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    Against the odds
    James Dyson
    Orion Business Books, 1997

    “…no one, these days, can be arsed with the intellectual open-mindedness it takes for a Renaissance.” James Dyson

    James Dyson is an inventor, innovator, entrepreneur and artist. However, he is best known for an ingenious product that, in the UK at least, has made him a household name – the Dyson Dual Cyclonic vacuum cleaner.

    Dyson’s experience, a 14 year journey from invention to market success, is one of depressing similarity to many Australian technology developers: rejection by the big companies, little or no financial support, overdrafts of titanic proportions and several moments of personal crisis.

    But unlike many great and well known Australian inventors, such as David Warren and Neville Thiele, who were respectively responsible for the invention of the Black Box In-Flight Recorder and for modern speaker design, and who never received a cent of profit for either of their industry changing innovations, Dyson was able to create a revolutionary appliance (re-shaping a mature market, then and still largely controlled by multi-national heavyweights) and also profit from his “doggedness” (a self proclaimed trait), creating a global company with a $300m turnover.

    Dyson’s Against the odds is inspiring. It is not as hair-raising as Richard Branson’s Losing my Virginity, nor as emotively compelling as Sahar and Bobby Hashimi’s Anyone can do it: Building Coffee Republic from our kitchen table (to name just two equally successful English and enthralling entrepreneurial autobiographers). However, as far as non-fictional tales of rags-to-riches entrepreneurial success go, Against the odds is a compelling read. More importantly, Dyson’s story goes to prove that a great inventor and designer, with enough passion and perseverance, can also become a great success in business – an attitude which has yet to infect most Australian financial and policy decision makers.

    The Leaky Funnel
    Hugh Macfarlane
    Bookman, 2004

    “… an idea is not valuable until it has been shared.” Hugh MacFarlane.

    MacFarlane tells the story of a fictional plastic bead manufacturer called HardBits to demonstrate a valuable lesson in marketing — Good companies build needs. Poor companies pitch products. And in the process, he creates a consulting methodology that can be replicated by almost any company.

    The journey of the HardBits Executive Team, each created to represent a corporate function (and often a workplace stereotype), is structured to highlight and hopefully resolve a common business dilemma – how to plug a leaky sales funnel (how to stop the progressive loss of potential customers over time as they migrate from a “lead” to a paying client).

    The answer, according to MacFarlane, is to integrate sales and marketing.

    MacFarlane turns traditional sales and marketing logic on its head, suggesting that the Sales/Marketing function of any business should build its activities around the buyer, and not the sales cycle. While this may seem common sense, it flies against the general practice of most sales people, who spend their time trying to convince the potential buyer that the solution offered is the best available at that time, rather than focusing on the buyer’s problem from the outset, and developing an appropriate solution

    This means that marketing professionals should not only spend their time developing leads for the sales people to close, but also recycling the leakage from failed sales by gaining a better understanding of the buyer’s needs.

    MacFarlane would be the first to admit none of his strategies is original. However, what MacFarlane does is create a framework – a model that can be quantified and measured. MacFarlane, in fact, has followed his own advice. While acknowledging all his sources of information, he has positioned himself to offer something both original and useful to his customer (the reader) – a consulting methodology that can be replicated.

    For further information, visit www.mathmarketing.com