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September 2007
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November 2007

Barriers to Entry

We've got a great business with a great model.   Often I get asked "But what are your barriers to entry from competition?"   Now if your first answer is your patents, think again. Fence_2 That doesn't prevent anyone from copying what you do.   When I was at Novell many years ago, we viewed patents as a great tool for negotiating a deal.   So, we do have some very clever technology.  Not enough.  We also have a very unique business model.   Very niche oriented segmentation.  Maybe or maybe not enough.  But the one thing you can have which cannot be copied is relationships.   Great post on this on Tom Peter's blog. 

In an age of interchangeable products and easily duplicated services, customer relationships have become one of the most powerful competitive advantages available to a business.

Here's a personal example.  We do all of our banking with Square 1 Bank.  Why?   Because they spent the time to get to know us.  Know our needs.  Understand our vision.   And Bob, Leslie, Stasia, Amos and others are always available and quick to help whenever we need them.   And we return the favor whenever we can.   Should Silicon Valley Bank come calling when we are successful would we change?   I doubt it.  Because we've spent a lot of time with our bankers.   And once you have a good relationship, you never want to leave.

Spinning the Attention Wheel

Marketing can be so frustrating sometimes.  You know people want what you have, they're aware of what you have, but you don't hear from them.   I was talking to one of our customers and he told me, he's just so busy.   He laughed and said all of the things he needs to do is like a wheel, and when it stops and our name is there, he'll do something.Wheel

I like that analogy.   So the trick is to get more spots on the wheel so when it does stop, you have a good chance of getting that attention.   But be a nuisance and you just get taken off the wheel.

One good trick is a news summary delivered once a week or once a month (depending upon the desires of your market).   But if you're going to do this, do not make them jump through hoops to get the information.   For instance I get a weekly blast from eWeek.  Some great third party white papers.   So I click on the link, get a teaser for the paper, and then hit a registration wall.  Now let's think about this.  You know who am I.  You sent me an email.   Yet when I click on the link, it's total amnesia.   Here's a clue, transmit my email address with the link, pull my information, give me the opportunity to change it, then get the paper.  This ain't rocket science folks.