Category Archives: Leadership

Presenting to VCs? Here are 5 rules to improve your chance of being invited back

Making your business case to venture capitalists is a very important step for any entrepreneur or startup executive. As you might expect, most VC pitches don’t go as well as they might. Based on many years of experience, here are 5 rules that will help you put your best foot forward. Continue reading

How advisory boards are guiding executives to the marketing high ground

The customer advisory board (CAB) is quickly becoming a popular tool for aligning a company’s vision and product direction with the needs and priorities of its best customers. If your company is thinking about sponsoring a CAB, or if you want to compare how companies are using theirs to achieve competitive advantage, check out my new two-volume set of guidebooks about CABs.
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Tools and templates to empower your marketing team

Summer is the time for reflection and assessment. As many marketers will soon be embarking on offsites and exercises to plan for the next fiscal year, I wanted to know what best practices my readers might share in how they’ve been able to accelerate their planning process and energize their team. Here are just a few of their insights. Continue reading

What’s the profile of the most effective marketing campaign managers?

The Role of the Campaign Manager -- a new mini-guidebook for marketers

Nothing can hinder the success of an integrated marketing campaign (and your ability to claim the high ground) faster than an unseasoned campaign manager. So, what exactly is the role of the campaign manager and what is the profile of the most effective campaign managers? This guidebook answers these questions and provides helpful tips that can accelerate the campaign development process, navigate internal politics, and produce better results. Continue reading

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy what you believe.”

I’ve been watching Simon Sinek giving a TED talk. This phrase comes from him. And I love it. This dovetails exactly with the positioning statement.

What he says in 20 minutes, speaks volumes about good, product positioning and meaningful customer-ready messaging. He paints a picture he calls “the golden circle” that includes the What, How, and Why of a company’s reason for being. Most companies, he says, are very familiar with “what” they do. They are even good at understanding “how” they do it. But, when it comes to “why” they do what they do, there is a pause. What’s their purpose? What are the beliefs that drives a company to do what it does? Are they in business just to make money, or are they driven by a belief shared by all employees?

He shares an example contrasting Gateway with Apple. Both companies have access to capital, access to brilliant minds and innovative staff, and can tap into the same market conditions. Yet, the ways these two companies communicate are completely opposite. And their relevant success is obvious to everyone.

Gateway might produce marketing messages that look and feel like this:

1. We make great computers.  

2. They are simple to use and affordable . 

3. Want to buy one?

Sounds pretty bland, right? Now Apple. Their messaging might be summarized like this:

1. In everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently.

2. The way we challenge the status quo is in hiring people who share the same belief and by making products that are beautifully designed and easy to use.

3. We make computers, phones, and a variety of personal productivity tools that challenge the status quo. Want to buy one?

Where do I sign up? The secret is that Apple focuses on the “why” question first. Their message gives me something I can believe in, too. 

Simon also shares the example of Samuel P. Langley vs the Wright brothers. Langley was driven to become rich and famous and saw the invention of the airplane as a goal to achieve his wealth. Orville and Wilbur believed that flight would change the world. They didn’t work for a paycheck. They worked for a belief. This is exactly why the world knows the Wright brothers and don’t know Langley.

The lesson is clear: when you draft your company’s positioning and messaging, start with the “why”. What do you believe? Because if you don’t know, then your customers won’t either.

Marketing Blueprints in Action — put them on display

Displaying their marketing blueprints in the corporate hallways have created a tighter bond between marketing and sales. “This is real enterprise marketing,” says the company’s president. Continue reading

Coaching on the Message Box: 3 signs that you may be misusing the tool

The message box is a powerful tool that can help you construct and deliver customer-ready messaging. Yet it is not the only tool you need in your messaging arsenal. Occasionally, some marketers may be trying to use the message box technique to do too much. Here are three common signs of trouble, and what you can do to keep your messaging on track. Continue reading