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

Coaxing Channels

channel-messaging

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

Needy Wants

Giving a customer what they want can be a bad thing. Long ago, I was on both the product management and product marketing side of some new technology. We had a few early adopter customers. One in particular was very engaged, right down to near daily communing with our software architect. Like all customers, he had a wish list of features and functions he wanted the product to sprout. Unlike most customers, he had money to spend. I had to turn down a lot of his feature requests, sponsored or not. There is a difference between what customers want and what they need. There is even a difference between what one customer needs and what every customer needs. Creating products based on wants becomes a stress-inducing cycle of unicorn hunting that never works. While trying desperately to create the perfect product for one or two customers, typically for the sake … Continue reading

Simply Stupid

B2B tech buyers are not stupid, so don't over simplify your messaging

Complexity creates friction, which if you are lucky, only drags out the sales cycle. More often than not, it kills sales. In B2B technology marketing, many solutions are complex and loaded with customer risk. The more complex the solution, the more friction is built into the sales process. Marketing’s primary job is to reduce friction, which means reducing complexity. Simplifying – distilling complex topics into focused value propositions and content – is the first order of business. Just don’t over simplify, especially for the wrong person. B2B technology sales typically involve several buyer personae (genotypes) that have different friction-generating concerns. Simplifying all content and applying it to every audience creates more friction, not less, because every genotype is left uninformed. Creating one piece of content for the CIO, CTO, server administrator, developer and third shift operator will educate none of them Likewise, even if content targets only one genotype, over-simplifying … Continue reading

Marketing Fail

Marketing jobs have the shelf life of milk. In the tech industry, marketing people move around a lot. Unlike code cutters, their skills can be well used up to the limits of their experience, then they see little incremental improvement from their activities. Seeing the end of a good run, they look for other companies – smaller in size, with new products, or just something exciting. Other times they get fired. Marketing can fail. What confounds many in management is which part of marketing failed and why. Marketing is both strategy and execution, and are typically carried-out by different people or teams. When sales are slow, management wants to know why and occasionally even marketing cannot (or will not) clearly identify what is not working. Obfuscating marketing malfunctions has become more difficult in the digital age because we can measure what is and is not succeeding, at least at the … Continue reading

Pointed Communications

trade Show Booth - Crowd Watching Presentation While Carpets Being Rolled-up

A relative of mine tells her stories … for hours … before ending them with her point. Good thing she isn’t in marketing. Get to the point quickly, then fill in the gaps. I was recently reminded of this while being a judge for the CODiE awards. I think I’m in my 573rd year of being a CODiE judge. The contestant’s presenter launched into a live demo of the product without summarizing what the product did much less its key value propositions. Thankfully he skipped the all-too-common dozen or so slides providing background about the company and other snore generators. He was like my relative, all too eager to tell his story as opposed to telling me why I should care. With attention spans shrinking fast as content explodes, getting to the point becomes ever more important. Telling people why they should care up front causes them to care. When … Continue reading

Branded Lies

If you want to destroy a brand, just lie a little. Some recent political news (on which I won’t elaborate to avoid ruffling friendly feathers) is a case study in bad marketing by incorrectly setting the market’s expectations and misleading buyers. This is a cardinal sin in the Marketing religion, and those guilty of the sin will burn in the pits of unemployment lines. All relationships are built on trust, and all transactions are relationships. Even small one. When you buy a candy bar at the corner store, you trust that the reported weight is close to accurate, the contents are faithfully reported, that the snack isn’t poisonous and that the store has not substituted inferior goods. That’s a lot of trust behind a 50¢ transaction and fleeting relationship. Had any of those trust points been violated, you would never again buy that candy bar or shop at that store. … Continue reading