Creepy Customer Care, Thanks But No Thanks?

Get Out and Engage! – Why You Need Both Customer Empathy AND Intimacy to Drive Aligned Engagement

Do you know what keeps your customers up at night? What gets them excited in the morning? Have you walked in their shoes? Do you seek to understand before being understood?

All timeless cliches, right? But many marketers forget to take them to heart. Many sit in their cubicles (or home offices these days) and fail to engage in discovery conversations. They are “too busy” to keep up with news of the industries they serve, the functions they support, and the businesses they are trying to help. Worse yet, they seem more focused campaign metrics and business results than on customer problems and transformation.

Is this unfair? Probably a bit. But achieving what I call Aligned Engagement, where your narrative and messaging, and the content and programs based on them, breakthrough and have maximum impact and results requires both customer intimacy, a clear understanding of the business and personal goals and challenges of your buyers and users, as well as customer empathy, understanding how they think, feel and act to meet and exceed these goals. Without intimacy, your programs will lack meaning, and while customers may appreciate the empathy, they will probably just say, “Thanks for caring, but no thanks, I’m not buying”. And with high levels of intimacy, and low empathy, you’ll feel creepy, because you seem to understand them at a business level but don’t relate to them as humans.

Aligned Engagement, where the magic happens, is at the intersection of high levels of customer intimacy and empathy. So get out of that email inbox and spreadsheet and go engage. Talk, zoom, survey, watch user testing, sit with customer success, the options are endless. Don’t be a marketing wallflower, get out there and learn and care. The rewards are many and the opportunity is yours! – Ken

I’ll be talking about the role of customer empathy and intimacy in building your breakthrough narrative in my March 18th Webinar, I hope you can join me.

Five Bad Messaging Habits Every B2B Brand Should Break

In my post of November 4th, I outlined the Five Messaging Habits of Highly Successful B2B Brands, in this post I’ll take on 5 Bad Habits to Break. If you’d like to learn more, watch my free recorded Webinar on this topic.

We all have bad habits, both in our personal and professional lives. Over the years, I’ve noticed 5 Messaging Habits that get in the way of B2B Brand Success. Let’s take a quick look at these 5 bad habits to break

  • Bad Habit 1: Overvaluing Value
    • Value is critical to success. However, it is a necessary but not sufficient condition for great messaging. Put another way, value is a great justifier of purchase, but it is rarely a motivator. In today’s crowded marketplace of ideas, if you ONLY focus on value, at the cost of story and experience, you will NOT breakthrough and your value will be wasted. Overvaluing value is a habit you must break to lead.
  • Bad Habit 2: Confusing Strategy with Story
    • My business strategy is about ME, not my customer. My market story or narrative should center around the customer, with my brand as “best supporting actor” but not the lead. Keep your strategy tight and save it for investors, but make your customer the hero your go market story. Brands that talk too much about their business strategy instead of the transformative customer story simply don’t get noticed by overwhelmed buyers.
  • Bad Habit 3: Being Impatient
    • It takes the 3-5 repetitions for a new idea or “meme” to implant itself in a meaningful and impactful way in the human brain. Yet many expect a new message to move the needle in weeks if not days. Because of this, we tweak, throw out and revise messaging so much, we lose the impact of repetition, dramatically lowering our effectiveness. Be patient, we are fighting a war against competition that is measured in months, quarters and years, not days, weeks or campaigns. If you aren’t tired of saying it I guarantee you haven’t said it enough
  • Bad Habit 4: Getting Stuck in the Weeds
    • We LOVE our product and we love to talk about their amazing features. And even if your baby has the most beautiful eyes in the world, how many pictures of them do your customer’s really want to see. Getting stuck in feature/function land is a habit we need to break. We need functional, motivational and transformative value. But most founders and product folks get stuck in the functional weeds, giving lip-service to the layers of messaging above that.
  • Habit 5: Talking Too Much
    • Tell, tell, tell and tell some more. Whitepapers, product data sheets, feature comparisons, etc, etc, etc. Take a lesson from (Pre-covid) Costco. Show, sample and buy. Telling is boring, telling is too demanding on the audience and telling is simply lazy marketing.

Want to improve your results, start breaking the bad habits and living the good ones.

To learn more, watch my recorded webinar on this topic.

ForgeRock – Access the Future

ForgeRock - Access the Future

Client Success Story
ForgeRock

Challenge:

ForgeRock is a leader in the Identity and Access Management space.  Having been founded in 2010, ForgeRock has broad platform capabilities and an amazing global customer base.  ForgeRock’s platform provides solutions across both employee, customer and IOT identity challenges.  Despite their platform and product leadership, in mid 2019 ForgeRock had limited brand recognition and even those who did know the company did not have a good understanding of what the company did.  ForgeRock needed to tighten up its positioning, develop a clear narrative, and consistently project it in all their go-to-market activities.  A major product release was the ideal “vehicle” for this  “relaunch” of an updated brand, new market narrative and value messaging to support the goal of growing and accelerating the company’s market leadership

Project:

Ken worked with the executive, product, sales and marketing leadership teams to develop a go to market narrative and value messaging platform that focused on magnifying ForgeRock’s ability to accelerate successful Digital Transformation for its customers.   The resulting story, titled “Access the Future”  and its companion value messaging, both differentiated ForgeRock from its competitors and magnified the value of their platform for buyers.

Results:

Ken hit the ground running with us.  His deep experience in security and B2B businesses helped him quickly come up to speed on identity and access management and understand its importance to digital transformation. But more importantly, his framework and methodology helped us clearly articulate our brand, message and value in the context of our customers making their ‘hero’s journey!” – Atri Chatterjee – Chief Marketing Officer, ForgeRock

Chatterjee continued, ” The results of this work started coming in right after our product launch. Our new messaging project drove everything we did to market ForgeRock. This resulted in an increase in website traffic by over 50% in three quarters. In that same period, our visibility with prospects, customers and analysts also went up tremendously resulting in a steady increase in inquiries and inbound leads.”

 

 

 

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The 5 Messaging “Habits” of Highly Effective B2B Brands

View the recording of my 5 Habits Webinar here

Market Leaders do it better! When you are a follower, it feels like you are pushing a boulder uphill while your rival leader is like a snowball rolling down. So what are some of the messaging habits that Market Leaders consistently show? Here they are and why they are so dang important

  • Habit 1: Transformative Narrative
    • Their “story” is aligned with the customer’s reality yet challenges it and transforms their outcomes, making their offerings the magic in the customer’s Hero’s Journey. When brands tell a transformative aligned story they breakthrough and get attention and put the best prospects into the top of the funnel and creates more engaged and motivated customers.
  • Habit 2: Message Depth
    • Leaders layer their message from and include all 4 of the key value layers communicating aspirational, transformational, motivational and foundational value and do so for both the business and the individual user/buyer. Depth of messaging accelerates pipeline velocity from the top to the bottom
  • Habit 3: Experience Rules
    • We now live in the “show-me” era. Leaders demonstrate their value from the first click to the purchase and beyond. Whether a product led Go To Market or a traditional one, you need to demonstrate and deliver value in compelling, innovative ways. Demonstrating value early and often drives acceleration into your pipeline
  • Habit 4: Category Leadership
    • Leaders define, (re-)create and lead their categories. By connecting their solution to important customer problems, they re-frame the market and tilt the playing field to their advantage, changing evaluation context and criteria in their favor and building “unfair” market momentum.
  • Habit 5: Shared Purpose
    • Their brand purpose is a shared aspiration with their customers. How they team together to make the business world or society at large better. Shared purpose creates customer commitment and loyalty

Commitment, Breakthrough, Momentum, Velocity and Acceleration, who doesn’t want these? What other habits do you see from market leaders?

Want to learn more, view the recording of my 5 Habits Webinar here.

DeepFactor – Launching Into A Developer Blind Spot

DeepFactor - Launching Into A Developer Blind Spot

Client Success Story
Deepfactor.io

Challenge:

DeepFactor was founded by two industry veterans who deeply understood some of the challenges across security, performance, and compliance that face today’s software development teams.  Having built an initial product, DeepFactor needed to translate the co-founders’ vision into a compelling go to market story and message platform, and implement that platform across initial go to market assets such as website, datasheet, and sales presentation. In order to launch with velocity, DeepFactor needs a differentiated story that was targeted and consistent with their product led go to market strategy.

Project:

Ken first helped the founding team refine the target market segments and personas and refine the Go To Market strategy and then develop a compelling market narrative and value messaging platform and implement that message in a powerful launch. The resulting story, titled “Runtime Ready”  describes how developers are “Runtime blind” and DeepFactor can transform their DevOps process to deliver Runtime Ready releases. 

Results:

 “Ken brought not just process and framework, but deep industry knowledge and insight. Ken’s work and advice has delivered key contributions to our early success.” – Kiran Kamity, CEO and Co-Founder, DeepFactor

DeepFactor’s launch has established for them a unique positioning and initial toehold in a crowded but growing market.  Early results include several marquee  initial customers and upcoming partnerships.  By clearly positioning DeepFactor as a unique and meaningful solution, this work has created a platform for future growth and success.

 

 

 

Featured Clients

FastSpring – Sell More Compete Big

FastSpring - Sell More, Stay Lean, Compete Big

Client Success Story
fastspring.com

Challenge:

FastSpring, an e-commerce platform for software companies, was having a challenging time positioning itself and its value in the marketplace. While many companies offer point solutions that software companies can piecemeal together, FastSpring’s real value is in being a Merchant of Record that combines a robust technology platform with e-commerce expertise. Because of this unique and extremely robust offering, the team often struggled to properly convey the full value of FastSpring.

Project:

Ken worked with the executive team and sales and marketing leadership to develop a story and messaging platform that highlights both the aspirational value and tangible ROI that their customers can achieve when they work partner with a full-service e-commerce partner and how they can now “Sell More, Stay Lean, and Compete Big.”

Results:

“With Ken’s methodology, process, and facilitation, we were able to develop our messaging to better articulate who we are and how we help our customers,” said FastSpring VP of Marketing, Sarah Bottorff.  “As a result, we have already seen significant improvement in metrics across our entire sales and marketing pipeline.”

Since rolling out the new story and messaging platform in mid-2019, FastSpring has seen significant revenue and pipeline growth.  As Bottorff points out, while that success is due to great execution across the entire company, getting alignment behind a powerful, customer-centric and inspiring message has been a key component in its achievement.

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“Filming” Your Blockbuster B2B Go To Market Story

Much is made by many including myself of getting your go to market narrative and value messaging nailed. SO IMPORTANT. Without a great story and value messaging, you can NEVER reach and leverage Message-Market Fit and achieve and grow market leadership. Aligning your value with customer transformation; making your customer the hero and your product/solution the magic in their journey is critical to success. Like a blockbuster movie, your story or script has to be great.

However, while all blockbuster movies have great scripts, many of the best scripts are never great movies because of a failure of creative execution and/or lack of effective promotion and distribution. It takes not just a great writer and great script, but an excellent creative team (director, actors, camera, sound etc…) and targeted and successful distribution/promotion to make a great movie.

Likewise, to build a blockbuster Go To Market success you need not only a great story, but great creative execution across all your go to market assets (Website, collateral, explainer video, sales deck, product experience…) and targeted and high impact promotion and distribution. Well known SaaS business leader Jason Lemkin writes on his site SaaStr, “Your Marketing Site Really Should Be Even Better Than Your Product” and this is all about great creative execution, strong narrative and value messaging. And as every marketer knows, in the crowded market targeting, selecting, and executing high impact demand generation programs is also critical to success.

Sorry no short cuts to success, don’t under-invest in your script (narrative, messaging and positioning), your creative execution, or your targeted promotion and and distribution strategy. It starts with the script, then moves to the creative and “ends” with the promotion. So when thinking about your blockbuster Go to Market, remember this simple equation:

Great story+ Amazing creative+ Targeted and leveraged promotion = Blockbuster

See you in the market – Ken

FireEye – Modern Malware Exposed

FireEye - Modern Malware Exposed

Client Success Story
fireeye.com

Challenge:

Ken engaged with FireEye in late 2009. At the time, they had revenues in the low millions of dollars, primarily in the .EDU market. FireEye came to Ken to help them better explain their value to buyers who could not fit them into a current category in the Network Security Market.

Project:

Working with the Founder/CEO, the Director of Marketing, Product Manager, and the EVP of Sales, Ken delivered a new messaging platform around the concept of “Modern Malware Risk.” The company re-launched in April of 2010 at the RSA Security Conference with a new message of Modern Malware Exposed, a new category of Next Generation Threat Defense, and an integrated online and offline set of properties and deliverables.

Results:

FireEye leveraged and built great success in the market with this messaging and positioning for the next 4 years. FireEye’s September of 2013 IPO valued the company at more than $2B.

(For more details on this story, see Launching to Leading, pages 11-13.)

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Jumio – Trusted Identity as a Service

Jumio - Trusted Identity as a Service

Client Success Story
jumio.com

Challenge:

Ken engaged with Jumio in late 2016.   Jumio, a provider of real-world identification technology and services, had a differentiated offering, but was challenged in communicating why this mattered to prospective customers.  They too often found themselves fighting feature rather than value battles.

Project:

Ken worked with the executive team and sales and marketing leadership to develop a story and messaging around Trusted Identity as a Service, and developed both a Viewpoint story and detailed product messaging.

Results:

Chief Revenue Officer Robert Prigge said, “The process we went through with Ken was transformative.  It crystallized the value and uniqueness of our offering to our customers in a way we never expected.   It has changed not only the way we talk about our service, but the way we think about it and our priorities going forward.”

In Q1 of 2017 Jumio announced a momentous quarter, adding the most enterprise customers ever in a quarter and breaking daily transaction volume records.

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