Keynote at ProductCamp Boston: The Invisible Customer

By Steve Robins

Join me On June 9 at Microsoft Cambridge for ProductCamp Boston 2012!

ProductCamp BostonI’ve always been passionate about ProductCamp – I’ve been speaking at ProductCamp Boston since it began in 2009 and have been leading the marketing team since 2011.  So I’m very honored to be delivering the keynote presentation this year.

The theme for ProductCamp Boston 2012 is Customers First!  And it’s a fitting theme since customers are so central to the success of our products and solutions, companies, and even our careers.

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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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Oscar’s Inconvenient Truths

By Steve Robins

Watching Sunday’s Oscar awards, I was struck by… the importance – “and inconvenience” –  of customer feedback in multiple forms:

  • Inconvenient focus groups – The mock focus group screening (gasp!) the Wizard of Oz.  Very funny but it points to the frustration that artists often feel around Hollywood focus groups that disagree with their artistic vision.  And they’re not alone either.  It may be inconvenient but those customers do hold the purse strings, so they’re kind of unavoidable after all.
  • Inconvenient innovations – Billy Crystal’s jabs at bankrupt Kodak, whose name (at least for now) graces the Oscar theater.  Hooked on film until it was too late, Kodak missed the inconvenient truth that film was less important than capturing and sharing images in the easiest manner possible.  The very company that invented digital photography found that truth inconvenient and now faces a very different and more painful inconvenience – bankruptcy.
  • Inconvenient movie-consumption – The Oscar ceremony focused again and again on the movie theater experience with many references back to the good old days.  Those good old days will indeed live on – but only in people’s memories.  Although more people attend movie theaters than theme parks (duh), theater admissions are declining as people consume movies at home on TV, DVDs and iPads.  Instead of reminiscing about the good old days, the industry would be better served to focus on the bright future of entertainment everywhere – on mobile, tablets, at home etc.

Customer feedback may seem inconvenient.  But not listening to customer feedback delivers the ultimate inconvenience.

 

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Beyond Products: Solution Marketing

By Steve Robins

February 16 Presentation to the BPMA

 

TBPMAhanks to everyone who attended Thursday’s presentation at the Boston Product Management Association, Beyond Products: Solution Marketing.  You helped to make it one of the best discussions I’ve ever led on solution marketing.

You can find the Beyond Products: Solution Marketing presentation slides as well as the Solution Marketing Framework, along with other solution marketing content on Slideshare.

          
I hope you’ll continue the discussion in a variety of ways:

  • Before you do anything else, make sure to join the Solution Marketing Pros group on LinkedIn where you can share your successes and get help with your challenges from other solution marketers.  The group includes folks from leading companies around the world including…

    Acronis, Adobe, ADP, Akamai, Amazon, Ariba, Aspen Technology, Autonomy (HP), Box, Cisco, CSC, Dell, Eloqua, EMC, Endeca, Epicor, FirstBest, Gartner, HCL, Hitachi, Honeywell, H-P, IBM, Informatica, Iron Mountain, KANA Software, Kronos, Level 3 Communications, Lionbridge, McAfee, Microsoft, Misys, Motorola, NetApp, Nortel, Nuance, Oracle, Orange, Pegasystems, Pitney Bowes, Progress Software, Red Hat, Salesforce.com, SAP, Sapient, Seagate Technology, Siemens, SONY, SunGard, Symantec, Tata, TELUS,  TIBCO, Time Warner Cable, Tripwire, Verizon, Vertex, Wipro

  • Follow my Twitter stream for the latest solution marketing news.
  • Check out additional articles on The Solution Marketing Blog – and be sure to comment!
  • Come back for next month’s solution pricing presentation by Jim Geisman
  • Contact me if you have additional questions, s.robins [at] SolutionMKT [dot] com

Special thanks to the great folks at BPMA for organizing this event.

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The Value of Value

By Steve Robins

Value is Key to Solution Marketing

You might think that the most important aspect of marketing a solution would be what goes into it.  What goes into a solution are just a bunch of pieces, products, or components.  But value is about the benefit and cost of those components to the user or buyer.

Value is equal to the difference between perceived benefit and total cost

More specifically, value is equal to the difference between (1) the benefit as perceived by the user and (2) the total cost of the solution.  By perception I mean that the user or buyer must appreciate and want the resulting benefit.  In fact, if they don’t perceive it as a benefit to them, it’s not a benefit but is instead just a useless feature.

Value is interesting in many ways, some of which are counterintuitive and not so obvious.  Following are a few important examples – both obvious and not so obvious. Continue reading

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Anticipation

By Steve Robins

Anticipation builds customer loyalty.

A few weeks back, I had a few “wow” experiences that demonstrated the power of anticipation.  No matter that they were almost mundane: each experience improved my perception of the brand/company, service or location.  And they offer great lessons for solution marketers.

Anticipation - ketchup in a bottleAnticipated receipt

After filling up with gas at the nearby Hess Gas Station, I saw that the  gas pump’s receipt printer was out of paper – which is a nuisance.  But when I walked into the store to pick up a receipt, the cashier already had my receipt ready – before I could utter a single word.  Wow!  I’d say that I was actually more impressed with her anticipating my receipt needs than I would have been had the printer actually had paper.  I’ve been filling up at this station because they had competitive gas prices.  Now I’ll do it because they have great service as well.   Continue reading

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Netflix: It’s About the Customer Strategy, Stupid – Part II

By Steve Robins

Six Solution Marketing Lessons from Netflix

As I mentioned at the end of the last post, Netflix: It’s the Customer, Stupid, Netflix’s recent misadventure is a cautionary tale for solution marketers.  Following are a six key lessons:

#1: As a vendor or service provider, technology upgrades are good.

So, if you rent DVDs and know the market will eventually transition to video on demand, you need to offer video on demand as well – just as Netflx does today.  Streaming is proven and consumers will demand it.  It’s not a matter of if, but when.  However…

#2: Consumers and customers do not share your company’s timetable

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