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Must Know Marketing for Product Managers - July 2013 Practitioner's Workshop Q&A
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Posted By Tench Forbes

July 28, 2013


Abstract: This post contains Q&A with Alyssa Dver, a thought leader, hands-on practitioner of efficient marketing, and author of No Time Marketing. The Q&A summarizes the discussion during her Workshop on Must Know Marketing for Product Managers.

Category: Product Marketing & Demand Creation

The July 2013 workshop focused on product managers, managers, and other staff or business owners who must know enough to work with, evaluate and/or hire other people to do marketing. Alyssa Dver, thought leader and hands-on practitioner who brings practical, efficient marketing assistance to large and small clients around the world provided solutions for creating and implementing marketing programs for all kinds of businesses.

Below, we review some of the questions that came from the audience and others about this topic:

1). In No Time Marketing, you write that successful marketing used to be a matter of creativity, but today it is a matter of precision. Have digital marketing tools such as website analytics enabled and simplified precision in marketing?

The obvious answer is that when using digital marketing tools, we can measure what we market. However, I think the change in how we market is much more significant than that. Being able to measure every marketing dollar spent forces marketers to be accountable and therefore, they really have to think about the impact on whom and what the marketing is supposed to do. It makes marketers consider the goal of each program within the context of the sales cycle and marketing mix. Plus, it makes us really think about what the measure of success is and how will be it be monitored during the entire program so we can make changes even midstream to optimize results. These considerations all now go into the creation of any program (e.g. collaterals, website, events, mailings, etc.) together with the traditional creative parts of marketing such as design and copy development. No longer are slick ads considered ‘good enough’. Everything is developed with ROI in mind - and in most cases, that is a good thing. In some ways, however, it may stifle creativity. We all joke about striving to think "out of the box” but unfortunately, when metrics are valued more than creativity, it’s hard to attract and inspire innovation. So no, marketing isn’t about artistic expression. Good marketing blends creative ideas to most effectively accomplish ROI. I don’t think this simplifies marketing but it certainly does spice it up!

2). What are some of the biggest mistakes that small business owners make when trying to do their own marketing? What is the best way to avoid these key mistakes?

There is one very common mistake small biz owners make – they think because they are smart, resourceful businesspeople, they can do their own marketing. I’ll be the first to admit that marketing isn’t nuclear science but like any discipline, there is knowledge and experience that make a huge difference in someone’s ability to execute efficiently and effectively. It’s also really hard to market your own "stuff” – you are too close to it and can’t see the strengths and weaknesses well. Therefore, it’s really tough to do accurate positioning and messaging which are so critical to everything else in the marketing mix including pricing, branding and the selection of lead generation programs. Yet, many companies don’t recognize that and then wonder why their websites and marketing overall isn’t attracting prospects and turning them into loyal customers. I also hear all the time from entrepreneurs about how great their products are and so they don’t believe that they need to do any marketing. I don’t even argue anymore with these claims because I know sooner than later, they will come back asking for marketing assistance to help the world know how great their product is.

On the flip side, many companies have come to me having spent a small fortune on marketing that didn’t generate any results. They are still desperate to generate qualified leads but now they are hesitant to spend more marketing money. Unfortunately, so many companies do waste precious time and money doing tactical (one-off or a specific type of) marketing at the cost of being more strategic. They then don’t see quantifiable revenue results because their base assumptions were off and that one marketing effort was like sending a single arrow into the sky hoping a bird happens to fly into it.

To avoid these scenarios, its an easy solution - just hire a marketing pro – either on staff or a consultant that has done it enough to know that every business has different marketing needs. As such, the marketing person should start with the marketing strategy and then they can build out the plan thereafter. They can even teach you how to do it if you still want to do it yourself for the long haul. It’s a lot like cutting hair. You ‘can’ do it for yourself - but isn’t it smarter to hire a professional who you have been recommended to so that you minimize your risk and do it right the first time?

3). For small business owners or company managers looking to hire a marketing manager, what are key attributes for a successful candidate? That is, what are the key questions to ask?

Certainly ask about his/her experience and what he/she did themselves specifically. Also be sure to ask how do they know their marketing programs were successful by asking how they measured them. To me, impressive marketing is only impressive if it delivered sales. Big events or other costly programs don’t rock my world – revenue does. It should rock your candidate’s world, too. I also think it’s important that marketers are deliberately and constantly learning. That is, they are actively going to classes or reading about new marketing technologies and techniques, - AND experimenting with them! And lastly, I think marketers need to be very in tune with popular culture and social trends as they help reach and motivate various types of consumers – even if you are marketing only BtoB.

4). How would the differences in B2B and B2C marketing change the applicability of the processes outlined in No Time Marketing? Also, to use B2C as an example, would there be changes in the No Time Marketing process between industries such as software products or commodity chemicals?

The process of marketing is ubiquitous no matter who is the consumer and, in fact, whether you are marketing BtoB and BtoC, as well as, marketing products or services. The process directs your thinking about what, who and why someone buys what you are selling. Once you clearly understand those fundamentals, then you can decide the best way to market. The process remains consistent no matter what the product or business – what differs is how you answer and apply the process from one product to the next. The No Time Marketing process describes how to plan strategically even if you are a very small company with very limited resources.

5). What is your view on the efficacy of social media marketing on Facebook or LinkedIn, especially for small businesses?

The real answer is "it depends”. In most cases "it” is the target market. For example, if your target market is IT executives, Facebook may not be the best channel - it may be a potential marketing channel but not necessarily the best one. However, if your target market is stay-at-home moms, Facebook is most likely a top choice marketing channel. Further, social media, like any marketing tool, should be a good fit for the market you are trying to reach and then used properly. With social media (more so than with other marketing channels), it must be tended to frequently using best practices that do change somewhat frequently. Facebook, as only one social media example, is hard to stay abreast of all the changes plus, posts and comments need to be managed daily. But for the right audience and product, Facebook can be an extremely effective way to reach customers and prospects at an overall low cost. As with any marketing tool, using it "sort of” may not deliver optimal results. Perhaps more so with social media, it is often better not to use it at all than use is half way. Social media leaves a permanent trail and unless you commit to using it well, your trail can paint an unprofessional and negative picture for the world to see forever. So use social media if it’s a good fit for your target market and for your company’s abilities but consider all the other marketing tools you can pick from to determine what is really best for your company marketing short and long term.

6). In No Time Marketing, you provide 8 steps for developing a marketing plan, although you say that it is not possible to implement all 8 steps. What step, or steps are the most important to do first, and why?

To clarify, you can’t do all 8 steps at the same time but you should definitely do all of them! The No Time Marketing process underscores the importance of doing ‘good enough’ planning – that is, having enough information so you can defend your marketing decisions and develop a strategy that plays to your company’s strengths. The only way to do this is get data that supports your decisions rather than just relying on your gut. In the end, some of your marketing will be driven by your experience and common sense but the more you can justify decisions with data, the better for you and your company. Then, and only then, can you proceed to develop effective positioning, messaging, pricing and ultimately lead generation initiatives. The next No Time steps involve measuring and revisiting the plan frequently enough to ensure its working well and to adjust it as need be – with as much data to support those decisions as possible. The entire cycle is perpetual and ensures that marketing plans don’t go stale or otherwise are aligned with competitive market or internal business changes.

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