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.

Solutions Marketing is a buzzword used by marketers quite often. A buzzword not because it is not an important or a valu...

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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.

In most organizations, high performance individuals are promoted to managers, ignoring the fact that a great individual...

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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.

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

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The 4 Super Powers of Today’s Marketing Leaders

A couple weeks back I contributed to a Forbes CMO network in an article about the traits of successful marketing leaders. It’s an important topic, so I decided to expand on it here.

The marketing function is becoming more complex, more strategic and more interesting. More complex because today marketers need to take advantage of more tools and technologies available to us: from marketing automation to big data to social media.

More strategic because companies are recognizing the deep relationship between marketing and business strategy and CEOs have a better understanding of the value of marketing and its potential as a source of competitive advantage. More interesting because all these tools and channels are opening many new possibilities as areas like psychology intersect with marketing creating behavioral economics – an area that is both fascinating and fundamental to every marketer.

In this broader context of marketing, how do we marketing leaders need to grow? What are the most important traits we need to develop? There are four at the top of the list:

 

1. Revenue ownership and accountability.

Yes, metrics are important, but modern marketers can no longer claim success measuring their contribution to the business based on ambiguous metrics like followers, brand value, impressions, or clicks. We need to show how marketing directly impacts the business, we need to connect marketing activities result in growth. And we need to make sure every member of the marketing team is focused on business value, and not only metrics, every single day.

A couple weeks back I contributed to a Forbes CMO network in an article about the traits of successful marketing leaders...

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Why Minimum Wage Increases are Bad for American Workers

Minimum Wages bad for working people

The Minimum Wage Increase Shows Our Congress Does Not Understand Fundamental Economics

21 states raised the minimum wage on January 1st. Many are celebrating this a civil rights victory and a great step towards fixing inequality. They are wrong; it is a sad day for US workers.

The increase has the right intention: everyone would like to see hard working people make more money. I do not know how families get by on minimum wage and I surely hope every hard working American had more means to cover their basic needs, education and to enjoy life.

The problem is that this is not how a capitalist economy works. Economic prosperity does not come as a result of legislation. In a market economy, artificial adjustments can harm the economy and result counter-productive.

The Minimum Wage Increase Shows Our Congress Does Not Understand Fundamental Economics 21 states raised the minimum wage...

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9 Marketing Un-Predictions for 2015

marketing predictions for 2015

By now we have all read a handful of posts on marketing predictions for the New Year. While some predictions reflect trends and areas where marketers definitely need to look into, some are potentially more distracting than useful.

The marketing job never ends: there is always something else we could be doing to grow the business. Marketing is getting more and more complex. These two factors drive, today more than ever, the importance of focus.

The essence of focus are the things you will not do. Focus is about understanding the distractions, the buzzwords, the nice-to-haves and even the good opportunities that we must pass on to allow us to work on those activities that will have the best results.

This is why I wanted to share my Marketing Un-Predictions for the year:

  1. Mobile first is wrong. I am not saying to ignore mobile. I am suggesting we should kill mobile projects in lieu of thinking cross-device always. Today, there is no “mobile”: the line between smartphones, tablets and portable computers is blurred. Marketers must think cross-device (responsive design, device-neutral, cross-browser) from the beginning for all important channels: Websites to marketing campaigns should be designed for mobile and tablet and desktop and everything in-between.

By now we have all read a handful of posts on marketing predictions for the New Year. While some predictions reflect tre...

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The Mirage of Data

The Mirage of Data

Big Data and data-driven marketing are two of the most prominent business buzzwords.

New technologies are giving businesses access to larger amounts of data and tools that help us analyze data faster, in larger volumes than ever before. It feels empowering in our quest for the answers. We want data to illuminate the way for us.

Data enables us to make the right decisions and to bulletproof our plans – Or does it?

“It is possible to be drowning in data and still none the wiser” – Paul Laughlin

A couple years ago, one of the World’s most innovative companies was about to launch a massive project. They invested in a research project as large as they come, hiring three of the top consulting companies at the time, and spending 8 figures to interview 200,000 people in 54 cities and 22,000 individuals at 3000 corporations. All this research and data should have guided the project and ensured success, right?

Big Data and data-driven marketing are two of the most prominent business buzzwords. New technologies are giving busines...

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The Best Marketing & Strategy Books

Best Marketing Strategy Books

These are the Top Marketing & Strategy Books of all time.

My favorites, the ones that shaped my thinking and taught me the most. A few leadership and management books thrown in as an extra. These are the books I would recommend to someone who wants to become an awesome marketer, strategist or leader – students, product marketers and CEOs.

I would love to hear what books you think I should add to the list, please add your suggestions in the comments.

I love reading. In addition to Kindle, I have listened to probably a hundred books on  Audible.com. I stopped listening to music on my commute, instead I have had the opportunity to learn a lot from dozens of authors. I really recommend it, try Audible here, you get two books free.

These are the Top Marketing & Strategy Books of all time. My favorites, the ones that shaped my thinking and taught...

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7 Fundamentals to Build a Content Marketing Competency

7 Fundamentals of Content Marketing

This post appeared first as a contribution to Kapost’s Marketter blog – http://marketeer.kapost.com/content-marketing-competency/  

For most marketers, content marketing is a priority. If you are in this camp, perhaps you have been thinking about how to build a content marketing machine.

It is not easy. Most marketing teams fail at it. Either because they cannot produce the content they need or because the content they create is not effective. You can only build effective content repeatedly and consistently if you build a competency.

That’s the topic of this presentation, which was presented at the Austin Digital Marketing Summit last week. In it, I make 7 key points that might help you build a content marketing competency:

This post appeared first as a contribution to Kapost's Marketter blog - http://marketeer.kapost.com/content-marketing-co...

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Rishi Dave Interview: a Natively Digital Marketer

Today’s interview is with Rishi Dave, CMO at Dun & Bradstreet and former Executive Director of Digital Marketing at Dell. Rishi was named a Top Digital Marketer twice (2013 & 2012) by BtoB Magazine. I had the opportunity to meet Rishi as a co-panelist at the Brand Innovator’s Forum in Austin.  Let’s get started.

 

1.. What company is an example of good marketing today? Who do you admire?

Hubspot has done a great job of scaling the content-led inbound model and proving its economics. They practice what they preach and use what they sell.

 

2. What is your marketing superpower, the most important skill that makes you a great marketer?

I am natively digital and not encumbered by the old style of marketing.

Today's interview is with Rishi Dave, CMO at Dun & Bradstreet and former Executive Director of Digital Marketing at...

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