The friendship grid by Moi

It turned to be a lot of fun and downright cheeky! I used an idea from the 3D HR model by Gratton & Truss (2003) to build a friendship grid. Mind you, this grid is rather personal but I think many folks will find it useful as you can add and subtract as you please. There are a total of 8 segments with only 4 moving to the third dimension (a dimension of commitment, if you like) of loyalty and trust. Yes, you don’t have to trust everyone in quite the same way. I always think that with some modification to the grid, dysfunctional romantic relationships can be sniffed out! The horizontal alignment is based on common values and support for each other. Vertical alignment is based on mutuality of the friendship. Is one person doing all the work? I’ll break down what I’m thinking at the risk of being burned at the stake.

The Business Addict's friendship grid

 Low Loyalty & Trust

1. Friends for fun & laughter (High reciprocity, High alignment)

They are great fun to be with and they put you in a good mood. But there’s no psychological contract of loyalty and commitment. The misunderstanding comes when you start to have high expectations of these folks. Saying things like, “But she should have done this or known that.” No one owes anyone anything. In a way, it keeps things simple.

2. To-be-nurtured friendships (Low reciprocity, High alignment)

One person is doing all the work here. If that person is not me, this is one friendship I need to nurture. Perhaps some efforts from my side will lead to some kind of trust and loyalty. It may have something to do with past upsets and/or betrayals. But who knows where life will take us?

3. Passive acquaintances (High reciprocity, Low alignment)

We are always pleasant when we meet in parties, school pick-ups etc. But it really ends there. No hard feelings but you don’t know me and I don’t know you. Or maybe I do know you and I find we don’t have much in common.

4. Remind me why we are friends again? (Low reciprocity, Low alignment)

It can be argued that people like this should not be on the grid at all but I think that’s unfair to say. There are those that are in your life for whatever reason e.g. through a mutual friend, in-laws etc. You go out of your way for them because maybe there are related to you or to someone you know. They think they deserve it and you play along. Hmm, I’m beginning to see that “friends” may not be the right word here. Any ideas?

High Loyalty & Trust

5. Friends for life (High reciprocity, High alignment)

This speaks for itself. You’ve been through thin and thick together even if you don’t see them often, they know you and you are comfortable around each other. You don’t always agree but you always know they would never disrespect you intentionally and will support your dreams as you support theirs. For instance, I  had a close friendship with someone that I only ever met once over 5 years! We talked over the phone and are still good friends now.

6. Stop taking and give more (Low reciprocity, High alignment)

This is a stern instruction. Someone is loyal and trustworthy but the other is taking it for granted. If this is me, woe is me. I need to identify those who love me and love them right back! However there are folks here that used to be “friends for life” but perhaps distance and lack of “active” forgiveness has reduced the willingness to exert more than the minimum effort.

7. Accept me as I am (High reciprocity, Low alignment)

We understand each other even if we don’t think alike. If the differences are so fundamental maybe I shouldn’t be here in the first place. If they are not fundamental however, accept and proceed. A loyal friend is hard to find and I am not really looking for a splitting image of myself (shock! horror!!).

8. I don’t understand you but I respect you (Low reciprocity, Low alignment)

Often those who you don’t completely get. But you respect their stance in life. Hell, you may even admire them. You wouldn’t go to them for advice (unless you want the absolute undiluted truth) but it may be good to look at someone different from you once in a while. These folks tend to be much older than me and have seen many phrases of life. I aspire to have their grace and confidence but at this stage in my “growth”, I have to admit that I often don’t understand them but respect that they have come a long way.

*Note: I use You and I interchangeably. It’s just me generalizing and then talking some sense to myself in the same breath.

Advertisements

I smell a “friendship” audit

I believe it was in October this year that I had an interesting conversation with a stranger. We were at a holiday club for our kids and we got talking. Somehow we stumbled onto the subject of friendship. This lady is some way older than me (up to 10 years) and I was engrossed by her insight to life, marriage and raising kids in general. She asked me how I was finding Aberdeen and I said, ‘Overall, it’s great for families but I’m not as friendly as I used to be….’. She asked me why and the only way I could explain my comment without appearing as if I didn’t want to be friendly to HER was to tell the truth:

‘I find that many women my age and older tend to stick to friends they’ve had all their life. It’s like, ‘I’m NOT recruiting new friends-sorry.’

She bellied over laughing and said she’s never heard it put quite that way but she understood. It was then she told me about the “friendship audit”. Apparently, just a few days ago she had taken out a piece of paper and audited her friendships. It is not as sinister as it sounds. It was actually really good. In the audit she considered the following:

  • What she needs in a friend e.g. loyalty, sense of humor, trustworthiness
  • What she gives in her friendships e.g. advice, good times, loyalty, money 🙂 (!)
  • What she makes her uncomfortable in people/situations e.g gossiping, prejudice

My list is not exhaustive but the main result of the audit was that it highlighted that she had different categories of friends. They just fell into groups. There were friends who she would run to if she had a problem in her marriage or with one of her kids. There were those she would ask to pray with her. There were those who she only had a good laugh with but wouldn’t confide in them at all and so on. There were also friends that made her uncomfortable, perhaps because they were judgemental and put her in positions where she felt that arguing and displaying her opinion would just cause a fight. She often left feeling as though she was party to something she would rather have nothing to do with.

Anyway, I  remember thinking that I owed myself a friendship audit. I desperately need to do one but I haven’t. I think it will be revealing and will probably prove right certain things I already know, to be honest. Personally, I think it’s okay to have different classes of friends. It’s like market segmentation. You can be different things to different people. I cherish my friends that give me a good laugh even if I can’t confide in them about my challenges. That’s okay. I pray for those who listen to my ramblings about my insecurities because they deserve life’s very best. Well, we’ll see what mysteries my friendship audit reveal. Watch this space.

Snow tyres insurance fiasco

There was a 4-hour wait at the only shop in Aberdeen that had snow tyres yesterday. Even though I got to the shop an hour before opening, I still wasn’t first on the queue. Well, I have them now and it’s great because I’ve been having very close encounters as my car dances and swinging left and right when I get into my street. People have been asking me whether the new tyres make a difference and my answer is unequivocally YES! I feel safer and most importantly, my brakes seem to work on the highway.

Snow tyres are safer! (www.fotosa.ru, 2010)

There was one thing that bothered me though. Just before I got my snow tyres, there were emails going back and forth at work that insurance companies were saying that changing to snow tyres was a change to the “standard product” and hence it would cause your premium to go up! In fact, a colleague said his friend’s wife had got into an accident with snow tyres and her insurance wouldn’t pay because she had snow tyres on during the crash! I thought it was bizarre. Needless to say, I called my insurance company to inform them that I was buying snow tyres and (thankfully), they said it was fine. So far I know two insurance companies that don’t mind:

1. Allianz Insurance
2. The guys you get through Lloyds TSB

Please feel free to add to my list.

Another colleague even forwarded this link to confirm that it is indeed a real problem for car owners who want to get snow tyres in the UK. Snow tyres make your car SAFER in the winter, no? You are less likely to have a snow/ice related accident or have I missed something? How strange because the way I see it, these companies have an opportunity to REDUCE insurance  premiums when you get snow tyres. Even charging for “admin” like some insurers are doing, I still think is ridiculous. Ok, it may not part if their business model (Insurance is very transactional) but think about what one insurance company could achieve:

  1. Corporate Social Responsibility brownie points. Promoting safe driving because people will be more inclined to get snow tyres therefore reducing accidents in winter months.
  2. Potential sales volume increase. This is possible because although you are cutting prices, the NUMBER of people switching to insurance companies that reduce premium for snow tyres will INCREASE. Multiply volume by price, you could have REVENUE increase. Premiums can of course go back to normal in the summer.
  3. Steal market share. The insurance business is big business. It is largely an oligopolistic market i.e. few sellers, millions of buyers. So being the first on the scene is everything! It’s a fabulous opportunity to steal market share even just initially, before everyone copies you :-). But there’s a crown for being first. Customers are likely to come to you unless of course, the competitor’s counter-move is better e.g. even lower prices, cash back and whatever they think it takes to push back.

I’m sure there are more benefits of this approach but I have other things to do today. So if you know any insurance people, could you please ask them why they are increasing premiums for changing to snow tyres or refusing to pay out when an accident occurs (an accident that would have been fatal without snow tyres)? I’m intrigued.

What’s in the price?

It’s on countless products in the grocery store: 99p, £9.99 etc. That’s psychological pricing. They want you to think the product is cheaper so you see 99p and you think: ‘Wow, it’s less than a pound! Well, my current problem is quite the opposite.

I have been working on increasing sales of a particular software product through aggressive selling but the efforts are not equalling the results. What I’m finding increasingly shocking is that my customers think the product is too cheap and would rather buy the more expensive products! Actually, it makes sense.

Imagine that after several months of awaiting the iPad, Steve Jobs put a price tag below any net book out there, for instance. The effect would probably NOT be more sales! Loyal Apple customers want quality so a low price may well signal low quality, whether real or perceived. So this is the plight of my product. I want to take a page from other industries like gaming, retail and even the car industry. In gaming, it is becoming popular to get certain games e.g. Tap zoo or Farmville for nothing. Then if the customer wants the accentuate their experience by adding more features or add-ons, they pay. A similar structure applies in the car industry- you get your ride at a base price and then pay a premium for add-ons like sat nav, alloys and heated seats for. This structure keeps the price sensitive customer but still attracts that customer looking for quality and is willing to pay more for it. I do this myself when I go shopping. I don’t like to buy the absolute cheapest item but tend to buy the mid-range. I too associate “cheap” with poor quality. Marketers concur that,

“Many consumers use price as an indicator of quality.” Kotler (2009)

But is this always true? Can a company not enter the market selling at rock bottom prices and go on the win market share? Maybe. It depends I think on the type of market. For instance, if it is highly competitive like retail, price sensitivity becomes very high and many customers will for buy at Asda not Sainsbury based purely on price. Of course, it’s not only price that matters. One should consider customer service, quality, support, ease of returns etc. Also there’s this strange thing about wanting to do what everyone else is doing….. What brands are my friends buying?

Anyway, for my dear product, I will need to roll my sleeves up and do the following to arrive at a plausible pricing strategy.

Segmentation analysis. Classify my customers. What is their behaviour and attitude towards my product? Who among them are promoters? Are their any detractors that will not repurchase or refer others to me? Why? Does it have anything to do with price or is there much more? How can detractors become promoters?

Competition analysis. Look at what the competition is charging and then evaluate market share distribution. How low is my price compared to the average price paid by customers?  Is it really about price or is the competiton actually just…better (ouch!)?

Communication, communication, communication. I can’t increase price without telling the customers why. And it has to be done right! There are a dozen ways to do this e.g. through sales ads, conferences, press releases, exhibition, free trials etc. Most importantly, there has to be an internal positioning statement that tells employees what space in the market this product is occupying. This bit is tough. It will also cost MONEY……. There has to be a budget in place, maybe based on % increase in sales anticipated from the price increases but they are other ways (Kotler et al (2009) has some ideas).

Engaging the team. People are your assets. If they don’t engage and empathise with customers to make this happen, you’re screwed. I’m screwed. Incentivise, give bonuses whatever- just make it happen. Many times it’s a chicken and egg scenario. People don’t want to put in the effort because they don’t believe it will yield great results. But if they don’t put in the efforts, there will be NO great results!

Determining the perfect price... (freedigitalphotos.net, 2010)

Premature Preliminary thoughts are:

It may be that I need to hold back some features from the standard product and then sell them separately as add-on features like my gaming pals. This is what I’m really pondering at this moment. See? You’ve got me going on and on and on. Business addict! 😉

Related authors:

Kotler et al (2009); Marketing Management

Farris et al (2006); Pricing Strategies (in Marketing Metrics: 50+ Every Executive Should master)

Heskett et al (1994); Service profit chain

I have got great gift ideas for men that you can steal from

What could be inside for him this christmas? (freedigitalphotos.net, 2010)

So I’ve always had a real problem buying presents for men. I never know what to get! Beyond boxers, handkerchiefs and shirts…I’m kinda stuck. It’s worse if its a man who seems to have everything ! I’ve got men in my life: my husband, my dad, my brother (and my son but I already know he wants Super Mario Galaxy video games… or rather Santa knows….) To get something “creative” for my men, I’ve done some research. I am known to be a practical gift-giver but this year I don’t want to give a hot water bottle again (hehehe!) or a DIY kit. My top choices for men’s gifts are:

10. Boxers (I know- basic but he can never have too many)

9. Massaging chair (beats you having to do it!)
8. Gaming chair (around £120 but much cheaper ones exist, depends on what you’re trying to encourage here)
7. Topgear box set (Ebay is the place to get these at a bargain, £10 tops)

6. A subscription to GQ or What CAR? (there’s currently a christmas gift offer on Whatcar.magazine.co.uk)

5. Topgear ticket (shockingly, these are free try BBC website!)

4. Turntable to play those oldies (£80/Boysstuff.co.uk)

3. Personalized items e.g. Mug, t-shirts (something from the kids like”World’s greatest dad” will soften him up 😉 )
2. Tickets to a game in the new year e.g football (do him one better n buy two tickets so he can take his friend).
1. A really cool jacket….

The best websites (UK only) are Boysstuff.co.uk, NeXT, Asos, Oxfam, Boots just to name a few. I’m sure similar outlets in the US and the rest of Europe will have an assortment of choices. I hope this helps!

Happy holidays- over and out:-)

%d bloggers like this: