Why You Can’t Market like Apple (or Why Marketing is Hard)

Why You Can’t Market like Apple (or Why Marketing is Hard)

The reason marketing is equally interesting and frustrating is because you are never exactly sure what will work until you try it (this is particularly true in startup marketing). Contrary to the belief of armchair marketing critics, we can’t simply copy what marketers at Apple or Facebook or Groupon are doing and expect it to work. Heck, we can’t even always repeat OUR OWN successful tactics and be guaranteed good results. This concept frustrates the hell out of the engineers that I’ve worked with in particular. They want there to be a formula or a textbook that simply tells us what to do and how to do it. Hey, I’m an engineer myself so I understand the desire for a formula but the reason it doesn’t exist is because there are too many variables that impact what works and what doesn’t and many of those are constantly shifting. Some examples: Markets – Mature vs. new, expanding vs. contracting or consolidating, geographically constrained vs. global, heavily regulated or government subsidized vs. open, big vs. small – markets come in all types. What works when you are selling to banks probably makes absolutely no sense when selling to grandparents, or families or law offices or insurance companies. Except occasionally it does. Offerings – Marketing tactics for high value items are different for low value deals – smaller deals close faster, are often non-competitive, often only involve a single purchaser, etc. The economics of customer acquisition are obviously different (you can spend $100K closing a multi-million dollar deal. selling a $5 a month subscription, not so much).  The type of product matters too, even...
How B2B Product Marketing is Different from B2C

How B2B Product Marketing is Different from B2C

I read a great post from Gopal Shenoy this week about how B2C product marketing is different from B2B. I’m a B2B marketer so that got me thinking about writing a post in the reverse. Here’s how I think B2B product marketing is different from B2C 1/ Channels are important (sometimes critical) – Most B2C companies sell direct. B2B is often through channels or a mix of channel and direct. The channels can be single or multi-tier and you will need to figure out how to price for these channels, enable and train them, incent them and ensure that there is as little channel conflict as possible. This is not easy. 2/ Long term customer relationships – Many B2C companies talk about “building customer relationships” like it’s a new thing and that’s because for many B2C companies it is (with the exception of SaaS-based B2C services where churn is a major metric). On the B2B side, there are fewer customers and often you will live or die by your long-term relationship with that customer. That means you will often have dedicated teams assigned to larger accounts. 3/ Tiered customer service – Because those long-term relationships are important, customer services becomes absolutely critical. Of course service is important on the B2C side as well, you don’t often see differences in the way you serve customers. On the B2B side there is quite often a massive difference in the way you service a very large account vs. a very small one. 4/ Purchasing teams – For larger-ticket items there will be a number of people and groups involved in a purchase...
Should Your Messaging Use Your Competitor’s Terminology?

Should Your Messaging Use Your Competitor’s Terminology?

One of the most difficult parts of marketing messaging is describing what your product is in a way that’s both easy to understand and communicates the unique value your product delivers. I’ve seen startup marketers really struggle with how to describe their market and specifically, whether or not they should use the same terms as their competitors. For example, suppose your solution delivers many of the same features of a marketing automation solution but also includes features not typically seen in those types of tools – say built-in support for running campaign on various social media platforms or some types of pipeline analytics more typically seen in  CRM systems.  Should you describe your market as “Marketing Automation”, “CRM” or “Social Media Marketing” or should you avoid those terms and come up with some new terms to define the (clearly different) think that you do? The answer is that it really depends on your company, your market, who else is in the space and the dynamics of what’s happening in the market. Here some things to consider on both sides: Why using the same terms as your competitors might be a bad idea: Whoever “owns” those terms could own your basic positioning – Sometimes terms are heavily associated with a particular company, or have been created by industry analysts. The folks that created the terms may also have the power to shift the meaning and your basic positioning as a result. For example, if Gartner Group uses Marketing Automation as a term but decides tomorrow that it’s merely a sub-category under Customer Relationship Management – will you still be happy...

Inbound Marketing and Product Marketing

It’s not very often that I get to talk to a group of purely product management and product marketing folks so when he Rymatech folks asked if I wanted to do a webinar with them I was quick to say yes (the webinar is happening Wed. Feb. 9th at 12 EST and you can register here). The topic I am going to focus on for that webinar is the changing nature of marketing in general and what that means for product marketing professionals in particular (a topic I have been thinking about since I spoke at ProductCamp Amsterdam).   Here’s a brief overview of the topic: 1/ Traditional Marketing Sucks – People hate traditional marketing. It’s interrupt-driven, untargeted and pushy.  People are pretty good at ignoring things that bother them so that style of marketing has become less and less effective. 2/ Customers Want to Control the Sales Process – Prospects don’t want to be “sold.” Customers are interested in researching products themselves and tend to resist interacting with a vendor to as late in the buying process as possible. 3/ The Only Way to Enage With Customers Early in the Buying Cycle is to Provide Useful Stuff – So if your prospects don’t want to be sold to – how should you interact with them?  By helping them rather than selling to them.  Inbound marketing (in my definition anyway) consists of providing things that help prospects.  That might be best practices or tips.  It could mean helping them understand specific technologies in the market and when they should be used.  It might mean educating them on different approaches to solving a...
Startup Marketing Vs. Art

Startup Marketing Vs. Art

On the weekend I watched Art and Copy, a 2009 documentary featuring interviews with influential folk in the advertising business past and present. One of the themes was that great creative advertising people saw their work as “art” in the sense that it was about much more than selling product.  In their minds it was “a performance” and “culture”. Good advertising, they reasoned, could make a car company more than a car company. Good advertising, according these folks, aspires to drive culture (or at least teach us something about it). If your Ads aren’t doing that, according to these folks, your marketing is crap. The examples used in the movie were campaigns for big companies (Apple’s ads, Nike’s “Just do it”, the “Got Milk?” campaign etc.). It got me thinking – are startup marketers missing something by not striving to connect with prospects on a more “cultural” level? How many startup campaigns aspire to do more than drive clicks or registrations? Should we? If we don’t, does our marketing stink? In the Land of Art, Revenue is Optional, For Startups, it’s Oxygen. In the movie there was very little talk about the results of the campaigns in terms of sales. “Success” was defined by how much people liked or remembered the ads themselves. In the movie the advertising folk admitted that selling was important yet nobody offered an example of how their ads actually drove revenue.  For example, the movie hailed the “Got Milk?” campaign as a great success yet the California Milk Processor’s Board describes the results of the campaign in terms of awareness of the ads only...
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