The Only

Melissa Etheridge | audience, reach, differentiation

“There may be 300,000 of you … but I’m the only one.” Melissa Etheridge said that to the Woodstock ’94 audience (I know, I was there) as she was wrapping up her song titled “I’m the only one.” Though her song was about romance, it was also about marketing. Two directly related themes are wound-up in this quote: audience reach and differentiation. It doesn’t matter if you are a book author, software vendor or rock star. Each of us has an audience. To this audience we present something unique. Only once there is a sufficiently large audience and an undisputed differentiation will mass appeal (or even strong niche appeal) be possible. Take the case of a fitness book that landed a $1,000,000+ advance publishing deal, which in that industry is completely unheard of. Core to the publisher’s decision was that the authors had established audiences (or as the book biz … Continue reading

Handling Influencers
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A guest post by David Greer and excerpted in part from his book Wind In Your Sails. Buying power has shifted from companies to purchasers. There is too much information available today on the Internet for anyone to think they can hide information from buyers. While buyers always had a process, in the past marketers could get away without knowing those processes in exacting detail. Today you cannot market and sell without knowing how your prospects buy and what are the key drivers for them to make a change. In the middle of the sales process, strategic thinking has an incredibly important part to play. In order to understand a prospect’s buying process, you must start with the numerous stakeholders. Many of them have veto power in the process. In my book, Wind In Your Sails: Vital Strategies That Accelerate Your Entrepreneurial Success I feature the strategies that Guy Smith (head … Continue reading

Startup Kick-start

Launching a startup is like flying a small turbocharged airplane … blindfolded. Frankly, I am surprised that more founders have not ripped out their hair by the roots, which would be an unfortunate fashion choice for the growing set of female entrepreneurs. Starting a company, creating new markets, pushing viable yet brain-bending differentiations into the market can be perilous. Since marketing strategy is the topic most entrepreneurs understand the least, it is the one place they need the most help. This is why I wrote the Start-up CEO’s Marketing Manual, to provide entrepreneurs with a leg-up – to make them as smart on go-to-market strategy as they can rightfully be. I was surprised by the personal feedback I received. Though the book generated compliments, and the real-world examples in the book helped many, there is that disconnect that comes from monologue and not tying the lessons to the project at … Continue reading

Branding Three-step

Book marketing is one of the oddest, yet normal marketing jobs one can have (and this doesn’t include the rapidly evolving digital, post-book-store world Amazon created and dominates). Selling books is a good case study in the fundamentals of brand marketing. Awareness, belief and validation are all steps in the decision chain buyers have. With books, this plays out in a lot of uncommon ways, though the end goals remain the same. Starting with the author’s platform, the first step is to build awareness.  A great deal of typical PR goes into a publisher backed book, making the entire market aware that the book exists and has an alleged value or differentiation (that there is not a dimes worth of value or differentiation between typical romance novels shows that marketing can overcome reality). Pre-release excerpts from books create awareness, but also set the stage for the next mandatory book/brand market … Continue reading

Distilled Desires

“Our software is the greatest thing ever. It is disruptive and something that will make your employees happy!” That is not an exact quote, but darn close to the opening paragraph of every landing page created by newly minted marketers at Silicon Valley startups. Like most web fodder from such shops, it communicates nothing. In our infobesity age, humans have learned to scan at a nearly subconscious level. Gone are the days when a one-pager would actually be read by a prospect. People glean information based on gut-level reaction to keywords, images, colors and social indicators. In short, they read headlines. Hence, if your headline does not grab the reader’s attention in the first five seconds, the odds of them investigating further approaches zero. That headline value propositions are hugely important is not new, nor are the steps to creating them. But the urgency has multiplied. Ignoring the process for … Continue reading

Belief Branding

belief branding and snake-oil marketing

Belief is branding. The question is what forms belief. I am in the earliest of stages in creating a TED Talk, pondering the realities of what people believe and how they come to believe such. On the lower end of the ways we organize what we hold to be true are the elements of belief, knowledge and facts. Individually, humans know few facts compared to humanity’s abundance of cumulative investigation and testing. Thus most of what we shaved apes use to guide our daily activities are either knowledge (acquaintance/familiarity with facts, truths, or principles) or belief (opinion or conviction). Living life this way is perfectly reasonable since omniscience is a rare commodity in this world (despite what politicians say about themselves). The more one has belief, the less one need depend on facts. Every snake oil salesman elected or otherwise, creates a sense of belief. Medicine show pitchmen made rural … Continue reading

Nothing’s Dead

“Trade shows are dead. Magazines are dead. Direct mail is dead.” Sometimes I think young marketers are dead, but only from the neck up. When I coach startups, I often hear their leaders and even their marketing staff push back on old school promotional channels. One outfit, with series-A funding even, was dead set on using only social media … to sell to a broad set of non-tech CxOs for a high dollar technology offering. When I mentioned these targeted CxOs might be more easily targeted and reached via direct mail the startup’s CEO came close to stroking-out on me … and he was only 30 years old. Trade shows aren’t dead, though they are still expensive. Magazines aren’t dead, though many are shifting to digital. Direct mail isn’t dead as my mailbox attests daily. The fact is all modes of reaching a prospect are valid. The choice falls to … Continue reading