• Manjunath Gowda

    Differentiate or Die – learning’s from the NPC -12 session

    Coming back to busy corporate life after NPC (NASSCOM Product Conclave – 2012) is like starting the second innings :) I thoroughly enjoyed being a core volunteer managing 140+ speakers, and the speaker lounge itself on the day of the event. Not just that but was also managing, choreographing and moderating the session “Differentiate or Die – there is a brutal market outside” with the speakers being Rajesh Setty and Bob Wright both from silicon valley and are champions in their own way in the field of marketing and has been delivering guest lectures and speeches on this topic for a long time, and many companies across the world are thoroughly benefited by them. It was time at NPC for Indian product startups to be benefitted by them.

    As much as I enjoyed being a moderator, creator and actually a spectator of his event, would like to bring the summary and core points to those who could not attend the event.  It was a 90 minute event with Raj going first on the stage and man he will tickle your funny bone but make no mistake, he will drive the point firm and hard and this is what I can summarize form his session:

    “Being part of crowd is cheap; being different is premium and just be different even if you are addressing a small segment” was his clear message. His idea was very clearly driven that if you have the will you can differentiate and still stand out in the crowd and best is he took an example of overcrowded and saturated market of cars to drive his point. He showed that even today and even in that “overcrowded-saturated-done & dusted” market people are finding ways to differentiate and thrive and survive and more important with profits. Take this: buy a car and there are 100s of brands and each one has a different story to tell – one is on safety, one is on family, one is on fast, one is luxury – all done and now you want to enter and how will you do? The common attribute among all is “owning the car”. Let’s change that to “renting the car” and then came a bunch of companies who do it, better, faster, quicker service, cheaper etc. and started another industry around this saturated car industry. Now what – further saturated and cannot go further – say most people but comes smart entrepreneurs who say the common attribute for all is “renting from airport” and lets change it to “renting from home or anywhere” and a new rental company comes up and again created a niche for itself!! Ok that’s it and you cannot do anything further on this market – come-on there should be a limit on a saturated market. So we all l thought but someone came out with a nice idea about renting cars in the locality of those which are sitting idle and why not rent it in the community and there starts another industry which says “why rent from a company” attribute – amazing isn’t it. If that is not enough another company comes and says “rent and drive” when you can “rent with a driver” and if that is not enough, there comes another company which says ride along so that we can zip faster on the “car-pool” lane. Isn’t it amazing on how an over saturated legacy industry can be even now differentiated!! And we complain how crowded the technology market is and we cannot differentiate at all – I think this should be an inspiring as well as an awakening story for all of us who complain about saturation in the technology market!!!

    Raj concluded with his Mantras which I feel are very critical and we should follow religiously which I list below:

    (Really) Decide to be different

    Don’t forget to create meaning – empathize with the people and their problems

    Most important, tell a good story

    More important than that, live up to the story (otherwise 1,2 & 3 has no meaning and will hit you on the face)

    And he ended up with a famous Buddhist Quote

    “When deciding among opportunities choose the most difficult path” – So true!!

    What an amazing presentation it was!!

    Then Bob followed with his presentation and was another amazing one straight to the point.  He is an expert in positioning which is nothing but differentiation and how you drive that differentiation into the minds of the prospect so that it is “positioned” well in that whatever mm by whatever mm size the brain is. Actually my theory is just create the best product and it will sell automatically with no gtm, positioning, marketing, branding, advertising, etc. etc. as long as  they are selected by a set of machines and not humans but as long as humans make the choice, make sure you do all these right!!!! :)

    He quoted Al Ries “Positioning in the mind of the prospect. It’s how you differentiate your solution in their mind. It cuts through the clutter. It focuses on the perceptions of the prospect”. According to Bob you should position customer centric and around his problem and what you are trying to solve and not product centric.  The 7 gems he stated which I repeat here are:

    Fortune 500 or SMB is not a market

    Who is your “Mary”? (Manju: Find that right person to who you like to sell and write down his characteristics – not all are same and you need to know the position and characteristics of the person you likely to sell)

    Own a problem (Manju: try stating the problem you own in less than 140 characters – give it a shot – if you can’t I say you are suffering from Laser Focus :) )

    Have a point of view

    Take a corner of the room (Manju: assume room is the market you are jumping into and don’t try to be everywhere in the room)

    Communicate with Stories (this story should answer why your company, how are you different and how will be life be better with your product)

    No geek-speak  (Manju: please don’t do this like talking on how many layers in TCP/IP and how you get through that network stack and how that packet flows and how IPSEC works and why the IPS and the IDS works the way it works etc etc – please address what problem you are solving for him)

    He ended his wonderful speech with a proposed 10-slide solution, which are

    • Slide 1: Big results from customers like you
    • Slide 2: recent market dynamics: your world has changed
    • Slide 3: Causing a big problem
    • Slide4: …And you may lose your job
    • Slide 5: Traditional approaches no longer work
    • Slide 6: what you need to fix the problem
    • Slide 7:The Answer: Our Company
    • Slide 8: 3-4 reasons why customers like to choose us
    • Slide 9: Cleaned up problem: How your life will be different
    • Slide 10: Call to Action

    I am just curious, how many slides talk about your technology? Almost None. Now have a look into your deck and see how different it is from the above. Call to action????

    Next, I will come out exclusively for “ProductNation” on not just differentiation but how to find one :) :) Watch out this space!!!!

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    Nov, 19
    2012
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