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Cutting Through The Noise – Getting Marketing On the Map

Based on my last post, I thought it might be helpful to present several ideas about how to get small/young companies to focus on investing in strategic marketing, early in the product/service development cycle. First, let’s look at the sources of the problem.

Based on my last post, I thought it might be helpful to
present several ideas about how to get small/young companies to focus on
investing in strategic marketing, early in the product/service development
cycle.

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First, let’s look at the sources of the problem.

  • Gotta
    get it out the door!
    “–CEOs are under the gun from the “get go” —
    budgets are tight and there is tremendous pressure to get to market
    quickly. As such, an activity that is not absolutely necessary is shelved
    for later consideration. The mantra, “let’s get the product out and then
    we can deal with the rest” is a fairly common one. It
  • If
    you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail
    “–in small companies,
    CEOs often come with technology or finance backgrounds. It is much easier for
    them to focus on the issues with which they feel comfortable. To the
    uninitiated, marketing appears to be anything from fluff to black magic.
  • To
    many young CEOs, marketing reeks of bloated budgets, time-wasting
    fluff-mongers, and generally an impediment to getting any real work done.
    (See Dilbert for more information … .)

Trying to explain the value of marketing is generally a
waste of time. Rarely do I hear a CEO say they don’t believe in marketing; they
all “get it,” they just don’t have any resources for it now … Here is how
you can cut through the noise and get executives to understand what good
marketing can provide. This advice is equally valid for internal resources and
outsourced marketers looking for an engagement.

  • Start
    small–everyone knows that there are certain marketing pieces that any
    company needs; it might be data sheets, customer case studies, or a sales
    presentation. CEOs will spring for these. Once you begin, filling in the
    content require good messages and proper positioning. At this point, most
    companies will spend some time doing some messaging exercises–although
    they won’t want to pay for it and they won’t want to “waste time”
    validating the messages either.
  • Projects
    that have clear deliverables are easier to digest–while it is difficult
    to propose a serious lead generation project with poor targeting and poor
    messaging, the process does lend itself for finagling some proper product
    marketing activities. For example, as part of a lead generation campaign,
    I often propose a white paper describing the market need and the
    product/service’s unique value. This exercise almost always leads to a
    serious discussion about how the company’s sees itself, and the company
    should go to market.
  • Do
    your homework–showing a CEO what a competitor has been able to
    accomplish with good marketing is often a catalyst for getting attention. When
    a competitor is getting a lot of market traction, mentions in the relevant
    forums, etc., CEOs get nervous. Fear is a great motivator. Also,
    presenting a competitive market map shows the CEO you mean business and
    that you get it.
  • Stay
    away from anything that sounds expensive, flashy, or fluffy. Proposing an
    expensive trade show with a customized booth and giveaways is almost
    always a non-starter for young, thrifty CEOs.
  • Leverage
    industry influencers to amplify a company’s message. A project to work
    with industry influencers is often well-received, if you don’t propose a
    $15K+ subscription to an analyst group. Try and quantify the deliverables
    up front in order to set expectations realistically.

These suggestions won’t guarantee success, but they offer a
good start to getting off on the right foot. Comments and feedback are welcome.

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About the author

A technology strategist for an enterprise software company in the collaboration and social business space. I am particularly interested in studying how people, organizations, and technology interact, with a focus on why particular technologies are successfully adopted while others fail in their mission. In my 'spare' time, I am pursuing an advanced degree in STS (Science, Technology, and Society), focusing on how social collaboration tools impact our perceptions of being overloaded by information. I am an international scholar for the Society for the History of Technology.

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