The Risks of Following a Blue Ocean Strategy

Blue Ocean Strategy

Adopting a Blue Ocean Strategy, pivoting to a brand-new markets without competitors, is, for many, the holy grail of corporate strategy. Who does not want to make competitors irrelevant and to in grow a vast, blue, new market uncontested? It it smooth sailing or is it too good to be true?

Pursuing a Blue Ocean strategy can be a great choice for many companies, but it is not without risks or challenges. It’s also not easy. Otherwise, every company would pursue a blue ocean. Let’s start with the definition of blue ocean and then let’s explore the challenges and risks in pursuing such a strategy. Continue reading “The Risks of Following a Blue Ocean Strategy”

Writing well is an essential business skill

Knowledge is useless unless you know how to communicate it – in writing.

We live in a world where most communication happens in 140 character messages, 7 second videos and short text messages. It’s easy to forget how important is good writing as an essential and personal skill.

I have been inspired by David Ogilvy, the father of advertising. His story is really interesting. His teachings fundamental. His books are some of the first every marketer should read. In the Unpublished David Ogilvy, I found great advice by the master.

The better you write, the higher you will go in Ogilvy and Mather. People who think well, write well.Continue reading “Writing well is an essential business skill”

What is Product Marketing and why is it so Important?

What is Product Marketing?

What is Product Marketing? Why is such an important function so misunderstood?

One of the biggest challenges for marketers today is that we are too often focused on the most tactical aspects of the job: promotion, contacts, reach, social marketing, etc.

We forget that the most important part of marketing, the source of value, is our understanding of customers, what customers want, and how to align your products to their needs and how they buy. Most marketing teams don’t have anyone dedicated to this function.

This is especially important in B2B because buying processes are more complex, there are usually more buyers involved, and products tend to be more technically complex.  To solve this problem, a relatively new function has been created, which is often referred to as product, audience or solutions marketing.
Continue reading “What is Product Marketing and why is it so Important?”

RadioShack Strategy: A Lesson for Business Leaders

Strategy example: Radio Shack

RadioShack lost its focus and pursued a path where they had no significant advantage in a highly competitive field. In other words, RadioShack’s strategy was the wrong one.

The company fell into the “Large Market” trap. The same trap many entrepreneurs fall into. We see it on Shark Tank, I see it in strategy discussions in large companies. What is this trap and how to escape it? read on…

Continue reading “RadioShack Strategy: A Lesson for Business Leaders”

Are We Doing Content Marketing Right?

Are we failing at content marketing?

Without question, Content Marketing is one of the hottest topics today. But we are in the early days. Are we doing content marketing right?

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to participate in a Content Marketing panel at the Texas Marketing Summit in Houston. The other panelists provided with great insight. I also came to the conclusion that our understanding of Content Marketing is in its infancy, much like social media was 8 years ago.

It seems we still have much to learn and to improve as marketers. Sometimes it feels we are failing. Are you failing too?

Let’s Start With the Basics.

To understand the right way to do content marketing, let’s be clear about what it is not:

  • Content marketing is not new – it’s been around for a long time
  • Content marketing is not a strategy – it should support your existing strategy
  • Content marketing is not a program – but it should influence your marketing programs
  • Content marketing should not be a department in marketing – all of marketing should embrace it
  • Content marketing is not a tool or a set of tools – tools support it and enable it
  • Content marketing is not publishing blog posts, slideshare decks, and Instagram posts

If your view of content marketing falls under one of the bullets above, you are limiting your success. Content marketing is far more powerful than that. Continue reading “Are We Doing Content Marketing Right?”

10 Business Lessons from Carlos Slim

What are the secrets to Carlos Slim Success

As I write this, Carlos Slim Helú is the second richest man in the World, according to Forbes, following Bill Gates by a ‘mere’ $2 billion dollars. Carlos was number one in 2010 and 2011. Everyone knows how Bill made his fortune, as the founder of Microsoft, and much has been written about him. But what drives Carlos Slim’s success, and what are the strategies that make his companies so successful seem to be more of a mystery.

When companies struggle, they usually blame increased competition and unfavorable economic conditions. Carlos Slim seems to thrive on downturns and recessions.

Slim’s business portfolio, under the holding company Grupo Carso, is much more diversified: it includes real estate, retail, telecom, mining, financial services, tobacco, aluminum, tires, copper, insurance, restaurants, oil and gas, paper, hotels, and more.

People in Mexico say you can’t live a day of your life without somehow giving money to Slim’s empire. He has also made significant investments in the US. In 1997, Carlos purchased 3% of Apple for $17 a share. He has made significant investments in Saks and the New York Times and in business that have gone south like Prodigy and CompUSA.

Carlos is 75 but he has been very aware of technology advances and has positioned his companies to take most advantage of them: “Technology is going to transform people’s lives and society everywhere in the world. My main task is to understand what’s going on and try to see where we can fit in.Continue reading “10 Business Lessons from Carlos Slim”

The Top 5 Challenges Marketers Face Today

Marketing challenges

There are 5 key marketing challenges every marketer is facing today and must be ready to solve to be effective.

Marketing seems like an easy profession for most people. But marketers know there are many challenges marketers face. Marketing is getting broader but also harder every day. Every function within marketing has its own challenges, but these impact every marketer:


Marketing Challenge 1: How to break through the noise.

Ads are everywhere. Attention spans are shorter. Everyone is ignoring banner ads. There is too much noise on social media. Everyone is selling ‘solutions’ promising lower costs, more time. Everything is on sale.

All this makes it harder and harder for marketers to deliver their message to prospective buyers. How do I get my message across?
Continue reading “The Top 5 Challenges Marketers Face Today”

Product, Audience, and Solutions Marketing – Which One is Right for You?

What is Solutions Marketing Audience Marketing

Solutions Marketing is a buzzword used by marketers quite often. A buzzword not because it is not an important or a valuable concept, but because it has been both misunderstood and overused, like Big Data and Social Business.

Years ago I heard VP of Marketing at a large company explain solution marketing to his team as bundling two or more products. This is one of the worst, but also one of the most common definitions. When the concept is not understood it can result in very ineffective communications.

A very large technology company spent a significant amount of money to have a significant presence at a tradeshow where it introduced itself as offering “Enterprise Systems and Solutions”. Imagine an auto dealer introducing itself as a “personal transportation solutions company” instead of the much simpler and easier to understand “car dealer”.

What is Solutions Marketing?

Here is my definition: A solution is a complete offering what will solve a customer problem.

  • ‘A complete offering’ means it must include all the products, services, parts, training and any other element a customer needs to solve a problem. In many cases it will require including partner offerings.
  • ‘Will solve’ implies the company is standing behind the complete solution. It has tested it, and provides customer service and a guarantee for the solution as a whole and not only for its individual components.
  • ‘Customer’ in ‘customer problem’ implies solutions need to be defined by customers, independently of how the company is organized, how the products are defined or what are the company priorities.
  • Customer Problem‘ requires us to understand why customers buy our products, what is the intent, what are the complete requirements and the alternatives being considered.

Continue reading “Product, Audience, and Solutions Marketing – Which One is Right for You?”

Flip the Org Chart – 5 Qualities of Great Managers

What makes a great manager

In most organizations, high performance individuals are promoted to managers, ignoring the fact that a great individual contributor is not necessarily going to become a great manager. But if even if they could become one, it is rare for newly promoted managers to get people management training. In this post I share my management philosophy, which I have been perfecting over the last few decades.

Manager or Leader? It is not the same.

The terms management and leadership are incorrectly used interchangeably. In essence they are very different concepts that require different skills. In fact, few people excel at both.

Leadership is about having a vision and the ability to rally people and resources to create a better future. Management is about sincerely caring for a team of people, empowering them, and making them productive and successful.

In my experience, the main reason why people want to become a leaders or a manager is a desire for career advancement and a higher salary. This is unfortunate, not because there is anything wrong with being career oriented, but because they are not being driven by the right motivation. Promotions and salary increases should not be goals, but consequences of effective execution, leadership, and a good people management track record. Continue reading “Flip the Org Chart – 5 Qualities of Great Managers”

8 Cardinal Principles to use Personas Effectively in Marketing

Best practices to make personas an effective tool to guide marketing activities by increasing customer understanding and empathy

A version of this post was first published on the OpenView labs blog.

The recent focus on content marketing has brought increased attention to personas. They can be a very effective tool for guiding most marketing activities by increasing customer understanding and empathy. But, like with every tool, you must get the fundamentals right to get maximum value out of it.

Despite all the attention on personas, many marketers find the concept somewhat ambiguous or confuse it with segmentation. making effective use of personas in practice has been often ineffective. In this post you will learn 8 ideas or best practices, to help you make personas a key tool that increases the effectiveness of all your marketing activities.

The concept of personas is not new. It was developed in 1998 by Alan Cooper, who also invented Visual Basic, as a tool to help with software interaction design. In 2002, Tony Zambito developed the concept of buyer personas to focus on buyer behavior and to guide customer strategies. Continue reading “8 Cardinal Principles to use Personas Effectively in Marketing”