Three Things You Need To Know About Jeff Bezos

4 Dec

1 – Believe in the future. From Jeff’s point of view, we are living in primitive times. There is much more life-changing technology to be discovered. Jeff considers himself an explorer, inventor, and pioneer. This outlook has shaped Amazon from the beginning and has become its DNA.

It’s not about crushing the competition, although many have accused Amazon of this very thing. Instead, it’s about inventing the future. A better future. Everything can be changed and improved. Even revolutionized. Nothing is safe or sacred. To some this is scary, to others this is the very heart and soul of progress.

Amazon creates products that are actually ideas and systems instead of things you can hold in your hand. A new system disrupts the old. For example, Kindle Direct Publishing. You can’t hold it in your hand, but it’s a product and system that has completely changed the publishing world and empowered authors to become their own masters.

2 – Suffer for the customer. Yes, suffer. Listen to Jeff sum up what he’s learned about listening to customers and adapting to their needs: “My body is completely covered in scar tissue.” It’s not about your success, it’s about making your customers successful. Amazon listens, supports, and even invents for customers. What does this lead to? TRUST.

Amazon is a golden brand because of the almost family-like trust that they have built over the years. One small example: Buying via Amazon’s one click. How many other companies do you feel this comfortable with? This trust allows Amazon to think long term and take risks. It all works out because these risks are customer driven.

3 – Be frugal, be Spartan. Amazon is a lean, mean, fighting machine. And that discipline allows them to give their customers the lowest possible prices. Kindle is sold at near break-even. Amazon has a tiny 1.4% operating margin and 0.1% net margin. Compare that to Apple’s OM at 35% and their NM at 26%.

And it all goes back to extreme customer focus and the trust that has created. You can afford to walk the tight rope when everyone is rooting for you. This kind of customer focused frugality is very rare in big organizations. And it makes Amazon nearly indestructible.

Now let’s go back to point one: Believe in the future. Jeff’s belief in the future combined with his customer obsession has created a new type of business model: Customer Driven Austerity. People want more for less. This planet has far more bargain hunters than billionaires. Amazon may have discovered the business model of the future.

Your thoughts?

 

 

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37 Responses to “Three Things You Need To Know About Jeff Bezos”

  1. Emmi Z December 4, 2012 at 8:46 pm #

    How do we get Jeff a sainthood? Or at least a knighthood? ;)

    • Editor December 4, 2012 at 8:50 pm #

      Sounds like it’s time for an internet petition.

      Ed.

  2. Irin Jensen December 4, 2012 at 8:53 pm #

    Possibly Amazon is a giant cult?

  3. Alpha 7 December 4, 2012 at 9:03 pm #

    Is Jeff an extraterrestrial?

  4. Ken December 4, 2012 at 9:30 pm #

    BS.

    It’s easy for Jeff to say that. And I wonder how frugal his take home pay is.

    I don’t argue that they’re insanely customer-centric. They are.

    People want more for less…

    There is NOTHING new about that. That has been the case since about 5000 BC.

    • Editor December 4, 2012 at 10:39 pm #

      But somehow Amazon has budget prices without having that budget stigma.

      Ed.

  5. Maartin December 4, 2012 at 9:40 pm #

    Clearly there are 3 lessons EVERYONE can learn here – the principles which can be applied in most of the stuff we do in everyday life.

    Just think for a moment if we apply core values behind these principles to our personal relationships, workplace wellness….

    WOW!

  6. Desmond December 4, 2012 at 9:55 pm #

    Maybe more like a lean, mean lovin’ machine – in the nicest possible sense. It is interesting that while building this massive enterprise Bezos has also democratized the process by allowing broad based participation in the profit structure for affiliates, product owners and authors and providing virtually personalized customer care. The human face of technology?

    • Editor December 4, 2012 at 10:37 pm #

      Good point. Amazon is very human. Almost like the old bookstores.

      Ed.

  7. Alyne DeWinter December 4, 2012 at 10:06 pm #

    Since, I live in Seattle I have a sense of ownership about Amazon. At least its not a weapons manufacturer.
    Though I suppose that could be debated…
    I have mixed feelings because I do love my brick and mortar bookshops and never want them to go away. I also love my print books and long for a library of beautifully bound books lining my walls. On the other hand, I have to look for bargains and Amo has them. besides, as I am partnering with them, I want them to do well and continue to treat us all right.
    See? I am the essence of inner conflict therefor I write fiction.

    • Editor December 4, 2012 at 10:35 pm #

      I used to love the local bookstores where there was always one book genius that knew everything. But the big box bookstores pretty much killed that.

      Ed.

  8. Max December 4, 2012 at 10:24 pm #

    Shame they can’t make their site design more intuitive, and less cluttered. Personally I find just about all aspects of it confusing, and overwhelming.

    Maybe it’s just me, but I have trouble every single time when I try to find their kindle bestseller lists (especially the free ones.)

    I also tried to unsubscribe from a particular kind of promotional email recently (didn’t want to cancel all emails), but gave up after half an hour of trying.

    I have many other examples; that’s just two of them.

    I once contacted their ‘help’ section but, as is the case with most sites, just got the canned (and unhelpful) response.

    Regarding your blog post though, I do agree they are a force to be reckoned with, and are doing a great job in many areas.

    Still plenty of room for improvement though, imo.

    • Editor December 4, 2012 at 10:34 pm #

      Somehow I flow with the site design. But I did read that Amazon hired an interface expert, but Jeff rejected all his suggestions.

      Ed.

  9. Mark December 4, 2012 at 11:13 pm #

    As an indie author, there is one downside to all this – people are expecting more for less. I’ve heard of people complaining that $0.99 is too expensive for a 10,000 word short story. This may be because many people do not value time – their own, and therefore that of others – but how long will it be before Amazon’s customers won’t even pay anything for a book?

    On the plus side, I’ve always admired Jeff Bezos and how he stuck with his idea and turned it into the brand and company it is today.

    And as a customer (we buy almost everything from Amazon), it’s hard to find too many faults with the way they do business.

    • Editor December 5, 2012 at 11:47 am #

      It’s going to be all about quality. What’s the point in being flooded with free but average books?

      Ed.

  10. Bruce Taplin December 5, 2012 at 12:56 am #

    Amazon has given us great opportunities as indie authors but they are a bit like the big box book stores which killed off the little corner bookstores, because of Amazon’s huge presence on the net it is becoming more difficult for other ebook sites like Smashwords, they are killing the competition which in the long term is not good for anyone but the big behemoth holding all the cards.

    • Editor December 5, 2012 at 11:40 am #

      Interesting point. On the other hand, Amazon challenges the big 6 New York publishing companies.

      Ed.

  11. andy December 5, 2012 at 1:26 am #

    And i always thought Jeff Bezos looked like Dr Evil.

    Your 3 insights suggest otherwise, Paul.

    Interesting analysis, thanks

    • Editor December 5, 2012 at 11:38 am #

      Yes, but a kindly Dr Evil. ;)

      Ed.

  12. Carol Clifford December 5, 2012 at 2:09 am #

    It’s a bit like Google going customer centric – the experience is all about the customer and Amazon has likely lad the way with this – or maybe they’re in it together. More for less is a business model in itself these days but I can’t see Amazon selling things for nothing anytime soon – it just isn’t capitalistic. On the other hand, I think we can expect to provide a higher quality for the things we do sell, hence the shake up of the current review system.

    I think that providing customers with quality will be high on Amazon’s agenda moving forward – maybe we will have to pay to publish if we are serious authors. Maybe Amazon doesn’t want us to treat the buying public as cash cows or see the Kindle platform as an Internet marketing playground.

    Self publishing has done a lot for bringing publishing out of the doldrums, but now that self publishing is an established business model, I believe quality will be far more important than it has been up to now, for Amazon. Removing PLR was like dipping a toe in the water to test the temperature.

    • Editor December 5, 2012 at 11:36 am #

      Carol, I think you’ve got it right. Quality has to be the magnet now.

      Ed.

    • Sadie Gecke December 5, 2012 at 6:42 pm #

      Carol,

      Thank you, I totally ditto your comment here. I have mentioned elsewhere that as both a bookworm who abhorred the influx of crappy PLR books that Amazon did not do something about fast enough and an author who really takes the time to write well-edited books that my readers enjoy, I sometimes wish that Amazon would make its self-publishers pay to publish using its platform. Maybe that would slow down (but probably not prevent) Amazon spammers/scammers.

      However, I have noticed that Amazon’s efforts to promote quality products have cut down on Amazon spam quite a bit (but not completely by a long shot).

      I do think that Amazon’s customers may be its best weapons in fighting such spam. For instance, even though I did not used to do so (my fault), I now do not hesitate to ask for a refund on any book I buy that has awful or even halfway awful editing. In fact, even if I did not buy it myself but was lent it by a friend, I will leave negative feedback about badly-edited books. We’ll see what the future brings, of course.

      Sadie

  13. Buddy December 5, 2012 at 3:55 am #

    I like it. Amazon seems to want to help authors more than hurt, as long as we stay inside the rules.

    • Editor December 5, 2012 at 11:20 am #

      I truly believe Amazon is on the side of indie authors. From the start Amazon had a literary culture.

      Ed.

  14. Amy Harrop December 5, 2012 at 6:11 am #

    Great post! I will say, as someone who has worked with Amazon for a long time, both as a publisher and as a seller, that they will often put the customer over the people they partner with in their programs. This isn’t a bad thing, but it definitely keeps you on on your toes as they are often rolling out changes and updates.

    • Editor December 5, 2012 at 11:34 am #

      Good point Amy. Amazon expects their partners to keep up with the demands of its customers. To some partners this is a shock.

      Ed.

  15. Miranda D. December 5, 2012 at 8:26 am #

    Look at Zappos.com. Their structure was built around kind of the same premise as Amazon: Customers! They listen to, sympathize with, cater to, serve, and love, love, love their customers. Without them, they wouldn’t be the giant they are. It’s a good lesson for all of us to learn as authors; give the people what they want!

  16. Penelope December 5, 2012 at 8:42 am #

    Amazon has definitely set the precedent for the rest of the world to follow. They set the bar very high, and everyone else must adjust their own business model or die. We have had to adjust our selling strategy on ebay to include free shipping–as that is what everyone expects now! They will pay the higher price, but you better make sure it includes that FREE SHIPPING! ;)

    As an author, I applaud Bezos for the door that he has opened to us as indie authors. Where we might just be sitting out here, languishing, and agonizing about how to sell books–we now know that if we want to seize the opportunity it is there for the taking.

    My hubby and I were just discussing this last night. They have removed all possibilities that you would say “no” to buying from them. When you take away all the customer’s objections, you’ve got the sale!

    • Editor December 5, 2012 at 10:49 am #

      They have definitely removed all customer objections. They are religious about it!

      Ed.

  17. Brad Wilson December 5, 2012 at 5:16 pm #

    Hi Paul,

    This post is very timely indeed, since I’ve been thinking along these exact same lines for awhile now. In fact, my new efforts are full of this idea.

    Great minds thinking alike???

    Maybe, you definitely have a great mind but I’m not so sure about mine ;-)

    All the best,

    Brad

    • Editor December 5, 2012 at 5:38 pm #

      Hey Brad, I think we’re on the same wavelength. ;)

      Ed.

  18. Marg McAlister December 8, 2012 at 3:31 pm #

    Such a tiny operating margin – and such success. There’s a message there for indie publishers as well as marketers.

    • Editor December 8, 2012 at 3:56 pm #

      Absolutely Marg. If we understand Jeff, we understand KDP.

      Ed.

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