Issues in establishing an alternative commerce platform

For the Creative Houston startup, I'm thinking about hosting a marketplace for emerging local artists. Based on this article, this strategy might succeed as long as we plan to let the artists graduate off the niche platform and join the big boys... 

SSRN: Competing with Complementors: An Empirical Look at Amazon.com, 2018-Jun-6 by Feng Zhu and Qihong Liu

Platform owners can exert considerable influence over their complementors’ welfare. Many complementors with successful products are pushed out of markets because platform owners enter their product spaces and compete directly with them. To mitigate such risks, complementors could build their businesses by aggregating non-blockbuster products or focusing on products requiring significant platform-specific investments to grow. They should also develop capabilities in new product discovery so that they could continually bring innovative products to their platforms. 

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Why good board members are hard to find

I'm all for having a very small board of people who actually want to contribute.  

Twitter: The Great Non-executive Director (NED), 2018-Oct-13 by Fred Destin

2/ what we normally get - a bunch of high level comments at board meetings only and vague moral support for the founders.

3/ what we’d really like - firstly someone who cares as deeply about the success of the business as the others around the table, and anticipates issues and dynamically maps out opportunities... 

6/ here is my list of wants from a great NED : (a) consigliere to the founders (b) independent voice on strategy (c) help align the board when issues arise (d) hold both investors and founders to account - be the institutional “memory bank” of the board

7/ (e) help the company anticipate major issues - in particular when it comes to financing (f) provide strong moral and ethical compass to everyone at difficult times (such as say a recap) (g) reframe the debate when it gets stuck

(h) speak the hard truths no one wants to hear in a non-partisan way (I) get to know everyone in the team and be a cheerleader for morale (j) help recruit (k) help with execution in areas of expertise. 

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Sales staffing for a startup

I do not normally listen to videos in order to learn, but this series from Peter Levine is very efficient. I have a deep marketing education already, and breadth of experience with salespeople, but this set of lectures allows me to check out the specific angles I have never handled before.  

Andreessen Horowitz: All Things Sales! 16 Mini-Lessons for Startup Founders, 2018-Sep-2 by Peter Levine

It takes time for an organization to learn how to sell its product.... The sales learning curve is divided into three phases: initiation, transition and execution.... 

We think about the initiation phase as hiring what I would call a "Renaissance rep." The person is probably technical, they're used to being a one-person band. There's no sales engineer or marketing department... just a lone wolf out there trying to drum up business. You're not going to find the Renaissance Rep coming out of a large organization.... 

Hire a VP Sales in the Execution phase.... And then, your Renaissance reps carry you into new geographies and new products. 

This perspective made SO much sense to me... I know about these things but not how to put them together. Peter Levine is a great teacher. I wish I had him as an MBA program professor years ago. 


On the path to effective social media efforts

Why should we invest in social media? There is a path where social media exposure can lead to changes in behavior.... It's a long and winding road!

Blog: Social Media monitoring and the spectrum of online relationships, 2009-Oct-1, by David J. Carr

Social Media campaigns are uniquely measurable but not all measures are equal and indicate true effectiveness. Different social media actions or online conversations have different values and influences upon consumer behaviour.

Multiple metrics, from number of followers and fans, to positive or negative sentiment, to reposts and influencer mentions, can be difficult to distinguish from one another. In effect we can become trapped in a state of analysis paralysis where there is too much social media data and too little understanding.... 

Indeed, the ratio between Engagement performance and Collaboration performance could be seen as being an indicator of people moving from discovering, sharing and “playing” with content to acting upon it – whether making it their own passion or hopefully even changing purchasing behaviour.

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How Prime has helped make Amazon into everyone's competitor

I find it hard to believe that Amazon's growing power will not create negative side effects for consumers. The purpose of "locking in" is to enable exploitation. First, the competitors are eliminated, then the customers are trapped. Government regulation is a normal, but not inevitable, response. 

Hacker Noon: A Map of Amazon and Modern Marketing, 2018-Sep-11 by David J. Carr

Perceptual Competition changes customer expectations. It means you set the bar regardless of whether your product or service competes in the category in question. Building on great customer experience it creates a meaningful and distinctive brand with cultural relevance, esteem and saliency. Occasionally it can involve the odd Super Bowl ad. The result is greater mental availability for your brand, driven by broad reach, emotions and associations — effectiveness not just efficiency. 

Amazon’s position as a dominant Perceptual Competitor is reflected in its $1,000,000,000,000 market value and a brand value of $207.6 billion. It is a result of selling not just low priced products with excellent customer service, but “the thing it has always sold the most — to investors, customers, the media — excitement.” Perceptual Competition means competing on brand experience rather than CX, and Touchpoints ROI Tracker studies show that this is increasingly a better indicator of market share success than spend or share of voice.... 

Prime’s ability to funnel new ideas to loyal customers drives growth and innovation.... By combining an aura of innovation and novelty with a simple subscription Amazon can generate more customer, investor and media excitement than a Costco membership.... The Whole Foods takeover offers Prime members better prices, more omnichannel opportunities to buy and pick-up, a stronger health assortment and a last mile delivery boost. It also offers non-Prime customers a very prominent real-world demonstration of what they are missing.... 

Ultimately the forces of experiential and perceptual competition that Amazon has unleashed on marketing and its value chain have helped create an “expectation economy” that brands and businesses must navigate to survive.

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Being judged by how we handle conflict...

Evidence suggests that I'm accepted by most people as a leader, but I think I'm really falling down in this area, largely because I avoid confrontation. I need to step up to it!

Fast Company: 4 ways the people around you are secretly judging your management potential, 18-Oct-19 by Gwen Moran

HOW DO YOU HANDLE CONFLICT?
One big way people form opinions about you is in observing how you react to conflict, says Natalie Michael, CEO of Waterfront Partners, Inc., a West Vancouver, British Columbia-based executive coaching firm and author of Your CEO Succession Playbook. “To what extent can you express your point of view, even in the face of opposition?” she says.

When you take on a leadership role, you’re going to need to be able to withstand criticism or opposing views without getting upset. “So, your ability to withstand opposition and criticism, sometimes even in a very public domain of social media, and to maintain a healthy perspective around that and emotional composition [will be part of how people form opinions about your leadership potential],” she says. Managing your informal interactions well when you’re not in agreement with your peers can go a long way toward helping them respect you as a leader.

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Smart loyalty: how to be loyal without becoming a pawn

I value loyalty as a behavior because it establishes stability. It offers predictability in a world that's changing ever faster. However, we have to be smart about our loyalty. In order to have a stable base from which we can handle change, we must build our platform carefully. We also have to inspect it and maintain it. When loyalty tries to consume us, or to move us around, it must be questioned and possibly removed. 

Loyalty exposes us to exploitation. This situation reminds me of the old saying "It's good to have an open mind but be careful that your brain doesn't fall out." I would say, "It's good to be loyal but be sure you don't become a pawn."