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Jason Kottke

1 year ago

Lessons on Leadership from the Dancing Guy

More on Leadership

Bart Krawczyk

Bart Krawczyk

1 year ago

Understanding several Value Proposition kinds will help you create better goods.

Fixing problems isn't enough.

Numerous articles and how-to guides on value propositions focus on fixing consumer concerns.

Contrary to popular opinion, addressing customer pain rarely suffices. Win your market category too.

Graphic provided by the author.

Core Value Statement

Value proposition usually means a product's main value.

Its how your product solves client problems. The product's core.

Graphic provided by the author.

Answering these questions creates a relevant core value proposition:

  • What tasks is your customer trying to complete? (Jobs for clients)

  • How much discomfort do they feel while they perform this? (pains)

  • What would they like to see improved or changed? (gains)

After that, you create products and services that alleviate those pains and give value to clients.

Value Proposition by Category

Your product belongs to a market category and must follow its regulations, regardless of its value proposition.

Creating a new market category is challenging. Fitting into customers' product perceptions is usually better than trying to change them.

New product users simplify market categories. Products are labeled.

Your product will likely be associated with a collection of products people already use.

Example: IT experts will use your communication and management app.

If your target clients think it's an advanced mail software, they'll compare it to others and expect things like:

  • comprehensive calendar

  • spam detectors

  • adequate storage space

  • list of contacts

  • etc.

If your target users view your product as a task management app, things change. You can survive without a contact list, but not status management.

Graphic provided by the author.

Find out what your customers compare your product to and if it fits your value offer. If so, adapt your product plan to dominate this market. If not, try different value propositions and messaging to put the product in the right context.

Finished Value Proposition

A comprehensive value proposition is when your solution addresses user problems and wins its market category.

Graphic provided by the author.

Addressing simply the primary value proposition may produce a valuable and original product, but it may struggle to cross the chasm into the mainstream market. Meeting expectations is easier than changing views.

Without a unique value proposition, you will drown in the red sea of competition.

To conclude:

  1. Find out who your target consumer is and what their demands and problems are.

  2. To meet these needs, develop and test a primary value proposition.

  3. Speak with your most devoted customers. Recognize the alternatives they use to compare you against and the market segment they place you in.

  4. Recognize the requirements and expectations of the market category.

  5. To meet or surpass category standards, modify your goods.

Great products solve client problems and win their category.

Christian Soschner

Christian Soschner

1 year ago

Steve Jobs' Secrets Revealed

From 1984 until 2011, he ran Apple using the same template.

What is a founder CEO's most crucial skill?

Presentation, communication, and sales

As a Business Angel Investor, I saw many pitch presentations and met with investors one-on-one to promote my companies.

There is always the conception of “Investors have to invest,” so there is no need to care about the presentation.

It's false. Nobody must invest. Many investors believe that entrepreneurs must convince them to invest in their business.

Sometimes — like in 2018–2022 — too much money enters the market, and everyone makes good money.

Do you recall the Buy Now, Pay Later Movement? This amazing narrative had no return potential. Only buyers who couldn't acquire financing elsewhere shopped at these companies.

Klarna's failing business concept led to high valuations.

Investors become more cautious when the economy falters. 2022 sees rising inflation, interest rates, wars, and civil instability. It's like the apocalypse's four horsemen have arrived.


Storytelling is important in rough economies.

When investors draw back, how can entrepreneurs stand out?

In Q2/2022, every study I've read said:

Investors cease investing

Deals are down in almost all IT industries from previous quarters.

What do founders need to do?

Differentiate yourself.

Storytelling talents help.


The Steve Jobs Way

Every time I watch a Steve Jobs presentation, I'm enthralled.

I'm a techie. Everything technical interests me. But, I skim most presentations.

What's Steve Jobs's secret?

Steve Jobs created Apple in 1976 and made it a profitable software and hardware firm in the 1980s. Macintosh goods couldn't beat IBM's. This mistake sacked him in 1985.

Before rejoining Apple in 1997, Steve Jobs founded Next Inc. and Pixar.

From then on, Apple became America's most valuable firm.

Steve Jobs understood people's needs. He said:

“People don’t know what they want until you show it to them. That’s why I never rely on market research. Our task is to read things that are not yet on the page.”

In his opinion, people talk about problems. A lot. Entrepreneurs must learn what the population's pressing problems are and create a solution.

Steve Jobs showed people what they needed before they realized it.

I'll explain:


Present a Big Vision

Steve Jobs starts every presentation by describing his long-term goals for Apple.

1984's Macintosh presentation set up David vs. Goliath. In a George Orwell-style dystopia, IBM computers were bad. It was 1984.

Apple will save the world, like Jedis.

Why do customers and investors like Big Vision?

People want a wider perspective, I think. Humans love improving the planet.

Apple users often cite emotional reasons for buying the brand.

Revolutionizing several industries with breakthrough inventions


Establish Authority

Everyone knows Apple in 2022. It's hard to find folks who confuse Apple with an apple around the world.

Apple wasn't as famous as it is today until Steve Jobs left in 2011.

Most entrepreneurs lack experience. They may market their company or items to folks who haven't heard of it.

Steve Jobs presented the company's historical accomplishments to overcome opposition.

In his presentation of the first iPhone, he talked about the Apple Macintosh, which altered the computing sector, and the iPod, which changed the music industry.

People who have never heard of Apple feel like they're seeing a winner. It raises expectations that the new product will be game-changing and must-have.


The Big Reveal

A pitch or product presentation always has something new.

Steve Jobs doesn't only demonstrate the product. I don't think he'd skip the major point of a company presentation.

He consistently discusses present market solutions, their faults, and a better consumer solution.

No solution exists yet.

It's a multi-faceted play:

  • It's comparing the new product to something familiar. This makes novelty and the product more relatable.

  • Describe a desirable solution.

  • He's funny. He demonstrated an iPod with an 80s phone dial in his iPhone presentation.

Then he reveals the new product. Macintosh presented itself.


Show the benefits

He outlines what Apple is doing differently after demonstrating the product.

How do you distinguish from others? The Big Breakthrough Presentation.

A few hundred slides might list all benefits.

Everyone would fall asleep. Have you ever had similar presentations?

When the brain is overloaded with knowledge, the limbic system changes to other duties, like lunch planning.

What should a speaker do? There's a classic proverb:

Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn” (— Not Benjamin Franklin).

Steve Jobs showcased the product live.

Again, using ordinary scenarios to highlight the product's benefits makes it relatable.

The 2010 iPad Presentation uses this technique.


Invite the Team and Let Them Run the Presentation

CEOs spend most time outside the organization. Many companies elect to have only one presenter.

It sends the incorrect message to investors. Product presentations should always include the whole team.

Let me explain why.

Companies needing investment money frequently have shaky business strategies or no product-market fit or robust corporate structure.

Investors solely bet on a team's ability to implement ideas and make a profit.

Early team involvement helps investors understand the company's drivers. Travel costs are worthwhile.

But why for product presentations?

Presenters of varied ages, genders, social backgrounds, and skillsets are relatable. CEOs want relatable products.

Some customers may not believe a white man's message. A black woman's message may be more accepted.

Make the story relatable when you have the best product that solves people's concerns.


Best example: 1984 Macintosh presentation with development team panel.

What is the largest error people make when companies fail?

Saving money on the corporate and product presentation.

Invite your team to five partner meetings when five investors are shortlisted.

Rehearse the presentation till it's natural. Let the team speak.

Successful presentations require structure, rehearsal, and a team. Steve Jobs nailed it.

Caspar Mahoney

Caspar Mahoney

1 year ago

Changing Your Mindset From a Project to a Product

Product game mindsets? How do these vary from Project mindset?

1950s spawned the Iron Triangle. Project people everywhere know and live by it. In stakeholder meetings, it is used to stretch the timeframe, request additional money, or reduce scope.

Quality was added to this triangle as things matured.

Credit: Peter Morville — https://www.flickr.com/photos/morville/40648134582

Quality was intended to be transformative, but none of these principles addressed why we conduct projects.

Value and benefits are key.

Product value is quantified by ROI, revenue, profit, savings, or other metrics. For me, every project or product delivery is about value.

Most project managers, especially those schooled 5-10 years or more ago (thousands working in huge corporations worldwide), understand the world in terms of the iron triangle. What does that imply? They worry about:

a) enough time to get the thing done.

b) have enough resources (budget) to get the thing done.

c) have enough scope to fit within (a) and (b) >> note, they never have too little scope, not that I have ever seen! although, theoretically, this could happen.

Boom—iron triangle.

To make the triangle function, project managers will utilize formal governance (Steering) to move those things. Increase money, scope, or both if time is short. Lacking funds? Increase time, scope, or both.

In current product development, shifting each item considerably may not yield value/benefit.

Even terrible. This approach will fail because it deprioritizes Value/Benefit by focusing the major stakeholders (Steering participants) and delivery team(s) on Time, Scope, and Budget restrictions.

Pre-agile, this problem was terrible. IT projects failed wildly. History is here.

Value, or benefit, is central to the product method. Product managers spend most of their time planning value-delivery paths.

Product people consider risk, schedules, scope, and budget, but value comes first. Let me illustrate.

Imagine managing internal products in an enterprise. Your core customer team needs a rapid text record of a chat to fix a problem. The consumer wants a feature/features added to a product you're producing because they think it's the greatest spot.

Project-minded, I may say;

Ok, I have budget as this is an existing project, due to run for a year. This is a new requirement to add to the features we’re already building. I think I can keep the deadline, and include this scope, as it sounds related to the feature set we’re building to give the desired result”.

This attitude repeats Scope, Time, and Budget.

Since it meets those standards, a project manager will likely approve it. If they have a backlog, they may add it and start specking it out assuming it will be built.

Instead, think like a product;

What problem does this feature idea solve? Is that problem relevant to the product I am building? Can that problem be solved quicker/better via another route ? Is it the most valuable problem to solve now? Is the problem space aligned to our current or future strategy? or do I need to alter/update the strategy?

A product mindset allows you to focus on timing, resource/cost, feasibility, feature detail, and so on after answering the aforementioned questions.

The above oversimplifies because

Leadership in discovery

Photo by Meriç Dağlı on Unsplash

Project managers are facilitators of ideas. This is as far as they normally go in the ‘idea’ space.

Business Requirements collection in classic project delivery requires extensive upfront documentation.

Agile project delivery analyzes requirements iteratively.

However, the project manager is a facilitator/planner first and foremost, therefore topic knowledge is not expected.

I mean business domain, not technical domain (to confuse matters, it is true that in some instances, it can be both technical and business domains that are important for a single individual to master).

Product managers are domain experts. They will become one if they are training/new.

They lead discovery.

Product Manager-led discovery is much more than requirements gathering.

Requirements gathering involves a Business Analyst interviewing people and documenting their requests.

The project manager calculates what fits and what doesn't using their Iron Triangle (presumably in their head) and reports back to Steering.

If this requirements-gathering exercise failed to identify requirements, what would a project manager do? or bewildered by project requirements and scope?

They would tell Steering they need a Business SME or Business Lead assigning or more of their time.

Product discovery requires the Product Manager's subject knowledge and a new mindset.

How should a Product Manager handle confusing requirements?

Product Managers handle these challenges with their talents and tools. They use their own knowledge to fill in ambiguity, but they have the discipline to validate those assumptions.

To define the problem, they may perform qualitative or quantitative primary research.

They might discuss with UX and Engineering on a whiteboard and test assumptions or hypotheses.

Do Product Managers escalate confusing requirements to Steering/Senior leaders? They would fix that themselves.

Product managers raise unclear strategy and outcomes to senior stakeholders. Open talks, soft skills, and data help them do this. They rarely raise requirements since they have their own means of handling them without top stakeholder participation.

Discovery is greenfield, exploratory, research-based, and needs higher-order stakeholder management, user research, and UX expertise.

Product Managers also aid discovery. They lead discovery. They will not leave customer/user engagement to a Business Analyst. Administratively, a business analyst could aid. In fact, many product organizations discourage business analysts (rely on PM, UX, and engineer involvement with end-users instead).

The Product Manager must drive user interaction, research, ideation, and problem analysis, therefore a Product professional must be skilled and confident.

Creating vs. receiving and having an entrepreneurial attitude

Photo by Yannik Mika on Unsplash

Product novices and project managers focus on details rather than the big picture. Project managers prefer spreadsheets to strategy whiteboards and vision statements.

These folks ask their manager or senior stakeholders, "What should we do?"

They then elaborate (in Jira, in XLS, in Confluence or whatever).

They want that plan populated fast because it reduces uncertainty about what's going on and who's supposed to do what.

Skilled Product Managers don't only ask folks Should we?

They're suggesting this, or worse, Senior stakeholders, here are some options. After asking and researching, they determine what value this product adds, what problems it solves, and what behavior it changes.

Therefore, to move into Product, you need to broaden your view and have courage in your ability to discover ideas, find insightful pieces of information, and collate them to form a valuable plan of action. You are constantly defining RoI and building Business Cases, so much so that you no longer create documents called Business Cases, it is simply ingrained in your work through metrics, intelligence, and insights.

Product Management is not a free lunch.

Plateless.

Plates and food must be prepared.

In conclusion, Product Managers must make at least three mentality shifts:

  1. You put value first in all things. Time, money, and scope are not as important as knowing what is valuable.

  2. You have faith in the field and have the ability to direct the search. YYou facilitate, but you don’t just facilitate. You wouldn't want to limit your domain expertise in that manner.

  3. You develop concepts, strategies, and vision. You are not a waiter or an inbox where other people can post suggestions; you don't merely ask folks for opinion and record it. However, you excel at giving things that aren't clearly spoken or written down physical form.

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Tim Soulo

Tim Soulo

1 year ago

Here is why 90.63% of Pages Get No Traffic From Google. 

The web adds millions or billions of pages per day.

How much Google traffic does this content get?

In 2017, we studied 2 million randomly-published pages to answer this question. Only 5.7% of them ranked in Google's top 10 search results within a year of being published.

94.3 percent of roughly two million pages got no Google traffic.

Two million pages is a small sample compared to the entire web. We did another study.

We analyzed over a billion pages to see how many get organic search traffic and why.

How many pages get search traffic?

90% of pages in our index get no Google traffic, and 5.2% get ten visits or less.

90% of google pages get no organic traffic

How can you join the minority that gets Google organic search traffic?

There are hundreds of SEO problems that can hurt your Google rankings. If we only consider common scenarios, there are only four.

Reason #1: No backlinks

I hate to repeat what most SEO articles say, but it's true:

Backlinks boost Google rankings.

Google's "top 3 ranking factors" include them.

Why don't we divide our studied pages by the number of referring domains?

66.31 percent of pages have no backlinks, and 26.29 percent have three or fewer.

Did you notice the trend already?

Most pages lack search traffic and backlinks.

But are these the same pages?

Let's compare monthly organic search traffic to backlinks from unique websites (referring domains):

More backlinks equals more Google organic traffic.

Referring domains and keyword rankings are correlated.

It's important to note that correlation does not imply causation, and none of these graphs prove backlinks boost Google rankings. Most SEO professionals agree that it's nearly impossible to rank on the first page without backlinks.

You'll need high-quality backlinks to rank in Google and get search traffic. 

Is organic traffic possible without links?

Here are the numbers:

Four million pages get organic search traffic without backlinks. Only one in 20 pages without backlinks has traffic, which is 5% of our sample.

Most get 300 or fewer organic visits per month.

What happens if we exclude high-Domain-Rating pages?

The numbers worsen. Less than 4% of our sample (1.4 million pages) receive organic traffic. Only 320,000 get over 300 monthly organic visits, or 0.1% of our sample.

This suggests high-authority pages without backlinks are more likely to get organic traffic than low-authority pages.

Internal links likely pass PageRank to new pages.

Two other reasons:

  1. Our crawler's blocked. Most shady SEOs block backlinks from us. This prevents competitors from seeing (and reporting) PBNs.

  2. They choose low-competition subjects. Low-volume queries are less competitive, requiring fewer backlinks to rank.

If the idea of getting search traffic without building backlinks excites you, learn about Keyword Difficulty and how to find keywords/topics with decent traffic potential and low competition.

Reason #2: The page has no long-term traffic potential.

Some pages with many backlinks get no Google traffic.

Why? I filtered Content Explorer for pages with no organic search traffic and divided them into four buckets by linking domains.

Almost 70k pages have backlinks from over 200 domains, but no search traffic.

By manually reviewing these (and other) pages, I noticed two general trends that explain why they get no traffic:

  1. They overdid "shady link building" and got penalized by Google;

  2. They're not targeting a Google-searched topic.

I won't elaborate on point one because I hope you don't engage in "shady link building"

#2 is self-explanatory:

If nobody searches for what you write, you won't get search traffic.

Consider one of our blog posts' metrics:

No organic traffic despite 337 backlinks from 132 sites.

The page is about "organic traffic research," which nobody searches for.

News articles often have this. They get many links from around the web but little Google traffic.

People can't search for things they don't know about, and most don't care about old events and don't search for them.


Note:

Some news articles rank in the "Top stories" block for relevant, high-volume search queries, generating short-term organic search traffic.

The Guardian's top "Donald Trump" story:

Ahrefs caught on quickly:

"Donald Trump" gets 5.6M monthly searches, so this page got a lot of "Top stories" traffic.

I bet traffic has dropped if you check now.


One of the quickest and most effective SEO wins is:

  1. Find your website's pages with the most referring domains;

  2. Do keyword research to re-optimize them for relevant topics with good search traffic potential.

Bryan Harris shared this "quick SEO win" during a course interview:

He suggested using Ahrefs' Site Explorer's "Best by links" report to find your site's most-linked pages and analyzing their search traffic. This finds pages with lots of links but little organic search traffic.

We see:

The guide has 67 backlinks but no organic traffic.

We could fix this by re-optimizing the page for "SERP"

A similar guide with 26 backlinks gets 3,400 monthly organic visits, so we should easily increase our traffic.

Don't do this with all low-traffic pages with backlinks. Choose your battles wisely; some pages shouldn't be ranked.

Reason #3: Search intent isn't met

Google returns the most relevant search results.

That's why blog posts with recommendations rank highest for "best yoga mat."

Google knows that most searchers aren't buying.

It's also why this yoga mats page doesn't rank, despite having seven times more backlinks than the top 10 pages:

The page ranks for thousands of other keywords and gets tens of thousands of monthly organic visits. Not being the "best yoga mat" isn't a big deal.

If you have pages with lots of backlinks but no organic traffic, re-optimizing them for search intent can be a quick SEO win.

It was originally a boring landing page describing our product's benefits and offering a 7-day trial.

We realized the problem after analyzing search intent.

People wanted a free tool, not a landing page.

In September 2018, we published a free tool at the same URL. Organic traffic and rankings skyrocketed.

Reason #4: Unindexed page

Google can’t rank pages that aren’t indexed.

If you think this is the case, search Google for site:[url]. You should see at least one result; otherwise, it’s not indexed.

A rogue noindex meta tag is usually to blame. This tells search engines not to index a URL.

Rogue canonicals, redirects, and robots.txt blocks prevent indexing.

Check the "Excluded" tab in Google Search Console's "Coverage" report to see excluded pages.

Google doesn't index broken pages, even with backlinks.

Surprisingly common.

In Ahrefs' Site Explorer, the Best by Links report for a popular content marketing blog shows many broken pages.

One dead page has 131 backlinks:

According to the URL, the page defined content marketing. —a keyword with a monthly search volume of 5,900 in the US.

Luckily, another page ranks for this keyword. Not a huge loss.

At least redirect the dead page's backlinks to a working page on the same topic. This may increase long-tail keyword traffic.


This post is a summary. See the original post here

Matthew O'Riordan

Matthew O'Riordan

1 year ago

Trends in SaaS Funding from 2016 to 2022

Christopher Janz of Point Nine Capital created the SaaS napkin in 2016. This post shows how founders have raised cash in the last 6 years. View raw data.

Round size

Unsurprisingly, round sizes have expanded and will taper down in 2022. In 2016, pre-seed rounds were $200k to $500k; currently, they're $1-$2m. Despite the macroeconomic scenario, Series A have expanded from $3m to $12m in 2016 to $6m and $18m in 2022.

Generated from raw data for Seed to Series B from 2016–2022

Valuation

There are hints that valuations are rebounding this year. Pre-seed valuations in 2022 are $12m from $3m in 2016, and Series B prices are $270m from $100m in 2016.

Generated from raw data for Seed to Series B from 2016–2022

Compared to public SaaS multiples, Series B valuations more closely reflect the market, but Seed and Series A prices seem to be inflated regardless of the market.

Source: CapitalIQ as of 13-May-2022

I'd like to know how each annual cohort performed for investors, based on the year they invested and the valuations. I can't access this information.

ARR

Seed firms' ARR forecasts have risen from $0 to $0.6m to $0 to $1m. 2016 expected $1.2m to $3m, 2021 $0.5m to $4m, and this year $0.5m to $2.5m, suggesting that Series A firms may raise with less ARR today. Series B minutes fell from $4.2m to $3m.

Generated from raw data for Seed to Series B from 2016–2022

Capitalization Rate

2022 is the year that VCs start discussing capital efficiency in portfolio meetings. Given the economic shift in the markets and the stealthy VC meltdown, it's not surprising. Christopher Janz added capital efficiency to the SaaS Napkin as a new statistic for Series A (3.5x) and Series B. (2.5x). Your investors must live under a rock if they haven't asked about capital efficiency. If you're unsure:

The Capital Efficiency Ratio is the ratio of how much a company has spent growing revenue and how much they’re receiving in return. It is the broadest measure of company effectiveness in generating ARR

What next?

No one knows what's next, including me. All startup and growing enterprises around me are tightening their belts and extending their runways in anticipation of a difficult fundraising ride. If you're wanting to raise money but can wait, wait till the market is more stable and access to money is easier.

Sammy Abdullah

Sammy Abdullah

1 year ago

SaaS payback period data

It's ok and even desired to be unprofitable if you're gaining revenue at a reasonable cost and have 100%+ net dollar retention, meaning you never lose customers and expand them. To estimate the acceptable cost of new SaaS revenue, we compare new revenue to operating loss and payback period. If you pay back the customer acquisition cost in 1.5 years and never lose them (100%+ NDR), you're doing well.

To evaluate payback period, we compared new revenue to net operating loss for the last 73 SaaS companies to IPO since October 2017. (55 out of 73). Here's the data. 1/(new revenue/operating loss) equals payback period. New revenue/operating loss equals cost of new revenue.

Payback averages a year. 55 SaaS companies that weren't profitable at IPO got a 1-year payback. Outstanding. If you pay for a customer in a year and never lose them (100%+ NDR), you're establishing a valuable business. The average was 1.3 years, which is within the 1.5-year range.

New revenue costs $0.96 on average. These SaaS companies lost $0.96 every $1 of new revenue last year. Again, impressive. Average new revenue per operating loss was $1.59.

Loss-in-operations definition. Operating loss revenue COGS S&M R&D G&A (technical point: be sure to use the absolute value of operating loss). It's wrong to only consider S&M costs and ignore other business costs. Operating loss and new revenue are measured over one year to eliminate seasonality.

Operating losses are desirable if you never lose a customer and have a quick payback period, especially when SaaS enterprises are valued on ARR. The payback period should be under 1.5 years, the cost of new income < $1, and net dollar retention 100%.