Ideas provide the fuel for individuals and companies to create value and success.
Indeed the power of ideas can even exceed the power of money. One simple idea can be the catalyst to move markets, inspire colleagues and employees, and capture the hearts and imaginations of customers. This book can be that very catalyst. Each innovation idea is succinctly described and is followed by advice on how it can be applied to the reader's own business situation.
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Obviously there may be some abuse of the system—choosing three teetotaller friends in order to obtain three free miniatures of the whisky is one obvious possibility—but in general people are very fair about it, because it is after all a very generous offer. However, the vast majority of sales promotions only move sales forward—they rarely have the power to make people buy more, or switch brands.
The reason for this is that buyers will simply stock up in order to gain the promotion, then buy less in future weeks and months until the stocks have been used up. In the consumer context, people might switch brands temporarily in response to a sales promotion, but the vast majority switch back to their usual brand or to a new brand with an even better promotion as soon as the offer ends.
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The idea Goldwell is a German manufacturer of hair care products, sold to professional hairdressers. Goldwell broke all the rules. This meant that salons could obtain products instantly, a major consideration if stocks were low, and the reps were able to show people the full range of products. Where Goldwell scored, though, was in their sales promotions. Inevitably, the salon would eventually use the conditioners, shampoos, etc.
Frequently, the stylists would prefer the Goldwell product, and would then order it next time—resulting in more free samples of other new products. Goldwell is now well up among the major suppliers to hairdressing salons throughout Britain.
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The approach therefore works best with small businesses. Apart from the fact that it has increased the effects of competition dramatically as people are able to shop around extremely easily, the internet has meant that companies can reduce their workforces dramatically as people can order online and have goods delivered by carrier. Some companies even did away with their largely self-employed sales forces—the people operating from their own homes, often for small amounts of money.
On the other hand, many of the salespeople became disaffected when they found the customers they had recruited were being lured into buying online, thus cutting the salespeople out of the picture and more importantly cutting them out of their commission.
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The idea Betterware distribute household products through a network of homebased distributors, mostly working in their spare time. The basic Betterware selling system is based on a catalog: the distributors put the catalogs through letterboxes in their designated area, then call back later to take orders and eventually to deliver the goods. However, the company has recognized that the main drawback of the internet is the lack of human contact, and in fact Betterware are already far better placed than most other companies to inject a human element.
Therefore, Betterware not only pay commission to the salespeople for any sales made in their area, even if the orders are placed by telephone or online: they also arrange for the salespeople to deliver those orders to the customers. This establishes the salesperson in a position where he or she is able to sell more to the customer.
After all, the customer may well have taken the email address from the brochure the salesperson had dropped off—so the bulk of the work had already been done. In services, the people element of the provision is obviously extremely important. In some cases, people actually ARE the service: hairdressing, teaching, entertainment, and so forth. Not all of them do—and staff training is no substitute for hiring people who are polite and helpful anyway.
Combining these two elements, we see that customers who have a problem stand a good chance of being greeted by a disinterested store assistant, who refers the problem to someone else who may or may not be available and who may or may not be able to help. What they have beyond any doubt, though, is committed and capable staff whom they call co-workers.
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Getting a job at IKEA is by no means simple: the company is looking for people who can act on their own initiative, and who can deal pleasantly and capably with customers, so IKEA is extremely selective in who they employ. Whichever employee is approached, he or she will deal with the problem straightaway, whether by replacing a faulty product, offering a reduction, or offering a meal voucher for the restaurant.
Because the staff are well trained, well motivated, and intelligent, they can be trusted to deal with problems. The result is actually a cost saving, because less staff time is wasted on dealing with a problem—if a free meal in the cafeteria saves even half an hour of management time, it is money well spent. The net result is that IKEA runs with fewer staff than most comparable retailers, and scores much higher on customer satisfaction surveys. Train them well, especially in terms of understanding the boundaries of their empowerment. Hire trustworthy people, then trust them. Although we tend to believe that communication is a linear process someone says something, the other person hears it, the message got through it is rarely that simple.
Apart from the obvious problems of misunderstanding, mishearing, only getting part of the message, and so forth, there is the problem that people interpret messages in the light of previous experience. Research showed that teenagers consistently overestimate their capabilities as road users, and also they receive so many messages about safety and health issues they screen most of them out especially messages from the government. The only messages that get through are those that they feel touch them personally.
By using the kind of imagery teenagers use themselves, the advertisements were hard-hitting without being patronizing: the campaign got the message through. In post-tests following the ad being screened in movie theaters and on TV, 79 percent of respondents remembered the ad in a prompted recall, 95 percent said it made them rethink their attitudes to road safety, and 93 percent said it made them realize it could happen again. In the year following the ad, accidents involving teenagers fell by 10 percent. Their motivations and aims are often very different from those of senior management—and paying them a salary does not necessarily guarantee that they will always act exactly as management would wish.
For marketers, the problem is especially serious when dealing with the sales force. Salespeople usually work away from the company, and thus away from supervision: even though they are usually paid commission, this is no guarantee that they will actually do what they say they are going to do, go where they say they are going to go, and see the people they say they are going to see. In short, nearly everything has to be taken on trust.
This social pressure can be a great deal more motivating than money, or indeed anything else: the esprit de corps that makes soldiers go into battle is based on it. Amway is the ultimate company for developing a corporate culture. Founded in the s, Amway uses a direct sales force of over three million people worldwide 12, in Britain alone to sell household cleaning products. Motivational tapes and books are accompanied by regular meetings in which salespeople are given pep talks, often in an almost cultlike atmosphere.
The net result is to build a feeling of being part of something big and important. This contributes to a sense of wanting to help the process along by selling more, by recruiting more salespeople, and by growing the Amway business. Amway also supports a number of ethical and charitable activities, which further builds a corporate culture based on helping others to improve their lives. In turn, Amway salespeople can and do feel proud to say that they are working for Amway.
Help staff to realize the vision. This is a classic wasted opportunity. One answer is to make the brand name controversial—but to do so without getting it banned altogether. Enter French Connection United Kingdom. French Connection was founded in as a fashion chain, and although it did well the brand name did not exactly stand out from the many other slick names retailers were using.
The effect was electric. Being controversial carries risks—but in this case it certainly carried rewards as well. This will help you in defending against banning charges. The main appeal of controversial brand names is to younger people. If the product is itself a complex one, and especially if it is one that might need specialist training to operate, the demonstration needs to be as simple as possible.
Complexity of use is a major barrier to adoption—so it is worth ensuring that the product looks easy to use.
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This may even need to be included as part of your product design. The rest of the keyboard was arranged to minimize the keys jamming in use, even though this slowed down the operation the later DVORAK keyboard is much easier to use. The easier something looks to operate, the more likely it will be adopted. The ultimate convenient marketing approach is, of course, the party plan. The idea Selling consumer goods to people in their own homes goes back a long way. The Tupperware party has been around since , and is the model for all other party plans. The original ethos behind the party plan was that it created a social obligation on the part of those attending to buy something—and at the same time allowed housewives to earn some extra cash for themselves, independently of their husbands.
Times have moved on. Party plan is now the ideal way to sell products that people would not buy in any other way—as Ann Summers has demonstrated. Ann Summers is a company that sells sexy lingerie and sex toys, largely to women: although the company has High Street retail outlets, most women would be reluctant to be seen entering or leaving, so party plan is the obvious answer. Getting close to customers is one thing—bringing customers close to you is even better. Build in plenty of fun to the events—they are supposed to be parties, after all.
This is, of course, one of the basic tenets of relationship marketing—but few companies do it.
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Giving people time to recover from the experience of making a major purchase is also important—following up too quickly can seem over-eager. After a year the customer has become used to the futon being around, and is ready for extras in a way that he or she was not at the time of purchase obviously, or they would have bought the extras at the time of buying the original product. The customers have also had the chance to recover from the initial investment.
You need something of real value to offer the customers.
Calculating the appropriate time gap is a matter of considering the value of the initial purchase, and the type of add-on you are offering. This turns out not to be the case. So why not try to win them back?