Monday, November 27, 2006

Why being there makes the difference

Couple of great little lessons in the last week about the power of being there in front of an audience, and telling them stories about how you see your business unfolding.

1. I got invited by the Business Roundtable to talk to a class of 15 year olds about a month ago about what I do at Telecom, what's important to us and the future opportunities that might exist.Given most of them have been alive just barely longer than I've been working here I told a story of how technology has changed so much in the last 12 years I've been here and how I've been able to do my little bit to make a difference. I got this letter from one of the students.

There are so many lessons in here, especially when you think of the context of this

  • Megan is not an existing customer - but I reckon there is every chance she might be one day
  • As part of this chat I got asked a very direct question of when we're going to roll out broadband to more rural areas and gave a very clear 'not for a very long time!' as an answer
  • I gave this talk to 45 people (30 kids and associated parents and teachers) - it probably cost me 3 hours of time (2 hours of prep and 1 hour of delivery) which, if I was being generous, probably cost Telecom $600. That is about $7 per person in terms of marketing cost and I reckon I got better cut through from this than any of our ads. This includes any in-direct benefit I would have got from these people talking to their friends and family.
I'm not saying we should ditch the TV commercials - clearly they work - but any chance to get in front of your customers in person (current ex- and future) has to be the best way to give your business personality and let your customers know you have a vision for THEM (not for you) and how you can 'make things better for average New Zealanders' - if it's not about that, then why are you here?

2. As one of my final acts in my old role, I gave a presentation on Thursday to the TUANZ business internet conference. It was all about how we research Emerging Technologies - which of course is actually all about understanding what are the problems that people will face in the future and how we can use technology to solve them. The guys put together a great demo of this based on streamlining the order and payment process for the local cafe based on the use of RFID. Worked really well and stimulated alot of discussion. Must say that the thing that really blew me away was Ernie Newman saying, in introducing the next speaker, that he was genuinely impressed that Telecom had a team of people who were so focussed on the customer and their problems, and that he held high hope for Telecom to execute its transition to a more holistic player in the NZ market - Paul Stoddart, Neil Forster, and all of the team at the old ETS (the new R&V) take a bow - you are actively changing the perception of Telecom for the better. One small team can make a big difference...

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