Best talk ever
Last week I was lucky enough to attend a talk by Sasha Strauss (@SashaStrauss, http://www.linkedin.com/in/sashastrauss), an expert on brand strategy. The announcement for the meetup claimed Sasha was “amazing”. At first I thought this description wasslightly exaggerated. After 3 minutes of hearing Sasha talk, it became clear it wasnt - this was the best talk I’ve heard in a very long time.
First of all, Sasha is a phenomenal speaker. The talk/Q&A session lasted for 3 hours, the crowd held on to every word, and nobody left early. It became apparent to me that great content is very important, and can even make up to 100% of a good speech. But delivery is what takes the speech from 100% to 200%. Great speaking with crappy content will piss people off. You need to add value. But great delivery is what sticks in your listeners mind, and makes them write glowing blog posts about you. (This is why I’m re-enrolling in Toastmasters!)
This brings me to the next point. After hearing Sasha, I realized that Branding is to speaking skills, what content is to product. Branding could be the most powerful leverage/scale tool. VentureHacks claim there are 4 types of scale: People, Product, Capital and Community. Coming from traditional finance background, I always considered Capital to be the god of leverage. In the recent years, as an entrepreur, I began to realize that People are.
Branding is another form of scale/leverage, and could be the most effective one. It takes time to build, but all that matters is that you consistently instill in your customers an idea that would influence their purchase preference in your favor. This idea defies explanation, quantification, or reason. If you’re successful at this, customers will stand by you and pay you multiples of what competition charges. In fact, discounting your product will work against your brand (hello Apple). Of course, you have to have a great product. Otherwise branding efforts will only piss customers off. But there are plenty of examples of fantastic products, with scalable and profitable business models that failed. Ironically, it comes back to the same word - idea - but not in a sense of “hey, I came up with an idea for a product, and it’s going to make me millions of dollars”, but “Mr. Customer, you can rely on us to consistently offer you an experience you love”.
If you have a chance to hear Sasha speak, don’t miss it.