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7 Things Italy Taught Me About Online Marketing – Part 1

When we dropped my daughter off in Italy years back for a college semester abroad, it gave use a chance to spend time with friends in Milan.    It enabled me to see our online marketing business from a new perspective.  I saw it from a different country, through the eyes of a very different people and with a relaxed mind.  I wasn't working 24/7 like I usually do.

Let me show you what I learned.

Lesson #1 - Pricing Is ALWAYS About Value

wineryMy friends in Milan commented at how expensive wine was when they visited the States.  I didn't think much of it until they took us to a wine tasting at a Piedmont winery.  It was a fourth generation vineyard / winery that had been making wine for over 100 years.

The tasting included a 7 to 10 course meal (who can keep count) with wine introduced throughout.  The whole production, and it was a good one, cost us 30 Euros a head.  You can buy bottles to take home for 6 to 10 Euros each.  Their reserves were a little higher.

Italians in Italy don't pay a lot for wine.  They have access to great wines and it's been priced inexpensively for centuries.  They buy and drink a lot of it.  It's a staple for them like buying bread and milk.  Their pricing is very different from our U.S. wine culture that sees it as more luxurious.

I've had customers ask me how they should price their products and services.  I ALWAYS tell them, "You must build value and price according to the value the customer believes they get from it."

wineGet out of your head and remember you aren't selling yourself.   We are often so close to what we sell that we get contaminated.  Competition needs to be considered, but what's most important is the value your customers believe they get in return for what they pay you.

New business owners should be careful not to under price themselves.  That's a common mistake when you are starting out.  You need to address market specific issues like I mention when "selling expensive wine to Italians."  Peculiarities like that affect all industries.

Lesson #2 - Purple Cows Are What Makes You Remarkable

Read the book,  Purple Cow: Transforming Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin and you'll learn all about standing out and getting noticed.  His point is you MUST get noticed.  Goden's book title came from his driving throughout France.  He was amazed by all the cows.  Then after a few hours, they were just...cows.   Now only a purple cow among all these regular cows would stand out.  Click here to read more on this in an article I wrote a year back.

In Italy we saw so many old, ancient and pre-historic buildings. You can see a pictures I took of the ceiling above a busy Bologna sidewalk where my wife was shopping.   I only noticed it because I was bored and thought to look up.  The detail is amazing.  But honestly, after a few days seeing lots of old stuff, it was no longer remarkable.  Old is so common in Italy that most people take it for granted.

As business owners, we need to know intimately what, if anything, makes us remarkable.  And if you don't know or don't believe you are remarkable in some way, keep working on it.  Your unique "remarkable-ness" is what will get people to notice you so you become that coveted Purple Cows.

Lesson #3 - Old Stuff Never Goes Out of Style

ceilingsI just mentioned that you have to become remarkable.  I said that old ceilings get taken for granted.  At the same time, what used to work can continue to work...with some adjustments.

Old Italian architecture fascinates me.  You have the buildings, stone roads and walkways, bridges, old theaters, classic arenas...  You can't help but fall in love with all of it.  It doesn't need changing.

The same is true if you look at marketing.  If it worked a long time ago (not necessarily centuries), it will likely work today.  If you read long copy on a web page, the best ones follow formats that were perfected decades back and mailed as physical letters.   I still get one in my mailbox every once in a while.  They still work.

Record clubs from back in the 70's and 80's got people hooked with an inexpensive initial sale and then racked in the monthly recurring revenue that followed.  I remember forms in magazines that would show you where to tape you four quarters.  You would get your first set of records for cheap and they would send you a record a month charging you regular price.   This model is timeless.

There are proven methods that get adjusted to accommodate medias and ways of buying.  They'll likely be around

Click here to read Lessons 4, 5, 6 and 7.