Author Archives: Scott Hornstein

You Say You’ve Got an Evolutiontest

This is the third time in the last 20 years that I was certain that it was the end of the world, with a Cormac McCarthy novel waiting on the other side. We learn to cope, I suppose. We evolve.

Emphasis is on the word learn. Here’s what I learned:

  • Things are never the same again.
  • Chaos eats up a lot of energy, and energy is a finite resource. It pays to prioritize.
  • Above all else, we must live to fight another day.

In plain English:

In the midst of this crisis, what can be we do now to tilt the odds in our favor (assuming we come out the other side)? How do we evolve?

We all want to see the plan.

Emphasis on the word evolve.

One of the other things I learned is that when circumstances knock you flat on your back, the plan is to get up. Get up on your toes.

Make a difference that will be remembered, in this case for the better. Not in search of recognition. Right now, be human. All your customers are people, and all of the people are vulnerable and scared.

You say you got a real solution.

Here’s what some large corporations are doing:

  • Anheuser Busch and other beverage businesses areusing their vodka- and beer-making equipment to brew up hand sanitizer.
  • Fordis repurposing its auto-making infrastructure to produce ventilators and medical face shields.
  • Hanesis adapting textile infrastructure that normally cranks out cotton undies to manufacture 1.5m masks a week. Similarly, Hedley & Bennett, which normally makes premium chef aprons, started stitching fabric face masks.
  • Lyftis using its massive fleet of ride-share vehicles to deliver medical supplies.

We’re just doing what we can.

Here’s are 3 things you can do that will have a proportional impact:

  • Reach out to your customers and relationships with humility and empathy. Listen. Put their concerns first.
  • Offer to help. It might be with your knowledge and skills. It might be to call back later to see how they’re doing. Or, just that you asked, how are you?
  • Learn from what they say. Maybe they can help you.

You tell me that it’s evolution.

 In the spirit of this evolution, I have a suggestion, a step that you can take now that might make a difference, from us:

Let’s talk about you.

We have deep experience in the B2B arena, from strategy to research to results. If you need a substantive discussion which might illuminate paths you have not taken as yet, we’re here. First one’s on us. Just let me know. Sometimes collaboration with an outside perspective can help lead to deeper levels of problem-solving. I’m at, 203.470.3395.




There’s no app for thistest

How do you keep your brand relevant during these tough times? Here’s clue #1 – this is not a selling opportunity.

My advice is all in this one word – empathy. Be open and out there, engage with your customers as humans. Do more listening than talking.

In this post, I want to focus in on listening as an essential element of empathy. Not sitting back in your chair listening and composing your response. Active listening, where you’re on the edge of your seat and concentrating on what the words mean to the other person.

The aspect of my career that I’ve enjoyed the most has been qualitative research, talking to customers and unraveling the twist of their personal and professional ambitions that lead to a decision. It’s taught me a great deal about the importance of good old-fashioned listening.

Here’s an example. During an interview I asked a CEO what’s the most important benefit you receive from Company A? The executive said, our salesman. He really listens.

B2B has always been a personal sell. Now those persons are scared, bored, confused because the matrix of life is definitely down. We’re with Maslow now, concerned about food, shelter and safety.

Your brand is you. Trust empathy. Clue #2: it’s not in the data. It’s not in your stack. There’s no app for this.


A Crisis is a Terrible Thing to Wastetest

Interesting, this sitting here at home trying to stitch back your professional life, and perhaps your company. Who knows what the world will look like tomorrow?
Given that we’re basically in the business of connecting you and your customers, we’d like to suggest one small thing that you can begin today, that will most assuredly help.
Reach out to every single customer and relationship, because there are no more customers or relationships. Everything is spinning. Ground it with your humanity and empathy.
Interestingly my friend Kenny, as good a salesperson as ever there was, said that he was calling all his customers – everyone was at home, and everyoneanswered the phone.
Open the kimono – talk about what you’re going through.
Finish with hope, and hopefully an idea that they can use. Not hand wringing or hand washing. Strengthen your relationship. We know it works. Decades of experience teach that these folks are happy to engage, especially at times like these, and to tell you the truth.
Or, let them know where to buy toilet paper.

What I Learned about B2B Marketing from Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (with a nod to Gustav Flaubert)test

For sure, you’ve heard the old saying, “the devil is in the details”. It has certainly been my experience that the smallest, most hidden detail that you overlook can come back and bite you in the ass.

“God is in the details”, mostly attributed to the architect Mies van der Rohe, is the flip side, and the side of the coin I bet on. Which to me means that proactively uncovering the detail can make all the difference in the world.

What are you missing – and will there be the devil to pay?

Great learning comes from the detail of why you won a new client. Even greater, more useful detail comes from finding out the entangled reasons why you lost or untying the gordian knot of stalls.

However, the fine details of the wins, the losses and the stalls are often clouded. History is written by the victorious and thus many details may not make it to your CRM system, lest they conflict with the broadcasted story or tarnish a reputation.

It’s more than likely your current efforts are falling short. Closure rate, sales and profitability hang in the balance.

  • According to CEB (a subsidiary of Gartner), fully 60% of B2B opportunities end in no sale. Learning how to avoid or prevent draws can be very rewarding.
  • A small increase in your win percentage will have a huge impact on your top and bottom lines.

Uncovering the details requires a sharp eye, a practiced ear, and a proven methodology.

That would be B2P’s Decision Drivers (DD) process.

DecisionDrivers improves marketing performance by unveiling…

  • when internal triggers activate search behavior
  • what content each persona seeks at each stage of the process
  • how your prospects differentiate between you and competitors
  • why qualified prospects leave your funnel at each stage.

Here’s a peak behind the curtain: DecisionDrivers.

But does it work?

  • One company believed they had to appeal to multiple personas at once. DecisionDrivers uncovered that they could win by concentrating their messaging and sales efforts on just one.
  • One company was worried that they were not price competitive. Champions refocused us on TOC, where the company has everyone beat, hands down.
  • One company found that their IT department was getting into face-offs with prospects’ IT, and were usually wrong.

So, God and the devil are there, each sitting on one of your shoulders. It’s up to you.

If your B2B marketing is content to gloss over the surface, to sidestep the complexity of the decision process, then your view and your accomplishments are short-term, and are not building the long-term relationships we need to survive.

Some say Flaubert said it first: Le bon Dieu est dans le détail.

Bon chance!


How to dramatically increase qualified traffic to your website, without spending a dimetest

We’d like to suggest a minimal effort that can bring big traffic to your website. It’s called a Super Extraordinary Opportunity, or SEO.

Most know this as Search Engine Optimization, but few understand what it does or how it works. Many don’t even bother with SEO because they don’t understand its power, which is a huge mistake.

Some spend good money on hiring an SEO agency. Some spend countless hours researching and trying to stay up to date.

We’ve reduced it to 5 easy steps that you can do yourself, without spending a dime, that will result in a tremendous boost in qualified traffic to your website.

Here we go. 5 easy, common sense SEO steps that will build a ton of qualified traffic:

Step 1: Focus on the right keywords

This is absolutely the most important step. A keyword is a word or phrase of great significance because it ties your website to what your ideal customers are searching for. Said differently, the keyword is what a customer types into Google to find you.

For instance, if I’m your prospect and I wanted to find out how to train my workforce, I might search for the following keywords or phrases:

  • Companies that do workforce training
  • What is workforce training
  • How to train my workforce on safety
  • Software for workforce training

Begin the process by crafting a very long list of relevant phrases of 1-4 words each.

What customers type into Google is not always what you and I assume they type. Because of this, you need to build a list of every possible variation a customer would use to find your product or service.

There are a lot of free tools like Ubersuggest to help you generate your big list of keywords. You can also find out what phrases your competitors use with SpyFu.

After you’ve built a list of several hundred phrases, go to Google Keyword Planner and “get search volume and forecasts” and paste in your entire list of keywords. Look under the “historical metrics” tab to find out how many searches each term gets per month.

We guarantee you’ll be surprised by what terms they actually use.

Next, choose what keywords are most important, based on three factors:

  1. The terms that are most relevantto your product or service
  2. The terms that get the most searches
  3. The terms that have the least amount of competition

Sometimes, it’s obvious which keywords are best for you. But usually, you have to make a lot of judgement calls.

Next, rank your top 50 keywords from one to fifty.

Keywords to use on your home page and your other main pages should come from your top 10 to 20 phrases. These are phrases that your ideal customers would use. They are customers who are already deep in the sales cycle and looking for a short list of vendors. For instance, if you’re an LMS vendor, they might type “best LMS.”

The rest of your top 50 keywords can be very specific keywords that you can use for blog topics. These keywords are much more niche and designed for the awareness and education of your prospects. For instance, “build certification program.”

If your company was Ferrari, the top 10-20 keywords might include “Italian super car”, but a blog keyword might be something like “learn how to drive fast.”

Step 2: Distribute your top keywords throughout your metadata

Metadata is used to describe individual web pages, allowing search engines to understand in brief what’s on that page. If you’re using WordPress or another website builder to create a webpage, at the bottom of the screen you’ll see Yoast SEO, which is the most popular SEO plugin. That’s where your metadata goes.

Think of metadata as an invitation to visit your page, written in an active voice with rationale and urgency. The description of the page must match what’s actually on the page. Search engines do not like to be fooled.

Start by creating the metadata page title.

Include three things in your page titles:

  1. The actual title of the page, like “Services”
  2. Your company name
  3. The primary keyword that you want to rank for on that page

Here’s an example title that’s less than the 70 character maximum:
Services – ABC Company – eLearning Development

Next is the page description:
What you want here is a short (155 characters tops) description of the content of the page. Make sure this description contains your primary keyword from the page title plus one or two other top keywords that are relevant to that page.

This enables the search engine to direct customers to your website. If the word in their search matches the word in the metadata, bingo! Or at least it gives you a fighting chance to get ranked. Especially if that keyword is in both the title and the description.

The last thing is the slug.
A slug is basically the page URL, but without your company domain.

For example, this slug is in bold:

You get a lot of bonus points if your primary keyword is in all four areas: title, description, slug and on the actual page.

That’s 90% of what you need in your metadata. Doing much more will take much longer and has diminishing returns for the time invest in it.

Make sure you do the title, description, page and slug for all of your pages, including blogs.

Step 3: Now do the same for your web page copy

Using your list of top keywords and the 3-5 that are most relevant to each page, go back through the content of each page and make sure you are using those keywords in the page text.

Don’t force it but do tighten the language. Even slight variations should be corrected (e.g., “compliance learning” may get more searches if it’s “compliance training”.

Don’t repeat keywords too often on the page. A few times is plenty. Google doesn’t appreciate a lot of repetition.

Of course, the keywords in your content should match the keywords in your metadata for each page. Google likes that very much.

Step 4: Get backlinks from external sites

Backlinks (also called linkbacks or inbound links) are also important to your SEO effort. This is when links on other websites point to your website.

Search engines view these backlinks as “social proof,” or a vote of confidence that others vouch for your web pages.

The most desirable backlinks are from high-traffic, well-respected websites, such as software review sites, if you are a software vendor.

The only negative about backlinks is that they take a long time to generate a lot of them. Many SEO experts believe that the easiest and most long-lasting route to getting more backlinks is simply through better content and blogs and pointing to them on social media, but that also takes a lot of time.

Step 5: Track and adjust

The most important part of measuring SEO is understanding your customer and how they think and talk and especially what they search for. It’s like learning their language. Learning what they care about, what content they respond to and what words they use in searches.

Read the results – what are the changes to your website traffic? Which keywords are attracting visitors? Test adjustments to the metadata and adopt what works.

Continuous improvement is what makes all this effective long term and builds up your all-important backlinks and your Google credibility score.

This is your low-hanging fruit

These easy SEO steps are a great example of a high-reward investment of your time. The result is more qualified traffic, and, if your website is compelling, more leads and more business.

If you have questions, we’re here to help.

Gordon L. Johnson

As a B2B growth marketer, Johnson specializes in transforming training company brands, building pipelines and accelerating market share. He has over fifteen years of experience in the learning and education industry, marketing technology, training and services. To learn more, visit Gordon’s website.


Scott Hornstein

International author, teacher and consultant, Scott works with training companies to maximize customer satisfaction, retention and lifetime value. He works with clients in all phases of content creation, strategy, research and implementation. Contact Scott.


You can also read our eBook: 10 Marketing Strategies that No Learning Tech Vendor Can Live Without



Today’s Opportunity for Training Suppliers: Survive and Thrivetest

Now is a time of great opportunity for training suppliers that are willing to turn on a dime and focus their efforts on our new reality. Everyone has suddenly gone remote, ending traditional classroom training, at least for a while. As a training supplier, you now have a large captive audience with the time and desire to engage with learning. Here’s an overview of this opportunity and short-term actions you can take to maintain, or even grow, your revenue.

Working Remotely, Social Distancing and Losing My Mind … It’s Time for Training!

Training is a good use of everyone’s time and a diversion from the chaotic feeling of finding one’s personal and professional life upended and adrift. Even better, it can be a highlight of someone’s day, because completing a course or a program is an accomplishment.

Here are some of the immediate training opportunities where your marketing team is likely to find a big audience:

    • Certifications, continuing education units (CEUs) and other career advancement training.
    • Company-specific and compliance training.
    • Job-required skills training.

There is also an emerging reality that lifelong learning is not a choice but a necessity.

No one expects everything to go back to the same type of normal. It’s obvious that many activities will move online. It’s still unclear how job definitions and requirements will change. As a result, many individuals will be motivated by job and career pressures to learn new skills sooner rather than later. It also gets them “out of the house” and moving forward.

You have two compelling goals: to protect your immediate income and to build your competitiveness for the future. For each goal, identify your three best courses, based on attendance and revenue, and concentrate on them. Resources are limited, and this focus guarantees you the greatest return for your effort.

Pivot to VILT to Protect Immediate Income Loss From ILT Courses

If your training is instructor-led, no doubt you are experiencing an upswing in cancellations and a standstill in registrations. To protect current income, your organization must convert your instructor-led training (ILT) into virtual ILT, and the webinar is your best choice.

There is a long list of differences between ILT and virtual ILT, but here are a few major ones:

    • Duration: No one will sit through a six-hour webinar. Chunk your content into one- to three-hour bits or shorter, if possible.
    • Built-in interaction: Encourage interactivity with questions, whiteboarding, breakout sessions, labs, discussion forums, games, and other tools.
    • Blended learning: Provide a value-add with pre- and post-training deliverables, such as a reading, eLearning supplement, pre-assessment, white paper, case study or instructional video.

If the course supports certification or CEUs, you stand a better chance of avoiding rebates or credits, but don’t be short-sighted. If customers are vocal, work something out. If you come to a solution with one of them, it’s likely the rest will ask for the same thing.

One strategy is to proactively reschedule ILT classes. Pick a date at least three months out, and notify everyone that it has been rescheduled. This approach will reduce cancellations. Also, virtual ILT is not just for just for people who registered for an instructor-led class. Remember, you have a captive audience. Gear up your marketing, and reach out.

Training is a good use of everyone’s time and a diversion from the chaotic feeling of finding one’s life upended.

Build Competitiveness for Tomorrow by Repurposing ILT Content

If you’ve been in this industry a long time, you heard a thousand times that the future is eLearning and traditional ILT is going away. But ILT never disappeared. It’s been slowly shrinking, but it’s still popular. With this crisis, however, there will be a monumental shift away from ILT, even when things are back to a new normal.

Almost everyone is developing a newfound comfort level with virtual conferencing, remote learning, eLearning and microlearning. We’re at a tipping point. There are new cohorts entering your target market with a different outlook and expectations for the training experience. For instance, many have grown up with the mobile phone. They are adept at using it to search for and consume information, and now, they are comfortable with learning on not just a tablet but a smartphone. If you want to engage them, your course material has to be optimized for a small screen.

These generations’ predilection for mobile also introduces new competition for their time: If they need information, they may first access peers, YouTube or other internet sources. We all know about this tendency, but it’s growing every day. Not only must content be mobile-friendly, but it also must be better than the competition.

Start rapidly repurposing your content for online and microlearning delivery. Chunk it into logical bite-size pieces, and continue your quest for interactivity. Most research agrees that around two minutes is the ideal length for microlearning and videos. While it’s hard to slice up an ILT course into two-minute increments, you can move in that direction. If you have not yet adopted a modern learning management system (LMS) that supports all forms of microlearning and blending, now is the time.

Also consider moving to a subscription model. Not only is online content more profitable, but the subscription model, done correctly, translates into predictable revenue. A modern learning platform can give you the subscription tools you’ll need to scale your business easily so that you can maximize the return on your investment.

Training Companies, Carpe Diem!

The future is uncertain, but at least we know where the training industry is heading. Be ready when it gets there. Instead of getting down, get up on your toes, and pull your organization with you. View this time as a blessing instead of a curse.

We do not know what the world will look like tomorrow, but we do know that it will belong to those learning companies who are making lemonade from lemons and embracing change rapidly to grow their revenue and increased customer lifetime value.

Everyone else, not so much.


Finding Your Compelling Competitive Differentiation in B2Btest

What is it that really distinguishes you, that separates you from the bunch, that makes your prospects sit up and take notice, and your competitors sit down in despair?

Let’s talk about your competitive differentiator

If it’s price, you’ve got a big problem, because cornflakes compete on the basis of price. It means that you win if you are the lowest cost provider, and are faced with unrelenting pressure to reduce your price further, so let’s put this aside.

Is it your product? Honestly, no one cares about your product. There are a gazillion out there that look and do exactly what yours does, and come in different colors. Customers only care about what your product, and you, can do for them, the benefits of a relationship with you.

The bottom line answer is – it’s you. It’s personal. Let me explain.

Now, let’s really talk about your competitive differentiator

To focus the conversation, please spend a moment with this great chart: “The B2B Elements of Value Pyramid” by Bain & Company. This chart, and it’s importance to B2B marketing, was featured recently in the HBR article “The B2B Elements of Value”, and referenced in Katie Martell’s excellent blog.

We should be talking about value, as your customer defines value

The most objective kinds of value are found at the base, and the higher a level is, the more subjective and personal the types of value encompassed.

Without going too far down a rabbit hole, this pyramid is based on the hierarchy of needs that the psychologist Abraham Maslow described. Maslow argued that human actions are motivated by an innate desire to fulfill needs ranging from the very basic (security, warmth, food, and rest) to the complex (self-esteem and altruism).

We would argue that these values and insights can be extended to people in corporate roles to help us better understand their motivations for buying and using our business products and services. The lower the level, the more we are commoditized, the higher the level, the more defining, which is the substance of competitive differentiation.

As the B2B marketplace becomes more crowded and homogenized (every website looks exactly the same and says the same things: does more, faster, cost-efficient), it becomes harder to distinguish ourselves. If we can’t effectively introduce a rationale for seeing us in a different, more discerning light, we will compete on the basis of price, like cornflakes.


Product marketing must become disruptively human

The point here is that marketing must become disruptively human and understand the full range of rational and emotional variables as the customer sees and describes them. Marketing must take the lead in forging messaging and communications based in that understanding, and embue it in their company’s culture.

If we can capture the rational values (such as reducing anxiety or enhancing the buyer’s reputation) and engage with the customer on inspirational values and purpose, the more compelling is our message and the greater our competitive advantage.

3 steps to marketing becoming disruptively human

1. Conduct independent, external qualitative research.
The most important input comes from creating a persona or archetype of the buyer, replete with how they describe their challenges and the journey they take to their desired solutions. Product Marketing’s messages must address the intersection of each buyer’s corporate responsibility and personal ambition.

In these structured conversations we can probe the ways we can own the lower level values and engage with them on the higher level.

In conducting this research for our clients, we are always amazed at the impact of what we learn. Our clients have learned:

– The composition of the buying team, each individuals’ information needs, and the checkpoints on the consideration journey
– Why the existing tagline contradicted buyers’ inspirational values and purpose

2. Create “connected content”.

That’s what we call the creative process that yields messaging and content rooted in the insights generated from the qualitative research, quantitative analysis, and sales input. To be truly incisive, often we test the concepts and executions through the qualitative persona research process before we go to market.

Connected content is inclusive.
Because the input and insights come from Sales, Marketing, Research, and Data Analytics, every member of your organization is vested in making connected content the best it can be.

3. Stay agile

These steps are designed to produce both immediate and ongoing insights and executions. It’s up to you to listen, learn, and take action.

Rule #1: The marketplace is always changing
Rule #2: If you aren’t changing your competitive differentiator is toast.

Here’s a good example of things done right: In a persona research interview I asked an executive, what is the single most important benefit of doing business with (the company sponsoring the research)? The reply: Management. They understand what we are trying to do, where we are trying to go.

Why You Should Not Charge For Customer Trainingtest

Why? Because it makes good business sense, especially if you are a SaaS company. Let me explain.

Many of these companies take a short-term view and want, or say they need, to emphasize revenue on a quarter-by-quarter basis. Their view is that training costs money, customers, especially new customers, need the training, therefore we mark it up and charge. Let the longer term take care of itself. If customers need training later on, it’s a new profit opportunity.

Other companies take a longer-term view and want to maximize their growth and return over time. These companies do not charge for training and view it as an investment in their customer base. This investment produces customers that gain more value from their product now, and over time, and pay the company back in loyalty and longevity.

The Power of Training

Training may be the single greatest lever to ensuring your customers’ success, satisfaction and profitability. Training’s metrics of success, as shown in the infographic below, are compelling. A 15% improvement in renewal rate is huge when you operate on a subscription model.With that increase in renewals, profit increases in staggering amounts.
Infographic – ROI of Customer Training
Charging for training creates a bump in the road, which makes your customer slow down and bounce around. If training is a budget hit, do I, as a new customer, resent it or take it in stride? What about a 10-year customer? Do I send everybody or do I just send our super-users and have them train the staff? Do we need the training and the upgrade now, or can we just exist with the previous release for a while?

Either way, this translates into less training for your customers, which also means they will use the product less, need more help desk support, renew less often and your profit will inevitably shrink.

Leveraging Customer Lifetime Value

Easy to nod your head with these considerations, but the question begs, why can’t we also add to this quarter’s profits? Training costs us money now.

What we need is a discussion of customer lifetime value (CLV). Embracing CLV shifts marketing from the transactional customer business view to the long-term relationship marketing approach.

Simply, CLV is the amount of revenue (and profit) you can expect from each customer over their relationship with you. There are 3 variables.

1. Revenue – how much do they spend.
2. Time – how long do they stay an active customer.
3. The third variable, the one that you can influence, and that influences the other 2, is customer success. To stick with simplicity, successful customers buy more and stay longer. They’re also the ones that generate referrals.

Revenue from long-term customers is more profitable, because the high cost of acquisition has been amortized. The training fuels the value they receive and drives demand. Research shows that training increases customer longevity.

The cost of developing and administering the training is like fertilizing a garden. Effort is required. How would you like your garden to grow?

Creating a Competitive Edge

Looking over the SaaS industry, it seems that old market giants like Oracle and Microsoft charge for training, largely because they can. They may feel that they are so embedded that customers will be theirs for perpetuity. They also tend to outsource training to third parties that have to generate a profit from training.

Which is why an investment in training can be an important competitive edge for the next in line, the contenders. You view your customers as resources to be grown. They view customers as “share of wallet”.

From a Profit Center to a Customer Success Center
There is one other benefit that companies who take the long view and do not charge for training reap. That is innovation – the drive to keep your training sharp, in line with your latest advances, and geared to your customers’ success. As your organization adopts and practices this innovation, it has a spillover effect, pushing your organization to rethink how they add value to the customer relationship overall.

Don’t Be Penny Wise and Pound Foolish
There is a great British saying, “penny wise, pound foolish.” It means, making decisions with small amounts of money (pennies) that end up making bad sense for affecting larger amounts of money (pounds, as in Great British Pounds). And that’s the difference between charging for training now versus investing in your customers’, and your long-term success.

Investing in training enables your customer to use your product more deeply, to more closely align their methods and processes to you, and ultimately attribute some portion of their success to you.

Unfortunately, even in a world where it costs 5 to 25 times more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep current customers, many companies perpetuate short-term, transaction thinking. These companies continue to invest nearly 80% of their budgets on customer acquisition. Just 42% of businesses are currently even able to measure customer lifetime value, let alone accurately. (What Most Companies Miss About Customer Lifetime Value by Michael Schrage, HBR)

This is a real business opportunity, a commitment that will benefit your company now and in the future. Remember, making customers better makes better customers.

What’s Your Competitive Differentiation?test

As you look at the marketplace, what really distinguishes you from the rest of the bunch.

If it’s price, you’ve got a big problem, because cornflakes compete on the basis of price. It means that you win if you are the lowest cost provider, and are faced with unrelenting pressure to reduce your price further, so let’s put this aside.

Is it your product? Honestly, no one cares about your product. There are a gazillion out there that look and do exactly what yours does, and come in different colors. Customers only care about what your product, and you, can do for them, the benefits of a relationship with you.

The bottom line answer is – it’s you. How you see the market, your insights and experience, how you understand and articulate problems and solutions, what you are willing to share with prospects and customers.

You can do speeches and videos and meet and greets, but you’ll get the widest reach from an ongoing blog. It gives you the opportunity to find your voice, to impart your experience and expertise, to tell the world what your customers have achieved.

It’s where we can help. Writing professionals who can help you to put yourself out there, consistently, and hone your compelling competitive differentiation.

If Product Marketing is Marketing Product, It’s Doing It Wrongtest

A central problem for Product Marketing is the indisputable fact that no one cares about your product.

Prospects and customers only care about what your product does for them, about what value a relationship with your company brings. This can be a difficult concept for Product Marketing to get their arms around because in many ways they are completely insulated and have absolutely no interaction with the people inhabiting the marketplace. They don’t shake their hands, look into their eyes, or listen to their voice.

Thus, may of their plans and promotions revolve around the following seeming benefits:

• Saves time
• Is faster
• Does more, better
• Greater ROI

These are not benefits — they are topic headings. They are generic and moveable, and apply equally to any and all B2B sales efforts.

However, Product Marketing has the opportunity to take this general direction and develop messages that communicate value and competitive differentiation.

Klaatu Barada Nikto

Like the characters in The Day The Earth Stood Still, B2B buyers are in their own world and speak their own language (and we don’t have Patricia Neal to bail us out). It’s called “corporate culture” and each one is unique and insular.

On top of that, they are each humans, with their own set of professional and personal concerns. Their receptivity to our message varies with our ability to tell the story in their language.

Becoming Disruptively Human

Fluency in this idiosyncratic language depends on Product Marketing becoming disruptively human. In our experience, this requires three steps:
1. Learn from your stakeholder groups. Product Marketing must be the bridge between sales, marketing, and engineering teams inside your company and the buying center of your external customer organizations. Despite long-standing distrust, it’s necessary to plumb the depths of new and existing sales relationships (and that includes going on sales calls), because the sales people speak the language all day long.
The most important input comes from unbiased qualitative research, which creates a persona or archetype of the buyer, replete with how they describe their challenges and the journey they take to their desired solutions. Product Marketing’s messages must address the intersection of each buyer’s corporate responsibility and personal ambition.

In conducting this research for our clients, we are always amazed at the impact of what we learn. Our clients have learned:

– The composition of the buying team, each individuals’ information needs, and the checkpoints on the consideration journey
– Why the existing tagline gave prospects reason to NOT believe
– How to easily customize the product to dramatically increase market share

2. Build out a 360º perspective by combining these in-depth buyer insights with sophisticated analytics on your prospect and customer data footprints to understand what they have done and what they are likely to do.

For example, we use our analytics capabilities to identify segments of buyers that you can better address in targeted ways. Similarly, we can identify and examine what characterizes and motivates your most valuable customers so you can focus on them.

3. Create “connected content”. That’s what we call the creative process that yields messaging and content rooted in the insights generated from steps 1 and 2. To be truly incisive, often we test the concepts and executions through the qualitative persona research process before we go to market.

More than speaking in the buyer’s language and addressing, head-on, the issues that concern them most, connected content is inclusive.
Because the input and insights come from Sales, Marketing, Research, and Data Analytics, every member of your organization is vested in making connected content the best it can be.

Introducing The Complete Product Marketer

Product Marketing is indisputably the product maven – it’s what you know and what you do better than anyone. This three-step process helps you to build on your strengths and connect them to your buyers so you can focus on the messages that are most important to them.

This is the journey that Product Marketing must take to become disruptively human. Then, you walk the walk and talk the talk, in their language, directly to the people who are your buyers, about the full value you bring. Reap the results.