Monday, February 25, 2008

Toyota Hybrid Sports vs Tesla

Isn't it interesting that Toyota has launched its Future Toyota Hybrid Sports (FT-HS) concept on Monday claiming it has ultra high performance and ultra low fuel use and emissions. This is before Tesla Motors much awaited launch in March. Is this a pre-emption on Toyota's part to steal a bit of the spotlight from Tesla? You betcha.

The FT-HS is the combination of an electric motor and a 3.5-litre petrol engine. Toyota says its front engine, rear drive layout provides optimum performance, reaching speeds of 100 km/h in around four seconds. Tesla on the other hand is an outright pure electrical beast which can also reach 100km/h in around four seconds, drives to a distance of 394km on a full tank and guzzles 2cents to the mile...not quite guzzling at 2cents. If you look at the slick design of both cars, you will notice how edgy they both look. I would take both if I had a choice ;-)

It would be interesting to see how the new startup of Tesla Motors battles the Goliath of Toyota in a crowded market-place. Toyota with its strong distribution chain and solid reputation for producing vehicles just-in-time at minimal costs. I guess at a price tag of $100,000USD, Tesla have targeted a specific end of the car-lovers market. The same old tests will be applied, how good will I look in this car? how fast is this car? is this car reliable? does it exceed the expectations of its advertisements? is it worth $100,000USD? is there anything else that I can get for this price? how does it compare? I suppose with a sound buzz marketing campaign, a focussed target marketing approach on key early adopters and the formation of solid longterm relationships with its distributors, Tesla should create a new sustainable market for itself.

If I was marketing for Tesla, I would make everyone come to me for the first year or two. I would situate my Tesla sales yard near a racetrack or freeway and build an experience around driving the Tesla just like Ferrari. This would allow people to get a feel for the car and appreciate the experience. I would also build in other peripheral services to the Tesla like a partnership with eco-friendly businesses that would benefit and add value to the lives of Tesla customers. I would create personalised number plates and limit the first lot of Teslas. Each would symbolise the exclusivity of their purchase. I would then create a few memorable experiences for Tesla customers and build the database to stay in touch with them. Finally, I would fly in the boys from BBC's "Top Gear". Now what better exposure than those guys to experience a test-drive.

The future is looking bright for super 'green' sports cars. Imagine a new Formula 1 or Indy format using electric cars.

Dirty Soap?

As the tide of consumerism is turning towards sustainable, organic, local, eco-friendly products and services, a number of small businesses around the world are taking advantage of this trend like Dirty Soap in New Zealand.

Dirty Soap is a business started by a Maori family in the Far North of New Zealand. Like The Body Shop and other businesses using natural products sourced from the furtherest corners of the earth, Dirty Soap is utilising a lot of ingredients sourced from within New Zealand, if not, their own area like the mud from the hot springs of Ngawha or the honey. Combine that with the tropical ingredients of coconut, bananas, mango or coffee granules with sassy names like "man-bomb", "hippy pippy","troppo", or "mango madness", you have a superb product that not only sounds great, looks great, is natural and eco-friendly, it does the job. It cleans and makes you smell fresh and feel good.

One of the great advantages of being in a business like personal cleaning products is that everyone uses soap (well, I hope they do ;-))...and when it's great soap, or bath bombs or shampoo, how can you resist not trying it out? How can you not miss the aromatic waves that hypnotise your sense of smell? No wonder people walk up and smell the exotic aromas of their different types of soaps in their range. Not to mention the bath bombs and other products they sell. This is the 'luxurisation' of staple products at its best and making the 'everyday' appeal of soap an 'exclusive' day.

Wouldn't it be great to see this business expand into hotels in its raw state rather than those 'piffy' little hotel soaps. If you're going to create an experience in a hotel, include one of these types of soaps in your bathrooms. Airlines too would benefit from using these soaps if they haven't already. Air New Zealand use tea tree based soap as hand cleansers. Tea tree oil is known by the Australian Aborigines for their medicinal uses and is widely used now in many products. Dirty Soap could also expand internationally leveraging its brand as an indigenous New Zealand brand. There are a few New Zealand businesses that are recognised internationally like Fisher & Paykal or Eurekster, so there is no reason why Dirty Soap couldn't push their brand further afield. They could start by distributing through stores like The Body Shop. This would be a great way to feel their way in international markets. Another idea would be to approach souvenir stores in New Zealand and sell through their outlets.

Isn't it great to see small businesses like Dirty Soap combining their knowledge of their culture with a little bit of science to produce a great product? I mean, just look at this message bar packed with Adzuki beans which can be used as a massage oil or an after shower body moisturiser. Wunderbar.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Marketing the Obama Way

After watching the USA Democratic Primaries, it is very interesting to note the new channels of marketing that the candidates for the Democrats and Republicans are developing. It is not a question of which channels of marketing they are using but how they are using them and engaging the general population of the USA. What is also noticeable is the 'real time' response each candidate has now with technology. One of the best exponents of the new technologies is Senator Barrack Obama.

Senator Barrack Obama's public relations efforts is going to be one that many political sciences students will analyse in years to come. Not only has Sen. Obama taken the tried and tested paths of "stump speeches", television and radio, he and his team have taken the utilisation of the internet to another level. The Obama campaign have been the most effective at leveraging the power of social networking applications like Facebook, Myspace, Youtube, Twitter better than any candidate from either party which can be reflected in the memberships of people joining his sites. Obama's internet efforts will be one model of success that a lot of other political parties globally will be using as a template for their own campaigns if he fails or succeeds.

One of the most memorable additions to Obama's cause is this music video circulating the internet. This video targets lantino voters and younger latino voters who are more likely to access the web. The video is lively, it's memorable and it's a great hook! Now for all those political marketing buffs who analyse political campaigns, this is one effective way to get your message out to your target market. As they say, if you want to catch the right fish, use the right bait.

Enjoy!...and sing along if you can. Viva!

Freezing Grand Central

Now from time to time, a new buzz marketing effort spreads like wildfire throughout cyberspace and one cannot ignore how COOL the idea is...or more poignantly, how intriguing it would be to actually see it happen with your own eyes or to be a part of such a campaign.

The "freezing of Grand Central" in New York City is one of those ideas. Basically, you round up ten to several hundred people to meet at one place, organise them, tell them the plan and execute. This is flash-mobbing at its best.

By using the internet as a tool of organisation and communication through social networking sites such as Facebook, Myspace, or Bebo, organising rallies of this size can be done quickly and inexpensively by recruiting your friends/family and like-minded individuals to set your idea into action. In a market-place that's full of marketing noise, companies small and large need to take note and understand how to use the applications on the internet as a conduit to pushing their marketing messages out there. Not only is the market-place noisy, it's getting crowded and people are switching off. Just look at the proliferation of TiVo like systems in homes.

So how do you stand out? You develop and record your idea that's going to create some serious buzz. Then you shout and tell every Tom, Dick and Sarah to spread the word for you. Welcome to the world of the networked community. Small businesses with innovative ideas can now spend much much less than their larger competitors on advertising and gain a greater scope in the spread of their message. Scale is no problem because Youtube, DailyMotion, Revver etc take care of that for you.

Take a look at this video. Do you think if you saw several hundred people frozen in your major transport hub make you wonder...what the!?!?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Smart Seat Covers

Now here's a great business idea. You look out into the market place, you see what is being sold like crazy or is going to fly off the shelves then you develop a complementary product/service that you believe people will buy. Companies like Bemz in Sweden which manufactures seat covers specifically for IKEA sofas to the Air Mac envelopes/covers for the new Air Mac laptop.

Bemz designs custom made sofa and armchair covers for the most popular models of IKEA products. It fits their tag line perfectly: "Give your sofa a second chance!" ...and it's not just a second chance, but a third chance, fourth chance etc etc chopping and changing different covers to suit your taste. Bemz also enables people to mix and match designs through their website. This is a powerful idea to allow people to see what would look great in their homes. Look at the difference between the before and after shots above. Moreover, you can wash these covers and keep your sofa protected and looking new.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

5 minutes!

Some time ago, I came across this site called and have watched it grow from it's early beginnings to its large stable of very interesting short videos today. is a DYI or "how to" hub of short video solutions for practical questions. It's very similar to the short Watties ads on TV1 before the news except these videos are 'homemade'. You will find videos on "how to change a diaper", "how to plates for pregnant women" to "how to snowboard".

For many visual learners, is a great way, along with other video sites like YouTube, to visually see how to do things. A lot of times, a manual just won't work as it misses out on the nuances of actually doing the task. Watching video steams is a great alternative to those boring jargon filled manuals. Outside of that, there are just some things you can't describe in a manual like "how to get girls to go out with you".