Keep Solving the Same Problem
This is the third in a series of posts on Agile Marketing – the working definition of which is to
“Create, communicate and deliver unique value to an always-changing consumer (or business) in an always-changing market with an always-changing product.”
When your product or your business is always changing and you ship daily, weekly, or monthly, how can you make sense of that when you share it with customers? (Read the original post here)
Principle 3: Marketing frequently shipped software requires the problems it solves to remain similar
The goal of your software should be to solve a problem that customers have, and to do it elegantly. The goal of marketing that product is to help customers understand how your software or service solves that problem better than anyone else. This is really important when you ship things all the time and run the risk of confusing your customers daily, weekly, or monthly with your updates.
How do you solve this problem? By continually reminding the customer that you are solving the same problem, even if the pieces and parts to solve that problem remain different. Revealing this core purpose allows you to sell a bigger idea (Google can make the world’s information more easily available; Evernote stores notes for you wherever you are; and Amazon makes it easier to buy stuff than you ever though possible). And it also isolates you when a new development update is delayed, confusing, or opaque.
And what does this mean in practice? At Assistly (where I help customers serve their customers) we build amazing customer service software. Our customers need help establishing best practices for making customers successful or help mapping what they do today into our software. Their ultimate goal is not to learn more about our software (well for some of them it is) but rather to get better at providing Wow customer service themselves.
Agile marketing makes the process of selling a frequently-shipped product easier by focusing on the what – what will the customer be able to do today with this improvement; the who – which customer benefits today from the improvement, and the why – why should they care? If you can answer these questions, you’ll remain relevant to the customer even on those days when they are just not sure why your new widget is important.
Do: tell them about a new way to use a feature that makes their life easier (e.g. How to configure a set of business rules to allow automatic off-hours acknowledgement when you’re not working). Don’t: tell them that if they’re not using the newest, coolest feature that they are doing something wrong If your new idea shows them how they can improve their business they will be more likely to want to try it. (And, even better, they will love it if you set up a test site for them that demonstrates this improvement)
Marketing frequently shipped product requires the problems you are solving to remain similar. That way, you can focus on the story – how your customer envisions themselves when they use your product – and less on the nuts and bolts that actually make your product go. I don’t mean to suggest that product updates are not important, and I do mean to suggest that placing these changes in a larger context makes it much easier for the customer to understand how your improvement fits into the larger product idea.