February 24, 2018

Rise Austin 2013 Presentation – How to Create Products That Don’t Suck

PeopleFund Innovation Week – How to Create Products That Customers Really Want to Buy

Mistake #5 – A Market Message for Everyone is No Message at All

One of the challenges a company of any size (but especially start-ups and early stage companies) faces as they launch  a new product is to communicate a clear consistent message to the market.   The following are a couple of scenarios that I have seen where companies fail to do this.

  • As a start-up, you are trying to close those early sales and your desperate to find anyone that will listen to you and so you change your story based upon what you think they want to hear, so that each person has a unique perspective of what your company does and nobody in the market really knows what you do.
  • You know that your product can meet the needs of multiple markets, so to make things simple, you create a story and messages that you think apply to all markets.   When you do this, you end up with a message that doesn’t resonate with anyone.
  • Senior level executives have not been properly briefed on the right story and message (or they have been briefed, but they’re the founder and can say what they want), so when speaking in the market, they might make statements the that imply that your products do things they really don’t do or can be sold into markets for which they are not ready, and then the marketing team has to play spin-master to cleanup the mess.

So the end result is that your try to be everything to everyone, but in reality, you have no message at all.

The starting point for correcting this problem is defining a clear messaging platform.

  1. Target Markets & Positioning:  The number one set of decisions is choosing your target market segments and determining how you will position your product in each market segment.  As a start-up, you have limited resources and you can not afford to pursue all market segments, so you must focus on the 1 or 2 market segments that give you the best chance of success.   As your grow, you can expand into additional market segments, but you must still proactively choose those market segments.
  2. Buyers & Influencers:  The second set of decisions is clearly defining the buyer and influencer roles in each target market.  Define who is the economic buyer, technical buyer, influencers and users.
  3. Targeted Messages:  Finally, you want to create messages that are specific to each buyer role in each target market.  This is important because it is much more powerful when you communicate a message that is specific to your target buyer v. trying to communicate a generic message that might fit all (which it doesn’t).   You market messages must support and defend your positioning in the market (Point #1).
  4. Consistency of Message:  Make sure that all market facing personnel understand these messages and their target audiences to that they use them appropriately and consistently.

For more on creating compelling messages, please see my presentation below.


Do You Suffer From Marketing Narcissism?

I learned a great new term several weeks ago in my most recent “From Napkin to Revenue” Workshop, I want to share this with you because it really gets to the root of so many product and marketing mistakes that companies make.  That word is:  Marketing Narcissism!   (Thanks David Orshalick for sharing that).

What is Marketing Narcissism?

Marketing Narcissism is doing marketing that is all about you, your company or your product.  Over the years, I have seen many examples of this.   This includes: Powerpoint presentations that start out speaking about how great your company is, marketing materials that talk about the executive team and their years of experience, advertisements that talk about how great your location is, descriptions of all of the features and functions your product can do, etc, etc.  While this information about your company or product can be useful at some point to establish credibility or proof, customers and prospects do not want to hear you brag about yourself.

What do customers want to know?

Customers and prospects want to know  that you understand them and the challenges they are facing and that your company can help them solve those challenges.  Our marketing messages need to be about them and not about us.

Marketing Narcissism in your products

Let me extend the definition of Marketing Narcissism beyond marketing messages and apply it to the products and services that we create and deliver to our customers.  When we create products or services that want to create (which occurs most of the time) versus creating products and services that our customers need to address their problems and challenges, we are practicing another form of Marketing Narcissism.

How to overcome Marketing Narcissism

To overcome Marketing Narcissism, we first need to speak with customers or potential customers and understand the challenges they are facing and the problems that they want to solve.  Then we create products or services that effectively address those challenges or solve their problems.   And then finally, we communicate marketing messages that speak about our customers/prospects and not about us.  In each of these steps, we go back to our customers (or potential customers) and test our ideas and messages with them to make sure that our products and messages resonate with them.

So remember, it’s not about us,

it’s about the Customer!