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”
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 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”
It is not easy to find a truly good leadership book. Two of the best I have found bring lessons from the military: Lead like Ike, and Turn the Ship Around. Maybe it is because they deal with life-and-death situations, or maybe because there are clear missions with no ambiguity over who won and who lost.
Navy SEALs are some of the highest-performing military teams in the World. Jocko Willink and Leif Babin are retired Navy Seal officers who fought in Iraq. This posts covers 10 leadership lessons from their book, Extreme Ownership. The core idea is that leadership is based in clarity, trust and accountability.
I listened to the audio book version. In the last five years I have gone to maybe 200 audio books, most of which I probably would not have read otherwise. I don’t listen to music in my car anymore. It is one of the best investments I have made. I recommend you give Audible a try.
Here are the 10 Leadership Lessons from Navy SEALs Jocko Willink and Leif Babin:
1. Leaders Embrace Extreme Ownership
Extreme Ownership is the most important concept of this book, and it threads across the other lessons. It is a concept I have written about before in a post titled There are no Excuses, the Ball is in Your Court. And is one that we should apply to the business world. You can’t blame your products, your boss, your budget, the economy, competitors or your team for your success or failure. You are accountable for your success in your job, your career and your life.
A true leader owns the outcome. When things go wrong, you have to take ownership. No excuses.
“On any team, in any organization, all responsibility for success and failure rests with the leader. The leader must own everything in his or her world. There is no one else to blame. The leader must acknowledge mistakes and admit failures, take ownership of them, and develop a plan to win.” Continue reading “Extreme Ownership – Leadership Lessons from the SEAL Team”
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”
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. Continue reading “The Best Marketing & Strategy Books”
Many products, especially technology products, are marketed as revolutionary or game-changing. Most people know better than to trust marketers at face value on claims like these.
Disruptions to the market could be defined as those who alter the balance of an industry between supplies, consumers, existing and new competitors and alternatives – Porter’s five forces. These changes alter the industry’s profitability, growth rates and expectations for future growth.
Examples of true disruptions include when streaming TV and movies over the Internet (Netflix, Hulu) became a viable alternative to in-store rentals (RIP, Blockbuster) or when computer components enabled smaller companies (Dell) to compete at lower costs than industry leaders (IBM, HP).
Market leadership is not powerful enough to stop market disruptions
In the majority of cases, the new technology was available to industry leaders who chose to disregard it as a fad or inferior to their existing technology. There were clear signals of the market disruption, which leaders chose to ignore.
Sony ignored the digital music revolution, allowing Apple to dominate the market with the iPod and iTunes. Sony had everything to win: the company invented portable music with the Walkman a few decades ago. Sony owns movie and music publishers and distributors. Sony produces consumer electronics, computers, and mobile phones. The company’s mission is to innovate around content to deliver new experiences. And yet, Sony chose not to participate in the disruption. Continue reading “Embracing Market Disruptions – the End of TV as We Know It”
The latest buzz in startups is Growth Hacking. It sounds like some secret formula to grow companies to billions in valuation. But what is growth Hacking? What does it mean for marketers and for businesses? Is it Marketing 2.0 (or 3.0 or whatever version we are on +1)?
I have found the definitions by those who created the term to be inaccurate or of little value. At first glance, it could appear that growth hacking is a marketing buzzword about marketing created by non-marketers.
After taking a closer look and reading all I could about it, I found that in trying to learn from it, a pure definition would not be as valuable as an observation of Gowth Hacking characteristics are:
- Typically found in early stage startups – with no formal marketing teams or budget
- Where marketing is performed by engineers or non-career marketers
- That uses smart, cheap and unconventional methods to grow the business
- With a strong focus on analytics, metrics, virality and scalability
Advocates of the term call out DropBox, Twitter and even Hotmail as success stories that prove the value of growth hacking. This view is somewhat misleading as there are a hundred startups following growth hacking techniques that won’t survive to their next round of financing. Which only proves there is no secret formula or buzzword that guarantees success.
The only guarantee of success is to have a great strategy, a great product, a great team, and great execution. But let’s focus on what marketers can learn from growth hackers:
Continue reading “What is Growth Hacking and What Can Good Marketers Learn from It?”
How much can we learn from Steve on Innovation, Marketing and Business Strategy?
A few days ago I stumbled on this video where Guy Kawasaki shared 12 lessons he learned from Steve Jobs. Guy worked with Steve in the early days of the Mac. This presentation was delivered a few hours after Steve passed away. It is been viewed almost a half a million times, but it is 47 minutes long. I thought I should share a summary from my notes:
- Experts” are clueless – There are many people who will claim to be gurus and experts. Don’t trust them. They are more often mistaken.
- Customers cannot tell you want they need –” Back in 1984 they would have asked for a faster, cheaper Apple II (not a Mac). The day you hear Apple is using focus groups to create future products, that’s the day to short the Apple stock”. For more, here is a post on Steve Job’s Genius Ability to Innovate.
- The biggest challenges beget the best work – If you are going to change the world, you need to work on challenges no one else has solved before.
- Design matters. “Design is the product.” Especially for Apple, but true for more and more industries today. Another post on the importance of design.
- Use big graphics and big font in your presentations. Jobs was a master presenter. His slides make bold statements and don’t compete for attention with what he is saying.
- Jump curves, not better sameness – What Guy means is that Steve was not interested in incremental improvements, but on disruptions that completely change the game, Guy uses the example of the change from ice factories to having ice available in your refrigerator.
- It either works or does not work – “Don’t worship religions and fads. We did not care if it was ‘open’ or ‘closed’ only that it worked.”
- Value is different than Price. I could not agree more. Here are a few posts on the topic.
- Hire A players exclusively . A players hire A players. B players hire C players. As Jim Collins wrote: the most important thing is people – ‘who is on the bus’.
- Real CEOs can demo. Meaning executives need to be users of the products they sell, they need to be competent and demonstrate their passion.
- Entrepreneurs ship, not slip. Steve pushed his team to deliver on time. He did not wait for a perfect product (the first iPhone had many limitations) but it was developed in record time. Then there is time for continuous improvement.
- Somethings need to be believed to be seen. “If you wait for proof it will never happen.” This is so true
If you want to watch the entire video, you will find it here.
It is a cycle we see too often: companies grow successful; an industry matures adopting many common practices, some good and some bad. Then these companies get complacent and fall asleep at the wheel. They stop innovating and often try to take advantage of consumers because of their position. And by doing so, they and create an opportunity for new entrants to disrupt the market.
It is easy to point at history and study how companies that were market leaders fell in this trap: Blockbuster, Motorola, Circuit City and Radio Shack are good examples. It is a lot harder to predict which markets or companies will be disrupted. But it is much more interesting to observe when it is actually happening in front of us.
This week I witnessed disruption in the rental car industry. I traveled to Dallas for a day and decided to give Silvercar a try. I am glad I did. How is the Silvercar experience better than the established companies who are asleep at the wheel? Let me recap my experience: Continue reading “Innovation – How Silvercar is Disrupting the Car Rental Business”