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Value Propositions and your website

Friday, April 26th, 2013

Value Proposition - just another buzzword?“Value proposition.”

Buzzword bingo, inpenetrable jargon or simply good, old-fashioned plain English?

On the face of it, it’s another of those meaningless phrases that consultants throw out there for fun and profit.

But take a second look.

Value. Proposition. It’s simply a statement of the value that you are promising to your potential customers.

From a customer’s perspective, it’s simply “what’s in it for me?”.

It’s why your business exists. Without a value proposition you have no purpose; no reason for your prospect to pick up the phone to talk to you or email you or buy something from you. Without a value proposition there is nothing at all which makes you stand out as different from any of your competitors; your business will either wither away or become embroiled in a race to the bottom as you can only compete on price.

You already have a value proposition, even if you don’t realise it

You will likely have a value proposition, of course. There will be a reason why your customers picked you over your competitors; it could be that you excel in your particular field, offer an extended service beyond that offered by competitors, or you might be really good at managing projects and keeping clients in-the-loop. Or it could be something completely different. One thing is for certain – being first in the telephone directory isn’t good enough nowadays; customers WILL read your website (and those of competitors) before commiting to work with you.

It might be that you are well-established and rely on word-of-mouth and referrals. They may have seen some previous work that you’ve done. In this case your customers are spreading a value proposition for you. But unless you define and use a value proposition you’ll struggle to directly attract new business coming in from, for example, a web search. And you’ll probably find it trickier to convert referrals into customers as people more and more compare providers online.

You might not know why your customers chose you over other providers – it’s this which you should figure out because failing to do so and not shouting it from the rooftops means that you are failing to connect with the types of customers you are good at working with.

You’re probably adept at explaining your value proposition to prospects, even if you don’t call it that. You’re certainly unlikely to pronounce “this is my value proposition…”, but a value proposition it is nonetheless. Online, you do not have the nuance of conversation; the body language and facial expressions and utterances which tell you that the prospect “gets it”; you have to be CLEAR and BOLD instead. And that’s why you need to define your proposition.

THAT’S what “value proposition” means. It’s not difficult to understand – although defining it can be a much trickier proposition.

Don’t give me your spam problem

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

I hate CAPTCHAs.

You know – those irritating tests that you have to do on websites to prove that you are human, rather than a machine.  They try to cut down on the amount of spam that website owners receive, or to stop nefarious coders scraping all your site data or monopolising the resources of the server that the site is stored on.

I can just about put up with them on some sites.  Google’s keyword research tool uses a CAPTCHA to stop misuse of its keyword database, for example, but only when you haven’t logged in.

But I draw the line at CAPTCHAs on contact forms.  Why add an extra hurdle to prospects actively making contact with you?  You might find that I’ll just go elsewhere.

Get too much spam?  Get a decent spam filter instead – don’t push your spam problem onto me.

Competitors exploit airline demise

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

The travel industry is extremely competitive, so it’s no surprise that the demise of Kiss Flights has led to other holiday and flight sellers scrambling to pick up affected customers.

A search on Google for “kiss flights” the morning after the airline went bust reveals how quickly travel agents’ marketing teams have reacted to the news – take a look at the sponsored links:

Google results page for Kiss Flights, showing competitors advertising rebooking services

We can see three types of adverts here:

“Rebook your flights with us! (Please!)”

First Choice, Jet2, On The Beach and others all want to sweep up customers left in the wake of Kiss Flight’s demise.  They (just about) stay on the right side of line between identifying the customer’s needs and exploiting the demise of Kiss.

I can’t help think that some of the ad writers had a feeling of glee when they found out their competitor’s closure, but they are at least channelling this in a way which will help affected customers!

“Book with us – you can be assured that your booking is safe”

Thompson, Co-operative Travel, TVL4U and Fleetway assuage customer concern by mentioning ATOL and/or ABTA in their ad creative.

With Kiss being just the latest UK travel industry casualty of the summer (right on the tails of Sun 4 U and Goldtrail), customers will be seeking assurance that the risk to their holidays is low and that their money is protected, should the worst happen.

Confidence in the scores of travellers who rebooked with Kiss after Goldtrail’s collapse will be particularly low.

Membership to schemes such as ATOL and ABTA can help reassure customers,

“We don’t want our reputation to be dragged down with Kiss, so we’d better make it easy for customers to get a refund.”

Lost Cost Holidays resold flights with Kiss, and their response is to look after their affected customers.  By advertising 100% refunds on flights, they’re demonstrating customer care and shielding their brand’s reputation from the fallout of customer complaints about Kiss.

Reacting to Events

Reacting to events is a good way to show that you are aware of and care about your clients’ concerns.

Technology such as email, paid search advertising (PPC – Pay Per Click) and social networking bypass traditional PR techniques and connect you directly with your audience quickly and cheaply.

Fish.Net are experienced in delivering messages in this way – call our Web team on 01457 819600 to find out how we can help you.

Power Search – Know your results

Monday, July 26th, 2010

Search engines are indispensable for finding information quickly.  Most of the time you’ll find the answer you need immediately, but sometimes you have to delve a little deeper.

Learn the techniques you need to become a power search ninja in this occasional series.


Smartphone Touch Screens

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

Is it me? Probably

I’ve put it off for long enough, the time has come to upgrade my mobile phone.  My contract expired 9 months ago (it was an 18 month contract), therefore since then I’ve been making a monthly payment towards the cost of a handset which is fully paid for.  I therefore feel I deserve the latest and best phone to justify my monthly expenditure, whether I need it or not.  So why haven’t I upgraded sooner?  Well, my existing phone does what I want and just keeps on working.

An Electronic Swiss Army Knife

Smartphones are excellent. With a single compact device in my pocket, a Nokia N95, I have access to:

  • a good quality camera with flash and an excellent macro (close-up) capability
  • email
  • Internet web browsing
  • sat nav
  • mp3 player
  • video player
  • personal organiser

and, of course, a mobile phone with good hands-free capability

The Years BB & BI (Before Blackberry & Before iPhone)

Sadly, most people don’t realise that smartphones have been around for years – they aren’t the new invention of Blackberry or Apple or any other kind of fruit.  The first effective incarnations were proprietary – custom developments by each phone manufacturer – then in 2001 along came the first device using the Symbian operating system, and Microsoft has been providing Windows Mobile since 2003.

My first real smartphone was a Nokia 7610.  “What do I want a phone with a camera for?”.  Well, I had no choice.  The other features I wanted came in a phone which had a camera, and actually, it was quite useful but dire quality.  Before the 7610 I’d had a Nokia 7110  which with its WAP browser (anybody remember WAP? Fish.Net used to have a WAP site) could possibly be described as having ambitions of smartphone.  So when I came to upgrade the 7610 its increasing unreliability meant I didn’t really hesitate and the Nokia N95 provided all the features I wanted, apart from, perhaps, battery life and being noticeably thicker than its predecessor.

So I’ve been reading my email, browsing the web and taking acceptable quality photos (camera, not photographer) for years.

What Next?  Bad Ergonomics – everything you touch turns to iPhone

Recently it’s been time for a mobile phone upgrade and the new kids on the block are Apple’s iPhone and Android from Google.  Android is now appearing on phones from virtually every manufacturer apart from Apple (no surprise) and Nokia who is still the proud parent of Symbian.  What the iPhone and Android have done is shown just how good and effective a touch screen interface can be.  So much so, that they’ve thrown away the keypad.

And that’s the problem – they’ve thrown away the keypad.  They’ve made you believe that buttons are bad – and they’re wrong.

The touch screens and user interfaces on both the iPhone and Android phones are a delight to use.  The creation of a pinch gesture to zoom is a piece of genius.  But often I want to use my phone without giving it my full attention, and most of the time the prime role for my smartphone is to simply make phone calls.

I need buttons I can feel, with a tactile response to let me know I’ve successfully pressed them.  This is particularly important when simply making a call or hanging up the phone, or when using the SatNav.  My phone sits in a cradle in my car and I can handle most of the call and SatNav functions without ever taking my hands off the road – I don’t need to look at the screen to work out which button to press.  When I’m not driving I can even text blind most of the time.  And all because I know the pattern of the buttons and can feel exactly where they are.  The same argument applies to the camera.  The N95, among others, has a dedicated shutter button which falls exactly in the right (handed) place when I want to take a photo.

And the touch-screen phones all have a lock button to prevent you accidentally ‘pressing’ buttons with the side of your face while you’re making a call!

My Choice

So what did I look at?

I spent a lot of time looking at the latest Nokias, Sony Ericssons, Samsungs and LGs and the Android phones from most of the above.  I decided an acceptable compromise would possibly be to have separate call and hang up buttons and leave the rest to the touch-sensitive screen.  But only the early Android phones – the HTC Tattoo and HTC Hero – have these buttons, and neither of these has a flash for the camera.  From the other perspective I looked at the Sony Satio and Vivaz as these both have good cameras.  Even the impending Nokia N8 unticks too many boxes.  Other compromises could have been the Sony Experia X10 Mini Pro or the Nokia N97 both with slide out keyboards.  But the latter is now relatively old for a ‘new’ (and expensive) phone and neither provide the call buttons particularly well

So what did i choose?

I realised that in every case I was compromising my choice of phone just to achieve an upgrade, none of the options ticked all the boxes that my current phone does.  Yes I would like a bigger screen and a thinner case and longer battery life, but…

So I’m moving over to a SIM-only contract.  I’m paying less, I’m getting loads more bundled minutes and texts and at last I’m getting bundled data.  For my phone I’m going to use a couple of cast-offs from around the office – primarily an N85, but I also have my old N95 and access to another N95.

I’m going to watch and wait.  Hopefully in the next 12 months or so phones will come along which put ergonomics back above fashion.  An Android with a keypad?.  I’m not sure if anything will actually appear.  In the mean time I’ll save money and step aside from the upgrade rat-race.


Monday, April 26th, 2010

phoneThe main challenge of maintaining a company blog is keeping it fresh and up to date, especially when you’re lucky enough to be busy with client work!

Keeping the blog fresh isn’t just about writing fresh content, though.  There’s a danger that the look and feel of the blog can stagnate unless you can add engaging visual content.

There are many ways to do this, although most have a cost; bespoke photography will rarely pass the time or cost test, and stock  photography tends to be terribly clichéd unless you invest significant time and money in sourcing good images.

The answer to this problem?  Doodles!

Nearly every company will have a doodler.  By their very nature doodles are quick drawings which can be done on a Post-It note or the back of an envelope.  They scan surprisingly well, and most importantly add a ‘human’ touch’ to what can sometimes be text-laden pages.

Even basic doodles can brighten up a blog entry.  If you like the style you might even opt for a full colour, crafted illustration for your more important entries or even site pages – the Google Doodles are now legendary.

We’ve ‘retro-fitted’ doodles to some of our blog entries, and we hope you like them.  For more guidance on what makes a good company blog, please contact our Web team on 01457 819600.

Search is free

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

War is Peace.  Freedom is Slavery.  Search is free.

google-privacyEarlier in the week I went to see a stage production of 1984, Orwell’s dystopic tale of a near-future totalitarian nightmare.  Performed at the Royal Exchange in Manchester, this adaption by Oldham-born actor, director and playwright Matthew Dunster was suitably bleak and disturbing (and highly recommended).

Thankfully, Orwell’s 1984 didn’t transpire.  We live in a progressive and open society, with the Internet at the forefront of our enlightened world.  Or do we?


Looking back over 2009

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

The media’s bleak picture of economic woe belies the positive approach and growth of most of our clients in 2009.  Optimistic yet cautious, companies have turned to Fish.Net to help retain a healthy outlook and further promote their business.  Indeed, Fish.Net has expanded its team to accommodate the additional work in helping companies adapt in these challenging times.

Continue reading to find out more about how Fish.Net has helped clients keep prudent and market through the downturn.