Tag Archives: engaging

Corporate Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Tuesday June 1st is Corporate Tuesday, according to my chums at the Inspire Foundation. So in order to convince you to part with your lovely waterproof Australian money, I will be wearing a suit for the day.

If you already wear a suit to work you will be aware of Dress Down Fridays, where the normally be-suited wear casuals or jeans and shed some money for a noble cause. Well Corporate Tuesday is both similar and different. Similar in that it is in order to raise funds for a charity, different in that it involves wearing a suit instead of casuals. You probably already know I’m most comfortable with ancient trainers, comfy scruffy jeans and some sort of comedy t-shirt. I don’t even wear ties to interviews! So on 1/6/10 I’ll be wearing:

  • a suit
  • tie
  • polished shoes
  • crisp white shirt
  • starched boxers

BUT: If you want me to wear something more, ahem, embarrassing, (it must still b a “suit”) well that comes down to what you’re willing to part with. There will be no shortage of cameras on the day (no-one at inspire wears suits!). So offer me a challenge and put your money where your mouth is if you want to embarrass me in front of my work colleagues.

The reason I am doing this is because suicide remains one of the leading causes of death among young people aged 15-24, alongside road and traffic accidents, and 75% of mental illness begins before age 25, so helping young people find a way through tough times is one of the best things we can offer the world.

So if you want my attire on Corporate Tuesday to be different to the usual “Whistle and Flute”, please visit my donation page and see what you can offer.

Nicholas Christakis: The hidden influence of social networks

I bet this is not what you thought I’d be posting about Social Networks, here, namely as it is not about digital Social Networks but physical and tangible ones. These people actually touch each other.

Dymocks is certainly no Amazon

That’s what an associate said to me recently, when describing her recent online buying experience with the Australian bookseller. No Dymocks is not Amazon, they could be even better, if they wanted to.

I keep hearing that Australians don’t shop online much, and are afraid to commit to website purchases. I also notice how online sales are often excluded in many companies’ online strategies when updating their sites for the AU market. I have to disagree with both that strategy and that sentiment. Australians spend quite a bit of time online and would shop online, if they could find sites that DON’T make it harder than extracting teeth to do what others have proved is not too difficult to do.

I have to admit, having come from the UK where you can get anything online, including courier-delivered toast (I kid you not!) it was a bit of a shock. More so with the knowledge that the Australian government is generally good at supplying information and services online. So it’s not like online is a scary, new or tentative place for Aussies. I have a friend who buys all his music online as .wav, .aiff files, or other digital formats. Another friend buys her books from Amazon US because even with shipping and duty it is cheaper than local shops, and quicker too. Many other Australians are looking for ways to buy what they need quickly without having to drive or go down to the shops or malls.

Ok, in the UK, the market is larger with a smaller geographic area, but concern for market size and proximal advantages are questions for a business, not for doing business online. If your business idea cannot support a business plan, online or offline has little difference these days. If you are in the business of shifting easy to sell commodities, like books and CDs or other stuff that fits in small boxes, why are you NOT selling online? There is no rational reason to avoid this, particularly when both the shop and the client win from the deal. The shop has less of that expensive floorspace to manage, and wins new custom among the elderly (who are increasingly looking online for their needs), disabled, remote and busy. The customer gets to research, peruse, compare and buy at a time of their choosing, an increasingly important condition in these days of TIVO and online news and video.

Most of my attempts to buy online here in Sydney have been thwarted by sites that are poorly constructed and conceived, and lacking an understanding of user needs. A depressingly large number of brands are not connected to a shop or online outlets. Many mistakenly think that providing a downloadable PDF of their brochure is a good way to market their products. Why are the mobile Telcos still so terrible a online experience? Why do so many otherwise switched on companies fail to see the advantages of a better, or even minimal but available online shop?

Even for traditionally strong products that sell well to online bargain hunters, like electronics and computers, I feel poorly served. It would be great to find a few examples of well constructed, easy to search tech sites that work. Everyone I found was sorely lacking in a crucial quality to help me get through the process without a problem. Either they don’t reflect stock levels, if they disclose them at all, many have risible search features, ignore people who want to by several related items at once, (if you’re buying a computer, you might also want to get a printer, some blank DVDs for archives, and some cabling, for example) and otherwise forget all the rules of salesmanship online. And don’t get me started on ludicrous payment gateways that ask me to read an email and transfer funds with a special code and wait 5 days for the process to complete. yeesh!

That’s why I came here. The market is ripe for people with courage to start considering selling online, in particular small specialist shops in city centres who are happy to supply to remote areas in exchange for a creditcard payment. Looking forward to helping you all buy when You want to buy. Th tide is turning, and I look forward to helping those who really do want to engage with their customers, and give them an experience that they will want to return to and reccommend.


I recently completed a submission tendering for the provision of an Intranet to a well-known housing group last week. There were some interesting points they made in their requirements document, like complying with web standards, meeting accessibility guidelines and engaging the users. It got a bit scary when they mentioned the amount of things they wanted in there, how the clients (their 350+ staff) would be expected to tick off reading items, deal with “alerts” and write, blog, post pictures, review local services and businesses like restaurants, wiki, rate other articles and pieces, etc.

They were going to be asked to do quite a bit, for little apparent reward, using a system that sounded very complicated even to me, who lives in the web and creates complex things. But that was OK, as I am accustomed to potential clients who need a hand to understand what can be delivered in a browser, need to be shown how to accommodate user’s expectation, and need expert advice in getting the balances right.

The scary part was the blog.

Or as they called it, the blog-roll. For those of you outside the UK, I just want to remind you, bog-roll means toilet paper and this was the company’s serious attempt at being light-hearted.

The concept is that visitors would come to a page designed to look like a toilet roll on a toilet roll holder, and the sheets would each contain a teaser to the next entry; which people would “tear off to read”, and then place in the “archive” for future reference.


I guess they thought it was a cute idea, blog > bog, tee hee! In other circumstances this might be funny but there is a crucial point they missed. Staff in organisations like theirs are incredibly reluctant to change and any new thing introduced will naturally met with scepticism and derision. Equating something that would be required reading, that you want people to engage with and respect to some degree, or at least enjoy, well… I was speechless!

I had to reply, but I couldn’t tell them it was weird and if implemented would probably be ridiculed and disrespected. Who would want to write for something that was presented on a toilet roll other than novelty toilet roll makers?

How do you comment on ideas such as these and expect your hopefully better ideas to be considered?