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Principles Over Tactics: Davos Attendees Meet World Leaders and Ponder Grift

I find myself having more and more conversations with clients about trust. Marketing has made their buyers skeptical (along with everyone else). And the professional services we are selling are often bought by non-experts…which makes trust the primary factor in paying a premium.

So what? When you begin to view industry developments—and your own client interactions—from a perspective of trust dynamics, some interesting trends emerge:

  1. The drift to grift. The technical complexity of many services creates a dynamic of what economists call “rent-seeking behavior.” The result is a race to the bottom that is winner-take-all for sellers but, on net, bad for everyone (especially your buyers).

  2. Political identity reveals some buying dynamics. Civic Science has done some interesting research on the buying habits that correlate with party affiliation. For instance, those identifying as right of center significantly over-index buying discounts. Those on the left, price-shop less and are more likely to finance purchases with BNPL services. Should you be political? Doubtful. But you must be aware of the perceptions and preferences of your market: your positioning, pricing, and buying experience must be aligned or you undermine trust.

  3. The source of exceptional margins. Every part of the market is higher stakes. Trust is part of the value you offer. The more trust you command (and the more value you create as a result), the more leverage you have to escape the general dynamics eroding price (and trust).

Trust is more critical in your business than ever. Keep that theme in mind as you browse this week’s links. And, consider taking a deeper look at the alignment of variables in your business (specifically: positioning, business model, marketing activities) to find lasting leverage in your business.

— Ian
Founder, The Pro Solo

Understanding your own goals and values

Michael Zipursky and Elizabeth Harr, Managing Partner at Hinge Marketing discuss the importance of being a visible expert, building around your brand, and empowering your digital footprint to become a highly trusted firm. Elizabeth also explains how to keep your key talents by shaping yourself into an inspirational leader.

Productivity isn’t just about what you do; it’s also about how you take care of yourself. Eating well, getting enough sleep, taking regular breaks, and investing in a conducive workspace are all part of the equation. Take charge of your productivity today. Not tomorrow, not next week, but now.

Intriguer's Helen Zhang has spent the last week in Davos, Switzerland. She has met world leaders, CEOs, hangers-on, and lots of snipers. Here are some of the highlights of her visit to the World Economic Forum (WEF). (The Ukrainian president doesn’t mess around when it comes to his security!)

“A year or so ago I recall telling Bari Weiss in a podcast that the inflation was perhaps half real shocks, half an aggregate demand problem. Don’t let the revisionists talk you into the hardcore RBC view! We’ll see what happens in 2024.”

Principles vs. tactics

Cold DMs have a bad reputation because they’re a popular tactic in the “Hustle Bro 24/7” playbook. The ‘3-touch with value approach’ will show you how to network, and ultimately work with, top people in your field by providing value through DMs.

There's a supply story and a demand story: many of the traits that make people excellent grifters used to have more legitimate applications, but don't any longer.

Business strategy

This year marks the 30th anniversary since the first digital ad made its debut online. In 2023, 44% of U.S. adults reported that the majority of digital ads they saw were at least ‘somewhat’ relevant. Consumers aged 55 and older remain the least likely to be accurately targeted by ads online.


The clouds on distant exoplanet WASP-107b are made of particles of silicate – minerals that are often the main constituents of sand. These particles then rain back down into the hotter layers of the planet’s atmosphere below, where they evaporate. This process then repeats in cycles, rather like the water cycle on Earth – but with sand!