Archive for October, 2012

Top Ten Rules for Marketing: Ten Ways Marketing Services Differs From Marketing Products

October 30, 2012

Ten Ways Marketing Services Differs From Marketing Products

Back in the day when Sun workstations sold like hotcakes and everyone was waiting with bated breath for Windows 95 (98, 2000), product marketing managers for technology products were well respected for what they did: define and drive the product development cycle in collaboration with marketing, sales and engineering.

This is not so long ago, but times have changed to the point where products are becoming more commoditized, where software solutions are in the cloud, where services rein over products, and where even companies like Microsoft are looking at how to provide customized services to their network of customers.

What does this mean for today’s product marketing managers, who are focusing more on service-oriented solutions? We interviewed Dr. Juan P. Montermoso, President at Montermoso Associates, Professor of Practice in Marketing at Santa Clara University, who spoke at the October 3 SVPMA event entitled Marketing the Experience: Applying PM Concepts to Services and Events.

The program description notes that more than 70% of GDP in places like the United States, the Netherlands or Australia is service-based, while 60% of revenues for companies like IBM are attributable to services. For tech product managers and CMOs of tech products and services companies, the message is clear: designing, marketing, and delivering not just profitable services but memorable experiences will be the keys to success.

Here are the top ten keys for doing just this. Product marketing a service has the same fundamental qualities as marketing a product: its focus on products, pricing, and promotion.

1.   Know your product details, market segment and your customer niche, and communicate your offerings based on the needs of your customers.

2.   Your promotion and pricing should speak to the needs of the customer and your product offerings should be designed to serve their needs, not the other way around.

3.   Continually seek feedback from the customer about the value of what you are providing and get their input about how to make it better for them. It is essential to gather this feedback to refine product features and definitions, pricing strategies, promotional plans.

4.   Create a community for your clients, partners and other stakeholders and provide value-added information, connection and services to them. This is an efficient way to build deeper relationships, connect with your customers, and add value beyond your current offerings.

5.   Work in conjunction with the marketing, sales, engineering and management team to address the needs of the customer, for knowing what the customer wants, in isolation of what a company will deliver is only half the solution.

 

The new way users are selecting products and services is no longer about the sales process and funnel, but has evolved into a complex, multi-faceted, multi-directional stages of evaluation, consideration, advocation, experiencing and buying, as well as bonding with others throughout the process. (See McKinsey Quarterly Report article’ The funnel is dead. The new consumer decision journey,’ http://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/The_consumer_decision_journey_2373) So as we evolve into the marketing of services, and address the decision processes for the more empowered user, we must still consider the products, price and promotion, but also look further into the overall user experience:, the process, physical environment and people who impact the users and the choices they make.

 

6.   The experience a user undergoes to evaluate, adopt, advocate, endorse, recommend a service must be seamless and elegant, and should be easy to communicate to friends and groups. And collaboration between marketing, sales, management and engineering is even more important to deliver this experience.

7.   There must be an efficient process for customers to easily adjust and communicate parameters and requirements, as well as a process and methodology for providers to efficiently and sustainably deliver these customized services.

8.   Bonding is now an element of the decision-making process, so it is more important to identify and speak to the needs of niche customer groups as well as individual customers, and creating and leveraging social media and community development and support abilities will be more important as you do so.

9.   Content matters. Service marketing must communicate the core technology offering, as well as the range of customized adaptations of what you could do with the core technology, and speak in a vocabulary and voice a customer will understand. And this must hold true for each niche audience.

10.  Social media solutions will be an integral part of success service marketing efforts. Leaders in this space such as LinkedIn, FaceBook and Twitter are strategizing on how to create and support niche communities of many different colors and stripes, and creating a value to these individuals and companies, a value worth charging for. Product/service marketing professionals would benefit from following what’s happening with these social media leaders as they consider the privacy, policy, outreach, integration and other challenges and opportunities for creating and developing these niche audiences.

Regardless of where you are in the product/service continuum, product marketing will continue to play an essential role in the success of any tech company.

Your thoughts are welcome.

Women Leading Innovation

October 15, 2012

FountainBlue’s October 12 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Women Leading Innovation. Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have a wide range of experienced and passionate panelists who provided insights, suggestions and advice for the men and women in the audience looking sparking innovation from any chair. Whether it was as part of a marketing communications, engineering, operations, program management or management team or as an outside vendor or consultant, volunteer or adviser, our panelists shared stories about stimulating and catalyzing new ways of thinking, improved thinking and processes, encouraging a more open mind set, a more inquisitive approach.

Although they represented a wide range of backgrounds, successes and interests, our panelists had much in common which positioned them to succeed in leading innovation:

  • The deep and broad technology backgrounds of our panelists have helped them bring new innovations into new projects, technologies, teams, industries and markets.
  • Their range of experience in different roles from engineering to operations to market to management, has positioned them to see how different teams approach the innovation challenge, and assisted them in overseeing innovation throughout an organization and product line.
  • Each of our panelists had current and past experience both with start-ups and with corporate teams, with companies on the rise, and companies managing a down-sizing, with teams positioned as stars, and with tiger teams on fix-it-now projects.
  • It was clear that they succeeded despite the odds, continually failed forward, and consciously integrated learnings to whatever-comes next.

They shared these thoughts about innovation:

  • Innovation is a team sport – everyone has a piece of the puzzle, the more diverse the team and thinking, the more varied the possible solutions and opportunities.
  • Respect both the disruptive new kind of innovation as well as the incremental innovations which improve existing products as well as orthogonal innovation which applies success strategies to other products, concepts, markets, etc. Too often we focus on the most disruptive innovations, thinking that this would be most profitable, but it’s often not the case, and is often the most difficult to plan for, research, and get funding for.
  • Innovation is change that creates value, not change for change’s sake.
  • Innovation is about creating the wow factor, wowing your customers with new technology, product, service this is different, approach to a problem that is new and unique way.
  • Innovation is not just about technologies, for some of the best innovations are around processes, business models, new ways of doing existing things.
  • The best innovations help specific customers get more done more easily and simply.

As our panelists expanded their experience, reputation and capabilities, the gradually tackled broader, stickier more impactful projects. They drew many conclusions from their experiences, and had the following advice:

Focus on the Customer

  • All successful innovations focus on the needs of the customer and market first. Innovation is *not* about a technology looking for a customer.
  • Before you innovate, you must know your target market, and ensure that it’s operationally feasible to deliver a solution for that market sustainably.
  • Do the market research and make sure that you know who the customer is and what the customer is looking for.
  • Note that in general, women tend to be better at anticipating the needs of the user, having empathy for the customer needs, and be more creative about how to address those needs.

See Yourself as an Innovator

  • Think of yourself as both a problem-solver and an innovator and find an innovative way to solve a problem you and your team face.
  • The more you fail and learn, the better positioned you are to take on more difficult challenges.
  • Encourage the whole person to show up at work, not just the part of you that fits your label.

Innovation as a Team Sport

  • Recruit angels advocates and devils advocates to your team, so that you’re more likely to see all sides of each issue.
  • Weave innovation and diverse thinking into day-to-day work activities.
  • Encourage respectful dissent for healthy conflict can be a root of innovation.
  • Eliminate fear, encourage big hairy audacious ideas (BHAGs), embrace failure when there’s a learning.
  • Facilitate cross-functional exposure between people from different roles, industries, levels, technologies, etc.
  • Encourage your female team members to speak up and share their idea(s) and support her when she speaks up.
  • Focus on your areas of strength, and that of your team, and partner with others to deliver a comprehensive solution.

Gender and Innovation

  • Women see product needs differently than men do, and see problem solving in a different way. So it’s important to have women on your team as you work on innovation projects.
  • Girls with supportive fathers and girls who participated in competitive sports were more likely to become women innovators.
  • Women focus more on getting a job done rather than getting credit for an idea, so more often men get the credit for an innovative idea. (Women can be encouraged to both get the job done and ensure that they get credit for the innovative idea.)

Barriers to Innovation

  • You must have the infrastructure in place before an innovation can take hold. Examples include the electric vehicle and the internet. The innovations might have been ready sooner, but without access to charging stations and/or broadband internet, mass adoption can not happen, and production would be too expensive if that can’t happen.
  • Know when to give up on an idea; find the easiest and earliest way to give up, rather than sticking around to don’t polish a turd, you can face the truth early and iterate and recover.

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We would like to thank our panelists for FountainBlue’s October 12 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Women Leading Innovation:

Facilitator Francine Gordon, FGordon and Associates

Panelist Hillary Barnhart, Senior Director, Business Operations, Applied Global Services, Applied Materials

Panelist Elisa Jagerson, CEO, Speck Design

Panelist Catherine Moore, Head of HR, Nokia Research

Panelist Leila Pourhashemi, Director Technical Services, eBay

Please also join me in joining our gracious hosts at Applied Materials.