Friday, June 14, 2019

[VIDEO] George Deeb Discusses 'Pain Killer vs. Vitamin' Business Models

Posted By: George Deeb - 6/14/2019

I was recently interviewed by the  Atlanta Small Business Network  (ASBN), an online "television network" serving the small b...

I was recently interviewed by the Atlanta Small Business Network (ASBN), an online "television network" serving the small business community, about how to make your business a "need to have" painkiller and not a "nice to have" vitamin.  I thought this video turned out great, and I wanted to share it with all of you, to help with your product strategy needs.  I hope you like!!

The embedded video player didn't give me the option to change the size of this video.  But, if you want to see a bigger version, simply click the expand size button in the player above, or feel free to watch it on the ASBN website.

Thanks again to Jim Fitzpatrick and the ASBN team for having me on the show.  I look forward to our next interview together.

For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

The Best Employees Have These '31 Flavors'

Posted By: George Deeb - 6/08/2019

Having good employees will make or break a company’s success. I have previously written about how best to read resumes and screen employ...

Having good employees will make or break a company’s success. I have previously written about how best to read resumes and screen employee candidates, but that is before they are actually working for the company and you get a chance to see their “true colors” when they are not “on show” during the interview process.  This post is designed to help you identify the best traits that most successful employees share, so you can “double down” on those best employees and “weed out” the rest, as nothing can take down a company faster than a bunch of toxic employees that don’t beat to the company’s drum.  The best employees have these “31 Flavors” blended into one.

Read the rest of this post in Entrepreneur, which I guest authored this week.

For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Lesson #314: The Only Winners in Ecommerce? Amazon, Google and Facebook!

Posted By: George Deeb - 6/06/2019

I have been a long-time fan of the ecommerce industry.  As offline retailers were struggling to compete with online retailers, many larg...

I have been a long-time fan of the ecommerce industry.  As offline retailers were struggling to compete with online retailers, many large chains went out of business, and an increasing amount of consumer buying moved online.  For a long time, ecommerce startups were printing money, in what felt like a “can’t lose” industry over the last couple decades.  But, like with any “gold rush”, empowered by ecommerce platforms like Shopify that made it quick and inexpensive to get your online store up and running, ecommerce attracted a bunch of competitors trying to get their products discovered online.

But, what happens when millions of ecommerce stores are fighting to get discovered on only three primary websites (Amazong, Google and Facebook) where consumers are looking for potential shopping solutions?  All hell breaks loose, wreaking havoc on your cost of customer acquisition and your bottom line profits.  Which means the only long term winners in ecommerce are going to be Amazon, Google and Facebook (“The Big Three”), who keep raking in all the highly-profitable advertising dollars, while the ecommerce businesses themselves are starting to struggle to make a profit.  Allow me to explain.


The ecommerce industry in the U.S. was approximately $500BN in size in 2018, and has been one of the fastest growing areas of the economy.  This big market has been attracting tons of large retail corporations and startup entrepreneurs that have been trying to capture their piece of the pie.  What started off as a handful of ecommerce sites in the infancy of the internet has grown to over one million ecommerce businesses in the U.S. alone (and growing daily), each competing for consumer attention.


But, how to do you get consumer attention?  In today’s market, that largely means The Big Three websites.  But, there is a limited supply of positions on the first page of The Big Three’s website search results.  Which means with limited supply and growing demand, the price of getting discovered keeps going up and up.  Which means the cost of acquiring a new ecommerce customer is quickly increasing, eating into the profitability margins of those ecommerce businesses.

To me, it is quickly becoming a race to the bottom for the ecommerce businesses, many of which can no longer drive a profit on their first sale.  They now must cross their fingers that they have a quick and frequent repeat sale cycle, to make their profits from the second and third transactions down the road.  Which may work well for a consumable vitamin business, but doesn’t work so well for a non-consumable mattress business, as an example.


As costs keep going up and up for the ecommerce businesses, that means advertising revenues keep going up and up for The Big Three.  Which means the only true long term winners in ecommerce will be The Big Three!!  Said another way, if advertisers are willing to invest up to one third of their revenues into consumer marketing efforts, that is over $150BN of largely free and clear profits for The Big Three to share between themselves.  While at the same time, all the ecommerce businesses will simply struggle to break even as their marketing costs continue to soar to higher and higher levels.  Pretty picture for The Big Three; ugly picture for the ecommerce businesses.


Let me provide an example here.  When I was running iExplore in the year 2000, I could buy a Google “adventure travel” search click for $0.25, competing against a handful of competitors.  Those clicks would net me around a $200 cost of acquisition per new customer, or around 20% of my $1,000 gross profit margin.  Resulting in a very healthy bottom line profit margin.  Fast forward to today, that same click may cost $2.50 (10x more), as hundreds of competitors are now fighting for the top positions on those keywords.  Which means my cost of customer acquisition has grown to $2,000 today.  And, instead of driving an $800 profit on the first sale, I am now losing $1,000 on the first sale.  A pretty grim reality, to say the least.


Google and Facebook clearly present their marketing challenges, but Amazon is even worse.  Over half of all shopping searches start at Amazon.  But, there is a price to pay for that distribution.  Amazon charges around a 15% revenue share to get promoted on their website, assuming you do your own fulfillment (the fee rises to around 25% if you need Amazon to do the fulfillment).  And, that is before Amazon has fully exploited their ambition of building a Google-like advertising marketplace to ensure your products get discovered on their platform.  When you layer marketing costs on top of the distribution and fulfillment fees, there is going to be no profits left for anyone except Amazon.  And, if you were hoping for repeat sales to drive your long term profits, good luck, as Amazon does not allow you to share in any of the customer records created.  They are Amazon’s customers, not yours, and you are not allowed to repeat market to them anywhere except on Amazon.  All in all, a great win for Amazon, and a strong kick in the gut for the ecommerce businesses.


Even if you are one of the lucky ecommerce businesses that are driving a healthy profit today.  Enjoy it while it lasts.  It is only a matter of time before new competitors learn of your success on The Big Three websites, and try to enter your market.  We’ll see what your profits look like in a couple years, after the flock of competitors start fighting for position around your keywords.  And, this will be the case in nearly every category of ecommerce, so it doesn’t really matter what products you sell.

So, for all you ecommerce lovers out there (myself included), I have these cautionary words of wisdom for you:  think twice before getting into the ecommerce business.  If you want to win long term in ecommerce, stop thinking about what products you are trying to sell, and think more about how you can profitability grow your business without relying on The Big Three websites (e.g., viral word of mouth, direct mail, smaller websites) with proprietary or patented products only found on your website.  Or, better yet, think about how you are going to build a new fourth competitor to The Big Three, as that is where the real profits are long term, without having to deal with all the merchandising, warehousing, markdowns and other headaches that come with running an ecommerce business.

For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb.

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