Make Remote Work
Going remote is not just about your team, it’s also about your customers. Clare Price has been working remotely since the 80s and talks with Karla about how to Make Remote Work.
Clare Price is CEO of Octain, a global strategic planning consultancy that helps small and mid-market companies grow to dominate their markets by Fueling the Speed of Businessä. She started working remotely in the 1980s as a tech reporter for InformationWeek magazine, and later as a research director for Gartner. Prior to launching CFP MediaGroup (now Octain), she was Vice President of Research for Demand Metric, a strategic marketing advisory service where she led the research analysis into cloud computing applications for marketing automation, social platforms, and several other products.
Clare is an author of two books and an experienced speaker with clients like American Marketing Association, Vistage, and many others.
LinkedIn: Clare Price
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Read Along as Karla and Clare Discuss How to Make Remote Work
Karla Nelson: And welcome to The People Catalysts Podcast, Clare Price.
Clare Price: Hi Karla. Thank you so much for having me.
Karla Nelson: Well, thanks so much for being on the show. We’re super, super-excited to talk about your new eBook here, which is Make Remote Work, which is been a huge conversation here, obviously, since all of us are… I mean, there’s a reason Zoom, their stock price and their share value doubled in the last two months. I think they went from 20 million users to 220 million users, which is quite interesting. They’ve done a great job, though. I’ve been using Zoom for a really long time here.
But your eBook, Make Remote Work, and you’re no stranger to working remotely. I’ve known you for quite some time, Clare, but now everybody’s pressed into this. When you think about the law of diffusion of innovation, a hundred ten years of marketing research of adopting something new, this has not really been quite the adoption, because I think 29% of people worked remotely prior to this and they pushed it up, depending on the vertical, upwards of 96%.
But on average, it’s just hindering around 70% of people being pressed into working remotely. But before we get into the book, Clare, share with us a little bit. You’ve got a really unique background, not only in who you’ve worked for, but… Your background is in technology but share with us your entrepreneurial story of how you started out and then how you’ve evolved into your current firm.
Clare Price: Well, thank you, Karla. I appreciate the opportunity to just share a little bit about how we got here. So, I have actually been working remote since the mid ’90s. I started my entrepreneurial journey as a tech reporter for a magazine called InformationWeek, and technology was relatively new around that time. The internet was just getting started. So, it was a really exciting time.
Karla Nelson: Yes, I remember. We’re dating ourselves.
Clare Price: I know. Just a bit. And so, I was able to be… The exciting part of that, Karla, was being able to be on the scene when companies like Cisco and Oracle and these companies were really creating what we use every day now, and even more so now that we’re all working remotely as a core technology or as a core part of our lives. That was exciting. The ability to just see that evolution and be part of that evolution was exciting-
Karla Nelson: Very cool, as far as the innovation aspect of it. And then Cisco was a great company because even when the ’90s, the tech bubble burst, they still innovated even around that, and are still one of the largest technology companies in the world, so that’s exciting stuff.
Clare Price: Yeah, and what’s interesting, too, is they really saw this remote… Because they were a network infrastructure company, network routers and whatnot, actually putting the invoice, the network together, they saw this remote video conferencing happening way in advance and they bought a company called Webex, which was one of the earliest…
Karla Nelson: I remember Webex. Isn’t that GoToWebinar, GoToMeeting now? Did they change…
Clare Price: No, that’s a different one.
Karla Nelson: Was is a separate one?
Clare Price: Yeah, Webex is one company. GoToMeeting is about the same age, though.
Early companies that are… Just been plodding along are now having to innovate. And then there’s some relative newcomers like Zoom and whatnot. So being able to be part of that, for me, is super-exciting. And then I started my own virtual company in Sacramento here in 2004. And what I’ve been able to do is be not only a remote employee, as I was with the magazine and also with research from Gartner Group, I’ve also been an executive team lead. I led a team in Cincinnati, Ohio. It was a startup. I was the VP of marketing and I was in San Francisco. And then following that, I had launched my own company. And I now have clients from Australia to the Philippines, to across the United States. So, not only customers, but team members that we all do all of our work virtually. So, I was really excited that this evolution happened because it gave us all a chance…
Karla Nelson: Yeah, because we’ve been trying to talk people into doing it for a long time, right?
Clare Price: Exactly, it’s been kind of like this concern and I’ll share a funny story. So, one of the groups I work with here in Sacramento is the Sacramento Manufacturing Initiative. And it’s to create and promote manufacturing in the Sacramento region. Our president, one of our core members, is from Mercy General Hospital and he was talking to me about this. He says, “I don’t know how to manage my people anymore because I’m used to walking around and seeing everybody. And now I have to do all of this, do the video conference.” So, it’s definitely been somewhat of a change and a rethink for some people.
Karla Nelson: Yes, definitely. And so, share with us a little bit about… And you said you were the VP marketing for one company and your background obviously was working on the scene with the InformationWeek magazine. And obviously you’re not a stranger to remote employee, but what are the types of positions that you fill within organizations that… You were saying, you’ve got clients from Australia to the Philippines and team members around the world. We actually do as well. But what are the problems that you solve? I think it’s really interesting. You said that you’re working with a group and they have this remote working challenge, and that is not uncommon. That has been something that has been at the top of a lot of individuals’ agenda. But can you share with us the other areas of work that you do remotely with these organizations?
Clare Price: Well, one of the things that I have been doing, focusing on the last several years and one of my larger clients is actually a cloud computing company. They do cloud knowledge management. And I think one of the things that I’ve really realized is the critical importance of digital transformation for mid-market and smaller companies. And there is a survey that the executive practice group gave recently that said only 12% of the companies are even far down the line in this digital transformation…
Karla Nelson: Wow, you’re kidding me.
Clare Price: No. Twelve percent. So, we’ve got a long way to go, particularly for our mid-market companies. And that’s where I’m focusing with a lot of my clients now is how can you improve your cost effectiveness, your efficiencies, your ability to be agile and adapt and pivot at speed in this new environment? Because again, we’re not in a situation, Carla, where we have this thing happened, let’s call it like the Great Recession happened, and then we just get our way out of it. This is a moving target. We’re going to be dealing with constant change here now for a minimum of a couple of years, I think, and so companies have to be able to be agile. They have to be able to pivot to new opportunities. And so that’s something that I’m working with a lot of my clients on from my cloud computing background, is how can they take advantage of that environment.
Karla Nelson: And that makes a lot of sense, not only from your background, but it’s not like this digital age is new. But again, 110 years of marketing research, law of diffusion of innovations, how people adopt new ideas, and now it’s being forced upon them. And I think it’s not, and this presses a couple of ways, which is, number one, the new normal that we will have to look at. And there’s benefits and drawbacks to both. But then also this 40 to 50 trillion in assets, the largest transformation of assets that’s ever going to come in the… Well, the sense of history of the world anyway, with the baby boomers that are going to have this huge asset transfer, is that if you’re not digitally ready for that, a lot of the intangible assets that go into the valuation of a company, and you’re not taking that into consideration. I mean, that’s really a huge aspect of any mid-market company currently, because how are you going to have an acquisition if you transfer a lot of that information digitally?
Clare Price: Absolutely. And also, as I know that you’re very familiar with what you do with the WHO-DO method is making sure that you have the talent aligned with what the requirements are and making sure that the individual tools are available, because there are lot of tools available that are in the market that are cloud-based tools that the companies haven’t taken advantage of and need to take a look at. And as that wealth gets transferred, as they have to make new kinds of decisions. Having those kinds of tools, I think, is going to make a big difference.
Karla Nelson: That makes sense. And also on the buy side, because we’re obviously focused on the business owner in the sell side, but on the buy side, if somebody hadn’t transferred to digital assets and you can see the value of transferring to those digital assets and you have the knowledge base by which you can have that talent aligned with your team, boy, you could really benefit from that. I mean, you could basically… People would be… It’s why private equity exists. People would be leaving millions of bucks on the table. They’re selling their company, and 90% of business owners sell because they’re just tired and burnt out. But if you understood this methodology and you were acquiring and had business acquisition, that would be pretty dang powerful too. If only 12% are ready for the digital transformation or they have created a digital transformation.
Clare Price: They have created the digital transformation, yeah. Getting ahead of that curve. I mean, it’s really important because a lot of our global companies, those… Pick an Apple, pick a Google, whatever. Pick a General Electric, a global company. They do understand the need for this because they have had to operate all over the world for a while, but are our mid-market companies, that’s new to them, and having the right approach. They’ve got to do… They’ve got look at three things, Karla.
They have to look at their people. Do they have the right people in the right positions? Do they have the people? And then what’s their process? Do they really have a good process for making these changes and making sure that their team is aligned with the direction the company needs to go? And then, third, they have to look at their product. They have to see… One of the biggest changes I think we’re going to see, going forward, are how people want to buy and connect with your products. And two things…
Karla Nelson: Well, yeah, that’s so different and it doesn’t matter if your product is real estate or if it’s a product that they’re purchasing online, or they want to touch it. Like the glasses companies that sell you them, and you put them on your face and send them back. There’s so many different ways now that individuals want to, and how do they want to is a great question. And based off their age, they’re likely to want to engage with the products differently too, which is unique.
Clare Price: More and more companies want… Customers want from companies is they want self-service. They do not want to have to necessarily, and even before we had this lockdown, people were getting away from going to the stores. They wanted to do things like Stitch Bitch, and Nordstrom followed up Stitch Bitch with their Trunk offering where the stylist puts the outfit together for you and then sends it off to you, and then you try it on and you keep what you want, send back what you don’t want. That’s an example of how retail is reinventing itself to take advantage of a remote environment, and a remote lifestyle.
Karla Nelson: That’s interesting, to say the least. When you think about that change that’s happening, and it’s speeding up. And now all of a sudden, I mean, they just put the gas pedal on it, as far as the stay at home and basically a lockdown, to reduce the COVID-19 challenge that we’ve had here recently. But think of the differences that have happened at a decade, at five years, at two years. And then, I mean, Dollar Shave Club, just think about that. It’s a billion-dollar company, and so leveraging that innovation is absolutely critical.
What are some of the ways in your eBook that you discuss how companies can think about that, and think about that differently, and also leverage that remote work or that… Because it’s more even just about working remotely. It’s also about buying remotely and depending if you’re purchasing groceries, all the way to outfits. So, what are some of the things that you found that companies can look at? You talked about the product and you talk about how the customers want to interact with the product. What are some of the other things that you found, in writing your eBook, make remote work that were interesting to you? Not only on how fast this is coming, but the way that companies can think about it so that they can be ahead of that curve.
Clare Price: Well, I think there’s three things, Karla, regarding a product, looking at your products and, and starting to reimagine what that might look like. The first thing is, what about your product and services can you bring online? That’s number one and we’re not just talking about standard ecommerce. We’re talking about, can you service your products online?
Give you a great example. One of my clients does data security. I will not name the client for confidentiality reasons, but one of their competitors sells all of their large data, top-secret data security products online now. My Plan does not, but they’re going to have to start looking at that. Also, servicing things online. Can you create an online maintenance contract, for example, where someone’s paying monthly, like a home warranty, for even the industrial products that you might be selling? That’s number one.
Number two, and you brought it up when you mentioned Dollar Shave Club. They’re actually in my book as an example of subscription pricing models. There are multiple different subscription pricing models that you can use as a company. For example, you can have a membership model like a fitness gym, but you can also have a surprise box model, like BarkBox, where people who are buying for their dogs can get a monthly goodie box. They don’t know what’s in their surprise box. They just pay their $29.99 a month and get that. So, there are a lot of different ways to do subscription pricing. And I think it’s worth most companies taking a look at selling or servicing their products through a subscription pricing model.
Karla Nelson: And by the way, subscription is great for the financial aspect of selling your company as well, because being able to project the revenue versus having… If the marketing medium changes, then it can completely affect your financials, but a subscription model is a great way. And, of course, being a training company, that’s why I know that, but it’s a great way that you can assimilate a lot of data or a lot of products. Because think about it. Now you’re sending the same exact box, the BarkBox, the same exact one. You’re not custom ordering it. You don’t have to have a customer service person there to take every single monthly order. So that’s a real interesting one. I love it. So, okay, share the last one with us, Clare.
Clare Price: So I wanted to follow up on one thing about that too, just to reinforce what you’re saying about selling your business. When you have a subscription pricing model, what’s one of the biggest problems? I’m going to switch topics a little bit, but one of the biggest problems that we know with smaller businesses and medium-sized businesses is the owner is too much in the business. But if you have a subscription model that takes the owner out of the business more quickly and more effectively than almost any other strategy.
Karla Nelson: Yep. The relationship is directly with the customer through the business, not the owner.
Clare Price: … revenue, as opposed to the owner going out and selling a project and then another project and another project. So just want to relap on that a little bit.
The third thing that I think companies are going to have to look at is community marketing. So, what do I mean with community marketing? Well, community marketing is letting your community do your marketing for you. That means reviews. That means not just social media, posting, sharing and liking, but actually building your product, not only for your community, but with your community. So, you can use your community for market research. You can do product testing with your community. You can get to the point where you have got this group of not just raving fans, which we all want to try to get, but actually a group that is so aligned with your product, your service, that they are bringing other people into the community without you incentivizing them.
Karla Nelson: Yeah. I love that. That’s great. And that’s like social media 2.0, because they’re engaged in all those pieces of the product that you… Regardless if it’s a physical product or an intangible product, which is an information product.
Clare Price: Exactly.
Karla Nelson: Well, that’s awesome. I am so excited to check this out because I know that… And thank you so much for including the WHO-DO method in your book, because it’s a process by which you can figure out what you’re going to do, ideation and implementation, how are you going to do it? And so one of the things that all the listeners can do is go back and figure out, what can you bring online? Run the process in ideation. Come up with every single idea that you can think about. Pick all the hole… Pick the best idea, set of ideas. Poke all the holes in the ideas. Run that process over and over and over again. And I can guarantee with your team, not only will you have 100% buy-in, but then you can move to implementing those. And we’ve got tons of podcasts that you can listen to. But, Clare, where can we find your book?
Clare Price: So the book is available online through our landing page. Our website isn’t up yet, so…
Karla Nelson: Well, we will make sure that…
Clare Price: If someone wants to, I can send you a link to the landing page, Karla. But also if someone is interested in getting a copy, what I’d love for them to do is just send me an email. And it’s Clare, C-L-A-R-E, @ Octain O-C-T-A-I-N, rose.com.
Karla Nelson: Wow. We’re really on the cutting edge here of you launching this book. So this is awesome. I’m super-excited about it.
Clare Price: It’s four days it’s been out.
Karla Nelson: Woohoo.
Clare Price: … a little bit behind it.
Karla Nelson: We know how that goes. It’s a lot of work to put up a new website. That’s for sure. So, we’re super-excited about this, and Clare, thank you so much. We’ll make sure we include your email address in the show notes. And thank you again for being on the show.
Clare Price: Thank you for having me, Karla.