The Work of Byron Katie can be used as a tool to challenge business assumptions.
Here, on Byron Katie’s blog we find the following business inquiry: “Having More Customers Means Having More Profits” in which a biz-dev manager starts questioning his team’s belief that “more customers equals more profit.”
The process is described as business inquiry.
Here are the manager’s conclusions: “Having fewer customers means having more profit.” “One, we could focus on the customers that have the strongest cash positions, the ones who are most likely to weather the recession.
“Two, we could stop wasting time on difficult customers, the ones that keep changing their orders. They’re very high maintenance, but we keep them because we think we need them to meet our numbers.
“And three, we could stop serving customers that don’t pay in a timely manner, the ones with poor payment history.”
More at Byron Katie’s blog >>
Gaurav Bhalla‘s latest company Knowledge Kinetics is all about getting your customers involved in value creation.
Their “Listen, Engage, Respond” solution methodology shows you how to transform your marketing (and your company).
And don’t forget to check out Gaurav Bhalla’s blog.
David Reibstein‘s theory holds true online as well. Let’s look at an example of how this works with online communities, knowledge – based communities in particular. Let’s say we build an online community around a specific topic. When the site starts up, we attract the early adopters – some of them thought leaders in their fields. The posts, articles, and debates are generally led by a handful of these thinkers, and they attract a following. The newbies, as they engage with the community start off by learning, asking questions, sometimes just lurking. The quality of these early debates is typically high and participation intense and invigorating.
So what happens when the community suddenly experiences growth – massive numbers of the hoi-pollloi descend on the site and suddenly the quality of discussions takes on a Twitter-like feel – stupid and stupider. The old school rebels, first through silence, and second by disengaging. This takeover by the wisdom of the masses can be avoided, through ruthless editorial direction and skilled moderators. And every once in while, the new participants challenge assumptions that deserve to be challenged, and are given their space in the sun.
So how do we manage this growth and stay true to the community’s intent?
Three options come to my mind:
1) Manage membership – simply keep the community at growing in a measured way – firing the “bottom” 10% each year, and bringing in a fresh crop of participants at 20%… This is the surest way to sustainable growth.
2) Create a merit-based aristocacy – with tiered membership based on the value of the participant’s contributions.
3) Create a feeder community which is built for the masses and an elite community for the thought leaders and their followers. Moderate the interaction between these groups with the possibility of upward migration based on peer-based invitations.
You’ll notice I am not advocating open communities where everyone has an equal voice. That’s because I’m not talking about social communities, but communities of practice where respect is reserved for the competent.
While newspapers and print outfits are losing their shirts all around us, the German company Axel Springer recently reported its “highest net income since the company was founded” 62 years ago.
How is this possible?
What are they doing that our friends at the NY Times aren’t?
From the NYTimes: Axel Springer generates 14 percent of its revenue online, more than most American newspapers, even though the markets in which it operates — primarily Germany and Eastern Europe — are less digitally developed than the United States.
One reason, Mr. Döpfner said, is that Axel Springer has dared to compete with itself. Instead of trying to protect existing publications, it acquired or created new ones, some of which distribute the same content to different audiences.
At one newsroom in Berlin, for example, journalists produce content for six publications: the national newspaper Die Welt, its Sunday edition and a tabloid version aimed at younger readers; a local paper called Berliner Morgenpost, and two Web sites.
Though advertising has slumped in Germany, Axel Springer has been able to offset the shortfall by raising the price of publications like Bild, which sells more than three million copies. Now Axel Springer is looking for “undervalued assets” to buy.
Mr. Döpfner said the company would even have a look in the United States “if a meaningful position arises in a significant market.”
OK. So what are newspapers in this country going to do? Stay tuned.
Have you ever used YouTube‘s “Insights: Statistics and Data” feature?
It’s a remarkable tool for effective market research in real time.
Let me walk you through how I use it to:
– test new product ideas
– learn what customers like right now
– deduce where events should be held
– learn exactly which portion of a video clip grabs audience attention
– see which topics get customers engaged and why
– learn the exact demographic profile for each product
The first thing to do is create a separate video for each product or idea you are interested in selling. If you’re selling an information product – like a video or an audio, simply use a short excerpt. Keep it under five minutes. Three minutes is optimal. Upload your clips, make them visible to the public, and watch the fun begin.
In a few days or when you get to over a thousand views, it’s time to check your YouTube Insights.
Here’s what YouTube gives you:
This summary of your results:
(1) Tells you how many views your videos are getting. This will tell you if you’re getting any attention at all.
(2) Shows you which video is getting the most attention. Now you know what your prospects like – and the margin between what’s getting attention and what’s not.
(3) Expose your real demographics. Not too fancy, but you get to see the age range your product resonates with. Every now and then I’m surprised.
(4) Identifies the regions where you are getting traction. Again, results do vary by geographic location, so you can decide if you want to spend some money to gain exposure in a particular country or state, for that matter, or if you want to focus on your natural geography – the places in which you’re getting organic attention.
Now let’s go further:
(1) View your traffic over time – days, months, a year.
(2) Sort video popularity by region – again, a handy guide to what the reaction is to your message… country by country.
(3) Details on which videos are winners and which are not. Based on this you can decide which product merits backing, and which ones need more work.
(1), (2) and (3) Which videos are getting the most traffic and from where…
(1), (2) and (3) Which countries (or states) are most receptive to your work!
(1) gives you the age breakdown for your products. Is it senior women or adolescent boys?
(1), (2) and (3) tell you which products get the most response from your prospects – positive or negative. Let’s you know early on if you need to go back to the drawing board. A quick measure of engagement.
Probably the most powerful piece of information, this tells you the level of attention – the peaks and valleys – for your work. Use it to optimize your messaging. Now you too can be a Frank Luntz (just don’t go over to the dark side).
All of this information costs nothing. And from my experience, the quality of results can’t be matched easily, not even by expensive focus groups!
Is Ratan Tata the re-incarnation of Henry Ford?
Suddenly, innovation takes a front seat in the automotive world. And it happens to be led by an Indian engineering sensibility: frugal enough to do the job. This is the type of value-engineering that shifts the mindset of an entire industry:
13 iPod Nanos = 1 Tata Nano. Which Nano do you want?
Congratulations, Ratan Tata and the Tata Motors team of engineers. Brilliant!
At first, I thought it was joke, but then, after seeing this site I wasn’t so sure:
It seemed like a spoof – note the “Clone Zone” with the “Fun Facts on Cloning.”
My hilarity turned sour when I realized they were serious.
Now I’m asking you, do you really believe the FDA when they tell you it’s safe?
Not these crooks. Obama needs to weed out the Bush appointees, quickly.
Who knows what they’ll approve next? And the worst thing, they aren’t even required to label cloned products.
Let’s hope they’re not cloning mad cows.
And who is Linda?
The Cloud will change the way you live. Everything as a service: your computing, your desktop, your life.
One of the things I like about my job is I learn about cutting edge stuff, like customer-driven innovation, intuitive intelligence, and now cloud storage strategy.
We launched the cloud storage strategy site a few days ago, and now it’s simply a matter of keeping up with ideas. The Economist for example, in their global entrepreneurship survey, tells us that: The development of “cloud computing” is giving small outfits yet more opportunity to enjoy the advantages of big organisations with none of the sunk costs. People running small businesses, whether they are in their own offices or in a hotel half-way round the world, can use personal computers or laptops to gain access to sophisticated business services.
Now that’s what we’re talking about!
The Cluetrain posse continues their journey:
1. The Internet isn’t complicated
2. The Internet isn’t a thing. It’s an agreement.
3. The Internet is stupid.
4. Adding value to the Internet lowers its value.
5. All the Internet’s value grows on its edges.
6. Money moves to the suburbs.
7. The end of the world? Nah, the world of ends.
8. The Internet’s three virtues:
a. No one owns it
b. Everyone can use it
c. Anyone can improve it
9. If the Internet is so simple, why have so many been so boneheaded about it?
10. Some mistakes we can stop making already Details >>
I wrote once on another blog, that no one has time to read Harvard Business Review, or listen to an entire music CD, or watch the whole movie.
Our attention span is somewhere between 3 to 5 minutes. And that’s the size your idea-bite has to be if you’re going get heard at all. See Twitter, YouTube, CNN, et. al. We’re getting dumber second by second by second.
How do you build a business model for short attention spans? I think this is the key challenge for online publications – from newspapers, to blogs, to forums. Perhaps the key is enticing readers to return over and over – let’s say twenty times a day! So online journals must be updated very often (compare HuffPost with the NYTimes) with corresponding micro-blogging on the same topics.
And the revenue will come not for selling ads, but selling products and services. And sometimes, you may just sell them the longer version of your story.
The points raised by Anil Gupta and Haiyan Wang in their book – Getting China and India Right: Strategies for Leveraging the World’s Fastest Growing Economies for Global Advantage are echoed in this BusinessWeekarticle by Gunjan Bagla and Atul Goel.
So are things slowing down with the global recession? Here’s what they say: We believe there may be a temporary hiccup in R&D globalization, caused primarily by companies freezing in their tracks as they reassess the new financial realities. But as soon as they rebuild their product road maps, nimble companies will actually accelerate their globalization efforts, pushed harder by tight budgets and the realization that the old ways can be disastrous.
Next up: What’s up with Dubai?
Will Newsweek be able to compete against the Economist?
That’s what they’re betting on, apparently.
The goal is to turn Newsweek into an opinion-based “thought leader” with branded journalists like Fareed Zakaria, Christopher Hitchens, and that fossil of a conservative, George Will. So we’ll see lots more trash-talking and provocation.
While this is a step in the right direction, I think they’ll really have to worry about low-cost, online disruptors like HuffPost, DailyKos, and The Week, as well as established institutions like The Atlantic and The New Yorker.
The makeover is supposed to gain them mindshare and, ahem, walletshare. Where have we heard that before?
What they’re missing is a daily view of their ecosystem. I’ll get into that in a separate entry on ecosystemwatch.com. And as I tell my clients, thought-leaders do dominate in ecosystem competition, so the Newsweek strategy does make sense.
What I don’t see any mention of is value-co-creation with its readers. And their revenue model is still based on advertising. Even the Economist knows that to make money you’ve got to sell those country reports, the surveys, books, and conferences.
Finally, I hope they’ve thought about video – online video – as another key ingredient which makes online news attention-worthy.
To get a better idea of what it’s like to live on a food stamp budget, CNN’s Sean Callebs decided to eat for a month on $176 and blog about it >>
What is depressing is the rising number of people going hungry in this, the “land of plenty.”
I’m just sick at the Republicans – first they get us in this mess, then they go obstruct everything. Their idea of a stimulus is more tax cuts for their friends who live in the top 2% – otherwise, nix!
The Republican party stands for one thing: lies and more lies. And the corporate media is just as guilty.
More here about what life is like for an increasing number of people on Main Street>>
I think we’ve finally hit the wall in terms of design.
Whether you’re designing a product, a service, or a website, the designer has to make their work relevant to the buyer in ways they may not have considered before this recession. Here’s what I mean. Your offering is no longer competing for attention or even price. It is competing on usefulness and time to value.
The question you have to answer is this: Why will this product/service help me now, and how fast can I see results?
And, two – “How can I justify spending any money on this at all?”
Three: “What’s the risk for me (and my money)?”
Pretty simple, but your survival as a company may just depend on answering those three questions properly.
So Hyundai designs a car which says, buy it, use it, and we’ll take it back – if you can’t pay because you lost your job. The policy allows people to return vehicles in the first 12 months if they can’t make payments due to job loss and Hyundai covers depreciation. In essence, Hyundai is eliminating your risk.
Consider a small business in today’s economy. Why would they spend money on anything but the essentials? So who needs MS Office when you can use Google Docs? Who needs a Mac when a netbook will help you get by? Who needs office space when you can work from home? Who needs to fly when you can Skype it in? Who needs to buy when you can rent? It’s not about how much the website costs, rather, it’s about how fast will I make money from the website? Why do press releases when you can blog?
It’s value time, period. Show me, don’t tell me.
One last thing, why should I trust you? Are you trustworthy? Is your product/service trustworthy? Maybe trust goes beyond the product/service. It lies in the concrete actions you take to actually help your customer. Have you ever thought of helping someone out who is not your customer?
Here comes the next wave of hyper-disruption: the $10 laptop.
Are your ready Dell, HP, Apple? Are you ready Microsoft?
As we saw in Getting India and China Right, by Anil Gupta and Haiyan Wang, China and India are not going to be content simply filling out orders for low-cost products. They are also going to be springboards for innovation and disruptive products and services.
When I was growing up in India, there was a rule of thumb we followed which said that anything made in India should sell for 10 times the amount in the West and vice-versa. Looks like that rule still applies!
I’m still somewhat skeptical, but hey, it’s coming. If not tomorrow, then soon.
The point is this: every assumption we have about price limits and barriers needs to be challenged. If we don’t challenge them, Chindia will.
The Asus Bamboo PC is here, supposedly.
Asus is advertising it, even linking to Amazon, where it seems like they’re not quite ready for it.
My cynical side sees this is the latest in the greenwashing movement in the high-tech industry. If they’re serious, however, I applaud them.
Here’s how ASUS puts it: ASUS has created a strategy dubbed the “4 Green Home Runs” to deliver greener products for the consumer. The “Green Home Runs” are Green Design, Green Manufacturing, Green Procurement and Green Service and Marketing.
OK, let’s do it – a green value-chain! I just hope we don’t learn later that they’re clearing Giant Panda habitat to make PC covers. Geek info:ASUS U6V-V1-Bamboo 12.1-Inch Laptop (2.53 GHz Intel T9400 Processor, 4 GB RAM, 320 GB Hard Drive, Nvidia 9300M GS Graphics, Vista Business)
BTW, Bamboo is pretty nifty and is definitely one of those “sustainable products for our future.”
Even as Jeff Jarvis‘ What Would Google Do? hits the market, there’s another side of Google we should be aware of. Michael Arrington has posted a thread from former-Google employees talking about why they left. Sure, disgruntled employees are not always fair and balanced, but it’s interesting to learn that Google does have issues with management, bureaucracy, low pay, poor mentoring, and all the other foibles of corporate stupidity.
So what will Google do about it? Let’s watch.
One of the spin-offs from war is technology which leads to new products in the private sector. This is not a new phenomenon, simply the way it is.
For example, “a scientific method that has been used to track the source of illegal drugs, explosives, counterfeit bills and biological warfare agents may have some new uses: detecting rapidly growing cancers and studying obesity and eating disorders.” See story >>
But this story stopped me in my tracks. The future of war is R2RC – Robot to Robot Combat.
Are you ready for this?
The result? War becomes even more abstracted, more marketable, and more tempting.
Pierre “eBay” Omidyar’s new startup.
“Ginx is a Twitter client that aims to provide Twitter users with a rich experience for sharing and discussing links. Ginx was created to enable people to become more actively engaged in the news and topics they care about.”
Read Omidyar’s press release >>
Prediction: 2009 will get “greenwashing” companies into hot water.
The danger in cause-related marketing is that it causes more harm to a company than good, especially when companies get involved in less than good faith.
The science of shopping?
The article should’ve been called mind control in your local supermarket.
I agree with this: “despite all the new technology, simply talking to consumers remains one of the most effective ways to improve the ‘customer experience’.”
Too bad we can’t spend the same kind of money on research figuring out the best way to teach Johnny how to read, write and do arithmetic…
Here’s “Mind Control” from Stephen Marley:
What appetite drives the proliferation of music to the point where the average American teenager spends 1½-2½ hours a day—an eighth of his waking life—listening to it? Why music?
My answer – Steel Pulse’sChant a Psalm:
1.) It will be a big year for applications that can play on big screens.
2.) The big news in the mobile world will be smart phone applications.
3.) The blush is off the China rose.
4.) Flash-based computing will really take off.
5.) Wall computing gets traction.
6.) Carry-along computers will be hot.
7.) LTE (Long Term Evolution) will be the preferred technology for 4G.
8.) The less developed world will finally see widespread availability of broadband.
9.) Voice recognition will finally work right.
10.) The Internet Assistant will be born.
Don’t ask me, I’m simply reporting what Mark Anderson’s saying.
The one I’m certain about is the “carry-along” computer. I want real laptop computing in the size of a Penguin paperback. Are you listening, Apple?
One of my pet peeves with the Girl Scouts of America is their exploitation of children:
“…they have to sell 40 boxes of cookies at $3.00 apiece just to make $20.00. The other $2.50 goes to the Girl Scout Organization.” What a rip-off.
Instead of selling cookies, the Girl Scouts troops should be selling these. And keeping the PCs.
Why can’t www.laptop.org donate or sell PCs to poor schools in the US as well as the rest of the world? C’mon St. Nicholas (Negroponte)!