The Book on Account Based Marketing

The book is an interesting journey of discovering ABM. The author came to a realization that targeting only desired potential accounts made sense for the business he tried to grew. The approach also allowed investing into more elaborate marketing efforts, as the target audience was reasonably small.

Some of the most interesting aspects:

  • Creative approach to marketing based on ideas from any part of the organization. A new employee suggested to use a video… in a direct mail. Why not? The campaign was a success.
  • The author promoted a very narrow webinar, which would be interesting only for a particular prospect. The prospect found the topic irresistible, and signed up. The webinar was held for only one person (who did not know about this fact), and eventually lead to a sale.
  • Prioritization… The author emphasized the need for focus and thoughtful prioritization of the target audience to avoid costly distractions. Focus is difficult for startups, which might try to adjust the product to suit one large customer from a different segment. This lack of focus would be a mistake. Product and marketing resources need to be concentrated on a core market.

Book – Measure What Matters

Most people understand the need for objectives and some measurement of success. However, many of us experienced goal-setting exercises in a variety of companies, which, sometimes, made goals even more difficult to understand after they were set.

The book, and a companion site with useful and concise resources, give an excellent guidance on organizational goal setting and measurement of success.

I loved the idea of understandable goals, which could be distilled to the short list hanging in the company’s bathroom. The inspirational stories in the book were encouraging and uplifting; if a tiny startup can use the approach to clarify its direction, everybody can. And – based on the experience of other companies – the process is challenging enough and may not be done right from the first attempt. This is OK. This might be the first objective 🙂

Some simple tests to see if your OKRs are good:
— If you wrote them down in five minutes, they probably aren’t good. Think.
— If your objective doesn’t fit on one line, it probably isn’t crisp enough.
— If your KRs are expressed in team-internal terms (“Launch Foo 4.1”), they probably aren’t good. What matters isn’t the launch, but its impact. Why is Foo 4.1 important? Better: “Launch Foo 4.1 to improve sign-ups by 25 percent.” Or simply: “Improve sign-ups by 25 percent.”
— Use real dates. If every key result happens on the last day of the quarter, you likely don’t have a real plan.
— Make sure your key results are measurable: It must be possible to objectively assign a grade at the end of the quarter. “Improve sign-ups” isn’t a good key result. Better: “Improve daily sign-ups by 25 percent by May 1.”
— Make sure the metrics are unambiguous. If you say “1 million users,” is that all-time users or seven-day actives?
— If there are important activities on your team (or a significant fraction of its effort) that aren’t covered by
OKRs, add more.
— For larger groups, make OKRs hierarchical—have high level ones for the entire team, more detailed ones for subteams. Make sure that the “horizontal” OKRs (projects that need multiple teams to contribute) have supporting key results in each subteam.

OKRs and KPIs

OKRs have a soul and directionality to them. Your objective is what you want to accomplish. Your key results are how you get there. Since KPIs are measures, they make great key results. For example, a museum collects data on the number of visitors and number of donors and those serve as some of its KPIs. This museum in particular has an objective to: make the museum more relevant to the community. A good pair of key results would be: grow number of monthly visitors from the local area 30% by next quarter and host 2 community events focused on attracting local donors. Both KRs happen to incorporate the museum’s KPIs.

There is no competition, KPIs and OKRs complement each other. They both have their place in a wellfunctioning organization.

Book – This is Marketing

seth.pngSeth Godin summarizes many known (and loved) marketing concepts in his new book.  It is difficult to say which one of his books is my favorite, and a couple of books might be needed to make sure a new idea is firmly planted in my understanding.

The latest illustration of frequency concept is very vivid: don’t change your ads when you are tired of them, don’t change your ads when your coworkers are tired of them, don’t change your ads when your friends are tired of them, change your ads when your accountant is tired of them.

The most interesting (and new for me) idea in the book is Minimum Viable Market or a minimum viable audience. As Minimum Viable Product is a well-known concept, Minimum Viable Market should probably be considered at the same time.

Stake out the smallest market you can imagine. The smallest market that can sustain you, the smallest market you can adequately serve. This goes against everything you learned in capitalism school, but in fact, it’s the simplest way to matter.

When you have your eyes firmly focused on the minimum viable audience, you will double down on all the changes you seek to make. Your quality, your story and your impact will all get better.

And then, ironically enough, the word will spread.

Book – The DevOps Handbook

devops.pngTrying to understand better the concept of DevOps, I picked up the DevOps Handbook with the hope that my marketing curiosity would not be lost in a very technical text.  I was lucky.  The book is technical enough to keep the concepts real, but the main idea is communicated very clearly for a non-technical reader (or, in my case, listener).

DevOps is not a passing fad; it is a new way of thinking about software development, which is beneficial for companies’ bottom line and also personal lives of their employees.  DevOps is closer related to “process” than “code,” but anything touching the code needs to fit seamlessly into the process.

The book explains “shift left” known in the cybersecurity industry, which incorporates security earlier in the development cycle to speed up the creation of applications with “built-in” security thinking.

The book helps a marketer to appreciate the complexity and challenges of his target audience, and, hopefully, understand this audience a little better.

Book – HBR’s 10 Must-Reads 2019

hbr.pngHBR’s 10 Must-Reads seem to be part of holidays; it is thoughtful and entertaining.  The book format encourages to read not only articles which catch attention but also ones that seem less interesting and could be skipped on the website.  Very often, those “less interesting” articles happen to be the most insightful.

This year a couple of unexpected articles were particularly eye-opening (from my perspective 🙂 ).

Artificial Intelligence for the Real World puts in perspective the excitement generated around AI.  AI might be debated and discussed, but the practical applications may not yet be defined, or practical enough, or rather limited (based on my observation).  From another side, futurists are expecting AI to make a business impact somewhat similar to electricity.  As at one point of human history many known products became “electric,” many know products and processes are expected to become “smart” in the near future.  The article shows a practical route to the future “smart” world.

The Problem

Cognitive tecnologies are increasingly being used to solve business proglems, but many of the most ambitious AI projects encounter setbacks or fail.

The Approach

Companies should take an incremental rather than a transformative approach and focus on augmenting rather than replacing human capabilities.

Three types of AI:

  • Robotics process automation
    • “RPA is more advanced than earlier business-process automation tools, because the “robots” (that is, code on a server) act like a human inputting and consuming information from multiple IT systems.”
  • Cognitive insight
    • “This type of projects uses algorithms to detect patterns in vast volumes of data and interpret their meaning.”
  • Cognitive engagement
    • “Projects that engage employees and customers using natural language processing chatbots, intelligent agents, and machine learning.”

Interesting: based on the article, we are more likely to get an AI help in doing our jobs rather than to be replaced by AI, which is “smart enough” to do our jobs completely.


Why Do We Undervalue Competent Management?  explains the value of competent management for the organization and difficulties of copying this seemingly obvious approach.

Interesting: managers overestimate the quality of management in their companies.


Quality of management also varies across – and within – countries.  Below image represents US (blue) in comparison to worldwide (grey).


Wouldn’t it be nice to work for a company located on the right side of the chart?  🙂

Book – The Age of Agile

book.PNGI picked up the book thinking the volume will answer my doubts about common implementations of the agile process…  (Are waterfall stages called “sprints” really “agile”?)  The book answered a more fundamental question: what is an agile mindset?  No, it is not the form, or name, or roles, or meeting types.  It is a collection of small groups solving a puzzle of delighting the customer – one completed project at a time.

The book is trying to tackle a critical challenge: how a company should be organized in a modern environment?  The company needs to succeed in the VUKA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world; what gives the organization the best chance?

The challenge businesses face would not decrease, but is expected to accelerate with time.

rate of reture.PNG

Steven Danning suggests that a new management approach – agile – is the only known answer management should consider.  Even if the approach came from management-suspicious IT, it places the customer in the center and arms teams closest to the customer with the power to find and solve customer’s problems.  The approach works in tiny startups and large multinational corporations if it is supported by the organizational leadership and culture.

Interesting: it is not unusual for an organization starting its agile journey to struggle with “done” concept.   The project is “done,” when it is fully functional, can be used by the customer, and not a completed stage of a much larger undertaking.

Remarkably, the agile approach is good for customers (as the customer in the center), good for the employee engagement (as employees have the authority to solve customer problems and see the fruits of their work), and also good for employees as people (no “emergencies” devouring evenings and weekends).  And – this approach also makes (and keeps) the organization profitable.

The names of the teams,  meetings, and tasks can be anything we want 🙂


Book – Blue Ocean Shift


Excellent book!  As the Blue Ocean Strategy volume before it, the book is full of interesting examples.  This book also describes the process a company can use to shift its business to a “blue ocean” of customer value and reduced competition.

Blue Ocean Shift is possible in a variety of business areas (b-to-b and b-to-c), nonprofits, and even government institutions.


Examples of Blue Ocean Shift in different industries:

Citizen M hotel: a hotel targeted to a specific segment of travelers with a unique balance of services and price to delight its customers.






actifry.PNGActifry: how to create a better fryer?  Frying requires oil and customers perceived fried products as unhealthy; plus the danger of hot oil and oil disposal. Actifry created a new market and held market leadership thanks to timely secured patents.

maestro.pngMaestro for the masses: expansion of classical music to a new audience (people who normally do not listen to classical music); inclusion more accessible pieces into concerts and moving concerts to stadiums, which can accommodate a larger audience.

Malaysia‘s Community Rehabilitation Program: the program reduced the cost of isolating petty criminals (re-purposed unused military bases), isolated petty criminals from hardened criminals, and transferred the program to the rehabilitation objective rather than incarceration.  The prisoners had more contact with their families, learned marketable skills, and earned money during their incarceration.  The recidivism rate is a fraction of a “typical” prison system while costs are lower.

Excellent book!