What it takes to stand out in a crowded marketplace

800px-Andre_Rieu_und_Carmen_MonarchaOn a recent weekend I watched the violinist and conductor André Rieu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra performing in his home town of Maastricht, Holland. Andre, with his curly hair swept back and his personal warmth and onstage stories, is a master showman. He has an orchestra of 120 and the dresses of this singers are in brightly coloured taffeta ballgowns.

The show itself is breathtaking if you’re into this kind of music. People find him charming, fascinating and entertaining. He has made classical music accessible and fun rather than stuffy. Continue reading “What it takes to stand out in a crowded marketplace”

Keys to your successful business idea

Fashion Week
Fashion Week (Photo credit: SPIngram)

Here’s a question I keep getting asked from university students who want to come up with new start-up ideas: I have got an idea for a business and what do you think about it?

The problem that I found with each one of these students ideas is that they have not done homework on their market. When people think of an online business, for example, they think that the entire Internet world is the market. This is too big. You need to narrow down your market to an easy identifiable group of people that you can serve.

Just think about how important local markets are. If you’re starting a website, blog or online service for customers in your local area it makes sense because you can meet with them and they can do business with you face-to-face. The further you are from your market the more quickly distance erodes communication and trust. Yes, of course you can bridge these deficiencies – such as providing strong guarantees and refunds for your products or services – but it’s a lot easier to do business with people in your town or city. Continue reading “Keys to your successful business idea”

When the price of fresh fish stinks smoke them

English: Kalk Bay habour, Cape Peninsula, Sout...
Kalk Bay Harbour, Cape Peninsula, South Africa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After the bad weather the South Easter would drop in the night and we’d go out early in the morning to catch snoek off Buffels Bay near Cape Point. On the first day when the wind had blown itself out in False Bay the fish came on the bite.

Running up to Cape Point from the Millar’s Point slipway before sun rise, arriving at the fishing grounds, I still marvel how my old man had this uncanny sixth sense to put the boat right on top of the fish. He’d grown up fishing the lagoon in East London, fished for big-game tuna and marlin off Mozambique in the early 1960s and later pioneered ski boat fishing in False Bay, bagging record giant bluefin tuna in the bay off his small open boat with two 40 horse-power Johnson outboards.

We’d throw our bait lines out and work our leads, pulling in a silvery piece of metal as long and thick as a medium-sized carrot with a short red rubber skirt and 10/0 Mustard hook. We’d pull the lure with a motion that resembled a small fish the size of a pilchard struggling away from a bigger fish … the size of a snoek.

As we sat there on my old man’s ski boat with the sun coming up over the Cape Hangklip mountains, nothing would happen for a while. But we would keep on trying until at last one of us would go “vas” (strike) with a fish. This would signal that his “mombak” (unlucky curse) had been taken off.

Another fisherman on the boat would hook a snoek and soon we’d all be pulling in fish like crazy, breaking their necks, holding them tight under our arms or between our legs, pulling their jaws forward until we heard their necks crack. They were too frisky alive and their big teeth would cut severely leaving your flesh festering for days. Continue reading “When the price of fresh fish stinks smoke them”

Generate publicity without breaking the bank

Recent reports reveal that small business closures are up dramatically. Publicity plays a vital role in gaining the right sort of attention for your business to keep existing customers and win over new ones.

Winning the attention of customers and prospective customers is one of the more important priorities as small businesses fight for survival in these difficult economic times. Publicity helps businesses get noticed without forking out a lot of money. Though the attractive thing about publicity is that you don’t need to invest a lot of marketing cash to get results, you need to invest your time. Doing publicity yourself involves thinking about your strategy, coming up with unusual ideas that fit your business and implementing them with consistent follow-through.