Tag Archives: marketing


5 Questions to Elevate Your Mid-Year Review

Self Evaluation
How would you rate your performance this year?  It’s hard to believe, but it’s almost mid-year.  Don’t let this milestone get away from you; this is a great time to reflect on what’s working and not in your performance.  But while it’s easy and customary to focus on the year-to-date metrics versus objectives, my challenge to you is to use this milestone as a platform to drive a broader and more strategic conversation with your leadership.  Think about it, the metrics are black and white and there’s little you can do to change them now – but if you focus on the strategy, you can meaningfully impact your and your organization’s performance for the back half.

 Strategy V Tactics MatrixTo help you self-diagnose and prepare for your discussion, here are 5 questions for your mid-year:


  1. Why do you believe your strategy is still valid?  Who cares if you knocked out your tactics if the strategy is off!  Reminds me of the strategy matrix which shows that if you’re executing very well on the wrong strategy you’re just killing yourself faster.
  1. How has the market evolved?  Time to reevaluate your macro trends assumptions.  Ideally, these should not dramatically change, but there are always surprises.
  1. How has the competitive landscape changed?  Consider shifts from complementary, replacement or substitute entrants.
  1. How can the relevancy and differentiation of your value proposition with your target audience be improved? Talk to you customers to validate before you answer this one.
  1. What was your biggest opportunity cost?  You’ll never have a scientific answer, but if you think about where you spent most of your time and budget with little result the Pareto Principle will highlight your opportunity.

Mid YearMid-year is a great time to reassess and if need be change direction while still leaving enough time to make a difference in your performance this year.  Answers these questions and you’ll drive better discussions with your teams.  More importantly, the answers should shift your behavior and position you for improved performance this year.



Book Review: The End of Business as Usual

Last month, at General Electric’s Hispanic Executive Leadership Conference, I attended a session featuring sociologist, futurist, and author Brian Solis. My expectation was to hear this brilliant and bona fide social media thought-leader discuss the intricacies of new electronic tools and how I, as a marketer, could capitalize on those to reach my target audience. Instead what I learned was how leading companies are evolving from seeing social media as a tool to using it as a platform toward becoming more customer-centric. It was a welcomed view and it is the central theme of Solis’s new book that delivers a message that can connect to any business environment. 

At the heart of The End of Business as Usual (Rewire the Way You Work to Succeed in the Consumer Revolution) is the premise that commercial success rests on our ability to deliver a great customer experience. Underlying this call towards customer-centricity is the disruptive role of social media is playing in influencing customer purchases. The book details how digital culture is changing the landscape of business, consumerism and the workplace. Today’s customers rely on their friends, family and social networks—not companies—for purchase decisions. The marketer’s challenge is to design the appropriate customer experience, monitor feedback and address gaps or reinforce positive experiences through the relevant channels, including the right technologies. It expands marketing with an external focus on creating customer experiences that evoke advocacy.

Solis urges businesses to adapt to this new era of consumerism or die. He calls this phenomena “Digital Darwinism,” where companies that do not evolve as rapid as the evolution of consumer behavior and technology fail to exist.  In other words, it’s not necessarily the strongest who survive but the most adaptive. We live in an era of transparency, explains Solis, where the product value proposition cannot be faked. The word of mouth, benchmarking, blogs, ratings, etc, that are held at the customer’s fingertips (or thumbs) cannot be ignored or covered up. This transparency truly calls for companies to be customer-centric. 

Solis warns that any company that focuses on operations, margins, and efficiencies over customer experiences will hasten the erosion of market relevance. In order for companies to become more customer-centric, Solis offers a blueprint for change. It includes setting the need, and managing and reinforcing the change. Additionally he asks companies to connect the value propositions to personal values through accountability, authority and rewards. 

Solis’s insightful and well written book clearly communicate what can be a complex message. It is recommended as a primer for anyone looking to improve the customer experience and seeking to understand how to leverage social media toward that goal. 

You can follow Brian on twitter @BrianSolis, or join his blog at www.briansolis.com/

This book review was published in PM360


Marketing Book Review: Conversations That Win the Complex Sale


How can you achieve the highest return per dollar spent of your marketing budget? “Great messaging through your sales force,” said Tim Riesterer, co-author of Conversations That Win the Complex Sale, in a workshop he recently conducted for my marketing team. This makes particular sense in a complex sale, where your highest operating costs are in your sales force…and your primary competitor is the status quo. Riesterer and his co-author Erik Peterson provide us an interesting messaging model. Before you decide to invest in the latest marketing tool, think about how you can leverage messaging across your marketing tactics and to help you achieve a high return on investment.

This is an exciting time to be a marketer! In the 20 years I’ve worked in B2B commercial sales & marketing , we’ve never had more tools at our disposal to arm our channels and get our message to our target audience. We continuously innovate vehicles that help us deliver creative, multi-media and relevant messages. Unfortunately, tools is can be easily imitated. If you have enough budget, you can copy the tactics your competitors are using: marketers cannot differentiate on tools alone.

For all the tools we have at our disposal, specifically the complex sale, messaging is the critical component that sets us apart from our competition and makes our solution relevant to our target audience. Messaging is the thread that ties all tools together, delivers a consistent…well, message…and makes the most of our spend. It maximizes our efficiency to clearly communicate our value proposition, educate on our benefits and ultimately to persuade our buyers.

Point-of-View Pitch

Conversations That Win the Complex Sale lays out a messaging framework that’s easy to understand and can be translated through different marketing tools. Here are the components:

1.  Grabber. Generate a reputable third-party point of view that is relevant to your client’s core business objective.

2.  Pain. Shock the clients by showing them an unknown or underappreciated issue currently eating away at their their organization and threatening their core business objectives.

3.  Impact. Create urgency by appropriately quantifying the personal, business, and financial impacts of ignoring the problem,; follow up by showing the beneficial effects of acting soon.

4.  Contrast. Differentiate your unique strengths, and show how they address the threats the customer is facing; be clear about how your proposed solution differs the present situation…without offending clients who may have skin in the current game.

5.  Proof. Demonstrate how you have helped similar clients by implementing the solution you’re proposing, and show your approach’s positive impact on the client’s objective.


From a marketing management perspective, the Point-of-View Pitch should flow from the overall positioning strategy. This model can help marketers create compelling messages for their sales forces, particularly in the prospecting phase. I particularly like the authors’ challenge to the status quo. But one strong caution: The model is only as good as the information you input, so the stronger the supporting data, the greater your opportunity for success.

Good marketing!

This book review was published in PM360.  

Marketing Book Review: Winning the Zero Moment of Truth

Do you remember the buying process you undertook the last time you made a large purchase? If you’re like most customers, your decision was made long before you hit the purchase button or walked into the retail space. Winning the Zero Moment of Truth, by Google’s Jim Lecinski, provides research and insights into this relatively new phenomenon.

Marketing history

Along with the 4Ps of marketing, business schools have taught the value of influencing decisions at the moment of purchase. Companies have invested billions in strategies designed to influence the customer at the moment they are staring at the options for buying a product within a category. That moment has traditionally been defined as the First Moment of Truth (FMOT).

In the history of marketing, sellers have focused a lot of attention on FMOT. Pricing strategies, packaging, shelf-positioning, product variety/mix, couponing, and many other tactics have been deployed to win the customer at that critical juncture. And while FMOT is still important, purchase behavior has shifted, providing marketers additional challenges to convert prospects into customers.

Zero Moment of Truth—ZMOT

The buying decision journey has changed. What was once a message is now a conversation. And for the first time in history, word of mouth is a digitally archived medium, available to everyone, all the time.

Between the awareness and purchase phase, people search on-line, read product reviews, use social media to ask opinions, and seek multiple pricing options. Americans now spend as much time online as they do watching TV.

This April, Google conducted a study of 5,003 customers across 12 categories of products and services. The goal was to show where influence takes place as shoppers move from undecided to decided. Here are a few highlights from that study:

·         Average shoppers used 10.4 sources of information, up from 5.3 in the previous year

·         84 percent  of shoppers report that ZMOT tactics shaped their purchase decisions

·         70 percent  of Americans look at product reviews before making a purchase

·         54 percent  comparison-shopped for products online

Given the audience for this publication, you’re probably thinking that this applies to DTC, but does not apply to a healthcare B2B scenario. Wrong: conversations about your product are already going on. Try this:  Google your product name and add “review” to the search query. Your ZMOT is happening on the first 3 pages of your search. Now type your product category and add “best” to your search query. How do you stack up?

Implications for Marketers

The good news is that you can immediately adapt ZMOT marketing strategies and incorporate them into your marketing plan.

7-steps to creating a ZMOT strategy:

1.       Put someone in charge—if no one is in charge, it won’t get done.

2.       Find your ZMOT—understand how people search for your product.

3.       Answer questions people are asking—use Insights for Search or Google Trends for discernment.

4.       Optimize for ZMOT—adjust your content for paid, owned, earned and shared media.

5.       Be fast—speed beats perfection.

6.       Don’t forget video—YouTube is the second-most-used search box in the world.

7.       Jump in—as you probably saw from your search, you’re already in ZMOT.

This complimentary e-book (http://www.zeromomentoftruth.com/) provides an excellent overview of an evolution in marketing. I believe this applies to any product or service. It even applies to companies and people.

Good marketing!

Interested in this topic?  Check out this video:

This book review was published in the November issue of PM360.

Marketing Book Review: The Mesh

Looking for a big idea on a business model?  The mesh propositions that some things are better shared than owned.  It’s a model based on access instead of ownership. Its central strategy is to target high cost unused waste, leverage existing infrastructure for communication, customize the offering based on personalized information and build customer loyalty.  Oh, and by the way, it’s better for environment too. 

What is the Mesh?

The mesh describes a type of network that allows any node to link in any direction with any other nodes in the system.  At the heart of this idea is information.  The mesh uses the interconnectivity of social media, leverages existing wireless GPS-enabled networks and builds on analytics from repeated use to provide people with goods and services at the exact moment where and when they need them. 

The poster child for this model is Zipcar.  According to Gansky, on average people only use their cars about 8% of the time, fitting the low usage and high cost criteria.  Zipcar created an easy and efficient way to access cars, instead of owning them.  The value proposition of Zipcar is to provide you a vehicle when you need it in a convenient location.  It differentiates from rental cars on models, parking locations, web enablement, keyless entry and no-hassle waiting lines providing the vehicle you reserved waiting at the specified location.  Zipcar claims that its average user saves $500 a month compared to car ownership.  Beyond financial benefits, it claims less vehicles on the road create a cleaner environment. 

There are 4 characteristics of a mesh business:

  1. The core offering can be shared within a community, market, or value chain – including products, services, and raw materials
  2. Advanced web and mobile data networks used to track and aggregate usage, customer and product information
  3. The focus is on sharable physical goods, including the materials used, which makes local delivery of services and products – and their recovery – valuable and relevant
  4. Offers, news and recommendations are transmitted through word of mouth, augmented by social network services

Why now?

Humans have a long history of sharing as communities.  But Gansky makes the case that the current environment has created the perfect conditions for a Mesh model.  Conditions which are likely to continue into the foreseeable future.

Global trends

·         The economic crisis has created a deep distrust of older brands and models

·         Consumers are rethinking what they consider valuable in their lives

·         Climate change is forcing the cost of doing business, including the making and selling of throwaway goods

·         Growing population and greater urbanization create densities that favor mesh businesses

·         Information networks and mobile technology have matured to the point where businesses can provide better and personalized services exactly when needed. 


This book builds on the experience phenomenon that other authors have highlighted.  Where it differentiates is that it challenges common, personal, everyday items – like cars – to be considered from a share perspective.  It echoes what some of our thought leaders are proposing; some of our major industries will be constructed as a service, not a product. 

Good marketing!


Ramiro Roman

This book review was published in PM360 .

Ad Age publishes Marketing 3.0 book review


A personal aspiration is to share through my personal experience the science & art of marketing.  To that end, I have been sharing marketing book reviews with you. 

I love books because I see them as conversations with thoughtleaders in the field.

Ad Age has recently published my book report for Marketing 3.0 in its CMO Strategy section.  I invite you read & comment on this highly visible forum.  Click HERE!

Ramiro Roman

Related video:

Marketing Book Review : Poke the Box by Seth Godin

When was the last time you created something remarkable at work?  In this 83-page manifesto Seth seeks to challenge us all to start now!  This is a book about instigation and innovation, passion and adventure, guts and heart—but ultimately it is about taking action.  Unfortunately, it’s a rousing call we may have heard before…and better…from Godin himself. Poke the Box was entertaining, but it lacked substance. 

Linchpin 2.0

If you loved Godin’s 2010 Linchpin—and a lot of people did, judging from the book sales and social media buzz—you might enjoy Poke the Box.  It expands Linchpin’s themes:  the battle with our inner daemon, the impact of the industrialization age on creativity, and the uniformity of education as a way of ingraining standardization.  But there’s a difference: Linchpin explained Godin’s theory; Poke the Box encourages us to act on it. 

Godin reminds us that the motive force is critical because it’s the most scare resource in organizations. He’s right:  I can walk from my office to the bathroom and bump into 15 MBAs from prestigious universities.  I won’t denigrate their   education and credentials (or my own), but the degree is just a ticket to the game.   The real stars will be those who can accomplish greatness. 

This is a no-brainer.  But does it happen where you work?  Likely not.

The F*** Word

It isn’t so much that people are afraid to risk as they are afraid to FAIL.  No matter how much they praise risk-taking, organizations tend to punish failure, to make examples of people who fall down.  We tend to be judgmental, always looking for things that could go wrong or holes in the story.  Godin is just trying to help us overcome this failing in the way we treat failing when he says, “The purpose of this manifesto is not to magically extinguish your fear.  It’s to call its bluff.”

Poke the Box reminds us that all great successes start with mini-failures.  That success is not a linear pattern.  And, ultimately, that success is a series of events—not an isolated one—and if you never start you’ll never succeed.  It all starts with taking the first step, and then creating your map to guide you and your organization. 

Personal opinion

I still think Godin is brilliant, one of the greatest marketers of all time.  But if you’ve read Linchpin, reading Poke the Box is optional, rather than required.  Seasoned marketers will likely be underwhelmed by the content. For folks straight out of graduate school, though, Godin’s latest book is a worthwhile reminder that you have to snap out of academia.  If your development plan calls for you to risk more, Poke the Box is s a simple read that will reinforce your determination. There are better options, though. 

Overall, I’m disappointed that Godin continues to pursue the leadership angle: there’s a lot of competition in that space, and he doesn’t dominate the way he does when he addresses marketing directly. Seth, I love you man.  You’re a great marketer.  So please stick to what you do better than anyone else and help us move marketing to the next frontier.  Please. 


Ramiro Roman

Published in PM360.