It’s not the price, stupid. It is the value (proposition)

We always hear that the customer is not buying because the price is too high. Is the price important?

Of course, most clients will say yes in any survey or in sales negotiation. Actually, there are departments at your clients that know only two words: Too expensive!! Give me rebates! That is the purchasing department and it is their job to negotiate the price of a purchase. However, is this true, that even for B2B customers only the price is important?

Observe the jobs-to-be-done of your customers. Don’t ask the customers

Let’s take an example from RWE, a huge German utility firm. Let’s take the case they need to purchase electronic testing equipment. Nothing fancy, just a plain vanilla device for 30 to 50 Euro. Traditionally, this purchase would be a C category purchase. C means not critically important to the firm and therefore the firm usually shops around among different suppliers for a good price.

So you would assume that price is the decisive criteria for a firm to purchase from you. And yes, if you survey customers what is important in their decision to purchase C goods, the price will be on top.

So, all B2B marketplaces of the late 1990s and early 2000s like Onvia had the value proposition that price of the goods are the most important criteria for the B2B market. So they offered everything economics told them what to do in a price sensitive market: Make auctions, offer pool buying for larger quantities or make requests for proposals.

Not the price of the good is important but the whole cost of purchasing

However, they had to learn the hard way (most disappeared from the market) that this is not the case. Let’s go back to the testing device of 30 to 50 Euro at RWE. Saving an extra 20% on a purchase of 50 Euro is great. But is it just 10 Euro. But the costs for the internal purchasing process can easily be 150 to 200 Euro for the traditional process according to Karl Czech from RWE purchasing. Continue reading It’s not the price, stupid. It is the value (proposition)

Banking 2.0: Call for help: Ideas for unsolved or badly solved jobs in today’s banking

Dear readers, this time I would like to tap to your collective and swarm intelligence. It’s a bit like open innovation but in a quick and dirty version.

The challenge: boring and uninspiring banking

The challenge is simple. Retail and e-Banking in the current form is quite 1.0. Most eBanking or payment systems use the traditional business model and transferred the traditional model online. So we have a banking 1.0 online. Boring, dull, uninspiring.

Now, the challenge is: What will be banking 2.0 look like?

What would make you say: “Wow, they really got it. You have to try it. It’s cool and just helped me to make my life easier and better.”

Your unsolved or badly solved jobs in personal finance

But before we look at the solutions I would like to raise the questions what are unsolved jobs in your personal finances. What annoys you? What is great and more people should know about? What are needs you think are so obvious, that there should be solutions to it?

Personal finance can anything from cash management, expense management, payments, saving and investing, financing your house or your car, saving for the silver age (pensions) etc… If you have a family, think about your family financial affairs. If you are a patchwork family, what are special jobs there?

Your solutions, please!

The second question is about solutions. What solutions do we need in banking 2.0? What products or services you would love to see?

Please use the comment function for your unsolved-jobs or ideas or the open innovation platform atizo, where I have set up a project “banking 2.0” for us. Please feel free to use both or just the one that suits you most.

Leaving blanks blank: The art of accepting blanks on the canvas

Recently, I spent time at the most international and diverse university of Germany, the Jacobs University in Bremen with Prof. Steven Ney. I did a seminar on entrepreneurial design. The students were trained already to use the canvas and the course was great. However, their inability to leave blanks on the canvas was striking. What do I mean by this?

We do not like blanks. Long pauses in a conversation confuse and stress us. And since we do not like blanks we fill them. In a conversation, we do small talk. On the canvas, we just fill in the blanks with a kind of small talk as well.

We just don't like blanks! by xkcd (Source http://xkcd.com/608/)

Small talk on the canvas is to just fill in something which sounds good, but has no base, no facts supporting it, not even being a smart idea. If we do not know exactly who our customers are, we wirte Business-to-Business customers or advertising in the box to communicate with our customers. B2B sounds sophisticated but for an entrepreneur who wants to build something on top of her canvas, this is useless at best, dangerous at worst.

While small talk is socially accepted and even expected, filling the blanks on the canvas is dangerous since it pretends we have solved this problem and we move on to another building block to fill. That is deadly if you really want to execute your idea into reality. Continue reading Leaving blanks blank: The art of accepting blanks on the canvas

The strange business model of airlines

The airline business is a strange business and in desperate need for business model innovation. On the one hand, more people fly than ever to prices lower than ever. IATA, the industry body, states that the real cost of travel has fallen in the last 40 years by about 60% and the number of travelers increased tenfold. Air freight has grown in this period by a factor of fourteen. (See IATA Vision 2050) That sounds like a very successful industry. Is it? However, on the other hand, airlines are notorious to not even earning their cost of capital and producing unhappy customers.

 

During the 2000s the average airline generated an EBIT margin of just 0.7%. Taken a longer perspective, the figures are as drastic. From 1970 to 2010 the airline industry generated over USD 12,000 billions of revenues in today’s prices, but only a total of USD 19 billion of net post-tax profits; a margin of only 0.1%.

Another dull figures: Around USD 500 billion of investors’ capital is tied up in the airline industry. Normally, investors would expect a return on capital of around 7-8%. Taken the 500 billion that would mean a return of 40 billion annually to cover the cost of capital. But what did the airlines earn? 20 billion or 20 billion less that the capital would have earned elsewhere. The airline industry is a big capital destroyer. Interestingly, other firms along the travel value chain like airports or computer reservation systems earned excess returns. So there is profit in the travel industry but not with the capital-intensive airlines. Airlines are a dismal industry.

So are customers at least happy? Just type in Google the search “airline experience” and enjoy all the customer stories about flights. And watch the film “United breaks Guitars” like 12 million others did on Youtube.

What went wrong and is there a solution to it? And think about it why we all hunt of low prices on traveling while we spent USD 5 for a latte at Starbucks. Why are we so price conscious on travelling and not on coffee?

Here are some thoughts I presented at the 17th international airline conference last fall in Seattle. Thanks to Nawal Taneja, Dietmar Kirchner and Rob Solomon for the kind invitation.

Thesis 1: Airlines are masters of transportation economics, not customer experiences

It seems that all airline managers are great students of economics but not of entrepreneurship and marketing. Since they have a perishable good (empty seats on an upcoming flight are like perishable goods), they believe strongly in variable pricing by exploiting the maximal price customers are willing to pay.

That sounds very reasonable at first, since who wants to argue with economists and their theoretical models, but what airlines have forgotten over time is, that if you treat customers like rational customers then you will get rational customers and extremely price sensible customers in the end.  However, there is a good reason why economics is called a dismal science. So if you follow economists, Continue reading The strange business model of airlines

The hidden cost of Apple’s Business Model

Apple is the poster child of business model innovation. Apple has reinvented several business like music with itunes and the ipod, the telecommunication industry with its iphones and currently, the publishing/news/information industry with the ipad. But success is also associated with costs we should consider.

Apple has a market capitalization of 576.79 billion USD. There are 43’400’000 search results at Google when you look up Apple Business Model Innovation. Apple is the household name for innovation for sexy products and services for which people camp in front of stores to be the first to get the latest gadgets.

But it is also interesting to look at the cost associated with Apple’s success. Take a look at infographics made by mbaonline.com.

Fighting for the next business model in the pets industry

I had in the last months the chance to apply business model thinking & innovation on several, very diverse industries: the airline and travel industry, the pets industry and some time ago on the media industry, particularly newspaper.

In the upcoming three next posts, I will share some insights I gained from using the business model canvas on these industries. The series will start with the pets industry.

A word of warning to all industry experts: I am not an expert for these industries. I’m not a pet industry expert. I am an expert for the process of re-thinking and re-inventing business models.

Pets Industry – A revolution in the making

The following slide deck is my presentation, I gave on January 27th, 2012 in Berlin at the Pets International conference. Enjoy some insights in a very interesting industry where the core is all around living creatures and the close relation we have to them.

Enjoy also my new design of the business model canvas I have created together with Gottschalk & Ash, a designer with the support of the Wolfsburg AG, an innovation incubator in Germany. You will see more in the future.

 

Pets are man’s best and dear friends

Pets are highly emotional and men’s best friends. Pets are members of your family. Sometimes they are treated better then human beings. Continue reading Fighting for the next business model in the pets industry

Top 10 in 2011

Here are the Top 10s of this blog in 2011. I hope they give you some insights. More than 45.500 visits and 72.458 pages impressions were recored in 2011 (12/26/10-12/25/11) on this blog. Thank you very much!! All of you are a great motivation to me and inspiration to the field of business model innovation and business model design.

I have prepared my personal highlights and the Top 10 of post you have visited during 2011. The other Top 10s are about the search terms around my blog and the countries where all the visitors come from.

Personal Highlights

  1. It is amazing how knowledge dissemination has changed over the last years thanks to the internet. Today, relevance counts more than pure marketing or brand power. A big thanks to Google that made it possible that readers find the blog. Today, knowledge disseminates from students to professor, from lower ranks to CEOs. A revolution in knowledge management.
  2. Thanks to the blog and its readers, I got assignments all over the world.  This year, I loved particularly to work in Seattle, Singapur and Cairo (shortly before the revolution). Good luck to all my friends in Egypt and keep up the free and entrepreneurial spirit I felt there.
  3. Thanks to all my readers and clients, 2011 was a very exciting year. 2012 will be exciting as well. I have found with with the innovation campus of the Wolfsburg AG, a public private partnership between the city of Wolfsburg and Volkswagen AG, a sponsor for a tool box for entrepreneurs. The tool box will be out by mid 2012. The tool box will be in German and is targeted at all entrepreneurs that what to make a difference in life.
  4. fluidminds has launched a new product, a five day workshop for intrapreneurs in large corporations. First pilots in 2011 and more to come in 2012. It is fantastic to see how fast you can find customer insights and then develop great business and growth initiatives on top of them.
If you are interested in the Toolbox, please subscribe here. The news will be in German.


Continue reading Top 10 in 2011

Four core questions you need to answer for any great business

Thanks to the business model canvas people are enthusiastic to build new business models and find business model innovations, but often they get lost in technocratic details. They just see building blocks but they forget the overal logic every great business needs.

Actually, you as an entrepreneur have to answer just one core question: Why should your firm exist on this planet? You need a Daseinseinsberechtigung (right to exist) for your firm. This is a very philosophical question. To be more operational, you can break down the Daseins question into four core questions. But still the answers will not come with a pure analytical process but with creativity and lot’s of empathy for your customers and their jobs they want to have solved. 

The technocratic approach is useless for finding love (source: http://xkcd.com/55/)

The four core questions on your business model canvas

  1. Why should customers be excited to do business with you? That is the value proposition. You could almost go as far as asking: Why should customers love to do business with you?
  2. How do you create the excitement of your customers in a productive way? That is the value architecture or operating model. Here you describe how you fulfill your value proposition.
  3. How do you earn money? That is your revenue model or the profit formula and here you should be able to explain why you as the owner should be excited about the business.
  4. What are your values you live up to in your team and with your customers and partners? That is the human side of the business and of utmost important, since it is the most difficult part to copy. I call it the culture and values of a business.

For these questions, you need compelling answers and the nine or elven building blocks are very helpful in answering the questions but do not get lost in details but look at the broader picture and see the interdependencies.  If you can answer the questions you have a great strategy that is customer-oriented, profitable and sustainable.

The bad part for any mediocre business is that you cannot answer the questions. Please all mediocre business, why don’t you try harder and work on “why should your customers be exicted about you?” instead of optimizing a dull business.

Markets vs customer driven business model design

Do you have to be market-oriented or is this again one of the buzz words that hides more than its reveals? Or should you be customer driven? Let’s take a look at the two words and concepts and see why Alex and I have chosen not the term market but customers for our canvases.

I just return from a workshop for entrepreneurs in Wolfsburg, the birthplace of Volkswagen. We used the business model canvas to focus the entrepreneurs and their coaches on the core building blocks of a business models.

Interestingly, most participants of the workshop always talked about markets, that we need to be more market oriented, that we have to conquer new markets. But is this true?

Customers pay your bill not "markets"

Markets, top-down approach

Markets are the sum of customers that spent money and therefore have shown a demand in the market. But a market is abstract and impersonal. You can not sell your product to a market. There is no Mrs Market to write a bill to and that is exactly the problem for entrepreneurs. You might be in a great, growing and profitable market but that does not mean you have one single customer who pays your bills.

Markets is a top-down approach very well suited for analyst and consultants. The market is great for analysis but not good to sell something to.

Customers, bottom-up approach

Let’s take a look at customers. As a business you need an individual client that is willing to pay for the service or product you offer. Continue reading Markets vs customer driven business model design

The Art of Painting on the Business Model Canvas

We have a great tool for visualization of a business model: the canvas. There is a hype on visual thinking and business model design. But can the tools deliver?

In the last years, I have seen many uses of the business model canvas to real cases. Some showed astonishing results, others were disappointing. Why? Any tool is only as good as the user. A fool with a tool is still a fool. But also: A genius without the right tool might be a fool. So let’s see, what makes the difference.

Visual Thinking = Thinking with Visual aid

Visual Thinking is often mistaken as nice visualization. A bad idea does not become better by visualization. Visual Thinking is great since you think in pictures. Visualization can help to make your thinking better, to see more options and see the interdependencies among all components. But you still have to think!

There was a reason why god gave us two brain hemispheres: Visual Thinking is the combination of analytical and creative thinking. So do the thinking.

Be precise in your thinking

Due to the limited space, people tend to be pretty imprecise when filling out the canvas. They fill the canvas as if it is just a form, not the master plan for a venture or for the future of your firm. That happens particularly often in large corporations where the people are so stuck in their old thinking. Continue reading The Art of Painting on the Business Model Canvas