I’m enjoying Seth Godin‘s latest book, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?. In his chapter on “Becoming the Linchpin”, he has a great diagram on page 52, which I’ve reproduced here. His linchpin discussion is a good illustration of the variance between price and value. I always cringe when a client reacts negatively to my billing rate (which is low for the industry). If they say, “I wish I could bill my time at that rate,” I know they haven’t got it and may never “get it.” I want to ask them what rate they pay their mechanic or their accountant. It’s a question of the value contributed, not the price paid. This is the problem with people who try to do too much tweaking on the product of a good designer… they don’t understand that they’re paying for expertise and then negating its value. Perhaps they’d rather have an expert at minimum wage?
Ten years ago I was educating people about what they might expect from their websites. For many medium and small businesses, it was their first website, and they wanted to know how it was going to make them money. Nowadays, a web presence has become a part of almost every business’ “price of admission”. Ten years ago, you weren’t credible without a business card and a Yellow Pages listing, and people were already seeing that before long a website would become a part of the minimum credibility standard.
A few weeks ago I accused bookseller McNally Robinson of missing the plot twist following their entry into bankruptcy protection. What I said was (1) that they had expanded at the wrong time, in the wrong way and (2) that they didn’t have an effective strategy for competing with online book sales.
Well, last week McNally emerged from bankruptcy protection and Paul McNally made some public comment on what went wrong, as he saw it. The biggest single factor he cites was the failure of their Don Mills store to meet the sales targets for which they had hoped. He speculated that their strategy of community involvement maybe didn’t play as well in T-Dot, but it has also been noted that the Don Mills mall in which they were located has been a disappointment to many of its retail tenants.
I’ve always had a cynical view of companies that offer “branding” and “strategy.” Both are valid, necessary, important activities which every business owner must consider, but I’ve seen too many creative houses that get into these lines as a way to sell creative services — and little more. To them, it’s just creative services, rebranded. The thing that gets me most is how often some of these types of shops tend to rebrand themselves, and what that means to them… the joke I never said to one of their faces when meeting them on the street was, “Hey, I saw your new brand — very nice! Been slow around the shop lately?” I don’t know where they found the time to rebrand themselves every six months and still look after clients.
For almost the past four years now, I’ve been writing a pseudonymous blog that primarily follows the emerging/missional church, but even there I occasionally touch on topics relevant to marketing and (for lack of a better description) “Cluetrain” thinking. I have a post or two about Starbuck’s that might be the culprit, or it might be the quip I sometimes use with reference to products or services that I tend to call “a perfect solution to a problem nobody has.” Whatever the inspiration, I somehow made it onto the authors’ list of people who helped inspire or inform their thinking as they describe what they call the “Tuned-In Process” through their book, Tuned In: Uncover the Extraordinary Opportunities That Lead to Business Breakthroughs (USA Link) by Phil Myers, Craig Stull, and David Meerman Scott. I discovered the link-back to my blog and read their offer to anyone on the list to provide them with a free copy of the book. I was curious about what they were saying and how I might fit in, so naturally I took them up on the offer.
Ori Brafman has previously co-written The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations along with Rod Beckstrom. I’ve previously mentioned the book a couple of times, and was looking forward to delving into Ori’s new book, Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior,Â written with his brother, Rom Brafman.Â I was pleased when it arrived by FedEx, and I devoured it pretty quickly.
Comparing well with Blink and The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, Sway, like Starfish, is well-written and entertaining as the Brafmans explain how people’s judgment is swayed in various contexts.Â Recognizing the types of context in which one’s judgment is likely to be swayed can help avert poor decision-making.Â As the old saying goes, “forewarned is forearmed.”
Some while back, Execupundit posted an example of assumptions gone wrong in the story of some prisoners planning an escape. He was outlining the importance of stating assumptions, which is crucial. In my last business, when writing a proposal in response to an RFP, we would always keep a list of assumptions that we made about the application, the environment, the business needs, whatever. It might scrawled in the margin of the RFP or on a separate sheet, but it had to be someplace. It’s a critical step…