Thursday, November 18, 2004

Does All Your Marketing Either Generate Revenue or Leads?

One of my clients recently asked me to run an analysis of how effective its web site was. Although the site was very well written and informative, it failed in two key areas:
  1. Nearly every “featured” promotion (i.e., case studies, new releases, white papers) promoted on the home page in the form of links or banner ads were NOT leading directly to revenue-generating opportunities. In other words, the client basically featured things its prospective customers could NOT buy.
  2. Worse yet, NONE of these promotions actually captured leads. In other words, prospective customers could see white papers, case studies, webinars, etc., with NO registration required.

Just for fun, I went through this exercise with some other companies I have been following closely. Nearly 99% of the time, the same thing was true.

TIP: Your web site needs to perform two primary functions:

  1. Directly or indirectly generate revenue.
  2. At the very least, generate leads that your sales organization can follow-up with that will ultimately result in revenue.

Without these two functions being your primary web site design and content goals, you’re missing out on huge revenue and lead generation opportunities.

If you want to learn how I can help you with revenue-generating and lead-generating marketing activities, contact me at 303-494-0682 or at Find out why such companies as MySQL, webMethods, Borland, Newsweek, ABC News, The Washington Post, Hitachi Telecom, Microsoft, as well as many of the most innovative startups, have all been clients of mine.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Free Lead Generation Analysis

As your preparing your 2005 budget, lead generation is probably top on your list. For a limited time, Jeff Wiss is offering a FREE (no-strings-attached) Lead Generation Analysis, using his proven mathematical approach to determine the number of marketing impressions, qualified inquiries, and qualified leads you'll need to achieve your revenue goals.

To request your Lead Generation Analysis, contact Jeff at or call 303-494-0682.

The Magic's in Your Message

In today’s over-communicated society, getting your message through to the right people is becoming more and more challenging every day. For this reason, perfecting the message itself is paramount to maximizing each communication. The right message at the right time to the right audience can help to speed market education, shorten sales cycles, and increase brand recognition. Conversely, the wrong message at the wrong time to the wrong audience will do just the opposite.

So how do you know you have the right message for the right audience at the right time? The key is to focus on these three fundamental questions:
  1. To whom are you talking?
  2. What is their buying behavior?
  3. What do you say to them?

The answers to these questions are often more difficult than they appear. Why? Because the world does not stay still very long. Buyer preferences and motivations change. Sales and delivery channels change. And competitors change.

1. To Whom Are You Talking?
Although most companies have a general understanding of their target audience, purchasing decisions can range from the simple to the complex. If your product or service is an “impulse buy,” then you can often try to be all things to all people. If your product or service is expensive or requires some degree of education to help potential customers appreciate the value, you are in the complex arena.

In a complex purchase, a single person rarely makes the purchasing decision. Often, there are many influencers to whom the decision-maker turns for input. For instance, if it’s a technology purchase, the decision-maker may gather input from their IT staff. For purchases over certain dollar amounts, decisions might be significantly influenced by executive, operational and financial people.

The key is that your messaging must address the pains and drivers of the decision maker as well as the influencers.

2. What is Their Buying Behavior?
To help identify the buying behavior of your potential customers, I use an amazing tool called the Marketing Maturity Matrix™ created by Patrick Perugini, principal of the Maccel Group. This model is particularly powerful in a business-to-business market where most purchase decisions are complex. The Market Maturity Matrix breaks customers into four categories: First Adopters, Market Innovators, Market Movers, and Late Adopters. The following are their buying behaviors:

First Adopters
Looking for market advantage
Looking for discontinuous innovations
Financially aggressive
Risk prone
Use innovation to gain business or individual recognition
Buy directly from the manufacturer
Influenced by peers and industry visionaries
Want information and education
Want to share the vision
Emotional purchase

Market Innovators
Looking for competitive advantage (lead the industry)
Moderately aggressive financially
Risk acceptant
Use products and services as changes agents for business
Purchase direct or from specialty resellers with domain expertise in market segment or business function
Looking for product and services applications unique to their business or market
Influenced by industry organizations and analysts
Want personalized service and addition
Conditional or competitive purchase

Market Movers
Looking for competitive parity (keep pace with the industry)
Looking for complete solutions
Financially conservative
Risk averse
Use products and services to improving existing operations or processes
Purchase through channels or direct
Influenced by market trends, trade organizations, and analysts
Want competitive selection and comparison
Operational purchase

Late Adopters
Looking for market parity
Look for mature, turnkey, or embedded products or solutions
Financially very conservative
Risk avoidant
Use new products to replace outdated or existing products
Purchase through mass channels
Influenced by channel, brand recognition, perceived value, and availability

Once you’ve identified what category your potential customers are in, it is important to craft your messaging to address all the issues they face in making a purchasing decision, as described above.

3. What Do You Say to Them?
The first two questions – to whom are you talking and what is their buying behavior – are part of the “science of marketing.” What you say to them is more of an art. There is an old saying, “You can give a man a scalpel, but it does not make him a surgeon.” In messaging, an analogous saying would be, “Your can give a man a dictionary, but it does not make him a writer.”

At the same time, even if you’re not the most creative writer, the following tips will put you on the right path to effective messaging.

Avoid the common mistakes in messaging:

  • Failure to sell
  • Lack of clarity
  • Over importance/arrogance
  • Negativism
  • Forgetting the audience
  • Irrelevant facts

Follow the guidelines of good messaging:

  • Be concise
  • Focus on benefits
  • Directly addresses the customer pain
  • Stay consistent within “type”

What do I mean by “type”? To simplify the messaging process, I have defined seven types of messaging. They are:

Technology Leadership (even for non-technology products)
Concepts: most sophisticated, feature-rich, advanced, leading edge
Example – Sleep Number® Bed: “The benefits of air technology in the first air chamber mattress proved that air was a superior medium for providing full body comfort and support.”

Market Leadership
Concepts: first in the market, largest market share, high-acceptance level.
Example – Cisco Systems: “The worldwide leader in networking for the Internet.”

Application and Use
Concepts: what it does, simplicity, ease-of-use, flexible
Example – Digex: “Managing business on the Internet.”

Pricing and Delivery
Concepts: low price, high value, faster time to market
Example – United States Postal Service Global Delivery Service: “With some of the most affordable shipping choices in the business, we go to the ends of the earth to help you manage your overseas delivery budget.”

Wishes, Dreams, Ambitions
Concepts: Being able to do something you never could before; greater efficiency, do your job better
Example – Engage: “Want to turn prospects into customers?”

Comfort, Ease, Convenience
Concepts: Ease of use, set it and forget it, make your life easier
Example: -- IRS e-file: “So easy, no wonder tax professionals love it.”

Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt
Concepts: not ready for unexpected, what-if scenarios
Example – Digital Island: “Ten thousand investors just clicked the “buy” button all at once. Can your site handle it?”

How do you decide which type of messaging to use? In general, none is any better than the other. Your decision needs to be based on what your potential customers care the most about – to what type of messaging will they respond based on their pains and drivers.

Once you’ve decided on the type of messaging you’re going to use, it is important to be consistent within that type across all your communications.

Magic Words
Good messaging makes use of marketing’s magic words. The most controversial is the word, “free.” Although you’re in business to make money, there are elements of your products or services that may be perceived as free offerings (i.e., free assessment, free support for 60 days, free cell phone with 1 year service contract). Other magic words include:

  • New
  • Proven
  • Guaranteed
  • Trustworthy
  • Secure
  • Automatic
  • Sale

Just as there are magic words in marketing, there are also dangerous words. One of these is the word, “revolution.” Unless your product and service is truly a discontinuous innovation (i.e., the first VCR, the first microwave oven, the first notebook computer), people tend to shy away from revolutions; instead, they gravitate toward “evolutions.” Other dangerous words include:

  • Obligation
  • Complex
  • Failure
  • Wrong

In addition, an over-dependence on buzzwords can be dangerous in your messaging. We once came across this messaging that not only relied on buzzwords, but also suffered from “blah, blah, blah syndrome”:

“Our mission is to automate business processes inside and outside the firewall by providing an asynchronous messaging layer with automatic queuing built on open standards which provides guaranteed reliable and completely flexible, dynamic, scalable distributed processing with built-in security all centrally managed ensuring complete connectivity between front office, back office, eCommerce, custom, legacy and mainframe systems. In real time over the Internet.”

If your messaging begins to sound like a laundry list of buzzwords, you’re headed down the wrong path.

Putting It All Together
Now that you have identified to whom your talking, what their buying behavior is, and what you say to them (taking messaging types and marketing’s magic words into consideration), you can build your messaging. The best companies put together a messaging framework that becomes their “bible” for all communications. The beauty of the messaging framework is that it can be shared with your outsource vendors, such as public relations firms or advertising agencies, to help ensure that your messages to your target audiences are communicated consistently.

The key elements of a messaging framework include:

  • Corporate information: Company background, position in market, competitive advantage
  • Internal messaging: Vision statement, mission statement, positioning statement
  • External messaging: “Elevator pitch”; 25-, 50-, and 100-word descriptions of products and services; why-to-buys; supporting messages; supporting materials such as awards, customer testimonials, articles)

When your messaging is right, you’ll know it. In the words of Engage, the magic of the right messaging is that it can turn “prospects into customers.”

About the Author
Jeff Wiss is founder of Jeff Wiss Companies. As a 20-year marketing veteran, he has successfully launched new companies and re-positioned existing companies in both consumer and business-to-business markets. Jeff’s expertise in the areas of company and product positioning, messaging, branding, and launch strategies has been recognized and utilized among some of the most successful companies worldwide.

You can contact me at 303-494-0682 or Or visit my web site at

Beyond Positioning

In my previous article, I discussed the importance of a positioning statement and how it can accelerate market success. I also explained how to build a positioning statement using the following template:

To (target market), XYZ Company is the (frame of reference) that (point of difference) because (justification).

An example of an excellent positioning statement is that of Federal Express:

To deadline-oriented business people, Federal Express is the overnight package delivery service that is the most reliable because of its sophisticated package tracking system.

Another example is when started; it sold only books and its positioning statement was:

To people who like to read, is the online bookstore that is the best place to purchase books because of its selection.

Once you develop a positioning statement, have checked it against competitive messaging to determine that yours is unique and defensible, it’s time to “operationalize” it across the 4 P’s of marketing:
  • Product
  • Price
  • Promotion
  • Place

Let’s take a look at each.


Having a good product or service is the core of your business. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the best product to win, however. Sometimes products win because of great marketing and sales, lower pricing, and greater access to customers. However, the product must deliver on its promise in a new, better, faster, or cheaper way to succeed.

Let’s say that your positioning statement says that your product is the “fastest and easiest” way to do something. For example, QuickBooks claims to be “The fastest, easiest way to manage your business. Guaranteed.”

With this promise there are dramatic implications for your product development. If you claim it’s the “fastest,” it better be. It should be benchmarked against the competition. If you claim that it’s the “easiest,” this has an impact on the user interface, how intuitive the product is, the extent of the help system, etc.

In the Federal Express example, its justification for being the “most reliable” was its “sophisticated package tracking system.” This meant that Federal Express needed to ensure it had an automated way to track a package every step of the way, capture proof of delivery and the signature of the person receiving the package, and provide a way for customers to check on this progress. Customers could initially check over the phone. Then, Federal Express got even more sophisticated by allowing people to check on the Internet.


Many components of a positioning statement can have an impact on price. If your differentiation is “the most cost effective” or the “least expensive,” you need to ensure that this statement is true by looking at competitive pricing. Since a positioning statement has a 12 to 18 month life, you will need to constantly monitor competitive pricing to ensure you are the most cost effective. For most companies, this is not an enviable position to be in.

Even the frame of reference in a positioning statement can impact your price. In’s case, it chose not to play the “least expensive” game. Nevertheless, because it’s frame of reference was “online bookstore,” knew its pricing had to be at least equal to brick-and-mortar bookstores.

Sometimes companies choose to position their products and services as being “the safest choice.” This can have a positive effect on price. Many customers are willing to pay a premium for something that is safe and reliable.


The positioning statement probably has most dramatic impact on promotion – the messages, programs, and vehicles through which you will promote your products or services to prospective customers.

Each promotion through every vehicle – advertising, public relations, direct mail, email, trade shows, Web sites, etc. – needs to address the four components of the positioning statement in a creative, concise, or memorable way.

For the target audience, make sure you’re allowing people to see themselves in your promotion and, in essence, raise their hands and say, “Yes, that’s me. I have that problem or pain.” In Lincoln-Mercury’s Lincoln LS print advertising campaign, the headline reads, “It chews up narrow twisty roads and spits them out. In a refined elegant way, of course.”

This is a creative way of basically saying in the target audience section of their positioning statement, “To drivers who want the luxury of a sedan with the performance of a sports car . . .” The point is that although you do have to identify your target audience in your promotion, you can be clever in how you do it.

For the frame of reference, make sure your promotions let prospective customers know what category your product or service is in so that they have a framework within which they can understand your differentiation. Some companies do this by simply showing a photograph of the product. Others are even more explicit. For example, Sales Logix says, “All CRM implementations are not alike. Some of them actually succeed.” Here, in the second word of its promotion, Sales Logix identifies its frame of reference, and actually addresses the customer pain in the next sentence.

Differentiation is key in your promotions. This is not an area where you should be overly creative – just be blatant about it. If you’re “the fastest,” “the easiest,” “the safest,” etc., just come out and say it. For example, Microsoft promotes its Office suite as “Simplifying Productivity,” and then justifies it by listing all the reasons how and why. This leads us to justification.

Your promotions need to justify your differentiation. This, too, is not a time to be subtle or overly creative. Tell your prospective customers exactly how you justify your differentiation. For example, today sells everything from books and videos to CDs and electronics. It has trademarked its justification with the phrase, “Earth’s Biggest Selection™.” Not much gets more blatant than that.


Place is where you actually sell your products and services. Places may include through a direct sales force; on the Web; as an ASP model; through systems integrators, VARs, specialty resellers; or through retail. Your positioning statement impacts place in a number of ways. First, wherever that place is, you need to ensure that you continue to communicate the four elements of the positioning statement at the point of purchase.

In addition, your positioning statement can help you in the acquisition of resellers and partners because your differentiation also helps to differentiate them. In addition, your target audience may very well be the same ones they can or would like to reach.

Internalize as well as Externalize

The above discussion focuses on externalizing your positioning. It is just as important, if not more so, to internalize your positioning within your organization. Many of our clients have taken the positioning statements we helped them develop and print them on laminated cards for every employee. Others have created posters to place around the office. Some have created positioning statement screen savers. And others have had us conduct focus groups within their organizations to explain how and why the positioning statement was developed, to get their comments, and confirm their buy-in.

The key is that everyone in your organization should know your four elements of the positioning statement:

  • Target audience
  • Frame of reference
  • Differentiation
  • Justification

In doing so, they will better understand where the company is headed, why it’s headed there, and what their role is in the company’s success.

About the Author

Jeff Wiss is founder of Jeff Wiss Companies. As a 20-year marketing veteran, he has successfully launched new companies and re-positioned existing companies in both consumer and business-to-business markets. Jeff’s expertise in the areas of company and product positioning, messaging, branding, and launch strategies has been recognized and utilized among some of the most successful companies worldwide.

You can contact me at 303-494-0682 or Or visit my web site at

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Bulletproof Positioning Accelerates Market Success

When do companies fail? Companies fail for many reasons: bad business models, economic downturns, and competitive influences are just a few. Another is their attempt at selling a “brand” instead of their products and services. The dot-coms were classic examples where “brand” and “eyeballs” were more important than the products and services for which they could charge.

When do companies succeed? Sometimes a better product, a better price, or greater access to customers leads to success. Other times its better marketing and the ability to carve out a desirable and unique position in the prospective customers’ minds.

Assuming you have marketing’s 4 P’s in place – the right Product, the right Price, the right Promotional programs and vehicles, and the right Place to sell your products – proper positioning can accelerate market success.

Your ability to accelerate those other P’s is very difficult. Product development takes as long as it takes. ROI analyses and market research help you define your pricing, but pricing has a direct impact on your timeframe for profitability. Promotional programs have fairly set lead times. And, building channels or developing direct sales programs requires time and repeated customer touch points.

But, bulletproof positioning, when done correctly can be very effective quickly and have an immediate impact on your future success.

The Positioning Statement

The first thing to do to accelerate market success is to develop a positioning statement for your company and /or products and services. This is often more difficult than it seems. Often executives and marketing people are too distracted by their day-to-day activities to even bother with it. Other times, they are too close to their company that they are figuratively chewing on the bark of the trees instead of seeing the forest. They cannot objectively see themselves from a customer’s perspective. This is where having a positioning expert – an objective “outsider” – can accelerate the desired result .

So, what is a positioning statement? It is an internal statement intended to create focus, priority, and clarity about a company’s goals, unique value propositions, and culture. Although the positioning statement itself will never be used word-for-word as external copy, it serves as the foundation on which to build your messaging. It’s never going to appear on your Web site, for example. I say this because it’s not the most grammatically beautiful statement due to the template we use for creating positioning statements. This template is designed to identify four key elements into one sentence:

  • Your target market
  • Your frame of reference (or category)
  • Your point of difference
  • The justification for your point of difference

Formed into a sentence, the template reads:

To (target market), XYZ Company is the (frame of reference) that (point of difference) because (justification).

I’ll give you a few examples. When Federal Express first started, based on its marketing, one would surmise that its positioning statement was:

To deadline-oriented business people, Federal Express is the overnight package delivery service that is the most reliable because of its sophisticated package tracking system.

Breaking this down into the four elements of a positioning statement, you see:

  • Target market: Deadline-oriented business people
  • Frame of reference: Overnight package deliver service
  • Differentiation: The most reliable
  • Justification: Its sophisticated package tracking system

When started, it sold only books. Using the template, its positioning statement was:

To people who like to read, is the online bookstore that is the best place to purchase books because of its selection.

It’s interesting that didn’t justify being the best place to purchase books based on price or convenience. It justified it by going with “selection” – hence, the “Earth’s biggest bookstore.” Now that sells a variety of other products, its new positioning is the “Earth’s biggest selection” of products – staying true to its roots.

Building a Positioning Statement

The lifespan of a positioning statement should be about 12 to 18 months. Positioning statements can, and should, change over time. So, take both today’s reality and the reality of where you’ll be in 12 months into consideration.

In building your positioning statement, keep these criteria in mind. Your scope and message needs to be:

  • Large enough to justify why you’re in business.
  • Focused enough that you can specifically address customer pains. (Remember, the Federal Express example qualified “business people” with “deadline-oriented.”)
  • Meaningful to the customer – the more strongly customers feel about being part of this group, the better. The more precisely you define the target market, the more members will feel a part of it.

The frame of reference needs to:

  • Be a customer-defined grouping. In our Positioning Workshop, we often find that a company wants to “create a new category.” Sometimes, that is exactly the right thing to do. However, this new category still needs to be understood by the customers and described in the language they use.
  • Include all the options to satisfy a specific, identifiable need.
  • Take into account that when your company is positioned as a member of a certain frame of reference, you automatically accrue its benefits as well as its baggage.

The points of difference needs to be:

  • Fact based – You need to support it with undeniable facts.
  • Desirable – It must promise to meet the needs of the customer.
  • Preemptive – The stronger and longer customers associate your company, and only your company, with this point of difference, the better.

The justification needs to:

  • Include unique features, functions, characteristics, or delivery methods
  • Be unique and defensible – in other words, bulletproof!

Typically, companies have little difficulty identifying their target audiences and frames of references – unless, of course they are bringing a discontinuous innovation to market or establishing a new category.

Where they often have the most difficulties are in the areas of differentiation and justification. When I work with companies on their positioning statement, I often find that what they think is their differentiation is often a justification for an even more powerful differentiation.

For example, in the Federal Express example, they could have said that their sophisticated package tracking system was their differentiation and justified it with the years of development or their percentage of successful deliveries. However, this would have been less powerful because what the customers needed was the assurance that the package would actually get to where it was going overnight . . . every time.

In’s case, they could have said that their differentiation was convenience because you didn’t have to get in your car and drive to a bookstore. But this was common practice, and not that painful. The customer’s “true pain” was to actually get to the bookstore and find that it didn’t carry the book. communicated that when you come to its site, it will have the book you want.

Beyond Positioning

Once you develop a positioning statement, I often recommend that you look at your competitors’ communications and try to build positioning statements for them. Although this requires some extra effort it is important to ensure that yours is unique. Are you truly saying something different than everyone else is saying?

Once you’re sure that you have a positioning statement that is powerful and true, communicate it frequently and consistently throughout your organization. Help everyone understand how this positioning statement should help them create priority and focus in their role, and what each person can do to make this positioning statement a continuing reality.

Finally, a positioning statement is only as good as your ability to communicate it internally, your ability to translate it to external messaging, and your ability to “operationalize” it across the 4 P’s of marketing. This will be the topic of a future article.

About the Author
Jeff Wiss is founder of Jeff Wiss Companies. As a 20-year marketing veteran, he has successfully launched new companies and re-positioned existing companies in both consumer and business-to-business markets. Jeff’s expertise in the areas of company and product positioning, messaging, branding, and launch strategies has been recognized and utilized among some of the most successful companies worldwide.

You can contact me at 303-494-0682 or Or visit my web site at