Marketing is Dead (long live product marketing)

I gave the keynote presentation at ProductCamp Amsterdam over the weekend.  It was an amazing trip.  The intelligent and charming organizers (shown in the photo left to right Xavier, Vladimir, Mark,  Jelmer, and Kevin) not only shuttled me around and fed me good food but they also put me up in by far the largest hotel room I have ever stayed in (below is a shot I took from the loft. Yes, it had a loft).  The venue (kindly donated by the folks at Backbase) was fantastic and the crowd was full of smart startup folks that asked really good questions. The talk I gave was one that I’ve wanted to do for a while.  It was on the changing nature of marketing in a world where buyers are much more in control and traditional marketing tactics are not only ineffective, but down right annoying. The talk is called Marketing is Dead (long live Product Marketing). I want to thank the organizers again for inviting me and for being such good hosts.  And if there are any other European conference organizers out there reading this I’d like to say that in addition to Amsterdam I like London, Paris and Berlin very much…. Here are the slides: Marketing is Dead (long live product marketing) View more presentations from April Dunford. If you enjoyed that, you should subscribe!  You can sign up for email updates, subscribe via RSS or follow me...

Brand Marketing has Left the Building

Last week I attended Marketo’s User Conference and I had a great time being elbow-to-elbow with 600 other hard-core marketing folk (if you don’t know them, Marketo provides a marketing automation tool that helps marketers automate lead generation campaigns).  One of the themes of the conference was around the transformation of marketing from a cost center to a revenue driver.  Phil Fernandez, Marketo’s CEO had this to say in a recent blog post: In today’s “buyer’s in control” market, traditional marketing and sales approaches have become grossly inefficient and outdated. By relying on antiquated strategies and ineffective methods, organizations find that 80% of leads and 50% of the sales team time is wasted. This misalignment adds up quickly and creates significant revenue leaking points across the organization. The solution to this “revenue leakage” requires a shift in thinking about marketing’s fundamental role in the business.  This shift moves marketing further and further away from doing more traditional “branding” style activities, toward campaigns and tactics where there is a direct line of sight to revenue. Why is this shift from brand marketing to revenue marketing happening in the first place? Digital makes measurement possible – Digital marketing has made it possible for marketers to measure more of what we do. 10 years ago when I was spending my money on print advertising, traditional PR and events it was hard to track the amount of revenue I influenced.  Because it was hard to measure we often allocated marketing spend across tactics based on anecdotal information.  We took a guess at what worked based on how many people we got in front...

Marketing Metrics 101 for B2B Startups

I think people are finally coming around to the idea that good marketing requires good measurement.  I’ve seen online B2C startups use Dave McClure’s Startup Metrics for Pirates as a starting point for measuring what marketing is doing.  For those of us selling to businesses however, particularly where there is a sales team involved and a pipeline to track, the world is quite different and Dave’s metrics don’t cover everything you need to track. Here’s how I’d construct a basic set of marketing metrics for a B2B startup (and a single slide that I would use to present them): Think about the goals before you start The main goal of tracking marketing metrics is to get a measure of ROI or program effectiveness so you can make sure you are spending more and more on things that drive revenue and less and less on things that don’t. A good set of metrics will allow me to predict that if I spend $1 on a certain marketing tactic, I’m likely to get $X of revenue in Y days. A good set of metrics will also give you a feel for inside and outside sales effectiveness and overall sales pipeline velocity as well. Rocket watcher b2b marketing metrics View more presentations from April Dunford. 1. Pipeline Measurements # of Targets– sometimes referred to as “suspects” this is anyone in the universe who is on the receiving end of your marketing. Sometimes it is helpful to track the number of companies in your universe of targets in addition to the number of individuals, especially when you are targeting a niche and want...

Discovering What Customers Really Want

I’ve been fielding a lot of questions from startups about how you figure out what customers really want vs. the “nice to have” stuff.  This process of “Customer Discovery” as Steve Blank calls it is something that a lot of founders I’ve spoken with don’t have a lot of experience with.  I had an email exchange recently with Tim Johnson talking about my favorite question: “So What?” I like to have marketers use it on themselves but Tim related an example of how he uses it in customer engagements.  It was a great example and I asked him to write it up in the post below.  Although his examples are around trying to close deals, I think they apply equally well to an early stage startup that is trying to get at the root of what’s really important in a solution vs. the nice to have stuff.  What I also like about this story is how it illustrates how customers may talk about “brand” characteristics as being important (we like company X because they are “fun”) when what they really mean is something much more tangible (company X’s products work with what I’ve already invested in). Read on… If you want to cut to the chase or destroy all the hubris around a conversation with a customer, the absolutely most effective question you can ask is, “So what?” A softer version is “Why is that important?” The customer will either tell you why it’s a key decision criteria or they will admit that it just sounded nice to have or they didn’t need it in the first place. The...

Avoiding the Number 1 Startup Marketing Mistake

The past 2 days I’ve answered a bunch of marketing questions from entrepreneurs on Sprouter‘s new Answers forum for startups (more on that later).  There were a few themes that emerged but one really came into focus when I got this question: What is the number 1 startup marketing mistake? My answer?  They try to market to everyone. I understand how startups get there.  There is a sort of straightforward logic that says that the more people that are aware of your product, the more will check it out and ultimately pay you for it.  This would work if your product was suitable for everyone (it isn’t) and you had a marketing budget big enough to reach everybody (you don’t).  The trick to effective marketing is focus your efforts on the segments that are the best fit for your product.  Those segments have the strongest need for your product and the best understanding of the value you offer.  By marketing to everyone, you run the risk that the folks that are the most likely to buy from you either never hear about you or when they do, can’t recognize the great fit your product is for them because it appears to be built for “everyone”. Here are 4 reasons you should focus your marketing efforts on specific segments: Targeted Messaging and Offers are Always More Effective – If you are selling t-shirts for fashion conscious 20-something’s you will probably emphasize the styling.  If your business is selling t-shirts to kids sports teams you might emphasize the durability of the shirt or the low cost.  If you are selling t-shirts...

Value not Features – 2 Stories from the Trenches

Product Marketing and Product Management are disciplines where the theory is easily understood but practical execution is really hard.  I asked Tim Johnson, (who frequently leaves smart comments on this blog) to share a couple of his “from the trenches” stories.  What I love about both of these is they illustrate perfectly how shifting the focus from “product features” to “value to the customer” can make a huge difference.   Enjoy! If you are like me, you hate getting into price wars with your competitors – or letting your sales people get into them.  When you have a similar  feature/function set, it’s hard not to fall into the trap.  The best way to avoid ‘buying the business’ is to keep the conversation focused on what is REALLY driving the buyer: the pain they are experiencing, how that is disrupting their business and how it impacts them personally. You will have a different, more significant conversation with your buyer that gives you an advantage and will help preserve your profitability. Know your buyer’s metrics and you will know what you have to say to them. I know this is Buyer Persona 101 stuff for a lot of you but I will illustrate with a couple of stories – and I love telling stories! Story 1 – Focus on Value to Stop Going over the Discounting Cliff Back in 2002, I was a solution architect for one of the big systems management companies.  The SA group was a tiger team that was called in to help close and architect significant deals.  I was the only non-techy on the team because I...
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