Happy Easter - already - I guess?

“My gut feeling is that the marketing, promotions and sale prices will start earlier than ever this year particularly with the disruption to retail by the snow days.  In fact we could well see price movement and deals start to appear from this week.” - Dean Horn, Monday 19th March 2018.

Don’t say I didn’t tell you so - it looks like our earliest Easter ever and some deals have started to land around and about in some of the key players.  It’s the usual stuff with big reductions on some key lines of large screen TVs, laptops and smart home tech.

The great news is that there has been significant movement on some of my absolute favourites in the 2017/2018 calendar so look out for some cracking prices on OLED particularly.

I’ve handily compiled a chart of my absolute favourite products on the website at www.gadgetclub.co.uk which you can access via the navigation bar.  The site is also fully functioning now for all payment options - so be careful!

You’ll probably have noticed that my presentation of products is not like anything you may have seen before.  My goal has always been to leave my customers with a unique buying experience that lives on long after the initial purchase.  A purchase can be whatever you want it to be and is completely customisable to the customer, whether that is in products, complimentary add ons, time and service.

The “Top Charts” are my absolute top recommendations of what I think would be a superb solution for most customers, where you can sit back and let everything happen.  These products are assured to deliver quality and performance so study them carefully.  This work is based on my own testing and experience as well as many on-line and off-line reviews.

This work is underpinned by my “Gadget Club Magic Touch Guarantee” which means the jobs will be completed to your total specification and satisfaction every time.  If it’s not it’ll be fixed - you can be sure of that.

If they are not for you and you want to build it from the ground up you can do this in the “tailor it” section.  Nothing is too much trouble or impossible.

So website, free phone number and card machine in hand, Easter starts here.  I’ll continue to upload my recommendations and make them available for you and even if you don’t shop with Gadget Club this time please feel free to use the website for great product suggestions.

Happy Easter - already - I guess?

Easter Sale guidance from Gadget Club

Easter is around the corner, just two weeks away.  This is traditionally one of the better times to hunt for a bargain in the electrical market and Gadget Club is here to guide you through the process.  I'll point you in the right direction to a fantastic new purchase.

So if you’re looking for a new television, laptop or tablet then saddle up, this could be the time for you.  I’ll be spending the next two weeks doing all the preparation for you, giving you the low down on what type of deals you can expect, hints and tips on what products to look out for and making plenty of recommendations.

My gut feeling is that the marketing, promotions and sale prices will start earlier than ever this year particularly with the disruption to retail by the snow days.  In fact we could well see price movement and deals start to appear from this week.

March, April, May sees a scramble to reduce stock holding and make every penny count before the end of the financial year.  This can pave the way for some real bargains, but also mixed in are some bum deals left over from Christmas that didn’t sell then and probably shouldn’t sell now.

I’m here and ready to help provide great advice this Easter.  In my opinion a great purchase is a well built, quality product that will stand the test of time and deliver an excellent result at a competitive price.  I’m not seduced by Too Good To Be True exclusives and neither should you be.

So it’s probably the week to start planning for your purchase and thinking carefully about ‘measure twice, buy once’ and the budget you want to commit to your next purchase.

If you want a helping hand through the process book a FREE in home consultation and I’ll go through all the right products for you and what the perfect installation looks like.  You can email me directly or go to www.gadgetclub.co.uk/free.

If your going it alone, follow my guides and tips over the next two weeks to make sure you get it right first time. 

Today's updates - should be yours

Most gadgets and technology require software or an operating system to talk to the hardware and give it instructions to function.  Software also enables the user to interact with a device and control it.  When a product is initially launched it will have been comprehensively planned, programmed and tested to work as the inventor, company or organisation intended.

However, it is only when a product is in the public domain that the process of development can begin proper.  Live feedback from customers on user issues, security threats, quirks, bugs, problems and suggested improvements can be collated.  Programmers can then use this information to adapt the code and evolve the product.  

Support is generally provided by a team for the life cycle of a product and takes the form of updates pushed to the user via the internet.

Updates are really important because:

  1. They solve problems with the software.  No software is perfect and runs smoothly all of the time;
  2. They can solve security holes in the software. These holes, in theory, need to be plugged from allowing unwanted visitors to get into your devices to access personal data;
  3. They provide new features and benefits to make the products you use smarter, with better functionality.

A failure to keep on top of updates can mean your devices aren’t current, are not performing at the optimum level and may also be at risk of threats.  There are some simple actions to put this right:

  1. Start with your mobile phone, computer, tablet and television.  These are almost certainly connected to the internet and will have the ability to update.  Find the option to update in your system settings and complete;
  2. On the same devices think about applications or Apps.  These will require updating separately from the main operating system.  This action will be carried out in the App store or App area on the device;
  3. Now think about other devices such as games consoles, watches, blu ray players, TV boxes, smart-tech, MP3 players, TV sticks, cameras and speakers.  It may be a bit trickier to find the option to update on the device itself.  If it isn’t in the system settings menu, then try through an App;
  4. Take advantage of any settings that allow for automatic updates.  You won’t have to remember to do it this way;
  5. Put a date in your calendar each month to check all your products for updates and make it happen.

Software updates will keep your devices current, faster, fresher and safer for longer and is essential for care and protection of your products.

Review your gadgets and tech today - you may be surprised.

Shepley Magazine Feature

The good people of Shepley are restarting the village magazine and being born and raised there, it is going to be a real pleasure to be involved.  There aren't many people I don't know in some capacity in the village and I hope they make the link between my history living there and what I can do to help them in 2018.  The magazine will be distributed to every household three times a year.

Below is a draft of the article I've submitted which is a collaboration of content produced in various articles already.  It may whet the appetite for more information:

SHOPPING FOR A NEW SMART TV WITH GADGET CLUB

Gadgets and technology can be scary and complicated at times.  Particularly when you are looking to modernise your home products and systems.  Customers often select or are sold unsuitable, incompatible or incorrect products for their needs which can be frustrating and expensive.

Buying a new television is daunting and it pays to get it right first time.  If you are thinking about taking your first steps into the world of smart TV, here’s a handy starter guide:

WHAT SIZE TV SHOULD I BUY?

1.     Measure the distance in inches from where you want the TV to be, to where the majority will sit (if appropriate you can make an arc as if drawing with a compass to take in other armchair locations);

2.     Divide this measurement by 2 to get an approximate ideal screen size;

3.     If the measurement falls between two TV dimensions round UP to the next available screen size.

This will keep you pretty close to the dimensions that is right for you - the TV definitely won’t be too small, but it may also save you a few pounds in avoiding the sell up size.  

WHAT IS 4K AND DO I NEED IT?

A pixel is the smallest unit of a digital image or graphic that can be displayed and represented on a display.  Resolution is the image quality displayed on a screen.

For shopping purposes, 4K, also known as Ultra HD (High Definition), or UHD, refers to a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels. That’s four times the 1,920 x 1,080 pixels found in an original full HD TV.  More pixels mean a clearer, better defined, more life-like picture.  A common description is as if looking through a window rather than watching TV.  Here’s what you need to know:

1.     4K, Ultra HD or UHD are the same thing for the purposes of buying a television;

2.     You will see an improved picture regardless of the type of TV you watch;

3.     However, for a full 4K experience you will need either a TV box subscription service with add-ons;

4.     Or a fast internet connection with a streaming service like Netflix or Amazon;

5.     Any new 4K boxes need connecting with a HDMI 2.0 cable.

WHAT IS A SMART TV?

A smart TV is an internet-connected television that offers a range of online features, such as on-demand content from apps like BBC iPlayer and 4OD, access to streaming services like Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime video.  In smart TV, the software is pre-loaded, and your television will have a user interface that is more like a computer than an old style TV guide.  A smart TV has 5 main functions:

1.     Access to TV content streamed via the internet;

2.     Freedom to watch programmes as and when you choose;

3.     To surf the internet on your TV;

4.     To use Apps like you would your smart phone;

5.     Plug in USB or storage devices to show movies and photos or access content stored in the            cloud.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1.     A reasonably fast broadband connection;

2.     An unlimited data broadband package;

3.     A TV licence for BBC iPlayer.

The good news is if your TV is a little older, 4K and Smart are standard on most new sets.  This means you are sure to see a better picture and more features than ever before.  Smart TVs vary significantly in quality dependant on the type of screen, lighting (HDR) and connectivity so it’s worth consulting reviews or an expert to be sure you are getting the right TV for you at the right price.  If you found this introduction useful you can see the full articles at www.gadgetclub.co.uk/blog.

Fingers crossed the good people of Shepley think about customer service and about shopping locally!

Barry Sheene 7

Tonight I am heading to The Rising Sun, Norristhorpe to watch the unveiling of RSRacing Team’s SuperBikes for the imminent season ahead. 

Now this is sport I know nothing about and frankly the thought of even sitting on one of these monsters scares me to death.  Heaven knows the skill and mental strength required to actually throw these bikes around corners at break neck speed in a competitive environment.  It must be exhilarating.

I’m sure tonight there will be many stories shared of success and triumph; but also near misses, crashes and injuries as an obvious pitfall of the sport!

I don’t know much about it so I’ll need to spend a few hours swatting up today to get ‘up to speed’.

The reason I’m mixing with the petrol heads is one of my first customers, Andrew Meachen has kindly provided the opportunity for the world famous Gadget Club logo to make it’s debut on his bike for the 2018 season.  Thanks Andrew it’s really appreciated!

One thing is for sure the sport lends itself brilliantly to photo and video opportunities.  A bike such as this is certainly technology in action in it’s own way.  It feels like a good fit.

So here’s to a successful racing season - from a distance! 

HDR made easy?

HDR is important in the development of 4K TVs and is a working trend moving towards brighter, more detailed, higher contrast pictures from your TV.

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range and is measured in a unit called ‘nits’.  Zero nits is the blackest black and 1000 nits and above is brilliant white.

Although this is a technical way to start the article, it is critical to understand when considering choosing a TV.  Luckily the boffins have done the work for us and provided a standard to follow:

Ultra HD Premium Logo

There are 3 things a TV must do to earn the UHD Premium Logo:

  1. Receive and process 10-bit colour depth;

  2. Display 90% of P3 colours;

  3. Meet a black and brightness level specification (in nits).

This is the best way of identifying a premium performance 4K TV set that will truly support HDR content.  The logo is mainly found on:

  1. OLED TVs;

  2. Samsung QLED Quantum Dot Technology TVs.

Here is the tricky bit.  Any TV that doesn’t earn the logo can still be advertised as HDR.  This is a technicality manufacturers are using to get around the system and is I think is extremely misleading.  In short, if the TV is capable of reading the HDR content it can be classed as a HDR TV; even though it can't necessarily do anything much with the information.  For now, for simplicity it is best to say no logo, no true HDR.

Premium HDR content can be watched from two main sources:

  1. Ultra HD blu ray players;

  2. Streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime.

 

So my tips when looking to buy a new 4K TV in regards to HDR:

  1. The Ultra HD Premium logo is a sure sign of top quality.  However just because a TV doesn’t carry it doesn’t make it a poor set.  It just means you won’t get the full HDR experience. Many other factors play a part in picture quality so this doesn’t make or break the deal;

  2. If you are going for a true HDR TV carrying the logo, be sure to compare the QLED and OLED ranges.  The QLEDs will be brighter but the OLEDs will have better blacks. Just choose the one that you prefer;

  3. If you are unlikely to stream TV content or buy a UHD blu ray player then it may not be worth spending the extra money required for a TV that carries the logo.  You just might not see the true benefits.

HDR is an important development of 4K TVs and is adding a new layer of brilliance to TV capability.  The question is whether it is worth paying for?

Making the connections - the basics

A critical part of buying a new TV is understanding your existing set up and how it will connect to your new set.  You will also want to consider what devices you may want to replace and what you may connect in the future.

There are three main areas to consider:

  1. Where does my TV source come from?
  2. Will I use a separate sound system?
  3. What other devices will connect to my TV?

TVs with Built-in Freeview

Freeview is the only accredited and confirmed Free-to-air digital terrestrial television service in the United Kingdom.  Pretty much every TV will have a Freeview tuner built in.  If you have a co-ax cable running from a TV aerial, you are good to go.

TVs with Built-in Freesat

Many homes have a satellite dish installed from a previous SKY subscription, or if a TV aerial signal is weak.  An F-plug cable running from a dish will deliver a great picture and free TV channels without a monthly subscription.  Only selected models will have the capability to plug straight into a Freesat tuner, so check models carefully if you receive your TV from a satellite dish.

TVs with Built-in Youview

This is similar to Freeview, but will provide the added bonus of mixing in some internet content directly into your TV guide, providing a hybrid system.  This system will require a TV aerial set up (the same as Freeview) and a monthly internet subscription.  Any smart TV will have an ethernet connection and/or Wi-Fi to connect to your broadband provider.

Will I need a separate sound system?

Sound bars and home theatre kits are selling well due to flat panel TVs delivering inadequate sound capabilities.  Tiny built in speakers often pointing in the wrong direction don’t make for the best audio experience.

If you are considering this option it’s worth knowing the three main ways to connect and making sure you have flexibility and compatibility when making your purchase:

1. Analog outputs

These will be in the form of a 3.5mm jack plug (like a headphone connector) or red and white RCA connectors.

2. Digital optical audio outputs

These take the form of a square peg and the port has a distinct red light when powered on.  These connections are excellent for quality sound and work well with 5:1 or 7:1 surround sound.

3. HDMI Audio Return Channel (ARC)

If you are buying a new TV and sound bar I would recommend trying to find products that will support this connectivity.  The sound quality again will be excellent, with the added feature of being able to simplify your set up.  Your sound system will fire up when you turn the TV on too, limiting the requirement for extra remote controls all the time.

Connecting other devices (usually HDMI)

HDMI cables will be the primary connector for any modern devices that you have or may want to own in the future so make sure any TV you buy has plenty.  I suggest three at an absolute minimum.  This will include games consoles, blu ray players and 4K TV boxes (use HDMI 2.0 cables for these).  You may still find SCART or COMPONENT connections for old DVD or TV boxes but this is not certain.  If you have older boxes this may be the time to think about their replacement at the same time as your TV as you are likely to be disappointed with the quality results from antiquated equipment.

Make a clear road map of existing and new products you are considering BEFORE thinking about your TV purchase.  This will save you a lot of pain down the line if you find that the TV you have bought can't accommodate your set up, or you are have to make two and three trips to the store looking for expensive adapters, replacement boxes or cables.

Types of TV screen - the basics

There are effectively two types of TVs on the market:

  1. LED LCD
  2. OLED

Unless you are considering a high end, premium purchase the chances are that you will be buying a LED LCD TV.

LED LCD screens

An LED TV is just a specific type of LCD TV that is backlit.  So these days the terms are interchangeable.  These TV sets use light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to illuminate the LCD screen and are usually extremely thin.

Backlighting

There are two main ways for LED TVs to illuminate the screen.

1. Full-array backlighting

LEDs stretch across the back of the LCD screen with set zones that can be lit or dimmed.  This is referred to as ‘local dimming’.  This is a great feature to enable a TV to recreate scenes more accurately.

2. Edge lighting

As the name implies, edge-lit TVs have LEDs along edges of a screen in different configurations.  There are some drawbacks to edge lighting when compared to full array backlighting.  Fewer LEDs are used, which in turn affects brightness and contrast.  

Therefore cheaper sets tend to be edge lit, although this isn't always the case.

OLED screens

OLEDs are a premium TV experience that have significantly more lighting zones than an LED LCD TV.  Instead of a backlight there is a layer of organic LEDs where each individual pixel can be controlled.  This produces stunning results in brightness and contrast.

The images are not as bright as LCD, but in my opinion are more realistic.  Expect to pay a high price for these TV sets.

Here are my 4 tips to think about when shopping for a new TV:

  1. Take your time and take a good look at the picture quality, there can be marked differences in various models.
  2. Check how dark the TV screen is switched off.  A TV cannot produce a blacker result than the screen itself, so if it is grey or green this will be a low quality screen.
  3. When the TV is on check to see whether the lighting is even across the whole picture.  Poor quality will be demonstrated by light bleeding from the edges or spotlighting in certain sections of the screen.
  4. Ask about backlighting and whether a TV has local dimming.  This is a great way to sort out the potential quality of a TV you are thinking about buying.  You can check this yourself in the TV picture settings.

Please don’t be seduced by curved screen TVs.  They add nothing to the viewing experience and cost more for no value adding reasons.  These are likely to be phased out over time.

Simple smart TV - the basics

A smart TV is an internet-connected television that offers a range of online features, such as on-demand content from apps like BBC iPlayer and 4OD, access to streaming services like Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime video.

In smart TVs, the software is pre-loaded and your television will have a user interface that is more like a computer than an old style TV guide.

A smart TV has 5 main functions:

  1. Access to TV content streamed via the internet;
  2. Freedom to watch programmes as and when you choose;
  3. To surf the internet on your TV;
  4. To use Apps like you would your smart phone;
  5. Plug in USB or storage devices to show movies and photos or access content stored in the cloud.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. A reasonably fast broadband connection;
  2. An unlimited data broadband package;
  3. A TV licence for BBC iPlayer.

There aren’t many TVs that aren’t smart these days so rather than should I or shouldn’t I, the choice is really which one:

1. Samsung Tizen

Easy to use and easy to get around this is a solid smart TV;

2. LG Web OS

A customisable launcher bar at the bottom makes this easy and quick to use and some higher models come with a ‘magic’ remote that works like a mouse pointer.  A fun walk through of set up makes the whole process reasonably painless.

3. Sony Android TV (powered by Google)

Not as easy to use as Samsung or LG but lots of potential for apps outside of TV functionality.  YouView guide works well for catch up TV content.

4. Panasonic (powered by Firefox)

Freeview Play allows you to scroll back over the guide to previous days to watch shows you may have missed.  A little clunky to use compared to Samsung and LG.

Choosing the right platform is worth taking time.  Getting your hands on the remote and seeing which you like is a good idea.  However, it shouldn’t make or break your buying decision over the quality of the picture in my opinion.

Many never use smart functionality due to being unsure of how to install it and use it.  I hope you will be presently surprised how this functionality can really free up your viewing and provide access to new shows when YOU want it.

New Year's Resolution (4k)

A pixel is the smallest unit of a digital image or graphic that can be displayed and represented on a display.

Resolution is the image quality displayed on a screen.

For shopping purposes, 4K, also known as Ultra HD (High Definition), or UHD, refers to a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels. That’s four times the 1,920 x 1,080 pixels found in an original full HD TV. 

More pixels means a clearer, better defined, more life-like picture.  A common description is as if looking through a window rather than watching TV.

TV delivered through your aerial or satellite box is transmitted in a lower resolution.  Your new UHD TV will use a computer chip to use the 4K pixel count to improve the picture.  So buying a 4K TV will almost definitely improve your viewing.

For the full UHD experience you will need a TV provider that sends content in 4K.  The most important here are Netflix and Amazon.  These are provided via an internet connection.

It’s worth considering that you will need a minimum of 15 mbps internet speed (with no other computers, tablets, phones using at the same time), otherwise the transmission will drop to a lower resolution.  To be absolutely sure a fibre internet service is recommended. 

BT has sports content and the SkyQ 2TB box has sports, movies and other content available.  These boxes need connecting to the TV with a HDMI 2.0 cable for best results. 

All of these services require a subscription payment of some kind.

So your simple technical guide for 4K:

  1. 4K, Ultra HD or UHD are the same for the purposes of buying a television;
  2. You will see an improved picture regardless of the type of TV you watch;
  3. However, for a full 4K experience you will need either a TV box subscription service with add ons;
  4. Or a fast internet connection with a streaming service like Netflix or Amazon;
  5. Any new 4K boxes need connecting with a HDMI 2.0 cable.

Make your resolution a new one this year.

Measure twice, buy once

What TV size should I buy?

TVs are measured diagonally, one corner to the opposite corner.    Consider whether you are placing the TV on a stand or wall mounting as the extra space behind furniture may reduce the ideal screen size for you.

You can sit CLOSER to a 4K (Ultra High Definition) picture than a 1080p (High Definition) image without losing image quality.  Remember not much standard TV is transmitted in true 4K so what content you watch and from where may dictate the size of the screen you buy.

There are more formulas than I care to mention for calculating TV size versus distance.  My problem with these formulas is in most rooms the viewing span will vary for different customers in different seating arrangements.  One size definitely doesn’t fit all.

So in the spirit of keeping technology shopping simple:

  1. Measure the distance in inches from where you want the TV to be, to where the majority will sit (if appropriate you can make an arc as if drawing with a compass to take in other armchair locations);
  2. Divide this measurement by 2 to get an approximate ideal screen size;
  3. If the measurement falls between two TV dimensions round UP to the next available screen size.

This will keep you pretty close to the dimensions that is right for you - the TV definitely won’t be too small, but it may also save you a few pounds avoiding the sell up size.  

Measure twice, buy once.

Smart safety first

I’m looking forward this week to working with a new customer that is going all in, top to bottom on a fully functional smart home.  When provided with a blank canvas; ability to paint a picture to showcase technology, you really get an idea of how far we have come and what is available right now.  Black Mirror is here.

It doesn’t mean it is all good or all practical though, so this is definitely a project that requires balance.  There are four parts to the project I’m thinking of; security, ecological, lifestyle and value.

Improving our home functionality experience and in turn making the world and our environment a better place sounds like a good deal to me.  Achieving this and over time recouping the costs of the outlay (and more) is the holy grail.  

We will do it.

The serious business comes in contemplating whether high tech smart locks, CCTV cameras, doorbells and mechanisms can collectively replace our traditional home security systems.  By replace I mean IMPROVE the safety of the home by a considerable space without any discernible potential breaches.  No use having lots of cool stuff if we are ultimately less secure; hacked at the drop of a hat.  Definitely a case of Smart safety first.

 

Facebook: Origins

In the last few weeks on-line marketers have been scrambling, since Facebook announced imminent major changes to it’s algorithms.  

I’m a marketing novice so I’ll try to put the developments in layman’s terms.  Mr Zuckerberg is not so charmed with the turn Facebook has taken.  He feels it is being taken over by advertisements, is over promotional and could even be responsible for an unhappy society (which sounded ‘evil overlord’ to me in the statement).

His solution is to change the program and return your news feed to the original friends and family feel you may remember back in the day.  Following research and feedback from hundreds of thousands of users, a new design has been signed off and will appear later this year.  

The difference you will see is all your groups and business pages displayed on a separate tab which means you will have more control over the promotional content you want to see.  

This is a big deal.

The advertisements in your news feed don’t appear there by accident, they are pumped in by extravagant marketing budgets.  You may not know this but when a business places an advertisement on Facebook the amount of filters to reach a target audience are phenomenal.  From your income right through to what type of wine you prefer to drink.  Big Brother is watching.   

Money talks and whoever shouts loudest usually comes out on top.  Not anymore (apparently) as Zuckerberg leaves millions (billions?) of revenue on the table in pursuit of his original Facebook Utopia.

Of course, there are many formulas already doing the rounds to beat the algorithm and cheat the system.  

If Zuckerberg is true to his word these efforts should prove to be futile.  The way to Facebook users hearts will be through creating meaningful content that encourages interaction and discussion.  If you build it they will come.

To build great content you will need an interesting product or service.  This is a massive opportunity for the little guy, where innovation and thinking differently can really shine.

Expect a raft of Hollywood high production mini stories, movies from the big guns with a more abstract feel.  Hopefully some smash it and transform advertising for the better, but I get the feeling there could be some major car crashes.

A paradigm shift is on the cards.  Let’s hope Zuckerberg delivers on his promise and doesn’t get cold feet the next time he checks his bank balance.

Monkey minds

This afternoon I will be visiting my friends at the Square Peg community group in Holmbridge, near Holmfirth.  The meeting will play host to a mindfulness session helping the members learn the practice of sitting, then quietening their 'monkey minds'.

Sitting in peace with this group for an hour or two sounds like a splendid way to spend the afternoon.  Sitting with MY monkey mind for the duration may not be quite so welcoming!

Will you show up this week?

One of the ways I am hoping to lead my business forward is by creating structure to my week, so my customers know exactly when and where I am expected to ’Show Up’.

It has been interesting to watch my following and interest steadily grow; particularly around my posts and content that appear at the same time every day or week.  It is becoming clear that people love rhythm and routines and the dependability of a product or service.

Brand consistency is key.  I have tested and played around with content and a have good idea what my customers want.  The next stage is to deliver it with military precision WHEN and HOW they want it.

A long term commitment to adding value through content creation is a big thing and should be considered carefully.  Firstly, it has to be of the highest quality.  If you expect your followers to clock in to see your work - it had better be good.

Secondly, the first day you decide not to ‘Show Up’ the authenticity and trust is broken with your followers.  Life and work cannot get in way and this is an appointment that simply cannot be broken.  

Here is the plan:

  1. Contract with my audience that I will deliver valuable content to a fixed schedule;
  2. This creates personal accountability to fulfil the schedule, no matter how tricky;
  3. Deliver on my promise.

So would my followers miss me if I failed to Show Up?  Honestly? 

No, not yet; but I’m working on it. 

Swept under the carpet?

On Saturday, I installed and carried out training on a new Freeview HD receiver and recorder box by a well known manufacturer in this field.

Everything looked okay.  However a side-request was made to connect a laptop to the television on a different input source.  After successfully connecting the laptop I returned to the input for the Freeview box to find the sound had gone missing.

I powered down the box, restarted and the sound returned.  I cycled through the inputs again and back to the box and again the sound had gone missing.

It took me two minutes on the internet to see dozens of customers had identified the same issue.  None of the solutions offered worked which included advice from customer support, other users and tech geeks.  The television or television settings were blamed in many cases (a way to pass the buck?) but it would seem this is just an inherent limitation of the box.

I’m thinking:

  1. Is it reasonably likely that someone will move to another source and back while viewing?  If so why would this not be tested and considered in quality assurance?
  2. Many customers have taken to support forums to find an answer (since 2015); so why has the manufacturer failed to provide a fix or at least identified this as a box limitation?
  3. I'm wondering how many sales were lost on returns of this box because of this problem or even worse how many customers are putting up with this issue?

I’ve provided the feedback to the manufacturer and will be interested to see the response.  Come on guys - someone knows about this and someone can definitely fix it.

(TWIMC the problem is due to lack of HDMI-CEC function, compatibility solved with a HDMI-CEC less adaptor.  Maybe you could supply one in the box)?

Down the marketing rabbit hole (and back again)

I’ve found that the marketing aspect of running your own business is a dark and dangerous place.  

Facebook is awash with ad placements offering tantalising ‘lead generation’ and ‘funnel systems’ that will transform your business overnight.  These systems are not cheap and would require complete trust and confidence in the course provider to buy.

It’s easy to get sucked in, some of the videos and free content are excellent and can leave you wanting more.

After a while of searching for some genuine help that may exist amongst the charlatans the whole charade becomes distasteful.  

It’s a shame because I’ve found one or two excellent marketing tools that don’t deserve to be lumped in with the scam merchants (seek out James Cook Media or Seth Godin).

Funny how the ‘niche’ (this is internet marketing jargon for the product or service that you sell) and whether it is actually any good is rarely studied.  

What an excellent get out of jail free card for the provider of the course; 

‘the system didn’t work because your product/service isn’t any good’;

‘there doesn’t seem to be a market for your niche’;

‘it’s your idea that is flawed, not the system’.

After many hours of trawling the internet searching for marketing sanity and actions, I have written this five point business plan so that you don’t have to do the same:

  1. Know who your target audience are better than they know themselves;
  2. Do excellent work every day that adds value / solves a pain point;
  3. Tell stories about that content (videos are better) showing total empathy with your audience;
  4. Make your messages to the many, not the few;
  5. Make it clear how to buy if/when the prospect is ready.

6.  Stop clicking links for sensationalised quick fix systems.

How much would you bet on yourself?

Yesterday I stumbled across a smartphone app called DietBet.  Participants put down their hard-earned cash with the hope they’ll earn it back at the end of the challenge to lose 4% of their body weight in a month.

You essentially join a group or challenge by betting the required amount, keep tabs on your challengers and then split the pot between successful dieters.  Some of the pots run into the thousands, however with the size of the groups it’s unlikely to be a life changing win and more a token gesture.  The losers (or non-losers) pick up the tab.

The motivation of course is not to lose your stake.

I am in no way, shape or form looking to lose weight but the psychology underpinning the app is of interest and a classic technique.  Placing the bet of course creates ACCOUNTABILITY and commitment towards the goal.  A well researched and critical component in objective setting.

So is there something you want to achieve?  A marathon, weight loss, starting a business, learning a language, travelling the world or anything else?  If there is, define it and tell anyone that will listen about it, post it online, join a group or find an accountability partner.  Then get to work.

Your chances of success will increase dramatically in the knowledge there is a community, someone or something cheering you on from the sidelines - but a consequence of non-action.

Create accountability by betting on yourself to win.

What have you got to lose ?

Treat others as if your livelihood depends on it

One change I’ve noticed since running my own business is how I interact with the local community and the people around me.  This is true with my on-line community and in ‘real life’ scenarios.

A friend of mine said that the best thing about working for yourself is that you are answerable only to yourself.  

I humbly disagree.

Every side-stepped interaction, eyes to the floor, self absorbed, grumpy, distracted morning is an opportunity missed or worst still, a shot across the bows of your business.  

I am the face, life and soul of my enterprise.  Living and breathing my ideas and values.  So every ‘good morning’, ‘how are you?’, smile and connection is a golden moment of empathy, trust and understanding that may just create a customer for life if the stars align.

I disagree with my friend as I feel answerable and accountable to EVERYONE;  because I can’t afford not to be.  I have never engaged and sought to understand the people around me more - and I love it.

I love it because others react to it and the general mood is elevated.  

Once the link is established between your outlook and your livelihood the stakes are too high to behave with anything but compassion and integrity in every interaction.

‘Treat others as if your livelihood depends on it’.  

Now there’s a thought.

Make Snow day a Show day

The snow has fallen and as usual the UK appears to over react with panic and confusion.

It is true the roads can be more dangerous so anyone venturing to your store is likely to have an extremely legitimate reason to be out and about.

So if a customer comes to your door today in whatever capacity be sure to thank them for choosing you on a snow day.  Then, thank them by delivering the warmest service to melt their hearts and the snow for a safe journey home.

Heaven forbid a wasted trail ...