any takers to fulfill this dream?

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The ever-growing comments on my Free Advertising post from 2006 (702 comments to date, with only the 1st one being an actual comment to my post, thanks Peas) has generated some beauties, some real classics in terms of how people advertise. Every now and again, out of sheer curiosity, I’ll follow a URL to see if what each commentator posts is truly what you’ll get. Here is the latest:

Hi there we Specialise in web hosting and design
Websites From R99 A month.
R2250 for 5 page website design
R1250 for 3 page website design
R500 for 1 page website design
Monthly hosting R99 on any website
We also Specialize in Printing , signage, buisness cards , flyers , badges our current specials are:
500 full colour gloss business cards @349
5000 full colour flyers A5 gloss @1450
Badges R30 each
Magnet car signage A3 @ R190
Please contact us regarding any of these offers on
cell:0734569788
Best Regards
Riche’

Right. I’m gonna give you my thoughts before I actually give you the link. So where to begin? Ok:

As the site loads, an untreated, untrained voice welcomes you to his site (his name is not Riche’). The voice then proceeds to read, yes, read the text on the front page to you, just in case you didn’t like the sound of your own voice reading it to yourself in your head.

My best though is when he stumbles his words. Classic. No ‘Oh shit I buggered it up let’s re-record’, they’ll just use as is, because, who really cares, right? It’s only a website, and we sell website solutions, who will really judge us? I mean, really!

During two of the stumbles, however, and this really blows my mind, he realises that there’s a word missing from the text on the page, so he pauses, figures it out, and adds in the correct word. Apart from the re-record possibility mentioned earlier, what really worries me is that they haven’t added the words onto the page after realising that they’re missing. Because, who really needs those words to make the sentences correct? People will figure it out, c’mon!

The cherry on top, and yes, I waited for it, is that the voice is repeated. Over. And over. And over again. I just don’t understand.

Also:

- The Our Services page reads Our Serviecs.

- How we work is riddled with spelling errors.

- Recent designs doesn’t have links on the thumbnails.

- About us is exactly the same, barring two spelling corrections, as How we work.

- Contact us produces a 404 not found’ error.

- Their 3 packages (Starter, Premium and Business) have a ‘click to order’ button below, but all 3 go to the same email addy, with no defining subject lines, not making it as easy as possible for the consumer to order what he wants, so he has to fill it in himself. Now, more than ever, you need to make it super-crazy easy for someone to give you their money. And it’s not a difficult thing to do, it’s a tiny bit of code, which even I could do, and that’s saying a lot!

The whole site is a bit of a ‘mare really.

So maybe I’m being horrible. I know there are plenty of sites out there which are just as horrid as this one, but I still can’t get over this one little fact:

If you are selling something, no matter what it may be, you need to be absolutely sure that you, yourself, portray the ultimate in what it is you do.

How can you expect people to trust you to deliver on a professional, effective product if what you have created for yourself is far from up to scratch?

If you don’t look after yourself, why should I believe you’d look after me?

I’ll never get it.

Oh, link here.

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Here you go bro, just in case yours wears out ;)

Blue skies
Love
Rich…!

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The Loeries deserve this…!

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oli_barrett.jpg Oli Barrett (twitter) is one of my heroes. He’s a serial entrepreneur and networker, and has been described as being “more connected than a bowl of spaghetti”

The other day he explained to me that the first ever Global Entrepreneurship Week is taking place this year, he says, “The idea of the week is to enable and encourage young people across the world to have ideas and make them happen, and to connect each other all over the world”.

This is where it gets fun, and interesting for SA entrepreneurs.

One of the main signature activities for the week is Global Speed Networking, where young people all over the world will be encouraged to meet each other, and business people, for just three minutes at a time, to share ideas and build conversations.

To seed this idea, I’m going on a WhistleStop tour of 12 countries in 22 days and I would really appreciate your help in connecting with colleagues who might like to take part of work together in some way.

The people he would like to connect with is you guys, and the date is the 7th October. I’ve attended one of Oli’s speed networks, they’re insane, fun, and really effective.

Hope to (briefly) meet you there…!

Leave a comment if you’re up for it and I’ll get you more details when I have ‘em.

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Pieter Botha sent me this little bit of information that I thought was quite interesting.

Basically, Ster Kinekor‘s service is getting worse, and it has to do with certain folks getting jobs where they have either no experience, or are just really crap at what they have to do.

Some people are also quite grumpy about the fact that the CEO fired Saudi Arabian Mustafa Sleem (who was apparently quite shit anyway) to make way for her niece Merice.

The original complaint on Hello Peter has been deleted, which is quite odd, but luckily a screenshot was taken for proof. My take? Deleting posts like that off Hello Peter, and getting busted, is dodgy. We’ll see what happens.

 Update: I posted a comment on Hello Peter about this issue and they replied with this: Comments about Human Resource issues are deleted as the site is designed for comments relating to Customer Service issues only. We review comments looking for inappropriate material and delete comments that attack individuals, or that are slanderous or libellous.

Which is fair I think. 

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To whom it may concern,

When I collect my new cheque card from your esteemed premises, as a replacement for the one I recently… er, lost, I would appreciate if you made a few logical assumptions on my behalf.

The first is that, being the collector of aforementioned cheque card, I might have some intention of using it, and thus would require a PIN number to match my spanking new blue spending machine. It’s next to useless without a PIN, not being able to assist me in internet banking or drawing cash, so why would I not want it?

If for some reason you are unable to assist me on this front, due to some unknown and mostly useless process/legal issue, of which you seem to have a plethora, the very least you could do, as a way of making my banking Simpler, Better and Faster is, upon my arrival at your bank for collection, is actually take some initiative and ask me if I need a PIN number for my new cheque card so I can use it, and then direct me to the right area or, heavens, help me yourself.

This would stop me from returning to my place of work, opening the card envelope in private, not finding a PIN number, phoning enquiries, being told I can only get it at the branch I had already left, and then returning for the second and doubly inconvenient time to Northgate.

And if you could do something about the snotty enquiries lady who gave me a ‘don’t-you-know-anything-about-banking’ look as a response to my complaint, that would be swell. Of course I don’t know anything about banking. I’m not a banker. She is… presumably.

Thank you for listening to my whinging.

I look forward to whinging again in the near future.

D’ave

P.S. Thanks for charging me R90 for the replacement card, btw. That must prove it’s worth something.

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I gotta start this post with a disclaimer of sorts, I actually really like SARS, they have a shit, thankless job, but they do it really well, and they have been, in my experience, and understanding bunch (this probably deserves a post of it’s own – watch this space).

However, I was looking at my wife’s tax return the other day, and I saw that she was due R1.75 as a rebate. Thing is, apparently anything less than fifty bucks doesn’t get paid out. Now, I can imagine that the cost of distributing millions of R2.00 payments would be astronomical, but the bottom line is that the money isn’t theirs.

Let’s imagine that half the population (20m) pay tax, and let’s imagine a quarter of them are due a rebate of less than R50, we’ll call it an average of just R2. That’s R10, 000.000.00 i.e. a fuckload. Even if it gets factored into next year’s return (it might) they are still earning interest on a lot of our money.

My suggestion: SARS chooses 5 charities, when you submit your tax return, you choose one. The most payments SARS will need to process is 5, and the rest of us get to feel good about our contribution.

Easy peasy lemon squeezy…!

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A few weeks ago, I wrote a post on “hello_world” on the importance of damage recovery as a branding tool. Today Jeremy Osborne, from MTN, proved the theory. He had read the post complaining about the sms spam. He called me, apologised, explained how the spam happened (an error when migrating details from the old mtnice portal), and talked me through the opt-out process.

mtnoptout

Visit the MTN site
On the top menu, select [my mtn] then [my details]
Login
Do what you gotta do – easy peasy.

While on the phone, he also helped me with other questions I had regarding MTN, even though they were out of his area of influence. If you want to get hold of the man, leave a comment and I’ll send you his details.

Good work bro…!

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Just because I’m a paid subscriber, does not give you the right to send me irrelevant SMS spam.

Didn’t get tickets fro the 50 cent concert? Get 50 cent RT or wallpaper from MTN before midnight Thu 2ND and stand a chance to win 2 tickets (travel not incl.)!

Seriously, you have no right, not only is this blatant spam, it is also extremely badly targeted, two reasons I say this. Firstly, and I’m generalising here I know, most people that have the premier business package would not be 50 Cent fans (I’m not) and secondly, they can generally afford their own tickets thus don’t find your sms helpful, just an invasion. Send me news about the newst business thinker speaking in SA and I might not be so irritated. Better still read permission marketing.

It’s really basic stuff guys…!

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Man alive, I can’t wait until Telkom lose their monopoly, I’ll change my number if need be, but it’ll be worth it just so I can tell them “thanks for shit service, useless call centres, atrocious hold music, apathetic attitudes and bullshit advertising that in no way represents your offering, now fuck off!”

As from today, I’ll add: and for being a “corporate bully” to the list. Telkom are threatening to sue hellkom (mentioned in a previous post) for R5m. Telkom you twats, sure hellkom is a problem, but if you want to do something, try tackling the problem at the source, you must know that you’re crap at even the basics of customer service, do something about that. Might I suggest you read “the ambulance down in the valley

And regardless, you’re committing PR hari-kiri, you would be far better off just laughing it off.

Long live Hellkom, beat the bastards…!

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Don’t just do it for you though,

Do it for the children…!

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After reading D’ave’s post and your subsequent replies it amazes me how narrow minded some of you are. You say “why not take away this or that channel instead?” You act like you are arguing on principle, but you sound a bit like petulant brats, as that would only put the people that watch those channels in the same position as you. I personally couldn’t stand Sci-Fi, but, I back you 100% on this fight. DSTV sells choice, then taketh choice away. By definition they should not only be offering the mainstream channels. Satelite TV is about selling one mass-market product that has elements that appeal to micro-markets. The stand you’re making is great, but…

Try fighting on principle, not just preference…!

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