10/9/19

Bridging the Gap — Using Analytics

What do you — CEO of a company — do when you have gaps of information that cannot be bridged by analytics or anecdotal information?

Other day I am chatting with a CEO about the performance of his marketing and the quality of feedback they were getting from anecdotal information (call reports) and the traffic analytics on their website.

This particular CEO had encountered an AHA moment when they reconfigured their website to go from offering their software in the continuum of Freemium, Bronze, Silver, Gold to the opposite.

By this I mean he had gone from the least expensive/least capable package to the most expensive/most capable price to the opposite order.

OK, one more time. He went from:

Freemium – Bronze – Silver – Gold (least expensive, least capable to most expensive, most capable)

to

Gold – Silver – Bronze – Freemium. (most expensive, most capable to least expensive, least capable).

The results were staggering. He was suddenly hitting substantially higher rates of interest and sales. There is a story for another day as to how that came to be. [Do not do the same thing. There is a reason why this worked in this particular SaaS situation.]

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10/4/19

Product Positioning — May I Please Have A Hard Seltzer?

Somewhere in the dark recesses of your mind is a thought trying to break its way into your consciousness — it is repeating a mantra: Product, Price, Placement, Promotion — maybe joined by: Positioning, People, Packaging. A lot of P’s.

Image it like a Gregorian Chant coming at you like a throbbing headache.

Do you recognize the basics of marketing? Yes you do.

Product

Packaging

Price

People

Placement

Positioning

Promotion

Could there be some overlap in these subjects? Sure, but work with me on this.

Today, we talk about the positioning of a relatively new product — hard seltzer.

Hard seltzer is an emerging product with $295MM in sales last year. It is not yet an important slice of the beer, wine, and spirits market, but it suggests, and illuminates an interesting phenomenon.

You have to position your product for the audience you want to attract and appeal to. Getting out in front of the competition in an emerging market is always a big of all right, no?

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09/27/19

CEO Shoptalk — Confidence: Expecting To Win

The other day I read some screed that attempted to describe confidence in a ham-handed and poorly written manner. Reading it felt like an intellectual barbed wire enema, but it did make me think about the subject.

Tom Brady, quarterback of the National Football League New England Patriots, expects to win every time he steps on the football field.

Not only does HE expect to win, but those who play with him, the coaching staff of the team (led by Head Coach Bill Belichick), the sports punditry, the fans, and maybe the opposition — also expect him to win.

He brings that magic bit of confidence that creates this mojo — expecting to win. He has played in nine Super Bowls and has emerged with a ring from six of them.

Stop for a second: Do YOU expect to win as a CEO? Do you?

Tom Brady doesn’t expect to win only on the football field; he expects to win in life, at everything.

This doesn’t happen by accident.

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09/14/19

CEO Shoptalk — Fragility

In the early days of a startup, when you are running on pure adrenalin, co-founders are in constant contact. Every new development is shared completely, you are likely to be in close physical proximity, and the novelty of it all creates a glue that binds the co-founders together thereby provoking a level of communication that ensures the founding team is fully informed.

At the beginning you are giddy with communication.

This chaotic time builds trust and generates confidence. It is a heady and energetic time. It is the camaraderie that soldiers create on the battlefield. Co-founders are at war against the market, so that comparison is not a great leap.

But, then the company raises money or gets traction or screams, “We have product-market fit, y’all!” and the closeness that was there at the crib side of the new baby begins to change.

Roles are more distinct, there are spheres of responsibility, employees are hired, parts of jobs are delegated, board members begin to deploy their wisdom, and the pace begins to quicken.

The ability for the co-founders to attain full communication and full knowledge of what is going on is tested by the actual progress.

It is at this junction in time — almost verifiable by a watch — that the strength of a co-founding team is tested.

And, the test is this — Is the organization robust (as it relates to co-founder communication) or is it fragile?

The answer, dear reader, 104% of the time is that the relationship is hopelessly fragile. It is the normal state of affairs because it requires specific work, organization, and that most precious of all commodities in the universe — time, to beat the fragility out of your fledgling company.

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07/10/19

The Whine Line Protocol

The Whine Line Procotol, Big Red Car? Do tell.

So, your Big Red Car was engaged in a bit of  discussion and blog reading in which the subject of how to deal with problem hires or heretics — do not dig that word in this context — was bandied about.

A couple of things came to light, but the most important is this — dealing with employees both good and not so good is a normal part of CEOing.

Your generation did not invent sex or business; dealing with less than perfect employees is not a problem unique to your outfit. It is just a normal part of CEOing, and you got that gig.

Employees are dynamic. Your star marketing person may become your challenge and vice versa. Here are you and the employees on good days.

It is all just part of running a team, a company, CEOing. It is normal and you don’t need to be firing people for a little whining. The challenge is to keep the whining within a tolerable level.

That requires you to develop your own personal Whine Line Protocol.

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07/1/19

CEO Shoptalk — Situational Awareness

CEOs have a hard job. Keeping it is one of the most difficult parts of the job. Keeping your job as a CEO may depend on your ability to understand the situation — something pilots call “situational awareness.”

In an airplane, you have several instruments that an instrument-trained pilot scans to determine the situation — speed, direction, level flight, climbing, descending, fuel status, GPS (redundant), and George (George is the autopilot). I have taken to calling George Georgette.

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06/2/19

CEO Shoptalk — Mistake Amnesia

One of the first things I do when I take on a new CEO client is to ask, “What percentage of your decisions are good?”

I get two answers: forty-five percent or ninety percent. [True.]

I ask the same question of the same CEOs some time after we’ve been working together.

I get two answers:

 1. The former 90%-ers now say, “Forty-five percent.”

 2. The former 45%-ers now say, “About the same, maybe 50%, but now I know why.”

In making decisions, CEOs are going to make a lot of bad ones. If you follow the math above, more bad decisions than good decisions.

How do you get rid of the overhang of bad decisions? Mistake Amnesia!

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05/28/19

CEO Shoptalk — Perspective

Rains are coming because it’s the end of May and it’s Austin By God Texas. Like a bit of rain.

So, two CEOs are talking and we get into a chat about the difference between young/first time CEOs and experienced/serial CEOs.

I hazard the following, “Think it’s perspective.” There are a few other thoughts, but we keep circling back to perspective.

Serial CEOs know what is important — and they are better at it — because they have done it before. They made the mistakes, paid full tuition for the education.

On the heels of the Memorial Day post yesterday, I got a few emails from CEOs (former clients) who said the same thing, essentially, paraphrasing: “You were doing very different things than we were doing at the same age — early to mid-twenties. I assume it gave you a different perspective on things.”

Old lions and new lions are lions, but they have a different perspective on things.

Please note this is a nuclear lion family. They live in Llano, Texas. What is each of the lions thinking about.

Daddy lion is thinking about the checklist for the board meeting (he read the Checkist Manifesto as a cub and knows it works) and making sure the meeting docs are in the DropBox. He’s also thinking he needs to talk to those tigers in marketing to make damn sure they are following the agreed to process.

Momma lion is pondering whether Insta or FB is the way to go on marketing. She’s thinking about whether to have another cub, but is worried about the dilution if she has to raise capital.

Cub lion is thinking — “Wow, that looks cool. Maybe I should re-do my logo? Or become a B Corporation, cause that’s way cool. A blog — maybe start writing a blog.”

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