Bond. Jeff Bezos Bond

Amazon is reportedly looking to acquire MGM Studios for close to 9B USD.

That’s a lot of money to fork up just to get in with a shout at becoming the next James Bond. You have got to hand it to Jeff Bezos:

When he does something, he does it in style.

Neither shaken nor stirred.

Just solid.

Let’s get serious for a moment, ok?

Not only will Amazon get its hands on the James Bond-franchise. Despite my obvious affection for 007 that’s a minor detail. What’s important is that they will get access to a content powerhouse that will be an interesting competitor in the streaming wars being waged between Amazon Prime, Disney+ and that ‘old incombent’, Netflix among others.

The really interesting bit is just how important a part of the overall Amazon offering, streaming is becoming. To me at least it seems like it’s a key ingredient in keeping the Amazon Prime rundle interesting and value for money for consumers. It’s the icing on the cake. After you have eaten the cake, that is.

Taken into a larger context it seems rather bizarre by now that we have been discussing the value of content over the years as something that approached zero, when it’s becoming fairly obvious that great content is a key differentiator that makes the bundle turned rundle ever more evergreen and attractive to consumers.

People have never spent more money on content than they do today. They are just spending it with a set of very different providers and value propositions than they were a couple of decades ago.

Where does this leave the media players that used to skim all the profits?

Almost like a failed Bond villain.

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Saboteurs

We’re so used to innovating and building products and businesses for people, who have a need for what we are looking to go to market with that we completely forget about the other people.

The saboteurs.

While I totally understand why we never think about those, who don’t wish us well – it’s not the kind of thing you want to spend a lot of time thinking about – thinking about them may actually hold some merit.

Let’s think of it this way:

What are the scenarios where someone would aggressively try to detract other people from using your product?

And more importantly:

What can and should you do about it to try and counter it?

Maybe the answer to the last question turns out to be “Nothing. Haters are gonna hate.”

But just maybe it could spur a couple of twists to your products and services that not only deter the saboteurs from going crazy on your product but actually also ends up delighting your loyal customers even more than they already are.

If that is an option, wouldn’t it be worth spending just a little time reflecting on who your potential saboteurs are, and what you could/should do to counter them?

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Records or music?

“Are you in the records industry or the music business?”

Maybe it seems like a banal question, because the two at face value sound like one and the same.

But they aren’t.

The latter is about the value proposition. The former is about the mode of delivery.

The key thing to consider, when you’re looking to deliver value to customers, is your key value proposition. The music so to say.

You then deliver that through whatever channel is best suited – for your customers. That means that you never ever get stuck in an insistence that you deliver it in a certain way, take it or leave it.

In other words: You don’t insist on delivering a record, if what the customer wants is the single delivered through a different channel, medium or packaging. You just do whatever the customer says and what fits into the customers habits and lifestyle. Period.

Sadly, a lot of legacy companies insist on being in the records industry rather than in the music business. They do so at their own peril. And they are – and will be – paying a price for it.

Don’t be like that.

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Jumpstart your insights

When we try to figure out what the jobs, pains and gains of our future customers are, it is tempting to do all the research from scratch.

But maybe you don’t have to. Maybe there are forums where you can get a pretty good feeling, before you spend a lot of time doing surveys, interviews and observe the behaviour of your customers.

One place to look is in competing products. Especially the ones that seem to do rather well.

Get your hands on them, try them out and reverse engineer the problem statements that lies behind the form and feature(s) of the product.

What is the core feature of the product? Does it cater to a specific target audience? Which? And why? And what is the core assumption behind how it’s done?

If you spend a bit of time reverse engineering the competition for jobs, pains and gains, you will probably get a pretty good idea about what the real jobs are that determines whether a customer buys and uses said product or not.

And then it becomes a question of your future product doing it better, cheaper or whatever. But preferably better since that will serve you well, when you start to focus on retention.

After all you shouldn’t make it as easy for another competitor to snatch away your customers from you, as it (perhaps) was for you, should you?

Another place where you can look for insights into the jobs, pains and gains of your future customers is social media. I know for a fact it can be a pure gold mine for insights into what needs, your product could serve.

The great thing about social media – and especially more niche oriented groups – is that people are unfiltered. They will be looking for advice and guidance, and the more they look for it, the bigger a felt need it is for them.

That is not to say that you should do everything, a community tells you to do. Of course you shouldn’t, and often the conversation ventures in a lot of different directions.

But if you take the time to look for signals – tone of voice, mentions of a specific problem again and again etc. – there is actually a ton of things, you can take away with you.

That should set you off to a good start before you start doing a lot of classic user and market research too.

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The “red tape” danger

The problem with too much process and red tape is that it creates excuses for not getting problems solved:

“Our processes dictates that I must do this”, “I am not measured on doing that”, “I cannot do anything about it, it’s the rules”, “We have a policy that…”.

Etcetera etcetera.

Of course there needs to be rules and processes, and sometimes they’re even defined by law.

But having said that it is also important to reiterate that just because you can push a set of rules, a boss or even the law in front of you, it doesn’t mean that you can’t show empathy for the person(s) in the other end obviously experiencing a problem.

One of the reasons why startups even stand a fighting chance against much larger and more resourceful organizations is that they don’t have all these rules, processes and KPIs in place.

They’re just trying to do what they think is necessary to enable them to solve issues and move forward. By showing empathy and some sort of efficient pragmatism whenever they encounter a challenge or – most importantly – a customer experiencing a problem and in need of a fix to it.

When companies grow and more people get onboard, the need for processes, policies and rules will grow – sometimes almost exponentially.

That may be fine in itself. But it should never be an excuse for throwing empathy and the ability to act and fix issues out the window.

If you start doing that you will enable precisely all the behaviour internally in your organization that you DON’T really want. And absolutely don’t need to succeed.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Always think about strategy

When you’re busy executing on tasks, it can be super easy to forget about setting time aside to think about strategy.

But you should. For a number of reasons.

First of all you need to always make sure that what you’re working on is taking you in the right direction. There is the old saying that while a manager is the one leading the struggle through the jungle, the leader is the one making sure you are in the right jungle to begin with.

Be the leader.

Second, thinking about strategy is what keeps you curious about the market you are operating in. It keeps you focused on your customers and their needs, on the competition and on emerging trends in technology and behavior.

All of these inform what you should be doing. And most importantly: They enable you to course correct on the fly.

Third, thinking about strategy on the go is what keeps you from having to start your strategy all over from scratch again. It enables you to mold and update your strategy, as you go, based on learnings. And thus captures the value of all your hard work – even the work that didn’t end according to plan.

Finally, thinking about strategy broadens your horizon and keeps you sharp. Think about it as essential training; with enough training you go from being a simple recruit to a Navy Seal. It’s just a matter of discipline and hard work.

So don’t ever let anyone tell you, you shouldn’t think about strategy, ok?

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Why I double down

When difficulties arise, it might very well be good news. Because those difficulties may dissuade all the people who aren’t as dedicated as you are.

Seth Godin, ‘If it were easy…’

Absolutely. It may never be really easy and some times even to tough to stomach. But there really is no other way.

The HelloFresh test

One of the basic common rules for startups is that if what you’re working on is worth doing, you’re bound to have competition (unless you’re operating in one of those rare spaces, where you have spotted something before anyone else, of course).

With so many services – especially in the consumer space – feeling more or less alike or at the very least trying to serve the same need or solve the same problem, you need to ask yourself, what the differentiator between success and failure is going to be.

There are quite a lot to choose from, but one of the ones, I increasingly believe a lot in is the end-to-end Customer Experience, i.e. everything from the smoothness of using the product and get what you need to the overall feel of the entire experience.

If you want to learn from the best – or those believed or rumored to be the best – there is only one way to go about it: To try the service out and see for yourself.

For that reason I have made a personal decision:

I am going to be trying out a different services in quite crowded consumer spaces over the coming months to get a sense of how those that get singled out for their Customer Experience and their ability to execute ruthlessly against it actually work.

I have already signed up for the first one: HelloFresh.

HelloFresh is rumored to be a cutthroat business that are very good at executing flawlessly in the crowded meal kit market.

They have just entered the Danish market, and I have signed up to give it a spin. The Danish meal kit market is super crowded with all sorts of services, and I have previously tried a few without being overly impressed.

So I am very curious to see, if my experience with HelloFresh is going to feel any different – if I can FEEL the execution. And what – if anything – I can learn from it to bring to the other things I am working on.

Because, yes, it always pays to get inspired from other industries for what you’re trying to succeed with yourself.

I will keep you posted on what I learn.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)