Pete Cochrane

A Different Point of View

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Marketing Strategies – Much Like Fishing

Having The Right ‘Bait’ For Your Marketing Strategies.

Marketing strategies are much like Fishing. Finding a pool of hungry fish is fairly easy, as is casting your line into the waiting mass. But why does a fish choose another fisherman’s bait rather than yours? The bait looks the same, but something must attract one bait over another. Is it a visual thing? Is the taste or something entirely different? The skill is to find out what it is, and this may take many years. Your marketing strategies present just the same problems as a fisherman experiences.  A subtle change to the bait or conditions may result in what worked before not working now. The secret to the skill, is understanding all the variables that catch a fish on any given day and that only comes with experience. If something doesn’t work then try something else, but don’t change too much all at once. Find a baseline, then, change one thing. If it works better, keep that as the baseline if not revert back to the original baseline. Then change something else and determine if that is an improvement or not. Work out what combinations of elements work, and what doesn’t work. Keep a record your results so you don’t try something more than once.

Marketing strategies are just the same. Find a pool of hungry customers, cast your offer line into the pool and then determine if your sales bait is better or worse than your competitor. Determine your baseline and change one variable only, to see if sales increase or decrease. Then use the fishing analogy to determine what changes you must make to your sales pitch to catch your fish.

A Road Test Of The MAN TGX 500 Truck.

Tested 19/01/2017 to 20/01/2017

The MAN TGX500
The MAN TGX500

I’ve been trying an MAN 500 demo truck for the last few days. While it has a broad torque range with plenty of power, the cab and chassis are very dated and have changed very little in the last seven years or so. The ride is very soft and the vehicle wanders and rolls quite easily. The power delivery and displayed fuel consumption was impressive. However, I am suspicious of MAN dash data from past experience and believe it could be overstated, on the other hand, maybe the Scania engine and driveline influence that is quite evident, has made these figures possible as they are what I would expect from a new generation R500 or R490 Streamline. It is unfair to compare this truck to our current and latest 460 Volvo’s, and it will be necessary to try an FH500 with the latest Euro 6 engine to have a true comparison. The Volvo is still the best fleet motor of the two and if they were the only two trucks in the yard, I would still take theVolvo 460.

With regard to the test over the last couple of days, I think the following notes are in order. The benchmark is our current 460hp Volvo fleet and for the last couple of months I have been driving the Volvo as I was trained to by Volvo trainer Clive Bond. The Volvo is easy to drive by both new and experienced drivers. The controls and functions are comprehensive and very useful as well as being easy to find without taking your eyes from the road. Fuel consumption is fair to good depending on the load and terrain. My view on the test was to get the MAN to do what the Volvo does and unfortunately it doesn’t. Fitted with the automatic gearbox, it is unpredictable in its operation with none consistent gear shifts that catch me out never mind an inexperienced driver. It will be interesting to see if it produces an over rev on Microlise as sometimes when it down shifted the dynamic rev counter did not correspond as it had done on other downshifts yet it was doing the downshift itself. MAN have made a big improvement to the driveline management system and it has followed Scania’s approach of dropping the rpm well before descending a hill. As with the Scania, I feel this is dangerous and a recipe for catching a following driver out and causing an accident. It is the correct thing to do for fuel economy, but it’s impractical on busy U.K. roads as following drivers will overtake and then you catch them up and have to slow down to keep at a safe distance, therefore negating the fuel saving. More than likely you will have to go through the whole overtaking manoeuvre again, and gain a reasonable distance before the system engages again. Overriding it was more the norm to remain safe, as overtaking is one of the most dangerous manoeuvres we do as truck drivers, never mind annoying other road users. Clearly this truck does have lots of torque and seems to be slightly better than the Volvo on fuel. It will be an interesting experiment to try a 500 Volvo though. Finding switches and functions does take your eye off the road and the MAN’s handling characteristics allow it to wander easily if you don’t keep your eye on it. Compared to the Volvo this would not be an easy vehicle to train drivers on and I think abuse of the power would be a result of driving it out of cruise mode. The benefits of extra horsepower and the corresponding torque is mostly only beneficial while on cruise control. To be fair to MAN, if this had been a truck with a manual gearbox and a good driver on it, it would have done well. However, there is no getting away from the fact that the cab and chassis need a massive revamp to bring it into line with all the other current manufacturers offerings. If it was me buying trucks for my own outfit and the MAN 500 and Volvo 460 were the only two options, I would go for the Volvo even at the expense of a slightly lower fuel average. Driver acceptance, ease of training, quality of the product and probably a better residual value would be my reasoning. The current 66 plate 460 Volvo is, I believe a very good fleet truck.
When testing any truck, I treat it as if it was my own and take great care to look after it as well as drive it to the best of my ability to do the job. My expectations of a vehicle are based on nearly forty years HGV experience. In that time I have seen great improvements in vehicles and their technology. While I embrace the technology, the vehicle has to do what is required of it, which may not be exactly as the manufacturer envisaged. I have treated the MAN with an impartial evaluation and will subject each vehicle I am given to the same testing process.

The Legacy – A Lesson For Life

In my 58th year of life I have come to the conclusion that there are six core areas every human should aspire to. They are imagination, the ability to read, the ability to write your thoughts down, the ability to do basic mathematics, to be inquisitive about everything and above all else DREAM!

Imagination is one of the most valuable tools you will ever possess. Without imagination you will not feel the warmth of the desert sun or the cold of an Arctic chill, or any depth of emotion in the content of a good book. A fertile imagination will also allow you to find solutions to problems that sometimes can’t be seen with your eyes. Imagination is the most incredible tool in the pursuit of your ambitions.

There are many types of reader and not all find it easy, but the more you read the easier it gets and the broader your depth of comprehension. Many young people now seem to think reading is a chore and give the skill little time to develop. I believe that by reading fiction from a broad spectrum of authors will lead to at least one or two becoming a favourite and inspiring the reader to consume more of their content. For me it’s Clive Cussler in fiction and I have every one of his books but I also read many other fictional offerings. Sometimes a title does not reveal the jewel of the content so never judge a book by its cover! Reading biographies of your heroes or those that lead your field of expertise can also be a great source of inspirational development.

An ability to write your thoughts down is also a basic requirement. I will let you into a secret, the reason I write using a computer is because my handwriting is an illegible scrawl that even I have trouble re-reading and my punctuation is also questionable. Years ago when I was at school I would have been considered nearly illiterate. Today there are many tools to help you, from spell checkers to voice to text recorders. So really nobody has any excuse not to get their thoughts down as hard copy and I have to admit that although my handwriting is appalling, it is often the only way to get the thoughts out of my head fast enough when I have an idea. When you read your vocabulary improves and in turn the content of your written thoughts also improve.

My views on mathematics are probably the most contentious by the learned and underestimated by the student. When I was young, great emphasis was placed on basic maths such as multiplication up to and including the twelve times table, the addition and subtraction of very small fractional numbers to very large whole numbers, division of numbers and the relationship between the numerators. I wish more time had been given to understand basic maths and to explain that advanced mathematics such as equations are really just a taster of the truly advanced and varied disciplines of mathematics that your profession may take you in. When you are young, take time to learn the basics. It is not easy but again perseverance is key to your understanding and success.

Leaving school and your early working years can be a time of turmoil and lack of fulfilment. How anyone can truly know what they will enjoy for an occupation when they have little or no experience of working life is impossible. How many young (and older) people are trapped in jobs that do not inspire or motivate them to use and develop all of their skills. Having an inquisitive mind about everything can lead you in directions you had possibly never thought about as a career or solution to a problem. Be a seeker of all knowledge especially those that interest you.

Last but not least and arguably the most important, dare to dream. Success is measured by the failure strewn path you will tread on your journey through life. Failure is not to be taken as a literal but more a step in your learning curve. Failure is only a true failure if you learn nothing from it. Never lose sight of your dreams and make sure your dreams are BIG!

I have been very lucky in my life so far and if I can inspire just one person to strive for a more fulfilled life, I will be a happy man. So let me give you a little insight into my success. At school above being a Motocross champion, I wanted to be an aeronautical engineer, inspired by the space race to land on the moon. Life took me in a different path at school that meant I left at 15 years old with no exams taken or even any school grade. Furthermore, the job I had found myself in ceased to trade and even now I remember the day that I realised I had no qualifications and no future in fact absolutely nothing! Move forward 40 years or so and I can look back at a career path in which I have owned several small business ventures in a variety of fields including a twelve year stint building a successful haulage business from a measly $600 to a $1,600,000 turnover before selling up to go back to college to study advanced computer application programming to add to my motor vehicle engineering and transport related qualifications. A time as a non-professional motocross racer racing my own hand built machinery in the seventies and eighties to working in Formula 1, MotoGp and World Rally in a supporting role for many of the top teams and their sponsors. I have visited and driven in more than thirty countries and stayed in the best of hotels that had it not been for my job I would not have done or experienced.

I may not be a millionaire financially but I am a billionaire in the value of my experiences! Right now I am back driving a truck (or semi if your reading this in the states) I am a team leader and driver trainer for one of the UK’s leading food groups and hoping to pass on my skills as a driver so others may develop theirs further.

Am I something special? No, I certainly am not. I am no different than anyone else and I firmly believe that anyone can do what I have done and even a lot more. It all depends on how motivated you are to discover your true calling and pursue it to the level you want. There is no shame in changing direction at any point as how do we know where a path leads us until we travel it?

Am I at the end of my journey? NEVER!! Until my dying breath I will be striving to achieve, learn, be inquisitive and dream. Where will it lead me? I don’t know. But what I do know is that opportunity has to be pursued through continuous personal development. Through continuous practice of the above six core skills I have highlighted you will become a truly proficient master of your own destiny. I am in charge of my destiny and I still have a big dream so watch this space. What do you dare to dream?

Business and ‘The Power of Dreams’!

It’s a Fact ‘The Power of Dreams’ Can Help your Business!

The motor manufacturer Honda use “The Power of Dreams” in their business advertising campaigns. Most people may think that it’s just a catchy phrase but there is much more to it than that. Nearly everyone on the planet thinks in pictures and then converts it to words or speech. Words are the raw materials of thought. In the book “The Magic of Thinking Big” by David Schwartz he quotes a business associate telling him “What I want around me are people who can solve problems, who can think up ideas. I want people who can dream and develop the dream into a practical application. An idea man can make money with me, a fact man can’t”

I personally have experienced the value of the power of dreams by visualizing or imagining what I am trying to achieve in business. One such experience was when I had a transport business. I started with one truck but wanted the company to look bigger than it was to enable me to generate the discounts and also the work that larger transport companies could. Anytime I could grab a few quiet moments I tried to visualise what I wanted the trucks to look like, the colours, the livery, and the trailers they would pull and the work I wanted them to do. Eventually after some weeks I had the definitive ‘Vision’ and proceeded to apply it to the vehicles. It was an absolute success. Many people thought I had more trucks than just the five I owned mainly because of the striking ‘once seen never forgotten clean livery’ I had envisaged. Each truck was personalised with its unique name in small script on each side. Even the general public who generally hate trucks commented favourably on them. In fact how many times have you seen a bus load of pensioners queuing up to look inside a large truck? Just one of the experiences I had with one of the vehicles while in Germany.

Sometimes it takes a lot of visualisation to refine the idea but hardly without exception, the more successful projects are the ones I visualise, and they are usually far more successful than those I do not.

Generally the best results are achieved while being totally relaxed in a warm, quiet environment. Just try completely chilling out, close your eyes and visualize the idea. Focus on how you want the objective to look. Do not recognise any of the problems that stand in your way. Concentrate on the details and reverse engineer the process to find out how to do it if you have to. You may find it hard initially but practice makes perfect so never give up, just try again.

Honda knows the value of “the power of dreams” look at their technical innovations. Many other people: successful people also know the hidden power of dreams.

Try it for yourself, visualise your idea’s or business concept, write them down and modify them until you find the definitive solution. Your business marketing strategy may just take off!

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