sb77 over 3 years ago
Click here to check if anything new just came in.
February 10 2015
Technology & customer power
It is a very different world from that of the 20th century, and one that is moving ever more quickly in the direction of customer empowerment. Just consider for a moment the ongoing technological trends and drivers:
- the availability of technologies (service-oriented architectures andthe like) that do away with the tyranny of siloed legacy systems;
- the accelerating convergence of devices such as the PC, TV andmobile phone;
- the availability of software-as-a-service;
- the socially revolutionary effects of Web 2.0;
- new kinds of device connectivity to give access to new services
(such as telematics: why shouldn’t a specially tagged undershirt
recognize when a patient’s heart rate or blood pressure move out
of acceptable ranges, and send a signal to the doctor?)
Growing up with all of these technologies, the child of the internet generation has an understanding of the customer’s importance to any enterprise. Anyone born earlier has to make the conscious mental adjustment
From Creating and Delivering Your Value Proposition - Cindy Barnes, Helen Blake, David Pinder
Excerpt from Creating and Delivering Your Value Proposition - Cindy Barnes, Helen Blake, David Pinder
So much this:
Customer primacy was bubbling up in the second half of the 20th
century, when its most active supporters were not in the United States
or Europe, but in Japan. In the late 20th century, Mr Taiichi Ohno,
the genius behind the Toyota lean manufacturing system, said: ‘All we
are doing is looking at the timeline from the moment the customer
gives us an order to the point when we collect the cash. And we are
reducing that timeline by removing the non-value-added wastes.’4
A huge amount of wisdom is packed into those few words. It’s what
enabled Toyota to achieve customer focus and, in 2007, to become the
world’s No. 1 automotive manufacturer.
But, if you have been brought up in a Western-style consumer
society, you may not have thought through the reality or implications
of client/customer ascendancy. That is not meant in a critical sense. 12 Creating and delivering your value proposition
It’s just that you may well automatically accept the old client/customer
proposition that has now passed its sell-by date. Yes, you may
understand that information and communications technology has
enabled globalization, so that competitors are able to strike from
anywhere in the world, and quickly produce me-too offerings. Yes,
you may understand that the old sources of industrial strength have
evaporated. Yes, you may recognize that new technologies and new
competition have handed power to clients/customers, giving them
greater choice and the ability to exercise that choice. Yes, you may
accept that all of this has altered, and continues to alter, our world
in astonishing ways. But the old beat-up-on-the-customer model is
so embedded in our cultures and our mental models that mentally
and emotionally you still may not have taken on board the absolute
outcome of these shifts.”
February 05 2015
“ Facing the truth – that the world visits violence and poverty and discrimination upon people capriciously, with little regard for what they’ve done to deserve it – is much scarier. Because, if there’s no good explanation for why any specific person is suffering, it’s far harder to escape the frightening conclusion that it could easily be you next. ”— Believing that life is fair makes you a terrible person | Oliver Burkeman | Comment is free | The Guardian
February 04 2015
“ I was struck by how the descriptions of psychedelic journeys differed from the typical accounts of dreams. For one thing, most people’s recall of their journey is not just vivid but comprehensive, the narratives they reconstruct seamless and fully accessible, even years later. They don’t regard these narratives as “just a dream,” the evanescent products of fantasy or wish fulfillment, but, rather, as genuine and sturdy experiences. This is the “noetic” quality that students of mysticism often describe: the unmistakable sense that whatever has been learned or witnessed has the authority and the durability of objective truth. “You don’t get that on other drugs,” as Roland Griffiths points out; after the fact, we’re fully aware of, and often embarrassed by, the inauthenticity of the drug experience. ”— The Trip Treatment - The New Yorker
February 02 2015
“ General Electric is a well-known source of managerial talent, and its alumni are disproportionately represented among CEOs in the S&P 500. Groysberg and his colleagues tracked the performance of twenty managers from GE that other organizations hired as chairman, CEO, or CEO-designate between 1989 and 2001. They found a stark dichotomy. Ten of the hiring companies resembled GE, so the skills of the executives were neatly transferable and the companies flourished. The other ten companies were in lines of business different from GE. For example, one GE executive went to a company selling groceries, whereas his experience had been in selling appliances. Even with a GE-trained executive at the helm, those companies delivered poor returns to shareholders. Again, developing skill is a genuine achievement. And skill, once developed, has a real influence on what we can do and how successful we are. But skill is only one factor that contributes to the end result of our efforts. The organization or environment in which a CEO works also has an influence. The evidence shows that employers systematically overestimate the power of an individual’s skill and underestimate the influence of the organization in which he or she operates ”— Michael J. Mauboussin. “The Success Equation: Untangling Skill and Luck in Business, Sports, and Investing.”
February 01 2015
January 30 2015
January 28 2015
January 27 2015
January 23 2015
"Put another way, in 2014 iOS app developers earned more than Hollywood did from box office in the US."
January 15 2015
Why I like Soylent (and examine.com)
Chris Dixon absolutely nails it in this post, and not just talking about Soylent but also about the idea of products by/for online communities.
Soylent is a community of people who are enthusiastic about using science to improve food and nutrition. The company makes money selling one version of that improved food (some users buy “official Soylent,” others buy ingredients to make their own DIY Soylent recipe). If you look at Soylent as just a food company, you misjudge the core of the company, the same way you would if you looked at GoPro as just a camera company.
It’s not just that investors don’t understand or appreciate the power of online communities, most marketers and companies don’t really understand how communities form, what unites them, how they communicate or recognise when and how opinion shifts.
Many investors decided not to invest in GoPro because they saw it as a camera company, and camera companies generally get quickly commoditized. However, investors who properly understood GoPro saw it primarily as a highly engaged community of sports enthusiasts, something that is very hard for competitors to replicate.
It reminds me exactly of why I love examine.com and all the time and effort that’s been put into distinguishing fact from fiction, collating all the research and RCTs and especially results in humans and their significance. Examine.com and Soylent (and places like Reddit nutrition) might be talking to a very small group of people who absolutely love nerding over what goes into their bodies, but that’s the beauty of online companies (who also do their marketing and advertising online) over traditional ones - their narrow interests and being helped with a product or service that will make them disproportionately happy:
Traditional food companies are primarily marketing and distribution companies. They blanket the earth with advertising and fight to distribute their products as widely as possible (while blocking the distribution of competing products).
As far as advertising goes at least, most companies and their ‘mission statements’ are at best bland and at worst absolute bullshit used to fill up space. However, at Poke we simply believe in making things better & making better things.
Traditional companies and marketing come from a world where you made whatever it is you were good at and used your budget to push out that message. Lovers of Sun Tzu style strategy and the last 20 years of business school thinking seem to be under the impression that modern marketing is about always being cleverer than the competition (or driving them out of business), which just ends up being detrimental to the people you’re supposed to be serving. There’s been no room to ‘make better things’ from scratch.
What investors can probably get onboard with is that it’s a cut-throat world out there and that results and profits are the things that ultimately matter to them - but it’s a much harder job these days to get through them through sheer brute force.
January 06 2015
Today in tabs I need to close:
- Like Unilever asking why bring a baby into this world, Fisher Price filmed the first born babies of 2015 to film an ad
- Fab CEO and Twitter shareholder Jason Goldberg goes on a 44-tweet tweetstorm that culminates in his recommendation for Twitter going forward
- Nesta has a new magazine called The Long+Short. This issue is about labs and there’s an interesting post on the emergence of non-scientific labs and RCTs in ad agencies, policy centres and many other places.
- GfK concludes most people seem to think that sleeping and ‘eating healthy foods’ contributes to physical health. The problem is most healthy-looking foods are not foods you should binge on in the first place (and don’t address the problem of getting the right balance of macronutrients). It also doesn’t help if people eat products with ‘health claims’ like “all natural” granola bars…with 20g of sugar in one pop.
- My boss Nik Roope wrote a LinkedIn post about how to create the right environment for potent creativity.
- Jason Calacanis thinks firing Marissa Mayer would be a huge mistake. She’s been under a lot of fire in the New York Times recently so he took the time to debunk some of the allegations and remind people why she’s on track.
January 05 2015
January 04 2015
January 03 2015
Branding woes: what problems do Fitbit, Jawbone and other activity trackers solve and who are they for?
At work were recently invited to pitch to a wearable device manufacturer with a camera and recording functionality (which shall not be named) and struggled with the question of selling point for a while: from a legal and consumer perspective, what is the proposition (i.e. promise)? Or in even simpler terms, what are you helping people with?
That’s one of the fundamental questions of branding, marketing and communications. What a device does is not necessarily the thing you want to or can advertise to people for a multitude of reasons.
There’s a long and interesting investigation into wearable activity trackers by BuzzFeed:
Fitbit told me that third-party tests have confirmed that its trackers are the “most consistently accurate activity trackers on the market”; Jawbone says the UP is intended to function as “an overall lifestyle tracker” with a goal to “really understand your baseline, and discover things you might not have known, so you can start to make decisions.”)
Fitbits and Jawbones sell well, but “decay levels,” to use Gandhi’s words, are high, and customer satisfaction, even gleaned from Amazon review pages, is relatively low: The Fitbit Flex and Jawbone UP24 are currently rated 3.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon.
The reason these devices don’t routinely score raves is because they lack a clear promise that they can in turn fulfil. “When you look at the marketing for these step counters, it’s very broad and aspirational,” Gandhi explained. “If you go and read the five-star reviews of Fitbit, they’re largely about losing weight, but if you read their public marketing, Fitbit still has this aspiration of being more of a health and wellness brand than weight loss.”
You will never find a review for Jawbone or Fitbit that says ‘works as advertised’ because no one knows what they’re advertising.”
There are many things happening in the wearable space that are interesting from a communications or marketing perspective. Peter F. Drucker said in 1955, ‘the purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer.’ A lot have been created as far as we can tell, but what for and whether they’ll be staying is a different problem.
If no one knows what you’re advertising but they bought the product anyway, it leads to a lot of possibilities, to name a few:
- The people who aren’t the audience you intended are now using your thing (for its original, intended purpose). It’s great that they found it without being advertised to directly, but raises all sorts of interesting questions for your business model and whom you should decide to focus on next; who are they, how did they find you and are they the people you want in the future? Are they even likely to stay with you? Sometimes this is deliberate (also known as an influencer strategy, whereby the person it’s intended for is not the person advertised to - e.g. advertising Old Spice to women to get the men in their lives to use it) but when it’s not there are some juicy research questions to be answered.
- The people who are the intended audience are using it, but not for what you want (or designed it for or thought they needed); if you’re not speaking to them right now to figure out what they’reusing it for, you’d better hurry up. This should help inform, not guide, future actions and communications. If people have discovered a way of using the thing that you don’t condone, it can give a way in to others just like them: they’ve got a use case that is extremely personal and relevant, there are more like them out there, and even better, that’s the key: to make a small audience or market disproportionately happy with your service.
- Another one is that the audience you intended it for is using it for the right reasons, but probably not as often as you’d like them to. There’s a bit of the first case scenario in here as well: the judgement may have been wrong from the outset and it turns out they’re not the heaviest users. Alternatively they could be heavier users but they just haven’t figured out how. If the ‘thing’ is being used out of the box with not much guidance, setup or on-boarding then people are missing out on features they don’t know they have; you might be getting ‘meh’ reviews or not generating a lot of enthusiasm. The good news is there’s a lot that can be fixed here (especially through relevant messaging).
In superficial terms for the sake of argument, the Fitbit promises 'the most accurate tracking', which could suggest it’s aimed at people already into the idea of tracking, solving a problem of inaccurate tracking from other devices, e.g. hard to understand metrics (Nike Fuelband) or imperfect technology (mobile apps reliant on having a phone on you). It can help ‘make fitness fun’ (looping into an existing habit but suggesting it’s for people who are not fitness inclined) or let you ‘take charge and energise your day’ (addressing some of the symptoms but not the source itself).
In just as superficial terms, the Jawbone promises to ‘show you things you didn’t know’ about yourself, which suggests it’s aimed at the kind of people who might be making health and lifestyle commitments (e.g. losing weight, exercising more, being in better health - see How fast you’ll abandon your New Year’s Resolutions on FiveThirtyEight). A sizeable audience, but with goals and paths to those goals so different your work has only just begun the moment you landed that customer.
This brings you to the second key question: what sort of people are you for?
In discussing the characteristics of monopolies, Peter Thiel noted that companies with large cash flows far into the future “usually share some combination of the following characteristics: proprietary technology, network effects, economies of scale, and branding.”
Branding (also in superficial terms) happens when the answer to the previous two questions is clear in everybody’s minds. Do mainstream wearable devices have branding? I seriously question that at the moment. Skinny Bitch Collective and Barry’s Bootcamp have branding that the gym round the corner from you doesn’t have (you know where you stand with them). Wearable devices don’t yet - Beats has more branding in the world of headphones and laptops than all wearable devices put together.
Maybe Soup is currently being updated? I'll try again automatically in a few seconds...