Yet Another (ex-)VC Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘marketing

The Editor Every EBook Author Needs:

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Been spending a lot of time reading books about copywriting, like:

And it got me thinking…

For my next book I’m going to hire not just a copy editor —  I’m going to have a marketing copywriter edit it (well, at least the beginning of it), too.

Why?

Well, on any of the ebook platforms folks interested in your book can read the first few pages or chapter as a free sample.

That sample needs to really draw them in so they buy the book.

So it should be written like a long form sales letter.

Hence the need for a copywriter…

Written by John Gannon

March 4, 2016 at 2:45 pm

Gurley dispels the myth of The Church of Lifetime Value of the Customer (LTV)

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Some people wield the LTV model as if they were Yoda with a light saber; “Look at this amazing weapon I know how to use!” Unfortunately, it is not that amazing, it’s not that unique to understand, and it is not a weapon, it’s a tool. Companies need a sustainable competitive advantage that is independent of their variable marketing campaigns. You can’t win a fight with a measuring tape.

via The Dangerous Seduction of the Lifetime Value (LTV) Formula « abovethecrowd.com.

Written by John Gannon

September 5, 2012 at 11:54 am

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Pros and cons of Push and Pull product positioning and differentiation

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In my view, there are two types of product positioning and differentiation: Push and Pull.  Both have benefits and drawbacks.

Push

A Push positioning and differentiation strategy assumes that you understand the market and your customers well enough that you can come up with some positioning that sets you apart from the competition.  You have a vision and hypothesis about why you’re different and better, and you push that message to the masses, without extensive customer validation.

Pros: To develop this kind of positioning, all one has to do is look at the competition’s literature and come up with positioning that seems sufficiently different from the alternatives.  Potentially saves time because it can be done without speaking to customers.  Maybe a good first step in developing a go-to-market strategy.

Cons: The competition may have it all wrong and have no idea about what customers really want, so trying to work around the competition’s messaging may be pointless, since they all have it wrong anyways-and you probably do too since you haven’t spoken to any customers!

Pull

A Pull positioning and differentiation strategy implies that your customers tell you what features, functions, positioning, and messaging that they find most compelling.  You use these “pulled” items as the crux of your messaging and positioning versus a hypothesis about the messaging and positioning that will resonate with a customer.  This is how the Customer Development guys would argue that you should develop your messaging and positioning.

Pros: You’re using positioning and messaging that has been validated by numerous potential customers in your target market.  These are the reasons they see your solution as different…and who are you to argue with the people who have the money?

Cons:  Requires extensive customer interactions to identify the things that customers feel are the differentiated features of your product.  Easier said than done and may require several, iterative cycles of customer interaction.

What are your thoughts on Push vs. Pull?  Are there certain markets or types of products where one strategy is superior to the other?

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Written by John Gannon

February 21, 2010 at 2:14 pm

How to bring a product to market

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I ask everybody what they use the product for, and I’m trying to see, really, who has the most passion around the product. And usually it breaks down by use cases, sometimes by user types. It’s really just looking through the initial data to really understand who really needs this product, and it can be on demographics, it can be on use cases, it can be on a lot of different things. But once you really understand a group that really needs the product, then you start to have that true North for the business — the part that you can actually start to build a business that will grow and thrive around if they represent a big enough market.

via How to bring a product to market / A very rare interview with Sean Ellis – Venture Hacks.

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Written by John Gannon

December 15, 2009 at 9:50 pm

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Shrink Before You Grow and Sales 2.0

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This past Thursday I left the friendly confines of VMTurbo HQ and attended Highland Capital Partners‘ “Sales 2.0” conference in Cambridge, MA.    The conference was dedicated to sharing knowledge about the “low touch” sales model –  a sales model that does not depend on an army of direct sales representatives knocking on customer doors and doing face-to-face meetings.   Unlike the traditional sales model, the “low touch” model relies heavily on taking leads from the web and moving them through a drip marketing funnel, using inside sales teams to close business when the customer is ready to buy.  This model is gaining quite a bit of attention due to the success of companies like Solarwinds and LogMeIn, both of whom have had recent IPOs.

Every presentation and panel at the conference was great, although the most engaging one was from Joe Liemandt, the CEO and founder of Trilogy.  I remembered Trilogy from the late 90’s, when they were running splashy recruiting events at my alma mater.  Over time they have morphed into a holding company that buys struggling software companies for pennies on the dollar, restructures them, and then turns them profitable.  In his talk “Shrink Before You Grow,” Joe made many great observations and suggestions which came from his experience purchasing and restructuring these companies – and advice which I think is also applicable to software startups.

Here are a couple I thought were particularly interesting…

Field direct sales forces selling $100k-ish deals is a money losing proposition: The dirty little secret of enterprise software is that companies who sell with a field salesforce are typically losing money on each deal.  So, when Joe buys a company, he typically fires the entire field salesforce and moves to a low-touch model (inside sales).  He did say that they will retain one field sales team to chase big ($5MM+) deals, since those are deals that can be done profitably via a direct sales force (and would also be impossible to sell without sending someone onsite to meet senior management).

(My takeaway: use senior management as a direct sales team in the event the customer requires high touch in the sales process AND the deal is big enough to warrant that high touch)

Focus on attach rate and install base, not price: When Joe buys a struggling company, he looks at its product line and figures out which products are not seeing good attach rates with the installed base.  Then, he works hard (by listening to the base and by cutting prices) to get that attach rate up.  They also spend a good deal of resources on support, and do some unconventional but very customer friendly things.  For example, one of the companies they purchased was an accounting software company, and as part of the restructuring they hired CPAs for the support group.  When a user called support, they would not only be able to get software help, but could also get accounting help from a CPA!  Talk about a great way to cultivate a strong install base.

(My takeaway: In a low touch model, there is certainly an element of a volume game, where you are trying to fill your funnel with as many leads as possible, qualify them, and then move them through the funnel until they are ready to buy.  However, your existing base is going to be the best place to look for additional revenue opportunities, so make sure you’re not focusing only on building a massive leads database just for the sake of doing so.)

I’m spending alot of time these days analyzing and learning about the low touch sales 2.0 model, so if you have any good pointers or resources, please add them in the comments!

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Written by John Gannon

December 6, 2009 at 2:29 pm

SEO tips from a guy who doesn’t know SEO

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Google Inc.
Image via Wikipedia

Aside from not blogging recently, I have been spending alot of time speaking with folks in the online marketing space as I work on building the go-to-market strategy and machinery for VMTurbo.  One area which I knew little about when I started having these discussions (although now I do know a little bit more!) is SEO.  Here are some tips I’ve picked up over the last few months:

  • Content is king:  Make sure you have lots of content on your site, that you update it regularly.  Create an editorial schedule that states when you will post, and on which topic, and then stick to it!  Although frequent updates are good, just getting started and sticking to a regular schedule (even if it means you’re only posting every couple of weeks or once a month) is still very useful.
  • Get Links-the more relevant, the better:  The more links you get from relevant and respected sites, the better your SEO ranking.  For example, 1 link to your company’s website from a nytimes.com article about your industry on is going to be weighed more highly than 10 links from blogs that have nothing to do with your industry.
  • Make your content SEO friendly:  There are consultants as well as products and services that can help you make your site SEO friendly.  Make sure you are doing something to help make your site more appealing to the search engine crawlers.  In some cases, especially if you’re a web-based business, it may make sense to develop the SEO expertise in house.  One SEO friendly practice is using META tags with the specific keywords you’d like to rank for, and to include those keywords within your content text as well.  On the flip side, sites that are too Flash heavy often don’t index well with Google.

There’s no rocket science here, but if you’re an SEO newbie, I think these tips can definitely help you get going in the right direction.

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Written by John Gannon

November 23, 2009 at 9:13 pm

A diagnostic for startup marketing departments

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A quick diagnostic I now use for marketing departments: if you are in a startup selling to a specific set of customers and/or industry and your marketing department doesn’t have any people from that industry, your tenure as a VP of Marketing has passed its half-life.

via Steve Blank.

Written by John Gannon

October 20, 2009 at 4:35 pm

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