Books and Brain Busting

The phrase “post-literary” scares me. It is a real term, bandied about by the intelligentsia, and speculates that people are not reading books these days. There is no question that the book market is a horrid place, one where the major publishers treat writers like chattel, only big names make big bucks, and where being a touring musician looks appealing by comparison (a common joke in the music business is that a touring musician is the only job that pays less than being homeless). Which makes the book industry a wonderful model for discussing marketing of difficult products, changing channels, and general business dystopia. Changes … bloody changes The book market has changed, but not just because Amazon said so. In North America and many industrialized nations, readership is falling. Pew Research said that in 2011, about 79% of the adult population had read a book – or at least … Continue reading

Swift Sales

Can’t say I care for Taylor Swift’s music, but her marketing skills have me tapping my toes. News broke that her latest album sold more copies in four days that Ed Sheehan’s latest album sold in seven months. Swift has, over time, amassed a large and borderline rabid fan base, who would likely buy her album in droves. Many musicians have loyal followings. Songwriter Tom Waits, who in his experimental phase was nearly unlistenable, still sold records to his very loyal fans (I have a complete collection). But Swift, understanding better than most how social media and the streaming music markets work, leveraged them all to sell over a million albums in less than a week. Some of it was traditional marketing strategy and some was exploiting new channels to drive demand. Stream not my love Swift’s fans … Continue reading

Startup Marketing Mistakes

Guy Smith speaking at Draper University on the marketing mistakes that kill startups

How do founders kill their companies? Most often by not understanding the basics of marketing strategy. I spent a pleasent hour at Draper University speaking to students about the top three ways Silicon Valley startup founders crash their own companies. Draper kindly provided video from the event, and you can watch the whole presentation.   For a full course on the basics of marketing strategy, get a copy of our book The Start-up CEO’s Marketing Manual at Amazon.com. (if you have technical difficulties watching the embeded video above, it is available at YouTube at https://youtu.be/Fly_JceiuWY). … Continue reading

Marketing is from Mars, Sales is from Venus

Some things are predictable. Politicians lie. The sun rises in the East. Sales and marketing don’t get along. The misalignment between sales and marketing is legendary to the point of cliché. The reasons are both obvious and not-so-obvious, yet all distill down to perspective. Neither sales nor marketing can change their perspective, nor would that be desirable. But one of the two teams can adapt. This will not end the misalignment, but it will increase profits. Perspective A definition of the word perspective is “the faculty of seeing relevant data in a meaningful relationship.” The gotcha word is “relevant”. What is relevant to a salesperson struggling to make their quarterly quota is different than what is relevant to a CMO trying to enhance a brand. People with different perspectives rarely unite. Airlift a rural bible-belt citizen into a San Francisco transgender convention, and there will be little shared perspectives at … Continue reading

Marketing Progress

Marketing measures their effectiveness, but should also measure organizational effectiveness as perceived from outside. The fact is that all organizations want to make progress. Too often though, progress is equated with profit. Profit is only one form of progress. To not measure more meaningful aspects of progress might lead to eventual doom. Imagine that you could report to the CEO a fantastic year. Sales up. Net profits up. Total number of customer up. But let’s also assume that you failed to measure customer satisfaction, brand loyalty or relative market position. Next year you would likely be reporting plunging sales, no profits and a bleeding customer base. Every organization wants to make progress, but you have to define what is the progress that needs making. A 10% improvement in customer satisfaction might generate 20% more sales the following year with additional marketing spend. If you have not monitored customer satisfaction, then … Continue reading

Buzz Kill

Why is everyone talking about Kim Kardashian’s rump and not your disruptive, world-changing app? So many startup marketing plans are based on building buzz, yet achieve none. The reason is that founders believe their own hype. They see the intrinsic usefulness and beauty of their products and believe that everyone else will too. Based on little more than this borderline egocentric outlook, startups rarely get people talking because they missed the point about why people talk. People talk to one another out of personal motivations. Seth Godin once presented a monstrous list of why people share ideas, which gives you a clear idea of why the motivations of your communications conduits are more important than your features and benefits. People talk about products because … Continue reading

B2B Lust

It is possible to create a passionate desire in the minds of B2B technology buyers, but beware of lustful nerds. Humans, including IT people, are of two minds, namely the practical and the desirous. We all need and want things, even in our daily jobs. Back when I was running big iron for a national retailer (my pre-marketing guru days), I had a boss who had a messianic drive to convert all of IT to UNIX. I took fiendish joy in finding the precise moments to demonstrate why it was, in the short run, foolish and extravagant, thwarting his sundry attempts to drive my proprietary platforms into non-use. But I did save the company millions in unnecessary short-term costs, so I don’t feel too bad. My boss had UNIX lust, and it overrode his objective thinking. This is a major part of consumer marketing – generating irrational desire for products. … Continue reading