Lousy Marketing Messages: 5 Causes and Solutions

Lousy Marketing Messages: 5 Causes and Solutions

I was chatting with a startup CEO about marketing messages and how important it was to create a great story. His company has an awesome story and even though they only have a junior part-time marketer on staff, their messages are great. “I don’t get it,” he says to me “I see all this lousy messaging out there and yet we manage to do it! What’s wrong with people?” That got me thinking. Why is there so much bad messaging out there? Here’s what I think: 1/ The Team Stinks at Message Creation – The company has a good story but the team stinks at message creation and can’t translate that story into compelling messages. In my example above, the company happens to have naturally great storytellers on staff so they don’t have this problem. Not every startup is so lucky. Solution: Hire or rent some marketing talent. If you go with a consultant make sure they come with super references and make sure you stay heavily involved in the process. The output will be better that way and the team will get a better understanding of how to create messages. Caution: keep reading because this might not actually be the problem. 2/ Marketing Doesn’t Get It – The company has a good story but marketing (or whoever is creating the messaging), although great at message creation, lacks the understanding of either the offering or the market to really understand or believe the story. Messages are then created based on this (incomplete or flawed) understanding, resulting in weak messaging. Solution: Either spend more time with the marketing folk making...
Hiring Marketers for Cultural Fit

Hiring Marketers for Cultural Fit

Culture fit is always a big deal when you’re hiring but it’s particularly important for marketing jobs which are notoriously difficult positions to fill successfully at a startup. Marketers are also really hard to interview – their great communication, interpersonal and sales skills make them potentially full of bullcrap very difficult to read. I’ve been building a team where culture fit has been one of the biggest challenges. The folks I’m hiring not only need to deal with a TON of ambiguity (and a certain amount of chaos), they also have to be able to deal with a spectrum of language and culture issues in an environment where successful teamwork is critical to the job. Here are some things I am working into my interview technique to help me asses culture fit that I think would be useful for anyone hiring a marketer at a startup: Process-related questions – in general I like process-related questions when interviewing marketing folks because anyone can say they did things like “developed and drove programs” but it’s hard to figure out what the person’s exact contribution to the effort was (especially when there was outside help involved). Asking things like “Walk me through the process you used to build that” or “Describe the steps you took to get that project done” are usually good ones to get into the details of someone’s role. They also let you see how a person sees themselves in the context of their own team. Are they working with other folks or just doling out tasks? How are they interacting with their management team? How are they making decisions...
Back from a Break

Back from a Break

About 8 months ago I started a new gig that’s taken up all of my time and attention from a professional standpoint. The company is not a startup but the project does involve launching a set of new products into a space that is new for the company which is why I was brought on board. The organization is also new and from a process and procedures standpoint, so even though the company has been around for while, there is a lot of operational trailblazing going on as well. My time has been taken up with 4 major activities: Building out a team of senior level B2B marketing professionals that crosses channel marketing, solutions marketing, marketing communications, analyst relations, competitive intelligence and services marketing. Working on messaging and positioning Providing an expert point of view to the broader population of marketing folks at the company who haven’t marketed to enterprises and/or CIO’s previously Working on a content marketing strategy and plan I’ve been sitting on a handful of posts wondering if I should change the focus of this blog and in the end I decided not to. I am going to focus on topics I think are relevant to startup marketers, with maybe the occasional big company B2B post thrown in just for laughs. So many of the principles of prepping a marketing and launching a product are the same across big and small companies, I think there is still a lot for me to say (and frankly, I can’t predict what I’ll be working on a year from now). I am also a bit overwhelmed by the amount...