SOBCon09 Day 2, Session 6 With Liz Strauss #SOBCon

(www.inkthinkerblog.com) — I’m at SOBCon09 in Chicago with @lizstrauss and @starbucker. I’m taking notes as people talk, so there will be typos; deal with it. Liz is up as the last official speaker of SOBCon09 and we’re talking about Negotiating Relationships: Growth Strategy Communication.

Until you put a label on a number, it’s just a number. We sometimes forget that when we’re in business. They have to have a label on them to mean anything. They’re kind of important things, but you have to get to the heart of the data for them to mean anything. Liz is going to give us 5 numbers to move us from the spreadsheets and the tools to 5 big-picture ideas on how to build or rebuild a product or company — because that’s what we’re really here to do.

The Number 1

(Liz makes a dot on a flip chart.) One in mathematics is the multiplicative identity. It’s also the number for focus, and without focus, you can’t go anywhere. When you have 18 fishing poles in the water, you end up running up and down the bank checking fishing poles. And when you do catch a fish you don’t keep it because you think you’re going to catch a bigger one. The most important thing you can do is make a decision. Step 1: Focus. Decide Who You Are. Who is Liz Strauss? Liz Strauss knows how people think. If you think right, your business will run right.

When you’re in a canoe about to go over a waterfall, it is not the time to talk about who dropped about the paddle. Be focused on looking in the right direction. If you want to get where you’re going and build something strong, know who you are and focus.

The Number 2

(Liz draws a second dot and connects them with a line.) Two is connecting. Two is conversation. You have to have a powerful network, a network of relationships. You may be one person, but you can’t do it alone. What’s really key about making relationships is Choose Wisely. You want relationships with people who look like you because if you make relationships with people who are far bigger than you, you have to deal with their far-bigger-than-you priorities. Get with people with whom you can sit on the same table psychologically. Find people going for the same goals.

Think of it as a Venn diagram. When you make lots of Venn diagrams, you find that your network and their network go together. When you do it from the same side of the table, you’re helping them and they’re helping you.

The Number 3

(Liz draws a third dot and makes a triangle with a C at each point.) Once C is the tridimensional conversation. If you’re on the internet, there are 3 conversations going on: the one I’m having with you, the one that’s occurring that we’re having with the eavesdroppers, and the asynchronous conversation that all of us need to learn and keep hold of, which we’re having with future. This is not just with our future boss, children, and grandchildren, but our future self. That’s the one that really caught Liz up: that in 3, 6, 9 months, years, etc, she’d be able to see herself and a bad haircut and bad lapels.

One C is Content because that is the substance of who we are, what gives up depth and reason and relevance.

One C is connections.

The Number 4

(Liz turns the triangle into a house by drawing a window pane shape below it.) A bell curve (this is beside the house) represents the life cycle of any product; it could represent six months or 10 years. What you want to do is when you get right to almost the tip of the bell curve, almost the peak, is when you want to revise the product so that the bell curve starts over and keeps going on.If you revise the product right when the curve is about to peak, it gives old customers a reason to buy it again. If you revise that e-book right when it’s about to peak out (Now with 30% new content!) now those people who bought the e-book will go, “Hmm, maybe I should buy it again!” and that’s how you keep a product always growing. Now how do you keep a company always growing? (She begins labeling boxes)

  • Left column: Old customer
  • Right column: New customer
  • Top row: Old product
  • Bottom row: New customer

Old customer/product = low risk, but ultimate death

New customer/new product = high risk and high cost

You want to build something in the Old customer/New Product and New Customer/Old Product boxes.

Here’s how:

One product that’s a red widget for blondes in the first release. In year 2, make a blue widget for blondes and a red widget for brunettes. In year 3, make a green widget for blondes, a blue widget for brunettes, and a red widget for redheads. Keep building a new product for old customers and rerelease an old product for new customers. That’s how Amazon did it: The moved a little bit at a time rather than just starting to sell shoes on a book website.

The Number 5

When you build these things, you have to deliver, which is where most people fall down. When you build a product, you make a promise that you’re going to do something and you have to deliver on that promise. Which brings us back to number 1. One person with one idea, no matter who it is, it just takes one who connects to other people who decides to build a product who delivers. That’s how you build a company. That’s all I have to say.

Simple Tips for Starting Your Business

  1. Be really, really clear on what you want to do.
  2. Know who you want to reach, find out who they are, make sure they’re reachable, and listen to what they’re saying. Find out how to engage them (probably through twitter, FB, LI, depending on who they are) and be careful not to limit yourself. Use several search tools to find out who is there.
  3. Imagine what would move you if you were those people, and try to be irresistible from their point of view from head, heart, and vision in terms of what would make it easier in my life. If the product or service didn’t fit more easily in my life, I wouldn’t want it.

Contents Copyright © 2006-2014 Kristen King

5 comments… add one
  • I don’t think enough folks in the online social media sphere think of themselves as offering a “product” but don’t you think that our writings are in fact “products” I always thought I was a good note taker. But having also been in the room for this preso, I see from reading your post I missed several things. You are a note-taking machine, thanks !

  • Karen Swim May 4, 2009

    Kristen, wow! There is so much meat here. I could not make it to SOBcon and I can see how much I missed out. This has given me a great deal to think about.

    Karen Swim´s last blog post..Vision or Lie?

  • Lori May 5, 2009

    VERY cool! We are a product and our talents are the commodity. And it’s in the approach, as well. I love all her tips.

  • Liz Strauss May 9, 2009

    Kristen,
    Thank you for this. I never write what I’m going to speak. It’s nice to know you got it all down.

    I have so much more to say about all of it. We don’t take our products seriously enough and in that way we work harder than we need to. … as Kevin points out, even on our blogs. We write when we could be repackaging and serving our readers better with more.

    I’m looking to how I can better tell that story now.

    Thank you again for this.

    Liz Strauss´s last blog post..Thanks to Week 185 SOBs

  • Stock Investing May 14, 2009

    Nice read. I like your tips for starting up a business. All those points are right and should be told to everyone who is starting the business.

    To know your customers and your suppliers is very important in every business.

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