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Customer Development Presentation

Unlike my classmates who headed to Silicon Valley from UC Davis upon graduation, I moved to Washington DC to work for a defense consulting firm. After a couple of years, "I dropped out" to write a novel, which I subsequently finished, explored the country for 3 months, finally landing in San Francisco and beginning my career in technology.

My book was (is) trite and sophomoric. After all, what insights do most 20-somethings have worth sharing? A lack of experience -- a lack of failure -- makes pontification shallow. One of my younger brothers, who was trying to make a living as a painter at the time, had a great comment. He said that he felt my book, like his art, was merely trying to say too much. That it wasn't that we didn't have good things to say, but that there was lack of discipline in focusing and examining in greater depth a few ideas, rather than "letting it all hang out."

I think young entrepreneurs suffer from a similar malady. Read More »

Quick hit re: lead gen webinar

I just got off a webinar about lead gen in today's economic environment.   I was pleased to see several process-oriented and metrics driven marketing recommendations, including:

  • need to be revenue focused, rather than # of leads focused;
  • marketing taking greater responsibility for pipeline management;
  • measuring, testing, refining every step of way through pipeline;
  • identified information and activity overload problem;

A few key points still missing, IMHO.

First, in today's environment, business needs to be profits-focused, not just revenue-focused.  This is a critical distinction.   An expensive advertising campaign may add more leads to your pipeline, some of whom eventually buy.  You've increased revenue, but hurt the short-term bottom line.   (Arguably there may be longer-term benefits from raising "awareness" through advertising.)

Second, this may just be a language thing, but I'm guessing not.   Marketing and sales professionals continue to talk about the "sales process," e.g., the necessity to create activities and produce collateral that "nurture" customers through the sales cycle.   Despite the fact that this webinar correctly identified information overload as a problem, the end recommendations still pushed for "getting all the information the sales team needs into their hands."  Step back!  This is classic reactive marketing and emblematic of VP of Sales (& Marketing) driven marketing.

Key question to ask:  what is the buyer's process.

Third, "who is the prospect" was asked at the end of the webinar, when it should have been slide 1.   Even if your company was able to handle multiple segments before the economy tanked, you need to reassess to determine what are your profitable segments now. See point 1.

Comments welcome.

Process-Driven Sales and Marketing

A couple of years ago, a colleague and I began developing a process-oriented way to lead companies toward gaining market traction.  The idea was born out of a conversation my colleague had with a partner at Sequoia Capital about how to significantly reduce, if not eliminate, the classic high-burn, low return tactics of typical B2B software start-ups.

So to oversimplify, the classic failure might look like:

  1. Build financial model based on revenue and go-to-market assumptions and present to the Board;
  2. Develop product;
  3. Hire VP of Sales w/ relevant contacts;
  4. Build sales plan based on promises to the board;
  5. Hire field sales team;
  6. Hire marketing person to support sales;
  7. Burn cash, miss milestones;
  8. Go back to board with new assumptions;
  9. Build sales plan based on new promises;
  10. Rinse. Repeat.

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The San Diego Marketing Scene

Since moving (returning) to San Diego from the San Francisco Bay Area in June of 2007, my running joke has been:

In the Bay Area I was a small fish in a large pond.  In San Diego, at least I'm a small fish in a small pond.

bah-dump, bump.

The San Diego market for marketing professionals certainly is different and has, not surprisingly, both its ups and downs.  Clearly, fewer opportunities exist for software and Internet high-tech marketers.  There are just not as many companies as in the SF Bay Area, including Silicon Valley.  San Diego has a strong bio tech industry, but the cross-over is not simple (or at least that's the perception).  Wireless technology is big here, led by, of course, Qualcomm which has resulted in a number of wireless/telecom start-ups.    There certainly is some crossover into this market.  It's my view, however, that a mini-bubble exists in that there are serious business model issues with some wireless start-ups, and I'm guessing the current economic downturn will expose these.  (I talk more about this in a separate post.)

Generally, I'm not feeling a lot of marketing love in San Diego.  Perhaps it is simply the natural evolution of a technology ecosystem.   First a region must build a strong technology base and then a demand for marketing expertise will emerge.  Despite the fact that San Diego-based WebSideStory was instrumental in leading the marketing ROI trend through its web analytics products, and the fact that there are several marketing related start-ups here, e.g., JuiceMetriQs, Island Data (now Overtone, I see), and Certona, generally, the idea that Marketing doesn't mean Madison Ave, appears to me to be poorly understood.

(BTW, I don't know the motivation, but Overtone moved its marketing organization to the Bay Area.  Aside from founders, until recently the entire Ortiva Wireless management team was from outside San Diego.   The same goes for Paraccel. Trend or merely emblematic of the state of San Diego resources?)

There is upside:
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