Monday, September 14, 2009

YAWNER ™ : White papers, why???

As I am knee deep in a whitepaper deliverable for my current client, I stumbled on this posting: on not being "boring" with your marketing...and I was reminded of the acronym I created while at McAfee...

That's just a YAWNER - Yet Another White Paper Nobody Ever Reads. (Of course the YAWNER now has a close cousin, the YAVNEW, Yet Another Video Nobody Ever Watches, but that's for another time!).

I content that 98% of whitepapers from technology companies are YAWNERs and yawners. Why is this? Well I think there are a variety of reasons, but they net out into 3 broad categories:

1) Ready Fire Aim
2) The Kitchen Sink
3) Getta J0b (0r hire it out...)

First, as fundamental as it is, most whitepapers are simply not well targeted. Who is the audience, what is the current belief, what is the desired belief and what are the key messages. These are basic questions that any marketing professional should ask, but I am amazed at how rarely the product managers that I've spoken to or worked with can crisply articulate answers even in retrospect. Getting sleepy yet?

Second, too many whitepapers are just the kitchen sink. Well, this is a great whitepaper about product X, so let's throw product Y into the mix because it's strategic too. Or let's try make this serve "multiple audiences", so the business whitepaper ends up with 5 pages of dissertation on the ins and out of our API set. You get the picture. You almost know if you can't cover a topic in 10 pages or less, there's more than one topic, break it up. If you're targeting is on, the message should be lot tighter. Eye's drooping???

Third, getta job! As much as we would like every PM and PMM to be a great writer, the fact is, most are not. But a good editor (insourced or outsourced) can make all the difference. And you PMMs out there reading this, insist on it. Take your knowledge and leverage it, don't try to be everything! Now I'm getting tired!

So, in summary it's just plain simple: 1) Target 2) Resist scope and subject creep 3) get the right skills deployed. Maybe then yours will be one of the 2% of whitepapers that are actually readable and powerful marketing tools...

Good luck!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Random thoughts on social media and PDP™

Jim Tybur's interesting post here: made me think if Twitter and other social media could be a great way to measure Product Differentiation Pressure™ ...Not sure yet how they connect, but maybe....

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Product Differentiation Pressure: Do features matter?

Yes and No. It's the great contradiction of product differentiation, features mean nothing, yet features mean everything. Let me explain.

Features mean nothing - Customers (except a few really geeky early adopters which are not subject to the laws of nature:) don't buy features, they buy benefits. Or even more specifically, they buy either to put money in their pockets or to sleep at night. Nobody ever slept because their had a new feature. But lotsa people sleep well when they solve problems. Features don't matter!

Features mean everything - Let's go backwards here. Customers have problems. Product deliver benefits that solve problems. Features are the engines that make the benefit delivery possible.

Benefits that I can deliver that my competition can't are the crux of high PDP™ (Product Differentiation Pressure!) Unique features that are the engines for these specific benefits are the key to LASTING Differentiation!

Oh, and the customer better Care about these benefits. And Care means they will change their decision to get this!

Ask yourself, have I identified a set of unique features that create one or more unique benefits that I deliver better than my competition, and that a set of buyers Care about. If the answer is yes, you are on the way to high PDP.

Next blog I'll take a look at an example from my past...