redline™ online - our very first article

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Welcome to redline™ online. Not only can you now read our articles online, but you can also select the topic area that most interests you (see Labels) and view related articles.

redline™ online also allows you to comment on the features and discuss topics with other readers too, such as how do you create a winning business?

Every business owner wants to be successful. We’ve talked to some of New Zealand’s most successful companies and asked them to spill the beans as to how they got to the top.

Please subscribe if you would like to receive redline™ magazine in the post, or update your contact details if applicable.
In the current economic climate safeguarding your business is key.

Is your business doing really well? If so, we’d like to know. Tell us why and how your business is winning, and we'll share your secrets of success with other redline™ readers*.

Email the redline editor, or add your comment below.

*By submitting your feedback you consent to this information being published on redline™ online and in the redline™ magazine.
In the face of an economic picture that seems bleak, here’s a bit of good news. If you’re proactive and practical, not only can your business survive this downturn, but you could also come out of it stronger than before.

It might sound unreasonable to expect a business to do anything more than scrape through but research shows that downturns create opportunities. In the last downturn, business analysts saw 20% of market-leading companies fall to the bottom, and 24% of businesses near the bottom leap to the top!

What did those winning businesses have in common? Essentially, it boils down to three key ingredients – Cash, Customers and Confidence.

Cash: budget and forecast so you can understand your revenue peaks and troughs, and prepare for your financial obligations, such as tax. Scrutinise costs. Chase debtors rigorously.

Customers: recognise and reward your best customers. Ask for referrals. Contact lapsed customers. Actively look for new customers. Use every communication as a chance to sell.

Confidence: positivity attracts! Boldly reassess how you do things – look for ways to improve and grow. Focus on your core business. Know what customers value, and deliver on it every time. Think laterally about opportunities and go for them.
Creating customer loyalty is important if you’re serious about growing your business.

Here are a few ideas about how you can hold onto your customers:
  • Unbeatable products and services– create customer satisfaction through quality products and services as well as good value prices.
  • Customer incentives – customers come back for freebies, special offers, discounts and competitions. It’s no coincidence that most major companies, including retailers, airlines and energy companies offer loyalty schemes where customers earn points they can redeem for rewards.
  • Create goodwill – you can generate loyalty by sponsoring local sporting events, social clubs or schools/educational programmes.
  • Support good works – social responsibility is a powerful loyalty builder. Take this example: customers of a children’s clothing company receive a 20% discount off their next purchase when they return clothing their children have outgrown or finished with. The company then sends these items to needy children.
  • Offer a money back guarantee – stand behind your product and reap the rewards of trust. If your customer doesn’t trust you or can’t get their money back from a faulty item they won’t be back.
  • Know your gold customers – and treat them best of all. The top 20% of your customers can contribute 80% of your sales.
  • Make it easy for your customers to buy from you – for example, websites with online ordering facilities make your products and services available to your customers round the clock.
  • Talk to your customers – send personalised thank you notes, Christmas cards, service reminders and product news.
  • Listen to your customers – find out what your customers want and give it to them.
Source: The Small Business Company.
Just how do you make a good business great? We've talked to some of New Zealand’s winning businesses to find out how they’re making it to the top.

Palliser Estate Winery
Sheer hard work and perseverance is behind the success of this award-winning Martinborough wine maker.

According to Palliser Estate Managing Director, Richard Riddiford, “you have to stick to your knitting if you want to succeed. Building brands and creating distribution networks doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and dedication.”

Quality products
“Producing a quality product is also important, no matter what market you’re in. For us, the world is full of good wine, so we’ve had to produce wine that’s excellent.”

Good people
“You also need good people. Here, we have a small, committed team that’s been together for a long time.”

Richard adds that having a no debt policy has also helped. “Cash is king,” he says.

Palliser Estate Winery is the 2008 winner of the prestigious New Zealand Post Wellington Exporter of the Year Award.

Torpedo 7
Torpedo 7 founders, Guy Howard-Willis and his son Luke, put the phenomenal success of their online bikes and bike accessories business partly down to “great timing”.

“Internet shopping is still quite new in New Zealand but after researching the extent of online retailing overseas, we decided to offer bike products online – and it really took off,” Guy Howard-Willis explains.

“The demand for buying from e-stores is certainly here but you have to make sure you offer quality products at good prices. You also need excellent customer service – our customers are really impressed by speedy, next day deliveries, our easy returns process and being able to contact our customer help desk to place orders or ask questions.”

Manage growth
Torpedo 7 has been in the top 10 of the Deloitte/Unlimited Fast 50 for three consecutive years, with growth peaking at an outstanding 962% in 2006 (and reaching 570% in 2007). “Managing this level of growth in just four years has been an issue in itself, but fortunately we have a great managerial team and nearly 70 passionate staff to get us through,” says Guy Howard-Willis.

Maintain success
Keen to maintain its success, Torpedo 7 has recently increased its product range to include motorcross, snowboarding and adventure accessories. And, having listened to its customers, the company has also introduced a women’s range of products.
Safeguard your existing customers and generate more business from your mail campaign with New Zealand Post’s mailing lists.

Don’t lose your customers - keep your database up-to-date using New Zealand Post’s Change of Address and ChangeMyAddress. When you want to grow your business, we have several quality address lists to help you effectively target your mail campaign, whether you want to contact consumers across the nation, rural businesses, PO Box holders or people who have just moved home.
Creative direct mail (DM) ideas can help sales for big and small clients alike.

When advertising agency Y&R came up with an innovative DM idea to show that Microsoft’s Windows Server 2008 was serious about security threats, they needed New Zealand Post’s help to make the campaign work.

Y&R asked if they could send a live virus in a Petri dish through the mail. Our initial reaction was one of caution until we investigated further and found that the virus was harmless (it came from cheese). We then developed a sticker saying so, letting our delivery team know that it was safe to handle.

As a result, 1200 IT Managers were sent the live virus through the post, generating a 170% response rate. Microsoft saw a 65% increase in sales and Y&R were recognised for their creativity.

Start to creatively think about how you can maximise sales with your next DM idea.
Most companies tend to export their products once they have cracked the home market. But not Palliser Estate Winery, winner of the 2008 New Zealand Post Wellington Exporter of the Year Award, whose wine has been exported since day one.

“I always knew that the future for New Zealand wine lay in the overseas markets,” explains Managing Director, Richard Riddiford, “and I remember our first export of 50 cases in 1991 to the UK well.”

Richard knew then that sales of his wines would be held back if he limited his products to New Zealand. For example, Palliser Estate’s target of 5% of all wine drinkers is far higher in London than here in New Zealand.

“We started exporting early on also because it generally takes a good five years to get exporting working well,” Richard says. “To succeed at export a winery must have sensible pricing. You have got to persevere and you have to understand foreign exchange.”

Today, Palliser Estate exports over 65% of its Palliser and Pencarrow brands to 25 different countries.

Export the easy way
It doesn’t matter what you export or where you export, New Zealand Post can help your business. Just take a look at our range of international services:
The Wellington Export Awards recognise the extraordinary innovation, vision and efforts that exporters in the region have demonstrated in taking their products and services to global markets.

Nominations for this year’s awards close in June. The Awards ceremony is likely to take place in September.

For more information and exact dates email Charles Broad, or contact him by phone on 04 938 7140.
A good website can enhance a customer’s experience, whereas a website that is hard to navigate can be frustrating. How does your website measure up?

We asked David Kelly, Chief Executive of website design and e-business company, why do some websites succeed and others fail?

“The main difference between websites that work and those that don’t is the knowledge of the business owner or manager. If a website is failing, it is often because the owner or manager doesn’t understand the key fundamentals of a successful website. These are visitors - the number of people who visit your website and the conversion rate - the percentage of visitors that buy something from you or make an enquiry.”

“If you really want a website that generates amazing results, you need to understand the importance of the two ‘P’s of website success - promotion and persuasion.”

“The amount of people visiting your website is directly determined by your website promotion and the percentage of those that take action is directly determined by how persuasive your website is.”

“If your website ‘promotion’ is poor, then very few people will visit. If your website is not ‘persuasive’ then very few people will be persuaded to take action.”

Free: is currently offering business owners a free Website Audit (worth $497.00), plus the opportunity of attending one of its free seminars on the Secrets of Website Persuasion.

For more information and to register for these complimentary offers, visit or email
Successful websites need to offer good products at good prices and good customer service. This typically comes down to providing reasonable delivery times, charges and, importantly, a good returns policy.

“Reverse logistics can be a challenge for many internet businesses looking for a simple, cost-effective solution for customers to return parcels if they need to,” says Michael Stewart, Marketing Manager for New Zealand Post’s ParcelPost™ products.

ParcelPost™ Returns
“Some companies might be prepaying return postage whether an item is returned or not, but with our ParcelPost™ Returns service postage is only charged once an item has actually been returned.”

Michael also offers this advice to companies looking at different distribution options: “Avoid hidden charges for fuel and for Saturday and rural delivery. Find a supplier with fixed rates for urban and rural areas instead. Pay for what you need and what meets your and your customers’ needs – nothing more. You may be able to trade speed for price, if price is more important to your customers than speed. And always consider the option of posting goods.”