Scaling-up

Why Amazon is eating the world

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By Zack Kantor

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"They are systemically productizing the entire company"

I co-founded a software startup in December. Each month, I send out an update to our investors to keep them updated on our progress. But the past month was a bit different — our industry (retail) is going through a transformation.

Instead of just writing about our “internal” news, I wrote about the impending apocalypse in the broader world of retail. More specifically, I included some thoughts on Amazon and why their commanding lead is only going to get larger. Amazon is the most impressive company on earth, and I think it is one of the least understood. A few people suggested that I post this publicly, so here goes.

My first company, an auto parts manufacturer, sold to Amazon both as a vendor (where Amazon issues purchase orders for bulk product) and as a “Marketplace seller” (where Amazon takes a cut of a third-party sellers’ products sold on Amazon.com) — so I have some insight into Amazon’s internal operations and initiatives that aren’t often publicly discussed.

I’ve followed AWS and Amazon’s other various offerings for some time, as well, and Amazon as a company has become something of a personal obsession of mine. I have some further thoughts on Amazon and the impending retail apocalypse that I wanted to share for those who are interested in the overall future of retail.

Consensus is that we’ve hit a tipping point and the retail industry is finally seeing some major collateral damage from Amazon’s monster growth — and mainstream/non-tech news has started giving this a lot of coverage. There is a lot of discussion about whether Amazon’s advantage is sustainable or whether other retailers (namely, Walmart) will be able to mitigate Amazon’s dominance as they start to replicate Amazon’s model. (Read More...)

How to 'Productize' Your Service Business Offerings

Image credit: Shutterstock

Image credit: Shutterstock

By Justin Gray

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If you own or lead a professional services company, you understand the unique challengesyou face in not offering a tangible product. Even if your business is thriving, you still only have so much time to exchange for money. Try as you might to maximize price or delivery and allow yourself a comfortable margin, you will still reach a natural ceiling. If you fear you’re being trapped in a boutique services body, it’s time to change your customers’ perceptions by moving into a productized model.

When I started LeadMD, all I wanted to do was walk into a space and not have to fight tooth and nail for things that made obvious sense. I saw how few resources there were for modern marketers, and marketing automation in particular. l also learned from my eight years running sales and marketing that consultants were the biggest disappointment, and yet the only option to bridge the skills gap that existed in the market. Clients would come to us with one specific problem, we would reinvent ourselves to fit that niche, and that would be the end of it -- until one day.

We rarely applied every capability to each client at the start. There was nearly always more expertise we could offer to grow faster or in different ways. We just had to figure out how to communicate our full range of expertise and we quickly made a change to our pricing model. A year into the business, we came up with the idea of productization as a way not only to make our service offerings consistent and trainable, but also to advertise the diverse array of services we offer. This was the day things shifted from: “I know this and therefore others will pay me to do that for them,” to “I want to learn everything about marketing. Quantify and organize it, and then bring it to market in a highly repeatable manner.” (Read More...)