How to Avoid Commodification

Plus: 9 hiding-in-plain-sight growth opportunities

Greetings Fringers,

Let’s start with some fringe tech, shall we?

AI is getting beary good

The following was generated on MidJourney. Yikes.

Hey kids. Please don’t try this in real life.

Bing cha-ching

A lot of attention is going to ChatGPT, Bing, and the soon-to-be-available Bard from Google. AI is having its moment, and you know what that means? Advertising!

Because where attention goes, money flows. And Microsoft plans to take advantage. So expect some ads in your favorite AI tools (unless, of course, you paid for them).

Adobe launching Firefly

Firefly is Adobe’s AI image generator. The problem with MidJourney, another text-to-image AI generator, is its UI — which is basically a Discord chat. Adobe looks to solve the UX problem of generating quality images from text, images, and even mood boards. So expect more to follow.

Don’t forget Google

Google announced that it will roll out more AI features to its current suite of products. You’re more likely to see it first in Gmail and Docs. If you are a beta user, please share your experience in the comments.

Rep AI & ChatGPT

Right now Rep AI is powered by Behavioral AI aka the Rescue Algorithm. It uses over 500 data points to accurately predict when someone is about to leave your eCommerce store — and promptly engages them.

We’re exploring ways to integrate ChatGPT to make the merchant side of the platform friendlier. Soon, you will simply direct the AI to your website, and have it scan through all your web pages to learn everything about your store and products without having to customize anything manually.

Coming soon-ish.

BX: Don’t let yourself get commodified

Tech advantages aren’t advantages (for long)

Technology advantages are less and less advantages today. Your tech stack is probably not too different from your competitors. The prime objective is to stand out with a great brand experience (BX). Your tech stack should serve this end, and that means using it to enhance your Xs:

  • Marketing & Storytelling (MX)

  • Website & Product (UX)

  • Post-purchase (CX)

  • Data & Privacy (DX)

  • Front-facing staff, including sales, customer support & success (EX)

Technology makes business easier. But if it’s making life easier for everyone, then you have to find more ways to be remarkable, that only you can deliver.

And since 2023 is the year of Efficient Growth, then you have to maximize your resources more than ever. And that brings us back to some basics.

The basics of business growth

It’s a truism that the most successful businesses find a way to get more from their current customer base. As Jay Abraham used to drill into my head, over and over again, there are three, and only three ways to grow any business:

  1. Get new customers (the most difficult and costly)

  2. Increase the transaction size (more AOV)

  3. Sell more often to current customers or increase the frequency of transactions with them

Start by finding a way to sell more often to your customer base. Sure, you always have to find a way to get more new customers, but, as Jay would say, “Are you really getting the most out of what you’ve got?”

And that means getting more out of:

  • Your people and stakeholders

  • Your partners and vendors

  • Your customers

  • Your assets

  • Your processes

  • Your supply chain

  • [insert other ideas here]

9 Hiding-In-Plain-Sight Growth Opportunities

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Where can you start giving your much-needed love and attention? Let’s list a few of them, starting with:

1: Employees

Can you cross-train and help develop their skills? Because great employees translate into a great experience. This seems like a no-brainer action item, but often, there’s no follow-through because employees “can figure it out” after onboarding. Your talent can either deliver the basics, or exceptional service.

Take care of your people, people!

2: Customers

Can you incentivize your customers to bring in others? Can you involve them in your next campaign? Does your product make it easy for them to produce UGC (user generated content)? Let’s list some ideas:

  • Referral contests (offer an in-person experience to the person that refers the most customers)

  • UGC campaigns (make sure they LOVE your product first)

  • Friends Group Friendly Pricing (the more friends in the group, the better the pricing)

  • Tiered rewards for referrals (raise the rewards as they hit milestones)

Remarkable experiences = more word of mouth (the king of all acquisition channels).

3: Partnerships

When you think of partners, what other products are obvious complements to your product — that also aligns with your brand’s values? For example, what comes before your product? What comes after? What naturally goes with it? What enhances your product?

If you were to put together a dream product bundle with a few partners, what would it include? Who’s the jelly to your peanut butter? The hot dog to your bun. The Doritos to your Stranger Things.

Partners as complements

4: Educate more (and more)

Could you explain your product better, so people can make more informed choices? Could you help people be more successful with your product? If not more successful, then how could people get more out of using it?

Can you be the WD-40 of [your category]? In other words, how can you make people more badass with your product?

5: Share your brand story

Could you share more about you? Your story? The proprietary process you use to produce “x”? The reason you got into business in the first place?

You think if BMW shot video of how they put steering wheels on cars, and all the care they put into the process, that people wouldn’t watch? People will watch anything. Give people more story.

6: Loyalty programs

Is it really loyalty, or just flat out bribery? Let’s face it, they don’t inspire undying fealty to your business. But loyalty programs could keep customers from defecting.

As is well-known by now, an old customer retained is worth more than a new customer won.

What else can loyalty programs do? They can nudge customers to buy more. They can unveil customer preferences and buying patterns when incentivized (good data). But loyalty programs alone aren’t enough to keep customers “loyal”. They must be used in tandem with other strategies that increase perceived value, not discounted value. Speaking of…

7: Discounting erodes brand

Sometimes it’s not what you add, but what you subtract. Kill continuous discounts before they kill your brand. Of course, you get a boost in the short-term, but in the long-term, the effects can be devastating. Instead of long-term customers, you attract short-term opportunists.

What can you do instead? Trade. Offer 50% if they buy something in addition to what they have in-cart, so you’re not diminishing the value of their current purchase. Give the discount in exchange for their email. Reward frequent purchases, like a loyalty punch card. Just be mindful of how you deploy discounting.


Read more about discounting in this thread:

8: Exclusives

Could you offer an exclusive event or product? A limited edition of …? Could you do a live auction with said product? Scarcity and exclusivity could be powerful tools in your arsenal.

Could you provide early access to the next product release? What about a member’s only club, where they get access to behind-the-scenes “making of” footage? Free shipping and returns. What about a curated product selection, based on their preferences?

9: Involve Your Community

I once wrote a story about how 2Chainz, the rapper, put out a line of ugly Christmas sweaters. But before he put them out, he put the designs up on Instagram. Whichever designs got the most votes, were made into sweaters.

The result? Millions of dollars in revenue. Lesson: involving your community more makes everybody happy (especially your CFO).

The Santa Dab

Remember: “How” is everything

In the end, it’s not just about what you deliver, but how you deliver it. The “how” is your difference maker. Deliver from an authentic place because people will know. What’s worse? Your employees will know the difference, and it will be reflected in their delivery.

Make your how memorable.


Steal like an artist Sesame Street

Grover with a nice rendition of the Old Spice guy.

Until next time.


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