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 Salesforce.com, 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 Salesforce.com 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 Salesforce.com example:

The "End of Software" became Salesforce.com'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 more...here'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!