Book: Differentiate or Die, Jack Trout

Review

Similar lessons to author’s previous book, Positioning, but worth a read nonetheless. Lessons here can be a difference between a failed or a successful company. Also great lessons for successful companies that don’t want to fail.

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tl;dr

Quality is not a difference, it’s a given. When the market is confused, the leader wins. Every aspect of your communication should reflect your difference. Oversimplify your message. The more variations you attach to the brand, the more the mind loses focus. If you can’t get everyone to prefer you, find a group that will. When you chase after another target segment, chances are you’ll chase away your original customer. Differentiating has got to line up with the perceptions in the mind, not go against them.

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Book: Traction, Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares

Review

Great overview of the most common and effective marketing channels, how to test them and how to scale up. Fantastic for startups and a great reminder for existing businesses.

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tl;dr

19 traction channels. Brainstorm ideas for all channels and do a quick test for the promising ones. Then focus solely on the channel that gave you the best results. Targeting niche blogs is one of the most effective ways to get first customers. Build easy-to-use micro tools that are easily found and shareable.

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Book: Positioning, Al Ries and Jack Trout

Review

The first edition of this book was published in 1987, but the lessons are as important today as they were 30 years ago. If you can get through the outdated examples, this book gives fantastic advice on how to position a product in an overcrowded market. Highly recommended.

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tl;dr

Positioning the product in the mind of the prospect. Not creating something new and different but manipulating what is already there to retie connections that already exist. Do not try to change the mind of the prospect. Oversimplify your message. Select a position that no one else has a firm grip on. Consistency – keep at it year after year. Name should begin the positioning process by telling the prospect what the product’s major benefit is. Avoid initials. Do not use an existing name for really new products. Keep in mind the line-extension trap.

The first rule of positioning is: To win the battle for the mind, you can’t compete head-on against a company that has a strong, established position. You can go around, under or over, but never head to head.

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Book: Start Small, Stay Small, Rob Walling

Review

Great intro into building a small software company. Some really good advice on finding and serving your market.

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tl;dr

Order of importance is market, marketing, aesthetic, function. Go into niche markets and create focused products. Target small businesses and consumers. Create complementary products not products across niches. Build an email list. Outsource tasks and automate processes.

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Book: Hooked – How To Build Habit-Forming Products, Nir Eyal

Review

A must read. If you build any kind of products, you need to read this book.

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tl;dr

Customers are less price-sensitive about products around which they have formed habits. They increase the dependency by storing value in the product. Two factors for habits: frequency and utility. The more users invest time and effort into a service, the more they value it. Identify habitual users, codify the steps they took (“Habit Path”) and modify the product to fit the new insights.

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Book: Better and Faster, Jeremy Gutsche

Review

Great book, reminding us in this day and age, no matter how big or small or how successful your company is, you need to always innovate and “be paranoid”. Recommended.

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tl;dr

Look for connections and try to understand the patterns. Be a hunter (insatiability, curiosity, willingness to destroy), not a farmer (complacent with success, repetitive, overly protective). Understand your customer, adapt, and fashion fast solutions. Experiment with new ideas. Target niches.

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Book: The Pumpkin Plan, Mike Michalowicz

Review

Really good book and very fun to read. It reminded me again of the importance of systemizing work and focusing on your best customers. Highly recommended.

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tl;dr

Find the top clients (/client type), treat them preferentially, fire all other clients (/client types). Ask the top clients about their frustrations and solve them. Don’t work, build systems for people and things to do the work.

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