Podcast

Episode: 369 |
Cactus Raazi:
Personalized Pricing:
Episode
369

HOW TO THRIVE AS AN
INDEPENDENT PROFESSIONAL

Cactus Raazi

Personalized Pricing

Show Notes

 

Cactus Raazi is a former Managing Director at Goldman Sachs who has been a successful entrepreneur in credit trading.

He is also the author of the recently published book Price: Maximizing Customer Loyalty Through Personalized Pricing

In today’s episode, Cactus shares his perspective on personalized pricing – and how he got his distinctive first name.

 

Key points include:

  • 06:05: Researching his book
  • 08:30: Examples of personalized pricing
  • 13:03: The value of personalized pricing
  • 17:41: Ideal businesses for personalized pricing
  • 20:53: How to communicate personalized pricing to the consumer
  • 24:31: Using  algorithms to differentiate the customer base

 

You can contact Cactus through LinkedIn and order his book, Price: Maximizing Customer Loyalty Through Personalized Pricing, on Amazon.

 

One weekly email with bonus materials and summaries of each new episode:

Will Bachman 00:01
Hello, and welcome to Unleashed the show that explores how to thrive as an independent professional. I’m your host Will Bachman. And I’m excited to be here today with cactus Razi, who is the author of price, maximizing customer loyalty through personalized pricing. Cactus. Welcome to the show.

Cactus Raazi 00:23
Thanks. Well, it’s pleasure to be here.

Will Bachman 00:25
All right. So first, I’m sure that you get this a lot. And I apologize. But I just got to ask, I got to ask, how did you get the name cactus? That is such a cool name.

Cactus Raazi 00:35
Thanks. Yeah, it’s funny. It’s actually my middle name. But I’m an immigrant. And I came to this country back in 1974. My first name is spelled m eh, Ra. And it’s pronounced metadata, which is really complicated. And after high school, on my way to college, I thought, you know, this is just not working. Let me figure out what I’m going to do and stick in a middle name. I didn’t have one at the time. And I picked cactus and it’s been it’s served me well, in my long career in sales. And in my career in capital markets in high finance, it’s always been really unusual and has worked for me. And here we are today. It’s illegal middle name. So my passport and whatnot. I do use it professionally.

Will Bachman 01:14
So you actually had no middle name. And you just you picked a middle name, and then legally change your name to get that added?

Cactus Raazi 01:21
Yeah, that’s exactly right.

Will Bachman 01:22
That was genius. You know, it’s interesting that you say about sales, because I think that there’s like a spectrum of, if you have a name that’s too common. Like, if you’re, you know, john Brown, that that’s kind of rough in life, because there’s so many you can’t, nobody can find you on LinkedIn. But on the other hand, if you have a name, that’s kind of hard to pronounce, then it can hurt you a little bit. Because like, people are almost afraid to, like, say your name, so they’re less likely to remember you. But having a memorable name, that, you know, you’re probably I would be willing to bet that you’re the only cactus Razi on LinkedIn. So

Cactus Raazi 01:57
I am here to echo your point when I was when I was young salesman at Goldman Sachs, sort of building an account base and, and and getting my career really going way back in the 90s. I can’t tell you how many clients who I call and said, you know, to be honest with you, we don’t do a lot of businesses, Goldman Sachs, but we figured we would take the call and take a meeting with a salesman named cactus. And that I that must have happened at least a dozen times where I said, like, you know, you guys at Goldman Sachs are a bunch of issues. We don’t want to do business with you. But we took the meeting because of your name.

Will Bachman 02:31
So that, you know, the lesson learned. And by the way, if you do have a hard to pronounce, name, LinkedIn has a nice feature where you can pronounce your name and have a little, little audio there. So Wow, so that name selection was probably worth several million dollars for Goldman Sachs.

Cactus Raazi 02:47
I’d like to think so maybe they should have

Will Bachman 02:49
I mean, not now that someone at Goldman Sachs is gonna start a program where they’re gonna start getting people to, you know, change their name to have more memorable names.

Cactus Raazi 02:56
It’s funny, I just had a son. Only about six weeks ago, we named him winter. So with the tradition of unusual but sort of cool names continues. Yeah, winter is a pretty cool name

Will Bachman 03:07
that is kept winter and cactus. Okay, precipitation of family. So let’s talk about price. So, and I’ll tell readers, you and I chatted before that I was actually I was telling you, like, wow, if I see a book called price, maximizing customer loyalty through personalized pricing, I’m betting $100, that that person is a pricing consultant. But this was almost more of a intellectual adventure for you your your day to day job is running a credit trading business.

Cactus Raazi 03:39
Yeah, I would refer to this as a passion project. And really as a reaction to two things in my life, one sort of the expansion of data analytics and conversations really around data, and around e commerce and what’s going on sort of in the broader economy. And then the second element is my personal experience around the vast majority of businesses and how they come up with price. We’re all aware of really sophisticated yield management, businesses, their alliance would be a great example, I think of a less impressive, but somewhat structured business would be hospitality. And there are others. And then there’s a lot of businesses that were there, their pricing approach really makes very little sense. Restaurants would be a great example, where the you know, you get the same meal at the same price, regardless of whether it’s Saturday night at 8pm, or maybe Tuesday evening at 5pm. So a lot of places in the marketplace where I think pricing needs to the thoughts around pricing need to evolve. And then the question becomes how, and in my personal life, of course, I have a lot of examples of friends who run businesses sole proprietorships My mom is still a working hairstylist. And so we really there’s a lot of different touch points in the book around thinking about price and thinking about customer loyalty and the Loyalty concept I think a lot of your listeners will appreciate because to the degree that you can generate loyalty and maintain loyalty, I think you take your business and push it towards more recurring revenue streams. Again, to use a hairstylist example, wouldn’t it be great if you if all of your appointments were booked out with the same customers every week, and essentially, you’ve now maximize the revenue of your business, and you’ve turned it into a, effectively a totally recurring revenue stream. And there’s a lot more enterprise value there, I realized hairstylists Don’t think about enterprise value that much, but the the same ideas would would apply to most any business.

Will Bachman 05:39
So let’s, before we jump into your book, and personalized pricing, you did a bunch of research for this book, and you looked at a lot of the literature on pricing out there, give us a bit of an overview of the main different kind of pricing approaches or pricing philosophies that you encountered as you were doing the literature research?

Cactus Raazi 06:05
Sure. The first thing I’ll say is there are a number of pricing experts out there. And that’s sort of all they do. There is of course, the professional pricing society. And so I don’t want to represent that I’m on on the same level as people who live and breathe pricing. What I will say, is both in my master’s program, I’ve spoken to some of the real pioneers of pricing theory and study none of them. And I’d say I’ve certainly read a number of books and looked at what what has been discussed. And the incorporation of individualized data or sort of a more personalized approach is relatively novel. So I have not seen much out there around how to think about the customer, really, as an individual. I think some of Peter faders work out of the University of Pennsylvania around customer centricity dovetails nicely with some of the themes in the book, which is pricing approaches need to and are slowly but need to evolve towards thinking about the individual customer as the actual person, not as a generalized segment, or sort of a sense of using population statistics, such as age or zip code, and coming up with generalized approaches, but really thinking about what is the data around this individual’s behavior, and to agree will this individuals information affect our approach to how to price them with the objective function not being revenue maximization in the short term, but rather the objective function being loyalty maximization.

Will Bachman 07:41
Alright, so talk to me about that approach. So we’re not looking to maximize this individual transaction, but the customer lifetime value. And your your approach is different than sort of the quote unquote, yield management or dynamic pricing that we are all familiar with. So we all know that, you know, airlines, like you mentioned before, the prices will vary, that they’re, you know, there’s legal examples of price discrimination, where my dad can get a discount to a movie, take movie theater when I pay full price, because he’s a senior citizen. But you’re talking about something different. So get into some examples of what personalized pricing would would look like? And what sort of characteristics of that person are you using in the in the algorithm?

Cactus Raazi 08:30
Yeah. So you raise a great example, which your father’s discounted movie ticket price, my argument would be that that is a, an attempt to come up with create some sort of loyalty. And it’s based on a person’s age. And I say this because, you know, people above a certain age receive a discount you make you can make the argument, it’s because they don’t have as much disposable income, whatever, there’s a lot of ways we could go around it conceptually, you’ve, you’ve sliced your customer base. And you said, I want to incent these people to give them a differentiated pricing regime in order to get them to come to this movie theater more commonly. I’m only suggesting that rather than the slice the age, the slides should really be around Who’s this individual customer? And what is their behavior bit. So if this is the first time your father’s gone to this movie theater, there’s no evidence of any meaningful loyalty. If it’s the fourth time in a month, I would argue there’s a very clear sign that there is a potential loyalty there. If that’s true, then the next question would be and we talked about it in the book, should this person receive a different price? It’s not any different than slicing based on age or slicing based in the airline industry. It used to be Saturday night, stay over that’s over. But you know, these are the old sort of touchstones of how you would think about differentiated pricing. My only argument would be let’s take it to the individual to the level of the individual now that the data analytics are possible. Now that you know, so much has progressed in terms of data analytics. capability over the last decade, the correct thing to think about now and start to implement is a regime around the individual price of that individual human being. And one of the questions would be why we’ve talked about a lot about generating loyalty. There’s a lot of research out that people respond well to receiving a unique price. It’s a it gives them a sort of a, sometimes some sort of a cycle, reactive rush. But I think there’s a second element that I think is important. Giving your, your better customers, whether it’s better because they come more often, but define a better customer, and then give them a price that that improves, their loyalty also insulates against generalized internet price competition, airlines are a great idea, a great example, of places where there’s unfettered price competition. Arguably the same is true of hotels, the booking aggregator sites, even though hotel is a much more differentiated experience than a flight from point A to point B. Hotel selection is so often set in a format of price competition. And we’re starting to see that even away from the hospitality industry. My argument is that as you move forward in time, with aggregation websites, with mobile commerce and mobile price transparency with Internet browsers, the best way to avoid a future of pure price competition for your good or service, is to start to think about your customer base, and provide your better customers, those who are demonstrating loyalty, with a unique price, potentially with other add ons, unique experience, something that others don’t get, there’s, there’s more to it than purely price. But since the books about price, think about price, give people something unique, it will not only improve their loyalty, but it will also guard against sort of this, you know, pure this destination of pure price competition.

Will Bachman 11:58
You know, I guess, I would maybe ask you about it doesn’t necessarily mean a lower price. So, you know, for some people that are not price sensitive, but are time sensitive. I’d give myself as an example, if I wanted to watch a movie, in New York City, you know, on a different Saturday night, I might go out to the theater, and you know, tickets are 150 bucks, 200 bucks. And but if you want to go out to a movie on it’s like first night, you know, maybe it’s completely sold out in the theater, where I’d be happy to spend 20 or $30 on a ticket, but you just can’t get it. I mean, the price is effectively infinite, because, you know, it’s sold out. So in some cases, if for loyal customers, if you’d be willing to like reserve seats, and make them, you know, more expensive than sort of list price, that would engender loyalty. So what are some of your thoughts about you know, not always, it doesn’t always mean necessarily giving a discount. But it could mean just varying it so that it’s the person, you know, it big, you can build loyalty without necessarily discounting.

Cactus Raazi 13:03
It that’s 100% correct. And in fact, I’m not, I’m not specifically suggesting in the book that the price should be lowered, nor higher. The really the emphasis is on differentiation. The use case varies greatly. And as you said, there’s a lot of different parameters that one of the challenges in writing a book about price is if you’re trying to write it as a strategy or a strategic level book, then the tactics will differ, depending on context, as you said, industry and scale and a variety of other factors. But you’re absolutely right to say differentiated priced at two to generate loyalty does not necessarily mean lower. It does in some cases, and certainly not in others.

Will Bachman 13:44
Yeah. Now, are you can you give us some examples of any kinds of companies that are using personalized pricing in a way that you would, you know, recommend?

Cactus Raazi 13:58
You know, I can give you examples of companies that are or that are moving in that direction. And I think you’ve seen some of these as well. One example is the use of coupons and loyalty programs. This is not personalized, I want to be very clear, these generally tend to be broad based, but at a minimum they are now these approaches are starting to look at behaviors and trying to create a de facto modified price based on certain behaviors. I think Starbucks has done a decent job with their Don’t laugh, but with their sort of rewards app and using it as a way of paying for your coffee and I mentioned that in the book that this program has definitely created a much higher level of loyalty and you do get these various stars and you can spend the stars on coffees or or other items foodstuffs that they sell. My what we suggest in the book is that Starbucks should really think about when you use scan, you just get a different price and and let’s avoid the proxies. data analytic capabilities are there to think about this specific individual, particularly in a mobile context. And so avoid proxies and go right to the heart of the matter, which is price. Beyond that, you know, there’s a lot of literature out there, I suppose, a lot might be strong. But there are many articles that have been written about certain ecommerce businesses, giving differentiated prices based on various factors. I think there’s some famous examples of Amazon, giving different prices in its early days based on whether you were logging in from a Macintosh or Apple based machine or app back then it was a 486 based machine, the theory being that the rich people had apples, and so they would get slightly higher prices. Again, these are all proxies. And I think there’s been experiments around some of these questions. Many of the previous examples, not not so much these days, things are changing. But the previous examples typically had to do with how to charge more. And I think that the objective function needs to change from near term revenue maximization towards loyalty maximization, that’s one of the big pushes in the book is that as a business, you’re better off really thinking about maximizing the loyalty of your best customers, then thinking about maximizing the potential revenue of an episodic transaction without regard to the impact on loyalty. Many of your listeners probably would agree that as they think about their life experiences, it can actually be quite off putting to view your business relationship with a provider of a good or a service, as as being differentiated in some way, and then receive a pricing experience or a service experience that doesn’t recognize that differentiation. Your your, your your dad goes to the movie theater regularly, he has certain expectations about how he would hope to be treated, whether it’s via price or via some other element of the good or service relative to other other moviegoers who may or may actually have significant lower levels of loyalty. And this is true in a lot of different contexts. You can see it in airline loyalty programs, and we could go on and on. Some of what we mentioned in the book, is that trance transform some of your proxies around price into direct pricing, differential differentiation.

Will Bachman 17:19
So maybe kind of give me a future state example of pick your ideal company, or ideal product or service that you think this this sort of personalized pricing is best suited for. And, and paint us a picture of of that of that world, that future state for that that company what that would look like?

Cactus Raazi 17:41
Sure. So we can use some examples of maybe an e commerce, mobile commerce, and then maybe some an analog experience as well. In the e commerce and this is closely related to the mobile commerce context, the first element is to you need to be able to identify your customer, this would need to be done via either some sort of a, obviously, as part of your cookie, as part of a login process, in in on, on your e commerce site, or potentially mobile, obviously very easy to identify the customer. And quite simply, it would be as a commercial transaction is taking place, that customer receives a price based on their based on a process related to their loyalty. And so if this were to be your next purchase, in a certain timeframe, you’re your third purchase, fourth purchase diff purchase, as you would observe a price that’s that’s different from that which others get, it could just as easily be access to a good or a service, by the way that is not accessible. So there’s a lot of different industry specific ways. And one example is I recently bought some some clothing as a gift for my wife, and went to the website forward. And I have gone to the website forward several times in the past, it recognizes the fact that I’ve been there. And it also recognizes the purchases that I’ve made recently. And it’s two things for one, it it let me know that it knows I’ve been there several times, I did not receive a differentiated price. But I did receive an interestingly differentiated experience. And the second thing that that’s done is it has let me know when items that I looked for but did not find in my wife size have been put back in stock and my wife sighs that level of personalization is already taking place. What we would suggest in the book and this is this would be an example of a future state is not only does forward continue to do the things that I just mentioned, but actually extends the price to me that’s different than the than the price it’s extending to a first time visitor.

Will Bachman 19:56
Yeah. So for that to be effective. I would imagine Imagine that you need to actually tell people like, Hey, here’s the list price that every ordinary person gets. And here’s your special discounted price. And if you’re trying to incent the behavior, what are your thoughts around kind of making it transparent about a if, you know, if you spend $1,000 with us per year, you’ll get a 10% discount. If he’s spending $2,000, you get a 20% discount, or you know, something like that to let people know in advance, because otherwise, if people don’t know that you’re doing it, they’re not necessarily going to be incentivized to to have that loyalty. Or if they’re not even aware, they may just be completely ignorant that they’re getting this special price. And then it’s hard for maybe it does have the effect that you want it to have. Do you need. So how do you communicate to people that they’re getting this special, personalized price?

Cactus Raazi 20:53
Yeah, that’s actually an excellent question. And it depends on whether you think it’s going to be advantageous to your business to be sort of promoting the idea of discounting. I say this, because it’s true that in certain contexts, essentially the purchase of clothing, generally speaking, lower prices better period, full stop, it’s it’s just I would only point out that that’s not necessarily always the case. And so sometimes there’s a sense of exclusivity or uniqueness that I think one needs to maintain. The the second element I would say is, we you I’m sure a lot of your listeners would agree certain businesses have fallen victim to continuous excessive discounting, and have really trained their customers to really resist full price purchases. And in certain cases, the way that you would be maybe treating your customers, the best would be giving them access to a limited good or service at full price. And that in and of itself is actually a better treatment than then, you know, the discount is not required, the way that you’re really differentiating this customer is just by giving them an opportunity to do something. It’s particularly true, if there’s some sort of a limited set of availability, maybe a unique item. I think it’s really big in the sneaker world. Now there’s all these various unique and hard to find items, or maybe a table at a restaurant, that on a Saturday night or a Friday night, that’s hard to get any anything along those lines just being able to participate in the experience, maybe the premium and doesn’t require discounting. So I think there’s there are a couple of considerations. When thinking about personalized pricing, specific to discounting. I’m not saying it’s a bad idea, I think it’s a good idea, just one would need to be thoughtful about its broader impact. I think I could use the example of Donald Von Furstenberg. I like their products, and I do buy those products as gifts for my wife. But I do notice that I’m probably once a week I get a discount email from them not specific to me not personalized, just a generalized email, this is 30% off or 40% off. And it really has trained me to not buy anything at full price from that business. So the that that is a consideration around being transparent with the specific price relative to particularly if it’s a discount. And I think that’s a consideration that businesses will make on a more individualized basis. having the conversation however, around how should we approach pricing for our better customers, or our best customers has to be had regardless?

Will Bachman 23:31
How do you handle and recommend that companies handle issues where personalized pricing could blur into what may be actually illegal price discrimination. So my understanding, which is I’m not an attorney here is that, you know, some forms of price discrimination are legal, like you can give senior citizens a discount, for example. But some forms of price discrimination where different classes or different groups of people get a different price might not be legal, certainly if you did something based on race, or based on you know, religion, for pizza, eggs, or you know, some other kind of characteristics. So, you know, while age might be legal, you know, like you can do it, you know, discounted price for students or for adults. So how, how can you make sure that your algorithms are not getting into something that is going to actually be against the law?

Cactus Raazi 24:31
Yeah, it’s actually a great question. I’m happy to report that although it’s not a particularly thick book, per se, we do actually talk a little bit about that. One of the elements is be thoughtful about what data you’re actually collecting. And and, and, you know, if you if you’re not as an as an illustration, if you’re not planning on differentiating your customer base based on race, then it’s unclear to me why that variable should be part of your data set. But I think that’s important to also make sure that you have sufficiently experienced data practitioners where they don’t Using proxies for race, such as zip code, where a lot of this, you know, we do have a fairly high level of racial stratification in this country. And zip code can sometimes be used as a proxy, I would argue, probably the vast majority of the time inadvertently, but but the outcome could appear to be discriminatory. And I think that some of these points really strike at the at the heart of or the finer points of data analytics and ensuring that you have a command over how you’re thinking about and using your data. These are important questions to address as part of your process. And we do mention some considerations in the book. And I think they need to be sort of your, your overall approach does need to be audited to ensure that you’re not inadvertently, sort of going with data driven errors. We mentioned something in the book actually, that that happened at Target, where they were using data analytics to try and predict women who were in the early stages of pregnancy, and then pound them with coupons for various pregnancy related goods that you may want to consider. And this is kind of a famous example in what not to do in data analytics. Because these, these Mo, we, you know, we know you’re pregnant. And here’s a bunch of coupons that type of a mailer went out to a 16 year old girl, who, inadvertently who was, in fact, pregnant and didn’t know what to do. And she was in a very religious household, and it was a real problem when it happened. So these are considerations, I think that needs to be addressed on an individualized basis. But I think that they’re they’re definitely important part of the overall data analytics process.

Will Bachman 26:39
How do consumers react when they become aware that there are different prices out in the market, and maybe that they’re not getting the, you know, the cheapest price? Because some, we don’t necessarily have, you know, an opaque market people can share on social media, oh, here’s the price that I’m paying, someone else finds that they’re getting the same product and paying more might be upset about that. How do companies navigate those waters?

Cactus Raazi 27:09
You know, the waters? Are there are some challenges around that. And I think that there’s a flip side of that your question is a great one, which is if I find out, someone else has gotten a lower price than me, how do I feel. And we have some proxies for that I think most of us have widely accepted the fact that the person sitting next to us or two seats away from us now in the pandemic, on an airplane might have gotten a different pricing might be lower, might be higher, we sort of begrudgingly accepted that I think if you sat down at a restaurant, and the table next to you, their menu had different prices than yours, particularly if they were lower, I think you’d be annoyed. But so I’ll I agree with you that there are some pitfalls here, the flip, but it’s important to bear the flip side in mind. If this is the to illustrate the point, if this is the seventh week in a row that you’ve eaten at this restaurant, and the person next to you, is their first time in the door, would would? How does that feel to you that they get the same price? As you? I don’t know, these are open questions, I would argue a lot of people would feel good about having their loyalty rewarded. And the flip side of this annoyance is the lack of feel good for a person demonstrating loyalty is something that a business should be thoughtful about.

Will Bachman 28:27
Yeah, so I suppose that there’s got to be thoughtful about how you implement it sounds like, there’s different ways though, you could have a different price on the menu, or at the end of the meal, you could, you know, get a sort of a a courtesy discount. Or you could get like a bottle of wine or a dessert thrown in free or something by the chef, which you know, just just doesn’t go on the bill. So there’s different ways probably of implementing the differentiated pricing.

Cactus Raazi 28:56
Yeah, that’s exactly right. And one of the things that’s true is you have such a diversity of potential applications with regards to industry and scale and and the complexities of premium products versus commodity products and whatnot, that it’s not easy to write a book at the tactical level. But it’s certainly I think, interesting, at least from my perspective, to write something at the strategic level around how should we be thinking about these questions, particularly as, as we are either thinking about them or not the technology arms race and the transparency and the inner the browser extensions and couponing sites, and you know, all of these other, I’m sure you’re aware that there are sites out there now for promo codes. So if you if there’s a promo code that says 10% off your first purchase, that promo code is immediately up on a promo site, and you’re, you know, typically accessible to you. So these are all these are all sort of considerations that I think needs to be contemplated. And another example would be if as a This is a very simplistic example. And I again, don’t want to necessarily emphasize that our entire conversation is around discounting. But an email to you that says, congratulations on your third purchase from our business, this is a unique code to you, that will give you either X percent off or access to something that other people are not getting access to. But give you the sense that you’re now getting a differentiated experience. That’s really the type of thing that we’re arguing for. And it would be unique to you, and go up on a website won’t work for anybody else doesn’t matter. Those are the ways in which I think businesses need to start thinking about their forward approach to pricing, incorporating data analytics, which is much more widely available, leaning on your service providers. As an example, if your website is run off of Shopify, or bigcommerce, really thinking about whether customer pricing services are being offered by these larger platforms, in an effort to sort of defeat this generalized pricing transparency and sort of moving towards pure price competition.

Will Bachman 31:07
You know, I’m sort of reflecting on how we’re coming really full circle, and that we’ve had sort of fixed prices on labels for really just about a little over 100 years, right? Like I, I read this, I think it’s the great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company is the title of the book, it’s history of the a&p, which was one of the first, or maybe the first grocery chain to actually just have list prices on goods and not have them behind the counter, but just have them out for consumers to go and browse and select what they wanted, and have sort of just published labeled prices, which, which people liked, because before that, it would be the shopkeeper behind the counter would just, you would make money differentiate the price based on who the consumer was. And it worked. So we’re now we’re coming a little bit full circle back back to that pre ANP world.

Cactus Raazi 32:09
Well, you know, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, that’s a brilliant observation. And it is in the book, again, it’s not a thick book, I don’t want to scare your audience off. But yeah, we mentioned about the fact that, generally speaking, there’s, you know, over the over the course of the history of commerce, there’s always been real flexibility around price based on who’s asking. And that’s still true to this very day in the bond market, I might add, which is a funny side note. But But you’re exactly right. It’s really saying, okay, we went through a period where scale and and sort of indifferent commerce was the de facto business model. And now with this rise in the power of modern data analytics, we’re able to use information in a way to sort of almost bring us back to how commerce was done more traditionally, which is differentiate your customer base, and, and really focus on having an excellent experience for for the subset of total customers that you really want to cater to. Part of that conversation should be priced using data analytics. And, and that’s really, as you said, going back to how things were done, and, and arguably, will likely need to be done unless you’re comfortable with just pure price competition. If you’re if you’re a hairstylist, and you are perfectly okay with being sort of in competition with every other hairstylist out there, and and therefore being ground down to the lowest possible denominator then fine, that’s that’s, maybe maybe you’re not interested in the ideas behind the book. But I would argue most businesses should be thinking about these ideas as technology marches forward.

Will Bachman 33:44
Cactus, I’d love to spend just a few minutes here towards the end of our discussion, talking about your day job. So So you were a founder and CEO of elephants, which was a FinTech startup that designed and built fully automated trading software for the bond market. And I think you got acquired, and you’re now a partner at x SOS e x. Oh, yeah. Tech experts, financial experts. Yeah. Tell us. Could you tell us a little bit about your day job today?

Cactus Raazi 34:16
Absolutely. Yeah. So, you know, I set up elephants specifically, actually to address a lot of the same things we’re talking about today. But just the use case was the bond market that’s very specialized, but it is where I’ve spent my entire career. And this idea in the bond market, I’ll be brief, was, you know, customers a call and say, well, we offer a bond, where will you bid a bond? Where can a customer buy or sell a bond? And that price was usually cooked up by a trader? Thinking about a wide variety of factors, including, you know, what’s the bond who’s the customer what the market feel like? What’s my positioning of feel like you name it, and that was really a data analytics problem. And with elephant we got together a really bright group of people and said, Look, we can turn this process of coming up with a price on a bond into a data analytics problem. And we can solve it. And to the degree that we can then price one bond, we can price 1000s of bonds. And we can push these prices out to our customers, and create a lot of transparency and create a really differentiated user experience. And of course, that came to pass we were successful. And we did build such a thing. And then we decided last year to join exos financial, which is a larger firm, that is a pure technology driven financial services firm in the b2b market, otherwise known as an investment bank. But, you know, we we serve asset managers, and we serve institutional businesses rather than individuals. And exos, had a very similar thought, which is, there has been a technology leader. And there’s been a lot of wealth created by applying technology to manual businesses, we’ve seen this in many other industries, and financial services is still sort of a lagger of really rethinking business processes around technology. So we at elephant joined exos. And we’ve gotten our, our workflow management and our pricing systems and everything back up and running. And we’re buying and selling bonds every day in, in the institutional marketplace, at exos. But again, the idea here is take a manual business, apply a healthy dose of data analytics, and then transform the user experience. And that’s how it’s connected to the book. These are all inspirations around thinking about your customers for a business larger small thinking around applying data thinking about coming up with prices, thinking about in the bond market, your objective function is, in fact, how do I make the most or lose the least, that’s, that’s because issues around loyalty and whatnot don’t really exist in high level financial services. Large asset manager would not do business with you because they, they like you, or because they had a good experience last time, it because of rules around compliance and whatnot, it’s always price based, but in the real world away from the abstraction of financial services. You know, loyalty, does matter. And recurring revenue streams matter and how to how to generate that around it using the same set of analytic tools, just a different objective function. That’s, that’s really what inspired the book.

Will Bachman 37:18
Fantastic. So the book is price, maximizing customer loyalty. Through personalized pricing cactus. We’ll include a link to the book in the show notes, where can people find out more about you if they wanted to get in touch?

Cactus Raazi 37:35
Well, I am certainly on LinkedIn, my contact information is updated there, including email and phone number, so that’s fine. And the book is on Amazon, and I would appreciate anyone interested in a Kindle version or even the old school paper version, which strangely enough, I must be old because most of my friends said, Forget it. I’ll buy the paper copy, which is great. And I really appreciate this conversation. It’s been wonderful.

Will Bachman 38:01
And help out cactus. leave a review on Amazon, leave a five star review on Amazon. help get the word out. Cactus. Thanks so much for joining today. Really enjoyed the discussion.

Cactus Raazi 38:12
Yeah, my pleasure. Thank you so much for having me.

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