The Two Quotes

Quote #1

“The business and marketing functions of a startup should be considered as important as engineering and development, so they deserve an equally rigorous methodology to guide them”

Steve Blank(1)

Quote #2

“So why so many organizations hire expensive and highly qualified engineers for developing software and then invest in a few-hours, general marketing courses for their marketing/business people?”

Donato Mangialardo (2)

(1) Blank has spent over thirty years within the high technology industry. He has founded or worked within eight startup companies, four of which have gone public. Blank is recognized for developing the Customer Development methodology, which launched the Lean Startup movement. Blank teaches and writes about Customer Development and is a consulting associate professor of entrepreneurship at Stanford.He currently lectures at the Haas School of Business, University of California Berkeley, Columbia University and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). @sgblank

(2) Donato Mangialardo is an unknown follower of Steve Blank. He helps  organizations to define, validate, build and market products for sustainable commercial success.  He has spent 10 years of his career in Silicon Valley where he learned how to learn. With focus on Product Marketing/Management. He is still learning a lot. He believes that there is nothing like “seeing the light in your customer’s eyes”. And he does see that from time to time. @donatomm

The end of Freemium: start with the customers, not your product

“The return to the roots of marketing — starting with customer needs, choosing the needs you want to serve and getting your fair share of the value created.” by @rags

Rags Srinivasan has written a very interesting article.

Let me quote the first few paragraph:

  • “We are now seeing the end of the freemium model — signing up users for free and trying to upsell,” said Christian Vanek, CEO of the Boulder-based SurveyGizmo, in a recent phone conversation.
  • “6.5 million unique users is not all that it’s cracked up to be. I don’t want hits. I want revenue. I want a real business,” said Matt Wensing, founder and CEO of Stormpulse, in an interview with Mixergy.
  • “Make a product people want to pay for,” said Marco Arment, founder of Instapaper, in a Planet Money interview.

Three easily available examples do not make indisputable evidence against freemium. Just like Dropbox, Evernote and RememberTheMilk do not make a case for freemium. But these three quotes reflect a return to the roots of marketing — starting with customer needs, choosing the needs you want to serve and getting your fair share of the value created.
Full article at




The product is NOT the PRODUCT !

The product is NOT a great piece of software, or hardware for that matter.
Your product is actually the “Business Model”
“A business model describes the rationale of how an organization creates, delivers & captures value”.  Alexander Osterwalder
As an example, here are a few things that are worth considering in a Product Business:
  • What market problem do you solve?
  • For whom? What are the customer segments? (Buyer Personas)
  • Unique Value Proposition. What is the primary reason why buyers will buy your solution? Is it unique?
  • Solution (Usually, but mistakenly, referred to as “Product”): what ie the minimal feature set that can support (together with the other points) your value proposition?
  • How the solution will be purchased by buyers?
  • How to measure progress? What key activity do you plan to measure? Es. how subscribers respond to the solution over time, by using time based cohorts.
  • Cost structure
  • Pricing and Revenue model.  How do you make money?
  • Business Sustainability: how hard to emulate is your Unique Value Proposition? It can be a technology platform, a powerful established channel, a level of awarensss in a segment etc.
  • Customer retention and support strategy: once buyers become customers, how do you make them happy and loyal? How can you turn them into net promoters?

Anything  missing? Anyway, this is closer to “the Product”. Depending on business, there are main factors that describe how an organization creates, delivers & captures value.

Did you know there’s a secret to selling software products ?

How software engineering and software sales talk to each other?

Did you know there’s a secret to selling software[products] ? A secret that is all too often overlooked?

Interestingly that dialogue between sales and software engineering doesn’t work very well if it is attempted directly.  The worlds of software engineering and sales are too far apart to bridge face-to-face.  But there is a catalyst that will support dialogue between software engineering and sales.

That catalyst between engineering and sales is an activity called “product marketing” and the output of that activity is “productization”.  To specialize in product marketing can be considered an occupation in itself.  Little heralded beside its better known full marketing departments of traditional B2C, or the flavour-of-the-day social marketing mavens, product marketing is about the structured and disciplined definition of exactly what an organization will sell.

Read the full article by @JohnHMorris at

This applies to any product or service. It is about alignement and connecting with buyers. If you ignore it, you will likely experience one of the most common problems organization run into when attempting to market and sell their product, such as:

  • I do know we have a great product. Why it’s not selling?
  • We are heavily investing in this product but …will it succeed?
  • Is this the right solution for this market?
  • We have a great idea. We want to make sure we do everything right, avoiding any risk of failure, to go to market successfully. How to ensure that?

What’s your story? Share it with us.



Please share your story about product marketing.

Il marketing e’ cambiato (2 di n)

Proseguendo il discorso iniziato nel post precedente:

il marketing e’ cambiato (1 di n)

Ecco un interessante articolo scritto da una fonte molto autorevole che seguo costantemente e che raccomando a chiunque si trovi in una posizione di forte dissonanza tra chi vende o spara messaggi a ripetizione e chi ha un problema da risolvere, cerca una soluzione ma trova sempre e solo gente interessata a vendere, invece di cercare di adattarsi al processo di acquisto che un imprenditore, un buyer in generale,  puo’ avere e deve avere.

Autore: @KristinZhivago

Smettiamola di profumare il MAIALE!

In media il CMO di una tech company (Chief Marketing Officer) rimane occupato per 23 mesi.  Source: Spencer Stuart

La meta’ di quella per  CEO and COO. Quindi la domanda sorge spontanea. Perche’ il lavoro da CMO e’ cosi’ a rischio?

 Perche’ un CMO non riesce a soddisfare aspettative irragionevoli, anzi, di fatto impossibili:

Il CMO non riesce a creare il bisogno per il prodotto della  sua azienda. In altre parole, quello che capita spesso a marketing managers e’ venir assunti per “profumare il maiale”. O mettergli il rossetto, che come frase idiomatica in US e’ ben piu’ potente.

Sfortunatamente, i buyers non hanno bisogno di quello che non hanno bisogno

Il product marketing viene relegato alla distribuzione semiforzata di un prodotto di cui non e’ chiaro il problema che risolve e per chi lo risolve.

Non c’e’ quantita’ di profumo che possa allontanare il “fetore”

di un prodotto tecnologico di cui nessuno ha bisogno *

Ma allora?

In altre parole, basta essere Market-Driven

facile eh? 🙂

(*) da Steve Johnson #pragmaticmarketing

Market-Driven? Cosa Significa?

Una Storiella* …

Un giorno un brillante ingegnere ed architetto del software, Paolo, lascio’ il suo lavoro per lavorare a tempo pieno sulla sua idea innovativa. Paolo creo’ un prodotto di cui ha profonda certezza che a molti interessasse.
Paolo aveva ragione.
L’azienda cresce, assume ex colleghi come VP di questo e di quello. L’azienda cresce ancora
Un giorno Luigi, VP of Sales disse: “ma noi siano Technology-Driven. Dovremmo essere Customer-Driven!”
La cosa suono’ bene,  e cosi’ si fece.
Eccetto che… per ogni nuovo cliente bisognava fare un progetto speciale e sviluppare/mettere in roadmap 10 nuove funzionalita’ richieste dallo stesso. La voce del’ultimo cliente dominava sempre il piano del prodotto. In altre parole: Customer-Driven = latest-customer-driven
“Ma no, cosi’ non va! urlarono in molti.
Un membro illuminato della proprieta’, Enrico,  tuono’: “Siamo diventati una Sales-Led company. Basta. Dobbiamo essere Marketing-Driven!”
Venne quindi deciso di assumere un Top Marketing Executive. Fu presa Amelie come VP of marketing. Ed ecco un nuovo scintillante logo, tradeshows con un booth impressionante,  eventi spettacolari con gran folla ed awards, brand impeccabile, grande raccolta di collateral, brochures, logo su ogni t-shirt etc.
Un anno e 3 mesi dopo…zero incremento nelle vendite. “Eh, il brand! Te lo do io il Brand” era la battuta ricorrente. [Niente da dire su Amelie ed il Brand. Le e’ stato chiesto l’impossibile. Lo vedrermo in un altro post, ndr]
Allora il CFO, che fino a quel momento era stato zitto, sussurro’ nell’orecchio del CEO: “non e’ ora che controlliamo un po’ i costi?”
Quindi l’azienda divento’ Cost-Driven
Vennero tagliati viaggi, cene premio, supporto, bonus etc.
E il marketing? Cosa fanno esattamente?” Chiese il CFO al CEO
Nessuno ebbe una buona risposta e quindi tagliarono tutto il team.
Alla fine il presidente e Paolo il fondatore dissero:
Siamo partiti engineering-driven
 Poi Customer-driven
  Poi Sales-Led
   Poi Marketing-Driven
    Poi Cost-Driven
Le abbiamo provate tutte!
… E’ ora di tornare Engineering-driven!
E cosi’ fecero …

Finche’ un giorno qualcuno disse:

Ma perche’ non diventiamo Market-Driven?

Cioe’ perche’ non ascoltiamo il mercato invece che solo noi stessi?

Questo e’ quello che Market-Driven significa:
  1. Definire soluzioni basate su quello che il mercato vuole acquistare perche’ tali soluzioni rispondono ad esigenze urgenti, pervasive e critiche. Sintonizzatevi sul mercato!
  2. Per Buyers (che hanno tali esigenze e potere di budget). Sintonizzatevi sui buyers.
  3. Non e’ essere guidati da cio’ che gia’ abbiamo in casa. Spegnete Radio Prodotto (almeno per un po’). Spegnete “Radio Meetings”
Le aziende di successo sanno che il marketing non e’ solo promozione e pubblicita’. I leaders di settore prima si focalizano su problemi irrisolti del mercato che possono essere risolti tramita la loro tecnologia (non partono dalla tecnologia!)
Questi leaders sono orgarizzati secondo un flusso entrante (inbound marketing) cioe’ capire problemi che il mercato ha e chi sono i buyers, e anche uscente (outboud marketing) che e’ la parte piu’ tradizionalmente vista come “marketing”che include sia su strategie di “go to market” e di comunicazione ma che verte su un modo di comunicare e vendere che risuona col buyer.
3 Errori classicissimi:
  1. Supporre che dipendenti e collaboratori interni conoscano meglio  dei buyers quello che i buyers stessi vogliono.
  2. Basare prodotti e servizi solo su quello che chiedono gli attuali clienti invece di andare fuori dall’ufficio a capire quali sono i problemi irrisolti che altre persone reali sono disposte a pagare per vedere risolti.
  3. Cercare di creare un bisogno nel mercato attraverso il reclutamento di un esercito di spietati venditori e di costose campagne pubblicitarie.

Uscite dall’ufficio e imparate a conoscere i vostri buyers ed i loro problemi e modellate il tutto tramite la chiave di tutto: Le Buyer Personas – ok questo richiede competenza e abilita’ particolari, ma ve lo posso insegnare io 🙂“…Ma non e’ facile staccarsi dal prodotto ed andare fuori ad ascoltare, intervistare, filtrare, sintetizzare, iterare. E poi chi lo fa?”

Market-Driven e’ la scelta piu’ pratica e funzionale per il successo di qualsiasi iniziativa che ha a che fare con un mercato
Modellare business, prodotti e soluzioni tramite Buyer and User Personas rende le cose semplici ed immediate.

Non c’e’ mica scelta! I ruoli che tipicamente hanno tale responsabilita’ sono Product Marketing e Product Management. Almeno nelle aziende ben organizzate.

Ma se non li avete non temete. Qualcuno sta gia’ facendo quello che avrebbero dovuto fare loro. La domanda e’: “Come?” oppure “Con che risultati?”.

*  Storia liberamente tratta da un articolo di Steve Johnson,

Why Startups Fail

This morning I was reading a 47Hats‘ Blog post about this  book: Why Startups Fail: And How Yours Can Succeed, By David Feinleib, VC, Entrepreneur.

This post mentions a number of very good, although pretty common, points of failure and  advice for startups. It goes like:

Startups fail for many different reasons. Turn failure into success by avoiding some of the most common causes of startup failure:

  1. Failing to drive demand
  2. Building a product people don’t want
  3. A lack of passion
  4. Running out of money
  5. Scaling too fast
  6. Small markets
  7. Failing to focus

It also makes very good points like:

1. Failing to drive demand – Too often, entrepreneurs focus on what they’re going to build but not on their go-to-market strategy. Imagine that your product is already built. It’s done, and it’s ready to go. Now what? What is the tagline for the product? How are you going to market it? What’s going to drive massive adoption? …Figuring out how to drive demand for your product is just as important as figuring out what product to build. Inefficient, unleveraged distribution can kill a startup…

This is Dead On. Absolutely right.

Still so many keep falling in this trap. Incredible.

2. Build Something People Want – …Many entrepreneurs spend months or years building a product only to find out that few people want it. How does this happen?

The short answer is: it happens because making sure you have nailed down the right product for the right buyer in the right segment is harder that you think, so you haven’t dedicated time and budget for it.

Unless you have done fatal mistakes like forgetting completely about funding or picking the right people you need, the first two points are in my experience, by far the most important ones. Not only.  I would reverse their order of importance. Therefore I will start with the first one (and leave the second one for another post).

1. Build something that people want, and are willing to pay for – very often there is excitement around a new product or service or idea, you get great feedback from peers, friends, family, former colleagues, your early investors. Then the product hits the market and… there is no one willing to pay for it. “Where is everybody! They loved the idea!” . Here is the disaster. Most likely, irreversible.

Now, you just cannot take this risk. You can’t go head down with technology forgetting who your prospective buyers are, what they like/dislike, what is their attitude towards things that are relevant to for your idea. This applies for both consumer and enterprise products. You need to find something that solves a problem, satisfy a clear, painful need, does something 10-100x better than it’s done today,  or just creates desire such as the iPhone (good luck with that).  Then you build a message around the product and what it does for them. Not your technology, not you, them. Your buyers. Your users.

Mr. David Feinleib in his book’s puts a lot of emphasis in driving demand. “Figuring out how to drive demand for your product is just as important as figuring out what product to build“.

I agree. How to drive demand should in a way be part of the new product development process (I am not talking about code here) since the beginning.

Two examples by the same author:

  • Consider file sharing service Dropbox, which gives free space to existing users when they sign up others. The company now has some 50 million users.
  • Or think about social game maker Zynga, which builds games that require the participation of friends. Zynga leveraged the Facebook social graph to reach hundreds of millions of players. Marketing is no longer separate from product—it’s built right in.

Let me underline a key statement:

Marketing is no longer separate from product—it’s built right in.

Dead right! And more applicable than you think.

So what is my point? Look at the two key points above. They have one thing, one, most important thing in common. The buyer and her willingness to pay for something they want (because of a desire, because of a pressing business problem).  If you are able to capture the buyer and then  channel his  voice in clear, precise, compelling, persuasive and “enchanting” manner, both the product and the demand can be derived and/or enriched by the most powerful asset you may have in this business.

An intimate knowledge of the buyer.

Getting to know your buyer or your primary user is not easy. There are techniques and skills involved. The best technique by far, that joins effectiveness with low investment is “crystallizing your buyer and user personas”. I have seen this methodology changing completely the game, getting products to success, getting motivated, excited (enchanted, using Seth’s Godin’s words) marketing people, managers and sales people.

Here is some food for thought

  • Good news: it works great, always.
  • Bad news: it’s not easy. Requires live interviews, skills, competence.
  • Requires a “get out the office and go meet your buyers” kind of attitude
  • What is the business problem that we aim to solve? (Not the solution we have identified and that we want to “push”)
  • Is it urgent and critical?
  • For whom? Who has this problem? Be specific.
  • Describe the Buyer. His priorities. His success metrics (revenues, not getting fired, be promoted, make more money for his practice, etc).
  • Research and describe demographic attributes, habits, behaviors, attitudes, perceptions, emotions and reactions.
  • Is there anything that can’t make her sleep at night? What is that?
  • Create a lifelike description of the Buyer persona and share it with your team. Do they recognize her? Iterate. Interview face to face, iterate.

A buyer persona guides us to create solutions that resonate with buyers, do not require useless and expensive promotion channels and huge investments on sales to “create a need” (this does never work anyway in the long-term). If well done, we will be able to see the world through her own eyes so we can create the right mix of “product and demand creation engine”.


Should we listen to our customers?

If we listened to Henry Ford and Steve Jobs, we would not listen to our customers at all!
“If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse”
– Henry Ford
“It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”
– Steve Jobs, BusinessWeek, May 25 1998

I do think that there is a need of a balance among three factors

1. Current Customers (the silent ones especially, as the usual noisy ones are there anyway)
2. Potential Customers (the one that you don’t have yet and may not be aware of you or the problem you may solve for them)
3. Gut, Genius, Intuition, superpowers

1. Listening to current customers is good ( but it may also be extremely dangerous. They may actually doom your product ( Especially if the company culture (or some hole in the organization) enables raw customer requests to become automatically product requirements (this is SO bad)

2. Listening to potential customers is harder (you have to discover them and interview them. Effective interviewing is not an easy skill to find). But if you do it right, and are even able to build buyer personas, then you have made the most important think as a marketer (

3. Then, if you nail down (1) and (2), all the others mentioned at point (3) may not be needed. But if you have one of them, well that can make the difference — unless you only base your product/strategy decisions based on (3) like many do with poor results – in fact there are not many Steve Job’s around …

Il Marketing e’ MORTO


Se cercate su Google “marketing is dead,” troverete molte morti annunciate:

email marketing, social media marketing, affiliate marketing, viral marketing, internet marketing, mass marketing, brand marketing, direct marketing, network marketing, relationship marketing,

Persino le 4 P’s del marketing!

Il problema parte proprio da chi “fa marketing”. Quelli che dicono di essere “marketers” ma che invece  sbandierano in modo opportunistico l’ultima novita’ tecnologica o trend, associandole ai propri prodotti o soluzioni in modo sensazionalistico, senza alcun vero valore per il cliente.
Quelli che usano sempre e solo i seguenti termini: Scalabile, Potente, Veloce e Semplice, Il cliente al primo posto,Di Nuova Generazione, Innovativa, etc.

E’ un marketing generico e non targettizzato (“List marketing”)
Spesso invadente ed asfissiante.
…“a questi non interessa se sono pronto a considerare un processo di acquisto o se non posso. Mi aggrediscono lo stesso sempre con le stesse argomentazioni”…
Messaggi “sbraitati” ma piatti, “senza contenuti che mi interessino”, senza un target


  • Le vendite non sono piu’ LA fonte dell’informazione
  • I clienti possono  parlare al mondo – “broadcast to the world”
  • I potenziali clienti possono parlare  tra di loro facilmente, istantaneamente, quando lo decidono loro.
  • L’ Informazione di prodotto e’ facilmente accessibile (chi nasconde informazioni e’ sospettoso e viene scartato)

I potenziali clienti  sono spesso gia’ un bel passo avanti nel ciclo di vendita prima che i venditori si accorgono che esistano.

Quindi, quando interpellati, i ns buyers vogliono sentirsi dire qualcosa di interessante riguardo i loro problemi, nella loro lingua.

Non cose che sanno gia’. Non hanno tempo da perdere.


Invece il vero marketing e’ vivo e’ vegeto, ansi, e’ la chiave del successo. Pochi lo sanno quindi chi lo sa e lo applica ha un vantaggio competitivo notevole.

Il marketing e’ il processo per cui organizzazioni determinano quali prodotti/servizi possano interessare a potenziali clienti, e la strategia da usare nelle vendite, nel marketing communications e nello sviluppo del business.

Le aziende di successo sanno bene che il marketing non e’ solo promozione e pubblicita’.

Sanno che non e’ una lista di cose tipo Fiere di Settore, Direct mail, Newsletters, Pubblicita’, Brochures, Calcolatori del ROI, Presentazioni, Roadshows. Sono tutti pezzi utili ma non possono essere chiamati marketing. Ovvero, questo marketing e’ morto.

Le aziende di successo non assumono un nuovo direttore marketing chiedendogli di fatto di “creare il bisogno per un prodotto”.

Infatti, sfortunatamente, i buyers non hanno bisogno di quello che non hanno bisogno, quindi questo approccio e’ costoso, in salita e avaro di soddisfazioni e di ritorni di investimento. Ovvio, se manca la promozione del tutto bisogna farne prima fare altro. Ma se il prodotto non vende o e’ sbagliato o si sta parlando con le persone sbagliate delle cose sbagliate. E qui rientra il vero marketing, che ha a che fare con Buyers e i loro problemi, non il nostro prodotto.
I leaders di settore prima si focalizano su problemi irrisolti del mercato che possono essere risolti tramita la loro tecnologia (non partono dalla tecnologia!)

Questi leaders sono orgarizzati secondo un flusso entrante (inbound marketing) cioe’ capire problemi che il mercato ha e chi sono i buyers) e anche uscente (outboud marketing) che e’ la parte piu’ tradizionalmente vista come “marketing”che include sia su strategie di “go to market” e di comunicazione ma che verte su un modo di comunicare e vendere che risuona col buyer.

Se poi usano tecniche tipo Buyer Personas, le probabilita’ di successo si alzano di molto, ma qui andiamo nel particolare.

OK but…What is it for?

How many times you DON’T ask this yourself?

Articulating your preferred use case (what’s it for?). Seth’s Godin,

It’s possible to open a can of paint with a $500 Kramer knife. Not likely, and certainly not a market segment that’s going to help Kramer’s business flourish.

At many suburban libraries, the majority of patrons do nothing but ‘rent’ popular movies on DVD. This isn’t an efficient use of the space or the staff, but that doesn’t make it any less common.

Some non-profit organizations are organized to get donations in dollars and dimes, and while they won’t turn away a $50,000 bequest, it’s not something they’re focused on.

Every organization starts with a (usually unarticulated) use case. The founders imagine the best use of their product or service, the situation that they’re organized around. It can involve answers to the following questions:

  • How does someone find out about what you do?
  • How much do they pay for it?
  • When they’re engaging with you in the very best way, what happens? What’s accomplished?
  • What do they do after they use it?
  • How often do they return?

If you put a fancy restaurant on a fancy street, your use case doesn’t involve nannies with a few kids coming in for just a cup of coffee. On the other hand, that might be exactly what a cafe down the street is hoping for.

If your blog is designed for regular readers and a thoughtful dialogue over time, then generating traffic with linkbait, while possible, isn’t going to make the blog work better.

There are two reasons to articulate your use case. First, it helps your staff, your designers, your marketers and your sales force get on the same page about what they’re building and growing. And second, it might be unrealistic. You might be hoping for a market that’s far bigger than it is, or to solve a problem that’s too easy (or too difficult).

When Apple designs a hardware device or a singer records an album, the question must be asked, “What’s this for?” Sure, people can run an accounting business with an iPad, or play one particular song on the album at a party, but is that what it’s for?

Many organizations will take any customer, any time, and bend and writhe to accomodate money in whatever form it arrives. Other, happier organizations understand the benefit of optimizing for a certain kind of interaction, and they have the guts to decline the part of the market that doesn’t want to use their tool/organization the way it was intended

You’ll often be wrong about what the market is and what it wants. When that happens, time to either shift your use case (and the way you’re organized around it) or stick it out but be prepared for a long, tough slog.