Category Archives: Solutions

More than a Moustrap

“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  Evan-Amos, via Wikimedia Commons

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Filed under Solution, Solution Marketing, Solution Marketing Framework, Solutions

A Very Mobile Monday

mobile-monday-solution-marketing-blogAs a solution marketer, you need to stay ahead critical technology trends that may affect your solution and how you market it.  For a while, we’ve been hearing that mobile devices would overtake desktop and laptop devices.  Yes, more people surf the web using mobile devices than desktops or laptops. And the mobile shift is happening in more and more ways.  Let’s take a look at a recent example (as in yesterday!) – Cyber Monday.

Cyber Monday is now about 10 years old.  Says Wikipedia,

In late November 2005, The New York Times reported: ‘The name Cyber Monday grew out of the observation that millions of otherwise productive working Americans, fresh off a Thanksgiving weekend of window shopping, were returning to high-speed Internet connections at work Monday and buying what they liked.

That and the fact that you can’t be both at your desk and in a physical store at the same time.

mobile-growth-solution-marketing-blogCyber Monday 2015 saw an avalanche of sales through mobile devices, especially smartphones.  Mobile now accounts for 28% of Cyber Monday sales, with smartphones accounting for a whopping 61% of that number.  Interestingly, tablets have declined from about 66% in 2012 to just 39% of sales today. What’s more, according to Adobe, some 49% of Cyber Monday online visits took place through mobile devices, up from 29% in 2013.  Maybe that’s why IBM and others added the moniker “Mobile Monday” last year.

smartphone-growth-solution-marketing-blogOf course, the massive switch to mobile is driven as much by increasing smartphone penetration, larger phone screens, secure mobile payments, and an improved mobile shopping experience. Mobile shopping makes more and more sense today.

The shift to mobile won’t happen for all solutions of course.  But looking back, say 10 years, who would have thought that so many of us would be shopping on mobile devices today. What is clear is that more and more, solution users will expect a quality mobile experience, even in B2B environments. They’ll expect it both in the way they experience your solution, and in the way that you educate and engage (aka marketing) with them. Mobile is here and of course, it’s not just a fleeting 1-day experience or a consumer-only experience. Rather, we’re living in the era of mobile 365.

What do you think?  How is mobile changing your solutions and how you market them?

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Filed under Education and Engagement, Solution, Solution Marketing Community, Solutions

Definition of “Solution”

solution

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

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

Solution-marketing-strategies-solution-framework-tmYou 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?

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Filed under Definition, Solution Framework, Solution Marketing, Solution Marketing Framework, Solutions, The Solution Marketing Blog, Value

How Apple Creates a Future that Sells

AplWatch-HomeScreen-PR-PRINT_2Today Apple announced additional details of AppleWatch as well as a new, slimmer (!) MacBook line at a media event in San Francisco.  Apple is an iconic company and their innovation can provide helpful lessons, many of which apply to solution marketers. Which takes me to the AppleWatch: Needing to be tethered to a iPhone via WiFi, and carrying a not-insignificant price for an optional gizmo, it’s not clear how well this new product will perform I the market.  But if anyone can make a go of it, Apple can.  Here’s why. Continue reading

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Cyber Lessons from Black Friday

Black Friday offers an important lesson for cyber (i.e., enterprise software) solution marketers. 

Bombarded by Black Friday

Cyber lessons from Black FridayOver the last few weeks, we’ve been bombarded with a never-ending stream of Black Friday TV commercials. These included a litany of TV commercials for BMWs and other cars on sale for Black Friday. Maybe it’s all due to a surge in self-gifting, although experts were predicting a drop for 2014.

In a world where everything from clothes to cars was on sale on or around Black Friday, retailers were competing against just about every other retailer for the $381 that the typical shopper spent this past weekend, according to the National Retail Federation.  That included direct competitors offering similar goods, indirect competitors who offered different goods that solved the same problem (say, giving a nice gift) and what I’ll call Share of Budget competitors who solved different problems but competed for the same budget.

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Solution Marketing @ The Boston Startup School

By Steve Robins

Solution Marketing for Startups

A few weeks back, I had the opportunity to teach a one-day solution marketing class at the Boston Startup School, located in the Harvard Innovation Lab.

Learn to Do

If you have the opportunity to teach, learn, network or otherwise participate with Boston Startup School, jump on it!  Run by startup incubator TechStars, the new program helps “young professionals to learn the skills needed to have an immediate and positive impact on the startup they join.”  Wondering what’s on their minds?  Check out the new blog by the sales and marketing classes, www.GrowthNinja.com, which states that…

 You don’t have to start a company to be an entrepreneur.  Entrepreneurship is a mindset.  It’s a healthy discontent with the status quo that brings together teams dedicated to making the world a better place.  Entrepreneurs include all members of a startup team, from the CEO to the summer intern.

…and I couldn’t agree more. Continue reading

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Filed under Case Studies, Classes, Overviews, Presentations, SEVA - Elements of Solution Marketing, Solution Marketing, Solutions, The Solution Marketing Blog

Where’s the Customer at Sony?

It’s time to think outside the box.  Or the division.  Or the hardware.  Or the…

Sony - SolutionMarketingBlog.comIn order to offer complete solutions, companies need to come together around a shared vision of the customer, their challenges, and ways that the company can help.  Companies like Sony and AOL Time Warner have been hindered by competing divisions often focused on divisional goals at the expense of the company.  By contrast, Apple unified around a common vision of the customer, and a view of a complete solution spanning hardware, software and content.

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