By APNWLNS payday loans
January 31, 2012
One synonym for booth is stall, which is what a trade show booth should do.
At Mac World last week, very few booths made attendees stall.
The purpose of a tradeshow booth (or any promotion) is to make attendees believe that you have something of value to offer. Well targeted trade shows provide great opportunities to put value propositions in front of potential customers, many of whom have thought-leadership roles given that in this recession they are the only ones with budget to attend shows. Yet an average trade show booth rarely communicates more than the booth manager not understanding how to nail audience attention.
When planning to exhibit, you have to ask yourself “what attracts the attention of this group of people.” At Mac World, my wife noticed a cluster of highly attractive women in tight fitting and very abbreviated dresses at one booth, and instantly realized their ability to attract attention (despite my consciously looking the other way). When attendees are strolling down a trade show aisle, you have less than five seconds to get their attention. Even if you get their attention, you then have to keep it while communicating reasons they should risk a chat with your sales people.
In other words you are must clearly communicate relevant value to folks with abbreviated attention spans (they are to busy staring at the booth babes).
This changes for every show and for every phase of market acquisition. Back when Silicon Strategies Marketing was helping SuSE Linux gain their undisputed standing in the market, we guided their communication through several tradeshows and phases of market education, orchestrating an end-run around Red Hat. At one phase, it was critical to demonstrate strategic alliances with major vendors. As the photo shows, banners over the SuSE booth were bragged about relationships with IBM, AMD, Oracle and others. Our targeting was so effective that we had attendees in our booth, listening to integration presentations after the show closed and venue crews were rolling-up the carpets.
To gain this level of trade show connection, you need to use graphics that communicate your key value propositions, or at least attract attention and compliment value proposition words that appear on your booth. If you don’t get their attention, you lose. If you can’t quickly communicate your value, you lose. If the value you communicate is not well targeted, you lose.
Given how expensive exhibiting is, you better not lose.
January 24, 2012
Start-up founder eyes cross when I ask “what is your segmentation model.”
I often must resort to CPR to revive them.
It is not that the concept is unfamiliar to them. Nor are they shocked into stuttering zombies due to weak mental stamina. It is that segmenting markets is unnatural to them, and often practiced in aberrant ways that make politics look savory by comparison. It is the unnatural aspect which throws both novice and veteran entrepreneurs.
Image using industry verticals to segment the iPhone market, and you’ll instantly understand why some segmentation models are unnatural.
(Brief war story: I once consulted to a firm that had a huge IPO, and then saw their basic business model crumble. During the initial consultation preparing them to enter a new market, I asked “What is your market segmentation model?” They reported it was based on industry verticals, which seemed odd to me. I asked why they selected industry verticals and their CEO said “Well, it is as good as any other segmentation model.”)
My dictionary defines a segment as “one of the parts into which something naturally separates.” Natural is the key to market segmentation. There are many factors for selecting a market segmentation model, but buried in Silicon Strategies’ dozen steps and six key criteria, the natural basis for evaluating competing products is fundamental. Different segments have different needs, priorities, expected outcomes and communication modes. These begin to define the natural segments within a market, and they all start by understanding in reasonable detail customers, marginal customers and non-customers.
One case study concerns a software development platform vendor that came to Silicon Strategies Marketing a few years back. They too were leaning on unnatural segmentation models, and getting unnatural results. Through our review process, we listed and eliminated many market segmentation schemes that did not meet key criteria from the customer perspective, which in a word were natural fits. For this specific product, we discovered that one of the two primary segmentation vectors was the average software project team size and locality. Industry verticals, development languages and even the formality of the development cycle were less relevant than the size of the coding team.
When selecting your market segmentation model, never use a default. Doing so sinks massive resources and time into chasing non-customers, or creating totally irrelevant messages and value propositions. Seeing the market from the perspective of a wide set of customers, and mapping how they relate to products and one another, unmasks segmentation options and shoves you down the path of chasing viable buyers.
It is the best way to get your slice of the pie.
January 16, 2012
Have you had an overload of content yet? Don’t worry … you will.
For all the great things our Internet enabled interconnections have given us, we pay by receiving gobs of completely useless content, most of which is apparently generated by green marketers and my Facebook friends. The number of bytes per second received by today’s average wired human now exceeds the number of bytes per second sent by all the world’s mainframes in the 1960s. Marketing content — especially HTML layered ads — is devolving into poorly targeted noise that is more aggravating than accepted.
People are tuning out in the same way they learned how not to watch TV commercials by 1958.
Advertising noise has always been problematic for marketers, and the Internet in some ways is making it worse. Since marketers are responsible for much of this noise, they are creating their own problem. For any message to be heard, it has to get past the noise in exactly the same way as a whisper has to be close and personal to be heard in a noisy bar. As the Internet noise level rises, savvy marketers will narrow and target their outreach. To do so, they will need to focuses on three things that make messages viable:
Precision: Messages have to be precise, which means they must succinctly communicate value. Vague targeting, abstract language, and even too many words keep people from hearing what you have to say (which is why most people can’t stay awake during a politician’s stump speech).
Value: Value propositions have to be compelling to well-targeted audiences. Failure to communicate value provides motivation to quit paying attention. One clear statement about why your product is valuable will cut through 1,000 glitzy and wordy pitches from your competitors.
Incremental: Using your landing page to tell every buyer genotype everything about your product creates both confusion and frustration. Like dating, the processes is one of incremental familiarity. Giving the right message, to the right person at the right time in their buying decision process eliminates noise fatigue.
Content flooding provides little aside from keyword litter and generally poor leads. Precise, succinct, highly targeted and step-wise messages creates paying customers.
January 9, 2012
“That’s a dumb differentiation,” was what one bootstrapped founder said to another after both their investor pitches plummeted.
Differentiation, the unholy grail of product marketing, shows that most people have unrealistic notions about what it is. In pure form, differentiation is anything that makes your product different. In practical form it is the difference that causes people to buy your products and not ones from your competitors. Just because your product is different doesn’t mean anyone wants it.
Indeed there are three basic things that can be called differentiation. A product or feature can be different from everybody else’s, it can be better or it can be new. Yet, just because your product/feature is different doesn’t mean anyone wants those differences. Just because your product/feature is better doesn’t mean that people need it to be better, or you may not be â€˜better enough’ to motivate customers switching to your offering. And new products (say pink men’s Speedos) might be a new thing, but it is doubtful you will sell many units.
You must create differentiation that matches the desired, unmet and often unknown outcomes of your target customers. The overlap between what they want to accomplish and how your product is different is where sales begin. All too often, techie founders will dream-up differentiations without sound insight into the precise customer desires and degree of demand for them. In some cases the invention/feature imprecisely matches what customers want. Other times the match is precise … for the 37 people that want that particular feature.
Either inaccuracy means wasted effort for no reward.
Two market research steps create solid foundations on which to build products. Qualitative research seeks to understand what customers may want. My particular favorite approach are deep interviews with non-customers (interviewing content customers often yields nothing). Trained interviewers detect points of customer frustration, and then guide the conversation to explore the source of the angst. Once a point of motivation is discovered, surveying determines if enough people share the same frustration and want a similar solution. When done in this order, creation of differentiation is almost automatic (though we always suggest testing proposed product/feature solutions to assure it is architected correctly).
It isn’t enough to have differentiation. It has to be meaningful, otherwise your company won’t be.
January 2, 2012
Avoiding bad markets is half the battle.
Annually I see multiple software vendors pitching products designed to improve the performance of computers, databases or networks. With few exceptions, these tools disappear within two years because the underlying commodity (computer server, network connection or DBMS) becomes faster and cheaper. One of the most common technology and marketing mistakes is to create a product for an industry that will inevitably correct the problem.
Take home Internet connections (please, take mine and bring me FttP). Long, long ago — about 20 years back — having a 4,800 baud modem for connecting to the Internet was considered state of the art and painfully slow (recent college CS graduates may have to look-up archaic words like â€˜baud’ and â€˜modem’). Without fail, once every quarter, someone pitched a software solution for raising the data transfer rate across antiquated telephone technologies. The following quarter a faster modem would become the new standard and obviate the software solution. Modems were eventually replaced with cable, then by 3G wireless, then fiber to the premises, then 4G wireless … well, you get the picture. The providers of personal network connections knew what people disliked most about their service (namely having to wait for anything) and kept advancing the product while simultaneously eliminating software speed-ups.
Hence, the classic marketing mistake is to create a product destined for rapid obsolescence. Riding a commodity wave is a fine way to make money, but trying to sell patches to limitations of a commodity that can be fixed by the providers is fast fiscal suicide.
Understanding this method of mistake leads to understanding innovation and value, which brings us around nicely to marketing and where it fits into the process. “Innovation” is, by etymology, something new (from Latin innovatus, from in- “into” + novus “new.”). Software accelerators and their crippled cousins are by definition something old. To be new requires being something unanticipated by the market. This still is a rather broad notion. Early iPods were not new given that MP3 players had been around for quite some time, and the notion of portable music had existed since transistor radios. But Apple marketed iPods as fonts of spiritual liberation, and that was new (along with white ear bugs, slicker case design, etc). Marketing cannot by itself innovate, since innovations requires the unique human insight that aggregates what is possible (engineering) with what people want to achieve. Marketing contributes by assessing what people want to achieve, and then validating product concepts before build commitments are made.
No amount of survey triangulation will create inspiration.
Inbound marketing adds to the base of knowledge that feeds inspiration and innovation. Though Steve Jobs was not a fan of focus groups during product development, they remain great vehicles for discovering what people are frustrated about or wish to achieve, which can lead to innovation moments. More directly, market research can unmask gaps between competitor offerings and the expected outcomes of buyers. Such investigations lead to +1 value points that decide what company dominates their segment or market.
Most important though is knowing where not to go. Since the probability of success equals one minus the probability of failure [ P(s) = 1 - P(f) ] not failing is always your first mission and not entering doomed markets eliminates a lot of potential failure.