Vanity by Numbers

Actionable metrics vs vanity

June 22, 2020

I hate social media. Specifically, I hate Instagram and Facebook. Granted, they are well-designed apps and I steal from their UX principles all the time, but the impact they've had as far as startups are concerned is mind boggling. Why? Because the metrics they provide for most are rooted in vanity and nothing else.

For example, I know plenty of people with over 30k followers, yet none of them make a good amount of money from those numbers.

On the other hand, I know several people who aren't on social media that are millionaires.

The point? Unless there is a clear, actionable metric that you can use to influence business results, don't focus on it. Otherwise it is vanity by numbers, nothing more.

More you say?

Tell the Truth

Why I don't get political on social platforms.

6.3.2020

It's been a couple days since the riots in Minnesota erupted over the wrongful death of George Floyd at the hands of police. It's all that's been talked about on the one social platform I use, LinkedIn.

Something that has been said repeatedly is this: if you don't say anything, you're siding with the racist status quo. But it seems to mean "if you don't say anything on social media then you are siding with the racist status quo."

I disagree.

I have said things. I have spoken to people. I do have strong feelings about the wrongful death of George Floyd. I do have strong feelings about protesting. I do have strong feelings about seeing other people get hurt from rioting/looting. I do have ideas on how to move forward.

But sharing them on social media is not going to help me make a change. Limiting the extent of my involvement to posting a picture of a black square, sharing a hashtag, or espousing my non-expert opinions about sociology, law enforcement, and politics as an irrefutable truth would be haphazard, noisy, and unhelpful. In fact, I can't think of a more blatant abuse of privilege.

What am I going to do? Be someone who listens. Have meaningful, real discussions with real people. And, of course, do my job educating people, ALL PEOPLE, on how to better brand their business. That's what I'm good at. That's the truth I can tell.

What's yours?

If you want to join me in having a real discussion use this link. It'd be great to talk with you.

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Say No to People

A large scale pet store sells over 6400 items in their shop. Is it a good choice?

12.10.2019

My mom is a sales rep who works with pet store retailers. Some small and some large. She told me recently that a store she visits has over 6400 items on sale. 6400!

But that means they sell a lot of stuff, right? They probably need all of those items. Still, my curiosity wasn't satisfied. I asked, "why sell so many?"

Apparently people are more picky about their dog's food being gluten-free, paleo, with/without certain ingredients than most people are with their own nutrition. In short, they are trying to please everyone by having all of those needs met. No matter what pet you have, no matter what its needs are, they are trying to sell it.

I can't know for certain, but I'd imagine 80% of their sales comes from 20% (or less) of those 6400 products.

When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, the first thing he did was strip away 70% of Apple's products and got them focusing on what really mattered. Surprisingly, despite getting rid of a bunch of products, Apple turned its first quarterly profit the following January (see timeline for comparison). Apple didn't even have 50 products and they still struggled to keep their head above water. Can you imagine the crippling weight of 6400 products?

In-N-Out, the most successful burger chain on the west coast, sells cheeseburgers (with varying amounts of meat/cheese), french fries, shakes, and soft drinks. Each store does about $4.5M in annual sales and they have over 300 across the country. When people come to In-N-Out asking for a change to a menu item, they say "sorry, this isn't for you."

By turning away some people, they have a streamlined business offering and they become known for it. It exudes confidence and even people who can't or won't eat a cheeseburger respect that. The same could be said of Apple and people who want to change their offerings.

In the words of Seth Godin, have the courage to say, "this is not for you, but it is for someone who believes this."

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