My fascination with Marketing

Assumptions, Marketing, psychology, segmentation, single target market

I have been involved with marketing directly or indirectly for a very long time. Inspite of that, I keep getting fascinated with things that get thrown up when you start analysing something from the basics of marketing.

Last couple of days I have been involved in doing some deep thinking on two of our product / service lines which have not been moving. Whenever something doesn’t move, my first emphasis is always to identify what’s wrong with the database / market. More than 50% of the problems in marketing can be resolved if you have identified the market clearly and then gone about getting the database accordingly.

So one challenge was with a set of partners that we had been trying to court and the other was related to a service offering. When I got down to analysing why the partners were not responding to our messaging, it slowly dawned on me that those companies would not have customers who could need the services we offer.

As an allied example – If you are a carpet cleaner and people you are sending the message to are not responding, then you need to figure out if those people actually use carpets. If they don’t use carpets, then even the best message won’t get you an order. On the other hand if you go to a neighbourhood where you have houses where you can be sure that people will have carpets in their houses, then even a mediocre message will get you some traction.

However since we get so bogged down with transactions, fighting fires and managing teams, we tend to forget the basics. So we start with one assumption and then another gets added and then we forget how many assumptions have got stacked up. But when I do get down to doing work from the basics, there are so many things which get thrown up.

Marketing is 50% maths and 50% psychology / human behaviour. So you can’t miss on the maths, because your survival is based on the maths. On the other hand figuring out the psychology of what will get people to buy is critical. So starting with the smallest unit of the addressable market helps with addressing both the issues well.

Marketing also has immense leverage because it can help your business grow dramatically if managed well. That’s another reason, why I am fascinated with marketing.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!

Budgeting for Marketing Activities – 5

Assumptions, B2B, budget, campaign, Marketing, Marketing Stamina, media, single target market

In the last 4 posts we started with nothing but a napkin and created a rough budget that you can spend every month so that you can hit your target of 10 leads.

While most people you talk to will say Maths is tough, here it’s the reverse. Making 5he budget using math is the easy part. But even if you spend $1600/- on Google or Facebook every month (to understandwhere this has come from, read the 4th part of the post on this topic) , you won’t get leads and you may end the year with no orders but $25000/- gone.

The reason for that , whether you’re using LinkedIn or Google or print ads, these are all only media at the end of the day. Someone has to respond to your ads. If no one responds to the ads then you don’t get the leads.

So you have to test for two things here – if the media is right and if the message is right. My assumption is that you have defined your single target market earlier. If not, then that will be the first step.

Not everyone is comfortable, or using the same media. Some people maybe more comfortable with LinkedIn and not okay with Facebook. In some cases the media you are wanting to use, may not have the ability to target the people who are in your Single Target Market.

Next you have to test your ads to see what gets people to click or respond to an advertisement. You have to change them until you start seeing a response. Then you need to make changes keeping the one that’s getting you a response as the benchmark, or what is called as the “control ” in copyrighting circles.

In marketing there’s no such thing as failure, its all about experiments. So you keep testing various hypothesis till you are able to figure out the best combination of media and message for your market.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!

Market forecasts – how I would get them wrong – 3

Assumptions, B2B, Marketing, Product Management

So in my last 2 posts I wrote about couple of areas, on how as a product manager, I would get my forecasts wrong.

In this one, we will talk about competition. Whenever there’s a good market, you will have competition come in, sooner rather than later. The more the competition, the more the challenges because you have to estimate in advance how competition would react to your offering.

The advantage of the B2B market is that generally, the competition is defined. Until a rank outsider comes in with a revolutionary product, generally the B2B space is defined and the products/services are also known.

In the market – perception is the reality. So if your competition creates a perception of a superior product/service or a cheaper service or a more flexible service, then all your forecasts can go haywire, if the market believes that your product is inferior in any way / more expensive / less flexible.

When you are working with a specific software tool or you are a partner for only a specific kind of equipment, then your options for differentiation decrease. It limits you to primarily two things – experience that you have and the kind of technical expertise that you have created.

If its your own product/service you can leverage on other things like the kind of packaging that you do, or the software code that you have built.

From a competition perspective the other thing that you need to note is the number of sales people in the market from your competitors versus yourself. If you have 3 sales people while you have competition with 7 sales people each, then its not practical for your team to outrun the competition. Your competition will always have more people covering more accounts. Which means your chance of losing a deal is always higher. Planning without this aspect clearly articulated in your assumptions is a grave mistake.

But marketing – especially in B2 is very interesting because of these factors.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!

Market forecasts- how I would get them wrong – 2

Assumptions, B2B, Marketing, Product Management, Sales

In yesterday’s post I wrote about how your plans and forecasts go wrong, if the product on which you have based your service model itself doesn’t succeed or the OEM loses focus.

Today we will look at other aspects where because we didn’t see the obstacles in advance, we couldn’t meet our forecasts. This is again from a B2B perspective where we were involved in direct sales to customers.

One big gap which generally arises when we the product managers, do forecasts, is discounting the human factor. We are so focused on the positives of our product or services that we forget that our product has to be sold by someone. I have tried giving targets and I have tried to get sales people to create their own targets and I have failed in both situations.

The key reasons I think, are because we believe that human beings will work consistently like a machine. We lose focus quite fast. If you have to ensure that your forecasts don’t fail then you need to incorporate the factors which can get your persons de-focused.

So think in terms of what all obstacles may come up that you will need to face and what will be your plan. This doesn’t mean that other things can’t go wrong. Its about figuring out what all you can think of in terms of the obstacles. Also understand that I am not looking at moves your competition will make.

As an example one project execution has not gone as per schedule….and your sales person has to hand-hold the customer. How will he make the sales calls then. What happens if half your sales force leaves together or spread across the year and you are not able to hire the right kind of sales people on time. In B2B sales where the lead times are high getting the new person fully operational is a very big challenge. Same could happen on your delivery side.

The more assumptions about your plan that you can call out in advance, the better you can work your forecasts.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!