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Four takeaways you can’t beat.

Snapshots from our best posts in recent months.

Knowledge and know-how helps us navigate a complex world. But information is useless if we don’t have time to consume it. Here’s the solution. Each quarter you’ll find a summarization post (like this one) that features three or four of the best Bastard posts of the last period. Short, to the point, and with a new takeaway. Now you’re feeling industrious.

1. Ten lessons from APPLE

From idea to supply chain, no one’s doing it better than Apple. We would all do well to take a close look at how the company has been changing the game of making and delivering successful products to the marketplace, over and over again. They’ve had their share of failures and they’ve made difficult changes such as abruptly pulling the company out of manufacturing, closing factories and warehouses and moving instead to contract suppliers and manufacturers. From near bankruptcy to a value of over $22 billion, they are (often) the world’s most valuable tech company these days.

How do they do it?

  1. To win the game, change the rules
  2. Niche does not mean small, just particular
  3. “Think Different” is absolutely more than a slogan
  4. Change the name of your company (from Apple Computer to Apple) when it begins to limit what you can do
  5. Differentiate with fanatical design
  6. Make difficult changes when necessary
  7. Protect your space with expert manufacturing and supply chain prowess
  8. Obsess with detail and value the aesthetic
  9. Be content with fewer, better products
  10. Learn from mistakes

Apple didn’t invent downloadable music or the online music store, yet it changed the game of the entire music industry with a product that simply improved the way people accessed music. They don’t make music; they just made it fun and fashionable to stream other people’s music. TAKEAWAY: They don’t make assumptions and they play by their own rules.

See— “Lessons from the state of the art. Inspiration from the making of Apple products.” August 20, 2011

2. Sometimes a picture is worth 100 words.

Social Media Explained—the graphic—clarifies how to properly use seven of the most popular social media channels, each one in four words or less. You’ll never forget it. TAKEAWAY: Download the PDF Social Media Explained.”

See– “Social Media Explained.” If you didn’t get it before, you’ll get it now. November 14, 2011

3. Research helps you create more customers.

Customers define your business. Research, and the insights that can come from it, helps you understand your customer. The more informed you are, the better you’re able to serve them and the more customers you’ll create.

The needs of a niche industrial supplier are usually so specific that finding meaningful, existing data (secondary research) is difficult at best. Instead, creating your own “primary research” (a study you orchestrate firsthand) could provide just the insight you need. There are two types primary research but consider “qualitative” first:

1) Quantitative research uses statistical models in an attempt to explain what is observed. The caveat: you have to have a high volume of responses for it to be statistically reliable; and you have to know what you’re looking for before data is even collected.

2) Qualitative research takes you into your customer’s psyche, creating a much bigger, fuller, color picture of your target audience’s range of behavior and the perceptions that drive it. The process may in fact reveal an observation that could form the premise of a quantitative study later.

Qualitative research can be done effectively and reliably with as few as three to five samples (individual interviews). In-depth interviews with customers, in person, on the phone, or via the web can provide an intimate vantage point. Get professional research help and let the process enable an analysis of an individuals’ experience—in their own words and in their own way. Results are descriptive, rather than predictive. TAKEAWAY: Measure ROI of qualitative research in “Ahas.”

See— Give your sales strategy a huge leg up! Dive deep for more customer insight.” September 12, 2011

4. Word of mouth—measures of success

Word of mouth (WOM) marketing is undervalued because we don’t call it what it is. Yet WOM has gained significant traction and the discipline has become surprisingly sophisticated. In essence we need 1) people talking about our [great] products and services and 2) we have to sharpen the measurement tools to appreciate what’s really going on. The powers of word of mouth are real.

When you call it what it is, “Word of Mouth” is a key source for getting and retaining customers. Aggregate your entire customer sources such as social media; referrals including customers, friends, affiliates, suppliers and coworkers and call it Word of Mouth. Now measure WOM against other sources like sales, direct mail and promotion. You’ll begin to see just how much you’ve undervalued it.

Top three from: “The Word of Mouth Marketing Manifesto”

1. Happy customers are your best advertising. Make people happy.

2. People are already talking. Your only option is to join the conversation.

3. Be interesting or be invisible.

TAKEAWAY: Give people something to talk about.

See– Effective marketing made free and easy. Recognize and coddle all sources of word of mouth advertising.” October 26, 2011

HIT Solutions believes the more your business keeps up with important trends, the more you will improve your product, and improve your bottom line.

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