Technology marketing

Advice about the marketing of enterprise technology, based on 30+ years of experience, and most particularly upon our flagship Monash Advantage program.

October 30, 2015

Why pitching ability matters

Engineers used to wonder what the point of sales and marketing people was. If a product was good, wouldn’t customers make the correct decision to buy it?

Nobody I know seems that naive anymore, but I did just get a similar question, which may be paraphrased as:

Why do investors judge a startup on the CEO’s pitching ability? Shouldn’t they focus instead on the actual merits of the company?

Most of my answer boiled down to:

Investors’ top concern is management’s ability to execute, and pitching is — or simulates — a large part of execution.

In particular (and now I’m quoting my own email directly):

I finished with one other point that didn’t fit the template, namely:

If you can’t articulate a good pitch, why should we believe there’s a good story in there at all?

I think the entrepreneur who asked me the question was convinced. :)

Related link(s)

September 18, 2015

Third-party quotes in press releases

I’m generally a skeptic about the value of press releases. However:

So my current opinion is:

That fits with my general view that press releases:

That brings me to the subject of this post: third-party press release quotes. For starters, I think the following are pretty obvious: Read more

August 30, 2015

Elevator pitches and other self-introductions

The concept of “elevator pitch” is ill-defined. Strictly speaking, it’s supposed to be how you’d describe your company or product in no more time than the length of an elevator ride. But if you ever actually are in such a situation, you will likely tailor your pitch to the specific listener. Ergo, you shouldn’t have one standard elevator pitch. So I’ll talk about “self-introductions” instead. Whatever we call it, the challenge “How do we introduce and summarize our story in the shortest possible time, or in the fewest possible words?” is a Really Big Deal.

Self-introductions occur at several different lengths, including but not limited to:

Usually, it makes sense to view the shorter ones as being abbreviations of the longer, more complete forms.

Read more

July 21, 2015

The marketing of productivity

Most software technology benefits boil down to either:

My views on the marketing of productivity benefits are similar to what I wrote about the marketing of performanceRead more

May 16, 2015

Your first customers

A couple of the raw startups I advise have recently asked me about a hugely important subject — dealing with their very first customers. The big deal here is that initial customers can offer three different kinds of valuable resources:

*Confusingly, both credibility and product feedback are sometimes called “validation”.

Questions of money are of course heavily influenced by how complete your product or service is. In particular:

Equity investment by your early customers and partners is problematic. In particular: Read more

April 24, 2015

Should you start a tech company?

I occasionally get very hands-on in accelerating a raw start-up. Typically this is when an engineer comes to me with an unquestionably clever idea and asks me — sometimes in very broken English :) — whether and how he can get rich from it. So let’s collect some thoughts on the subject.

This post can be construed as fitting into my “not-very-organized series” about the keys to success. In particular, it draws on my July, 2014 post about judging opportunities.

The product plan

A start-up product idea needs to satisfy multiple criteria. Awkwardly, they’re rather contradictory to each other.

That usually means that the idea:

Criticisms I’ve made repeatedly of specific ideas include:  Read more

March 1, 2015

Marketing advice for young companies

Much of what I get paid for is advising early-stage companies, especially on messaging and marketing. So let’s try to pull some thoughts together.

For early-stage companies, I’d say:

Of course, these subjects are much discussed in this blog. The top three overview posts for young companies are probably:  Read more

February 12, 2015

Messaging and sales qualification

Much of my consulting revolves around messaging, and in particular the need to have multiple specific messages for multiple audiences. Increasingly often, I find myself discussing that in terms of sales qualification, because there’s a strong duality between message crafting and qualification:

Recall the layered messaging model, whose wording I’ll update to:

A good messaging stack works well on all five of those layers.  Read more

January 8, 2015

Marketing to a single person

Marketing is commonly done to single individuals, influencers and sales prospects alike. A number of my posts reflect that reality. Most comprehensive are probably my 2014 post about presentations to small audiences and my 2008 survey of many kinds of influencer. Relevant bits of other posts include:

You can’t sell effectively without listening. This is one of the basic facts of business, yet shockingly many people forget it. You can’t pitch effectively without understanding how the prospect frames what she hears, and you can’t judge that unless you listen to what she says.

from a 2013 post about “fluency”,

If you are a small startup with innovative technology, put as little as possible between your own people who can talk with passion about the stuff, and whoever you’re trying to get coverage from.

from a 2011 quoted journalist rant,

the right person to lead an important relationship is:

  • Usually somebody who can truly speak for your company, and specifically:
  • Has the knowledge and ability to respond to pushback.
  • Knows the influencer well enough to argue back in turn.
  • Occasionally an in-house press or analyst relations staffer.
  • Almost never an outside PR person.
  • from a 2012 collection of marketing communications tips, which also makes the point that you should flat-out ask people how they like to work, and a variety of cautionary tales of how one can bungle meetings or other relationship moments.

    The above can be summarized as:

    I could write a whole post on that last bullet point alone.

    Here are some further tips for productive single-person marketing and persuasion. Read more

    October 30, 2014

    How to start a presentation

    I see many slide decks, a large fraction of which are screwed up right at the beginning. Here are some thoughts on doing better. This post goes together with others that relate to presentations or press releases, including:

    In the first post linked above, I wrote:

    The most generic and reusable part of a slide deck is its beginning — the “setting the table” part. A natural sequence is:

    • Whatever seems necessary to introduce and identify you.
    • Some validation as part of the introduction — company size, customer logos, whatever.
    • The big business problem/need you’re helping with.
    • A little validation about the problem/need.
    • Some common difficulties in satisfying the need, which are happily absent in your solution.
    • Specifically how you meet the need.

    Let’s drill into some of those points.

    Tips for company validation include:

    Read more

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