Outgrow the CEO: Leadership at a cost?

This week we have seen Travis Kalanick resign from Uber after being pressured from 25% of shareholders (being the major VCs) with 40% of the voting rights. These investors have taken the drastic measure of pushing the CEO out to protect their investment.


Over 15 rounds of investment Uber has taken on $12Bn for a valuation of roughly $70Bn. Uber has gross bookings of $5Bn and net revenue is and of this Uber retains 25% of the fare. With $70Bn dollars in valuation at stake, these investors have a lot riding on the success of ride sharing. What led to this leadership change?


Being ambitious does not always make friends

In order to grow you need to take customers from somewhere. In doing so someone has to lose a customer, it is called competition. When a business as large as Uber grows as fast as Uber in so many markets (60 countries with car transport, food delivery and even competition for drivers) you are going to bump against a lot of resistance.


The incumbents don’t lead

We do not see the incumbents in any marketplace taking the initiative. It is always the ‘new kid on the block’ that has to bend or break the rules that govern how the game is played. Uber now operates in 82 countries and over 660 cities. They have faced resistance from taxi companies and regulators as they enter each city and there are now a number of examples that show how this tension can be navigated. Each hard fought by both sides, but all lead by Uber.


Set goals that stretch you

We are all about to do up our business plans for next financial year (or at least I hope you are). And in these we will outline hopes for where and how we will acquire new customers, and how many customers we will win. If we wish to lead our business to real change these goals need to be ambitious. Not just 5% here or there, this can be achieved through what you do and how you do it.


Look over the horizon

Goals in excess of 25 or even 50% require you to take your business in whole new directions and develop new ways of doing things. With the tools outlined in last week’s column, these tools exist for many businesses but you have to go looking for them. Uber is not playing to win the car transport market, they are playing to win transport in a driverless vehicle age.


People and culture matter

Much will be written about Travis and his time at the head of one of the world’s most iconic disruptors and now a household name. Much of that media will talk about sexual harassment claims and aggressive management, neither of which can be condoned. But while the style hasn’t been right, the business has done a lot of things well. A strong board, clear goals, strategic influence on policy and focused execution in cities it plays in.


But growth at any price is not the goal. Yes, the company has grown at an outlandish pace. But the reason the CEO has now been changed is that the leadership of people and the culture did not keep pace with the commercial growth, and that is just as important.


As a brand Uber has as many fans as it has detractors and the reaction from industry and the market alike is a great case study for change in all our industries.


Written by Mark Jones, Managing Director

online marketing

Get more customers through online marketing

Potential customers are spending more time than ever on their phones, creating a boom in digital and online marketing. The problem is keeping up with it all. There are too many ways to explain for just one blog, but here’s at least three methods to get more business through online marketing.


Pretty website

People will judge a book based on its cover, despite the saying, and they’ll do the same thing online. They’ll judge whether your site is worth looking at based on initial appearances, and how long it takes to load. The widely-accepted time frame is three seconds. Your page should load in less than half that time Then…BAM, the visitor is faced with a homepage that makes them want to keep clicking.

Your website also must look good on mobile. This isn’t negotiable. After months of rumbling, Google is slowly rolling out its mobile-preferred indexing system. It will start looking at a website’s ranking determined on mobile results over desktop.


It’s MY business

Attracting local customers is a goal that any business has, and Google My Business helps you do just that. This is a free plugin that owners can use to make and update their business profile any time. You can LITERALLY put your business on the map by adding your address. When customers in your town use Google Maps to find a business (or just do a general search) a pin on your address will appear.

My Business includes dashboards for metrics like the number of clicks and phone calls. There’s also a review function so customers can leave a star rating and feedback. Making a Google My Business account will verify you exist and will help you show up on SERPs.

my business


Make connections

Or as we call them: links. When you write blog articles, you can link certain keywords and phrases to another website. Preferably, make a hyperlink to a website with authority (a high trust ranking and millions of visitors). Linking keywords to authority sites using those same words will boost your trust and index ranking.

Don’t forget to make internal links, either. Linking one article or page on your website to another about the same or a similar topic will also put a pep in those Googlebots’ step. They’ll see that your content is relevant and properly linked.

Growing your business with unhappy customers

A couple of weeks ago we spoke about Aussie innovation. Innovation comes about because someone is not happy, and they can see a better solution. So unhappy customers must see a better solution too, right?

Well read on because they do! After working with clients on finding their unhappy customer moments, we are finding that it leads to a blind spot you never knew you had, but unfortunately your customers knew all about it. Great news is you can then get on and fix it.

Find your blind spot

We have used the following thought starters to find blind spots to help our clients’ business’ grow. By making a group of unhappy customers happy, we have made the experience for all of their clients better.

Look for the “Friction”

Look for where customers get stuck, frustrated or they simply miss out on some benefit they expected.

1. STUCK: Customers get “stuck” in all sorts of ways. They are typically informational type issues and great spots where digital innovation can help. Approaches such as Six Sigma can help to identify how to improve perform here.

What to look for in your business; Depends on what customers are looking for. Where is your address to collect my order, when is my order arriving, are you open today or what time do you close, do you have this item in stock? This information has to be on your website, it must work on mobile, has to be correct and it has to be updated at public holidays.

2. FRUSTRATED: Points of frustration are where the promise we made to our clients in our marketing is too far removed from what we delivered. This can be in a product feature or in a service delivery. The promise can be made on the packaging or via our sales staff. And hey, we all over-promise at times, getting sales is hard, but overplaying our hand rarely leads to loyal customers (readers of last week’s column on branding should know this). And I think Aussies especially like to call out any BS they see in excess hype.

What to look for in your business; A great example is fast food photographs on the menu board, compared to what actually comes out! Take away their frustration by lending an ear, provide a feedback point such as a “service quality” email address or via social media to capture this sentiment and listen for how you are going.

3. UNMET EXPECTATIONS: Another common friction point is where we are not meeting customer expectations. The hardest thing with these expectations is they can be set by your competitors, and customers that shop around know about them, and they don’t necessarily tell you, they just disappear.

What to look for;  Failing to deliver fully on service promises can be hard for management to track. Ideally you run constant customer feedback surveys. These can be online or via tear sheets that go into delivered goods and services. The best companies do these for every customer interaction because they want to know and understand the problem for one customer today is a growth opportunity for many customers tomorrow.

Turn those frowns upside down

So start looking for the unhappy customers, not dodging them. Actively listen to their frustrations and as you turn those frowns upside down, you might send your revenue line up as well!

 Next week we will cover off how we consciously innovate around the opportunities we have uncovered.


Mark Jones is managing director of Your Digital Solution.

If you have a question for Mark, email streetsmarts@yourdigitalsolution.com.au

As first published in Townsville Bulletin, February 11, 2016 12:00am – Used with permission.

Choosing keywords in competitive markets

WHERE we find a business operating in a mature segment against well-established competitors in their core (or obvious) keyword phrases, we may need to seek out Long Tail keywords that have higher value, but not necessarily the greatest volumes.

What this means is we begin to look for terms that are more obscure, but still relevant to the topic. The terms we start to look for are not searched for by users thousands of times, they may only be searched for by users 10 times per month. This means that to acquire traffic of any significant volume for the client we need to be managing and targeting a larger number of these keywords phrases.

For example if we are targeting search traffic for the phrase “family lawyer” we might find the cost per click for advertising is anywhere up to $100 or more. Given that almost half the traffic to our sample site bounces (returns to Google by the back button), this makes it almost $200 per user to simply have a look at our website. You can see this is going to get expensive very quickly, and Google loves that!

So instead we need to break down our family law business into segments, and if we find enough of them the ‘sum of these segments’ will provide sufficient volume to meet the level of inquiry we need. These might be Separation, Divorce, Child Custody, etc and within each of these categories we can look to find a myriad of lesser searched phrases, but the cost per click will now be below $10 and heading toward $5.

Another way to get outside the obvious, highly competed-for phrases is to go upstream or downstream. By this you need to think about what the searches might be for a user before or after your product and target them. For example, our Family Lawyer might target “relationship difficulties” or “counselling” prior to Divorce, as people might search for these before they feel they get to the end of the line with their relationship. But our family lawyer can still build some awareness at a far lower cost given lower competition.

By adopting these two approaches we can more economically test our traffic, and we are also confident that more targeted users will be closer to making an inquiry and more likely to convert.

In all SEO work be sure to adjust your site so the landing page (the page your link points to) for the content fits the new targeted phrases, and even your ads and navigation labels will want to be aligned to your target audiences. These all help your site to appeal to you various target segments.

Be sure to keep in mind the balance between core search terms and long tail search terms to ensure that your spread of phrases are giving you the volume of traffic that you require, and these users are converting into actual customers when they do get through to your website.

In this way you will be able to appeal to and capture enough traffic to your site despite significant competition.


Mark Jones is managing director of Your Digital Solution.

If you have a question for Mark, email streetsmarts@yourdigitalsolution.com.au

As first published in Townsville Bulletin, November 12, 2016 12:00am – Used with permission. To view the original article click below: