The 7 Deadly Sins of Product Demos

November 30, 2016


My newest post on Medium covers what you may consider the seven deadly sins of product demos. We have all seen how online demos for B2B SaaS products can become terrible hour-long sessions that don’t lead to any interesting conclusion and it might be time to re-evaluate how your own sales reps are handling their own demos.

The full article is here:




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Marketers Need to Get Their Stories Straight

April 9, 2014

As marketing professionals we all know the importance of storytelling, and with the current hyper-focus on all things content marketing, being able to tell stories is not just a requirement for modern marketers,  but is magnified by the different ways in which your stories can be disseminated.

The interesting thing is that according to a recent survey by the Content Marketing Institute (B2B Content Marketing – 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends–North America), although 93% of B2B marketers report using content marketing as part of their marketing strategy, only 42% of B2B marketers say they are effective at content marketing.

When you look at the challenges marketers face when creating content, the same survey shows the top three as being:

  • Lack of time
  • Producing enough content
  • Producing the kind of content that engages

Content Ahoy!

The way I see it, most marketers are pressed for creating more content then ever before and they struggle to create content that resonates with their buyers. Unfortunately, this is not surprising. Just take a look at the myriad of emails you get from different vendors, all with bland messaging and tons of weak content.

Infographics, to cite an example, got traction around 2010/11 as a great marketing tool and quickly became overused. Everything got dumped into a vertically-oriented PDF or JPG that had tons of data with no clear message. It doesn’t matter, as marketers report increasing the use of infographics (51% over 38% last year) as a key tactic, showing that getting your infographic noticed has become more difficult.

But back to the point. The problem marketers face also has to do with a key missing ingredient: storytelling.

Get the Story Straight

I was glad to see I’m not the only one feeling this lack of storytelling is plaguing many marketers, as Ardath Albee explains in her post, the product is not the hero of the story.

How many times have you read a new ebook or whitepaper and thought, “meh”? The story that focuses on the product is the wrong kind. I know, we are all tempted to showcase our product as the savior, the great dragon-slaying knight that came right on time to save the customer and for a small fee you too can take advantage of this awesome new version that now comes with flaming sword and shield.

Why do we do it? Because it’s easy. We just name the features, benefits, and churn a few whitepapers and webinars, throw an infographic there and it’s all set. Then, when is time to review the results we are pressured for more content, with less budget and not enough time.

My own attempts at storytelling falls into this trap now and then, as the pressures for more content faster mount. But as I read Ardath’s post and have been rethinking how to tell stories in a way that will resonate with our buyers, I am trying to get better. If you are reading this, so should you! Block two hours (at least!) tomorrow to stop everything you are doing and refocus your storytelling efforts. It will be well worth it.

2013 B2B Content Marketing Awards

November 19, 2013

In the October edition of the BtoB Online Magazine, a series of companies were showcased in what they call the 2013 Content Marketing Awards. Yes, for you to be considered you have to submit (or your agency submit for you) a nomination form which means not all companies that have great content are actually considered but it is nevertheless an interesting lineup of companies and content assets they produced. It is worth going down the list to get some inspiration for your own content marketing efforts. I’ve summarized below the list for you:

2013 Content Marketing Awards

Category: Integrated
Xerox HealthBiz DecodedWinner: Xerox Corp., for Healthcare thought leadership
HealthBiz Decoded  (
The website features articles by freelance journalists and Xerox’s healthcare expert, as well as aggregated healthcare news from the Web. Includes infographics, videos and resource links in an engaging design. The Xerox logo is a small image at the top and bottom ofthe page. They also sponsored TedMed 2013, a conference focusing on innovation in healthcare and sent a journalist to cover it and blog about the event as well as host a Google+ post-conference chat.

Runner-Up: Makino Inc., for captivating audiences with customer stories (

Category: Blog
Cisco Life Connected BlogWinner: Cisco Systems, with Connected Life Exchange blog. (
The focus of the blog is in how networks and technology are changing the world. Some posts also include videos from their documentary-style video series on “Network Effect”.

Runner-Up: General Electric Co. – GE Intelligent Platforms blog

Category: Microsite
NYSE MicroSiteWinner: New York Stock Exchange, for
It was built to showcase companies in its electronic stock exchange and to attract new ones to list. Part of an integrated marketing campaign called “Welcome to the Biggest Stage in Business”, the microsite is at the core of the campaign.


Runner-Up: FedEx Corp (

Category: Online Video
FedEx Darn Good Yarn VideoWinner: FedEx Corp – Darn Good Yarn (
The video profiles a fiber-importer and retailer that hires local women in Nepal and India to recycle fabrics into yarn. Was selected for its good storytelling showing how Darn Good Yarn came to be a success and how FedEx helped the company save money and grow.


Runner-Up: Cartus Corp – Cartus on the Ground video series

Category: Email Newsletter
Informatica NewsletterWinner: Informatica Corp, for “Potential at Work” e-newsletter. (
The newsletter combines a ton of content with precise targeting, using six separate newsletter content for different types of IT decision-makers: architects and developers, leaders in applications, information, IT, sales, and marketing. The email newsletter is created and sent every six weeks, and each newsletter has original feature articles translated into nine languages.

Runner-Up: Verizon Wireless, Verizon B2B SMB Digital Lifecycle Series

Category: Digital Publication
STIR Tablet EditionWinner: Sherwin-Williams Co, STIR tablet edition (
STIR is a custom magazine that is published three times a year, aimed at residential and commercial interior designers and architects. The tablet edition takes the print magazine into the digital realm of iPads and other tablets allowing users to browse all the articles and interact with with videos and the many color palettes.

Runner-Up: ARM Holdings, for ARM Signum

Category: Branded Content
NetApp BrandVoiceWinner: NetApp, for NetApp BrandVoice (
NetApp has a presence at BrandVoice site where it places content coming from contributors on a variety of topics including security challenges of BYOD to a personal column from NetApp Vice Chariman Tom Mendoza. Informative, well written content is strong and because it is features on is gains even more credibility and authority.


For the list of all winners and original article from BtoB Online, go to

Your Marketing Focus

December 5, 2012

Out of Focus by Tim Cummins @ FlickrWhether you have 5 or 50 people in your marketing team odds are that the demands for more whitepapers, a new website redesign, additional email campaigns, and overall more content creation are increasing. If recent reports like this one are any indication, marketers across the board are being pressured to produce more and more content.

How do you do it? The answer is focus.

The marketing focus I am talking about is not the concentration of all your efforts into producing content while forgetting everything else, but rather the focus of knowing exactly what type of content to produce.

I’ve seen big and small companies alike fall into this content creation trap. It starts with a brainstorming session to talk about all content that should be produced, followed by assigning priorities to each content piece and getting it in a schedule with respective owners assigned.

What’s wrong with this approach? It misses the point entirely. FOCUS means understanding what message you need to tell, then focusing on the story and making sure each content piece created tells and reinforces the same story.

It is less about creating a lot of content for creation sake but creating content that helps your audience (i.e. prospects) understand why your company is different and what story it is telling. To do that I like to ask marketing teams to get out of the brainstorming of content types (videos, whitepapers, ebooks, etc.) and think first of the topics, themes, or high-level stories that have to be told. Then we figure out which types of content will help tell that story. We focus on how to tell the story and disseminate the story so that we reach the higher number of prospects instead of just trying to create content like crazy.

Focus is the name of the game if you want to get more done with the same resources.

The Importance of Content Continuity

October 8, 2012

If good content marketing equates to telling a good story, then content continuity is getting that story to become memorable. Let me explain.

When you create a piece of content, why stop at the first distribution channel? Sure you can re-purpose the content so that it will be used at another channel but content continuity means more than simply taking the content and fitting it in another medium. It involves using that content and expanding it, working different angles, but keeping the core message intact. It’s not that difficult, but it requires some planning.

A good example might be that presentation one of your executives delivered at the trade show. The PowerPoint slides can be uploaded to SlideShare where people who didn’t attend the session can now access it (this is re-purposing the content). But if you take the presentation, and add a few more slides to it in order to emphasize a key message, or if you take that message and link it to a video or an eBook that reinforces the story, then you are creating continuity.

Why is this distinction important? First, because if you simply take the exact same message and just change the publishing format (from PowerPoint to video, for example) it may attract different readers but it doesn’t help promote or further expand the message, it’s just a rehash of what has already been said in another format. Second, if you simply repurpose content you already created then you may lose the opportunity to create important links between the multiple stories your products or services support.

So instead of creating pieces of content that stand alone, create a “content network” (for lack of a better term) in which each node reinforces another, where a story you started telling is continued and extended with the next piece of content.

Next time you create some content (eBook, whitepaper, blog article, video, etc.), don’t just publish and forget; think of it as part of a broader theme or story. Good stories don’t have to end and neither does your content (think of it as “Your Content – Part II”, like in Hollywood).

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