Book – Competing Against Luck

competing-against-luck.pngAnother wonderful Clayton M. Christensen book (I loved The Innovator’s Dilemma and The Innovator’s Solution).

The main idea is a need for an innovation guide that can help companies to focus their efforts.  Disruption, a theory of competitive response to innovation, does not have this advice.  The Jobs theory does, it explains why customers “hire” different products or services to do specific “jobs,” even if the same product or service can be “hired” to do different “jobs” by the same market segment.

A job is defined as the progress that a customer desires to make in a particular

“Big hire” – customer purchases the product
“Little hire” – customer uses the product (just purchasing the product is not enough for a successful fit, the customer needs to use the product to be satisfied with its performance for a specific “job.”

When customer “hires” a new product, an old solution needs to be “fired” – it is important to understand what needs to be fired for your product to be successful.

Jobs Theory not only provides a powerful guide for innovation, but also frames competition in a way that allows for real differentiation and long-term competitive advantage, provides a common language for organizations to understand customer behavior, and even enables leaders to articulate their company’s purpose with greater precision.

milkshake.pngUnderstanding of the “Job to be Done” that compels the customer to buy the product or service also helps to define the competitive environment and possible product substitutions.

Book’s opening example: customers “hire” a milkshake in the morning to drink during a boring commute (substitutes: bananas, doughnuts, etc.), or the same customers can “hire” a milkshake in the afternoon as a treat for a child (substitutes: toys, play, etc.).

“Jobs” based approach helps companies to segment their target audience better, including identification of non-consumers, for whom the current product is not better than choosing nothing at all.  Finding and satisfying sections of non-consumers can become a big opportunity for a company.

Example: small businesses would not use accounting software; they often used personal financial software to run their business, even if it was not designed for the business management.  The choice was based on the need to use a financial software, but lack of knowledge/desire to understand major accounting packages and obscure accounting terminology.  The solution: a small business accounting software with less features than traditional business  accounting software and as easy to use as a personal finance tool.

Most companies focus disproportionately on the functional dimensions of their customers’ jobs; but you should pay equally close attention to uncovering the emotional and social dimensions, as addressing all three dimensions is critical to your solution nailing the job.

Measurement of success: a company needs to define metrics based on the most important factors of the “job to be done” from the customer’s perspective, and track progress based on these metrics.

While there are many drivers of this drift away from the true north of the customer’s job, foremost among them is the tendency of managers to fall prey to the Three Fallacies of Innovation Data:

  • confused.pngThe Fallacy of Active Data Versus Passive Data: Instead of staying cognizant of and focused on the type of data that characterizes the rich complexity of the job (passive data), growing companies start to generate operations-related data (active data), which can seduce managers with its apparent objectivity and rigor but which tends to organize itself around products and customer characteristics, rather than Jobs to Be Done.

  • The Fallacy of Surface Growth: As companies make big investments in customer relationships, they focus their energies on driving growth through selling additional products to those customers or solving a broader set of their jobs, what we call surface growth—as opposed to staying focused on solving the core job better.

  • The Fallacy of Conforming Data: Managers focus on generating data that conforms to their preexisting business models.

Interesting: the “jobs to be done” approach can also be used in the internal organizational services, as mentioned in Hacking Marketing.

Excellent book (though I am a fan of the author 😉 ).

Book – Hacking Marketing

hacking.pngThe book shows parallels in recent metamorphosis of marketing discipline and transformations that happened in software development.  Learning from discoveries of software development industry can be very helpful as modern marketing is based on some kind of software or, at least, reaches its audience through some kind of software.

“Modern marketing management has a lot in common with software development management.”  If software industry found better methodologies to manage its needs, marketing can also be better managed using similar principles.

We are no longer engage into “digital marketing,” but rather marketing in a digital world.

Digital marketing is similar to channel marketing because the message is passing through layers of software, which can influence the interaction. We also do not have full control over the “digital channel.”

“Shadow marketing” is similar to Shadow IT; it defined as divergence from tightly scripted messaging and brand standards.

As agile development gained popularity, the same principles can be applied to marketing.

Relevant Original Agile Manifesto Values

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Responding to change over following a plan

Proposed Agile Marketing Manifesto Values

  • Many small experiments over a few large bets
  • Testing and data over opinions and conventions
  • Intimate customer tribes over impersonal mass markets
  • Engagement and transparency over official posturing

Marketing Kanban Board
(The board has five categories, typical for marketing. Test is considered A/B test, or any other marketing test, rather than QA.)


Additional granularity for marketing Kanban board, allowing to see clearly “push” and
“pull” difference in the process.


“Use your Kanban board as a management tool, not wall art”  🙂

Kanban board for multiple programs (though different teams should have different boards).


Stories (from marketing perspective):

As a [buyer’s role], I would like [content or experience] so that [benefit/reason why].

As a mid-funnel prospect, I would like a pricing guide or interactive pricing calculator so that we can determine whether your solution will fit in our budget.

Application of “jobs to be done” approach to the content marketing: 

What is the underlying “job” that the buyer wants to “hire” that content or experience to do?

Internal or “staff” stories:

As an [internal role], I would like [capability, data, etc.] so that [benefit/reason why].

As a marketing manager, I would like A/B testing software on our website so that I can experiment with different promotions on our home page.

Interesting difference between typical scrum and its marketing version: instead of the product owner and scrum muster, the marketing owner (typically the supervisor of the team) creates stories and manages the process.  The supervisor needs to be careful to allow collaboration and team initiative to thrive despite the role as a manager of the team.

Interesting: modern marketers would be better off thinking about their roles as “product managers” more than marketing managers.

mvp.pngMinimum Viable Product criteria from marketing perspective:

  • What marketing hypothesis does this MVP test?
  • What metric(s) will serve as evidence of its success?
  • What value does this MVP offer its audience?
  • Does the quality of the MVP reflect our brand?

Principles of “Big Testing:”

  • A willingness to test big ideas (unique approaches designed to overcome “local maximum” issue)
  • A “big tent” that encourages widespread testing across the company
  • An executive commitment to testing that makes it a big deal

a-b.PNG“For example, instead of just testing variations of a landing page that offers an e-book, we might test that concept against two very different alternatives: a landing page that promotes a webinar on the same material and an interactive assessment tool that lets participants evaluate their own readiness and suitability for a relevant solution.”

“One gauge of a  big idea is to ask this question: if the experiment  succeeds or fails, what will I have learned about my audience in the process? If there is an opportunity for the outcome to teach us something meaningful about our market that we can leverage moving forward – that makes the idea big.”

Exploration vs. Scalability


Interesting point – innovation and scalability need to be managed differently. 

“Essentially, we divide marketing into two realms; the edge of our organization, where innovations emerge, and the core of our business, where reliable operations run at scale.”

Innovation projects allow to bend the rules (as long as brand requirements are satisfied), administrative overhead is kept to a minimum, few formal processes or documentation requirements exists.  There is no need to institutionalize ideas that have low probability to become standard in the organization.

Core operations are managed differently, to allow maximum operational efficiency and optimization: repeatable campaign execution, dependable operations, well-defined and documented processes; knowledge is institutionalized with more formal training.

Innovation and Core are not necessarily separate teams.  Ideally, every team in marketing should have a mix of efforts they are pursuing in both realms. Typically, 70% core, and 30% exploration.

The dual approach is partially inspired by the concept of “bimodal IT,” also known as two-speed IT.  “The practice of managing two separate, coherent modes of IT delivery, one focused on stability and the other on agility.  Mode 1 is traditional and sequential, emphasizing safety and accuracy.  Mode 2 is exploratory and mom-linear, emphasizing agility and speed.”

Technology adoptionmartecs_law_600px.jpg

Approach to management of new technology: do fewer things, and do them well.

  • choose purposefully which innovations to adopt, and avoid taking on too many at once
  • don’t overengineer the innovations that you do adopt
  • intentionally sunset the outdated elements of your portfolio

over-complicated.PNGInteresting – the book discusses excessive complexity and the need to avoid it.  In Search of Excellence discussed the same topic over 30 years ago…  It does not look like the business community learned to avoid complexity over last 30 years; worse yet, in my opinion, now we have an excuse – complex technology!  If humans were over-complicating everything around more simple technology, do we have any hope now?  Hopefully, the complex technology will help us to simplify, as, at one point, our desire to over-complicate, coupled with complex technology, will create complexity that could not technically work.  🙂

Very good point on hiring and retaining marketing talent.  The differentiating factor will be not salaries and perks (general hygiene factors), but the opportunity to do great work.

“The companies that are best able to stir the minds and souls of the marketers they seek – and give them powerful organizational platforms on which to achieve great things – will dominate the talent war of modern marketing.”

BMA – Data-Driven Media Strategies


“SiriusDecisions is my therapist” noted one of the panelists describing all confusion of our industry.  SiriusDecisions mentioned that she was not alone in this opinion 🙂

The discussion was very practical: yes, there are marvelous new approaches and ideas in the industry, but “find something that works for you, not something that worked in the case study.”

Media – make sure you can actually measure success.

ABM is a combination of demand and awareness; it is an opportunity for a small company to look prominent for the right type of people. But “don’t get swiped into ABM – you still need to keep AQLs coming…”

Book – In Search of Excellence

excellence.pngThis book was written more than 30 years ago… remarkably, it describes the challenges which many companies are facing today.  Communism collapsed, companies described in the book transformed (though many performed better than communism 😉  ), Japanese competition was replaced with Chinese, and technology made our work lives easier or more difficult (depending on perspective).

The issues described in the book are not application of technology, what, as business community is discovering, is not as difficult as “people and process.”  And “People and Process” seem to struggle catching up with everything else.  Would we be able to progress as a society?  Or, would understanding of “People and Process” be the competitive advantage in the future?  As it seem to have been for a few thousands years…

  • communication.PNGExcellent companies are brilliant on the basics…
  • Process may become so complex, that it “captures action as a fly in a spider’s web and drains the life out of it.”
  • Problem with Planning: “the planning becomes an end in itself..”  (And we are still arguing 30 years later if agile approach makes sense for marketing 😉
  • “after you get organized, you might through the org chart away…”
  • complexity.pngIgnoring “economy of scale,” allowing duplication and occasional mistakes allows
    companies  not to coordinate everything, what, in general, is not possible
  • Excellent companies “do” their way into the strategies, not vise versa.  (Interesting – the description of “emergent” strategy approach used 30 years later…)
  • Purpose/culture: “Profit is like health.  You need it, and the more the better.  But it is not why you exist.”
  • Organizations are to be sailed rather than driven… effectiveness of leadership often depends on being able to time small interventions so that the force of natural organizational process amplifies the interventions rather than dampens them.
  • Simplification of the forms, process, etc,: “some companies don’t have these problems; people simply talk to each other on regular basis.”
  • recognition.pngChampions and volunteers are the driving force within the organization (what makes complete sense, but still not always used by many companies)
  • “Chaotic action is preferable to orderly inaction”
  • “..Love affair with complex systems that often hide an inability to manage the basics..”
  • People want to be winners (sales quota system that allows majority to meet the quota, is more encouraging than a system that allows only a minority to succeed)

Ah, technology will change again and again, and we will most likely spend most of our efforts on being a “perpetual newbie” of latest system.  Will we be able to mastery of “people and process?”

BMA – The Marketing Tech Stack of Tomorrow

stack.pngThe conversation about “marketing stack” started from a definition…  at this point of history, it is a “Franken-stack” with seemingly limitless number of tools and categories. In many cases, the technology can be in place, but it can do more than the organization is able to use.

From another side, despite thousands of tools available on the market, some questions can not be answered.  For example: what is it you are missing?  Do you have x% coverage?

What should marketers do?  How should marketers chose the next technology – particularly the technology for the next stage of the development of the organization, and this next stage can be quite different for different companies.

Interesting is hoping to provide this guidance.  growth.PNG

One of the aspect missing in the “stack” is actionable insights.  The data is available, but what should be done based on the available data is unclear.


Quite interesting – the “ideal report” that no tool can currently produce.


What is rather amazing… ThoughtSpot marketing is responsible for 80% of pipeline. Wow!

Book – Revenue Funnel Science

funnel.pngThe approach (created by FunnelWise) gives an excellent overview of the revenue funnel holistically, combining marketing and sales perspective.  In many cases, marketing is very knowledgeable about marketing part of the funnel, but can not recall sales stages; and sales have the same problem.  Organizational alignment can be easily checked based on the understanding of “the other side” of the funnel by functional groups.

Important to define clear business and technical criteria for funnel stages.  Interesting, splitting definitions into business and technical seem to be more and more common in the industry.

Though funnel is often perceived as a sequential movement of records, in reality, records move around and do not always follow expected route.  Funnel stages definitions are critical to understand the process.

Check definitions and descriptions of each stage:

  • Where do records enter the stage from?
  • How exactly do I know when they enter?
  • Where do they exist?
  • How exactly do I know when they exist?
  • Are these criteria documented and communicated across the business and everyone that interacts with records in this stage?

The main funnel is the aggregate of a variety of sub-funnels, which can be organized by:

  • individual sales rep
  • sales team/sales manager
  • lead sources/lead source detail
  • campaign or program
  • geography or region
  • industry of vertical
  • product or product line
  • business unit

Funnels might have different shapes:


“Top heavy” – some stages are not used properly (either skipped or there are no reduction in records going through).  Stages definitions might need to be reviewed.


“Upside-down” funnel on top and Closed Won records are entering directly into this stage. Could be related to the internal process issues or stage definitions (records are entering directly into later stages).


“Bulging funnel” – records are entering in a couple of stages – most likely process issue.


Fully “upside-down” funnel.  Funnels definitions need revisions, or the process is not being followed properly.

How to handle improvements: one aspect at a time; important to prioritize which improvement will get the most $$.

The book also suggests clear operational steps to keep sales and marketing on the same page, such as meeting schedule below.



















Very useful book for anybody in marketing or sales organization – highly recommend.