Destined to Fail: The Inevitable Gap Between Start-Ups and Creative Contractors for Writing or Web Design

Medium had an insightful article from a writer who contracted with a tech start-up to create content.  The start up needed editorial content to differentiate themselves from the market.  The experienced writer – with almost no experience in that particular industry – needed SOME concrete framework and direction to write about given very little understanding of the company’s products.  Here’s a what she was up against:

I worked as a Content Writer for a Start-up Company. The agreement was 10 hours per week on a contractual basis. After about a month of working, this was the end result. In my final response to him I wrote….

We agreed that you would give me the topics and I would write about them. Later I stated that as I grew in the field I wouldn’t need as much direction. I never gave any indication that I was an expert on (undisclosed underdeveloped industry), or that I had any experience in it whatsoever.

Source: Dear Start-up—A Contractor is a Contractor, A Writer is a Writer, and a Manifesto is a Manifesto

I’ve been in both positions.   As a manager in various start-ups, it’s not just that you don’t have the time, resources or established internal operations to “handle” needs – it’s that sometime you yourself don’t know what you need.  It’s a start-up.  You haven’t worked everything out yet.

It’s probably easier for the existing founders to write things up themselves than spend 20 hours educating the contractor on what they need.  But they usually don’t have time for that and thus contract others to handle what something they see as a “fix” until they get big enough to hire people who can do this full time.  They may have an investor or key manager who insist they “need” these articles so they have it to reference in meetings or something.  No one sees it much different that than the copier paper they need at Staples.

It doesn’t excuse putting the contractor in a no win situation, but entrepreneurs get to where they are by wading into unknown waters hoping they’ll figure it on the way.  They erroneously think everyone has this innate ability.  Unfortunately it leaves everyone else to either fight their way upstream to survive, or they sink in the undercurrents of risk inherent to these endeavors.  Unless the contractor KNOWS how suddenly become part of the start-up to fill in these blanks.

As a contractor, I’ve been been in this writer’s shoes many times.  Sometimes it is in precisely this kind of content creation scenario.  More often it’s in web design or a financial model.   As you flesh out the details in fulfilling your assignment – what you find is that the start-up themselves haven’t thought through not only the particulars needed to complete the work, but often details THAT IMPACT the very business model, marketing position or direction of the company.

As someone who has successfully raised money from dozens of business plans, it is almost certain the start-up themselves truly don’t know everything they need to complete one.  They’ve justifiably been spending all of their time developing or testing their new product and scrambling for people and money just to get where they are.

WHAT MOST START UPS DON’T REALIZE IS THAT WITHOUT THE PROPER RESEARCH OF THEIR MARKET / COMPETITORS AND MARKET ACCEPTANCE TESTING – THEY MAY BE SPENDING ALL OF THEIR EFFORT IN THE MOST INEFFECTIVE AREAS NEEDED TO SUCCEED.

Invariably someone hasn’t figured out not just the price point of their product that will gain immediate acceptance, but a price point which will provide enough cash flow (or proof of concept) to ensure they will reach their next stage.  For instance, if the price is too high too few new clients may try it – no matter how good it is – giving competitors who already “own” existing clients the chance to create a similar product and shut off the novelty of the start-up’s differentiation.  These are critical things.

This writer’s dilemma is common.  In her case, it’s apparent the start-up doesn’t even perceive themselves what their differentiating value is to their end customer.  Is it price?  Is it lower costs of maintenance?  Does it cure cancer or make bald men attractive?  How could they not already know this before hiring a writer?

Because I’ve started numerous companies in everything from software technology to cow manure energy (literally), as I have taken on these contract jobs I find they need more strategic planning and positioning than what they THINK they need in publication editorials, website (or even logo/brand) design or a business plan to raise money.

I’m fortunate in that I had a mentor that hand held me through the SEVEN INDISPENSABLE FUNCTIONS OF A START UP BUSINESS and have both succeed and failed at implementing them.

The good news for the contractor – is that by using someone like us, they can actually ADD value to their services.  Either through introduction (with finder’s fee privileges) or in private labeling services like ours and renegotiating their scope of work and pay.  It’s not the first time I started a project and ended up with a call that went something like this:

Me: I’ve gotten a bit deeper into this assignment and I think I’ve discovered something that will save you enormous headaches down the road and maybe increase the value of your company.

Client: What’s that?

Me: Your inability to already articulate your market value propositions will not only hurt you if you publish this content in the long run – it may leave you without the ammunition you need to lock up the bigger investment sources you’ve talked about.

Client: You can do that?

Me: Yes.

Client: How much does it cost?

Me: About 4 to 6 weeks and probably around $10,000 dollars or more.  Let’s get a thorough understanding of precisely the dollar volume of your market, to a quick study of how many clients would adopt your product at the current prices you have and determine if the product values will support that. If they do, you can tell your investors you’ve done an actual market study and built a marketing model that should achieve a 1% market penetration in 2 years MORE than justifying their investment.  What do you say?

Client: (dead air)

Me:  Hello?  Is anyone there?

Which brings us to either the money or client’s ego problem.   Hence the reason 90% of start-ups don’t exist 3 to 5 years after they’re started.

The good news is that if contractors can provide these insights – they no longer are paid for just their technical skills and can often get more immediate compensation or equity in the long term.   The good news for start-ups is that if you do the proper homework, you will attract higher level assets, managers, advisors and  – most importantly – investors.

Every plan will eventually be found out to be inadequate.  But a little foresight can often uncover even greater potential and even company positioning that originally imagined.  And imagine how many psychologist hours can be saved of your contractors!

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Why Great Projects Don’t Get Funded

This is a great example of why even great products – don’t get funded.  If you need help in creating, fashioning, practicing or pitching – contact us.

One recent screening session for the Westchester Angels someone presented to us a retail wind turbine concept that I think may warrant investment.

But there was no way to tell.

So, he didn’t get funded.

Here is why and how to avoid his fate:

As good as the core of his idea may still be (I don’t know by the way), there is no way his company is going to raise any money.

He could not explain to us the problem he solved or why anybody would be interested. So, none of us could figure out how we would ever make any money. So none of us were interested in investing.

His pitch was a technical explanation of the intricacies of his product design. He spent a full quarter of his time (2 out of 8 minutes) on ball bearings!

As a rule of thumb any time your initial pitch to early stage investors includes information on the metal used to manufacture ball bearings, or the structure of your data tables, or how data flows, stop — you are doing it wrong.

I asked him what problem he solved for the market and he answered “either turbulence or the cluster effect”.

And then he referred me to the appendix of hhis 100 page slide deck so that I could figure this out for myself.

From an investor point of view the problem he was solving had nothing to do with turbulence or the cluster effect. Nobody in the retail market woke up in the morning thinking “hey I am worried about the cluster effect of wind turbines that I don’t have”.

And, if I have to go to an appendix in your deck to understand the problem because you can’t explain it to me the conversation is over.

Yet, I persisted. Self loathing I suppose.

After much prodding and time on the phone I figured out that the real benefit was low cost sustainable electricity in areas that were not appropriate for solar but potentially appropriate for wind.

His small footprint wind turbines could be installed in clusters on rooftops like solar panels.

That sounded interesting. Interesting enough to invest? I don’t know, but certainly interesting enough to test.

But when I suggested to him that he tell that story and offered another chance at screening he balked. He couldn’t tell the business story, he said, because he couldn’t fit anything more into his presentation.

I told him to toss out all of the technical information and focus ONLY on the business story. His audience only cared about the business story.

He wouldn’t do it.

I gave up.

Yes, at some point the technology matters. At some point investors will do due diligence. At some point they will want to make sure the technology works. Technical people will delve into the details.

But that isn’t where you start. Investors have to understand the business side of your investment, you have to engage them in your business, not inform them of the details.

You must show how you are going to make money.

In the first stages of conversation with investors the technology doesn’t matter. The business proposition matters.

So, take a look at your pitch. Is the business story clear? Can you explain where you make money? Will investors who don’t share your background be excited by what you are offering?

If not then don’t expect them to write checks. Go back, get your business story right then start the conversation.

After sitting through a thousand pitches and liking about a dozen I thought I’d start sharing some of the lessons I have learned. I help companies develop BrandStories and I help startups craft investor pitches.


It’s in the business, stop telling me about your tech was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Public Pitfalls of Data Mining Business Models

Years ago I helped start a company that would allow consumers to instantaneously know whether a shirt, dress, suit or shoe would fit them when shopping online – and if not, would provide them the exact alterations they would need to make it do so.  Focus groups were enthralled.  Imagine a woman knowing ahead of time whether the cute dress on her White House Black Market Facebook ad would fit before she even went to  the store – or better yet – would remove the fear of having to return it if ordered online.

2018-03-10 15_17_04-Vezano Measurement ScreenWhen asked however if they would allow their 3D body scans to be taken and stored by our company – you could see the brain freeze in slow motion like a bad Wylie Coyote cartoon animation.  Could they really trust an unknown corporation with the unhidden, unvarnished near naked image of their REAL bodies?

Even 15 years ago when this happened, most had no idea that every facet of their of lives was already being stolen, shopped and sold in ways they couldn’t fathom.  With the advent of GPS driven smartphones, companies like Verizon are not just tracking your every move – they are marrying it with all sorts of other data and selling your deepest secrets.   Think about it.  You filled out a credit application giving them your income, home address, occupation and more.  They also now know that you not only spent 45 minutes at Home Depot, but because of your electronic use data, they also know you were looking at new homes – and in what price range – flagging your account as a “likely to put their home on the market and buy another for $450,000” intel.

There is a small percentage who think, “I have nothing to hide,” and love the convenience.  However when they also know that you are looking at employment positions in another state or that you spend 45 minutes at a co-worker’s apartment twice a week before you come home – I’m guessing it might be of a bit more concern.  Especially depending on who – (besides the CIA and national intelligence services which already know this of course) is going to have access to this data.

You didn’t really think that home loan calculator app you downloaded off of iTunes or Google Play NEEDED 60 MB of space and permission to look at your contacts, location and photos to run a program truly only contains less than 250KB of programing code did you?  Instagram ONLY tracks, stores and shows pictures and takes nearly a half a GIGABYTE of information on your phone.  It actually needs a fraction of that do to what you use it for.

Zerohedge ran an article today that made me chuckle:

“We Know All About You” – MoviePass Is Secretly Tracking Its Customers’ Movements

2017.10.12 - MoviePass pic_0For months, Wall Street journalists were lampooning a company that would only collect $10 a month for someone to see unlimited movies, laughing at how quickly they would be out of business paying theaters $6 each visit.  My comments, tweets and rebuttals in turn ridiculed their ignorance.  As “business” journalists they should know better.  Knowing your specific economic, demographic and psychographic profile with your movements before and after you visited the movie – would allow them to tell Red Robin restaurant if you had dinner before coming or even if you might be on a date.  Red Robin is likely one of at least 3 vendors paying MoviePass $10-$20 EACH VISIT to know who you are and get their ad on every website and app on your phone to turn that into a transaction.

Per Zerohedge:

MoviePass user agreement authorizing it to collect such extensive reams of customer data – the company is apparently doing it anyway, as its CEO openly admitted.

“We get an enormous amount of information,” Lowe continued. “We watch how you drive from home to the movies. We watch where you go afterwards.”

As someone who has studied this space for almost 20 years – I can tell you it is MUCH worse even than the arbitrary scenarios they paint.

And I personally have no problem with it.  AS LONG AS IT IS DISCLOSED TO THE CONSUMER.

We now know that yes, Donald Trump WAS wiretapped (and worse) by the government before (and after) he took office.  Military intelligence sources have confirmed with Edward Snowden told us years ago that EVERY DIGITAL piece of DNA about you is being collected somewhere.   This issue is not only not going away – I suspect it’s going to get a lot lot worse…and very soon.  It’s not only the JFK files that just got declassified if you look hard enough.

Moviepass isn’t doing anything that nearly every major cellphone carrier hasn’t been doing for years.  Without your overt permission and knowledge since it is buried in the 14 pages of 4 point courier type in your usage agreement – and NONE to expressly explain exactly how this works.

The data mining business is not only necessary – IT IS GOOD.  I mentioned what our apparel technology could do for the consumer but the benefits to the manufacturer were even greater.  Imagine if you didn’t have to waste 40% of your inventory because you already had an indication of which sizes, colors and models would sell out in a specific state, city or store.   That means higher margins, more workers, lower prices and more.

But companies like Apple and Google are about to face a firestorm as people learn what is being done with their data.   Moviepass – and others living off of this model – would be wise to immediately be transparent with customers about which customers are allowed to see what data and when – and the let the consumer make the decision whether it’s worth saving $10-$30 a month on movie tickets.   Not only do I think most consumers would embrace the transparency as a sign of trust to work with the vendor – I can see a time when degrees of permission are given to the consumer about WHICH companies they will allow their data to whom their data would be sold.

Digital technology progression and advancement won’t ever be turned back.   But just as there is no longer a Blockbuster employee that knows you have a ‘women in prison’ or naked George Clooney fetish – the market will quickly form around those companies giving more privacy WITH convenience to the consumer.

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Is Your Decision Making Polluted?

This would be funny if it wasn’t precisely a reflection of how many ignore HOW they make decisions, rather than how they’ll look to others.

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The Secret of Thinking Out of the Box – (literally)

I was introduced to this concept many years ago and it is enthralling to me now as it was then.  Chris MacIntosh uses it to explain why some (limited perception thinkers) may misunderstand the potential of Bitcoin and that portion is mind blowing as well.  He begins with the original “Candle Problem” concept.  H/T to ZeroHedge

By Chris at www.CapitalistExploits.at

Karl Duncker, that’s who came up with it.

The Candle Problem, that is.

If you haven’t heard of the candle problem, here’s the skinny.

In 1945, just as Hitler was murdering himself (thankfully), psychologist Karl Duncker was turning his attention to how humans solve problems. He came up with “the candle problem,” a cognitive performance test measuring the influence of functional fixedness on a participant’s problem solving capabilities.

Here’s the problem he presented…

Participants are given the following task: They have to fix and light a candle on a cork board that’s attached to a wall in such a way that the candle wax won’t drip wax onto the table below. To do so, they can only use the following objects:

A book of matches, a box of thumbtacks, and a candle

Here’s what most do…

Oh, and by the way, if you think you’re different…

This has been tested on numerous “subjects” including MBA students. Odds are you’re not.

Many subjects try all sorts of creative, but inefficient, methods such as trying to tack the candle to the wall. Nah, doesn’t work. Others attempt to melt some of the candle’s wax and use it as an adhesive to stick the candle to the wall. Nope. Doesn’t work either.

Here’s the sneaky little kicker. When the task is presented with the tacks piled next to the box (rather than inside it). Like this:

Tacks… outside the box

Virtually all of the participants manage to achieve the optimal solution, which is…

Thinking of the box as something other than a mere receptacle, participants quickly find the solution.

A “box of thumbtacks” vs. a “box and thumbtacks”. You’d think we homo sapiens are smarter. Proof if you ever needed it we’re only a half chromosome away from chimps.

Which Brings Me Neatly to the Internet…

Grab your beanie babies and holster your Pokémon cards. We’re stepping back in time to the 90’s — you know when the internet was just cranking up. 1995 to be precise when famous astronomer Clifford Stoll wrote an op-ed for Newsweek stating:

 “The truth is no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works.”

Around the same time, Nicholas Negropone, director of the MIT Media Lab, predicted:

 “We’ll soon buy books and newspapers straight over the Internet.”

Ah… no.

And just one more for good measure.

 “We’re promised instant catalog shopping–just point and click for great deals. We’ll order airline tickets over the network, make restaurant reservations and negotiate sales contracts. Stores will become obsolete. So how come my local mall does more business in an afternoon than the entire Internet handles in a month?”

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and we can all scoff and laugh now, but the truth is 99% of people who use the internet today don’t know how it works. And guess what? They don’t need to. The fact that it does is what matters.

The internet solved problems we never even knew existed with respect to communication, shopping, banking, trading, entertainment, authentication, education, marketing, finding out what the hell a tranny is, and a zillion other things.

The pieces necessary for it had existed for some time — the proverbial thumbtacks, candles, boxes, and matches if you will. But until it actually happened, nobody saw how to put it all together, let alone how thoroughly it would transform our lives.

And here’s why it was so hard to understand what the internet was and how it would work.

Search and Retrieval Systems

That’s what our brains are. If I’d never seen a pear before, how would you explain it to me?

You: “Well, Chris do you know what an apple is?”

Me: “Sure, of course. I’m working on one now. Only kidding. Yes, red, crunchy, sweet… got it.”

You: “Well, it’s like that only green and a bit fatter at the bottom than at the top. But it’s quite similar.”

My brain does the search and retrieve thing and comes up with this.

Ok, I say to myself, so a pear is basically a wonky apple… and green. I think I understand.

But as you can see, I don’t really, though I’ve a better idea now thanks to your explanation, but I’m still unlikely to visualise this.

So when the internet came along, people used their search and retrieval databases (brains) to come up with what it was and what it could look like.

But there was nothing in there to retrieve. And so unless you’d taken way too much LSD as a teenager and seen things that the rest of us hadn’t, you had nothing to go on. Which is why folks struggled to see the pear. Heck, it was like having no idea what fruit was.

And then bam! Along came a pear.

The reason I bring up the internet is because we all know about it now. And that’s important because it’s easily the best reference point we’ve got to understanding bitcoin.

Who Owns the Internet?

The answer to this is the reason Bitcoin is succeeding where E-Gold (shut down by the USG) didn’t.

For reference, E-Gold was a gold backed digital currency. Its flaw? Centralisation.

Things which are decentralised are much tougher to kill. This is why the US army. despite being the world’s largest, is still embroiled in places like Afghanistan fighting guerrillas (decentralised). It’s the same reason that the stinger missile changed the power balance of warfare.

The internet is owned by everyone.

Ok, sure there are significant players in it, but there is no single party, rather hundreds, actually thousands of parties that make up the pieces that we today call the internet.

Should one or more of these significant players get taken down, rest assured the arbitrage and value gap that would open up would be filled faster than you can say “Darling, take a look, this site’s not working anymore.”

And this doesn’t even get into mesh networks, IPFS, and an entire smorgasbord of fun stuff like that which is coming and will further decentralise the internet. The point is this: Sometimes there is push, and sometimes there is pull.

As we sit here today, we all know it. We can all feel it. The existing government and financial systems are creaking and groaning under their ever increasingly incompetent weight. The foundation cracked in 2008 but they all banded together to “solve” the problem.

saupload_Screen_2BShot_2B2015-12-07_2Bat_2B10.21.13

The thing is instead of repairing the shonky foundations, they dug out more of the existing foundation and piled it on top of this creaking groaning mess. And that nearly non-existent foundation is what folks are relying on.

Now, let me introduce a really radical monetary (Shatbit crazy really) experiment to you…

Imagine you’re a little green alien just landed. You know nothing about the world but you understand that value needs to be transferred, thus money is needed.

Now, imagine a type of money. This money is issued by a cluster of central authorities. These central authorities determine what the price is to borrow this type of money, they issue it with wild abandon most regularly to their friends, and here’s the mind blowing part:

More than 20 of these central authorities in control of this money have their interest rates at negative. It’s never happened before in the history of mankind, though I’m sure it’s ok because men with badges and letters and authority stand behind it.

And then you take a look at Bitcoin.

Which of these sounds like a radical monetary experiment to you?
So, you might ask, “well, if these incompetent sociopaths stand behind this monetary system, then who stands behind Bitcoin?”

Well, none of that. Mathematics and cryptology. Which would you trust more?

What is Money

Read the rest of the article here.  The graphs explaining WHY bitcoin is showing a very strong mechanical market foundation – if not greater potential – are worth the click.

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Not Screwing Up the Naming of Your Business

What seems obvious to many entrepreneurs are the “basics” of naming your business.  The Business Backer put together a basic infographic that might be helpful as you kanoodle ideas in your head.  The Visual Capitalist also added some interesting tidbits such as the original names of Amazon (Cadabra), AOL (Quantum Business Solutions) and others and how they learned the hard way to test names before building your brand around it.

naming-business

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Are Your Hidden Biases Creating IED’s In Your Future?

An IED (improvised explosive device) is a poor man’s attempt at warfare.  It is risky to construct and deploy.  It is highly unreliable and can end up doing nothing or causing the maker harm.  Our internal biases – especially those we aren’t aware of – can be doing the same thing.

How often have you been 110% sure of something you THOUGHT you knew, but in hindsight you realize you couldn’t have been more wrong.  It happens with our sports teams all the time.  As a lifelong (obsessed) Cubbie fan, I’ve loved watching our closer Wade Davis go a perfect 32-32 in close opportunities.  Even when he gave up a run in a game with a 2 run lead this September, no one possibly imagined he would give up another and lose the game.  There was no reason to believe the first home run was a fluke.  Until it wasn’t.

Our decisions are built on experience, knowledge and assumptions and calculated extrapolations from them.  Even our emotion is a data point that, over time, we come to trust or distrust.  Visual Capitalist published the ULTIMATE codex to these biases along with a few examples.

COGNITIVE BIAS EXAMPLES

Here are four examples of how these types of biases can affect people in the business world:

Familiarity Bias: An investor puts her money in “what she knows”, rather than seeking the obvious benefits from portfolio diversification. Just because a certain type of industry or security is familiar doesn’t make it the logical selection.

Self-Attribution Bias: An entrepreneur overly attributes his company’s success to himself, rather than other factors (team, luck, industry trends). When things go bad, he blames these external factors for derailing his progress.

Anchoring Bias: An employee in a salary negotiation is too dependent on the first number mentioned in the negotiations, rather than rationally examining a range of options.

Survivorship Bias: Entrepreneurship looks easy, because there are so many successful entrepreneurs out there. However, this is a cognitive bias: the successful entrepreneurs are the ones still around, while the millions who failed went and did other things.

Our mainstream media (and yes, intelligence services) are masters at manipulating these biases.  Many instantly believed, “I did not have sex with that woman, Monica Lewinsky,” because of a philosophical bias (“This President is my guy who I personally like and always seems to be “real” unlike stodgy guys from the past”) or confirmation bias (“There is no way he would come out that forcefully in the open if he was guilty.”)  If you were one of those persuaded by the 9-1 pro-Clinton media blaming this on rabid Republicans, you felt a bit of vertigo when Congress not only found DNA evidence but impeached him no less.  This happens us to varying degrees in nearly every function of our lives.  It may not be worth the effort or stress to worry about it on purchasing a $2 can of green beans from the store – until you suddenly learn the can is lined with BPA plastic and is the root cause of why you and your spouse have been unable to conceive for the past five years.

Whether it’s business dilemma’s or personal decisions of the heart, this understanding can help us learn more about HOW we make decisions.  Get a high res copy of this here.

cognitive-bias

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Keys to Succeed in a Crony Capitalist System

Robert Wenzel is an interesting guy.  He’s a flaming Mises Libertarian who has very unique insight on free market economics and political thought.   I think he’s wrong a lot of the time – elevating theory over the practical world.  I was shocked, then to come across his Sunday Morning vlog about practical suggestions of how to deal with a system that is stacked against you – the little guy.

A great portion of his strategy resolves around making sure you find “connected” lawyers.  A second key point is how to leverage your current skills or assets into the strike zone where lightning can strike.

Like me, you may disagree with much of what he says – but he’s got some gems fairly often like this:

 

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How Small Retailers Are Crushing Amazon

In the short video below, a small retailer makes an astounding claim:

Everyone’s biggest competitor is Amazon.

Some shopping malls that were valued at $1+ Billion only 8 or 9 years ago are selling for less then the value of their property acreage.  Dozens of major names are shutting thousands of stores.   But in the midst of this niche annihilation, there are some companies that not only are continuing to sell, they are experiencing perennial double digit growth.

Pam Danzinger is the modern day prophet of luxury retailing.   I met her years ago when launching a national brand.  She has a new book – SHOPS THAT POP – that describe how marketing has changed from being about Price, Product, Promotion and Place – into a new paradigm of consumer experience.   One of her clients – Brent Ridge, founder of Beekman 1802 – joins her at the Small Business Experience at Retail’s BIG Show 2017 presentation to demonstrate how his small farm evolved into a large online business with just one flagship store by designing “neighbor memory opportunities,” hundreds of new products a year and double- to triple-digit growth. Danzinger says that the core of it is storytelling: “You have to start with your story, what makes your store special … and translate it from the focus on you to the focus on your customer.”

 

The new rules of retail marketing are:

Experience,

Everyplace,

Exchange, and

Evangelism.

Experience.  Almost any product can be purchased at Amazon and delivered free to your home. However small retailers have an opportunity to create a shopping experience beyond the product itself.  Starbucks may have the worst, burnt tasting coffee in the world, but being able to meet friends, business clients or family in a laid back living room with a soundtrack will make you pay $4 for the same croissant you can buy at Walmart for 25 cents.

Everyplace.  With internet marketing your geography can expand beyond the normal traffic where your store or web site typically resides.  A store can now be represented physically, electronically and show up as options with complimentary partners to allow customers to find you in the place most convenient to them.

Exchange.  Value and Price are less important than the exchange of value, feelings and perceived value in purchasing their product.  I can buy a coffee maker online as easily as Costco, but a site that teaches me what coffee most matches my favorite foods won’t need to compete merely on price.

Evangelism.  One example in the video is where Beekman 1802 established events and shopping experiences that were opportunities for their customers to take pictures.  They realized that a unique visual display or emotional event would end up on Facebook and garner both publicity and sales beyond the reach of their store or internet marketing.  Williams Sonoma now incorporates Beekman into co-marketing strategies.

For Pam’s book visit Amazon here.

Shops that  POP!: 7 Steps to  Extraordinary  Retail Success by [Danziger, Pamela N., Lorenzetti, Jennifer Patterson]

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MUST WATCH: Sam Adams Founder on Entrepreneurial Mistakes and Lessons

From CNBC (h/t Economic Policy Journal)

Sam Adams Founder Jim Koch discuss (over beer) his story of founding The Boston Beer company after being disillusioned as a corporate consultant for Boston Consulting with three degrees (BA, JD, MBA) from Harvard.

Feeling like he was losing his soul, he decided to start one of the first micro-breweries and lost his family when their cushy suburban life was threatened.  (He’s now worth a billion dollars).

Some quick lessons:

  • Harvard Business School has dozens of marketing courses – not a single sales course.
  • Mastering the Art of Selling – Tom Hopkins best book he read in business.
  • Create value for other people, and you’ll be fine financially.
  • The competition won’t catch up as quickly as you think, and don’t let that fear force you into taking unnecessary risk (like debt/over leveraging)
  • We are trained culturally to think that selling is an ignoble activity.  Sales are more important than almost anything.
  • See sales as an honorable way to help someone else create value from what you are doing.
  • Harvard Business School has dozens of marketing courses – not a single sales course.
  • Mastering the Art of Selling, by Tom Hopkins, is the best book he read in business.
  • His original business plan he wrote to raise his investment capital from projected $1mm per year in revenue in 5 years when it would plateau.   He was wildly off.
  • He never would have taken other investors money – only their advice.His last advice: Pick your investors for their commitment to your success, their wisdom and the advice they can bring, not the money.

 

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