Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

Content Is King

August 31, 2013

World partnership

This month’s marketing blog is part of a three-post segment on the theme of ‘The Ying-Yang of Content and Community’, following the initial post ‘Why Content Is King and Community Is Queen’. This month and next month, we will drill down into the top-ten list from the August blog and cover ‘The Key to Quality Content,’ our September blog below, and ‘Integrating Content and Community’, the October blog topic.

Engagement is the key to momentum, and creating relevant content, delivered to the right audience is essential for building that momentum. Below are some thoughts on how to create content that matters.

Make content credible.

1. Base any position you take on data points. Otherwise, it’s about one opinion over another, and is less appealing to a large population set who responds to data and logic.

2. Enlist writers who have the background and knowledge to write, pontificate and theorize. It adds credibility to the theme, community, and message.

Make content memorable.

3. Be succinct and vary vocabulary and syntax.

4. Engage the reader, but start by knowing who the reader is, and what would engage her or him and why.

5. Pepper it with a picture or two, especially if it adds to the message.

Make content valuable.

6. Have a reason for writing on the topic, a reason that would benefit your intended audience. Stretch thinking and perceptions of others, of course with a purpose in mind. Escapist writings have their place, but in a business context, content should stimulate thinking, engage and connect, and sometimes have a call to action.

7. Tell the story behind the data on a topic, don’t just spew out the range of data available. Interpreting the meaning of the data in the context of its relevance to the intended audience is a core value-add of content.

8. Offer specific examples and reasons on how the information has influenced decisions and identify results.

Stimulate thinking. Invite action.

9. Identify the goal for the content and how it would benefit the intended community.

10. You get a ‘C’ if the reader is entertained, you get a ‘B’ if the reader is entertained, and pauses and thinks. You get an ‘A’ if the reader is entertained, thinks about it, then know what to do about it, and even change their thinking, words and actions!

This is second final blog on the ying and yang of content and community, focusing on how to create content that matters for the community. Stay tuned for next month’s blog focusing on creating that niche community. Your thoughts are welcome.

Why Content Is King and Community Is Queen

July 19, 2013

yin yang

This month’s marketing blog is part of a three-post segment on the theme of ‘The Ying-Yang of Content and Community’.  This month’s thoughts are on why content is king and community is queen. Next month, we will drill down on what it takes to create quality content, and the following month, we will extend on our September 2012 Rules-for-Customer-Engagement post and cover the strategies for engaging a community.

It’s that perennial story of Ying and Yang – Content is King as it provides the information and data that informs, educates, and supports and Community is Queen as it provides the people, context, and connections for that content. Community provides the context for the content – defining what relevant and important and worth knowing. Content provides the information and stimulus to facilitate conversation, activity and connection. In this age of personalization, where content and community both become increasingly more important, it’s even more important to think about both sides, while drilling down on either way.

Below are some thoughts for doing so.

Why Content Is King

1. Content provides information key for decision-making. Creating that content might involve research, data-collection, opinionating, and communicating.
2. Content stretches the thinking and flexibility of the communicators, which benefit all. Content creators are tasked with understanding what they are communicating, to whom they’re communicating, why it matters, and what the implications might be for creating that content.
3. Content provides food for thought which leads to new ideas and new thoughts for people with similar and different interests. Ideally, content creation also brings new thoughts and insights and information and that communication benefits the recipients in planned and unplanned ways.
4. Content creators cull from the massive volume of information available and frames it in a way that is relevant for the community. Fresh, relevant, thought-provoking content is essential for the health of a community.
5. Content connects people with similar interests. Content creators ideally connect with others adding similar value to the ecosystem, and serendipitous relationships, connections and happenings often occur.

Why Community Is Queen

6. Communities qualify the relevance of content.
7. Communities raise the bar for communicators, ensuring that the content remains fresh and relevant.
8. Communities connects communicators and helps them think about what they’re communicating and what the needs of the community are.
9. Communities review content and information so that collective decisions can be made.
10. Communities leverages content to further develop relationships and connections

In a perfect world, there’s an ebb and flow between the ying of content and the yang of community, the give-and-take between the left and the right, the constant review of what’s relevant and what that means for you and others. Content pushes the comfort zone of communicators and community alike. The converse is also true. Community pushes the comfort zone of the content creators. Either way, communications working in community and communities working with communicators encourages and supports the growth of both.

E-mail us with your thoughts, stories and best practices about creating content and engaging communities.

Top Ten Reasons for Being Customer-Centric

June 27, 2013

World partnershipThe Age of Personalization is centered on the empowerment of the customer, and the drive for companies to deliver the customized products and services they demand, leveraging technology, communities, and operational processes. Being other-centric is an essential and fundamental trait for leaders at all levels as we all aspire to deliver what-the-customer-wants, the most necessary requirement for today’s successful companies and leaders.

Strategic Impact – Focusing on the needs of the customer will impact the overall direction of the organization.

1. Making a choice for what-customers-want will transform everything about the company, in a good way: from the way it communicates to the products and services they provide, from who they partner with to whom they serve.

2. Pivoting in this direction may be a small shift for some companies, and quite a large change for others. It is essential for companies that plan on taking a leadership role in an age of personalization.

3. Having the leadership team buy into this customer-centric model is as essential as ensuring that it flows throughout the organization.

Communication Impact – Communicating the customer focus will help facilitate richer, deeper and broader networks and communities.

4. Communicating a customer-centric direction will impact how others outside the company see you, from customers to partners to channels, and also impact how people within the company view the company for whom they work.

5. The brand and message about the company has so much more potential if the foundational philosophy is focused on the customer.

6. If the fundamental precept of a company is around the customer, it will be easier to shift communication messages and corporate direction, should there be a need for a strategic shift, led by the needs-of-the-customer/market.

Technology Impact – Consciously choosing other-centric thinking and leadership will help the company and teams deliver technology-based solutions to serve the needs of individual and niche customers.

7. Having a customer-centric focus will help internal teams deliver solutions tailored to the needs of the customer, defining excellence based on standards they set. The company mind set would be more about delivering what-the-customer-wants rather than developing a technology-that-anybody-would-want.

8. Developing technology-based solutions focused on the current and anticipated needs of the customer, in partnership with the customer will help create a clear picture of success, deliver to same, and continually adjust same.

Community Impact – Creating communities of customers will help companies hear the voice and understand the needs of their niche and individual customers and empower them to actively participate in the evolution of products and services and partnerships.

9. The more a company shows that it is customer-centric, the larger the customer community it will have, and the more engaged that community will become.

10. Facilitating a deep and broad partnership with communities of empowered customers will lead to greater and deeper relationships between a company and those it serves, which would directly and indirectly correlate to bottom line results.

In summary, active participation of empowered communities of customers will be the hallmark of success in the new way-of-doing-business.

Top Ten Reasons for Choosing Collaborations

May 29, 2013

Collaboration (2)In an age where personalization rules and business moves at the speed of light, companies and leaders who choose the collaboration option give themselves a slight edge over other companies.

Strategic Impact – The focus on collaboration will have a strategic impact on both the participants as well as the whole ecosystem.

1. To facilitate strategic collaborations, consider an ecosystem approach engaging complementary partners. This would involve not just understanding the industry, technologies and trends, but also the key players and needs of the customers.
2. Having this inter-related ecosystem would help each partner better anticipate challenges and needs for themselves, the other players in the ecosystem, and their clients and partners as well as the technology and market overall.

Communication Impact – Choosing collaborative approaches benefit the communication needs of individuals, their organizations and the group as a whole.

3. Electing to participate in collaborative measures, when done strategically can help expand the brand and reach of each participating party.

4. Strategic collaborations between complementary parties can help each successfully expand into new markets and geographies.

5. Strategically collaborating with others can help each entity crystallize their value-add within the overall needs of their niche customer base, while also supporting the prospecting/business development efforts of each party.

Technology Impact – Choosing collaboration can help you and your company explore synergistic opportunities in adjacent markets.

6. Successful collaborations between parties can invite technological synergies between companies, between solutions, and facilitate cross-over thinking which may stimulate creativity and new ways of thinking for technical and all staff.

7. Successfully done, companies can collaborate to adapt existing, proven solutions to solve new and different problems, again stretching the thinking and approach of each participating party.

8. When two parties collaborate in solving a problem breakthrough innovations may take place, leveraging the successes and approaches of both parties.

Community Impact – Choosing collaborations for short-term projects and objectives can help grow a larger community and facilitate ongoing collaborations, communications and synergies.

9. Going beyond individual collaborative opportunities and extending to an ongoing community will in turn help attract more influence and participation from the right complement of players, to serve the longer-term needs of a vibrant, inter-connected community.

10. The richness and abilities of the community will lead to a stronger set of pooled resources and best practices, stronger connections and relationships, and generally great value-add for all.

E-mail us with your thoughts and stories on how choosing collaboration has amplify your strategic, communication, technology and community impact.

Getting Your Company from Here to There

May 1, 2013

This month, our marketing blog will work in conjunction with our leadership blog with the same theme: Getting from Here to There. This marketing blog will focus on the company aspects of it: Getting Your Company From Here to There while our leadership blog speaks to Who Gets From Here to There. Below is advice to help companies get from-here-to-there, integrating vision with strategy and execution.

Vision

1.  Having a big hairy audacious goal (BHAG) is the inspiration and the purpose behind a company. Whether it’s a company just starting out, or one who needs to pivot from one market to another, this BHAG will address why you are in business – it is the big-picture view of what you do for whom and why.

2.  Your vision should include details about your product or service offerings and the niche audiences for each must be thoroughly understood.

3.  Everyone in the company must be aligned with the vision for the company, particularly those at the highest level.

Strategy

4.  Your strategy should include specific information about your differentiators and value proposition, how your service or product offerings differ from what competitors are offering.

5.  The communication strategy about the vision, the strategic direction and execution successes of the company

6.  Strategically, you should also consider how to efficiently deliver the products and services in a sustainable and scalable way.

7.  Everyone in the company must be aligned with the strategy for the company, particularly those at the highest level.

Execution

8.  Consistently delivering excellence in execution will set you apart from everyone else. Every person involved with the organization must make a personal stand for excellence, and help ensure that as an individual, team and organization overall, excellence is delivered.

9.  Company leaders who aren’t confident that excellence will be delivered in every instance may be living on borrowed time.

Integration

10.  In the end, it’s about the leaders and companies who can do more than each individual piece: vision, strategy and execution, but also be able to integrate the three and weave back and forth between elements with ease.

Companies need to create momentum, preferably in a positive direction. The integration of a grand vision, a customer- and market- based strategy, and excellent execution will help great companies to get from-here-to-there. Company leaders who chose the status quo and embedded complacency, are headed for imminent extinction.

An Ecosystem Approach to Engaging the ‘Right’ Customer

March 28, 2013

Last month we talked about how you knew you had the wrong customer, and how de-focusing it is to your organization when you serve these customers. This month, we will continue the customer-conversation and talk about engaging the right customers.

The strategy, execution and ultimate success of any company, large or small is the engagement of the right customers for the right solutions at the right time and continuing to add value and develop deep relationships with customers, partners, vendors and other stakeholders. This month’s marketing blog focuses on how to engage those right customers, through the strategy, execution and expansion of an organization.

Strategy Phase: Understanding the Market Trends and Customer Needs Whether you’re just launching or dreaming about your new company, struggling to pivot it to a new direction, or riding that hockey stick, it’s essential to know what-you-do-for whom, how that fits into the evolution of the business market, and what that means to your customers now and in the future.

1. To understand how your product and service offerings fit into the market, it’s important to talk to your customers, partners, vendors, analysts and others about what their needs are and what the business model is around serving that need. No one person will have all the answers, but everyone will have a piece of the puzzle. The genius is someone who can weave the pieces together and transcend the data into an integrated solution which serve all stakeholders sustainably.

2. Often your stakeholders are working with partial solutions which address some of their needs, but not all of them, which may serve them well for now, but may not be enough in the long term. Hearing what your stakeholders are saying directly and between the lines will help you craft a strategy which engages the ecosystem of partners, leverages technology to sustainably and collaboratively serve the needs of customers and partners, and generates an integrated business model which benefit all.

Execution Phase: Collaborating Across the Ecosystem In this new economy, leadership will be more about seeing and managing a web of relationships than a pyramid, king-of-the-mountain structure. Today’s leader will have the vision to see how stakeholders work together, the integrity and ingenuity to see how collaboration is key, and success-for-one-is-success for all.

3. Mapping out the motivations, interests, resources and merits of each partner in the ecosystem will help leaders strategically understand how best to work with others, and the role of themselves and their organization in the market.

4. Forging partnerships and relationships across the ecosystem, and transparently communicating interests, motivations and collaborative ideas will become ever more important in the new economy.

5. Collaborative offerings between stakeholders will create more energy and momentum to each entity and the ecosystem as a whole.

Expansion Phase: Seeing Beyond Your Own Needs One of the benefits of this systemic, ecosystem, collaborative approach is that it makes an organization more nimble, and it helps leaders adopt a broader perspective about industry, customer and technology trends as well as global market trends.

6. When you see beyond your own needs, and map the trends beyond your offerings, you can respond more nimbly, quickly and collaboratively as technology and customer and global needs evolve.

7. Partnerships with specific organizations across the value chain can help individual entities more efficiently deliver customized services to customers, customers they may have common with others in the ecosystem.

Relationships Are Paramount

8. Not every stakeholder will buy into this new type of integrated partnership. Building relationships of trust and delivering results that benefit all are essential to ensure that the partners inclined to respond to this approach actually commit and deliver on their end.

9. The days of divide-and-conquer, one-king-of-the-mountain and independent monopolies will soon pass, and the days of the self-serving leader/company will be lessons in a history book about what-could-have-been. Those who see and lead past the fear and embrace relationships and collaboration will tell tales about how they led their organizations through the pivot, and how their leadership turned the company around.

10. Collaborative partnerships across the ecosystem will assist organizations to expand into new markets, services, technologies and offerings. The trick is to ensure that all entities across the ecosystem benefit from expansion opportunities and that relationships remain intact when there’s a lot of money at stake.

This new model of relationship-development and leadership is not business-as-usual. But it’s a model of doing business which fits well with the evolution of the market: from an age of information to an age of personalization.

The Art and Science of Marketing

January 30, 2013

MarketingConsultingHistorically, marketing has always involved statistics and facts, but there have been a larger range of how much statistics and numbers are used, and how data drives the marketing strategy. But in an age where personalization becomes key, and data is plentiful, the most successful marketers will be able to efficiently view and interpret data and create plans to meet the demanding needs of niche clients, and measure their impact and progress. Below are the top ten rules for doing so.

1. Know your solution and why you are delivering it, why there is an opportunity.

The science is to be able to explain the solution in a detailed manner, and speak about the ROI and potential market size using charts and numbers. The art is explaining it verbally, graphically, and contextually in a way where management, partners and customers would buy into it.

2. Know your audience and why your solution is relevant for each niche audience.

Set up a matrix and map out your target audiences, quantifying numbers, passion, costs, etc., Based on the matrix, and the input of key stakeholders, establish a strategy for delivering a solution to initial and secondary audiences. Go back to the numbers to evaluate your progress and re-assess your strategy based on your performance.

3. Request feedback and input from all stakeholders to supplement information provided by reports.

The numbers and the reports will give you a view of your business, its offerings and impact, as will the interviews with customers and other stakeholders. However, the art of it is to figure out what the numbers and people are telling you and what to do about it.

4. Know what to measure and what each measurement means.

Measurements and reports and numbers are great, but they won’t dictate whether your company will succeed. Deciding what to measure, what the measurements mean and what to do about it will more closely map to your company’s success.

5. Integrate the data and feedback to constantly improve your offerings.

Constantly consider the data and verbal feedback as you community, connect, and build your business.

6. Categorize your types of feedback to help prioritize features.

Notice patterns of feedback from multiple sources: charts, focus groups, phone calls, management meetings, etc. Decide what these patterns mean, and how you can revise communications and strategy so address the feedback and suggestions given. Are there opportunities in the feedback?

7. Address the needs of your most active niche clients and strive to deliver exceptional, customized service to them.

Weight your feedback based on who is most engaged with your business. Strategize on how to find and engage people and companies with profiles similar to your best customers and referrers.

8. It takes someone disciplined and thorough to oversee the science of marketing.

9. It takes an experienced and creative marketing leader to connect the dots, think outside the box, and see the opportunities presented by the data.

10. Integrating the art-side and the science-side of marketing will be the cornerstone of all marketing plans.

The bottom line is that leaders need to oversee the science and data side as well as the art, creative and innovative side of marketing to ensure the ongoing success of an organization. It might be easier to find someone skilled at managing the data side, but more difficult to find someone who can do the creative side, and also know how to integrate the available science and numbers to deliver customized solutions that serve customers, and build forward momentum for the company.

Ten Truths about the New Sales Professionals

January 1, 2013

The sales heroes of the 80s and 90s often left me with a sense of oil and grease – to me, they were people who were more slick and connected wheeler-dealers than consultative, customer-oriented providers. No longer are we in an age of buying-what-you-don’t-need, with money-you-don’t-have, to impress people-who-don’t-care.

The economic meltdown precipitated both the aftermath of Y2K (no disaster, reduced IT spending) and 9/11 (which created a global culture of suspicion and caution) coupled with the empowerment of the user (through Google and Yahoo with its search, through Oracle and IBM and its big data solutions, through FaceBook and LinkedIn and Twitter with social media, through consumer-based e-commerce solutions like Amazon and eBay) is driving the age of personalization, and revolutionizing the sales process.

As marketing professionals and leaders, we need to understand and support the next generation of successful sales professionals:

They will be more customer-oriented, so help them profile their customers and prospects, and communicate with the team in delivering what the customers want.

1.   The new breed of sales professionals will truly and genuinely understand the current and anticipated needs of the customer, and great leaders will reward them for doing so.

2.   Indeed, they will consider the needs-of-the-customer above their own immediate needs, even if it means walking away from a sale or even directing them to another, even competitive solution. The old type of successful sales professional will have a difficult time adapting to the concept, and the new sales professionals will not look and feel the same as successful sales professionals of the past.

They will be more tech-savvy, so develop the tools to help them do their job well.

3.   The new generation of sales leaders will increasingly better understand enough about databases and software to know what can be efficiently customized.

4.   Indeed, they will understand the types of solutions which can leverage technology to be personalized, and the types which would be difficult to make efficient, seeking scalable, customizable solutions for their customers. They may be a current sales professional who sees things differently, or someone from another field who gets-the-tech, and wants to apply it to address specific customer problems.

They will astutely leverage social media to spread the word and reputation, and it will take a successful partnership between sales and marketing to make this work!

5.   The new sales professionals will proactively leverage social media and reputation management solutions to credibly spread the word about company offerings.

6.   Indeed, the more experienced and savvy professionals will recruit and incentivize ambassadors to spread the word to identified niche audiences.

They will be more collaborative, at least the successful ones will be, and it’s a great opportunity for marketing and sales to bury the hatchet and find a path forward, together.

7.   The new sales professionals will work with product marketing, development and marketing to ensure that the company understands and delivers precisely what the customer needs in the short term, and even anticipates what the customer will need in the longer term.

8.   In fact, they would willingly mentor others sales people to better deliver solutions to customers, and understand the value of doing just that. This is a new-world-order way of looking at sales, and goes against the grain of sales-professionals-of-the-past, who covet and protect their leads, their territory, their knowledge and skills so that they can reap rewards beyond their peers.

They will be more proactive, and let’s hope partnering with marketing leaders to deliver all of the above.

9.   The new sales professionals will follow the trends and manage and even anticipate the evolving needs of the customer, and proactive approach customers about how trends would impact their business and offerings and what they can do to address these shifts.

10.  Indeed, they will learn from the needs and deliverables for one customer/company/industry, and be able to generalize offerings to others while optimizing customization and while conducting business at the most ethical levels.

The bottom line is that the new successful sales person is someone who is intelligent, articulate, genuine, collaborative, informed, proactive and tech-savvy, and they may or may not be in sales now. They are someone you would trust implicitly to put your company first. Where do you think we should find them? How can we groom them? Your thoughts are welcome. E-mail us at info@FountainBlue.biz.

This blog is part of FountainBlue’s Marketing Leadership in an Age of Personalization Series and is copyrighted 2013. All rights are reserved.

Building Social Currency for Your Business

November 29, 2012

SocialCurrencyFountainBlue’s monthly top-ten rules of marketing are designed to guide our client entrepreneurial tech companies and the community in general on marketing practices that clearly communicate and connect, thereby generating momentum for people and organizations. This month’s top-ten-marketing rules topic will be on the top ten ways to build a community around your business, leveraging non-tangible social currency.

If you go with the tenet that momentum is at the heart of all business successes, then it follows that in the new age of building business where the consumer is king and technology is leveraged to deliver custom solutions, then creating a community around your business, engaging stakeholders at all levels through social currency is paramount for the business. Below are ten ways to build a community around your business, leveraging non-tangible social currency.

Find Win-Win Opportunities to Engage Select Ambassadors.

1.   It’s a win-win if your company brand can enlist the right ambassador(s) to complement and extend that brand. It’s good for the company, and good for the community and individuals as well.

2.   You could also enlist ambassadors by geographic location, extending your current brand and reach beyond what currently exists. It’s a win for the company as they extend to new territory, and a win for your ambassadors, who can associate with a respected brand, service and product, and extend the value and the reach of same.

Recruit Contributors and Managers to build the message and the community.

  1. Content experts add credibility to your community, and create relevant, timely content which educates, informs and engages. They gain social currency by writing on-topic to a relevant community and followership and receive recognition and esteem for doing so.

4.   Activists can moderate community discussions on relevant topics while participating in the vibrancy and viability of the community, which benefits all.

Promote and Reward The Participation and Involvement of Your Advocates.

  1. Recognize your community leaders on the web site, in meetings and events, every chance you get. Many of the most engaged leaders respond well to this, provided that it is done well, and provided that they see fellow contributors as their peers.
  2. Additional social recognition for the most eager and enthusiastic supporters can be very motivating for all, providing that this is done fairly and well.

7.   Tangible rewards are also at times appreciated, but generally not as coveted as social, non-tangible rewards for the most part.

By definition, your advocates will be closer-to-the-needs-of-the-customer than you are, so Enlist Their Input about how to better serve people like them.

8.   Start with the needs and challenges of the customers rather than with a technology innovation which may serve the customer.

9.    Develop and enhance your user interface to meet the needs of your customers.

10.  Get insights from your advocates on how to expand technologies and brand into new markets.

We conclude that marketing has evolved with the times, and it will be much more about authentic advocacy, committed volunteers and social currency than it will be about PR, search engine optimization and ad-buying, although that will remain important. The challenge is to build that community and social currency that benefits all.

Your thoughts on our leadership and marketing blogs are welcome.

Top Ten Rules for Marketing: Ten Ways Marketing Services Differs From Marketing Products

October 30, 2012

Ten Ways Marketing Services Differs From Marketing Products

Back in the day when Sun workstations sold like hotcakes and everyone was waiting with bated breath for Windows 95 (98, 2000), product marketing managers for technology products were well respected for what they did: define and drive the product development cycle in collaboration with marketing, sales and engineering.

This is not so long ago, but times have changed to the point where products are becoming more commoditized, where software solutions are in the cloud, where services rein over products, and where even companies like Microsoft are looking at how to provide customized services to their network of customers.

What does this mean for today’s product marketing managers, who are focusing more on service-oriented solutions? We interviewed Dr. Juan P. Montermoso, President at Montermoso Associates, Professor of Practice in Marketing at Santa Clara University, who spoke at the October 3 SVPMA event entitled Marketing the Experience: Applying PM Concepts to Services and Events.

The program description notes that more than 70% of GDP in places like the United States, the Netherlands or Australia is service-based, while 60% of revenues for companies like IBM are attributable to services. For tech product managers and CMOs of tech products and services companies, the message is clear: designing, marketing, and delivering not just profitable services but memorable experiences will be the keys to success.

Here are the top ten keys for doing just this. Product marketing a service has the same fundamental qualities as marketing a product: its focus on products, pricing, and promotion.

1.   Know your product details, market segment and your customer niche, and communicate your offerings based on the needs of your customers.

2.   Your promotion and pricing should speak to the needs of the customer and your product offerings should be designed to serve their needs, not the other way around.

3.   Continually seek feedback from the customer about the value of what you are providing and get their input about how to make it better for them. It is essential to gather this feedback to refine product features and definitions, pricing strategies, promotional plans.

4.   Create a community for your clients, partners and other stakeholders and provide value-added information, connection and services to them. This is an efficient way to build deeper relationships, connect with your customers, and add value beyond your current offerings.

5.   Work in conjunction with the marketing, sales, engineering and management team to address the needs of the customer, for knowing what the customer wants, in isolation of what a company will deliver is only half the solution.

 

The new way users are selecting products and services is no longer about the sales process and funnel, but has evolved into a complex, multi-faceted, multi-directional stages of evaluation, consideration, advocation, experiencing and buying, as well as bonding with others throughout the process. (See McKinsey Quarterly Report article’ The funnel is dead. The new consumer decision journey,’ http://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/The_consumer_decision_journey_2373) So as we evolve into the marketing of services, and address the decision processes for the more empowered user, we must still consider the products, price and promotion, but also look further into the overall user experience:, the process, physical environment and people who impact the users and the choices they make.

 

6.   The experience a user undergoes to evaluate, adopt, advocate, endorse, recommend a service must be seamless and elegant, and should be easy to communicate to friends and groups. And collaboration between marketing, sales, management and engineering is even more important to deliver this experience.

7.   There must be an efficient process for customers to easily adjust and communicate parameters and requirements, as well as a process and methodology for providers to efficiently and sustainably deliver these customized services.

8.   Bonding is now an element of the decision-making process, so it is more important to identify and speak to the needs of niche customer groups as well as individual customers, and creating and leveraging social media and community development and support abilities will be more important as you do so.

9.   Content matters. Service marketing must communicate the core technology offering, as well as the range of customized adaptations of what you could do with the core technology, and speak in a vocabulary and voice a customer will understand. And this must hold true for each niche audience.

10.  Social media solutions will be an integral part of success service marketing efforts. Leaders in this space such as LinkedIn, FaceBook and Twitter are strategizing on how to create and support niche communities of many different colors and stripes, and creating a value to these individuals and companies, a value worth charging for. Product/service marketing professionals would benefit from following what’s happening with these social media leaders as they consider the privacy, policy, outreach, integration and other challenges and opportunities for creating and developing these niche audiences.

Regardless of where you are in the product/service continuum, product marketing will continue to play an essential role in the success of any tech company.

Your thoughts are welcome.