Its the age-old question.. Are you better off doing a few things REALLY GOOD or doing many things SO-SO?

Depends on your company. Small to Mid-Sized companies should definitely focus more on a few things, find their market niche and define clearly the problems they solve, and do it better than anyone else. You are small and nimble and can keep ahead of your bigger competitors by focusing on a few things. (Big companies do not move quick) As a small-mid sized company, the more markets you try and attack, the more “un-focused” your development, sales, marketing, etc. efforts will become.

Larger companies can get away with branching out and touching a lot of different markets. They have the resources and can gamble a little more.

So, depending on the size of your company, you will probably do yourself a world of good if you focus your efforts on a few things and doing them really well.

Ever heard that expression before?  Don’t wait for someone to pass you the ball, move around, get open and go get the ball yourself…  Be aggressive.

We should take this sports message to heart in our business lives.  Whether you are talking about sales or marketing or whatever aspect of a business you are dealing with.  Go to the ball.  Don’t wait for business to come knocking at your door – go get it.  Don’t wait for a new job to come knocking at your door – go get it.

Its really easy in these tough economic times to cut things we view as “discretionary” when it comes to your business.  Marketing & Lead Generation is one such activity.  However, it is OK to make cuts for the health and well-being of the business, but be careful how much you cut.  Going dark as a company can cause irreparable harm to the long-term health of your business that you might not be able to recover from.

Whether it is a podcast, a simple blog, a Twitter site or whatever the mechanism you choose – social media is relatively inexpensive for your business to get going and maintain and you should definitely look at making an investment in it.

Like anything else though, social media will only be as good for your business as the effort you put behind it. White papers, press releases, content, etc. – the more you can put up on the social media site, the more probability that you will get hits to the site when folks do a search.

Even something simple as creating a blog up on the WordPress site – you should take advantage of as many social media outlets for your business as you can.

As we near the end of the calendar year, many companies are starting to make projections and plans for the coming year around revenue, product roadmaps, etc.

One of the things that typically goes by the wayside, believe it or not, with many companies is setting corporate goals for all of the departments within the company to drive towards. I once worked with a Fortune 500 Software company – and at the beginning of each Fiscal Year, the CEO would send an email out to the entire company letting everyone know the corporate goals for that year. There was no doubt amongst the thousands of employees within the company what was important in the coming year and where they should be spending their time.

This might seem like something that is a no brainer, but you would be surprised to find out how few companies actually do this exercise of setting goals and driving the goals down through their organization.

The corporate goals should drive each departments goals which in turn should drive each employees goals/MBO’s within that department. Amazing how simple this sounds – but ask your employees next time you get the chance and see if they know what the company’s goals/drivers are for the coming year.

The best run companies at the end of the day, usually have an organization that is all pointed in the same direction that is focused on meeting the same goals. This little bit of planning at the beginning of the year can pay huge dividends for your company and keeping everyone focused on the main goal of meeting your revenue objectives – or whatever they might be.

I once took a job with a company, decent size company of about 150 people or so, worldwide and about $35M in revenues. I was brought in to bring the Product Marketing role into the company.

First thing I asked the folks within the Marketing and Sales organizations is how they launched a product. Internally, they told me that they sent an email out to the company with the press release announcing the product attached. (That was it) Externally, they told me that they put a press release out on the business wire.

Most companies don’t realize how important it is to conduct a proper product launch. Having a launch plan with proper tasks assigned to various groups within the company, having launch meetings with members of that team from the majority of departments within the company, etc.

A product launch process is like a bow and arrow. You pull the bow back as far as it will go preparing to release it. The act of pulling that bow back is all the work that must be done pre-launch to prepare for the actual launch of the product. The act of releasing the bow is GA of your product.

One of the most important things any organization can do is learn how to properly launch products to maximize their exposure not only externally to the market, but also internally as well so all depts know about the launch and what it means for them.

One of the best company’s at launching products into the market is Apple. If you ever want to understand how to launch a product with maximum exposure, build brand and excitement in the market, then follow Apple’s launch of their next iPod or version of their iPhone.

Apple does a tremendous job of positioning and messaging their products in the market – however the one thing they do an unbelievable job of is introducing products that resonate with their markets. They understand the problems within their targeted markets and they do a great job of solving those problems with their products.

If you ever wondered why Apple is so successful, just take a look at one of their products and think about the problems these products solve and how they resonate with their markets.

For those who remember the mid 1980’s, sorry if I just dated some of us, one of the best marketing/branding companies of the last 50 years made, what some referred to, as one of the biggest market/brand mistakes of our generation when they changed the formula to Coke and came out with the NEW Coke.

Right after WWII, Coke owned over 50% of the software drink market – however by the early 80’s, under intense competition from Pepsi, their market share dropped almost in half.

When Coke announced the NEW Coke, Pepsi thought that they had “won” the Cola wars and put a PR campaign out stating just that.

48 Hours after the announcement of the NEW Coke, research firms estimated that over 80% of the US Population was aware of the “NEW Coke”. (THAT is brand recognition)

Later that same year under pressure from its faithful customers, Coke re-introduced the old Coke under the name “Classic Coke”. Within 6 months of this re-introduction, Coke’s sales had returned to more than twice that of Pepsi’s.

Whether just the re-introduction of the old formula was the driver to increased sales or the introduction that year of Cherry Coke, who knows.

Did Coca-Cola pull off one of the biggest marketing coupes of all-time? Or did they make one of the biggest mistakes of all time and came out smelling like roses?

Remember that next time someone says Marketing doesn’t effect sales. :o)

Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

For instance…  THIS Thanksgiving (Happy Thanksgiving by the way), you are NOT going to eat as much and give yourself that uncomfortable feeling for the night that you do every other year.  Unfortunately, you get to watching the football games, maybe turn on a basketball game, you continue to eat the snacks that are put out before dinner, then dinner is served and you don’t want to feel like a bad guest, so you fill your plate and eat a great dinner.  Then, right after dinner you find yourself lounging in the Lazy-Boy chair moaning and groaning…

Sound familiar?  Has your company continued to try the same things that have gotten you to the point you are at as a company – only this time, for some reason, it will work better!!

How frustrating is it for you to continue to develop business or product or marketing plans for a specific product or company only to see the company fall back into the same trap that has gotten it to where you are now?

Sometimes the best thing for a company to do is get someone from the outside to look objectively at your business and pay them to tell you the truth from how things look from the outside.  Sometimes people are too worried about their job, don’t like conflict, not good at communicating, etc.  Whatever the reason, sometimes the best thing for your company is to hear the truth from someone who is not attached to your business.

“Your Opinion, while interesting, is completely irrelevant…”

So what does all of this mean?  Am I just being a jerk and trying to show people that I know more than you?

Actually, couldn’t be further from the truth.  I got this line from a book – “Tuned In” – and the premise goes like this — While you might think you know a lot about your companies technology and the market that your company plays in, the only way you could possibly know about the problems that exist in your prospects environments is to get out into those accounts and talk with them.

Does your company have one person who “has all the knowledge”?  They know what direction the company or the product needs to go in.  They stand up in front of the group and tell your executive team what they should be doing and what direction the company should be taking.

Do you ever wonder why your company or product line continues to struggle and can never get off the ground and gain the proper traction in the market?

I often sit in meetings and listen to different companies talk about their next product release and how great a product it will be and how much the market is waiting for it, etc. etc.  Then I start asking questions like – How long has this product been under development?  What problems is the release solving in the market?  What prospects have you taken this product into and discussed the solution set to?

Most companies can answer pretty quickly how long the product has been under development and how much that development effort has cost them to date.  However, when I get to the questions about what problems the release is solving and what prospects they have talked to – I tend to get a look that quickly says “Solving problems?”…

Solving problems is why we develop products and bring them to the market.  Yet I am amazed at how often companies develop the next version of software because —  well, because they needed a new version.  Requirements are based on what the competitors are doing or worse, they are based on what the companies existing customer base says they want.

A little bit of thinking up front and spending some cycles talking with prospects will go a long way on the back-end of a requirements document that ensures the product you are bringing to the market actually solves problems that exist within your market.  After all, isn’t that why we develop products?

Tune in to your markets.

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