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Peerview Data Insights

Lust + Fear = Profit — What we can learn from Ashley Madison's business model


By now, everyone's heard the news that Ashley Madison, the "dating site for married people," was hacked and its entire user database was posted online.

Divorce lawyers are scrambling and finger-waivers are noting bold-faced names like reality TV star Josh Duggar, Florida State Attorney Jeff Ashton and YouTube evangelist Sam Radar.


Most are wondering what Ashley Madison's business model can teach them.

Topics: Money People Customers Planning & Forecasting Competitive Analytics KPIs Business Performance Small Business Business Intelligence Analytics Data fear

99 business lessons learned the hard way


  1. Your company is only worth what somebody will pay for it.
  2. Test. Refine. Scale. Repeat.
  3. Success isn't about being best, it’s about trying to be better.
  4. Loyalty flows up, not down.
  5. The more people cc’d on an email, the less important it is.
  6. Hire for character first, passion second, and experience third.
  7. The most strategic thing a company can create is a budget.
  8. If the most strategic thing your company creates isn't a budget, you're probably in trouble.
  9. Cash flow is king.
  10. Profitability is the spoiled, over-indulged princess that everybody pays attention to when the king lets her run the kingdom.
  11. The queen varies by industry.
  12. Customer retention is more cost-effective than customer acquisition, but it's not nearly as much fun.
  13. Performance is relative.
  14. Every business problem has a solution, but that doesn't mean you'll like it.
  15. Be authentic, even if you're a prick.
  16. If it weren’t for meetings, nothing would get done — not because meetings are productive but because the spontaneous interactions before and after are.
  17. Control what you can, not what you can’t.
  18. Thanks to social media, every company is one tweet, post or update away from disaster.
  19. Know who's really in charge.
  20. When you're an entrepreneur, your only safey net is you.
  21. Everybody thinks their business is unique.
  22. All businesses are more alike than they're different, despite what everybody thinks.
  23. Nobody is an industry of one. Everybody competes for customers and clients.
  24. Confident trumps smart, but only in the short term.
  25. Everybody needs a good lawyer.
  26. There's a potential rock star in every company who's being over-looked.
  27. Praise is a more effective motivator than money.
  28. A business plan is to success, what traffic school is to a speeding ticket.
  29. 1/3 up front for new clients.
  30. Your most powerful marketing tool is a satisfied customer.
  31. Share insights.
  32. Thanks to social media, your employees are your brand.
  33. Sometimes the most obvious problems are the hardest to see.
  34. Get more sleep.
  35. Starting a company is easy; growing a company is hard.
  36. Sometimes you have to burn bridges.
  37. You become an employee the instant you take money from investors, no matter how much equity you retain.
  38. Nothing is ever perfect.
  39. Creativity is messy and it throws off a ton of sparks.
  40. A great business model is simple; a bad business model is complicated.
  41. Get it in writing.
  42. There’s no such thing as work-life balance for entrepreneurs, only strategic neglect.
  43. Being data-informed is better than being data-driven.
  44. Pick your business partner(s) wisely.
  45. Everything is marketing.
  46. Everything is branding, too.
  47. If you want to improve your business, act like a SaaS company.
  48. Noboby expects the Spanish Inquisition.
  49. Stop and listen to the person who says the least in a meeting.
  50. Business plans are bullshit, but you still need one if you want to raise money.
  51. Most angel investors will turn out to be devils.
  52. If you don't care, quit.
  53. Everybody gets burned out eventually. 
  54. Read a non-fiction book about a completely unrelated industry at least once every three years.
  55. Pay your interns.
  56. You can't solve a problem by ignoring it.
  57. Or tabling it.
  58. Every company should know it's CLTV.
  59. If you want to motivate your sales team, play this clip from Glengarry Glen Ross.
  60. Be on time.
  61. What you spend on marketing isn't nearly as important as what you spend your marketing money on.
  62. Share your failures.
  63. Doing the right thing doesn't always pay off. (Unfortunately.)
  64. Forgive once.
  65. The single best book on creativity is "A Technique for Producing Ideas" by James Webb Young. It was written in 1965 and nobody has even come close to topping it.
  66. Women are underpaid.
  67. Don't ask to be promoted, ask what you should do if you want to be promoted.
  68. A contract is only as good as the lawyer who's challenging it.
  69. Taxes... ugh!
  70. Sometimes you just have to wear your cleanest dirty shirt
  71. Content marketing takes more time and effort than anyone admits.
  72. Investors travel in packs.
  73. Companies rot from the bottom up.
  74. Don't pivot just to pivot.
  75. A good budget is shaped by the past and inspired by the future.
  76. If you're not measuring, you're not marketing.
  77. Not everything happens for a reason.
  78. Valuations aren't rational.
  79. If you don't know what a "stop, start, kill" exercise is, you probably need to do one tomorrow.
  80. You can manage for growth, you can manage for profitability or you can manage for value. Not all three.
  81. Nothing kills a company faster than bad culture.
  82. For most companies, the unofficial employee could be titled The Emperor's New Clothes.
  83. Every founder will eventually discover "The trough of sorrow."
  84. Get to 1000 customers any way you can.
  85. HR matters.
  86. 90% of revenue is momentum. (This is a metaphor, not a statistic.) 
  87. Nobody every tells you how important it is to be lucky.
  88. Everybody is expendable under the right circumstances.
  89. If you want to engage your employees, challenge them.
  90. The phrase "Measure twice, cut once" applies to marketing, too.
  91. A good pitch explains; a great pitch inspires.
  92. Knowing your limitations is smart; accepting them is dumb.
  93. Just because you can do a job doesn't mean you can — or need to be able to — manage that job; just because you can manage a job doesn't mean you can — or need to be able to — do that job.
  94. You can't just reverse-engineer success.
  95. If you're in marketing, you'll be a lot less confused and overwhelmed by the incredibly rapid pace of change if you subscribe to the Marketing Technology blog.
  96. Debt is a tool for experts.
  97. There are hundreds of metrics every business should track, but these are the ones that matter the most.
  98. Sometimes the hard way is the only way.
  99. ___________________ *
*No. 99 is intentionally blank because there's always at least one more lesson left to learn.
Topics: Money People Customers Planning & Forecasting Competitive Analytics KPIs Business Performance Small Business Business Intelligence Analytics Data fear

We're A/B Testing Landing pages. (Or more accurately, A/B/C/D testing.)

As you would expect, we believe in learning form data.

To that end, we're testing four landing pages using Twitter and Adwords and sharing the results. (The way we see it, any insights that help you, help us, too, by generating goodwill.)

As you'll see if youre curious, each page covers our core offering — a strategic management & planning tool that shows companies how they're doing compared to peers and peak performers and where they should be doing better — but has a slightly different hook.


Landing page 1
Topics: Insights Startups

Are small businesses secretly afraid of their own data?

Here's why we ask:

Interest in our Strategic Management & Planning tool has grown steadily since we launched, yet there are still plenty of solid prospects who watch a video, read a blog post, or listen to an in-person sales pitch and say "We don't really need that."

"Are you an industry of one?" we ask.
"No," they say.
"Do you compete for your customer and clients?"
"Do you think you would be more successful if you knew your competitive strengths and weaknesses?"
"Of course."
"Then why the hesitation?"
"Um... well... uh..."

First, we have to acknowledge that some degree of skepticism is to be expected because even though we think our tool helps companies improve their growth, value and profitability by becoming more competitive, we're not giving it away free, leaving some to wonder if there's a catch.

(There isn't.)

What's interesting is that when we talk through these objections, we find they almost always trace back to the same thing: an almost gut-level susupicion of what data will make people do.

It's like there's a fear that hardcore performance data is some kind of demonic force, or mutant zombie virus that will instantly seize control of anyone it comes in contact with:

EMPLOYEES: Why are you firing everyone right before the big seasonal push?
OWNER: Because the data said I had to.
EMPLOYEES: But that's crazy!
OWNER: I know, but I just couldn't stop myself.

An exaggeration? Yes.

But it makes the point: data doesn't replace common sense.

Or reason.

Or logic.

(Or whatever you call it when you do something you know isn't great, or even sometimes good, but represents a kind of lowest-common-denominator compromise that solves more problems than it creates and makes key stakeholders happy.)

Topics: Money People Customers Planning & Forecasting Competitive Analytics KPIs Business Performance Small Business Business Intelligence Analytics Data fear

The Cure for CEO Insomnia: data-driven insights

UPDATE: The point of this post is that we tend to worry about the things we can’t control and ignore the things we can. The best defense against any threat — known or unknown, established or emerging — is to make sure you’re always improving your game, optimizing what you can, when you can, so you can react when you need to. The example was Uber, which cab companies should have easily been able to neutralize early on. They didn’t, obviously, and have suffered. Data from this recent Fortune article shows just how dramatically.
Topics: Money People Customers Planning & Forecasting Competitive Analytics KPIs Business Performance Small Business