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The saddest marketing story I’ve ever heard

This is the next entry in our “Best of” series, in which we venture deep into the vault to replay blog opinion and insight that has withstood the test of time. Today’s post hails from January 2011. We welcome your feedback.

By Francis Moran

I heard the saddest story the other day.

A few years ago, we worked on the launch of a new personal finance website developed by a veteran personal financial advisor. The site was detailed, secure, incredibly useful and solved a sharp, expensive and disruptive pain that the advisor had been running up against his entire professional life.

Our media launch went well. We got some decent coverage, both in mass media and, more valuably, in the trade media reaching financial advisors. Although the site was designed for individual subscriptions, advisors were identified as its most important channel to market since they were expected to counsel their clients to use it.

We were a little confused when the campaign was not continued past that initial launch, especially since some of the best opportunities we generated for the client were over the long term, including, for example, an agreement to have the site’s creator contribute a regular column to one of the key trade publications in the space. From the other folks working on the launch we heard encouraging news about the possibility that the site would be white-labelled by one of the largest firms of financial advisors on the continent, and other early signs of traction. So we were at a bit of a loss when everything went unexpectedly quiet.

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‘You can’t cross a canyon in two leaps’

By Francis Moran

Canada lost one of its most populist and colourful political characters last week when former Alberta premier and Calgary mayor Ralph Klein died. There are a number of marketing lessons, both salutary and otherwise, to be drawn from the exploits of this seemingly simple man whose shoot-from-the-lip approach and unrivalled common touch made him an object of both admiration and scorn.

However, today I’m going to riff on just one of his more quotable quotes because it applies so very well to the doomed approach too many technology companies take with their belief that market traction and sustainable revenue growth can be achieved through a series of low-cost incremental steps.

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The ballad of the undifferentiated product

By Francis Moran

I’ve been doing a lot of work with clients lately on refining their messaging and marketplace differentiation. It has always been clear to me that this is not a trivial thing. Unless you can carve out a unique value proposition for your offering, and communicate that proposition in an arresting and compelling fashion, you’re dead in the water. What I am increasingly coming to understand, however, is how courageous companies need to be in doing so.

Okay, maybe courageous is going too far; courage, after all, is reserved for heroes. Maybe daring is a better word. Here’s what I mean.

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Best of: My three buckets of customer segmentation

This is the next entry in our “Best of” series, in which we venture deep into the vault to replay blog opinion and insight that has withstood the test of time. Today’s post hails from June 2011. We welcome your feedback.

By Francis Moran

Marketers are well familiar with the concept of segmenting their marketplace. Segmentation is the process of dividing a broad and undifferentiated set of consumers into ever-smaller segments until you have identified that group of potential customers that is the best match possible for your product or service. My wife is also afflicted with this contagion we call marketing and that gives rise to some strange conversations in our household. One such conversation a few years back resulted in our developing an easy-to-understand explanation of market segmentation we refer to as finding your gay Acadian dog lover. The key to segmenting the marketplace is to identify those traits — some demographic, some taste-based, many certainly geographic — that define the customers most likely to be interested in your product or service. Not only does the process tell you a lot about who you’re trying to sell to, it also gives you a lot of insight into how you might reach them.

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It’s still rock and roll to me

By Francis Moran

I gave a presentation yesterday to a new networking meeting, the Montreal Startup Breakfast Club. I talked about developing a content marketing strategy, and reviewed the rigorous methodology we have developed to govern our own internal content-marketing activities as well as those of clients. The novelty of using the term “content marketing” was evident to the people in the room and my presentation was well received, notwithstanding my explanation that I use this relatively new term to describe things I have been doing all my working life.

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