Are You at Risk of Being “Uberized”?

If you’re like many Business Owners and Leaders you probably feel pretty good about the position you hold in your market… so did the taxi cab companies and drivers before Uber became a reality. Now they are scrambling and trying to find a way to survive… even to the point of trying to get political help in different cities to stay afloat.

Disruption and Commoditization have impacted virtually every industry today. There probably isn’t a single industry that hasn’t been impacted by a disruptive organization entering their market and stealing some of their market share. Uber is an excellent example but there are many others that have been equally disruptive. Companies such as LegalZoom have taken billions of dollars away from attorneys over the past several years. They captured and disrupted a document and transaction-based business and turned it into a commodity by substantially lowering the pricing of document preparation… impacting attorneys all over the country.

Amazon was an early disruptor to the entire book business… taking significant market share away from Barnes and Noble and Borders who were recognized giants in the book industry. And we certainly can’t forget about Blockbuster’s demise when Netflix entered the market. They were the unquestioned dominant leader in video rental and were virtually replaced overnight by an unknown company with a new disruptive business model that matched the needs of customers at substantial savings.

Even though these examples are in completely different industries there is one common thread that runs through all of them… they didn’t believe anyone could disrupt their dominance in their market. While it’s awesome to believe in your product or service, it’s dangerous to think there isn’t someone waiting in the wings to take away your position. Unlike any other time in history, we are now seeing new companies coming into traditional industries from many unrelated areas and establishing a disruptive model and capturing significant market share. This trend is only going to continue now that it has shown massive success over the past few years. So what can you do, as the leader of your business, to either avoid or minimize the impact of this potential disruption?

While commoditization is difficult to combat with products and services over a long period of time, there is at least one alternative that appears to withstand the test of time and delivers differentiation in the market… your CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE.

It is difficult to continually come up with new products and services to satisfy the ravenous appetite customers have today. Just when you think you have the best and leading edge product or newest service, someone comes in and “one-ups” you and takes away the leading spot. While you might remain there for some period of time, it is difficult to remain at the top for extended periods of time. Apple is one of the few that has been successful at this… but it took them many years of living in the shadow of Microsoft and others before they became the dominant leader. Today, Microsoft is in this unenviable position and trying to fight their way back to the top… especially in the race for the Cloud.

But these are behemoth companies… not the SMB market. They can throw billions of dollars at innovation and products and hope they find a winner. The small and mid-sized business (SMB) can’t be this frivolous with their cash and making too many product/service mistakes can wipe out a business before anything comes to fruition. The proven alternative to this madness is to focus on the ONE THING that is completely in their control to design and deliver… their CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE.

Customer Experience has both short and long term advantages. It is something that can be created and implemented within the year but last for many decades to come when implemented properly. And by properly I’m not talking about telling all your employees they need to be nicer to the customer… that never works for the long term… every company can be nice to their customers if they try. This isn’t the answer… this isn’t the differentiator… but it’s on the right track.

Creating a customized CUSTOMER JOURNEY that is built upon a very well defined Customer Experience Process (something we call Customer Experience Mapping) is what allows companies to reap these rewards for many years into the future. Think Disney… they created “the happiest place on earth” and continue to deliver this experience year after year after year. This didn’t happen by holding a meeting and telling all their employees and characters to be nicer to their guests… it happened because they have a very well defined Customer Journey that is built on a foundation of a well-designed and executed Customer Experience.

Nordstrom did the same thing many decades ago. They started selling shoes… then clothing… all at high prices. But they started with a very distinct process inside the organization for delivering an incredible customer experience day in and day out. Zappos followed this same model… sold shoes… one of the ultimate commodities in the clothing industry… and they dominate today. They don’t give discounts and silly things like “one day only” sales (every day)… they simply deliver a remarkable Customer Experience to every customer every day… and their customers love to buy from Zappos. And it has worked out pretty well when you consider they went from zero to over $1 Billion in revenues in less than 10 years and were sold to Amazon for more than a billion dollars. Not a bad model if you ask me.

One way to avoid being COMMODITIZED and losing customers is to design something even new entrants can’t copy… the experience you offer. If your Customer Experience is so incredibly amazing and remarkable… WOW… every single day with every interaction, this creates immediate differentiation and a long tail of success. It is the ultimate weapon against commoditization or even new entrants into a market. For a new disruptive entrant to take away market share they would need to be so much better and cheaper than anything you offered… which is difficult to do today. And for those of you that are saying to yourself right now, “Yea but we’re different, we do a good quality job and treat our customers well so we aren’t at risk,” I would offer you some instant advice… take the blinders off and get real with looking at your business. This is living in a fantasy world… this isn’t looking at your company from the eyes of your customer… they are seeing something very different. And if someone came into your market today and offered a completely different (and awesome) experience to your customers at or below your price they would be gone in a heartbeat.

Achieving long-term dominance doesn’t happen by “being nicer to your customers” and thinking you have created differentiation… you haven’t. Being CUSTOMER OBSESSED and creating a process based CUSTOMER JOURNEY that has a well laid out and documented CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE PROCESS at the heart of it is what will help you avoid being “Uberized.” This strategy gives you differentiation, uniqueness, and a special place in your customers heart and mind… it gives you the “long tail” of success.

I would strongly and passionately encourage you to learn more about why and how this is completely different than what you are probably doing today. If there was ONE THING TO FOCUS ON IN 2017 it would be to create a strategy based around a well-planned Customer Journey which incorporated an incredibly awesome Customer Experience by Mapping out all the experiences your customer will receive when they interact with your business (there are usually over 20 for most companies in the SMB market). If this is of interest and you want to learn more, let’s grab coffee and I can share how some of the best companies in the world have followed this path… for decades… and still dominate in their industries. I think you will find it a fascinating discussion…

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The Future of Android Games, Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality

Mobile gaming has come a very long way since the introduction of crude & simple games like Snake and Pong which were available on early Nokia phones. Mobile processors and graphics are now as powerful as desktop computers were just a few years ago. Older generations still remember lugging around a Game Boy or Game gear and begging their parents for another game. New generations literally have access to 100’s of thousands of games on their mobile device.

In short, mobile gaming has exploded in just a few years time. In the month of July 2016 there were 63.1 million arcade games downloaded & games in the “strategy” category generated $195M revenue. In a recent study over 37% of mobile app users with 30 minutes of free time choose to play games over any other activity. We’ve all seen it and we’ve all done it ourselves, whether its waiting for an appointment or sitting at the airport, we pull out our mobile device and jump into a quick game to kill the time.

So what does all of this mean for the future of android gaming? For starters, the massive amounts of revenue and user interest in android gaming has bolstered continuous innovation and fierce competition in the global marketplace. For example, just 12 months ago, top executives were saying they didn’t see any major benefit to augmented reality. With the release of Pokemon Go and estimates citing as much as $500 million in revenue in just 60 days, I think we can all agree augmented reality is here to stay. Virtual reality is another area that has been picking up steam in recent months. You can now buy virtual reality headsets at local gas stations for a mere $30. Or if you’re on a budget you can purchase Google Cardboard for as little as $7.00. There are still only a limited number of VR enabled games but that number is increasing daily. Not only that, as more and more people experience VR we are sure to see a blockbuster release sooner or later.

Let’s take a look at some real life examples of recent game releases. Dawn of Titans which was recently released on Google Play was in development for over 2 years. This is akin to the development cycle of a mid-level PC game release on Steam. The game features mass controlled troops, world building elements and impressive graphics. A few years ago this would be considered a major release for the Android platform. These days this is just another drop in the massive pond. With over 2.4 million apps and games currently listed on Google Play it’s become harder and harder to stand out. This is actually good news for gamers as developers are working harder and faster to create new innovative titles to attract users.

I firmly believe that both Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) titles are going to gain more traction in 2017. Major developers who can pump out triple A content can’t be left in the dust while indie developers pump out AR and VR enabled games. They will be forced to port existing titles and come up exciting new ways to interact with the mobile devices.

There are many gimmicky games available that utilize the phones microphone, gyroscope, camera and accelerometer. However, these sensors combined with AR and VR could bring a whole new experience to gamers. Imagine walking through a recreated 3D world that represents your neighbourhood, immersed in full virtual reality, and using your phone as a targeting device to defend against waves of zombies. This is already possible with the technology that is available, it just needs to be packaged in a user friendly way that people can enjoy. Combining meticulous graphics with well thought out virtual reality experiences would be impressive indeed. If you’re familiar with PC based virtual reality demo’s you already know how immersive the experience can be. It’s only a matter of time before these same experiences make their way to our mobile devices en masse. And to think, only 30 years ago we were playing Mario on our beloved Nintendo consoles. Let’s not even mention the Virtual Boy that burned your eyes after 2 minutes of playing tennis. Android games and mobile games in general have come a long ways since then and they will continue to push barriers even further in the near future.

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Mercedes Benz GLS : Premier Luxury SUV

American buyers can book their Mercedes-Benz GLS 2017 in December as deliveries initiate from March 2016. As of yet, no information is released regarding Australian and UK markets. Furthermore, fuel efficiency, pricing and performance are still undetermined.

Mercedes-Benz GLS 2017 is in essence a revamped GL-Class model. As per the GL strategy, all Mercedes’s vehicles including crossovers and SUVs initiate with GL-, followed by a letter, denoting the vehicle’s size. S-class includes the largest vehicles in category.

Apart from that, little is revised in GLS model, with trimmed down headlights and bumpers resembling its smaller models and LED lights are normative in Mercedes vehicles. Owners of Mercedes GLS-550 can opt for sports version for an aggressive edge.

Fast Facts

· Price: $64, 500

· Horsepower: 240-550

· Engine: 3.0 V6

Horsepower categorization Mercedes-Benz is all geared up with their engines slated to be incorporated into Mercedes-Benz GLS.

· GLS-350 BlueTEC is powered by V-6 diesel engine with turbo-boost, capable of producing 455 lbs-ft of torque and 240 horsepower.

· GLS-450 is equipped with V-6 turbo-engine, capable of producing 369 lb-ft of torque and 360 horsepower.

· GLS-550 is equipped with V-6 turbo engine, capable of producing 516 lb-ft of torque and 429 horsepower.

· The GLS-63 consists of factory-fitted V-8 turbo engine, producing 560 lb-ft of torque and 550 horsepower.

Engine categorization

The GLS model consists of the following categories:

· The GLS-350d is equipped with a 3-liter 6-cylinder engine.

· The GLS-450 is powered a by gasoline 3-litre 6-cylinder engine

· GLS-550 is equipped with 4.7 liter turbocharged 8-cylinder engine.

Miscellaneous options consist of adaptive damping options along with selectable modes, air suspension and driving modes for personal preferences.

Mercedes-Benz GLS 2017 can be facilitated with Distronic Plus, Mercedes’s own semi-autonomous cruise control system. It will operate at a predetermined speed before the driver takes control of the vehicle.

Interior

Mercedes-Benz has included subtle changes in its GL-class, updating various features from the 2013 version. The SUV class is now termed as GLS, depending upon the model of Mercedes in question. Mercedes-Benz GLS has an updated infotainment system, using trim materials and redesigned dashboard.

Mercedes GL class has been revamped for 21st century stylistic aesthetics. The infotainment screen has been redesigned into a floating tablet appearance, redefining Mercedes-Benz interiors. Furthermore, center console, instrumental panel and 3-spoke steering wheel have been redesigned. GLS models are normative with 3-rows of seats. In tech section, GLS model is remodeled with ample options. Normative tech utilities include myriad of safety systems, such as collision warning, automatic braking system and attention assistance for preventing drowsiness during driving. In case of an emergency braking, the vehicle will apply extra pressure.

Added tech galore

At an extended price, the GLS model can be bumped with impressive tech options. For an extra price, blind spot monitoring, cross-traffic detection and active lane-keep assist can be incorporated. With Active Curve System, the body rolling during taking sharp corners is reduced. Magic Vision Control facilitates spray free cleaning of windshield.

Pros

· Optimum for long-drive

· Attention-grabbing interior

· Comfortable seating

Cons

· Large size is a hindrance in driving

· Added tech can be expensive

· Driving cost is high

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4 Content Marketing Trends for Business Owners

As we approach 2017, it’s interesting to think about where we’re headed in the coming year when it comes to marketing our business.

All business owners want to stay on top of their game by being prepared for what’s ahead but in today’s fast-changing world, what does that look like?

Below are some content marketing trends you’ll want to prepare for when marketing your business in the coming year:

1) Incorporate More Social Media Graphics, Infographics, Visuals and Videos. Since your followers are 80 percent more likely to read your content if you use coloured visuals, this area needs to be built up more across your social media channels.

The popularity of visual content will only increase, so you must be prepared. Using Facebook live is still a hot commodity so be sure to dive into that opportunity too!

2) Build a Team. 60 percent of marketers in one survey said content creation was their biggest challenge last year.

To overcome this obstacle, get a team of people to help make content development and publishing easy. This includes having a good writer and social media specialist.
3) Tap Into Influencers. 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations where only 33% trust ads.

Consumers have begun to tune out traditional ads and increasingly connect to their social networks to guide their buying decisions. That’s why connecting with influencers is so important.

What is an influencer? “Influencers are people with significant networks (followers, readers, etc.) who can speak to a broad range of products and services with the ability to sway opinions in their favor.” – Jess Estrada.

Identify influencers to reach out to in your industry. Follow them on social media and see where you can strike up a conversation.

4) Drive Content Marketing Leads into a Funnel. High value content is one thing, but if you don’t build in a strategy that continues building rapport with prospects in the right way, you are leaving money on the table.

Content Marketing is a highly effective way to segment your audience and send them targeted follow-ups and offers, instead of adding them to your main email list.

Creating an Effective Content Marketing Plan for 2017

One of the biggest mistakes I have seen businesses make is they jump into content marketing without a strategy. While trying to appeal to their target market, they slap together a couple of eBooks and free offerings and hope it will be enough to drive sales.

The first step to making content marketing really work for you is to have a solid, smart content marketing plan in place.

Make sure you outline the following essentials in your content marketing plan:

Understand Who You Are Marketing to. Before starting any kind of marketing strategy, it’s vital you understand who your ideal target market is. There’s no point in investing your time and money into marketing when you don’t have a clear understanding of who you want to buy from you.

A Comprehensive Review of Past Efforts. Review your past content marketing efforts and results from 2016. This helps you to see what was most effective, what wasn’t, and develop a plan to improve for next year.

Set Goals and Benchmarks to Determine Future Campaign Success. Having a clear understanding of what you want to accomplish and what that will look like is important.

Develop Content Ideas that Align with Sales Goals. Here’s some example sales goals:

o Boost sales of Mega Fit Bootcamp by 25%.

o Get 50 new leads a month into our sales funnel.

o Create an eBook on Sales Tips for People Who Hate to Sell to drive leads to the funnel.

Plan a Content Marketing Calendar with Dates and Deadlines. Create an editorial calendar that clearly lays out your dates and deadlines so you can easily prioritize your efforts. This eliminates the “what do I write” problem.

It also makes it much easier to work ahead on content and delegate to team members.

I hope you’d enjoyed these highlights, stats, and facts to help you prepare for content marketing in the coming year.

I’m curious: What changes do you plan to make to your social media strategy in 2017?

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Real Talk on Overcoming Addictions

There comes a point in your life when you say “enough!” The fight within becomes so unbearable that you say.” No more, that’s it I’ve had it.” You’re done being a victim. A quick shift in consciousness appears. You hit rock bottom.. There is no way but up. You realize that you have to look yourself in the mirror and get real with yourself and become the person you know that you can become. Decide now and realize that “one day” is an illusion, “one day” never comes. Do the things that need to be done, now. The drugs, the sex, the feeling sorry for yourself, the hypocrisy, the porn, the lying, the whining and complaining needs to become a thing of the past.

Sometimes the truth hurts and sometimes the truth about yourself needs to be revealed. Lying to yourself and waiting on something outside yourself to save you ain’t gonna happen. You save you. Only the individual knows his or her truth. The doubts and fears are brought to the surface. We all know what we have to do in order to save ourselves. We have to go to the place that we don’t want to go. We have to get uncomfortable. The shift in thought becomes freedom. Look within and find the source of your misery. Face that demon and overcome it. We can be shown the way to end suffering, but it’s up to us to make the first step. We have to man up. Start with the small things and then gradually do bigger things. Start being grateful for the things you have now. Act the part or fake it till you make it and become liberated. There are people in the world who have so little and they are so happy. Happiness is a state of mind. Act happy, act free, become an actor. Don’t tell others your intentions either. Shut your mouth and move in the direction of right thought and actions. There are people in the world with every luxury that the world provides and they are miserable as hell. Happiness is not in material objects, otherwise those with the most wealth and stuff would be the happiest.

The kingdom of heaven is of no use if we think we can bring our vices with us. Heaven is a mindset. The old self, thoughts and habits associated with that old self has got to go. A new self has to be created. It can begin with a creation of a new attitude, a new way of seeing things and deciding to let go of things that don’t serve us any longer. Life is a journey and we all have obstacles to overcome. Dwelling on the past is useless. Leave the past in the past where it belongs.

Winston Churchill was the prime minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955 and he has a famous quote that reads, “If you are going through hell, keep going.” Don’t stop in hell and extend your visit, move on. Hell is a passing phase and for those who know where the keys to heaven are can enter. Heaven and hell are states of mind. Get tired, get fed up and do the things necessary to leave hell and enter heaven. Pray, meditate, read books, listen to motivational talk and fight to overcome temptation with everything you have. Change the way you think now. Stop listening to useless opinions, negative commentary from so-called experts. Resist being distracted by things that have nothing to do with the improvement of your life.

Learn from your mistakes and look forward to the future you want. Leave the past in the past. Get out of your comfort zone and get talked about. People gonna talk about you anyway, they’re talking about you now. Realize that not everyone will like you. Don’t take it personal. Not everyone like God, so why would you be any different? It’s almost 2017 and it’s time out for playing.

Technology is available almost everyone on earth. If you live in an industrialized nation, then there are no excuses if you want help for your addictions or destructive habits. The internet is full of free information and videos on practically any subject. YouTube is a great source for getting help in overcoming addiction. There are people from all over the world that will give free advice and tips. Just as technology can be used for bad, technology can also be used for good. I love technology, because it has helped me in overcoming a very bad addiction. I am free now. It took hard work, praying, meditating, counseling, books, videos and going deep within. Start with noticing the silent self talk within. Be aware of the voice in your head and watch it. The voice has always been there, notice the voice and separate yourself from that voice. Look at the voice from a distance. Silence yourself and resist falling asleep. Silence your electronic devices and spend time alone and watch your thoughts. You will start to think about what you are thinking about. Realization of the false self shows itself. Next, you will see the addict, the complainer, and that false self for what it is. A new way of seeing is revealed. If you have ever said,”what was I thinking?” That realization is a glimpse into consciousness awakening.

Going through hell can be a great teacher. Decide now and change your mind. Quit playing and realize that life is passing regardless. Get fed up and make the change for a better life now. Do what you know you should do. Free your mind now.

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