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How to create your best elevator pitch March 13, 2015

Posted by Mike Gospe in Messaging.
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Mike Gospe's message box in action

Learn how to create a compelling elevator pitch for your new product. This is a new online course created by Mike Gospe.

The “message box” technique is a fun, fast way to create a compelling elevator pitch for your new product or service. For the month of March, this new online course is available for free.


Personas, positioning, & messaging – a highly effective 1/2 day workshop May 8, 2013

Posted by Mike Gospe in Marketing Persona, Messaging, Positioning, workshops.
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Want to rally your marketing team? Marketing is a team sport, not a solo activity. This half-day workshop, which you can run yourself, will help align the team and unleash untapped sources of creativity and positive energy. Here’s how it works. (more…)

Coaching tips on the “message box” technique – the fastest way to producing customer-ready messaging October 31, 2011

Posted by Mike Gospe in Messaging.
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If you are an occasional reader of this blog, you know that I am a strong advocate of three powerful marketing best-practices that are required to anchor any marketing strategy. They are: building personas, crafting carefully targeted positioning statements, and drafting customer-ready messaging. For the later, I learned through much trial and error that the message box technique work best because it’s a fun, engaging exercise that strengthens sales/marketing alignment while always keeping an eye on the customer. Here’s more on the subject, including some coaching tips to guide you to success.

A new sales book that B2B marketers should read June 30, 2011

Posted by Mike Gospe in Just for Campaign Managers, Marketing Operations, The Marketing High Ground.
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I loved Kevin Davis’ new book, Slow Down, Sell Faster! The key here is simple: who ever understands the customer best, wins! Davis embraces this notion by pushing sales reps to really understand the customer, their pain points, goals, interests, priorities, and their buying process before making the sales pitch. (more…)

Marketing High Ground book launched yesterday! May 21, 2011

Posted by Mike Gospe in The Marketing High Ground.
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May 20, 2011, Palo Alto, CA: The Marketing High Ground was celebrated yesterday  at its book reception. If you missed it, here are links to a couple of videos that will tell you more about the book.

In this video, Brian Gentile, CEO of Jaspersoft and author of the book’s foreword, said a few words about the marketing high ground and what it means to both marketers and the companies they work for.

A marketing team is only as strong and capable as the rest of the organization’s understanding of the high ground. Said differently, show me a great marketing company, and I’ll show you a company where every employee behaves as a marketer.

Check out the video segment to learn more about what he said about The Marketing High Ground.

This next video snippet offers a short reading from the book. The journey to the high ground begins with a first step. This excerpt is how my personal journey began, from engineer to marketer to marketing leader.



The temptations of new marketing technologies May 10, 2011

Posted by Mike Gospe in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Operations.
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Technological advancements will continue to offer new and innovative ways for people to communicate with each other and for marketers to streamline the business of marketing. However, if we aren’t careful, these innovations can become a distraction, causing us to take our eyes off of the customer. (more…)

Preview “The Marketing High Ground” March 23, 2011

Posted by Mike Gospe in Marketing Persona, Messaging, Positioning.
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Download an excerpt — The Marketing High Ground

If you are interested in the best practices surrounding persona development, drafting crisp positioning statements, and crafting messages that are relevant and meaningful to your persona, you’ll want to read The Marketing High Ground. Available in May 2011 on Amazon.com, this book is the essential playbook for B2B marketing practitioners.

The mousetrap the world has been waiting for? May 11, 2010

Posted by Mike Gospe in Integrated Marketing, Just for Campaign Managers, Marketing Operations, Marketing Persona, Messaging, Positioning.
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Conceptually, the theories of persona-building, positioning, and messaging are easy to understand.  However, sometimes it’s helpful for a marketing team to critique a real example and then discuss the parallels to their own business.  An example that everyone can easily relate to, and that is separate from the business you represent, is also an effective way to diffuse any emotion that may hinder folks from seeing the lessons associated with trying to execute a poor go-to-market strategy.

The following is a true story: the case of a better mousetrap.  In 1955, an eager entrepreneur introduced  a revolutionary new product that was destined to change the world of “rodent control”.  In addition to producing leaflets, promoting through friends and family, this ad (click on the link below) ran in  a variety of publications at the time.

Ad for a better mousetrap, circa 1955

Issues and Opportunities

You can infer a lot regarding the marketing strategy by looking at an example of the execution.  While the product design clearly is creative (and not for the squeamish), the entrepreneur fell into several traps that are common today, especially in hi-tech marketing:

1) Failure to focus on a clear target segment/persona

Who is the target audience/user/buyer?  It looks like pretty much “everyone.”  For fear of leaving a sales opportunity on the table, the entrepreneur attempted to be all-inclusive.  In a single swoop, he went after farmers, restaurant owners, food processors, meet packers, ships, homes, and orchards.    Although the confusion of trying to address multiple audiences at once maybe obvious to us gentle bystanders, one wonders if anyone asked the entrepreneur the following questions:

  • Who is most likely to buy your product? Who is the persona?
  • Do all these audiences look alike? behave the same way? have the same concerns?
  • What problem(s) are you trying to solve?
  • How well do you really understand the target buyer?

2) Failure to properly position the product

Every product needs to have positioning statement.

What’s in a name? Clearly, not all “mousetraps” are alike.  In 1955 (and even today!), the top-selling mousetrap is the Victor snap-trap.  In 1955 the snap-trap sold for 5 cents.  Our entrepreneur’s mousetrap sells for $29.95.  Branding the product against a generic “mousetrap” nomenclature will not serve his marketing interests.  (Although, a branding effort would introduce its own set of challenges.)

A new category? He’s attempted to establish a new category of mousetraps, namely, the “sanitary, self-setting, portable” mousetrap.  This is good, and goes a long way to justifying such a massive price increase over the competitive alternative. However, what you can’t quite make out in the photos is the following:

  • The mousetrap’s dimensions are 3 ft long, 8 inches wide, and 18 inches high.
  • It holds 3 gallons of water, and is quite heavy (especially if loaded with 102 mice!).

NOTE: Years ago, when I developed my first Positioning Workshop, I had the opportunity to view and touch this actual, very real mousetrap.  Unfortunately, it is actually neither, sanitary, self-setting, nor portable.  We have a category mis-match.

Benefit?  Which benefit? There are many benefits floating around in the ad.  Which one is most important?  Some seem hard to believe.  Again, it’s the “everything for everyone” approach.

For a benefit to be meaningful, it must be relevant to the target audience.  It must also be single-minded, clear, substantiable (e.g. you can prove any claim with data), and differentiable.

Differentiation? We come back to the 5 cent snap-trap alternative.  If anything, this ad makes the competitor’s product look better.

3) Failure to have a crisp, clear “elevator pitch”

Because there was no positioning statement to guide the marketing strategy, the messaging is a confused mess.  The entrepreneur would have greatly benefited from the Message Box template where he could underscore 4 key messages:

  1. An “engagement message” designed to establish relevance with the target audience and their primary “rodent control” pain points they are trying to address.
  2. A “solution message” that illustrates why not all mousetraps are the same, and certain applications require something much more than the standard snap-trap.
  3. A “reinforcement message” that shows how his invention is superior to alternatives.
  4. A “value message” that describes how the target’s life will be better than before after using his new, revolutionary product.

Critique your own work

How well does your ads/direct mail/website stack up?  Use the mousetrap example as a teachable exercise.  Never be afraid to critique your marketing strategies with regards to your persona, positioning statement, and messaging.  It’s not about placing blame; it’s about reaching the “next level” of marketing effectiveness.  Otherwise, your success may be limited to selling 4 units to your brother-in-law.

Good luck!

The search for “evidence” February 26, 2010

Posted by Mike Gospe in Integrated Marketing, Messaging.
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What makes you credible in the eyes of your customers and prospects?  It comes down to proof points.  In a word, evidence.

Evidence is undisputable facts that establsh credibility by offering substantiation that your message is accurate and true.

Evidence may take the form of customer testimonials, benchmark studies, analyst reviews, 3rd-party product comparisons and analysis.  However, in our rush to maket, we sometimes take shortcuts that result in common evidence mistakes.  How many of these have you run into?

Common evidence mistakes can cripple a marketing campaign.

The best place to start our search for evidence is not by asking “What evidence is available?”  Instead, we should ask, “What evidence is needed to support the strongest, most credible value proposition?”  To that end, there may not be a short answer.  The team may need to develop an action plan to get the evidence we need.

But please don’t confuse this we manufacturing evidence!  Like an investigative reporter, the team may need to interview customers to understand what ROI and metrics they have achieved, or they may need to arrange for 3rd-party product comparison testing, or undergo a rigorous round of new benchmarking. 

What’s at stake here is nothing short of a company’s ethics.  Customers and prospects can tell the difference and will act accordingly.

A Word about Messaging January 5, 2010

Posted by Mike Gospe in Integrated Marketing, Messaging.
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In straightening up my office, I ran across a gem buried in my filing cabinet.  It was an early “aha!” moment for me in my marketing career.

Marketers need to guide the target audiences up the messaging pyramid. To jump to the close before establishing awareness and relevance will only lead to heartburn.

Years ago while working on a product launch, my team ran into some messaging trouble.  Our task: to introduce a new product to a new market segment and steal marketshare.  Clear enough.  Yet we struggled to understand why our marketing efforts weren’t getting enough traction.  After a dismal quarter, we stepped back to do a complete post mortem on our launch activities.  The problem we found was with our messaging.  Specifically:

1)  While our product was well received in market segment A, segment B had no idea who we were (even though we thought they did), and

2) When we did an impromptu segment B focus group, we found they were confused and disbelieving of our messages.  Thus, they ignored them.

The team was incredulous.  After all, we were one of the biggest companies around.  To solve our problem, we had to check our egos at the door and focus (again) on the business problem the prospects were trying to solve.  After much gnashing of teeth, we realized that we couldn’t just go for the quick sale.  We needed to invest time with the new segments in order to earn the right to sell to them.

We needed to establish awareness (and relivance!) for our company in segment B.  Only then would we have a firm foundation on which to compare our new product with the various incumbents.  And only then could we showcase our differentiators with confidence.   

To keep us on track, we produced a message hierarchy chart similar to the one shown here.  This helped keep us humble and helped us to define a winning marketing blueprint that worked.  And it worked very, very well!