Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Charting the Customer Journey...

I've been thinking about maps a lot lately.   Not the maps you find on Google or Mapquest, but the kind you might find on the whiteboard of many successful or fledgling SaaS companies today, a map of the Customer Journey.

Customers today come in to services in many forms, freemium, trial or paid users.  But getting the sign up, long the purview of sales and now quickly become the territory of marketing, is only the first step in delivering and capturing value.  Customer must onboard, they must get value, and they must grow if the SaaS provider is to win and prosper.

It's so easy to try, buy and leave! services today, that we must totally rethink our model. Monthly recurring revenues only grow when customers successfully onboard, utilize and grow their usage of features and add-ons.

How can we manage this?  Well, have we mapped the customer journey?  Do we understand all the milestones of service adoption, from onboarding to first value to growth?  Have we thought about usage signals that can indicate customers likely to leave, or even better, ready to grow?  Have we put engagement programs in place that drive customer through the journey so we deliver and capture the most value possible?

I've been working with my partner Totango and we've built a new Customer Journey Mapping Workshop.  You can learn more here!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Chasm, What Chasm? Three Trends Collapsing the Technology Adoption Lifecycle

I've been wondering a lot lately about the Technology Adoption Lifecycle and Geoffry Moore's classic Crossing the Chasm.   I believe that we are seeing the Chasm obliterated by technology and cultural changes.    I see three inter-related trends that are driving this collapse, none of these in and of themselves will surprise any readers, but I think when taken together, there is a compelling argument that the Chasm is collapsing, and smart marketers can speed time to adoption by understanding this dynamic.   These trends are 1) The consumerization of technology and its impact on the speed of diffusion 2) the commoditization of the creation and distribution of content and 3) the lower barriers and risks of technology solution adoption.

Before I continue, I do want to note that Crossing the Chasm might be the most dog-eared book in my fairly extensive marketing library.  It is a CLASSIC, and has guided much of my thought and practice of marketing over the last 2 decades.   It still has tremendous value and incredible teaching and learning in it.  The concepts of bowling pins, whole product and positioning are beyond their worth in gold.  End of story.

But, I think we need to take a hard look at the chasm today.  On page xi of his revised edition of 1999, Moore states:  "The Chasm Model itself represents a pattern in market development that is based on the tendency of pragmatic people to adopt new technology when they see other people like them doing the same.  This causes them to band together as a group, and the groups initial reaction, like teenagers at a junior high dance,  is to hesitate and watch."   Let's take a little time and dissect this statement.

1) "the tendency of pragmatic people to adopt new technology when they see other people like them doing the same" - Since the Chasm was "discovered" by Moore, technology has infiltrated our lives, as  Marc Andreessen says, "software is eating the world."  Early adopters now surround everyone, kids and consumers often lead the way.   In addition, the technology continues to get hidden behind better and better and easier and easier user experience.  Today's professionals are more comfortable with and better and faster adopters of technology.  From the secretary, to the CEO, from the line worker to the general manager, adoption patterns have compressed and changed.  CIOs and Business Managers who wait for "the mainstream" to adopt a solution will quickly find themselves in the late 
majority, falling behind competitors.

2)  "... This causes them to band together as a group"  - Which group?  How many affiliations do you have on Linkedin? How many communities do you belong to?  What technology did the PTA just adopt that has you thinking, boy, why aren't we doing that?   It used to be information was held by vendors.   Customers and buyers depended on information brokers, such as Gartner, IDC and others to get aggregated views of this information.  Now they can go to Quora, or LinkedIn, or just plain Google.  Vendors now invest FORTUNES in content creation and distribution, because they must inform buyers now, or lose to competitors who do.  The group of peers has expanded dramatically and the information available to these groups has become free, available and subject to peer review.  One of the main reasons the group effect put brakes on mainstream adoption was the difficulty of obtaining and evaluating vendor claims.  We've entered the era of transparency and visibility, where the early adopters can more effectively share and make their informed views and experiences real to the mainstream.

3) "...and the groups initial reaction, like teenagers at a junior high dance,  is to hesitate and watch" The new reaction is to try at small scale, fail and scale successes.  The speed and cost dynamics of the cloud have fundamentally changed the economics of trial and the risk of failure.  The risk and fear of failure is now lower than the odds of success and upside. 

I still believe in vertical marketing, I still believe in delivering whole products, I still believe in the power of positioning, but I believe the Chasm is closing and will continue to do so.  I hope this posts is controversial, and creates a discussion, I expect it will do so!  What do you think???

Wednesday, October 3, 2012 and Three Other Companies Getting Viewpoint Right!

When I talk about Viewpoint, the first question I usually get is, "well, who does this well?"

The godfather of Viewpoint in the new era of cloud computing is clearly   As I have written here,'s "The End of Software" created a unique and compelling Viewpoint that aligned with the aspiration and frustrations of their target customers who needed faster and easier visibility into sales pipeline and performance.  As they and the market have matured, they have adeptly shifted to "The Social Enterprise", seeking to capitalize on the technology, environmental and business shift to social computing.   So far, this seems to be a big win again for Benioff and team as even conservative Gartner Group now calls this category "Social CRM" . 

But everyone calls out Salesforce, so I wanted to find a few maybe lesser know examples of companies who are staking out a Viewpoint which gets them attention, leads and business.  Here's a few:

Zuora - The Subscription Economy - By building the business around the Subscription Economy, Zuora has created a fertile ground for discussing their billing solutions in a context that matters.  Rather than simply an accounting solution for selling term licenses, Zuora has effectively planted a flag of leadership.  They've even committed a whole website to the discussion of this Viewpoint.

FireEye - Sometimes a Viewpoint is as simple as saying "the world around you has dramatically changed, have you responded?".  This is exactly what FireEye has done with their Next Generation Threat positioning.  By elegantly articulating what their clients already knew, that the bad guys were changing faster than their current defenses, FireEye positioned themselve as the expert to define and deliver what a next generation threat protection solution.

VirginAmerica -  Flying should be painful, crowded, stressful and miserable.  Right?  Wrong says VirginAmerica.  Experience the difference.  A great example of a Viewpoint which takes conventional wisdom and throws it out the window.  Backed by delivery of the promise of a new and differentiated service.  Cool!  Let's book today!

By creating a unique Viewpoint, we create the space or the context to deliver our unique value, creating impact, the first stage of accelerating to Velocity Marketing.  What's you Viewpoint?  (check out this blog for a starting framework... or join me for my Velocity Breakthrough Marketing Workshop in Boston on October 25th...)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Three Things You Should Forget about B2B Sales and Marketing

Sometimes the things we forget are as important as those we remember.  Well, here's 3 things I think we would all do to forget in our B2B go to market strategies...

1) Demo only when qualified - NO - Buyers come in MANY shapes and sizes, with MANY email addresses, and in MANY states of readiness.  In all cases, they have come to expect to be able to see the service or product experience.   Since so many sales cycles are now 'hidden', if you don't "show me the money" early, you could lose and not even know it...

2) Enterprise sales are top down, always - NO.  Just ask Yammer, Atlassian or even and others.  Many enterprise sales cycles are now driven bottoms up by the line manager who has the problem to solve.  Now enterpise sales has ALWAYS been a combination of top down and bottom up selling, but today, the scales are tipping to the bottom up.  Velocity now requires trial, demo and value delivery EARLY and OFTEN.

3)Qualified leads matter most - NO, marketing must now deliver qualified buyers to sales.  Sales then must slam the door shut.  Marketing used to be the warm up act, and sales the concert giver.  Now it looks more like Marketing plays the first 2 acts and sales ends the show.   With hidden sales cycles and self directed buyers, marketing must not just find qualified leads, they must find the active buyers.

Each of these things to forget have broad and significant sales and marketing implications, on tactics, measurement, roles and org structutres...more of that to come in another blog...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Adopting a Cloud Mindset - Unleashing Enterprise Cloud Adoption

(This post was originally written as a contribute piece for Nimsoft's Modern IT Blog, but I thought it would fit well here too - Enjoy)

Much has been written here, and in many blogs, about Cloud Adoption. However, most of this has focused on the tangible and critical pieces like technical architecture and operational considerations. This can’t be minimized in the least. However, in my work with both vendors and end customers, I’ve identified what is another critical success factor across all organizations, and that is adopting a Cloud Mindset. And while mindset may seem “softer” than the other issues, if we don’t shift our mindset, we will continue to cling to ideas and assumptions that served us well in the past, but can get in the way of our future success.

The OPF™ Mindset Framework:

I’ve developed a model to both understand and manage mindset transitions. In the OPF framework, Mindset is composed of 3 components; orientation, perspective, and focus. Each of these has a very specific definition:
    1. Orientation – My relationship and adjustment to the environment that I am in
    2. Perspective – My way of regarding/judging and interpreting facts
    3. Focus – Where I choose to concentrate my attention
In order to change, to bridge from one mindset to the next, it is often helpful to explicitly define, discuss and agree on an organization Mindset.

Let’s now apply this framework to the three transitions in question, ISV to SaaS, Service Provider to Cloud Service Provider, and Enterprise IT To a Cloud First Organization.

The SaaS Mindset

As I blogged earlier, ISV and new SaaS providers need to change their Mindset:
  • Orientation: from Product to Service
  • Perspective: from Spikey to Continuous
  • Focus: from Transaction to Relationship
Without these changes, the incentive to drive the organizational requirements for success and the framework to make strategic choices will be flawed. I’ve seen many cases where ISVs have not succeeded with the transition to SaaS, not because of technical barriers, but because they failed to change mindset and therefore made poor organizational, resource and strategic choices.

The Cloud Service Provider Mindset

Service Providers, of course are in the business of selling services, not products, so they have a different challenge in transitioning. They must become more agile, like the technology they support. They must accept that they win not only by expanding their service catalog, but by making it more “open” to other cloud providers, and adding value in layers above their traditional service catalogs. Applying the OPF framework to this transition, we can summarize this transition like this:
  • Orientation: from closed and control to open value add
  • Perspective: from customer value from me to customer value through ecosystem leverage
  • Focus: from Service expansion to Service agility
The more a service provider opens up and expands its catalog, business practices and value add to the Cloud ecosystem, the more opportunity opens and barriers to winning the Cloud melt away.

The Enterprise IT To a Cloud First Organization Mindset

Traditionally, IT has been the provider of services to the Enterprise. And while this is the role that they will continue to play, it is being transformed daily. First of all, with layers from IaaS to PaaS to SaaS being provided to IT, they must understand that they are no longer a buyer of services, but have in many cases become the consumer of these services. They must consume, add value and broker these services to their internal and external customers across web, mobile and other channels. They must move beyond exploring the cloud and drive to strategies that exploit it. In short, they are the beneficiaries of the work being done by ISVs and Cloud providers, but only if they learn to consume, exploit and effectively broker new and innovative services. In short, their mindset must shift like this:
  • Orientation: from buyer to consumer
  • Perspective: from exploration to exploitation
  • Focus: Service delivery to service brokering
As we see, Cloud Adoption changes the role and mindset across the IT service delivery value chain. Has you organization changed or is it clinging to an old mindset? By explicitly thinking, discussing and agreeing on an organization’s mindset, it’s Orientation, Perspective and Focus, you can change the speed and effectiveness of your cloud adoption and success. Happy Bridging…

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Eat this Dog Food - Experience Marketing, Dogfood, Stone Skipping and More

Jim Barksdale is a pretty quotable guy, work for him for a few years like I did at Netscape and you leave with a small library of "Barksdalisms" that just stick with you.  One of Jim's sayings was, "It ain't dogfood unless the dog comes off the porch to eat it...".

While Jim was making the point that you can love your product, but if the customers doesn't buy it it aint worth much, I never think Jim was intending to be taken literally.  German pet food manufacturer GranataPet did.  Watch this video of a mobile enabled dog food dispensing billboard.

Kinda gets you hungry doesn't it? OK, maybe not, but it will sure make your dog happy.

Ever feel like escaping the doldrums of your computer, sitting down by a mountain lake and skipping stones?  Sounds like fun.  That's exactly the experience that the SkipTown promo for Sun Valley created by San Francisco design firm 11 did.  And while Skippy has since retired, check out the video of the world's first (and maybe only?) web controlled stone skipping robot from Sun Valley Idaho. 

When I hear software, SaaS and other B2B companies hide their product or services experience behind a myriad of rationalizations and excuses I want to fire up these two videos.  If Sun Valley and Granata can do it, so can you! 

KJR client WhiteHat Security recently launched it's new RiskCheck program.  WhiteHat probably knows more about Website risk and attacks than anyone in the world.  But how do you give prospects a taste of that experience.  The RiskCheck, just launched last week is their answer.  Just complete this short web survey and receive a customized report comparing you to your industry and companies of your size. A small but highly valuable experience of the value that WhiteHat can deliver.

Experience and engagement create velocity.  So whether you are selling dog food, mountain vacations or website security, there's a way to accelerate your pipeline today.

 Now excuse me while I take Fido for a walk, skip some stones and futureproof my website.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

5 Ways You Better Be Above Average – Winning Marketing in a Global, High Velocity Marketplace

Talking about his new book, “That Used to Be Us,” at a recent speech at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, best selling author Thomas Friedman said, “Average is over.  Everyone must define and develop their extra, that unique value add that justifies, in this world of rising curves why they should be hired or promoted.”   Friedman goes on to make a case that to win in the global market, American education must nurture students to become more creative and unique.

Friedman goes on to discuss the emergence of the “hyper-connected world” one where you cannot only outsource labor, but you can outsource “genius”.   This is clearly one of the driving forces that create the glut of solution providers in every imaginable niche in the market today.    While Friedman deals with macro nation level competitiveness issues, every day, the battle against average determines the micro level winners and losers in competitive markets.   The companies that win, rise above the mean because they don’t stop at average, they consistently go outside the mean in at several if not all of these key areas –

1)   Frame the problem in the customer's view
2)   Drive experience
3)   Execute with focus, data and speed
4)   Maximize Customer satisfaction
5)   Iterate rapidly and successfully

Let's take a quick look at why being above average matters, and how to achieve it.  

1)   Frame the Problem – With the dramatic overload and availability of content, Breakthrough is critical.  Winners do an above average job of setting the CONTEXT for the market conversation, or framing the problem.  One way to win, is to create a compelling Viewpoint as I discuss here.  Average companies look to ride trends, above average ones create them.
2)   Drive experience – Buyers are now driven by experience over evaluation.  Average companies have product or brand managers building screen capture or other quick hit videos.  Above average companies find ways to create highly engaging, real or near real product or service experiences.  Experience is the new selling reality, you better be great at this or you will never build a high velocity sales execution engine…
3)   Execute with focus, data and speed – Driving pipeline today, is all about execution and learning.  We’ve entered the era of A/B testing and we aren’t leaving.  Average companies understand basic data and use it to adjust execution, while above average companies drive operations and optimization from realtime data and analytics , using new and innovative tools and techniques like Totango’s Customer Engagement Management solution.
4)   Maximize Customer Satisfaction – We've left the world of purchase and support a long time ago, but many organizations have not adjusted their approaches and organizations.  Average companies measure customer satisfaction with survey and support metrics.  Above average companies have fundamentally changed their mindset and restructured their whole organization around the customer lifecycle, surrounding the customer and maximizing customer lifetime value.  
5)   Iterate rapidly and successfully – Average companies run on release cycles measure in quarter or longer.  Above average companies release features and cycle in weeks, days or even hours.  In the world of realtime data (see 3), the new rule is iterate or lose. 

Are you still average, if so, you need to invest or lose to the start up in Bangalore, Budapest, Sao Paolo or next door.  Friedman is right not just about people when he calls out to find that extra, but this is true of companies too.  What’s your strategy to be above average?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Clouds, Gold Rushes, Motorcades and Why I Love Infrastructure Technologies

As President Obama's motorcade made its way through the San Francisco Peninsula yesterday, the first fundraising stop was at the Atherton home of Douglas and Lisa Goldman, who are very well known and respected philanthropists.   I was a bit curious.  With very minimal effort, I learned that M. Goldman is actually Dr. Goldman, a retired physician, apparently a big Obama backer, and most interestingly an heir to the Levi Strauss fortune. 

With my 4th grade daughter deep into the California Gold Rush unit at school, I found it fascinating that the President was NOT visiting a miner's house, but was visiting the home of their tailor!  If there are two fortunes and legacies that I associate with the Gold rush, they are Stanford and Levi's, railroads and blue jeans.   I quickly went to see if I could find the legacy of the people who actually mined the gold, but the only trail I could find are the 49ers, the football mascot, not the people still living in mansions.  I am sure they exist, but they are not easy to find. 

This made me think of today's "Cloud Rush", and where the winners will be 5, 10 and even 30 years from now.  Not who will be the next Mark Z and Facebook, who have certainly hit a vein of rich gold, but who is the next Larry Ellison and Oracle.   For 35 yrs (yes check that number out!) Oracle has been providing the technological equivalent of railroads and blue jeans to 3+ waves of technology disruption, minicomputer, client server, Web and maybe cloud.

I LOVE infrastructure solutions because while not sexy like gold, they work everyday like blue jeans and railroads, and are often some of the most overlooked opportunities by the strike it rich miners.   In today's "Cloud rush",  there is a LOT of money to be made by enabling the mining of Cloud gold, scaling, managing, securing, enabling, optimizing,  that's where I want to work!!!!  So let the 20 somethings pull on their new jeans, fire up their Amazon instances and pan for gold.  May many of them strike it rich  Give me a great infrastructure idea that I can sell to all of them any day and I'll put my money there.

When my daughter writes about the 54th president visiting the home of someone 30 years from now, which legacy will that harken back to?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Demise of Marketers, the Rise of Coders - Eh, I think NOT!

Andrew Chen's recent blog post entitled - Growth Hacker is the New VP of Marketing certainly got my attention and was one of the most intriguing post I've read in months.  Andrew essentially writes an obituary for Marketers, saying they are going the way of the dinosaur to be replaced by a new and more evolved species he calls the Growth Hacker.  Do I agree, NO!  But that doesn't mean that this isn't a very important post that bears attention and response.

I recently spent an hour with my daughter's 4th grade class teaching them - "What is Marketing" for a business simulation unit they are doing.  In it I told them that "Marketing is fun, because you get to be part artist, part scientist and part poet."   Andrew argues that I was wrong on 2.5 of these, and that Marketing is now fun because you get to be part Coder and part Data Scientist.   Andrew says,
"The fastest way to spread your product is by distributing it on a platform using APIs, not MBAs. Business development is now API-centric, not people-centric. Whereas PR and press used to be the drivers of customer acquisition, instead it’s now a lagging indicator that your Facebook integration is working. The role of the VP of Marketing, long thought to be a non-technical role, is rapidly fading and in its place, a new breed of marketer/coder hybrids have emerged"
Do I agree, yes and no.  Marketing, especially direct marketing,  has always been part science, and business development has always been about partnering and distribution.  So in that sense Andrew is both right and wrong.  There has definitely been a continued rise of analytics in marketing starting with Direct Marketing,  moving to SEO/SEM, and continuing with the emerging fields of social analytics, A/B testing and other new techniques.   In fact, to many CEOs marketing is no longer a "black art" , but is now a "black science."

The major problem I have with Andrew's post is toward the end.  After walking through an integration between AirBnB and Craigslist, Andrew states rather pejoratively,
"No traditional marketer would have figured this out
Let’s be honest, a traditional marketer would not even be close to imagining the integration above – there’s too many technical details needed for it to happen. As a result, it could only have come out of the mind of an engineer tasked with the problem of acquiring more users from Craigslist.  "
Not only is this totally unsubstantiated, it's insulting.  Plenty of marketers, like myself, are pretty damn technical, they have to be.  Do they code, maybe not, but can they spec and understand an integration like this, HELL YES.   Secondly, who tasked the hypothetical engineer with doing this in the first place?  So while this post is definitely interesting, at the end of the day I think it is wrong.  

As I've argued extensively, in today's overloaded information market, getting attention is still about context and communications.  The argument that coders and data scientists will be the only flavors of marketers in the future is just a leap beyond logic and reality.  Marketing, taken in its broader sense, is the understanding of markets, buyers, communication and value exchange.  It doesn't require a coder to do this, it requires a business person, albeit, a pretty technically savvy one in many organizations. In addition, it may be the romantic in me, but I think the artists and poets will continue to play an important but changing role in marketing success.  If you want one compelling argument for this, I'd point you right to the Apple Product Design team.  So, as much as some would like to pronounce the VP of Marketing as dead or dying, as Mark Twain famously said, "The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated". 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mind The Gaps - 3 Gaps to High Velocity Pipeline, and How to Bridge Them To Success

When I used to go to London often and ride the Underground, the constant refrain seen was "Mind The Gap".   Mind the Gap or you could suffer some unmentionable and clearly gruesome fate.   As Online software service providers of all flavors try to create high velocity sales and marketing businesses, they would do well to mind these 3 gaps:

1) The "It's Not Your Time" gap
2) The "It's Not My Job" gap
3) The "Window Shopping" gap

Let's take a quick look at each of these gaps and see how we can minimize the risk of a potential customer "falling through the cracks", which while not bloody and gruesome, is costly and mostly avoidable. 

1) It's Not Your Time - Sorry Ms. Vendor, you got me here and I was pretty interested, but you've failed in the 3 minutes I have to deliver relevant value once I arrived.  I'm not ready for the trial, because you're not showing me any compelling reason to listen.

2) It's Not My Job - Oh shoot, I went to try your product but I realized I need the X (CTO, Network Admin, HR Manager, implementer, ...) to configure, load or integrate something to try it.  Can't I get see something now, maybe later...

3) I'm Just Window Shopping - Today's world is full of triers, but where are the buyers?  If you can't tell them apart, it won't be the prospect falling through the cracks, but it will be your valuable sales and marketing resources...

 Bridging the Gaps

How then can we bridge this gaps with our Go To Market approach?

Here's a few ideas...

1) Create the context - We compete not just with 4 or 5 other solutions that are close to ours, but hundreds or thousands of things on the buyers mind and agenda.  Engage visitors with a unique and compelling viewpoint, and then keep them around by relating your value to their world.    Zuora's "Subscription Economy" is a compelling and relevant viewpoint, check it out as a great example.  Now it's YOUR TIME!

2) Reduce Experience Friction - Make sure it is EASY for buyers to experience the value you deliver.  If an integration step is needed, make sure there is a way to simulate or demonstrate the result without the full commitment.  GoodData does this by providing a myriad of example implementations of dashboards, so if a potential buyer doesn't want to or can't do the integration right then, they can still experience the value.  Remember what your key buyers job and skills are and deliver experience to them NOW!

3) Find the Buyers - In try and buy and freemium models, it is absolutely possible to monitor and understand buying behavior vs. window shopping.  Don't depend on inefficient sales methods to find the most likely buyers, watch and understand what their actions are, they speak louder than words.  Tools like Totango offer powerful and easy platforms that let you do this.  Let the Buyers find You!

So if your velocity isn't where it needs to be, take a quick look at these 3 Gaps found in many go to market plans.  Mind the Gap, Find the Gap, and Fix the Gap to drive high velocity!!!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Five Reasons We Overvalue Value!

Value Propositions and elevator pitches live in the rarefied air of marketing speak.  They are almost seen as mystical accomplishments reachable by only the anointed among us.  "But what's the elevator pitch" we hear time and time again....Give me the 30 second attention grabber, etc, etc.

While I agree that Value matters, and actually matters a lot,  I think as sales and marketing professionals, we've worshiped at this alter for so long, we've lost sight of the end goal.  We've become Value snobs.  Here's are my top 5 reason's why we overvalue Value:

1) We are Product Narcissists...Who doesn't love their baby.  Even when we clearly articulate customer benefit, we RARELY ask whether the benefit is truly valuable.  We are often NOT in synch with out customers priorities, fears and aspirations.  This might be the #1 thing that drives great sales people to say "The marketing guys are out of touch".

2) Content is a Commodity... What we write, our competitors can copy and paste with amazing speed, especially if it is good content.   There are really only 2 benefits to products anyways, cost savings and revenue increase, and there are only so many ways to say these things.  Good content is not cheap or easy... for the first guy, but is for the second!  When we focus on the words that describe our Value, we lose to the second guy every time.

3) If Content is Dead, Context is the new King  ...  Value without context is like a tree falling in the forest with no one around to hear it.  We spend so much time on Value we forget about Viewpoint.  True impact happens when we paint our value in the Context of a Viewpoint that is aligned with our customers.  We get out of our product narcissism (see point 1), and set the terrain to communicate in a meaningful way.

4)   It all goes back to IBM...Need Feature Advantage Reaction, Wilson Sales Strategy, Powerselling...  Most of what we do has its roots in a world of 1970-1990.  A world of technocrats who lived in glass houses could be sold to like that.  But today's buyer is self directed and really SMART, and has access to more information than ever.   Buyers have shifted from evaluation to experience as the way they form opinions and make decisions.   Many of us have not kept up...

5) Hard to experience = hard to use.   High velocity sales requires high velocity value delivery.  Set the context and then "show me the money".  If it's so darn hard to DEMONSTRATE your value, then your product or service must be damn hard to buy, deploy and get value out of.   The days of DESCRIBING value are over.  Better to show me 60% of the value in a compelling experience, than describe it 100% in a long piece of text or video.

The real power of influence in sales and marketing has shifted from Content to Context, from Value to Viewpoint and from Evaluation to Experience.   Don't lose sight of Value, but let's put it in its more appropriate role in our sales and marketing mix....

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Velocity Marketing Evolution - How to Achieve Extreme Marketing Breakthrough, Pipeline Velocity and ROI

Today's buyer is information overloaded, bandwidth constrained and fiercely independent.  A recent survey by the Corporate Executive Board reported that 57% of the new B2B sales cycle is DONE before the buyer's first formal contact to the selected vendor.  Understanding that simple fact requires a radical rethink of go to market strategies and tactics across sales and marketing.  I call this new approach, "Velocity Marketing".   Those who adopt Velocity Marketing approaches can see dramatic increases in Marketing ROI and significant compression of sales pipelines.  This drops real dollars into the bottom line.
Figure 1, The Three Stages of Velocity Marketing Achievement

There are 3 stages to moving to Velocity Marketing, depicted in Figure 1. In my experience, 90% of organizations are mucked and mired in the Status Quo stage, slugging out a content marketing battle based on features and benefits.   This is shown in Figure 2.  Viewpoint is diverged from the customer, Value is the usual and Velocity is low.

Figure 2: Stagnant, Content and Benefit Centric Marketing

In order to get to the next level of Impact, we must get our Viewpoint and Value aligned with our buyer's view of the world.  We must create a Viewpoint that converges on the biggest business changes impacting our customer and the most disruptive response that our solution delivers in response to those changes.  (Read more about Viewpoint here) Once we do that, we can then go on to articulating unique Value that is differentiated, meaningful and aligned with our Viewpoint.    This state of Viewpoint and Value alignment get us to the Impact stage, driving significant effectiveness and efficiency in our in market communications, creating ROI and reducing sales cycles.  (Read about Value and tilting the playing field with Viewpoint here) This is seen graphically in Figure 3.

Figure 3: Converged Viewpoint and Unique Value Creates Impact, The First Step to Breakthrough
However, if we can then drive to higher levels of Engagement and Experience as discussed here, we can move our marketing execution from low to high Velocity, we create Breakthrough as shown in Figure 4.  (Read more about Engagement, Experience and Velocity here.) Breakthrough Marketing can be seen when we have high levels of unique and compelling value communicated in high velocity, engaging and experiential ways. 

Figure 4: Increasing Velocity with Engagement and Experience Creates Breakthrough

Where are you on the Velocity Marketing Evolution?  

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Cirque Du Soleil and Setting the Stage - Viewpoint Abounds

(Note: Viewpoint is a critical part of my Breakthrough Marketing Framework, to learn more about how it fits with Value and Velocity to create impact and breakthrough, read this post...Ken )

Walking across the Santa Monica pier, my senses rose to an unusually high level.  The misty cool evening woke me up after a dinner with great food, new friends and fine wine.   As we approached the lit up big top, I was immediately transported to the thrilling milieu of the circus.  Thoughts of lions, tigers, tight rope walkers and clowns immediately flashed through my mind.  It was at once familiar as well as seductive.

Passing the ticket taker and entering the tent, the energy, anticipation and excitement was palpable.  And while the concession and souvenir stands were not much different than what you would see at any circus, something in the air said different, something said Cirque Du Soleil.  Maybe it was the accents and slightly exotic appearance of the servers, register clerks and program sellers.  Maybe it was the colors and smells, maybe it was magic.  I'm not sure, but that's OK, I'd already begun to move from the circus of my youth to the Cirque experience.

Entering and moving to our seats, we stared at a giant, translucent egg.  Ova, the name of the show, was center stage.  Next a team of exterminators entered the aisles...they began slowly pursuing butterfly and  other assorted creatures.  Exit the exterminators and enter into the aisles giant crickets as a few fleas and spiders began to climb 8 foot flower stems on the stage.  All of this, while the big top was still less than full, and patrons continue to be seated.  The stage still covered by the giant egg, remained a bit of a mystery

The stage was set, this was not your Ringling Brothers circus, it was a giant insect egg, hiding a new and exciting world yet to be discovered.  The stage was set, I was ready to be amazed.

In its 25th year of thrilling audiences, Cirque has mastered the art, among many others, of creating a world view, or viewpoint, that transports audiences to new worlds, making them ready to be thrilled.  By the time the show opens, you are already a raving fan.

Viewpoint sets the stage, and gets us ready to engage our hearts and minds in the experience to come.  By building on the familiar, and transforming it into a new environment, Cirque Du Soleil does what ever marketer dreams of, it creates the perfect playing field from which to deliver against  it promise to entertain and amaze.  

Monday, March 12, 2012

Driving High Velocity Pipeline - Experience, Engagement and Delivery

It's been almost a year since I starting blogging about the role of Experience in the new Cloud Go To Market strategy.  In my post on Bridging to SaaS Success; A Basic Blueprint, I said:  
Go To Market Tactics: E -> E: Evaluation to Experience. Today's go to market mix, pricing, channel and promotion is built to drive evaluation and transaction. Successful service go to market requires a shift to tactics that drive experience and satisfaction. Successful SaaS organizations shift their go to market tactics and investments and become experience, not product marketers.
I then expanded on these thoughts with my post entitled SaaS Go To Market, Why Experience Rules:

"Today's customer has little patience for White Papers, datasheets, detailed feature function product specs and the like. They may attend a webinar, but the next step is experience. Even for large organizations with complex buying behavior, the expectation of SaaS is easy, accessible and meaningful experience of the service, either through demonstration instances, trial or freemium models."
 And while the proof continues to mount that this is the case, each additional post I do on the topic inevitably invites some heated Twitter and or blog comments.  I've enjoyed debating the topic at conferences as varying as the Goldman Sachs Cloud Computing Conference and the Silicon Valley Cloud Computing Meet-up Group's Talk Cloudy to Me all day meetup.

Today I want to add another layer of detail into my V3 High Impact Go To Market Model, on how to use Engagement and Experience to drive impact.  Velocity is a function of Delivery, Engagement and Experience, simply V=D*Engagement*Experience.

The HIGHEST velocity go to market programs, tailor their delivery to channel of communication and buyers place in the buying cycle.  Content Rules, a popular book in marketing circles today, spends a lot of time focused on just this, and for me it is necessary and recommended reading and very good stuff.

However, in my experience, Content Rules fails to take on the other 2 variables in the equation, Engagement and Experience.  In order to drive Engagement, a strong Viewpoint and Value position must be staked out and communicated.  Then, this must be married with Experience driven delivery.

For a long time, I've been calling most White Papers YAWNERS™, Yet Another White Paper Nobody Ever Reads.  The reasons are two fold, first, the White Paper format and typical writing is simply not engaging, because in 99% of the cases it has no compelling viewpoint, it is, usually simply a LONG WINDED DATASHEET.

Secondly, as I've stated ad-nausea, products are evaluated, services are experienced.  We have truly moved from a products to services marketplace, and low experience vehicles, even with good engagement are just not enough.  If we put these together in a simple 2x2 matrix, we see the emergence of what are truly high velocity programs.

In the upper right we see high velocity programs such as Trials, live demo instances and the like.  In the bottom left we see low velocity deliverables such as whitepapers and datasheets.  And while there is a role for these low velocity deliverables, high velocity marketing spend will heavily weight high Engagement and high Experience programs and deliverables.

In my final post in this series, we tie together Viewpoint, Value and Velocity with the traditional marketing and sales funnel, and see how this framework can create High Impact and growth. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Tilting to Abundance: Using Value to Outsmart Your Competition, And They Won’t Even Know It!

In his seminal work 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, Steven Covey introduces a concept of an Abundance Mindset, Wikipedia describes it like this:

Covey coined the idea of abundance mentality or abundance mindset, a concept in which a person believes there are enough resources and success to share with others. He contrasts it with the scarcity mindset (i.e., destructive and unnecessary competition), which is founded on the idea that, if someone else wins or is successful in a situation, that means you lose; not considering the possibility of all parties winning (in some way or another) in a given situation.

When we apply this idea to Go To Market Positioning, Messaging and execution, we begin to see our opportunities in a whole new way, and drive an execution that can surprise even our most optimistic expectations. 

In my Viewpoint, Value, Velocity or V3 High Impact Go To MarketModel,  Value is the articulation of our winning business benefits that we use to move potential customers from awareness to purchase ready.  Once we get their attention with our Viewpoint, we need to rapidly move to captivating them with our communication of our Unique Value. 

Value definition: The Business benefits that a solution delivers for which customers are will to pay both real and opportunity costs to acquire.  Unique Value is a value which only comes from us, not other alternatives in the market. 

So, what are the 3 steps to articulating Unique Value, and using it to sneak up on and beat our competitors without them even knowing it

1)   Adopt an abundance mindset.   The abundance mindset simply says that we view our market not as a competitive dog fight for a finite and scarce amount of business but as a unlimited landscape of opportunity.  When we do this, we change our perspective from one of battle to one of maneuver and our focus from better to different.  (You do need to know that I am a fiercely competitive person, but the when we adopt an abundance mindset, we compete more like a Judo master than a boxer)
2)   Invest the time and energy to do the mechanics of building out our Value and its articulation in powerful messaging and positioning.  We do this by starting with an honest assessment of our uniqueness and our Unique Value.  We do this by completing the Venn Diagram here and then using it to drive well documented and customer validated positioning and messaging.

Finding Unique Value

3)   We then tilt the playing field to our advantage by changing the terrain from the conventional  wisdom to our Viewpoint.  When our Viewpoint creates the context for the customer and market  conversation, the diagram magically changes to look more like this:
Viewpoint Can Tilt the Playing Field

A Quick Case Study:

Palo Alto Networks provides an excellent example of this Unique Value in action.  Security folks have long recognized that Firewalls were providing less and less protection as more and more network traffic went over the Web protocol (Nearly all Firewalls have allowed Web traffic through, it's as if you’re door to your office let anyone dressed in a business suit in without regards to their intent).  But it took Palo Alto Network's courage to step out and say, “The Firewall is Broken” (Viewpoint) and we can fix it with these 3 key protection features, etc, etc.   Did this anger customers who were writing hundreds of millions in checks to Checkpoint, McAfee, Juniper and Cisco, some yes, but others apparently not, as it soon becomes clear.

At the time of their initial launch, I was running Network Security marketing for Secure Computing, now part of McAfee.  I can remember the product manager telling me that “Palo Alto is nothing but a web filtering box, it’s not a real firewall”  Fast forward 4+ years and Palo Alto Networks has disrupted a stagnant market, grown from nothing to over $500M in revenues, and is expected to be one of the largest tech IPOs of 2012. 

So while McAfee, Checkpoint, and others fought over the percentage points  of share in the old Firewall market, Palo Alto titled the playing field, articulated their Unique Value and executed with excellence, and as we speak, they are eclipsing the the old market, being chased by the rest. Sure the others have noticed now, but it just may be too late.

As an aside, your best sales reps are usually the "canary in the coal mine" to tell you if the market is being tilted on you.  I vividly remember a sales manager in my office saying, “We need an answer to Palo Alto” and me saying, “Really, what are they,  $10M out of $3B right now, let's keep our on on the real competition?” Boy oh boy, I got that one wrong indeed!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Finding Your Viewpoint, It's All a Cash Cow to Me!

(Note: Viewpoint is a critical part of my Breakthrough Marketing Framework, to learn more about how it fits with Value and Velocity to create impact and breakthrough, read this post...Ken ) 

In my recent blog on High Impact Marketing, I said,
Viewpoint is a framing of the market in the context of your uniqueness.  The uniqueness of your team, your capabilities, and your vision.  Some call viewpoint thought leadership, some vision with a capital V, and some brand.
 and I called on providers to set a unique and compelling viewpoint to create breakthrough for their marketing efforts.

While there are many frameworks and techniques to capturing Viewpoint, however defined, one of the simplest and most effective way I have, and one the first I usually pull out of my toolset, is to simple create an X and Y set of axis and coordinate labels for the market.  A simple 2x2 matrix which will then set your view firmly in one corner of the world, the best one!

There's a running joke in MBA circles that no presentation is complete without a 2x2 matrix.  This dates back at least to 1968 and the classic BCG "Growth Share" matrix, which among other notoriety is the source of the phrase "Cash Cow"!  With dimensions of market share and market growth, the BCG matrix provided a powerful way to understand and measure product segment profitability.   This example illustrates just how powerful a 2x2 matrix can be in setting a framework in which to view a problem.  From a simple idea, sprang a wealth of insight and business for BCG.

So let's try applying the 2x2 matrix to the problem of articulating a market Viewpoint.  Setting your market Viewpoint with a 2x2 matrix simple requires these "simple" steps:

1) Identify the X-axis.  A good place to start here is with the biggest and simplest piece of your market vision.  For, this was the transition from Software to Service (now called SaaS, then call nothing really).  Now that we've identified the endpoints,  name the Axis, in this case let's call it "Delivery"

2) Identify the Y-Axis.  Here let's try the biggest change in the customer experience.  In the case, it is from Coding to Configuration.  Let's name that axis, "Customization".

3) Claim the upper right corner as yours.  Here's how this comes together in the example:

The "End of Software" became's viewpoint, mantra and vision.   All from this "simple" 2x2 framework.

Viewpoint is all about framing the marketplace discussion, so you can then deliver your value to the customers who see through your market viewpoint.  Salesforce's value came in the proposition of lower TCO, faster Time to Value, and greater utilization than traditional CRM software packages.  And while "the End of Software" viewpoint did not sell any customers, it set a powerful market context for Salesforce to define and own the emerging SaaS CRM category, and create their own cash cow business.

Jim Barksdale, former CEO of Netscape, and one of the most amazing bosses I've ever had once said,
 "In the battle the bear and the alligator, the victor is determined by the terrain"
By articulating a compelling and meaningful viewpoint, organizations create the terrain so that they emerge winners. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Never Punt - Winning by Challenging Conventional Wisdom

Unless you are a hardcore (American) football fan, or happened to just catch the latest episode of HBO Real Sports,  you may have never heard of Coach Kevin Kelley of Pulaski Academy in Little Rock Arkansas.  But if you are a football fan, I'd imagine you may hear about him soon even if you forget about this blog.  You see, Kelley's teams haven't punted since 2006.  And in that time he has taken his small 350 kid school into the national top 100 rankings and to 3 state championships while winning well over 90% of his games...

You can Google him and easily learn's a couple of quotes from a Sept 09 Sports Illustrated Article on Kelley:
"The average punt in high school nets you 30 yards, but we convert around half our fourth downs, so it doesn't make sense to give up the ball," Kelley says. "Besides, if your offense knows it has four downs instead of three, it totally changes the game. I don't believe in punting and really can't ever see doing it again.
He means ever. Consider the most extreme scenario, say, fourth-and-long near your own end zone. According to Kelley's data (much of which came from a documentary he saw), when a team punts from that deep, the opponents will take possession inside the 40-yard line and will then score a touchdown 77% of the time. If they recover on downs inside the 10, they'll score a touchdown 92% of the time. "So [forsaking] a punt, you give your offense a chance to stay on the field. And if you miss, the odds of the other team scoring only increase 15 percent. It's like someone said, '[Punting] is what you do on fourth down,' and everyone did it without asking why." 
So what's going on here and what's it got to do with this blog, SaaS and Product Marketing?  I think quite a bit.  Here's why...

Despite the overwhelming evidence and success of his strategy (he also onside kicks on every kickoff and lets opposing punts roll un-fielded) and his growing popularity at coaches clinics and the like, it is not apparent that Kelley has attracted many disciples.  He's probably OK with that as he is amassing huge competitive advantage over his opponents.  As the SI article continues:
Which is to say that most football coaches aren't simply averse to risk—no shock, there—but that they make choices at odds with statistical probability, akin to blackjack players standing on 11. The explanation: Subject as they are to scrutiny, coaches have incentive to err on the side of conservatism. 
This brings me full circle to one of my favorite topics and soapboxes, Experience Marketing.   While conventional B2B marketing wisdom is that only very well qualified and vetted buyers should see demos or receive trials, without fail, in every scenario I have seen, the number one predictor of sales cycle success is the presence of a trial/POC or other real hands on experience.

Yet I see time and time again, sales and marketing teams in SaaS organizations, that could easily move the trial or experience to the front of the marketing and sales cycle, hang on to conventional wisdom, hiding or gating the actual product experience.  Whether this is because of fear of failure or simple rejection of the new, or concern over investor or CEO second guessing, those in the old product mindset  are punting away opportunity every day.

I have one thing to say to them:  "DON'T PUNT - JUST GO FOR IT ".  Whether that means a try and buy, freemium model or live demo instances, put EXPERIENCE front and center in your go to market strategy and tactics.  IT WILL give you the Kelley No Punt advantage.

It's no surprise that Kelley is out on the corporate speaking circuit talking about thinking outside of the box.  It's a simple recipe for winning.  Look at the data. See it in a new way. Change your mindset. Have the courage to ask.  Where else can cloud providers get a Kelley advantage...if you know, act now and win!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Join Me at SaaS U in Austin

I'm extremely honored to have been chosen to serve on the faculty for this event.  I sure hope some of my Silicon Valley colleagues can join me and the rest of the SoftLetter Faculty and Staff in Austin for this incredible 3 days... Enjoy SaaS U for the first 2 days, and then join me for my positioning workshop.  Use the code below for additional savings...

Softletter's SaaS University: Marketing, Selling,
Infrastructure and Financing Conferences, 2012

Since 2007, Softletter has hosted the industry's most comprehensive series of conferences on SaaS. Conferences have been held in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, Santa Clara and Washington, DC. New markets, opportunities, and obstacles are opening up as the software industry shifts towards the Cloud and a computing environment that provides 24/7/52 availability, communities of customers, and customer service and support issues that transcend anything ever seen by firms in the on premise, client/server markets!
SPECIAL SAVINGS FOR KJR Friends and Associates : Now SaaS University comes to Austin, Texas, February 28/29th, March 1st. Register to attend at Save $100 off the Early Bird pricing with coupon: KJRSAVE100. Coupon courtesy of KJR Associates.

MY saas product positioning workshop - March 1st

Poking Through the Clouds: A Workshop That Builds Powerful, Sustainable, Breakthrough Positioning
This workshop will unlock your hidden positioning strengths, free you from your preconceived notions and put you on the path to accelerated revenue and market success. Using methods that have been proven to deliver results for SaaS and software providers in multiple market segments, we will rapidly develop powerful customer centric positioning. With your offerings and market challenges as our canvas, we will paint the picture of your breakthrough, market winning proposition. Facilitated by Ken Rutsky

SaaS University Program Overview Feb 27 and 28

·       28 Sessions
·       Six Keynotes
·       Five tracks, including main, sales and marketing, infrastructure, finances and transition
·       Complimentary Wine and Appetizer Networking Event
·      Two full days

Keynote Speakers

·       Zach Nelson, CEO of NetSuite Inc.
·       Roger Sippl, Chairman, Elastic Intelligence (founder of Informix, Vantive and Visigenics
·       Sharon Mertz, Gartner Research Director, SaaS, CRM, Russian Software Markets
·       Merrill R. (Rick) Chapman, Managing Editor and Publisher of Softletter & Conference Chairman
·       Jan Aleman, CEO, Servoy, B.V.
·       Patrick Fetterman, Vice President, Plex Systems, Inc
·       Kevin O'Brien, Senior Director, ISV & SaaS Strategy for Worldwide Alliances and Channels, Oracle Corporation