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

Learning From Experience

My father once said “Always try to learn from other people’s mistakes. It saves you a bunch of time.” But he could have also said “Learn from other people’s success. It saves you a bunch of pain.” When looking for mentorship, finding someone who has proven themselves and whose advice goes against conventional thinking is a good tactic. My friend Ray Zinn is that mentor. It is hard to understate what Ray has accomplished in business … and in life. He founded a semiconductor company in Silicon Valley without venture capital. He ran that company as the visionary founder for 37 years. He was profitable the very first year, and for every year thereafter (except for one year during the dot-com era meltdown, and the one “unprofitable” year was due largely to a write-down for shuttering an extra fabrication facility). His company had the lowest employee turn-over rate in his industry, and likely … Continue reading

Honesty is one of the better policies

A young immigrant entrepreneur is quoted as having once said “You want to lose all of your customers? Lie to one of them.” Like most axioms, it is a battle hardened truth that the next generation enjoys ignoring, just as the previous generation did (and no, that is not an intentional dig at one of the elder presidential candidates, though this shoe fits snugly). All relationships are built on trust, including the primal relationship of commerce. Where our immigrant entrepreneur zeroed-in on reality is the all-and-everything mechanics of integrity, branding and markets. His conclusion was that if you lied to one customer, he or she would communicate to your others. This 20th century businessman, who landed in America before the First World War, understood buzz marketing, or at very least negative buzz. Give one person a reason to disbelieve you and soon everyone will. When members of an industry routinely … Continue reading

That’s Different!

lady gaga marketing differentiation

When Lady Gaga donned a meat dress, people said “That’s … errr … different.” Differentiation is what drives both companies and products, which means differentiation is one of the most import things to occupy your attention immediately after corporate cash flow and the last donut in the break room. Being different is a communication of value, and value is what people pay for. Yet, not all differentiation is equal and not all differentiation is sustainable (e.g. Madonna). Product differentiation is the easier to understand, and oddly the less valuable of the two. When your product is different in a way that matches the needs or desires of a targeted audience, then sales are sped. But product differentiation is short lived, even if you have patents. The differentiation you invent today will be cloned by your competitors tomorrow. Likewise, there are differing … Continue reading

Complex Collapse

Bank of America really doesn’t want to make money. Well, that’s not true, but their technology seems to be designed to chase customers away. I say this after having sent error pages and bug reports to several people in the BofA mortgage division. During a second attempt at refinancing an investment property (the first attempt bombed due to internal, human process malfunctions at BofA) I was stopped by their technology for sending me email. Yes, email. BofA has implemented a byzantine email apparatus, seemingly invented by Rube Goldberg, for sending messages to loan applicants. The system: … Continue reading

Marketing Expectations

Marketing sets expectations, creating a gap between customer desire and results

Your customers expect what you tell them to expect, and what you don’t tell them to. Outbound marketing is largely about setting customer expectations, which we do through branding, messaging, feeds-and-speeds lists, pricing and so much more. After encountering a product, customers have gut-level sets of expectations. Drive past a posh French restaurant and a dirty taco truck, and you have two completely different expectations concerning your culinary experience. Where bad and good buzz begins is when you set one expectation and deliver another. Set expectations low and deliver high, then people sing your praises everywhere. Invert the expectations and results and you likewise invert a customer’s public reaction. Marketing is responsible for defining those expectations, and presenting most of them (every employee who interacts with customers is also responsible, and great CEOs make sure they all set the right expectations). Marketing defines the brand – a primary expectation-setting tool … Continue reading

Coaxing Channels

I love complex markets that require collaboration with strategic partners, industry groups and channels. It is an exotic form of auto-masochism. Marketing requires appealing to byer motivations. But you are often not the only, or even the primary person delivering the marketing message. Intermediaries may deal more directly with end buyers than you. Yet for the buyer to receive a consistent message, perceive a consistent brand or believe a consistent value proposition, these outside organizations have to carry your message, value props and brand identities. Not being your employees, they have to be coaxed with something other than the possibility of instant unemployment. Intermediaries can either be … Continue reading