Different, Better – We’re Writing a Guide to Practical Positioning

Anyone that knows me knows that Positioning is one of my favourite marketing topics. For startups in particular, figuring out how to define a unique piece of the market that you can claim and dominate is really important. Today I’m announcing that Alistair Croll and I are working on a book – Different, Better – A Practical Guide to Superb Positioning in Noisy Markets. Many of you will know Alistair as the co-author of Lean Analytics. We’ve launched a new site and a blog where we will be posting articles, case studies and interviews. Sign up there to stay in the loop. Positioning is hard, necessary work. In the rush to build and launch products for hungry markets, however, it’s often overlooked. But organizations ignore it at their peril, because customers don’t buy what they don’t understand. If you can’t clearly communicate who you’re for, and why you’re better for them, you don’t have a position. In short, you need to be different, better. Good positioning lets you serve a target market better than competitors, earning their loyalty and erecting barriers to competition. A well-positioned company enjoys higher margins and lower sales costs. It knows what to build, for whom, and when to expand. Positioning is often misunderstood term. It’s not messaging, or a tagline. It’s not branding. And it’s not a lofty vision statement. Rather, it’s a clear understanding of what you are, what market you’re in, and who you’re selling to, combined with the thing that, in the eyes of that market, makes you better or different from your competitors. Hasn’t this already been written? Positioning is part of every first-year marketing...

My New Role as EIR at Communitech

In the past couple of years I’ve been trying to do my part to give back to the startup communities I’m part of. This blog has been part of that, I’m an active mentor for a couple of startup accelerators including the excellent FounderFuel in Montreal and InCubes here in Toronto, I give talks and probably do about a dozen calls or meetings a week with startups looking for an hour of advice and/or therapy from a senior marketer. As of this week I will also take on a part-time role as an Entrepreneur In Residence at Communitech. Communitech has so much going on right now it is almost difficult to describe it. It began in 1997 as a non-profit regional hub for the commercialization of innovative technologies and an a support organization for the other 1000 technology companies in that region. In 2010 the Communitech Hub opened its doors and today is 44,000 square feet housing over 120 companies mixing startups with innovative larger companies like Google and expansion-stage companies like Desire to Learn. Last year Communitech launched HYPERDRIVE, a 30M+, 24 month Accelerator program designed to take startups from seed to Series A. In addition, Communitech runs over 50 programs and events per year, has established North America’s largest peer network, and has coached over 1000 companies through its Venture Services Group. Communitech also has a group of EIR’s that work with Startups offering advice and mentoring and as of this week I will be one of them. My role and my goal is to spread around my marketing knowledge as broadly in the Communitech community as...

Startup Marketing Workshop

I’m an advisor to a startup in Toronto called HackerYou that provides hands-on project based learning for folks in the startup community. They asked me if I wanted to run a Startup Marketing workshop and I happily jumped at the opportunity. It’s happening in Toronto on Saturday and there are still spots available. The cost is basically free (OK, it’s $50 but we do have costs to cover and for 6 hours of crunchy marketing goodness it doesn’t get cheaper than that). Here’s what I’m planning on covering in the workshop: How to get started in building the basic structure of a marketing plan and why planning is important How to asses your who your best target customers are and what you need to know about them to effectively market to them How to develop a value proposition and messaging around your offering How to assess your customer’s buying process in order to optimize it How to choose a starting set of marketing tactics to build and fill your marketing funnel How to measure the results of your marketing activities so you can analyze and improve your programs I’m going to use a set of templates that we will work through together so come prepared to work on your plan for your business. This is going to be a highly interactive session so I also expect you to bring your thorniest marketing problems and we will set aside time for group discussion and working through specific examples.  I’m NOT planning on doing a deep dive on how to blog/do content marketing/market on Facebook/run advertising/do web events or any other...

Weekend Startup Marketing Reading April 20

I’ve been on vacation this week and spending more time on the beach than on the internet. That said I did come across a couple of neat posts this week. Enjoy! William Mougayar of engagio had a great post over on StartupNorth this week about his lessons learned over the past 3 years. I agree with a lot of what he has to say here about relationships, the danger of believing your own story if nobody else does and how helping people is important. I don’t agree with him that selling to enterprises is a dead end – but I do agree that it’s very, very different from selling to individuals. (full disclosure, I am an advisor to engagio) Mark MacLeod at startupCFO had a nead post called Vision can Come Later talking about startups that start as services businesses that later transition to product businesses and the resulting domain expertise that comes with that. His thinking is very much in line with mine on that topic – there is no substitution for hands-on market experience. The Content Marketing Institute has a summary of the results of the Brandpoint 2012 Digital Content Marketing Survey with some interesting data around social content, outsourcing and storytelling. Earlier this week I posted about what startup folks are looking for in a marketing hire. MarketingProfs has a related post this week called 7 Traits of an Ideal Marketer. I agree with all of this in particular the desire to have marketers that have had some sort of sales training and also the need for great writing skills. That’s it for this week. I’ll...
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...
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