Category Archives: marketing

Never-Ending Product Revisions: Who Cares?!

I was catching up last week with a former client- a very bright, articulate, and to-the-point MarCom professional with years of experience in the med device industry. I was sharing some of our recent new product launch client success stories. (FYI – Here’s a “how-to” summary from a recent talk I gave at the Health IT Marketing and PR conference).

She raised the question of how to handle continual revisions to products (vs. brand new or next gen products that are clearly worthy of significant launches). The key disconnect she identified is when the product manager thinks every revision is significant, field sales doesn’t, and MarCom is stuck in the middle.

Here’s how she put it:

It’s a drip, drip, drip of improvements that on their own may not have much value. Eventually it all adds up to some nice functionality but I’ve seen a fair amount of disconnect between the field and the business unit in the significance of these modifications. From my standpoint, I am always trying to tell the segment/issues-based story. So, what does it mean? What problem does it solve for the customer, what is the big issue it is addressing? The field is always asking, the business unit has trouble articulating. MarCom has to figure it out. It also makes for a very fuzzy launch with no clear beginning and end because it’s always ongoing.

What to do? Do your research. Don’t put Marcom in the unfair position of bridging the gap. Use the customer as your guidepost to decide what improvements are and are not significant. This means you need to 1) know what problem you think your revision solves, 2) determine if and why it matter to customers, 3) figure out how important the improvement is relative to the status quo, and 4) be able to create a compelling story about the new and improved device.

Set up metrics in advance as to what level of customer response constitutes significance. Combine that information with revenue projections to determine what investment should be made in promoting the revision.

BTW, if you can’t make a story that you find compelling, don’t expect your customers to be sold. There may just not be a “there” there. Instead, position the revision as what it is – another in a series of small improvements to an important product, from a company dedicated to continuously making good things better. No shame in that; or in telling the truth.

Esurance Gets Off Track with “7 1/2” Minutes Campaign

Esurance has some really good campaigns that reflect a solid positioning strategy and express a compelling value proposition around saving money online. However, the new campaign misses the< mark by shifting the focus to saving time – 7 1/2 minutes to be exact.

Continue reading Esurance Gets Off Track with “7 1/2” Minutes Campaign

Connecting with Customers: The Value of Making A Mistake

He forgot the words to his own song.

Iron & Wine, a pop/R&B singer-songwriter was performing at an outdoor summer concert we were at recently. In the middle of his third song, he hesitated, mumbled a few words, laughed at himself, then got back on track with the lyrics. Meanwhile, the crowd roared with approval. What was that about?? Continue reading Connecting with Customers: The Value of Making A Mistake

Introducing Compassionate Nonviolent Marketing: A New Paradigm for Healthcare

How do we hunt down our target customers?
What market niches can we seriously exploit with our solutions?
What’s our plan of attack to capture these business partners?

Several med device clients asked me these kinds of questions over the last couple weeks as we were strategizing their business development plans and marketing efforts.

Exploiting, attacking, hunting down… I’ve been feeling disturbed for awhile at the predatory nature of the metaphors commonly used in business development. Not just because our clients posing these questions are in the humanitarian business of serving the healthcare industry and improving care. It’s mostly because this language promotes an adversarial relationship dynamic in which the business aims to overpower, dominate, and subdue its customers. The business “wins” when the customer submits.

I don’t mean to discount the value or need for warlike thinking – it has its place.  I appreciate the wisdom in Sun Tzu’s classic treatise The Art of War and have applied it in our work. However, even in in war it is not all about aggression or attacking, as evidenced by this seminal Sun Tzu quote: “The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.”

Bottom line for business development, a violence-based paradigm is self-defeating. It perpetuates a negative mindset and wears people down. And mostly, it doesn’t genuinely meet customer needs or sustain customer relationships. I believe it also greatly reduces profitability over the long haul.

The alternative is what I am hereby dubbing “Compassionate Nonviolent Marketing” – greatly inspired by Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication process (more below).  It starts with righting our language, because our words reflect our thoughts and shape our actions.

Let’s try it by reframing the business development questions above into the Compassionate Nonviolent Marketing paradigm.

This: How do we hunt down our target customers?
Becomes: How do we find and make welcome our target customers?

This: What market niches can we seriously exploit with our solutions?
Becomes: What market niches can we seriously benefit with our solutions?

This: What’s our plan of attack to capture these business partners?
Becomes: What’s our plan of action to meet the needs of these business partners?

Do you feel different when you read the new versions — more optimistic, connected, energized? I do. Might the new way you feel change the decisions you make, actions you take and the way you interact with customers? Might you get better results? I hope so!

This is just the very beginning. Much work is needed to expand and apply this thinking. The good news we stand on tall shoulders – Marshall, MLK, Ghandi, to name a few – and we have a rich history of nonviolence to draw upon and apply to business, especially to marketing. We also can apply the work of leading business minds who promote infusing love (yes, love!) into business as the way to be more successful and profitable. I’m thinking of the practice of my friend and banking executive Neville Billimoria whose email signature is simply “Love Neville” as well as leadership guru Steve Farber’s Radical Leap books (FYI, the “L” in Leap is for Love). If you know of other work in this space, please let me know. This will be an ongoing collaborative effort.

May Nonviolent Marketing become an influential and positive paradigm shift in business. May it serve you, your company, and your customers well.

Note: Marshall Rosenberg created the Nonviolent Communication (NVC) process in the 1960s. It’s also referred to as Compassionate Communication because the core premise is about understanding, valuing, and meeting people’s basic human needs. NVC is far from a touchy-feely philosophy divorced from reality. Check out this video (showcased here on Upworthy) where Marshall is demonstrating how to apply NVC to very hostile situations including terrorism. I first learned about and applied NVC when dealing with communication and respect within my own family. I try to apply it at home and in my consulting work everyday.

“Wrong Reason” Marketing Wins Again!

What is “wrong reason” marketing? It’s when you the marketer flip the benefits you’re pitching from the right reasons to the far more effective wrong reasons.

Great example was highlighted in a recent UPWORTHY post with this striking headline:
When Their Sad Ads Stopped Working, One Animal Shelter Tried Out A New Idea. It Saved 5,000 Dogs. Continue reading “Wrong Reason” Marketing Wins Again!

Marketing “Be Good to Yourself” the Smoothie King Way!

I was craving a healthy snack after a day of meetings at CDC in Atlanta recently and happened upon Smoothie King, a new-to-me chain. Which is where I saw a sign with this Be Good to Yourself slogan.be_good_to_yourself
It was compelling, made an emotional connection, and tied to an important personal value. Who I can disagree with it?! Continue reading Marketing “Be Good to Yourself” the Smoothie King Way!

Baseball, Bobbleheads, & “Wrong Reason” Marketing

Why do people go to ballgames? To see great players, to support their team, for the love of the game, right? These are the “right” reasons.
Sometimes “wrong” reasons work better. Take Dodger fans. The Dodgers are barely playing above .500, not so good for the most expensive pro team on the planet. Yet they’re consistently winning in attendance. Continue reading Baseball, Bobbleheads, & “Wrong Reason” Marketing

Cause Marketing OR Sleeping with a Mosquito

I was at the San Diego Cause Marketing conference this week. Gave a short talk on Radically Putting Customers (Not You!) At The Center, intended to inspire nonprofit leaders to not let passion for their cause get in the way of “right-seeing.” Which means shaping their organizations to be “customer-satisfiers” rather than product-centric “program producers.” I referred to the importance of preventing myopic thinking and forgetting about the reason we exist – to serve. More here, in a short piece I wrote about “Marketing Myopia.” Continue reading Cause Marketing OR Sleeping with a Mosquito