Giving Thanks for the Twist Image Podcast

It is the season for giving thanks so I want to take a minute to express some gratitude for what I think is one of the best resources out there for marketers.  It doesn’t matter if you are focused on outbound, inbound, sales, PR, social, or product, the Twist Image Podcast, hosted by Mitch Joel, is guaranteed to make you better at what you do.

How’s that?

By providing you a weekly update on what’s working today for marketers and what you should be thinking about next. By letting you hear directly from thought leaders like Avinash Kaushik, Mark W. Schaefer, Jeremiah Owyang, Ben Casnocha, David Weinberger, Seth Godin and many more. And by letting you hear from the authors about upcoming books so you can figure out what to read next (and what to skip).

The most impressive part? The Twist Image Podcast has been released weekly since May of 2006.

Just think about that for a moment. Putting together 333 episodes of marketing advice for FREE is not only a ridiculously amount of work but also takes some serious dedication.

Definitely worth some thanks!

If you have not been listening to the podcast, here’s a few of my favorites from 2012 that I would recommend you check out:

  1. SPOS #329 – Avinash Kaushik Digs Deep Into Facebook Marketing - Want to really understand Facebook as a marketing platform? Start here.
  2. POS #313 – From Economics To Likeonomics With Rohit Bhargava – Do you care if people really like your company? Hear why you should with this podcast.
  3. SPOS #310 – The Startup Of You With Ben Casnocha – Startup thinking isn’t just for companies. Learn from the the author of the book on how you should be thinking more like a startup when it comes to your career.
  4. SPOS #308 – Return On Influence With Mark W. Schaefer – Want to understand online influence and sites like Klout? This podcast is for you.
  5. SPOS #306 – Truth In Marketing With Jonathan Salem Baskin – Let the truth set your marketing free.
  6. SPOS #304 – Creating Brand Movements With Scott Goodson – Learn how you can move your company beyond the brand and into something much bigger – a movement.
  7. SPOS #301 – Knowing Things With David Weinberger – some deep thoughts on knowledge and the internet and how’s it changing over the last twenty years.
  8. SPOS #297 – The Hard Work Of Creativity With Julie Burstein – Understanding the processing and work that goes into being creative.
  9. SPOS #296 – The Art Of The Pitch With Peter Coughter – All marketing professionals have to sell their ideas. Learn how a master of pitching  ideas approaches the task.
  10. SPOS #295 – Mobile Marketing Impact With Gary Schwartz – mobile and marketing. Need I say anything else?
  11. SPOS #289 – Content Marketing With Joe Pulizzi – Want to understand content marketing and how it may work for your business  Start with this podcast.
And as a bonus, Seth Godin has been on the podcast several times and is always worth a listen for his insights and ideas. So here are a few more to add to your listening list:

 

You’re Trying Too Hard

How Did You End Up Here?

There was a void in your roadmap. Your competitor launched a new product. You had extra budget that needed to be spent.

Whatever the reason, there was a gap and the pressure to fill was too great to resist.

The good news is that you responded by shipping. You got something out the door and made a big deal about it. Isn’t shipping always a good thing?

The bad news was the result.

Your customers response varied from “meh” to “yuck“. The market ignored you. Or worse, the market did respond with a “WTF?” and other questions of ridicule.

You’re Trying Too Hard

You should have delayed the launch when you realized it wasn’t going to happen. You should have killed the advertising when you realized it was all smoke and mirrors.

You should have said no when you realized the product wasn’t fully baked.


Start With The Customer Product Marketing Podcast #12 – The New Domain Challenge

start with the customer marketing podcast on product marketing and product managementIn this episode of the Start with the Customer Podcast, I am honored to be joined by Scott Sehlhorst, of Tyner Blain consulting.

Our topic for the call was on the challenge of taking a product marketing or product management job in a new domain area. Scott and I both offered suggestions and tips on what has worked for us as you try to sift through the fire hose of new information.

I hope you enjoy the call and would love to hear your feedback!

You can listen here:

 

or download from iTunes and from TalkShoe.

Show Notes:

Runtime: 27  mins

 

 

The End of Product Marketing

I would like to introduce our guest blogger Dave Wolpert who has a very interesting opinion on the state of Product Marketing to share. Dave is the Founder and Principal of Swordfish Communications, a product marketing and content marketing services firm in Austin, Texas. Previously, he was a product marketer at pcOrder.com, BroadJump, Convio, and LibreDigital. You can also find Swordfish on Twitter at @SwordfishComm. Enjoy the post and looking forward to hearing your thoughts. 

The product marketing function in tech companies is heading for extinction. The work product marketers currently do will continue to be performed, but by different people.

Preparing for the Asteroid Impact

To simplify the Pragmatic Marketing Framework, product marketing provides two broad functions, which can be loosely grouped under inbound and outbound activities. Both of these functions will continue to be of critical importance, but will eventually be de-coupled and performed by others.

On the inbound side, product marketers represent the “voice of the customer” to various groups within their company. Tactically, that means they solicit input from both current and prospective customers, as well as survey competitors and the market-at-large, through a variety of channels. They then synthesize that information and present it to the appropriate internal stakeholders to guide decision-making.

Of course, this is precisely a part of what most product managers do today. And, moving forward, I believe they’ll do it more often to feed progressively faster product development cycles.

On the outbound side, product marketers typically create a spectrum of marketing collateral, from product-focused website copy to white papers. Unfortunately, most product marketers aren’t the best writers, so this work is increasingly “insourced” to a MarCom group or outsourced to marketing agencies or individual copywriters (a.k.a. content marketers).

Product marketers also create “sales tools,” such as PowerPoint decks and sales proposal content. But this is increasingly outsourced, too. Sales can build their own sales decks, and MarCom can make them visually compelling; most copywriters can write persuasive proposal content.

You see where this is going. As product managers become the primary conduit for collecting customer and market insights, and the content creation piece is insourced or outsourced to those with better writing and design skills than the typical product marketer possesses, what is left for product marketers to do?

My answer: nothing.

Aren’t You Forgetting Some Things?

Sure, someone still has to perform the bit roles product marketers play (organize the infamous quarterly sales trainings, plan product launches, define positioning, and so on). But these ancillary roles don’t collectively constitute a full-time job. And again, much of it can—and in some cases should—be sourced to others.

Why can’t Sales organize their own training? Why can’t MarCom or other marketing team members plan a product launch? (After all, launches increasingly involve activities that others manage, like events, social media and PR.) And isn’t product positioning fluid, anyway, often defined evolutionarily by Sales based on what resonates with prospects?

You might be thinking that it’s advantageous to centralize all these roles with one person. I disagree. Part of my frustration as a former staff product marketer was that I was constantly asked to do too much, too quickly, while delivering consistently excellent work. (To wit, check out this exhaustive list of typical primary and secondary product marketer functions.) With so many good outsourcing options available, why would any company want to overload their staff and sacrifice quality?

What Happens Next

The product marketing extinction event won’t be as dramatic or as quick as a giant asteroid hitting the earth. Instead, the role of the product marketer will be peeled back in stages.

This has already begun. At many companies, product management has already replaced the inbound function I described earlier. At others, product marketers have evolved into field marketers by focusing mainly on sales tools that are only used internally; development of externally-facing content marketing tools, like technical white papers, are sourced to others.

Eventually, all the strategically important roles product marketers traditionally play will be stripped. This will inevitably result in reduced wages and, ultimately, product marketers disappearing by forced or voluntary attrition.

Survival is Possible

Will any product marketers survive the mass extinction event I’m forecasting? Only those with an exceedingly rare combination of talents: someone who is exceptional at customer interaction, and who is a superb writer, and who excels at understanding the needs of the Sales team, and whose technical knowledge is comparable to that of the product managers. I’ve met very few such individuals over the years. Ones that good are often promoted to Director or VP roles in their organizations, go off to be independent consultants, or start their own companies.

I paint a gloomy forecast, but if there’s a silver lining in my argument it’s this: individuals with any of these superstar skills will always be in demand. Their job title and department they report to might change, but in the end, companies will find a place for those with valuable skills.

So don’t obsess over how to build a career in product marketing, because that whole field is on the endangered species list. Rather, focus on advancing the skill sets that an ideal product marketer would have. That’s the best way to survive.

 

Image Credit:  viking_79

start with the customer marketing podcast on product marketing and product management

Start With The Customer Product Marketing Podcast #10 – Getting a Product Job

start with the customer marketing podcast on product marketing and product managementIn this week’s edition of the Start with the Customer Product Marketing Podcast, I am honored to be joined by Tim Johnson, of It’s About Value, and Scott Sehlhorst, of Tyner Blain.

Our topic of the call was how to get a job in product marketing or product management. Tim and Scott both share their advice and experience on transitioning into the role and what they would look for when hiring now. We also touch on some of the expanding responsibility of a product marketer and the growing need for customer engagement.

You can listen here:

or download from iTunes and from TalkShoe

Show Notes:

Runtime:  39 minutes

    • How did I get into product marketing?
    • Product marketing – “the fun of sales without the quota”
    • Transitioning from sales – moving from thinking of one customer at a time to thinking about all customers
    • Is a technology background a “must have” requirement for a product marketing or product management role?
    • The marketing skill set and the strategic role of the product marketer
    • Gary Vaynerchuk video on engagement:

groupon

Groupon Wants You To Punish Derrick

During the holidays, I went through my inbox and unsubscribed from the many vendors that over the last 12 months have continuously sent me offers with little to no value. The process to unsubscribe is usually pretty straightforward and uneventful.

Then came Groupon with this short video:

Needless to say that I did punish Derrick (it’s not you Derrick, it’s me).

The simple addition of this video actually got me to re-consider whether or not I should unsubscribe from Groupon. Well just for a few seconds.

Seriously how many more white teeth cleaning offers can I consume within a year?

Anyhow, this is a great example showing how  you can make a boring experience interesting. I would love to hear some other great examples that you’ve come come across.

books

24 Marketing Books for 2012

One of my New Year resolution is to read more books.

Author and blogger Julien Smith spent 2011 reading a book a week. Why a book a week? Julien’s answers,

It feels awesome. It gives you an amazing amount of ideas. It helps you think more thoroughly. It’s better than TV and even the internet. It makes you understand the world more. It is a building block towards a habit of completion. Did I mention it feels awesome?

I love the idea and the commitment to making it a habit. However, with work, family, and finding some time to write a few blog posts and podcasts, I don’t think I can make it all the way to 52 books.

So, I am going to shoot for 2 books a month focusing on marketing and business. 24 books for  2012 doesn’t sound as impressive as 52 but I think it is still a respectable number. It will also leave me time to write-up reviews and put together a few Slideshares for the really good ones.

Here are my two picks for January:

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman was selected as one of the best books of 2011 by Amazon. Here’s an excerpt from the book description,

In the highly anticipated Thinking, Fast and Slow, Kahneman takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. Kahneman exposes the extraordinary capabilities—and also the faults and biases—of fast thinking, and reveals the pervasive influence of intuitive impressions on our thoughts and behavior.

For my second book, I am going with Data-Driven Marketing: The 15 Metrics Everyone in Marketing Should Know by Mark Jeffery. Here’s an excerpt from the book description,

We live in budget-cutting times, and marketing budgets are among the first to get cut. Why? When non-marketing executives take a hard look at the numbers, they often can’t see a tangible link between marketing and overall revenue. So if you’re a marketer today, you’re probably facing the need to do more with less, justify all investments, show results, and still beat the competition. The secret to this balancing act is having—and correctly using—the numbers.

Have any recent or favorite marketing books to recommend for 2012?

 

Image credit:  Amelia-Jane

We Need A Definition of Marketing

Why do we need a definition of marketing?

  • We have an education problem. There seems to be a never-ending confusion on the difference between advertising and marketing. When you have companies like Forrester Research and uber-blogger/ VC, Fred Wilson propagating the wrong definition, you know we have a problem.
Isn’t there already a definition out there?
Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large. (Approved October 2007)
  • This isn’t necessarily incorrect but I would say that it is a definition by marketers for marketers. If you want to explain marketing to someone that doesn’t understand it, this is not going to help. The mainstream definition needs to be simple, to the point, and short.
So, what definition do you suggest?
Marketing is the name we use to describe the promises a company makes, the story it tells, the authentic way it delivers on that promise.
  • And then let’s follow it up with Seth’s explanation on the difference between advertising and marketing (from Mitch Joel’s most excellent podcast) just to make sure it hammers the point home:
Advertising is a price you pay for an undifferentiated product for the masses. Marketing is the way you avoid paying that price. You avoid paying that price by designing a product worth talking about.
That works for me, so now what?
  • My idea is that one of the ways we can get others to start understanding that there is more to marketing than advertising (or social media, or content marketing, etc) is by making sure that this definition turns up first when someone searches for the term. This makes sure that when someone is trying to get educated on the topic, they start off on the right foot.
  • So here’s the ask,
Please go to The Definition of Marketing and share the page, link to it, blog about it and anything else you can do to make sure that it gets lots of Google attention.
  • It may be a small act, but as Howard Zinn said, “Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.”
Why did you pick this definition?
  • It was the shortest and simplest that I could find from one of today’s leading authorities when it comes to marketing. Have a better one? Would love to hear your suggestion.
Image credit:  Jose Téllez
product storytelling introduction

How Not to Start Your Story Courtesy of Buick

When it comes to introducing your product to a potential customer, you have one shot to start things off on the right foot. This is your chance to start your story, create awareness and generate some excitement. However, the last thing you want to do is set the stage with a giant question mark.

I caught a Buick commercial over the weekend (video below) that I think highlights exactly what you don’t want to do. Before the ad gets going, the audio begins with these three words,

With AVAILABLE features….“.

When I hear this, I assume that whatever comes next is an upsell offering and I immediately start to wonder what’s wrong with the base? If they have to start with the upsell just to get my attention, then the base product must not be very interesting or must have something wrong with it, right?

Or could it be that they hoped I missed this subtlety and that I will assume that you get all these great features for their low entry price hence making the product seem more attractive?

No matter what they were hoping to have happen, the result is that they have begun their story on a sour note that may result in a lack of future consideration.

First impressions count. Don’t blow it by sending a mixed message out of the gate.

7 Reasons Why All Product Marketers Should Write

Jason Baptiste recently wrote a wonderful post on the OnStartUps blog titled, Why Every Entrepreneur Should Write and 9 Tips To Get Started. While the post was aimed at the startup/entrepreneurial world, I think it can be easily extended to all product marketers. Being an effective communicator is a core marketing skill and an even more important one for product marketers.

Being able to develop a story and then translate it across all the various channels – media, web, blogs, social – is what in my mind sets apart a good product marketer from and a great one.

Following Jason’s 7 entrepreneurial reasons for writing, here’s my take on why all product marketers should write:

  • You Will Meet Other Smart People – this one is pretty straight forward but may be a surprise for some. Writing and publishing online gives you a chance to interact with people and build relationships beyond your standard network. Bottom line, having a diverse network of smart marketers is always a good thing.
  • Your Experiences Will Provide Insightful Knowledge – the most successful marketers I know have had two things in common. They never stopped learning and they were always generous with advice. We all have successes and failures that others can learn from and sharing helps the overall marketing community.
  • You Will Establish Domain Expertise - no question about it this is an important one. Whether you on the executive path or just getting started, there is now an expectation that you will have a “digital ready” skill set. Case in point, Hubspot’s recent article, How to crush the competition with inbound marketing, calls out the need for hiring digital ready marketers. 
  • It Helps Build Dedication - Unfortunately, writing is hard. By dedicating the time necessary to write, rewrite, and publish, you are building a habit. This is a step towards becoming a life long learner and a better product marketer.
  • Your Communication Skills Will Get Exponentially Better – how can you not want to be a better communicator? Whether it is trying to draft powerful product messaging or to communicate with your sales team or customers, the better the writing the better the results. In a recent HBR article, Eight Ways to Communicate Your Strategy More Effectively, Georgia Everse points out that not all not all messages are created equal and that you must choose different approaches based on your purpose. Wether you are trying to inspire, educate, or enforce, your message must be “simple, but deep in meaning.” The only way to get better at writing these types of messages is to practice. I can’t think of a better way to sum it up than with this thought on communications from Simon Sinek

  • You Will Build An Audience That Will Give You Candid Feedback – have a new idea or a concept you would like help developing?As you start to build a following, you will more opportunity to bounce ideas off your audience and ask for help.
  • It is A Rapid Accelerator Of Serendipity – you never know when that random comment or feedback could turn into a something more – maybe a new friend, maybe a speaking gig, maybe a new career opportunity. All I know is that if you don’t get out there and do the work, the odds of something happening are greatly reduced. 

Last, it is worth pointing out that by writing and publishing, you continually get a chance for others to get to know you and see what a good communicator you are. You might really be a good writer, but without something to point, you are asking people to take your word for instead of being able to see your words on their own.

Image credit:  aless&ro