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Posts Tagged ‘Marketing’

One of the most frequently voiced complaints I hear about marketing is that it’s “squishy.”  People have trouble drawing a connection between the research, branding, positioning and communications that we do into real-world, value creating action.  One of my favorite illustrations of how a company successfully has translated “theory” into “action” is a recent advertising campaign from Symantec.  

The messaging in the advertising focuses on the customer – what their concerns and fears might be surrounding security.  Then, they created scenarios that illustrate their fears — but not in a frightening way.  Instead, they opted for entertainment value to create memorable scenarios that drive home their key messages without intimidating their viewers.

The TV commercials in the campaign showcase scenarios of cybercrime (watch them here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avG0Eh-Uq2g).  For example, in “The Bank of Nikolai” you meet Nikolai, a cyber thief.  He tells you that he has a bank, it’s very safe and if you give him your money, it will be very safe — “right here, in my front pocket.”  The video closes with Symantec’s key message for that commercial — a statistic about cybercrime, “Cybercrime has now surpassed illegal drug trafficking as a criminal moneymaker.” 

Symantec effectively created an entire series of these commercials that showcase their key messages.  They have been very effective in communicating these messages in an entertaining way and on a medium (YouTube) that makes it easy to forward the video to your friends.

Symantec did one thing very well — they focused on translating all that research, positioning and messaging into something tangible that created value for their company.  Bravo!

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It’s been a while since my last blog post, and that’s because I’ve been in the process of publishing my new ebook!

I am truly excited to announce the publication of  “Before the Brand: Using Positioning and Messaging to Build Brand Identity.” 

Think about it.  How is your brand perceived?  Unless you consciously define your brand, your customers will create their own perception. This book helps you take control of your brand by defining what your brand is before your marketplace does.  It contains a step-by-step process to create positioning, value propositions and messaging, making it much easier to influence customer perception of your brand.

To learn more, or to purchase a copy ($10 USD), click here.

And there is another change you may have noticed.  My blog brand has changed from “Marketing Magic” to “Before the Brand.”  I’ve had so much interest in the intricacies of positioning and messaging that I’ve evolved this blog to cover that topic more fully.  In upcoming posts, you will learn:

  • How to create a value proposition
  • How to manage brand perception
  • How to position your product
  • What the difference is between vision statements and mission statements
  • …. and much, much more!

I’m pleased to bring my subscribers new, useful tools to help them in their day-to-day work.  Go forth, and make your mark!

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In this series of posts, I’m reviewing how to conduct a messaging process.  On August 4, I presented Stage 3 of the messaging process, Finalize and Validate.  It was focused on finalizing your brand and message architecture and validating it’s messaging with a test group.  Today, I discuss what do to next — get the word out through Evangelism.

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Evangelism is a term that became part of the high technology lexicon when Apple Computer introduced it’s developer evangelism organization in the ’80’s.  It’s mission wasn’t just to get the word out – it was to engage the software developer community so completely that Apple became a religion to them.  Do you think it worked?

Getting the Word Out – Tactics

You’ll need to get the message out to audiences inside your organization as well as the target audiences outside your organization.

Internally, you’ll need to gauge the scope of your message and who is affected.  In some cases, you’ll want the entire company to know.  In others, only select groups, like marketing, product management and customer service.  Consider carefully how you are going to communicate to these audiences.  Will it be at a group meeting?  Will it be via Web conference or email?

For external audiences, your marketing and PR folks will be able to take the ball — they do this for a living.  Marketing people will incorporate the messages into printed materials, tradeshows & events, and online properties.  PR folks will set up media and analyst briefings, press releases, and social media distribution.  

Then comes the question – how do you deliver the new messaging?  The only people that should receive the actual brand and message architectures you created would be your marketing and PR organizations.  This is because the format and content of the architectures are exactly what they need to incorporate the messaging into their communications materials. 

For other audiences, it’s a different story – literally.  You’ll want to weave a story appropriate to each audience.  The questions that these audiences will have are:

  • Why did you create this messaging – what is the history?
  • How does it relate to me (in sales, customer service, product management, etc.)?
  • Why do I care?  What will the impact be on me and my job?
  • What do I do with the new messaging?

In other words, you need to put the new messaging in context and “connect the dots” for each audience to show them why the new messaging is relevant to them and will make them successful.

If you do this — you will be successful.

Getting the word out will have tactical components, yes.  But do you need them to feel a sense of urgency, exhilaration and excitement — so that you can create momentum and carries your organization into something greater?

Getting the Word Out – WooWoo Mojo

To take you from “getting the word out” to “evangelism” you need to engage your audiences by appealing to their emotions.  If you do that, the message will take on viral power and spread much more quickly and pervasively.

There are several ways to appeal to emotions. 

One is to give your audience the sense that they are participating in something greater than themselves.  Something that is so compelling that they feel they must engage.  From the disaster of Apollo 13 (“Failure is not an option!”) to the U.S. Revolutionary War (“We have not yet begun to fight!”) to enlisting the altruism of a generation (“Ask not what your country can do for you…”), history is filled with examples of this kind of motivation.

Another way to appeal to the emotions is to rollout the showmanship and drama.  Yes, drama.  Put on a show, turn a phrase, create some excitement.  Steven Jobs is a master of this.  But so are Tony Robbins, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page and Sergey Brin — all of these personalities excel at creating a sense of “I better get on board now or I’m gonna miss out!”

What will your audiences miss out on if they don’t step up?  Share it with them — with a little flash and razzmatazz.  Then, watch what happens.  Who knows?  That ball may never stop rolling….

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In my role as marketing practice lead at Phoenix Consulting group, I just completed a project with a top Silicon Valley software company, where we put together a partner value proposition for them.

Some of my top blog posts center on how to put together a value proposition, so I know this is a hot topic for my readers.  Taking value propositions to the next level in complexity is creation of a value proposition that works for partners, vendors and customers alike.  The principal of PhoenixCG, Norma Watenpaugh, has developed a methodology for creating these partner value propositions and she is my guest blogger today.  Today’s blog entry is the second part of a two part series.  Read part one here, posted June 24.  You can read more about PhoenixCG at www.phoenixcg.com. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Building Win-Win-Win Partner Value Propositions

Case Example: Global Systems Integrator

by Norma Watenpaugh, Principal, PhoenixCG

A global systems integrator teamed with a large service provider carrier to provide end-to-end application hosting services.  The service provider was losing business and customer confidence due to poor performance and execution.  There was a shortage of skilled expertise in delivery of hosting services and deploying business applications. There was also a lack of formalized processes and procedures for implementation.

In joining forces with a systems integrator, the service provider’s organization was augmented with an influx of additional skilled resources and best practices in client services management, governance, business process management, and transformation management.  The carrier provided the network and computing infrastructure, system monitoring and maintenance.  Both took joint responsibility for change management and end to end service management.  The value proposition for this alliance was clearly defined for all stakeholders and in all three value dimensions:

  • Solution value to the customer was recognized in increase of services delivery quality. Problems were solved before deployment through assessment services, resulting in increased customer satisfaction and increased customer retention.
  • Financial value was recognized in more services delivered to the customer and greater profitability through less problematic service delivery that ate up resources to correct.
  • Sales value was demonstrated in an improved win-rate through increased customer confidence by the combined resources of both companies. This of course added to the financial value in terms of incremental new business.

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In my next post, I’ll continue discussing the messaging process and will review it’s second phase, the Strategy Workshop.

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When I speak with marketing professionals, one of the chief benefits that they point to in implementing a messaging process is that it helps them align their organizations around one message architecture.  And when one message architecture is in place, it’s much easier to get the organization moving in the same direction.

But how do you get all these executives, influencers, company employees and partners aligned?  Just what are the mechanics of the messaging process?

The messaging process has four steps:

  1. Gather the Team
  2. Establish a Schedule
  3. Execution Phases:
    • Discovery
    • Team Strategy Workshop
    • Messaging Validation
  4. Evangelism

1.  Gather the Team

When gathering a team together, it’s best to select and involve the team members based upon role, and to define roles in relationship to the messaging process, rather than relationship to the company.  For most projects, team roles boil down to (in order of depth of contribution):  Team Leaders, Core Team, Extended Team and Influencers.  This implies a hierarchy of importance by role and helps prioritize the weight given to input and involvement for each team member. 

For example, you may have a particular customer who has been extremely active in defining a new product or category – plus they just “get” your business.  You really want their active participation in the project and will weigh their input heavily when crafting the final messaging.  In that case, you may assign them to the Extended or even the Core team. 

On the other hand, you may have a powerful executive within your company.  You need to include them in the process, but their input just won’t be that hands-on.  Therefore, you may opt to assign them to the Extended team or even as an Influencer.

2.  Establish a Schedule

The complexity of your project schedule varies according to complexity of the messaging project, such as how many people are involved, how many brands need to be positioned, and how complex a messaging hierarchy is required.

It makes sense to break the schedule out to align with the Execution Phases of the process:  Discovery, Strategy Workshop, and Messaging Validation.

3.  Execution Phases

There are three execution phases to the messaging process:  Discovery, Team Strategy Workshop and Messaging Validation.  The execution phases involve a lot of tasks, people and documents, so it’s helpful to use some sort of project management tool to help you manage the project.

I’ve developed what I call a Project Navigator, which I would post to my blog as a file, except, my blog subscription doesn’t let me post files.  So, instead, let me just tell you what’s in it, and you can create your own.

Tool:  Project Navigator

Using Microsoft® Excel™, create a series of tabs at the bottom of the document — basically, you’re creating worksheets.  On these, I put:

  1. Project Schedule:  A high-level schedule for the project itself.
  2. Roles & Contacts:  Tracks the role of each team member and their contact information.
  3. Status by Team Member:  Tracks what each team member is contributing and status.
  4. Bibliography:  Provides a repository (bibliography) of all inputs, such as presentations, videos, books, web site articles, etc., and their sources.

It’s a great little tool but you’d be surprised the big impact it can have.  Just tracking the bibliography of inputs can be daunting, especially on enterprise projects.  Plus, in the end, this tool demonstrates what went into the project for anyone who needs to know.

In my next post, I’ll break down the steps to the Discovery phase in the execution of a messaging process.

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Customers don’t buy a bag of parts; they buy a solution to their problem. Companies that go to market around a point product often find they are out maneuvered by competition that offers more complete solutions created through well-orchestrated partner ecosystems.  On June 10, I will conduct a Web seminar in which we will discuss how to develop ecosystem strategies around customer needs, and how to go-to-market effectively with a bigger solution footprint than is possible on your own. This Web seminar will also cover the risks, rewards, and challenges of managing these complex collaborations and — in today’s customer-centric market — how to leverage social media with your partner community.

Join us June 10!

Event Title Date/Time/Format Pricing
Go to Market through Partner Ecosystem

  • Ecosystem Strategies
  • Going to Market
  • Portfolio Mgmt
  • Managing competition within the ecosystem
June 10, 2010 9:00-10:30
Webcast
More info Register now
Member $25
Nonmember
$49

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In my last few posts I’ve been writing about building a messaging document, what it is used for, and what the components are.  A  messaging document is distributed  to customer-facing representatives or employees who will be communicating about the topic you are presenting (a program, launch announcement or technology, for example).  These customer-facing representatives could be company executives, PR agencies, sales and marketing people, customer service representatives, and the like.

How Partner Messages are Different

Partner messages are intended for organizations with whom you have a relationship — whether it is negotiated, regulated, or casual.  In the high tech industry, for instance, it’s common to have technology agreements with other organizations that either influence or own the solution you will ultimately deliver to your customer.  In many cases, companies have sales relationships with other companies, commonly referred to as sell-through, sell-with, sell-to or meet-in-the-channel relationships. 

The intended audience for these messages are partners.  So, the first question to ask is: 

  • What types of partners do we have? 

The reason you ask this question is because each type of partner has different things they care about (or “care-abouts” as my colleagues often say).  The messages you create would then need to answer the following questions:

  • What partner care-abouts does it impact or resolve? What should happen to the partner as a result?
  • How will the partner benefit or make money?
  • How will it help/benefit the partner’s customer?
  • How will it affect the partner’s relationship with you?
  • What is the impact on the industries in which you and your partner go-to-market?

User Stories as the Tipping Point

But the most important thing you can do in any partner message is include user stories or testimonials about how the announcement you are making has worked with a partner and the partner’s customer.  User stories give the announcement credibility and make the announcement real. 

Why is this essential?  Because, unfortunately, often-times companies will make an announcement, create a lot of excitement about it — but ulitmately fail to execute on the promises they are making.  Partners come in all sort of “flavors,” from big, to small, to industry-specific, but one thing they all have in common is that they are tightly monitoring where they invest their resources.  If the announcement you are making requires any resources to implement (such as training of consultants or other financial investments), partners are going to think two or three times before the commit to it.  User stories are often the tipping point for early adoption by the partner, because it tells them that it’s worth the time and investment to commit to it.

Thank you to Norma Watenpaugh for her contribution to this post!

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