A New Marketing Framework

***Please note: I’ve released a new version of this framework: A Startup Marketing Framework V2*** Most product managers and product marketers I know, including myself have studied the Pragmatic Marketing Framework.  I first did over 10 years ago and it continues to be a very useful tool for explaining what product management is all about.  As I’ve been working with companies on product marketing plans however, I’ve wondered what something similar to the Pragmatic Framework would look like from a purely marketing point of view.  I took what I’ve done with companies and what I’ve seen smart product marketers around me doing and constructed a marketing framework that looks like the diagram below.  Also, you lean startup types should note that this is applicable for companies that are beyond product/market fit.  Feedback is appreciated! Segments – Based on your interaction with early customers, these are the segments that have the most affinity for your offering and are the target of your marketing efforts.  These need to be well defined and very specific and includes personas. Market Needs – From your experience with early customers you will be able to articulate the unmet needs in the market related to your segments (and beyond). Key Points of Value – These are the most critical key differentiated points of value that your product offers.  This is not a long list of features but rather small number of key attributes that customers in your segment love about your product. Competitive Alternatives – These are the alternatives ways that customers can attempt to service their needs.  These may be competitive offerings, features or pieces...

5 Reasons to Stop Exhibiting at Trade Shows

I hate trade shows as a marketing tactic.  Add up the cost of booth space, shipping, and travel, and the number of good leads you need to get to show any kind of ROI is too large to justify doing most shows.  And don’t even get me started on how hard it is to be heard above the noise of dozens of other companies battling for the scarce hung-over attention of attendees that are only walking the show floor because they heard there might be free food or booze around somewhere.  Here are 5 reasons to stop exhibiting at trade shows: 1/ There’s no ROI – Did you ever stop to wonder about those free food and booze parties/receptions they hold on the show floor to get attendees to go into the exhibit hall?  There is a clear message – people won’t go in there unless they are bribed to go!  How many high quality leads do you think you are going to get from a crowd of people that want to avoid you?  Not many. 2/ It’s hard to stand out – You can’t afford an Oracle-sized booth (and you’ll also miss out on the keynote talk and premium advertising that goes along with that). You’ll be in a tiny booth along the edges of the show where it’s easy to ignore you.  You could do something really creative to stand out like the company at SxSW that had their entire booth covered in brown paper.  I’d link to them but I can’t remember what they were called. 3/ No one will notice if you aren’t there –...

13 Ways to Run a Kickass Webinar

When your marketing budget is microscopic, every product marketing tactic you run needs to be optimized, yet for some reason webinars are often executed on autopilot.  Don’t fall into the trap of running mediocre webinars.  Here are a few ideas to give your webinars a kick in the pants: 1/ Ask for questions ahead of time – You know who’s signed up to attend, you might as well ask them what they’d like to hear. 2/ Get a great speaker – Over and over again I see companies putting lousy speakers in their webinars because that person happens to be the in-house expert on the subject.  Delivery is really, really important.  Use the best presenter you’ve got and bring in some backup to help answer questions if you have to. 3/ Have a timely and provocative topic – The more you can tie your topic to things that are on people’s minds right now the better your attendance will be.  Don’t be afraid to pick challenging or provocative topics. 4/ Have a script, practice like crazy and do a test run – Unless your speaker is Anderson Cooper, don’t let him/her just get up there and wing it. (If your speaker is Anderson Cooper, please invite me to your webinar, I’d like to see that). 5/ Promote it through all of your channels – In addition to sending email to your lists, make sure you promote the webinar on your website, blog, Twitter, Facebook groups, newsletter, and any other customer-facing communications you’re running. 6/ Bribes work – Give-aways and contests work when it comes to getting folks to attend...

7 Rules for Perfect Press Releases

Nearly every startup I have worked with has been nervous about writing press releases.  Lack of experience is one reason but people also think there are a set of secret rules to writing one “properly.”  I’m also hearing startups say they believe press releases are irrelevant in an age of social media.  I disagree.   The majority of press releases really stink but they stink because they are written like we wrote them 15 years ago.  A modern press release can be a valuable marketing tool for startups and I believe anyone can create a great one.  Here’s how: 1.  Decide Who and Why Before What – Why are you writing the release?  Who do you want to reach?  What would the perfect response be? We used to write releases for journalists who then wrote articles about them.  Today releases go directly to news sites, bloggers and customers in addition to journalists.  The press release needs to stand on it’s own and tell a story.  Once you’ve decided who your audience is, define what you want them to do once they’ve finished the story.  Do you want them to write their own story, click for more information, download something, or make a purchase? 2.  Write A Great Headline – Most people never get past the headline.  If there is one part of the press release that you really need to nail, this is it.  Great headlines are short and grab people’s attention.  The headline should be easy to share – ideally it should be short enough to Tweet (I’d keep it under 60 characters if you can because a Tweet will also include at lease one ID and a...

Enterprise Software Pilots in a Social Age

I’ve been thinking about sales processes and specifically how they should change as the types of solutions we are selling into enterprises change.  For example, the traditional first step to an enterprise software deployment (and the near to last step in the sales process) would be to do a controlled customer pilot.  Sometimes these are free and sometimes they are paid for but almost always they involve rolling the product out to a small set of users and tracking a set of pre-defined success metrics.  If the pilot meets the goals, the next stage is to move the product into broad production use. Should enterprise software pilots change or stay the same as enterprise software makes use of more social or collaborative technologies?  Michael Idinopulos has a great post on the Social Text Blog that makes a very good argument that for Enterprise 2.0 applications, it makes sense to skip the pilot.  In that post he makes the point that the business tasks enabled by traditional enterprise software (transfer funds, purchase products, track inventory were his examples) do not vary with the number of users on the system.  He then makes the argument that Enterprise 2.0 applications are very different because they are more “interaction” based rather than “transaction” based.  He states: Interactions and transactions have completely different scale economics. When we use Enterprise 2.0, we’re not transacting with a system; we’re interacting with other people. An interaction is a connection between two or more nodes in a network. And as Metcalf’s Law famously states, the more people there are in that network, the more interactions each individual can...

Conferences are Dumb (and Wasteful)

I was at Interop/Web 2.0 for meetings this week. I also walked the expo floor talking to startups and attendees.  It struck me how broken the whole “conference” thing is. Vendors want leads but tradeshows are a notoriously poor source of qualified leads.  At every company I have worked at, when we actually tracked leads all the way through to revenue I’ve never seen any real return from trade shows. Attendees want to network and learn what’s new.  Talks can sometimes give some “what’s new” perspective but the speakers are generally folks who speak/write/blog enough that nobody needs to see them live to get their content (I was told by one well-known presenter that he had 16 people attend his talk).  Attendees can see what’s new at the expo of course but they will have to suffer a sales pitch few of them want in order to get it. Networking is going on around the show, in hotel bars and restaurants and at vendor-sponsored parties (now there’s a great place to qualify a lead!).  So, the attendees get to hang out and party and the vendors pay for that.  Sounds like a pretty good deal for attendees but the vendors sound like suckers. So you’re a startup looking for prospects.  Is buying a booth at one of these conferences worth it?  This is a case where it would probably be useful to apply the $100 bill test: Add up what you would spend on the show.  It probably looks like this – air travel for 2 people – $2000, hotel for 2 people for 3 nights – $1800, food,...
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