Speech Topics

Customers Love Us… Now What?

The purpose of any business is to add some value, in some way, to someone or something outside of itself. However, businesses ultimately exist to satisfy customers and earn revenue from them. Companies simply cannot survive—let alone thrive—unless their operations generate sufficient funds to pursue opportunities for future growth, repay and reward investors, and, increasingly, support social and environmental initiatives. So, how should any organization think about the challenge of “making money” from customers? In this presentation, I lay out a simple framework that rests on one basic premise: a business cannot improve its ability to earn from customers unless its decisions and actions are guided by customers—what they value, why they value it, when and how they value it, and so on. While this logic is intuitive, in practice it often loses out to safer, certainly easier approaches that prioritize internal considerations.

Why Competing on Customer Outcomes Is a Win for Everyone

Businesses across sectors are under unprecedented pressure to aid society and our environment, all the while battling economic hardship and relentless commoditization. One solution to this puzzle is to rethink how your company earns from customers, shifting from selling “stuff” to delivering—and profiting from—desired outcomes. In this talk, based on my book with Oded Koenigsberg The Ends Game: How Smart Companies Stop Selling Products and Start Delivering Value, I use examples from sectors as diverse as healthcare, automotive, education, insurance, and agriculture to map the gradual but relentless evolution of markets to a point where money flows to proof rather than promises. I explain this opportunity and, importantly, its potential to attract and retain customers, differentiate from competitors, motivate employees, and improve your social and environmental footprint.

Listen Closely! Your Algorithms Are Talking to Your Customers

In June 2017, London police cars responded to reports of a terrorist attack. Pedestrians and pub-goers in the area sensed danger and attempted to order Uber cars to head home to safety. Uber’s dynamic pricing algorithm caused rates in that part of the city to jump more than 200%. While an economist might applaud Uber’s pricing engine, I argue that constant changes in price points can negatively impact brand perception, so they need to be carefully managed. In this presentation, based on my Harvard Business Review article The Pitfalls of Pricing Algorithms, I show why brands need to consider more than simple math when employing algorithmic systems. I further help leaders across industries—including advertising, e-commerce, entertainment, insurance, sports, travel and utilities—minimize risk and maximize revenue while also making customers feel as if they have paid the appropriate amount for a product or service.

Can We Afford Sustainable Business?

Businesses are struggling with the economics of making sustainable products both affordable and profitable, but that’s because they aren’t asking the right questions. Leaders looking to move beyond “how are we going to pay for this?” need to stop thinking about price simply as a bar that they can prod up or down to get customers to buy less or more. Every price decision is comprised of additional, more strategic choices that can rally market actors around responsible behaviors and, therefore, mitigate the negative externalities of commerce before companies are forced to price them in. In this presentation, based on my recent MIT Sloan Management Review article, I explain how leaders in every sector can achieve this by creatively rethinking the “what,” “who,” “when” and “how” embedded in every price decision. Ultimately, I argue, organizations should be caretakers of markets rather than simple producers. By using the incentives and information embedded in the price mechanism, they can allocate the responsibility for broader and fairer access, for conscientious and effective consumption, and for handling waste more efficiently.

Making It Stick! A Practical Roadmap to Successful Price Changes

With the cost of materials rising at an unprecedented pace across the goods and services landscape, brands must increase prices to survive. But how can that be done the right way, to face inflation and keep customers happy and loyal? To me, price changenot only increases, but also decreases—are not necessary evils, but opportunities to strengthen one’s position in the eyes of customers. In this presentation, I encourage organizations to think beyond the obvious How much? question. My framework empowers organizations to tackle factors such as timing, when and how to use levers other than price itself to achieve the desired goal, and how to communicate the change effectively with customers. When it comes to price changes, whether they be temporary or permanent, I show leaders how important it is to be proactive, connect to your strategy, control the narrative in the face of competition, and offer explanations to maintain customer trust. Leaders will leave this presentation with an understanding of how following my template for approaching today’s volatile markets can, when done thoughtfully, strengthen the relationship between a brand and its customers.

Selling Value to Stubborn Customers

The success of a revenue strategy often depends on your ability to communicate value to customers in a convincing manner. Indeed, I would argue that price is seldom a problem when the value of an offering is clearly understood by sellers and buyers alike. In this presentation, I discuss the complications that often arise when an organization attempts to sell value in a market plagued by customers that, for strategic reasons or otherwise, push back. To remedy the situation, I recommend taking five clear steps. Implementing this roadmap provides a sense of calibration and confidence that helps fight off the pressure from skeptical, stubborn clients and prospects. In my mind, organizations that “stay calm and sell value” are better equipped to capitalize on their efforts to stand out in the market, particularly when innovation and creativity are fast-paced and expensive.