Challenging the way you do things, its all about change.

By elaine ball, ceo, ebtm

Challenging the way you do things, its all about change.

Change is hard.  Business is becoming more and more challenging.  Company directors have to think differently in order to grow their businesses.  This is no exception to marketing and what I mean by marketing is the way you ‘market’ yourself.  How do you do business? How do you get your product and service to market that stands out from everyone else?  How do you gain customers and retain them?  Why you, over anyone else?

As most of you will see, the way we market is seriously changing. I can hear you saying now “we have always done it this way and its works, so why do I have to change”, while I’m not one for changing things if they are not broken, I am up for experimenting and keeping up to date with the latest trends.  I am also up for getting my message across that will excite, educate and enthral customers in a different way.  The world does not stand still and nor should you.

The majority of the companies out there including the geospatial businesses are, what I class as ‘sheep’.  Charming, I hear you say.  They copy each other, do the same things, advertise the same way and even use the same terminology!  “get your own ideas!” I can’t stand it, be different and challenge how you do things.  Being the same as everyone else, following that flock of sheep just isn’t me, nor should it be you!  It’s also boring and doesn’t make you tons of money.

Ok rant over but think about it.

I am always up for picking on companies marketing techniques (good and bad) however, without offending anyone we will stick with the great things companies are embracing and experiment with their creativeness.

Who stands out from the crowd, who do you look up to and think ‘wow they got it right!’  Who is challenging the way we do things in the geospatial industry?

Smaller companies are more agile and can be very creative with challenging the way they do things but it’s a double edged sword.  Cash is king and smaller businesses don’t always have enough to be creative therefore side with the ‘tried and tested’ methods.  The other side of the coin is they don’t have the cost structure to support, looking after a giant marshmallow, which could wobble over at any moment?

Companies who challenge the way they do things

Over the years I’ve been in the geospatial market, little ‘gems’ have stuck in my mind, which I would like to share with you. Exhibiting at Conexpo in Vegas, Topcon’s machine control division did something different.  They had a walk in theatre showing GPS satellites within the claws of the tent.  This was unique and a very different way of showing off their product through educating the customer.  Nice one!  It challenged the way they promoted their product line through educating the customer instead of bombarding them with sales speak!

Trimble comes at change in a very different way.  Trimble embraces change in the companies it buys.  Trimble buys the ‘spark’ and leaves the companies with the ‘spark’.  Many companies strip it away.  To me, Trimble is not afraid of buying the unknown and this is the challenge!  And this is how you need to think.

I call it the Trimble ‘no fear’ philosophy in buying smart little companies and keeping them smart!  Good move Trimble!

FARO Focus

Faro on the other hand has been very different and challenged the way they do business noting the trendy launch of the faro focus.  Apart from the size and cost of the product itself, I was more impressed with the “fingers with faces!” adverts.  How different is that!  Their marketing team changed the way they traditionally did things in order to get a reaction from the user base and capture more of the market.  And boy, does it stick in ones mind.  Something different can make you stand out a mile from the crowd.

Changing habits

Without this being a lecture on creativity marketing, I want to put the point across about changing habits.  It’s about stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something different. I want you to think differently about your offering.  How can you promote your product in a different light, which will make it stand out and not the same way as others?

Changing the way you do things!  This article is focused on marketing however it relates to your entire business.  From answering the phone, shipping your product overseas, how your get your message across to how you buy companies.  Change comes in many forms.

The marketing field

The marketing landscape has changed significantly over the past 10 years and marketing companies are always trying to find new ways to boost their client’s bottom line.  Some succeed and some don’t, I like to put myself in the ‘succeed’ category.  Now, being a technical marketer, I have to stay on top of what the marketing industry is doing.  For example, video marketing is up 46% year on year.  People don’t have the time to read lots of different articles.  Watching a quick 2-minute video, is far easier for the busy executive.  Maybe they will turn my article into a video clip!  Mobile is also changing the world with countries like Africa bypassing infrastructure and picking up mobile phones.  Crop farmers in Sudan are checking prices via mobile.  The use of Apps has significantly increased.

So, how can you change and challenge?

Think, write and discuss the way you come across now.  What has worked and what could you do to improve?  Ask your customers.  Even do a secret shopper who can find out lots about you from the outside.  You don’t have to break the bank. Test new ways of getting your product out there, record your results and see what happens.  If you don’t test, you will never know!

One little golden nugget I will share is to keep your eye on the marketing industry through your marketing team, consultant or via twitter, blogging or by Harvard Business Review.  Why? If you want to keep going, and you want to grow or become more profitable you must adopt a change attitude.  The world is changing and changing fast!  Be that company in 50 years that is still going strong, challenging the way they do business.  The above may give you the odd one or two key ideas in order for you to test a different path and that path could be very successful indeed.

Another piece of good advice is to keep an eye on what the best marketers are doing?  Think Apply, Hiscox, Virgin and even Faro!  Or even smaller organizations.  Keep you eyes on e-cognition, a truly inspiring little business.  E-cognition has changed the way their customers can truly make more effective decisions through real time data extraction.

Next Generation

Next, you need to think about the next generation of surveyors.  They will buy and sell differently to you!  I read an article the other day saying 3% of children under 5 are using iPhone!  What will the world of ‘selling & marketing’ be like in another 10 years?

As well as keeping up to date with marketing industry news, the latest thought leaders, get your team including your marketers out there visiting key exhibitions and clients.  Why? Let them pick up new ways of doing things, especially if they are truly creative individuals.  Try it! Give them the scope to test out different methods.

A great example of how things have changed is with the gaming industry.  When I used to play Mario Bothers on Nintendo it was between me and the other player in the room!  Now you can compete online with someone from the other side of the world!  Its taken.. what.. 10 years to change or less on how to play a game with someone?

Challenge the way you do things

I remember when I became marketing manager at MDL.  We did a traffic exhibition in Amsterdam and I went over the top with great vibrant colour. (even though some of the team were not too keen at the beginning, I did win them over).  I even rented a bright red sofa and carpet in order for us to stand out from the crowd.

Small things can make a huge impact.  Bumbling along doing the same old thing will give you the same old results.  Make YOU stand out. Test an area and measure it.  You change with an impact and people will stand up and notice especially if you haven’t changed significantly before!

Riegl’s Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart quotes “be silent, if you choose; but when it is necessary, speak and speak in such a way that people will remember it” – wow! What a quote!  And you know what, he’s right.  This relates to change!  “Change the way you get your product out there in such a way that people will remember it.”

Now, how many companies at Intergeo do you actually remember?  A handful?  For those who remembered MDL at SPAR 2012 will note the over the top stand; it was in your face.  Several people made comments of “who is MDL?!” A perfect example!  We were lucky to reap the benefits of the show but I wanted to highlight the step we took in order to

make an impact.  In order to challenge the way we did things.


Riegl do things differently, lets measure the unexpected!  Riegl love to measure objects that are hard to measure, like the Pyramids of Egypt.  Riegl is different, doing things in a different light so people go ‘wow’ and you know what, they remember.



Find out who is pushing the boundaries of change.  Look at how you currently do business and challenge the way it works for you.  Think about the next 10 years were the market is going, where it could go and how you will fit in.