Choosing your customers

At one time, Netflix and Comcast were direct competitors.

Then, Netflix won.

Netflix beat Comcast by putting their customers first.

When Netflix began its streaming service, and Comcast’s streaming service revenue began to decline, Comcast chose their own interests.

Slowly but surely, Comcast subscribers began to strongly prefer Netflix over Comcast’s streaming options.

What was Comcast’s reaction?

To penalize their customers.

The strategy was to throttle Netflix internet traffic.

Comcast decided to actively prevent their customers from watching Netflix. This was their biggest mistake and it’s why Comcast lost.

On the other hand, Netflix decided to do everything thing they could to ensure their subscribers – who unfortunately had Comcast as an internet provider – could watch Netflix.

That amounted to paying Comcast for the increased internet while Comcast customers watched Netflix.

Netflix burdened that cost for their customers. Which, they subsequently won a lawsuit against Comcast, where Comcast couldn’t throttle Netflix traffic.

What is the price you pay when you treat your customers as Comcast has? Consumers try to avoid you as much as possible.

And the business who choses their customers? Bigger than ever.

And, most of us are thankful Netflix won while COVID continues to leave us with very little to do.

American internet providers are loathed. And, for good reason.

Customers are extremely valuable. Don’t treat them like Comcast treats theirs.

P.S. In a survey conducted about consumer sentiment towards businesses, Comcast ranked below the IRS. Yes, people would rather pay their taxes than deal with Comcast.

P.P.S. Thank’s to Unlocking the Customer Value Chain by Thales S. Teixeira for this story.


When Ziggy Stardust made his first appearance, Rock and Roll hadn’t quite seen that level of glam.

If it had, it was in small doses.

When David Bowie brought Ziggy Stardust to life, this wasn’t his first album. He’d already had four. And had hits.

But, in what would become an innate skill that seems to define Bowie, he shed what he was doing before and gave birth to Ziggy Stardust.

His iconic character that was featured on just two albums.

Then, Ziggy Stardust was dead.

Bowie moved on to his next project, leaving behind the past. But, not before he left a huge influence on rock.

He would go on to dramatically change personas as he released albums. Each one creating new influence in music.

Effectively reinventing himself each time.

A master of reinvention.

It’s a bold strategy, even for an artist.

Being able to reinvent yourself and stay relevant over decades of music.

What this shows us, though, is what we were doing yesterday does not have to define the work we do tomorrow.

What our brand stood for yesterday can evolve. At times, even dramatically.

We might have to do this to create the influence we want.

Just like Bowie, we’re allowed to reinvent ourselves and our businesses.

Who knows, we might just create the next Ziggy Stardust.

Belonging to a tribe

In the Bay Area, Patagonia is everywhere.

If you’ve been hiking in the Marin Headlands, the Oakland Hills, or down in the Santa Cruz mountains, you would think it’s a uniform.

Before COVID, if you walked the streets of San Francisco or Oakland on a workday, you might wonder where they’re handing out Patagonia jackets.

It’s likely we’ve all seen the videos of the Tech and Finance Bro’s wearing Patagonia. In the Bay, it’s even more widespread than that.

It’s the Patagonia Tribe.

It’s the one Patagonia built. They tell a story that resonates with their target audience.

An interesting piece to the Patagonia Tribe is they didn’t have to change behavior.

Naturally, we want to be part of a tribe. We want to belong.

Seth Godin wrote a book about this, aptly called Tribes.

In Debbie Millman’s book, Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits, she and Daniel Pink discuss this.

There is an entire marketing specialty – that comes from Anthropologie – dedicated to studying this tribe phenomenon as it relates to brands.

We want to be in a Tribe. And, we’re ok with that Tribe being driven by a brand.

It’s our natural desire.

Brands should build Tribes.

Just like Patagonia.

Maybe I should finally get a Patagonia jacket?

Finding a specific audience

Bicycles and coffee.

Two things I hold dear.

It happens that there is a coffee shop in Oakland that is dedicated to these two things.

Bicycle Coffee.

They deliver coffee to their shops and retailers on bicycles.

It helps their coffee is delicious.

It’s the closest I’ve found to the best coffee I’ve had, which is Wackers Kaffee in Frankfurt. I wrote about them a few weeks ago.

Bicycle Coffee is becoming more popular in Oakland, with a new location in the base of the building I used to work in.

They hit a specific audience. People who love coffee and bicycles.

Getting specific and focusing on your niche. This is great marketing out in the wild.

They got me. Two things I love combined into one.

Coffee and bicycles.

It feels like it was made for me.

I guess that’s the point of great marketing.

Storytelling done right

Marketers understand how difficult it is to ensure – with confidence – you get a highly personalized message to the right person, on the right channel, at the right time.

Typically, you need some kind of centralized data driver.

Traditionally, this would be your CRM (customer relationship management system).

Which, the name makes sense. You’re trying to build a relationship.

But, there are a lot of reasons why this isn’t the best solution for every business.

Now, I’m not going to get into all those reasons.

What I want to get into is the company who took this pain – getting a highly personalized message to the right person, on the right channel, at the right time – and turned it into a story.


They kicked off, with a collection of other businesses, a campaign called “CRM is not enough”.

They did exactly what marketing storytellers need to do.

They picked up on a pain point.

They crafted a story around that pain.

Then, let that story lead to a solution.


Rarely do we see such beautiful storytelling in B2B marketing.

Storytelling and branding matter in B2B marketing.

Segment, and the CRM is not enough campaign, are living proof it can be done.