The Network effect – for your personal growth

B2B, compounding, Networking, relationships

If you search Wikipedia the network effect is how the value of the good or services increases with the number of participants. Companies which operate on this kind of a phenomenon grow in value exponentially. Think Amazon. The more the participants on the market place that they have created, the more the customers whose needs will get fulfilled and they will buy more, more often. This is positive feedback loop with more consumers on the marketplace, more the people who will want to sell on the Amazon Marketplace. The growth of these kind of companies is exponential.

In case of B2B having connections with people and keeping relationships alive is a big positive. While social media helps getting connected to people, it does not help build relationships. So while I may have a 1000+ connections on Linkedin, my relationships would be very limited.

You build relationships by giving first. By doing that you invoke the reciprocity principle espoused by Robert Cialdini in his book Influence. What is however even more important, is to keep the relationships alive. People keep moving. They changes places, they change jobs. When they do that, they get connected to more people. To emphasise the value of your individual network, Joe Polish runs Genius Network which is a network where super successful entrepreneurs network and master mind.

The more people you know, the more people who fall into your network. I have had introductions to people because of my relationships that I cultivated over years. Those connects in turn helped us get even bigger, because now there were more people who got connected to us and invited us to work with them. Such people who can connect you to such major influencers can change the trajectory of your business completely. The more pf these kind of people you form relationships, the more influencers you get connected to indirectly.It was typical to the definition of the Network Effect I spoke about earlier. This kind of exponential growth is compounding over a period of time.

You have to however be patient. “Rome was not built in a Day” applies to building relationships as well. Also not everyone you “give first” will reciprocate and you don’t know the timeline when they will reciprocate, if they ever will. But you keep doing this work on a consistent basis because when the critical mass is reached, there’s a sudden explosion in the kind of business you can grow.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!

Product Management concepts for a consumer company

B2B, differentiation, ideal customer, Marketing, Product Management, Profitability, Risks, single target market

When you see the large venture capital backed companies burning cash month on month you wonder if the general concepts of Product Management / Marketing are valid, these days, for a consumer facing company.

There is one dynamic to keep in mind – the principles of Product Management / Marketing have not changed, what’s changed is the availability of money at extremely low rates – in most developed countries the interest rates are hovering at or less than 1% on bank deposit . In Japan just a few months back interest rates had actually gone negative.

If you keep this in mind where cost of money is so low, people are looking for ways to get a higher return on their investment so the propensity to take risk is higher. If the cost of money would be say at about 5% on bank deposits, then the propensity to put in risk capital would be different. That’s also one of the key reasons that the stock markets are at a record high even though countries have been facing lockdowns.

Now inspite of this these VC based companies are generally not stupid. The VCs do put in checks and balances to ensure their money does not sink.

So the burning of cash is part of a strategy to acquire customers. This would only succeed if the life time value of a customer is known. This principle is true for any kind of product or service you get into. If you know the life time value of a customer then you can actually buy customers because you know that if they are happy they will buy more often from you and also refer others to you.

The second is the convenience factor / inertia factor. Once you have given some customer a good service and they get used to the convenience of working with you, they will generally end up buying from you because the cost of getting another vendor is quite high. In case of B2B customers the number of processes to complete to get a new vendor empanelled are so large that procurement teams want to limit their vendors. In case of consumer products, its so difficult to understand another new “app” to order items. So you go ahead and order again on an “amazon” just because your card is already loaded and you can buy without hassle.

The other factor is critical volume . In the “app” based consumer companies the network effect plays a big role. So the larger the customers and vendors on a platform they feed into each other to create a positive snowball effect. Due to this in any market you cannot have more than two “amazon” or more than two “uber” kind of companies.

In B2B business also something similar happens with critical volume. If you look at it about 25-30 years back there were at least 5-6 prominent ERP vendors including SAP, Oracle Financials, MFG Pro etc. today there are only 2 primary companies in this arena. This is because based on the number of installations, the number of technical people needed goes up, so do salaries so more people train themselves to avail this opportunity. Slowly the availability of trained manpower becomes one of the key reasons to choose a product.

So in my opinion the principles of product management / marketing don’t change. The methods / platforms for delivering the product / service may change as technology changes. In my next few posts I will cover other principles like Single Target Market, Ideal Customer profile etc.

I would love to know if any of you thinks otherwise.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!