As founder of Zhivago Marketing Partners Inc., Kristin Zhivago has for years shared her expertise with a variety of clients. These have ranged from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. She has made numerous appearances as a speaker and has taught several classes. In addition, Zhivago is the editor of a newsletter for company leaders and an e-zine for marketers. Her articles have appeared in numerous financial publications. With such a solid background in finance and writing, it seems logical that Zhivago’s next project would be to author a book, and so Rivers of Revenue: What to Do When the Money Stops Flowing came to be.
Rivers of Revenue begins with a story, a parable about a river where money flows and the people make a living by scooping cash from this river. Zhivago describes the various methods and systems used by the harvesters, and the fact that, although the river’s money is available to everyone, there are still levels of success. One day, the river stops flowing and the money disappears. What follows is a scene of confusion and panic, with very few people in the river community willing or able to take responsibility and look for viable ways to solve the problem.
Part 2 of Rivers of Revenue begins with no more optimism than the parable. In fact, it tells us to expect the worst, or, as the title of chapter one suggests, “Expect to Be Blindsided.” Zhivago explains that while there was a time when a job lasted a lifetime, industries today can be unpredictable. A number of factors can affect job security: the company may become more automated and employ fewer workers; the company may begin to outsource to defray labor and other costs; the company’s product may simply become obsolete as a result of ever-changing consumer demands. The point is that change is inevitable. At issue is whether we—consumers and workers—are able to change as well.
The main focus of chapter two is problem solving. Zhivago points out that we all experience problems on a day-to-day basis. There is absolutely no reason to assume that these problems are localized or original. More likely than not, there are numerous individuals or companies experiencing the same problems. One key to success, then, is coming up with solutions. Find a problem you can solve and then market your solution. Zhivago stresses that it is always best if solutions are geared toward helping buyers and not toward getting rich quickly. If the solution truly works, the chances are that money and success will come. However, concentrating on money jeopardizes any relationship with buyers.
Throughout the book, the term “buyer desire” comes up frequently. Chapter three, “Tapping Into Buyer Desire,” explains that in order to be successful, especially for a prolonged period of time, a seller has to understand and respect the buyers. Find out what the buyers want and then provide it. This chapter emphasizes research via discussion groups and interviews. Here we are warned not to fall into the trap of concentrating on the product and assuming that buyers will come. Instead, concentrate on the buyers and what they are willing to buy. Find out what buyers care about and what went wrong when others attempted to sell them solutions. Ask about the typical buying process: How long does it take the buyer to make a decision and what factors affect that decision? The point is that it should be all about the buyer because, without customers, there is no revenue.
Ensuing chapters build on the basics introduced in the earlier chapters. Chapter five, for example, describes the five levels of buyer desire, which include level two: “Slight interest”—buyer examines product but recognizes it isn’t a necessity—and level five: “Lust”—buyer believes that having the product will fix everything. Chapter 11 gives advice about how to build a buyer-process map. This is a table that shows the specific steps involved in a typical sale for the product you are offering. It also sets out the most effective way to accommodate the buyer process. Most important, such a map alleviates much of the dissent within a company about what needs to be done and how to do it.
Rivers of Revenue: What to Do When the Money Stops Flowing is certainly not the average self-help book. Zhivago does not mince words and does not waste time making promises about how this book will change your life. Instead, she stresses that change is always good for someone. It is up to us to recognize the possibilities that come with change and explore them until we find a place where we can carve our own niche.
Rivers of Revenue: What to Do When the Money Stops Flowing
Author: Kristin Zhivago
Publisher: Smokin' Donut Books, 2004