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How To Get Marketing Process Outsourcing Right

Marketing process outsourcing (MPO), defined as the outsourcing of a company’s various market-facing activities to an external provider, is not exactly a new phenomenon. It has been in the news for the last 3-4 years, and here at Confianzys, we often hear from technology and product firms who believe we can help them in the marketing department.

Tempting as it is for resource-stretched technology firms to consider such an arrangement, marketing process outsourcing works only when there is clarity of objectives and well-defined metrics to evaluate your progress towards these objectives.

As practitioners of product marketing, we believe that businesses should be looking at these 5 aspects when outsourcing the marketing process:

#1 Strategy is not made in an ivory tower

Marketing outsourcing is treated as a hiving off of low-level activity, and the marketing partner as someone implementing a set of “to-dos”. This approach fails because it treats marketing strategy and implementation as unrelated activities to be accomplished by different people, or as a linear continuum where implementation follows strategy. In reality, marketing works best on a closed loop where feedback from implementation flows back to strategy and is used to learn and modify.

Another major reason to have your MPO partner closely involved in creating strategy is that many small and mid-sized technology firms do not have a CMO who can drive the process. In these cases too, the MPO needs to have a larger role with integrated inbound and outbound marketing as well as demand creation Read More[ READ MORE ]

Converging Markets, Converging Problems

A recent article on How the tech parade passed Sony by analyses the fall of this once mighty corporation and attributes it to internal infighting and an inability to foresee a changing market. As we had examined in our thought paper on the hidden barriers to innovation, internal silos with business working on divergent goals and projects prove lethal for companies.

While Sony has fared disastrously in the consumer electronics space it once dominated, the company is still seen as a force to reckon with in one market – its PlayStation continues to be big in the gaming devices market.

Yet, Sony’s current position in game consoles is a good example of a market position that looks secure but is actually very jittery. Winning in the gaming market is no longer just about who makes the best devices. Marketers have to do a fundamental rethink on who exactly the consumer is.

Devices such as Nintendo and Playstation appealed to a particular kind of consumer – gaming aficionados, often young, usually male and prepared to spend large sums of money for something they were passionate about. The rise of games on the Internet and mobile devices has brought in large swathes of new consumers – who may not be obsessed with gaming and who are much more diverse in terms of age and gender. With the growing adoption of tablets and smartphones, the number and variety of games now available is mind-boggling.

Until recently, gaming console manufacturers have worked Read More[ READ MORE ]

When Do You Start Marketing Your Product?

If you take a linear view of the product development and management processes, you may answer this as product planning followed by product development and then by product marketing.

While product planning should be a starting point (read our thought paper on market-centric product planning), marketing does not need to wait until the development is finished and the product ready for rollout. In fact, if you’ve waited this long, you’ve been waiting too long.

Product marketing can and should begin while product planning and development is in progress, and this applies as much to software products or B2B technology products as to any B2C product.

Product marketing strategy

The most important reason to start marketing early is marketing is not just implementation of sales programs. Product marketing includes evaluation of the market and developing the right market strategy. It is critical for the product marketing team to prepare a good business case that defines the specific market segment for which a product is being developed.

When business cases are prepared post product development, they end up force fitting segments to the product, which may or may not exist. Starting with a clear picture of the right market segment and how the product will be positioned towards that market ensures that at a later stage, the marketing resources are not wasted on segments that don’t have a strong and current need.

Shorter sales cycles

Very long sales cycles exist precisely because most of the time, we are Read More[ READ MORE ]

Deals-based e-commerce in India: Ripe for a fall?

Snapdeal, Koovs, MyDala, Crazeal (the erstwhile Sosasta now acquired by Groupon), Dealsandyou, LivingSocial – these are only a few of the players in the growing number of group buying and deals-based sites in India.

With low entry barriers, a host of sites with little differentiation have sprung up. Is the online deals market headed for a shakeout?

Yes, and the answer is – a shakeout is imminent and not just because of the number of players in the market. The truth is that with VC monies enabling heavy promotion, many e-commerce sites in India and especially deals-based sites are focusing purely on acquiring customers in numbers, than on the quality of the transactions or on building relationships.

This has already happened to deals sites in other markets such as the US and in China, but we don’t seem to be learning from it.

Deals-based sites hinge on customers’ love for bargains, but once a bargain is made, what is there to keep customer X from shopping around at another site for an even better one? Moreover, most of the deals being touted on these sites are for discretionary purchases, with the bargain being purely notional; after all, how many ‘marked-down-from-an-inflated-price’ spa treatments can one purchase?

Sooner or later, consumer saturation and merchant fatigue is bound to set in, and some of this competition will fail to make it. The consolidation has already begun, and with Amazon’s entry, some e-commerce players, including in the deals space will Read More[ READ MORE ]

Are You ‘One More Social Media Product’?

As large numbers of users gravitate to social networks and micro-blogging tools such as Facebook and Twitter, brands followed them. And where brands have ventured, a host of small companies have emerged, building products that help brands navigate social media.

Most products operate in one or more of these areas: - Enabling better conversation and responsiveness (e.g. tweet schedulers, Facebook apps for polls and contests) - Understanding consumers (social media analytics) - Linking social media to other company-owned or third party channels (for e.g. integration tools that provide information to call-centre employees)

The first two, however – social media enablers and analytical tools, are already becoming crowded with numerous products, many of them operating on a freemium model. Given the low entry barriers in this space and the ongoing interest in social media, we can expect this space to get more crowded, not less!

The third of these is still a relatively unexplored area and one in which brands face many challenges. It is therefore here; in the enterprise social media area that opportunity is really exists for product companies.

For products that want to create differentiation in the enterprise social market, here are some possibilities:

Selling with social media: Brands are yet to find the best ways to connect social media with sales. While e-commerce via Facebook exists, there are opportunities here for products that help small business owners sell to customers.

Long-term perspectives: One key challenge that brands face with social media is that these have not been set Read More[ READ MORE ]