“Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.”
Turns out, it takes more than a mousetrap for the world to beat a path to your door. Check out this post on LinkedIn to read more.
Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay
You can learn more than a few solution marketing lessons from travel.
For example, a friend recently checked into a new hotel that had only been open for one month. And he was the first person to stay in his guest room… imagine the “new guest room smell”. As he entered his room, he did the usual scan to see what was what… bathroom, closet, a thermostat by the bed with up and down buttons below.
As he got ready to go to sleep, he went to turn down the shades to block out the light. Simple right? Not exactly. Turns out the shades lacked pull cords. And as he scanned the room, he couldn’t locate the cords or an obvious on/off or up/down switch for the shades. He called the front desk which offered to send someone to check on it for him.
He turned back to the thermostat. He was certain that the buttons below belonged to the thermostat, and, having had bad thermostat experiences in the past, he was not about to touch the buttons. But he decided to throw discretion to the wind and push the down button anyways – et voila, the shade went down. No need for the front desk to send someone up. And he was able to get a good night’s sleep.
So what happened?
Whoever designed the hotel room assumed that guests would understand the purpose of the buttons. The buttons lacked a label or an information sheet about how to move the shades up or down. And it’s not that a label was really necessary – had the buttons been placed near the windows their purpose would have been obvious.
It’s easy for we solution marketers to do the same as we talk about our solutions on websites, in collateral, sales presentations or just about anywhere else. Too many solution marketers assume that the other person will understand what we are talking/writing about without thinking it through. But if you know your customer well enough, you will understand everything about them – how they think, what they do know, what they don’t know, the terms and jargon they use. And you’ll use that knowledge to communicate to them in their language, not yours – without making assumptions.
I have always found that when I do that, I increase credibility (“Hey this guys understands me and my problems”) and can have more meaningful and successful discussions or marketing campaigns with my target audience. And you can too – when you avoid making assumptions about what your solution buyer/user knows or does not know.
Updated December 1, 2015 – see links to presentation slides below.
I’m presenting at two great upcoming events in the Boston area – see you there!
New Solutions, New Marketing Opportunities
Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 6:00 pm
Boston Agile Marketing Group
Presentation Slides (Slideshare)
Digital transformation enables companies to innovate in new ways and better serve customers. Learn how to create disruptive solutions from the leaders.
Solution Marketing – Best Practices
Thursday, Nov. 19 at 6:15 pm
Boston Product Management Association
Presentation Slides (Slideshare)
Everyone has a “solution” – or do they? Learn how leaders like Apple, Uber and EMC are transforming markets to drive growth. You’ll learn what solutions are, how they’re different from products, and how solutions help winning companies to better meet customer needs.
If you’re a solution marketer today, there’s a good chance that you are, or will be, using agile marketing. Read on to learn more.
Last night I attended a great event at the Boston Product Management Association, The Marketing Plan is Dead, by Jon Gatrell of Pragmatic Marketing. For some companies, agile marketing is replacing the traditional waterfall marketing plan. Problem is, agile marketing is a “newish” discipline, so many attendees were left wondering what to do next. Where can you learn more? What companies are successfully using agile marketing today?
To answer that challenge, following is a very short list of my favorite resources:
Be sure to comment below on additional resources that have helped you.
Solution. The term is everywhere! It just may be the most overused and least understood term in technology, SaaS, software, consulting, or business today. So what exactly is a solution?
Definition of Solution
Based on my experience working with a variety of companies, here is the Solution Marketing Strategies definition of the term “solution”
A complete and integrated offering that includes everything required to solve a customer problem and provide value to the customer:
- Complete: The solution includes whatever is needed to solve the problem.
- Integrated: The components are designed to work together.
- Offering: Whatever is being provided to the customer – could be a software-centric solution, a series of services, a consumer service or good etc.
- Everything: Includes all of the components – an understanding of users; process; data and content used in the process; hardware, software, other technology; and strategy, integration, support and training services provided by the vendor and their partners (see Solution Framework below)
- Solves a customer problem: The solution fixes a problem or challenge that the customer has.
- Value: The solution provides a benefit that is greater than the cost to fully deploy the solution (i.e., Benefit – Cost = Value)
Now that we’ve defined the term “solution,” let’s take a look at the key components of a good solution.
The Solution Framework
You might think of a solution as following a framework. The Solution Marketing Strategies Solution Framework™ or model describes the following components required to solve a problem. Components can come from the vendor and their partners – and even from the customer. Each of these elements applies to all types of solutions – B2B, B2C, B2E (employee) etc.
- Customer and pain points – While not solution components per se, the customer and their pain points are the reason that the solution exists. I.e., we’re trying to solve a problem; this is the “why” for the solution.
- Users: Solutions are purposely designed to meet the needs of users – everyone who comes in contact with, is a beneficiary or stakeholder of the solution. Users are the “who” for the solution.
- Process: Solutions are usually built to manage some sort of a repeatable, structured process or informal collaboration process. This applies as much to B2B processes like accounts payable processing as it does to B2C processes like hailing a cab from Uber. Process defines “how” the solution works.
- Data and Content: Solutions run on both structured data (such as database records, pricing, analytics) and unstructured content (such as electronic documents, images, sound files, videos, text). Data and content are “what” flows through the solution.
- Technology: Solutions often include technology such as equipment, hardware, software (whether cloud or premise-based), and media (such as CDs or DVDs) that enable the solution to manage the process, data and content for the benefit of the customer, users and stakeholders. Technology “enables” the solution.
- Services: Services fill in the gaps between components and tie the entire solution together into a smoothly operating whole. Services “complete” the solution and can include everything from strategic, integration and deployment services to ongoing support services.
Why it matters
Now that you know what a solution is, you may be asking why it matters at all. The above definition and framework help you to see what it takes to really solve a problem. For example, providing software alone may not be enough to solve a customer problem – and the definition and framework above can help you to see that more clearly. This definition can also help you to see broader opportunities for your company – new ways to serve the needs of customers, for example, by adding new services to your technology product. And finally, consistent definitions enable alignment with other functions, partners and customers so you can deliver better outcomes and grow revenue.
So what do you think? How would you define the term “solution” and what should it include?