Messaging Botox – A Quick Fix for Saggy Messaging

I’m back after a break for a couple of weeks to change jobs (more on that in a later post) visit my friends in New York and host a rather large group of folks including 4 kids under the age of 5 at my house of the holidays.  I now need a break from my break. Did you miss me? During the break I also got a chance to meet with a number of different startups that were interested in doing something about their messaging.  They all had similar problems.  When they had launched their product/services they had put a lot of time, effort and attention into primping their messaging to make it as attractive as possible.  But then time passed and that same messaging that was once so radiant started to droop.  By the time it becomes obvious that the messaging is getting a bit, shall we say, mature, the thought of investing the time and effort required to perform a messaging facelift was enough to scare these startups into doing nothing at all. But it doesn’t have to be that way!  What you need my friends is a quick shot of messaging botox. Unlike a full-blown messaging facelift which can take months a quick hit of messaging botox can be done in a couple of weeks.  Sure it won’t leave your messaging looking as spiffy as it did a couple of years ago, but it’s quick and painless and will make your messaging much more attractive.   Here’s how it works: Make sure you have a problem – Before you go under the needle it is important...

Networking for Marketers, Twitter and Ho Ho TO

Ah the holiday season.  The decorations!  The music!  The crazy, stressed-out sprint to the end of the quarter!!!  This time of the year always gets me pondering why some people are so amazingly execution-oriented and others, well, let’s just say if these folks were in charge Mussolini probably could have gotten away with a stern talking to. I talked in my last post about how I thought small tech companies should hire a product marketer instead of a marketing communication person as their first marketing hire.  The idea was that if you have only a few headcount to work with, why wouldn’t you spend it on someone that could do analyst briefings, help set product strategy, create sales materials, do messaging and positioning, etc. Now that said, I’m not saying that Product Marketers know how to do everything.  They sure as heck don’t.  I personally am graphically challenged (my friend Georgina, who has a gift for non-verbal communication once described the look of this blog by sticking her tongue out and pointing a finger in her mouth).  Some can write well, others can’t.  Some have great relationships with analysts but lack press contacts.  You get the idea. This is why your network is so important.  Your CEO would laugh you out of her office if you asked to hire a full time graphics person but you might have budget for a few weeks worth of contract work.  If you have a great network you might be able to barter some of your time in exchange for some of theirs.  Even if you can’t get folks to do the actual...

Product Marketing vs. Marketing Communications (and MarComm Must Die)

Traditionally really small software companies have Development, Marketing, Sales and that’s about it (Ok I am generalizing here – there might be a lawyer, a finance person or two, possibly an IT person, work with me on this one, ok?). Once the organization has landed a customer or two, and have started thinking beyond release 1 and basic survival, they typically start thinking about forming a real product management group.  The idea is that these folks will focus on the product roadmap and future releases, competitive analysis and they will also do things like product demos, and a lot of more technical sales support. Meanwhile there is the “Marketing” department which is really pure marketing communications and is focused on things like building the website, maybe creating a brochure, and writing press releases.  They might book an analyst meeting or set up press interviews but they would rarely be the spokesperson. This set up is broken for lots of reasons but the main one is that there is this idea that marketing doesn’t need to understand the product.  In some cases, I have heard folks argue that it is better if marketing doesn’t get “bogged down” in product details and stays “creative”. If I look at the Pragmatic Marketing Framework (you product management types will know this thing by heart.) where they break down the responsibilities of product managers/marketers and recommend something called “The Product Management Triad” to cover the larger product management and product marketing functions. Here is what that looks like (here’s me crossing my fingers it is ok for me to reproduce this here – let...

Winning is Fun – Why Companies Should Give Awards

Participating isn’t fun.  You know what’s fun?  Winning is fun.  Telling your friends you won is fun.  Being recognized for doing something very well is fun but you know, beating other people who are clearly better than you is really fun too. This time of year there are a lot of awards being handed out.  Sure, people might make fun of them, particularly the folks that don’t have a chance of winning but seriously, I don’t believe anyone dislikes getting an award. I don’t understand why more people aren’t giving out awards.  In particular, I don’t understand why more companies don’t give awards to their customers and partners.  It’s such a cheap, simple, easy way to make your customers happy – why wouldn’t you do it? Top 5 Reasons Your Company Should Give Out Some Awards to Customers and Partners: Winning Makes Winners Happy – Seriously, you do all sorts of other things because you want to keep your customers or partners happy, don’t you?  Why not recognize your best ones with a trophy?  You’ve probably spent hundreds of dollars taking them out to dinner but they can’t display dinner on their wall and trust me, everyone wants a wall full of trophies. Winners Talk About It – I was chatting with a CEO of a mid-sized company last week and he showed me an award that they had won from Microsoft.  They got to meet some senior folks from Microsoft, they put out a press release, they talked about it on their web site.  They didn’t know exactly why they had won but as he said, “Getting an...

Innovating Through Recession

Paul Dunay at Buzz Marketing writes a post here pointing to a research paper by Andrew Razeghi from the Kellogg School of Management on Innovating Through Recession. Andrew makes 7 great points in this paper but I love the first one where he states: Listen to the market. It’s quieter when it’s less crowded. Unmet needs abound. And here is the quote I love the most in that section: During difficult economic times, market needs are more exposed than they are during an economic boom when the market is saturated with everyone’s “great idea” – many of which are chasing needs that have already been satisfied. When markets turn south, it’s easier to discern what the market needs precisely because the market is thinking more about what it needs and why it needs it. We are simply more thoughtful, more aware, and more focused during economic downturns. I think it is hard for companies to stay focused on customers when they have their own economic problems to deal with.  During tough economic times, a focus on innovation is more important than ever.  Innovation thrives on constraints.  What is a recession other than a time of great constraint? Customers are trying to do more with less.  Enterprises are looking for ways to decrease their cost of sales, shorten their sales cycles, reduce costs associated with business travel, decrease their need for physical real estate, improve their time to market, reach more customers while spending less – the list goes on and on.  What a perfect time for great product managers and marketers to take a step back and listen to...

Your Company Can Ignore Social Media but You Can’t

I am not a Social Media Marketer.  I am a Product Marketer.  I’ve worked on products where we’ve done a lot of social media related things and others where we have done almost nothing.  In my mind, that is perfectly OK.  As a marketer however, I think it is essential that I’m participating in social media, even for no other reason than just to understand what the heck is going on. There are lots of growing, successful businesses that ignore social media for the most part.  I can name a dozen startups that don’t blog, don’t Twitter, don’t have a facebook page, etc. and are doing just fine.  In almost every example, these folks are selling fairly big-ticket software to large businesses where the key decision makers aren’t big social media consumers.  Yes, these decision makers are likely influenced by folks that DO consume a lot of social media but for these startups, influencing this second tier is a much lower priority than building better product demos, running a better advisory council or doing a better job of managing their relationships with industry analysts.  Could they see benefits from participating more in social media?  Absolutely!  But marketing is a game of making the most with scarce resources and sometimes it isn’t at the top of the list. My point here (you were wondering if there was ever going to be one, I know) is that there is a difference between making a decision as a company or related to a particular product, to prioritize social media participation lower on the list and not putting social media on the list...
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