It’s been quite awhile so hopefully you haven’t forgotten about this newsletter. One of the things I have tried to do for awhile is write more, and I actually think I do. Unfortunately, most of my writing is internal at Versett to either the team or clients, meaning I often have little to show for it. I should have a new post to share next time.
Have you ever come across an insight or perspective on your own, solely by observing and thinking, only to later come across the same insight in a book? It’s happened to me a few times recently. I actually find it very reassuring, probably because of ego, to know that I managed to come across the same thoughts without being exposed to them explicitly. What about you?
A few days I finished reading How Brands Grow after picking it up in NYC last month. Written by Byron Sharp, an Australian marketing professor, the book claims much of what we think about marketing is wrong and advocates for "evidence based marketing". Throughout reading it I was back on forth on whether I liked it. On the one hand, he seemed to have a reason for why everything was wrong or why data would read some certain way, which was convenient. He often only cited one study (it's unclear to me why I found this a problem, I just didn’t want to read something and accept it at face value). There was also lots of still demographic thinking about customers which we know is dated. On the other hand, if it’s to be trusted, he validated a handful of concepts I already believed such as: loyalty only rewards existing customers and customers don’t consider all alternatives when making decisions, as I covered in my mediocrity post.
Some of the more salient and interesting things I learned were:
“It isn’t possible to radically alter defection rates without massively shifting. market share”
Customer defection rates (churn) are a function of its market share—bigger companies will have more defecting customers but a smaller % of their customer base. They also gain more customers each year.
“Growth is due to extraordinary acquisition. Contraction is due to dismal acquisition.”
Sharp recommends a focus on acquisition over retention quite effectively this way: each year, a certain percentage of new customers are up for grabs (the total amount of defecting customers across all competitors). This is a much larger number than the number of customers you stand to lose by focusing on churn. How can you do a better job acquiring those ones?
“Without branding, loyalty (which is natural behaviour) has to be directed to something else—like a price point, a position on the shelf, or ‘whatever is on special’.”
The purpose of branding is to be distinct, not necessarily different. Customers often don’t notice the same differentiation that brands focus on. Give them something about your brand to remember, not your product offering.
The ideas discussed in this book are valuable for putting into practice when growing a product and understanding where to focus your efforts.
Having just finished reading Keith Johnstone’s Impro, this article on improvisation within a consulting context was both timely and very interesting. Tom talks about how we can leverage social dynamics and stage presence within a client environment to do better work. This is just part one of a four-part series, so if you like it there’s more on his site.
Tavi is a semi-famous teen writer who is the epitome of someone growing up on the internet. I have been a fan of her work since following her first blog, Style Rookie, back in 2009. She was only 13 at the time and I remember sending her site to my brother who was also 13, attempting to motivate him by showing what people were capable of at 13. It did not work.
Listening to lots of podcasts has made me more aware of a host’s ability to be interesting. I appreciate Russ’s thoughtfulness and questions. I have found many hosts lately getting on my nerves as they try to come across as thoughtful but seem to not know much. I enjoyed this episode, it was interesting to hear about all the work that goes into writing a biography.
That’s all for this time. Have something on your mind? Just reply to this email. I would love to hear from you and I read every response.