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!