Category: Marketing

“‘Me, Me, Me’ equals ‘Less, Less, Less'” – Fred Hess

In pitching as well as marketing, the message has to be oriented to the audience and to what they are interested in hearing about.  We have all seen Rock Star CEO’s whose companies are an extension of their personalities and while that could be good during that CEO’s tenure, even for those large companies, it is not sustainable over the long run.

In fact, in Jim Collin’s book “Good To Great”, he develops his idea of Level 5 Leadership  in which the CEO channels her identity and ego into the success of the company.  This is proven by the fact that the CEO’s of several of the Great companies are people we have never heard of before.

For startups, this is ever more important.  The experience of the team is supreme but not for the hype of the personalities. It’s more for the experience of navigating through the minefield that every startup faces.

Which takes us back to messaging.  Your pitch has to be about communicating the value you provide to a large and growing market and how you can provide a return to your investors.  You marketing message has to be about communicating that value to your customer.


Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson


“It’s a nice name. You should keep it.” – Dr. Who

I have been working with a couple clients on branding lately.  Sometimes a great name just comes.  But often, its a challenge choosing a name that is descriptive but catchy, or “sciency” without sounding incomprehensible.

A good tag line can help by adding just the right description to a cool sounding name.

It’s good to get help.  A good graphic designer has a process to understand what you do and get to what you want.  Their process will force you to describe your product or service to a complete novice and that in itself is a very valuable exercise.  They will know how to combine colors and shapes in a good visual icon.

Your name is the utmost elevator pitch.  It says in one or two words everything there is to say about you and it’s the picture of who you are that people will take with them.  Be deliberate about choosing your brand and make sure you try it on others who care.


Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“You can’t be serious!!!!” – John McEnroe

McEnroe was a great tennis player.  He is now a great commentator.  He has always been a great entertainer.  Because of his passion, of course, but also because of the way he brought something different to the game.  He was rough at the edges and it made for great, entertaining matches in his time.

I doubt McEnroe woke up one morning and decided that for marketing purposes he would yell and scream when the calls went against him.  I think he was  being who he was, authentic and true to himself.

This went against the establishment which conveyed tennis to be a gentlemanly game, staying politely within the boundaries of good behavior.  And in the long run, the sport was better for it.  Millions tuned in the watch the loudmouth American either win or get his clock cleaned.  As for his ability, he was still one of the best in the world.

Find a reason to be different and don’t let the status quo dictate the way you have to play.  If the rules are stupid, question them, break them, ignore them (but don’t go to jail).  Stand out from the alternatives but still be the best.  Be passionate about being the best.  Find that niche of customers who share your passion.

A market where all the competitors are peddling the same thing; one-upping each other with boring new features,  that’s a group of customers screaming for something new and different.


Witkowski’s Law #1. “Bigger is better…” – Chuck Witkowski

…at least when it comes to market size.  Smaller markets will limit the ultimate growth opportunity your company will have.  You’ll do well to capture 5% by the time you have an exit opportunity.  5% of a billion dollar market is better than 5% of a 10 million dollar market.

Witkowski’s Laws are from a speech given at Bridging The Gap 2012  at the Oak Ridge National Lab

“It’s important for entrepreneurs to understand that their “Brand” is the collective emotional response to their product or service.” – Mike Troiano

The days when companies can control their message and protect their brand are just about gone with the dawn of the social media age.  Consider the airline industry.  About the only company that advertises is the one that hasn’t alienated their customers…Southwest Airlines.

The only way to “protect” your brand is to delight your customers.

“It’s a tangent looking for a circle” – Mike Carroll

Technology for technology’s sake is not a business.  That does’t mean it’s not useful, or valuable or necessary.  It may even enable an innovator to find a use in a market but unless the technology solves a problem that a customer is willing to pay for, it’s not a business.

The sooner you understand the needs of a market segment, the more likely the technology will be successful as a business.

“The second mouse gets the cheese” – Rayford Johnson

This is a witty response to “the early bird get’s the worm.”  There are a lot of ways to interpret its relevance but here are a couple of thoughts:

  1. The first mover carries a heavy burden.  It takes a lot of time and money to change the culture and you will probably be short on both.  If you have an entrenched competitor, you have to convince your market to not only buy something new, but to rip out what they have been using for a long time.  This is called change over cost and it can be prohibitive.  In fact many business models leverage it.  Take  It’s a great app that is  cheap and easy to get started with and by the time you have all your business processes running in it, you will be very reluctant to move to something else.  Then they have you.  A good strategy is to find an underserved nitche that no one else is competing for and dominate it.  Then move to the next and the next.  Geoffrey Moore calls this the “bowling pin strategy.”
  2. The second thought is to be constantly observant of the the market, your customers, your competitors.  A certain amount of paranoia is healthy for a business.  Be agile so can can adjust to a sudden change in technology or the winds of a new market.

Happy Birthday to “mama Gazelle”

“Because it is its purpose to create a customer, any business enterprise has two basic functions: marketing and innovation… ” – Peter Drucker

One of my all time favorite business quotes is from Drucker and goes, “The purpose of the business is to have a customer.”  This is the direct follow up in sort of an “if, then” setup.

Innovation is the fun, exciting and invigorating part of entrepreneurship, especially for the technology based startup.  It’s temping to believe that if the app is cool enough, it will sell itself.  Business history is littered with examples of where the best technology did not win.  Xerox never realized the benefits of success of many of its stellar innovations because they chose not to market them.

Marketing is the communication of your value proposition to your customers.  It should commence early, long before the product is ready for beta.  The feedback you get will help you not only develop a cool technology, but it will also help you develop the product people will buy.

The marketing/innovation balance should be at least 50/50.