Why You Need a Chief Automation Officer | Steph Smith on My First Million with Shaan Puri

Check out the My First Million episode page

Key Takeaways

  • Steph Smith and Shaan Puri discuss the multitude of opportunities there are through innovative marketing strategies and product white spaces if you simply look at the world around you
    • “Look for a sea of sameness, that’s your opportunity” – Shaan Puri
      • Look at your local pharmacy, the band-aid aisle will look ironically similar across brands
        • Welly changes this, giving a unique D2C (direct to consumer) experience on a boring product brand
      • Why do companies invest in their marketing products (swag, if you will) that nobody uses (water bottles, T-Shirts)?
        • SwagUp changes this, branding products that are unique and generate conversation amongst the target market
        • The Return on Investment (ROI) of swag can be much greater by investing in high-end products for your top consumers through limited-edition drops rather than worthless products for everyone
      • These are just two examples, the sea of sameness is vast. Shaan and Steph discuss a few more in this episode
  • There are people within a business who set the strategy, people who deploy the strategy, but there isn’t a person that evaluates the effectiveness of the strategy – this is the Chief Automation Officer
    • Identifies and evaluates the effectiveness of ‘that’s how I was thought to do it’ process pitfalls
    • Shadowing is more effective than it gets credit for, you truly understand the nuance of the workplace and employees’ environment. We are often more compliant with process issues than we should be.
    • Doing Time Right – a course designed by Steph Smith
      • Eliminate, Automate, and Delegate is the sequential framework the course is built on that you can apply to your everyday life

Intro

  • Steph Smith (@stephsmithio) is the Director of Marketing at HubSpot and steps in for usual host Sam Parr for this episode of My First Million. Steph and Shaan discuss opportunities in the ‘sea of sameness’ and how a Chief Automation Officer will help you eliminate, automate and delegate effectively.
  • Host: Shaan Puri (@ShaanVP)

Sea of Sameness

  • Take a really boring product group, and make a unique or premium D2C (direct to consumer) experience
    • “Look for a sea of sameness, that’s your opportunity” – Shaan Puri
    • The marketing and even brand names are often so similar that it wouldn’t take much for a product to stand out on the shelf in the given product category
      • Welly – premium bandages with style is an example
      • You can experiment with this at your local retail store
    • Market on benefits, not the product. For example, market a boosted immune system rather than Vitamin C.
  • Flexible spending account – similar to HSA, but for more niche healthcare products
    • FSAstore.com: can be used as an ‘acquisition house’ for your healthcare product idea; you have to start somewhere when fighting against the sea of sameness

The Marketing of SWAG

  • Why do companies invest in marketing products (swag, if you will) that nobody uses?
    • Pens, notebooks, water bottles, t-shirts
      • Even if they get used, they don’t generate discussion
    • Alternatives branded products ideas: polaroid camera, custom Jordan sneakers, laptop video covers, etc.
      • SwagUp – a growing company that puts your brand on products that people want to use
      • ‘Cool’ doesn’t always have to be more expensive
        • The ROI of swag can be much greater by investing in high-end products for your top consumers through limited-edition drops rather than worthless products for everyone

Chief Automation Officer

  • There are people within a business who set the strategy, people who deploy the strategy, but there isn’t a person that evaluates the effectiveness of the strategy.
    • Chief Automation Officer – sole responsibility is to find things within a company to be automated or delegated that should or shouldn’t be
      • Identify the ‘I’ve been doing it this way because it was the way I was thought’ processes that negatively impact efficiency
      • Employees are often so busy running on their treadmill that they don’t have time to repair the treadmill
        • Robotic Process Automation (RPA) – a product that observes your UI experience and makes suggestions on automation
        • UiPath – company focusing on identifying enterprise-level process issues
        • While these tools can be effective for identifying automation opportunities, there is a very human element to them as well
          • Shadowing as a CAO is more effective than it gets credit; you truly understand the nuance of the workplace and employees environment
          • Shadowing is key to perspective. Consumers/employees are often compliant with issues that are solvable.
    • Doing Time Right – a course designed by Steph Smith
      • Eliminate, Automate, and Delegate is the sequential framework the course is built on

Invert the Marketing of Alcohol

  • Typically, you have your product before you figure out how you will market the product
    • Bevtri – sends you free alcohol with single, limited edition products mailed to your door
    • They currently don’t have a product, they simply distribute free samples. This is building a customer list who they are rewarding for visiting their soon-to-be super-app (yet to be defined)
    • This strategy has pros and cons:
      • There is risk in investing in a large customer list with no idea of product-market fit
      • Quantity over quality is not always the answer when defining your product-market fit
      • Waitlists decay in value over time – the only thing Bevtri knows is that people want free alcohol
    • Building an audience first vs building a product first
      • Both work but don’t try to do both, be intentional

Other Topics

  • “I’d rather invest in myself than any financial market” – Steph Smith
    • Time is an asset, it’s a cost to be active in financial markets. Steph remains a passive investor.
    • Steph buys anything education-related without hesitation
      • Taking a Python education course for its utility in automation
  • Steph thinks the hybrid model of having a job and a passion project are mutually beneficial
    • Financial support allows you to take bigger risks on your projects
    • Don’t get burnt out on your project, creativity as an outlet
      • Shaan disagrees because if you maintain both, you doubt the potential of your project
  • Fidelity now allows teenagers, under parental approval, to use their trading platform
    • Somebody needs to create a fun educational product for this
    • Finance is typically pretty dry material so make it fun
My First Million : , , ,
Notes By Drew Waterstreet

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